Going Up: New York got its first commercial elevator 160 years ago

Cast-iron construction, pioneered in America by architect James Bogardus in the 1850s, became the preferred method of building large dry goods shops and department stores in the mid- and late nineteenth century, thanks to the speed with which these enormous buildings could go up and the savings they presented over heavier, more cumbersome construction methods. Today … Continue reading Going Up: New York got its first commercial elevator 160 years ago

Come to our first live recorded show — NYC Podfest, April 9th in Brooklyn!

This April we will be recording a show in front of a live audience that will be released as an upcoming podcast — in honor of the 10th anniversary of recording the first episode of the Bowery Boys: New York City History. And we would really, really love for you to be a part of … Continue reading Come to our first live recorded show — NYC Podfest, April 9th in Brooklyn!

City of Memory: The Metropolitan Museum’s intimate New York exhibit

Up in one of those difficult-to-find rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art — so difficult that perhaps it simply vanishes after you leave it — is a series of 27 small oil paintings that one must view with a magnifying glass. The subjects of the paintings all reside in the same universe — a … Continue reading City of Memory: The Metropolitan Museum’s intimate New York exhibit

The Arrival of the Irish: An Immigrant Story

PODCAST One of the great narratives of American history — immigration — through the experiences of the Irish. You don’t have a New York City without the Irish. In fact, you don’t have a United States of America as we know it today. This diverse and misunderstood immigrant group began coming over from Ireland in significant numbers starting … Continue reading The Arrival of the Irish: An Immigrant Story

The New York Riots of 1964: Violent history with a haunting familiarity

One hot summer’s morning, in the neighborhood of Yorkville on the Upper East Side, high school student James Powell was shot and killed by police officer James Gilligan. Powell either attempted to stab the officer or else the unarmed boy was brutally set upon by a man with violent tendencies. Gilligan, a war veteran, was either … Continue reading The New York Riots of 1964: Violent history with a haunting familiarity

The Big Story Of Old Bet, America’s First Circus Elephant

PODCAST Before the American circus existed, animal menageries travelled the land, sometimes populated with exotic creatures. This is the story of the perhaps the most extraordinary wandering menagerie of all. This year marks the end to the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and, with it, the end of the traditional American circus. Once at the core of … Continue reading The Big Story Of Old Bet, America’s First Circus Elephant

Henry Street Settlement and the Legacy of Lillian Wald

Without perhaps intending it, social services pioneer Lillian Wald, in her desire to help thousands of poor immigrant women and children in the Lower East Side, also saved a rare and forgotten part of New York City history. The modern Henry Street Settlement is spread throughout several buildings in the neighborhood, providing health care, shelter, … Continue reading Henry Street Settlement and the Legacy of Lillian Wald

Here’s how to view the new display ‘New York 1942’ at Gracie Mansion

Seventy-five years ago, in 1942, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses convinced Mayor Fiorello La Guardia to move his family from their home in East Harlem (Fifth Avenue and 109th Street) to an old mansion in Carl Schurz Park. It was the former home to merchant Archibald Gracie, built in 1799, to look out at the ships … Continue reading Here’s how to view the new display ‘New York 1942’ at Gracie Mansion

The 2017 GANYC Apple Award Winners including Nathan’s, Governors Island and us (!)

The 2017 GANYC Apple Awards, recognizing achievements in New York City tourism, culture and preservation, were held last night at the SVA Theater in Chelsea.  It was quite a bawdy, rambunctious evening thanks to the host, cabaret star Mark Nadler, and a friendly, diverse line-up of presenters. We were absolutely shocked to be honored last … Continue reading The 2017 GANYC Apple Award Winners including Nathan’s, Governors Island and us (!)

Presenting the Algonquin Round Table: The wits of New York’s Jazz Age

PODCAST The enduring legacy of the Algonquin Round Table and the brilliant (and sometimes forgotten) people who made it famous. One June afternoon in the spring of 1919, a group of writers and theatrical folk got together at the Algonquin Hotel to roast the inimitable Alexander Woollcott, the trenchant theater critic for the New York Times … Continue reading Presenting the Algonquin Round Table: The wits of New York’s Jazz Age