My debut on the Travel Channel, chatting about the Astor Place Riot

This past week I made my debut on the Travel Channel as a guest on Mysteries At The Museum hosted by Don Wildman.   The show explores history via actual objects is various museums throughout the United States.  The subject this time around was the Astor Place Riot.  The object in focus: A copy of Macbeth … Continue reading My debut on the Travel Channel, chatting about the Astor Place Riot

The 1965 New York World’s Fair: Opening Day

The New York World’s Fair opened for its second and last season on April 21, 1965.  The grand opening the previous year had been rocky indeed — protests, rain, even a parking lot riot.  Thankfully the second season was met with beautiful weather and abundant crowds.  In order to jazz it up a bit — not … Continue reading The 1965 New York World’s Fair: Opening Day

Chelsea Piers: New York City
 in the Age of the Ocean Liner

PODCAST The Chelsea Piers were once New York City’s portal to the world, a series of long docks along the west side of Manhattan that accommodated some of the most luxurious ocean liners of the early 20th century. Passenger ocean travel became feasible in the mid 19th century due to innovations in steam transportation, allowing for … Continue reading Chelsea Piers: New York City
 in the Age of the Ocean Liner

The Lusitania’s final voyage, breathlessly told

They said the Lusitania couldn’t be sunk. The German telegrams to the contrary were merely cheap scare tactics. Besides, England will provide protection once in their heavily guarded waters. The boat is simply too big to sink. There are plenty of lifeboats, enough for the entire passenger list. Even those in steerage! And the best one — … Continue reading The Lusitania’s final voyage, breathlessly told

New York’s Poignant Memorial to Lincoln’s Death Is In A Very Odd Place

Abraham Lincoln died 150 years ago today in a Washington DC rowhouse, shot and killed by the actor John Wilkes Booth while the president was attending a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater the previous evening. The news hit the North as some sort of horrible dream.  Confederate general Robert E Lee had just surrendered … Continue reading New York’s Poignant Memorial to Lincoln’s Death Is In A Very Odd Place

History in the Making 4/9: The Appomattox Surrender Edition

“PEACE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE SO DISTANT”: One hundred and fifty years ago today,  Robert E Lee surrendered the Virginia army to Ulysses S. Grant. This ended the American Civil War, more or less. It took several days for the news to get around of course. The last recognized battle of the Civil War … Continue reading History in the Making 4/9: The Appomattox Surrender Edition

The Monster Tree: A California Sequoia Visits New York City 1855

The mighty Sequoia tree,  principally existing today in northern California, embodied the breathtaking diversity of the North American continent when it was first discovered by European explorers in the 1830s.  The Native American tribes of the west coast revered them.  Early European explorers too marveled at this display of nature’s great flourish, spinning fantastic tales of ‘monster … Continue reading The Monster Tree: A California Sequoia Visits New York City 1855

Happy 100th birthday Billie Holiday! Five ways to celebrate a century of music

                The great Billie Holiday was born 100 years ago today. This requires spending some of your day listening to a greatest hits album, I hope. But here are five other ways you can celebrate this icon’s life this week: 1) Watch Diana Ross in Lady Sings The … Continue reading Happy 100th birthday Billie Holiday! Five ways to celebrate a century of music

Bryant Park: The Fall and Rise of Midtown’s Most Elegant Public Space

NEW PODCAST  In our last show, we left the space that would become Bryant Park as a disaster area; its former inhabitant, the old Crystal Palace, had tragically burned to the ground in 1858.  The area was called Reservoir Square for its proximity to the imposing Egyptian-like structure to its east, but it wouldn’t keep that name for … Continue reading Bryant Park: The Fall and Rise of Midtown’s Most Elegant Public Space

Shameless Urchins and Mighty Frauds: 19th Century Views of April Fools Day

The celebration of April Fools Day traces back to the Middle Ages and possibly as far back as the Roman era. In the mid-19th century, the unofficial holiday for pranks provided a good excuse to attack political opponents.  Here are a couple samples of writing from New York publications from this period which I’m quoting at … Continue reading Shameless Urchins and Mighty Frauds: 19th Century Views of April Fools Day