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Christmas

The wildest Rockefeller Center Christmas display ever also caused an equally insane traffic jam

For the 1949 season, the caretakers of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree decided to go fantastically over the top. Just a few years earlier, New Yorkers were served up a plainly adorned tree with no electric lights, a reminder of the war in Europe and a nod to energy preservation.   But the war was […]

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Christmas

Holiday Trivia From the Bowery Boys’ book Adventures In Old New York

Looking for an easy gift idea this holiday season? Our book The Bowery Boys Adventures In Old New York would make a pretty amazing present for the holidays. Give it to loved ones who like history or New York City or to those who simply enjoy books with lots and lots of old pictures. (We lost count at […]

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Christmas Pop Culture

The real ‘Miracle On 34th Street’: 21 great historical details from New York City’s most famous Christmas movie

The Bowery Boys Obsessive Guides look very, very closely at a classic movie filmed in New York City, finding buried history, additional context and a few secrets within various scenes and plot points. Filled with film spoilers so read this after you’ve seen the movie — or use it to follow along as you watch […]

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Christmas

History In the Making 12/16: Miss Average Rockette Edition

Hmmm. The ludicrous graphic above ran in the New York Times Magazine, November 12, 1967. Keep in mind the word ‘topographically’ is most often used when describing places.  When I mentioned this graphic to a friend, he said, “They probably ran it so that admirers would know what size jewelry and furs to buy their […]

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Christmas Podcasts

American Kicks: A History of the Rockettes

Lifted spirits: The Rockettes practice for a 1964 productions. (Life/Arthur Rickerby) PODCAST The Rockettes are America’s best known dance troupe — and a staple of the holiday season — but you may not know the origin of this iconic New York City symbol. For one, they’re not even from the Big Apple! Formerly the Missouri […]

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Christmas Robert Moses

And Now … Two Christmas Poems By Robert Moses

My new column for A24 Films is up over on their 1981 site (in support of the film A Most Violent Year). 1981 was the year that Robert Moses died, and his death sparked new discussions into what his legacy to the New York City area truly was.  In a word: automobiles.  You can read […]

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Christmas

Santa Insanity: How a self-proclaimed Messiah and cult leader became a popular Santa Claus model

Early one spring day in 1922, while dutifully posing at the Art Students League on West 57th Street, Santa Claus had a fatal heart attack in front of a classroom of students. Below — He knows when you’ve been bad or good:  A Christmas issue of Judge Magazine from 1919 by Guy Lowy, who studied at the […]

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Christmas Neighborhoods Uncategorized

The lights of Madison Square: A Christmas tree at night

I’m not sure if the Madison Square annual Christmas tree was really the biggest in the entire world — as the 1913 Evening World at right suggests — but it was most certainly the largest in New York City. Its closest competitor in size would have been the City Hall Christmas tree. This unique tradition […]

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Christmas

Premiering this Friday: Our epic holiday podcast

And let’s just say, it should be a real show-stopper! Above: The cast of Shuffle Along, 1921 (Courtesy NYPL)

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Christmas

Pre-Scrooged: The Ghost of New York Christmas specials

A Bill Murray holiday classic is closely linked to a forgotten 1955 teleplay Tracing itself back to one of America’s first television broadcast station, New York’s local WCBS-TV can claim a host of significant achievements, including the first regular broadcasts in color and the first baseball game in color (with the Brooklyn Dodgers, naturally). Their […]

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Christmas

Christmas in the afternoon: A tour around Greeley Square

I’m not 100% sure on the date of this photo, but I’ll place it in the late 1940s, as Life photographer Nina Leen did a great many photoshoots for the magazine in this period. The statue of Horace Greeley sits astride the big Christmas tree as perfect afternoon light casts shadows upon the corner of 33rd and […]

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Christmas Newspapers and Newsies

A Very Special New York Newsies Christmas

The gritty image of the scrappy 19th century newsboy, the can-do kid slinging newspapers from the street corner, full of vinegar and character, was an encouraging invention of the newspapers themselves. Children were cheap labor, willing to sling stacks of freshly printed papers to corners across the city. Many kids preferred the profession to that […]

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Christmas

The Best Rockefeller Center Christmas Trees EVER

Not all Rockefeller Center Christmas trees are born alike. Once removed from their serene forest habitats, each winner of New York’s annual arboreal beauty pageant finds itself in a different set of circumstances, thanks to world circumstances and fashions of the day. The following trees deserve special commendation: 1931 The Original Tree By Although the […]