Categories
Holidays Neighborhoods Podcasts

The history of the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights: An electric holiday tradition illuminates Brooklyn

PODCAST: The history of the Dyker Heights Christmas lighting extravaganza, Brooklyn’s fabulous and flashy celebration of the holiday season. EPISODE 305 There’s a special kind of magic to Christmas in New York City. From that colossal Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center to the fanciful holiday displays in department store windows. But in the past three […]

Categories
Neighborhoods Podcasts

Secret Places of Upper Manhattan: Visit these 20 historic sites in Washington Heights and Inwood

PODCAST A tour of historic sites in Washington Heights and Inwood, an unusual set of landmarks and curious destinations that comprise almost 400 years of Upper Manhattan history. In Washington Heights and Inwood, the two Manhattan neighborhoods above West 155th Street, the New York grid plan begins to become irrelevant, with avenues and streets preferring to conform to northern Manhattan’s more […]

Categories
Neighborhoods Podcasts

The History of Columbus Circle: A Century of Controversy

Columbus Circle, a center of media and shopping at the entrance to Central Park, has a history that, well, runs against the grain. Counter-clockwise, if you will. LISTEN TO OUR NEW EPISODE HERE:   When the park was completed in the mid 19th century, a ‘Grand Circle’ was planned for a busy thoroughfare of horse-drawn […]

Categories
Neighborhoods Podcasts

The Story of SoHo: The Iron-Clad History of ‘Hell’s Hundred Acres’

PODCAST The history of SoHo, New York’s 19th century warehouse district turned shopping mecca Picture the neighborhood of SoHo (that’s right, South of Houston) in your head today, and you might get a headache. Crowded sidewalks on the weekend, filled with tourists, shoppers and vendors, could almost distract you from SoHo’s unique appeal as a […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

Two terrific, original NYC films, now streaming for free

Looking for something to watch this week or over the July 4th holiday? Two excellent films about New York City history and culture are now available for streaming for FREE and we are happy to recommend both to you:   Off Track Betty, a short dramatic film by Clayton Dean Smith, is a tribute (and […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

Remembering the General Slocum disaster (June 15, 1904)

The General Slocum Memorial Fountain, one of the sole reminders of one of New York City’s darkest days,  is not a very awe-inspiring memorial. This is no dig at the custodians of Tompkins Square Park, where the memorial has been on display since 1906, nor at Bruno Louis Zimm, the fountain’s sculptor whose creation presents […]

Categories
Neighborhoods Robert Moses

‘Citizen Jane’: A new film explores the legacies of Moses and Jacobs

FILM REVIEW The story of Robert Moses versus Jane Jacobs has grown to such an epic scale by this point that it scarcely represents reality anymore. Their legacies have taken on super heroic form — the Avengers of New York City history, if you will — representing the basic evils of corrupt government and the essential good of […]

Categories
Neighborhoods Wartime New York

Two strange secrets of DeWitt Clinton Park in Hell’s Kitchen

DeWitt Clinton Park, far west in Hell’s Kitchen between West 52nd and West 54th Streets, has two unusual features that harken to a time one hundred years ago — and millions of years ago! The park’s most striking feature is an unusual rock formation that juts out just west of the sports field. This unique […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

Open House New York 2016: Ten fascinating FREE places to visit

This weekend is the 14th Annual Open House New York, the city’s annual celebration of history, architecture and design.  Hundreds of places throughout the five boroughs will throw open their doors to visitors. So that weird old church you’ve always wanted to visit? It’s probably open.  Ever wanted to explore a neighborhood you’ve never been to but […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

Pokemon Go is indirectly an excellent mobile app for history buffs

This weekend I strolled around Carroll Park in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and observed at least 8 or 9 people staring intently at their phones, occasionally wiping their index fingers rapidly at the screen. In the center of the park is an 18-foot-tall World War I memorial dedicated in 1921, emblazoned with the names of those […]

Categories
Neighborhoods Preservation

Jane Jacobs, born 100 years ago today! Celebrate with a weekend walk.

Jane Butzner was born 100 years ago in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  Jane Jacobs died on April 25, 2006, in Toronto, Canada. But for much of her life in between, she changed the way people thought about cities from her perch in North America’s largest — New York City. Jane Jacobs was a revolutionary thinker in an age where […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

PODCAST REWIND: The Great Fire of 1835

The Great Fire of 1835 devastated the city during one freezing December evening, destroying hundreds of buildings and changing the face of Manhattan forever. It underscored the city’s need for a functioning water system and permanent fire department. So why were there so many people drinking champagne in the street? Listen in as we recount this […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

A Culinary Tour of the Lower East Side

PODCAST A flavorful walk through the Lower East Side, exploring the neighborhood’s most famous foods. Join Tom as he experience the tastes of another era by visiting some of the oldest culinary institutions of the Lower East Side. From McSorley’s to Katz’s, Russ & Daughters and Economy Candy — when did these shops open, who did […]

Categories
Brooklyn History Neighborhoods

GOWANUS! Brooklyn’s Troubled Waters

PODCAST The history of the Gowanus Canal, at the heart of a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood today, once used to be quite beautiful and non-toxic. Brooklyn’s Gowanus — both the creek and the canal — is one of the most mysterious and historically important waterways in New York City. By coincidence, it also happens to be among its […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

Where They Lived: Remembering the victims of The Triangle Factory Fire

On this day in 1911, late in the afternoon, fire swept through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, located on the upper floors of a ten-story building near Washington Square Park. Due to odious practices by the factory’s supervisors, the doorways were blocked and the fire escapes were in poor shape. Hundreds of employees, mostly young immigrant women, […]