Category Archives: Preservation

Presenting The 3rd Annual GANYC Apple Awards Nominees

The Guides Association of New York City (or GANYC), founded in 1974, brings together the finest independent, professional tour guides in the city.  And since 2015 they have presented awards to the community, “honoring individuals and organizations that encourage and promote New York City tourism, culture and preservation while supporting the work and contributions of professional New York City tour guides.”

The 3rd Annual GANYC Apple Award nominations were announced last month, and we are honored to be included on this list this year for our book The Bowery Boys’ Adventures In Old New York.

The complete list of nominations are below. Tickets are available to the general public so come out and see the show! The awards ceremony this year is held on March 6 at the SVA Theatre in Chelsea, with cabaret performer Mark Nadler as your host.  Tickets are $50 and you can grab them here. And you can find more information on the event here.

 

Outstanding Achievement in Support of New York City Culture

Gene Russianoff, Staff Attorney & Chief Spokesman, Straphangers Campaign for NYPIRG

Billy Mitchell, Tour Director, Apollo Theater

Leslie Koch, President and CEO, The Trust for Governors Island

Alan Gilbert, Music Director, NY Philharmonic

(Past winners include Susan Henshaw Jones and Ronay Menschel of the Museum of the City of New York and Kathleen O’Connor at the New-York Historical Society)

Outstanding Achievement in Support of New York City Tourism

Evelyn Hill Inc. At The Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Fred Dixon, President & CEO, NYC & Company

Luna Park NYC

Central Park Conservancy

(Past winners include Gregory Wessner of Open House New York, and Justin Ferate)

Outstanding Achievement in Support of New York City Preservation

Bronx Zoo

Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director, Historic Districts Council

Steve Zeitlin, Founding Director, City Lore

Working Harbor Committee

(Past winners include Jeremiah Moss and Friends of the High Line)

Outstanding New York City Website

Curbed NY

Beautiful New York 

Ephemeral New York 

EV Grieve 

(Past winners include Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York and Forgotten New York)

Outstanding Achievement in Radio Program/Podcasts (audio/spoken word)

The New Yorker Radio Hour, WNYC

There Goes the Neighborhood, WNYC

Inside New York Tourism, City World Radio

Z Travel and Leisure, WVOX

(Past winners include the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC — and the Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast)

Outstanding Achievement in New York City Food (focusing on anniversaries and special accomplishments)

Carnegie Deli

Danny Meyer, USHG, Making History in the NYC Hospitality Industry

Nathan’s Famous

Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop

(Past winners include Yonah Schimmel Knishery and Russ & Daughters)

Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Book Writing (published October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016)

Store Front II A History Preserved: The Disappearing Face of New York, by James and Karla Murray

Food and the City: New York’s Professional Chefs, Restaurateurs, Line Cooks, Street Vendors, and Purveyors Talk About What They Do and Why They Do It, by Ina Yalof

The Bowery Boys: Adventures in Old New York, by Tom Meyers and Greg Young

Governors Island Explorers Guide by Kevin Fitzpatrick

(Past winners include Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks, edited by Donald Albrecht and Andrew Dolkart, Iwan Baan photographer, and William B. Helmreich The New York Nobody Knows)

Outstanding Achievement in Fiction Book Writing (published October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016)

The Dollhouse: A Novel, by Fiona Davis

Sweetbitter: A novel, by Stephanie Danler

The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin

Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson

(Past winners include City on Fire: A Novel by Garth Risk Hallberg)

Outstanding Achievement in Essay/Article/Series Writing (published October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016)

A Walking Tour of 1866 New York: In the Footsteps of 150-year-old Guidebooks, by James Nevius, Curbed NY

Camera Obscura, Curbed NY

Even in New York City, Nature’s All Around Us If We Want to See It, by Ariel Lauren Wilson, Edible Brooklyn

Ian Frazier for The New Yorker

(Past winners include Grub Street: New York Magazine and Christopher Gray, formerly of Streetscapes, New York Times)

Outstanding Achievement in New York City Museum Exhibitions (October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016)

Hidden in Plain Sight: Portraits of Hunger in NYC, Brooklyn Historical Society

America to Zanzibar: Muslim Culture Near and Far, Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Jacob A Riis: Revealing New York’s Other Half, Museum of the City of New York

Yiddish Theater From Bowery to Broadway, Museum of the City of New York

(Past winners include Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life, New York Botanical Garden and Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile, Museum of the City of New York)

Outstanding Achievement in New York City Photography (singular image, published October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016)

Mike McLaughlin, Manhattan Bridge, Curbed Photo Pool

Nathan Kensinger, Bronx Casitas 

Paul Kessel, Coney Island

Nathan Kensinger, Port Morris 

(Past winners include Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao with his winning image High Bridge for the New York Times)

Author and tour leader Anthony W. Robins will be presented with the 2017 Guiding Spirit honor.  And the 2017 GANYC Apple Award Lifetime Achievement Winner will be given to cabaret icon Steve Ross! Here’s a bit of Ross tackling some Cole Porter…..

 

The image at top is F. V Carpenters’ paper artwork Manhattan Skyline, courtesy Museum of the City of New  York

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 ‘big ideas’ shaped cities. City planners thought about grand plans, not street corners. Jacobs became a breakout philosopher on everyday urban living, revealing practical realities that were completely misunderstood by those making real decisions.

Without Jacobs — and the countless activists and preservationists before and after her — we would not have New York City 2016. (You can take that statement both as a tribute and perhaps as a sly criticism as well.)

Now I didn’t know Jane, but I’m pretty sure she would like you to celebrate her birthday in one of the two following ways:  1) Go to your favorite neighborhood in New York City and spend money there at local businesses, or 2) Go to a neighborhood you’ve never been to before and learn everything you can about it. 

Of course, before cutting the birthday cake today, why not listen to the Bowery Boys 200th episode celebration of the life of Jane Jacobs? The podcast includes audio from Jane herself, waxing on about the creation of her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

If you’re looking for something to read today about Jacobs, by all means, jump into Death and Life or perhaps one of these books.

Today’s Google Doodle, celebrating Jane’s 100th birthday:

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 8.03.55 AM

After that, plan on joining one of the many Jane’s Walks this weekend, sponsored by the Municipal Art Society of New York. There are dozens and dozens of free walking tours, from May 6-8, that you’re sure to find one right in your back yard. (Maybe literally your back yard if you live somewhere historic!)

Check out the entire list right here and plan out a whole weekend of adventures.  Below is a list of ten notable tours that caught my eye and sound like exceptionally unique ways to spend an afternoon.  Plus an extra one that I’m personally invested in:

Times Square 1975. Courtesy Getty Images via Gothamist
Times Square 1975. Courtesy Getty Images via Gothamist

DIRTY OLD TIMES SQUARE
Manhattan, Meet at Duffy Square
Friday, May 6, at 1pm, 2 hours
Details here
Tag line: “Most of old Times Square has been carefully obliterated by generic hotels and office buildings, but there are still vestiges of its seedy past—if you know where to look.”
Led by Robert Brenner

HOW AUDUBON PARK DISRUPTED MANHATTAN’S GRID
Manhattan, Meet at Audubon Monument, 550 West 155th Street
Friday, May 6, at 6pm, 1.5 hours
Saturday, May 7, 1:30pm
Sunday, May 8, 11am and 2pm
Details here
Tag line: “The distinctive footprint that disrupts Manhattan’s grid west of Broadway between 155th and 158th Streets—the Audubon Park Historic District—did not come about by accident or from the demands of local topography.”
Led by Matthew Spady

Photograph by Helen Barksy, 1971. Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York
Photograph by Helen Barksy, 1971. Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York

EL BARRIO DREAMS: FOOD, ART, CULTURE (AND CHANGE)
Manhattan, Meet at Vendy Plaza (Park Avenue and 116th Street
Sunday, May 8, 1pm
Details here
Led by Flaco Navaja
Tag line: “Our walking tour will explore the dynamics of a community in flux, looking at the history of East Harlem and the political and cultural significance of that history, as well as examining competing visions for the neighborhood’s future. ”

THE LOST HIGH LINE
Manhattan, Meet at NW corner of Washington & Houston Streets
Saturday, May 7, 11am
Details here
Tag line: “Today, that remaining section of the High Line has become one of the city’s major attractions. But what about the ghosts of the past along its southern route?”
Led by Joan Schechter

The littlest residents of former Little Syria. Courtesy Library of Congress
The littlest residents of former Little Syria. Courtesy Library of Congress

MANHATTAN’S LITTLE SYRIA: THE HEART OF ARAB AMERICA
Manhattan, Meet at St. George’s Syrian Catholic Church
Sunday, May 8, at 10:30am
Details here
Tag line: “Immigration to the United States from the territories of Greater Syria — now Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine — began in the 1870s and 1880s. The most important neighborhood of the immigration — and its economic and cultural heart — was along Washington Street in the Lower West Side of Manhattan.”
Led by Todd Fine

THE BRONX’S MAIN STREET: WALKING THE GRAND CONCOURSE
The Bronx, Meet at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, North Wing Lobby
Saturday, May 7, 11am
Details here 
Tag line: “While visiting key sites along this major thoroughfare, Goodman will provide a brief history of the Grand Concourse and explain the development of its diverse neighborhoods and communities.”
Led by Sam Goodman

Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

HISTORIC JACKSON HEIGHTS – AMERICA’S FIRST GARDEN APARTMENTS
Queens, Meet at the Chase Bank @ 75th Street and Roosevelt
Saturday, May 7, 11:30am
Sunday, May 8, 11:30 am
Details here
Tag line: “We’ll explore the architectural qualities of Jackson Heights, developed by Edward A. MacDougall of the Queensboro Corporation in 1916. The neighborhood contains a variety of architectural styles with private gardens at the center of each city block.”
Led by Michael Limaco

ON LOCATION: THE VITAGRAPH STUDIOS AND THE HISTORY OF FILM IN MIDLAND BROOKLYN
Brooklyn, meet at Midwood Development Corporation
Sunday, May 8, 3PM
Details here
Tag line: “At Avenue M and 14th street, The Vitagraph Company of America built the nation’s first modern film studio in 1906, where it operated until 1925 as one of the most prolific moving picture companies in the world, making Brooklyn the epicenter of film production long before Hollywood.”
Led By Nellie Perera and Melissa Frizzling

Photo courtesy the US Coast Guard
Photo courtesy the US Coast Guard

TIBET, OPERA, AND THE LUCKY CHARMS LEPRECHAUN: EXPLORING THE HIDDEN GEMS OF LIGHTHOUSE HILL
Staten Island, meet at the clubhouse of Latourette Golf Course on Edinboro Road
Saturday, May 7, 3PM
Details here
Tag line: “Himalayan Buildings, a working lighthouse, a golf course and a widow’s walk are just some of the interesting sights we will see. Some of the historical tidbits include “Why is the neighborhood called Lighthouse Hill?” and “Why are the streets named after places in the UK?” and “What notable people lived here?””
Led By Meg Ventrudo

THE HILLS ARE ALIVE!
Governors Island, meet at the Battery Maritime Building
Friday, May 6, at noon
Details here
Tag line: “See New York Harbor from a breathtaking new vantage point 70 feet in the air. Here is your chance to have a sneak peek at the newly planted Hills on Governors Island before they open to the public this summer.”
Led By Ellen Cavanagh

 

And finally, if you happen to be around Chelsea and the West Village on Saturday, check into the fascinatng tour below led by Kyle Supley. If all goes according to plane, I’ll be making a guest appearance during the tour, speaking at one particular location. Unfortunately, I will not be wearing chaps to this event!

GAY BARS THAT ARE GONE
Manhattan, meet at 515 West 18th Street
Saturday, May 7, 7pm
Details here
Led by Kyle Supley
Tag line: “Past patrons, NYC history buffs, and those just looking for a good time, take note! From ballrooms to discos to piano bars, we’ll observe the shifting typology of the gay bar. Together, we’ll cover everything from the raids to the raves.”

Jane Jacobs: Saving Greenwich Village

PODCAST The story of Jane Jacobs, the urban activist and writer who changed the way we live in cities and her fights to preserve Greenwich Village in the 1950s and ’60s.

 

Washington Square Park torn in two. The West Village erased and re-written. Soho, Little Italy and the Lower East Side ripped asunder by an elevated highway. This is what would have happened in New York City in the 1950s and 60s if not for enraged residents and community activists, lead and inspired by a woman from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Jane Jacobs is one of the most important urban thinkers of the 20th century. As a young woman, she fell in love with Greenwich Village (and met her husband there) which contained a unique alchemy of life and culture that one could only find in an urban area. As an adroit and intuitive architectural writer, she formed ideas about urban development that flew in the face of mainstream city planning. As a community activist, she fought for her own neighborhood and set an example for other embattled districts in New York City.

Her legacy is fascinating, often radical and not always positive for cities in 2016. But she is an extraordinary New Yorker, and for our 200th episode, we had to celebrate this remarkable woman on the 100th anniversary of her birth.

FEATURING: Mrs. Jacobs herself in clips interspersed through the show.

PLUS: ROOOOBERT MOOOOSES!

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and TuneIn streaming radio from your mobile devices.

Or listen to it straight from here:
The Bowery Boys #200: JANE JACOBS: SAVING THE VILLAGE

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We are now producing a new Bowery Boys podcast every two weeks.  We’re also looking to improve the show in other ways and expand in other ways as well — through publishing, social media, live events and other forms of media.  But we can only do this with your help!

We are now a member of Patreon, a patronage platform where you can support your favorite content creators for as little as a $1 a month.

Please visit our page on Patreon and watch a short video of us recording the show and talking about our expansion plans.  If you’d like to help out, there are five different pledge levels (and with clever names too — Mannahatta, New Amsterdam, Five Points, Gilded Age, Jazz Age and Empire State). Check them out and consider being a sponsor.

We greatly appreciate our listeners and readers and thank you for joining us on this journey so far. And the best is yet to come!

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Jacobs at the White Horse Tavern, sometime in the 1960s. Jane lived on the block!

Cervin Robinson/New York Times (http://cervinrobinson.com/)
Photography by Cervin Robinson/New York Times. Visit his website for more extraordinary images of New York City (http://cervinrobinson.com/)

 

Jacobs in Washington Square Park (though I believe this is 1963 and not during the 1958 protest).

Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images
Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images

 

Washington Square Park in 1935. The 1958 activists were so successful in their goal of saving the park that they were able to banish automobile traffic from it entirely.

New York Parks Department
New York Parks Department

 

What Moses had planned for the park:

NYPL
NYPL

Robert Moses, pictured here in Brooklyn in 1956. Although he frequently situated as the arch-nemesis to Jane Jacobs, in fact they were rarely in the same room together.  Their battles were fought in the press and in City Hall.

AP
AP

Jacobs presenting damning evidence about the proposed West Village demolition, taken at their main headquarters the Lion’s  Head, in 1961 at the corner of Hudson and Charles Streets.

Jane_Jacobs

Jane Jacobs and her son Ned in 1961, during the West Village protests.  The Xs were placed on buildings to be condemned. Activists wore sunglasses with Xs on the lenses in protest.

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Photo courtesy Aesthetic Realism

 

The February 21, 1961, article from the New York Times which riled up the West Village. The  East Side project would eventually become Haven Plaza Apartments, but residents would fight off the designation in the West Village.

Untitled

January 01, 1963 — Jacobs protests the destruction of Pennsylvania Station with architect Philip Johnson.

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A map of the Lower Manhattan Expressway. Although this plan never came to fruition, the stack of buildings near the bridges seems to be coming to pass — on the Brooklyn side!

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

Another sketch by Paul Rudolph” of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, showing the new construction from the Holland Tunnel as it enters through Manhattan.

paul

 

Jane Jacobs in Toronto, Dec. 21, 1968. She would continue her activism there, helping other community activists in foiling plans to build the Spadina Expressway.

SCANNED FROM THE TORONTO STAR LIBRARY *U42 GRAPHIC Jane Jacobs outside her home on Spadina Road just north of Bloor Street. Photo taken by Frank Lennon/Toronto Star Dec. 21, 1968. Also published 19730425 with caption: Jane Jacobs. Urban affairs expert. Also published 19740520 with caption: Toronto's in good shape, says author Jane Jacobs, but "We've got to be thinking about how we make sure it stays that way." Just being Canadian gives it some advantage, she says, but she fears amalgamation will bring some of the problems of cities like New York.
TORONTO STAR LIBRARY

 

The Second Annual Apple Awards! Honoring the Best of New York

The Second Annual 2016 GANYC Apple Awards, honoring the best in New York City preservation, tourism and culture, arrives this March again to the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater at Symphony Space.  We were honored to be chosen for an award last year in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Radio Program/Podcasts. And this year, we’re showing up to present an award!

This year’s ceremony is on Monday, March 7, 2016 at 8 pm.  There are some tickets left so get yours directly from Symphony Space here.

Here are this years honorees. Congratulations, good luck to the nominees and we’ll see you all on March 7:

 

Outstanding Achievement in Support of New York City  — Culture

 

Outstanding Achievement in Support of New York City — Tourism

 

Outstanding Achievement in Support of New York City — Preservation

 

Outstanding NYC Website

 

Outstanding Achievement in Radio Program/Podcast (Audio/Spoken Word)

 

Outstanding Achievement in NYC Food (focusing on anniversaries and special accomplishments)

  • Yonah Schimmel Knishery: Celebrating 125 Years
  • Danny Meyer, Union Square Hospitality Group: Hospitality Included Program started November, 2015
  • Marcus Samuelsson: Bringing the quality food scene back to Harlem starting with Red Rooster, 2010
  • Lou, Salvatore & Marie Di Palo, Di Palo’s: Celebrating 90 years on Mott & Grand streets

 

Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction Book Writing 

 

Outstanding Achievement in Fiction Book Writing 

 

Outstanding Achievement in Essay/Article/Series Writing 

 

Outstanding Achievement in NYC Museum Exhibitions 

 

Outstanding Achievement in NYC Photography (singular image, published October 2015-15)

PLUS:  A special lifetime achievement award will be presented to Marjorie Eliot, best known for her Sunday afternoon parlor jazz concerts at 555 Edgecombe Avenue, one of the most historic address in Harlem.

“A writer, actress and pianist, Eliot began the parlor jazz concerts as a tribute to her son Philip, who died in 1992. In addition to memorializing her son and helping ease the pain of his loss, these sessions keep alive the tradition of parlor jazz and rent parties from the bygone days of Harlem. The concerts have attracted jazz lovers from around New York and around the globe, who cram 50 at a time into apartment 3-F to hear world-class jazz each and every Sunday — she has yet to miss a Sunday since starting the series.

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Photo by Paul Lomax/Uptown Collective

Jane’s Walk 2015: Ten Recommended Free Tours (And Over 100 More!)

Above: This is the Bowery, 110 years ago.  One of the recommended Jane’s Walks highlights the rapid changes along this historic street. (Picture courtesy Shorpy)

 

There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans. — Jane Jacobs 

Jane’s Walk 2015, the annual celebration of New York City (and Spring, for that matter) named for the influential urban activist, arrives this Friday. In New York, this festival of walking tours is hosted by the Municipal Art Society, providing a great way to mix discussions of history, architecture and preservation with a little healthy exercise.

There are over 100 tours available and they’re all free. You could literally fill your entire weekend with activities. The first tour begins Friday morning at 10 am, the last on Sunday at 5:30pm.

You would be insane not to participate in at least one! Here are ten that particularly fascinate me this year. But this is just my opinion. Check out the full list on the Jane’s Walk site and find one that best suits your interests.

Please visit the individual pages devoted to these tours for updated timing and meeting-place information.

Grant Square from Bergen Street, in the neighborhood of Crown Heights (Picture courtesy the Museum of the City of New York)
Grant Square from Bergen Street, in the neighborhood of Crown Heights (Picture courtesy the Museum of the City of New York)

Brooklyn

 Brooklyn Bridge Park Sneak Peak: Pier 6 Parkland — There are so many good tours of Brooklyn neighborhoods this year, but who can resist one that requires you to wear a hard hat? From walk organizer Patricia Kirshner: “The Pier 6 landscape will complete construction of the outer two-thirds of the pier. Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., the design includes planted areas that will provide a counterpoint to the adjacent active program at Piers 5 and 6. A seasonally vivid flower meadow, winding pathway and lush perimeter plantings will introduce new ecosystems to the southern end of the park.”  [More information here]

 May 1, 2015 | 06:00 PM

Jewels In The Crown: Crown Heights – This time-traveling tour within the heart of Brooklyn – highlighting some spectacular homes from the days when the borough was a proud, independent city — should prove quite spirited as led by Irv Weitzman. “Crown Heights is a neighborhood rich with history and architectural contrasts. Some of the biggest mansions in New York City exist next to row-houses, some with front gardens, as well as elegant (past and present) and dilapidated apartment houses. It contains one of the widest boulevards in New York City as well as two of Brooklyn’s longest streets. It is the historical home of the Brooklyn Dodgers (the ONLY Dodgers — L.A. is simply not recognized whereas Yankee fans are cautioned).” [More information here]

 May 3, 2015 | 11:00 AM

 

An apartment building along the Grand Concourse, taken between 1900-1925,  photo by the Wurts Brothers (Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York)
An apartment building along the Grand Concourse, taken between 1900-1925, photo by the Wurts Brothers (Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York)

The Bronx

 1920s & 1930s Bronx Apartment Heaven – This tour highlights one of my favorite eras of Bronx history, when vast development granted the young borough some of the city’s most glamorous architecture. From tour guide Cuyler Christianson: “When the subway reached the Pelham Parkway South neighborhood between 1917 and 1920, a feast of beautiful six-story apartment buildings went up over the twenty years that followed. Styles include Art Deco, Art Moderne, Tudor, Mediterranean, Renaissance, etc. Over time, the neighborhood would transition many times and today contains a classic New York mixture living in harmony in this neighborhood known for it’s a low crime rate and the beautiful buildings that remain!” [More information here]

May 2, 2015 | 01:00 PM and May 3, 2015 | 01:00 PM

 

Fulton and Water streets with Schermerhorn Row in the distance. Photo by Edmund V Gillon (courtesy the Museum of the City of New York)
Fulton and Water streets with Schermerhorn Row in the distance. Photo by Edmund V Gillon (courtesy the Museum of the City of New York)

 

Manhattan

The South Street Seaport Walk – Given the unique challenges facing this neighborhood today – and its somewhat discombobulated state – you’ll really need a tour to sort out its fascinating history and its uncertain future. Luckily guide David Sheldon is proving three different times over two days. “We will be looking firsthand at the many elements that define the character of this District: It’s vessels, buildings, Museum, views, history, and markets. From the waterline to the masthead, pavement to rooftops, from the founding of New Amsterdam to the current day.” [More information here]

May 1, 2015 | 07:00 PM, May 2, 2015 | 11:00 AM and May 2, 2015 | 02:00 PM

 

Jane Jacobs West Village – Since these walks are named for iconic urban planner, why not learn a little about some her work in her neighborhood of residence?  From tour guide Joan Schecter: “Our tour will include the history of the area, woven with stories and relevant sights of Jane’s epic battles with city bureaucracy and the powerful Robert Moses to preserve her beloved Village.” [More information here]

May 1, 2015 | 11:00 AM

 

#SaveNYC: Hyper-Gentrification and Appropriation on the Bowery – I’m not going to say you’ll feel great after this tour – watch the Bowery outprice you before your very eyes! – but hopefully you’ll be instilled with some proper, pro-active outrage. And you’re in good hands here, with a tour organized by Jeremiah Moss (Vanishing New York) and guided by Kyle Supley: “[P]articipants will tour the main sites of the Bowery’s massive transformation and engage in a discussion about hyper-gentrification and appropriation.” [More information here]

May 2, 2015 | 03:00 PM and May 3, 2015 | 01:00 PM

 

Gay Bars That Are Gone – This tour will take you into the party zones of the past, a unique angle into the sometimes obscured history of gay New York. From guide Michael Ryan: “Together, we’ll stroll by what the local press in the 1890s called the ‘wickedest place in New York’, and check-in on what stands where the city’s first gay disco opened in 1974. We’ll stand atop the collapsed underground vault once home to Walt Whitman’s favorite haunt, and pay a visit to the mafia-run ice cream parlor that was known to permit same-sex dancing when the chandelier flickered off.” [More information here]

 May 2, 2015 | 06:00 PM

High Bridge & Croton Waterworks (Courtesy New York Public Library)
High Bridge & Croton Waterworks (Courtesy New York Public Library)

 

Bridge to Bridge: Walking High Bridge to the George WashingtonOne of the most fascinating tours if the weather happens to cooperate, a lovely walk from one of New York’s oldest bridges to one of its longest bridges. From tour guide Anna Araiza:The High Bridge is the only pedestrian bridge connecting the Bronx and Manhattan, restoration is underway and the bridge is scheduled to re-open this summer. Learn about the origins of the bridge and water tower and the recent efforts leading to the re-opening.” [More information here]

May 2, 2015 | 11:00 AM

Queens

Astoria: A Once And Future Village – How about a robust walk through an old neighborhood on the dawn of some major changes? From guide Rich Melnick: “Since Adrien Block … dubbed the place ‘The Bright Passage’ (‘Helle Gat’ in Dutch), people have fallen in love with ‘Old Astoria Village.’ It has a strong sense of the past, where a 17th century farm’s gardens and orchards are outlined by streets older than Wall Street – and roads were first blazed by Native Americans.” [More information here]

May 2, 2015 | 11:00 AM

A view of Astoria in 1862, courtesy Currier and Ives (and Fanny Palmer)!
A view of Astoria in 1862, courtesy Currier and Ives (and Fanny Palmer)!

Staten Island

 Walk on the Water: Harbor Views for a Local – This may be the coolest one of all, because you’re on a boat and the guide is your captain! From your guide Capt. Margaret Flanagan: “New York Harbor has a lot more to view than impressive landmarks! As we cruise across the harbor, and face away from the Statue of Liberty, we’ll be impressed by the gigantic ships at work, and the breadth of the infrastructure that supports them.” [More information here]

 May 2, 2015 | 03:00 PM but get there at 2:45 at the latest

History in the Making 3/5: #SaveNYC Edition

#SAVENYC: In the wake of ever-rising rents, 2014 saw a depressing number of classic businesses shutter. It’s no surprise that Jeremiah Moss over at the Vanishing New York website would have a few good ideas on how to preserve the remaining privately owned places that give New  York its classic charm.  And now he’s putting them in action with #SAVENYC, a forceful attempt at helping to effect change in the city. But he needs your help! Go to the website, check out some of his ideas and leave a written or video submission in support of small business. Better yet, forward that link to somebody in New York who owns a small business and may have a unique perspective on this situation.

(Listen to our Year In Review show from last year for more information on this growing crisis in New York.)

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The Panorama at the Queens Museum — treasured relic of the 1939-40 World’s Fair — plays host again this Friday to perhaps New York City’s greatest trivia night.  Panorama Challenge 2015, once again hosted by Levy’s Unique New York, inventively employs the large-scale model of New York in a competitive night of questions about the city.

But don’t be daunted!  “Challenger teams are first-timers or those who may not have dedicated their lives to the study of our great city. Pros are returning contestants who are die-hard students of our city’s hidden corners – and must answer an extra question each round (60 questions total!).” And since teams are in groups of ten (or so), you can use the event as a way to meet new people!

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Other links of interest:

— The stunning sliver of a building at 12 Waverly Place, a reminder of the Gilded Age’s unabashed use of child labor, is also the site of a grim suicide. [Daytonian In Manhattan]

— The tale of Etti-Cat, the cat who was the subway etiquette mascot in the 1960s. [Gothamist]

— New York City and the birth of hardcore punk. An excellent piece of music history by Kelefa Sanneh on the roots of a riotous genre. [New Yorker]

— The hottest ticket in town is — Alexander Hamilton! (I never gave up hope.) Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, currently playing to sell-out audiences at The Public Theater, is coming to Broadway! Here’s the new poster. You know my affection for all things Alex H.  AM I DREAMING? [Broadway]

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Photo at top courtesy Lenny Spiro/Flickr

 

An awards show for New York City preservation, history and tourism

The Guides Association of New York (GANYC) represents the  legion of licensed New York tour guides who bring an interest in preservation and history to tens of thousands of visitors and residents each year.   Outside of maybe a cab driver, they’re the first New Yorkers with whom many first-time visitors will interact, and their principal job in many cases is to bring the city to life.  

And so what other organization is more perfectly poised to present New York’s very first preservation and tourism awards?  The GANYC Apple Awards will recognize a cross-section of individuals bringing awareness to the culture of the city — writers, artists, broadcasters, curators, historians, preservationists, even chefs and restaurateurs.

And we are honored and excited to find our podcast on the list of this year’s nominees!  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll also recognize a few other names on this list from previous books and projects that I’ve written about.

The ceremony will take place on March 2 at Symphony Space (the Leonard Nemoy Thalia). More information on how to get tickets can be found here.

The 2015 GANYC Awards categories:

Outstanding Achievement in Book Writing (published 2013/14)
Sam Roberts, author: A History of New York in 101 Objects
William B. Helmreich, author: The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City
Christopher Winn, author: I Never Knew That About New York
Brandon Stanton, author/photographer: Humans of New York

Outstanding Achievement in Essay/Article/Series Writing (published 2013/14)
Christopher Gray, architectural historian, former columnist: Streetscapes, The New York Times
David W. Dunlap, columnist, Building Blocks, The New York Times
Clyde Haberman, former columnist: Breaking Bread, The New York Times
Ginia Bellafante, columnist: Big City, The New York Times

Outstanding Achievement in Radio Program/Podcasts (audio/spoken word)
The Bowery Boys Podcast
The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC
The Next Stop Is… Podcast, Second Ave. Sagas
Radiolab Podcast (‘Poop Train’ Episode)

Outstanding NYC Website
Forgotten New York
Gothamist
Jeremiah’s Vanishing NY
Scouting New York

Outstanding Achievement in Support of NYC (preservation)
Friends of the High Line
Andrew Berman, Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
Andrew Scott Dolkart, Professor of Historic Preservation & Director of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Peg Breen, President, The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Outstanding Achievement in Support of NYC (tourism)
Justin Ferate, Urban, Social & Architectural Historian, NYC Tour Guide, Preservation Activist
Dan Biederman, Co-founder, Grand Central Partnership; Co-Founder & President, 34th Street Partnership; Co-Founder & President, Bryant Park Corporation
Billy Mitchell, Tour Director, The Apollo Theater
Emily K. Rafferty, President, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Chairwoman, NYC & Company

Outstanding Achievement in Support of NYC (culture)
Kathleen O’Connor, Tourism and Community Relations, NY Historical Society
Susan Henshaw Jones, Ronay Menschel Director, Museum of the City of New York
Alan Gilbert, Music Director, New York Philharmonic; Conductor Laureate, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; Principal Guest Conductor, NDR Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg; Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies, The Juilliard School
Michael Miscione, Manhattan Borough Historian

Outstanding Achievement in NYC Museum Exhibitions (2013/14)
Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile, March26 – September 7th, 2014, Museum of the City of NY
— Permanent Exhibits, National September 11 Memorial & Museum
Documenting Sandy, October 16th, 2013 – Spring 2014, Brooklyn Historical Society
Daily Life at Sailor’s Snug Harbor, Permanent Exhibit, Noble Maritime Collection at historic Snug Harbor Cultural Collection

Outstanding Achievement in NYC Food (focusing on anniversaries and special accomplishments)
Katz’s Delicatessen, celebrating over 125 years of service.
— Niki Russ Federman & Josh Russ Tupper, Russ & Daughters; 100 years owned and operated by one family
— Danny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group, controlling over 10 NYC restaurants and a catering company.
— Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group

Lifetime Achievement Award
James Turrell, American Artist

 

Fifth Avenue Coach Company promotional flyer for the 1939 World's Fair]
Fifth Avenue Coach Company promotional flyer for the 1939 World’s Fair]

History in the Making 1/9: Main Squeeze Forever Edition

The Lower East Side lost a great one this week. Walter Kühr, the owner of the Main Squeeze accordion store, died last weekend.  He completely succeeded at his strange but profound mission in life — to keep accordion music alive in the heart of a once-thriving immigrant neighborhood.  He formed the Main Squeeze Orchestra — an all-female accordion group — who performed throughout the city. His store Main Squeeze was a bright and welcome oddity situated among the Chinese and Orthodox Jewish businesses of Essex Street.

And he was also a friend of the Bowery Boys, somebody who made us feel welcome when we moved to his neighborhood in the late 1990s. Walter was a one of a kind guy, and my heart is broken that Essex Street will no longer have this friendly advocate for great music. Learn more about him in the video above and in his obituary here. [New York Times]

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Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11. That we do know. However the actual year is more uncertain. He was born on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean either in either 1755 or 1757.  To quote Ron Chernow: “The mass of evidence from the period of Hamilton’s arrival in North America does suggest 1757 as his birth year, but, preferring the integrity of contemporary over retrospective evidence, we will opt here for a birthday of January 11, 1755.”

Regardless you can celebrate his birthday this Saturday at Hamilton Grange for their big birthday celebration. Or save up your enthusiasm for the start of Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s Hamilton musical at the Public Theater, starting on January 20th. Or, to escape the cold, maybe you’d like to just go down to Nevis and visit the Alexander Hamilton birthplace?

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And some other links of interest:

Mega-City:  The completely batty plan to turn Manhattan into a landfill-created mega-island, expanding into the harbor and gobbling up islands to become, no joke, “Really Greater New York.” [Gothamist and Gizmodo]

Streit’s Matzo, an institution of Rivington Street and the Lower East Side, has decided to close its doors after 95 years. Sigh. [Bowery Boogie]

Parks and Recreation:  Photographer Jon Sobel is visiting every public park in New York City. Not an easy task in this place!  For his latest entry, he visits the lush Clove Lakes Park in Staten Island, once a 19th century estate and grist mill and a favored spot of Frederick Law Olsted. [Park Odyssey]

The Haunted Well:  You may remember the tale of the mysterious SoHo well from one of our past ghost story podcasts. Well, you can now go see the well as it’s been incorporated into the decor of the clothing store which now inhabits the spot at 129 Spring Street. WOW. [Scouting NY]

A Murderer’s Read:  My latest story for the 1981 website tie-in to A Most Violent Year focuses on Mark David Chapman — the killer of John Lennon — and his macabre crusade to promote the book The Catcher In The Rye. [1981.nyc]

Before Stonewall:  A brief look at a little gay and lesbian history along Christopher Street. [Off the Grid]

Ten New Year’s resolutions that can help make New York City a better place to live in 2015

Harlem Street with Church, by William H Johnson, 1939-40, courtesy the Smithsonian Institute

In the 1980s comic book Watchmen, a redheaded protester haunts a local New York newsstand holding a sign which says THE END IS NIGH. Sometimes I feel the urge to hoist my own version of that sign upon a street corner, moaning as I watch the city I fell in love with change into something alien and unfamiliar, a luxury product completely out of reach of most of its own residents.

Beloved spots of substantial historical value are constantly closing. Mega-condos will rule Midtown. The phrase ‘pricey neighborhood’ applies to more places than ever before.  You sense that the character of the city might be changing too. You might be thinking about things that you can do to help preserve what you loved about New York in the first place and help keep it livable for the 21st century.

The city needs you! Here are ten ways of becoming a better New Yorker for 2015, ten things you can do (or mindsets you can develop) to continue making this a great place to live. This is the fleshed-out list that first appeared in our Year In Review podcast.

1) Learn history. Talk about history.
We live in old buildings, walk down old streets. The stories behind them influence our lives to this day. Knowing the history of your neighborhood or your favorite landmark isn’t just a fun stash of trivia you can unspool at a party. It adds greater value to the places you interact with everyday. And if you’re going to pay all that money for rent, wouldn’t you like get a bit more out of it?

This isn’t just about reading books about history, watching Ken Burns documentaries, going to museums or, you know, listening to a podcast.  It’s about conceiving your life as the next chapter of the places around you.  Engage with others about the importance of knowing history. Because you never know who will have the energy and power to preserve it should the places you love become endangered. In this day and age, you can’t fully trust that a landmarks commission or a preservation group will be fully empowered to step in.


Old Pennsylvania Station, photographed from Macy’s, taken by Irving Underhill, courtesy Museum of City of New York

2) Read Jane Jacobs’ book The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Jacobs was a community activist during the Robert Moses era of vast highways and the modernist architecture boom. She was a crusader for active streets, of fluid interactive neighborhoods, during an era dominated by the ideals of Moses and modernist concrete architecture.

Her great manifesto The Death and Life of Great American Cities, written in 1961, takes on a new relevance in the New York City of 2014. I suspect we may continue to need Jacobs’ guidance as the city enters a new era of transformation.

3) Protest and speak out
Most people don’t protest anything that exists outside their personal life. When confronted with the closure of a favorite grocery store or the demolition of a beloved building, the tendency is simply to shrug your shoulders and sigh, “That’s sucks. Oh well!”

If it means something to you, take a few minutes out of your day, go in and ask why a place is closing. Interact with proprietors, let them know that you’re sorry to see them go.

Perhaps you’ll be told that there’s something you can do (sign a petition, make a phone call).  Perhaps there’s nothing you can do.  But your simple words of encouragement may help that shop owner or employee make it through a rough day. And could help in the thought process of their next great venture. And if enough people do the same thing, perhaps the fate of a certain place can be changed.

350 Fifth Avenue. Empire State Building, view of from Lincoln Building, East 42nd Street. Photo by the Wurts Brothers, courtesy Museum of City of New York

4) Look into a community group
Community groups are often on the front line of major shifts within a neighborhood.  The problem is, they can be intimidating to join. Regular meetings can be held at inconvenient times and are less than exhilarating, often bogged down with minutiae.

Don’t let that stop you.  Community groups need you and they need your voice, even if you’re a new resident.  There are perks to becoming acquainted with the most vocal members of your neighborhood. And keep in mind that you can participate in some groups even if you don’t live there. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation is a great example.

5) Identify where you might be part of the problem
The unsettling end result of learning history and becoming involved with your community is that you may come to a realization that you are part of a larger problem. Perhaps you’re part of a gentrification wave moving into expensive apartments in a once-affordable neighborhood. Perhaps you unknowingly displaced somebody else. Maybe you don’t really spend that much time in your neighborhood.  Is it merely a place you hang your hat, as they say?

This sort of self-reflection can make you feel a little helpless. Or it can empower you to offset the negative impact you might be making upon a neighborhood.  After all, people interested in environmental issues will try and lower their carbon footprint.  If you’re interested in a vital and rich New York City, why not make small, worthwhile changes to your own life?

Block of brownstone residences in Park Slope, photographed by Danny Lyon, 1974, courtesy US National Archives

6) Spend your money locally
This is the number one way to support your neighborhood. Seek out shops and services that are within three to five blocks of your home.  Try to visit them all at least once and evaluate what they can provide for you. I assure you that the convenience will make up for any extra costs, and you might find that local places may actually be cheaper.  Personal maintenance services (salons, manicurists, dry cleaners) are the easiest, then branch out to grocery stores and delis.

You probably will still need to spend at big box retailers or chains on occasion, but just be aware of the kinds of items that can be easily purchased within your neighborhood.  Even among the big shops, there’s a distinction between local franchises and national ones.  Nine times out of ten, the services at local chains are more personal and the prices can be competitive.

7) Get out of your neighborhood
Mass transit operates a bit like a transporter on Star Trek, materializing you from point to point without the context of time and distance.  It disguises the fact that New York is one of the most walkable cities in the world with hundreds of miles of sidewalk. To understand your neighborhood, you sometimes must become more aware of those around yours.

Break out of your comfort zone and break out some walking shoes.  Get off the subway two or three stops before your home and just walk the rest of the way. (Or get out a few stops after you usually get out.) This is greatest way of clearing your head after a long day, and you’ll always discover something new along the way.  Instead of leaving town for the weekend, chart a course via public transportation to a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city.

You’ll be able to see the history of New York City this way as clustered brownstones give way to housing development or homes with front yards.  Avenues with towering skyscrapers sometimes lead to sun-filled side streets. The more you experience, the more attractive the city becomes.

St. George, Staten Island, photomechanical print/postcard, courtesy New York Public Library

8) Get young people and new arrivals excited about history
New Yorkers can get very jaded. That mindset can help preserve a neighborhood or it can generate a profound lack of enthusiasm.  History and preservation has always been seen as an elder pursuit.  The young don’t care about history, right? Well, as the producer of a New York City history podcast and blog, I can tell you quite the opposite. I believe the present generation has the greatest potential for appreciating history and using its tools to create a better city.

Museums and community groups should be doing more to reach out to younger people, but you can help out with that too, everything from the presents you buy somebody for their birthday (put down Divergent and get them Gangs of New York) to the places you go with them.  And this includes new arrivals to New York who simply may not yet feel comfortable wandering around the city themselves.

Outside the former Mars Bar in the East Village which closed in 2011. (Courtesy the Commercial Observer)

9) Remain a little outraged
I don’t mean to take away the joy of feeling a little jaded and grumpy.  Sometimes that’s the fuel that can lead to a movement but only if you become proactive. Make yourself heard. Become a voice of discontent in social media. Read Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York at least once a week and get a little angry at the closures of so many places that provide richness and texture to the city.

There is something very serious happening in New York — this era will be noted by future historians — and this requires a unique and unconventional effort.  If you care at all, then you have to be part of it in some way.  Find a way to contribute — through your written words or conversations, to your co-workers or your congressperson.  But through it all….

10) DON’T PANIC
NEW YORK CITY IS OVER. You will hear variations of this from your concerned friends and read similar refrains on message boards and comment sections.  Check the comments on Gothamist on any given day and you will see variants of this phrase about twenty times.

This statement is inaccurate.  New York City has gone through vast changes over the decades. Gentrification has been a regularly recurring process in the city for almost one hundred years.  The remnants of beloved eras (Harlem in the ’30s, Greenwich Village in the ’60s, East Village in the ’80s) are disappearing, seemingly at a rapid pace these days.  Urban blight reoccurs as well.

What’s different is our perception of these changes. I can openly lament the loss of my Meatpacking District, for instance, because it wasn’t like what I loved about it in the 1990s.  But another person will look at me and say, “Are you nuts? It’s safer than ever. You’re glamorizing things that are actually quite terrible. And besides the High Line is amazing.”

The New York City that you fell in love with might be disappearing.  Do what you can to help preserve that part of it that you loved.  But always remember that your city most likely replaced somebody else’s version of New York City.  It’s constantly reinventing itself and sometimes to the detriment of many of its residents.

In the end, New York City is never over but it can become tremendously unbalanced. This should be a city for all of us, not some of us. Become a voice in 2015 to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Brooklyn Bridge Park (courtesy Wired New York)

The Best of 2014: The Bowery Boys Year In Review

PODCAST  When historians look back at the year 2014, what events or cultural changes within New York City will they deem significant?  In this special episode, the Bowery Boys look back at some of the biggest historical events of the year including the opening of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the troubling trend of mega-condominiums along 57th Street and the continuing gentrification of several New York City neighborhoods.

We also answer some questions from listeners and present some resolutions and thought on how you can help protect and preserve the historical landscape of New York City — whether you live here or not.  Cheers to 2015!

NOTE: We recorded this episode on December 17, and so were unable to make note of events from the recent few days including the tragic shooting of two NYPD officers on December 20, 2014.

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services, subscribe to our RSS feed or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and Player FM from your mobile devices.

Or listen to it straight from here:
The Bowery Boys #175: The History of 2014: The Bowery Boys Year In Review
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Here are our 2014 podcasts. Check out any you’ve missed!

Tompkins Square Park [download]
FDNY [download]
George Washington Bridge [download]
South Street Seaport [download]
The Astor Place Riot [download]
Ladies’ Mile [download]
General Slocum Disaster [download]
Cleopatra’s Needle [download]
DUEL! Aaron Burr vs. Alexander Hamilton [download]
The Tallest Building In New York [download]
The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino [download]
The Keys To Gramercy Park [download]
Ghost Stories of Brooklyn [download]
Ruins of the World’s Fair: New York State Pavilion [download]
The Rockettes [download]

And finally, a great big THANK YOU to all of you who donated to the Bowery Boys in 2014! Thanks to you, we have been able to improve our equipment and our sound quality this year, as well as pay for some of our uploading and distribution services. Our thanks to you: Ted D, Sam H, Andrew K, Nicole B, Marie M, Brian H, Joeanna S, Matthew R, Kristin O, Edge of Yonder, Douglas G, Ann C, Richard K, Daniela S, Melissa S, Anthony C, Marjorie W, Carol V, Michael W, Rosa A, Kathleen C, Jamie H, Dan K, Mary Y, Horacio B, Louis G, Nastassia V, Katherine C, John B, Melissa A, Lachlan C, Patricia C, Eric R, Gary J, Michael R, Daniel S, Susan D, Jack L, Ellen L, George S, Jatuporn S, Erin B, Christina H, Robert C, Paula K, Kathy H, Jennifer W, Suzanne H, Kristina E, Milica P, Simone F, Dianne S, Joshua O, Michele O, Susan W, Marsha C, Mark S, Charles L, Bjorn K, Paula K, Ana Lia R, Kimberly T, Saralaughs, and Jean B!