Categories
Gilded Age New York Landmarks

The Fifth Avenue Hotel: Opulence, glamour and power on Madison Square

The double-breasted, cigar-chewing gentlemen who gathered in the sumptuous rooms of the Fifth Avenue Hotel were occasional connoisseurs of New York City history, and in particular, these amateur historians spoke of the very street corner where their hotel stood. Before Madison Square, when the area was a barren parade ground, one Corporal Thompson opened a roadhouse… Read More

Categories
Holidays Newspapers and Newsies

How New York newspapers covered the first Labor Day — September 5, 1882

Clothing cutters, horseshoers, shoemakers, upholsterers, printers, house painters, freight handlers, cabinet makers, varnishers, cigar makers, bricklayers and piano makers. The first American Labor Day began on September 5, 1882, with 10,000 workers from a wide variety of occupations circling Union Square, then parading up to the area of today’s Bryant Park. (A picnic ‘after party’… Read More

Categories
Skyscrapers

The Big Wind of 1912: New York skyscrapers in peril, as monster gales hurl “men and women down city streets”

Trauma in Times Square: An electrical sign destroyed by the massive windstorm of February 22, 1912. One Times Square sits to the left, and the Hotel Astor is in the distance. [LOC] Shorpy has an another angle of this damaged storefront. “The great gale that blew in with Washington’s birthday will not soon be forgotten. It… Read More

Categories
Podcasts Wartime New York

Danger in the Harbor: World War I and the Black Tom Explosion of 1916

PODCAST The tale of the Black Tom Explosion which sent shrapnel into the Statue of Liberty and rocked the region around New York harbor. On July 30, 1916, at just after 2 in the morning, a massive explosion ripped apart the island of Black Tom on the shoreline near Jersey City, sending a shockwave through… Read More

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Landmarks

A Tour of New York City Through 60 Years of Spider-Man Comic Book Covers

The summer blockbuster Spider-Man: Homecoming may be the greatest New York City superhero movie ever. It doesn’t treat New York like a series of famous backdrops (although there certainly are a couple); it has a familiar landscape and there’s a particular care given to depicting Queens, the home of Peter Parker. There’s even a couple scenes with… Read More

Categories
Planes Trains and Automobiles Podcasts

TAXI: A History of the New York Taxi Cab

PODCAST The history of the New York City taxicab, from the handsome hansoms of old to the modern issues facing the modern taxi fleet today. In this episode, we recount almost 175 years of getting around New York in a private ride. The hansom, the romantic rendition of the horse and carriage, took New Yorkers… Read More

Categories
ON TELEVISION Pop Culture

Movin’ On Up: New York City as depicted in the opening themes of 1970s TV shows

In honor of the 100th birthday of television icon Norman Lear (creator of All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times and many, many more) I’ve revised and re-edited this, yes, rather strange round-up originally published in 2013 about New York City and television intros and theme songs. Please play the TV themes as you… Read More

Categories
Health and Living

Hot as Hell: Surviving the deadly heat wave of July 1911

The New York Tribune of July 7, 1911, says it all: “Heat’s Scythe Mows Down 56 On Fifth Day.” The city was in the midst of a devastating heatwave gripping in the entire Northeast during the first two weeks of July 1911. There was little escape from the scorching temperatures among the cramped tenements. New… Read More

Categories
Revolutionary History

George Washington’s copy of the Declaration of Independence

George Washington’s copy of the Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most well-known of the almost 200 copies first made of the document. As a facsimile, it’s certainly not the the most valuable document held by the Library of Congress — after all, they have Thomas Jefferson’s actual rough draft of the Declaration, along with tens of thousands of his other… Read More

Categories
Music History

Forever Lena Horne: Nine New York places to celebrate her life and legacy

The superstar and civil rights activist Lena Horne had such a dynamic, multi-faceted and enduring career — starting in 1933, she worked regularly well into the late 1990s — that we all may have different views of who she was. Horne was one of the first African-American women to break through in Hollywood in the… Read More

Categories
Health and Living Podcasts

The Notorious Madame Restell: The Abortionist of Fifth Avenue

The story of New York’s most prominent abortionist of the 19th century and the unique environment of morality and secrecy which accommodated her rise on the fringes of society. Ann Lohman aka Madame Restell was one of the most vilified women of the 19th century, an abortion practitioner that dodged the law to become one… Read More

Categories
New York Islands

Whatever happened to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Island?

Welfare Island (once the more enticingly named Blackwell’s Island) was New York’s depository of human services, once a dour place of horrifying asylums and miserable workhouses. In the 1960s Mayor John Lindsay was preparing to revitalize the East River island with new housing and increased support for the hospitals there. Architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee… Read More

Categories
Landmarks Podcasts

The Story of Grant’s Tomb: Upper Manhattan’s Magnificent Mausoleum

The fascinating story of Grant’s Tomb — and a quirky history that includes an ambitious architect, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, lots of ugly raspberry paint, and strange charges of animal sacrifice. The history of Grant’s Tomb plays an important role in the story of Riverside Park (released in 2018). Listen… Read More

Categories
Revolutionary History

Theodore Burr built the first Hudson River bridge – in the same year his cousin shot Alexander Hamilton

People have schemed to put a bridge over the Hudson River for well over two hundred years.  That task would prove most difficult to those in Manhattan, given the distance between its shores and those of New Jersey. After several failed proposals, the two were linked with the Pennsylvania Railroad tunnels (1910), the Holland Tunnel… Read More

Categories
American History

The doctor, the heiress and the accidental nanny: New York women who survived the Titanic

Over fifteen hundred people died the night the Titanic sank, April 14-15, 1912. The early reports from the New York newspapers, of course, spent their time mourning the city’s most connected figures to society. Even from some of the most obsessive sources on the Titanic, the details on the lives of dozens of men and… Read More