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Amusements and Thrills

Commodore Nutt: Barnum’s dwarf star, NYC police officer

The attentions of most New Yorkers 150 years ago today were understandably occupied by the events of the Civil War. The general mood in April 1862 had turned cynical and grim. It had been one year since the first battle at Fort Sumter. The bloodiest skirmish yet, the Battle of Shiloh in northwestern Tennessee, left […]

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Amusements and Thrills

Movin’ out! The Bronx Zoo closes the Monkey House

The charismatic Baldy the Chimp, on display during the 1910s, was one of the House of Primates’ most famous inhabitants. (Pic courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society) The landmarked Monkey House at the Bronx Zoo was officially closed as an exhibition space this past Monday. It was really quite a throwback, a lovely fossil of a building […]

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Amusements and Thrills

The first board game: Before Monopoly, a whirlwind tour around America became the perfect Christmas gift

The 24 States: playing field for America’s first board game HOW NEW YORK SAVED CHRISTMAS My yearly roundup of little events in New York history that actually helped establish the standard Christmas traditions many Americans celebrate today. Not just New York-centric events like the Rockefeller Christmas Tree or the Rockettes, but actual components of the festivities […]

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Amusements and Thrills

Elephantine Colossus: Brooklyn’s most unusual hotel

  Visitors to pre-20th century Coney Island would have enjoyed a most unusual site — Elephantine Colossus , more famously known as ‘the Elephant Hotel’, an actual guest house which stood watch over the entertainment district’s beach amusements. The hotel opened in 1885, a 12-storey pachyderm with 31 organ-themed guest rooms that faced the ocean and […]