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Holidays

Easter in Old New York: The Fifth Avenue Fashion Stroll

In the picture above: People in Sunday finery stroll past the New York Public Library building. The library had not even been open two years by the time this picture was taken in March 23, 1913. New York City’s time-honored Easter custom — the Sunday morning Fifth Avenue Easter bonnet stroll — once turned the […]

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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 […]

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Holidays

Happy New Year! Photographs from over a century of Chinese New Year celebrations in Manhattan

Head over to Chinatown this Sunday afternoon (February 17, starting at 1pm) for the Lunar New Year Parade and Festival, topping off two weeks of celebrations in honor of the Year of the Pig. (Find the parade route here. And get there early for a great spot.) [We also did a podcast episode on the history of New Year’s Eve […]

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Holidays Podcasts

A New Year in Old New York: A history of celebration from Times Square to Chinatown

PODCAST The ultimate history of New Year’s celebrations in New York City. This is the story of the many ways in which New Yorkers have ushered in the coming year, a moment of rebirth, reconciliation, reverence and jubilation. In a mix of the old and new, we present a history of early New Year’s festivities, before […]

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Holidays

Two holiday excerpts from the Bowery Boys’ book Adventures In Old New York

If you’re looking for some last many gifts for loved ones this year, may we suggest our book The Bowery Boys’ Adventures In Old New York? Find it in bookstores or order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your independent bookstore. Here are a couple holiday-themed excerpts from the book, situated alongside hundreds of […]

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Holidays The First

How Electric Light Changed Christmas Forever

‘THE FIRST’ PODCAST The surprisingly rich history of Christmas lights in America. That string of multi-colored Christmas lights wrapped around your tree (or your house) is far more influential to American history than you might think. The first electric Christmas lights debuted in 1882, shortly after the invention of the incandescent light bulb itself, in […]

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Holidays

Festively bonkers: Welcome to the Dyker Heights Christmas light show

Holiday traditions in Manhattan are of course known the world over, from the glowing light displays of Park Avenue to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. But they lack a certain human touch, spun from wealthy corporations and honored tradition. Which is what makes Dyker Height’s annual lighting spectacular (festival? competition? freak show?) so fascinating. It’s Brooklyn’s […]

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Holidays

O Canada! Fifty years ago Rockefeller Center hosts a foreign Christmas tree

The Christmas tree tradition in Rockefeller Center began in 1931, during the Great Depression, when workers constructing the visionary shopping center, office space and transportation hub first erected a modest tree within the excavation. Every Christmas tree placed here after that was shipped in from upstate New York, New Jersey or somewhere in New England. […]

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Holidays

Five New York Landmarks get into the Halloween spirit

New York has a great many naturally spooky historical places, so it’s great to see a few of them get into the Halloween holiday spirit. Here are five places to visit this week if eating candy in a wig just isn’t enough for you. NOTE: These sorts of events sell out quickly so inquire with […]

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Holidays

The New York Christmas tradition in an uptown cemetery

Clement Clarke Moore, the lord of Chelsea (the manor for which the neighborhood is named), lived a long and distinguished life as an educator and land developer, dying in 1863 at his home in Newport, Rhode Island.  He was originally buried in the churchyard of St. Luke-in-the-Field (pictured below) in the area of today’s West Village . […]

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Holidays

Midnight in Times Square: The history of New Year’s Eve in New York City

PODCAST The tale of New York City’s biggest annual party from its inception on New Years Eve 1904 to the magnificent spectacle of the 21st century.  In this episode, we look back on the one day of the year that New Yorkers look forward.  New Years Eve is the one night that millions of people […]

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Holidays

Making Green: The history of New York’s Christmas tree market

For many, the Christmas holiday in New York City finally comes to life when the sidewalks sprout evergreens. The sight and smell of curbside Christmas tree sellers ushers in the season in the most pleasing way. (Pleasing for the passerby; on a rather cold day, I can’t imagine it too pleasing for the seller.) As […]

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Holidays

Wacky, windy and weird: 1964 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Linus the Lion-Hearted at the 1964 Macy’s Parade The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade of 1963 had been a downer of a parade. President John F. Kennedy had just been assassinated a few days before but, deciding that cancelling the event would be “a disappointment to millions of children,” the parade went on as planned.  Leading […]

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Holidays

History in the Making 11/24: Big Thanksgiving Rodents Edition

Mickey Mouse at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1980 (courtesy the Museum of the City of New York)  The Christmas Trash Strike of 1981 My new story for A24 Films and A Most Violent Year is up — a look at the strike by the New York sanitation department which kept New Yorkers in feet of […]

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Holidays

On this Veteran’s Day, a salute to the Harlem Hellfighters!

The men of the 369th who were awarded France’s Criox de Guerre for distinguished acts of heroism:  Pvt. Ed Williams, Herbert Taylor, Pvt. Leon Fraitor, Pvt. Ralph Hawkins. Back Row: Sgt. H. D. Prinas, Sgt. Dan Strorms, Pvt. Joe Williams, Pvt. Alfred Hanley, and Cpl. T. W. Taylor New York’s 369th Infantry Regiment was America’s […]