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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… Read More

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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… Read More

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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… Read More

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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… Read More

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Neighborhoods Podcasts

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… Read More

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Brooklyn History Neighborhoods Podcasts

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… Read More

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Neighborhoods

St. Marks Place at MCNY: A talk with Ada Calhoun and Luc Sante

St. Marks Is Dead, the new book by Ada Calhoun on the history of St. Mark’s Place, was one of our favorite books of the year.  Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York, a grungy look at New York’s Gilded Age by Luc Sante, is one of our favorite books ever.  Combine the two,… Read More

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Neighborhoods Podcasts

Ready-to-Wear: The lofty history of New York’s Garment District

PODCAST The history of the New York City fashion industry and how it found its home south of Times Square aka The Garment District. The Garment District in Midtown Manhattan has been the center for all things American fashion for almost one hundred years. The lofts and office buildings here still buzz with industry of… Read More

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Neighborhoods Podcasts

St. Mark’s Place: It’s Party Time in the East Village!

PODCAST: The big, brash history of St. Mark’s Place, the East Village’s most interesting street. St. Mark’s Place may be named for a saint but it’s been a street full of sinners for much of its history. One of the most fascinating streets in the city, St. Mark’s traces its story back to Peter Stuyvesant,… Read More

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Neighborhoods

H.P Lovecraft’s very bizarre hatred of Red Hook and Brooklyn Heights

Howard Philip Lovecraft — aka H.P. Lovecraft — was born 125 years ago today in Providence, Rhode Island. The pulp-fiction storyteller, known for claustrophobic tales of the occult, lived for a time in Brooklyn. He did not enjoy it. In 1924, he moved to  259 Parkside Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn, close to Ebbets Field and… Read More

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Neighborhoods

Summer Streets 2015: Walk Park Avenue Three Saturdays in August

If it’s August in New York City, then it’s time for the annual Summer Streets festival, when traffic is closed down from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, along Lafayette Street and Park Avenue all the way up to 72nd Street. (A copy of the map is below or you can also get one from the… Read More

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Neighborhoods Podcasts

Hell’s Kitchen: New York’s Wild West

PODCAST Hell’s Kitchen, on the far west side of Midtown Manhattan, is a neighborhood of many secrets. The unique history of this working class district veers into many tales of New York’s criminal underworld and violent riots which have shaken the streets for over 150 years. This sprawling tenement area was home to some of… Read More

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Neighborhoods Podcasts

The Grand Tale of Orchard Street and Life on the Lower East Side

PODCAST The Lower East Side is one of the most important neighborhoods in America with a rich history as dense as its former living quarters. Thousands of immigrants experienced American life on these many crowded streets. In this podcast, we look at this extraordinary cultural phenomenon through the lens of one of those — Orchard… Read More

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Neighborhoods

Gotham Court and the lost neighborhood of Cherry Hill

Yesterday I went searching for remnants of the old Cherry Hill neighborhood. There are none, as far as I could tell. It’s not the first New York City neighborhood to entirely vanish in the rush of progress — is it, Robert Moses ? — however it may be the one that began with the most… Read More

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Neighborhoods

The hole that swallowed Greenpoint and other treasures at Old NYC

The New York Public Library‘s Old NYC interface is pretty much one of the best things to happen to New York City history this year. It selects photographs from their extensive archives and maps them out — all five boroughs and pretty much most major intersections.  It’s like a Google Maps street-view of the past.… Read More