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Neighborhoods

Finding Pietro

One of you may be related to Pietro, the boy in the picture. He was one of thousands of Italian immigrants who arrived in New York in the 1870s-80s.  He seems to have been intelligent and even exceptional, weathering a set of truly dreary circumstances that would have defeated most men. Pietro was not yet 13 years old… Read More

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Neighborhoods Podcasts

The Big History of Little Italy

PODCAST Little Italy is the pocket-neighborhood reminder of the great wave of Italian immigration which came through New York City starting in the late 1870s.   This was the home of a densely packed, lively neighborhood of pushcarts, cheese shops, barber shops and organ grinders, populated by thousands of new immigrants in dilapidated old tenements. The area… Read More

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Neighborhoods Podcasts

The big history of Little Italy

PODCAST Little Italy is the pocket-neighborhood reminder of the great wave of Italian immigration which came through New York City starting in the late 1870s.  This was the home of a densely packed, lively neighborhood of pushcarts, cheese shops, barber shops and organ grinders, populated by thousands of new immigrants in dilapidated old tenements. The area… Read More

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Neighborhoods

Can you tell me how to get to Slaughterhouse Street?

Mulberry Street is one of the most important streets in New York City history, a central artery of immigrant life for almost two hundred years. Today its northern end is Bleecker Street, crossing Houston Street and heads all the way down to Bayard Street where it curves to the east (the so-called “Mulberry Bend”) where it… Read More

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Neighborhoods

The Astor Place Cube is going away (but, really, don’t panic)

The Alamo, aka the Astor Place Cube, 1978. Photographed by Manel Armegol/Flickr Like many remaining stalwarts of the East Village, the Astor Place Cube is headed into a “rehabilitation” of sorts. Alamo, the sculpture by Tony Rosenthal, is being removed as Astor Place goes through an extensive $16 million renovation. The blog Bedford + Bowery observed… Read More

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Neighborhoods

History in the Making 9/9: The Former Avenue A Edition

A particularly haunting image — the caption “Junior sea breeze for sick babies — 64th Street and Avenue A.” Circa 1895, this was taken in a park at 64th and today’s York Avenue, the area of Rockefeller University.  On this 1899 map, you can see that the future Sutton Place and York Avenue were still… Read More

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Neighborhoods

Inside Gimbels traverse, the secret perch near Herald Square

Looking up to the Gimbels traverse overhead on 32nd Street (Flickr/Docking Bay 93) One of our podcast listeners Alexander Rea sent over the following photographs of a tucked-away place in one of the busiest areas of New York City — the Gimbels traverse on W. 32nd Street, in the Herald Square shopping district. No doubt you’ve… Read More

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Neighborhoods

The link between Ladies Mile and the New York Public Library

Arnold, Constable and Co’s new Fifth Avenue store.  Today it house the lending library for the New York Public Library. When did Ladies Mile — New York’s elegant Gilded Age shopping district — finally become un-fashionable? Unlike the slow demise of so many neighborhoods in the city’s past, the end of Ladies Mile was closely… Read More

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Neighborhoods Podcasts

The sumptuous story of Ladies’ Mile: Cast-iron grandeur and Gilded Age architecture

The opening of Siegel-Cooper department store, 1896, created one of the great mob scenes of the Gilded Age.  Today, TJ Maxx and Bed Bath and Beyond occupy this once-great commercial palace.  PODCAST  Ladies’ Mile — the most famous New York shopping district in the 19th century and the “heart of the Gilded Age,” a district… Read More

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Gilded Age New York Neighborhoods

Chelsea and the Chocolate Factory (or rather, Hershey and his Sixth Avenue chewing gum plant)

Hershey’s employees cut and pack chewing gum at Sixth Avenue and 21st Street. For five glorious years in the early 1920s, Hershey’s Chocolate operated a candy plant at Sixth Avenue, in the neighborhood of Chelsea. While chocolate bars and chocolate coating for other candies were produced here, the Chelsea plant primarily focused on a new… Read More

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Neighborhoods

Five items from the Village Voice, 50 years ago this week

Washington Square North, looking west, 1950, photo by Walter Sanders, Life Magazine The entire back catalog of the Village Voice, New York’s original alternative weekly, is available online through Google News.  The early issues are especially full of character, a scrappy counter-culture organ which provides an interesting window into downtown Manhattan.  Here are some highlights… Read More

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Neighborhoods

History in the Making 4/25: In Memory of a Horrible Fire

Above: A dramatic depiction of a fire which took place 160 years ago today. W. T. Jennings was a fine gentleman’s clothing store located at 231 Broadway, on the site of today’s Woolworth Building.  A tremendous fire took the building on the evening of April 25, 1854, causing thousands of dollars in damage and destroying the… Read More

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Neighborhoods

The Neon Beautiful: Images of New York at Night 1946

“In New York the first lights start to come on at night long before the last light has gone out of the sky.”   In 1939, a young Paris-born photographer named Andreas Feininger moved from his home in Germany to the United States. He took a job at Life Magazine in 1943, a few years after… Read More

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Neighborhoods

The naming of Times Square — 110 years ago today!

Looking south towards the Times Building, 1904 and 2013: Top pic courtesy Library of Congress; Bottom pic courtesy nyclovesnyc From the New York Times, April 9, 1904: “Mayor [George B.] McClellan yesterday signed the resolution adopted by the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday last changing the name of Long Acre Square to that of Times Square.… Read More

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Brooklyn History Neighborhoods

No sheep in Sheepshead Bay, but lots of fish with human teeth

The sheepshead is a common variety marine fish known for its distinctive black stripes and a very scary looking set of teeth.  If you look too long at it, you will have nightmares tonight.  Some believe the fish’s unusual name comes from the notion that its teeth actually look like those of adult sheep.  I… Read More