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Brooklyn History On The Waterfront

The Brooklyn Historical Society’s stunning new museum in DUMBO

It just got a bit easier to access the glorious history of the Brooklyn waterfront. Don’t get me wrong; I love the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park and its clever incorporation of industrial infrastructure into public spaces — the piers, the warehouses, the cobblestone streets. (I don’t love this so much but whatever.) But things feel […]

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Museums On The Waterfront

The South Street Seaport Museum, at 50 years old, has gotten some tattoos

The under appreciated South Street Seaport Museum has always had a daunting mission to fulfill — preserving a piece of New York City history on the edge of a volatile and ever-changing waterway. Established fifty years ago this year, the museum has been the guiding presence to this remaining vestige of New York’s 19th century waterfront. […]

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Adventures In Old New York On The Waterfront Podcasts

The Pirate of Pearl Street: The All-True New York Adventures of Captain Kidd

PODCAST The tale of Captain William Kidd, a respectable New York citizen and landowner, and his transformation into the ruthless pirate of legend. The area of Lower Manhattan below Wall Street is today filled with investment bankers, business people and tourists. But did you know, over 300 years ago, that the same streets were once […]

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On The Waterfront

Hidden Waters of New York City: Interview with author Sergey Kadinsky

Sergey Kadinsky is our city’s resident Aquaman. His Hidden Waters of New York City was the big New York City exploration guide book of the spring. In a city often characterized by glass, steel and asphalt, it’s magical to consider the metropolis almost like a human body, comprised and reliant upon water for its well-being. As though […]

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On The Waterfront True Crime

The tale of Newgate, the New York state prison in the West Village

You may not be aware of the Weehawken Historic District, a collection of 14 buildings of unique architectural character in the far West Village.  It lies at the foot of Christopher Street and centers around the one-block-long Weehawken Street. You really should take a stroll down here. It will take you all of one minute; the street […]

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On The Waterfront

A Haunting Look Inside the Lusitania

The Lusitania gets dwarfed by recollections of the Titanic.  But in many ways, the destruction of the Cunard Line’s premier ocean liner on May 7, 1915, was a deeper tragedy than that of the White Star liner. As a casualty of war — sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of southern Ireland — […]

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On The Waterfront Podcasts

Chelsea Piers: New York City in the Age of the Ocean Liner

PODCAST The Chelsea Piers were once New York City’s portal to the world, a series of long docks along the west side of Manhattan that accommodated some of the most luxurious ocean liners of the early 20th century. Passenger ocean travel became feasible in the mid 19th century due to innovations in steam transportation, allowing […]

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On The Waterfront

New York’s first ferry service

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a broad expansion of New York ferry services beginning in 2017, taking commuters to various destinations along the East River and New York Harbor.  And fares will cost as much as a bus or subway ride.   Proposed services would head to the Astoria and Rockaway Beach, Queens; the […]

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On The Waterfront

Troubled Waters: The story of the Grand Republic steamboat, the cursed sister ship of the General Slocum

Above: The Grand Republic steamship. As you can see from its paddlewheel, it was a twin to the General Slocum [source] This could not have made New Yorkers feel very safe about even the briefest of river excursions. Days after the General Slocum excursion steamer caught fire and sank in the East River, killing over 1,000 people, […]

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On The Waterfront Podcasts

American tragedy: The tale of the General Slocum disaster

PODCAST On June 15, 1904, hundreds of residents of Kleindeutschland, the Lower East Side’s thriving German community, boarded the General Slocum excursion steamer to enjoy a day trip outside the city. Most of them would never return home. The General Slocum disaster is, simply put, one of the greatest tragedies in American history. Before September […]

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On The Waterfront

A short history of New York City’s various Titanic memorials

From a 1912 handbill, drumming up support for a proper memorial. (Courtesy Seaman’s Institute) In our podcast on the South Street Seaport, we forgot to mention a very interesting little landmark to the area — the Titanic Memorial, a 60-foot white lighthouse that sits in the little plaza at Fulton and Water Streets. This was […]

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On The Waterfront Podcasts

The history of the South Street Seaport: A robust story of economic power, historic preservation, rat fights and fish guts

The daily bustle at the Fulton Fish Market, 1936, photographed by Berenice Abbott (NYPL) PODCAST  The glory of early New York came from its role as one of the world’s great ports.  Today the South Street Seaport is a lasting tribute to that seafaring heritage, a historical district beneath the Brooklyn Bridge that contains some […]

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On The Waterfront

Arbuckle’s Deep Sea Hotel, aka ‘the Working Girls Hotel’, a coffee king’s housing solution for independent women

The boat hotel built by a coffee manufacturer, photo from January 1913 (courtesy LOC)Arbuckle’s Deep Sea Hotel was neither in the deep sea, nor was it a hotel.  But for hundreds of young, single women at the end of the Gilded Age, it was home. Accommodations were indeed limited for the thousands of women who […]

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On The Waterfront

In 1863, the Russians invaded New York City

In 1863, New Yorkers flocked to the waterfront to see a startling sight — Russian war ships in New York Harbor. The fleet of Russian ships, sailing into New York Harbor in September 1863, as depicted by Harper’s Weekly. They were here as a display of force, but not to threaten the United States. Russia’s […]

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On The Waterfront

The South Street kidnappings: During Prohibition, did ‘shanghai gangs’ really lurk in the shadow of the ports?

The old port at night was no place to be. Weathered taverns and boardinghouses sit next to uninhabited warehouses, separated by dimly lit South Street from the shadow of rocking masts and creaking piers that sank into the black water of the East River. A lonely sailor, soused from the wares of the cheapest Water […]