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Parks and Recreation

Where was Manhattan Square? The Gilded Age remaking of a neglected park

Theodore Roosevelt Park (77th and 81st Streets, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue), which contains the beloved American Museum of Natural History, is the oldest developed section of the Upper West Side, purchased by the city in 1839 as a possible strolling park to be called Manhattan Square. Central Park was but a gleam in the eye back in […]

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Neighborhoods Parks and Recreation

Nostalgia for Astoria Pool, an early Robert Moses project with a high diving, Olympic-sized history

Astoria Pool is the largest venue for swimmers in New York, outside of the Hudson and East Rivers and, of course, the ocean. Its location in Astoria Park is certainly theatrical, parallel with the river and in sight of two spectacular bridges (the Robert F. Kennedy and the Hell Gate) that sail over to Randall’s Island. […]

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Parks and Recreation Podcasts

Robert Moses and the Art of the New Deal

PART ONE of a two-part podcast series A NEW DEAL FOR NEW YORK. In this episode, we look at the impact New Deal funding had in shaping the city’s infrastructure — from bridges and tunnels to neighborhood parks — how New York City uniquely benefited from this government program. EPISODE 337 New York City during […]

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Parks and Recreation

Ten unusual views of Prospect Park and Grand Army Plaza

When park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux regrouped after the success of Central Park to design another great park for Brooklyn — encompassing Prospect Hill and the Revolutionary War site Battle Pass — they preserved a greater amount of natural topography than they had in Manhattan. But that doesn’t mean that Prospect Park […]

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Parks and Recreation

Remember the Maine Monument!

At Memorial Day celebrations one hundred years ago, one of New York City’s great war memorials was finally unveiled — the Maine Monument, at the southwest corner entrance of Central Park. The monument pays tribute to the 266 American soldiers who perished on the USS Maine, which exploded in Havana, Cuba, on February 15, 1898. […]

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Parks and Recreation Podcasts

Who was Andrew Haswell Green? Say hello to “the most important leader in Gotham’s long history.”

PODCAST EPISODE 300 — Andrew Haswell Green helped build Central Park and much of upper Manhattan, oversaw the formation of the New York Public Library, assisted in the foundation of great institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History and the Bronx Zoo, and even organized the city’s first significant historical preservation group, saving New […]

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Parks and Recreation

Washington Square Park Audio History Tour: An exclusive for our Patreon supporters

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Greenwich Village Historic District, enjoy this Patreon exclusive — a self-guided audio walking tour of Washington Square Park, narrated by Greg Young. This is a new 2019 edition of an audio tour Greg released many years back and this new version is only available here on Patreon. This tour presents over 200 years […]

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Parks and Recreation Podcasts

Heaven on the Hudson: How Riverside Park covered its tracks and became a breathtaking spot

PODCAST The highs and lows of the history of Riverside Park In peeling back the many layers to Riverside Park, upper Manhattan’s premier ribbon park, running along the west side from the Upper West Side to Washington Heights, you will find a wealth of history that takes you back to Manhattan’s most rugged days. The windswept bluffs […]

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Parks and Recreation

Book Review: A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park

A stroll at dusk along the waterfront paths of Brooklyn Bridge Park presents a look at New York City like no other — the fading skies over Liberty Island and New Jersey, the silhouettes of downtown Manhattan as the lights flicker on, the bridges of the East River awakening for another beautiful night. You can […]

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Parks and Recreation

PODCAST REWIND: A Short History of Prospect Park

PODCAST REWIND Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s biggest public space and home to the borough’s only natural forest, was a sequel for Olmsted and Vaux after their revolutionary creation Central Park. But can these two landscape architects still work together or will their egos get in the way? And what happens to their dream when McKim, Mead […]

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Parks and Recreation

History in the Making 3/16: Here Be Dragons (And Battleships) Edition

Yesterday the normal bustle of Union Square was interrupted with a dragon attack courtesy a promotion for the HBO show Game of Thrones.  Either that, or Mayor De Blasio needs to work harder to keep our public parks safe from mythological beasts. If you think this might be the weirdest stunt ever pulled in Union […]

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Parks and Recreation

The Convent of Central Park and a famous Revolutionary War site

Pictured above is a remarkable structure that once dominated the scenery on the northern side of Central Park. This was the Academy of Saint Vincent on a hill that bore its name.  Located on the northern portion of the park, next to the charming Harlem Meer (and nearest 103rd Street), the Academy sat nestled amid a collection […]

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Parks and Recreation Podcasts

Bryant Park: The Fall and Rise of Midtown’s Most Elegant Public Space

NEW PODCAST  In our last show, we left the space that would become Bryant Park as a disaster area; its former inhabitant, the old Crystal Palace, had tragically burned to the ground in 1858. The area was called Reservoir Square for its proximity to the imposing Egyptian-like structure to its east, but it wouldn’t keep […]

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Parks and Recreation

Reservoir Square — 150 years ago!

Here are three stunning stereoscopic views of old Reservoir Square, the park next to the Murray Hill Reservoir that became sadly vacant after the fiery destruction of the Crystal Palace.  These stereoscopes — ancestors to the View-Masters which some of you may remember from childhood – were taken in 1865. Now without its dazzling occupant, the park […]

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Parks and Recreation

Ten Images of Bowling Green and Ten Facts about its Marvelous History

Bowling Green, at the very tip of Manhattan island, is a small oval park so calm in comparison to its surroundings that it’s hard to believe this is one of the oldest sections of the city of New York.   Here are ten facts about Bowling Green, accompanied by ten images and photographs from various periods in […]