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Those Were The Days

Where did New Yorkers first buy recorded music?

“Photograph shows a boy and a girl dancing while an Edison Home Phonograph plays in a house in Broad Channel, Queens, New York City.” — taken between 1910-1915 Here’s something many people thought they’d never see again in New York City — the opening of a new record store.  Rough Trade, known for their famous… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Let’s go see the horses at Madison Square Garden!

These unbearably cute orphans seen above were lined up to go to the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden which began on November 15, 1913. ┬áThese are of course the days of the Garden down at the northeast corner of Madison Square, the glorious McKim, Mead and White structure topped with a glittering statue… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Turkey raffles were 19th century versions of bar trivia nights

Hopefully this young lady acquired this turkey by legitimate means. In this week’s podcast, I feign shock at the wild party held at the old home of famed actress Charlotte Melmoth, a former school for etiquette-turned-booze hall.  To quote historian Henry Reed Stiles directly: “After [Charlotte’s] disease, the house was converted into a tavern, which… Read More

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Neighborhoods Those Were The Days

When the Bowery Ballroom was a shoe store and other scenes from Delancey Street in the 1930s

The Tree-Mark Shoe Store at 6-8 Delancey Street. You may know this building today as the Bowery Ballroom, a music venue since 1997. (Wurts Brothers, date unknown, both courtesy NYPL) The interior of the shoe store, 1930 (Pic courtesy MCNY) This building has had a rocky history, according to historian Matthew Postal.  Using remnants of an old theater… Read More

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Those Were The Days

How well can you do on this New York history trivia quiz — from 1914? Prepare to be a little frustrated.

No amount of studying will prepare you for some of these odd questions.  (A girl at Seward Library, photographed by Lewis Hine.)Trivia quizzes are very popular today in bars and pubs throughout the city, but in the past, they’ve had more elitist purposes.  In November 1914, a group of possibly insecure ex-New Yorkers in Chicago… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Blackout 2003: Where were you when the lights went out?

Photo above courtesy Drew Dies/Flickr He has a cool set of pictures from that day here. Today is the tenth-year anniversary of the Northeast Blackout of 2003 which shut down power for most of New York City (and much of the Northeast) for almost 24 hours, with some areas experiencing outages well into the second day. I… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Profound clutter: Photographs of New York artist studios

The studio of William Merritt Chase in the Tenth Street Studio Building at 51 West 10th Street. Another appears below. [Smithsonian] Take a look at these extraordinary photographs of artist studios in New York City from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, the interiors of apartment buildings and houses rendered into a… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Ten cool facts about ice cream and New York City history PLUS: where was New York’s first frozen yogurt shop?

Lewis Wickes’ photograph of a few children enjoying a bit of ice cream on a hot day, 1910. (NYPL) 1. America’s first ice cream shop was located on Dock Street** (roughly today’s Pearl Street) in 1774.  The British confectioner Philip Lenzi advertised ice cream of “any sort”, along with a host of treats, including sugar… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Shower time: Drive-thru horse washes in Herald Square

I’m grateful to see horses getting a little love in the waning years of regular horse-drawn vehicles in New York. But never realized they had their own drive-thru horse wash! This 1912 horse recuperation station was made possible by William J. Gane, the proprietor of a few Herald Square moving picture houses and a ‘pioneer… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Detonations and flying cheese: Annotated news from 1913

I present this little news item from the June 6, 1913 New York Tribune in its entirety: 1)  The idea of bombs exploding all over the city is shocking to us today.  But in fact the threat of makeshift bombs were sometimes employed in extortion plots such as those by the Black Hand.  Most of these… Read More

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Health and Living Those Were The Days

Close shave: A century ago, barbers riot through New York, leaving half-shaved men in vacated barber shops

A barber shop at the Hotel de Gink on the Bowery, circa 1910-15 [LOC] The fight for worker’s rights swept through a variety of occupations over a century ago as New York City laborers rebelled against unfair corporate practices and unsafe working conditions. Garment workers marched the avenues in protest following the tragic Triangle Factory… Read More

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Those Were The Days

May 1st is Moving Day (or at least it used to be)

May 1st used to be the day that yearly apartment leases ended, resulting in a fury of chaotic furniture relocation known as Moving Day. The April 25, 1897 New York Tribune insert below gently lampoons the event. This was really the worst traffic day in New York each year, as thousands of people shuffled around… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Fun money: The Buffalo nickel, 100 years old this month, makes Wall Street messenger boys rich (for a couple hours)

The U.S. Sub Treasury Building — today’s Federal Hall — as it appeared in a colorized postcard in the 1900s (courtesy NYPL)“Hey! Getcha buffalo nickels here. Only 15 cents!” On March 1, 1913, the usual bustle of Wall Street was enlivened with the voices of young men — mostly messenger boys, bank runners and peddlers,… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Six ways to celebrate 100th anniversary of the Armory Show this weekend

A study in madness:  a view inside one room of the 1913 Armory Show This Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art — aka, the Armory Show of 1913 — which stunned New Yorkers and revolutionized the direction of American art in the 20th century. So… Read More

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Those Were The Days

Ten pictures of the New York winter we haven’t had (yet)

Above: Sledding in Brooklyn Heights, from the corner of Henry and Joralemon Streets, according to the caption, ca. 1872-1887.  (Photographed by George Bernard Brainerd, courtesy Brooklyn Museum) So far this has been pretty much been a low-accumulation winter in New York City, with only a half-inch of measured snow in Central Park so far this… Read More