Who won the Great Gimbels Air Race of 1911?

The place to be one hundred years ago today was Greeley Square, that bustling public space just south of 34th Street from Herald Square. Thousands of people crowded the sidewalks outside the department stores that afternoon, and many hundreds more shoved themselves into the elevated subway station. These crowds were centered around Gimbels department store… Read More

‘Fringe’ benefits light up a forgotten New York fort

I’m an unabashed junkie of the sci-fi TV series ‘Fringe’, and the writers (or at one of them) seems to be a fan of New York history. One of the conceits of the series involves an alternate universe with things are just slightly different from ours. Most notably, the World Trade Center was never attacked.… Read More

Books and beer! A library gets ready for its birthday

Getting ready for its 100th birthday on May 23, the main branch of the New York Public Library — I guess we’re calling it the Stephen A Schwarzman Building now — has been free of most of its oppressive scaffolding for a couple weeks. This was the scene in the morning fog yesterday:And what the… Read More

Antoni Gaudi’s grand New York hotel — built by sci-fi

Joshua Jackson, looking down at Gaudi in an alternate universe. Courtesy Fringe Files I promise, this is my last post on fake New York City history for awhile, but I couldn’t let the season finale of the FOX sci-fi series Fringe pass without comment. A running scientific theory running through the series is the notion… Read More

100 Years Ago: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden opens

Photo by Louis Buhle (1915), courtesy of the BBG The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is celebrating its 100th anniversay this year. Like Flushing Meadow-Corona Park in Queens, the Garden was created out of an ash dump, landscaped by the Olmsted Brothers (later of Fort Tryon fame), “for the advancement and diffusion of a knowledge and love… Read More

Gimbels Bridge over troubled shoppers

The blocks just south of Herald Square are pretty grim. Malls full of chain stores, bland electronic store fronts and fast food restaurants disguise a once vibrant shopping outpost, as department-store competitors of Macy’s flocked to the neighborhood in the early part of the 20th century. One strange vestige of this retail nostalgia still exists,… Read More

Spawn of the Statue of Liberty

You know an area of New York has achieved tourist saturation when the first ten people you see are all identically dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Performance artists regularly delight audiences near the city’s marquee tourist attractions — South Street Seaport, Central Park, Times Square. Most are truly worthy of the attention: the charismatic… Read More


PODCAST: Henry Ward Beecher and Plymouth Church

We’ve never done such a saucy show — full of sex, lies, and petticoats. Meet Henry Ward Beecher, Brooklyn Heights’ most notorious resident, and find out about the fascinating and provocative history of the church that turned him into a national celebrity. Listen to it for free on iTunes or other podcasting services. Or you… Read More

No more battery for downtown’s green ferry

(Battery Maritime, from the back) That precious jade little music box with a copper top sitting next to the brand spanking new Staten Island Ferry terminal is about to get yet another makeover. The Battery Maritime building, now landmarked, has probably been one of downtown Manhattan’s most mistreated buildings. There are probably a few reasons… Read More


PODCAST: The Statue of Liberty

Her torch may shine bright, but what story is she hiding under that copper-toned skin? The Bowery Boys bring you the story of the dinner party that created an American icon.   Her official name is the Statue of Liberty Enlightening The World. You can find a full survey of her measures here. Two facts… Read More