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Amusements and Thrills

The first board game: Before Monopoly, a whirlwind tour around America became the perfect Christmas gift

The 24 States: playing field for America’s first board game HOW NEW YORK SAVED CHRISTMAS My yearly roundup of little events in New York history that actually helped establish the standard Christmas traditions many Americans celebrate today. Not just New York-centric events like the Rockefeller Christmas Tree or the Rockettes, but actual components of the festivities […]

A Christmas Tree for the ages in Madison Square Park

The misty Madison Square Garden greets a stranger to the park: America’s first community Christmas tree. (Courtesy LOC)HOW NEW YORK SAVED CHRISTMAS Throughout the week I’ll spotlight a few more events in New York history that actually helped establish the standard Christmas traditions many Americans celebrate today. Not just New York-centric events like the Rockefeller […]

America’s first holiday Nutcracker, before Balanchine

Ballerinas in their first flight of The Nutcracker: the Ballet Russe at the 51st Street Theater, 1940 (Picture courtesy the New York Times) Few ballet productions of the last century had more influence on American culture than George Balanchine’s 1954 edition of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, as performed by the New York City Ballet. Although not […]

Santa Claus: a Broadway concert saloon from the 1850s

A Broadway saloon in 1859 during a ‘Sunday sacred concert’, as in, not very sacred at all. The Santa Claus probably looked like this on a good night. [Courtesy NYPL] I’m doing some research on a couple upcoming entries for the How New York Saved Christmas feature which I started last year and came across […]