Categories
Wartime New York

New York: The City of Forts

The vestiges of America’s oldest wars surround us to this day. New York City has had more military fortifications contained within it than perhaps any other major American city. Part of this has to do with its roots in the American Revolution and the subsequent fears of a return invasion in the early 19th century. Today’s existing forts […]

Categories
Podcasts

Podcast rewind: the New York City Marathon, a brisk history of the five-borough race and the amazing athlete who created it

Above: The 1971 marathon. That’s Fred Lebow on the far right (#24). Pic courtesy TCS NYC Marathon Next week (November 2, 2014) brings the TCS New York City Marathon so I thought I’d dust off an older podcast on its funky, fascinating and furious history. The New York City Marathon hosts thousands of runners from […]

Categories
Parks and Recreation

Never Too Cold: Crazy kids conquer Central Park on sleds

During one particular winter in the early 1910s, Central Park was invaded by an army of young sledders, tearing over the snow-covered terrain without thought to temperatures or bodily injury. Believe it or not, the city encouraged children to use the city parks for sledding, especially given that the alternatives were slicked-up city streets.  In […]

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The Great Gatsby’s New York City, in ten different scenes, from the Queensboro Bridge to the Plaza Hotel

BOWERY BOYS BOOK OF THE MONTH Each month I’ll pick a book — either brand new or old, fiction or non-fiction — that offers an intriguing take on New York City history, something that uses history in a way that’s uniquely unconventional or exposes a previously unseen corner of our city’s complicated past.  Then over the […]

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The Great Gatsby’s New York City, in ten different scenes, from the Queensboro Bridge to the Plaza Hotel

BOWERY BOYS BOOK OF THE MONTH The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald I re-read The Great Gatsby a few weeks ago on purpose, not because I had a school assignment. Unlike my first experience with Gatsby at age 14, I actually read it, without the signposts of a Cliff’s Notes to tell me what […]

Categories
Mad Men

In Central Park, heated reactions to the assassination of Martin Luther King, while business booms at movie theaters

WARNING The article contains a couple light spoilers about last night’s ‘Mad Men’ on AMC.  If you’re a fan of the show, come back once you’re watched the episode.  But these posts are about a specific element of New York history from the 1960s and can be read even by those who don’t watch the […]

Categories
Parks and Recreation

Marks of the grid: A remarkable find in Central Park

So this random little bolt in a rock may not look like much, but it could be the last remaining on-site evidence of the creation of New York City’s grid plan. Inspired by Marguerite Holloway’s book ‘The Measure of Manhattan‘, I went looking for this unusual object hidden in Central Park, discovered by geographers several […]

Categories
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 […]

Categories
Those Were The Days

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

 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 season. The worst snowfall was technically last fall,  with that sloppy Nor’easter which hit just a few days after Sandy. But many of New York City’s most […]

Categories
Museums

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, when it was smaller

I’m working on a very art-themed podcast which should be ready for release this Friday.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be a supporting player in this week’s show, so please enjoy these early photos of the original building, opened in 1880 and designed by Calvert Vaux (to better accentuate his park) and Jacob Wray […]

Categories
Podcasts

Bicycle Mania! The story of New York on two wheels, from velocipedes to ten-speeds — with women’s liberation in tow

  Alice Austen’s iconic photograph of a telegram bike messenger in 1896, a year where many New Yorkers were wild about bikes. Austen even rode one around with her camera.  PODCAST The bicycle has always seemed like a slightly awkward form of transportation in big cities, but in fact, it’s reliable, convenient, clean and — […]

Categories
Podcasts

The Croton Aqueduct: How New York got its drinking water

Above: The Croton Reservoir in 1850, in what would soon become Central Park. (NYPL)PODCAST One of the great challenges faced by a growing, 19th-century New York City was the need for a viable, clean water supply. We take water for granted today. But before the 1830s, citizens relied on cisterns to collect rainwater, a series […]

The art of the reservoir, New York’s forgotten architecture

The Fortress of Fifth Avenue: the Murray Hill Reservoir We share a lot of the same needs as New Yorkers of the past, but we’ve just gotten better at hiding the unpleasant ones.  There are a great many mental institutions and specialized medical facilities in the city; they just aren’t in creepy, old Gothic buildings […]

A startling arrival off Canal Street — 150 years ago today

New York was hundreds of miles from the Union battle lines during the Civil War, but not a single citizen could walk the streets in 1862 without a constant reminder, from banners and fund-raisers to the sight of a man with missing limbs. And a most dramatic example docked at the Canal Street pier 150 […]

If you lived here, you’d be home by now….

The Navarro Flats, once at Seventh Avenue and 59th Street, was an early pioneer of luxury apartment living along Central Park South. Although this stunner, by Spanish architect José Francisco de Navarro, is long gone, it set the pace for acceptable living on the park’s outskirts. Tomorrow, I’ll present another vanished classic of the apartment […]