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… Read More


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 —… Read More


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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

Notes from the podcast (#128): The Conspiracy of 1864

A depiction of Central Park from 1864. The conspirator’s cottage hideout would have been near the southeast corner. (Courtesy NYPL) The year 1864 wasn’t as pivotal to New York City as 1863 (with the Draft Riots), but it is one of the stranger years I’ve ever come across in studying the city’s history, culminating in… Read More

The mysterious Central Park convent: Mount Saint Vincent

House on the hill: the stark and mysterious convent of Central Park, 1861 In tomorrow’s podcast, I’ll be spending a bit of time in 1861 and will be briefly mentioning Central Park. So I thought I’d give you a look at what it looked like then. Pictured above is a structure that once dominated the… Read More

Parks and Recreation

Time Capsule: Gay Hippies vs the Nudists in Central Park!

Above: From a great photo stream of images from the 1971 parade by Me In San Fran/Flickr (check them out here) I happened across some rather extraordinary archival videos on YouTube posted by Randolfe Wicker, recorded in 1971 at New York’s second Gay Pride festivities ever, initially called the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day. In those… Read More

Cheers to New York Fleet Week and a safe Memorial Day

At the helm of yet another watery craft, a visiting sailor on shore leave charts a course through Central Park with a new friend. Taken 1943, by Peter Stackpole, courtesy LIFE Images Cue the Leonard Bernstein!

Health and Living Podcasts

Building Blocks: The Commissioners Plan of 1811, inventing a New York grid of streets and avenues

The simplicity of the New York grid system, seen overhead in a 1939 classic photo by Margaret Bourke-White. PODCAST The Commissioners Plan of 1811 How did Manhattan get its orderly rows of numbered streets and avenues? In the early 19th century, New York was growing rapidly, but the new development was confined on an island,… Read More

You’ve come a long way, baby! But now it’s over. Extinguishing 102 years of women’s public smoking rights

Write that man a ticket! This rebel might have had a different cause had he been at yesterday’s New York city council meeting. The big news in the city yesterday was the massive smoking ban passed by the City Council that prohibits smoking in public places like Times Square and Central Park, a total of… Read More

It's Showtime

D.W. Griffith turns Central Park into a silent screen star

In honor of the grand re-opening of the Museum of the Moving Image this Saturday, we’re going all New York film and media here on the blog, posting some new stuff and re-printing some older ones pertinent to the city’s filmmaking history. Above, you can watch ‘Father Gets In The Game’, a cheeky short from… Read More

American History

Where were you when John Lennon was killed?

Originally posted 2010 — Today is the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon. Although he was murdered by Mark David Chapman on December 8th, it occurred at 10:50pm EST, and thus most heard about it the following day. On the evening of December 9th, thousands of people turned out for memorials throughout the… Read More

J.D. Salinger and the frozen ducks of Central Park

“I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go? I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon** got all icy… Read More