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Holidays Neighborhoods Podcasts

The history of the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights: An electric holiday tradition illuminates Brooklyn

PODCAST: The history of the Dyker Heights Christmas lighting extravaganza, Brooklyn’s fabulous and flashy celebration of the holiday season. EPISODE 305 There’s a special kind of magic to Christmas in New York City. From that colossal Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center to the fanciful holiday displays in department store windows. But in the past three […]

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Christmas

The wildest Rockefeller Center Christmas display ever also caused an equally insane traffic jam

For the 1949 season, the caretakers of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree decided to go fantastically over the top. Just a few years earlier, New Yorkers were served up a plainly adorned tree with no electric lights, a reminder of the war in Europe and a nod to energy preservation.   But the war was […]

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Holidays

Two holiday excerpts from the Bowery Boys’ book Adventures In Old New York

If you’re looking for some last many gifts for loved ones this year, may we suggest our book The Bowery Boys’ Adventures In Old New York? Find it in bookstores or order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or your independent bookstore. Here are a couple holiday-themed excerpts from the book, situated alongside hundreds of […]

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Holidays

Festively bonkers: Welcome to the Dyker Heights Christmas light show

Holiday traditions in Manhattan are of course known the world over, from the glowing light displays of Park Avenue to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. But they lack a certain human touch, spun from wealthy corporations and honored tradition. Which is what makes Dyker Height’s annual lighting spectacular (festival? competition? freak show?) so fascinating. It’s Brooklyn’s […]

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Holidays

The New York Christmas tradition in an uptown cemetery

Clement Clarke Moore, the lord of Chelsea (the manor for which the neighborhood is named), lived a long and distinguished life as an educator and land developer, dying in 1863 at his home in Newport, Rhode Island.  He was originally buried in the churchyard of St. Luke-in-the-Field (pictured below) in the area of today’s West Village . […]

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Holidays

Making Green: The history of New York’s Christmas tree market

For many, the Christmas holiday in New York City finally comes to life when the sidewalks sprout evergreens. The sight and smell of curbside Christmas tree sellers ushers in the season in the most pleasing way. (Pleasing for the passerby; on a rather cold day, I can’t imagine it too pleasing for the seller.) As […]

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Christmas Pop Culture

The real ‘Miracle On 34th Street’: 21 great historical details from New York City’s most famous Christmas movie

The Bowery Boys Obsessive Guides look very, very closely at a classic movie filmed in New York City, finding buried history, additional context and a few secrets within various scenes and plot points. Filled with film spoilers so read this after you’ve seen the movie — or use it to follow along as you watch […]

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Christmas

History In the Making 12/16: Miss Average Rockette Edition

Hmmm. The ludicrous graphic above ran in the New York Times Magazine, November 12, 1967. Keep in mind the word ‘topographically’ is most often used when describing places.  When I mentioned this graphic to a friend, he said, “They probably ran it so that admirers would know what size jewelry and furs to buy their […]

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Christmas Podcasts

American Kicks: A History of the Rockettes

Lifted spirits: The Rockettes practice for a 1964 productions. (Life/Arthur Rickerby) PODCAST The Rockettes are America’s best known dance troupe — and a staple of the holiday season — but you may not know the origin of this iconic New York City symbol. For one, they’re not even from the Big Apple! Formerly the Missouri […]

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Christmas Robert Moses

And Now … Two Christmas Poems By Robert Moses

My new column for A24 Films is up over on their 1981 site (in support of the film A Most Violent Year). 1981 was the year that Robert Moses died, and his death sparked new discussions into what his legacy to the New York City area truly was.  In a word: automobiles.  You can read […]

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Christmas

Santa Insanity: How a self-proclaimed Messiah and cult leader became a popular Santa Claus model

Early one spring day in 1922, while dutifully posing at the Art Students League on West 57th Street, Santa Claus had a fatal heart attack in front of a classroom of students. Below — He knows when you’ve been bad or good:  A Christmas issue of Judge Magazine from 1919 by Guy Lowy, who studied at the […]

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Christmas

Premiering this Friday: Our epic holiday podcast

And let’s just say, it should be a real show-stopper! Above: The cast of Shuffle Along, 1921 (Courtesy NYPL)

Thank you, Tooth Brush Lady! Newsies get their teeth fixed

Above: Newsboys and bootblacks playing craps, photographed by Lewis Hines in 1912.  Some of these were most likely recipients of free dental care, provided at the Second Avenue newsie’s lodging house in that year by the Society of Good Cheer. Newsboys with poor teeth one hundred years ago — I’m guessing this would be most […]

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Christmas

Pre-Scrooged: The Ghost of New York Christmas specials

A Bill Murray holiday classic is closely linked to a forgotten 1955 teleplay Tracing itself back to one of America’s first television broadcast station, New York’s local WCBS-TV can claim a host of significant achievements, including the first regular broadcasts in color and the first baseball game in color (with the Brooklyn Dodgers, naturally). Their […]

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Brooklyn History

Holidays on Ice 1861: Skaters flock to Brooklyn’s icy ponds

Williamsburg(h)’s Union Pond, one of the finest destinations for ice skating in the city, 1863. It later became America’s first enclosed baseball field. The nation was at war one hundred and fifty years ago, but that didn’t stop the austere celebrations in the ‘borough of churches’. But while thousands of Brooklyn residents attended church that […]