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Brooklyn History Pop Culture

The curious tale behind the first film ever made in Brooklyn

Millions and millions of hours of television and film have been made within the five boroughs since the invention of the camera.  But have you ever wondered where the very first roll of film was ever shot? That distinction most likely goes to a nondescript rooftop studio built atop a building at 1729 St. Marks Avenue… Read More

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Pop Culture

A film milestone in New York, 1913, but sadly out of sync

 The future (almost): Edison’s kinetophone system On February 17, 1913, on the day that the Armory Show was preparing to reinvent American art, Thomas Edison was attempting a revolution of his own for the young moving pictures industry. On that date, he debuted a new projection system called the kinetophone in four vaudeville houses in New… Read More

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Landmarks

Grand Central Terminal’s Ten Greatest Moments on Film

Grand Central Terminal has seen millions of people rush across its Main Concourse over the past one hundred years, and more than a few movies have captured that commuter ebb and flow.  But while Grand Central is occasionally a backdrop for romance — especially during World War II, when returning soldiers would arrive to meet… Read More

New trailer for The Great Gatsby: What’s behind the collar?

When the original trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ came out in May, I respectfully nitpicked its depiction of 1920s Times Square. That same article applies to the new trailer Read it here: Times Squared: Lovingly nitpicking ‘The Great Gatsby’ trailer The Arrow collar sign makes a more prominent appearance… Read More

New trailer for The Great Gatsby: What’s behind the collar?

When the original trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ came out in May, I respectfully nitpicked its depiction of 1920s Times Square. That same article applies to the new trailer Read it here: Times Squared: Lovingly nitpicking ‘The Great Gatsby’ trailer The Arrow collar sign makes a more prominent appearance… Read More

Rainey’s African Hunt: A bloody 1912 movie blockbuster

Hunter and gadabout Paul Rainey: An accidental matinee idol Catching a movie this weekend? Many New Yorkers had the same plan one hundred years ago, but the experience was vastly different.  Motion pictures in 1912 were shorter, without sound and in black-and-white, of course, but they were sometimes presented as part of a set of… Read More

Beware the New York vampires: A seductive film star inspires an army of ‘golden haired’ Broadway sex goddesses

 Maneater: Theda Bara in an unconventional portrait. Her publicist claimed it was her lover and that ‘not even the grave could separate them’.“A vampire is a good woman with a bad reputation, or rather a good woman who has had possibilities and wasted them” — Florenz Ziegfeld Progressive, liberated women were clearly so frightening one… Read More

A Brooklyn intellectual landmark becomes a supermarket

Mentioned in our podcast this week was the precursor to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the three-story ‘centre of Brooklyn culture‘ known as the Brooklyn Athenaeum and Reading Room. Founded in 1848 and incorporated in 1852, the Athenaeum was a combination concert hall, store for intellectuals and library (in an era before public libraries), serving… Read More

Times Squared: Lovingly nitpicking ‘The Great Gatsby’ trailer

The recent trailer to Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, aka ‘Moulin Rouge in Manhattan’, seems to have left everyone in a state of awe (and horror) in its vivid, hyper-electro-glossy depiction of Prohibition-era New York. And it left many feeling slight panic, even apoplexy, especially considering the entire spectacle will be rendered in 3D when… Read More

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Mad Men

Mad Men 1966-67: Speculation, context and flashbacks

Our favorite randy, drunken Madison Avenue suits return this Sunday with an extra-special long episode of ‘Mad Men‘ this Sunday. As with prior seasons, I’ll try and follow up most shows on Monday with a little historical commentary. The wonderful thing about this show is that they’re nothing if not hyper-sensitive about historical accuracy. From hints… Read More

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It's Showtime

When New York hosted the Oscars

NOTE: In honor of this weekend’s Academy Awards, I’m expanding this article originally posted last year with some revisions and newer information. Despite the Academy Awards being a celebration of all things Hollywood, New York has actually hosted the Oscar ceremony on more than one occasion. Or rather, they co-hosted the event — from 1953 to 1957… Read More

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Brooklyn History On The Waterfront Podcasts

Notes from the podcast (#133): Red Hook, Brooklyn

A haunting snapshot of the Atlantic Docks, circa 1870-80s (possibly as early as 1872) photo by George Bradford Brainerd (courtesy the Brooklyn Museum)  Quite a few notes on the podcast this week! There were a lot of little details I found interesting that didn’t make the cut:Before the Water Taxi: One of the more enlightening… Read More

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Pop Culture

“New York was his town, and it always would be…”

I hope you all caught part one of PBS’s Woody Allen documentary last night. Part of the American Masters series, it was a beautiful tribute, not just to the filmmaker, but to 70s New York, and in particular, Woody’s old neighborhood — Midwood, Brooklyn. The second part concludes this evening at 9pm EST. I’ll be… Read More

Soooo, about that new HBO Robert Moses movie…..

You’ve probably heard by now that Oliver Stone is preparing to make a film version of Robert Caro’s ‘The Power Broker’, the iconic biography of New York’s influential city planner Robert Moses. Several people have emailed us for our reaction to Moses’s big-screen debut. (Well, small screen actually. It’s an HBO film.) The ‘master builder’… Read More

Was New York not haunted enough for Alfred Hitchcock?

A still from ‘The Wrong Man’, a crime drama shot in New York in 1956. (Courtesy Empire Magainze.) Alfred Hitchcock‘s innovative anthology series ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ debuted on CBS in the fall on 1955. As a filmed dramatic series (vs. the live camera TV hits like ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘The Honeymooners’), the weekly mystery… Read More