Health and Living

Open-air schools and sitting-out bags: Keeping children safe during tuberculosis scares

This is a sitting-out bag. No child ever wore one because he wanted to impress his friends. But this awkward example of outdoor wear was created to save lives and keep students educated during one very concerning health crisis. Teaching children during perilous moments of disease spread had been a challenge since the invention of… Read More

Writers and Artists

Happy birthday Langston Hughes! A few stops in Harlem to celebrate

Since I was a teenager, I’ve had an affinity for writer Langston Hughes, the revolutionary jazz poet who was born 115 years ago today in 1902. I grew up in Springfield, Mo., about an hour away from Langston’s birthplace in Joplin. One of the brightest lights of the Harlem Renaissance grew up here?, I frequently pondered in English class.… Read More

Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Modern Family: Black and Latino Alliances in New York City

The political landscape of modern New York City is a stew of neighborhood, borough, financial and ethnic interests built upon over two centuries of experience and tradition.  The most interesting story of the past fifty years — both locally and nationally — is the ascension of minority voices into the public sphere, reflecting population changes but… Read More


Photographs of college football players in New York (1914)

Above: the Columbia University football team, 1914 Click into the images for bigger view.  The first two team photos were taken sometime in Fall 1914, on the Columbia University campus. (As in, in the middle of campus.)  The first solo portraits were taken on Oct 24, 1914, during the Cornell vs Brown match-up at the… Read More


Movin’ on up: from King’s College to Columbia University

We’re going back to school with one of New York’s oldest continually operating institutions — Columbia University. Or should we say, King’s College, the pre-Revolution New York school that spawned religious controversy and a few Founding Fathers to boot. Listen in as we chart its locations throughout the city — from the vicinity of Trinity… Read More

Asylum! The insane foundations of Columbia University

The charming structure above, depicted as though it were a rest stop on the road to Eden, sits on land now occupied by Columbia University in Morningside Heights.  Students driven mad by their studies can find cold comfort knowing that the former occupants of this acreage were also mostly certifiably insane. Welcome to Bloomingdale Insane… Read More

American History

Barack Obama’s New York City

Since Barack Obama is the reason we don’t have a podcast this week, I thought I might as well spend a few moments looking into Obama’s short stay here in New York City, as a Columbia University college student from August 1981 to 1983, and as a community organizer until 1985. Grandpa and Grammy Dunham… Read More

Know Your Mayors: Abram S. Hewitt

Our modest little series about some of the greatest, notorious, most important, even most useless, mayors of New York City. Other entrants in our mayoral survey can be found here. Abram Hewitt could easily be considered a very pivotal mayor in New York City, given the significant development and personal connections he had to the… Read More


We speed ahead over a hundred years after our last Know Your Mayors entry to that jovial man with the funny name, Seth Low. He holds a very unique place on the list of mayors, as he has been both the mayor of Brooklyn (from 1881 to 1885, back when it was a separate city)… Read More