The Earthquake of 1884! A few parallels to today’s quake

New York has never suffered severely from the effects of an earthquake. Most recently, the one felt in 2011— reportedly of 5.8 or 5.9 magnitude, centered around Virginia and affecting many Northeast metropolitan areas — ranks quite high on the list of tremors felt here. There’s no way to compare that local event to the really early quakes, as the Richter […]

Planes Trains and Automobiles

100 years ago today: Seventh Avenue collapsed under rush hour traffic

One hundred years ago today, — a horrifying disaster on Seventh Avenue endangered the lives of New Yorkers on their way to work. Excavations for the new Seventh Avenue subway line (the IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue line, aka the 1-2-3 trains) were proceeding well below an active thoroughfare.  On the morning of September 22, 1915, two detonations […]

American History

Remembering the Wall Street bombing of 1920

Lunchtime down on Wall Street today is chaotic mess of brokers and bankers on cell phones, tour groups, messengers on bikes, police, construction workers, people delivering lunch and the stray old lady walking her dog. Ninety-five years ago today, in 1920, it would have practically been the same, sans the cell phones. So it’s particularly disturbing […]

Planes Trains and Automobiles

The Horror Underground: New York’s first subway disaster — during rush hour, one hundred years ago today

On January 6, 1915, a seemingly minor incident under the streets of Midtown caused a terrible panic, “the worst disaster in the history of the New York subway” up to that date, injuring hundreds of commuters and killing one.  That morning, two electrical cables feeding into manholes at Broadway and 52nd Street suddenly shorted out, […]

On The Waterfront Podcasts

American tragedy: The tale of the General Slocum disaster

PODCAST On June 15, 1904, hundreds of residents of Kleindeutschland, the Lower East Side’s thriving German community, boarded the General Slocum excursion steamer to enjoy a day trip outside the city. Most of them would never return home. The General Slocum disaster is, simply put, one of the greatest tragedies in American history. Before September […]

Newspapers and Newsies

What if? Meteors over Manhattan, 1922

In 1922, the New York Tribune envisioned what it would be like if a meteor hit downtown Manhattan.  The article is a real scare piece on the potential of meteors destroying life on Earth.  It references the American Museum of Natural History‘s own meteor, Ahnighito, brought to the institution by Robert Peary in 1904.  As […]

On The Waterfront

The Staten Island Ferry: its story, from sail to steam

PODCAST The Staten Island Ferry is one of the last remaining vestiges of an entire ferry system in New York, taking people between Manhattan and its future boroughs long before any bridges were built. In Staten Island, the northern shores were spiked in piers, competing ferry operators braving the busy waters of New York harbor. […]

Grand Central’s Other Explosion

Wednesday’s steam explosion disaster at 41st Street and Lexington Avenue, which at ‘press time’ had killed one person and injured 44, gave many people that sinister feeling of déjà vu they felt on Sept. 11. It reminded us almost as much of the New York blackout of 2003, with hundreds of people filling the streets […]