Categories
American History

Remembering the Wall Street bombing of 1920

On a usual day, lunchtime down on Wall Street today is chaotic mess of brokers and bankers on cell phones, tour groups, messengers on bikes, police officers, construction workers, people delivering lunch and perhaps a stray older lady walking her dog. One hundred years ago today, in 1920, it would have practically been the same, sans […]

Categories
Wartime New York

New York doughnut history: From Washington Irving’s olykoeks to doughnut huts in Union Square

Today is National Doughnut Day which is not a real holiday although that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating in whatever powdered, glazed, creme-filled way you see fit. However you will be surprised to learn that this day traces its roots to the Salvation Army and World War I. To provide for the American troops fighting in France in […]

Categories
Queens History Revolutionary History

George Washington’s inauguration and the 1939 World’s Fair

Today (April 30th) is the 230th anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington, sworn in atFederal Hallas the first President of the United States.  It is also the 80th anniversary of the 1939 New York World’s Fair.  That was not an accident. The monumental events of America’s founding would be immortalized by the fair in some rather unusual […]

Categories
American History Podcasts

New York City and the Inauguration of George Washington

PODCAST Part One of our two-part series on New York City in the years following the Revolutionary War. The story of New York City’s role in the birth of American government is sometimes forgotten. Most of the buildings important to the first U.S. Congress, which met here from the spring of 1789 to the late […]

Categories
Landmarks

Courting New York’s Legal Landmarks

Civic buildings are often beautiful architecture in plain sight. Their uniformity — many rendered in classical styles — often finds them less appreciated than other forms of urban architecture.  In a city like New York, skyscrapers, hotels and brownstones are more likely to get the attention of camera-wielding tourists over courthouses. After all, doesn’t every town have a […]

Categories
Landmarks

Federal Hall: Now and Always An American National Treasure

Federal Hall National Memorial, currently administered by the National Park Service, has always been a popular landmark with tourists thanks to its position on one of the most photographed intersections in New York. Who can resist that noble statue of George Washington silently meditating on the financial juggernaut of Wall Street? Today Federal Hall was officially named […]

Categories
Parks and Recreation Podcasts

Bryant Park: The Fall and Rise of Midtown’s Most Elegant Public Space

NEW PODCAST  In our last show, we left the space that would become Bryant Park as a disaster area; its former inhabitant, the old Crystal Palace, had tragically burned to the ground in 1858. The area was called Reservoir Square for its proximity to the imposing Egyptian-like structure to its east, but it wouldn’t keep […]

Categories
Wartime New York

Charlie Chaplin on Wall Street: The tale behind the 1918 photo

The comedy legend Charlie Chaplin was born 125 years ago today in London, so I thought I’d use the opportunity to re-post one of my favorite photographs of Wall Street. In the 1918 photo above, Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks draw tens of thousands to Wall Street and the foot of the United States Sub Treasury building […]

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Solomon Northup’s ominous journey to New York City, 1841

An engraving featured in Solomon Northup’s narrative Twelve Years A Slave, published in 1853. The New York farmer and musician Solomon Northup was sold into slavery in 1841, tricked by two supposed members of a circus troupe, promising Northrup work in their traveling show.  Instead, Northrup awoke in bondage, eventually smuggled to New Orleans where […]

Categories
Newspapers and Newsies Podcasts

The Cosby Show: A despotic governor in colonial New York and the sensational trial of John Peter Zenger

PODCAST A long, long time ago in New York — in the 1730s, back when the city was a holding of the British, with a little over 10,000 inhabitants — a German printer named John Peter Zenger decided to print a four-page newspaper called the New York Weekly Journal.  This is pretty remarkable in itself, […]

Categories
Those Were The Days

Fun money: The Buffalo nickel, 100 years old this month, makes Wall Street messenger boys rich (for a couple hours)

The U.S. Sub Treasury Building — today’s Federal Hall — as it appeared in a colorized postcard in the 1900s (courtesy NYPL)“Hey! Getcha buffalo nickels here. Only 15 cents!” On March 1, 1913, the usual bustle of Wall Street was enlivened with the voices of young men — mostly messenger boys, bank runners and peddlers, […]

Categories
Gilded Age New York Podcasts

Frozen in time: The Blizzard of 1888 knocks New York City off its feet, creating the deadliest commute in history

PODCAST This year is the 125th anniversary of one of the worst storms to ever wreak havoc upon New York City, the now-legendary mix of wind and snow called the Great Blizzard of 1888. Its memory was again conjured up a few months ago as people struggled to compare Hurricane Sandy with some devastating event […]

Categories
Friday Night Fever

In good company: The local significance of Obama’s inaugural quote: “Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall”

As many others today are ruminating on the symbolic and historic implications of yesterday’s presidential inaugural ceremony, allow me to dwell a little on a curious milestone of far lesser importance. Until yesterday, no place in New York City has ever been mentioned in a presidential inaugural speech.  Not Ellis Island, not the Statue of […]

Categories
Friday Night Fever

In good company: The local significance of Obama’s inaugural quote: “Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall”

As many others today are ruminating on the symbolic and historic implications of yesterday’s presidential inaugural ceremony, allow me to dwell a little on a curious milestone of far lesser importance. Until yesterday, no place in New York City has ever been mentioned in a presidential inaugural speech.  Not Ellis Island, not the Statue of […]

Categories
Those Were The Days

Ten pictures of the New York winter we haven’t had (yet)

Above: Sledding in Brooklyn Heights, from the corner of Henry and Joralemon Streets, according to the caption, ca. 1872-1887.  (Photographed by George Bernard Brainerd, courtesy Brooklyn Museum) So far this has been pretty much been a low-accumulation winter in New York City, with only a half-inch of measured snow in Central Park so far this […]