Categories
American History True Crime

Insanity: 160 years ago today, Congressman Daniel Sickles shot and killed the son of Francis Scott Key

On the 160th anniversary of the killing of Phillip Barton Key, I’m reposting this article from 2014 which originally ran on the 100th anniversary of Daniel Sickle’s death. We don’t have large, parade-like funeral processions marching up the avenues as they once did during the Gilded Age and in the early years of the 20th […]

Categories
Gilded Age New York Podcasts

The Fall of the Fifth Avenue Mansions: Where to find the remnants of an opulent past

PODCAST The story of how Fifth Avenue, once the ritziest residential address in America, became an upscale retail strip and the home of some of New York’s finest cultural institutions. LISTEN HERE: In this episode, the symbols of the Gilded Age are dismantled. During the late 19th century, New York’s most esteemed families built extravagant mansions […]

Categories
Gilded Age New York Podcasts

The Fall of the Fifth Avenue Mansions: Where to find the remnants of an opulent past

PODCAST The story of how Fifth Avenue, once the ritziest residential address in America, became an upscale retail strip and the home of some of New York’s finest cultural institutions. LISTEN HERE: In this episode, the symbols of the Gilded Age are dismantled. During the late 19th century, New York’s most esteemed families built extravagant […]

Categories
Gilded Age New York Podcasts

The Rise of the Fifth Avenue Mansions: Revisiting Forgotten Architecture of New York’s Gilded Age

PODCAST At the heart of New York’s Gilded Age – the late 19th century era of unprecedented American wealth and excess – were families with the names Astor, Waldorf, Schermerhorn and Vanderbilt, alongside power players like A.T. Stewart, Jay Gould and William ‘Boss’ Tweed. They would all make their homes – and in the case […]

Categories
Politics and Protest

Listening to the Silent Parade of 1917: The Forgotten Civil Rights March

“To the beat of muffled drums 8,000 negro men, women and children marched down Fifth Avenue yesterday in a parade of ‘silent protest against acts of discrimination and oppression’ inflicted upon them in this country, and in other parts of the world. Without a shout or a cheer they made their cause known through the […]

Categories
Pop Culture

‘War Paint’ and ‘Indecent’: Two views of New York City history on Broadway

History has always been a critical component of theater, especially in musicals, where period sets and costumes assist in creating other worlds on stage quite unlike our normal one. But last year, with Hamilton: The Musical, the stage phenomenon which won the Tony Award for Best Musical (and a million other awards), history became a rock star. Or rather, […]

Categories
Health and Living Podcasts

The Beauty Bosses of Fifth Avenue: Elizabeth Arden & Helena Rubinstein

PODCAST Fifth Avenue’s role in the ‘revolution’ of beauty, as led by Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, New York’s boldest businesswomen of the Jazz Age. The Midtown Manhattan stretch of Fifth Avenue, once known for its ensemble of extravagant mansions owned by the Gilded Age’s wealthiest families, went through an astonishing makeover one hundred years ago. Many lavish abodes of […]

Categories
Health and Living

The Notorious Madame Restell: The Abortionist of Fifth Avenue

The story of New York’s most prominent abortionist of the 19th century and the unique environment of morality and secrecy which accommodated her rise on the fringes of society. Ann Lohman aka Madame Restell was one of the most vilified women of the 19th century, an abortion practitioner that dodged the law to become one of […]

Categories
Planes Trains and Automobiles

A city of bridges: One century ago, Scientific American predicted a future of elevated sidewalks

Imagine a city where the High Line isn’t just a novel park, but the primary form of urban conveyance. In 1913, with the proliferation of the automobile, it seemed humans were being crowded out at ground level.  People were beginning to think of themselves as removed from the street.  Daredevils were experimenting with flight, and […]

Categories
Wartime New York

The Women’s Peace Parade, a moody anti-war protest in 1914

Give Peace A Chance: Women take to the streets in a stunning parade of mourning Below are some pictures of what’s possibly New York City’s first anti-war protest organized by women, on August 29, 1914. War had erupted that summer in Europe, sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in late June and unfurling […]

Categories
True Crime

That rascal Daniel Sickles, the beloved politician and veteran who killed the son of Francis Scott Key

We don’t have large, parade-like funeral processions marching up the avenues as they once did during the Gilded Age and in the early years of the 20th century. These events were times of public mourning and a bit of festivity.  Most often they involved the passing of a well-connected political leader or a popular entertainers. […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

Lord & Taylor’s splashy move to Fifth Avenue in 1914, to the “very centre of the sphere of fashionable activity”

Lord & Taylor’s at Fifth Avenue and 38th Street, in the 1920s, photo by the Wurts Brothers (courtesy NYPL)Loehmann’s, the once-great Brooklyn-based department store, closes all their locations for good tomorrow, another causality of the changing economy and people’s changing tastes in shopping. But let’s not dwell on the decline of the department store. Let’s […]

Categories
Holidays

Easter fashion parade 1913: Images of the annual stroll, now with automobiles, celebrities and ‘ladies in vermilion’

In the picture above: People in Sunday finery stroll past the New York Public Library building. The library had not even been open two years by the time this picture was taken in March 23, 1913. New York City’s time-honored Easter custom — the Sunday morning Fifth Avenue Easter bonnet stroll — once turned the […]

Categories
Museums

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, when it was smaller

I’m working on a very art-themed podcast which should be ready for release this Friday.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art will be a supporting player in this week’s show, so please enjoy  these early photos of the original building, opened in 1880 and designed by Calvert Vaux (to better accentuate his park) and Jacob Wray […]

The New York monkey fad of 1907: From Fifth Avenue to the fire department, primates were fashionable companions

The wacky IKEA monkey story of the past few days got me to wondering about wild animals as pets here in New York. After all, the wealthiest classes collected all sorts of unusual beasts for their amusement during the 19th century.  So many in fact that the Central Park Zoo — or Menagerie, as it was […]