Categories
Amusements and Thrills

The fire at Barnum’s American Museum 155 years ago

One hundred and fifty-five years ago (on July 13, 1865), New York City lost one of its most famous, most imaginative and most politically incorrect attractions. When P.T. Barnum opened his museum in 1841, the kooky curiosities contained within the building at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street — at the foot of Park […]

Categories
Neighborhoods Podcasts

The Story of SoHo: The Iron-Clad History of ‘Hell’s Hundred Acres’

PODCAST The history of SoHo, New York’s 19th century warehouse district turned shopping mecca Picture the neighborhood of SoHo (that’s right, South of Houston) in your head today, and you might get a headache. Crowded sidewalks on the weekend, filled with tourists, shoppers and vendors, could almost distract you from SoHo’s unique appeal as a […]

Categories
Gilded Age New York

The Boss Tweed connection to St. Sava, the cathedral destroyed by fire

New York City lost a very interesting landmark this past weekend. Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, at West 25th and Broadway, was destroyed in a spectacular and mysterious four-alarm fire on Sunday, its windows shattered in shafts of flame, its ceiling reduced to cinders. If you’re a podcast listener, you may know this place […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

History in the Making 4/25: In Memory of a Horrible Fire

Above: A dramatic depiction of a fire which took place 160 years ago today. W. T. Jennings was a fine gentleman’s clothing store located at 231 Broadway, on the site of today’s Woolworth Building.  A tremendous fire took the building on the evening of April 25, 1854, causing thousands of dollars in damage and destroying the […]

Categories
Podcasts

At The Ready: The History of the New York City Fire Department

The distinguished members of New York’s various volunteer fire brigades, posing for the photographer Matthew Brady in 1858PODCAST  The New York City Fire Department (or FDNY) protects the five boroughs from a host of disasters and mishaps — five-alarm blazes, a kitchen fire run amok, rescue operations and even those dastardly midtown elevators, always getting […]

Categories
Amusements and Thrills

Charles Kellogg, the man who put out fires with his voice

New York has seen its share of bizarre entertainments, especially back in the days of vaudeville, when people would pay for almost anything that amused or titillated.  A few months ago, I wrote about the novelty star Don the Talking Dog, who allegedly spoke a handful of English and German words. But another vocally talented […]

Staten Island already had a gigantic Ferris wheel — in 1893!

In the spirit of P.T. Barnum, Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday announced plans to build the world’s largest Ferris wheel next to the ferry terminal on Staten Island. The amusement, called the New York Wheel, will stand 84 feet higher than a similar Ferris wheel in Singapore and also nods towards the London Eye, a ride […]