Gilded Age New York Parks and Recreation Podcasts Skyscrapers

It Happened at Madison Square Park: The Heart of New York During the Gilded Age

So much has happened in and around Madison Square Park — the leafy retreat at the intersections of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street — that telling its entire story requires an extra-sized show, in honor of the Bowery Boys 425th episode. Madison Square Park was the epicenter of New York culture from the years… Read More

Those Were The Days

Madison Square Snow Show: The first-ever film of a New York City blizzard

Missing a good old-fashioned New York City snowfall? Well, then, take in this unusual view from 1902: What storm is this? The horrific blizzard that hit New York on February 17, 1902.  It would be considered the worst snowstorm to hit the metropolitan area since the Great Blizzard of 1888. (Read all about it here.)  I… Read More

Gilded Age New York Landmarks

The Fifth Avenue Hotel: Opulence, glamour and power on Madison Square

The double-breasted, cigar-chewing gentlemen who gathered in the sumptuous rooms of the Fifth Avenue Hotel were occasional connoisseurs of New York City history, and in particular, these amateur historians spoke of the very street corner where their hotel stood. Before Madison Square, when the area was a barren parade ground, one Corporal Thompson opened a roadhouse… Read More

Landmarks Podcasts

Flatiron Building: A Three-Sided Story

PODCAST For our 8th anniversary episode, we’re revisiting one of New York City’s great treasures and a true architectural oddity — the Flatiron Building. When they built this structure at the corner of Madison Square Park (and completed in 1902), did they realize it would be an architectural icon AND one of the most photographed… Read More

Wartime New York

The Arches of Madison Square Park

Memorial arches have been a dramatic way to honor military victories, dating back to the Roman times. Naturally, in a city with abundant Beaux-Arts classical-style architecture, New York has erected its share of grand archways. Two spectacular examples exist today — the Washington Square Arch and the Soldiers and Sailors and Sailors Memorial Arch in… Read More

Podcasts Skyscrapers

The Tallest Building In New York: A Short History

  PODCAST One World Trade Center was declared last year the tallest building in America, but it’s a very different structure from the other skyscrapers who have once held that title. In New York, owning the tallest building has often been like possessing a valuable trophy, a symbol of commercial and social superiority. In a… Read More

Neighborhoods Podcasts

The sumptuous story of Ladies’ Mile: Cast-iron grandeur and Gilded Age architecture

The opening of Siegel-Cooper department store, 1896, created one of the great mob scenes of the Gilded Age.  Today, TJ Maxx and Bed Bath and Beyond occupy this once-great commercial palace.  PODCAST  Ladies’ Mile — the most famous New York shopping district in the 19th century and the “heart of the Gilded Age,” a district… Read More

Wartime New York

Decorating the Flatiron Building with cannons and silver coins

At the very first-floor corner of the Flatiron Building once sat the trusty United Cigar Store.  Being so striking a location in such an unusual building, the cigar store was often decorated occasions. For instance, one hundred years ago today (April 1, 1914), the windows were filled with 7,150 silver dollars as part of a… Read More

Brooklyn History

The horror of moving to Brooklyn — from a 1905 comic strip

Above: Food can do strange things to you at night: an excerpt from McCay’s January 7, 1905 strip, published two days after the one printed in full below. Dream of the Rarebit Fiend was one of America’s first great comic strips and easily one of the weirdest. Each eight-panel or nine-panel strip featured an individual… Read More

Brooklyn History

Let There Be Light: Brooklyn illuminates Manhattan with a spotlight that ‘will burn your skin at three hundred feet’

That Gotham glow: The powerful Sperry searchlight drapes the dark city in light. The Woolworth Building is lit up like a candle. A thin, bright streak of light brushes across the sky and dances off the clouds above. With few buildings over fifteen stories and the city’s electrical lights at a fraction of the intensity… Read More

Three photographers, and three views of the Flatiron

Edward Steichen, The Blue-Green Flatiron (courtesy the Met) The Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s new exhibit on three masters of early 20th Century photography “Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand” says as much about New York as it does the three subjects themselves. And many pictures have nothing to do with the city. Alfred Stieglitz became the maestro of… Read More

John Brown and the heady world of New York phrenology

Today is the 150th anniversary of the raid on Harpers Ferry in West Virginia by radical abolitionist John Brown (at left), a failed attempt to free slaves and start a revolution. I recently found this article outlining John Brown’s various visits to New York City. Most notably, Brown met one of his lieutenants here, Hugh… Read More

New York Election Day traditions no longer celebrated

Today is primary election day in New York! Locals, have you voted yet? Current mayor Michael Bloomberg is not on the ballot yet — he’ll be on the November ballot — but primary races for City Comptroller, Public Advocate, some city council seats, and the Democratic candidate for mayor are included on today’s ballot In… Read More

Manhatta: Art of the silent city

The Sunday New York Times had an excellent article on the restoration of the film Manhatta, purported to be the ‘first avant garde film’ ever made and one of silent film’s great sightseeing tours of New York City. The film was a collaboration between photographers Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler, with a little help from… Read More

Hitting the pavement with Rudy Burckhardt

This is your last week to go check out Street Dance, a romantic and wistful collection of New York black-and-white images by Rudy Burckhardt, at the Museum of the City of New York. Burckhardt was obsessed with the city’s scale and motion, finding it frustrating in his early days in the city to properly frame… Read More