Categories
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 buildings […]

Categories
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 Brooklyn. But […]

Categories
Podcasts Skyscrapers

The Tallest Building In New York: A Short History

Postcard from the past: When the Singer Building was the world’s tallest (NYPL)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 […]

Categories
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 […]

Categories
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 […]

Categories
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 […]

Categories
Those Were The Days

The first-ever film of a New York City blizzard

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 assume we’re actually in the aftermath of the blizzard here, as the snow shovels are out, and […]

Categories
Gilded Age New York

The Fifth Avenue Hotel: Opulence atop a potter’s field, and accommodations for heated Republican power brokering

By the date of this photo (1890), the Fifth Avenue Hotel, facing Madison Square Park, had already seen its share of American political drama.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 […]

Categories
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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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Podcasts

PODCAST: The Flatiron Building

What are the Bowery Boys doing in Chicago? Just a little detour in our search for the origins of the Flatiron Building, the wedge shaped, wind producing oddity — built as an office space in a department store neighborhood which grew to become one of the most romantic, elegant buildings in New York City. Listen […]