New York Islands

Whatever happened to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Island?

Welfare Island (once the more enticingly named Blackwell’s Island) was New York’s depository of human services, once a dour place of horrifying asylums and miserable workhouses. In the 1960s Mayor John Lindsay was preparing to revitalize the East River island with new housing and increased support for the hospitals there. Architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee… Read More

Hudson Valley Podcasts

Road Trip to the Hudson Valley: The Complete Series Now Available

The Bowery Boys Road Trip to the Hudson Valley mini-series, exploring stories of American history along the Hudson River, is now complete. Catch up on all three episodes — and join us on Patreon for a special ‘behind the scenes’ episode: On the Trail of the Croton Aqueduct Welcome to the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, 26.5… Read More

Parks and Recreation Podcasts

Robert Moses and the Art of the New Deal

PART ONE of a two-part podcast series A NEW DEAL FOR NEW YORK. In this episode, we look at the impact New Deal funding had in shaping the city’s infrastructure — from bridges and tunnels to neighborhood parks — how New York City uniquely benefited from this government program. EPISODE 337 New York City during… Read More

Know Your Mayors

A short history of New York City mayors who ran for President of the United States

Last week former mayor Michael Bloomberg very unofficially — and somewhat belatedly — entered the 2020 presidential race by filing paperwork for next year’s Alabama primary. This over a month after current New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio entered and dropped out of the race this year, never catching fire with the Democratic electorate.… Read More

Podcasts The Jazz Age

The Wall Street Crash of 1929: The sobering end of New York’s Jazz Age

This is the final part of our three-part NEW YORK IN THE JAZZ AGE podcast series. Check out our two prior episode #233 The Roaring ’20s: The King of the Jazz Age and #234 Queen of the Speakeasies: A Tale of Prohibition New York   Something so giddy and wild as New York City in… Read More

New Amsterdam

The story of ‘Klein Klassje’, the New World’s first Roosevelt and the surprising origin of Roosevelt Street

New Amsterdam, the home of Claes Maartenszen van Rosenvelt (by Thomas Addis Emmet, courtesy NYPL) The new Ken Burns seven-part documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History is underway on PBS, a sprawling look at one of New York’s most prominent families.  It began last night with the introduction of young Theodore Roosevelt, the sickly boy… Read More

Presidential: Spending your weekend with the Roosevelts

In 1973, the sliver of land in the East River called Welfare Island was given a more lofty name — Roosevelt Island — in anticipation of a grand monument to Franklin Delano Roosevelt designed by premier architect Louis Kahn.  But Kahn died in 1974 after designing the somber, angular granite memorial, set to be placed on… Read More

On ‘The Band Wagon’: Grand glamour in a Great Depression

How about a little music for your Monday? I was flipping through some old photographs in the New York Public Library’s Performing Arts/Billy Rose Theatre Division archive and came across some striking images from the musical ‘The Band Wagon’, which opened on Broadway eighty years ago. The stage musical inspired a more famous Vincent Minnelli… Read More


Mayor Jimmy Walker: a finer class of corruption

Jimmy Walker, Hollywood version of a mayor KNOW YOUR MAYORS Our modest little series about some of the greatest, notorious, most important, even most useless, mayors of New York City. Other entrants in our mayoral survey can be found here. MayorJimmy Walker In office: 1926-1932 Has a New York mayor ever reflected the decade he… Read More

World’s Fair 1939: Here’s to the future, 70 years later

Seventy years ago, one of the strangest displays of American progress ever organized opened its doors in Flushing Meadows, Queens — the 1939-40 World’s Fair. This celebration of human advancement — as demonstrated through miles of utopian kitsch and strikingly bizarre architecture — was a reason for Robert Moses to turn the unsightly Corona Ash… Read More

Know Your Mayors

Hey kids! Wanna be president? Don’t be New York mayor.

(This story was originally published in June 25, 2008) Yesterday was the opening of Campaigning For President at the Museum of the City of New York, a look at the city’s participation in some of the most famous and contentious presidential elections in history. The exhibit will focus on the city’s role in deciding the… Read More

More Robert Moses shenanigans!

We really shouldn’t demonize Robert Moses as we do — he did give the city so many marvelous things — but you hear about one of his schemes that almost came to fruition and you just want to cry. This time around, I’m referring to the Brooklyn-Battery Bridge, a potential catastrophic project Moses cooked up… Read More

“Horrors” of Roosevelt Island: Renwick Ruins

With apologies to the people who reside there, I must admit that Roosevelt Island has always freaked me out. Which is why I like it actually. Over the next few days, I’ll highlight some of my favorite Roosevelt Island places and people, some familiar to New Yorkers who have never ventured there. The “little Apple”,… Read More