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Gilded Age New York Holidays

The story of the world’s first Christmas tree with electric lights

The world’s very first Christmas tree with electric lights was displayed in 1882 at the home of Edward Hibberd Johnson in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City. Not only did it glow with this innovative new form of illumination, this Christmas tree also spun around, revolving like a flashy new car at an […]

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Mad Men

Mad Men 1966-67: Speculation, context and flashbacks

Our favorite randy, drunken Madison Avenue suits return this Sunday with an extra-special long episode of ‘Mad Men‘ this Sunday. As with prior seasons, I’ll try and follow up most shows on Monday with a little historical commentary. The wonderful thing about this show is that they’re nothing if not hyper-sensitive about historical accuracy. From hints […]

The Trans-Lux experience: Madison Avenue’s ‘modern’ mini-movie house

I’m a sucker for severe electric-laden art-deco theaters like the Trans-Lux Modern Theater, once located on the corner of 58th Street and Madison Avenue. Most every midtown theater in the 1920s dabbled into electric signage to grab attention. But Trans-Lux worked in the opposite direction. To underscore the importance of illuminated billboards in New York, […]

Try getting this catchy tune out of your head!

And a little something silly for Friday: The Hotel Seville was a brilliant Beaux-Arts jewel exemplar of the glory days of Madison Avenue, opening in 1904 — just days before the New York subway — and designed by Harry Allen Jacobs. The architect was a master of the ebullient Beaux-Arts style, applying it to apartment […]

Spoiler alert! Angelina Jolie and a Park Avenue treasure

ABOVE: St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church on Park Avenue in 1928, ten years after the first service was held in its scarcely completed chapel and eighty-two years before Angelina Jolie plays the title role in the action thriller “Salt” where she blows part of it up with explosives. You can find a nicely written short history […]