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Gilded Age New York Podcasts

The Rise of the Fifth Avenue Mansions: Revisiting Forgotten Architecture of New York’s Gilded Age

PODCAST At the heart of New York’s Gilded Age — the late 19th century era of unprecedented American wealth and excess — were families with the names Astor, Waldorf, Schermerhorn and Vanderbilt, alongside power players like A.T. Stewart, Jay Gould and William “Boss” Tweed. They would all make their homes — and in the case […]

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Landmarks

The Statue of Liberty turns 130 years old: Eleven facts about the near calamity that was her 1886 dedication

The Statue of Liberty celebrates her 130th birthday tomorrow. Technically, I suppose, it’s the anniversary of her dedication, a star-studded, pomp-laden ceremony that took place on Friday, October 28, 1886. But for many months previous, she was a fierce presence in the harbor, as the copper monument was arduously stitched together from far flung pieces — including an arm which […]

Categories
American History

Life in New York City 1935-1945: Heavenly images from Yale University

Yale University has sprung a beautiful present onto the Internet — a searchable database of over 170,000 public-domain photographs created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information, documenting the aftermath of America of the Great Depression and World War II. The photos, dating from between the years 1935 to 1945, include of […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The Alienist by Caleb Carr, released 20 years ago this week: Retracing the steps of this Gilded Age murder mystery

NOTE: This article has a few plot spoilers but no major twists are revealed or discussed.  I’ve tried to write the descriptions within the interactive map as vaguely as possible. The Alienist by Caleb Carr was published 20 years ago this week, an instant best-seller in 1994 that has become a cult classic among history […]

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
Landmarks Neighborhoods

When the Statue of Liberty left her arm in Madison Square

Above: The arm of the Statue of Liberty stood solitary in Madison Square for six years, from 1876 to 1882. Two hundred years ago today, Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc was born in Paris.  As the godfather of historical restoration, Viollet-le-Duc would rescue countless medieval structures from decay, helping to preserve the spirit of French architecture through […]

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Those Were The Days

Where did New Yorkers first buy recorded music?

“Photograph shows a boy and a girl dancing while an Edison Home Phonograph plays in a house in Broad Channel, Queens, New York City.” — taken between 1910-1915 Here’s something many people thought they’d never see again in New York City — the opening of a new record store.  Rough Trade, known for their famous […]

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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 […]

William Seward: a park in his honor, while sitting in another

Mr. Seward, with the best seat in the park in 1934. He does seem awfully thin though, almost like a certain president. (At least, some people thought so.) This month marks the 135th anniversary of an extraordinary gift endowed to Madison Square Park — the statue of William Seward. the former New York governor and […]

A Christmas Tree for the ages in Madison Square Park

The misty Madison Square Garden greets a stranger to the park: America’s first community Christmas tree. (Courtesy LOC)HOW NEW YORK SAVED CHRISTMAS Throughout the week I’ll spotlight a few more events in New York history that actually helped establish the standard Christmas traditions many Americans celebrate today. Not just New York-centric events like the Rockefeller […]

Categories
Mysterious Stories

I Sit On Your Grave: New York’s Hidden Burial Plots

Here’s a chilling thought for the Halloween season: if you’re visiting one of New York’s many amazing parks and squares, most likely you’re standing on land that was formerly used as a cemetery or potter’s field. And in some cases they even left the bodies behind! If you’re fluent in your New York history, you […]

Sarah Bernhardt’s favorite New York landmark

Sarah Bernhardt may be the most famous and most mysterious actress who ever lived and certainly “the greatest celebrity of her era.” Working mostly in the days before recorded medium (there are exceptions), Bernhardt crafted a legend matched by outrageous behavior and provocative stage performance. Naturally, she brought both with her when she came to […]

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Podcasts

PODCAST: The Pan Am Building

Today it’s the Met Life Building. It’s been called the ugliest building in New York City. It sits like a monolith behind one of the city’s most enduring icons Grand Central Terminal. But it’s got some secrets you may not know about. In this podcast, we scale the heights of this misunderstood marvel of modern […]