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Adventures In Old New York

Firecracker Lane: New York’s explosive shopping district

Looking for a healthy assortment of fireworks to ignite for the Fourth of July holiday? In New York, from the late 19th century until the 1930s, one needed to look no further than one of the city’s most heavily trafficked areas near City Hall. Firecracker Lane was a short row of fireworks dealerships that sat […]

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Know Your Mayors

The mayoral inauguration 100 years ago was quite a headache — “the Most Cheerless Day Ever Known at City Hall”

On Wednesday, January 1, 2014, Bill de Blasio will be inaugurated at City Hall to become the 109th Mayor of New York City, sworn in by President Bill Clinton.  Mayoral inaugurations are never very exciting, but they’re often reflected upon later as setting the tone for an administration, a clue to a possible style of […]

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Wartime New York

The end of war: New York newspapers celebrate Armistice Day and the end of World War I

Armistice Day 1918: An impromptu gathering of New Yorkers gathered in front of City Hall. (NYPL) Today is Veterans Day in the United States, a holiday devoted to the memory and service of those in the American armed forces.  While this is a commemoration of all men and woman who have served — during war […]

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Know Your Mayors Podcasts

The Boy Mayor of New York: John Purroy Mitchel and a series of unfortunate events shake up a New York election

John Purroy Mitchel, the ‘boy mayor’, after his resounding victory. (LOC)PODCAST As New York City enters the final stages of this year’s mayoral election, let’s look back on a decidedly more unusual contest 100 years ago, pitting Tammany Hall and their estranged ally (Mayor William Jay Gaynor) up against a baby-faced newcomer, the (second) youngest […]

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Know Your Mayors

One hundred years ago today, the mayor of New York died

Mayor William Jay Gaynor’s final appearance at City Hall was at a notification rally, declaring his independent candidacy.  He brandishes a shovel as a symbol of a new era of subway construction (the eventual fruits of the so-called ‘dual contracts’ which had finally be agreed to earlier that year.) Today’s mayoral primary falls on a […]

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Health and Living Podcasts

The startling history of Bellevue Hospital, beyond the horror stories, the last resort for the New York unwanted

Bellevue from the waterfront, 1879.  Proximity to the shoreline — which once gave the original mansion here that ‘belle vue’ — was key in the early years of Bellevue, as sometimes it was the fastest way to get to the hospital when roads were less than ideal. (Courtesy NYC HHC) PODCAST Bellevue Hospital, you might […]

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Newspapers and Newsies Podcasts

The Cosby Show: A despotic governor in colonial New York and the sensational trial of John Peter Zenger

PODCAST A long, long time ago in New York — in the 1730s, back when the city was a holding of the British, with a little over 10,000 inhabitants — a German printer named John Peter Zenger decided to print a four-page newspaper called the New York Weekly Journal.  This is pretty remarkable in itself, […]