The Crystal Palace: A new gallery show brings its marvels to life

Bryant Park is a rather remarkable physical space. During the winter it becomes a skating rink and outdoor market, while in the summer, its lawn host hundreds of movie buffs every Monday for the park’s popular outdoor film festival. Its neighbor — the main branch of the New York Public Library — keeps millions of volumes… Read More

Amusements and Thrills

The Monster Tree: A California Sequoia Visits New York City 1855

The mighty Sequoia tree,  principally existing today in northern California, embodied the breathtaking diversity of the North American continent when it was first discovered by European explorers in the 1830s.  The Native American tribes of the west coast revered them.  Early European explorers too marveled at this display of nature’s great flourish, spinning fantastic tales of ‘monster… Read More

Amusements and Thrills Podcasts

The Crystal Palace, America’s first World’s Fair and bizarre treasury of the 19th century

PODCAST New York’s Crystal Palace seems like something out of a dream, a shimmering and spectacular glass-and-steel structure — a gigantic greenhouse — which sat in the area of today’s Bryant Park. In 1853 this was the home to the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, a dizzying presentation of items, great and small,… Read More

Bowery Boys Bookshelf

‘The Measure of Manhattan’: The grid plan of New York comes to life, as does its eccentric creator

BOWERY BOYS BOOK OF THE MONTH Each month I’ll pick a book — either brand new or old, fiction or non-fiction — that offers an intriguing take on New York City history, something that uses history in a way that’s unconventional and different or exposes a previously unseen corner of our city’s complicated past.  Then… Read More

The phantom of a great fire in Bryant Park

Were you in Bryant Park yesterday? Did you happen to imagine that you sniffed a very slight whiff of smoke? It was just a ghostly reminder of one of the most famous fires in all of New York history — the destruction of the legendary Crystal Palace exhibition hall, which sat here for five glorious… Read More

Mayor Westervelt: “Police officers must wear uniforms!”

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.Mayor Jacob WesterveltIn office: 1853-1855 Dutch-blooded Jacob Aaron Westervelt, 24th man to become mayor of New York since the British evacuation of 1783,… Read More

Would ‘Post’ master Bryant like his Park today?

Above: Painting of Bryant Park by artist Mike Rohner. Visit his website for some other lovely works. Editor-poet William Cullen Bryant, the 19th century’s most influential publisher of the New York Post, never lived to see Fashion Week or the yearly outdoor Summer Film Festival, the star events hosted in the park that was named… Read More


PODCAST: New York Public Library

The New York Public Library may be one of the most revered libraries in America, but it took a farflung combination of bookworms, millionaires and do-gooders to make it into the institution it is today. Also: find out why the architectural style of the Beaux Arts sometimes reminds us of an old French prostitute. Listen… Read More