Categories
Holidays

Easter in Old New York: The Fifth Avenue Fashion Stroll

In the picture above: People in Sunday finery stroll past the New York Public Library building. The library had not even been open two years by the time this picture was taken in March 23, 1913. New York City’s time-honored Easter custom — the Sunday morning Fifth Avenue Easter bonnet stroll — once turned the […]

Categories
Parks and Recreation Podcasts

Who was Andrew Haswell Green? Say hello to “the most important leader in Gotham’s long history.”

PODCAST EPISODE 300 — Andrew Haswell Green helped build Central Park and much of upper Manhattan, oversaw the formation of the New York Public Library, assisted in the foundation of great institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History and the Bronx Zoo, and even organized the city’s first significant historical preservation group, saving New […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

The hole that swallowed Greenpoint and other treasures at Old NYC

The New York Public Library‘s Old NYC interface is pretty much one of the best things to happen to New York City history this year. It selects photographs from their extensive archives and maps them out — all five boroughs and pretty much most major intersections.  It’s like a Google Maps street-view of the past. […]

Categories
Parks and Recreation Podcasts

Bryant Park: The Fall and Rise of Midtown’s Most Elegant Public Space

NEW PODCAST  In our last show, we left the space that would become Bryant Park as a disaster area; its former inhabitant, the old Crystal Palace, had tragically burned to the ground in 1858. The area was called Reservoir Square for its proximity to the imposing Egyptian-like structure to its east, but it wouldn’t keep […]

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf

“A History of New York in 101 Objects” by Sam Roberts: or why you should never throw anything out

BOOK REVIEW Looking at history as a collection of objects is a pursuit best suited for a hoarder.  Every item strewn along the timeline has the potential of being totemic to human experience.  A similar review of your own life might imbue symbolic power to such things as an old teddy bear or a dried […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

The link between Ladies Mile and the New York Public Library

Arnold, Constable and Co’s new Fifth Avenue store.  Today it house the lending library for the New York Public Library. When did Ladies Mile — New York’s elegant Gilded Age shopping district — finally become un-fashionable? Unlike the slow demise of so many neighborhoods in the city’s past, the end of Ladies Mile was closely […]

Categories
Museums

Start 2014 by seeing three of the best exhibitions of 2013 — Armory Show, Lewis Hine, the ABCs of children’s books

Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year to go to more museums?  To be more cultured? To know, generally speaking, what’s going on in this great big city in 2014?  Then start with these three terrific history-related exhibitions — some of best shows from last year — either at their half-way points or […]

Categories
Mysterious Stories Pop Culture

The real ‘Ghostbusters’: 25 spooky, historical New York facts about 1984’s slimiest supernatural comedy

Malevolent entities and pretty special effects drape themselves over New York City. I have gained an incredible appreciation for the Ivan Reitman-directed horror comedy Ghostbusters ever since we started recording ghost-story podcasts seven years ago. This goofy, supernatural tale starring Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson was one of the biggest hits of […]

Categories
Museums

The New York Public Library’s old-timey 3D magic maker

Stop what you’re doing and go play around with the New York Public Library‘s addictive Stereograminator, which gives you their collection of stereograph photography and the ability to animate them, emulating the ‘3D effect’ audiences who first viewed them would have experienced. Go here for the fun. The originals are below:

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Thieves of Book Row: Strange treasure among the stacks inspires New York’s most intellectual black market

The used bookstores of Book Row, the above shot from Fourth Avenue and 10th Street, 1938 (courtesy NYPL)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 […]

Good grief! New York’s Madison Avenue connection to CBS’s original broadcast of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

The first time: A TV Guide advertisement from 1965 announcing the upcoming Charlie Brown special, “presented … by the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola.” [source] A Charlie Brown Christmas, the holiday special to end all holiday specials, needed a little encouragement from the Madison Avenue advertising world in 1965 to spring into existence. […]

Categories
Holidays

Good grief! Madison Avenue’s connection to ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

The first time: A TV Guide advertisement from 1965 announcing the upcoming Charlie Brown special, “presented … by the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola.” [source] A Charlie Brown Christmas, the holiday special to end all holiday specials, needed a little encouragement from the Madison Avenue advertising world in 1965 to spring into existence. […]

Categories
Podcasts

The Croton Aqueduct: How New York got its drinking water

Above: The Croton Reservoir in 1850, in what would soon become Central Park. (NYPL)PODCAST One of the great challenges faced by a growing, 19th-century New York City was the need for a viable, clean water supply. We take water for granted today. But before the 1830s, citizens relied on cisterns to collect rainwater, a series […]

Categories
Bowery Boys Bookshelf

Langston Hughes: A few Harlem stops on his birthday

Dapper gentlemen: At a 1924 celebration in Langston’s honor, at the home of Regina Andrews on 580 St. Nicholas Avenue. The author is to the far left, followed by future sociologists Charles S. Johnson and E. Franklin Frazier; novelist and future doctor Rudolph Fisher; and Hubert T. Delany, who would become a New York justice […]

Two Lions: A centennial for the New York Public Library

“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the Earth as the Free Public Library — this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.” –Andrew CarnegieThe doors of the main branch of the New York Public Library (a.k.a. the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) opened 100 years ago this […]