Happy birthday New Amsterdam, have a burgomaster!

— Vingboons, View on New Amsterdam (1664) Click on pic for closer view (courtesy Henry Hudson 400) “By proclaimation of February 2, 1653, Director General Peter Stuyvesant informed the inhabitants of New Amsterdam that henceforth the Island of Manhattan would constitute the City of New Amsterdam and that the City would be ruled by two… Read More


Haunted Tales of New York: Urban Phantoms

Historic Gay Street, 1940: a tiny little lane literally crammed with ghosts It’s time for our third annual ‘ghost stories’ episode, our mix of historical facts and spooky legends from the annals of New York’s past. For this round of scary tales, we visit a famous 19th century townhouse haunted by a lonely spinster, a… Read More

Execution Corner: 13th Street and 2nd Avenue

Public hangings were a rare but grisly part of 19th Century New York life. The one illustrated above is from 1862. Another would famously haunt the area near an East Village intersection. I pass through the intersection of 13th Street and 2nd Avenue fairly frequently on my way home from work. The plain intersection is… Read More

Paging Dr. La Montagne, Manhattan’s first physician

Nothing underscores the harshness of early New Amsterdam more than the notion that the Dutch settlement, which first settled at the tip of Manhattan in 1625, didn’t actually have a real trained physician for almost twelve years. Most likely, in these earliest years, medical emergencies were handled by ship surgeons and non-professionals skilled in a… Read More

Name That Neighborhood: Wall Street Blues

A simplistic but colorful view of “Man Mados” or “New Amsterdam” in 1664 (click in to inspect the detail) One of the first facts you learn as a student of New York City history is that Wall Street, that canyon of tall buildings and center of the American financial world, is named for an actual… Read More

Name That Neighborhood: Who is Jonas Bronck?

Some New York neighborhoods are simply named for their location on a map (East Village, Midtown). Others are given prefabricated designations (SoHo, Dumbo). But a few retain names that link them intimately with their pasts. Other entries in this series can be found here. The Bronx is one of two boroughs with names derived from… Read More

Things To Come: 1908!

The New York City skyline, picture taken in 1908 (click to see detail) Welcome to the future of New York City — the amazing year of 1908! A look into the crystal ball find that the following things will happen this year: You Haven’t Yet Come A Long Way, BabyThe New York board of aldermen… Read More


PODCAST: Peter Stuyvesant

Back when New York was New Amsterdam, it was the domain of the bullheaded, pear-growing, peglegged Peter Stuyvesant, who cleaned up the city and gave us our most important street. Find out why he still matters and why he’s the king of the East Village. Listen to it for free on iTunes or other podcasting… Read More