How New York City celebrated the FIRST London Olympics

Crowds gather around the steps of New York City Hall to welcome the procession of American Olympic athletes returning from the 1908 games in London. Pictures courtesy Library of Congress.OLYMPICS ROUNDUP London has hosted the Olympics four times, New York City zero.  The city tried for the current games in an ultimately unsuccessful bid back […]


Nostalgia for Astoria Pool, an early Robert Moses project with a high diving, Olympic-sized history

Mermaidens: Five sisters in bathing suits pose on steps of Astoria Pool, circa 1938. Courtesy the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION Until May 21st, you can vote every day in the Partners In Preservation initiative, a program that will award grant money to certain New York cultural and historical sites among 40 nominees. Having trouble […]

Re-visiting the secrets of Randall’s and Ward’s Islands

“Gimme penny, poppy?” The desperate scene at the Randalls Island nurseries, circa 1867, according to Harpers Weekly journal. (image courtesy NYPL) Tom was hit with the flu this week (not the swine kind as far as I can tell) so we don’t have a regular podcast for you. It’ll be ready by next week! In […]

Is that any way to treat an Olympian?

Has an internationally famous monument ever had to endure such grave indignities as the Discus Thrower of Randall’s Island? Scandal! Nothing proclaims the revitalization of Randall’s Island more than this distinctive, classically inspired statue by Greek sculptor Kostas Dimitriadis. The Discus Thrower is the most graphic symbol of the changing island and a hallmark of […]


PODCAST: Randall’s Island and the 1936 Olympic trials

PODCAST The smaller islands of the East River reveal fascinating secrets of the city’s past, and Randall’s and Ward’s Islands are no exceptions. Found out how these former potter’s fields are related to the most important Olympics-related event New York City has ever seen. The cast includes a swashbuckling British engineer, Jesse Owens, Tony Bennett, […]

The oddest bridge in New York City

I’ve never quite understood the Ward’s Island Footbridge which sits at the mouth of the Harlem River like a half-finished child-sized model of an actual bridge. It’s intriguing, mystifying and quaint, rather like some rusting antique in a flea market. This bridge, with its entrance at 103rd street, connects Manhattan to Ward’s Island. Why would […]

Boycott the Olympic Games!

It’s been awhile since America faced the potential of an Olympic Games boycott. The debate about Beijing is still being waged in the press. America withdrew from the Moscow Olympics in 1980. And in 1936, there was an equally emphatic cry to boycott the Olympics in Berlin, Germany — and New York City led the […]