Categories
Parks and Recreation

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 that name for […]

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Christmas Robert Moses

And Now … Two Christmas Poems By Robert Moses

My new column for A24 Films is up over on their 1981 site (in support of the film A Most Violent Year). 1981 was the year that Robert Moses died, and his death sparked new discussions into what his legacy to the New York City area truly was.  In a word: automobiles.  You can read […]

Categories
Bridges

A very happy 50th birthday to the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge! Ten facts you may not know about the bridge’s origins

The new span in 1964, photographed by the Wurts Brothers (MCNY) The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge — the first land crossing between Staten Island and the rest of New York City — officially opened for traffic fifty years ago today. It is one of America’s greatest bridges and a graceful monumental presence in New York Harbor.  Below […]

Categories
Podcasts Queens History

Ruins of the World’s Fair: The New York State Pavilion, or how Philip Johnson’s futuristic architecture was almost forgotten

A little bit Jetsons, a little bit Gladiator, a little bit P.T Barnum. Photo/Marco Catini PODCAST The ruins of the New York State Pavilion, highlight of the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, have become a kind of unofficial Statue of Liberty of Queens, greeting people as they head to and from LaGuardia and […]

Categories
Queens History Robert Moses

Robert Moses rejected this terrifying Margaret Keane painting from hanging at the 1964-65 World’s Fair

The World’s Fair of 1964-65 at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was a major American event forward-looking in its intent and, in many ways, backwards in its practice.  In particular, Robert Moses did not care for cheap carnival amusements, nor did he care for music or art that was particular edgy or controversial. Moses’ tastes ruled supreme […]

Categories
Queens History Robert Moses

Robert Moses rejected this terrifying Margaret Keane painting from hanging at the 1964-65 World’s Fair

The World’s Fair of 1964-65 at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was a major American event forward-looking in its intent and, in many ways, backwards in its practice.  In particular, Robert Moses did not care for cheap carnival amusements, nor did he care for music or art that was particular edgy or controversial. Moses’ tastes ruled supreme […]

Categories
Queens History

The religious controversy behind a lonely Roman column just standing around by itself in Flushing Meadows Park

. The second oldest manmade object in New York City — outside, that is, not in a museum or private collection — is a solitary little Roman column built in 120 AD for the Temple of Artemis in the ancient city of Jerash.  It once stood among a chorus of ‘whispering columns’, creating an effect […]

Categories
Museums Podcasts

The wonderful mysteries of the Guggenheim Museum, the Frank Lloyd Wright ziggurat turned on its head

From inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s inverted ziggurat (Photo courtesy Thais) It’s ancient mysteries week on the Bowery Boys! What, you ask, I thought you only did New York City history?  In fact, at least two great Manhattan landmarks evoke the great mysteries of ancient times, meant to bring mystical energy and revelation to one of […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

History in the Making 4/25: In Memory of a Horrible Fire

Above: A dramatic depiction of a fire which took place 160 years ago today. W. T. Jennings was a fine gentleman’s clothing store located at 231 Broadway, on the site of today’s Woolworth Building.  A tremendous fire took the building on the evening of April 25, 1854, causing thousands of dollars in damage and destroying the […]

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Queens History Robert Moses

Assorted mishaps from the 1964 New York World’s Fair — in its first month and before it even opened

Certainly Robert Moses expected there to be a few little problems to arise at the opening of the 1964 World’s Fair on April 22, 1964.  And for the most part, the most popular attractions launched without a hitch.  But a host of bad press on opening day and a litter of minor issues created a […]

Categories
Parks and Recreation Podcasts

The ragged, rebellious history of Tompkins Square Park

A condescending illustration of Tompkins Square Park from the New York journal Hearth and Home, 1873. (NYPL)   Central Park has frequently been called ‘the people’s park,” but we think Tompkins Square Park may have a better claim to that title.  From its inception, this East Village recreational spot — named for Vice President Daniel […]

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Robert Moses

Robert Moses was born 125 years ago today. Here’s ten ways to celebrate/mourn his magnificent, controversial legacy

One hundred and twenty-five years ago today, Robert Moses was unleashed upon the world, born in New Haven, Connecticut, on Dwight Street.  He remains today one of the most powerful civic figures in American history, and obviously one of the most controversial.  Because of Moses, we have the modern New York City.  Many of its […]

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
Queens History

The Corona Ash Dump: Brooklyn’s burden on Queens, a vivid literary inspiration and bleak, rat-filled landscape

Ah, take in the horrid reality of the Corona marshes with their ashes, manure and garbage! (Courtesy CUNY) Outside of probably Hell, there is no literary landscape as forlorn and soul-crushing as the ash dumps of Corona, Queens. “This is the valley of ashes,” writes Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat […]

Categories
Queens History

The Corona Ash Dump: Brooklyn’s burden on Queens, a vivid literary inspiration and bleak, rat-filled landscape

Ah, take in the horrid reality of the Corona marshes with their ashes, manure and garbage! (Courtesy CUNY) Outside of probably Hell, there is no literary landscape as forlorn and soul-crushing as the ash dumps of Corona, Queens. “This is the valley of ashes,” writes Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, “a fantastic farm where ashes […]