The abstract beauty of Robert Moses’ most horrifying idea

This is beautiful because it’s not real: a cross-section of Paul Rudolph’s cross-Manhattan proposal, looking east towards the two approaches consuming the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges. This is your last week to catch the fascinating and strange drawings of Paul Rudolph at the Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery in Cooper Union. Rudolph drafted proposals for… Read More

Podcast Rewind: the glory days of Shea Stadium

A special illustrated version of our podcast on Shea Stadium (Episode #62) is now available on our NYC History Archive feed. Just hit play and images of the things we’re talking about appear on any compatible media player. As the Mets wrap up their season this weekend at their new home Citi Field, I thought… Read More

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Gracie Mansion: How a bucolic summer home survived a couple wars, a society feud and a few live-in mayors

Photo by the Wurts Brothers, date unknown. Courtesy NYPL Archibald Gracie admired the extraordinary vistas at Horn’s Hook — overlooking the East River and the churning waters of Hell’s Gate — and decided to build a house here. Little did he know what an extraordinary journey this comfy little Federal home would take over the… Read More

The legacy of Robert Moses, according to others

High, high above Randall’s Island and the Triborough Bridge, 1949, photographer Yale Joel, courtesy Google Life Images“You can draw any kind of pictures you like on a clean slate and indulge your every whim in the wilderness in laying out a New Delhi, Canberra and Brasilia, but when you operate in an overbuilt metropolis you… Read More

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Podcasts Preservation

Robert Moses: Did he save New York — or destroy it?

Photo above: Robert Moses, October 1952 by Alfred Eisensteadt (Courtesy Google Life) PODCAST: EPISODE 100 We obviously had to spend our anniversary show with the Power Broker himself, everybody’s favorite Parks Commissioner — Robert Moses. A healthy debate about Moses will divide your friends, and we provide the resources to make your case for both… Read More

Mayor John O’Brien: his heart is as black as yours!

Above: An unemployment line in November 1933. The O’Brien administration offers no relief to the city. 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 John Patrick O’BrienIn office: 1933 There’s… Read More

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Shakespeare in the Park: the drama behind the drama

What started in a tiny East Village basement grew to become one of New York’s most enduring summer traditions, Shakespeare in the Park, featuring world class actors performing the greatest dramas of the age. But another drama was brewing just as things were getting started. It’s Robert Moses vs. Shakespeare! Joseph Papp vs. the city!… Read More

How Erin Brockovich saved the East River ampitheater

I’ve always been a little fascinated by that small ampitheatre that’s located in Manhattan’s East River Park (near Corlear’s Hook). For years it just seemed so hopelessly abandoned. In the past few years though it’s been making a comeback, featuring the occasional live concert and offering a unique, leafy respite for joggers. The East River… Read More

World’s Fair 1939: Here’s to the future, 70 years later

Seventy years ago, one of the strangest displays of American progress ever organized opened its doors in Flushing Meadows, Queens — the 1939-40 World’s Fair. This celebration of human advancement — as demonstrated through miles of utopian kitsch and strikingly bizarre architecture — was a reason for Robert Moses to turn the unsightly Corona Ash… Read More

Bloomberg’s Time Square plan: a blast from the past?

ABOVE: Park Avenue — before the cars came I’ve posted the extraordinary picture above of pre-1920s Park Avenue a couple times in the past, but I wanted to do so again in light of Michael Bloomberg’s recent proposal to turn Times Square and Herald Square into partial traffic-free plazas. His plan calls for “traffic lanes… Read More

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Podcasts

PODCAST: Freedomland U.S.A.

What is Freedomland U.S.A.? An unusual theme park in the Bronx, only in existence for less than five years, Freedomland has become the object of fascination for New York nostalgia lovers everywhere. Created by an outcast of Walt Disney’s inner circle, Freedomland practically defines 60s kitsch, with dozens of rides and amusements related to saccharine… Read More

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Name that Neighborhood: what exactly is a Throgs Neck?

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. What is a Throgs Neck? And why isn’t it a Throggs… Read More

Patrick Henry McCarren: how a politican became a pool

Patrick Henry McCarren — best known today for leaving his last name to a park and a swimming pool — was a complicated figure, so it makes sense he should be considered a sort of godfather to a rather complicated neighborhood like Williamsburg. McCarren became the voice of Greenpoint and Williamsburg at a pivotal time… Read More

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Podcasts

PODCAST: Shea Stadium

The Mets are movin’ out to Citi Field, but we can’t overlook the great stories contained in their old home, Shea Stadium, a Robert Moses project took years to get off the ground and has been populated with world class ball players, crazed Beatles fans, and one very mysterious black cat. William Shea, who essentially… Read More

Ashes to ashes: Queens literary landscape

Pic courtesy New York City Department of Parks & Recreation “About half way between West Egg** and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic… Read More