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Amusements and Thrills Health and Living

The Bowery Boys New York City swimsuit edition, 1880-1920

 The notion of organized ‘ocean bathing’ — actually going into the water for health, relaxation and enjoyment — was really a 19th century invention, first popularized in the United States during the 1830s at the Marine Pavilion on the Rockaway Peninsula. For propriety’s sake, people would enter a bathing hut hitched to a horse and […]

The New York monkey fad of 1907: From Fifth Avenue to the fire department, primates were fashionable companions

The wacky IKEA monkey story of the past few days got me to wondering about wild animals as pets here in New York. After all, the wealthiest classes collected all sorts of unusual beasts for their amusement during the 19th century.  So many in fact that the Central Park Zoo — or Menagerie, as it was […]

The New York monkey fad of 1907: From Fifth Avenue to the fire department, primates were fashionable companions

The wacky IKEA monkey story of the past few days got me to wondering about wild animals as pets here in New York. After all, the wealthiest classes collected all sorts of unusual beasts for their amusement during the 19th century.  So many in fact that the Central Park Zoo — or Menagerie, as it was […]

“Not since the Great Blizzard!” “Bigger than 1821!” Hurricane Sandy inspires historical superlatives

When things get really, really bad, history provides validation and context.   The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy has already inspired newscasters, meteorologists and journalists to reach to the greatest disasters in New York City history for comparison. These can seem very hyperbolic at times and even a little weird. (‘7 Devastating Hurricanes: Where Will Sandy Rank?‘ […]

Notes from the podcast (#140) Rockaway Beach

Behold the insanity: (Above) A lithograph of the Rockaway Beach Hotel, one of the most notorious failures in American history A Song About Brooklyn: I gave you a little taste of a poem about the Rockaways by balladeer Henry John Sharpe. Yes, that’s right, this is actually a song, with music by Henry Russell. Click […]

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Podcasts

The Rockaways and Rockaway Beach: The strange fortunes of New York’s former resort oasis and amusement getaway

The entrance to Rockaways’ Playland in the 1960s, one of the more nostalgic reminders of an era in the Rockaways gone by. (Image courtesy the blog Sand In Your Shoes)PODCAST The Rockaways are a world unto its own, a former resort destination with miles of beach facing into the Atlantic Ocean, a collection of diverse […]

Eight forgotten roller coasters from all five boroughs!

If you’re ever attempting to make the case that New York isn’t as fun as it used to be, just use the following post as an illustration. The New York City area was once home to dozens of roller coasters, set up at major amusement destinations around the city, in every borough. Even Manhattan! Coney […]

Rockaway Playland: all our toys are gone

ABOVE: The long-gone Rockaway Playland, Queens answer to Coney Island at Rockaway Beach that was wiped away for condo developments in 1987. A friendly reminder of what could have happened to Coney Island. Look here for a huge selection of postcards remembering this forgotten Queens amusement park. Below: Color saturated nighttime, circa 1939