Holidays Those Were The Days

Bowlers and Bonnets: A History of the New York Easter Parade

For almost 150 years, budding fashionistas have been prancing up and down Fifth Avenue on Easter Sunday, displaying elaborate bonnets, hairdos and colorful outfits. Given that modern holiday celebrations are often relatively new (for instance, trick-or-treating has only been a common activity on Halloween since the 1950s), this decorative practice located at this particular spot… Read More


Easter in Old New York: The Fifth Avenue Fashion Stroll

In the picture above: People in Sunday finery stroll past the New York Public Library building. The library had not even been open two years by the time this picture was taken in March 23, 1913. New York City’s time-honored Easter custom — the Sunday morning Fifth Avenue Easter bonnet stroll — once turned the… Read More

Religious History

Happy Pope Day! A history of the holiest of New York tourists

Pope Francis arrives in New York City today — part of his first-ever trip to the United States — and the city is rolling out the red carpet. In fact, all available carpets are being rolled out and even some throw rugs. New York loves Popes. (Not always of course.) Only the Marquis de Lafayette… Read More

True Crime

Terror on Sunday: The failed plot to blow up St. Patrick’s Cathedral

On the afternoon of October 13, 1914, a bomb exploded in the northwest corner of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, sending deadly iron shrapnel flying through the room. A stained glass window was shattered and an 18-inch hole (shown in the picture below) was blown into the floor. While the pews were partially filled with worshipers, there… Read More

Midtown in Pastel: A scene from 1960

Click into the picture to enjoy the details. Especially that lady’s hot eyewear!Pedestrians waiting to cross 50th Street, in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Taken in 1960. Photo by Leonard Mccombe

Landmarks Podcasts

Notes from the podcast (#134) St. Patrick’s Cathedral

A spectacle from a hundred years ago: St. Patrick’s in 1912, in a gauze of electric lights. The picture below this post illustrates how this particular light performance made the church standout among the as-of-yet mild landscape of Midtown East. Pictures courtesy the Library of Congress We hope you like our new podcast on St.… Read More

Landmarks Podcasts

St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Stately grace in bustling Midtown, thanks to a fiery archbishop and a venerable hairdresser

During its early years, St Patrick’s neighbors were luxurious mansions. Today the surrounding streets house retail and tourist attractions. (Picture courtesy Library of Congress)PODCAST One of America’s most famous churches and a graceful icon upon the landscape of midtown Manhattan, St. Patrick’s Cathedral was also one of New York’s most arduous building projects, taking decades… Read More

So, do we call it St. Patrick’s Old Basilica now?

New York’s original St. Patrick’s Cathedral located in Little Italy — or NoLIta, if you must– just got a serious upgrade yesterday, when the Pope deemed the old, revered Catholic church an officially sanctioned basilica. A Catholic basilica is a church with ‘certain privileges’, an elite designation where various religious rituals can take place. This… Read More

Anne Hutchison vs. Benjamin Linus from ‘Lost’!

“Heretic, you are hereby banished from the island!” I got into my love of New York City history by way of several years of interest in American religious history. So I was personally looking forward to the three-part American Experience series ‘God In America’ (on PBS), which got its start last night. I recommend it… Read More

First officer down: Highbinder riots at St Peter’s Church

Broadway and City Hall, in 1809. The mobs of the so-called ‘Augustus Street Riot’ would have scuffled just to the west of this illustration. (Courtesy NYPL) According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, there have been 778 New York law enforcement officers who have died in the course of duty. Fourteen of the last fifteen… Read More

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

The Saint Patrick’s Day parade, as it looked 100 years ago, i.e. about the same as it’ll look today… Our podcast on the history of McSorley’s Old Ale House Photo courtesy Corbis

PODCAST: Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral

We don’t have a new podcast this week, so I thought I’d take an old one and pull a George Lucas on it, re-cutting it, improving the sound quality and taking out some of the dumb sound effects. I guess you’d say — it’s the Bowery Boys remastered! Here’s our ninth episode on old St… Read More

Pope-fest 2008: The Holy (Sight) See

Pope John Paul greets the crowds at Yankee Stadium Welcome Benedict! I’m not Catholic, but I do love a good papal visit to New York City. Nothing could be more absurd. The leader of the Catholic Church, a man who traces his spiritual lineage all the way back to the apostles — delivering mass at… Read More


PODCAST: St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral

The fashionable district of NoLIta happens to be home to a few ghosts as well, tucked behind the walls of St Patrick’s Old Cathedral. Come with us as we unearth some info about a mysterious New York fraternal order, the occupants of a few cemetery crypts, and the origins of a legendary film director. Listen… Read More