Categories
Film History

New York City stories: Great documentaries about the Apollo Theater, Statue of Liberty and the Bronx

One positive side of the near-infinite television choices we now face in 2019 — more documentaries than ever! And in the past two weeks, HBO Documentaries and PBS’ Independent Lens have given us films that are firmly rooted in New York City history and culture. The Apollo Premieres tonight on HBO Few building embody American […]

Categories
American History Podcasts

The Huddled Masses: Emma Lazarus and the many meanings of the Statue of Liberty

PODCAST The words of “The New Colossus,” written 135 years ago by Jewish poet Emma Lazarus in tribute to the Statue of Liberty, have never been more relevant — or as hotly debated — as they are today. What do they mean to you? “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your […]

Categories
Landmarks

The Statue of Liberty turns 130 years old: Eleven facts about the near calamity that was her 1886 dedication

The Statue of Liberty celebrates her 130th birthday tomorrow. Technically, I suppose, it’s the anniversary of her dedication, a star-studded, pomp-laden ceremony that took place on Friday, October 28, 1886. But for many months previous, she was a fierce presence in the harbor, as the copper monument was arduously stitched together from far flung pieces — including an arm which […]

Categories
True Crime Wartime New York

In 1914, a Jersey City fireworks and munitions plant exploded. Was it sabotage by the Germans?

One hundred years ago today, the Detwiller & Street fireworks plant, located in the Greenville section of Jersey City, exploded in a horrible shower of fire and glass.  Four men were killed instantly and dozens of employees were injured.  Several surrounding buildings “fell to pieces like houses of cards.”   The rumble shook buildings throughout […]

Categories
Amusements and Thrills Bridges

The ten greatest fireworks displays in New York City history

Above: One of my favorite pictures of the Williamsburg Bridge, at its opening in 1903 Nothing befits a fireworks display quite like a skyline to frame it, and no city has a skyline quite like New York City.  And so, despite the obvious dangers of setting off thousands of pounds of explosives in a crowded, […]

Categories
Landmarks Neighborhoods

When the Statue of Liberty left her arm in Madison Square

Above: The arm of the Statue of Liberty stood solitary in Madison Square for six years, from 1876 to 1882. Two hundred years ago today, Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc was born in Paris.  As the godfather of historical restoration, Viollet-le-Duc would rescue countless medieval structures from decay, helping to preserve the spirit of French architecture through […]

Categories
It's Showtime

The Evangelist of Kitsch: Liberace’s final performances, with the Rockettes, at Radio City Music Hall 1986

Liberace is the embodiment of a certain California flamboyance, but New Yorkers were as susceptible to his allure as anyone. In fact, for this brightly-painted musical showman, Radio City Music Hall was a second home.  He continued to smash box office records here year after year as late as the 1980s, well past his prime […]

A startling arrival off Canal Street — 150 years ago today

New York was hundreds of miles from the Union battle lines during the Civil War, but not a single citizen could walk the streets in 1862 without a constant reminder, from banners and fund-raisers to the sight of a man with missing limbs. And a most dramatic example docked at the Canal Street pier 150 […]

Categories
Mad Men

‘Mad Men’ notes: New Jersey invades the Statue of Liberty

The lady of Liberty Island makes an appearance in a 1965 United Airlines ad campaign. Don Draper, of course, prefers American Airlines. (Courtesy Flickr/What Makes The Pie Shop Tick)  WARNING The article contains a few spoilers about last night’s show, so if you’re a fan of the show, come back once you’re watched the episode. ‘Mad […]

Categories
Podcasts

The Stuyvesant, New York’s first apartment building: Imported luxury style for a new middle class

The creation of ‘acceptable’ communal living: The Stuyvesant Flats, at 142 East 18th Street, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, photographed by Berenice Abbott. PODCAST Well, we’re movin’ on up….to the first New York apartment building ever constructed. New Yorkers of the emerging middle classes needed a place to live situated between the townhouse and the […]

Categories
Mysterious Stories

Notes from the Podcast (#130) Haunted Histories of NYC

We had a terrific time recording this year’s ghost-story show — Haunted Histories of New York. Here’s some extra details about our four subjects that were left out of this week’s show. (By the way, if you wouldn’t mind, please vote for us in this year’s 2011 Podcast Awards. We’re in the Best Travel Podcast […]

Categories
Mysterious Stories Podcasts

Haunted Histories of New York: What horrors lie beneath the foundations of the city’s treasured landmarks?

Most Holy Trinity in Bushwick, Brooklyn, shrouded in shadow, a place where the ghosts of former clergy are alleged to lurk the halls and other spirits may torment the nearby school. PODCAST What mischievous phantoms and malevolent spirits haunt the streets of New York City today? In our fifth annual podcast of local ghost stories, […]

‘Fringe’ benefits light up a forgotten New York fort

I’m an unabashed junkie of the sci-fi TV series ‘Fringe’, and the writers (or at one of them) seems to be a fan of New York history. One of the conceits of the series involves an alternate universe with things are just slightly different from ours. Most notably, the World Trade Center was never attacked. […]

Lady Liberté and her little ladies of Paris

From this angle, she looks about the same, but looks can be deceiving (see below). I promise, we’re still doing podcasts! We’ll be back on the twice-a-month schedule starting next week. In the meantime, I’ve actually been away on vacation the past week and a half to another fabulous city and the birthplace of the […]

Hands across New York

I snapped this picture of the giant hand of Madame Tussaud on 42nd Street this weekend, a golden appendage which ominously dangles above her popular wax museum. The massive amputation of a French woman reminded me of a similar disembodiment that occurred over 130 years ago. In 1876, in an effort to raise funds for […]