Before it begins: Emptiness underground, part 2

Like the set of a future German expressionist film, the brand new power station for Interborough Rapid Transit’s underground train service sits ready for use, 1904. (Actually the station isn’t ‘underground’; it sat on the far west side on 58th Street and 11th Avenue) The gleaming yet strangely spooky City Hall Station, still under construction… Read More

Before it begins: Emptiness underground, part 1

Two images of New York subway tunnels from 1904, before regular service began in October. Original photos courtesy Library of Congress, cleaned up editions at Shorpy (The top one is 14th Street station)


New York City’s Elevated Railroads: Journey to a spectacular world of steam trains along the avenues

Above: The Third Avenue Line as it looked running along the Bowery, changing the nature of New York street life, even as its innovations helped expand the city. PODCAST Before there were subways, New York City transported travelers up and down the length of Manhattan by elevated railroad, an almost unreal spectacle to consider today.… Read More

Broadway to go: the horrible commute that never was

Imagine seeing this monstrosity coast up and down Broadway — an elevated railway with cars carried both above and below the track. By the early 1850s, steam engines had revolutionized how people traveled. However, in the heart of densely populated New York, it would have been unfeasible for trains to just pull into town down… Read More

Where the subway ends: neighborhood stations

Above: Outside the Greenpoint Avenue station, Brooklyn I’m giving a shout out to my old dear friend Lisa Gidley, an accomplished photographer currently living in Portland, OR, who has recently re-introduced her fascinating photography series entitled Station to Station. Since it was a collection done between 2002-2004, it’s now technically an intriguing window into recent… Read More

Eliminating the Third Avenue Elevated

Looking up the Bowery in 1920 (from LIFE images) Fifty-four years ago today, Manhattan passengers said goodbye a true vestige of 19th century New York — the elevated railroad. The last ride on the Third Avenue El was taken on May 12, 1955. The line stretched up almost the entire length of Manhattan (from Chatham… Read More


Snow shocked: The Blizzard of 1888

Longacre Square — the future Times Square — after the Blizzard A March blizzard like the one today is discouraging as we’re so close to ridding ourselves of winter forever. But putting it all in perspective, it’ll never top the absolute worst March snowstorm of all time, a snowy catastrophe that completely shut down the… Read More

Know Your Mayors

Know Your Mayors: George B. McClellan Jr.

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. Perhaps no mayor of New York City this side of Fiorello Laguardia has ever overseen so drastic a change to the landscape of the city… Read More

Know Your Mayors: John F. Hylan

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. Fiorello Laguardia has his airport. James Duane has a drug store. Abram Hewitt is immortalized by the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Robert Van Wyck has an expressway… Read More

Hitting the pavement with Rudy Burckhardt

This is your last week to go check out Street Dance, a romantic and wistful collection of New York black-and-white images by Rudy Burckhardt, at the Museum of the City of New York. Burckhardt was obsessed with the city’s scale and motion, finding it frustrating in his early days in the city to properly frame… Read More

Would ‘Post’ master Bryant like his Park today?

Above: Painting of Bryant Park by artist Mike Rohner. Visit his website for some other lovely works. Editor-poet William Cullen Bryant, the 19th century’s most influential publisher of the New York Post, never lived to see Fashion Week or the yearly outdoor Summer Film Festival, the star events hosted in the park that was named… Read More

The Short-Lived Thrill of the Windy Subway

The New York subway was particularly bad this week, with a rainstorm that caused a transit calamity, paralyzing trains and leaving New Yorkers in hot, muggy tunnels waiting for transportation that never arrived. (Gothamist tries to get to the bottom of just exactly why our subway keeps flooding.) However, maybe we wouldnt have this problem… Read More


The Film Forum is in the midst of their five week NYC Noir screening series, featuring some of the best thrillers, mysteries and action films set on the streets of the city. In this blog every Thursday of the series, we’ll feature a bit about one of the films, and encourage you to go check… Read More

Grand Central’s Other Explosion

Wednesday’s steam explosion disaster at 41st Street and Lexington Avenue, which at ‘press time’ had killed one person and injured 44, gave many people that sinister feeling of déjà vu they felt on Sept. 11. It reminded us almost as much of the New York blackout of 2003, with hundreds of people filling the streets… Read More