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Adventures In Old New York

The Great Fire of July 19, 1845: Lower Manhattan in Flames

The devastating results of the monstrous Great Fire of 1835 helped change the course of Manhattan — hastening the residential migration up the island, rewriting the architectural nature of downtown and essentially erasing the past. There would never be another fire of such intensity and magnitude. But New York didn’t suddenly become fire-proof. In fact, […]

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Holidays Podcasts

A New Year in Old New York: A history of celebration from Times Square to Chinatown

PODCAST The ultimate history of New Year’s celebrations in New York City. This is the story of the many ways in which New Yorkers have ushered in the coming year, a moment of rebirth, reconciliation, reverence and jubilation. In a mix of the old and new, we present a history of early New Year’s festivities, before […]

Categories
Neighborhoods

Pokemon Go is indirectly an excellent mobile app for history buffs

This weekend I strolled around Carroll Park in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and observed at least 8 or 9 people staring intently at their phones, occasionally wiping their index fingers rapidly at the screen. In the center of the park is an 18-foot-tall World War I memorial dedicated in 1921, emblazoned with the names of those […]

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Gilded Age New York

The Boss Tweed connection to St. Sava, the cathedral destroyed by fire

New York City lost a very interesting landmark this past weekend. Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, at West 25th and Broadway, was destroyed in a spectacular and mysterious four-alarm fire on Sunday, its windows shattered in shafts of flame, its ceiling reduced to cinders. If you’re a podcast listener, you may know this place […]

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Holidays

The New York Christmas tradition in an uptown cemetery

Clement Clarke Moore, the lord of Chelsea (the manor for which the neighborhood is named), lived a long and distinguished life as an educator and land developer, dying in 1863 at his home in Newport, Rhode Island.  He was originally buried in the churchyard of St. Luke-in-the-Field (pictured below) in the area of today’s West Village . […]

Categories
Holidays

Midnight in Times Square: The history of New Year’s Eve in New York City

PODCAST The tale of New York City’s biggest annual party from its inception on New Years Eve 1904 to the magnificent spectacle of the 21st century.  In this episode, we look back on the one day of the year that New Yorkers look forward. New Years Eve is the one night that millions of people […]

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Podcasts Skyscrapers

The Tallest Building In New York: A Short History

  PODCAST One World Trade Center was declared last year the tallest building in America, but it’s a very different structure from the other skyscrapers who have once held that title. In New York, owning the tallest building has often been like possessing a valuable trophy, a symbol of commercial and social superiority. In a […]

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Podcasts Revolutionary History

Aaron Burr vs. Alexander Hamilton: The terrible consequences of an ugly insult

PODCAST Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met at a clearing in Weehawken, NJ, in the early morning on July 11, 1804, to mount the most famous duel in American history. But why did they do it? This is the story of two New York lawyers — two Founding Fathers — that so detested each other […]

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Neighborhoods

A short history of a short street named Raisin Street

A 1932 photo of 34-36 Barrow Street by Charles Von Urban, courtesy the Museum of the City of New York. Click here to see what this section of the street looks like today In this week’s Ghost Stories of Old New York podcast, Tom speaks of the ghosts at romantic restaurant One If By Land, […]

Categories
Museums

The New York Public Library’s old-timey 3D magic maker

Stop what you’re doing and go play around with the New York Public Library‘s addictive Stereograminator, which gives you their collection of stereograph photography and the ability to animate them, emulating the ‘3D effect’ audiences who first viewed them would have experienced. Go here for the fun. The originals are below:

Categories
Skyscrapers

Before Woolworth: The early towers of lower Broadway at the birth of the skyscraper boom

Next week is the 100th birthday of the opening of the Woolworth Building.  The classic skyscraper designed by Cass Gilbert changed everything about perceptions of tall buildings in Manhattan — for good and ill.  Suddenly, towers could be as graceful and important as monuments, and as playful and enigmatic as castles. New Yorkers were anxious […]

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Know Your Mayors

Where are New York’s mayors buried? An (almost) complete list

Koch’s tombstone, bearing the inscription: “‘My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.’ (Daniel Pearl, 2002, just before he was beheaded by a Muslim terrorist.)” Ed Koch likes to get a jump on things. The former mayor, who served as mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, went ahead a […]

The wheelhouse of Wall Street 1885

No ‘Mad Men Notes’ this week as I’m out of town, but please enjoy this captivating shot of mad men on Wall Street, circa 1885, courtesy the Cornell University Library. The more you look at it, the more interesting details emerge. Click on picture for much greater detail. Trinity Church, at far left, would still […]

The Limelight – a church, then a nightclub, now a mall!

The sanguine days of the Holy Communion, pictured here over 150 years before it would be reconfigured as a shopping mall (from Booth’s History of New York, mid 19th century, courtesy NYPL) On Friday afternoon, yet another completely implausible transformation will overtake Holy Communion Episcopal Church when it reopens as the Limelight Marketplace, a spacious […]

Captain Kidd and his swanky New York waterfront home

Above: A fanciful painting of Captain Kidd in New York Harbor, by Jean-Leon Gerome Ferris, 1911. Notice Fort James (former Fort Amsterdam) and the adjoining windmill in the background In this week’s podcast, I refer to New Yorker and Trinity Church benefactor William Kidd as one of the most notorious pirates of the Atlantic Ocean. […]