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Wartime New York

New York doughnut history: From Washington Irving’s olykoeks to doughnut huts in Union Square

Today is National Doughnut Day which is not a real holiday although that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating in whatever powdered, glazed, creme-filled way you see fit. However you will be surprised to learn that this day traces its roots to the Salvation Army and World War I. To provide for the American troops fighting in France in […]

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Health and Living

Earth Day in New York City 1970

Mayor John Lindsay pulled out all the stops for the first official Earth Day on April 22, 1970, with such a show that one could be mistaken in the belief that the holiday was created here. (It was officially sanctioned in San Francisco the year before.) In honor of the inaugural environmental holiday, Lindsay authorized Fifth Avenue closed […]

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Landmarks Podcasts

The Origin of Broadway: The Story of a Street

PODCAST What makes a street so extraordinary that it becomes a destination in itself? What makes it Broadway? This is the history of New York City’s most famous street and a progression through the entire history of the city. In this episode, Tom is joined by Fran Leadon, the author of a new history of Broadway, called Broadway: […]

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Parks and Recreation Podcasts

The Secrets of Gramercy Park (and you don’t even need a key)

Looking down on Gramercy Park, 1944 (Courtesy Museum of the City of New York) PODCAST Gramercy Park is Manhattan’s only private park, a prohibited place for most New Yorkers. However we have your keys to the history of this significant and rather unusual place, full of the city’s greatest inventors, civic leaders and entertainers. Literally […]

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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
Wartime New York

Decorating the Flatiron Building with cannons and silver coins

At the very first-floor corner of the Flatiron Building once sat the trusty United Cigar Store.  Being so striking a location in such an unusual building, the cigar store was often decorated occasions. For instance, one hundred years ago today (April 1, 1914), the windows were filled with 7,150 silver dollars as part of a […]

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Health and Living

America’s first free animal hospital, at 350 Lafayette Street, with a roof garden for sick horses

The first official patient of the Free Hospital and Dispensary for Animals at 350 Lafayette Street, under the care of veterinarian Bruce Blair.The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was formed in 1866 by philanthropist Henry Bergh.  Eight years later, he helped co-found the New York Society for the Prevention of […]

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Pop Culture

The first Sherlock Holmes film ever was made in Union Square. And the second? In Flatbush, Brooklyn

Above: While Sherlock Holmes made his film debut in 1900, he hit the stage a bit earlier.  William Gillette was the most acclaimed Sherlock of the day, touring the United States in a play he co-wrote with the detective’s creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  After a tryout in Buffalo, the play made its debut at […]

Categories
On The Waterfront

In 1863, the Russians invaded New York City

In 1863, New Yorkers flocked to the waterfront to see a startling sight — Russian war ships in New York Harbor. The fleet of Russian ships, sailing into New York Harbor in September 1863, as depicted by Harper’s Weekly. They were here as a display of force, but not to threaten the United States. Russia’s […]

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Holidays Newspapers and Newsies

Historic or disappointing? How New York newspapers covered the first Labor Day — September 5, 1882

Clothing cutters, horseshoers, shoemakers, upholsterers, printers, house painters, freight handlers, cabinet makers, varnishers, cigar makers, bricklayers and piano makers. The first American Labor Day began on September 5, 1882, with 10,000 workers from a wide variety of occupations circling Union Square, then parading up to the area of today’s Bryant Park. (A picnic ‘after party’ […]

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Health and Living Those Were The Days

Close shave: A century ago, barbers riot through New York, leaving half-shaved men in vacated barber shops

A barber shop at the Hotel de Gink on the Bowery, circa 1910-15 [LOC] The fight for worker’s rights swept through a variety of occupations over a century ago as New York City laborers rebelled against unfair corporate practices and unsafe working conditions. Garment workers marched the avenues in protest following the tragic Triangle Factory […]

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Pop Culture

A film milestone in New York, 1913, but sadly out of sync

 The future (almost): Edison’s kinetophone system On February 17, 1913, on the day that the Armory Show was preparing to reinvent American art, Thomas Edison was attempting a revolution of his own for the young moving pictures industry. On that date, he debuted a new projection system called the kinetophone in four vaudeville houses in New […]

The Brooklyn Academy of Music: Enduring floods, fires and snobbery to become New York’s oldest home for the arts

PODCAST One of America’s oldest cultural institutions, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (or BAM) has an unusual history that spans over 150 years and two separate locations. We trace the story from the earliest roots of a Manhattan-Brooklyn rivalry and a discussion of high-class tastes to the greatest stars of the performing arts, including a couple […]

Categories
Mad Men

‘Mad Men’ notes: The secrets of the New Yawk accent

On the upper floor — or flooah? — with the upper crust: Ladies coats at Sak’s Fifth Avenue in 1960, photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt (LIFE)WARNING The article contains a few spoilers about last night’s ‘Mad Men’ on AMC, so if you’re a fan of the show, come back once you’re watched the episode. A culture […]

Autumn Illustrated: A publishing house in Union Square

Have a little fall color, courtesy a 101-year-old edition of one of America’s most important childrens literary magazines. St. Nicholas Illustrated Magazine, filled with full-color artwork, contests and short stories by prominent writers like Mark Twain and Louisa May Alcott, was created by Charles Scribner’s publishing company in 1873, notable for employing one of the […]