Friday Night Fever Gilded Age New York

What’s behind the Bronze Door? Gambling in the Gilded Age

A tantalizing stretch of New York nightlife history lies in the shadows, illegally operated, often fueled by police bribes — the opium dens of Chinatown and the speakeasies of the Village and midtown. There were also hundreds of illicit gambling rackets, called ‘poolrooms’, throughout the city in the late 19th century, usually alongside the seediest… Read More

Health and Living

The Turtle Cure: In New York, a German doctor offers an unusual remedy for tuberculosis

“I am here to show what the serum will do,” said the visiting doctor from Berlin. “That is my only answer to those who have natural doubts before they have made observations.” Dr. Friedrich Franz Friedmann had come to New York in February 1913 to tackle one of the city’s most persistent scourges upon its… Read More


The destruction of the Waldorf-Astoria in 1929 gave rise to an even grander New York icon

The original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the ultimate symbol of the Gilded Age, was demolished in the fall and early winter of 1929 to make way for a new building project. That the building project in question happened to be the Empire State Building does not make the loss of the Waldorf-Astoria any less regretful. The storied… Read More

Gilded Age New York Podcasts

The Rise of the Fifth Avenue Mansions: Revisiting Forgotten Architecture of New York’s Gilded Age

PODCAST At the heart of New York’s Gilded Age — the late 19th century era of unprecedented American wealth and excess — were families with the names Astor, Waldorf, Schermerhorn and Vanderbilt, alongside power players like A.T. Stewart, Jay Gould and William “Boss” Tweed. They would all make their homes — and in the case… Read More

Landmarks Podcasts

The Complicated History of the Waldorf-Astoria

PODCAST The surprisingly complex history of one of the world’s most famous hotels. You might think you know this tale, but do we have some surprises for you. The Waldorf-Astoria — or the Waldorf=Astoria or even the Waldorf Astoria — has been a premier name in hotel accommodations since the opening of the very first… Read More

Those Were The Days

Love on the airwaves: New York’s first female radio operator

She’s not exactly a Howard Stern or a Robin Quivers, but Anna A. Nevins does deserve to be considered as something of a radio pioneer in New York. One hundred years ago, ‘wireless telegraphy’ was mostly used to communicate with vessels crossing the Atlantic Ocean. And these weren’t signals with human voices, but rather in… Read More


A trip to Times Square 1904: The Hotel Astor arrives

The Hotel Astor in its opening year, 1904. The Astor was a Waldorf; the Knickerbocker was an Astor. Makes sense? (Photo courtesy NYPL) Longacre Square didn’t become Times Square without the Astor family making a lot of money. Much of the area had been farmland that had been purchased by John Jacob Astor in the… Read More

Lounge Cher: Great moments in wacky NYC music history

Sonny and Cher in New York City (picture courtesy Getty Images) June 1, 1970: Sonny and Cher begin a two-week stint at the Empire Room at the Waldorf-Astoria. The Empire was one of the swankiest hotel lounges in Manhattan, usually the site of stars slightly past their prime, pop and jazz musicians of the prior… Read More

Russia vs. the Waldorf Astoria: Nikita gets stuck

Seeing red: Khrushchev with Fidel Castro in New York (photo by Hank Walker) Nikita Khrushchev, Cold War leader of the Soviet Union, is perhaps the strangest tourist New York has ever seen. Pete Carlson’s new book ‘K Blows Top’ (named for a snarky Daily News headline) documents Khrushchev’s odd and rocky thirteen-day tour through the… 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: The Astors and the Waldorf-Astoria

We’re going to the ‘original’ Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in this podcast to hang with the filthy rich. Our guides are the styling and eccentric Astor family, the centerpiece of 19th Century New York wealth and society. Come along as we weave through a family tree of Williams and John Jacobs, not to mention THE Mrs. Astor,… Read More