Don’t douse the glim! Four infamous dancehalls and dives which made the notorious reputation of Bleecker Street

“There are no lower outcasts in New York than the women who nightly creep out of the darkness and swarm the pavement of Bleecker Street…” L. Hereward, Eclectic Magazine, 1893 Sure, the Bowery was a rough and rowdy avenue, but one looking for more alternative adventures in the late 19th century might have found themselves […]

Mysterious Stories

I Sit On Your Grave: New York’s Hidden Burial Plots

Here’s a chilling thought for the Halloween season: if you’re visiting one of New York’s many amazing parks and squares, most likely you’re standing on land that was formerly used as a cemetery or potter’s field. And in some cases they even left the bodies behind! If you’re fluent in your New York history, you […]

Mayor William Paulding, the very respectable brother

KNOW YOUR MAYORS 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.Mayor William PauldingIn office: 1824-1825; 1827-29 With these early mayors of New York, I’m really beginning to suspect they are chosen for being […]

Mistresses and misnomers: the story of Gay Street

There are few streets in Manhattan as beautiful as Gay Street, that preciously bent path in the West Village that’s been the home to speakeasies and scandals, linking Waverly Place to Christopher Street. Due to its proximity to Christopher, the original heart of New York’s gay and lesbian culture, it also happens to have one […]

Greenwich Village, when it was green and a village

Above: Macdougal Alley in 1936. The plantation home of New Amsterdam director-general Wouter van Twiller would have been situated very close to where this picture was taken. (Find the alley here.) NAME THAT NEIGHBORHOOD Some New York neighborhoods are simply named for their location on a map (East Village, Midtown). Others are given prefabricated designations […]

Where are New York City’s oldest living trees?

Say hello to the Giant, the largest living thing in New York City This week, I’m looking at the oldest things New York City has to offer, by borough. Today’s subject happens to be the very oldest living residents of the city, the trees of New York City. These would be those trees that have […]

At last! Washington Square Park returns

The Washington Square arch, in quieter times The newly symmetrical, freshly renovated Washington Square Park took down the security fences yesterday, finally allowing people back in to enjoy one of Manhattan’s oldest parks. Gothamist has photographs from the park’s grand re-opening yesterday. You might also like to check out our podcast on Washington Square Park […]

Beware Jack The Tripper, scoundrel of the Square!

Washington Square Park, in a 1910 painting by William Glackens While perusing some archive New York Times articles in preparation for this week’s podcast, I came across this unusual piece from May 12, 1892, recounting the futile search for a “maliciously mischievous fellow whom the police want,” a felonious fop tripping ladies in Washington Square […]

Bowery Boys Recommend: Belle of New York

BOWERY BOYS RECOMMEND is an occasional feature where we find an unusual movie or TV show that — whether by accident or design — uniquely captures an era of New York City better than any reference or history book. Other entrants in this particular film festival can be found HERE. Sometimes a movie can tell […]

Jane, stop this crazy thing!

(Jacobs, as seen in Canada) We finally made it over to the Municipal Art Society’s exhibit on the extraordinary Jane Jacobs, community leader and civil planner whose theories on a successful urban landscape are currently fueling community activism today. Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York is part-bio on Jacobs, part inspection of her […]

Snug Harbor: strange garden oasis (Part 1)

(The front entrance to Sailors Snug Harbor, a far more robust little dock back in the day, I’m sure) Sailors Snug Harbor — or Snug Harbor Cultural Center as its called today — is one of Staten Island’s top attractions, yet few people outside of SI really know much about it. If you recall our […]

Washington Square Park: the pictures

Here’s some pictures illustrating a few ideas from our podcast this week. The lovely cluster of residences along Washington Square’s north side called ‘The Row’ (they always look better with snow on them): Early Washington Square was a military parade ground. The unveiling of the Washington Arch in 1888 was so successful that a permanent […]