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On The Waterfront

A short history of New York City’s various Titanic memorials

The South Street Seaport is the home for a great many nautical treasures. It’s also the location of a memorial to nautical tragedy. The Titanic Memorial, a 60-foot white lighthouse, sits in the little plaza at Fulton and Water Streets. This was no mere decorative lighthouse as it seems today. For much of its history, […]

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Parks and Recreation

Remember the Maine Monument!

At Memorial Day celebrations one hundred years ago, one of New York City’s great war memorials was finally unveiled — the Maine Monument, at the southwest corner entrance of Central Park. The monument pays tribute to the 266 American soldiers who perished on the USS Maine, which exploded in Havana, Cuba, on February 15, 1898. […]

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Know Your Mayors

The mayoral inauguration 100 years ago was quite a headache — “the Most Cheerless Day Ever Known at City Hall”

On Wednesday, January 1, 2014, Bill de Blasio will be inaugurated at City Hall to become the 109th Mayor of New York City, sworn in by President Bill Clinton.  Mayoral inaugurations are never very exciting, but they’re often reflected upon later as setting the tone for an administration, a clue to a possible style of […]

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Know Your Mayors Podcasts

The Boy Mayor of New York: John Purroy Mitchel and a series of unfortunate events shake up a New York election

John Purroy Mitchel, the ‘boy mayor’, after his resounding victory. (LOC)PODCAST As New York City enters the final stages of this year’s mayoral election, let’s look back on a decidedly more unusual contest 100 years ago, pitting Tammany Hall and their estranged ally (Mayor William Jay Gaynor) up against a baby-faced newcomer, the (second) youngest […]

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Know Your Mayors

One hundred years ago today, the mayor of New York died

Mayor William Jay Gaynor’s final appearance at City Hall was at a notification rally, declaring his independent candidacy.  He brandishes a shovel as a symbol of a new era of subway construction (the eventual fruits of the so-called ‘dual contracts’ which had finally be agreed to earlier that year.) Today’s mayoral primary falls on a […]

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Friday Night Fever

The Incident at Healy’s: Wild nightlife in Columbus Circle, police brutality and spirited protests against ‘cafe curfew’

Columbus Circle in 1921, looking west. Healy’s was a few blocks north of this scene. Many of New York’s most popular restaurants and cafes a century ago were located around Columbus Circle, lively hot spots that drew in the theater and burlesque patrons well into the late hours.  Crowds would exit the Park Theater and head […]

Panic at the Polo Grounds: The first Boston-New York World Series sparks an insane stampede 100 years ago

Above: the crowds at the Polo Ground for Game One. Many of these same people were certainly on hand for the fateful Game Four. One hundred years ago today, in the frantic fall of 1912, even as the nation was in the midst of an intense three-way race to elect a new president, New Yorkers […]

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Those Were The Days

Ladies, it’s your day! A Leap Year tradition, New York style

 â€œWhen a woman has reached the age of thirty there is nothing left for her but to be good. I am going to make clothes for the poor. Hand me down that roll of flannel, Rachel: I mean to begin at once.”  “If it will be any comfort to you, my dear,” began Rachel, soothingly, […]