The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1878). New-Year’S-Day In New Amsterdam. Courtesy of NYPL Digital Collections
Every year on December 31, the eyes of the world turn to Times Square. New Yorkers and revelers worldwide have been ringing in the New Year from 42nd Street since 1904 when Adolf Ochs christened the opening of the New York Times building on what was then Longacre Square with a New Year’s celebration complete with midnight fireworks. In 1907, Ochs began dropping a ball from the flagpole of the Times Tower, and a tradition for the ages was set in motion. But long before Ochs and his proclivity for pyrotechnics, New Yorkers had been ringing in the New Year with traditions both dignified and debauched. From the George Washington and the old Dutch custom of “Calling,” to the rancorous tooting of tin horns, one thing is clear, New York has always gone to town for the New Year.
New York’s famous 369th (Old 15th) Infantry Regiment arrives home from France. From the National Archives via Wikimedia Commons
By the end of World War II, the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest military honor, would be awarded to the 369th Infantry Regiment. Better known as the Harlem Hellfighters, the regiment was an all-black American unit serving under French command in World War I, and they spent a stunning 191 days at the Front, more than any other American unit. In that time, they never lost a trench to the enemy or a man to capture. Instead, they earned the respect of both allies and enemies, helped introduce Jazz to France, and returned home to a grateful city where hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers turned out to welcome home 3,000 Hellfighter heroes in a victory parade that stretched from 23rd Street and 5th Avenue to 145th Street and Lenox.
The whole history
St. Paul’s Chapel via Flickr cc
Tis the season to voluntarily spook yourself! But if haunted houses and tourist-friendly ghost tours are not your thing, New York’s bustling burrows are home to a slew of the more naturally born spirits. You’ll find Dracula’s extended family on 23rd Street, a host of oracles on Orchard Street, and the site of the cruel crime that led to the nation’s first recorded murder trial on Spring Street. If you’re searching for a necropolis in the metropolis, here are ten of the best sites in New York to spot specters.
See all the haunted haunts here!
“New York, View From South, Man-of-war at Left,” 1793, via NYPL Digital Collections
A spot of hope amidst the chaos of our current moment is that we will come out stronger, safer, and more prepared than we were before. Historically, that has actually been the case. For example, New York’s 1795 Yellow Fever Pandemic led to the creation of the New York City Board of Health, which in turn became the Metropolitan Board of Health, then the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which helps keep the city healthy to this day. Ahead, we take a closer look at this pandemic, which ebbed and flowed from 1793 to 1805, from quarantines to new hospitals to public data.
Squatters Colony, Red Hook Recreation Area, September 12, 1934, Courtesy of NYC Parks
Today, New York City’s rising cost of living has made affordable housing one of the most pressing issues of our time. But long before our current housing crisis–and even before the advent of “affordable housing” itself–Depression-era New Yorkers created not only their own homes, but also their own functioning communities, on the city’s parkland. From Central Park to City Island, Redhook to Riverside Park, these tent cities, hard-luck towns, Hoovervilles, and boxcar colonies proliferated throughout New York. Ahead, see some amazing archival photos of these communities and learn the human side of their existence.
Lots more history and photos
Photo (cropped) by H.L.I.T via Flickr cc
Have you ever noticed a castle in the middle of the water about 50 miles north of New York City? That’s Bannerman Castle, a long-abandoned arsenal turned adventurer’s hotspot. Stationed on Pollepel Island, the early 20th-century structure sat as an abandoned ruin from the time it caught fire in 1969 until 1992 when a resident from nearby Beacon, NY started the Bannerman Castle Trust and subsequently stabilized the structure and opened the island its famous relic up for tours. Ahead, we uncover the sensational history of Bannerman Caste and fill you in on how you can visit.
Catch up on the Castle
Recently, 6sqft brought you 20 fascinating photos of New York in the ’20s, and now, we invite you to celebrate the new decade by following in the footsteps of the fanciest flappers in the five boroughs. Ahead, check out 10 places in NYC today to relive the Roaring Twenties. On this list, you’ll find theaters, bars, and hotels; Art Deco masterpieces; addresses favored by the Follies and Fitzgerald; and at least one spot where New York offers up “its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”
Roar right here
Welcome back to the Roaring ’20s, New York! Now that the new decade has officially dawned, we’re turning the clock back 100 years to see what the city was like the last time the calendar struck 20. If you’re looking for a little inspiration for your next Great Gatsby-themed bash, ahead find 20 fantastic photos of New York during the Jazz Age, depicting everything from old Ebbets Field to the height of Prohibition.
Central Park, Conservatory Water, ice skating race, published Manhattan Parks Dept. Annual Report, 1928. Courtesy of NYC Parks.
It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but New York is already a winter wonderland. How do we know? The skating rinks are open. If you choose to glide through the holiday season on ice, taking a spin anywhere from Central Park to Coney Island, you’re sliding into a New York winter tradition that includes the nation’s first organized ice rink, a decade of “Icetravaganzas” that drew millions, a glittery trend of hotel ice gardens throughout midtown, and even the a relationship to origins of baseball. So lace up, and read on for a history of ice-skating in New York City.
Glide into this story!
Photo courtesy of Macy’s, Inc.
Since New York City invented the Holiday Season as we know it, it’s only fitting that this city kicks things off in fine form. Thankfully, the good folks at Macy’s have been doing just that since 1924, when they sent the very first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade sauntering down Broadway. The Parade has been synonymous with Thanksgiving for more than 90 years, and it has more secrets up its sleeve than it has balloons in the air. From “balloonatics” and “falloons” to the only time in history the parade was canceled, here are 10 things you might not know about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.