Feltman’s via Boston Public Library
The name Nathan’s has become synonymous with Coney Island, whether it be for the annual hot dog-eating contest or the childhood nostalgia of the boardwalk. It’s also become arguably the biggest name in the hot dog world in general. But, believe it or not, Nathan’s was not the first place to serve up franks in the seaside neighborhood. That distinction goes to Feltman’s, which was begun in 1867 as a pushcart by German immigrant Charles Feltman, considered the inventor of the hot dog on a bun.
Find out how the Coney Island hot dog got its start
227 Duffield Street; Map data © 2020 Google
The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday voted to calendar a property in Downtown Brooklyn that was home to abolitionists in a move that could potentially save the historic home from demolition. Harriet and Thomas Truesdell, known members of the anti-slavery movement before the Civil War, lived at the Greek-Revival row house at 227 Duffield Street from 1851 to 1863. Last year, preservationists and local officials called on the LPC to designate the building after a developer filed permits to raze the three-story structure and replace it with a much taller mixed-use building.
The Woolworth Building, then and now. L: Image courtesy of Library of Congress via Wiki cc; r: Image Norbert Nagel via Wiki cc.
When the neo-Gothic Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway was erected in 1913 as the world’s tallest building, it cost a total of $13.5 million to construct. Though many have surpassed it in height, the instantly-recognizable Lower Manhattan landmark has remained one of the world’s most iconic buildings, admired for its terra cotta facade and detailed ornamentation–and its representation of the ambitious era in which it arose. Developer and five-and-dime store entrepreneur Frank Winfield Woolworth dreamed of an unforgettable skyscraper; the building’s architect, Cass Gilbert, designed and delivered just that, even as Woolworth’s vision grew progressively loftier. The Woolworth Building has remained an anchor of New York City life with its storied past and still-impressive 792-foot height.
Find the city’s history in the Woolworth Building
All photos taken by James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft.
The historic Loew’s Wonder Theatre in Jersey City is finally set to receive the restoration it’s waited years for. Built in 1929 by architect George Rapp in a gilded, Baroque-Rococo style, the Loew’s Jersey was as a lavish entertainment destination for decades, until it was converted to a triplex movie theater in the ’70s and almost faced the wrecking ball in the ’80s. But through a grassroots preservation effort, the city bought the theater in 1987, allowing the nonprofit Friends of the Loew’s to begin restoration and operate as a nonprofit arts center. Though the group has made incredible progress, a significant amount of work remains. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop is searching for a commercial operator to help with the $40 million restoration and modernization effort of the 3,000-seat theater.
An 1859 Harper’s illustration of Moving Day, via Wikimedia Commons
Moving is certainly stressful right now, but imagine dealing with that headache along with every other New Yorker moving on the same day? Believe it or not, this is how it used to be. From colonial times up until WWII, May 1st was Moving Day, the one day a year when people in New York City moved. It’s said that the tradition came from the Dutch, who set out for Manhattan on May 1st and therefore celebrated each year by swapping homes on this day. Later, landlords had to notify their tenants of rent increases on February 1st, which would take effect three months later at 9am. Tenants waited until May 1st to move, and the streets would be filled with “moving vans,” Long Island farmers’ wagons led by horses, clogging up the city streets and creating complete pandemonium.
More on this curious history here
Courtesy of MAS
One of New York City’s greatest annual events is going virtual. Jane’s Walk honors urbanist Jane Jacobs with free volunteer-led walking tours across the city for one weekend every year. Adapting to the realities of the coronavirus pandemic, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) announced this week plans to host virtual activities that still celebrate the five boroughs, but safely from home.
Find out more
Photo by Cody Nottingham on Unsplash
Just a few years after the demolition of the original Penn Station, the city founded the Landmarks Preservation Commission, in part, to make sure beautiful historic buildings were never destroyed again. When Mayor Robert Wagner signed the Landmarks Law on April 19, 1965, the commission was officially tasked with protecting sites that represent New York’s history and culture. During its 55 years in existence, the LPC has designated more than 37,000 buildings and sites. In honor of this anniversary, the commission this week released an interactive story map highlighting its work over the last five decades, from its first individual landmark, the Claesen Wyckoff House, to its first LGBT designation, the Stonewall Inn.
Explore the map
“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.
Photo of White Horse Tavern (bottom left) courtesy of Wikimedia; Photo of the Merchant’s House Museum (bottom right) courtesy of Village Preservation on Flickr
For many, celebrating Irish American heritage in March brings one to Fifth Avenue for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, or perhaps a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. But for those willing to venture beyond Midtown, there’s a rich Irish American history to be found in Greenwich Village and the East Village. While both neighborhoods became better known for different kinds of communities in later years – Italians, Ukrainians, gay men and lesbians, artists, punks – Irish immigration in the mid-19th century profoundly shaped both neighborhoods. Irish Americans and Irish immigrants played a critical role in building immigrant and artistic traditions in Greenwich Village and the East Village. Here are some sites connected to that great heritage, from the city’s oldest intact Catholic Church to Irish institutions like McSorely’s Old Ale House.
Sea Breeze Hospital in Coney Island via Library of Congress
At a press conference on Monday about the recent coronavirus cases confirmed in New York City and State, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio emphasized that this is not New York’s “first rodeo” when it comes to pandemics. They pointed to the recent Ebola scare, as well as the 1968 Hong Kong flu and the 2009 Swine Flu, which closed 200 schools across the state. But even long before that, New York has had a gold standard for handling outbreaks of contagious diseases. From managing the flu pandemic of 1918 to the tuberculosis surge at the turn of the 19th century, the city’s public health officials have been containing outbreaks for well over a century. Ahead, we look at some of the ways this done, from quarantines to sea hospitals.