History

February 12, 2024

Village Cigars in Greenwich Village closes amid rent dispute

Village Cigars, the iconic Greenwich Village smoke shop in front of Hess Triangle, New York City's smallest piece of private land, has closed after over a century in business. The shop, located at 110 Seventh Avenue and Christopher Street within a distinctive red triangle-shaped building, shut its doors amid an alleged rent dispute between owner Andy Singh and landlord Jon Posner, as reported by Curbed. Posner claims that he signed a separation agreement with Singh, which required him to vacate the store by February 7.
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January 31, 2024

One of the earliest maps of Manhattan will be on display at the New-York Historical Society

A new installation opening at the New-York Historical Society provides a look at everyday life in New Amsterdam at the peak of its settlement. Marking the 400th anniversary of the Dutch colony's founding, the installation "New York Before New York: The Castello Plan of New Amsterdam" centers around the Castello Plan, a historic map depicting New Amsterdam in 1660 right before the English took control. On view from March 15 through July 14, the installation also features rare documents and objects that explore the lives of settlers, Indigenous people, and enslaved Africans who resided in the colony.
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January 4, 2024

10 secrets of the Brooklyn Bridge

On May 24, 1883, throngs of New Yorkers came to the Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfronts to celebrate the opening of what was then known as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge. It was reported that 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people total crossed what was then the only land passage between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The bridge--later dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge, a name that stuck--went on to become one of the most iconic landmarks in New York. There's been plenty of history, and secrets, along the way. Lesser-known facts about the bridge include everything from hidden wine cellars to a parade of 21 elephants crossing in 1884.
All the secrets right this way
January 2, 2024

7 historic places in NYC recommended for state and national designation

Gov. Kathy Hochul last week announced the 36 properties and places in New York nominated for potential placement on the State and National Register of Historic Places. The seven New York City recommendations include Bushwick's historic William Ulmer Brewery, the city's first cast-iron office building, and a new historic district in Central Harlem that illustrates the neighborhood's development as a Black working-class residential neighborhood.
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December 8, 2023

In the 1800s, a group of NYC artists and writers created the modern-day Santa Claus

Saint Nicholas arrived in New York with the Dutch and became the Patron Saint of New York City in the early 19th century, but Santa, as we know him, is a hometown boy. New York’s writers and artists were the first to depict the modern Santa Claus, transforming the figure of Dutch lore into a cheerful holiday hero. The illustrious Claus gained his sleigh in Chelsea and his red suit on Franklin Square. With a little help from the likes of Washington Irving, Clement Clarke Moore, and Thomas Nast, jolly old St. Nick became the merriest man in Manhattan.
More about Santa's New York Roots!
November 15, 2023

NYC launches first-ever Hart Island public walking tours

Hart Island, the nation's largest public cemetery, will open to the public for the first time this month. The city's Parks Department on Wednesday announced that free walking tours of the Bronx island will be offered twice per month starting November 21. Hart Island, which has served as the final resting place of more than one million people since the Civil War, has long been inaccessible to visitors, with extremely stringent security and once-a-month visitation days. Now, with NYC Parks managing the site, the public can get an up-close look at the island's history, helping undo historical stigmas. The tours will last roughly 2.5 hours, with ferry transportation provided to and from the island.
learn more about the walking tours
November 14, 2023

New-York Historical Society expansion will feature new Democracy Wing

New York's oldest museum, the New-York Historical Society Museum and Library, begins construction this month on an 80,000-square-foot renovation and expansion project. As 6sqft previously reported, the $140 million five-story extension at the rear of the museum's Upper West Side location will be designed by architect Robert A.M. Stern. New-York Historical president and CEO Louise Mirrer announced Monday the new addition will feature a Democracy Wing. When construction is completed in 2026–just in time for the nation's 250th anniversary–the new wing will offer educational programs and a home for valuable materials on American democracy.
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October 30, 2023

At 50, the Village Halloween Parade has become New York City’s ‘healing ritual’

Fifty years ago, Ralph Lee took a walk around Greenwich Village with his puppets on Halloween night. It resonated with people. A couple of years later, as part of the City in the Streets program, Theater for the New City stepped in and produced the event on a larger scale, hitting more Village streets and attracting more participants. After Lee stopped his involvement with the parade, Jeanne Fleming stepped in. Today, over four decades under Fleming’s careful eye as artistic and producing director, the Village Halloween Parade is a part of New York City’s cultural identity — an event that through hardship and triumph over the past 50 years, has remained a ritual.
more on on the iconic event here
October 27, 2023

Village home and studio of Roy Lichtenstein opens after renovation, honored with historic plaque

The Whitney Museum of American Art and Village Preservation on Thursday unveiled a historic plaque at the Greenwich Village home and studio of the renowned artist Roy Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein lived and worked at the 11,000-square-foot building at 741-745 Washington Street from 1988 until his passing in 1997. The building, constructed in 1912 as a metalworking shop, has officially reopened after receiving a full renovation by Los Angeles-based architects Johnston Marklee. The building now serves as the first permanent home for the museum's Independent Study Program (ISP), which supports future artists and scholars.
learn more about the famed studio
October 26, 2023

190-year-old West Village wooden house with storied history asks $6M

A 19th-century wooden house in the West Village that has lived many lives over its nearly 190-year-old history is now on the market. Built in 1834, the property at 392 West Street (also known as 6 Weehawken Street) was originally part of the open-air Greenwich Market and later operated as a tavern, cigar store, pool hall, speakeasy, and two gay bars. The building's last owner, Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois, made headlines in recent years after claiming he would leave the home to the Lenape people, the original Manhattanites. But when Bourgeois died last year, the house went to his estate and is now on the market for $6,000,000, as Gothamist reported.
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October 26, 2023

Coney Island celebrates 200th birthday by displaying its oldest artifact

Celebrate Coney Island's 200th anniversary by honoring the neighborhood's oldest surviving artifact this weekend. The Coney Island History Project, located at 3059 West 12th Street next to the entrance to Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, is displaying the 200-year-old Coney Island Toll House sign from 1823. The artifact will be on view on Saturday, October 28, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
MORE ON CONEY ISLAND's 200-YEAR HISTORY HERE
October 18, 2023

Sewer alligator sculpture in Union Square channels century-old New York City myth

A new sculpture in Union Square Park plays on the century-old myth that alligators live in New York City's sewer system. Created by Swedish artist Alexander Klingspor in collaboration with Mollbrinks Gallery, "NYC Legend" is a bronze sculpture depicting a life-sized alligator sitting atop a manhole cover. The artwork is inspired by an urban legend that originated 100 years ago claiming New Yorkers set pet baby alligators loose in the sewers after they grew too large to handle. The installation is on display through June 2024.
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October 13, 2023

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire memorial unveiled in Greenwich Village

The first permanent memorial honoring the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire was officially unveiled in Greenwich Village on Wednesday. Designed by artists Richard Joon Yoo and Uri Wegman and commissioned by the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, the memorial is located on steel panels fixed to the exterior of 23-29 Washington Place, also known as the Asch Building, where the devastating event took place. All 146 names of the workers who perished on that fateful day are etched into the panels.
more on the memorial
September 27, 2023

Vietnam Veterans Memorial replica coming to Queens park

A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be on display in Queens in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. "The Wall That Heals," a traveling three-quarter-scale version of the memorial in Washington D.C., arrives in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on Thursday, a way for New Yorkers to remember the lives lost during the conflict. The memorial is free and open to the public from September 28 through October 1.
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September 22, 2023

NYC dedicates 220-year-old tombstone of Irish immigrant in Washington Square Park

A 220-year-old tombstone uncovered in Washington Square Park over a decade ago will now be honored and put on display. The New York City Parks Department on Friday dedicated the headstone of James Jackson, an Irish immigrant who died in 1799 and was buried in Washington Square Park, a potter's field from 1797 to 1825. The headstone was discovered during a renovation project at the park's Sullivan Street entrance in 2009. The relic is now being presented in one of the windows of the Park House close to where it was discovered, accompanied by an informative sign where visitors can learn more.
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September 15, 2023

Center for Brooklyn History reopens in Brooklyn Heights after renovation

The world's largest collection of Brooklyn history is once again accessible to the public. Located at 128 Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights, the Center for Brooklyn History reopened this week following an extensive renovation of its first floor, which includes space for visitors to read, study, and enjoy exhibitions. As part of the reopening, the Center debuted "Brooklyn is...," an exhibition celebrating the borough through the photos, artworks, and words of Brooklyn residents, who are invited to submit their personal memories to be featured.
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September 12, 2023

The history of New York’s railroad apartment

Apartments comprised of a series of directly connected rooms—without a hallway—are a common feature of the New York City housing market. Generally, this layout is described as a “railroad apartment.” With origins in the city's turn-of-the-century tenement lifestyle, the layout today comes with its share of pros and cons. At its best, this apartment layout offers considerably more space at a lower cost than a conventional layout and desirable pre-war details. At its worst, this layout offers nothing but a dark and dank space that can be especially awkward when shared by roommates rather than couples.
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August 22, 2023

All the MTA fare hikes of the last 100 years

The MTA's latest fare hike went into effect on Sunday, the first increase in the subway base fare since 2015. The agency approved a 5 percent increase for the cost of a single subway or bus trip, with the price jumping from $2.75 to $2.90.  Instead of just lamenting over another 15 cents lost, we're taking stock of all the ride increases over the last 100 years.
All the fares here
August 21, 2023

Pre-Civil War church in Bed-Stuy to be demolished

A historic church in Bed-Stuy constructed in 1856 is set to be razed and will likely be replaced with apartments, according to Brownstoner. Last week an application was filed for the full demolition of the St. Lucy-St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church at 295 Willoughby Avenue and 920 Kent Avenue. The church agreed to sell the property in July for $12.25 million to developer Water Capital Group. Due to the size of the lot and zoning in the area, investment firm JLL marketed the site as a "rare opportunity to develop a sizable luxury residential building in a burgeoning Brooklyn neighborhood."
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July 28, 2023

NYC memorial honoring Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire victims to be unveiled this fall

A permanent memorial in Greenwich Village honoring the lives lost to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire will finally be built. Designed by artists Richard Joon Yoo and Uri Wegman and commissioned nearly a decade ago by the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, the tribute will feature the names of all 146 workers who died, cut into steel panels outside of 23-29 Washington Place, the building where the tragedy happened over 100 years ago. As first reported by the New York Times, a dedication ceremony for the new memorial is scheduled for October 11.
Details here
March 8, 2023

Women’s History Month began in New York in 1909 to honor the city’s garment workers’ strike

International Women's Day, and what later became Women's History Month, originated in New York City over 100 years ago. On February 28, 1909, “Women’s Day,” was celebrated as the one-year anniversary of the city’s garment industry strike led by the International Ladies' Garment Workers’ Union. The Socialist Party of America chose the day to honor the women who bravely protested miserable labor conditions. American socialist and feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman addressed a New York crowd, saying: "It is true that a woman's duty is centered in her home and motherhood but home should mean the whole country and not be confined to three or four rooms of a city or a state.” At the time, women still couldn't vote.
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March 3, 2023

Little Italy’s Alleva Dairy cheese shop finds new home in New Jersey

After falling behind on rent and closing its doors due to the pandemic, Little Italy's historic cheese shop has found a new home in New Jersey. Alleva Dairy, the 130-year-old cheese shop that was forced to close in February, will move to a bigger location in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, as first reported by NBC New York. The new location is currently under construction and is expected to open to customers in August.
Learn more here
March 2, 2023

How to celebrate Women’s History Month 2023 in NYC

Every March, Americans celebrate Women's History Month to honor the countless achievements and contributions of women nationwide. New York City, where the month-long celebration originated, has plenty of special events and happenings for those looking to show their appreciation to the women of the world. Ahead, here are some ways you can celebrate Women's History Month in NYC, from learning about the influential women behind Central Park's most iconic attractions to listening to music by trailblazing women composers at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
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February 15, 2023

New website explores the forgotten NYC neighborhood of San Juan Hill

Once home to New York City's largest Black population, Manhattan's San Juan Hill neighborhood no longer exists. The diverse working-class neighborhood was razed during the 1950s to make way for the Lincoln Center campus. This week the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts unveiled a new digital resource dedicated to San Juan Hill as a way to explore the history of the neighborhood and ensure that its legacy, and the people who lived there, are remembered. The "Legacies of San Juan Hill" website includes essays, historic images, articles, maps, and other archival content.
Learn more here