A typist wearsing a guaze mask in 1918.Via the National Archives and Records Administration
May 2018 marks the centennial of one of the world’s greatest health crisis in history—the 1918 flu pandemic. In the end, anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million people worldwide would die as a result of the pandemic. New York was by no means spared. During the flu pandemic, which stretched from late 1918 to early 1920, over 20,000 New Yorkers’ lives were lost. However, in many respects, the crisis also brought into relief what was already working with New York’s health system by 1918. Indeed, compared to many other U.S. cities, including Boston, New York suffered fewer losses and historians suggest that the health department’s quick response is largely to thank for the city’s relatively low number of deaths.
Photo via Wiki Commons
It’s usually the tours and events at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery that get people talking, but the national landmark has its own chatty group that’s attracting a lot of attention. The group happens to be a flock of lime green parrots from Argentina, appropriately named “Monk Parrots” since they are hanging out in the cemetery despite Green-Wood’s nonsectarian nature. But how did these loud and exotic birds get all the way from South America to Greenwood Heights?
It’s not as crazy as you might think
An 1859 Harper’s illustration of Moving Day
It’s hard enough moving these days, between finding movers who won’t charge for every piece of tape and scoping out a spot to double park while you unload. 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
While immigration, urban planning, and the forces of gentrification are certainly key factors in how NYC’s neighborhoods have been shaped, New Yorkers’ patterns of work, their unions, and in some instances, even their employers have also played a role in the development of several of the city’s established neighborhoods. To mark May Day, 6sqft decided to investigate two of the city neighborhoods that were quite literally made for workers—the Van Cortlandt Village area of the Bronx and the Steinway neighborhood in Astoria, Queens.
Learn all about it
Aerial view of the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair; via NYPL
On April 30, 1939, the New York World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. The fair, which spread across 1,200 acres, commemorated the 150th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration in Lower Manhattan, and had a central theme of “Building the World of Tomorrow.” Construction of the fair began in 1936, which involved turning the Corona city dump and tidal swamp into the fairgrounds. After the land was cleared, hundreds of architects, designers, engineers and construction workers came together to transform the dump into the site for the World’s Fair.
The “Trylon”, a 700-foot obelisk, and the “Perisphere,” a 200-foot globe, stood in the center of the fairgrounds, soon becoming permanent symbols of the Fair. Many American corporations, including the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, the Borden Company and General Motors, participated, as a way to introduce fairgoers to new products. With close to 60 nations and 33 U.S. states participating, and its own subway line, the 1939 World’s Fair remains one of the largest, and most iconic, international fairs in history. Ahead, check out some of the photos of the historic World’s Fair, found in the New York Public Library’s extensive collection.
Go back in time
Stanley Kubrick, from “Faye Emerson: Young Lady in a Hurry,” 1950. © Museum of the City of New York/SK Film Archive, LLC
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. This week’s installment comes courtesy of a new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, “Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs.” Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Before he directed films like “A Clockwork Orange,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and “Dr. Strangelove” Stanley Kubrick worked as a staff photographer at LOOK magazine, where he developed a knack at storytelling through street photography. Kubrick “found inspiration in New York’s characters and settings, sometimes glamorous, sometimes gritty,” all of which is the subject of a new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.
“Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs,” tells the story of how a 17-year-old amateur photographer from the Bronx went on to become one of the most revered directors of the 20th century. The exhibit, on view from May 3rd through October, will display more than 120 photos taken between 1945 and 1950, during Kubrick’s time at LOOK, and examine the connections between his photography and film work. Ahead, the exhibit curators share with 6sqft a sneak preview of the photographs and discuss their experience working on the show.
Photo via Wikimedia
For two six-month seasons in 1964, the World’s Fair came to Queens, with exhibits featured from over 80 nations spread across 646 acres. The fair came at a time of mid-20th-century innovation and culture, at the height of the Space Age. It served as a moment of peace before the start of the Vietnam War, with its motto “Peace Through Understanding.” And while many New Yorkers attended the historic event, or have heard stories recounted by parents and grandparents, it’s hard to imagine what it was truly like to experience.
Making it easier to understand what the World’s Fair was really like, the city’s parks department is offering free, monthly tours of the park, allowing visitors to hear the stories behind the Unisphere, the New York State Pavilion and many more landmarks.
There’s no lack of artists deeply associated with New York. But among the many painters who’ve been inspired by our city, perhaps none has had a more enduring and deeper relationship than Edward Hopper, particularly with Greenwich Village. Hopper lived and worked in Greenwich Village during nearly his entire adult life, and drew much inspiration from his surroundings. He rarely painted scenes exactly as they were, but focused on elements that conveyed a mood or a feeling. Hopper also liked to capture scenes which were anachronistic, even in the early 20th century. Fortunately due to the Village’s enduring passion for historic preservation, many, if not all, of the places which inspired Hopper nearly a century ago can still be seen today – or at least evidence of them.
A ladies luncheon at Delmonico’s in 1902; photo via MCNY
Nearly five decades before women were granted the right to vote in New York State, a group of fed-up ladies decided to protest a symbolic law that prohibited them from dining in restaurants without men present. After journalist Jane Cunningham Croly was barred from entering a dinner held at the New York Press Club, she and a group of women founded Sorosis, the first professional women’s club in the United States. On April 20, 1868, Croly and her crew held a luncheon at the historic Delmonico’s Restaurant in the Financial District, which became the first to serve women independently of men. Following the groundbreaking meal, clubs for only women formed all over the country.
The full history ahead
With baseball season back in full swing, talk at some point turns to the heartbreak of losing the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles. Modern Mechanix informs us that team owner Walter O’Malley had championed a Brooklyn dome stadium designed by Buckminster Fuller–and how the result is yet another reason to blame Robert Moses. O’Malley took the team to Cali, if you’ll remember, because he got a better deal on land for a stadium–better than he was able to get in the five boroughs. He had wanted to keep the team in Brooklyn, but Ebbets Field was looking down-at-the-heels by then and bad for morale. In 1955 O’Malley wrote dome-obsessed architect Buckminster Fuller requesting a domed stadium design.
So what happened?