History

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Features, History

The history of New York’s railroad apartment

By Cait Etherington, Thu, January 28, 2021

Photo © 6sqft

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 their best, this apartment layout offers considerably more space at a lower cost than a conventional layout and desirable pre-war details. At their worse, this layout offers nothing but a dark and dank space that can be especially awkward when shared by roommates rather than couples.

find out more here

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Features, History

Pierpont Street from Fulton Street in Brooklyn. Photo via Library of Congress

With snow in the forecast for much of the week, we decided to take a look back at the biggest blizzard to ever blanket New York City. On March 12th of 1888, a record-setting 21 inches of snow had been dumped on the city, resulting in snowdrifts of up to 50 feet, $25 million in property damage, and 200 deaths. Known as the “Great Blizzard,” it affected the entire eastern seaboard and is still considered one of the worst snowstorms in American history.

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Features, History

george washington, donald trump, inauguration

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

One of the nation’s most significant Inauguration Days has finally come, and while we’re all looking forward, we also thought it was pertinent to take a look back. On Thursday, April 30, 1789, the first United States Congress met, and the first president was sworn in (the presidential term had already started on March 4 of that year, but logistical delays had kept the votes from being counted or certified). With a quorum finally in place, George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States, alongside Vice President John Adams, on the balcony of the Federal Hall in what is now the Financial District.

The whole history here

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City Living, Features, Harlem, History

New York City’s tributes to Martin Luther King Jr.

By Devin Gannon, Fri, January 15, 2021

Stanziola, P. (1964) Mayor Wagner greets Dr. & Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. at City Hall / World-Telegram & Sun photo by Phil Stanziola. 1964. [Photograph]; Courtesy of the Library of Congress

While some of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s most memorable moments of his career happened further South, like the Montgomery bus boycott and his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, support for his goals hailed first from advocacy organizations based in New York City, like the National Urban League. King held sermons at Riverside Church in Morningside Heights, led a march from Central Park to the United Nations in protest of the Vietnam War, and received a Medallion of Honor from Mayor Robert Wagner. As a way to honor King and his immense impact on the advancement of civil rights, the city has named streets, parks, playgrounds, and more after the icon. On MLK Day this Monday, celebrate by learning about memorials dedicated to him citywide.

Learn more about NYC’s MLK memorials here

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Features, Financial District, History, holidays

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.

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Events, History, holidays

Manhattan’s Menorah being lit by Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, in 2016. Credit: Credit: Chaim Perl / Chabad.org/ Chabad Lubavitch/Flickr.

In the mid-1970s, former Chabad Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson encouraged his emissaries to build public menorahs in major cities and organize nightly lightings to increase public awareness about Hanukkah and inspire fellow Jews to light menorahs in their homes. Decades later, Chabad rabbis continue the effort in cities worldwide, but in New York, the practice hasn’t always been friendly. The tradition ended up creating a fun competition between rival menorahs in Brooklyn and Manhattan, both claiming to be “The World’s Largest.” To mark the first night of Hanukkah on Thursday, both of New York City’s 32-foot-tall menorahs will be lighted.

Find out the story and learn about this year’s lightings

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Features, History, holidays

How NYC brought Christmas tree markets to the U.S.

By Hannah Frishberg, Thu, December 3, 2020

A Christmas tree market in front of the Barclay Street Station circa 1895. Photo via the Library of Congress

The convenience of walking to the corner bodega and haggling for a Christmas tree is something most of us take for granted, but this seasonal industry is one that actually predates Christmas’ 1870 establishment as a national holiday and continues to be a one-of-a-kind business model today. In fact, in 1851, a tree stand set up for $1 at the west side’s Washington Market became the nation’s very first public Christmas tree market, the impetus behind it being a way to save New Yorkers a trip out of town to chop down their own trees. Ahead, find out the full history of this now-national trend and how it’s evolved over the years.

The roots of the Christmas tree industry

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Features, History, holidays, Midtown

The 1931 tree, courtesy of Tishman Speyer

The official website of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree describes the holiday tree as a “world-wide symbol of Christmas,” a statement we really can’t argue with, especially since 125 million people visit the attraction each year. And with tonight marking the 88th Tree Lighting, we decided to take a look back at the tradition’s history. From its start as a modest Depression-era pick-me-up for Rockefeller Center construction workers to World War regulations to its current 900-pound Swarovski star, there’s no shortage of interesting tidbits about one of NYC’s biggest attractions.

More on the history here

Art, History, West Village 

Photo: John Moore, Circular Space Photography

The voices of New Yorkers affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic will be heard daily as part of a new program installed in Greenwich Village. In recognition of World AIDS Day on Tuesday, the New York City AIDS Memorial will launch a sound-based installation composed of speeches, poetry, music, and readings of texts related to the history of the epidemic. The hour-long program, titled Hear Me: Voices of the Epidemic, will be broadcast from the memorial nightly at 7 p.m. for the month of December, along with a new lighting installation.

More here

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Features, History, holidays

thanksgiving day parade, macy's,

Pilgrim balloon in 1946. Photo via Macy’s Inc.

There are many famous traditions synonymous with New York City, and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is at the top of that list. The first parade marched down Broadway in the winter of 1924, and in the years since, it’s grown into an event with more than 3.5 million spectators. Though this year’s parade is going to look a bit different, the history behind the festivities and larger-than-life balloons is just as mesmerizing. Ahead, learn all about the parade’s 96 years and see some incredible archival photos.

This way for the full history

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