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 by Glenn Castellano, New-York Historical Society
This Presidents’ Day, visit Washington, D.C. without leaving New York City. The New-York Historical Society on Friday opened a special permanent gallery that features a detailed replica of the White House Oval Office. The “Meet the Presidents” exhibit allows visitors to play POTUS for a day, with the classic Resolute Desk set up for photo ops.
See the exhibit
Street View of 70 Fifth Avenue, Map data © 2020 Google; Photo of W.E.B. DuBois in 1918 from Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons
When we think of great African American historic sites in New York, we typically think of Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Lower Manhattan’s African Burial Ground, or Brooklyn’s Weeksville Houses. But one building that should perhaps join the list is 70 Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village, which housed the headquarters of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization; The Crisis, the first magazine published for an African American audience; and the first magazine dedicated to African American children, meant to combat the commonplace demeaning stereotypes of the time, headed by none other than civil rights icon W.E.B. DuBois.
Learn all this history ahead
All photos taken by James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft
21,000 pierogis, 2,500 latkes, and 110 gallons of borscht–that’s how much Veselka is serving up each week. But it’s impossible to quantify how many memories have been made at the famous East Village Ukrainian restaurant, which has been in operation since 1954. Whether it’s grandparents who remember going to what was then a small candy shop and newspaper stand at a time when the East Village was a thriving Eastern European community, or counter-culture icons of the 1970s, or club kids of the ’90s, or the NYU students of today, you can bet that nearly every New Yorker has some story of enjoying a meal at Veselka.
6sqft recently got a behind-the-scenes tour of Veselka’s kitchen to see how the magic happens, in addition to chatting with third-generation owner Jason Birchard. Ahead, check out all the photos and learn about the history of Veselka.
Check it out
Lexington Avenue, between 105th and 106th Streets, Manhattan, 1913. Photograph by Pierre P. Pullis, Lundin Collection, Courtesy of the New York Transit Museum
A new photo exhibit at the New York Transit Museum provides a unique look at the construction of the city’s subway system, as well as its enduring impact. Opening Thursday, Streetscapes & Subways: Photographs by Pierre P. and Granville W. Pullis shows what it was like before and after the subway system was constructed, as well as the architectural and cultural changes occurring simultaneously above ground.
See the photos here
While visiting the major, most popular attractions of New York City can be fun, it can also be stressful, overwhelming and full of selfie-taking tourists. However, the great thing about the Big Apple is that plenty of other attractions exist that are far less known or even hidden in plain sight. To go beyond the tourist-filled sites and tour the city like you’re seeing it for the very first time, check out 6sqft’s list ahead of the 20 best underground, secret spots in New York City.
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Painting of George Washington: Rembrandt Peale, George Washington (1732–1799), 1853, Oil on canvas; New-York Historical Society, Bequest of Caroline Phelps Stokes
New York City is rich with presidential history, from hosting the inauguration of the country’s first president to being home to Grant’s Tomb, the largest mausoleum in North America. Presidents’ Day celebrates the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln each year on the third Monday in February. Those who get the day off from work or school can spend the holiday learning about the city’s presidential history, from Federal Hall to the Flatiron District. Or, for a more low key (but still patriotic) three-day weekend, eat cake, go bowling, or catch a Commander in Chief-themed comedy show.
Full list, ahead
The Times Square shuttle platform, Photo by Helvetica Fanatic on Wikimedia
At the platform of the Times Square-Grand Central shuttle, a train track is hidden in plain sight. At both ends of the two-station line, tracks are numbered 1, 3 and 4, with no Track 2 to be found. As the New York Times explained, Track 2 once ran in its appropriate spot, between Tracks 1 and 3, but was taken out of operation nearly 100 years ago. After an attempt to expand the original 1904 line turned to major confusion for commuters, transit officials covered Track 2 with wooden flooring to make it easier for New Yorkers to walk to the new tracks.
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Lower East Side Matzoh Line, 1930; image courtesy of the Museum at Eldridge Street.
An exhibition now on view at the Museum at Eldridge Street shares a treasure trove of photographs and documents from the Jewish Daily Forward, a newspaper that has been published on the Lower East Sid since 1897–and today still thrives in digital format. For over 120 years, the Forward was the go-to source for news, culture, and opinion both global and everyday for New York City’s Jewish community. The printed paper’s deep archives trace its history and the stories it covered in “Pressed: Images from the Jewish Daily Forward.”
Find out more
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