History

City Living, History

The short life of NYC’s women-only subway cars

By Michelle Cohen, Tue, November 7, 2017

Image credit: Museum of the City of New York.

In dealing with the examples of ill-behaved humanity that still plague the city’s subway today, the powers that be in 1909 thought they were doing the ladies a favor when they suggested the addition of women-only subway cars, according to Ephemeral New York. Called “suffragette” cars (though women didn’t win the right to vote in New York until 1917) they were introduced on trains of the Hudson Tubes running from Manhattan to Hoboken (today’s PATH line). In trial runs, the last car in each train was reserved for women. Officials of the five-year-old IRT line began considering the idea–thought to be a success in its earliest trials–for the New York City subway.

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Design, History, Midtown East

AT&T Building, Robert AM Stern, Phillip Johnson

Photo of the protest courtesy of Nathan Eddy

After Olayan America and Chelsfield revealed plans last week for a $300 million renovation of the building at 550 Madison Avenue, known as the AT&T Building, criticism quickly followed. Members of the architecture community, including New York architect Robert A.M. Stern, rallied together last Friday at the base of the Philip Johnson-designed skyscraper, to protest Snøhetta’s proposal to replace the building’s base with a scalloped glass front (h/t Dezeen). Protestors held signs that read “Hands off my Johnson,” “Save the Stone,” and “Save AT&T.” Plus, a petition is currently being circulated on Change.org in an attempt to preserve Johnson’s iconic AT&T Building by having the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission officially designate it as a city landmark.

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History, Policy

On the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in New York state, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation will make an announcement today that it’s moving ahead with a proposal to erect a monument to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in Central Park. First reported by West Side Rag, the statue of the two suffragists will be Central Park’s first monument to historic women and only the sixth in the entire city. It will be placed on the mall, which runs from 66th to 72nd Streets in the middle of the park, and will be unveiled on another important date–the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote nationally on August 26, 2020.

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City Living, History, Transportation

times square shuttle, times square curved tracks, nyc subway

The Times Square shuttle platform, via 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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Featured Story

Art, East Village, Features, GVSHP, History

‘The Alamo’ turns 50: A history of the Astor Place cube

By Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Thu, November 2, 2017

1980s photo of the Alamo surrounded by mural, vendors, & musicians. © Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Image Archive.

On November 1, 1967, an enigmatic 20-foot-tall cube first appeared on a lonely traffic island where Astor Place and 8th Street meet. Though several months before the release of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the one-ton Cor-Ten steel sculpture shared many qualities with the sci-fi classic’s inscrutable “black monolith,” at once both opaque and impenetrable and yet strangely compelling, drawing passersby to touch or interact with it to unlock its mysteries.

Fifty years later, Tony Rosenthal’s “Alamo” sculpture remains a beloved fixture in downtown New York. Like 2001’s monolith, it has witnessed a great deal of change, and yet continues to draw together the myriad people and communities which intersect at this location.

Learn about the cube’s entire 50-year legacy

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Events, Features, History

The marathon in the early ’80s, via NYC Parks

The New York City Marathon, taking place this Sunday, November 5th, is the world’s largest marathon, and this year it will bring together more than 51,000 runners from over 120 countries, plus hundreds of thousands of spectators. It wasn’t always this way, though. Started by the New York Road Runners Club in 1970, the race began as a few loops around Central Park with just over 100 runners. But the passion of its founders, coupled with the spirit of the city, grew the marathon into an event that generates $415 million for New York. In honor of the upcoming 2017 Marathon, 6sqft is taking a look back at the history of the race, its greatest moments, and what’s in store for this year.

All that right this way

City Living, History

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial featuring Fala, via Wikimedia

While the subway can always be a bit creepy, there might be more behind those spooky feelings when standing underground than just frighteningly bad service. Allegedly, a ghost haunts Track 61, the secret track hidden under Grand Central Terminal, according to Phil Schoenberg, a New York City historian and founder of Ghost Walks NYC. And not just any ghost, but the spirit of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier, Fala, who apparently roams the shuttered train track. The president famously used the private track as a way to escape the public eye, keeping his paralysis a secret (h/t WNYC).

Get the spooky scoop ahead

Featured Story

Features, Greenwich Village, History, holidays

Village Halloween Parade

Photo via John St John Photography/photopin cc

The Village Halloween Parade may not be as completely outrageous as it once was, but this annual holiday extravaganza is quintessential Greenwich Village. Though many parade attendees are there to show off their costumes and check out those of others, there’s a large number of guests who revel in the nostalgia of a New York tradition that’s marched downtown since 1973. But there’s a lot more history to the parade than most people may know. For instance, it didn’t always go up 6th Avenue, and there’s an entire art form behind those supersized puppets.

Find out the stories behind these historic tidbits, as well as others

History, Transportation

What it was like the day the NYC subway opened in 1904

By Emily Nonko, Fri, October 27, 2017

Postcard via NYPL

The Interborough Rapid Transit Subway, or IRT, was the first subway company ever in New York City. The company formed as a response to elevated train lines springing up around the city–it was time to go underground and build a rapid transit railroad to help combat street congestion and assist development in new areas of New York, according to NYCsubway.org. And so 113 years ago, on October 27th, 1904, the first IRT subway line opened with the City Hall station as its showpiece. It’s no overstatement to say that after this date, the city would never be the same. And the day was one to remember, with pure excitement over impressive feat of moving the city’s transit system underground.

Here’s what you need to know about the day

Featured Story

Features, GVSHP, History, Meatpacking District, photography, West Village 

Rare photos of the High Line being demolished in the 1960s tell the story of a changing West Village

By Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Thu, October 26, 2017

Crane with wrecking ball mounted on the trestle. Photo by Peter H. Fritsch (1962). Photo courtesy of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation/Fritsch Family Collection.

Few structures have had a more far-reaching impact upon the West Village and Chelsea than the High Line. Its construction in 1934, then partial demolition in the early ’60s, and final preservation and conversion into a park a decade ago have profoundly shaped the way these neighborhoods have changed over the last 85 years. And while photos of its heyday and those of it today as an internationally recognized public space are plenty, few exist of those interim years. But GVSHP recently acquired some wonderful images of the High Line being demolished in 1962 at Perry Street, donated by the Fritsch Family who lived nearby at 141 Perry Street.

The Fritschs’ photos say a lot about how the High Line, and its demolition, changed the West Village. It’s apparent from the images just how much more industrial, and gritty the Far West Village was in those days. But it also shows how the demolition of the High Line left a huge gap in this unpretentious neighborhood, which housed both disappearing industry and a diverse and vital residential community.

See the other photos and learn the whole history

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