History

Greenwich Village, Historic Homes, History

Photo of 14 West 10th Street via Wikimedia; Photo of Mark Twain via Wikimedia

Despite its picturesque exterior, the building at 14 West 10th Street in Greenwich Village has a not-so-cute history. Since being constructed in the 1850s near the start of the Civil War, 22 people have died in the home, referred to as the House of Death. And as the New York Post reported, some of their spirits allegedly have never left. Residents have reported sightings of the spirit of Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain, who lived at the building between 1900 and 1901, and other bone-chilling ghosts who have haunted the Greenwich Village block for over a century.

More on the haunted home here

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Events, Features, Greenwich Village, GVSHP, History

Open House New York in Greenwich Village: The history of three unique sites

By Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Thu, October 11, 2018

Among the many delights included in this weekend’s Open House New York will be three iconic Greenwich Village buildings–a Gothic Revival church with many architectural firsts, a library that was originally a courthouse which heard the “Trial of the Century,” and a groundbreaking artists’ housing complex that was formerly home to Bell Telephone Labs and the site where color television was invented. These extraordinary landmarks span three centuries of American history, reflecting the evolution of our city’s spiritual, artistic, industrial, scientific, and civic life.

Learn more about their unique histories

History

Via Brian Boyd on Flickr

Considered one of the most recognizable logos in sports, how did the interlocking NY logo of the Yankees develop? The logo is actually older than the baseball team itself, as Untapped Cities learned. At the start of their franchise in 1903, the Yankees, then known as the Highlanders, wore uniforms with the letters N and Y sitting separately on each breast section of the jersey. In 1905, the team adopted a new interlocking version, but later tossed this logo out and returned to their old emblem.

Get the lowdown on the logo

Archtober, Art, History, Turtle Bay, Where I Work

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, Japanese architecture

As a media sponsor of Archtober–NYC’s annual month-long architecture and design festival of tours, lectures, films, and exhibitions–6sqft has teamed up with the Center for Architecture to explore some of their 70+ partner organizations.

For the last 111 years, the mission of the Japan Society has remained the same: to create a better understanding between the United States and Japan. While strengthening relations originally meant introducing Japanese art and culture to Americans, today in its second century, the nonprofit’s purpose, along with its programming, has expanded, with education and policy now a core part of its objective.

The headquarters of the Japan Society is located in Turtle Bay at 333 East 47th Street, purposely constructed just blocks from the United Nations. In addition to being known for its extensive curriculum, the architecture of the society’s building also stands out. Designed by architects Junzō Yoshimura and George G. Shimamoto, the building is the first designed by a Japanese citizen and the first of contemporary Japanese design in New York City. The structure, which first opened in 1971, combines a modern style with traditional materials of Japan. In 2011, the building was designated a city landmark, becoming one of the youngest buildings with this recognition. Ahead, learn about the Japan Society’s evolving century-long history, its groundbreaking architecture, and its newest exhibition opening this week.

Take a look inside the landmarked building

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Architecture, Features, History

10 of NYC’s most impressive Terra-cotta buildings

By Lucie Levine, Thu, October 4, 2018

Terra-cotta, Latin for “fired earth,” is an ancient building material, made of baked clay, first used throughout early civilizations in Greece, Egypt, China the Indus Valley. In more modern times, architects realized that “fired earth” actually acts as a fire-deterrent. In the age of the skyscraper, terra-cotta became a sought-after fire-proof skin for the steel skeletons of New York’s tallest buildings. In the early part of the 20th century, the City’s most iconic structures were decked out in terracotta.

You’ll find terra-cotta on famous facades from the Flatiron to the Plaza, but the material often flies under the radar of pedestrians and architecture buffs alike because it can mimic other materials, like cast-iron or carved wood. Now, this long-underappreciated material is getting its due. On October 24th, the Historic Districts Council will present its annual Landmarks Lion Award to the terra-cotta firms Boston Valley Terra Cotta and Gladding, McBean, which work to keep terra-cotta alive worldwide, and to the preservation organization Friends of Terra Cotta, which has worked to preserve New York’s architectural terra-cotta since 1981. The ceremony will take place at Grand Central’s Oyster Bar, under the magnificent Guastavino terra-cotta ceiling recently restored by Boston Valley Terra Cotta. Fired up about finding “fired earth” around town? Here are 10 of the most impressive examples of New York terra-cotta!

Learn more about New York’s Terra Cotta Treasures

Archtober, Behind the Scenes, History, Lower East Side, Museums

Ten secrets of the Eldridge Street Synagogue

By Lucie Levine, Mon, October 1, 2018

Museum at Eldridge Street, Eldridge Street synagogue, Lower East Side synagogue

As a media sponsor of Archtober–NYC’s annual month-long architecture and design festival of tours, lectures, films, and exhibitions–6sqft has teamed up with the Center for Architecture to explore some of their 70+ partner organizations.

With stunning stained glass windows and a striking mix of Moorish, Gothic, and Romanesque features, the Eldridge Street Synagogue cuts an imposing figure on the Lower East Side. The Synagogue opened in 1887 as the first and finest Orthodox house of worship built by Eastern European Jews in America and served as a spiritual headquarters for millions of immigrants as they made new homes in New York. By the turn of the 20th century, over 4,000 congregants supported three daily services, and holiday crowds overwhelmed the building.

But, by the 1940s, the congregation dwindled, and the doors of the great sanctuary were sealed; not to be reopened until the 1970s. When preservationists rallied to save the building on its 100th anniversary, they rediscovered the splendor of the sacred structure and spent 20 years restoring it. Following a meticulous restoration, the Synagogue reopened in 2007 as the Museum at Eldridge Street. Today, the museum welcomes visitors from around the world, and preserves city’s immigrant history as well as the structure’s sacred secrets.

Learn about these 10 secrets of the synagogue

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Features, GVSHP, History, West Village 

What’s in a name? Gay Street

By Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Thu, September 27, 2018

Southward view of Gay Street via Wiki Commons

Gay Street is one of the most charming and picturesque streets in Greenwich Village, an icon of the historic neighborhood’s anachronistic character. But the origins of its name are hotly debated, with the LGBT rights movement and abolitionism often cited as the source of its unusual nomenclature. And while the street certainly has strong connections to gay liberation and the African-American struggle for freedom, the history behind the name is a little murkier, and a little more complicated to unravel, than one might expect.

Get the story

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Architecture, Features, History

NYC Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach watching agents pour liquor into a sewer following a raid; via Wikimedia

One hundred years ago, the United States Congress passed a temporary Wartime Prohibition Act banning the sale of beverages with an alcohol content of over 1.28 percent. The 1918 amendment later led to full-blown Prohibition, which wouldn’t officially end until the early 1930s.

Find it difficult to imagine a spirit-less New York? In 1918, many New Yorkers, including city officials, also had a difficult time imagining a New York without alcohol. After all, with alcohol banned, the future remained uncertain for an estimated 9,000 hotel and saloon properties. The city itself stood to lose roughly $18 million in tax revenues related to the sale of liquor. In the end, however, New York not only survived the Prohibition Era but, indirectly, had its architecture altered.

Booze and bootlegging this way

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East Village, Features, History

Community Gardeners at the Bowery Houston Community Farm and Garden, 1974 via Liz Christie Community Garden

Awash in gray pavement and grayer steel, New York can be a metropolis of muted hues, but with 39 community gardens blooming between 14th Street and East Houston Street, the East Village is the Emerald City. The neighborhood boasts the highest concentration of community gardens in the country thanks to a proud history of grassroots activism that has helped transform once-abandoned lots into community oases.

By the mid-1970s, as the city fought against a ferocious fiscal crisis, nearly 10,000 acres of land stood vacant throughout the five boroughs. In 1973, Lower East resident Liz Christie, who lived on Mott Street, refused to let the neglected lots in her neighborhood lie fallow. She established the urban garden group Green Guerillas, a rogue band of planters who lobbed “seed bombs” filled with fertilizer, seeds, and water into vacant, inaccessible lots, hoping they would flourish and fill the blighted spaces with greenery.

Get to the root of the story!

Events, History

Guttenberg Bible; Via Jonathan Blanc/NYPL

The New York Public Library announced on Thursday it will open a permanent exhibition of rotating treasures at their Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street location. The exhibit will be the first to showcase the depth of the library’s holdings, which includes over 46 million items in its research collection. While the specifics are still being determined, some notable artifacts from the collection being considered for the treasures exhibit include the original Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson, a handwritten farewell address from George Washington, the original Winnie-The-Pooh, writings from Lou Reed, and manuscript material from Maya Angelou.

See the treasures

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