“Mourners from the Ladies Waist and Dressmakers Union Local 25 and the United Hebrew Trades of New York march in the streets after the Triangle fire” 1911. Reproduction. The National Archives, via Wikimedia Commons
Around 4:30 p.m. on March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the eighth floor of the Asch Building at Washington Place and Greene Streets, just as the young employees of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, who occupied the building’s top three floors, were preparing to leave for the day. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire killed 146 people, nearly all of them Jewish and Italian immigrant women and girls who toiled in the city’s garment industry. Triangle stood out as the deadliest workplace tragedy in New York City before 9/11. It served as a bellwether in the American labor movement, galvanizing Americans in all walks of life to join the fight for industrial reform. It also highlighted the extraordinary grit and bravery of the women workers and reformers – members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, and the Women’s Trade Union League – who fought and died for fairer and safer working conditions in New York and around the country.
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(1917) Picketing in all sorts of weather. N.Y. Day Picket. United States Washington D.C. New York, 1917, [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress.
International Women’s Day, and what later became Women’s History Month, originated in New York City over 100 years ago. On February 28, 1909, “Women’s Day,” was celebrated as the one-year anniversary of the city’s garment industry strike led by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. The Socialist Party of America chose the day to honor the women who bravely protested miserable labor conditions. American socialist and feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman addressed a New York crowd, saying: “It is true that a woman’s duty is centered in her home and motherhood but home should mean the whole country and not be confined to three or four rooms of a city or a state.” At the time, women still couldn’t vote.
All photos: NYC Parks / Daniel Avila
The New York City Parks Department on Tuesday reinterred the human remains of early New Yorkers found during construction in and around Washington Square Park. The skeletal remains were placed in a wooden box and buried five feet below grade within a planting bed, with an engraved paver marking the site at the southern entrance of the park near Sullivan Street. The remains were uncovered between 2008 and 2017, including the unearthing of two 19th-century burial vaults in 2015 that held the remains of at least a dozen people.
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Screenshot of Women’s History Tour map; Courtesy of Village Preservation
On the first day of Women’s History Month, a preservation group is renewing calls to landmark nearly two dozen sites related to women’s history in New York City. Village Preservation on Monday kicked off a campaign effort urging the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate several buildings located south of Union Square that have a connection to trailblazing women, organizations, or historic events. It’s part of the group’s broader effort to protect nearly 200 buildings in the area which is slated for new development.
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All renderings courtesy of OTJ Architects
Jersey City has reached a $72 million deal with the operator of the Prudential Center to transform the historic Loew’s Wonder Theatre into a modern 3,300-seat venue. Mayor Steven Fulop on Monday announced a partnership with Devils Arena Entertainment to renovate the nearly 100-year-old theater that once operated as an opulent entertainment destination when it opened in 1929 and was nearly demolished in the 1980s, but was saved by a grassroots preservation effort. The city sees the restoration of Loew’s as part of a broader revitalization of the transit-friendly Journal Square neighborhood, where multiple mixed-use towers are in the works.
Known for its record-breaking height and sophisticated Art Deco style, the Empire State Building is one of New York City’s, if not the world’s, most recognized landmarks. While the building is often used in popular culture as light-natured fodder—such as the opening backdrop to your favorite cookie-cutter rom-com or the romantic meeting spot for star-crossed lovers—the building’s past is far more ominous than many of us realize. From failed suicide attempts to accidental plane crashes, its history casts a vibrant lineup of plot-lines and characters spanning the past 90 years.
Read about the dark side of the empire state building
Screenshot courtesy of NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday released an interactive story map that explores significant buildings, districts, and sites in New York City that are related to Black history and culture. The project highlights 75 individual landmarks and 33 historic districts associated with African American figures and historical events across the five boroughs dating to before the Civil War up to today, from the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan to the East 25th Street Historic District in Flatbush.
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Photo of Patsy’s pizza by Patrick Woodward, via Wikimedia Commons
Though pizza aficionados know that Gennaro Lombardi is credited with opening the country’s first pizzeria in 1905 in Little Italy, it wasn’t until the WIII years, that the popular food gained mainstream recognition. On September 20, 1944, it’s said that the New York Times first popularized the word “pizza” to those outside of the Italian-American community. From there, other media stories followed and a true pizza frenzy kicked off.
The rest of the pizza history here
“A Mondy washing.” Image from the Library of Congress, Detroit Photographic Co., via Wikimedia Commons
The image of New York’s old tenements is hardly complete without lines of laundry hanging between each building. Like today, doing laundry was a public endeavor for most New Yorkers. But unlike today, they depended on their building’s laundry lines to dry everything out. Ephemeral New York notes that Monday was typically the chosen day to get it done. As the photo caption says above, full lines of laundry were evident of “A Monday’s Washing.” Monday was known as a “hard wash-day” that required incredible effort from the women of the tenements.
See historic photos of laundry day
“Alphas Hold the Line.” Photo by Michael Young.
During the month of February, the nation observes Black History Month as a way to celebrate and honor African American history and culture. While this year’s commemoration will be different because of the pandemic, many New York City organizations and institutions are hosting virtual events, lectures, and exhibitions. Learn about the achievements and influence of Black Americans with an online walking tour featuring Black artists of Greenwich Village, a concert honoring composers of the Harlem Renaissance, a class on Black archaeology in New York City, and much more.
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