Babe Ruth shakes the hand of actor Gary Cooper (playing Lou Gehrig) during the filming of the movie “Pride of the Yankees” in 1942. The scene is a recreation of “Gehrig Appreciation Day” on July 4, 1939 when Gehrig retired due to his diagnosis with ALS; Via NYC Municipal Archives
To celebrate the start of the baseball season this week, the city’s Department of Records & Information Services released a series of artifacts and historic photos for sale. From architectural drawings of Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field to photos of Babe Ruth at the 1936 World Series, the images provide a look back at our national pastime’s origin in New York City.
How to buy them
Shepard Hall at the City College of New York via Wikimedia
Now that “Operation Varsity Blues” has shown afresh the ways in which the nation’s elite can buy admission into prestigious universities, it may be instructive to consider the history City College, the flagship of the CUNY system, and the first free institution of higher education in the nation. Founded as The Free Academy of the City of New York in 1847, City College has long nurtured brilliant students from all walks of life as the “The Harvard of the Proletariat,” and served as an engine of upward mobility for New Yorkers and other strivers from around the world. As the home of the first student government in the nation, the first student-led strike, and the first degree-granting evening program, City boasts a legacy of equity and equality that reflects the best ideals of the city it serves.
Get the full history
To the dismay of many New Yorkers, the Waldorf Astoria closed its doors in 2017 for a huge renovation project that will ultimately create larger hotel rooms and add a new set of luxury condos. After the plans were announced, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the hotel’s first three floors as an interior landmark, meaning the new owners will need to preserve the 1931 Art Deco spaces. But after a four-year hiatus (the hotel will reopen in 2021) and a completely new vibe, it’s not clear if those interiors will have the same glamorous, old-school New York vibe that they were once famous for. Luckily, photographers James and Karla Murray captured the Waldorf in all its glory before it closed its doors. Ahead, take a tour of the old Waldorf, from its iconic, two-ton lobby clock to the three-tiered grand ballroom.
Take the tour
Image via New York State Board for Historic Preservation
The New York State Board for Historic Preservation has recommended adding 17 properties to the State and National Registers of Historic Places today, sites that represent New York’s rich history from Long Island through the Finger Lakes. In New York City, four nominees made the cut: the Alku and Alku Toinen buildings in Brooklyn, East Harlem Historic District, George Washington Hotel in Gramercy, and St. Luke’s Hospital in Morningside Heights. Once the recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register.
“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 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library, via the Luce Center at the New York Historical Society
Around 4:30pm 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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1964 US Olympic Trials at Kissena Velodrome. From page 47 of “30 years of progress, 1934-1964 : Department of Parks : 300th anniversary of the City of New York : New York World’s Fair.” (1964). Via Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr
From the late 1890s through the 1920s, tens of thousands of New Yorkers turned out to witness the high drama of competitive bicycle speed racing. In New York, there were Velodromes (cycling tracks) at Coney Island, in the Bronx, and even at the original Madison Square Garden, where grueling six-day races called “Madisons” pushed riders to their limits. The sport fell prey to the Depression, and today there are just 26 Velodromes in the United States, including one in New York City, the Kissena Velodrome in Flushing’s Kissena Park, known to Velodrome enthusiasts as “the Track of Dreams.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District. One of the city’s oldest and largest landmark districts, it’s a treasure trove of rich history, pioneering culture, and charming architecture. Village Preservation will be spending 2019 marking this anniversary with events, lectures, and new interactive online resources, including a celebration and district-wide weekend-long “Open House” starting on Saturday, April 13 in Washington Square. Check here for updates and more details. This is part of a series of posts about the Greenwich Village Historic District marking its golden anniversary.
It’s not that often you can pinpoint a time and place and say the course of history was forever changed as a result of it. It’s even less common for such a thing to happen over and over again in one small neighborhood. But from its earliest days, Greenwich Village is where history has been made, much of it within the Greenwich Village Historic District, which lies at its heart. Here are a baker’s dozen of such events located within those one hundred blocks, from the first free black settlement in North America and the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement to the first museum dedicated to contemporary American art and the publication of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”
All the history right this way
Walt Whitman (1881) courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution
In his famous 1856 Poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Walt Whitman writes to future New Yorkers, “I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence, just as you feel when you look on the river and the sky, so I felt,…I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine, I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan Island.” Whitman, who so deeply captured the experience of living in this city, left his mark not only on Brooklyn and Manhattan, but also on the world as the father of free verse poetry, and one of America’s greatest artists. Since this year marks Whitman’s 200th birthday, we’re joining the ongoing celebration of his life and work by returning to the streets he walked, following in his footstep to 10 sites across New York associated with the poet.
Walk With Whitman
“Elephant Bazar Coney Island,” NYPL Wallach Division Picture Collection via NYPL Digital Collections
When Coney Island burst on the scene in the 1880s as “the People’s Playground,” becoming the last word in bawdy beachfront pleasure, every attraction was larger than life. But no attraction was as large as the “Elephantine Colossus,” a 12-story, 31-room, elephant-shaped hotel, stationed at Surf Avenue and West 12th Street. The elephant was a tin-clad wooden structure rising 150 feet high, and it was unlike any other elephant in the world: The animal’s forelegs featured a tobacco shop, its left lung was home to a museum, and visitors to the “cheek room” could look out of the elephant eyes to the ocean beyond.
Image courtesy of NYPL.
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, located in Lincoln Center, has just announced that the Lou Reed Archive is open to the public. The archive documents the life and history of the musician, composer, poet, writer, photographer and tai-chi student through his own extensive collection of papers, photographs, recordings and other materials that span Reed’s creative life starting with his 1958 Freeport High School band, the Shades, right up to his last performances in 2013. In addition, the archive’s opening is being celebrated with a special edition library card as well as a display of items in the collection and more events.
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