Every Labor Day, millions of people gather in Brooklyn to celebrate Caribbean culture at the West Indian-American Day Carnival. Since the early 20th century, the Carnival, which first got its start in the United States in Harlem, has brought together New Yorkers through beautiful costumes, music, dance, and food of the West Indies. Starting in the 1960s, the festival has taken over Crown Heights‘ Eastern Parkway, uniting many islands (Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Haiti, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and Grenda, Guyana, Suriname and Belize, and others) in one extravagant party. As one of New York City’s largest, and certainly most colorful, events, the Carnival should not be missed. Ahead, learn about the history of the parade, the traditions that thrive to this day and the details of this year’s festival.
Photo via Wiki Commons
Now in its 51st year, U.S. Open fever has once again swept the city. Though nowadays it’s all Venus and Djokovic and craft beers and lobster rolls, there’s a long history behind the world-famous event. Here, 6sqft takes a look at how the international tournament made its way from an elite, private club in Newport Rhode Island to Forest Hills’ West Side Tennis Club and finally to its current home in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, even uncovering a little connection to the 1964 World’s Fair.
Photo via Flickr cc
A bustling Brooklyn enclave that is today an impossibly trendy and diverse mix of glassy condos, hip new restaurants and storefronts, and unassuming multi-family homes in the northeast section of Williamsburg was one of New York City’s notable Italian-American neighborhoods for much of the 20th century. While it may not have the tourist cachet of Manhattan’s Little Italy–or the old-fashioned village-y coziness of Carroll Gardens–this swath of the ‘burg, bounded roughly by Montrose, Union, Richardson, and Humboldt Streets, was a little bit of Italy in its own right from the 1800s until as late as the 1990s. The north end of Graham Avenue was even christened Via Vespucci to commemorate the historic Italian-American community.
Photo © James and Karla Murray for 6sqft
The debate around American immigration policy has become so contentious and dispiriting that the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services has actually suggested amending “The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus’ immortal words of welcome inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. But at the same time, writer Joan Marans Dim and artist Antonio Masi have brought out “Lady Liberty: An Illustrated History of America’s Most Storied Woman.”
After getting a sneak peek of the new book, it seemed timely to take a deep dive into the history of the Statue of Liberty, which represents not only our city but one of the most vital and necessary of all American values. Ahead, discover 10 things you might not know about the Statue of Liberty, from its beginnings on “Love Island” to early suffragette protests to its sister in Paris.
Image via Google Maps
Update 8/19/19: The owner of 227 Duffield Street told Gothamist on Friday that he will build an African American museum in the basement of the property which has ties to the abolitionist movement. Samiel Hanasab, who applied for a demolition permit earlier this summer, told the website: “I have a high respect for African Americans. This project will be in the basement.” The developer did not provide any additional details for the museum.
Despite a series of last-minute preservation attempts after demolition plans for 227 Duffield Street were filed with the city’s Department of Buildings in June, the 19th-century Downtown Brooklyn house with abolitionist ties remains endangered. Gothamist reported that the owner, Samiel Hansab, has filed an application with the Department of Buildings to erect a 13-story mixed-use building in its place. The application is still under review and no permits have been issued, but as Gothamist noted, the best chance of saving the building would be an intervention by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Think you know New York City neighborhoods inside and out? Prove it this month at a trivia night about preservation and NYC history hosted by the Historic Districts Council. The free event takes place on Wednesday, August 21 at 6 p.m. and invites preservation buffs to enjoy a night of educational fun. Plus there will be prizes!
The original design. Photo by Tia Richards for 6sqft
Last year’s unveiling of designs for the first statue in Central Park’s 165-year history that depicts real historic women–a sculpture of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony–was met with mixed reviews: Why didn’t the statue, set to be dedicated in August of 2020, marking the 100th anniversary of nationwide women’s suffrage, include any of the many African-American women who aided in the cause? Today it was announced that a redesigned statue honoring pioneering women’s rights advocates will include Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth, an escaped slave and abolitionist who joined the fight for women’s rights.
On August 8, 2008, Village Preservation and the East Village Community Coalition (EVCC) submitted a request to the LPC to landmark a little-known but remarkable survivor– Congregation Mezritch Synagogue at 515 East 6th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A. The building was the last operating “tenement synagogue” in the East Village. A young, little-known developer named Jared Kushner was planning to tear it down and replace it with condos and a new space for the tiny congregation, which had operated out of the building since 1910.
The story has a (relatively) happy ending – the synagogue and much of its surroundings were landmarked in 2012, and the demolition plan was dropped. But unlike the deservedly beloved and celebrated Eldridge Street Synagogue, now a National Historic Landmark, Mezritch is one of several unique but in many cases overlooked historic synagogues still standing in and around Greenwich Village, the East Village, and the Lower East Side, which in the early 20th century contained what was by many accounts the largest Jewish community in the world. Ahead, we take a look at the history of seven of them and what makes them so unique.
Photo via Flickr cc
What do Woody Guthrie, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Frank Schubert (the nation’s last civilian lighthouse keeper) have in common? They all lived in Sea Gate, a private community at the westernmost tip of Coney Island. Sea Gate began as a 19th-century playground for the rich, turned into a hotbed of Yiddish literature and Socialist labor activism in the 1930s, and sported at least one commune in the early ‘70s. Today, Sea Gate is home to about 8,000 residents who enjoy private beaches and expansive views of the Verrazano Bridge.
If you want to “get in the Gate,” as the locals say, but aren’t ready to relocate west of the Wonder Wheel, you can snag a summer membership at the Sea Gate Beach Club, where even non-residents can while away the hours under a cabana. Or, you can read on for the history of a Coney Island beach town you’ve probably never been to.
Walt Whitman Way, image via Google Street View.
The corner of Dekalb Avenue and Ryerson Street in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn will be named Walt Whitman Way following a City Council vote on July 23, the Brooklyn Eagle reports. The intersection is a few avenues from 99 Ryerson Street, where the modest home in which the poet–a former Brooklyn Eagle editor–penned “Leaves of Grass” still stands. May of this year saw the the 200th anniversary of Whitman’s birth, and several efforts have also been underway to landmark the house as well.