This year, the New York Public Library is celebrating its 125th anniversary. With 53 million items and 92 locations across Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, the NYPL is the largest municipal library in the world. It’s also the steward of some of New York’s greatest landmarks, reflecting a century and a quarter of Gotham’s history, and in some cases even more.
The roots of this library system can be found in Greenwich Village, the East Village, and Noho. The main antecedents of the NYPL which formed the foundation of today’s system— the Astor Library, the Lenox Library, and the New York Free Circulating Library – all began in these neighborhoods just below 14th Street. As a result, this is where New York’s oldest public library buildings and the oldest building housing an NYPL branch are located — the latter ironically having been where great works of literature were banned and censored before it became a library.
Get the full story
Recently, 6sqft brought you 20 fascinating photos of New York in the ’20s, and now, we invite you to celebrate the new decade by following in the footsteps of the fanciest flappers in the five boroughs. Ahead, check out 10 places in NYC today to relive the Roaring Twenties. On this list, you’ll find theaters, bars, and hotels; Art Deco masterpieces; addresses favored by the Follies and Fitzgerald; and at least one spot where New York offers up “its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”
Roar right here
Exterior photo via Wikimedia; Photo of bell tower © 6sqft
After nearly 20 years, the iconic bell tower of the Riverside Church in Morningside Heights has officially reopened. The impressive Gothic-style cathedral is home to the 74-bell Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon, which includes a 40,000 pound Bourdon bell, the largest tuned bell in the world. The tower closed to the public almost two decades ago following 9/11 but reopened for public tours earlier this month. 6sqft recently took a tour of the stunning Riverside Church, known for its interdenominational services and dedication to social justice causes.
Take the tour
Streetview of 14-16 Fifth Avenue, Map data © 2020 Google; Painting of Henry Breevort via public domain, Photo of General Daniel Edgar Sickles courtesy of the Library of Congress, and photo of Celeste Holm via public domain
Madison Realty Capital filed plans last month to demolish 14-16 Fifth Avenue, a five-story apartment building constructed in 1848, and replace it with a 244-foot-tall tower. Because it is located within the Greenwich Village Historic District, it can only be demolished if the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission rules that the building itself is of no historic or architectural merit, and does not contribute to the character of the district (the public hearings where this would be debated and decided have not yet been scheduled). What may seem like a nondescript apartment building actually has an incredibly rich and varied history. Throughout its 170-year history, 14-16 Fifth Avenue was home to Civil War generals, Gold Rush writers, Oscar-winning actors, railroad magnates, pioneering industrialists, inventors, and politicians. What follows is just some of the history behind this easily-overlooked lower Fifth Avenue landmark.
One building, tons of history
Welcome back to the Roaring ’20s, New York! Now that the new decade has officially dawned, we’re turning the clock back 100 years to see what the city was like the last time the calendar struck 20. If you’re looking for a little inspiration for your next Great Gatsby-themed bash, ahead find 20 fantastic photos of New York during the Jazz Age, depicting everything from old Ebbets Field to the height of Prohibition.
Design by Amanda Matthews; courtesy of RIOC
The design of a new memorial honoring investigative journalist Nellie Bly has been officially unveiled. Tapped by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, artist Amanda Matthews of Prometheus Art presented during a town hall last month “The Girl Puzzle” memorial, which will feature sculptures of Bly and four faces of women and girls who she interviewed. The memorial, whose design was first spotted by THE CITY, will be installed in late 2020 at the tip of Lighthouse Park on Roosevelt Island.
See it here
Image of the first Christmas tree in City Hall park in 1913; via Library of Congress
In 1912, the nation’s first public Christmas tree went up in Madison Square Park and sparked a new trend that would soon spread to parks across the city and beyond. The following year, acting Mayor Ardolph Kline initiated a similar tradition when he asked a young boy to help him light a Christmas tree in City Hall Park. By 1934, tree lighting celebrations became a citywide effort, with the Parks Department putting up 14 fifty-foot Norway Spruce trees throughout the city. Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia dedicated the trees from City Hall Park and broadcasted the ceremony to sites across the city.
As this year marks 400 years since the first African slaves were brought to America, much attention has been paid to what that means and how to remember this solemn anniversary. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission issued a story map highlighting landmarks of the abolitionist movement in New York City. Absent from the map were a number of incredibly important sites in Greenwich Village, the East Village, and Noho, which were a hotbed of abolitionist activity through the 19th century, as well as the home of the city’s largest African American community. Ahead, learn about 14 significant sites of the anti-slavery movement.
Screenshot of the map courtesy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission
For roughly 200 years, between 1626 and 1827, New York City was home to more enslaved Africans than almost every other city in the country. But after abolishing slavery nearly 40 years before the nation, the city became a major player of the national abolitionist movement, housing anti-slavery activists and organizations, as well as many stops on the Underground Railroad. Now 400 years after the first enslaved Africans arrived in the United States, the Landmarks Preservation Commission released this week an interactive story map highlighting designated city landmarks tied to the abolitionist movement.
Explore the map
Image by Skeez via Pixabay cc
Though all across the U.S. of A., Santa Claus and his missus appear arm in arm, NYC Santas have no time (or budget) for a wife, according to the Wall Street Journal. Several women who don Mrs. Claus outfits in a professional capacity during the winter holiday season have said that they’re not only paid about half what Santa gets–more along the lines of what an elf is paid, according to Brian Harrell, CEO of the Minneapolis-based All Time Favorites, Inc. which employs 600 “premium” Santa performers–but there’s not much call for Mrs. Claus in the city at all.
Behind every good man–at least in pay