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.
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.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday designated five Nomad buildings linked to the birthplace of American pop music. Tin Pan Alley, a stretch of West 28th Street named to describe the sound of piano music heard from street level, served as an epicenter for musicians, composers, and sheet music publishers between 1893 and 1910. During this nearly two-decade period, some of the most memorable songs of the last century were produced, including “God Bless America” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
Photo: TWA Hotel/David Mitchell
The state last week awarded ten projects with historic preservation awards, and nominated a dozen other sites to be nominated for the state and national historic places registers. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation recognized the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport for its preservation of Eero Saarinen’s Trans World Airlines terminal, which serves as the lobby for a new 512-room hotel.
From top left: Photo of Robert Frost via Wikimedia, Photo of Emily Post via Library of Congress, Photo of Henry Miller via Wikimedia; From bottom left: Photo of James Baldwin by Allan Warren via Wikimedia, Photo of Patricia Highsmith via Wikimedia, and Photo of Margaret Mead via Smithsonian Institution Archives Wikimedia
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 history, culture, and architecture. Village Preservation is spending 2019 marking this anniversary with events, lectures, and new interactive online resources. This is part of a series of posts about the Greenwich Village Historic District marking its golden anniversary.
Greenwich Village, specifically the historic district at its core, has been described as many things, but “literary” may be among the most common. That’s not only because the neighborhood has an air of sophistication and drama, but because it has attracted some of the nation’s greatest writers over the last 200 plus years. Ahead, learn about just some of the cornucopia of great wordsmiths who have called the Greenwich Village Historic District home, from Thomas Paine to Lorraine Hansberry.
Manhattan’s Menorah being lit by Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, in 2016. Via Chabad Lubavitch/Flickr.
In the mid-1970s, former Chabad Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson encouraged his emissaries to build public menorahs in major cities and organize nightly lightings to increase public awareness about Hanukkah and inspire fellow Jews to light menorahs in their homes. Decades later, Chabad rabbis continue the effort in cities worldwide, but in New York, the practice hasn’t always been peaceful. The tradition ended up creating a friendly competition between rival menorahs in Brooklyn and Manhattan, who both claimed to be “The World’s Largest.”
Christmas shoppers on 6th Avenue (1910) via Library of Congress
Black Friday marks the start of frantic holiday shopping, the day when retailers offer their best deals of the season to lure in eager shoppers. While some gift-givers now choose to digitally add items to shopping carts from the comfort of bed instead, many still line up outside of stores at the crack of dawn in search of major discounts. This is not a modern phenomenon, as these photographs from the Library of Congress of 20th century New York City reveal. Like today, New Yorkers of the early 1900s were drawn to the magical window shops and displays. Ahead, explore vintage photos of shoppers browsing New York City stores looking for the perfect presents, postcards and more.
United Neighborhood Houses’ Rally for the Bury the Slums Campaign in 1936
Look back to early 1900s New York and you’ll find a city not only transformed by an influx of immigrants from around the world, but a movement to improve their living conditions. As newcomers to the city increasingly faced poverty, hunger, disease, crime and unsafe housing, community hubs like churches and synagogues began advocating for better living conditions. Settlement houses also played an important role in this movement for social justice. Their initial purpose of bringing more privileged, outside “settlers” into immigrant communities could be controversial, but it also forged bonds between different classes of New Yorkers who fought for issues like housing protections, stronger labor laws, and city sanitation efforts.
Exactly 100 years ago, an organization emerged to better coordinate the efforts of settlement houses and ensure their advocacy into the future. United Neighborhood Houses was the city’s first umbrella organization for settlement homes with the goal to fight for equality and social change. Today the organization exists as one of the largest human service systems in New York City, holding up the city’s still-robust collection of settlement houses. The history of United Neighborhood Houses tells a larger story of the evolving role of settlement houses in New York: why they were introduced, how they integrated — with some bumps — into impoverished communities, and how they’ve grown into community hubs still servicing New Yorkers today.
Central Park, Conservatory Water, ice skating race, published Manhattan Parks Dept. Annual Report, 1928. Courtesy of NYC Parks.
It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but New York is already a winter wonderland. How do we know? The skating rinks are open. If you choose to glide through the holiday season on ice, taking a spin anywhere from Central Park to Coney Island, you’re sliding into a New York winter tradition that includes the nation’s first organized ice rink, a decade of “Icetravaganzas” that drew millions, a glittery trend of hotel ice gardens throughout midtown, and even the a relationship to origins of baseball. So lace up, and read on for a history of ice-skating in New York City.