History

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Features, History, holidays, photography, The urban lens

black friday, nyc holiday shopping, library of congress

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.

See the photos here

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Features, History

united neighborhood council, bury the slums, settlement house, settlement house history, settlement house rally

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.

The full history ahead

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Features, History

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.

Glide into this story!

Featured Story

Features, History, holidays

Photo courtesy of Macy’s, Inc.

Since New York City invented the Holiday Season as we know it, it’s only fitting that this city kicks things off in fine form. Thankfully, the good folks at Macy’s have been doing just that since 1924, when they sent the very first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade sauntering down Broadway. The Parade has been synonymous with Thanksgiving for more than 90 years, and it has more secrets up its sleeve than it has balloons in the air. From “balloonatics” and “falloons” to the only time in history the parade was canceled, here are 10 things you might not know about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Float on!

Events, Harlem, History

Museum of Food and Drink, African/American: Making the Nation's Table

Exhibition renderings courtesy of the Museum of Food and Drink

Next February the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) will bring together the country’s first exhibition celebrating the countless ways in which African Americans have shaped American cuisine. Curated by Dr. Jessica B. Harris, a leading expert on the foods of the African Diaspora, African/American: Making the Nation’s Table will take place at The Africa Center in Harlem and feature musical selections by Questlove, tastings by Chef Carla Hall, and a restoration of the historic Ebony Magazine Test Kitchen.

More details

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Features, History

Where to see pieces of the Berlin Wall in NYC

By Dana Schulz, Wed, November 6, 2019

This Saturday, November 9th, marks the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. Many people might know of pieces of the wall on display in various museums such as the Newseum in DC and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in southern California, but did you know there are four places in NYC to see segments of the Berlin Wall? One is in a touristy Times Square museum, another at the United Nations, a third at a public plaza in Battery Park City, and the last inside a public office building lobby in Midtown (though recent reports say this piece has been moved to storage).

Learn more about these four spots

History, West Village 

6 Weehawken Street in 2017; Map data © 2019 Google

Three years after Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois announced plans to transfer the deed of his West Village townhouse to a nonprofit organization run by a former chief of the Ramapough Indians—part of the Lenape Nation, the original Manhattanites—the millionaire activist (and artist Louise Bourgeois’ son) has decided to hold onto it after all. Bourgeois was working on plans to transform the historic wood-frame home into a patahmaniikan, or a prayer house, when he decided that he was in fact “married to this building” and no longer eager to give it away, as the New York Post reports.

More details

Events, History, holidays

Photo by Elena Gaillard on Wikimedia

To celebrate Native American Heritage Month, New Yorkers can take a free paddling tour of the Bronx River this weekend while learning about the experiences of 16th-century indigenous communities. Hosted by the Bronx River Alliance and Moskehtu Consulting, the event takes visitors on a 30-minute canoe paddle through the Mitshubishi River Walk in the Bronx Zoo and explores the life and culture of Native Americans with a living village.

How to sign up

Harlem, History

Mount morris fire watchtower, harlem fire watchtower, renovation, restoration, city landmarks, parks

Photo credit: Daniel Avila / NYC Parks.

The Harlem Fire Watchtower, also known as the Mount Morris Fire Watchtower, is the last structure of its kind in New York City. The 47-foot-tall tower was erected in 1856, the third of 11 fire towers built in Manhattan. Fire watchtowers were discontinued after 1878, but the bell in its tower continued to ring at 9am and noon for years after. The historic cast-iron tower has been restored and reunited with its original surroundings in Marcus Garvey park after having been in storage since 2015.

Find out more

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Features, Greenwich Village, GVSHP, History

17 legendary musicians who called Greenwich Village home

By Andrew Berman and Hunter Lane of Village Preservation, Thu, October 31, 2019

Photo of Bob Dylan by Chris Hakkens on Wikimedia, Photo of Janis Joplin via Wikimedia, Photo of Buddy Holly via Wikimedia, Photo of Jimi Hendrix via Wikimedia, Photo of Lou Reed by Mick Rock on Wikimedia

For generations, Greenwich Village, and particularly the historic district which lies at its core, has attracted musicians of all stripes. They’ve been inspired by its quaint and charming streets and the lively cultural scene located in and around the neighborhood. It would be a fool’s errand to try to name every great musician who ever laid their head to rest within the Greenwich Village Historic District’s boundaries. But as we round out a year’s worth of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the district’s designation, here are just a few of the greats who at one time or another called it home, from Bob Dylan to John Lennon to Jimi Hendrix to Barbra Streisand.

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