The lead female runners at 81st Street and 1st Avenue in 2015, photo © 6sqft
The 49th New York City Marathon, taking place this Sunday, November 3rd, is the world’s largest marathon, and this year it will bring together more than 50,000 runners from over 125 countries, plus 10,000 volunteers and one million spectators. It wasn’t always this way, though. Started by the New York Road Runners Club in 1970, the race began as a few loops around Central Park with just over 100 runners. But the passion of its founders, coupled with the spirit of the city, grew the marathon into an event that generates $415 million for New York. In honor of the upcoming 2019 Marathon, 6sqft is taking a look back at the history of the race, its greatest moments, and what’s in store for this year.
All that right this way
It often seems as if the jackhammer is the soundtrack to New York, as construction is a constant in this city. Given the frenetic pace of development in the five boroughs, it feels almost unbelievable that there are abandoned sites all over New York, left to go to seed as the steel skeletons of ever higher, newer, glassier structures rise around them. Here are eight of the most interesting abandoned sites in NYC, from the site of the city’s first airport to a defunct freight line.
Photo by Si B on Flickr
As part of the city’s plan to diversify public art and recognize figures overlooked by history in New York City, Central Park is getting another statue, as the New York Times reports. The privately-funded monument will commemorate Seneca Village, the predominantly black community that was thriving until the 1850s in what became Central Park. Once again, however, the city’s commemorative statue planning has fallen afoul of historians. The proposed structure won’t be located at the site of Seneca Village, which for nearly three decades stretched between West 83rd and 89th streets in Central Park. Instead, the monument’s home will be in the park, but 20 blocks to the north on 106th street.
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Photo via John St John / Flickr
The Village Halloween Parade may not be as completely outrageous as it once was, but this annual holiday extravaganza is quintessential Greenwich Village. Though many parade attendees are there to show off their costumes and check out those of others, there’s a large number of guests who revel in the nostalgia of a New York tradition that’s marched downtown since 1973. But there’s a lot more history to the parade than most people may know. For instance, it didn’t always go up 6th Avenue, and there’s an entire art form behind those supersized puppets.
All the history right here
“Cherry blossoms falling in front of a mausoleum in Green-Wood Cemetery,” April 2017, by Rhododendrites via wikimedia commons
What do Jean-Michel Basquiat, F.A.O Schwarz, Horace Greeley, Samuel Morse, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Boss Tweed, Peter Cooper, Leonard Bernstein, and Susan Smith McKinney-Steward have in common? All these notable New Yorkers are spending eternity in Brooklyn, specifically Greenwood Cemetery, the stunning 478-acre “rural cemetery” that’s home to 560,000 “permanent residents” (and about as many truly spectacular mausoleums.) Since the best secrets are the ones you take to the grave, come dig up the dirt on Green-Wood, and read on for 10 things you didn’t know about Brooklyn’s most sensational cemetery.
Take it to the grave!
Photo by Beyond My Ken / Wiki Commons
The area south of Union Square, on the border between Greenwich Village and the East Village, is changing. The approval of the new 14th Street Tech Hub south of Union Square combined with an explosion of tech-related development in the area has resulted in the demolition of mid-19th-century hotels and Beaux-Arts style tenements, with new office towers like 809 Broadway taking their place.
Aside from being rich in 19th- and early-20th-century architecture, this area is overflowing with history connected to many of the great American artists, writers, musicians, publishers, activists, innovators and artisans of the last century and a half. As part of Village Preservation’s work to document and bring to light some of that often forgotten history, we wrote this piece last year exploring the connections to Mark Twain and Walt Whitman, Alexander Graham Bell and Leroi Jones (among many others). Now, we’ve uncovered even more history-making people and events connected to this area and its buildings, from Hammacher Schlemmer (NYC’s first hardware store) to a slew of influential publishing houses (including that which published the first U.S. edition of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”) to the Women’s Suffrage League headquarters.
View looking north, with Central Park and the towers that dot Billionaires’ Row clearly visible; Photo courtesy of Empire State Realty Trust
After four years and $165 million, the revamp of New York City’s first supertall is nearly complete, bringing a more contemporary and visitor-friendly experience to one of the world’s most historic buildings. The Empire State Building’s 102nd-floor observatory, which boasts 360-degree panoramic views at 1,250 feet above street level, officially opens to the public on Saturday, Oct. 12. Building owner Empire State Realty Trust redesigned the observatory to be less obstructive for guests, allowing more picture-perfect views and less time waiting.
All the way up
Jacob Ruppert’s Knickerbocker Beer, 1912, via Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division
If you spent the first weekend of October hoisting lager and Oomph-ing it up for Oktoberfest, then you joined a long and proud tradition of German beer production and consumption in New York City. In fact, New York’s German-owned breweries were once the largest beer-making operations in the country, and the brewers themselves grew into regional and national power-players, transforming Major League Baseball, holding elected office, and, perhaps most importantly, sponsoring goat beauty pageants in Central Park. While brewing flourished in both Manhattan and Brooklyn throughout the 19th century, the city’s largest breweries were clustered in Yorkville. In fact, much of the neighborhood’s storied German cultural history can be traced to the rise of brewing in the area, and the German-language shops, cultural institutions and social halls that sprang up to cater to the brewery workers.
Get more Hopping History Here!
October, the month we mark Columbus Day, is also Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month. That combined with the recent celebrations around the 125th anniversary of beloved pastry shop Veniero’s inspires a closer look at the East Village’s own historic Little Italy, centered around First Avenue near the beloved pastry shop and cafe. While not nearly as famous or intact as similar districts around Mulberry Street or Bleecker and Carmine Street in the South Village, if you look closely vestiges of the East Village’s once-thriving Italian community are all around.
In the second half of the 19th century, the East Village was a vibrant checkerboard of ethnic enclaves. Germans were by far the dominant group, until the turn of the century when Eastern European Jews took over the Second Avenue spine and much of what’s now Alphabet City, Hungarians congregated along Houston Street, and Slavs and Poles gravitated towards the blocks just west and north of Tompkins Square. But a linear Italian-American enclave formed along and near First Avenue, broadening at 14th Street. Vestiges of this community survived into the third quarter of the 20th century, with just a few establishments and structures connected to that era continuing to function today.
Get the full list
, Fri, September 20, 2019
Image courtesy of Urban Archive.
6sqft previously featured Urban Archive, the technology nonprofit that has been building (no pun intended) connections
between people, places, and historical institutions through a growing map of New York City’s unique architecture, culture, and stories for several years. Last February saw the launch of their citywide project seeking crowd-sourced histories and photographs to be included in the UA app. Now, the Urban Archive app has a fun new feature: History Crush serves users a steady randomized supply of historic images of NYC buildings, places and events. You can weigh in with a swipe left or right on each new image; yes, it’s like the dating app (without the stress). This Adderall-era add-on actually makes the app even more addictive–and encourages users to check out more images. Even better, right-swiped and liked images are saved to a folder in your My Archive collection for future investigation.
Every picture tells a story