History

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Architecture, Features, History

City Hall Post Office

The Federal government has dabbled in several architectural styles over the years when designing New York City post offices. From outdated baroque in the late 1800’s to New Deal-era Art Moderne, all of these historic buildings seem to share two characteristics: grandiose and massive. We’ve rounded up here some of the greatest architectural stunners, which also showcase the evolution of historic post office architecture in the city (and almost make waiting an hour in line to mail one letter bearable).

See more of NYC’s historic post offices here

City Living, East Village, History

bowery poetry club

Jam-packed full of boutiques, bars, and a booming frat scene, the East Village‘s past as a haven for artists and other creatives is quickly being forgotten. But from the 1950s through the 60s, the Village was the epicenter of beat poetry and was once the stomping grounds of lit’s most prolific.

For more than sixty years there has been an intense poetry scene happening in the East Village. Passing Stranger, a project by WNYC’s Pejk Malinovski and The Poetry Foundation, is an interactive documentary experience that brings listeners through two miles of the East Village via the poetry and poets of the 1950s up to the present. If you love podcasts such as This American Life and 99% Invisible, you’ll love this sound-rich audio tour which will get you out and about on a beautiful fall day, and enlighten you on one of the most important bohemian communities to exist.

More on the project and podcast

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East Village, Features, History

Peeking into the East Village’s Marble Cemeteries

By Dana Schulz, Fri, October 17, 2014

New York City Marble Cemetery, East Village history, historic NYC cemeteries

Today we think of cemeteries as spooky, haunted places that we avoid, or as sad, depressing spots reserved for funerals. But they were once quite the opposite–in fact, they were the earliest incarnations of public parks. In New York City, burials took place on private or church property up until the mid-1800’s when commercial cemeteries began popping up. And in the East Village there are two such early burial grounds hidden among the townhouses and tenements–the New York Marble Cemetery (on the west side of Second Avenue just above Second Street) and the New York City Marble Cemetery (on the north side of Second Street between First and Second Avenues).

Though their titles are extremely similar and they’re located less than a block apart, the two cemeteries are operated separately and have their own unique history. And during openhousenewyork weekend, we were lucky enough to take a peek beyond the cast iron gates and into these important pieces of the East Village’s past.

Explore the Marble Cemeteries

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Features, History, People

A History of New York in 101 Objects: 6sqft Edition

By Dana Schulz, Thu, October 16, 2014

A History of New York in 101 Objects

As urbanists we tend to define the city by locations and the historic events that unfolded at them. But what about getting even more specific and looking at New York’s past through tangible objects? That’s exactly what New York Times urban affairs correspondent Sam Roberts has assembled in a new book, A History of New York in 101 Objects. And a corresponding exhibit at the New York Historical Society puts Roberts’ choices, along with objects from the Society’s collection, on view.

We were so intrigued by this idea that we decided to put together a 6sqft version of the list. From preservationists to architects to real estate brokers, we’ve asked ten people to give us the ten objects that they feel best define New York City’s history. There are definitely some favorites that emerged like cobblestones, Metrocards, and pizza, as well as an eclectic mix of items that speak to our participants’ personal connections to New York.

See the lists here

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Bed Stuy, Features, History, real estate trends

bed stuy

Photo by brandon king cc

Brooklyn is changing fast and at the forefront of this is Bedford-Stuyvesant—or as it’s more commonly known, Bed-Stuy. Like most New York neighborhoods, Bed-Stuy has had its ups and downs, its most notable down being the 80s and 90s when crime and drugs were at a record high. But as hard as the times may have gotten, the neighborhood has maintained itself as one of the city’s most culturally significant. Bed-Stuy has long been home to one of the largest concentrations of African-Americans in New York, it boasts beautiful well-preserved architecture spanning countless styles and centuries, and of course, there is the neighborhood’s central role in the hip-hop movement.

More on the history and future of Bed-Stuy

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Architecture, Features, History

new york city bridges

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), Manhattan boasts about 20 bridges that connect the Big Apple to neighboring areas—many of which have various degrees of landmark status, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the High Bridge, the University Heights Bridge and the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. We often use these marvels without giving them much thought beyond the grandiose size and maybe their engineering, so to give you a little trivia to impress your friends with the next time you cross one these storied bridges, we’re offering up a handy primer on seven of the city’s most famous.

A quick primer on the city’s top bridges

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Features, History, holidays

Columbus Circle, Christopher Columbus, Columbus monuments NYC

It’s easy to forget that Columbus Day is more than just a day off from work (which we’re not complaining about), but rather a holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1942. But if you need reminding, look no further than these memorials scattered around New York City.

Take a tour of where to find Christopher Columbus monuments in NYC

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Architecture, Features, History

Photo courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle

The TWA Flight Center at what is today John F. Kennedy International airport represents both the ephemeral and the ageless; our vulnerability at the end of the “American century” and the enduring beauty of inspired modern design.

The work of mid-20th century Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, the historic terminal is among the city’s most beloved architectural treasures. It first opened in 1962, a year after the architect’s death, and Saarinen posthumously received the AIA Gold Medal award for the design in 1962.

Despite its storied past and widespread reverence, since the demise of TWA and its subsequent purchase by American Airlines in 2001, the terminal’s iconic “head house” has remained eerily vacant, and its future continues to be a point of contention.

More on the terminal’s past and uncertain future

History, Technology

ScenePast: Americana Road Trip, vintage postcards, Coney Island Cyclone

Perusing those bins of vintage postcards at flea markets is always a treat, but who wants to mail and part ways with such fun pieces of nostalgia? A new app called ScenePast: Americana Road Trip, however, lets users send 20th century postcards digitally, so you can share your favorite scenes without tapping into your personal collection.

If that wasn’t enough, ScenePast also has a feature that provides the current-day view of the streetscape depicted on the postcard–a fun tool that is sure to prove addictive for history buffs.

More on the app here

Featured Story

East Village, Features, History

Little Germany, St. Mark's Place

Before there were sports bars and college dorms, there were bratwurst and shooting clubs. In 1855, New York had the third largest German-speaking population in the world, outside of Vienna and Berlin, and the majority of these immigrants settled in what is today the heart of the East Village.

Known as “Little Germany” or Kleindeutschland (or Dutchtown by the Irish), the area comprised roughly 400 blocks, with Tompkins Square Park at the center. Avenue B was called German Broadway and was the main commercial artery of the neighborhood. Every building along the avenue followed a similar pattern–workshop in the basement, retail store on the first floor, and markets along the partly roofed sidewalk. Thousands of beer halls, oyster saloons, and grocery stores lined Avenue A, and the Bowery, the western terminus of Little Germany, was filled with theaters.

The bustling neighborhood began to lose its German residents in the late nineteenth century when Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe move in, and a horrific disaster in 1904 sealed the community’s fate.

Read our full history of Kleindeutschland

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