We’re right in the middle of NYC Pride Week, and this Sunday will be filled with festivities surrounding the 45th annual Pride Parade, the largest parade of its kind in the world. And in a perfectly timed decision, the Landmarks Preservation Commission announced on Tuesday that it had designated the Stonewall Inn as the city’s first LGBT landmark. The LPC now has even more to share, releasing a fun new interactive map called Taking Pride, which documents 150 years of LGBTQ history in Greenwich Village, the hub for gay activism in the city, and even the world.
Since 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the New York City landmarks law, we’ve been talking a lot about historic buildings–those that have been saved, those that were destroyed, secrets of some of the city’s most famous spots. We even discovered that there are two landmarked individual trees. And starting tomorrow, the New York City Parks Department is hosting a new exhibit at the Arsenal in Central Park called Living Landmarks, which takes a look at nine of the city’s ten scenic landmarks, showcasing “their contributions to landscape design and to the dynamism of the city through historical and contemporary photography, renderings, maps, artifacts, and memorabilia.” Many of these, like Central Park, Prospect Park, and Bryant Park, are no brainers, while others like Verdi Square, Fort Tryon, and Ocean Parkway, are a little more under-the-radar.
General Lee Avenue and Robert E. Lee’s former home on Fort Hamilton, via Jeremy Bender/Business Insider
We’ve all seen the news this week regarding the debate over Confederate flags in the South following the tragedy in Charleston. But a fascinating article today from Business Insider reminds us that the issue isn’t necessarily limited to the southern states. In fact, there’s an homage to the Confederacy right here in Brooklyn, and it goes largely unnoticed.
General Lee Avenue is a half-mile street that runs through Fort Hamilton, the city’s last remaining active-duty military base, and is named for Confederate commander General Robert E. Lee, who was the base’s engineer before he left for the south. Additionally, there’s a plaque marking the home where Lee lived from 1841 to 1846.
Of the city’s many rapidly changing neighborhoods, the Lower East Side has for the most part maintained its historic architectural integrity. However, with looming projects like Essex Crossing and a slew of new condos set to rise along the area’s most storied drags, the character of the neighborhood is starting to come under threat. As such, the Lo-Down reports that locals are now banding together in full force to curb development, with two neighborhood preservation groups asking the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to designate a Lower East Side Historic District.
Images by This Hidden City
You’ve surely walked past these bright red frames beneath 14th Street-Union Square numerous times, but probably haven’t given much thought to why they are there—or if you have, you’ve likely just assumed they were another one of the city’s unfinished construction projects. But as it turns out, these seemingly simplistic outlines hold great significance, each piece pointing to a very special time in New York’s transportation history.
Photo via G Captain
Thanks to “Law & Order” and “Orange Is the New Black,” we all think we’re experts on the local prison system. But there’s a lot more to incarceration than Elliot Stabler’s interrogation room and the Litchfield Penitentiary. For example, we bet you didn’t know there’s a giant floating barge in the East River that is home to 800 prisoners?
The Vernon C. Bain Center is a 47,326-ton jail barge used by the New York City Department of Corrections, located near Hunts Point in the Bronx just one mile west of the SUNY Maritime College. It was built in 1992 in New Orleans for $161 million as a means to curb overcrowding at Rikers Island. In the past, it’s been a facility for traditional inmates and juveniles, but today it’s used as a temporary holding and processing center.
Welcome to the “city of romance and excitement” in a time “where all roads lead to Gotham.”
This fascinating film produced by the city’s PR arm back in the ’40s is a total time warp that will transport you to the better days when everyone enjoyed travel by train, dapper suits were daily uniforms, and the New York skyline was downright demure with just the Empire State Building and Chrysler piercing the sky. Though all the landmarks featured are ones you’d expect to see (Grand Central, the Top of the Rock, The Statue of Liberty) and don’t appear all that much different than they do now (kids were bathing in Washington Square Park’s fountain back then too), a number of the shots and commentary provided by the film’s narrator really highlight how much our city has changed (imagine a harbor full of Titanic-like ocean liners and no 432 Park). Watch the 22-minute video ahead.
Photo of 1974 jump via Daily News
Picture this: You walk by the Flatiron Building, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the entire city, and see a man positioning himself to jump off. Today, you’d call 911 without hesitation, but 50 years ago it was annual spectacle.
Ephemeral New York uncovered the story of Henri LaMothe, the “diving daredevil” who performed a stunt around the country where he did his “flying squirrel” dive from 40 feet above ground into a collapsible plastic pool with only four feet of water. On his birthday on April 2, 1954, he climbed to the 40-foot mark on the Flatiron Building and did his signature jump. For the next 20 years, he performed the feat annually on his birthday, decreasing the water level each year. On his 70th birthday in 1974, he dove into a pool filled with merely one foot of water, and many say when he stood up, his back was still dry thanks to his famous belly flop.
With 3D printing taking hold as the hottest new building trend, it’s worth taking a look back at how far humans have come in the realm of home construction. Over 16,000 years ago, mammoth-bone houses were the biggest thing in architecture, and that was only a step up from painted caves. These and other home construction milestones are highlighted in a short animated video by the Atlantic called “Home Is Where the Hearth Is: A Brief History.” The astutely named video demonstrates how housing has changed from prehistoric times to the present.
Long before there was a subway packed full of angry crowds and unidentifiable organisms, New Yorkers in Brooklyn enjoyed above-ground commutes serviced by a streetcar system. This map posted recently by a Redditor is a blast from the past, showing just how complete and comprehensive this network was. In fact, by 1930, nearly 1,800 trolleys were traveling along the streets of BK from Greenpoint to Gowanus to Bay Ridge and beyond. Though the system proved to be profitable (yes, NYC once ran a transit system that actually made them money), the streetcars were eventually forced out of the city by none other than the auto industry.