The Village People Stepping Out, The Grand Ballroom, NY, NY, June 1978 (l); Three Amigos, Bushwick (r). By Meryl Meisler.
It’s 2015 and Bushwick is on fire. But instead of being lost to the flames of neglect and destruction, buildings are being sold and rented like hotcakes. Photographer Meryl Meisler’s first monograph, “Disco Era Bushwick: A Tale of Two Cities,” published by Bizarre Bushwick gives us an insider’s view of the streets and scenes of New York City during the glam/gritty 1970s and ‘80s when Manhattan’s iconic dance clubs like Studio 54 and Paradise Garage were in their heyday–and there was no brunch to be had in Bushwick.
See more of a bad and bygone Bushwick this way
If you’ve ever wondered what subway lines were the first to appear in NYC, this cool animated map has all the answers and then some. Created by Appealing Industries via Paste Magazine (h/t Untapped), the map shows the evolution of the city’s various lines over the 100-plus years that it’s been in operation. Surprisingly, Brooklyn is the first to see action on the map; the lines were part of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (later the BMT), created in 1896, and followed existing surface railways and streetcar lines. The IRT, which runs in Manhattan and marked the official opening of the subway network, wasn’t established until several years later in 1904. Untapped is also apt to note that the map doesn’t consider the aboveground rail lines that were constructed in the late 19th century, nor does it include the first pneumatically-powered subway line which opened in 1870.
Magnolia Grandiflora via Wiki Commons (L); Weeping Beech Tree via NY State Archives (R)
Last week we looked at the city’s oldest and tallest tree in Alley Pond, Queens, which got us thinking about one of the questions at the Preservation Trivia night we recently attended. What are the only two living things in NYC to have ever been landmarked? We’ll admit, we were stumped. We guessed Peter Stuyvesant’s pear tree and the World Trade Center Survivor Tree, which were both wrong. But they are trees: the Weeping Beech Tree in Flushing, Queens and the Magnolia Grandiflora in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. And to make it even more exclusive, only the latter still survives; the Beech Tree died and was cut down in 1999.
Find out the history of how these landmarks came to be
A 1776 map that shows Peter Stuyvesant’s farm in the present-day East Village
Cartographers and history buffs will have a field day with this online tool known as NYC Time Machine. Using public data from the New York Public Library, the resource allows users to “navigate perfectly-overlaid maps of NYC from 1660 to present day.” The site is part of Vestiges of New York, which overlays historic photos and current images.
Can you visualize what New York City looked like in 1896? If not, a new video will let you step back in time. It shows shots of 28 locations from 1905 all the way back to 1896, making it the oldest known footage of the city. The absolute oldest shots were taken on May 11, 1896 and were of Herald Square. Since in many cases a lot has changed over the last century, pinpointed maps with dates provide a welcome commentary.
Watch the full video here
Alley Pond Park via NYC Parks (L); The Queens Giant via NPR by Benjamin Swett (R)
In case you haven’t noticed, we typically talk about buildings here at 6sqft, but today we’re taking a look at a different kind of structure important to the urban fabric of New York City–a tree. But not just any tree; this is the oldest and tallest tree in the entire city, and it can be found in Alley Pond Park in Queens, between Douglaston and Bayside.
Known as the Queens Giant, the record holder is a 134-foot (when last measured in 2005) tulip poplar tree that is believed to be 450 years old, according to Untapped Cities. Despite its impressive status, however, even the most seasoned New Yorkers don’t know about this gem, which is likely what has led to its longevity.
Find out more here
Expect conditions to be a little more, um, icy. Photo courtesy of Green-Wood Cemetery
What could be more romantic than a cozy mid-winter afternoon trolley ride through one of NYC’s most interesting national historic landmarks, Green-Wood Cemetery? Celebrate this most romantic of holidays with a bit of a gothic twist: Expert guide Ruth Edebohls will lead a tour highlighting historic power couples, romantic monuments and tales of love everlasting, both triumphant and grim.
You can also view Civil War love letters from the Brooklyn Historical Society’s historic archives on display in the Historic Chapel and have some coffee, tea or hot chocolate before the trolley tour begins. The event is on February 14, 1-3 PM; $20 for Green-Wood and BHS members/$25 for nonmembers.
Find out more and buy tickets here: Love Set in Stone: A Valentine’s Trolley Tour.
Gansevoort Market in 1905, via MCNY
Why is it called the Meatpacking District when there are only six meat packers there, down from about 250? Inertia, most likely. The area has seen so many different uses over time, and they’re so often mercantile ones that Gansevoort Market would probably be a better name for it.
Located on the shore of the Hudson River, it’s a relatively small district in Manhattan stretching from Gansevoort Street at the foot of the High Line north to and including West 14th Street and from the river three blocks east to Hudson Street. Until its recent life as a go-to high fashion mecca, it was for almost 150 years a working market: dirty, gritty, and blood-stained.
Read the full history here
The story behind cheese-aging facility Crown Finish Caves in Crown Heights tells of an enormous amount of risk and dedication to making something on a small scale; to doing one thing well. It also once again stirs the hive of buzz around today’s Brooklyn. Article after article raises the idea that Brooklyn’s moment as the new hot spot for excellence in food, culture and authentic, hand-crafted goods, is in some quarters regarded as trite and trendy hype with little substance to it.
For some, the underground cheese caves are just one more example: Cheese caves. How Brooklyn. Thirty feet below street level, in the lagering tunnels of a former brewery beneath the Monti Building in Crown Heights, Benton Brown and Susan Boyle spent several years renovating and creating “Brooklyn’s premier cheese-aging facility” complete with state-of-the-art humidity control and cooling systems. The couple created the 70-foot space with advice from the world’s top cheese experts; Crown Finish Caves opened in 2014. On an article in Cheese Notes, a commenter raves: “If I were a mouse, I would move to Crown Heights.”
More excellence and authenticity this way
For those of us who came to the city within the past decade, it’s hard to imagine East 14th Street without its stretch of bulky NYU dorms, big-box supermarkets, and mini-chain restaurants. But of course this wasn’t always what the area looked like. In the late 19th century, the area centered around Irving Place, was full of entertainment venues like the Academy of Music, the city’s opera house, Steinway Hall, Tammany Hall, and the City Theatre movie house. And at the heart of it all was a restaurant that catered to both the theater crowd and the German population of the East Village–Luchow’s.
Luchow’s was established in 1882 at 110 East 14th Street at Irving Place when German immigrant August Lüchow purchased the café/beer garden where he worked as a bartender and waiter. It remained in operation for a full century, becoming an unofficial neighborhood and city landmark, until it was replaced by NYU’s University Hall dormitory.
Read the full history here