History

History, Video

Seventy years from now, new generations of New Yorkers will be able to watch old episodes of Law & Order or Girls to get a glimpse into a past life in the city. Our generation isn’t so often afforded that luxury, unless we’re looking at a grainy black-and-white video. But a clip from the 1949 film Mighty Manhattan – New York’s Wonder City showcases some of the NYC’s most iconic sights in amazing Technicolor.

See New York in 1949 here

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Features, History, holidays

Skating Through Time: A Look Back at NYC’s Ice Rinks

By Dana Schulz, Wed, December 24, 2014

Rockefeller Center Skating Rink, Sharkey the Seal

One of the most festive holiday activities doesn’t end at New Year’s, but rather lasts through the winter. Ice skating in NYC is a hot activity, with lines easily wrapping around the block at the Bryant Park Winter Village and Rockefeller Center’s ice rink. But this isn’t a new trend. Ice skating has long been a popular social pastime for New Yorkers, whether on a frozen pond in Central Park or at the Biltmore Ice Garden at the Biltmore Hotel. Plenty of historic photographs exist, documenting the transformation of the New York ice skater; so we’ve put together a timeline of this winter activity.

All the photos ahead

History, Social Media

NYPL, New York Public Library

Remember the old days of pay phones, encyclopedia collections, and writing letters on actual pieces of paper? Before the internet, life was a lot different, and the New York Public Library has a fun new project to remind us of that.

Referring to themselves as “Google before Google existed,” the NYPL will be posting old reference questions from the 1940s to 80s on their Instagram account every Monday. The staff recently found a box of these old gems, all of which were asked either via phone or in person.

Take a look at the first batch of questions from the NYPL

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Features, History, Hotels, Midtown West

Algonquin Hotel

In a town overrun with fancy hotels, the Algonquin–which turns 112 tomorrow–has true staying power, proving that history and heritage are every bit as important as plush bedding and sweet-smelling bath products.

Designed by Goldwin Starrett in a Renaissance limestone and red brick façade, the 12-story Algonquin Hotel, at 42 West 42nd Street, opened on November 22, 1902, initially operating as an apartment hotel with year-long leases but switching to a hotel after the owner failed to find enough renters. Today, the Algonquin–both a literary landmark and a New York City Historic Landmark–remains one of New York’s most cherished institutions, drawing a mix of artists, tourists and cultural elites.

Read the full history of the storied Algonquin

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Features, Historic Homes, History, Queens, Urban Design

Forest Hills Gardens via Joe Shlabotnik via photopin cc

This unique sheltered enclave might be the perfect spot for residents who can handle the rules; just don’t call it FoHiGa.

Occupying a 175-acre wedge just south of the Forest Hills LIRR station and within the greater Queens neighborhood of Forest Hills, Forest Hills Gardens is one of America’s oldest planned communities. Modeled after England’s “garden cities,” originally intended to create an ideal environment that incorporated shared green space with urban convenience for the working classes, the Gardens (as it’s known) is home to about 4,500 residents. The private community is managed by the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation, an organization made up of property owners.

This unique community consisting of over 800 free-standing and attached houses and 11 apartment buildings as well as churches, parks and storefronts, dates from 1909, when architect Grosvenor Atterbury and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.–-son of Frederick Law Olmsted, landscape architect who helped design Central Park–-were commissioned to plan a new town. Though the community lies within the boundaries of one of the world’s most modern and populous cities, it has retained much of its co-operative, idyllic nature.

Find out more about this unique community

History, Manhattan, Urban Design, Video

manhattan island before development, manhattan historic image, manahatta project

Many of you probably recognize the image above, but what you may not know is that creating it required far more than a bit of Photoshop magic. The work of Wildlife Conservation Society ecologist Eric Sanderson, this incredible photo is a true-to-life depiction of what once grew on the island of Manhattan before it was all paved over. By using an 18th-century map, a GPS and reams of data, Sanderson has recreated, block by block, the ecology of Manhattan in the early 17th century. “We’re trying to discover what Henry Hudson would have seen on the afternoon of September 12, 1609 when he sailed into New York Harbor,” says Sanderson.

Watch his riveting TED talk on the ‘Mannahatta Project‘ ahead and see what used to make up areas like Columbia University, Greenwich Village, and even Times Square at the time of the American Revolution. You’ll certainly look at what remains from our city’s verdant, hilly and marshy past in a whole new way.

Watch the video here

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Architecture, Features, History, Stuyvesant Town

Towers in the Park: Le Corbusier’s Influence in NYC

By Dana Schulz, Wed, November 19, 2014

le corbusier nyc

Stuyvesant Town Oval via Marianne O’Leary via photopin cc

Any architecture history student or design nerd knows about Le Corbusier (1887-1965), one of the founders of modern architecture and a truly one-of-a-kind urban planner. For those of you who aren’t as familiar with Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris (his given name; he was French-Swiss), one of his most noteworthy urban ideas was concept of “towers in the park.” Part of his Contemporary City plan (and later Radiant City plan) to house three million inhabitants as a way to deal with overcrowding and slums, towers in the park were skyscrapers set in large, rectangular tracts of lands with open space between the buildings.

Whether they were consciously influenced by Le Corbusier or not, many projects in New York City mimic his vision of towers in the park, and we’ve decided to take a look at the most well known of this architectural crop, as well as some other ways the famous architect left his mark on NYC.

Take a look at NYC’s towers in the park

Architecture, Events, History, Landscape Architecture

the lowline park, the lowline historic

Ever since architects James Ramsey and Dan Barasch announced their plan to turn a forgotten trolley terminal below Delancey Street into an underground park, design enthusiasts, urban planners, locals, celebs, and, well, just about everyone who’s caught wind of it has been waiting in anticipation for what’s to come. The push to make this cool concept a reality continues on strong, even four years after the first unveiling (not that long when you consider that the High Line Park was a 15-year-long project!), and next Wednesday, November 12th at 6:30PM, the Lowline creators will be hosting a brand new event that will give New Yorkers the chance to discover the history of the former subterranean streetcar station built in 1908 and abandoned in 1948. The park’s creators have partnered with historic preservation researchers at Higgins Quasebarth to present their latest research, findings and the science behind the Lowline at a FREE public talk at the Tenement Museum at 103 Orchard Street.

Space is limited and is first-come, first-served, so get there early! And if you can’t swing by the museum you can also watch or listen to the talk remotely.

History, Union Square

tammany hall update, bksk architects

The landmarked Tammany Hall at 44 Union Square East could be getting a modern makeover in the form of a restored facade, brand new storefront, 27,000 square feet of office space, and, most notably, a two-story glass dome topper that would bring the height of the building up to 85 feet. BKSK Architects presented their plans to gut and revamp the historic building this week to the Community Board 5’s Landmarks Committee. And though no one could argue with the design’s glassy allure, board members were otherwise not all that thrilled.

Find out more here

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Features, History

Peter Stuyvesant, Stuyvesant Square

Monument to Peter Stuyvesant in Stuyvesant Square via edenpictures via photopin

A few quick facts from New York City history 101: The island of Manhattan was originally settled by the Dutch, and therefore officially named New Amsterdam in 1625. It was part of the larger settlement of New Netherland. Pieter, or Petrus, Stuyvesant (we know him today as Peter) was the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded to the English in 1664. His work greatly influenced the city’s expansion northward from the southern tip, and he was responsible for many major historic events, such as the erection of a protective wall on what is today Wall Street and the creation of a canal on today’s Broad Street and Broadway.

Now that it’s November–the month when the city celebrates its Dutch heritage through 5 Dutch Days–we decided to take a look at the old stomping ground of General Stuyvesant, as well as his lasting legacy in the city today.

Read about Peter Stuyvesant’s NYC

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