History

Art, Brooklyn, History, photography

Dinanda Nooney, NYPL Digital Gallery

Mother and daughter in Flatbush

An online gallery from the New York Public Library provides a stunning glimpse into domestic life in Brooklyn in the 1970s, courtesy of photographer Dinanda Nooney, who traveled through the borough from January 1978 to April 1979, capturing locals in their homes and asking them to then suggest other subjects. The black-and-white photos range from everyday scenes of Brooklynites to the residence of a local celebrity biker to the childhood home of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Take a look at Dinanda Nooney’s photos here

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Features, Historic Homes, History, Upper East Side

Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion, 2 East 79th Street, Ukrainian Institute of America

Earlier this week, the Ukrainian community rang in the new year, so we thought it appropriate to take a look at one of the city’s largest centers of Ukrainian-American life.

Located at 2 East 79th Street at the corner of Fifth Avenue, the Fletcher-Sinclair mansion was built in 1897 by famed architect Charles Pierrepont Henry Gilbert (C. P. H. Gilbert) as a single-family home for Isaac D. Fletcher, a banker, broker, and railroad investor. Today, the French Gothic masterpiece houses the Ukrainian Institute of America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art, music and literature of Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora. But how did this massive home become home to the Institute?

Find out here

History, maps, Urban Design

Mega-Manhattan, T. Kennard Thomson

Part of the proposal, “A Really Greater New York”, that shows the East River infill and southern Manhattan peninsula

The East River may not be the most beautiful body of water we’ve ever witnessed, but that certainly doesn’t mean we’d like to see it paved over. That’s exactly what T. Kennard Thomson, an engineer and planner, proposed in 1911, hoping to create a mega-Manhattan. Plus, he wanted to add a long hunk of infill at the southern tip of Manhattan, creating a new peninsula bolstered by Governor’s Island, add more new land in the Hudson between Bayonne and Manhattan, and relocated the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Let’s take a closer look at this ambitious, but never realized, plan

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Features, History, Transportation

Via aurélien. via photopin cc

Broadway is arguably the most famous street in New York City. It’s synonymous with the Theater District; it runs from the southern tip of Manhattan all the way up to Westchester County; and it’s the oldest north-south thoroughfare in NYC. While we might not all know these fun facts about the street, we undoubtedly know a thing or two about Broadway and its nonconformity to the street grid. But did you know there’s also a West Broadway in Tribeca/Soho and an East Broadway on the Lower East Side/Chinatown? They’re not extensions of Broadway proper, so how did they receive their monikers?

Find out about the Broadway conundrum here

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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