History

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Battery Park City, Features, Financial District, History

Happy Birthday Lady Liberty! She Turns 128 Today

By Rebecca Paul, Tue, October 28, 2014

statue of liberty

Every day Lady Liberty stands tall holding high her torch in celebration of our nation’s freedom. Since today is Miss Liberty’s 128th birthday, we thought it would only be appropriate to take some time out of our busy schedules to return the favor. Join us for a brief look back at some of Miss Liberty’s most notable moments throughout history. Happy birthday Lady Liberty, and here we go!

Fun facts on Miss Liberty here

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Architecture, Features, History

potter building

Image © NewYorkitecture

Glazed terra cotta (a clay-based ceramic) became a popular architectural material in the United States between the late 1800’s and 1930’s thanks to being sturdy, relatively inexpensive, fireproof, and easily molded into ornamented detail. Plus, it was easy to make it look like granite or limestone, much more expensive materials.

Terra cotta really took off when some of Chicago and New York’s great architects, Cass Gilbert, Louis Sullivan, and Daniel H. Burnham, incorporated the material in to their most famous works such as the Woolworth Building, Bayard-Condict Building, and Flatiron Building, respectively. Additionally, Rafael Guastavino adorned many of the great Beaux-Arts masterpieces with his famous terra cotta tiled vaults.

There are countless buildings in New York City that owe their elegance to glazed terra cotta, and we’ve put together a list of some of our favorites.

Explore terra cotta in NYC

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Features, Financial District, History

cass gilbert sculpture, cass gilbert woolworth building, cass gilbert sculptures, woolworth building sculptures, faces of the woolworth building

The 101-year old Woolworth Building has been in the news quite a bit lately, especially since it was first announced that the top 30 floors would be turned into 34 apartments; one of which is a nine-story penthouse is expected to hit the market for a record $110 million. But the Woolworth has long been at the center of New York life with its storied past and lofty 792-foot height.

It cost $13.5 million to erect the tower in 1913, and the building was the world’s tallest when it first debuted. Though a number—50 to be exact—have surpassed it in height, the Woolworth Building has remained one of the world’s most admired for its detailed and compelling ornamentation. Like other prestigious companies of its time, Frank W. Woolworth wanted something unforgettable and the building’s architect, Cass Gilbert, certainly delivered. The tower is filled to the brim with mosaics, stained-glass, golden embellishments and of course tons of those carved faces and figures.

See the faces of the Woolworth building

History, Manhattan, maps, Technology

Urban Layers, Morphocode, NYC mapping tool

A new mapping tool called Urban Layers lets users see almost every building still standing in Manhattan today and reveals exactly when it was built. The data goes back as far as 1765. The interactive map by Morphocode provides insight not only into the history of a specific building, but into the evolution of entire neighborhoods, too. And for New York City history fanatics like us, this user-friendly tool is definitely going to come in handy.

More on the mapping tool here

History, Polls

POLL: What Object Best Defines NYC’s History?

By Dana Schulz, Wed, October 22, 2014

If you read 6sqft’s version of “A History of New York in 101 Objects” you know that we received quite a diverse mix of responses. But there were a few items that proved to be most popular. So we want to know which of these three you think is THE object that defines New York City.

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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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