Image of the first Christmas tree in City Hall park in 1913; via Library of Congress
In 1912, the nation’s first public Christmas tree went up in Madison Square Park and sparked a new trend that would soon spread to parks across the city and beyond. The following year, acting Mayor Ardolph Kline initiated a similar tradition when he asked a young boy to help him light a Christmas tree in City Hall Park. By 1934, tree lighting celebrations became a citywide effort, with the Parks Department putting up 14 fifty-foot Norway Spruce trees throughout the city. Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia dedicated the trees from City Hall Park and broadcasted the ceremony to sites across the city.
Photo ©AMNH/ R. Mickens
On Thursday, the week-long holiday Kwanzaa kicks off as a celebration of African American culture and heritage in the United States. From Dec. 26, through Jan. 1, New Yorkers can learn about the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba, through traditional music and dancing, kinara lighting, African folklore storytime, and a bar crawl featuring only black-owned businesses. Ahead, find the best places in NYC to celebrate Kwanzaa, from family-friendly arts and crafts and lectures at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to live performances at Harlem’s iconic Apollo Theater.
The full list, ahead
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
New Year’s Eve is one of those events where it seems all of humanity has converged upon New York City. If you fancy rubbing shoulders (or more) with at least a million of them, Times Square is your best bet. But if you’d rather enjoy a more curated, yet still public, experience, check out any of the many events happening in the city as the second decade of the millennium lurches to a close; below is just a sampling. Debauch responsibly–hindsight, as they say, is 2020.
2020, this way
Photo by Ian Hardy for Countdown Entertainment
The new year has arrived in New York City…at least in numbers. Two seven-foot-tall numerals, the “2” and “0” in 2020, are currently on display in Times Square, offering the public a chance to snap a photo with the famous digits before they are placed on top of One Times Square. The 2020 signage sits below the crystal-filled New Year’s Eve ball and will light up at midnight on December 31, marking the start of a new decade.
Photo by Sean Brady, courtesy of the Gramercy Park Block Association
It’s a Christmas Eve miracle. The gates to Gramercy Park will open to all for one hour on Dec. 24, the only time of year the public can enjoy the exclusive greenspace. The Gramercy Park Block Association on Friday confirmed to 6sqft that the private park between East 20th and East 21st Street will once again open from 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. for caroling this Christmas Eve. All other times of the year, the park is only accessible to residents with one of the 400 keys, provided to those who live in the 39 buildings surrounding the square.
What you need to know
Image by Skeez via Pixabay cc
Though all across the U.S. of A., Santa Claus and his missus appear arm in arm, NYC Santas have no time (or budget) for a wife, according to the Wall Street Journal. Several women who don Mrs. Claus outfits in a professional capacity during the winter holiday season have said that they’re not only paid about half what Santa gets–more along the lines of what an elf is paid, according to Brian Harrell, CEO of the Minneapolis-based All Time Favorites, Inc. which employs 600 “premium” Santa performers–but there’s not much call for Mrs. Claus in the city at all.
Behind every good man–at least in pay
Despite being the City That Never Sleeps, New York does close down a bit on Christmas Day, with all sorts of museums, shops, restaurants, and other businesses giving their staff a break for the holiday. But for those of us who do not celebrate or won’t be spending all of Christmas at home squabbling over politics with family, there’s still plenty to do in town, especially if you get a little creative. Here are seven great options.
Not sure what to get the New Yorker who has it all? We’ve put together a list of 20 items at every price point that will satisfy even the most jaded New Yorker. From historic prints of old New York and classic mom-and-pops to skyscraper champagne flutes and Brooklyn map coasters to some more offbeat items like a sew-your-own Jane Jacobs doll and an authentic Katz’s deli apron.
Check them all out here
Photo by @lordmaui via Unsplash
Nobody appreciates a great gift like a child, but New York City kids are a tough audience. They’ve already got the world at their feet, even if they’re not possessed of a pile of material goods. Fortunately, there are lots of options for cool presents for your favorite pint-sized architects, athletes, fashionistas and foodies as well as the Big Apple babies on your list. Check out our list below for a handful of gift ideas for New York City kids.
Great gifts for NYC kids, this way
All photos © James and Karla Murray
The city may have created additional pedestrian space around Rockefeller Center this year, but the throngs of tourists are still filling the streets around the Christmas tree and holiday windows. If you’d rather not deal with the crowds, photographers James and Karla Murray have captured the best of this year’s windows, from the magical “Frozen” themed light show at Saks Fifth Avenue to the artistic displays at Bergdorf Goodman. Ahead, see what’s on view this year and learn a bit more about what goes into creating these whimsical scenes.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!