At the platform of the Times Square-Grand Central shuttle, a train track is hidden in plain sight. At both ends of the two-station line, tracks are numbered 1, 3 and 4, with no Track 2 to be found. As the New York Times explained, Track 2 once ran in its appropriate spot, between Tracks 1 and 3, but was taken out of operation nearly 100 years ago. After an attempt to expand the original 1904 line turned to major confusion for commuters, transit officials covered Track 2 with wooden flooring to make it easier for New Yorkers to walk to the new tracks.
Image courtesy of New York by Gaslight via Ephemeral New York
Before cat sanctuaries existed in New York City, one woman, in particular, may have been responsible for saving many kittens from the harshness of 19th-century city life. In the 1870s, a woman named Rosalie Goodman lived in a run-down home on Division Street on the Lower East Side. While she rented out most of the home’s bedrooms to tenants, she left two rooms for her family and her roughly 50 cats (h/t Ephemeral New York). In an article from 1878, the New York Tribune wrote, “Lying in the closets, on the tables, and under the stove, were cats of all descriptions. Some had broken limbs or missing eyes, the result probably of prowling around at night.”
Photo courtesy of James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Forty-six years before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech during the March on Washington, nearly 10,000 African-Americans silently marched down Fifth Avenue to protest racial violence in the United States. Organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Silent Protest Parade occurred on Saturday, July 28, 1917, and became the first mass civil rights demonstration of its kind. Protesters walked from 55th and 59th Streets to Madison Square, without so much as a whisper (h/t Hyperallergic).
Automat by Berenice Abbott, 1936
In the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s Automats were a New York City dining staple for a hard-working lunch crowd, a modernist icon for a boundless machine-age future. At their height there were over three dozen in the city, serving 800,000 people a day. And nearly everyone who actually experienced Automats in their heyday says the same thing: They never forgot the thrill of being a kid at the Automat.
Created by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart in Philadelphia in 1902, coin-operated Automats were lovingly-designed Art Deco temples to modern efficiency. Sleek steel and glass vending machine grids displayed sandwiches and main dishes as well as desserts and sides, each in their own little boxes, square and even, clean and well-lit. You put a coin in the slot, opened the door and removed your food—which was reportedly quite good, as the founders took terrific pride in their craft.
It can be easy to forget that it’s Veterans Day since most offices and schools remain open and New York City’s veterans represent only about 2.6 percent of the total population. But it’s quite an important day, and the city’s Veterans Day Parade, known as “America’s Parade,” is the perfect way to honor our servicemen and women; it’s the country’s largest event marking the holiday. Like most events in New York City, the parade has a history all its own, so 6sqft decided to explore that a bit further as our way of saying thank you to the brave veterans who have fought for our freedom.
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.
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.
- NY Daily News announces the launch of the 7th annual Governors Island Art Fair where “100 artists fill 100 rooms in the island’s former military barracks with their paintings, video installations, sculptures and photography.”
- I Quant NYC maps out where you can find the 25 winning street vendors of the 10th annual Vendy Awards. Time to grub on!
- Supposedly in 1824 it was proposed to saw off part of Manhattan to keep it from sinking. Read the craziness on Untapped Cities.
- Touchy subject, but why is Brooklyn part of New York anyway? Tremr tells the story of The Great Mistake of 1898.
- Climbing into bed – literally. Designboom reports that in celebration of IKEA’s Clermont-Ferrand store in France, they’ve created a climbable apartment wall.
Images: Craffle food truck via their Facebook page; IKEA climbable apartment via Designboom
- Avoid Sketchy Areas with This New App: You know that weird vibe you get when walking down a shady street? Now there’s to help you navigate those mixed emotions! Crains reports that SketchFactor, launched yesterday for iPhones, uses crowdsourced tips to warn users of areas that are less-than-desirable.
- How Rooftops Went from Servant Quarters to a Social Venue: Let us guess, you’re headed to happy hour tonight at a rooftop bar? CityLab reminds us that only 140 years ago the only things up on roofs were wet laundry and servants.
- Future Plans for Phase 2 of the Second Ave Train Includes “Rider Enhancements”: Phase 1 will be completed in 2016; Phase 2, um, TBD. NYDN tells us that MTA has proposed plans for “countdown clocks on lettered subway lines and a swipe-less replacement of the MetroCard fare-payment system.”
- A Refrigerator That Doesn’t Use Electricity: Inhabitat features a clay refrigerator that doesn’t need energy to keep food cold which makes this invention perfect for people who live in rural areas were electricity is scarce.
Images: Copyright Patrick Cashin for MTA courtesy of NYDN (left); MittiCool Refrigerator courtesy of Inhabitat (right)