“The area seen in these views was later filled with sand from the Bay and the new circumferential highway.” 1930; via NYPL
In the curve of Brooklyn between the Narrows and the borough’s southwestern edge at Sea Gate, there is a lesser loved body of water called Gravesend Bay. The boundary of what was once Gravesend Town and is now simply Gravesend, among other nabes, was along a wetland of sandhill dunes before it became an oil-saturated trash marsh. Now, it’s home to a relatively scenic portion of the Belt Parkway, where the Verrazano Bridge emerges from around the bend or Brooklyn’s tip juts into your vision, depending on your direction.
Dated photos from the New York Public Library reveal–as old New York photos tend to– a Bay apart. In part it’s likely because the smells and oil sheens of today’s bay can’t be experienced in these vintage pics. The unimpeded openness of the water, kept from humans only by what appears to be a single giant tube, however, clearly belongs to a Brooklyn long past.
See the Bay back in time
Aerial view of the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair; via NYPL
On April 30, 1939, the New York World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. The fair, which spread across 1,200 acres, commemorated the 150th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration in Lower Manhattan, and had a central theme of “Building the World of Tomorrow.” Construction of the fair began in 1936, which involved turning the Corona city dump and tidal swamp into the fairgrounds. After the land was cleared, hundreds of architects, designers, engineers and construction workers came together to transform the dump into the site for the World’s Fair.
The “Trylon”, a 700-foot obelisk, and the “Perisphere,” a 200-foot globe, stood in the center of the fairgrounds, soon becoming permanent symbols of the Fair. Many American corporations, including the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, the Borden Company and General Motors, participated, as a way to introduce fairgoers to new products. With close to 60 nations and 33 U.S. states participating, and its own subway line, the 1939 World’s Fair remains one of the largest, and most iconic, international fairs in history. Ahead, check out some of the photos of the historic World’s Fair, found in the New York Public Library’s extensive collection.
Go back in time
Image by Glynnis Ritchie via flickr
For many book lovers, there is nothing more exciting than the idea of a home library. What most of the city’s book lovers don’t know is that until recently, there was an affordable way to fulfill the dream of a home library—at least for book lovers who also happened to be handy with tools.
In the early to mid twentieth century, the majority of the city’s libraries had live-in superintendents. Like the superintendents who still live in many of the city’s residential buildings, these caretakers both worked and lived in the buildings for which they were responsible. This meant that for decades, behind the stacks, meals were cooked, baths and showers were taken, and bedtime stories were read. And yes, families living in the city’s libraries typically did have access to the stacks at night—an added bonus if they happened to need a new bedtime book after hours.
FInd out more about these apartments and the people who lived in them
, Fri, September 15, 2017
The East Village in the 1980s
From Broadway to Bowery, 1980s New York City was a very different place compared to today’s manicured metropolis. Courtesy of Maps Mania, the 80s.NYC street map picks up where the Finance Department of New York City left off. In the mid ‘80s the bureau photographed every single building in the five boroughs in order to accurately assess building taxes and estimate property taxes. Brandon Liu and Jeremy Lechtzin have finessed this trove of photographic information into a nifty map that allows users to travel the city’s streets in the bad old 1980s with a map-based street view for an easy-to-browse glimpse of the streetscape 30 years ago. You can browse by location by clicking anywhere on the map for vintage street views on that spot, or type in an address. For more context there are curated “stories” that provide historical background where it’s available (and interesting).
Check out the map
The New York Public Library has a challenge for all history gurus and NYC experts: Place unlabeled historic photos of the city at the correct location on a map. The new website called Surveyor crowdsources geotags of the NYPL’s photo collections with the goal of creating a digital database to make it easier to find images by the location they were taken. While some photos come with helpful titles that describe the location or the address, others only include the neighborhood or vague details. Since algorithms and search engines won’t be able to pick up locations of these old photos, the NYPL is seeking help from the public.
Get more info
6sqft previously reported on the “time machine” map function that allowed users to navigate overlaid maps from 1600 to the present to see what used to occupy our favorite present-day places. Now, the New York Public Library has released the Space/Time Directory, a “digital time-travel service” that puts the library’s map collection–including more than 8,000 maps and 40,000 geo-referenced photos–to work along with geospatial tools to allow users to see the city’s development happen over more than a century, all in one convenient place. Hyperallergic reports that the project, supported by a grant from the Knight Foundation, plots 5,000 digitized street maps across the five boroughs, organized by decade from 1850 to 1950.
Find out more
Instead of hitting the bars this Friday night, check out the “Library After Hours” event at the main branch of the New York Public Library. On select Fridays, the landmarked library hosts a party after closing that lets guests mingle with food and drinks, music, and a behind-the-scenes look at some of their collections. This Friday, March 31st, the library is holding the event, “Women Marching Through History,” to coincide with the last day of Women’s History Month, where guests can admire feminist manuscripts, rare books, photographs, artwork, and films as well as participate in an interactive project to record one’s own story about living through this time in women’s history.
Find out more here
Toilet Paper Paradise by Plamen Pletkov
In a city where hundreds of interesting events occur each week, it can be hard to pick and choose your way to a fulfilling life. Ahead Art Nerd founder Lori Zimmer shares her top picks for 6sqft readers!
If you haven’t been to the Cadillac House–the cultural venue by the car company–now is the time to check it out, as two artists take over the space with room-sized installations perfect for Instragramming. Mo Scarpelli’s compelling documentary about journalists in Afghanistan plays at St. Bartholomew’s Church, and Amelie plays at Videology. Get an insider’s tour of the historic New Yorker Hotel, then stay after hours at the gorgeous New York Public Library. The famed Salmagundi Club will stay open all night for a draw-a-thon, and the Bronx Museum of the Arts hosts another great Gala at the Conrad. Finally, Beau Stanton transforms his artwork into a special stop-motion film at Brilliant Champions.
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After the divisive presidential campaign and the many other tumultuous events of 2016, the New York Public Library this week unveiled a campaign that aims to bring people together through a shared love of reading. “It’s a therapeutic way to be more open with each other around how they’re feeling and how they’re affected to help us move on,” said Christopher Platt, chief branch officer of the NYPL. Readers are encouraged to share their books via social media outlets using #ReadersUnite. The response so far has been enormous, with public libraries and school libraries, book lovers, bookstores and authors sharing their books du jour.
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Image © Luigi Rocca/Arnott Gallery
In a city where hundreds of interesting happenings occur each week, it can be hard to pick and choose your way to a fulfilling life. Art Nerd‘s philosophy is a combination of observation, participation, education and of course a party to create the ultimate well-rounded week. Jump ahead for Art Nerd founder Lori Zimmer’s top picks for 6sqft readers!
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to compose a Wikipedia entry, do it in style this week at the Guggenheim’s #guggathon while helping beef up the entries on Chinese artists. If you’re feeling down on the current state of affairs, indulge in Luigi Rocca’s hyperrealistic acrylic paintings that honor the honest beauty of roadside Americana, or check out the fresh works from the artists in residence at the New York Studio Residency Program. Celebrate the beauty of the beard (yes, seriously) at Atlantic Gallery, and take a look at wearable art at Tee Time by Choice Royce. If lectures are your thing, head to the historic Loews Theater for a day of TEDx Jersey City, or pop over to the Mid-Manhattan Library for an artist talk with Paul Sunday. Finally, experience the media mogul Kippy Winston, in his talk-show style lecture that looks at current issues through an artistic lens.
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