Tag Archives: Manhattan

Lecture: NYC Carnegie and Branch Libraries History


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Untitled1The Historic District Council of New York City will present a lecture, “The History and Endurance of New York City’s Carnegie and Branch Libraries”, by Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 5:30 pm at the Yorkville Branch of the New York Public Library (the first Carnegie Library built in New York City), 222 East 79th Street (between Second & Third Avenues).

In 1899, industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated the funds which would build 67 architecturally distinctive libraries in the five boroughs between 1901 and 1923. These buildings, of which 54 still function today as libraries, have been community landmarks ever since. Together with the more recently built branch libraries, and the famous main branches, they make up the three library systems that serve the dynamic population of New York City. Continue reading

Ottilia Beha: An Extraordinary NYC Educator


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OttiliaBehaclassJust a few months after losing a re-election bid as county school commissioner, Ottilia Beha accepted a position in New York City, where she began teaching in 1903. By 1909, she had taught at several public schools in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, and had served as assistant principal at two facilities, gaining valuable experience.

In fall of that year, she was among 258 teachers to take the licensing exam for elementary school principal. Ottilia finished at the top of the group, leading to a promotion as principal of a Brooklyn school with 800 students and a staff of 19 employees. Continue reading

NYC Historic Districts Council Opposes Frick Expansion


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Frick Expansion planAfter many thoughtful meetings and two site visits to The Frick over several months, the Historic Districts Council has determined that we cannot support the proposed institutional expansion at the individually landmarked Frick. Our thoughts are outlined in our statement below:

In a city of superlatives, The Frick is unique. One of the last remaining Millionaire’s Row mansions of the Gilded Age, The Frick residence was designed from the beginning to become a museum. Henry Clay Frick stipulated in his will that his home become “a public gallery of art to which the entire public shall forever have access…”and to this end, a separate Board of Directors for his art collection was established after his death in 1920. After the death of Mr. Frick’s wife Adelaide in 1931, architect John Russell Pope was commissioned to architecturally guide the mansion’s transition to a museum (described in its 1973 designation report as “sensitive architectural blendings of alterations and additions with the original mansion”).  From its beginnings, The Frick has been a thoughtful, considered place. Continue reading

Authentic Moments at the Waldorf Archival Exhibition


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Waldorf=Astori 2 hi resWith this week’s news that the historic Waldorf Astoria hotel has been sold, and in celebration of New York Archive Week, the hotel’s archivist Erin Allsop will offer Authentic Moments at the Waldorf – An Archival Exhibition this Friday, October 10th from 10 am to 4 pm in Sir Harry’s Lounge, located off of the hotel’s main lobby.

The interactive exhibition will showcase some of the most “Authentic Waldorf Moments” over the last century. This event will feature unique items from the Waldorf Astoria archive such as photographs, original menus, correspondence, advertisements, an original brick from the hotel’s construction in 1931, an original uniform, and video clips from the archives website. Continue reading

N-Y Historical Society To Open 1914 Time Capsule


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unnamed(26)In 1914, a time capsule marking the tricentennial of the New Netherland Company charter was put on deposit at the New-York Historical Society by the Lower Wall Street Business Men’s Association.

It was intended to have been opened in 1974. As the opening date passed without notice, New-York Historical’s curators and historians decided to open it in 2014 to mark the quadricentennial of the New Netherland Company. Continue reading

Events Mark NYC Ties to Battles of Saratoga, Yorktown


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Trinity_Church_Cemetery_NYC_A ceremony commemorating the American victories at the battles of Saratoga and Yorktown will be held on Sunday, October 12, 2014 in Manhattan’s historic Trinity Churchyard.  The cemetery holds the bodies of General Horatio Gates, the commanding general at the Battle of Saratoga to whom a 10,000 man British force surrendered on October 17, 1777, and Alexander Hamilton, who led the charge against Redoubt 10 at the Battle of Yorktown on October 19, 1781. Both men are buried within a few yards of each other.

The ceremony will be preceded by a two hour walking tour beginning at 12:30 p.m. sponsored by Open House New York in which walking tour historian James S. Kaplan, will lead a group through sites of Revolutionary War importance in Lower Manhattan, ending at Trinity Churchyard. Continue reading

Africa Center Event, Chelsea Clinton Elected Co-Chair


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9-9-meet-the-africa-centerThe Africa Center, Africa’s Embassy to the World, will open its doors to the public for the first time on Saturday, September 20th, with an all-day “Meet The Africa Center” festival from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. A private concert performance will follow from 8:00 pm until midnight.

Once known as The Museum for African Art, The Africa Center, is located less than 20 minutes from the United Nations, at One Museum Mile, and plans to permanently open in late 2016. The Africa Center has also announced that Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, has been elected as the new co-chair of the Board of Trustees for The Africa Center. Continue reading

Remembering 9/11: Visiting the Memorial Plaza


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9-11 Memorial MuseumOver the past few weeks, I have had two occasions to visit the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. The first was at the invitation of City Wonders Tours, a tour company seeking to promote its tour.

The second was following the memorial service to Alexander Hamilton by the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society at nearby Trinity Church, the final stop of the City Wonders tour. The following comments are based on these visits. Continue reading

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum Names New Director


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Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and GardenThe Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden at 421 East 61st Street in Manhattan has announced the promotion of Acting Director Terri Daly to Museum Director.

A graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Daly holds an M.B.A. from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University. She joined the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden in 2003 and has held positions as Interpreter, Educator, and most recently Marketing Manager. Continue reading

Commission Approves NYC Rooftop Additions


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View of the Hudson from inside the Apthorp open air north pergolaA revised proposal for rooftop additions to the Apthorp was approved unanimously on August 12, 2014, by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The Apthorp is a NYC Individual Landmark, designed by architects Clinton & Russell and completed in 1908, and occupies a full city block between Broadway and West End Avenue and West 78th and 79th Streets.

The proposal was the third iteration of a plan first heard at LPC Public Hearing in November, 2013, which drew palpable opposition from elected officials, noted architects, community groups, neighbors and Apthorp residents. Continue reading

NYS History Education: A View From the Street


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Charging_Bull_statueI recently returned from the 35th annual conference on New York State History in Poughkeepsie, which I attended for the first time. I understand this was the largest convocation of history professionals in New York State, and that the attendance at this conference was the highest ever. As my perspective and background is perhaps slightly different from most attendees at the conference, I feel it appropriate to provide certain observations.

Unfortunately, while others at the conference were somewhat more upbeat, my perception is that for the reasons set forth below there is at all levels an appalling lack of knowledge about critical elements of the history of New York State, and that we as a society suffer from this lack of knowledge every day. While I believe there are individuals in the history community who are in good faith seeking to address this problem, I am not sure that the efforts are close to adequate.

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Manhattan Classis: New York City’s Prewar Apartments


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Manhattan ClassicThe Dakota. The Apthorp. The San Remo. The names of these legendary New York apartment buildings evoke images of marble-lined lobbies, uniformed doormen, and sunlit penthouses with sweeping Central Park views. Built from the 1880s through 1930s, classic prewar apartments were designed to lure townhouse dwellers reluctant to share a roof with other families.

Billed as private mansions in the sky, they promised a charmed Manhattan lifestyle of elegance and luxury. A new large format book, Manhattan Classic: New York’s Finest Prewar Apartments (Princeton Architectural Press, 2014) takes readers on a lavishly illustrated guided tour of eighty-five of the most coveted buildings in New York. Continue reading

Historical July 4th Festival Being Planned in Manhattan


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Tammany-Society-Celebrating-The-4th-Of-July,-1812,-1869Organizations with deep roots in Lower Manhattan have come together to once again bring the celebration of July 4th to Lower Manhattan. Their efforts reflect Founding Father John Adam’s original admonition back in 1776 that the day of our independence be celebrated forever more in ways that will appeal to all Americans.

More than two hundred years ago Independence Day celebrations in Lower Manhattan helped give rise to the American government. More than a hundred years ago July 4th celebrations were the vehicle by which thousands of new immigrants to America learned about this country and its history. This year, the July 4th Festival Committee, a coalition of institutions, individuals, and organizations with an interest in Lower Manhattan and its history, intends to revive the American spirit by returning to Lower Manhattan’s roots with patriot celebrations. Continue reading

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum’s 75th Anniversary Event


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Mount Vernon Hotel MuseumRescuing the Past in New York City opened May 1, 2014, at The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden and will remain on view until September 7, 2014.

In celebration of the Museum’s 75th anniversary, this exhibition highlights the commitment of heritage societies, like the Colonial Dames of America, to historic preservation, and honors the dedication of the Colonial Dames to the rescue and restoration of the Museum building, culminating in its opening to the public to coincide with the 1939 World’s Fair. Continue reading

Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark


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Empire State Building HistorySince its publication in 1995, John Tauranac’s The Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark, focused on the inception and construction of the building, has stood as the most comprehensive account of the structure.

Moreover, it is far more than a work in architectural history; Tauranac tells a larger story of the politics of urban development in and through the interwar years. In a new epilogue to the Cornell University Press edition (2014), Tauranac highlights the continuing resonance and influence of the Empire State Building in the rapidly changing post-9/11 cityscape. Continue reading

On Park Avenue, A Preservation Declaration of ‘No Style’


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1010-Park-Avenue-1920s_NYPL-300x287On Tuesday, April 29th, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to designate the Park Avenue Historic District as the city’s 111th historic district.

I am thrilled about this designation and is especially thankful for the LPC’s swift action on this item. However, the commissioners’ deliberate decision to specify the Park Avenue Christian Center’s rectory and parish house as “no style” is confusing. When you think of a place with “no style”, Park Avenue is not what usually comes to mind. Continue reading

Fighting Westway:
The Regulatory War That Transformed NYC


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Fighting Westway NYC DevelopmentFrom 1971 to 1985, battles raged over Westway, a multibillion-dollar highway, development, and park project slated for construction New York City. It would have projected far into the Hudson River, including massive new landfill extending several miles along Manhattan’s Lower West Side.

The most expensive highway project ever proposed, Westway also provoked one of the highest stakes legal battles of its day, the subject of Fighting Westway: Environmental Law, Citizen Activism, and the Regulatory War that Transformed New York City (Cornell University Press, 2014), by William W. Buzbee. Continue reading

John Jay Manhattan Walking Tour May 3rd


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John Jay (Gilbert Stuart portrait)On May 3, 2014, John Jay Homestead State Historic Site in Katonah, N.Y. will sponsor a walk through lower Manhattan titled John Jay’s Not-So-Big City.  The walking tour will trace John Jay’s haunts in New York in the late 18th century.

Founding Father John Jay, New York’s second Governor and America’s first Chief Justice, was born and educated in New York City, and spent much of his life there. The walking tour will trace his haunts, visiting the locations of the places where he lived and worked as one of New York’s leading lawyers and politicians, as well as U.S. Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Chief Justice of the United States, and Governor of New York. The tour will recall the time when New York was the capitol city of a young republic, and present a reminder of how the geography and architecture of Manhattan Island have changed since the arrival of the first European settlers in the 17th century. Continue reading

East Side Stories:
Plays About the History of the Lower East Side


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MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe OBIE Award winning Metropolitan Playhouse will present the fifth annual East Village Theater Festival, a three-week celebration of the life and lore of New York City’s East Village.

The festival features four different evenings of new plays and solo-performances, as well as the work of local artists, and a panel discussion on the neighborhood’s changing identity. Continue reading

Ladies’ Mile Historic District: Plan Will Demolish Buildings


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unnamed(10)Today, the owner of 51 and 53 West 19th Street in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District in New York City will request the Landmarks Preservation Commission for permission to demolish two buildings and to construct a 14-story building in their place. Unfortunately, this is not an April’s Fool joke.

51 and 53 West 19th Street are five-story, residential buildings built in 1854 which were converted to commercial and/or manufacturing use in the 1920s. Such a history is very much in keeping with the Ladies’ Mile Historic District. In fact, the designation report lists “converted dwellings” as a building type in the district along with “residential construction”, “office buildings”, “store and loft buildings”, and “retail stores/department stores.” The report points out that after World War I, the shopping district had moved north and the area’s focus shifted to manufacturing. The 1916 zoning resolution had prohibited the construction of tall buildings on mid-block sites, and so instead the surviving residential buildings were converted. Converted dwellings are obviously a part of the fabric of the district, and these two nicely-designed buildings are good examples of this typology. Continue reading