The distinctive footprint that disrupts Manhattan’s grid west of Broadway between 155th and 158th Streets – the Audubon Park Historic District – did not come about by accident or from the demands of local topography. It unfolded from careful planning and alliances among like-minded property owners, whose social and political connections ensured that when progress swept up Manhattan’s west side, they would benefit.
As a result, Riverside Drive splits at 155th Street where its 1911 branch snakes across the grid to 158th Street while its 1928 branch pushes straight up the river. At the same time, Edward M. Morgan Place – a one-block remnant of the earlier Boulevard Lafayette – slices across Audubon Park’s eastern side, severing a corner from what was once a geographically unified suburban enclave. Continue reading
It was Saturday, January 26, 1895, and throngs of mourners were gathered at the Church of the Incarnation in Manhattan for the funeral of one of America’s most prominent doctors.
Dr. Alfred Lebbeus Loomis, who had revolutionized the way tuberculosis was treated in this country, had died on January 23rd, just two days after his own personal physician had ordered him confined to bed because of a spiking fever. Dr. Loomis, diagnosed with tuberculosis some thirty years earlier, had contracted pneumonia, and would never recover. Continue reading
There are several claimants to the title of New York’s most famous nurse. That distinction probably can be laid at the feet of Long Island native Walt Whitman, though it was not his nursing skills during the Civil War that garnered him his fame. Some might argue it is the still not positively identified nurse who was photographed in Times Square celebrating the surrender of Japan in 1945 through a passionate kiss from a sailor. Again, though, it was not her skills as a nurse that earned her recognition. Another contender was Mary Breckinridge, whose Frontier Nursing Service brought healthcare to poor rural America. While her fame came about as a result of her nursing, she was born in Tennessee and gained her fame in Kentucky, only acquiring her nursing education in New York.
I happen to believe the title of New York’s most famous nurse belongs to Lillian Wald. Though born in Cincinnati, her family brought her to New York as a girl. She would spend the rest of her life there, gaining fame for her work in bringing healthcare to the poorest of New York’s immigrant population. Even after her death in 1940 her impact on New York continued to be felt, and her legacy lives on to this day. Continue reading
The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden will host a lunchtime lecture about James Stuart and other travelers to New York City, this Friday, January 9th at 12:30 pm.
James Stuart was a guest at the Mount Vernon Hotel during his stay in New York City in 1833. His travel diary attracted considerable attention for the generally positive reviews he offered on American society compared with his British contemporaries. Continue reading
There is a neighborhood in Manhattan that some of its old timers call “España Chica” – Little Spain. From the late 19th century to the present time it served as the social and cultural nerve center of Spanish immigrants who settled in New York City.
Little Spain sits just above the West Village, mostly along West 14th Street, but the casual non-Spanish pedestrian would hardly know they were in a Spanish ethnic enclave. If this stroller were a vexillologist (or a fan of the Real Madrid Soccer team) she would no doubt know that the flag hanging in front of the nondescript brownstone at 239 West 14th Street, home of the Spanish Benevolent Society, was that of Spain. Continue reading
Every night from September through December in 2015, from 7:00 pm to midnight, Battery Park in Lower Manhattan will be transformed into a living open-air light exhibition dubbed “Origins – Light on New York’s Founders”.
A new video about the event was recently released and features Henry Hudson, Petrus Stuyvesant, Manuel, Catalina Tricot, Asser Levy and Griet Reyniers. Continue reading
The Lower Manhattan Historical Society, the Sons of the Revolution of the State of New York, and the Manhattan Borough President have announced a number of events to celebrate Evacuation Day — November 25, 1783 – the day the British left New York City finally ending the American Revolution.
On that day George Washington’s troops marched down Broadway to Bowling Green Park, and the American flag was raised over the City for the first time since the City had fallen to the English in 1776. There was an elaborate dinner with Governor George Clinton and Washington and many of his officers at Fraunces Tavern where there were thirteen toasts to the new government. Continue reading
Taming Manhattan: Environmental Battles in the Antebellum City (Harvard Univ. Press, 2014) details the environmental history of the city of New York in the years before and during the Civil War, when pigs roamed the streets and cows foraged in the Battery.
On Tuesday, November 25th, at an event at NYU, author Catherine McNeur will discuss nineteenth-century New York City’s long forgotten shantytowns, the people living in the communities, and how outsiders viewed the architecture and communities developing on the metropolitan periphery. Continue reading
Long time readers of my posts may recall the importance of Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl.” Her explanation of how she originated the idea for the corporate merger is a classic expression of the serendipity of the unexpected juxtaposition leading to thinking.
The eureka moment occurs not when one expects it but when things click in one’s mind. That’s why I enjoy thumbing through a newspaper rather than simply extracting predetermined information from the web – you never know what connections will be made…nor do the editors of the newspaper who are examining each article in isolation. Continue reading
The 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
Just 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
After 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
With 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
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
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
The 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
Over 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
The 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
A 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
I 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.