Tag Archives: Museum of the City of New York

NYC Exhibit: Mac Conner, One of New York’s Original ‘Mad Men’


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Detail from How Do You Love Me in Womans Home Companion, 1950The Museum of the City of New York announces Mac Conner: A New York Life – the first exhibition of more than 70 original artworks by illustrator McCauley (“Mac”) Conner, one of New York’s original “Mad Men.” In the 1940s – 60s, Conner’s captivating advertising and editorial illustrations graced the pages of major magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and The Saturday Evening Post, helping shape the popular image of postwar America.

The latest in an ongoing series of exhibitions that examines the lives and influence of New Yorkers, Mac Conner: A New York Life explores one man’s prolific career in New York as the world’s media capital and the country’s publishing center in the pivotal years after World War II. The exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, January 19, 2015Continue reading

New Exhibits At Museum of the City of New York


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Jeff_liao_heroThe Museum of the City of New York has announced its Fall 2014 season, including Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao’sportrait of New York as seen through more than 40 large-scale panoramic photographs of the city’s urban landscape; an exhibition of hand-painted 1950s magazine illustrations by Mac Conner, one of New York’s original “Mad Men;” an immersive video art installation by Péter Forgácsthat appropriates home movies and travelogues made by Jewish New Yorkers during visits to Poland before World War II; and an extended viewing of City As Canvas—the first exhibition of New York graffiti art from the Martin Wong Collection. Continue reading

Stokely Carmichael: The Bronx to Freedom Summer


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Stokely CarmichaelFifty years ago, civil rights activists from across the country came together in Mississippi to fight entrenched racism and voter repression. To mark the anniversary of 1964’s Freedom Summer, the Museum of the City of New York will examine one of its key players at a talk titled Stokely Carmichael’s Journey: From the Bronx to Freedom Summer on Thursday, August 12 at 6:30 p at the museum, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, NYC. Continue reading

NYC’s Green-Wood Cemetery To Mark 175th Anniversary


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556174_502184239813956_1305110578_nWhat do artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, toy merchant Frederick A.O. Schwarz and political powerhouse William Magear “Boss” Tweed have in common?

They’re all buried in Brooklyn’s Historic Green-Wood Cemetery along with abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, musician Leonard Bernstein, industrialist Peter Cooper, composer Fred Ebb, piano manufacturer Henry Steinway, decorative master Louis Comfort Tiffany – and roughly 560,000 others – many equally famous (some infamous) and hailing from the worlds of sports, the arts, entertainment, politics, the military and industry. Continue reading

Four New Online Resources For New York History


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l-retro-computer-ads-80s-eg_largeHere’s a quick look at some of the latest New York History resources to hit the web:

The Museum of the City of New York and the South Street Seaport Museum have launched a joint “catablog” which provides online access to finding aids for their archival collections.  The archivists at both museums will continue to make more finding aids accessible via the Catablog as the collections are processed. Continue reading

New Guide: Exploring Historic Dutch New York


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Exploring Historic Dutch New York has been co-published by the Museum of the City of New York and Dover Publications (2012). The easy-to-read guide is filled with hundreds of historic facts and anecdotes about the greater New York area. Exploring Historic Dutch New York is the only travel guide and reference book currently in print that encompasses the historic Dutch elements of the former New Netherland colony in present-day New York, New Jersey and Delaware.

Edited by Gajus Scheltema and Heleen Westerhuijs with an introduction by Russell Shorto, this guide tours important sites and also serves as a cultural and historical reference. Seventeen international scholars explore topics such as Dutch art and architecture, Dutch cooking, immigration during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, furniture and antiques, and more. Color photographs and maps are included throughout the guide. Continue reading

Central Park’s Woodlands Stewardship Event Friday


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The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) and the Central Park Conservancy (CPC) will host Bridging the Nature‐Culture Divide II: Stewardship of Central Park’s Woodlands conference tomorrow, Friday, October 5, 2012, at the Museum of the City of New York (registration now open).

The one-day conference, co-curated by TCLF Founder and President Charles A. Birnbaum and CPC Associate Vice President for Planning Lane Addonizio examines the management of nature and culture in the stewardship of Central Park. The conference will feature speakers from public institutions and landscape architecture firms across the country, and follows up on the sold out, similarly themed conference held last year at the Jay Heritage Center in Rye, New York.

The conference will be followed on October 6-7 by What’s Out There Weekend New York City, featuring free expert led tours of parks and opens spaces in the city’s five boroughs (tours are free, registration is required).American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) CEUs will be available for the conference. The 843-acre Central Park, originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., and
Calvert Vaux, with a succession of additions and refinements by Samuel Parsons, Jr.,Michael Rapuano, Gilmore Clarke and others, is also host to 230 bird species, along with turtles, fish, and countless species of butterflies, dragonflies, and other insects. The Central Park woodlands are among the most historically significant designed landscapes in the country, providing valuable refuge for wildlife and New Yorkers alike. In the 1960s and 1970s, Central Park experienced an unprecedented decline, suffering from neglect and a lack of management. Litter filled its waterbodies; its Great Lawn was a great dust bowl; its woodlands were avoided, not celebrated. The Central Park Conservancy, a private, not-for-profit organization created in 1980, has skillfully and successfully reawakened, restored and maintained a world-class icon.

Nevertheless, managing a park that is both a culturally significant landscape and natural habitat is delicate; this conference specifically examines sustainability, the agendas of different constituencies, diversity, the role of people, and public education.

Creating a progression of varied landscape experiences was a primary goal of Central Park’s designers. Within the landscapes themselves, horticultural diversity was also a goal. In the Ramble, both exotic and native plants were to provide a sense of lushness and intricacy, realizing Olmsted’s intended “wild garden”effect. Neglect of the Park’s woodlands over a prolonged period resulted in a lack of horticultural and social (as well as scenic) diversity. What park stewards know is “letting nature take
its course” is not sustainable. While the woodlands serve to provide the experience of escape from urban life, they are in fact designed urban landscapes that require consistent management.

The conference features two panels addressing this stewardship dilemma; the first (the morning session) focuses on “lessons learned” by public sector stewards at Prospect Park (Brooklyn), New York Botanical Garden, and The Presidio (San Francisco); the second (afternoon session) will be comprised of landscape architects in private practice with experience in urban parks (complete list below).
Speakers and Moderators:

• Eric W. Sanderson, Senior Conservation Ecologist, Wildlife Conservation
Society (moderator)
• Christian Zimmerman, Vice President for Design & Construction, The Prospect
Park Alliance, Brooklyn, NY
• Michael Boland, Chief Planning, Projects & Programs Officer, The Presidio
Trust, San Francisco, CA
• Todd Forrest, Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living
Collections, The New York Botanical Garden
• Elizabeth K. Meyer, Associate Professor, University of Virginia, School of
Architecture, Landscape Architecture (moderator)
• Dennis McGlade, President/Partner, OLIN, Philadelphia, PA and Los Angeles,
CA
• Margie Ruddick, Margie Ruddick Landscape, Philadelphia, PA
• Keith Bowers, Biohabitats, Baltimore, MD

Registration is $150 and is available at the conference Web site.  The Central Park Conservancy is the presenting sponsor, with additional support provided by Landscape Forms and the Museum of the City of New York.

About the Central Park Conservancy

The mission of the Central Park Conservancy is to restore, manage and enhance
Central Park in partnership with the public, for the enjoyment of present and future
generations. A private, not-for-profit organization founded in 1980, the Conservancy
provides 85 percent of Central Park’s $46million park-wide expense budget and is
responsible for all basic care of the Park. Since 1980, the Conservancy has overseen
the investment of more than $650 million into Central Park. For more information on
the Conservancy, please visit centralparknyc.org.

About The Cultural Landscape Foundation
The Cultural Landscape Foundation provides people with the ability to see, understand and value landscape architecture and its practitioners, in the way many people have learned to do with buildings and their designers. Through its Web site, lectures, outreach and publishing, TCLF broadens the support and understanding for cultural landscapes nationwide to help safeguard our priceless heritage for future
generations.

Unique ‘Activist New York’ Exhibit Opens in NYC


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“Activist New York,” the inaugural exhibition in the Museum of the City of New York’s new Puffin Foundation Gallery, will examine the ways in which ordinary New Yorkers have advocated, agitated, and exercised their power to shape the city’s – and the nation’s – future. Centuries of activist efforts, representing the full spectrum of political ideologies, will be illuminated through a series of installations featuring 14 New York movements ranging from the mid-17th century to today.

The exhibition will feature historic artifacts and images from the museum’s collection as well as pieces on loan from other collections, along with interactive elements that enable visitors to explore and express their own views. For the first three weeks of the exhibition attendees will have a chance to view the original “Flushing Remonstrance,” the 1657 landmark document protesting restrictions against Quakers in New Amsterdam.

“Activist New York” begins and ends with questions of religious freedom, from the struggle for religious tolerance in Dutch New Netherland, to today’s debate over a Muslim Cultural Center near Ground Zero. In between, the exhibition examines a wide range of social movements that transformed laws and assumptions regarding race, gender, class, sexuality, economic justice, and other issues.

The Puffin Foundation Gallery is situated in a newly renovated and climate-controlled 2000 square foot south gallery on the Museum’s second floor, and named for the foundation that has supported the gallery with a gift of $3.25 million.

The exhibition unfolds through a series of 14 examples of New York activism:

1. Let Us Stay: The Struggle for Religious Tolerance in Dutch New Netherland, 1650-1664

The exhibition features the Flushing Remonstrance, one of the earliest arguments for religious liberty and tolerance in American history.

2. Beware of Foreign Influence: Nativists and Immigrants, 1830-1860

This section explores efforts to prohibit or limit immigration and contain its impact on 19 th -century New York. Nativists fought to curtail the largely Catholic immigrant community’s access to citizenship, the vote, and public office. The section also illustrates the ways Catholic New Yorkers combated nativism by establishing their own independent institutions to support their community.

3. What Has New York to Do with Slavery? 1827-1865

While New York City was a center of the abolitionist movement, it was also home to many people who sided with the Southern slave owners. This conflict was dramatically revealed in the Draft Riots of July 1863, where the issues of class and race came to a head in a harrowing, violent confrontation. The exhibition chronicles the efforts of both sides of the debate.

4. New York is the Battleground: Woman Suffrage, 1900-1920

In the early 20 th century,New York became the epicenter for organizational activity of the national woman suffrage movement, with suffragists pioneering new methods of behind-the-scenes organizing and media-savvy publicity. The installation also documents the movement against woman suffrage through anti-suffrage images and messages published by aNew York lithograph firm.

5. Houses of Welcome: The Settlement House Movement, 1890-1925

Immigrants in New York at the turn of the 20th century faced overcrowding, illness, and poverty. This section of the exhibition shows how a new type of agent for change—the settlement house worker—combated those conditions by moving into slum neighborhoods to provide instructions in parenting, health, and citizenship.

6. I Am a Working Girl! Upheaval in the Garment Trades, 1909-1915

This installation examines the events that led to reform and improvement of deplorable workplace conditions, including the 1909 “Uprising of the 20,000,” an industry-wide strike by workers affiliated with the fledgling International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, and the 1911 Triangle Waist factory fire tragedy.

7. Art for the Masses: An Activist Theater, 1930-1945

This movement looks at the politically engaged New Yorktheater groups that used their art to confront Depression-era poverty, labor exploitation, political corruption, racial tension, and the rise of Fascism and Nazism in Europe.

8. We Shall Not Be Moved:New York and Civil Rights, 1945-1964

This installation revealsNew York City’s role in the early Civil Rights struggle of the post-World War II era, from the “Boycott Jim Crow” and anti-lynching movements through the emergence of CORE and SNCC, to the Black Power era of the mid-1960s.

9. What’s Wrong with New York? Conservative Activism, 1962-1973

This segment of the exhibition looks at groups, such as “Parents and Taxpayers,” that were unhappy with a leftward drift in the city and blamed it for an increase in disorder, crime, and the swelling municipal budget. Many joined a new third party, the Conservative Party of New York, formed in 1962.

10. Stop the Wrecking Ball! Preserving Historic New York, 1955-1970

This case study shows how the loss of some of the city’s greatest cultural and architectural landmarks fed the efforts of the early historic preservation movement and eventually led to the creation of New York’s groundbreaking Landmarks Preservation Law.

11. “Gay Is Good”: Civil Rights for Gays and Lesbians, 1969-2012

This installation shows how the Stonewall Riots galvanized the modern gay rights movement in New York and led to the creation of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, ACT UP, and other organizations. The installation brings the story up to date with the successful campaign to secure the legalization of gay marriages in New York State.

12. “Don’t Move, Improve”: Reviving the South Bronx, 1970-2012

The South Bronx became an international icon of urban blight in the 1970s. This section of the exhibition examines grassroots advocacy groups, community organizations, and church congregations that took ownership of the rebuilding of their neighborhoods into livable, affordable communities.

13. Love Your Lane: Bicycle Advocacy, 1965-2011

Amid concerns about ecology, traffic congestion, and pollution, pioneering activists lobbied for changes in the traffic laws. Today, as part of the Bloomberg administration PlaNYC’s effort to build a greener, more sustainable city, bike lanes proliferate, as does agitation against for and against them, as this installation documents.

14. Park 51: 2010-2012

This section provides a detailed exploration of the controversy over the construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan, which is reminiscent of the long and turbulent saga of activism surrounding issues of religious expression in New York City.

Interactive elements throughout the exhibition provide opportunities to dig more deeply and bring the historic stories up to date. A series of touch screens present a timeline of the history of activism in the city, with more than two hundred examples ranging from slave revolts of the 18th century to the Newsboys’ Strike of 1899 to the woman behind the movement that led to New York’s 1978 “pooper scooper” law. Additional kiosks with touch screens invite visitors to explore the work of contemporary activist groups and send email messages to these groups expressing the visitors’ views on current activism. In addition, members of the general public may submit photographs of contemporary activist in the city to a photo blog housed on the Museum’s website (www.mcny.org) and carried live in the Puffin Foundation Gallery.

“Activist New York” has been organized by an exhibition team led by Sarah M. Henry, the Museum’s Deputy Director and Chief Curator. Steven H. Jaffe served as guest curator, and Christina Ziegler-McPherson as associate guest curator. The exhibition team was aided by the Puffin Foundation Gallery Advisory Committee, chaired by Peter G. Carroll, Executive Director, Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, and comprising scholars and activists Esther Cohen, Joshua Freeman, Victor Navasky, Bruno Quinson, Christopher Rhomberg, Tom Roderick, and Perry, Gladys, and Neal Rosenstein.

Photo: Picketers during a 1910 garment workers strike (Library of Congress)

The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan


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Columbia University Press has announced the publication of The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011, edited by Hilary Ballon, which includes more than 150 illustrations and a gatefold of the original plan. The book accompanies the exhibit of the same name which just opened at the Museum of the City of New York.

Laying out Manhattan’s street grid and providing a rationale for the growth of New York was the city’s first great civic enterprise, not to mention a brazenly ambitious project and major milestone in the history of city planning. The grid created the physical conditions for business and society to flourish and embodied the drive and discipline for which the city would come to be known. The Greatest Grid does more than memorialize such a visionary effort, it also serves as reference full of rare images and information.

The Greatest Grid shares the history of the Commissioners’ plan, incorporating archival photos and illustrations, primary documents and testimony, and magnificent maps with essential analysis. The text, written by leading historians of New York City, follows the grid’s initial design, implementation, and evolution, and then speaks to its enduring influence. A foldout map, accompanied by explanatory notes, reproduces the Commissioners’ original plan, and additional maps and prints chart the city’s pre-1811 irregular growth patterns and local precedent for the grid’s design.

This text describes the social, political, and intellectual figures who were instrumental in remaking early New York, not in the image of old Europe but as a reflection of other American cities and a distinct New World sensibility. The grid reaffirmed old hierarchies while creating new opportunities for power and advancement, giving rise to the multicultural, highly networked landscape New Yorkers are familiar with today.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Museum of the City of NY Reopens Research Access


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The Museum of the City of New York has reopened access to it’s collections to onsite researchers. On November 1, the Museum resumes accepting appointments from outside researchers and began offering a dedicated space for research as part of their newly renovated collection storage facilities.

To learn how to submit an application for conducting onsite research, send a request to research@mcny.org. In your request indicate the collections of interest and describe your research need. Before contacting the Museum to inquire about a research appointment, visit the Museum’s Collections Portal (collections.mcny.org) which has over 100,000 digital images of photographs, negative, prints, drawings, postcards, and maps from the Museum’s collections.

The following onsite collections will be open to research appointments:

Manuscripts & Ephemera
Manuscript and ephemera holdings augment and complement other elements of the collections and are particularly strong in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century materials. The Manuscripts include papers related to notable New Yorkers, organizations, and events from the 17th century to the present. The ephemera collections include objects such as society dinner menus, trade cards, maps, Valentines, badges, Christmas cards, and material related to public ceremonies, special events, schools, sports, the shipping trade, transportation, statues and monuments, retail trade, and the police and fire departments.

Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
The Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Collection documents the built environment of the city and its changing cultural, political, and social landscape from its earliest days to the present. Photographic holdings include collections on Berenice Abbott, Jacob Riis, and the photographic archives of Gottscho-Scheleisner, LOOK Magazine, Byron Co., and the Wurts Brothers. Drawings range from18th-century pastel portraits and mural studies to political cartoons and architectural renderings. Specific collections include the archives of the Planning Board of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the Harry T. Peters Collection of hand-colored Currier & Ives prints, and the Martin Wong Graffiti Collection.

Theater
The Theater Collection documents theatrical activity in New York City from the late 18th century to the present day. The heart of the Theater holdings is the John Golden Archive, which consists of approximately 40,000 folders, organized into files on productions, personalities, and performance spaces. The Theater Collection also holds collections on Burlesque, Circus, Minstrelsy, and Vaudeville. Files contain a wide range of material including photographs, contracts, correspondence, playbills, manuscripts, advertising materials, reviews, obituaries, clippings, sheet music, autographs, account records, prompt books, and ephemera.

The Museum also holds collections of Costumes and Textiles, Decorative Arts and Furniture, and Paintings and Sculpture; however, due to the special preparation necessary for handling these objects, access is extremely limited. For specific inquiries into these collections, email research@mcny.org

Manhattan Grid System Focus of Exhibit


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The first comprehensive exhibition to trace one of the most defining achievements in New York City’s history—the vision, planning, and implementation of Manhattan’s iconic grid system—will be on view at the Museum of the City of New York from December 5, 2011, through April 15, 2012.

The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan for Manhattan, 1811—2011 will document the development of the “Commissioners’ Plan,” which in 1811 specified numbered streets and avenues outlining equal rectangular blocks ranging from (today’s) Houston Street to 155th Street and from First Avenue to Twelfth Avenue.

The exhibition, which is organized on the occasion of the bicentennial of the plan, will elucidate, through maps, photographs, and other historic documents, this monumental infrastructure project—the city’s first such civic endeavor—which transformed New York throughout the 19th century and laid the foundation for its distinctive character.

Some 225 artifacts will be on view in the exhibition, which is organized chronologically and geographically, leading visitors from 17th-century, pre-grid New York through the planning process and the explicit 1811 Commissioners’ Plan, and from the massive and elaborate implementation of the plan to contemporary reflections on New York and visions for its future.

“The 1811 grid was a bold expression of optimism and ambition,” Susan Henshaw Jones, the Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum said. “City commissioners anticipated New York’s propulsive growth and projected that the city—still relatively small at the time and concentrated in what is now Lower Manhattan and Greenwich Village—would extend to the heights of Harlem. The 1811 plan has demonstrated remarkable longevity as well as the flexibility to adapt to two centuries of unforeseeable change, including modifications such as Broadway and Central Park. The real miracle of the plan was that it was enforced.”

The exhibition will showcase the illustrious—most notably, John Randel, Jr., who measured the grid with obsessive care. Randel was an apprentice to Simeon DeWitt, the surveyor general of New York State from 1784 to 1834. Between 1808 and 1810 Randel measured the lines of streets and avenues at right angles to each other, and recorded distances and details about the island, its features, and its inhabitants. This resulted in a manuscript map of the grid plan, which he completed by March 1811. Randel continued surveying the island from 1811 to 1817, setting marble monuments (one of which will be on view in the exhibition; there were to have been 1,800) to mark the intersections of the coming grid. Between 1818 and 1820 Randel drafted a series of 91 large-scale maps of the island, now known as the Randel Farm Maps (ten of which will be on view). An article written in the 1850s cited Randel as “one of our most accurate engineers,” further stating that his survey of New York City was done “with such a mathematical exactness as to defy an error of half an inch in ten miles.”

The commissioners’ detailed notes about the grid will also be on view in the exhibition, explaining the plan and expressing their intent to “lay out streets, roads, and public squares, of such width, extent, and direction, as to them shall seem most conducive to public good…” (From “An Act relative to Improvements, touching the laying out of Streets and roads in the City of New-York, and for other purposes. Passed April 3, 1807.” )

Other colorful figures will be highlighted, including William M. “Boss” Tweed, who implemented high-quality improvements, advanced services, and pushed forward many amenities while at the same time benefitting his associates.

Other rare and exquisitely detailed maps dating from 1776 to the present will be on view, alongside stunning archival photographs portraying the island of Manhattan throughout various stages of excavation. An extraordinary street-by-street explanation of the plan in the words of the commissioners—Gouverneur Morris, Simeon De Witt, and John Rutherfurd—will be on view as will other historic documents, plans, prints, and more.

The merits of the grid will be debated. Historians have viewed it as the emblem of democracy, with blocks that are equal and no inherently privileged sites. Historians have also praised its utility, its neat subdivisions that support real estate development. The rectangular lots of Manhattan’s grid parallel Thomas Jefferson’s national survey, which organized land sales in square-mile townships. The grid manifests Cartesian ideals of order, with streets and avenues that are numbered rather than named for trees, people, or places. Frederick Law Olmsted bemoaned its dumb utility and lack of monuments and other features. Jane Jacobs credited city streets with creating New York’s public realm. And Rem Koolhaas called the grid “the most courageous act of prediction in Western civilization: the land it divides, unoccupied; the population it describes, conjectural; the buildings it locates, phantoms; the activities it frames, nonexistent.”

The Greatest Grid will reframe ideas about New York, revealing the plan to be much more than a layout of streets and avenues. The grid provided a framework that balanced public order with private initiative. It predetermined the placement of the city’s infrastructure, including transportation services, the delivery of electricity and water, and most other interactions. Manhattan’s grid has provided a remarkably flexible framework for growth and change.

Visitors will have the opportunity to consider New York’s preparation for the future and whether or not the grid will enable the city to face 21st-century challenges. New proposals for the city, the results of a competition, will be on view in a separate, related exhibition co-sponsored by the Architectural League. The Greatest Grid will also feature “12 x 155,” a conceptual art video by artist Neil Goldberg along with other artistic responses, such as original drawings from the graphic novel City of Glass (Picador, 2004) by Paul Auster, illustrated by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli

The Greatest Grid is co-sponsored by the Manhattan Borough President’s Office.

The exhibition is accompanied by a companion book of the same title, co-published by the Museum of the City of New York and Columbia University Press. Dr. Hilary Ballon, University Professor of Urban Studies & Architecture at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, conceived of the exhibition, is its curator, and is the editor of the companion book.

A related exhibition, on view concurrently at the Museum, will feature the results of a competition in which architects and planners were asked for submissions using the Manhattan street grid as a catalyst for thinking about the present and future of New York; this exhibition is co-sponsored by the Architectural League of New York.

Upcoming Museum of the City of New York Programs


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The Museum of the City of New York is offering members’ discount for readers of New York History for a number of upcoming events. The Museum has been undergoing a number of exciting changes recently, including an $85 million expansion and modernization of their outdated facility and new online access to over 50,000 images from the collections.

Reservations required for the following events. Call 917-492-3395 or e-mail programs@mcny.org. The cost is $6 museum members; $8 seniors and students; $12 non-members; and $6 when you mention New York History.

Tuesday, October 11 at 6:30 PM
The “Lady’s Eye”: More than Walls and Beyond the Fringe

Between the two world wars, at the same time that pioneering female interior designers like Dorothy Draper and Elsie DeWolfe were making a name for themselves using a modernist aesthetic, another group of women active in design and preservation were promoting the Colonial Revival style as a hallmark of profession. Discover the influence of women like Bertha Benkard and Nancy McClelland, in a discussion with Pauline Metcalf, author of Syrie Maugham (Acanthus Press, 2010), and others as they explore the roles that women played in making the Colonial Revival and that the Colonial Revival played in creating the field of interior design. Reservations required.

Saturday, October 22 from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Living With History:
Restoring, Redesigning, and Reviving New York’s Landmark Interiors

In the past decade the city has been the setting for some extraordinary projects aimed at bringing historic buildings back to life. This half-day symposium will showcase some of those projects, highlighting the various and sometimes controversial approaches to preserving the past while accommodating the needs of modern life. Presenters include architectural historian Matt Postal on New York’s landmark designation process; designer Jamie Drake on the ongoing preservation of Gracie Mansion; Cleary Larkin of Beyer Blinder Belle on the restoration of the Beacon Theater; Franklin D. Vagnone, Executive Director of the Historic House Trust, on the contrasting approaches to preserving Brooklyn’s Wyckoff Farmhouse and Lott House; designer Eric Cohler on his restoration of the iconic A. Conger Goodyear house by Edward Durrell Stone; and Frank Mahon, Senior Designer of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, on retrofitting the International Style Manufacturers Hanover Trust building on Fifth Avenue for retail use. Presented in partnership with the New York School of Interior Design. $25 Museum members, seniors, and students; $35 non-members.

Wednesday, October 26 at 6:30 PM
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill

In 1926, then soon-to-be First Lady of New York State—and, eventually, the nation—Eleanor Roosevelt founded Val-Kill Industries, dedicated to crafting replicas of early American furniture, pewter, and weavings, as a way to provide jobs and training to local men and women. Val-Kill’s reproductions were carried by leading department stores and specialty shops in various American cities and were the subject of a 1927 exhibition and sale in Mrs. Roosevelt’s East Side townhouse. Maurine H. Beasley, professor and author of Eleanor Roosevelt: Transformative First Lady (University Press of Kansas, 2010), takes a closer look at the story of Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill and its cultural relevance then and now. Co-sponsored by the Roosevelt Institute. Reservations required.

Exhibit: John Lindsay, The Reinvention New York


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America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention New York, an exhibition on view at the Museum of the City of New York from May 5 through October 3, 2010, will examine the controversial career and dramatic times of New York’s 103rd mayor. The exhibition presents John V. Lindsay’s efforts to govern a city that was undergoing dramatic changes and that was at the center of the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s; it will highlight Mayor Lindsay’s ambitious initiatives to redefine New York’s government, economy, culture, and public life. Through his outspoken championship of urban values, commitment to civil rights, and opposition to the Vietnam war, Lindsay emerged as a national figure in a troubled and exhilarating era; yet the costs of his approach included the alienation of many members of the white working class and an increasingly out-of-control city budget.

America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York will be launched with a symposium moderated by Sam Roberts on May 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm. to be followed by an opening reception. A companion publication of the same title accompanies the exhibition; it is co-published by the Museum and the Columbia University Press and is edited by Sam Roberts.

Exhibition Overview: “City in Crisis”

The exhibition will open with a sketch of the problems facing the city in 1965, the year that Lindsay first ran for mayor, in which a New York Herald Tribune series declared New York to be a “city in crisis.” Problems included poverty, racial tensions, a failing education system, crumbling infrastructure, and questionable accounting practices. Television commercials created by David Garth for the Lindsay campaign will be on view at the beginning of the exhibition; these highlighted his youth and charismatic good looks. He campaigned as a fresh alternative to the Democratic establishment and backroom politics, and as a candidate ready to take on the problems of the city, to embrace minority communities, and to use government to change New York for the better. Lindsay’s bold campaign will be documented through posters, fliers, bumper stickers, buttons, cartoons, and documents including a handwritten schedule showing his speaking schedule in New York’s ethnic neighborhoods.

The exhibition will go on to show that Lindsay’s inauguration as mayor threw him directly into a cauldron of race, class, and political tensions. This section of America’s Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York will open with his first day in office, when the first transit strike against the New York City Transit Authority paralyzed buses and subways for 12 days. The dramatic confrontation between Lindsay and Michael J. Quill of the Transit Workers Union highlighted the risks of Lindsay’s new labor strategy, and ultimately, despite Mayor Lindsay’s tough talk, the settlement led to a victory for the TWU that paved the way for expensive contracts with other municipal workers during both of Lindsay’s two terms.

“Two Cities, Separate and Unequal”

In the years that followed, Lindsay engaged other volatile issues of a city transformed by increasing unrest. A major focus of the exhibition will be his bold initiatives with the black community; through photographs, video, and original documents, the exhibition will show Lindsay’s commitment to reaching out to minority neighborhoods and to addressing the problems of what he called “two cities, separate and unequal.” A particularly dramatic part of this section of the exhibition will be a rare photograph of Lindsay visiting the streets of Harlem on the night of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and video of his press conference the next day. Lindsay’s relations with black New Yorkers are credited with helping to prevent wide scale riots like those that devastated other American cities.

On the other hand, as the exhibition shows, Lindsay’s efforts to aid the black community and to enhance community control led to racially charged controversies such as the fight over civilian review of the police, the Ocean Hill-Brownville school crisis, and white middle-class anger over failure to plow the snow from the streets in the outer boroughs that almost cost him reelection in 1969. Yet at the same time, in the atmosphere of the growing militancy of the late 1960s, as expressed in the movements for women’s rights, gay rights, Latino rights, and against the Vietnam war, Lindsay emerged as a hero to many because of his support of the antiwar movement, his defense of free speech, and his championship of justice for the disempowered. The exhibition showcases pro- and anti-Lindsay picket signs, fliers, buttons, and photographs of demonstrations on a variety of causes.

Another section of the exhibition will explore Lindsay’s ambitious efforts to remake city government for the people and by the people. His approach included expanding the role of government in public welfare, including: increased services, ranging from open enrollment in the city universities to air-conditioning subway cars; ambitious public health initiatives, such as anti-lead poisoning campaigns and drug addiction clinics; pioneering regulatory agencies to protect the public good, such as the nation’s first Environmental Protection agency and the nation’s first Consumer Affairs agency; and groundbreaking focus on urban design in planning, creating special zoning districts and using such tools as incentive zoning and banking air rights to leverage private development dollars to achieve public ends. This section of the exhibition will show striking renderings of built and proposed initiatives such as the proposed Madison Avenue pedestrian mall, Manhattan landing, and the South Street Special District. It will also highlight Lindsay’s emphasis on community participation and decentralization, through tools such as “Little City Halls” in the neighborhoods and community planning boards.

These new and expanded programs were expensive, however, and the exhibition will explore the spiraling costs of welfare, education, generous labor contracts, and other municipal services, along with the diminution of resources to pay for them, as the national economy entered recession and the support of the federal and state government was scaled back. The exhibition will present the debate over the management of the budget by Lindsay and the city comptroller, Abraham Beame, who would go on to be the 104th mayor of the city and in whose term the financial chicanery involving the city’s budget brought New York to the brink of bankruptcy. The exhibition will conclude with an examination of the evaluation of Lindsay’s effect on the city.

A number of other major initiatives will be taking place in conjunction with the exhibition; these include a PBS documentary, The Lindsay Years, which is scheduled to air on WNET/Channel 13 on May 6th. In addition to public programs organized by the Museum of the City of New York throughout the run of the exhibition, a series of special programs are being organized by the Museum in conjunction with other New York institutions. With John Jay College of Criminal Justice (www.jjay.cuny.edu), the topic of criminal justice and law enforcement will be discussed; with the Paley Center for Media (www.paleycenter.org) Mayor Lindsay’s relationship with the press will be explored and with the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College (the Mayor’s urban management innovations will be reassessed). For information and reservations, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu, www.paleycenter.org, and/or www.zicklin.baruch.cuny.edu.

Photo: John Lindsay. Courtesy Wikipedia.

The Row House Reborn:Architecture and Neighborhoods in NYC, 1908-1929


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The New York City Historic Districts Council is co-sponsoring a lecture on row houses at the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue) on Monday, February 8 at 6:30 pm.

In the decades just before and after World War I, a group of architects, homeowners, and developers pioneered innovative and affordable housing alternatives. They converted the deteriorated and bleak row houses of old New York neighborhoods into modern and stylish dwellings.

Join Andrew S. Dolkart, author of The Row House Reborn: Architecture and Neighborhoods in New York City, 1908–1929, as he traces this aesthetic movement from its inception in 1908 to a wave of projects for the wealthy on the East Side to the faux artists’ studios for young professionals in Greenwich Village.

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED

$6 tickets when you mention the Historic Districts Council!
*A two dollar surcharge applies for unreserved, walk-in participants.

To reserve your discounted ticket, please call 212.534.1672, ext. 3395 or e-mail programs@mcny.org and mention HDC.

The Mannahatta Project Uncovers NYC in 1609


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A new web site (now in Beta) sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society shows viewers what New York City looked like before it was a city. After nearly a decade of research the The Mannahatta Project uncovers online the original ecology of Manhattan circa 1609. According to the site:

“That’s right, the center of one of the world’s largest and most built-up cities was once a natural landscape of hills, valleys, forests, fields, freshwater wetlands, salt marshes, beaches, springs, ponds and streams, supporting a rich and abundant community of wildlife and sustaining people for perhaps 5000 years before Europeans arrived on the scene in 1609. It turns out that the concrete jungle of New York City was once a vast deciduous forest, home to bears, wolves, songbirds, and salamanders, with clear, clean waters jumping with fish. In fact, with over 55 different ecological communities, Mannahatta’s biodiversity per acre rivaled that of national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Great Smoky Mountains!”

The goal of the Mannahatta Project is no less than “to re-start the natural history of New York City.” The site includes a virtual Mannahatta map that allows you to see Mannahatta from any location, block-by-block species information, lessons on the science and technology used to create the site, hundreds of layers of digital data, place-based lesson plans for elementary and high school students that meet New York State standards, an online discussion page, and event listing.

Recent updates to Mannahatta include the ability click on a city block to find out what type of plants and animals called it home, whether the Lenape people lived or worked there, and what kind of landscape features appeared on that block. You can also use the slider bar to fade from Mannahatta to modern day to see how the island has changed in the last 400 years.

Last week a related multimedia exhibit “Mannahatta/Manhattan: A Natural History of New York City” also opened at the Museum of the City of New York.

Russell Shorto: The Accidental Legacy of Henry Hudson


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Acclaimed writer Russell Shorto will present “The Accidental Legacy of Henry Hudson” at the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street, NYC) this Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 6:30 PM. According to the program announcement: “Henry Hudson’s name is everywhere in New York-attached to a river, a street, a park, a bridge, and more-yet little is known about the man himself. Bestselling author and New York Times Magazine contributing writer Russell Shorto, author of the award-winning The Island at the Center of the World (Doubleday, 2004) and Descartes’ Bones (Doubleday, 2008), recently named a New York Times Notable Book for 2008, will consider the story of Henry Hudson.”

Shorto most recently published a feature in The New York Times (Sunday, May 3, 2009) entitled “Going Dutch: How I Learned to Love the Welfare State.”

The program is presented in conjunction with the exhibit Amsterdam / New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson. Reservations are required. The cost will be $12 for non-members, $8 for seniors and students, and $6 for museum members. A $2 surcharge applies for unreserved, walk-in tickets. Tickets may be ordered online at www.mcny.org or by calling 212.534.1672, ext. 3395.

New Netherland: A Charles Gehring and Jaap Jacobs Event


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Charles Gehring, Ph.D., Director of the New Netherland Project in Albany, has spent 30 years translating 17th-century documents to uncover the Dutch origins of New York will join Jaap Jacobs, Ph.D., co-curator of Amsterdam / New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson, and one of the scholars who has built on Gehring’s work to rewrite the history of New Netherland will hold a conversation “about myths, memories, and discoveries of New York’s origins, what made New Netherland unique, and why knowledge of these
origins is important for New York and New Yorkers today.”

The event will be held April 11th, at 2 pm at the Museum of The City of New York, 1220 5th Ave,. Reservations are required. For further information about this event contact Paula Zadigian at (212) 534-1672.

Amsterdam / New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson


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A new exhibit “Amsterdam/New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson” opened Saturday at the Museum of the City of New York and will run through September 27, 2009. Presented in collaboration with the New Netherland Institute, Albany, and the National Maritime Museum Amsterdam / Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum Amsterdam, the exhibit will employ rare 16th- and 17th-century objects, images, and documents from major American and Dutch collections to bring the transatlantic world to life and reveal how Henry Hudson’s epic third voyage of exploration planted the seeds of a modern society that took root and flourished in the New World. Focusing on the economic, cultural, and ideological connections that ultimately linked two global cities, Amsterdam and New York, “Amsterdam / New Amsterdam” will illuminate not only the global significance of Hudson’s voyage, but also the creative context out of which the exploration and settlement of New York itself arose, highlighting the Dutch role in creating the very character of New York as a place of opportunity, tolerance, and perpetual transformation.