In Bronx Faces and Voices: Sixteen Stories of Courage and Commitment (Texas Tech University Press, 2014) sixteen men and women – religious leaders and activists, elected officials and ordinary citizens tell their personal, uncensored stories of the New York City borough — before, during, and after the troubled years of arson, crime, abandonment, and flight in the 1970s and 1980s.
The interviews are drawn from the Bronx Institute Archives Oral History Project’s interviews with hundreds of Bronx residents in the early 1980s, now held in the Special Collections division of the Leonard Lief Library of Lehman College, CUNY. Continue reading
In Pamela Newkirk’s Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga (Amistad / Harper Collins, 2015) the award-winning journalist reveals a little-known and shameful episode in American history, when an African man was used as a zoo exhibit — a shocking story of racial prejudice, science, and tragedy in the early years of the twentieth century.
Ota Benga, a young Congolese man, was featured as an exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Two years later, in 1906, the Bronx Zoo displayed him in its Monkey House, caging the slight 103-pound, four-foot eleven-inch man with an orangutan. The attraction became an international sensation, drawing thousands of New Yorkers and commanding headlines from across the nation and Europe. Continue reading
A controversial plan to expand the landmark Frick Collection in New York City was withdrawn by its Board of Trustees on Wednesday. Historic preservationists, including New York City’s Historic Districts Council, opposed the plan, in part on the grounds that the new construction would have destroyed a gated pocket park. Continue reading
The Lilac Arts Series, a contemporary art exhibition aboard the historic ship Lilac, will run through August 15, 2015 and focus on three themes inspired by the ship’s story – “Steam”, “Work + Labor” and “Restoration/Reinvention“. The visual art exhibition will feature the work of over 25 artists within the ship’s unique spaces, including several site-specific installations. The exhibition and events are free and open to the public.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Lilac was built in 1933 and is America’s only surviving steam-powered lighthouse tender. Lilac is currently being restored as a unique vehicle for maritime education and community activities and is berthed at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25. Continue reading
The tragically short career of Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) has created a penumbra of martyred glory around his work. This must give him a chuckle wherever his spirit looks down on the shuffling hordes trekking to view his work reverently installed at the Brooklyn Museum.
Basquiat was born as a spray-can wielding street artist who liked mess, disorder and chaos. How different was he, when beatified by art gallery recognition and patron purchases? In his art world heyday he got his fine new designer clothes just as stained as his thrift shop threads from his early days. Continue reading
The Museum of the City of New York will present Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival, a celebration of the City’s role as a center of the folk music revival from its beginnings in the 1930s and 1940s to its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as its continuing legacy.
A film screening of “Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion,” Matthew Silva’s documentary about an abandoned structure designed by modernist icon Philip Johnson for the 1964 World’s Fair.The film tells the story of the Pavilion from the glory days of the fair, through the years of neglect, up to present day advocacy.
The filmmakers hope this project will be the first step in engaging and informing people about the building in new and exciting ways. This whimsical, futuristic, and soaring structure, constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, has been left abandoned for the greater part of 50 years. Continue reading
Eliza Jumel rose from poverty to become one of New York’s richest women with the help of a fortune acquired from her first husband, Stephen Jumel. His own origins, until now shrouded in mystery, will be revealed in an illustrated lecture at the Morris-Jumel Mansion on Saturday, May 16, at 2 pm.
Speaker Margaret A. Oppenheimer, author of a forthcoming, legend-busting biography of Eliza, will disclose previously unknown details of Stephen’s parentage and youth. Continue reading
Ken Cobb joined me on “The Forget-Me-Not Hour” podcast this week, talking about one of the richest repositories in New York City: the New York Municipal Archives.
Ken, Assistant Commissioner of Department of Records and Information Services for the City of New York, talked about the collections of the archives – vital records, tax records, police records, almshouse records, mayoral records, legislative records, and more. Continue reading
Religion played a large role in why some Europeans settled in British North America.
In episode 20 of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Kyle T. Bulthuis, author of Four Steeples over the City Streets: Religion and Society in New York’s Early Republic Congregations (NYU Press, 2014), takes us on an exploration of early American religious life. Religion played a large role in why some Europeans settled in British North America. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/020
Every city has its ghosts. From Manhattan and Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhoods to the far-flung edges of the outer boroughs.
Will Ellis’ haunting photography in Abandoned NYC (Schiffer Publishing, 2015) brings readers 200 eerie images of urban decay, through crumbling institutions, defunct military posts, abandoned factories, railroads, schools, and waterways. Continue reading
The Museum of the City of New York is presenting HIP-HOP REVOLUTION: Photographs by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper, an exhibition that shows the historic early days of hip-hop culture and music, with its roots firmly in New York, and how it evolved towards the worldwide phenomenon it is today.
Bringing together for the first time the work of three renowned photographers of the hip-hop scene, the exhibition shows the birth of a new cultural movement – with its accompanying music, dance, fashion and style – as it quickly and dramatically swept from its grassroots origins into an expansive commercial industry. Continue reading
The Museum of the City of New York will present a new exhibit, Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks, a comprehensive exhibition exploring the roots and impact of a landmark preservation movement and its impact on New York City. The exhibit will run Tuesday, April 21 through September 13, 2015.
New York’s landmark preservation movement developed over many years, but was galvanized by large historic losses in the early 1960s, most notably the demolition of the world famous and architecturally significant Pennsylvania Station in 1963. Continue reading
The New York City Historic District Council’s 2015 Preservation Conference “Landmarks @50” celebrates the milestone 50th anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law and imagines what preservation might look like in the future.
Since 1965, preservation activities have had a tremendous positive effect on New York City showing that historic preservation is neither weepy nostalgia nor dusty museums. Preservation is active work, which engages diverse communities across the city and both reflects and informs New York’s cultural, political, and economic milieu. Innumerable successes have been won in the last 50 years, but there is still great work to be done. Continue reading
A selection of 100 works from the nearly 10,000 acquired during the tenure of the Director of the Brooklyn Museum Arnold Lehman will be presented in his honor on the occasion of his retirement in the summer of 2015.
Diverse Works: Director’s Choice, 1997-2015, will be on view from April 15 through August 2, 2015, and includes works in a wide range of media from every corner of the globe. Spanning many centuries, the exhibition brings together important objects from all of the Museum’s collecting areas. Continue reading
A compelling story about three murders in Brooklyn between 1872 and 1873 and the young women charged with the crimes is told in a new book by Robert E. Murphy, Three Graces Of Raymond Street: Murder, Madness, Sex, and Politics in 1870s Brooklyn (SUNY Press, 2015).
Between January 1872 and September 1873, the city of Brooklyn was gripped by accounts of three murders allegedly committed by young women: a factory girl shot her employer and seducer, an evidently peculiar woman shot a philandering member of a prominent Brooklyn family, and a former nun was arrested on suspicion of having hanged her best friend and onetime convent mate. Continue reading
The Brooklyn-based design firm SITU Studio has been selected by the Brooklyn Museum to create a new environment in the entry Pavilion and Lobby to transform the Museum’s entry. Taking a cue from retail and the hospitality sector, the new SITU-designed entry experience will focus on an assemblage of reconfigurable modular furniture designed to connect staff with visitors, while improving traffic and way-finding. Continue reading
The Museum of the City of New York has announced a new exhibit opening in February, Everything is Design: The Work of Paul Rand, showcasing the nearly six-decade career of visionary American graphic design master Paul Rand (1914-1996).
Born in Brooklyn with a father who owned a small grocery store, Rand rose to the heights of 20th century design, seen as one of the most influential designers in the history of print and often called the ‘Picasso of graphic design.’ Continue reading
As noted in Part 1, Albany Jim Brady’s good looks and suave demeanor aided him on crime trips to outside areas, like Canada. To operate in more familiar haunts, like New York City, he became a master of disguise and used many an alias. Still, as skilled and shrewd as Brady was, his daring exploits are what often got him into trouble. Continue reading
The Historic Districts Council, New York’s city-wide advocate for historic buildings and neighborhoods, is pleased to announce its Six to Celebrate, an annual listing of historic New York City neighborhoods and institutions that merit preservation attention. They will be priorities for HDC’s advocacy and consultation over a yearlong period. This is New York’s only citywide list of preservation priorities coming directly from the neighborhoods.