Fri May 3, 2013 at 2:50 AM
If you had told 1840s religious leader William Muhlenberg that his innovative new Church of the Holy Communion, designed by renown architect Richard Upjohn, would become the glittering seat of drugs and debauchery 150 years later, he might have burned it down then and there.
But thankfully, this lovely building is still with us, proving to be one of the most flexible examples of building use in New York City history.
This unusual tale begins with the captivating relationship between Muhlenberg (the...
Fri April 5, 2013 at 4:23 AM
Here's the story of how two very big cities and a whole bunch of small towns and villages -- completely different in nature, from farmland to skyscraper -- became the greatest city in the world.
This is the tale of Greater New York, the forming of the five boroughs into one metropolis, a consolidation of massive civic interests which became official on January 1, 1898.
But this is not a story of interested parties, united in a common goal. In fact, Manhattan (comprising, with some areas north of...
Fri March 8, 2013 at 3:28 AM
A long, long time ago in New York -- in the 1730s, back when the city was a holding of the British, with a little over 10,000 inhabitants -- a German printer named John Peter Zenger decided to print a four-page newspaper called the New York Weekly Journal.
This is pretty remarkable in itself, as there was only one other newspaper in town called the New York Gazette, an organ of the British crown and the governor of the colony. (Equally remarkable: Benjamin Franklin almost worked there!) ...
Fri February 8, 2013 at 12:24 AM
This year is the 125th anniversary of one of the worst storms to ever wreck havok upon New York City, the now-legendary mix of wind and snow called the Great Blizzard of 1888. Its memory was again conjured up a few months ago as people struggled to compare Hurricane Sandy with some devastating event in New York's past.
And indeed, the Blizzard and Sandy have several disturbing similarities. But the battering snow-hurricane of 1888, with freezing temperatures and drifts three stories...
Fri January 11, 2013 at 5:07 AM
The Armory Show of 1913 was the mainstream debut of modernist art -- both European and American -- to New York City audiences. Galleries had previously devoted themselves to the great European masters, antiquity and American landscapes as a way to influence the taste of a growing city. But even though vanguards like Alfred Stieglitz debuted artists like Picasso and Cezanne into his Fifth Avenue gallery, those names were still barely known to the average New Yorker.
The Armory Show, located at the...
Fri December 14, 2012 at 5:48 AM
Welcome to the secret history of Herald Square, New York City's second favorite intersection -- after Times Square, of course, just a few blocks north. But we think you may find this intersection at 34th Street, Sixth Avenue and Broadway perhaps even more interesting.
This is a tale of the Tenderloin, an entertainment and vice district which dominated the west side of midtown Manhattan in the late 19th century, and how it abutted the great cultural institutions that soon became attracted to Herald...
Fri November 16, 2012 at 2:43 AM
The bicycle has always seemed like a slightly awkward form of transportation in big cities, but in fact, it's reliable, convenient, clean and -- believe it or not -- popular in New York City for almost 200 years.
The original two-wheeled conveyance was the velocipede or dandy horse which debuted in New York in 1819. After the Civil War, an improved velocipede dazzled the likes of Henry Ward Beecher and became a frequent companion of carriages and streetcars on the streets of New York. Sporting men,...
Fri September 21, 2012 at 3:43 AM
One of the great challenges faced by a growing, 19th-century New York City was the need for a viable, clean water supply. Before the 1830s, citizens relied on cisterns to collect rainwater, a series of city wells drilling down to underground springs, and the infamously polluted Collect Pond.
The solution lay miles north of the city in the Croton River. New York engineers embarked on one of the most ambitious projects in the city's history -- to tame the Croton, funnelling through an aqueduct...
Fri June 1, 2012 at 6:43 AM
One of New York's oldest cultural institutions, the Brooklyn Academy of Music has an unusual history that spans over 150 years and two locations. We trace the story from the earliest roots of a Manhattan-Brooklyn rivalry and a discussion over high-class taste to the greatest stars of the arts, including a couple tragic tales and a bizarre event involving the mother of modern dance!
Fri May 4, 2012 at 3:27 AM
St. Mark's-in-the-Bowery is one of Manhattan's most interesting and mysterious links to early New York history. This East Village church was built in 1799 atop the location of the original chapel of Peter Stuyvesant, New Amsterdam's peg-legged director-general.
His descendants -- with the help of Alexander Hamilton and the architect of City Hall -- built this new chapel with the intention of serving the local farming community of Bowery Village. But in many ways, the more thrilling tales occur among...