How an obsessed explorer found and lost the world's oldest subway.
"The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel was sealed in 1861, shortly after Brooklyn banned steam locomotives within city limits. Legend has it that the tunnel was reopened in the 1920s when it was used for mushroom growing and bootlegging, and in the 1940s when the FBI opened it looking for Nazis. But soon after, it was lost. In the 1950s two historians attempted to find it and failed."
posted by moonmilk
on Feb 7, 2014 -
Visiting the Big Apple? "Don't ask a pedestrian where a certain street is. He is usually too busy to stop, and if polite enough to stop, won't know. No New Yorker knows anything about New York."
And another kind reminder: "Don't gape at women smoking cigarettes in restaurants. They are harmless and respectable, notwithstanding and nevertheless. They are also smart."
Advice from Valentine’s City of New York: A Guide Book
, published in 1920. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jan 29, 2014 -
In the history of roads, pedestrians have long been the dominant user class. In the early 20th century, the use of automobiles was increasing, and with it, the conflicts between cars and people on foot. This conflict came to a head in 1923 in Cincinnati
, when people were outraged about the number of children killed by autos, and a there was a petition that "would have required all vehicles in the city to be fitted with speed governors limiting them to 25 miles per hour." In response, the young automotive companies organized and started a move to give dominance to cars in the streets. The petition failed, and pedestrians had lost. This was a key moment, marked with the invention of jaywalking
. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief
on Jan 26, 2014 -
The Roaring Twenties
: An Interactive Exploration of the Historical Soundscape of New York City (sound autoplays)
. via i09
, which says The map uses a combination of noise complaints and old reel footage to plot everything from what must have been an exceptionally noisy subway turnstile (complete with notes from the police report) all the way to a carnival barkers in Coney Island, and is a great way to listen in on the everyday life of a New York City gone-by.
posted by davidjmcgee
on Dec 9, 2013 -
in 1912 as a farm colony of Brooklyn State Hospital, the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens [New York] became, by mid-century, a world unto itself. At its peak, it housed some 7,000 patients. They tended gardens and raised livestock on the hospital’s grounds. The hospital contained gymnasiums, a swimming pool, a theater, a television studio, and giant kitchens and laundries where patients were put to work. Today, Creedmoor, still run by the New York State Office of Mental Health, has only a few hundred patients" and houses The Living Museum
, an 'art asylum within an asylum
' where patients can create and exhibit
their art. But what is life like inside the institution itself? In 2010, Katherine B. Olsen spent weeks interviewing staff and patients. Her essay, published this week, 'Something More Wrong'
takes us inside Creedmoor's women's ward. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jul 29, 2013 -
The Bronx Zoo is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which boasts of running more than 500 projects in sixty-five countries through global field offices whose employees work to advance sustainable development; address issues of global climate change, health and well-being, and natural-resource use; and pursue other noble-sounding objectives that attest to the totality of man’s dominion over the lesser beasts.
posted by latkes
on Jan 20, 2013 -
Ephemeral New York
'chronicles an ever-changing, constantly reinvented city through photos, newspaper archives, and other scraps and artifacts that have been edged into New York’s collective remainder bin.' [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Oct 11, 2012 -
In the 1960's, 70's and 80's, urban decay and high crime rates caused retail chain supermarkets to flee New York City
. (google books link)
Korean immigrants filled the gap with corner grocery stores. For nearly two decades they were ubiquitous -- symbols of the group's ongoing quest to achieve the American Dream. But 30 years later, Where Did The Korean Greengrocers Go? [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jan 18, 2011 -
Once upon a time, cows were milked in Brooklyn's Prospect Park
. The city dairy provided a safe, affordable source of nutrition for children in 19th-century New York, and was an important bulwark against one of the city's most insidious killers: swill milk. The dairy and its cows have disappeared, but the story of the swill milk scandals
lives on. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes
on Sep 15, 2010 -
Have you ever wondered what New York was like before it was a city? Find out at The Mannahatta Project
, by navigating through the map to discover Manhattan Island and its native wildlife in 1609. [more inside]
posted by netbros
on Jun 4, 2009 -
Horton's Historical Articles.
"Gerald (Jerry) Horton has always been interested in American History, particularly the era from 1750 to 1820. Upon his retirement in 2000, he found more time for reading and research. It was through this research Jerry became intrigued with the Mohawk Valley during the Revolutionary War." It's a narrow focus, but if you're interested in the American Revolution the articles on this site provide incredibly detailed timelines, with impartial attention to all sides. What Happened to 7,000 People?
, for example, explains just how the population of the Mohawk Valley dropped from 10,000 to 3,000 people in a few years in a "civil war that pitted neighbor against neighbor."
posted by languagehat
on Mar 30, 2007 -
Getting Bored is Not Allowed
at the Plaza Hotel
, at least not according to its famous fictional resident, the exhausting, spoiled and infectiously ebullient Eloise
. Sadly, though, today's news
is anything but boring: the Plaza's new owners announced plans to close the iconic hotel for 18 months, and renovate it to create private condos -- throwing hundreds of employees out of work.
It's been said that nothing unimportant ever happens at the Plaza: from its 1907 opening
to Truman Capote's 1966 Black and White Ball
, the Plaza has hosted literati, glitterati, rock stars, and royalty. It has graced the screen in movies such as Breakfast at Tiffany's
and The Great Gatsby
, making Hollywood history when it became the first fully on-location film shoot for North by Northwest
. Ernest Hemingway told F. Scott Fitzgerald to give his liver to Princeton and his heart to the Plaza; Dorothy Parker
got her pink slip from Vanity Fair there. Residents, at various times, included Frank Lloyd Wright, Cary Grant, and Judy Garland. Every President since Taft has stepped through its giant engraved revolving doors. Chef Boyardee
of canned-spaghetti fame got his start in its kitchens. No New York tourist's
rounds are complete without a bloody mary and some bluepoints at the Oyster Bar, a martini in the Oak Room
bar, or tea in the Palm Court
, and its French-chateau facade is a Central Park centerpiece
An employees' group
and a supporting 'Friends of the Plaza'
group have begun working to save the gracious place, with the goal of preserving not only the building and their jobs, but the very idea of the quintessential New York luxury hotel. Almost enough to make folks want the Donald back.
posted by Miko
on Mar 14, 2005 -
The Curse of the Family Palsgraf.
"In the eight decades since the New York Court of Appeals in Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad outlined the two competing theories of proximate cause, a branch of the Palsgraf family has been beset by bad luck, serious injuries and losing lawsuits, just like their matriarch, Helen Palsgraf."
posted by adrober
on Dec 10, 2004 -