Cities are always changing. In architecture everything gives way and nothing is fixed. Impermanence is the only constant. Every new generation tinkers with the aesthetics of urban space (or lack of it) to create its own place. At the same time, the fabric of the city is resilient and able to harness its own transformative power which gives it a unique character. The history of Second Avenue is a vibrant example. [Read more…] about NYC History: The Stuyvesant Farm to East Village Punk
Lower East Side
Reconstructing the biography of a building is a way of obtaining information about the activities and beliefs of previous generations of inhabitants. The approach differs from archaeological research.
In a “building biography,” the structure is seen as the frame around which a family, group or institution is investigated in order to gain an insight into socio-economic or cultural conditions of a certain period. [Read more…] about Bill the Butcher: A Nativist ‘Know Nothing’ Movement Martyr
Nestled within New York City’s sprawling Chinatown is a little, one block street named Mosco. It is the last remnant of Cross Street (later Park Street) which originally ran from Lafayette Street on the west to Mott Street on the east in the first half of the 19th century.
The telescoping of Cross Street into Park Street and finally, into Mosco Street would normally be considered a sad diminution of a once proud thoroughfare were it not for the little street that remains in its wake. [Read more…] about Chinatown’s Mosco Street: A Last Remnant of the Five Points
On April 6, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson declared America’s entrance into the First World War and initiated a nation-wide drive to strengthen the armed forces. It was decided that the commemorations of Patriots’ Day on April 19 should coincide with a “Wake up America Day” of recruitment. Every city hosted its own parties and spectacles.
In New York City, festivities were organized with decorated floats, patriotic banners and a grand vaudeville at Carnegie Hall starring Will Rogers, Ethel Barrymore, and others. James Montgomery Flagg designed the posters announcing the event. Fifth Avenue hosted a parade, whilst Army and Navy planes dropped pamphlets encouraging the crowd to summon the “Spirit of 1776.” [Read more…] about The First World War & New York City
The first annual exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists opened at Manhattan’s Grand Central Palace on the evening of April 10, 1917. Thousands of guests gathered to celebrate what was to be the largest art show ever held in New York. The momentous occasion took place in an atmosphere of growing political tension as it coincided with America’s entry into the First World War.
In spite of these circumstances, there was a single figure who attracted widespread attention. Known by his adopted name of Arthur Cravan, he had been invited to deliver a lecture on “The Independent Artists in France and America.” His outrageous behavior shocked New York’s artistic elite. [Read more…] about Poet-Boxer Arthur Cravan: The Man Who Shocked Greenwich Village
The term sandwich bread (loaf) started circulating in the United States during the 1930s. It followed a revolution in the manner the product was presented to customers, no longer homemade but mass produced. After a decade of trial and error, the bread slicing machine was introduced and soon widely used. The sandwich was about to conquer the American and European markets. Grabbing a sandwich came to symbolize the rush of an urban society. [Read more…] about An English Gambler, A Jewish Butcher & The History of Pastrami on Rye
Al Smith was many things during his political career: reform champion after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, four-time governor of New York State, the first Catholic presidential candidate. But he was always a New York City boy at heart. [Read more…] about Redeeming Al Smith: New York’s Four-Time Governor
Dating from 1785, Edward Mooney House at 18 Bowery, at the corner of Pell Street in Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown, is one of New York’s oldest surviving brick townhouses. Built shortly after the British evacuated New York and before George Washington became President, its architecture contains elements of both pre-Revolutionary (British) Georgian and the in-coming (American) Federal style. Designated in 1966 as a landmark sample of domestic architecture, Mooney House has three stories, an attic and full basement.
The property itself and the land on which it was built are manifestations of Manhattan’s socio-political emergence. The house harbors a history of various functions that involved a diverse mix of tenants and occupants, reflecting the chaotic rise of the metropolis. [Read more…] about Chuck Connors & Slum Tourism in Chinatown
Today, the city of Frankfurt-am-Main is the largest financial hub in Continental Europe, home to the European Central Bank (ECB), the Deutsche Bundesbank and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The same city was at one time the epicenter of a liberal uprising that swept the German states. The Frankfurt Parliament was convened in May 1848; its members were elected by direct (male) suffrage, representing the full political spectrum. In the end, the revolution of 1848 failed and was suppressed with excessive force and retribution. [Read more…] about Justus Schwab & East Village Radicalism
The term paparazzo and its plural form paparazzi were first used in English in a Time magazine article dated April 14th, 1961, entitled “Paparazzi on the Prowl.” The piece put the spotlight on a new type of photographer that was giving Rome’s elegant district around Via Veneto an unpleasant reputation. [Read more…] about Weegee the Famous: Paparazzo of the Nameless