A mock battle staged in the Parade Ground in Van Cortlandt Park held by the National Guard in 1902. Image source: Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and the George Stonebridge Family
On this day in history, December 12, 1888, New York City acquired rights to Van Cortlandt Park, now the city’s third largest park. The 1,146 acres of pristine landscape were characterized by dramatic ridges, sweeping hills and open meadows. Previously owned by the Van Cortlandt family since 1691, the history of landowners dates back to the early 1600′s when the Weckquaesgeek Natives Americans sold it to the Dutch West India Company.
Now, for the first time in over a century, a Master plan for Van Cortlandt Park headed by NYC Parks Principal Urban Designer, Charles McKinney is being designed with active community participation. Steeped in history, the park has been home to numerous historic events from the Stockbridge Massacre of 1778, to an ideal location where George Washington stayed on more than one occasion and where soldiers gathered for battle on the Parade Ground during the Revolutionary War.
If you have your civil marriage ceremony in New York City’s Marriage Bureau on 141 Worth Street, you have the opportunity to take your photo in front of a faux City Hall backdrop. The real City Hall is a short eight minute walk past Foley Square, the African Burial Ground and the Tweed Courthouse.
Angry bank depositors gather outside of the Bank o the United States on Delancey Street in the rain, 1930. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
On this day in history, December 11th, 1930, the Bank of the United States failed. At the time, it was the twenty-eighth largest commercial bank in the US but played a major role in the “narrative of the economic downswing of 1929-1933,” according to the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking. Although the bank, located at on 77 Delancey Street, had an official sounding name, the bank held no ties with the US government. Under the assumption that this was a national bank, many immigrants who lived nearby in the Lower East Side deposited their meager earnings in this bank. This bank didn’t have the safest of transactions, and the bankers weren’t very honest.
A rendering of the installed art piece at the abandoned Myrtle Ave subway station. Source:MTA
Closed in 1956, Myrtle Ave subway station used to run on the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit line between Manhattan Bridge and DeKalb Avenue. The DeKalb Ave section ran into a lot of problems as it was the chokepoint for the entire BMT Broadway subway operation, “with a lot of merges and some routings crossing others at grade in the switches on both sides of the station,” writes Joseph Brennan. The entire area was rebuilt in 1956, and this caused Myrtle Ave to lose its southbound platform. The northbound platform still exists, but has been closed ever since. An artwork called Masstransiscope by Bill Brand is located in the abandoned Myrtle Ave station. Installed in 1980, the piece works like a giant zoetrope.