Posts by AllisonBSiegel:

Articles By: allison b. siegel

Urban Historian, Allison B. Siegel focuses on 18th through mid-20th century New York City history. She has collaborated on several National Register of Historic Places and Landmark Preservation Commission designations. History is her passion, preservation her first love. Allison can be found exploring, photographing and gawking at buildings wherever she goes making it very hard to walk down the street with her. She's been known to end up with several bricks in her bag after an adventure. Allison's NYC roots date back 6 generations beginning on the Lower East Side spanning Brooklyn, Harlem, the Bronx and Queens. She is a staff writer and Resident Historian for everyone's favorite Lower East Side blog, BoweryBoogie.com.

Library of Congress NYPL opening day

Since May 23, 1911, Patience and Fortitude have flanked either side of the steps leading into one of the most stunning Beaux Arts building in New York City, the New York Public Library. They are statues of lions, yet for over 100 years, people have been personifying them.

Sculptor Edward Clark Potter created them as part of a pride—a number of male and female lions, much like a pack of wolves. (The Piccirilli Brothers did the actual carving of the marble.)  Potter also sculpted the two female lions at the Morgan Library, on 36th Street and Madison Avenue. Here’s where one might recall these lions and lionesses are not actually alive. (more…)

Lutece Restaurant Mad Men NYC Untapped CitiesPhoto Credit: AMC

At 249-253 East 50th Street, sits the remains of a restaurant that keeps reappearing in pop culture. The Lutèce was recreated in AMC’s Mad Men and referenced in the film Crossing Delancey. In the 1980s, Zagat named it America’s best restaurant for six years, but since the place closed in 1994 it hasn’t been the same. Though the building that housed this world-renowned restaurant is now empty and decaying along with its sister buildings, home to Kate Kearney’s and The Leopard, the myth of the Lutèce has captured the imaginations of many a writer.  (more…)

fillmore east
Photo by Amalie R. Rothschild via The Local East Village

 The Allman Brothers Band just announced that after 45 years they will disband at the end of 2014. The news hit  fans hard, who have been following the Southern Rock band since brothers Gregg and Duane Allman formed the group in 1969. Taking our cue from a great Allmans tune, Back to Where it All Begins, today we’re looking at the history of Fillmore East, today a bank.


Vintage Street Sign-Midtown Tunnel-Tunnel Exit Street-1940-NYC

With some time to spare, we decided to venture from a usual route. This little adventure landed us on the functionally named “Tunnel Exit” Street between 34th and 35th Street. It’s the Queens Midtown Tunnel exit street, that is.

Alongside a wall of tenement brick, shrubbery, and barbed wire hangs a beautiful and pretty well-maintained original tunnel sign from the 1940s, when the tunnel was completed! New York you never cease to amaze us. Follow the sign “East” or “West.”  You never know what you might find.



Fineline Tattoo opened in 1976 during the New York City ban on tattooing and is considered the longest continually running tattoo shop in Manhattan. It’s located on 1st Street and First Avenue in the East Village. Previously, Mike Bakaty, the founder and owner, operated underground for 36 years in secret back rooms and loft apartments. With the walls adorned with Bakaty’s original flash art, Fineline is definitely near and dear to our skin and to the history of NYC.



From 1961 up until 1997, there were no “legal” tattoo shops in New York City. The Health Department banned tattooing due to an alleged series of blood-borne Hepatitis-B cases linked to Coney Island tattoo parlors in the late 1950s. Alleged.

The first tattoo shops in New York City initially catered to seafarers who grabbed a haircut and some permanent ink in what is now the Financial District. By the late 19th century, tattoo mecca had moved to the Bowery. Tattooists catered to all kinds, but the Bowery was soldiers’ and sailors’ depraved heaven (and haven).