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Located in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, the watchtower originally cost $2,300 in 1857

Located in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, the watchtower originally cost $2,300 in 1857

As the only surviving watchtower of the original thirteen dotting Manhattan, we have been paying particular attention to the much anticipated renovation of the Harlem Fire Watchtower.  Built between 1855 and 1857, it was the only way to spot fires and sound an alert until electric telegraphs were installed in 1878. The watchtower is located at the highest part of the Acropolis in the center of Marcus Garvey Park, which was rebuilt as part of the WPA jobs program. The cast iron structure was built by Julius H. Kroehl and designed by James Bogardus at a cost of $2,300. The bell inside weights 10,000 pounds alone .

Age and weather have taken their toll, bringing together a community effort to raise the funds for a restoration. Scaffolding started going up this past December and the dismantling will begin this month. Each piece will be labeled, crated and moved to a storage facility in Queens by Nicholson & Galloway, Inc. with Allen Architectual Metals consulting.

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Central Park Before-1980s-Central Park Conservancy-NYCBelvedere Castle then

Yesterday, Gothamist had a great photo series on what Central Park looked like in the 1980s (tough times) versus now. For those who have never seen anything but a glorious Central Park, the images may come as a shocker. The Central Park Conservancy was formed in 1980 and is currently celebrating its 35th Anniversary. The first thing they did back in the 80s? President Doug Blonsky tells Gothamist, “re-sodding the Sheep Meadow, restoring the Dairy, planting American Elms, getting rid of graffiti, and fixing broken benches.”

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Loews Canal Street Theater-Abandoned-Chinatown-After the Final Curtain-Matt Lambros-19

Untapped Cities contributor Matt Lambros of After the Final Curtain has a new article on his website about the abandoned Loew’s Canal Theater at 31 Canal Street, closed since the 1950s. It has a fascinating history and gorgeous interior, designed by the famous theater architect Thomas Lamb who did many of the forgotten theaters of upper Broadway  and the Empire theater on 42nd Street (now the AMC Empire).

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In this clip from the 1949 Metro Goldwyn Mayer film Mighty Manhattan – New York’s Wonder City (via Viewing NYC) you get to see some of the iconic sights of New York City in full technicolor. If you can handle the quintessentially mid-century voiceover by James A. Patrick, apparently known then as “The Voice of the Globe,” the cultural generalizations, and the patriotism, you can then revel in New York as it was nearly 70 years ago.

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Second Avenue Subway Construction-Urban Explorers-Untapped Cities-2014-NYC-004

We recently received a “Christmas gift” of photographs from an anonymous group of urban explorers who had recently made it into the Second Avenue Subway construction. At Untapped Cities, we’ve been going down into the subway construction (legally) and photographing the progress since 2011. You can track how the subway tunnels looked at 96th Street as Phase One construction ended in 2011, the new connection being built at 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue in 2012, into “The Thunderdome” below 86th Street in 2013 and the latest progress this May. According one of the photographers in this anonymous group, “It was an amazing experience seeing the tunnels in its raw form & a once in a life time experience being able to see it.” Read on for more photos:

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Matt Taylor-Manhattan Only Accessed by Car-NYC

A highway engineer from Vancouver has done some serious math to calculate how many bridges would be needed in Manhattan if it could only be accessed by car. The result: it would need 48 additional 8 lane bridges. The Manhattan bridge has 7 vehicular lanes, 3 subway lanes, a walkway and a bikeway. By Matt Taylor’s calculations, 2.06 million enter and exit Manhattan daily, but only 16% currently drive by personal vehicle.

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