Execution Rocks Lighthouse-Long Island Sound-Bronx-Sands Point-Great Neck-Port Washington-Tour 111

We’re excited to announce our second annual tour, on June 11th, to Execution Rocks, a storied lighthouse in Long Island Sound, not far from City Island and Hart Island in the Bronx.

According to popular lore (and still claimed by the Travel Channel), Execution Rocks was named because of the executions that took place there under the British authorities before the American Revolution, who chained prisoners to the rocks at low tide to be drowned. There is no historical evidence that this is true, though a serial killer claimed to have done some of his macabre deeds near the island in 1920. The official history of the island’s naming refers to the dangerous passage for ships around the rocks at low tide.

The lighthouse was designed by architect Alexander Parris, who also built Boston’s St. Paul’s Cathedral and Quincy Market. The original granite for the lighthouse was quarried from Manhattan in 1840, excavated in the construction of the Hotel Continental, located at Broadway and 41st Street, and brought out to Long Island Sound by barge. The granite lighthouse tower went up in 1849 and the lighthouse keeper’s house was built in 1867, in a neoclassical style.

The tour, which we’re producing in partnership with New York Adventure Club, is led by a Philadelphia-couple who has been lovingly restoring Execution Rocks after buying the decaying lighthouse from the United States government for $1 in 2009. More details below:

Kosciuszko Bridge-Newtown Creek-Queens-Brooklyn-Untapped Cities-NYCThe current Kosciuszko Bridge next to the construction of its replacement

Eight years ago, in the face of an overwhelming consensus in favor of a complete replacement of the Kosciuszko Bridge, New York state’s Historic Preservation Office undertook a review to determine the structure’s historic and cultural value, stating:

“It is our opinion that the rehabilitation of the existing bridge – which represents a significant and unusual variation of the Warren truss type bridge – is a prudent and feasible alternative to demolition.”

Up to that point, no group of any stature had spoken up and declared that the bridge was worth saving. But this is how it usually goes for the Kosciuszko Bridge. The reactions that it evokes tend to lie along a spectrum of disinterest to disdain.



In an age when academics and scientists love to talk about breaking down departmental silos, blurring the barrier between town and gown, and cross-disciplinary synergy, an island might seem an odd place to site an applied sciences campus. But it is on Roosevelt Island‘s meager 150 acres that Cornell University is doing just that. In partnership with Israel’s Technion Institute, Cornell won a city-led competition to develop a science- and technology-focused university campus within the five boroughs.

Since breaking ground in January 2015, construction on the first phase of the campus has sped along at a surprising clip, and it is set to open to students in the fall of 2017. Last week, Open House New York invited two of the architects behind the campus’s SOM-designed master plan to lay out what’s happened thus far and what we can expect in the coming years.


Hart Island-Potters Field-Mass Burial Ground-The Bronx-NYC-2

We’ve covered the fascinating, morbid, and tragic history of Hart Island, New York City’s “potter’s field,” or mass burial ground since 1869, and even interviewed a resident who was housed in a rehab center there in the 1970s. Now, a recent New York Times exposé reveals even more stories and secrets of Hart Island, located in Long Island Sound off the Bronx, the final resting place to over one million of the city’s unclaimed, unidentified or forgotten residents. Combining new information with historical ones we’ve covered in the past, we present the secrets of Hart Island.


Whispering Bench-Columbia University-Low Library-Avery Hall-NYC-2

Whispering galleries and benches are well-documented phenomena (science!), but it’s something that still gets even jaded New Yorkers excited. The Whispering Gallery at Grand Central Terminal is probably the most famous (and over run) and the one in Shakespeare’s Garden in Central Park, the Charles C. Stover Bench the more recent cool kid in the bunch. But there’s another bona fide whispering bench we just tested, located at Columbia University between Low Library and St. Paul’s Chapel. 


Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Studio-New York Studio School-Greenwich Village-Macdougal Alley-NYCGertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Studio, New York Studio School, NY. Photo by Lexi Campbell.

A new series of monthly tours has just been announced for the historic Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Studio, the first location of the Whitney Museum of Art. This will be the first time in its history that the studio complex is open for public display. Run by the New York Studio School, the 45 minute tour will cover how the art collection started in the Whitney Studio and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s role was in the contemporary American art movement. The Metropolitan Museum of Art famously rejected Whitney’s Modern art collection and a donation to maintain it, and according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Whitney’s work to showcase American art at this studio spurred the modern art movement in the United States.