This is a map of Broncks’ New York from 1639 by Cartographer Johannes Vingboons. Notice the spelling of “Staten Eylante.” Image via Library of Congress
On December 3rd 1641, Jonas Bronck, a Danish immigrant to New York City, bought about 500 acres of land above Manhattan.
According to the Bronx Historical Society, the first settlement is in modern day “Mott Haven” by East 138th street. The area was initially a part of Westchester county. The annex onto NYC was spurred by regular railroad service between the Bronx and Manhattan that started in 1841. Jonas Bronck’s original purchase was all farmland, and the area stayed that way until it became a part of New York City in 1895. People would always say they were “going to the Broncks’,” so the name stuck. (more…)
Recently, Untapped Cities reader Rachel Potter submitted the following preservation query to our mailbag:
I have a question about landmark preservation rules – recently I saw the article about the ‘64 World’s Fair [in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park] and the decision whether to restore or demolish them. I also learned that JFK’s Pan Am Worldport is being torn down. I’m confused though, since both of these sites have historic landmark status, how is it possible to demolish them? Isn’t the point of landmark status to ensure their preservation in the midst of projected redevelopment?
On the night of Sept. 1 1858, a mob of villagers stormed the grounds of the quarantine station on Staten Island and set fire to almost all of the buildings in the hospital complex. Image via Public Health Chronicles.
In 1858, before Staten Island consolidated with the rest of New York City, the New York Marine Hospital housed around 1,500 persons suffering from infectious diseases. The practice of medicine was in a less sophisticated state and in the 19th century this was the City’s best defense against new diseases, such as smallpox, cholera, typhus and yellow fever. While quarantine is a practice that strictly limits the civil and human rights of an otherwise “free” person, the architecture of the City’s many islands reflect this once mainstream practice. On September 1, 1858 the site was burned down in a mob protest that stemmed from community outrage about the hazards of housing a quarantine hospital of this scale in what was essentially their backyards. (more…)
For more than half its life, Lower Manhattan’s iconic Woolworth Building has been off-limits to all but the lucky few employed in its handful of professional office spaces. While the lobby has been technically closed to the public since World War II, the management doubled down on its policy after 9/11, erecting the infamous “TOURISTS ARE NOT PERMITTED” sign much bemoaned by local architecture buffs.
On Wednesday, January 22nd at 6:30pm, we’ll be offering readers the chance for intimate, hour-long tour led by Jason Crowley, a preservationist and architectural historian who is working to digitize and catalogue the extensive collection of Woolworth Building archives. You will not only get to see the famous lobby, but also the vault of the former bank and past entrances to subway lines in the basement of the building.
Jason will lead us across the street to City Hall Park where we’ll examine the highly ornamented exterior of what was once the tallest building in the world. After discussing the Woolworth’s crucial importance to the development of the skyscraper and the New York City skyline, Jason will take us into the lobby, where he’ll share commentary on the vaulted ceilings and sculptural details.
Following the tour, Untapped Cities history columnist Benjamin Waldman will lead guests to an optional cocktail hour at Fraunces Tavern. While you mingle with other members of the Untapped community, Ben will be on hand to discuss the evolution of New York City’s skyscrapers from Trinity Church to the World Trade Center, as well as the zoning changes they’ve necessitated.
Tour has limited capacity. Tickets available for tour only, tour and cocktail-hour Q&A, or cocktail-hour Q&A only.
See more of Untapped Cities’ upcoming events here.