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This year President’s Day comes on the heels of the coldest night of the winter, a fitting time to remember that one of our favorite president’s, Teddy Roosevelt, once kicked thousands of homeless people into the streets.

The story begins with Jacob Riis and his puppy. Riis is best known for his photo essay, How the Other Half Lives, a damning expose New York’s tenements. But before he was a famous social reformer, the Danish immigrant was on hard times himself, struggling with homelessness in the 1870s.

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NYC Flour Riot of 1837

“This is the most gloomy period which New York has ever known. The number of failures is so great daily that I do not keep a record of them, even in my mind.”  – Philip Hone

New York City was on rough times in the 1830s, visited in succession by plague, fire and famine. In 1832, nearly 4,000 people died of a cholera epidemic that lasted for months, causing half the population to flee the city and devastating the local economy. During the winter of 1835, a blazing fire went up on Pearl Street. The volunteer fire department, decimated in recent years by cholera, exhausted by a fire the previous night and working with frozen pipes, was helpless to put out the flames, which consumed 700 buildings, virtually all of downtown Manhattan. The insurance companies were bankrupted by the unprecedented damaged, with local banks following suit. The collapse of the banks froze business lending and helped spark the Panic of 1837, in which stock prices, the real estate market bottomed out and even crops were devastated by bad weather.It was the worst depression in American history until the Great Depression a century later.

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art-of-style-kit-mills-fight-scarf

We’ve all seen unsavory actions go down on public transit. Trains and busses have their fair share of unpleasantries, but the subway is a special underworld into which we creatures of the light must descend in order to emerge, blinking and disoriented, in another part of the city. A few stations have fought valiantly and banished it, but a dark beast still rules uncontested over vast territories of the underground. The name of the beast is No Phone Service.

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The Artist known as Art 1 exhibiting at the LeRoy Neiman Art Center in 'Changing the Game'

The Artist known as Art 1 exhibiting at the LeRoy Neiman Art Center in ‘Changing the Game’

This weekend, New York is all about basketball from the Barclays Center to Madison Square Garden, the Apollo Theater to the free Kanye West concert at Flatiron Plaza. But art is also part of the equation during NBA All Star Weekend, and one of the exhibits includes the artwork of not only local artists, but the players and their families.

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NYC abounds in its wealth of iconic museums, obscure museums and more. Which takes the prize for aging gracefully against the test of time? Discover the ten oldest museums in New York City in our list below.

1. The New-York Historical Society (211 years)

annabrown_untappedcities_historicalsocietyPhoto by The New York Historical Society via the Hathi Trust Digital Library

The New-York Historical Society Museum and Library, founded in 1804, takes the title of oldest museum in New York City. The Society changed locations eight times until 1902, when construction began on its present building on 170 Central Park West. The photo above shows the Society’s building in 1908. See past exhibits and events at the NYHS.

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Holographic Studios-Gallery Laser Laboratory NYC-009

On 26th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues is the Holographic Studio, one of the more obscure, off-the-beaten path museum-like spots in New York City. The Holographic Studios is a gallery and laser laboratory run by Jason Sapan, an expert in holography who worked with laser technologies for Bell Labs in the 1960s. The Holographic Studio is the only known storefront holography gallery and laboratory in the world. It’s also the oldest holographic gallery in the world, and the laboratory sits in subterranean space below. Recently, the New York Adventure Club took a private tour of the space, in a building that was once home to a blacksmith, and later a Medical Instruments manufacturer that made OBGYN products for Bellevue Hospital nearby.

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