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This article is by Jack Kelly, the author of Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal (St. Martin’s Press), a lively account of the canal and the many excitement generated along its banks that was published in July.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Erie Canal made the Big Apple. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, a number of cities were competing to be the nation’s greatest port and commercial center. That honor depended on tapping the abundant supply of grain, lumber and other resources of the vast Middle West. The audacious, 360-mile waterway that New York State built between 1817 and 1825 solidified New York’s claim, pushing the city ahead of New Orleans, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Today, signs of that great project are scattered around New York, although the city itself is the greatest symbol of the canal’s phenomenal success.

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Radio Row-Cortlandt Street-Manhattan-NYCPhoto via NYPL

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Four-Seasons-Restaurant-Phillip-Johnson-Seagram-Building-Park-Avenue-Mies-van-der-Rohe-NYC-001

The Four Seasons Restaurant, in its iconic original incarnation at the Seagram Building closed on July 16th. Tomorrow at 10am, Wright’s auction of its mid-century interior decor and serving items will begin in the Pool Room of the restaurant. Fortunately, because the building is an interior and exterior landmark, the interior will remain in its fundamental form.

The interior of the restaurant was designed by Philip Johnson with tableware and cookware by Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable, special-ordered Knoll furniture, and custom designs by Johnson, Eero Saarinen, and Mies van der Rohe, who designed the Seagram Building.

Here are some highlights from the upcoming auction:

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The Pierre Hotel Rotunda RoomRecently restored Rotunda room at The Pierre Hotel

The newly renovated Rotunda Room in The Pierre Hotel, was unveiled on July 12th. This oval, central room within the 86 year-old hotel has been used for everything from wedding ceremonies, film shoots, to afternoon tea. But it wasn’t until 1967, when The Pierre became a co-op with 75 full-time residences and a hospitality company running the 189 guest rooms, that artist Edward Melcarth (1914-1973) was commissioned to paint the famous trompe l’oeil Rotunda Room murals. His Renaissance murals had a few surprising images standing alongside mythical figures, and included prominent people in New York society, who were not all pleased with their image being painted on the hotel walls.

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Top 10 Radical Places-Occupy Wall Street-Financial District-Manhattan-Jarrett LyonsOccupy Wall Street via Michael Fleshman on Flickr

From the Occupy Movement to Stonewall and all the way back to the Suffragette movement, New York City has been a center of political change. Since the Europeans first arrived in New York, movements have developed both inside homes and out on the streets and in other public spaces. Here are 10 spaces to check out and explore NYC’s radical past as you wander the city.

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Untapped Cities and the NYCEDC will host a special tour of the normally off-limits Seaview Hospital on Staten Island on August 13th at 11 am, a landmarked property that that still functions as a city-run long term care facility, as part of our Behind the Scenes NYC Tour Series.

Sea View Hospital was once the pride of the city’s health care system, built at great cost to combat tuberculosis. In fact, it was the most expensive city-owned health care facility. On this walking tour led by Munro Johnson, Vice President of Development at NYCEDC, see how abandoned buildings and active ones sit side by side at this historic hospital. Climb to the top of the abandoned Children’s Hospital, frequently featured in television shows like Gotham and Boardwalk Empire, step inside the network of tunnels that connect the buildings at Sea View and inside some of the abandoned spaces within the buildings. Learn the development plans for this unique site, the preservation efforts that have already been undertaken and are underway, and how the site connects to the Staten Island Greenbelt.

Here are some additional images of what you will see on this tour:

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