Every day millions of New Yorkers walk along the miles of paved sidewalks, likely oblivious to the fact that walking city streets didn’t become a passtime until the mid-18th century in Europe when footpaths, tree lined walkways, and public parks made it fashionable for the upper class.
These footpaths along streets in London, Paris, Brussels and others were lined with wrought iron scrapers so people could wipe off excrement (think horse as the primary mover of the period) and mud. You certainly didn’t want to bring that into the house. There are still hundreds of boot scrapers left on the streets of New York City, making it a fun game to locate the different styles.
The Spring 1956 Edition of The Negro Travelers’ Green Book via The University Libraries Digital Collection
Whether traveling to a National Park or just driving down to the shore, road trips are an integral part of American culture. However, during the age of Jim Crow, African American travelers faced insurmountable hardships when trying to plan their road trips. In order to publicize the discrimination he faced and to help his fellow African American travelers, Victor Hugo Green published. The Negro Travelers’ Green Book (also known as The Negro Travelers’ Green Book or just The Green Book). The Green Book was published between 1936 and 1964 in order to provide African Americans a list of establishments in which they were welcome.
As Green was from Harlem, the book was originally New York focused, but eventually included much of North America. While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Heart of Atlanta Motel Supreme Court case made the book obsolete, the locations listed still possess incredible historical meaning.
Listed below are five New York City sites that were welcoming to African American travelers in an age when that was revolutionary.
The Palmrya Arch replica, in Trafalgar Square in April, will come to New York City. Photo via Flickr by Garry Knight
The monumental Arch of Palmyra in Syria was a UNESCO World Heritage Site from the 3rd century AD until it was destroyed by ISIS in October of 2015. The triumphant Roman archway was thought to have been built as part of a military victory. In April this year, the Institute for Digital Archeology installed a replica, to scale, in London’s Trafalgar Square. On September 19th, the Institute will bring the Arch of Palmyra replica to New York City, in a yet to be determined location in Manhattan.
Even before something like the Brooklyn Strand gets put into action, a unique greenery installation is coming to downtown Brooklyn: a miniature redwood forest. At 1:100 scale, the Brooklyn artist Spencer Finch will install a living, micro forest representing 790 acres of the Redwood National Park in California at MetroTech from October 1st this fall to May 13, 2018. Trees that in real life range from 98 to 380 feet will be 1 to 4 feet, and supported by a special irrigation system made for the urban landscape.
Jim Power, the Mosaic Man, at a recent fundraiser at T D Bank in the East Village
The East Village and its eclectic history is a topic of music, books, documentaries, and those who are left to keep it alive. This week, we visited with Jim Power, also known as The Mosaic Man, and one of the East Village’s most eclectic treasurers. Ten of Power’s historic Mosaic Trail light poles will be used in the Astor Place redesign, which is scheduled to conclude next month. Last week, the Village Alliance, City Lore and several community friends and activists held a “Meet the Artist” in the East Village TD Bank in an effort to gain the necessary funds to finish the restoration and bring the rest of the mosaics back.
It’s happened to all of us. That moment when you want to know what bus you can connect to, but it’s not on your subway map. In fact, you might have to download a whole separate app to get New York City’s bus map. Well, a Queens resident, Anthony Denaro, has created a master map that includes subways, bus, and AirTrain, called the Bullet Map (h/t Streetsblog).