The Grand Lodge Room
We’ve always been curious about the Freemasons, and even more so about the Grand Lodge of New York situated on a bustling 23rd street in Chelsea. So that we could learn about the the ancient and mysterious fraternal order without joining, we toured their Masonic Hall, home to the Grand Lodge of New York (more formally the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons). Often thought of as a secret society, they actually boast a large flag in the middle of Manhattan and insist “Our big secret is that we have no secrets.” Nevertheless, no one is really sure of what goes on in this grand Masonic Hall unless they’re “in.”
On Sunday, October 19th at 4pm we’ll be hosting a walking tour with historian and author David Freeland through the remnants of the area of Manhattan once known as The Tenderloin. This area, which turned into the northern part of Chelsea, was home to New York City’s red light district, its dance clubs and gambling houses. Following the tour, we’ll be hosting an optional cocktail at the hidden speakeasy Bathtub Gin. In preparation for the event, we’ve interviewed David about what we’ll see on the tour and what some of his favorite Untapped finds are in the city.
Tell us about what the Tenderloin was like in its hey day and why it’s such an important part of NYC’s history
The Tenderloin peaked from the 1870s to the years just before 1910. By 1910, it was essentially over. The Tenderloin really could not have existed at any other time, and in few other places, within New York history. Why? It developed specifically as a shadowy outgrowth of the luxury hotel industry, which blossomed along Broadway and the upper 20s during the last decades of the 19th century–beginning with the opening of Gilsey House (where we will start our tour) in 1871. Money flowed into the area, thanks to the influx of wealthy businessmen from the provinces–who came to New York with money to spend, and who were always looking for “after-hours” recreational opportunities!
We previously rounded up 8 beautiful historic districts in Manhattan that were smaller than a block and we decided it was time to look at all of New York City. All the boroughs except Staten Island have historic districts smaller than a city block, as defined by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. We’ll go in order, from the smallest number of houses in the district.
This little historic district is really just a corner at the northwest corner of 89th Street and Lexington Avenue. In addition to this set of 6 buildings along Lexington Avenue, the district includes one narrow townhouse at 121 E. 89th Street. According to Ephemeral New York, Henry Hardenbergh, who designed the homes, “also designed the Dakota and the original Waldorf-Astoria on 34th Street.”
Join us and uncover the vestiges of The Tenderloin, also known as “Satan’s Circus” back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Picture classy men in top hats up to no good, for The Tenderloin was home to New York City’s brothels, dance clubs, and gambling houses. On October 19th, join us for a tour through the fascinating remains of The Tenderloin district and Tin Pan Alley with historian David Freeland. (more…)
Mike’s Coffee Shop. Image via Flickr: JSsocal
There are few things as characteristic of New York City as the luncheonette. These small, informal dining spaces used to dot the urban landscape as much as Starbucks does today. Although their cheap meals and neighborhood-friendly atmosphere are now far and few between, we’ve compiled this list of the best luncheonettes still in operation. So, in no particular order, here are our picks of the eight best luncheonettes in NYC that are still serving up great grub at good prices.
Some of the best comedy in this city can be found in back of a McDonald’s on 8th Avenue and West 26th Street. The Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theater, or “UCB,” started small, taking over a small strip club, and is now known as one of the finest improv theaters, with shows every night of the week featuring some of the funniest and most talented comic performers in the city. (more…)