Tearing down the sculpture of King George in Bowling Green (though many details of the scene are off)
Revolution was coming. The American Continental Congress, sensing the inevitability of a break from the British Empire and the ensuing war, had called George Washington, the head of the Continental Army, to come down to New York from Boston. Even though New York’s population of 20,000 was only the seventh largest in the colonies, Washington considered the city of “infinite importance,” as British control of its ports and waterways would “stop the intercourse between the northern and southern colonies, upon which depends the safety of America.” On April 13, 1776, Washington and his revolutionary army rolled into town.
The story of New York City’s ballrooms form one facet of the city-wide story of a changing entertainment industry and real estate market. Many of the iconic music venues survived Prohibition, only to be taken down by the advent of radio and television. The large spaces necessitated diversification of events and venues, causing their musical cache to fall as real estate pressures were rising. This list of New York City’s ballrooms include those lost, those still standing and those converted, as well as new ballrooms adapted from other types of spaces. Not all were music venues, but all have a unique story to tell as part of the city’s history. Here are 12 historic ballrooms:
The Smith-9th Street Bridge as “Spectrum II” from George Del Barrio, Vanderbilt Republic
From tonight until January 23rd, the Smith-9th Street bridge transforms from its typical concrete structure to a background of colorful pattern. A half-mile wide and 90-feet tall “photographic monument” drenches the bridge as George Del Barrio, of creative agency Vanderbilt Republic, and San Francisco-based Colin Bowring, “Spectrum II” project a beam of lights on the concrete bridge.
Image by Miska Draskoczy
Gowanus is a neighborhood of inconsistencies: its booming real estate market makes it the next hot destination in Brooklyn, while its polluted canal could give a person ecoli, dysentery, and cancer. Upscale restaurants and art galleries are popping up on its streets, yet two blocks away one finds garbage piled up against corrugated tin walls, demarcating a warehouse or a car yard, or maybe the next big housing development.
Miska Draskoczy revels in the area’s contradictions in his photography series “Gowanus Wild.” His photos, taken over the course of two years, try to find the beauty in what many consider to be an industrial wasteland. Draskoczy writes:
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the City of New York took the initiative to improve inter-borough connectivity by building several bridges. What were huge engineering feats at the time are now landmarks of the city. We’ve collected some vintage photographs showing different aspects of how the bridges were mid-construction.
Image via Wikimedia Commons (c. 1872-1883)
We all know that the Brooklyn Bridge is important. But, did you know that upon completion in 1883, rumors of collapse sparked a stampede that killed 12 people? New Yorkers love their bridges, especially this one that paved the way for connecting the five boroughs.
We’ve been noticing a fun trend recently. Plays, as in theater pieces, particularly about urban history and transformation. First there was The Eternal Space about the demolition of the original Penn Station. Now, the ever creative Jeff Stark behind Nonsense NYC and Empire Drive In movie theater, is doing a site-specific work about the Gowanus Canal. And it’s ever so timely because big changes are coming to Gowanus as it transforms from artist hotspot amidst industrial warehouses to superfund site with a newly renovated subway station at Smith-9th Street, a forthcoming “Sponge Park” and lots of development underway.