Image via New York Insolite Secréte
We previously covered Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street, where George Washington gave his farewell address in 1783, in our roundup of Presidential Haunts in New York City. But did you know Fraunces Tavern is also home to one of George Washington’s teeth and a lock of his hair? Washington had one tooth left when he was sworn in as the first President of the United States, and this solitary tooth was holding together a set of dentures made of cow’s tooth, gold, Washington’s teeth and ivory of a hippopotamus. (Contrary to a popular misconception that he had wooden dentures).
Untapped Cities is excited to announce a new weekly column of vintage photos. The inaugural edition presents a slideshow of vintage photographs of the American Museum of Natural History, one of the most beloved institutions in New York City. The pictures featured in the slideshow range from 1911 to 1969. During this time period, the museum acquired many of the famous halls and exhibitions that we know and love today, including the Hall of Ocean Life (home of the giant, hanging whale) and the Hall of African Mammals.
Learn more about the history of the museum in our article about the restoration of its Theodore Roosevelt murals and go behind the scenes in the museum’s studio.
All of the pictures featured in the slideshow are courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History. If you have vintage photos you’d like to share, we’d love to see them!
While the New York Public Library’s landmark building near Bryant Park will undergo extensive remodeling in the near future, let’s go over some fun facts of this prominent Beaux-Arts architecture.
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building was built on the site of the old Croton Reservoir at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The Reservoir was completed in 1842 to hold water from the Croton River and torn down by the 1890s, and by 1902 the cornerstone was laid for the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Now you can still see the remains of the reservoir from the lower levels of the South Court (the red, rough bricks under the staircases.)
When the building completed construction in 1911, it was the largest marble building ever built in the U.S. at the time. With exterior marble facing 12 inches thick and cornerstone weighting 7.5 tons, the building uses 530,000 cubic feet of white Vermont marble, which was more than six times the marble used in the New York Stock Exchange and the New York Chamber of Commerce combined.
The Main Hall of the Library
I can see how the visitor’s first glimpse of the Museum of the American Gangster, located in a former speakeasy on St. Mark’s, could be a bit bemusing. For the most part, the Museum of the American Gangster is dominated by scores of black and white photos and an assortment of memorabilia that probably don’t signify much to an outsider. However, these are hardly just bits and bobs that once belonged to the likes of Al Capone. Even the smallest object tells a riveting tale of the truth about gangsters, which generally has little resemblance to what history books and the movies might have told you. It’s the Museum of the American Gangster’s mission to dispel the myths about gangsters. (more…)
The Mona Lisa left its home in the Musée du Louvre during World War II and traveled all over France, moving from one hiding place to the next. Museum curators sent each other secret messages over the BBC; “La Jaconde a le sourire” (“The Mona Lisa is smiling”) meant that the painting had arrived at its clandestine destination safe and sound. In the fall of 1939, the painting rode from Chambord to Louvigny in an armored van flanked by two escort vehicles. A museum curator sat next to the Mona Lisa—which had been carefully packed onto an ambulance stretcher—and watched over her, the way a worried father might watch over his ailing daughter. At some point during the ride, the curator started to feel woozy, and he nearly fainted as he climbed out of the van in Louvigny. His prized companion, however, was still smiling her mysterious smile; she had made it through the trip unharmed.[i]
This is an excerpt from a guest post by Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young for Shutterstock.
In New York City, street name signs account for only 19% of the millions of signage in the five boroughs. In 1793, systematic house numbering and street signs, known as “direction boards” for horsecars, were introduced to “rationalize [New York] City’s built environment.” Other early street signs in New York were hand-chiseled onto the corners of buildings, like in Paris. In Paris, historic preservation sensibilities have led to the retention of earlier inscription designs, now incorporated into laser cut plaques. These new signs are placed above or around the old chiseled signs, leading to a visual documentation of the history of street names. Today, the increasingly rare chiseled signs in New York also capture the evolution of street names here, such as the renaming of Macomb Street in Brooklyn to Garfield Place in 1883 following President Garfield’s assassination.