A vintage double decker bus of the Fifth Avenue Coach Company. Image Source: Flickr.com by the MTA
Fifth Avenue has it all: opulent retail, national embassies, corporate headquarters–but no Subway line. Why is this? Not only is there no line now (and no plans for one in the future), but no elevated trains or trolleys have ever operated on one of the world’s grandest thoroughfares. In fact, the avenue’s transit history is one of the most complex of any street in New York City. (more…)
“A new map of the City of New York,” 1831 via New York Public Library Map Division
Though most people’s association with legendary writer Herman Melville may be of sailing the high seas in search of the “White Whale”, the Moby Dick author was actually quite the urbanite, spending the majority of his life living in what he refers to as “the insular city of the Manhattoes” (an extinct term referring to Manhattan’s native American inhabitants). Melville’s connection with New York City is so strong in fact that we’ve compiled a list to show how the inspiration of some of his greatest works can be found right here on the streets we walk today. Remarkably though, almost every landmark on this list has completely vanished and has since been replaced by a commercial retail space of some sort. With that, read on to learn more about the vanished locations that inspired some of the finest works of literature in the American canon. This list was also aided in no small part by Poets.org‘s brilliant Herman Melville walking tour, which can be seen here. (more…)
Arsenal Building, 1914. Image via The Library of Congress
The Central Park Arsenal, at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue, is one of the two buildings (the other being the Blockhouse) left in the park that predate the park’s formation. Although its medieval architecture doesn’t quite match the park’s aesthetic, the 167-year-old Arsenal has survived multiple demolition attempts by providing a diverse array of functions, from its original usage as a state munitions facility, to the site of the Museum of Natural History, to its current role as home to the Department of Parks and Recreation and headquarters of the Central Park Zoo.
In the book New York City in the Gilded Age, Esther Crain, founder of the website Ephemeral New York, supported by the New York Historical Society, explores how New Yorkers’ lifestyle and the architecture of the time influenced each other. From the late 1860s up until the beginning of the 1900s, Crain delves into the expansion of the city, the construction of monuments, and common street scenes. Her details range from the popularity of brownstone houses in the 1860s and 1870s to the creation of the Broadway theater district that New Yorkers are familiar with. (more…)
View of Central Park Zoo, 1880. Image via The Library of Congress.
The city legislature never commissioned for the city to have a zoo in the mid 1800s, nor was it part of the original plan for Central Park. Instead, the Central Park Zoo formed in the 1860s when New Yorkers began donating their unwanted pets to the city, and circuses needed a place to store their animals. From the donation of one black bear cub in 1859 and 72 white swans, a menagerie opened in the park for the public’s enjoyment. The menagerie’s collection of animals continued to grow to include deer, foxes, parrots, and even cows along with others. The collection became a series of small, outdoor, fenced in spaces. In the center of the menagerie, a sea lion pool was added, which although being renovated, exists in the same place today.
Today The New York Times has not only the origin of the Central Park Zoo but also a document which reveals the “curious list of people who donated animals” ranging from powerful men to children with “no ties to power or fame.” We’ve decided to follow up their piece with an installment of vintage photographs from the Central Park Zoo.
“Seaport of the Bronx,” the bridge that connects City Island to the mainland. Photo by JosephA/Flickr.
You don’t need a ferry to get to City Island, the small island east of the Bronx mainland, but it might help if you have a car, or don’t mind riding the bus. Once you cross the bridge into City Island you will feel a million miles from anything you know of as New York City. The atmosphere is ripe for a Cape Cod movie set: shingled storefronts, high-steepled churches, restaurants named after big-game fish and more. But first, a little history: