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Blog Posts by Subject: Midtown

Cubiculo Theatre: What’s in a Name?

Every neighborhood, street, and building in New York has a history. Sometimes all that is left is an obscure name. That is what has become of the Cubiculo Condominium at 414 West 51st Street, which is described on a real estate site as a fabulous brownstone penthouse duplex with 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths "right out of La Bohème but without all the coughing and the poverty." The condo in 

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Robot Dawn: The Stage Origins of a Sci-Fi Idol

Nothing is more strange to man than his own image. —Dr. Alquist, sole survivor of the robot rebellion.

It's standard sci-fi melodrama now: The robots evolve and become indistinguishable from their creators. They rise up and in their revolt decide to eradicate the human race. Sound familiar? Well, before you start looking for Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's not 1984 and we're not in a movie theatre. The year is 1922 and it's all happening live on stage in an Off-Broadway 

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Tell Me More: How Can I Find Out About This Sculpture?

A recent question at the reference desk was how to find more about the sculpture of the large button threaded with a needle that stands in the Garment District of New York City at 7th Avenue and 39th Street. This query reminded me of a previous

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Library Way

Ask NYPL gets a lot of questions about the sidewalk on Library Way. If you haven't seen it before, on your next trip to the main building on Fifth Avenue, be sure to approach from the east and

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Changing the Changing City

Seeking further enlightenment into the city we call home, I recently took a class on the literary and cultural history of New York City. Among the many themes common to New York City novels we discussed was the portrayal of the city itself as a character with power to shape the lives of its citizens.

Many of us New Yorkers have felt this pressure in our own lives: we choose where to live based on our budgets, our hobbies, our family situation, and often our ethnic, linguistic or religious 

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You are here: 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue in 1857

I am at the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. According to plate 78 of my map atlas—Williams Perris’s 1857 “Maps of the City of New York”—the massive (2) block long stone structure at the southwest corner of this Manhattan intersection is not the ... Read More ›

The Earth and Us: Getting Out to Celebrate Earth Day

Forty years of Earth Days... and each year we are encouraged to do something green. How are you doing with that? I've made a few changes—am making fewer copies, reusing paper, recycling lots of stuff. And today I shall eschew plastic bottles: it's just that superb NYC tap water for me. 

This morning I celebrated by walking through the alluring pedestrian plazas New York City created last year, midtown on Broadway. The beige gravel mimics sand, lending a beachy vibe. And, I just 

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A Mystery in Astor Hall

I recently received a research question that posed a bit of an unusual mystery. The question was why John Jacob Astor, a founder of the library, was listed as a benefactor on one of the Astor Hall marble columns not once, but twice.

The question sent me over to Astor Hall to investigate, where I found the first four benefactors listed as John Jacob Astor, William Backhouse Astor, James Lenox, and John Jacob Astor, in that order. Hmm, a mystery indeed.   To answer the question, I began with the first issue of the ... Read More ›

J.P. Morgan: The Financier as Collector-Slide Lecture with Jean Strouse on Wed, Oct 28th @ 6:30 @ the Mid-Manhattan Library

The largest cultural institutions of New York City like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The American Museum of Natural History and New York Public Library, were established in the latter half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. There was a major push among the wealthiest Americans to establish a cultural identity of our own. We were a young country, bereft of the cultural lineage that existed in Europe. Despite America’s youth we showed ourselves to be a vast country, devoted to the dollar, with seemingly room for little else. But men, like J.P. Morgan 

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Crystal Palace at Reservoir Square

On today's map you wouldn't have a clue as to where the Crystal Palace at Reservoir Square was located. Looking at a William Perris' fire insurance map from 1853 however reveals that, where now stands our magnificent central library on the corner of 5th 

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Researching New York City History

This Friday, the Milstein Division will be offering a free class on the best online resources to use in researching New York City’s history. I invite all students, history buffs and library lovers to come to the Humanities and Social Sciences Library to find out more about all the databases and websites used to research the people and the events that contributed to our city’s history. For this month’s class, I’ll be focusing on the history of this library’s immediate neighborhood – from the Crystal Palace and the Croton Reservoir to the 

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One topic that we can all agree is interesting: good cheap eats around Mid-Manhattan

One topic that I know everyone here at Mid-Manhattan Library is into, and that I’d really like to get a good discussion started about, is something near and dear to everyone’s heart - in fact, according to staff at our Health Information Center, it is located directly below the cardiac muscle. The topic is food, and where to get a good cheap square meal in this neighborhood.

I myself have a few regular lunch stops, listed here in no particular order:

Curry Dream - 66 West 39th (btw. 

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‘Tis the season to have an affective disorder

Christmas has returned to Midtown again. We all know the holiday tableau – the brightly twinkling lights, the piping hot hot chocolate, the carefree skating in the park, and the happy shoppers thronging the streets overflowing with song and good will towards men. Being in Midtown is like living inside a snow globe.

And yet, to many New Yorkers, all this cheer feels terribly out of synch with an inescapable melancholy. Maybe it’s the incessant drone of canned X-mas tunes spooling out of the loutspeakers in Bryant Park, or the frozen spit on the sidewalk, 

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