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Blog Posts by Subject: New York City History

Evacuation Day: New York's Former November Holiday

A once-annual holiday local to New York City, Evacuation Day was formerly equal in importance to the Fourth of July. Referring to the evacuation of British troops from New York City following the Revolutionary War, the celebration of the troops’ departure was observed yearly throughout the early 20th century. Read More ›

Absolute Sale! NYC Land Auction Catalogs in the Map Division

Nearly one hundred land auctioneering pamphlets from the 1860s to 1920s and covering the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn were digitized this past year. With their richly designed covers, these promotional brochures provide modern day researchers with a window onto neighborhood development and changing patterns of land use in the city. Read More ›

More of Our Favorite, Most Absorbing, Compelling, and Pleasurable [True!] Tales of New York City… on Film

A few months ago, the NYPL Milstein Division of United States History, Local History & Genealogy put our collective local history obsessive minds together to bring you a list of our favorite NYC non-fiction books. Now we reveal our favorite New York documentaries. These documentary films best depict New York, either in moments or over lengths of time, providing a capsule of a New York experience.Read More ›

Class Act: Researching New York City Schools with Local History Collections

The history of education in New York City is fraught with strikes, moral stewardship, ethnic discrimination, caritas, religious debate, political bias, Fame, and Welcome Back, Kotter. This guide will serve as a springboard for researching primary and secondary school history at NYPL and elsewhere.Read More ›

A Digitized History of The New York Public Library

The History of the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations provides a thorough account of 19th century New York City libraries, their consolidation into a unified system, and the construction of NYPL’s central library (now known as the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building).Read More ›

TeachNYPL: Lists for Lesson Planning

From July 28-Aug 1 we welcomed our second group of teachers from NYC or our second annual Education Innovation @ NYPL Summer Institute.Read More ›

Play Strike! Exploring NYC Playgrounds Through Historical Newspapers

At the turn of the 20th century, children’s lifestyles were not quite what they are today. Child labor laws were not declared constitutional until 1938 and children largely socialized with their adult co-workers in dance halls, gambling dens, and gin mills. It was this children-as-adults culture that sparked the play movement, removing children from the “physical and moral dangers of the street” to playgrounds, under the direction of trained play leaders.Read More ›

From the Archives of the Century: The Century Foundation & NYC, Part II

My previous post detailed the Twentieth Century Fund’s relationship with New York City issues and its first task force on New York City’s economic troubles in the 1970s, the Task Force on Prospects and Priorities of New York City.Read More ›

August Author @ the Library Programs at Mid-Manhattan

Philosophical inquiry at the movies… a looming retirement crisis… familiar New York landmarks seen from unexpected angles… the birth of NYC’s power system… the language hoax… the hidden history of the mob in NYC… Tomorrow-Land, the 1964-1965 World’s Fair… the great Boston - New York subway race… the Kitty Genovese murder… the inventor of electric traction… the hospice movement… the makers of modern Manhattan…Read More ›

How to Find Historical Photos of New York City

Researchers commonly seek photographs of places in New York as they once existed in history. HistoryPin.com and WhatWasThere.Com have done admirable work in placing historic photos in their geographic context, however they represent but a fraction of available photos, and associated descriptive metadata can vary in accuracy and precision.Read More ›

July Author @ the Library Programs at Mid-Manhattan

Gangsters and true crime, New York City history, financial literacy, MacArthur, FDR, Khrushchev, Lindsay, Main Street, U.S.A., travel, learning and self-discovery, climate change, foreign policy, the collective afterlife, and great pizza are among the wide-ranging topics coming up at our Author @ the Library talks in July 2014! We hope you’ll join us for insightful discussions with the authors of these 

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Education Innovation @ NYPL Summer Institute for Teachers 2014: Integrating Primary Source Materials into Your Classroom

Love history and literature? Original archival documents? Are you interested in new ways to incorporate primary source materials into your lesson plans? NYPL is looking for you!Read More ›

Peeling Off The Painted Layers of NYC Walls: Experiments With The Google Street View Archive

As a web developer who works on a screen and an illustrator that works on paper, I have always admired those who could paint big—often on impossibly large and inconveniently placed walls—only to be erased in a matter of weeks or days. The ephemeral nature of street art is what makes it simultaneously appealing and frustrating as a viewer. However, Google Maps recently rolled out a feature allowing users to go back in 

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From the Archives of the Century: The Century Foundation & NYC, Part I

In 2012, the Manuscripts and Archives Division acquired the records of the Century Foundation, a non-partisan research institute based in New York City previously known as the Twentieth Century Fund and originally founded as the Cooperative League. Since its founding, the Century Foundation (TCF) has supported the creation and dissemination of progressive policy ideas through the funding of books, position papers, pamphlets, task forces, and conferences that address current issues faced in the United States economy and democracy. The Century Foundation records document the governance of the Read More ›

New York Punk Rock: A Basic History

The theme for Anti-Prom 2014 is New York Punk Rock. The golden age of punk rock in NYC was from 1974 to 1981. When clubs like CBGBs and Max's Kansas City ruled the scene and bands like Television, The Ramones, Blondie, Suicide and Patti Smith were its kings and queens. Read More ›

Historical Maps in Minecraft

At a recent internal hacking event here, NYPL Labs developer Paul Beaudoin recruited me into an interesting project: transforming one of the library's 20,000 digitized historical maps into the three-dimensional world of the building game Minecraft.

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Can You Help Find the Descendants of Seneca Village?

Anthropologists Diana Wall, Nan Rothschild, and Cynthia Copeland of the Seneca Village Project want to hear from "anyone who has heard family stories or has other reasons to believe that he or she is a descendant of residents of Seneca Village."Read More ›

Our Favorite, Most Absorbing, Compelling, and Pleasurable [True!] Tales of New York City

The Milstein Division of United States History, Local History & Genealogy recommends our favorite, most readable, most memorable New York City nonfiction. These are the true stories of New York that engaged us, that intrigued us, and that we thought you might like to read as well.Read More ›

Branch Special Collections

Several branches throughout the three boroughs have special collections that focus on local history or are of special interest to their respective communities.Read More ›

Palaces of Consumption: The History of Department Stores

A.T. Stewart opened New York City’s first department store in 1846. New Yorkers flocked to the palazzo style “Marble Palace," on Broadway between Chambers and Reade Street to browse through a wide array of merchandise arranged by department.Read More ›
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