Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Blog Posts by Subject: New York City History

A Helluva Town: The Origins of New York’s Hellish Place Names

"New York, New York, a helluva town. The Bronx is up but the Battery's down." —On the Town

With at least three "Hell" based place names within its boundaries—Hell Gate, Hell's Kitchen, and Hell's Hundred Acres—New York City is indeed a helluva town. But in spite of name and reputation, these places are now far from infernal.

Hell Gate  Hell Gate is the oldest place name of these three.  Dating back to New Amsterdam's Dutch colonial period, Hell Gate ... Read More ›

Tricky Menu Tips: Ditto Marks, Prices, and More

Wow. We're sitting here with our mouths agape, simply overwhelmed --and thrilled! -- by the response to What's on the Menu? We knew you guys liked food, but holy (broiled) mackerel!

We launched WOTM very quietly, just three days ago, and, as of this typing, we have over 22K dishes transcribed! And it's evident, from the emails and tweets we've been receiving, that we have some very enthusiastic participants out there. Thank you!

But as you may have noticed, each menu is very different. Each has its quirks and 

... Read More ›

Doin' the Dishes!

Saratoga ChipsCorned Beef Hash.  Large Pot of Oolong Tea

Okay, so they’re not included in the works of Shakespeare (as far as I know), but that doesn’t mean these dishes aren't of value to researchers and scholars and the generally curious who read menus in order to learn more about the food served and consumed in restaurants throughout history.

But until now this kind of information (the food!) was 

... Read More ›

NYC Reads: Books on the Subway

"I hope you are not here because you like to read." It was the opening salvo for my interview with the admissions director at the University of Maryland's Graduate School of Library & Information Services. I don't remember what, or if, I countered. It was 1967.

Answer or no answer I was admitted, matriculated, and graduated. After a long library career, I am now retired and a recent volunteer at NYPL. The admissions director is long gone, but I would like to reply. "I love to read. Did then, still do. And I love to know what people are 

... Read More ›

A Short History of the Kingsbridge Library

The Kingsbridge Library will soon be moving to a new building and as we start to plan for our move, I can't help but reflect on the long and rich history the Kingsbridge Branch has had through the years.

The Kingsbridge Library lends its beginnings to the Kingsbridge Free Library, established in 1894 and housed above Hecht's drugstore on what is now 230th St. between Kingsbridge Ave and Corlear Ave. It quickly became clear that the small space was not adequate and it grew even more imperative that the library needed a new and more 

... Read More ›

The Jefferson Market Courthouse/Library Archive: A Sneak Peek with Barbara Knowles-Pinches

Did you know that the Jefferson Market library has an archive of images, papers and press clippings dating back to the 1800s?  This collection of Greenwich Village history has recently been processed and made available to the public by archivist and librarian Barbara Knowles-Pinches, who began working at Jefferson Market in 2009.  The digitizing process has just begun; images and a finding aid will be available online in the near future. Here, Barbara tells us about some of her favorite items from the 

... Read More ›

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which took place 100 years ago today, was a tragic incident in New York City's history but also a turning point in the early labor movement.

One hundred and forty-six workers died, mostly young women from immigrant families. The fire was deadly because of the height of the building, the amount of fabric and flammable material inside, the lack of proper fire escapes, and exits that were locked to prevent workers from taking breaks. Many fell or jumped to their deaths. The tragedy brought greater awareness to sweatshop conditions, which led to 

... Read More ›

Beware of Zombies: The Grim Origins of Washington Square Park

Centered on Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village is a neighborhood made legendary by the world famous artists, musicians, and writers that have flourished and created within steps of its arch.  However, what lies beneath that splendid, recently re-landscaped and renovated outdoor sanctuary is a bit more morbid.  

In his 2003 book Around Washington Square, Luther S. Harris posed the question, “What had made 

... Read More ›

Hubert Harrison: Harlem Radical

Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry will discuss his book, Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918, Saturday March 5th 2pm @ Hamilton Fish Park Library.

"Hubert Harrison is the most significant Black democratic socialist of early-twentieth century America." —Cornel West 

... Read More ›

Any Given Sunday: The New York Jets and A Dream Placed on Hold

The dust has finally settled over New York City, there are no more time outs left to use, the clock has unfortunately hit zero, and the final score was 24-19. The season is over and with it the dream of a city is placed on hold for yet another season. The National Football League's New York Jets nearly pulled off what they as an organization have not been able to do since the 1969-1969 season with Broadway Joe Namath. They came close to 

... Read More ›

Jacob Wrey Mould: Architect of Central Park and Lyricist

Angel of the Waters Fountain and Bethesda Terrace, Central Park, New York City - photograph by Ahodges7, used under Creative Commons license from Wikipedia

Each week for many years, Christopher Gray has written the Streetscapes column for the Sunday edition of the New York Times, focusing on out-of-the-way stories of curiosity, beauty, 

... Read More ›

Dot, Dash, Splash, and Splatter: Abstract Expressionist New York @ MoMa

Pull out your black turtleneck and a beret! The Musuem of Modern Art presents through April 25, 2011 the exhibit Abstract Expressionist New York. Whether or not you think a painting by Jackson Pollock is a work of genius, or something your kid brother could easily do, this exhibit is a treat for the eyes. Suitable for the whole family, consider a visit sometime during or after the Holiday season.

The Abstract Expressionists (Arshile 

... Read More ›

As Patience and Fortitude Look Forward, They Leave Behind Their Wreaths

Update: Wreaths Returning to The New York Public Library’s Iconic Lions (12/05/13)

Visitors to the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building have been greeted for nearly 100 years by Patience, the proud lion statue which guards the south side of the main steps and Fortitude, guardian of the north side. Together, they are iconic and 

... Read More ›

A Tour of the Stacks

On Sunday, December 5, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building was the site of the 2010 Holiday Open House, the Library's annual thank-you celebration for donors at the Friends level ($40) or above. Besides enjoying building-wide party fun, attendees were offered a rare opportunity to glimpse a part of the Library that is normally hidden from public view: the building's central stacks 

... Read More ›

Charlotte Moorman meets the Wertheim Study

Nam June Paik, 'Robot K-456' and Charlotte Moorman (1964). Photo by Peter Moore @ Estate of Peter Moore/VAGA.NYNew York in the 1970s, without cellphones, the internet, globalization, etc., was a very different place and arguably more vibrant (though I'm glad Central Park isn't like it used to be.)  Photographer extraordinaire Peter Moore tirelessly went about the City capturing just about everyone and everything, and became particularly known 

... Read More ›

More Radical Women in the Wertheim Study

Food is a Feminist IssueTuesday is the second of the Wertheim Study scholars' lecture series: Singular and Collective: Radical Women Artists [in NYC during the 1970s].  This one, by Dr. Aseel Sawalha, is the collective part.  She's going to examine the scene from the perspective of anthropology, focusing on two women's arts collectives: The

... Read More ›

Thanksgiving Ragamuffin Parade

When searching for Thanksgiving images in our Digital Gallery, you might be surprised to find a set of about 20 images of Thanksgiving "ragamuffins."  Who are these young beggars and what do they have to do with Thanksgiving?

Before Halloween was the holiday known for dressing up in costume and begging for candy (this practice did not become common until the 1940's and 

... Read More ›

Survey and the City: An Imaginary Conversation With E.L. Viele

Egbert Ludovicus Viele (Vee-lee) was born June 17, 1825 in Waterford, New York. He was a member of Congress, U.S. Civil War Union Army officer and was commissioner of New York City parks from 1883 to 1884. The West Point graduate surveyed the island of Manhattan and was appointed engineer-in-chief of Central Park in 1856, and engineer of

... Read More ›

History of the St. George Library Center

Photo dated 1915, showing the now gone entrance and stairway leading up from the bottom of Hyatt Street. To the right is the long since demolished Tiedeman mansion, currently the site of the St. George Theater.A brief history of the St. George Library Center from pamphlet "St. George Library Center," 6/89:

"Ferry service between the Battery and Staten Island began in 1886. Soon afterward, a town developed around the ferry landing and up the slopes of Fort 

... Read More ›

Wertheim Study and the Allen Room writers celebrate Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Free public lectures in the South Court Auditorium by the writers and scholars of the Research Study Rooms began last week, and with a bang.

Distinguished historian and biographer Susan Butler spoke about her forthcoming book, Roosevelt and Stalin: Winning the War: Shaping the Peace.  For it, she discovered 300 unpublished hot-war messages, researched the Tehran and Yalta conferences, and we learned all sorts of things - 

... Read More ›
Previous Page 4 of 10 Next