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

Blog Posts by Subject: Manhattan

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 

... Read More ›

Manhattan Woman and 20,000 Slaves

Genealogical Ties That Bind.

African Burial Ground Map OverlayWe met at the Chambers Street IRT subway station — Lynn Jencks, descendant of an early Dutch family, and me, descendant of Lenape, Dutch and Africans. About 400 years ago, Dutch and enslaved Africans arrived into the ancient Algonquian wilderness that became New York City. Lynn, who lives in Illinois, had never been to the property owned by her ancestors and worked upon by slaves.

"Christopher guided me out of the subway and we emerged into the crisp clear December 

... Read More ›

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 theatre on 35th 

... Read More ›

Gilded Love: Stokes and Sargent

The last time I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, being classy, I literally stopped in my tracks when I saw this painting:

It's called Mr. and Mrs. I.N. Phelps Stokes and it was painted by

... Read More ›

Ghost Light: Illuminating Our City's Theaters: RKO Coliseum

A thing of beauty is a joy forever... — Keats

(quoted in opening night program, B. S. Moss' Coliseum Theatre, 1920)

The end of 2011 also brought the quiet demise of the last movie theater in WashingtonHeights, Coliseum Cinemas. Known to most residents as the RKO Coliseum, the large theater, occupying the entire corner of 181st and Broadway, has been a fixture of the neighborhood for over 90 years. As the community now debates the future of the Coliseum 

... Read More ›

The Book of Khalid Turns 100!

Deep inside the NYPL’s Bryant Park Stack Extension (known as BPSE to insiders — pronounced as “Bip-See”) lay many literary treasures and secrets; some are academically obscure and rare while others are widely known and read. The Book of Khalid by Ameen Rihani fits in 

... Read More ›

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

... Read More ›

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 ›

Jane McGonigal and NYPL present Find the Future: The Game

For 100 years, The New York Public Library's landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street and its world-renowned collections have inspired people everywhere to find their futures. In honor of the Centennial Celebration, pioneering game designer Jane McGonigal helped the Library kick off its Weekend Festival with Find 

... 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 ›

Life After English Class: Yoko's Story

Yoko and Jacqueline reading at a Learning CelebrationYoko, a former student from Japan, stopped by the Tompkins Square Library's Center for Reading and Writing to say hello.  I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions.    

How did you find the Center for Reading and Writing?

It was in 2003, November maybe.  I actually visited other libraries and I was looking for a conversation class.  I think I 

... 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 

... Read More ›

Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar

He is arguably the most recognized musician in New York City. The slight smile, patient and reassuring, that greets you every morning as you wait in line at the corner bodega for your coffee and bagel.

Regardless of socioeconomic class or race, from Bed-Stuy to The Bronx, from East Village to the Upper East Side, all New Yorkers know: Dan Smith will teach you guitar.     It is a simple and honest advertisement. Like most good advertising, it is very memorable.  Maybe it is so memorable because these ... Read More ›

Designing the City of New York: The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811

New York City’s wealth of good design is well known. Its streets are home to a plethora of artisans, graphic designers, fashion designers, architects, etc. who spend their days focused on creating objects, spaces, or experiences that are new, innovative and unique. These designers are often given a blank canvas of raw material—“what is”—onto which they must describe a vision—“what can be.”

Now imagine an urban designer given the monumental task of designing a plan for the orderly growth of a young metropolis. Home to 

... Read More ›

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 

... Read More ›

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 ›
Previous Page 2 of 2

Chat with a librarian now