The museums and beautiful grounds of most of these Long Island gold coast mansions have landed them on our list of the best things to do on Long Island in the summer. Check it out.
INTERVIEW: Gothamist’s Jake Dobkin on answering New Yorker’s burning questions in his latest book
POSTED TODAY, APRIL 10, 2019 BY EMILY NONKO
Jake Dobkin was born in Park Slope 42 years ago, and over those years he’s never left New York City for longer than 10 weeks. In 2003, he co-founded the website Gothamist with Jen Chung, which emerged as a popular culture and entertainment blog about all things New York. In the summer of 2013, Dobkin decided to channel his native knowledge and newsroom snark with the column Ask a Native New Yorker. The first installment addressed a question to make any New Yorker shudder, “Is It Normal For Roaches To Crawl Through My Hair At Night?” Since then, he’s tackled everything from amusing annoyances of city life to more serious issues like homelessness, gentrification, and who deserves a seat on the subway.
Dobkin ultimately adapted “Ask A Native New Yorker” into a book, which was just released a few weeks ago. Titled Ask A Native New Yorker: Hard-Earned Advice on Surviving and Thriving in the Big City, it contains answers to 48 new questions on New Yorker’s minds including if public transit will be messed up forever and why we complain so much. 6sqft spoke with Dobkin on why he started writing the column, how it’s changed over the years, and what’s ahead with a new book and Gothamist under the new ownership of WNYC. He also shares the best place to find a peaceful spot in the middle of the city.
I’m a fan of the column. It’s been around since 2013, right?
Jake: Yeah. The website has been around forever, since 2002. The column came out of years of talking smack to bloggers and editors. After a while, they were like, you could put your sarcastic commentary into a post so we can get page views. So I turned it into a column five or six years ago.
In the early days of the column, what was it like and how has it changed?
Jake: At the beginning it was more like raw sarcasm, biting native commentary. I was interested in local media here, where I don’t feel like there are that many natives. So my first priority was speaking for the ignored natives of New York.
After a while — once I got that out of my system — it became more helpful, sometimes more thoughtful. Over time, readers asked me to address more serious issues like gentrification, politics, housing, homelessness. There’s a time to be funny and a time not to be funny, and nobody wants to be humorous when you’re talking about the homelessness crisis of New York City. I had to learn, modulate, but still be authentic and keep the New York voice. Because otherwise what was the point, you know?
Can you talk a little bit more about that balance? What’s interesting about this column is there are really funny questions and other deeper questions about living in the city.
Jake: Fundamentally, New York can be a very challenging place to live. We New Yorkers have to develop our humor to just get through it. So that’s part of the voice. Also, New York is an incredibly rich and interesting and helpful place — we’re all in it together. Despite our reputation for being total assholes, New Yorkers are really helpful. Whenever there’s a big disaster you see the amazing character of New Yorkers helping each other. That’s part of what I see in the New York voice, and I wanted to make sure that was part of the column too.
Over the years, what have been some favorite columns?
Jake: This month I’ve been running some columns from the book. And the best, strangely, was: Why do New Yorkers walk so fast? It reminded me of how sometimes it’s just the little things. Every New Yorker has been in that situation of getting to work or drinks and you’re stuck behind tourists and there’s nothing you can do. That kind of stuff connects. You can use that silly, fun stuff to jump into more serious or interesting discussions of why are New Yorkers constantly late? Maybe it’s because the subway doesn’t work, or we’re working 80 hours a week to afford our apartments. You can really spin off, and I try in all the columns to eventually enlarge to a more universal idea.
You mention transit; that’s a theme and something New Yorkers are always talking about. What have the questions looked like around public transit over the years?
Jake: The subway is the crucible of which the New York character is formed. If you’re gonna lose your shit, you’re gonna lose it on the subway. It’s where all New Yorkers encounter each other and the borders of our society break down. At first, it was silly stuff, like washing your hands after you take the subway.
But it’s hard to talk about this stuff without getting into the more policial policy questions. Like, maybe the subway wouldn’t be so jammed if it worked better, if there was more funding, if our society wasn’t biased into putting its money into roads and bridges. A real New Yorker sees things cohesively, from the smallest thing it connects to the big questions.
So how did the book come to be?
Jake: After I had been doing it for a few years, people on the staff suggested I should print these. Eventually, agents and publishers reached out. At first, I was like, how about you take your favorite columns from the 150 I wrote and send me a check? [Laughs.] And they were like, how about not? How about you write 50 new columns?
At first, I couldn’t believe I’d have to start from scratch. But there were some topics that I addressed the first time and hadn’t really hit the Platonic ideal of that subject. So I feel like I was able to go back and made it stronger. The book is much stronger, quality wise, than the column.
Did you pull from a backlog of questions, or reach out for fresh questions?
Jake: It was a mix. On some topics, like housing questions, I had lots of questions to go back and use. Some questions come from staff or their friends. There were times I had to stitch things together from a few questions. With an advice column, sometimes a question comes in and it’s very particular, like specific details about the bedbugs in your Bushwick loft. For some, I needed to generalize a little bit.
How did you want to balance the book, hitting on different topics like housing or transit?
Jake: I saw it as a life cycle of birth to death of all the issues a New Yorker would face the moment they’re born here or arrive off the bus. Questions like, should you come here, should you live here? to how do you get around? How do you find an apartment? Eventually to things like friendships, relationships or getting married. I wanted it to be perennial, so the advice wasn’t based on a particular year. I wanted it to feel true 20 years from now.
You hit on something I love about this city, in that it’s always changing but there’s still something timeless about New York. Have you learned any lessons getting into the heads of New Yorkers and thinking through their questions?
Jake: The one lesson I’ve really drawn is that nostalgia is deaf. The thing that makes New York great is that it’s constantly changing. That also makes New York horrible and challenging. But New Yorkers who flourish here and are really happy adjust to that. Like the old people who are at the morning rave. And there’s something very hopeful about change. The things that were wrong, and weren’t good about the city, can be improved.
There’s a price to it. Like all natives, I get pissy when the bodega closes and I get gentrified out of my neighborhood. But there’s always more opportunities, more chances, and that’s not something you can say about all cities.
Have you learned anything about yourself, after stepping into this role answering questions?
Jake: I was a blogger for such a long time, and when I was younger I was a smartass. Always good for the biting remark or stupid tweet. I was an angry young man and getting that out led me into my career. But as a got older, after I had kids and worked with younger reporters, you do become wiser. It’s less important for me to be seen as really smart and clever. I prefer to be known as wise or kind.
So the column’s been a way to channel that?
Jake: Yeah, I feel like I really grew up writing that. I’m much more mature now, having done all this.
What’s the experience been like getting the book out into the world?
Jake: It feels good. We bloggers yearn for some permanence. Our art is that we start from scratch every single day. You feel like nothing you do lasts — it’s like the city, recreating something each day. But to have something to point to, being able to hold it, it’s something that represents the spirit of my life. I recommend it for everyone who writes for the internet.
There have been lots of changes with Gothamist joining WNYC. How are you moving into the future with the book and the site?
Jake: We’ve been incredibly lucky. WNYC is an amazing force of nature, so authentically New York. With us, it feels like a natural fit. Gothamist was always run as a Park Slope socialist workers collective and this place is run along very similar progressive “make the city better” lines. We’re lucky we got the chance to come back from the dead, which is not what all of our friends have gotten to enjoy. And the site is much better than it ever was before.
We’re going to do a podcast; you’ll hear more Gothamist journalists on the air and on radio, it’s going to be really multi-channel.
What’s a place that reminds you why you love the city?
Jake: I like rooftops. Especially ones that are off-limits. You know those panic bars that say “off limits” or “do not open?” I’ve noticed that almost always they’re disabled because the building staff likes to go up and smoke cigarettes. I’ve seen the city from so many different angles from the roofs of buildings. It’s amazing how peaceful it can be up there. The feeling of being alone in a crowded city is amazing, and I recommend it to everyone. Check those doors!
Tour Westchester’s Octagon House, the world’s only eight-sided, fully-domed Victorian home
Known as the Armour–Stiner (Octagon) House, this unique home in Irvington-on-Hudson, NY, is the only known residence constructed in the eight-sided, domed colonnaded shape of a classic Roman Temple. The octagon-shaped domed Victorian-style home was listed for rent a few years ago by its current owner, preservation architect Joseph Pell Lombardi, for a hefty $40,000 a month, as 6sqft reported. Now for the first time in its history the house is open for guided tours, so you don’t have to fork over a fortune to experience one of the world’s most visually unique homes. The house is also available as a location for film and photography.
Built in 1860 by financier Paul J. Armour and enlarged between 1872 and 1876, the National Historic Landmark was used as a whimsical summer retreat for tea-importer Joseph Stiner; its shape was based on the theories of phrenologist Orson Squire Fowler. The home retains its magnificent ornamentation and furnishings–and the only remaining Egyptian Revival Room in America complete with original furnitureand decor.
The house house replicates Donato Bramante’s 1502 Tempietto in Rome: The elegantly proportioned Tempietto was built in the form of a Tholos, an ancient classical temple, which complimented America’s third quarter of the 19th century fascination with classical forms.
Following the publication of “The Octagon House,”A Home for All,” by phrenologist, sexologist and amateur architect Orson Squire Fowler, octagonal houses became popular in 19th century America. In 1872, prominent New York City tea merchant Joseph Stiner purchased a simpler version and made alterations that included the addition of the dome and the verandah, creating a classical, elaborately detailed ancient temple whimsically colored, detailed and decorated to enthrall visitors.
Subsequent owners were a colorful lot: In the 1930s it was occupied by Aleko Lilius, a Finnish writer and explorer who had lived with a female pirate who had plundered ships off the coast of China. One of the most celebrated occupants was author, poet and historian Carl Carmer, who lived in the house from 1940 until his death in 1976–his legacy includes tales of a resident ghost.
Following Carmer’s death the home was acquired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and sold to a private citizen. Joseph Pell Lombardi, a preservation architect specializing in conservation, restoration and historic preservation. Under the direction of Lombardi’s son, Michael Hall Lombardi, the home, including the Egyptian Revival Room, Basement, Kitchen, Greenhouse and Studio and much of the decorative surfaces have been lovingly restored.
The interiors including the 1870s furnishings are said to be the country’s finest display of the American neo-Roman style that was popular in the 19th century. The only domestic Egyptian Revival room still in existence can be found here as well, complete with its original 19th century furnishings and decoration.
The grounds have been restored to their 1872 splendor. The house, which sits on three acres, is surrounded by meticulous gardens, specimen trees, a carriage house, and an original Lord & Burnham conservator.
The house is located 18 miles north of New York City and is a 15-minute walk from the Metro-North Ardsley Train Station. You can find out more about visiting here.
Sample the wares and see what’s new at NYC’s top flea and food markets
The city’s local flea and food markets set up shop in springtime, bringing irresistible edibles and covetable goods to a neighborhood near you. Though dates and locations vary and favorite vendors come and go, the mighty market phenomenon keeps growing. The shop-and-nosh mecca Brooklyn Flea again changes locations (hello, WTC!), a favorite night market returns in Queens, and the Manhattan classics are back to offer more of what you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. Some of the best fairs are the most fleeting, and one-offs like the annual Renegade Arts and Crafts Fair are always worth the trip. The list below rounds up the city’s top food and flea picks. Let the hunting and gathering begin!
Brooklyn Flea: Williamsburg Saturdays
Williamsburg Hotel, 96 Wythe Avenue, 2nd level patio
Saturday, April 6 through October; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The venerable Brooklyn Flea has come a long way from its birthplace in a schoolyard in Fort Greene. This year’s Saturday shopping, noshing and people-watching destination finds the now-elder-statesflea on a patio of a trendy Williamsburg hotel just a few blocks from Smorgasburg at East River State Park, looking out over the neighborhood. The shoppers’ mecca that by now is one of the city’s most enduring brands is the place to find vintage, furniture, handmade goodies and more while enjoying the view.
Brooklyn Flea: DUMBO Sundays
Manhattan Bridge Archway, 80 Pearl Street, Brooklyn; Sunday, April 7 through October, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sundays at the Flea roll on to DUMBO for another season in the majestic archway under the Manhattan Bridge. You’ll find about 80 vendors of antiques and collectibles, vintage fashions, furniture, rugs, textiles and more—and, of course, food—with an old-fashioned town square vibe.
Image courtesy of Brooklyn Flea; photo credit: Scott Lynch
East River State Park, 90 Kent Avenue (at North 7th); Opens April 6; Saturdays 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Prospect Park, Breeze Hill at Lincoln Road; Opens April 7; Sundays 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Smorgasburg WTC, Westfield World Trade Center, Oculus Plaza; Opens April 12; Fridays 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Smorgasburg x Vice Night Market, Villain, 307 Kent Avenue at South 3rd Street, Brooklyn; every other Friday, 6 p.m. til late
The ‘Smorg is back in its familiar feeding spots, with two young upstarts in tow this year. What the New York Times has called “the Woodstock of eating” happens every Saturday with 100 vendors on the Williamsburg waterfront and Sunday in beautiful Prospect Park. A lower Manhattan Friday addition at Oculus Plaza is something to cheer about, and an indoor night market (with Vice) spices things up with 10 vendors, a full bar, DJs, astrology readings and more. The familiar foodie fests feature purveyors from New York City and nearby, including local faves like Jing Fong, Dough, The Better Pop and trendy treats like The Pizza Cupcake, plus beer, wine and booze. Check their Instagram feed for a virtual nibble.
Photo courtesy of Grand Bazaar NYC
Grand Bazaar NYC
100 West 77th Street at Columbus Avenue
Every Sunday 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
This urban “yard sale” has been serving the Upper West Side since 1982 and has no intention of slowing down. You’ll find antiques, artisans’ wares and fabulous food every Sunday, all year ’round. In addition to helping support local makers and sellers, this market donates 100 percent of profits to four local public schools. Look for cool events like the NYC Food Truck Fest and Earth Day celebrations in April, NYC Home Décor & Furniture Bazaar in May and regional artisan markets throughout the spring and summer.
Image via Yelp Inc./Flickr cc
LIC Flea & Food
5-25 46th Avenue, LIC, Queens,
Weekends from May through October 30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Queens weighs in with another season of market madness on the waterfront of Long Island City just one block behind the Pepsi-Cola sign. You’ll find cool jewelry, vintage goodies, clothes, and indulgent edibles while taking in breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline at the largest outdoor market in the borough.
Astoria Flea & Food
Kaufman Studios, 34-12 36th Street, Astoria, Queens,
Dates to be announced; Saturdays from 6 p.m. to Midnight; Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
This little sister to the LIC Flea happens at Kaufman Studios as a night market on Saturdays from 6 p.m. until midnight and a daytime destination on Sundays. Similarly, you’ll find a carefully curated collection of vendors offering food and drink, antiques, art, furniture, fashion, jewelry, arts & crafts, and much more.
Image courtesy of Hester Street Fair
Hester Street Fair
Corner of Hester and Essex Streets in the LES
May 13 through October 31, every Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Located on the historic grounds of New York City’s original food cart vendors (i.e. the city’s largest pushcart market at the turn of the century) in the heart of the Lower East Side, this bustling Saturday market continues to draw the crowds. In its 10th season, you’ll find artisanal food, vintage clothing, jewelry, crafts, home goods and much more, with special events on the calendar like concerts and other performances, a baby festival, a lobster and beer fest and pet day.
Chelsea Flea Market
29 West 25th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue
Saturdays & Sundays, year-round; 6:30 a.m.– 7 p.m.
Descended from the OG 6th Avenue flea market, this weekend warrior boasts both veteran dealers and new-school vendors selling antiques, collectibles, ephemera, decorative arts, vintage clothing and jewelry including Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern items. If flea-ing isn’t enough fun, Eataly and Madison Square Park are both nearby.
Photo via Flickr cc
Nolita Outdoor Market
Prince Street between Mott and Mulberry Streets
March-December, Friday – Sunday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. (weather permitting)
When spring weather arrives, so does a handful of top vendors offering unique and high-quality merch along the brick wall of the church on Prince Street in the Nolita shopping-and-brunching district. You’ll find surprisingly well-priced art, jewelry, accessories and apparel you won’t find anywhere else.
Photo credit: Storm Garner
Queens International Night Market
New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
Saturday nights from April 20th – August 17th and September 28th – October 26th; 5 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Who doesn’t love a little night shopping, especially when it’s in a science museum? This beloved and family-friendly open-air market returns, featuring independent vendors and food as well as cultural performances and entertainment, all on a level that matches the rich cultural diversity and heritage of the borough and NYC.
Image courtesy of FAD Market
City Point, 445 Albee Square West, Brooklyn
The Invisible Dog, 51 Bergen Street, Brooklyn; Check schedule for market dates, times and themes.
For the 2019 spring and summer season, FAD (fashion, art and design) Market promises its usual thoughtfully selected independent makers and artists at two Brooklyn locations. Kicking off the season is Brooklyn Made Market at City Point on April 13th-14th, followed by the NYCxDESIGN Market in conjunction with the citywide NYCxDESIGN on Mother’s Day weekend. In June comes FAD Fare, an artisanal food market, and FAD mini, a kids and family market with activities from storytime in the garden to glass blowing demonstrations by Urban Glass, coloring stations, face painting and more.
Metroflea local flea markets
Greenwich Village, 490 Hudson Street (between Christopher and Grove Streets); Wednesday – Friday 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
Park Slope 7th Avenue, 180 7th Avenue (between 1st and 2nd Street);Saturday – Sunday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Park Slope 5th Avenue, 350 5th Avenue (between 4th and 5th Street); Saturday – Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Metroflea Greenwich Village Market evokes a lively and friendly atmosphere featuring talented local designers, vintage clothing and jewelry vendors. MetroFlea Park Slope 7th Avenue Market has been in business for nearly 30 years in the PS 321 schoolyard and surrounding sidewalk every Saturday and Sunday–just look for tents, umbrellas and a bustling crowd. Like its siblings, the 5th Avenue market features unique finds among clothing, art, food, and jewelry in one of the hottest neighborhoods in NYC.
Artists and Fleas
Chelsea: 88 10th Avenue @ West 15th Street; Saturdays & Sundays, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn: 70 North 7th Street; Saturdays & Sundays, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Soho: 568 Broadway @ Prince Street; Saturdays & Sundays, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
While it’s neither seasonal nor outdoors, no flea market list would be complete without the garden of crafty delights you’ll discover at this artist, designer and vintage market. Look for special events like a macrame workshop.
One-offs and pop-ups
Photo courtesy of the World’s Fare
The World’s Fare
Citi Field, Saturday, May 18 & Sunday, May 19
As a reference to the iconic 1964 World’s Fair that also took place in Flushing Meadows, the World’s Fair is coming back for its second year. More than 100 food vendors, all serving up a different cuisine from around the globe, will come together along with an international beer garden, global cocktail pavilions, cultural music and dance performances, the World Market Shopping Bazaar, art installations, and family-friendly activities. This year’s event will be hosted by chef Anita Lo, Chef Alex Raij, and food critic Gael Green. General admission starts at $19/person, but for $49 you can get unlimited booze.
Image courtesy of Artrider
Craft New York at Lincoln Center
Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center, 62nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues
June 8, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; June 9, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Browse 175 juried craft displays selected from the best modern makers from all across the country. Shop from America’s best craftspeople including perennial favorites and new artists offering clothing, jewelry and handbags. home decor items made from ceramics, glass, metal, wood and mixed media, fine art painting, printmaking and photography and more. Make sure to check out the gourmet foods and specialties boutique including distillery and wine tastings.
Renegade Craft Fair
Brooklyn Expo Center, 72 Noble Street
June 22-23, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
This annual craft celebration heads back to Greenpoint this summer, giving lucky visitors another chance to behold unique handmade items as far as the eye can see from hundreds of makers, fun DIY workshops, immersive special features, food and drink and much, much more. There’s plenty of creative spirit here, but this fair’s curatorial chops are impressive, so expect the best.
Image courtesy of Egg Creams and Empenadas Festival. Photo credit: Kate Milford.
2019 Egg Rolls, Egg Creams and Empenadas Festival
The Museum at Eldridge Street, Sunday, June 18, noon – 4 p.m.
Celebrate the diverse ethnic communities of the Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood at a block party that began as a celebration of Jewish and Chinese culture and grew to an event that brings thousands of people each year. Come for the kosher egg rolls, egg creams and empanadas; stay for klezmer, cantorial, Chinese opera, Puerto Rican folk music, Hebrew and Chinese scribal arts, yarmulke making, Puerto Rican mask and lace making, mah jongg and more.
Image courtesy of Brooklyn Flea; photo credit: Scott Lynch
Brooklyn Flea Record Fair
Saturday, May 18, East River State Park, 90 Kent Avenue at North 8th Street (next to Smorgasburg)
The thrice-annual Brooklyn Flea Record Fair returns, historically one of the busiest market days of the season with 50+ vinyl, cd & cassette vendors including record labels, stores and collectors.
Image: lostinbrooklyn/Flickr cc
Neighborhood Stoop and Sidewalk Sales ↑
Don’t sleep on the city’s feast of stoop and sidewalk sales in neighborhoods like Park Slopeand Carroll Gardens. Small, under-the-radar flea markets broadcast their wares well in advance on Craiglist, so if you want to plan ahead, click your way through the local “Garage and Moving Sales” pages for your neighborhood and date of choice–then click the “map” option and you’re good to go.
Keys to the City: The Ultimate New York City Scavenger Hunt
When: Saturday, May 4, 10:00am – 5:00pm
Price: $50 per person
50 Clues, 2 Boroughs, 1 Grand Prize. How Well Do You Know New York?
It takes grit and determination to make it in New York. Do you and your friends have what it takes to hold the Keys to the City? Show us what you’ve got in this ultimate New York City scavenger hunt -- while helping us raise vital funds for the Museum of the City of New York! Afterwards, join us for a toast at our after party where prizes will be awarded from exclusive Museum tours to tickets to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and New York City Center.
Teams must register by May 1 at 11:59 pm.
Make A Difference:
Scavenger hunt registration fees and team fundraising efforts will directly support the Museum's mission of fostering understanding of the distinctive nature of urban life in the world’s most influential metropolis. All donations from fundraising are fully tax-deductible.
Learn more about the Museum
How It Works:
Teams of at most 10 and at least 3 players start from a location of their choosing to decipher clues to identify sites in the Lower East Side, Two Bridges, the Financial District, Brooklyn Heights, and DUMBO. Any individual registrants without a team will be assigned to one
Clues are worth different point values depending on difficulty and distance
Teams must photograph all of their members at the clue sites and post their pictures to a team-designated Instagram account to earn points
Teams do not have to visit every site; rather, the objective is to earn as many points as possible in the allotted time
Afterwards, participants will meet at the Museum for an after party where winners will be announced and prizes awarded
Please have cash on hand – Bonus points may be offered at select sites and could include optional low-cost purchases
In case of rain – The scavenger hunt will be rescheduled to Saturday, May 11 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Please note that no refunds will be offered if the event is moved to the rain date
Scavenger Hunt Grand Prize - A private gallery tour and reception for the team with the most points as well as Family Museum Memberships for each team member (valued at $150)
Scavenger Hunt Second Prize - Family Museum Memberships for each team member (valued at $150)
Participant with the highest total donations – Four tickets to New York City Center’s Encores! performance of High Button Shoes on Saturday, May 11 at 8:00 pm
Participant with the most donors – Four tickets to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Additional fundraising prizes to be announced
Scavenger Hunt Timeline:
Registration includes Museum admission
10:00 am – Hunt begins when players receive the clues and instructions via email
2:00 pm – Hunt concludes
3:00 pm – After party at the Museum begins
5:00 pm – After party concludes
Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This event has a strict no refunds policy. All donations from fundraising are fully tax-deductible.
$50 per person
Includes Museum admission
The American Museum of Natural History Announces Its 150th Anniversary Celebration
Spectacular T. rex Exhibition Kicks Off Programs and Events
The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) today announced a multi-year series of events, programs, exhibitions, and projects that will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Museum, culminating in the opening of its new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation.
Beginning this March with the new exhibition T. rex: The Ultimate Predator, the Museum will present anniversary programming and exhibitions inspired by its legacy of scientific exploration and science education, parts of its dual mission underpinned by more than a century of world-class research in disciplines spanning paleontology, genomics, and astrophysics. The first major exhibition of the anniversary focuses on the world-famous Tyrannosaurus rex, a species discovered on a Museum expedition in 1902, and reveals groundbreaking advances in the understanding of the biology of this extraordinary carnivore, with the public unveiling of a life-size T.rex model that is the most scientifically accurate to date.
Looking ahead to the Museum’s future, the 150th anniversary celebration also includes the modernization of iconic Museum galleries and exhibits, and the opening of the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, which will include major new exhibition galleries, an interactive theater, state-of-the-art classrooms, and a multi- level Collections Core that will reveal sections of the Museum’s working scientific collections. These forward-looking projects will ensure that the Museum can continue to nourish the curiosity of generations of New Yorkers and introduce millions of visitors from around the world to the wonders of our planet, the rich traditions of human cultures, and the mysteries of our universe.
A new website, amnh.org/150, which launches today, will provide opportunities for people everywhere to join in the anniversary by submitting their stories, pictures, and memories of the Museum to be featured on the anniversary page and by participating in an online community celebrating the Museum’s history and civic role in New York City
“Scientific knowledge has grown explosively since the Museum’s founding in 1869, as researchers have probed the DNA in our cells, visualized the outer limits of an expanding universe, and explored every frontier in between. Throughout history and especially today, natural history museums have been uniquely positioned as a critical lynchpin between science and society,” said Museum President Ellen V. Futter. “The Museum’s sesquicentennial anniversary will commemorate its 150 years of groundbreaking scientific discovery, presenting the wonders of the natural world and cultures of humanity, and extracting knowledge from our world-class collections. It offers an opportunity to celebrate our historic relationship with New York City— including generations of residents from the five boroughs and visitors from across the country and around the world—and the Museum’s ongoing evolution into an innovative leader in scientific research, education, and civic life with a unique role in illuminating the central place of science in society, especially in the 21st century.”
Initiatives for the Museum’s 150th anniversary include:
the opening on March 11 of T. rex: The Ultimate Predator—with a new look, based on the latest research, at the most famous of all dinosaur species
an exhibition, opening later this year, about the Theodore Roosevelt equestrian statue at the Museum’s entrance on Central Park West, in which experts and visitors respond to the representation of Theodore Roosevelt in relation to the Native and African figures in the grouping; reflect on racism and cultural representation; and discuss the role of monuments in public spaces in light of the 2017 Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers
the revitalization in July of the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites, a gallery devoted to exploring the origins of the universe
the convening in October of a major scientific conference about human genetics, building on the Museum’s longstanding role in illuminating scientific breakthroughs with implications for human health
the debut in January 2020 of an all-new Space Show in the Hayden Planetarium
the re-opening in Fall 2020 of one of the most beloved and popular spaces in the Museum, the completely redesigned Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, which will bring the latest geological science and most dazzling specimens to light
the redesign and reinterpretation of the first and most historically distinguished of the Museum’s cultural galleries, the Northwest Coast Hall, scheduled to reopen in Winter 2021
the culminating event, the opening of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation
Offering a New Look at the King of Dinosaurs
The story of the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex begins at the American Museum of Natural History, whose legendary fossil hunter Barnum Brown discovered the first specimen of a T. rex in 1902, in Montana. The public first saw a fossil of Tyrannosaurus rex when it went on public display at the Museum in 1906, sparking admiration and inspiring echoes in popular culture that continue today. On March 11, the Museum will open the first major exhibition of the 150th anniversary celebration, T.rex: The Ultimate Predator, which explores how tyrannosaurs evolved to include one of the largest and most fearsome carnivores of all time. Incorporating the latest scientific discoveries about these ancient predators from Mark Norell, the Museum’s Macaulay Curator of Paleontology, and his colleagues, the exhibition will include stunning life-size reconstructions of feathered tyrannosaurs at various life stages, real fossils and casts, large-scale video projections, hands-on interactives, and a multiplayer virtual reality experience created specifically for this exhibition that will allow visitors to virtually assemble a T. rex skeleton and watch it come to life. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum’s annual Identification Day, which invites visitors to bring in their own collections for identification by Museum scientists and which will be held on March 23, will focus on predatory species across all animal groups.
Inviting New Yorkers and Museum Fans Worldwide to Share Stories
Launching today, a new website at amnh.org/150 will provide opportunities for the public to join in the anniversary celebration online.
The website will provide a calendar of anniversary activities and updates in addition to featuring a series of new videos, launching in April—the month in 1869 when the Museum was incorporated—that will offer in-depth looks at how some of the most iconic exhibits at the Museum, including T. rex, the blue whale model, the 15.5-ton Willamette Meteorite, and others, have inspired New Yorkers and visitors from around the world through the years. Visitors are also invited to share their stories, pictures, and reflections about the Museum and its place in their lives by submitting media files to the Museum for publication online. A curated gallery of social media posts will create a lively, ongoing conversation about the Museum and its role in the lives of New Yorkers and visitors from all over the world.
Exploring Beyond Our Planet
In January 2020, the Museum will premiere an all-new Space Show in the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater, displaying an astonishingly realistic view of planets, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies based on a 3D map of the observable universe maintained by Museum scientists and visualization experts.
The 150th anniversary Space Show will explore our immediate cosmic neighborhood: our Solar System.
Adding Sparkle to the Anniversary
Fall 2020 will witness the reopening of the completely renovated Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, where a gleaming new exhibition designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates creates a showcase for the world-renowned collection.
Featuring large-scale new specimens including a sparkling pair of amethyst geodes—a 9-foot-tall specimen and a 12-foot geode that is one of the largest in the world—as well as such celebrated gems as the 563-carat Star of India sapphire, the exhibits will tell the fascinating story of how approximately 4,500 different types of minerals arose on our dynamic planet, how scientists classify them, and how humans have fashioned them into gems and used them throughout history for personal adornment, tools, and technology .
One of a series of renovations that are transforming and updating the historic core galleries of the Museum in conjunction with the 150th anniversary, the redesign of the Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals creates a contemporary space to house stunning new large-scale specimens, connects the galleries directly to the new Gilder Center to improve visitor circulation, and enables the Museum to present the most current understanding of how minerals form—and of how minerals are inextricably linked to their natural environment and biology on the one hand, and to technology and culture on the other.
Reinterpreting a Masterwork
The Museum’s first cultural hall is undergoing a major project to refresh and enrich the historic gallery, update interpretations, and represent the living cultures and traditions of the Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest. In October, the Museum named renowned Nuu-chah-nulth artist and cultural historian Haa’yuups (Ron Hamilton) a co- curator of the restoration, working with Museum Curator Peter Whiteley. In addition to the curatorial role of Haa’yuups, the Museum is consulting with a diverse group of core advisors that includes Native scholars, artists, and other authorities from Alaska, Washington State, and British Columbia.
The restoration project includes a major effort by the Museum’s Objects Conservation Laboratory to conserve more than 800 items from the Northwest Coast collection, including the six iconic totem poles in the gallery as well as smaller pieces, such as ceremonial masks and rattles, in consultation with Native scholars and artists.
The distinguished design firm wHY is working with Museum staff to renovate the physical structure while preserving the elegant historic gallery. Work on the Northwest Coast Hall will continue throughout the anniversary celebrations, with a reopening and rededication anticipated in early 2021.
Breaking Ground for a New Era
The Museum will be building its future as it breaks ground on the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. This 230,000-square-foot, $383 million facility, featuring an acclaimed architectural design by Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang and exhibition design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, will at long last connect the Museum’s disparate buildings, linking them in a continuous ring, while spanning the whole of the Museum’s mission and helping to advance and better reveal the Museum’s full program of scientific research, exhibition, and education for all ages.
The Gilder Center will include a multi-story, glass-walled Collections Core housing nearly 4 million scientific specimens, enabling visitors to look into active storage and research areas for the first time and to see the physical evidence that underlies scientific knowledge and fuels scientific research. The Gilder Center also will introduce visitors of all ages to the powerful role insects play in the ecosystems of our planet in the new Susan and Peter Solomon Family Insectarium, the Museum’s first gallery in more than 50 years dedicated to the world’s most diverse group of animals; a year-round Butterfly Vivarium, which will be a permanent and expanded experience based on the Museum’s popular temporary exhibition; an immersive Invisible Worlds theater revealing such unseen environments as the microscopic frontiers of 21st-century science and other phenomena too small, too slow, too fast, or too deep in time to be explored in traditional exhibition galleries; and education spaces including classrooms, learning labs, and age-specific student and teacher zones in addition to a fully renovated library that will include programming space and study areas for members of the public.
Additional details and anniversary celebration programs will be announced later this year. Please check amnh.org/150 for details and updates.
Major funding for T. rex: The Ultimate Predator provided by the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Endowment Fund
Generous support also provided by:
Dana and Virginia Randt
Chase Private Client
Virtual reality experience created in collaboration with HTC VIVE.
The forthcoming Space Show is made possible by the generous support of the Charles Hayden Foundation.
The Museum gratefully acknowledges Allison and Roberto Mignone for their leadership support of the redesigned Halls of Gems and Minerals.
Generous support has been provided by the Arthur Ross Foundation.
The Museum gratefully recognizes the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, Lewis Bernard, and the City of New York, whose leadership support has made the restoration of the Northwest Coast Hall possible.
Critical support has also been provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Why I’m still living in Manhattan.
One of the city's greatest attributes is its diversity, and NYC is often thought of as America's melting pot. About 36 percent of New York's denizens hail from other countries, and you can hear as many as 800 languages spoken. I love how each person has his or her own New York Story, whether they're a native, an immigrant or a transplant.
There's no other city on the planet with an energy that can compete with New York. The fast pace, the buzzing traffic, the hustle and bustle of the people, the 24-hour life, and the creative spirit make NYC one of the most vibrant places in the world.
New York has a way of giving me a feeling that I can accomplish anything I set out to do. On an ordinary day when I step outside my apartment building, I might find inspiration in any place – on the street, in the subway, at a Broadway show or in a sidewalk café. A plethora of inspiring, smart, creative people dwell in the nooks and crannies of this city.
A steak dinner at midnight? An early morning manicure? I can get anything I want at almost any time in NYC. Within a five-block radius of my apartment, I can hit the grocery store, drug store, pet store, and wine shop in a single sweep. This convenient lifestyle is addictive. We New Yorkers get spoiled, and when we leave the city, we forget that the rest of the world lives differently and on a more normal schedule.
New York is a big city, but feels more like a cluster of small towns once you live here. Each New York City neighborhood has a distinct personality and flavor. From Harlem to the Lower East Side, Astoria to Flushing, Brooklyn Heights to Coney Island, and the Bronx's Little Italy to Staten Island's St. George, the best neighborhoods in NYC are brimming with character and culture, and something for everyone.
No one can deny the excitement of life in New York City, or the fact that anything can happen at any time. I've been out walking my dog, and without warning, had a celebrity sighting. I've rubbed elbows with film stars, attended the Tony Awards, and scored free tickets to some of Manhattan's hottest events. An ordinary day can turn into an extraordinary experience in a New York minute.
The Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Grand Central Station, and the list goes on –– you'll discover magnificent architectural treasures and more New York City attractions than you can count.
Even though I don't spend my free time every weekend touring, I take advantage of the many legendary spots in this town whenever possible, including New York's museums. I can't help but feel proud of living in New York City each time I walk into the Guggenheim, look at the skyline, or stroll through Central Park.
For more than a quarter of a millennium, the New York Society Library has played a central role in the evolution of the availability of books in New York City and the country. If New York is the communications capital of the United States, this library is arguably one of the reasons why. It is no surprise that it has attracted such luminaries as George Washington, Herman Melville, Willa Cather, and Truman Capote.
In 1754, when there was no library in the city open to the public, the New York Society—a group of six civic-minded individuals—formed the Library in the belief that a subscription library which anyone could join, and offering a broad range of books, "would be very useful as well as ornamental to the City." It opened in a room in the old City Hall, on Wall Street facing Broad Street, and for a century and a half—until the founding of the public library system in 1895—was known as "the City Library," which in fact is what it was. It received a charter from George III in 1772, confirmed after the Revolution by the New York State Legislature.
During the Revolution, the Library's books were looted by British soldiers occupying Manhattan; some were torn up to make wadding for rifles and others were sold for rum. After the war, a few books that had been stored at St. Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan were recovered, and in 1784 others were found through advertisement.
In 1789, the Library reopened in its previous quarters in the old City Hall. In 1789 and 1790, when New York was the nation's capital and Congress occupied the building—then renamed Federal Hall—it served effectively as the first Library of Congress; it was used by George Washington and John Jay. It was at this point that two books were charged out to George Washington but were never returned. In 2010, representatives from Mount Vernon formally presented the Library with another volume of one of the missing books, The Law of Nations by Emer de Vattel.
In 1795, the Library, having grown to 5,000 volumes, moved into its own building at 33 Nassau Street, where Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper were visitors. As the city has grown, the Library has followed readers as they moved uptown—in 1840 to Leonard Street and Broadway, where Henry David Thoreau and John James Audubon were browsers; in 1856 to 109 University Place, the haunt of Herman Melville and Willa Cather; and in 1937 to its present quarters at 53 East 79th Street, frequented by W.H. Auden, Clarence Day, Lillian Hellman, Barbara Tuchman, David Halberstam, Wendy Wasserstein, Shirley Hazzard, P.G. Wodehouse, Mary McCarthy, and thousands of others. After 258 years of intimate involvement in the life of the city, the Library remains a "useful as well as ornamental" place.
In March 1754, six public-spirited young New Yorkers—William Alexander, John Morin Scott, William Smith, and Philip, Robert and William Livingston—conceived the idea of establishing a "useful as well as ornamental" library in the city of New York. Interesting a number of their friends, they succeeded in selling more than a hundred shares at five pounds each, with yearly assessments of ten shillings.
Lieutenant Governor DeLancey and the Common Council approved the plan and permission was given to use a room in City Hall. In this room had been stored gifts of books, mainly theological, received from the Reverend John Sharp and from the estate of the Reverend John Millington, both of whom had been interested in establishing a public library in the colony. These became part of the new library.
At a meeting held on April 30th at the Exchange Coffee Room on Broad Street, the following twelve trustees were elected: Lieutenant Governor James DeLancey, James Alexander, William Alexander, the Reverend Henry Barclay, John Chambers, Robert R. Livingston, Joseph Murray, Benjamin Nicoll, William Peartree Smith, William Walton, and John Watts.
The New York Society Library was the name chosen for the new organization although it was generally called the New York Library until 1759. The word "society" was not then used in a social sense and the liberal founders had no thought of exclusiveness. They said: "The rights and privileges in the said Library shall not be confined to this city, but that every person residing in this province may become a subscriber."
Following the first official meeting of the trustees on May 7, 1754, books were ordered from London and in October the new library was launched. Benjamin Hildreth was appointed Library Keeper to attend every Wednesday afternoon from two to four, at a salary of six pounds per annum. Books were lent for certain periods according to their size—a folio for six weeks, a quarto for four, an octavo for three, and a duo-decimo for two.
The Library prospered and in 1772 applied for and received a charter from King George III. The resolution with signatures, the rough parchment draft of the charter, the beautiful parchment document itself, and the bill for engrossing it are among the Library's treasures today.
The minutes of the New York Society Library continued to record progress until May 9, 1774, after which follows this laconic entry: "The accidents of the late war having nearly destroyed the former Library, no meeting of the proprietors for the choice of Trustees was held from the last Tuesday in April 1774 until Tuesday ye 20 December 1788."
In 1789, the Legislature confirmed the Library's charter and the Common Council again voted the use of a room in what is now called Federal Hall. More shares were sold and more books ordered from England.
As the first Congress was then meeting under the same roof, and library privileges were conferred upon its members, the New York Society Library functioned as the first Library of Congress.
The first charging ledger contains evidence that President George Washington sent in one day for Vattel's Law of Nations and a volume of debates of Parliament, perhaps to settle some of his new problems, and John Adams came in person for Kames's Elements of Criticism.
Other pages of the old ledger list the books borrowed by Aaron Burr, DeWitt Clinton, Nicholas Fish, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Rufus King, James Roosevelt, and many others whose names are part of our country's history.
By 1793, the Library had grown to 5,000 volumes and needed a building of its own. A plot of ground was leased and a building constructed at 33 Nassau Street, where the Guaranty Trust Company of New York formerly stood.
In 1840, the Library, having combined with (later absorbing) the New York Athenaeum, a literary and scientific club of the day, moved into its second building, a handsome, roomy edifice with Ionic columns at the corner of Broadway and Leonard Street. In the same year, the Library was opened to temporary subscribers at the rate of ten dollars for one year, six dollars for six months, and four for three months.
This was a lively period, for a large lecture room was the scene of entertainments, discussions, and assemblies of the widest variety. There were lectures by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Edgar Allan Poe, readings by Fanny Kemble and Anna Cora Mowatt, performances by the Swiss Bell-ringers and Campbell's Minstrels. Odell's Annals of the New York Stage contains a wealth of information about the activities of the Library in those years.
A Visitor's Book kept from 1836 to 1855 records distinguished visitors from all parts of the world and cities all over the United States. Among them were: Prince Bonaparte (afterward Napoleon III), James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, Francis Parkman, Prince Paul of Wurtenberg, Sir Robert Peel, William Makepeace Thackeray, and Martin Van Buren, to name a very few.
In 1853, the Library sold its building to D. Appleton and Company and moved into temporary quarters at the Bible House while awaiting completion of a new building at 67, later numbered 109, University Place, between Twelfth and Thirteenth Streets. This was occupied in 1856 with a collection of about 35,000 volumes and it remained the Library's headquarters for eighty-one years.
The Library had received its first legacy in 1849 of five thousand dollars from Miss Elizabeth DeMilt. It was followed by other bequests, and in 1917 came the generous one of the residuary estate of Mrs. Charles C. Goodhue, intended for a building to house the Library and the objets d'art which were part of the legacy. In 1936, judicious investment having more than doubled the fund, the house at 53 East 79th Street was purchased and appropriate alterations made. The Library moved into it in July 1937, with a collection of more than 150,000 volumes.
In 1952, the Library was among the many fortunate beneficiaries of the estate of Mrs. H. Sylvia A.H.G. Wilks, daughter of Mrs. Hetty Green. In 1973, Emil J. Baumann left the Library another substantial bequest. A fundraising campaign in the 1980's resulted in other gifts. Thanks to these legacies and donations and to careful financial management, the Library has a sound economic foundation.
The trustees ceased to issue regular certificates of membership in 1937 except to qualify new trustees, as required under the charter. But, after 1984, shares could be issued in exceptional cases of benefaction to the Library.
From the start, the Library has been exceptionally fortunate in its leadership. Trustees of literary interest, experience, and judgment in each generation have served on the Board. Many have been descendents of the original trustees. A glance at the distinguished names from the past show Hamilton Fish Armstrong, John Bigelow, Anthony Bleecker, John Romeyn Brodhead, John Mason Brown, William Allen Butler, Beverly Chew, Evert A. Duyckinck, Hugh Gaine, Washington Irving, Peter A. Jay, Robert Lenox Kennedy, James Kent, Rufus King, Walter Millis, Clement Clark Moore, Frederic de Peyster, John Pintard, F. Augustus Schermerhorn, Baron Steuben, Henry C. Swords, Richard Varick, Gulian C. Verplanck, John Watts, and others.
Although the Library has lived through many wars, only the Revolution interrupted its activities. Even then, someone's care and forethought preserved the old minute books as well as the John Sharp books. It is thus that the Library still possesses the record of its history from the beginning and a part of the first public library in New York. Other special collections include the Winthrop Collection, nearly 300 volumes that belonged to Connecticut governor John Winthrop, Jr. (1606-1676), on such topics as law, theology, medicine, and alchemy; the Hammond Collection of popular literature from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; and the John C. Green Art Collection.
The Library is rich in Americana—books, pamphlets, and some autograph letters from prominent Americans—but most especially in biographies and in travel accounts of the 19th century.
The unique collection of Library records is a source of interest to historians and biographers. The charging ledgers listing books borrowed from 1789 to 1907, when ledgers were replaced with cards, have helped researchers trace the course of reading interests and supplied information for biographies.
The membership lists contain such colorful names as John Jacob Astor, W.H. Auden, John James Audubon, Samuel Barber, John Jay Chapman, Willa Cather, Clarence Day, Jr., Simon Flexner, Eliza Jumel, Lillian Hellman, Herman Melville, Edward Stelchen, Alexander T. Stewart, and Norman Thomas.
In 1850, the Library held 31,000 volumes, in 1900 the collection reached 100,000 volumes; but by the mid-1980's the collection had close to 200,000 books, many of these being out of print and unobtainable in most city libraries. Today, the library has over 275,000 books.
From 1980 to 1984, the Library building was renovated in its entirety. Centralized air conditioning, modern lighting, improved research facilities, controlled humidity and temperature for book storage areas, and newly furnished children's and reading rooms were made available.
In 2010, thanks to four philanthropists, the Library did more renovations. It installed a Handi-Lift in the entry hall to make it handicap accessible. It renovated the entire Fifth Floor, which markedly increased seating in the newly named Hornblower Room and created six individual study rooms. It also restored a magnificent leaded skylight above the main staircase.
The present services and facilities of the Library, as well as conditions for use, are described in Use of the Library: Terms and Rules available at the circulation desk. The history of the Library was authoritatively recorded by Austin Baxter Keep in a volume published by the Trustees in 1907. Marion King, who had served the Library for many years, took up the tale in Books and People, published in 1954 by the Macmillan Company in honor of the Library's Bicentennial.
Serving both the casual reader and the scholar, the Society Library is in the second half of its third century of operation maintaining its mission of creating a Library available to the public that will be "ornamental... and advantageous" to New Yorkers.
City College was founded as an experiment in democracy
Now that “Operation Varsity Blues” has shown afresh the ways in which the nation’s elite can buy admission into prestigious universities, it may be instructive to consider the history City College, the flagship of the CUNY system, and the first free institution of higher education in the nation. Founded as The Free Academy of the City of New York in 1847, City College has long nurtured brilliant students from all walks of life as the “The Harvard of the Proletariat,” and served as an engine of upward mobility for New Yorkers and other strivers from around the world. As the home of the first student government in the nation, the first student-led strike, and the first degree-granting evening program, City boasts a legacy of equity and equality that reflects the best ideals of the city it serves.
City College was founded as an experiment in democracy. Townsend Harris, the Chairman of the New York City Board of Education, who went on the be the first U.S. Consul to Japan, sought to create an institution that was “the property of the people,” and that would “open the doors to all – let the children of the rich and the poor know of no distinction save that of industry, good conduct and intellect.”
Such an institution, which offered a fully-taxpayer-supported rigorous higher education, was part of a host of mid-19th-century reforms and municipal initiatives that helped New York claim its place as the preeminent city in the United States and marked it as a modern metropolis. For example, the Croton Aqueduct began bringing clean water to New Yorkers in 1842, the modern police force was established in 1846, and the New York Academy of Medicine was founded in 1847. At the same time, New York had emerged as the largest seaport on the East Coast and was home to 450,000 people.
As the population continued to grow, legislation passed to create the Free Academy. Put to a popular referendum in June 1847, the measure passed with 19,305 votes for, and 3,409 against. By establishing free municipal higher education, the city signaled that it would support a dynamic and robust populace, recognizing that since its citizens were the engine of the city’s growth, the city should equip them with the skills, knowledge, and resources to strive, succeed and enrich their home.
But could it be done? At the time, the city’s “free schools,” what we would now call public schools, only educated students through the eighth grade. There was no public high school system in the city. Students who wanted secondary education had to be able to afford private academies, then tuition at private colleges and universities. By contrast, the Free Academy required that matriculated students come from the city’s “common” schools. As a result, for most of the 19th century, students as young as 14 enrolled at City College.
The Free Academy opened its doors January 21, 1849, on Lexington Avenue and 23rd Street, where Baruch College is today. The original academy building was designed by James Renwick, Jr. who would go on to design St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
In his opening remarks, General Horace Webster, the first president of the College, himself a graduate of West Point, explained the institution’s pioneering mission. He said, “the experiment is to be tried, whether the children of the people, the children of the whole people, can be educated; and whether an institution of the highest grade, can be successfully controlled by the popular will, not by the privileged few.”
Because the Free Academy was the domain of “the whole people,” the original curriculum offered training in the classical languages that were then at the core of a traditional “gentleman’s education,” but also emphasized the study of math and science, and offered serious courses in the professional and practical arts, such as civil engineering, bookkeeping, short-hand and drawing. This focus on math, the hard sciences, and the applied fields has borne extraordinary fruit throughout City’s history: CCNY has graduated 10 Nobel Prize winners in Medicine, Economics, Chemistry, and Physics.
The Free Academy was officially renamed “College of the City of New York” in 1866. The following year, the Academic Senate, the first student government in the nation, was established.
In 1870, The Normal College of the City of New York, which would later be named Hunter, after its first president, opened for women. It was the first publicly funded, tuition-free college for women in the United States. Hunter’s original mission was to prepare graduates for careers in teaching. To that end, the College granted licenses until 1888. Thereafter, it also granted degrees.
Meanwhile, City, still a men’s institution, was rapidly expanding. In 1898, the Architect George B. Post, who had designed the Stock Exchange, and the New York Times Building on Park Row, was commissioned to design City’s new campus in St. Nicholas Heights area of Harlem. That campus, now landmarked, and added to the Register of Historic Places in 1985, opened in 1907. The following year, construction began on Hunter’s home at 68th Street and Lexington Avenue. That campus opened in 1912.
In 1909, City expanded even further, in a way that showed its commitment to its working students: the college established the first degree-granting evening session in the country, that year, and within a decade, the evening session began admitting women.
The early 20th century brought even more changes to City College. President Finley, who later went on to be New York State Education Commissioner, then the Associate Editor of the New York Times, abolished mandatory chapel attendance, recognizing that an increasingly diverse student body, including many Jewish students, was matriculating at the College. Many students came to City College from all walks of life because they had no other choices; seats at elite schools were not available.
Following the First World War, the notion of “selective admissions” changed the way that Colleges and Universities defined prestige. Previously, universities measured their prestige by the number of well-qualified students they attracted.
In the early 20th century, when a larger, and more diverse, pool of students began to seek admission to the nation’s prestigious universities, the concept of “selectivity” allowed colleges to define their prestige not by how many qualified students they attracted, but by how many they turned away. Under this practice, they could close ranks against the children of immigrants, African Americans, and others outside the purview of the Protestant establishment.
In New York City, Columbia University turned its attention markedly to the elite. City College remained committed to educating “the whole people,” and then as now, served a student body made up of the children of immigrants and the working class. Accordingly, the hoi-poloi found an outlet for their brilliance at City College, and the sheer intellectual fecundity (and passionate student radicalism) on campus during the interwar years is the stuff of legend.
By 1926, that educational opportunity, and intellectual ferment, had a place in Brooklyn, too, where both City and Hunter established campuses. The men’s and women’s colleges were combined into Brooklyn College in 1930.
In 1944, City expanded its offering off campus, offering a low-cost program of short non-degree courses for the general public in arts and crafts, foreign languages, English language instruction, and business. These classes were held at NYPL branch libraries so that they could be offered throughout Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island.
Following the Second World War, City educated returning veterans, many of whom participated in the nation’s first student-led campus strike, which broke out in 1949. The students picketed against allegations of racism and anti-Semitism on campus and aimed particularly at desegregating Army Hall, a dormitory for veterans, which economics professor William C. Davis, had organized according to Jim Crow.
At the same time, the engineer Cecile Froehlich became the first female instructor at City’s School of Technology. She became the first woman to achieve the rank of full professor in electrical engineering at City and stands out nationwide as the first woman to head an engineering department anywhere in the country.
Many more women followed her, both as students and faculty. In 1951, women, who had been granted admission to graduate studies at City College in 1930, were accepted as students throughout the whole institution.
A decade later, on April 11th, 1961, the City University of New York was established, with CCNY as its flagship. Student organization and protest in the late 60s moved CUNY to guarantee admission to the top 100 graduates from each of 60 New York City public high schools. In 1970, all NYC high school grads were offered a place within the CUNY network of four-year schools and community colleges; those who graduated from high school with an 80 average and in the top 50 percent of their class were guaranteed a place at a 4-year college.
In 1976, due to New York’s fiscal crisis, CUNY began charging admission for the first time in its history. But, in the 21st century, CUNY established an honors program, granting free tuition to honors students.
City College alumni have consistently gone on to move the world, in fields as diverse as law and physics, Civil Rights and popular music, politics, and philosophy. Among them are: A. Philip Randolph, Ira Gershwin, Felix Frankfurter, Colin Powell, Adam Clayton Powell, Jonas Salk, Alfred Stieglitz, Henry Morgenthau, Stephen Wise, Stanley Kubrick, Audre Lorde, Bernard Malamud, and Upton Sinclair.
Their contributions to the world have been extraordinary, as have those of thousands of other alumni, reminding us that when education is available to “the whole people” we all benefit a whole lot.
Lucie Levine is the founder of Archive on Parade, a local tour and event company that aims to take New York’s fascinating history out of the archives and into the streets. She’s a Native New Yorker, and licensed New York City tour guide, with a passion for the city’s social, political and cultural history. She has collaborated with local partners including the New York Public Library, The 92nd Street Y, The Brooklyn Brainery, The Society for the Advancement of Social Studies and Nerd Nite to offer exciting tours, lectures and community events all over town. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
By Ben Brantley
Young Rebels Changing History and Theater
Yes, it really is that good.
At this point, it would be almost a relief to report that “Hamilton” — the musical that opened at the Richard Rodgers Theater on Thursday night — has shrunk beneath the bloat of its hype. Since it was first staged at the Public Theater, this brave new show about America’s founding fathers has been given the kind of worshipful press usually reserved for the appearances of once-in-a-lifetime comets or the births of little royal celebrities.
During the past several months, while it was being pumped up and trimmed down for its move from the East Village to Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rap-driven portrait of the rise and fall of Alexander Hamilton (this country’s first secretary of the Treasury) has been the stuff of encomiums in both fashion magazines and op-ed columns. A friend of mine recently said that there were three subjects she never wanted to see in a newspaper again: Caitlyn Jenner, the Harper Lee novel “Go Set a Watchman” and “Hamilton.”
Even I, one of the many critics who enthused about “Hamilton” in February like a born-again convert in a revival tent, was beginning to think, “Enough already.” Then I saw the show at the Richard Rodgers.
I am loath to tell people to mortgage their houses and lease their children to acquire tickets to a hit Broadway show. But “Hamilton,” directed by Thomas Kail and starring Mr. Miranda, might just about be worth it — at least to anyone who wants proof that the American musical is not only surviving but also evolving in ways that should allow it to thrive and transmogrify in years to come.
A show about young rebels grabbing and shaping the future of an unformed country, “Hamilton” is making its own resonant history by changing the language of musicals. And it does so by insisting that the forms of song most frequently heard on pop radio stations in recent years — rap, hip-hop, R&B ballads — have both the narrative force and the emotional interiority to propel a hefty musical about long-dead white men whose solemn faces glower from the green bills in our wallets.
Washington, Jefferson, Madison — they’re all here, making war and writing constitutions and debating points of economic structure. So are Aaron Burr and the Marquis de Lafayette. They wear the clothes (by Paul Tazewell) you might expect them to wear in a traditional costume drama, and the big stage they inhabit has been done up (by David Korins) to suggest a period-appropriate tavern, where incendiary youth might gather to drink, brawl and plot revolution.
But these guys don’t exactly look like the marble statues of the men they’re portraying. For one thing, they’re black or Hispanic. And when they open their mouths, the words that tumble out are a fervid mix of contemporary street talk, wild and florid declarations of ambition and, oh yes, elegant phrases from momentous political documents you studied in school, like Washington’s Farewell Address.
And you never doubt for a second that these eclectic words don’t belong in proximity to one another. In mixing a broad range of references and rhythms in one percolating style, Mr. Miranda — who wrote the book, music and lyrics of “Hamilton,” which was inspired by Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography — does what rap artists have been doing for years. It’s the immoderate language of youth, ravenous and ambitious, wanting to claim and initial everything in reach as their own.
Which turns out to be the perfect voice for expressing the thoughts and drives of the diverse immigrants in the American colonies who came together to forge their own contentious, contradictory nation. To quote from an oft-repeated phrase in this almost entirely sung-through show: “Hey, yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry, and I am not throwing away my shot.”
Those words are declaimed by Mr. Miranda as Hamilton, an impoverished orphan newly arrived in New York from St. Croix, but they might be tattooed on the consciousness of most of the characters in the play. These include Burr (the suavely brooding Leslie Odom Jr.), Hamilton’s friend, rival and nemesis, who functions as a wondering, embittered narrator to his confrere’s meteoric rise; Washington (Christopher Jackson); Jefferson (a delightfully dandyish Daveed Diggs, who doubles as Lafayette) and Madison (Okieriete Onaodowan).
They are each fully rendered individuals, as are the three women in Hamilton’s life, blissfully embodied by Phillipa Soo (as his wife, Eliza); Renée Elise Goldsberry (as her sister, Angelica Schuyler); and Jasmine Cephas Jones (as Maria Reynolds, the adulterous lover who brings about Hamilton’s fall from grace). The ballads that define the triangular relationship among Hamilton, Eliza and Angelica have a romantic urgency and ambivalence that had me in happy tears.
There’s a breathless rush to those numbers. And nearly all of the score — directed and orchestrated with precise and infinite variety by Alex Lacamoire — is infused with the same sense of momentum, of a wave that you ride or drown in. And the gymnastic corps de ballet, choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, gives further, infectious life to that feeling of perpetual motion, of a speeding, unceasing course of human events. (The use of a revolving stage in a set has seldom seemed more apt; this world never stops spinning.)
Mr. Miranda’s Hamilton, a propulsive mix of hubris and insecurity, may be the center of the show. But he is not its star. That would be history itself, that collision of time and character that molds the fates of nations and their inhabitants. You might even call history the evening’s D.J., making sure there’s always something to dance to.
Mr. Kail beautifully sustains this sense of collective lives in motion throughout. It feels right that while the numbers here have been scaled up and shined up for a big Broadway house (Mr. Odom’s jivey “The Room Where It Happens,” a wicked meditation on being a political outsider, is now a full-fledged showstopper), you never feel that any single performer is pushing for a breakout moment. Well, with one exception.
That’s King George III (a delicious Jonathan Groff, who replaced Brian d’Arcy James during the run at the Public). He sings an entirely different tune as he observes, from across the Atlantic, that his colonial subjects are revolting, in all senses of the word. His is the voice of vintage Britpop, rendered in a leisurely, ironic, condescending vein to a distant population he regards as savages.
George is funny, fun company. But ultimately, it’s not his story. “Hamilton” is, among other things, about who owns history, who gets to be in charge of the narrative. One of its greatest accomplishments is that it leaves no doubt that these scrappy, adrenaline-charged young folks, with their fast way with rhyme that gives order to chaos, have every right to be in charge of the story here.
In temperament, they’re probably a lot closer to the real men who inspired this show than the stately figures of high school history books. Before they were founding fathers, these guys were rebellious sons, moving to a new, fierce, liberating beat that never seemed to let up. “Hamilton” makes us feel the unstoppable, urgent rhythm of a nation being born.
Central Park’s 843 acres serve as New York City’s backyard, playground, picnic spot, gym, and the list goes on. Taking care of the urban oasis is no small task; it requires gardeners, arborists, horticulturists, landscape architects, designers, tour guides, archeologists, a communications team, and even a historian. The organization in charge of this tremendous undertaking is the Central Park Conservancy. Since its founding in 1980, the Conservancy has worked to keep the park in pristine condition, making sure it continues to be New York’s ultimate escape.
Eager to learn more about Central Park and the Conservancy’s work, we recently spoke with two of its dedicated employees: Sara Cedar Miller, Associate Vice President for Park Information/Historian and Photographer, and Larry Boes, Senior Zone Gardener in charge of the Shakespeare Garden.
Sara, how did you become the Central Park Conservancy’s Historian?
Sara: I was hired as the photographer in 1984, and after a couple of years I asked for a raise. Betsey Rogers, who founded the Conservancy, said, “Yup, you’ve worked hard and that’s great, but we need to give you another title.” I replied, “Well, I do a lot of the historic research,” so she made me the historian. The minute I was a card-carrying historian, I started reading like crazy. I’ve written three books on the history of the park, which always include information about the Conservancy. I give tours, write, do lots and lots of fact checking on the park’s history, and train and educate staff.
Going back to the park’s origins, why did the New York State Legislature set aside land for a park?
Sara: Before they set aside land, there was a big movement to have a public park in the city, and it was mainly for two reasons. One was that the business community wanted New York City to be a great metropolis like London and Paris, and they knew that what defined a great city was a park.
On the other side of coin were the social reformers who saw that immigration was coming in the 1840s. There was a tremendous amount of tension, not just in New York, but across American cities. People understood that if you made a great park, it would help people to understand that we are all same. Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the park’s designers, was very worried that people born in the city, rich or poor, would not have contact with nature. There were hardly any parks in the 1811 Commissioner’s Plan because the assumption was that people would gravitate towards the East River or the Hudson River, but the shipping industry took over those areas. Andrew Jackson Downing, who I like to call the Martha Stewart of his day, promoted a park in the 1840s and ’50s, and the movers and shakers of the city got behind it.
In 1851, both mayoral candidates came out in favor of the park. Two years later, after a search for the proper location, this was selected because it was rocky, swampy, cheap land, and it had the reservoirs. Ironically, they said no one would ever want to live near the reservoirs.
What was it about Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s design that won them the competition?
Sara: Olmsted and Vaux‘s design was incredibly innovative. Every plan had to have eight features, which included transverse roads. Except for Olmsted and Vaux’s entry, the other 32 competitors placed their roads on the service of the park. This meant that traffic would have gone through the park at grade level, not unlike the way it does at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. I like to imagine it was Vaux who thought of sinking the transverse roads underneath the park. Their main goal was to make you forget you were in the city, and traffic would certainly detract from that. They created what would later be called sub-ways, the first use of the term. What that did was bring peace, quiet, and a rural atmosphere to the park.
How did the park end up in a period of decline?
Sara: Even in Olmsted’s time, there were so many political issues about how the park should be managed and what the budget should be. People decided that since the park was still way out of town, there should be local parks. The vicissitudes of politics and the economy really moved how the park was managed. For the most part, it was managed poorly. The park did not have the kind of stability it has had for the past 34 years because of the Conservancy. In fact, this is the longest period of the park’s health, stability, and beauty since its inception.
How did New Yorkers engage with the park when it first opened?
Sara: The park had almost as many visitors then as it did 20 years ago. There were about 12 million visits a year. This was the only game in town. There was no Citi Field or Yankee Stadium. There were no beaches or playgrounds. At the time, City Hall Park was the largest planned park in the city, but everyone who wanted a beautiful experience came to Central Park. It was like the 8th wonder of the world. In terms of an American experiment, people at the time thought rich and poor, black and white, gentile and Jew, wouldn’t get along, but they all came to the park and made peace with each other. It was the first park built by the people, of the people, and for the people. We are really a truly democratic American park.
Do you think New Yorkers have changed how they engage with the Park?
Sara: They’re definitely more respectful. My favorite turning point for the Conservancy was at the beginning when people were objecting to fences and rules. They hadn’t had rules in 30 years. When we were doing the Great Lawn, we made every effort to inform the public and say, “You have to keep off the grass. The grass has to grow.” About a week before it opened to the public, I was on the lawn taking photos, and I couldn’t tell you how many people yelled at me, “Lady, get off the lawn.” I had to keep saying, “I work for the Conservancy.” Before that, no one would have cared. Now, I see members of the public pick up trash. The public has bought into the fact that if you want to keep it green, you have to pitch in.
How much of the original design remains?
Sara: I give a rough estimate that one-third of the park is exactly the same, one-third is slightly different, and one-third is entirely different. That entirely different part includes the Great Lawn, which was originally a reservoir. Robert Moses put in 30 perimeter playgrounds. There is a swimming pool and skating rinks. It changed from 28 miles of pathways to 58 miles today. One of the great things the Conservancy has done with cooperation from the Department of Transportation is close several automobile entrances and exits and turn them into land for recreation and pedestrian paths. The woodlands are the hardest to restore, but we do it slowly and very carefully. We always plan for the North, South, East and West so no neighborhood is overlooked.
What do most people not realize about the park?
Sara: Most people don’t realize that there are three ways to get around the park. The carriage drives are the loop around the perimeter. The bridal paths loop up the west side. The pedestrian paths go everywhere. When Olmsted and Vaux were planning their design, they realized that if the elite didn’t want to mix, they would stay on the carriage or their horse. So, they designed the most beautiful parts of the park for pedestrians only. If you wanted to see these areas, you had to get out of your carriage or off your horse.
Who is the visionary behind the park’s future?
Sara: Douglas Blonsky is a wonderful leader. He started as Construction Manager and worked his way up to President. He is the Olmsted of our day, and like Olmsted who built the park and then managed it, Doug restored the park and now manages it.
What stability has the Conservancy brought to the park?
Sara: What’s important is that we have a wonderful partner, the City of New York, that starting with Mayor Koch, agreed to this public/private partnership. They city recently upped their contribution to the park to 25 percent of its budget. The Conservancy has to raise the other 75 percent of the $57 million budget, which takes a tremendous amount of management. That’s what the Conservancy has brought: planning and management.
The park has gone through so many ups and down over the years, and what the Conservancy has done is plan for its future. Now, there is stability and an endowment for the park. As long as the public supports us, we will have a stable, healthy Central Park.
What does Central Park mean to you?
Sara: I just love this place. It changed my life and gave me a purpose. It’s a place I take my family and feel proud of the work we have done. I grew up in the ’60s and wanted to change the world like everyone did then, and here I wound up changing 843 acres of the world. I was the lucky one chosen to keep the history.
Larry, you oversee Shakespeare Garden. What does that entail?
Larry: It includes researching the plants, ordering them, planting them, and taking care of the plants and grass. It’s taken me three years to put together a plot that I want. If you’re a good gardener, you’re never satisfied with what’s there; you are constantly changing.
Does your work change with the seasons?
Larry: Yes, it does. In the fall we plant bulbs, which are going to bloom in the spring. As the bulbs are blooming, I’m thinking about what works this year and what I want to change for next year. Right now, things like weeds are a big problem; I’m spending a lot of time weeding.
All of the plants and flowers in the garden are mentioned in works by Shakespeare. How do you choose which to plant?
Larry: Shakespeare mentioned over 180 different plants, grasses, and trees, so there are lots of choices. But if he mentions a lily, I think I can use any lily, which gives a large range of plant material to choose from.
There are a lot of really intelligent gardeners from all over the world who come into Shakespeare Garden. I think visitors from England really get it because the garden is a little messy by American standards. Things flow into each other and sometimes flow into the walkways. It has to be planned chaos. The palette changes because in the early spring most of what we have are daffodils, which are 80 percent yellow. By the time that’s over, we are ready for a change. Other than species tulips, I don’t think I have ever planted a yellow tulip. Now we are in a blue and purple period.
Are there some little-known but famous facts about the garden?
Larry: One of the benches is dedicated to Richard Burton. Sometimes I think about placing an Elizabeth Taylor rose right next to it. There are ten plaques with quotes from Shakespeare, and the plants around them are mentioned on the plaques. The Whisper Bench is one of the benches here. If someone whispers on one side, the person on the other side can hear it.
What makes the garden unique within Central Park?
Larry: First of all, it’s sort of hidden. It’s also very windy. It makes people slow down and look around.
Yesterday we had six weddings going on. People get married up at Belvedere Castle near the Whisper Bench, by the sun dial, and right at the entrance to the garden. Then they come back for their anniversaries. A really touching thing happened a year ago. A very quiet gentleman was sitting on a bench, and he said to me, “Thank you for keeping up the garden.” His wife had died, and they had gotten married in the garden. It makes you realize how special it is.
What is the history of the garden?
Larry: This garden has been here since 1912. It was developed for a nature study by the Parks Department entomologist at the request of Commissioner George Clausen.
Sara: When Mayor William J. Gaynor died in 1913, Parks Commissioner Charles B. Stover, the Mayor’s best friend, changed the name to Shakespeare Garden officially to reflect the Mayor’s favorite poet.
Larry: When the Conservancy began in 1980, one of the organization’s first projects was to redo the garden. The Rudin family paid for the restoration in 1988. The Mary Griggs Burke Foundation and the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation have endowed the garden. I have a lot of people who say, “I joined the Conservancy because of the garden.”
Where does the Conservancy fit in with taking care of the garden?
Larry: If the Conservancy weren’t here, it would be rundown again and taken over by invasive plants. Plus, there would be no one to pick up the trash. Unfortunately, our visitors leave a lot of trash.
What do you enjoy about working for the Central Park Conservancy?
Larry: Zone Gardeners are in charge of a zone. You take pride in your own little space. This four acres is sort of “my” garden. This is one of the great jobs in the Conservancy, I think. I have a lot of freedom. I submit what I want for approval, and it’s really a privilege to see the garden every day and how much it changes. And you can only experience that if you see it everyday.
The Belvedere in Central Park was conceived as a miniature castle by Calvert Vaux, co-designer of the park, in 1869. It opened with some of the best views of the city’s prized green space–the name Belvedere was chosen as it is Italian for “beautiful view.” But the years have taken their toll on the stone structure, which has not been renovated since 1983. Now the Central Park Conservancy will close it to address issues like cracked pavement, a leaky roof, and plumbing issues. Starting this Monday, February 26th, Belvedere Castle will be off-limits to the public for its restoration, and will not reopen until 2019.
Back in 2016, the Central Park Conservancy kicked off a 10-year, $300 million campaign to renovate the structures of the castle, as well as surrounding playgrounds. Closure of the castle was expected to happen last summer, but plans were pushed to this month.
According to the Conservancy, “this project will comprehensively address drainage, waterproofing, and climate control systems along with deterioration that has occurred over the last 35 years.” The work includes restoring the Belvedere’s interior and exterior masonry, expanding and modernizing mechanical systems and supporting utilities, replacing existing windows and doors, upgrading the interior and exterior lighting, and finally repairing and replacing interior floors and ceilings. The surrounding area, too, will get some TLC, as the Conservancy plans to restore the wood pavilions on the main plaza and upper terraces, and recreate a wood tower that was originally part of the large pavilion at the northwest corner.
A future phase of the project will include providing an accessible route to the Belvedere, which is one of the most heavily visited destinations in the Park. To do so, the Conservancy plans to realign the park paths between the East Drive and the castle.
The last renovation, in the 1980s, transformed the castle from a graffiti-covered ruin to the landmark we know today. These future plans will upgrade the structure even further. Surrounding playgrounds, like the Bernard Family Playground and Billy Johnson Playground, are getting upgraded as well.
The Central Park Conservancy was formed in 1980 as a nonprofit under contract with New York City to manage the park; today it’s made up of gardeners, arborists and horticulturists. The nonprofit has an annual budget of $65 million, 25 percent of which comes from the city, and the rest from private fundraising. Through these public-private partnerships, nearly $1 billion has been invested in Central Park to date.
Central Park Boathouse returns this week with a new look, a new menu and a $2.9M makeover
The Central Park Boathouse restaurant has been spruced up with $2.9 million in renovations and upgrades and is perfect-date-ready just in time for outdoor weather. The New York Post reports that the familiar structure near the park’s Fifth Avenue entrance at East 72nd Street has gotten much needed capital improvements like more seats (185 instead of 160) a new flood-proof tile floor and insulated glass that keeps the lakefront chill out along with a contemporary new look, new colors and lighting and better sightlines of the Central Park West skyline and rowboats gliding by. Even better, there’s more room for customers at the new ADA-compliant bar.
“It will feel like a porch overlooking the lake,” said owner Dean Poll, who has owned the restaurant since 2000. Though it certainly will make the space more Instagram-worthy, the big fix-up hasn’t been just for looks. The establishment has an obligation to the city to maintain and upgrade the structure.
The restaurant operates under a license agreement with the Department of Parks & Recreation, with a contract that requires Poll to invest $6 million in capital improvements; the contract has 14 more years to go, and the redesign has required about half that amount. The rest will go toward outdoor patio upgrades that are pending Landmarks Preservation Commission approval.
The boathouse, for its part, pays the city an annual fee of up to $1.702 million or 7.2 percent of gross annual receipts (whichever of those is the greater amount) up to $22 million. Percentages rise when revenues top $22 million. “We have exceeded our minimum every year,” Poll said.
SummerStage in Central Park will get a revamp and new stage for the 2019 season
CityParks SummerStage is New York City’s largest free outdoor performing arts festival, with 100 performances happening annually in neighborhood parks around the city as well as in Central Park from May-October–the majority of which are free of charge. In 2019, City Parks Foundation’s flagship SummerStage venue in Central Park will be getting a new stage, new sound system, more lighting, upgraded backstage areas, raised seating and an overall improved concert-going experience.
The overhaul is an opportunity to update a stage that’s 20 years old and a sound system nearly 10 years old, and re-envision the 5,500-capacity space holistically. The transformation will include:
A stage canopy increase of 20% in diameter and foundational support reinforced to allow for greater weight load of production elements.
A new stage that will include front thrust, added side wings, and improved access ramps.
New LED screens on stage and at positions to the left and right of the stage.
New sound system designed by Acoustic Distinctions.
Upgraded production lighting designed by Al Crawford/Arc3Design.
Upgraded artist dressing rooms.
Enhanced backstage patio area for artists and guests.Relocating pedestrian circulation around the perimeter,
removing pathways that currently cross in front of audiences and disturb viewing.
Bleacher seating for up to 880 will be raised 3 ft. above ground to improve sightlines over crowds standing on the
Ground seating with chairs can be added for up to 1900.
Upgraded VIP area at center of the house with increased capacity for 160, covered bar area, air conditioned bathrooms,
and new viewing balcony for 80. Adjacent VIP-only bleacher seating can be available for up to 260.
Upgraded VIP seating with direct sight lines at stage left for 50 under covered area and additional standing room for 30
on raised platform; plus backstage bar, seating area, and air conditioned bathrooms.
New raised, covered artist guest viewing platform for up to 150 at stage right with direct sight lines and air conditioned bathrooms.
Additional bathrooms and ADA access throughout.
Enhanced landscape and architectural lighting, pathway and egress definition.
New concession areas with high quality, accessibly-priced choices.
The venue will continue to present iconic and emerging artists from diverse genres to help make summer in New York City memorable. You can find out more about the renovation here.
Get ready for a whole new IKEA ® experience
The world and our customers’ lives are rapidly changing, and we’re taking bold steps to reach even more of the many people how and where they want to meet us.
We are excited to announce the opening of the first IKEA city center store in the U.S., which marks the beginning of our ongoing transformation and commitment to bringing the brand into the heart of urban areas. It is the latest example of how IKEA is reaching customers in new ways that are more accessible and more personalized.
The first ‘IKEA Planning Studio’ will open April 15 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, located at 999 Third Avenue. This new IKEA experience will feature a wide range of smart home design solutions for small living spaces and New York City homes.
You can make purchases at the IKEA Planning Studio, but instead of carrying your items on the subway, all purchases made at the IKEA Planning Studio will be conveniently delivered to your home. It is significantly smaller than our beloved blue box stores but will represent a new way for customers to experience and interact with the IKEA brand for urban home design.
The IKEA Planning Studio will complement the already strong presence of IKEA stores in the New York market with our stores in Brooklyn, Elizabeth, Long Island and Paramus. Stay tuned for more news and updates.
Find your favorite spring blooms in Central Park with a map and interactive guide
Spring is officially here, and there’s no better place to confirm the good news than Central Park, where the season brings a burst of color to every corner of the park’s 840 acres. Warmer weather brings beautiful blooms and a flurry of activities and events along with photogenic landscapes. The park’s Spring Guide has all you need to know about the park’s prettiest places to visit; a handy map points out where the blooms are, and you can search for your favorites and learn more about them. There are also events for families, Conservancy members and the general public that will help you make the best of the season’s beauty.
The map highlights the park’s best blooms so you can find your favorites or discover new ones, with information about what to look for and the best time to visit. A few highlights:
Central Park’s formal six-acre Conservatory Garden is divided into three smaller gardens, each with a distinct style: the northern, French-style garden; the center, Italianate garden; and the southern, English-style garden. The Garden features thousands of colorful blooms, including a popular tulip display that typically peaks the last week of April. Between April and May, look for the fragrant, colorful wisteria gracing the Garden’s beautiful pergola. LOCATION: East Side from 104th to 106th Street
Look closely for four colorful North Meadow Butterfly Gardens just northeast of the North Meadow. These gardens are full of flowers and shrubs that act as host plants and food sources for a variety of butterfly species. They are colorful, beautiful, and provide a wide variety of wonderful fragrances for visitors of all species to enjoy.
LOCATION: East Side between 102nd and 103rd Streets
If cherry trees are your favorite spring bloom, don’t miss the landscapes surrounding the Reservoir. Japan gifted Central Park and Riverside Park with thousands of cherry trees in 1912. Nearly 200 Yoshino cherry trees were planted on the east side of the Reservoir, with a similar number of Kwanzan cherry trees planted on its west side. Peak bloom time varies each year and depends on the weather, but color typically appears between late March and late May.
Central Park co-designer Frederick Law Olmsted described the 36-acre Ramble as a “wild garden.” Though the Ramble may not feature big-name spring blooms like tulips and cherry trees, you’ll spot many colorful native plants throughout its 36 acres. The Ramble also contains several rustic bridges and benches, providing a stunning backdrop to your photos.
LOCATION: Mid-Park from 73rd to 79th Streets
The park’s online Bloom Guide gives you an insider’s look at the park’s most popular blossoms and where to find them and provides even more facts on your favorites. A search through The Ramble in spring turns up bloodroot, Canada violet, cardinal flower, and many, many more.
Getting the park ready for the blooming season is no small feat, with 200-plus gardeners, groundskeepers and technicians hard at work to get the grounds groomed, seeding 300 acres of lawn, grading four miles of bridle path and flipping the switch on 150 water fountains in addition to prepping the park’s 26 baseball and softball fields for their April 6 opening.
In addition to the above bounty, you can take advantage of programs like Discovery Walks, tours and catch-and-release fishing. Spring Blooms: A Conservatory Garden Tour ($15/$10 for members) happens the last Saturday of every month; the staff-led tour offers an opportunity to learn about the garden’s history, design, and blooms from the people who know it best as well as behold thousands of colorful tulips, two picturesque allées of blooming crabapple trees, and a magnificent wrought-iron gate made in 1894.
4 DAYS. 400 BRANDS. COUNTLESS WAYS TO CELEBRATE DESIGN.
MARCH 21-24, 2019
Thursday, March 21: 10:00 A.M.-6:00 P.M. Open to design trade & VIP consumer ticket holders.
Friday-Saturday, March 22-23: 10:00 A.M.-6:00 P.M. Open to all ticket holders.
Sunday, March 24: 10:00 A.M.-5:00 P.M. Open to all ticket holders.
PIERS 92 & 94
55th Street at 12th Avenue
New York City 10019
Frida Kahlo: Communist, Feminist, Global Commodity
A look at a new retrospective of the Mexican artist’s work at the Brooklyn Museum.
Long before the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo was a global commodity, she was a communist. As a precocious teenager, she joined the Communist Party of Mexico and in her twenties, she led union rallies with her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera. It is said that she decorated her headboard with images of Marx, Engels and Lenin. In 1954, 11 days before she died from an arterial blood clot at age 47, Kahlo marched in a protest against U.S. involvement in the coup that deposed leftist president Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán in Guatemala. At her funeral, a red flag bearing a sickle and hammer was draped over her casket. “I’m more and more convinced it’s only through communism that we can become human,” she wrote in her diary during an extended stay in New York and Detroit in the 1930s. Kahlo’s radical politics built on her experiences as a mixed-race, disabled, bisexual, polyamorous, Jewish feminist who suffered from chronic pain, which she alleviated with tequila. Of her condition, she wrote, “I am not sick. I am broken.”
The Brooklyn Museum’s blowout exhibition “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving,” the largest show dedicated to the artist in U.S. history, is a testament to Kahlo’s political and artistic life in all of its complexities and contradictions. Over 350 objects — from her eyebrow pencils and her favored pink lipstick to her Oaxacan ceramics and shawls — overshadow less than 15 paintings. The exhibition does not seek to challenge Kahlo’s rise to global stardom as a massively profitable cultural commodity — Bank of America, Delta Airlines and Revlon, Kahlo’s preferred lipstick brand, sponsored the exhibition — but for the most part, corporate sponsorship does not distract from Kahlo’s political and aesthetic vision.
The exhibition begins with a series of videos and photographs documenting the Mexico that Kahlo grew up in during the Revolution and its aftermath. Kahlo was born in 1907 — when Porfirio Díaz and his aristocratic regime still ruled Mexico, but later she fudged the dates, claiming 1910 as the year of her birth in alignment with the start of the Mexican Revolution. She grew up in a lower-middle-class household, the third of four daughters, in Mexico City suburb of Coyoacán. Her Jewish father, a photographer, immigrated to Mexico from Germany in 1892, and her mother — of Spanish and indigenous P’urhépecha descent — was from Oaxaca. A series of black and white silver gelatin prints taken by her father depict Kahlo posing for her father at a young age wearing the stoic, inscrutable expression that she would return to in her self-portraits later in life.
Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907–1954). Appearances Can Be Deceiving, n.d. Charcoal and colored pencil on paper, 11¼ x 8 in. (29 x 20.8 cm). Collection of Museo Frida Kahlo.
The photos progress from Kahlo at age two to her early adulthood in the post-Revolution years, when progressive political reform and a series of public works programs swept the nation. We see Kahlo at a march for the Union of Mexican Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors; Kahlo dressed as a communist comrade with her classmates at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria; Kahlo with braids and a rebozo shawl talking to peasants in the countryside; Kahlo in a wheelchair at a protest of the CIA’s involvement in Guatemala in 1954.
In Kahlo’s social circles, the appeal of socialism went hand-in-hand with the rise of a resurgent Mexican nationalism. The aftermath of the Revolution led to a period of national identity building, spearheaded by the minister of public education, José Vasconcelos — and joined by artists like Kahlo and her husband, Rivera. The movement celebrated Mexico’s multi-ethnic heritage, or mestizaje, in particular, by appropriating indigenous culture from southern Mexico for an identity that could unite all Mexicans — white, brown and mestizo into a “cosmic race.” In one gallery, curators recreate Kahlo’s Mexico City home, the Casa Azul, with displays of pre-Colombian ceramics, vases and sculptures dating as far back as 200 B.C.E, as well as votive paintings and folk art from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection.
Kahlo took political, aesthetic and sartorial inspiration from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec — Mexico’s narrowest point, which connects the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf. It’s where Kahlo’s mother had roots, though Kahlo herself never visited. An extensive set of cases display Kahlo’s wardrobe drawn from matriarchal Tehuana culture — lace headdresses, embroidered floral skirts, woven shawls, cotton and silk tunics in magenta, golden yellow, and azure — at times with Chinese and European flourishes. Another section is dedicated to the orthopedic corsets, prosthetic legs and plaster casts (some painted with the communist hammer and sickle) that she wore beneath the colorful dresses to support her injured spine. “Appearances can be deceiving,” a nearby charcoal sketch is titled, revealing the medical devices hidden beneath the elaborate costume. (The exhibition was named after the 1946 drawing).
The show reminds viewers that for much of Kahlo’s life, Diego Rivera and his sweeping murals depicting agrarian reform and campesino struggles overshadowed Kahlo and her self-portraits. A 1933 article from the Detroit News, printed on one gallery wall, shows Kahlo painting in her studio with the accompanying headline: “Wife of Master Painter Gleefully Dabbles in Works of Art.” A demeaning Time Magazine review from 1938 of a Kahlo exhibition in Manhattan reads, “Too shy to show her work before, black-browed little Frida has been painting since 1926, when an automobile smashup put her in a plaster cast, ‘bored as hell.’”
Frida Kahlo (Mexican, 1907–1954). Self-Portrait with Monkeys, 1943. Oil on canvas, 32 x 24 ¾ in. (81.5 x 63 cm). The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th Century Mexican Art and the Vergel Foundation.
When I visited the show, I overheard several young women quietly remarking that they always considered Kahlo a more compelling artist than her husband Rivera. Indeed, today — Kahlo stands as an icon for all sorts of marginalized groups as well as cultural elites. Unlike her husband, her reach extends far beyond her paintings into the worlds of high fashion, queer and Chicano identity politics and both grassroots and corporate feminism. (As one egregious example, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May wore a Frida Kahlo bracelet to give a speech at a Conservative Party conference in 2017.) For better or worse, the expansive Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum leans into all of these narratives at once, allowing the viewer to take home what they will.
Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving
Thru May 12
While the New York City subway tumbles along as one of the oldest public transit systems in the world, in the past few months the MTA has updated several stations across the city with gorgeous new art installations. The MTA Arts & Design division has worked with local artists since the 1980’s to bring artwork to more than 260 stations. These artists often ground their work in the history of the neighborhoods, telling the stories of the streets above.
1. Broadway Station, Astoria
The January re-opening of this elevated station in Astoria, Queens on the N, W lines brought landscapes of glass filled with vibrant color. Diane Carr, in her “Outlook” installation, took the valleys, rivers and streams that once made up the neighborhood and sent them through a kaleidoscope.
2. 28th St Station, Manhattan
The artist Nancy Blum used glass mosaics of flowering plants to bring some life to the recently renovated station on the 6 line. The Brooklyn based artist has designed hatch covers for the city of Seattle and a glass installation in the San Fransisco General Hospital, each of which focuses on floral designs.
For this project, she sourced the flowers from the nearby Madison Square Park Perennial Collection, profiling plants that can survive both the harsh winters and humid summers of the city. “Roaming Underfoot” transforms the concrete station into a garden filled with color. See more photos of this station here.
3. 23rd St Station, Manhattan
Artist William Wegman converted portraits of his Weimaraners in plaid shirts and raincoats into mosaics with the help of mosaic designer Mayer of Munich. Wegman started taking photos of the dogs in the ’70’s after he got a Weimaraner and named him Man Ray after the surrealist photographer. Man Ray, the dog, was the star of Wegman’s photography and the artist continued to collaborate with Weimaraners for his decades long career. In the station, the Weimaraners are surrounded by beautiful light blue and gold backgrounds that brighten up the look of this station on the F/M line. The dogs watch out for the next train or gaze at the crowds just like the passengers.
4. 145 St-Lenox Ave Station, Harlem
A line of drummers dressing in purple coats and hats greet commuters at this Harlem hub on the 3 line. The mosaics composed of glass and ceramic were installed in November 2018 as a part of Derek Fordjour‘s “Parade” installation. Fordjour, an artist based in Harlem, captured the bright colors and party vibe of the neighborhood’s historic parades. The pink hues and pastel yellows of his paintings and collages were converted into mosaic by Miotto Mosaic Art Studios. Now, passengers can experience the parade year round.
5. 167th St Station, Bronx
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, James Baldwin and Reggie Jackson all look out at busy passengers in artist Rico Gatson’s series of new portraits in this B/D station in the Bronx. The portraits are an addition to the artist’s ongoing “Icons” series, which was exhibited at the Studio Museum in 2017. In this installation, the artist focused on inspiring figures important to the Bronx, translating photographs into glass mosaics. Geometric lines of orange, yellow and blue emanate from these inspiring figures. “Beacons” captures the rich culture and history of the borough through its icons.