New York City

New York City

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The New York area was first discovered by the Europeans when Henry Hudson, the English captain of the Dutch East India Company vessel De Halve Maen, laid anchor at Sandy Hook, before sailing up what is now known as the Hudson River.

In 1614 Dutch merchants established a trading post at Fort Orange. Ten years later thirty families came from Holland to establish a settlement that became known as New Netherland. The Dutch government gave exclusive trading rights to the Dutch West India Company and over the next few years other colonists arrived a large settlement was established on Manhattan Island.

Peter Minui, who became governor of New Netherland, purchased the island from Native Americans in 1626 for $24 worth of trinkets, beads and knives. The chief port on Manhattan was named New Amsterdam. To encourage further settlement, the Dutch West India Company offered free land along the Hudson River. Families who came from Holland to establish estates in this area included the Roosevelts, the Stuyvesants and the Schuylers.

Peter Stuyvesant became governor in 1646 and during his eighteen year administration, the population grew from 2,000 to 8,000. Descendants of these early settlers included three presidents of the United States: Martin Van Buren (1837-41), Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45).

In 1664 the English fleet arrived and demanded the surrender of the New Netherlands. Peter Stuyvesant wanted to fight but without the support of the other settlers, he was forced to allow the English to take control of the territory. New Amsterdam was now renamed New York, after the Duke of York (the future James II). Other name changes included Albany (Fort Orange), Kingston (Wiltwyck) and Wilmington (Fort Christina). New York City occupies Manhattan and Staten islands, the western end of Long Island, several islands in New York Harbor and Long Island Sound and a portion of the mainland.

Fernando Wood, a leading figure in the Tammary Society, served as mayor of the city (1855-59 and 1859-61). Wood was considered to be corrupt and was severely criticised for his opposition to the American Civil War. Wood made several speeches attacking President Abraham Lincoln and was blamed for causing the Draft Riots in July, 1863.

Samuel Gompers arrived in New York in 1863: "New York in those days had no skyscrapers. Horse tram cars ran across town. The buildings were generally small and unpretentious. Then, as now, the East Side was the home of the latest immigrants who settled in colonies making the Irish, the German, the English, and the Dutch, and the Ghetto districts. Father began making cigars at home and I helped him. Our house was just opposite a slaughter house. All day long we could see the animals being driven into the slaughter-pens and could hear the turmoil and the cries of the animals. The neighborhood was filled with the penetrating, sickening odor."

In 1870 William Tweed, with the support of the Tammary Society, was appointed as commissioner of public works in New York. This enabled Tweed to carry out wholesale corruption. For example, he purchased 300 benches for $5 each and resold them to the city for $600. Tweed also organised the building of City Hall Park. Originally estimated to cost $350,000, by the time it was finished, expenditure had reached $13,000,000.

Information about Tweed's corrupt activities were passed to Thomas Nast, a cartoonist working for Harper's Weekly. Nast now began a campaign to expose Tweed's corruption. Tweed was furious and told the editor: "I don't care a straw for your newspaper articles, my constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing them damned pictures."

On 21st July, the New York Times published the contents of the New York County ledger books. This revealed that thermometers were costing $7,500 and brooms were being charged at a staggering $41,190 apiece. Tweed's friends were commissioned to do the work. George Miller, a carpenter, was paid $360,747 for a month's labour, whereas James Ingersoll received $5,691,144 for furniture and carpets.

In 1871 Samuel Tilden established a committee to look into Tweed's activities. Jimmy O'Brien, the sheriff of New York, believed Tweed was not paying him enough money for his services. Disgruntled, he passed documents to Tilden's committee. Tweed was arrested and found guilty of corruption, was sentenced to 12 years in jail. William Grace (1880-88) was another mayor who was investigated for corruption.

John Kelly and Richard Croker, of the Tammary Society held power in New York after the removal of William Tweed from power. They held various posts and were constantly being accused of financial irregularities. Charles Parkhurst, the president of the Society for the Prevention of Crime, led the campaign against city corruption, but Croker remained in power until 1901 when he was defeated by Seith Low.

The journalist, Lincoln Steffens, has argued that Low was a successful mayor: "The mayor of New York, Seth Low, was a business man and the son of a business man, rich, educated, honest, and trained to his political job. Seth Low and his party in power and his backers were not radicals in any sense. Mr. Low himself was hardly a liberal; he was what would be called in England a conservative. He accepted the system; he took over the government as generations of corrupters had made it, and he was trying, without any fundamental change, and made it an efficient, orderly business-like organization for the protection and the furtherance of all business, private and public." His good work was continued by John Mitchel (1913-17) and Fiorello La Guardia (1932-1944).

In the 19th century New York became the home of an increasing number of European immigrants. In 1890 over 640,000 people living in the city had been born in Europe. This was 42 per cent of the 1,515,000 population and included large numbers from Germany (211,000), Ireland (190,000), Russia (49,000), Austria-Hungary (48,000), Italy (40,000) and England (36,000).

Jacob Riis wrote about the migration to New York in his book, How the Other Half Lives (1890): "Ever since the civil war New York has been receiving the overflow of coloured population from the Southern cities. In the last decade this migration has grown to such proportions that it is estimated that our Blacks have quite doubled in number since the Tenth Census.... Cleanliness is the characteristic of the Negro in his new surroundings, as it was his virtue in the old. In this respect he is immensely the superior of the lowest of the whites, the Italians and the Polish Jews, below whom he has been classed in the past in the tenant scale. This was shown by an inquiry made last year by the Real Estate Record. It proved agents to be practically unanimous in the endorsement of the Negro as a clean, orderly, and profitable tenant. Poverty, abuse, and injustice alike the Negro accepts with imperturbable cheerfulness."

By 1910 the number of people living in the city that had been born in Europe had increased to 1,944,000. The major groups now came from Russia (484,000), Italy (341,000), Germany (278,000), Austria-Hungary (267,000) and Ireland (253,000).

Of the 5,400,000 immigrants who arrived in the United States between 1820 and 1860, about 3,700,000 entered in New York. Ellis Island, an area of about 27 acres 1.6 km southwest of Manhattan Island, served as the country's major immigration station between 1892 and 1924. During this period and estimated 17 million people were processed by the immigration authorities. From 1943 until 1954 Ellis Island was used as a detention station for aliens and deportees.

New York City occupies Manhattan and Staten islands, the western end of Long Island, several islands in New York Harbor and Long Island Sound and a portion of the mainland. The city area comprises 304 square miles (787 square km) and has a population over 7,300,000 and is the largest urban agglomeration in the United States.

New York in those days had no skyscrapers. The neighborhood was filled with the penetrating, sickening odor.

On either side of the narrow entrance to Bandits' Roost is "the Bend". Abuse is the normal condition of "the Bend," murder is everyday crop, with the tenants not always the criminals. In this block between Bayard, Park, Mulberry, and Baxter Streets, "the Bend" proper, the late Tenement House Commission counted 155 deaths of children in a specimen year (1882). Their percentage of the total mortality in the block was 68.28, while for the whole city the proportion was only 46.20. In No. 59 next to Bandits' Roost, fourteen persons died that year, and eleven of them were children; in No. 61 eleven, and eight of them not yet five years old.

Ever since the civil war New York has been receiving the overflow of coloured population from the Southern cities. In the last decade this migration has grown to such proportions that it is estimated that our Blacks have quite doubled in number since the Tenth Census. Whether the exchange has been of advantage to the Negro may well be questioned. Trades of which he had practical control in his Southern home are not open to him here. I know that it may be answered that there is no industrial proscription of colour; that it is a matter of choice. Perhaps so. At all events he does not choose them. How many coloured carpenters or masons has anyone seen at work in New York?

Cleanliness is the characteristic of the Negro in his new surroundings, as it was his virtue in the old. It proved agents to be practically unanimous in the endorsement of the Negro as a clean, orderly, and profitable tenant.

Poverty, abuse, and injustice alike the Negro accepts with imperturbable cheerfulness. His philosophy is of the kind that has no room for repining. Whether he lives in an Eighth Ward barrack or in a tenement with a brown-stone front and pretensions to the tile of "flat," he looks at the sunny side of life and enjoys it. He loves fine clothes and good living a good deal more than he does a bank account.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children maintains five of these boys' lodging-houses, and one for girls, in the city. The Duane Street Lodging House alone has sheltered since its foundation in 1855 nearly a quarter of a million different boys. In all of the lodging-houses together, 12,153 boys and girls were sheltered and taught last year. Besides these, the Society has established and operates in the tenement districts twenty-one industrial schools, co-ordinate with the public schools in authority, for the children of the poor who cannot find room in the city's school-houses, or are too ragged to go there; two free reading-rooms, a dress-making and typewriting school and a laundry for the instruction of girls; a sick-children's mission in the city and two on the sea-shore, where poor mothers may take their babies; a cottage by the sea for crippled girls, and a brush factory for crippled boys in Forty-fourth Street.

The Italian school in Leonard Street, alone, had an average attendance of over six hundred pupils last year. The daily average attendance at all of them was 4,105, while 11,331 children were registered and taught. When the fact that there were among these 1,132 children of drunken parents, and 416 that had been found begging in the street, is contrasted with the showing of $1,337.21 deposited in the school savings banks by 1,745 pupils, something like an adequate idea is gained by the scope of the Society's work in the city.

The mayor of New York, Seth Low, was a business man and the son of a business man, rich, educated, honest, and trained to his political job. He accepted the system; he took over the government as generations of corrupters had made it, and he was trying, without any fundamental change, and made it an efficient, orderly business-like organization for the protection and the furtherance of all business, private and public.

It is estimated that the population of New York City contains 80 per cent of people who either are foreign-born or who are the children of foreign-born parents. Consequently, in a city like New York, the problem of learning the art of government is handed over to a population that begins in point of experience very low down. It many of the cities of the United States, indeed in almost all of them, the population not only is thus largely untrained in the art of self-government but it is not even homogeneous; so that an American city is confronted, not only with the necessity of instructing large and rapidly growing bodies of people in the art of government but it is compelled at the same time to assimilate strangely different component parts into an American community. It will be apparent to the student that either of these functions by itself would be difficult enough. When both are found side by side, the problem is increasingly difficult as to each. Together they represent a problem such as confronts no city in Europe.

We lived there for three days - mother and we five children, the youngest of whom was three years old. Because of the rigorous physical examination that we had to submit to, particularly of the eyes, there was this terrible anxiety that one of us might be rejected. And if one of us was, what would the rest of the family do? My sister was indeed momentarily rejected; she had been so ill and had cried so much that her eyes were absolutely bloodshot, and mother was told, "Well, we can't let her in." but fortunately, mother was an indomitable spirit and finally made them understand that if her child had a few hours' rest and a little bite to eat she would be all right. In the end we did get through.

It is such an amazing fantasy of stone, glass, and iron, a fantasy constructed by crazy giants, monsters longing after beauty, stormy souls full of wild energy. All these Berlins, Parises, and other "big" cities are trifles in comparison with New York. Socialism should first be realized here - that is the first thing you think of, when you see the amazing houses, machines, etc.

Those first days in New York were filled with opportunities to check our prior conceptions of America against reality. The Times-Square-Broadway-42nd Street area lived up to all expectations, with its bright, movie-like quality and the added musical comedy touch provided by pickets for ever circling in front of the Brass Rail restaurant delivering in unison their eternal message: "Brass Rail's on Strike Please Pass By."

Of course we were told that New York is "not typical" of America how untypical we were not then in a position to judge - but we did get the impression there was a distinct New York personality. The unique feature of this personality seemed the bright spark of momentary interest lit in New Yorkers by the most casual of contacts.

Roaming the streets of New York, we encountered many examples of this delightful quality of New Yorkers, forever on their toes, violently, restlessly involving themselves in the slightest situation brought to their attention, always posing alternatives, always ready with an answer or an argument.

The New York skyline was amazing! The towering buildings were like the castles of giants. They seemed to come right down to the water's edge. I had something of the feeling of awe I had when I first saw the giant redwood trees in California.

We tied up at one of the city docks and I stepped onto the streets of New York. Fearful of the intricacies of subway travel, I took a taxi to Harlem and went at once to the house the young man had told me about. It was on a beautiful tree-lined street, 139th between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. I almost had to show my law degree before I got the room at ten dollars a week.

I was now living among the upper classes. Harlem was at that time being taken over by the Negro people as they moved uptown from Hell's Kitchen. Blacks were seeking better conditions, as escape from the terrible downtown slum. Class stratification was becoming noticeable. Some Negroes were already trying to find a way to share in the exploitation of their Black brothers. Speculation in dwelling houses was on a grand scale.

Strivers' Row was designed by Leiand Stanford White for white middle-class occupancy a generation or two before. The houses were being taken over by Negro doctors, lawyers, social climbers - all seeking not only to better their living conditions but also to establish themselves in a prestigious location. It was one of the economic phases of what was sometimes called "the Negro Renaissance." Harlem, the new Negro community, was offering a market in which super-exploitation was the order of the day. Negro merchants were trying to find a place near the top; others were trying to gain a foothold on the political ladder. The black literati were stirring. Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, the artist Aaron Douglas, and a host of poets, writers and musicians were emerging.


The original location of the renowned Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Fifth Avenue is sold to Bethlehem Engineering Corporation for an estimated $20 million. In just a few years the building is demolished, becoming the site of the world’s most ambitious building project – the Empire State Building.

Former General Motors executive John Jakob Raskob, along with Coleman du Pont, Pierre S. du Pont, Louis G. Kaufman, and Ellis P. Earle, form Empire State, Inc. and name Alfred E. Smith, former Governor of New York, to head the corporation.

Construction of the Empire State Building begins on March 17. Occupying a central spot on Fifth Avenue, it is to be the world’s first 100+ story building. With the direction of architects Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates and builders Starrett Bros. & Eken, the framework rises 4 ½ stories per week.

In a record-breaking 1 year and 45 days, construction on the building is completed. The 102-story building is the talk of the town and, on May 1, President Hoover presses a button in Washington, D.C., officially opening the building and turning on the Empire State Building’s lights for the very first time.

As the world’s tallest building, the Empire State Building quickly becomes an acclaimed tourist attraction. People from across the world flock to the building, paying 10 cents to peer through a telescope at New York City. In 6 months, the building collects more than $3,000 in nickels and dimes.

“King Kong” debuts in New York City on March 2nd, putting the Empire State Building front-and-center for one of cinema’s most famous films. It’s the first of many iconic roles the building will play on the silver screen and among its most important pop culture moments.

Fifteen years after its opening, the Empire State Building had become the headquarters for several major organizations and approximately 15,000 employees. By this point, the Empire State was among the world’s most profitable buildings and one of its most recognizable and beloved pieces of architecture.

To allow more stations to use the Empire State Building antenna, the building installs a new 222-foot tall, 60-ton antenna, pushing the spire height to 1,472 feet.

The American Society of Civil Engineers selects the Empire State Building as one of the seven greatest engineering achievements in America’s history, ranking it alongside the Hoover Dam and Panama Canal – one of many distinctions the building has received over the years.

As a symbol of welcome and freedom to visitors, four large beacon lights are installed at the foot of the tower. These beacons, which could be seen across the city, were known as “The Freedom Lights.”

Lawrence A. Wien, Peter L. Malkin, and Harry B. Helmsley buy the Empire State Building for $65 million (approximately $557 million today). The price, which does not include the land, is the highest ever paid for a single building.

The Empire State Building serves as the finish line for the Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race, which saw 360 “runners” – men and women piloting jets, propeller planes, and helicopters – make the long trans-Atlantic trek from London’s Post Office Tower to New York City.

The Empire State Building Observatory receives its 50 millionth visitor. Today, we welcome millions every year to our incredible observatories!

To honor the United States Bicentennial, the Empire State Building installs colored floodlights to illuminate the building at night, lighting up in red, white and blue. This led to today’s very popular Lighting Partners program, which you can learn more about on our Tower Lights Page.

February 15 marks the inaugural Empire State Building Annual Run-Up, hosted by the New York Road Runner Club, challenging racers to climb the more than 1,500 steps to the top. Today, the Run-Up remains a time-honored tradition at ESB that we host every year.

Learn more about this year’s race here.

On May 18, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission declares the Empire State Building a landmark.

The Empire State Building is recognized as a National Historic Landmark by the National Parks Services.

On February 14, the first Valentine’s Day weddings take place at the Empire State Building. More than 250 couples have exchanged their vows during the event since its inception. The annually televised event is covered by news outlets around the globe.

Looking to pop the question? We know just the place to do it. Learn more about our observatories.

As the Empire State Building celebrates its 75th anniversary, ownership plans the Empire State ReBuilding program. A sweeping refresh of the entire building, the program includes a complete restoration of ESB’s art deco lobby and the faithful recreation of its original gold and aluminum ceiling.

The Empire State Building is ranked #1 on the list of America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects, beating out other national landmarks including the White House, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Washington Cathedral, and more.

President Bill Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Anthony E. Malkin announce the Empire State Building's groundbreaking energy efficiency retrofit program. An unprecedented, multi-year program, it involves a range of tech, systems, and architectural optimizations making it the global model for retrofitting existing buildings.

The $65 million modernization program introduces new elevators, climate systems, and technology upgrades. 6,514 ESB windows are replaced in the biggest window replacement ever authorized by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and frames are installed in the building’s original distinctive red.

On September 29, the newly renovated ceiling in the Fifth Avenue lobby is unveiled, precisely recreated in the image of the original on opening day. A masterful art deco mural, it takes artisans 20,000 working hours to execute the renovation – longer than the original construction of the building.

Want to learn more about this incredible feat? Visit our Design & Architecture page.

We’ve gone digital! The Empire State Building connects with more than 500,000 fans globally through Facebook and Twitter. Today, that number is in the millions – and rising! Are you following the World’s Most Famous Building?

The Empire State Building receives the 2011 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The same year, the building earns its LEED Gold certification, in recognition of its modernization efforts, including the Empire State ReBuilding program.

The Empire State Building unveils a new LED lighting system capable of 16,000,000 different colors. With this upgrade, the building has even more ways to wow tourists and New Yorkers alike.

Want to see how we’re lit right now? Check out our Tower Lights page.

On August 24, a new 34th Street visitor entrance is unveiled and opened to the general public. For nearly all our visitors, its where they first step into the beautiful world of the Empire State Building and features our welcome wall – a social media icon – as well as a realistic scale model of the building.

After a comprehensive renovation of the 2nd and 80th floor exhibition spaces, a new Empire State Building is revealed. Visitors can now live the Empire State Building experience like never before, stepping into a world of history, pop culture, glamor and NYC culture. The building’s transformation includes a stunning, reimagined 102nd floor observatory, offering the most breathtaking views the city has to offer.

No heat. Leaking roofs. Mold and pests. New York City public housing has become synonymous with dilapidated living conditions. But it wasn’t always like this.

No heat. Leaking roofs. Mold and pests. Interminable waits for basic repairs.

Public housing in New York City has become synonymous with the dilapidated living conditions many of its more than 400,000 residents have endured in recent years.

But it wasn’t always like this in the 325 housing projects owned and managed by the New York City Housing Authority, also known as Nycha. The country’s largest public housing system was once a seemingly reliable option for the working poor . Nycha successfully endured some of New York City’s most turbulent eras while other public housing buildings across the country came tumbling down.

Now, Nycha is at a crossroads. As part of a settlement in June in which Nycha admitted to covering up its actions and lying to the federal government, a court-appointed monitor will soon oversee the beleaguered agency as it tries to come up with billions of dollars to keep thousands of its aging buildings habitable for decades to come.

To understand how Nycha arrived at this point, we combed through our photo archives for forgotten images and spoke to longtime residents, former housing officials, historians and others about the housing authority’s often overlooked and surprising eight-decade history. That story, in their words, is below.


A Progressive Housing Solution to Fix New York City

Nycha was founded in 1934 as Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia’s antidote to the shoddy tenements of New York City’s housing crisis during the Great Depression. Public housing was trumpeted as the duty of progressive government, and the swift construction of sprawling complexes became a slum-clearing machine that reshaped the city’s urban landscape.

But Nycha developments were not poorhouses: Unlike other cities, New York effectively barred lower-income residents from public housing. From 1953 to 1968, it excluded most residents on welfare by screening applicants using a list of moral factors, including alcoholism, irregular work history, single motherhood and lack of furniture.

Richard Plunz Professor and author of “A History of Housing in New York City”

[Nycha] was a creation of liberal politics in New York. In the depth of the Depression there had to be jobs and housing that people could afford.

Nicholas D. Bloom Professor and author of “Public Housing That Worked”

They were relatively low-rise walk-ups built to extraordinarily high-quality standards. Basically, as good or better as middle-class housing. They were built for a very carefully-selected tenancy, mostly working families that even during the Depression had no social service background or history.

Natividad Nieves, 78 Resident of the Queensbridge Houses in Queens since 1945

When my mother came, only white people lived here, until the 1950s.


The problem of this housing, though, was that it was too good in many people’s eyes. The response was projects like the Queensbridge Houses: much bigger projects, more repetitive design, units finished at a much more basic level, and a lot of economizing done.

Elaine Walker, 80 Resident of the Queensbridge Houses since 1958

In my day, the staff was the best. They had their job, they did their job, and they were qualified for their job. You’d call, and it would be fixed right away.


The amazing thing about New York is the scale of this.


You have 69 projects with over 1,000 units by the 1960s. That’s amazing, and these are enormous developments that are created. Maintaining such a big system was already a challenge, but by then it was too late. The genie had left the bottle.


A Changing Mission, and New Problems

Nycha was housing about 500,000 New Yorkers by the sixties. Minority residents now outnumbered whites, but the percentage of tenants on welfare was just half the national average for public housing.

Nycha loosened its selectivity in 1968, under immense pressure from the federal government and social justice activists, and the percentage of residents on public assistance doubled by the early seventies. And by the eighties, many of New York City’s troubles also plagued housing developments : crime, drugs, vandalism.

However, the authority’s robust management capabilities, financial resources and tough policing kept it afloat while public housing in the rest of the nation spiraled into disrepair and demolishment.


The number of social issues increased significantly. The challenge managerially went up. They had to replace an enormous number of windows, and elevator maintenance became much more difficult because of the vandalism. It was a break-and-repair kind of cycle.


There would be mailboxes bashed into and broken. Because back then, everyone was getting paper checks, for their jobs or welfare. So you could cash them in anywhere. It didn’t matter who you were.

Joseph Shuldiner General manager at Nycha from 1986 to 1990

Obviously the authority had much more staff at that time. We had 17,000 employees, not including the 2,700 police officers. The authority at that time had its own police force. My impression in those days is that there was a lot of capacity. There wasn’t unlimited money. We couldn’t renovate every building out there, but if a problem came along there was enough money to address that particular problem.

Gregory Umbach Professor and author of “The Last Neighborhood Cops”

As New York falls apart in the 1970s, in ways that have been largely forgotten, the housing authority’s projects were anchors of stability and safety. They were places that you wanted to get into as the neighborhoods were deteriorating around you. All of this changes in the late 1980s. The 1980s is the first time when you’re more at risk of criminal violence on Nycha property than you are in the surrounding neighborhood.

Famous Weddings

Wedding of Interest

1780-12-14 US founding father Alexander Hamilton (25) weds Elizabeth Schuyler (23) at Schuyler Mansion in Albany, New York

Wedding of Interest

1807-02-21 US President Martin Van Buren (24) weds highschool sweetheart Hannah Hoes (23) in Catskill, New York

Wedding of Interest

1811-01-01 Writer James Fenimore Cooper (21) weds Susan Augusta de Lancey in Mamaroneck, New York

Wedding of Interest

1824-10-08 Salt Lake City founder Brigham Young (23) weds first wife Miriam Angeline Works (18) in Port Byron, New York

Wedding of Interest

1827-01-17 Religious leader Joseph Smith Jr (21) weds church group movement leader Emma Smith (22) in South Bainbridge, New York

Wedding of Interest

1838-09-14 Newly escaped slave Frederick Douglass marries free woman Anne Murray in New York

Wedding of Interest

1844-09-29 New York Politician Boss Tweed (21) weds Mary Jane C. Skaden

Wedding of Interest

1848-08-10 Inventor Samuel Morse (57) weds Sarah Elizabeth Griswold in Utica, New York

Wedding of Interest

1858-02-10 US President Millard Fillmore (58) weds Caroline Carmichael (43) in Albany, New York

Wedding of Interest

1867-01-28 Labor union leader Samuel Gompers (17) weds co-worker Sophia Julian (16) in Brooklyn, New York

Wedding of Interest

1867-08-08 Engineer George Westinghouse (20) weds Marguerite Erskine Walker in Brooklyn, New York

Wedding of Interest

1887-11-09 Anna Mary Robertson (27), later to become painter known as Grandma Moses, weds Thomas Salmon Moses in New York

Wedding of Interest

1898-03-06 Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (25) weds political activist Alice Dunbar (22) in New York

Wedding of Interest

1905-03-17 Eleanor Roosevelt (20) marries Franklin D. Roosevelt (23) later 32nd US President in New York, & given away by her uncle, 26th President Theodore Roosevelt

Wedding of Interest

1912-06-26 US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (24) weds Janet Pomeroy Avery at Auburn, New York

Wedding of Interest

1913-10-31 Historian and philosopher Will Durant (27) weds researcher Ariel Kaufman (15) at New York's City Hall

Wedding of Interest

1920-04-03 Novelist and short story writer F. Scott Fitzgerald (23) weds novelist Zelda Sayre (19) at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York

Wedding of Interest

1923-04-30 Golfer champion Walter Hagen (30) weds Edna Straus at the Hotel Biltmore in New York

Wedding of Interest

1928-06-16 New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey (26) weds stage actress Frances Eileen Hutt

Wedding of Interest

1933-09-29 NY Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig (30) weds Eleanor Twitchell in New Rochelle, New York

Wedding of Interest

1937-09-17 Economist John Kenneth Galbraith (29) weds author Catherine Atwater (24) at the Reformed Church of North Hempstead in New York

Wedding of Interest

1940-08-31 Football player and coach Vince Lombardi (27) weds Marie Planitz at Our Lady of Refuge Church in Bronx, New York

Wedding of Interest

1942-07-26 Science fiction author Isaac Asimov (22) weds Gertrude Blugerman in Brooklyn, New York

Wedding of Interest

1945-01-06 Future 41st US President George H. W. Bush (20) weds Barbara Pierce (19) at the First Presbyterian Church in Rye, New York

Wedding of Interest

1946-07-24 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Howard Hanson (49) weds Margaret Elizabeth Nelson at the Chautauqua Institution in New York

Wedding of Interest

1948-03-28 Musician Nat King Cole (29) weds jazz singer Maria Hawkins (25) at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York

Wedding of Interest

1951-02-27 Activist W.E.B. Du Bois (83) weds award-winning author Shirley Graham (54) in Queens, New York

Wedding of Interest

1953-06-15 Sci-Fi author Arthur C. Clarke (35) weds Marilyn Torgenson in New York

Wedding of Interest

1953-07-02 Children's author Roald Dahl (36) weds stage actress Patricia Neal (27) at Trinity Church in New York

Wedding of Interest

1953-12-27 Broadcasting pioneer Roone Arledge (22) weds Joan Heise at St. Frances de Chantal Parish in Wantagh, New York

Wedding of Interest

1956-06-29 Actress and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe (30) weds for the 3rd time, this time marrying playwright Arthur Miller (40) at White Plains Court House in White Plains, New York

Wedding of Interest

1965-05-15 Director Martin Scorsese (22) weds Laraine Brennan in New York

7. Monarch Underwear Company Fire

This mighty fire took place in New York at 623 Broadway. It began March 19, 1958 and resulted in 24 fatalities. The fire raged from between Houston St. and Bleeker St. where even more people were killed. The blaze began in a processing oven of the S.T.S. Textile Company. Ironically the building was located a few blocks from Washington Place, near Greene Street, which was the former locale of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. It was in part due to the devastation of this fire that residents, law makers, and government officials were spurred to action in terms of establishing a public safety code.

A brief history of blackouts in New York City

During the blackout on July 14, 1977, a Strauss Store on Liberty Avenue in Jamaica, Queens, had its metal curtain ripped down by looters. Photo Credit: Jefferson Siegel

New York City may be known as the city that never sleeps, but that doesn’t mean it can’t go dark.

On Saturday, a Con Edison power failure resulted in a blackout that affected 72,000 customers in the heart of Manhattan. The power outage stopped subway trains in their tracks, stalled elevators and knocked out traffic lights, while the billboards in Times Square went dark and 26 Broadway shows were canceled.

But the five-hour blackout was not the first to hit the city, nor was it the biggest. Read on for a brief history of blackouts in New York City.

A 500-block area of Manhattan near Central Park was plunged into darkness on Aug. 3, 1959, when a massive surge in electrical use triggered a power outage, according to a Time magazine report. About 500,000 people were affected by the blackout, which was reported to last about 13 hours.

“When the lights went on, the city congratulated itself that there had been no panic and little misbehavior,” Time wrote in its August 1959 issue. “In an area where crime incidence is fairly high, police reported only a few misdemeanors and a couple of picked pockets.”

Another uptick in electricity usage is believed to have caused a blackout in Manhattan on June 13, 1961, which affected about 500,000 people across 5 square miles of the borough, according to The New York Times. The outage spurred changes to better protect the city’s power grid from future blackouts, according to The Times.

Great Blackout of 1965 affected about 30 million people in several states and two Canadian provinces, yet the outage is remembered for how it brought New Yorkers together in a time of literal darkness. New Yorkers’ reaction to the power outage, which lasted about 10 hours, would later be thrown into stark contrast to the blackout of 1977. The New York Times reported. LaGuardia and Kennedy airports were shuttered and commuter trains lines were halted. About 4,000 people were evacuated from the subway system, per The Times.

The Northeast blackout on Aug. 14, 2003, left Manhattan in the dark for more than 24 hours. Photo Credit: Newsday / Daniel Goodrich

On the afternoon of Aug. 14, 2003, the lights went dark across New York City. But the blackout was actually much larger, affecting about 50 million people and spanning eight states as well as parts of southeastern Canada. The outage, caused by a mix of equipment failures and human error, lasted for 29 hours. But unlike the blackout of 1977, widespread looting and violence did not materialize. Subway riders were evacuated from trains and some commuters walked miles home from work, but most of the injuries reported at city hospitals were heat-related.

A Con Edison employee works on Ditmars Boulevard during the Queens blackout on July 24, 2006. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The blackout of 2006 may not be easily recalled by some, primarily because it took place in Queens. About 175,000 people were affected by the power outage, which began on July 17, 2006, and lasted a whopping eight days, according to NYCData by Baruch College Zicklin School of Business. The Queens blackout, caused by a fire at an Astoria substation, is considered one of the longest in New York City history.

When superstorm Sandy roared onto the shores of New York City on Oct. 29, 2012, the storm surge it produced inundated electrical equipment and knocked out power for about 2 million people, many of whom were left in the dark for days or weeks. Almost one-third of those affected were Manhattan customers, according to a report by the mayor’s office. The storm highlighted a weakness in the Con Edison’s power system that prompted $1 billion in flood protections to be installed over the next four years.

The power outage on Saturday that affected 72,000 customers in midtown and on the Upper West Side was caused by a failure of Con Edison’s relay protection system at its West 65th Street substation, the utility announced Monday.

The blackout, which lasted from 6:47 p.m. to about midnight, stalled trains along six subway lines and forced the evacuation of nearly 3,000 straphangers. People were seen jumping into busy intersections to help direct vehicles after the traffic lights went dark.

There were no reports of injuries or fatalities and no spike in crime related to the blackout, according to city officials.

“This is a nearly comprehensive record that includes every religious house of worship, extant and extinct. The history and names of the people connected to that history is an added bonus.”—Jim Mackin

“A memoir by a writer and editor captures the exhilarating and romantic mood of 1950s New York City. Cantwell recalls her post-college years—employment, romance, residences—with precision and perception.”—Nancy Woloch, research scholar at Barnard College and author of A Class by Herself and Eleanor Roosevelt: In Her Words

The History of New York’s Chinatown

New York City’s Chinatown, the largest Chinatown in the United States—and the site of the largest concentration of Chinese in the western hemisphere—is located on the lower east side of Manhattan. Its two square miles are loosely bounded by Kenmore and Delancey streets on the north, East and Worth streets on the south, Allen street on the east, and Broadway on the west. With a population estimated between 70,000 and 150,000, Chinatown is the favored destination point for Chinese immigrants, though in recent years the neighborhood has also become home to Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Burmese, Vietnamese, and Filipinos among others.

Chinatown is born
Chinese traders and sailors began trickling into the United States in the mid eighteenth century while this population was largely transient, small numbers stayed in New York and married. Beginning in the mid nineteenth century, Chinese arrived in significant numbers, lured to the Pacific coast of the United States by the stories of “Gold Mountain” — California — during the gold rush of the 1840s and 1850s and brought by labor brokers to build the Central Pacific Railroad. Most arrived expecting to spend a few years working, thus earning enough money to return to China, build a house and marry.

As the gold mines began yielding less and the railroad neared completion, the broad availability of cheap and willing Chinese labor in such industries as cigar-rolling and textiles became a source of tension for white laborers, who thought that the Chinese were coming to take their jobs and threaten their livelihoods. Mob violence and rampant discrimination in the west drove the Chinese east into larger cities, where job opportunities were more open and they could more easily blend into the already diverse population. By 1880, the burgeoning enclave in the Five Points slums on the south east side of New York was home to between 200 and 1,100 Chinese. A few members of a group of Chinese illegally smuggled into New Jersey in the late 1870s to work in a hand laundry soon made the move to New York, sparking an explosion of Chinese hand laundries.

Living arrangements
From the start, Chinese immigrants tended to clump together as a result of both racial discrimination, which dictated safety in numbers, and self-segregation. Unlike many ethnic ghettos of immigrants, Chinatown was largely self-supporting, with an internal structure of governing associations and businesses which supplied jobs, economic aid, social service, and protection. Rather than disintegrating as immigrants assimilated and moved out and up, Chinatown continued to grow through the end of the nineteenth century, providing contacts and living arrangements — usually 5-15 people in a two room apartment subdivided into segments — for the recent immigrants who continued to trickle in despite the enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Immigration and Chinatown
The Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943), to date the only non-wartime federal law which excluded a people based on nationality, was a reaction to rising anti-Chinese sentiment. This resentment was largely a result of the willingness of the Chinese to work for far less money under far worse conditions than the white laborers and the unwillingness to “assimilate properly”. The law forbids naturalization by any Chinese already in the United States bars the immigration of any Chinese not given a special work permit deeming him merchant, student, or diplomat and, most horribly, prohibits the immigration of the wives and children of Chinese laborers living in the United States. The Exclusion Act grew more and more restrictive over the following decades, and was finally lifted during World War II, only when such a racist law against a wartime ally became an untenable option.

“The Bachelor’s Society”
The already imbalanced male-female ratio in Chinatown was radically worsened by the Exclusion Act and in 1900 there were only 40-150 women for the upwards of 7,000 Chinese living in Manhattan. This altered and unnatural social landscape in Chinatown led to its role as the “Bachelor’s Society” with rumors of opium dens, prostitution and slave girls deepening the white antagonism toward the Chinese. In keeping with Chinese tradition — and in the face of sanctioned U.S. government and individual hostility — the Chinese of Chinatown formed their own associations and societies to protect their own interests. An underground economy allowed undocumented laborers to work illegally without leaving the few blocks they called home.

An internal political structure comprised of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and various tongs, or fraternal organizations, managed the opening of businesses, made funeral arrangements, and mediated disputes, among other responsibilities. The CCBA, an umbrella organization which drafted its own constitution, imposed taxes on all New York Chinese, and ruled Chinatown throughout the early and mid twentieth century, represented the elite of Chinatown the tongs formed protective and social associations for the less wealthy. The On Leong and Hip Sing tongs warred periodically through the early 1900s, waging bloody battles that left both tourists and residents afraid to walk the streets of Chinatown.

Growth in Chinatown
When the Exclusion Act was finally lifted in 1943, China was given a small immigration quota, and the community continued to grow, expanding slowly throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s. The garment industry, the hand-laundry business, and restaurants continued to employ Chinese internally, paying less than minimum wage under the table to thousands. Despite the view of the Chinese as members of a “model minority,” Chinatown’s Chinese came largely from the mainland, and were viewed as the “downtown Chinese,” as opposed the Taiwan-educated “uptown Chinese,” members of the Chinese elite.

When the quota was raised in 1968, Chinese flooded into the country from the mainland, and Chinatown’s population exploded, expanding into Little Italy, often buying buildings with cash and turning them into garment factories or office buildings. Although many of the buildings in Chinatown are tenements from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the rents in Chinatown are some of the highest in the city, competing with the Upper West Side and midtown. Foreign investment from Hong Kong has poured capital into Chinatown, and the little space there is a precious commodity.

Chinatown Today
Today’s Chinatown is a tightly-packed yet sprawling neighborhood which continues to grow rapidly despite the satellite Chinese communities flourishing in Queens. Both a tourist attraction and the home of the majority of Chinese New Yorkers, Chinatown offers visitor and resident alike hundreds of restaurants, booming fruit and fish markets and shops of knickknacks and sweets on torturously winding and overcrowded streets.


The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of New York City’s greatest traditions. The first parade was on March 17, 1762 — fourteen years before the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence. The first NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade was comprised of a band of homesick, Irish ex-patriots and Irish military members serving with the British Army stationed in the colonies in New York. This was a time when the wearing of green was a sign of Irish pride but was banned in Ireland. In that 1762 parade, participants reveled in the freedom to speak Irish, wear green, sing Irish songs and play the pipes to Irish tunes that were meaningful to the Irish immigrants of that time.

Today, the NYC Parade marches up 5th Avenue and is reviewed from the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral by His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York. Since it began, this tradition of marching past St. Patrick’s Cathedral has remained unchanged with the exception of the address. In the early years, the Parade would march past the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral (now Basilica) located at the corner of Mott and Prince Streets in SoHo.

Today, the Parade starts at 44th Street and 5th Avenue at 11am and proceeds up the avenue to 79th Street. Throughout the day along the Parade route, millions of spectators come to celebrate.

For the first few years, the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade was organized by military units. However, after the War of 1812, Irish fraternal and beneficial societies took over the duties of hosting and sponsoring the event. Around 1851 the “Irish” 69th Regiment began to lead the marchers. Also at that time, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) became the official sponsor of the Parade as the individual societies merged under a single Grand Marshal. Today the 69th Regiment is still the first group to lead the Parade up 5th Avenue. They are followed by various Irish societies of NYC, the 32 Irish county societies, schools, colleges, Emerald societies and Irish language and nationalist societies. In the early 1990’s, the Parade was attacked for its traditional values and, in the resulting law suits, the organizer’s rights were upheld at the US Supreme Court level.

In 1992, the National AOH directed all AOH organizations to form separate corporations to run events such as the Parade. The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade today is run under a separate corporation, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc.

In 2002, NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade was dedicated to the “Heroes of 9/11 honoring the police, fire and other rescue workers. At midday the entire Parade stretching one and half miles paused for two minutes. The marchers turned to face south towards the “Twin Towers” as Edward Cardinal Egan said a prayer for the victims of 9/11. It is said that was the first time in history that one could hear a pin drop on 5th Avenue. That year’s Parade was the largest to date with an estimated 300,000 marchers and three million spectators lining 5th Avenue. It was also the first time in the Parade’s history that the President of Ireland (Mary Mc Aleese) reviewed the Parade.

In 2011, the Parade celebrated its 250th anniversary with the world-renowned author Mary Higgins Clark as its Grand Marshal.

Five years later, the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade has much to celebrate and for which to be thankful. This year is the Ireland 2016 Centenary Year. Senator George Mitchell is the Grand Marshal. And the Parade is scheduled to have about 200,000 people marching up the avenue.

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