New York Journals

New York: The History of a City

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An October 2010 trip to New York by aboutthatplace

Statue of Liberty I Photo, New York, New York More Photos
Quote: Seeing New York through its past.

New York: Part I: New Amsterdam

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Statue of Liberty I Photo, New York, New York
Quote:
Standing in Union Square, its hard to imagine the history of this vast city. Dominating the square is Zeckendorf Towers, four towers shooting up into the sky 26-stories, and topped by green glass pyramids which light up at night. To the north is the Flatiron District, boasting trendy Madison Avenue, to the south once-Bohemian Greenwich Village and sprinkled about are dorms for N.Y.U. Within the looming stone, granite and brick structures rests this sanctuary, laid out in 1832, and named "Union" for the intersection of Manhattan’s two main thoroughfares (Broadway and the former Bowery Road, now 4th).Over three hundred years prior to this square’s creation an Italian explorer hired by the...Read More

New York: Part II: The Arts

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Manhattan Skyline II Photo, New York, New York
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The first British governor was appointed by Queen Anne. Her cousin, Lord Cornbury, was (probably) New York city’s first drag queen. That same year (1702) one in nine of the city’s residents perished during an outbreak of yellow fever. Less than 30 years later 600 souls were lost to smallpox. But, by 1733 the city had still swollen to 11,000 residents.Progress was coming rapidly to the city. King’s College (now Columbia) was established in 1754, whale oil lamps illuminated the streets within a decade, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place (1766) and New York hospital opens in 1771. With progress comes change, and some of it is not so smooth.In 1765 the British pas...Read More

New York: Part III: Immigrants & Food

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The Mural at Lombardi's Photo, New York, New York
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An article about New York city would be incomplete without discussing immigration. In New Amsterdam in the 1640s, seventeen languages were spoken. By 1855 New York had become the most Irish city in America. By the late 1800s Italian and Jewish immigrant populations peaked. (Nearly 1/3 of Italians returned to their homeland). By 1970, 18.2% of the city’s population was foreign-born, however, where they were coming from shifted. The countries of origin had been Italy, Poland, Russia, Germany, Ireland, Cuban, the Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, Australia and Jamaica. In 2000 they changed to the Dominican Republic, China, Jamaica, Mexico, Guyana, Ecuador, Haiti, Trinidad, India and Columbia....Read More

New York: Part IV: Transportation

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Empire State Building By Night Photo, New York, New York
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You can only stroll so far in New York before public transportation because necessity. We jumped online to plan our journey on the MTA website, which has a "Journey Planner" on the front page. On the downside, it didn’t work. So we found a subway map on the same website (www.mta.info/nyct/maps/submap.htm). The subway lines were listed in both numeric and alphabetic order, along with being color-coded. It seemed to be in completely random order. There wasn’t an explanation for how to read the maps either. How hard could it possibly be? We had used subways in London, Prague, Chicago and Boston. Once down in the tunnels, these systems all made sense. Three wrong train choices later,...Read More

New York: Part V: A New Era

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Stonewall Inn Photo, New York, New York
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This was all about to change as we head back to Greenwich Village, the birthplace of the Beat Generation. Those who called "the Village" home: William Faulkner, Eugene O’Neill, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Truman Capote and Maya Angelou. It was here that Off-Off-Broadway found ground, Jazz and Folk music combined, and political unrest was not uncommon. Marcel Duchamp set off balloons from atop Washington Square arch, proclaiming the founding of "The Independent Republic of Greenwich Village". And, it was in this neighborhood that the gay community would be welcome.Stonewall Inn53 Christopher Street(in Greenwich Village)As my better half went up to the ba...Read More