The following notes and essays describe some moments in the city's history that I've found interesting along with some self-directed short tours of and visits to places that I believe worth the journey.
Central Park Tour

Brooklyn Heights Tour

Upper West Side Tour

Ground Zero Tour

Arthur Avenue in the Bronx Tour

Coney Island Mermaid Parade

Staten Island Tours (3)

--Chinese Scholars Garden

--Historic Richmond Town

--Alice Austin House & Garden

New York Art Museum Visits

--The Metropolitan Museum of Art

--The Cloisters

--The Frick Collection

New York and Its Water Supply

East Side, West Side-All Around the Town...

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Dancing the Giglio

Central Park Tour

Central Park is one of the great works of art to come down to us from the 19th century. Described by one writer as "the green heart of the city", it has been admired and cherished by many millions of visitors since the first section opened in the winter of 1858. This 843 acre masterpiece is all the more remarkable because a barren, almost treeless wasteland of swamp, rock and squatters' pigsties was transformed by the hands of men, gangs of mostly Irish and Italian immigrants, under the firm guidance of: Calvert Vaux, architect and landscape designer; Frederick Law Olmsted, tough-minded administrator and Park Superintendent; Ignatz Anton Pilat, horticulturalist and plantsman and Jacob Wrey Mould, Vaux's assistant architect. Olmsted and Vaux's 1857 Greensward Plan ingeniously arranged traffic across, under, around and through the park in a way that, even today, it remains an oasis of tranquillity.
As a New Yorker who cherishes this park, here are some of my favorite parts. Beginning at The Mall that cuts a formal allee through a grove of some of the last surviving American elms, walk north to Bethesda Terrace, down the stairs, past Mould's wonderfully wrought stone carvings, to the Bethesda Fountain, and Emma Stebbin's Angel of the Waters. Behind her is The Lake, again, a completely artificial construction. When the water level was adjusted by turning a few valves, 100,000 skaters glided along the frozen lake on winter days and nights in the 19th century. Beyond The Lake you'll find The Ramble, a natural-looking forested slope, complete with a babbling brook and waterfall-temporary home to many varieties of migrating birds. Above The Ramble, Vista Rock and Belvedere Castle and below the castle, the Delacorte Theater and the Great Lawn. Further north you'll discover the lush flower beds of the Conservatory Garden, the tranquil expanse of the Harlem Meer, an instant trip to an forest-sheltered Adirondack brook in The Ravine, even a meadow filled with wildflowers.
The Zoo (or Central Park Wildlife Center) has polar bears and penguins, monkeys and carpenter ants; the Conservatory Water has model sailboat races; Rumsey Playfield has free concerts in the summer and Wollman Rink has skating in the winter. The Boathouse has elegant dining at the water's edge (often with a great blue heron watching from his perch in The Lake) and at Tavern On the Green, alfresco meals on the terrace are presided over by a topiary King Kong. Its not every great work of art that has something to surprise and delight everyone, but our beloved Central Park comes pretty close

Brooklyn Heights Tour

As New York's archetypal suburb and an urban treasure of 19th century residential and ecclesiastical architecture, Brooklyn Heights is unique. Until about 1810 this area was a typical Long Island farming community, but within the next few years, the arrival of steamboat ferries crossing the East River and the opening of the Erie Canal meant rapid population growth for Brooklyn. Land in the Heights became more valuable for real estate development than for farming. Between 1825 and 1860 blocks of large brownstones houses were built, along with handsome churches and schools-by 1860 Brooklyn Heights was nationally recognized as a center of upper middle class WASP social and intellectual thought. Much remains today and is well worth a visit. Begin at Brooklyn Borough Hall, walk north, through the plaza to J. Q. A. Ward's statue of Henry Ward Beecher, a commanding presence in the political and religious life of 19th Century Brooklyn. Head east, along Pierrepont Street, past the neo-Romanesque Brooklyn Historical Society and Minard Lafever's Gothic Revival Church of the Savior (1844). Continuing along Pierrepont, you'll see Brooklyn architect Frank Freeman's 1890 mansion, built for Herman Behr, a sandpaper magnet. Near the end of Pierrepont, turn left, past Nos. 2 and 3 Pierrepont Place, brownstone palazzi built in 1856 by architect Richard Upjohn. Turn right at No.3 (built for A. A. Low, a tea merchant who could watch his China Clippers at the South Street docks from his veranda), and on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for an unforgettable view of the city and the harbor.

Upper West Side Tour

We meet at the 72nd Street entrance to Central Park, walk through the wisteria arbor, down to the bridal path and under the Riftstone Arch. With great walls of schist bedrock on either side and the unpaved path rambling off under a canopy of trees, we see the Upper West Side as it might have looked until the middle of the 19th century. After stopping briefly to see Strawberry Fields we return to Central Park West, visit the Dakota and Majestic apartments and talk about the unique architecture of the buildings and early real estate development. Continuing along 73rd Street we see a rich variety of row housing from Hardenberg's elegant townhouses to tenements and brownstones (with stops to remember General Sherman and "Daddy" and "Peaches" Browning). At Broadway we visit the Ansonia and York&Sawyer's Central Savings Bank, then talk about the coming of the subway 100 years ago with the old IRT Control House and the new 72nd Street head house as backdrop. On to West End Avenue, with mention of Charles Schwab's vanished Loire Valley chateau, Mae West's Gothic townhouse, the Mayflower Madame's headquarters, the penthouse where the Gershwin brothers lived and the surviving block of splendid townhouses by Lamb&Rich. We turn the corner at 77th to see Collegiate Church and School, Emory Roth's Belleclaire Hotel and up Broadway to the Apthorp Apartments. Now, continuing up Broadway, past Zabar's to sample the street life of the neighborhood's main drag. Left on 84th (Edgar Allan Poe Street), remembering the Brennan cottage where Poe spent the summer of 1844, past Theda Bara's old apartment and another where Babe Ruth spent his last years, to Riverside Drive. Entering Riverside Park, we climb the path to Mt. Tom where Poe spent many afternoons gazing at the Hudson. Back to Riverside Drive to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial and the Rice mansion, then down into the park to see the Garden People's flowers and on to the esplanade along the Hudson. We end up at the 79th Street Boat Basin Café - for those not wishing to stay for lunch we return to 79th and Broadway for subway and bus connections.

Ground Zero Tour 

When the 110-story twin towers of the World Trade Center opened for business in 1973 they were the tallest buildings in the world. Each floor had an acre of rentable space and 50,000 people worked in the two towers and five other Trade Center buildings arranged around a windswept five acre plaza. In 1993 religious fanatics tried (and failed) to destroy the towers with a truck bomb. Eight years later they succeeded with an attack from the air. Now, a year after the September 11 attack, the ruins are cleared and people are interested in seeing the remaining foundation pit called "ground zero".

Beginning at the Winter Garden, newly re-built after serious damage in the September attack, this spectacular interior space is symbolic of the city's renewal, literally rising from the ashes in one year. From the top of the grand staircase there is a clear view of the gaping hole across West Street. After a brief detour to see the new Irish Potato Famine Memorial, over to Greenwich and Park Place, where there is another clear view of the Trade Center site, with severe damage still visible on nearby buildings. Now, up to Broadway and St. Paul's Chapel. For me this church and the ad hoc "people's memorial" along the old wrought iron fence around the churchyard are an eloquent statement about the events of last September, the sense of loss, the grief we felt and the courage, strength and determination of New Yorkers responding to the tragedy. Inside, the chapel is set up with a very moving exhibit of photographs and memorabilia from the day of the attack through the period of rescue and recovery, when St. Paul's served as a place of refuge and relief from the terrible days of digging for bodies in the mountain of rubble less than a block away. On the pews, scuff marks from the boots of weary workers have been purposely left as "sacramental marks of those who came seeking rest", adding to St. Paul's continuing role in American history. September 11, 2001 was the second time in 225 years that this church had miraculously survived complete destruction. In September of 1776 a terrible fire swept from the waterfront, up the west side of Broadway, burning a quarter of all the houses in New York. Men standing on the church roof that night, beating down sparks and firebrands with their water-soaked shirts, saved St. Paul's as the city burned all around it.

Arthur Avenue in the Bronx

In the Belmont section of the Bronx a vibrant community of Italian food shops and restaurants is clustered around a few tree-lined blocks along Arthur Avenue and 187th Street.While Manhattan's Little Italy is being nibbled away by Chinatown from the south and by yuppified NoLIta to the north, this Bronx enclave of mozzarella and minestrone is vital and thriving. To get there take the #4, B or D trains to their respective Fordham Road stations, then the B12 bus east along Fordham Road to Arthur Avenue. Walk about a block south along Arthur and when you smell the salami, there you are. A dearth of architectural and historical interest is more than made up for by a rich abbondanza of fresh pasta, homemade cannoli and sweet sausage sold in shops that have stayed in the same families for three generations. The covered Retail Market (opened in 1940 to get the pushcarts off the street) has stalls with fresh produce as well as pizza and panini and even a cigar maker quietly rolling Churchill-sized stogies. You'll hear lots of Italian spoken along with "Here, taste this!", accompanied by a proffered piece of Parmigiano at Teitel Bros. or a chunk of savory prosciutto bread at Madonia Bakery - very little is packaged and shopping is highly personalized.There are four bakeries, five butchers, multiple cheese shops and fresh pasta emporia and Italian restaurants everywhere. Well worth a journey to the Bronx for the most authentic, freshest and best Italian food in town.

Coney Island Mermaid Parade

This goofy and original New York tribal rite gyrates and staggers along Surf Ave. and the Boardwalk at Coney Island each June on or near the Summer solstice
(this year it's right on the money-June 21). People in some of the most outrageous costumes imaginable, fueled with plenty of beer to ward off the
heat, strut their stuff to the sounds of ad hoc musical ensembles combining, in one instance that I observed, a violin, a saxophone, an accordion and a bass drum. It begins across from the new Coney Island baseball park (easily reached by subway) at 2pm and ends with a King Neptune and his comely mermaid
handmaidens presiding over a ribbon cutting ceremony to "open the ocean" for the season.
In the past two years this usually spontaneous revel has, alas, become more organized and threatens to become (God forbid!) institutionalized. An "only in
New York" kind of event, not to be missed and this year its on Saturday, June 21, starting at 2pm and wear a fish tail, if you dare.

Staten Island Tours (3)
The Chinese Scholar's Garden

Just three years old, the Chinese Scholar's Garden in the Snug Harbor Cultural Center is place of remarkable beauty and tranquility. This walled structure, covering almost an acre, is based on the private scholars' retreats of Ming Dynasty China. Ponds filled with koi fish, viewing pavilions, moon windows, delicate bridges and winding walkways paved with colored pebbles, trees and flowers right out of an old Chinese scroll painting transport the visitor to another time and place. The nearby the Staten Island Botanical Garden and the Greek Revival buildings and galleries of Sailor's Snug Harbor make this an excellent tour destination, easily accessible by public transportation.

Historic Richmond Town

Also accessible by public transportation, Historic Richmond Town is another opportunity for time travel. Incongruously surrounded by 1950's split-level houses near the middle of Staten Island, this little village has 28 restored buildings with exhibits illustrating 350 years of the island's history. In the summer the sawmill, jail, houses, stores and America's oldest school house are staffed by actors in period costume portraying farm wives, craftsmen and servants demonstrating weaving, printing and cooking dinner over an open fire. Sometimes reenacters stage skirmishes from the Civil War or the American Revolution. Nearby is the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, another unexpected delight with an outstanding collection of Tibetan paintings and richly decorated ceremonial objects.

Alice Austin House & Garden

To complete our safari into darkest Staten Island, a journey on the S51 bus from the ferry terminal to Rosebank to pay a call on Miss Alice Austen. The Alice Austen House Museum and Garden was the home of Miss Austen, born in 1866 and a photographer from the age of 10. She lived in this charming yellow and white cottage, originally a 1690 Dutch farmhouse, remodeled in the Gothic revival style, until, at age 70 and broke she was sent to the poor farm. Before her death her pioneering photographic work was recognized and prints from some of her 4000 glass plate negatives are on exhibit here. Miss Austen's garden and lawn, with a splendid view of the Verrazano Bridge, the harbor and the narrows, is an idyllic spot for the picnic that the thoughtful guide has packed for his charges. The odd Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, a small house where exiled Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi lived in the mid-1850's, is nearby.

New York Art Museum Visits
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum holds an encyclopedic collection of world art, from earliest times to the present - it is really a collection of collections and some of its departments would be major museums anywhere else. Singling out one collection is a difficult choice, but the American Wing is a favorite. Its centerpiece is the Garden Court, where a collection of 19th and early 20th century sculpture is flanked on one side by the entire facade of the 1823 US Branch Bank building from Wall Street and on the other by the loggia from Louis Tiffany's country house. Galleries hold major Hudson River School paintings along with the work of Sargent, Eakins, Homer and the Peale family. A definitive collection of furniture and decorative arts complements the 25 period rooms that begin with the colonial era and end with Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Cloisters

A large part of the Metropolitan Museum's medieval collection is housed in this great stone building, romantically sited on the forested crest of Manhattan, overlooking the Hudson Palisades. The structure was designed around parts of medieval buildings recovered from ruined monasteries and other sites around Europe. Among the arcaded cloister gardens, stained glass, polychromed sculpture, silver gilt reliquaries and painted altarpieces, the Hall of the Unicorn Tapestries is my favorite collection in the museum. These large, late-medieval weavings, made by unknown artists and filled with wonderfully rendered animals, plants and courtiers, may have been commissioned to celebrate a wedding. Rich in the symbolism of the age, they depict a hunt for the unicorn. The final panel, The Unicorn in Captivity, is one of the most celebrated and loved works of art from any period.

The Frick Collection

Housed in Henry Clay Frick's grand 1914 Carrère&Hastings palazzo, the museum and garden take up the entire block along Fifth Avenue. The superb collection of old masters such as Titian, Velasquez, Bellini and Vermeer (the Frick has three!) was chosen with the help of Joseph Duveen and the setting of this opulent New York mansion with its priceless furniture and decorative art makes a visit here a unique experience. The Louis XV period was Frick's favorite and the 18th century French rooms are a particular treat. With wall panels by Boucher and Fragonard, furniture by Boulle, Sèvres porcelain and terra cotta busts by Houdon, one would not be surprised to see Madame de Pompadour reclining on one of the chaises longues.

Here are some moments in the city's history and other
observations that I've found of interest-I hope you
will too.
New York and Its Water Supply

It is ironic that New York is a city surrounded by water, yet clean, fresh drinking water was in short supply in the first decades of the 19th Century. Until the 1790's fresh water was drawn from wells, sold on the street, by the bucket, as coming from the "Tea Water Pump"(a spring near the present site of Chinatown) and drawn from the Collect Pond, a natural spring-fed lake just to the north of the city commons, where Foley Square stands today. As New York was revived and rebuilt after the damage of a catastrophic fire and seven years of British occupation during the Revolution, the population increased rapidly along with demand for water. But by then the wells were contaminated by seepage from nearby cesspools and the Collect Pond, now the site of tanneries, often had dead animals and garbage floating in it. Epidemics increased ,both in frequency and ferocity. Water-related diseases such as typhoid fever, yellow fever and, worst of all, cholera abounded. The terrible cholera epidemic of 1832 killed 4000. For the city's economy worse was to come. In the winter of 1835 fire destroyed the business district, burning 700 buildings as water pumped from the harbor froze in the hoses. The city fathers got the message and proposed damming the Croton River, 40 miles to the north, and piping fresh water to the city over a gravity-fed aqueduct. By 1842 water from the Croton Aqueduct was shooting in a plume fifty feet high from a fountain in City Hall Park. Within thirty years the advent of bathtubs and flush toilets and a great leap in population taxed the system. Through the last quarter of the 19th Century a dozen new reservoirs were built and in 1890 a new and much larger Croton Aqueduct. The 1898 consolidation of the five boroughs instantly doubled the city's population as immigration added even more. In response the Catskill system was begun, bringing water from 100 miles to the north.
Today the system draws additional water from enormous reservoirs in Delaware County but struggles with issues of pollution runoff and sewage discharge into streams feeding the reservoirs in other areas with burgeoning real estate development . Expensive filtration plants have been proposed but water conservation and watershed protection appear to be the future strategies to insure our continuing supply of clean, fresh water.

East Side, West Side: All Around the Town...

The restless natives of both sides of the island of Manhattan have firm opinions of those people on the other side of Central Park. I suspect twas ever thus. In the broadest and most general terms Upper Westsiders are thought to tend toward a more creative bent, intellectual and less formal, bordering on the slightly louche. They are presumed to vote for any Democrat. To the east of The Park the Republicans are said to flourish and among Upper Eastsiders one often finds the men in proper neckties and jackets and the ladies always smartly turned out. Even the dogs are better groomed. Nothing louche on this side of town. But then, on weekends, both sides mingle freely in Central Park and are hard to tell apart. This is a social anthropologist's nightmare. Cultural institutions seem balanced, with Lincoln Center, the Natural History Museum and Columbia University on the west and the Metropolitan, Museum Mile and Bloomingdale's on the east, but shopping is another story. Madison Avenue, on the east, is lined with pricey boutiques where, as one noted historian observed, " cards can melt by spontaneous combustion". To the west (where kitchens are bigger), food shopping is the ticket, with gefilte fish and scungilli locked in mortal combat in the windows of crowded food specialty emporia along Broadway. On the East Side they eat out, patronizing their many chichi restaurants. Although habits may differ, there seems little rivalry - but inhabitants of one side of town seldom, if ever, move to the other side. However, there is an undercurrent of insularity: a slight edge might be detected in the comment of one Eastsider, dismissing those people across The Park as, "..dressed in sweatsuits covered with cat hair."

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Still the worst factory fire in the city's history, the terrible Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in 1911 shocked New York. Fire broke out in a pile of scraps on the eighth floor of the "fireproof" Asch Building on Greene Street, near Washington Square, just after 4:30 on an early spring afternoon. Over 500 workers, mostly recent Jewish immigrants- girls between the ages of 13 and 20, labored in poor conditions on the eighth, ninth and tenth floors. Fire spread quickly upward and panicked workers fled for the exits, but on the ninth floor supervisors had locked the doors and the only escape from the flames was to jump from the windows. A block away helpless spectators watched from the park as dozens of girls leaped to their deaths, some holding hands, their clothes and hair aflame. In less than fifteen minutes 146 died horribly, their bodies heaped on the sidewalk like "bundles of laundry", one eyewitness remarked. Public grief and outrage over the working conditions in the garment factories resulted in new labor laws to protect workers along with improved fire safety regulations. The company's owners were charged with manslaughter, but were acquitted and back in business shortly afterward, further fueling public revulsion. The International Ladies Garment Workers Union, organized in 1900, gained support from many quarters and after the disaster became a powerful voice for thousands and thousands of immigrants toiling in New York's sweatshops. Almost 100 years after the fact the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire remains a powerful symbol for the need to insure a safe workplace.
Dancing the Giglio
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the giglio festival in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The official name of the festival is The Feast of Our Lady
of Mount Carmel and Saint Paulinius and it continues over twelve days with tons of Italian food, rides and games in this neighborhood that was once home to
immigrants from Naples and Nola in Southern Italy. In AD410 St. Paulinius returned to Nola from captivity and the people of Nola welcomed the bishop and poet
home with lillies-in Italian, giglio. The festival commemorates the event, but this time not with flowers but with a procession featuring the centerpiece of the
festival, the giglio tower, an eighty-foot structure carrying a twelve-piece brassband and topped with an effigy of St Paulinius. The whole thing, including the
musicians and the capo weighs in at about 4 1/2 tons and each year its carried along Havemeyer Street by 120 sweating men on a hot and humid Sunday in the
middle of July.this impressive ceremony is called "Dancing the Giglio".
Additonal self-guided walking tours and essays about
New York will be added to this page in coming months,
so check back again soon.

A New York Address Book
The city has layer after layer of the past in evidence
in almost every neighboorhood. Here are some Manhattan
addresses and some of the people and events associated
with them.

New York City has many layers of history. Buildings rise and a few years later they are torn down, replaced by another building. This has happened often in a city that is seldom sentimental about the past. Almost any address below 42nd Street will have an interesting, often forgotten past. Here are some examples.

Howard's Hotel stood on this site in June of 1844 when US President John Tyler ("Tipacanoe and Tyler Too") arrived secretly for his clandestine wedding to Julia Gardiner, "The Rose of Long Island" (and thirty years younger than the President). After their marriage at the Church of the Ascension on Fifth Avenue Julia insisted on being referred to in the press as "The Lovely Lady Presidentress" and "Her Serene Loveliness".

Here Charles Tiffany opened a stationery and "fancy goods" shop in September of 1837. Sales on the first day totaled $4.98. The store moved in 1841 and began selling jewelry under the name Tiffany & Co. In 1870 the basement of a later building on this site became the entrance to a secretly built tunnel, dug twelve feet beneath Broadway, for newspaper publisher and inventor Alfred Ely Beach's Pneumatic Subway, the city's first. Beach was also owner and editor of Scientific American magazine.

This is the site of the first home of New York Hospital where the celebrated "Doctors' Riot" occurred in April of 1788. A mob of 5000 rioters attacked and ransacked the hospital and medical school, believing that students dissecting cadavers in an anatomy class had stolen the bodies from graves in a nearby cemetery. The militia fired into the rioting crowd, killing three.

In the 1850's Temperance Hall was at this address, and surely a necessary institution when this part of Broadway was lined with porterhouses, liquor groceries and the city's largest saloons.
Burns' Bowling Pavilion and the J.C. Ham Livery Stable shared the building with the intrepid teetotalers.

In 1840 this address was the second home of the New York Society Library (still existing today on East 79th Street). In 1847 it was also the site of the National Academy of Design where, in September of that year, the first public display of a nude statue in America - Hiram Powers' The Greek Slave -caused a sensation. Powers became the most popular sculptor in the country and reproductions of this sculpture were found in many a New York parlor. Today the original is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Across Broadway was Allen Dodworth's Dancing Academy, opened in 1842 and catering to the sons and daughters of the upper crust. Letters of introduction were required to attend. Dodworth was a violinist with the fledgling New York Philharmonic Orchestra and an influential arbiter of ante-bellum New York society.

Near the theater ( at 472 Broadway ) where, in the 1850's, Christy's Minstrels introduced the songs of Stephen Foster, although E. P. Christy took credit for writing them, made a fortune from Foster's music and neglected to pay the poor composer royalties.

Next door to this building stood the enormous white cast iron and glass Lord & Taylor department store. The New York Times said the new building was," more like an Italian palace than a place for the sale of broadcloth." During the terrible Draft Riots in July of 1863 management armed the clerks with rifles and shotguns to fend off the mob that had looted and burned Brooks Bros., across Broadway. Two years later Lord & Taylor's facade was draped in black and purple as Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession passed.

A saloon, presided over by William Hepburn, was here in the mid-nineteenth century, serving thirsty clerks from Brooks Bros., next door. The store had made a fortune supplying uniforms for the Union Army during the Civil War.

Across the street from this building was James Wallack's Lyceum Theater. Here, in the 1850's, Uncle Tom's Cabin was first presented on the stage and ran for over 300 performances. In 1859 Bryant's Minstrels introduced the song Dixie here, just in time for it to become the Confederate anthem during the Civil War.

Among the oldest surviving buildings on Broadway, it was designed by John B. Snook in 1855. This building was across the street from the second incarnation of P. T. Barnum's American Museum, the premier tourist attraction on Broadway. Over one of the doors leading to the street Barnum had a gaudy sign installed that read, "THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS!!!". The museum burned in a spectacular fire in the winter of 1868.

Tiffany & Co.was the occupant of the entire building from 1854 until 1870. In 1901 a sixth story was added and Tiffany's elaborate Victorian white marble facade was replaced with the last cast iron front built in SoHo. Atlas stood over the original entrance, holding an elegant clock, moving in 1870, along with Tiffany, to a new cast iron building at 15th Street on Union Square. That same clock now graces the Fifth Avenue entrance of the present Tiffany store in mid-town.

Originally five stories, this marble-fronted Palladian palazzo was built in 1860 for Ball Black & Co., New York's leading jeweler, across the street from its arch rival, Tiffany & Co. In 1876, renamed Black, Starr & Frost, they moved up to Fifth Avenue and 28th St. Wrapping around two sides of this building is one of jewels of American architecture, Ernest Flagg's 1904 "Little Singer Building". Singer Sewing Machines were manufactured in this wrought iron and terra cotta masterpiece.

The notorious Stanwix Hall saloon occupied the ground floor in February of 1855 when gangster boss Bill "The Butcher" Poole was shot to death standing at the bar. His funeral procession down Broadway to the Battery was the largest in New Yorkers' memories until Lincoln's cortege followed the same route in 1865.

In the 1850's Mr. J. L. Weston manufactured and sold looking glasses here. Across the street was Niblo's Garden Theater, seating 2000 people, where The Black Crook, arguably the first American musical, played in 1866 to scandalized crowds that included a bemused Charles Dickens. Over 100 scantily-clad young women performed in the show that went on for five-and-a-half hours, ran for a record 474 performances and earned $1.1 million on an investment of $4500.

Just across 11th Street from this building is the old St. Denis Hotel, a favorite of 19th Century New Yorkers. The second floor Gentlemen's Parlor, in May of 1877, was the scene of the first public demonstration of the telephone. Two hundred invited guests watched as Alexander Graham Bell called an assistant in Brooklyn.

Theodore Roosevelt's grandfather, Cornelius van Schaank Roosevelt, lived a few doors down from this address at 851, in a grand house facing Union Square where he played host to James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving and Louis Napoleon. From a second-story window of this house six-year-old Theodore and his brother Elliot watched Lincoln's funeral procession pass by in April of 1865. A contemporary photo clearly shows the boys in the window.