P.T. Barnum. He ran a popular museum on the corner of Ann Street and Broadway. Live animals were among its perennial attractions. The whales, brought from Labrador in a refrigerated train car and lived in a huge tank within the large wooden building. When a giant fire broke out in July 1865, the glass tank was broken in an effort to quench the flames and the whales were left to flop on the floor. After the fire, at least one whale carcass was left to rot on Broadway for several days, perfuming the atmosphere and drawing flies.
Who were the Death Avenue Cowboys?
Cowboys did once roam the West Side, but it was not to rustle up cattle. Their job was to clear a path for freight trains traveling along Eleventh Avenue and its southern extension, West Street, which were clogged with wagons, carts, people and eventually cars and trucks. Getting around the area was so dangerous that the street was called Death Avenue, and the rangers who guided the trains were known as the Death Avenue Cowboys. The street-level freight line was replaced by the elevated High Line in 1934.
When did slavery end in New York State?
In 1799, New York passed a Gradual Emancipation act that freed slave children born after July 4th 1799 but indentured them until they were young adults. In 1817 a new law passed that would free slaves born before 1799 but not until 1827. By the 1830 census there were only 75 slaves in New York and the 1840 census listed no slaves in New York City.
Why is Broadway on an angle?
Lower Manhattan and West Village streets reflect the original paths that formed as the early Dutch settlers traveled to the company store. John Randel, Jr.’s grid plan for the rest of the island (1807) reflected the city commissioners’ opinion that straight-sided and right angled houses were inexpensive to build and convenient to live in. Broadway runs on a diagonal because it originally followed the Indian Wickquasgeck Trail.
Who gave new York its famous nickname: The Empire State?
In addition to praising New York’s resilience in the war, George Washington described the State of New York as “the Seat of the Empire.”
How did "Peg-Leg" Peter Stuyvesant lose his right leg?
The last director general of New Netherland lost his right leg before he came to New Amsterdam. Working for the Dutch West India Company in 1644, Stuyvesant was leading an assault on a Spanish fort in the Caribbean when a cannonball hit his lower right leg. After a gruesome amputation, he was given his famous wooden leg.
What is the largest park in New York City?
Not Central Park, comprised of 843 acres. It is tiny compared to Pelham Bay Park’s 2765 acres in the Bronx, the largest park in New York City. Greenbelt (1778 acres) in Staten Island, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (1255 acres) in Queens and Van Cortlandt Park (1146 acres) also beat out Central Park in size.
What was the "pansy craze" of the 1920s?
In the 1890s, establishments for men seeking encounters with other men opened on the Bowery, and by the 1920s spread to Greenwich Village, Times Square and Harlem. A backlash in the 1930s resulted in police crackdowns and harassment that continued into the 1970s.
Where does the name Manhattan come from?
In 1609, Robert Guet called the island “Manna-hata,” after Native American names for the area.
Who founded the oldest New York City Newspaper still in circulation?
Alexander Hamilton. The New York Post, founded in 1801, is the oldest New York City newspaper in continuous publication.
What sparked the Doctors' Riot of 1788?
The Doctors' Riot of 1788 fell on a spring day and was immediately precipitated by the seconds-long interchange between a curious young boy and an impatient surgeon with a less-than-kindly bedside manner. City legend has it that the surgeon, upon detecting the child peering gape-mouthed through the window of his dissecting room at New York Hospital, wielded a severed arm to shoo him away. If that was not enough to do the job, the doctor then shouted, "It's your mother's!" As it happened, the boy's mother had recently died. An angry mob formed and stormed its way towards the woman's grave where they found the coffin freshly disinterred and the cadaver gone. This mob that formed after the unfortunate incident incited a full scale riot. Body snatching, the theft of burried and unburied cadavers to use for medical dissection was an all-too-common occurrence in 18th century New York City.
Why did New York City renters dread May Day?
For 19th-century New Yorkers it was a horror of disorder, price gouging and panic. May 1 was Moving or Rent Day, when leases expired and thousands of tenants simultaneously changed abodes, their belongings jostled in the clogged streets by reckless cart men charging extortionate rates.
What is the highest natural elevation in Manhattan?
Bennet Park contains the highest point of land in Manhattan, 265.05 feet above sea level. During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington had a fort built at this high point. In 1871, James Gordon Bennett, a prominent newspaper publisher purchased the plot of land. In 1982, the City of New York aquired the land and assigned the property to Parks.
How many speakeasies were open in New York City during Prohibition?
The real answer will never be known, for obvious reasons, but "official" estimates ranged from 20,000 to 100,000. Texas Guinan, Manhattan's most famous speakeasy hostess, managed more than half-a-dozen gin joints herself, including the 300 Club, the Texas Guinan Club, the Century Club, Salon Royale, Club Intime, and the Club Argonaut.
Who was the first self-made female millionaire?
Madam C. J. Walker. Born Sarah Breedlove to slaves in Louisiana in 1867, Walker married at 14 but was left a widowed mother at 20. Despite this, she generated her fortune by selling "Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower", her own creation, to African-American women. She settled in Harlem in 1916, and was a philanthropist until her death in 1919.
How many gallons of water flow into New York City every day?
Every day 1.2 billion gallons of water flow through New York City from 19 upstate resevoirs. Ninety percent of the city's water travels through the Hillview resevoir located in upstate New York.
What were the "orphan trains"?
The term “orphan trains” refers to the trains that carried poor urban children to western and midwestern states to be placed with foster parents. The program was started by Charles Loring Brace of the Children’s Aid Society but soon had many imitators. It began around 1850 and ran for nearly eighty years. The number of children “placed out” is estimated to have been over 250,000.
What was the "Rats to Rockefeller" campaign?
In 1963, Harlemites launched a rent strike to protest the abject building conditions. A tenants' rights group, Community Council on Housing, organized a campaign to send toy rats to Governor Rockefeller. Organizer Jesse Gray urged tenants to "bring a rat to court" when charges were filed by landlords. Despite intense security the Housing Court judge was presented with five live rats. He ruled in the tenant’s favor.
What is the oldest cemetery in New York City?
Brooklyn’s Gravesend Cemetery is the city’s oldest surviving burial ground. Established about 1650 in the block bounded by Gravesend Neck Road, McDonald Avenue, Village Road South, and Van Sicklen Street, it functioned for nearly three centuries before being abandoned for more fashionable places like Green-Wood. The WPA restored Gravesend Cemetery in 1935, and the City designated it a landmark in 1976.
What is the oldest continuously operating bar in New York City?
Located in 279 Water Street, in a building dating back to 1794, before the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, the bar now known as Bridge Cafe is the oldest continuously operating bar in New York, serving as a bar since 1847. In the 1860s the building served as a brothel and a pirate hang out. During the prohibition years, the address was still described in city directories as a saloon.
Why were the Collyer brothers famous?
Compulsive hoarders Homer and Langley Collyer accumulated tons of junk in their home at 2078 Fifth Avenue as a bulwark against rapidly changing Harlem of the 1930s and ’40s. Their stash of dressmaking dummies, pianos, a Model T and countless newspapers eventually trapped them, and they died in 1947. The house was demolished that year and replaced by Collyer Brothers Park.
What New York politician was buried in the Blizzard of 1888?
A former senator and one-time Republican presidential hopeful, 59-year old Roscoe Conkling, fell into a snowdrift in Union Square after refusing to pay an exorbitant sum for a cab. Stuck for 20 minutes, Conkling freed himself, but collapsed and died from the effects a month later, one of 400 in the Northeast who died in the most grievous natural disaster to befall New York City.
What were the Flour Riots?
In 1836-37 flour prices escalated from $7 to $12/barrel, creating fear that this necessary commodity would become unaffordable. In February 1837, a mass meeting was called in protest. The mob attacked Hart & Co, an establishment accused of hoarding flour. More than 400 barrels of flour and thousands of sacks of wheat were thrown out the windows. The military was called in to quell the rioting.
Why did 22 people die protesting at an opera house in 1849?
The Astor Place Riot occurred on May 10, 1849 at what was the Astor Opera House. It left 22 people dead and is known as one of the deadliest civic disturbances in New York City. The riot pitted the upper and the lower class against each other and was caused when the partisans of two stage actors, Edwin Forrest and William Charles Macready, clashed. During this time, the theater was the main gathering place in most towns and cities and the actors received a loyal following, just like sports stars today.
What is the "Cathedral of Commerce"?
The Woolworth Building. Credit for the moniker is generally given to Samuel Parkes Cadman, a Brooklyn Congregational minister and the first great "radio pastor" (memorialized in Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza Park). However, Cadman was not the first person to use this phrase. A visiting Londoner named Alan Francis described the Woolworth Building as a "cathedral of commerce" several years before Cadman in a New York Times article.
Why are beavers featured on the city's official seal?
The reason lies in their economic importance to the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam which sought to establish an economical fur trade to supply Holland. Although the skins of several animals were traded, beavers represented the dominant commodity, so much so that beaver skins were used as money in both New Amsterdam and early colonial New York.
How much horse manure was deposited on the streets before the advent of the automobile?
According to the 89th Annual Report of the Board of Health, nearly 500 tons of horse manure were collected from the streets of New York every day, produced by 62,208 horses living in 1,307 stables. The manure, along with human waste, was deposited on Barren Island, where it was converted into fertilizer in a process said to be "not inoffensive" to residents on the Long Island shore.
Is Manhattan sinking?
Manhattan is not sinking, however this rumor has been atributed to a practical joke from the 1820s. According to the rumor, downtown Manhattan was sinking and needed to be cut off, towed out into sea, rotated 180 degrees and placed back onto Manhattan. A retired ship carpenter named Lozier was allegedly able to assemble a large workforce and logistical support only to hide in Brooklyn during a massive groundbreaking ceremony. Because the rumor did not appear in any newspapers and no records can be found on the individuals involved, there is speculation that this actually never happened and is in fact a hoax of a hoax.
When did the Statue of Liberty turn green?
Although the process of weathering that turned the copper covering of the 1886 Statue of Liberty from brown to its current green was gradual, color images indicate that the transformation was complete by 1920. The early hue has lent credence to the belief that the Statue was modeled on an African-American woman, although the sculptor Bartholdi was said to have indicated that it was based on the features of his mother.
What is New York's first museum?
Founded in 1804 as a repoistory for books and documents dealing with American history, the New-York Historical Society was the city's second library and first museum. Designated a "Society" in emulation of the great European scientific bodies of the Enlightenment, the organization used (and has retained) the hypenated version of the city's name that was common at the time.