Monthly Archives: October 2014

  • HOW’S YOUR PAGODA?

    September 30, 2011
    pagoda

    The 10-columned (5 on one side, 5 on the other) Music Pagoda in Prospect Park was, once upon a time, the park’s chief concert venue. It can be found on the east end of the lengthy central meadow called the Nethermead, set back in the woods, and a bit north along park paths from the [...]

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  • ST. CORNY

    September 30, 2011

    Regretfully another season on Governors Island is coming to an end. The island became a public park in 2005 after the last vestiges of its role as a military defender of NY Harbor were shedded, and most of it has been opened to the public as a park. It is open throughout the spring and [...]

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  • MAKE UP YOUR MIND

    September 29, 2011

    Exit, or is is it entrance, at 7th Avenue and 86th Street, Nathan’s, 2005. The sign has since been replaced with something with a little more sense.

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  • OLDER THAN THE REST

    September 29, 2011

    Though Green-Wood Cemetery was opened for business in 1838, there are occasional stones and memorials scattered around from earlier times. Sometimes, a family will disinter from one cemetery and relocate in another. The most famed example of this is DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828) who was originally buried in Little Britain, NY but was reinterred in Green-Wood [...]

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  • At Green-Wood: THE PRENTISS BROTHERS

    September 29, 2011

    Baltimore natives Clifton and William Prentiss each died for their country. In 1862, with the USA and Confederate States at war, Clifton joined the Union army and later rose to the rank of brevet (or temporary) colonel. His younger brother, William, however, sympathized with the South and joined the army of the Stars and Bars. [...]

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  • THE CANDY MEN

    September 28, 2011

    A very large painted ad on a corner factory at Henry and Middagh Streets proclaims Peaks Mason Mints, and is the former home of the Mason, Au and Magenheimer Candy Company. According to advertisement researcher Walter Grutchfield, the company was in business here between 1892 and 1949 and was founded by confectioners Joseph Mason and [...]

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  • SERVAL ZIPPER FACTORY

    September 28, 2011

    Throughout most of Shea Stadium’s existence in Flushing Meadows, Queens (except for the last couple of years, when Citifield was being constructed) a large, four-sided clock tower was visible beyond the left-field fence. This was the Serval Zipper Factory, latterly a U-Haul distributorship. The clocks, of course, stopped long ago. In their early days at Shea, [...]

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  • WILLETS POINT

    September 27, 2011

    Willets Point Boulevard between Roosevelt Avenue and Northern Boulevard is the heart of the “iron triangle” consisting of metal works, scrap metal dealers, car repair shops, and wholesalers. The city has been trying to get the businesses evicted for years, but the owners have fought back with lawsuits. Powerful interests have wished to build housing [...]

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  • MAX. HEADROOM

    September 27, 2011

    Wood sign announcing total height from road to elevated trestle on Roosevelt Avenue at the Mets-Willlets Point station. It’s a very old design and could have been here since the 1920s, when the el was extended out to main Street.

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  • CURB

    September 27, 2011

    Before the “pooper scooper” regulation was passed in the 1980s, cleaning up after your dog was merely voluntary, and the Department of Sanitation could merely encourage people to do so. The DSNY went through several sign designs in that effort. This one from the 1960s is still in place.

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  • MANNING MEANS BEST BOWMAN

    September 26, 2011

    One of a pair of surviving painted ad signs on East 32nd near Lexington advertises the old Manning-Bowman Company, founded in 1832 and purchased in 1872 by Connecticutters Edward Manning and Robert Bowman. The company was famed for its metalware, and Manning-Bowman pieces are still prized by collectors. Of course, the sign should be read: [...]

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  • GLASER

    September 26, 2011

    I was aimlessly and unsteadily scarpering east on East 32nd Street a couple of years ago, looking for something interesting to photograph, when I happened on an isolated turn of the (20th) Century townhouse bearing a bright red and white sign by the door. Approaching it further, I discovered that it hosed the studio of [...]

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  • FINN SQUARE, Tribeca subsection

    September 25, 2011

    If you have never heard of Finn Square, that’s perfectly understandable. In NYC parlance, a “square” can be any shape, and Finn Square is a triangle in Tribeca formed by the intersection of West Broadway and Varick and Franklin Streets. Officially, there’s no actual neighborhood called Finn Square, but in my opinion there’s enough distinctive [...]

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  • LIMELIGHT: sublime to not as sublime

    September 23, 2011

    Most younger New Yorkers know the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion on the NW corner of 6th Avenue and West 20th Street as the Limelight Disco, one of a flock of Limelights run by impresario Peter Gatien in the 1980s and 1990s; other Limelights had been opened in Hollywood, FL; Atlanta, Chicago; and London. [...]

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  • ENCLOSED PHONE BOOTH

    September 23, 2011

    One of the last enclosed public phone booths in New York City can be found, or could (this photo was taken 3 years ago) at West End Avenue and West 66th. There are other booths like this, old fashioned ones made of wood and with doors that close, in restaurants, bars, libraries around town. Formerly, [...]

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  • ForgottenTour 48: The TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE

    September 22, 2011

    On September 17, 2011, over 40 ForgottenFans met at 2nd Avenue and East 125th Street to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Robert F. Kennedy Triborough Bridge (which opened to traffic on  July 11, 2011) by walking nearly all of its pedestrian span, from Harlem to Wards and Randalls Islands and thence to Astoria, Queens. [...]

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  • GHOST OF 8TH AVENUE

    September 21, 2011

    I had only seen the right part of his painted ad on 8th Avenue near West 47th Street, advertising rooms with steam heat, hot and cold water, and housekeeping. The rest of the wall has become recently visible, and there is what seems to be an ad for “Society Smokes” and one for shoes at [...]

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  • TREADWELL FARM

    September 21, 2011

    Forgotten NY has always been a bit sparse on Forgotten aspects of the Upper East Side. There has always been apractical side to this, as the Long Island RR brings me into Penn Station, whose various subway lines serve the west side of Manhattan, Upper and Lower. To get to the East Side I have [...]

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  • MEET THE BARON

    September 20, 2011

    Baron Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben (1730-1794) was a Prussian Revolutionary War-era military leader. He is considered one of the fathers of the Continetal army in teaching the fire points of warcraft, miliitary drills, tactics, and principles. He served as George Washington’s chief of staff in the last years of the war. In the Park [...]

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  • MIND THE LIGHT, KATE

    September 20, 2011

    The Robbins Reef Lighthouse, familiar to Staten Island Ferry riders as it sits at the confluence of Upper New York Bay and the Kill Van Kull, was originally built in 1839, with the present tower built in 1883. Though it looks small from the ferry, it is 46 feet high. The Robbins Reef is a [...]

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  • TOMMIE’S LOST LEGACY

    September 19, 2011

    On April 10th, 1969, the second game of the 1969 World Series victory season, Mets center fielder Tommie Agee hit a HR into the upper left field deck at Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadows. No batter, before or since, reached the upper deck there. Tommie Agee passed away in 2001, The Expos played their last [...]

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  • HELLO, BLUE SKY

    September 19, 2011

    The old Blue Sky Diner, a 1954 Mountainview at 21st Street and 49th Avenue in Hunters Point, took a star turn in 2010-2011 as the upscale M. Wells Restaurant, featuring haute cuisine and snobby service. In the summer of 2011, M. Wells’ owners announced they were moving out (seeking another space in Hunters Point) and [...]

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  • Lower SIXTH AVENUE

    September 18, 2011

    There was a time in this fair city when Sixth Avenue did not run all the way south to Tribeca. In fact, for about the first century of its existence, until about 1928, Sixth Avenue ran north from the obscure intersection of Carmine Street and Minetta Lane in Greenwich Village. The coming of subway lines [...]

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  • LAST OF THE CHEYENNE

    September 16, 2011

    The Cheyenne Diner began as the Market Diner at 9th Avenue and 33rd Street sometime in the early 1940s. The diner manufacturer was Paramount Modular Concepts of Oakland, NJ, in business since 1932 and one of only a handful of diner manufacturers (Diner-Mite of Atlanta, GA, De Raffele of New Rochelle, NY, and Kullman of Lebanon, NJ are among [...]

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  • THE HOUSE OF HORRORS

    September 16, 2011

    Famed horror fiction writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft, usually associated with Providence, Rhode Island, lived in two residences in Brooklyn from 1924-1926. His first was in an apartment (I don’t know which) with wife Sonia Greene  at 259 Parkside Avenue, shown here, just east of Flatbush Avenue. Lovecraft was unable to amass much income other than what [...]

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  • MOBIL

    September 15, 2011

    Mobil ad, Flatbush Avenue near 8th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The word “mobile” comes from the Latin mobilis, movable and movere, to move. Mobil Oil is a descendant of the John D. Rockefeller-founded Standard Oil, which became Standard Oil of New York, or Socony, in 1911 after the trust was broken up. IN 1963 [...]

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  • BOND made good buildings

    September 15, 2011

    The broad building with the defunct clock tower on the east side of Flatbush Avenue just south of the Prospect Park entrance at Ocean Avenue is the former Bond Bread factory (slogan: Bond Makes Good Bread) whose baking aromas used to suffuse the neighborhood, greeting Brooklyn Dodgers fans en route to Ebbets Field. It was [...]

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  • BILL THE BUTCHER’S GRAVE

    September 14, 2011

    William Poole, street fighter, political kingmaker, meat cutter and pugilist (1821-1855). More than six feet tall and weighing 200 pounds, William Poole stood out in an age of small men. He began his career in the Bowery Boys, New York’s most important street gang. Unlike today’s gangsters, the Boys were working men–whether laborers or self-employed [...]

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  • OUT IN THE STICKS

    September 14, 2011

    It appears as if the discount furniture stores that mostly  line the north side of Surf Avenue from Stillwell Avenue to West 8th Street will be moving out soon. At least I heard that rumor. In the Coney Island classic era, the early to mid-20th Century, amusements and amusement parks like Dreamland were here, as [...]

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  • ONE ARCH, PLEASE

    September 14, 2011

    With one fast food joint or franchise every other block, it’s hard to remember a time when there weren’t a lot of them in New York. I had a meal at McDonalds as a kid in upstate New York in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 1975 or so that I actually ate at a [...]

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  • SAIL ON SAILOR

    September 13, 2011

    Terra cotta frieze from the original South Ferry station, in use for over 90 years until it was closed in 2009. All service now runs to the modern yet bland South Ferry station, where there is a new connection from the IRT to the BMT, as well as the ferry.

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  • THE LAST REDOUBT

    September 13, 2011

    Though the official name of the station is Willets Point Boulevard (for the LIRR, it’s Mets-Willets Point) Shea Stadium lives on in leftover 1964-era signage. Shea Stadium, of course, was torn down after the 2008 season. The stadium was originally named for attorney William Shea, who championed a new New York City NL team after [...]

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  • COLUMBUS SQUARE, Astoria

    September 13, 2011

    Above: Triborough Bridge at dusk, seen from the platform of the Astoria Blvd. station on the N/Q elevated Astoria Line. The  station, since the mid-1930s, has been positioned over the Grand Central Parkway, which connects the Triborough to eastern Long Island. At its northern end, the station affords a view of the massive concrete viaduct [...]

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  • CHANGING CODES

    September 12, 2011

    Between about 1964 and 1985 all street signs in Queens looked like this, with an off-white background and blue lettering. In 1964 the city installed large vinyl and metal street signs around town, replacing smaller enamel and metal signs that preceded them. The city had started color coding signs in a haphazard fashion before 1964, [...]

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  • RUBY M.

    September 12, 2011

    The Ruby M. tugboat accompanies a barge in Upper New York Bay, September 10, 2011. Built in 1967, by Jakobson Shipyard of Oyster Bay, New York (hull #433) as the Texaco Fire Chief for Texaco Marine.  The tug was later acquired by Dann Ocean Towing of Miami, Florida where she was renamed as the Ruby M.  She is [...]

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  • CHECK MATE

    September 12, 2011

    Checker cab, Forest Ave and Manor Road, Westerleigh, Staten Island. At the height of the vehicle’s popularity in the roaring 20’s, there were as many as 8,000 Checker cabs plying the roads of New York City. The Checker cab virtually ruled the roads from 1921 to the late 1970s, outlasting many other popular taxi types that included cabs made by [...]

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  • ROSEBANK — back to a Staten Island small town

    September 11, 2011

    I have done two previous surveys of Rosebank, a small town on the southeast edge of Staten Island bordered by the SIRT cut, the Verrazano Bridge approach, and the Staten Island Expressway. I have always enjoyed its collection of tiny streets that go nowhere, punctuated by lengthier roads like Hylan Boulevard and Bay Street that [...]

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  • MANOR ROAD ARMORY

    September 11, 2011

    [Located at Manor road and Martling Avenue in Castleton Corners], the Manor Road Armory and its signature three-story towers and corner turrets was noted as “a unique contributor to the city’s rich military history.” It was one of only three armories built statewide in the 1920s and one of the last completed. Constructed for the [...]

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  • TEN YEARS AFTER

    September 11, 2011

    Victory Boulevard and Jewett Avenue, Staten Island. 10 years after terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, attacked the Pentagon and attempted to level the Capitol or White House, painted murals of flags are still prominent in NYC and countrywide.

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  • USS NEW YORK

    September 11, 2011

    I saw the USS New York from the ferry on Saturday. Though it could be mistaken by the layman for an aircraft carrier, the vessel is actually classified as an amphibious transport dock. Shortly after 11 September 2001, Governor of New York George E. Pataki wrote a letter to Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. Englandrequesting that the Navy bestow [...]

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  • TUNNEL SURVIVORS

    September 10, 2011

    1936-vintage lamppost at Tunnel Entrance Street at the Queens Midtown Tunnel in Murray Hill.  Somehow, the original fixtures, futuristic-looking in the 1930s, have survived. They seem to be precursors of the cobra neck lamps that appeared in the early 1960s.

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  • MULRY SQUARE

    September 10, 2011

    Since shortly after the 9/11/01 terrorist attack a lot at Mulry Square, the Greenwich Village intersection of 7th Avenue South, West 11th and Greenwich Avenue, had had its chain link fence festoned with brightly painted ceramic squares promoting the concept of healing

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  • RED TIDE

    September 10, 2011

    9/10/11: Silt running from overflowed upstate streams, courtesy Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, has left the Hudson River with an unusual reddish color.

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  • PROSPECT VIEW

    September 9, 2011

    Flatbush Avenue near 7th, Park Slope. A look at some interlocking brickwork, elaborate molding, and lettering at the peak of an apartment building. From 1880-1915 or so, architects helpfully showed dates of construction, as well as the original name of the building, sometimes the first owner, and occasionally even the architect himself. Details like this [...]

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  • THROUGH A GLASS YELLOWY

    September 9, 2011

    Not a Photoshop filter — the intersection of Broadway and 73rd Street in Jackson Heights, through a colored window panel at the Bway-74th Street el station.

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  • BROOKLYN TROLLEY

    September 9, 2011

    Bob Diamond, who explored and later instituted tours in the long-defunct Atlantic Avenue Tunnel, attempted to reinstitute a trolley line from Red Hook to downtown Brooklyn along Columbia Street in the late 1990s. He acquired several trolley cars from around the country and laid a square block of track along Conover and Reed Streets, long [...]

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  • GRIFFON SHEARS

    September 9, 2011

    Griffon Cutlery Works was located at 151 West 19th Street from 1920 to about 1965, and its large painted sign can still be made out from 7th Avenue between West 19th and 20th Streets, even though it has faded considerably in recent years. Pinking shears are scissors, the blades of which are sawtoothed instead of straight. They [...]

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  • MARETZEK COURT, Staten Island

    September 8, 2011

    I had always thought Maretzek Court, off Bloomingdale Road north of Amboy Road in Pleasant Plains, Staten Island, honored a developer or builder but actually the court honors a long-ago musician. The handy-dandy Morris’s Memorial History of Staten Island has a listing for Max Maretzek Senior (1821-1898) born in Brno in what is now the [...]

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  • Newtown Historical Society tours MASPETH

    September 4, 2011

    The Newtown Historical Society toured Maspeth, Queens on July 31, 2011, a day featuring uncommonly good weather for any tour led by Your Webmaster. The Newtown Historical Society was founded to educate the public about the history of the villages that comprised Newtown Township in Queens County, NY.  Newtown Township stretched from the East River to the [...]

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  • WILD CHILD’S. The magnificent terra cotta ruin in Coney Island

    September 4, 2011

    9/4/11. I do eat seafood. Thing is, though, I anti-seafood-ize it as much as possible. The more it’s sheathed in bread crumbs, butter, lemon, tartar sauce the better, to remove as much as the fish-iness as possible. I’m a big fish and chips guy. Needless to say, I’ve never quite grasped the appeal of sushi. [...]

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  • HIGH LINE 2011: Rail to trail opens from 20th to 30th Streets

    September 2, 2011

    New York City opened up a second section of  its only major rail to trails project, the former West Side Freight Railroad (popularly called the High Line) in June 2011 from West 20th to West 30th Street, leaving only a short section from West 30th to West 34th undeveloped. The city does hope to open that remaining section [...]