Neue Gallery—Grace Vanderbilt’s “Gardener’s Cottage”

The beautiful mansion that houses Neue Gallery was modeled on the 17th-century Place des Vosges in Paris. It was designed in 1914 by the architectural firm of Carrère and Hastings, well-known for their Beaux-Arts masterpieces such as the New York Public Library. While most of the grand, single-family mansions of Fifth Avenue were destroyed in…

A.T. Stewart’s Valuable Bones

It can certainly be considered a sign of success when even your bones have monetary value. Not too many people in history have had their bones stolen and held for ransom, but Alexander Turney Stewart was one such person. A.T. Stewart, an Irish immigrant, pioneered the concept of modern shopping. The idea that seemingly existed…

Anna Held—the First Star of Ziegfeld Follies

Whatever she lacked in talent, she more than made up for with her spectacular looks and playful flamboyancy. With her hourglass figure, flirty personality, and love of show business, Anna Held completely captivated America’s collective imagination as one of the turn-of-the-century’s most glamorous stars. The original leading lady of the Ziegfeld Follies and the first…

Texas Guinan: New York’s most famous hostess and her Club Intime

“Hello, Suckers!” – this is the way you would have been greeted if you entered the club in its heyday in the 1920s. The greeting would have been delivered by the infamous Texas Guinan. Texas Guinan came from Texas (thus, the nickname) to take New York by storm. Starting as a simple showgirl she worked…

Frank Lloyd Wright at The Plaza

While working on his last major project—the Guggenheim—Frank Lloyd Wright stayed at the Plaza. His impressive 4,000-square-foot corner suite there was his home from 1954 to 1959, the last six years of his life. The architect had been traveling to New York for business and pleasure for decades but was not shy in expressing his…

Books About New York

Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (The History of NYC Series), Edwin G. Burrows, Mike Wallace The Island at the Center of the World, Russell Shorto Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City, Michelle Nevius, James Nevius Footprints in New York: Tracing the Lives of Four Centuries of New…

Black and White Ball – a Work of Art by Truman Capote

On November 28, 1966, Truman Capote hosted “a little masked ball” for 540 of his closest friends. The event, held at the venerable Plaza Hotel ballroom, went down in history as the Party of the Century. Though hailed as the greatest party ever thrown, it was also shamed for its over-the-top exuberance in the context…

Frank Sinatra: from Hoboken to Eternity

1915 Francis Albert Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915, at 415 Monroe Street in Hoboken, NJ. He was the only child of Italian immigrants Natalina “Dolly” Garaventa and Antonino Martino “Marty” Sinatra. Sinatra weighed 13.5 pounds at the time of his birth and had to be delivered with the aid of forceps, which severely scarred his left cheek, neck, and ear…

A Family Quarrel, Steamboats, and US Patent Law

If all family disagreements resulted in innovation and progress, then, well… the world would be a far better place! A particular quarrel between Colonel John Stevens and Robert Livingston led directly to the establishment of steamboat operations on the Hudson River as well as the creation of US patent law. Colonel Stevens, the founder of…

Snapping Turtles and Founding Fathers

It’s nearly impossible to imagine Aaron Burr peacefully sharing a meal with Alexander Hamilton. But as it turns out, both of them used to belong to a gourmet organization called the “Hoboken Turtle Club.” They were joined by other Founding Fathers – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, to name a few – who…

Colonel John Stevens, Founder of Hoboken

The city of Hoboken was founded by Colonel John Stevens – patriot, attorney, civic-minded inventor, city planner, engineer, and patriarch of America’s first family of engineers. John Stevens was born in 1749 in New York City. Raised in the city, he went on to get a law degree from King’s College, now called Columbia University….

Sybil’s Cave and the Unsolved Murder of the Beautiful Cigar Girl

A recreational destination for 19th-century leisure seekers, Sybil’s Cave, achieved fame, or infamy rather, as the site of an unsolved murder. Sybil’s Cave was created in 1832 by the Stevens family as a folly. The man-made cave, adorned with an elaborate Gothic-style entrance, was built around a natural spring and served as a cafe where…