Marble Palace—the First Department Store in the Nation

A.T. Stewart, an Irish immigrant with a genius for commerce, is credited with the invention of modern day shopping. He came up with such groundbreaking concepts as ready-to-wear clothes, garment displays in store windows, and clearly marked price-tags. He was the first to offer his customers fixed prices, eliminating the undignified process of bargaining. He…

Grace Church—Marble, Talent, and Nepotism

The earliest example of Gothic Revival architecture in New York City, it was the very first commission of James Renwick Jr., who went on to design St. Patrick’s Cathedral and earn his place as one of America’s most prominent architects.

Airship Docking Station on Top of the Empire State

If you’ve ever arrived in NYC via one of the major airports, you must have fantasized about landing miraculously in the middle of Manhattan instead. Turns out that such a seemingly ridiculous idea was once actually considered. In the late 20s it was believed that cross-Atlantic travel would soon be executed using zeppelins or dirigibles….

The Longest Survived Elevator Fall in History

The Empire State Building has more than a fair share of earth-shattering records: it was the tallest in the world for astounding 41 years and was built with the lightening speed of 410 days. Yet it has another lesser known but no less astonishing record:  it was the location of the longest survived elevator fall…

Integrity Presiding over the New York Stock Exchange

The group within the pediment over the New York Stock Exchange is entitled “Integrity Protecting the Works of Man,” which makes it fair to assume that the central female figure in the sculpture is Integrity herself. She is tasked with “Protecting the Works of Man”—with Industry on one side and Agriculture on the other. The…

Rocking Chair Riots of 1901 in Madison Square Park

New York City has seen its fair share of civil unrest. One of them, however unlikely, was caused by rocking chairs and took place in Madison Square Park. The upscale Madison Square Park neighborhood, located in front of the posh Fifth Avenue Hotel, teamed with elegantly dressed and well heeled elites. One day in 1901,…

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…

Saks Fifth Avenue: “a Guarantee of High Style”

The original Saks Fifth Avenue was not located on Fifth Avenue—and for that reason was not called “Saks Fifth Avenue.” Saks & Company opened its first department store in New York in 1902 at Sixth Avenue and 34th Street, calling it Saks & Co. Another retail giant, Gimbel’s, was located in the same area across…

Saks Fifth Avenue: the Story of Yeti and Snowflakes

The story of Yeti, the abominable snowman, gripped the world when the creature was reportedly spotted by various Himalayan expeditions in the 1920s. The seemingly indisputable evidence of its existence was produced on an expedition to Mount Everest in the 1950s in the form of a photograph of a giant footprint. But the elusive creature was…

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…

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The Rockefeller Christmas tree is indisputably one of the world’s most recognizable sites. Its lighting ceremony in early December marks the beginning of New York’s holiday season and its sparkling presence throughout the holidays makes the city magical. In 1931, construction workers building the Rockefeller Center pooled together some money for a Christmas tree. It…