Once again, the New York Times eats my dust.
Unsurprisingly, they have prettier pictures:
Note the stoop in the foreground right. Fifth Avenue in midtown was still residential when this was taken in 1894.
The 42nd Street reservoir wasn’t the only Croton water system structure in Manhattan. There’s High Bridge,
and the gatehouses on Convent Avenue,
on Amsterdam Avenue,
and in Central Park.
The Idiotarod. If only it had existed when I was the right age to perform that particular type of idiocy.
We may have a new record for anal behavior: a map of every tree, every rock, and possibly every used condom in Central Park. Buy it here, if you dare.
Some of you may remember the moment you first realized that your father was an idiot. Some lucky kids have that moment memorialized:
Also, Brooklyn in the snow:
For no particular reason, I want to discuss the martyr whose death triggered the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Shortly after the new Pennsylvania Station fully opened, roughly four years the old was demolished, the architectural critic Vincent Scully said, “One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat.” Maybe there’s nothing more to discuss.
The W Hotel on Union Square in New York is still thought of by most New Yorkers as the Guardian Life Building. It’s a decent 1911 skyscraper with a damned big mansard roof. One of its more visually distinctive features is the big sign on the roof, something that is rare in New York outside of Times Square.
From 1918 until 2000, the sign at the top advertised the then-owner, the Guardian Life Insurance Company:
The insurance company, which had constructed the building as its headquarters in 1911, was originally named the Germania Life Insurance Company, after the nationality of its immigrant founders. Anti-German sentiment during World War I led to the name change; the urban myth is that the name was changed to Guardian to allow reuse of as many of the letter from the old sign as was possible.
When the building was designated as a landmark in 1988, the sign was included as a distinctive feature of the building. The exact words are considered less important than the font style and size, so the change to the W sign was approved by the Landmarks Commission.
Hat-tip to the zombie for reminding me of the topic.
This past Sunday, the Times had, in a Q&A section, a nice list of the post-revolution removal of royalty-related names from streets in Manhattan.
Crown Street is now Liberty Street, and Maiden Lane between Liberty and Pearl Streets.
Duke Street is now Stone Street between Broad Street and Hanover Square.
George Street: A number of streets were once named George, but the main one is now Spruce Street.
King George Street is now part of William Street between Frankfort and Pearl Streets.
King Street, the pre-Revolutionary one, is now Pine Street. The present King Street in the West Village was named after Rufus King, New York’s first United States senator, according to “The Street Book” by Henry Moscow.
Little Queen Street is now Cedar Street.
Princess Street is now Beaver Street between Broad and William Streets.
Queen Street is now the south side of Hanover Square, from Old Slip to Wall Street, and Pearl Street from Wall Street to Park Row.
Putting aside the questionable propriety of changing Princess Street to Beaver Street, the list has one glaring flaw: the major physical act of deroyalization that took place at Bowling Green. This little oval is New York’s first park and the iron fence that surrounds it predates the revolution by several years. During the festivities (and before the years of occupation by the British army after Washington blew, successively, the battles of Brooklyn and New York), some patriots carefully sawed the little crowns off of the fence post tops.