Subterranean Subterfuge


For 58 nights, they secretly dug below Broadway-arguably the most trafficked street in the world in 1869. A good night’s work advanced their tunnel about eight feet. Every few nights, they poked a metal rod up through the street to be certain they weren’t veering off into City Hall Park or undermining building foundations. If […]

Not So Alone in Trinity Churchyard

One of the very few colonial officials to find a place in government after American independence, John Watts became a New York State Assemblyman, a U.S. Congressman, and the first judge of Westchester County. Why isn't he smiling?

He’s cut quite the figure for more than a century, standing alone in Trinity churchyard. Hamilton – just steps away – is who everyone seems to come for, but then are all drawn to the large bronze looming to the left. All lawyer robe and courtroom wig turned away to face Broadway. Not a hint […]

Kicked to the Curb, then Brought Indoors

The American Stock Exchange

You can see the building through Trinity Church cemetery as you walk along Broadway, just north of Wall Street. The large letters on the fourteen-story art deco façade identify it as the American Stock Exchange.      From inside the cemetery yard above Trinity Place, relief sculptures show ships, railroads, factories, and farmland that hint […]

Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper

Cass Gilbert (1859-1934) designed seven New York City landmarks between 1900 and 1934.

Everyone knows Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building. But not everyone knows it’s the last of three Lower Manhattan office buildings he designed between 1900 and 1912. Seen together, they reveal the rapid advance in the structural and architectural development of the New York office building. With Gilbert’s two earlier buildings, we can see him working through […]

Freedom of the Press… Before Freedom of the Press

The public burning of Zenger's Weekly Journal

In 1735, forty-one years before thirteen British colonies stepped onto the world stage in 1776 to declare independence and throw off their royal shackles, twelve common New Yorkers (and one prominent Philadelphian) made a bold statement about the crucial role a free press must play in a truly free society-and it happened right here on […]

The Tale of the Ticker Tape, or How Adversity and Spontaneity Hatched a New York Tradition

By the 1860s, ticker-tape machines had replaced human "runners."

   While the festivities in New York Harbor didn’t go as scripted that afternoon, the spontaneous gesture it generated from the brokerage houses lining Broadway famously lives on more than a century later.        On October 28, 1886, Liberty Enlightening the World was to be unveiled to New York City and the world […]

Evacuation Day

General George Washington and Governor George Clinton (symbols of military and civilian authority) pass St. Paul's chapel, which miraculously survived the fire of 1776 that destroyed Trinity Church and many buildings west of Broadway. The general would return to worship here as president six years later.

Evacuation Day is New York City’s most famous celebration you’ve never heard of. While November 25, 1783, marks a significant moment in American history, Evacuation Day never reached national prominence. And while New York embraced it with great enthusiasm-parades, flotillas, fireworks-for more than seventy years, that’s not surprising since it was New York that was […]

Go West, Horace Greeley, Go West (or The Day Horace Greeley Took His Own Advice)

On June 19, 1916, Horace Greeley finally heeded his own advice and went west. Ousted from his niche in the Tribune Building by a city ordinance, public outcry kept the Tribune's founder from moving to Central Park and appropriately kept him in sight of Printing House Square. In this photo, Greeley appears to be supervising his own move to City Hall Park.

Horace Greeley has greeted hundreds of millions of New Yorkers and out-of-towners alike over the past hundred years with a nod of his head as they scoot past his curious perch in City Hall Park. You can find him along the path between City Hall and the Tweed Courthouse sitting in the grass and taking […]

On This Day, At This Place: September 16, 1920

The Presumed Target: Apparently believing that big things come in small packages, J. P. Morgan & Company settled into its new headquarters at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in 1913. Occupying an unidentified, unadorned four-story stone building in a growing neighborhood of steel-frame corporate skyscrapers, the firm saw no need for extra notoriety or additional rent.

On September 11, thousands gathered at Ground Zero to honor those killed fifteen years earlier when commercial airliners were repurposed into deadly missiles, striking a blow at an iconic symbol of capitalism by targeting prominent buildings in New York’s Financial District. On September 16, tens of thousands walk down Wall Street unaware that nearly a […]