Elephants in the (Reading) Room
March 27, 2012

Written by Joseph Ditta, Reference Librarian. Apropos of nothing, here are two elephant “firsts” from the library collections. The Elephant (Newburyport, Mass.: William Barrett, 1797) Broadside SY1797 no. 26. Although most accounts refer to it in the masculine, the first elephant brought to the United States (through New York, of course!), was actually female. Some…

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What really happened to Hog Island?
August 31, 2011

Lore has it that Hog Island – a little spit of land off the coast of Far Rockaway that was said to resemble the back of a hog — was washed away in the hurricane of 1893.  But though this story is trotted out every time New York City is threatened (like now) by another…

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Saving (at least some of) America’s Treasures

When the Hotel Pennsylvania opened in 1916, it was the world’s largest hotel, a stately complement to the grand Pennsylvania Railroad Station across Seventh Avenue. Its guests enjoyed a rooftop restaurant, Turkish baths, and Roman decorative flourishes. Now, close to a century later, it merely lingers while the building’s owners make plans to replace it…

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Taking the Plunge: Pools of New York City

It may come as a surprise that the so-called concrete jungle of New York City has no fewer than 54 outdoor pools maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation. Astoria Park Pool.  Geographic File, PR 020. New Yorkers have been taking the plunge in the Big Apple since the late 1800s, when the state…

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One Temporary Friend, One Permanent Enemy

The U.S. Marshal Service has been providing protection for federal judges since 1789. In 2010, Marshals investigated about 1,400 threats and inappropriate communications to the federal judiciary, and provided protection for more than 2,000 federal judges. Although there has been a noted increase in recent years, threatening federal judges is hardly a new phenomenon. When…

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Historic Photographs of N-YHS Now Online
August 12, 2011

Photographs depicting the history of the New-York Historical Society are now available online. Users can locate the photographs through the collection’s finding aid. Simply click on the thumbnail picture to view all of the photographs in a folder. Or just view the images through our Flickr account here.  It is a simple and fun way…

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"Pitching headlong into misery"

Long before becoming arguably the most celebrated portraitist in American history, even Gilbert Stuart was a starving artist – literally. With a revolution breaking out in his homeland, Stuart had arrived in England in autumn 1775. But little did he know he would later be describing this choice as “pitching headlong into misery” after failing…

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East Hamptons Hooch
July 8, 2011

Belle Livingstone, a former showgirl “with poetic legs”, was one of the best-known speakeasy owners in New York. She ran the Fifty-Eighth Street Country Club, which offered its patrons $40 champagne and a miniature golf course. After it was raided in late 1930, she spent a month in prison. Poster for Hoyt’s A Milk White…

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Of the late, tremendous tornado. Or not.
July 1, 2011

Detail of capsized ships (broadside SY1792 no. 29) This city and vicinity were exceedingly alarmed, last Sabbath, about four o’clock, P.M. by a tremendous westerly tornado, which continued about 20 minutes, twisting off limbs of trees, unroofing houses, and tumbling down chimnies [sic] … Terrible was the havoc on the water…. Sound familiar? Except for…

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