The Commons - The Heart of New York City
New York City, NYSelf Guided Tour
The Commons has effectively been America’s town square since the Dutch landed. Virtually every major event of local, national and global significance has played out in some way on this stage. This tour captures the multiple and overlapping stories that are woven throughout our city’s life. It takes a look at the issues that New Yorkers were preoccupied with and how they solved them: their politics, religion, social protest, health and safety, commerce, disasters and defense, scandals and crime, education, publications, art and culture, parades and celebrations, architecture and engineering. The tour starts and ends at City Hall in front of the footprint of the notorious Brideswell Prison which had neither heat nor windows. The Lenape Wickquasgeck trail became Brede weg to the Dutch and was rechristened Broadway by the British. By 1870 the area was so congested that Alfred Beach was able to sell 500,000 10cent fares on his short-lived 312 foot long underground train. We’ll look at the Liberty Pole where George Washington had the Declaration of Independence read to the troops on July 9th 1976 before they marched down Broadway to Bowling Green to topple the statue of King George. Behind City Hall is Tweed Courthouse, costing twice as much as Alaska. We’ll meet Audrey Munson the first supermodel who posed for Civic Fame which sits atop the Municipal Building and journalist Nellie Bly who went round the world in less than 80 days and imagine what the former Post Office and Courthouse, the architectural eyesore known Mullets Monstrosity looked like before it was demolished in 1939.
3.1New York City Hall
8.1History of Foley Square
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On November 23, 1878 former politician and convicted murderer William Sharkey escaped from the Tombs dressed as a woman probably hidden in a laundry basket never to be seen again, a case which achieved national notoriety.
To thank the Department of Sanitation workers for cleaning the city streets in 16 months, George Waring organized the 1896 Sanitation Worker Parade
FDR allocates $1.5 billion for municipal welfare and public works construction programs including the West Side Highway, East River Drive, Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Triborough Bridge, LaGuardia Airport, and Floyd Bennett Field, approx 20% of the US infrastructure budget setting
Open House New York Weekend - October 17th-18th, 2020
Archtober - October, 2020
The Art & Architecture of Park Avenue from Lever to Grand Central
Great Crashes of Wall Street
Broadway at Fulton St, New York City, NY 10007
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The tour begins at the corner of Fulton Street and Broadway which has really served as the Citys primary transportation artery for the past 500 years leading from the harbor North into the government center. This is where the citizens marched when they protested and when they celebrated. It is fitting that we start the tour in front of the showpiece of the reimagined MTA post 9/11, the Fulton St Transit Center as it is the node for the lines connecting all the boroughs. It is also where the celebration of the Consolidation of the five boroughs into New York City took place on January 1, 1989 instantly transforming it into the second largest city in the world.
Here we come to the seat of the citys government. In front of the fence are two remnants from the American Revolution: the Liberty Pole the backdrop for the Stamp Act Riots in 1765 and where George Washington had the Declaration of Independence read to the troops on July 9, 1776. You can see the stone outline of the notorious Brideswell Prison in the ground. Across Broadway are buildings attesting to the leading role the city has played in Commerce - the first location of Tiffanys and AT Stewarts famous emporium which was the first department store.
City Hall itself has the distinction of being the countrys longest continuously occupied City Hall in America. Behind it sits Tweed Courthouse, a building synomous with graft as it has the dubious distinction of being the most expensive public building ever constructed when it was completed.
In the days before telephones and telegraphs, it was natural for all the citys publications to be located across the street from City Hall which is why Park Row houses so many different publications. In fact there were 60 Newspapers published during the Civil War here. Many of the buildings even housed penthouse apartments used by the publishers.
The Brooklyn Bridge is a true engineering marvel as it was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened in 1883. The other engineering marvel is below grade where the Citys first subway station opened in 1905. As the city moved North and communications became better, the newspapers and publications too began to move away. Now the neighborhood is changing again. The 2011 completion of 8 Spruce Street set off a transformation of all the former printing houses into housing, mostly high end.
Completed in 1914, the Municipal Building towers over this corner. It is crowned by Civic Fame, Adolph Weinmans sculpture of a gilded woman. Audrey Munson who was the first supermodel posed for this statue as she did for many of the other public sculptures at this period. Across the street is Surrogate Court noted for the beauty of the many sculptures that grace its facade.
When excavation started at 290 Broadway in the late 90s, it didnt take very long until the African cemetery was uncovered. New Yorkers and the country had to confront their uncomfortable history about slavery in New York; the slave trade, the underground railroad, emancipation. The Burial Ground has become a national monument. Artwork was commissioned to tell the stories about.
Foley Square has been the seat of New Yorks justice system. All the courts and jails are here. This is also where the saga of Richard Serras ill fated sculpture Tilted Arc played out. Probably the most concise description of the colorful history of this area can be seen in the medallions Gregg LeFevre and Rebecca Darr created which are embedded in the ground.
Tweed Courthouse - by Gail Cornell
Collect Pond was the Citys first Water Source. Polluted as early as 1800, it was filled in. This swampy area became noted for its crime. It was called Five Points and was notorius for its seediness long before Martin Scorcese immortalized it in a movie. Foley is home toThomas Paine Park named in honor of the author of Common Sense which played such a large role in fomenting public opinion to support the Revolutionary War. The park is also the current resting place for the peripatatic sculpture of Abraham De Peyster, an early Dutch mayor.