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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Postcard Thursday: Wall Street

Image result for slave market wall street

For nearly four centuries, the lower tip of Manhattan has been defined by Wall Street, the path of which was originally marked by a nine-foot-high wooden palisade.

James digs deep into the the street's history for Curbed NY in his most recent feature story, which you can read here:

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REMINDER: On Sunday, October 7, at 11:00AM, we will be guiding a tour of Gilded-Age New York. All the details are at There are only a few spots left at just $15 a piece -- book now!

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Want to hear more about NYC history?

Inside the Apple has recently been released for the first time as an audio book!

Visit Amazon or Audible to download today

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Postcard Thursday: Gilded Age Walking Tour -- Oct 7 at 11:00am


Sunday, October 7, at 11:00 a.m.

Come Explore Beaux-Arts Grandeur


Authors James and Michelle Nevius have been exploring New York and writing about the city for many years. This week, James had a story in The New York Post about the rivalry between Chicago and New York brought about by the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, also known as the "White City" World's Fair.

This Columbus Day weekend, celebrate the 125th anniversary of the fair and the architectural movement it helped create, by joining James and Michelle for a guided walk in Midtown Manhattan of some of the iconic landmarks from this Beaux-Arts boom.

New York between 1893 and 1913 remade itself as the "Paris of America" and the true world city. From the Broadway theaters that moved to Times Square at the turn of the 20th century to giant public spaces like Grand Central Terminal and the New York Public Library, this tour will feature some of the best Gilded-Age architecture in the city.
  • $15 per person for blog readers. Please register ASAP as space is limited.


  • Your name
  • The number in your party
  • A cell phone in case we need to reach you the day of the tour
(use the button below or email


F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M
Times Square at the turn of the 20th Century

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Postcard Thursday: The Death of General Wolfe

The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West.

On September 13, 1759, Major-General James Wolfe died during the Siege of Quebec in the French and Indian War (aka the Seven Years War). Wolfe's heroic victory won the war for Britain, allowing it to seize most of Atlantic Canada, and made Wolfe both a martyr to the cause and an instant celebrity.

The most famous commemoration of Wolfe's death on the Plains of Abraham is Benjamin West's painting (above), now in the National Gallery of Canada. But New York had its own memorial to General Wolfe, an obelisk that was erected in Greenwich Village at the end of what came to be known as "Obelisk Lane" or "Monument Lane."

The General Wolfe monument at Stowe.

Very little is known about the memorial. Some think that it was based on a similar obelisk erected in Stowe in Buckinghamshire, England, by Lord Temple, which still stands today. But this is just speculation. Indeed, if it weren't for a few old memoirs and a couple of maps, we wouldn't know that the monument existed at all.

Montressor Map, ca. 1765-1766.

The obelisk was likely erected soon after Wolfe's death, probably in 1762 by Robert Monckton. Monckton was Wolfe's second in command at Quebec and in 1762 he became royal governor of the Province of New York. He lived in Greenwich Village, in a house owned by Admiral Peter Warren, which stood only a few minutes walk from the monument.

The obelisk appears on the Montressor map of 1765-66, where a "Road to the Obelisk" leads to a spot just east of Oliver De Lancey's farm marked "Obelisk Erected to the Memory of General Wolf [sic] and Others."

The Ratzer Plan, ca. 1766-77
The Ratzer Plan of the city -- issued in 1766 or 1777 -- shows a similar road, calling it "The Monument Lane." If you are familiar with this part of Greenwich VIllage, that lane is now Greenwich Avenue, which runs northwest from Sixth Avenue just south of Christopher Street. However, many other small streets in the Village were once considered part of the lane. As the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society wrote in their annual report of 1914:
Monument Lane began at the present Fourth Avenue and Astor Place and ran westward along the present Astor Place; thence to Washington Square North about 100 feet west of Fifth Avenue, where it crossed a brook called at various times Minetta Brook, Bestevaer's Kill, etc.; thence to the present Sixth Avenue and Greenwich Lane; thence along the present Greenwich Lane to Eighth Avenue between Thirteenth and Fourteenth Streets, where it intersected the now obsolete Southampton Road; thence northward about 150 or 200 feet farther, where it terminated at the Monument.
Tracing those roads today, it seems likely that the road probably incorporated what today is Washington Mews and MacDougal Alley, just north of Washington Square, roads that have long been thought to be Native American trails. Indeed, it would not be at all surprising to discover that all of Monument Lane existed long before Europeans settled the area that would come to be known as Greenwich Village.

No one is entirely sure when the monument to General Wolfe was taken down and by whom, but by the time the next map of Manhattan was drawn, ca. 1773, the monument is gone and references to Monument Lane disappear soon thereafter. Some speculate that Oliver De Lancey, a loyalist, destroyed the monument when his lands were confiscated by the Americans after the war, but it seems more likely that the obelisk was already long gone by that time.

(This post was adapted and updated from an earlier blog entry.)

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Want to hear more about NYC history?

Inside the Apple has recently been released for the first time as an audio book!

Visit Amazon or Audible to download today

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Postcard Thursday: Greetings from Saint Augustine!

The oldest Roman Catholic parish in America is the one headquartered at the basilica cathedral in Saint Augustine, Florida. The parish was founded in 1565; its current church dates back to the 1790s, but it has burned many times. After the fire of 1887, the diocese hired James Renwick, Jr. -- of St. Patrick's Cathedral fame -- to oversee the restorations. This bell tower was added following Renwick's designs.

James wrote a story for The New York Post about Renwick's New York domestic work -- you can read it at:

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Want to hear more about NYC history?

Inside the Apple has recently been released for the first time as an audio book!

Visit Amazon or Audible to download today

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