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Archive for 'Place Matters'

These Places Matter

Economy CandyStreit’s Matzos, Economy Candy, The Ear Inn, Chinatown Senior Citizens’ Center, The Bowery Mission and the Tenement at 109 Washington Street—all long-time Lower Manhattan staples and now winners of the 2011 Place Matters Awards. The honors are awarded annually by Place Matters, a joint project of MAS and City Lore, to celebrate the historically and culturally significant places that make New York, New York. Continue Reading>>

Artist Studios at Carnegie Hall, A Place That Matters

artist studio carnegie hallCarnegie Hall was one of the first places ever nominated to our Census of Places that Matter. We feature it today, focusing not on the music hall but on the little known artist studios that for more than 100 years have existed above the hall. Today, these artist spaces are imminently threatened with joining the lengthening list of places lost to creativity all around the city. Andrew Carnegie added the towers and artist studios in 1894 and 1896, shortly after erecting Carnegie Hall in 1890. Over the years, many artists have lived in the studios, like John Barrymore, Charles Dana Gibson, Leonard Bernstein, Martha Graham, and Bobby Short. Others artists “just” did their work there, like Isadora Duncan and George Balanchine. Today, fifty artists remain, but a few weeks ago Carnegie Hall served them eviction papers. Now the tenants of Carnegie Hall Studio Towers are filing suit to prevent the eviction. See Jim Dwyer’s article in the New York Times on August 1, and Laura Collins-Hughes’ in The Sun on August 8. Carnegie Hall says it needs the space for operations. The tenants and their supporters say that destroying the studios destroys a rich, more-than-century-old tradition and an irreplaceable artist’s community. It also does away with yet one more source of affordable living space for the people making the art that sustains places like Carnegie Hall.

Kingsbridge Armory, A Place That Matters

kingbridge-armory-new-york-cityThe northwest Bronx isn’t the first place you’d go looking for an enormous medieval French castle. But that’s where such a castle—or an early 20th c. American version of a 19th c. French version of a 14th c. French castle—was built to house the Eighth Coastal Artillery in 1912. Its massive towers and crenelated parapets (those notched tops that scream “castle”), was designated a New York City landmark in 1974 for its military architecture. Read more about the Kingsbridge Armory in a new profile on the PlaceExplorer. To get there, take the 4 train to the Kingsbridge Road stop. The site is bounded by Jerome Avenue, West 195th Street, Reservoir Avenue, and East Kingsbridge Road. The National Guard used the Armory until 1996, but today, it is closed off by a chain link fence that hides the enormous drill hall—a major feat of engineering in its time—and the bowling alley, rifle range, gymnasium and auditorium that once were tucked underneath it! Continue Reading>>

Convent Avenue, a Place that Matters

convent avenue place mattersTake a stroll down Convent Avenue in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem and you’ll pass the buildings that Duke Ellington, Jimmy Rushing and Cab Calloway once called home. Nominated to the Census of Places that Matter for its many layers of New York City history, this broad residential street has been home to some very notable New Yorkers. Extending from 127th Street, through City College and up to 152nd Street, Convent Avenue is one of the city’s most cherished exclusively-residential streets. Shaded with trees and lined with rows of small-scale residential buildings it remains a kind of time capsule, largely unchanged since the early days of jazz. Once a rural countryside, Alexander Hamilton – the first United States Secretary of the Treasury – acquired a 32-acre tract of land in the summer of 1800 for the site of his country estate, which he named Hamilton Grange. Convent Avenue itself was officially laid down in the mid-19th century after the erection of the Convent of the Sacred Heart, which stood just south of 136th Street. Continue Reading>>

Rand School, A Place That Matters

The former Rand School of Social Science, at 7 E. 15th St., Union Square, Manhattan, nominated by Israel Kugler.One’s choice of politics in NYC hasn’t been limited to Democrats and Republicans. In 1906, the American Socialist Society founded the Rand School to promote the understanding and practice of socialism. The school’s offerings in the social sciences, humanities, and the trades sought to attract working New Yorkers and provide them with a broad education from a Left perspective. Continue Reading>>

The Lenox Lounge, A Place That Matters

The Lenox Lounge at 288 Lenox Ave. in Harlem. Operated continuously since 1941, except for a seven-month interruption for renovation in 1999-2000, the Lenox Lounge is one of New York’s historic jazz clubs. Alvin Reid, Sr. found the club a bit too elegant for his taste when he first encountered it as a youngster in the 1950s. But when he bought it from the Greco family in 1988, he thought a revived Lenox Lounge would be just the thing to revitalize his beloved neighborhood and its signature music at one and the same time. It hasn’t been easy. Locals use the club as a hang-out more than a place to hear live music, and the ratio of tourists to residents in the famous Zebra Room is not what Reid hoped for. But the author of our new profile on the Lenox Lounge, a young jazz vocalist herself, has discovered that the Sunday and Monday night jam sessions — where jazz veterans and up-and-comers meet — are continuing the legacy of jazz as “exciting entertainment, creative art form, and collective learning process.” Find the profile on the PlaceExplorer, and visit the Lenox Lounge for lunch, dinner, and music.

Eileen’s Country Kitchen, A Place That Matters

Eileen’s Country Kitchen, at 964 McLean Ave., The Bronx. To eat Irish food, soak up the country kitchen atmosphere, and gather where Irish New Yorkers gather — 24/7 — it’s Eileen’s restaurant that you want. Eileen Mannion and her husband emigrated here in 1987, when as she says, “things were bad in Ireland and there was no talk of the Celtic Tiger.” They opened Eileen’s in 1998, on the border between the Bronx and Yonkers, in an area where many stores and service organizations already catered to Irish and Irish American locals. All the food is made fresh daily in a fashion that Eileen’s mother would recognize, which by the way, does not include corned beef. That, Eileen says, is an American innovation. The restaurant is especially popular on weekends, and when you visit, also stop by the Mannion’s deli on McLean Ave. It’s called An Siopa Beag — “the small shop.”

The Grand Concourse, the “Champs Elysées” of the Bronx, at Landmarks

On Tuesday, June 22, 2010, MAS will testify before the Landmarks Preservation Commission in support of the designation of a proposed Grand Concourse Historic District in the Bronx. The proposed district is comprised of 73 buildings running roughly along the Concourse between 153rd and 167th Streets. In response to the LPC’s hearing, MAS President Vin Cipolla said: The Grand Concourse is one of the Bronx’s most majestic thoroughfares and one of its great treasures.  The designation of a Grand Concourse Historic District  by the Landmarks Commission is the perfect way to celebrate the 100th year of the boulevard and protect this street and the buildings along it.” Continue Reading>>

Kehila Kedosha Janina, A Place That Matters

Kehila Kedosha Janina, at 280 Broome St. in the Lower East Side. Kehila Kedosha Janina — the Holy Congregation of Janina (Ioannina), Greece — is the only congregation in the western hemisphere to identify itself as Romaniote and to practice this ancient form of Judaism that comes from the Mediterranean. The “Yaniotes” arrived in New York as part of a large emigration of Jews from the Ottoman Empire. They established their congregation here in the early years of the twentieth century. Though now past its heyday, the synagogue has survived, and recently a cultural revival has taken root. You can see the new spirit in the restored and landmarked synagogue, the growing attendance, and the historical exhibits located upstairs, on the women’s floor. For information about Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue & Museum, log onto: Or, read about the synagogue by logging onto the PlaceExplorer and select “Place of the Week”. Sunday, May 20th, 1-3 pm, 280 Broome St. (Allen and Eldridge) — Join the congregation as they celebrate their 80th birthday, rededicate the synagogue, and unveil the landmark plaque. Enjoy traditional Greek-Jewish refreshments and a showing of the documentary, “The Last Greeks on Broome Street,” by Ed Askinazi. (Please RSVP to 516-456-9336.)

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, A Place That Matters

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, at 1380 Fulton St., in Brooklyn. Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration is the nation’s oldest community development corporation. Founded in 1967 and lodged in a former Sheffield Farms milk bottling plant, its two boards of directors — one made up of community leaders, the other of professional and business leaders from throughout the city — aimed to rescue Bedford Stuyvesant from the troubles then besieging it. The origins of Restoration are usually attributed to a famous walk through the neighborhood with Senator Robert Kennedy in 1966, but organizing started with a local coalition called the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council, aided by Pratt Institute. Restoration became a model for hundreds of similar groups that followed around the country, and is part of a long history in NYC of coalition building for community improvement. To learn more, log onto Restoration’s website, or read the Place Matters entry in the PlaceExplorer.
  • Saturday, May 12th, 9:30am-5pm, join the free activities celebrating “Brooklyn Rising: The Roots of Modern Brooklyn” — a Neighborhood Day at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Features several panel discussions with activists, historians, reporters, and writers about the revival of Brooklyn neighborhoods in the 1970s and ’80s; a live TV town hall forum led by author Pete Hamill (with call-ins); and a photo exhibit about the era. Record your own “Brooklyn Neighborhood Story” at a special oral history studio. For more about the full day of events, log onto:

Hudson North American Moving and Storage Company, A Place That Matters

Hudson North American moving and storage company, at 3229 Broadway (near 129th St.) in Manhattanville. You would never guess that Hudson’s was once a stable; housing horses, wagons, and milk delivery paraphernalia for the milk bottler and distributor, Sheffield Farms-Slawson-Decker Company. Its distinguished appearance, with brick and terracotta façade, meant to convey an impression of hygiene and modernity in an era when tainted milk was a key cause of sickness and death for infants and children. Constructed in 1903, the building still retains features from its former life and was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Continue Reading>>

Founding Site of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids, A Place That Matters

The Founding Site of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids, a former Elks Lodge at 160 W. 129th St., between Lenox & 7th Aves., nominated by Bruce Kayton. In celebration of May Day — long associated with labor strikes and shows of worker power — we direct your attention to the place where the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was founded, in an event that the Amsterdam News called “the greatest labor mass meeting ever held of, for and by Negro working men.” On September 25, 1925, A. Philip Randolph called together 500 sleeping car porters in the local Elk’s Lodge of his Harlem neighborhood. On the stage, porters held a huge American flag and a brand new union banner, and on that day, a new union was born. The International Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids was the first African-American union to be chartered by the American Federation of Labor. The union and Randolph also played an important role in the larger civil rights movement.