New York City has over a hundred monuments honoring specific men who’ve changed the course of history and made significant contributions to our communities. But guess how many women are up on pedestals in this city? Here’s a sad hint: you can count them on your fingers. One hand, even. Performance artist, playwright, and overall activist Lulu Lolo is on a mission to change that. In this Women’s History Month podcast episode, Lulu tells us about her latest venture, “Where are the Women? A Call for Monuments of Women in NYC,” and reminisces about growing up in East Harlem, a neighborhood where strong women (including the city’s first Puerto Rican librarian) graced every block.
“America needs to fall in love with planning again,” says Mitchell Silver, New York City’s Parks Commissioner. Since taking his post in May of 2014, this Brooklyn-born city planner (formerly Chief Planning Officer for Raleigh, NC, and Deputy Planning Director for Washington, D.C.) has worked on efforts to better fund nearly-abandoned neighborhood parks and to revitalize the experience of public space beyond the high-fence-around-a-chunk-of-asphalt gestalt of ‘70s and ‘80s New York. In this episode, Commissioner Silver talks about his new Parks Without Borders project as well as plans to prepare the city’s coastlines for climate change. He also asks New Yorkers for their help in creating the next generation of public spaces throughout all five boroughs. As Silver says, “We need these outdoor spaces for your brain to breathe and relax.”
Who do you call when a coyote wanders into Chelsea or a peregrine falcon drops its kill on Wall Street? Who can explain how baby skunks have turned up in a Bronx subway station, or how to make Manhattan supertalls safer for the thousands of migrating birds careening through the obstacle course of our skyline? Our podcast guest this episode is naturalist Leslie Day, an expert on all the ways that the five, densely-populated boroughs of New York City are still teeming with wildlife. Leslie has written a surprising set of field guides to the natural world of New York (www.leslieday.nyc) and in this episode, she shares with us story after story of the many trees, plants, and creatures—other than humans—who have never given up their claim to city living, even in the dead of winter.
Fossils hidden in plain sight, a surreptitious snuff mill, giant boulders called “glacial erratics” and hideaways in Manhattan that are actually tranquil (and free!). Ready to discover your city all over again? We’ve found just the guide. Urban researcher and author T.M. Rives landed in New York a few years back with a special assignment from a French publisher: explore the five boroughs and write an entirely new breed of travel book, one that would even delight the locals. Rives delivered not one but two: Secret New York, An Unusual Guide and Secret New York, Curious Activities. In this episode, we delve into some of Rives’ favorite city secrets, vicariously exploring with him as he perches himself high above a FiDi heliport and bravely canoes the Gowanus Canal.
Though it’s actually only a 3-block stretch in the East Village, St. Marks Place is one of New York’s most storied streets, with larger-than-life lore that now spans centuries. Journalist Ada Calhoun spent her entire childhood living on St. Marks Place—her parents brought her home from the hospital to their fourth-floor walkup — so her perspective on this constantly-evolving street is unique and deep. Her new book, St. Marks is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street (Norton, 2015), is based not only on her own observations but on interviews with over 200 of the neighborhood’s true-life characters. In this episode, Ada gives us a radical history lesson packed with New York City legends…Stuyvesant, Trotsky, Auden, Hoffman, Holiday, Warhol, the Ramones, Snooky and Tish, the Beastie Boys and many others. Legendary stores and venues get their due too: Gem Spa, the Five Spot, the New St. Marks Baths, Manic Panic, Trash and Vaudeville, and St. Marks Comics. Don’t miss this trip to “the epicenter of American cool.”
Fine art photographers James and Karla Murray have lived in the same East Village apartment for over two decades, but their daily work as radical documentarians takes them deep into each of NYC’s five boroughs. The authors of Broken Windows, Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York, and now Store Front II: A History Preserved (Gingko Press, 2015), have made it their mission to photograph New York’s most unique facades and interview the artists and small business owners who give our city so much character. In this episode, James & Karla talk about the ongoing battle between character and conformity in today’s New York, and tell some never-before-heard stories about their extraordinary effort to document our city’s icons before they disappear forever.