Skip to main content

American Cultural History on Walking Off the Big Apple: A Chronological Guide to a Selection of Posts

Over the course of the last two years writing Walking Off the Big Apple, and it's been two years this week, I realize that many posts situate themselves in a category that would best be described as American cultural history. While I spend most of my time on contemporary issues and urban matters, I often explore topics in the history of visual and performing arts, literary history, and architecture.

When I'm out looking for the past, I often find that historical walks find their way into current preoccupations. For example, last fall when I was trying to recreate the fictional world of Lily Bart and her creator, writer Edith Wharton, the Wall Street collapse drew immediate parallels with the writer's time. Even seeing an art exhibit on Babar drew parallels with the Gilded Age.

To better understand the city involves being able to perceive the layers of its history, so when I'm out walking I often chase the furtive shadows of the past. I've put together a chronological guide to a selection of posts, approximately 42 of the 700 on this site, thinking it would be useful to share with student types and with readers who may see old posts that they haven't yet read.

(Ed. note - This list will be updated, as needed. - Teri)

1600s
The "fresh, green breast of the New World- Mannahatta/Manhattan
Towards a New Amsterdam: Celebrations of Henry Hudson
In New Amsterdam, the Half Moon Drops Anchor at the Battery

1810s
Washington Irving's Solitary Walk through Christmas

1850s
Before the Whale: Ishmael Takes a Walk in Manhattan
Art and Spectacle in Nineteenth-Century New York

1860s
Walking Broadway With Abraham Lincoln: The Visit to New York for the Cooper Union Speech
Living Now in the New York of the Gilded Age: Inheriting the Built Environment of the Nineteenth Century

1890s
Reservoir Dog: New York's Demon-Cur of the Winter of 1893
Charles Hemstreet's Nooks and Corners of Old New York: Lessons in Mortality
Tribeca Living: A Building for Chocolate and One for the Wool Trade
The Making of the Monumental Metropolis: New York and the Ecole des Beaux Arts

1900s
New York 1900: Edith Wharton and The House of Mirth
A Walk for a New York Christmas: O. Henry and "The Gift of the Magi"
Henry James' Uneasy Homecoming to Washington Square
A Visit to Audubon Terrace and Environs

1910s
Fifth Avenue and the High Road to Taos: Mabel Dodge and Flannery O'Connor
Harvey Wiley Corbett and the E. 8th Street Apartments
The Woolworth Building
1917: Trotsky's Flâneur Boy Wanders Downtown
Focus on POTUS: The Two Washingtons of the Washington Square Arch

1920s
A Visit to Astoria, Then & Now: The Marx Brothers at Paramount Pictures and Notes on Contemporary Attractions
Making My Own Manhatta (on Paul Strand)
New York's Theater District: The Legacy of the Golden Age, A Walk and a Map
The Marx Brothers on Broadway, & Notes on New York Theatres in the 1920s
From The Great Gatsby: Nick Carraway's Walk
Walking New York: Theodore Dreiser on St. Luke's Place
James Weldon Johnson's New York and Four Stops in Central Harlem

1930s
Lessons from the Days of the "Empty State Building"
The New York of Raymond Hood, Architect: The Daily News Building
Walker Evans, a Block on E. 61st Street in 1938
The Light in Edward Hopper: The Sunny Side of the Great Depression

1940s
Flannery O'Connor's Six Months in New York City
E.B. White and the New York of Stuart Little

1950s
Mapping Holly Golightly: Walking Off Breakfast at Tiffany's
Places From The Bell Jar: Sylvia Plath's New York
The Classic New York of Mame Dennis
Garbo Walks: Into the Modern

1960s
JFK: The Presidential Candidate From the Bronx
The New York Hotel That Looks Like It's in Miami
Freewheelin' Jones Street
Bye Bye Penn Station: Mad Men Takes on an Epic Battle

1970s
After Walking, A Place to Sit: Greenacre Park, E. 51st

2000s
Walking Off the Wall Street Bears: A Subprimer (November 2007)
After the Closing Bell, A Protest Against the Wall Street Bailout (September 2008)
A Timely Visit to The Museum of American Finance
Follow Your Money: The New York Financial Crisis and Walk
A Stroll Down Pennsylvania Avenue
J.P. Elephant: Drawing Babar at The Morgan

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.

Comments

Bruce Oksol said…
Yours is one of the best blogs I've seen on contemporary New York City. It combines two of my greatest joys: reading and walking.

I just finished The Great Gatsby and was curious if any blogger had talked about this book. What a great surprise to find your blog. Thank you. I have added it to my list of favorite blogs that I follow.
Anonymous said…
Happy WOTBA Birthday from London.
I love your site and I am going to be very busy on my next trip to NY with all the great ideas you have given me for walks and explorations. This chronological guide is great.Do you have any info on the now gone restaurant chain of Schrafts? I had a student job as a waitress in summer 1971 in the branch at Madison and 77th St.The corner premises is an art gallery now. I was a realy bad waitress !!!!
Teri Tynes said…
Thanks, Bruce.
Bruce- Many thanks for appreciating my work here.

And thank you, too Anon, for the WOTBA birthday wishes -
Wow, Schrafts. I found this book online - "When Everybody Ate at Schrafft's: Memories, Pictures, and Recipes from a Very Special Restaurant Empire." In the comment section, one reviewer mentioned she went to your Schrafts after going to the dentist.

Popular posts from this blog

Editorial for Blog Action Day

I was so scared when I saw An Inconvenient Truth that I changed my prodigal ways. Today, Walking Off the Big Apple is participating in Blog Action Day, an event that challenges 15,000 or more people who are in a similar line of work to write posts about the environment. New York City will be in enormous trouble should the prevailing tide of climate change continue. I mean that literally. With the rise in sea levels, a strong storm surge would devastate many of the low-lying residential areas. Lower Manhattan would suffer enormous consequences but also parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island would be affected. The warmer weather we've experienced here over the past few years is also likely to continue. Warm weather leads to more smog, pollution, and the likelihood of disease and asthma. I could get really sick just walking around. The economic impact of climate change would be serious. All the plans for new uses of the waterfront for housing and recreation would be a no-start

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

25 Things to Do Near the American Museum of Natural History

After visiting the American Museum of Natural History, explore attractions on the Upper West Side or in Central Park. Visitors to New York often run around from one major tourist site to the next, sometimes from one side of the city to the other, and in the process, exhaust themselves thoroughly. Ambitious itineraries often include something like coffee in the Village in the morning, lunch near MoMA, a couple of hours in the museum, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry in the afternoon, cocktails at the midtown hotel, a quick dinner, and then a Broadway show. It's a wonder people don't pass out at the theater. While sitting on the steps of the American Museum of History, consider exploring the Upper West Side and nearby sites of interest in Central Park. There's a better way to plan a New York trip. Consider grouping attractions together geographically. Several posts on this site address this recommended approach. The Wild West of the Tecumseh Playground Groupin

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk. One such essay, " Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer , Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

The High Line and Chelsea Market: A Good Pairing for a Walk

(revised 2017) The advent of spring, with its signs of growth and rebirth, is apparent both on the High Line , where volunteers are cutting away the old growth to reveal fresh blooms, and inside the Chelsea Market, where new tenants are revitalizing the space. A walk to take in both can become an exploration of bounty and surprise, a sensual walk of adventure and sustenance. A good pairing for a walk: The High Line and Chelsea Market Walking the High Line for a round trip from Gansevoort to W. 30th and then back again adds up to a healthy 2-mile walk. Regular walkers of the elevated park look for an excuse to go there. Especially delightful is showing off the park, a model of its kind, to visitors from out of town. A stroll through Chelsea Market. Time check. If you haven't stopped into Chelsea Market lately, you may want to take a detour from the High Line at the stairs on W. 16th St. and walk through the market for a quick assessment or a sampling. Among the sampli

From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan

(revised 2017) How long does it take to walk from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden to well-known destinations in Manhattan? What are the best walking routes ? What if I don't want to see anything in particular but just want to walk around? In addition to the thousands of working commuters from the surrounding area, especially from New Jersey and Long Island who arrive at Penn Station via New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Rail Road, many people arrive at the station just to spend time in The City. Some have questions. Furthermore, a sporting event may have brought you to Madison Square Garden (above Penn Station), and you want to check out what the city offers near the event. This post if for you.  The map below should help you measure walking distances and times from the station to well-known destinations in Manhattan - Bryant Park , the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Empire State Building , Times Square , Rockefeller Center , Washington Square Park , the High Line

Museums in New York Open on Tuesdays

American Folk Art Museum , 45 W. 53rd St. Asia Society and Museum , 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street) Guggenheim Museum , 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th St.) Pictured left International Center of Photography , 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street The Metropolitan Museum of Art , 1000 Fifth Avenue NEW: Beginning May 1, 2013 MoMA will be open seven days a week. 11 W. 53rd St. The Morgan Library & Museum , 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street Museum of the City of New York , 1220 Fifth Avenue New York University, Grey Art Gallery , 100 Washington Square East Mondays and Tuesdays are the hardest days to remember which museums are open. See the list for NY museums open on Mondays here .

14 Useful Mobile Apps for Walking New York City

Texting and walking at the same time is wrong. Talking on the phone while strolling down the street is wrong. Leaving the sidewalk to stop and consult the information on a cellphone, preferably while alone, is OK. What's on Walking Off the Big Apple's iPhone: A List Walkmeter GPS Walking Stopwatch for Fitness and Weight Loss . While out walking, Walkmeter tracks routes, time, speed, and elevation. This is an excellent app for recording improvised or impromptu strolls, especially with many unplanned detours. The GPS function maps out the actual route. The app keeps a running tally of calories burned while walking, useful for weight loss goals. Another welcome feature is the ability to switch over to other modes of activity, including cycling. An indispensable app for city walkers. $4.99  New York City Compass , designed by Francesco Bertelli, is an elegant compass calibrated for Manhattan, with indications for Uptown, East Side, Downtown, and West Side. While facing a cert