Know

NYC FACTS & CURIOUSITIES

In 1864, a two-room stone cottage was built inside Central Park, just south of the Inventor’s Gate entrance at Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street. The quaint building was used as the Ladies’ Refreshment Saloon, where unaccompanied women could rest and grab a bite to eat. 

Public life in the 19th century was segregated by sex and restaurants were deemed masculine haunts. “Respectable” women did not dine alone in public and those that...

Here are ten of my favorite obscure facts about the New York City subway system. Enjoy!

1. There were once cars reserved only for women

In March 1909, women-only subway cars, known as “suffragette cars” were introduced on trains running from Manhattan to Hoboken (today’s PATH train). During rush hour, the last car in each train was reserved exclusively for women and children. Unsurprisingly, the proposal prompted a passionate pu...

During prohibition, speakeasies used a variety of methods to identify genuine customers from undercover agents. Initially, bouncers relied only on personal recognition, but as the industry grew, this individualized approach became unsustainable. Some bars used secret passwords or special knocks, but the majority printed membership cards, which customers had to present in order to gain entry. A surprising number of these cards...

In the mid-1800s, New York City's most depraved dives were clustered along the East River waterfront. Though difficult to imagine today, the quaint, cobblestone streets surrounding the South Street Seaport were once overrun with bars and brothels that catered to sailors, sporting men, and even river pirates. 

In 1850, the Chief of Police, George W. Matsell, estimated that there were between four and five hundred river pira...

The cross-streets off lower Fifth Avenue are some of Manhattan’s most historic and picturesque. Despite being bound by Washington and Union Square, the area feels decidedly residential, with tree-lined sidewalks and ivy-covered brownstones reminiscent of an earlier time. This peaceful atmosphere, however, belies the neighborhood’s storied past, which has been the home of the city’s richest and oldest families as well as its no...

New Yorkers are often criticized for being cold or aloof, but this behavior is as much of a survival mechanism as it is a city-wide character flaw. Every day, we are bombarded by a constant stream of stimuli. In response, we tend to retreat into ourselves, preserving our limited attentional resources for the things that matter most. In exchange for our sanity, however, we often overlook many of the quieter details that give th...

While walking my dog yesterday, I noticed a giant, limestone head sitting outside a brownstone on East 80th Street. I was struck by just how out of place it looked. With the Metropolitan Museum of Art only a few blocks away, it seemed particularly odd that such a beautiful statue was sitting outside in the slush of day-old snow.  The jagged bottom also gave me pause. It looked like it may have once been a part of a larger stat...

Please reload