Month :

Mar ,2015

FlavorPill’s summary of Jazz Age-themed soiree Shanghai Mermaid:

Editor’s Note
A night at Jazz Age soiree Shanghai Mermaid is the closest anyone can get to stepping back in time. The location alone is worth a ticket: built in 1887 and still used as an exclusive private club, the Down Town Association brims with grand styling that instantly transports the evening into the realm of refinement. Then there’s the outfits, ranging from period-perfect vintage elegance to lavish handmade costumes guests create solely for the event. Entertainment includes live bands, burlesque, and dance, always in line with the night’s theme. This edition takes cues from the vibrant Parisian scene of the 1920s and 30s, when literary and artistic luminaries gathered in salons to change the world. Think surrealism and Charleston and you’re on the right track.
Zoë Leverant

Continue reading

I got the idea to write the following petition on after seeing the story about the coming eviction of Adele Sarno, a senior citizen who is a piece of “living history” in Little Italy.  It seems particularly heartless that the Italian American Museum first succeeds in raising her rent to much higher than what a senior citizen in her position can afford, then seeks to evict her.  And it also seems especially ironic that when other cultural institutions give grants, residencies, etc. to up-and-coming artists and writers on much sketchier grounds, that they hadn’t proposed an arrangement of this sort for her.  I think she would add to the museum experience for potential visitors if she were a docent there, and she could definitely help with at least a couple of exhibits if she were an assistant curator. Her past history as a former Queen of the San Gennaro festival is worth at least part of an exhibit!…

Continue reading

From The New York Times:

A mural by Max Spivak at the base of the 5 Bryant Park office tower in Manhattan includes shapes that appear abstract at first, but closer inspection reveals them to be textile makers’ tools, like a T-square, above the entrance. Credit Michael Appleton for The New York Times

The shadows of West 40th Street had suddenly given way to the sunny glow of the 1950s with the uncovering of an exuberant mosaic mural at the base of the 5 Bryant Park office tower.

The colorful 40-by-18 ½-foot mural, by the noted mosaic artist Max Spivak (1906-1981), was hidden by metal panels intended to give the entrance to the 58-year-old Manhattan building a more modern, corporate look. When the panels were recently removed as part of a renovation project, the mural popped back to life.

But within hours of the publication of this column online Wednesday, large barriers of blue plastic sheets were erected in front of the mural, making it impossible for passers-by — who had enjoyed a clear view of the artwork for almost a week — to see it any longer.

Equity Office, which owns and manages the 34-story tower, said through a spokeswoman that the discovery of the work was “unexpected” and that the mural, which is tucked into an entrance vestibule, would be “covered during the renovation in a way that will preserve it for the future.”

Mr. Spivak in front of his mural. His family was heartbroken when the cladding went up more than a decade ago, his daughter said. Credit Alex J. Langley/Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Translation: It will not be damaged or destroyed, but it will be clad again.

Mr. Spivak’s work had very little time to win over any new admirers.

“It’s as if the owners moved ahead at high speed to beat all the positive reaction,” said Phyllis Cohen, the director of Adopt-a-Monument/Adopt-a-Mural at the Municipal Art Society. The group helped restore Mr. Spivak’s painted murals at the Astoria branch of the Queens Library and mosaic murals for a Riker’s cafeteria at Broadway and 104th Street.

“The glass mosaic murals from the late 1940s to 1960s are treasures that need to be preserved,” she said.

Mr. Spivak’s daughter, Nora Marvullo, said the family was distressed to learn of the newest barriers. “We were so happy to hear that it had been uncovered,” she said. “We’re such a throwaway society. They would never do that in Greece.”

In Mr. Spivak’s mural, polymorphous forms seem to float with the joyful abandon one associates with the works of Joan Miró. They are made even more scintillating by the glinting of the mosaic tiles, or tesserae. The tiles seem to have been protected from the elements by the cladding that obscured them.

More than an aesthetic delight, however, the mural is a graphic link to history.

Continue reading

Why don’t they just hire her to tell stories to museum visitors and let her live there rent-free?

from The New York Times:

Adele Sarno, 85, in her Manhattan apartment, where she has lived since the 1960s. Her landlord, the Italian American Museum, wants to evict her. Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Adele Sarno’s father, a longshoreman, emigrated from Naples, and she grew up in Manhattan’s Little Italy. As a child, she served as princess for the annual Feast of San Gennaro, she said, and one year was even crowned the queen.

Ms. Sarno eventually owned a candy shop and, later, an Italian products store below her family’s apartment on Grand Street until Sept. 11, when business dried up.

The number of people of Italian ancestry who live in Little Italy is shrinking by the year, and may soon drop by one more: Ms. Sarno, 85, is being evicted from her apartment after losing a fight to keep her $820-a-month rent from skyrocketing. But what has gotten tenant advocates’ attention is not just her age, but also the identity of the landlord: the Italian American Museum, which is in the building next door.

“You’re fighting a museum that purports to exhibit Italian-American culture and then proceeds to evict a living artifact,” said Victor J. Papa, director of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, an affordable housing group that has helped Ms. Sarno in her effort to stay. “That’s absolute hypocrisy.”

Founded in 2001, the museum bought the tenement at the corner of Grand and Mulberry Streets and the two adjacent properties seven years later. Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times

A spokesman for the museum said ethnicity had nothing to do with it. The museum owns a total of six apartments, including Ms. Sarno’s, in three contiguous tenement buildings at Mulberry and Grand Streets, and relies on the rental income to help pay expenses.

“So the museum should be running a charity or providing residences at discount rates?” Joe Carella, the spokesman, asked. “That doesn’t match the mission.”

Founded in 2001, the Italian American Museum is “dedicated to the struggles of Italian-Americans and their achievements and contributions to American culture and society,” according to the mission statement posted on its website. Ms. Sarno said she was indeed struggling, with a notice from the city marshal giving her only days to leave. She filed a request in housing court this week to halt the eviction.

“How could you throw old people out?” she said on Wednesday, sitting in her apartment, a mini-museum itself furnished with lamps, marble tables and ceramics from the old country. “I’m not going to be here that many more years. Let me die in my home.”

The players in the dispute have added a cultural element to one of the thousands of eviction cases in New York each year.

Continue reading

From Gothamist:

100-Year-Old Greenwich Village Staple Caffe Dante Has Closed


(Joanna Purpich/Gothamist)

Despite assurances to the contrary, MacDougal Street stalwart Caffe Dante has closed. Calls to the restaurant went unanswered this morning and construction workers wearing face masks were seen going in and out of the space today. The sad news was confirmed by a note apparently left by whoever will be taking over the space.

(Joanna Purpich/Gothamist)

A tipster who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity says owner Mario Flotta told him that the initial rumors were true and that the business had been sold to an Australian group, as previously reported. “Supposedly the…

Continue reading

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! Calling all Civil War – WWI reenactors, enthusiasts and collectors for our Annual Neighborhood Remembrance Day Celebration, Lake Cemetery. Sat. May 30th 2-3:30 pm. 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War! If you like to dress in period clothing and/or participate in the event, please contact or call 917-545-3309.

We will have the full Staten Island Civil War Canon Brigade & GAR Post 524 reenactors. Seeking additional participants.

Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries Staten Island (FACSI)

Continue reading

SEEKING PHOTOGRAPHER for the photograph section of our application for Staten Island/Fountain Cemetery’s nomination & consideration to the National Register of Historic Places. PLEASE if you can help, we would be grateful, contact or call 917-545-3309. If interested we can send the requirements for your review. Thank you for your kind consideration. Lynn Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries Staten Island

Continue reading


Staten Island played a large role in women’s suffrage movement

By Cara Dellatte
Special to the Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Having worked in the history archives and library of the Staten Island Museum for a little over nine years now, I’ve spent a great deal of time familiarizing myself with all of the different collections in the museum’s care. Due to my own interest in the Civil War Era of American history, I often find myself researching material that deals with Staten Island during this time period.

Since working with researchers is a significant portion of my job, I am often looking through the collections for the various items that they request. It has been during these times that I’ve found some of the most exciting items in our collection.

One day I came across a collection dedicated to women. This collection consists of various items that were donated to the Staten Island Museum over the years. The largest portion of the collection deals with the Women’s Suffrage Movement on Staten Island as well as nationally.

The major contributor of this collection was Mrs. Arthur Hollick, who was a local leader in the movement. Her husband, Arthur Hollick was the first director of the Staten Island Museum.

One of the most interesting parts of Mrs. Hollick’s donation was a series of suffragist movement newspapers, which includes coverage of the passing of the 19th Amendment. This collection is incredibly significant because it contains material regarding the political and social attitudes of men and women to gain women’s suffrage in the United States. The emphasis, however, is on the women’s suffrage campaign in New York State, particularly on Staten Island.

Upon seeing the depth of this collection, I became very interested in the history of women’s suffrage on Staten Island. My own research had already led me to explore this portion of our borough’s history, but mainly during the time right after the Civil War.

I was already aware of Josephine Curtis, Anna Shaw Curtis and many other abolitionists who were also staunch supporters of women’s rights. As time moved on, however, many of these early suffragists passed away and a new generation of women began to fight for the right to vote in the state of New York as well as in the country. It is this next group of suffragists that would see their goal achieved and I was eager to learn more about them.


A few important events regarding the suffragist movement happened on Staten Island during the early 1900’s that helped push the movement along.

Richmond County FairFor a certain time the Richmond County Fair took place in Dongan Hills on Staten Island. It was here on September 8th, 1910 that one of the largest suffrage events occurred. (Courtesy of Staten Island Museum)

For a certain time the Richmond County Fair took place in Dongan Hills on Staten Island. It was here on Sept. 8, 1910, that one of the largest suffrage events occurred. Several hundred members of various women’s clubs held a meeting in a tent on the grounds of the fair where fair-goers could hear speeches relating to many different topics regarding women’s suffrage.

Continue reading

Our Untapped Cities events series has grown quite a bit, thanks to all of you intrepid explorers. While many of our upcoming events are sold out (or awaiting new dates for the waitlisters), we’ve got some new upcoming tours that still have space. From a tour of an authentic Prohibition era speakeasy, a tour and tasting at Industry City Distillery, to a visit to the off-limits Woolworth Building, these are just a sampling of what we have in store.

Woolworth Building Tour: April 18th & May 16th

Untapped Cities will be offering readers the chance for intimate, hour-long tour of the normally off-limits Woolworth Building lobby led by Lisa Renz, a preservationist working directly with the archives of the Woolworth Building. In addition to a guided visit through the spectacular lobby, we will also visit the basement level where the bank vault is located and where the former entrances to the subway are. Other locations, as seen on previous Untapped Cities tours, will be dependent on building access on the particular day. Untapped Cities works directly with the tour guides to provide additional access not necessarily available on regular tours of the building. Following the tour, we will lead guests to an optional cocktail hour at the historic Tiny’s. Buy Tickets

Tour and Tasting Behind the Scenes at Industry City Distillery: Saturday, April 25th at 2pm

Industry City Distillery-Behind-the-Scenes Tour-Sunset Park-Brooklyn-NYC

Take a behind-the-scenes tour of Industry City Distillery in Brooklyn, New York City’s only vodka distillery and learn how they craft their Industry Standard beet sugar vodka. Get an insider view of their bio-lab, workshop and stills, with a tour led by Industry City Distillery staff. After, get a tasting of the vodka in the Industry City tasting beakers and take in the uninterrupted views of lower Manhattan, Midtown, Governors Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Guests will get to keep the glass beakers from the tour.
Buy Tickets

Tour and Cocktails at Authentic Prohibition-Era Speakeasy: May 9th, 3pm

Join us for our next Untapped Cities event with a tour and cocktail at an authentic Prohibition era speakeasy in the East Village. The speakeasy, still being used as a bar and theater, retains the original wood bar, access to original mafia escape tunnels, and the safes where $2 million dollars were found by Lorcan Otway, the founder of the Museum of the American Gangster, and his father.

The tour guide from the Museum of American Gangster will give us a walkthrough of the museum and speakeasy remnants that will conclude with a vintage cocktail at the bar. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the museum.

Sign up for the waitlist for our tours of Brooklyn Kings Theatre, the Remnants of Penn Station, Exploration of Dead Horse Bay and more here.…

Continue reading

Copyright © 2011-2015 Bygone NYC - All Rights Reserved