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Van Cortlandt Park

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There are 1165 acres of hills, ridges, valleys, verdant forest, wide- open fields, and other assorted gorgeousness waiting for you up in the Bronx!  Van Cortlandt Park has a hiking trail that is a National Historic Landmark, world- class running paths and trails, two public golf courses, boccie courts, cricket pitches, and a Gaelic football field.  And that's in addition to everything ELSE you can expect at one of the biggest city parks: basketball courts, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, handball courts, pools, and playgrounds.  What are you waiting for?   Your hosts Kathleen and Kate will see you there-- once the weather warms up a bit!

Links to check out after you listen to the podcast:

Hey You Know It is a fantastic podcast by our excellent friends Jacquetta Szathmari and Katie Kazimir. Soon- to- be- released episode HYKI92 features Kathleen and Kate discussing ABC Gotham! We tried to keep the topic for episode V a secret, but Katie and Jacquetta managed to weasel it out of us, those tricky dames.

We're not the only people doing the history of Van Cortlandt Park!  Friends Of Van Cortlandt Park have an oral history project to record everyone's VCP memories.  Want to hear 92-year old Walter Perron's stories of the park in the 1920s and 1930s? Click here and scroll to the bottom.

In 1895 it cost $624.80 to construct the golf course. Thanks to MeasuringWorth.com we know that golf course would have cost $78,800.00 if built today.

See more pictures on our Facebook page!

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The Underground Railroad was an organization of safe houses, churches, schools, and brave people willing to break the law to help slaves escape to safety.  New York City was the site of several important locations, including Plymouth Church, "the Grand Central Station" of the Underground Railroad.  Kate and Kathleen discuss the political mood in NYC at the time and the major "stations" and "conductors" along the dangerous trek to freedom.

Two different groups lead walking tours of major Underground Railroad sites: Inside Out Tours leads The Underground Railroad Tour and Viator leads The New York City Slavery and Underground Railroad Tour.

John Strasbourg's 2007 New York Times article On the Trail of Brooklyn’s Underground Railroad was extremely helpful with research for this episode.

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Today it is merely a symbol of corruption in city government,  but Tammany Hall was once the political machine to end all political machines.  New York City politics were controlled thanks to those ubiquitous tools of leadership: graft, corruption, patronage, cronyism, and exploitation.  From its beginning in 1786 until 1936, when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia dealt Tammany Hall's death blow, their influence could be felt far and wide.  Kate and Kathleen describe the leaders, their methods, and all their dirty tricks in this episode.  And let's all be thankful that we now live in city that is completely, absolutely, 100% free from corruption.

Check out our Facebook page for more Tammany Hall images!

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Secret subway stations are the lonely places where trains and riders no longer go.  Many of the “ghost stations” were abandoned when the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) unified the Interboro Rapid Transit (IRT) and Brooklyn- Manhattan Transit (BMT) lines, which resulted in redundant stations all over the city.  Some stations couldn’t be renovated to accommodate increased ridership (like lengthened platforms and 10-car trains).  One of these stations, City Hall, is stunning, while another, Myrtle Ave, is a showplace for a clever art installation.  However, most are grimy and deserted, still covered with the graffiti from the 1970’s and 1980’s.

What the heck is a zoetrope?

The Myrtle Ave subway station experience video

The Bowery Boys graffiti podcast

NYC Transit Museum

WNYC Ghost Subway blog

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What happens when a group's simmering rage boils over?  Kate and Kathleen describe 3 of the many riots that New York City has seen: the Draft Riots, the Stonewall riot, and the Crown Heights riot. Hear about the complex social problems that led up to them, the days of violence, and what changed (if anything) as a result.

MeasuringWorth.com is the site to check when you want to compute the relative value of a U.S. dollar amount over time.  For example, I learned that the $3 admission to Stonewall in 1969 would be $14.70 today!

Check out the July 14, 1863, issue of the New York Herald which first reported the draft riots.

The photograph above appeared on the front page of The New York Daily News on Sunday, June 29, 1969, showing the "street kids" who were the first to fight with the police at the Stonewall riots. There's a great "All Things Considered" about the Ali Forney Center, which currently provides housing for homeless gay youth.

And of course, check out our Facebook page for 25 great bonus images!

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The Queens Museum of Art, in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, has the coolest thing you've never seen: The Panorama of the City of New York. It's a model of the whole damn city-- all 5 boroughs.  It contains every building in the city built before 1992 (the year it was last updated).  It was built by (who else?) Robert Moses for the 1964-1965 World's Fair.  It took 3 years to create, has over 895,000 structures, and had a margin of error less than 1%.  Kate and Kathleen tell you all about it in this special micro-episode. It is definitely worth the long subway ride to see it.

See more pics on our Facebook page!

Jeremiah Moss's excellent blog post about "New York Paleotectonic", which he describes as "the final resting place where removed Panorama pieces are interred". It's the first of three great posts that were very helpful in researching this episode.

Wonderstruck is an amazing children's book by Brian Selznick. A good part of the action is set in the Panorama.

If you go to see the Panorama, Kate and Kathleen STRONGLY recommend going to the Nan Xiang Dumpling House after, a 20-25 min walk from the museum. Get the steamed pork dumplings and the fish and salt cabbage soup.

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During the Revolutionary War, British forces imprisoned 11,000 captured Americans in foul, overcrowded, disease-infested, rotting ships with scarce food, water air, space or even sunlight.  This is one of the most tragic, but little-known, events in American history.   Three times as many Americans were allowed to die in the prisons and prison ships than were killed in the combat during the entire war. In the summer, they suffered from suffocation.  In the winter there was no heat, and few blankets or coats, and they froze to death or died of pneumonia. They had little food or water, so the prisoners had no resistance to the outbreaks of dysentery, typhoid fever, smallpox, yellow fever, and tuberculosis. It was one of the most horrible tragedies in American history.  But some important heroes came out of this, including spies and brave people who helped prisoners escape.  Today a monument honors these patriotic martyrs in Fort Greene Park.  Kate and Kathleen tell you all about this grim but important event in New York City military history.

Oysters

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Like Maine's lobster, New York's oyster used to be our iconic food.  New Yorkers feasted on them, exported them, and bragged about them.  This attracted visitors (including Charles Dickens!) to our town, where you could find oysters of every possible preparation, if you were careful to walk around the enormous heaps of oyster shells (which are called "middens") on the sidewalks.  Oysters could be had at fancy restaurants like Delmonico's, oyster cellars like Downing's, and even the eternally ubiquitous street carts.  But where are all those oysters now?? Kathleen and Kate tell you all about these amazing little bivalves, their history, and their future in New York Harbor.

The name of our favorite historical walking tour company, Urban Oyster, will make sense after you listen to this podcast.

The Oyster Blog is truly remarkable. They have a complete (updated as of 8/2/2012) list of NYC happy hours with oyster specials, cross-referenced by the day of the week. So if you're looking for Kate, she's probably in one of these bars.

Brooklyn Navy Yard

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From 1806 to 1966, The Brooklyn Navy Yard in Wallabout Bay, Brooklyn, constructed and repaired our nation's ships-- especially battleships-- in its 4 dry docks.  The 200 acres were covered with offices, store-houses, factories, hospitals, barracks, and extrordinarily lavish homes for admirals and the Commandant. At its maximum operation during WWII, over 70,000 peole worked there around the clock. Ships that played major roles in American history, like the Maine (its unexplained explosion in Havana triggered the Spanish- American War), the Arizona (it sank in the attack on Pearl Harbor), and the Missouri (it was the site of Japan's official surrender, ending WWII) were built there.  Kate and Kathleen tell you all about the amazing past at the Brooklyn Navy Yard-- and the exciting events going on there now!

To check out after you listen:

Thirteen.org's The City Concealed Navy Yard episode-- well worth the 9 min 28 seconds!

AWESOME Navy Yard tours by bus or bike

Great restaurant in out-of-the-way Vinegar Hill

Some more details about Brooklyn's waterfront bicycle greenway in the Navy Yard area

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In the second part of the Robert Moses podcast, Kate and Kathleen discuss Moses’ downfall: his compromises, his miscalculations, and his failures.  While the U.N. worked out as planned, the Mid- Manhattan Expressway, the Battery Bridge, and World’s Fair certainly didn't.  Hear about the increasingly critical press coverage of his works, which fed New Yorkers’ growing disillusionment with their Master Builder.

To check out after listening:

Andrew Lynch’s amazing maps of unbuilt Robert Moses expressway projects.  They're incredibly accurate in their resemblance to Google maps.  Furthermore, they're incredibly important in their ability to truly evoke the astonishing destruction that would have to happen on our beloved Manhattan streets-- and indeed, the kind of destruction that DID happen in so many other places throughout New York.

Our Facebook page for these and other Robert Moses-related pics, including photos from an exhibit of protest posters, the hideous New York Coliseum, some AMAZING Moses- inspired graffiti in Baltimore, and of course Moses  himself in an old- fashioned men’s bathing suit.

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