One of the crown jewels of Manhattan, the grand dame of New York City, is turning 100. We are talking, of course, about Grand Central Terminal. A century ago, on February 2, 1913 – after a decade of construction – the building that would revolutionize commuter train travel opened its doors.

There isn’t anything to say that hasn’t been said before about the building’s grandiose and tumultuous history. So, we offer something else to commemorate one of the most amazing buildings in the city: a 360 look at Grand Central. Part of a larger project photographing iconic landmarks in glorious 360 degrees, we teamed up with Shots 360 and photographer Thomas Erh, the man behind the lens of interactive 360ยบ panoramic photography, to document some of our favorite Old New York places.



OHNY | Edward Hopper House

My unconditional admiration for Edward Hopper started with a painting that I found by chance, when wandering the empty galleries of the Whitney Museum’s permanent collection. I was looking for inspiration, for something to write about, and there it was Early Sunday Morning, speaking to me, reminding me of a bygone New York that Hopper so fondly treasured. The simplicity of its composition made me fall in love with the old city once again, but most importantly, it made me fall in love with Hopper and his nostalgic scenes of brownstones and theatre interiors.

I became obsessed with the idea of finding the original location that had inspired him paint Early Sunday Morning in 1930. I delved into archives around the city, and with a little bit of luck, I was able to find a picture at the New York City Photograph Collection that portrayed what for me was the source of Early Sunday Morning. My instincts were telling me that the modest two-story building once standing at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Eighteenth Street, with its unadorned windows and street-level storefronts, had too much of a resemblance to be a mere coincidence. Also, Hopper lived near by and frequently walked around the neighborhood in search of inspiration.

Hopper had his home and studio at 3 Washington Square North,  a townhouse that today is part of the New York University campus. For my excitement and absolute delight,  NYU opened Hopper’s studio for visitation as part of the Open House New York weekend on October 5-7,  2012. It was only for one day,  last Sunday,  and I went in the morning. Located at the top floor,  the place is preserved intact. The very little is all there: the old fridge and tank,  the low bench,  the wooden bookcase,  the stove,  the fireplace,  the press,  and the imposing easel,  which Hopper used to paint some of his most famous works. He moved to this address in 1913 at 31 years of age,  when he was still a bachelor. In 1924 he married the also artist Josephine Nivison,  who then occupied the inner studio,  adjacent to Hopper’s space.

For me everything finally fell into place. The austerity of his studio unmistakably reflected the quietness and soberness of his compositions. I was seeing the emptiness, the solitude, and the introspection that he so masterfully transcribed to his scenes and characters. I sensed his reserved personality and his keen eye for capturing moments that could not be fully translated into words. I cherished his simplicity and humbleness, making me admire him even more not only as an artist, but also as a person. I only regret it was raining that morning, for I missed to see the light that probably inundated the place from the ceiling, nourishing him with those warm and naturalistic tones that became the essence of his paintings. Some might say I missed the most important, I prefer to believe the rain was his invitation for my returning.

If you missed the Open House New York weekend, you can still visit Hopper’s studio by making an appointment via Edward Hopper House Art Center. Early Sunday Morning is always on view at the Whitney Museum. They sometimes change its place and include it in temporary exhibitions, but it’s always there. From the old building in the archival photograph only the fire hydrant remains at the same place. 

A guest post by Francine Kath from NYartRider


OHNY - Brooklyn Army Terminal

We always wanted to see what the Brooklyn Army Terminal looked like on the inside. Sure, we have seen photos, but we really wanted to experience it in person. Lucky for us, the Brooklyn Army Terminal was one of the sites of this year's Open House New York.

Designed by architect Cass Gilbert,  the complex was commissioned in 1918 and completed 17 months later in 1919 – all 5 million square feet of it. Up through World War II, it was the largest military supply base in the country.

The futuristic looking design included 96 centrally controlled push button elevators, which at the time was the largest elevator installation ever constructed.  To us, the building seems to evoke a “Blade Runner” vibe, which is so different from Gilbert’s other work, the most famous of which is the Woolworth Building.

The balconies in the two main buildings are actually loading bays, reached via a crane that runs the length of the building. 

During WWII, 56,000 people worked her, both military and civilians. During its years of operation, more than 3 million troops passed through the terminal – including one very famous Elvis Presley who shipped to Germany from here in September of 1958.

The city of New York purchased the terminal from the federal government in 1981 for the purpose of using the space for light manufacturing. The complex is listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983. 

OHNY is one of our favorite city-wide events. Last year we visited the TWA terminal at JFK, the Catacombs at Green-Wood cemetery, Louis Armstrong's House, the Chrysler Building lobby, and the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen. We are already looking forward to next year!


Katz's Deli in miniature

We love Katz's Deli, home to what is arguably the most iconic pastrami sandwich in the city. The lines are also notorious and of course, who can forget the When Harry Met Sally scene? 

Here is a different take on Katz's, a work in miniature by artist Alan Wolfson, who creates intricate miniature sculptures of urban environments. One of the things that makes his work extra cool is that he tries to tell stories through each piece. By looking at the minute detail, we get a sense of place and a sense of story, which is really the artists' goal:  "The real impact of my work ins not in how small everything is, but in the stories these small things tell."

via Alan Wolfson

via Alan Wolfson

via Alan Wolfson

via Alan Wolfson

You can see more of Alan's amazing work on his website


Outtakes - Signs

When we are out and about photographing a place for the blog, we usually end up with a bunch of photos that are un-related to the post we set out to create. Looking back at our photo files, we realized we have a lot of pictures of signs - no story, just a sign.

Last year, when we went to Greenpoint for our Fat Tuesday Paczi Day post, we photographed this sign at a local hardware store.

Coney Island has been undergoing a lot of changes lately. Regardless of your take on the demise of Astroland and the shiny new Luna Park, everyone shares in the love of Nathan's - which of course has the awesome neon sign. They are open year round, by the way: this photo was taken in the middle of January.

On the subject of the Coney Island that is gone, this sign on the access ramp to the beach is no more:

We have to admit that we have a fascination with the grittier, seedier side of New York - when Times Square was not the "urban theme park" that it is now. Even back then New Yorkers avoided the area, but for whole host of different reasons. The iconic Peeo-O-Rama sign, representative of the area's less PG-rated past, was preserved and is now - low and behold - a tourist attraction at the Times Square visitors center.

On the other side of the Hudson River is this sign, from the defunct Tunnel Diner. We have been smitten with this sign for a long time. It stands just a few blocks from the Holland Tunnel exit onto Jersey City. Sadly, we think its days are numbered, as a chain link fence has been built around the property and the parking lot is being used as overflow parking for U-Haul trucks.


New York Objects

Today's New York Times has a great article telling the story of New York through 50 iconic items covering items as early as a Mastodon tusk, and as recent as the Mast Brothers chocolates.

Wooden water pipe (via NYT)
Did you know that Aaron Burr used his influence create a company delivering water via wooden pipes to New York City and then diverted funds to create a bank (Chase Manhattan), which continued to supply water to the city from its downtown well until the 1920s?  Crazy, right?

Act Up button (via NYT)

During the 1980s AIDS crisis,  Act Up was in the forefront of the Gay Rights movement and the fight to make medication available to those who needed the most. I Love Old NY friend (and co-director of our The Kite Man of Central Park) Ali Cotterill edited a fantastic documentary on the subject. 

The Anthora cup (via NYT)

How about our perennial favorite icon, the Anthora coffee cup? No list of New York objects would be complete without it. While not as prevalent as they once were, the lowly blue cups can still be found at some delis and breakfast carts throughout the city.

What is your favorite NYC object? Were they left out of the top 50 list?


These walls can talk

It's no secret we love old buildings - not only for the architecture, but the many stories they tell; the vestiges of previous lives. 

On a recent trip to Ellis Island, we decided to look past the traditional museum exhibits and look to the building itself as a way to understand what it was like for those who experienced it as immigrants. 

After staring at the amazing Gustavino tile ceiling (the same can be found at Grand Central Station and the decommissioned City Hall subway station) and the incredible windows with the original mechanisms still intact, we came upon just what we were looking for:

100 plus year old graffiti! During the building's restoration,  layers of paint were carefully removed to reveal doodles and messages from a bygone time. 

These columns can be found around the halls of the main building, quietly telling a story to those who stop and look up. 


Colony will soon be no more

Jeremiah's Vanishing New York has a post today about the closing of another iconic New York store. After 60 years in business, Colony Music will be shutting its doors for good next month.

via Jeremiah's Vanishing New York

It's always a sad day for us here at Old New York when we hear a beloved business is closing.  If there is a store, restaurant or other place that symbolizes New York City to you, please help support it by being a customer. 


Lunch Hour NYC

Things have been quiet here on the blog – that’s because we’re working on a super cool project that we’ll share with you shortly.

In the mean time, as the dog days of August approach (and as we seek place to, um, borrow air conditioning), we absolutely urge you to visit the Lunch Hour NYC exhibit at the New York Public Library.

Lunch Time NYC looks at how to the notion of lunch has changed and shaped New York City over the past 150 years. The exhibit includes some amazing displays (our favorite is the Automat machine) and even some recipes of some of the most famous lunches in the city. 

You can find more information here, and as a bonus there will be food trucks stationed outside for your lunching pleasure. And here is a little something about the man who invented the hot-dog cart.  


Beer Here: Brewing New York's History

To consider the fascinating yet largely anonymous legacy of beer brewing in New York City, the New-York Historical Society presents Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History. This exhibit surveys the social, economic, political, and technological history of the production and consumption of beer, ale, and porter in the city from the seventeenth century to the present. 

May 25, 2012 - September 02, 2012


Prime Burger is closing after 74 years. You could say they had a good run, but once again a place that made New York City just a bit more unique will be no more.

You can read all about the sad news here, or you can get your butt over to 5 E 51st street and get one last burger before Saturday.


Under the J Train

Most people when thinking of the New York City subway system automatically imagine subterranean trains  running through a web of underground tunnels. While this is true for Manhattan, several of the outer borough lines are actually above ground. The J train is a prime example, coming above ground at the Williamsburg Bridge and running on an elevated track all the way to Jamaica Center (JFK airport, basically).

Today we took a stroll between the Kosciuszko St station and the Marcy Ave station, photographing the old, the new and the in-between. 

Yes, this is a chicken coup, right on Broadway! While many parts of Brooklyn surrounding the J train are rapidly gentrifying, this part of Broadway remains a mixture of derelict building, strong ethnic enclaves and lots of fun things to explore.



Mark The Painter | Exhibition

Mark Turgeon, a long time friend of the blog and subject of an ongoing video project,  is exhibiting his favorite works from 1988-2012 at the Gary Krauss Stratford Gallery in Chelsea. We were at the opening reception, which was packed with old friends and new admirers. 

Mark Turgeon


Happy 73rd Anniversary to the 1939 World's Fair

We have a huge soft spot for everything World's Fair related. We wrote about elements here and here. While looking around the internet, we found this cool video about the 1939 Fair.

There are also loads of photos on Gothamist. Enjoy!


This Must Be The Place | New York’s Prime Burger

We recently came across this great video of Prime Burger. Hope you enjoy it too!

"Tucked away in the shadows of St Patrick's Cathedral in midtown Manhattan lies Prime Burger, an understated, yet steadfast burger institution circa 1938."

 from This Must Be the Place (found via A Continuous Lean) Produced by Lost & Found Films


Icons of New York: the Anthora Coffee Cup

On this blog we are always looking for places and things that represent the timeless New York. To us, one of the most iconic New York objects is the humble Anthora coffee cup.

Designed in the 1960s for the Sherri Cup Company, its popularity spread outside the five boroughs; the cup making appearances in TV shows and in the movies and becoming recognized the world over. The designer of the cup, Leslie Buck, passed away a couple of years ago, but even before then,  the use of the Anthora cup was in decline.

While no longer ubiquitous, the Anthora cup can still be found at some diners and breakfast carts around the city. Maybe it's just us, but street coffee tastes much better from that amazing iconic cup.



Mc Nulty's is is one of those places that make New York unique. In business for over 100 years, the barrels of coffee beans, the apothecary jars filled with teas and the analog scales exude a calm that transports us to a simpler time. 

There are very few pre-packaged items in the store. Half the fun is to choose your tea or coffee and see it bring weighed, packaged and stamped.