Category Archives: Lost New York


It was June 1st, 1971: still 18 years old, I’d signed a lease with no guarantors for a four room tenement apartment at 505 West 122nd Street, complete with mice and roaches just off heroin-ridden Amsterdam Avenue. Dormitory life was not for me at Columbia College, where I’d matriculated almost two years before. I had […]

Also posted in A Walker in the City: Flaneur Pieces, Uncategorized, Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |

Making Moxie from Misery With a Pit Stop in Between

Here at the northeast corner of 36th Street and 7th Avenue, the massive structure at 485 Seventh Avenue is undergoing yet another transformation, and a sorry one at that.  The entablatured M (see below) memorializes a benevolent history, one that slowly deteriorated after War II, and then sank into the swamps of capitalistic greed and […]

Also posted in Uncategorized |

Among the Stones

My friend Russell shares my taste for all things historical, but he’s a hard man to visit, in the recent past working two jobs to pay the rent.  Notwithstanding the pressures of his life, his brain remains as big and always open as a barn door. A complicated relationship he has, with memory and honor, […]

Also posted in Uncategorized |

The Measure of a Man

The size of a funeral is the measure of a man, and in 1932, Upper West Sider Sol Brill’s departure from this earth was larger than life.  An, honest, dignified, gentle soul was cut down by cancer at age 54, at the height of his career as a movie-theater builder and operator.  Brill’s funeral was […]

Also posted in A Walker in the City: Flaneur Pieces, Sol Brill, Sol Brill, Uncategorized, Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |

The Toast of the Town….

                                  Billy Niblo is quite the man these days, despite being gone since 1878 ! Come hear this blogger speak about Niblo’s fascinating career as New York’s premier tavernkeep and then pleasure garden owner in the early and mid-19th century […]

Also posted in Talks & Events, William Niblo biography |

The Trilogy of Desire…

Most of us know Theodore Dreiser as the author of An American Tragedy, Sister Carrie, and Jennie Gerhardt, but in his lifetime, Dreiser was known for much more. A master story teller and cultural historian, Dreiser’s Trilogy of Desire has fallen off the cliff of popular consciousness, relegated to the academic world.  Even more obscure […]

Also posted in Uncategorized |

A Tribeca Palimpsest from Days Gone By

New York’s City Hall has stood, majestic, since the start of the War of 1812, its design by Green-Wood resident John McComb, Jr.,  little changed save an Alabama limestone cladding added in the mid-1950s over the original buff sandstone rear facade and the front of Massachusetts marble.  McComb’s name is seldom recognized today, his only other surviving creations in Manhattan being Gracie […]

Also posted in A Walker in the City: Flaneur Pieces, Found Objects |

A Con Grows in Brooklyn

A CON GROWS IN BROOKLYN… Brooklyn, March of 1961: The Cold War shivered America, the perils of internationalism evident all about. Camelot’s reign in the Kennedy White House had just begun, though, and Jackie’s hiring of French chef Rene Verdon to reign over America’s presidential kitchen heralded a new day in what had been a […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |

Cold Storage

My wife tells a story that I never get right. The details don’t really matter, though it’s the moment that counts: A precious thing bonds her psyche to mine: the Yiddish inflection of older relatives (though hers was Bronx-ite and mine through parents who fled Philadelphia to live among the lost tribes in East Tennessee). […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |

The Great Unwashed

Walk the moonscape of far East 38th Street today: the sidewalks are empty, devoid of life, though the streets hum and clog with traffic at rush hours as the entrances and exits to the Queens Midtown Tunnel spill forth. Those who emerge from the taxis and limos are well-scrubbed, their private baths drawn and terry […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |