Behind The Scenes

Author Archives: Jaya Saxena

Remember The NYC Subway Token

On July 25, 1953, New York City’s subway fare was raised to 15 cents. Instead of making subway riders have three nickels each time, the city introduced the subway token, which became a symbol of the city until it was phased out for the MetroCard in 2003. The initial subway token design featured the initials [...]

What Do Beavers Have to Do With Manhattan Real Estate?

It’s John Jacob Astor’s birthday today. The Astors were a powerful family in early New York history, making their fortune from the beaver pelt trade, and eventually owning a ton of city real estate.  They’re why we have Beaver Street in the FiDi, and why Astoria is called Astoria. (He didn’t even put up a [...]

How New York Reacted To World War I

World War I began on July 28, 1914, almost exactly 100 years ago. The United States did not enter the war until 1917, but the horrors of the war were known, and America reacted in a number of different ways. First, there were those who supported the war and the troops, however they could. This [...]

How We Celebrate Our Independence

My plan for this Independence Day involves hot dogs, hanging out on my friend’s balcony, and watching the fireworks on the East River. I think it’s a pretty good way to spend my day, but New Yorkers have been celebrating with parades, beaches and parties since we pulled down that statue of King George. Some [...]

Happy Birthday, Coney Island Cyclone!

It’s officially summer, which means Coney Island is hopping with locals and tourists alike, enjoying the beach, eating hot dogs, and riding rides. On June 26, 1927 one of Coney Island’s most popular and enduring rides was born–the Coney Island Cyclone! Coasters like the Thunderbolt and the Tornado were popular additions to Coney Island’s amusement [...]

Votes For Women! When Congress Approved The 19th Amendment

On June 4, 1919, the US Congress approved the 19th Amendment, which granted suffrage to women. The Amendment was not ratified by the states until August 18, 1920, but the approval was a huge victory for women’s rights. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton first drafted and introduced the amendment in 1878, but it took over forty years [...]

130 Years Ago, Elephants Solved Panic On the Brooklyn Bridge

On May 24, 1883 the Brooklyn Bridge opened to traffic, and though now we know it as a beautiful landmark, New Yorkers of the time were a bit more wary. At the time it was the only bridge spanning the East River, connecting the separate cities of Brooklyn and New York, and many doubted that [...]

Beach Scenes From New York’s Past

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, which means it’s officially beach season! The New York City parks department maintains 14 miles of beaches, which New Yorkers have been using to cool themselves from the city heat (or enjoy some amusement park rides) for many years. Many of these beach scenes are from almost 100 years [...]

How America Reacted To Watergate…With Buttons!

On May 17, 1973, the United States Senate Watergate Committee convened to begin the investigation on the Watergate scandal. The year before, five men were arrested for breaking and entering into the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters, and President Nixon’s campaign office was implicated. From May 17 through August 7, the hearings were broadcast on national [...]

The Hats of Spring

Finally, it’s warm and sunny enough to be able to enjoy the outdoors, which for many women means an excuse to don their best hats. Here’s a look at some of our favorite headwear represented in the New-York Historical society collections.     Men have always had fashionable hats too, like this on on Esteban [...]