Guastavino’s New York | Episode 176

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In 1881, Spanish engineer Rafael Guastavino arrived in New York City and unveiled his new technology for building self-supporting vaulted tile ceilings. These ceilings are now iconic elements of many New York landmarks, and the city is home to more than 250 of them, more than any other city in the United States. On this virtual tour, we’ll look at many of the ceilings up close, in both grand public buildings and out-of-the-way places, including in Prospect Park, Grand Central Station, Ellis Island, and the Municipal Building, as we discuss this engineering marvel.

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Canners, Compost, Community, Art: A Special Peek Inside Sure We Can | Episode 175

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You may have seen people collecting cans and bottles, dependent upon the few cent deposit for their livelihood. For the past 10 years, Sure We Can has provided a sustainable and safe space for this community to thrive. The non-profit organization is not only a recycling center, but also an art space, community center, garden, composting facility, and a place for the local community to learn about sustainability. Join us as we chat with executive director Ryan Castalia and take a virtual tour through this incredible facility in Brooklyn, where we may even get to meet a canner or two to hear their stories.

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NYC Holiday Trivia | Episode 174

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Get your latkes and your lussekatter, your pasteles and your pecan pie ready for this evening of holiday trivia! The holidays will be unlike any other this year, so we will have questions looking back at the history of New York City during the holiday season. Between rounds, we will have special guests Sibyl McCormac Groff, author of A New York Christmas: Ho-Ho-Ho at Gothamtide, who will share her knowledge of Rockefeller Center and holiday history, and Rev Jen Miller, artist and author of Elf Girl, who is also a graduate of Bloomingdale’s Christmas Elf Academy. Join us for a joyous and fun holiday evening!

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The Constellation Fire: The Accident That Changed the Brooklyn Navy Yard | Episode 173

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On December 19, 1960, the Brooklyn Navy Yard suffered the worst accident in its history, a devastating fire aboard the USS Constellation that killed 50 workers. This fire was not only a tragedy for those who were killed and injured and their families, but it marked a turning point in the Yard’s history that many believe led to its closure less than six years later. Over the years, we have had the honor to meet many people that lived through this ordeal, and we will share oral histories and photos from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archives to reconstruct this fateful day and examine its impact on individuals, the city, and the Navy.

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Exploring the Morris Canal with the Canal Society of New Jersey | Episode 172

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For almost a century, New Jersey’s Morris Canal fueled New York City with anthracite coal from northeast Pennsylvania, but now for nearly another century, the abandoned canal has been all but obliterated from the landscape. Join us as Tim Roth of the Canal Society of New Jersey helps uncover this lost canal, its innovative design, and its vital role in the history of New York City. Our discussion will also look at the lives of the people who worked that waterway, and current efforts to return its remnants to public view.

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Best New York City Books from Our Members

At our December member happy hour, we invited participants to share some of their favorite books about New York City, in any genre – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, photography, travel – and our members did not disappoint! Many showed off their extensive collections, and some even have entire shelves dedicated to nothing but books about the city.

We collectively compiled a list of over 30 books, which you can find below, and we’ll continue to add to it (you can also join our group on GoodReads). Many make great holiday gifts, some are long out of print, and a few were featured on our virtual programs, including John Tebeau’s loving tribute to New York’s best bars and restaurants, and Jennifer Egan’s Brooklyn Navy Yard bestseller Manhattan Beach.

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“Pop-Surreal” Art and Tile Demo with Artist Ralph Almeida | Episode 171

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Originally from Connecticut and of Portuguese descent, New York-based artist Ralph Almeida creates colorful and imaginative “pop-surreal” works of ceramic and acrylic art that combine many influences – of indigenous and modern artists, the ancient and contemporary, nature and spirituality, and his own background as a textile designer. Ralph is perhaps best known for his painted decorative tiles, and he will walk us through a hands-on tile demo and some of his favorite projects, from tiles inspired by the stained glass windows of the Museum at Eldridge Street, to special commissions for people’s homes to decorative face masks.

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December 7, 1917: The US Navy in World War I | Episode 170

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December 7, 1941 is a date that is indelible in American history, but 24 years earlier, that date also marked an important moment: the arrival of Battle Division 9 to Scapa Flow, the first American battleships to join the British Grand Fleet, which included the Brooklyn Navy Yard-built USS New York and USS Florida. We will discuss the special role of the US Navy in the naval war, in which battleships actually played a very small part. Places like the Brooklyn Navy Yard were instead tasked with building submarine chasers and painting “dazzle” camouflage schemes to counter German U-boats, and American manufacturing was mobilized to produce more than 50,000 mines for the North Sea Mine Barrage to close off passage to the Atlantic from Germany.

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Holiday Plants at Urban Garden Center | Episode 169

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Urban Garden Center has been a fixture of Spanish Harlem since the 1950’s, and today their beautiful shop occupies a massive two-block stretch along Park Avenue in the historic La Marqueta. We interviewed third-generation owner Dimitri Gatanas earlier this year to discuss spring plants, and now we’re back to discuss the plants that make the holiday season special. We’ll take a virtual tour of their seasonally-decorated space, learn about Christmas trees and other holiday plants (plus share tips on maintaining them), and discuss how this holiday season will be different from any other.

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Virtual Ride on the South Brooklyn Ferry | Episode 168

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Take a virtual ride with us on the South Brooklyn route of the NYC Ferry. We will board at Corlears Hook and examine the Brooklyn waterfront as we ride past DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Red Hook, Sunset Park, and finally end in Bay Ridge. Along the way, we will look back at the industrial history of these neighborhoods and see some of the last vestiges of the industrial and working waterfront in Brooklyn, including the Red Hook Container Terminal, Erie Basin, and the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We will also discuss many of things to see and do near the ferry stops.

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