William Kissam Vanderbilt and his wife, Alva, moved a few blocks south of the Marble Row into the first house equipped with electricity. (Thomas ALVA Edison--bizarre coincidence--furnished the technology.)
What Fifth Avenue store (that sells magic, thunder, and heat) now occupies the lot where that Vanderbilt mansion once glowed?
When Mary Mason Jones and her sister moved uptown and built Marble Row near Central Park, they were considered pioneers--the wealthy lived downtown near Washington Square and Gramercy Park. The fringe of the park was considered the Wilderness. It wasn't too long, however, before the wealthy followed the sisters uptown and this move, according to legend, is where we get the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses."
What store stands where the Marble Row once did? (Hint: to purchase something here is to keep up with the Joneses in the modern sense.)
This was New York's first grand auditorium. Castle Garden was a massive opera house from 1840-1855 when the venue became America's first official immigration station. From 1855-1890, the state and federal governments worked together to process the immigrants. When the feds took over the job, New York State promptly evicted them. (In 1892, Ellis Island opened.) This building became the New York Aquarium until the 1940's.
What kind of edifice stands there now?
(Hint: it was also the original structure whose walls were part of the opera house, immigration station, and aquarium.)
The third Madison Square Garden (1925-1967), whose boxing ring was donated to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, was the MSG where Marilyn Monroe sang Happy Birthday to JFK. This was also the arena whose construction crew included aspiring author, John Steinbeck.
What building now stands where the third Madison Square Garden once did?
Today, at the bottom of Broadway the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House (home of a federal bankruptcy court and a museum dedicated to the Native American) stands in all its Beaux Arts splendor. But what bulky building occupied this site from the 1620's until 1789 when it was finally demolished to clear the way for the new federal city?
There was a mansion in Lower Manhattan called Richmond Hill (demolished 1849) that served as the first Vice Presidential mansion for John Adams. George Washington had used it as a headquarters in 1776 and Aaron Burr would later occupy it as a country home.
Today what off-Broadway house and what independent movie theater would you find closest to the site of that first Vice Presidential mansion?
This local island was known as Lesser Island (Minnissais) and Great Oyster Island. It was named after Isaac Bedloe in 1667 and retained that name for 290 years. It was the city's first quarantine station during a smallpox epidemic and was used as a refuge for Loyalists on the eve of the Revolution. It also served as a recruitment camp and ordnance depot during the Civil War.
This local island was known as Hog Island and had farms as early as 1639. The king of England granted it to John Manning in 1668. In 1675, after John Manning surrendered Fort James, allowing the Dutch to briefly reclaim the city, the king of England exiled Manning to the island for cowardice and treason. Manning's son-in-law, Robert Blackwell, inherited the island, and the Blackwells owned it until 1828.
The city purchased it and built a workhouse, an almshouse, a madhouse, and a penitentiary (which housed both Boss Tweed and Mae West). In 1887, Nellie Bly famously went undercover to expose conditions at the island's lunatic asylum. In 1921, it was renamed Welfare Island. With its history, it was known as a "home for the unfortunate and suffering."
This local island was known as Kioshk Island in 1600, Gull Island by 1630, Oyster or Little Oyster Island by 1680, Bucking Island by 1730, and Gibbet or Anderson Island (Anderson was a sailor hanged here from a gibbet) by 1765.
This local island was where the first eight European settlers lived in 1624 before following their dreams and moving to Manhattan the following year. In the early 1700's the city used the island to quarantine thousands of German Protestants expelled by Louis XIV. In 1755, during the French and Indian War, it served to quarter the 51st Regiment of the British Colonial Militia. Until 1997, it was the oldest continually active military base in the United States.
This local island was where the first eight European colonists set their cattle to pasture in 1624. Known later as York Island, it was almost entirely deforested by the end of the American Revolution. Name that island.
In The Great Gatsby (1925), the Valley of Ashes between East Egg and the City serves as a metaphorical wasteland. The ash heaps were not a literary invention. They actually existed and were located in Queens. Fitzgerald saw this part of town--a giant dump with piles of ash reaching up to ninety feet--as the antithesis of "the fresh, green breast of the new world." Within fourteen years, however, this part of the city would be completely cleaned up in order to showcase a bright, new vision of the future.
What precipitated the transformation and what stands there now?
A body of water, formerly known as the "Fresh Water Pond" and then "the Collect," became a polluted swamp that required drainage via a canal in the early 1800's. A neighborhood rose from the mud to become a slum known as "the Five Points," so infamous that the streets themsleves were renamed or removed entirely. To pinpoint exactly where the original streets intersected, you'll need maps, but ROUGHLY: what district now stands where the Five Points once did?