This exhibit is targeted specifically for students K-12 and their teachers as well as the general public. Our goal is that the images and descriptions can be used to promote and integrate local history into the school curriculum.
Today, most New Yorkers and tourists think of 34th Street and its surrounding areas as a bustling shopping district, a transit hub for the Long Island Railroad or Jersey Transit, or as the home of iconic destinations such as the Empire State Building, Macy’s, and Madison Square Garden. They may have heard the 1904 song “Give My Regards to Broadway” by George M. Cohan with its famous lyric, “remember me to Herald Square,” without thinking about why this triangular park is called Herald Square. Many go to the large Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue to mail letters and packages, never knowing why mail warranted such a huge structure. Many use Pennsylvania Station to catch trains, never reflecting on why it is named after another state.
This online exhibition will answer some of those questions, and will reveal another 34th Street: a street that was once the center of a thriving theater district - the Times Square of its day; a 34th Street once bounded on its eastern and western edges by foul slums, factories, and slaughterhouses as well as charitable institutions that served the poor; a 34th Street where millionaires briefly lived and then moved on as the neighborhood commercialized; a street that once had noisy, dirty elevated trains that are now just a memory.
While the images in this exhibition may evoke sights and events that suggest a very different 34th Street from the one we know today, you will also find much here that is familiar: department and specialty stores that have been a part of 34th Street for more than a century; a streetscape that was as bustling and crowded then as it is today; and most important, a street that is home to a sprawling transit network that began to take shape more than 150 years ago and is still growing. It is this function as the busiest transit hub in the nation - served by several rail lines and myriad subway routes that has long defined 34th Street’s character, and will continue to shape its identity and destiny far into the future.
For images owned by the Mina Rees Library, CUNY Graduate Center:
Mina Rees Library
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309
Michael W. Handis, the Associate Librarian for Collection Management at the Mina Rees Library, served as the Project Manager, providing leadership, development and oversight of the project. Mr. Handis has worked in academic libraries for over twenty years, in technical and public services. He has a variety of research interests which include the history of libraries as well as local history.
Dália Leonardo is Senior Metadata Librarian at the Mina Rees Library. As one of the original members of the project, she assisted in selecting materials to be digitized, evaluated and contributed intellectual content to the site. She also participated in the development of metadata standards, best practices, controlled vocabularies and metadata creation. Dália received her M.L.S. from Queens College and has a Ph.D. in History from Fordham University.
Cynthia Tobar is a Metadata Librarian at the Mina Rees Library. As a member of the project team, she worked on developing metadata standards, best practices, and metadata creation. Prior to her time at the Graduate Center, she was Senior Metadata Creator for the Museum of the City of New York and a cataloger, archivist, and metadata creator at the New York Public Library. Cynthia received her MA in Political Science from New School University and her MLS, with a certificate in Archival Management, from Pratt Institute.
Melissa Longhi is the Serials Assistant at the Mina Rees Library. She assisted with the metadata creation and imaging for the project. She received her MLS from CUNY Queens College with a certificate in Archives, Records Management, and Preservation specializing in digital archives. She has interned at the Guggenheim Museum Archives and the Coney Island Museum Archives. Currently, Melissa is pursuing her MA degree in Art History at Hunter College.
Margaret Bausman, Adjunct Reference Librarian at the Mina Rees Library at the CUNY Graduate Center, assisted with metadata creation and imaging for the project. She has worked as the Assistant Archivist at the Hadassah Archives and interned with the New-York Historical Society. Ms. Bausman, MSW, received her MLS with a concentration in Rare Books and Special Collections, as well an Archives and Records Management Certificate, from Long Island University's Palmer School.
Madeline Rogers is an independent public historian, editor, and writer worked as the historical consultant for the project. She is former Vice President for Programs and Publications at the South Street Seaport Museum, where she developed exhibitions and public programs and was Editor-in-Chief of Seaport: New York's History Magazine. In addition, she has served for the past ten years as a history consultant to the 34th Street Partnership. Madeline earned an MA in History and a Certificate in Archival Management from NYU.
Stephen Klein for the 34th St. project worked on Omeka administration, website construction, design and data processing. Stephen received his MA in History from Brooklyn College and his MLS from Queens College. Prior to working as a Systems Librarian previously at the Pratt Institute Library and currently at the Mina Rees Library, Stephen has worked as a technical writer, product manager, design analyst, and project manager for various software houses.
Jeanette O'Keefe is a photographer born and raised in Manhattan. She went to school at Binghamton University, where she studied Fine Art and Art History. Jeanette is currently living and working in her native city, where in her free time you might find her roaming the streets, camera in hand. A portfolio of her work can be found online at www.jeanettics.com
Madelyn Kent, Curator of the Seymour B. Durst Old York Library, selected images and provided context during development of the project. The late Seymour Durst, a New York City real estate developer, started the collection in the early 1960s and by the time he died in 1995 it filled nearly every nook and cranny of his five-story East Side townhouse. The Graduate Center's Reading Room contains 3,000 of the rarest books along with furnishings from the study in Seymour Durst's original "Old York Library" townhouse. In addition to books, the collection includes photos, images, postcards, maps, and other New York City memorabilia. The bulk of materials not in the reading room are in the Old York Library Research Room at The Graduate Center, and an online version of the collection can be found at www.oldyorklibrary.org
Suzanne Wasserman, Ph.D., Director of the Gotham Center for New York City History provided ongoing support and input for the project. The Gotham Center is committed to providing access to the best and most interesting developments in New York City history by creating high-quality, relevant, and cutting-edge programs, and through our website, offering an extensive virtual guide to history-related resources. We want both to entertain, by providing an entree to one of the most fascinating cities on earth, and to illuminate the present by thinking critically about the past. New York is in constant flux; understanding how it evolved is an indispensable precondition for shaping its future.