New York Public LIbrary

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Snowballing and Street Bocce: How Lower East Siders Escaped the Grit

Corlear's Hook Park - older girl with books on one side of table in playground, early 1900s (Lewis Hine)

How many times have you played street bocce or jumped off the dock for a dip in the Hudson?

Pouring through some of the 180,000 hi-res digital images just released to the public domain by the New York Public Library, we were especially fascinated by all the images of recreation and leisure. We tend to relate the Lower East Side’s history to, say, Jacob Riis’s photos of grungy, overcrowded tenements, but over and over photos jumped out from the archives showing kids from the turn of the century swinging in new playgrounds, reading books at Hamilton Fish Park, or playing a massive game of London Bridge in a back alley. We’ve gathered some of them in the slideshow below.

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‘The Hottest Love Letter’: A Very Private Moment at The Public

All week, we’re bringing you a series of deep dives into the surprising histories of storied addresses. Back to our usual after the New Year.

The Astor Library's exterior in 1875 (Source: Manuscripts and Archives Division, NYPL)

The Astor Library’s exterior in 1875 (Source: Manuscripts and Archives Division, NYPL)

“Incidentally,” Alice Broadbent recalls at age 92, “one of these page boys wrote me the hottest love letter I’d ever received.”
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