Things to see and do in New York in 1960

According to a partly shredded Texaco street map of the city, that is.

Sure, most of the streets are the same. But there’s no Soho or Tribeca, and Battery Park City is at least a decade away; West Street is the western border of Manhattan, the map reveals.

Texaco put together a few paragraphs on what do in New York. Some interesting bits:

The map suggests visiting “a great univeristy”—Columbia. NYU was still a middling commuter school at the time.

“Greet airliners at Idlewilde Airport.” Guess President Kennedy is still alive.

“Ferry your car over and tour the farmlands of Staten Island.” No Verrazano-Narrows Bridge yet; that isn’t open until 1964. Farmland?

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7 Responses to “Things to see and do in New York in 1960”

  1. oscar Says:

    NYU still isn’t a great university

  2. Christine Lites Says:

    I left New York as a teenager in the early 1960’s. These are the very things I remember about New York, and the places we went to on the weekends. I grew up in Yonkers, and still miss going in to “the city”. I actually remember doing it with friends when I was 12 – 13. I suspect young kids from the suburbs don’t do that today. I remember the fuss a year or so ago, when a Mom allowed her son to navigate the subway by himself. A lot has changed over the years. New York will always feel like home.

  3. Josie Says:

    Yes, farmland! At the time I lived on a Staten Island farm–a real farm with animals, a barn, acres under cultivation, a canning house, and a large pond in the deep center of a meadow for geese in summer and ice skating in winter. There were woods all around. Nearby there was a goat farm. Nearby there was a horse farm. That entire area of Staten Island is now covered in concrete and suburban homes, with hardly a blade of grass to be seen. There are protected greenlands on Staten Island, but the rest is now densely populated and plagued with all the social problems of the inner city. The few tiny pockets of unspoiled rural and coastal environment that survived the first waves of development have lately been savaged by city officials and turned over developers for the rich or the ruins simply neglected and left to the drug dealers.

  4. Josie Says:

    In response to Oscar re: NYU. Do you mean to say that “expensive” doesn’t denote “great”? LOL.

  5. Josie Says:

    And yes, you traveled between Staten Island and Manhattan in your car, which was borne across the harbor by the Staten Island Ferry. Three lanes of cars to a boat. You could sit in the car all the way and keep warm, or walk to the front of the boat on the lowest level to enjoy the water and the view, or go upstairs to buy a hot dog or coffee and a doughnut. Since 9/11, no cars are allowed on the ferries. And the new boats are small, plastic, ugly, and overcrowded, like subway cars.

  6. wildnewyork Says:

    That farm you lived on sounds wonderful. Roughly what neighborhood was it in?

  7. Josie Says:

    The farm was located in the southern part of the Island, on Bloomingdale Road, approximately halfway between the village of Pleasant Plains and the Arthur Kill Road which runs along the west coast of Staten Island, across from New Jersey.

    Here’s an excerpt from a column written by Dorothy Day in The Catholic Worker newspaper in December, 1959, which nicely conveys what the area was like at the time:

    “On Thanksgiving night, after a delightful day at Peter Maurin Farm, Anne Marie Stokes and I walked down the road, through the woods to the station and went into New York. Doing without cars on the farm has meant more staying at home, and more walking when we go out. The walk to the beach must be about five miles and Stanley can make it in an hour. Those not used to it can take the train between Pleasant Plains and Annadale and walk down from there, and both walks are along roads where there is little traffic, and beautiful woods. Jimmie Hughes commented on how much he saw when he was walking, and one delight for the eyes were great patches of bitter sweet among the brambles, and lovely yellow rushes in the swamps.

    The ride on the train takes a half an hour, and the ferry almost that, and there are always families returning from visits to relatives, with branches of leaves or cuttings of plants, now that there are no longer any flowers. Anne Marie had gathered herself a yellow bouquet of seed pods of various grasses growing by the edges of the fields. John had ploughed practically everything and put in rye, some of which was up in great checkerboards of brightest green, contrasting beautifully with the brown of freshly turned and harrowed earth. One had to look for weeds, and Anne Marie was loathe to leave them behind, but Hans had given her a great loaf of raisin bread, true feastday bread, and what with other bundles, she had to abandon the weeds on the top of our piano. John also had ready for us some cuttings from the fig tree which is now blanketed in hay and burlap against the winter. I had brought that cutting, purchased for fifty cents in a tomato can from a curb peddler on my way to church on Mott Street ten years before, and transplanted it to Peter Maurin Farm, and it has borne almost a peck of figs, even a bushel, each of these last three years. We could not carry the cuttings either, but John promised to water them for us, and we will collect them another time; Anne Marie for her roof, and me for the garden in back of the beach house where I have already put in a fine row of chrysanthemums this fall.

    One appreciates the country all the more when forced to go in and out of town. People laugh when we say the country, because Staten Island is still New York City.”

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