The Brooklyn Public Library Gives Every Teenager in the U.S. Free Access to Censored Books

We have cov­ered it before: school dis­tricts across the Unit­ed States are increas­ing­ly cen­sor­ing books that don’t align with con­ser­v­a­tive, white-washed visions of the world. Art Spiegel­man’s Maus, The Illus­trat­ed Diary of Anne Frank, Alice Walk­er’s The Col­or Pur­ple, Toni Mor­rison’s The Bluest Eye, and Harp­er Lee’s To Kill a Mock­ing­bird–these are some of the many books get­ting pulled from library shelves in Amer­i­can schools. In response to this con­cern­ing trend, the Brook­lyn Pub­lic Library has made a bold move: For a lim­it­ed time, the library will offer a free eCard to any per­son aged 13 to 21 across the Unit­ed States, allow­ing them free access to 500,000 dig­i­tal books, includ­ing many cen­sored books. The Chief Librar­i­an for the Brook­lyn Pub­lic Library, Nick Hig­gins said:

A pub­lic library rep­re­sents all of us in a plu­ral­is­tic soci­ety we exist with oth­er peo­ple, with oth­er ideas, oth­er view­points and per­spec­tives and that’s what makes a healthy democ­ra­cy — not shut­ting down access to those points of view or silenc­ing voic­es that we don’t agree with, but expand­ing access to those voic­es and hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions and ideas that we agree with and ideas that we don’t agree with.

And he added:

This is an intel­lec­tu­al free­dom to read ini­tia­tive by the Brook­lyn Pub­lic Library. You know, we’ve been pay­ing atten­tion to a lot of the book chal­lenges and bans that have been tak­ing place, par­tic­u­lar­ly over the last year in many places across the coun­try. We don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly expe­ri­ence a whole lot of that here in Brook­lyn, but we know that there are library patrons and library staff who are fac­ing these and we want­ed to fig­ure out a way to step in and help, par­tic­u­lar­ly for young peo­ple who are see­ing, some books in their library col­lec­tions that may rep­re­sent them, but they’re being tak­en off the shelves.

As for how to get the Brook­lyn Pub­lic Library’s free eCard, their Books Unbanned web­site offers the fol­low­ing instruc­tions: “indi­vid­u­als ages 13–21 can apply for a free BPL eCard, pro­vid­ing access to our full eBook col­lec­tion as well as our learn­ing data­bas­es. To apply, email” In short, send them an email.

You can find a list of Amer­i­ca’s most fre­quent­ly banned books at the web­site of the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion.

Note: We first post­ed about this ini­tia­tive dur­ing the dog days of last August. But it seemed worth men­tion­ing this pro­gram while school’s in full swing. Hence why we’re flag­ging Books Unbanned again.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Texas School Board Bans Illus­trat­ed Edi­tion of The Diary of Anne Frank

Ten­nessee School Board Bans Maus, the Pulitzer-Prize Win­ning Graph­ic Nov­el on the Holo­caust; the Book Becomes #1 Best­seller on Ama­zon

The 850 Books a Texas Law­mak­er Wants to Ban Because They Could Make Stu­dents Feel Uncom­fort­able

Umber­to Eco Makes a List of the 14 Com­mon Fea­tures of Fas­cism

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Why We All Need Subtitles Now

We live in an age of sub­ti­tles. On some lev­el this is a vin­di­ca­tion of the cinephiles who spent so much of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry com­plain­ing about shod­dy dub­bing of for­eign films and pub­lic unwill­ing­ness to “read movies.” Today we think noth­ing of read­ing not just movies but tele­vi­sion shows as well, even those per­formed in our native lan­guage. For an increas­ing pro­por­tion of at-home view­ers — includ­ing on-com­put­er, on-tablet, and on-phone view­ers — sub­ti­tles have come to feel like a neces­si­ty, even in the absence of any hear­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. Vox’s Edward Vega inves­ti­gates why this has hap­pened in the video above.

The chief irony of the sto­ry is that the intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty of film and tele­vi­sion dia­logue seems to have degrad­ed as a result of sound record­ing and edit­ing tech­nol­o­gy hav­ing improved. Back in the ear­ly days of sound film, actors had prac­ti­cal­ly to shout into bulky micro­phones con­cealed on-set or placed just off it. Today, a pro­duc­tion can keep a cou­ple of boom mics sus­pend­ed over­head at all times, but also rig each actor up with a few hid­den lava­liers. The upshot is that dia­logue almost always gets record­ed accept­ably, but it removes the pres­sure on per­form­ers to deliv­er their lines with the clar­i­ty they would, say, on stage.

For bet­ter or for worse, this has encour­aged a ten­den­cy toward unprece­dent­ed­ly nat­u­ral­is­tic dia­logue, man­i­fest though it often does as slur­ring and mum­bling. At the same time, says dia­logue edi­tor Austin Olivia Kendrick, film­mak­ers have come to believe that “if you want your movie to feel ‘cin­e­mat­ic,’ you have to have wall-to-wall bom­bas­tic, loud sound.” Yet a sound­track can be cranked up only so high, an explo­sion of the same loud­ness as a human voice won’t sound like an explo­sion at all: “you need that con­trast in vol­ume in order to give your ear a sense of scale.”

This need to pre­serve the sound mix’s “dynam­ic range” — just the oppo­site of the “loud­ness wars” in pop­u­lar music — thus keeps dia­logue on the qui­et side. You can still hear it clear as day in a the­ater equipped with up-to-date sur­round-sound facil­i­ties, but much less so when it’s com­ing out of the tiny speak­ers crammed into the back of a flat-pan­el tele­vi­sion, let alone the bot­tom of a cell­phone. Turn­ing the sub­ti­tles on and leav­ing them on has emerged as a com­mon solu­tion to this thor­ough­ly mod­ern prob­lem. Anoth­er would be to invest in a prop­er high-end ampli­fi­er and speak­er set­up, which, if wide­ly adopt­ed, would cer­tain­ly come as a vin­di­ca­tion for all the frus­trat­ed audio­philes out there.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Why Do Peo­ple Talk Fun­ny in Old Movies?, or The Ori­gin of the Mid-Atlantic Accent

Why Mar­vel and Oth­er Hol­ly­wood Films Have Such Bland Music: Every Frame a Paint­ing Explains the Per­ils of the “Temp Score”

How the Sounds You Hear in Movies Are Real­ly Made: Dis­cov­er the Mag­ic of “Foley Artists”

The Dis­tor­tion of Sound: A Short Film on How We’ve Cre­at­ed “a McDonald’s Gen­er­a­tion of Music Con­sumers”

David Lynch on iPhone

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Adapting the Unfilmable Story of Pinnochio — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #143


Your Pret­ty Much Pop A‑Team Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Lawrence Ware, Sarahlyn Bruck, and Al Bak­er dis­cuss the orig­i­nal 1883 freaky chil­dren’s sto­ry by Car­lo Col­lo­di and con­sid­er the recent rush of film ver­sions, from a new Disney/Robert Zemikis CGI take to Guiller­mo del Toro’s stop-motion pas­sion project to a heav­i­ly cos­tumed Ital­ian ver­sion by Mat­teo Gar­rone, which is the sec­ond to fea­ture Oscar win­ner Rober­to Benig­ni in a lead role. Benig­ni’s pre­vi­ous try was a 2002 ver­sion that is the most true to the beats of the orig­i­nal sto­ry and maybe because of this has a 0% on Rot­ten Toma­toes. Why do peo­ple keep remak­ing this sto­ry, and how has the orig­i­nal moral of “be a good boy and obey” changed over the years?

Read the orig­i­nal sto­ry. Some arti­cles going through the film ver­sions include:

Fol­low us @law_writes, @sarahlynbruck, @ixisnox, @MarkLinsenmayer.

Hear more Pret­ty Much Pop. Sup­port the show and hear bonus talk­ing for this and near­ly every oth­er episode at or by choos­ing a paid sub­scrip­tion through Apple Pod­casts. This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

Medieval Mixed-Gender Fight Club: Behold Images from a 15th-Century Fighting Manual

Wel­come to Medieval Mixed-Gen­der Fight Club.

The first rule of Medieval Mixed-Gen­der Fight Club is: you do not talk about Medieval Mixed-Gen­der Fight Club.

The sec­ond rule of Medieval Mixed-Gen­der Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Medieval Mixed-Gen­der Fight Club!


The Pub­lic Domain Review’s man­ag­ing edi­tor, Hunter Dukes, wise­ly argues that it’s because we have so lit­tle to go on, beyond these star­tling images of “judi­cial duels” between men and women in Ger­man fenc­ing mas­ter Hans Tal­hof­fer’s illus­trat­ed 15th-cen­tu­ry “fight books.”

The male com­bat­ant, armed with a wood­en mace, starts out in a waist-deep hole.

The female, armed with a rock wrapped in a length of cloth, stands above, feet plant­ed to the ground.

Their match­ing uni­sex gar­ments wouldn’t look out of place at the Met Gala, and pro­vide for max­i­mum move­ment as evi­denced by the acro­bat­ic, and seri­ous­ly painful-look­ing paces Tal­hof­fer puts them through.

Dukes is not alone in won­der­ing what’s going on here, and he doesn’t mince words when call­ing bull­shit on those respon­si­ble for “hasti­ly researched arti­cles” eager­ly pro­nounc­ing them to be action shots of divorce-by-com­bat.

Such bru­tal meth­ods of for­mal uncou­pling had been ren­dered obso­lete cen­turies before Tal­hof­fer began work on his instruc­tion­al man­u­als. 

In a 1985 arti­cle in Source: Notes in the His­to­ry of Art, Alli­son Coud­ert,  a pro­fes­sor of Reli­gious Stud­ies at UC Davis, posits that Tal­hof­fer might have been draw­ing on the past in these pages:

I would sug­gest that no records of judi­cial duels between hus­bands and wives exists after 1200 because of both changes in the real­i­ty and the ide­al of what a woman could be and do. Before 1200, women may well have bat­tled their hus­bands. Women under­stood and defend­ed the impor­tance of their eco­nom­ic and admin­is­tra­tive roles in the house­hold. After the twelfth cen­tu­ry, how­ev­er, law, cus­tom and reli­gion made mar­i­tal duels all but unthink­able.

Why would Tal­hof­fer both­er includ­ing archa­ic mate­r­i­al if the focus of his Fecht­buchs was giv­ing less expe­ri­enced fight­ers con­crete infor­ma­tion for their bet­ter­ment?

We like the notion that he might have been seek­ing to inject his man­u­scripts with a bit of an erot­ic charge, but con­cede that schol­ars like Coud­ert, who have PhDs, research chops, and actu­al exper­tise in the sub­ject, are prob­a­bly warmer when reck­on­ing that he was just cov­er­ing his his­tor­i­cal bases.

For now, let us enjoy these images as art, and pos­si­ble sources of inspi­ra­tion for avant-garde cir­cus acts, Hal­loween cou­ples cos­tumes, and Valen­tines.


Explore more images from the 15th-cen­tu­ry Fecht­buchs of Hans Tal­hof­fer here and here.

via the Pub­lic Domain Review

Relat­ed Con­tent 

What It’s Like to Actu­al­ly Fight in Medieval Armor

How to Get Dressed & Fight in 14th Cen­tu­ry Armor: A Reen­act­ment

Watch Accu­rate Recre­ations of Medieval Ital­ian Longsword Fight­ing Tech­niques, All Based on a Man­u­script from 1404

The Medieval Mas­ter­piece, the Book of Kells, Is Now Dig­i­tized & Put Online

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

When Leonard Bernstein Turned Voltaire’s Candide into an Opera (with Help from Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker & Stephen Sondheim)

The sev­en­teen-fifties found West­ern civ­i­liza­tion in the mid­dle of its Age of Enlight­en­ment. That long era intro­duced on a large scale the notion that, through the use of ratio­nal­i­ty and sci­en­tif­ic knowl­edge, human­i­ty could make progress. For the Enlight­en­men­t’s true believ­ers, it would have even­tu­al­ly become quite easy indeed to assume that we had nowhere to go but up, and would soon­er or lat­er attain a state of per­fec­tion. No such fan­tasies, of course, for Jean-Marie Arou­et, bet­ter known as Voltaire. Despite being an Enlight­en­ment icon, he pulled no punch­es in attack­ing what he saw as its delu­sions, most last­ing­ly in his 1759 satir­i­cal nov­el Can­dide, ou l’Op­ti­misme.

Two cen­turies lat­er, West­ern civ­i­liza­tion, and espe­cial­ly the fresh­ly formed civ­i­liza­tion of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca, had entered a new age of rea­son. Or rather, it had entered an age of tech­ni­cal, indus­tri­al, and orga­ni­za­tion­al “know-how.”

The con­vic­tion that Amer­i­ca could be per­fect­ed through engi­neered sys­tems played its part in gen­er­at­ing a degree of pros­per­i­ty the world had nev­er known (and would have scarce­ly been imag­in­able in Voltaire’s day). But it also had grim­mer man­i­fes­ta­tions, such as McCarthy­ism and the House Un-Amer­i­can Activ­i­ties Com­mit­tee, whose pro­ce­dures ground away at the core of the anti-Com­mu­nist “red scare.”

In Can­dide, Voltaire takes to task a vari­ety of not just beliefs but insti­tu­tions, includ­ing the Por­tuguese Inqui­si­tion. The play­wright Lil­lian Hell­man, who’d been black­list­ed after appear­ing before the HUAC in 1947, “observed a sin­is­ter par­al­lel between the Inqui­si­tion’s church-spon­sored purges and the ‘Wash­ing­ton Witch Tri­als,’ fueled by anti-Com­mu­nist hys­te­ria.” So says the web site of Leonard Bern­stein, Hell­man’s col­lab­o­ra­tor on what would become a com­ic-operetta adap­ta­tion of Can­dide. With con­tri­bu­tions from lyri­cist John LaTouche, poet Richard Wilbur, and Algo­nquin Round Table wit Dorothy Park­er, their pro­duc­tion was ready to open in the fall of 1956.

Stripped in the eleventh hour of Hell­man’s most direct top­i­cal attacks, and even then crit­i­cized for over-seri­ous­ness, the orig­i­nal Broad­way pro­duc­tion of Can­dide end­ed after 73 per­for­mances. (Record­ings of the orig­i­nal pro­duc­tion can be pur­chased online.) Nev­er­the­less, there was cause for opti­mism about its future: the show would be revived in Lon­don with a revised book two years lat­er, with fur­ther new ver­sions to fol­low in the nine­teen-sev­en­ties and eight­ies, its lyrics sup­ple­ment­ed by no less a Broad­way mas­ter than Stephen Sond­heim. The two-and-a-half hour video above com­bines high­lights of two con­sec­u­tive per­for­mances in 1989, con­duct­ed by Bern­stein him­self in the year before his death. “Like its hero, Can­dide is per­haps des­tined nev­er to find its per­fect form and func­tion,” notes Bern­stein’s site. “In the final analy­sis, how­ev­er, that may prove philo­soph­i­cal­ly appro­pri­ate.”

Relat­ed con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Voltaire: Enlight­en­ment Philoso­pher of Plu­ral­ism & Tol­er­ance

What Voltaire Meant When He Said That “We Must Cul­ti­vate Our Gar­den”: An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion

Leonard Bernstein’s Mas­ter­ful Lec­tures on Music (11+ Hours of Video Record­ed at Har­vard in 1973)

Hear the Famous­ly Con­tro­ver­sial Con­cert Where Leonard Bern­stein Intro­duces Glenn Gould & His Idio­syn­crat­ic Per­for­mance of Brahms’ First Piano Con­cer­to (1962)

Leonard Bern­stein Awk­ward­ly Turns the Screws on Tenor Jose Car­reras While Record­ing West Side Sto­ry (1984)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

The Two Fridas: An Introduction to Frida Kahlo’s Famous Large-Scale Painting (1939)

One can appre­ci­ate the art of Fri­da Kahlo while know­ing noth­ing of the art of her one­time hus­band, the Mex­i­can mural­ist Diego Rivera. But the expe­ri­ence of cer­tain of her paint­ings can be great­ly enriched by some knowl­edge of their rela­tion­ship, the clear­est exam­ple being The Two Fridas, which Kahlo paint­ed in 1939 after their divorce. The largest of her numer­ous self-por­traits, it presents the artist as a set of dop­pel­gängers set apart by their attire: one wears a Euro­pean dress, and the oth­er a tra­di­tion­al Mex­i­can one. The result­ing tableau could, on one lev­el, reflect her dual her­itage; it also, as Kahlo her­self put it, shows “the Fri­da Diego loved, and the one he did­n’t.”

The Two Fridas is the sub­ject of the video essay above from Great Art Explained. “The dark­er-skinned Fri­da on the right is the indige­nous Mex­i­can Fri­da that was adored by her hus­band,” explains its host, gal­lerist James Payne.

“The lighter-skinned Fri­da on the left is the Euro­pean Fri­da that he reject­ed.” Pre­sent­ing her­self in the for­mer fash­ion “sent a clear mes­sage of cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty, nation­al­ism, and fem­i­nism” — but it also con­cealed the “bro­ken body” that result­ed from a bus crash in her youth as well as var­i­ous oth­er phys­i­cal dis­or­ders lat­er in life. This por­trait, how­ev­er, expos­es the heart of “Mex­i­can Fri­da” in order to show that it “remains intact, sus­tained by the small por­trait of Diego” in her hand.

The heart of “Euro­pean Fri­da,” how­ev­er, is ren­dered as “dis­con­nect­ed from her beloved Diego,” and it “bleeds pro­fuse­ly onto her dress, a Vic­to­ri­an lace dress sim­i­lar to the one her moth­er wore.” The two Fridas are con­nect­ed through their exposed hearts by a sin­gle artery, one con­nect­ed to the por­trait of Rivera. Payne points out the par­tic­u­lar sym­bol­ic pow­er of a bleed­ing heart, a “fun­da­men­tal sym­bol of Catholi­cism” that “can also be seen as sym­bol­ic of Aztec rit­u­al sac­ri­fice,” in the case of a cul­tur­al­ly con­flict­ed artist such as Kahlo. In ret­ro­spect, The Two Fridas also seems to express the inevitabil­i­ty of Kahlo and River­a’s remar­riage, which would come the fol­low­ing year. They had “one of the most obses­sive and tumul­tuous rela­tion­ships in art his­to­ry,” as Payne puts it, but while both lived, they knew they could­n’t do with­out each oth­er.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Fri­da Kahlo: The Life of an Artist

A Brief Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to the Life and Work of Fri­da Kahlo

The Inti­ma­cy of Fri­da Kahlo’s Self-Por­traits: A Video Essay

Home Movies of Fri­da Kahlo (and a Side Order of Roman­tic Entan­gle­ments)

Fri­da Kahlo: The Com­plete Paint­ings Col­lects the Painter’s Entire Body of Work in a 600-Page, Large-For­mat Book

Dis­cov­er Fri­da Kahlo’s Wild­ly-Illus­trat­ed Diary: It Chron­i­cled the Last 10 Years of Her Life, and Then Got Locked Away for Decades

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

An Immersive, Architectural Tour of New York City’s Iconic Grand Central Terminal

New York­ers can be a mad­den­ing­ly closed-mouth bunch, self­ish­ly guard­ing our secret haunts lest they be over­run with new­com­ers and tourists…

But there’s not much we can do to deflect inter­est from Grand Cen­tral Teminal’s whis­per­ing gallery, a wild­ly pop­u­lar acoustic anom­aly in the tiled pas­sage­way just out­side its famous Oys­ter Bar.

So we invite you to bring a friend, posi­tion your­selves in oppo­site cor­ners, fac­ing away from each oth­er, and mur­mur your secrets to the wall.

Your friend will hear you as clear­ly as if you’d been whis­per­ing direct­ly into their ear…and 9 times out of 10, a curi­ous onlook­er will approach to ask what exact­ly is going on.

Ini­ti­ate them!

Shar­ing secrets of this order cul­ti­vates civic pride, a pow­er­ful force that Jacque­line Kennedy Onas­sis har­nessed when devel­op­ers threat­ened to obscure Grand Central’s beau­ty with a tow­er­ing addi­tion designed by Mod­ernist archi­tect Mar­cel Breuer.

Onas­sis wrote to May­or Abra­ham Beame in 1975, hop­ing to enlist him in the fight to spare mid­town Manhattan’s jew­el from an affront that the Land­marks Preser­va­tion Com­mis­sion called an “aes­thet­ic joke:”

Is it not cru­el to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud moments, until there is noth­ing left of all her his­to­ry and beau­ty to inspire our chil­dren? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future?

The Supreme Court sealed the deal in Grand Cen­tral’s favor in Penn Cen­tral Trans­porta­tion Co. vs. New York City, a (par­don the pun) land­mark deci­sion that ensured future gen­er­a­tions could dis­cov­er  the Beaux-Arts treats his­to­ri­an Antho­ny Robins, author of Grand Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal: 100 Years of a New York Land­mark, divulges above.

Hope­ful­ly, you’ll be inspired to bud­get a few extra min­utes to hunt for Cadu­cei and Van­der­bilt fam­i­ly acorns next time you’re grab­bing a Metro-North com­muter train.

(Amtrak’s long dis­tance lines oper­ate out of Penn Sta­tion…)

Spend some time in Grand Cen­tral’s icon­ic Main Con­course.

Gaze up toward the great arched win­dows to see if you can catch a tiny human fig­ure behind the glass bricks, pass­ing along one of the high up hid­den cat­walks con­nect­ing office build­ings anchor­ing Grand Cen­tral’s cor­ners.

Per­haps you’ll be privy to some intrigue near the famous four-sided clock, a time-hon­ored ren­dez-vous spot that’s appeared in numer­ous films, includ­ing The God­fa­ther, Men in Black, and North by North­west.

Admire the upside down and back­wards con­stel­la­tions adorn­ing the vault­ed ceil­ing, mar­veling that it not only took five men — archi­tect Whit­ney War­ren, artist Paul Helleu, mural­ist J. Mon­roe Hewlett, painter Charles Bas­ing, and astronomer Harold Jaco­by — to get it wrong, their celes­tial boo-boo has been embraced dur­ing sub­se­quent ren­o­va­tions.

If your wal­let’s as fat as a Park Avenue swell’s, head to the Camp­bell Apart­ment atop the West Stair­case. For­mer­ly the pri­vate office of Jazz Age financier, John W. Camp­bell, it’s now a glam­orous venue for blow­ing $20 on a mar­ti­ni.

(Hot tip — that same $20 can fetch you six­teen Long Island Blue Points dur­ing Hap­py Hour at the Oys­ter Bar.)

As for the East Stair­case, near­ly 100 years younger than its seem­ing fra­ter­nal twin across the Concourse’s mar­ble expanse, that one leads to an Apple Store.

Browse var­i­ous options for Grand Cen­tral Ter­mi­nal guid­ed and self-guid­ed tours here.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Archi­tect Breaks Down Five of the Most Icon­ic New York City Apart­ments

A Whirl­wind Archi­tec­tur­al Tour of the New York Pub­lic Library–“Hidden Details” and All

An Archi­tect Demys­ti­fies the Art Deco Design of the Icon­ic Chrysler Build­ing (1930)

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Stream 385,000 Vintage 78 RPM Records at the Internet Archive: Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Billie Holiday & More

We may have yet to devel­op the tech­nol­o­gy of time trav­el, but record­ed music comes pret­ty close. Those who lis­ten to it have expe­ri­enced how a song or an album can, in some sense, trans­port them right back to the time they first heard it. But old­er records also have the much stranger pow­er to con­jure up eras we nev­er expe­ri­enced. You can musi­cal­ly send your­self as far back as the nine­teen-twen­ties with the above Youtube playlist of dig­i­tized 78 RPM records from the George Blood col­lec­tion.

George Blood is the head of the audio-visu­al dig­i­ti­za­tion com­pa­ny George Blood Audio, which has been par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Inter­net Archive’s Great 78 Project. “The brain­child of the Archive’s founder, Brew­ster Kahle, the project is ded­i­cat­ed to the preser­va­tion and dis­cov­ery of 78rpm records,” writes The Vinyl Fac­to­ry’s Will Pritchard.

The piece quotes Blood him­self as say­ing that his com­pa­ny has been dig­i­tiz­ing five to six thou­sand records per month with the ambi­tious goal of cre­at­ing a “ref­er­ence col­lec­tion of sound record­ings from the peri­od of approx­i­mate­ly 1880 to 1960.” He said that five years ago. Today, the Inter­net Archive’s George Blood col­lec­tion con­tains more than 385,000 records free to stream and down­load.

The 78 hav­ing been the most pop­u­lar record­ed-music for­mat in the first few decades of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry, George Blood L.P. and the Great 78 Pro­ject as a whole have had plen­ty of mate­r­i­al to work with. In the large archive built up so far you’ll find plen­ty of obscu­ri­ties — the Youtube playlist at the top of the post can get you acquaint­ed with the likes of Eric Whit­ley and the Green Sis­ters, Tin Ear Tan­ner and His Back Room Boys, and Dou­glas Ven­able and His Bar X Ranch Hands — but also the work of musi­cians who remain beloved today. For the 78 was the medi­um through which many lis­ten­ers enjoyed the big-band hit of Glenn Miller, or dis­cov­ered jazz as per­formed by leg­ends like Louis Arm­strong and Bil­lie Hol­i­day. To know their music most inti­mate­ly, one would per­haps have need­ed to hear them in the actu­al nine­teen-thir­ties, but this is sure­ly the next best thing.

Relat­ed con­tent:

How the Inter­net Archive Has Dig­i­tized More than 250,000 78 R.P.M. Records: See the Painstak­ing Process Up-Close

Mas­sive Archive of 78RPM Records Now Dig­i­tized & Put Online: Stream 78,000 Ear­ly 20th Cen­tu­ry Records from Around the World

200,000+ Vin­tage Records Being Dig­i­tized & Put Online by the Boston Pub­lic Library

Rare Ara­bic 78 RPM Records Enter the Pub­lic Domain

Down­load 10,000 of the First Record­ings of Music Ever Made, Cour­tesy of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia-San­ta Bar­bara

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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