According to the New York Historical Society, and they're a pretty reliable source, Santa Claus is really a New Yorker! They say that the modern day Santa "came into the world on West 23rd Street... born in the imagination of Clement Clarke Moore, a scholar who penned a whimsical poem about St. Nicholas, the patron of old Dutch New York, for the amusement of his six children at Christmastime" (A Visit from St. Nicholas is best known from its opening line: "Twas the night before Christmas"). They note, "Moore's poem permanently connected St. Nicholas to Christmas, and led to our idea of Santa Claus."
That's not all, however; the NYHS says two other New Yorkers are also to credit for the popularity of Santa: "Washington Irving, the creator of Knickerbocker's History of New York, and Thomas Nast, an artist whose drawings of Santa were reproduced all over the country in the years following the Civil War."
You can learn more about Santa's relationship to the city at their current exhibit, "It Happened Here: The Invention of Santa Claus." The installation traces "the modern image of Santa Claus, the red-suited, pot-bellied descendant of the medieval bishop St. Nicholas of Myra, which emerged only decades after the first Congress met in 1788 in Federal Hall in New York." Our photographer Katie Sokoler dropped by last week, and here's a peek at what's in store.