2 Years Of Path Through History: Who IS In Charge?


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Path Through historyAugust 28, 2014, marked the two-year birthday of the Path through History. It’s pregnancy was a long and troubled one with a delivery date long after the original May target. I attended the birthing of the program. I still have the paperweight distributed at the meeting. I still have the two slick glossy pamphlets distributed at the meeting. I even still have an unused napkin from the Executive Mansion reception where I met the Governor and two of his daughters. Didn’t we all have such hopes for the project then!

Now at the two-year anniversary, who will blow out the candles on Path through History birthday cake on August 28, 2014? Logically one would expect the head of the project to do so. Who is the head of the project? Continue reading

The Hyde Receives Large French Print Collection


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Jules Cheret -, Les Tziganes (The Gypsies)The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY, has announced the gift of an extensive collection of nineteenth-century French etchings, lithographs, engravings, woodcuts, and books.

Donated by Tobin A. Sparling, in memory of his parents Leon H. and Marie Buttlar Sparling, the gift includes works by Pierre Bonnard, Félix Bracquemond, Jules Chéret, Eugene Delacroix, Maurice Denis, Henri Evenepoel, Jean-Louis Forain, Théodore Géricault, Henri-Gabriel Ibels, Alphonse Mucha, Paul Serusier, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Félix Vallotton, among others. Continue reading

Fred Kerslake’s Famous Pig Circus


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PA1 Austin & Stone's“That’ll do, pig.” It’s a line I’ve heard more than once from my wife and business partner, Jill (we’re always razzing each other about something or other). It is, of course, the famous line near the end of Babe, a movie we both enjoyed. We’re also fans of Arnold from Green Acres, and of the pigs who played leadership roles in George Orwell’s allegorical novel, Animal Farm. You can see a theme developing here―a bunch of very smart pigs who, in fantasy worlds, did all sorts of things that a reasonable person knows a pig can’t really do.

Can’t really do? Not so fast. Yes, Orwell’s pigs were the smartest animals in the barnyard. Arnold could get the mail and understand English. Babe could herd sheep as well as any sheepdog. But in the real world, the North Country once had something to rival them all. I give you Fred Kerslake’s pigs. Continue reading

Harvest Faire At Fort Crailo September 13th


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Crailo Historic SiteOn Saturday, September 13th, Crailo State Historic Site and the Friends of Fort Crailo present Harvest Faire, an outdoor event free to the public (a nominal donation is asked to enter the museum exhibit), and part of the Hudson River Ramble. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held on Sunday, September 14th. The festivities run from 11 am to 4 pm.

Crailo’s grounds set the scene for 17th- and 18th-century re-enactors, music, and demonstrations. Among the re-enactors are 17th-century Dutch settlers, a rope-maker and tinsmith, and Native Americans with a recreated wigwam. This year will also include demonstrations of wheat threshing. Continue reading

New Exhibits At Museum of the City of New York


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Jeff_liao_heroThe Museum of the City of New York has announced its Fall 2014 season, including Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao’sportrait of New York as seen through more than 40 large-scale panoramic photographs of the city’s urban landscape; an exhibition of hand-painted 1950s magazine illustrations by Mac Conner, one of New York’s original “Mad Men;” an immersive video art installation by Péter Forgácsthat appropriates home movies and travelogues made by Jewish New Yorkers during visits to Poland before World War II; and an extended viewing of City As Canvas—the first exhibition of New York graffiti art from the Martin Wong Collection. Continue reading

This Week’s Top New York History News


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Latest New York History News

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Johnny Hayes, Ticonderoga’s Music Man


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AdTi1945JHayesIn late 1935, young Ticonderoga saxophonist Johnny Hayes sat in during a performance by a traveling orchestra from Boston. His performance so impressed the band leader that a permanent position was offered. Hayes had recently completed a summer stint at the Deer’s Head Inn (Elizabethtown), followed by a tour of central and northern New York cities with his own band.

He accepted the offer and began traveling with the orchestra within two weeks. It was the first step in a journey that would link him with many all-time greats of the Big Band Era. Continue reading

Lower Hudson Valley Public Historians Meeting


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APHNYS-Regions-Map1The Association of Public Historians of New York State (APHNYS), Region 3, will hold its 2014 meeting on Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 9:45 am to 2:00 pm at the Westchester County historical Society, 2199 Saw Mill River Road, Elmsford, NY. Region 3 includes Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester, Rockland, and Orange counties.

Registration for the 2014 APHNYS Region 3 Meeting should be mailed to: Suzanne Isaksen, APHNYS Region 3 Coordinator, 10 Windrift Lane, Walden, NY 12586-1524. Include the names and titles (e.g. “Town of Montgomery Historian”) of attendees, along with telephone and e-mail contact information. A fee of $10.00 per person is being charged to help defray costs of lunch and refreshments. Make checks payable to APHNYS. Continue reading

NYS Museum Exhibiting At New York State Fair


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RockefellerLimo-thThe New York State Museum is displaying two historical vehicles at the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY, through September 1, 2014. The two vehicles, a 1932 Packard Phaeton and a 1967 Lincoln Executive Limousine, were used by New York Governors Franklin D. Roosevelt and Nelson A. Rockefeller, respectively.

“The Board of Regents and the New York State Museum are honored to exhibit two historical vehicles from the Museum’s collections at the Great New York State Fair,” said State Museum Director Mark Schaming. “For the first time at the State Fair, thousands of New Yorkers will have the opportunity to see these two historical cars that transported Governors Roosevelt and Rockefeller across New York State.” Continue reading

Chappaqua Doesn’t Exist! Peter Feinman On Place


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ChappaquaFD4Chappaqua doesn’t exist. So says Ken Jackson of Columbia University, a longtime advocate calling for New York State to promote New York history. This might seem strange to the many people who have heard of Chappaqua, and those who know someone who lives there. It might also seem strange because Jackson himself lives in Chappaqua.

Well, not exactly. Chappaqua is not a municipality. There are no Chappaqua mayor, police, court or any of the other government services we normally associate with a municipality in New York State. Chappaqua doesn’t have a municipal historian because it is not a municipality; it’s a hamlet, located in the Town of New Castle. Continue reading

A Nyack Sketch: The Historic Towt House


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NSL154_Towt_Featured-imageImagine the stories that would be told if houses wrote autobiographies.

This stately structure on South Highland Avenue in Nyack could tell us if slaves were hidden here during the abolition movement. We would know about the political maneuverings and legal strategies of the successive generations of lawyers who called this place home. Or learn the downside of having a neighbor who owns a private zoo. The garden could share the secrets of what makes her bloom. But alas, buildings and garden beds don’t write books.

Fortunately for us, this house has a biographer, and her name is Judy Martin. Continue reading

Commission Approves NYC Rooftop Additions


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View of the Hudson from inside the Apthorp open air north pergolaA revised proposal for rooftop additions to the Apthorp was approved unanimously on August 12, 2014, by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The Apthorp is a NYC Individual Landmark, designed by architects Clinton & Russell and completed in 1908, and occupies a full city block between Broadway and West End Avenue and West 78th and 79th Streets.

The proposal was the third iteration of a plan first heard at LPC Public Hearing in November, 2013, which drew palpable opposition from elected officials, noted architects, community groups, neighbors and Apthorp residents. Continue reading

Columbia County Magazine: The 1737 Van Alen House


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Columbia County History and Heritage MagazineThe Columbia County Historical Society in Kinderhook, New York has published the latest issue of Columbia County History & Heritage magazine. The Spring/Summer 2014 issue is subtitled “Celebrating Our Legacy The Luykas Van Alen House 1964-2014″.

In honor of the Van Alen House 50th anniversary, Executive Director and Curator Diane Shewchuk solicited articles from local authors and scholars Ruth Piwonka and Roderic Blackburn, who have been involved with the National Historic Landmark 1737 Van Alen House since the 1970s. Continue reading

Ermina Pincombe: When Music (Like Food) Was Local


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Ermina PincombeI’ve learned so much about the history and culture of my state (NY) and local communities in which I reside (Buffalo NY and Piercefield NY in the Adirondack Mountains) through the traditional music of these places.

Similarly, my interest in local and state history has informed my understanding and appreciation of the music of our forebears. Before mass media came into the home, you got your music as you got your food – from someplace local, mostly. The newspaper, perhaps. Travelling shows, yes. But also from people in your community. Family members, neighbors, coworkers. What did they sing about? And what can those long-forgotten songs tell us about a community? Continue reading

Rensselaer County Historical Plans Two New Exhibits


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Corner of Second and StateThe Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) will debut a new exhibit, At the Corner of Second & State: Where Troy’s History Intersects, on Monday, September 8th at 7 pm along with the companion exhibit, “Conserving the Welfare and Best Interests of our Depositors”: The Troy Savings Bank.

The main exhibit runs through December 20, 2014, and the companion exhibit runs through November 15, 2014. The exhibits are sponsored in part by the Troy Savings Bank Charitable Foundation and the Lucille A. Herold Charitable Trust. The exhibits are open and free to the public. Continue reading

Historic Adirondack Footbridge Fundraising Underway


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Wanakena Ice Jam BridgeSeveral nonprofits from across the Adirondack region have partnered to raise funds to rebuild the historic and iconic Wanakena Footbridge in the Clifton-Fine community. The suspension bridge was destroyed in January, 2014 when an ice jam on the Oswegatchie River broke and slammed into its side.

Built in 1902 by the Rich Lumber Company, the footbridge provided pedestrian access to residential and commercial areas of Wanakena. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Estimates put the full cost of construction at $250,000.

The Wanakena Historical Association has already raised nearly $38,000, but to extend the campaign’s, reach the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has partnered with other local nonprofits to establish an online Adirondack Gives crowdfunding effort. The Wanakena Footbridge campaign can be found on the Adirondack Gives website. Continue reading

Underground Railroad History: Vigilance Committees


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The Vigilance Committee Flyer courtesy of American Antiquarian SocietyAs the 1830′s drew to a close and the 1840′s began, committees were formed in some cities in the north to protect freedom seekers from re-enslavement, and to assist them in their flight to freedom in the north or in Canada. As slave catchers sought freedom seekers, these “vigilance” committees provided legal assistance, food, clothing, money, employment, and temporary shelter.

Such a committee formed in Albany in the early 1840’s, and one continued to exist up to the time of the Civil War. Albany’s anti-slavery newspaper, Tocsin of Liberty, identifies ten people, Blacks and whites, as members of the executive body of the local Vigilance Committee in 1842. Some are familiar names from the city’s history, such as Thomas Paul and Revolutionary War veteran Benjamin Lattimore. Continue reading

Spirit of 1776: A New Suffragette Anthem


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Spirit of 17776 Suffrage AnthemThe Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana, CA provided the stage set for a new music video, “Spirit of 1776,” which the production team calls a “suffragette anthem”, scheduled for release in time for Women’s Equality Day celebrations.

Observed on August 26th each year, the occasion commemorates American women’s campaigns to win the vote from 1848 to 1920. The music video is inspired by an actual suffrage campaign wagon called the “Spirit of 1776” used in New York State as a speakers’ platform and in suffrage parades prior to 1920. Continue reading