Author Archives: Jaya Saxena

Jaya Saxena

About Jaya Saxena


Jaya Saxena is a copy editor at the New-York Historical Society.

She also writes a webcomic about mysteries in New York City.

What Was New York City Like in 1670?


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Daniel Denton, A Brief Description of NEW-YORK: Formerly Called New-Netherlands, 1670. Book. New-York Historical Society Library, LIB.Y.1670.DenIn 1670, New York had been New York for just six years—the name changed to honor the Duke of York when English forces seized control of the Dutch colony.  But the city was open for business, and many back in Europe were curious about this center of trade across the Atlantic, open in the midst of the Age of Exploration.

Daniel Denton was a town clerk in Jamaica, Long Island, and from 1665-1666 served as justice of the peace for New York. He returned to England briefly in 1670, where he composed this pamphlet, “A Brief Description of New-York,” aimed at encouraging English settlers to come to the New World. Continue reading

James Hazen Hyde: A Gilded Age Scandal


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Théobald Chartran (French, 1849 –1907), James Hazen Hyde (1876-1959), 1901. Oil on canvas. New-York Historical  Society, Gift of James Hazen Hyde, 1949.1This portrait has captured the imaginations of New-York Historical Society visitors. Who was this dapper man, with his seductively villainous good looks? Why this dashing, bold pose for what seems to be an official portrait?

The man is James Hazen Hyde, though that name may not ring a bell these days. The son of Henry Baldwin Hyde, the founder of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, James was famous for his social and financial success, and the dramatic scandal that caused his downfall. Continue reading

New York City: What Is Your World War Two Story?


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When the New-York Historical Society set out to create its WWII & NYC exhibit, we knew that personal histories would be an important part of our presentation and our approach to soliciting visitor responses. Many visitors would have served on the home front or war fronts, or experienced the “War Emergency” as children. Others would have heard stories from their parents and grandparents. Continue reading