Category Archives: History

New York History

Update On Fort Ticonderoga’s 1826 Pavilion Project


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Designing the Future for Fort Ticonderoga's PavilionThe design phase has begun for Fort Ticonderoga’s Pavilion, an 1826 historic home and later hotel located on Fort Ticonderoga just east of Fort Ticonderoga. John G. Waite Associates, Architects PLLC, a consultant firm in the field of historic preservation architecture, has been hired to prepare schematic design and design development documents.

The Fort Ticonderoga Association is expected to use the documents in the stabilization and restoration of the building as part of a larger master plan for the site. Continue reading

The Amazing Career Of Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler


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nicholas miraculousIn Nicholas Miraculous: The Amazing Career of the Redoubtable Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler (Columbia Univ. Press, 2015), Michael Rosenthal explores the life of Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler (1862–1947).

To some, like Teddy Roosevelt, he was “Nicholas Miraculous,” the fabled educator who had a hand in everything; to others, like Upton Sinclair, he was “the intellectual leader of the American plutocracy,” a champion of “false and cruel ideals.” Ezra Pound branded him “one of the more loathsome figures” of the age. Whether celebrated or despised, Nicholas Murray Butler was undeniably an irresistible force who helped shape American history. Continue reading

Crossing Broadway, Washington Heights and the Promise of New York City


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Crossing BroadwayIn Crossing Broadway Washington: Heights and the Promise of New York City (Cornell University Press, 2014), Robert W. Snyder explores New York City in the 1970s.

When the South Bronx burned and the promise of New Deal New York and postwar America gave way to despair, the people of Washington Heights at the northern tip of Manhattan were increasingly vulnerable.

The Heights had long been a neighborhood where generations of newcomers — Irish, Jewish, Greek, African American, Cuban, and Puerto Rican — carved out better lives in their adopted city. But as New York City shifted from an industrial base to a service economy, new immigrants from the Dominican Republic struggled to gain a foothold. This was followed by the crack epidemic of the 1980s,  and the drug wars. Continue reading

Margaret Beekman Livingston: The Old Lady of Clermont


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Margaret Beekman Livingston "The Old Lady of ClermontThe Columbia County Historical Society Volunteers will host a talk, “The Old Lady of Clermont,” on Tuesday afternoon, February 16, 2016.

This free program, presented by Kjirsten Gustavson will begin at 3 pm at the McNary Center of St Paul’s, 6 Sylvester Street in Kinderhook, NY.

Margaret Beekman Livingston was a key figure in the history of Clermont. The mother of several prominent statesmen and shapers of the American Revolution, Margaret has an interesting story of her own. Continue reading

How Historians Choose Their Research Topics


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ben_franklins_worldHow did average, poor, and enslaved men and women live their day-to-day lives in the early United States?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the answers to that question with Simon P. Newman, a Professor of History at the University of Glasgow and our guide for an investigation into how historians choose their research topics.  You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/066

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Grand Central Terminal Offers History Video Series


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image001(12)Grand Central Terminal, which turns 103 today, has recently produced a new history video series about the iconic building. The series features Grand Central Terminal historian Dan Brucker.

Among the Grand Central treasures Brucker shines a spotlight on, are the world’s largest example of Tiffany glass; the Main Concourse ceiling; the famous Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant; the whispering gallery; and The Campbell Apartment, Grand Central Terminal’s own speakeasy. Continue reading

African American Stage Performer Ella Madison


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African American Actress and Singer, Ella Madison Ella Madison was born in 1854 in Saratoga Springs, New York. Her parents were John and Caroline Robinson. Her sister, Caroline Victoria (usually called Victoria) was married to Solomon Northup‘s son, Alonzo. (Alonzo and his family later moved to Weedsport in Cayuga County). It was reported that Ella, while a teenager, had relocated to New York City, and marched in a parade in 1869 that commemorated the passage of the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed citizenship rights to former slaves. Her mother died that year, while visiting her daughter, Caroline, in Washington County, New York. Continue reading

How Jewels Have Impacted History


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The Historians LogoThis week on “The Historians” podcast, jewelry designer Aja Raden has an account of how jewels have affected the course of history. Raden is author of Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession and How Desire Shapes the World (Harper Collins, 2015). You can listen here.

“The Historians” podcast is also heard each week on RISE, WMHT’s radio information service for the blind and print disabled in New York’s Capital Region and Hudson Valley. The podcast is recorded at Dave Greene’s Eastline Studio. Continue reading

Washington’s Spies: America’s First Spy Ring


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ben_franklins_worldIn this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore espionage during the American Revolution and the origins and operations of the Culper Spy Ring with Alexander Rose, author of Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring (Bantam, 2007) and a historian, writer, and producer for AMC’s television drama TURN. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/065 Continue reading

Peekskill’s Historic Community of St Mary


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SM Chapel West SideReaders may know that the Roman Catholic Church has numerous religious orders of nuns and monks, but may not know that the Protestant Episcopal Church has them as well. Overall, there are 18 Episcopal religious orders and 14 “Christian Communities” comprised of men, women, or both. This is the story of the Community of St Mary (CSM) and the remarkable religious buildings they had constructed at Peekskill, NY from 1872 to 1963. The order was founded by Sister Harriet Starr Cannon, (1823-1896) its Mother Superior, on the Feast of the Purification of Mary on February 2, 1865 in St. Michael’s Church, 86th Street, New York City, about two months before the close of the Civil War.

Accordingly, it is said to be the oldest Episcopal religious community in the US still in existence (now headquartered in Greenwich, Washington County, New York. Sister Harriet was the temporal head of this community of Protestant Episcopal nuns from its founding in 1865, to her death in 1896. Based on a Benedictine model, the CSM adhered to a simple monastic life centered on prayer, reflection, and service. The forms of service practiced by the nuns of the order have varied over the years and places where they chosen to have a presence. At Peekskill for instance, they operated a high school for girls and the manufacture and sale of “Alter Bread” (aka communion wafers) was one of the CSM’s primary means of self-sustainment. Continue reading

3 Important NYS Constitutional Conventions


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1777 New York State ConstitutionThe next referendum to decide whether to hold a New York State Constitutional Convention will be held on November 7, 2017.  During the last two referenda in 1997 and 1977 (they are held every 20 years) voters declined to hold such a convention. In fact the last time a convention to revise the New York State Constitution was held was almost 50 years ago in 1967, and despite the hard work of its delegates, voters rejected the revised Constitution in its entirety.

Although amendments to the New York State Constitution occur with some regularity (including several last November), the last time the Constitution was changed through the Convention process was in 1938, almost eighty years ago.

Nevertheless, the history of Constitutional Conventions in New York State is not as bleak as this recent history would suggest. In fact, three New York State Constitutional Conventions — those of 1777, 1821 and 1938 — helped shape the State’s political history. Continue reading

Thomas Cole Site’s Inaugural Exhibit In “New Studio” Features Architecture


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New Studio oldThe Thomas Cole National Historic Site has announced the inaugural art exhibition in its “New Studio” building at the former home of Thomas Cole (1801-1848), founder of the first distinctly American art movement.

The New Studio, built in 1846, was designed by Cole, and demolished in 1973 before the historic site became a museum. The reconstruction, to be officially unveiled with the opening of the exhibition on May 1, 2016, provides the Site with museum-quality climate-controlled space for displaying art. The upcoming show will be the first to take advantage of that new capacity. Continue reading

Wally Wheeler: Early Dutch Architecture


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Reconstructed Dutch Style Barn at the Mabee Farm in Schenectady CountyThe Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center will continue their Winter Lecture Series with a presentation by Wally Wheeler entitled “Early Dutch Vernacular Architecture in the Upper Hudson Valley.”

Senior Historian for Hartgen Archaeology, President of the Dutch Barn Preservation Society and Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture, Wheeler will focus on the early Dutch and their architecture as a product of their culture and tradition. Continue reading

NY Black History Fail: The Amistad Commission


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Black History FailureIn 2005, during Governor George Pataki’s administration, the New York State Legislature created the Amistad Commission to review the state’s curriculum about the slave trade.

“All people should know of and remember the human carnage and dehumanizing atrocities committed during the period of the African slave trade and slavery in America and consider the vestiges of slavery in this country,” the Amistad Commission website says. “It is vital to educate our citizens on these events, the legacy of slavery, the sad history of racism in this country, and on the principles of human rights and dignity in a civilized society.”

Unfortunately, the Amistad Commission’s effort to update the state’s slavery curriculum has been a failure. Continue reading