Category Archives: History

New York History

Erie Canal History Talk At Schoharie Crossing


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Lockport erie canalFrank Taormina, retired social studies teacher and lecturer at Union College will be giving a talk on the history of the Erie Canal. The contemporary Erie Canal has been much in the news lately. The Erie Canal played a significant role in the history of New York and the nation and helped make the “Empire State”.

The original Erie Canal ran about 363 miles from Albany to Buffalo (the Hudson River to Lake Erie) creating a water route from New York City and the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The canal helped the City of New York eclipse Philadelphia as North America’s largest city and port. Continue reading

The Dannemora Prison Break of 1928


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dannemora prison before 1930sOn July 29, 1928, Herbert R. Mackie, an inmate at what was then known as Clinton Prison (today called the Clinton Correctional Facility) in Dannemora was being escorted to a practice session for the prison’s band. He told an officer that he had forgotten something, and asked for permission to return to his cell. He was not seen again by prison staff for six weeks.

He was not at liberty during most of that time, however. He was still within the facility, busily digging a tunnel that would be a key part in what seems to have been a carefully planned plot for Mackie to escape the prison with fellow inmate Otto Sanford. Continue reading

A History of the Republican Party


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ben_franklins_worldThe United States has entered presidential primary season, which means it won’t be long before a Republican presidential candidate or a reporter mentions the birth of the ‘Grand Old Party’ in 1854 and its association with Abraham Lincoln.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore the history of the Republican Party with Heather Cox Richardson, Professor of History at Boston College and author of To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party (Basic Books, 2014). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/042

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The Mystery of William Johnson’s ‘Fish House’


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47One of the real pleasures in researching and writing When Men and Mountain Meet was exploring the actual sites of the historic places mentioned in my book: the little town of Castorland on the Black River, the LeRay Mansion at Fort Drum, Gouverneur Morris’ Mansion at Natural Dam and David Parish’s house, now the Remington Art Museum, in Ogdensburg. And then there was finding Zephaniah Platt’s grave in the Riverside Cemetery in Plattsburgh, in Lake Placid the site of the 1813 Elba Iron and Steel Manufacturing works , Charles Herreshoff’s flooded iron ore mine in Old Forge and the complex of building foundations that made up John Thurman’s 1790 development at Elm Hill.

There was one site, however, that was a little harder to locate than the others; Sir William Johnson’s fishing camp “Fish House”. Continue reading

Utica Children’s Museum Names New Director


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unnamed(1)The Utica Children’s Museum has announced Elizabeth Slocum Brando has been appointed as their new Executive Director. Brando has more than 16 years experience in cultural institutions of varied sizes an announcement to the press said.

“We are delighted to have selected someone of Brando’s caliber to advance the Museum’s impact and presence in the community as a leading resource for hands-on play and learning,” said Celia Domser, Chair of the Board of Directors. “Elizabeth’s education, experience in the
field, fundraising successes, and business experience made her the perfect candidate.” Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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This Week’s Top New York History News


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Colonial Medicine: A Case Study


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sickbedWe learn much about diseases in the 18th century and the way they were treated by looking at a well-documented case history.

The soldier and statesman described here lived a long life but had to endure many serious medical issues. While he was an ‘out-of-stater’, he was in New York for many years during the Revolutionary War and through the first critical years of the founding of a new government. Continue reading

Canada and the American Revolution


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ben_franklins_worldDid Canada almost join the American Revolution?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we discuss Canada and how the American Revolution played out there with Bruno Paul Stenson, an historian and musicologist with the Château de Ramezay historic site in Montréal. Château de Ramezay served as the headquarters for the American forces between 1775 and 1776. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/041

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Early Years Of Steamboating On The Hudson


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800px-Robert_R_Livingston,_attributed_to_Gilbert_Stuart_(1755-1828)In 1798, Robert R. Livingston, Jr. (1746-1813) requested and obtained a monopoly from the New York State Legislature granting him the exclusive right to operate passenger steamboats on the Hudson River.

The Livingston family was very wealthy and owned the large estate, Clermont, just south of Albany. They ran an iron foundry and machine shop for many years where they had installed a steam engine to power the equipment. Continue reading

New Chair For Historic Districts Council


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unnamedThe Historic Districts Council, an advocate for New York City’s historic neighborhoods representing a constituency of over 500 local community organizations, has named Daniel J. Allen, Board President.

“Mr. Allen has been a valued member of the HDC board for several years. His knowledge and experience as both a professional and community preservationist make him an ideal candidate and we are very happy to welcome him into this new position,” Simeon Bankoff, HDC’s Executive Director said in a statement to the press. Continue reading