Category Archives: History

New York History

How Audubon Park Disrupted Manhattan’s Grid


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Audubon Park from NW-Feb 1899The distinctive footprint that disrupts Manhattan’s grid west of Broadway between 155th and 158th Streets – the Audubon Park Historic District – did not come about by accident or from the demands of local topography. It unfolded from careful planning and alliances among like-minded property owners, whose social and political connections ensured that when progress swept up Manhattan’s west side, they would benefit.

As a result, Riverside Drive splits at 155th Street where its 1911 branch snakes across the grid to 158th Street while its 1928 branch pushes straight up the river. At the same time, Edward M. Morgan Place – a one-block remnant of the earlier Boulevard Lafayette – slices across Audubon Park’s eastern side, severing a corner from what was once a geographically unified suburban enclave. Continue reading

A Salute To Teachers


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RoyceFrom 1812 – when the New York state legislature authorized the formation of common schools to provide basic educational needs to a community’s students – through the early part of the 20th century, one room school houses made up the greatest part of the education system in Sullivan County.

In 1870, when the county had a population of 34,557, of which 13,635 were of school age, there were 198 school districts here. Those 198 districts employed 196 teachers, handling an average daily attendance of 4091 students. Most of those teachers were women. By 1939, there were 98 school districts in the county, and most had grown beyond the one room school-house. Still, women made up a significant part of the workforce needed to keep these districts running efficiently. Continue reading

Deborah Read Franklin And Sally Franklin Bache


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ben_franklins_worldHave you heard the saying “behind every great man stands a great woman?”

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Vivian Bruce Conger, the Robert Ryan Professor in the Humanities at Ithaca College, joins us to explore the two great women that Benjamin Franklin had standing behind and beside him: his wife, Deborah Read Franklin, and his daughter, Sally Franklin Bache. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/022

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Podcast Features New York Genealogy


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forget-me-not-hourToday on The Forget-Me-Not Hour: Your Ancestors Want Their Stories to Be Told radio show, I welcome the presenters of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society-sponsored New York Track at the National Genealogical Society’s 2015 family history conference in St. Charles, Missouri.

The radio show airs at 3:30 pm. Eastern time on Wednesday, April 1st and can be listened to on-demand any time afterward. Continue reading

Watertown’s Wizard of Show-Business (Conclusion)


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NYH3A CGiblynSelzPosterIn 1920, Charles Giblyn produced his first film for William Fox. (If the name sounds familiar, William founded Fox Film Corporation in 1915, the forerunner of today’s Fox TV and movie units.) The film, Tiger’s Cub, allowed Giblyn a homecoming of sorts. With his lead actress, Pearl White, who reportedly had the widest following of any star worldwide at the time, he came north for filming in Port Henry, about an hour south of Plattsburgh, where he once lived.

After producing a few more movies, Charles was sent to the West Coast on behalf of Fox, where he continued working. For a brief period, he assumed leadership of the Motion Picture Directors Association, but when Fox reassigned him to more movie projects back East, he surrendered the top spot with the MPDA and headed for New York. Continue reading

The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Bicentennial


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Elizabeth Cady Stanton circa 1880It’s not too early to start planning for New York State History Month in November. One of the themes that the state’s history community might consider this year is reform in New York State. There are few better examples of a New York reform leader than Elizabeth Cady Stanton and November 15 is the bicentennial of her birth.

She was born Elizabeth Cady in Johnstown on November 15, 1815. She observed how the law treated women as subordinate to men through observing the work of her father, an attorney and judge. She derived a hatred of slavery and confidence in political change from her cousin, Gerrit Smith, who lived in nearby Peterboro. She married a leading abolitionist, Henry Stanton, in 1840, but Elizabeth Cady Stanton was always independent, opinionated, determined, sometimes headstrong, never resting. Continue reading

Underground RR Historian Don Papson On ‘The Historians’


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features Don Papson of Plattsburgh, one of the founders of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum. Papson and Tom Colarco are co-authors of Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City: Sydney Howard Gay, Louis Napoleon and the Record of Fugitives(McFarland, 2015). Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
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This Week’s Top New York History News


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John C. Fremont: Rockland County’s Forgotten Hero


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John_Charles_FrémontIn a cemetery overlooking the Hudson River just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge, lies John C. Fremont, who’s contribution to the end of slavery and the Union victory in the Civil War was tremendous, though he is little-remembered today.

Most generally associate Fremont with the State of California. He is the namesake of Fremont, California, and in 1846 was court-martialed for leading a revolt of American settlers there against the Mexican government. He lived most of the latter part of his life in New York State however, in New York City, and Westchester and Rockland counties. He also played a critical role in shifting the focus of Abraham Lincoln’s efforts in the Civil War from a sectional constitutional conflict to a crusade to abolish slavery. Continue reading

The Hamilton Musical and America’s Future (Part II)


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Hamilton MusicalLast week, I described what I think is a significant perilous trend facing history and the American culture through the process of hypehnization. I argued that identity in a society nominally based on We the People and e pluribus unum was being replaced by one where people self-identify as hyphenated Americans, with  corresponding history classes and museums to reflect these differences.

Diversity resonates in New York history. Take William Johnson, the the British royal agent in the 18th century, and an Irishman. His European world consisted of Dutch, French, English, and German (Palatines), all of whom were distinct from each other, as demonstrated for example, by the French and Indian War. Continue reading

Colonial America Conference for Educators Set


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DCIM100MEDIAFort Ticonderoga will host the Seventh Annual Colonial America Conference for Educators on Friday, May 15, 2015, in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. This day-long conference, while intended for educators, is open to anyone with an interest in helping connect students with history.

The conference focuses on the period 1609-1783 and features presentations by classroom teachers, museum educators, and archivists. The conference precedes Fort Ticonderoga’s Twentieth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War, a weekend-long seminar focused on the French & Indian War (1754-1763). Continue reading

5 Women Who Changed The Face Of New York City


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Yolanda GarciaIn honor of Women’s History Month, the Historic Districts Council remembers five extraordinary women who changed the face of New York City:

Yolanda Garcia (1952- 2005), founded Nos Quedamos/We Stay in the early 1990s to preserve her neighborhood of Melrose Commons in the Bronx. In 1992 neighborhood residents discovered that the City was planning to evict them to realize an urban renewal plan. Incensed by the idea that their reward for enduring years of abandonment, arson and crime would be eviction, they confronted officials and sparked a productive dialogue about preservation and planning in the Bronx that continues today. Their efforts have become a model for community-based planning. Continue reading

Watertown’s Wizard of Show-Business (Part 2)


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NYH2A CGiblynBy 1911, Charles Giblyn, now 40, had been acting for more than 20 years and receiving many great reviews for his theater work. That he often stood out was reflected in comments like the following, taken from the pages of the Los Angeles Herald: “Not Yet, But Soon, currently at the Grand Opera House, has just one thing to commend it to theater-goers. This is the acting of Charles Giblyn as a dope fiend. Apart from Mr. Giblyn’s work, the piece is silly, stupid, and boresome.”

He had also managed several stock companies, and in recent years had directed many stage plays and vaudeville shows at LA’s Belasco and other theaters. The experience would serve him well as he plunged headfirst into a new show-business medium: the world of movies. Continue reading

Talk Planned On Staatsburg Estate Owners


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Staatsburg BookAnthony Musso, author of Staatsburg: A Village Lost in Time (2014), will give a talk entitled “Staatsburg: Its Estate Owners and Their Impact on the Village” at Staatsburgh State Historic Site on April 11, 2015.

The tiny community of Staatsburg was once the home of several large estates.  As Musso writes in his book on Staatsburg, each of the estates “had an impact on the character, finances and preservation of the village and its surroundings.”  Continue reading

The Albany-Montréal Fur Trade, 1700-1754


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ben_franklins_worldThe smuggling trade between Albany and Montréal presented a large problem for the imperial governments of Great Britain and France between 1700 and 1754.

In this episode of the “Ben Franklin’s World” podcast, Dr. Eugene Tesdahl, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, joins us to discuss the infamous Albany-Montréal Trade and the business of smuggling in colonial North America. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/021

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Mid-Atlantic Assoc of Museums Call For Proposals


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MAAM_logoboxThe Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM) has issued a call for proposals for its annual meeting planned for Philadelphia this October. The meeting theme is Building Communities: Embracing Diversity in All We Do.

MAAM represents museum professionals, organizations, institutions and museum service providers. The MAAM annual meeting is an important gathering of museum stakeholders and provides an opportunity to share and exchange ideas. Continue reading

Votes For Women: A Call For Artifacts, Stories


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Votes For Women call for artifactsThe New York State Museum in Albany has issued a call for artifacts, images and stories for its upcoming exhibit “Votes for Women Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial”, planned for the Fall of 2017.

November 2017 will mark the centennial of women winning the right to vote in New York State. Women in the state played a pivotal role in the struggle for women’s suffrage and equal rights beginning in 1848 with the Seneca Falls Convention through the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 and beyond. Continue reading

Schuyler Mansion Lecture Series Begins Saturday


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Schuyler Mansion  2014This Saturday, March 28, 2015, Schuyler Mansion will host “Fabric For Furniture: Historic Choices,” presented by Elizabeth Lahikainen as first of the site’s 2015 spring lecture series focusing on 18th-century interior decoration, Schuyler Splendor: The Making of an 18th Century Home of Good Taste. 

Elizabeth Lahikainen, an internationally recognized textile conservator specializing in historic upholstery, will discuss 18th century design trends, fabrics appropriate for different chair styles, and what is available in today’s market. Utilizing fabrics of unusual weave and motifs, she will demonstrate combinations using chairs from Schuyler Mansion’s collection. Continue reading