This Week’s Top New York History News


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Latest New York History News

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North Country Teacher Taught Southern Freedmen


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coitphoto2Back-to-school time perhaps brings back, for adults, the memory of a favorite teacher. But of those who are so warmly remembered, how many can elicit this wish by a former student of a 19th century teacher?

“If I could be permitted, how gladly would I again fill up the wood-box in your room and kindle the fire on your hearth…”

Those words came from the prestigious African American preacher, Rev. Daniel Webster Shaw (who, interestingly, was the son of a former slave, Harriet Shaw, with whom Solomon Northup was acquainted in Louisiana). “If I have done anything, or come to anything worth while, it is all mainly due to your timely helpfulness and godly admonition,” Shaw wrote. “I think of the school days on the Tache [Teche, a bayou in Louisiana], and all the kind ways in which you helped me to start out in life.” Continue reading

Staatsburgh State Historic Site Launches Blog


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Statsburgh SHSStaatsburgh State Historic Site has launched a blog about the mansion and estate, the Mills Family, their guests and staff, the site’s collections, and the Gilded Age.

“A tour of the house just scratches the surface of the rich history, the many personalities and fascinating events that occurred here,” says site manager Pam Malcolm. “Through the blog we can offer those interested in the site and the Gilded Age a closer look at the Mills Family and other members of New York’s turn-of-the-century elite society, Gilded Age life, and the work done behind the scenes by historians and conservators to preserve this history at Staatsburgh. We hope everyone will visit www.staatsburghstatehistoricsite.blogspot.com to take a look. We welcome suggestions from interested readers for future research and blog posts.” Continue reading

Upper Hudson Beer Book Launch, Beer Tasting


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9781626195127On Thursday, September 11th from 6 pm to 8 pm, the Albany Institute of History & Art will host a special launch of Craig Gravina and Alan McLeod’s new book Upper Hudson Valley Beer. Author Craig Gravina will give a presentation about the book and Remarkable Liquids, the area’s only craft-focused beer distributor, will be on hand to provide samples of some of the best beer made in our region.

Attendees will savor learning about the Upper Hudson Valley’s long and full-bodied brewing tradition and the opportunity to connect its past with its present. Continue reading

John Wolcott: Pinpointing Fort Nassau 1614


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dutchalbanymapFort Nassau: the first Dutch trading house built in North America, was constructed on Castle (Westerlo) Island on the Upper Hudson where Albany is. It was but a small redoubt, yet deemed the acorn from which sprouted the American Middle States. This trading post lasted only three years and was badly damaged by a spring freshet and abandoned. Eventually even its ruins were silted over and forgotten.

In 1796, Albany contemplated a plan to acquire patents for water lots and extend South End streets opposite the north end of Castle Island, out into the Hudson River. It was similar, on a smaller scale, to the way Manhattan expanded out into the Hudson and East Rivers. In the course of finally implementing this in the 1840s, dredging was found necessary to adjust the upper end of Castle Island and Island Creek to accommodate the plan. Continue reading

Nominations For Endangered Long Island List Sought


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First_National_Bank_and_Trust_CompanyHistoric properties spanning the length of Long Island are regularly threatened by a variety of complex issues that all point to a need for their greater appreciation and protection.

The Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA) launched its inaugural List of Endangered Historic Places in 2010 to broadly educate the public about the region’s wide range of historic environments and provide support and greater visibility to local efforts working to save at-risk resources. Continue reading

Revolutionary War Traitors, Spies, Focus of Fishkill Event


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Major John Andre“Traitors & Spies: An American Revolutionary War Experience” is the theme of a Sunday, September 14th educational program sponsored by the Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot at the Hyatt House in Fishkill from 2 until 4 pm. “This community program,” explained Lance Ashworth the Friends’ president, “will support our mission to keep the history of the American Revolutionary War alive in the Hudson Valley and to bring the heritage of the Fishkill Supply Depot to more and more people.”

Speakers include Stephen Case, author of Treacherous Beauty: Peggy Shippen, the Woman behind Benedict Arnold’s Plot to Betray America; Damien Cregeau, an independent historian, who will discuss spying in and around New York City during the war; and Rachel Smith from the State Historian’s office at the University of Connecticut who will shed light on Nathan Hale’s legacy. Moderator for the program is Dr. Colonel James M. Johnson from Marist College. Continue reading

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

Subscribe! More than 7,500 people follow The New York History Blog via E-mail, RSS, or Twitter or Facebook updates.

Make a Contribution! The New York History Blog is supported by you. If you think this site provides a valuable service, please become a recurring contributor – or just make a one-time contribution at our Rally.org page. Questions about contributions should be directed to editor John Warren.

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