HDC Responds To NYC Historic Preservation Study


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REBNYThe Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is at it again! To welcome newly appointed New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivan on her first day, the trade association and lobbying group released yet another study claiming that landmark designation inhibits the development of affordable housing and is at odds with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration’s goals of preserving and creating 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years.

REBNY’s complaints are nothing new, they are based on the group’s long-held and often-repeated premise that building on a landmarked site is so expensive and arduous that no one would ever want to do it. Continue reading

Study: Fort Ticonderoga Generates $8.9M Impact


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Heilman 4Fort Ticonderoga has announced today the findings of a report that concludes the Fort generates $8.9 million annually in state and local economic impact.  The total includes visitor spending from tourists; spending by the Fort Ticonderoga Association in its daily operations; the indirect and induced impacts created by labor income as it flows into the regional economy; and tax revenue generated by that spending.

In 2013 the Fort Ticonderoga Association of Ticonderoga, NY commissioned Magellan Strategy Group to perform the study which utilized data provided by guests visiting Fort Ticonderoga in 2013 and IMPLAN software. According to a statement issued to the press “The study employed a conservative approach to measuring guest spending that evaluated only those expenditures that occurred as a result of visiting Fort Ticonderoga.” Continue reading

Hudson Valley Heritage Area Awards Grants


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hudson river valley heritage areaThe Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and the Hudson River Valley Greenway highlighted five National Heritage Area Heritage Development Grants awarded to historic and cultural institutions in the Mid-Hudson Valley last week.

The National Park Service calls the Hudson River Valley “the landscape that defined America.” These small National Heritage Area Heritage Development Grants are expected to support a wide range of historic and cultural projects, including installations, demonstrations, and public outreach and education projects that will connect more people with the rich tapestry of heritage and cultural experiences in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Continue reading

Sailor Jack Allen: World Taveler, Philosopher, Killer


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Sailor Jack AllenIt was in October of 1887 that itinerant laborer Abel John Allen was arrested for the brutal murder of Ursula Ulrich in Jeffersonville, NY.  Nine months later he became the last man ever hanged in Sullivan County.

His murder of the widow Ulrich notwithstanding, the man known as Sailor Jack was a complicated fellow who packed a lot of living into his 34 years. He spent his time in the Sullivan County jail – awaiting first his trial and then his execution – writing about forgiveness, redemption, and having a “right heart.” Those writings reveal a world traveler, an astute observer of the passing parade, a philosopher. Continue reading

Long Island Traditions Annual Freeport Bay House Tours


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Beers Bay HouseOn Saturday August 16 and September 13, Long Island Traditions will sponsor its annual bay house tours in Freeport, NY. The tour will include conversations with local bay house owners and will be hosted by folklorist Nancy Solomon, director of LI Traditions. The trip will visit area bay houses on the 1½ hour tour on a traditional flat bottom boat.

The bay houses have a long history, dating from the mid-19th century when baymen harvested salt hay for the farmers during the winter. The bay houses provided shelter, along with storage for fishermen’s traps and duck decoys. The bay houses were originally built by fishermen and baymen and have been passed down from generation to generation within many families. In the Town of Hempstead two of the approximately 20 bay houses that either survived Superstorm Sandy or have been rebuilt during 2013-14 will be featured on this year’s annual tour. Continue reading

Solomon Northup Day Planned For Saturday, July 19th


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Solomon Northup in a Sketch from Twelve Years a SlaveThe 16th annual Solomon Northup Day, an afternoon of activities inspired by a powerful memoir of enslavement and eventual freedom, will take place on Saturday, July 19, from 12:30 to 6 pm in Filene Recital Hall at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.

The story of Solomon Northup, an African-American man abducted into slavery in 1841 and transported to Louisiana, is now known internationally thanks to the acclaimed 2013 film based on Northup’s autobiography, Twelve Years a Slave. But a grassroots effort to raise awareness of this compelling story has been going on for the past 15 years, in particular through Solomon Northup Day, an annual event launched in 1999 by Saratoga Springs resident and Skidmore College alumna Renee Moore. Continue reading

Theatre: The Unsung Song of Ethel Rosenberg


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Ari Butler, Adrienne Moore, Tracy Michaelidis. Ethel Sings.Cold warriors of the 1950s achieved one of their most macabre victories by frying Ethel Rosenberg in the electric chair, not for sharing atomic secrets, but simply as leverage to coerce her husband Julius to reveal sources.

Joan Beber’s play, “Ethel Rosenberg Sings: The Unsung Song of Ethel Rosenberg” at the Beckett Theatre until July 13th probes gender politics and personal story. This lively and intelligent exploration doesn’t flinch at setting Ethel’s story to music, since as a smart Jewish girl from the Lower East side bursting to escape the confines of immigrant horizons Ethel (Tracy Michaelidis) saw herself on stage “hitting a high C.” Undercover Productions and Perry Street Theatricals give this rendition of “straight from the spy files” of history an imaginative twist by framing it with prison politics and interracial casting that bounces the themes in an echo chamber of past and present. Continue reading

Civil War Weekend Planned For Robert Moses State Park


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2nd Michigan on the fieldThe St. Lawrence County Historical Association will hold its annual Civil War Reenactment Weekend at Robert Moses State Park in Massena Saturday and Sunday July 26-27. The Civil War Reenactment Weekend is part of the SLCHA’s Commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which began in 1861.

Union and Confederate reenactors will stage mock battles, perform military drills, talk about camp life, and demonstrate such skills as coffin-making, cooking, cannon firing, and medical practices. There will be a fashion show of Civil War-era clothing, a basket auction, historical displays and period music. Continue reading

Lawrence Gooley: Advice for Aspiring History Authors


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RegionalBookImageNYHMany self-publishers offer plenty of encouragement to both capable and less-than-capable writers, and for good reason. Their business plan is not unlike the NYS Lottery’s “Hey, you never know” program: highly successful by playing your emotions against overwhelming odds. I’m not saying the lottery isn’t fun, but here’s a heads-up: they do know. Both the lottery people and publishers know that nearly everyone who pays into their systems will receive no return other than a few anxious moments.

To begin with, e-book publishers would rather we didn’t know that the great majority of e-titles sell only a few copies—usually to the writer’s family and friends. Several years ago, self-publisher Lulu’s average book sold 1.8 copies. Obviously, sales statistics provided by such companies are skewed by the occasional breakout title that sells hundreds or maybe thousands of copies. Most of them don’t. Continue reading

Fort Ticonderoga Specialty Tours Offered This Summer


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImmerse yourself in the epic history and incredible natural beauty at Fort Ticonderoga with richly informative and entertaining guided specialty tours this summer. Thrill at the power of artillery during Guns by Night tour; discover the History Within the Walls in the 1826 Historic Pavilion house tour; walk in the steps of great generals during the Armchair General tour; and discover the legends of the past while taking part in the Garrison Ghost Tour. All prices are in addition to Fort Ticonderoga admission and advanced purchase is required. Space is limited for tours. To learn more about our specialty tours visit www.fortticonderoga.org or call 518-585-2821. Continue reading

Remembering Ancestors:
Evolution of American Cemeteries


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DSCF0002We remember loved ones. We remember those about whom we care and who are now departed. We remember our ancestors for one, two, and maybe three generations if we are lucky enough to have known them. Beyond that memory becomes difficult, figures become blurred, and people are forgotten.

We do not simply dispose of the body when death occurs, we perform a ritual. Whether or not the ritual aids the one who has died is beyond the scope of this post; the ritual certainly is intended to aid the living to continue their journey in this life. Continue reading

Oneida Nation Dancers At Iroquois Indian Museum


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Oneida DancerThe Iroquois Indian Museum will have a Social Dance Saturday on July 12 at the Museum featuring Onota’a:ka (Oneida Nation Dancers), based in the central New York Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) community of Oneida.

Founded by Elder and Wolf Clan Mother Maisie Shenandoah for the purpose of cultural education, the troupe’s original purpose continues to be carried forth by daughter Vicki, granddaughter Tawn:tene (Cindy Schenandoah Stanford) and an extended family with common goals.  Continue reading

Knox’s Headquarters To Celebrate General’s Birthday


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New Windsor Cantonment StaffGeneral Washington knew exactly what he was about, in the summer of 1781, by trying to convince the British and his own soldiers that he would attack New York City. Unbeknownst to all but trusted officials, he had agreed to move with the French Army south to Virginia.

In Virginia, a French naval force from the Caribbean would join them to complete the encirclement of the British Army at Yorktown. The soldiers of the 2nd and 3rd Continental Artillery Regiments, encamped at New Windsor, NY since the previous November, spent their time assembling and training on heavy siege artillery. Without the heavy guns to batter down the fortifications of British General Cornwallis’ Army at Yorktown, the decisive victory achieved there would not have been possible. Continue reading

West Kill Creek: History Meets Post-Apocalyptic Fiction


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wkcfrontcoverWest Kill Creek by Shawn Purcell (Troy Book Makers, 2014) is a contemplative work of post-apocalyptic fiction set in upstate New York and shot-through with local history.

A particularly lethal virus has rapidly wiped out most of civilization. A hardy band of survivors does what it takes to stay alive, but the novel also reverberates with the echoes of local history and deep time, the beauty and terror of nature, the power and glory of books, current environmental and political issues, and actual events and places. 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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Cornelius Hardenbergh: Sullivan County’s First Hanging


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AHstone house[1]On the afternoon of July 14, 1842, Sheriff Felix Kelly fastened a noose around the neck of Cornelius Hardenbergh, and a few seconds later Hardenbergh, a member of what had once been the region’s most prominent family, entered the history books as the first man ever hanged in Sullivan County.

Hardenbergh’s execution was the first of five in the county over the years– four have taken place during the month of July– and the events leading up to his hanging make fascinating reading.

Hardenbergh had been convicted of murdering Anthony Hasbrouck, his relative by marriage, and one of the county’s wealthiest and most powerful men. The case remains, more than 170 years later, among the strangest in county history.  Continue reading

Steam Automobiles To Visit Copake Iron Works


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Steam carSteam meets iron when the Lakeville (CT) Steam Automobile Association stops for lunch at the Copake Iron Works on July 9th at noon during the club’s week long tour of the Berkshires and Hudson Valley.

Approximately 30 antique steam automobiles dating from 1900 to 1920 will be on display beginning approximately at noon (hard to say with old cars!).  Stanley Steamers, manufactured in Newton, Massachusetts, are the stalwarts, but White Steamers from Cleveland, Ohio will steam in too! Continue reading

NY Maritime History: An Historic Battle with Pirates


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BHC1109On the morning of June 10, 1723, just before the break of dawn, a British warship stationed out of New York spotted two sloops sailing less than 50 miles south of Long Island. The captain of the warship, Peter Solgard, was all but certain the sloops were trouble. Three days before, he had been warned by a sea captain about a pirate crew under the command of a notoriously violent captain, Edward Low. But in the HMS Greyhound that morning, Solgard did not attack. Instead, Solgard tacked and set a southerly course, keeping the pirates in view but not approaching, “to encourage them to give him chase.” Continue reading