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

Erie Canal Funding Challenged In Court


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groundbreakingThe State Canal Corporation has announced the 10th annual “Canal Splash” for August 7 – 15. It is mostly to promote the recreational possibilities of the canal system but some of the events along the canalways will focus on history and culture. “Celebrate the history, culture, recreational appeal, and beauty of the New York State Canal System and Erie Canalway Trail during the 10 days of Canal Splash!” says its website. The celebration is a high point in the ongoing work of promoting the canal. Continue reading

This Week’s Top New York History News


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Latest New York History News

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Comments Sought On Historic Lake Champlain Islands, Facilities


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Bluff_Point_Light_on_Valcour_IslandThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued a Draft Lake Champlain Islands Management Complex Unit Management Plan (Draft UMP) in compliance with the Adirondack State Land Master Plan. The plan includes a number of historic and recreational sites.

Public comments on the plan are being accepted through September 18, 2015. A Public Meeting on the Draft UMP will be held August 20th in Plattsburgh. Continue reading

Walking Tour of Plattsburgh’s Old Base Sunday


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Plattsburgh Old BaseThe Clinton County Historical Association (CCHA) will be partnering with City of Plattsburgh Historian, John Krueger to offer walking tours of Plattsburgh Old Base.

Starting the tour with the 1609 discovery of Lake Champlain, the tour will explore Lake Champlain’s vast military history that led up to the Battle of Plattsburgh, which paved the way for what is known today as the Plattsburgh Barracks/Post or, as to most locals, the Old Base. Once housing the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Old Base is a monument to the city’s military past. Continue reading

America’s Oldest Eastern Cottonwood Cut Down Near Newburgh


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Balmville Tree Newburgh Being Cut DownThe NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has cut down the Balmville Tree, a historic and unusually large Eastern Cottonwood tree that has been growing since before 1699 in Balmville, a hamlet in Town of Newburgh, Orange County. The tree sat at the intersection of River Road, Commonwealth Avenue and Balmville Road at a place commonly known as the Balmville Tree Circle. It was believed to be the oldest eastern cottonwood tree in America.

DEC issued a statement to the press saying the tree was deemed “an immediate threat to passing traffic” by DEC and Newburgh officials, “due to its deteriorated condition and a greatly expanded crack”.  The statement said DEC consulted with a professional arborist who inspected the tree and found it to be an extremely high risk to public safety and recommended removal. Continue reading

For Fear of an Elective King


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Today we address the President of the United States as “Mr. President.” But did you know that the proper title for the office was almost “His Highness the President?”

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon, author of For Fear of an Elective King (Cornell University Press, 2014), leads us on an exploration of the presidential title controversy of 1789, the first controversy to wrack the United States Congress. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/040

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Historic House Demolition Spurs Film Project


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IMG_9264(1)Blink and another house is bulldozed. Most don’t even notice, so I’d like to tell you the story of what happened in my backyard. Unfortunately, it does not have a happy ending.

In Rosalie Fellows Bailey’s Pre-Revolutionary Dutch Houses and Families in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York, the Lent House (built in 1752) is linked to Abraham de Ryck, one of the earliest settlers in New Amsterdam. The house was built by or for Abraham Lent, who served as Colonel of the First Regiment of Militia of Fort Orangetown during the American Revolution. Continue reading

Prison History Lectures Planned For Adirondacks


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moriah-prison-600x381The freedom education and human rights project John Brown Lives! (JBL!) is sponsoring a series of summertime lectures by prison historian C. Jefferson Hall on the historical backdrop, the role of nature, and some of the broader implications of the June 2015 escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat from Dannemora’s Clinton Correctional Facility.

Hall’s talks are part of The Correction, JBL!’s ongoing series of programs and events designed to engage North Country communities in conversation about the impacts of mass incarceration and the need to re-imagine the criminal justice system and local economies. Continue reading

New Leadership for Rensselaer County Historical Society


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Karin Krasevac Lenz 2015The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has announced the appointment of Karin Krasevac-Lenz as its new executive director.

Krasevac-Lenz brings more than 30 years of experience in not-for-profit development, strategic planning, creative community engagement, constituent relations, agency communications and other areas to her role at RCHS according to an announcement sent to the press. Continue reading

Ella Lynch: Learning How to Learn


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2aEFLynch1925Ella Frances Lynch – well spoken, thoughtful, and passionate in defining the problems with America’s public school system – refused to back down from proposed reforms. She was right and she knew it. Newspapers featured Ella’s editorials regularly, but the biggest attention-getter was a series of articles she wrote for Ladies Home Journal beginning in 1912. The title: “Is the Public School a Failure? It Is; the Most Momentous Failure in Our American life Today.”

Said Lynch, “Can you imagine a more grossly stupid, a more genuinely asinine system tenaciously persisted in to the fearful detriment of over 17 million children, and at a cost to you of over $403 million each year—a system that not only is absolutely ineffective in its results, but also actually harmful in that it throws each year 93 out of every 100 children into the world of action absolutely unfitted for even the simplest tasks of life? … The public school system is not something to be proud of, but a system that is today the shame of America.” Continue reading

17th Century Cannon Returned To New York


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Cape Vincent Cannon display 2A cannon dating to the mid 1600s, which had been salvaged from the St. Lawrence River at the head of Carleton Island in the Town of Cape Vincent decades ago, has been returned to New York.

Plans are in the works for a long term loan to allow for the cannon’s display at the Village of Cape Vincent’s East End Park on the shores overlooking Carleton Island, where so much of the cannon’s history played itself out. Continue reading