USS Slater has opened to the public for the ship’s 18th season in Albany. A National Historic Landmark, the Slater is the only remaining World War II Destroyer Escort afloat in America.
Destroyer Escorts originally were conceived to battle Nazi U-Boats while escorting convoys across the Atlantic. However, their versatility proved useful in the Pacific defending task forces from Kamikaze attacks. Many Destroyer Escorts continued to serve during the Korean and Viet Nam Wars. The current US Navy Fleet’s frigates are descendants of these small ships. Continue reading
In the years between 1807 and 1971, the Hudson River was alive with boat traffic. The great Hudson River Day Liners were perhaps the best known of all the vessels – famous for their elegance and speed. New Yorkers and visitors alike experienced the river and magnificent landscapes from their decks and plush salons.
Now, a New York City nonprofit is planning to restore the S.S. Columbia, believed to be America’s oldest surviving excursion steamship, for service on the Hudson River between New York City and Albany, with stops at Bear Mountain State Park, Poughkeepsie, Kingston, and Hudson. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features Heidi Hill of Schuyler Mansion and Albany attorney Richard Bader on Alexander Hamilton’s connections to the Schuylers. Elizabeth Schuyler married Hamilton at her parents’ home in 1780. And Hamilton wrote some of the Federalist Papers in Albany. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
The 44th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial Archaeology will be held at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Albany May 28th through May 30th, 2015.
Established as a Dutch fur trading post in 1614, and chartered in 1688, Albany is the oldest continuously chartered city in the county and capital of New York State since 1879. Transportation – river navigation, canals, railroads and highways – has always been one of its defining characteristics. Continue reading
The 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
This 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
Citing financial hardships, the Board of Directors of the New Netherlands Museum is moving the Half Moon replica ship to the City of Hoorn, The Netherlands. On Saturday night the Half Moon arrived in New London, Connecticut in preparation for it’s departure.
A petition to Dr. Andrew Hendricks, Founder and Chairman of the New Netherland Museum has been established, but has drawn little support, garnering less than 600 signatures. The ship leaves New York with nary a word from the state’s history community or its leaders. Continue reading
The indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on federal corruption charges is the latest manifestation of corruption in the New York State legislature. Since 2000, about 25 state lawmakers have left office because of criminal or ethical issues. U. S. Attorney Preet Bhahara, who brought the charges against Silver, says the legislature is a “cauldron of corruption.” Governor Andrew Cuomo established a controversial, short-lived Moreland Commission to deal with corruption and has inserted an ethics package in his proposed budget to force the legislative reform.
Bhahara’s sweeping characterization of the legislature is exaggerated. Over the years, the New York’s legislature has been one of the most important in the nation, usually keeping our state at the forefront of minority rights, social reform, and progressive policies. Throughout history, though, there have always been a few corrupt legislators who violate the laws and public trust. But legislative wrongdoing is probably no worse today than it was many times in our history. Continue reading
In a book titled Aristocrats of Color: The Black Elite, 1880-1902, author Willard B. Gatewood includes a few sentences about Albany, NY’s Home Social Club. According to Gatewood, it “represented the pinnacle of the city’s black social structure.”
Portraying the club as an aristocratic, elitist organization seems unfair, based on my research. Yes, the club’s membership included some black professionals over the years, but among its long-term adherents were waiters, barbers, and railroad porters. Continue reading
Opening day comes early to the Capital Region as the Albany Institute of History & Art presents Triple Play! Baseball at the Albany Institute, three exhibitions celebrating the history of baseball.
The exhibits include nationally and regionally significant materials, such as photographs, signed bats and balls, stadium seats, trophies, pennants, jerseys, and more. In addition, there is a roster of related events with guest speakers, family activity days, creative contests, and free admission opportunities. Continue reading
Often celebrated as a masterpiece of civic architecture and decorative design, the New York State Capitol sits majestically at the head of Albany’s State Street. The story behind the most expensive capitol building ever to be constructed is a fascinating one.
Built between 1867 and 1899, the Capitol was the work of four different architects, who each worked under exasperating conditions – geological, structural, and political – with hundreds of highly skilled masons and exceptional stone carvers. After completion, the building attracted controversy – seen by some as an atrocity of jumbled architecture and by others as a successful blending of architectural forms. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features an interview with Richard Norton Smith who has spent 14 years writing On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller (Random House, 2014).
Rockefeller was Republican governor of New York State from 1959 to 1973, vice president of the United States from 1974 to 1977, and part of one of America’s most wealthy and influential families. In this interview Smith discusses Rockefeller’s role in destruction of Albany neighborhoods and creation of the Empire State Plaza. He describes Rockefeller’s service as an adviser to three Presidents (two Democrats), his expansion of the state university, his dyslexia, his love of modern art, his failed Presidential bids, the Attica prison uprising and the cover-up surrounding Rockefeller’s death while alone with a female intern. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
This is not a story about Diamond Jim Brady (1856‒1917), who, during America’s Gilded Age, was a flamboyant, legendary businessman and philanthropist with an appetite for diamonds and other jewels. It is instead about Big Jim Brady, who, during America’s Gilded Age, was known for his own type of philanthropy, had an affinity for jewels, and was a legendary figure – as the handsomest and coolest of crooks. Continue reading
Twelfth Night was one of the traditional holidays celebrated by the Dutch and English colonists of early New York. Twelfth Night was the final holiday of the season and was marked with unsurpassed feasting and revelry.
On Saturday January 10, 2015 Crailo State Historic Site in Rensselaer, NY, will welcome visitors for its annual Twelfth Night Celebration from 4 until 7 pm. Continue reading
The New York State Museum has opened a new exhibition featuring contemporary Native American artwork. “Represent: Contemporary Native American Art” features twenty-one artworks created by eighteen artists from Native American Nations in New York State.
On display through September 20, 2015, the exhibition features a variety of contemporary Native American artwork. From baskets and beadwork to modern art, the artwork celebrates the traditional roots of Native American artistry through modern expression. Continue reading
The Board of Directors of the New Netherland Museum has announced that the Half Moon, a replica of the ship sailed by Henry Hudson in 1609, will leave New York State for a new home port in the City of Hoorn, The Netherlands in 2015.
The City Council of Hoorn voted Tuesday to adopt the Half Moon for inclusion in a 17th century historic site under the management of the Westfries Museum. The Half Moon is expected to remain the property of the New Netherland Museum, but it will lose its long-time captain, William T. “Chip” Reynolds. Continue reading
The Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany will celebrate the tradition of Seanichie, the traditional Irish Storyteller, at an event about the Irish in the Adirondacks featuring musician Dan Berggren and storyteller Joe Doolittle.
The Seanichie were travelers, carrying stories and news between hamlets and families. For the price of a warm meal, they’d share stories of the old ones and lively tales of romance and blarney. Continue reading
Recent excavations and research on the grounds of Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany have revealed outbuildings likely used as summer kitchens and/or slave quarters.
On Sunday, December 7 at 2 pm, the Albany Institute of History & Art will host Matthew J. Kirk, Principal Investigator and Cultural Resource Specialist at Hartgen Archeological Associates, for a special lecture focused on these findings and the insight they provide into slave/master relationships shortly before abolition. They suggest we reconsider our modern concepts of slavery in the north at the end of the eighteenth century. Continue reading
New York State History Month (November) is just over half through. November was designated in statute in 1997 as State History Month but it has been mostly ignored, until this year.
Last year, State Historian Bob Weible wrote a post in these pages entitled “Is NYS History Month Dead?” which suggested using the month for public history events. Thanks to Bob’s leadership and initiative, State History Month now has a higher visibility and momentum, as described in his recent follow-up. Continue reading
The 2014 Researching New York conference, “Identities in New York: Imagining, Constructing, Exploring,” will be held November 20-21, 2014 at the University at Albany.
This year’s conference will feature Richard Norton Smith who will present “On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller” on Thursday evening. The keynote luncheon address on Friday will be “The Making of a Myth: Seneca Falls Unraveled” by Lisa Tetrault of Carnegie Mellon University. On Friday afternoon a live performance by the Capital Repertory Theatre of “The Workers of the Erie Canal: They Built America” will take place in UAlbany’s Performing Arts Center. Continue reading