The skyscraper can trace its ancestry back many years, millennia in fact, before the existence of New York City. The book of Genesis tells the story of Babel, the Babylonian city in which Noah’s descendants tried to erect the mythological tower: ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into Heaven.’ For their presumption the people were punished: their words were made incomprehensible to one another. This aetiological tale of the diversity of speech could easily be applied to New York, home to the speakers of some 800 languages, a city in which cab drivers routinely set their satnavs to Russian, Bengali or Serbo-Croatian. Continue reading
When you turn on your kitchen faucet you probably don’t give it much thought, yet it’s a marvel of modern history.
For centuries, to get water into the house it was necessary to fill your buckets from a fast moving stream and lug them home. Later, you might have filled them from a well or cistern, but still had the chore of lugging them back to the house. Every drop of water you wanted for drinking, cooking or washing had to be transported this way and it was a seemingly endless task. In winter, you might have to carry an axe with you so you could break through the ice that had formed overnight. Here in the Adirondacks, wells were sometimes dug right under the house so getting water wouldn’t be quite so arduous, especially in winter. Common indoor plumbing with water to a faucet didn’t arrive in most homes in the Adirondacks until the 20th century. But there were exceptions, one of which was the LeRay Mansion near the town of Leraysville in Jefferson County. Continue reading
Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), the region’s historic preservation organization, will be presenting its Annual Preservation Awards on Monday, October 3 to eight projects that exemplify the preservation work being done in communities throughout the Adirondacks. These awards are meant to honor the best examples of sensitive restoration, rehabilitation, and demonstrated long-term stewardship by individuals, organizations, local governments and businesses. Continue reading
David Byars’ new book, Our Time at Foxhollow Farm a Hudson Valley Family Remembered (SUNY Press, 2016) is a pictorial history of a wealthy Hudson Valley family in the early decades of the twentieth century. Illustrated with the family’s extensive collection of personal albums compiled during the nascent years of photography, it provides a fascinating insight into the regional, social, and architectural history of the era. Continue reading
The New York State Museum has opened “Hudson Valley Ruins,” a photography and architecture exhibition.
On display through December 31, 2017, the exhibition features over 80 photographs by Robert Yasinsac and Thomas Rinaldi documenting forgotten historic sites and cultural treasures in the Hudson River Valley.
The exhibition is based on Yasinsac and Rinaldi’s 2006 book, Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape. In addition to great river estates, the book and exhibition profiles sites meaningful to everyday life in the Hudson Valley: churches, hotels, commercial and civic buildings, mills, and train stations. The exhibition explores many of these abandoned places and also revisits several sites that have changed in the past ten years since the book’s publication. Continue reading
Before they built their own ample cottages, summer visitors to the Hamptons could choose from a variety of hotels and clubs ready to welcome them. On Thursday, August 18th at 5:30 pm in Southampton, Long Island, Anne Surchin will discuss this early period of Hamptons history and the leisure activities that drew the first vacationists to what would later become one of America’s great resort destinations. Continue reading
David McAlpin, a principal at Fradkin & McAlpin Architects, is among a group of 21 noted architects and landscape architects, including Steven Holl, Laurie D. Olin, Peter Pennoyer and Diana Balmori, who have been invited to solve a mystery that is more than 130 years old.
Each was asked to submit a design for “the Summer House” at Olana, the Hudson, New York, estate of the great American landscape artist Frederic Church. Continue reading
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), was a brilliant politician-lawyer who served as an indispensable aide to George Washington during and after the American Revolution.
Among his many achievements, Hamilton is credited with creating the financial system of the United States, and was the first Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. The current Broadway musical sensation Hamilton has sparked an interest in the man on the $10 bill.
The Albany Institute of History & Art’s new exhibition, Spotlight: Alexander Hamilton, highlights Hamilton’s connections to Albany, New York through personal papers, family heirlooms, historic preservation efforts, and a stunning portrait painted by Albany’s own Ezra Ames (1768—1836). Continue reading
Lowell Thing’s book The Street that Built a City: McEntee’s Chestnut Street, Kingston, and the Rise of New York (Black Dome, 2015) takes a look at the city of New York and the street that built it — or much of it. The street is on a quiet hilltop overlooking the Hudson River a hundred miles north of New York’s harbor.
Chestnut Street’s first resident, James McEntee, was an engineer who helped build the Delaware and Hudson Canal, which brought millions of tons of coal from Pennsylvania to the port at Rondout to be hauled down the Hudson River on barges pulled by steamboats belonging to another Chestnut Street resident, Samuel Coykendall, to fuel a rapidly growing New York City. Seven owners of brickyards lived on the street, and their hundreds of millions of bricks rose skyward in New York while bluestone slabs shipped from nearby Wilbur paved the city’s sidewalks. Continue reading
The new book Fading Structures in the Finger Lakes: Images and Verse (Fast Pencil, 2015) by Michael W. Duttweiler explores 24 structures in the Central Finger Lake Region. These structures once stood strong, but have since been run down and abandoned.
Each image is paired with a poem conveying the allure and intrigue of the deserted structures. Poems by Conant, Kilmer, Frost, Dickinson, Whitman, Tennyson and other well-known authors are included.
Duttweiler hopes that by conveying the beauty of these fading structures, local organizations will be encouraged to support historic preservation. Continue reading