Tag Archives: Cultural History

Little Spain: Manhattan’s Little-Known Enclave


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guadalupeblock1929nyplThere is a neighborhood in Manhattan that some of its old timers call “España Chica” – Little Spain. From the late 19th century to the present time it served as the social and cultural nerve center of Spanish immigrants who settled in New York City.

Little Spain sits just above the West Village, mostly along West 14th Street, but the casual non-Spanish pedestrian would hardly know they were in a Spanish ethnic enclave. If this stroller were a vexillologist (or a fan of the Real Madrid Soccer team) she would no doubt know that the flag hanging in front of the nondescript brownstone at 239 West 14th Street, home of the Spanish Benevolent Society, was that of Spain. Continue reading

Adirondacks: Irishtown Stories and Songs


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unnamed(31)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

Winter Recreation Resorts In The Catskills


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GrossingerTobogganTime was that the Sullivan County Catskills were as popular as any summer tourist destination in the country. And as far back as the 19th century, some enterprising hotel owners attempted to translate that popularity into year around success.

Boosted by the patronage of those seeking a cure from tuberculosis, in the 1880s the Ontario and Western Railway began advertising the area as a winter health resort, publishing its annual “Winter Homes” brochure in addition to the popular “Summer Homes” booklet. Continue reading

At Jay Heritage Center: The Greek Revival Era in NY


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Jay Heritage CenterOn December 7th at 3 pm Architectural Historian Barry Lewis will present a free lecture, “New York in the Greek Revival Era 1830 – 1850″, at the Jay Heritage Center, 210 Boston Post Road, in Rye, NY.

The Greek Revival decades were the beginning of the modern era in New York City. Industrialization hit the city by the 1830s completely changing the landscape. Wall Street was re-built for corporate headquarters including a magnificent U.S. Custom House, suburbia was born (around Washington Square), the immigrants and tenement slums arrived (the Five Points) and the modern notion of high-end shopping began when A.T. Stewart opened America’s first department store (today, it houses the NYC Department of Buildings) at Broadway and Chambers Street in 1845. Continue reading

The Two Thanksgivings of 1871


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1871 turkey plucking harpersFor about a week in 1871, New Yorkers were in a quandary about Thanksgiving. On October 25, New York Governor John T. Hoffman designated Thursday, November 23 as Thanksgiving Day for the state. In his Thanksgiving Day proclamation, the Tammany Hall Democrat urged New Yorkers to spend time on that day to declare “their gratitude to God for all his mercies” and to “remember especially the poor.”

On October 28, President Ulysses S. Grant recommended that the nation observe Thanksgiving a week after the New York Thanksgiving, on Thursday November 30. In his proclamation, the Republican chief executive called for Americans to “make the usual acknowledgments to Almighty God for the blessings he has conferred on them” and ask “His protection and kindness for their less fortunate brethren.”

What was a conscientious, holiday-minded New Yorker supposed to do? Observe the Democratic Thanksgiving on November 23, or the Republican Thanksgiving on November 30, or both? Continue reading

Origins of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Jingle Bells


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A-VISIT_5The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center is continuing its winter lecture series with a presentation by Sloane Bullough about the origins of the famed Christmas story, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”, and the well known carol, “Jingle Bells”.

The poem was first published anonymously as “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823, having been sent there by a friend of Clement Clarke Moore, and was reprinted frequently thereafter with no name attached. It was first attributed in print to Moore in 1837 and Moore himself acknowledged authorship when he included it in his own book of poems in 1844. By then, the original publisher and at least seven others had already acknowledged his authorship. Continue reading

Adirondack Photos Made Associated Press History


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NYH4AMorehouseSiteIn modern times, photographs accompanying newspaper stories are sent around the world in digital format, utilizing the latest technology. But for half a century, from 1935 to 1989, the Wirephoto Service of the Associated Press was the industry standard. Prior to that time, the text of stories was sent by wire, but photographs for newsprint were shipped the same way mail and other urgent items were—by train or by plane.

Even by the speediest of methods, it could take more than three days for photographs to arrive. When a dramatic advancement—sending photographs instantly—arrived in 1935, the Adirondacks were linked forever with communications’ history. Continue reading

Peter Rose Authors New Cookbook, Crailo Event Planned


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Peter Rose CookbooksMixing food and history in a celebration of Dutch and American Christmas traditions, award-winning food historian Peter G. Rose’s new book, Delicious December: How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents, and Treats: A Holiday Cookbook (Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press, 2014), provides more than one hundred tried-and-true recipes. For planning purposes, complete menus and recipes for the parties that might happen between the feast days are also provided.

Rose draws on traditions that date back to the Middle Ages as well as her own reminiscences of her native country, and she suggests many ways to incorporate these true Dutch treats into American celebrations. The public is invited to join the Friends of Fort Crailo and Crailo State Historic Site at the Rensselaer Public Library for their Annual Meeting and lecture on Sunday November 16 at 4:30 pm.  After a brief business meeting, Peter Rose will present “Joyful Traditions: How the Dutch Brought Us Santa, Presents and Treats.” Continue reading

John Philip Sousa’s Montgomery County Connection


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Painting of Sousa by Capolino courtesy the Music Division, Library of CongressJohn Philip Sousa, “The March King” who composed “The Stars and Stripes Forever”, unsuccessfully courted a woman from the Mohawk Valley and remained a close friend of hers through the years.

Jessie Zoller was born in 1856 in the hamlet of Hallsville in the town of Minden. Minden historian Christine Oarr Eggleston said Jesse was the daughter of egg farmer Abram Zoller and his wife Alma Tuttle Zoller. After the Civil War, Abram Zoller held a high post in the U.S. Treasury and his wife and daughter were living with him in Washington. Continue reading

‘Immoral Tendencies':
When Amsterdam Banned Burlesque


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Rose Hill FollyTwo Amsterdam clergymen had concerns and asked Mayor John Dwyer to do something about the situation. The Rose Hill Folly Company was planning to perform on Wednesday, November 6, 1889 at the Potter Opera House on Market Street.

The formidable Reverend John McIncrow of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church and Reverend Donald Sprague of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church told the mayor the company had an “immoral tendency.” The clergymen also asked Dwyer not to allow the “posting of indecent pictorial advertisements of shows” in the city. Continue reading

NYC Exhibit: Mac Conner, One of New York’s Original ‘Mad Men’


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Detail from How Do You Love Me in Womans Home Companion, 1950The Museum of the City of New York announces Mac Conner: A New York Life – the first exhibition of more than 70 original artworks by illustrator McCauley (“Mac”) Conner, one of New York’s original “Mad Men.” In the 1940s – 60s, Conner’s captivating advertising and editorial illustrations graced the pages of major magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and The Saturday Evening Post, helping shape the popular image of postwar America.

The latest in an ongoing series of exhibitions that examines the lives and influence of New Yorkers, Mac Conner: A New York Life explores one man’s prolific career in New York as the world’s media capital and the country’s publishing center in the pivotal years after World War II. The exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, January 19, 2015Continue reading

Two Historians Among 2014 MacArthur Fellows


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2014 macarthur fellowsRecognizing 21 exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for significant contributions in the future, the The MacArthur Foundation today named its 2014 MacArthur Fellows, including two historians: Tara Zahra, 38, or the University of Chicago, and Pamela O. Long, 71, of Washington, DC.

Fellows will each receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000 with no stipulations or reporting requirements, allowing recipients maximum freedom to follow their own creative visions. Continue reading

New Book: A Dictionary Of Vietnam War Slang


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Vietnam War Slang DictionaryOn August 7th, the US marked the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the basis for the Johnson administration’s escalation of American military involvement in Southeast Asia and war against North Vietnam.

A new book, Vietnam War Slang: A Dictionary on Historical Principles (Routledge, 2014) by Tom Dalzell, outlines the context behind the slang used by members of the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. Continue reading

Peter Feinman:
Unexpected Deaths and Historical Memory


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The General Slocum disaster memorial in Tompkins Square Park, Manhattan, New York City, which was once in Little GermanyHow should we remember 9/11? I began to think about this more as the date for the opening of the 9/11 Museum neared. By coincidence, I was invited by City Wonders to take one of its tours and I chose the 9/11 Memorial Tour. This was just prior to the opening of the museum in May.

9/11 and that tour are responsible for the recent series of posts on remembering the dead. For me, it is important to understand 9/11 in context. That means not only the historical context in which the event occurred but the historical context in which we remember historical events. Our Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Passovers aren’t the same as our ancestors, nor is Memorial/Decoration Day. As a result, I began to write about different ways and circumstances in which we remember those who have died. Continue reading

World War I And The End Of The Gilded Age


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image001(10)To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I in 1914, Staatsburgh State Historic Site will debut a new tour, “World War I and the End of the Gilded Age.”

Staatsburgh was the home of prominent social hostess Ruth Livingston Mills and her husband, financier Ogden Mills.  The 79-room mansion showcases the opulent lifestyle enjoyed by the wealthy elite of the early 20th century.  This special tour will explore how the cataclysm of World War I brought an end to the extravagant excesses of the Gilded Age. Continue reading

The Negro National And Eastern Colored Leagues


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Negro National and Eastern Colored LeaguesAs the companion volume to Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1860–1901: Operating by Any Means Necessary, Michael E. Lomax’s new book, Black Baseball Entrepreneurs, 1902-1931: The Negro National and Eastern Colored Leagues (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2014), continues to chronicle the history of black baseball in the United States.

The first volume traced the development of baseball from an exercise in community building among African Americans in the pre–Civil War era into a commercialized amusement and a rare and lucrative opportunity for entrepreneurship within the black community. In this book, the author takes a closer look at the marketing and promotion of the Negro Leagues by black baseball magnates. Continue reading

The Shadow of Kinzua: The Seneca Since World War II


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Shadow of KinzuaKinzua Dam has cast a long shadow on Seneca life since World War II. The project, formally dedicated in 1966, broke the Treaty of Canandaigua of 1794, flooded approximately 10,000 acres of Seneca lands in New York and Pennsylvania, and forced the relocation of hundreds of tribal members.

In Laurence M. Hauptman’s In The Shadow of Kinzua: The Seneca Nation of Indians Since World War II (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2013), he presents presents both a policy study, namely how and why Washington, Harrisburg, and Albany came up with the idea to build the dam, as well as a community study of the Seneca Nation of Indians in the postwar era. Sold to the Senecas as a flood control project, the author argues that major reasons for the dam were the push for private hydroelectric development in Pennsylvania and state transportation and park development in New York. Continue reading

Lecture: Perfectionism in Antebellum New York


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unnamed(2)Robert W. Arnold III, a career public historian now retired from the New York State Archives, will give a talk entitled “Leaning into the Storm: Perfectionism in Antebellum New York” on Saturday, August 9, 2014 at the Schenectady County Historical Society.

New York State was a place of rapid change in the antebellum era, the epicenter of perfectionist religious and social reform movements, inspired largely by Yankee immigrants from New England and spread as those immigrants themselves settled along the routes of turnpikes and canals. Uncertainties associated with ongoing revolutions in transportation, finance, communications and industry were reflected in popular movements such as temperance, abolition, women’s rights, dress-, prison- and educational reform. Continue reading

Enhanced Auto-Camping Nearly A Century Ago


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Airdmore headlineCamping in the Adirondacks, popular now for well beyond a century, has evolved with the changing times. Roughing it in open lean-tos and makeshift shelters was largely supplanted by tent camping. Then, with the advent of the automobile, the mountains would never be the same. Auto-camping became hugely popular in a very short time. As the price of cars dropped to where the average worker could afford one, thousands of families took to the road to get away from it all, strapping tents, blankets, fishing equipment, and other gear to their vehicles. Continue reading