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New York State Historic Preservation Awards Announced for 2010


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The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has announced the recipients of the 2010 New York State Historic Preservation Awards. Established in 1980, the State Historic Preservation Awards are given each year to honor excellence in the protection and rejuvenation of New York’s historic and cultural resources.

“The Historic Preservation Awards honor the efforts and achievement of individuals, organizations and municipalities that make significant contributions to historic preservation objectives throughout New York State,” said Ruth Pierpont, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation. “The range of awards this year reflects the many ways that historic preservation serves as an important tool for economic development, creating affordable housing, and providing an effective approach to sustainable building design while preserving the unique character and heritage of our communities.”

The awards follow:

OUTSTANDING NATIONAL REGISTER NOMINATION:

New York City’s Chinatown and Little Italy Historic District

Presented to: Two Bridges Neighborhood Council (Victor Papa, president and director) and architectural consultant Kerri Culhane, for a project that illuminates the common heritage and shared future of New York

New York City’s Chinatown and Little Italy Historic District was listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in February 2010 as being nationally significant in the history of immigration. The project’s success was due to the inspired leadership of the sponsor, the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council; exemplary scholarship of their consultant – architectural historian Kerri Culhane; and the support of Chinese-American and Italian-American organizations. Key to the process was educating the public about the significance of two ethnic groups whose 150 years of interwoven immigrant experiences had been previously overlooked. This nomination has proven to be a catalyst for a planning process aimed at enhancing economic development opportunities while respecting the important history of these neighborhoods.

PROJECT ACHIEVEMENT:

The Montour House, Village of Montour Falls, Schuyler County, 1850

For Outstanding Adaptive Use and Commitment to Community Revitalization

Presented to: Bruce Nelson, Nelson Development, Village of Montour Falls and Schuyler County Partners for Economic Development

Set in motion by a Restore New York grant and assistance from the Schuyler County Partners for Economic Development (SCOPED), the Village of Montour Falls hired developer Bruce Nelson to bring the 1850 Montour House back to life. Nelson, of Nelson Development in Vestal, worked closely with SHPO staff to determine the best approach to adapting the former hotel for apartments and commercial spaces while adhering to historic preservation standards. Over 20 years of neglect had caused severe water damage and other deterioration, and the village was in danger of losing the central landmark. A mason employed on the job for 18 months and a millwright who restored 118 historic wood windows were joined by other team members who restored and replaced decorative plaster elements. The project fulfilled the Village’s goals of attracting new and long-time residents as tenants, and helped inspired other local rehabilitation projects.

PROJECT ACHIEVEMENT:

257 Lafayette Center (The Former Annunciation School), Buffalo, 1928

For Outstanding Adaptive Use and Commitment to Community Revitalization

Presented to: Karl Frizlen, The Frizlen Group Architects and Paul Johnson, Johnson and Sons Contractors

After having served as an integral part of the community for over 80 years, the school closed and the building stood vacant for several years. Karl Frizlen, of The Frizlen Group Architects, and Paul Johnson, of Johnson & Sons General Contractor, recognized that the well-designed school would be ideal for an adaptive, mixed-used development that would incorporate green building design and historic preservation. The partners attracted tenants for the commercial portion of the building before beginning the project, including a day-care center and several firms for the incubator offices. In converting former school rooms, the work exhibits a high degree of creativity in reusing historic elements in place, such as pivoting blackboards, or recycling materials for new uses in the building. The project is an outstanding example of how historic tax credits can be used for a mid-sized rehabilitation project. Having obtained LEED certification, the project demonstrates that historic preservation and sustainable design are mutually supportive approaches to development.

PROJECT ACHIEVEMENT:

44 West 87th Street, New York City, 1910

For Outstanding Adaptive Use and Commitment to Community Revitalization

Presented to: The West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, Inc. and Red Top Architects

In adapting the 1910 townhouse at 44 West 87th Street in New York City for senior and transitional housing and program services, the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, Inc. and Red Top Architects needed to upgrade the building to meet accessibility requirements; provide affordable rental units and smaller, transitional housing units; and also insert meeting and office space. Project partners worked through a highly collaborative process to solve design challenges. Preservation tax credits helped make the difference in the remarkable quality of workmanship and historic character preserved by the adaptive use project on a tight budget.

PROJECT ACHIEVEMENT:

P. S. 124, High School of Telecommunication Arts & Technology, Brooklyn, 1917

For an Outstanding Rehabilitation Project and Commitment to Community Revitalization

Presented to: New York City School Construction Authority and STV Group, Inc.

In planning a new wing for the overcrowded school building, the School Construction Authority staff and STV Group architects had to design a structure that would fit on the limited land available, would be compatible with the materials, massing and scale of the existing building and that would also meet with the approval of both SHPO and the community. The end result included a well-designed new wing and restoration of the school’s original auditorium, portions of which had previously been converted to classroom space. In returning the auditorium to its former grandeur, the team recreated missing decorative elements and restored stained glass windows.

PROJECT ACHIEVEMENT:

Dunderberg Creek Walls and NY Route 51 Stone Arch Bridge over Dunderberg Creek, Village of Gilbertsville, Otsego County

For an Outstanding Rehabilitation Project and Commitment to Community Revitalization

Presented to: Village of Gilbertsville and New York State Department of Transportation, Region 9

The historic Village of Gilbertsville’s picturesque setting was threatened in June 2006, when storm waters overflowed the Dunderberg Creek banks and came roaring through the village. The historic stone walls lining the creek were washed away, debris carried by the waters destroyed one of the piers supporting the historic Gilbert Building, and the NY Route 51 Bridge was damaged. Village officials, committed to preserving the historic character of the village, worked closely with the NYSDOT to coordinate repairs to the 1919 bridge and creek walls in a manner that retained the historic pattern of the stonework.

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT:

Anne H. Van Ingen, former director of the Architecture, Planning and Design and Capital Program of the New York State Council on the Arts.

Recently-retired as director of the Architecture, Planning and Design (APD) and Capital Aid Programs at the New York State Council on the Arts, Anne Van Ingen was recognized for her extraordinary leadership in and commitment and contributions to the field of historic preservation, both as a public servant and a private citizen.

For 27 years, she served as NYSCA’s representative on the New York State Board for Historic Preservation, reviewing and approving nominations to the State and National Registers for Historic Places. Her focus as APD director was on what quality planning and design work – including historic preservation – could do for arts organizations and the communities they serve. She is a founding director of the Deborah J. Norden Fund of the Architectural League, established in memory of a talented NYSCA colleague, the Lower Manhattan Emergency Preservation Fund, and is president of the St. Regis Foundation, a land trust in the Adirondacks.

More recently, she purchased a traditional “shotgun” house in New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Ninth Ward and invited friends and family down to help undertake the extensive rehabilitation needed to turn the property into affordable housing.

Recognition for OPRHP Agency Best Practices in Historic Preservation

Taconic Regional Headquarters Adaptive Use Project

The Preservation awards program initiated a new component this year to recognize projects undertaken within the OPRHP agency that demonstrate best practices in historic preservation. Ruth Pierpont, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation explained, “by highlighting high-quality rehabilitation and restoration projects, we hope to encourage similar approaches throughout all state parks.” The project chosen this year was the adaptive use of the former Staatsburg School for the OPRHP Taconic Regional Headquarters.

The project was initiated with a gift from Dr. Lucy R. Waletsky, chair of the New York State Council of Parks, who stipulated that the project use sustainable, green building practices and become LEED certified. In order to retain the proportions of the 1930 school, the wide corridors were retained and glass walls were inserted in former classrooms to divide the work spaces and allow the distribution of natural light. On the exterior, instead of separating the accessible entrance from the main door, a “universally accessible” entry was created by redesigning the building site and locating the main entrance at the former rear of the building. This approach also avoided alterations to the stately, historic façade which was restored.

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which is part of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, helps communities identify, recognize, and preserve their historic resources, and incorporate them into local improvement and economic development activities. The SHPO administers several programs including the state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credit program, state historic preservation grants, the Certified Local Government program, and the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places, which are the official lists of properties significant in the history, architecture, and archeology of the state and nation.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites.. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com.

Walking Tour Explores the Mafia in America


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A new walking tour examines the roots of the Mafia in America including the often overlooked early lives of such criminal heavyweights as Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Al “Scarface” Capone, Giuseppe Morello, Joe “The Boss” Masseria, Meyer Lansky, “Bugsy” Siegel, and more.

The weekly walking tour with guide Eric Ferrara is hosted by the Lower East Side History Project and runs every Saturday and Thursday at 2:00 pm, through March 2011. The cost is $20 per person.

The tour details the Sicilian and Italian immigrant experience and conditions which led to organized gangsterism in America. From the arrival of Sicilian Black Handers and Neapolitan Camorra to New York in the 1890s, to the forming of the Mafia Commission in 1931, tour participants visit the early homes, headquarters, hangouts and assassination locations of some of the most powerful criminals in American history, and explore the wars which shaped the future of organized crime.

Sites visits include “Black Hand Block,” headquarters of the “first family” of the American Mafia; the headquarters of Paul Kelly’s notorious Five Points Gang, the gang responsible for breeding the likes of Al Capone, Johnny Torrio, “Lucky” Luciano, and hundreds more; the home of prohibition era’s “Boss of Bosses;” and the childhood homes and teenage haunts of “Lucky” Luciano, “Bugsy” Siegel and Meyer Lansky.

Ferrara deciphers the myths and realities of the Mafia in Hollywood, including Boardwalk Empire and The Godfather series. Ferrara is a published author, educator, and founder of the Lower East Side History Project and the first museum in America dedicated to gangsterism. He is a fourth generation native New Yorker with Sicilian roots in Little Italy dating back to the 1880s, and has assisted several movie, tv, and media projects world wide, including HBO, SyFy, History Channel and National Geographic.

Ferrara says that he has consulted the families and estates of crime figures discussed on the tour, as well as law enforcement agents, collectors, authors and historians to provide unique first-hand accounts, images and documents in over five years of research.

For more information visit the Lower East Side History Project online.

A Progressive History of Union Square, NYC


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Even in the supersized world of New York City, Union Square stands out for its astonishing legacy. Yet most of that rich history was lost in the square’s descent from a city showplace to an area approached only at personal peril.

Union Square’s 300-year story is finally told by author/photographer James Isaiah Gabbe in The Universe of Union Square, a coffee-table book and companion DVD (Visions & Voices) that marks the first time the history of the square has been captured from a progressive cultural perspective.

The book relates the people, places and events that shaped so much of America’s progressive tradition while the DVD brings the chronicle up to the moment through 60 lively interviews with city officials, business owners, artists, activists, clergy and others whose lives are intertwined with this remarkable place. More information about the book and a full list of interviewees can be found online.

Gabbe, a former journalist and historian is a longtime resident of Union Square and was for many years the president of the Union Square Partnership – the nation’s first business improvement district.

As president of the Union Square Partnership Gabbe thought he knew the area’s history well enough to create a nicely illustrated brochure, but wherever he turned, Gabbe heard stories that led him through a warren of intrigue and Dickensian characters.

Three years, hundreds of interviews and site visits later, The Universe of Union Square spans 265 pages of fascinating vignettes and nearly 1000 archival images and contemporary photographs. Visions & Voices, the companion DVD, brings the chronicle up to the moment through 60 lively conversations with city officials, community activists, business leaders, academics, clergy, artists and others whose lives are intertwined with this remarkable place.

Gabbe’s exploration extends to an eight-block radius beyond the confines of the park, touching nine adjacent neighborhoods that together form Union Square’s “Universe.”

“Who knew that such a small area of land would become a cauldron in which an unprecedented diversity of people would shape America’s restless, progressive soul,” Gabbe said. “By turns violent and peaceful, with triumph and dismay, Union Square was witness and party to the growth of a nation.”

The Universe of Union Square explores the area’s people, architecture, institutions and happenings through eight thematic chapters – highlights include:

* Peter Stuyvesant’s Harvest: From the Lenape Nation and European Walloons to “blue bloods” and immigrants, a look at the area’s changing populations, including the criminal fringe, from prosperity through hard times between World War I and the 1980s. Includes notable architectural landmarks, the Greenmarket and acts of violence.

* Democracy’s Stage: The “universe’s” history – and legacy – as New York’s center of free public expression. From Civil War protests and Lincoln proclaiming “right makes might” to serving as headquarters for the nascent labor movement and political activists of all persuasions – through to providing the world a haven to mourn and heal after 9/11.

* Creative Cauldron: Celebrating the impresarios, actors, writers, artists and musicians who have made their mark here. Covers the area’s role as the original “heart” of Broadway and the Yiddish theater; the earliest center for American opera; the birthplace of American vaudeville and the modern nightclub; and home to many famed arts clubs and enterprises that founded the film industry.

* Inventive Ventures: This is where gutsy entrepreneurs built the peerless Ladies’ Mile, a collection of urban shopping emporiums that set the stage for modern department stores but have never been equaled. And where scores of other fascinating enterprises were fostered, including world-famous Strand Book Store, Blatt Billiards and the landmarked Bowlmor bowling alley.

* Fibers of the Future: Past and present, individuals and organizations exemplifying compassionate and visionary citizenship, from the selflessness of baker Charles Fleischmann, who fed anyone willing to wait in line for bread, to Tammany Hall, which began as a noble civic and political service to immigrants but ended in infamy. This was also home to Peter Cooper, Helen Keller, Teddy and Eleanor Roosevelt, Ida Tarbell, Margaret Sanger and Bill Wilson – all of whom changed society in momentous ways.

The Universe of Union Square also covers the area’s 60 institutions from preschools to universities, libraries to museums – many like NYU, New School, Cooper Union, Stuyvesant and Washington Irving High Schools – created to serve the working class, immigrants and women, who had no access to education. And Gabbe recounts tales of Emma Goldman, Andy Warhol and the Mad Bomber among scores of other famous and infamous characters as it documents the area’s modern resurrection from decades of urban decay.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Travel Channel to Feature Ellis Island Museum


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Travel Channel’s new series, Mysteries at the Museum, will be featuring New York tonight at 9 EST. The show will be highlighting the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

The episode will feature literacy tests given to all new arrivals at Ellis Island. In theory the test should have prevented thousands of poor, illiterate immigrants from gaining entry into the U.S., but what many immigrants lacked in literacy, they made up for in cunning and guile. How could they possibly have beat the test that was designed to keep them out of America?

Troy’s Little Italy Midwife Records Online


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Troy area researchers will be interested in the almost 200 midwife records covering 600 surnames that have just been added to the Troy Irish Genealogy Website. These records mostly are for infants born to Italian immigrants who lived in the little Italy section of South Troy. A number of the records, however, are for Syrian immigrants. The records, which range from 1909 to 1923, were completed by the midwife Alesandra Matera, a nurse who lived at 250 Fourth Street in Troy.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy, New York provided the Troy Irish Genealogy Society access to their copies of these records to develop this on-line database.

You can view these records by going to the Troy Irish Genealogy website at www.rootsweb.com/~nytigs/ and click on PROJECTS and then click on MATERA MIDWIFE RECORDS. There are three separate files for the records covering the child’s name, the father’s name and the mother’s name. Clicking on the alphabetical listing of names on the left side of the page will bring up the individual record for that name.

Illustration: 1880 Map of Troy’s Little Italy Neighborhood.

Alien Resident Files Opened to Public


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For the first time, more than 300,000 case files on alien residents of the United States who were born 1909 and prior are now open to the public at the National Archives at Kansas City. These files, known as “Alien Files” (commonly referred to as “A-Files”) were transferred to the National Archives from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and are only a small part of the millions of case files that will eventually be transferred and opened to the public.

“The A-files are a key to unlocking the fascinating stories of millions of people who traveled to the United States in search of opportunity, including my own grandfather” said Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “They include information such as photographs, personal correspondence, birth certificates, health records, interview transcripts, visas, applications and other information on all non-naturalized alien residents, both legal and illegal. The snapshot of American life that develops from each file can, in some cases, serve as a one-stop-shopping for researchers.”

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the predecessor agency of USCIS, began issuing aliens Alien Registration numbers in 1940, and on April 1, 1944, began using this number to create the A-Files. A-Files document the famous, the infamous, the anonymous and the well-known, and are an historical and genealogical goldmine. These files contain an abundance of relatively modern immigration documents in one file, making them a rich source of biographical information.

A-Files are eligible for transfer to the National Archives when 100 years have passed since the birth date of the subject of a file. These transfers to the National Archives ensure that these records will be saved and made available to the public. The National Archives at Kansas City will maintain A-Files from all USCIS district offices except San Francisco, Honolulu, Reno, and Guam. These files will be housed at the National Archives at San Francisco because of the significant research use of related immigration files there. Files to be housed at the National Archives at San Francisco are currently being prepared for transfer.

A-Files may be viewed in person by appointment at the National Archives at Kansas City or copies of files may be ordered for a fee. Additional information on requesting A-Files may be found here.

For more information about these records, contact Elizabeth Carrington, archivist, at 816-268-8093 or afiles.kansascity@nara.gov.

Ellis Island Museum Celebrates 20 Years


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September marks the 20th anniversary of the historic restoration of Ellis Island and the opening of its Immigration Museum on September 10, 1990, which was funded by the American people through The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. This world class museum has quickly become one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City, welcoming over 35 million visitors to date.

Just half a mile from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, the museum’s exhibits highlight the growth of America during the peak immigration years of 1880-1924. The galleries illustrate the Ellis Island immigrant reception process, the immigrants’ arrival and settlement throughout the United States and feature their “Treasures From Home” – the cherished personal objects, photographs and papers they brought with them from their homelands. And the American Immigrant Wall of Honor celebrates the immigrant experience with the inscription of the names of over 700,000 individuals and families who have been honored by their descendants.

The Ellis Island Oral History Archive, created by the Foundation, contains the reminiscences of over 1700 individuals who either immigrated through or worked at Ellis Island during its heyday as the country’s largest immigration processing center. Excerpts from these oral histories are incorporated throughout the museum’s popular audio tour, which allows visitors to vividly relive the immigrant experience as if they were the “new arrival.”

The American Family Immigration History Center, which opened in 2001, offers easy access to the arrival records of more than 25 million immigrants, travelers and crewmembers who entered through the Port of New York and Ellis Island between 1892-1924, and is also available online at www.ellisisland.org.

The restoration of Ellis Island—the largest in U. S. history—began in 1984 as the second part of a multi-million dollar project by the Foundation, in partnership with the National Park Service/U.S. Department of the Interior, which included the Centennial restoration of the Statue of Liberty in 1986. All funds came from private donations, with more than 20 million Americans contributing to the cause.

The Museum is currently undergoing a $20 million expansion to be called The Peopling of America Center. Designed by ESI Design, this exciting new Center will enlarge the story currently told of the Ellis Island Era (1892-1954) to include the entire panorama of the American immigration experience, with exhibits dedicated to those who arrived before Ellis as well as those who arrived after it closed, right up to the present. “The Foundation is proud of what it has accomplished over the last 28 years with the support of the American people in raising over $550 million for the ongoing restoration and preservation of these two most beloved monuments to freedom and opportunity,” said Stephen A. Briganti, President and CEO of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. “With the Peopling of America Center scheduled to open in 2012, we will bring the ever-growing story of the populating of America to life, making the Ellis Island Museum both more relevant and a truly living testament to this Nation of Immigrants.”

For more information on the Ellis Island Immigration Museum visit www.ellisisland.org.

Online: John Timon – Buffalo’s First Bishop



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New York History Review has just published online John Timon – Buffalo’s First Bishop
: His Forgotten Struggle to Assimilate Catholics in Western New York

 by Paul E. Lubienecki. Timon assimilated Catholics and Catholic women into the culture of western New York and established Catholicism while battling the local Protestant clergy and the Catholic hierarchy. You can read more about him here.

Mr. Lubienecki is a doctoral student of History at Case Western Reserve University. His dissertation topic is on the history and influence of the Catholic Church on the American labor movement. The article can be found here on the New York History Review website

Illustration: Bishop John Timon Bust, The Right Rev. John Timon, Bishop of Buffalo, 1847-1867, plaster, A. Pellegrini, Buffalo, 1885. On display in 2002 at Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.

CFP: Staten Island, Am. History, 21st Cent. Education


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A Call for Papers has been issued for a conference entitled Staten Island, New York in American History and 21st Century Education, to be held at the College of Staten Island (City University of New York) on March 19-20, 2011.

An understanding of the role of place and the attachment to community in America has never been more critical than in our rapidly changing global environment. This conference seeks to explore major turning points and issues in American history as experienced by the residents of Staten Island past and present. Located at the entrance to New York harbor, Staten Island is one of the five boroughs that comprise New York City.

Since 1661, Staten Island has been the home of settlers and migrants from around the globe. Staten Island’s cultural diversity and its regional and global interconnections are reflected in its institutions, cuisine, art and architecture, businesses, social movements, recreational tourism, transportation heritage, and in the service of its military veterans. The organizers’ goal is to rethink the significance of Staten Island and its important historic sites, as part of New York City, the region, the nation, and the world through the interdisciplinary lenses of history and Place-based
Education.

In celebration of Staten Island’s 350th Anniversary in 2011, the organizers invite
innovative proposals from scholars, curators, teachers and public historians related to community history and education. Proposals must be relevant to and illustrate the conference theme, including but not limited to the following topics:

*History of ethnicity and immigration
*History of race, gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities
*Staten Island in the transatlantic world, e.g. Huguenot refugees, the Loyalist Diaspora, the Free Trade Zone
*Staten Island in the history of New York City, e.g. Civil War Draft Riots, Consolidation, 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
*History of the arts, architecture, health, business, military, sports, transportation, religion, food and drink, education, childhood, or of the environment
*Geography, politics, and economics in the study of local history
*The historical interconnectedness of Staten Island to the New York/New Jersey region
*The role of the museum in public history and preservation
*Pedagogy, including Place-based Education, civic engagement and community-based research
*Memory and oral history

Proposals for complete panels and/or individual papers for this peer-reviewed conference are welcome. Proposals for panels must include the following: 1) a cover sheet with the panel title, paper titles, and the name, address, affiliation, and email addresses of the chair/commentator and of the panelists; 2) a 350-word abstract of the panel as a whole; and 3) a 350-word abstract for each paper included on the panel. Individual paper proposals for twenty-minute papers should include the following: 1) a cover sheet with the paper’s title, and the name, address, affiliation,
and email address of the participant and 2) a 350-word abstract of the paper.

All materials should be e-mailed to Dr. Phillip Papas, Associate Professor of History and co-chair of the SI 350 Academic Conference/Education Symposium at papas@ucc.edu. Proposals for panels and/or individual papers must be received no later than October 15, 2010. Successful applicants will be required to send a completed paper no later than February 7, 2011. E-mail Dr. Margaret Berci, Associate Professor of Education and co- chair of the SI 350 Academic Conference/Education Symposium at berci@mail.csi.cuny.edu with questions.

For more information and resources please refer to their website at www.si350.org.

The event is co-sponsored with Wagner College, St. John’s University and SI350, Inc, with major support from the Staten Island Foundation.

Saratoga Battlefield Celebrates July 4th, Immigration


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Independence Day on Sunday, July 4 will be celebrated at Saratoga National Historical Park on Routes 4 and 32 in Stillwater, with a 10:00am Citizenship Ceremony and traditional readings of the Declaration of Independence with free lemonade toasts at 1 and 3pm.

10:00am – On the anniversary of our nation and upon the grounds where independence was won, 20 immigrants from countries all over the world will become new citizens of the United States of America. Fife and drums, color guard, musket and cannon firings frame this special event organized by Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution, Friends of Saratoga Battlefield and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

1:00 and 3:00pm – As a messenger from 1776, park ranger Joe Craig reads from the Declaration of Independence with authentic 18th century toasts reflecting the insightful wit of the document signers. Enjoy free lemonade to share in the toasts, followed by celebratory musket and cannon firings.

Saratoga Monument in Victory and the General Philip Schuyler House in Schuylerville, both located 8 miles north of Saratoga Battlefield, will also be open from 9:00am to 5:00pm. The Battlefield is open daily from 9am to 5pm.

Saratoga National Historical Park, located on Routes 4 and 32 in Stillwater, offers a variety of special events throughout the season. For further information, please call (518) 664-9821 ext. 224, or visit www.nps.gov/sara.

Wild, Wild East: NY’s Westward Expansion Lecture


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New York’s early frontier was America’s first “Wild West” with Westward Expansion, blocked by two “obstacles”: Native Americans and Nature. Combining dramatic images and fresh research, Robert Spiegelman details this forgotten New York, where settler dreams encounter native lifeways during a free lecture on Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 7 pm at the Fort Montgomery Historic Site.

Spiegelman will explore a “magical crossroads” where immigrants change into nomad farmers, neighbors into rivals, colonists into fighters, soldiers into settlers, land speculators into “second creators,” Indian Country into military tracts named for Roman conquerors, and untamed forests into real estate grids.

Participants will revisit Syracuse and Buffalo’s emergence from the ashes of attempted Indian removal and controversial land treaties that have shaped today’s Empire State. Then grasp Manhattan’s rise to prominence via the Erie Canal, which in turn, inflames a religious upheaval across Central New York that America calls “The Burnt Over District.” The lecture will end with an appreciation of how – against all odds – indigenous New Yorkers retain a toehold in their deforested ancestral homelands.

The Fort Montgomery Visitor Center is located at 690 Route 9W,1/4 mile north of the Bear Mountain Traffic Circle in Fort Montgomery, Orange County, NY 10922. For more information call (845) 446-2134.

Folklore Society Sponsoring Events for Latino Artists


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The New York Folklore Society will be sponsoring three gatherings for Latino artists in New York State. Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the gatherings will take place on three locations on three separate dates over this fall and next spring.

Designed for musicians, dancers, craftspersons, and others who are practicing a traditional artform with its origin in any of the Spanish-speaking communities of North and South America, the gatherings will assist artists in sharing resources and experiences. They will provide an opportunity for future collaborations and technical assistance. For additional information, or to find out how to become a “delegate” for the gatherings, contact Lisa Overholser at the New York Folklore Society.

The gatherings will be held as follows:

October 24, 2010 at Long Island Traditins, Port Washington
March 19, 2011 at Go Art!, Batavia
May 14, 2011 at Centro Civico, Amsterdam

2010 Scholars Conference on American Jewish History


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The 2010 Biennial Scholars’ Conference on American Jewish History will examine the notion of American Jewish “exceptionalism,” or uniqueness that has shaped conceptions of American Jewish history from its beginning. The conference, to be held in New York City on June 15-17, 2010 is sponsored by the American Jewish Historical Society and hosted by the Center for Jewish History.

According to many historical accounts, American Jews have enjoyed an unparalleled degree of freedom, acceptance, and prosperity throughout their history in the United States. This has enabled Jews to blend their ethnic identities with the demands of American citizenship far more easily than other diasporic Jews. At the same time, the notion of American Jewish exceptionalism holds that Jews have differed from other ethnic groups in the United States by virtue of their educational and economic attainment and, often, by virtue of Jewish “values,” including a devotion to educational and social/political liberalism.

Yet to what extent are these notions about American uniqueness, on the one hand, and Jewish uniqueness, on the other, accurate? Does the concept of exceptionalism continue to provide a useful framework for understanding American Jewish history? Should it be qualified for greater nuance or discarded altogether?

Papers will be given by a range of prominent academics and doctoral candidates from around the U.S., Canada, and Israel. The keynote will be offered by Professor David Sorkin and an evening roundtable will feature the esteemed U.S. historians Jon Butler and Ira Katznelson in dialogue with Beth Wenger and Rebecca Kobrin, outstanding scholars in the field of American Jewish history. A pre-conference tour of Harlem will be led by Professor Jeffrey Gurock. A tour of the Tenement Museum led by Annie Polland is optional at the conclusion of the conference.

Full conference details are available online at http://www.ajhs.org/scholarship/conference.cfm. For more information contact Rachel Lobovsky, Director of Development at 212.294.6164 or rlobovsky@ajhs.org

Illustration: “East Side Soap Box” Shahn, Ben (1898-1969) © VAGA, NY. East Side Soap Box, 1936. Gouache on paper, 18 1/2 x 12 1/4 in. (47 x 31.1 cm). Purchase: Deana Bezark Fund in memory of Leslie Bezark; Mrs. Jack N. Berkman, Susan and Arthur Fleischer, Dr. Jack Allen and Shirley Kapland, Hanni and Peter Kaufmann, Hyman L. and Joan C. Sall Funds, and Margaret Goldstein Bequest, 1995-61. Photo by John Parnell. The Jewish Museum, New York, NY, U.S.A. © The Jewish Museum, NY / Art Resource, NY

Lecture: Law, Justice, And The Holocaust


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The Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York in partnership with US Holocaust Memorial Museum will hold an event on May 11th, 6:00 PM, at The New York City Bar (42 West 44th Street, NYC). The program, Law, Justice, and the Holocaust: Lessons for the Courts Today, will include a presentation by a US Holocaust Memorial Museum historian, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

The panelists are: Albert M. Rosenblatt, Former Associate Judge, New York Court of Appeals, John Q. Barrett, Professor of Law, St. John’s University and Elizabeth S. Lenna Fellow; Robert H. Jackson Center; and William F. Meinecke, Jr., PH.D., Historian, National Institute for Holocaust Education, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The program will conclude with a reading of remarks by the late Matthew Jasen, Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals (1968-1985) who was formerly a judge of the United States Military government Court at Heidelberg, Germany.

The program is free of charge and open to the public but an RSVP is essential. Information about the program and online registration can be found at http://www.courts.state.ny.us/history/

Discovering NY Harbor: The Gateway to America


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Celebrating the historic and cultural significance of New York Harbor, the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy (Harbor Conservancy) and National Park Service kick-off their summer harbor tours aboard New York Waterway ferries with their Gateway to America cruise, an audio tour that is narrated by actress Kathleen Turner and brings 400 years of New York Harbor’s extraordinary past to life. The boat tour runs five times daily leaving from Slip 5 at the Battery Maritime Building.

Gateway to America is in its sixth season. The boat tour experience offers visitors the opportunity to see the city from a new vantage point – from the water while learning about the role New York Harbor played and continues to play as the gateway to America for millions of people.

Gateway to America is the only official tour of the National Park Service that ties together all five interpretative themes of the national parks that ring New York Harbor- commerce, military defense, immigration, birth of the nation and harbor ecology. “The tour itinerary weaves together the rich tapestry of New York harbor’s history – from its first settlement by Native Americans through the tragic events of 9/11, and it offers new insights about the unique geographical and environmental features that made the harbor our nation’s most valuable commercial asset throughout four centuries,” according to Harbor Conservancy President, Marie Salerno.

Produced by Antenna Audio in the style of a public radio broadcast, Gateway to America is introduced by David Rockefeller, Jr. a co-founder of the Harbor Conservancy and whose family was instrumental in preserving open space through the National Park Service. The Gateway to America tour was the first harbor boat tour to present recorded audio commentary by National Park Service Rangers. Prominent experts like Columbia University professor, historian and editor of the Encyclopedia of New York, Kenneth T. Jackson; Daniel Libeskind, who emigrated to New York from communist Poland as a teenager and became one of the world’s leading architects; Pulitzer-Prize winning author David McCullough; and world-class swimmer Nancy Steadman Martin, (who battled the currents to swim the 28-mile circuit around Manhattan) also provide engaging remarks and insights.

Gateway to America tells stories of the five military forts, now historic icons that protected the city from invasion. The tour illuminates the harbor’s role as the portal to the American dream for generations of immigrants – including those newcomers who are still shaping the city’s future. Passengers hear sounds, special effects and original music that bring to life the drama of the thriving commercial port.

This 60-minute tour is offered daily beginning Apr. 4 – May 31 at 11am, 12:30pm, 2pm, and Jun. 1 – Sep. 30 at 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, departing from the Slip 5 in the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan, located next to the Staten Island Ferry. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Harbor Conservancy’s new ticket booth at Castle Clinton in Battery Park. Prices are: Adults: $18, Seniors (62+): $16, Children: $14, Children under 3: Free.

For more information about other affordable boat and walking tours created by the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy visit: www.nyharborparks.org.

New-York Historical Society Celebrates Immigrant Heritage


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On Tuesday, April 20 from 4:30-6:30 pm, the New-York Historical Society will participate in the citywide Immigrant Heritage Week observance with a panel discussion about the upcoming exhibition, Nueva York. During the first half of the program, curators will discuss highlights of the exhibition, which explores how Spanish-speaking people have affected virtually every aspect of the City’s development from commerce, manufacturing and transportation to communications, entertainment and the arts from as early as the 17th century through today.

The second half (45 minutes) of the program will be a workshop for teachers and others interested in exploring how this dynamic history can be brought to life for learners of all ages through a rich collection of documents, manuscripts, photographs, and multimedia resources, including film and music.

All attendees must enter the New-York Historical Society through the loading dock at 5 W 76th Street. RSVPs are welcome to schoolprograms@nyhistory.org. Admission is free.

This event will serve as a preview to Nueva York, an exhibition exploring New York’s long connection with Spain and Latin America. Organized by the New-York Historical Society and El Museo del Barrio, Nueva York will be on view from September 17, 2010, through January 9, 2011.

This year, Immigrant Heritage Week is celebrated from April 15 to April 21. Throughout the week, a collection of family friendly events, film screenings, art exhibits and walking tours will promote and reflect the diversity of the immigrant communities in our City.

Photo: Ellis Island Immigrants by National Photo Co., ca. 1909-1932. Library of Congress Photo.

Local Radio Rewarded For Polish Legacy Piece


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Buffalo radio station WBFO (88.7) has received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award by the Radio-Television News Directors Association for a story about the Polish Legacy Project (PLP), a group of people whose aim is to capture the stories of Polish survivors of World War Two while they are still alive. The piece aired last year just before the PLP’s Untold Stories Conference.

The story was produced by Joyce Kryszak. You can listen to the story and hear clips of interviews with Polish WWII survivors here.

New York And The American Jewish Experience


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The Milstein Conference on New York And The American Jewish Experience is a one day public conference celebrating history of Jewish life in New York, achievements of Jewish communal organizations, treasures of Jewish archives. Morning Sessions feature presentation on Jewish organizational archives and a roundtable discussion by Jewish agency leaders. Afternoon focuses on papers by scholars on a wide range of political, social and cultural issues and the evening session features a discussion by New York area archivists to discuss the rich resources found in New York and how to preserve them for the future.

Funded by the Milstein Family Foundation and the Howard and Abby Milstein Foundation. Organized by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in partnership with the 92nd Street Y, the Educational Alliance, F·E·G·S Health and Human Service System, NYANA and Surprise Lake Camp. Archival repositories participating: Archives of American Jewish Committee, Hadassah, HIAS, JDC, Yeshiva University and YIVO. DATE: Monday, November 2, 2009. 9:30 to 7:30 pm. Place: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 15 West 16th Street, NY.

Full details about the conference are available at www.yivo.org

ADVANCE REGISTRATON REQUIRED: RSVP: milsteinconference@yivo.cjh.org or call 212-294-6157.

Conference: Poland to Buffalo Through WWII


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The Polish Legacy Project in Buffalo will be hosting a conference, “Poland to Buffalo Through WWII: Untold Stories Come Alive” in that city on October 3rd and 4th. The aim of the conference is to highlight the stories of Polish WWII survivors who settled in Western New York as a result of the war. This is the first time an event such as this has been organized in the 60 + years that these survivors have been in this country. Up until now, they have kept their experiences to themselves and their children, speaking about them almost exclusively in Polish.

Among the survivors speaking at the conference will be: a veteran of the Warsaw Uprising, a veteran of the battle at Falaise, a survivor of Soviet labor camps and a survivor of German labor camps.

For more information visit: http://PolishLegacyBuffalo.com

Conference: Merchant Jews in The New World: 1500-1800


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The first of three annual conferences focusing on a lesser-known role played by merchants, especially Jewish merchants, in the Caribbean and major ports of Colonial America in the establishment of the United States, will be held at the ‘Center for Jewish History’ in New York City on Sunday, October 18, 2009.

The initial one-day gathering, “Merchant Jews in The New World: 1500-1800″ is being organized by ‘The Gomez Foundation for Mill House’, an organization focused upon the pioneer experience in America. The aim of this conference is to highlight current research and foster further study in this long neglected corner of New World and Colonial American history. Represented on the panels will be noted scholars in the field, including Keynote Speaker, Dr. Jonathan Ray of Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

Gomez Foundation for Mill House manages and operates one of the oldest, continuously occupied dwellings in North America, the 300-year-old ‘Gomez Mill House’ in Orange County, New York. On the National Register of Historic Places, the house was named after a Jewish merchant named Luis Moses Gomez. Other pioneers, patriots and significant owners who came after him are also honored at the house.

Gomez was born in Spain, fled with his family to Southwestern France, and came to New York by way of England and the Caribbean. His aim in building his trading post (now the house) was to help open up the Hudson River to increased trade.

The conference is open to those with both academic and non-academic backgrounds, particularly those who share an interest in the economic birth, maturity and modern expansion in the New World and early America. For further information on the conference, visit www.gomez.org.