Tag Archives: Industrial History

The Northern New York Roots of Pratt & Whitney


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01NYHFrancisPrattIn the year 2000, five years after Plattsburgh Air Force Base closed, Pratt & Whitney signed a lease, moved in, and set up shop on the former base property. Many jobs and residents had been lost in the air-base shutdown, making Pratt & Whitney a valued anchor business in the recovery effort.

Their arrival might have been a homecoming of sorts with historical significance, but persistent misinformation carried forward for more than a century appears to have robbed the region of an important link to the past. Continue reading

Hanford Mills Museum Kicks Off 42nd Season


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mill with steamHanford Mills Museum, in Delaware County, NY, will be open Wednesdays-Sundays, plus holiday Mondays, 10 am – 5 pm through October 15th. Guided tours are offered of the Mill complex, where visitors can watch the 1926 Fitz overshot waterwheel start up and provide the power for the sawmill and woodworking shop. Historic water-powered machines are operated each day, just as they were a century ago. Continue reading

Building the Erie Canal


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ben_franklins_worldA “little short of madness.” That is how Thomas Jefferson responded when two delegates from New York approached him with the idea to build the Erie Canal in January 1809.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Janice Fontanella, site manager of Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in Fort Hunter, New York, joins us to discuss the Erie Canal, its construction, and the impact that this waterway made on New York and the United States. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/028

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Women Workers In Amsterdam’s Carpet Mills


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Amersterdam Mill WorkerModestly but eloquently, Sue Fraczek described her life as an Amsterdam mill worker, “When I went to work, I was scared to death. It was my first time in a carpet mill. It was hot. It was noisy.”

Fraczek was surprised to see herself as a young mill worker in a still picture prominently featured in “Historic Views of the Carpet City,” the WMHT-TV documentary on Amsterdam first shown in 2000. Co-producer Steve Dunn chose the picture of the young woman at a yarn twisting machine to symbolize the documentary that he and I produced. Continue reading

Albany History Fair To Feature Brews, Spirits


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History Fair 304“Something’s Brewing: A Historical Look at Albany Brews & Spirits” is the theme of the 16th Annual Albany History Fair to be held at Historic Cherry Hill on Sunday, May 3, from 1 to 4 pm.

This free event will include an 18th century brewing demonstration by Harvey Alexander, music by Friends Union, house tours, exhibits, and a brewing and agricultural scavenger hunt for families, throughout the afternoon. Continue reading

Walking Tours of New Croton Dam Planned


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New_Croton_Dam_from_below wikipedia user Matthiasb“Breathtaking”, “awe inspiring”, “feel the power!” These are just a few of the comments on Trip- Advisor’s entry for the New Croton Dam, yet many who live nearby have never visited one of the Hudson Valley’s signature engineering feats.

Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct and Teaching the Hudson Valley want to change that and invite the public to visit the dam for special walking tours Thursday, April 23, at 4 pm and Saturday, April 25, at 11 am. Laura Compagni-Sabella will lead both tours, highlighting the stories of the hundreds of immigrant workers who risked life and limb to build the dam between 1892-1905. Continue reading

Computer Punch Cards And Amsterdam Carpets


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mohawkmillsMark Thomann, who has spent much of his working life on restorations of classic carpets, is skeptical of the idea that paper cards used to control carpet weaving in Amsterdam and other places directly foreshadowed development of the computer.

Thomann said, “I have heard that but always thought it a stretch. There is the similarity of the use of punch cards, with a binary system, no hole or hole which would determine position of a strand of yarn. But I have never seen evidence that someone familiar with that industrial technology was at all involved in making computers.” Continue reading

Society for Industrial Archaeology Conference In Albany


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SIAAlbany2015cover380-470x260The 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

Rise and Fall of NY’s Taylor Wine Company


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NY Taylor wineDrawing on archival research as well as interviews with many of the principal players, Thomas Pellechia’s Over a Barrel: The Rise and Fall of New York’s Taylor Wine Company (SUNY Press, 2015) traces the economic dynamism of the Finger Lakes wine region, the passion and ingenuity of the Taylor family, and the shortsighted corporate takeover scenario that took down a once-proud American family company.

In addition to providing important lessons for business innovators, Over a Barrel is a cautionary tale for a wine region that is repeating its formative history. Continue reading

Amsterdam: Short History of People’s Silk Store


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Peolple's Silk Store Amsterdam NYSamuel L. Kupferberg’s ancestors were in the fabric trade so it was only logical that he pursued that line of work. Born in Romania in 1893, Sam had 17 siblings. Two of his older brothers had started fabric businesses in New York City. Getting to America from Codaesti, Romania was an issue for Sam. During World War I Romanian Jews were confined to their villages. After the war Sam left the old country in 1920 for New York City where he worked with his oldest brother, Jacob.

In 1926 Amsterdam’s People’s Silk Store, which sold fabrics and draperies, was for sale. Sam took the train upstate, bought the business and kept the name. Continue reading