Tag Archives: Labor History

Buffalo’s Dug’s Dive Riot of 1863


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dugs-dive-buffaloNot much has been written about this civil disturbance that occurred on the afternoon of August 12, 1862 when Irish and German stevedores protested against local dock bosses, demanding increased pay for their work, and preventing others from working however when police responded the rioters overpowered them and Chief Dullard and other members of the force injured.

Ultimately the police regained control of the situation with gunfire wounding two rioters and arresting the ring leaders. Continue reading

The Devil’s Kitchen: Warren County’s Nightmare for Drivers


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devilskitchenThe colorful name Devil’s Kitchen has been used in numerous book titles, restaurant names, and for hiking destinations in at least seven states. Close to home in upstate New York, we have a Catskill version, described here as “quite possibly the most hellacious [bicycle] climb in New York State.” The same area, with cliffs, numerous waterfalls, and slippery slopes, has seen many hiker deaths as well.

But there’s another Devil’s Kitchen farther north, located about midway on Route 9 between Chestertown and Warrensburg. Despite lacking the cliffs and stunning landscapes featured at other identically named places, deaths have occurred at the Adirondack site—which today exists in name only. Continue reading

NYC Lecture Series Begins With ‘East River’ Thursday


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east river mapThe Roosevelt Island Historical Society begins its Fall Lecture Series with a presentation on the commercial and cultural significance of the river and channel that surround Roosevelt Island and separate Manhattan and Queens.

Bob Singleton, Executive Director of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, will cover the East River from Governors Island to Fort Totten in a lecture at the New York Public Library Branch on Roosevelt Island, on Thursday, September 8, 2016, at 6:30 pm. Continue reading

Revolutionary War Army Trades Weekend at Saratoga Battlefield


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ArtificersThe Saratoga National Historical Park (Saratoga Battlefield) will show Revolutionary War army trades at work, on Saturday and Sunday, July 16 and 17, from 10 am to 4 pm.

Armies had a lot more to do than fight in the Revolutionary War. They employed and contracted with a variety of professional tradesmen and women who worked to provide and repair supplies needed by the troops. Blacksmiths made and repaired ironwork; Tailors sewed and fixed clothing; Woodworkers built and fixed wheels and artillery carriages; Tinsmiths made artillery cartridge casings; and Cordwainers made shoes for the troops. Continue reading

Remembering The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire


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The figure of death on the Asch BuildingIn his short novel, Washington Square, Henry James wrote about New York women of the Gilded Age; elegant ladies who strolled the sidewalks of the city’s shopping district, Ladies’ Mile.

These New York women admired window displays of shirtwaists, an elegant button-down blouse with rows of tiny and elaborate tucks. The shirtwaist was favored by New York women as a symbol of chic modernity. But the silhouette of fashionable ladies came at a price paid by their downtrodden sisters, immigrant women living in the city’s tenements. These newest New York women worked long hours for low wages in the city’s notorious sweatshops. Continue reading

A NY Woman Who Belongs On The $20 Bill


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800px-Frances_Perkins_cph.3a04983Recently the Treasury Department has announced its intent to place a prominent woman of historical importance on the U.S. currency. There is no one who is more deserving of this honor than Frances Perkins, a New York woman, who was probably the most significant and important female government official of the 20th century.

As Secretary of Labor throughout President Franklin Roosevelt’s four terms and the first woman ever to hold a cabinet position, Frances Perkins designed most of the New Deal Social Welfare and Labor Policies, such as social security, the minimum wage, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and protections for unions, and reshaped America. Continue reading

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and NYC’s Minority Plumbers


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01Minority PlumbersShifting alliances can make strange bedfellows and surprising adversaries. The push to integrate the New York City Plumbers Union as the Civil Rights Act was cobbled together 50 years ago shows how our perceptions and expectations can change with time.

Not long before the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, construction began on what is now the Hunt’s Point Food Distribution Center, the largest food distribution complex in the world. Full integration of the union workers at Hunts Point, supported by many, might have derailed or undermined this important legislation. Continue reading

Special Downton Abbey Tours at Staatsburgh


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image003Fans of the popular PBS television series can enjoy a “Downton Abbey experience” at Staatsburgh State Historic Site (also known as Mills Mansion) this fall.

The site will present two different tours that compare Staatsburgh to Downton Abbey. Staatsburgh, the turn-of-the-century home of socialite Ruth Livingston Mills and her husband, industrialist Ogden Mills, was a real-life American version of the British drama. Continue reading