Tag Archives: Manhattan

Crossing Broadway, Washington Heights and the Promise of New York City


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Crossing BroadwayIn Crossing Broadway Washington: Heights and the Promise of New York City (Cornell University Press, 2014), Robert W. Snyder explores New York City in the 1970s.

When the South Bronx burned and the promise of New Deal New York and postwar America gave way to despair, the people of Washington Heights at the northern tip of Manhattan were increasingly vulnerable.

The Heights had long been a neighborhood where generations of newcomers — Irish, Jewish, Greek, African American, Cuban, and Puerto Rican — carved out better lives in their adopted city. But as New York City shifted from an industrial base to a service economy, new immigrants from the Dominican Republic struggled to gain a foothold. This was followed by the crack epidemic of the 1980s,  and the drug wars. Continue reading

Grand Central Terminal Offers History Video Series


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image001(12)Grand Central Terminal, which turns 103 today, has recently produced a new history video series about the iconic building. The series features Grand Central Terminal historian Dan Brucker.

Among the Grand Central treasures Brucker shines a spotlight on, are the world’s largest example of Tiffany glass; the Main Concourse ceiling; the famous Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant; the whispering gallery; and The Campbell Apartment, Grand Central Terminal’s own speakeasy. Continue reading

African American Stage Performer Ella Madison


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African American Actress and Singer, Ella Madison Ella Madison was born in 1854 in Saratoga Springs, New York. Her parents were John and Caroline Robinson. Her sister, Caroline Victoria (usually called Victoria) was married to Solomon Northup‘s son, Alonzo. (Alonzo and his family later moved to Weedsport in Cayuga County). It was reported that Ella, while a teenager, had relocated to New York City, and marched in a parade in 1869 that commemorated the passage of the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed citizenship rights to former slaves. Her mother died that year, while visiting her daughter, Caroline, in Washington County, New York. 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

Converting A Historic Jail To Women’s Activism


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Women exchanging ideas. Photo:Kathleen HulserArt deco murals, decorative brick work, mosaics – not quite what you expect to encounter at a women’s prison. The Bayview Women’s Correctional Facility at 550 West 20th Street in Manhattan was built in 1931 as a YMCA for merchant sailors. Converted to a prison, it was closed after Superstorm Sandy flooding and is now being converted to a Women’s Building. As an adaptive reuse, the main building will be preserved with some elements that reflect the history, even as the site is re-purposed as a women-focused community facility. Continue reading

New York City’s ‘Evacuation Day’ Planned


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Evacuation_of_New_York_by_the_BritishOn November 25, 1783 George Washington’s Continental army marched into New York City officially ending the Revolutionary War. Like much else about the war, the ceremonies that day were marked by controversy, but also triumph.

More than two and a half years after the joint French/American victory at Yorktown in 1781, after much wrangling over issues such as the status of New York’s numerous Tories and runaway slaves fighting for the British, Washington and British Governor Guy Carleton had agreed on arrangements for the British to turn over New York City, their last enclave in North America to the Continental army. By prearrangement, on the morning of November 25, 1783, Washington was to march down Broadway and take control of the City, just after the British and their supporters completed their withdrawal. Continue reading

South St Seaport Among America’s Endangered Places


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South Street Seaport in the 1970sThe South Street Seaport has been named one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places according the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Since 1988, the National Trust has used this campaign to raise awareness about the threats facing some of the nation’s greatest treasures.

The South Street Seaport is a designated NYC Historic District and is considered the first World Trade Center, as it was NYC’s birth place of commerce. Continue reading

July 4th Parade Returns to Lower Manhattan


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Fourth of July NYC paradeThe Lower Manhattan Historical Society (LMHS), a group formed just last August, sponsored the first Independence Day parade in almost forty years in Lower Manhattan on July 3rd.

The parade included marchers from patriotic groups such as the New York Veteran Corps of the Artillery, the Sons of the Revolution of the State of New York Color Guard,, the Color guard of various chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames of America, the French Air Force Reserves, the Chinatown partnership, and native New Yorkers. Continue reading

Lilac Arts Series Launched At NYC’s Pier 25


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Lilac Arts ExhibitThe Lilac Arts Series, a contemporary art exhibition aboard the historic ship Lilac, will run through August 15, 2015 and focus on three themes inspired by the ship’s story – “Steam”, “Work + Labor” and “Restoration/Reinvention“.  The visual art exhibition will feature the work of over 25 artists within the ship’s unique spaces, including several site-specific installations.  The exhibition and events are free and open to the public.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Lilac was built in 1933 and is America’s only surviving steam-powered lighthouse tender. Lilac is currently being restored as a unique vehicle for maritime education and community activities and is berthed at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25. Continue reading

Manhattan Plans Hermione Welcome, July 4th Festival


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hermoine leaving franceThe Lower Manhattan Historical Society (LMHS), in conjunction with the Bowling Green Association, the Sons Of the Revolution of the State of New York, the Sons of the American Revolution and Culture Now, has announced expanded historical activities in Lower Manhattan for the July 4, 2015 weekend.

On July 1, the Hermione, the full life replica of the ship which the Marquis de Lafayette sailed in 1780 to help save the American Revolution, will arrive at Pier 16 of the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan as part of its voyage to cities on the Eastern Seaport. Continue reading

At Morris-Jumel Mansion, The Story of Eliza Jumel


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Morris-Jumel MansionEliza Jumel rose from poverty to become one of New York’s richest women with the help of a fortune acquired from her first husband, Stephen Jumel. His own origins, until now shrouded in mystery, will be revealed in an illustrated lecture at the Morris-Jumel Mansion on Saturday, May 16, at 2 pm.

Speaker Margaret A. Oppenheimer, author of a forthcoming, legend-busting biography of Eliza, will disclose previously unknown details of Stephen’s parentage and youth. Continue reading

How Audubon Park Disrupted Manhattan’s Grid


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Audubon Park from NW-Feb 1899The distinctive footprint that disrupts Manhattan’s grid west of Broadway between 155th and 158th Streets – the Audubon Park Historic District – did not come about by accident or from the demands of local topography. It unfolded from careful planning and alliances among like-minded property owners, whose social and political connections ensured that when progress swept up Manhattan’s west side, they would benefit.

As a result, Riverside Drive splits at 155th Street where its 1911 branch snakes across the grid to 158th Street while its 1928 branch pushes straight up the river. At the same time, Edward M. Morgan Place – a one-block remnant of the earlier Boulevard Lafayette – slices across Audubon Park’s eastern side, severing a corner from what was once a geographically unified suburban enclave. Continue reading

One of America’s Most Prominent Doctors


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Alfred Loomis Oval (1)It was Saturday, January 26, 1895, and throngs of mourners were gathered at the Church of the Incarnation in Manhattan for the funeral of one of America’s most prominent doctors.

Dr. Alfred Lebbeus Loomis, who had revolutionized the way tuberculosis was treated in this country, had died on January 23rd, just two days after his own personal physician had ordered him confined to bed because of a spiking fever.   Dr. Loomis, diagnosed with tuberculosis some thirty years earlier, had contracted pneumonia, and would never recover.  Continue reading

New York History’s Most Famous Nurse?


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Portrait_of_Lillian_WaldThere are several claimants to the title of New York’s most famous nurse. That distinction probably can be laid at the feet of Long Island native Walt Whitman, though it was not his nursing skills during the Civil War that garnered him his fame. Some might argue it is the still not positively identified nurse who was photographed in Times Square celebrating the surrender of Japan in 1945 through a passionate kiss from a sailor. Again, though, it was not her skills as a nurse that earned her recognition. Another contender was Mary Breckinridge, whose Frontier Nursing Service brought healthcare to poor rural America. While her fame came about as a result of her nursing, she was born in Tennessee and gained her fame in Kentucky, only acquiring her nursing education in New York.

I happen to believe the title of New York’s most famous nurse belongs to Lillian Wald. Though born in Cincinnati, her family brought her to New York as a girl. She would spend the rest of her life there, gaining fame for her work in bringing healthcare to the poorest of New York’s immigrant population. Even after her death in 1940 her impact on New York continued to be felt, and her legacy lives on to this day. Continue reading

19th Century NYC Travelers Talk, Exhibit


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Hooker's Map (showing places of interest)The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden will host a lunchtime lecture about James Stuart and other travelers to New York City, this Friday, January 9th at 12:30 pm.

James Stuart was a guest at the Mount Vernon Hotel during his stay in New York City in 1833. His travel diary attracted considerable attention for the generally positive reviews he offered on American society compared with his British contemporaries. Continue reading

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