In the film Back to the Future Part II (1989), the characters of Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future year of 2015. Not to go too far into the plot (which many of you may already know), while in the future Marty gets the idea to buy a sports almanac to bring back from the future and make money betting on sports. But before they leave 2015 (October 21st to be exact) Doc discovers the almanac and gives the reasoning behind the building of his time machine. Doc say to Marty: “I didn’t invent the time machine for financial gain. The intent here is to gain a clear perspective on humanity. Where we have been. Where we are going. The pitfalls and the possibilities. The perils and the promise of perhaps an answer to that universal question – why?” Continue reading
The New Jersey Historical Commission is now accepting nominations for the Mildred Barry Garvin Prize, an annual award given to a New Jersey teacher, guidance counselor, or school librarian for outstanding teaching of African American history at an grade level between kindergarten and high school.
The prize ($1,500) is also awarded to individuals demonstrating outstanding performance in a related activity such as developing curriculum materials. Continue reading
One of the news items in a recent summary of “This Week’s Top New York History News” here at The New York History Blog had a link to an article from the Albany Times Union (reprinted from the New York Times), entitled “New York Won’t Celebrate 350th Birthday.” The article noted that neither the city nor the state was commemorating the takeover of New Netherland by the British in August, 1664.
The writer suggested that “a dispassion for the past” among the public was a basic explanation. Continue reading
“The building can be redesigned. The Palisades and the Hudson River cannot.”
This simple statement closed an op-ed by four former New Jersey governors in the New York Times last week. In the piece, the governors — two Democrats and two Republicans — write about the threat LG’s proposed tower in Englewood Cliffs would pose to the Palisades, and they highlight a win-win solution: Continue reading
Like many historical events, the American Revolution is often shrouded in romantic myth and stubborn stereotypes. Perhaps no event offers a better example than General George Washington’s famous crossing of icy Delaware River on Christmas night to lead the Continental Army’s defeat of the Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey, an event which revived the flickering morale American revolutionaries.
In George Washington’s Surprise Attack: A New Look at the Battle That Decided the Fate of America (Skyhorse Publishing, 2014), Phillip Thomas Tucker attempts to parse fiction from fact. He provides an in-depth look (more than 600 pages, with notes) at the events of the Battle of Trenton, presenting new insights and analysis about a battle that holds a mythical place in American national history. Continue reading
Drivers exiting the New Jersey Turnpike for Perth Amboy, and map readers marveling at all the places in Pennsylvania named Lackawanna, need no longer wonder how these names originated.
Manhattan to Minisink: American Place Names in Greater New York and Vicinity (University of Oklahoma Press, 2013) provides the histories of more than five hundred place names in the Greater New York area, including the five boroughs, western Long Island, the New York counties north of the city, and parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Robert S. Grumet, a leading ethnohistorian specializing in the region’s Indian peoples, draws on his meticulous research and deep knowledge to determine the origins of Native, and Native-sounding, place names. Continue reading
Thomas Alva Edison, one of the leading innovators of all time comes alive like never before in Edison and the Rise of Innovation (Sterling, 2013) by Leonard DeGraaf. Perhaps America’s first business celebrity, Edison was more than history’s most prolific inventor.
Edison pursued more than a thousand patents by combining scientific knowledge, well-equipped laboratories, talented collaborators, investment capital and a bit of showmanship, according to DeGraaf, who argues that in the process Edison changed the way we innovate new technologies. Continue reading
In a lawsuit filed by two public interest groups and four individuals, Judge Alexander Carver of the New Jersey Superior Court yesterday upheld the grant of a variance to LG Electronics that would allow it to construct a 143-foot tower atop the Hudson River Palisades, four times higher than the 35-foot height limit respected for decades by all other companies.
The variance, approved by the Borough of Englewood Cliffs in February 2012, authorizes construction of a building that would rise 80 feet above the tree line, ending an unbroken natural sweep of the Palisades north of Fort Lee. Despite this, the court ruled that the Englewood Cliffs Planning Board had not abused its authority in granting the variance that exempted the LG tower. Continue reading
The Delaware Company’s president John Conway (Sullivan County Historian), invited me to speak at the newly formed nonprofit’s inaugural fundraising gala this week at the historic Ardmore Mansion/Mountain View Manor, in Glen Spey, the day after the NYSHA annual conference in Cooperstown ended.
The mission of The Delaware Company is to promote and support the history and historic landmarks of the Upper Delaware River Valley through education, outreach, and fundraising. Also speaking were U.S. Representative Chris Gibson and NYS Legislator Aileen Gunther. The audience consisted of various county and local officials, municipal historians, historic organizations, and at least one teacher, a true sampling of the history community in the region. Continue reading
Paper and panel proposals are invited for a conference on “From Conquest to Identity: New Jersey and the Middle Colonies in the Seventeenth Century,” to be co-sponsored by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the New Jersey
Historical Commission, and Kean University and to be held in Trenton, New Jersey, on March 27–29, 2014.
Confirmed participants include Charles Gehring, Evan Haefeli, Ned C. Landsman, Robert C. Ritchie, and the members of the program committee: Wayne Bodle, Stanley N. Katz, Christian Koot, Maxine N. Lurie, Jonathan Mercantini, Daniel K. Richter, and Cynthia Van Zandt. Continue reading