Tag Archives: New York City

NYC Lecture: World War One and Modern Veteran Care


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Disabled World War One veteran pan handling Unknown photographer, Um Spenden bittender Kriegsinvalide, Germany, after 1918 - source Deutsches Historisches MuseumThe New York Academy of Medicine in New York City will host a lecture by Beth Linker on The Great War and Modern Veteran Care on Thursday, September 28 from 6 to 7:30 pm.

Popularly known as “The War to End All Wars,” the First World War was also the war to end all disability. Determined to curtail the human and economic costs of military conflict, the United States and many other belligerent nations instituted programs of physical and vocational rehabilitation in order to make injured men more whole again, so that they could fit back more seamlessly into civilian society.

This talk will trace the practice and ethic of the rehabilitative model of veteran care, with an eye toward showing how it later became commodified as part of America’s ongoing commitment to pursuing a militaristic foreign policy.  Continue reading

Eldridge Street Synagogue Restoration in Photographs


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museum at eldridge streetThe Museum at Eldridge Street will open a new exhibition, “Rediscovery, Restoration & Renewal: The Eldridge Street Synagogue in Photographs,” on Thursday, September 14 from 6 to 8 pm with an opening reception.

Ten years ago, the restoration of the Eldridge Street Synagogue was completed. After a 20-year, $20 million effort, the building was brought back from the verge of collapse to stand once again as glorious as it had been when it opened in 1887.   Continue reading

New Amsterdam in the Dutch Atlantic Event in NYC


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Map of New Netherland and New England, with north to the rightOn Monday November 6, 2017, historians Wim Klooster and Dennis J. Maika will present “New Amsterdam In The Dutch Atlantic: A Dialogue About Trade and Entrepreneurship on the 17th Century World Stage.”

The presenters will exchange ideas and perceptions on such topics as the operation of both state-sponsored commercial monopolies and private entrepreneurship, the practical aspects of arranging trade, cooperation as well as competition between representatives of European empires, the impact of “sustained warfare” in the seventeenth century, and finally, the Dutch commercial legacy in both the Atlantic World and New York. A Q&A will follow. Continue reading

Sullivan County’s Most Notorious Native


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Lt Charles E Becker in his NYPD uniform shortly before his arrest on a murder charge in 1912On August 2, 1915, Charles E. Becker was laid to rest in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, just two days after he had become the first police officer ever executed for murder in this country.

Charles E. Becker may well be the most notorious native of Sullivan County ever. Born on July 26, 1870 in Callicoon Center – he lived and worked on the family farm there until he was 21 – he became known as the most corrupt cop in New York City history, was tried and convicted twice of a high profile murder he quite likely did not commit, and was eventually executed in the Sing Sing electric chair – not without incident – on July 30. 1915.

But there’s a lot more to the Becker saga than that. Continue reading

Law & Disorder: The Chaotic Birth Of The NYPD


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law and order book coverIn his new book Law & Disorder: The Chaotic Birth Of The NYPD (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) historian Bruce Chadwick argues that rampant violence led to the founding of the first professional police force in New York City.

Chadwick paints a picture of a bloody and violent city, where race relations and an influx of immigrants boiled over into riots, street gangs roved through town with abandon, and thousands of bars, prostitutes, and gambling emporiums clogged the streets.

Chadwick says that in the 19th century the crime rate was triple what it is today and the murder rate was five or six times as high. The drive to establish law and order involved some of New York’s biggest personalities, including mayor Fernando Wood and journalist Walt Whitman. Continue reading

Strange Phenomena: The New York Railroad Storm


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Shining Auroral CloudRecently a study of the cause of “bright nights” – evenings on which the sky gives enough light to read a book or newspaper – appeared in Geophysical Research Letters before being reported in a number of newspapers and popular scientific publications. Part of the story’s appeal is undoubtedly the claim that such strange phenomena have been experienced repeatedly and regularly throughout history.

Pliny the Elder, for instance, is said to have described the appearance of a “nocturnal sun” and the transformation of night into day, while an 1842 description recalls ne’er-do- wells exposed by a midnight at once transformed into midafternoon. The letters of mid-19th century Parisians reported surprise at being able to make out people and objects previously obscured by shadow. The reports of a Copenhagen observatory of the early 20th include a more scientific accounting. That such astronomical oddities, though infrequent, occur regularly would suggest that New York ought to have had its share of bright nights. Continue reading

A Remarkable WWII Veteran With NYC Ties


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the indestructible manA new book about a little-known hero of World War II — and one with strong ties to the New York City area — has just been published by local writer David Rocco. Rocco has recently co-authored the book The Indestructible Man (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017), the story of Navy officer Dixie Kiefer, who was an instrumental player in major battles in World War II. Kiefer was the executive officer on the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown at both the Battle of the Coral Sea and Battle of Midway. He was the last man off Yorktown before she sank at Midway.

Though seriously injured, he swam through shark-infested waters pushing a life raft filled with hurt sailors toward a rescue ship. Later, as captain of the carrier USS Ticonderoga, his ship came under attack by kamikaze aircraft. Though critically wounded by flying shrapnel, he remained on the bridge, overseeing counter-attacks and damage control for twelve hours. Continue reading

Brooklyn Ghost Ship: Revolutionary War British Prison Ship HMS Jersey


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Brooklyn Prison ShipA new book by Robert P. Watson, The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn (Da Capo Press, 2017) tells the story of a prison ship employed by the British during the American Revolution.

Moored off the coast of Brooklyn until the end of the war, the derelict ship, the HMS Jersey, held thousands of Americans either captured by the British or accused of disloyalty.

Crammed below deck – one thousand men at a time – without light or fresh air, the prisoners were scarcely fed food and water. Disease ran rampant and human waste fouled the air as prisoners were held at the mercy of British and Hessian guards. Continue reading

The Erie Canal, New York City, and Democratic Government


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Erie Canal

Along the Erie Canal, Buffalo, N.Y. (No. M 71, Buffalo News Co., Buffalo, N.Y.) courtesy ErieCanal.org

On July 4, 1817, at Rome, New York on a site now occupied by the Worthington Industries Steel plant, there was a ceremony allegedly turning the first spade of earth on the construction of the Erie Canal, one of the most important public works projects in history.

As we approach the Bicentennial of the Canal’s construction, we would do well to better understand this history and its importance. On July 2, 2017 there will be a march through Lower Manhattan sponsored by the Lower Manhattan Historical Association celebrating this event. Continue reading