New York City’s identity as a cultural and artistic center, as a point of arrival for millions of immigrants sympathetic to anarchist ideas, and as a hub of capitalism made the city a unique and dynamic terrain for anarchist activity. For 150 years, Gotham’s cosmopolitan setting created a unique interplay between anarchism’s human actors and an urban space that invites constant reinvention.
A new book edited by Tom Goyens’, Radical Gotham: Anarchism in New York City From Schwab’s Saloon To Occupy Wall Street (UI Press, 2017) gathers essays that demonstrate anarchism’s endurance as a political and cultural ideology and movement in New York from the 1870s to 2011.
The authors cover the gamut of anarchy’s emergence in and connection to the city. Some offer important new insights on German, Italian, and Yiddish- and Spanish-speaking anarchists. Others explore anarchism’s influence on religion, politics, and the visual and performing arts. A concluding essay looks at Occupy Wall Street’s roots in New York City’s anarchist tradition. Continue reading
Robert A. Slayton’s new book Beauty In The City: The Ashcan School (SUNY Press, 2017) takes a look back to the beginning of the twentieth century, when the Ashcan School of Art blazed onto the art scene, introducing a revolutionary vision of New York City.
In contrast to the elite artists who painted the upper class bedecked in finery, in front of magnificent structures, or the progressive reformers who photographed the city as a slum, hopeless and full of despair, the Ashcan School held the unique belief that the industrial working-class city was a fit subject for great art.
Beauty in the City illustrates how these artists portrayed the working classes with respect and gloried in the drama of the subways and excavation sites, the office towers, and immigrant housing. Their art captured the emerging metropolis in all its facets, with its potent machinery and its class, ethnic, and gender issues. Continue reading
In Who Should Rule at Home? (Cornell University Press, 2017) Joyce D. Goodfriend argues that the high-ranking gentlemen who figure so prominently in most accounts of New York City’s evolution from 1664, when the English captured the small Dutch outpost of New Amsterdam, to the eve of American Independence in 1776, were far from invincible and that the degree of cultural power they held has been exaggerated.
Goodfriend explains how the urban elite experienced challenges to its cultural authority at different times, from different groups, and in a variety of settings. Continue reading
In the new book International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train (Columbia University Press, 2017) by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum, the French ethnographer Tonnelat and his collaborator Kornblum, a native New Yorker, ride the 7 subway line to better understand the intricacies of the New York City Transit Authority 7 subway.
Nicknamed the International Express, the New York City Transit Authority 7 subway line runs through a highly diverse series of ethnic and immigrant neighborhoods in Queens. People from Andean South America, Central America, China, India, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, and Vietnam, as well as residents of a number of gentrifying blue-collar and industrial neighborhoods, fill the busy streets around the stations. The 7 train is a microcosm of a specifically urban, New York experience, in which individuals from a variety of cultures and social classes are forced to interact and get along with one another. For newcomers to the city, mastery of life in the subway space is a step toward assimilation into their new home. Continue reading
The Roosevelt Island Historical Society will host a free lecture on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 6:30 pm, “Metropolitan Hospital Goes to the Great War” by Judith Berdy, President Roosevelt Island Historical Society, at the New York Public Library Branch on Roosevelt Island .
The wounded and dying soldiers on the battlefields of the Great War required a new level of medical care. Roosevelt Island’s Metropolitan Hospital played a role as one of a number of American hospitals that sent doctors, nurses and other staff members to run base hospitals in Europe during World War I. Continue reading
In the 19th century extremely violent conflicts took place between mostly Northern Irish Protestants (Orangemen) and Irish Catholics. The Orange Riot of 1870 began on July 12 (known as Marching Day in Northern Ireland), when a parade was held in Manhattan by Irish Protestants celebrating the victory at the Battle of the Boyne of William III, the King of England and Prince of Orange, over James II in 1690. Continue reading
Tucked away on the 4th floor of a much-repurposed 1850s school building in Greenwich Village, the LGBT Community Center’s National History Archive is a cultural and historical refuge-within-a-sanctuary.
The Community Center has been operating at 208 W. 13th Street since 1983. The entire building is intended to be a safe and welcoming place “where everyone is celebrated for who they are.” Today, the Center is an effervescent hub, and sponsors a broad-range of activities and programs for the lesbian, gay and transgender community, including health and wellness, arts and entertainment, and counseling. Continue reading
On a bitterly cold January morning in 1917, the painters John Sloan and Marcel Duchamps, along with friends, climbed to the top of Washington Square Arch to proclaim the secession of Greenwich Village from the United States. Thenceforth the neighborhood that stood as America’s repository of avant-garde art, literature and social enlightenment would be known as the Free and Independent Republic of Washington Square. The stunt defined the character of the Village, as it is popularly known to New Yorkers, for the ensuing half century. Continue reading
This conflict also known as “The New York Conspiracy Riot” was an amazingly intricate and brutal affair that in addition to its local implications had an international twist as well.
In the context of the longstanding European conflicts, English colonists in New York City felt anxious about the French presence in Canada to the north and Spanish colonies in the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi River Valley to the South and West. They also felt threatened by a recent influx of Irish immigrants, whose Catholicism might incline them to spy for France and Spain. Continue reading
A standard in the field since its publication in 1992, A History of Housing in New York City traces New York’s housing development from 1850 to the present in text and profuse illustrations.
Richard Plunz explores the housing of all classes, with comparative discussion of the development of types ranging from the single-family house to the high-rise apartment tower. His analysis is placed within the context of the broader political and cultural development of New York City. Continue reading