This week on “The Historians” podcast, Reverend Walter Smith of Lisbon in northern New York discusses his lifelong fascination with railroads. Reverend Smith writes the “Reminiscing” column in the Bulletin of the Bridge Line Historical Society, a railroad enthusiast publication that emphasizes the history of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad.
Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading
On Sunday, March 19, Roosevelt Island Historical Society president Judy Berdy will lead a tour of the three new Second Avenue Subway Stations in New York City: 72nd, 86th and 96th Streets.
This tour provides an opportunity to admire the artwork and innovation of this dramatic expansion of public transportation. Continue reading
Abraham Van Santvoord, a descendent of one of the earliest Dutch settlers in Albany, was born in Schenectady on December 18, 1784. At the age of 14, he worked with his granduncle John Post who owned a shipping business in Utica. Since, at the time, there were few roadways, and the ones they had were snow covered in the winter and mud bogs in the spring, most shipping was done by water.
Van Santvoord successfully ran a shipping business on the Mohawk River. During the War of 1812, he contracted with agents of General Stephen Van Rensselaer of Albany to store and ship provisions westward on the Mohawk to support Van Rensselaer’s troops planning to invade Canada. Continue reading
The afternoon I crashed my Yellow Cab into a fire hydrant in West 17th Street I discovered that Gotham Hospital, where I happened to be born, had long ceased to exist. That was not the hospital blown up by The Joker in The Dark Knight. Mine was quietly shut and bulldozed in the 1960s. But this perhaps helps explain a Batman fixation that endures to this day, the 77th birthday of Gotham’s caped hero. Continue reading
Lifelong train enthusiast Paul Shinal will present an illustrated lecture on the “Auburn Road” in Theater Mack on Tuesday, November 15 at 7 pm, at the Cayuga Museum.
Shinal will be presenting an historic overview of the railway that still exists today from Canandaigua to Geneva, through Auburn and into Solvay. Continue reading
Bruce Jackson’s new book American Chartres: Buffalo’s Waterfront Grain Elevators (Excelsior Editions. 2016) documents Buffalo’s surviving grain elevators, capturing these monumental buildings in all seasons and in various light; from the Buffalo River, the Ship Canal, and Lake Erie; from inside and from the top floors and roofs; in detail.
Invented in Buffalo by Robert Dunbar and Joseph Dart, the city’s first grain elevator went operational in 1843. By the mid-1850s, Buffalo was the world’s largest grain port, and would remain so well into the twentieth century. Grain elevators made Buffalo rich, and they were largely responsible for the development of the Port of New York. Continue reading
When it comes to traffic signals, most people overlook them, but many are unaware that there is a history behind them.
Steven Gembara’s new book New York City’s Red and Green Lights: a Brief Look Back in Time (FastPencil, 2015) offers a unique perspective on the two-color traffic signal’s existence in the 20th century in New York City and how it helped evolved the city’s streets to what they are in the modern day. Continue reading
A stakeholder process to determine the design and operation of the recreational trail between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake on the Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor has begun, according to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Bob Stegemann.
The core stakeholder groups consist of the executive elected official or designee of the four towns and three villages along the trail, a representative from the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates and representatives from the three primary user groups – cross country skiers, bicyclist and snowmobilers. Continue reading
Shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, it was realized that airmarks could be used by enemy planes, so the order was given to remove 2,500 airmarks that stood within 150 miles of the nation’s coasts. Six weeks later, those marks were obliterated, undoing six years of labor—but shortly after, the blanket order was modified. Why? The absence of airmarks was causing military pilot trainees to become lost. The new order allowed airmarks within 50 miles of flight training airfields.
The national program resumed after the war, with improved methods (including government-supplied plywood templates for lettering) and greater participation, but it’s truly remarkable that despite historic advances in communications and airplanes, the airmark system remained in use into the 1970s.
If you’re old enough to have flown locally back then, you might recall some North Country rooftop markings, some of which are listed below with their year of origin. Most were maintained until the system became outdated. Continue reading
On May 17, 1816, the State’s Canal Commissioners met in New York City. This was their first meeting since being reauthorized by the legislature on April 17th, just a few weeks earlier. Five commissioners were appointed by the legislature – Stephen Van Rensselaer, DeWitt Clinton, Samuel Young, Joseph Ellicott and Myron Holley. Several of them had been canal commissioners since 1810. During that period they had surveyed much of the route in person and had kept the dream of the waterway alive during the intervening dismal years of war on their frontier (War of 1812). At the May 17th meeting the commissioners initiated actions that ensured that construction of the Erie Canal would begin a year later. Continue reading