Tag Archives: Urban History

Museum of the City of NY Reopens Research Access


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The Museum of the City of New York has reopened access to it’s collections to onsite researchers. On November 1, the Museum resumes accepting appointments from outside researchers and began offering a dedicated space for research as part of their newly renovated collection storage facilities.

To learn how to submit an application for conducting onsite research, send a request to research@mcny.org. In your request indicate the collections of interest and describe your research need. Before contacting the Museum to inquire about a research appointment, visit the Museum’s Collections Portal (collections.mcny.org) which has over 100,000 digital images of photographs, negative, prints, drawings, postcards, and maps from the Museum’s collections.

The following onsite collections will be open to research appointments:

Manuscripts & Ephemera
Manuscript and ephemera holdings augment and complement other elements of the collections and are particularly strong in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century materials. The Manuscripts include papers related to notable New Yorkers, organizations, and events from the 17th century to the present. The ephemera collections include objects such as society dinner menus, trade cards, maps, Valentines, badges, Christmas cards, and material related to public ceremonies, special events, schools, sports, the shipping trade, transportation, statues and monuments, retail trade, and the police and fire departments.

Prints, Drawings, and Photographs
The Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Collection documents the built environment of the city and its changing cultural, political, and social landscape from its earliest days to the present. Photographic holdings include collections on Berenice Abbott, Jacob Riis, and the photographic archives of Gottscho-Scheleisner, LOOK Magazine, Byron Co., and the Wurts Brothers. Drawings range from18th-century pastel portraits and mural studies to political cartoons and architectural renderings. Specific collections include the archives of the Planning Board of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the Harry T. Peters Collection of hand-colored Currier & Ives prints, and the Martin Wong Graffiti Collection.

Theater
The Theater Collection documents theatrical activity in New York City from the late 18th century to the present day. The heart of the Theater holdings is the John Golden Archive, which consists of approximately 40,000 folders, organized into files on productions, personalities, and performance spaces. The Theater Collection also holds collections on Burlesque, Circus, Minstrelsy, and Vaudeville. Files contain a wide range of material including photographs, contracts, correspondence, playbills, manuscripts, advertising materials, reviews, obituaries, clippings, sheet music, autographs, account records, prompt books, and ephemera.

The Museum also holds collections of Costumes and Textiles, Decorative Arts and Furniture, and Paintings and Sculpture; however, due to the special preparation necessary for handling these objects, access is extremely limited. For specific inquiries into these collections, email research@mcny.org

NYC Landmarks of Labor Films, Lectures, Discussions


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The Historic Districts Council has announced a series of Films, lectures and discussions on NYC’s sites Associated with the Labor Movement. The series of programs will explore New York City’s 19th and 20th century buildings where laborers and organizers lived, worked, and staged notable events related to the labor movement. Participants will learn about the history and future of New York’s labor buildings – including homes, factories, and public squares – and discover the preservation efforts currently underway to save some of these spaces.

Tickets for the entire series are available for $55/$35 for Friends, seniors & students. Advance reservations are required. Tickets can be ordered by visiting or contacting www.hdc.org, 212-614-9107 or hdc@hdc.org.

Remembering the Spatial History of Labor: Where Are Our Landmarks?
Wednesday, November 2, 6:30pm, Seafarers and International House, 123 East 15th Street, 2nd Floor, Manhattan

Fee: $15 for general public/$10 for Friends, seniors & students

This panel will examine the built environment of the labor movement, discussing how and why to preserve significant buildings and sites associated with labor history. Panelists will delve into both cultural and social history such as waterfront laborers and the labor movement among different immigrant groups. Speakers include historians Joyce Mendelsohn and Richard A. Greenwald; and novelist and essayist Peter Quinn, chronicler of Irish-America.

Resistance in Film: Screening of On the Waterfront with discussion

Tuesday, November 8, 6:30pm, Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, Manhattan

Fee: $15 for general public/$10 for Friends, seniors & students

The industrial history of New York City dominated the city’s commerce for more than three centuries. Elia Kazan’s acclaimed film, On the Waterfront, depicts midcentury working conditions along the mob-controlled piers of the Hudson River. The film is based on a 24-part Pulitzer prize-winning series in the New York Sun exposing corruption and racketeering characterizing operations on the water. Noted architectural historian Francis Morrone will speak after the film about its significance in New York City history and culture.

Greenwich Village: Labor History in Bohemia Walking Tour

Sunday, November 13, 10:30am, the exact location for the tour will be announced upon registration.Tour lasts approximately two hours.

Fee: $35 for general public/$25 for Friends, seniors & students
Greenwich Village has a long and distinguished involvement in American Labor History. This walking tour will address the 10,000 marchers in the first Labor Day Parade (1882), the Socialist-led Rand School of Social Science, the founding site of the ILGWU, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the Uprising of 20,000, the Catholic Worker, Cooper Union, and sites associated with Emma Goldman, John Reed, Margaret Sanger, Clara Lemlich, and Samuel Gompers. Come learn from Justin Ferate, one of New York City’s foremost tour guides, about these significant sites.

Landmarks of Labor is sponsored in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts. HDC also wishes to thank New York City Council Members Inez Dickens, Daniel Garodnick, Stephen Levin and Rosie Mendez for their support of this series.

Tunnel Engineer Charles Watson Murdock


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By most accounts, the Lincoln Tunnel is the world’s busiest vehicular tunnel (the type used by cars and trucks). It actually consists of three tunnels, or tubes, and accommodates about 43 million vehicles per year, or about 120,000 per day. It was opened in 1937, ten years after the Holland Tunnel (about three miles south) began handling traffic. And a North Country man was instrumental to the success of both tunnel systems.

Charles Watson Murdock, a native of Crown Point, New York, worked closely with some of the best engineers in American history, playing a key role in solving a problem unique to tunnels for vehicles with gasoline-powered engines.

Charles was born on February 11, 1889, to Andrew and Mary Murdock. After entering the Sherman Collegiate Institute (a prep school in Moriah), he attended Middlebury College in Vermont, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree, and then RPI in Troy, graduating in 1912 as a civil engineer. Following a stint with the New York Telephone Company, he accepted a position with the Public Service Commission, 1st District, New York City in 1913.

During the next several years, a pressing problem developed in Murdock’s field of work. The automobile had taken hold in America, and with the proliferation of cars in New York City, gridlock became routine. There were far too many vehicles on the road, clogging thoroughfares with major traffic jams, particularly at bridges.

Ferries helped, but the wait was long. The solution of adding more bridges and more ferries carried several additional problems. After studying the issues, experts decided that tunnels were the best option.

Plenty of tunnels had been dug in the past to accommodate trains, water pipelines, and subway systems. The advent of the automobile introduced new problems in anything but the shortest of tunnels. The gasoline engine emitted poisonous gases, primarily carbon monoxide. The problem vexing engineers was how to discharge those deadly gases from tunnels to make the air safe.

No method had yet been devised to fill long tunnels (like the planned 1.6-mile Holland) with safe and breathable air. Slow traffic, stalled cars, and accidents could keep citizens within a tunnel for lengthy periods. All the while, every vehicle would be pumping poisonous gas into an enclosed space, with deadly results.

From among several options, the method proposed by Clifford Holland was chosen. On his team of engineers was Charles Murdock, who was then employed by the New York State Bridge and Tunnel Commission and the New Jersey Interstate Bridge and Tunnel Commission. (Clifford Holland died just two days before the two tunnels from east and west were joined. The project was renamed in his honor.)

Several dozen structures requiring innovative and exceptional engineering skills have been called “the Eighth Wonder of the World.” Among them is the Holland Tunnel, “the world’s first mechanically ventilated underwater vehicular tunnel.” That long-winded description is very important—the Holland’s machine-powered air-handling system became the standard blueprint for automobile tunnels the world over for the next seven decades.

Charles Murdock was deeply involved in its design, development, and implementation. In 1921, he conducted subway ventilation tests at the University of Illinois. Further work—highly detailed, exhaustive experimentation—was done in a test tunnel created in an old mine near Bruceton, Pennsylvania, duplicating the Holland site. The data from those testing facilities formed a basis for the creation of the Holland Tunnel’s ventilation system.

In the process, the engineering team also developed and used the first reliable automated carbon monoxide detector (with kudos from miners and canaries alike, no doubt).

The giant tubes that formed the highway tunnels were separated into three horizontal layers. The middle layer handled traffic; the bottom layer conducted fresh air throughout the tunnel; and the top layer pulled the poisonous gases upward for removal.

The system was driven by four 10-story ventilation towers, two on each side of the river. Together they housed 84 fans of 8 feet in diameter—half provided fresh air, which flowed through slits in the tunnel floor, and the other half expelled “dirty” air and gases skyward. The system provided a complete change in the tunnel’s air every 90 seconds.

Should it ever fail, thousands of lives were at risk. For that reason, extreme safety measures were built into the system. Power to the fans was supplied from six independent sources, three on each side of the river, and each capable of powering the entire tunnel on its own.

Due to Murdock’s great expertise, he was later chosen to oversee the installation of the ventilation system on the Lincoln Tunnel. Fifty-six fans performed the air-handling duties, and twenty men covered three shifts around the clock, monitoring the carbon monoxide instruments. Motorists commented that the air they breathed in the Lincoln Tunnel was far cleaner than what they breathed daily in the city.

In 1938, the year after the Lincoln Tunnel opened, Murdock’s presentation, “Ventilating the Lincoln Vehicular Tunnel” was made before the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, setting the standard for similar tunnels around the world.

By 1947, ten years after the Lincoln Tunnel opened, Murdock’s work was praised as a modern wonder. It had operated perfectly for a full decade—none of the backup systems were called into use during that time.

Though he was known principally for his work on the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels from the 1920s through the 1960s, Murdock’s skills were called upon for many other large projects. He was a consulting mechanical engineer on the addition of second tunnels to four sites on the Pennsylvania Turnpike—the Allegheny, Blue Mountain, Kittatinny, and Tascarora tunnels.

Among jobs in other states, Murdock consulted on the East River Mountain Tunnel in West Virginia; Big Walker Mountain Tunnel in Virginia; and the Baltimore Tunnel (Outer Tunnel) in Maryland. He also worked on the Riverfront & Elysian Fields Expressway in Louisiana, and Route I-695’s Connector D in Boston.

Charles Murdock remained with the Port Authority of New York for more than 25 years. The Crown Point native is linked to some of the most important engineering work of the twentieth century. He died in Volusia, Florida in 1970 at the age of 81.

Photo Top: Charles Watson Murdock.

Photo Middle: The three layers in the Lincoln Tunnel tubes.

Photo Bottom: A Lincoln Tunnel ventilation tower in Manhattan.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Lafayette Spaulding: Fiddlin’ Around on Broadway


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Ol’ time, foot-stompin’ fiddle music is a North Country staple, rooted in times past when people made their own fun. Its heyday was principally from the mid-1800s to the 1940s, finally giving way in the post-World War II years to the automobile and widespread availability of electricity. Sources of entertainment changed, but before that, the tradition of barn dances and the like was strong across the Adirondacks.

For the past seventy years or so, that tradition has been preserved by a number of outstanding musicians, and it continues today with young Dorothy Jane Siver. Back in the 1950s and 60s, when some of the old tunes were rolled out, it brought back memories of Crown Point’s Lafayette Spaulding.

Born in Ironville (about six miles southwest of Crown Point village in Essex County) in 1830, Spaulding worked on the family farm and at the same time developed a strong interest in music. As an adult, he continued on both paths, operating his own farm in Crown Point while broadening his musical skills. For a time he was the Crown Point Lighthouse keeper, but he farmed most of his life.

The gigs he did as a young boy—parties and dances—confirmed a burgeoning talent. That led to appearances at taverns, dance halls, hotels, wedding receptions, and performances in musical presentations. But he didn’t neglect the smaller venues. Whether you called it a hop, a parlor dance, a kitchen dance, or a barn dance—if it was somewhere in the vicinity of Crown Point, Lafayette Spaulding was the guy to call.

The name itself has a great ring to it, as did his wife’s (Abigail Spaulding). Cora was the name chosen for their daughter, but nothing nearly so normal for their two sons—Viceroy and Vilroy.

By 1860 Lafayette was the pre-eminent dance caller around, and for the next thirty years, his music brought joy to thousands. There was some extra money to be made doing it, but Spaulding was driven by a love for music and performing.

His showmanship was memorable, characterized by two main features. First, he would gladly play once his seating was properly prepared—a chair placed atop a table.

That afforded him full view of the dance floor, which led to another of Lafayette’s favorite pastimes—correcting any dancers who messed up the steps. Spotting an offender, he would stop the music, and to great exaggeration and lots of laughter, Spaulding would correct everyone, offering proper instructions before the music resumed. He managed a running commentary even while calling the dance. The public loved it.

By the mid-1890s, Lafayette was a local legend and had friends beyond count. He was in great demand, and though it seemed like he should be slowing down at the age of 65 (life expectancy then was 48), the best—or at least the biggest—was yet to come.

In late 1899, Spaulding was approached by J. Wesley Rosenquest, manager of the 14th Street Theatre in New York City. Rosenquest had already completed two highly successful runs of The Village Postmaster, a play written by Alice Ives and Jerome Eddy. The story was based on traditional New England life, and Act 2 began with a dance scene. Lafayette was to play the fiddle and call the dance. The skill he had developed in his own act (correcting dancers) was put to use in choreographing the scene.

He joined the theatre company at Troy to rehearse, and a month later, at Christmas, the show opened in New York City to a packed house. The success continued to rave reviews in The New York Times and other newspapers. Said one writer, “Probably the member of the cast who aroused the most interest was “Laffy” Spaulding, the Adirondack Guide, who called the dances. The amusing incidents of the 2nd act, in the Donation Party scene, caused much laughter.”

And in case you’re wondering, yes, it’s true: back then, when a man from “up north” somehow made it into the city newspapers, he was more often than not referred to as an Adirondack Guide.

Six months shy of his 70th birthday, Lafayette was a hit on Broadway and loving every minute of it. He informed friends of his latest ventures, including lunch with the head of a 5th Avenue jewelry firm, and dinner with a millionaire admirer.

In late January, plans were made for the play’s three-week stint covering Brooklyn and Jersey City before touring the western part of the state. By September, he was back at home enjoying his new-found celebrity status.

Lafayette resumed performing in the Lake Champlain area, just as he had always done. A snippet from one report is classic Spaulding: “La Fa [as he was known] Spaulding, of New York theatre fame, made a decided hit. His old fashioned music and manner of calling the changes were amusing, and his way of correcting mistakes, though somewhat abrupt, created uproarious laughter.”

One of his last appearances was in 1905 at the Union Opera House in Ticonderoga. It must have been something to see when the 75-year-old took the stage, prompting this description: “The dancing of ‘Honest John,’ with Lafayette Spaulding as fiddler, brought down the house and revived fond memories of olden times in the minds of the older persons present.”

In November 1907, at the age of 77, Lafayette Spaulding died. Perhaps fittingly, he was found seated upright in his chair as if ready to call the next dance.

Photo: Above, the 14th Street Theater in 1936, shortly before it was torn down; Below, an advertisement at the beginning of Spaulding’s theater run (December 1899).

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

New Plaque Honors Edith Wharton


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New York City’s Historic Districts Council and the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center have commemorated the life and work of Edith Wharton, author of “The House of Mirth” and “The Age of Innocence” with a historic plaque. Born in 1862 at 14 West 23rd Street in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District, Wharton was a chronicler of New York City’s Gilded Age and trendsetter for her generation.

The plaque is part of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center’s Cultural Medallion program. The Center, chaired by Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel (HDC’s 2011 Landmarks Lion), has installed almost 100 medallions around New York City to heighten public awareness of New York’s cultural and social history.

Distinguished Edith Wharton scholars, including Susan Whissler, executive director of The Mount, participated in the plaque unveiling.

Photo: Photograph taken in Newport, Rhode Island, of author Edith Wharton, wearing hat with a feather, coat with fur trim, and a fur muff. Image courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Manhattan Grid System Focus of Exhibit


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The first comprehensive exhibition to trace one of the most defining achievements in New York City’s history—the vision, planning, and implementation of Manhattan’s iconic grid system—will be on view at the Museum of the City of New York from December 5, 2011, through April 15, 2012.

The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan for Manhattan, 1811—2011 will document the development of the “Commissioners’ Plan,” which in 1811 specified numbered streets and avenues outlining equal rectangular blocks ranging from (today’s) Houston Street to 155th Street and from First Avenue to Twelfth Avenue.

The exhibition, which is organized on the occasion of the bicentennial of the plan, will elucidate, through maps, photographs, and other historic documents, this monumental infrastructure project—the city’s first such civic endeavor—which transformed New York throughout the 19th century and laid the foundation for its distinctive character.

Some 225 artifacts will be on view in the exhibition, which is organized chronologically and geographically, leading visitors from 17th-century, pre-grid New York through the planning process and the explicit 1811 Commissioners’ Plan, and from the massive and elaborate implementation of the plan to contemporary reflections on New York and visions for its future.

“The 1811 grid was a bold expression of optimism and ambition,” Susan Henshaw Jones, the Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum said. “City commissioners anticipated New York’s propulsive growth and projected that the city—still relatively small at the time and concentrated in what is now Lower Manhattan and Greenwich Village—would extend to the heights of Harlem. The 1811 plan has demonstrated remarkable longevity as well as the flexibility to adapt to two centuries of unforeseeable change, including modifications such as Broadway and Central Park. The real miracle of the plan was that it was enforced.”

The exhibition will showcase the illustrious—most notably, John Randel, Jr., who measured the grid with obsessive care. Randel was an apprentice to Simeon DeWitt, the surveyor general of New York State from 1784 to 1834. Between 1808 and 1810 Randel measured the lines of streets and avenues at right angles to each other, and recorded distances and details about the island, its features, and its inhabitants. This resulted in a manuscript map of the grid plan, which he completed by March 1811. Randel continued surveying the island from 1811 to 1817, setting marble monuments (one of which will be on view in the exhibition; there were to have been 1,800) to mark the intersections of the coming grid. Between 1818 and 1820 Randel drafted a series of 91 large-scale maps of the island, now known as the Randel Farm Maps (ten of which will be on view). An article written in the 1850s cited Randel as “one of our most accurate engineers,” further stating that his survey of New York City was done “with such a mathematical exactness as to defy an error of half an inch in ten miles.”

The commissioners’ detailed notes about the grid will also be on view in the exhibition, explaining the plan and expressing their intent to “lay out streets, roads, and public squares, of such width, extent, and direction, as to them shall seem most conducive to public good…” (From “An Act relative to Improvements, touching the laying out of Streets and roads in the City of New-York, and for other purposes. Passed April 3, 1807.” )

Other colorful figures will be highlighted, including William M. “Boss” Tweed, who implemented high-quality improvements, advanced services, and pushed forward many amenities while at the same time benefitting his associates.

Other rare and exquisitely detailed maps dating from 1776 to the present will be on view, alongside stunning archival photographs portraying the island of Manhattan throughout various stages of excavation. An extraordinary street-by-street explanation of the plan in the words of the commissioners—Gouverneur Morris, Simeon De Witt, and John Rutherfurd—will be on view as will other historic documents, plans, prints, and more.

The merits of the grid will be debated. Historians have viewed it as the emblem of democracy, with blocks that are equal and no inherently privileged sites. Historians have also praised its utility, its neat subdivisions that support real estate development. The rectangular lots of Manhattan’s grid parallel Thomas Jefferson’s national survey, which organized land sales in square-mile townships. The grid manifests Cartesian ideals of order, with streets and avenues that are numbered rather than named for trees, people, or places. Frederick Law Olmsted bemoaned its dumb utility and lack of monuments and other features. Jane Jacobs credited city streets with creating New York’s public realm. And Rem Koolhaas called the grid “the most courageous act of prediction in Western civilization: the land it divides, unoccupied; the population it describes, conjectural; the buildings it locates, phantoms; the activities it frames, nonexistent.”

The Greatest Grid will reframe ideas about New York, revealing the plan to be much more than a layout of streets and avenues. The grid provided a framework that balanced public order with private initiative. It predetermined the placement of the city’s infrastructure, including transportation services, the delivery of electricity and water, and most other interactions. Manhattan’s grid has provided a remarkably flexible framework for growth and change.

Visitors will have the opportunity to consider New York’s preparation for the future and whether or not the grid will enable the city to face 21st-century challenges. New proposals for the city, the results of a competition, will be on view in a separate, related exhibition co-sponsored by the Architectural League. The Greatest Grid will also feature “12 x 155,” a conceptual art video by artist Neil Goldberg along with other artistic responses, such as original drawings from the graphic novel City of Glass (Picador, 2004) by Paul Auster, illustrated by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli

The Greatest Grid is co-sponsored by the Manhattan Borough President’s Office.

The exhibition is accompanied by a companion book of the same title, co-published by the Museum of the City of New York and Columbia University Press. Dr. Hilary Ballon, University Professor of Urban Studies & Architecture at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, conceived of the exhibition, is its curator, and is the editor of the companion book.

A related exhibition, on view concurrently at the Museum, will feature the results of a competition in which architects and planners were asked for submissions using the Manhattan street grid as a catalyst for thinking about the present and future of New York; this exhibition is co-sponsored by the Architectural League of New York.

Upcoming Museum of the City of New York Programs


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The Museum of the City of New York is offering members’ discount for readers of New York History for a number of upcoming events. The Museum has been undergoing a number of exciting changes recently, including an $85 million expansion and modernization of their outdated facility and new online access to over 50,000 images from the collections.

Reservations required for the following events. Call 917-492-3395 or e-mail programs@mcny.org. The cost is $6 museum members; $8 seniors and students; $12 non-members; and $6 when you mention New York History.

Tuesday, October 11 at 6:30 PM
The “Lady’s Eye”: More than Walls and Beyond the Fringe

Between the two world wars, at the same time that pioneering female interior designers like Dorothy Draper and Elsie DeWolfe were making a name for themselves using a modernist aesthetic, another group of women active in design and preservation were promoting the Colonial Revival style as a hallmark of profession. Discover the influence of women like Bertha Benkard and Nancy McClelland, in a discussion with Pauline Metcalf, author of Syrie Maugham (Acanthus Press, 2010), and others as they explore the roles that women played in making the Colonial Revival and that the Colonial Revival played in creating the field of interior design. Reservations required.

Saturday, October 22 from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Living With History:
Restoring, Redesigning, and Reviving New York’s Landmark Interiors

In the past decade the city has been the setting for some extraordinary projects aimed at bringing historic buildings back to life. This half-day symposium will showcase some of those projects, highlighting the various and sometimes controversial approaches to preserving the past while accommodating the needs of modern life. Presenters include architectural historian Matt Postal on New York’s landmark designation process; designer Jamie Drake on the ongoing preservation of Gracie Mansion; Cleary Larkin of Beyer Blinder Belle on the restoration of the Beacon Theater; Franklin D. Vagnone, Executive Director of the Historic House Trust, on the contrasting approaches to preserving Brooklyn’s Wyckoff Farmhouse and Lott House; designer Eric Cohler on his restoration of the iconic A. Conger Goodyear house by Edward Durrell Stone; and Frank Mahon, Senior Designer of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, on retrofitting the International Style Manufacturers Hanover Trust building on Fifth Avenue for retail use. Presented in partnership with the New York School of Interior Design. $25 Museum members, seniors, and students; $35 non-members.

Wednesday, October 26 at 6:30 PM
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill

In 1926, then soon-to-be First Lady of New York State—and, eventually, the nation—Eleanor Roosevelt founded Val-Kill Industries, dedicated to crafting replicas of early American furniture, pewter, and weavings, as a way to provide jobs and training to local men and women. Val-Kill’s reproductions were carried by leading department stores and specialty shops in various American cities and were the subject of a 1927 exhibition and sale in Mrs. Roosevelt’s East Side townhouse. Maurine H. Beasley, professor and author of Eleanor Roosevelt: Transformative First Lady (University Press of Kansas, 2010), takes a closer look at the story of Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill and its cultural relevance then and now. Co-sponsored by the Roosevelt Institute. Reservations required.

New-York Historical, NYC Media Offer Video Shorts


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The New-York Historical Society and NYC Media, the official network of the City of New York, have partnered to produce When “Did the Statue of Liberty Turn Green? & Other Questions about New York City,” a special series of 90 one-minute videos that feature the staff of the New-York Historical Society answering some of the most captivating questions ever posed to them about the City’s unique history. The video series airs every evening at 7:30pm on NYC life (Channel 25) in anticipation of the reopening of the New-York Historical Society’s Museum galleries on November 11, 2011. The series can also be viewed online on the NYC Media Video on Demand player.

“Inquisitive viewers will get the answers they’ve been looking for as the New-York Historical Society shares its vast knowledge and archive in our new series,” said Diane Petzke, general manager, NYC Media. “As part of our ongoing efforts to partner with local cultural organizations, we’re delighted to bring this fun and engaging perspective of City history to New Yorkers.”

“We are pleased to partner with NYC Media as we count down toward the re-opening of our galleries 90 days from now,” said Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “As the oldest cultural institution in New York City, we have a history that is closely tied to the history of the City as a whole. What better way to celebrate than by exploring the fascinating, sometimes surprising questions put to us by curious New Yorkers and visitors?”

On Veterans’ Day, Friday, November 11, 2011, the New-York Historical Society will throw open its doors as never before after completing a three-year renovation of its Central Park West building. The face of the institution—the first museum established in New York—will be transformed as visitors of all ages are welcomed to this great cultural destination. Visitors will experience brand-new gallery spaces that are more open and hospitable, both to major exhibitions and to a vastly expanded public. Highlights include, a multi-screen presentation of American history seen through the lens of New York City; the DiMenna Children’s History Museum, the first of its kind in New York, where the past comes to life through the stories of real children; a new museum restaurant operated by Stephen Starr Restaurants in a light-filled, modern space; and a permanent exhibition taking visitors on an interactive journey from colonial times to the September 11th attacks, incorporating high-definition digital screens and original artifacts. For more information about the New-York Historical Society’s re-opening, visit nyhistory.org.

Brooklyn Museum Cancels Street Art Exhibition


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The Brooklyn Museum has canceled the spring 2012 presentation of Art in the Streets, the first major United States museum exhibition of the history of graffiti and street art. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, where it is currently on view at The Geffen Contemporary through August 8, 2011, the exhibition had been scheduled at the Brooklyn Museum from March 30 through July 8, 2012.

“This is an exhibition about which we were tremendously enthusiastic, and which would follow appropriately in the path of our Basquiat and graffiti exhibitions in 2005 and 2006, respectively. It is with regret, therefore, that the cancellation became necessary due to the current financial climate. As with most arts organizations throughout the country, we have had to make several difficult choices since the beginning of the economic downturn three years ago,” Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman said in a prepared statement.

The announcement follows a recent follows the limiting of Friday hours, effective July 1. The Brooklyn Museum will no longer remain open until 10 p.m. every Friday, a change resulting from what museum officials called “the challenging economic climate confronting many public institutions throughout New York City and the country.”

Lower East Side History Project Walking Tours


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The Lower East Side History Project (LESHP), a non-profit organization dedicated to research, education and preservation, has announced its Summer 2011 walking tour schedule.

LESHP walking tours have been called a “Must do…” by Frommers Guide (2009) and was ranked “Top Five in New York City” by Time Out New York (2010). New York Newsday announced, “Nothing will get you closer to the real thing…” (2010) and NBC declared “You will be amazed…” (2010).

LESHP’s stable of licensed tour guides are multigenerational, native New Yorkers with well over a century of personal insight. They are veteran educators, professional authors, movie consultants, researchers active in neighborhood politics, arts and culture. The organization is partnered with museums and cultural institutions in the City of New York and has unique access to images, documents and information.

The full schedule is below, but you can find out more online or call 347-465-7767.

LESHP Summer 2011 public walking tour schedule:

Alphabet City Walking Tour

Once the godforsaken broken heart of the ghetto, the most densely populated square mile on the face of the earth, built over an industrial wasteland, then abandoned to a wild mix of marginal artists, angry anarchists, gangs, dealers, excons and thieves, against a backdrop of urban blight, tenements burned to rubble and danger on every corner out of which grew jazz and the beat generation, graffiti art and punk rock, the squatters movement, the garden movement and radical underground cinema: there’s more to Alphabet City than meets the eye, stories that could happen only in metropolis’ darkest corner.

When: Every Saturday at 11:00am
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: Entrance to Tompkins Square Park, St. Marks and Avenue A
Subway: L train to 1st avenue or 6 train to Astor Place

Bowery Walking Tour
The Bowery is not just the oldest and most architecturally diverse thoroughfares in NYC, it is one of most historically significant streets in the country. Beyond the myths, legends and gritty reputation, the Bowery offers an absolute treasure trove of NYC and American history.

Once an important Native American trail, the Bowery has undergone many changes in its modern history. From elegant opera houses to rowdy working-class theaters; from America’s vice district controlled by gangs and crooked politicians to a haven for the homeless and downtrodden as “skid row” during the great depression; and from factories and warehouses to pioneering artist colonies. Today the Bowery has become a popular hotel, restaurant and nightclub district, but buried beneath the five-star offerings is a repository of social, economic, political, immigrant, labor, underground, criminal, deviant, marginal, counter-cultural, literary, musical, dramatic and artistic history.

When: Every Sunday at 11:00am
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: Astor Place Cube, E.8th St and 4th Ave
Subway: 6 train to “Astor Place”

Chinatown/Five Points Walking Tour
New York’s legendary slum, a story of Irish, Italians, Africans, Germans, Jews and Chinese, their struggles, their cultures; gangs of New York to the tongs of Chinatown — with underground passageways still in use on winding Blood Alley where countless gang members were murdered in half a century of turf warfare — to the single oldest relic of western civilization on the island of Manhattan. It’s 19th century New York: bigotry and rivalry, ribaldry and racism, oppression, defiance, perseverance, progress and reform.

When: Every Sunday at 2:00pm
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: SE corner of Centre & Worth Streets
Subway: J to Chambers St or 4, 5, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall

East Village Walking Tour
This is a crash course in East Village/Lower East Side history. From the farmlands of the 1600s and the wealthy estates of the 1700s, to immigration, tenements, the “melting pot” and how the East Village became a haven for artists and counter culturalists in the twentieth century (and everything in between). Also learn about how recent commercial development and gentrification is the changing landscape of the East Village and surrounding neighborhoods.

When: Every Saturday & Wednesday at 12:00pm
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: In front of Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery
Subway: F train to “2nd Avenue/Lower East Side”

Jewish Mob Walking Tour
Trace the steps of pre-Prohibition era gangsters like Monk Eastman, Max “Kid Twist” Zweifach, “Big” Jack Zelig and Benjamin “Dopey” Fein – pivotal figures in the organizing of crime in New York City; paving the way for men like Arnold Rothstein, Meyer Lansky and “Bugsy” Siegel. Learn about the Jewish immigrant experience on the Lower East Side and the conditions that led to organized gangsterism; visit the sites of gang headquarters, shootouts and assassinations, and learn how the Jewish Mob expanded out of the slums and into a contemporary organized crime syndicate.

When: Every Sunday at 12:00pm
Reservations: Required, RSVP: 347-465-7767 or online.
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: Outside of Landmark Sunshine Cinema, 143 E. Houston
Subway: F to “2nd Ave/Lower East Side”

Lower East Side Walking Tour
This one-of-a-kind tour of the LES highlights all aspects of our neighborhood’s rich diversity by providing an introduction to the many distinct populations — Native-American, African, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Chinese, Hispanic, and others — which influenced the character of the Lower East Side over the last thousand years.

When: Every Friday at 12:00pm
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: Outside of New Museum of Contemporary Art, 235 Bowery
Subway: F to “2nd Ave/Lower East Side”

Mafia Walking Tour
This popular and exciting weekly tour explores the Sicilian/Italian immigrant experience and examines the roots of the Mafia in America: From the original Sicilian Black Handers and Neapolitan Camorra to the forming of the Mafia Commission in 1931 — this tour visits the early homes, headquarters, hangouts of such criminal heavyweights as “Lucky” Luciano, Al Capone, Giuseppe Morello, Joe “The Boss” Masseria, Vito Genovese, and many more.

When: Every Saturday at 2:00pm
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: Outside of New Museum of Contemporary Art, 235 Bowery
Subway: F to “2nd Ave/Lower East Side”

Radical Spirits Bar Crawl
Whether you like a warm pub, a dive bar or an innovative cocktail lounge, the East Village has a history and a present to satisfy your fermented dreams. In fact, there are more liquor licenses (old and new) issued in this zip code than any other in New York. Explore why that’s a good thing and why that’s a bad thing in this bar crawl focusing on the East Village’s legacy of artists, writers, musicians, radicals and other indulgers. In short, an evening walk of the New York of Lou Reed, W.H. Auden, Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac, Keith Haring, and Abbie Hoffman…with refreshments

When: Every Tuesday at 6:15pm
Reservations: Not Required (21 and over only, with ID)
Fee: $35, includes three drinks
Meet: Outside St. Marks Bookshop, 31 3rd Ave at E. 9th St
Subway: 6 train to “Astor Place”

Photo: The Bowery.

Historic Districts Council Preservation Awards


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The Historic Districts Council (HDC) presented its annual Grassroots Preservation Awards to seven organizations and individuals on May 12th in the garden of Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. This year, HDC is celebrating its 40th year of advocating for New York City’s historic neighborhoods.

“These advocates are the foundation of the preservation movement and their efforts benefit everyone who lives, works or visits New York City,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of HDC. “It’s an honor to be able to shine the spotlight on these neighborhood leaders.”

2011 Grassroots Awardees

Cedar Grove Beach Club

Established on the North Shore of Staten Island in 1911, Cedar Grove Beach Club is the last beach bungalow colony on the island. In 1962, the club land was taken by eminent domain but residents were allowed to remain and continued to restore the buildings and keep the beach clean and accessible. However in 2009, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation declared that they were evicting the residents in order to demolish the majority of the bungalows. The Beach Club rallied to stop this action but was unsuccessful. Their campaign, however, raised awareness about this special piece of New York City’s cultural history.

Central Queens Historical Society

In 1988, Jeffrey Gottlieb established the Central Queens Historical Association to advocate for preservation of the borough’s significant areas, including Kew Gardens, Jamaica, and Richmond Hill. Through his ongoing advocacy campaign for downtown Jamaica, the LPC moved forward on the designation of several historic structures including the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Building, Queens General Court House, two Jamaica Savings Bank buildings, and Jamaica High School.

Mary Kay Gallagher

Mary Kay Gallagher has been a leading figure in Brooklyn’s Victorian Flatbush area for more than four decades. She founded Mary Kay Gallagher Real Estate in 1970, in part to help find sympathetic buyers for the wealth of large, free-standing Victorian-era homes that dominate Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Prospect Park South, Ditmas Park, Fiske Terrace, Midwood Park, Beverly Square West and Caton Park.

Prospect Cemetery Association

Cate Ludlam has been the driving force behind Prospect Cemetery Association, a group dedicated to preserving and restoring Prospect Cemetery in Jamaica, Queens. The site is the oldest burial ground in Jamaica, with burials dating back to the mid-17th century. Ludlam has led the group through an intensive effort to reclaim the largely abandoned cemetery and recently completed a restoration of the adjacent Chapel of the Sisters.

Friend in High Places
State Senator Bill Perkins, 30th District, Manhattan

Senator Perkins currently serves as State Senator from Manhattan’s 30th District. Both in his role as New York State Senator for the past five years and previously during eight years as a city councilmember, he helped champion numerous preservation causes. Recently he has been a strong supporter for the designation of the West End Avenue Historic District and a Morningside Heights Historic District, and the successful designation of West-Park Presbyterian Church. Among the other preservation campaigns Senator Perkins has been involved with include holding public education programs on tax incentives for historic properties and leading the effort for more comprehensive legislation to improve oversight of the landmarks process.

Friend from the Media

The Architect’s Newspaper

Since its founding in 2003, The Architect’s Newspaper has featured broad coverage of preservation and development–related issues from across the city. Looking beyond concerns of architectural design, the paper has covered important neighborhood preservation issues such the proposed redevelopment of St. Vincent’s Hospital, the tower proposal at 980 Madison Avenue and the future of Coney Island in depth. Although it is targeted towards a self-identified audience of architects and design professionals, AN’s coverage is both balanced and accessible, with a deep understanding of the arcana of New York City’s development world.

Mickey Murphy Award for Lifetime Achievement
Bronson Binger and Ann Walker Gaffney

Bronson and Ann have been tireless preservation advocates for decades. Bronson served New York City as Assistant Commissioner of Capital Projects for both the Parks Department and the Department of General Services. As Vice President of the Municipal Art Society, he saw the need to form a committee to protect the city’s historic neighborhoods, which later became the Historic Districts Council. He was closely involved in several successful campaigns, including the creation of the Carnegie Hill, Upper East Side, and Sailors’ Snug Harbor Historic Districts. Trained as a Graphic Designer, Ann has contributed her art of logos, brochures and invitations for many not-for-profit organizations. She served on the Historic Districts Council’s board of directors for almost 20 years as well as serving on the Board of The Fine Arts Federation and as a governor of the Brooklyn Heights Association for many years.

Gita Lenz’s New York Views Online Photo Gallery


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Places, an online journal of environmental design published in partnership with Design Observer, has just published an online slideshow “Gita Lenz: New York Views.”

The site features work by the mid-century New York photographer Gita Lenz, whose long neglected work is now gaining new attention. Lenz lived most of her life in Greenwich Village where from the 1940s through the mid-1960s, she the city and life around her first in the documentary tradition and then in abstraction. Lenz died January 20th, 2011 at a nursing home in New York City.

The gallery can be found on here.

Coverage of 1911 Triangle Factory Fire


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The New York Times City Blog has been running a series of posts commemorating the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which happened 100 years ago today on March 25, 1911.

There are links to the posts below, but first, here’s a brief description of what happened from Wikipedia: “[The Triangle Fire] was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers, who either died from the fire or jumped to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent immigrant Jewish and Italian women aged sixteen to twenty-three.”

“Many of the workers could not escape the burning building because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits. People jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.”

Here is a round-up of the City Room’s outstanding coverage:

Liberating Clothing Made in Confinement

A Half Hour of Horror

A Frontier in Photojournalism

Editorial Cartoons

One Woman Who Changed the Rules

New Leaders Emerge

Labor Laws and Unions in the Fire’s Wake

In a Tragedy, a Mission to Remember

Garment Work in New York 100 Years After the Triangle Fire

The Building Survives

Remembering the Triangle Fire, 100 Years Later

Remembering Triangle Fire’s Jewish Victims

Clinging to Memories

In Search of Today’s Sweatshops

Exhibit: African American Women’s Literary Societies


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“They Kept Their Word: African American Women’s Literary Societies and Their Legacy” is a fascinating new exhibit that has opened at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society. The exhibit traces the development and influence of African Americans in Buffalo, particularly with regard to women’s efforts to improve their economic and intellectual conditions.

The remarkable growth and accomplishments that took place in the Buffalo area during the 1830s and 1840s were due to many factors, including expansion of communication through transportation, newspapers, pamphlets, study groups, and lecture series.


Photo: Mary Church Terrell was an influential African American woman in Buffalo in the 1900s. Photo provided.

JAY-Z to Appear at Brooklyn Museum


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In a rare interview, multi-platinum, 10-time Grammy Award-winning artist and icon JAY-Z will speak with Charlie Rose, executive editor and anchor of the Charlie Rose Show, before a live audience in the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium at the Brooklyn Museum on Thursday, November 18, at 7 p.m. The conversation, which will be taped to air nationwide at a later date on the Charlie Rose program, will focus on JAY-Z’s book DECODED, to be published on November 16 by Spiegel & Grau, a Random House imprint. DECODED recounts JAY-Z’s life from his childhood in Brooklyn’s Marcy housing projects to becoming a world-famous performer and songwriter, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

Tickets to the event will go on sale TODAY, Wednesday, November 10, at noon. They may be purchased online at www.museumtix.com (two-ticket purchase limit for this program) or at the Brooklyn Museum Visitor Center in person. Ticket prices are $50 for the general public, older adults, and students and $45 for Brooklyn Museum Members. Become a member at www.brookklynmuseum.org/support/membership_plans.php. Ticket price includes a copy of DECODED by JAY-Z that will be provided to the patron upon admission to the program the night of the event.

Printouts of tickets will not be accepted. Patrons must check in at the will-call desk (the night of the event) at the Brooklyn Museum to receive hard copies of their tickets and must provide ID matching the name on the ticket. There will be no standby line for this event.

Decoded Book Cover In his conversation with Charlie Rose, JAY-Z will speak candidly about his journey from drug dealing to becoming one of the best known hip-hop artists of his time. He will explore issues that informed him and his songwriting, including how visual art and poetry influenced his craft, how he became involved in politics and business, and how he managed to stay true to himself in the midst of extraordinary fame.

“When I first started working on this book, I told my editor that I wanted to do three important things. The first was to make the case that hip-hop lyrics-not just my lyrics, but those of every great MC-are poetry, if you look at them closely enough. The second was that I wanted the book to tell a little bit of the story of my generation, to show the context for the choices we made at a violent and chaotic crossroads in recent history. And the third piece was that I wanted the book to show how hip-hop created a way to take a very specific and powerful experience and turn it into a story that everyone in the world could feel and relate to.”–JAY-Z from DECODED

CFP: Staten Island, Am. History, 21st Cent. Education


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A Call for Papers has been issued for a conference entitled Staten Island, New York in American History and 21st Century Education, to be held at the College of Staten Island (City University of New York) on March 19-20, 2011.

An understanding of the role of place and the attachment to community in America has never been more critical than in our rapidly changing global environment. This conference seeks to explore major turning points and issues in American history as experienced by the residents of Staten Island past and present. Located at the entrance to New York harbor, Staten Island is one of the five boroughs that comprise New York City.

Since 1661, Staten Island has been the home of settlers and migrants from around the globe. Staten Island’s cultural diversity and its regional and global interconnections are reflected in its institutions, cuisine, art and architecture, businesses, social movements, recreational tourism, transportation heritage, and in the service of its military veterans. The organizers’ goal is to rethink the significance of Staten Island and its important historic sites, as part of New York City, the region, the nation, and the world through the interdisciplinary lenses of history and Place-based
Education.

In celebration of Staten Island’s 350th Anniversary in 2011, the organizers invite
innovative proposals from scholars, curators, teachers and public historians related to community history and education. Proposals must be relevant to and illustrate the conference theme, including but not limited to the following topics:

*History of ethnicity and immigration
*History of race, gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities
*Staten Island in the transatlantic world, e.g. Huguenot refugees, the Loyalist Diaspora, the Free Trade Zone
*Staten Island in the history of New York City, e.g. Civil War Draft Riots, Consolidation, 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
*History of the arts, architecture, health, business, military, sports, transportation, religion, food and drink, education, childhood, or of the environment
*Geography, politics, and economics in the study of local history
*The historical interconnectedness of Staten Island to the New York/New Jersey region
*The role of the museum in public history and preservation
*Pedagogy, including Place-based Education, civic engagement and community-based research
*Memory and oral history

Proposals for complete panels and/or individual papers for this peer-reviewed conference are welcome. Proposals for panels must include the following: 1) a cover sheet with the panel title, paper titles, and the name, address, affiliation, and email addresses of the chair/commentator and of the panelists; 2) a 350-word abstract of the panel as a whole; and 3) a 350-word abstract for each paper included on the panel. Individual paper proposals for twenty-minute papers should include the following: 1) a cover sheet with the paper’s title, and the name, address, affiliation,
and email address of the participant and 2) a 350-word abstract of the paper.

All materials should be e-mailed to Dr. Phillip Papas, Associate Professor of History and co-chair of the SI 350 Academic Conference/Education Symposium at papas@ucc.edu. Proposals for panels and/or individual papers must be received no later than October 15, 2010. Successful applicants will be required to send a completed paper no later than February 7, 2011. E-mail Dr. Margaret Berci, Associate Professor of Education and co- chair of the SI 350 Academic Conference/Education Symposium at berci@mail.csi.cuny.edu with questions.

For more information and resources please refer to their website at www.si350.org.

The event is co-sponsored with Wagner College, St. John’s University and SI350, Inc, with major support from the Staten Island Foundation.

New Reference Book: Architects in Albany


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Every once in a while a book shows up that I know will have a permanent place on my desk-side bookshelf. Architects in Albany, a new book by the Historic Albany Foundation and Mount Ida Press, is a collection of profiles and images of the work of 36 designers and their firms that played a major part in forming Albany’s architectural heritage.

Edited by Diana S. Waite, the president of Mount Ida Press, this new volume was five years in the making and expands on a booklet the Historic Albany Foundation published in 1978, soon after Albany’s leading historic preservation organization was founded.

Architects in Albany if heavily indexed and includes the work of popularly known local architects like Philip Hooker, Marcus Reynolds, and also the work of builders with a national reputation that worked in Albany like Robert Gibson (Cathedral of All Saints) and Patirck C. Keely (Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception). Albany is unique in that the work of architects brought in by the state is also present in large numbers, and Architects in Albany includes profiles of them as well. Men like Thomas Fuller, H. H. Richardson, and Leopold Eidlitz (State Capitol), are featured along side more recent builders like Edward Durell Stone (SUNY Albany Campus), and Wallace K. Harrison (Empire State Plaza).

The real gems here are the original research, much of it contributed by Cornelia Brooke Gilder, on the lesser known Albany architects. Ernest Hoffman’s late 19th century contributions (15 of them) are documented here. Albert W. Fuller, one of Albany’s more prolific architects, who built Albany Hospital (the original buildings of the Albany Medical Center) and the Harmanus Bleecker Library, but also banks, clubs, apartment houses, a YMCA, several schools, the Dudley Observatory, the Fourth Precinct Police Station, and a number of residences. The book is heavily illustrated.

Conference: Preservation in New York – The Next Generation


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The New York City Historic Districts Council has announced the Sixteenth Annual Preservation Conference, “Preservation in New York: The Next Generation” which will examine the future of preservation in New York City as a movement, both in terms of the types of buildings we should be preserving and the audiences we must engage in order to be successful. What will be the landmarks for the next generation and who will be fighting to preserve them?

The conference which runs March 5-7, 2010, will be preceded by an Opening Night Reception on Friday, March 5th. The Sunday following the Conference will feature a series of walking tours of historic areas throughout New York City. Participants can register online.

March 5: Opening Night Reception

This year the Opening Reception will be held in the LGBT Community Center, housed in an historic 19th-century school. As with last year’s event, in addition to refreshments and good preservation-minded conversation, this festive kick-off event will feature presentations on proposed historic districts and preservation campaigns across the city.

Friday, March 5, 6:00pm, at The LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street between Seventh and Greenwich Avenues. Tickets for this event are $35/person, $30 for Friends of HDC, seniors and students. Reservations required. Please call (212) 614-9107 or visit our website.

March 6: “The Next Generation” Conference Panels

This year’s Conference Panels will bring together a distinguished group of preservationists, educators, community activists and non-profit leaders from New York City’s five boroughs to present their views in a series of panel discussions: “New Landmarks: Modern, Vernacular and Cultural Sites” and “New Audiences: Identifying and Partnering with Diverse Populations” and a keynote address delivered by Fran Leadon, architect, professor, and co-author of the forthcoming AIA Guide to New York City, Fifth Edition.

Saturday, March 6, 8:30am-4:30pm, at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street between Court and Clinton Streets, Brooklyn. Full day admission is $45/person, $35/person for Friends of HDC and seniors. Fee also includes continental breakfast, box lunch, and afternoon snack. Entrance fee will be waved for students with valid university ID (meals are not included). For reservations, please call (212) 614-9107 or visit our website.

March 7: Walking Tours

The final day of HDC’s Preservation Conference features six walking tours of neighborhoods throughout New York City:

The Grand Concourse: Ain’t It Grand!

A Walk Through Norwegian Brooklyn: Lapskaus Boulevard

Chelsea and Lamartine Place: A Cultural History

Modern in Midtown: Landmarks of the Recent Past

Parkchester: A City Within a City

West End Avenue: Way Out West

Space is limited, so reserve early. Meeting times and locations will be provided upon registration.

Historic Districts Council’s Morning Coffee Talks


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Each Month, the Historic Districts Council hosts a Coffee Talk – a presentation and question and answers session with folk important to local historic preservation. The first Coffee Talk of 2010, on January 11th, will feature representatives of the New York City Department of Design and Construction. The event begins at 8:30 am, in the Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street, Manhattan.

The Department of Design and Construction (DDC), is the lead agency for New York City public construction projects such as street, water and sewer reconstructions, firehouses, libraries, police precincts, courthouses and senior centers. Because the agency is responsible for such a large portfolio (valued at over $6 billion), the Historic Districts Counciil believes it is essential that communities help make sure that each project that DDC undertakes respects and responds to the specific needs of the communities where the projects are located.

Richard Zetterlund, Associate Commissioner for Infrastructure and Sergio Silveira, Assistant Commissioner for Structures will discuss their respective divisions and how neighborhood advocates can provide input on major projects. Our speakers will also showcase some of DDC’s recent successful initiatives and talk about the efforts of DDC’s Historic Preservation Office.

This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required, as space is limited. For more information about this or other Coffee Talks, contact Frampton Tolbert at (212) 614-9107 or ftolbert@hdc.org.

Photo: Brooklyn Terminal at Brooklyn Bridge c 1903.

World War II in New York City Materials Wanted


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The New-York Historical Society is soliciting donations of materials relating to the impact of World War II on New York City. They are interested in snapshots of armed forces personnel (particularly leaving and returning to the city), photographs of victory gardens, women in the work force, minority communities, and locations in the city that relate in some way to the war effort. They would also like to receive soldier’s diaries that include descriptive passages about the city or the war experience, vivid and distinctive letters to or from New Yorkers and ephemeral material such as posters, broadsides, propaganda pamphlets, menus, programs, etc. All items should be identified clearly with names, dates, and locations, when known.

Please DO NOT send materials directly to them. They can only handle a limited number of items and cannot return unwanted material to donors. Instead, submit descriptions of what might be of interest with scans or photographs, if possible to wwii@nyhistory.org.

The New-York Historical Society will not be able to accept magazines, newspapers, newspaper clippings or material that is in poor condition (i.e., dirty, moldy, unreadable) or outside the scope of our collection. Materials selected by the staff may be used in the Society’s upcoming (2012) exhibition on World War II in New York; some may be added to our permanent collections; some may appear on web presentations.

For more information contact: wwii@nyhistory.org

Photo: A crowd watching the news line on the Times building at Times Square, NYC, on D-day, June 6, 1944. Large-format nitrate negative by Howard Hollem or Edward Meyer, Office of War Information.