A Short History of Watervliet Water Works


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Watervliet Arsenal Fire PumperFire! Fire! The words still strike fear into people, but in the 19th Century, the alarm of a fire in a community sometimes brought disaster. Unfortunately, large fires were very commonplace.

Fires in the early 19th Century sometimes leveled blocks of homes in Albany, and in the mid-19th Century, a spark from a steam engine set the old wooden Green Island Bridge over the Hudson River on fire and westerly winds blew hot embers into Troy causing the great conflagration that destroyed much of the center portion of the city. Building codes changed due to fires like these. Continue reading

Sackets Harbor And The Civil War Event Planned


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Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site reenactment On Saturday July 29, at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, a living history event “Sackets Harbor and the Civil War” will bring to life how soldiers lived, what they ate and drank, and what they wore and carried. The public has been invited to see how soldiers lived during the Civil War, shoulder a wooden musket and learn the 1862 military drill.

Sackets Harbor became a major recruiting station and mustering site for Northern New York where thousands entered into federal service to fight for the Union in the Civil War. Continue reading

Iron and Steel History at Copake Iron Works July 27th


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Historian and biographer David Nasaw will be the featured speaker at the 9th Annual Meeting and BBQ Supper of Friends of Taconic State Park on Thursday, July 27th beginning at 6 pm at the Copake Iron Works.

Nasaw will present “Clash of the Titans! Pomeroy and Carnegie – Man of Iron vs. Man of Steel” at the annual gathering in Copake Falls. His bestseller Andrew Carnegie was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, the recipient of the New-York Historical Society’s American History Book Prize, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. 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

New York History Around The Web This Week


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Philip Schuyler: A Time to Remember


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Philip Schuyler 1881A recent post on here on The New York History Blog previewed Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton events at the Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site this month.

A recent article by Paul Grondahl, Director of the New York State Writer’s Institute, in the Albany Times Union noted that Schuyler Mansion is experiencing a spike in attendance due to the “Hamilton effect” – “a mysterious affliction created by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical that altered the lives of countless unsuspecting fans with a powerful history lesson embedded in hypnotic, rhyming lyrics and a hip-hop beat.”

It is notable that Hamilton, Schuyler’s son-in-law, who spent only a few years at Schuyler Mansion, is boosting popular attendance there. Continue reading

UGRR Archaeology Open House At The Myers House


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myers houseOn Thursday, July 27 from 8 am to 2 pm, the Myers House in Albany will host an Archaeology Open House.

A six-week archaeological field school is now exploring the backyards of the Myers house, Thomas Elkins residence, and Ten Broeck Mansion in search of clues about the lives of African Americans who helped establish the Arbor Hill community during the early 19th century and the role of prominent community leaders in the struggle for justice and freedom.

Stephen and Harriet Myers were instrumental in the success of the Underground Railroad during the mid-nineteenth century. Today, their former residence is preserved as a significant historic site in Albany and a cornerstone of African American heritage in the Arbor Hill neighborhood. Continue reading

Schoharie Crossing Lecture on Erie Canal Sunday


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erie canal postcardAs part of a statewide commemoration of the Erie Canal’s 200th anniversary, the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site in Fort Hunter and the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse will host a lecture by Dr. Carol Sheriff, author of The Artificial River, Sunday, July 23, at 4 pm inside the newly renovated Visitors Center at 129 Schoharie Street.

Reflections on Erie’s Waters is a collaboration between The Erie Canal Museum and The Canal Society of New York State to commemorate the waterway’s bicentennial and examine its legacy and future through diverse viewpoints. Reflections presents an inclusive view of the Erie Canal, examines its relevance and importance and heightens awareness of its historical impact, current significance and future potential through a series of workshops, lectures and exhibits. Continue reading