Many citizens of Ballston Spa in Saratoga County will be aware that in the nineteenth century the east end of Front Street boasted a sumptuous hotel called the Sans Souci. Some of these residents may have mused upon the great events, including grand balls, which might have enlivened this hotel back in the day, even ones graced by the presence of European royalty on occasion. [Read more…] about Ballston Spa’s 19th Century Grand Balls in Competition
According to archeological records, groups of nomadic Paleo-Indians traveled through the Finger Lakes region approximately 8,000 to 9,000 years ago. Small bands of these hunters and gatherers followed large game during the last stages of the Ice Age when the glaciers that formed the area’s notable lakes were receding.
Somewhat more recent early archaic archeological sites scattered across Western New York reflect a culture that was highly mobile and left little in terms of an archeological record. [Read more…] about Early Inhabitants of the Finger Lakes Region
Historians are fond of saying that the Revolutionary War in the city of New York began and ended in the same place. On July 9, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read to George Washington’s troops at City Hall. Within minutes, a mob of fired-up patriots stormed nearby Bowling Green where they pulled down its statue of King George III and sawed off the royal crown finials on the uprights of the surrounding fence. (The original fence still stands, you can see the saw marks.) [Read more…] about The British Occupation of New York City, 1776-1783
The doodlebug waits. It is patient. It is silent. And it is hidden under a fine layer of dry, loose, sandy soil at the bottom of a small conical pit. Soon, a wandering ant will slip down the side of the pit, where the sickle-shaped mandibles of the doodlebug will rise from the bottom to grab the ant.
The doodlebug will inject paralyzing venom into its prey, followed by digestive fluids that turn the ant’s insides to liquid. Then this hungry doodlebug will slurp the juices before flicking the desiccated ant carcass out of its pit trap. Constantly hungry, the doodlebug hides again at the bottom of the pit and waits for its next meal to stumble in. [Read more…] about Doodlebug, Doodlebug, Are You at Home?
Railroads have been operating along the east shore of the Hudson River for virtually its entire length between New York and Albany since 1851 and along the west shore of the river from Haverstraw [in Rockland County, NY] to a point below West Park [in the Town of Esopus, Ulster County] since 1883, Hudson River boatmen have had plenty of opportunity to observe the changes that have taken place over the years in railroading. [Read more…] about Hudson River Tugboat Views: The West Shore Railroad, Track Walkers & Hoboes
For most of the year, it’s hard to find a pond without at least a few mallards swimming around. These ducks, with their green-headed drakes and streaky brown hens, are among the most common water birds throughout the Northeast.
In spring and fall, mallard flocks are ubiquitous, gobbling up grasses and aquatic plants. In winter, as ice spreads across most ponds, many of these flocks fly south, while the few that remain retreat to open water wherever they can find it. And in summer, if you’re lucky, you might see a female swimming with a trail of downy ducklings behind her. [Read more…] about Eclipse Plumage: Male Mallards Hiding in Plain Sight
Many of the descriptions about fortifications in the Upper Hudson Valley, close to New France, were written by soldiers, travelers and settlers during the wars in the 18th century and into the 19th century.
Since many of the North American colonies were defended by Independent Companies, the regular English and, later, British armies had little direct influence on fortification designs, which created a high demand for the assistance of military engineers. [Read more…] about Early Forts Near Old Saratoga: Some History
On this episode of the New York Minute in History podcast, Devin Lander and Lauren Roberts tell the story of the Florence Farming and Lumber Association, a settlement of free African Americans in Florence, Oneida County beginning in 1846. [Read more…] about The Florence Farming Association
At first, I suspected it was the deer that had almost completely defoliated the northern spicebush sapling I had planted just weeks earlier. Only days prior, it had been brimming with new growth, and now all that remained were two leaves wrapped into cigarlike cylinders. Curious, I inspected this pair of surviving leaves. At the opening of each, snug between the leaf edges, was a bulbous green head adorned with a set of black, cartoonish eye spots. I had found my perpetrator, and it wasn’t the deer; it was the caterpillars of the spicebush swallowtail. [Read more…] about Spicebush Swallowtails: Beauty and Defense
If you take a walk through a thick, broadleaf forest on a cool summer morning, you might recognize the cascading, metallic song of a thrush called a veery. It is an ethereal sound that echoes through the understory, like the ring of a haunted cell phone. [Read more…] about It Takes a Village to Raise a Veery