Sunday Salons are gatherings at the home of Thomas Cole, with guest speakers leading discussions on topics relating to the Hudson River School, America’s first major art movement. The public is invited for wine, cheese, and lively conversation once per month at Cedar Grove, the birthplace of American landscape painting. Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $8 per person or $6 for members. Admission is first-come-first-served. [Read more…] about Thomas Cole House Hosts Sunday Salons
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Each Friday New York History compiles for our readers the week’s best stories and links from the web about the history of New York. You can find all our weekly web highlights here.
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 email@example.com.
Photo: Brooklyn Terminal at Brooklyn Bridge c 1903.
Nearly 60,000 books have been digitized as part of the first-ever mass book digitization project of the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC), the world’s largest library. Many of the books cover the period of Western settlement of the United States from 1865–1922 and provide historians a new source of information that would be otherwise difficult to locate and obtain. Hard-to-find Civil War regimental histories are also included; the oldest work to be included is from 1707 and covers the trial of two Presbyterian ministers in New York. All of the books are in the collection are in the public domain, according to library officials.
The new additions, along with previously digitized books can be accessed through the Library’s catalog Web site and the Internet Archive.
The Library of Congress has already digitized many of its other collections — more than 7 million photographs, maps, audio and video recordings, newspapers, letters and diaries can be found at the Library’s Digital Collections site.
The Internet Archive is the second-largest book-scanning project after Google Books. A subset of this project is the Google Books Library Project, which has agreements to scan collections of numerous research libraries worldwide.
Over at Adirondack Almanack we’re still looking for ideas about who should be included on a list of the Adirondack region’s most influential people. We’ll be offering a list of the people who have had the greatest impact on the Adirondacks on January 18th. Head over to the original post to leave your suggestions in the comments.
Suggestions should reflect the environmental, cultural, and political history of the park, and they need not be residents of the region, provided their impact was significantly felt here.
The Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has announced 25 motion pictures that will be preserved as cultural, artistic and/or historical treasures. Spanning the period 1911-1995, the films named to the 2009 National Film Registry of the Library of Congress range from the sci-fi classic “The Incredible Shrinking Man” and Bette Davis’ Oscar-winning performance in “Jezebel” to the Muppets’ movie debut and Michael Jackson’s iconic video “Thriller.” This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 525.
Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the registry that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant to be preserved for all time. These films are not selected as the “best” American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture.
“Established by Congress in 1989, the National Film Registry spotlights the importance of protecting America’s matchless film heritage and cinematic creativity,” said Billington. “By preserving the nation’s films, we safeguard a significant element of our cultural patrimony and history.”
Other selections to this year’s registry include Al Pacino’s “Dog Day Afternoon,” the World War II drama “Mrs. Miniver,” the swashbuckling adventure “The Mark of Zorro” and the popular spaghetti Western “Once Upon a Time in the West.” Among the lesser-known films named to the registry are “The Jungle,” a hybrid documentary/dramatization made by a group of young African-American gang members; “A Study in Reds,” directed by amateur filmmaker Miriam Bennett; and Martin Brest’s student film “Hot Dogs for Gauguin.”
Annual selections to the registry are finalized by the Librarian after his review of hundreds of titles nominated by the public and extensive discussions with members of the National Film Preservation Board, as well as the Library’s motion-picture staff. The Librarian urges the public to make nominations for next year’s registry at the Film Board’s website (www.loc.gov/film/).
For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations, either through the Library’s massive motion-picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion-picture studios and independent filmmakers. The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility that acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings.
2009 National Film Registry
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Director Sidney Lumet balances suspense, violence and humor in Frank Pierson’s Oscar-winning adaptation of a true-life bank robbery turned media circus. Al Pacino is the engaging Sonny, a smart yet self-destructive Brooklyn tough guy whose plan to rob the local bank to pay for his lover’s sex change goes awry. Lumet artfully conducts his talented cast through machinations that twist and turn from the political to the personal, and inevitably lead to a downward spiral played out before an audience of millions.
The Exiles (1961)
Released nearly 48 years ago, “The Exiles” remains one of the few non-stereotypical films that honestly depict Native Americans. With the perspective of a true outsider, filmmaker Kent MacKenzie captures the raw essence of a group of 20-something Native Americans who left reservation life in the 1950s to live among the decayed Victorian mansions of Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill district. MacKenzie’s day-in-the-life narrative pieces together interviews that allow the people in his film to tell their own stories without ascribing artificial sentimentality.
Heroes All (1920)
The Red Cross Bureau of Pictures produced more than 100 films, including “Heroes All,” from 1917-1921, which are invaluable historical and visual records of the era with footage from World War I and its aftermath. “Heroes All” examines returning wounded WWI veterans and their treatment at Walter Reed Hospital, along with visits to iconic Washington, D.C., landmarks. Several Red Cross cinematographers achieved notable film careers, including Ernest Schoedsack and A. Farciot Edouart.
Hot Dogs for Gauguin (1972)
This hilarious New York University student film (with a cast including Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman in her film debut) was written and directed by Martin Brest who later went on to direct “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Scent of a Woman” and “Meet Joe Black.” In the film, DeVito plays a down-on-his-luck photographer determined to capture visual magic and fame. He concocts an intricate plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty and sets his camera to record the exact moment of its destruction.
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
This sci-fi classic about a man who starts to shrink after being exposed to a strange cloud while on vacation is notable for its intelligent script and imaginative special effects. Jack Arnold’s sparse direction and Richard Matheson’s poignant script allow the tension to build naturally in a world where a house cat and common spider become the ultimate threat to existence and leave an indelible mark on the audience’s consciousness.
Bette Davis won her second Academy Award for this William Wyler-directed classic. Cast to perfection as a tempestuous southern belle, Davis’ head-strong heroine must eventually learn self-sacrifice in order to save the man she loves. Despite its melodramatic underpinnings, the film endures because of Davis’ flawless performance and for its examination of both the American South and women’s societal roles. The movie co-stars Henry Fonda and Fay Bainter, who also won an Oscar for her work.
The Jungle (1967)
With the guidance of Temple University social worker Harold Haskins, a group of African-American teenage boys in Philadelphia made this hybrid documentary/dramatization of their lives in the 12th and Oxford Street gang. Shot in an original and natural style, this 22-minute film was recognized with festival awards, but was never theatrically released. In 1968, Churchill Films distributed the film in 16mm for the educational market. The production led several of the gang members to earn high school and college degrees.
The Lead Shoes (1949)
“The Lead Shoes” is a dreamlike trance showing the unconscious acts of a disturbed mind through a distorted lens and other abstract visual techniques (such as reverse and stop motion). “Narrative succumbs to the comic devices of inconsequence and illogic,” said writer and independent filmmaker Sidney Peterson of his film. Peterson is considered the father of San Francisco avant-garde cinema.
Little Nemo (1911)
This classic work, a mix of live action and animation, was adapted from Winsor McCay’s famed 1905 comic strip “Little Nemo in Slumberland.” Its fluidity, graphics and story-telling was light years beyond other films made during that time. A seminal figure in both animation and comic art, McCay profoundly influenced many generations of future animators, including Walt Disney.
Mabel’s Blunder (1914)
Mabel Normand, who wrote, directed and starred in “Mabel’s Blunder,” was the most successful of the early silent screen comediennes. The film tells the tale of a young woman who is secretly engaged to the boss’ son. When a new employee catches the young man’s eye, a jealous Mabel dresses up as a chauffeur to spy on them, which leads to a series of mistaken identities. The film showcases Normand’s spontaneous and intuitive playfulness and her ability to be both romantically appealing and boisterously funny.
The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Under Rouben Mamoulian’s inventive direction, Tyrone Power plays Don Diego, son of a 19th-century Los Angeles governor who has been unseated by a mercenary despot and his sadistic captain, portrayed by Basil Rathbone. Convincingly foppish by day, Don Diego conceals his heroic alter-ego to avenge his father and the terrorized citizenry, carving his signature “Z” with his trusty sword as he goes. Mamoulian cleverly cuts in and out of scenes to heighten the drama and action as the film crescendos to a thrilling duel between Rathbone and Power.
Mrs. Miniver (1942)
This remarkably touching wartime melodrama pictorializes the classic British stiff upper lip and the courage of a middle-class English family (headed by Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon) amid the chaos of air raids and family loss. The film’s iconic tribute to the sacrifices on the home front, as movingly directed by William Wyler, did much to rally America’s support for its British allies. “Mrs. Miniver” won six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress.
The Muppet Movie (1979)
Muppet creators Jim Henson and Frank Oz immersed their characters into a well-crafted combination of musical comedy and fantasy adventure. Kermit the Frog leads TV series regulars Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Ralph and Animal on a road trip to Hollywood where they encounter numerous characters played by such actors as Steve Martin, Mel Brooks and Charles Durning.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Disdained as “Spaghetti Westerns” when they first appeared in American movie theaters, the best of these films, such as “Once Upon a Time in the West,” are now recognized as among the greatest achievements of the Western movie genre. Director Sergio Leone’s operatic visual homage to the American Western legend is a chilling tale of vengeance set against the backdrop of the coming of the railroad. Ennio Morricone’s magnificent score (especially the elegiac “Jill’s Theme”) is likewise recognized for its brilliance.
Pillow Talk (1959 )
The first film to co-star Doris Day and Rock Hudson, “Pillow Talk” remains one of the screen’s most definitive, influential and timeless romantic comedies. Sweet and sophisticated, it is a time capsule of 1950s America. Two single New Yorkers develop an anonymous, antagonistic relationship by sharing a telephone “party line.” Both romance and complications ensue when they finally meet in person. The film is a perfect showcase for its two charismatic stars, especially the effervescent Day who demonstrates why she was both America’s Sweetheart and one of cinema’s finest comediennes.
Precious Images (1986)
Chuck Workman’s legendary compilation film to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Directors Guild of America is also a dazzling celebration of the first near-century of American cinema. The pioneer of rapid-fire film history montages, “Precious Images” contains in the space of seven short minutes nearly 500 clips from classic films spanning the years 1903-1985. It became the most influential and widely shown short film in history. Workman is known for creating the montages shown during the annual Academy Awards broadcast.
Quasi at the Quackadero (1975)
“Quasi at the Quackadero” has earned the term “unique.” Once described as a “mixture of 1930s Van Beuren cartoons and 1960s R. Crumb comics with a dash of Sam Flax,” and a descendent of the “Depression-era funny animal cartoon,” Sally Cruikshank’s wildly imaginative tale of odd creatures visiting a psychedelic amusement park careens creatively from strange to truly wacky scenes. It became a favorite of the Midnight Movie circuit in the 1970s. Cruikshank later created animation sequences for “Sesame Street,” the 1986 film “Ruthless People” and the “Cartoon Land” sequence in the 1983 film “Twilight Zone: The Movie.”
The Red Book (1994)
Renowned experimental filmmaker and theater/installation artist Janie Geiser’s work is
known for its ambiguity, explorations of memory and emotional states and exceptional design. She describes “The Red Book” as “an elliptical, pictographic animated film that uses flat, painted figures and collage elements in both two and three dimensional settings to explore the realms of memory, language and identity from the point of view of a woman amnesiac.”
The Revenge of Pancho Villa (1930-36)
This extraordinary compilation film was made by the Padilla family in El Paso, Texas, from dozens of fact-based and fictional films about Pancho Villa. The films were stitched together with original bilingual title cards and dramatic reenactments of Villa’s assassination were added to the revised print. “The Revenge of Pancho Villa” provides stirring evidence of a vital Mexican-American film presence during the 1910-30s.
Scratch and Crow (1995)
Helen Hill’s student film was made at the California Institute of the Arts. Consistent with the short films she made from age 11 until her death at 36, this animated short work is filled with vivid color and a light sense of humor. It is also a poetic and spiritual homage to animals and the human soul.
Stark Love (1927)
A maverick production in both design and concept, “Stark Love” is a beautifully photographed mix of lyrical anthropology and action melodrama from director Karl Brown. “Man is absolute ruler. Woman is working slave.” Such are the rigid attitudes framing this tale of a country boy’s beliefs about chivalry that lead him to try to escape a brutal father with the girl he loves. “Stark Love,” cast exclusively with amateur actors and filmed entirely in the Great Smoky Mountains, is an illuminating portrayal of the Appalachian people.
The Story of G.I. Joe (1945)
William Wellman’s gritty portrayal of the realities of war was based on the newspaper columns of war correspondent Ernie Pyle, played with understated realism by Burgess Meredith. In the film, Pyle follows a small group of ordinary infantrymen from North Africa into Italy, and his observations reflect the full gamut of human emotion that war invokes while trying to make sense of the inhuman randomness of war’s destruction.
A Study in Reds (1932)
This polished amateur film by Miriam Bennett spoofs women’s clubs and the Soviet menace in the 1930s. While listening to a tedious lecture on the Soviet threat, Wisconsin Dells’ Tuesday Club members fall asleep and find themselves laboring in an all-women collective in Russia under the unflinching eye of the Soviet special police.
The most famous music video of all time, “Thriller” caused such a buzz that it was also released theatrically in 35mm. As a follow-up to his smash 1982 album and single, Michael Jackson revolutionized the music industry with this lavish and expensive production. Acclaimed filmmaker John Landis (“Animal House” and “Blues Brothers”) directed and co-wrote the video.
Under Western Stars (1938)
“Under Western Stars” turned Roy Rogers into a movie star. In the film, Rogers plays a populist cowboy/congressman elected to champion for small ranchers’ water rights during the Dust Bowl. He and his golden palomino Trigger appeared in nearly 100 films and a long-running television series. Known as “King of the Cowboys,” the popular Rogers had an enormous impact on American audiences. Rogers was perceived as the almost perfect embodiment of what a cowboy should be in appearance, values, good manners and chivalrous behavior.
Here is a list of the top ten most read stories at New York History in 2009, in descending order.
OHEKA Castle Chronicled in New Book
A new book released this year chronicled the untold story of the largest restored home in America – OHEKA Castle. The 291-page work, entitled OHEKA CASTLE Monument to Survival, is the definitive behind-the-scenes look at the 20-year and $30 million dollar historic preservation of New York’s largest home and Long Island’s largest Gold Coast mansion which, at 115,000 square feet, is more than twice the size of the White House.
NYC: Douglas Brinkley on Roosevelt, ‘Wilderness Warrior’
Douglas Brinkley (Professor of History and Baker Institute Fellow, Rice University) looked at the pioneering environmental policies of President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid bird-watcher and naturalist at the American Museum of Natural History’s Linder Theater in New York City in April to support his new book The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.
28th Annual Iroquois Indian Festival
The Iroquois Indian Museum of Howes Cave, New York, held its 28th Annual Iroquois Indian Festival to be held on Labor Day weekend. The festival’s goal was to foster a greater appreciation and deeper understanding of Iroquois culture through presentations of Iroquois music and social dance, traditional stories, artwork, games and food. This year’s master of ceremonies was Museum Educator, Mike Wahrare Tarbell, a member of the Turtle Clan from the Ahkwesahsne Mohawk Nation.
1609 Exhibit Will Look at Henry Hudson’s Voyage
As part of the celebration of the 2009 Hudson-Champlain Quadricentennial the New York State Office of Cultural Education (OCE) is presenting the exhibition “1609,” which re-examines Henry Hudson’s voyage, the myths that surround it, and explore the legacies of Hudson’s unexpected discovery. The exhibit runs through March of 2010 in the New York State Museum’s Exhibition Hall.
The New Amsterdam Trail, Free Downloadable Audio Tour
The Dutch and the indelible role they played in the formation of the ideas and ideals that shaped New York City and America are celebrated in a free downloadable audio walking tour of New Amsterdam featuring National Park Service Rangers and an expert cast of historians, scientists, and other great storytellers.
Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Events
New Year’s Day 2009 marked the start of New York’s Quadricentennial celebration commemorating 400 years of history on the Hudson River, New York Harbor and Lake Champlain. Throughout the year, New York honored the 400th anniversaries of the voyage of Captain Henry Hudson, who led (for the Dutch) the first European expedition to sail up the river that now bears his name, as well as the voyage of Samuel de Champlain, the first to discover the namesake lake. Communities from the Big Apple to the Canadian border are prepared events and projects to highlight New York’s rich history of exploration and discovery.
New York’s 400th: River Day 2009 Great Flotilla
Beginning June 6, historic vessels and modern day boats traveled the Hudson River from New York Harbor to Albany for “River Day” Commemorating the Voyage of Henry Hudson. Participating boats and ships included The Half Moon, The Onrust, the Sloop Clearwater and Schooner Mystic Whaler plus the Woody Guthrie, a wooden replica of an 18th-19th century Hudson River Ferry Sloop; the 1890’s-style pilot Schooner Adirondack; the Manhattan, an open boat originally built as a life boat to explore the canals of Amsterdam; and the Shearwater, a classic Maine Schooner. The flotilla spent eight days moving north on the Hudson, stopping at yacht clubs and marinas, and cities and communities.
French and Indian War Reenactment at Old Fort Niagara
Over the Fourth of July Weekend, more than 2,300 historic reenactors brought the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War to life at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, NY. The event featured authentically-costumed 18th century British and French soldiers and American Indian warriors who recreated historic encampments and the “Siege of Fort Niagara” of July 1759.
The Mannahatta Project Uncovers NYC in 1609
A new web site was launched to show viewers what New York City looked like before it was a city. The goal of the Mannahatta Project is no less than “to re-start the natural history of New York City.” The site includes a virtual Mannahatta map that allows you to see Mannahatta from any location, block-by-block species information, lessons on the science and technology used to create the site, hundreds of layers of digital data, place-based lesson plans for elementary and high school students that meet New York State standards, an online discussion page, and event listing.
Dance Theatre of Harlem History Exhibit at NYPL
The most read story of the year at New York History was the announcement of the exhibition Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts. Through a rich and colorful mix of spectacular costumes, stage props, posters, programs, intimate photographs and video recordings, the exhibit in the Vincent Astor Gallery of The New York Public Library (no longer running) traced the history of the company, its community outreach, renowned productions and cast of legendary dancers, fans and supporters.
The Crooked Lake Review is a local history magazine for the Conhocton, Canisteo, Tioga, Chemung and Genesee River Valleys, and for the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario Regions of New York State. Crooked Lake is the old name for Keuka Lake, an unusual Finger Lake because it is shaped like a ‘Y’.
According to the their website, the Crooked Lake Review “is a review of the accomplishments of the men, women and families who settled in these regions, built homes, cleared farms and started businesses. It is also a review of the present work and aspirations of the people who were born here or who came to live here.” The first issue of the Review was published in print in May 1988, but since 2006 the Review has been published as an online blog.
Comments and suggestions on the journal are welcome at:
The Crooked Lake Review
7988 Van Amburg Road
Hammondsport, NY 14840
In an effort to make its materials globally accessible, Cornell University Library is sharing tens of thousands of digitized books with the Internet Archive. The new collaboration re-purposes nearly 80,000 books that the Library has already digitized in-house or through its partnership with Microsoft and Kirtas Technologies. All the books are in the public domain, printed before 1923 mainly in the United States. They cover a host of subject areas, including American history, English literature, astronomy, food and wine, general engineering, the history of science, home economics, hospitality and travel, labor relations, Native American materials, ornithology, veterinary medicine and women’s studies.
The collaboration with Internet Archive is another step in Cornell University Library’s participation in mass digitization initiatives. Earlier this year, the Library announced an expanded print-on-demand partnership with Amazon.com that allows readers to pay for reprinting of books on an individual basis.
To see Cornell University Library’s contributions, visit http://archive.org/details/cornell.