Alexander Macomb, the elder, (1748–1831) was a fur trader, land and currency speculator, and slaveholder who supported the British during the American Revolution and provided the occupying British army with trade goods. [Read more…] about The Two Alexander Macombs: A Slaveholder & A Duplicitous Negotiator
The new book The Great New York Fire of 1776: A Lost Story of the American Revolution (Yale Univ. Press, 2023) by Benjamin L. Carp takes a look at who set the mysterious fire that burned down much of the city of New York shortly after the British took the city during the Revolutionary War. [Read more…] about The Great New York Fire of 1776
The first known Chinese restaurant in America, Canton Restaurant, is believed to have opened in San Francisco in 1849. Today, according to the Chinese American Restaurant Association, more than 45,000 Chinese restaurants operate across the United States, more than all the McDonald’s, KFCs, Pizza Huts, Taco Bells and Wendy’s combined.
Their story begins with Chinese immigrants to California in the mid-nineteenth century — mostly from Canton province — drawn by the Gold Rush of 1849 and fleeing economic problems and famine in China. Though some headed to the gold fields, most Chinese immigrants to the San Francisco Bay area provided services for the miners as traders, grocers, merchants and restaurant owners. [Read more…] about Chinese Restaurant History in New York City
Around 1800, Philip and Catharine Brotherson arrived in Blue Corners on the western edge of Charlton in Saratoga County. Over the next 40 years, their five children grew to maturity, the last being Benjamin Kissam Brotherson, born in 1819.
At the age of sixteen, Benjamin was hired as a clerk for the dry goods merchant James Winne in Albany, New York. During his time in Albany, he was known as an upstanding young man of good moral character. Three years later, in 1838, he moved to the city of New York and took a job at Union Bank, where he would work for the next twenty years. [Read more…] about Ben Brotherson’s Bank Scheme
A descendant of Dutch settlers, Jacob Aaron Westervelt began his career in 1814 as an apprentice in Christian Bergh’s shipyard at the point of land on the East River known as Corlears Hook. He left his employer in 1835 to start his own operation along the river. Over a period of three decades, the yard produced 234 vessels.
One of Jacob’s first commissions in 1836 was to build the packet boat Mediator for John Griswold’s Black X Line. Founded in 1823, its ships ran between New York and London displaying a house flag with a black X on a red background. [Read more…] about Restless Roamer: James Smithson’s Final Journey
Pugilistic champions of other days and of the present time passed in rapid review before a crowd of 2,500 sports in the Broadway Athletic Club last night. There was a rare galaxy of them. [Read more…] about An 1896 ‘Old Timers’ Boxing Event in New York City
The engagement on upper Manhattan Island on September 16th, 1776, was the first successful battle for George Washington’s troops in the quest for independence from Great Britain and presaged the emergence of an effective fighting force among the citizen-soldiers who made up the Continental Army.
The cooperative effort of regiments from New England, Maryland, and Virginia — whose men lacked any sense of national identity before the American Revolution — indicated the potential for this fledgling army to cohere around a common national purpose and affiliation and become the primary instrument for securing America’s right to self-rule. [Read more…] about The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776
The coffee habit was introduced into Western Europe in the mid-seventeenth century. The emergence of the London coffeehouse transformed various aspects of intellectual and commercial life. Lloyd’s insurance, the postal system and the auction house are some of the institutions that trace their origins back to the coffeehouse.
At a time that journalism was in its infancy, the coffeehouse provided a center of communication and news dissemination. It served as a forum of discussion, often becoming a hotbed of political strife and faction. Coffeehouse culture helped shape the public sphere of the Enlightenment. [Read more…] about The Queen of Greenwich Village: Romany Marie Marchand
In 2023, the United States Military Academy will remove 13 Confederate symbols on its West Point campus. They include a portrait of Robert E. Lee dressed in a Confederate uniform, a stone bust of Lee, who was superintendent of West Point before the Civil War, and a bronze plaque with an image of a hooded figure and the words “Ku Klux Klan.”
Art displayed in the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC, still includes images of 141 enslavers and 13 Confederates who went to war against the country. A study by the Washington Post found that more than one-third of the statues and portraits in the Capitol building honor enslavers or Confederates and at least six more honor possible enslavers where evidence is disputed. [Read more…] about US, NYS Continues To Honor Slavers, Racists, Traitors and Scoundrels
Manhattan’s 57th Street, the world’s “most expensive” street, was laid out and opened in 1857 as the city of New York expanded northward.
With the Hudson and East Rivers on either end, the area was until then largely uninhabited and clustered with small factories and workshops. As late as the 1860s, the area east of Central Park was a shantytown with up to 5,000 squatters.
Half a century later it was Manhattan’s cultural heart and an intercontinental meeting place of artists, collectors and dealers. [Read more…] about Manhattan’s Great Art Dealers: Some History