Marjorie Sewell Cautley (1891–1954) was the first woman landscape architect to design state parks, the first to plan the landscape of a federally funded housing project, the first to lecture in a university’s city planning department – and the first person to design a plan for D.L. Rogers Memorial Park in Bolton Landing on Lake George. [Read more…] about Marjorie Sewell Cautley: Renowned Landscape Architect
The preliminary design for a new gateway to Marsha P. Johnson State Park in Brooklyn was unveiled this summer. The park honors Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender woman of color who was a pioneer of the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. [Read more…] about Marsha P Johnson State Park Gateway Design Unveiled
This week on The Historians Podcast, Bob Gumson discusses his memoir, In Blind Sight: From Canarsie, Brooklyn with Love, Music and Mischief (Troy Book Makers, 2020). [Read more…] about In Blind Sight: From Canarsie, Brooklyn
Between 1915 and 1970, in the wake of racial terror during the post-Reconstruction period, millions of Black Americans fled from their homes to other areas within the South and to other parts of the country. This movement of people caused a radical shift in the demographic, economic, and sociopolitical makeup of the United States.
For instance, New York City — and particularly Manhattan — became home to hundreds of thousands of Black Americans during this time, catalyzing the start of the artistic and cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. [Read more…] about Artists Reflect On the Impact of Great Migration in New Exhibit
For the first decade of its existence, New Amsterdam was a rough place. Located on the tip of Manhattan Island, it was a haven for pirates and smugglers. Many of the earliest rules and regulations were an attempt to control the unruly citizens of a backwater outpost, but officials proved unable to lay down the law. Intemperate drinking was one of the problems.
In 1640 permission was granted by Willem Kieft, Director of the New Netherland Colony, for liquor to be distilled on Staten Island – in contemporary Dutch: Staaten Eylandt – where what is believed to have been the first commercial distillery in North America was built (today Staten Island is home to the Booze History Museum). [Read more…] about Early Distilling History: Puritan Bibles, Gin & Schnapps
I spent my last year of high school at a day school in Brooklyn Heights named Saint Ann’s. Across the street was the church with which the school was loosely affiliated – the Church of Saint Ann and the Holy Trinity.
I don’t think I entered the grand though deteriorating Gothic Revival church for any reason other than to take part in my class’s graduation ceremonies – though I later came to know it as a peerless concert venue. (In some circles, it’s best known as the hall where an unknown Jeff Buckley launched his tragically short career with a tribute to his late father, the folk singer Tim Buckley.)
I wish I had found reasons to visit the church more often. I would have introduced myself to its assisting priest, the Rev. W. Howard Melish, a leftist activist who had written articles for the Daily Worker, the newspaper edited by my father in the 1940s and 50s.
And we could have talked about Lake George. [Read more…] about Lake George Millionaires and Ministers
Who knew that a military encampment once existed in today’s busy eclectic Chelsea in Manhattan?
The inquisitive tourist will not see or hear anything about a Revolutionary War camp there. Nor will they hear about General John Fellows or his headquarters at a glass works factory. Additionally, there were long forgotten tent encampments near the glassworks where 1500 Massachusetts Provincials slept.
These ghosts with muskets and white canvas tents were members of the Fellows’ Massachusetts Brigade. History recorded little about their activities and no known permanent monuments or markers were ever established to give us a clue about soldiers actual location or activities. [Read more…] about Camp Chelsea, 1776: Manhattan’s Lost Revolutionary Garrison
Sterling Forest State Park in Orange County, NY is growing by an additional 130 acres that includes a portion of the former Greenwood Forest Farms, the first resort in New York State incorporated by and for Black families.
Between its founding in 1919 and through the 1960s, a portion of this property was Greenwood Forest Farms, which was founded by a group of prominent Black families and civic leaders from New York City, the resort became a haven for cultural and civil rights leaders from Harlem and Brooklyn, including writer Langston Hughes. Some descendants of the original pioneers now live in the neighborhood year-round. [Read more…] about Sterling Forest State Park Expands With Purchase of Historic Black Resort
Migration is more than the mere movement of people and populations. It implies a transmission of ideas, customs, and practices. The arrival in the mid-nineteenth century of large numbers of political refugees in the United States from German-speaking territories would transform economic and cultural life in the locations of settlement. It had a major impact on the philosophy of education in Boston, New York, and elsewhere. [Read more…] about A History of Kindergarten: From Spa to Tenement
Exploding urban populations during the nineteenth century demanded new solutions towards burying the dead. Traditional congregational graveyards were either full or overcrowded. A combination of practical thinking and the wish to commune with nature (inspired by Romantic poetry) led to the development of serene burial grounds outside the city boundaries.
Founded as a “rural” or “garden” cemetery in 1838, Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery is famous for its picturesque landscape features with evocative names such as Camellia Path, Halcyon Lake, Oaken Bluff, or Vista Hill. Elaborate monuments and mausoleums, designed in an array of architectural styles, honor the Lispenard dynasty (Norman), William Niblo (Gothic), the Steinway family (Classical), and others.
And then there is the Feltman mausoleum, the columns of which feature Corinthian capitals. On each side of the doorway stands a trio of mourning figures. Those on the left hold symbols of faith (cross and doves); those on the right show grief and sorrow. The pediment features two cherubs holding a wreath with the initial F in the center. On top of the temple is a cupola with the Archangel Michael standing guard, sword at the ready. The building serves to celebrate the memory of just one man. Who was this person? A Founding Father maybe? A respected politician (if that is not a contradiction in terms)? A celebrated artist? [Read more…] about A Dog’s Tale: Dachshunds, Hot Dogs, Coney Island & Greenwood Cemetery