On a frigid night in January 1840, the luxury steamboat Lexington burned and sank in the middle of the Long Island Sound with over 140 people on board. What followed were harrowing tales of survival, tragic deaths, and a media sensation that dominated the headlines for months. [Read more…] about The Steamboat Lexington Tragedy in Long Island Sound
In January 1840 the steamboat Lexington left Manhattan bound for Stonington, Connecticut, at four o’clock in the afternoon on a bitterly cold day carrying an estimated one hundred forty-seven passengers and crew and a cargo of, among other things, baled cotton.
After making her way up an ice-encrusted East River and into Long Island Sound, she caught fire off Eaton’s Neck on Long Island’s north shore at approximately seven o’clock. The fire quickly ignited the cotton stowed on board. [Read more…] about Death By Fire And Ice: The Steamboat Lexington Calamity
The period after the Civil War was one of significant economic and technological expansion in the nation and one in which corporations headquartered in Lower Manhattan and Wall Street would obtain a significant hegemony over the American economy.
This was a time in which individual entrepreneurs were running private businesses located on Wall Street. Men such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan were major figures in the country and attained economic power and wealth on a scale previously unknown in United States history.
Much of their wealth was derived exploiting natural resources and technological innovations (notably steam engines, railroads, and oil). It was also largely dependent on the economy’s western expansion and African-American and immigrant labor. These men, who some call “Titans of Industry” and others “Robber Barons,” generally consolidated independent businesses into national enterprises, large monopolies, and multinational corporations. Many of these were headquartered in Lower Manhattan. [Read more…] about Wall Street History: Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Gould, and Morgan
New York’s railroads were born of the cutthroat conflict of rate wars, bloody strikes and political graft. The railroad wars began as soon as the first line was chartered between Albany and Schenectady when supporters of the Erie Canal tried to block the new technology that would render their waterway obsolete.
After the first primitive railroads overcame that hurdle, they began battling with one another in a series of rate wars to gain market share. Attracted by the success of the rails, the most powerful and cunning capitalists in the country—Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Daniel Drew and other robber barons—joined the fray. [Read more…] about The Railroad Wars of New York State