On Thursday, December 15th, the New York City Historic Districts Council (HDC) and their community partners were joined by elected officials and concerned members of the public for a press conference at City Hall, condemning City agencies for approving a raft of demolitions of landmarked buildings across New York City. [Read more…] about NYC Preservationists, Officials Protest Demolition of Historic Landmarks
Nationalism of the nineteenth century represents very different values to those of our era. With the present rise of frenzied flag-waving and militant xenophobia, it is hard to understand the cult status achieved by foreign revolutionary figures such as Lafayette, who was honored as the “French Hero of the American Revolution.”
In 1878 a bust of Giuseppe Mazzini was unveiled in New York City‘s Central Park. A decade later, on the sixth anniversary of his death, Giuseppe Garibaldi was memorialized with a bronze statue in Washington Square Park. Why were these relatively unknown Italian insurgents given such a prestigious presence in New York? [Read more…] about Italian Heroes In New York: What Purpose Did Statues Serve?
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
The quick-witted Hugh Ryan has a nose for history, as demonstrated in his book When Brooklyn Was Queer. His latest The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison mines little-known historical sources to point out how a large and vocal population of queer-identified and trans people passed through the old cement monstrosity that used to stand next to today’s Jefferson Market Library in Manhattan‘s Greenwich Village.
Now a community garden, the site is a shout away from the Stonewall Inn, and Ryan writes the story of some of those imprisoned voices left out of the customary tales of the riot. In fact, prisoners set fire to their bedclothes and tossed them from the barred windows overlooking 6th Ave chanting “gay rights, gay rights gay rights.” Even before Stonewall’s impassioned response to police exploitation of gay bars, House of D. queer women, transmasculine people and other women were rioting for their rights in the jail. [Read more…] about Arrested Attention: The Women’s House of Detention
The socio-political and economic turmoil of the early twentieth century transformed American society. Between the conclusion of the Civil War and the end of the First World War, the country went from being a predominantly rural farming society to an urban industrial one. [Read more…] about Socialism, Greenwich Village & ‘The Masses’
The Women’s House of Detention, a landmark that ushered in the modern era of women’s imprisonment, is now largely forgotten. But when it stood in New York City’s Greenwich Village, from 1929 to 1974, it was a nexus for the tens of thousands of women, transgender men, and gender-nonconforming people who inhabited its crowded cells.
Some of these inmates — Angela Davis, Andrea Dworkin, Afeni Shakur — were famous, but the vast majority were incarcerated for the crimes of being poor and improperly feminine. Today, approximately 40 percent of the people in women’s prisons identify as queer; in earlier decades, that percentage was almost certainly higher. [Read more…] about The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison
In the history of migration the (often neglected) participation of women has been crucial. Tales of hardship and bravery are legion. The plight of women who have had to make painful sacrifices has been highlighted by artists and historians, though more easily forgotten by the general public.
Zaida Ben Yùsuf joined the American labor force in the 1890s. She was in the vanguard of women who became professionally involved in the production of periodicals, as magazines reached a mass readership and photographs supplanted illustrations. But it was her migrant mother who had blazed the trail. [Read more…] about Anna Ben-Yùsuf: The Bravery of a Migrant Mother
James R. McManus was born in Hell’s Kitchen in 1936 and recently died in 2019. For 54 years (from 1962 to 2016) he was the Democratic Party District Leader from the Hell’s Kitchen area. This was a position that his father Eugene E. McManus had held for 20 years before him.
Previously Eugene McManus’s great grand uncle, Thomas J. McManus, had held the position, since the formation of the McManus Democratic Club in 1892, when he defeated the prior District Leader George Washington Plunkitt, author of Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics (1905). [Read more…] about Tammany’s Last Stand: The McManus Club & The McGovern Campaign
The city of New Rochelle has a relevant place in the founding history of the United States. It was here that in 1689 a small community of French Protestant refugees would settle.
Known as Huguenots, they exercised considerable influence on America’s course towards self-determination. George Washington descended from a Huguenot refugee on his mother’s side. [Read more…] about Huguenots & New Rochelle’s Spirit of Liberty
Nineteenth century critics constructed an image of the artist as masculine, ignoring the fact that women were very much part of the bohemian subculture. In literary and pictorial representations, the figure of the “grisette” was consistently associated with the Latin Quarter.
The term refers to a group of independent young women who frequented Parisian cafés, posed as artist’s models, and provided additional sexual favors. The most enduring grisette is Mimi in Henri Murger’s “Scènes de la vie de Bohème,” the source for Puccini’s opera La bohème. [Read more…] about Queens of Bohemia: Laura Keene, Ada Clare & Adah Isaacs Menken