Florenz hit his stride with the Follies of 1907. A combination of European refinement, the signing of high quality performers (chorus girls), choreographers and lyricists, a relatively short show of forty minutes presented with lightning speed and precision, created an unprecedented sense of theatrical excitement. [Read more…] about Florenz Ziegfeld: The Incarnation of Broadway
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World Podcast, Maureen Connors Santelli, an Associate Professor of History at Northern Virginia Community College and author of The Greek Fire: American-Ottoman Relations and Democratic Fervor in the Age of Revolutions (Cornell Univ. Press, 2020), joins Liz to investigate the Greek Revolution and early Americans’ reactions to it. [Read more…] about Greek Fire: The Greek Revolution in Early America
The St. Lawrence & Adirondack Railroad, also known as the Mohawk & Malone – eventually owned by the New York Central and called the Adirondack Line or the Adirondack Railroad ran directly through the Adirondacks from Herkimer (near Utica) to Malone connecting the rail lines along the Mohawk River to the Main Trunk Line running into Montreal. The line is often attributed to William Seward Webb, but it was the men who actually built the line that are the subject of this essay.
On March 29, 1892 a Boston Globe article titled “Labor’s Slaves in the Adirondacks” reported that Utica “resembled Washington during war times, hundreds of penniless and destitute Negroes are camped out tonight in the temporary places of shelter given them, and the citizens of Utica are consulting as to the best means of returning them to their homes.”
The Globe told readers that all night, “runaway slaves” had been coming into town. One hundred and fifty of them, mostly black laborers from the Deep South, but some recently arrived European immigrants as well. [Read more…] about “Labor’s Slaves in the Adirondacks”: Building the Adirondack Railroad
Brad Kolodny returns to The Long Island History Project podcast to update us on what he’s been doing during the intervening thirty episodes since he last appeared. Turns out he’s got a new book and a new historical society.
The Jews of Long Island (SUNY Press, 2020) is out now and in it Kolodny documents the personal and communal stories of Jews on Long Island from the l8th through the early 20th centuries, uncovering a cast of thousands from itinerant peddlers to early baseball players to vacationing vaudevillians. [Read more…] about The Jews of Long Island (A New Book)
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
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
As control of the American economy became increasingly centralized in trusts located on Wall Street after the Civil War, and the wealth of men like J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller grew exponentially, there developed an increasing backlash against such concentrations of wealth. In the 1880s, through an investigation by a committee of the New York State Legislature, Americans became aware that Standard Oil secretly controlled a number of supposedly competing oil companies. By 1910 almost 90% of the world’s oil supply was controlled from the company’s headquarters at 26 Broadway in Manhattan. [Read more…] about Trust Busting: William Jennings Bryan & Theodore Roosevelt
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
With the demise of the Philadelphia based Bank of the United States, the financial center of the country shifted to the privately owned state chartered financial firms on Wall Street.
As the nation recovered from the severe depression in the Panic of 1837, President James K. Polk’s policy of Manifest Destiny took root and significant westward settlement of Indigenous land expanded in the 1840s. Fortified by the Erie Canal and its Canal Fund, Wall Street financial institutions became strongly influenced by four factors: the invention of the telegraph; the development of railroads; the discovery of gold and other precious minerals in the West (particularly the California Gold Rush of 1849); and the arrival of significant numbers of Jewish and Irish immigrants in the city of New York. [Read more…] about Wall St History: 19th Century Growth of Investment Banking
By the mid-nineteenth century European gymnastics was an established system that had evolved through a century of innovation and adaptation. Originating in the Enlightenment with the
experiments of educational reformers intent on reviving a Greek ideal which the Roman poet Juvenal had summarized as mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body), gymnastics achieved widespread recognition after Friedrich Ludwig Jahn initiated the Turnverein (gymnastics club) movement.
The inventor of apparatus such as the balance beam, parallel bars, and vaulting horse, he used the discipline of organized exercise to inspire young gymnasts with a sense of national (Prussian) duty and solidarity. Jahn turned gymnastics into an agency of German patriotism.
The ambiguity of his message: enjoyment of competition and companionship versus militant nationalism, brought about Jahn’s contrasting legacies in Europe and the United States. [Read more…] about Gymnastics History: The Legacy of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn’s Turnerism