As the ravages of the First World War and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic receded into the past, a new spirit gripped New York City. Energy seemed to infuse every aspect of city life, from business to leisure and everything in between. For a decade, New Yorkers by and large lived, worked and partied with abandon. [Read more…] about New York City In the Roaring 20s: A Primer
Dutch-American History: The Phoenix Tragedy, 1847
I love to make evening walks in the town of Winterswijk, where I was born. The Dutch habit of keeping curtains open makes strolls resemble visits to a museum, with the windows framing paintings that offer ever-changing views. I like to discover routes to find new, unfamiliar places.
One evening, in December 2020, I passede the old graveyard of Winterswijk, a place that usually gives me the creeps. For some reason — I still don’t know why, — I decide to walk across the graveyard this time. I immediately spotted a brightly lit memorial: two bollards holding up a colorful plaque. The sign reads: “The Phoenix Tragedy, 1847.” [Read more…] about Dutch-American History: The Phoenix Tragedy, 1847
An English Gambler, A Jewish Butcher & The History of Pastrami on Rye
The term sandwich bread (loaf) started circulating in the United States during the 1930s. It followed a revolution in the manner the product was presented to customers, no longer homemade but mass produced. After a decade of trial and error, the bread slicing machine was introduced and soon widely used. The sandwich was about to conquer the American and European markets. Grabbing a sandwich came to symbolize the rush of an urban society. [Read more…] about An English Gambler, A Jewish Butcher & The History of Pastrami on Rye
Clinton County’s Irish Immigrant Legacy
Many people from Clinton County, NY have ancestors from Ireland or Canada. In the 1850 census, in the Town of Ausable, one in four people were born in Canada or Ireland. In the Town of Clinton, every other person would have been born in Canada or Ireland. In the whole of Clinton County in 1850, only half could claim to be born in New York, as was the case for the Town of Black Brook. [Read more…] about Clinton County’s Irish Immigrant Legacy
A $17.7M Ellis Island Immigration Building Project
Ellis Island became the first federal immigration station in the United States, opening in 1892. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style by the New York architectural firm Boring and Tilton, the Main Immigration Building was completed in 1900, replacing the original wood structure destroyed by fire in 1897. From 1892 to 1954 some 12 million immigrants were processed there. [Read more…] about A $17.7M Ellis Island Immigration Building Project
The Moravian Church in North America
In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World, Paul Peucker, an archivist and the Director of the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, joins Liz Covart to investigate the establishment of the Moravian Church in North America. [Read more…] about The Moravian Church in North America
Jane Addams, Alice Hamilton & The Hague Women’s Congress
Berlin, May 1915. Three feminists on an historical mission — Jane Addams and New York native Alice Hamilton from the United States, and Aletta Jacobs from the Netherlands — meet Wilbur H. Durborough. The American photographer and filmmaker had traveled to Berlin with his cameraman, Irving G. Ries, to shoot footage for his war documentary On the Firing Line with the Germans (1915). [Read more…] about Jane Addams, Alice Hamilton & The Hague Women’s Congress
Chuck Connors & Slum Tourism in Chinatown
Dating from 1785, Edward Mooney House at 18 Bowery, at the corner of Pell Street in Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown, is one of New York’s oldest surviving brick townhouses. Built shortly after the British evacuated New York and before George Washington became President, its architecture contains elements of both pre-Revolutionary (British) Georgian and the in-coming (American) Federal style. Designated in 1966 as a landmark sample of domestic architecture, Mooney House has three stories, an attic and full basement.
The property itself and the land on which it was built are manifestations of Manhattan’s socio-political emergence. The house harbors a history of various functions that involved a diverse mix of tenants and occupants, reflecting the chaotic rise of the metropolis. [Read more…] about Chuck Connors & Slum Tourism in Chinatown
Plattsburgh’s Cigar Industry: 1860s-1940s
Plattsburgh, from the 1860s through to the Second World War, was a manufacturing center for the 5 cent cigar. The smell of a quality cigar could be detected walking down Margaret Street between Court and Broad Streets. What began with small businesses in the late 1860s, turned into a major cigar manufacturing industry for the City of Plattsburgh thanks to the Scheier, Mendelsohn, Levy, Merkel and Payette families, to name a few.
The handmade cigar industry in Plattsburgh employed dozens of workers and produced thousands of cigars. [Read more…] about Plattsburgh’s Cigar Industry: 1860s-1940s
George West: Saratoga County’s Paper Bag King
“The Paper Bag King” developed his paper-making skills as an apprentice in England and his business acumen as a 19th century entrepreneur in Saratoga County. George West earned the nickname from being on the cutting edge of offering flour companies a choice between cotton and paper sacks, the latter of which was cheaper and, hence, became more common.
West’s mill at Rock City Falls in the town of Milton was among the first in the United State to make bags from paper. It was one of about a dozen 19th century paper mills in Saratoga County that West would come to own. [Read more…] about George West: Saratoga County’s Paper Bag King