“Back number” in contemporary parlance means “back issue.” Today we take for granted the availability of old newspapers and other periodicals, as well as their invaluable glimpse into our past. But this was not the case in the 19th century. [Read more…] about Back Number Budd: A 19th Century One-Man Newspaper Archive
Raines Law, Loopholes and Prohibition
A loophole is an ambiguity or inadequacy in a legal text or a set of rules that people identify and use to avoid adhering to it. Exploiting loopholes in tax legislation by big corporations or wealthy individuals is a preoccupation of our time. The authorities fight a losing battle trying to plug them as lawyers specialize in finding new and profitable flaws. [Read more…] about Raines Law, Loopholes and Prohibition
Did George Washington Burn New York City?
August 27, 1776, British troops under General William Howe attacked American forces commanded by George Washington in the Battle of Brooklyn. Assailed from three sides, Washington and the main body of the Americans escaped across the East River to Manhattan and then fled north, ultimately crossing the Hudson River, then known as the North River, to New Jersey.
If Washington and his troops had been captured either in Brooklyn or Manhattan, the American Revolution would likely have ended soon after it began. [Read more…] about Did George Washington Burn New York City?
A Stroll in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1854
The following text is an except from Fifteen Minutes around New York by George G. Foster (New York: DeWitt & Davenport 1854) and was transcribed by George A. Thompson of the Hudson River Maritime Museum.
It was very warm — a sort of sultry, sticky day, which makes you feel as if you had washed yourself in molasses and water, and had found that the chambermaid had forgotten to give you a towel. The very rust on the hinges of the Park gate has melted and run down into the sockets, making them creak with a sort of ferruginous lubricity, as you feebly push them open. The hands on the [New York] City Hall clock droop, and look as if they would knock off work if they only had sufficient energy to get up a strike. The omnibus horses creep languidly along, and yet can’t stand still when they are pulled up to take in or let out passengers — the flies are so persevering, so bitter, so hungry. [Read more…] about A Stroll in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1854
Unfriendly to Liberty: NYC Loyalist Networks Before the Revolution
The book Unfriendly to Liberty: NYC Loyalist Networks Before the Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2023) by Christopher F. Minty explores the origins of loyalism in the city of New York between 1768 and 1776, and revises the understanding of the coming of the American Revolution. [Read more…] about Unfriendly to Liberty: NYC Loyalist Networks Before the Revolution
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
Who Started The Great New York Fire of 1776?
The book The Great New York Fire of 1776: A Lost Story of the American Revolution (Yale University Press, 2023) by Benjamin Carp explores the Great Fire of 1776 and why its origins remained a mystery even after the British investigated it in 1776 and 1783. [Read more…] about Who Started The Great New York Fire of 1776?
Vulgarity & Vice: Times Square in the 1920s
The 1920s was a decade of change and upheaval. While Europe was recovering from the First World War, the United States saw a period of economic growth and prosperity in which the country’s focus shifted from rural areas to the cities. It was also a time of great creativity in art and entertainment. New York City set the pace. [Read more…] about Vulgarity & Vice: Times Square in the 1920s
Major General William Alexander, Lord Stirling: A Short Biography
William Alexander was born on December 25, 1726 in the city of New York to well-known lawyer James Alexander and his wife Mary. Mary and James had emigrated from Scotland in 1716. When they married, Mary was already a widow with six children and she and James had seven more. William was the second son of Mary and James, but when his older brother died in 1731, William became the male heir to the Alexander clan. [Read more…] about Major General William Alexander, Lord Stirling: A Short Biography
The Migration of European Modern Art to New York: Solomon Guggenheim & Karl Nierendorf
Born on April 18, 1889, in Remagen am Rhein into a Catholic family, Karl Nierendorf was educated in Cologne. He worked as a banker before World War I, but his career was disrupted in 1913 by the social upheaval in the Weimar Republic. One of his acquaintances, an art collector, introduced him to the Swiss-born German painter Paul Klee who persuaded him to attempt a career as an art dealer. The two would remain close. When Klee died in June 1940, Nierendorf published Paul Klee Paintings Watercolors 1913 to 1939 (New York: Oxford UP, 1941) as a tribute and an act of friendship. [Read more…] about The Migration of European Modern Art to New York: Solomon Guggenheim & Karl Nierendorf