“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
New York City
New York City In the Roaring 20s: A Primer
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
How Harlem Developed as an African American Community
This week on The Historians Podcast, New York City attorney and regular New York Almanack contributor Jim Kaplan explains how Harlem was economically developed in the early 1900s. Jewish financiers joined with Black realtor Phillip Payton to develop Harlem and in the process improved race relations in New York City. [Read more…] about How Harlem Developed as an African American Community
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
State Museum Showing Seized Elephant Ivory from Illegal Trade
Elephant ivory seized during a massive New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) led crackdown on the illegal ivory trade is now on display at the New York State Museum. The display is a reminder of the rampant and continued slaughter of the African elephant, rhinoceros, and other iconic endangered species that fuel the transnational illegal trade in wildlife. [Read more…] about State Museum Showing Seized Elephant Ivory from Illegal Trade
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
Watchable Wildlife: Brooklyn’s Prospect Park
One of the largest parks in Brooklyn, Prospect Park, offers the chance to see just about any bird that travels through New York City. Located along the Atlantic Flyway, Prospect Park is ideal for birding, with more than 250 species spotted each year, including migrating songbirds in spring and fall, and a large diversity of waterfowl and resident birds throughout the year. [Read more…] about Watchable Wildlife: Brooklyn’s Prospect Park