In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World Podcast, Andrea Mosterman, an Associate Professor of History at the University of New Orleans and author of Spaces of Enslavement: A History of Slavery and Resistance in Dutch New York (Cornell Univ. Press, 2021), joins us to explore what life was like in New Netherland and early New York, especially for the enslaved people who did much of the work to build this Dutch, and later English, colony. [Read more…] about New Netherland: Slavery and Resistance in Dutch New York
The First Great Reset: Wall St, the Great Depression & the Pecora Commission
Initially many thought the severe Wall Street crash of October 1929 was a temporary phenomenon and like many subsequent crashes (i.e. 1987, 2008) the stock market would recover in a few months or years.
Unfortunately, this did not prove to be the case. After some upward spurts, stocks on the New York Stock Exchange continued to fall for the next three years and economic conditions throughout the country continued to worsen, so that by 1932 the market closed at 41, a drop of 89% over its 1929 high of 381. Employment in Wall Street firms plummeted, as the once heady activity evaporated and the Great Depression took hold.
The response would require a great reset between Wall Street and working Americans. [Read more…] about The First Great Reset: Wall St, the Great Depression & the Pecora Commission
A History of Wall Street: Tontine Coffee House & The Buttonwood Agreement
Many New Yorkers, and many Americans generally, consider Wall Street – to be the world’s most famous and important street. Many tourists are surprised to find that Wall Street, once described as “a short street with the river at one end and a Church at the other,” is only seven blocks long.
Originally named for a palisade wall built by the Dutch in the 1640s (and torn down by the English in 1699), the street was an important east-west thoroughfare until the American Revolution. At that time the entire city of New York, home to about 15,000 people, was south of City Hall Park.
One of the current ironies is that Wall Street today has returned to its residential roots. The financial institutions which became famous there now are located in midtown Manhattan or elsewhere. [Read more…] about A History of Wall Street: Tontine Coffee House & The Buttonwood Agreement
A Short History of New York City’s ‘Evacuation Day’
At noon on November 25, 2014 about 25 people gathered at the flag poles at the north end of Manhattan’s Bowling Green to raise a specially designed flag with 13 stars and stripes.
It was a replica of the flag which was raised at the same spot on November 25, 1783 (Evacuation Day) when George Washington’s Continental army had marched into New York City officially ending the American Revolutionary War. [Read more…] about A Short History of New York City’s ‘Evacuation Day’
NYC Politico Jimmy McManus and Tammany History (Series Conclusion)
Jimmy McManus was interested in promoting the political history of Hell’s Kitchen and Tammany Hall. He occasionally would co-lead walking tours about the political history of Hell’s Kitchen for the 92nd Street Y or Culture Now.
One of McManus’s earlier activities in this regard was as a member and later President of the National Democratic Club of New York, which dated from 1834 and was credited with swinging the 1844 Presidential election to Democratic candidate James K. Polk, when as the Empire Club it helped carry New York State to James K. Polk over his opponent Henry Clay. [Read more…] about NYC Politico Jimmy McManus and Tammany History (Series Conclusion)
Tammany’s McManus Club: The Final Decades
In 1984, longtime Tammany politician and leader of McManus Democratic Club James R. McManus was challenged for his position as Hell’s Kitchen’s District Leader by a reform politician named Hamed Houssain. Houssain argued that it was time for the district’s voters to retire the last vestige of Tammany Hall and throw out the organization affiliated with the corrupt disgraced Camine DeSapio.
McManus however, was overwhelmingly reelected and Mayor Ed Koch attended his victory party. For the next 33 years, until his retirement in 2017, there would be no other challenges to Jimmy McManus for the position of District Leader in Hell’s Kitchen. [Read more…] about Tammany’s McManus Club: The Final Decades
The Theatre District & Hell’s Kitchen Revival
With the recent reopening of Broadway and the Theatre District in the city of New York, which is claimed to be a $1.8 billion industry, it’s appropriate to remember James R. McManus’s role in the efforts to bring Broadway and the adjacent Hell’s Kitchen district to what it is today.
Around 1972 economic and social conditions in Hell’s Kitchen and the rest of the city of New York were beginning to deteriorate. At the time that Jim’s father and great grand uncle had been the District Leaders, living conditions in the once notorious slum had improved for most residents.
This was partially because of improvements in the city’s manufacturing economy during the two world wars, and because of the New Deal social welfare policies pioneered by Al Smith and Frances Perkins. [Read more…] about The Theatre District & Hell’s Kitchen Revival
Shoemaking to Sewing Machines: One Central NY Cobbler’s Path to Prosperity
Shoemaking was a common trade for centuries, but quickly became a casualty of the industrial revolution in the 19th century. The development of the sewing machine in the 1840s, by Elias Howe, Isaac Singer (from Pittstown, Rensselaer County, NY) and others revolutionized the textile industry.
Machines that could stitch leather for shoes soon also appeared and events like the Civil War spurred the technology on. The U.S. Army ordered thousands of machine-made boots for its soldiers. During this time, Russel Crego (1820-1892) was one New York shoemaker who made a very successful leap from making shoes by hand to selling sewing machines, not only to factories but to the home market. [Read more…] about Shoemaking to Sewing Machines: One Central NY Cobbler’s Path to Prosperity
Train Ferries: The Hudson River’s Most Unusual Steamers
Among the many hundreds of steamboats plying the Hudson River when that waterway served as a primary method of moving people and freight, a few stand out as unusual. The most remarkable of these is perhaps the railroad transports, used to ferry railroad cars.
Also known as train ferries, or car ferries (not to be confused with auto ferries), they were fitted with railway tracks and doors at each end to allow for loading and unloading. [Read more…] about Train Ferries: The Hudson River’s Most Unusual Steamers
The Union Club’s Camp on Big Moose Lake
The Club Camp is often mentioned as the first permanent structure built on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks. The word permanent is rather ironic as this hunting and fishing establishment had a relatively short history of just 28 years. Today the camp’s origins, visitors, and sad end seem largely forgotten. [Read more…] about The Union Club’s Camp on Big Moose Lake