Baker had started her career as a young dancer in Vaudeville shows where her exuberant talent was quickly spotted. When she moved to New York City she joined in the festival of black life and art now known as the Harlem Renaissance, but segregation and racism drove her away from home. [Read more…] about The Cabaret Trail: 1920s Urban Nightlife in New York, Paris & London
Washington Irving was the son of immigrants. His father was a Presbyterian Scot, his mother Cornish. He was born on April 3rd, 1783, the same week that New Yorkers celebrated the ceasefire that ended the American Revolution. His parents named their son after George Washington. They had settled at 131 William Street, Manhattan, and were part of the city’s merchant class.
Washington began writing letters to the New York Morning Chronicle in 1802. He gained recognition as a satirical author in 1809 with A History of New York using the pseudonym Dietrich Knickerbocker. He riveted readers with his irreverent combination of fact and fancy. [Read more…] about Andalusian Allure: From Washington Irving to Thomas Edison
This week on The Historians Podcast, New York City attorney and walking tour guide Jim Kaplan explains the role played by Democratic Party district leader Jimmy McManus in reviving the Broadway theater industry and the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in Manhattan.
An online version of Kaplan’s story was published in New York Almanack.
[Read more…] about Saving the Broadway Theater Business (Podcast)
The 28,000-square-foot industrial building in Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood that is now home to Capital Repertory Theatre (theRep) and the formerly condemned church that is now Universal Preservation Hall (UPH) represent very different preservation projects. [Read more…] about Proctors Theatre Collaborative Wins Historic Preservation Award
One of the effects of colonial expansion in the nineteenth century was that museums stopped being exclusively Euro-centered. The mapping of the annexed world was a responsibility of colonial governments which employed scholars to carry out the tasks of collecting and recording. Curators changed their collecting focus.
Works of art from Africa and Pacific Oceania that were looted, stolen or cheaply acquired without concern about provenance, found their way from British, French, Dutch, and Belgian colonial territories to the museums and curiosity shops of Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Brussels. [Read more…] about The Cake Walk, Prohibition & John Philip Sousa: Ragtime Wild Paris
Nineteenth century critics constructed an image of the artist as masculine, ignoring the fact that women were very much part of the bohemian subculture. In literary and pictorial representations, the figure of the “grisette” was consistently associated with the Latin Quarter.
The term refers to a group of independent young women who frequented Parisian cafés, posed as artist’s models, and provided additional sexual favors. The most enduring grisette is Mimi in Henri Murger’s “Scènes de la vie de Bohème,” the source for Puccini’s opera La bohème. [Read more…] about Queens of Bohemia: Laura Keene, Ada Clare & Adah Isaacs Menken
On September 11th, 2021, the traditional Last Night of the (BBC) Proms took place at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Away from the usual and rather bizarre jingoism, this performance was memorable for the “revolutionary” introduction of an accordion on stage.
Latvian virtuosa Ksenija Sidorova was the first accordion soloist ever to be invited to play on such an occasion. Her interpretation of Astor Piazzolla’s 1974 composition “Libertango” brought a packed house to its feet. [Read more…] about Tango Mania: From Brothel to Concert Hall
Ask someone the name of a three-ring circus and their response would likely be Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey, or a combination of the two. Ringling Brothers World’s Greatest Shows was established in 1884 and P.T. Barnum’s Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome had opened in 1871. Predating both was the biggest, most successful, though also the least known of the traveling shows, Adam Forepaugh’s Great All-Feature Show and Wild West Combined, established in 1863. [Read more…] about Forepaugh’s Wild West Show & Circus Enthralled Upstate NY
Visitors to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) at Saratoga Spa State Park can now enjoy a new $9.5 million visitors services center unveiled earlier this season by Governor Kathy Hochul prior to her swearing-in in August. [Read more…] about New Visitor Facility Opens at Saratoga Performing Arts Center
In cities with growing populations and increased prosperity during the eighteen and nineteenth centuries, the demand for amusement venues rose dramatically. Leisure became an economic factor and show biz took off with a bang.
Urban pleasure gardens were recreational spaces that featured landscaped grounds, lights, fountains, grottos, music, and theater. Offering a variety of entertainments, they were open day and night. [Read more…] about Niblo’s Garden, Yiddish Broadway and the American Musical