Tara Bynum, an Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Iowa, tells the compelling stories of four early American writers who expressed feeling good despite living while enslaved or only nominally free and in Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America (University of Illinois Press, 2023). [Read more…] about Everyday Black Living in Early America
Cities are always changing. In architecture everything gives way and nothing is fixed. Impermanence is the only constant. Every new generation tinkers with the aesthetics of urban space (or lack of it) to create its own place. At the same time, the fabric of the city is resilient and able to harness its own transformative power which gives it a unique character. The history of Second Avenue is a vibrant example. [Read more…] about NYC History: The Stuyvesant Farm to East Village Punk
In 1776, General Benedict Arnold was at a great point in his life, despite being recently widowed. He was a favorite of George Washington and a respected military leader. [Read more…] about Benedict Arnold’s Unrequited Love
Since the 1970s, hitchhiking has been considered increasingly reckless by large proportions of the American public. But, as historian Linda Mahood writes in a recent article for the Journal of Social History focusing on the Canadian experience, attitudes were different in the first half of the twentieth century.
In the 1930s, hitchhiking was viewed as an opportunity for generosity on the part of the driver and a way to practice good manners on the part of the rider. [Read more…] about When Hitchhiking Was Considered Wholesome
Development in northern Halfmoon in Saratoga County, NY, is rapidly transforming this once expansive area of productive farmland into an area of winding streets and attractive homes, where landscaped lawns are replacing the hay fields, pastures and woodlands of years gone by.
In the middle of new neighborhoods called Fairway Meadows, Adams Pointe and Howland Park, at the corner of Johnson and Staniak Roads, is an old building, a remnant of the town’s farming days known as Chip’s Hall. [Read more…] about Chip’s Hall: A Saratoga County Polish Immigrant Community Center
The LGBTQ+ Historic Sites project is conducting a survey to understand LGBTQ+ historic sites in the United States. The goal is to find out who is doing this preservation work on LGBTQ+ historic sites, what they are doing, and where they are doing it. [Read more…] about LGBTQ+ Historic Sites Survey Underway
This week on the Historians Podcast Historan David Pietrusza talks about his new book Gangsterland: A Tour Through the Dark Heart of Jazz-Age New York City (Diversion Books, 2023).
Gangsterland is a site by site, crime by crime, outlaw by outlaw walking tour through Roaring Twenties Manhattan, where gamblers and gangsters, crooks and cops, showgirls and speakeasies ruled the day and, always, the night. [Read more…] about Gangsterland: Organized Crime in 1920s New York City
Over time, there have been numerous taverns and pubs in England that carried the name of Hole-in-the-Wall. It has been suggested that the name is a biblical reference to Ezekiel 8:7: “And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.”
There is, in other words, an access to every secret which no man can seal off – there is “a crack in everything.” [Read more…] about Roguery & Mythmaking: Criminal Biographies From Claude Duval to Herbert Asbury
What follows is the essay “Esquisses a la Plume: Types du Bowery—le Pompier” [Pen Sketches: Bowery Types—The Fireman] by an anonymous French observer in the city of New York reprinted in George Goodrich Foster’s New York Naked (1854). It was annotated by John Warren.
The American fireman differs essentially from his French namesake. They have but a single point of correspondence, the common object of their mission. As to the organization of their bodies and their individual physiology, there is radical difference. [Read more…] about A Sketch of 1854 New York Firemen, Sporting & Fancy
Having spent three weeks in Boston where he enjoyed an enthusiastic reception, Charles Dickens arrived on February 12, 1842, in South Street, Lower Manhattan, on the packet New York from New Haven. The city depressed him.
In his travelogue American Notes, he contrasted sun-filled Broadway with the filth of The Five Points. In the district’s narrow alleys the visitor was confronted with all that is “loathsome, drooping, and decayed.” Dickens described New York as a city of sunshine and gloom. [Read more…] about Gaslight Foster: Old New York Storyteller & Social Geographer