By Rob Koehler
New York City’s oldest continuously operating library is the New York Society Library, currently located on 79th St. just east of Central Park. The Library was originally founded in 1754 but was forced to close for fourteen years during the lead up to the Revolutionary War, the British occupation of the city, and the ensuing Post-War depression. It was re-founded in 1789 as part of the larger cultural revival of the city in the 1780s and has been open since. The library has always functioned on a subscription basis, with members providing the funds by which the library continues to operate and buy new books. Yet, the re-founding of the library was not just the reemergence of a lapsed cultural institution during the post-war recovery, it was also a part of larger debates about the cultural resources necessary to sustain the new national government.
Re-Founding the New York Society Library: Cultural Institutions and the Contest for the National Capital
This is an excerpt from the author's new book, The Lofts of SoHo: Gentrification, Art and Industry in New York, 1950-1980.
“[T]hey’re knocking down negroes ‘round here”: Public Racial Violence and Black Self-Defense in Early 20th Century NYC
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