By Barry Goldberg
In November 2015, a federal court sentenced New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to twelve years in prison on corruption charges. The most serious charge hinted at the close connections between Silver, a Lower East Side assemblyman for nearly three decades, and luxury real estate. According to court records, Silver persuaded two real estate developers, Glenwood Management and the Witkoff Group, to have one of his associates file assessments with the city to reduce the companies’ property taxes. The prosecution also alleged that Silver worked with lobbyists to provide over one billion in tax breaks to Glenwood and prevented a drug treatment center from opening near one of the company’s residential buildings. In return, the associate siphoned off a portion of his legal fees to Silver and continued to assess more Glenwood buildings, an arrangement that netted the assemblyman roughly $700,000. In sum, prosecutors noted, “[Silver] postured himself as Mr. Tenant,” but remained “on a secret retainer to the landlords, to the wealthiest developer of real estate in New York City.”
By Andrew L. Hargroder
The 1790s was a decade marked by conspiracy-mongering in the United States. Polarized visions over the republic’s future inspired a prevailing mood of both revolutionary optimism for humankind and abrasive paranoia. Countering these anxieties, middle- and working-class Americans formed fraternal and literary clubs designed to foster democratic comity and candor as a public discourse. Among New York’s clubs, a new class of citizen took form, which espoused a more inclusive understanding of rights and political engagement. That allowed non-elites, like Richard Bingham Davis, to contribute to the conversation over the republic’s future.
"Tontine Coffee House” (1797) by Francis Guy. Though this coffee house was a site of frequent political clashes between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans throughout the 1790s, it also provide a sense of NYC architecture and the city's lively streets at the time of Davis and the societies’ activities.
By Marjorie Heins
The art collector Peggy Guggenheim had just opened her avant-garde "Art of This Century" gallery on West 57 Street in the fall of 1942 when her friend Marcel Duchamp suggested that she mount an all-woman exhibition. Guggenheim loved the idea: the show would be radical not only because of its composition but because most of the paintings, drawings, and sculptures on view would be either abstract or Surrealist in style, as befitted Guggenheim's modernist taste.
“All of That is What Feminism is to Me”: Building a Multiracial, Working-Class Women’s Organization in 1970s Brooklyn
By Tamar W. Carroll
In 1969, Mobilization for Youth (MFY) social worker Jan Peterson left the Lower East Side for Williamsburg, Brooklyn, heeding a challenge posed by Congress of Racial Equality leader Marshall England: to organize in a white neighborhood. Peterson’s trajectory after MFY captures much of the effervescent rise of social movements in the seventies, as well as the many tensions and contradictions building within the movements themselves and in American politics more broadly. Inspired by the example of the African American civil rights movement and the promise of the War on Poverty, many grassroots activists organized Community Action Programs (CAPs) with the goal of both improving the immediate material circumstances of their members and creating a mechanism for their voices to be heard and taken seriously in policymaking. While the 1970s are often remembered as a decade of racial and ethnic polarization, in many cases CAPs and their successors drew participants together in interracial efforts….
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