New York Sports: Glamour and Grit in the Empire City
Stephen H. Norwood, ed.
University of Arkansas Press
Reviewed by Tony Collins
2018 wasn’t a great year for sports fans in New York. It ended with the Jets and Giants finishing last in their conferences, while the Knicks and the Nets spent the 2017-18 season fighting over the keys to the Atlantic Division’s cellar. And, with the exception of the Yankees, baseball and hockey fared little better
But everyone in the city knows that things will change. This, after all, is the city that pretty much invented modern American sports.
It was here that the first modern baseball club, the New York Knickerbockers, were founded in 1845. By the 1850s baseball was so popular in the city that the press had already dubbed it ‘the national pastime.’ In 1857 the National Association of Base Ball Players — baseball’s first governing body — was formed by 16 New York clubs. The first recorded baseball game between two African American teams took place in Queens in 1859. By the start of the twentieth century, tens of thousands of people packed into stadia across the city to get the regular dose of nine-innings’ drama.
By Jonathan S. Jones
Today on Gotham, Minju Bae interviews Diane Wong, co-curator of Homeward Bound: Global Intimacies in Converging Chinatowns, a recently-concluded exhibition at Pearl River Mart. Homeward Bound displayed photographs from thirteen Chinatowns around the world. These photographs came from the curators’ personal projects to learn from the people who have built homes, families, and communities in a global diaspora. The exhibit will travel to a number of other locations starting in the spring of next year.
Diane, we first met at the thirtieth-anniversary gala for CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities. Over the years, we have discussed our related projects and aligned political frameworks, often while sharing food. What are the origins of this exhibition?
The exhibit was inspired by the Homeward Bound series I did with the W.O.W Project at Wing on Wo & Co last winter. The series of public programs was done in collaboration with Mei Lum, founding director of the W.O.W. Project, and Huiying B. Chan, a multimedia storyteller whom I met through the Chinatown Art Brigade. It featured stories of migration, displacement, and everyday resilience in Chinatowns around the world including Lima, Havana, Johannesburg, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Sydney, Singapore, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Seattle. The exhibit builds from the series and uses photographs and oral histories from our own academic research to honor, preserve, and build on the histories and contemporary issues of Chinatowns through community-led and curated narratives of residents. There is a lot of work to be done when it comes to connecting our academic scholarship to what is happening on the ground in communities and to more intimate spaces like our homes. This exhibit was a way for me to be creative and to redefine what I have been taught about academic knowledge production and rigor — and to produce work that is accountable and responsive to the demands of the communities I write about.
By Scott M. Larson
Wins by left-leaning candidates in 2018 midterm elections have led many to suggest a progressive revolution is under way in Democratic — if not American — politics. With each successive victory progressive candidates have staked out bold positions on hot-button issues from Medicare-for-all to a $15 federal minimum wage and free college education.
But what isn’t so clear is what this insurgent wave and its progressive mantle mean for the shaping and planning of our cities.
That question took on added significance just a week after the midterm elections when Amazon announced plans to build one of two new headquarters in Long Island City. Details of the plan, which involved more than a billion dollars in publicly funded incentives from New York City and New York State, drew swift criticism from many on the left, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the progressive movement’s rising stars.
“Amazon is a billion-dollar company,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez, who in November was elected to represent New York’s 14th Congressional District, which borders the district that includes Long Island City. “The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.”
While opposition from Ocasio-Cortez and other local politicians, along with fierce resistance from community residents, ultimately led Amazon to back out of the plan, the larger question remains: what is progressive urban policy, and how does it hope to address the myriad problems facing America’s cities?
What was your journey to working on the interpretation of Lenape history at the museum?
I have a background in Native American studies and Art History from Vassar College where I helped curate an exhibition of Inuit prints and drawings at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center in 2014, and wrote my thesis on the legacy of female Pueblo pottery artists at the Santa Fe Indian Market from 1920 to today. I joined the staff of the FAO Schwarz Education Center at the Museum of the City of New York in 2015. With my Native Studies background I was immediately excited by the opportunity to teach about local Native culture and I have spent the past three and a half years working closely with my colleagues to improve and deepen the Native American programming that we teach here at the Museum.
Tre Donne: Kitty Genovese, Diane di Prima, Virginia Apuzzo and the Roots of Italian-American Feminism in 1960s New York
By Marcia M. Gallo
Kitty Genovese, Diane di Prima, and Virginia Apuzzo are iconic Italian American New Yorkers who came of age in the 1950s and challenged familial and social expectations. All three present novel perspectives on women’s oppression and liberation in the 1960s and beyond. Yet rarely are they considered together as examples of ethnic “gender rebels.”
Kitty Genovese was a smart, passionate lesbian who became a national symbol of urban apathy after her 1964 murder in Queens at age 28. Diane di Prima helped launch the Beat literary movement in New York and has been a prolific feminist poet, playwright, memoirist, and activist throughout her life. Virginia Apuzzo is a former nun and pioneer gay rights, feminist, and AIDS organizer and leader who was appointed to high-level positions in the administrations of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and President Bill Clinton. All three of them are part of my current research that reexamines mid-twentieth century feminism by centering women of color, ethnic women, working class and poor women — artists, public intellectuals, activists — who have been subsumed or ignored in traditional accounts of American women’s liberation movements.
By Marie Warsh
On November 16, 1966, an unprecedented event took place on the Sheep Meadow in Central Park. Beginning at midnight, thousands of New Yorkers convened on the park’s largest lawn to watch the Leonid meteor showers, which were expected to be particularly brilliant. Although the crowd was let down — dense cloud cover prevented visibility — the gathering nonetheless offered a convivial atmosphere. Spectators brought chairs, blankets, and hot beverages, and the event became an after-dark picnic, with some marveling at the novel scene. One woman observed, “All these people in the park after midnight, and no one is getting mugged.”
New York’s Parks Commissioner, Thomas Hoving, had conceived of the event, which he’d dubbed the “Heavenly Happening,” and it epitomized his approach to revitalizing Central Park. The event was a direct response to concerns about safety in the park. Incidents of crime began to increase in the late 1950s, and this reality, as well as often ominous or even sensationalized press coverage, contributed to a growing reputation of the Central Park as a “hoodlum haven,” as J. Edgar Hoover declared in 1964.
Cartoon Performance, May 15, 1966. The first happening in Central Park involved the installation of a 105-foot-long canvas across the lawn known as Cedar Hill for the public to paint on. Capturing the open-ended nature of the happening, the press release for the event stated that “The performance will end when the painting is finished, or when it rains, or when it grows too dark to continue.”
By Joseph Alexiou
On a cool November morning in 1883, George J. Hardy, Deputy Sheriff of Brooklyn, marched toward the city’s most notorious slum. Behind him followed a small army of fourteen “special assistants” — nameless men in frock coats and bowler hats — Sergeant Reeves of Brooklyn’s 10th Precinct with three of his own officers and some newspaper reporters.
Upon first approach it appeared as though nobody was lived among the meandering rows of one-story shanties. The officers commented that it seemed odd. Goats snacked on bits of scrap metal and old hoop skirts that littered the dirt-path while pigs of varying age frolicked, but no people could be seen. Still they advanced on Darby’s Patch as though ready to battle an absentee goatherd.
But when Hardy’s crew reached fifty yards from the bounds of “the Patch,” suddenly “the hillocks teemed with life, every male inhabitant coming up as if from the ground, armed to the teeth with every conceivable implement,” as described one reporter from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. In 1883 this would mean metal rakes and ice picks, hammers or pokers, perhaps intentionally rusty. He added: “and the females also equipped with kitchen and other utensils, ready to defend their shanties.”
Hardy turned to the reporter, saying: “My letters must have been given to the goats and they forgot to read them.”
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