Reviewed by Jeffrey Patrick Colgan and Jeffrey Escoffier
Exacerbated by suburbanization, demographic changes, and the city’s consequent fiscal issues, this shift led to the collapse of New York City’s industrial base. By 1970, most of the Manhattan piers along the Hudson River had been abandoned. The thriving industrial past reduced to rotting husks.
Interviewed by Katie Uva
Today on the blog, editor Katie Uva talks to Erin Wuebker, Assistant Curator of the Brooklyn Historical Society's new exhibition, Taking Care of Brooklyn: Stories of Sickness and Health. The longterm exhibition, on view until June 2022, examines 400 years of Brooklyn's history through the lens of public health.
Can you start us off with a bit of an overview of the exhibition?
For 400 years, Brooklyn has served as a crucible for the social forces that determine public health — war, housing, urban crowding, poverty, working conditions, racism and sexism, and more. Brooklyn has been a site of bloodshed and genocide, a densely populated urban center, an immigrant enclave, an industrial powerhouse. It has fostered unprecedented innovation and unprecedented inequality. Against this backdrop, generations of Brooklynites have contended with epidemics of infectious disease, struggled with chronic conditions, experienced childbirth and death, and fought for access to healthy food and uncontaminated water.
By Kelly A. Ryan
In February 1809, three seamstresses made their way to the special justices of New York City to register a complaint against their employers for abusing the slaves living in their household. They charged Amos and Demiss Broad, a married couple who ran an upholstery and millinery business in the second ward of New York City, with a litany of abuses, including throwing a knife at a three-year-old child. An unlikely trial occurred at the Court of General Sessions by the end of the month, in which the Broads stood trial for assaulting Betty and her three-year-old daughter Sarah. Ultimately, nine witnesses came forward against the Broads, and two of the witnesses who originally agreed to provide evidence for the Broads ended up supporting the prosecution. Though the employees and neighbors of the Broads would be critical to pushing this case forward, Betty’s efforts to get help forced New York City to reckon with the cruelty of slaveholding. The case against the Broads would be a stunning victory for African Americans and the New York Society for the Manumission of Slaves (NYMS), as well as an important moment in generating discussions about the rights of slaves to live unmolested.
By Charles Starks
But the city’s history has also been punctuated by figures who were able to mobilize the necessary resources and muster sufficient popular and elite opinion to exert an unusual degree of influence on the form and scale of the metropolis. Though the scope of his power has been somewhat exaggerated, the 20th-century public administrator Robert Moses was unquestionably such a figure. Earlier, in the 19th century, Frederick Law Olmsted and Andrew Haswell Green exerted similar, if less sweeping, influence.
By Gabe S. Tennen
Gradually, the gathering’s siloed discussions coalesced into a single dialogue, and the group focused their agenda on two questions: Should Mailer run for mayor of New York City? And, if so, could he possibly win?
Reviewed by Olga Souudi
Suzanne Hinman's The Grandest Madison Square Garden: Art, Scandal, & Architecture in Gilded Age New York
By Cynthia Tobar
The Hall of Fame for Great Americans, created in 1900, was the first monument of its kind that sought the active involvement of Americans in nominating their favorite "Great Americans.” The Hall was conceived of by Dr. Henry Mitchell MacCracken, Chancellor of New York University (NYU), who envisioned a democratic election process for selecting these greats modeled after presidential elections. Nominations came to the election center and after a person received a certain number of votes, an NYU Senate of 100 voters made the final choice. The Senate was composed of American leaders: past American presidents, presidents of colleges, senators, and men of renown in various fields. Problems soon arose, however, when this initial process yielded 29 nominees, all male. The lack of women created a scandal and in the next election eight women were elected (currently, there are 11 women in the Hall). However, the contentious nomination of Robert E. Lee remained.
Reviewed by Fran Leadon
And yet New York City held Wright in its sway all the same. In his meticulously researched, highly readable Wright and New York, Anthony Alofsin outlines Gotham’s influence on America’s foremost twentieth-century architect.
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