New-York Historical Society

Author Archives: sue

Street Trades: The Photography of Marcus Reidenberg

“The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any one place is always replete with new improvisations.” Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. From poet Walt Whitman to activist Jane Jacobs to fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, New Yorkers have celebrated their streets as [...]

Spring Fashion, circa 1890′s

“Fashion is unfolding, just like nature,” reads the caption for a recent On the Street column by famed New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham (whose work is currently on exhibit at N-YHS).  Now that spring has finally arrived, we decided to take a look at seasonal fashion in New York over a hundred years ago. [...]

George Frederick Seward and the Chinese Exclusion Act

This post was written by Heather Mulliner, spring semester intern in the Department of Manuscripts. A career in politics seemed all but inevitable for George Frederick Seward, the nephew of Lincoln’s famed Secretary of State (and one-time Presidential rival) William Henry Seward. But like his better-known uncle – whose vocal opposition to slavery cost him [...]

Happy Passover and Easter!

To celebrate the holidays, here are a few lighthearted Easter and Passover images that can hardly help but make you happy, regardless of religion.                      

New York City: the Curling Capital

Most Americans view curling — reinstated as an Olympic medal event just 16 years ago , in 1998 — as a novel and peculiar sport.  Given its exotic status, not to mention the U.S. team’s dismal performance at Sochi, it may come as a surprise to learn that this ancient Scottish game also has a [...]

Doris Ulmann’s Portraits: “The Marks of Living Intensely”

In honor of the death of Pete Seeger last week, this week’s blog will highlight the work of another champion of American folk music and crafts: the photographer Doris Ulmann (1882-1934). Like Seeger, Ulmann was born in Manhattan, and seemed an unlikely candidate to work in the rural South. The eldest daughter of a prosperous [...]

“A Real Santa:” the portrait photography of Theron W. Kilmer

Long before SantaCon, Theron W. Kilmer found — and photographed — “A Real Santa” in New York City. Although largely forgotten now, in his own time Theron W. Kilmer was aptly described as “an amazing person.”   He was a distinguished physician, an associate professor of pediatrics, a writer, a lecturer, an honorary police chief, [...]

Rare photographs of Hart Island, New York’s potter’s field

Off-limit to the public for over 35 years, Hart Island — a mile-long island off the eastern coast of the Bronx — has remained one of New York City’s most closely guarded secrets.  It is the home of New York’s “potter’s field,” for those who can’t afford to pay for burial, or whose identity is [...]

Indian Summer

Above-average temperatures at other times of year may raise alarms of global warming, but autumn heat waves are still fondly referred to as “Indian summer.” So where does the term come from, and what exactly does it mean? A number of explanations have been advanced over the years, including the following: 1. In 1804, Charles [...]

“Jane’s jaunts:” the travel sketchbooks of Jane Bannerman

Jane Campbell Bannerman — now a sprightly 103 years of age — embarked on her first trip abroad in 1929, long before there were iphones or digital cameras.  Instead, she carried sketchbooks and watercolors to record the scenes and people she encountered.  Colorful, personal, quirky, and utterly unique, Bannerman’s 74 sketchbooks capture the quintessential spirit [...]

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