A Wintry Dionysiaca
December 10, 2013

This post was written by Joseph Ditta, Reference Librarian. Pick any contentious global issue. Drinking red wine with fish, perhaps. Or wearing white after Labor Day. Do you hang a paper towel roll over or under? You’re either on one side or the other (always the right side, of course). No shilly-shallying. How do you feel…

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The Traveller and the Stone: John Ledyard and the Central Park Obelisk
March 8, 2013

John Ledyard’s far from a household name in his own country even though he’s arguably the United States’ first explorer, and, had Catherine the Great not abruptly ended his circumnavigation of the globe in 1787-1788, could very well have achieved what Lewis & Clark accomplished fifteen years later. Ledyard also attended Dartmouth, participated in Cook’s Third…

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Cuttin’ the mustard: Gulden’s and the American Institute
November 21, 2012

Let’s talk mustard. Even if you’ve never actually tried it, it’s unlikely you’d have trouble recognizing a bottle of Gulden’s. Its distinctive gold and crimson label is, at least as far as condiments go, iconic. But have you ever taken a closer look? Like many brands, Gulden’s slapped images of medals  earned in bygone days on…

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“Undesirable edifices generally”: The 1916 Zoning Resolution
July 11, 2012

The built environment, especially in so eclectic a place as New York City, has a way of hiding history in plain sight. With that in mind, if you have never noticed how many of the profiles of early 20th century buildings in New York retreat incrementally from the sidewalk as the building grows taller, then…

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Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
July 3, 2012

It sounds like an easy question, right? Well, Thomas Jefferson certainly wrote it — in terms of authorship. But do you know whose hand it was that literally produced the famous handwritten copy? If you’re not sure, don’t worry, historians aren’t completely certain either. That said, there is consensus that it was “probably” Timothy Matlack, of…

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Golf and the Gilded Age at Newport Golf Club
June 27, 2012

It’s probably no consolation for last week’s heat wave but if you were a well-heeled New Yorker living in the late nineteenth century, you would probably be spending the sultry days of summer living it up in Newport, RI. Not surprisingly, the story of Newport and New York’s richest dwellers is well documented at the N-YHS….

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The Promise and Loss of the Hindenburg
May 1, 2012

Post written by Mariam Touba This spring we have heard much that commemorates the disaster that befell the ocean liner Titanic, but it is not the only mournful anniversary of the destruction of a beautiful, efficient and luxurious way to cross the Atlantic. Seventy-five years ago, on May 6, 1937, the airship Hindenburg caught fire…

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Daniel E. Sickles: The Rotten Apple from the Big Apple
January 31, 2012

Far be it from us to dwell on the negatives of history, but there’s no denying that New York has produced its share of heels. High on anyone’s list should be Daniel Sickles. On a Sunday morning in February of 1859, the New York born and bred Sickles shot the un-armed Philip Barton Key (the son of…

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