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American History Podcasts

Andrew Carnegie and New York’s public libraries: How a Gilded Age gift transformed America

EPISODE 308 In the final decades of his life, steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie — one of the richest Americans to ever live — began giving his money away. The Scots American had worked his way up from a railroad telegraph office to amass an unimaginable fortune, acquired in a variety of industries — railroads, bridge […]

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American History Podcasts

The New Americans: Look into the faces of the immigrants of Ellis Island (1904-24)

PODCAST The epic tale of Ellis Island and the process by which millions of new immigrants entered the United States. For millions of Americans, Ellis Island is the symbol of introduction, the immigrant depot that processed their ancestors and offered an opening into a new American life. But for some, it would truly be an ‘Island […]

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American History Bowery Boys Bookshelf

WILD BILL: The real man behind a Western legend — and a reluctant Broadway stage star

“Hickok was a celebrity. He was famous. He was feared. He was already a legend. It is estimated that over fifteen hundred dime novels were written just about Buffalo Bill Cody, beginning in 1869, when he was only twenty-three, into the 1930s, and during the early years. Wild Bill was in that category of iconic […]

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American History True Crime

Insanity: 160 years ago today, Congressman Daniel Sickles shot and killed the son of Francis Scott Key

On the 160th anniversary of the killing of Phillip Barton Key, I’m reposting this article from 2014 which originally ran on the 100th anniversary of Daniel Sickle’s death. We don’t have large, parade-like funeral processions marching up the avenues as they once did during the Gilded Age and in the early years of the 20th […]

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American History Podcasts

The Astonishing Saga of Cyrus West Field and the Atlantic Cable, the “Eighth Wonder of the World”

PODCAST The origin of the Atlantic Cable — the first telegraph connection between the Old and the New Worlds — and the role of New York City in its creation. New Yorkers threw a wild, exuberant celebration in the summer of 1858 in honor of ‘the eighth wonder of the world’, a technological achievement that […]

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American History Podcasts

The Huddled Masses: Emma Lazarus and the many meanings of the Statue of Liberty

PODCAST The words of “The New Colossus,” written 135 years ago by Jewish poet Emma Lazarus in tribute to the Statue of Liberty, have never been more relevant — or as hotly debated — as they are today. What do they mean to you? “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your […]

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American History

The Unusual Place Where Chester A. Arthur Became President of the United States

There are several enemies in Candice Millard‘s ‘Destiny of the Republic‘, the terrific narrative history of the assassination of President James Garfield during the summer of 1881. The most obvious foe is the delusional Charles Guiteau, who believed himself the nation’s savior when he shot President Garfield twice at a Washington DC train station on […]

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American History

How American Newspapers Reported the New York Blackout of 1977

Forty years ago today, New York City was plunged into darkness. The city has certainly seen longer blackouts in its history but none as violent or as deadly in its effects than the Blackout of 1977. The deteriorating city, in the midst of a withering heat wave, was ill-equipped for such emergencies. Hundreds of stores […]

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American History Podcasts The Immigrant Experience

The Arrival of the Irish: An Immigrant Story

PODCAST One of the great narratives of American history — immigration — through the experiences of the Irish. You don’t have a New York City without the Irish. In fact, you don’t have a United States of America as we know it today. [geo_mashup_map] This diverse and misunderstood immigrant group began coming over from Ireland in significant numbers […]

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American History Podcasts

New York City and the Inauguration of George Washington

PODCAST Part One of our two-part series on New York City in the years following the Revolutionary War. The story of New York City’s role in the birth of American government is sometimes forgotten. Most of the buildings important to the first U.S. Congress, which met here from the spring of 1789 to the late summer […]

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American History

Election Night 1916: With a world war looming, America goes to the polls

One hundred years ago today, Americans went to the polls to vote for the President of the United States — between the Democrat and incumbent President Woodrow Wilson and the Republican Charles Evans Hughes. The election was held on November 7, 1916, and it’s interesting to peruse the details of the day itself and the headlines from the […]

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American History Bronx History

The United States Capitol Dome was built in the Bronx

In the fall of 1783 Lewis Morris, signer of the Declaration of Independence, helpfully suggested in a letter to the Continental Congress that his own bucolic estate Morrisania (in today’s area of the South Bronx) would make a fine home for the new capital of the United States.  That didn’t happen, of course, but the Bronx […]

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American History

Hamilton Grange: New York’s Most Historic Mobile Home (NPS at 100)

This month America celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the organization which protects the great natural and historical treasures of the United States. There are a number of NPS locations in the five borough areas. Throughout the next few weeks, we will focus on a few of our favorites.   For more information, […]

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American History

Castle Clinton: New York’s Most Underappreciated Landmark (NPS 100)

This month America celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the organization which protects the great natural and historical treasures of the United States. There are a number of NPS locations in the five borough areas. Throughout the next few weeks, we will focus on a few of our favorites.   For more information, […]

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American History

In Chinatown, A Poignant Reminder of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act

New York had no significant Asian population in 1880 outside of those who lived on a handful of small streets east of the Five Points neighborhood. Primarily focused around Mott Street, the first Chinese residents were businessmen and laborers, mostly men, close knit by design. Accurate population figures are hazy, but between 800 and 2,000 Chinese […]