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Podcasts

1918: The Story of the Harlem Hellfighters

PODCAST (EPISODE 310): New York’s 369th Infantry Regiment was America’s first black regiment engaged in World War I.  The world knew them as the Harlem Hellfighters. On February 17, 1919, the Hellfighters – who had spent much of the year 1918 on the frontline – marched up Fifth Avenue to an unbelievable show of support […]

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Wartime New York

New York doughnut history: From Washington Irving’s olykoeks to doughnut huts in Union Square

Today is National Doughnut Day which is not a real holiday although that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating in whatever powdered, glazed, creme-filled way you see fit. However you will be surprised to learn that this day traces its roots to the Salvation Army and World War I. To provide for the American troops fighting in France in […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf Wartime New York

The marks of World War I, scattered throughout the five boroughs

Echoes of the first World War, one hundred years behind us, can still be found in virtually every neighborhood of New York City. In Kevin C. Fitzpatrick’s revealing and compact guidebook World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War, these memories linger in familiar landmarks and obscure […]

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Wartime New York

OUR ISOLATION IS OVER: In ‘The Great War’, PBS presents a different take on America’s entry into World War I

One hundred years ago this week, the United States of America rose to assist its European allies and officially declared war on Germany. This was an unprecedented moment in this country’s history, a signal of its rising importance on the world stage and a declaration of the United States as the standard bearer of democracy. […]

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Wartime New York

Heroine of the century: A New Jersey woman saves lives during terrible explosion

On the afternoon on January 11, 1917, workers in downtown Manhattan skyscrapers were jolted from their desks by a startling sight in New Jersey — an exploding munitions plant in Kingsland, a small community about nine miles south of New York City. “For four hours Northern New Jersey, New York City, Westchester and the western end […]

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Podcasts Wartime New York

Danger in the Harbor: World War I and the Black Tom Explosion of 1916

PODCAST The tale of the Black Tom Explosion which sent shrapnel into the Statue of Liberty and rocked the region around New York harbor. On July 30, 1916, at just after 2 in the morning, a massive explosion ripped apart the island of Black Tom on the shoreline near Jersey City, sending a shockwave through […]

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Landmarks

Federal Hall: Now and Always An American National Treasure

Federal Hall National Memorial, currently administered by the National Park Service, has always been a popular landmark with tourists thanks to its position on one of the most photographed intersections in New York. Who can resist that noble statue of George Washington silently meditating on the financial juggernaut of Wall Street? Today Federal Hall was officially named […]

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American History

Terror Spree: Harvard professor bombs U.S. Capitol, shoots JP Morgan

In the early days of July 1915, the United States was preparing for a subdued celebration of America’s 139th Independence Day.  It was hardly a festive time. War was still raging in Europe, and America was debating its entry on the side of Britain, Italy and France. The deaths of 128 Americans aboard the RMS Lusitania on May 7 […]

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Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The Lusitania’s final voyage, breathlessly told

They said the Lusitania couldn’t be sunk. The German telegrams to the contrary were merely cheap scare tactics. Besides, England will provide protection once in their heavily guarded waters. The boat is simply too big to sink. There are plenty of lifeboats, enough for the entire passenger list. Even those in steerage! And the best […]

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Holidays

On this Veteran’s Day, a salute to the Harlem Hellfighters!

The men of the 369th who were awarded France’s Criox de Guerre for distinguished acts of heroism:  Pvt. Ed Williams, Herbert Taylor, Pvt. Leon Fraitor, Pvt. Ralph Hawkins. Back Row: Sgt. H. D. Prinas, Sgt. Dan Strorms, Pvt. Joe Williams, Pvt. Alfred Hanley, and Cpl. T. W. Taylor New York’s 369th Infantry Regiment was America’s […]

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True Crime Wartime New York

In 1914, a Jersey City fireworks and munitions plant exploded. Was it sabotage by the Germans?

One hundred years ago today, the Detwiller & Street fireworks plant, located in the Greenville section of Jersey City, exploded in a horrible shower of fire and glass.  Four men were killed instantly and dozens of employees were injured.  Several surrounding buildings “fell to pieces like houses of cards.”   The rumble shook buildings throughout […]

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Wartime New York

The Women’s Peace Parade, a moody anti-war protest in 1914

Give Peace A Chance: Women take to the streets in a stunning parade of mourning Below are some pictures of what’s possibly New York City’s first anti-war protest organized by women, on August 29, 1914. War had erupted that summer in Europe, sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in late June and unfurling […]

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Wartime New York

Voyage into war: New Yorkers enlist for France a century ago

Men and women aboard La Lorraine, heading to France and the prospects of a grave war. War was newly ablaze in Europe one hundred years ago today. A latticework of alliances was slowly drawing virtually country on the continent into a conflict which would rage for years and later become known as World War I. […]

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Wartime New York

Charlie Chaplin on Wall Street: The tale behind the 1918 photo

The comedy legend Charlie Chaplin was born 125 years ago today in London, so I thought I’d use the opportunity to re-post one of my favorite photographs of Wall Street. In the 1918 photo above, Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks draw tens of thousands to Wall Street and the foot of the United States Sub Treasury building […]

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Wartime New York

Decorating the Flatiron Building with cannons and silver coins

At the very first-floor corner of the Flatiron Building once sat the trusty United Cigar Store.  Being so striking a location in such an unusual building, the cigar store was often decorated occasions. For instance, one hundred years ago today (April 1, 1914), the windows were filled with 7,150 silver dollars as part of a […]