Breaking The Connection

The story of AT&T from its origins in Bell’s first local call to last year’s divestiture. Hail and good-bye.

The history of telephone communications in the United States is also, in large measure, the history of an extraordinary business organization. On January 8, 1982, that organization announced that within two years it would tear itself apart, and on January 1, 1984, it made good on its promise. Read more »

Baseball’s Greatest Pitcher

It was a hundred years ago, and the game has changed a good deal since then. But there are plenty of people who still hold that cranky old Hoss Radbourn was the finest that ever lived.

Greatest Season Performance by Major League Pitcher? One hundred years ago last summer, Charles Radbourn won 60 and lost 12 for the Providence Grays of the National League. He won so many games not only because he was very good, but also because for the second half of the season Radbourn pitched —and won—almost every game that Providence played. During thirty-five days in August and September, Radbourn pitched 22 consecutive games for Providence, and he won 18 straight within the space of a month.Read more »

Past Masters

Israel Sack made a fortune by seeing early the craft in fine old American furniture

To a casual passerby on East Fifty-seventh Street in Midtown Manhattan, No. 15 looks like any other small, wellkept building. On the main floor is an antique-silver shop. Above it on the third and fourth floors are windows with blinds pulled shut behind them, and across each window in gilt Gothic lettering there appears simply a name, Israel Sack, Inc. Although behind those upper-story windows is the oldest and most prestigious dealer in American antiques, nothing gives that information away. The name on the building is enough.Read more »

The Genealogy Of Mass General

How a favorite local charity of Boston’s Brahmins—parochial and elite—grew into one of our great democratic medical institutions


HE WAS A sixth-generation American, white and Protestant, educated at Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, which, at the time, was the best in the country. Even in 1912, hiring David Linn Edsall would hardly seem to be a blow for equal-opportunity employment. But the place was Boston, the job was to lead the medical staff of the Massachusetts General Hospital.Read more »

The ‘Holland’ Surfaces

The U.S. Navy’s first submarine was scrapped half a century ago. But now we have been given a second chance to visit a boat nobody ever expected to see again.

IN 1930 THE United States Navy’s first submarine was hauled away from the Bronx park where it had long been on display and was knocked into scrap by a salvage company that had paid one hundred dollars for the privilege. This would scarcely have surprised John Philip Holland, the boat’s inventor: throughout his life he had been beset by every possible mishap and rebuff. What would have surprised him is the fact that eighty-odd years after the U.S.Read more »

The Suburbs

Today more Americans live in them than in city and country combined. How did we get there?

ABOUT SUBURBS, ONLY COMMUTERS know for sure. For single-family houses, lawns, off-street parking, and gardens they endure harrowing round trips by train, bus, and automobile, certain that life in the suburbs amply repays the time and money lost in transit. And they endure the smug jibes of residents of city and country, jibes as old as commuting.Read more »

Masters Of The Merchant Marine

We built a merchant marine despite the opposition of the Royal Navy, went on to develop the most beautiful of all sailing ships, and held our supremacy for years. But how do we measure up today?

AMERICA is in the midst of a revival of interest in things nautical—nineteenth-century nautical. It began with the efforts of a handful of romantics to preserve the few remnants of the age of sail and was intensified by the magnificent Bicentennial Operation Sail. Now seaports across the country—in New York and San Diego, Philadelphia and Galveston, San Francisco, Boston, and Houston- are turning their waterfronts into public parks, often with a tall windship as the centerpiece.Read more »

What It Was Like To Be Shot Up By ‘old Ironsides’

The fascinating contents of a newly discovered document of the War of 1812

THE AMERICAN frigate Constitution is preserved in Boston, where she was built and where she was launched in October 1797. She was one of a series of six splendid frigates built to defend American shipping on the high seas, and her adventurous life included some of the most dramatic actions of the war between Britain and America. The British claimed the right to stop and search American ships for deserters, and the United States resented this claim to act as a sort of universal policeman.Read more »

The Best Background

When it comes to genealogical pride, there’s nothing to equal the modest satisfaction of a slightly threadbare, socially impregnable New Englander. A canny guide to the subtle distinctions of America’s most rarefied society.

New England snobbism is based on a regional reverence for that which is old. And as John Gould once wrote, “It takes considerable art to be snobbish without appearing so.” Thus the perfection of a devastating little sign you will see as you enter or leave the old shipbuilding town of Thomaston, Maine. It reads, “Thomaston, 1605.” Read more »

The Ursuline Outrage

In the shadow of Bunker Hill, bigots perpetrated an atrocity that showed a shocked nation that the fires of the Reformation still burned in the New World

On a sweltering Monday afternoon in July, 1834, Edward Cutter of Charlestown, Massachusetts, was startled by the sudden appearance of a woman in his house. Her hair was closely shorn, she was clad only in a flimsy nightdress, and she was muttering incoherently. Cutter probably surmised that she was from the Ursuline convent a few hundred yards up the hill, then known as Mount Benedict. Read more »