Troy’s Hidden Treasure

A faded industrial town in upstate New York is home to one of the world’s greatest concert halls

Troy, New York, has always had its sleeves rolled up to its biceps. Lying along the Hudson River and part of a metropolitan area that includes both Albany, the state capital, and Schenectady, the city marks the Erie Canal’s eastern terminus. When that waterway was completed in 1825, Troy floated into an era of prosperity. Read more »

“it Was Nice”

CHARLES SAXON’S fond but clear-eyed cartoons are a definitive record of suburban life in the 1960s and ’70s

When his affluent neighbors in suburban Connecticut accused him of using them as characters in his New Yorker cartoons, Charles Saxon quickly assured them that he was “really satirizing himself. Since he seemed to lead the same sort of life they did, shared the same interests, and belonged to the same country club, they found the explanation acceptable. Even when their exact words appeared in his cartoon gag lines, they tended not to recognize themselves. Read more »

Saratoga Springs, New York

THE FIRST ANNUAL AMERICAN HERITAGE GREAT AMERICAN PLACE AWARD

Photographs by ROBERT BENSON Read more »

The Heretic

At the height of the American avant-garde movement, Fairfield Porter’s realistic paintings defied the orthodoxy of Abstract Expressionism— and risked rejection by the art world. But today his true stature is becoming apparent: He may just be the best we have.

 
In his lifetime Fairfield Porter (1907–75) appeared on no one’s list of the greatest American painters of the twentieth century. Although he was respected and admired for both his painting and his criticism from the early 1950s on, Porter achieved neither the popular celebrity nor the critical acclaim that attended the ballyhooed careers of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol.

It is easy to see why.Read more »

Inventing The Commercial

THE IMPERIUM OF modern television advertising was born in desperate improvisation

It was 1945, and everybody needed everything. If you knew how to build a car, a house, or a washing machine, you could sell it faster than you could make it. Car dealers, including fine old names that soon would be history—Hudson, Nash, Packard, and Studebaker—all had long waiting lists. Many dealers bluntly Quoted not the price of the car but the price of getting on their waiting lists. Read more »

Out Of The Woods

Amid a hundred mountains and a thousand lakes, a fascinating institution tells the story of America’s engagement with its Eastern wilderness

 

Blue Mountain Lake didn’t appear that far away on the map—straight up the New York State Thruway and then west. Route 28 meandered a little, but I figured the drive from New York City to the Adirondacks would take three, four hours at most. Seven hours later we pulled up beside the cottage we had rented at Potter’s Resort. It was raining, and the mosquitoes were out in force. “You might want to bring your own meat,” one of the owners had suggested when I called to confirm our reservation. Read more »

The Taste Of Time

All across America there are restaurants that serve up the spirit and conviviality of eras long past

Mr. Henry Erkins had a flash of inspiration in 1908. He could see every detail of it in his mind. Nevertheless he resisted the temptation to say too much at his first press conference, in case someone stole the idea and opened their own five-thousand-seat waiterless restaurant with ancient Assyrian decorations. Read more »

Small World

ROBERT MOSES built small with the same imperial vigor as he built big, and at his behest the art of making scale-model cities reached its peak. The result still survives, and although few New Yorkers know about it, they can see their whole town—right down to their own houses or apartment buildings—perfectly reproduced.

THERE ARE FEW REMINDERS THAT TWO WORLD’S FAIRS were held in New York’s Flushing Meadow. The Unisphere—the 140-foot steel globe encircled by the orbits of the first satellites—is still there, and a granite monument marks the spot where two time capsules were buried—one in 1938 and the other in 1963 —to be opened in the year 6939. Elsewhere more than thirty years of neglect have taken their toll.Read more »

Dubin At Work

A HALF-CENTRY AGO Harry Dubin bought his son a camera, and together they made a remarkable series of photographs of a city full of blue-collar workers—all of them Dubin

WILL ROGERS MAY NEVER HAVE MET A MAN HE DIDN’T like, but Harry Dubin evidently never met one he didn’t like to be. Fifty years ago his protean inclinations inspired an extraordinary series of color photographs that have only recently surfaced. Read more »

The Longest Race

At a time when driving from Manhattan to Yonkers was a supreme challenge, a half-dozen cars pointed their radiators west and set out from Times Square for Paris

AS OF FEBRUARY 1908, ONLY NINE people had ever driven across the United States and no car had ever driven across Alaska. No car had driven across Japan. As for Siberia, which had yet to see its first automobile, there was only one man who had ever driven across it alone in any kind of vehicle. It happened in 1791, according to the St. Petersburg newspaper Nichevo , and he had driven a herd of reindeer.Read more »