When They Really Loved New York

It was the best time and place to be alive in since the world began, and everybody knew it. “I remember,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, “riding in a taxi one afternoon between very tall buildings under a mauve and rosy sky; I began to bawl because I had everything I wanted and knew I would never be so happy again.”

Fitzgerald’s Arcadia was New York in the 1920s, a city so raucous and dazzling and spiky with new buildings that one awed British visitor described it simply as “supreme.” Read more »

I. America’s Junction

All through the 1920s eager young emigrants left the towns and farms of America and headed for New York City. One of them recalls the magnetism of the life that pulled him there.

And still they come.

From west of the Appalachians, from the prairies of the middle border, from the shortgrass country, and from the South, young Americans troop to New York in search of fullfillment—or perhaps to get away from something. Read more »

West Point In Review

The old school is alive with the memory of men like Lee, Grant, Pershing, and Eisenhower

Each year most of West Point’s three million visitors enter the U.S. Military Academy through the Thayer Gate. They drive past the cluttered main street of Highland Falls, which the historian Samuel Huntington described as a town of a sort “familiar to everyone … a motley, disconnected collection of frames coincidentally adjoining each other, lacking common unity and purpose.” A moment later the visitors are in, as Huntington put it, “a different world [of] ordered serenity….Read more »

The Greatest Diarist

George Templeton Strong was not a public man, and he is not widely known today. But for forty years he kept the best diary—in both historic and literary terms—ever written by an American.

Who was George Templeton Strong, and why single out for special attention a conservative and supercilious New York lawyer who is remembered chiefly, if at all, for a diary he kept between the years 1835 and 1875? A civil leader and much esteemed man of affairs, he took an active part in the educational and cultural life of his turbulent city and served with distinction on the United States Sanitary Commission during the Civil War. But he never occupied top positions, never coveted the limelight, had no special influence on, important people.Read more »

Luks

He claimed his critics didn’t like his work because it was “too noisy,” but he didn’t care what any of them said. George Luks’s determination to paint only what interested him was his greatest strength—and his greatest weakness.

Probing westward along the streets of Manhattan, the first light of Sunday, October 29,1933, revealed, stretched out in a doorway on Sixth Avenue, near Fifty-second Street, under the el, a well-dressed elderly man, solidly built and balding, with a little patch of fine white hair, an inverted triangle, at the center of his forehead. He was dead. Letters in an inside jacket pocket identified him as George B. Luks, the artist, of 140 East Twenty-eighth Street, and an examination of his corpse established that he had been felled by a heart attack.Read more »

The Street

A knowledgeable and passionate guide takes us for a walk down Wall Street, and we find the buildings there eloquent of the whole history of American finance

One of the pleasant burdens of friendship, and of living in a renowned and intimidating great city like New York, is that friends planning to visit will ask me to show them the sights of some quarter of town, most usually in the borough of Manhattan, county of New York. Read more »

Rich Kids

For the children and grandchildren of a poor boy from Pennsylvania, childhood was magic

BORN IN 1839 TO AN EMIGRANT COBBLER and his wife, Henry Phipps, Jr., grew up near Pittsburgh. Determined to escape the “despised” cobbler’s bench, he succeeded, eventually becoming a partner of his boyhood neighbor, Andrew Carnegie. Phipps retired in 1900 with more than forty million dollars. Phipps had five children; Jay, his eldest son, built Westbury House on Long Island, which became the center of existence for three generations of Phippses. Read more »

A Tiffany Gift

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner for 150 Years

SINCE NEW YORK CITY IS WHERE, AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER, MOST OF THE MONEY IN THE COUNTRY tends to migrate, it is not surprising that it seems to have almost as many jewelry stores as it does restaurants. Of these many are excellent, and a few—Cartier, Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels—are grand by any standards. But only one of them has lodged itself in the national consciousness as being something beyond a purveyor of luxury goods. Read more »

The House At Hyde Park

A biographer who knows it well tours Franklin Roosevelt’s home on the Hudson and finds it was not so much the President’s castle as it was his formidable mother’s.

For better than four years now I have been writing about Franklin Roosevelt’s youth, seeking the sources of the serene selfassurance that served him and his country so well during the two worst crises since the Civil War. In the course of that work I have spent months at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, New York, burrowing through his papers in search of clues. Read more »

Traveling With A Sense Of History

From Fort Ticonderoga to the Plaza Hotel, from Appomattox Courthouse to Bugsy Siegel’s weird rose garden in Las Vegas, the present-day scene is enriched by knowledge of the American past

To grow up in New England is to grow up with an inescapable sense of history, a heritage that a New Englander carries with him wherever he goes. Read more »