Bank Holdup

It sits like an exclamation point at the easternmost tip of Long Island and has done so for 184 years—making the Montauk Point Lighthouse one of the oldest in the United States. It also has the distinction of having been authorized by President George Washington himself.Read more »

A Place For All Seasons

A photographic portrait of Lake Placid, New York, in the pre-Olympic Age

The Algonquin Indians, legend has it, called the natives who inhabited the mountains of upstate New York ” Adirondacks,” or “Those Who Eat Bark.” And so the mountains got their name—although by the end of the nineteenth century not many of those who came to the mountains would have been driven to eating bark.Read more »

The Great Gun Merchant

For years passengers travelling the railroad between New York City and Albany were stirred from their reveries by a Scottish castle looming suddenly from the Hudson River. An outpost of nearby West Point? The domain of an émigré laird? No, this island fortress was once the private arsenal of the world’s largest arms dealer. Read more »

High Noon Of American Sail

On the fifth of January, 1818, a skeptical crowd peered through a blizzard to where the packet James Monroe lay at anchor in New York Harbor. It had been announced weeks before that the packet would leave on this day, inaugurating a new kind of transatlantic service. Shipowners would usually give definite sailing dates but would delay them any number of times until they had a full cargo. Here, however, was a new line claiming fortnightly service between New York and Liverpool on a rigid schedule, full hold or not.Read more »

The Unexpected Art Of Louis Comfort Tiffany

“The most helpful thing I can think of,” Louis Tiffany once wrote, “is to show people that beauty is everywhere…up-lifting…healthgiving.” He showed that beauty most memorably in the opulent, iridescent, glass that made a Tiffany vase or lamp the hallmark of a well-appointed turn-of-the-century home. Read more »

The Flames Of Hell Gate

Her life preservers weighted with scrap-iron, her lifeboats mere decoration, the excursion steamer General Slocum left New York’s Third Street pier at 9:30 on the morning of June 15,1904, with thirteen-hundred picknickers bound for a Long Island beach. Less than an hour later, she was afire.

June in Middle Village—a time of flowers. Along block after block in that quiet section of Queens in New York, front yards glow with their colors. Roses by the thousands, the tens of thousands. And in the Lutheran Cemetery on the community’s southern fringe, sixty-one red carnations, one for each of the unidentified dead in New York’s worst disaster. Their anonymous bodies lie together in what is known as the Great Grave.Read more »

Songs From The Yard: Sing Sing’s Lost Poet

During the spring of 1825 a handful of prisoners were landed on the shore of the Hudson River at Mt. Pleasant to begin construction of a new penitentiary. For six months they toiled under the wary eyes and ready muskets of their keepers, sleeping in tents and lean-tos. On November 26, the first convicts were safely locked up in the cells of what was to become known as Sing Sing prison. Read more »

The Colossus Of Staten Island

A ponderous memorial to a people who refused to vanish

 

Had one man’s grandiose vision been realized, the first sight to greet immigrants arriving in the New World after 1913 would not have been Bartholdi’s graceful, torch-bearing Goddess of Liberty, but something more nearly resembling the world’s largest cigar-store Indian. Read more »

The White Plague

A young girl’s memories of life in a community haunted by

The mothers of my childhood friends paid special attention to me, and I never understood why. I was dimly aware that something about me made them pat my shoulder and murmur sympathetically or, on the other hand, quite as inscrutably, bar me from their homes and keep their children from visiting me. Grown-up behavior was difficult to fathom, and I did not question it.

I never connected it with the fact that my mother suffered from tuberculosis. Read more »