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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Postcard Thursday: The Fall of New Netherland

A postcard reproduction of The Fall of New Amsterdam, from the series "The Pageant of a Nation" by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (ca. 1932)

On September 24, 1664, the colony of New Netherland surrendered to the English, officially becoming New York.

As we write in Inside the Apple:
[Following] the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660...the king’s ministers—notably his brother, James, Duke of York—had great territorial plans for the New World, which included complete English control of the area from Boston to the Carolinas.... Despite having been sheltered in the Netherlands during Cromwell’s interregnum (or, perhaps, because of it), the Duke had a very low opinion of the Dutch. In March 1664, his brother the king granted him a remarkable charter for most of New England, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and—most particularly—New Netherland. The Duke not only wanted to annoy the Dutch, he wanted to disrupt Dutch shipping, specifically between New Netherland, the Caribbean, and the African (or “Guinea”) Coast.... 
To conquer New Amsterdam, the Duke dispatched Richard Nicolls, who had fought in the Civil War and had, for his service, been elevated to the role of Groom of the Bedchamber (the knight in charge of dressing the Duke). Nicolls was given four ships, approximately six hundred soldiers, and instructions to keep New Amsterdam as intact as possible.... 
In twenty-three Articles of Capitulation, he extracted concessions from the English, including forbidding them from quartering soldiers in civilian homes, and making them promise to quit the island if word arrived from Europe that the Dutch had won it back. 
On September 8, 1664, with great pomp, Peter Stuyvesant and the Dutch garrison marched out of Fort Amsterdam and the flag of the Dutch West India Company was lowered for the last time. By nightfall, the cross of St. George was in its place and the town had a new name: New York, in honor of the Duke, its new patron.
On September 24, the second-most important town, Fort Orange—today the capital, Albany—surrendered to the English, making the takeover of the colony complete.

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On Sunday, October 11, at 3PM
join us for a walking tour of Little Italy

Go to
for details about the tour and information on how to sign up.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Postcard Thursday: Constitution Day

Happy Constitution Day! On September 17, 1787, the United States Constitution was signed. That event might have happened in Philadelphia, but it was crucial for New York. As we write in Inside the Apple:
The years between the end of the war and the inaugural were a frenzy of political activity centered on replacing the Articles of Confederation, which had been adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1781, with a broader federal constitution. Key among the New Yorkers working on this new constitutional government was Alexander Hamilton, who...had risen quickly during the Revolution to become one of Washington’s most trusted advisers. 
In May 1787, the Constitutional Convention began in Philadelphia, which was America’s largest city and had long served as America’s political center. But congress itself had not been meeting in Philadelphia since June 20, 1783, when the State House had been surrounded by mutinous Pennsylvania soldiers looking for their Revolutionary War back pay. Under the Articles of Confederation, the federal government lacked the power to disburse the mob—and Pennsylvania’s executive committee refused to do so—forcing congress to flee to Princeton, New Jersey. Over the next two years, the seat of congress moved a few times until finding a home in New York City.

As part of the new Constitution, the states agreed to have a capital city that was not governed by a state, thus heading off another Pennsylvania debacle, and Alexander Hamilton’s preference was for that city to be his own. Pierre L’Enfant, who would achieve great fame as the master planner of Washington, D.C., remodeled the old British City Hall on Wall Street to serve not only as the meeting place for congress and the new chief executive but also continue to house New York City’s government offices....
It was in this new capitol building that the Bill of Rights was adopted on December 15, 1791. However, what we call Federal Hall National Memorial today (labelled in the postcard above as the US Sub Treasury)
has no connection to the original structure save for its location. When a replacement City Hall for New York was being constructed in the early 19th century, the L’Enfant building was sold at auction, netting only $450. The present structure, by Town & Davis, opened in 1842 as the US Custom House. It served as treasury building until the 1920s and was later converted into a museum, today run by the National Park Service. It holds some fragments of the original building, including parts of the balcony on which Washington was sworn in.

* * * *
On Sunday, October 11, at 3PM
join us for a walking tour of Little Italy

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Postcard Thursday: Little Italy Walking Tour

"New York Street Life: Street Vendors on Mulberry Street" showing Italian immigrants selling cheese from handbaskets.

A Columbus Weekend Walking Tour
with Michelle and James Nevius
authors of Inside the Apple and Footprints in New York
Sunday, October 11, 2015 at 3:00PM

$20 per person; $30 if you'd like a signed copy of Footprints in New York

After the Civil War, Italians became the largest single immigrant group in New York, transforming the city. While Columbus Day has fallen out of favor recently in some places, in New York it is still a time to focus on Italian-American history and pride.

We'll walk through two of Manhattan's Little Italys -- the more famous one on Mulberry Street, as well as the Italian area of Greenwich Village.

To reserve email your

* name
* number of people in your party (including how many people are $20 [tour only] or $30 [tour + book])
* a cell number to contact you if there's any last-minute changes

RESERVATIONS are limited and taken on a first-come, first-served basis.

You can pay for the tour by cash or credit card when you check in. Instructions on where to meet will be email within 24 hours of when you reserve.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Photo Thursday: Hans Haacke and the East Village

Installation view of America Is Hard to See (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, May 1— September 27, 2015): Hans Haacke, Shapolsky, et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System, as of May 1 1971, 1971, (2007.148a-gg). Photography by Ronald Amstutz.
In 1971, conceptual artist Hans Haacke produced one of his most enduring works, Shapolsky, et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System, as of May 1 1971, a visual critique of Manhattan slumlord Harry Shapolsky.

This summer, James decided to track down the buildings Haacke had photographed to see how the East Village (the main area on which he focused) had changed in the past four decades. The result is "The Artist and the Slumlord: A Photographer's 1970s Quest to Unmask an NYC Real Estate Family," an essay for Curbed's national site that compares buildings in the neighborhood then and now.

538-40 East 11th Street today. Photo by Will Femia.
 Read the full story at

We'd love to know your thoughts! Comment on the story itself or here on the blog.

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