Category: History

Brooklyn: The Once and Future City | Book Review

With “Brooklyn: The Once and Future City,” author and Brooklyn native Thomas Campanella has written the unqualified best and most thorough history of our city-turned-borough. He will talk about it at the Brooklyn Historical Society on November 7. The book takes the reader in exquisite detail from the 17th century to today’s popular Brooklyn Point.…

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Daily Bookmark: Marine Park native pens ode to Brooklyn, “America’s most storied underdog”

In “Brooklyn: The Once and Future City,” Thomas Campanella reveals some of the rich and underappreciated history of his beloved home borough, especially the southern portion where he spent his childhood — from a homeland to the Leni Lenape tribe, to its use as a slave trading by for the Dutch, to the emergence of…

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Daily Bookmark: Stacy Horn exposes Roosevelt’s Island’s squalid past

Think of Roosevelt Island today and you may think of the waterfront promenade, or the bright red car of the aerial tramway connecting the island to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. When Charles Dickens visited in 1842, Roosevelt Island had a different name and a different association. Blackwell’s Island was known as a dumping ground for…

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‘The past is present’: Brooklyn historian unpacks history of Bay Ridge in new book

A Brooklyn historian’s love for his hometown was laid bare Tuesday evening at a launch party for his latest book, “How Bay Ridge Became Bay Ridge.” In celebration of the publication’s premiere, author Henry Stewart unpacked a bit of the neighborhood’s history in a live Q&A with Radio Free Bay Ridge co-host Dan Hetteix at…

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Ask a historian: What writers lived in Brooklyn Heights?

Lauren from Brooklyn Heights asks: What writers lived in Brooklyn Heights? Great literary writing started in Brooklyn Heights, Lauren, but it has spread over the borough, attracting literary notables. Conversely, most of the Brooklyn celebrities began elsewhere. Brooklyn bestowed literary prominence upon them. Brooklyn Heights has been a writers’ paradise since the days of Walt…

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Daily Bookmark: Celebrate a black BK biking legend with “The World’s Fastest Man”

Twelve years before Jack Johnson became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champ and fifty years before Jackie Robinson broke the MLB’s color barrier, Marshall “Major” Taylor started setting world records in the white-dominated world of professional cycling. Taylor trained in Brooklyn and joined a competitive cycling group called the South Brooklyn Wheelmen, which…

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Daily Bookmark: Visit Brooklyn’s favorite Superfund Site with Joseph Alexiou

Today the Gowanus Canal is a famously toxic waterbody, notorious for its contamination and for its possible role in the death of Sludgie the Whale, the young minke unfortunate enough to swim into its waters in 2007. But that wasn’t always the case. Before the industrial revolution, the Gowanus was a wildlife-rich, tree-lined oasis, used…

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Daily Bookmark: Ron Howell’s “Boss of Black Brooklyn” sheds light on a forgotten black icon

Brooklyn residents today may take for granted that their representatives are as diverse as the borough they call home. But until the mid-20th century, New York’s largest borough still hadn’t elected its first black lawmaker to public office. That all changed in 1948, when Bertram Baker made history by joining the New York State Assembly…

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‘In the Shadow of Genius’ explores the minds behind the Brooklyn Bridge

“The word ‘genius’ is used so indiscriminately in our culture that its meaning, even when applied to such masterworks as the Brooklyn Bridge, has become completely diminished,” says photographer Barbara Mensch. In “In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators,” Mensch combines her striking photographs with a powerful first-person narrative to cast…

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Comedy legend discusses new book in Brooklyn

Monty Python’s Michael Palin visited St. Francis College on a recent night to discuss his new book “Erebus: The Story of a Ship,” which explores the history of the 19th-century vessel and those who sailed on it. The ship, named after the ancient Greek mythological personification of darkness and a region in Hades, was used…

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Historian writes true-crime account of Evelyn Nesbit scandal

 The cover of “The Girl on the Velvet Swing” features a photograph of Evelyn Nesbit in 1900. Photo courtesy of Little, Brown and Company The publication of “The Girl on the Velvet Swing” comes at a time when sexual harassment is being taken seriously and punished in a way never seen before. Everyday women are…

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Distinguished historian shakes up civil rights history

“What of the past is remembered, celebrated, and mourned is at the core of national identity — and the process of what is told and not told is often a function of power,” writes historian Jeanne Theoharis.“And the task of honoring can also be a form of stripping and silencing.” Theoharis is a distinguished professor…

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“Brooklyn’s Sweet Ruin”

When it was rebuilt in 1883, the Domino Sugar Refinery was the largest in the world. That year, the Brooklyn Eagle described the new facility as “colossal”. At its peak, the factory processed one third of all of the sugar consumed in a year in the United States, and one eighth of all the sugar…

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Matthew Goodman, Brooklyn’s Narrative Historian

If this account is true, it is most enormously wonderful. -Chapter 11, The Sun and the Moon In 1835, nine out of ten New Yorkers believed in the existence of lunar life that included unicorns, beavers who walked on their hind legs, and four-foot-tall flying man bats. This was because of a series of widely…

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New Book Provides Historical Perspective On Jewish Culture In New York City

Jewish immigrants transformed New York. They built its clothing industry, expanded its commercial reach, and constructed huge swaths of apartment buildings. New York Jews helped to make the city the center of the nation’s publishing industry, also shaping commercial entertainment and contributing mightily to urban musical cultures. New York Jews have influenced both the city…

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New book ‘Jackie Robinson in Quotes’ details ‘The Remarkable Life of Baseball’s Most Significant Player’

Renowned filmmaker Ken Burns has noted recently, while doing the interview circuit to promote his new documentary on Jackie Robinson, “When Jackie broke the color barrier in baseball, Martin Luther King was still a junior in college and Rosa Parks was 10 years away from taking a seat in the front of the bus … in…

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This Week in 1892: Walt Whitman’s death, & his 1847 ‘Death in the School-room’ piece for the Brooklyn Eagle

article by Andriana Zacharakos, Brooklyn Daily Eagle This week is one of literary mourning, as New York City marked the 122nd death anniversary of the nineteenth century poet and essayist, Walt Whitman this past Wednesday; but here at the Brooklyn Eagle, we have chose to celebrate his inherently “New York” literary spirit by republishing a…

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Upcoming book talk to highlight Plymouth Church in Civil War Era

In connection with the Brooklyn Historical Society’s new exhibition, “Brooklyn Abolitionists/In Pursuit of Freedom,” BHS, in partnership with Green-Wood, will host a book talk with Frank Decker to discuss his new book about our nation’s greatest struggle. The book, titled “Brooklyn’s Plymouth Church in the Civil War Era,” explores the important role that Plymouth Church played in anti-slavery…

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Brooklyn journalist uncovers story of Topsy the elephant

  According to Brooklyn Eagle, Brooklyn-based journalist Michael Daly has recently published “Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked-Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison” (Atlantic Monthly Press), in which he uncovers the truth surrounding the story of Topsy,  a baby elephant who was smuggled into the U.S. and fraudulently named…

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‘Paris Reborn:’ A Parisian Brooklynite’s take on the birth of Paris

St. Martin’s Press According to Brooklyn Eagle, Stephane Kirkland, a writer who splits his time between Brooklyn and Paris, will soon release his vivid and engrossing account of the greatest transformation of a major city in modern history. “Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, andthe Quest to Build a Modern City” (St. Martin’s Press; April 2,…

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