James Batterson, sculpture, insurance agency founder

 James Goodwin Batterson (23 February 1823 in Bloomfield, Connecticut – 18 September 1901 in Hartford, Connecticut) was an American designer and builder, the owner of New England Granite Works from 1845 and a founder in 1863 of Travelers Insurance Company, both in Hartford, Connecticut. He introduced casualty insurance in the United States, for which he was posthumously inducted into the Insurance Hall of Fame (1965). His real contribution to New York City is in the use of all that Granite and Stone. Before the Civil War he designed and built the monument to Gen. William J. Worth, New York City… Read More

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August Belmont Jr., financier, subway magnate, horse and dog afficiando

August Belmont Jr. (February 18, 1853 – December 10, 1924) was an American financier. He financed the construction of the original New York subway (1900-1904) and for many years headed the Interborough Rapid Transit Co., which ran the transit system. August was born in Manhattan and was the grandson of Commodore Matthew Perry. He  founded the Interborough Rapid Transit Company in 1902 to help finance the construction of and operate the first underground subway line. He served as president, and, in 1907, chairman of the company. Belmont holds the distinction of owning the world’s only purpose built private subway car.… Read More

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Mary and Robert Blackwell farmed an island

Mary and Robert Blackwell – Before it was Roosevelt Island, it was called Blackwell Island and was named for the step daughter of the first Dutch man to live on and own the island. In 1668, the island was bought by a British captain, John Manning and he left the island to his step daughter, Mary Manning who married Robert Blackwell. The Mannings farmed the island throughout the 1700s and built a home. The home, rebuilt by James Blackwell (a nephew of Mary and Robert) between 1796 and 1804, is the sole surviving building on the island from the family.… Read More

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Sydney Howard Gay, attorney, journalist and abolitionist

Sydney Howard Gay (1814–1888) was an American attorney, journalist and abolitionist who was active in New York City. Beginning in 1843, he was editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard for 14 years. His offices became a stop of the Underground Railroad, and he became very active in collaborating with others to help fugitive slaves reach freedom. Gay worked closely with free black Louis Napoleon, and for about two years kept a detailed record of the approximately 200 men he and Napoleon aided in what is known as the Record of Fugitives. Later records discovered put the number of people assisted… Read More

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The Shortest and Most Charming Street

Weehawken Street, located in the westernmost side of Greenwich Village, is one of the shortest and charming one-block streets in Manhattan, but with a long history because of its proximity to Hudson River and its maritime activity. The street is an NYC landmark where one of the very few remaining wooden houses can be found. You’ll need a map to find it, as the West Village does not conform to the grid pattern and makes it into a labyrinth. Hint: go west on Christopher and West Streets. A walk through the West Village is one of the most enjoyable experiences… Read More

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Ah Ken, first man to immigrate to Chinatown

Ah Ken (1858–1896). First man to permanently immigrate to Manhattan’s Chinatown in the 1850’s, although Quimbo Appo is claimed to have arrived in the area during the 1840s. Mr. Ken initially peddled cigars outside of the fence at City Hall and eventually ran a cigar store on Park Row. He began a monopoly on cigars in the Chinatown area. It is also believed that he ran a boarding house for new Chinese immigrants arriving to NYC. Please follow and like us:

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James Weldon Johnson, author, educator, diplomat, civil rights activist

James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938) was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and civil rights activist. Johnson may be best remembered for his leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where he started working in 1917. Johnson established his reputation as a writer, and was known during the Harlem Renaissance for his poems, novels, and anthologies collecting both poems and spirituals of black culture. He was a prominent and influential voice of the Renaissance. In 1934 he was the first African-American professor to be hired at New York University.… Read More

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