Martini di Arma di Taggis, bartender

Martini di Arma di Taggis, bartender at the Knickerbocker hotel just off of Times Square is credited with inventing the Martini. A true Martini has two real ingredients — quality  gin, dry vermouth and orange bitters, stirred in ice and strained into a cocktail glass. It is said, the martini was invented in 1912 and  John D. Rockefeller took a liking to it. And the rest is history.  Well, maybe history, as there are as many alternatives to a martini as there are stories about how and where the martini was invented, but the legend will continue for Martini and the hotel.  … Read More

Read more

Henry G. Steinmeyer, historian

Henry Steinmeyer wrote one of the definitive books on the history of Staten Island from 1524-1898. Originally published in 1950, this book from the Staten Island Historical Society chronicles the Island’s history from colonization through the turn of the century. A native of Staten Island, Steinmeyer helped to establish the Richmondtown Restoration project. His genuine love of the Island and its past illuminates the pages of this lively and amusing history. The book was updated in 1987 with additional photographs of landmarks throughout Staten Island including the home of Cornelius Vanderbilt. The original printing in hard cover is hard to come by… Read More

Read more

Charles Higgins, ink maker

Charles M. Higgins (1854-1929) began his ink business about 1880. His first ink was Higgin’s India ink. By 1888, magazines like Harper’s Weekly, were using his ink for their drawings. His first successes were with artists when many publications recommended his drawing and waterproof inks. He began using famous artist testimonials to promote his drawing products. His success allowed him to advertise widely as he expanded his line of products. He introduced laundry Ink, Higgins Indelible Ink and a vegetable mucilage, not a starch or flour based products like other companies wee making but a new chemical discovery. Patent registrations increased… Read More

Read more

David Sharps, Hudson Waterfront Museum

David Sharps, after working as a street performer and serving long stints on cruise ships, found himself studying theatrical movement in Paris. While there, he lived on a houseboat on the Seine. When he returned to New York, David wanted to continue living on a boat, so a tugboat captain introduced him to the Lehigh Valley No. 79 Barge, which he bought for $1.   The barge had 300 tons of mud in it, and it took 7 years to restore it a seaworthy condition. In 1992, a conference led by the legendary Pete Seeger was the cornerstone of Sharps finding… Read More

Read more

Joseph Sanguine, Staten Island Business Man

Joseph Sanguine (1801 – 1856) was a prominent businessman on Staten Island. He founded several companies, including the Staten Island Railway, serving as its first president. A boat ran daily between Joseph’s dock and Manhattan. He had an extensive oystering business, huge revenues in salt hay (from Lemon Creek wetlands, used to keep ice), and a candle factory, in addition to agricultural property and livestock. Sanguine built a large plantation house in 1838 in the Prince’s Bay area of Staten Island. At the time, he added a hay barn, carriage house and stables. Joseph did business with Cornelius Vanderbilt and for… Read More

Read more

Anthony Janszoon van Salee, landholder, merchant, and creditor

Anthony Janszoon van Salee (1607–1676) was an original settler of and prominent landholder, merchant, and creditor in New Netherlands. Van Salee is believed to be the son of  a Dutch pirate and a  Moorish mother. He was likely raised as a Muslim; he may have been the first of this background to settle in the New World. Though upon settling in New Amsterdam,  he and his wife practiced Christianity. He was born in Spain and captured off the coast, becoming a pirate before returning to his family and moving to Morocco. He married a German woman in 1629 and they moved to New Amsterdam… Read More

Read more

Dr. Henry Shively, TB doctor

Dr.Henry Shively was a doctor for Tuberculosis patients at Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. He realized that it was helpful for a person with TB to get fresh air and live someplace sanitary, so the Shively Sanitary Tenements were conceived. The complex was designed by architect Henry Atterbury Smith and completed in 1912. Much of it was paid for by Mrs. William Vanderbilt. Around the turn of the century, activists were increasingly concerned about the squalid living conditions of New York City’s poor. They believed the lack of sanitation was contributing to both the physical and moral decay of the… Read More

Read more