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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James Montgomery Flagg, illustrator, Uncle Sam

James Montgomery Flagg (June 18, 1877 – May 27, 1960) was an American artist and illustrator. He worked in media ranging from fine art painting to cartooning, but is best remembered for his political posters. He began drawing while quite young and had illustrations accepted by national magazines by the age of 12 years. He created his most famous work in 1917, a poster to encourage recruitment in the United States Army during World War I. It showed Uncle Sam pointing at the viewer (inspired by a British recruitment poster showing Lord Kitchener in a similar pose) with the caption… Read More

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Lewis H. Michaux, bookstore owner, civil rights activist

Lewis H. Michaux (1895–1976) was a Harlem bookseller and civil rights activist. Between 1932 and 1974 he owned the African National Memorial Bookstore in Harlem, New York City, one of the most prominent African-American bookstores in the country.  Before coming to New York he worked as a pea picker, window washer and deacon in a church in Philadelphia. Michaux opened the African National Memorial Bookstore in 1932 on 7th Avenue and stayed there until 1968, when he was forced to move the store to West 125th Street (on the corner of 7th street) to give space to the State Harlem… Read More

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Joseph Mason and Ernest Von Au, “The Candy Men”

Mason and Von Au had a factory that manufactured Mints and Candy Bars as Mason, Au and Mangenheimer Candy in 1885 at #20 Henry Street, at the NW corner of Middagh in Brooklyn. The company was founded in 1864. By 1880 Mason and Au were joined by Emil Zollinger, and the name changed to Mason, Au & Zollinger. Two of their most popular candies were Mason Peaks, a coconut-chocolate combination (like Mounds) and  Mason Mints, a chocolate-covered mint patty (like today’s Peppermint Pattie). Mason also made Dots, a fruit or cinnamon-flavored gumdrop, and Crows, a licorice-flavored gumdrop. Both are still… Read More

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Anthony “Speed” Hanzlick, sportsman, pilot

Anthony Hanzlik, a photographer and a pioneer pilot for aerial photography managed Flushing Airport in Queens from 1936 until his death in 1974. Mr. Hanzlik did aerial photography for New York newspapers and was noted for his skill in piloting news photographers on hazardous assignments such as fire and train wrecks. He got his nickname, Speed, as a youngster when he served as a messenger at the WrightMartin Aircraft Company’s factory in Long Island City, Queens. He was a flyer in WWI and tested pilots for the Royal Airforce in WWII. In 1960, he was taking pictures of a fire… Read More

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Everardus Bogardus, minister, Dutch Reformed Church

Everardus Bogardus (1607 – 27 September 1647) was the second minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, the oldest established church in present-day New York, which was then located on Pearl Street (Manhattan) at its first location built in 1633, the year he came to New Amsterdam. Rev. Bogardus frequently called out the Governor Willem Kieft and prominent citizen Otto Von Twiller from the pulpit for their running of the colony and public drunkeness. He died in a shipwreck while returning to Amsterdam on church business, but his descendants have also made their mark on NYC, including James Bogardus, who pioneered… Read More

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