Historic, but not famous

William Leggett, writer, Evening Post

William Leggett (April 30, 1801 – May 29, 1839) was an American poet, fiction writer, and journalist. He was a New Yorker who attended Georgetown and then entered the military. His time in the military didn’t agree with him and he was court martialed for “dueling on duty”. Upon leaving the navy, he returned to New York City in 1826 and began writing.

Leggett became a theater critic at the New York Mirror and assistant editor of the short-lived Merchants’ Telegraph. In November 1828, he founded the Critic, a literary journal that lasted only a few months. In the summer of 1829, however, William Cullen Bryant (of Bryant Park fame) invited Leggett to write for the New York Evening Post. He wrote literary and drama reviews and began to write political editorials.

In 1831 he became part owner and co-editor and took over for Bryant when he traveled to Europe in 1834-35.  Leggett’s political opinions proved highly controversial, he often took on President Jackson in his editorials.  He also became an outspoken opponent of slavery. His opinions and the following controversy proved expensive for the paper and took a toll on his health. When Bryant returned from Europe, Leggett resigned his position and moved to Upstate New York. He continued to write and be involved in politics, a consistent and strong  advocate of laissez-faire (an economic system in which transactions between private parties are free from government intervention such as regulation, privileges, tariffs and subsidies.)

While he was in the Navy, Leggett had contracted yellow fever. This had left him in poor health for much of his later civilian life and he died in New Rochelle, New York in 1839 at the age of  38.

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Historic, but not famous

Oliver E. Allen, historian, writer, editor, Tribeca preservationist

Oliver E. Allen, historian, writer and editor for Life magazine and later editor at Time-Life Books, authored more than a dozen books, including two histories of New York City: “New York, New York”  and “The Tiger,” a history of Tammany Hall.

In Tribeca, where he moved to a Hudson Street loft overlooking Duane Park with his wife Deborah in 1982, Allen was best known for his Tribeca Trib column, “Old Tribeca,” and for his volunteer contributions to the community as co-founder of Friends of Duane Park. He also was part of a small group whose work led to the designation of Tribeca’s four historic districts.

In the 1980s, Allen joined a band of local activists that dug into the history of Tribeca’s buildings and published “The Texture of Tribeca,” by architectural historian Andrew Dolkart. The volume, illustrated with photos by Allen, provided the Landmarks Preservation Commission with the research it needed to designate Tribeca’s historic districts in 1991 and 1992. Allen loved his neighborhood and his articles from the Old Tribeca column have been compiled into two books, two books, “Tales of Old Tribeca” and “Tribeca: A Pictorial History.”  Mr. Allen died in 2017 at the age of 94.

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