Tag Archive for Upstate

Independent Upstate Has a Name

Or not.

Or not.

Secession movements have a rich history in New York State.  Alexander Hamilton, a politician who made no small plans, began by threatening to push for New York City’s secession from the broader state during the New York’s ratifying convention in 1787-1788, a means to undermine the power of anti-Federalist governor George Clinton.  Since then, figures ranging from Fernando Wood, colorful Confederate-sympathizing mayor during the Civil War, to Norman Mailer during an idealistic counterculture-fueled bid for the mayoralty in 1969, have pushed to pull New York City out of New York State.  More recently, pushes for secession have come from the upstate side.  In the 1990s, a state senator from western New York named Randy Kuhl began to push for upstate secession, and the cause has been taken up in the early twenty-first century by tea party and libertarian types who frame it as an appropriate response to the perceived political and economic domination of the New York metro area. Read more

A Special Halloween Post

Abandoned Oneida Lake Canal, from "Abandoned Canals of the State of New York," Popular Science Monthly 75 (September 1909)

From “Abandoned Canals of the State of New York,” Popular Science Monthly 75 (September 1909)

It’s that time of year again: Halloween, and map quizzes in my US History survey.  These two events converge in the single most common undergraduate typo: the labeling of the “Eerie Canal” through upstate New York.  Reliably, every year a solid quarter of the class makes this spelling error.  (I blame their being educated largely in Virginia, which means that didn’t get a solid year of Erie Canal propaganda in 4th grade.)  This excellent typo raises a whole range of questions about what the “Eerie Canal” could possibly refer to.  But I demure.  Instead, I’ll take the occasion to quote a great paragraph from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s scathing description of traveling the Erie Canal, which he published in 1835 in the New-England Magazine.   Read more

Back off, Fredericksburg

Whose claim is more legitimate?

Whose claim is more legitimate?

I clicked on this Free Lance-Star article about Erin Hamlin, the American who just won the bronze in luge in Sochi, expecting to find a feel-good human-interest story about a local athlete made good.  Which is exactly what I found.  Except that Hamlin isn’t from Fredericksburg (her aunt lives here), she’s from Remsen, New York, just outside of Utica.  And now I’m mad because Fredericksburg is squatting on the local-girl-made-good human-interest story that rightfully belongs to my people.  Lay off Oneida County, will ya?  They’re in a 50-year drought of feel-good human-interest stories up there.

Midcentury Love

20131221-140153.jpgI have often argued that the square, blocky buildings of the 1940s-1970s that dominate American cityscapes don’t deserve all the hate that they get. A lot of them have very nice proportions, and I find their minimal adornment preferable to plastic historical pastiche that has dominated architecture since the 1980s. See for example my favorite plain midcentury building in out neighborhood of College Terrace in Fredericksburg, the Washington Building pictured at left. And now there’s a blogger who shares my feelings. Actually, he feels them much more strongly than I do, strongly enough to have developed an extremely impressive (and impressively productive) blog on the subject, Midcentury Mundane. I cannot express how much I love this blog, both its concept and its execution. Plus, lots of bonus Upstate New York love, and he even covered Fredericksburg’s “Big Ugly” Although he called it “not a very interesting and engaging building,” obviously I secretly love it. It provides your eye such a nice break from the cloying cuteness of Caroline St.

Places I Have Lived, in 1941

Yesterday Kevin sent me a great site put together by Yale that has made available 170,000 photos taken by the Farm Security Administration between 1935 and 1943 to document the last years of the Depression and the early years of World War II.  When I was procrastinating today, I looked up three of the places where I have spent significant chunks of my life to see what life was like there in 1941. Read more