new york


Gothamist reports on a new initiative to commemorate the abolitionist movement in Brooklyn. A panel of community leaders will make proposals for how to commemorate.

The Brooklyn Public Library has a great site on the Civil War and Brooklyn. Check it out.

If you don’t live in the New York area, you may not have heard that the powers that be are currently considering plans to cut down on congestion in Midtown during the workday, which, in this case, would probably mean paying a toll to get into that part of the city with a car. The measure is, let’s say, not so popular.

Streetsblog reminds us that this is not the first time for such a controversy. In the early 1930s, there was another controversial measure proposed to cut down on car congestion: parking meters. From the WSJ:

But many drivers believed that charging for parking was downright un-American. The “newfangled nuisances,” “damn foolish contraptions” or “gypometers,” opponents said, illegally infringed on the individual’s right to free use of the public streets. They amounted to a tax on automobiles, depriving owners of their property without due process.

If only those people could see the signs for $7.50/half-hour today!

What with Senator Clinton, Mayor Giuliani, DA Branch (…oh, I mean Fred Thompson), and now maybe Mayor Bloomberg, a whole lot of people with residences in New York are running for president. There are rumors of anti-New York bias in the heartland.

But consider this. The following presidents were from New York. I leave it up to you to debate their relative merits:

* Martin Van Buren
* Millard Fillmore
* Theodore Roosevelt
* Franklin Delano Roosevelt

I don’t know much about Van Buren. He was short (nicknamed “Little Magician”) and was elected on the promise that he’d keep the Jacksonian good times going, but the nation fell into Depression on his watch. (See more here.)

My 10th grade American history teacher had Millard Fillmore on his list of the top 5 Americans because Fillmore was the first to put flushable toilets in the White House. He may also be indirectly responsible for bad political satire. Here it says that he was anti-Jacksonian. It’s nice to have contrast. It also says that the Compromise of 1850, regarding the admittance of the new states won from Mexico and their relative free or slave status, was implemented by Fillmore. California was admitted as a free state.

The two Roosevelts I imagine you know a little bit about, but here’s more on Teddu>a? and on FDR.

It could be worse, I guess. I would argue that FDR was one of our greatest presidents, though, so New York doesn’t have such a bad legacy. And FDR co-existed with Al Smith, also from New York, although they didn’t run for president in the same year (Smith ran in ’28, Roosevelt in ’32). Both had governed New York, though. Maybe Smith’s loss was our gain, because he went on to promote the building of the Empire State Building instead of running the country, and that building is one of the top destinations for out-of-towners now. So there, anti-New Yorkers!

But I digress. It looks like New York presidents are a mixed bag. So the lesson may be that where you come from has little to do with how you’d do as president, and maybe that’s something those anti-New York folk should consider when going to the ballot box. Not that this is an endorsement, just saying. New York ain’t so bad.

A group called Creative Time is erecting 33 plaques around New York City to commemorate the city’s “creative history.” Places earning plaques include things like the recently departed CBGB’s, the Filmore East, Max’s Kansas City, and the Mudd Club. The link above has commentaries on these places by artists and “notable New Yorkers.”