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New York County history

New York County (Manhattan)

We are beginning to offer a few selected items about the history of New York County (better known as Manhattan), one of New York State's original counties.  Check back here often to see what's new!

 

Available for Download

 

The 469 Ultra-Fashionables of America  --  A Social Guide Book and Register to Date, by C. W. de Lyon Nicholls (1912).  Probably the last time in American history when a hereditary American upper class existed.  See our Americana page for more information.

 

Gateway to a Continent -- The Grand Central Zone

unknown author(s), artist(s), publisher, and date.  Of all the publications in our catalog, this one is the one that most deserved republication in book form. 

The quality of the paper, the delicate artwork forming the backgrounds for each page, the overall feel of the document demonstrates its quality – and, at the same time, clearly defines the market to which it was directed.  The book – and, we hope, this digital reproduction captures some of it – was clearly directed at the senior corporate executive, the wealthy socialite, what remained of the upper class as the Great Depression was drawing to an end.  It is clearly a marketing piece, yet it is sufficiently subtle about the fact that it lists no publisher or sponsor.  The advertising it contains are the articles and photographs themselves.  One surmises that it was a cooperative effort of the owners of the buildings mentioned in the text and pictured.

Subtlety pervades the document.  There is, as noted, no publisher or author or printer named.  We must deduce even the date of publication.  The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, cited as “ultra modern” in the text, was built in 1931.  A mention later of 1934 suggests it was published after that date, and a notation on a map that the World’s Fair would be in Flushing, accessible via the Subway running under Grand Central, would begin in 1939, provides a likely end date.  So we date it between 1935 and 1938 – surely not a good time to be marketing expensive office space or high-end hotels or nine room Park Avenue apartments.  Yet this is clearly the objective of this book.

We think that this republication will interest not only students of marketing of luxury goods, those interested in New York City history, and those with an interest in historic railroad stations (not a small group, by the way!), but also those interested in the development of urban planning theory.  The introduction to the book suggests that the Grand Central Zone – the first we have encountered this term for the area – will become a paradigm for future American urban development.

40+ pages, PDF format, full color.  Download now for $6.75.

 Gateway to a Continent - the Grand Central Zone

 

The New York County chapter from French's Gazetteer of the State of New York (1860).  French’s Gazetteer is, of course, a standard reference for New York information at the point just before the Civil War began.  Most county gazetteers – and there were many, including some re-published by us – subsequent to French’s either acknowledged their use of information from this source or simply used French’s information without attribution.  Much has been written about New York City, so little new will be found in these pages -- but these 33 pages are packed with information at a critical point in time in American history.  33+ pages, PDF format.  Download now for $3.50.

 New York County chapter from French's Gazetteer

 

Barnard College Catalog for 1923-1924.  A college catalog is pretty dull stuff – unless one is looking for significant differences between educational requirements of a different time and those today, or if one reads the catalog as a document of formalized social differences.  If your grandmother went to Barnard (or another of the Seven Sister schools) back in the 1920s, this will help you understand why she knew as much as she did.  If you found her attitudes about the role of women to be a bit odd, you might find factoids from this document (for example, the note inside the back cover stating that while most graduate programs at Columbia were open to women “The courses in the Faculties of Law and Applied Science are not open to women.”) to be a bit jarring – and perhaps enlightening.  122+ pages, PDF format, download now for $3.50.

 Barnard College Catalog: 1923-24

 

The New York County chapter in Mather & Brockett's Geographical History of the State of New York (1848).  We have grouped the counties and provided several in a download according to their sequence in this historic volume.  Included in this grouping are Albany County, New York County, Kings County, Queens County, Richmond County, and Suffolk County.  50+ pages, PDF format, download now for $3.75

 Queens County NY

 

Barnard College Song Book (1920), published by the Undergraduate Association of Barnard College.  We’ve not previously published music, but that may be an oversight.  As this songbook of nearly 100 years ago, the music of a time is frequently a good measure of the times.  While this volume includes the venerable Columbia University (of which Barnard was and is an occasionally uneasy part) songs, of even more interest are the songs that would not have been heard being played by a marching band.  Indeed, some of them may not have tunes at all and were written only as social commentary on the college and on life in general. The girls who attended Barnard circa 1920 were a privileged lot, yet also came from families where a high premium was place not just on education, but on education of females.  To understate the case, in those years, the idea of educating women was by no means one that was generally accepted.  When we read the lyrics of some of these songs today they seem insipid, yet many of them make what may have been at the time fairly daring social statements.  The mystery of blank page 13 may be evidence of a song that, after much of the book was printed, was deemed inappropriate for publication, or, perhaps, even for reading by delicate female eyes.  There’s no index entry for page 13, so we will likely never know the drama that led to the page being blank, or the drama that ensued when the page was discovered to be blank.  But that is change, and, in 1920, change was already in the air on Morningside Heights as it was in few other places in America.  64+ pages, in PDF format, download now for $3.00

Barnard College Song Book (1920)

 

Charity in New York State in 1906: State Institutions.  This chapter from volume II of the Annual Report of the State Board of Charities for the year 1906 contains a section about the New York State government's Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents in the City of New York located on Randall's Island.  See our New York State Miscellany page for more information about this chapter.

We're also contemplating publishing some Barnard College yearbooks from the 1920s.  See our Barnard page.

We offer a large number of New York State titles.  CLICK HERE to return to our New York State page

 

 

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