New York during the New Nation - History

New York during the New Nation - History

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New York was first capital of the United States; and the site of the first presidential inauguration, in 1789. Although it had endured severe fires in 1776 and 1778, which had destroyed the entire western side of the city, it was rebuilt and gradually grew to prominence. In 1790, Philadelphia replaced New York as the nation's capital; but, by 1810, New York surpassed Philadelphia in population and trade importance. New York had a harbor which was convenient for vessels arriving from Europe, waterways which lead to the interior of the nation, and businessmen who were aggressive in promoting trade with other parts of the country. The city continued to grow in wealth and population for well over a century.

History of slavery in New York (state)

The enslavement of African people in the United States began in New York as part of the Dutch slave trade. The Dutch West India Company imported eleven African slaves to New Amsterdam in 1626, with the first slave auction held in New Amsterdam in 1655. [1] With the second-highest proportion of any city in the colonies (after Charleston, South Carolina), more than 42% of New York City households held slaves by 1703, often as domestic servants and laborers. [2] Others worked as artisans or in shipping and various trades in the city. Slaves were also used in farming on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley, as well as the Mohawk Valley region.

During the American Revolutionary War, the British troops occupied New York City in 1776. The Crown promised freedom to slaves who left rebel masters, and thousands moved to the city for refuge with the British. By 1780, 10,000 black people lived in New York. Many were slaves who had escaped from their slaveholders in both northern and southern colonies. After the war, the British evacuated about 3,000 slaves from New York, taking most of them to resettle as free people in Nova Scotia, where they are known as Black Loyalists.

Of the northern states, New York was next to last in abolishing slavery. (In New Jersey, mandatory, unpaid "apprenticeships" did not end until the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery, in 1865.) [3] : 44

After the American Revolution, the New York Manumission Society was founded in 1785 to work for the abolition of slavery and to aid free blacks. The state passed a 1799 law for gradual abolition, a law which freed no living slave. After that date, children born to slave mothers were required to work for the mother's master as indentured servants until age 28 (men) and 25 (women). The last slaves were freed on July 4, 1827 (28 years after 1799). [1] African Americans celebrated with a parade.

Canal Corporation

The New York State Canal System is not only rich in history, but also culture. Many immigrants worked long and hard on "Clinton&rsquos Ditch" to create this magnificent waterway. Folklore, songs and speech lingo emerged from those individuals working along the Canal. As the population grew and the Canal prospered, it became not only a transportation waterway, but also a vacation area for the well-to-do.

At one time, more than 50,000 people depended on the Erie Canal for their livelihood. From its inception, the Erie Canal helped form a whole new culture revolving around canal life. For many, canal boats became floating houses, traveling from town to town. The father would serve as captain, while the mother cooked for the family and crew and the children, if old enough, would serve as "hoggees" and would walk alongside the mules to lead them along at a steady pace.

For those who traveled along the Canal in packet boats or passenger vessels, the Canal was an exciting place. Gambling and entertainment were frequent pastimes on the Canal and often, families would meet each year at the same locations to share stories and adventures.

Today, the Canal has returned to its former glory and is filled with pleasure boats, fishermen and cyclists riding the former towpaths where mules once trod. The excitement of the past is alive and well.

The Erie Canal: A Brief History

Begun in 1817 and opened in its entirety 1825, the Erie Canal is considered the engineering marvel of the 19th Century. When the federal government concluded that the project was too ambitious to undertake, the State of New York took on the task of carving 363 miles of canal through the wilderness with nothing but the muscle power of men and horses.

Once derided as &ldquoClinton&rsquos Folly&rdquo for the Governor who lent his vision and political muscle to the project, the Erie Canal experienced unparalleled success almost overnight. The iconic waterway established settlement patterns for most of the United States during the 19th century, made New York the financial capital of the world, provided a critical supply line which helped the North win the Civil War, and precipitated a series of social and economic changes throughout a young America.

Explorers had long searched for a water route to the west. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the lack of an efficient, safe transportation network kept populations - and trade - largely confined to coastal areas. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Allegheny Mountains were the Western Frontier. The Northwest Territories that would later become Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio were rich in timber, minerals, and fertile land for farming. It took weeks to reach these precious resources. Travelers were faced with rutted turnpike roads that baked to hardness in the summer sun. In the winter, the roads dissolved in a sea of mud.

An imprisoned flour merchant named Jesse Hawley envisioned a better way: a Canal from Buffalo on the eastern shore of Lake Erie to Albany on the upper Hudson River, a distance of almost 400 miles. Long a proponent of efficient water transportation, Hawley had gone bankrupt trying to get his product to market from what is now Rochester. Sent to debtor&rsquos prison as a result, Hawley wrote a series of essays which were published in the Genesee Messenger beginning in 1807, describing in great detail the route, costs, and benefits of what would become the Erie Canal.

Hawley&rsquos essays caught the eye of Assemblyman Joshua Forman, who submitted the first State legislation related to the Erie Canal in 1808, calling for a series of surveys to be made examining the practicality of a water route between Lake Erie and the Hudson River. Forman even traveled to Washington to make a case for federal support for the Canal, at which point Thomas Jefferson described the proposal as &ldquoa little short of madness.&rdquo

In 1810, Thomas Eddy, Treasurer of the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company and State Senator Jonas Platt, hoping to get plans for the Canal moving forward, approached influential Senator De Witt Clinton -- former mayor of New York City and a rising political star -- to enlist his support. On March 13th, a measure was introduced in the State Senate naming a Canal Commission and directing the commissioners to survey a route for the Canal which would connect the Hudson River to the Great Lakes. With Clinton&rsquos support, the measure passed, and the Erie Canal era had begun.

Though Clinton had been recruited to the Canal effort by Eddy and Platt, he quickly became one of the Canal&rsquos most active supporters, and went on to tie his very political fate to the success of the Canal. Today, De Witt Clinton and the story of the Erie Canal are inextricably linked, and there is no doubt that Governor Clinton grasped at the time the revolutionary impact the Canal would have once it opened:

Though the War of 1812 created a lengthy interruption in the project&rsquos progress, Clinton and his fellow Canal proponents continued to work to build support for the waterway. In 1816, as a sitting Canal Commissioner, DeWitt Clinton submitted a formal petition to a joint committee of the New York State Senate and Assembly to create a canal system between the Hudson River and Lake Erie. This document, known as the "New York Memorial", generated a series of public meetings in support of the Canal&rsquos construction and effectively began the movement in the state to build the waterway. Ultimately, over one hundred thousand New Yorkers would sign the petition, helping to build a ground swell of public support for the project.

On April 15th, 1817, the New York State Legislature finally approved construction of the Erie Canal, which Jesse Hawley had written so compellingly about just a decade earlier. The bill authorized $7 million for construction of the 363-mile long waterway, which was to be 40 feet wide and four feet deep. Construction would begin on July 4th, in Rome, NY and would take eight years. Also in 1817, Clinton would leverage his success championing the Canal&rsquos construction into the Governor&rsquos office, his election culminating his meteoric political rise over the years.

The completion of the Erie Canal spurred the first great westward movement of American settlers, gave access to the rich land and resources west of the Appalachians and made New York the preeminent commercial city in the United States.

&ldquoThe Marriage of the Waters&rdquo
A mural decoration in the DeWitt Clinton High School, New York City, showing a scene connected with the ceremony of opening the Erie Canal in 1825. - Copyright 1905, C.Y. Turner

In 1825, Governor Dewitt Clinton officially opened the Erie Canal as he sailed the packet boat Seneca Chief along the Canal from Buffalo to Albany. After traveling from the mouth of the Erie to New York City, he emptied two casks of water from Lake Erie into the Atlantic Ocean, celebrating the first connection of waters from East to West in the ceremonial "Wedding of the Waters".

The effect of the Canal was both immediate and dramatic, and settlers poured west. The explosion of trade prophesied by Governor Clinton began, spurred by freight rates from Buffalo to New York of $10 per ton by Canal, compared with $100 per ton by road. In 1829, there were 3,640 bushels of wheat transported down the Canal from Buffalo. By 1837 this figure had increased to 500,000 bushels four years later it reached one million. In nine years, Canal tolls more than recouped the entire cost of construction.

Within 15 years of the Canal's opening, New York was the busiest port in America, moving tonnages greater than Boston, Baltimore and New Orleans combined.

The impact on the rest of the State can be seen by looking at a modern map. With the exception of Binghamton and Elmira, every major city in New York falls along the trade route established by the Erie Canal, from New York City to Albany, through Schenectady, Utica and Syracuse, to Rochester and Buffalo. Nearly 80% of upstate New York's population lives within 25 miles of the Erie Canal.

The Erie Canal's success was part of a Canal-building boom in New York in the 1820s. Between 1823 and 1828, several lateral Canals opened including the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca.

Between 1835 and the turn of the century, this network of Canals was enlarged twice to accommodate heavier traffic. Between 1905 and 1918, the Canals were enlarged again. This time, in order to accommodate much larger barges, the engineers decided to abandon much of the original man-made channel and use new techniques to &ldquoCanalize&rdquo the rivers that the canal had been constructed to avoid the Mohawk, Oswego, Seneca, Clyde and Oneida Lake. A uniform channel was dredged dams were built to create long, navigable pools, and locks were built adjacent to the dams to allow the barges to pass from one pool to the next.

With growing competition from railroads and highways, and the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, commercial traffic on the Canal System declined dramatically in the latter part of the 20th century.

Today, the waterway network has been renamed again. As the New York State Canal System, it is enjoying a rebirth as a recreational and historic resource. The Erie Canal played an integral role in the transformation of New York City into the nation's leading port, a national identity that continues to be reflected in many songs, legends and artwork today.

The Story of the New York State Canals

The account of the history of the Erie Canal and the &ldquolateral&rdquo canals, as referenced by Roy Finch, was written in 1925 in celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Erie Canal. Mr. Finch was employed with the New York State Engineer and Surveyor, a defunct governmental agency that managed the Canal System from the 1850&rsquos to the mid-1900&rsquos. He was intrigued by the canals and, in celebration of the birth of the canal, thought it useful to share his knowledge and experience with all.

  • The Story of the New York State Canals (1 page per sheet) | (Booklet format, 2 pages per sheet)

Turning Points

Realizing the dominance of Philadelphia’s security exchange market, New York decided to formalize its exchange by establishing the New York Stock and Exchange Board in 1817, which later became the NYSE.   With a new exchange and home to more banks than its southern competitor, New York looked to lure investors away from Philadelphia.

By this time, New York had already surpassed Philadelphia as the nation’s leader in commercial trade. It was a top coastal trade city by 1789, overtaking Philadelphia in the value of imports in 1796, and in the value of exports in the following year. While New York’s superiority in commercial trade was clearly evident by 1815, it wasn't until the Erie Canal was completed in 1825 that New York's ascendancy became clear.  

Geographical Advantage

New York’s supremacy in trade has a lot to do with geographical factors, but it was helped along by a number of more contingent developments as well. Not only was New York a central location for inbound European merchants, but its ports proved to be much more convenient than either Philadelphia’s or Boston’s. Being deeper, the Hudson River proved to be much more navigable and less prone to freezing over than both the Delaware River and the Charles River.

New York’s geographical advantage was supplemented by the construction of the Erie Canal (1817–1825), and with the establishment of Black Ball Lines in 1818.     While the Erie Canal connected the Hudson River to the Great Lakes and consequently to the fastest-growing parts of America west of the Appalachian Mountains, the Black Ball Line provided the first-ever regularly scheduled transatlantic passenger service. Both the Canal and the Line helped to solidify New York’s place as America’s center of commercial trade and central transportation hub.

As the first port of entry for many immigrants, New York became a convenient place for them to settle, helping stimulate an unstoppable rise in the city’s population that would grow to be 10% larger than Philadelphia’s by 1820 and as much as twice as large by 1860.   The flow of immigrants also helped to increase manufacturing and commercial activity even further.

The Adventurous Spirit

These new immigrants also brought with them a more adventurous risk-taking spirit that stood in contrast to the more cautious nature of Philadelphia’s Quaker heritage. As a result, New York quickly developed a reputation for being a city of innovative business enterprise with an entrepreneurial ethos that lent itself to speculative investment behavior. Speculation further enhanced the voluminous trade in New York’s securities markets by keeping them awash with liquidity.

In order to finance the increasing amount of stock trading in New York, a market for call loans developed. Using securities as collateral, stock traders could borrow money from the banks to be used for further speculative investments. This behavior proved mutually beneficial for New York’s banks, and its stock market as the banks earned interest off of the loans while the borrowed money allowed for further securities trading.


The Onondaga, or Onoñda’gega’ (“People of the Hills”), nation was both the geographical and political center of the early Iroquois Confederacy. According to the Peacemaker story, the confederacy’s Grand Council fires were to burn among the Onondaga, who became known as the “Keepers of the Central Fire” and were responsible for retaining the confederacy’s wampum. The Onondaga also supplied 14 sachems (hodiyahnehsonh) to the Grand Council as well as its chairman. In April 1779 Onondaga settlements became the initial target of a brutal American wartime campaign against the Iroquois, which was led by Gen. John Sullivan. Following the Revolution, a small number of Onondaga joined other Iroquois in relocating to the Grand River section of Ontario, Canada. From 1788 to 1822 the state of New York took possession of about 95 percent of Onondaga land. Today some 7,300 acres (30 square km) south of Syracuse, New York, constitute the land of the Onondaga nation.


The selected site, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in the borough of Queens, was originally a natural wetland straddling the Flushing River. [6] Flushing had been a Dutch settlement, named after the city of Vlissingen (anglicized into "Flushing"). [7] : 220 The site was then converted into the Corona Ash Dumps, [7] : 212 which were featured prominently in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby as the "Valley of Ashes". [6] The site was used for the 1939/1940 New York World's Fair, and at the conclusion of the fair, was used as a park. [8] [9]

Preceding these fairs was the 1853–1854 Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, located in the New York Crystal Palace at what is now Bryant Park in the New York City borough of Manhattan. [10]

The 1964/1965 Fair was conceived by a group of New York businessmen who remembered their childhood experiences at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Thoughts of an economic boon to the city as the result of increased tourism was a major reason for holding another fair 25 years after the 1939/1940 extravaganza. [11] Then-New York City mayor, Robert F. Wagner, Jr., commissioned Frederick Pittera, a producer of international fairs and exhibitions, and author of the history of International Fairs & Exhibitions for the Encyclopædia Britannica and Compton's Encyclopedia, to prepare the first feasibility studies for the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair. He was joined by Austrian architect Victor Gruen (creator of the shopping mall) in studies that eventually led the Eisenhower Commission to award the world's fair to New York City in competition with a number of American cities.

Organizers turned to private financing and the sale of bonds to pay the huge costs to stage the event. The organizers hired New York's "Master Builder" Robert Moses, to head the corporation established to run the fair because he was experienced in raising money for vast public projects. Moses had been a formidable figure in the city since coming to power in the 1930s. He was responsible for the construction of much of the city's highway infrastructure and, as parks commissioner for decades, the creation of much of the city's park system.

In the mid-1930s, Moses oversaw the conversion of a vast Queens tidal marsh garbage dump into the fairgrounds that hosted the 1939/1940 World's Fair. [12] Called Flushing Meadows Park, it was Moses' grandest park scheme. He envisioned this vast park, comprising some 1,300 acres (5.3 km 2 ) of land, easily accessible from Manhattan, as a major recreational playground for New Yorkers. When the 1939/1940 World's Fair ended in financial failure, Moses did not have the available funds to complete work on his project. He saw the 1964/1965 Fair as a means to finish what the earlier fair had begun. [13]

To ensure profits to complete the park, fair organizers knew they would have to maximize receipts. An estimated attendance of 70 million people would be needed to turn a profit and, for attendance that large, the fair would need to be held for two years. The World's Fair Corporation also decided to charge site-rental fees to all exhibitors who wished to construct pavilions on the grounds. This decision caused the fair to come into conflict with the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), as the international body headquartered in Paris that sanctions world's fairs: BIE rules stated that an international exposition could run for one six-month period only, and no rent could be charged to exhibitors. In addition, the rules allowed only one exposition in any given country within a 10-year period, and the Seattle World's Fair had already been sanctioned for 1962, as 2 years prior. [12]

The United States was not a member of the BIE at the time, but fair organizers understood that approval by the BIE would ensure that its nearly 40 member nations would participate in the fair. Moses, undaunted by the rules, journeyed to Paris to seek official approval for the New York fair. When the BIE balked at New York's bid, Moses, used to having his way in New York, angered the BIE delegates by taking his case to the press, publicly stating his disdain for the BIE and its rules. [12] The BIE retaliated by formally requesting its member nations not to participate in the New York fair. [12] The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair is the only significant world's fair since the formation of the BIE to be held without its endorsement. [14]

Many of the pavilions were built in a Mid-century modern style that was heavily influenced by "Googie architecture". This was a futurist architectural style influenced by car culture, jet aircraft, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age, which were all on display at the fair. Some pavilions were explicitly shaped like the product they were promoting, such as the US Royal tire-shaped Ferris wheel, or even the corporate logo, such as the Johnson Wax pavilion. Other pavilions were more abstract representations, such as the oblate spheroid-shaped IBM pavilion, or the General Electric circular dome shaped "Carousel of Progress".

The pavilion architectures expressed a new-found freedom of form enabled by modern building materials, such as reinforced concrete, fiberglass, plastic, tempered glass, and stainless steel. The facade or the entire structure of a pavilion served as a giant billboard advertising the country or organization housed inside, flamboyantly competing for the attention of busy and distracted fairgoers.

By contrast, some of the smaller international, US state, and organizational pavilions were built in more traditional styles, such as a Chinese temple or a Swiss chalet. Countries took this opportunity to showcase culinary aspects of their culture as well, with fondue being promoted at the Swiss Pavilion's Alpine restaurant thanks to the Swiss Cheese Union. [15] After the fair's final closing in 1965, some pavilions crafted of wood were carefully disassembled and transported elsewhere for re-use.

Other pavilions were "decorated sheds", a building method later described by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, using plain structural shells embellished with applied decorations. This allowed designers to simulate a traditional style while bypassing expensive and time-consuming methods of traditional construction. The expedient was considered acceptable for temporary buildings planned to be used for only two years, and then to be demolished.

The Philadelphia Story

One of the first signs of Philadelphia’s initial financial supremacy came with the establishment of the Bank of Pennsylvania in 1780 and its role in helping to finance the Revolutionary War.   As the nation’s largest city and acting capital during the last decade of the 18th century, it would become the location for the nation’s first federally chartered bank—the First Bank of the United States. Acting as a de facto central bank, it established Philadelphia as the initial center of American finance.  

The failure of the First Bank to renew its charter in 1811 for political reasons did not disrupt this supremacy, as financial instability following the War of 1812 would help to bring about the chartering of the Second Bank of the United States in 1816, also located in Philadelphia. As the nation’s only federally chartered bank—and given the special privileges that came with it—the bank exerted its power and influence over the rest of the nation’s state-chartered banks, which was notable in the history of U.S. banking regulation.  

Philadelphia’s stock exchange further illustrated its place as the leading financial center. Indeed, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, established in 1790, is older than the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and even as late as 1815, London banks looked to Philadelphia rather than New York to buy American securities.  

August 28, 2013

This May 20, 2011, photo shows the marble lion “Fortitude,” one of a pair created by Edward Clark Potter in 1911, at the main entrance to the New York Public Library in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Alleen Brown, Luis Feliz and John Thomason contributed research to this article.

On the morning of February 1, Anthony Marx, president and CEO of the New York Public Library, met with a group of business and political leaders who had assembled in a majestic room inside the 42nd Street library. Marx was introduced by a prominent Manhattan real estate developer, William Rudin. Near the end of his spirited presentation, Marx digressed from library policy and asked his audience to buy commercial real estate in the vicinity of Fifth Avenue and 40th Street—the location of the Mid-Manhattan Library, which the NYPL is determined to sell under its Central Library Plan (CLP), the core of which envisions a colossal, $300 million–plus transformation of the 42nd Street library by the architect Norman Foster.

The CLP has been the subject of mounting controversy for almost eighteen months. In the spring of 2012, hundreds of scholars and writers protested the NYPL’s scheme to remove 3 million books from 42nd Street—a backlash that prompted the NYPL to raise $8 million to build shelving for 1.5 million books under Bryant Park, behind the library. In December, the late architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable declared, in her final essay, that “after extensive study of the library’s conception and construction I have become convinced that irreversible changes of this magnitude should not be made in this landmark building.” On June 7, Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic of The New York Times, told New York magazine: “If you’re going to be spending untold millions on this plan, it better be what the city really, really needs. Otherwise, this will be considered one of the calamities of the city’s history, along with Penn Station.”

On June 27, at a hearing sponsored by New York State Assemblyman Micah Kellner, Marx promised not only an independent audit of the CLP, but also an analysis of the costs of rehabilitating the nearby Mid-Manhattan Library instead, as critics have urged. In early July, two lawsuits were filed by scholars opposed to the CLP, and on July 12, the NYPL signed a legal document stipulating that it would not undertake construction or demolition work in the stacks area at 42nd Street at the present time. (In its rush to execute the CLP, the NYPL has already removed 3 million books from the stacks.)

For two years, the NYPL has refused to discuss the CLP in detail, and many questions remain unanswered. How and why did one of the world’s greatest libraries get into the real estate business? How did the CLP, which was formulated between 2005 and early 2007, advance into late 2011 without any significant public debate or discussion? Who first conceived the idea of demolishing book stacks that were constructed by Carrère and Hastings in the first decade of the twentieth century? What role did the Bloomberg administration play in the creation of the CLP? Finally, what was the role of Booz Allen Hamilton—the gargantuan consulting firm whose tentacles reach into the defense, energy, transportation and financial service sectors—which was hired by the NYPL in 2007 to formulate what became known inside the trustee meetings as “the strategy”?

Ten years of NYPL trustee meeting minutes, obtained by The Nation under the state’s Open Meetings Law, shed light on these questions and reveal the extent to which the CLP, from its inception, was characterized by secrecy and hubris.

The trustee minutes are permeated by financial anxiety and fiscal uncertainty. The NYPL relies on New York City for much of its operating budget, but the city has refused to “baseline” (or normalize) library funding. Hence the annual “budget dance” that we’ve seen for years: the mayor proposes a massive cut to the NYPL budget, then the City Council steps in to restore much—though not all—of the funding. (In an election year, the process can be smoother and less punishing.) It’s a dance that rarely serves the NYPL’s best interests: between 2007 and 2010, the library endured a 19 percent reduction in city funding. Indeed, financial stress in 2005 led the NYPL, in a controversial move, to sell one of its most valuable paintings, Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits. It also sold two portraits of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, as well as other paintings in its collection.

The NYPL’s financial difficulties are aggravated by its size and structure: the city pays 79 percent of the cost of running the eighty-seven branch libraries but provides only 21 percent of the revenue for the four research libraries, of which 42nd Street is the most prominent. The research libraries are largely supported by private philanthropy and an endowment. Sustaining them has been a long-term challenge for the NYPL’s leaders. “People don’t understand how under-endowed the NYPL is,” says trustee Robert Darnton. “The endowment isn’t even a billion dollars, which for a huge organization simply is not adequate.”

If the NYPL’s annual operating budget is uncertain, so is its capital budget: the branch libraries, according to Marx, require up to $1 billion in repairs but New York City has no systematic process for fixing and upgrading those buildings, many of which are in very poor condition. In a July 3 interview, Marx insisted that the branch libraries remain an urgent priority, and he has launched a private fundraising campaign to assist them. Still, the disparity between the 42nd Street library, which has received at least $65 million for renovations since 1995, and the dismal condition of many branch libraries is generating questions. On August 5, the Daily News highlighted the plight of the Macomb’s Bridge branch, which is located in a Harlem housing project and has only fourteen chairs in a 700-square-foot space.

In late 2005 and early 2006, the trustees began to ponder expansive questions about the NYPL’s future and approved the creation of an ad hoc committee “tasked with considering the Library’s evolution over the next five to ten years.”

In January 2007, Booz Allen Hamilton was hired to assist the trustees with “the strategy.” On February 7, the trustees went into executive session (the substance of which is never covered in the minutes) to discuss “certain real estate…matters.” Booz Allen appears to have finished its work by May, because the board held two “special meetings” the following month (June 6 and June 28), at which the strategy was unveiled and discussed. (At this time, First Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris was told of it, and she and her colleagues expressed “initial enthusiasm.” NYPL officials also met with Mayor Bloomberg in 2007.)

At the first special meeting, Paul LeClerc, the NYPL’s president from 1993 to July 2011, presented the “pillars” of the strategy. A crucial pillar entailed “transforming the Library’s physical footprint”—bureaucratic language for the sale of NYPL real estate and the remaking of the 42nd Street library. But why would the NYPL want to sell its own real estate? Its leaders have insisted for two years that consolidation and efficiency were always the central ideas behind the CLP the trustee minutes state in passing, and without elaboration, that the strategy was developed to address the library’s “structural deficits.” And so the NYPL decided, in the words of David Offensend, its powerful chief operating officer, on a plan of action that entailed the “monetizing of non-core assets.” (The other pillars of the strategy included the strengthening of the NYPL’s digital presence, “encouraging innovation” and “securing the Library’s financial future.”)

The NYPL is known for its institutional sluggishness. But the minutes show that the trustees moved swiftly in 2007. Offensend, at the first special meeting, reminded the trustees that “Booz Allen, based on its extensive experience with large organizations, recommended that the strategy be implemented as soon as it is approved by the Trustees.” Three weeks later, the trustees passed a resolution approving the new strategic direction, and board chair Catherine Marron, who served in that capacity from 2004 to 2011, noted “the crucial assistance provided to the effort by consultants Booz Allen Hamilton.”

During the proceedings, Marron “reminded all in attendance of the importance of maintaining confidentiality.” Why did Marron, who did not respond to an interview request, urge confidentiality? The likely reason is this: the trustees were poised to undertake a pivotal decision, one that would evolve into a fiasco—the sale of the Donnell Library at 20 West 53rd Street, across from the Museum of Modern Art. It was a library cherished by generations of New Yorkers, one that served more than 700,000 people a year. At the end of the second special meeting, the trustees approved the sale of Donnell, on the condition that the NYPL retain a “core and shell suitable for housing a circulating library” on the site.

The Donnell Library’s fate became public months later, on November 7, when the Times reported that the NYPL had signed an agreement to sell the property and building to Orient-Express Hotels for $59 million. What necessitated the sale, LeClerc told the Times, was Donnell’s poor infrastructure—old elevators and outdated systems for air conditioning, heat and electricity. Patrons of Donnell responded with sadness and fury. A temporary replacement was established at 135 East 46th Street, for which the annual rent is $850,000, and to which the NYPL directed $4.65 million in renovation funds.

Were Booz Allen’s fingerprints on the sale of the Donnell Library and other “non-core assets” owned by the NYPL? In a recent interview, Offensend was tight-lipped about the NYPL’s association with Booz Allen, saying only: “The various real estate plans were all developed by the library prior to the engagement of Booz Allen. The primary reason that Booz Allen was retained was to help the library develop a broad strategic direction on a lot of different fronts.” (NYPL spokesman Ken Weine won’t release the documents that emerged from the NYPL’s partnership with Booz Allen, for which Booz received $2.7 million nor will he make public documents produced by McKinsey & Company, which advised the NYPL from 2003 to 2004 and again in 2007.)

Likewise, was it Booz Allen (or McKinsey) that urged the NYPL to demolish the Carrère and Hastings stacks in order to make way for a modern computer library beneath the Rose Reading Room at 42nd Street? That idea, Offensend said, was first discussed at a meeting between himself and three top NYPL librarians—one of whom was David Ferriero, appointed Archivist of the United States by President Obama in 2009, who declined to be interviewed for this article.

Central to the strategy was the sale of the Science, Industry and Business Library, which opened on Madison Avenue in 1996, and the decrepit but bustling Mid-Manhattan Library. Under the CLP, the services of both facilities would be transferred, in ways that have yet to be explained by Marx, to 42nd Street after the stacks were removed. The trustees knew they had embarked on a huge undertaking at 42nd Street: the minutes refer to the “complexity, uniqueness and duration of the proposed Central Library Building Project.” In late 2007, Paul Goldberger, the architecture critic, became an adviser to the NYPL’s architect selection committee.

For a while, in late 2007 and 2008, the strategy seemed to be on track. With Donnell presumably secure in the hands of Orient-Express, NYPL leaders focused their attention on the sale of the Mid-Manhattan Library, for which they had high hopes. On May 14, 2008, Marshall Rose, a longtime trustee and the NYPL’s in-house real estate guru, informed the trustees that the library had “entered into confidentiality agreements with 35 parties interested in receiving the offering memorandum” for Mid-Manhattan. Other encouraging news arrived. City capital funds for the 42nd Street renovation were starting to flow: $15 million was promised by the City Council in July 2008.

But dark clouds were gathering as well: the economy was shaky, and Orient-Express was in distress. The trustee minutes for October 6, 2008, note: “Marshall Rose reported…that the purchaser, Orient-Express…likely will not be able to close on the scheduled closing date, given the recent disruption in the credit markets. Mr. Rose stated, however, that he believed this was simply a question of timing and that he expected the closing to go forward.” Rose, who did not respond to interview requests, was mistaken: in early 2009, Orient-Express announced that it could not complete the deal, leaving the NYPL with an empty library on 53rd Street. But the sale of the Mid-Manhattan Library still seemed viable. On October 6, 2008, the trustees learned that it had a special meaning for one of the presidential candidates: “The Chairman [remarked] that Barack Obama…credited the Mid-Manhattan Library…in his efforts many years ago to find work as a community organizer.” Minutes later, they voted to sell it, but the deal was doomed—the buyer backed out as the financial crisis deepened.

The scheme for 42nd Street advanced nevertheless. On October 23, 2008, the Times reported that Norman Foster had been selected as the architect for the project. But Foster’s plan for 42nd Street would also be derailed, at least for a time, by the economic turmoil. The trustee minutes for 2009 are largely silent about the NYPL’s sundry real estate transactions. Instead, there was much somber discussion of austerity, cutbacks and layoffs. “A number of the Library’s endowment funds are ‘underwater,’” board chair Marron reported on September 16, 2009. On November 18, 2009, the trustees were told that 8 percent of the NYPL workforce had been eliminated, and that spending for branch library materials had been reduced by 25 percent and for research library materials by 35 percent.

The gap between the NYPL’s grandiose ambitions and ground-level economic realities was starkly evident at the meeting of February 10, 2010, at which Marron reported that Mayor Bloomberg “has allocated $50 million in City capital funds” for the CLP. But the applause must have been fleeting, because at the same time the mayor proposed a $38 million cut in the NYPL’s operating funding for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. A cut of that size led the trustees to ponder a doomsday scenario: the layoff of one-third of the NYPL’s staff, the closing of ten branch libraries and a drastic reduction of library hours. (The worst did not come to pass: $28 million of the funding was restored.) Meanwhile, the real estate faction on the board kept itself busy: in May 2011, the trustees voted to sell floors three through seven of the Science, Industry and Business Library for $60.8 million the library still retains the bottom three floors.

By early 2011, the Foster plan was uncertain: nearly four years after the strategy was approved, the city had promised only $60 million in capital funding. On June 29, 2011, LeClerc, just back from City Hall, burst into the NYPL’s executive suite: “Here’s the news,” he declared in the presence of a Nation reporter. “We got the $100 million from the city.” (LeClerc then turned to the reporter, asking, “Are you a friendly reporter?”) LeClerc, who did not respond to requests for an interview, was days away from retirement, and it was the outcome he had wished for: the city’s total allocation for the CLP would amount to $151 million. Still, he had no illusions about the NYPL’s financial predicament. At the trustee meeting of February 9, 2011, LeClerc had emphasized “the challenges in public sector funding for the Library that seem unlikely to abate anytime soon.”

In early December 2011, The Nation revealed the contours and scale of the CLP and gave voice to critics of the plan [see Sherman, “Upheaval at the New York Public Library,” December 19, 2011]. Two months later, on February 15, 2012, the trustees decided to initiate “a public engagement process” to allow citizens to comment on the CLP. But at the close of the meeting, they authorized Foster to move ahead with the schematic design for 42nd Street.

News of the CLP was spreading. On March 12, 2012, radio host Leonard Lopate of WNYC devoted a segment of his talk show to the NYPL. On April 7, Garrison Keillor satirized Marx & Co. on A Prairie Home Companion. The historian Joan Scott circulated a protest letter that drew many hundreds of distinguished names from around the world. The trustees hit the accelerator. The minutes for May 16, 2012, state: “Dr. Marx reported that the ‘listening process’ will continue during the coming months but noted the importance of also moving forward with discussions with F+P Architects.”

On December 19, 2012, the NYPL held a press conference at which Foster himself unveiled his vision for 42nd Street. The critical response was scathing. Even NYPL adviser Paul Goldberger didn’t care for the design. “The result,” he wrote on, “comes off looking vaguely corporate, and more than a little like a department store.” Foster, who has thus far received $7.9 million, has been sent back to work on the design. Marx told WNYC’s Lopate on July 24 that “we’ve gone back to the drawing board.”

And that empty library across from the Museum of Modern Art? After Orient-Express pulled out in 2009, the property was sold to Tribeca Associates and Starwood Capital Group, which are currently building a fifty-story hotel and residential structure on the site the penthouse apartment has been advertised for $60 million. In May 2012, the NYPL unveiled its design for the new (and smaller) Donnell, which is set to open late in 2015. Old resentments resurfaced. “The proposed replacement for the Donnell Library,” Sonia Collins wrote in a letter to the Times, “is not truly a ‘library’ but a grand staircase leading to an empty, bookless room in the basement of a luxury high rise.” Even the NYPL’s peers have joined the critical backlash: a senior executive of the Brooklyn Public Library—which is separate from the NYPL and has announced its own plan to sell branch libraries to real estate developers—recently told Library Journal’s Norman Oder that the NYPL’s experience with the Donnell Library sale constituted “a disaster.”

But Offensend is serene he is satisfied with the $59 million that the NYPL received in the deal. Still, renovating the new Donnell will cost the NYPL $20 million. And if he could do the Donnell sale over again, “I wouldn’t do it differently,” Offensend says. “I think it will turn out to be a fantastic improvement in service for the patrons of NYPL. The new plans have been very well received by the community.”

What lessons are to be drawn from the CLP? First, transparency is essential when public libraries are planning immense transformations. A striking counterpoint is the Seattle Public Library, which remade its system in the late 1990s in a remarkably transparent way. According to New School professor Shannon Mattern, who writes about libraries, Seattle City Librarian Deborah Jacobs held more than a hundred meetings with the public to solicit a wide range of input, and Seattle residents were invited to join ten public work groups. Nothing like this occurred at the NYPL. Marx asserted in February that the CLP “has been the subject of public discussion for five years.” But the decision by the trustees to sell Donnell in June 2007 without any public consultation makes a mockery of that claim.

Second, librarians must be involved in library policy. The NYPL’s staff was mostly excluded from the conception and execution of the CLP, and excessive power was concentrated in the hands of two men with no library training, both of whom provided continuity between the LeClerc and Marx regimes: Marshall Rose and David Offensend. The former is a wealthy real estate developer the latter worked in finance before coming to the NYPL in 2004.

Third, New York needs a more robust debate about library funding. A January report by the Center for an Urban Future, “Branches of Opportunity,” has already laid the groundwork for such a discussion. District Council 37 of the public employees union AFSCME, which represents some NYPL workers, has called for 2.5 percent of existing citywide property tax assessments to be directed to libraries—money that would allow for permanent baseline funding.

Finally, public research libraries must be preserved and defended. People around the world cherish the New York Public Library for its intellectual vibrancy, its tranquillity and its utterly democratic orientation. The city has other fine research libraries, but only the NYPL is free and open to all—a fact that has animated and energized critics of the NYPL’s current leadership, many of them independent scholars and writers without an institutional home. Those critics and others, including librarians, insist that the NYPL should not be undermined by real estate deals, corporate logic or phony populism. And they are right.

See Scott Sherman’s previous reports on the NYPL crisis, from the December 19, 2011, and the May 6, 2013, issues.

Scott Sherman Scott Sherman is a contributing writer to The Nation and the author of Patience and Fortitude: Power, Real Estate, and the Fight to Save a Public Library (Melville House, 2015).


During the American Revolution, New York City was occupied by the British 1775-1783 many of the Military companies existing prior to the war were broken up and enlisting in the Continental service. In 1786 the Militia was reestablished the regiments in New York City were: [1]

  • Isaac Stoundenberg's 1st Regiment. 's 2nd Regiment. 's 3rd Regiment. 's 4th Regiment
  • Sebastian Bauman's New York City Regiment of Artilley.

Before the formal creation of the New York Army National Guard, the State of New York mobilized a number of militia regiments for short terms of service in the Union Army during moments of crisis in the American Civil War.

The militia regiments that New York mobilized included:

  • 2nd Regiment New York State State Militia Infantry mustered into volunteer service as the 82nd New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
  • 4th Regiment National Guard Infantry was raised on June 18, 1863, for 30 days service in response to Robert E. Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania in June of that year. It served in Pennsylvania and was mustered out of service on July 24, 1863.
  • 5th Regiment National Guard Infantry was raised on June 18, 1863, for 30 days service in response to Robert E. Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania in June of that year. It served in Pennsylvania and was mustered out of service on July 22, 1863.
  • 6th Regiment National Guard Infantry was raised on June 18, 1863, for 30 days service in response to Robert E. Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania in June of that year. It served in Baltimore, Maryland, as part of the garrison of that city, and was mustered out of service on July 22, 1863.
  • 8th Regiment National Guard Infantry (formerly 8th Regiment, New York State Militia) was mustered in on May 29, 1862, for 90 days service. It served in the defenses of Washington, DC, as part of the garrison of that city, and was mustered out of service on September 9, 1862. It was called up for a second time in June, 1863, for 30 days service in response to Robert E. Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania in June of that year. It served in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as part of the garrison of that city and 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Dept. of the Susquehanna, and was mustered out of service on July 23, 1863. [2]
  • 22nd Regiment National Guard Infantry served May 28, 1862, to July 24, 1863 [3]
  • 25th Regiment National Guard Infantry was raised on May 31, 1862, for three months service. It served in the garrison of Suffolk, Virginia, and was mustered out of service on September 8, 1862.
  • 28th Regiment National Guard Infantry was raised on June 20, 1863, in response to Robert E. Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania in June of that year. It saw no action during the campaign, and then returned to New York City to help suppress the draft riots there. It was mustered out on July 23, 1863. It was called up for a second time on September 2, 1864, for 100 days service and mustered out on November 13, 1864.
  • 37th Regiment National Guard Infantry was raised on May 29, 1862, for three months service. It served in the Middle Department and was mustered out on September 2, 1862. It was mustered a second time for 30 days service during the Gettysburg Campaign on June 18, 1863, and mustered out on July 22, 1863. The 37th was mustered a third time for 30 days on May 6, 1864, for guard duty at New York's harbor. It mustered out June 6, 1864.

The New York State Militia was active by the mid-1880s. In 1889 a group of wealthy equestrian enthusiasts were incorporated into the State Militia as Squadron A. Their heritage is carried on today by the 101st Cavalry Regiment.

New York Army National Guard Edit

The New York Army National Guard was formally created in 1906. The Militia Act of 1903 organized the various state militias into the present National Guard system. The New York Army National Guard dispatched elements of the 27th Infantry Division and the 42nd Infantry Division to both world wars. Douglas MacArthur served as an officer and brigade commander in the 42nd Infantry Division during the First World War.

In the early 1960s, the NY ARNG included the 102nd Artillery Brigade (Air Defense), part of Army Air Defense Command, which in 1962 comprised 1-245, 2-209, 1-244, and 1-212 Artillery, equipped with a variety of missile systems. [4]

For much of the final decades of the twentieth century, National Guard personnel typically served "One weekend a month, two weeks a year", with a portion working for the Guard in a full-time capacity.

In 1993, the 1st Battalion, 107th Infantry Regiment, was deactivated as part of nationwide force structure reductions. [5] The 107th designation was reassigned to the former 205th Support Group, New York Army National Guard, creating the 107th Support Group.

Twenty-first century Edit

Since the 9/11 Attacks on New York City, New York Army National Guard Soldiers were brought back into force in 2003 to help in the "Ice Storm". Soon after that, they were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terror, as well as faced an increase in domestic missions.

The current forces formation plans of the US Army call for the typical National Guard unit (or National Guardsman) to serve one year of active duty for every three years of service. More specifically, current United States Department of Defense policy is that no Guardsman will be involuntarily activated for a total of more than 24 months (cumulative) in one six-year enlistment period. This policy was due to change on 1 August 2007 the new policy stated that soldiers will be given 24 months between deployments of no more than 24 months. However, individual states have differing policies.

The 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment deployed to Iraq in 2004 along with the 105th MP Company. In 2004/2005 the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, along with Delta Company 1st Battalion, 101st Cavalry, served in Iraq eventually assuming responsibility for security on the Baghdad International Airport Road.

In 2004 the Division Headquarters and division base units of the 42nd Infantry Division, the "Rainbow" Division, were mobilized for service in Iraq. The 42nd Infantry Division, took over responsibility for the area known as Multi-National Division North Central—the provinces of Salah Ah Din, Diyala, At Tamamim (or Kirkuk Province) and As Sulymaniah Province from the 1st Infantry Division on February 14, 2005. The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade also deployed to Iraq during this period.

At one point during 2005 almost 3,500 members of the New York Army National Guard were serving in Iraq. Task Force Liberty, led by the 42nd Infantry Division, comprised 23,000 Soldiers including two Active Duty Army Brigades of the 3rd Infantry Division, the 278th Regimental Combat Team of the Tennessee Army National Guard, and the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team from the Pacific Northwest.

About 25 NY ARNG soldiers deployed to Iraq in Sep 2006 as part of the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade.

In 2008 the 27th Brigade Combat Team was mobilized with the role of training Afghan National Army and Police forces in Afghanistan (Task Force Phoenix). The 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry deployed with the 27th BCT. Members of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, and 1st Battalion 69th Infantry, filled out vacancies in the deploying units. The brigade returned late 2008.

The 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation (Assault Helicopter) deployed to Iraq in late summer of 2008 in support of Multi-National Corps – Iraq, as did the 133rd Quartermaster Company. The battalion returned to New York in the spring of 2009.

The 27th Brigade Combat Team received a notification of sourcing and deployed to Afghanistan in February 2012. The various units within the 27th BCT were assigned various missions throughout Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Bahrain. [6]

The HHD/107th Support Group has recently been reorganized and redesignated several times and is now the 53rd Army Digital Liaison Team.

The New York Army National Guard's structure as of October 2019 is as follows: [7]

History of New York City

Esad Metjahic
History of New York
Virtual Guidebook of Prohibition New York
Throughout history, dating back millennia, mankind has consistently accomplished two things, no matter the terrain, distance, or culture. These two things have shaped human history, they are two of the leading causes in conflict and conflict resolution, and governments have ineffectively attempted to ban both from their nations, watching them instead thrive underground and flourish in the fall of those laws. These two things that are integral to the very creation of human civilization are religion, and alcohol. Although more than a few nations and faiths have fought with alcohol before, the American Prohibition movement can trace its roots to the 1820’s, with the religious-based Temperance movement. Although it would not actually come to be law until a hundred years after, it built the foundation which would become the 18th amendment. Although the law only lasted a little over a decade, in a busy trade city with a massively diverse immigrant population like New York, the results were distinct and profound. From police raids on suspect secret breweries to the mafia smuggling alcohol, New York during prohibition was a beast of its own.

To decision to outlaw the production, transportation, and distribution of alcohol did not sweep the nation overnight. Although the idea of temperance can’t be put on a calendar, a major milestone in the movement would be the foundation of the American Temperance Society on February 13th, 1826(1). Initially founded in Boston, the ATS would spread across the nation and similar organizations, such as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League. Although the roots of the movement are found in a Christian base, the reasons for temperance expanded past that. The temperance movement was primarily championed by women, and as such is even today looked back on as a “Women’s Issue”. This was due to alcoholism becoming a growing problem in the working classes, and alcoholism being directly correlated to domestic abuse. Success was limited at first, gaining support in a handful of rural religious communities, but the rising tide of the Progressive era brought the social reform of temperance with it. Bundled with the ideas of child labor laws and reform for women’s work, temperance was brought to center stage as a solution to the poor living conditions of the urban working class. Still, many cities were slow to take on legislature to ban alcohol, and none were slower than the “Liquor Center of America”(2), New York City.

It would be fair to say that New York City never truly accepted prohibition. Laws were passed, an amendment ratified, and even police task forces trained to enforce these laws, but the City of Immigrants never gave in. As mentioned before, every culture has alcohol, brought to New York by the immigrants who came seeking a new life. In a city as diverse and hard working as New York, drinking was the only the thing all the different ethnic and cultural groups had in common. Try as hard as they might, alcohol was something older than law itself, it wouldn’t be so easily taken away. Prominent leader and lobbyist of the Anti-Saloon League William Anderson came to New York, expecting a gritty ten to twenty year war of attrition against the city in an effort to bring Prohibition to the largest city in the country after having personally shut down half of the saloons in Philadelphia. Instead, it took five years for the 18th amendment to be ratified by 36 states, New York included(3). Anderson believed this was a victory he could retire on, not only had national Prohibition been achieved, but New York itself had supported it. What Anderson and many other teetotalers did not understand was that although state politicians had written a law, enforcing the law was a war of its own.

The United States government established the Bureau of Prohibition to fight this new war, a federal task force with the sole purpose of cracking down on illegal alcohol trade and manufacturing. It met moderate success, and brought down numerous large scale operations and speakeasies across the country. Unfortunately, in the early days of the Bureau, many agents hired on were not the veteran detectives of local departments, they were new hires and budgeting the Bureau was an unforeseen obstacle. As such, many of these new federal agents were undertrained, underpaid, and underprepared for the coming war with alcohol. One such anecdote is that of the Bornstein brothers, a duo who ran a warehouse that imported alcohol and distributed it to speakeasies and other businesses. One night, Agent George Golding investigated the warehouse, and found a truck full of liquor ready to be shipped. He questioned the two brothers, asking if they had the proper permit to allow such business. The brothers responded not only by saying they did not need one, but also said they were surprised any officer would come to their warehouse, on account of them paying off the majority of the department. They offered Golding a $200 bribe, and when he refused, they offered $20,000(4). The brothers were arrested, revealing that bribery was more than common practice, it was a business expense. Within the first year of the Bureau’s run in the state of New York, more than 100 of the 200 agents were dismissed and the State Director Frank Boyd resigned, saying that the job was “A hopeless and thankless task”(5)

As the Bureau reconsidered its methods and magistrates began to swelter under enormous piles of new criminal cases, “businesses” such as the Bornstein’s continued to grow. It would be this era of Prohibition, known as the “Roaring Twenties”, that the infamous Mafia would make a name for itself. Originating as Italian run shipping ports, these crime families had humble roots as numerous groups of Italian and Sicilian families who saw the opportunity that was presented to them(6). Many Italians that worked the docks had a strong tie to the homeland culture and poor relations with much of the WASP community, and so they banded together to establish smuggling rings that imported alcohol from foreign nations that had no such Prohibition laws. Already being prejudiced against by law enforcement, many of these “bravados” or in Sicilian, Mafia, had no moral qualms about opening and operating saloons and clubs across the city. It did not take long for the business to grow, and within a few years these speakeasies would make $5000 a week(7). Much to the chagrin of the dry crusaders, most neighborhoods in New York had no desire to change their lifestyles, and carried on as they always had. The only difference at this point in time was that rather than have the trucks drop the beer off in front of the restaurant, the men had different accents and pulled up around back.

Prohibition was falling apart at the seems. The nation was falling deeper and deeper in to depression, and crime across the board was on the rise. The only people that seemed to be making money, and it looked as though they were making more of it than before, were those in the alcohol business. From the lowest rum-peddler selling watered down beer out under a bridge, to Lucky Luciano running the East Coast mob, it seemed the only money that was changing hands was that going in to booze. This was bad enough on its own, but the nail in the coffin of Prohibition was the fact that the only market that was still turning a profit and making jobs, wasn’t paying any taxes. Before Prohibition, nearly 15% of the nation’s income came from alcohol(8). With that, the United States government was given two options. Spend money it didn’t have to hire an army of police officers to comb the nation for bathtub breweries and mob distilleries, or bury the 18th amendment and reinstate the alcohol tax. On February 20th, 1933, Congress proposed the Twenty First amendment, which would repeal the 18th. Within a year, the amendment was overwhelmingly ratified. On December 5th, 1933, Americans across the nation rose a glass to the death of Prohibition. In New York, they rose the entire bottle. Alcohol returned to the top shelf, and alcohol taxed money helped usher in a wave of infrastructure development and job creation that brought New York City out of the Great Depression, one bottle at a time.

Footnote Sourcing
1: “The Alcoholic Republic: Temperance in the United States.” The Journal of Presbyterian History (1997-) 81, no. 1 (2003): 61
2: Lerner, Michael A. Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City, Harvard University Press, 2009. Pg. 14
3: “PROHIBITION IN NEW YORK CITY.” Outlook (1893-1924) (Apr 28, 1920): 741.
4: Hamm, Richard F. “THE RADICAL PROHIBITION MOVEMENT AND THE LIQUOR INDUSTRY.” In Shaping the Eighteenth Amendment: Temperance Reform, Legal Culture, and the Polity, 1880-1920, 19-55. University of North Carolina Press, 1995. Pg 192
5: Lerner, Michael A. Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City, Harvard University Press, 2009. Pg. 71
6: Mangione, Jerre. La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience, New York, 1993. Pg 341.
7: Lerner, Michael A. Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City, Harvard University Press, 2009. Pg. 71
8: Rohs, Edward, and Judith Estrine. “New York City in the Nineteenth Century.” In Raised by the Church: Growing up in New York City’s Catholic Orphanages, 13-20. Fordham University Press, 2012. Pg 17

1. PRIZE PAPERS ON PRACTICAL QUESTIONS. (1890, 08). Belford’s Magazine (1888-1891), 5, 399. Retrieved from
a. Anti-prohibition piece that argues prohibition greatly restricts and infringes on constitutional freedom, and the right to a free market but banning the transportation and creation of alcohol, and how NYC and its commerce is hit hard.
2. “PROHIBITION IN NEW YORK CITY.” Outlook (1893-1924) (Apr 28, 1920): 741.
a. Pro—prohibition news article, saying prohibition has decreased number of injuries and ambulance calls in NYC
3. Case, G. L. (1889, 02). THE PROHIBITION PARTY: ITS ORIGIN, PURPOSE AND GROWTH. Magazine of Western History (1884-1891), 9, 373. Retrieved from
a. Newspaper article outlining with some details the creation of the temperance party and the foundation of the Prohibition movement, specifically New York. Article focuses on the meeting that would be the foundation for the entirety of the prohibition movement and the 18th amendment.
1. HAMM, RICHARD F. “THE RADICAL PROHIBITION MOVEMENT AND THE LIQUOR INDUSTRY.” In Shaping the Eighteenth Amendment: Temperance Reform, Legal Culture, and the Polity, 1880-1920, 19-55. University of North Carolina Press, 1995.
a. This book focuses on the relation between prohibition and its effect on industry and commerce. Although it does touch on the lives of people, it mostly focuses on the legal and social fight, and how it affected liquor and the industry tied to it.
2. “The Alcoholic Republic: Temperance in the United States.” The Journal of Presbyterian History (1997-) 81, no. 1 (2003): 60-63.
a. This journal is brief, but focuses on the religious aspect of the temperance movement, why it succeeded at first but eventually failed. It focuses on the religious heritage of the entire temperance fight as well as the historical significance.
3. Rohs, Edward, and Judith Estrine. “New York City in the Nineteenth Century.” In Raised by the Church: Growing up in New York City’s Catholic Orphanages, 13-20. Fordham University Press, 2012.
a. This book is focused on New York City as whole during the 1800’s, so although most of the book has minor relevance to the topic of prohibition, the last few chapters do address the rising temperance movement
4. Lerner, Michael A. Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City, Harvard University Press, 2009.
a. A book entirely on New York City during prohibition, it covers the beginning of the movement, the ratification of the amendment in the city, life during the 18th, and life during and after the repeal. It is my most invaluable tool during this assignment.
5. Mangione, Jerre. La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience, New York, 1993


The 18th Amendment banned the sale, transportation, and production of alcohol. This effectively prohibited the existence of alcohol in daily life in America. But by the letter of the law, ownership of alcohol was perfectly legal, so long as it was made pre-Prohibition and it wasn’t sold or moved elsewhere. This meant .

Lucky Luciano

At the end of a long, hard day in New York City, men and women from all races, countries, and classes treated themselves to a well-earned drink at their local bar. When all the bars shut down in January of 1920, all these people had no where to go, and more importantly, no where .


The United States government established the Bureau of Prohibition to fight this new war, a federal task force with the sole purpose of cracking down on illegal alcohol trade and manufacturing. It met moderate success, and brought down numerous large scale operations and speakeasies across the country. Unfortunately, in the early days of the Bureau, .


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles make for more than just a setting for a movie. If it moved, smugglers found a way to load it up with booze and bring it to market. Although plenty of trucks, trains, and people brought alcohol in to the city, it was hard to match the shipping industry .


Music, dancing, having a good time with friends and strangers alike. What’s not to love about a night out on the town, enjoying New York’s nightlife? It certainly didn’t hurt that Speakeasies were the best way to get a drink in a Dry America. Bars didn’t just undergo a name change with .


Prohibition didn’t just happen over night, so much as it was the result of decades of lobbying and fighting on a local and national level for the ban of alcohol. Starting in rural America and working its way in, the Temperance movement saw alcohol as the cause of most social issues that Progressives were .