Spain’s Gift to Catholic New York

St. Peters c. 1785It is hard to imagine now but in the 18th century New York City and much of the rest of the thirteen British colonies of America, it was practically illegal to be a Roman Catholic. Widespread anti-Catholicism was a side effect of the Catholic-Protestant wars of 17th century Europe and the geo-political rivalries between the English Crown and the allied Franco Spanish Kingdoms for control of the Americas.

The anti-Catholic animosity &#8211 Leyenda Negra the Spanish called it &#8211 was ingrained into the psyche of the largely Protestant British immigrants who came to dominate North America in the wake of the arrival of the Pilgrims and other fundamentalists in the early 1600s. Read more

Sink or Swim? Post-Sandy Waterfront Restoration

Scape Studio. Plan for Oyster Reefs in NY Harbor

As people blow dry the mold from basement walls and vacuum Sandy from corners and carpets, city activists gathered in a forum sponsored by the Municipal Art Society and Columbia University’s Center for Urban Real Estate, called &#8220Sink or Swim: Waterfront Restoration in a Post-Sandy Era.&#8221
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Statue of Liberty Book Celebrates 125 Years

A new book written in celebration of the Statue of Liberty’s 125th birthday (October 28, 2011) has been published to support projects of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. The Statue of Liberty: A Symbol of Hope and Freedom for 125 Years, is a commemorative, photo-and-fact-filled journal that spans the statue’s beginnings as an idea of French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, to becoming a symbol of welcome to millions of immigrants, her quirky role in American pop culture, and the historic 1986 restoration.

The book is offered for $9.99 through the Ellis Island online gift shop. Proceeds support the The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers.

Ellis Island Museum Unveils New Galleries

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and the National Park Service have opened the first phase of the Peopling of America Center, a major expansion of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which will explore arrivals before the Ellis Island Era. This 10,000 square foot experience focuses on the history of immigration from the Colonial Era to the opening of Ellis Island in 1892.

Interpretative graphics and poignant audio stories tell first-hand accounts of the immigrant’s journey—from making the trip and arriving in the United States to their struggle and survival after they arrived and efforts to build communities and ultimately a nation.

“Until now, our exhibits have centered on the years when Ellis Island was open,” said Stephen A. Briganti, the Foundation’s President and CEO. “Of course the history of migration to America goes back to our nation’s beginnings right up to today, so there were many people whose stories weren’t told. The Peopling of America Center will fill an enormous gap in America’s understanding of its past, present, and future.”

Also recently unveiled was the American Flag of Faces, a large interactive video installation filled with a montage of images submitted by individuals of their families, their ancestors, or even themselves which illustrates the ever-changing American mosaic. A living exhibit, Flag of Faces accepts photo submissions and can also be viewed at

The Center’s second phase, which will open in Spring 2013, will present a series of interactive multi-media exhibits that focus on the immigration experience from the closing of Ellis Island in 1954 to the present day, including a dynamic radiant globe that illustrates migration patterns throughout human history. The Peopling of America Center was designed by ESI Design and fabricated by Hadley Exhibits, Inc.

New S. R. Stoddard Exhibit: New York Harbor

The Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls (Warren County) has opened a new exhibit of Seneca Ray Stoddard photographs featuring views of New York Harbor. Taken in the 1880s on his visits to New York City, the fifteen photographs include images of sailboats and steamers in the harbor, people bathing on the beach at Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge and other landmarks. A highlight is Stoddard’s famous night-time photo of the Statue of Liberty, captured using magnesium flash powder. The exhibit, planned to coincide with The Hyde Collection’s exhibit, &#8220NY, NY,&#8221 will be on view through September 4th.

The Chapman Historical Museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY. Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For more information call (518) 793-2826.

Photo: Coney Island bathers by Seneca Ray Stoddard, ca. 1880

Live Theater Returns to Ellis Island

Sing a Song of Freedom: The Story of Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty, a new play celebrating Lady Liberty’s 125th year, dramatizes how the writer’s poem “The New Colossus” transformed the beloved Statue into a symbol of welcome. The show opens at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum’s intimate Living Theater for a limited run beginning April 16 through Labor Day weekend. Written by playwright/director Ken Urban, the 30-minute play also features stories of immigration.

Produced and funded by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the show will be presented April 16 through June 27 on Monday and Wednesday through Saturday. Beginning June 28, the show will run Thursday through Monday. Show times are 10:45- 11:30- 12:15- 1:00- 2:30- 3:15- and 4:00. Admission is $6.00.

A gift from France to the American people, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated October 28, 1886. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Lee Iacocca to head up a private sector effort to restore the Statue of Liberty for her centennial. Fundraising began for the $87 million restoration under a public/private partnership between the National Park Service and The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., and on July 5, 1986 the newly restored Statue re-opened to the public during Liberty Weekend. The famous sonnet written by poet and essayist Emma Lazarus (shown here) in 1883 is engraved on a bronze plaque which has been affixed to the inner walls of the pedestal since the early 1900&#8242-s.

Ellis Island Living Theater performances, which are both educational and entertaining, are especially popular with students, scout troops, day campers, religious groups, senior clubs, and families. Reservations for Sing a Song of Freedom: The Story of Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty are accepted for groups of 10 or more. Since the theater seats 56 people, some groups may have to schedule multiple shows. Please note that the National Park Service, which administers Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, requires one chaperone for every ten children. Individuals without reservations are encouraged to purchase their tickets upon entering the museum.

For more information or to make reservations, contact The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation at 212-561-4500, ext. 0 or [email protected]. More on Sing a Song of Freedom: The Story of Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty can be found online.

For ferry tickets and schedules, call Statue Cruises at 1-877-LADY TIX or go online.

The Actors employed in this production are members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Ellis Island Museum Celebrates 20 Years

September marks the 20th anniversary of the historic restoration of Ellis Island and the opening of its Immigration Museum on September 10, 1990, which was funded by the American people through The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. This world class museum has quickly become one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City, welcoming over 35 million visitors to date.

Just half a mile from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, the museum’s exhibits highlight the growth of America during the peak immigration years of 1880-1924. The galleries illustrate the Ellis Island immigrant reception process, the immigrants’ arrival and settlement throughout the United States and feature their “Treasures From Home” – the cherished personal objects, photographs and papers they brought with them from their homelands. And the American Immigrant Wall of Honor celebrates the immigrant experience with the inscription of the names of over 700,000 individuals and families who have been honored by their descendants.

The Ellis Island Oral History Archive, created by the Foundation, contains the reminiscences of over 1700 individuals who either immigrated through or worked at Ellis Island during its heyday as the country’s largest immigration processing center. Excerpts from these oral histories are incorporated throughout the museum’s popular audio tour, which allows visitors to vividly relive the immigrant experience as if they were the &#8220new arrival.&#8221

The American Family Immigration History Center, which opened in 2001, offers easy access to the arrival records of more than 25 million immigrants, travelers and crewmembers who entered through the Port of New York and Ellis Island between 1892-1924, and is also available online at

The restoration of Ellis Island—the largest in U. S. history—began in 1984 as the second part of a multi-million dollar project by the Foundation, in partnership with the National Park Service/U.S. Department of the Interior, which included the Centennial restoration of the Statue of Liberty in 1986. All funds came from private donations, with more than 20 million Americans contributing to the cause.

The Museum is currently undergoing a $20 million expansion to be called The Peopling of America Center. Designed by ESI Design, this exciting new Center will enlarge the story currently told of the Ellis Island Era (1892-1954) to include the entire panorama of the American immigration experience, with exhibits dedicated to those who arrived before Ellis as well as those who arrived after it closed, right up to the present. “The Foundation is proud of what it has accomplished over the last 28 years with the support of the American people in raising over $550 million for the ongoing restoration and preservation of these two most beloved monuments to freedom and opportunity,” said Stephen A. Briganti, President and CEO of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. “With the Peopling of America Center scheduled to open in 2012, we will bring the ever-growing story of the populating of America to life, making the Ellis Island Museum both more relevant and a truly living testament to this Nation of Immigrants.”

For more information on the Ellis Island Immigration Museum visit

Staten Island: Old U.S. Gypsum Plant to Host LUMEN Festival

Staten Island’s once abandoned waterfront will be hosting LUMEN, a cutting-edge video art festival on the site of the Atlantic Salt Company, presented by COAHSI, the Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island. This raw, magnificent, old, beautiful, decaying space, originally opened in 1876 as a plaster mill. In 1924, the building was bought by United States Gypsum, a plant that made wallboard and paint. The gypsum plant employed Staten Islanders for 52 years, before closing in 1976. Now owned by the Atlantic Salt Company, the 10-acre property is a depot for road de-icing salt for New York State, New Jersey, and Connecticut.&#8221

It’s that grungy, creepy, abandoned feeling that keeps people coming to industrial sites like Atlantic Salt, but normally these spaces are off-limits. Now’s your chance to see the space — without breaking any laws. The site will be open to the public for LUMEN, Saturday, June 26, 4pm-12am. The LUMEN Festival will showcase amazing contemporary video/projection and performance art both outside and onto the space. Atlantic Salt is right on the waterfront, so get ready for views of NYC and NJ, plus up-close views of the many tugboats & container ships that float up and down the Arthur Kill.

The festival will include performances throughout the day, raffles featuring artists’ work, as well as an open bar sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery from 9pm-11pm. Participating artists and collectives include: Alex Villar, Alix Pearlstein, Scott Peel, Lena Thuring, Grace Exhibition Space, Flux Factory, and Steven Lapcevic, among many others. For a complete listing of all participating artists, visit: Atlantic Salt is located at 561 Richmond Terrace, a 10-minute walk or bus ride from the Staten Island Ferry.

LUMEN will be free of charge and open to the public. Contributions are welcome at LUMEN’s Kickstarter page.


The mission of COAHSI is to cultivate a sustainable and diverse cultural community for the people of Staten Island by: 1) making the arts accessible to every member of the community- 2) supporting and building recognition for artistic achievement- 3) providing artists, arts educators, and organizations technical, financial, and social resources to encourage the creation of new work. COAHSI does extensive outreach to communities that are underserved geographically, ethnically, and economically. The organization works hard to impact the arts across all borders.

Discovering NY Harbor: The Gateway to America

Celebrating the historic and cultural significance of New York Harbor, the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy (Harbor Conservancy) and National Park Service kick-off their summer harbor tours aboard New York Waterway ferries with their Gateway to America cruise, an audio tour that is narrated by actress Kathleen Turner and brings 400 years of New York Harbor’s extraordinary past to life. The boat tour runs five times daily leaving from Slip 5 at the Battery Maritime Building.

Gateway to America is in its sixth season. The boat tour experience offers visitors the opportunity to see the city from a new vantage point &#8211 from the water while learning about the role New York Harbor played and continues to play as the gateway to America for millions of people.

Gateway to America is the only official tour of the National Park Service that ties together all five interpretative themes of the national parks that ring New York Harbor- commerce, military defense, immigration, birth of the nation and harbor ecology. &#8220The tour itinerary weaves together the rich tapestry of New York harbor’s history &#8211 from its first settlement by Native Americans through the tragic events of 9/11, and it offers new insights about the unique geographical and environmental features that made the harbor our nation’s most valuable commercial asset throughout four centuries,&#8221 according to Harbor Conservancy President, Marie Salerno.

Produced by Antenna Audio in the style of a public radio broadcast, Gateway to America is introduced by David Rockefeller, Jr. a co-founder of the Harbor Conservancy and whose family was instrumental in preserving open space through the National Park Service. The Gateway to America tour was the first harbor boat tour to present recorded audio commentary by National Park Service Rangers. Prominent experts like Columbia University professor, historian and editor of the Encyclopedia of New York, Kenneth T. Jackson- Daniel Libeskind, who emigrated to New York from communist Poland as a teenager and became one of the world’s leading architects- Pulitzer-Prize winning author David McCullough- and world-class swimmer Nancy Steadman Martin, (who battled the currents to swim the 28-mile circuit around Manhattan) also provide engaging remarks and insights.

Gateway to America tells stories of the five military forts, now historic icons that protected the city from invasion. The tour illuminates the harbor’s role as the portal to the American dream for generations of immigrants &#8211 including those newcomers who are still shaping the city’s future. Passengers hear sounds, special effects and original music that bring to life the drama of the thriving commercial port.

This 60-minute tour is offered daily beginning Apr. 4 &#8211 May 31 at 11am, 12:30pm, 2pm, and Jun. 1 &#8211 Sep. 30 at 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, departing from the Slip 5 in the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan, located next to the Staten Island Ferry. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Harbor Conservancy’s new ticket booth at Castle Clinton in Battery Park. Prices are: Adults: $18, Seniors (62+): $16, Children: $14, Children under 3: Free.

For more information about other affordable boat and walking tours created by the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy visit:

Call For Proposals For Maritime Environments Conference

Continued concerns over depleted fish stocks, piracy, changing climate, global shipping policies, and the safety of merchant mariners and port communities have all recently converged to remind scholars, policy makers, and citizens alike that we ignore our relationships to the marine world at our peril. More than just recent phenomena, however, each of these ties between human society and the marine environment has deep historical roots. The event will be held May 12-16, 2010 at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point and Mystic Seaport.

Under the theme &#8220Maritime Environments,&#8221 the 2010 annual meeting of the North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH), the Council of American Maritime Museums (CAMM), the National Maritime History Society (NMHS), and The Steamship Historical Society of America (SSHSA) seeks papers exploring the scholarly contexts of these contemporary crises in the world’s oceans.

All interested scholars, especially historians, marine environmental historians, museum professionals, archaeologists, historical ecologists, and graduate students are invited to submit proposals for papers examining the &#8220maritime&#8221 environment.

The Conference Call defines the terms &#8220Maritime&#8221 and &#8220Environments&#8221 broadly to include the widest range of human relationships to the sea. How have human labor practices affected ties between human communities and natural resources? How and where did humans experience the oceanic realm and how did those sites frame experiences? What economic, defense, commercial, and foreign policy initiatives drive human efforts
in the maritime environment? And, of particular interest, how have human actions affected the world’s oceans, and what can historical records tell us about the changing health of the fisheries, climate, or other natural forces? Finally, how do scholars convey these lessons to a larger public?

Individual papers are welcome, but full sessions with three papers and a chair are preferred. Proposals should include a brief abstract of 500 words for each paper, plus a one-page abstract for proposed panels, and a brief bio of 200 words for each participant, including chairs. Graduate students are strongly encouraged to submit
proposals for presentations. Accommodations for PowerPoint presentations
will be provided- however, any other requirements, including audio-visual equipment, special outlets, or accommodations for disabilities should be included in the proposal. Scholars interested in chairing sessions are welcome to send a brief bio to the Program Committee Co-chairs. Please note that all participants must register for
the conference.

Specific questions may be directed to Program Committee Co-Chairs, Matthew McKenzie ([email protected]), Brian Payne ([email protected]), or Vic Mastone ([email protected]).

The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2010.

Photo: 1904. Erie Canal at Salina Street, Syracuse, New York.&#8221 Detroit Publishing Company glass negative, Library of Congress.