Showing posts with label New York City. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York City. Show all posts

Saturday, April 29, 2017

NERGC 2017 Last day

My last day of #NERGC2017 featured a New York City double-header. First: Susan Miller's 8:30 session on "NYC Municipal Archives." Susan offered a virtual tour of the many valuable records available at the archives, including some (like the Almshouse Records) not well-known but useful.

I scribbled lots of notes on my syllabus page! Top tip: Remember that NYC became a five-borough city only in 1898, and Bronx County wasn't formed till 1914 (before, it was part of NY County, meaning lumped with Manhattan).

Next, Jane Wilcox's session on "New York Gateway," all about immigration, emigration, and migration to and through New York, city and state. Not records, but really interesting historical context about who came when and where, also why.

Top tip: consider how ancestors got from point A to point B. Hubby's Bentley ancestors, for instance, were in Oswego in the 1800s but wound up in Indiana. How? I need to look at waterways, which many used to go to the midwest.

Thank you to the NERGC volunteers and committee and speakers! And a safe trip home to my gen blogger friends, whose company I enjoyed.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over, Week 7: Digitizing Maps and More

Old maps have dates and memories that add richness and detail to my genealogy research.
In week 7 of the Do-Over, I'm digitizing the maps that have been passed down in my family because they're clues to my ancestors' daily lives and some of the places they lived and visited--places that were meaningful to them and to me.

My grandparents on both sides (Schwartz, Farkas, Mahler, Burk) settled in New York City. They never owned a car but they and their children and grandchildren knew the subway and bus routes very, very well.

My in-laws (Wood, McClure) liked to drive to New York City from their home in Cleveland to visit family, see Broadway shows, etc. My father-in-law also saved state maps that were given away by gas stations, including old maps for Indiana, Ohio, and beyond.

Above, part of the family's collection of New York City transit and street maps. The Hagstrom's maps are the oldest, and the World's Fair maps are the youngest (just 50 years old!). All being photographed and inventoried as part of Week 7 in the Do-Over.
PS: The Do-Over participants explained how to add my blog's name to photographs I post. Thank you!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Time Travel: 1946, When Mom & Dad Married


In November, 1946, my mother (Daisy Schwartz) married my father (Harold Burk). They're shown in this wedding photo, seated together in the front row among my father's family (including his brother, Sidney Burk, standing at far right).

Apart from this being the year after WWII ended--and my father and uncle were now out of the Army--what was life like for them in 1946?
  • Baby boom and housing shortage. Returning soldiers (like Dad), sailors, and Marines wanted to settle down with a family and a place of their own, but high birth rates and high demand for housing quickly led to a shortage. Mom and Dad started looking for an apartment as soon as they got engaged (New Year's Day, 1946) and within a few weeks it was clear that they'd have to wait till November to get married, to allow enough time to find a place. My suspicion is that they also needed to save money for the wedding and honeymoon. After all, Dad only got out of the service in October, 1945 and set himself up in business later that fall. The continuing shortage proved a challenge when Mom became pregnant in mid-1949 and they needed more room than their basement apartment in Queens provided. Ultimately they moved to the apartment building where Dad's mother, brother, and sister lived in the north-east Bronx.
  • Broadway and Hollywood were thriving. Being native New Yorkers, my parents loved Broadway and saw shows while engaged and then after marriage. Which ones? I don't know too many specifics, but in 1946, they had lots of what are now considered classics from which to choose: Life with Father, Oklahoma, The Glass Menagerie, and Carousel. No wonder my parents would occasionally break out into tune (or my father would whistle) some of the show tunes from their younger days. Mom was an avid movie-goer, too, as letters written to her indicate. Among the movies that year were The Best Years of Our Lives, The Virginian, and Hitchcock's Notorious. Certainly they went to neighborhood theaters, which were posher then than now, but possibly also went to Radio City Music Hall for song/dance and movies too.
  • Nuremberg trials continued. Since Dad and Uncle Sidney both served in Europe, they no doubt followed news of the Nazi trials in Nuremberg. Growing up, our family friends included a couple who had numbers tattooed on their arms from their time in concentration camps. The war was over, but the aftermath was real and close to home.
  • New York City was growing and optimism ruled. Mayor O'Dwyer brought Robert Moses in to head city construction projects; Moses was part of the team that negotiated to bring the UN World Headquarters to Manhattan. Earlier, he had created Jones Beach on Long Island, where many NYers went (and still go) for fun in the sun; he also masterminded many of the main highways and some bridges that connect the boroughs. New York was on an upward path and many residents, including my parents, were excited about the possibilities of living and working in the city.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Those Places Thursday: When the NYC Skyline Went Dark in 1965

Browsing through a book on New York Deco, I saw photos of the Chanin Building, located at 122 E. 42nd Street in New York City, opposite Grand Central Station.

Instantly it brought back vivid memories of the Great Northeastern Blackout of November 9-10, 1965--the one that left most of the Northeastern US and Canada in complete darkness overnight and into the next day. As a young teen, I was already home from school on that Tuesday, when the blackout hit during evening rush hour. Electricity was out and there was no way of knowing when it would return. We had battery-powered transistor radios and soon found out what had happened.

My mother was just finishing her work day on the 22nd floor of the Chanin Building when the power went out. Unless she walked down all the way to the street level and then hitched a ride from the middle of Manhattan to the northeast tip of the Bronx, she wasn't going to be able to get home that night. She didn't know then how lucky she was: If she had left 15 minutes earlier and gotten on a subway train for the hour-long ride home, she would have spent the night in a darkened subway tunnel awaiting the return of electricity.

For two teen twins and our younger sister, it was the start of a one-of-a-kind tame adventure. We were home, safe, in our apartment overlooking the Dyre Avenue subway line in the Bronx. In fact, because the outage happened when dusk was fast arriving, we could easily see that there were NO lights on the New York City skyline. This was a most unusual and memorable sight, to say the least.

Still, the phones worked, the gas stove and oven worked, so we could (and did) cook and play games by candle light and using flashlights. But Mom was stuck in the Chanin Building for the duration of the blackout. As it turned out, the lights came on about 13 hours later.

Mom had to wait her turn to call us, since the law office where she worked had only 1 or 2 phone lines. She called as soon as she could, before dinner, to check on us, and reassure us that she was OK. She called again later in the evening and told us that the people in the office had pooled their money to order from a sandwich shop down on street level, paying about $10 each for a sandwich that would have cost $2 or $3 on any other night. Of course the delivery guy had to walk up 22 floors to reach his customers, and then down again, so I understand why the shop raised its prices on blackout night, even though Mom fumed at the price gouging. That night she slept (poorly) on chairs pulled together to make a kind of bed.

At least Mom knew we were responsible teens and she didn't have to worry much about our safety, since we were already home. We kids were in a great mood, calling all our friends to yak endlessly about the blackout and ask whose parents were stuck where. My memory is that we even invited a friend to come over, and at some point she arrived (probably the next morning after the subways started running). I don't think there was school on Wednesday, Nov. 10th, and the day after that was Veteran's Day, which may have helped get things back to normal. 

Reports say that this was a peaceful blackout, with New Yorkers treating each other civilly and offering assistance where possible. My mother was tired but happy to be home when the lights came on and she could ride home on the subway. And I still remember the night of no lights in the New York City skyline. Very spooky.