Earlier this month, Boom Technology announced that United Airlines planned to purchase its Overture supersonic airliner, which they hope to bring into service by the end of the decade. If successful, it will begin the first supersonic passenger service since the retirement of Concorde in 2003. Though a monumental engineering achievement, Concorde was always a star-crossed money-loser, facing technical challenges, high operating costs, and local opposition to its ear-splitting noise. This program will look at the airplane’s development, its controversial arrival in New York in 1977, its 26 years of New York service, and its return to the city as a part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Hosted by Andrew Gustafson, he will also show some of his collection of Concorde memorabilia, gathered mostly by his father on 60+ lifetime flights.
Built on the footprint of the piers and warehouses of the historic Bush Terminal, Bush Terminal Park provided much-needed green space and waterfront access to the Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood when it opened in 2014. Join us for a virtual walk through the 22-acre park, which offers remnants of the site’s maritime and manufacturing history, unique engineered tide pools and a wild-growing forest, and unparalleled views of the harbor and skyline.
The formal education of Black New Yorkers began with the Manumission Society’s African Free Schools, which first opened in 1787. Though the city was at the forefront of Black education, it would take decades to break down barriers to higher education, and schools, students, teachers, and benefactors were under threat of racial violence. This virtual program will examine the early history of Black schools in the city and neighboring Brooklyn, and the impact the evolving political discourse – and violence – around slavery had on them. This discussion will be hosted not in New York, but near the small town of Canaan, New Hampshire, which was the site of a horrific act of racial violence in 1835: the destruction of the Noyes Academy, the first racially-integrated college preparatory school in the country.
Join us for a special panel discussion and virtual tour of Staten Island’s landmark Olmsted-Beil House, an historic farmhouse and museum where landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted began his monumental career. While Central Park, Prospect Park, and countless other parks across America display Olmsted’s genius, beginning in 1848, this farmstead is where he developed his professional interest in landscape design. Here he learned horticulture, experimented with different plants and landscape forms, and wrote about his travels to public parks in Europe. On this program, we will explore the property grounds with historian and Friends of the Olmsted-Beil House board member Patricia Salmon, and we will be joined by Justin Martin, author of Olmsted biography Genius of Place.
As we approach New York City’s primary elections on June 22, housing, as always, is a key issue on the ballot. So we are looking back at the history of social housing in New York – not just the city’s vast NYCHA public housing system, but also other forms of government and philanthropic intervention that have tried to tame the beast of unsafe, unsanitary, and unaffordable housing over the past 100+ years. This program will look at examples of model housing designed by social reformers, landmark cooperatives built by labor unions and community groups, the rise of public housing beginning in the 1930s, and public subsidies for private developments. This wide-ranging examination will take us from the Home and Tower Buildings to the First Houses, from Stuy-Town to the housing lottery.
On May 22, 1819, Savannah departed its namesake harbor bound for Liverpool on the first transoceanic voyage by a steamship. The mark this historic event, each year we celebrate National Maritime Day to recognize the contributions of the maritime industry and country’s working waterfront. Join us for a an evening of nautical trivia, about New York Harbor and beyond, from the 18th century to the present day. Presented by our maritime mavens Stefan D-W and Andrew Gustafson, we will also be joined by some special waterfront guests.
Running from the Canadian border to Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River cuts through the heart of New England. And for a period of about 40 years, a concerted effort was made to turn the rather wild and narrow river into a transportation superhighway to rival the Hudson. Between 1792 and 1835, seven canals were built to circumvent rapids, with the dream of making the river navigable as far as Barnet, Vermont, 280 miles from the Sound. In this virtual program, Andrew Gustafson, who has paddled most of the river by canoe, will trace the history of engineering and navigation, why the effort ultimately failed, and where this disused infrastructure can still be seen today.
Maps hold the power to organize and explain the world beyond what we can observe with our own eyes, making them extremely powerful political tools. Maps that express a geopolitical vision of how the world works (or should work) have been hugely influential in shaping military strategy, international relations, and public opinion. In this virtual program, our resident political geographer and cartographer Andrew Gustafson will give a crash course on the history of geopolitics as a discipline, using examples of these influential geopolitical imaginings from the past 150 years, from Halford Mackinder’s Heartland to Ronald Reagan’s Chokepoints; Karl Haushofer’s Pan-Regions to George W. Bush’s Axis of Evil.
April 26 is Frederick Law Olmsted’s birthday, and for his 199th, the National Association of Olmsted Parks is kicking off a yearlong celebration as we approach his bicentennial in 2022. The first event is a panel discussion of Rebecca Messner’s 2011 documentary Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks (which prominently features Prospect Park) with TIME Magazine’s Justin Worland; Dr. Thaisa Way, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington; Happy Haynes, Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation; and Justin DiBerardinis, Director of Philadelphia’s FDR Park. When you sign up for the free panel discussion, you will receive a link to watch the documentary for free at your convenience on April 24 or 25.
To learn more about the bicentennial campaign honoring and exploring Frederick Law Olmsted, please visit www.olmsted200.org, and we will be posting special events related to Olmsted’s life and work in New York in the coming weeks.
On April 26, 1956 an oil tanker customized to carry standardized metal crates left Port Newark, NJ for Houston, TX, marking the first commercially successful containerized shipment. Over the next 30 years, containerized cargo would come to dominate the shipping industry and create a new global economy. Marc Levinson, author of The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, joins us to share the story of the shipping container and how it changed the world.