It is surprising that the Bureau’s found insufficient historic value in the information it collected on the person whose decision to publish secret documents led to an unprecedented federal injunction to stop a newspaper from publishing an article and a Supreme Court decision that, to quote Sulzberger’s obituary, “established the primacy of a free press in the face of a government’s insistence on secrecy.”(2)
The editors have subtitled this volume Scandals, Tragedies and Triumphs. They’ve sorted the columns into these three categories. But many of the best of the columns can be better described as dealing with either small-town life or the violence of New York in the 1960s.
Up until the turn of the twentieth century, the story of American beer production was largely set in New York City. This is the story told at Beer Here: Brewing New York’s Beer History, a newly opened exhibition at the New-York Historical Society, on view through September 2. Consider two local American beer giants of the recent past: Schaefer and Rheingold. Both companies were founded by German immigrants in the nineteenth century and enjoyed nearly a century of national brand recognition thanks to Mad Men-era jingles touting them respectively as, “My beer is Rheingold, the dry beer!” and, “The one beer to have when you’re having more than one.”
Prostitutes were at one point working out of numbers 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16 Delancey Street. The sale of alcohol was outlawed on Sundays, yet nearly every bar or saloon had side and rear entrances. Casinos catered to both low- and high-end customers. And the police profited from nearly all of this illicit business. Big Bill Devery, when appointed captain of the notorious Eleventh Precinct on today’s Lower East Side, charged madams a $500 “initiation fee” and $50 in monthly protection money.(1)
If the story author Anne Sebba tells in her new book, That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, is true, then the story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor that has been passed down is very much a myth. The story Sebba tells is more like this: an emotionally and morally stunted prince, who never wanted to be king, and becomes a poor one, becomes so obsessed with a woman who—although she enjoys his attention, the jewelry, and the lifestyle—he essentially corners into marriage.(7)
Francesconi went to Russia first in 1989 (and twice again in years following), when the government was falling apart, to try to find material he could borrow for the opening of the museum.
“It was a little tense,” he said, “You didn’t know who was in charge from one day to the next. And the museums were scared to death, and I was more scared than they were.”
There was one thing in particular Francesconi wanted to see.
“At one point , Francesconi said, “I said, ‘Do you have his Bible?’ And she said, ‘Bible?’ and I said, Yes, the one he took to Niagara Falls.”
Two memos from the president's special assistant from March, 1962 show he urged Kennedy to support a group of buyers that would cut out David Karr, "who was once a communist" from taking over the New York newspaper (which would have been a "calamity").
Divided and conquered: Museum of the City of New York reveals how lines on paper created the Manhattan we inhabit
At the exhibit’s center is one of the three original copies of the nearly nine-foot-long map of the Commissioners’ Plan, its size and detail a measure of the ambition it represented. Generations of canny politicians, imperious real-estate developers, and visionary architects have tried to implement changes or carve out exceptions to its rule, yet the Manhattan this map depicts is recognizable to us today: a somewhat claustrophobic, undifferentiated mass of right angles that cedes almost nothing to topography or the human need for variety.
The question of sensitivity is an interesting one, and surely it is worth debating. But this nuance is lost on those who wish to demonize Muslim Americans as disloyal potential terrorists. It is a style of attack that, sadly, is utterly in keeping with what Richard Hofstader called the "paranoid" style of American politics.