Summary of New York

June 23, 2010

New York has many faces: opportunity, change, progress, history, unity, diversity, rural, and urban. I witnessed evidence of these throughout the trip. I come back from these trips filled with enthusiasm and ready to get the information out to my students. I can hardly wait to show students my photographs to spark their interest: the African Burial Ground, the Brooklyn Bridge, FDR’s homes, Teddy Roosevelt’s home, Cooperstown , the Erie Canal, Ellis Island, the William Seward home, the Bowling Green, Fort Ticonderoga, Saratoga, Ground Zero, the Tenement Museum, and Federal Hall, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, etc. I want to share the sounds of the city, the diversity of people, and the smells of China Town and Little Italy. Kenneth Jackson and Ed O’Donnell pointed out the multiple communities and the five boroughs of New York: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Harlem, Bronx, and Queens. They showed us the tolerance the city has for the variety of religions: Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Buddhists, and the toleration of the multiple ethnic groups: Italian, Chinese, Irish, Germans, English, and others that make up the great “melting-pot”. These groups have added variety to New York’s rich food, culture, and commerce. Everywhere we went we heard a variety of languages being spoken. Kenneth and Ed explained and showed us the constant changes these groups make in the different neighborhoods; how the culture in one neighboring community can be totally different from the blocks right next to it. Ed also explained that history has often taken the backseat to progress; many historical sites have been destroyed to make room for newer and bigger structures. Regardless of where we traveled the people were friendly and helpful; giving directions to the lost tourists and recommendations to the best restaurants. Traveling throughout the city on the subway was quite the experience; using the Metro Card allowed us to go just about everywhere within the five boroughs and it became clear it was the easiest and cheapest way to travel around the expansive city. I wasn’t surprised to hear that many New Yorkers don’t own cars. I felt very safe, even at night, traveling throughout the city; the police of New York have done a great job in making the city safer.
We saw so much on this trip. We visited many museums; each time taking with us new and valuable tools to use in the classroom; lesson plans, video conferencing, reenactments and access to their vast collections. We gained first hand experiences in the use of primary sources; the lock system on the Erie Canal, documents, photographs, and how to use artifacts. We learned about the progressive movements in human rights: womens’ suffrage, abolitionism, the Underground Railroad, and the United Nations, all of which have roots in New York. I could feel the determination of the ever changing city where people first came seeking a better life; first the Dutch and then the English established commerce on New York’s protected harbors. New York became an even larger partner with commerce when the Erie Canal connected the interior to the Atlantic Ocean; the cost of goods dropped by 90-95% after the canal was completed – making New York the great commerce connection for America. We also experienced upstate New York that was quiet and serene; the streets of Albany were practically empty in comparison – few cars and few people. There were small cafes and shops, and benches along the lakes and bays.
I have been honored to attend all four trips through the grant, and the amount of knowledge and firsthand experience I bring to the classroom are unmeasureable; I hope my students can sense the love of history I have and hope that some of my enthusiasm will rub off on them. I am so amazed at the ground we covered on this trip and I have a new appreciation for the “Big Apple”. This trip was memorable and will benefit my students immensely – Thank you.

I was so surprised to see how large Ft. Ticonderoga was – it’s huge!  I also came to realize its location was important, but not always effective.  Depending on who held the fort and which direction the attacks were coming, it was at times easier to defend the area from outside the fort.  To explain this to my students I will use the photos I accumulated to put together a power point.  I would also explain to them the time-line of the fort and the different nations that held the fort along the time line.  I was also surprised to see that the fort was built out of stone and rock; I had pictured the fort being built out of wood.  To see the layout of the land: the hills, the lakes, and the rivers, adds dimension to the battles that were fought around the fort and I hope to do that for my students via the photos and mapss.

Saratoga, the battle that turned the tide of war was also a vast arena.  I still have questions about the battles that took place there; I want to know how long the battles were and the history of the major players in the battles.  I am going to research this a bit more to clear up those questions – perhaps I’ll do my lesson plan on the event; this will help clear up those questions I have.  It think students would have a great time creating a board game of the battle itself, I know it would help clear things up for me.

Our final stop at Salty’s was supreme; the food and company was GREAT!

We saw so much today; so bear with me, the blog is rather lengthy. The Women’s Rights National Historic Park, in Seneca Falls, has traveling trunks for lease that includes replicated artifacts, videos, and books about the 5 women: Elizabeth Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, Mary Ann M’Clintock, and Jane Hunt, who start the Women’s suffrage movement and write the Document of Sentiment. The document included the grievances they believe women endured. The women received the support of many men in their campaign for rights; especially the right to vote. Most of these women had previously fought against slavery and realized they were practically slaves themselves. Frederick Douglas printed articles supporting their efforts in his newspaper. Amendment 19, giving women the right to vote, was added to the Constitution in 1920. Elizabeth Stanton’s father gifted a home with the promise she would make it suitable for her family. She did just that; she improved the home’s interior and exterior as well as having additions built. Her children, all 7, were home schooled for most of their education; the boys were sent to boarding school in their teens. Across from their home was a beautiful lake, I can picture the children playing there.

In Auburn we visited the William Seward home, more like a mansion, filled with many valuable pieces of furniture and articles! It was filled with original artifacts due to the family’s pack ratting over the generations. They had 5 children; 2 daughters, and 3 sons. Gus and William both fought in the Civil War and survived, and Fred helped his father in his political career. One daughter died very young, and Fannie died at age 21. Frances, Seward’s wife, died 2 years after his assassination attempt of a heart attack. Seward’s most noted accomplishment may be the purchase of Alaska for a mere $7.2 million. Not too far down the street was Harriet Tubman’s home. She was a slave in Maryland who married a free man; she was under constant threat of being sold by her overseer. She fled before being sold. She was considered the Moses of her people due to her multiple trips to the South to gather slaves and take them to freedom in the North. Lucretia Mott, an abolitionist in Auburn invites Harriett to meet the Sewards who gift her a 7 acre farm. She buys the adjoining land at an auction for $1,350; there she establishes the John Brown infirmary for the aging in her old brick home before building her home across from the property. She lived to be 93 or 95; quite an accomplishment for the time considering what she had been through. There is so much history here to teach our students; abolitionism, slave states v. free states, the songs they sang for directions on the Underground Railroad, what the Underground Railroad really was, the risks for people who helped slaves escape, the Fugitive Slave Laws, and how slaves were identified.

Our final destination was Rochester, NY, to ride the “Sam Patch” a tour boat that strolled along  a small section of the Erie Canal. The trip us forward and backward through a lock. It was different from what I pictured; I thought they would use the lock doors to let in or release the water. Instead there are large tunnels, tall enough to stand in below the lock that let water in and out of the lock. Transportation on the Erie Canal cut the time it took for products to come from the west and products could come from longer distances; this decreased the price of good dramatically, some 90-95%.  The Erie Canal opened up the market for goods from the west to the commercial city of New York.  Riding on the Erie Canal and experiencing the locks was amazing. The rise and fall of water levels allowed ships to travel some 300 miles.  I can now explain and show my students my photos and videos of the event.

COOPERSTOWN 6-13-10

June 13, 2010


I learned that those who live in Cooperstown believe that baseball was first played in their city and was invented by Abner Doubleday, a Civil War soldier.  There is no proof that Doubleday invented the game; the English claim invention of the game as well.  None of the artifacts in the National Baseball Hall of Fame are purchased; they are all donated.  The museum is a private, non-profit organization with over 36,000 artifacts and over 136,000 baseball cards.  There are 292 plaques of the inductees, with three more to be added this summer.  To be inducted as a player you had to play the game for 10 years and be retired for 5 years.  The Museum has a wonderful website as well as outreach programs where you can teleconference with their educators right on sight with the artifacts.  Students can ask questions and get immediate feedback.  Through baseball teachers can spark a student’s interest in a variety of subjects:  Women’s Rights, Civil Rights, Black History Month, Character Education, Economics, and Cultural Diversity, etc.  A Kodec system is required to do teleconferencing, and our district may have the equipment to loan out to the schools.

The most interesting information in the Fenimore Art Museum were the Magnum photos.  There were photos from many different time period that depicted struggles our country has been involved in.  Many of the photos could be used in the classroom as the different time periods occur in our curriculum.

Another tour we took was of the Farmers’ Museum; once a working farm for the Fenimore Cooper House.  It is a replica of a small village that may have existed in the mid 1800s.  People, in period dress costumes, gave us tours of their facilities:  Country Store, Morey Barn, Blacksmith Shop, Dr. Thrall’s Pharmacy, Pope Hop House, Bump Tavern, and many others.  Virtual tours like these would be a great teaching tool.  There is some information regarding the museum on their website – thefarmersmuseum.blogspot.com .

Morey Barn

Blacksmith Shop

Sagamore Hill 6-12-10

June 12, 2010

Today we left Brooklyn and visited Sagamore Hill, the summer home of Teddy Roosevelt.  The moment we walked in the house it was obviously Teddy’s; it had the head of a massive water buffalo mounted above the fireplace along with multiple other mounts.  Ivory tusks can be found throughout home with other rare items of his era:  an elephant foot trashcan, rhino foot inkwell, and animal hide rugs.  Teddy was an avid reader and he expected his children and even guests to be able to start a conversation at the dinner table regarding something that they read.  If the children couldn’t start a conversation at the dinner table they were sent to the kitchen to eat with the servants.  Teddy’s children were also expected to be on time for dinner.  Teddy hired immigrant women to work in the household; their rooms were on the 3rd floor; there was a seamstress, a cook, and someone to take care of the children.  After touring other sections of the Sagamore grounds it was evident they had many other servants to help in the stables, and gardens.  Teddy said that with wealth came responsiblity as well as priviledge.  He accomplished much in his terms as President of the United States; the Panama Canal, and the vast expansion of National Parks is what I will discuss with my students.  Teddy died on January 6, 1919 at the age of 60.

Teddy's Summer Home

We attended a class on how to use objects to teach history at the New York Historical Society. For example you could use the following item to ask: Who is in the sculpture? What is happening? During what time period was the sculpture made? What does it have to do with history? What laws existed regarding slaves? We also had access to some of their artifacts, some examples are: a chair of George Washington, a lottery drum, a footlocker of a soldier who invented the retractable tape measure, Civil War uniforms, etc. We were also given a huge packet of lesson plans regarding issues around slavery in the US.

After our visit at the Historical Society we took a self-guided tour of the Museum of Natural History. We located many items and photographs that reminded me of some of our traveling companions – what do you think?

Free Flight

Always has a Smile

Dressed for Success

Knows how to Shop for the Latest Styles

Zooming in for the Kill

I’m not really a Yankee fan, but it was fun to go to the game. One of the locals expressed his disappointment in the new stadium; but said new history would have to be made. We saw an example of this exact sort-of-thing; right in front of us a young man proposed to his girlfriend on the ticker board and presented her a ring right in front of us!  The new stadium seats 5-7K fewer people, but there’s not a bad seat in the stadium. THANKS AGAIN DONNA!

What Remains of the Old Yankee Stadium

New Yankee Stadium

This was a once in a lifetime opportunity – we took a tour of the hospital on Ellis Island; it is not yet renovated and we were required to wear hardhats. I visited Ellis Island about eight years ago and was curious about the area adjacent to the museum. I also was led to believe that all of Ellis Island was part of New Jersey, I was surprised to hear that the renovated museum belongs to New York. The rest of the island belongs to New Jersey and a group called “Save Ellis Island” is working close with the state to renovate and open sections of the New Jersey side. It would be nice to come back in 15-20 years and see what has been accomplished. I gained valuable information about new arrivals to the island and what happened to them if the failed the mental or physical exam! We were given bags of items, and had to guess who the items belonged to and what they were used for; then we were given a document that gave us additional clues – our items were a head mirror, and surgical tools, and our document was about procedures in an operating room; we learned that we were doctors! We were given a jump drive with all of this information and classroom activities and lesson plans we can use in our classrooms. After the amazing hardhat tour we visited the Ellis Island Museum where I may have located the arrival of a distant relative; I’ll have to do more research when I get home! We saw many artifacts and photos; showing what the new arrivals to America went through and the processes they endured. I was surprised to see the variety of groups that entered the country through Ellis Island just to travel further west to other states.
Some of us went to see the Statue of Liberty; it is somewhat disappointing that we couldn’t climb up into her crown (tickets can be obtained, but it takes 3-4 weeks for them to process your request and there is not guarantee). Lady Liberty is still breathtakingly beautiful! She stands so majestic.
Dana and I went to Liberty Point before heading back to the hotel. We saw the vast emptiness of where the Twin Towers once stood. New construction will take up the void. If you are interested in finding out more you can visit the following websites: WTCprogress.com, tributewtc.org, and national911memorial.org. This is an important event of American history that I want to share with my students.

Ready for the Hardhat Tour

Doctor's Quarters

Pouring Milk

Statue of Liberty

Liberty Point

Our third day of walking tours – I’m finally working out those age-old kinks! I’m buffing up and will be in prime condition for shorts for the remainder of the summer. I think I have crisscrossed New York City about a million times. Today was light walking in comparison to previous days – thank G! We toured China Town which has consumed most of Little Italy – in fact I’ve saw no evidence of Little Italy. In the 1880s the Lower East Side was filled with Italian and Jewish immigrants. In the 1920s the Immigrant Exclusion Act limited the numbers of immigrant flow and particular neighborhoods developed their own ethnic personalities. In 1965 American borders were again open to immigrants. On example of the changes that had taken place in the area is the school Alfred Smith attended. He is best known for giving money to those who needed assistance with no questions asked – fire etc. You can see by the picture, that even today, different languages are spoken: Chinese, Spanish, and English. We passed a cemetery in China Town where Jews and Revolutionary soldiers are buried.

I saw some of the strangest foods on the trip; different roots and spices sold in Chinese markets, the strangest however, was Jackfruit; a large spiny green puff ball. Speaking of food, I purchased the largest salami sandwich I have ever seen at Katz’s restaurant; it had enough salami on it for 10 sandwiches!

We visited the Tenement Museum before departing for the day. We saw refurbished tenement rooms. Each apartment had 3 rooms in 325 square feet; the apartments were built in 1863; store fronts were on the bottom level until the 1930s. Toilettes didn’t appear until 1905; so outhouses were used prior to that time. The area was once the Garment District and the clothing was produced in the tenement apartments. I can see myself using these as examples of how elements of different ethnic groups, coming together, change the personality of a region: languages, foods, religions, customs, and celebrations.

Alfred Smith's School

Jackfruit

Business on the Lower Level

This was my second time on The Brooklyn Bridge; the first time was a night when the bridge was lit.  I was much more alert to the sounds of the cars below and of bicycles beside us as we walked across.  There were few lights in the river, but  many lights along its shores and a glow from both sides:  New York proper and Brooklyn.  We also noticed Pier 17 bustling with activity.  During the daylight hours I noticed the amazing technology used to erect the bridge and the amount of work it must have been.  I can imagine the fascination people had with the bridge back in the 1840’s and how they must have felt when the unsure thing became a reality.   Much like the people then, we have used the bridge to travel to the city to work(tour) and for entertainment.  It is still highly used today.  The bridge gives me the opportunity to integrate math and to look at the amazing accomplishments made in America at this time and how it all fits into an era when other amazing achievements were being made.  We can discuss the role the bridge played and the importance it was to the two communities.

Central Park is VAST – you feel as if you enter a different world away from the chaos of the city; one that is tranquil and calming.  Ed explained that it was developed to give people space, with the loss of the beach front, people needed a place to escape the chaos of the city. He also explained the controversies: making the park so large and placement of roads through the park. Central Park may be the most expansive park in the US and today is maintained by a not-for-profit organization. After the park had fallen into the wrong hands and had been deglected and abused for many years, this non-profit group raised money to re-establish the park as a community getaway. The park is a designed park; much of the landscape serves no purpose other than it creates an atmosphere of “non-city”. It was designed by two men; Frederick Olmsted and Calver Vaux (pronounced vox). We visited the Swedish Cottage, the Belvedere Castle, and Strawberry Hill. There are many parks throughout the city, all MUCH smaller. I can think of several ways Central Park can be used in my classroom; planning out the placement of parks on a city grid, how to raise money for betterment of a community, and the purposes parks play in a community.


Today was humbling; the monument for the African descendents was beautiful and serene. In 1991, while excavating in preparation for new construction a skull was found. Nearly 450 remains were found, but there could be as many as 20,000 buried near the site – There is no record of who was buried at the site, but through analysis they have identified approximate ages, genders, and sometimes causes of death. Sometimes they found a mother and child buried together, the deceased were all buried facing the same direction, and many were buried in shrouds. The bodies were researched by scientists, predominantly Black, at Howard University. After careful examination the bodies were reintered and a ceremony was held. Slavery is taught on many levels; voting rights, property ownership, court cases, Underground Railroad, transfer of property in wills and later in history – The Civil Rights Movement. Making connections throughout history is important, and what occurred with free and enslaved Blacks in New York add depth to that connection. The photos taken also add an emotional element to the history that I believe students need to understand.

I learned about many new things while visiting Lower Manhattan – all of which add elements of interest to early American history. I learned that cast iron buildings were built in the 1840’s; this allowed for an increase in window size. The larger windows allowed for window shopping; especially for what became known as “ready to wear” clothing. Nearby was the Tweed Court House, one of the larger, older, and costlier buildings of New York. Boss Tweed was able to secure the funds in a variety of shady dealings. We also discussed the changes that have been made in building codes; the building can be built straight up but must be set further back from the curb, or the other option is to build closer to the curb but set upper floors further back (wedding cake style). Little tidbits about the street names are also very interesting: Wall St. named after the wall that bordered the original colony, Canal St. was named after the canal that drained a stinky pond, Bridge St. was named after the bridge that crossed the canal, and Pearl St. was named after the clam shells that lined the street (New Yorkers loved clams)! We viewed Hamilton’s grave located next to Trinity Church, one of the oldest existing institutions. Trinity Church went through many changes and was even rebuilt twice, once after a fire. We passed Frances Tavern where George Washington gave his farewell address, that ended up not being “farewell”. Another heart tugging movement was on entering St. Paul’s, a very simple church, where rescuers and survivors of 9/11 were taken. Photos of missing fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends lined display walls, along with trinkets, prayers, and letters. I can NOT begin to imagine what it must of been like for the people of New York! My students were just babies when this happened and is an important part of American history I hope is never repeated! I purchased photos that show how devastating the attack was. St. Paul’s has survived city fires and has gone through very little change during the decades, in fact George Washington’s pew is located there along with a pew for George Clinton. I plan on taking my photos along with these tidbits of information in the hopes to bring history alive in my classroom.