This city I take for granted

I work in Lower Manhattan. I have a job that happens to be located down there, so there I go. Whenever one goes to the same place every day, the trip is done by rote – it’s automatic.  A while back it began to dawn on me how fortunate I was to be working in an area filled with history significant to people around the world – indeed, tourists are abound, taking snapshots of these historic locations, trying to create enduring memories of their trip to New York City.

Spending a lifetime living in New York City has a way of desensitizing one to the vast quantity of famous places all around us. Much conversation has taken place among native New Yorkers about how irritating it can be with all of “these tourists” overflowing “our” streets, wont to stop on a dime to take a picture of  some building or statue.

To name just a few of the world-famous locations I see on a daily basis, I pass the World Trade Center, the Trump Building, the “Charging Bull”, Federal Hall (location of the first inauguration of George Washington (along with the statue of him outside the building),  Trinity Church (which includes the grave of Alexander Hamilton), the New York Stock Exchange, and so many more.

I might be in the minority here, but sometimes I wish I were there when Wall Street had a wall, when Canal Street had a canal, and when Beaver Street had, errr, beavers? Whenever I am lost in such reverie, I try to remind myself that indoor plumbing, brushing teeth, regular bathing, garbage collection, and sewers weren’t standard in many of these times.

As usual, I digress. It’s often so easy to get used to things that we see all the time. I imagine it’s a natural progression. We may not look up at the tall buildings, towering well above our grasp. We may not look down at the ground where battles were fought and rights were won. The familiar loses its majesty.

Sometimes it’s important to break from your routine, and open your eyes to the history and beauty around us.


Site of the Week: Rag Linen

Rag Linen

I’ve only discovered this site recently, but have been absolutely thrilled with it so far. In lieu of explaining the function of the site, I’ll paste it from their page:

Rag Linen is an online museum and educational archive of rare and historic printed newspapers, which serve as the first drafts of history and the critical primary source material for historians, authors and teachers. The collection also features some notable periodicals, documents, broadsides and books.

Before 1870, newspapers were printed on a heavy-duty paper made by pulping linen rags, often from clothes or ship sails. Thanks to the durability of rag linen paper and Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, history’s most important events from the 15th through the 19th centuries are often well preserved in printed form. The historic accounts printed within the pages of these newspapers and periodicals come to life in the Rag Linen blog.

With historic newspapers you’ll travel back in time to read reports from the Late Middle Ages, the European Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment. You’ll learn about the evolution of the British Empire and the settling of the first American colonies. You’ll understand the pain and suffering from countless European and American wars, including these major conflicts:

* The Eighty Years’ War (1566-1648)
* The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648)
* The English Civil Wars (1642-1651)
* King Philip’s War (1675-1676)
* The War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748)
* The French and Indian War (1756-1763)
* The American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
* The War of 1812 (1812-1815)
* The American Civil War (1861-1865)

Old English

I love this site! I love seeing the firsthand documents from pivotal events in our country’s history, complete with the S that looks like some sort of F (picture above, explanation here). One of the coolest things I’ve found on Rag Linen so far is the original correspondence between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, and the subsequent articles written after Hamilton’s death.

Benjamin Franklin Printing

Also, as an avid fan of the American Revolutionary period, seeing things that were printed by Benjamin Franklin is just awesome.


This week’s site: Rag Linen