Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Book Project

I'm afraid I got sidetracked by a move to Poestenkill and a change of jobs. With my deepest apologies for the long gap in posting, here's my new blog project:

The Billiard Table Makers
The Victorian-era billiard business is an interesting chapter in the industrial history of Syracuse and New York State. I'm researching the billiard table makers – the artists and craftsmen who were also entrepreneurs and innovators, manufacturing a unique product that was both ornamental and functional. 

The plan is to write a book that will be an "industrial biography" of the Syracuse Billiard Table Makers.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Local Artisans on Artfire

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lansing Park

In the early 1930’s, William Yates Lansing purchased a half interest in the Chester G. Ham coal business, at the end of Central and Forbes Avenues, along the Hudson River in Rensselaer, NY.

Lansing acquired full control of the business two years later, and his coal, lumber and hardware business operated in Rensselaer for decades.

Lansing grew up on a farm in Glen, Montgomery County. From Lansing's biography in "Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, a History" (1925, pg. 120):

In addition to all his other interests, Mr. Lansing is a practical farmer. He never ceased to enjoy farm life and agricultural work, and not long after he came to Rensselaer, he purchased a small farm comprising several acres of the finest agricultural land in the county.

Lansing bought part of the old Van Rensselaer farm on the southerly side of Forbes Ave., where he had a large home with a pond for ducks and swans. Lansing also owned land across the street in the Little Farms neighborhood. At his “Gypsy Camp Farm”, Lansing bred White Holland turkeys and White Plymouth Rock chickens.

In the 1930’s, Lansing even raised and sold peacocks, which must have been quite a sight. From the Geneva Daily Times, June 1, 1936:

W. Yates Lansing, who owns a peacock farm near here, said today he believed it to be the only one of its kind in New York State. There are 31 peacocks, mallard ducks and two swans on the farm. Most of the peacocks are of the blue, or common type, but included in the flock are two white ones and two green birds, the latter imported from Java. Lansing said the birds are no more trouble to raise than turkeys.

W. Yates Lansing died in 1938, and the land south of Washington Ave. was subdivided to become Lansing Park in 1947. The streets are Hazel, William, and Wallace Terraces, and Farley Drive, which was formerly known as Lansing Drive. Hazel Terrace was likely named for Lansing’s second wife Hazel, but the origin of the other names is uncertain. Does anyone know more?

This is final part of the series: North End Park Neighborhoods (download this as a free PDF here)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"My River Chronicles" by Jessica DuLong

I was disappointed to miss the Waterford Tugboat Roundup this year (canceled due to Hurricane Irene). But this book more than made up for it - I highly recommend putting it on your holiday wish list.

My River Chronicles
Rediscovering America on the Hudson
Jessica DuLong

From the inside flap:

In 2001, journalist Jessica DuLong ditched her dot-com desk job for the diesel engines of a rusty antique fireboat, the John J. Harvey, and the storied waters of the Hudson River.