Friday, May 3, 2019

The Growth of Railroads in the Capital District

Charting the history and explosive growth in this area through a chronological series of maps...

visit page >

Historic Map Overlays

What a great way to compare yesteryear history with today: Historic Map Overlays!

-Click on any map visit the page with the interactive map overlay-

Jersey City Rail Yards - Then and Now

Newport, NJ, now a a white-collar corporate enclave of high rises, chain stores and franchise restaurants was born on the ashes of former massive railroad yards. It’s a fascinating story of decline and revival...

Mystery Ruins

Unraveling the mysteries of a forgotten trolley bridge...
scroll to bottom of linked page

Sacandaga - Before and After

Flood On The Tracks - Last Days of the Gloversville And Northville. This interactive overlay  is  art of the Flood on the Tracks Presentation

Historic Maps (part one)

Old maps are fascinating... you can learn so much form them. Here are a few to enjoy...

1776 Map - New York

Provinces of New York, and New Jersey; with part of "Pensilvania" (note the early Dutch spelling)
Link to map

1895 - N.Y. land grants, patents, purchases 

David Rumsey Map Collection. Link to map 

1856 Greene County Map

Before the trains... before the Kaaterskill Hotel... the Catskill Mountain House and the twisting stagecoach road to get up there... Link to Map

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Hammond Organ

Ya gotta love Wikipedia -This is fascinating!!

Hammond Organ

The Hammond organ was, invented by Laurens Hammond and John M. Hanert and first manufactured in 1935. Hammond organs generated sound by creating an electric current from rotating a metal tonewheel near an electromagnetic pickup.
  • Hammond was inspired to create the tonewheel or "phonic wheel" by listening to the moving gears of his electric clocks and the tones produced by them.
  • For all its subsequent success with professional musicians, the original company did not target its products at that market, principally because Hammond did not think enough money was in it. 
  • The Hammond Organ Company produced an estimated two million instruments in its lifetime; these have been described as "probably the most successful electronic organs ever made".

Battle of the Organs!

In 1936, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint claiming that the Hammond Company made "false and misleading". Auditory tests that pitted a Hammond costing about $2600 against a $75,000 Skinner pipe organ in the University of Chicago Rockefeller Chapel.[During the auditory tests, sustained tones and excerpts from musical works were played on the electric and pipe organs while a group of musicians and laymen attempted to distinguish between the instruments.

Early customers of the Hammond included Albert Schweitzer, Henry Ford, Eleanor Roosevelt and George Gershwin.

Read about the shortened pedal board, waterfall key, harmonic percussion and the FTC tests!

Tone Wheels

A tonewheel or tone wheel is a simple electromechanical apparatus for generating electric musical notes in electromechanical organ instrument. Details on the mechanics/electronics the make it work:

Laurens Hammond

Laurens Hammond (1895 – 1973), was an American engineer and inventor. His inventions include, most famously, the Hammond organ, the Hammond clock, and the world's first polyphonic musical synthesizer, the Novachord.

His first patent, in 1912, was for a barometer that could sell for one dollar. In 1922, heinvented the Teleview system of shutter glasses in association with 3-D films. Hammond's work on the synchronous motor led him in 1928 to set up the Hammond Clock Company, with six workers, above a grocery store in Chicago. Demand was high and the business soon grew into a large factory. He was responsible for a number of other inventions, such as an electric bridge table.

During World War II, Hammond helped design guided missile control systems, light-sensing devices for bomb guidance, glide-bomb controls, and a new type of gyroscope. The glide bomb was the forerunner of today's guided missile. During his life he held 110 patents!
See also The Forgotten Genius of Laurens Hammond

About the Telharmonium

  • The Telharmonium (also known as the Dynamophone) was an early electrical organ, developed by Thaddeus Cahill circa 1896 and patented way back in 1897… It weighed almost 200 tons! 
  • Performances in New York City (some at "Telharmonic Hall"-39th and Broadway) were well received by the public in 1906, and the performer would sit at a console (see picture) to control the instrument. 
Telharmonium - 1897
  • The actual mechanism of the instrument itself was so large it occupied an entire room — wires from the controlling console were fed discreetly through holes in the floor of an auditorium into the instrument room itself, which was housed in the basement beneath the concert hall.

Friday, January 11, 2019

New York State Breweries

Throughout the last decade, the consumption of craft beer has grown to be a part of New York State's culture.

  • The number of farm-based craft beverage manufacturers in New York continues to soar — with 433 new ones all across the state since 2012.
  • There are now 715 farm wineries, distilleries, cideries and breweries in New York State.
  • That includes 72 farm-based craft beverage manufactures in the Southern Tier, 106 in the Mid-Hudson Valley, and 149 in the Finger Lakes region.
  • New York now also has 42 farm cideries, 123 farm distilleries, 202 farm breweries and 348 farm wineries.
  • The industry, fueled by consumer interest in home-grown alcohol, has benefitted in New York from loosened regulations and new incentives.
  • New York ranks fourth in the nation for the number of wineries; third for the number of breweries; second for the number of craft distilleries and first in the U.S. for the number of hard-cider producers, the state said.  Source (bullet points)

Interactive Bar Chart

Brew New York
Interactive map >

Hudson Valley Magazine (March 2018)
New York Sate Breweries by County >

List of breweries in New York

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Muslims in America

Did You Know?

Islam has long been part of the tapestry of American identity; the first Muslims were brought here as slaves in the 16th century, many from West Africa. In the New World, 10 to 20 percent of slaves were Muslim, according to scholars.

The first wave of Muslim immigrants in modern history began in the late 1800s; mostly from the Levant, they sought economic opportunities and settled largely in the Midwest. The first mosque was in North Dakota.

Where do they live?

Muslims in the United States are a racially and ethnically diverse group—and a growing one, despite a recent rise in anti-Muslim hostility. From dozens of different countries and representing multiple branches of their faith, Muslims now total about 3.45 million people, or one percent of the U.S. population.
Muslims in America 
With roots dating back to the 16th century, the Muslim population is currently growing faster in suburbs than in cities, especially in southern and western regions. There are now more than 2,100 mosques in the U.S., up from 962 in 1994.

Source Files and Further Info

Saturday, January 5, 2019

How Slavery Expanded Across the United States

By the 1860s, the U.S. had an economic system that kept nearly 4 million people in bondage. Interestingly, a Coast Survey map created and compiled from the 1860 census depicted the percentage of the population enslaved in each county. Abraham Lincoln consulted it throughout the Civil War.
1861 Coast Survey Map
Wikimedia Commons

Slave labor was integral to the plantation economy of the south and of course cotton was one of its main products

The slave population  grew in intensity in places around the Chesapeake Bay, even as slavery was gradually abolished in the North. But for the most part the slave population spread westward to the lands opened for settlement by the Louisiana Purchase, the dispossession of the Indian nations of the Southeast, the war with Mexico, and the distribution of public lands. Slavery spread rather than grew because it was an agricultural rather than industrial form of capitalism, so it needed new lands.

The unceasing spread of slavery provoked political crises, eventually leading to the Civil War. As Abraham Lincoln put it in is 1858 "House Divided" speech:
"Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South."