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The Insider's Connection

Asian American History in NYC: A Quick Walking Tour!

Anyone walking through Chinatown and Lower Manhattan can feel the Asian-American presence and influence on New York City’s culture. Bet let’s get specific! What are the figures, monuments, and locations that represent these communities’ histories? Stop #1: Bayard Street, between Baxter and Mulberry What you’re looking for: A bronze statue on a granite pedestal What…

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June 4, 2021

The Legacy of Emma Lazarus in New York

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. – Emma Lazarus The New Colossus, a poem by Emma Lazarus, is engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty. But this inscription, immortalizing her words, was created sixteen years after the poet died in 1887. Her life in New York…

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May 24, 2021

Celebrating Haitian Heritage Month

May is Haitian Heritage Month, an opportunity to participate in Haitian culture and traditions, wherever you are. Does your hometown celebrate Haitian Heritage in May? The first-ever recognition of Haitian Heritage Month in the US was in Boston in 1998. Since then, the celebrations have continued to expand; now, the festivities honoring Haitian culture are…

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May 17, 2021

Kalpana Chawla: the First Woman of Indian origin to go to Space

Kalpana Chawla spent her whole life chasing her dreams of being an astronaut. In 1997, she made history as the first woman of Indian origin to go to Space. Kalpana Chawla created opportunities, shattered glass ceilings, and spearheaded groundbreaking research for NASA. It’s the 1960s, and it’s uncommon for women and girls in Karnal, India…

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May 14, 2021

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo: the Battle of Puebla in 1862

  Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more widely in the United States than in Mexico! The holiday–commemorating an 1862 battle where an underdog group of 2,000 indigenous Mexicans defeated 6,000 French invader troops, against all odds, in the city of Puebla–gained popularity in the USA in the 1960s when Chicano activists encouraged public Cinco de…

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May 7, 2021

Jane Jacobs and the Future of Architecture and City Planning

What influences the character and development of a New York City neighborhood? Who decides which voices are heard in the face of urban renewal and expansion? How did one woman’s love for New York City empower communities and shift the future of architecture and city planning? After a costly war and an economic collapse, mid-20th…

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April 30, 2021

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell: First Woman in American History to Receive a Medical Degree

How do local leaders arise from a community need? Which doctors have shaped the history of public health in New York City? How did Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell go from abject poverty and social mockery to founding her very own hospital? Elizabeth Blackwell was the third of nine children, born in Bristol, England to a Quaker…

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April 23, 2021

Influential Voice in Music & Culture: Marian Anderson

Who are the most influential voices in music and culture? Whose stories have shaped New York City legacies? How did Marian Anderson make history with resilience and a great singing voice? Marian Anderson was born in 1897 in Philadelphia. Her mother worked in childcare and her father sold coal and ice – both were devout…

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April 16, 2021

Off-Broadway Producer Ellen Stewart and the La MaMa Theater

When the risk was high and the funding was non-exist, who made space for experimental art in New York City? How did a young black woman, designing clothes at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Lord & Taylor become the first off-off Broadway producer to be inducted into the Broadway Theatre Hall of Fame? How…

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April 5, 2021

Elizabeth Milbank Anderson’s Infrastructural Changes in NYC

Whose influence shapes a city’s infrastructure? How have solutions emerged from tragedies throughout history? How did one wealthy woman touch the lives of thousands of poor children? Why does she receive so little credit? Is her story important to tell? In 1884, 34-year-old Elizabeth Milbank Anderson inherited a massive fortune. Her dad–Jeremiah Milbank–co-founded the Borden Condensed Milk Company and built his wealth further as a railroad investor. Elizabeth was well-educated, born and raised in New York City, and married to a successful portrait artist. Elizabeth lost her only son to diphtheria in 1886 and subsequently dedicated her life–and fortune–to ensure no one else would have to suffer this tragedy. But parents were losing their children every day in New York City. In the 1890s, the tuberculosis epidemic was rising. Children were dying of whooping cough, dysentery, measles, and diphtheria. Even…

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February 17, 2020

Maritcha Lyons: Racial Equality Activism and Shaping the NYC Public School System

How did one woman’s lifelong fight for racial equality shape the New York City school system? How might growing up around activism inspire a young person to create change? How many people have heard the name Maritcha Remond Lyons? Maritcha Lyons was Albro and Mary Lyons‘ third child, born into a free black community in Lower Manhattan on May 23, 1848. Maritcha’s parents ran a sailors’ clothing store to cover their work as conductors on the Underground Railroad; the fight for freedom and racial justice underscored Maritcha’s entire childhood. Maritcha was ill a lot as a child, but she was always eager to get an education. Maritcha attended Manhattan’s Colored School #3. In the summer of 1863, 5 days of racial violence ensued. The Draft Riots, ultimately targeting free black New Yorkers, made the Lyons’ home on Vandewater Street one…

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January 13, 2020

The Disappearing and Reappearing Lenin Statue

Whose decisions impact New York City’s skyline? Does a recognizable statue at the intersection of art, politics, and architecture change meaning when moved from its intended location? What story does your building tell? In the 1980s, the USSR commissioned a statue of Russian dictator Vladmir Lenin. The statue was meant to be a tribute to…

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January 6, 2020

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