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The Insider's Connection

Brooklyn

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

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

Seneca Village: New York’s First Black Property Owning Community

Whose perspectives represent a city’s story? Who gets to shape the public perception and legacy of a city’s communities? Which voices are left out when land, architecture, and public space are changed by the government? In 1824, the odds were stacked against the formation of free black communities in New York City. New York finally abolished slavery in 1827 (one of the last northern states to do so) but free black New Yorkers would still face systemic barriers that made social advancement nearly impossible.  Even after free black men could get jobs and own property here, they were barred from most skill-based trades. They couldn’t vote unless they had over $250 worth of property, which very few did. Black institutions were attacked constantly, and fugitive slaves were vulnerable to capture. Most of New York City’s population was settled downtown.  Meanwhile,…

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December 4, 2019

Battle of the Cakes: the Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Dessert-lovers across the world recognize the Brooklyn Blackout Cake, its decadent chocolate layers symbolic of a specific moment in history. But how many people know the story of that moment, or of Catherine and George Ebinger’s family business?  The Ebingers opened the famous Ebinger’s Bakery, between 4th and 5th Avenues on 86th Street in Bay Ridge, in 1898. In the second half of the 19th century, the German population was skyrocketing in New York. As German infrastructure and German-owned businesses appeared around the city, a German bakery like Ebinger’s would not have been an anomaly. In fact, brands like Entenmann’s, Holtermann’s, and Drake’s that you may recognize today got their starts as German family-owned bakeries in New York City. Ebinger’s sold over 200 varieties of German desserts, but during World War II, one specific menu item became an unexpected legend….

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September 9, 2019

The Secret Engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge: Emily Roebling

Who are the hidden women behind some of the iconic structures of New York? Who was the secret engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge? How many people–of the hundreds on the bridge at any moment on a summer afternoon–know the name Emily Warren Roebling? Every day, more than 150,000 commuters rely on the Brooklyn Bridge for…

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July 29, 2019

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