The Grand Gennaro
Belluscio, Steven Rutgers University Press, 2009 Library of Congress PS3523.A659G73 2009 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
An illiterate Calabrian in southern Italy owes money to his church and mayor. He skips town for the bustling streets of New York. Meeting an old friend, a fellow immigrant, he thanks him for help getting settled, and then steals his money. With a new parcel of wealth, he materializes from a small-time laborer into a big-time entrepreneur, soon becoming the tyrant of the local Italian American community. By pluck, luck, and unscrupulous business practices, this cunning character "makes America." There are riches, pleasure, and the beautiful Carmela. Then trouble. Comeuppance. Ambush. Revenge.Twenty-first century popular culture? Not at all.
The Grand Gennaro, a riveting saga set at the turn of the last century in Italian American Harlem, reflects on how youthful acts of cruelty and desperation follow many to the grave. A classic in the truest sense, this operatic narrative is alive once again, addressing the question: How does one become an "American"?
Times Square, in its heyday, expressed American culture in the moment of vivid change. A stellar group of critics and scholars examines this transitional moment in Inventing Times Square, a study of the development of New York's central entertainment district. A fascinating visit to Times Square, from its christening in 1905 to its eventual decline after the Depression, the book explores the colorful configuration of institutions and cultural practices that propelled Times Square from a local and regional entertainment center to a national cultural marketplace. Changes in the economy, in religion, in leisure culture, and in aesthetics gave birth to a geographical space that fostered Vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley, Flo Ziegfeld and Billy Rose, the spectacle of the Hippodrome and the bright lights of the Great White Way. Out of this same place eventually came national network radio and many Hollywood films. Though conceived as a public space, Times Square was quickly transformed into a commercial center. Power brokers wielded their influence on a public ready to succumb to consumerism. Theatrical entertainment became a large-scale national business based in, and operated out of, Times Square. A new commercial aesthetic travelled with Joseph Urban from Vienna to Times Square to Palm Beach, bringing to society a sophisticated style that will forever say "Broadway." Times Square as the "center of the universe" had its darker sides as well, for it was the testing ground for a new morality. The packaging of sexuality on the stage gave it legitimacy on the streets, as hotels and sidewalks became the province of female prostitution, male hustling, and pornography. At the center of New York City, Times Square's commercial activities gave full rein to urban appetites and fantasies, and challenged and defied the norms of behavior that prevailed elsewhere in the city. Cultural history at its finest, Inventing Times Square portrays the vibrant convergence of social and economic forces on Forty-second Street.
To combat behavior they viewed as sexually promiscuous, politically undesirable, or downright criminal, social activists in Progressive-era New York employed private investigators to uncover the roots of society’s problems. New York Undercover follows these investigators—often journalists or social workers with no training in surveillance—on their information-gathering visits to gambling parlors, brothels, and meetings of criminal gangs and radical political organizations.
Drawing on the hundreds of detailed reports that resulted from these missions, Jennifer Fronc reconstructs the process by which organizations like the National Civic Federation and the Committee of Fourteen generated the knowledge they needed to change urban conditions. This information, Fronc demonstrates, eventually empowered government regulators in the Progressive era and beyond, strengthening a federal state that grew increasingly repressive in the interest of pursuing a national security agenda. Revealing the central role of undercover investigation in both social change and the constitution of political authority, New York Undercover narrates previously untold chapters in the history of vice and the emergence of the modern surveillance state.
Who has ruled New York? Has power become more concentrated—or more widely and democratically dispersed—in American cities over the past one hundred years? How did New York come to have its modern physical and institutional shape? Focusing on the period when New York City was transformed from a nineteenth-century mercantile center to a modern metropolis, David C. Hammack offers an entirely new view of the history of power and public policy in the nation's largest urban community. Opening with a fresh and original interpretation of the metropolitan region's economic and social history between 1890 and 1910, Hammack goes on to show how various population groups used their economic, social, cultural, and political resources to shape the decisions that created the modern city. As New York grew in size and complexity, its economic and social interests were forced to compete and form alliances. No single group—not even the wealthy—was able to exercise continuing control of urban policy. Building on his account of this interplay among numerous elites, Hammack concludes with a new interpretation of the history of power in New York and other American cities between 1890 and 1950. This book makes a major contribution to the study of community power, of urban and regional history, and of public policy. And by taking the meaning and distribution of power as his theme, Hammack is able to reintegrate economic, social, and political history in a rich and comprehensive work. "Lucid, instructive, and discerning....The most commanding analysis of its subject that I know." —John M. Blum, professor of history, Yale University "A powerful and persuasive treatment of a marvelous subject." —Nelson W. Polsby, professor of political science, University of California, Berkeley
The "Puerto-Rican Problem" in Postwar New York City presents the first comprehensive examination of the emergence, evolution, and consequences of the “Puerto Rican problem” campaign and narrative in New York City from 1945 to 1960. This notion originated in an intense public campaign that arose in reaction to the entry of Puerto Rican migrants to the city after 1945. The “problem” narrative influenced their incorporation in New York City and other regions of the United States where they settled. The anti-Puerto Rican campaign led to the formulation of public policies by the governments of Puerto Rico and New York City seeking to ease their incorporation in the city. Notions intrinsic to this narrative later entered American academia (like the “culture of poverty”) and American popular culture (e.g., West Side Story), which reproduced many of the stereotypes associated with Puerto Ricans at that time and shaped the way in which Puerto Ricans were studied and perceived by Americans.
2017 American Book Award Winner from the Before Columbus Foundation
In 1911, a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City took the lives of 146 workers, most of them young immigrant women and girls. Their deaths galvanized a movement for social and economic justice then, but today’s laborers continue to battle dire working conditions. How can we bring the lessons of the Triangle fire back into practice today? For artist Ruth Sergel, the answer was to fuse art, activism, and collective memory to create a large-scale public commemoration that invites broad participation and incites civic engagement. See You in the Streets showcases her work.
It all began modestly in 2004 with Chalk, an invitation to all New Yorkers to remember the 146 victims of the fire by inscribing their names and ages in chalk in front of their former homes. This project inspired Sergel to found the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, a broad alliance of artists and activists, universities and unions—more than 250 partners nationwide—to mark the 2011 centennial of the infamous blaze. Putting the coalition together and figuring what to do and how to do it were not easy. This book provides a lively account of the unexpected partnerships, false steps, joyous collective actions, and sustainability of such large public works. Much more than an object lesson from the past, See You in the Streets offers an exuberant perspective on building a social art practice and doing public history through argument and agitation, creativity and celebration with an engaged public.
The story of the Civil Rights Movement typically begins with the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and culminates with the 1965 voting rights struggle in Selma. But as Martha Biondi shows, a grassroots struggle for racial equality in the urban North began a full ten years before the rise of the movement in the South. This story is an essential first chapter, not only to the southern movement that followed, but to the riots that erupted in northern and western cities just as the Civil Rights Movement was achieving major victories.
Biondi tells the story of African Americans who mobilized to make the war against fascism a launching pad for a postwar struggle against white supremacy at home. Rather than seeking integration in the abstract, Black New Yorkers demanded first-class citizenship—jobs for all, affordable housing, protection from police violence, access to higher education, and political representation. This powerful local push for economic and political equality met broad resistance, yet managed to win several landmark laws barring discrimination and segregation.
To Stand and Fight demonstrates how Black New Yorkers launched the modern civil rights struggle and left a rich legacy.