Tag: Ellis Island

  • So Why Is Staten Island a Part of New York, Anyway?

    There’s an exciting, quirky story from the earliest days of colonial New York that goes like this: In the 1670s, New York and New Jersey were arguing over control of Staten Island, which lay in the waters separating the two colonies. The Duke of York offered to settle the argument with an unusual proposition: Any “small island” in […]


    Millions of immigrants came through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954, but who was the first? A couple of years ago, after researching records from the Netherlands, scholars at the Dominican Studies Institute at CUNY City College identified the first immigrant to New York City. His name was Juan Rodriguez, a sailor turned merchant who […]

  • The Visitor is Tired and Poor

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A lonely dwarf, a wisecracking Cuban-American, and a grieving mother walk into each other’s lives, laugh together, cry together, and heal each other’s emotional wounds. Cue Sundance prizes, Miramax pickup, glowing reviews, and surprisingly robust indie box-office. The movie is The Station Agent, and it was the […]

  • These Boots Were Made for Bird Feet

    Chances are your feet are at least a half size bigger than your mother’s. According to an informal survey of her customers, Edith Machinist, of the vintage store Edith and Daha, has found that women’s feet are almost always a half to a full size too big to cram into Mom’s awesome boots from the […]

  • Celebrations

    From birth to death, life presents a series of culinary challenges. Burying dear old dad was a snap, compared to finding a place for the wake. The chosen site provoked a row among the survivors, which included vegans, anti-cholesterol freaks, Atkins acolytes, folks keeping kosher or halal, and others who were just plain peevish about […]

  • A City Unmasked

    Witches celebrate the holiday of Samhain—Halloween’s ancient European forerunner, a rural New Year’s festival—as a portal to the shadowy zone between our living world and the afterlife, where energy more easily responds to one’s intent and anyone or anything can be transformed. Christopher Penczak, New England-based author of the 2001 City Magick: Urban Rituals, Spells, […]

  • War at the Door

    The Circle Line boat that ferries tourists to Ellis Island slows to a crawl as it passes the Statue of Liberty, giving passengers plenty of time to train their video cameras on that beloved beacon of bounty to those old huddled masses. The engine churns, the water sprays, and the looming green lady grows larger […]

  • East Side Story

    It’s not about knishes, chow fun, cuchifritos, or cannoli. There’s no paean to pushcarts, no elegy to Ellis Island. Indeed, The Secret History of the Lower East Side steers clear of those simple, sentimental signifiers of scrappy immigrants hell-bent on uplift. The three playlets and the vignettes between them that make up the two-and-a-half-hour performance […]