On January 1, 1892, a 15-year old Irish girl named Annie Moore became the first of the more than 12 million immigrants who would pass through the doors of the Ellis Island Immigration Station in its 62 years of operation. This small island off the New Jersey coast in the New York Harbor lies in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
Famed contralto Marian Anderson made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on January 7, 1955, as Ulrica in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera. She was the first African American to perform with the company.
On January 28, 1908, author and activist Julia Ward Howe, famous for her composition, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City.
On March 12, 1901, Andrew Carnegie, one of the world's foremost industrialists, offered the city of New York $5.2 million for the construction of 65 branch libraries. The Scottish immigrant's fortune eventually would establish many more libraries and charitable foundations.
On May 1, 1931, with the press of a ceremonial button in Washington, D.C., President Herbert Hoover turned on the lights of the Empire State Building External, officially opening the world’s tallest building located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street in downtown Manhattan. At 102 stories and 1,250 feet, the Empire State Building remained the world’s tallest for nearly forty years, until completion of the World Trade Center’s twin towers in 1970 and 1972. Yet, due to its bold Art Deco style and accumulated cultural cachet, the Empire State Building remains the beloved landmark of New York City’s skyline as well as a worldwide icon of urban modernity.
On May 4, 1626, Dutch colonist Peter Minuit arrived on the wooded island of Manhattan in present-day New York. Hired by the Dutch West India Company to oversee its trading and colonizing activities in the Hudson River region, Minuit is famous for purchasing Manhattan from resident Algonquin Indians for the equivalent of $24. The transaction was a mere formality, however, as the Dutch had already established the town of New Amsterdam at the southern end of the island.
The annual parade of "New York's Finest" was filmed on June 1, 1899, in Union Square. At the turn of the century, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) was still recovering from scandals and allegations of corruption that tarnished its reputation in the 1890s. Four years earlier, the New York State Senate created a committee to investigate the department.
On June 12, 1806, John A. Roebling, civil engineer and designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, was born in Muehlhausen, Prussia. The Brooklyn Bridge, Roebling's greatest achievement, spans the East River to connect Manhattan with Brooklyn. For nearly a decade after its completion, the bridge, with a main span of 1,595 feet, was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Steel wire cable, invented and manufactured by Roebling, made the structure possible.
The Statue of Liberty arrived at its permanent home at Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor on June 19, 1885, aboard the French frigate Isere. A gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, the 151-foot-tall statue was created to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. Designed by sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and officially titled Liberty Enlightening the World, the Statue of Liberty has symbolized freedom and democracy to the nation and to the world for over 120 years.
On July 19, 1848, the First Woman's Rights Convention began in Seneca Falls, New York. The idea of holding such a meeting had originated eight years earlier in London, England, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and other women delegates were barred from participating in the 1840 World Antislavery Convention.
On August 16, 1939, New York City's Hippodrome Theater closed its doors for the last time. Built in 1905 with a seating capacity of 5,200, for a time the Hippodrome was the largest and most successful theater in New York. The Hippodrome featured lavish spectacles complete with circus animals, diving horses, opulent sets, and 500-member choruses.
On September 5, 1882, some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City to participate in America's first Labor Day parade. After marching from City Hall to Union Square, the workers and their families gathered in Reservoir Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches. This first Labor Day celebration was initiated by Peter J. McGuire, a carpenter and labor union leader who a year earlier cofounded the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, a precursor of the American Federation of Labor.
Within hours of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Library of Congress staff began to call for and collect a vast array of original materials concerning the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, and the fate of United Airlines Flight 93 which crashed into the earth at Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The Saratoga campaign began on September 19, 1777. This first encounter between the British forces of General John Burgoyne and the American forces under General Horatio Gates is also known as the Battle of Freeman’s Farm. While the British forces were able to overrun the Americans on this day they suffered significant losses. Within weeks, Gates joined forces with American General Benedict Arnold to vanquish the redcoats at the Second Battle of Saratoga. On October 17, British General John Burgoyne surrendered his troops under the Convention of Saratoga, which provided for the return of his men to Great Britain on condition that they would not serve again in North America during the war. American victory at the Battles of Saratoga turned the tide of the war in the colonists favor and helped persuade the French to recognize American independence and provide military assistance outright.
On September 20, 1853, Elisah Graves Otis sold his first "hoist machines," or elevators, featuring an automatic safety brake that he had recently patented. His seemingly simple invention—guaranteed to stop a rising platform from falling if the ropes that held it broke—not only launched Otis' business, but made possible the development of passenger elevators and, with them, the modern high-rise building.
Cornell University welcomed its first 412 students to the rural campus overlooking Lake Cayuga in Ithaca, New York, on October 7, 1868. Cornell is one of the original institutions funded as a result of landmark federal legislation, the Morrill Act of 1862. Named for Vermont Congressman Justin Morrill, this legislation offered states grants in the form of federal lands proportional to their population to establish public institutions (colleges) in agriculture, mechanic arts (engineering), military science, and classical studies. Proceeds from the sale of these federal lands were meant to build and operate the new colleges.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of modern and contemporary art opened in New York City on October 21, 1959. Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the modern structure marked a bold departure from traditional museum design. Its exhibition space features a spiraling six-story ramp which encircles an open center space lit by a glass dome.
The Metropolitan Opera House (Met) in New York City, then located on Broadway at 39th Street in New York City, opened on October 22, 1883, with a performance of Charles Gounod's Faust, the tale of a German sorcerer who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge, power, youth, and love. The opera, although composed in French and based on Goethe's German poem, was sung on this occasion in Italian, the favored language of the Met's early management.
The Erie Canal opened on October 26, 1825, providing overland water transportation between the East Coast and the Great Lakes region. Under construction for eight years, the project was the vision of New York Governor DeWitt Clinton. He convinced the New York state legislature to commit $7 million to the construction of a 363-mile ditch, 40-feet wide and 4-feet deep. The canal flowed from Buffalo on the east coast of Lake Erie, through the mountains near the Mohawk Valley west of Troy, and terminated at the upper Hudson River at Albany. A tremendous success, the waterway accelerated settlement of the upper Midwest including the founding of hundreds of towns such as Clinton, in DeWitt County, Illinois.
The first in a series of eighty-five essays by "Publius," the pen name of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, appeared in the New York Independent Journal on October 27, 1787. "Publius" urged New Yorkers to support ratification of the Constitution approved by the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787.
The first subway train emerged from City Hall station on Thursday, October 27, 1904 at 2:35 p.m. after New York Mayor George B. McClellan's oratory at City Hall in honor of the opening of the New York City subway system.
The experimental Playwrights' Theater opened its first New York season on November 3, 1916, at 139 MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. The premiere featured three short plays: The Game, by journalist and social activist Louise Bryant; King Arthur's Socks, a comedy by Floyd Dell; and Bound East for Cardiff, a one-act play by then unknown playwright Eugene O'Neill.
On November 8, 1906, cameraman Fred A. Dobson began filming The Skyscrapers of New York atop an uncompleted skyscraper at Broadway and 12th Street. The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company melodrama tells the story of a construction foreman who fires a crew member for fighting leading the disgruntled employee to steal. The storyline weaves in and around actual construction of a New York skyscraper. A fascinating record of early twentieth-century building techniques, Skyscrapers captures brick masons in action, workers maneuvering a steel girder into place, and a group of men descending a crane line.
In the final hours of December 18, 1813, approximately midway through the War of 1812, some 500 British soldiers (regulars) as well as some 500 militia and Indians—crossed the Niagara River from Canada determined to seize Old Fort Niagara on the opposite shore in New York. By sunrise on December 19, the British were victorious and America's Niagara frontier lay open to attack.
On December 19, 1903, New Yorkers celebrated the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge, the second of three steel-frame suspension bridges to span the East River. Designed by Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel, it had taken over seven years to complete. Built to alleviate traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge and to provide a link between Manhattan and the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the 1,600-foot Williamsburg Bridge was the world's longest suspension bridge until the 1920s.
Radio City Music Hall opened to the public on December 27, 1932. Located in New York City's Rockefeller Center, this fabulous Art Deco theater is home to the The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a New York Christmas tradition since 1933, and to the women's precision dance team known as the "Rockettes."