Subway Parties — Those Crazy Kids!

Apparently abandoned subway stations are the latest, edgiest place for a good party, and the NYPD is NOT AMUSED. According to ABC News:

Photos from an underground party held in an abandoned subway station surfaced on the New York news website Gothamist showing dozens of individuals watching dancers and listening to live music in an abandoned subway station.

Now, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the New York Police Department are investigating the photos.

“Trespassing in non-public areas … is a serious crime and has the potential to lead to injury,” the MTA said in a statement to ABC News. “This incident has been passed on to the NYPD for investigation.”

Of course, subway stations are not the only offbeat go-to venue for New York party planners. In May, the New York Times wrote about an illicit club in a Chelsea water tower – hit the roof, climb the ladder and in you go. Of course there were all sorts of sub rosa manuevers required to know where to go in the first place, but that was the charm.

Makes the days of the Studio 54 velvet rope seem sweet and quaint, doesn’t it?

(h/t: Actuarial Opinions)


On Reading Footnotes

I am an avid consumer of footnotes. As a wee thing, I distinctly remember devouring my mother’s paperback copy of Lady Antonia Fraser’s Mary, Queen of Scots and tearing the pages in flipping them back and forth to savor the footnotes and endnotes.

(In my defense, those pages were awfully thin. My mom also got mad at me for getting orange juice stains on the pages due to reading photo (7)at the breakfast table, but that’s another story.)

But if I was tiresome about footnotes as a child, I am absolutely insufferable about them now. Genealogy has made me a footnote connoisseur — scratch that,  an obsessive. An addict. It’s almost not healthy, the way I can ditch a well-crafted historical narrative in favor of a juicily detailed footnote. (For instance, Mary Beth Norton’s In The Devil’s Snare has Gorgeous.  Footnotes. It’s a groundbreaking study of the Salem witch trials, too, but whatever.)

My interest in genealogy has set me a certain standard for footnoting, and that’s generally a good thing. If you’re stuck in front of an ancestral brick wall, throw a book at it, is what I say. A well-researched, well-cited history set in your ancestor’s place of residence might well lead you to a key source you hadn’t thought of.

However, one bummer about my footnote fetish is how quickly it can ruin a book for me. For instance, I just bought an ebook-format biography — a recent, well-reviewed book about a personality I’d always found intriguing, and I was pretty excited to read it. But I quickly found myself getting frustrated at the frequency with which the author got hazy on biographical details that I thought would be fairly easy to clarify with decent genealogical research. Or if they couldn’t be clarified, I’d hope to see the attempt to do so.

My irritation bubbled over at a footnote that cited 1880 and 1900 census reports for a family group and went on to say: “Those for 1870 and 1890 either don’t remain or were never taken [for the town in question].”

Two things:

A. If you’re seriously researching a family and using census records, you should know there is no either/or about why there are no 1890 census returns. Even if you’re not a genealogist.

B. Of course there were 1870 census returns for the town in question, and I found the family there in about three minutes on Ancestry. (You knew I was going to do that, right?)

Now, maybe Point A was simply a case of fuzzy phrasing, but this sort of thing really wrecks a book’s street cred for me. I’m not citing the particular work or author because (1) I haven’t finished the book yet and (2) I haven’t the heart to single out one person in particular for something I see all the time.

But I do giggle a bit sometimes in contemplating the supposed gulf between historians and genealogists. Because the best ones on both sides of the aisle know the true value of what each side is doing, and use it to their advantage. And ours.


Resource Spotlight: NY Census Chart

Well, we did New Jersey last week; now it’s New York’s turn. This nice reference page comes courtesy of the New York State Library.

New York State Census Records

Having an anxious moment about whether there is a New York state census schedule for your ancestors’ county in a given year? Put down that brown paper bag you’re breathing into and click the link above. It’s a lovely, clear chart depicting each county and the years for which state censuses are available.

New York took censuses in 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915 and 1925. Many originals were destroyed in the devastating fire in 1911 at the State Library in Albany (alternately known as the Great Fire That Makes All Genealogists Cry). Some counties, however, kept their own copies, which is one reason why availability varies so much. This chart will prevent you from spending hours looking at, say, the 1892 census for Rensselaer County and wondering why none of your search terms are working. Not that this has ever happened to me.

Resource Spotlight provides a look at handy toolbox items I’ve bookmarked over the years.

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Underground Ghosts

In looking for background on my recent Subway Song post, I was surprised to discover just how many abandoned subway dreams left their mark upon the landscape — and not just New York City’s landscape, either.

A lot of these cases originated in enthusiastic plans for expanding subways after the end of World War I. Then the transit dreams evaporated for varying reasons — changes in political leadership, economic woes during the Depression, the automobile boom of the post-World War II era.

But many remnants of the dreams linger in unfinished lines or never-opened stations. And they’re catnip to a new generation of urban explorers who love chasing “ghost subways” wherever they may be found. Some examples: Cincinnati, or Rochester, or Toronto, or Berlin.

For those of us in the metro-NYC area, here are some additional ghostly subway links:


Hulk Cite!

Via weknowmemes.com:

the-credible-hulk


Resource Spotlight: NJ Census Questions

From New Horizons Genealogy:

Questions from each New Jersey state census

New Jersey took state censuses in 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905 and 1915. Not all are complete. In addition providing a handy reference for what was asked in each census, this page lists counties for which incomplete records exist.

Resource Spotlight provides a look at handy toolbox items I’ve bookmarked over the years.


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