Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Woodchuck Sunning


The annual game dinner at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Chicago was a nationally-renowned event in the late nineteenth century. Featuring every conceivable species of game, there were dishes like ham of black bear, leg of elk, loin of moose, and buffalo tongue. Small forest animals appeared on the menu as broiled rabbit and ragout of squirrel à la Francaise. Dozens of roasted fowl were at hand, including Blue-billed Widgeons, Red-winged Starlings, and “Sand Peeps,” which could have been any one of the tiny sandpipers that once flitted along in large numbers on the North American beaches. Ornamental dishes with fanciful names like “The Coon at Home” and “Woodchuck Sunning” completed the yearly spectacle.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Liberty Enlightening the World

New York City, 

The 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty in 2011 was celebrated with the issuance of a “forever” stamp. The new stamp turned out to be an embarrassment when it was later discovered that it was based on the half-size replica that stands in front of the New York-New York Casino in Las Vegas. Despite the mistake, the U.S. Post Office decided to stick with the design, explaining, “We still love the stamp design and would have selected this photograph anyway…Our track record is excellent for this as far as we’re concerned.”

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dante’s Pullman

New York City, 
ca. 1935

The three-story townhouse at 59 Charles Street in Greenwich Village is much the same as it was when it was built in the late 1860s. When the home was sold in 1967, the New York Times reported that the previous owner, Miss Emma Gerdes,  lived in the house for eighty-two years.1 She moved there with her family in 1884 when she was eight years old and stayed long after her brothers moved away and her parents died. All the while, she kept the house almost exactly the same, slowly turning it into a time capsule. According to Times, there had been a few small changes—the large metal chandelier hanging from the hand-painted ceiling in the parlor was converted from gas to electricity, and the stairwell received new wallpaper in 1923. Recent owners have confined most of their home improvements to systems hidden inside the walls, such as plumbing, electrical systems, and air conditioning. Given its seemingly well-documented history, it was surprising to learn something about this building that had been long forgotten. A menu revealed that it once housed an Italian restaurant.