That Day I Went Time Capsule Hunting in City College

As a lifelong Lower East Sider, there are swaths of northern Manhattan that were once undiscovered to me, like the 35-acre City College of New York campus in Hamilton Heights. I had read that the college’s Gothic revival buildings were filled with gargoyles and grotesques that evoke a “Noo Yawk” version of Oxbridge, where even Harry Potter might feel at home. It was long on my New York bucket list.

Recently, Untapped Cities was offered a glimpse into many of the secrets of the Hamilton Heights campus, including forgotten tunnels and bell towers. On a simmering weekday evening in July when students were out of session, we were greeted by the 138th Street and Amsterdam Avenue gate by 25-year-old Dalton Whiteside, a cheery City College alum and enthusiast, in a straw hat and snappy outfit that suggested he was a time traveler from another century.

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My featured piece for Lapham’s Quarterly, my favorite history magazine

The Little Mayors of the Lower East Side

My ninety-seven-year-old father Julius recently amazed me by describing how, when he was hungry during the Great Depression, he would get an occasional free slice of salami from Izzy Pinkowitz, the “official” mayor of East Broadway, who happened to own the Hebrew National sausage factory on his Lower East Side block. How official? “Back then it was official,” he answered, after finishing his favorite old-fashioned cookie, the chocolate-covered Mallomar. “Look into it if you are so curious. The old street mayors of New York would make a good story.”

Father knows best. It is a good story.

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My piece on how I found amazing polar archives in Ohio. Ohio?

How an Author Used the Polar Archives in Ohio to Write about an Antarctic Stowaway

A few months after I began to research The Stowaway, my narrative non-fiction book about the teen stowaway on Byrd’s first expedition, I thought I had enough material to write my book. In March of 2013, I had stumbled upon the story while researching the history of St. Stanislaus Church in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which is the first Polish Catholic church in all five boroughs of the Big Apple. The stowaway, William “Billy” Gawronski, and his family were parishioners there, and I located the records of Billy’s celebration by the church.

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