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(Courtesy of New York Public Library)

Happy Easter!

Wishing a happy and healthy Easter to you and your families. Although the COVID-19 pandemic might curtail your normal holiday traditions, I hope that you’re observing them in different and creative ways. 

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Coping with COVID-19

Like many people across the United States, my wife and I have been practicing social distancing and self-isolation since the COVID-19 pandemic began several weeks ago. This marks my fifth week and her fourth week working remotely. We leave our house as little as possible. We miss sitting in our favorite neighborhood cafe. We miss…

(Courtesy of New York Public Library)

Sapientia: Another Blog

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, my office has been working remotely and we postponed a promising calendar of events. Prompted by social distancing and self-isolation, we’re developing novel content to virtually reach audiences. We’re still learning what works and what we realistically might accomplish. One experiment is our new blog, Sapientia.

Charles Burchfield, March Sunlight, 1926-1933. 
(Courtesy of Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University)

Charles Burchfield: Nature & the City

A Christmas or two ago, my wife gave me a copy of Blistering Visions: Charles E. Burchfield’s Sublime American Landscape, a catalog accompanying a 2016 exhibition commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Burchfield Penny Art Center in Buffalo, New York.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Celebrate safe and smart. While social distancing, stream Irish music or read a piece of Irish literature. Enjoy a sliver of soda bread and a pint of Guinness in the comfort of your own living room.

The private library of J.P. Morgan, Morgan Library & Museum (Photograph by author)

A Booklover’s Paradise

My friend and I enjoyed a recent Friday evening at the Morgan Library & Museum. We approached our visit with a seriousness and devotion associated with a religious pilgrimage.

The Metropole: New Writing

The Metropole, the official blog of the Urban History Association, recently published a post by me. The blog features scholars and writers approaching urban history from a variety of disciplines and viewpoints. My piece details how I first learned about the former 111 1st Street arts community in Jersey City, New Jersey and how I…

Art exhibit at Casa Colombo--one organization which might benefit from an arts trust (Photgraph by author)

Jersey City Funding the Arts? Maybe

Recently, the Jersey City council approved a ballot referendum for creating an arts trust fund in Jersey City. The proposal would dedicate permanent revenue for local arts and culture organizations. A small additional property tax would collect an estimated $800,000 to $1,000,000 per year–all for the arts.

Happy Presidents’ Day

Happy Presidents’ Day! Take a moment to read a biography or watch a documentary on your favorite president this holiday.  You don’t need to restrict your intellectual curiosity to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. American presidential history is full of complicated, contradictory, compelling, and even admirable figures. Discover one.  

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Star Wars on Your Radio Dial

Last October, I moderated “Jedi & Jesuits,” a whip-smart panel discussing the philosophical, religious, and spiritual underpinnings of the Stars Wars universe. A fun night!

George Biddle, The New York Public Library (1920). Painting hanging in the Salomon Room in the New York Public Library. (Photograph by author)

Dyspeptic Observations

During the past year, I have experienced the luxury of conducting research at the New York Public Library, one of the world’s great collections. When I need a break from my work, I wander through the library’s halls, marveling at the architecture, the art, the exhibits–the sheer wonder of the institution.

(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

2020 Predictions: We Need Some Milk

Last year, I appeared on We Need Some Milk, a sometimes irreverent podcast exploring local politics with a focus on New Jersey and Massachusetts. The hosts invited me back to participate in the program’s first episode in 2020.

(Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

My Fordham Conversation Continues

Discussing the contours of Jersey City history and politics isn’t easy. In fact, Robin Shannon’s and my extended sit-down for Fordham Conversations, a weekly program on WFUV (90.7 FM), resulted in two full episodes. You can hear Part 2 here.

Bar Car Night in the Garden

Shortly before Christmas, my friend and I rode the train from Grand Central Station to the Bronx for an event at the New York Botanical Garden. On select weekend evenings throughout the holiday season, the Garden presents a festive program anchored by the popular Holiday Train Show—Bar Car Nights. Guests can enjoy performers, food trucks,…

(Courtesy of Little Miss Celebration)

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year’s Day! Hope that you’re sharing the day among loved ones or enjoying your own New Year’s tradition.

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My Fordham Conversation: Part 1

Recently, Robin Shannon invited me to join her on Fordham Conversations, a weekly program on WFUV (90.7 FM). We chatted about Jersey City, artists, regional history, gentrification, and my book, Left Bank of the Hudson.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! This year, I have found the Christmas season especially magical. Maybe it’s because I shared a few days with an old friend. Maybe it’s because I’ve been listening to Christmas music non-stop. Maybe it’s because my wife and I watched Savannah bedecking itself for the holiday on our recent trip. Enjoy the day…

Need More Star Wars?

This past October, I had the privilege of moderating a whip-smart panel exploring the spiritual and religious influences and underpinnings of the Star Wars universe. We had a great time talking about favorite characters and stories and the larger questions examined in the saga. (I can’t believe this is my job!) Enjoy the conversation. Don’t…

A Few Days in Savannah

Knowing our shared passion for “old things,” trusted friends long have suggested that my wife and I visit Savannah, Georgia. During this past Thanksgiving weekend, we finally followed their advice. We were not disappointed. Instead of flying, we traveled to the Hostess City of the South on the Amtrak Silver Meteor line. The train ride…

All Aboard: Newark to Savannah

Increasingly distressed by air travel, wanting to make environmentally-mindful choices, and hoping to share a new adventure, my wife and I traveled from our home in Jersey City, New Jersey to historic Savannah, Georgia round trip on the Amtrak Silver Meteor line during this past Thanksgiving weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Wishing you a wonderful day and a hearty meal with family and friends. This year, forgo the mad consumption of Black Friday. Instead of heading to the mall or shopping online, watch a favorite film, read a book, or simply share another day with your loved ones. Indulge in leftovers, too. All experiences…

Crossing the Empire State

Last week, a minor emergency prompted a last-minute change to an already postponed family visit to Western New York State. Not wanting to call off my long-awaited and now necessary trip, I purchased a round-trip ticket from New York to Rochester on Amtrak’s Empire Service line.

Main Reading Room, New York Public Library (Courtesy of New York Public Library)

Library, Tradition, & Home

This month marks my second year as a resident at the Wertheim Study in the New York Public Library. This fellowship provides me with a desk in a private room designated for researchers and full access to the collections of a world-class research library. Quite a privilege.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! After handing out candy to trick-or-treaters this evening, crack open a collection of ghost stories or watch a treasured horror film. Remember the spirit of the holiday needs not depart at the stroke of midnight. As long as you feel autumn in the air, the fun and mystery of Halloween linger. Enjoy.

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Star Wars at Work

As a habit and a policy, I refrain from commenting upon my workplace on the blog. Every rule calls for the occasional exception.

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JCAST 2019: Art in the City

This past weekend, I had the privilege of leading walking tours as part of the Jersey City Art & Studio Tour. For three days, artists opened their studios, venues hosted events, and residents and visitors enjoyed the best cultural offerings of Jersey City.

Bruno Liljefors, Autumn Landscape with Fox, 1918. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Looking Toward Fall

Most mornings and evenings feel crisp, cool, and refreshing. The fall has arrived. My favorite season.

Jersey City Reservoir, Jersey City, NJ (Photograph by author)

No Need to Go Far

Several years ago, Melody Warnick wrote This is Where You Belong, a book urging readers to slow down and appreciate their lives right where they are. According to Warnick, your life isn’t waiting to begin in a distant city or a rural hamlet. Discover what makes your community, neighborhood, or city interesting. You might be…

(Photograph by author)

Bromo Seltzer & Baltimore

Earlier this month, I visited an old friend in Baltimore ostensibly to lend him a hand with his cozy 1850s rowhouse. In between projects, he introduced me to a few (of the many) high points of Charm City. Knowing our shared passion for architectural, industrial, and local history, my friend prominently included a tour of…

Detour

Diners & The Imagination

Since I have summer Fridays off from work, I try to take advantage of the cultural and natural amenities of the metropolitan region. I never lack for something to do. Yearning for the immersive atmosphere of a darkened theater, I recently visited the Film Forum, a cinematic temple in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood. I bought…