The contents of the Durst Old York Collection is as diverse as its subject–New York and its environs. The collections includes books from as late as the 1990s to as early as the 18th century. Durst collected everything, and although the Baruch College Archives does not have all of his collection, what we do have illustrates the variety of his interests, and his keen collecting instincts.
Annals of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New-York, from 1785 to 1880. New York: Published by Order of the Society, 1882.
The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen has a long history in New York City, tracing their founding to 1785. This Society from its earliest days, served the New York City citizenry through educational and cultural programs, a library, lecture series and a tuition-free Mechanics Institute which evolved from its beginnings in 1820 as one of the city’s first free schools.
First Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Public Parks for the year ending May 1, 1871. New York: William C. Bryant & Co., 1871.
In New York City parks have always provided a refuge from the bustle of city life. Bowling Green Park is considered the earliest park in the city, dating to 1733. Various parks opened during the 18th century, but it was not until 1850 that a parks movement gained momentum, and concerned citizens pressured the Common Council to create Central Park. The politically corrupt Tweed Ring replaced the Board of Commissioners of Central Park with a new city agency, the Department of Public Parks. This agency still oversees the management of the city parks which now include parks in all of the boroughs of New York City.
Charter, By-Laws, & of the Bowery Savings Bank, names of officers and trustees, from the origin of the institution. Annual Statements, &c. New-York: Embree & Jacobs, Stationers and Printers, 1860.
The Bowery Savings Bank opened in 1834 at 128-130 Bowery in Manhattan. Built by the architect Stanford White it was an architecturally significant building which lent confidence to the Lower East Side immigrant population who needed a convenient bank to keep their money.
L. Maria Child. Letters from New York. New-York: C.S. Francis & Co., 252 Broadway, 1852 (11th edition).
Lydia Maria Child was a poet and novelist, known for her poem, “Over the River and Through the Woods,” but she was also an anti-slavery activist and a supporter of non-violence and equality. In addition, her ideas on women’s rights were quite radical for that time. She was born in Massachusetts, but moved to New York City in 1841 to become the editor of The National Anti-Slavery Standard, a very unusual position for a 19th century woman. After her tenure as editor she left and then published many of her editorials and articles in Letters of New-York.
Official Book of the Silver Jubilee of Greater New York May Twenty-sixth to June Twenty-third Nineteen Hundred and Twenty-three. Under the Auspices of Mayor’s Committee on Celebration of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Greater City of New York. New York: M.B. Brown Printing & Binding Company, 1923.
On January 1, 1898 the City of Greater New York was created by the consolidation of the East Bronx, Brooklyn, western Queens and Staten Island. The Mayor of New York in 1923, John Hylan, when it was time to celebrate the silver jubilee planned a month long exposition and used this opportunity to unveil a city radio broadcast facility that would relay information directly to the public. A parade celebrated the occasion and there were varying reports on the number of marchers. The Chicago Tribune had the headline, “Silver Jubilee in New York Brings Out 40,000 in Parade,” while the New York Times said there were 15,000 marchers.
Interborough Rapid Transit. The New York Subway Its Construction and Equipment. New York: Interborough Rapid Transit Company, 1904.
Today the New York subway system is making headlines for overcrowded trains, delays, dirt and crime. If we turn back the clock to October 1904 when the first rapid transit subway opened, the IRT, the promise was to provide the city with a new, modern system of transportation. The New York Times of October 29, 1904 reported:
“All concerned in the designing, building, equipment, and operation of the Rapid Transit Subway are to be congratulated on the admirable success of the opening of that great work to public use and enjoyment. That the afternoon of the first day of operation a crowd of 25,00 people an hour could be handled safely and comfortably is more than could reasonably have been expected.”
The first line ran about 9 miles from City Hall to Grand Central Station, then west to Times Square and up the west side to 145th Street.