History

"Things don't have to be rotten"

Glenn Reynolds:

I had this experience last week when I spent some time in New York City on business. My wife and I both lived in NYC back in the era before Rudy Giuliani cleaned up the streets, and it was pretty ugly. It was years after the movie Taxi Driver, but had very much the same feel:  Crime was rampant. Streets and subways were dirty and decaying. Most everyone you met when you were out and about was rude and unhappy.

Now I barely recognize New York. I remember being there on a book tour in 1997 and thinking that it had turned into “Disney New York,” and that things were amazingly clean, shiny, and pleasant. Since then, that impression has only grown.

For those who have forgotten or who never knew: "Death, Destruction, And Debt: 41 Photos Of Life In 1970s New York".


"Book Review: Albion's Seed"

Not really a book review, but a selection of trivia about Colonial America from the book that was great fun to read. With a bonus: an attempt to connect the author's story to modern American political divisions.

The average family size in Waltham, Massachusetts in the 1730s was 9.7 children. . . .

Puritan parents traditionally would send children away to be raised with other families, and raise those families’ children in turn, in the hopes that the lack of familiarity would make the child behave better. . . .

Three-quarters of 17th-century Virginian children lost at least one parent before turning 18. . . .

Fischer argues that the Quaker ban on military activity within their territory would have doomed them in most other American regions, but by extreme good luck the Indians in the Delaware Valley were almost as peaceful as the Quakers. As usual, at least some credit goes to William Penn, who taught himself Algonquin so he could negotiate with the Indians in their own language. . . .

Colonial opinion on the Borderers [aka the "Scots-Irish"--ed.] differed within a very narrow range: one Pennsylvanian writer called them “the scum of two nations”, another Anglican clergyman called them “the scum of the universe”. . . .