State and Global Significance of New York and the Lower East Side's Role – Term Paper Example
“The city will, in the course of time, become the granary of the world, the emporium of commerce, the seat of manufactures, the focus of great moneyed operations. And before the revolution of a century, the whole island of Manhattan, covered with inhabitants and replenished with a dense population, will constitute one vast city.”
These were the prophetic words of De Witt Clinton, New York Governor who inaugurated the Erie Canal in 1825. New York today occupies the premier position of the cities in the USA, owing its iconic status to the far reaching changes brought about after its complete destruction in the American Revolution. With the departure of the British, and Europe’s long engagement in the Napoleonic Wars, New York became the chief supplier of rations and clothing to all sides engaged in the war and by 1810 it was the most important port in America. One of the most important reasons for this phenomenal rise of the port of New York was the opening of the Erie Canal, which in its planning stages was derided as “Clinton’s Folly”, but later came to be seen as the key that unlocked the riches of the North Western region of the USA. At the turn of the 19th century, the Allegheny Mountains were the Western frontier and the mineral rich and fertile lands beyond it were hard to access. New York Governor De Witt Clinton’s plan of linking Buffalo on Lake Erie to Albany on the Upper Hudson River, with a canal in excess of 350 miles opened up these untapped land resources. The canal also reduced freight rates by more than 80% and in nine years, the money spent on building it had been recovered in a matter of 15 years. New York port was moving more traffic than Boston, Baltimore and New Orleans combined. The New York Port benefited much from the slave trade and between 1715 and 1776 about 150 slaving ships made the trip between Africa and New York bringing back thousands of the human cargo. The port was a transit point for the slaves who were then sent to Virginia, Georgia, the Caribbean and the Carolinas. This was a very lucrative trade and the port and city thrived on this trade and New York became the largest slave holding state of the North. Later it was to become the hope of immigrants from all over the world who emigrated from countries as diverse as Russia, Hungary, Italy, China, as well as Jews from all over the globe. During the Second World War, the Port was the major point of embarkation for troops going across the Atlantic and was the battle front for the Second Battle of the Atlantic. The overwhelming inventory of arms and armaments as also other heavy equipment in wartime made it the busiest port of all times in history. (Gotham Gazette, March 2006)
The lower East Side is one of those iconic neighborhoods whose history encompasses the narrative of New York with that of America itself. The heavy influx of immigrants from the end of the 18th century onwards and especially the Jews made this area the “Old World”, especially after the horrors of the Second World War and the Holocaust, for their community. These hordes came to America drawn by its tables heaped with food and Hasia Diner says that they made true the maxim "Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are." In 1890, there were more than 524 people per acre in the tenth ward with the Jews preferring to stay put in spite of the lack of space. The concentration of a community in one area gave it a familiar feel and gave impetus to trade also. The insistence of Jews on kosher meat made the city an important slaughtering center and their non alcoholic habits made seltzer a popular drink. Orthodox Jews established synagogues and the khal adas jeshurun was the first, made entirely by East European Jews. Young men joined secular educational institutions and tried to take on the role of "regeleh Yankees’. Women asserted their independence and challenged the dogmas of the shetl. In the 1890’s, there were more than 20000 young Jew girls employed as teachers, milliners, seamstresses and typists.
DeWitt Clinton’s visionary ideas transformed New York and endowed it with riches and prosperity of such magnitude that it straddles the world of commerce, trade, finance and culture like no other city before it. The various ethnic communities have created a vibrant metropolis throbbing with a life unique in the globe and all this is the result of vision backed by unbiased assimilation and acceptance.
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Slavery in America