Monday, August 31, 2015

America's Most Endangered Places (2015 Ed.)

The 2015 list of America's Most Endangered Places was released by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Trust has been creating this annual list since 1987 and its popularity has brought necessary attention to many of the sites. More than 250 sites have been on the list over its 28-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost. See who made the cut, and compare the list to last year's here.

Image source: CNN

The A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama was a hotel for African-Americans during segregation. Civil Rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. stayed at the motel and used it as a hub for strategic planning. Today, the motel sits vacant and faces increased deterioration. I know it looks like a roach/crack/roaches-smokin'-crack hotel, but you should see some of the pictures of it in its prime. There's no doubt that this needs to be preserved.

The city of Birmingham is currently working on a 10 million dollar plan to restore parts of the motel and include it in a new development highlighting human rights.

Image source: CNN

Protected in the past by Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, the Oak Flat in Superior, AZ contains many cultural resources including archaeological sites, historical sites, and artifacts of the San Carlos Apache and several other Native American tribes.

A land exchange included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 would open the site up to copper mining. The National Trust and partners including the San Carlos Apache encourage members of Congress to reconsider this land exchange as any mining activity at Oak Flat would severely threaten this sacred place. Oh and it's fucking gorgeous and the last thing anyone wants to see is a bunch of Levis-wearin' assholes digging it up.

Image source: San Jose Mercury News

The Factory in West Hollywood, California housed the pioneering Mitchell Camera Corporation for decades, and after serving a variety of other uses, reopened in 1974 as Studio One, an influential disco for gay men.

Image source: Yahoo News

One of the world’s most celebrated natural wonders and a sacred site for numerous Native American tribes, the Grand Canyon faces numerous threats.

Image source: CNN

East Point Civic Block, which includes the City Hall, City Auditorium, City Library and Victory Park form a contiguous block that has been the heart of downtown East Point, Georgia since the 1930s. The block is suffering a potential fate of demolition by neglect.

Image source: CNN

The Fort Worth, Texas Stockyards National Register historic district is emblematic of the establishment of the livestock industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was central to the cultural and economic development of western states.

Image source: CNN

A San Francisco landmark and one of the few buildings to withstand the 1906 earthquake and fire, the Old U.S. Mint is currently underused and deteriorating.

Miami’s Little Havana is the most well-known Cuban American enclave in the United States and a symbol of the American melting pot.

Image source: Bustle

The Carrollton Courthouse is the most important remaining public building from Carrollton’s days before annexation by New Orleans in 1874 and is one of the city’s most significant landmarks outside of the French Quarter. After serving as a public school building for decades, it is now vacant and for sale.

Image source: NY Times

The site of New York City’s early maritime industry, the South Street Seaport today features the largest concentration of restored 19th century commercial buildings in New York.

Image source: CNN

New York's Chautauqua Amphitheater transformed American life as the first multi-use retreat in the U.S. that is an arts colony, music festival, village square and summer encampment all in one.

"This year's list is our most diverse ever, and reflects our commitment to recognizing and preserving all the facets of our diverse history," said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the nonprofit trust. And she's right. African Americans, Native Americans, Cuban Americans, and places that were of high importance amongst the gay community are represented. More so than ever before, this American Places list represents...America.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #48

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

This December, women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to vote for the first time.

Next on the chopping block, birth control activist, Margaret Sanger.

But they want your money before they tell you where it is.

ISIS is blowing up Palmyra's ancient buildings and filming it. An interesting and polarizing article (with 845 comments).

Weird History Week at History Extra
Here. for. this. History Extra is celebrating all things weird this week and posting articles like 7 moments in history you (might) think are made up but aren’t and 9 unsolved historical mysteries.

The truth may be finally emerging about the highly controversial papyrus suggesting that some people, in ancient times, believed Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #47

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

Did the greatest playwright the world has ever known have a taste for the wacky tobaccy? Did William Shakespeare have a case of the munchies while penning "Macbeth"? The answer may very well be "yes" after a group of scientists found that clay pipes recovered from the garden of the Bard's home contain traces of cannabis.

The swastika is an important symbol in both ancient and modern religions. It indicates, among being a complete asshole, good luck, the infinity of creation and the unconquered, revolving sun.

Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles, the very apogee of Baroque magnificence and absolutist grandeur, is so much on its uppers that the administration plans to turn part of the estate into a hotel in order to raise revenue. They did rent the place out exclusively to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian last year, so..they've been exploiting the property for awhile now.

The awful awful stuff going down in Palmyra just took a turn for the worse. Archaeologist, historian, and protector of Syria's ancient past, Khaled al-Asaad was captured by Isis militants shortly after they seized control of the ancient city in May. He was reportedly released and recaptured later before he was beheaded in a public square on Tuesday. 

A 25-year-old security video is raising new questions in the mystery of who pulled off the biggest art heist in American history at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The likely culprit: dude with a hatchback.

“Those sculptures are supposedly there to commemorate the Stonewall riots, but there isn’t a trace of the actual riots in them,” said anonymous activists who painted the statues brown and dressed them in wigs. I <3 this.

Women, communists and foreigners: the forgotten heroes of Paris, 1945 at Telegraph
For years French politicians pushed a myth of liberation from the Nazis that was military and male (isn't that most leaders, everywhere, throughout history?). The truth is somewhat different. For more on this subject, Robert Gildea's book on the French Resistance, Fighters in the Shadows, comes out in November.

Searching for Prohibition’s Bootlegging Widows at Archaeology
A team of University of Montana archaeologists is at work in the historic Butte neighborhood searching for Prohibition-era artifacts left behind by widows who took on the role of bootleggers. Widows who lost their husbands to mining accidents were known to take up the making of moonshine just to get by, often with the tacit approval of law enforcement.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Tested 'Dream' Speech as a Teen at Discovery
At the age of 15, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered a speech that researchers say was remarkably similar to his legendary “I Have a Dream” national address delivered nearly 20 years later.

An Egyptologist who has said Queen Nefertiti’s crypt may be hidden behind King Tutankhamun’s 3,300-year-old tomb in the famed Valley of the Kings has been invited to Cairo to defend his theory.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Why VJ Day is Stupid

Today went a little like this:

Friend: "Blahblahblah because of the holiday today."
Me: "What holiday?"
Friend: "VJ Day."
Me: "Tha fuck is that?"

The reason I have never heard of this "VJ Day" is because Rhode Island, where I currently reside, is the only state to still observe this holiday. If you are also asking "tha fuck is that?," VJ Day is the shortened version of 'Victory over Japan Day'. Ya know, the anniversary of the day Japan surrendered to end World War II? Ya know, as a result of this:

Image source: Wikipedia

Image source: Daily Mail
Image source: Daily Mail
Image source: Daily Mail
Rhode Island wants to be different somehow, anyhow, and rages against its obscurity by being the only state since 19goddamn75 to celebrate Victory over Japan Day (officially named Victory Day here in Rhode Island, so that it doesn't sound all that bad). Held annually every second Monday in August, this is an official state holiday. Banks are closed. Trash pickup is pushed back one day. And I didn't get my damn mail. The only reason I could find as to why Rhode Island still celebrates this is to pay "tribute to the disproportionate number of sailors it sent and lost in the Pacific front." Of the 100,000 WWII soldiers from RI, 10,000 were killed.

So the thing is, at least 129,000 people were killed during the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the few days leading up to Japan's surrender. Not 129,000 soldiers. 129,000 men, women, children, unborn children, grandparents, and probably puppies. Those in the area that didn't die immediately more than likely suffered from some form of radiation poisoning.

While Rhode Island observes Victory over Japan Day, the people of Japan are mourning and reflecting on the bombs that leveled their cities, destroyed their homes, and killed their families 70 years ago.

Rhode Island, stop being so gross. We have Memorial Day. We have Veterans Day. We are not disrespecting veterans or those who died for our country by abolishing this "holiday." Seriously, just think about it.