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"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Entries in New York Times (3)


* I now have a Centenarian in My Family- Happy 100th Birthday Maw! 

Steve's grandmother, Genevieve "Maw" Louise Woodard Burchett, turned a young 100 years old this past Friday- August 19, 2011. She is a lively, humorous, and inspirational woman. Her life spans time periods we can't even begin to fully comprehend. In her lifetime she has persevered through 2 world wars, the great depression, and unprecedented advances in technology. I am so proud and thankful to know her and be a part of her family. A glimpse into the past 100 years of her beautiful life.

Click to read more ...


* The Triborough Bridge linking the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens for 75 Years 

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Tri-Borough Bridge, a game changer for cars navigating the city roadways.

A project marked with initial distress, construction began the same day of the stock market crash of October 1929. Mayor James "Jimmy" Walker kept financing for the bridge as steady as possible during tough times, allegedly using illegal or unethical methods. Construction of the bridge was slow, money was extremely tight for the city. In 1932 when accusations and evidence of corruption forced Walker to resign as Mayor, construction was delayed and it's fate was unknown. In 1934 Fiorello La Guardia won the mayoral race and soon appointed Robert Moses as chairman to many important public authorities, one being the completion of the Triborough Bridge.

Moses was a sketchy guy and I still don't know what to think of him. His goals seemed to be aligned with the well being of New York City, but he made some questionable decisions. I learned a lot from the PBS special series, New York: A Documentary Film. In Episode 6, "The City of Tomorrow", they explore the significant years of 1929-1941 in New York City history. I loved seeing the video footage of feisty Fiorello La Guardia. The entire series is so thoughtfully put together and interesting. Definitely a great gift for any New Yorker! 

It just so happens I have an old New York Times clipping detailing the steps to finalizing it's construction. I don't have the whole article, it seems the article on the other side was the intended story to be saved, titled America's Past "Hard Times" Always Followed. An unknown person wrote "New York Times, Jan 24, 1932".


A Transcription from the legible parts of the article:

"...The height of the tower above the masonry will be 275 feet to the centre of the cables, or 315 feet above mean high water. Each tower will weigh 5,000 tons, of which 3,680 tons will be of silicon steel. As laid out, the cable bents for each anchorage weigh 1,200 tons, including cast sandles similar to those on the towers, and cast steel bases for distributing the load to the masonry. The job is to be done in 450 working days.

The cable anchorages for the Hell Gate span, on Ward's Island and at Astoria, Queens, have been finished and residents of the upper east side will soon see the start of construction of the Manhattan connection both in Manhattan and on Randall's Island... Foundations for the Manhattan link lift bridge will require an estimated $1,000,000 and for the Bronx Kills lift bridge will require an estimated $400,000. Foundations for the Queens approach will cost, it is believed, $1,500,000. So far two bond issues in connection with the bridge have been authorized, one for $3,000,000 and the other for $5,000,000.

The Triborough Bridge, according to Commissioner Goldman, will be the largest structure of it's kind in the United States. The main route, from Queens to the Bronx, will be 13,560 feet long and the Manhattan connection 4,150 feet. The Queens-Bronx section will open withe facilities to carry eight lanes of traffic, the crosstown connection six lanes...

...If a fee of 25 cents is charged for each of the expected 11,000,000 vehicles a year, the yield will be $2,750,000. 'The effect of the Triborough Bridge will be to rezone traffic in New York City,' Commissioner Goldman said. "It will enable Long Island motorists to go directly to the Bronx and to points north without traveling through Manhattan first."

'We estimate that it will relieve the Queensboro Bridge of 20 per cent of its traffic. The Williamsburg Bridge of 8 percent and the Brooklyn Bridge of 6 percent of its traffic. In short, the Triborough Bridge will be one of the finest improvements this city has ever had.'"

A mere 7 years later the Triborough Bridge was completely finished and open for motorists on July 11, 1936. I wonder how their stats matched up to their predictions. Seems like there would have been so many different factors, I don't know who they figured it all out. This change for the city most likely lead a greater number of families to move around the 5 boroughs during the end of the 1930's into the 1940's. I can't wait to see when the 1940 census data is released! Only 264 days until the scheduled release, April 1st or 2nd 2012.

Good book:

The Bridges of New York, by Sharon Reier, boasts many great images of the construction periods and discusses the instability of the political and economic systems challenging the growth of NYC.


* What is the American Community Survey?

As I went through a large stack of what seemed to be junk mail, I opened a large envelope from the Census Bureau. Turns out my household was randomly selected to respond (BY LAW) to their American Community Survey. For many people this might seem like a pain- but I'm thrilled! I don't see census surveys to be a burden or an invasion of privacy, the information is valuable for our decision makers to understand the makeup of the areas they represent. From a family history perspective, it helps us have a greater understanding of our community and track social change . I feel honored to be able to leave my mark in society! This survey is particularly important because it helps fill in the long 10 year gap between the US Censuses, which is not frequent enough for our rapidly changing country.

What is the American Community Survey?

The American Community Survey (ACS) is an ongoing survey that provides data every year -- giving communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Information from the survey generates data that help determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funds are distributed each year.  (US Census Bureau Website)

This annual survey is sent to a random sample of about 3 million households. 

Visualize Survey Results

I've shared my love for mapping genealogy and infographics, so you can imagine how excited I was to find this awesome interactive map from the NYT "Mapping America: Every City, Every Block". You can search any city, zoom in/out, and view different types of maps. The 4 different map categories are: Race and Ethnicity, Income, Housing and Families, and Education. The data is from the 2005-2009 American Community Survey results. Remember! The data represented is from a sample of the population, providing estimates for the whole. I encourage you to see what the survey results say about your community! You can also view thematic maps created by the Census Bureau from survey results.

What does the survey ask?

The beginning of the survey reminded me of the 2010 Census, covering basic personal questions about age and race. The second part was about housing, I had to include my monthly rent, how many rooms (excluding bathrooms) my apartment has, and last month's electricity and gas bills. Wouldn't it be nice if they let me know if I'm overpaying in my community?! The final section asked detailed questions for each person living in the household, education, employment, disabilities, income...view the 2011 survey.

One question I found interesting: Personal Question #13- What is your Ancestry? There is a box for you to write in your answer, with a few examples to give you an idea of what they are looking for. A guide came with the survey and for this question it gives the following definition of Ancestry:

"Ancestry refers to the person's ethnic origin or descent, "roots", or heritage. Ancestry may also refer to the country of birth of the person of the person's parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. Do not report a religious group as one's ancestry. Persons who have more than one origin and cannot identify with a single ancestry group may report two ancestry groups (for example: German, Irish)." 

I'd love to see results from this question, I couldn't find a simple breakdown of ancestry results. I remember reading somewhere that many people describe their ancestry as "American". It was hard for me to narrow it down to 2, my ancestry has quite a mix! Might be helpful if there was a box for paternal ancestry and maternal ancestry.

Worried about the confidentiality of your information? According to the Census Bureau, all of their employees take an oath of nondisclosure. If broken, the individual would be subject to a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both. I just hope it doesn't get lost in the mail!

What are you feelings about census surveys? Do you fill them out?