The illustration pictured here, “View from Battle Hill, Green-Wood Cemetery,” was drawn and engraved by James Smillie (1807-1885) for Green-Wood historian Nehemiah Cleaveland’s 1847 guide, Green-Wood Illustrated. For the book, Smillie executed a series of engravings capturing the vast serene landscape of Green-Wood in its early years. At that time, before Central Park or Prospect Park were established, the beautiful hills and dells of the cemetery served as an ideal setting for a family day out.
The Angel of the Waters (1873), commonly referred to simply as the Bethesda Fountain, was one of the first large-scale public sculptures by a female artist. Green-Wood resident Emma Stebbins (1815-1882) designed the sculpture for Bethesda Terrace in New York City’s Central Park. Unveiled in 1873, the sculpture depicts the biblical story of an angel who came upon the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, stirring the water and imbuing it with healing powers.
During the first half of the nineteenth century it was almost unheard of for a woman to practice medicine, but pioneering female doctor Clemence Lozier (1813-1888) played a major role in changing that. Not only did she excel in the fields of obstetrics and general surgery, she also encouraged other women to pursue medicine by founding the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women in 1863. Lozier further helped to make basic medical knowledge accessible to the average woman, hosting lectures in her own home and writing health books specifically for women.
About 50 miles north of New York City, on Pollepel Island in the Hudson River, stand the ruins of what resembles a huge castle. This is what remains of Bannerman’s Island Arsenal, a massive storage facility built by Francis Bannerman VI (1851-1918). A dealer and collector of military goods, Bannerman purchased the island in 1900 as a secure place to store his merchandise. He proceeded to build the world’s largest private arsenal, modeled in the style of a Scottish castle. The arsenal is pictured on the cover of this 1945 catalog, published by Francis Bannerman’s sons, who inherited the business after his death.
When the steamship General Slocum caught fire in the East River of New York City on June 15, 1904, it claimed more lives than any other disaster in New York City history. An estimated 1,021 of the 1,342 people on board died, largely resulting from inaccessible and ineffective safety equipment. In the aftermath of the General Slocum Steamship Disaster, federal and state regulations were enacted to improve the emergency equipment on passenger ships. Forty-six identified victims of the disaster are buried in Green-Wood Cemetery.
Brooklyn native Paul Jabara (1948-1992) was the songwriter behind some of the most iconic songs of the disco era. Jabara wrote the hit “Last Dance” performed by Donna Summer for the 1978 film “Thank God It’s Friday,” earning him both a Grammy for Best R&B song and an Oscar for Best Original Song. He also co-wrote The Weather Girls hit “It’s Raining Men.”
Sisters Alice Cary (1820-1871) and Phoebe Cary (1824-1871) were prolific poets of the mid-nineteenth century. Born in rural Ohio, ambition brought them to New York City, where they became influential figures in the literary community. Each published volumes of their own work and contributed regularly to national periodicals. The sisters hosted a popular salon in their New York City home in which intellectuals, artists and social reformers of the day would gather. Pictured here is a posthumously published volume of their poetry, The Last Poems of Alice and Phoebe Cary, released in 1873.
Roy Smeck, (1900-1994) fondly referred to as the “Wizard of the Strings” was an American musician renowned for his skill on the banjo, guitar, steel guitar and ukulele. His talents earned him countless opportunities to perform on the radio, on television and in film. As an expert in his field, Smeck also designed variations on stringed instruments and wrote arrangements and instruction books. He was posthumously inducted into both the Ukulele Hall of Fame and the National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame.
A solemn account of Horace Greeley’s (1811-1872) last visit to the office of the New York Tribune appeared on the cover of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in the weeks following his death. A well-known public figure, Greeley founded the Tribune and served as its editor for several decades. In 1872, Greeley resigned from the newspaper to run opposite Ulysses S. Grant in the 1872 Presidential election. After an unsuccessful campaign, Greeley returned to the Tribune, but would not remain much longer. November 13th would prove to be his final visit, as he immediately fell ill and spent the remainder of his life under medical care.
In 1926, Edward West Browning (1875-1934) entered into an ill-fated marriage with 16 year-old Frances “Peaches” Heenan. A successful real-estate developer in New York, Browning showered his young bride with lavish gifts. Less than six months after the wedding, “Peaches” sought a separation, citing odd behavior from her husband, including his insistence that a honking goose be kept in the bedroom. The ensuing trial made for a sensational news story. I’m All Alone in a Palace of Stone: The ‘Peaches’ and Browning Song was written about the scandalous affair. The lyrics describe Frances Heenan Browning as “one of many fools, who sold her love for jewels” who was “trying to care for an old millionaire, wasting the best of [her] years.”