Good morning, all. I am having my coffee before setting out for Governors Island in a little bit. We are interviewing a lady who served in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps and after that a gentleman who was a high-level officer here during the Coast Guard years. It is always special to speak to people who lived and worked on the island. The lives people have led can be nothing short of extraordinary, even if they are unaware of it in the moment.
I was listening to the radio the other day on what turned out to be the 40th anniversary (July 13) of the 1977 New York City blackout. There was intense rioting and looting then and over the next several days. When I moved here and began working for the public library in the late 1990s, patrons in my branch told me that in the week after the riots, which at this time were only twenty years past, people were gathering in a sort of ersatz bazaar/flea market in the local park around the corner from the branch to exchange their ill-gotten gains. It would be three pairs of sneakers for a color television set, a gold chain for a transistor radio, or what have you. In my book about Civil War New York I am trying to put the July 1863 draft riots into perspective, explaining that such unrest has a long history in the city. There were several riots in the decades before the Civil War. There were major riots here and elsewhere in summer 1919 just after the First World War, and in New York City again in 1943 during the Second.
I was in Green-Wood Cemetery recently when I came across this new headstone for Edward Jardine, a Union officer from Brooklyn who was wounded in the Draft Riots. Jardine died 124 ago today, on 16 July 1893.