Lights and shadows

HISTORY was, ironically, news in New York City during William A. Whitehead’s first years living there. His initiation into the New-York Historical Society’s holdings (a membership in that body would have to wait some years more) came just as it was awakening from a long period of slumber. But far from being the preserve of … More Lights and shadows

Moving Day

“DO you want,” pronounced an eminent journalist, “an appropriate emblem of this country, and this age? Then stand on the side-walks of New-York, and watch the universal transit on the first of May.” We could suppose the scene to which Lydia Maria Child referred was some rite of rejuvenation, an urban awakening to the warmth … More Moving Day

The Dunlap benefit

THE home of the Stuyvesant Institute, its stately façade aligned with Broadway, admitted within its walls a wide range of organizations, activities and initiatives, all in some way justified by a founding commitment to “the diffusion of useful knowledge.” Barely a year old in November 1838 when William A. Whitehead first passed through its doors, … More The Dunlap benefit

Barrow Street

SUNDRY and sustained attachments bound William A. Whitehead early to the nation’s commercial capital. They were established just after the Revolutionary War and well before his birth, upon his father’s arrival as a young immigrant from the Caribbean. A furniture-maker’s apprentice turned promising craftsman, then cashier in Wall Street’s most enduring financial institution, the elder … More Barrow Street

Together apart

CITY fathers in 1876 planned a Fourth of July more memorable than any Key West had yet seen. They would not only mark the centennial of American independence, but use the occasion to dedicate a new city hall. Walter C. Maloney was commissioned to deliver an address on Key West’s history, but with scant forethought … More Together apart

Fishermen’s friend

AS the Evan T. Ellicott, beating the final agonizing mile of its course against a sharp northerly wind, headed for the harbor of Key West, William A. Whitehead would have been forgiven for thinking the reception more than a little discourteous. But the auspices on this voyage had never been good. The Ellicott set out … More Fishermen’s friend