New England roundup #20

Counting paper ballots in Cornwall, VT, in 2004 (cc photo by origamidon)
Counting paper ballots in Cornwall, VT, in 2004 (cc photo by origamidon)
  • With the 2010 elections in the books, the AP declares, “The GOP resurgence sputters in most of New England.” But Jay Newton-Small, of Time, equivocates in a piece titled “The Rebirth of the New England GOP (Or Something Approximating It),” and the Globe argues that the victories Republicans did secure “reflect a resurgence of the uniquely New England stripe of moderate Republicanism that has receded in recent years as the national party has become increasingly conservative on social issues.” All three analyses note that Republican gains were not all that the party had hoped for. Over at the Providence Journal, John E. Mulligan observes that the elections tilted the balance of power in the U.S. House delegation from the Northeast (New England, plus New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) from a 68-15 Democratic advantage to a 55-28 split. And if you missed it, I explored some historical context for the election results in New England earlier this week.
  • The region’s largest wind power project, on Kibby Mountain in Maine, near the Canadian border, is complete. But the future of alternative energy and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is in some doubt with Maine’s election of Paul LaPage—a climate change skeptic and wind power opponent—to replace outgoing governor John Baldacci.
  • Panera Bread Co. is expanding its presence in the New England states, and echoing comments last summer by Papa Gino’s CEO about the region’s unique pizza culture, Panera’s executive chairman declares, “The New England consumer gets Panera. The New England consumer appreciates Panera.” (I’m not exactly sure what there is to “get”—I guess I don’t!)

About this feature: Each week, I compile recent articles and other items relating to New England’s history, its regional identity, and its future. If you come across something interesting or relevant, please submit it for inclusion in a future post. Click here for previous roundups.

New England roundup #19

1890 John Singer Sargent painting of Henry Cabot Lodge (cc photo by cliff1066)
1890 John Singer Sargent painting of Henry Cabot Lodge (cc photo by cliff1066)

Some miscellany from the past few weeks:

About this feature: Each week, I compile recent articles and other items relating to New England’s history, its regional identity, and its future. If you come across something interesting or relevant, please submit it for inclusion in a future post. Click here for previous roundups.

New England roundup #18

Sticker in Brattleboro train station advertising Amtrak's Vermonter service
Sticker in Brattleboro train station advertising Amtrak's Vermonter service

This week’s roundup comes to you from beautiful Newfane, Vermont.

  • The Courant examines the economic impact of same-sex marriage in Connecticut. One argument: the state is better positioned to draw out-of-state couples than others in New England, due to Connecticut’s centrality and the lack of a waiting period for marriage licenses.
  • When I started this feature, I didn’t really expect that the fishing industry would feature so prominently in it. At any rate, here’s an interesting write-up of a panel at a recent chef’s conference in Boston on the tensions between “local” and “sustainable” in New England’s fisheries.
  • The Maine Historical Society hosted a talk this week by Colby’s David M. Freidenreich on Maine’s Jewish history. The talk announcement points to Documenting Maine Jewry, described as “a collaborative genealogy and history of Maine’s Jewish communities,” which features dozens of photographs and oral histories.

About this feature: Each week, I compile recent articles and other items relating to New England’s history, its regional identity, and its future. If you come across something interesting or relevant, please submit it for inclusion in a future post. Click here for previous roundups.

New England roundup #17

UConn football players of yesteryear (Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, UConn Athletic Game Films collection)
UConn football players of yesteryear (Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, UConn Athletic Game Films collection)

About this feature: Each week, I compile recent articles and other items relating to New England’s history, its regional identity, and its future. If you come across something interesting or relevant, please submit it for inclusion in a future post. Click here for previous roundups.

New England roundup #16

Screengrab from 1974 WGBH report on anti-busing rally in Boston (click image to link to video).
Screengrab from 1974 WGBH report on anti-busing rally in Boston (click image to link to video).

After an irritatingly persistent illness, I’m getting back into action:

New England roundup #15

Entry for John Adams's Koran, from 1917 "Catalogue of the John Adams Library in the Public Library of the City of Boston" (click for full text)
Entry for John Adams's Koran, from 1917 "Catalogue of the John Adams Library in the Public Library of the City of Boston" (click for full text)

Apologies for the delay:

  • In the Globe, Ted Widmer examines Islam in early America. He begins with John Adams’s Koran: “Despite its foreign air, Adams’s Koran had a strong New England pedigree. The first Koran published in the United States, it was printed in Springfield in 1806.”
  • New England’s public colleges and universities have long existed in the shadow of its private institutions; budget cuts at the University of Massachusetts, Tracy Jan reports, have left it at a further disadvantage, compared to the region’s other state universities, when it comes to attracting the state’s top students. If you put any stock in the latest U.S. News rankings, New England’s state universities fall out in this order: UConn, UVM, UMass, UNH, UMaine, URI.
  • Meanwhile, a new report in The New England Journal of Higher Education asserts that two thirds of the jobs created in the region over the next eight years will require a post-secondary degree. In 2018, the study’s authors write, 68 percent of jobs in Massachusetts will require such a degree, the highest percentage in New England; in Maine, the figure will only be 59 percent. Local coverage from Maine here, and Rhode Island here.
  • Sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy, who helped to popularize the idea of New England as “Red Sox Nation,” declares Patriots quarterback Tom Brady New England’s “Brady Gaga” due to the obsessive attention he wins from “regional media.” Shaughnessy own employer, of course, eagerly feeds the frenzy. But I somehow doubt this coinage will catch on.
  • A warm spring means apple picking begins early this fall.

About this feature: Each week, I compile recent articles and other items relating to New England’s history, its regional identity, and its future. If you come across something interesting or relevant, please submit it for inclusion in a future post. Click here for previous roundups.

New England roundup #14

  • Flyer advertising 1923 Labor Day rail excursion to Peaks Island, ME (Broadside Collection, Maine Historical Society, click for details)
    Flyer advertising 1923 Labor Day rail excursion to Peaks Island, ME (Broadside Collection, Maine Historical Society, click for details)

    Happy Labor Day! The Maine Historical Society—which, John Quincy Adams’ tweets notwithstanding, outdoes its New England peers in its embrace of social media—calls attention to a 1923 Labor Day celebration documented in its digital archives: a rail-and-ferry excursion to Peaks Island, with “attractions for everyone,” ranging from “base ball” to a trapeze act.

  • Out next month: Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston, an account of the city’s nineteenth-century urbanization taking an environmental history perspective, by Brooklyn College’s Michael Rawson.
  • In an interview, Clyde W. Barrow, of UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Policy Analysis and its New England Gaming Research Project, forecasts that expanded gaming in New Hampshire, Maine, and especially Massachusetts would result in declines in patronage and revenues at Connecticut’s casinos and Rhode Island’s “racinos.” Nevertheless, Barrow is bullish on “one of New England’s largest growth industries.” (Although the UMass center is fully state-funded, the same does not seem to be the case for the first-ever New England Gaming Summit, scheduled for September 20-21 at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.)
  • Meanwhile, New England’s biggest industry—tourism—was buoyed this summer by “perfect weather,” the Associated Press reports, citing state tourism officials, highway tolls, hotel occupancy rates, and other barometers. But tourist traffic isn’t necessarily translating into greater spending.
  • It can only help, though, that Earl spared Cape Cod, and the rest of New England.

About this feature: Each week, I compile recent articles and other items relating to New England’s history, its regional identity, and its future. If you come across something interesting or relevant, please submit it for inclusion in a future post. Click here for previous roundups.

New England roundup #13

Friendly's Restaurant & Ice Cream, Unionville, CT (image via Wikipedia)
Friendly's Restaurant & Ice Cream, Unionville, CT (image via Wikipedia)

Not much happening this week—must be those last, lazy days of summer:

About this feature: Each week, I compile recent articles and other items relating to New England’s history, its regional identity, and its future. If you come across something interesting or relevant, please submit it for inclusion in a future post. Click here for previous roundups.

New England roundup #12

I’m back from New England, so it’s time to get caught up on the latest items of note about New England.

But first, via a commenter on Matt Yglesias’s post about his soundtrack for a drive from D.C. to Maine, I’ve just discovered Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers’ song “New England.” Several years ago, a friend brought Richman’s “Roadrunner” to my attention, and it’s a fantastic song, with a lot of New England flavor (“Gonna drive past the Stop ‘n’ Shop…”), but of a Greater Boston-centric sort. “New England” is sparer but more catholic, consisting basically of the repeated couplet “Dum-de-dum-de-dum-dum-da-dum-day / Oh, New England” and a shout-out to Maine. When I one day teach my prospective course New England’s history and regional identity since the Civil War—which I really do mean to write more about here sometime—I’m definitely playing this on the first day of class. Until then, consider it the official anthem of these posts.

Pamphlet titled "South Shore of Massachusetts Bay," 1910 (image from Historic New England, Ephemera collection)
Pamphlet titled "South Shore of Massachusetts Bay," 1910 (image from Historic New England, Ephemera collection)

On to this week’s roundup:

About this feature: Each week, I compile recent articles and other items relating to New England’s history, its regional identity, and its future. If you come across something interesting or relevant, please submit it for inclusion in a future post. Click here for previous roundups.

New England roundup #11

Platform at Springfield's current Amtrak station, adjacent to the old Union Station (cc photo by NatalieMaynor)
Platform at Springfield's current Amtrak station, adjacent to the old Union Station (cc photo by NatalieMaynor)

It’s August already?

  • If you missed it on Twitter earlier this week, I have a guest post at The Lazy Scholar on Connecticut’s online archives.
  • There’s been lots of news this week on the future of passenger rail service in New England:
    • On Thursday, an official at Connecticut’s Department of Transportation publicly discussed plans for both the New Haven-Springfield corridor and the longer New Haven-St. Albans route.  The AP has an overview, and the Brattleboro Reformer covers the Vermont angle. Initial work on double-tracking in Connecticut and other track upgrades in Massachusetts and Vermont will be completed in two to three years and will cut the St. Albans-to-New York trip of Amtrak’s Vermont service—which has seen strong ridership growth in the last year—by about 90 minutes. Prospective longer-term projects would further cut travel times and increase train frequencies, from six roundtrips to 25 at Hartford and from one to three at Brattleboro. And Connecticut’s latest application for additional federal grant money “got a fairly good reception,” likely aided by the state’s plan to sell $260 million in bonds to further fund work to support New Haven-Springfield commuter rail service.
    • In another positive development for the same corridor, the Federal Transit Administration on Tuesday unfroze funding for the rehabilitation and redevelopment of Union Station in Springfield. The project aims to make the station, which has been abandoned since 1973, into a hub for Amtrak and commuter rail as well as local and inter-city bus service. The Republican cheered the development in an editorial today. (You can take a look inside the empty facility as it stood in 2007 via the Flickr feed of Heather Brandon, who writes about Springfield and Hartford at the blog Urban Compass.)
    • Finally, Amtrak’s Downeaster service between Portland and Boston attracted record ticket revenues during the just-ended fiscal year. Work begins Monday to extend service past Portland to Brunswick and is projected to finish in fall 2012. I look forward to testing out the Boston-to-Wells portion of the route in a couple of weeks!
  • Published earlier this month: Lost Ski Areas of Southern Vermont, by Jeremy K. Davis, which “looks into the over-investment, local competition, weather variation, changing skier habits, insurance costs and just plain bad luck that caused these ski areas to succumb and melt back into the landscape.” The author is founder of the extensive New England Lost Ski Areas Project, which records over 100 areas in Vermont alone, including Maple Valley, which I pass by every time I visit my parents.
  • Boston, Hartford, and Providence all failed to break July records for days over 90 degrees.  Hartford, though, saw a tie for the highest average July temperature on record, Ryan Hanrahan reports.
  • The latest Beige Book from the Federal Reserve sees continued economic expansion but “signs of slowing” in New England, according to the Globe.

About this feature: Each week, I compile recent articles and other items relating to New England’s history, its regional identity, and its future. If you come across something interesting or relevant, please submit it for inclusion in a future post. Click here for previous roundups.