From word maps to bizarre holiday gifts, there’s something for everyone in our favorite finds of the week.
George Hanlin, director of grants:
- The first time I visited New York City in 2004, I happened upon the Empire Diner at the corner of 10th Avenue and 22nd Street. It was a charming place, with good food and vintage appeal, but unfortunately it has struggled over the past several years, closing and reopening a number of times. (Google says it’s permanently closed, but an article I found online indicated it was to be back in business last month.) Alas, the challenges of the Empire are not unique, and it seems that many of New York’s well-known diners have met similar fates. Journalist George Blecher describes the struggles and offers a fascinating look at Big Apple diner history and culture in this article in the New York Times.
- If you’re interested in diners closer to home, I encourage you to visit the beautifully restored Oasis Diner in along the National Road in Plainfield, Indiana. Visiting is like taking a trip back in time, and the breaded tenderloin’s pretty darned good! Also check out roadsidearchitecture.com’s page on Indiana diners, including the Sanitary Diner that Angie’s List has restored (apparently it’s open only to employees, but it’s still photo-worthy). Finally, head over to historicindianapolis.com to read my friend Joan Hostetler’s history of the Meadowbrook Diner, which still stands on East 38th Street in Indianapolis.
Kristen Fuhs Wells, director of communications and development:
- Out with the old, in with the new? Not so fast! Cities with a mixture of old and new buildings lead to greater success than those with just new buildings, according to this survey of 50 U.S. cities.
- I can’t imagine actually going on this trip, but it’s nice to know that the guide is out there should I need it—someone plotted the quickest way to see nearly 50,000 U.S. historic sites from the National Register of Historic Places.
Leah Nahmias, director of programs:
- I was pumping my fist after reading this essay, “In Defense of Facts,” which starts as a delightfully vituperative take-down of a new essay collection and ends as something much greater, a meditation on the co-origins of the essay, facts and modernity. H/t board member Sarah Skwire!
- I’m really inspired by my friend Mary Rizzo’s work at Rutgers-Newark, where she and her students are putting together an exhibit and talk called “From Rebellion to Review Board,” looking at the ways community members’ 50 years of activism in the face of police misconduct. It’s a great model of public humanities, and (hint, hint) this is the kind of project perfect for our INcommon grants.
- Have a long car trip coming up during the holidays? Get hooked on the Crimetown podcast. Each season explores the culture of crime and corruption in a different American city, and they couldn’t have picked a better starting point than Providence, Rhode Island, my old stomping grounds. It’s like The Wire and Serial had a baby. The accents alone are worth a listen, as well as the deep dive on the city’s beloved, charismatic mayor Buddy Cianci (who I met, of course—it really is a small place.)
Keira Amstutz, president and CEO:
- A free gift from Audible.com! Download Ellison’s Invisible Man.
- Merriam-Webster is one of my favorite Twitter accounts. They post a word of the day and offer a variety of facts and information about language and trends. One of my favorite recent posts was this great American word mapper. The interactive map tracks where where the top 100,000 words are used the most, as seen through Twitter data. For example it shows where in the U.S. you might have “dinner” vs. “supper.” Of course I looked up “Hoosier” and “Euchre”. Enjoy!
Jacqueline Cromleigh, communications and community relations manager:
- As you might have guessed, I am in love with Indy. That passion makes me proud to boast about the Circle City’s most recent accolade as one of “The Best Places to Travel in 2017” by Conde Nast Traveler.
- As many pen their holiday greetings I thought a history “On the Birth of the Christmas Card” was quite fitting.
Bronwen Fetters, executive assistant and program associate:
- Featuring items like a desktop trebuchet and historically accurate leech jar, this list of bizarre holiday gifts from Atlas Obscura is sure to have something for some of the quirkier people in your circle.
- Hamilton-mania. The Cubs’ World Series win. Beyonce’s “Lemonade.” The death of Vine. Here are some “Unforgettable Cultural Moments From 2016” as told on The New York Times’ Still Processing podcast series.
What are your favorite highlights from the week? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below.