Cultural Geography


Masterfully arranged by the editor, the
articles in this book comprise a sterling
collection of Italian American folklore
research. The organization of the work
provides seamless transitions from essays
on foodways to material culture, cultural
landscape to explicit art forms, and largescale
ceremonial events to religious belief,
all situated in diverse locales from New York
to California.


“Unwittingly,” writes New York Times reporter Somini Sengupta, “I have turned into a student of light. The August light that envelops the beaten-down old streets of Red Hook, I have learned, is more melancholy than the morning light during lilac season in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The sun sparkling on the crown of the Chrysler building is whimsical, ‘like a woman dressed for a party at high noon.’”

From the Director

Folklorists can offer important insights on
a community as tourism site. Drawing upon
knowledge gained through ethnographic
fieldwork, folklorists are able to provide
interpretive frameworks for a better understanding
of a community’s traditions and
cultural arts and may have a broader vantage
point on a community’s cultural assets.

K’s Ghost City:

Anyone who has lived in New York for any time
soon becomes aware of “Ghost Sites,” places too soon
relegated to memory. As part of City Lore’s Place
Matters project and the Census of Places that Matter,
we struggle with how to think about and address
vanishing sites, especially during this COVID-19 era.
Our longtime friend, writer Kathryn Adisman has a
unique take on the subject, and we invited her to contribute
to City Lore’s guest blog for us, which we share
here with Voices, focusing, in part, on Bleecker Street
in the West Village.

From the Editor

We saw the Strawberry Moon rise over
Eldridge Swamp two nights ago. Just south
of our home in Shushan, New York. At a
place we had never visited. Nor knew of its
existence. No interfering lights. No one else
nearby. No other sounds. Only the chorus of
frogs encouraging the moon’s performance.

Empire State Legends

If you are wandering in Strykersville, Johnson City, Staatsburg, or dozens of other New York towns, you may be startled to see newer, ruby red markers. This is not a manufacturing error, but a cause for celebration: red signals the commemoration of local folklore. Over the past seven years, the William G. Pomeroy Foundation’s Legends & Lore® program has erected 73 such legend-centric signs across New York State, ranging from well-known community legends, like the Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow and Champ the Lake Monster in Plattsburgh, to local oral traditions, like a cannon heist in Wilmington or a bear brawl in Queens.


OK, maybe we’re not the “best book group” in all New York. But back in 2004, author Wayne Barrett nominated us to the Village Voice’s annual “Best Of ” list, and so the name Best Book Group (BBG) stuck… Alex Herzan and I were having a sushi picnic …. when this idea was hatched. I mentioned to Alex that I had decided to mark my 10th anniversary as a New Yorker by reading a year of books about NYC. I hadn’t come up with a list of books yet, but I had decided to start with Ragtime. Alex was excited about my plan and had the great idea to make it a book group.

Advocating for Sunday Rock

Sunday Rock, a large boulder on the roadside of New York State Highway 56, just west of the hamlet of South Colton in St. Lawrence County, is an important landmark for locals and travelers alike…. Many places, however, still deserve national recognition and protection for their long-standing —and continuing— value to their communities, as part of the living heritage of life there. Such recognition may contribute to a sense of place not only for visitors but for local residents as well. To recognize that a place can be more than an example of an architectural style or site of a political or economic event really matters.

Good Read

A book review of Saratoga Springs: A Centennial History, edited by Field Horne.

Good Read

Until the publication of Tahawus Memories, this old titanium town seemed as though it was destined to end up in the dustbin of history.

Evaluation of Petrifaction Legends in Turkey in Terms of Cultural Heritage and Tourism

Petrifaction legends told in Turkey are one of the most interesting subjects that draw our attention. Although the legends are said to be stories that have been told over a long period of time with no proof of existence, the legends told in Turkey about these rocks are so logical and authentic that whoever experiences them find themselves deeply affected. When having a look at the map of the petrifaction legends told in Turkey, you
realize how common they are, especially in the east, southeast, and northeast of Turkey. The bride, groom, bride and groom, camel, dragon, and wedding procession rocks are the elements integrated with the petrifaction legends. Both listening to the legends from the local people and seeing the related rocks can be a good opportunity for visitors who are interested in cultural heritage. In this study, we have tried to draw attention to the petrifaction legends told in Turkey and the related elements (rocks) in terms of tourism. It is hoped that it will contribute to Turkish culture and tourism.

Cultured Wilderness and Wild Culture:

Noted landscape architect and urban planner Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., laid out Highland Park, part of one of four park systems that he designed and implemented in the US (the others are in Boston, Buffalo, and Louisville)…the park was founded as an arboretum for the display of a collection of exotic—as well as native—trees and shrubs donated by the nursery firm of Ellwanger and Barry…To an extent this is an open-air museum, illustrating a certain historic biome, which can no longer exist unaided. At the water tanks, however, there is no discernible orderliness in the arrangement or succession of imagery produced, apparently, by individuals perhaps more or less motivated by an anarchic attitude or even ideology.


Samuel Untermyer purchased what was then the Greystone Estate in 1899, and in 1915, he hired William Welles Bosworth, a École des Beaux Arts-trained architect and landscape designer, to createthe “greatest gardens in the world.” The centerpiece is the Walled Persian Garden, inspired by the Indo-Persian gardens of the ancient world, which, in turn, were inspired by descriptions of the Garden
of Eden.


Just as those of us who live up north like to protest that “there’s more to New York than New York City,” I like to say there’s
more to Upstate than wild rivers and rugged mountain peaks. There’s plenty going on culturally as well…. pancake breakfasts during maple syrup season, fish fries during Lent, chicken barbecues all summer long, harvest
dinners in the fall, and chicken and biscuit suppers and spaghetti dinners in the winter months. There are outdoor events all year long—maple festivals in the spring; firemen’sfield days, fireworks, parades, and county fairs in the summer; college homecomings and hunting club gatherings in the fall.