Week in Pictures for July 13

Here is a slide show of photographs from the past week in New York City and the region. Subjects include the enduring stickball tradition in East Harlem, night kayaking in Jamaica Bay and a rare white bison in Litchfield County, Conn.

This weekend on “The New York Times Close Up,” an inside look at the most compelling articles in Sunday’s Times, Clyde Haberman, guest host, will speak with The Times’s Michael M. Grynbaum, Al Baker, David W. Chen and Thomas Kaplan. Also appearing: Michael Armstrong and Deborah Kenny. Tune in at 10 p.m. on Saturday or 10 a.m. on Sunday on NY1 News to watch.

A sampling from the City Room blog is featured daily in the main print news section of The Times. You may also browse highlights from the blog and reader comments, read current New York headlines, become a New York Metro fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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A Century and a Half Later, Paying Respect to 10 Soldiers

For 164 years, the granite block marked “Mexico” lay mostly undisturbed in the historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Wooden plaques placed to commemorate the men buried around it had rotted away. A low-hanging tree grew above it.

With its circular rough patch, iron urn and cryptic inscription, the block was a mystery to the cemetery workers who came across it several years ago. It took some searching through cemetery archives for the cemetery historian, Jeff Richman, to determine that 10 men — 8 veterans of the Mexican-American War and 2 who brought their bodies back to New York in 1848 — were buried around the granite block.

On Friday, 164 years to the day when the first coffins in the group were interred, cemetery officials and a military color guard unveiled bronze plaques for the men. Six military flag bearers and a drummer marched up Battle Hill from the cemetery’s main gates, stopping at the block. A trumpeter played the national anthem and taps as a guard stood over the new plaques.

Of the five men who were first buried in the lot, the best known was Lt. Col. Charles Baxter, who was so eager to fight that he quit his original regiment to join New York’s First Regiment, to which most of the veterans in Green-Wood’s Mexico lot belonged. (Baxter Street in Manhattan is named for him.) Placed near him were Lt. Edgar Chandler, who was mortally wounded at Churubusco, Capt. James Barclay, who died of exposure, and Lt. Charles Gallagher, who died of sickness near Mexico City.

New York City’s Common Council, the equivalent of today’s City Council, asked Lt. Alexander Forbes to find their remains in Mexico and bring them back to New York. He got as far as New Orleans with the coffins before dying of a fever. A soldier who found him sick in New Orleans, Lt. Robert Floyd, brought Lieutenant Forbes’s body and the four others back to New York by steamship.

According to historical accounts, the five men received a grand funeral. Their coffins were raised on biers in front of City Hall, where 20,000 people, including the mayors of New York, Brooklyn and Albany, gathered to hear the son of former President Martin Van Buren eulogize the men. Flags flew at half-staff and city streets closed for the procession into Green-Wood.

Sometime later, however, one of the people the city had charged with building an obelisk over the graves made off with the money for the monument. Instead, only the plain granite block that was intended as the base for the monument memorialized the deaths. “The visitor is impressed by its unfinished and neglected state,” a 1901 article in The New York Times observed.

In the days and years after the funeral, seven more soldiers were interred around the Mexico block. One was later moved to a different plot, as was Lieutenant Chandler. The others were Lt. John Kline, Capt. Morton Fairchild, Private Alfred Lombard, Lt. Francis Boyle and James McCabe, who all fought in the Mexican-American War, and Lieutenant Floyd, who died of fever in Panama in 1849.

About 40 veterans of the Mexican-American War are buried at Green-Wood, where there are also the graves of about 3,800 Civil War veterans and many famous New Yorkers.

Today, the Mexican-American War, which lasted from 1846 to 1848, is known primarily for inflaming the tensions over territorial acquisition and slavery that would lead to the Civil War. Though the Mexican-American War inspired intense patriotism, it was controversial even at the time: abolitionists accused the Army of provoking Mexican aggression in an attempt to acquire future slave territory. Mexico eventually ceded the territory of Texas to the United States, among a number of concessions.

For Mr. Richman, who is also directing a project to identify Civil War graves in Green-Wood, the Mexico lot is one of the many bits of history waiting to be brought out of obscurity in the vast cemetery.

“We still walk around and say, ‘Wow, I never saw that before,’” he said. “I’m glad we were able to do the right thing here.”

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Some things to consider this summer

As you make every effort to avoid the sweltering heat of the summer, we at CRI are continuing our push to expand awareness of CRI to the public, the vast majority of whom are unaware of our existence, and who often confuse us with the Caesar Rodney School District.

We recently added Dr. Chris Casscells to our employee list as the Director of the new Center for Healthcare Policy. Our role is to explain to the Delawarean public how the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will affect them, and what types of changes we feel Delaware needs to help provide affordable care to those who need it without an individual mandate, a raise in taxes, or a decrease in the quality of care.We hope to reach out to the entire state to provide not only critiques of the PPACA,but also solutions.

We are continuing our efforts in Education to promote school choice as an alternative form of education in the state. We were pleased Delaware tabled a bill last month which would have required new charter schools to seek permission from the public school districts they are in to form. That would be like Wendy’s needing to ask Burger King if it would be OK to put a new Wendy’s on the same block as the Burger King. You know how well that will go.

The Energy policy for the state could be much better. Our expert testimony provided to John Nichols of Middletown has led him to file a suit against Governor  Markell and five members of the Public Service Commission he feels did not due their due diligence to vet Bloom Energy’s “energy servers” to verify their danger to Delaware’s environment. He also has filed suit (see blog post below) against the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board, the same board which rejected Mr. Nichol’s appeal for standing. We will continue following the lawsuit, and we will relay all information to you as things unfold.


The economy is the same as it’s been for the past 4 years. Out of control spending in Washington bleeds down to the state level, which is fueled by overspending from Delaware’s government. The state deficit has reach about $16 billion. The legislature is out for the year, but in an election year, we will see how voters react to both the state and national situation. The economy has stalled for several months, and it may be a while before it picks up.

SO that leaves us with: What things should you consider?

First off, it’s important to continue reading our analyses as we dissect and explain the issues and how they affect you. Share our website or our data with friends, family, or anyone else in your life that is able to vote. Let them know things are not always so rosy when you take the sunglasses off, and that significant changes must be made both in government and in policy.

The second thing to do is to see how reforms, or lack of them, have impacted other states. Example: Wisconsin under Scott Walker reduced corporate and business taxes. Illinois under Pat Quinn raised them. Wisconsin’s budget deficit has shrunk and the economy has turned around while Illinoi’s continues to flounder and the state goes bankrupt. Now consider how Delaware’s elected officials make decisions and decide for yourself which ideas are good and which ones don’t work. Then, go out and support policies which work and oppose policies which don’t, and remind your elected officials of their promises they made in the last election, with a reminder you will vote them out if they have not kept their promises


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