Ottoman New York

Episode 320

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The distance between the shores of the Ottoman Empire and New York City may be great, but, as this episode suggests, a great many connections exist between these places, too. This episode explores both the everyday lives of those hailing from the Ottoman domains over several centuries in the Big Apple, as well as the perceptions New Yorkers and Americans more generally had of the Ottoman Empire. Through visits to sites across the island of Manhattan, we shed light on the long and largely forgotten shared history of the Ottoman Empire and New York City, and we find it in unlikely places – such as a modest walk-up apartment on the Upper East Side – as well as in the shadow of New York landmarks like 1 World Trade Center and the Stonewall Inn.

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Contributor Bios

Bruce Burnside is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. His own podcast City Between can be found at
Sam Dolbee completed his Ph.D. in 2017 at New York University. His book project is an environmental history of the Jazira region in the late Ottoman period and its aftermath.

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Episode No. 320
Release Date: 24 June 2017
Recording Location: New York City
Audio editing by Chris Gratien and Seçil Yılmaz
New York City field recordings by Sam Dolbee
Music: from - Tetos Demetriades - Aman Elenio; Katibim (Üsküdar'a Gider iken) - Safiye Ayla; Baglamamin Dugumu - Necmiye Ararat and Muzaffer
from cdbpdx - Tanious Hamlewe - Taboule; Kahraman - Mankoushi Biziet
Images and bibliography courtesy of Bruce Burnside and Sam Dolbee


Below is a complete map of sites discussed in this episode

The mark of Anthony Jansen, the so-called "Troublesome Turk" of New Amsterdam. From Lamborn, Peter. Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs & European Renegadoes. Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1995. 
The foundation of the first city hall of New Amsterdam (in yellow brick). Photo by Sam Dolbee, 2017.
Washington Square, NY c1900-1920. Source: Detroit Publishing / Library of Congress

Washington Square (Greek revival houses at right), c1932. Source: Gottscho, Samuel H / Library of Congress

"8 WASHINGTON SQUARE AT EXTREME LEFT, 7 WASHINGTON SQUARE ADJOINING" Historic American Buildings Survey, c1933. Source: Library of Congress
The Greek revival and, as we suggest, anti-Ottoman columns of Washington Square North, which took Sam so long to describe in the podcast. Photo by Sam Dolbee, 2017.
"Civil War envelope showing Zouave soldier with American flag" Source: Library of Congress
Civil War Union Zouave soldiers, the NY 12th,  in formation at Franklin Square, Washington, D.C (11 June 1861). Image has been cropped. Original available via Library of Congress
The plaque in memory of Ephraim Elmer Ellsworth, Christopher Park, with Stonewall Inn in the background. Photo by Sam Dolbee, 2017.
"Syrian Colony Restaurant" (possibly bakery/pastry shop), c1916. Source: Bain / Library of Congress

"Syrian food seller" Manhattan, New York, c1915-1920. Source: Library of Congress 
"Syrian women" Manhattan, New York, c1916. Source: Bain / Library of Congress
Happy hour special at St. George Chapel, 103 Washington St. Photo by Sam Dolbee, 2017.
St. George Bar in the shadow of 1 World Trade Center, 103 Washington St. Photo by Sam Dolbee, 2017.
Full view of façade of St. George Bar, including image of St. George slaying dragon, 103 Washington St. Photo by Sam Dolbee, 2017.
This photo looks south, down Washington Street (with Rector Street running across it). and features Number 19 Rector Street (the skyscraper). Rector Street is the small street on the north side of the skyscraper. This building wraps around two small buildings, both on Rector Street facing the camera. The one in the middle of the street, is what I believe is the six-story tenement mentioned by the Sun, the building called the Orient, at number 17. It is in this building that the mosque would have been (on the third floor, just out of site). It has since been torn down and replaced. Photo from New York Public Library
New York Sun article from 25 February 1912, which includes a photo of the imam of the Rector Street mosque as well as a hadith that might also be translated "love of country is a part of faith."  
Birds clearly have little respect for a bench dedicated to Gibran Khalil Gibran amongst benches dedicated to other luminaries of Little Syria at Elizabeth H. Berger Plaza, located at Greenwich St and Edgar St. Photo by Sam Dolbee, 2017.

Earl Hall, home of Columbia University's Ottoman Student Club. Photo by Sam Dolbee, 2017
"Photograph shows Maneckji Nusserwanji Dhalla (1875-1956), an Indian theologian, writer, and Zoroastrian priest who toured the US in 1914; Professor Abraham Valentine Williams Jackson (1862-1937), a Columbia University expert on Indo-Iranian languages; Djelal (Celal) Munif Bey (d. 1919), the Turkish Consul General in New York and financier Henry Clews (1836-1923). The men were attending Commencement Day at Columbia University, New York City, June 3, 1914." Source: Bain / Library of Congress
Khalil Totah, a Columbia student in the 1910s. During World War I he would enlist in the US Armed Forces. Later he established schools back in Palestine. Photo from Jerusalem Quarterly

"Camel riding, Coney Island, N.Y." c1905. Source: Detroit Publishing / Library of Congress

Select Bibliography

Anthony Jansen

Hoppin, Charles Arthur. The Washington Ancestry, and records of the McClain, Johnson, and forty other colonial American families: prepared for Edward Lee McClain. Greenfield, OH: 1992.;view=1up;seq=139

Lamborn, Peter. Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs & European Renegadoes. Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1995.

Washington Square Park

Burrows, Edwin G. and Mike Wallace. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Earle, Edward Mead. “American Interest in the Greek Cause, 1821-1827.” The American Historical Review 33.1 (October 1927): 44-63.

Elmer Ellsworth

Dammann, Doug. “Elmer Ellsworth and His Zouaves.” HistoryNet, 5 October 2010.

Washington Street and Little Syria

Bowen, Patrick. “Satti Majid: A Sudanese Founder of American Islam.” Journal of Africana Religions 1.2 (2013): 194-209.

Fahrenthold, Stacy D. “Former Ottomans in the Ranks: Pro-Entente Recruitment among Syrians in the Americas, 1916-18.” Journal of Global History 11 (2016): 88-112.

“Is the Turk a White Man?” New York Times, 30 September 1909.

Jacobs, Linda K. “Gendering Birth and Death in the Nineteenth-Century Syrian Colony of New York City.” Mashriq and Mahjar 3.1 (July 2015): 65-78.

“Mohammedans Now Have a Place of Worship Here.” New York Sun, 25 February 1912.

Mokarzel, S.A. “Turkish Subjects. Declares that Prejudice Exists Against Their Becoming American Citizens.” New York Times, 3 October 1909.

Washington Street Historical Society:

Columbia University and the Ottoman Student Club

Columbia Spectator Archive:

Djevad Eyoub. “New Turkish Power. This War as the Beginning of an Ascending Curve in Ottoman History.” New York Times, 26 December 1915.

“Ottoman Club Entertained Mr. Loti.” Columbia Spectator, 11 October 1912.

“Ottoman Club Convenes. Hold Turkish Evening.” Columbia Spectator, 14 March 1914.

“Ottoman Students Form New Club.” Columbia Spectator, 4 November 1911.

House of Osman on the Upper East Side

Bernstein, Fred A. “Ertugrul Osman, Link to Ottoman Dynasty, Dies at 97.” New York Times, 24 September 2009.

Bernstein, Fred A. “Not Quite a Castle, but It’s Home.” New York Times, 26 March 2006.

Chaban, Matt A.V. “Her Throne Defunct, a Princess Fights Eviction From Her Manhattan Walk-Up.” New York Times, 4 August 2014.

“Ertugrul Osman.” The Telegraph, 27 September 2009.

Reiss, Tom. The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life. New York: Random House, 2005.


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