American Heritage

Articles from Vol. 56, No. 6, November-December

1930: Lewis Wins the Nobel
75 YEARS AGO ON NOVEMBER 5 Sinclair Lewis became the first American writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. The novelist had turned the 1920s into his personal hit parade with Main Street (1920), Babbitt (1922), Arrowsmith (1925), Elmer Gantry...
Cowboy Buckles
THE AMERICAN COWBOY, a bristly breed, had his image carefully groomed by early film studios, and one costumer's touch, the ornately engraved silver belt buckle, became a staple of Western wardrobes. Though they earned their fame on the movie screen,...
"Do You Want to See Her?" an Ambitious Young Magazine Editor and a Tormented Photographer Together Discovered a Marilyn Monroe Nobody Knew
ONE AFTERNOON IN 1955 1 WAS STARING INTO A GLASS OF SCOTCH AT the Gladstone Hotel in Manhattan. I had downed several, but they failed to subdue my panic. I was jammed up, and my only hope, sitting across the table and smiling serenely, was my friend...
"Filibuster"
THE SENATE TACTIC KNOWN AS A FILIBUSTER has been much in the news lately. Democrats used the filibuster to stall votes on the nominations of federal appeals court judges and John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations but usually employed the...
Firefighters: The People Who Stand Ready to Trade Their Lives for Ours Are Part of a Tradition That Goes Back 400 Years
IN THE DAYS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, a 77-year-old man from Teaneck, New Jersey, tried repeatedly to cross the George Washington Bridge. He was turned away. But he tried again, and again, until finally police...
Leonardo of Michigan: One of the Renaissance Master's Best Designs Is in Grand Rapids
HALF A MILLENNIUM AFTER HE flourished, Leonardo da Vinci is still making news. Earlier this year researchers found a previously unknown studio where Leonardo worked on some of his most famous paintings. His mystique is invoked in The Da Vinci Code,...
Running out of Oil: The Problem Is as Old as the Industry Itself
UNTIL HURRICANES BLEW IT OFF the front pages, the biggest economic story of the year was the rising price of oil. The media have been proclaiming gas prices to be the highest in history. In constant dollars, however, oil was more expensive as recently...
Singing City: Nashville's Rewards Go beyond Music
THESE DAYS AIRPORTS try to evoke some of the flavor of the communities they serve, and in Nashville the airport corridor leading from the arrival and departure gates is enlivened by walls full of linear posters, at once stark and vigorous, of country...
The Love Machine: Forty Years Ago a Pair of College Students Conjured Up the Earliest Form of Computer Dating
ONLINE MATCHMAKING SERVICES, SUCH AS Match.com and eHarmony, today attract millions of users willing to fill out questionnaires--and hand over cash--in the hope of finding love. Can computers really play Cupid? A lot of people seem to think so; eHarmony...
The Power of 2857: Fifty Years Ago This December, Rosa Parks Refused to Move to the Back of the Bus She Was Riding. Because She Wouldn't, the Whole Country Has Changed. but What Happened to the Bus?
WE CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT JAMES F. Blake must have been thinking when he pulled his bus into the yard of the Montgomery Bus Lines at the end of his run on December 1, 1955. For the most part, it had been a routine day's work, but that one incident where...
The Real First World War and the Making of America: It Has Taken Us Two and a Half Centuries to Realize Just How Important This Conflict Was
TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS AGO THIS winter, European courts and diplomats were moving ever closer to war. It would prove larger, more brutal, and costlier than anyone anticipated, and it would have an outcome more decisive than any war in the previous...
The Real Thing
THE NEW YORK CITY FIRE MUSEUM IS IN A century-old firehouse on Spring Street. Inside, there is some supremely handsome machinery: hand pumpers, steam pumpers with their heroic nickeled boilers, early internal-combustion-powered trucks whose squared-off...
When Labor Walks: What History Says about the New Split in the AFL-CIO
THE HOUSE OF LABOR HAS DIVIDED against itself once again, and predictions are rife that it is about to fall. When Andrew L. Stern led his Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and three other key unions out of the AFL-CIO during its convention...
Zorro
WAS ZORRO THE FIRST SUPERHERO OF American pop culture? He has certainly proved to be one of the most enduring, having lasted now for 86 years and spawned countless progeny and imitations. And 2005 may well be his biggest year yet. May saw the publication...