Here on the eve of Thanksgiving, is another look at a story about one of the great philanthropists of Queens. His regard for his workers and his community should be a model for us today. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
In these days of the “one percenters,” and the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, it’s easy to make comparisons to the days of the Robber Barons of the late 19th century. That time was very similar to ours, in many ways. The late 19th century was a time in American history when consumers first began to show their power. Manufacturers of all kinds always produced what people needed, but for the first time in American history, they were now producing not just what was needed, but was wanted. The American obsession with consumer goods had begun.
The ability to purchase those things came from other societal changes, especially the rise of the middle class. It was now possible to work and make enough money to be able to afford some of the finer things in life. Entrepreneurs and inventors met those consumer needs, and great fortunes were made in producing all kinds of goods. Today, it seems that everything gets sent overseas to be manufactured, but 150 years ago, American factories were the lifeblood of cities and towns. Sometimes, an idea or product grew so large that an entire town grew up around it.