Sixteen Questions

By now, you all know that I am a pathological New Yorker. I love how I can imbibe at the Lenox Lounge where Billie Holiday once crooned her soulful stylings. I can sit in the same café where García Lorca’s ink flowed freely, or have a Dorothy Parker style soirée at The Algonquian. There is always a place to revisit or rediscover, and although it is always reinventing itself, more than being defined by the new, The City’s energy is undeniably fueled by its history. To call New York captivating is an absolute understatement. Which reminds me…I was finally able to make it to Delmonico’s just in time for Restaurant Week. An Art Nouveau lover’s paradise, I was able to catch a glimpse of the Mark Twain room, which is currently undergoing restoration. It was awe-inspiring to stand in the same room the laureate author once dined.

This brings me to the topic of historical legacy on the Island. On the eve of August 16th, the date that marks La Restauración de la República, the questions pertaining historical preservation loom. As the summer comes to an end, my York friends who are planning to travel to the Island contacted me in hopes that I can direct them to some the historical landmarks that reaffirm our identity as dominicanos. I gladly acquiesced, but when I suggested the places I already know, more questions about the common places that tell a story about the people emerge. For the first time, I am speechless perplexed. Aside from La Casa de Las Hermanas Mirabal in Salcedo, I honestly couldn’t produce a list of the everyday places or artifacts that speak to the pulse of a given historical moment. [1] As  I quietly sipped my rusty nail, I am reminded of the depressing eso ta’ quedao ethos of the Island, where that café that you absolutely love today, is gone tomorrow because it is no longer en boga.

It is why I wish to elicit some answers from of my fellow brethren Islanders:

  1. Is there a restaurant or tavern where Duarte met with the Trinitarios (and perhaps over a casual beer) plotted the independence of the Dominican Republic?
  2. In whose living room did María Trinidad Sánchez and Concepción Bona sew el Pabellón Tricolor
  3.  Where is the house where members of el Movimiento 14 de Junio first met?
  4.  Where is the original copy of Emilio Prud’homme’s and José Reyes’ musical composition of el Himno Nacional?
  5.  What happened to Trujillo’s Casa de Caoba?
  6.  What place marked the first slave revolt on the Island?
  7.  Where is Núñez de Cáceres’ house?
  8.  Who has the costumes used in La Feria de la Paz?
  9.  Where are Juan Bosch’s short story handwritten drafts?
  10.  Who is in possession of Balaguer’s library?
  11.  Is there a hand-drafted constitution written by the forefathers?
  12.  Where can one find the original manuscripts of Pedro Henríquez Ureña?
  13.  Does Salomé Ureña’s original school still exist?
  14.  Does anyone have a collection of turn of the century garments?
  15.  Who has a comprehensive photo and film library the captures the Islands historical vitality?
  16. Is there a person or a group who is starting a movimiento de conservación histórica nacional?

The historical fabric of a city is contingent upon the drive its inhabitants have to preserve it. Happy Día de la Restauración dominicana!


[1] Most of the historical documentation pertaining to the colonization is in Casa de las Indias in Seville and access to these documents is granted to scholars.

14 responses to “Sixteen Questions

  1. This is an awesome article!!! I think you should take this article and make it a quest for answers… I know I would absolutely be interested in learning where in the world is Dominican Republic’s history?

  2. Nuala… I don’t know if I should cry or get angered or both. Every time I go to the Island and I see those beautiful old Gazcue houses being destroyed to build the modern “torres” I want to punch someone. We are so quick to admire Paris or Madrid but we don’t take care of our back yard.

  3. This should be interesting. Tanta m***da que habla la gente de aya about ohhh I am a real dominican bla blah blah yet the more I got to the Island, the more it looks like a strip mall. That link you posted a while back about “ice skating” proves that even though they hate new york, they sooo want to make it into another one.

  4. Uuuuuuffff, good questions there! All I can say is Trujillo’s house in San Cristobal is in ruins. Regarding Balaguer’s library, it was donated to the UNPHU, or at least most of it. It should be in the UNPHU’s library.

    Regarding the questions below, if they’re not in the Museo Nacional de Historia y Geografia, I don’t know who could have them.
    4. Where is the original copy of Emilio Prud’homme’s and José Reyes’ musical composition of el Himno Nacional?
    8. Who has the costumes used in La Feria de la Paz?
    11. Is there a hand-drafted constitution written by the forefathers?
    12. Where can one find the original manuscripts of Pedro Henríquez Ureña?
    14. Does anyone have a collection of turn of the century garments?
    15. Who has a comprehensive photo and film library the captures the Islands historical vitality?

    On this last one:
    16.Is there a person or a group who is starting a movimiento de conservación histórica nacional?
    There’s a group that started El Museo de la Resistencia. It does not cover our whole history, but at least Trujillo’s part of history. I believe it was started by the Leon family and it is in “La Zona Colonial” http://www.museodelaresistencia.org/

  5. Correccion, el grupo Vicini dono el local, pero el resto fue un esfuerzo de un grupo de dominicanos interesados en preservar la memoria de aquellos que hicieron resistencia desde la invasion norteamericana de 1916 hasta los tiempos de la Revolucion del ’65.
    http://www.museodelaresistencia.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=330&Itemid=247

  6. Damn girl! You threw me into the deep end of the pool with this one. How about a Dominican baseball hall of fame? A museo del merengue? C’mom people… anybody out there with more ideas? Let’s make it happen!

  7. I should be able to answer some of these questions but I will try to contact someone with more details

  8. Thanks for the book cover and for the insight JDSF. It’s time to turn off the bachata and turn the pages!!!

  9. CCNY in the house

    Nuala, thanks for visiting!

  10. The problem with education in the Dominican Republic in general is that there isn’t enough responsibility in the formative process. A country with the memory of a goldfish doesn’t need to learn from its history as It would much rather campaign for “Narco-Presidents” and sit down in the corner store downing beers and Brugal on a daily basis whilst talking about baseball and their corrupt politics. mind you, there is a lot of problem solving blabber that goes on while chugging on their over-glorified pilsner style brew, but all solutions are lost to their last burp.

    But i’m also concerned as to your fairness in writing and posting this article. you can’t compare the infrastructure set by a “first world country” by the greatest city in the world, NYC, with a caribbean underdeveloped half-island nation. Then again, I know for a fact that a very scary high percentage of New Yorkers are ignorant fools as a result of the very poor educational system and the Crack epidemic of the 80’s.

    I do have one, rather 16 for you NUALA, could
    EVERY New Yorker answer any of the following questions correctly?

    1.- What is the name of the native american tribe that sold Manhattan to the dutch back in the day? are there any of them left in the Empire Sate?
    2.- i know there is a New York historical society. Could
    EVERY New Yorker point me towards it? is anyone allowed in?
    3.- Who puts all the fluoride in the New York Water supply? is this just a conspiracy theory?
    4.- Will the world indeed end in 2012?
    5.- is it true that the Mosque in the WTC area will start celebrating gay weddings upon opening?
    6.- Why is the subway so dirty?
    7.- Will bedbugs ever leave tiny over-packed New York Closets?
    8.- Who made the first New York Pizza? is there a New York Pizza Museum?
    9.- can the electricity consumed by the ad-signs in Times square be enough to solve the power crisis in the Dominican Republic?
    10.- What is the stock market anyway?
    11.- Who cleans the barf off the streets after the st. Patricks day parade?
    12.- Why do you need a special security clearance in order to visit the Statue of Liberty?
    13.- do gays still cruise in The Rambles in Central Park?
    14.- does Mayor Bloomberg really speak spanish or is it just his TelePrompTer feeding him that jibberish?
    15.- are the muppets ever coming back to Radio City Music Hall?
    16.- and last but not least, Where in the World is Carmen SAn Diego?

    I managed to conduct an inquiry here in the Bronx and not one of the interviewed subjects was able to answer any of these previous questions correctly.

  11. Interesting take on things and I do believe you have hit on something we all realize but feel we are powerless to correct. For Example: Santiago is losing it Victorian downtown the “old” Santiago….between one day and the next a building is torn down and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Few persons are interested or see the future of improving or dedicating time to restoring and making these old buildings into something worth seeing.

    Of course in Santiago, there are not many really old buildings after the fire in 1863 or so…

  12. The house in which the 14th of June movement first met was Patria Mirabal’s house. It was disassembled along with Maria Teresa’s after their murder. The materials were used by the head of the SIM in Santiago to build a house on what is now Ave. Estrella Sahala. This building was burned by protesters after the Trujillo’s left the country. I read this in Dede’s memoirs “Vivas en su Jardin”.

  13. Pingback: It’s happening! | Nuala Knows

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