The Outdoors Blog

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo | Voyages Along the California Coast

February 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Sailing under the flag of Portugal, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo is the man credited with the exploration of most of the western coast of North America. He is the first recorded European to land in what is present day California, and by many accounts discovered the area we know as San Diego.

He was sailing under Hernan Cortez in New Spain, which we would know as Mexico today, and he was part of an expedition seeking gold. Cabrillo’s history is full of turmoil, benefitting greatly from slave labor as he moved from land to land. He was considered a self-made man, but history exposes the bloodshed surrounding him. Lucrative contracts, paved in slave labor and brutal crackdowns, financed his newest expeditions.

Not all of his expeditions involved such brutality, and his exploration of the California coast showed his diplomatic side. Befriending natives gave him valuable intelligence on which tribes were positioned along the coasts, who would be friendly, and where he could find uninhabited land like Anacapa Island.

He also discovered Xexo, which is today’s Santa Barbara County. It was ruled by an old woman who led her tribe to war against the Xucu who occupied Ventura County. Although they found Point Reyes, they missed the entrance to the San Francisco Bay. He’d established extensive trade routes by that point and looked to make landfall for supplies and repairs.

He was attacked by natives, and is said to have cut his shin on jagged rock while trying to make landfall and fight them. He died January 3rd, 1543 of a gangrene infection.

James Provence is an avid reader and blogger of history. Retired Archbishop James Provence currently resides in Vacaville.

The Contentious Construction of the Time Warner Center

November 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

By Samuel Phineas Upham

Today, the Time Warner Center is like the second coming of One World Trade Center to many native New Yorkers. It was the first skyscraper to complete construction since the September 11th terrorist attacks, and it has become an important symbol for a city trying to rebuild after the aftermath of an incredible tragedy.

It nearly didn’t happen, or at least faced long delays before construction could begin. The land was owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which was entertaining a bid from Mortimer Zuckerman’s Boston Properties. The company wanted to build two buildings that were 63 stories in height across the 4.5 acre area. Donald Trump also attempted to bid for the land, pitching a building that would have been more than 1600 feet in height.

Boston won the bid with $455 million, but the development ran into intense opposition. A good portion of that opposition was inspired by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who brought up concerns that it would cast long shadows over Central Park. That debate led to a court ruling declaring the initial plans did violate city zoning ordinances. Even in 2000, when the Coliseum was finally demolished, construction of the building still lagged. Construction began in 2001, just before the terrorist attacks. At the time, it was criticized for the resemblance to the Twin Towers. This was by coincidence, but the towers stood as a reminder of what New York had lost never the less.

The building is so large that it has 10 street addresses, although, Trump was quite bitter about his loss. Upon its completion, he hung a sign on Trump International Hotel that said “Your views aren’t so great, are they? We have the real Central Park views and address.”

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Twitter.

Who Burned the HMS Gaspee?

August 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

By Phin Upham

During the Seven Years War, the British customs service in the North American colonies used particularly violent means to get what it wanted. Britain didn’t do a lot to resolve these issues, mostly because it was at war for much of this period, and it didn’t deem the risk to its colonies strategic enough to pursue any deeper.

After the War, Britain seemed to make problems worse by purchase several schooners that would be in charge of collecting taxes and fees from the American colonists. The Seven Years War had put a major dent in the British economy, and the country was looking to recoup its losses. It turned its efforts on the New World, which was supposed to be a profitable trade avenue.

One of the vessels policing the colonies was the HMS Gaspee, captained by Lieutenant William Dudingston. In 1772, the boat was on its way to Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. It was there that Dudingston would meet Joseph Bucklin, a restaurant owner in Rhode Island.

Unbeknownst to Dudingston and crew, the destruction of the HMS Gaspee was most likely plotted either at that restaurant or at Bucklin’s home, located a few blocks away.

It was dawn of June 10th in 1772 when Bucklin and his men boarded the Gaspee. They took Dudingston’s crew by surprise, and Dudingston himself was wounded during the conflict. Bucklin had fired the single shot of the conflict, as Dudingston’s crew had put up only feeble resistance.

The ship was sacked and burned, which would not go unpunished by the British. The attackers were declared treasonous, and were to stand trial in England. In the end, the British decided they did not have the resources to try and case and instead decided to levy taxes on the colonists.

Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Facebook page.

The First Shots of the Revolutionary War

July 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

By Phineas Upham

The outbreak of war in North America came suddenly on April 19, 1775. The stirrings of a battle occurred in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay. The battle would be fought across two towns, Lexington and Concord, and it was the start of the armed conflict between Great Britain and the thirteen colonies that formed British America.

War had been brewing for some time, but no one had declared it or shown any outward public aggression. Below the surface, political tensions ran hot. Colonists had formed a shadow government and were planning events to revolt against the British. In the wake of the Boston Tea Party, it became clear to the British government that an uprising was in the cards.

The morning of April 19th, as the sun crested over the town of Lexington, the first shots of the American Revolutionary War rang out across the plains. The militia fought bravely, but were outnumbered by the British, who had received reinforcements from the Suffolk Reserves.

The conflict continued intermittently throughout the day, with the outnumbered colonists repeatedly withdrawing only to fire on the British from a different position with greater cover. The British became frustrated fighting these guerilla tactics, and the Americans drove the British into a tactical withdrawal to Charlestown.

Both sides sustained heavy casualties during the fighting, and the British almost lost several high ranking officers in the process. Unfortunately, an absentminded British American man assisted the army in finding their location and aiding in their withdrawal.

About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.