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September 27th in NYC History

Posted: Sep 27, 2012 | 12:22 AM

1840:  American political cartoonist, symbol maker, and cultural avatar Thomas Nast born in Bavaria.  His immigrant heritage brought to NYC influenced his images of Santa Claus as a benevolent fat, jolly, generous friend of children. 

It is all in my NYC Santa Claus tour!  People are already booking it.

To some extent, Nast's Northern European Santa Claus was a rebuke to
Irish Catholics whose politics, and probably religion, he didn't admire.  His Bavarian-influenced Santa Claus has a lot more to do with German forest mythology than the Catholic Sainted Bishop, Nicholas of Myra (Asia Minor). 

Nast's caricatures of Boss Tweed, the Sachem of the Irish dominated
Democrat political machine, Tammany Hall, was brought down by Nast's cartoons.

Other Nast creations:  the Democratic Donkey and the Republican
Elephant
.  Originally these images were symbols of ridicule and scorn, but the parties adopted them.

A political symbol beyond politics is Nast's creation Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam and Santa Claus joined the North in the Civil War, which was opposed by Irish Catholics in New York City.

(In my Santa Claus tour we learn about how Santa Claus joined the
American side in the War of 1812
, but that was before Nast's time.
)

Nast's life illustrates the power of images, symbols, heritage and sentimentality to change society.  His life in New York City, as the media capitol of the United States, made his talent's impact possible.


1889:  Happy Birthday, Skyscrapers!  The first steel skeleton skyscraper, the thirteen-story Tower Building, opened at 50 Broadway. It was made possible by a steel skeleton, elevators and a thick bedrock foundation.  The public thought that building so high on such a small lot would destroy the building and endanger lives, but Architect Bradford Gilbert prevailed on the Buildings Department using models demonstrating its weight and wind resilience.  But it could not withstand the force of the real estate development flood that it inspired.  The historic edifice is gone, demolished!


1894:  Aqueduct Raceway opens.


1954:  The "Tonight!" show debuts on NBC TV, hosted by Steve Allen.  This is the longest running entertainment program in television.


1963:  Columbia Lou Gehrig's coach, Andy Coakley dies in NYC at 80. 
Coakley played a pro season pitching for the Highlanders, and coached at Columbia from 1914-1951 (except 1919), garnering a 306-289-11 record.


1972:  Happy Birthday Gwyneth Paltrow.


2009:  William Saffire, wordsmith, dies.




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