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October 1st in NYC History:

Posted: Oct 1, 2012 | 1:39 PM
1781:  James Lawrence, the Captain who would not go down without the ship before dying during the War of 1812 at the age of 31 in 1813, was born this day.


1905:  The Institute of Musical Art, today's Julliard School, opens.  The nation's first and most prestigious performing arts school (now also dance and drama)
was founded by Franz Lizst's godson who directed the NYC Public School's Music program.


1907:  The first metered taxicabs roll the streets of NYC.


1920:  Walter Matthau the actor was born

I show off his high school, Seward Park, on my Lower East Side walking tours.


1953:  John Marin the lively watercolorist and painter of the Brooklyn Bridge and New York City's skyline died at 82.  Marin also painted in New England.


1961:  New York Yankee Roger Maris hits 61 home runs in a season, breaking Babe Ruth's record since 1927.  In the last game of the regular season, Maris hit his record-making home run against the Boston Red Sox, winning the game 1-0.  The New York Times described the moment of the hit: "An ear-splitting roar went up as the crowd sensed that this was it." Maris took his victory lap, shook hands with a little rascal who ran onto the field, took a few bows, and returned to the bench.  Maris' record held until 1998.


1962:  Johnny Carson takes over as host of The Tonight Show for three decades.  Young comedians debuts on the show could make or break their careers.  After his first decade in NYC, the show moved to Burbank, California in 1972.


1969:  Comedian and actor Zach Galifianakis born.


1977:  Over 75,000 fans at Giants Stadium see soccer legend Pele play his 22-year career's final game.


1985  E.B. White died at 86.  The great writer and New Yorker editor penned Charlotte's Web and Here is New York.


1995:  "Blind Sheik" Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine henchmen are convicted in "the Landmarks Plot." 

It was a precursor to the Mumbai Attack a decade-and-a-half later.  They wanted to attack a luxury hotel, the United Nations, their heliport, and local tunnels and bridges as the terrorized diplomats and then populace attempted to escape. 

The attack was foiled in June 1993, a few months after the 2/26/93 World Trade Center bombing. 

A joint taskforce of the NYPD and the FBI had an informant wearing a video recorder.  I recall that the two law enforcement agencies' personnel came to blows, since the FBI wanted the plot to thicken so they could get a better prosecution case.  The NYPD broke in just as the terrorists were mixing the chemicals for the explosives.  They know people who live in NYC and didn't want to risk them dying for convictions.

It is alleged that the FBI infiltrated and aided the 1993 WTC Attack, but then dropped the investigation after a management change.

A neighbor of mine, down my block, was one of the convicted plotters.  I have a strange tale of my encounter with his mother-in-law and wife, two former Jews, converted to fundamentalist Islam, who haggled with me over my heirlooms.  Jimmy Breslin covered this incident, one of my life's great regrets.

I spoke with the Landmarks Plotter's lawyer, William Kunstler, about how he could represent such terrorists, since he lived in Manhattan.  He told me that they weren't seriously able to do it.  He said that part of the evidence was that they had a map of Manhattan with a red circle around it.  After the 9/11/01 Attacks, Kunstler's law partner, Ron Kuby, stated that in the 1990s they were naive about this group's dangers.


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