October 24th in New York City History - Happy BDay UN, GWB, Kevin Kline, and
Posted: Oct 24, 2012 | 2:56 PM
1891: Madison Square Garden's first six-day bike race rolls. Racers often fell off their bikes or suffered hallucinations, which attracted a greater audience. Bill Martin won, pedaling over 1,466 miles. His prize: $3000.
1904: Moss Hart, Broadway music theatre director and writer would have celebrated his birthday today . He did in 1961. Kitty Carlisle Hart dishes on him here.
1915: Batman's creator, Bob Kane, who was an alum of Cooper Union and the Art Students League, was born. Batman, inspired by Leonardo DaVinci's inventions, was not armed by super powers, but by wealth, obsession, and invention. The Jewish Museum had a powerful exhibit about Jewish super hero creators.
1931: The George Washington Bridge spanning 90% of a mile across the wide Hudson River, connecting New York City and New Jersey, was dedicated. It carries over 100 million cars per year, and in its day was twice the length of the previous longest bridge in the world, and it is still among the longest and most traveled.
If you would like to drive across, it will cost you $12 into Manhattan or $7.50 on EasyPass.
It towers 600 feet over the water, and its roadway clearance is 200 feet above the water.
It was mostly created by great bridge New York engineer Othmar Ammann, who broke another bridge record at the end of his career with the Verrazano bridge, as well as Cass Gibert of Supreme Court, Minnesota State Capitol, and New York's Woolworth (world's tallest building 1913-1930) and Customs House buildings fame.
Gilbert's design would have encased the towers in granite and concrete stonework with restaurants on top.
Depression era costs forced the bridge to be its engineering steel framework, which inspired Le Corbusier, who described “the most beautiful bridge in the world ... When your car moves up the ramp the two towers rise so high that it brings you happiness; their structure is so pure, so resolute, so regular that here, finally, steel architecture seems to laugh.”
1939: F. Murray Abraham the Broadway actor best known in the 1980s for his role as Salieri, the star of Amadeus, after which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for this role in the lush film about living in Mozart's wake by Columbia Professor Milos Forman. DaPonte, another Columbia Professor was Mozart's librettist.
I love featuring this bridge on foliage tours up the Hudson River to Revolutionary War sights and West Point. It can also be part of an Upper Manhattan Tour or Washington Heights tour.
1945: The United Nations opens.
The UN is far from perfect, but, like democracy, it is the best of the worst alternatives. Tip: if you make a joke while addressing the General Assembly, you will get laughs at six different times, since they are translated.
1949: The United Nations' New York City complex opens, dedicated by President Truman in 26 languages. The property, worth over $8 million, was donated by the Rockefellers, whose international business benefits from international peace. If you see international flags flying at Rockefeller Center, that signifies that the UN General Assembly is in session.
I recommend a 1-hour tour of the UN. It is, sometimes, depressing, but who else addresses childhood hunger, landmines, and water quality. The tour also has beautiful architecture. As usual, it exits through the gift shop. If you want to mail a postcard from there, you will need a United Nations stamp. It is international territory. That is why enemies of the United States are able to meet there.
1947: Broadway favorite Kevin Kline celebrates his birthday.
1960: It is Broadway and Law & Order SVU's B.D. Wong's birthday. You can learn about his impressive career, much of it in NYC here.
1962: James Brown's recorded an electrifying performance for "Live at the Apollo," his self-financed breakthrough album, which spent 66 weeks on Billboard's album chart, selling over a million copies. This album is a pioneer of live music recordings for pop music.
Brown lied in state at the Apollo Theater, which I show folks on my Harlem Tours.
1972: Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodger great and first African American to play major league baseball, and Hall of Famer, died at 53. I love CitiField's Jackie Robinson rotunda,
which makes me want to be a better man: "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
1976: The New York City Marathon goes Five-Borough. Bill Rodgers won a fourth time in a row in 2:10:10, a local record, besting Frank Shorter. Miki Gorman led the women. In those days, the event did not have enough influence to close Fifth Avenue, so they raced on the FDR Drive. The runners had to climb two flights of stairs to reach it!
My father and mother joined the Marathon team as publicists, getting it local and international press coverage. As a child, I would run, or distribute, press results as they came in. That it is how I used to run (for) the NY Marathon!
1994: Raul Julia, the Broadway actor and humanitarian left us too soon. I saw him perform at Shakespeare in the Park for free. Was he Othello?