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November 18th in NYC History - endings, beginnings, and achievements with some quirky facts and reflections

Posted: Nov 17, 2012 | 9:58 PM

1776... A dark day in the American Revolution: Fort Washington becomes Fort Knyphausen.  (See November 16th for background.)

1865... Young Samuel Clemens' / Mark Twain's story,

"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,"

is published in the New York Saturday Press,

leapfrogging the writer's career. 

It is based on an American past-time, competitive frog jumping.

Here is the entire story/essay.

1886...  Chester Arthur, the 21st president of the United States, died in New York at age 56

1928...  Walt Disney's "Steamboat Willie" starring Mickey Mouse, premiered in New York
It was the first major animated cartoon, I love the rhythm of cartoons from that era, the way they bounce up and down and boogie.  I call them Art Deco Cartoons.

1931... The Whitney Museum of American Art, founded by

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, opens

on West 8th Street in Greenwich Village
, its original location. 

Since the mid-1960s it has been on Madison Ave around 74th St., (near where I saw Gossip Girl being filmed).

The Whitney is preparing to return Downtown to the old Meatpacking District by the beginning of the High Line. 

It is expanding to around 400,000 square feet, or four Walmarts, or 40,000 square meters.
The Whitney is the first 20th Century American Art Museum.

Here's an interesting fact:  NYC's great art museums of the 1930s had a gentleman's agreement about what each should and should not collect.  The Met: only international classical art, the Museum of Modern Art: European modern art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art. 

Well, we can see how that agreement went, like the contemporary Kellogg-Briand Pact ended war by making war illegal.

1946... Dapper Mayor Jimmy Walker, "Beau James," dies
 As Mayor from 1926-1932, he embodied the Jazz Age 1920s,

tolerated speakeasies, previously was an entertainer, and enjoyed his gambling palace in Central Park during his Mayoralty. 

Tammany corruption caught up with him.  Police in cahoots with false witnesses were wrongfully arresting people, mostly Harlem women, for no reason except to extort bribes to keep them from jail. 

Walker fled to Europe with his showgirl paramour who he later married.  Walker returned to NYC when things
cooled off a bit for him.

1949... Jackie Robinson, Brooklyn Dodgers Second Baseman, chosen National League Most Valuable Player after leading the league in batting (.342), stealing 37 bases, and 121 Runs Batted In (RBI), winning the Dodgers the Pennant

1953... Happy Birthday to actor and comedian Kevin Nealon
from "Saturday Night Live."

1959...Ben Hur  has its world premiere at Loew's State Theater in Manhattan
.  It won a record eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

1961... Columbia Football ties for Ivy League Championship with Harvard.  This rare exception belies yesterday's Columbia entry.

1968... Happy Birthday to retired Yankee and Met Gary Sheffield.

1972... NY Knicks have the best comeback in NBA history, scoring the last 19 points versus the Milwaukee Bucks 87-86 at Madison Square Garden.

1974... Happy Birthday Chloe Sevigny, HBO star and SoHo boutique owner.

1978...  Billy Joel's
"52nd Street" tops the Billboard pop chart, his first #1 album.  It will win the Grammy for Album of the Year.

1980... Conn Smythe, builder of great hockey teams, dies.   His management built the NY Rangers Hockey Team, leading to two Stanley Cups (1928 and 1933).  Then he went to Toronto to create the competitive Maple Leafs, and built their arena.  [Tangentially: NYC lost Urban Preservation Pioneer Jane Jacobs to Toronto, too.  She was more of a ballet fan, though.]

1992... Spike Lee's Malcolm X premiers
A couple of years before that I was on line at the Public Theater to watch rare documentaries about Malcolm, and the great director was right behind me.  Imagine me, in the voice sounding like what was to be Sponge Bob, exclaiming: "Spike LEE!  I just LOOOOVE your movies!"  He buried his head in the New York Post's sportspages.  I learned to cool it around famous people.  It is the New York Code of Conduct.

2011...  The Bronx' Regis Philbin retires after 28 years hosting Live! with Regis & Kathie/Kelly.


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