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November 20th in NYC History

Posted: Nov 19, 2012 | 10:44 PM

1775... The Continental Congress orders the militia to disarm Queens County British loyalists who refused to support the Revolution. 


1804... John Pintard, City Inspector and founder of America's first Life Insurance company, along with Mayor DeWitt Clinton and others, founded the New-York Historical Society at Old City Hall (where Federal Hall is now, 26 Wall Street at Broad St).

Now located on Central Park West, it's still the city's oldest museum. The New-York Historical Society's purpose is to "collect and preserve whatever may relate to the natural, civic, or ecclesiastical History of the United States in general and of this State in particular.

My nick-name for the museum: 'The American Historical Society of New York.'    It is a much more accurate title.  It goes well with its neighbor, the American Museum of Natural History, and it distinguishes itself from its upstart rival, the Museum of the City of New York.

Six years later at old New York City Hall (Federal Hall), the NY Historical Society will christen "Sancte Claus" who we now call Santa Claus, on St Nicholas Day, December 6, 1810.  The subject of my special holiday tour! Santa Claus' NYC History Tour.

**  **  **
The New York Historical Society founded in 39 Broadway the old Presidential Mansion on Bowling; New York City's first museum and among America's first cultural institutions. 

Led by John Pintard, the founders include a Mayor, Judge, Merchant, and a Scientist.  Pintard himself founded the first life insurance and savings bank institutions.  Pintard also advocated for free public education. 

The New York Historical Society could have picked a better name, 'The American Historical Society of New York,' but I wasn't and ain't in charge.  The NY Historical Society's mission: "to provide for the
permanent preservation and cataloging of the nation's significant
historic documents.  The collection, now at 77th St and Central
Park West (across from the American Museum of Natural History),
includes George Washington's Inaugural Carriage, Gouverneur Morris'
wooden leg, important American documents and books, and the largest
collections of Audubon's Birds paintings and Tiffany Lamps. 

Just over six years later, Pintard will convene a meeting declaring Sancte Claus the patron saint of old Nieuw Amsterdam.  The beginning of my Santa Claus Birthday tour.  The Museum of the City of New York, about New York City, will be a tense spin-off decades later.


1878... Kind of a break in the case of the kidnapped remains of A.T. Stewart, the sea-merchant,  first department store founder, and founder of the first railroad commuter suburb, the model Garden City. 


Stewart's remains were grave-robbed two weeks prior from St. Mark's In-the-Bouwerie Church on 10th St and 2nd Ave.

A Resurrectionist was arrested.     

The case progressed much faster a few months later when the grave robbers sent a ransom note to a lawyer, sending some of the casket as proof, while demanding a quarter of a million dollars. 

The remains were finally returned over a year later, in 1880, netting the disguised ghoulish bandits $20,000.  They evaded prosecution.  

A.T. Stewart is finally put to rest in a secret spot in the dome of the cathedral in Garden City, NY, which he funded, in the suburban town he founded, where Stewart Ave still runs through it.

Garden City was a pioneering suburban town developed within walking distance around a commuter rail-road with shopping and grassy areas.

A.T. Stewart was also a retailing pioneer, creating palaces of shopping that the new middle class adored, making him the richest man in the world.  Stewart had a keen sense for creating markets for middle class desires, and his impact is still felt.  

More recently, at least in NYC, young adults are turning away from the suburbs for life in the city, which still has local businesses.  Mid-level department stores are hurting due to the Internet.  The strongest department stores are the spare big box discount stores like Walmart, a far cry from a palace of shopping.

AT Stewart's became the NY Daily Sun where "Yes, Virginia.  There is a Santa Claus was written.

1897... C.F. Bates' horses run away with the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden, garnering 20 ribbons, including 12 first places, and prizes worth $2645.


1925...  New York Senator Robert Kennedy born.


1936...  Author Don DeLillo celebrates his birthday.


1955...  Bo Diddley debuts on the Ed Sullivan Show, influencing rock music.


1956... Mark Gastineu, the NY Jets Defensive End and greatest sacker, is born

Gastineau had 107 sacks

His exuberant 'sack dances' in the 1980s riled the sacked teams, so the
league limited such displays. 

(Nowadays 2011, Giants' Wide Receiver Victor Cruz salsa dances after his touchdowns.  Salsa dancing has not been banned by the NFL.)


1966... Marty Begovich, St. Johns University Basketball great, dies.  From 1928-31, as Center, he helped win 88:96 games.  The team was so good that they played professional clubs, which led to their team being kicked out of the college leagues, so they went pro!


1966...  Bert Convy, after his success in Fiddler on the Roof, starred as Cliff in the debut of Cabaret on Broadway, getting great reviews.


1982... Columbia's Baker Field, the nation's last remaining major all wooden stadium, has its 323rd and final game after Brown's Bruins beat the Columbia Lions Football team 35-21.    

Harvard has the oldest football stadium in the U.S.  Columbia wanted to build an older one, but found it impossible.   

Lawrence Wien, who is related to the Malkins who own the Empire State Building, pays for a new stadium named for him. 

 ./'  "'Oh, who owns New York?  Oh, who owns New York,' the people say? ./'   We own New York!  We own New York!  C-O-L-U-M-B-I-A!" ./' 
(In 1985-1986, I was in the CU Marching Band.  My instrument: the Pasta.  I shook pasta boxes.  This was not too far out for them during that era.  Musical excellence was substituted with creativity as "The World's Cleverest Band.)   


Wien's new stadium comes with secret strings attached, though.  None of those darned rock music concerts.  

In 1985, after Columbia's successful anti-Apartheid protests, lauded
by Nelson Mandela, Bono of U-2 offers to play a free concert at Columbia in support of the student's pioneering activism. Wien Stadium at Baker Field was ruled out by the CU administration.   The official reason: the grass is too delicate for a concert.  [(This was the same excuse Mayor Bloomberg used to prohibit an anti-Bush protest during the Republican Convention in NYC in 2004.) 

The other perennial excuse to prohibit fun: insurance liability costs.] 

The free U-2 concert for Columbia still hasn't happened. 

However, U-2 did play a free concert on the streets of NYC on a rolling flatbed truck a few years ago.    

In 1968, the Grateful Dead played at Columbia for free, and without
authorization, in front of the Student Center during the widespread
campus protests against military research contracts and taking over
public park land for a new gym.  Below is a picture of students sitting
on Furnald Lawn attending a 'Dead concert.  It seems that the lawn fared better than CU President Kirk's brandy, cigars, and file cabinets which were being rifled through that moment when his office was occupied. 


Part of the issue was that Harlem residents were to have their own gym
in in 20% of the space (or so) through a separate entrance on the
bottom, while Columbia would have most of the space with its gym on the top.  The plans were cancelled.  Columbia didn't own New York that time, but it is the #3 landlord, behind the Catholic Church and first-place NYU. 

Princeton's Jadwin Arena is Columbia's never-built gym transplanted to Princeton's NJ campus.  Princeton got the architectural plans for a bargain basement price.  If you see a game at Princeton, you
notice that it has a strange bi-level interior design, which would be
very appropriate for steep Morningside Park between Columbia and Harlem.


1982...  Drew Barrymore hosted Saturday Night Live when she was seven.
(If you can find video of this, please send me the link.)

More about November 20th in History:
http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/on-this-day/november-20/


Yet more about November 20th in History:
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/henry-james-first-novel-is-published


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