November 25th in NYC History: The British Are Leaving! Liberty at Last! War is Over! Confederate Conflagration, Joltin Joe, Carnegie and Bill Bojangles.
Posted: Nov 25, 2012 | 2:15 AM
1783... Washington returned to NYC to liberate the City and the Nation from British occupation and rule.
(This is a very idealized picture. NYC was in ruins, and there were no Greek Revival buildings in town until the 1830s.)
The name and the celebration lasted for over 100 years: Evacuation Day.
I call it Liberation Day, which matters less than nothing since Evacuation Day started losing significance in NYC in the 1830s and stopped being celebrated by the early 20th Century.
The Evacuation Day holiday was local and Thanksgiving, sometimes on this date, was taking prominence nationally.
This replacement was not entirely a coincidence. Early in the Civil War, William Seward, a former New York Senator, as Secretary of State under Lincoln, declared a national Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November.
For New Yorkers and Washington, Evacuation Day was joyous and sad. Seven years and one week before, the British evacuated Washington from New York. Tens of thousands of troops and New Yorkers died and suffered horribly. But in 1783 it was a great celebration.
The British retreated peacefully after they greased the flag pole on Bowling Green. They had a laugh as the Americans couldn't climb the pole to hoist the American flag, but eventually someone got cleats to lower the Union Jack and raise the Stars and Stripes.
I love showing the sites and sights of liberty, colonial times, and early America on my tours of Downtown, Financial District and Wall Street Tours, Nieuw Amsterdam tours, George Washington's New York tour, the South Street Seaport tour, and my colonial NYC tour.
1835... Andrew Carnegie, the industrialist, philanthropist and "a citizen of New York" who led the expansion of the American steel industry, was born.
1864... Confederate Rebels torch hotels, stores, wharves, and theatres around New York City towards the end of the Civil War.
Luckily, the fires fizzled and the damage was mostly limited with no deaths. There is one great loss, P.T. Barnum's American Museum burned down at Broadway and Ann Streets. One of my life's great regrets is to not be able to witness and experience the American Museum's amazing and horrific attractions, including the "Egress," for which many visitors would gladly pay twice.
1914... Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper, born in California.
1915 was Columbia's only undefeated football season, and the first since the school banned football in 1906.
1944... Pride of Columbia Ben Stein, the actor, commentator and game show host born.
1949... Dance great Bill "Bojangles" Robinson dies in Manhattan at age 71. Crowds will line the streets from Harlem to Times Square to view his funeral procession and pay their respects to the man who perfected tap dancing, integrated dancing on film, and was a philanthropist.
1997: Former Ranger Hockey Captain Mark Messier returns to Madison Square Garden, scores for the Canucks, helping win
the game, and becoming the game's most valuable player. Mark Messier is still beloved by Rangers fans for leading them to a Stanley Cup championship in 1994, and his Jersey and number are retired, hanging from the rafters.
2006: Sean Bell killed by NY Police in Queens on his wedding day, the morning after his bachelor party. Bell and his two friends were were shot a total of fifty times by a team of both plainclothes and undercover NYPD officers, seriously wounding two of his friends. The Police thought there was some sort of criminal activity involving the party inside the club. Three of the five detectives involved in the shooting went to trial and were found not guilty.
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