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December 1st in New York City History  - Some of NYC's Greatest Gingers Born!  As well as athletes and the architect of towering hopes.

Posted: Dec 1, 2012 | 3:13 PM
by Jared Goldstein
1902:  He was an end who played for three NYC pro-football teams: the Yankees, Giants, and the Dodgers.  Today Morris Badgro was born.  He was also a four-time NFL draft selection.


1911:  Walter Alston, the baseball Dodger's Manager for their 1955 Championship season, as well as from 1954-1976, was born.


1912:  Minoru Yamasaki, idealistic architect of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers,

and St Louis' failed Pruitt-Igoe housing projects, born


Yamasaki's architectural history suggests the limits of modernity, both of which depended upon the goodness of human nature.

The WTC's Twin Towers were completed the same year that St. Louis' Pruitt-Igoe became the first public housing to be demolished in 1972.   This demolition was one of the most iconic parts of the visionary film, "Koyaanisqatsi," (1:32 in).  More Pruit-Igoe at the bottom, next year, more WTC pics with him as architect.


1935:  Woody Allen (nee' Allen Konigsberg) born in Brooklyn.

 In high school he sold jokes to newspapers. 

In his twenties he wrote for Sid Caesar's legendary highly-rated "Your Show of Shows."  In the 1960s, he bared his psychotherapy sessions and neuroses standing up in Greenwich Village.  (I love sharing this neighborhood on Greenwich Village tours.

Since the 1970s, he's best known for writing and directing about 1 film per year, mostly in NYC. 

Many of his locations are real New York stores, cinemas, restaurants.  I believe that their being featured in his prominent films saved them from the ravages of the rapacious real estate market.  Compare Broadway Danny Rose's Carnegie Deli scenes with his obscure 2004 film "Anything Else" with a scene in Stage Deli, which closed yesterday.  (Thank you Nathan Cox for that reference.)  Meanwhile, the legendary Ratner's Deli, which I don't think was in Woody Allen films closed about ten years ago.

Hannah and Her Sisters
brought to mind The Strand Book Store and e.e. cummings' poetry. - What's a bookstore?  The Strand seems to be doing well.


Woody Allen won the 1977 Academy Award for "Annie Hall", but he did not attend the ceremony because he was playing his regular clarinet gig at the Carlyle. 

In 1979, Woody was Playgirl Magazine's #6 sexiest man, edging out Bruce Springsteen. 

I have some personal recollections and minor connections at the bottom of this piece.


1947:  Another NYC hero, fabulous Bette Midler born.

Midler's early career included being the diva at the gay bar underneath the Ansonia. 

Her piano man?  Brooklyn's Barry Manilow. 


Bette Midler is a local philanthropist, especially around local community gardens. 

During the Giuliani era, he pushed to demolish community gardens, which bound neighborhoods together, for mostly market rate apartment development.  She bought dozens of gardens, saving them, then endowing them for public benefit for perpetuity. 

Why do I love Bette Midler?  Midler saved dozens of NYC Community Gardens in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and my own Lower East Side from Mayor Giuliani and his developer supporters.  He thought that the Community Gardens would be better used as real estate developments to get property on tax rolls and to get the gentry into low-income neighborhoods. 

The gardens, however, lower crime because locals get to know each other and organize against criminals.  In addition, they lower stress and asthma, two NYC maladies.  Midler bought the gardens and then donated them to the New York Restoration Project, which she funded.  

Ironically, buildings near the once economically useless gardens are now offering rentals for $9000 a month.


I love showing "her" gardens on my Community Gardens of the East Village Tour.  Midler's generosity is apparent in their infrastructure.

More about the gardens below.


1951:  Treat Williams' birthday.


1957:  Buddy Holly and
and crooner Sam Cooke perform on the The Ed Sullivan Show.


1970:  Happy Birthday, comedienne Sarah Silverman!



More about Woody Allen, Minoru Yamasaki, and Bette Middler.  The good, the sad, the hopeful and happy:


Woody Allen cont.

Other Woody Allen restaurant locations include Elaine's (a writers' bar and restaurant which closed) and Carnegie Deli (where my Dad is on the wall pictured in a cart with Joe
DiMaggio.  My Dad being kind of a Broadway Danny Rose type, himself, which is where scenes in that eponymous movie took place.)  I'll gladly take you there for pastrami if we are on a Midtown tour.  I doubt if we can cut the line anymore.

According to the original John's Pizzeria on Bleecker Street, with its wood-burning oven, it is Woody Allen's favorite.  I love to share this place on Greenwich Village tours.

I went to camp and college with at least one of the red-head Munk brothers who played young Woody Allen in his movies. 

My college friend, Jon, played the most famous young Woody Allen, young Alfie Singer, in "Annie Hall." 

Somewhere, if "Annie Hall" was recently shown on television, it was fine with Jon because, seemingly randomly, Jon would receive a royalty check, enough for a comfort like cigarettes,
for his unforgettable hilarious cameo role. 

Young Alvy Singer: "What's the point? The universe is expanding..."
Mother:  "Brooklyn isn't expanding!"

Sometimes Jon prayed that it would be on TV somewhere.  I remember him desperately thumbing through TV Guides.  College students appreciate checks. 

He's now a poet and chases tornadoes in the Midwest with his wife.  He doesn't look like Woody Allen.

Jon's freshman year hall-mate and close friend (of mine, too) is Anne Hall from Missouri.  She was besieged by students, including me, asking her if people bothered her since 1977 about being Annie Hall.  Not until she arrived at Columbia University in the City of New York.  She never heard of "Annie Hall."

Well, La Dee Dah. 

25 years later, I think most Missouri residents and Americans know who Woody Allen is. 

Woody Allen's films are mostly set in New York City, which he treats like a supporting actor. 

I think he's been great for New York City tourism, as well as the whole film and TV industries in general.  I will gladly create a Woody Allen's NYC tour for you!  We can rent a car for around $20 an hour, or we can do a more limited one with subways.

In the late 1990s or early Naughties (2000s), as I call the era, I saw him walking out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art one Friday or Saturday night around 8:45pm, closing time.  I was leaving there, too, walking down Fifth Ave.
    He had his arm huddling around his young wife, Soon-Yi, and they were
in a loving cocoon.  Or as former Upper West Sider Kurt Vonnegut might call, a duprass. 

I followed the New York Code and I left them alone. 

Around 2008, I saw him eating a hot dog at Katz' Deli.  I think he was filming "Whatever Works," which was filming a scene at nearby

Yonah Schimmel's Knishery. 

I love taking folks by or in both places on Lower East Side or Immigration tours.  


This picture is on the cover of a book about NYC film locations.



Minoru Yamasaki's lowest point:


The hopeful vision versus the reality.


This is prescient of the World Trade Center collapse and destruction.  Imagine this sequence set to Phillip Glass music.
In the distance one can see the St Louis Arch "Gateway to the West," by another hopeful modernist Eero Saarinen.


Slum clearance within a ghetto.  It was supposed to be a perfect city within the failed city.  Towers in an open plaza.  The WTC was a similar concept, except think economic development in an economically blighted commercial district.



Bette Midler gardening in what was once burned out, then collapsed, then vacant lots:



From Abandonment to hope, to blossoms!


The Suffolk Community Garden, has a bench donated by the West Village's Sarah Jessica Parker and hubby Matthew Broderick in honor of their son's birth.  How do I know this stuff? 

In 2007, I created a Community Gardens of the East Village tour for the New York City Parks Department.  I've got files on almost 50 local gardens, with many fun and illustrative stories.  Two hours for 15 gardens.  Why am I mentioning this?  I want someone to hire me to do this tour for them.  I want thosefiles taking up valuable space in my small apartment to pay their rent!  
 

Ironically, some apartments looking over Community Gardens rent for
$9000 a month, and they've encouraged market-rate developments.    
 (A similar story played out with the successful park on the Highline,
which Giuliani dismissed as blight, and it is now the foundation for a
hugely popular park and chic neighborhood.) 

Not that I'm for $9000 per month apartments or how chic the Meat Packing District is, since they are making Manhattan too expensive and less hospitable for creatives.  I'm just illustrating the law of unintended consequences, and how
locally brewed solutions, which Mayor G decried, are often wildly
successful.  Also, Community Gardeners don't put too many ex-officio
Mayors on corporate boards.)   

I went on a couple of dates with a lovely cousin of Ms. Midler, which was nice, but somehow I was lost in the rear-view mirror of her speeding car.  That car's model: Her Life Without Me.  They don't even make that model anymore, since around 2003. I have a sweet-heart now, so it is all good.  I love her and Bette Midler, for different reasons.


The Ansonia.  
 [Tangentially, Roberta Flack, of the nearby Dakotah, and the "Killing
Me Softly" hit, played 'the Baths' as well, and the New York Chamber
Orchestra!  The Ansonia is a tour-guide favorite on Upper West Side tours.  Other Ansonia denizens: Babe Ruth, Toscanini, Caruso.    
 If you have three days to hide under your covers in a dark bedroom,
spend a day reading Saul Bellow's novella, "Seize the Day," about a
Man-Boy who may or may not seize the day.  The Man-Boy and his father
live separately in the Ansonia, whose name is changed to protect the
innocent.      And there's more to tell about the Ansonia.... The
farm animals on the roof.  The meter-thick walls with
proto-air-conditioning ducts leading to giant ice cubes with fans.  
 To give you an idea of how much the Upper West Side changed in 35
years, here's an anecdote:  A college friend of mine was a rich kid.
 (He's probably a rich man now.)  His father was offered the Ansonia for
$5 million.  You'd probably be lucky to buy an apartment there for $5
million now.  The deal wasn't such a bargain, though, since through the
early 1990s, the Ansonia was raining bricks onto shoppers' heads in its
shops downstairs.  This led to lawsuits.  The building required two sets
of pointing repairs, and has been under scaffolding at least twice.
 What I'm trying to say is that for twenty years, the place cost a lot
of money.]

Next year:
World AIDS Day.
More about Today in History



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