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December 10th in NYC History

Posted: Dec 11, 2012 | 2:43 AM

1778:  John Jay elected president of the Continental Congress.


1851:  Melvil Dewey born.
  A passion for efficiency, he is best known for creating the decimal system and library science.


1896:  The world's largest aquarium opens at Castle Garden, now known as Castle Clinton. 


New York's great port had proud sea captains who would unexpectedly drop off at the aquarium strange sea animals that they captured around the seven seas.  The Aquarium Director, on his way to opening the Aquarium would encounter the creatures, then scrambled to figure out what they were, how to keep
them alive, and how to find a place for them.   

Previously it was an immigration center, processing 8 million immigrants before Ellis Island replaced it, processing 12 million.  I estimate that between the two of them, over half of Americans, perhaps 2/3, can trace an ancestor who passed through NYC.     

Before it was an immigration center, it was a P.T. Barnum entertainment center, Castle Garden, sometimes hosting 4000 for operettas and for concerts, such as the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind.     

Before that, it was Castle Clinton, one of about a dozen harbor fortifications protecting NYC from the mighty British Navy during the War of 1812, sparing NYC the burning destruction of Washington, D.C. and Charleston, Carolina. 

Years of tensions with the British were partly the impetus for the birth of Santa Claus, which I elucidate on my Santa Claus NYC Birthday Tour.  
 
During the LaGuardia and Moses era, late 1930s early 1940s, the
Aquarium was moved to Coney Island where it still is, but it does not seem to be the largest in the world.


1905:  O Henry's celebrated Christmas story, "The Gift of the Magi," is published in The New York World.

It was  written in Pete's Tavern (18th Street and Irving Place), which is a stop on my Santas NYC Birthday tour.

The gorgeous tavern, which stayed open during Prohibition behind a florist front, was protected and enjoyed by the nearby Tammany Hall Political Machine, also a stop on my Santas NYC Birthday Tour.


1906:  U.S. President, and New Yorker, Teddy Roosevelt is the first American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize
.  He mediated the Russo-Japanese War's peace.


1910:  The first American-themed opera opens at the Metropolitan Opera House, "La Faniciulla del West" ('The West's Golden Girl') by Puccini



1946:  Sportswriter Damon Runyon dies.  He also wrote the story that was adapted to "Guys and Dolls."

My Lower-East Side father was described as Damon Runyonesque.  He had to fight his way across the avenues of the Lower East Side, and knew some colorful characters.  I should read some Runyon to see what they were talking about.  My father didn't bet on dice or cards.  He started out as a Sports writer, so he was around betting, but he didn't do that.


1948:  The U.N. General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which is a great document, co-authored by Eleanor Roosevelt.  A good part of its 30 articles were first enunciated in the Bill of Rights, which were given to America at Federal Hall on September 24th 1789, which I have named "Bill of Rights
Day." 


1950:  New Yorker Dr. Ralph Bunche, is the first African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize mediating for the United Nations during the Palestine War, which led to the expulsion of most Jews from dozens of ancestral Arab countries where Jews lived in peace for thousands of years, and led to many Muslim Palestinians fleeing from Israel, by choice or by force, from where their people lived for thousands of years. 


1964:  Star Chef Bobby Flay born.   


1971:  NY Mets trade Nolan Ryan for Jim Regosi.  Nolan Ryan became a Hall of Famer and was an all star eight times. Known as the Ryan Express  for his 100 mph (162km/hr) pitches.  There are many more impressive facts.  Consensus is that the Mets made a bad decision. 


1984:  NY Mets make a good trade, four players for catcher and slugger Gary Carter.   The Mets had a few good seasons in the mid 1980s, including winning the 1986 World Series.  Carter is a Hall of Famer and has many impressive awards and statistics that I won't get into right now.


1988:  Real Estate mogul Lawrence Wien dies at 83

He donated $6 million for Columbia's eponymous football
stadium.  I wrote about the link between him and U-2 not playing for Columbia after the students got the university to divest from apartheid South Africa.  Wien is related to the Malkins who own the Empire State Building.  

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