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March 7th in New York City History

Posted: Mar 6, 2013 | 5:59 PM
by Jared Goldstein

1837:  Dr. Henry Draper, the pride of New York University, was an accomplished physician, professor of medicine, astronomer, and astronomy photography pioneer, born.

First picture of the moon.

First picture of a nebula.  This one in Orion.

Draper's observatory in Hastings.

We tour NYU's neighborhood on Greenwich Village tours.


1846:  Grace Episcopal Church was consecrated at Broadway between 10th and 11th Streets.

This beautiful English Gothic Revival edifice was the first work of young James Renwick, fresh from Columbia College.  

More history and tales of the glory of Grace Church towards the end of this posting. *


1926:  The first trans-Atlantic radio-telephone conversation took place between New York City and London.  This occurred fifty years after the phone was invented elsewhere.


1934:  Today Show star Willard Scott born.


1942:  Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner born.  
He grew up on Park Avenue.


1946:  Peter Wolf, pride of the Bronx, and singer for the J. Geils Band 1976-1983 was born.


1971:  Peter Sarsgaard, film and Broadway actor, born.  He lives in Brooklyn with wife Maggie Gyllenhaal and their children.  

He and his wife have a lot in common.  The last syllable of their last names have two "aa"s in a row.


1982:  After performing its 10,000 concert, The New York Philharmonic became the longest-running symphony orchestra in the world.

New York City couldn't afford to found the world's oldest symphony orchestra, but we can afford to keep it going the longest.


2003:  As Billy Joel sings  "the lights (went) down on Broadway."  Well, at least the ones in the theaters  goes dark due to a four day strike.  It is exceedingly rare for Broadway shows to be cancelled.  



*  GRACE CHURCH's wonderful heritage:

Renwick owed the project to family connections, which was very common for NYC architectural, arts, decoration and monument commissions in the 19th Century.  (Maybe still.)

Even so, he was deserving.  The building has been acclaimed as one of New York City's most beautiful.

When it was opened, the area, near Washington Square, the Ladies Mile department store district, Astor Row, and Union Square, was very fashionable.

Decades later, P.T. Barnum had his circus stars, the dimunative Tom Thumb marry Lavinia Warren there.  Tickets, mainly sold to Vanderbilts and Astors, were sold for $75.  This was equal to the annual wages of two millworkers.  Matthew Brady, the local fashionable photographer who portrayed Lincoln on his rise, was the wedding photographer, which was promoted nationwide.

The church figured in Edith Wharton's novel, The Age of Innocence.

Navy Commander Henry Honeychurh Gorridge's funeral was here.  He was a celebrity for transporting Cleopatra’s Needle to Central Park.  I wrote about this on the anniversary of this glory on January 22nd.

You might also note that there is a joint along Broadway's trajectory in front of the church, this was due to the influence of local landowners, the Brevoorts, who, besides selecting nephew Renwick as architect, wished to preserve their orchard.  

Broadway: still following the diagonal path of deer and their Native hunters, bending to wealth to save an orchard.

Renwick went on to design the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, D.C., and the new St. Patrick's Cathedral, across which Rockefeller Center developed.  He also designed St. Nicholas Church on 10th Street and Avenue A, across from Tompkins Square Park.  His architectural firm designed the smallpox hospital on Roosevelt Island, which is an evocative ruin.

I refer to Grace Church as 'a bite sized St. Patrick's Cathedral.'  This gets my voyagers' attention;  sometimes they whip their heads to see it.

During the Depression there was a baker that gave out day old bread to a line of starving people, the birth of the breadline.

It has some beautiful grounds.  Despite its beauty, the church's inside suffers from the weather, and they are in continued need of funds for upkeep and improvements.  Please step inside and experience it quiet, calm serenity, and gorgeous stained glass, seemingly a world away from the Broadway the Walt Whitman describes:

"What hurrying human tides, or day or night?
What passions, winnings, losses, ardors, swim thy waters!
What whirls of evil, bliss and sorrow, stem thee!
What curious questioning glances--glints of love!
Leer, envy, scorn, contempt, hope, aspiration!
Thou portal--thou arena--thou of the myriad long-drawn lines and groups!"

We can see Grace Church and Union Square on my Santa Claus the NYC Tour, East Village tours, Greenwich Village tours.  We can see St. Nicholas Church on East Village tours, and Alphabet City tours.


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