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Posted: Sep 30, 2012 | 1:40 AM

September 30th in NYC History

1868:  Louisa May Alcott publishes her best-selling children's classic novel Little Women.

We see her uncle's home on MacDougal Street, where she may have done some writing, on my Greenwich Village tour.

On my Greenwich Village Walking Tour we stroll by her uncle's charming row house where she is reputed to have written some of this novel.


1911:  History's first Stuntman  Lieutenant Henry "Hap" Arnold filled in for an actor during filming for "The Military Air Scout" in NYC, where the film industry started. 

Around 30 years later he would head
the pivotal United States Air Force in WW2.  An amazing individual, his life even more impressive than his stunt work.


1916:  The NY Giants make and end the longest winning streak in baseball history.  26 games in a row.  That same day the streak was broken during the second double header game against Boston's Braves.


1924:  Truman Capote born.  The author of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "In Cold Blood", loved living in Brooklyn Heights, which he said was the only place to live in NYC. 

In Capote's day, though, the neighborhood was much more a tenderloin rooming-house district for sailors.  Greenwich Village, which was working class in the years before, was becoming too expensive for writers, so Brooklyn Heights was where they went, just one subway stop from Manhattan.

The house where he lived recently sold for around $11M. 

I love to show it off on a Brooklyn Heights walking tour, which can be combined with a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and a visit to DuMBO, as well as a January or February architectural walking tour,
a great time for a Greenwich Village walk or a Brooklyn Heights tour to see the lovely architecture through the bare trees.  If weather doesn't permit, we can easily reschedule.


1927:  Babe Ruth swats his 60th home run of the season and with it sets a record that would stand for 34 years and one day (see October 1st) when Yankee Roger Marris broke Ruth's record.

 

1931:  The landmark Waldorf=Astoria Hotel opens at its present Park Avenue location.  The famous edifice is completing a renovation by 2013.

Join me on a tour to find out why there is a equal sign acting like a hyphen in the name.  We will find out somewhere between the UN and Rockefeller Center.


1957:  Happy Birthday to actress and comedienne Fran Drescher, born in Flushing.


2010:  Tony Curtis the beloved actor died
.  He was born Bernard Schwartz on June 3, 1925 to Hungarian Jewish immigrants. His acting training, handsomeness and personal life led to a great Hollywood career after service in WW2. 

Curtis grew up in very trying circumstances.  He struggled to attend Seward Park High School, which we see on my Lower East Side of Manhattan tours. Among his classmates was fellow Seward Park alumnus Walter Matthau, and my father Joe.  Tony Curtis is also known as Jamie Lee Curtis' dad.



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Posted: Sep 29, 2012 | 1:22 AM

September 29 in NYC History

1789:  The U.S. War Department establishes a regular army with a strength of several hundred men.  Since NYC is the first capitol of the United States, it happened here.  Specifically: Fraunces Tavern, which was the headquarters, as well as for the Department of Peace (actually "State"), headed by Jefferson, and the Treasury Department, headed by Alexander Hamilton.  The two rivals shared a building.  Fraunces himself set up operations as George Washington's Steward.

1954:  "I don’t rank ‘em, I just catch ‘em."  Willie Mays, the New York Baseball Giants' center-fielder, caught, over his shoulder with his back to the infield, Cleveland Indians' batter Vic Wertz' 450 foot flyball hit in Game 1 of the World Series
.   Then he pivoted around and shot the ball back to the infield.  This catch is considered one of the greatest in baseball history.

1957:  NY Baseball Giants' last game in Harlem's Polo Grounds before their move to San Francisco.
  They lost to Pittsburgh 9-1.  No National League team remained in NYC for four years.

(What a heartbreak!  The Brooklyn Dodgers and Harlem's Giants were championship caliber teams in the 1950s, and then they headed to California.)

1961:  The National League expands back to New York City with the new New York Mets, managed by former Yankee manager Casey Stengel.  In the early 1970s, Willie Mays would return to NYC, finishing his career as a Met.

1973:  W.H. Auden, the St. Marks Place East Village Poet died at age 66.

1997:  Roy Lichtenstein the painter who used comic book style Ben-day dots for his paintings died age 73

2005:  New York Times reporter Judith Miller released from jail after nearly three months for protecting a source who was involved with a conspiracy to blow an intelligence officer's cover for political reasons. 

Her source, Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney's official, who had hobnobbed with her over the years at posh conferences, wrote her a letter describing the coming autumn outside, reminiscing about how "Aspens turn in clusters."  It seems that he was poetically giving her permission to finally turn against him, to come in from the cold, enjoy freedom, and that they are all in it together, since Aspens are connected. 

Miller had a close relationship with the Bush administration, helping them to promote the invasion of Iraq.  She was a biological warfare (weapons of mass destruction, WMD) expert.  The CIA officer who was outed by Scooter Libby and other Bush Administration officials, Valerie Plame-Wilson, was a WMD specialist.  She was outed because her husband, heroic Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an Op-Ed stating that the Bush Administration lied about the danger of Iraqi WMD, which turned out to be non-existent.  Scooter Libby would be convicted of Obstruction of Justice a few years later, but the justice that he obstructed was unfulfilled.

(I call Joseph Wilson a hero for other reasons, including his heroism during the first Iraq War, the Gulf War.)

2012:  Arthur O. (Punch) Sulzberger, the transformative Publisher of the New York Times from the 1960s through the early 1990s, died at 86.  He led the newspaper and its corporation through many changes.  The New York Times won dozens of Pulitzer Prizes, and it won Freedom of the Press court cases, such as publishing the Pentagon Papers, and it became nationally distributed.  The corporation expanded into other media and into a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company.  With the transformation of print media to digital, Punch's era is likely to have been the golden age of the New York Times.  The paper's record edition was a 1987 Sunday paper that was over 1600 pages of print weighing over 12 pounds (5.4 kg).




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Posted: Sep 28, 2012 | 1:35 AM

Today, September 28th, in NYC History:


1871:  Dr. Livingstone, I presume?  Henry Stanley, from the New York Herald, finds Dr. David Livingstone in deepest Africa.


1901:  Ed Sullivan, whose immensely popular long-running variety show (1948-1971) entertained millions of Americans and made careers in an era when pretty much everyone in the country was watching his show live at the same time. 
Elvis and the Beatles were introduced to America on his show, as were black entertainers, especially the Supremes, and Jim Henson and the Muppets.  Sullivan died in 1974.


1901:  Ed Sullivan's boss William Paley born; he led CBS for over 50 years.  He died in 1990.


1919:  The Giants beat Philadelphia 6-1 in 51 minutes, the fastest game in baseball history
.


1949:  The Yankee's slugger Joe DiMaggio wins the American League batting title with a .353 average.


1964:  Comedian, Entertainer and Film Star Harpo Marx dies.


1976:  World Heavyweight Champion Muhammed Ali is still "The Greatest" as he wins a unanimous 15-round decision over Ken Norton at Yankee Stadium.


1990:  Larry O'Brien dies.  He was Chairman of the Democratic National Committee when his office in the Watergate was broken into by burglars with ties to the Bay of Pigs Fiasco, the CIA, and Richard Nixon's CREEP (Committee to Re-elect the President).  Considering that Nixon later won by a landslide, what did O'Brien have on Nixon?  Or what was Nixon afraid of?  That is a mystery.  All that we know about Watergate is that the President was connected to it and that he lied about knowing about it.  Larry O'Brien was also an adviser to President Kennedy, Postmaster General for President Johnson, and NBA Commissioner 1975-1984.  An interesting life.


1991:  Jazz trumpet great Miles Davis dies.  Unteachable and confident of his genius, he dropped out of Julliard. 


2003:  Elia Kazan, film director, dies.

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Posted: Sep 28, 2012 | 1:12 AM
by Jared Goldstein

NYC's Quote of the Day  September 28th 2012 -->  Leon Trotsky:


"Here I was in New York, city of prose and fantasy, of capitalist automatism, its streets a triumph of cubism; its moral philosophy that of the dollar.  New York impressed me tremendously because, more than any other city in the world, it is the fullest expression of our modern age."
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Posted: Sep 27, 2012 | 12:22 AM

September 27th in NYC History


1840:  American political cartoonist, symbol maker, and cultural avatar Thomas Nast born in Bavaria.  His immigrant heritage brought to NYC influenced his images of Santa Claus as a benevolent fat, jolly, generous friend of children. 

It is all in my NYC Santa Claus tour!  People are already booking it.

To some extent, Nast's Northern European Santa Claus was a rebuke to
Irish Catholics whose politics, and probably religion, he didn't admire.  His Bavarian-influenced Santa Claus has a lot more to do with German forest mythology than the Catholic Sainted Bishop, Nicholas of Myra (Asia Minor). 

Nast's caricatures of Boss Tweed, the Sachem of the Irish dominated
Democrat political machine, Tammany Hall, was brought down by Nast's cartoons.

Other Nast creations:  the Democratic Donkey and the Republican
Elephant
.  Originally these images were symbols of ridicule and scorn, but the parties adopted them.

A political symbol beyond politics is Nast's creation Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam and Santa Claus joined the North in the Civil War, which was opposed by Irish Catholics in New York City.

(In my Santa Claus tour we learn about how Santa Claus joined the
American side in the War of 1812
, but that was before Nast's time.
)

Nast's life illustrates the power of images, symbols, heritage and sentimentality to change society.  His life in New York City, as the media capitol of the United States, made his talent's impact possible.


1889:  Happy Birthday, Skyscrapers!  The first steel skeleton skyscraper, the thirteen-story Tower Building, opened at 50 Broadway. It was made possible by a steel skeleton, elevators and a thick bedrock foundation.  The public thought that building so high on such a small lot would destroy the building and endanger lives, but Architect Bradford Gilbert prevailed on the Buildings Department using models demonstrating its weight and wind resilience.  But it could not withstand the force of the real estate development flood that it inspired.  The historic edifice is gone, demolished!


1894:  Aqueduct Raceway opens.


1954:  The "Tonight!" show debuts on NBC TV, hosted by Steve Allen.  This is the longest running entertainment program in television.


1963:  Columbia Lou Gehrig's coach, Andy Coakley dies in NYC at 80. 
Coakley played a pro season pitching for the Highlanders, and coached at Columbia from 1914-1951 (except 1919), garnering a 306-289-11 record.


1972:  Happy Birthday Gwyneth Paltrow.


2009:  William Saffire, wordsmith, dies.




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Posted: Sep 27, 2012 | 12:18 AM
by Jared Goldstein

NYC Quote of the Day


“New York:  It has a lot of layers.”

Kang Peng, 27, a student from Taiwan, on a walking tour from Manhattan to Queens

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/nyregion/unscenic-walking-tour-goes-from-lower-manhattan-to-jfk.html
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Posted: Sep 26, 2012 | 1:05 AM

September 26th in New York City History

1789:  In New York City, Thomas Jefferson was appointed America's first Secretary of State and John Jay the first Chief Justice.


1898:  George Gershwin, operatic music and Broadway musicals composer, was born in Brooklyn, New York.  He will die around 38 years later.


1957:  The musical "West Side Story" opens on Broadway.


1961:  Roger Maris, the Yankee right fielder, knocks his 60th home run of the season, tying Babe Ruth's single-season record.  In five days Maris' 61st homer will break the record which will stand 37 years.


1965:  Joe Namath starts for the NY Jets as Quarterback, throwing 287 yards for two touchdowns, but they lose to the Buffalo Bills 33-21.  Namath will lead the Jets to championship in a few years.

 

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Posted: Sep 25, 2012 | 1:49 AM
by Jared Goldstein

September 25th 2012's NYC Quote of the Day -- something to repent for on eve of Yom Kippur:

Owed to New York

Vulgar of manner, overfed
Overdressed and underbred,
Heartless, Godless, hell's delight,
Rude by day and lewd by night;
Bedwarfed the man, o'ergrown the brute,
Ruled by boss and prostitute;
Purple-robed and pauper clad,
Raving, rotting, money-mad;
A squirming herd in Mammon's mesh,
A wilderness of human flesh;
Crazed by avarice, lust and rum,
New York, thy name's "Delirium."


by Byron Rufus Newton (1861-1938).


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Posted: Sep 25, 2012 | 12:34 AM

Sept 25th in NYC History - Happy Birthday Bill of Rights, Jews of NYC, Rothko, Red, Michael, Will, and Barbara.


1654:  The first Jews of North America, refugees from the Portuguese inquisition in Brazil, arrive in Nieuw Amsterdam. 
Some of their descendants are still prominent in NYC.


1789:  In NYC, the first capitol of the USA, 12 Amendments to the Constitution are presented to the United States, 10 of which become the Bill of Rights

The first two did not pass then.  The original first amendment would have allowed by today, 6000 members of the House of Representatives (which is fine with me).  The original 2nd amendment regarded Congressional pay, which was eventually passed 203 years later as the 27th Amendment.


1866:  Jerome Park the first posh socially acceptable Thoroughbred racing track opens in what is now the Bronx.  It is this kind of money that attracted the best horses to compete for the best prizes.  Ask me on tour how this relates to NYC first being called The Big Apple.


1903:  Mark Rothko painter (died in 1970).


1905:  Red Smith, the sportswriter who made the sports pages thoughtful, was born.  He won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, the first for a sports writer. 

In 1949, columnist Walter Winchell wrote:

"Red Smith was asked if turning out a daily column wasn’t quite a chore…'Why, no,' dead-panned Red. 'You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.'


Smith died in 1982.  I met him a couple of years before he died in his lovely home in Martha's Vineyard when my parents paid a visit.


1927: Knicks great Carl Braun born in Brooklyn.  He was a forward who averaged over 14 points per game over 740 games in 12 seasons from 1947-61, for seven of those years he was the leading scorer.  He missed two seasons for military service.  During his last two seasons as a player, he was also coach!


1929:  Happy Birthday Barbara Walters.


1933:  Multi-talented writer Ring Lardner dies at 48
.  He wrote sports, columns, a hit Broadway show ("June Moon" with George Kaufman), sketches and lyrics for the Ziegfeld Follies.


1944:  Happy Birthday, Michael Douglas ("Wall Street").
  It is also Catherine Zeta-Jones, his wife's birthday (1969).


1968:  Happy Birthday, Will Smith ("Men in Black" and "Hitch")
.


1973:  Willie Mays bades farewell to the Mets and American Baseball. 
The Mets went on to first place in the NL East against the Montreal Expos 2-1.


1975:  Bob Considine dies in NYC at 68.  He wrote biographies of Dempsey, Toots Shor, and Babe Ruth.  He covered sports for four NYC newspapers and was syndicated in 105 others.


1979:  "Evita," the hit musical, opens on Broadway.



1996:  The New York Yankees begin their late 20th Century dynasty when they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers to the clinch the American League East
, their first division title since 1981. Over the next five years, they will win four World Series championships.



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Posted: Sep 24, 2012 | 1:28 PM
by Jared Goldstein

September 24th 2012's Quote of the Day:

"You come to New York to find the ambiance that will evoke your best. You do not necessarily know precisely what that might be, but you come to New York to discover it."

-- Cynthia Heimel


(I completely identify with this, as this is what happend for me when I attended Columbia College, and in subsequent years, including becoming a professional NYC Tour Guide.)


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