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Posted: Feb 27, 2013 | 11:44 PM

Feb 28 in New York City History - Five acclaimed actors, a director, and an artist born, and more.


1903:  Vincente Minnelli, sometime New Yorker, the stage and film director who worked at Radio City and co-designed the Rainbow Room before moving on to Hollywood where he would sire Liza Minelli with the help of Judy Garland, born.  His is the only Oscar-winning family of father-mother-daughter.


1906:  "Bugsy" Siegel the glamorous, murderous gangster who founded Las Vegas as a gambling oasis, born in Brooklyn.  He was born Benjamin Siegelbaum to poor Russian Jewish immigrants.  He died at 41.



1907:  Milton Caniff, the "Rembrandt of Comic Art," who penned Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon, born in Ohio.  He moved to make his career in NYC in 1932.



1915:  Zero Mostel, the actor, comedian, and singer who made Tevia famous in Fiddler on the Roof, born.

We go by his high school, Seward Park, on Lower East Side History tours.


1939:  Tommy Tune, actor, dancer, singer, theatre director, producer, and choreographer, born.  He directed and choreographed eight Broadway shows, and won a Tony Award.


1940:  The first televised college basketball games were televised.  

W2XBS (the experimental station that was later to be NBC/RCA) broadcasted the Pittsburgh-Fordham and Georgetown-NYU games from Madison Square Garden in New York.  NYU won.  Fordham lost.

In those days college hoops were bigger than the NBA.  

Television was demonstrated for the first time in 1939 at the World's Fair by David Sarnoff (see yesterday's post).  Sarnoff's use of basketball was like his pioneering of radio for entertainment by using a Jack Dempsey boxing match in Jersey City to goose adoption.

Let's go on a Madison Square Garden tour of its four sites.


1948:  Bernadette Peters, Broadway actress and singer, born.



1948:  Mercedes Ruehl, Academy, Tony, and Obie Awards winner, born in Queens.


1957:  Actor John Turturro born in Brooklyn.


1958:  Gilbert Gottfried, actor, voice-actor, and comedian, born in Brooklyn.


2007:  Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., the Pulitzer winning Presidential historian and CUNY professor, died at 89.
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Posted: Feb 26, 2013 | 8:30 PM

February 27th in New York City History - Lincoln's Right Makes Might; Father of Broadcasting and the Father of modern Conservatism, a prolific writer, and Alicia Keys' triumphs.


1860:  Abraham Lincoln, "the Prairie Orator," addressed Cooper Union's Great Hall, packed, delivering the "Might Makes Right Speech."

It countered slavery and catapulted his stature to Republican candidate for President
over local star, Senator and Governor Seward.


When we take my East Village tour we learn why I call Cooper Union the secular Holy of the Holies.  Every time I am there I feel honored and awed, not just because of this great speech.



1891:  David Sarnoff, CEO of NBC and RCA (now GE), pioneer of broadcasting radio and television, born in terrible poverty in Russia.


1913:  Prolific writer, playwright, and screenwriter Irwin Shaw born in the Bronx.


1993:  The World Trade Center closed as it assumed investigation for its huge truck bombing and recovery.  Businesses scrambled to find alternate space.  It will reopen months later after a $500,000,000 renovation.


2002:  Alicia Keys won five Grammies for her debut album, "Songs in A Minor."


2008:  Conservative avatar, intellectual, publisher, and writer William F. Buckley, Jr. died at 82.



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Posted: Feb 26, 2013 | 3:43 PM
by Jared Goldstein

I was touring with British Law Enforcement HS Students, then Curtis Sliwa of the Guardian Angels, in red uniform an beret, strode by.  They didn't quite get it.

I likened the vigilante Guardian Angels to Spider-Man's strained relationship with the Police and J. Jonah Jameson in the midst of a dangerous city, and then they got it.

Also saw Don Imus.  Sourpuss. Slightly nuts.
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Posted: Feb 26, 2013 | 12:05 AM

February 26 in N.Y.C. History

In remembrance to those who were killed, injured, and survived the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.



1643:  Nieuw Amsterdam appointed the first fire wardens.


1870:  New York City opened a (block long) pneumatic-powered subway line to the public. 


1988:  NYPD officer Edward Byrne was killed while guarding a drug witness in South Jamaica, Queens.


1993:  The World Trade Center was bombed by the largest truck bomb in US History up to that point, killing six and injuring over 1,000.

Few pictures of the attack are publicly available.


I describe this attack a bit on my World Trade Center tour.  Here a good description, a quote of the National Fire Protection Association's report on the World Trade Center Explosion and Fire, New York, NY February 26, 1993.

Here is some surprising background:  
If the terrorists had 10% more explosives in their vehicle or, for them, a better parking spot, they would have taken at least one of the towers down.  I don't get into this next fact on the vast majority of my World Trade Center tours, but this is my blog, so I will share that the FBI admitted partial culpability for this attack because it had an infiltrator assisting the terrorists with getting explosives. When the infiltrator reported that the attack was eminent, his handlers stated that they moved on to other matters.  If you like learning about this sort of ineptitude/intrigue, let's arrange the WTC Deep History Tour, which I rarely give.  

Emad Salam, the infiltrator, will soon be put to good use by the FBI and the NYPD to foil the June 1993 Landmarks plot.  Agents from both law enforcement agencies will come to blows as to the timing of foiling the plot.  The FBI wanted the bombs to be developed and deployed for better chance of convictions, and the NYPD literally pushed and shoved to arrest sooner to prevent any death and destruction.  

Someone in my neighborhood was one of the eight Islamist terrorists arrested in this plot as he was mixing the bomb ingredients.  I had an encounter with his Jewish-born wife and mother-in-law, and they were jerks.

The Landmarks plot was eventually deployed in Mumbai, India 2008.


The 1993 WTC attack's mastermind, Ramzi Yousef, was arrested in Manila while he was planning the Project Bojinka attacks in 1995.  Project Bojinka included the simultaneous hijacking of a dozen jets, crashing them into buildings.  

When Yousef was flown into NYC for his trial, he was shown that the Twin Towers still stood.  He replied: 'for now.'  

Here is more details.  These state that he would have knocked them down with more explosives and money.


The 2001 WTC attacks were masterminded by Yousef's uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Despite a great deal of evidence linking Yousef to Al Qaeda, the organization was not pursued, and the investigation and the prosecution was focused on a cell around a religious extremist in NJ, "the Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel Rahman who continues to spend his life in jail.  

My take on this is that it is better for FBI agents to get a conviction and move on then to to continue an investigation indefinitely that takes you around the world impacting several layers of the US bureaucracy and other national roadblocks.  It may prevent future attacks, but in the nearer term it is bad for one's career for several reasons.

When the WTC was attacked again on 9/11/01, I immediately connected it to "Osama bin Laden," who I had been following in the news since at least 1998.  There was talk of hijackings by him all 2001.  That was the first week I had heard the term "Al Qaeda."

Condoleeza Rice might not have been able to 'imagine' planes attacking buildings,

but such plans were known about and addressed for years around the US

and the world, and in the Department of Defense.  

The 9/11 Commission laid blame for our lack of defense on a 'failure of imagination and connecting the dots.'  
Condoleeza Rice is likely the worst National Security Adviser.  I don't usually get into politics on my World Trade Center tours, but I do on my rarely given WTC 9/11 Deep History tour.







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Posted: Feb 25, 2013 | 3:03 PM

February 25th in NYC History


1643:  Dutch colonist attacked Native Americans in Lower Manhattan and in Maspeth, Queens

In Manhattan, the Native Americans in Manhattan were slaughtered.

Some Dutch attacks involved torching the Natives' Longhouses that were home to clans of sixty men, women and children in the middle of the night.

In Maspeth, the Natives drove the Dutch back to Manhattan.

Some of the Dutch attacks were over tax disputes.  They wanted the natives to provide discounted beaver pelts in exchange for living in Nieuw Amsterdam and Nieuw Nederlands, ancestral Native lands.  The Natives didn't have a concept of real estate ownership and real property taxes.

We go over these attacks and the related cultural misunderstandings/scams in my Financial District tour, Colonial New York City tour, and Nieuw Amsterdam tour (New Amsterdam Tour).


1644:  The Dutch Nieuw Amsterdam (New Amsterdam) colony granted conditional freedom to a group of African slaves.


1873:  Great opera tenor Enrico Caruso born.  He died in 1921.

We go by his home, the Ansonia, on my Upper West Side tour.


1949:  Actor, author, and longtime former SNL writer Jack Handey born.


1950:  Your Show of Shows premiered on NBC.  This innovative program evolved the variety show vaudeville format with the introduction of sitcom.  It starred Sid Ceasar and Imogene Coca.  The writers included Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, and Neil Simon.  Simon wrote the play Laughter on the 23rd Floor and Brooks produced My Favorite Year about working on it.  Reiner stated that the show inspired The Dick Van Dyke Show.






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Posted: Feb 24, 2013 | 11:56 PM

Feb 24th in NYC History


1936: Artist Winslow Homer born.  He died in 1910.


1921:  Happy Birthday Abe Vigoda, Actor ("Fish" from "Barney Miller").


1922: Steven Hill, Actor ("Law and Order") born.


1931:  Dominic Chianese, Actor, ("The Sopranos"), born.  



1998:  Take Henny Youngman - (he was born March 1906).


1999:  Lauryn Hill won five Grammys for her debut solo album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill."

She got a little miseducated at Columbia.



NY1 missing for this date.





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Posted: Feb 23, 2013 | 12:51 AM

Feb 23rd in N.Y.C. History



1868: W.E.B. DuBois, of 31 Grace Court in Brooklyn Heights, the sociologist and writer who co-founded the N.A.A.C.P. was born.  He died in 1963.

We visit his home on my Brooklyn Heights walking tour.


1967:  A Congressional panel recommended censure for longtime Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, "Mr. Civil Rights." Powell had been accused of misusing public funds.

We explore the legacies of ACP on Harlem walking tours.


2002:  Norah Jones, pride of Brooklyn, won five Grammies for the album "Come Away With Me."






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Posted: Feb 22, 2013 | 2:20 AM
by Jared Goldstein

February 22nd in New York City History



George Washington 2/22/1732 - 12/14/1799
American general and first president of U.S.


1778:  Sometime New Yorker, artist Rembrandt Peale, was born elsewhere. His fame grew from his portraits of George Washington.




1892, Edna St. Vincent Millay, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who personified romantic rebellion, was born. Following her death on Oct. 19, 1950



1918Don Pardo, TV announcer ("Saturday Night Live"),


1934...Stage and screen star Fannie Brice, a product of the Lower East Side, hams it up at a beauty contest with her fellow Zeigfeld Follies showgirls.



1944:  Director Jonathan Demme born.


1950Julius Erving, Basketball Hall of Famer


1951...Walt Disney's animated version of "Cinderella" premieres in New York.



1966Rachel Dratch, Actress, comedian ("Saturday Night Live")


1975:  Actress Drew Barrymore born.

I saw her in Union Square.  We go to her brunch place, Pete's Tavern, on Santa Claus New York City tours.



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Posted: Feb 20, 2013 | 11:03 PM

Feb. 21st in NYC History



1907:  Poet W.H. Auden born in York, England.  He lived in NYC and died in 1973.

We can see Auden's row house on East Village tours.


1925:  The New Yorker magazine debuted.


1943:  Pride of Brooklyn, David Geffen, entertainment producer and philanthropist, born.


1965:  Black Muslim civil rights leader Malcolm X/Shabbazz killed by assassins from his former organization, the Nation of Islam at the Audobon Ballroom .  One of them eludes justice.  He was 39.

We go over his remarkable 'four lives' on my Harlem tours.  We are going by his and his wife's mosque today.

We can see the Malcolm X memorial and exhibit on a Washington Heights tour.



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Posted: Feb 20, 2013 | 10:01 PM

Feb 20th in NYC History


1861:  President-Elect Abraham Lincoln attended opera at The Academy of Music on 14th Street, not too far from Cooper Union, where his political career took off.

We visit Cooper Union on East Village Walking tours, and we visit Union Square and Irving Place, where the Academy of Music was, on Santa Claus NYC tours.


1899:  Businessman Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney born.  He died in 1992.


1924:  Fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt born.


1927:  Harlem's Sidney Poitier, Actor, born.

We see where his black box theater was on Harlem Tours.


1937:  Jazz singer Nancy Wilson, once a longtime New Yorker, born.


1942:  NHL Hall of Famer Phil Esposito of the New York Rangers born.


1950:  Steely Dan's co-founder, Queens' Walter Becker born.


1966:  Model Cindy Crawford born.

We see where she lived on Little Italy tours.


1988:  Singer Rihanna born in Barbados.

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