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October 23rd in New York City's History

Posted: Oct 22, 2012 | 6:49 PM

1869:  John W. Heisman, football coach great for decades, authority on athletics, and a director of the Downtown Athletic Club, which renamed its amateur football trophy to the Heisman award, was born on this date.  He died at 66 in 1936.  Here is his New York Times obituary.

1878:  NYC's first phone directory is published with 300 listings on one page. 
The listings were presented like the Yellow Pages, based on services offered, but there are no phone numbers.  That is because 0perators connected the calls.  Before wiring was regulated and then put under the sidewalks, New York's canyons were filled with poles and wires overhead.

1884:  The first official World Series pits the Mets against Providence at the Polo Grounds.  The Grays beat the Mets 6-0
.  Providence will go on to win the series on the 25th, despite their star pitcher Charley 'Old Hoss' Radbourne playing three full games three days in a row. 
He was 60-12 in the regular season.  Baseball grueled its pitchers those days.

1886:  Al Jolson, known for decades as "The World's Greatest Entertainer," was born in Russia. 
His live performances, singing, dancing, acting, and comedy made his career.  The song “Swanee” was his signature song.  In 1927, when the film industry was based in NYC, he ushered in the talking motion picture era starring in The Jazz Singer.  Jolson's reputation suffered because his film performances weren't as strong as his live ones.  Also, he performed in black face minstrel shows, which was mainstream, even among black performers, but which became unacceptable in the 1960s.  He died in 1950.

1905:  New York City's official Staten Island Ferry opens
, competing with various unregulated ferries. Today, the ferry carries around 20 million rides each year, about 60,000 daily, with several ships, some holding around six thousand.

1906:  Gertrude Ederly, America's most famous woman swimmer, born in New York
.  Her parade on Broadway's Canyon of Heroes memorializes her record breaking swim across the English Channel, the first woman to do so.

1915:  Over 25,000 women march on Fifth Avenue for the right to vote.

In many of these parades, women wearing white symbolized that black men could vote but not the wives of white men.

1925:  Johnny Carson, the great comedian and host of the Tonight Show, which was in New York City for his first ten years on the show, was born in Corning, Iowa.

1940:  It is Pelé's birthday.  The great Brazilian Soccer player Pele could well be one of the most successful players in sports history, earning the most of any.  He was in his first World Cup match at 17.  Ten years later Nigeria's civil war ceased so that Nigerians could watch Pelé and his team play.  Most agree that Pelé is the best soccer player of all time.

1948:  The United Nations General Assembly meets in New York City for the first time in Flushing Meadows, Queens.

1952:  At the height of McCarthyist Red Scare, the New York City Board of Education dismissed eight teachers for Communism allegations
.  1500 protested outside.

1954:  NYU's Tisch School of the Arts' Ang Lee, the film director, was born.

1983:  The New York Marathon's dramatic finish saw it's first non-American take the Rudin Cup with New Zealand's Rod Dixon sprinting at the end to a 2:08:59 twenty-six mile run, less than a minute from the World Record, an amazing feat on a brutal but beloved course
.  He overtook  Geoff Smith who staggered the last few yards across the finish line.
I was there that day and watched the medics care for Smith even, especially, as Dixon was feted.

1995:  Bob Watson named the Yankees' General Manager.  Within a year he will be the first black GM to win a World Series.  Nonetheless, George Steinbrenner lets him go about a year later.

2003:  Madame Chiang Kai-shek, widow of the Chinese nationalist leader, died in New York at age 105.  All around the NYC area there are high end Chinese restaurants whose menus state that their chef was Madame Chiang Kai-shek's personal chef.  She must have had at least four chefs.


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