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December 6th in NYC History:  Happy 202nd Birthday, Santa Claus!  Birth of Broadway Theatre, local Lutherans, Board Games, the Capitol goes south.

Posted: Dec 6, 2012 | 1:33 AM
by Jared Goldstein
1810:  Santa Claus is born at old New York City Hall, where Federal Hall is now. 

The New-York Historical Society sponsored a celebratory dinner, transforming Amsterdam's St Nicholas, Patron Saint (of ports and sea-trade) and Amsterdam, called Sinter Klaas in Dutch, translating his name to Sancte Claus and Santa Claus, (retro-actively?) naming him Patron Saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, and, therefore, New-York City. 

Attending the banquet: John Pintard, the Historical Society's Founder, as well as Washington Irving, whose Knickerbocker's
History of New York spoofed Dutch pretensions and Sinter Klaas lore.  In the 1830s he will write more stories of made up old fashioned family oriented Christmases, that would inspire Dickens!  Clement Clarke Moore, in attendance, too; 12 years later his "A Visit from St. Nicholas,"

first described Santa as an elfen gift-giver, flying through the air with magic reindeer and a giant sack of toys on Chrismas Eve. 

Writers can change the world.

Santa Claus was a born at the NY Historical Society to bring peace and prosperity to Christmas due to noisy, drunken and destructive Christmas Eve riots! 

John Pintard hired an artist to illustrate a broadside to popularize Santa Claus as someone we could all agree on to be patriotic, peaceful, and purchasing gifts.

Thanks to these visionaries and Santa, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are quiet days of gift giving and family. 

In addition, the winds of the War of 1812 were blowing and Dutch Sinter Klaas' renewed prominence eclipsed the British Saint George.  We were Not a British colony!

Across the world, across religions, St Nicholas is revered.

Sancte Claus is now Santa Claus, and NYC is truly his town, which helped spread his reknown from sea to sea and across the globe.

Happy Birthday, Santa Claus!

1664:  New York City's Lutherans granted freedom of worship.  Asser Levy a Jewish butcher and estate attorney will loan the Lutherans money to build their church.

1732:  First play in NYC at the First Theatre in NYC.  The New Theater was on Broadway and Ann St, just out of the city limits.  The performance: The Recruiting Officer, a comedy by Farquhar.  The star, Thomas Heady, was the Governor's Barber.

New York City has the most theatres in the USA.

1790:  The First U.S. Capitol moves from NYC to Philadelphia.  Federal Hall becomes New-York City Hall again.

1886:  (Alfred) Joyce Kilmer, poet, born.  He died at 31 in 1918. He is best know for the lines:

"I think I shall never see / a poem as lovely as a tree."

Columbia's Philolexian Literary Society sponsors an annual Joyce Kilmer Bad Poetry Contest.

1896:  Ira Gershwin, the great Broadway musical lyricist, born.  He died in 1983.


1906:  'Cinderella Man,' Jim Braddock, world heavyweight boxing champion 1933-37, born.  He lost the title to Joe Louis.


1907:  The great St. Jonh's Basketball team begins.  NYU prevailed 34-13.

1920:  Dave Brubeck born.

1933: The Ban on James Joyce's Ulysses is lifted.  Customs had banned it for promoting "impure and lustful thoughts."  It was censored for about eleven years.  The Federal Judge, who had spent a month reading it, declared the novel has "no dirt  for dirt's sake."

1957: The AFL-CIO expells the Teamsters.

1957:   The Fair Housing Practices Law enables New York to become the first city to ban housing discrimination based on race or creed.

1970:  The Rolling Stones' documentary "Gimme Shelter" opens in Manhattan about an ill-fated concert exactly a year before.  The Hells Angels were hired to do security at the Altamont Speedway concert and they killed an audience member.  

To many, it is an ominous bookend to the optimism of Woodstock about six months before.  

In the 1960s rock bands and writers had a romance for the Hells Angels and invited them in.  The Beatles' Apple Records was trashed by them as well.


1988:  The last New York visit by a Soviet Leader, President Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in New York.  

Less than a year later the Berlin Wall will fall.

 The Soviet Union will dissolve in 1991.

     They didn't tell us that this was going to happen in college when I graduated in 1989.  I felt like throwing away my degree.  I remember in 1983 they were hyping the USSR invading Europe with tanks and nuking the USA, which led to an even bigger military build up.

     Well, one Professor, considered batty at the time, did call the collapse of the USSR, Columbia Professor Seymour Melman, who said the US was in a Permanent War Economy that far outspent our actual military needs against a collapsing Soviet Union.  The US is still developing weapons systems at many thousands upon thousands of millions of dollars to fight the non-existent Soviet Union.  Melman warned that military spending's wasteful effects far outweighed its impact on the Gross Domestic Product, and that it is bankrupting the USA.

2010:  Santa Claus Bi-Centennial celebrated on tour starting at Federal Hall at 3:30pm.


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