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January 15th in New York City History:

The Miracle on the Hudson,
the Democrat Donkey Kicks,
Ford Foundation Founded,
Two Giants Championships,
the Deaths of two Giants.

Posted: Jan 15, 2013 | 12:21 AM

1777:  The independent republic of "New Connecticut," colloquially known as the Republic of the Green Mountains, it is created
from territories claimed by New Hampshire and New York. 

The dominance of New York was so great that, what was later named Vermont, did not join the nation until after the 12 original colonies, and what caused that was slavery politics.  Kentucky, the 13th state, was admitted as a slave state.  Vermont was one of the freest places around there. 

So fierce was Vermont's desire for independence from New York that, although they fought for American independence, they petitioned Britain for admission into Canada!  Perhaps this is why the state's name was inspired by French for Green Mountains, les monts verts.  Quebec is across their national border.

1870:  The Democrat donkey makes its first appearance courtesy of Thomas Nast and Harper's Magazine.  Nast did not like the Irish or the Democrats, so he picked an ass to personify them.

We go into this a bit on our Santa Claus Tour, because Thomas Nast popularized the look of the fat old jolly man, as well as other American icons.

1936:  The Ford Foundation founded.  For decades this diverse international philanthropic funder was the largest grant-giving foundation. 

I point out the foundation's ecologically sustainable headquarters, designed in the late 1960s, on my 42nd Street tour.  I don't think such architecture is coincidental that it's development is based on a carbon combustion fortune.

1939:  The 1938 NFL Champion New York Giants won the first Pro Bowl
against the All-Stars 13-10.

1982:  Red Smith, Pulitzer Prize winning sportswriter and columnist, died
at 76 in Connecticut.  His career spanned 35 years from 1947-1982 in four NYC based publications.

My parents, part of sports media, took me along to Martha's Vineyard in 1979 or 1980 on a visit to his summer home there.  He seemed very old to a 12 year old who had a nice life and a great deal of admiration from my parents.

1983:  Meyer Lansky, pioneering organized crime figure, died
in the role as old Jewish man walking his dogs in Miami Beach.

We go near Lanksy's speakeasy on Jewish Lower East Side tours.

1994:  Legendary Giants Quarterback Phil Simms and linebacker "LT" Lawrence Taylor played their last game, losing to the 49ers 44-3.

2001:  The Giants won the NFC Championship against Minnesota 41-0, paving the way to their third Superbowl, which they lost to Baltimore 34-7.  On today's glorious date, Giants quarterback Kerry Collins passed for 381 yards and five touchdowns. 

2009:  The "Miracle on the Hudson" just when America and the world needed a hero, as financial institutions and economies were falling,
Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger safely landed a disabled jet on the Hudson River. All 155 people aboard US Air Flight 1549 survived without even a serious injury.

The plane glided between the towers of the George Washington Bridge, skitched its tail on the river west of 96th Street, bouncing up slightly, perfectly landing 2.5 miles down to the Hudson's equivalent of 45th Street.

Local commuter ferries, as the Captain had planned on, quickly pulled up to the wings and discharged passengers.  After all, he, literally, recently wrote the book on emergency waterborne landings. 

Meanwhile, 'Sully' was wading waist high through the freezing water pouring into the plane, checking between the seats for any missing injured passengers. 

In my safety training to be a harbor tour guide we learned that in winter waters people have about seven minutes before paralyzing shock.  This is what the Captain was risking to save others after such an amazing landing.

I like to recount these stories while doing tours of the West Side, Foliage Tours that cross the GW Bridge, Downtown and Harbor Tours

When I regularly did winter harbor tours, our ship was Coast Guard restricted from the World Financial Center, where the plane, heavy with water, was hauled straight up from the river by huge mobile cranes.  We couldn't get past the buoys because the wakes would have disturbed the recovery. 


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