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January 24th in NYC History - 2 Memorials, 7 birthdays, and an award

Posted: Jan 23, 2013 | 7:00 PM
by Jared Goldstein

Remembering the four killed in the 1975 Fraunces Tavern Bombing

Frank Connor, 33; 
Harold H. Sherburne, 66; 
James Gezork, 32; and
Alejandro Berger, 28

1862:  Edith Wharton, prize-winning author and writer from Washington Square, bornShe died in 1937.

She was born named Edith Newbold Jones in a Chelsea brownstone.  The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence poignantly depict the Victorian-era the New York society of her upbringing.  Ironically, her parents looked down on writers, but she ended up on the periphery of high society, which gave her a good vantage.  She also wrote about interior decorating trends.

We see where this great New Yorker lived on Greenwich Village tours and we learn why it would horrify her if we called her neighborhood "Greenwich Village."

1915:  Abstract artist Robert Motherwell, of the "New York School" of painters born in Washington.  He died in 1991.

1917:  Ernest Borgnine, who started on Broadway in the 1940s, really started on this date in Connecticut
.  Even though he seemed old in the 1970s, he is still on this side of the earth.

1941:  Brooklyn's singer and songwriter Neil Diamond born.

1949:  John Belushi, of Saturday Night Live fame, born in Illinois.

1966:  Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, formerly HPD (New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development) Commissioner, born.

1974:  Ed Helms, the actor whose fame began on "The Daily Show," was born.

1975:  Fraunces Tavern, a birthplace of American Democracy, was bombed by FALN Terrorists, maiming and injuring fifty, and killing four

The force of the explosion was felt at the top of skyscrapers nearly a half mile away.

Despite Puerto Ricans supporting association with the United States, the FALN in the mid 1970s committed dozens of bombings in New York City and around the United States, which killed and maimed more to wage 'a war' to make Puerto Rico independent. 

The specific terrorists have never been caught, but people supporting the organization have been incarcerated, which put an end to the attacks.  After about 20 years in prison, President Clinton commuted their sentences.

The most common definition of terrorism involves the use of violence against civilians to cause a political change.  This falls under that.  The FALN left a message in a nearby phone booth taking responsibility, and a call was made to the Associated Press in conjunction with the bombing.  Perhaps influential politicians sympathizing with the FALN prevailed upon the President for clemency.  That would be a victory for political-type terrorists.

A more obscure definition of terrorism is asymmetrical warfare.  The use of relatively inexpensive destruction to cause economic damage.  Such attacks are mysterious. 

This applies to the 1920 bombing of Wall Street and both World Trade Center Attacks.  None of them had claims of responsibility, all three wanted to bring down the United States' economy.

In the 2001 case, the 9/11 attacks cost about $500,000 to commit, causing the United States to spend $2,000,000,000,000. (Two Trillion) -- a ratio of 1 dollar to 4 million dollars.  This suggests that the asymmetric-type terrorists got what they want, an expensive open-ended and debilitating war.

Both kinds of terrorism intersected in the fate of Frank Connor's family.  His two grown sons witnessed the 9/11/01 attacks which claimed their cousin, Steve Schlag, who was Frank's God-Son.

(We visit Fraunces Tavern on Colonial tours and Financial District tours.  We explore the different kinds of terrorism on Wall Street tours and World Trade Center tours.  We also explore heroism and remembrance on my National 9/11 Memorial tour.)

1986:  Actress and Comedienne Whoopi Goldberg, from the Chelsea Housing Projects, won a Golden Globe award for her performance in The Color Purple, based on Alice Walker's novel.

1993:  Harlem's Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice and civil rights leader, died in Maryland.


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