|Police at 315 Bowery at Bleecker Street, the Palace Bar & Grill, on the ground floor of the Palace Hotel, in the 1940s; later CBGB's from December 1973 to October 2006, now John Varvatos.|
Friday, September 6, 2013
Monday, April 23, 2012
|Some of the honored guests.|
|My window painting.|
Supposedly, the custom of imbibing alcohol on St. Patrick's Day comes from an old Irish legend. As the story goes, St. Patrick was served a measure of whiskey that was considerably less than full. St. Patrick took this as an opportunity to teach a lesson of generosity to the innkeeper. He told the innkeeper that in his cellar resided a monstrous devil who fed on the dishonesty of the innkeeper. In order to banish the devil, the man must change his ways. When St. Patrick returned to the hostelry some time later, he found the owner generously filling the patrons' glasses to overflowing. He returned to the cellar with the innkeeper and found the devil emaciated from the landlord's generosity, and promptly banished the demon, proclaiming thereafter everyone should have a drop of the "hard stuff" on his feast day. And here I was thinking that it was just an excuse to indulge in an unflattering Irish stereotype.
All in all, it was a great day for the Irish ... again! Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
|The bridge looking from Manhattan.|
|The Brooklyn-side arch.|
|Construction of the bridge being covered in the April 28, 1883 edition of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.|
The bridge was designed by prominent 19th-century German suspension-bridge designer John Augustus Roebling, who suffered an injury when his foot was crushed by an incoming ferry. His toes had to be amputated, but not even this prevented his wounds from getting infected and leading him to become bed-ridden and die shortly thereafter. His son Washington oversaw the completion of the bridge, but also soon suffered from caisson disease, making it unable for him to supervise construction first-hand. His wife Emily then took over, and helped deliver important messages from the engineers to her bed-ridden husband. Despite some doubt that it would ever happen, the bridge opened on May 24, 1883, when U.S. President Chester A. Arthur and New York Mayor Franklin Edison walked across the bridge to greet Brooklyn Mayor Seth Lowe at the Brooklyn-side tower. Six days later, a panic occurred that killed six people when a rumor started to spread that the bridge was going to collapse, but P.T. Barnum squelched all rumors of the bridge's instability when he led a parade across it with Jumbo, one of his most prized attractions, and twenty-one other elephants.
I first walked across the bridge when I was living in the Brooklyn Heights area almost nine years ago. The old wooden beams of the walkway are a little off-setting at first since you can see down to the speeding cars below, but they are pretty sturdy, as proven from the millions of people who walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn and back again each year. It's those bicyclists you need to look out for! Whether your on bike or on foot, just be sure to stay in your lane and check out this staple of New York City tradition.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
|A number of these signs were hung outside Trinity Church.|
|Another shot of the parade for Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969.|
|The parade for the 1996 World Series-winning Yankees.|
|New Yorkers welcome back the Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969.|
|The dedication of the Statue of Liberty launched the first parade in 1886.|
|Giants Eli Manning and Justin Tuck this year, with Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo in the background.|
|Another Yankees parade up Broadway.|
|A marker on Broadway for the 1952 U.S. Olympic Team's parade.|
|A marker on Broadway for Queen Juliana's parade in April 1952.|
The very first ticker-tape parade was an impromptu event held on October 28, 1886, in honor of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty. "Every window appeared to be a paper mill spouting out squirming lines of tape. Such was Wall Street's novel celebration," reported the New York Times the following day. The second one was held for the centenary of George Washington's inauguration, which also saw the dedication of the Washington Square Arch on Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street. Not for another ten years was the third parade held, this time for Admiral George Dewey and his destruction of the Spanish fleet at Manilla Bay. He, as well, was given an arch in his honor on Broadway between Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Street, but it was quickly dismantled due to his rapid decline in popularity. After a parade in 1910 for Theodore Roosevelt on his return from his African Safari, and one in 1919 for General Pershing following the end of World War I, parades were basically thrown for any visiting foreign dignitary. King Albert and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, the future Edward VIII of the U.K. while he was Prince of Wales, Albert Einstein (the only scientist to receive such an honor), former British Prime Minister David Loyd George, Crown Prince Gustav Adolf and Crown Princess Louise of Sweden, and W.T. Cosgrave of the Irish Free State all received parades while visiting. In the late twenties, Charles Lindbergh, Richard Byrd and Baron von Hunefeld were all given parades to honor their trans-Atlantic flights.
Now there are many calls to have a ticker-tape parade up lower Broadway for the Iraq War veterans. It sounds good to me, and with these parades only being given for sports teams nowadays, it would be a return to a more traditional group of honorees. I've been experimenting with my new video camera, so below is a video I took of some of the festivities. It's mostly surrounding buildings and the backs of a few heads, and the pastor of trinity church on a ladder, blessing the crowd with incense. Not the best video in the world, but hey, I'm working on it!
Sunday, January 22, 2012
|McSorley's in the 1940s.|
|The interior in the 1940s.|
|Wonder Woman demands a drink in 1970.|
|John Sloane's sketch from 1913.|
|Woody Guthrie performing in McSorley's in 1943.|
|St. Patrick's Day 1943 at McSorley's.|
A loyal patron who was interviewed by the New York Times in 1913 had this to say: "Somewhere below Fourteenth Street is a tavern of individuality. I won't locate it any more definitely, because the circle of congenial souls who frequent it would never forgive me. It would be spoiled for them if the crowds started going there." Well, that's gone out the window! Nowadays, McSorley's is one of the most touristy places in the city, always crowded, and over the years it's regulars have included Babe Ruth, Woody Guthrie and John Lennon. But I've got to give them credit, despite everything that's changed around them, the owners of McSorley's have worked hard to stay true to their roots as much as possible.
Joseph Mitchell, the long-time writer for the New Yorker who wrote a number of human interest stories about the more colorful characters in the city, wrote a great account of the old ale house in 1940 entitled "The Old House at Home", part of a collection of short stories entitled "McSorley's Wonderful Saloon". It is named for the bar's original name, which it kept from it's opening in 1854 until 1908, and describes old John McSorley, who drank steadily from the age of twenty to fifty-four, but abstained for the last thirty-two years of his life saying that he had "had his fill". Other than a brief experiment with spirits for a few months in 1905, John believed that all a man needed in life was a strong glass of ale. He was a big eater, cooking a three pound t-bone steak every night after closing and eating onions like apples -- the stronger the better. His motto was, "Good ale, raw onions, and no ladies", believing that men could never drink with civility in the company of women, and when Mitchell wrote his article in 1940, he described the majority of the clientele as old men who had drank their since they were young, and were now pretty much alone in the world. They were retired, living off small pensions, spending their days at the bar and their nights sleeping in flophouses on the Bowery.
A case that went all the way to the Supreme Court forced the bar to break with it's most famous tradition and allow women to drink their in 1970. And by the '90s, they introduced their first female bartender, a daughter of the current owner, much to the chagrin of some traditionalists. If you get their early enough in the day and grab a table with your friends by the pot belly stove, it's a memorable experience of drinking ale served two mugs at a time and eating their signature dish of crackers, cheese and raw onions.
Friday, December 23, 2011
|The Macy's Santa Claus.|
|Rowland Hussey Macy|
|The new Macy's store in 1907.|
|The Siegel-Cooper Big Store today.|
|The Big Store when it opened in 1896.|
|The Big Store closed in 1917, and was used as a hospital during World War I.|
|1947's "Miracle on 34th Street".|
|Henry Siegel, eager to snatch up Macy's old land, built his new store here on 14th & 6th when Macy's moved uptown. It's now an Urban Outfitters.|
Macy however saw that the center of the city was migrating uptown, and he purchased land on 34th Street from the recently closed Koster & Bial Music Hall to build the Macy's Department Store we know today. Taking up most of the block, it has an odd shape, leaving a little space on the southwest corner. Last I checked, it now has a sunglasses hut, but in 1903 was snatched up by Henry Siegel to persuade Macy to sell him the department store's old land on 14th Street. But it proved to not be a good move. Siegel didn't know what Macy did -- that the center of New York City shopping was heading uptown, as was the center of the city in general. Siegel, however, decided to move a few blocks south, and his new store on the corner of 14th and 6th went bankrupt in 1914. It's now an Urban Outfitters. The ornate "Big Store", once the toast of the town, went out of business in 1917, and served as an army hospital during World War I. For a few decades it served as factory space, and in the '80s a youth center called "The Door" was based there. The '90s however saw it's return to retail, and the building now houses a Bed, Bath & Beyond, TJ Max and Marshal's.
In the spirit of competition, the two stores introduced a number of novelties to the retail trade, such as free samples, demonstrations, money-back guarantees, and window displays. Since 1924, when the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was started by Macy's employees, Santa has sat at the end of the parade, chiming in the Christmas season. Macy's employees, many of them first-generation European immigrants, wished to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with a procession similar to one's they had back in the old country. Now every Christmas, millions of New Yorkers take their children to sit on Santa's lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. For the child, it's sometimes fun, sometimes terrifying, but always a Christmas childhood tradition. Merry Christmas, everyone!