Tag Archives: Madison Square Garden

Nikola Tesla and the Wireless World: The Invention of Remote Control

THE FIRST: STORIES OF INVENTIONS AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES  The Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla is known as one of the fathers of electricity, the curious genius behind alternating current (AC), the victor in the so-called War of the Currents. But in this episode of The First, starting in the year 1893, Tesla begins conceiving an even grander scheme — the usage of electromagnetic waves to distribute power.

Today we benefit from the electromagnetic spectrum in a variety of ways — Wi-Fi, X-rays, radio, satellites. One of the roads to these inventions begins with Tesla and his experiments with remote control, using radio waves to operate a mechanical object.

But you may be surprised to discover Tesla’s initial application of remote control. Far from inventing an children’s toy, Tesla’s remote controlled device would be used as a weapon of war.

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11 NIKOLA TESLA AND THE WIRELESS WORLD

 

Below — A sampling of newspaper headlines involving Nikola Tesla, specifically from the mid and late 1890s (when he first began thinking and experimenting with wireless) and one from 1901.

 

HE LIVES ON ELECTRICITY

Nikola Tesla Acts Like a Broken-Hearted Man, and Hasn’t a Definite Opinion Upon Anything

Electricity is Nikola Tesla’s life. Without it he is as miserable as Paul Verlaine and his absinthe stomach would be in a Maine temperance town.

July 18, 1895, The Morning News (Wilmington, Delaware)

 

DEATH LURKS IN LIVE WIRES

A Famous Electrician Discusses a Vital Topic

CHIEF POINTS OF PERIL

Nikola Tesla Tells the Non-Expert How to Avoid Dangers — Metallic Paint is a Conductor — Scienties Seeking to Save Life

August 5, 1898, Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York)

 

TO USE THE EARTH’S FORCE

Nikola Tesla’s Amazing Plan to Harness Free Currents

March 15, 1896, St. Louis Post Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri)

THE FUTURE BATH

Nikola Tesla has invented a way of cleaning the skin

Electricity a Substitute for Soap and Suds — Before and After Pictures — What He Calls the Busy Man’s Bath — More Invigorating Than Hot Water

October 25, 1898, The Plain Speaker (Hazleton, Pennsylvania)

 

TESLA’S SHIP DESTROYER

Invention for Directing Movements of Torpedo-Boats, Etc.

Electrical Device for Controlling Speed, Direction and Explosive Power at Any Distance Through Natural Media of Space

November 8, 1898, The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Indiana)

 

NAVAL WARFARE TO BE REVOLUTIONIZED

Wizard Tesla’s Brain Has Given Birth to a Device That Will Sweep the Seas of Battleships

ELECTRICAL CURRENT SENT THROUGH SPACE

November 8, 1898, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri)

 

 

NIKOLA TESLA’S LATEST INVENTION

“We have recently been informed by the public press in flamboyant rhetoric that Nikola Tesla has devised a boat which is destined to revolutionize the art of warfare.”

Scientific American, November 19, 1898

 

THAT MESSAGE FROM MARS

Scientific American, January 19, 1901

PODCAST REWIND: Remembering the original Pennsylvania Station

PODCAST The story of Pennsylvania Station involves more than just nostalgia for the long-gone temple of transportation as designed by the great McKim, Mead and White. It’s a tale of incredible tunnels, political haggling and big visions. Find out why the original Penn Station was built to look so classical, why it was then torn down, and what strange behaviors the tunnels that connect it to New Jersey exhibit every night.

ORIGINALLY RELEASED APRIL 10, 2009

THIS IS A SPECIAL ILLUSTRATED PODCAST!  Chapter headings with images have been embedded in this show, so if your listening device is compatible with AAC/M4A files, just hit play and a variety of pictures should pop up.  The audio is superior than the original as well. (This will work as a normal audio file even if the images don’t appear.)

For this and our older episodes (Episodes #5-#79), subscribe to The Bowery Boys: NYC History Archive feed, on iTunes, directly from our host page, or directly via our RSS feed.

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The Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast is brought to you …. by you!

We are now producing a new Bowery Boys podcast every two weeks.  We’re also looking to improve the show in other ways and expand in other ways as well — through publishing, social media, live events and other forms of media.  But we can only do this with your help!

We are now a member of Patreon, a patronage platform where you can support your favorite content creators for as little as a $1 a month.

Please visit our page on Patreon and watch a short video of us recording the show and talking about our expansion plans.  If you’d like to help out, there are five different pledge levels (and with clever names too — Mannahatta, New Amsterdam, Five Points, Gilded Age, Jazz Age and Empire State). Check them out and consider being a sponsor.

We greatly appreciate our listeners and readers and thank you for joining us on this journey so far. And the best is yet to come!

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The view of Penn Station from the roof of Gimbels Department Store.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

 

For this round of photographs, let’s focus on the inside of the station, shall we? To look at other shots pertaining to Penn Station, please refer to the original post from this podcast from 2009.

Images of the spectacular main waiting room and the classical Corinthian columns. Read here about something very mysterious and tragic which occurred near here in 1914.

Penn_Station_interior pennstation1911waitingroom

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

This is what greeted you as you got off the train and headed for 33rd Street.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

Crowds await the arrival of superstar preacher Billy Sunday in 1917. Read all about his visit here.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

 

The interior from the 1950s during rush hour. Getty has a terrific collection of Penn Station photographs over the years.

Getty Images
Getty Images

From this angle of the waiting room (taken in the station’s early days) you can see a statue of Alexander Cassatt, Penn Railroad’s former president, in its wall niche. Cassatt, brother of impressionist painter Mary Cassatt, never got to see the completed station, as he died in 1906. (The station opened in 1910.)

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

 

From this angle, you can really see the relation of the train platforms with one of the entrances. Seems easier to navigate than the current Penn Station, don’t you think?

penn38

Here are a few ‘cleaned up’ hi-res images from the fine folks over at Shorpy, who have a bit of a thing apparently for old Penn Station. Go over to their blog to check out the rest of their work.

Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy
Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy
Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy
Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy
Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy
Cleaned up version courtesy Shorpy

 

Happy Pope Day! A history of the holiest of New York tourists

Pope Francis arrives in New York City today — part of his first-ever trip to the United States — and the city is rolling out the red carpet. In fact, all available carpets are being rolled out and even some throw rugs.

New York loves Popes. (Not always of course.) Only the Marquis de Lafayette and the Beatles have been treated to more rapturous displays of welcome by New York City residents. The city has been host to four previous papal visits, and in each case, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral has naturally been the manic center of activity. In fact three such visits have been immortalized on plaques in front of the cathedral.

But with each trip, the pope in question managed to find a couple other unique corners of the city to visit as well.

THE FIRST POPE

Perhaps the strangest visit of all was the very first — Pope Paul VI, the controversial leader who presided over the Second Vatican Council and made a name for himself traveling all over the world. Finally in an era where a man could be both pope and jetsetter, Pope Paul arrived in New York in October of 1965 and promptly went to visit his old roommate, who was performing in a fair.

Courtesy Delcampe.net
Courtesy Delcampe.net

That roommate would be Michelangelo’s Pieta, on loan from St. Peter’s hallways to the Vatican pavilion at the 1964-65 World’s Fair.

The Pope visited the Fair on October 4, 1965, on a busy day that also included mass at Yankee Stadium (the first papal mass ever in the United States), an address to the United Nations, and a meeting in the city with president Lyndon Johnson at the Waldorf-Astoria.

5th October 1965: Photo by Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images
5th October 1965: Photo by Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images

Many will remember the thousands of people who greeted the Pope in the original Pope-mobile (“a closed, bubble-top limousine”) during its 25-mile procession through the city. Here’s a fact to delight your friends and neighbors — the first American bridge ever crossed by a Pope in all of history was the Queensboro Bridge.

Today a rounded bench, or exedra, sits in Flushing Meadows park honoring the moment Pope Paul visited the Pavilion. (It seems that whenever a Pope hovers in a place for more than a few minutes, a plaque or monument springs up in its place.)

By the way, I found this extraordinary page full of great photos about that first Pope-mobile.

Length of his visit: 13 1/2 hours

AP Photo/Courtesy New York Daily News
AP Photo/Courtesy New York Daily News

 

THE SECOND POPE — FIRST VISIT

But it’s Pope John Paul who’s the real New York favorite; he held the papal throne for so long that he managed two trips to Gotham City — in 1979 and 1995.

His October 1979 trip was like a rock concert tour, also swinging through Philadelphia, Boston, D.C., Chicago and Des Moines. Part of the enthusiasm was because John Paul, at 58 years old, had just been appointed the year before.

In 1969, as a cardinal, he had held mass at Yankee Stadium, so by the time he did it again on October 2, 1979 — as the Pope — he was as much a fixture as Reggie Jackson. Rain greeted over 9,000 cheering worshippers — or fans — and, according to legend, when the Pope mounted the ballfield to address the crowd, the rain showers stopped. And as a blessing for Mets fans, the next day the Pope also held rapt an audience of 52,000 at Shea Stadium.

Below: the Pope at Yankee Stadium

Courtesy US News and World Report
Courtesy US News and World Report

But like all rock stars, the Pope couldn’t complete his New York odyssey without a performance at Madison Square Garden. Although John Paul also addressed the U.N. and a Saint Patrick’s audience during that trip, he’s best remembered by many for his inspirational address on October 3rd to 19,000 city children.

Saint Patrick’s honored his Holiness’s visit in 1979 by installing a bust. But he would be back. On almost exactly the same day, sixteen years later.

Length of his visit: Almost 48 hours

THE SECOND POPE — THE SECOND VISIT

New York City in 1995 was a vastly different city and John Paul returned for a longer visit — four days in total in the entire New York area — on October 4th. This time, instead of just delivering messages to the clergy gathered at Saint Patrick’s, he spontaneously decided he wanted to walk around the block. And why not? You’ve got shopping, Saks, street vendors selling Pope souvenirs!

Below: In the Pope-mobile, riding by Saks Fifth Avenue

Courtesy Wall Street Journal
Courtesy Wall Street Journal

 

The Pope also finished off his collection of performing in gigantic venues for mass — holding court in Giants Stadium, the Aquaduct Racetrack in Ozone Park and eventually to 100,000 people on the great lawn in Central Park.

From there, the elderly leader of the Catholic Church gave the city the ultimate shout-out: “This is New York! The great New York! This is Central Park. The beautiful surroundings of Central Park invite us to reflect on a more sublime beauty: the beauty of every human being, made in the image and likeness of God. Then you can tell the whole world that you gave the pope his Christmas present in October, in New York, in Central Park.”

Length of his visit: Almost four days! He couldn’t get enough.

Courtesy Chris Hondros/Getty Images./New York Daily News
Courtesy Chris Hondros/Getty Images./New York Daily News

 

THE THIRD POPE

Pope Benedict XVI came to New York for three days, two nights (April 18-20), arriving in Manhattan on a military helicopter and breaking the apparently holy tradition of visiting New York in the early Fall.  (Still would have needed a light sweater or vestment.)  But Benedict, as the cardinal formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, actually visited the city in that lesser role in 1988, where apparently he was met with protest from gay activists and shunned by some prominent Jewish leaders.

He hit all the “usual” Pope spots — Saint Patricks, the United Nations, Yankee Stadium — but added a couple interesting detours: Park East Synagogue, St Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, and the World Trade Center site.

Below: The Pope viewing the World Trade Center site

 April 20, 2008 Courtesy MSNBC
April 20, 2008 Courtesy MSNBC

 

Length of his visit: Almost 72 hours

THE FOURTH POPE

Pope Francis’ exhausting itinerary can be found here.  He’ll make stops first for evening prayer at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, then to the residence of the Apostolic nuncio at the United Nations to sleep.  He speaks to the U.N. Assembly in the morning, then down to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum by lunchtime.

Perhaps the most intriguing stop will come in the afternoon, meeting with students from Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem. Whereas the first Pope to come New York fifty years rode through East Harlem in his covered Pope-mobile, Pope Francis will chat with a third-grade class filled with children who will have quite a story to tell their grandkids.

Afterwards he will travel through Central Park and arrive at Madison Square Garden for Mass. At rush hour! Oh right, all the streets are closed. In fact, Fifth Avenue right now is contained in a large fence, easily the tightest security I’ve ever seen here.

12042997_10154366542979852_7760758446010311988_n

But Pope Francis is a man of many surprises. Could he decide that he wants to walk the High Line? And how can he visit New York and not even visit Brooklyn? Is the Pope a Girls fan?

 

 

This is a heavily revised version of an article that originally ran in 2008 when Pope Benedict visited New York City.

 

 

The Murder of Stanford White

PODCAST The tale behind the brutal murder of renown architect Stanford White on the roof garden of Madison Square Garden, the building that was one of his greatest achievements.

On the evening of June 25, 1906, during a performance of Mam’zelle Champagne on the rooftop of Madison Square Garden, the architect Stanford White was brutally murdered by Harry Kendall Thaw. The renown of White’s professional career — he was one of New York’s leading social figures — and the public nature of the assassination led newspapers to call it the Crime of the Century.  But many of the most shocking details would only be revealed in a courtroom, exposing the sexual and moral perversities of some of the city’s wealthiest citizens.

White, as a member of the prestigious firm McKim, Meade and White, was responsible for some of New York’s most iconic structures including Pennsylvania Station, the Washington Square Arch and Madison Square Garden, where he was slain. But his gracious public persona disguised a personal taste for young chorus girls, often seduced at his 24th Street studio, famed for its ‘red velvet swing’.

Evelyn Nesbit was only a teenager when she became a popular artist’s model and a cast member in Broadway’s hottest musical comedy. White wooed her with the trappings of luxury and subsequently took advantage of her. The wealthy playboy Harry Thaw also fell for Nesbit — and grew insanely jealous of White. Soon his hatred would envelop him, leading to the unfortunate events of that tragic summer night.

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and TuneIn streaming radio from your mobile devices.

Or listen to it straight from here:
The Bowery Boys #188: The Murder of Stanford White

 

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The Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast is brought to you …. by you!

We are now producing a new Bowery Boys podcast every two weeks.  We’re also looking to improve the show in other ways and expand in other ways as well — through publishing, social media, live events and other forms of media.  But we can only do this with your help!

We are now a member of Patreon, a patronage platform where you can support your favorite content creators for as little as a $1 a month.

Please visit our page on Patreon and watch a short video of us recording the show and talking about our expansion plans.  If you’d like to help out, there are five different pledge levels (and with clever names too — Mannahatta, New Amsterdam, Five Points, Gilded Age, Jazz Age and Empire State). Check them out and consider being a sponsor.

We greatly appreciate our listeners and readers and thank you for joining us on this journey so far. And the best is yet to come!

________________________________________________________________________

 

THE UNFORTUNATE TRIO

Stanford White

White as a young man (with an enormous mustache!)

9

 

 

Stanford White — date unknown but presumed to be 1906, the year he died.

 

stanford_white_012

 

 

Evelyn Nesbit

Evelyn in 1900, photo taken by Gertrude Käsebier

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

A 1901 theatrical card (possibly for Floradora?) taken by Otto Sarony

Harvard University - Houghton Library
Harvard University – Houghton Library

 

Evelyn in 1902, photo taken by Otto Sarony

Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University

 

The following photographs of Evelyn Nesbit were taken in 1913. She would be divorced from Harry Thaw in less than two years.

1
Library of Congress

 

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

 

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

From the Ogden Standard-Examiner, November 14, 1920

ogden

 

Harry Kendall Thaw

Thaw in 1910

14

 

jail

in September 1913, Thaw escaped from the institution to Canada. He was eventually captured and brought back to the states. Here he is in New Hampshire, awaiting transportation back to Matteawan.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

Thaw leaving court in July 1915 after he was declared mentally sane.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

 

SCENE OF THE CRIME

Madison Square Garden, taken in 1905 from inside the park

Museum of the City of New York
Museum of the City of New York

The rooftop theater at Madison Square Garden, pictured here circa 1900

Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York

 

The tower at Madison Square Garden, topped with the scandalous Diana weather vane.

Courtesy George Eastman House
Courtesy George Eastman House

 

OTHER SETTINGS

The Casino Theatre, home of the show Florodora, where Evelyn Nesbit was featured, despite her young age

casino theater 1896

A scene from Florodora in 1900

floro

The former Hotel Lorraine, where Nesbit and Thaw were staying on the night of the murder. The address is 545 Fifth Avenue.

Courtesy Flickr/Anonymous A
Courtesy Flickr/Anonymous A

Inside the dining room of Sherry’s Restaurant (44th and 5th Avenue), where Harry Thaw got boozed up before meeting with Evelyn.

MNY210712

Sherry’s in 1905 — 44th Street and 5th Avenue

sherry

Cafe Martin in 1908, where Evelyn and Harry had dinner before the show

Museum of the City of New York
Museum of the City of New York

 

The Tombs — Where Harry Thaw was imprisoned during the original trial

tombs

Ludlow Street Jail— Crowds linger outside during the last of the many Thaw trials.  For most of his jail time, he was held in the Tombs.  According to a Library of Congress commenter: “His lawyers successfully asked the court to move him from The Tombs to the Ludlow Street Jail, on the basis that he was not charged in a criminal matter, but that he was to have a jury trial only as to his present sanity.”

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

 

A 1907 nickelodeon film called The Unwritten Law about the crime.

Newsreel footage from 1915 of Thaw’s release.

 

Evelyn Nesbit performing in a nightclub in the 1930s (not sure of the club).  Start the video at around 2:15:

 

The trailer to The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing, a highly fictionalized account of the crime. Nesbit was a consultant for the film.

Flatiron Building: A Three-Sided Story

PODCAST For our 8th anniversary episode, we’re revisiting one of New York City’s great treasures and a true architectural oddity — the Flatiron Building.

When they built this structure at the corner of Madison Square Park (and completed in 1902), did they realize it would be an architectural icon AND one of the most photographed buildings in New York City?

1The George A. Fuller Company, one of the most powerful construction firms in Chicago, decided to locate their new New York office building in a flashy place — a neighborhood with no skyscrapers, on a plot of land that was thin and triangular in shape. They brought in Daniel Burnham, one of America’s greatest architects, to create a one-of-a-kind, three-sided marvel, presenting a romantic silhouette and a myriad of optical illusions.

The Flatiron Building was also known for the turbulent winds which sometimes blew out its windows and tossed up the skirts of women strolling to Ladies Mile. It’s a subject of great art and a symbol of the glamorous side of Manhattan.  In this show, we bring you all sides of this structure’s incredible story.

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and Player FM from your mobile devices.

Or listen to it straight from here:
The Bowery Boys #184: The Flatiron Building: A Story From Three Sides

Below: A cleaned up look at the Flatiron Building, courtesy Shorpy. Click here for a look at the details!

Courtesy Shorpy
Courtesy Shorpy

 

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The Bowery Boys: New York City History podcast is brought to you …. by you!

Starting this month, we are doubling our number of episodes per month. Now you’ll hear a new Bowery Boys podcast every two weeks.  We’re also looking to improve the show in other ways and expand in other ways as well — through publishing, social media, live events and other forms of media.  But we can only do this with your help!

We are now a member of Patreon, a patronage platform where you can support your favorite content creators for as little as a $1 a month.

Please visit our page on Patreon and watch a short video of us recording the show and talking about our expansion plans.  If you’d like to help out, there are five different pledge levels (and with clever names too — Mannahatta, New Amsterdam, Five Points, Gilded Age, Jazz Age and Empire State). Check them out and consider being a sponsor.

We greatly appreciate our listeners and readers and thank you for joining us on this journey so far. And the best is yet to come!

 

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A dramatic illustration of 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue, where the Flatiron Building would soon stand. From here you can see the taller Cumberland building which would be used for billboards.

5

 

 

The structures that pre-dated the Flatiron Building, pictured here in 1897.

Courtesy Museum of City of New York
Courtesy Museum of City of New York

1

 

The smaller buildings have already been cleared away for the construction of the Fuller/Flatiron Building, but the taller building remains to some promotion of Heinz products.

Courtesy vintageimages.com
Courtesy vintageimages.com

Construction of the Flatiron, picture from late 1901 or early 1902.

6
Courtesy Library of Congress

From every angle, the Flatiron takes on a new shape…..

Courtesy New York Public LIbrary
Courtesy New York Public LIbrary

…inspiring artists like Edward Steichen to frame the building in romantic and even mysterious ways (such as his iconic shot from 1904)

edward

A view, similar to the classic one above, of the Flatiron after a snowstorm in 1905

Courtesy New York Public Library
Courtesy New York Public Library

The Flatiron has inspired thousands of photo-mechanical post cards back in the day, highlighting its alluring shape-shifting form upon the changing New  York skyline.

2

Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

The cigar store in the narrow ‘cowcatcher’ served as a recruitment office during World War I, topped with military weaponry.

Courtesy Library of Congress
Courtesy Library of Congress
Courtesy Library of Congress
Courtesy Library of Congress

Another postcard focused on the Flatiron’s particularly windy properties!

wind

 

American Mutoscope and Biography Co. filmed this humorous look at ladies in the wind on October 26, 1903:

 

A Max Ettlinger illustration from 1915 — Flatiron, you’re drunk!

Courtesy Museum of City of New York
Courtesy Museum of City of New York

 

A July 4th parade, passing up Fifth Avenue.

Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

The Flatiron in 1935, from an angle that makes it appear almost two dimensional.

1935

 

The Flatiron — still a magnet for budding photographers everywhere! Here a couple modern images from photographers Jeffrey Zeldman, Thomas HawkGiandomenico RicciAnurag Yagnik, and eric molina.

Courtesy Jeffrey Zeldman/Flickr
Courtesy Jeffrey Zeldman/Flickr
Courtesy Jeffrey Zeldman/Flickr
Courtesy Jeffrey Zeldman/Flickr
Courtesy Thomas Hawk/flickr
Courtesy Thomas Hawk/flickr
Courtesy Giandomenico Ricci/Flickr
Courtesy Giandomenico Ricci/Flickr
Courtesy Anurag Yagnik/Flickr
Courtesy Anurag Yagnik/Flickr
Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH
Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

 

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CORRECTION: A small correction to this week’s show. The beautiful Madison Square Garden tower — with the nude Diana statue — is actually in a Spanish style, not an Italian style.

The Arches of Madison Square Park

Memorial arches have been a dramatic way to honor military victories, dating back to the Roman times. Naturally, in a city with abundant Beaux-Arts classical-style architecture, New York has erected its share of grand archways. Two spectacular examples exist today — the Washington Square Arch and the Soldiers and Sailors and Sailors Memorial Arch in Brooklyn.

But the area which has been host to the most arches has been Madison Square Park. Sadly the only arches you can find near here are McDonalds Golden Arches on 23rd Street and Madison.

There are been four total arches here, all of them on Fifth Avenue near the park:

The George Washington Arches – 1889

Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York

Two arches celebrating the 100th anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration were on Fifth Avenue — one at 23rd Street at the southern side of the park, and another at 26th Street at the northern side.

These, of course, were accompanied by another arch further down Fifth Avenue at Washington Square Park.  That arch, designed by Stanford White, was considerably better received than the Madison Square versions, so much so that White designed a permanent one in 1893.

Below: The 1889 arch up at the northern corner of Fifth Avenue and 26th Street

Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy the Museum of the City of New York

 

Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

The Dewey Arch – 1899-1900

This ornate and exceptionally lavish structure was built to commemorate a then-recent event — the victory of Admiral George Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay, which took place on May 1, 1898.

The Dewey Arch was far showier than the earlier arches: “The great triumphal arch to be erected in this city in honor of the return of Admiral Dewey will not only be worthy of the occasion, but will be the most elaborate and artistic structure of its kind ever attempted here or in Europe.” [NYT]

4

Madison Square Garden, just on the other corner of the park, was closed to construct the statue.  For Dewey’s triumphant arrival in New York in late September 1899, the entire city was lit up with ‘fairy lamps‘ to greet the procession.  The fireworks display for the event would be the greatest the city has ever seen.

It seems, however, that the Dewey Arch was massively rushed, built in hot haste according to reports. Although a great many petitioned for a permanent Dewey Arch in its place that winter, people had moved on by the winter of 1900 when it was unceremoniously torn down. 

Courtesy Library of Congress
Courtesy Library of Congress

 

 

Courtesy of Museum of City of New York
Courtesy of Museum of City of New York

Victory Arch — 1918-20

By 1918, the area around Madison Square Park was quite a transformed place with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower and the Flatiron Building now in attendance to witness the fourth arch, built to honor those in New York who had died thus far in the battles of World War I.

This arch was equally as ornate as the previous arch occupant, designed by Thomas Hastings (co-architect of the New York Public Library). It was built in wood and plaster and also, apparently, in haste.

Below: The ‘Altar of Jewels’ glowing to signal victory

6

At the completion of the war, It was the focal point of a gigantic parade greeting arriving troops on March 25, 1919, a parade which turned quite rowdy. “The greatest crowd that ever gathered in New York City upon any occasion, and the most difficult to handle,” was how the New York Times described it. “The worst point of disorder was the district around the Victory Arch at Twenty-Third Street, where thousands and thousands fought among themselves or combined against the police in an effort to get a vantage point.” [source]

This arch was not spared either. It was soon villified as an icon of wasteful spending by no less than future mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. “The Altar of Liberty was renamed the “Altar of Extravagance,” the Victory Arch “Wasteful Arch,” and the Altar of Jewels — the “Arch of Folly.”  It was ripped down in the summer of 1920, although the damage to the park would last throughout the year. [source]

Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
Courtesy Museum of the City of New York

 

THIS is New York Fashion Week — as it might have been in 1915

 New York Fashion Week, the city’s twice-yearly celebration of couture and runway, traces its roots to a 1943 press week event at the Plaza Hotel, organized by publicist Eleanor Lambert.  But there had been a variety of one-off ‘fashion weeks’ or American fashion events in the  years between the wars.  In 1934, the Mayfair Mannequin Academy, a local modeling school, even petitioned Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to declare an official New York Fashion Week as a way to encourage American designers who worked in an industry dominated by Paris.

But well before any of those events, New York’s most famous runway show took place on the street — the Sunday promenades along Fifth Avenue.  It was especially robust during Easter with wealthy women trying to outdo each other in latest styles from Europe.  Newspapers covered Easter Sunday with the same fervor as a modern fashion show, noting colors, hem lines, and even the plumage flagrantly bursting from hats.

While there was no dedicated ‘fashion week’ one hundred years ago, there was heightened and excited attention to of-the-moment fashion trends.  So here’s a little thought experiment — what would an actual Fashion Week in 1915 look like?

There would in fact be fashion-related events at Madison Square Garden (in its original location off of Madison Square) so let’s put this imaginary Fashion Week there:

from September 4, 1903, New York Evening World
from September 4, 1903, New York Evening World

 

An End to Bondage

Women’s fashion would be affected by the war in Europe in many ways.  Travel restrictions put an end to the constant flow of fashion queues from Paris. New ideas that were strictly American could begin influencing the way women dressed here.

The growing independence of women also allowed for a looser, more comfortable style.  Gone from the streets were the dreaded hobble skirts, limiting the ability of women to take long strides. (Anything for fashion!) What audiences might have seen in 1915 were skirt styles that opened up at the bottom, allowing for freer movement.

Ladies' Costume (6505) ; Blouse (6362) ; Ladies' Four-Piece Skirt (6517) ; Blouse (6450) ; Ladies' Two-Piece Draped Skirt (6526) ; Ladies' Semiprincess Costume (6473) ; Motifs (12193) ; Blouse (6331) ; Skirt (6503) ; Scallop (11661). Courtesy New York Public Library
Ladies’ Costume (6505) ; Blouse (6362) ; Ladies’ Four-Piece Skirt (6517) ; Blouse (6450) ; Ladies’ Two-Piece Draped Skirt (6526) ; Ladies’ Semiprincess Costume (6473) ; Motifs (12193) ; Blouse (6331) ; Skirt (6503) ; Scallop (11661). Courtesy New York Public Library

These would come to be called ‘war crinoline’, essentially a precursor to a modern conservative skirt and described as bell-shaped, a “very full calf-length skirt” requiring extra fabric to attain its flowy, romantic look.

This would seem to be antithetical to wartime thinking — when lifestyles were often pared back — but these larger gowns were touted as practical fashion and thus ‘patriotic’ in their intent.  The role of women in wartime, many thought, was to simply look their best. At least, this was the line many fashion designers took during the era.

1915 Delineator Spring dresses
1915 Delineator Spring dresses
New York Sun, August 1915
New York Sun, August 1915

Revolutionary Undergarments

While some women would continue to subject themselves to the corset, the practicalities of life soon led to its unpopularity.  In 1914, Carisse Crosby, a well-connected society heiress from New Rochelle, received the patent for a revolutionary new form of support  — the modern bra.  Called the backless brassiere, the invention further facilitated a departure from stiff and uncomfortable silhouettes.

Crosby (really named Mary Phelps Jacobs) was a well connected society woman and would have been milling about the crowd at Madison Square Garden.  In 1915 she married the Boston Brahmin playboy Richard Peabody and eventually moved to Manhattan when she became pregnant with his child.

Lingerie And Negligees, 1915. Courtesy New York Public LIbrary
Lingerie And Negligees, 1915. Courtesy New York Public LIbrary

 

from the New York Evening World, October 21, 1915
from the New York Evening World, October 21, 1915

The Gradual Straight Line

Perhaps the boldest fashion transition in the 1910s was the subtle shift from curvaceous, hour-glass forms to a straight, shapeless silhouette.  While the war crinoline still required a narrow waist for some of its dramatics, competing styles leaned towards sleekness.   This was an evolution from the Empire waist which had gained a resurgence earlier in the decade.

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Rise of the Dangerous

The predominant form of women’s fashion in the 1920s — the boyish flapper with sleek dresses and short hair — would rise from the edgier look of the ‘vamp’, best embodied in the late 1910s by film and stage actress Theda Bara.  This took the reformed instincts of woman’s fashion to its extreme. Sexuality became more overt and stylized, from bold makeup to exposed flesh.  This was certainly not the look of your average lady on the street, but soon slight shades of the vamp style would eventually seep into everyday fashion.

Theda Bara in the 1915 film Sin
Theda Bara in the 1915 film Sin

 

The Popularity of Make-Up

It was unseemly of women to paint their faces with too many cosmetics during the late 19th century. But by the mid 1910s, women were influenced by actresses and dancers, and taboos against wearing cosmetics were relaxed.  The natural pale complexion so desired a decade earlier gave way to a kind of democratization that only makeup could provide.  Women were allowed to heighten the drama in their faces and mask the imperfections.

In 1915, two major forces in women’s beauty opened salons on Fifth Avenue — Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein. Both heavily influenced by the Parisian fashion aesthetic, elite New York women flocked to their shops.   Within a decade, these two entrepreneurs would be the anchors of a burgeoning and highly lucrative beauty industry.

from a 1915 Gimbels fashion magazine, courtesy  the blog Historically Romantic
from a 1915 Gimbels fashion magazine, courtesy the blog Historically Romantic

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Hints of the ‘Little Black Dress’?

Black was not worn by women of gaiety and glamour.  It was strictly the hue of mourning during the Gilded Age and rarely made an appearance in actual evening wear.  However in an imagined fashion show in 1915, you may have seen a slight hint of it here or there, although not very practical and only as part of bold ‘vamp’ styling of its time.  It might have seemed edgy and even a bit bizarre, something only a worldly woman might have worn.

It would take another decade — and the influence of Coco Chanel — to bring the black dress into fashionable prominence. It would eventually becoming one of the defining looks of the New York woman.

from a 1915 Pictoral Review
from a 1915 Pictoral Review
A brief skating fashion fad inspired this spread in the New York Tribune, November 14 1915
A brief skating fashion fad inspired this spread in the New York Tribune, November 14 1915

Driving Attire

The continued popularity of the automobile required specific sorts of fashion to protect the clothes from dust.  These items found their way into regular wear.  This article from an August 1, 1915, issue of the New York Sun proclaims the return of the smock. “The smock is worn in the garden and on the golf links.”

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Still A World of Hats

One taste that didn’t wander far was the love of hats. While flamboyant hats still topped many society ladies head, styles eventually became a little serious with nautical and even military influences.

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Even the school girls got into the act of fashion!  Here’s a pair from the first day of school in 1915….

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Rudolph Valentino, the seductive, tragic idol of the Jazz Age

PODCAST  Rudolph Valentino was an star from the early years of Hollywood, but his elegant, randy years in New York City should not be forgotten.  They helped make him a premier dancer and a glamorous actor. And on August 23, 1926, this is where the silent film icon died.

Valentino arrived in Ellis Island in 1913, one of millions of Italians heading to America to begin a new life.  In his case, he was escaping a restless life in Italy and a set of mounting debts! But he quickly distinguished himself in New York thanks to his job as a taxi dancer at the glamorous club Maxim’s, where he mingled with one particular Chilean femme fatale.

He headed to Hollywood and became a huge film star in 1921, thanks to the film The Sheik, which set his reputation as the consummate Latin Lover.  Throughout his career, he returned to New York to make features (in particular, those as his Astoria movie studio), and he once even judged a very curious beauty pageant at Madison Square Garden.

In 1926, he headed here not only to promote his sequel Son Of The Sheik, but to display his masculinity after a scathing article blamed him for the effeminacy of the American male!
Sadly, however, he tragically and suddenly (and, some would say, mysteriously) died at a Midtown hospital.  People were so shocked by his demise that the funeral chapel (in the area of today’s Lincoln Center) was mobbed for almost a week, its windows smashed and the streets paralyzed by mourners — or where those people paid by the film studio?Here are the details of the tragedy that many consider one of the most important cultural events of the 1920s.

ALSO: We are proud to introduce to you — POLA! 

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services, subscribe to our RSS feed or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and Player FM from your mobile devices.

Or listen to it straight from here:
The Bowery Boys #170: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino

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The young dancer was employed at Maxims on 110 West 38th Street.  From a 1916 guidebook: “A famous ‘smart’ restaurant. A la carte. Music, dancing, cabaret, from 6:30 to close. High prices. Special ladies luncheon at noon.”  Valentino would use his skills as a struggling actor in Los Angeles and incorporate it into his film work.  Below: Valentino with Alice Terry

Valentino’s breakthrough film — The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  “He paints the town red!” “Each kiss flamed with danger!”  Like many of his movies, the plot seems taken from his life.  Valentino spent some time as a youth in Paris, dancing and dining his way through the city (and into debt). (NYPL)

The Sheik, the film that made his reputation:

From Blood and Sand (1922) — In this one, the Italian Valentino plays a Spanish toreador. (NYPL)

Mineralava Beauty Clay, the sponsor of Valentino and Rambova’s cross-country tango trip:

Newsreel footage of Valentino at Madison Square Garden judging the Mineralava Beauty Clay competition:

The Hotel Ambassador at Park Avenue and 51 Street.  This is where Valentino boxed the reporter (on the rooftop) to defend his masculinity and where he was staying on August 15, 1926, when he collapsed.

Most people are familiar with the Ambassador due to another iconic film star and her memorable photo shoot (by Ed Feingersh) on the rooftop:

Rudolph in Monsieur Beaucaire, filmed at the Famous Players (later Paramount) studio in Astoria, Queens:

Downstairs, in the studio commissary, with Valentino (at left) and the cast of the film.  Today this room is a restaurant named The Astor Room, which features cocktails named for silent film stars. There’s even a Valentino-themed cocktail called Blood and Sand!

Polyclinic Hospital at 345 West 50th Street, where Valentino died on August 23, 1926.  The building still exists today as an apartment complex. (Picture courtesy Museum of the City of New York)

West 50th Street. Polyclinic Hospital.

Pictures of the mad, chaotic crowds outside Frank Campbell’s Funeral Church during the week of August 23-30, 1926:

Pola Negri, who made quite a scene at the funeral of Valentino (NYPL):

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 30, 1926

Newsreel footage of his funeral in Midtown Manhattan — from Frank Campbell’s (in today’s Lincoln Center area) to St Malachy’s on West 49th Street:

SOURCES AND SUGGESTED READING:
Note: Don’t say we didn’t warn you! There’s a lot of material that seems to be based on speculation.  Thoughts of possible sexual adventures have sent many authors into wild fits of imagination. (  Enter the back catalog of Valentino at your own risk:

Rudolph Valentino: A Wife’s Memories of an Icon by Natacha Rambova and Hala Pickford
The Valentino Mystique: The Death and Afterlife of a Silent Film Idol by Allen R Ellenberger and Edoardo Ballerini
Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino by Emily W. Leider
The Valentino Affair: The Jazz Age Murder Scandal That Shocked New York Society and Gripped The World by Colin Evans
The Intimate Life of Rudolph Valentino by Jack Scagnetti
Falcon Lair — an indispensable online resource for all things Valentino
Publications sited:  New York Times, New Yorker, Newark News, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York Sun

Almost his entire film catalog is available to watch for free on YouTube.  These include The Sheik, Blood And Sand, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Son of the Sheik and his Astoria-made film Monsieur Beaucaire.  Another film he made in Astoria — A Sainted Devil — has been lost with no extant copies available.

History in the Making 3/19 “Opulent Grandeur” Edition

Arriving at Madison Square Garden one century ago, you would find the Barnum & Bailey circus in town with their new spectacular, The Wizard Prince of Arabia. (Poster from the blog My Delineated Life)

All Nine Lives: The odd, little tale of Peter, the pole-sliding fire cat from Bushwick. [The Hatching Cat]

Prince Charles: What do Fiorello LaGuardia, Woody Guthrie, Diane Arbus and Goodnight Moon have in common? [Forgotten NY]

My Khaleesi:  An ominous fire-breathing dragon landed in front of Lincoln Center last night. No, really. [Gothamist]

A Classy Discovery: The horse-adorned remains of an Upper East Side riding school and former home of an illegal raffle racket. [Daytonian in Manhattan]

DINE WITH SLIM: A host of old New York neon signs from over 75 years ago. [New York Neon]

And finally, if you’re looking to save money this summer, Bowery Boys co-host Tom Meyers gives some tips on budget travel for the podcast Amateur Traveler. [Listen here or download on iTunes]

Below: Advertisement for the Barnum and Bailey Circus, March 25, 1914. Featuring ‘Fifty Famously Funny Clowns’…..

The Alienist by Caleb Carr, released 20 years ago this week: Retracing the steps of this Gilded Age murder mystery

NOTE: This article has a few plot spoilers but no major twists are revealed or discussed.  I’ve tried to write the descriptions within the interactive map as vaguely as possible.

The Alienist by Caleb Carr was published 20 years ago this week, an instant best-seller in 1994 that has become a cult classic among history buffs.  Despite some creakiness uniquely inherent to early ’90s fiction thrillers, it remains today a page-turning and utterly spellbinding adventure.

Although the Jack the Ripper murders were an obvious inspiration for Carr, perhaps The Alienist‘s biggest influence is The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.  Carr completed his tale of serial murders in the Gilded Age just as a slew of Silence knockoffs began hitting the bookshelves.  The Alienist stands far above the pack, of course, but you can’t deny its success in 1994 was partially inspired by reader’s cravings for murderers with perverted tastes and body parts in formaldehyde jars.

The Alienist follows a quirky team of investigators in 1896 as they follow the bloody trail of a killer with a peculiar penchant for boy prostitutes, often dressed as girls to the delight of their clientele.  Dr. Laszlo Kreizler is the alienist (or psychologist) in charge of the case, stitching together a profile of the loathsome figure, conveniently using soon-to-be standard analytic techniques.

At right: Alternate artwork for The Alienist (Courtesy Nerd Blerp)

As protagonist John Schuyler Moore, a reporter for the New York Times, explains it “[W]e start with the prominent features of the killings themselves, as well as the personality traits of the victims, and from those we determine what kind of man might be at work. Then, using evidence that would otherwise have seemed meaningless, we begin to close in.”

Carr’s book is finely detailed, perhaps overly detailed, which won’t be a problem if you love New York City history.  There are over two dozen scenes at various notable landmarks throughout Manhattan, some in various states of construction.  Several real-life figures make appearances, although the most entertaining characters are Carr’s own, including the intrepid proto-policewoman Sara Howard and scrappy errand boy Stevie ‘Stovepipe’ Taggart.

When I first read The Alienist back in 1994, I was struck by its preciseness, an expertly placed breadcrumb trail through old Gotham.  There is no romantic gloss, as in another history classic Time and Again. He makes it seem possible to retrace almost every step of our heroes. (In researching this article, I tried to do so.)  The original New York Times review noted that “[y]ou can practically hear the clip-clop of horses’ hooves echoing down old Broadway.”  They’re still echoing.

The story begins in the early months of 1896 during a robust winter. Below, from the Illustrated American, a depiction of a snowy Madison Square that year (NYPL):

His depiction of old New York is still glorious.  The book’s polite take on certain social issues, however, read a bit wobbly today.  To his credit, Carr tackles police corruption, gender discrimination, racial prejudice and the plight of homosexuals, all while elaborating on complicated psychological theories in service of an entertaining story.  He has stuffed a hidden epic of New York into the framework of a modern murder mystery.  That he chooses to handle hot-button social issues with kid gloves is not a misstep, but merely a symptom of its genre and day.

The Alienist is still greatly enjoyable, perhaps slightly more so now.  Thanks to renewed interest in New York City history, the details here are even more shimmering and vital.  This is not an old New York emerging from a mysterious fog, but a world that seems to exist alongside our own.

And to prove that — below you will find a detailed, interactive map of the pivotal locations used in the book.  You can click into various points for further details.  A few of these pins have pictures and other links. Just zoom in and choose a location!  (NOTE: Some locations are approximate and a couple are speculation.)

 

A little elaboration on certain elements of the book’s bigger places and themes:

Paresis Hall 
Most of the murder victims are boy prostitutes employed as several houses of ill repute throughout the city.  Paresis Hall, located steps from Cooper Union, sounds like it was both a place where gay men could congregate in private clubs and a place of sexual transaction, often (as in the book) with underage boys dressed up as girls.  This boy, Nathaniel ‘ The Kid’ Cullen, may have worked there, or may have just a habitue of the club. (He appears in this collection of photographs from Paresis Hill.)

Madison Square 
This was still a thriving center for culture and dignified entertainments in 1896. Many theaters clustered around the park, although newer stages were making their way up Broadway to Herald Square.  If Delmonico’s (on the northwest corner) is too crowded for you, head over to the tea room at Madison Square Garden on the northeast side.  Pictured here in 1893, three years before the events of the Alienist. (NYPL)

Murray Hill Distributing Reservoir
In 1896, New York still relied on this reservoir to provide most people with water.  But it was also a tourist destination in itself, with walking paths along the top.  Shortly after its appearance it the book, the Egyptian-inspired reservoir was torn down to make way for New York’s new public library. (NYPL)

Bellevue Hospital and Morgue
Check out our podcast and blog posting on the history of Bellevue Hospital, as many of the details mentioned there appear in this book.  Below: Bellevue in 1879.

Isabella Goodwin
Sara Howard seems to be a little bit Nellie Bly, and a lot Isabella Goodwin, the first female office promoted to detective in 1896 (the year the book is set).  Below: A front-page case cracked by Goodwin from February 1912.

New York Aquarium
Carr’s narrative features several New York landmarks in construction.  Two of those places take a morbid center stage in the book — the Williamsburg Bridge and the nearly completed New York Aquarium (the former Castle Garden) (NYPL)

Theodore Roosevelt
Carr weaves several real life figures into the storyline, from J.P. Morgan (who comes off quite ominous) to Jacob Riis (not a flattering portrait of him either).  But future president Roosevelt gets a glowing supporting role as New York’s police commissioner who directs Dr. Kreizler, Moore and Howard to investigate the murders using powers of psychological deduction.

In fact, the book is actually a flashback by our hero Moore, recalled when he visits the Oyster Bay funeral of his dear friend in 1919 (pictured below). (LOC)

True Crime
And there are a great many real-life figures from New York’s criminal underworld as well.  In fact, most of the lecherous and notorious figures depicted in the book are real folks, from early gangsters like Paul Kelly to brothel owners such as Biff Ellison.  Carr also finds a few disturbing mental cases to bring into the story, including the young killer Jesse Pomeroy (pictured below), considered one of the most brutal of murderers at a ripe age of 14.

Grand Central Depot
The characters do venture to places outside the city for further clues, but they always come through Grand Central Depot, the most hectic place in New York.  (Pennsylvania Station had not yet been built.)  Within a few years, this too would be ripped down and replaced with the present Grand Central Terminal. (LOC)

And finally, there are three central locations from the book that are still around today:

Dr. Laszlo’s residence at Stuyvesant Park. Actually the address in the book doesn’t really exist.  But based on a couple descriptions — and its proximity to St. George’s Church, which is mentioned as close by — this building at 237 East 17th Street may be what Carr had in mind:

Murder headquarters at 808 Broadway — This exceptionally handsome building was constructed by James Renwick, playing nicely off its neighbor Grace Church.  It’s actually called the Renwick!  The team was located on the sixth floor.  Today, on the first floor, is one of New York’s most popular costume shops.

John Schuyler Moore’s home at Washington Square Park North, facing the park:


(My thanks to Dixie Roberts for the story idea!)