Believe It Or Not This Was The Bronx In 1897 – Part 1

The Bronx In 1897 – A Borough of Beautiful Homes

Hampden Street in Fordham Heights Bronx, NY 1898

Hampden Street in Fordham Heights Bronx, NY in 1898. This view is looking east from Sedgwick Avenue towards Loring Place along West 183rd Street, (formerly Hampden Street). Every house in this photo is now gone, replaced by apartment buildings. The sole remaining structure is the stone wall on the right.

Same view of West 183rd Street (formerly Hampden Street) in 2011

Same view of West 183rd Street (formerly Hampden Street) in 2011

For almost anyone who grew up in the Bronx before World War II, they will recount happy memories of neighborhoods brimming with life and full of possibilities. But no one alive today remembers the Bronx when it was mostly undeveloped in the late 19th and early 20th century. Open land and spacious elegant houses dominated the landscape.

The Bronx was a conglomeration of about 50 villages, most of them rural in nature. In the grainy photographs you are about to see, many of the settings look like they could be in Ridgefield, CT or Smalltown, USA – but not the Bronx.

Now, with all the modern apartment buildings, public housing projects and ugly highways that have sprouted up in the last 60 years, these views of the Bronx will come as a surprise to many.

The book where these photographs originally appeared is The Great North Side or Borough of the Bronx by editors of The Bronx Board of Trade. After looking at these photographs, one thing is for sure: the Bronx will never again look as it did in 1897.

Stately homes in the Bronx 1897

Stately homes in the Bronx 1897

Accompanying the photographs, also taken from The Great North Side are the words of Egbert Viele (1825-1902), the famous engineer, surveyor and mapmaker. Viele’s genuine adulation for the The Bronx is readily apparent.

William Niles residence Bedford Park Bronx, NY 1897

William Niles residence Bedford Park Bronx, NY 1897

“The North Side of New York, i.e., the territory above the Harlem River, bears a similar relation to the city at large that the Great West does to the country — a land of great promise of infinite possibilities, and the seat of future empire.”

Ernest Hall residence Boston Avenue Bronx 1897

Ernest Hall residence Boston Avenue Bronx 1897

“No city in the world has such a wealth of public parks and pleasure grounds as lie within its area; no city in the world has such natural and economical advantages for commerce, or on so grand a scale.”

Louis Eickwort residence Anthony-Avenue Mt. Hope Bronx 1897

Louis Eickwort residence Anthony-Avenue Mt. Hope Bronx 1897

“None has a more salubrious climate, or such a variety of surface, nor has any other city such abundant facilities of passenger transit and land traffic.”

Continue reading

Share Button

The 40th Anniversary Of The Best Baseball Movie Ever Made

The Bad News Bears – The Best Baseball Movie Ever Made

bad-news-bears-1976-lobby-card-1The approaching end of the regular baseball season got me thinking, what is the best baseball movie ever made? The clear winner for me would be the The Bad News Bears, hands down.

Some might disagree and say Field of Dreams, The Natural, A League of Their Own or Pride of The Yankees are better films. While those are all excellent movies, the 1976 Bad News Bears has an honesty and appeal that has endured for over 40 years. It’s also not just about baseball, it is about real life and overcoming challenges and disappointments. By the way, you can forget the lame remake in 2006 that failed at every level.

Yes, it’s been 40 years since the release of The Bad News Bears. That just blows my mind. I was a kid in 1976 and could very strongly relate to the action on the screen with things happening in my little league and off the field experiences.

Viewing the film now, I believe this exact version, line for line and scene for scene, could not and would not be made today. The world has become too politically correct and “sensitive.” The kids use the “n” word liberally. Pre-teens drink alcohol. 12 kids ride with beer drinking Walter Matthau (while he’s behind the wheel) in an overloaded convertible, all of them not wearing seat belts. The fact that the film mirrored the way kids behaved and talked like in real life would probably upset too many people nowadays. Continue reading

Share Button

If You Were An Animal, Here’s A Contest You Wouldn’t Want To Win

Win This Contest…And You Die 

From Steer Of The Year To The Dinner Plate in Two Weeks

A Contest Where The Winning Bovine Gets A Trip To The Slaughterhouse

lucky-boy-1-copyright-life-magazine-jan-8-1940Reading old Life magazines, you can come across some unusual pictorials and stories. This  graphically illustrated story from 1940 could lead you to vegetarianism. Unlike dog and cat shows, livestock shows don’t necessarily have a happy ending for the winner.

The Life story concerns a steer (a castrated male bull) ironically named “Lucky Boy II.” Below is the brief text and photographs from the January 8, 1940 issue. Continue reading

Share Button

Roger Maris Hits His 59th Home Run September 20, 1961

55 Years Ago Today Roger Maris Hit His 59th Home Run Putting Him One Behind Babe Ruth

roger-maris-hits-home-run-number-59-september-20-1961In the pre-steroid era of baseball, Roger Maris had one magical season. Shown above, Maris connects for his 59th home run of the season on September 20, 1961.

Maris would hit 61 home runs during the 1961 season, breaking Babe Ruth’s record of 60.

Yet Maris’s accomplishment wasn’t considered an “official” record. That is because Ford Frick, the former sportswriter and then Commissioner of baseball, ruled that Maris had to beat Babe Ruth in the same number of games that the Babe was eligible to play in 1927, which was 154.

If Maris did not hit 60 by his 154th game the record would be denoted with an asterisk, indicating that Maris had more opportunities (163)  than Ruth did.

The news caption for this photo reads:

Baltimore, Sept 20 – Homer No. 59 For Maris – Roger Maris of the New York Yankees swings into the ball in the third inning tonight as he connects for his 59th home run of the season. The blow came against Baltimore Orioles pitcher Milt Pappas. If Maris can add one more during the game he will equal Babe Ruth’s  official 1927 record of 60 in 154 games. He has hit two homers in one game seven times this season. The ball is just a streak as it flies off the bat, right. (AP wirephoto)

It wasn’t until September 26 Continue reading

Share Button

Jerome Avenue, The Bronx In 1914 and Today

Jerome Avenue In 1914 and 102 Years Later

bronx-jerome-avenue-from-clarke-place-looking-north-march-1914It was reported that since 2010 the Bronx is the fastest growing county in New York State.

Believe it or not, this bucolic scene shown above, from March 1914, is in the Bronx at Jerome Avenue looking north from Clarke Place.

I have not been able to identify the lone building on the left.  Besides some telephone and telegraph wires, Belgian block paved streets and trolley tracks, modernity had not yet touched most of the Bronx. The population according to the 1915 police census was 649,726.

In 1914 the Bronx was prosperous and living there was considered to be a sign of upward mobility.

Fast forward 102 years later. Below is the same street from about the same spot.

bronx-jerome-avenue-from-clarke-place-looking-north-200-photo-google-mapsJerome Avenue was transformed by the construction of the El in 1917 and 1918, darkening the street, but fostering a building boom. Continue reading

Share Button

This Is The Best Rock ‘n’ Roll Cover Band I’ve Ever Seen

Gruhak? Yes Gruhak From Croatia. An Amazing Rock ‘n’ Roll Cover Band

gruhak-photo-via-dulist-hr

If Gruhak ever does a concert in the United States, I’m going to see it.

Since the 1970s I’ve seen over 300 concerts. Among them: AC/DC, Deep Purple, Paul McCartney, Motörhead, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, The Clash, Kiss, Iron Maiden, Rush and countless other classic bands.

Sometimes the shows have been great, other times it’s been a disappointment. Especially now because as the older the bands get, the harder it is for them to perform live. In the past 10 years I’ve mostly stopped going to shows rather than see my rock ‘n’ roll illusions shattered.

Enter the tribute or cover band, that in some cases can deliver a performance that sounds better than the band they are copying. Cover and tribute bands are a dime a dozen, many of them are not very good and they play the bar circuit. There are a handful of bands that can  make a full time living at it and have developed their own fan following.

It is rare that there is a band that can have the energy, the vibe and the talent to cover multiple groups and do it well.

That fits the description of Gruhak, a five piece band from Dubrovnik, Croatia.  The word “gruhak” means a loud and obtrusive person.

Rather than go on and on about their talent, have a look and a listen.

First up – The Who – We Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Now performing in a totally different style, Gruhak takes on The Doors with Love Me Two Times.

It’s not that Gruhak sound like The Doors. It’s not an imitation, but an interpretation and it’s a damned good one. Gruhak’s  singer Boris Kosovic has Jim Morrison’s intonations and the band sounds more like the Doors, than the band that Doors members Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger put together a dozen years ago with Ian Astbury, formerly of The Cult, on vocals.

As far as Gruhak’s version of We Won’t Get Fooled Again, it’s as if we’re hearing Roger Daltrey and company in their prime. The other musicians in Gruhak are equally accomplished. Continue reading

Share Button

Old New York In Photos #66 – Brooklyn Bridge & The Manhattan Skyline At Night 1928

Under The Brooklyn Bridge & The Classic Manhattan Skyline At Night -1928

brooklyn-bridge-manhattan-skyline-at-night-1928The Brooklyn Bridge frames this unique view of lower Manhattan at night in 1928. The Woolworth Building (partially seen behind the tower of the bridge) was still the tallest building in the world.

In the center of the photo is the third tallest building in the world, the Singer Building at Liberty Street and Broadway. The second tallest building at the time was the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building on 23rd Street and Madison Avenue.

The next skyscraper to the left of the Singer Building is the Equitable Building. Just south of the Equitable with the pyramid shaped roof is the Bankers Trust Building.

Over the next four years Continue reading

Share Button

Classic Hollywood #54 – Veronica Lake – 1940

The Beautiful Veronica Lake – The Smallest Waistline in Hollywood

Veronica Lake I Wanted Wings promotional photo 1940

Veronica Lake publicity photograph for “I Wanted Wings” November 1940

Veronica Lake was born Constance Ockelman on November 14, 1922 in Brooklyn, NY. After the death of her father in a ship accident, she adopted her stepfather’s last name of Keane in 1934. Because of her great beauty, after graduating high school, the family moved to Beverly Hills, California so Constance could take acting lessons.

After a series of bit roles in 1939 and 1940 Constance Keane had a meteoric rise to fame.

The publicity machine started to roll in 1940 when Constance was “discovered” by producer Arthur Hornblow Jr. She was cast in I Wanted Wings (1941) co-starring Ray Milland and William Holden. For the film, Constance was given a new name – Veronica Lake.

Syndicated gossip columnist Hedda Hopper wrote about Lake on August 24, 1940, “It’s her first part in pictures, though she’s had a couple of years of little theaters and after they saw her (screen) test, and said, ‘You’ve got the part,’ she turned pale, said, ‘Oh yes?’ Her knees started to cave in, she whispered, ‘Gee Whiz!’ and fled. If she’s as good as her test, the audience won’t be able to keep its mind on its work either.”

Veronica Lake I Wanted Wings promotional photo 1940 back copyHopper’s column is typical Hollywood ballyhoo of the period.  Short on facts and stretching the truth. So is the back caption of our studio publicity photo above, which has many inaccuracies, such as Lake’s birthday and birth name.

Lake was just under five feet tall and became known for her peekaboo hairstyle which covered one eye and waspish figure. At the start of her film career her measurements were reported as 34-18½-34. Continue reading

Share Button

Boston’s New Fenway Park Packs In 45,400 Fans -1934

How They Squeezed 45,400 Fans Into Boston’s Fenway Park

Fenway Park April 22 1934There’s only one way to get 45,000 people into Boston’s Fenway Park and that is to let the fans sit everywhere, including the outfield.

Yes that’s right, square on the field of play.

Boston’s owner Tom Yawkey never spared expenses when it came to his beloved Red Sox. After the 1933 season during the height of the Great Depression, Yawkey decided to update Fenway Park.

The biggest changes would be the new outfield stands in center and right field. And of course the new 37 foot tall left field wall which would eventually become known as the Green Monster.

During the renovation on January 5, 1934, a large fire destroyed the bleachers and the outfield walls which had wood, oil and debris stored under them.

After the clean-up,  work was quickly resumed and the new outfield stands were made fireproof, being encased in reinforced concrete. The new electronic scoreboard indicating balls, strikes and outs was an innovation. The feature known as Duffy’s Cliff, a hill in left field, was removed, leaving only a small incline.

Continue reading

Share Button

Alice Cooper Parties With Ethel Kennedy & Andy Williams

An Unlikely Trio – Alice Cooper, Ethel Kennedy and Andy Williams at The Rainbow Room – 1974

Alice Cooper Ethel Kennedy Andy Williams Rainbow Room Oct 16 1974 photo Tim BoxerAn odd assortment of celebrities gathered together at the Rainbow Room in New York on October 16 1974. Rocker Alice Cooper (r) sits with Ethel Kennedy widow of Robert Kennedy, as singer Andy Williams stands between them.

Andy Williams is smiling in spite of having been robbed the day before at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel. While Williams was showering, a maid let a woman into the room who claimed she was Williams’s wife. Among the items the woman stole were Williams’s checkbook, four tuxedos and two leather jackets. Continue reading

Share Button