Author Archives: B.P.

New York Holds A Party For George Washington In 1889

 New York Celebrates The Washington Centennial 1889

Washington Centennial 1889 Union Square

Horse drawn floats make their way through Union Square celebrating the Washington Centennial in New York City May 1, 1889 – illustration Harper’s Weekly May 11, 1889

For the first year and a half while President, George  Washington was a New Yorker. Washington took the oath of office in New York City in 1789 and lived at 3 Cherry Street during his Presidency until 1790 when he moved to Philadelphia. Vice -President John Adams lived at 133 Broadway. Congress met in New York and the city was the center of the Federal government. Continue reading

New York’s Pedestrian Danger In 1890

Before Automobiles, Runaway Horses Caused New York’s Traffic Accidents

Runaway horse Brooklyn side of bridge Harper's Weekly March 15 1890 illustration John Durkin

Runaway on the Brooklyn side of the East River Bridge – drawn by John Durkin (Harper’s Weekly March 15, 1890)

Horses are a rarity on New York Streets. In 1890 there were tens of thousands of horses supplying transportation to the city.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is not a fan of horse drawn vehicles. Since his election in 2014 de Blasio has been inundated by animal activists to ban Central Park’s carriage horses. His efforts to do so have only removed the horses from waiting for customers outside the park. Continue reading

Rush Drummer Neil Peart Dies At 67 – Brain Tumor Diagnosis Kept Secret

Neil Peart Had Brain Cancer For Over Three Years…And Told Almost No One

Neil Peart Rush drummer 1978

Neil Peart of Rush – A Farewell To Kings tour book 1978

The surprising news that Rush’s extraordinary drummer and lyricist Neil Peart has died at age 67, comes as a shock to the world. While music lovers will try to absorb the stunning news, only Peart’s family, band mates and a few close friends knew this day was imminently closer than anyone realized.

Peart passed away quietly in Santa Monica, CA on Tuesday, January 7 of brain cancer. For over three years Peart was fighting the disease. His close circle of friends knew his predicament. Everyone else had no idea.

Peart’s survivors include his wife Carrie and daughter Olivia. Peart escaped a media frenzy of reporting on his illness, as doubtless there would be, had anyone known about his cancer. That’s the kind of man Neil Peart was. Ferocious on drums. Private, quiet and introspective in life. Peart did not want consolation from the world by sharing that he was ill. His reticence to speak publicly, well established.

Rush in limo 1978 Peart Lifeson Lee

Rush 1978 (l-r) Neil Peart Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson

On tour in the early 1990s I met both Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee backstage shortly after a show at Madison Square Garden. We talked for a minute. Continue reading

“On The Town” Filming On Location In New York -1948

A 1940s Movie Rarity – Hollywood Comes To New York To Film “On The Town”

Kelly Munchin Sinatra central Park bicycle riding

Cars in Central Park! Frank Sinatra Jules Munchin and Gene Kelly risk riding bicycles in Central Park in the 1949 movie On The Town

It was the early 1920s and in his autobiography director King Vidor recalls describing his next film to his boss. Vidor proposes shooting the film on location for authenticity. His fiscally minded producer Abe Stern tells him, ” A rock is a rock, and a tree is a tree. Go shoot it in Griffith Park!” Vidor whimsically titled his 1953 book A Tree is A Tree. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #90 – Errol Flynn & Mrs. Roosevelt

Errol Flynn Receives A Trophy From Eleanor Roosevelt – 1939

1939 Errol Flynn Eleanor Roosevelt

The event held on  January 25, 1939 in Fort Myer, VA was a benefit fighting infantile paralysis. Errol Flynn (above) rides Badger, a horse belonging to John Roosevelt, son of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

So what did Flynn do to earn the trophy? Being a movie star entitles one to receive accolades and awards even if they’re meaningless. Mrs. Roosevelt presents Flynn a silver cup for participating in the event.

As part a two day show, for the President’s birthday program, monies went to the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis. The previous year, comedian Eddie Cantor incorporated the name this organization is commonly known as today – The March of Dimes. Continue reading

Why Def Leppard Doesn’t Want The Public To See This Video

The Original Def Leppard, LIVE In 1980 Perform Almost The Entire On Through The Night LP

Def Leppard Was Once A Heavy Metal Band: Then They Started Writing Pop

What Happened?

Their Main Hard Rock Songwriter & Guitarist Was Fired

Can We Forget About The Past?

Here is Pete Willis and the original Def Leppard performing almost in its entirety, one of the ten greatest debut rock albums of all-time.

When Def Leppard recorded their first major label album, they were a heavy metal band though they never called themselves that.

l-r Steve Clark, Joe Elliott, Pete Willis, Rick Allen & Steve Clark c 1980

It was 1980 and Def Leppard had just been signed to a deal with Mercury Records. They were signed on the basis of what three years of honing and craft perfection had wrought – On Through The Night. Previously in 1979, the band printed its own EP and sold an astounding 18,000 copies.

Within the music industry, in order for any band to get a record deal, the band must put forth only their best material. And that is what On Through The Night is. Eleven mostly blistering songs played at a frantic pace with songwriting that displays an ear for catchy and memorable songs.

Here’s the most incredible thing about this video performance of that first album — singer Joe Elliott is 21, guitarists Steve Clark & Pete Willis are 20, bass player Rick Savage is 19 and drummer Rick Allen is – are you kidding me? — 16!!!!

Continue reading

Early Rare Audio Recordings – Alexander Graham Bell In 1885

Our Audio Time Machine:

Listen To Alexander Graham Bell Demonstrate Early Recording Technology In 1885 & The Only Known Recording Of Someone Born In The 18th Century

You almost certainly have never heard the voice of somebody who lived in the 18th century, That means someone born between 1701- 1800. Well later in this story you will hear the only known recording of someone who was alive in that period. We’ll get to that later.

Why do you have to get a new iPhone or laptop every couple of years? Modern technology has been accelerating at an astonishing pace. Every few years computing power has been improving exponentially.

What was breakthrough technology like 135 years ago? Let’s return to the dawn of audio recording. Here is the voice of Alexander Graham Bell – yes, the man associated with the invention of the telephone, speaking on a recording cylinder.

What we just presented is the concluding part of a four minute recording made on April 15, 1885. In the recording Bell recites a not very exciting litany of numbers. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #109 – Old Subway Signs, Helpful or Confusing?

A Times Square Subway Entrance Sign – 1955

Times Square subway entrance 1955If you say the single digits four, five and six along with the letters N, R, Q and W to a first time visitor to New York City they probably won’t be able to decode the meaning.  But a New Yorker hearing that same combination would instantly recognize you are talking about the subway. Continue reading

The 19th Century’s J.K. Rowling – The Obscure William T. Adams

Hugely Popular Author William T. Adam’s Wrote Over 100 Children’s Books All Under Pseudonyms

william t adams portraitWhen William T. Adams of Dorchester, MA died on March 27, 1897, obituaries pointed out, “as Oliver Optic, he was known to every child in this country that reads story books.” The Kansas City Star said, “no public library is thought complete by younger readers unless it has a large number of duplicates of all his works.”

William Taylor Adams (1822-1897) was the pioneer in juvenile fiction. Unlike our modern “look at me” society, he was apparently not interested in fame, at least as William T. Adams. He wrote 126 books and over 1,000 articles and never signed his name to any of them. Continue reading