Author Archives: B.P.

Old New York In Photos #94 – The Williamsburg Bridge Under Construction

Williamsburg Bridge Under Construction As Viewed From The East River 1901

From a personal photo album comes this previously unpublished 1901 view looking north from the East River.

Besides all the vessels navigating the heavily trafficked waterway, we can see the completed towers of the Williamsburg Bridge. The cables of the bridge have been completed but the roadway beneath the span is absent.

The first bridge crossing Kings County to Manhattan was the Brooklyn Bridge, opening in 1883. It would take another 20 years before the next great span, the Williamsburg Bridge was completed. Continue reading

What Were The Best New York City Restaurants In 1929?

Brooklyn Daily Eagle Columnist Rian James Shares His Picks For The Best Restaurants in New York City in 1929

Rian James (1899-1953) may not be a well known name today, but back in the 1920s and 30s, he was a widely read journalist and  “man about town.”

In 1933 James took a stab at writing for the movies. He wrote the screenplay for 42nd Street, one of the most successful and popular films of the 1930s. James would go on to write over three dozen screenplays.

As a columnist for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1928-1935, James rambled all around New York City. Along the way James hobnobbed with everyone: the well-to-do, the hoi-polloi, actors,  and bohemians, in the process, hitting all the night spots. The stories James gathered made for a widely read column about the city he loved.

Four times a year the Eagle published a small guide Going Places With Rian James casting his top picks in New York City food and entertainment.

For the Summer 1929 Going Places, a good portion of  James’ 32 page booklet is devoted to dining. Unlike the modern Zagat restaurant guides or Yelp, consensus was not considered. The only thing that mattered was James’ opinion. James knew all the “in” places, the haunts of celebs, the exclusive, the ribald and the popular.

Proving he’s no snob, the best New York restaurant according to James is not at a high class hotel or Madison Avenue establishment. It’s Feltman’s, originator of the hotdog, in Coney Island that wins the prize.  James writes, “The best all-round food in all New York, excluding no place.”

This is a New York booklet written for New Yorkers.

James offers a unique slice of the New York dining scene just prior to the October 1929 stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression. The good times were to end soon after.

While there were a ton of contemporary guidebooks published about New York City, very few delved into the restaurant scene. James’ punchy one line descriptions tell you a lot more than many a detailed review.

The writing has some jazz age jargon such as “Beeway” for Broadway and “black and tan” for an establishment that has race mingling between Blacks and Caucasians. Sometimes there’s an “inside”, long forgotten, or even a risque reference such as this one:

BARNEY’S – 85 W. 3rd St.
The best bet for whoopee in the Village.

In other words, where you have the best chance of hooking up.

James later wrote several full length books about New York City: a full guidebook All About New York An Intimate Guide; John Day (1931) and another not surprisingly titled, Dining in New York; John Day (1934).

While you peruse this list, you may recognize some names long gone from New York’s glorious culinary past. Other eateries you never heard of just sound like they would have been a blast to visit.

What is stunning in the transient world of dining, is that there are a small number of restaurants that are still in business nearly 90 years later.

We have left Rian James’ spelling, grammar and punctuation as it is written in the booklet.

So with that, here is Rian James’ New York City’s restaurant recommendations for the summer of 1929, divided into his appropriate section headings in bold.

Restaurants of All Nations

Name      Address       Nation

L’AIGLON – 55th, E. of Fifth Ave. French
Complete French Cuisine.LUCHOWS – 110 E. 14th St. German
Complete German Cuisine. Try the German Rye Bread. Continue reading

George Steinbrenner May Be Dead, But His Yankee “Hair Policy” Remains In Effect

George Steinbrenner’s “No Long Hair Or Beard Rule” Is Still Followed

Thurman Munson’s 1976 Topps baseball card shows something you won’t see on any Yankee today, a defiant beard.

At Yankee Stadium’s home opening game on April 11, 1973, the new owner and managing general partner, George M. Steinbrenner III was on hand to see his team. As he watched his players line up along the foul lines and remove their caps for the national anthem,  Steinbrenner pulled out an envelope from his suit pocket. He began writing down a series of numbers on the back of the envelope.

After the game the envelope was given to manager Ralph Houk.

“What is this?” Houk wanted to know.

Sparky Lyle 1974 Topps Baseball card showing his “long” hair

Players who need a haircut was the reply.

Still not knowing any of his players names, Steinbrenner had listed the players numbers who had hair that was not to his liking.

Among the stars on the list were Bobby Murcer,  Fritz Peterson, Thurman Munson, Sparky Lyle and Roy White.

Houk posted the list in the locker room and reluctantly informed his hippie players to go to a barber.

Steinbrenner had been perturbed about the long hair since first seeing the Yankees in spring training. Now it was time to do something about it.

This incident marked the beginning of George Steinbrenner’s 37 year odyssey of interference and unpredictability as owner of the Yankees.

To Steinbrenner, short hair and being clean shaven represented order and discipline. No one mentioned to Steinbrenner that baseball was not the military.

Mike Burke, part owner and president of the Yankees, had very long hair himself. Burke was not very concerned about Steinbrenner’s meddling and downplayed the hair cutting incident.

NEW YORK – JANUARY 3, 1973 Yankees President Michael Burke & George Steinbrenner at press conference at Yankee Stadium where the announcement is made that an ownership group led by Steinbrenner are the new owners of the Yankees. (Photo by: Olen Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

Burke, who had been Yankee president since 1966, was instrumental in putting the deal together for Steinbrener and his 13 limited partners, to buy the Yankees from CBS. Burke was led to believe he would be considered a co-partner on an equal level with Steinbrenner.

When Steinbrenner spoke to the press on January 3, 1973 , he said he would be an absentee owner and Burke would run the team. “We’re not going to pretend we’re something we aren’t. I’ll stick to building ships.”

Burke should have more concerned about Steinbrenner’s controlling behavior and desire to be solely in charge.  Soon after the haircut incident, Steinbrenner started firing off memos left and right asserting his control of the team. Less than 3 weeks after opening day, Burke resigned. The truth was Burke had been forced out as president of the Yankees and later gave up his ownership stake.

Yankee Third baseman Graig Nettles asked with a straight face, “Was his hair too long?” Continue reading

Boris Kosović, Lead Singer and Guitarist Of Gruhak Is Dead at 40

Boris Kosović, Multi-Talented Rocker In A Band That Shunned The Spotlight, Dies

Boris Kosović founder, lead singer and guitarist of Gruhak, in an undated photo

(We wrote a story about the amazing Croatian band Gruhak, in 2016 that can be read here.)

Boris Kosović the energetic vocalist-guitarist and sole remaining original member of the band Gruhak died on Thursday, September 20 in Dubrovnik, Croatia. He had been battling cancer for a year and a half. Kosović was 40-years-old.

The following was sent to us exclusively from Luka Krmić in Dubrovnik: Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #73 – Mystery Celebrity

Va-Va-Voom. Can You Guess Who This Is?

I did not recognize this well known celebrity when I first saw this photograph.

Do you know who it is?

Here are some clues to who our mystery celebrity is:

  1. She appeared regularly on a television show which had a long run in the 1950s.
  2. Two of her co-stars on the show were Jack Larson and John Hamilton.
  3. She was never attired like this on the show, but wore a pillbox hat and business suit?
  4. She was born in 1920 in Minnesota and died in 2016 in Arizona at the age of 95.
  5. She began making films in 1940 and had a contract with Paramount Pictures.
  6. Her final film was in 2016 Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel.

Do you give up?

Or is this someone you’ll have to look up?

In the sky. Not in the cloud.

Okay, that was a terrible pun of a clue.

The answer is:

Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #72 – Outtake Photo Of The Legends Of Comedy

Outtake Photo of  The Legends of Comedy

Just before posing for a formal photograph, an unnamed Globe photographer captured this informal moment. This photograph was unpublished until now. Flanking the seated Lucille Ball are (l-r) Milton Berle, George Burns, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx and longtime Lucy co-star Gale Gordon.

The only one who seems ready for this photo is Lucy. Everyone else is completely distracted.

The photo below Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #93 – Police Parade With The Old “Broadway Squad” 1930

New York City’s Finest On Parade With The Broadway Squad Of The Police Department Dressed In Their Old Uniforms

Though these officers bear a resemblance to Mack Sennett’s Keystone Cops, they are actually old-timers of the New York City Police Department’s Broadway Squad dressed in their uniforms of days past.

The slug for this photograph reads:

Little Bit of Old New York

New York City – One of the features of the annual New York Police Department Parade, which was held in New York today, was the appearance in the ranks of the surviving members of the old Broadway Squad, who twenty years or more ago, directed the traffic and the peace of New York’s “Great White Way.” –  4/26/1930 credit: Wide World Photos

Stationed all along Broadway from the Battery to 42nd Street were the Broadway Squad. They were specially selected officers who were all over six feet tall. While that might seem like nothing special, at the turn-of-the-century anyone over six feet in height was considered quite large.

In 1898 the Broadway Squad was described as “ninety of the tallest, best proportioned and finest looking men on the police force.” Continue reading

Rock Your Baby To Sleep – Literally! Iron Maiden Songs Done As Lullabies

Iron Maiden Songs Performed As Lullabies

How do you take heavy metal music and turn them into lullabies?

Until the other day I wouldn’t have known.

Still, I’m quite aware, popular music can be given any type of rendition.

Once about 20 years ago at the venerable Strand bookstore, I heard classical music being played over their sound system. I wasn’t paying close attention to the song. But I started listening closer. It sounded familiar, yet I couldn’t distinguish exactly what was being played. After about two minutes it hit me – it was Metallica and the song Harvester of Sorrow! That was the first time I heard Apocalyptica, a classical group comprised of cellists and they had recorded entire albums covering Metallica.

So it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the bright idea of making lullabies out of heavy metal songs. Hence, I recently discovered Iron Maiden tunes done as lullabies. The question you might ask is, why?

Does it matter?

If you like Iron Maiden, this should put a smile on your face, The first song I heard was The Trooper.

I couldn’t help clicking the youtube links Continue reading

A Misunderstanding In The Record Store

Never Send Mom To The Record Store To Buy A Record – A True Story

There was a time when the only way to buy music was to purchase it on tape or vinyl, usually at a record or department store. The year was 1983 and a friend of mine, Kyle worked in the local record store.

His knowledge and love of rock n’ roll led him to pursue this part-time minimum wage position to help support his college tuition.

Kyle’s job was to stock the store with new product as it came in and help customers with any needs.

So one day as Kyle is sorting vinyl he notices a middle-aged woman looking at the bins that hold the records. She was obviously not finding whatever it was she was searching for in the “R” section.

Kyle approached the woman, smiled and said. “Can I help you find something?”

“Oh, yes,” the woman replied, “my son sent me to buy the new rubber plant record, but I can’t seem to find it.”

Kyle’s eyebrows went up and he repeated the name to her, “rubber plant?”

“Yes, rubber plant,” the woman confirmed distinctly emphasizing-the last r in rubber. Continue reading

The Startling Changes in New York From 1873 – 1923

Robert Underwood Johnson Tells Of New York In 1873 and How It Changed Over 50 Years

Everything today seems to be moving at the speed of light. Changes of all sorts have greatly altered our everyday living in ways that might have been unimaginable 20 or even 10 years ago.

Some might argue there was more change at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century than there is today. All the people who lived through and witnessed that change are long dead. Maybe if you heard it from someone first hand, it might make a greater impression upon you.

Fortunately we have people like Robert Underwood Johnson (1853-1937) who put down his memories in his book, Remembered Yesterdays (Little, Brown & Co., 1923) which serves as a living time capsule of that period.

Johnson was a long time editor at The Century Magazine, a leading monthly periodical which covered news art and literature. Johnson also wrote regularly for Scribner’s Magazine.  Along with John Muir, Johnson was one of the main forces behind the creation of Yosemite National Park.  Johnson personally knew every major personage imaginable during his lifetime and his memoir reflects that.

What I found particularly interesting was a brief chapter entitled “New York in the 70’s” (meaning the 1870s). In that chapter, Johnson compares the New York City he arrived in, in 1873 with the present (1923).

This is what had occurred over 50 years. Below is an excerpt from the book:

A STUDY IN CONTRASTS

LOOKING back it is difficult to identify the New York of that time, just beginning to feel its strength, with the brilliant metropolis of to-day. Think of the points of contrast! In 1873 there were no electric lights, no skyscrapers, no trolleys, no blazing, twirling or winking signs and thus, of course, no Great White Way, Broadway being preéminently the street of business and there being little or no shopping on the cross streets above Fourteenth. Continue reading