Category Archives: History

Hiroshima And The New York Times – Let’s Rewrite History Two Subversive Words At A Time

On The 72nd Anniversary Of The Dropping Of The Atomic Bomb On Hiroshima – The New York Times Tries To Innocuously Rewrite History Two Subversive Words At A Time

Maybe you didn’t notice but It seems like every day The New York Times tries to pass off several pieces of propaganda as articles. There’s always something to infuriate any free thinking person.

Enola Gay Crew who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima Aug 6, 1945

If you read the Saturday, August 5 Op-ed pages of the New York Times you may have seen a contributed piece by Ariel Dorfman, author and emeritus professor of literature at Duke University. The op-ed was entitled The Whispering Leaves of the Hiroshima Ginkgo Trees. The inconsequential article is not what disturbed me. It was one line slipped in to make an almost subliminal  impression upon the reader. Referring to a Mr. Takahashi, a survivor of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Dorfman writes, “By then middle-aged, his body was a testament to that war crime and its aftermath.”

War crime? The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was a “war crime”?

In 2005 I attended an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The exhibit was commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Enola Gay mission in World War II.  There was a video presentation about the Enola Gay’s mission which included interviews with the crew before and after the mission including  pilot Col. Paul Tibbets. To say it was a powerful exhibit would be an understatement.

For those too young to remember or do not know their history, the Enola Gay was a B-29 bomber plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Three days later another B-29, Bockscar, dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Before deciding to use an atomic bomb the Allies insisted that Japan unconditionally surrender, as their defeat was inevitable. Japan refused.

Over 145,000 people died in the initial blasts. Thousands of Japanese civilians died of the injuries they sustained in the years that followed.

The end result of those bombings? Japan surrendered to the Allies the following week on August 15, 1945 and World War II was over.

There was a comment book at the end of the exhibit where visitors could record their name age, address and comment on what they had seen. Walking over to that book and thumbing through it I read to my surprise quite a few people had written essentially the same thing: the United States was wrong to drop the bombs. Others went so far to say that we never should have used the weapons and fought it out until the Japanese surrendered. The people who wrote these comments were all under the age of 40.

I wrote a short comment. I’ll say it again here for the edification of Mr. Dorfman, the editorial staff of the New York Times and any history revisionists.

Killing civilians in war is a byproduct of the wickedness of war. But it was a good thing the United States used those bombs. We didn’t start this war, but we ended it.

Let me correct Mr. Dorfman (born 1942) and the seriously uninformed, mostly those who were not alive during the conflict, the use of those bombs saved hundreds of thousands of lives and was not a “war crime.”

The Japanese unprovoked, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a war crime. The Japanese torturing of POW’s was a war crime. The Bataan Death March was a war crime. The Japanese sinking of hospital ships was a war crime. The conscription and rape of over 200,000 civilian women for Japanese army brothels was a war crime. Continue reading

New York City Apartment Building Names In 1904

A Good Name Is Hard To Find – New York City Apartment House Names In 1904 (A-F)

Demolition and new construction: the old landmarks vanish, new ones takes their place. It’s a practice that has been celebrated and lamented in New York City for more than 200 years..

As New York City accelerates its destruction of past places, it is important to note what was previously there.

The naming of apartment buildings in New York City goes as far back as 1870 when the Stuyvesant Flats, the first modern apartment building in the city was constructed.

Of course many people are familiar with The Dakota, The Beresford and The Osborne: grand apartment buildings with high prices and famous residents.

But in the 19th century, hundreds of relatively nondescript apartment buildings were given names too.

Real estate developers generally did not trademark the names they gave to their building. Therefore you will find multiple Augusta’s, Berkshire’s and Cambridge’s and other not so unique building names.

So why compile this list? If you are reading an old news story, doing genealogical research or are just curious for the exact address of a named apartment building from turn-of the-century New York City here it is. We thought this list would be helpful.

On the handful of addresses I checked on, the building was gone or the name had been removed from the facade. I would estimate fewer than half of these apartment buildings remain standing today and of those that do remain, less than one in ten retain their original name.

Because of the number of buildings involved in this list we will be breaking this up into three separate stories.

This list is only comprised of apartment buildings in Manhattan and the Bronx. It is also almost certainly not a complete inventory, because there were many tenement buildings on the Lower East Side and elsewhere that were given names, but do not show up on these lists.

Apartment – Hotels are denoted by an asterisk.

Below is A – F

Abelard 1887 Seventh ave

Aberdeen 249 W 107th st

Abington 44 E 79th st

Acacia 142 W 103d st

Acadia 1889 Seventh ave

Ackerly 241 W 101st St

Acropolis 519 W 123d st

Adela 228 W 25th st Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #78 – Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street 1903

Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street c. 1903 – Crowded Street On A Cold Sunny Day

This bustling scene was captured by a Detroit Publishing Company photographer around 1903. The view is from the southeast corner of 42nd Street looking north up Fifth Avenue.

It is obviously a cold and sunny day with most people wearing warm coats. Enlarging our photograph the first thing you may notice is that everyone is uniformly dressed. All the women have the same dress length, just past the ankle. Every man wears a suit or overcoat.  Take a look around. There is not a single person hatless.

Let’s zoom in on some of the details.

On the northeast corner of 42nd Street an elderly man stops to take a look at the work going on inside an open manhole.

As usual, at all very busy intersections, a policeman is on duty to help direct the flow of traffic both vehicular and pedestrian.

This gentleman on the left with the gold watch fob and chain looks to be a prosperous fellow, possibly on his way back to his office after lunch.

Of course other people look spiffy without being wealthy. This sharp looking mustachioed hansom cab driver holding a whip is dressed immaculately. Continue reading

Babe Ruth Buys Back His 700th Home Run Baseball

Babe Ruth Wanted His 700th Home Run Baseball Returned To Him, So He Bought It

What He Paid Might Surprise You

73 years ago on July 13, 1934, Babe Ruth walloped his 700th career home run.

The caption reads:

Babe Ruth Hits 700th Home Run

Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run of his Major League career on July 13 clouting one of Tommy Bridges offerings out of Navin Field, Detroit. The mighty Bambino is shown above with Leonard Beals, who received $20 from the Babe for retrieving the ball.  7-14-34 credit: Acme Photo

The ball went over the right field bleachers and out of the ballpark, landing on Plum Street among some automobiles parked across the street. It was estimated the ball traveled 500 feet,

When he connected, in the third inning, Babe immediately screamed out loud to Yankee third base coach Art Fletcher, “I want that ball! I want that ball! Bring whoever caught it around to the clubhouse and I’ll give him twenty dollars.”  The Yankees went on to win the game 4-2.

The Yankees sent out word to find the person who had retrieved the baseball. That turned out to be 17-year-old Lenny Beals (whose real name was Bielski). Bielski was taken into the ballpark to watch the rest of the game.

Interviewed in 1973 by the Detroit Free Press, Bielski told his version of that memorable day: Continue reading

The New York Housewife Who Was Too Pretty To Walk In The Streets In 1902 – She Had To Use A Gun and A Knife To Protect Herself

Ellen Emerson, So Beautiful, Lecherous Men Kept Accosting Her On The Streets Of New York In 1902

To Fight Them Off She Once Used A Gun, Another Time A Knife

But There’s A Twist At The End Of The Story

She could stop traffic, that is all male pedestrian traffic. Imagine being so attractive that every time you left your home you were the recipient of unwanted stares, comments and in the  worst case, groping.

In 1902 at 60 West 98th Street lived Ellen Emerson, who when she went out in public, men would constantly ogle her.

The undesired attention from men was so bad that she brandished a gun at one of her pursuers and a knife another time to protect herself from being accosted.

Within a space of four weeks Joseph Pulitzer’s Evening World did two stories about Mrs. Ellen Emerson. The first story which ran on November 8, 1902 told about Mrs. Emerson’s dilemma; “attractive and blonde and long the victim of ‘mashers.'”

Ellen told an unnamed reporter, “My life has been made a perfect burden for me  by these obnoxious men. I don’t know what there is about me. I am not a loud dresser, but I scarcely ever go on the street without being pursued.” Continue reading

1910 – Long Distance Telephone Rates From New York

In 1910 A Long Distance Call From New York City to Detroit, MI Was A Pricey $4.00 for the First 3 Minutes

Today phone calls are relatively inexpensive, but in 1910 making a 6 minute long distance call within the United States could cost you a week’s salary.

Reproduced above from the New York Telephone Directory of 1910 are the long distance rates from New York City to other cities.

In 1910 there were 7,084,000 telephones in the United States.

Long distance service was limited as you can see. There were few cities west of the Mississippi that you could call from New York. You want to call Houston, Denver, Salt Lake City, Seattle or Los Angeles? You’re out of luck.

The only way to communicate with many places would be to send a telegram.

Telegram rates varied by distance sent and had day and night rates. For a typical telegram you paid a flat rate for the first ten words and were charged a per word rate for each additional word. Address and signature were free. For example to send a telegram from New York to anywhere in Georgia was sixty cents for the first ten words and each additional word was four cents.

With telephone long distance prices being so expensive, you can see why people sent telegrams to communicate something urgent when the recipient was far away.

Expensive is a relative term but let’s take into account that the average weekly salary in 1910 was anywhere from about $10 for an average worker to $50 for a university professor. Continue reading

New York City By Day… & Night – 1904

Four New York Locations Photographed At Night – 1904

You’ve probably noticed that most of the old photographs of turn-of-the-century New York City were taken during daylight hours.

At the time the difficulty with night photography was the long exposure times necessary for a camera to effectively capture an image.

There is an extremely rare book I own called The Lighting of New York City put out by General Electric in 1904. The purpose of this publication was to extol the virtues of General Electric lighting apparatus and to encourage homes and businesses in New York and elsewhere to use electric light.

Electric lighting had been around for a little over 20 years, but the book mentions a startling fact: “It is estimated that more than 35,000 arc lamps are in use on Manhattan Island.”

35,000, that’s means outdoors and indoors.

Gaslight was still the predominant means of lighting streets, factories, stores, homes and the waterfront.

The 74 page book contains a photograph on every page accompanied by a short description on the opposite page. Eight of the photographs are day and night views of the exact same location.

Words in Italics are from the book:

At the 59th Street entrance to Central Park, in what is known as Park Plaza, the Sherman Statue was recently unveiled. It is illuminated at night by eight low energy General Electric arc lamps installed on ornamental poles in such a manner that only the pear-shaped outer globe is visible. The installation has received very favorable comment.

Behind the statue on the right is Park and Tilford, grocers to New York’s smart set. To the left on the corner of 60th Street is the Metropolitan Club.

Night illumination of the Sherman Statue by eight three-ampere low energy General Electric lamps. The white building directly in the rear is the home of the Metropolitan Club, so well known to many New Yorkers as the “Millionaires'” Club. Continue reading

Coney Island Celebrates The Anniversary Of The Hot Dog

Celebrating The Hot Dog, 1967 Style

It’s another anniversary for the hot dog.

But there probably won’t be a celebration like the one shown here from 1967.

Here is the original caption from the press photo:

Hot Dog!!!

New York: With a ferris wheel as a backdrop lovely Arlene Shaw, the 1967 National Hot Dog Queen holds a sign proclaiming the 100th anniversary of the fabled “frank.” Arlene will reign over a champagne “hot dog” party to be held on the boardwalk at Nathan’s in Coney Island June 30th celebrating the centennial of that extraordinary edible known as “Coney Island Red Hots.” credit: UPI 6/3/1967

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New York’s Problems And Why It Forced One Editor To Leave

What’s Wrong With New York City

This Essay By Stanley Walker, One Of The Finest Newspaper Editors In History, Will Strike Home For Anyone Who Has Ever Lived In New York

At the end of Walker’s essay we’ll reveal something remarkable about this story.

“I like to visit New York, but I wouldn’t live there if you gave it to me.” -OLD AMERICAN SAYING. Continue reading

What The Dickens! 7 Popular Sayings & How They Originated

You May Think The Saying “What The Dickens” Is Related To Novelist Charles Dickens (It’s Not.)

7 Famous Phrases And How They Came About.

Charles (Not “what the”) Dickens

Almost everyone uses slang or colloquial speech without ever thinking how did the words in the phrase come together?

Monumental arguments have ensued over simple sayings and many times there is no correct answer, merely an educated supposition.

The Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins Volume II by William and Mary Morris (1967) Harper & Row, contains what the authors believe to be the origins of hundreds of sayings. Here are seven of them. The words in italics are from the Morris’s book.

the real McCoy

The real McCoy” is heard a lot in those gangster films of the 30s and 40s. A saying that is still used today, the real McCoy has controversial origins.

The Real McCoy? Charles “Kid” McCoy

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