The 1904 General Slocum Disaster Had Survivors That Lived Into The 21st Century

Catherine Connelly & Adella Wotherspoon, General Slocum Survivors, Lived To Ages 109 & 100

The Story of The General Slocum Steamship Disaster

General Slocum Disaster

June 15, 2014 marks the 110th anniversary of what had been New York’s biggest disaster and loss of life until the September 11 attacks occurred. We think it is worth remembering the ill-fated General Slocum steamship fire. Here is the story of the General Slocum and  a brief summary of the lives of the last two survivors of the disaster who amazingly lived into the 21st century.

A Beautiful Day For A Picnic

“Kleindeutchland,” as the area of Little Germany was called on the lower east side, was bounded approximately by the East River and Third Avenue and stretched from Houston Street to about 23rd Street. It was a working class, close-knit community of laborers and business owners. The German families that lived in this neighborhood made Tompkins Square Park their center for congregating and relaxation. But for special occasions they would embark on a trip to get out of the city.

Wednesday, June 15, 1904 was a sunny day and the members of the Sunday School of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at 323 E. 6th Street were looking forward to a day filled with games, music and a large picnic for their 17th annual excursion to bucolic Locust Grove, Long Island.

To get there, the church had chartered a steamship built in 1891, the three decked white paddle-wheeler, General Slocum.

Sudden Disaster

New York Tribune  June 16, 1904 (click to enlarge)

New York Tribune June 16, 1904 (click to enlarge)

The General Slocum was filled with around 1,400 passengers, mostly women and children as the men generally had to work on a weekday. The Slocum headed out from its berth at 3rd Street on the East River at about 9:30 am with a band playing and the passengers joyously celebrating the smooth ride and beautiful weather.

Thirty minutes after setting out, the ship caught fire Continue reading

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Did Two Sections In A Book Store Ever Go Along Better?

As Seen In Housing Works Bookstore Cafe on Crosby Street

Housing Works book cafe politics section

Whoever sets up the sections at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe on Crosby Street deserves a pat on the back for coming up with the shelving combination of Politics with True Crime.

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The Top 10 Rude & Annoying Things People Do In New York City

Distracting Devices, Double Parked Trucks And Too Much Perfume

There are hundreds of things that are daily annoyances in New York. But to live in New York you have to be impervious to many of them. Bad behavior is avoidable, but many New Yorker’s think they are above everyone else and the rules of civility or the law do not apply to them.

Obviously the sort of behaviors described below are not confined to New York City, but seem to flourish here. Here are my top 10 stupid/rude/self-centered actions that get my blood pressure rising.

Tell me you haven't seen this on the streets of New York?

Tell me you haven’t seen this on the streets of New York?

1 – People Who Walk Around With Those Giant Golf Umbrellas (a.k.a the inconsiderate bastard umbrella)

Okay its raining, you don’t have to cover an area the size of Missouri with your ginormous umbrella which is more appropriate for the beach rather than city streets.

They are called golf umbrellas and unless you are playing a round at Augusta, they are too big for the city. EVERY time you pass a person with one of these monstrosities they always  bump into your umbrella or nearly take out an eye. The people carrying them are unapologetic dunderheads.

2 – Women Who Douse Themselves In Perfume

Your perfume is worse than a fart

Perfume is worse than farting

Let’s get one thing straight: 99 out of 100 people do not need perfume.

This is not 1789 Louis XVI France where people never bathe or modern France where they bathe twice per year.

Of course some women aspire to smell like strippers, but unless you are going for the pole-dancer scent you don’t need perfume or cologne to make you smell decent. Regular showering and soap use is quite enough.

If you are putting on more than the tiniest amount of perfume we can smell you and let me tell you – you STINK! No one else is going to tell you, so I will. You could kill an army with the amount of perfume you’re wearing and you don’t even realize it.

In a subway, bus, elevator, restaurant or other enclosed place you, Ms. Valentine Valentina Assoluto wearer, are more offensive than the stinkiest gas emission from your arse.

So let me reiterate- perfume is not sexy and no one likes your god-awful perfume except you. So stop wearing so much of it. By the way, this goes for men too.

3 – Those Who Text While Crossing the Street

texting while crossing streetNew York City recently started a campaign where they have painted the word “L O O K” in big bold white letters on the ground at major intersections. Continue reading

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Old New York In Photos #38

Fifth Avenue Looking North From 44th Street 1923

Fifth Ave north from 44th st 1923

There is a lot of activity in this photograph taken in 1923 showing Fifth Avenue looking north from 44th Street.

No traffic signals impede the two way traffic which runs on the avenue. A Fifth Avenue double-deck bus is heading northbound packed with passengers. Pedestrians walk along on the avenue while deliveries are being made from trucks, like the one in the lower center of the photograph.

Among the buildings seen are H. Jaeckel and Sons Furriers which occupied the west side corner of Fifth Avenue at 45th street and further in the distance at 48th street is the spire of the Collegiate Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Saint Nicholas. The church was designed by architect Wheeler Smith and was built from 1869-1872. Theodore Roosevelt and his family occupied pew number number 39. The church was demolished in 1949 and the land was leased to Rockefeller Center.

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Marilyn Monroe’s 88th Birthday

June 1 Would Have Been Marilyn Monroe’s 88th Birthday

I can’t imagine Marilyn Monroe at 88, can you? Would she be like Doris Day who stays close to her home and discourages having any photos taken of her? Or would she still be active and in the public eye? We’ll never know. Marilyn died at the age of 36 under mysterious circumstances the evening of August 4, 1962, or for those who buy into the “official suicide story,” in the early morning hours of August 5.

Photographer Milton Greene, Marilyn’s one time business partner, took these photos of Marilyn in the early to mid-fifties. Here is the always young and beautiful Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe signing autographs for fans 1953 photo © Milton Greene

Marilyn Monroe signing autographs for fans 1953 photo © Milton Greene

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Outtake Photos Of The Doors 1967 Debut Album Cover

What The First Doors Album Cover Could Have Looked Like

Doors debut album photo session © Joel Brodsky

Doors debut album photo session © Joel Brodsky

Almost every rock fan is familiar with The Doors 1967 eponymous debut album containing the hit songs Light My Fire, Break On Through, Soul Kitchen and The End. The album’s  iconic front and back covers were photographed by Joel Brodsky. The back cover photo was also used for a billboard advertisement; the first album to ever get that treatment on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

As we pointed out in our article about Carole King and her photo session for Tapestry, there are always other photographs from a photo session that the public rarely sees.

In these sessions, photographer Joel Brodsky took many pictures of The Doors that could have ended up on the cover. Some of the photos were later used on album sleeve inserts and on greatest hits collections.

Below are some of the other photographs from these famous sessions. Do you think any of them would have worked better than what was chosen?

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Notorious Crime Scene Property Is For Sale

In Back Of This House One Of The Most Horrendous Killings In New York History Occurred

Westchester Home For Sale in 2014. In the 1930's the home was known as Wisteria House. photo: HGMLS

Westchester Home For Sale in 2014. In the 1930′s the home was known as Wisteria House. photo: HGMLS

You may or may not believe that houses have vibes, memories or energies surrounding them. But regardless of your beliefs, would you want to live on a property where a serial killer committed a murder so horrific that the police did not initially believe the details of the confession?

Albert Fish Crime Scene 1934 - Investigators check over a doll's wig, women's shoes and a man's suit , found near the deserted Westchester home where Albert Fish murdered Grace Budd. photo: Daily News

Albert Fish Crime Scene 1934 – Investigators check over a doll’s wig, women’s shoes and a man’s suit , found near the deserted Westchester home where Albert Fish murdered Grace Budd. photo: Daily News

In a bucolic town in Westchester, NY, you can buy the three acre property where serial killer Albert Fish took and brutally killed ten-year-old Grace Budd on June 3, 1928.

Discovering a ramshackle cottage in the glades behind Wisteria House, where Albert Fish, confessed to murdering Grace Budd, police are dismantling the old structure, and digging methodically the ground surrounding it in a search for bones of possible other victims. The house are at Greenberg, N.Y. Photo shows the small cottage also occupied by Albert Fish. 1934

Discovering a ramshackle cottage in the glades behind Wisteria House, where Albert Fish, confessed to murdering Grace Budd, police are dismantling the old structure, and digging methodically the ground surrounding it in a search for bones of possible other victims. The house are at Greenberg, N.Y. Photo shows the small cottage also occupied by Albert Fish. 1934

Asking price – $799,900.

The home shown in the contemporary photograph above and in the vintage news photograph on the left was once known as Wisteria House, an 1860 villa in what was once Greenburgh, NY, and is now part of the town of Irvington.

Obviously the real estate agent listing the home will not advertise the fact, that on this property right behind the old home was where Wisteria Cottage stood (shown in photo to the right). This is where Albert Fish strangled, dismembered and later, at his own home, ate Grace Budd.

To say Albert Fish was one of the most heinous people who ever walked the earth would be an understatement.

Reading Fish’s life story is to uncover the debaucheries of a real life Hannibal Lecter as described in Silence of the Lambs. Continue reading

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Proposed Bridges Of New York City In 1911

In 1911 The Proposed McCarren Bridge Was To Replace The “Old” Brooklyn Bridge So It Could Be Reconstructed

Existing and Proposed Bridges New York City 1911

Existing & proposed bridges New York City 1911 – note the four lower Manhattan bridges instead of three (click to enlarge)

From the New York Tribune of January 1, 1911 comes this illustration showing New York City with its existing bridges and some proposed new ones.

Sandwiched very tightly between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge  connecting lower Manhattan with Brooklyn, is a proposed new bridge which was to be called the McCarren Bridge named after “Long Pat” McCarren (1847-1909) a state senator who was Brooklyn’s Democratic political boss during the late 1800′s.

Once the proposed McCarren Bridge became a reality, city engineers planned to close and rebuild the Brooklyn Bridge.  The engineers feared that the increase in heavy traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge would necessitate additional strength being added, otherwise a support or cable might give way causing a horrible catastrophe.  Borings were even made at the site, but the McCarren Bridge was never built.

Other proposed bridges in the illustration show the Hell Gate Bridge which was begun in 1912 and completed in 1916.

Further north on the Harlem River connecting upper Manhattan with the Bronx is another proposed bridge that was never built nestled between the University Heights/West 207th Street Bridge and Washington Bridge. This bridge would have been located at 177th Street in the Bronx and was to be called The Morris Heights Bridge.

Over Spuyten Duyvil connecting the tip of northern Manhattan with the Bronx is the proposed Hudson Memorial Bridge which was to be a highly ornamental concrete bridge. First proposed in 1909 in commemoration of the Hudson-Fulton ceremonies, the long delayed Henry Hudson Bridge was finally begun in 1935 and completed in 1936 and ended up being a steel arch bridge.

The need for a bridge connecting New Jersey with Manhattan had been desired for many years. So it should come as no surprise that three different possible locations were proposed in 1911 for what was then called The New York and New Jersey Interstate Bridge. The leading site candidates on the New York side were 57th Street, 110th Street and 179th Street.

The George Washington Bridge, was eventually constructed from 1927 – 1931 on the 179th Street site.

To alleviate traffic between New Jersey and New York, the Holland Tunnel (opened 1927) and Lincoln Tunnel (opened 1937) were built instead of more bridges. The later additions of the Midtown Tunnel (opened 1940) and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel (opened 1950) helped traffic flow between Manhattan to Queens and Brooklyn respectively.

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Scorecard! Who Needs A Scorecard?

The Death Of The Scorecard At The Ballgame

Scorecard vendor at the Polo Grounds 1949 - photo William C. Greene

Scorecard vendor at the Polo Grounds 1949 – photo William C. Greene

Recently I went to a baseball game at that imitation ballpark in the Bronx they call Yankee Stadium. After being gently frisked at the admission gates and going through the turnstiles, the thing that did not greet me was what you see above: a vendor selling scorecards.

You could buy a scorecard, but not for 10 cents as it was at the Polo Grounds in 1949. The archaic idea of a scorecard costs $10 at Yankee Stadium and is available at the souvenir shops spread throughout Yankee Mall Stadium. The scorecard is buried in some glossy souvenir publication which I did not purchase, nor did anyone else.

When I used to attend a lot of games in the 1970′s and 80′s buying a scorecard was a no-brainer. From anywhere from a reasonable 25 cents in the early 1970′s to two dollars in the late 80′s, filling out that scorecard and having a program was a nice memento of a game I went to. There is a certain enjoyment derived from scorekeeping and having a permanent record of a game you are attending.

I just dug this program of my closet from a game I went to on Thursday evening September 6, 1973. The Yankees came back in the bottom of the eighth inning after trailing 6-5 on a three run home run from Mike Hegan to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-6. Bobby Murcer and Roy White also homered for the Yanks. The time of the game was 2:22.

In my childish way I merely recorded outs as fly outs, ground outs or line outs without denoting the fielders who made the play. As you can see my scorekeeping leaves a lot to be desired, but for a little kid I think I did a pretty good job. Eventually I learned to score correctly.

For 30 cents they packed a lot into 28 pages. Continue reading

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Classic Hollywood #31

Julie Newmar, Barbara Eden and Tina Louise (Catwoman, Jeannie and Ginger) Before TV Super-Stardom

In the mid 1960′s three television shows debuted that have achieved pop culture immortality status: Gilligan’s Island; I Dream of Jeannie and Batman. The beautiful women associated with these shows are forever young in TV re-runs.

Before they went on to become pop-culture legends, Julie Newmar, Barbara Eden and Tina Louise each posed for cheesecake photos in the 1950′s that displayed their natural assets.

Julie Newmar had appeared in films, television and on Broadway winning a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Marriage-Go-Round. Everlasting fame came to Julie Newmar playing Catwoman on Batman.

Barbara Eden starred in a number of television shows and some movies throughout the 1950′s and 1960′s before landing the title role in I Dream of Jeannie in 1965. The show ran for five seasons on NBC and is still seen today in syndication.

After modeling and appearing on Broadway in the 1950′s Tina Louise became a movie star in her film debut God’s Little Acre (1958) . When she took the role of Ginger Grant in Gilligan’s Island, Louise mistakenly thought via her agent that she would be the lead in the ensemble cast show according to series creator Sherwood Schwartz. Tina Louise believed Gilligan’s Island ruined her acting career and forever typecast her as a sex symbol rather than a serious actress. The show has been broadcast all over the world constantly ever since its CBS network run ended in 1967.

It’s hard to believe all three glamorous women are now in their early 80′s. Ironically, Tina Louise who believed her career was ruined by her participation in Gilligan’s Island, is the only one still actively seeking and getting acting roles.

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