Category Archives: History

Worst Product Design & Print Advertisement Of The 21st Century

What Are They Selling?

Phallic perfume bottle ad Donna Karan

There is subliminal advertising. Then there is the advertising trying to be subliminal, yet it’s not. A step above that is the painfully obvious which is the equivalent of blunt force trauma.

It hits so hard that if you turn the page without stopping, you will stop and say “wait a second, what did I just see?” And then turn back a page to double-check.

No, this product shown above is not from the Adam and Eve sex catalog.

I’m not quite sure which magazine this ad appeared in possibly Vogue or an in-flight magazine.  It ran sometime in the early to mid-2000s.

When I saw it, I tore it out, saying to myself this has to be a joke no one would believe this.

Donna Karan phallic perfume ad

Donna Karan Phallic Perfume bottle ad text (click to enlarge –  no pun intended.)

But it’s real. I folded it up showed it to a few friends. Then I saved it in my shoebox of full of oddities with the funny poem, the wooden nickel and a mood ring. Continue reading

The “Prince” Who New York’s Prince Street Is Named After

Was New York’s Prince Street’s Name Derived From Royalty?

Prince Street Bromley & Robinson 1879 Atlas of New York

Some of the original names given to the streets of New York when under Dutch and English rule have survived to the present day.

Many streets owe their name to local landmarks or the aristocracy and heroes of 17th and 18th century New York, including Delancey Street, Duane Street and Houston Street named after James De Lancey, James Duane and William Houstoun. Continue reading

The Lighthouse Without A Light

 Sir John Barrow’s Unlit Lighthouse

Lighthouse or Memorial Sir John Barrow

Sir John Barrow Memorial Hoad Hill Ulverston Cumbria, UK

The “lighthouse” is in the town of Ulverston, a bucolic seaside town which hosts various festivals throughout the year. There’s an annual Dickens Festival each November in which many of the citizens dress in Victorian attire. Then there’s “Another Fine Fest” held in June. The title is a takeoff on the admonishing words “Well… that’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into!” Oliver Hardy says these words in countless films to his comedic partner Stan Laurel. Ulverston’s modern claim to fame is as the birthplace of comedian Stan Laurel, who lived here until he was six-years-old.

Levity aside, viewed from afar, the 100 tower off the northern English coast of Cumbria sure looks like a lighthouse. Continue reading

Birds-Eye View Of New York 1870

A Panoramic View of Lower Manhattan Including The Unbuilt Brooklyn Bridge

Lower Manhattan Harper's Weekly 1870 Brooklyn BridgeOur view is from the November 19, 1870 Harper’s Weekly.  Entitled, “Bird’s-eye view of the southern end of New York and Brooklyn showing the projected suspension bridge and East River from the western terminus in printing house square, New York.”

That long title reflects a fairly accurate view of New York, Brooklyn and surrounding area drawn by Theodore R Davis. Marine traffic crowds the river and piers with ferries, paddle-wheelers, steamships, schooners and sloops of all descriptions. The building of the bridge would slightly alleviate this nautical congestion.

Construction on the bridge began on January 2, 1870.  Continue reading

Oh No! “Fats” Of The Little Rascals Is Dead!

“Fats” Is Reported Dead And Little Rascals Fans Scratch Their Heads In Confusion.

The Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer were among the dozens of newspapers reporting the sad news of the passing of Don Law aka “Fats.” The Associated Press photo shows a rather glum grown-up Don.

You remember “Fats” from Our Gang a.k.a. The Little Rascals, right? Even serious fans of Our Gang may not exactly be sure which one Fats was. Probably the big fat kid.

Search your memory. You’ll come to the conclusion that you don’t remember anyone named ‘Fats’ in Our Gang. Continue reading

Book Review – The Finest Building In America The New York Crystal Palace

The New York Crystal Palace Gave Americans A Building To Be Proud Of

burrows finest building in americaOn the site of the future Bryant Park on 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues stood The New York Crystal Palace. It was only there for a little more than five years. Built of cast iron, timber and glass the building was unlike anything previously built in America.

Edwin G. Burrows book, “The Finest Building in America The New York Crystal Palace 1853-1858” Oxford; (2018), is a short, entertaining account of the impact the building and the wonders displayed inside, had on the city. Continue reading

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

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

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