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HISTORICAL




No. 23

Illustration: Wendy Plovmand

8 Legend says that in 1626, Dutch colonist Peter Minuit bought the future New Netherland from the Lenape Indians in exchange for trinkets and beads, valued at 60 guilders ($35 in today's terms). There's a plaque commemorating the transaction in Inwood, though some claim that it actually took place in lower Manhattan, nearer the Battery Park monument claiming...the same thing. Shorakkopoch Rock, Indian Rd at 218th St

9 In 1656, when New York was New Amsterdam, residents of De Hoogh Street (now Stone Street) got sick of the dust and mud that are hallmarks of a dirt road and requested that their block be paved with cobblestones. The city obliged, creating what is said to be the city's first paved road. Stone St between Broad and Whitehall Sts

10 Following defeat at the Battle of Brooklyn, George Washington repaired to statesman Philip Livingston's house on August 29, 1776, to draw up plans for his army's escape to Manhattan. 281 Hicks St (approx) near Joralemon St, Brooklyn Heights

11 When Washington made his trip through the Bronx past Spuyten Duyvil Creek to take possession of New York in November 1783, he is said to have exclaimed, "Surely this is the seat of empire!" And that's how New York became the "Empire State."

12 Ask any Japanese tourist: At the first Federal Hall, the first Congress adopted the Bill of Rights and, in April 1789, President George Washington was inaugurated. 26 Wall St at Nassau St

13 The exact address (No. 52) disappeared when it was replaced by a little public works project called the Brooklyn Bridge, but here was the site of President Washington's first postinaugural household—and the nation's first presidential mansion—in 1789. Cherry St between Catherine St and Market Slip

14 Sandy Ground, the nation's oldest freed-slave community, was established in Woodrow in the early 19th century. The homes, one of which houses the Sandy Ground Historical Society, are now recognized as historic landmarks. 1538 Woodrow Rd between Dexter and Lynbrook Aves, Staten Island

15 An 1811 commission made up of founding father Gouverneur Morris, surveyor Simeon De Witt and lawyer John Rutherford devised the Manhattan street grid at an office here. 329 Bleecker St at Christopher St

16 Tompkins Square Park was the site of two famous uprisings occurring more than a century apart. On January 13, 1874, mounted police charged demonstrating laborers, ushering in an era of severe labor conflict and violence. On the same site, on August 6, 1988, more than 40 people were injured when rioting broke out as police tried to clear the park of homeless squatters. Between Aves A and B and 7th and 10th Sts

17 Washington Roebling, son of Brooklyn Bridge designer John Roebling and chief engineer on that project after his father's death, from 1872 to 1883 oversaw the construction by telescope from an apartment (since replaced) what was then 110 Columbia Heights. 124 Columbia Heights between Orange and Pineapple Sts, Brooklyn Heights

18 Why is Staten Island part of New York? Ask someone who was around on January 21, 1898—it was then that the five townships approved the referendum that combined the boroughs into one big city.

19 The city's most ridiculous melee ever—the rocking-chair riot—took place during the summer of 1901, when entrepreneur Oscar F. Spate decided to capitalize on soaring temperatures by installing green wicker rockers under the trees of Madison Square Park—and charge citizens a nickel to park their keisters there. On July 6, a mob screaming "Lynch him!" chased an attendant, Thomas Tully, after he slapped a heckling 15-year-old who wouldn't hand over the five cents. Madison Square Park, between Fifth and Madison Aves and 23rd and 26th Sts

20 The infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire blazed on March 25, 1911, killing 146 workers, mostly female. Many jumped to their deaths. 29 Washington Pl at Greene St

21 George Herman "Babe" Ruth lost his virginity to Miss Rosie Malone on July 29, 1911, at the age of 16. Apparently it was this home run that earned the baseball legend his famed nickname. Broadway at 168th St

22 Margaret Sanger opened the first birth-control clinic in 1916, which was wildly popular until it was shut down nine days later. Sanger went on to found what would become Planned Parenthood. 46 Amboy St at Pitkin Ave, Brownsville, Brooklyn

23 Most people think of Boston as the hub of pre--Revolutionary War activity, but the first armed conflict between the Colonists and the Brits actually happened in Manhattan. Six weeks before the Boston Massacre, the lesser-known Battle of Golden Hill went down on a wheat field that today is a stretch of William Street. The insurgent group Sons of Liberty traded verbal broadsides with the British until the redcoats leveled the Colonists' liberty pole (which had been erected to celebrate the repeal of the odious Stamp Act) in what's now City Hall Park—an act meant as a statement against the political activism that frequently occurred there. (Sound familiar?) Two days later, on January 19, 1770, an all-out altercation ensued. Several locals were injured, and news of the event spread quickly throughout the Colonies. Though brief, the skirmish fed the tensions that led to the Boston Massacre and, eventually, the American Revolution. William St between Liberty and John Sts

24 Things were once even worse on Wall Street: On September 16, 1920, a horse-drawn wagon carrying 100 pounds of dynamite exploded across the street from J.P. Morgan bank, killing 38 and injuring 400. Wall St at Broad St

25 In 1928, 52 acres close to the sleepy 'hood of—we shit you not—Linoleumville (it took its name from a factory but is now called Travis) became the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge. This was first wildlife and bird sanctuary in New York City. Victory Blvd between Signs Rd and Travis Ave, Staten Island

26 The Bronx Bombers aren't the only team in history to claim the name New York Yankees: Their stadium was home to the American Football League squad of the same name in 1936, 1937 and 1940. Yankee Stadium, River Ave at 161st St, Bronx

27 In 1938, Howard Hughes used Floyd Bennett Field as the starting and finishing point of a record-setting 91-hour, 17-minute trip around the world. The southern end of Flatbush Ave, where it meets the Belt Pkwy, Brooklyn


No. 33

Illustration: Wendy Plovmand

28 On November 29, 1947, Queens gave birth to the state of Israel. The United Nations General Assembly, which met in the New York City Building of Flushing Meadows--Corona Park from 1946 to 1950, voted to break what was then Palestine into three parts: one for Jews, one for Arabs and one neutral zone. Today the building houses the Queens Museum of Art. 51st Ave between Grand Central Pkwy and 111th St, Corona, Queens

29 While history-savvy New Yorkers know that John F. Kennedy once lived in Riverdale, fewer know that Lee Harvey Oswald lived in the Bronx too. As an adolescent, he spent 1953 with his mother on East 179th Street. 825 E 179th St between Mapes and Marmion Aves, Bronx

30 Soviet spy Rudolf Ivanovich Abel, who had been posing as an artist with a studio in Brooklyn Heights, was arrested by the FBI in June 1957. 252 Fulton St near Clark St, Brooklyn Heights

31 After colliding with a United Airlines jet in 1960, a TWA airliner crashed into an empty patch of the Miller Field army base, flinging 44 people to their deaths. The Pillar of Fire Church in Brooklyn was also destroyed. Army base: New Dorp Ln between Cedar Grove Ave and Mill Rd, Staten Island. Church: Seventh Ave at Sterling Pl, Park Slope, Brooklyn.

32 It's Big Love in New York: Nelson Rockefeller lived in a triplex with his wife, Mary "Tod" Clark. After divorcing Tod to marry Margaretta "Happy" Murphy in 1963, Rocky gave Tod the top two floors, keeping the bottom floor with Happy. Coincidentally, Rocky's rival Richard Nixon also lived in the building, from 1962 to 1969. 810 Fifth Ave at 62nd St

33 Lilliputia, an experimental attraction of little people on Coney Island, was built in 1904. Located at the Dreamland amusement park (now the New York Aquarium), the 80' x 175' "Midget City" was built in proportion to its citizens: 300 dwarves lured away from sideshows. As paying customers gaped, the diminutive denizens milled about their cardboard utopia, visiting a tiny theater and pocket-sized parliament. Eventually, Lilliputians were told to engage in promiscuous sexual behavior. By the time Dreamland went up in flames in 1911, Lilliputia had devolved into a hotbed of sexual anarchy, with 80 percent of newborns conceived out of wedlock. Surf Ave and W 8th St

34 Malcolm X: assassinated while giving a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights on February 21, 1965. 3940 Broadway between 165th and 166th Sts

35 Thousands—including Allen Ginsberg and Abbie Hoffman—gathered on Easter Sunday, March 26, 1967, for the Central Park Be-In. Central Park's Sheep Meadow

36 Queens hit a political low on January 10, 1986, when Borough President Donald Manes slit his wrists in his car, in response to allegations that he had received kickbacks from a government bureau. He survived, only to stab himself in the chest two months later. 94th St exit of the Grand Central Pkwy, East Elmhurst, Queens

37 This one's not just a three-day riot, but a pogrom, depending on which historian you talk to. On August 19, 1991, Yosef Lifsh, driving a station wagon as part of a motorcade for a Hasidic rabbi, ran over and killed seven-year-old Guyanese boy Gavin Cato. The death sparked several days of rioting between Crown Heights' Hasidic and African-American communities, during which Yankel Rosenbaum, 29, was stabbed to death. Dispute over the sequence of events—did a Jewish ambulance help Lifsh before the boy?—goes on to this day. Corner of Eastern Pkwy and Utica Ave, Crown Heights, Brooklyn

38 From 1970 to 1995, a Roman Catholic housewife named Veronica Lueken claimed to receive messages from the Virgin Mary, Saint Paul and the archangel Gabriel. Despite the Church's refusal to acknowledge the veracity of her visions, Leuken established Our Lady of the Roses shrine. Her believers still pray there; her visions are referred to as the Bayside Marian Apparition. Flushing Meadows--Corona Park (Vatican Pavillion Site), Queens



Online extras:

A reinforced concrete sewer pipe exploded in Greenpoint on October 5, 1950, shattering store and apartment windows and launching manhole covers as high Fas three stories into the air. A gasoline leak in the sewer system was blamed for the blast, and it contributed to (and was a symptom of) a larger problem—an EPA report in September 2007 found that over the past 144 years or so, as many as 30 million gallons of oil from area refineries have leaked into the ground and nearby Newtown Creek. Corner of Huron St and Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint

The first Labor Day was held on September 5, 1882 (a Tuesday), when 10,000 union workers marched from City Hall to Union Square, later repairing to what was then called Reservoir Park (now Bryant Park) for a celebratory picnic. In 1884, Labor Day was changed to the first Monday in September. It was declared a legal holiday on June 28, 1894. Bryant Park between Fifth and Sixth Aves and 40th and 42nd Sts

The troubled tipplers who would eventually form Alcoholics Anonymous came to worship and seek help for their wayward souls at the Calvary Episcopal Church in the early '30s. Unrelatedly, the church was also the childhood parish of both Theodore and Eleanor Roosevelt. 237 Park Ave Sth at 21st St

On September 11, 1776, British peace commissioner General Howe attempted to convince Benjamin Franklin not to resist the British at the Conference House in Tottenville—the only pre-Revolutionary manor house left in NYC. 7455 Hylan Blvd at Satterlee St, Staten Island

The ironclad Union warship the USS Monitor, which battled the Confederacy's Merrimac to a draw in Chesapeake Bay, was built at the Continental Iron Works shipyard in Greenpoint and launched on January 30, 1862. The shipyard was located on Newtown Creek at Cayler and West Sts, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Commissioner of Correction Benjamin Malcolm was forced to call a state of emergency when in Hunts Point the Bronx House of Detention erupted in riots during the 1977 blackouts. Halleck St at Ryawa Ave, Bronx

Meant to help disabled children, the Willowbrook State School was exposed in the 1960s—by Staten Island newspapers and Geraldo Rivera of all people—to be abusing students. Among the horrors: purposefully injecting healthy kids with hepititis to study the effects. It closed in 1987 and is now part of the College of Staten Island. 436 Hanover Ave at Narrows Rd North, Staten Island

During the Civil War, this triangular building doubled as a stable and hospital, where the Union army's wounded were routinely separated from their gangrenous limbs. 28 Ninth Ave between and Hudson and W 14th Sts

On December 16, 1835, a fire starting here raged on for two days over 20 square blocks, wiping out nearly 700 buildings below Canal Street. 25 Hanover St (then called Merchant St) at Beaver St

Political activist and former Black Panther Angela Davis had been checked in to this Howard Johnson hotel for two months before being picked up by the FBI. She was arrested there on October 13, 1970, on charges of kidnapping, murder and unlawful interstate flight, stemming from a shoot-out in a California courtroom. She was the third woman ever to make the FBI's Most Wanted List. 829 Eighth Ave at 50th St

In the 19th century, this was the HQ of Lorenzo and Orson Fowler, the U.S.'s very first phrenologists, who assessed such famed noggins as that of Mark Twain, Clara Barton and Walt Whitman. 135 Nassau St at Beekman St

At the Old Stone House of Gowanus, which was reconstructed from the original stones in 1935, outnumbered Maryland soldiers on August 27, 1776, delayed the British long enough to allow George Washington to escape with the Continental army. 336 Third Ave between 1st and 3rd Sts, Carroll Gardens

Abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, whose sister Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, held mock auctions to buy slaves' freedom from the pulpit of the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims. 75 Hicks St at Cranberry St, Brooklyn Heights

Jeanette "Jennie" Jerome, the daughter of a New York financier and the mother of British prime minister Winston Churchill, was born in Cobble Hill on January 9, 1854. 197 Amity St between Clinton and Court Sts, Cobble Hill

In August 1776, at the start of the American Revolution, City Clerk Augustus Van Cortlandt stashed the city records in his family's burial vault (in what is now Van Cortlandt Park) to keep them safe. Van Cortlandt Park, enter at Broadway and 252nd St. Vault Hill is on the West side, north of the Parade Grounds.

Leon Trotsky lived in a Bronx tenement apartment for a year during his exile. In 1917, he returned home to head up the Bolshevik insurgents when the Russian Revolution broke out. 1522 Vyse Ave at 172nd St

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell had his first job unloading trucks at Sickser, a baby store in the South Bronx. Corner of Westchester Ave and Fox St

Future New York City mayoral candidate Herman Badillo was the first Puerto Rican to be elected borough president in 1965. 851 Grand Concourse at 159th St

In 1887, a full 32 years before the Volstead Act, the National Prohibition Party founded a summer retreat creatively named National Prohibition Park. Now called Westerleigh, the 27-acre site boasted tennis courts, ball fields, a bowling alley and stables. Bordered by Willard, Springfield, Maine, Neal and Dow Avenues

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