Skyline trivia

Cool stuff about NYC buildings.


Every trendy shopper east of the river is aware that the Brooklyn Flea has moved into the lobby of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank (1 Hanson Pl) for the winter, but as customers glance up at the tower's giant clock to make sure they have enough time to fill their bags with artsy jewelry and silk-screened T-shirts, they should know that the four-faced timepiece was the largest in the world at the time the skyscraper was built (1927--29).


It was the Roebling family that designed and built the Brooklyn Bridge—and it was John Roebling who invented the steel-wire cabling system—but surprisingly the landmark was not constructed with cables from the Roebling Wire Company, but with inferior strings from competitor J. Lloyd Haigh. Haigh ended up in jail for fraud after a cable snapped, and the Roeblings added the now-famous diagonal cabling for added strength. You can find Roebling wire on the George Washington and Golden Gate bridges).


Poor little 40 Wall Street; twice it got shafted by bigger skyscrapers. In 1930, it famously lost the race to be the tallest in the world against the Chrysler Building thanks to a famously tricky feat during which the Chrysler crew cranked up that spire when the other guys weren't paying attention. Then in 1931, it had to give up its honor of having the highest public observation deck when the ESB arrived.


All-star abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher shook the pulpit from the still-standing Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights (75 Hicks St at Henry St). His sister was Harriet Beecher Stowe of Uncle Tom's Cabin fame, and his other sister was education pioneer Catharine Beecher. Unfortunately, Henry's career faltered after he was accused (and acquitted) of sleeping with someone else's wife.


Washington Park in Gowanus, Brooklyn, was the original home of the Brooklyn Dodgers and was refurbished for a rival team, the Brooklyn Tip-Tops, when the Dodgers moved to Ebbets Field in 1914. The Tip-Tops lasted a brief few years, but 94 years later, the stadium's entire outfield wall is still there. Third Ave between 1st and 3rd Sts, Gowanus


When the 1,670-unit London Terrace was built in 1930--31, it was the largest apartment complex in the world. 435 W 23rd St between Ninth and Tenth Aves


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


The Marx Brothers were born and raised in the apartment building at 179 East 93rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues.


Chester A. Arthur was sworn in as 21st President in the front parlor of 123 Lexington Avenue in 1881, following President Garfield's assassination. 123 Lexington Ave between 28th and 29th Sts


Pete's Tavern: Everyone knows it's the oldest continually operating drinking establishment in NYC. But here's a bonus: During prohibition, the front of the tavern was converted into a sham florist shop while in the back rooms, entered through a dummy refrigerator door, a speakeasy catered to local politicians. 129 E 18th St at Irving Pl