Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sam Rosoff: Immigrant Transportation Scion

from Time Magazine, 4/08/1935
Last week a crowd gathered on the steps of New York County's Supreme Court House to witness a bankruptcy sale of the property of Hudson River Navigation Corp. Forced to earn a year's maintenance in four summer months, the 100-year-old concern went under in 1932, has since been operated at a loss by court trustees. Sole bidder for its assets last week was a contractor named Harry R. Pearley, whose offer of $100,100 was promptly accepted. Newshawks soon found that the real buyer was not Mr. Pearley but a fat and fabulous man named Samuel Rosoff who was pacing about at the fringe of the crowd. Asked why he bought it, Rosoff explained:
"I am interested in the welfare of the good old Night Line. I love the Hudson River."
The Hudson River Night Line used to carry some 200,000 passengers. 20,000 automobiles, 175,000 tons of freight annually between New York and Albany before it went bankrupt. Its four passenger ships are the finest of their kind afloat. The Berkshire, world's largest river steamer, accommodates 2.400 passengers, has 413 staterooms. Night liners take 12 hours to cover their 160-mile route. Last week Buyer Rosoff promised to build "swell new boats," put the line on its sea-legs.
Samuel Rufus Rosoff was born in Minsk, Russia, 53 years ago. Aged u, he worked his way to the U. S. as a potato-peeler on an immigrant ship. A tough, dirty little boy who had never been inside a school, he sold newspapers, slept on warm sidewalk gratings, learned to read at the Public Library. One job led to another until Samuel Rosoff was building New York City subways, operating bus lines, brewing King's beer, buying race horses and making money hand over fist. Today he often carries $50,000 cash in his pockets, tells competitors: "Money talks." Shrewd at dealing with all kinds of politicians, he boasts: "I'm a member of Tammany Hall and proud of it. I'm also a Republican and proud of that. ... I haven't got education. What I got is what it takes to make guys with education do the job I want done."

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