Sunday, October 30, 2011

Essex and Houston Street: 1936

Essex Street had to be widened for the construction of the 6th Avenue subway. The route would turn eastward from 6th avenue after the West 4th Street stop, eventually passing below Houston until Essex. From there it would turn south towards East Broadway.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Norfolk And Hester Streets: School Demolition 1931

This is across the street from the previous photo. The demolition was required due to the 6th Avenue subway construction.

22-24 Norfolk Street, near Hester Street: 1932

PS 20: 1894

originally from the early days of pseudo-intellectualism From a 1894 real estate map created by the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company. These maps were created to help fireman locate important information in order to help minimize fire loss. Those that were in color would denote different kinds of building materials. This one in particular shows where a pre-Rivington Street PS20 existed and its proximity to the People's Theater (see what's playing there-it ain't The Wedding Crasher) The entire stretch of the rectangle between Chrystie, Forsyth, Houston and Canal is now Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, constructed in the 1930's. Some notes about the YIddish theater on the bowery of that era: Yiddish theatre collection at Dorot Jewish Division NYPL By Michael Terry "The most conspicuous artistic manifestation of the Yiddish language revival was the sudden emergence and rapid triumph of Yiddish theater. Inspired by the popularity throughout central and eastern Europe of German-language companies, and their repertoires both classical and trashy, and by the elements of a Jewish theatrical tradition comprised of the ambitious Hebrew dramas of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque and the more improvised Purim plays of Ashkenaz, Yiddish theater's official birth took place in a tavern in Jassy, Romania, in October, 1876, with paternity credited to Abraham Goldfaden. Less than six years later, in the summer of 1882, the first Yiddish production in the United States was presented on the initiative of the fourteen (or, at most, sixteen)-year-old Boris Thomashefsky. The event took place at the German-American cultural and recreational center, Turn Hall, on East Fourth Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue. It was in New York that Yiddish theater blossomed, reaching the height of its appeal and influence during the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th, when Jewish immigration was at its peak. Major venues during those years included the Roumania Opera House, on the Bowery near Grand Street, and Adler's Grand Theatre, one block east at the corner of Grand Street and Chrystie, but the scene was dominated by the Thalia and Windsor theaters, which faced off on opposite sides of the Bowery near Canal Street. The fare was made up of European classics (especially Shakespeare, often transposed to a Jewish key) as well as an array of new works, both original and adapted, including melodramas, farces, operettas, and reenactments of historical and current events. With immigration drastically curtailed and assimilation all the rage, New York Yiddish theater between the wars lacked the authenticity of its glory days before World War I. From the vulgarity of the commercial nostalgia-peddlers to the high-minded kitsch of the modernists, it was at best a silver age. In Buenos Aires, by contrast, the story was quite the reverse. Yiddish theaters had existed there since the beginning of the 20th century, but, controlled by mobsters and patronized by the city's rollicking Jewish underworld, they had taken on something of the character of the burlesque house and, accordingly, were given a wide berth by members of the respectable, Jewish community. It was not until the end of the 1920s that the genteel element, with its aspirations toward community and cultural advancement, prevailed. With encouragement from such figures on the New York scene as Thomashefsky, who would visit for the winter while their own companies were closed for the summer, a modest golden age ensued, through the 1930s and into the 1940s, that made Buenos Aires the second city of the world history of Yiddish theater."

Playing At The Grand

originally from the early days of pseudo-intellectualism Quite a find at the NYPL! Either there is new material there, or there are nooks and crannies previously undiscovered. No date, however. The Grand was demolished in 1929 when the area was cleared for Roosevelt Park. This slide show is compromised of photos taken by Percy Loomis Speer. I would guess it was part of an effort to document the large scale clearing of buildings that was required to build the park. FDR was the Governor of the state at the time and my understanding is the Eleanor, who had worked for a time at University Settlement, was instrumental in making the case for urban renewal. Maybe he resisted and part of his concession was that he had to name it after his domineering mother.

Friday, October 28, 2011

1893: Dedication Of PS 7

PS 7 Dedicated-1893

1905 Map Of Grand, Forsyth, Hester, Chrystie Area

originally from the early days of pseudo-intellectualism Another Sanborn Insurance gem. A shout out to my nephew Jamie, whose U of Buffalo attendance provided digital library access. Here's a math tech integration activity. "If there were x number of synagogues on these y square blocks, how many synagogues would there be on z square blocks?' The spot where I placed an image of the real PS 7 was an empty lot. The front of PS 7 faced Chrystie Street. The area is now part of Sara Delano Roosevelt Park. In the 1896 Tribune, the school was described as the dirtiest school in the city. Behind the Grand Theater there are "Bowling Alleys and a Turkish Bathouse. I'll try to see who was playing at the Grand Theater. The hook and ladder company on Canal Street is still a fire house 100 years later. The Boarding Stable on Allen Street logically became a parking garage. BTW, SD stands for steel door.

PS 20: 1917 Draft Registration

originally from the early days of pseudo-intellectualism This incredible picture from the American Memory Collection (see url on image and search for "rivington") puts the last posting in perspective.

School Plaque History Redux

originally from the early days of pseudo-intellectualism
From August of 2005:
A couple of views of PS 177. Last year I met Gin Gee Moy, the former principal of The Meyer London School (PS 2 on Henry Street). Not too long after I graduated PS177 in 1960 the building was torn down and replaced by PS 2. There had also been an older PS 2 before on Henry Street. Mr. Sol Press had replaced Mr. Gregor at 177 in 1959 as principal and went to PS 2 with the 177 faculty. Gin Gee became part of that faculty and worked with Mr. Press. She also knew many of my old teachers. I just about remember them alin order from K-6 : Mrs Horowitz, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Lizzio, Mrs. Peck, Mrs. Apat, Mrs. Feuer, Mrs. Decker and Mrs. Jonas. Mrs. Jonas went out on pregnancy leave in the 6th Grade and we had some weird subs: Mrs. Fels, who said she was related to the Fels-Naptha family and Mrs. Lebergott. BTW Gin Gee looks a whole lot better than I do. She also told me that Mrs. Lizzio is still alive and in her 90's. I think 177 was the Roger Bacon school.
a repeat of a slide show of some LES school plaques done also in August of 2005

LES School History Via School Plaques

originally from the early days of pseudo-intellectualism
The school plaques located in every school building provide some interesting information. PS97 on Mangin Street now houses Bard College High School. I wonder what all of those Board of Education members did? Dig those names: John Whalen, Joseph Cosgrove, Cornelius Sullivan, Egerton L. Winthrop, Arthur S. Somers, George W. Wingate. Somers and Wingate got schools in Brooklyn named after them. Wasn't Cosgrove a character on "My Little Margie?" No, wait, that was Mr. Conklin and he was on
"Our Miss Brooks." Another "school board member," Mr. Honeywell was on "My Little Margie." Here's a slide show of some LES school plaques.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Speaking Of Jennifer Connelly: Once Upon A Time In America, 1984

Jennifer was mentioned in a recent group KV email that referred to How To Make It In America from Alexandra
Hi David I was expecting you to post the episode that took place in KV and you did not disappoint. I actually saved it on my DVR I do not remember if I already told you that I was friends with the mother of one of the writers on that show. He is Rob Weiss and he is listed as executive producer, but I believe he writes for that show and Entourage. We were living in Brooklyn on Stratford Road. Also a friend of a friend who visited in that group was Jennifer Connelly (age 2) and her mother. Jennifer's mother and I had a mutual friend. Funny how a couple of Brooklyn kids went on to Hollywood.
about Once Upon A Time In America Below, three 2007 posts with clips from Once Upon A Time In America part 1 part 2 part 3

Place Matters 3rd Annual Awards

This took place at October 26, 2011 at the Museum of Chinese in America from 6-9pm
Founded by City Lore and the Municipal Art Society in 1998, Place Matters' mission is to foster the conservation of New York City's historically and culturally significant places. These "places that matter" can be as diverse as local bakeries, hidden gardens, jazz clubs, and historic churches, all of which hold memories and anchor traditions for individuals and communities, and help tell the history of the city as a whole. The Third Annual Place Matters Awards honors six Lower Manhattan sites that hold memories, anchor traditions and keep New York City distinctive. ~ Economy Candy, Lower East Side ~ The Bowery Mission, Bowery ~ The Chinatown Senior Citizens' Center, Chinatown ~ Streit's Matzos, Lower East Side ~ Ear Inn, Tribeca ~ Tenement at 109 Washington Street, Financial District
Marion Fox asked me to take her place at this affair. It was an overflow crowd and I could only stay for a brief time. There was time enough, however, to chat briefly with Molly Garfinkel, who is the new program coordinator at City Lore and a fan of the KV blog. I had been lobbying for some time to get Knickerbocker listed as a place that matters and lo and behold when I checked the site I saw that we were. Thanks to Allan, Marty and Alexandra for their nominations

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

PS 160

1909: Rabies Scare At PS 160

Read this doc on Scribd: ps160-rabies
My father would be attending PS 160 in the late 1920's. It is still standing, a CBJ Snyder school, now housing the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How To Make It In America: Scene From The J Buildng Penthouse

From season 2 episode 3. Cam Calderon (Victor Rasuk) gets a penthouse apartment at 16 Monroe Street. I'm pretty sure it was once the apartment of Duke Viggiano

Who's Almost Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Abe Beame, 176 Forsyth Street

Abraham David Beame was born in London on March 20, 1906, to Polish-Jewish parents who had fled Warsaw, then part of Czarist Russia. His father, Philip Birnbaum, a Socialist revolutionary who barely escaped arrest, went directly to New York, while his mother, Esther Goldfarb Birnbaum, stopped in London to give birth and joined her husband three months later. In New York, the family name was changed to Beame. Abraham's mother, who had two more sons and a daughter, died in 1912; his father remarried and had two more children. The boy, called ''Spunky'' for his scrappiness, grew up in a crowded cold-water flat on the Lower East Side. Childhood friends said he was an outstanding student at Public School 160. At the High School of Commerce, where he graduated at the top of his class, he had perfect scores in the state Regents bookkeeping exams and showed an extraordinary ability to absorb data and memorize facts. He was always working. One early morning job was to go through tenements, waking people who had no alarm clocks. During his high school years, he worked evenings in a paper factory, studying during his dinner hour. He roller-skated to school and work to save subway fare. His father took him to Socialist party meetings, and he remembered Eugene V. Debs, who ran for president five times. At 15, he met Mary Ingerman over checkers at the University Settlement House on Eldridge Street. Seven years later, after he graduated from City College with an accounting degree in 1928, they were married. They lived in Brooklyn for the next 45 years, first in a two-family house in Crown Heights, where they raised their sons, then in a modest apartment near Prospect Park. They spent summers at rented cottages in Belle Harbor, on the Rockaways in Queens.
My rational, he was a Birnbaum before his named was changed to Beame.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mickmas Day: Special 80th Birthday Edition

above, Mick talking about his greatest World Series thrill.
below, from Richard Karney
And a Happy Mickmas to everyone! Today is the Mick's 80th birthday, a truly blessed event. And I wish all a very happy holiday!! Unfortunately, again this year's celebration is muted by the fact the boys began their holiday shopping and golfing early. Lack of timely hitting, something the Mick would scoff at, proved to be the bane of this year's team. As baseball fans, even with surrogates in this year's championship we can try to enjoy the world series, however, we shall look forward to another exciting year in 2012 and an even more exciting off-season trying to find the missing pieces to this year's shortened season. As mentioned in last year's annual missive, while the Mick never met a woman or single malt he didn't like, it will not be in poor taste for us to raise a glass (or two) to celebrate the end of the eighth decade of the Mick and/or his memory. (I cannot provide advice on chasing opposite genders, however.) So as we watch (and suffer through another verbal onslaught by Buck and McCarver) tonight, praise, salute and savor what the Mick provided and toast him on his birthday. And may 2012 bring joy, excitement and #28 to us all. As is my wont, I attach Bob Costas' eulogy prior to the Mick's ascension.
You know, it occurs to me as we're all sitting here thinking of Mickey, he's probably somewhere getting an earful from Casey Stengel, and no doubt quite confused by now. One of Mickey's fondest wishes was that he be remembered as a great teammate, to know that the men he played with thought well of him. But it was more than that. Moose and Whitey and Tony and Yogi and Bobby and Hank, what a remarkable team you were. And the stories of the visits you guys made to Mickey's bedside the last few days were heartbreakingly tender. It meant everything to Mickey, as would the presence of so many baseball figures past and present here today. I was honored to be asked to speak by the Mantle family today. I am not standing here as a broadcaster. Mel Allen is the eternal voice of the Yankees and that would be his place. And there are others here with a longer and deeper association with Mickey than mine. But I guess I'm here, not so much to speak for myself as to simply represent the millions of baseball-loving kids who grew up in the '50s and '60s and for whom Mickey Mantle was baseball. And more than that, he was a presence in our lives-a fragile hero to whom we had an emotional attachment so strong and lasting that it defied logic. Mickey often said he didn't understand it, this enduring connection and affection-the men now in their 40s and 50s, otherwise perfectly sensible, who went dry in the mouth and stammered like schoolboys in the presence of Mickey Mantle. Maybe Mick was uncomfortable with it, not just because of his basic shyness, but because he was always too honest to regard himself as some kind of deity. But that was never really the point. In a very different time than today, the first baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis said, "Every boy builds a shrine to some baseball hero, and before that shrine, a candle always burns." For a huge portion of my generation, Mickey Mantle was that baseball hero. And for reasons that no statistics, no dry recitation of the facts can possibly capture, he was the most compelling baseball hero of our lifetime. And he was our symbol of baseball at time when the game meant something to us that perhaps it no longer does. Mickey Mantle had those dual qualities so seldom seen-exuding dynamism and excitement, but at the same time touching your heart-flawed, wounded. We knew there was something poignant about Mickey Mantle before we know what Poignant meant. We didn't just root for him, we felt for him. Long before many of us ever cracked a serious book, we knew something about mythology as we watched Mickey Mantle run out a home run through the lengthening shadows of a late Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. There was a greatness about him, but vulnerability too. He was our guy. When he was hot, we felt great. When he slumped or got hurt, we sagged a bit too. We tried to crease our caps like him; kneel in an imaginary on-deck circle like him; run like him, heads down, elbows up. Billy Crystal is here today. Billy says that at his bar mitzvah he spoke in an Oklahoma drawl. Billy's here today because he loved Mickey Mantle, and millions like him are here today in spirit as well. It's been said that the truth is never pure and rarely simple. Mickey Mantle was too humble and honest to believe that the whole truth about him could be found on a Wheaties box or a baseball card. But the emotional truths about childhood have a power that transcends objective fact. They stay with us through all the years, withstanding the ambivalence that so often accompanies the experience of adults. That's why we can still recall the immediate tingle in that instant of recognition when a Mickey Mantle popped up in a pack of Topps bubble gum cards-a treasure lodged between an Eli Grba and a Pumpsie Green. That's why we smile today, recalling those October afternoons when we'd sneak a transistor radio into school to follow Mickey Mantle and the Yankees in the World Series. Or when I think of Mr. Tomasee, a very wise sixth-grade teacher who understood that the World Series was more important, at least for one day, than any school lesson could be. So he brought his black and white TV from home, plugged it in and let us watch it right there in school through the flicker and static. It was richer and more compelling than anything I've seen on a high-resolution, big-screen TV. Of course, the bad part, Bobby, was that Koufax struck 15 of you guys out that day. My phone's been ringing the past few weeks as Mickey fought for his life. I've heard from people I hadn't seen or talked to in years, guys I played stickball with, even some guys who took Willie's side in those endless Mantle, Mays arguments. They're grown up now. They have their families. They're not even necessarily big baseball fans anymore. But they felt something hearing about Mickey, and they figured I did too. In the last year, Mickey Mantle, always so hard on himself, finally came to accept and appreciate the distinction between a role model and a hero. The first he often was not, the second he always will be. And, in the end, people got it. And Mickey Mantle got from something other than misplaced and mindless celebrity worship. He got something far more meaningful. He got love. Love for what he had been, love for what he made us feel, love for the humanity and sweetness that was always there mixed in the flaws and all the pain that racked his body and his soul. We wanted to tell him that it was OK, that what he had been was enough. We hoped he felt that Mutt Mantle would have understood that Merlyn and the boys loved him. And then in the end, something remarkable happened, the way it does for champions. Mickey Mantle rallied. His heart took over, and he had some innings as fine as any in 1956 or with his buddy, Roger, in 1961. But this time. he did it in the harsh and trying summer of '95. And what he did was stunning. The sheer grace of that ninth inning, the total absence of self pity, the simple eloquence and honesty of his pleas to others to take heed of his mistakes. All of America watched in admiration. His doctors said he was, in many ways, the most remarkable patient they'd ever seen. His bravery so stark and real, that even those used to seeing people in dire circumstances where moved by his example. Because of that example, organ donations are up drastically all across America. A cautionary tale has been honestly told and perhaps will affect some lives for the better. And our last memories of Mickey Mantle are as heroic as the first. None of us, Mickey included, would want to be held to account for every moment of our lives. But how many of us could say that our best moments were as magnificent as his? In a cartoon from this morning's The Dallas Morning News. Maybe some of you saw it. It got torn a little bit on the way from the hotel to here. There's a figure here, St. Peter I take it to be, with his arm around Mickey, that broad back and the number 7. We know some of what went on. Sorry, we can't let you in, but before you go, God wants to know if you'd sign these six dozen baseballs." Well, there were days when Mickey Mantle was so darn good that we kids bet that even God would want his autograph. But like the cartoon says, I don't think Mick needed to worry much about the other part. I just hope God has a place for him where he can run again. Where he can play practical jokes on his teammates and smile that boyish smile, 'cause God knows, no one's perfect. And God knows there's something special about heroes. So long, Mick. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mae Wong Lee and PS 42, part 2

from open city: Here she discusses some of the pedagogical styles and teachers who made the most difference in helping her succeed. She currently serves as Assistant Principal there. Public School 42, on the corner of Hester and Orchard Streets, was built in 1898. It eventually got named the Benjamin Altman School, after the department store owner whose first store was located nearby, on Attorney Street. (The B. Altman’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue opened in 1906, and the building currently houses the City University of New York Graduate Center, Oxford University Press, and the New York Public Library science research collection.) The school serves around 800 students, from pre-kindergarten through grade 5. These students are over 92% Asian, around 5% African American, 2% Latino, and the remaining students white.

May Wong Lee and PS 42

PS 42 Traditions: Crab Soccer, the Knish Man, and Pickles! from Celina Su on Vimeo.

fro open city: May Wong Lee shares remembrances about attending Public School 42 in the 1960s and 1970s, especially beloved traditions they had back then– namely, crab soccer, the knish man, and pickles.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

PS 42: Just Who Was Benjamn Altman?

Altman Funeral
Benjamin Altman (1840–1913) was born and died in New York City. He was the second of three children. His parents, Phillip and Cecilia, were Jewish immigrants from Bavaria who came to America around 1835, and settled on the Lower East Sideof Manhattan in a flat on Attorney Street where Benjamin was born. His father had established a modest dry goods store which provided Benjamin with his earliest experiences in shopkeeping and trade. After a day's lessons at a nearby public school, Benjamin's attention tumed to the work of tending the counter, serving the customers and doing whatever chores needed to be done in the family store. He found this kind of work fascinating. By the time he was 12 years old, Benjamin's formal education had come to an end. In a pattern familiar to youth of that time, the boy withdrew from school to work full time in the family enterprise; he was no longer a child. In 1865, Altman founded B. Altman & Co. opening a store on Third Avenue and 10th Street in NYC. In 1906, he moved the business to Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. Benjamin Altman died without heirs. Shortly before the death, he founded the Altman Foundation. Until 1985, it owned B. Altman & Co., which latter closed the last store in 1990. Benjamin Altman was an avid collector of Rembrandt paintings and china, much of which he acquired through art dealer Joseph Duveen. Upon his death, he donated the collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is a portrait of Altman in the New York State Museum in Albany; it was painted by the Swiss-born American artist Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862–1947) and donated to the New York Chamber of Commerce by Michael Friedsam. Müller-Ury knew Altman personally as a client of art dealer Henry Duveen. He was compelled to paint from a photograph after Altman's death. He first completed a 50 x 40 inches portrait of Altman seated in his gallery with a Rembrandt behind him and a Chinese vase on a table beside him, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for whom this had been painted, chose a far weaker portrait of Altman by Ellen Emmet Rand also made from a photograph, and Müller-Ury's larger work went to the Foundation offices; it has since disappeared.

1964 World Series Preview: Connie Francis

Too bad it's the Rangers playing the Cards this year and not the Yankees. The 1964 series. Even then I couldn't stand Tim McCarver

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Out of The Night There Came A Lady "

With the story on the Lee family and its connection to PS 42 on Hester Street, I'm posting here some 2006-7 stories related to the school from pseudo-intellectualism
Ms. Rizzo requested some digital resources on Harriet Tubman so it looks like the Holly Near version of Walter Robinson's song will be dusted off again. Likewise "out of the night" appeared Gail Carson Levine. Well, not really. I sought out Ms. Levine. I wanted to share the work the kids were doing with her book. I thought she would appreciate the attempt to match the story with its real world locations. I also wanted to share the similar experiences of my father and hers, the Sephardic Jewry link, and Uncle Hy's connection to PS 42. Remarkably, after reading my blog, she thought I was cogent enough to return my call and we had a nice conversation. Coincidentally, her residence upstate is not too far away from where I destroyed my brakes last week. Synchronicity, zeitgeist, who knows? If the classes of the two schools manage to get together to celebrate "Dave At Night" Gail said she would join us and that would be great. I wonder how many Tweed and other DOE bureaucrats it would take to coordinate such an effort. Probably 3 or 4 meetings, a few retreats and a 200 page manual would be involved. Here's part of an interesting interview with Gail by Cynthia Leitich Smith: Gail Carson Levine on Gail Carson Levine: "I was born and grew up in New York City. I was a child in the 1950s, not very long after World War II. My neighborhood in northern Manhattan, Washington Heights, was a haven for refugees from Hitler, and German was spoken on the streets as often as English."The city was a wonderful place to be a kid. Every July 4th, my friends and I would walk to middle of the George Washington Bridge and watch the Macy's fireworks over the Hudson River. On weekends we might walk a mile uptown to the Cloisters, a medieval museum. Other times we'd walk a mile south to two other museums. When I was eleven, I was allowed to travel on the subways on my own, and then New York City was my oyster! In the winter, friends and I would ice skate in Central Park. In the summer, we'd picnic and swim at the beach two hours away by subway--for thirty cents each way!" You can find the rest of it here

The Hebrew Home For Boys

With the story on the Lee family and its connection to PS 42 on Hester Street, I'm posting here some 2006-7 stories related to the school from pseudo-intellectualism
When Dave Caros' father dies in "Dave At Night" he is sent to live at the Hebrew Home For Boys in Harlem. This institution existed on 136th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam until the 1930's. I couldn't find any pictures of it online. I wanted to get some images of the area to show the classes involved in the les/harlem project that I envisioned. I decided to combine some atmospheric sound with the images, but came up a bit short. So in this slide show I augmented that soundtrack with some reggaetone music. I hadn't been in that area much (CCNY takes up a big part) in my life, other some PS 397K era trips to 142nd Street and Hamilton Place (The Children's Art Carnival). The Convent and Edgecombe Ave areas were beautiful. I had thought that the latin area of west Harlem started further uptown than the 130's. The dividing line between latin and African-American Harlem seemed to be CCNY and St Nicholas Park. Amazingly, the exact location of the Home was discovered when I was researching the Jacob Schiff School, which is unique in that you have to climb a hill to reach it from its 136th Street side. Here's what I found on the nycparks dept site:"This parkland, which is shared by Public School 192, also known as Jacob H. Schiff School, was once home to the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. By World War II, the orphan asylum closed and was transformed into army barracks. Shortly after the war, City College acquired the building for use as a classroom and dormitory, naming it “Army Hall.” The building eventually closed in 1952 and was demolished when Parks and the Board of Education jointly acquired the land in 1956. In 1987, the Schiff School playground received a $918,623 renovation and was officially named Jacob H. Schiff Playground

Dave At Night

With the story on the Lee family and its connection to PS 42 on Hester Street, I'm posting here some 2006-7 stories related to the school from pseudo-intellectualism
The main character of this book attends PS42 on Hester Street. Here's a portion of the review: "In Dave at Night, Newbery Honor award– winning author Gail Carson Levine brilliantly describes in gritty detail an orphan’s journey from loss to fulfillment. Fans of her previous novel, Ella Enchanted, might be surprised at Gail Carson Levine's departure from the world of fantasy with her realistic new book, Dave at Night. Inspired by Ms. Levine's father's experience in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York, this is the story of eleven-year-old Dave Caros.The year is 1926. Dave’s beloved father is dead, and his stepmother doesn’t want him. Only the HHB will take him in. Hebrew Home for Boys. Hell Hole for Brats. Dave is tough, a troublemaker. He can take care of himself. If he doesn’t like the Home, he’ll run away and find a better place. Only it’s not that simple. . . .This stunning new novel by Newbery Honor award–winning author Gail Carson Levine takes Dave from the poverty of the Lower East Side of New York City to the misery of the Hebrew Home for Boys to the hope and magic of Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. It tells a tale of terrible loss and hard-won gains, of cruel relations and kind strangers, of great poverty and great wealth. Most of all, though, it tells a tale about the power of friendship." Here's the first few chapters as a slide show. I'm on my way to whole book. What's great about this book is that it has an audio version. Here's a segment as an mp3.

Unce Hy and PS 42

With the story on the Lee family and its connection to PS 42 on Hester Street, I'm posting here some 2006-7 stories related to the school from pseudo-intellectualism
I mentioned on 1/13/06, about a month before his passing, that my Uncle Hy attended PS 42. Many Sephardim, such as the tenement Museum Confinos also did. Here's an excerpt from a recent rememberance piece from the "Hy Genee, the spiritual leader and president of Kehila Kedosha Janina, the Romaniote synagogue in New York City, passed away on February 13, 2006 at the age of 83 leaving the 100 year old congregation in tears. Kehila Kedosha Janina was founded by Greek Jewish immigrants in 1907, and named after the city of Janina (Ioannina), from where they came. The dignified old synagogue built in 1927 at 280 Broome Street remains, it is the only Romaniote synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. In addition, it stands as one of the last old synagogues on the Lower East Side of New York City, still in operation.Although it is often called Sephardic, the congregation that Hy led for many decades was made up of Romaniote Jews. These are neither Ashkenazic nor Sephardic Jews; they are Jews with their origins in ancient Greece, arriving there after the destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash (Temple) in Jerusalem. They have their own nusah (rite), an orthodox tradition similar but different than the Sephardic tradition. Similarities between the Romaniote and Sephardim indeed exist, because both groups spent hundreds of years together while Greece was under Ottoman Turkish rule. Yet, the Greeks are proud, and rightly so, of their unique traditions." I hope my Uncle can forgive me for being such a lapsed Jew, Actually, in his generosity of spirit he always did. Here's the full article

The Benjamin Altman School: PS42

With the story on the Lee family and its connection to PS 42 on Hester Street, I'm posting here some 2006 stories related to the school from pseudo-intellectualism
Anyone who actually reads any of this blog knows the high cynic factor (not to be confused with the O'Reilly Factor), so here's a refreshing change of pace about a wonderful school: "Kids learn at impressive rates here. Test scores have so improved that PS 42 is on the state's list of most improved schools and the chancellor's list of 209 schools exempted from having to install a new standardized curriculum. At the same time, Principal Rosa O'Day insists that staffers "take teaching and learning very seriously, but not at the expense of humanity." During our visit to the school, we were glad to see teachers get excited over children's fluffy renderings of baby chicks or comment knowledgeably about students' home lives and work. The warmth apparently starts at the top. When O'Day entered a first grade classroom during our visit, children eagerly swarmed around her to show off a project they were working on -- creating tiny folded slips that opened to reveal drawings of the people they wanted to be when they grow up. Despite coping with a cold, O'Day listened patiently as each student -- including those struggling with English -- described his or her aspirations. One boy hopes to be mayor one day. In another first grade class, we saw three teachers and a staff developer taking notes on the math lesson being presented. These teachers were using the "Japanese lesson study" method, in which they jointly draw up lesson plans and then observe their strengths and flaws. The point is to figure out what works and what doesn't in teaching their kids. In a 3rd grade class, some students read on their own, others read aloud with the teacher, and the rest wrote responses to their books -. Fifth graders publishing a class newspaper were researching story topics of their choice in order to draft articles. An English-as-a-second-language class wrote letters to Mayor Bloomberg protesting the closing of a neighborhood firehouse that the kids had visited earlier in the year. The arts propel literacy. The parent community stands behind PS. 42's belief that the arts serve as a wonderful vehicle for developing literacy, self-esteem, cultural and cross-cultural appreciation. "My personal goal," Rosa said, "is to educate the whole child. Children don't know what they're good at or what they like until they're exposed to a lot of different things." The print-rich environment of PS. 42 exposes students to new ideas with every turn in the five-story building's hallways. Here, as at every great school we've visited, student artwork springs to life; vibrantly colored walls and enormously high ceilings showcase projects; and children's books wallpaper every available surface - at heights advantageous for both kindergartners and fifth graders, of course. Teachers skillfully take advantage of the rich opportunities that lie just beyond the school's walls, too. As residents of one of the most culturally diverse cities, students only need to walk a few feet to be in another world. Around the corner from the school, for example, the Eldridge Street Synagogue stands as a reminder of the neighborhood's Jewish roots. Second graders explored the synagogue this year and sketched its elaborate exterior. Two years ago a week before the school year was to begin I walked into this school's office and shared with Rosa Casiello O'Day the excitement of my Al Schacht story and she actually didn't think I was nuts.  She even called down her 5th grade teachers to listen. I was invited back to come look for any record cards in the basement that might belong to Al and his teammate Robert Berman. I never did, but... anyway here's a PS42 slide show.

Brigadier General Theodore Bingham, NYC Police Commissioner

Bingham Obituary
The above is Bingham's obituary.
Bingham is mentioned in the previous post on the McKinley assassination and the 1906 story on 106 Forsyth Street
from the digital history project
Brigadier General Theodore A Bingham Police Commissioner of New York
In the great capitals of Europe, the heads of the police are always men of first-rate character, accomplishments, and training, and they rank with high officers in the regular army. In our own country, too often, men of a very different type have been selected for these responsible positions, and from this fact there have resulted some of the great scandals of our municipal politics.
When Mayor McClellan placed him at the head of the New York police system, the wisdom of the appointment was questioned by politicians of the old school. "He'lI not last long," they. said. But General Bingham has lasted. He has brought to his task the effi­ciency of a trained soldier and organizer. His personal forcefulness and his cogent argu­ments induced the Legislature to increase his powers. Today he is going on with tireless energy to correct certain defects in the morale of the metropolitan police - defects present­ing problems which many earnest reformers have despaired of solving.
Alfred Bingham, who is the commander-in-chief of New York's ten thousand stalwart guardians of the peace. A graduate of Yale and of West Point, he served in the regular army as a major of engineers, and was United States military attache at Berlin and Rome. Later he was the personal aide of President McKinley, and was promoted to the command of a brigade by President Roosevelt in 1904, retiring on the day following his promotion.

106 Forsyth Street: 1906, The Progressive Lyceum Hall, McKinley Assasination and Leon Czolgosz

About the McKinley Assassination, by Scott Miller, from Sept. 6, 2011
On a sweltering afternoon 110 years ago today, President William McKinley stood in a receiving line at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. Shortly after 4:00, a slightly built man in his mid-20s stepped forward as if to greet the affable and popular president, but instead withdrew from his pocket a .32 caliber revolver wrapped in a white handkerchief. Before McKinley or any of his security men realized what was happening, the man, Leon Czolgosz, fired two shots point blank into the president's torso. McKinley died eight days later.
Czolgosz, a staggered American public would soon learn, subscribed to theories of anarchism. Almost forgotten today, anarchists were at the turn of the century a widely known and feared group, determined to destroy the power of the rich and improve lives of the working class. Already Americans had read of numerous attacks in Europe and in the United States where a small but ruthless minority of anarchists practiced a violent strategy they called Propaganda of the Deed. Today, we would call their tactics terrorism.
It's worth noting on the anniversary of McKinley's death, and five days before another tragic anniversary, that America has long faced radicals who employ violence and murder and that such attacks have much in common, whether aimed at American involvement in the Middle East, or the power of big business.
Read the literature of radical anarchists in the 1880s and 1890s, and time and again the same justification for violence is put forward: The authorities -- the police, the courts, the government -- had been the first to employ violence and murder, through the courts and the execution chamber. By replying with bombings and attacks of their own, radical anarchists felt like they were only repaying in kind. Such was the case, for example, when Italian-American Gaetano Bresci traveled to Italy from New Jersey to murder King Umberto I because, in the view of American anarchists, he ruthlessly oppressed his people.
Likewise, anarchists of the 1880s and '90s were every bit as willing to lay down their lives for their cause as are modern terrorists. In France in the 1890s, one social radical after another set off bombs or attacked public figures, knowing that he would be caught and sent to the guillotines. In 1887, an American anarchist by the name of Albert Parsons was sentenced to death for the murder of a Chicago policeman, even though he was not at the scene of the attack. He could have escaped the hangman's noose if he had simply made a written request to the governor of Illinois for a pardon. Maintaining his innocence, he refused. Parsons and three others went to their deaths as unrepentant anarchists.
Finally, regardless of the century, terrorism begets terrorism. Then, as now, each attack only seemed to inspire another. Alexander Berkman, who attempted to murder steel magnate Henry Clay Frick in 1892, hoped to punctuate his attack by committing suicide just as another anarchist had done in a Chicago jail cell. Both his attack and his suicide attempt failed and he served a lengthy prison sentence. McKinley's assassin, similarly inspired, carried a newspaper clipping of Bresci's attack in Italy to his final days.
In the end, of course, anarchists failed to achieve their goals. Rather than engendering sympathy for the cause, these terrorist attacks only hardened the public against them and led to new laws to stomp out anarchism altogether.
McKinley's shooting over a century ago is a reminder that terrorism is neither the product of a particular religion nor place in the world. Terrorism rather should be seen in a historical context. The decades show us that extremists can convince themselves that violence is perfectly justifiable and that suicide is a price worth paying to achieve their beliefs.
Scott Miller's book, The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century, was published in June by Random House.
a podcast on the subject with Scott Miller

Joseph J. Ettor

Joseph James "Smiling Joe" Ettor (1886–1948) was an Italian-American trade union organizer who, in the middle-1910s, was one of the leading public faces of the Industrial Workers of the World. Ettor is best remembered as a defendant in a controversial trial related to a killing in the seminal Lawrence textile strike of 1912, in which he was acquitted of charges of having been an accessory.
Joseph James Ettor, known to his friends as "Joe" or "Smiling Joe," was born on October 6, 1885 in New York City, the son of a laborer who had emigrated to America from Italy. Ettor went to work at the age of 12 selling newspapers. He later worked as a waterboy on a railroad, as a saw-filer in a lumber mill, as a barrel-maker, as a shipyard worker, and in a cigar factory. Joe Ettor went to work for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in 1906 as an organizer, continuing in that capacity for the next decade.An outstanding and inspirational public speaker who was fluent in Italian and English, Ettor's earliest organizing work on behalf of the IWW took place in the Western United States, where he had worked unionizing miners and migrant laborers. He also had cut his teeth organizing foreign-born workers in the steel mills and shoe factories of the East. Ettor was active in the 1907 lumber strike in Portland, Oregon, the 1909 McKees Rocks Strike and another lesser-known steel strike later that year in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a strike of Pennsylvania coal miners in 1909-10, and a Brooklyn shoe factory strike in 1910-11.
Employers feared "Ettorism". This 1913 anti-union cartoon from The American Employer depicts an IWW organizing drive as "a volcano of hate stirred into active eruption at Akron, by alien hands, which pour into the crater the disturbing acids and alkalis of greed, class hatred and anarchy. From the mouth of the pit rise poisonous clouds of suspicion, malice and envy to pollute the air, while from the cracked and breaking sides of the groaning mountain flow streams of lava of murder, anarchy and destruction, threatening to engulf in their path the fair cities and fertile farms of Ohio."
In 1908, Ettor was named to the governing General Executive Board of the IWW, remaining in that capacity until 1914.
On January 1, 1912, in accordance with a new state law, the textile mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts posted new rules limiting the hours of workers to 54 a week, down from a standard of 56 previously in effect. It soon became clear that the employers had no intention of adjusting wage rates upwards to compensate for the lost work time, and a strike ensued.
On January 12, 1912, the Italian-language branch of IWW Local 20 decided to send to New York City for Joe Ettor, the organization's top Italian-language leader, to come to Lawrence and lead the strike. Ettor arrived with Arturo Giovannitti, secretary of the Italian Socialist Federation, a language federation of the Socialist Party of America and editor of the socialist newspaper Il Proletario [The Proletarian], who was not himself at the time a member of the IWW. Ettor instantly called on all his skills, including his ability to speak five languages, to rally the strikers. On his first afternoon in Lawrence, he addressed thousands of strikers, fostering solidarity and discouraging violence. "All the blood that is spilled in a strike is your blood," he told strikers.  Denouncing the mill owners, sympathizing with the toil of textile workers, Ettor called for an even larger walkout. "Monday morning you have got to close the mills that you have caused to shut down, tighter than you have them now." Ettor then set up fourteen strike committees based on nationality, and began meeting daily with everyone from the mayor of Lawrence to the various strikers in committee. Mill owners instantly recognized Ettor's power and tried to discredit him by planting dynamite in a store where he picked up his mail. But the plot was quickly detected and Ettor continued organizing the strike.
During the walkout, which came to be known as the Bread and Roses Strike, IWW striker Anna LoPizzo was shot and killed. Joseph Caruso was charged with the murder and Ettor and Giovannitti, both of whom were giving speechs several miles away from the crime scene, were arrested as accomplices. The three were eventually acquitted.
Ettor was one of the leaders of the waiters strike of 1912 in New York City, and the Brooklyn barbers strike of 1913.
The question of violence was a perennial matter of discussion and debate within the IWW. Some, like Giovannitti, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and Vincent St. John, took the position that while the union did not favor violence, it would not shy away from its use if necessary to accomplish the social revolution.[6] Ettor, on the other hand, shared the orientation of "Big Bill" Haywood that the only kind of force to which the organization could lend its name was the use of the general strike for the overthrow of capitalism.
Ettor became a member of the executive council of the IWW. In 1916, he left the IWW along with Flynn after a dispute over the Mesabi range strike.
In later years, Ettor ran a fruit orchard in San Clemente, California, where he died in 1948.

106 Forsyth Street: 1913, Joseph Ettor and the Barber Strike


The Lee Family Of Forsyth Street, Part 2

Untitled from david bellel on Vimeo.

The original article from the nytimes
Another excerpt:
Below, an oral history of the Lee family of Forsyth Street. (Interviews have been edited and condensed.)
The Traffic Cop
With a blond streak in her black hair, multiple ear piercings and the word “Grace” tattooed on her neck, May is the loudest in the family and often the center of attention.
She met Ben, her husband, who is from a large Cuban-Chinese immigrant family, at their evangelical church when they were teenagers. They had three boys — Noah, 17, Jonah, 15, and Elijah, 10 — and decided to adopt a girl. When they brought Mebrat home, in 2007, they thought she was 3, but it turned out she was a malnourished 6. Ben, 47, is one of the least-talkative members of the household. A Federal Express driver, he is out of the house from 7 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., leaving May to be the disciplinarian and organizer.
May dropped out of law school after Jonah was born early and doctors told her his weak lungs made him susceptible to sudden infant death syndrome. She later went back to school to add an administrator’s certificate to her master’s in education.
As assistant principal at P.S. 42, which she, Warren and Ben all attended a generation ago, May spends her days squelching arguments and solving problems (and peeking in on Mebrat, who is in fourth grade there). At home, her role is similar.
“I can’t stay on top of anything anymore. I just give this image that I’m organized, but I’m so unorganized. As long as I can get up and brush my teeth and get out of the house on time, I’m very happy. Today, this morning, I brushed my teeth with my face wash. Ben thought it was the funniest thing.
“We have a lot of stresses, but with some things, being with three separate households, you sort of have to let it roll. Let’s say if I’m a little upset about something, I’ll wait it out and think about it and is it worth it to mention.
“I mean we sort of chose to live this way, so Warren and I, we know we have to compromise. I think if we were all in our 20s and starting out, it would be rough. We’re much older. We waited a bit to have kids. I think that’s a big help.
“We have our arguments, and it gets pretty loud.
“Jen will pretty much go along with whatever Warren decides. He more calls the shots.
“I call the shots because Ben couldn’t care less. He totally leaves it up to me.
“That’s why this works out, because Jen and Ben are very easygoing. A lot of things don’t faze them.
“Our biggest issue was my boys. They would use the fourth floor and leave it a mess. And it got to the point where, you know, I was really mad with my boys. But I was also a little upset because I’m, like, you know, ‘You don’t have teenagers. Wait till you have teenagers.’ So I sort of nipped it in the bud, I said, ‘You can’t use it until you prove to me you’re responsible to take care of upstairs.’
“My boys are just as happy in the back. And I can ignore the noise as long as they’re not running and thumping. I keep telling them they have to be respectful because Gung Gung’s downstairs.”......

The Lee Family Of Forsyth Street

Lee Family Forsyth
Below,  an excerpt from the excellent accompanying nytimes' article
Three Generations Under One Roof
SEVEN o’clock on a Thursday morning: time for bao, Chinese breakfast buns. Dressed for school in striped leggings and a pink shirt, Mebrat Yong, 9, waited for the baby sitter to arrive at her family’s building in Chinatown with a red shopping bag filled with the steaming treats from her uncle’s bakery a few blocks away. Mebrat was dividing up this day’s buns.
She slipped a plain bun into her Hello Kitty backpack, then set aside another for Gung Gung, as she and her siblings call their 86-year-old grandfather, who speaks only Cantonese and occupies the first floor. She took a half-dozen — one coconut, two plain, one roast pork, one bacon and scallion, one cookie — up to the third floor for her aunt and three cousins, who washed them down with fruit shakes.
Then Mebrat returned to the second floor, where she lives with her parents and three older brothers, handing out buns amid reminders from Mom to the children to tidy the bathroom and take homework to school. The second-floor kitchen is the heart of the building, so Mebrat set a plate of buns in the middle of the long, dark wood table, where they would remain all day for snacking.
Such is breakfast at the Lees, where three generations live together in a household at once retro and revolutionary. Gung Gung and his children, May Wong Lee and Warren Lee, bought the building for about $700,000 a dozen years ago from a Jewish family that had owned it for generations. An addition brought it to 10,000 square feet, with room for each branch of the Lee family to have its own space.
The family rents out the basement to a Mexican restaurant, and the fourth floor is a free-for-all, where the children play, everyone entertains and Warren, who runs the bakery and cooks dinner daily for the adults, tends a roof garden of herbs and vegetables. The brother and sister and their spouses, Jennifer Lee and Benito Yong, split the mortgage and the bills for food and building repairs.
The percentage of households in the United States containing three or more generations has nearly tripled over the past 30 years, to 7 percent in 2009 from 2.4 percent in 1980, according to Census Bureau reports. The living arrangement is even more common, and growing more rapidly, in New York City, where immigrant values and expensive real estate have combined to make 10 percent of households span at least three generations. And there are untold others like the Lees, who file separate census reports but live under one roof, sharing chores, parenting and, in their case, caring for the patriarch — whose real name is Kuey Wing Lee — all of which, at times, can lead to conflict........

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Samuel Dickstein: Lower East Side Congressmen

Dickstein lived much of his adult life at 304 East Broadway. The building is no longer there. It was located where PS 134 is now, near the intersection of East Broadway with Grand. In 1900 Dickstein was living at 22 Suffolk Street.
About Dickstein, including the startling info that he was a paid NKVD (Soviet) agent!
Samuel Dickstein (February 5, 1885 – April 22, 1954) was a Democratic Congressional Representative from New York and a New York State Supreme Court Justice. He played a key role in establishing the committee that would become the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which he used to attack fascists, including Nazi sympathizers, and suspected communists. Soviet files indicate he was paid by the NKVD. Dickstein was born into a Jewish family living near Vilnius in present-day Lithuania. He emigrated to the United States in 1887 with his parents, who settled in New York City. There he attended public and private schools in New York City, the College of the City of New York, and graduated from the New York City Law School in 1906. He was admitted to the bar in 1908 and commenced law practice in New York City. He served as special deputy attorney general of the State of New York from 1911–1914, member of the board of aldermen in 1917, member of the State Assembly 1919–1922. He served as a member of the Democratic County Committee and was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-eighth Congress and was reelected eleven times. He resigned from Congress on December 30, 1945. He served as Chairman on the Committee on Immigration and Naturalization (Seventy-second through Seventy-ninth Congresses). During his tenure as Chairman of the Committee on Naturalization and Immigration, Dickstein became aware of the substantial number of foreigners legally and illegally entering and residing in the US, and the growing Anti-Semitism along with vast amounts of anti-Semitic literature being distributed in the country. This led him to investigate independently the activities of Nazi and other fascist groups in the U.S. This investigation proved to be of such significance that on January 3, 1934, the opening day of the second session of the 73rd Congress, Dickstein introduced a resolution calling for the formation of a special committee to probe un-American activities in the United States. The "Dickstein Resolution" (H.R. #198) was passed in March 1934, with John William McCormack named Chairman and Samuel Dickstein Vice-Chairman. Dickstein had refused the chairmanship of the Committee, feeling that his Jewish ancestry might have an adverse effect on the proceedings. Throughout the rest of 1934, the Special Committee on Un-American Activities conducted hearings, bringing before it most of the major figures in the U.S. fascist movement. Dickstein, who proclaimed as his aim the eradication of all traces of Nazism in the U.S.[2], personally questioned each witness. His flair for dramatics and sensationalism, along with his sometimes exaggerated claims, continually captured headlines across the nation and won him much public recognition. He was instrumental in establishing the temporary Select Committee on Un-American Activities (the 'Dies Committee') with Martin Dies, Jr. as chairman, in 1938 to investigate fascist and Communist groups in the United States. Later the same committee was renamed the House Committee on Un-American Activities when it shifted attention to Communist organizations and was made a standing committee in 1945. Following the 1938 Anschluss, Dickstein attempted to introduce legislation that would allow unused refugee quotas to be allocated to those fleeing Hitler. Dickstein later served as a Justice on the New York State Supreme Court until his death in New York City.

June 22, 1931: The Opening Of The Bialystoker Home

Bialystoker Opens

Protesting The Closing Of The Bialystoker Home

an excerpt from a recent nytimes' article
Closing a Nursing Home, and a Chapter of New York History By JOSEPH BERGER Her 98-year-old father lies under white sheets, frail and incoherent, attached to a feeding tube and a catheter. But Rose Lauria visits him nearly every day, taking a 10-minute bus ride to the historic block where the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation has towered over the Lower East Side’s tenements for 80 years, then greeting her father with a “Hey, cutie pie!” “Every day is precious,” she said. “I love him and I want to see he’s cared for properly.” But she is worried about the future quality of that care because in recent months, she has watched the three other beds in his room lose their occupants, and her father, Thomas Lauria, may soon be required to surrender his bed. The Bialystoker home, plagued by deep debt and what it regards as inadequate Medicaid reimbursements, is closing. It was opened in 1929 as a nursing home and communal center by Jewish immigrants from Bialystok — the Polish city that lent its name to the bialy and the conniving impresario of Mel Brooks’s “The Producers.” In authorizing the closing, the state’s Department of Health has ordered the home, which is scheduled to shut in late October, to find new beds for all 95 residents. Meanwhile, its 10-story building at 228 East Broadway is on the market for an asking price of more than $10 million. Ms. Lauria is upset, and not only because she will have a far longer commute from her East Village home to visit her father at his probable next stop, a nursing home in Brooklyn that has space for him. Her bigger worry is that her father, who has been at Bialystoker for 12 years and suffers from dementia and an ulcerated esophagus, will not acclimate himself to unfamiliar rooms and faces. “These people live here,” Ms. Lauria said. “They get used to the workers, the atmosphere. It becomes like their family. There’s no place like home, but this place is pretty good.” Many people in the neighborhood are upset as well, because Bialystoker is one of the last major Jewish institutions still standing there. The 10-story building on the other side of East Broadway that long housed The Forward, a Yiddish newspaper, is now a condominium apartment building. Some neighborhood residents are seeking landmark status for the tan brick, Art Deco Bialystoker building, an application that the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has begun evaluating. The home also houses a synagogue on its second floor, where daily services are held, and it, too, will close, another loss in a revitalized neighborhood that once had 500 synagogues but is now down to about a dozen. The other day inside the synagogue, a solitary, white-bearded Hasid, Yesocher Wieder, 60, swayed over a page of the rabbinical commentary called Gemara, then rose and blew a shofar, a ram’s horn. The home’s board has been accused by some critics of mismanagement, for accumulating a debt of over $8.5 million and losses of $100,000 monthly. William Quintana, the Bialystoker home’s director of recreation, accused the board and its chairman, Ira M. Meister, of conduct that was “unethical and a conflict of interest” for the sale last year of an adjoining two-story medical building to the chairman. Mr. Meister said in an interview that the board had no choice because it needed the roughly $1.5 million netted from the sale to pay the nursing home’s mounting bills, and a sale to his real estate firm — he is president of a firm, Matthew Adam Properties, that manages 100 co-op and condo buildings — made for a speedy transfer. He has leased that adjoining building to the Educational Alliance, a venerable cross between a Y.M.C.A. and a social services institution that taught generations of immigrants how to become good Americans. But Mr. Meister plans within two years to move his management business, now on East 59th Street, to the East Broadway building.
a previous 2008 post on the building of the bialystoker home another 2008 post on Bialystoker history

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Al Davis: A 4th Warder In His Heart?

But he was a Brooklyn boy instead. He was living in Crown Heights in 1942. His dad Louis operated Little Dutchess Undergarment Factory on Johnson Street in Brooklyn at that time.
Allen "Al" Davis, the man who is synonymous with the Oakland Raiders franchise of the National Football League and its earlier American Football League incarnation, was born on the Fourth of July, 1929 into a Jewish family in Brockton, Massachusetts. Raised in Brooklyn and educated at the borough's Erasmus High School, he played football at Syracuse University, but was cut from the varsity team.

Monday, October 3, 2011

RIP Arnold Wenig

Sad news as we hear of Arnold's passing. KV's "greatest generation" dwindles down to a precious few. from Sarah this past weekend:
I'm sorry to send word of my father's passing this morning. He had an easy time, which he surely deserved. Arnold Wenig was a very good friend to have. Without question he befriended many in whom he saw were at a loss for a good friend; he invested a great deal in people who were long shots. It was me and him for the past eight years or so and we fought the good fight side by side. I am sorry for some of the times that I didn't take his advise, and very grateful for the advice about life that I did take. He told me two things that are very important for a daughter to hear. He said, "Sarah, never forget! You live in the big house.” and he told me, "Just remember, if you are going through a very bad time that things change. They always change at some point for the better. So never, ever give up." These movies made him cry: Pride of the Yankees, Captain Courageous and Boys Town. He was a pretty good dancer, too. While my father was with me in Boston we would get on the bus and go downtown, to the neighborhood stores, to see President Obama when he came to town and a Boston Pops concert on the Boston Common. He really liked Boston. However, just to let everybody know he was a NYer, upon learning of the Red Sox/Yankee rivalry when he got here - he switched teams from the Mets to the Yankees and used that to chat people up when he was out and about. He thought Boston fans were totally nuts. Never saw anything like it. They even had Red Sox caps printed in Hebrew at the Judaica stores in Brookline. After Whitey Bulger was arrested, he switched the script. I often took him down to Castle Island in South Boston. Whitey went there (Southie's version of the Brighton Beach Boardwalk) for the walking and to have conversations that couldn't be listened in on by the State Police - he had the FBI in his pocket, they weren't the problem. People you run into on Castle Island might very likely have known somebody whacked by Whitey or a kid that he got started on drugs. Nevertheless, my father would wheel himself over to somebody at Sullivan's snack stand and start the conversation with, "Tell me d'ya really think Whitey can get a fair trial here?" Most caught on because Southie people are a lot like people from the Lower East Side and Williamsburg in Brooklyn where my father grew up. When my Dad was lucky, the person my father had engaged would adjust their Red Sox caps and with a twinkle in their Irish blue eyes, reply, "Fair Enough." When things didn't go as my father planned, I'd roll my eyes and mouth the word 'Demented' and get Dad out of the line of fire, leaving the humorless son of a gun behind as fast as I could.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

People's Group Lobby To End Discrimination At KV, 1950

The KV Gas Explosion Of 1939

This explosion was mentioned before in 2007 It occurred on the 9th floor of 12 Monroe Street

A 1940 KV Wedding

All the way from Gloversville to the 4th Ward, including stops at Harvard Law. Shows how KV was a very desirable address n those days. Included above is a 1940 ad and views of Gloversville. I checked the 1946 phone book, they're not there. The couple probably left for greener pastures by then. The news portion of the above article is from an excellent ny state newspaper source About Gloversville:
Gloversville is a city in Fulton County, New York, that was once the hub of America's glovemaking industry with over two hundred manufacturers in Gloversville and Johnstown. In 2000, Gloversville had a population of 15,413. Ten years later, the population had increased to 15,665. The region, known as "Kingsborough" was acquired by Sir William Johnson. In 1752, Arent Stevens bought land. Puritans from New England settled there at the end of the 18th century. The proximity of forests to supply bark for tanning made the community a center of leather production early in its history. It earned its name for being the center of the American glove making industry for many years. Upon the establishment of a United States Post Office in 1828, Gloversville became the official name of the community.In 1890-1950, 90 percent of all gloves sold in the United States were made in Gloversville. Large tanneries and glove shops employed nearly 80% of the residents of Gloversville and environs. Home workers sewed the gloves from leather that had been cut in factories. Related businesses, such as box makers, sewing machine repairmen, and thread dealers opened to serve the industry. In 1853, Gloversville incorporated as a village. In 1890, it incorporated as a city. Until 1936, Gloversville had a very active electric interurban line, the Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville. It ran from Gloversville, through Johnstown, along the Mohawk River to Amsterdam, then to Scotia, then across the Mohawk River, and into downtown Schenectady to the New York Central station. In 1932 in a bold move during the Great Depression it acquired unique Bullet cars in an attempt to revive business. Passenger service ended in 1936, but freight operation continued. Gloversville was the main headquarters for the Schine movie industry. The Glove Theatre was the Schines' favorite movie house. Hollywood movies sometimes premiered in Gloversville before they opened in California. The decline of the glove industry left the city financially depressed, with many downtown storefronts abandoned and store windows covered with plywood. Many of the houses were abandoned when people moved out of town to find jobs elsewhere.
Note the reference to the Schine movie industry. More on this

Lamula Opposes Santangelo, 1951

He supported KVer Pat Picariello instead. I'm sure Lamula's claim of Santangelo's residency is true. It would be highly unlikely that a Judge would be residing at 9 Monroe in 1951. In 1946 Santangelo has 55 Oak Street as his address. That address would be eliminated by the construction of the Smith Projects.

Robert Santangelo, 1938

1951: Mayor Impelliteri Swears In Robert Santangelo Of 9 Monroe Street

santangelo-1951 9 Monroe Street was the site of Kremo's, Judge Lupiano, a former KVer is mentioned in the article as well. Justice Santangelo was a 4th Warder and politician of merit. From his 1984 obituary
ROBERT SANTANGELO, EX-JUDGE ON THE STATE SUPREME COURT By JOAN COOK Robert V. Santangelo, a former State Supreme Court justice and the prosecutor in the Seabury corruption investigations in New York City in the 1930's, died Wednesday at United Hospital in Port Chester, N.Y. He was 87 years old and lived in Rye, N.Y., and Highland Beach, Fla. Justice Santangelo was a jurist for more than 30 years. He was first appointed to Magistrate's Court, in 1934. Later he was elected judge of the First District Municipal Court in Manhattan in 1951 after he was appointed to fill an unexpired term. He held the post for 20 years, then served in Civil Court for 10 years. He spent his last five years as a jurist in State Supreme Court, retiring in 1967. He was an assistant district attorney in Manhattan from 1924 to 1933. But he was perhaps best known for his role in the Seabury investigations in 1931 and 1932. The inquiries led to the defeat of Tammany Hall and the election of Fiorello H. La Guardia as Mayor in 1933. Justice Santangelo had been a partner in the law firm of La Guardia, Sapinsky before joining the District Attorney's office, and remained a personal friend of Mr. La Guardia's throughout his life. He was a graduate of the College of the City of New York and Columbia Law School. He is survived by his wife, the former Juliette Petronio; two sons, Francis, of Harrison, N.Y., and Robert Jr., of Rye, N.Y.; a brother, Dr. George Santangelo of Harrison; four sisters, Jean Fabri of Manhattan, Louise Pizzutello of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Vera Melarano of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Eleanor Roosevelt of Staten Island; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A funeral service will be held today at 10:30 A.M. at Corpus Christi Church, Port Chester, N.Y.
His son Robert has this web site

17 Monroe Street, 1912

Fred French's Gvt Bailout

He acquired much of the property in the neighborhood before the crash of 1929.

81 Catherine Street History

I would imagine the sale of 81 Catherine was to interests representing Fred French in anticipation of building of Knickerbocker Village.