Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Loew's Commodore

Fillmore Commodore
The Loew's Commodore became the Loew's Fillmore
from Cinema Treasures
Loew's Commodore Theater in 1968
New York, NY
105 Second Avenue
When it opened in 1926, the Commodore was the largest of the 10 movie theatres in operation on Second Avenue between Houston and 9th Street.
Screens: Single Screen
Style: Adam
Seats: 2830
Architect: Harrison G. Wiseman
Originally opened in 1926 as the independently operated Commodore Theater, this movie house/Yiddish theater was taken over by Loew's Inc. and later became known as the Village Theater. It can credit Lenny Bruce as appearing on its stage.
In March 1968 it became the Fillmore East concert venue. Over the years, innumerable bands played here including Santana and Chicago. After decades of success, the Fillmore finally closed.
In the fall of 1980, it was converted into what was to become New York City's best and most celebrated gay disco 'The Saint', which became famous world-wide. This continued until May 2, 1988 when the doors closed following a non-stop 48 hours party. The building was used spasmodically for a couple of years for live events, then stood empty for a few years until the auditorium was demolished in around 1996.
Today the narrow facade remains and the lobby is now remodeled as an Emigrant Savings Bank. Apartments/condos called Hudson East were constructed on the site of the auditorium. In the lobby of the bank are pictures of the Fillmore, Village Theater and Loews Commodore Theatre as well as some posters from the Fillmore days.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Jefferson Theater

Jefferson Theater
the first photo is a segment of a larger one from shorpy
from cinema treasures
RKO Jefferson Theatre
214 E. 14th Street
Status: Closed/Demolished
Screens: Single Screen
Seats: 1916
Architect: George Keister, Thomas W. Lamb
The old Jefferson Theatre opened in 1913 as a B.F. Keith's vaudeville theater in what is now known as the edge of the East Village. Later the RKO Jefferson, this theater was located at 214 E. 14th Street near Third Avenue. The entrance was a narrow space between two tenement houses with the bulk of the theatre (auditorium) located in 13th Street. The Jefferson operated at least into the 1970's and was demolished in 2000. Today, the site is filled with bricks and debris from the demolition and the old Jefferson as passed on.
Also known as B.F. Keith's Jefferson Theatre
Last owner was a relative of the owner of the Wetson hamburger chain. He was almost singlehandedly trying to restore it with only one helper. A visit to the upstairs proved he was wasting his time as vandals had removed all the plumbing by that time & the inside of the theater was in shambles. He quickly found this out and gave up on this vanity project
posted by WilliamMcQuade on Mar 20, 2002 at 8:39am
The East 13th Street portion (or rear of this theatre's building) can be seen in Taxi Driver. The action with Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster and Harvey Kietel all take place around the corner from The Jefferson.
posted by Greenpoint on Feb 8, 2004 at 3:38pm
The Jefferson was another Adam design by Thomas W. Lamb, and was built by B.S. Moss and Sol Brill. It first opened on January 25, 1913 with Keith's vaudeville. During the heyday of vaudeville, the Jefferson was one of the top NYC houses. New acts that registered well with the audience were assured of getting a booking at the Palace on Broadway, which was the ultimate reward for an entertainer in those days. Through its Keith's affiliation, the Jefferson became an RKO movie theatre, but retained vaudeville on the programs until well into the 1930s.
posted by Warren G. Harris on Mar 22, 2004 at 1:32pm
George Keister was the Jefferson's architect. Thomas Lamb did only some minor alterations in the 1930s. The Jefferson was built by the Irvington Construction Company, and took nine months to complete. The original seating plan showed 1,885 seats-- 1,124 in the orchestra, 689 in the balcony, and 72 in boxes...George Keister's other NYC theatres included the Astor, Belasco, George M. Cohan's, Selwyn, Chaloner (later Town), and both versions of the Earl Carroll.
posted by Warren G. Harris on Mar 27, 2004 at 7:47am
The narration above says it was closed by the early 60's but I seem to recall when going to Luchows in the seventies triple kung fu bills playing? Maybe an independant took over when RKO gave it up?
Yes, it was operated by "indies" after RKO left. It would be very difficult to track the exact closing as a movie house because the operators never advertised in the newspapers or sought listings in magazines like New York. When I last had a chance to visit the dingy interior in 1981, the Jefferson was closed and awaiting re-development as a disco/rock palace, but that never happened.

The Roosevelt Theater On Houston Street

Above the Roosevelt/National Theaterfrom NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library
history from cinema treasures
National Theatre & Roosevelt Theatre
111 - 117 E. Houston Street
Seats: 2863
Architect: Thomas W. Lamb
Built as a twin 'piggy-back' theatre , it was planned by Louis Minsky to be called the Unique Theatre and be used for burlesque. However when built (to the designs of noted theatre architect Thomas W. Lamb) it opened on 6th May 1913 as the National Theatre (on the lower level seating 1,900) which was leased to Thomasefsky & Adler for use as a Yiddish theatre. The upper theatre had a seating capacity of 963 and was named the Crown Theatre.
Programming varied from Yiddish stage shows to burlesque and it ran Russian films from 1936 to 1939 when the Crown Theatre was re-named Roosevelt Theatre.
The building was closed in 1941 and was later reopened as two movie theatres known as the National Theatre (seating 1,800) and Roosevelt Theatre (seating 963). These closed in 1951 and lay empty until they were demolished in 1959 for a parking lot.
The 1941 edition of Film Daily Yearbook lists this theatre as the Roosevelt Theatre, Houston Street. The seating capacity given is for 400 and it is listed as 'Closed'
A 1934 NY Times article mentions the Roosevelt Little as another name for the National Theatre (legit). The National was on the SW corner of Houston and Christie which maps now as 273 Bowery, 10002,
The site had been home to a household supply manufacturer from 1871-1911. I believe the theatre was built by Louis Minsky and Max Steuer, open by May 1913, and was known originally as the National (along with the National Winter Garden). In March 1935, it became the combination house known at the New Roosevelt Theatre. Simply the Roosevelt by September 1936, it exhibited Ukrainian, Soviet, Yiddish, and Chinese movies in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The National Winter Garden, located on the sixth floor, seated 299 and was known as the Rooftop Theatre from at least the mid-1940s through the building's closing. The theatre proper was known as the Downtown National from at least 1941-1951.
The theatre was closed when it was purchased by the Transit Authority in 1958.
I believe the lot on which it existed sat empty until the recent construction of the first building in the large Avalon Chrystie Place mixed-use development currently underway on both sides of East Houston. The particular building on the site, the foundation of which had to be built around 4 subway lines underground, will include a new community center and gym jointly operated by the Chinatown YMCA and University Settlement, a 60,000-sq.-ft. Whole Foods supermarket — the chain’s largest in Manhattan — and 361 rental apartments, 80 percent of which will be market rate and 20 percent for low-income tenants.

Posted Bills Ave. C and 6th Street: Then And Now

Below, the theaters advertise are the Roosevelt, Jefferson and Commodore

Harry Scheurman: 96 Attorney Street, pt. 2

In 1930 Harry lived in the same building as the notorious Big Schafie

Harry Scheurman: 96 Attorney Street

Harry's address was 96 Attorney Street, between Delancey and Rivington. The site is now occupied by PS 142.
above from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Henington Hall 2

Hennington History

Henington Hall

I came across this old meeting hall on one of my 11th Ward explorations

When I googled Henington Hall I discovered a great site called papa's diary
Took half day off for "Yizkor"
for my beloved father (olam haba)
Evening at Country mens
synagogue at Henington Hall
for the "Hakufos"
Enjoyed in the midst of
old country men and
school friends.
1 - Hennington Hall, located at 214 Second Street near Avenue B, was a meeting space often used for political gatherings and speeches. I think the "Country men's synagogue" Papa refers to in this entry means Congregation Sniatyner Agudath Achim, which was made up of landsmen (the Yiddish term for people from the same place that literally translates as "country men") from Papa's home town of Sniatyn. I think this congregation normally met at a multi-use facility called Broadway Manor at 209 East Broadway, but I wouldn't be surprised if they moved around a bit. In any event, Papa has never bothered to specify the congregation's location before, so I assume he deliberately mentions Hennington Hall because it wasn't their usual spot.

About Papa's Diary
My grandfather, Harry Scheurman, kept a diary in 1924 when he was twenty-nine years old. He had been in America for 11 years, but much of his family still lived in the central European, Jewish ghetto of his youth. He was a garment worker, union activist and Zionist fundraiser. He was also unmarried and terribly lonely.
I've always found his diary to be fascinating reading, and I've always wanted to share it with people who might find it interesting. So, each day in 2007 (*2008 update below) I'll transcribe and post each day's corresponding entry, and I'll also annotate with contextual details about his life, historical details about the social, political and cultural subjects in circulation that year, and whatever thoughts and feelings his words bring to mind.

An excerpt from an article about Papa's Diary from the nytimes
1924, Through an Ancestor’s Eyes,
by Les Stone
“My father went to bid me farewell on my long journey to America,” the son later wrote. “The train is waiting, a long embrace, a kiss, tears streaming down from his eyes. Did he have a premonition that we would see each other no more? The train is moving out slowly, and by the light of the moon I could see through the window in the distance my father, weeping and wiping his tears.”
That passage comes from Harry Scheurman’s diary, a slim volume in which he wrote nearly every day of 1924, when he was a single 29-year-old garment worker and ardent Zionist living in a Lower East Side tenement. Since last January, in an extraordinary act of meta-journaling, Mr. Scheurman’s grandson, a 40-year-old Web production executive named Matt Unger, has begun transcribing, posting and annotating a page of the diary each day at a blog he has created, called Papa’s Diary Project.
The diary is an intimate record of Mr. Scheurman’s romantic and emotional life, shadowed by deep homesickness. Mr. Scheurman contrasts the “mechanical” Purim celebrations of New York with those of Sniatyn, and chronicles countless nights at home alone with his radio. On May 12, he learns of his father’s death in Sniatyn, an event that leaves him heartbroken.
But the journal also provides a rich glimpse of the minutiae of a New York life in the 1920s. Mr. Scheurman writes of visiting the “2nd Avenue Baths,” of riding the subway from Brooklyn to the Bronx in the middle of the night with “a pretty girl who is unusually gifted with knowledge,” of dickering with a crooked English-school instructor on behalf of his brother-in-law. On New Year’s Eve, he visits “an East Side joint where Prohibition drinks were freely served.”

LES Movie Theaters

East Village Now Then 2
I've been hanging out a lot in the 11th and 17th Ward working on local history project for first and second graders. In putting together some then and now photos it's obvious how much movie theaters were so much a part of our lives back in the 1920's and 30's.

Bessie Love 2

There was a mention of the DVD release of a 1930 movie with Bessie Love and the vaudeville team of Van and Schenck in the nytimes of 1/15/10. That movie played at Loew's Canal. We mentioned it back in April of last year

A Baseball Legend Unmatched

Babe Ruth Comics 2

A Sixth Ward Boxing Legend

Vinnie Ferguson
Among the links from the obituary stories about Joe Rollino there is a mention of a LES boxer named Vinnie Ferguson. His dad Ed was a Tammany pol,
Our KV 6th and 4th Ward boxing expert, Joe Bruno, on Ferguson.
The Vinnie Ferguson they mention was a good friend of mine. He was a pro referee in NY City in the 70's and 80's. We became good friends because we knew the same people from the 4th and 6th Wards. One tough b-----d.

excerpts from Sports Illustrated
Quite A Boy In Madison
In 1951 Vinnie Ferguson and his father set out to win a 1956 Olympic boxing berth. Step No. 1: an NCAA title
Robert H. Boyle
Here are a boxer and his father. Nobody has heard very much about them yet. But everyone will—and soon.
The boy is Vinnie Ferguson, 18 years old, first-team freshman at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. His father, Ed, a peppery, voluble Irishman, is a Tammany Hall politician in New York. Five years ago Ed sat down with his son Vinnie and planned out a campaign to win an Olympic boxing championship in 1956. Vinnie's dad knew what he was talking about: in his younger days he had been an amateur boxer and is a fight manager today (" Carlos Ortiz, outstanding undefeated lightweight prospect from New York's East Side"). The plans were carefully laid, exactingly carried out. The result: until the National Collegiate Athletic Association championships in Madison last week Vinnie Ferguson had won 51 of 51 fights, 25 by knockouts.
Those wins were not easy to come by. Since 1951 Ed has had Vinnie campaigning in the amateur ranks, and Vinnie has responded by winning six amateur titles, among them two international boys' club championships, one in London and one in New York. Furthermore, Vinnie has been just as familiar a sight around Stillman's Gym as Lou Stillman himself. In the Still-man's ring Vinnie has perfected his art by sparring with such fighters as Car-melo Costa, Frankie Ryff, Chico Vejar, Hector Constance, Del Flanagan, Billy Graham, Walt Cartier, Gene Fullmer, Bobby Dykes and Hurricane Jackson. All in all, Vinnie Ferguson has had ample chance to show that he is truly a prodigy of the ring.
The Five-Year Plan is almost fulfilled now. This month Vinnie, a light middleweight, competed in the three-day National Collegiate Athletic Association boxing championships at Madison. An NCAA championship qualifies the winner for a tryout for the U.S. Olympic team, so the goal was in sight. For the occasion, Ed flew out to Madison to help guide his son through to victory.
On Friday morning Vinnie, who had drawn a first-round by the day before, weighed in at 154 pounds (or simply "54," as Vinnie says, just like the Still-man's crowd). After the weighin, Ed took his son back to the Hotel Park for a strategy conference in his room. The talk concerned Gus Fiacco of Syracuse, Friday night's semifinal opponent. Ed had scouted Fiacco the day before.
"Now listen to me," Ed said, stripping his coat off. "We go from fight to fight. I want you to remember that. You've fought this guy before, and you beat him. But from what I hear, you fought his fight!" Vinnie tried to get a word in, but his father cut him off. "Just listen!" Ed cried, assuming a stance. "You're not arguing with me. You're out to beat him! You beat him to the punch. He jiggles," said Ed, jiggling. "He gets inside, then boom! You don't let him get inside. Now you know that when he jiggles from side to side that he's getting ready to go in with a jump." Ed jiggled from side to side.
"You keep your head down in behind that jab," Ed said, as he pushed Vinnie's head down and straightened his left arm out. "You're a boxer. You're a class fighter. Show him that class. Even show him a piece of chin. Sucker him in. Then biff-bop-bam!" Ed cried, thrashing the air. "Two things to remember," he shouted. "You keep this guy busy by going to the right. And no two-punch deal. No boom-boom. But biff-bop-bam. You set him up with the jab, then hit him with the right hand. If he ducks the right hand, then throw the left hook. But don't throw that left hook around. He'll be waiting for it. Box with him."
Vinnie nodded. "Biff-bop-bam," he grunted.
"That's it," Ed said, approving, from the bed. "Keep in action, keep circling and don't expose yourself with that left hook."
The ring announcer gave the decision: the winner of the semifinal bout, Ferguson of the University of Wisconsin. Vinnie remained at ringside with Coach Walsh, and Ed joined them to scout Dick Wall of Oklahoma in the next semifinal. Wall won, and Ed said: "We'll get Mr. Wall tomorrow night."
On Saturday, after a luncheon at the Maple Bluff Country Club—Governor Walter Kohler of Wisconsin, chief speaker (SI, April 23)—Ed took Vinnie back to the hotel for another strategy talk. "Mr. Wall has let the word out: 'I hope he don't press me.' He wants you to press him. But we aren't going to press him. This guy is a boxer, a spot puncher, and he hopes that while he's strong—I watched him tire last night—that you'll come in so he can bop you. Strictly a counter-puncher. Don't underestimate Wall. He knows how to dance. He's been around [Wall was a ChicagoGolden Gloves champion in 1953 and 1955, fighting at 147 pounds]."
Ed assumed a stance. "We'll outsmart him," Ed announced. Vinnie nodded. "Wall's the kind of guy that will fall for feints, if they're properly fed to him," Ed observed, pausing to let the remark sink in. "He'll move with the feint. Now, Wall gets tired in the latter half of the fight. In the first round, we'll feint him and con him. We'll do the same thing halfway in the second. Then we'll open up and go. We'll slug him."
"I'll pop-shot him," said Vinnie, who, as Ed says, is not the kind of kid to hide behind doors when it comes to talking about boxing.
"It's a war," said Ed.
"I gotta get him," said Vinnie seriously.
"I seldom call for a war," said Ed, wagging a finger. "But with him, we gotta war."
After a nap Ed and Vinnie took a cab to the fieldhouse. "Remember the change of strategy," Ed warned before Vinnie left for the dressing room. "And good luck."
The double-decked fieldhouse was beginning to fill up. "We got less to wait tonight. He's fighting in the seventh bout," said Ed, smoking a cigaret beneath the stands. "We've been sweating through 52 fights now. This is it, or no Olympics." The Wisconsin band played a march, and the crowd of 14,000, almost double that of any Madison Square Garden crowd in the last two and a half years, began to warm up for the NCAA finals. Ed paced back and forth beneath the stands. The lights dimmed, and the band played The Star-Spangled Banner, and the crowd actually sang the words. "First time I ever heard that," Ed said with a smile.
After Dick Bartman won the 139-pound championship to clinch the team title for Wisconsin, Ed remarked: "The team pressure's off Vince." When Vinnie came out of the dressing room, Ed wished him luck, then sprinted for his seat. "Well, here's Pa," the man behind him remarked. Ed smiled.
The introductions were made, and Wall came out of his corner with a smile on his face. Vinnie looked serious. Wall waited for Vinnie to lead, but Vinnie didn't. Vinnie lashed out with a left jab, catching Wall on the nose. Wall fired back, but Vinnie slipped away. "Feint, Vin, feint!" Ed shouted, jumping up. "There goes Pa again," the man behind him chuckled. "Feint, Vin, feint. Attaboy! Attaboy!" The crowd roared as Vinnie caught Wall against the ropes. "Don't race him in there. Back out! Back out!" Ed yelled. Wall slipped away from Vinnie, and the bell rang. Vinnie walked back to his corner with his chest out. Ed smiled and turned to the man behind him. "Well," he said, "we got Mr. Wall now."
The second round began, and Vinnie came out, boxing. A minute passed with not much action, then Vinnie broke loose. He put his head down and rushed Wall against the ropes. Wall was taken by surprise. Vinnie landed a right to the jaw, and Wall's knees wobbled. The crowd screamed for the knockout. "This is it. Take him! Take him!" Ed screamed. But Vinnie forgot to follow with the left hook that would have ended the fight. Wall, in desperation, reached up with a right hand and drove Vinnie back away from the ropes. Vinnie landed a left, a right to the chin, a left hook to the body. Wall came back with a right on the headguard that shook Vinnie. Vinnie moved in under the right and banged away to the body. Wall was beginning to tire as the bell ended the round.
The fight was just as savage in the third. Vinnie did the leading, Wall the countering, but Vinnie took most of the exchanges. As the bell rang, both boys were still fighting in the center of the ring. "I think you got it, Pa," the man behind Ed shouted. "I think so too!" Ed shouted back. And they were both right. Vinnie was announced as the winner and NCAA 156-pound champion. Wisconsin supporters grabbed him as he stepped through the ropes and carried him on their shoulders to the dressing room. The band blared On Wisconsin, and Ed ran back to the dressing room with tears in his eyes. After embracing Vinnie, he ran out to phone his wife and daughter in New York. While he was gone, Wall came into the dressing room. He stuck out his hand, still taped, and shook with Vinnie. Both boys smiled. "Dang, boy, but it was a good fight," said Wall. "Thanks," said Vinnie. "Gee, thanks."......

Remembering Joe Rollino

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To

below various pics of Joe Rollino
An excerpt from the nydailynews
A former Coney Island strongman killed by a minivan at the age of 104 was laid to rest Saturday by friends and family who spared no superlative in describing his life.
"Joe Rollino wasn't just a man, he was an irreplaceable fixture of South Brooklyn for over a century," friend Gino Longo, 42, said at St. Bernadette Church in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
"They just don't make men like Joe Rollino anymore. God broke the mold."
Rollino - war veteran, boxer, weightlifter and all-around Brooklyn legend - was crossing Bay Ridge Parkway to buy a newspaper last week when he was struck and killed by a Ford Windstar van.

I tried looking for Joe in the census. I couldn't find him, but I found a World War II
veteran who looked similar, except he would have been 95. Could it be?
Joseph J Rollino
Birth Year: 1915
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: New York
State of Residence: New York
County or City: Kings
Enlistment Date: 9 Apr 1942
Enlistment State: New York
Enlistment City: Fort Jay Governors Island
Branch: Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life
Education: 1 year of high school
Civil Occupation: Athletes, sports instructors, and sports officials
Marital Status: Single, with dependents
Height: 63
Weight: 123

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Old Schools

While looking for information on old lower east side schools I came across this old slide show done in 2003. I took advantage of youtube to do the hosting, since a previous post only allowed for a smaller size

Thursday, January 14, 2010

If You Lived 100 Years Ago

A read along I did for primary graders of the first few pages of an excellent resource for NYC history, "If You Lived 100 Years Ago." It's by Ann Mcgovern with illustrations by Anna Divito. I did it several years ago when the book came out. Now it should be called, If I Lived 110 Years Ago.

The French Connection Updated

I thought I'd used this clip to "place hold" for some stories of how, despite the cooked statistics, the city and the LES can still be a gritty place
an excerpt from the lowdown
The police may very well "know about it," but they clearly have no interest in discussing what's happening on the streets. This past month, during an interview with The Lo-Down, a precinct captain abruptly ended an interview when the subject of gang violence came up. The Village Voice, apparently, got a similar response:
We asked Paul Browne, the NYPD's spokesman, about these perceptions, and also requested crime stats that might show whether youth crime was indeed surging, but he didn't respond to our e-mail.

an excerpt from the villagevoice
In a Crime-Free City, How Does a Young Gangbanger Represent?, By Graham Rayman
You now live in the safest New York City that has existed since the Beatles came to America. Murders are now so rare—at least for a city this size—that you have to go back to the Kennedy administration to find similar numbers. Just ask Mayor Bloomberg. Like a kind of political Tourette's syndrome, he tells you that's the case every chance he gets. New York is now so tame that old-timers grumble that it's become a boring town and wish openly for at least a little of 1977's grit and grime.
So considering what a patsy your metropolis is now, it's hard to believe any of you are going to be alarmed at what some young people in the Lower East Side are telling us—that actually, for them, this town is still a jungle.
Yeah, we had the same reaction.
Prove it, kid.
There's this one street kid—we'll call him Johnny—who's 18 and lives with his asthmatic grandmother and cousins in a cramped East 12th Street apartment because his father kicked him out of their apartment and his mom left the city. He says he's on probation for five years, which stemmed from a robbery arrest. He says he knocked someone over and took their cash so he could buy lunch. He says he's been jumped and beaten with metal bats. He says he's afraid to walk past certain public housing projects that he considers rival gang territory. He wants to leave the neighborhood, but feels like he has no other option than to stay.
Johnny describes a world of young louts endlessly roaming the streets, of the constant presence of drugs, of brazen instigators who post YouTube videos to make threats and call out other groups and who fill MySpace pages with tough-guy images and over-the-top boasts. These wannabes and badasses associate themselves with the public housing projects they live in, giving themselves colorful names like Money Boyz in the Campos Houses, and No Fair Ones (NFO) in the Smith Houses.

an excerpt from the Villager
Mothers are ganging up to fight youth violence on East Side. A spate of violent incidents in the East Village over the past three months has prompted two women to tackle the problem of gangs and violence the only way they know how — as mothers.
Aida Salgado, 40, and Maizie Torres, 42, are now partners against crime in a new organization they have founded called Mothers in Arms. The initiative aims to get parents more involved in ensuring that their children are safe and are engaged in constructive activity, such as after-school programs and recreational activities, to deter them from joining local gangs.
The Police Department did not make available statistics on gang-related activity. But the fatal stabbing of Glenn Wright, 21, by an alleged gang member at the Baruch Houses on Sept. 12 was one recent incident that served as a harsh reminder that gang violence still exists in the neighborhood.
“We want to get parents more involved and educate them about these matters,” said Salgado, who suspects that many parents are in the dark about their own children’s activities. “They need to know where their children are and who they hang out with.”
Salgado’s and Torres’s own sons grew up in an environment dominated by gangs. The mothers say many of their sons’ friends are gang members. Resisting the peer pressure to join gangs is a major challenge for both of their children. But through Mothers in Arms, the women hope that parents will play a more active role in preventing their children from getting involved in violence.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

27 Cherry Street: Home To Two Famous Fourth Warders

from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library
I forgot that not only did Captain Samuel Chester Reid live at 27 Cherry Street, but Cherry Hill Gang leader, Jake "Yakey" Brady, lived there too. The house probably didn't change much from the early 1800's until the ones pictured above

Staten Island Ferry: 1900

from shorpy
comments from shorpy viewers
The Cincinnati has the round pilothouses (aka wheelhouses) typical of New York harbor ferries during the era, while ferries on the West Coast had square pilothouses like on the ferry Berkeley.
The great picture of the "Cincinnati" on the North River in 1900 reminds me of the Ramsdell ferries "Newburgh", "Beacon", "Orange" and "Dutchess" that plied the Hudson between Newburgh and Beacon NY up until 1963 when the I-84 bridge first breached the waters. Two of the above had two decks, and the other two, just a single deck. I can never remember which had what.
This is an interesting view of a ferry showing very little change in shape or function for well over 100 years. I've used many auto ferries over the years and never considered that they were earlier used to move horse-drawn wagons long before the advent of cars.
Citizen Kane, Illustrated
Mr. Bernstein:
One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on a ferry and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it, there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on -- and she was carrying a white parasol -- and I only saw her for one second and she didn't see me at all -- but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl.

A Hudson River Boat Ride: 1938

A Hudson River Boat Ride: August 1958

That's my little "bro" Jeff Nathanson on my left. My dad scrubbed his Julius look and my mother started turning gray at a rapid rate since the picture from about 2 and a half years earlier.

A Then And Now Video Of Division Street

A highlight of the fourth ward tour

The Famed Hat Stores Of Division Street

Florrie Sullivan, Big Tim's brother, returns from a 1902 trip to Europe and claims that the hat makers of Division Street surpass any he saw in France.
Sullivan Division St

Division Street 1902

The right side of the block is the north side with even numbers. The first store on the right seems to be a glass store numbered 98. This is before the Manhattan Bridge is built. PS 124, the Yung Wing School, is located at 40 Division Street.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Another Fourth Warder Linked To January 8th

My wife found an album of family pictures that I rescued from my parent's house that had long been missing. From January 8th, 1955. Is that Julius Rosenberg's brother in the background?

Battle Of New Orleans And "The 8th of January" 2

from my nyc history pal Phil Panaritis
On this day, January 8, 1815, outnumbered three-to-one by British regulars commanded by Major General Sir Pakenham (brother-in-law to the Duke of Wellington), Irish-American Andrew Jackson led a motley crew of Americans to one of the most decisive and stunning victories in military history. At the end of the day, Pakenham and his top three subordinate generals lay dead along with more than 2,000 British troops killed, wounded or captured. American casualties were eight killed and 34 wounded.
In the words of Jackson scholar Robert Remini (who used to teach at Fordham), the battle settled once and for all "the enduring ability of a free people to protect and preserve their society and way of life". From Daniel Haston on Jackson's army
"Never has a more polyglot army fought under the Stars and Stripes than did Jackson's force at the Battle of New Orleans. In addition to his regular U.S. Army units, Jackson counted on dandy New Orleans militia, a sizable contingent of black former Haitian slaves fighting as free men of color, Kentucky and Tennessee frontiersmen armed with deadly long rifles and a colorful band of outlaws led by Jean Lafitte, whose men Jackson had once disdained as "hellish banditti." This hodgepodge of 4,000 soldiers, crammed behind narrow fortifications, faced more than twice their number."

part of that rag tag group was New Yorker and 14th Warder, Captain James McKeon, who is mentioned in this 1923 article on the history of St.Patrick's.

The Battle Of New Orleans And The Fourth Ward

We mentioned Captain Reid before, who lived on 27 Cherry Street in the Fourth Ward, on two successive posts in July of last year.
Here's a link to one

Here's to the other

More on Captain Reid and the Battle of New Orleans from the electric scotsman
Designer of Our Present Flag in Unmarked Grave for 95 Years
by C. W. Tazewell - 1967
Louisana and the Northwest Territory might now be British if Reid had not engaged them in what has been called one of the world's most decisive naval battles.
Thomas Manning, an amateur historian, knew the story of Captain Samuel Chester Reid, designer of our present flag. Manning had reason to believe that he might be buried at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N. Y. As cemetery supervisor he had ready access to the old, faded records. His search was rewarded with success, and he discovered the unmarked grave where the naval hero of the war of 1812 and Congressional Medal of Honor winner had remained unknown and unrecognized for almost 95
years. Further investigation verified that the Reid buried there was the naval hero. Manning obtained the support of Brooklyn Congressman Francis E. Dorn, local veteran's groups and other organizations to properly mark Reid's last resting place. The greatest difficulty was in locating the surviving descendants to receive permissions for the monument.
The Old Glory Post No. 48 of the American Legion responded by marking the grave with a flag and wreath until the erection of the monument, according to David Terada, now resident of Norfolk. Terada was then Commander of the Brooklyn Post and is now Americanism Chairman of Norfolk's American Legion Post No. 60. On October 28, 1956, the efforts of the Reid Memorial Committee met with fruition. Having been authorized by Act of Congress a granite monument and flag pole were dedicated during colorful ceremonies. Secretary of the Navy Charles S. Thomas gave the principal address and Terada laid a wreath for Kings County veterans organizations. The ceremonies were attended by two of Reid's descendants, Col. Louis Sanders, a great-grandson, and Samuel Chester Reid, 4th, a great-great-grandson.
Capt. Reid designed the third version of the Stars and Stripes in 1818 at the request of a Congressional Committee headed by Peter H. Wendover, Representative from New York City. The original flag of the United States of America was created by Resolution of Congress on June 14, 1777, with thirteen stars and stripes. The second Flag Act was passed in 1794 to authorize fifteeen stars and fifteen stripes due to entry of Vermont and Kentucky into the Union. By 1818 there were twenty states and entry of others was expected soon. It was impractical to continue to add stripes as more and more states were admitted. So, Wendover's committee adopted Reid's proposal that the stripes be fixed at thirteen with one star for each state. On acceptance of the design by Congress, Mrs. Reid made the first new flag with silk provided by the government. It was flown from the Capitol dome on April 13, 1818. The twenty stars were formed in "one great luminary" as a large composite star. Notwithstanding the later establishment by President Monore of the arrangement of stars in equal rows, they were non-uniform in many flags. As late in 1857 stars were seen in the form of large stars, as a lozenge, diamond or circle, and even as an anchor.
Samuel Chester Reid was born in 1783, son of John Reid, a Scottish lieutenant in the Royal Navy. His father was captured in an expedition against New London, Conn., in 1780, and was paroled in the custody of Judge Chester of Norwich. He married the judge's daughter, Rebecca. The son became a powder monkey in the U. S. Navy as a boy and served under Commodore Truxton as a midshipman. In the War of 1812 he was made captain of the privateer, GENERAL ARMSTRONG. His ship was pursued by a British squadron when he left New York in September, 1814. Through his skill he escaped during light winds by pumping water on the sails and by towing by rowers in the ship's boats. On the afternoon of September 26 he entered the harbor at Fayal in the Azores. A squadron of three British ships arrived soon afterwards, with 136 guns and 2,000 men. The GENERAL ARMSTRONG had seven small guns and 90 men. In the evening the British attacked with four smaller boats and were beaten off. Later, at midnight, fourteen boats with cannonades and 600 men attacked the Americans again. The British succeeded in boarding the GENERAL ARMSTRONG after heavy losses from cannon fire. In hand-to-hand combat with the courageous crew the British were repelled with many dead and wounded. Reid dueled and killed the British leader with his cutlass. Reid moved all of his guns to one side of his ship by cutting new gun ports during the night in anticipation of further attacks. With the light of dawn the 18-gun CARNATION came in and received a withering fire from the ARMSTRONG, taking so much punishment that she left the battle. As the larger British ship PLANTAGENET with 74 guns began moving in for the kill, Reid scuttled his ship.
On the next day Captain Reid was invited to tea with the surviving British officers at the British Consulate. Notwithstanding the objections of the American consul, Reid accepted, ignoring the possibility of a trap. He was cheered and welcomed by the British officers as a brave and resourceful foe. General Andrew Jackson later told Capt. Reid that "If there had been no Battle of Fayal, there would have been no Battle of New Orleans." Reid had delayed the British expedition against New Orleans for ten days allowing Jackson to arrive there earlier. Thus, Louisiana and the Northwest Territory might now be British if Reid had not engaged them in what has been called one of the world's most decisive naval battles. Capt. Reid received many honors and was a popular naval hero. The Thanks of Congress and the Medal of Honor were awarded to him along with a gold sword from the State of New York and a silver tea service from the City of New York. The sword is in the Metropolitan Museum and the tea service is in the Museum of the City of New York.
After the War of 1812 Samuel Chester Reid became harbor master for New York City. He made many innovations including a signal code for U. S. vessels and the use of the semaphore system for speedy advice on ship arrivals. He devised a method of rapid signaling by land which permitted messages to go from New York to New Orleans in two hours. Having served his country well in peace and war, Capt. Reid died in 1861 at the age of 78. He is due the gratitude of the Nation, and our recognition on Flag Day as the designer of our present flag. His grave is now a symbol of our patriotism and dedication.
Postscript -
A descendant of Samuel Chester Reid, Mrs. Elizabeth Virginia Johnson, was living in Portsmouth, Va. in 1967. It was noted in _The Virginian-Pilot_ of Feb. 26, 1967, that Mrs. Johnson's mother's oldest brother, W. B. Reid, married a direct descendant of Betsy Ross. This Mrs. Reid made a Confederate flag to be flown during the Civil War atop a paper mill at Neuse River Falls, N. C.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Battle Of New Orleans: The Buccaneers

Buccaneer Comics 2
from comic books in the public domain

Battle Of New Orleans And "The 8th of January"

The Number one song of 1959!
In eighteen-fourteen we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississipp'
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans
We fired our guns and the British kept a comin'
There wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin'
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico
We looked down the river and we seed the British come
And there must've been a hundred of 'em beatin' on the drum
They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring
We stood beside our cotton bales, didn't say a thing
We fired . . .
Old Hickory said we could take 'em by surprise
If we didn't fire muskets till we looked 'em in the eye
We held our fire till we seed their faces well
Then we opened up our squirrel guns and really gave 'em well
We fired . . .
Yeah they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn't go
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn't catch 'em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico
We fired our cannon till the barrel melted down
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round
We filled his head with cannonballs and powdered his behind
And when we touched the powder off the 'gator lost his mind
We fired . . .
They ran . . .

from wikipedia
"The Battle of New Orleans" is the name of a song written by Jimmie Driftwood. The song details the 1815 Battle of New Orleans from the perspective of an American fighting alongside Andrew Jackson against British forces, but the tone is lighthearted. It has been recorded by many artists, but the one most often associated with this song is Johnny Horton. His version topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959 (see 1959 in music).
In Billboard magazine's rankings of the top songs in the first fifty years of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, "The Battle of New Orleans" was ranked as the twenty-eighth song overall and the number-one country song to appear on the chart.[2]
The melody has its roots in a well-known American fiddle tune "The 8th of January", which was the date of the Battle of New Orleans. Jimmie Driftwood, a school principal in Arkansas with a passion for history, set a historical account of the battle to this music in an attempt to get students interested in learning history. It worked, and Driftwood became well known in the region for his historical songs. He was "discovered" in the late 1950s by Don Warden, and eventually signed to a recording contract by RCA, for whom he recorded 12 songs in 1958, including "The Battle of New Orleans".
"The Battle of New Orleans" is often played during North American sporting events, and is commonly heard during home games of the NHL's Calgary Flames.
Other versions
As noted, Johnny Horton's 1959 version is the best-known recording of the song. Horton also recorded an alternative version for release in British Commonwealth countries which had more favourable lyrics toward the British. The word "British" was replaced with "Rebels" along with a few other differences.
Many other artists have recorded this song. Notable versions include the following:
* In the United States, Vaughn Monroe's 1959 single competed with Horton's but did not achieve the same degree of success and became only a minor Hot 100 hit.
* In the United Kingdom, Lonnie Donegan and His Skiffle Group's 1959 version competed with Horton's and achieved greater success, peaking at number two. In Donegan's spoken introduction, he made it clear that the British were on the losing side.
* Harpers Bizarre had a minor Hot 100 hit with their somewhat psychedelic version from their 1968 album Secret Life of Harpers Bizarre.
* Johnny Cash covered the song in 1972 on the album America: A 200-Year Salute in Story and Song.
* The Germany-based Les Humphries Singers 1972 hit, "Mexico", used the melody and parts of the lyrics, violating copyright by crediting the song to British bandleader Les Humphries.
* Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had a minor Hot 100 hit with their version in 1974.
* Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen played a cover of the song at their performance in New York, NY, on September 14, 1976.[3]
* Bill Haley recorded a version in 1979 at his final recording sessions and it was released on his final album, Everyone Can Rock and Roll.
* Perhaps the most unexpected recording is The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 1991 cover on their album Songs from America's Heartland.
Country parodists Homer and Jethro had a hit when they parodied "The Battle of New Orleans" with their song "The Battle of Kookamonga." The single was released in 1959 and featured production work by Chet Atkins. In this version, the scene shifts from a battleground to a campground, with the combat being changed to the Boy Scouts chasing after the Girl Scouts.

Jersey Street And St. Patrick's 2

an embedded video I captured from another great site on NYC and other great city landmarks called the Museum Planet It has
Narrated slide tours give the viewer unprecedented access to historic sites. You will see what even long time city residents miss. Museum Planet takes you inside and outside places you can’t visit on your own. We give you access. Museum Planet has more information on a given site than a viewer could possibly absorb on a personal sightseeing visit. We are the second best thing to being there and sometimes we are even better.

Jersey Street And St. Patrick's

from a great site on nyc landmarks called the Masterpiece Next Door
Old St Patrick

Jersey Street 4

Jersey Street was just a block north on Mulberry of old St.Patrick's Church
St Patrick Jersey

Jersey Street 3

two articles combined from the nytimes that mention Jersey Street from late 1800's. Like Riis' work they often contain anti-immigrant prejudice.
Jersey St Articles

Jersey Street 2

views of Jersey Street from Jacob Riis. Riis, I believe, would often work out of the old police quarters on Centre Street, which was only a few blocks north
Pages From Riis-tenements1

Jersey Street

Two views of Jersey Street. The top, looking west, and the bottom looking north.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jersey Street And Jersey Lane, by H.C. Brunner, 1896

Jersey Street
I never knew there was a Jersey Street in Manhattan

Portland Reigns Along With KV Royalty

above a "modified" scene from the ON gallery in Portland which is recommended in the article
an excerpt from the 12/2009 national geographic traveler
This Oregon city gets almost everything right: It's friendly, sustainable, accessible, maybe even a model for America's future.
There are at least three things you can do especially well in Portland, Oregon, and they're all important: eating, drinking, and getting around. Here in the self-proclaimed "city that works," restaurants pride themselves on their fresh, locally grown fare, and you're never far from inspired coffee or innovative brew-pub beers. What's more, few cities in the United States are as bicycle friendly. Add to this the ubiquitous local art and a widespread recycling ethic, and you've hit upon much of what makes this verdant, forward-thinking city of 575,930 so appealing.
Portland is so thoroughly trendy these days that at times it seems, well, retro. It's among just a handful of American cities that have managed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Friendliness and civic involvement thrive here even as they decline elsewhere. The downtown farmers market on Park Avenue is jammed every Saturday morning with shoppers dedicated to buying organically grown arugula, Willamette Valley hazelnuts, and artisanal cheeses while listening to bluegrass and folk music. People live in town and in the suburbs, but farmland around the city has been preserved; and skiing and surfing are little more than an hour away.
Portland is all about sustainable, low-impact living, including getting from here to there. So I climb aboard a shiny red bike in the Southeast section of town and angle west toward the Willamette River, through a loose network of neighborhoods both funky and high-end. The bike's long, raised handlebars elicit appreciative bell tinkles from other riders. By the time I reach the river, it's raining. Ah, Portland.
As often happens in this city, there's a place nearby where I can have a meal—in this case, the little Produce Row Cafe, set amid warehouses. The rain stops as I finish my beer-battered fries, and I mount up again and take the riverside bike trail north. The path follows the fast-flowing Willamette in its last northward stretch before its confluence with the more powerful Columbia River. I steer away from the water toward Mississippi Avenue, where I find a Laughing Planet CafĂ©, one in a local chain, whose owner—former bike shop proprietor Richard Satnick—wears Bermudas and a New York Yankees cap

Forlini's: A Favorite KV Eatery

from the Bridge and Tunnel Club
Bridge Tunnel Forlini

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Life For The Loew's Canal?

above, pictured in 1935
an excerpt from the villager
The long-shuttered Loew’s Canal Theater in Chinatown could get a new life as a performing arts center.
The proposal to fix up and reopen the 83-year-old theater is far from a done deal, but the space’s owner agreed last week to do a feasibility study.
“It would be the first theater opening in Chinatown in over a generation, probably several generations,” City Councilmember Alan Gerson said. “It’ll bolster the arts and culture of Chinatown and it will also bolster the economy.”
Gerson began fighting for a performing arts center for Chinatown after 9/11. Amid many disagreements over the future of the neighborhood and how revitalization money should be spent, a cultural center was one of the few ideas that garnered no opposition, recalled Amy Chin, president of the nonprofit leading the project’s planning.
“There’s no central gathering space, no place indoors for large-scale community events,” Chin said. “Virtually all cultural groups [in Chinatown] are operating out of spaces that are just decrepit.”
Progress on the performing arts center has been slow over the past eight years, in large part because it is difficult to find a large, available space in Chinatown. With the nonprofit CREATE in Chinatown (Committee to Revitalize and Enrich the Arts and Tomorrow’s Economy), Chin has looked into dozens of possibilities.
But no space is quite like the Loew’s Canal, at 31 Canal St. near Ludlow St. Designed by renowned theater architect Thomas Lamb, the 2,339-seat theater opened in 1926. Many of the original, ornate, terra-cotta details remain, although the seats were cleared out long ago when the theater was turned into a warehouse.
For about the last 25 years, the theater has been owned by Thomas Sung, founder of the Abacus Federal Savings Bank in Chinatown. CREATE started talking to Sung about the space three years ago and even sent Rogers Marvel Architects in to examine it.
But Sung initially had other ideas, hoping to rent the theater to a commercial tenant and build condos above. He filed plans to that effect with the city Department of Buildings during the summer, though they have not yet been approved, possibly because the city is looking to landmark the building.
But then, this week, Sung and CREATE released a joint statement saying they are committed to rebuilding the theater. In an interview Tuesday, Sung said a theater would be good for the community, especially because it would offer a central place to experience Chinese culture.
Sung said he is willing to give up the rent he could make from the ground-floor theater space, but only if he is able to use the building’s air rights to build 12 or 13 stories of condos on top. It is unclear how feasible it would be to build the condos, because they would have to be supported by the theater below, which is an open space with no columns. Sung is consulting with an engineer.
“We are very much dedicated to seeing this happen,” Sung said, “but there are always financial constraints and physical constraints.” On the chances of the theater being built, he said, “I hate to speculate.”

a prior posting with a 2006 story about Loew's Canal memories

1875 Tong Wars In San Francisco's Chinatown

Buster Keaton's Version Of A Tong War: 1928

from the youtube description
This movie is commonly known as the film that marked the beginning of the end for Buster Keaton (he had signed a contract with MGM that pretty much ended his artistic freedom), but looking at the final product, it is hard to see any signs of trouble. This is not one of his masterpieces, but this is probably his most likable vehicle. It is filled with many comic highlights like the sequences at the swimming pool, where Keaton loses his swimsuit. The sequence where Keaton attempts to film a street fight is indeed funny. The ending is unexpected, and brilliantly put together.

18 Pell Street: Site Of 1930 Ambush

Five members of the Hip Sing Tong were ambushed by On Leong Tong members when they were playing Kelly pool in the Lai Hoy poolroom at 18 Pell Street. What is Kelly pool?

18 Pell Street: Then And Now

Below is from a 1958 Life Magazine article which claimed that the store pictured, Ting's, was an alleged heroin supply spot

82 Bayard Street: 1897 Fish Wars With Mulberry Street

Picella Fish 82 Bayard

A Raid On 82 Bayard Street: 1902

I wonder whether there's a Saginette Tournament show on television now.

Carmine J. Apicella And 82 Bayard Street

I saw the plaque above alongside Transfiguration Church recently and wanted to see if I could find any information about these World War I veterans of Transfiguration who gave their young lives for their country. The only one I could find was Carmine Apicella, who lived and worked at 82 Bayard. He was a fish dealer working for his father. Below is his draft registration card from 1918. 82 Bayard is the cream colored building in the top picture of this post. The building may have been built after 1918