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Dec 15th in NYC History

Posted: Dec 15, 2012 | 1:40 PM
by Jared Goldstein
1832:  Gustave Eiffel, Engineer of the Statue of Liberty, born.

1837: George Post, Architect of the NYSE


City College of New York, born.
  The dark stone is literally from the bedrock of Manhattan from the subways' development.

1871:  Boss Tweed indicted on 100 counts of corruption.

Tweed was on the lamb in Spain.  He was caught because of a cartoon by Thomas Nast.  There is a bit of this in my Santa the NYC Tour.

He was prosecuted for stealing around $70 million, but they only found $40,000. 

Beyond it being spent or squirreled, I have an idea of where boss Tweed's money went: into the gorgeous lower Manhattan government buildings built by Irish immigrant graft. 

Huh?  In the US graft is synonymous with corruption, which I believe is part of a pattern of anti-Irish bias.  [Similar to how Prohibition was partially emplaced to get at the Irish.] 

Why?  I have learned from doing my tours that in parts of the UK, Ireland and Australia graft means labor or hard work.   If you went along with Boss Tweed's Tammany Hall political machine you got work. 

At the bottom of today's entry, I compare the fruits of the Tweed corruption with the development with the mid 2000's construction of the enormous costly US Embassy in Iraq, which I regard as a corrupt boondoggle that benefits huge American corporations, but not workers from here or anywhere.

1877:  135 years ago, Edison patented the phonograph.

1896:  USA's 1st Ice Hockey Rink and League. 
St Nick's beat Brooklyn 15-0 at St Nick's rink on Columbus Ave and 66th St.
 [I told you that St Nick is the city's patron saint!].

Two other teams are in the league, forming America's first hockey league, the American Amateur Hockey League, which continued until 1917.

Mechanical ice making was invented three years prior. 

1925:  NHL debuts in NYC. 
Montreal won 3-1 before a 17,000 black tie clad audience at MSG.   Mayor Hylan and Mayor-elect Jimmy Walker, as well as the bands from West Point USMA,
and the Candian Royal Footguards were there.

1944:  Band Leader Glenn Miller died, MIA, while flying to France in the Army Airforce band to entertain the troops.

1978:  Superman with New York City as its set, starring Julliard's Christopher Reeve, premiers.

1980:  Outfielder Dave Winfield became a Yankee for the next ten seasons.

1996:  St Johns wins the NCAA Division 1 Soccer championship
prevailing 3-1 over Florida International.

Today is Julie Taymor's Bday. 
Late 2012: there is a free Lion King exhibit across from Bryant Park.

Some Tweed projects, such as the 'Tweed Courthouse,' now the Department of Ed building behind City Hall, went seven years and seven million dollars over budget. 

That money went into labor, overbuilt foundations (nearly indestructible buildings built to last centuries), and

ornate beaux arts exteriors.    Most of the buildings in the Municipal District are Tweed's Tammany-machine built projects that employed thousands.

I touch upon some of these issues on my Downtown tours amidst the gorgeous City Beautiful Ecole des Beaux Arts Buildings.

These are three pictures of an even more lavish project across the street, the Surrogate's Court.

Compare that to an example of today's government-funded jobs program: the Vatican-sized US "embassy" in Iraq.  It has been crumbling even as it is being built! 

At least 19th Century corruption left us with world-class
buildings that will last as long as the Roman Coliseum.   Violence and abuse of democracy aside, if you went along with the
Tammany Hall political machine you would get work, a turkey for Christmas, and some response from government for solving local problems and providing neighborhood services. 

This is our embassy (actually probably a nest of spies, viceroys, and mercenaries).  It is crumbling as it is being built!

The War on Iraq is built on violence, abuse of democracy, cronyism, and American corporate profiteering, but it doesn't benefit US workers.   The Kuwaiti contractors use Sri Lankan laborers, or slaves, because their passports are confiscated.

The Iraqi Embassy suggests the failed public housing project "Pruitt-Igoe" in St. Louis.  It was demolished less than 20 years after it was built in the 1950s.

Pruitt-Igoe after in 1972.  Pruitt-Igoe is commonly used as the symbol of the failure of modern architecture.

The US Embassy in Iraq from the mid 2000s suggests the failure of US empire, the failure of US democracy, because of kleptocracy, authoritarianism, and oligarchy.  At least Tammany provided US jobs, empowerment for immigrants, social mobility, and left us with gorgeous durable buildings.

The first time Tweed was jailed, he had luxury conditions.  His prison is where Seward Park HS is today, which is a sight on my Lower East Side Tours.

He escaped.  After Tweed was scurrying around on the lamb for years, he was recognized because a Nast cartoon of him in Spain, and then arrested.  He is later convicted, and dies in jail
in 1878 in miserable conditions.   


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