1950--The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel finally opens. This is the last of four underwater tunnels (one per decade since the Twenties) connecting Manhattan to New Jersey or Long Island.
1950-1956--A New York City baseball team--be it the Yankees, the Dodgers or the Giants--wins the World Series every year.
1952--Lever House, the world's first glass box office building, opens on Park Avenue. A masterpiece.
1952--The Transit Authority is established.
1953--Construction begins on the Cross Bronx Expressway, one of the most expensive ($250 million) and controversial roads ever built. It will be completed thirteen years later and the borough will be forever transformed.
1955--The Third Avenue El is demolished.
1955--The Brooklyn Dodgers finally win a World Series.
1957--Both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants play their final season as New Yorkers before moving to California in 1958.
1958--Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building, considered one of the city's finest post war skyscrapers--with its bronze coating, topaz tinted glass and influential 1/2 acre plaza--opens on Park Avenue.
1959--Ground is broken for Lincoln Center.
1959--Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim opens on Fifth Avenue.
When you plan a vacation in Louisiana, you pick a festival. I chose the Giant Omelette Celebration because it coincided with some free time, because it did not coincide with hurricane season, and because many in my last Louisiana tour group lived in Abbeville and would be at the festival. Only later did I discover the appropriate history:
From the Giant Omelette Web site: "According to legend, when Napoleon and his army were traveling through the south of France, they decided to rest for the night near the town of Bessieres. Napoleon feasted on an omelette prepared by a local innkeeper which was such a culinary delight that he ordered the townspeople to gather all the eggs in the village and to prepare a huge omelette for his army the next day.
From this beginning, the omelette became a tradition to feed the poor of the village at Easter. It has also become the symbol of a world-wide fraternity, rich in friendship, tradition and cultural exchange, known as the Confrerie."
Weren't my trips to visit the homes of my tour groups who visited New York a kind of Confriere?
The giant skillet and the fire. (I was told this was also the street where they shot the most recent remake of The Blob. Fitting, when you consider all of the yolk that goes into this omelette.)
Open to the public, the objective of the egg-cracking competition was to crack the shell, leaving the egg intact. Just a gentle tap. Oh, and you have to do it with a tractor.
This one was a winner.
The parade of chefs, several from Belgium, walk up towards the courthouse.
The pile of egg shells grows. It's a five-thousand egg omelette with an extra egg thrown in for every year of the festival--twenty-five this November.
The chefs dancing. Looks like a page out of a Dr. Seuss book, doesn't it?
The chefs cooking the omelette. There was no flipping; technically, it was more like scrambled eggs.
And it was delicious! I thought it would be more of a gimmick than a real dish. I was wrong.
Here are some of my hosts with Megan Schiering, a local news reporter, who grew up in Cincinnati and whose mother was on one of my tours in late October. Megan and I met at the festival and one of my hosts said, "How can you possibly know our local news reporter?" It reminded me of the day I was walking in Seattle with my friend Tom when three of my tourists from Texas bound for a cruise to Alaska spotted me at Pike Street Market.
A few more tours and I will know EVERYONE in the world!!!
Fun Fact: To be a reporter in this part of Louisiana, you have to sign a contract that stipulates that you cannot evacuate during hurricanes, that, in fact, you have to stand outside for the obligatory rain and wind shots.
Fun Fact #2: Megan told me that a certain national CNN correspondent came down during a minor storm and faked the severity--actually fighting the imaginary wind for a better story while Megan and her crew looked on bewildered.
Or heaping spoonfuls of Louisiana. I recently visited Cajun Country (home to one of my favorite tour groups) where I was served crawfish jambalaya, seafood gumbo, boiled shrimp, boudin kolasches, boudin balls, homemade biscuits, crawfish maque choux, red beans and sausage, graton, beignets, andouille grits, fried alligator, a tasso omelet, as well as piece of a giant omelette made in the middle of the street.
I love visiting my tour groups. When they come here, I'm usually the one local giving a tour to dozens of out-of-towners. When I go there, I'm the one out-of-towner getting a tour from dozens of locals. In this way, I've attended a cattle auction in Centralia, Washington, learned blackjack in Reno, Nevada, and tubed the Comal in New Braunfels, Texas.
This trip took me to Lafayette, Vermilion, St. Martin and Iberia Parishes, in the alluvial region west of New Orleans, east of Lake Charles, and south of I-10 (this last phrase was repeated throughout my stay). During hurricanes this area can be said to be part of the Gulf of Mexico. Fortunately, the tropical storm/hurricane that threatened my departure bypassed us and was actually more severe by the time it reached New York.
I think my hosts always enjoy having me visit partly because they can run me as ragged as I ran them. The itineraries they create for me are packed with excursions, meals and parties. After one late night, I was told to "take a quick nap," because we were leaving at 6:30 in the morning to drive to Cafe des Amis for breakfast and zydeco dancing.
I went with it and, as you can see below, even played percussion with my thimbles and washboard tie. (The latter object--long, metallic, serrated--was the reason I was pulled out of line by security at LAX.)
One of my favorite stops was a tour of the home built by Joseph Jefferson, one of the great actors of the nineteenth century, who gave us the oft-repeated quote...
..."There are no small parts, only small actors."
According to a sign, Grover Cleveland once took siestas underneath a live oak on the property while visiting Jefferson. I took mine on the porch.
And a trip to Jefferson Island should always be paired with a trip to its neighboring salt dome, Avery Island, home of Tabasco.
Bobby and Dot's, a highly successful catering company, let me sample several dishes and gave me a t-shirt. Here I am pretending to work their tent at the Omelette Festival in Abbeville. (Come back Monday for more on the Omelette Festival.)
I send you into the weekend with one of my favorite shots.
In Louisiana, people paint graffiti on their own property. Interesting.
When the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, the city's harbor became America's chief port for the war in Europe. Ocean liners ferried soldiers across the Atlantic and the Brooklyn Navy Yard operated at full capacity, employing both men and women. The Navy Yard produced many of America's most famous ships, including the USS Arizona, sunk at Pearl Harbor at the start of the war, and the USS Missouri on whose deck the Japanese officially surrendered at the end of the war.
After the war, New York enjoyed one of the greatest periods of euphoria in its history. With the transformation of Blood Alley into the new home for the United Nations, the city became a true world capital and there were few major corporations that didn't have an office in the Big Apple. In fact, more office space was built here in the ten years after the war than has ever existed in downtown Chicago.
ALSO DURING THIS DECADE:
1940--The Queens Midtown Tunnel opens.
1941--After twenty years, the nave of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is completed. At the end of the eight-day celebration, Pearl Harbor is bombed. Major construction will not be resumed.
1942--A German u-boat sinks an oil tanker in New York Harbor. The Germans are amazed that the city's lights are still blazing--Dont' they know there's a war on? New York begins blackouts in May.
1945--World War Two officially ends. A sailor kisses a nurse in Times Square and the party begins.
1945--An army plane crashes into the Empire State Building.
1946--An army plane crashes into the Bank of Manhattan Company Building on Wall Street.
1946--Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia leaves office after three terms. Drained and exhausted, LaGuardia, having led the city through the Depression and World War II, dies the following year.
1946--The United Nations selects New York as the permanent headquarters after Rockefeller purchases prime real estate for the organization.
1947--The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company builds Stuyvesant Town.
1947--The Collyer Brothers, New York's eccentric pack rats, are discovered dead in their Harlem residence, buried by their trash.
1948--Subway and bus fares rise to ten cents after forty-four years of the nickel ride. (The fare will rise more frequently and dramatically from this point forward.)
1948--New York International Airport, known as Idlewild, now JFK, officially opens.
The Great Depression brought unemployment and bread lines (85,000 lined up for food on one day in 1932), but low costs of labor and building materials also contributed to major construction projects. Mayor LaGuardia and Robert Moses, brilliant visionaries with a thorough understanding of how New Deal dollars could be spent, changed the cityscape during this era. In fact, almost all of the entries below can be extended with the phrase "under Robert Moses and Fiorello LaGuardia."
ALSO DURING THIS DECADE:
1930--Riverside Church, the San Remo, the New Yorker, and the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn are completed.
1931--The Empire State Building, the George Washington Bridge, the present-day Waldorf=Astoria, the El Dorado, the Bayonne Bridge, and Floyd Bennett Field all open.
1932--Corrupt Mayor Walker resigns following the Seabury Investigation.
1933--Fiorello LaGuardia begins his first of three consecutive terms as mayor.
1934--The new Bryant Park and the new Central Park Zoo both open.
1935--The original reservoir from 1842, which was surrounded by Central Park in the 1850's and had become a shantytown with the arrival of the Depression, completes its transformation into the Great Lawn and Turtle Pond.
1935--The first race riot in Harlem erupts over rumors of the killing of a teenage shoplifter. Order is restored by the end of the next day after three are killed and hundreds injured.
1935--The West Side Improvement is completed.
1936--The Triborough Bridge opens.
1937--The Henry Hudson Parkway is completed.
1937--Reginald Marsh paints the panels in the rotunda of the Custom House.
1938--The Cloisters opens in Fort Tryon Park as the only satellite museum for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
1938--Castle Village at the top of Manhattan is completed.
1939--MoMA opens on Fifty-third Street.
1939--North Beach Airport opens...it will soon be renamed LaGuardia airport.
Each year, at eleven in the morning on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Veteran's Day parade begins at Madison Square and heads up Fifth Avenue.
Why 11:00 on 11/11?
Ninety-one years ago, at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the armistice, the official cessation of hostilities signed six hours earlier, went into effect, ending World War I, the war to end all wars and the war remembered by more memorials in New York than any other war before or since.
A year later, President Woodrow Wilson created Armistice Day, which was actually celebrated on the 12th. It was later moved to the 11th. In 1938, the day became a legal holiday, but was still known as Armistice Day until 1954 when it became Veteran's Day under Eisenhower.
Say goodbye to most views of the landmark Woolworth Building. Over the last couple of years, what was once the tallest skyscraper in the world (1913-1929), has been getting lost in the skyline.
The Woolworth was one of the only buildings New Yorkers could use as a frame of reference in images of Lower Manhattan after the attacks of September eleventh. With the towers gone, the Woolworth was one of few buildings that told us what was north, what was south, what was up, what was down.
One of my favorite shots of the Woolworth was from the plaza of the World Trade Center (i.e., from the southwest). That picture can no longer be taken. See that boring new apartment tower above, to the right of the Woolworth?
Here's that tower from the south. Voila. No more Woolworth.
Here's the Woolworth from the west again, but notice the empty lot in the foreground...soon to host an obstruction.
At least the front of the building will remain visible...but only in the near vicinity, because as you can see below...
...8 Spruce Street, or the massive Beekman Tower by Frank Gehry, is climbing into the sky above the Newspaper Row and blocking the iconic view of the Woolworth from most of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Before I began this series, this was the decade I most wanted to visit--the Roaring Twenties, the era of Gatsby and speakeasies, Babe Ruth and the Harlem Renaissance. At this point in the series, I've changed my mind. Not only have I found a few other decades more intriguing, but I feel we're living in the Twenties right now--both decades opened with a bang and ended with a crash, a terror attack and a financial meltdown.
ALSO DURING THIS DECADE:
1920--A Wall Street bombing on September 16th kills thirty-eight and injures 400. It remains the most deadly terror attack in New York until 2001. Evidence of the blast can still be seen around one of the windows of 23 Wall.
1923--Yankee Stadium, the House that Ruth Built, opens in the Bronx.
1923--Abyssinian Baptist Church is completed in Harlem.
1923--Following up on the resolution of 1916, the Setback Law restricts how skyscrapers are configured, giving the city its famous skyline.
1923--Unable to withstand Prohibition, Demonico's, America's first fine dining establishment, closes its last restaurant.
1924--Robert Moses, the Master Builder, who will become one of the most powerful New Yorkers in history, begins to build.
1924--The American Radiator Building (New York's first modern skyscraper) at Bryant Park and the Federal Reserve Bank on Liberty Street are both completed.
1924--Hudson View Gardens, one of America's first cooperative apartment complexes, built in a Tudor style, opens in Washington Heights. (Tudor City will open in the East Forties four years later.)
1925--The most beautiful Madison Square Garden is demolished to make room for Cass Gilbert's New York Life Insurance Building...which will, fortunately, turn out to be a beautiful structure.
1925--The Great Gatsby is published.
1926--The Paramount Building in Times Square and the Standard Oil Building near Bowling Green are completed.
1927--The Holland Tunnel opens.
1928--The International Magazine Building is "completed" on Eighth and Fifty-seventh. ("Completed" in quotes, because that building was designed as a base of a skyscraper that was not built until Norman Foster reimagined the structure in the twenty-first century as the base of his forty-six floor Hearst Tower).
1929--The Museum of Modern Art is founded.
1929--The Beresford Apartment Building, the Daily News Building and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank are all completed.
1929--The Race to the Sky between the Manhattan Bank Building and the Chrysler ends when the Chrysler locks its classic spire in place, becoming the world's first manmade structure to exceed 1000 feet.
1929--The day after that spire is lifted out of the Chrysler Building, the stock market begins to crash. Black Tuesday occurs five days later. The Roaring Twenties comes to a close.
As a few close friends read the first draft of my new novel--about the world of student travel--I took the month of October to work, work, work with student groups from California, Oregon and Indiana, pictured below...
...with the bull at Bowling Green...
...on the High Line...
...and at the Pond in Central Park.
TRIVIA QUESTION: I also worked a number of corporate programs. In the past, autumn was always busy with banks and car companies. Not this year. What two industries--thriving in the recession--did Robert work for this fall? Answer after the jump.
USS New York (1800), was a 36-gun frigate commissioned in 1800 and burned by the British in 1814.
USS New York (1820), was a 74-gun ship of the line, laid down in 1820 which never left the stocks, and was burned in 1861.
A screw sloop named Ontario was laid down in 1863; renamed New York in 1869, and sold while still on the stocks, in 1888.
USS New York (ACR-2), was an armored cruiser commissioned in 1893, in action in the Spanish-American War, renamed to Saratoga in 1911, renamed Rochester in 1917, decommissioned in 1933, and scuttled in 1941.
USS New York (BB-34), was a battleship laid down in 1911, commissioned in 1914, in action in both World Wars, decommissioned in 1946 and sunk as a target after surviving two atomic bombs tests in 1946.
The naval assault ship whose bow was made with 7.5 tons of World Trade Center steel arrived in New York this morning at the end of her maiden voyage from Louisiana. The ship paused near Ground Zero where it was given a 21-gun salute. The ship will be docked at Pier 88 where it will remain through Veteran's Day. It will be officially commissioned this Saturday, November 7th.
The seal from the ship's website:
Seven rays of sunlight signify both the crown atop the Statue of Liberty and the seven seas
Central focus placed on the Twin Towers and the bow of the ship, forged from the towers' steel
Breastplate of the phoenix bears the colors of first responders from the New York Police Department, New York Fire Department, and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Blood drops represent the fallen
Three stars for those earned by the battleship USS NEW YORK (BB34) in WWII at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and North Africa