Thu, 26 June 2014
Cleopatra's Needle is the name given to the ancient Egyptian obelisk that sits in Central Park, right behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is the bizarre tale of how it arrived in New York and the unusual forces that went behind its transportation from Alexandra to a hill called Greywacke Hill.
The weathered but elegant monolith was created thousands of years ago by the pharaoh Thutmose III. Thanks to the great interest in Egyptian objects in the 19th century -- sometimes called Egyptomania -- major cities soon wanted obelisks for their own, acquired as though they were trophies of world conquest. France and England scooped up a couple but -- at least in the case of the ill-fated vessel headed to London -- not without great cost.
One group was especially fascinated in the Alexandrian obelisks. The Freemasons have been a mysterious and controversial fraternity who have been involved in several critical moments in American history (including the inauguration of fellow Freemason George Washington.) A Freemason engineer and adventurer named Henry Honeychurch Gorringe discovered an incredible secret on the remaining Alexandria obelisk, a secret that might link the secretive organization to the beginnings of human civilization.
But how do you get a 240 ton object, the length of a 7-story building, across the Atlantic Ocean and propped up in New York's premier park which had just opened a few years before?
We let you in on Gorringe's technique and the curious Freemasons ceremony that accompanied the debut of the obelisk's cornerstone.
PLUS: We have a secret or two to reveal ourselves in this episode. This is a must-listen podcast!
Direct download: 167_Cleopatras_Needle_and_the_Freemasons_Secret.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:26pm EST
Thu, 12 June 2014
On June 15, 1904, hundreds of residents of the Lower East Side's thriving German community boarded the General Slocum excursion steamer to enjoy a day trip outside the city. Most of them would never return home.
The General Slocum disaster is, simply put, one of the greatest tragedies in American history. Before September 11, 2001, it was the largest loss of life of any event that has ever taken place here.
This is a harrowing story, brutal and tragic. The fire that engulfed the ship near the violent waters of the Hell Gate gave the passengers a horrible choice -- die by fire or by drowning. In the end, over one thousand people would lose their lives over an horrific event that could have been easily prevented.
But in this tale are some surprising and even shocking stories of human survival, real stories of bravery and heroism.