Thu, 21 January 2016
On July 30, 1916, at just after 2 in the morning, a massive explosion ripped apart the island of Black Tom on the shoreline near Jersey City, sending a shockwave through the region and thousands of pounds of wartime shrapnel into the neighboring Ellis Island and Bedloe's Island (home to the Statue of Liberty).
Thousands of windows were shattered in the region, and millions woke up wondering what horrible thing had just happened.
The terrifying disaster was no accident; this was the sabotage of German agents, bent on eliminating tons of munitions that were being sent to the Allied powers during World War I. Although America had not yet entered the war, the United States was considered an enemy combatant thanks to weapons manufactures in the New York region and around the country.
But the surprising epicenter of German spy activity was in a simple townhouse in the neighborhood of Chelsea.
ALSO: New Yorkers still feel the ramifications of the Black Tom Explosion today at one of America's top tourist attractions.
Arriving in May 2016: The first-ever Bowery Boys book - Adventures in Old New York!
Direct download: 197_Danger_In_The_Harbor__The_Black_Tom_Explosion.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:24pm EDT
Thu, 21 August 2014
Rudolph Valentino was an star from the early years of Hollywood, but his elegant, randy years in New York City should not be forgotten. They helped make him a premier dancer and a glamorous actor. And on August 23, 1926, this is where the silent film icon died.
Valentino arrived in Ellis Island in 1913, one of millions of Italians heading to America to begin a new life. In his case, he was escaping a restless life in Italy and a set of mounting debts! But he quickly distinguished himself in New York thanks to his job as a taxi dancer at the glamorous club Maxim's, where he mingled with wealthy society women.
He headed to Hollywood and became a huge film star in 1921, thanks to the film The Sheik, which set his reputation as the connsumate Latin Lover. Throughout his career, he returned to New York to make features (in particular, those as his Astoria movie studio), and he once even judged a very curious beauty pageant here.
In 1926, he headed here not only to promote a sequel to The Sheik, but to display his masculinity after a scathing article blamed him for the effeminacy of the American male!
Sadly, however, he tragically and suddenly (and, some would say, mysteriously) died at a Midtown hospital. People were so shocked by his demise that the funeral chapel (in the area of today's Lincoln Center) was mobbed for almost a week, its windows smashed and the streets paralyzed by mourners -- or where those people paid by the film studio?
ALSO: We are proud to introduce to you -- POLA!
Fri, 31 July 2009
For millions of Americans, Ellis Island is the symbol of introduction, the immigrant depot that processed their ancestors and offered an opening into a new American life. But for some, it would truly be an 'Island of Tears', a place where they would be excluded from that life. How did an island with such humble beginnings -- 'Little Oyster Island', barely a sliver of land in the New York harbor -- become so crucial? Who is the 'Ellis' of Ellis Island? And how did it survive decades of neglect to become one of New York's most famous tourist attractions? Dedicated to my niece Courtney, who specifically suggested this episode.