New York - Did You Know?

�In the financial Panic of 1907, Wall Street was saved by the intervention of the legendary Pierpont Morgan. Credit was restored with a pledge from the US Treasury of the then huge sum of $30 million to Morgan, to use as he thought fit. Does this sound familiar?

�Focus was a 1945 novel, set in Brooklyn, about American Anti-Semitism, and written by Arthur Miller. In 2001 it was made into a brilliant but disturbing movie, co-produced by today's Mayor Bloomberg. Nine years later, I was delighted to see, according to a recent filing, that the mayor had finally got some profit from his worthy investment.

�The Empire State Building stands on the site of the house of the legendary arbiter of New York high society, 'The' Mrs Astor. After a family row, her nephew Waldorf left for England, where he bought a castle and became Lord Astor. And in revenge against his aunt, he tore down his father's house, which was next door to hers, and built a huge hotel there, called the Waldorf. After a while, her privacy destroyed, Mrs Astor moved out, and the Astoria hotel was built on the site of her house. Both were knocked down to make way for the Empire State Building. Today's Waldorf Astoria Hotel stands on Park Avenue.

�During the construction of the Empire State Building, there were workers of many races working on the huge site, including teams of Mohawk Indian ironworkers. Everyone went to the canteen provided, except the Italians, who always brought their own pack lunches, knowing that only Italian food was good to eat!

�Though the Crash of 1929 wiped out many people, the market actually recovered somewhat, early in 1930. The greatest damage was done by the terrible, slow slide that followed, until the final bottom in July 1932.

�On Wednesday October 23, 1929, in a daring move, the great spire of the lovely Art Deco Chrysler Building was suddenly hoisted into place, taking its competitors by surprise and making it, for a brief time, the tallest building in the world. Ironically, the very next day was Black Thursday, the start of the great Crash of '29.

�Perhaps the most famous Jazz club during Prohibition was the Cotton Club in Harlem, acquired and run by gangster Owney Madden while he was still in prison in Sing Sing. Though of Irish ancestry, Madden was born British, in Leeds, proudly spoke broad Yorkshire, [US : spoke with a broad Yorkshire accent] and regularly read the Yorkshire Post until he died.

�Italian immigrants crossing the Atlantic to Ellis Island believed that the German liners that called at Italy's southern ports, had better conditions. Many Italian immigrants only came to work temporarily, and sometimes there would be more Italians returning to Italy than arriving.

�Rolls Royce cars were so fashionable in America that by 1921 Rolls Royce had a factory in Springfield, Massachusetts, and in 1925, a further bodywork plant in Long Island City.

�The Dakota building where John Lennon was tragically killed, is generally believed to be so-called because when it was completed in 1884, it was as remote from the fashionable addresses 'as Dakota'. An urban myth. Its builder, Edward Clark, loved all things Indian, and had already built another apartment house called the Wyoming.

�Madame Restell - who was actually English, born Ann Trow in Gloucestershire - was notorious as an 'abortionist' in mid-nineteenth century New York because she sold birth control products. She made a fortune, and build a magnificent mansion on Fifth Avenue - right beside the new Roman Catholic St Patrick's Cathedral!

�The idea of the Civil War was unpopular with New York, whose business was closely linked with the cotton plantations of the South. In 1861, just before the Civil War began, Mayor Fernando Wood proposed that New York should secede from the Union and set up as a sovereign city-state.

�Lord North, the British Prime Minister during the American War of Independence, was probably the illegitimate half brother of King George III, whom he closely ressembled. The two brothers commanding the British forces sent to America, General Howe and Admiral Howe, were acknowledged by the king to be his illegitimate cousins!

�Ben Franklin, who'd been living in London almost twenty years, ardently believed in the British Empire, supported King George III, and tried to avert the crisis with the American colonies almost until the Revolution began. His son, the loyalist Governor of New Jersey, remained on the British side.

�Lord Cornbury, the British Governor of New York in the early years of the eighteenth century was accused of being what we nowadays call a cross-dresser. He was also the queen's cousin.




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