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    New York Almanac -> February

    New York City in FEBRUARY

    If Paris is the perfect setting for a romance, New York is the perfect
    city in which to get over one, to get over anything
    . - Cyril Connolly

    This Month: ....Average monthly temperature for a New York February: 33°....The Westminster Dog Show high-tails into Madison Square Garden ....also don't miss the International Art Expo at the Javits Center.

    ABOVE: a view of the now shuttered Schrafft's Restaurant, a once- great place to bring a date at 58th Street and Madison Avenue, snapped February 1, 1948....

    February 1

    ....This night in 1892, Mrs. Astor invites 400 of her closest friends to a ball. Mrs. Astor pontificates that there are only 400 people of the best people in New York high society, and issues only that number in invitations. The event instantly gives rise to the phrase The Four Hundred to describe the haughty elite (full disclosure: her ballroom could only hold 400 people)...live from the old Ed Sullivan theater, "Late Night with David Letterman" premieres this night in 1982 on NBC....

    February 2 Groundhog Day

    ....New Amsterdam is incorporated, 1653.... there are 622 paupers holed up in the Chambers Street Alms House: 29 Englishmen, 87 Irish, 30 Scots, 34 Germans and 60 Americans (as well as 21 others of indeterminent origin) this day 1795...Frederick Rodman parachutes off the Statue of Liberty this day in 1912 for one of the world's first movie stunts....

    February 3

    ....Percival Prattis, who writes for Our World in New York City becomes the first black news correspondent admitted to the House and Senate press gallery in Washington, DC this day in 1947....in 1984 a sellout crowd of 18,210 at Madison Square Garden in New York City sees Carl Lewis beat his own world record in the long jump by 9-1/4 inches....

    February 4

    ....La Tosca premieres tonight at the Met, 1901....John Giola of New York City becomes the world champion Charleston endurance dancer with a 22 hour, 30 minute performance this day in 1926....Thornton Wilder's Our Town premieres tonight at the Henry Miller Theater, 1938. The author gets a Pulitzer Prize....

    February 5

    ....the Hague Street disaster this day in 1850 claims the lives of 67 New Yorkers in a boiler explosion....a massive nor'easter buries the northeastern U.S. in 1978 with 18 inches of snow in New York City, 16 inches at Philadelphia, and 14 inches at Baltimore. Boston, at 30 inches, shuts down for a week.... four disciples of Osama bin Laden go on trial in New York in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa....

    February 6

    ....DeWitt Clinton is appointed mayor in 1811 and not only becomes the first to occupy the present City Hall, but proves to be one of the city's best mayors ever. He personally attends to fires, soup kitchens and the general care of the town's less fortunate, and later helps establish the city's first public school and the New York Historical Society. Salary as mayor: $13,000 per annum....

    February 7

    .... this day in 1857 (a year of financial panic on Wall Street) William Alan Butler is author of the satirical poem Nothing to Wear immortalizing the scandalous spending habits of "Miss Flora M'Flimsey of Madison Square". It is later illustrated in book form and becomes an instant bestseller...

    February 8

    The Bowery has its first
    electric tattoo machine.


    February 8

    New York is in an uproar over whether or not to host the World's Fair this day in 1889. The plan to take over 19 acres of Central Park is dubbed "audacious" and "preposterous" and the international exposition moves to Chicago in 1892....on the Bowery, Professor Samuel F. O'Reilly introduces the first electric tattoo machine this day in 1892, resulting in perfectly drawn "tattaugraphs"....

    February 9

    ....Twenty years after the first woman was admitted to the New York Stock Exchange, the Exchange Luncheon Club installs a ladies rest room this day in 1987....

    February 10

    ...."The Lake" opens this night in 1934 starring the young Katherine Hepburn of whom critic Dorothy Parker writes the infamous...she ran the gamut of emotions from A-to-B....and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman opens at the Morosco Theater, 1949....

    February 11

    ....A job posting today in 1751: "....the public Whipper of the City of New York being lately dead, if any Person inclines to accept the Office with Twenty Pounds a Year, he may apply to the Mayor, and be entered...."

    February 12

    ....at Madison Square Garden, Thomas L. Rankin builds the country's first indoor skating rink, inaugurated this day in 1879 with a gala ice carnival....symphonic jazz is on the program tonight in 1924 at Aeolian Hall in which George Gershwin gives Rhapsody in Blue its first public performance....and Woody Allen makes his Broadway debut as scriptwriter for Play It Again, Sam at the Broadhurst, 1969....

    February 13

    ....with the nightlife nothing to write home about, (but discovering "the ladies singularly beautiful,") Charles Dickens arrives in New York this day in 1842 for a three-month stay....

    February 14

    February 14 - Valentines Day

    ....Grease opens at the Eden Theatre this night in 1972 and later moves to Broadway where it becomes the longest-running musical to date with 3,388 performances....

    February 15

    "....Press in the button and crank once only; unhook the listening telephone [receiver] and put it close to your ear, when Central Office will enquire: "What number?" Give Central Office and number of person wanted, and upon receiving the answer "All right," hang up the receiver, and wait til your bell rings, then place the receiver to your ear and address person called..." *

    * Instructions on how to place a telephone call. From The Metropolitan Telephone
    and Telegraph Company Subscriber's List, published February, 15 1883.

    February 16

    ....the first daily news telecast in America is broadcast from the New York studios of NBC, 1948...apprehended this day in 1965 are Robert Collier, leader of the Black Liberation Front, and Michelle Duclas, a member of the Rassemblement pour l'Independence (a wing of the French Canadian Separatist Party) for plotting to dynamite the Statue of Liberty. Uncovering the plot are the NYPD, the FBI, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police....

    February 17

    ....From the Annals of the Criminally Inane: A bank robber glowingly described as "awfully stupid" hands an illegible stickup note to a teller in Brooklyn. "I don't understand," says she, "you'll have to write it out again." The would-be thief sheepishly does as he is told while the teller rings the silent alarm and summons the police. Booked later at the Snyder St. police station, the not-too-bright beginner is nicknamed "Poor Johnny One Note" this day in 1977....

    February 18

    ....at a cost of $12,423.15, a new wing for "the accommodation of maniacs" opens this day at New York Hospital this day in 1809....also this day in 1809, the city's first Sunday paper is published. The Observer folds six months later....in 1890 there's a strong movement afoot to equip policemen with roller skates so that robbers, who did not wear them, could be caught more easily....the first 3-D movie, Bwana Devil, is released in New York City this day in 1953.

    February 19

    ....at a dinner party tonight in 1910 bon vivant and man-about-town Diamond Jim Brady enhances his reputation — and his waistline — when he consumes seven dozen oysters, five servings of roast beef, two gallons of stewed fruit, and three gallons of orange juice. He lives.

    February 20

    ....a puppet show is being shown at Mr. Holt's room on Pearl and Broad Streets today in 1738 entitled The Adventures of Harlequin and Scaramouche. Admission: 5 shillings....

    February 21

    ....The New Yorker magazine hits the stands today in 1925....civil rights leader Malcolm X is gunned down this day in 1965 at the Audubon Ball Room before a packed house. Reported last words: "Be cool. Be calm."

    February 22

    ....the first Jewish cemetery is established this day in 1656 and remains Manhattan Island's most ancient burial place - part of which is visible today at Park Row....women are allowed the right to work on the city docks today in 1979 as longshorepersons....

    February 23

    The demise of Madame
    Restell, the wickedest
    woman in New York.

    February 23

    ....New York's notorious Madame Restell, (whose botched abortions have long been the talk of the town) comes under scrutiny of the National Police Gazette this day in 1848 and condemned for disposing of her mistakes in the Hudson River: "...how many more, then, who enter her halls of death may be supposed to expire under her execrable butchery? Females are daily, nay, hourly missing from our midst who never return. Where do they go? What becomes of them?...Witness this, ye shores of Hudson! Witness this, Hoboken beach!"

    Despite her notoriety, the 19th century's most infamous abortionist continues to ply her trade among the poor, although she is hounded by the police for years afterward. Finally indicted in a sting operation, Restell (a.k.a Mrs. Ann Lohman) is discovered in a bathtub in her palatial Fifth Avenue mansion having bled to death from a self-inflicted gash to her throat. She leaves an estate worth more than one million dollars....

    February 24

    ....the whole town is awash in excitement as a whale is killed in the Hudson River and brought down to New York "where she is exposed to view" this day in 1704....

    February 25

    ....America's first reported monkey act hits town in 1751 courtesy of showman Edward Willet. For the price of a shilling, the audience sees the monkey walk a tightrope, dance and 'exercise' a gun ....

    February 26

    ....Six people are killed and more than a thousand injured when a van packed with a 1,210-pound bomb explodes in the garage underneath the World Trade Center this day in 1993. The explosion leaves a 200-foot wide crater and causes over 591 million dollars in damage. Dr. Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman and 14 of his followers are accused of the bombing....

    February 27

    "....Let us have faith that right makes might and in that faith let us dare to do our duty," says Abe Lincoln in what is considered the greatest anti-slavery speech on record. It's delivered at Cooper Union at Astor Place this day in 1860 before a crowd of 1,500....

    February 28

    ....in one of the worst years of famine in Ireland, Harper's Weekly in New York urges Americans to contribute to Irish relief funds. A month later, the USS Constellation is dispatched from New York with over 3,000 barrels of food and articles of clothing destined for the Erin Isle....


    --> March


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