As I was walking down Broadway I started to think about all the famous people in the past who lived on or near Broadway. You can find out about these stories very easily but maybe you would like to find the answers to the following questions, so read on…
The walk is not inclusive nor will the answers be necessarily close to each other.
Where did the first ball drop on New Years Eve?
What is a “Motogram”?
Does Macy’s own everything?
What do eyes and owls have in common?
Do you know who Stuff and Guff are?
Did you know that you can walk with Gandhi in NYC?
Where in NYC is Bloomingdale Village?
Did the “Breadline” originate in NYC?
A hidden store?
What’s with the Bull?
Let’s start by going down Broadway
Have you ever watched or been at the dropping of the ball on New year’s eve? The celebration has been at Times Square only since 1908 as part of a fireworks display celebrating the NY Times move to 42nd Street. Where was it held before? The ball, used to drop from Trinity Church downtown. A little fact: The Times moved off the Square in 1913, but the name stuck. This is an easy one. Where is the world’s first illuminated news ticker ? Of course the Times Tower – it has been modernized but the news ticker (dubbed the“Motogram”) circles the building; it got its start reporting the 1928 election returns.
Since 1902, the famous department store founded by Capt. Rowland Hussey Macy, a former whaling captain whose red star tattoo is still the store’s symbol (and a whale is still used in sales ads). has taken up (almost) the entire block, this still holds the record for the world’s largest store. Did I just read, “taken up (almost) the entire block? The one part of the block not owned by Macy’s is, ironically, the southeast corner with the enormous “Macy’s” sign on it. When Macy’s was buying up the block, competitor Henry Siegel of the Siegel-Cooper department store snatched up the corner. Macy’s simply built around the holdout, and now leases the space Do you know who Stuff and Guff are? The James Gordon Bennett Memorial. This monument marks the location of the former New York Herald building, torn down in 1921. James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the newspaper’s publisher, was obsessed with owls: he kept a few live ones in his office, collected stuffed specimens, and had even planned to be buried in a 125-foot owl-shaped tomb in Washington Heights, perched on a 75-foot pedestal. Also, Bennett had the roof of the Herald building adorned with bronze owl statues, whose eyes lit up when nearby clocks tolled the hour. When the building was razed, its statuary was saved along with its clocks (whose working components date back to 1895). They were later incorporated into the monument to Bennett, built in 1940. The bellringers, which swing their hammers on the hour, are nicknamed Stuff and Guff. Let’s get a bit closer. Perched on top of the James Gordon Bennett monument are a pair of bronze owls. And throughout the night, every second or two… their eyes light up a brilliant shade of eerie green:Nowadays, the eyes blink continually throughout the night, alternating about every other second. If you go at night you will see the glowing green eyes watching your every move.’
Not quite finished with monument… Is there a Secret Society that uses a room below this monument? At the back of the monument is steel door that is locked and has a “French Saying” which is translated idiomatically as “Let’s sleep on it.” The door also has a moon, an owl, and 5 five-pointed stars has led conspiracy theorists to claim it as evidence of Bennett’s involvement in a secret society (apparently, owls are a common motif). The fact that there is no known explanation for it certainly adds fuel to the fire
Village of Bloomingdale in NYC? At 23rd Street and Broadway (Broadway was then known as Bloomingdale Road and went north to Bloomingdale Village (Around 114th Street) You would catch a stage to Albany from this location. Also, Broadway from 23rd Street down to 10th Street was called the “Ladies Mile” for its fashionable stores
FLatiron Building (23rd Street)
Ever hear of phrase “23 Skidoo” or certainly the word “Scram”?
. It is said that the building created unusual eddies in the wind which would cause women’s skirts to fly around as they walked on 23rd street. This attracted throngs of young men who gathered to view the barelegged spectacle. Police would try to disperse these knots of heavy-breathers by calling to them, “23 Skidoo.” This phrase has passed out of common usage, but its descendant, the word “scram” remains in a back corner of the American lexicon.
Would you like to walk along side of Ghandhi?
You will find him inside Union Square park (14th Street)
Placed here in 1986 to commemorate Union Square’s history of (mostly) non-violent protest. The statue of Ghandhi depicts him on his famous Salt March, and there’s flagstones in the garden beside his statue that invite you to march along with him.
A few other interesting Items
The Grace Church is one of NYC’s jewels.The church yard, at the corner, was once Fleischmann’s Vienna Model Bakery, whose daily donations of unsold bread gave rise to the term “breadline.”
A secret store hidden on Broadway at the corner of east 2nd Street there is secret store called Nom de Guerre. Behind a door marked with a sign for a copy shop is a black staircase that leads to two subterranean stories of really expensive streetwear. The building dates to 1897
Nestled between two government buildings (Reade Street) is the old African Burial Ground (1712-1795), which the federal government tried to relocate. After protests prevented the move, it became a National Historic Landmark in 1993.
This is no Bull of a story This popular statue was cast in bronze by Arturo Di Modica and left by the artist in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Broad Street in 1987 as an unasked-for Christmas gift to the city in the wake of a recent stock market crash. The city impounded the sculpture as a 7,000-pound act of vandalism, but public support for the artwork and the gesture compelled the parks department to re install it here.