Arecent encounter with the first half-hour or so of Jane Eyre, The Musical put me in mind of the 1857 murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell. (The connection won’t immediately be apparent.) A friend with a professional interest in seeing the show had asked me along, and since she’d paid for the tickets and wanted to leave, we did–well before the act break–driven out by the inexorable staccato of the leading lady’s enunciation. The show had not been exceptionally or unexpectedly appalling, but it made you realize that it’s possible to get anything produced on Broadway these days, provided it has a child in it. Absolutely anything. People are desperate to get their offspring out of the house, and anything with a kid in it is considered family fare.
This re-emergence of the child as live attraction may be a by-product of the current baby boom. But it has its roots, I think, in the Burdell affair and its aftermath.
New York’s first great police detective was Thomas F. Byrnes. A largely self-educated Irish immigrant, Byrnes joined the force in 1863. He rose to sergeant by 1869 and captain by 1870. In 1878, the Manhattan Savings Bank, which was in his precinct, was robbed. Byrnes took the robbery
My first “Old Smoke” column recounted the adventures of the Hon. John Morrissey, Congressman and heavyweight boxing champion of the United States, who once, according to the Philadelphia Bulletin, told the House of Representatives that he “had reached the height of my ambition. I have been a wharf rat, chicken
The luxury apartment building at 1155 Park Ave. was brand new in 1915. Among its first tenants was Maude King, a boozy, scatterbrained wealthy widow from Chicago. She rented three neighboring apartments on the tenth floor for $9,000 a year. Mrs. King lived in one, her sister lived
On March 12, 1956, Jesus de Galindez, a lecturer in Spanish and government at Columbia University, conducted a graduate seminar in Hamilton Hall on Latin American government. At 10 p.m., he entered the subway at 57th Street and 8th Avenue. He was never seen or heard from again. As Galindez
Giuseppe Petrosino, who Americanized his name to Joseph, was born in Padula, near Salerno, in 1860. His family emigrated to America in 1873. While shining shoes near police headquarters on Mulberry Street, he conceived a desire to be a cop. The cops didn’t want him, however. He was
Around 11:55 a.m. on Thursday, September 16, 1920, an old single-top wagon, drawn by an elderly dark bay horse, plodded westward on Wall Street. It stopped about seventy-five feet from Broad, near the offices of J.P. Morgan & Co. at 23 Wall Street.
The day was lovely: clear and
Every August 6 for more than three decades, an attractive older woman entered a Greenwich Village bar that had been a restaurant back in the Jazz Age. She sat alone in a booth and ordered two cocktails. She raised one, murmured, “Good luck, Joe, wherever you are,” drank it slowly