Tag Archives: history

Life and Death: August 16th

16 Aug

August 16, 2014

These famous people died on August 16th:

1948: Babe Ruth

1949: Margaret Mitchell

1956: Bela Lugosi

1959: Admiral “Bull” Halsey

1977: Elvis Presley

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These famous people were born on August 16th:

1954: James Cameron

1958: Madonna

1962: Steve Carell

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Hardly seems like a fair trade, does it?

 

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Two Minutes in Canada

25 Jul

July 25, 2014

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Americans have always looked towards Canada with fear and mistrust. But all that worry really just hides our own national insecurity. If Canada is America’s funny hat, what does it say about us? Why would we, as a nation, wear such a hat? Is America hiding a bald spot? Is it a hipster?

Fear not, Americans, the good ol’ US of A still has a full head of hair. It turns out that Canada is more than just a geographic chapeau; it has a rich history all its own, one that many of us who live under the Canadian brim are not aware of.

Being so far north, Canada has more than its share of hardships: Ice, snow, even many people who speak French. And worst of all, despite being so far north, Santa Claus shows it no special treatment and usually delivers Canadian presents last, on his way back to the North Pole.

But what do we learn about Canada in school? Fur trading. Canada has a lot of fur traders. At least it did back when the text books took place.

First, Americans traded with the Native American Indian* trappers.
Then, they traded with French fur traders.
December 10, 1984: New York Mets traded Hubie Brooks to the Montreal Expos for Gary Carter.

*Notice they don’t call them “Native Canadian Indians.”

Why was there so much trapping in Canada? Beavers. There were so many beaver dams in Canada that in 1833, official records show that a full 63% of Canada was underwater.

FUN FACT: The Montreal Expos were named after the expo, a small burrowing mammal hunted to extinction by French fur traders.

 

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Picture Postcard: 7up and Kentile Signs

12 May

May 12, 2013

New York can sometimes seem like a city of non-stop progress to those who don’t live here, but to New Yorkers, it is less a city of gleaming skyscrapers and more of a city of hidden enclaves. This is one of the not-so hidden ones. Most people have heard of Little Italy in Manhattan, but the Bronx boasts its own little Italy, on a stretch of Arthur Avenue. As I was walking down the avenue, I spotted an interesting sign down the street and sprinted over to see it up close. This is a very old 7up sign, on 187th street two blocks off Arthur Avenue.

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There just aren’t many old signs like that left in the city, and the ones you do find often aren’t intact. I don’t know if this still lights up, and unfortunately I may never know as the luncheonette it is attached to is closed and empty, for sale. Luncheonettes are also a dying breed.

Here is the full street scene:

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And here’s a dramatic shot of the other side of the sign, showing that both sides are intact:

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And here’s a bonus. Last week, the iconic Kentile sign by the Gowanus canal and BQE highway in Brooklyn was lit up for the first time in years. This sign has been unlit for decades, but a tech company aimed lasers at it and lit it up from a distance for one night only. This isn’t just an old sign lit up again, this is an old sign lit up by focused laser beams.

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