Posts Tagged ‘new york’


What event am I noting today?

September 30, 2015

hellgatebridgepostcardThe Hell Gate Bridge over the East River in New York was opened on September 30, 1916.

The Hell Gate Bridge (originally the New York Connecting Railroad Bridge or The East River Arch Bridge) is a 1,017-foot (310 m)steel through arch railroad bridge in New York City. The bridge crosses the Hell Gate, a strait of the East River, between Astoria in Queens and Randalls and Wards Islands in Manhattan.

The bridge is the largest of three bridges that form the Hell Gate complex. An inverted bowstring truss bridge with four 300-foot (91.4 m) spans crosses the Little Hell Gate (now filled in); and a 350-foot (106.7 m) fixed truss bridge crosses the Bronx Kill (now narrowed by fill). Together with approaches, the bridges are more than 17,000 feet (3.2 mi; 5.2 km) long.

hell gate

This bridge was the inspiration for the design of Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia, which is about 60 percent larger.

The bridge was conceived in the early 1900s to link New York and the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) with New England and the New Haven Railroad (NH).

Construction was overseen by Gustav Lindenthal, whose original design left a gap of 15 feet (4.6 m) between the steel arch and the masonry towers. Fearing that the public assumed that the towers were structurally integral to the bridge, Lindenthal added aesthetic girders between the upper chord of the arch and the towers to make the structure appear more robust. The original plans for the piers on the long approach ramps called for a steel lattice structure. The design was changed to smooth concrete to soothe concerns that asylum inmates on Wards and Randall’s islands would climb the piers to escape.


The engineering was so precise that when the last section of the main span was lifted into place, the final adjustment needed to join everything together was just 12 inch (13 mm). Construction of the Hell Gate Bridge began on March 1, 1912 and ended on September 30, 1916. It was the world’s longest steel arch bridge until the Bayonne Bridge opened in 1931, and was surpassed again by the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932.

During World War II, it was among the dozen or so targets of economic value of significant enough importance to attract the attention of Nazi German sabotage planners. The Nazis’ Operation Pastorius landed German agents on US soil in 1942 in hopes of wrecking the bridge and other key targets. (Operation Pastorius failed due to detection of some landing activity by US shore patrols and subsequent defections among some of the German landing team’s members to the Allied side.)

In the 1990s, the bridge was repainted for the first time since it opened. It was painted a deep red called “Hell Gate Red”. Due to a flaw in the paint, however, the red color began to fade before the work was completed, leading to the bridge’s currently faded, splotchy appearance.

The bridge would be the last New York City bridge to collapse if humans disappeared, taking at least a millennium to do so, according to the February 2005 issue of Discover magazine. Most other bridges would fall in about 300 years.

hell gate lionel

Lionel has a wonderful model of this bridge (which I covet).

The article was copied from Wikipedia because I thought the whole thing was interesting.


What am I conjuring on tattoo Tuesday?

December 23, 2014

magic books

If you are curious about the history of conjuring arts, or want to brush up on your card tricks, the Conjuring Arts Research Center in New York may have what you are looking for . . .

When Bill Kalush, a former magician, founded the Conjuring Arts Research Center in New York City, he wanted to create a place that “was available for anyone . . . to be able to come in and find some of the rarest material — the things that you couldn’t find, almost anywhere else in the world,” as he told PRI. The materials’ subject? The ancient arts of magic and deception.

Kalush has assembled books dating from the 15th century until now. The books themselves are available for members of the public to look through, but Kalush is also digitizing them and translating them, PRI says. (Many are in Persian, French, Italian or another language.)

The oldest book is De viribus quantitates by Luca Pacioli, which is still being translated from its original Latin. So far, the library includes scans of about 2.5 million pages of various books. All of them are accessible through the center’s database, called Ask Alexander. The center also has around 20,000 letters written by magicians, PRI writes, some of which include tricks of the trade, others the gossip of the day.

The center is open to the public, but visitors looking for insight on perfecting their card tricks or conjuring up white rabbits must make an appointment first. There might be a wait, however. As Kalush told PRI: “We try to keep it as mysterious as possible and we do have an awful lot of interesting people visit.”

More Here.
magic bullwinkleWant to see me pull a rabbit out of my hat?


 And the tattoos:





Who discovered what today?

July 29, 2014

10_Samuel de ChamplainLake Champlain was discovered by Samuel de Champlain on July 29, 1609, during one of his expeditions to North America.

lake champlain1

The lake was named after the French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who encountered it in 1609. While the ports of Burlington, Vermont; Port Henry, New York; and Plattsburgh, New York are little used nowadays except by small craft, ferries and lake cruise ships, they had substantial commercial and military importance in the 18th and 19th centuries.

For some fascinating information about Samuel de Champlain, click this link.

The Champlain Valley is the northernmost unit of a landform system known as the Great Appalachian Valley, which system stretches from Quebec to Alabama. The Champlain Valley itself is a physiographic section of the larger Saint Lawrence Valley, which in turn is part of the larger Appalachian physiographic division.

lake champlain ferry

Lake Champlain Ferry – Burlington, VT to Port Kent, NY





What am I watching?

May 21, 2014

What am I celebrating?

February 2, 2013

645px-Grand_central_Station_Outside_NightThe Centennial of Grand Central Terminal in New York City, which officially opened on February 2, 1913.

More here in this video of Grand Central’s secrets by the New York Times.

And here at Grand Central Terminal:  Guess who’s turning 100?



What battle am I commemorating today?

September 8, 2012

The Battle of Lake George, September 8, 1755.  This battle was actually a collection of skirmishes fought on and around Lake George in northern New York, and was part of the effort to force the French from North America.  All of these conflicts are within the context of the French and Indian War (in North America) and the Seven Years War (in Europe).

It is interesting that, although called the French and Indian War, native soldiers were engaged in the fighting on both sides of the conflict in North America.  In addition to shaping the political interests in the early years of our nation (and Canada), the French and Indian War also brought leaders such as George Washington to the forefront, while foreshadowing the lessening of British dominance in the area.