Thursday, February 26, 2015

Did you know that Levi Strauss began his career on the Lower East Side?




Did you know that Levi Strauss began his career on the Lower East Side?

In 1847, at age 18, Levi Strauss (born Leob Strauss, February 26, 1829) left his native home in Bavaria to join his older brothers in NYC, who owned a wholesale dry goods store on the Lower East Side.

By 1853, young Levi received an offer to partner with a businessman who opened a dry goods store in San Fransisco a few years prior. Loaded with goods from the Lower East Side store, Levi packed up and headed to California to take advantage of the booming gold rush industry.

Levi tried to sell canvass he brought from New York, but the material proved to be too thin for tents and wagon covers -- so instead he had a tailor create pants from the material.

Eventually Levi's product became so popular that he had his brothers send him more material, but instead of canvass, they sent him denim -- and the rest is history.

Happy 186th birthday Levi Strauss!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On this day in 1855

On this day in 1855, Bowery Boy leader William "Bill the Butcher" Poole was shot during an altercation with John Morrissey and a group of men at Stanwix Hall (579 Broadway).

He died two weeks later, on March 8, from his wounds.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On this day in 1879, 1965 and 1975

On this day... In 1879, work began on the 2nd Avenue Elevated Train line, with construction at Allen and Division Streets...

In 1965, The Fugs performed at the opening of Peace Eye bookstore at 147 Avenue A...

In 1975, Led Zeppelin released the Physical Graffiti album which features the facade of the building at 98 St. Marks Place.

Monday, February 23, 2015

On this day in 1790, George Washington spent his last day at No. 1 Cherry Street

On this day in 1790, George Washington spent his last day at No. 1 Cherry Street on the Lower East Side, an address which he lived since his Presidential inauguration at Federal Hall on April 23, 1790.

Yes, first executive mansion in the United States of America was on the Lower East Side!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

On this day in 1955, David Axelrod was born on the Lower East Side

On this day in 1955, political advisor David Axelrod was born on the Lower East Side.

Axelrod, former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama (2009-2011), grew up in Stuyvesant Town, and began his political career distributing materials for Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign while attending Stuyvesant High School.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

On this day in 1907, poet W.H. Auden was born

On this day in 1907, poet W.H. Auden was born in York, England.

From 1953-1972, the Pulitzer prize-winning author lived in a "notoriously disheveled" apartment at 77 St. Marks Place -- in the same building Leon Trotsky worked as a journalist for Novy Mir (The New World) magazine in 1917.

Auden, a devout Episcopalian, was a frequent patron of St. Mark’s Church.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

On this day in 1971, Black Sabbath headlined at the Fillmore East

On this day in 1971, Black Sabbath headlined at the Fillmore East, in support of their second album, Paranoid. Tickets cost $3.50 - $5.50.

They sold out two nights, Feb 19 and 20, and were joined by Pig Light Show, J. Geils Band, and Sir Lord Baltimore.

This was the band's second stint at the Fillmore; the first time was on November 10, 1970, oddly opening for Rod Stewart & The Faces.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On this day in 1955, Irving Berlin received a gold medal from President Eisenhower

On this day in 1955, President Eisenhower presented LES-raised songwriter Irving Berlin a gold medal for penning such patriotic hits as "God Bless America."

During World War II, Berlin wrote the musical This is the Army, which raised $10 million for the Army Emergency Relief and later dedicated the copyright for "God Bless America" to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, which has since raised millions of dollars for those organizations.

By the age of eight, Berlin sold newspapers on The Bowery and became a singing waiter at some of the district's rowdiest saloons. During his 60+ year career, he composed over 1000 songs, including the scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood films, earning him eight Academy Award nominations -- making him arguably the most successful songwriter in American history.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

On this day in 1968, Janis Joplin made her NYC debut at the Anderson Theater

On this day in 1968, Janis Joplin made her NYC debut at the Anderson Theater at 66 Second Avenue, opening for B.B. King.

The 25 year old singer of Big Brother & the Holding Company was terrified to perform with such a legend, according to a biographer, nervously stating, "I ain't so sure we're ready for New York... We're just a sloppy group of street freaks."

A couple of weeks later, the band singed a contract with Columbia Records.

Monday, February 16, 2015

On this day in 1884, comedian Joe Smith was born

On this day in 1884, comedian Joe Smith, one half of the Vaudeville team Smith & Dale, was born on the Lower East Side.

Known as the longest partnership in show-business history, Smith & Dale performed together for over 70 years on stage, radio, nightclubs, film and television and was a partial inspiration for Neil Simon's play and movie, The Sunshine Boys.

In this youtube video of a 1950 Cavalcade of Stars sketch, Smith & Dale are joined by Art Carney: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bz5MWj8n-dI

Sunday, February 15, 2015

On this day 2000, 31 protestors were arrested on E. 7th Street

On this day 2000, 31 protestors were arrested on E. 7th Street, as the El Jardin de la Esperanza ("Garden of Hope") was bulldozed.

Dozens of activists had barricaded themselves inside the community garden, which was founded 22 years prior by neighbor Alecia Torres.

Here is a video of the incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Apo1-ZvFKJQ