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tv   American History TV  CSPAN  September 27, 2014 2:00pm-3:41pm EDT

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explores the evolution of first ladies fashion. let us know what you think about the programs you are watching. us to marino comments at or send us a tweet. join the c-span conversation. like us on facebook. follow us on twitter. >> american history tv, authored donald miller explores manhattan's transformation in the 1920's from an urban backwater to the cultural capital of the united states. "supreme author of city: how jazz age manhattan gave birth to modern america." he describes ambitious individuals such as walter chrysler, who oversaw the skies bigger building boom. we also hear about the creation of cultural and architectural
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feats that are now a comic symbols of new york city. this event was hosted by the new york public library, and last about 90 minutes. >> thank you, lois. i want to thank the library for organizing this event. can you guys hear me in the back? can you hear me now? no? yes? i will speak loudly. it is great to be in the city, lecturing on the city that he wrote about. in the very place in the city that you wrote about -- midtown manhattan. a couple of preliminaries before we roll into this illustrated talk. i like that better than powerpoint, as a term. i'm not good at powerpoint. luddite, i'm i'm a
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just a technological idiot. not the book i originally set out to right. the original idea was to do the whole city. all five boroughs, and stretch it out from world war i to world war ii. cute, itrying to be too took to bigger bite out of the apple. i discovered, as i was doing my research, that i was really drawn to a really compelling story within the larger story i had intended to tell. it is an untold story, actually. it has been told in bits and pieces. has never been stitched together as a compelling historical narrative. -- theory is the rise sudden and spectacular rise of midtown manhattan in the 1920's.
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backwater before 1919. there wasn't a single skies group are above 42nd street. by the end of the 1920's, almost half of new york skies group or is worried midtown -- skyscrapers were in midtown. inis one of the great booms the world. this irruption that occurs in ption thats -- eru occurs in these years. i take on the building of midtown manhattan. it was really a construction project. there was all sorts of cultural spillage. a tremendous revolution. it is a book with a lot of characters, a lot of incidents, and some adjusting stories. -- interesting stories. let me begin with this.
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300 years, downtown dominated new york city. -- for 300 years, downtown dominated new york city. it was only following the war that midtown began to take off. it kind of calm and aided in the building -- culminated in the building of this building. it was the first terrific we tall building north of 42nd street. tall buildingy north 42nd street. nbc and cbs were founded. radio went national. grand central station had been completed in 1913. apogee of the period was in 1927. a lot of the book centers on the
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year. this is 1927, the year that lindenberg returned from his solo flight from roosevelt field on long island to paris. he returns to the nations capital in washington, and then to new york city, where over 2 million people crowded the streets to see it. -- oops, hit1927 the wrong button. the tempo of the city changed dramatic way. f. scott fitzgerald put it best. the morals were looser, the liquor was cheaper. the jazz age raged on under its own power, served by great filling stations full of money. i wish i could have written that. then, in this year, and in this decade, the vanguard of cultural and technological transformation that would make
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the 20 century the american century. and make new york the quintessential city of the earliest 20th century. the rise of commercial radio and talking movies in 1927, you had the invention of television. you had the beginning of tabloid journalism with the new york daily news, the first american tabloid founded by joseph patterson of the patterson family in chicago. you have the spread of radio and of thisphic records -- pulsating new urban music called jazz. i featured duke ellington in this book. you have the emergence of yankee stadium, of mass spectator sports. the enormously important boxing matches staged at madison square garden, and other venues. ellington sums it up. the duke says that new york was
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the capital of everything. the little happens in country unless somebody in new york presses a button. and so it is. it is a story, in other words, of an urban resolution -- revolution. i try to tell it with people. i try to tell the story through about three dozen characters. it's like a playbill at the beginning of the book. most of them are blazingly ambitious strivers from west of the hudson, and east of the data of -- danube. it was eb white of the new yorker who wrote about this phenomenon, of outsiders coming in and transforming the place. it's the same thing in my book on chicago. in, same sort of thing.
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rights in a beautiful book called here is new york, which a lot of you have probably read, he says it is the person that was born elsewhere and came to new york in quest of something that accounts for new york's high strung disposition, its political deportment, his dedication to the arts, and its powerful achievements. at achievements they were. -- and achievements they were. white, butite -- maybe the most important inspiration for me was a frenchman. he said that every american is eaten up with a longing to rise. arise with that in mind. he came from a belarusian village that was so backward, it was medieval. he couldn't speak a word of english. and he becomes the founder of modern mass medication. and he does it, and takes of her
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rca before he is 40 years old. -- takes over rca. you have a saloon keeper from the canadian klondike, who built the modern madison square garden. he taught boxing promoters a lasting lesson -- you can't have a good fight without a good audience. you can't have a good spectacle fight unless you build around a story. i try to deal with that in the book. right next to him is the great jack dempsey. two guys turned boxing into a million-dollar business. he had $5 billion gates in the 1920's. the next million dollar gate would occur in the 1970's. -- $5 million gates in the 1920's. you had patterson coming in from chicago founding the daily news on a shoestring. by 1927, it barely survives. it is the largest selling
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newspaper in the world by 1927. there he is, a truant from the baltimore docks. it place called pig town. sport asormed his fundamentally as jack dempsey transformed boxing. he turned it from small ball, into long ball. dempsey, he was a big hit her. new yorkers seem to like that. the guys who could put it on the canvas and put people in the seats. ,hen i tried to do in the book just a second on methodology. city asto reimagine the it was back then. , and back there in my mind to describe the lives of my characters not as i see them from the present, and as they live them. to try to get behind their eyes.
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everyone tells you history gives you perspective, because you have hindsight. but hindsight to be a killer. -- can be a killer. if you know the great depression is coming, you organize your book so that it leads to that. nobody in the 20's new was coming. that is the problem with that kind of history. the most inaccurate phrase in the english language is the foreseeable future. the future can never before seen. was unimaginable to new yorkers that the greatest urban building boom in modern history would soon collapse. it's collapse was shocking and sudden. here, high living jimmy walker, who committed new york in these years, that he be brought low by charges of to resign.and forced walker is one of the major
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characters in this book. he is fun to write about. avoid -- most articles on walker tend to substitute analysis for anecdote. or anecdote for analysis. they don't get into him it. he is really an adjusting guy. his heart was in the right place, but he didn't have the energy and moral courage to stand up to the mob bosses. he got involved in a lot of corruption. they never put a single charge on him. they investigated him from his nose to his toes, and they couldn't put a charge on him that was triable in a court of law. the pressure from roosevelt, governor of new york at the time, rusher from al smith -- pressure from al smith forced him out of office. he is a great character. a quick wit. he learned everything through his ears.
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they would read off, here's what you do, here's what you say. here is what the issues are. he would go in and say it. good impromptu speaker, too. through parties. and thehe yarmulke on, crowd asked circumcision next? and he said no ma'am, a proponent -- i prefer to wear it on. [applause] [laughter] isa great part of my book centered on tammany politics. i deal a lot with prohibition. i deal with organized crime it. i deal with boxing, i do with baseball. tonight and want to focus on not the whole book. if you try to summarize, you compress and kill it. i want to deal with the central
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drama, the building of this town and the cultural revolution that a company that. -- accompanied it. a century ago, a group of audacious drivers set out to build a modern downtown, and they did it right. the story begins with grand central station. completed in 1913. this project, this is a digging operation. it is enormous. -- notn operation cannot quite on the scale of the panama canal, but pretty close. the effort to build this terminal, while the old terminal still operated, is set in motion by a crisis. the worst train disaster in new york city history at the time of. a commuter train was in an underground tunnel, they failed to spot warning lights, and they slammed into the rear of another train waiting in the railyard.
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the carnage was terrible. the new york central railroad was forced by the state legislature to electrify its trains. guy,at point in time, this william willis, the george washington midtown manhattan. chiefthe railroads engineer. he has vision. he not only electrify the trains, but he buried the tracks. he goes a step further. ,e convinces his superiors mostly vanderbilts, to build a new, state-of-the-art terminal. a great people moving machine. and a stateless building. underground passageways that lead to subway stations. also, there is a lot of smart shops along the passageways. new yorkers are talking about
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reviving these in a big way. hotelsnnect to adjacent and commercial buildings. that is what the city needs if it has density. you need to move density, you need to move people. the caller like roadway that runs around grand central, and the aqueduct roadway that runs into it. and then the building beyond it, the first drive-through building in the history of the world. for half a century, this is what the area north of the station looked like. all the way up to 56th street. from 42nd street to east 56th street. it is a gigantic railyard, it just spans out here. it onrians had to cross those iron crossways there. over catwalks, as they called them, breathing smoke and dust --, and things like that.
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ash, and things like that. there is no grid there. manhattan's grid is gone. there no streets there in manhattan. close to the river, there might -- a brewing company. this is what it became it. williams that we will do is, on the roof of these smokeless build on realll estate that the railroad owns. as ellald park avenue, fitzgerald wrote. it was in the earlier's flanked by tall apartments, very restrained. there are a lot of common cornice lines. these are the first guy strippers built for permanent --
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skyscrapers built for permanent living. they do this by selling their air rights to developers. with revenue plucked from the air, we can create a veritable city. he called it a terminal city. the city around the terminal. we can make money for the railroad, and build a butyl section of the city. while this is going on, there are big happenings on fifth avenue. it was called vanderbilt alley before the war. ran to central park with vandergrift mansions, some of them a block wide. sunday, 1913. a lot of the commanding
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, a lot of the older vanderbilts had died in 1921. their widows of these mansions, and couldn't keep them up. some of them have the money to do it, but it was hard to hire a irish made. maid. a group of real estate agents, former garment workers from the lower east side, come in and buy these mansions. the day after they bought them, they tear them down. they tear everything 01 down except one within a year. banality isdor clear of these -- vanderbilt alley is clear of these mansions. they sell the land to merchandising & reos. empresarios. they turned it into the grid a shopping area in the country.
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the entire stretch of the avenue looks something like this. this is the vanderbilt mansion. alice vanderbilts lived there. it is right across from the park. -- ska sex fifth avenue aks fifth avenue. goodland, who was a government worker from rochester new york -- a garment worker from rochester new york, who , he movedtaylor shop uptown. tailoring has ever gone this far uptown. you are in vanderbilt country up on central park east. but he leases the property, and eventually buys it and controls that whole property.
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he and his wife lived in a penthouse on the top floor of the store. by new york law, custodians weren't permitted to live in a city's industrial buildings. industrial buildings, because women's made dresses on the sixth floor. jimmy walker is a friend, and gets the goodmans listed as custodians. they had to be the richest janitors in the history of the world. it pays to know people. this is the regal stretch of fifth avenue, as it is transformed in the 20's. these two women i will be talking about had a lot to do with it. newest new york business. by 1935, it was the eighth largest business in the country. it was called the beauty business. cosmetics. founded by elizabeth arden, came
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to new york on her own. it is also found by helena rubinstein, who was born in a ghetto. her father was a kerosene dealer. they built their shops close together on fifth avenue, and they were venomous rivals. they have their shops within two blocks of each other for 40 years, never spoke to each other. arden the called other one. and complained that she dyed her hair. york, they arrived in new only actresses and fast living and working girls wore makeup. by the mid-20's, powder and paint had become badges of independence. you not only put it on in the powder and of but you put it on in public. that was a sign of real audacity. beauty business becomes one of the largest industries in the country.
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american women were spending more on beauty products in 1927, mostly women's beauty products, then all of america was spending on electric power. lots of opportunities for entrepreneurship too. if you were working in the city in the 20's, you made 17 bucks a day. about $70 ated to week, -- $17 a week, make that $170 that week today. if you were a graduate of one of these beauty culture schools, you could, on your own, support . family of four there were lots of opportunities for entrepreneurship. most enjoyable things about writing this book was getting to know these and other independent ended women.
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-- minded women. carnegie, because she saw a steel magnet coming over an immigrant like herself. there were jewish and italian american women in the garment industry. dealing with writers. my personal favorite, lowest -- lois longt long of the new yorker. she had column called lipstick. by any -- more than any other columnist helped to launch the america's first sophisticated cosmopolitan museum -- magazine. i prepared a feature on these women of new york, which i have appear. -- up here, and you don't have
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to pay for it. appreciated the wonderful things a reviewer in the new york times wrote about my book, i was really shocked by -- with exceptions, the women tend to appear in miller's book as client showgirls and prostitutes. that is a gross misrepresentation. there isn't a single prostitute in the book. one wonders. whilethis is going on, arden and goodman on these people are transporting fifth avenue, -- transforming fifth avenue, and vanderbilt -- anne vanderbilt moved from this area of town. they move all the way across
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town to set in place. they take a decrepit neighborhood, and they gentrified. they make it a community of women dedicated to philanthropy. and then write down the way from there, fred french, you saw his skyscraper earlier. he builds a community -- an affordable community for in town living. it is still there. i think as an overlooked model of affordable in town living. it is a parklike area. he used to have a golf course. fred french's papers are here at the new york public library. they are very good. , the grandarea then central area, fifth avenue, sutton place, all along the shore of the east river from queensboro bridge down past 42nd
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street, it is all transformed. this is a shot more representative of the parklike atmosphere they attempted to create there. about this time, walter chrysler comes in. we know a lot about the chrysler building. one of my editors said there was a walter chrysler? yes. there was a will to chrysler. one of my student -- a walter chrysler. where iy student that's was going, and i said d-day, and he said the rock group? chrysler is one of these drivers. he is born on a campus prairie, the scent of a railroad mechanic, and he becomes a railroad mechanic. autohen he gets in the business, takes over buick, and then forms the chrysler corporation. he wants to establish his headquarters in new york. when he does that, he wants to
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moment, hehe capping was to create the tallest building in the world. this is four years after introducing his first car. it was called the chrysler six. at the time he is throwing up --s building in 9027, 1928 1927, 1928, there is a building with the sameown idea. the owners there had the same aim in mind. this instigates what i call a sky race. a lavishly publicized competition to see who is going to build the first building taller than the eiffel tower. the tallest building in the world. everyone thought that is both buildings were nearing completion, everyone figured that 40 wall had won the day. but chrysler ordered the
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construction inside the building, in secret, of a thing called the vertex. that is this deal needle on the top. it is about 180 feet high. tower,uilt inside the in then one october morning, 1929, they raised it up. it wasn't even covered in the papers. chrysler makes an announcement that -- gotcha. [laughter] when they threw it up, the architect stood four blocks away and watched it, and he thought it would fall down. when it is raise, it is 77 stories high, at 1046 feet tall, it is the highest structure ever built. but only for 11 months, when it was topped by the empire state building. then allen, no one has heard of
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the guy. i came across a great quote from a british designer. he says it is inconsistent that namesrkers don't know the of their most really architects. -- brilliant architects. the chrysler building, called hot jazz in stone and steel, is a near perfect representation of mid-manhattan style and speed. if it's the ed -- it fits the idea of seeing biographies of the builders in the buildings they create. monticello would be a classic example of that. this steel that doesn't rust for the drama. if you have been into the building, use the the terrific ceiling mural.
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right across the street from the grand ceiling ural in grand central station. there are images of the actual construction workers who sweated this thing out, and risked their lives laboring to build the building. i think it is new york's commanding symbol, this mural, to the workers who built its art deco skies papers. if you go diagonally across the street from the chrysler building, you are at the cannon building. whole area ise beginning to emerge by 1930. it is 56 stories high. when it was built, just before the chrysler building, it was the tallest building on 42nd street. this is the auto biographical part. just got out of the army. he is broke and jobless. he is the sun of immigrants from ukraine. he builds to small cottages and ben hirst.
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he makes a little money, he moves into midtown, he built a couple of theaters and a hotel. years after 1919, as a very young man, under 40, he is a multimillionaire builder. the master of the midtown skyline. he is being touted as one of new york's 100 wonderment's. the lobby is terrific. it is dedicated to the theme of new york as city of opportunity. with channon's own life, he designed it. he is a self-made architect. he used his own life as an example of this. -- he loved the theater. he built theaters. he wanted this building to be part of the city as theater. so he puts up 200 floodlights, and he installs them in one of the buildings dramatic setbacks.
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it is brilliantly illuminating the tower at night. from new jersey, it looks like an island at night, floating in the sky. and there is channon himself. i was giving a lecture at the new york historical society, and his daughter was in the audience. and his granddaughter. by 1930, they were calling 42nd street the valley of the giants. in common or vanderbilts day, it was a street of small factories, smelly stockyards, railroads. by 1930, the only thing that is manufactured there was spectacular quantities of tension. paterson's daily news building, of course, the chrysler building, the channon building, the lincoln building.
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the important thing to mention ise is that capitalism driving this. but these freestanding towers are not pure products. of unrestrained capitalism. they are built to the specifications of zoning laws, designed to bring sunlight onto the city streets and prevent overcrowding of the land through the setbacks. working within these restraints, created by the zoning laws, raymond hood, who designed paterson's newly news building and other style setters create -- i don't recall it. it doesn't have a name like paris architecture. it is a distinctly new york style of architecture. style born of necessity. we didn't want to do it, we had to do it, and we did it come and it was done well.
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hood himself. one of the great style setters in new york city. island, up in new rhode and commuted into the city. you see the dramatic setbacks in the fred french building. and 5ththe corner 45th avenue. a couple friends of mine worked in that building. i never spend too much time in it. i came across it in a novel called underworld. these two characters go into the gleaming lobby, and they turned to each other, a woman and her daughter, and say who on earth was fred french? there is a story there. fred french was a real estate visionary, and the salesman extraordinaire. what he sold, and he sold it with a fervor of a revivalist preacher, was stock.
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not for big-time billionaires and millionaires, but stock for you and i. he turned the stock company into a profitable real estate company as well. and sold that stock with tremendous fervor. he starts out a lot like channon. he comes out of nowhere. he starts out peddling real estate years before. in thea coal cellar bronx, where he lived with his mom. by 1927, 10 years later, he is worth $10 million. channon, iser, like autobiographical. out, andke binoculars my book is a cool thing in it. -- it has a map of new york. you press on the button, and up pops the fred french building with a picture of fred french, and of the building.
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if you go to my website, you can walk around new york. 35 architectural spots popping up on you. it's free. slabu look on that slender , and you look there, closely at the top, the commanding symbol is the rising sun. that civilize his renewal. that is what fred french is all about. this guy never stopped believing in himself. even when he failed, and he failed from and to sleep during the great depression. during the great depression. he died in 1936, age 53. he had a net worth of less than $100,000. fred french, to me, some of these buildings are little too tall. i like the building right on the street.
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building, which is now a hotel. it from theognize georgia o'keeffe painting of it. it is only 21 stories tall. black brick. right here in west 40th street, built in 1924. hood's first new york skyscraper. built to because it is human scale. it is open to the sun, it is open to the air, it has a nice park. across the street from a neoclassical library. there is at night. -- there it is at night. new york was just a gigantic construction site in midtown in the 1920's. the din of these rivet guns caused a stir, the city studded to get involved in trying to
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control it. but like the building of a medieval cathedral, that is what it reminded me of. building in new york skyscraper was really a thrilling public spectacle. it was a technological show. it takes place right out in the open. right in the heart of town. some spectators would arrive at the scene with binoculars, and try to watch these little and t like men onn the girders. they were heroes. -- it is an the 20's lisbon this, a construction site. it was spectacularly active. it was a street theater sort of thing. when you see guys doing this or of stuff, these are the sky boys. fascinating most spectacle for people to watch. these guys worked without
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hardhats or safety harnesses. the riveting gangs, this is one of the guys there. therefore guys in the riveting gang. a heater, catcher, but her up, and a gunman. these guys would have charcoal heaters like you have in the backyard. they keep the rivets in there. the guy would go in until they got a cherry red color. and then a guy would go in there ngs, andse songs -- tog flip the rivet to a catcher. bucket,es it in his and then if the catcher misses , orit either hits them falls below -- this malevolent missile capable of driving a steaming hole in someone's head.
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the catcher then places the rivet between two beams. up holdsr -- bucker pressure, the gun man puts pressure on the rivet, until the rivet is smashed into a mushroom like cap against the steel. the entire operation takes less than one minutes. it is dangerous work. iron workers suffered one violent death on average every 33 hours on the job. one guy told me, we don't die, we got killed. indians from a reservation near montréal did a lot of this work on the chrysler building. they lived in brooklyn. they embraced the danger. it enhanced their self-esteem in a culture where women are the main decision-makers. forbiddenes are still
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workch their husbands' belts, which are symbols of theal potency, especially piece that fits over the crotch. there was a legend floating around new york that they did this work because they are genetically coded to do it. like blacks can jump higher, indians aren't afraid of heights -- stupid stuff. that fearlessness came naturally to them. when you talk to these guys, it was all a learned trait. they came about it after years of experience and lots of falls. the work did give them a sense of ownership. i didn't just want to deal with millionaires in this book. i deal with the dockworkers, the scuba doors. and guys like this. and women in the garment factories. this work gave these guys at least a sense of ownership.
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as one of them said to me, we are part of this town of man-made mounds. we are mountain builders. townof them lived across in hells kitchen. an area of poverty. on the east side, poverty tended to be a one generation experience. catchkitchen was like a basin the people who never made it. irish and german predominantly. you really got out of hells kitchen. you got out two ways -- sports and crime. i'm not going to talk at length about this. this is big bill dwyer, who runs a syndicate in new york. i thought the big guys were lucky luciano, guys like that. dwyer, it was a former chelsea
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longshoreman, forms a syndicate with this fellow here. frank castillo. later named prime minister of the underworld and leader of the mafia. this is before then. when he hooked up with dwyer. he is an immigrant from collaborative. fellow is an irishman from england. prohibition gave these small-town hoods the opportunity to become -- to create a million-dollar industry. they had an arsenal of lawyers, oceangoing vessels, even had an airplane. , thearrested the guys first prohibition pilots. wires that we are not going to worry about the coast guard, we are going to buy them off all the we down to washington. he bought off the coast guard. they could bring their boats right into the harbor. later they brought the booze in an coast guard boats. [laughter]
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and guess who would unload it? new york release. -- police. it onif they unloaded montauk point, they had paid off all of long island's police force. just to be sure, they had five sicilians with stilettos and machine guns in the car. when you got to the new york border, they transfer the booze to larger trucks. the runningnto boards, they had running boards then. they would take it to the factories, where they cut the booze. one quart of vodka would be turned into five quarts of water down vodka. quintuple in the projects -- the products. blockd a brewery one long, and one block wide, in the middle of hell's kitchen. they could never nail him. it was a fortresslike structure.
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he had men control a brewery. new york cops patrolled the building as well, and when federal agents would come to town, the cops would arrest them for loitering. through, andke slammed through the gates, madden would open a switch, and intof the logger would go the sewer system. so they had no evidence on him at. he was protected by a tammany boss, or he shouldn't have pulled off something like this. there was the occasional raid, but that was about it. the outlets that madden controlled were controlled by wooden -- and women. born silent film star. she said whenever same this -- we never changed the scripts, we
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only change the horses. her club was at midtown, and madden owned part of it. -- ride write around around, stop at the club, pick up the profits. she was shrewd, she didn't drink, she was a devout catholic and invested your money wisely. she helped give rise to the idea that all american women supported prohibition. and it is much to bring down prohibition as anyone else in the country. there she is in a drawing at her club, where jimmy walker was of course there. he would ride around in this do some bird -- dussenberg. movies wereer modeled on him. this --in a city like it needs two things.
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it needs density, diversity. but that can lead to congestion. so you need movements. while all this is going on, this is my problem with what was going on with the debates in the last mayoral election about will happen to the east side of midtown. -- peoplescraper it are saying there is not enough public transportation to build those. and there isn't. boomhile this skyscraper was done, they did it right. they were building the six avenue sub, they were building the west side highway. they were building the holland tunnel and the george washington bridge. and here's the guy who built the holland tunnel, clifford holland. he is a chief engineer. he died of stress from the construction that is named after him at. there's a little bust of him behind a toll stand on the new york side. 1919,nnel was begun in because the harbor froze.
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you couldn't get goods into new york, schools closed down, the lights were out on broadway. there were riots. so they build the tunnel. it is completed in 1927. two months after ground was broken on the jimmy bridge, -- gw bridge. it's the first tunnel under the hudson. it is also the longest particular tunnel in the world. it is still longer than the lincoln tunnel. digging it was in the challenge. -- wasn't the challenge. they started digging in new jersey and new york. but they had dug railroad tunnels under the river before. it was ventilating this thing that was the problem. cleaning out the poisonous to exhaust fumes. they built a tunnel in pittsburgh, three cars in there for three weeks, and a couple of people died of carbon monoxide poisoning. holland does this -- he creates four wind factories.
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they still stand. two would each end of the tunnel, one on river, one on land. wind, and theye have 80 or 90 gigantic fans inside, to power the wind, get it going, and shoot it into the tunnel. not straight through the tunnel, because if you had a fire, it would go like a cyclone through the tunnel. but pull it in gradually at hubcap level, and the air comes doubtd the bad areas that of the roof at the tunnel. the air inside the holland tunnel, and every tunnel in the world that can handle cars, is built like this. it's changed every 90 seconds. groundbreaking ventilation system, the tunnel would be a poisonous gas timber. -- chamber. engineers play such a big part in the building of the city. they let pedestrians in here
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first. down fromld come jersey and shake hands with manhattan people. this is one of my heroes. swiss born. he designed almost every modern bridge in new york city. new york city hasn't built another bridge since his last bridge. the most airing feet about this bridge, and here it is in had auction, is it really precariously thin deck. it was very slender, not many people thought it would hold the kind of traffic it had to hold. probably the most pleasing aesthetic feature is this crisscrossing bracing. he wanted to cover that over. he thought the steel should be sheathed in concrete and decorated. but the port authority didn't have the money to do it.
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he got to like this accidental artwork he had created. all of his later bridges are unsheathed it like this. a french architect called it the most people bridge in the world. this bridge increases congestion, but also, creates suburbs. a lot of the cars toward into new york, across the tunnel, and down the new west side highway into the hells kitchen area for the cut left and went into manhattan. at this point, death avenue as it was called. there's a novel about growing up in hells kitchen. he has a character who rides a horse, like this kid, here. cowboys, they called them. broadway cowboys. he would carry a lantern or flag
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to warn pedestrians that a train was coming. in a 50 year. . over 1000 people were killed jimmy walker pressed hard for the elevation of these tracks. so you could move cars, but most important, save lives. they forced the new york central railroad, which controlled downtown manhattan at the time, they forced it to elevate their freight line and take some of the freights right through buildings. that is done in 1934. and then it becomes obsolete. we walk on it today. the high line. the new york highlighted. -- highline. there does. the westside improvement plan. not an improvement if you live under it. hell's kitchen usually got the worst of this sort of stuff.
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i wanted to show you this. this is what happens when you have these transformations taking place. new york starts to de-industrialize. -- biggest industry by far it doesn't have steel mills and stockyards. its garment making. -- fashion industry expensive women's dresses continue to be made in manhattan. close to where buyers are, close to the big magazines, close to the specialized stores. you are not handling a mass-produced product. that part of the industry still remains on fashion avenue. but the making of the dresses occurs on eastern pennsylvania, places like will spare -- wilkes-barre and places like that. i should also say this.
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another industry that stays in new york, and for the same reason, is publishing. of the pioneer publishers in midtown in the 1920's. in the 20's, a whole group of young jewish publishers move into the city. schuster, in, max liberate himself who is a stockbroker in philadelphia. they are challenging the anglo-saxon elite that control publishing. they want to publish books audaciously. publish them like they were hollywood style fanfare, with sky writers and things like that. roof of the, on the subway, a poster for the book. he was a gambler, he gambled on hemingway. faulkner, he gamble and great playwrights. westhe is in his office on
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48th street, just off six avenue, right in the heart of the speakeasy district. he drank prodigiously. on some days, there were more bootleggers than writers. he fought censorship in new york, and his lawyer was the representative on the state floor who pushed hard against censorship with jimmy walker. he won the day with one simple line -- no woman has ever been ruined by a book. [laughter] plays.a producer of dracula, things like that. he did the american tragedy, things like that. he is drawn to broadway, like a lot of people. broadway itself, the less district we are dealing with. broadway itself is transformed. it the times building which begins at all. it is built in 1904, online acre
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square -- on lawmaker square. is, lit up at night. this is actually 1907, when the first ball was dropped from time square. there is supposed to be .2 5 million people here, but it doesn't look like that in the picture. been the great white light, but that was broadway south a 42nd street. in the 20's, the light show is technicolor. they had multicolor advertising lights, they moved and spun, and bottles of beer appeared in the firmament, rivers of peanuts fell out of the sky. a french visitors said it was a conspiracy of commerce against the night. in the 20's, what happens on time square and on broadway is this -- the movies take over.
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they push the legitimate theaters off-broadway, where they still are today. you can only fill a theater with 1100 people. can pack 5000 people in some of these theaters, and show five shows a day, and have them open all night. they are driving these people right out of business. new york is not making a lot of movies, they make them in queens. but the big premieres are in new york. approves, the rest of the country will approve. the most spectacular of these theaters -- this is the only good shot we could get. this is the roxy. this is opening night on west 50th street. roxy was a sulfur motor. he called it the cathedral of the motion picture. they used to joke a lot about it. it was enormous. one critic called it the largest theater since the fall of rome.
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five stories high, it had 5000 or 6000 seats. there is a new yorker cartoon with a kid standing in the middle of this rotunda, holding his mom's hand. ma,looks up and says mom does god live here? [laughter] a lot of critic spoke funded the over-the-top decor. but roxy wasn't out to please the critics. $1.50, a brooklyn steam cutter and his wife could take a seat anywhere and enjoy a four hour show, and get treated like , by these guys, a fleet of roxy ushers. they were trained by him. roxy's story is a rags to riches story. here he is. a simple looking guy.
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he is a son of an immigrant shoemaker from germany. he lives in a lumber town in minneapolis. he arrives in new york in 1912 and he gets a job on the road selling magazines up in the pennsylvania coal region, where my family was born. there he runs into a girl that he really likes behind the bar. he loved hotdogs and they served good hot dogs in the bar and he liked the girl better. he stayed. her father did not trust him. he said if you want to marry my daughter, you have to stay for a year in town and work as a bartender under my supervision. i will see if you are worthy of her. he stuck it out. but he said, you have a skating rink. they originally hoped it would be a diner. he said, let's turn it into a diner. -- turn it into a movie theater. he was fascinated with what he called flickers.
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he walks to scranton, pennsylvania area except -- pennsylvania. ers.icks up one-reel he hires a woman from the church choir who can play a piano. from the funeral parlor across the street. when there was a wake, there was no movie. [laughter] all kinds of crazy stuff. ,n the pasadena rose festival yes pictures of the pasadena rose parade and it is so kitschy it is unbelievable. he ties sponges together and he gets them in the rosewater and he hangs them on two electric fans and he calls them smell of vision. [laughter] is a wonderful character. they have big theaters in new york but they cannot produce enough movies to fill the theater. what do you do?
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you create a thing called the prologue which lasts for hours. that precedes the film. two roxy it was more important. he takes over the biggest theater in new york called the capitol theater. he brings a 100-piece symphonic orchestra, his own vaudeville act, clog dancing, elephants, lions in the film. inore sound film is invented 1927, you cannot fill the place up. i think that mark is low -- sell ticketsaid we to theater, not to movies. what roxy does is he starts to do radio. he broadcasts the prologue's with occasional commentary . people like it. he puts together a variety show of the people of the prologue.
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1927, he moved to nbc. work for the marconi company. marconi would come to new york where he had an affiliate organization and he had a lot of girlfriends in new york. he would deliver flowers and candy. he got to know them well. the marconi company creates a spinoff, which turned the company from ship to shore communications and to entertainment for the millions. they said, let's do this. how about creating a thing called an entertainment box? out of it will come news and sports. they thought, you're crazy. five years later, they are doing it. in the mid-20's when he is
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rising in the company, he moves rca headquarters to downtown up their broadway. why go there? that is where the entertainment is. that is where bing crosby is, jack benny is. his lifelong rival, and they were truly lifelong rivals, was well paly. -- will paley. he is the son of a rich cigar-making family. by the time they made to philadelphia, they had made it. he went to boarding school. he also hated him because he non-jewish girl. for the next half century, these guys would battle for supremacy in radio, television, and color television. links radio to advertising. it is the only business supported entirely by advertising.
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someone wrote a letter. i'm getting this great music. who do i pay? nobody. it is paid for by advertisers. paley looks up a studio. of duke signs ellington was been playing in the midtown club called club kentucky. up at the cotton club they had another act. this is all black entertainment, all-white audience. found thereagents was an opening around the christmas scene. the bandleader had suddenly died. he got ellington in addition there. the agent is irving mills, one of the great music agents in the country. mad and wanted ellington.
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here is how we got him. ellington had a contract to go out on the road for christiansen. madden found out that ellington was in philly. he sent out message to boo-boo half. -- boo boo huff. he sent one of his guys out to the show and he said, a big -- be big or bwe dead. he let ellington go and the band left that night. he had just recorded creole love song. this radio exposure puts new york using out to the whole country. it changes everything. people called it hot jazz, but ellington said, i don't like jazz. i write folk music.
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that is how we called it, the music of my people. ellington hooks up with the field. zigfield. he was feeling one that had the guts to have a black woman go on stage with white showgirls. companies in new york city, schubert's ikeecially, wrote nazi-l propaganda like this and try to shut down zigfield. here is zigfield from chicago. he started out as a carnival impresario. d thef the acts was calle dancing ducks of denmark. the cops closed it down because the reason the ducks were dancing was because the stage had heated gas jets underneath it. -- the society
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for prevention of cruelty to animals was the happy with it. he creates the follies, a new york sensation. production, revues, they were called. it would glorify the american girl. light7, this master of entertainment stuns the country by producing "show boat," an instant classic. showboattheater before and after showboat. it is set on a mississippi riverboat. the plate deals explosively with the issue of miscegenation. it has a mixed black and white cast. the songs come directly out of the plot.
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movieolutionized the theater. it has been called the best musical ever written. jules blood flow -- jules plays john and he does a disturbing version of "old man river." gfieldt year, zie mounts six plays. william randolph hearst gives in the money to open his own theater. , not f scotts him -- fitzgerald spent more time out of new york in the 1920's.
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serial adultery, the worst. it is daring. a fantastic run of success. he is a fascinating but not an appealing character. he hired better comedians more than anyone in the world but no one ever saw them laugh. they never smiled. he had a tremendous personal magnetism, yet his favorite means of communication was the telegram. he sent 100 telegram today. some two staffers directly across the hall from him, 15 yards away. [laughter] one of his friend says, if this man dies, so western union short. [laughter] they entertained, he and his wife. billy burke, the actress. they entertained on berkeley cress of the hudson. they entertained like ancient romans. they had a ménage three of animals, they had a pet
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elephant. it almost killed a made one day. it was a crazy place. he is a gambler. he is a gambler at the baccarat tables, broadway shows, same thing. it is the source of his success and ruin. it is that old saying workers drawn this trade is your greatest weakness. atwould lose $50,000 a night casinos and far more on expensive broadway flops. t crashedmarke in 1929, he crashed with it and never recovered. once master of his own world, and he was, he died in 1936 and he has a quarter of million dollars in debt and he dies tragically alone. the forces that brought ziegfield downward those that to aht the jazz a's -- age
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spectacular death in october of 1929. i think that ziegfield didgeridoo today lot, the extravagance of the age, it's near complete disregard. i'll think that the 1920's were this bleary-eyed spree that fitzgerald chronicles in a story. it is sort of a self-autopsy. i don't think any other decade in the life of that city was more alive or more enduring and creative. from are shots respectively the follies and showboat. in 1927 and 28, there were more broadway productions then have ever been produced at any one time. everything looked so promising. then you are facing the depression that will grind on until world war ii. significantated was
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-- magnificent. this was the epicenter, culturally and architecturally of the city. it is carl sandburg who summed the skies government. thank you. i appreciate it. [applause] now we do q&a and kill the interest year. -- here. a mic aroundo pass if anyone has any questions. i'd be happy to stick around. like a lot of new yorkers, we
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are at the mercy of mass transit. yes? >> thank you very much. that was wonderful. >> a little louder. >> that was wonderful. thank you. >> speak directly into it because it is hard to hear. >> i was wondering how you chose your cast of characters. >> i didn't choose them -- i did not write down the characters. i just started to tell the story and the characters -- it is a cliché, were books have a life of their own. this really did. these characters kept popping up. people i had never heard of. tie never heard of hat carnegie. i knew there was a french building. i did not know the story of a commencing successful stock seller. i did not know much about loi s long in her personal life. to me, she was the
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quintessential jazz age woman, a long string of pearls and drinking and carousing all officend going into the at 4:00 in the morning and taking off her dress and pounding out copy that would be all the boys. she was terrific. a great character. they popped up on me. that is why i said it was almost like getting to know them. yes, sir. here is the mic. mcfadden, who is the biggest magazine a butcher, what contributions did he make to new york city? >> he brought down the level of public taste in a big way. we have the term photoshop now.
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he takes the body of another human being and sticks the head of a guy on it and there is his picture on the paper. he brought journalism to a spectacular new low. a series of tabloid newspapers to outsell the daily news. the daily news was the big bear in the room. mcfadden was also a health net. you would have all this stuff on his sexualized whites and how much he could lift and how well he could perform. it was a sickening magazine. >> but the penny restaurants that he opened in new york and two in chicago, what contribution would you say they made to the city and the country? >> his restaurants? penny restaurants. i do not know much about that. i really don't. i just know him as the tabloid
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-- bernard mcfadden is his name. -- bernarr. mcfadden. >> [indiscernible] >> she asked to, who is financing this thing? new york is rich and poor at the same time. there is little income tax. there is no state tax. the biggest taxes the property tax. here is how the real estate game works. they subsidize construction. that is what the city government bank on. if i throw up a 15 story building, the most economical thing i could do was to approve his demolition and throw up a 35 story building because i could pull in more rent. as long as the rent is coming in
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, you have more taxpayers there and the city gets the profits, doubles its profits by building double the size of the building. the city profits. the bank's profit because they are loaning money to the city throughout this. the city is deep in debt, but it knows, the city does, the banks feel that the city can pay off the debt because the real estate market keeps going up and up and up. song, "blueerlin skies," it will always be that. no one is predicting an end. the banks call in their loans and the bank goes under, and so does the city. by 1930, new york is bankrupt. that is the thing that powers this. it is powered by an idea -- confidence. this building boom is unstoppable. there will be articles occasionally in new york that say new york is overbuilt and the next day there would be three article saying, contesting
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that idea. .he city can never be overbuilt it is a growth-driven place. it always has been. >> thanks a lot. you talked about the fact that no one expected the depression to come. >> some people. the profits are only when they come. characters, where there any were sort of like, the sky is falling kind of characters? ironically. ock ind all his st 1928, including his rca stock. it would not even explained to his mother why he did it. he was not getting advice from any of the big bankers, anyone like that. he kind of sees it.
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arvel con was also a big player. he was warned he was spending publisher.means as a live right had the same philosophy as walker about the city. we will get in debt, but we are creating great books and we are putting them on the bestseller list and it will balance out. yet a collection of books called the modern american library. that is a great collection because there were no paperbacks to use in colleges back then. "hard wanted to use times" by dickens, he had to use a hardback. the modern library produced these books that sold for 59 sent and that was under buttressing the firm. one day he went to lunch with a young editor, bennett serve, and said, horace, i would like to buy the modern library. to his amazement, live right said, you've got it.
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he wanted to bet on some broadway productions but he also wanted to get out from under the thumb of his father-in-law, who is wife hired to keep an eye on him with women and money. he would pay off some of his debts and something like that. modern library. madewent out and random house. that is all it did in the beginning. that is the same philosophy that is motivating a lot of these people. using up life, living like that. babe ruth is an example. >> fear ella la guardia was a person that found the downfall -- large role in the book. he is the battler of probation.
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he was in the congress at the time. he bounced around from party to party. a lot of people thought he was untrustworthy. you want probation? he would introduce these expensive bills to support prohibition and the cruel irony to the conservatives who pushed through prohibition is that they were fiscal conservatives on the did not want to pay to enforce it. would say, let's enforce this, $16 million for prohibition, and they would be embarrassed and voting against their own prohibition bills. andould go on to drugstores make concoctions and drink them in front of newspapers. here's how you make bootleg booze. he would take pictures. battle tammanyid corruption but he did not see it all. inn he ran against walker
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1930, he got beaten very, very badly. -- of the reasons is tammany as long as there was prosperity, so many people depended upon tammany. it did in awful lot of good for people in the neighborhoods. i still think one of the biggest mistakes new york has made is when they went away from the all the remic system. someone throws a rock three window or raiseshell on the corner, would you call? with that system, you go down to the local alderman and he takes care of that. your kid gets thrown in jail for a minor offense, the alderman can intervene. you know a phone call can do in new york -- nothing. i think that was one of the problems with the system. tammany had people there helping the alderman anytime someone needed help. they were there to help them.
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people congregated at tammany clubhouses. all they asked for was your vote. so walker, yes, maybe he is pocketing. he got most of his money not from the treasury. he got most of his money from private friends. it was not tit for tat. it was not you give me $1 million and i will help you with ridge construction. it was just them giving him money and they could never prove the reciprocity of it. this project, this bribe for this project. he got nailed for taking too much money. and he should have been removed from office for running the city like that, for his own benefit, as it were. book by a a great lady named mary henderson all about the theater. >> it is a wonderful book. >> isn't it?
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>> it is the best book on the subject. >> could you tell us a little bit about how this incredibly expansive theater district that was so huge during the 1920 to-- if people had no money go to nightclubs, how did any of them stay open? >> that is a terrific question. what kept alive was hollywood. people continued to go to movies for relief during the depression. went tofar more people the movies in the 1930's. there were better films, of course than the 1920's. broadway was used as a testing ground for productions that could be turned into films. an awful lot of the money subsidizing broadway theater came from the u.s. coast. that is what underwrote this.
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people, there was an alluring fascination with theater, with owning a play, meeting the actors, sitting on the audience on the first night. there a tingle about that sort of thing. it is a gamble. "fortune" did a terrific thing on the theater business and i highly recommend it to you. goes how they stayed alive during the throws of the worst depression. that was their argument, that it was largely hollywood and speculators who had enough money it ande if they can lose felt this almost magnetic draw to the theater world. she talks about that a little bit in the book as well. anyone else?
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>> one quick question. your first book dealt with chicago post-fire. the similarity seemed very easy to draw between new york and chicago's of that respected area. are there any differences, things that made those cities different in the political realm or anywhere the arcs of those two stories fall? >> yeah. i am doing a presentation in chicago about that. i had better start thinking about it. [laughter] with a chicago historian. i are doingen and something about gang life in the 1920's. capone in things like that. chicago made a couple of mistakes. it was the skyscraper center of
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the world in the 1890's. it had the best skyscrapers in the handsomest ones. -- they set limits on skyscrapers. i believe that there should be limits but this was too early in the game. it never shook its frontier tradition. is gangland life in chicago portrayed stereotypically as -- you know, the gangsters in new york really mistrusted people like capone because he was too quick with a gun and too quick with machine gun. they took care of people like that. even castillo -- i am not even trying to -- i am not trying to present him as a man appeared he, but he never carried a gun and madden rarely carried a gun. they had their own enforcers. it was not part of the persona and they were knit more closely to the city. i think what gave new york more
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stability with tammany. chicago's politics were raucous and wild. the political machines were mercurial. they form an disappear. there's never one machine that can keep order in the city. this creates opening for an archivists, socialist, they introduce interesting reforms as well. it is a stew. it is a boiling cauldron. it is a very different -- cities have personalities and chicago's is more headlong, more reckless than new york, i think. there are different types of cities. in the 19th century, they are both industrial. new york is the biggest interest euro city in the country. chicago has big industries like mills and stockyards and clothing factories. new york is the minnows, the small firms in the garment
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industry that dominate, not the big ones. america moves -- this is the beginning of the decentralization of the city, but also the beginning of the deindustrialization of the country and the electronics revolution is coming on. that is radio. that is television. mass communications and things like that. theyork had always been at forefront of that since the 19 century. sending packet books to england. the associated press picking up the news 60 miles offshore and having fast boats come into the city. it has always been a communication center with more newspapers than any city in the country. i think that we have this wonderful symbiosis in the 1920's. new york still had his industry. it had the greatest port in the northern hemisphere. the porch was very profitable.
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it has an industrial base but it is also moving quickly into a new age and pioneering a new type of economy, a new type of lifestyle. that is what i try to do here and what i call "a tale of two cities." one is the quintessential heavy industrial city of large corporations and labor strikes, and new york in the 1920's, moving towards a different type of economy, different type of lifestyle were consumption becomes almost more important than construction. maybe it is a tale of three cities and maybe do l.a., which is a complete auto city. yeah. still trying to figure that out. anybody else? we have one there and appear. >> hi. thank you for your talk. i was wondering -- you said -- i know that people continued to go and they wanted to be
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entertained during the depression. during prohibition, they said more alcohol was consumed in the prior years before they begin the prohibition era. i thought that kind of connected it. , the gangsters did not put their money into the banks. did they have a hard time of it during the depression? >> no. gangsters don't write letters. they don't put money in banks. they don't write when mars -- write memoirs. and theyst in clubs spend enormously and not very wisely. actually, one of the hardest parts of the book was to try to tell the story of gang life without writing a graphic novel.
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so much of crime reporting is anecdotal. people say, don't go into that. that is quicksand. i find that if you are doing it right, you are a good record. i want to the municipal archives and i asked the director for the luciana papers. he said, you are the only person was ever asked them. they are in brooklyn but we will get them for you tomorrow. i came back the next they and he had the little dust tomorrow. in they come and i thought he delivered a washer and a dryer. it was a big box. the first thing i pulled out was evidence documents, a revolver, and it pulled out a lamp with a cord on it, you could strangle somebody. and then i pulled out all these records. they wired to these guys. they wired their rooms. they wiretapped them. they have when he was holed up
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in a hotel with his mistress, they have -- every day they have his menu. they collected the receipts from the waiters and order slips and things like that. despite the code of omerta, nobody is going to squeal, once they put heat on these guys and they lined them up, and you can keep you blonder custody for months. prostitutes and took them to a building and kept them for month set a time. they had jerry's call consecutive juries for the jury would not be released after trial. stay in session for seven or eight trials and you could really go after these guys like that. so you have court testimony, confessions, and terrific crime reporters, some of the best reporters in the city were crime reporters. there is a lot of evidence you could compile about the life of criminals. without reading these ghostwritten autobiographies
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--t luciano penned himself and crime was so interwoven in new york, chicago, detroit history that is it possible to do politics without crime and do it right. a bigk historians make mistake by not jumping into that territory and looking for those kinds of connections. it still is that way. gw bridge. [laughter] we did not talk about that side of it. anybody else? when was the first guy first skyscraper ,uilt in the united states where was it built, and when? >> generally, what is a skyscraper? that is a debate among architecture lists.
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most say that a building called the home insurance building in chicago was the first home building built partially with a buildings --efore frame. before, buildings were supported by load-bearing walls. if you build a sand castle, if you go tall, you have to build the base out. frame, you hang the walls from a curtain, like a cathedral. jenning them there and was one of the pioneers. that building, which was torn down, in my mind it was the first true american skies here. offhand, i think was 1888. i think that is right. everybody can check that. i think that was the year was built. thank you. i appreciate it.
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> this weekend on the c-span , tonight at a clock p.m. eastern, a national town hall on the critical and historical impact on doubting. sunday evening on q&a, washington post columnist sally quinn. tonight at 10:00 on book tv's afterwards, reporter met rental on the distraction of technology and its impact on society. sunday at 1:00 p.m. eastern, the ninth annual oakland book festival. tonight at 10:00 on american c-span3, jonathan white on the role of the union lincoln's and abraham 1864 reelection. find out television schedule at and let us do what you think about the programs you are watching.
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join the c-span conversation. like us on facebook. follow us on twitter. week, american history tv's real america brings you archival films that help tell the story of the 20th century. ♪ >> war in the middle east. spearheadrces drive forces across the sinai peninsula, south to the entrance of a golf breaking a blockade, and occupying the old city of jerusalem. the first crippling blow came early in the four day war when the air of air force was destroyed on the ground in air raids on 25 bases in three countries, egypt, jordan, and syria. israel's new defense minister, campaign,e 1956 sinai
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was instrumental in mapping the battle plan. the israelikness of army crossed forces with a one-two punch. -- assumptions that british and u.s. forces aided israel rv humanly denied. e denied. while the united states and russia disagree on the wording of the resolution over troop withdrawal, israel's foreign presidentharges uar plot the murder of the state. the vote is taken and the resolution new. that you manage slate -- the resolution is
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adopted unanimously. thenext day, egypt cap's ining-fire, jo jordan. many questions are raised by the short but decisive middle east war. with israel controlling the sinai peninsula, all approaches to thesuez canal. a diplomatic struggle now begins. american history tv travel to the library of congress's center in washington dc which was established in the year 2000 and endowed by philanthropist. it welcomes 100 scholars ever your two pursue their research interest at one of the world's largest libraries. we speak with one of the 2014 fellows. >> joining us on american history tv is stephen dick, a


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