tv American History TV CSPAN December 5, 2014 3:29am-5:06am EST
totalitarianism, against fascism in world war ii and done so successfully, you fought in the korean war and not just contained but rolled back communism in the mid-1950s, then i think that faith in american power, which may seem a bit arrogant now, i think when you put it in the context of the era, it may not be as unreasonable as it seems on its face. >> in the midst of the vietnam war, right in the middle of it, ho chi minh was thrown out of power, pushed out of power literally by bezuan, an aggressively -- calling for world domination of communism and eventually, you know, in 1975, we left vietnam and as far as i know he was in power. and one would assume that
vietnam would've pursued that agenda of world domination. but it didn't turn out that way. it turned out more the way dave gordon describes it. >> right. >> what happened between then and now? >> part of the problem, i think, is that lezuan and the politburo is also balancing their own requirements. and we need to realize that after the bifurcation of vietnam in 1954 where there is two entities, a south and north vietnam, that in north vietnam, hanoi's leaders ho chi minh and ultimately lezuan are having to make decisions about supporting an insurgency in the south to reunify this country in the aftermath of a long and bloody colonial conflict or anti-colonial conflict and also build their own stable nation in the north.
and that is a debate -- again, hang brings this up in "hanoi's war." that others are constantly having to make choices between building a political, a stable political community in the north and feeding and reinforcing the southern insurgency in the south. so in the aftermath of the american war in 1975, that takes on a regional aspect as they now not only have to balance the problems of reintegrating southerners into vietnam, some of the southerners who obviously fought against the communists, but also now have to deal with a very unstable cambodia and have to deal with a china that is increasingly aggressive. so it's not as easy, i think, for the hanoi politburo coming
out of the american phase of the vietnam war to simply call it success and move on. >> lezuan died in 1986, and that was the turning point. when lezuan died, the people who came offer him said communism doesn't work. it didn't work in china, they changed it in 1980. they're trying to catch up with china and the new leadership said we're going to take the capitalist path. it's the death of lezuan. >> i just want to get back to strategy and tactics. the french were able to hold the entire indochinese peninsula with about 200,000 troops. and we had 500,000 troops in westmoreland wanted 200,000 more if i'm not mistaken, which brought upon the resignation of the president. didn't we learn anything from the french?
>> we did. i might suggest that the phrase that the french held indochina with that many troops might perhaps not be accurate. that the french will hold certain areas and those areas are urban areas. but the problem is i don't think they did hold a country. they held only very small portions of the country. and that will become a problem for them as they're trying to execute their own strategy fighting the french indochina war. what i find fascinating here, and certainly the americans will look back on the french experience in indochina, the british experience in malaya and the french experience in algeria. and i think what they find is a difficulty of coming to consensus over what the term "control" means.
and i think that's where you getting at with whether the french held or controlled areas of indo china while they were still a colonial power. and i think that's the key problem for the americans is despite the experiences of the french, it's difficult to find and assess how well you are controlling a portion of that political community, especially when there's a shadow government that is parallel to the supposedly legitimate government and competing for not just resources but the loyalty of the population. and again, i don't think it's that piece of the definition of strategy control was ever fully determined by the americans. >> last short question. >> okay. >> i had to wait a long time for this. in early '68, i was in base training in ft. jackson. the -- you could obviously hear
easily every day the cadre in the mess talking about the restraints that lbj out. they didn't curse westmoreland out. but they cursed lbj. and the restraints he was under was the incremental build-up. >> right. that johnson put him through and the administration. and i'm just wondering -- i don't think you spoke much about it. and just an observation of my own having fought in vietnam in '69 was that the only thing i ever saw later on was that war really worked, that scared the bejeebers out of north was lineback linebacker, linebacker one and two. that got them to negotiate with us. >> yeah, that's an important point, i think, that that clearly westmoreland is dealing with the theory of graduated pressure, which kind of takes
hold in the national security establishment. this idea that we can -- we can determine how much pressure to ratchet up or ratchet back. and eventually, hanoi will realize that it can't win this long war because we have the ability to either ratchet up or ratchet back. unfortunately, we don't have that ability. and we don't have the ability to so neatly determine the pace of the war, the pace of military operations or determine the pace of how quickly the local population is seen the south vietnamese government as a legitimate entity. and so what you see here, i think, are some disconnects, not only in modernization theorys the that we talked about earlier but also this theory of graduated pressure. as we talked about a little bit earlier in the evening, there's a difference clearly between articulating strategy and implementing it. and i think this is a clear case of that.
so thank you. [ applause ] here are some of the programs you'll find this weekend on the c-span networks. saturday at 11:00 a.m. eastern on c-span, live coverage of the memorial service for former washington, d.c. mayor marion barry and sunday evening at 8:00 on c-span's q&a, ann compton who recently retired after 40 years as abc news white house correspondent. saturday night at 10:00 on book tv on c-span2, assistant professor jason sokol on how the northeast u.s. wasn't always the haven of racial equality and supportive of african-american civil rights. and saturday at noon our three-hour conversation with arthur brooks with your phone calls, e-mails and tweets.
on american history tv on c-span3 saturday night at 8 on lectures in history, martha jones on female slaves and the law. and sunday at 8:00 on the presidency, president h.w. bush's former secretary of state james baker on the fall of the berlin wall and the liberation of eastern europe. find our schedule at c-span.org and let us know about the programs you're watching. call us at 202-626-3400, e-mail us at email@example.com. or tweet us @cspan. in his book, "supreme city" donald miller describes how in the 1920s new york became the country's cultural capital by showcasing the newest ideas in music, art and architecture. he spoke at the new york library. it's an hour and a half.
>> thank you. i want to thank the library and especially debra hirsch for organizing this event. can you guys hear me in the back? can you hear me now? no? yes? all right. i'll speak loudly. well, it's great to be in the city and lecturing on the city that you wrote about and 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 power point as a term. i'm not good at power point. it's not that i'm a ludite. i'm not good at technology. i'm a technological idiot.
this is not the supreme city is not the book i originally set out to write. and the original idea was to do the whole city, all five boro h boroughs and stretch it out from world war i to world war ii. but without trying to be too cute, i took too big of a bite out of the apple. and 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's an untold story, actually. it's been told in bits and pieces, but it's never stitched together as a compelling historical narrative. and that story is the rise of the sudden and spectacular rise i should say of midtown manhattan in the 1920s, which was an urban backwater before 1919. there wasn't a single skyscraper
above 42nd street. and by the end of the decade, by the end of the 1920s, almost half of new york skyscrapers were in midtown. it's one of the great building booms not only in the history of the united states but in the history of the world. this eruption almost that occurs in these years. and i -- in the book i take on the building of this midtown manhattan. it was really a construction project. and i do its offshoot, as well. because it's all kinds of cultural spillage. there's tremendous cultural revolution that accompanies this architectural and construction revolution. so it's a it's a book with a lot of characters, a lot of incidents and i think some interesting stories. let me begin here with this. for 300 years, downtown
dominated new york city. and it was only in 1919 following the war that midtown began to take off, reach a takeoff space. and it kind of culminated in the building of this building which still stands. building of this building which still stands. this is the fred french building on fifth avenue. and it was the first terrifically tall building north of 42nd street. and in this year, 1927, when the fred french building was completed david sarnoff and william paly founded their networks, nbc and cbs, the first national radio networks and radio went national. and the grand central station had been completed in 1913. but the apogee of the period i'm talking about, when it really reaches its takeoff phase was in 1927. so a lot of the book centers on that year. and this is 1927, the year that
lindbergh, for example, his return from his solo flight from roosevelt field on long island to paris and he triumphantly returns first to the nation's capital in washington and then to new york city where over 4 billion people crowded the streets to see it. and it's also in 1927 that, oops, hit the wrong button. that the tempo of the city changed dramatically. and f. scott fitzgerald put it really well. he said the parties were bigger in '27, buildings were higher, morals were looser, liquor was cheaper the jazz age now raced on under its own power served by great filling stations full of money. man, i wish i could have written that. and new york then is, in this year and in this decade, in the vanguard of cultural and technological transformations that would make the 20th century the american century and make new york the quintessential city of the early 20th century.
what was happening here? well, i mentioned one thing, the rise of commercial radio and talking movies. first talking movie was made and shown in new york city in 1927. you have the invention, although very primitive form, of television. you had the beginning of tabloid journalism with "the new york daily news," the first american tabloid founded by joseph patterson, the newspaper family. you have the spread, the radio, and phonographic records of this pulsating new urban music called jazz. and i feature duke ellington in this book. and you have the emergence with yankee stadium, example of mass spectator sports. and enormously important boxing matches staged at madison square garden and the polo grounds and yankee stadium and other venues. ellington summed it up. the duke said new york was the capital of everything. he said very little happens in the country unless somebody in new york presses a button.
and so it is. and it's a story, in other words, of an urban revolution, but i try to tell it -- i'm interested in people. and i try to tell this story through about three dozen characters. and i have a cast of characters, like a play bill at the beginning of the book. and most of them, as lois was saying, are blazingly ambitious strivers from west of the hudson and east of the danube. and it was e.b. wright of "the new yorker" who wrote about this phenomenon of outsiders coming in and transforming the place -- by the way, i found the same thing in my book on chicago. exactly the same thing. jane adams coming in, clarence darrow and louis sullivan. same sort of thing. and white writes this, in a beautiful book, he said, it's
called "here's new york" which is a lot of you probably read. the person who was born elsewhere and came to new york in quest of something that accounts for new york's high strung disposition, the poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts and its incomparable achievements. and achievements they were. it's probably -- i quoted white, but i think maybe the most important inspiration for me was the frenchman tocqueville who said that every american is eaten up with a longing to rise. and my characters like sarnov, arrive with that in mind. he comes from a belarusian back water and he becomes the founder of modern mass common kagss. and he does it and takes over rca before he's 40 years old. you have tex ricard on the
right there, saloon keeper from the klondike. he built the modern madison square garden. he taught boxing promotors you can't have a good fight with a good audience. you can't have a mass spectacles fight unless you build it around a story. and i try to deal with that in the book. and, of course, right next to tex is meal ticket, this great jack dempsey, the hard hitter from the western minefields of colorado. and these two guys turn boxing into a $1 million business. they have $5 million gates in the 1920s. the next million dollar gate would occur in the 1970s with ali and frasier. and you have patterson coming in from chicago founding "the daily news" on a shoestring really. and by 1927, it's -- it barely survived, actually, but by 1927, it's the largest selling newspaper in the world. okay. and sudden success.
and there he is, the babe, a true ant from the baltimore docks. a place called pigtown. and he transformed his sport as fundamentally as jack dempsey transformed boxing. he turned it from small ball, slicing at the ball, bunting it, hit-and-run, stealing, into long ball. and so like dempsey, he's a big hitter. and new yorkers seemed to like the big hitters, the guys who could put them on the canvas and put the balls in the seats. what i try to do in the book, just a second on methodology, is i really try to tell the story, try to reimagine it, i should try to say. i try to reimagine say. i tried to go back in my mind and describe the life of my tarks not as i see them from the present, but to get behind their eyes. everyone tells me that the history because you have
hindsight. if you will know the great depression is coming, you will organize your book so it leads to that. as my buddy said, most inaccurate phrase is the foreseeable future. the future can never be foreseen. in 1927, it was unimaginable to new yorkers that the greatest urban building boom would soon collapse with shocking suddenness. this guy here, i live in jimmy walker, that he be brought low and forced to resign. walker is one of the major characters. he is fun to write about.
most tend to substitute analysis. they doend get into him and he's an interesting guy. heart in the right place and did a lot of important things for the city. didn't have the energy and the moral courage to stand up to the old fashioned bosses. he got himself involved in a lot of prupgz. they never put a single charge on him. they couldn't put a charge on him that it was viable in a court of law. pressure for roosevelt as governor of new york and pressure from al smith and forced him out of office. read books in his life. learned everything through his ears. here's what you do and say and
he would do it. good impromptu speaker too. he walks in the room and has a yarmulke on. they said circumcision next? he said no, ma'am, i prefer to wear it off. that's jimmy walker. great parts of my book are devoted to politics. they organized the great organization of the period and it produced real reformers too like robert walgner and things like that. i deal with night life and organized crime and boxing and i deal with baseball. tonight i want to focus not on the whole book. you try to summarize and you compress and kill it. i want to deal with the drama. a building of mid-and the cultural revolution that
accompanies it. the take away is 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 and this is the digging operation and it is enormous. not quite on the scale of the panama canal, but close to it. it insighted the effort to build the terminal while the old one still operated. it is set in motion by a crisis. the worst train disaster up until that time in history. a commuter train was barrelling through one of the stations and they failed to pot warning lights and slammed into the rear of another train waiting in the rail yard.
the carnage was terrible and it was forced to electrify these trains. at that point in time, this guy who was the founding father's chief engineer. he has real vision. not only electrifies the trains, but buries the tracks. he goes a step further and convinces his superiors to build a new terminal. a great people moving machine. and stairless with shop lines and underground passage ways that lead to the transit stations and there is a lot of smart shops along the passage ways and a lot of new yorkers are talking about reviving these. so many still exist and expect to hotels and commercial
buildings. that's what a city needs. you need to move them otherwise you get paralysis and hence the roadway that runs around grand central and the building beyond it. the grand central that you drive through 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 tixth. it's a gigantic rail yard that fans out here. from the station. pedestrians had to cross it on the cross ways there. over cat walks as they called them. broifing smoke and dust and ash and things like that. this is the vision he had of eliminating the yard.
there is no streets there. close to the river there might be the brewing company, but that was it. this is what it became. he said what we will do is on the roof of this smokeless tunnel, we will build on the real estate, park avenue. straight as a sun people. ella fitzgerald's husband tried to steal the article. it was very restrained design and these are the first skyscrapers built for permanent living. they do this by selling something we all know about
today and people didn't know about then because it's new. they sold the air rights to developers. he said with the revenue plucked from the air, we can create a vary tabl city. he called it terminal. the city around the terminal. we is build a beautiful section of the city. there is big happening on fifth off. this is before the war when it's called vanderbilt avenue. it is lined from 41st street to central park with vanderbilt mansions. some of them a block wide, a block sized mansions all the way down here. here it is on easter sunday 1913. a lot of the commanding influences and a lot of older
vanderbilt his died. they couldn't keep them up. some of them had the money to do it, but it's hard to hire irish maids. a group of aggressive young real estate agents from the lower east side come in and buy these mansions and the day after they bought them, they tear every single one down except one within the year. they are scrubbed clean and what they do is bring in and sell the land to merchandising. they have sacks and they transform 6th avenue into the greatest shopping emporium in the country. sacks moves from harolds square to fifth avenue.
the entire stretch of the avenue looks something like this. this is the vanderbilt mansion. the largest. alice vanderbilt lived there. this is sacks, 1923 when it went up. here's a shot of the al i guess vanderbilt mansion. this replaced it. edwin goodman who is a warmt worker from rochester, new york who founded a tailor shop took it out of the business because he was drinking too much and they said don't go there. it has never gone this far uptown. up on central park east. he leases the property and buys it and controls that whole property there. he and his wife lived in a
penthouse. by new york law, custodians were not permitted to live in the industrial building. women made dresses from the 6th floor that were sold in the building. jimmy walker is a friend and walker gets them listed in the city books as custodians. they had to be the richest janitors in the history of the world. it pays to know people. this is the realal stretch as it is transformed in the 20s. these two women formed the newest new york business. it's called the beauty business. cosmetics mostly. founded by elizabeth arden. came to new york on her.
it is also founded by helena rubenstein. they build their shobs close on fifth off and they were venomous rivals. they had their shobs within two blocks for 40 years and never spoke spoke to each other. she called her the other and explained she died her hair. look at that. before they arrived in new york. only actresses and working girls wore make up. by the mid 20s, powder and paint had become badges of independence. they not only put it on in the powder room, but in public. the beauty business becomes one of the largest industries in the country. american women were spending
more on beauty products than all of america was spending on electric power. lots of opportunities for entrepreneurship too. if you were an average woman working in the city in 1927, you made $17 a day. that's not a lot. translated to about $117 a week. about $170 a week today. a woman of these bullety culture schools, you could on your own support not hand comely, but support a family of four. there were lots of opportunities for entrepreneurship. actually one of the most enjoyable things about writing this book was getting to know these and other independent-might bed women, among them successful pioneers
and she changed her name because she was dealing with miserably pate italian american women in the business. ella fitzgerald and dorothy parker and lillian heldman. my personal favorite, bright and beautiful lois long of the new yorker, he columns on the new york fashion industry on and off the avenue. new york's boiling nightclub night. they helped to launch the new yorker as america's most sophisticated cosmopolitan magazine. i prepared for internet publication, a feeture on the striving women of new york. you don't have to pay for it. i have to say here that while i
appreciate the wonderful things in the "new york times" book review section, they wrote about my book, i was shocked. by her comment, there few exceptions and cosmetic pioneer elizabeth arden. the women tend to appear in miller's book as show girls and prostitutes. this is a gross misrepresentation. none of my characters are show girls and there is not a single prostitute in the book. one wonders. anyway. while this is going on, i don't have a slide on this. in vanderbilt and the baurt of jpmorgan move over from this area town. murray hill and fifth avenue. they move across town to sutton
place. they take a neighborhood and make it a community for women dedicated to philanthropy and causes. fred french who saw the skyscraper earlier, he builds an affordable community for in town living. right around heaton place. they used to have a golf course. fred french's paper is there. they are very good. the whole area, the grand central area, sutton place, all along the shore from the greensboro bridge is all transformed at the same time.
that's more representative of the park-like atmosphere they tried to create there. about this time, walter was in town. you know about the chrysler building and one of my editors said there was a walter chrysler? yeah. i said d-day. that's not a zoek. chrysler was the son of a mechanic and gets into the auto business. he forms his own company and once it establishes headquarters in new york, he wants to create
the tallest building in the world. this is four years after introducing his first car. it was called the chrysler 6. at the time he is throwing up the building in 1927, 28, others had the same idea. there is a building going on downtown at 40 wall street. they had the same name in mind. this instigates a sky race. what the paper calls the sky race. who is going to build the first building taller than the eiffel tower. the tallest building in the world. everyone thought as both were nearing completion, everyone figured that 40 wall had won the day. over the chrysler building. chrysler ordered the construction in secret of a
thing called a vertex. that's the needle on the top there. 185 feet high. it is built inside the tower and one october morning in 1929, they raised it up. lard he anybody noticed it. chrysler makes an announcement that gotcha. they it up and the architect then stood four blocks away and watched it and said he thought it would fall down sand create the casualties. it's the highest structure ever built. it's interesting. william van allen, nobody heart of the guy.
he insisted that new yorkers who have such a love for celebrities don't know the names of their architects. the chrysler building was called hot jazz. i think it's a near perfect representation of mid-manhattan style. this fits the biographies. monticello would be a classic example of that. allen used this material that doesn't rust for the trim and of course a lot of you have been in the building and seen that terrific ceiling mural. on that ceiling is images rare
for the time. the guys that sweated this out and risked their lives. it's new york's commanding symbol who built the art deco skyscrapers. if you go across the street, you are at the cannon building. this is how the area emerges by 1930. it's 56 stories high. when it was built before the chrysler building, it was the tallest building on 42nd street. who is irwin channing? in 1919 he just got out of the army and he is broke and jobless. he's the son of immigrants from ukraine. he builds cottage says and they make a little money and they build a hotel and it's not
called that anymore. years after 1919 there is a young man under 40. he's a multimillionaire builder. a master of the mid-town skyline and being touted with fret french, one of the 100 wonder men. this is dedicated to the theme of new york as city of opportunity. with his own life, he designed it. he's a self made architect. his own life as an example of this, as a city of opportunity. he loved the theater. he loved the theater and he wanted this building to be part of the city as theater. he puts up 200 floodlights. he installs them in one of the building's setbacks.
he turned this stock company into a profitable real estate company as well. he's a lot like channing. they pedal real estate years before out of a coal seller in the lonks. by 1927, he is worth $10 million. his skyscraper is autobiographical. you take binoculars out and my book has a cool thing in it. it's got -- it has a map of new york and you press on the buttons and you get the side of the building up on top with the picture of fred french and a description of the building. if you go to the website, you can move that. it's interactive to your ipad.
you can walk around new york and get 35 spots. it's free too. if you look on the construction, the commanding symbol is the rising sun. this guy never stopped believing in himself even when he fail and he failed tremendously in the great depression. he dies at age 53 with a net worth of less than $10,000. to me, some of these buildings are a little too tall. i like the building down the street here. hood's rateiator building.
you will recognize it by the painting of it. this is only 21 stories call here on west 40th street. the first new york skyscraper. i like it because it's built to human scale. it's open to the sun and the air and got a nice park across the street and across the street from the neoclassical library. there it is at night. new york was a gigantic construction site in the 20s. the rivet guns caused a stir and the city tried to control it. like the building of a medieval
cathedral, building a skyscraper was really a thrilling basketball spectacle and a technological show that takes place in the open in the heard of town. some would arrive with binoculars and try to watch the ant-like men, sky boys they called them. they were heroes in a lot of the newspapers. manhattan in the 20s, and it's street theater. when you see guys doing this, these are the sky boys. probably the most fascinating thing for people to watch were that they worked without hard
hats and safety heroin seszs. this is one of the guys there. four guys and a heater, a catcher and a gunman. here's how it works. these guys would have charcoal heaters like you have in your back yard. they would go until they got to a cherry red color. a guy would go in there with tongs and flip the rivet to a catcher. that's a catcher. he would cav catch it in his glove. then there is -- if the catcher misses it, by the way, he either hits and scars him or falls below this missile. capable of driving a hole in someone's head. the catcher then places the
rivet between two beams and the holes between the two beams and they hold it in place while the gun guy with the hammer puts a lot of pressure on it, on the stem of the rivet. his body is shaking until the rivet is smashed kind of like into a mushroom-like cat against the steel. the entire operation takes less than a minute. they suffered one violent death for every 33 hours on the job. he said we don't die. they did a lot of this work and lived in brooklyn and embraced the danger. it enhanced a culture where the women are the main decision makers. they were forbidden and still forbidden to touch their
husbands or son's work belts. especially this bolt thing that fits in directly over the crotch. this legend was kind of racial. they did this work because they were genetically coded to do so. like blacks can jump higher and fearlessness came naturally to them. when you talk to these guys, it was a learned trade. and the work did give them a sense the ownership. i deal with the dockworkers and the roughest job in new york. and guys like this. this work gave these guys a sense of ownership and one of them said we are part of this town. we are mountain builders.
some of them lived across town in hell's tichen. an area of poverty. on the east side, poverty tended to be with the jews, a one-generation experience. they were a catch basin for people who never made it. one of the ways you got out was sports and crime. i'm not going to talk at length about this, but bill dwyer runs one of the biggest bootlegging center. i thought the big guys were luciano. he was not that big until the 30s. dwyer with the former longshoreman forms a syndicate with this fellow, nasty man, frank costello.
later named prime minister of the underworld and leader of the mafia before then. he is an immigrant and this other fella was an irishman from the klums of england. prohibition gave the hoods the opportunity to become and create a million industry and even had an airplane. they arrested the guy. the first proi had addition pilot. he said we are not going to worry about the coast guard. we will buy them off. he would go with gifts and money and women a& later they brought them in with the coast guard boats. guess who they unloaded.
the police in uniform. they unloaded it, they paid off all of the police force and just to be sure, they had five sicilians. they transferred the booze to larger trucks and the trucks on to the running borts with the factories where they cut the booze. one quarts would be quarts of watered down vodka. they were caught occasionally. he had a brewery right in the middle of hell's kitchen. they could never nail him. he had his men control the
grewry. they would control them as well. the cops would arrest him for loiters and give him speeding tickets. when they broke through and slammed through the gates, madden would open a pitch and all of this creamy lager would go in and they have no evidence. he is protected by a boss or he couldn't have pulled off something like this. a real former texas-born movie star, silent him ins and we never she ran the club and she
doesn't drink herself she was investing her money wisely. she helped give the lie to the idea that all american women supported prohibition. that brought down just about anybody in the country. there she is in a drawing at her club. where walker was. now, he would right around with his buddy. george played all the gangster films in the 30s. they were all modelled on it. to move in a city like this, i think it needs two things. density, diversity. density and diversity can lead to congestion.
you need movement. while all this is going on, this was my problem with what was going on in the debate with the last election about what's going to happen to the east side of mid-town. there is not enough public transportation to while this was under way, they built the 6th avenue subway and the westside highway. they were building the holland tunnel and the george washington bridge. here's the guy who built the holland tunnel. he's a chief engineer. he died of stress. the tunnel was begun in 1919. the schools closed down and the
lights are out and they had the riots in the city. they build the tunnel. two months after the ground was broken, it's the first vehicular tunnel and for the first time it's the longest in the world. digging it wasn't the challenge. they started bigging out in new york. they bug railroad tunnels before. cleaning out the poison out fumes from cars and trucks. nobody had a problem like that before. they threw cars in there for weeks. a couple people died from poisoning. holland does this. here they are. they still stand. industrial architecture, two at
each end of the tunnel. they capture the wind and they have 80 or mind gigantic fans inside to power the wind and get it going and shoot it into the punle. if you had a fire, it would go through. pull it in gradually and the air comes in at your hub cap level. the bad air is stucked out. the air inside the holland tunnel and every tunnel in the world is changed every 90 contacts. without this, the tunnel would be poisonous. they lead pedestrians in here first. people would come in from jersey city and shake hands with
manhattan people. how are you doing? this is one of my heroes. he designed almost every modern bridge in new york city. the last bridge was the verrazano. the most daring feat about the construction is the thin deck. very slender and not many people thought it would hold the traffic it had to hold. probably the most pleasing feature to a lot of industrial ark lolgss is this bracing, he thought it should be decorated. later he tried not to like this
accidental artwork and all of the later bridges are like this. they called it the most beautiful bridge in the world. now this bridge increases congestion, but also creates suburbs a lot of the cars bored into new york and crossed the tunnel into the hell's kitchen area. at this point death avenue. as it was called. if you read the fortunate pilgrim, about growing up in hell's kitchen. he has a character who rides a horse. the debbies they call it. he would carry a lantern or a flag. he would warn them that a train
was coming down. over 1,000 people were killed and that called death avenue. they pressed hard for the elevation of the traps and so you could move cars, but most importantly save lives. they forced the railroad that controlled mid-town manhattan at that time. they forced it to elevate their freight line and take them through buildings. that is done in 1934. it's the new york lie line. the rukz when it's completed. not an improvement if you lived under it. they usually got the one of the of this stuff.
that this is what happens when you have these transformations taking place. the biggest industry by far, it doesn't have steel mills, but it's marmt making. they toon to be made close to specialized stores and you are not handling a mass produced product. that remains on fashion avenue, but the making of the dress occurs where i live in the cold region of pennsylvania. this is actually, i can say this. i should say this. another industry that stays in
new york and for the same reason, i can't going to do this, but it's publishers. a group of publishers move into the area. he was a stockbroker from plefl. they are challenging them to control publishing. they want to publish books like they are with hollywood-style fanfare. he said i loved it. there it was on the roof of the subway. he was a gambler who gambled on hemingway. he gambled on the great playwright. here he is in his office off 6th
avenue. he drank and on some days, there were more bootleggers in the office. he is a real publisher. his lawyer represented before he was mayor. that was none other than jimmy walker. no woman has ever been ruined by a look. brackula. he did a couple of american tragedies and things like that. he is drawn to baud way as a lot of people were. this is finally the last district we are dealing with. this is built in 1904 on what had been long acre square here.
a subway station is built under it. here it is lit up at night. this is when the first ball was dropped. there were supposed to be a guard of a million people here. it doesn't look like that on the picture. that was brought way south. in the 20s, the slight show is technical. multicolored lights that whirled and spun and they called it a great line and said it's a experience against the night. in the 20s, what happens on time square and on bought way is this. they push them off broadway where they are today.
you can only fill a theater to you can show shows a day. they are driving these people out of business. they used to make them up in queens and most are made in hollywood. the most spectacular of he's is this is the only good shot we can get. this is the roxy. this is opening night on west 50th street. he called it and he was a self-promoter. the cathedral of the motion picture. they used to joke a lot about it. it was enormous. one called it the largest theater since the fall of roam. they have 5,000 or 6,000 seats.
there is a new yorker cartoon with a kid standing here holding his mom's hand. he was about 5 years old. he looks up and said does got live here? a lot of them poke fun. rocky was after the common crowd. for $1.50, he could take a seat with his wife. roxy used to be a drill sergeant. these kids were trained by him. roxy's story is rags to riches.
he lives in a lumber town in minnesota. he arrived in 1912 and gets a job on the road why pennsylvania in the coal region where my family was born. he runs into a girl he likes and he loved hot dogs and he liked the girl burden. he stayed. her father didn't trust him. you have to stay here in town. i will give you the cold eye. he said you have a skating rink because you are original happying they would be a designer. he walked in the snow from the little town he was in. forest hill, and he walks to scranton, pennsylvania. he shows them in the back.
puts a white sheet down and rolls the projector and makes the introduction and hires a woman from the choir to play the pay anno and gets the seats from the funeral parlor and all kinds of crazy stuff. he has pictures of the rose parade. this is unbelievable. he ties sponges and dips into the rosewater. he hangs them on two electric fans and calls it smellavision. he comes to new york and they had the big theaters, but they can't produce enough good movies to fill the theater every night. what do you do? you create a thing called the prologue that lasts four hours.
that precedes the film and to roxy it was more important. he takes over the biggest theater in new york called the capital theater and brings in a 100 piece orchestra. the clog dancers and elephants and lions and then the film. you can't fill the place up. marcus lowe, one of the founters said he point the out what roxy was all about. roxy goes to the radio and starts broadcasting them with occasionally commentary. he puts together a variety show with the stars of his prologue. 1927 he moves to nbc. sarn of is the biggest radio
personality in the country. he worked for the mar coney company. that is him. he will come to new york where he had an affiliate and a lot of girlfriends in new york. when they create a spin off called rca that turned the company from ship to shore communications. he said let's do this. how about creating an entertainment box. out of it will come news and spores and all that and we will put it in the living room. they thought he was crazy. five years later they did it. they move rca head for thes from
downtown. it was created up near broadway. here's where the entertainment is. here's where bing crosby is. his lifelong rival was there. he is a self-meat guy, but now that the family started in ukraine, but by the time they moved from chicago, he went to the school and his he dated new jewish girls. the battle for supremacy and radio, television, and then color television. it's he who links them fairly and permanently to advertising. somebody wrote him a letter and say i am getting this sbrat entertainment and music. who do i pay? so nobody is paid for by
advertising. he hooks up. in 1928, he signs up washington, d.c.'s duke elling who had been playing in the downtown club near here. it's called the club kentucky. they had another act in harlem. this is all black entertainment and all white audience. there was an audience and the band leader died. the agent by the way is irving mills, one of the great music agents in the country here. madden wanted ellington. here's how he got him. he had a contract to go out on the road for the christmas
season. he found out that ellington was in philly. they talked to the guy who was running the show. they hold him be big or be dead. his name was clarence robinson. he was big. he let ellington go. he left the band for history. those recordings were making it big nationally. this exposure put his music out to the country and changes everything. people walled it hot jazz. he said i don't write jazz. he saw the music of my people. two years later, he hooks up
with florence zig felled. he had the guts to hire a black entertainer to go on taj with white women. show girls. the big theater companies in new york city, schuberts especially wrote nazi-like propeganta. here's zig felled from chicago who started out as a started out as a carnival and the dancing ducks of denmark. things like that. the cops came in and closed it down. the reason they were dancing is they were -- the stage had heated gas underneath it. he gets his start as you know in new york with follies.
he creates the follies. the new york sensation. he attended the costume productions, reviews they were called. designed to glorify the american girl. here's the thing. in 27, this master of light entertainment stuns the country and his critics by producing a classic. as several pointed out, brought way is before and after show boat. it is set in the mississippi road and it dealt with the explosive issue. it has a mixed black and white cast. almost as many blacks as whites. the songs go directly with oklahoma out of the plot and the dialogue. it revolutionized the movement.
called the best musical ever written. he played joe and had that stirring rendition. he would later play in the production. that year we conclude here. that year, he mounts six shows. that never has been equal and has the backing of the newspaper mogul. hurst gives him the money to open. that later was torn down. i think it was zig felled who spent time out of new york in the 20s. he represents and embodies the excess and dispagz. serial adultery.
it's daring and fantastic. he's fascinating, but not together appealing. he hired more and better comeetians, but no one ever saw him laugh. he never miled. he had a magentism and his favorite means of communication was the telegram. some of the staffers directly across the hall from him, 15 yards away. one of his friends said if this man dies, sell western union shorts. and they entertained, he and his wife did, billy burke, the actress, they entertained on the biggest stage called berkley crest. they entertained like ancient romans. they had a menagerie of animals. twin bears named tunney and
dempsey, and he's a gambler. and it's a source of both his success and his ruin. like that old thing while your strongest trait is also your greatest weakness, he had that. he'd lose $50,000 a night in casinos and far more in these expensive broadway flops. and when the market crashed in '29 he never recovered. once master of his own world, and he really was, he dies in '36, and he has a quarter of a million dollars in debts and he dies. i think ziegfeld contributed a
lot, the extravagance of the age to the near complete disregard, i should say, for inhibitions. but i don't think the '20s were, in manhattan, at least, this glary-eyed spree that fitzgerald chronicles in a story called "the crack up." i don't think any other decade in the life of that city was more alive or more enduringly creative. and it was really, these are shots from, respectively the follys and "showboat." in that year there were more broadway productions produced in any one year at any one time. and this is the way the city looked at the beginning of the depression. everything looked so promising, then you're facing a depression that's going to grind on until world war ii. but what they created was magnificent. these slender skies, this was
the epicenter culturally and architecturally of the country. by night, the skyscraper looms in smoke and the stars and has a soul. thank you, appreciate it. [ applause ] now we do q&a. i can feel an interest here. yeah, we're going to pass a mic around. if anybody has any questions, i'll be happy to stick around. wait till -- like a lot of new yorkers, we're at the mercy of mass transit. yes. >> hi, thank you very much.
that was wonderful. >> a little louder. >> oh, that was wonderful. thank you. >> speak directly into it. it's very hard to hear. >> okay. sorry. i was wondering how you chose your cast of characters. >> i'm sorry? >> how you chose your cast of characters? there were so many. >> i didn't choose them, i didn't set out like i didn't write down the characters. i just thought to tell the story, and the characters just, you know, it's a cliche where books really have a life of their own and this really d these characters kept popping up. people i'd never heard of. i never heard of hattie carnegie. i knew there was a french building. i didn't know the story of this tremendously successful stock seller. i didn't know much about lois long, about her personal life. and to me, she was the quintessential jazz-age woman with the long string of pearls and drinking and carousing all
night and going in the office at 4:00 in the morning, taking off her dress, sitting down at the typewriter with a cigarette out of her mouth and pounding out copy that would beat alt bl the boys. she's terrific. like out of vassar. it was like getting to know them. yes, sir? here's the mic. >> did mcfadden, who was the biggest magazine publisher, what contributions did he make to new york city itself? >> well, he brought down the level of public taste in a big way. and you know, we have the term photo shop now, you know, so he'd take the body of another human being and stick the head of a guy who was accused of beating his wife and there he
was. his picture's in the paper. ann brought journalism to a new, spectacular low, with a series of tabloid magazines and tabloid newspapers, i should say, that tried to outsell the daily news. but the daily news was the big bear in the room. and -- >> perfect. >> mcfadden's also a health nut. so he'd have all this stuff on his sexual exploits and how much he could lift and how well he could perform. it was a sickening magazine. >> but the penny restaurants that he opened, four in new york and two in chicago, what contribution would you say they made to the city and the country? >> his forming restaurants? penny restaurants. i don't know much about that. that story. i really don't. i just know him as the tabloid.
bernarr mcfadden, with two "r"s. >> -- they just -- >> that's a wonderful question. she asked me who's financing this thing. new york is both rich and poor at the same time. there's very little federal income tax. there's hardly any state tax. the big tax in new york city is property tax. so here's how the real estate game works, and this is what's subsidizing this construction, and that's the big business notice city, and that's what the city government banked on, too, if i throw up a 15-story building, the most economical thing i could do is to approve its demolition and throw up a 35 story building because i could pull in more rents. as long as the rents are coming in, okay, you have more taxpayers there and the city gets the profits, doubles its
profits by building double the size of the building. so the city profits. candidate banks profit? of course, because they're loaning money to the city and 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 copes going up and up and up and up. you know the erving berlin song "blue skies"? it's always going to be blue skies. so when it hits, the banks call in their loans, the banks go under, but so did the city. and new york city is officially bankrupt. so that's the thing that powers this. it's powered by an idea. confidence. there would be those who would say new york is overbuilt. then the next day there would be articles contesting that whole idea -- this city can never be overbuilt. it's a growth-driven place.
it always has been. >> thanks a lot. you talked about the fact that no one expected the depression to come. >> well, some people, you know, their profits only when it comes. >> my question is, among your characters, were there any who were, sort of like the sky is falling kind of characters? >> sarnoff. he sold off his stuff in 1928, including rca. he wouldn't explain to his mother or anybody else why he did that. but he kind of sees it.
ot otto kahn. and he had the same philosophy. we'll get in debt, but we're creating lots of books, and we're putting lots of books on the best seller's list and it will balance out. ironically, he had a collection of books called the modern american library. there were no paper backs to use in colleges back then. so if you wanted to use hard times by dickens you had to use a hard back. so they produced these little books that sold for 59 cents or 99 cents. and one day he went to lunch with a young editor named bennett surf. and he said more horace, i'd li buy the american library, and he said you got it. he wanted to get out from under the thumb of his father-in-law
who his wife hired to keep an eye on him, not only with women, but with money. and he thought he could pay off some of his debts and things like that. so he sold the modern library. now surf went out and created just with the modern library, random house. and by the '30s random house takes off. that's the same philosophy that's motivating a lot of these people. using up life, living like that. babe ruth, the classic example of that sort of thing. >> i want to say that theorella laguardia was one of the people who saw the downfall. >> he plays a big role in my book. he is the antithesis. he was in the congress at the time as an independent and
socialist and republican. he bounced around from party to party. a lot of people thought he was untrustworthy for that reason. he would introduce these magnificently expensive bills to support prohibition. and the cruel irony to the conservatives is three were also fiscal conservatives, and they didn't want to pay to enforce it of so laguardia was putting these big appropriations, let's enforce it. and they had a'd be embarrassed. he'd go into drugstores and make concoctions and drink them in front of reporters. here's how you make booze. laguardia did battle tammany corruption, but he didn't see it all. even he, when he ran against walker in 1930, he got beaten very, very badly. and one of the reasons is tammany was, as long as there
was prosperity, you know, there were so many people dependent upon tammany, and it did an awful lot of people for good in the neighborhoods. i still think one of the biggest mistakes new york has made is when they went away from the alderamic system. somebody throws a rock through your window, who do you call anymore? chicago with an alderman system, you go down to the local alderman and he takes care of things like that. your car gets impounded, your kid gets thrown in jail, for a minor offense, the alderman can intervene. you fwhknow what a phone call c do in new york, nothing. that was one of the problems with the system. and tammany had people there helping the alderman anytime somebody needed help. they were there to help them. and people congregated at these tammany clubhouses, and they provided jobs, and all they
asked for was your vote. so they'd say about walker, yeah. he's pocketing a little bit. and, as i said, he got most of his money not from the treasury. he got most of his money from private friends. and it wasn't tit for tat. it was just them giving him money. and they could never prove the reciprocity side of it, you know, this project, this bribe for this project. that's what they couldn't nail him on. he got nailed for taking too much money, and he should have. he should have been removed from office. for running the city like that. for his own benefit, as it were. yes? >> there's a, sorry. there's a great book by a lady named mary henderson, all about the theater, the growth of the theater. >> oh, it's a wonderful bock. >> isn't it? >> it's 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 '20s if people had no money to go to the theater anymore, to nightclubs or what have you, how the heck did any of them stay snoep. >> that's a terrific question. what kept it alive was hollywood. people continued to go to movies for release during the depression. i mean the more people, far more people went to the movies in the '30s, there were better films, of course than the '20s, so they would, broadway was used as a testing ground for productions that could be turned into films. and an awful lot of the money subsidizing broadway theater came from the west coast. and that's what underwrote this. and there was also this, i found with so many people like livewright. there was this absolutely
alluring fascination with theater, with owning a play, going to the rehearsals, meeting the actors, sitting in the audience on the first night. there's this, there's this tingle about that sort of thing, for people who are interested in live theater, and it's a gamble. you know, fortune magazine did a terrific thing, henry loose's publication founded in 1930 on the theory of business. it goes into a thing about how these things stay alive during the depression. but that was their driving argument, that it was largely hollywood and largely speculators who had enough money to waste if they would lose it and felt this tremendous, almost magnetic draw to the theater world. and she talks about that a little bit in the book as well. anyone else? any questions? yes, sir. >> professor, one quick
question. your first book dealt with chicago, post fire. i'm wondering, the similarities seem very easy to draw between new york and chicago of those respective eras. are there any differences, things that made those cities different, either in the political realm or anyway, those arcs of those two stories rise and fall. >> yeah. i'm doing a presentation in chicago about that, and i better start thinking about it. [ laughter ] with a chicago historian. we are doing a thing on gang life and politics on capone and things like that. you know, chicago made a couple of mistakes. and it was the skyscraper center of the world in the 1890s. it had the best skyscrapers and