On this day, January 24th, 1862, writer Edith Wharton is born in New York City. Born Edith Newbold Jones, she was a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, short story writer as well as a gardener and internior designer. Born into a well to do family, it is said that the saying, “keeping up with the joneses” refers to her father’s family. Much of Wharton’s writing focuses on social issues and in 1905 she wrote, The House of Mirth about old New Yorksociety. Another well known work of hers is The Age of Innocence which she had written in France. The Age of Innocence won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921, making Wharton the first woman to win the award.
On this day, January 23rd, Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the United States’ first female doctor. She is awarded her MD by the Geneva Medical College of Geneva, New York. Blackwell was born in Bristol, England but sailed for America with her family when she was eleven years old. After settling in to the new country, her father, Samuel Blackwell set up a Sugar Refinery in New York City. Blackwell made the decision to enter into medicine after a close friend died of an unknown painful disease. It was her friend’s opinion that a female doctor may have been able to make her more comfortable. Blackwell was the first registered doctor in the United States as well as the United Kingdom, she also became an advocate for the education of female doctors.
On this day, January 22nd, 1957, George P. Metesky, New York City’s “Mad Bomber” is arrested in Waterbury, Connecticut. He is charged with planting more than 30 bombs. Metesky terrorized NYC for over a decade by planting bombs in movie theaters, terminals, libraries, phone booths, offices and restrooms of public buildings. Some of his targets were Grand Central Station, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Penn Station, Radio City Music Hall and the New York City Subway. Over the years he planted 33 bombs of which are known, 22 exploded injuring 15 people. After his arrest he was brought up on 47 charges. Metesky was found legally insane and committed to a state mental hospital after being deemed incompetent to stand trial.
On this day, January 21st, 1908, New York City passes the Sullivan Ordinance. The ordinance made it illegal for women to smoke in public. The law was quickly enforced and women who were caught smoking in public were arrested. After only two weeks however, the mayor overturned the ordinance.
On this day, January 20th, 1885, L.A. Thompson patents the roller coaster. Thompson was an inventor and businessman, however he is most well known for developing many roller coaster rides. His first design, the Switchback Railway was the first roller coaster created as an amusement park ride in America and opened in Coney Island in 1884. The Switchback Railwaystood on the present day site of the Cyclone. The ride went 6 mph and costs 5 cents. Thompson would opened many more roller coasters in the US and Europe.
Howard Hughes "standing in front of his new Boeing Army Pursuit Plane" (Boeing 100A) in Inglewood, California in the 1940s. The black "halo" is presumably intended to make the head stand out better. (Not uncommon at the time for photos intended to be reproduced via low resolution newsprint wire photos) The photo is from the Library of Congress, specifically reproduction number LC-USZ62-63333. The library says "No copyright found; checked by staff December 2000."
On this day, January 19th, 1937, Howard Hughes set a new air record. The big time movie producer flew from Los Angeles, California to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds. Hughes was an avid aviator and set multiple air speed records. He also built his own aircraft. Hughes acquired and expanded Trans World Airlines, now known as American Airlines.
On this day, January 18th, 1944, the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC hosts its first jazz concert. The star studded line up included Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw, Roy Eldridge and Jack Teagarden.
On this day, January 17th, 1929, Popeye the Sailor Man debuts in the Thimble Theatre Comic Strip. The comic strip was created by E. C. Segar and was published in the New York Journal, a William Randolph Hearst Publication. Among the most popular characters were of course, Popeye and Olive Oyl, however the cast would soon grow. In 1933, Popeye and company would debut on television becoming one of the most popular cartoon shows of the 1930s. Although Popeye official said goodbye to running as a daily comic strip in 1994, the strips still published on Sundays. Currently, Time Warner owns the rights to the cartoons.
On this day, January 16th, 1878, Harry Dewitt Carey II is born in the Bronx, New York. Carey was one of silent film’s first successful actors. Carey’s father Henry Dewitt Carey was a prominent New Yorklawyer and judge of the New York Supreme Court. Carey also became very well known as one of the first stars of the Western film genre.
On this day, January 15th, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 makes an emergency landing in the Hudson River. The pilot, Capt. Chelsea B. “Sully” Sullenberger, a former fighter pilot, made the miraculous landing after striking a flock of Canadian Geese shortly after takeoff from La Guardia Airport. With no other option after losing engine power he made the emergency landing in the river. Luckily, all 155 passengers and crew members were safely rescued. The entire crew was awarded with the Master’s Medal of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators.
On this day in Old New York
A Daily Feature where we focus on a historical event related to NYC that occurred on this day.
For Available Dates please click Here