Today in 1524 Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian explorer in the service of France, becomes the first European to sail into what is now New York Harbor; the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge linking Brooklyn and Staten Island is named for him.
This Day in History
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The nickname harkens back to the original jail at White and Centre Streets, an imposing Egyptian-style edifice erected in 1838 by John Haviland. While most likely inspired by the building's perceived resemblance to an Egyptian tomb, credit for the name remains in doubt. Although the original tomb-like building is long gone, the nickname is still used.
The Hearst Building, known originally as the International Magazine Building, was designed in 1927 by the Vienna-born designer and architect Joseph Urban. At the time of its construction, it was intended to act as the base for a monumental tower that was never built. Because it is landmarked, the Hearst Building could not be demolished when plans to expand it were revived. Norman Foster's much-praised "green" structure that sits atop Urban's building, despite its very different style, captures some of the theatricality of the original plan.
While never a brothel, exactly, there really was a tin-skinned elephant-shaped structure on Coney Island. Its proper name was Elephantine Colossus and it stood on a seedy stretch of Surf Avenue near West 12th Street, where the phrase "seeing the elephant" became euphemistic for picking up local prostitutes. Built in 1884, it burned to a cinder on September 27, 1896.
Emmet was an exiled leader of the 1798 Irish Rebellion, who by his death in 1827 had become one of New York's most prominent lawyers. Labeled one of the "disaffected Irish," Emmet's 1804 emigration to America had faced stiff opposition from future New York senator Rufus King and other Federalists. Incidentally, Emmet's body remains in a "temporary" grave at St. Mark's-Church-in-the-Bowery.
In an 1862 report, Central Park had eighteen named entrance gates, reflecting the character of the citizens of New York City (subsequent gates were added later). The first gate had its name chiseled in its stone entrance in 1954 and the final gate was chiseled in 1999. Some original gates were named after women, hunters, mariners, All Saints, boys, children, miners, engineers, woodmen, girls, pioneers, farmers, warriors and strangers.
Near Grant's Tomb stands an inscribed stone urn: "Erected to the memory of an amiable child, St. Claire Pollock. Died 15 July 1797, in the fifth year of his age." The boy was the son of George and Catherine Pollock. It's thought he died from a fall off the cliffs overlooking the Hudson River. The land became part of Riverside Park in the 1870s. As late as 1994 a neighborhood group honored his memory with a yearly ceremony.