Today in 1915 The actor and comedian Zero Mostel is born in Brownsville; remembered for his stage (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Fiddler on the Roof) and film (The Producers) career, he began his working life as an artist employed by the WPA.
This Day in History
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In 1836–1837 flour prices escalated from $7 to $12 per barrel, creating fear that this necessary commodity would become unaffordable. In February 1837, a mass meeting was called in protest. The mob attacked Hart & Co., an establishment accused of hoarding flour. More than 400 barrels of flour and thousands of sacks of wheat were thrown out the windows. The military was called in to quell the rioting.
The reason lies in their economic importance to the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam which sought to establish an economical fur trade to supply Holland. Although the skins of several animals were traded, beavers represented the dominant commodity, so much so that beaver skins were used as money in both New Amsterdam and early colonial New York.
She was an African-American schoolteacher who fought for the right to ride on a horse-drawn streetcar. In July of 1854 she was violently prevented from boarding a car labeled "whites only" on a Sunday when she was running late to church. Her family and other church congregants helped establish a legal rights association for African Americans that successfully challenged law in court.
Louis G. Schwartz, who worked during World War II at the Sixth Avenue Delicatessen but never at Katz's, concoted the slogan to support his son-in-law, a German P.O.W. With another saying—"You'll buy War Bonds sooner or later / So get them today from Louie the Waiter"—he single-handedly raised a staggering nine million dollars for the war effort.
The last director general of New Netherland lost his right leg before he came to New Amsterdam. Working for the Dutch West India Company in 1644, Stuyvesant was leading an assault on a Spanish fort in the Caribbean when a cannonball hit his lower right leg. After a gruesome amputation, he was given his famous wooden leg.
May Day evokes images of flowers and maypoles elsewhere in the Western world, but for nineteenth-century New Yorkers it was a horror of disorder, price gouging and panic. May 1 was Moving or Rent Day, when leases expired and thousands of tenants simultaneously changed abodes, their belongings jostled in the clogged streets by reckless cart men charging extortionate rates.