Today in 1797 The new state prison opens in Greenwich Village; it is considered spacious and airy, with excellent Hudson river views, but somewhat too easy to escape; years later it is replaced by the one at Sing Sing, thirty-five miles up the river.
This Day in History
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In 1895 street cleaning commissioner Colonel George E. Waring Jr. ordered his entire brigade of sweepers to wear all white uniforms and caps. He believed the eye-catching regulation whites would keep members of the force at work, and would prevent them from slacking off. Regulation whites remained in effect until the 1930s.
Signs commonly point to George Washington. Although other, unsubstantiated stories crediting Washington exist, the best documented source is a 1785 thank-you letter to the New York Common Council for bestowing upon him the Freedom of the City. In addition to praising New York's resilience in the war he describes the State of New York as "the Seat of the Empire."
Lower Manhattan and West Village streets reflect the original paths that formed as the early Dutch settlers traveled to the company store. John Randel, Jr.'s grid plan for the rest of the island (1807) reflected the city commissioner's opinion that straight-sided and right angled houses were inexpensive to build and convenient to live in. Broadway runs on a diagonal because it originally followed the Indian Wickquasgeck Trail.
Cowboys once roamed the West Side, but not to rustle cattle. Instead they cleared a path for freight trains traveling along chocked Eleventh Avenue and West Street. It was so dangerous that the street was called Death Avenue, and the horsemen who guided the trains were known as Death Avenue Cowboys. The street-level freight line was replaced by the High Line in 1934.
One-time Republican presidential hopeful, 59-year-old Roscoe Conkling, fell into a snowdrift in Union Square after refusing to pay an exorbitant sum for a cab. Stuck for twenty minutes, Conkling freed himself, but collapsed and died from the effects a month later, one of 400 in the Northeast who died in the most grievous natural disaster to befall New York City.
In 1970, after fifteen years of failed attempts to air-condition subway cars, nine percent of cars were cool. Mayor Lindsay's promise to cool the entire system by 1980 proved untenable due to the city's budget crisis. By 1985, fifty-seven percent of the cars had air conditioning. Twenty-five years later all cars have A/C but the lack of frequent servicing remains an impediment to a guaranteed cool ride.