Jefferson Market Courthouse in New York

A Love Affair with a Landmark in Manhattan: An Arresting Drama in Greenwich Village. [Opinions expressed are the views of OLD JEFF unless attributed to other - - potentially less-reliable - - sources, i.e., newcomers who have not been around since 1832 on Sixth Avenue.]

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Little Bit Murdered

New York's Sherlock Explores a Mystery at 425 Sixth Avenue
Crimes & Whispers Make Greenwich Village Residents Anxious

• • At 425 Sixth Avenue unexplained wounds and heart-stopping damage are now a real-life version of "CSI." Coroners are using science, creative thinking - - and even a Beta version of Pro-Quest - - to try to answer the question many are asking: Who or what killed Jefferson M. Landmark? With evidence that's been misfiled or hidden away, witnesses who fled the state, and an overworked police department, at least one official says the mystery may never be solved.
• • "We don't know if it is a case of intentional murder, wanton destruction, criminal neglect, or an accident," said New York preservationist Cynthia Mulry-Angle. "Though we have our suspicions and educated guesses, in fact, we may never know."

• • • • Where Sixth Meets Suspicion • • • •

• • Several officials close to this case reported that a cover-up is afoot.

• • According to Carol Greitzer, a former City Councilmember, years ago, local community board members who were close to Jefferson M. Landmark had been serving on what was a very effective branch library council, which met monthly under the aegis of NYPL Branch Libraries Director Ed Holmgren. This group dealt with budget issues, building repairs, and other matters, bringing up concerns of the individual branches, and reporting back to the communities. This activist group has been disbanded, to be replaced by the Borough Advocacy Committee, which meets only twice a year. When Greitzer asked for a list of the committee members, she was told that, “on advice of counsel,” no names could be released.
• • Forensic experts admitted that a cover-up always indicated guilt and deeper problems. They added that those who are examining bodies and structures recovered in and around New York do occasionally find something suspicious - - a bullet lodged in a bone, a wound that could match a knife blade, and more subtle clues. When that happens, they set the bodies or the buildings aside for a closer look, and notify the police and district attorney, said an assistant to New York State's leading architectural preservation detective. Often an architect or a family's lawyer has advised relatives not to speak to reporters.
• • The 425 Sixth Avenue mystery case is in limbo until Jessica Schmidt, a Landmarks Preservation Commission violation officer, or L.P.C.'s small forensic staff can re-examine the structure for clues. When the investigation does begin, the forensic team will face challenges: rainfall and recent snowstorms not only washed away evidence from the crime scene but also forced both perpetrators and potential witnesses to flee. [To report new info, contact Landmarks Commission Violation Officers: Tel 212-669-7948.]
• • Still, Dr. Fred Seidenbaum, a prominent forensic pathologist and his staff predicted that no one will get away with a landmark crime because there's one piece of evidence that time and natural elements did not wash away: the corpse. "Don't forget that the building itself is a crime scene. Always," this source emphasized. Dr. Seidenbaum added, "There is evidence we hope to find: masonry scratches maybe or limestone nicks that don't belong there."
• • And not all human-inflicted wounds lead to murder. Architect Callie Withers said he examined the structure of a builder who died during a fire who police believe had been slain. The condition of a building can make the immediate determination of the cause of death difficult, according to Withers. Often, buildings can become so badly deteriorated that there are no fingerprints on them of people who are still alive, or sometimes injuries were sustained by encounters with debris during natural disasters.
• • Preservation violation officers try to rule out foul play by looking for - - and not finding - - obvious signs: bullets, hatchet marks, arson, suspicious stains, and structural fractures.
• • But Margot Gayle, a prominent preservationist, indicated that she has never seen such a beloved building in such bad condition and said that forensics can only determine so much. "I think in many incidents, it's going to be impossible," she said. To her, the best service Greenwich Village residents can offer in this situation would be witness statements, letters, and other testimony.
• • Still, Marilyn Bank-Streeter, spokesperson of the Greenwich Village Block Associations [and also a part-time crime stopper], said her group is counting on the politicians, preservation organizations, and law enforcement to do everything they can to solve the mysterious death. "There will be justice. It just may take a while," she said. "Nothing is being forgotten." Bank-Streeter added, "Most crimes, despite what you see on 'CSI,' are not solved by forensics. Most crimes against landmarks are solved by people talking. Especially in Greenwich Village, people talk." (The Greenwich Village Block Associations is a non-profit organization representing 35 local block associations.)
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• • Illustration: "Sixth Avenue Elevated at Third Street, 1928" • John Sloan

Jefferson Market.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Why? Here's Y !

Greenwich Village's respected weekly newspaper, The Villager, published an EDITORIAL that posed a question. First, here's a reprint of their inquiry - - and Old Jeff's response is directly below.
The Villager [Vol. 75, No. 35 | January 18 - 24, 2006

• • • • Editorial: • • • •
Why must we choose outside vs. inside at Jefferson Library?

• • One of Greenwich Village’s most distinctive and beautiful buildings, the Jefferson Market Library on Sixth Avenue has stood with its exterior shrouded in scaffolding for nearly three years.
Last year the community got wind of a New York Public Library proposal to do an extensive interior renovation and also add a new teen lounge to the library — this even as the exterior is sorely needing of repairs.

• • The overwhelming sentiment of local residents at public meetings on the library is that they don’t want a separate teen lounge to bump the research room out of the library’s basement floor or shrink the research area’s space. Many Villagers and others value this downstairs space as a quiet spot to do research, look at microfilm or just read undisturbed in peace. The library’s research facilities are valuable to writers and other researchers and the quiet is appreciated by those who are searching for some tranquility in a cacophonous, always-bustling city. This basement with its Gothic archways has its aesthetic charm too.
• • Since The Villager first reported the teen lounge plans 8 months ago, the plans have evolved somewhat. Initially, library officials said the lounge might have more comfortable furniture, times when music is played, and a TV set that plays music videos. Teen lounges are a national trend to attract youth to libraries, they said. They are popular in Los Angeles and there is already one in the Donnell Library on W. 53rd St.
• • However, at a Village Independent Democrats meeting last week, a library official described the prospective Jefferson Market Library teen lounge as a space with books and computers that, while designated for young adults, will be open to all users.
• • At times, the debate has resembled an intergenerational conflict, with some residents saying the youth don’t need a segregated area but should integrate with “the population” and that a separate youth space will create a racket.
• • While discussion of the teen lounge continues, the fact remains that the library’s exterior, its limestone trim and gargoyles, desperately needs repair and that pieces of it are at risk of falling — hence the scaffolding.
• • Council Speaker Christine Quinn is looking into whether the $2.1 million the Council allocated for the interior renovations — about two-thirds of the total cost — can be switched to the exterior renovation.
• • It seems absurd, though, that we must choose between interior or exterior. Why can’t we do both? Clearly, this landmarked 1877 building’s exterior must be renovated and that unsightly shed removed as quickly as possible. As for the teen lounge, we’d like to hear more about it, in terms of programming and staffing, for example. Will this prospective lounge be a hangout or a place teenagers can fill their minds with knowledge and sharpen literacy skills?
• • Villagers rallied to save this historic building and convert it to a library in 1967. Let’s not let it crumble now. The funding has to be there somewhere.
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• • • • Old Jeff Responds • • • •

When people have demonstrated an ongoing lack of integrity and a lack of respect, who would trust these folks to do the right thing? By their approach, Susan C.Y.A. Kent and her ilk have offended and alienated this community. At this point, a discussion of INTERIOR renovations [- - which might include a 36-inch-TV in a new Teen Lounge, and ear-splitting music videos, two prominent features in the Donnell Library's Teen Central on West 53rd St. - - ] would not even be possible until the NYPL shows good faith by restoring the EXTERIOR and removing that wooden sarcophagus.
• • • • YES, one of Greenwich Village’s most distinctive and beautiful landmarks, the Jefferson Market Library on Sixth Avenue, has stood with its exterior shrouded in a sidewalk bridge (paid for by NYC taxpayers) for nearly three years. WHY? Because the exterior is crying for repairs.
• • • • YES, the 19th century Venetian Gothic facade is so badly damaged because the NYPL neglected it for decades. [In the 1960s, the NYPL only wanted the site -- so that they could erect a new building.]
• • Lack of respect: their initial rejection of our 19th century building.
• • Lack of integrity: their profound neglect of the facade has caused interior leaks. If you're truly a book-lover, how do you feel about water damage?
• • Reaction: "Damage to the exterior of the building is noticeable indoors," says Cynthia Crane Story, a preservationist, "with a detectable odor of urine and mold. Imagine a mold infestation taking hold, the unimaginable costs to a library - - a building full of paper."
• • • • YES, the overwhelming sentiment of local residents at public meetings on the library is that fixing the FACADE comes first - - and this repair is way overdue.
• • Lack of respect: During an autumn meeting attended by over 100 local residents, NYPL representatives coolly informed attendees that it intended to forge ahead and may close the library for extended periods - - despite the community's nearly unanimous disapproval of their plans.
• • Lack of integrity: Scrutiny suggests that the trustees and fat-cat executives of the New York Public Library [trading on their "public" name and the goodwill that comes when citizens believe an institution really cares about the city's underprivileged], in fact, preside over a well-oiled system designed to ensure that the proceeds of their glamourous fundraisers and the gifts of generous donors will NOT trickle down to the branch libraries.
• • Lack of integrity: Even as the NYPL applies for more funding from the City for this new "teen lounge" trend, the NYPL is decreasing their number of young-adult librarians! There are only 48 young-adult librarians in the system, down from 81 in 1995, said Debbie Bujosa, a library spokeswoman [in a recent N.Y. Times interview]. Think about it. . . .
• • Lack of integrity: Greenwich Villagers, proud of the area's literary history, view their library as a book zone, a place for reading. When Kent pushes for a library lounge aimed at teenagers that has little to do with reading, and more to do with music-video viewing or TV watching, there's no BOOK on her hook. Sounds like an attempt to turn a library into a Starbucks.
• • Reaction: GVBA spokesperson Marilyn Dorato complained in a letter to NYPL President Paul LeClerc that, at an October 18th community meeting at Jefferson Market Library, "both NYPL representatives and CB2 members treated residents’ concerns with disdain and derision." Instead of replying, however, LeClerc passed Dorato's letter to Susan C.Y.A. Kent, who sent her standard see-no-evil missive. Retch!
• • • • YES, the funding has to be there somewhere. . . but Jefferson Market will not see any of it.
• • Lack of respect: In 2004, the NYPL's total revenue reported to the IRS was a healthy number: $219,605,726. To comprehend why neighborhood libraries struggle for survival while their parent institution sits on a gilded stockpile of tax-free donations, you need to understand a basic truth. The NYPL is, in fact, two systems with two budgets: The 80 branches, which circulate materials, receive only 7 percent of their funds from private sources, with the rest coming from city, state, and federal agencies. NYPL's five non-lending research libraries receive the lion's share of private gifts. Consequently, whenever the city reduces its funding to the NYPL, only the neighborhood branches will feel the pinch.
• • Lack of integrity: Though the librarians' union has repeatedly asked NYPL to protect jobs and branch services by tapping into the corporation's endowment, each president has stated that he [it's always a HE!] will not do it. Consistently, the NYPL's board of trustees has refused to use the endowment to compensate for New York City cuts, pointing to a 1901 agreement by which Andrew Carnegie agreed to build 65 branch libraries for New York City on the condition that the city would maintain and operate the branches in perpetuity. YES, that is correct. As New York City has grown and new branch libraries have been added, the Carnegie principle is a convenient fall-back position. "We are afraid that if we start replacing public money with private money, the city will relinquish its responsibility for operating the branch library system," explained one NYPL spokesperson. So did you understand that? The NYPL is willing to deprive New York's neighborhood branch libraries if that's what it takes to make NYC honor its side of the 1901 agreement. If the NYPL can screw their own librarians, can a Greenwich Village library expect much better?
• • Lack of integrity: What happens when, for instance, an unrestricted $10.5 million donation arrives in the mail? Instead of reversing the deterioration of a branch library's facade, the $$$ swan-dives into NYPL's well-feathered nest. An issue of CFO magazine, which profiled an NYPL Vice President for Finance, applauded the library's finance expert for the foxy bookkeeping he employed when an anonymous lamb sent the no-strings-attached check. Here's the dirty secret: The NYPL would enter the $$$ on a separate line as a bequest and stash it immediately into the endowment from which the library will draw investment earnings.
• • Reaction: "That's almost an outrage, isn't it?" asked the editor-in-chief of Library Journal, a Manhattan-based trade magazine. "It's bizarre thinking, and I'm not sure how they justify it, but they have repeatedly received gifts from donors who say, 'The library saved my life,' and it turns out it is a library in downtown Manhattan - - yet the money goes to the 42nd Street research library ONLY."
• • Whose fault is this? The fault, dear neighbors, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings - - and they are fat cats.
• • How FAT are the NYPL fat cats? In 2004, the annual compensation for Paul LeClerc, NYPL President, was $487,819. [The compensation for LeClerc is equal to 0.20% of the NYPL's total functional expenses.] In 1989, IRS documents reveal that NYPL President Vartan Gregorian, working only 10 months, earned $247,469 in salary and bonuses, i.e., nearly twice what New York's governor made in 1989. In 1988, Vartan Gregorian's $37,570 benefit package alone was more than the starting salary of a supervising branch librarian [in 1988]. YES, yes, $300,000 was about the same as the cost of running the Jefferson Market branch for 12 months during the 1980s.
• • A sarcophagus "eats flesh" - - which is why Greenwich Villagers must pressure elected officials to help remove that wooden sarcophagus which is damaging Jefferson Market. Write the letters, make the phonecalls, make noise, and do whatever it takes to rescue our beloved landmark imprisoned since 2003 by the neglectful top brass at NYPL.
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• • Photo: • to come

Jefferson Market.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

January with the Pot-Poet

As a famous American poet, Allen Ginsberg [1926 - 1997] was able to rally supporters and attract an audience. During the 1960s, Ginsberg took advantage of this repeatedly, annoying America's right wing to no end. He was a familiar bushy-bearded figure at protest demonstrations against the draft and against the Vietnam War.
• • In January 1964, Ginsberg led this controversial protest to legalize marijuana. The group marched around Jefferson Market and the Women's House of Detention, where many female addicts were incarcerated.
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• • Photo: January 1964 • Allen Ginsberg

Jefferson Market.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Clara Lemlich's Arresting Drama

Clara Lemlich Shavelson [1 January 1886 - 12 July 1982] spent her long life fighting for trade unions, women's suffrage, peace, and fair housing and food practices.

• • Born in the Ukraine, Clara became a committed communist in her teens. After immigrating to the Lower East Side, Clara began working in a garment factory whose poor conditions led her to begin organizing women into the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
• • On 8 March 1908, a demonstration was held at Rutgers Square in Manhattan's Lower East Side.
• • In 1909, 400 Triangle Factory employees walked out of their jobs.
• • Employers had many of these needleworkers arrested and jailed at Jefferson Market in an attempt to break their spirit.
• • In November 1909, at a meeting at Cooper Union, Clara Lemlich talked about the intolerable conditions in the shops and asked for a vote on a general strike. The response was overwhelmingly affirmative. She helped to catalyze the 1909 "Uprising of the 20,000," a massive strike by women workers.
• • After this walk-out, garment shop owners refused to hire Clara Lemlich. She turned her considerable energies to the suffrage movement, founding a working-class suffrage group. Marriage and three children transformed Clara's activism; she began organizing wives and mothers around issues like housing, food, and education.
• • Clara, my own sleep awakens me, stitching needles into the cushion of night. Your energy, courage, and clarity are celebrated this January by your admirers at Jefferson Market, where your heroic footsteps echo still.
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• • Photo: 1910 Clara Lemlich

Jefferson Market.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Janitor, Jefferson Market

On Martin Luther King's birthday, Jefferson Market commemorates the death of a noted military veteran, a Colonel, and a "Colored Man" [as he was called in the newspapers c. 1870-1903].
• • • January 1903 [from news accounts] • • •
• • William Johnson, the youngest brother of Jacob Johnson of Fishkill, New York, died in New York city, at his residence, No. 173 Waverly Place, aged about 56 years. Mr. Johnson his daughter, and some other colored people attended the funeral which was a large one, deceased being a noted military man.
• • The morning service of Zion A. M. E. Church was was dispensed with Jan. 18, and at 11:30 a. m. the mortal remains of Col. William Johnson, commander of Thaddeus Stevens Post, No. 255 were borne into the church. Following the mourners came the church officers, church societies, his class, the board of stewards and stewardesses, John Brown Circle No. 24 Ladies of the G. A. R... . marshall Thaddeus Stevens Post No. 255, G. A. R.. Samuel W. Smith, S. V. commander commanding. ...
• • Past Commander Alex Powell and Adjutant C. W. McKie eulogized his military life and service.
• • William Johnson was well known throughout New York city as a stalwart Republican.
• • He was appointed janitor of the Jefferson Market Court House under Mayor Strong, and served until the VanWyck administration came into power. He was considered an authority on Grand Army matters.
• • Nearly 500 persons took part in the procession that was led by Major Charles Pierson's Manhattan Fife and Drum Corps, leaving the funeral at 10th Street and Fourth Avenue, which proceeded to Cypress Hills Cemetery. Internment was in Zion's Ground. Service was held at the grave by Mr. E. V. C. Eato, secretary of the citizens auxilliary committee. Col. Johnson leaves a wife, two sons, a daughter, 4 brothers and a large number of relatives residing upstate.
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• • Photo -

Jefferson Market.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Jeff Genesis: January 1832

• • • 1832 January • • •
• • IN this year the following streets and places were widened, viz.: Ann, between Nassau and William; Cedar, between William and Pearl; Exchange Place at William; Spruce, between Nassau and Gold; William, on east side, from Wall to Pine; Hanover at Exchange Place; and Cross, Anthony, and Little Water Streets.
• • Sixth Street was changed to Waverly Place.
• • • Jefferson Market, at intersection of Sixth Avenue and Greenwich Lane, was opened. There was annexed to it a fire ­alarm bell tower and a steam ­pump, which drew and forced water through a main to the elevated cistern or reservoir, as it was termed, in East Thirteenth Street near Broadway.

• • Union Square was enlarged, and as the required area invaded the property of the owners abutting in Broadway and Seventeenth Streetand the Bowery (now Fourth Avenue), many of them protested against the measure with the usual vehemence and short-­sightedness of people regardin gtheir view of their own interests in similar cases. . . .
• • Some prices for real estate, obtained at sales by public auction during this winter, are here noted: The corner of Wall and Broad Streets, 30 feet on Wall Street by 16 feet 8 inches on Broad, $17,750; south­west corner of Broadway and Park Place, about 25 by 122, $37,000.
• • February 23, 1832 - - ground was broken for construction of the New York and Harlem Railroad, and in the course of the year this company ran its first car from Prince to Fourteenth Street. These cars were like stage­coaches, hung on leather, with several compartments and side-doors, the driver sitting above like a coachman, and putting on the brake with his feet. My readers should remember that at this time railways on important lines, as from Schenectady to Saratoga and the short-cut across the Delaware ­Maryland peninsula, on the route to Washington, were operated by horse­power. . . .
• • April 1832 - - Lexington Avenue was opened and John Street, from Broadway to Pearl Street, widened, and the New York and Harlem Railroad in operation from Prince Street to Murray Hill. . . .
• • Shinbone Alley was opened from Wooster Street (University Place) to Fifth Avenue, and between Washington Square and Eighth Street (Washington Place). . . .
• • Currently, the Mayor of New York is Walter Bowne [1832 - 1833].
• • Source: Reminiscences of New York by an Octogenarian (1816 - 1860), by Charles H. Haswell, CHAPTER XIV [published 1896]. This title is in the public domain.
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• • Photo - 1860 Jefferson Market

Jefferson Market.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Naked of Stars

Alarming news today of an emergency at a building [55 West 8th Street] across from Jefferson Market - - residents evacuated because mercury was leaking from a ceiling - - can put New Yorkers in mind of perils in the past.
Naturally, January 1871 springs to mind, a date when the Fire-Alarm Telegraph brought changes to Jefferson Market.
• • • •From the Central Office of the Fire-Alarm Telegraph• • • •

• • The telegraph in connection with the fire service has become an indispensable adjunct, and in as much a necessity in communicating the existence and locality of a fire as the steam and other improved apparatus for extinguishing. Indeed, successful management of fires depends so much upon early and instantaneous information that the telegraphic system is now considered as important as any branch of the department.
• • The old-time method of detecting fires by the aid of look-outs upon high towers situated in different parts of the city, and communicating their existence to the public, and approximating to the locality by striking the tower bells, was kept up until the Fire Alarm Telegraph System was put in operation.
• • At this time a system of telegraph was in use connecting the various bell towers with each other, which was continued, and the look-outs were maintained at Union Market, Essex Market, Marion Street, Spring Street, Jefferson Market, Twenty-sixth Street, Thirty-third Street, Yorkville, and Mount Morris for sometime, but they have gradually been abandoned, and the old towers removed, with the exception of the one at Mount Morris, and at Morrisania.
• • • January 1871 • • •
• • The Fire Alarm telegraph was constructed under the old Gamewell patent, and was put in operation in January 1871 by the contractors, Messrs. Charles T. and J. N. Chester, and Mr. Charles T. Chapin was appointed Superintendent. The Central Office was located on the second floor of Firemen's Hall, in the room lately occupied by the President of the Board. This system embraced the territory of Manhattan island, including that of the East River islands, and consisted on its equipment of 2780 poles, 612 miles of wire, divided into 56 circuits, viz, 41 box signal circuits, 3 key and bell circuits, 2 tower circuits, 2 dial circuits, and I police circuit, 548 alarm boxes, with 54 alarm gongs and 42 key and bell magnets in the houses of the fire companies, and 16 dial instruments in the quarters of the district engineers or battalion commanders, and the necessary receiving and transmitting apparatus in the Central office, the alarms from the street boxes and bell towers on receipt at the Central office being repeated and transmitted to the several companies over the gong circuits, which was the only one source upon which companies depended for receiving alarms. Each company was provided with a key and bell instrument, connected with a talking circuit, for the purpose of informing the Central Office by signal when about to leave quarters, and on their return to quarters after an absence. . . .
• • Mr. Chapin was succeeded as Superintendent in March, 1871, by Mr. C. K. Smith.
• • • January 1874 • • •
• • The annexation of the Westchester District to the city on January 1st, 1874, made necessary the extension of the lines beyond the Harlem river, and in the early part of that year this was accomplished by cabling the river at Third Avenue and at Macomb's Dam. . . .
Source: Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments Chapter 51, Part I
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• • Artwork by Sonia Brewin

Jefferson Market.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Days before the Music Died

Before leaving from Greenwich Village for the ill-fated "Winter Dance Party" (a quickie Midwest concert tour) on 20 January 1959, Buddy Holly had been busy creating new songs and soaking up the rhythms around Jefferson Market. Let's back up a bit.

• • In 1958, on a visit to Peer-Southern Music [810 Seventh Avenue] and Murray Deutch, the executive V.P. who had persuaded Coral-Brunswick Records to take a chance on a new group called Buddy Holly and the Crickets, the young Texans were greeted by a comely 25-year-old Puerto Rican receptionist. Maria Elena Santiago was the niece of Provi Garcia, who ran Peer's Latin division.
• • It was love at first sight for 21-year-old Charles Hardin "Buddy" Holly [born 7 September 1936 in Lubbock, Texas].
• • Buddy and Maria Elena wed on 15 August 1958 in Texas.
• • Financial disputes with manager Norman Petty led Buddy Holly to break away and do things differently.
• • Provi Garcia, Maria Elena's aunt and guardian, lived at 33 Fifth Avenue [near 10th Street]. After the girl's parents died in Puerto Rico, she came to the Village and stayed with her only living relative.
• • By September 1958 the newlyweds had settled in - - a block from Provi and down the street from Jefferson Market.
Home was 4-H, a corner apartment at the Brevoort, 11 Fifth Avenue [at 9th Street].
The 2-bedroom unit with a wrap-around terrace rented for $1,000/ mo.
• • Married life with María Elena and Greenwich Village set Buddy Holly aflame. According to his widow, he loved listening to jazz at the Village Vanguard and poetry at local coffeehouses. He wanted to write movie scores. He wanted to record with Ray Charles and adored gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. He wanted to produce young artists and had a protégé, Lou Giordano. Ritchie Valens had asked Buddy to record him. Dining at Cafe Madrid with María Elena and his friend Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, he was so taken with the flamenco guitar that between sets he asked the guitarist to teach him how to play. He told Provi García he wanted to translate and cover Spanish classics.

• • All these songs were recorded at The Brevoort in his living room on an Ampex reel-to-reel recorder purchased from Norman Petty, the same machine used to tape most of his early hits.
• • 3 December 1958 • THAT'S WHAT THEY SAY (1:12) • Composer: Buddy Holly
• • 3 December 1958 • WHAT TO DO (1:54) • Composer: Buddy Holly • • Buddy Holly – vocal and acoustic guitar
• • 5 December 1958 • PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED (1:47) • Composer: Buddy Holly • • Buddy Holly – vocal and acoustic guitar
• • 8 December 1958 • THAT MAKES IT TOUGH (2:14) • Composer: Buddy Holly • • Buddy Holly – vocal and acoustic guitar
• • 14 December 1958 • CRYING, WAITING, HOPING (1:48) • Composer: Buddy Holly • • Buddy Holly – vocal and acoustic guitar
• • 17 December 1958 • LEARNING THE GAME (1:31) • Composer: Buddy Holly • • Buddy Holly – vocal and acoustic guitar
• • Since Norman Petty refused to release money, Holly agreed to play the "Winter Dance Party," a fast-paced rock 'n' roll tour after Christmas. Since his bride was pregnant, he didn't want her to travel.
• • Mid-evening on 2 February 1959, he phoned Maria Elena on Fifth Avenue to say that the promoter's cheap buses had lost their heat and broken down once too often. He and a couple of other guys were going to Moorhead, South Dakota on their own. He never mentioned they would be flying.
• • On 3 February 1959 Buddy Holly, age 22, was killed along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper when their small airplane crashed into an Iowa cornfield shortly after 2:00 AM. A few weeks later, Maria Elena had a miscarriage.
• • Perhaps Jefferson Market Library has these titles:
• • The Day the Music Died: The Last Tour of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens by Larry Lehmer [NY: Schirmer Books, 1997]
• • Rave on: The Biography of Buddy Holly by Philip Norman [1996]
• • Or rent The Buddy Holly Story [1978 film] starring Gary Busey. It's available at TLA, 52 West 8th Street.
• • • • Self-Guided Tour • • • •
• • Buddy Holly's home: Brevoort, 11 Fifth Avenue
• • Provi Garcia's home: 33 Fifth Avenue
• • Village Vanguard [est. 1935]: 178 Seventh Avenue So.
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• • Photos: 11 Fifth Avenue - Buddy's "apartment tape"

Jefferson Market.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Edwin Torres: An Old Jeff Story

January-born Edwin Torres [birthdate: 7 January 1931] can be trusted to judge the quality of a story. A justice for the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Torres wrote Carlito's Way, which was made into a film starring Al Pacino.
• • Standing on Sixth Avenue, as Old Jeff chimed the late hour, Judge Torres reminisced about his shoe-leather-days as a sure-footed NYC attorney, defending many of the Latino female inmates of the (former) House of Detention. Glancing at a group of men who were discussing the arraignment of two retired city detectives - - Louis J. Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, who were accused of betraying their badges to become paid Mafia killers, a story now in the news - - Torres pointed at Jefferson Market.
• • "Not since 1912 have there been such explosive criminal charges involving the New York Police Department," said Judge Torres. "It was right there, in that very courthouse, that a police lieutenant named Charles Becker was tried for the murder of a two-bit gambler and informant named Herman "Beansie" Rosenthal.
• • Charles Becker gained fame when he became the first - and to date only - New York City police officer to be found guilty of murder and, subsequently, executed by the State of New York in the electric chair.
• • The child of German immigrant parents, Charles Becker joined the police force at the age of 23 and quickly established a reputation for aggressiveness and daring. Ambitious for the good life, Becker was cagey and fine-tuned his ability to manipulate the Police Department's insular bureaucracy.
• • In September 1896, on a Manhattan streetcorner, he arrested and sought to railroad Dora Clark, an innocent woman, on prostitution charges. Charles Becker might have gotten away with it had his actions not been witnessed by none other than Stephen Crane, the 24-year-old author [1 November 1871 – 5 June 1900] who was then enjoying acclaim for his Civil War novel, The Red Badge of Courage.
• • Against the advice of his fellow reporters and of commissioner Theodore Roosevelt (an acquaintance of Crane's and an admirer of The Red Badge Of Courage), Crane testified on the morning of 16 September on behalf of Dora Clark, before Magistrate Robert C. Cornell at Jefferson Market Courthouse.
• • "Whatever the woman's character," Stephen Crane told reporters in 1896, "the arrest was an outrage. The policeman flatly lied."
• • Patrolman Becker defended himself at a departmental hearing, thanks in part to his lawyer, who portrayed Crane as a pimp and an opium addict. A disciplinary board found that Becker had made an "honest mistake."
• • On the 16th of January 1907, Commissioner Theodore Bingham promoted Charles Becker to sergeant, a reward for assisting the commissioner in an earlier investigation. Becker welcomed the opportunity. It led shortly to his becoming the bagman for the precinct captain. Becker’s cut was 10 percent of the take. In the first year he made $8,000.
• • Greedy and power-mad, by 1912 Becker's nefariousness got him in serious trouble. He was arrested and charged with ordering the murder of a small-time gambler, Herman Rosenthal, and tried at the Jefferson Market Courthouse. In the opinion of the District Attorney Charles Seymour Whitman, Becker had ordered the rub-out because Rosenthal had told "The World" (a daily newspaper) and the D.A. that Becker was his "partner" in a 45th Street gambling house.
• • The 1912 trial at Jefferson Market Court was so intensely covered by the media that at least three books have been written about Charles Becker and the gang of thugs he hired to assassinate "Beansie" Rosenthal, according to Judge Torres, who admits he's still mesmerized by Jefferson Market's history.
• • Lieutenant Charles Becker was convicted and died at Sing Sing in the electric chair 30 July 1915.
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• • Photo - none

Jefferson Market.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Q as in . . .

Janus the Roman god of doorways - - taking the place (temporarily) of Old Jeff, who is away visiting the Jeffersons - - will use this opp to congratulate Christine Quinn, who represents Greenwich Village on the City Council, and who was elected Speaker by a landslide vote on Janury 4, 2006.
• • Christine Quinn is the first woman, openly gay, or Irish Speaker of the Council.
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• • Photo - see earlier entry "The Mighty Quinn"

Jefferson Market.

Friday, January 06, 2006

3 Kings

Janus the Roman god of doorways - - taking the place (temporarily) of Old Jeff, who is away visiting the Jeffersons - - will use this opp to reminisce in January on the Feast of the Epiphany about an epiphanic moment in Greenwich Village. Christopher Street's printer Frank Shay sold a poetry chapbook "in the shadow of old Jefferson Market" during 1922. The following year, this poet won the Pulitzer Prize.



NEW YORK: Printed for FRANK SHAY and sold by him at FOUR CHRISTOPHER ST., in the shadow of old JEFFERSON MARKET, 1922

. . . She sang as she worked,
And the harp-strings spoke;
Her voice never faltered,
And the thread never broke.
And when I awoke,
There sat my mother
With the harp against her shoulder
Looking nineteen
And not a day older,
A smile about her lips,
And a light about her head,
And her hands in the harp-strings
Frozen dead.
And piled up beside her
And toppling to the skies,
Were the clothes of a king's son,
Just my size.
The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay [1892-1950] was published in 1922. Therefore, the text fell out of copyright and entered the public domain in the USA as of 1998. For The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver and several other works published in the early twenties, Millay won the the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923.
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• • Woodcut: Ballad of the Harp-Weaver, frontispiece

Jefferson Market.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Red Velvet Swingtime

Janus the Roman god of doorways - - taking the place (temporarily) of Old Jeff, who is away visiting the Jeffersons - - will use this opp to reminisce in January about an actress who gave the performance of her life on Sixth Avenue at the "Trial of the Century" in Jefferson Market Court.

• • Evelyn Nesbit [25 December 1884 - 17 January 1967] was a model noted for her entanglement in the murder of her ex-lover, architect Stanford White, by her husband, Harry K. Thaw. Stanford White, though married, was enchanted by Evelyn, who was a Florodora Girl on Broadway. In a lavish apartment at Madison Square Garden, which he had designed, he installed a red velvet swing. He was aroused by watching Evelyn or other young women swinging. (Nesbit would be sensationalized as "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" by the media).
• • Harry Kendall Thaw (1871-1947) was the wealthy son of a coal and railroad baron. Evelyn married Thaw on April 4, 1905.
• • On June 25, 1906 Evelyn and Harry saw White at a restaurant (the Cafè Martin) and then ran into him again at Madison Square Garden's roof theatre at a performance of Mamzelle Champagne. During the song, "I Could Love A Million Girls", Thaw fired three shots at close range into White's face, killing him.
• • From Police Headquarters, Thaw was hustled, still handcuffed, to the Jefferson Market Court and from the Jefferson Market Court to the Coroner's office. When the Coroner finished with him, Thaw crossed the Bridge of Sighs to Cell 220, Murderers' Row, of the Tombs Prison.
• • There were two trials at Jefferson Market Court. At the first, the jury was deadlocked; at the second, Thaw pled insanity, and Evelyn testified. (Thaw's mother told Evelyn that if she would testify that Stanford White abused her and that Harry only tried to protect her, she'd receive a divorce from Harry Thaw and one million dollars in compensation. She did just that, and performed in court wonderfully: Thaw was found not guilty. Evelyn got the divorce, in 1915, but not the money.)
• • Evelyn Nesbit died at age 82 in a nursing home in Santa Monica, California. In her later years, she taught ceramics and served as a technical consultant to a 1955 movie about the White shooting, The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, in which she was portrayed by Joan Collins. She was also portrayed by Elizabeth McGovern in the movie Ragtime.
• • To commemorate her January 17th passing, read one of the titles she inspired.
• • The Architect of Desire - Suzannah Lessard (White's great-granddaughter)
• • Glamorous Sinners - Frederick L. Collins
• • Evelyn Nesbit & Stanford White: Love and Death in the Gilded Age - Michael Mooney
• • The Murder of Stanford White - Gerald Langford
• • The Traitor - Harry K. Thaw
• • The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing - Charles Samuels
• • The Story of my Life - Evelyn Nesbit Thaw - 1914
• • Prodigal Days - Evelyn Nesbit Thaw - 1934
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• • Photo: Evelyn Nesbit, age 15, in 1900

Jefferson Market.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Toast Texas

Janus the Roman god of doorways - - taking the place (temporarily) of Old Jeff, who is away visiting the Jeffersons - - will use this opp to reminisce in January about a fearless female who knew Jefferson Market Court, the Federal Court House, judges, and Dry Agents intimately during the Roaring 20s.

• • Greenwich Village resident Texas Guinan always insisted that she didn't have to sell the hard stuff because she got as much for sparkling water as people paid for Scotch before Prohibition. She said her clients brought their own hooch on their very own hips, and what could she do except provide set-ups? Of course, you could buy a "booster" in her gin-joints if you knew the headwaiter, or if you looked as if you knew him, or if you knew somebody who was pretty sure he knew him, or maybe if you were good and thirsty and didn't have the seedy look of the Dry Agent.
• • Often in a tight spot due to her night spots, Texas had more than her share of arrests and padlocks and paddy wagons.
• • Returning to her speak after winning an acquittal at court once, Texas sang this ditty:
Judge Thomas said, "Tex, do you sell booze?"
I said, "Please, don't be silly.
I swear to you my cellar's filled
With chocolate and vanilly!"

• • A woman of courage and charm if not convictions, her birthday is 12 January 1884.
• • Let's give the little lady a nice big hand!
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• • Photo: 1929 Texas Guinan in a nightspot
• • Photo: 17 West 8th Street [near Jefferson Market Court] is where Texas made her home. Unfortunately, West 8th Street is the most hideous looking thoroughfare in Greenwich Village nowadays.

Jefferson Market.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Go ask Alice....

Janus the Roman god of doorways takes the place (temporarily) of Old Jeff, who is away visiting the Jeffersons, and uses this opp to reminisce in January about famous dates in the Women's House of Detention on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village.
• • Go ask Alice Crimmins how freedom felt in January.

• • Thirty years ago, in January 1976, inmate Alice Crimmins became eligible for a work-release program and was permitted to leave prison on weekdays to work as a secretary; this meant that she got every other weekend off. By August 1977, The New York Post was reporting that Alice had spent the previous Sunday "as she has spent many balmy summer Sundays of her prison term -- on a luxury cruiser at City Island." • • In July 1977, redhead Alice married the proprietor of this deluxe vessel, her contractor beau, Anthony Grace. In September 1977, Alice Crimmins was granted parole, after thirty months in prison and nine months in the work-release program. A new petition for retrial was denied, and she vanished into obscurity.
[• • Condensed from: The Collected Essays of Albert Borowitz 1966-2005 • • "The MEDEA of Kew Gardens Hills"]
• • The Alice Crimmins case broke in July 1965 and grabbed headlines for the next twelve years, a veritable tabloid sensation.
• • This real-life mystery has been dealt with in several works. Here in Greenwich Village, dramatist John Guare [author of the theatrical hits "Six Degrees of Separation" and "The House of Blue Leaves"] spotted Crimmins being transferred to the Women's House of Detention after the verdict. He penned a Crimmins-inspired play "Landscape of the Body," which opened at the Public Theatre on Astor Place in 1977.
• • Alice and Anthony: Happy Headline-Free New Year!
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• • Photo: 1965 Alice Crimmins & husband Edmund arrive in court

Jefferson Market.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Jeff Makes Room for Janus

Janus the Roman god of doorways here! While Old Jeff is away visiting the Jeffersons, I'm here to look both ways and spill a few secrets.
• • On January 31, 1905 John O'Hara was born in Pottsville, PA.
• • And born on January 26, 1906 in Evanston, Illinois was the beauty who inspired O'Hara to write his 1935 bestseller: Butterfield 8.

• • Though O'Hara may have called it a roman a clef, the truth really took a beating.
• • • Butterfield 8 • • •
"ON THIS SUNDAY morning in May, this girl who later was to be the cause of a sensation in New York, awoke much too early for her night before. One minute she was asleep, the next she was completely awake and dumped into despair. . . ."
• • On June 8, 1931, the dead body of a 25-year-old woman named Starr Faithfull was found on a Long Island beach, clad in expensive clothes, her nails manicured, her neck bruised and broken. Was it an accident, a murder, a suicide? Though the circumstances of her death were never resolved, the official inquest kept Jefferson Market Court buzzing for almost six months. Widespread coverage in the daily newspapers mesmerized Americans as well as the British. When the reporters finally tired of the sensational headlines, the novelists jumped aboard. O’Hara [1905 - 1970] was the first author to spin Starr's fatality into self-advancement; others followed the Benjamins.
• • Let's celebrate the 100th anniversity of Starr's birth [26 January 2006] by revealing the truth. BUtterfield 8 would never have been her telephone exchange. Starr was a Greenwich Village girl.
• • She lived with her mother, sister, and step-father at 35 West 9th Street, then at 12 St. Luke's Place.
• • Starr liked to drink and party, which is how O'Hara met her: at a literary affair.
• • When young, she was sexually molested by the Mayor of Boston [a trusted family friend], but Starr was NEVER a callgirl, a thief, nor attached to a brothel.
• • O'Hara took as many liberties with Starr in death as the Mayor had in her youth, ruining her reputation perhaps to stoke his.
• • Jefferson Market Court, where her autopsy photos were passed around to the media like potato chips, was the hottest place in town during the summer of 1931 - - a spectacle for gawkers and rumor-runners.
• • It will take more than this, Starr Faithfull, to clear your name. But you are not forgotten.
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• • Photo: 1931 - - door of 12 St. Luke's Place, where Starr had lived with her family - - and reporters hoping for a scoop

Jefferson Market.