tv American History TV CSPAN November 5, 2014 3:37pm-5:15pm EST
and architectural feats that are now iconic symbols of new york city. this event was hosted by the new york public library. it's about an hour and a half. >> great. thank you, lois, and i want to thank the library for organizing this event. can you hear me in the back? can you hear me now? no? yes? i'll speak loudly. well, it's great to be in the city lecturing on the city that you wrote about. in the very place you wrote about it. midtown manhattan. a couple of preliminaries before we roll into this illustrated
talk i'm not good at power point. well, this is not the supreme city. it's not the book i originally set out to write. and the original idea was to do the whole city. all five boroughs and stretch it out from world war i to world war ii. but without trying to be too cute, i took too big of a bite out of the apple. and i discovered doing my research -- within the larger story i had intended to tell. it's an unfold story, actually. it's been told in bits and pieces, but it's never stitched together as a compelling historical narrative. and that story is the rise of
the sudden and spectacular rise of midtown manhattan in the 1920s. which was an urban backwater before 1919. there wasn't a single skyscraper above 42nd street. and by the end of the decade, by the end of the 1920s, almost half of new york skyscrapers were in midtown. it's one of the great building booms not only in the history of the united states, but in the history of the world. this eruption, almost, that occurs in these years. and i, in the book, i take on the building of this midtown manhattan. it was really a construction project. and i do its offshoot, as well. all kind of cultural spillage. accompanies this construction revolution. so it's a it's a book with a lot of characters, a lot of incidents, and i think some interesting stories. let me begin here with this.
for 300 years, downtown dominated new york city. and it was only in 1919 following the war that midtown began to take off. reach a takeoff space. and it culminated in the building of this building which still stands. this is the fred french building on 5th avenue. and it was the first terrifically tall building north of 42nd street. and in this year, 1927, when the building was completed, they founded their networks nbc and cbs, the first national radio networks. and radio went national. and the grand central station had been completed in 1913. but the period i'm talking
about, when it reaches its takeoff phase was in 1927. so a lot of the book centers on that year. and this is 1927, the year that lindbergh, for example, his return from his solo flight from long island to paris and triumphantly returns first to the nation's capital in washington and then to new york city. wherever over 4 million people crowded the streets to see it. and it's also in 1927 that, oops, hit the wrong button. that the tempo of the city changed dramatically. and f. scott fitzgerald put it well. he said the parties were bigger in '27, buildings were higher, morals were looser, liquor was cheaper, jazz raced on, filling stations full of money. man, i wish i could have written that. and new york then is, in this year and in this decade, in the
vanguard of cultural and technological transformations that would make the 20th century the american century and make new york the quintessential city of the early 20th century. what was happening here? well, i mentioned one thing, the rise of commercial radio and talking movies. first talking movie was made and shown in new york city in 1927. you have the invention, although very primitive form of television. you had the beginning of tabloid journalism with the new york daily news, the first american tabloid founded by joseph patterson, the newspaper family. you have the spread, the radio, and phonographic records of this pulsating new music called jazz. and you have the emergence with yankee stadium, example of mass spectator sports. and enormously important boxing matches staged at madison square garden and the polo grounds and
yankee stadium and other venues. ellington summed it up. the duke said new york was the capital of everything. very little happens in the country unless somebody in new york presses a button. and so it is. and it's a story, in other words, of an urban revolution, but i try to tell it -- i'm interested in people. and i try to tell this story through about three dozen characters. and i have a cast of characters, like a play bill at the beginning of the book. and most of them, as lois was saying are blazingly ambitious drivers from west of the hudson and east of the danube. and it was e.b. wright of the new yorker who wrote about this phenomenon of outsiders coming in and transforming the place. and by the way, found the same thing in my book on chicago. exactly the same thing. jane adams, you know, coming in,
clarence and louis sullivan, same sort of thing. and white writes this, in a beautiful book, he said, it's the person who was born elsewhere and came to new york in quest of something that accounts for new york's high strung disposition, the poetical deportment and the incomparable achievements. and achievements they were. it's probably -- i quoted white, but i think maybe the most important inspiration for me was the frenchman who said that every american is eaten up with a longing to rise. and my characters like sarnov. and he becomes the founder of modern mass communications.
and he does it and takes over rca before he's 40 years old. you have tex ricard on the right, he built the modern madsma madison square garden. he taught boxing promotors you can't have a good fight with a good audience. you can't have a mass spectacles fight unless you build it around a story. and i try to deal with that in the book. and, of course, right next to texas' meal ticket, the hard hitter from the western mines of colorado. and these two guys turn boxing into a $1 million business. they have $5 million gates in the 1920s. the next million dollar would be occur in the 1970s with ali and frazier. and you have patterson coming in from chicago, founding the daily news on a shoe string, really. and by 1927, it's -- it barely
survived, actually, but by 1927, the largest selling newspaper in the world. okay. and sudden success. and there he is, the bay. a truant from the baltimore docks. a place called pig town. and he transformed his sport as fundamentally as jack dempsey transformed boxing. he turned it from small ball, slicing at the ball, bunting it, hit-and-run, stealing, into long ball. and so like dempsey, he's a big hitter. >> and new yorkers seem to like the big hitters, the guys who could put him on the canvas and put the balls in the seats. what i try to do in the book, just a second on methodology, is i really try to tell the story, try to reimagine it, i should say. i try to reimagine the city as it was back then. to go back there in my mind. and to describe the lives of my characters. not as i see them from the present, but as they live them
to try to get behind their eyes. everyone tells me that history and i'm a historian, it gives you perspective because you have hindsight. but hindsight can be a killer. if you know the great depression's coming, you'll organize your book so that it all leads to that. when nobody in the '20s knew it was coming. and that's the problem with that kind of history. as my buddy david mccullough said the most inaccurate phrase in the english language is the foreseeable future. the future can never be foreseen. it can never be seen. in '27, 1927, it was absolutely unimaginable to new yorkers that the greatest urban building boom in modern history would soon collapse in a matter of two years. and to collapse with shocking suddenness. and that, you know, this guy here, high-living jimmy walker who commanded, he be brought low
by charges of corruption and forced to resign. walker's one of the major characters in his book. he's fun to write about. but what i try to avoid is most biographies of walkers and most articles on walker tend to institute analysis for anecdote. and it -- anecdote for analysis. they don't get into him. and he's really an interesting guy. heart in the right place, did important things for the city. but didn't have the energy and the moral courage to stand up to the old-fashioned bosses, and he got himself involved in a whole hell of a lot of corruption. they never put a single charge on him. they investigated him from his nose to his toes and couldn't put a charge on him that was triable in the court of law. but pressure from roosevelt who was going to run for president, franklin roosevelt. governor of new york at the time. pressure from his buddy al smith the former governor of new york, forced him eventually out of office. he's a great character.
quick wit, too. learned everything through his ears. here's what you do, here's what you say, the issues are. he'd go in and do it. good impromptu speaker, too. he'd roll from polish weddings to irish fests, to jewish galas at night. and one gala he walks into the room and has a yamika, and he says, prefer to wear it off. so -- that's jimmy walker. and great parts of my book are devoted to politics. the great political organization of the period and it produced real reformers like robert wagner and people like that. i deal a lot with prohibition in night life, organized crime. as i said, i deal with boxing and baseball. but tonight, i want to focus not on the whole book.
you summarize, you compress, you kill it. i want to focus on the building of midtown and the cultural revolution that accompanied it. so -- the take away here is that a century ago, a group of ago, a group of audacious drivers set out to build a modern downtown and they did it right t. story begins with grand central station. completed in 1930 and this project, this is a digging operation. it is enormous. it's an operation, not quite on the scale of the panama canal, but close to it. the effort to build this new terminal while the old terminal is still operating is set in motion. the movement to build is set in motion by a crisis, the worst disaster in new york city history. a commuter train was barrelling
through a station and they failed to spot warning lights and slammed into the rear of another train waiting in the rail yard. the carnage is terrible. they were forced to electrify the trains. at that point and time, this guy, william bilgus, the founding father in midtown mat hat tan. he is the chief engineer with a real vision. he not only electrifies the train, but buries the tracks. not only that, but goes a step further. he convinces them, mostly vanderbilts to build a state of the art terminal, a people moving machine. shop lines, underground passage ways that lead to subway stations, okay, transit stations and also there's a lot of smart
shops along the passage ways and a lot of new yorkers are talking about reviving them in a big way because they still exist. they connect to adjacent hotels and buildings. it's what a city needs. you need to move the density otherwise you get paralysis. the roadway that runs around grand central and the aqua duct railway that goes beyond it and the grand central and first drive-through building in the history of the world. for half a century, this is what the area north of the station looked like. all the way up to 56th street. 42nd street, east 42nd street to east 56th street. it's a gigantic railyard that fans out here from the station. pedestrians had to cross it on those iron crossways there. over cat walks, as they call
them, breathing smoke and dust and ash and things like that. this is the vision he had. there's another shot of the yard itself. there's no grid there. manhattan grid is gone. there's no streets there in manhattan. close to the river, there might be, you know, the company but that was it. that was manhattan. he said, what we'll do is these smokeless tunnels, we're going to build real estate that the real estate owns, we are going to build park avenue, straight as a sun beam. her husband tried to steal the article and put it under his name. it was zelda's piece. a strained design with a lot of
lines. these are the first skyscrapers built for permanent living. no people ever lived this high before. they do this by selling something we all know about today but people didn't know about then because it's new. they sold their air rights to developers. he put it well. with revenue plucked from the air, we can create a city. he called it terminal city, the city around the terminal. we can make money for the railroad and we can build a beautiful section of the city. now, while this is going on, there's big happenings on fifth avenue. it was called vanderbilt alley. it's lined from 41st street to central park with vanderbilt mansions. some of them a block wide, a block -- block-sized mansions all the way down there.
here it is on easter sunday, 1913. well, a lot of the commanding influences in the new york central railroad, a lot of them died by 1921. their widows owned the mansions and couldn't keep them up. some of them had the money to do it, but it's hard to hire irish maids, they were doing other things, other occupations. they are there to be sold. a group of young, aggressive real estate agents, come in and buy the mansions. a day after they bought them, they tear them down and tear every single one down except one within a year. by 1928, vanderbilt alley is scrubbed clean of all these mansions. then what they do is bring in, they sell the land to mer merchandising. they transform it into the
greatest shopping emporium in the country. sachs moves to harold square and fifth avenue. the entire stretch of the avenue looks something like this. this is the vanderbilt mansion, the largest of them. alice vanderbilt lived there. it's across from the park. this is sachs when it went up. here is another shot of the alice vanderbilt mansion. this is what replaced it. edwin goodwin, a garment worker from rochester, new york founded a tailor shop with a guy who got out of the business because he was drinking too much. goodman took it over. he moves uptown. don't go there. tailoring has never gone that far uptown.
he and his wife live in a penthouse. now, by new york law, they were not permitted to live in a city's industrial building. women made dresses from the sixth floor sold in the building. jimmy, a friend of goodwin and he gets them listed in the city books as custodians. i tell you, they had to be the richest janitors in the history of the world. so, this is this regal stretch of fifth avenue as it's transformed in the '20s. these two women that i'm talking about had a lot to do with it. they formed the newest new york business. 1935, the eighth largest business in the country, the beauty business.
cosmetics mostly. it was founded by elizabeth arden, the daughter of a struggling canadian farmer. came to new york on her own and founded by helena. her father was a kerosene dealer. they built their shops close together on fifth avenue. they were venomous rivals. they had their shops within two blocks of each other for 40 years and never spoke to each other. rubenstein called arden the other one and claimed she dyed her hair. look at that. before they arrived in new york, all the actresses and working girls wore make up. by the mid-'20s, powder and paint was independence. now put it on in the powder room and in public. that was a sign of audacity.
the beauty business becomes one of the largest industries in the country. american women were spending more on beauty products in 1927, mostly women's beauty product than all of america was spending on electric power. lots of opportunities for entrepreneurship, too. if you were an average woman working in the city, you made 17 bucks a day. it's not a lot. translated to about 170 -- $17 a week. $170 a week today. on the other hand, if you were an experienced graduate, a woman of these beauty culture schools, you could, on your own, support not handsomely, but support a family of four. there were lots of opportunities. lots of opportunities for entrepreneurship. actually, one of the most
enjoyable things about writing this book was getting to know these and other independent minded women. successful pioneers in the business. hatty changed her name to carnegie. dealing with miserably paid, but tough, jewish and italian women and women writers like zelda fitzgerald and my personal favorite, bright and beautiful lois long of the new yorker. her column on the new york fashion industry on and off the avenue. new york's boiling nightclub life. she wrote a column called lipstick. really, more than any other columns helped to launch the new yorker as america's most sophisticated kcosmopolitan
magazine. i wrote something on the striving women of new york up here and you don't have to pay for it. i have to say here, just to pause, while i appreciated the wonderful things the reviewer in the new york times book review wrote about my book, it was a strong review, i was shocked by the comment with few exceptions like a nightclub owner. the women tend to appear in miller's books at pliant chill girls and prostitutes. this is a gross misrepresentation of the book. they are not show girls and there's not a single prostitute in the book. one wonders. anyway. while this is going on, while arden and goodman and these people are transforming fifth avenue, i don't have a slide on this, but ann vanderbilt and ann morgan, the daughter of j.p.
morgan move to this area of town and they go all the way across town to sutton place and take a neighborhood and gentrify it and make it a community of women dedicated to civic causes. down the way from there, fred french, you saw his skyscraper a little earlier, he builds a community for -- affordable community, i should say, for in-town living. it's still there. it's still there. affordable in-town living. these are the skyscrapers of the area. it's a park-like area. it used to have a golf course on it. his papers are here at the library. they are very good. so, this whole area, then, the grand central area, fifth avenue, sutton place, all along
the shore of the east river from the queens borrow bridge past 42nd street is transformed at the same time. that's a shot more representative of the park-like atmosphere they tried to create there. about this time, walter chrysler comes to town. now we know a lot about the chrysler building, but ed tors said that was walter chrysler? yeah, that was walter chrysler. but, one of my students asked me where i was going nor manmandno said why? i said d-day. he said the band? no. it's not a joke. he's born in kansas prairie. he becomes a railroad mechanic, then gets into the auto business, takes over buick and
for forms chrysler corporation. he wants to create, at the capping moment, he wanlts to create the tallest building in the world. this is four years after introducing his first car, the chrysler 6. at the time, he's throwing up the building in 1927-'28, others have the same idea. there's a building going on downtown at 40 wall street. that was the name of the site. the owners there had the same aim in mind. so this instigates what i call a sky race or what the paper call the sky race. it's a publicizes competition of who is going to build the tallest building in the world. everyone thought as the buildings were nearing completion, they figured 40 wall
won the day over the chrysler building. chrysler ordered the construction inside the building in secret of a thing called a vertex. that's that steel needle on the top there. it's 185 feet high. it's built inside the tower, then one october morning in 1929, they raised it up. nobody noticed it. it wasn't covered in the papers until chrysler made the announcement that, gotcha. when they threw it up, the architect, ben allen, stood four blocks away and watched it. he thought it would fall down and create casualties and be arrested. when it's raised, 77 stories high at 1,046 fetal, it's the highest structure ever built but
only for 11 months when it was topped by the empire state building. nobody heard of the guy. i came across this quote from the british designer. it's very, perhaps inconsistent new yorkers don't know the names of their most brilliant architects. well, the chrysler building was called hot jazz. i think it's a near perfect representation of mid manhattan style and speed and romantic access. this fits the idea that cities build their biographies in the buildings they create. some buildings aren't bigraphical. they represent the ideas and aspirations of buildings. month cello is a classic example of that. van allen used a material that doesn't rust for the trim. a lot of you have been inside the building and seen the
ceiling mural by tremble across the street from the ceiling mural in grand central station. on that mural are images from the time of the actual construction workers. the guys, you know, who sweated this thing out and risked their life laboring on the building. i think it's new york's symbol, this trumble mural to the workers who built the art deck coe skyscrapers. if you go across the street from the chrysler building, you are at the cannon building. this is how this whole area is beginning to emerge by 1930. there is the building. it's 56 stories high. when it was built before the chrysler building, it was the tallest on 42nd street. now, who iss irwin? he got out of the army, he's broke, jobless, the son of immigrants from ukraine.
he builds two small cottages in benson hurst. they make a little money. he and his brother move into midtown. they build a hotel. ten years after 1919, as a very young man under 40, a multimillionaire builder, a master, really, of the midtown skyline, touted with fred french. one of the 100 wondermen. go into the lobby of this building, it's terterrific. it's new york, city of opportunity with his own life, he designed it. he's a self-made architect. his own life as an example of this. he also saw, he loved the theater. he not only built them, he loved the theater. he wanted this building to be part of the city's theater so he puts up 200 flood lights and
installs them in one of the building's dramatic setbacks. they brilliantly illuminated the tower at night. you don't see it from here. from new jersey, it looked like an island at night floating in the sky. so, there he is himself. i was giving a lecture at the new york historical society and his daughter was in the audience. that was interesting. and his granddaughter. by 1930, they call 42nd street the valley of the giants. it's in vanderbilt's day, the 1860s, a street of small factories, smelly stockyards, railroads and by 1930, the only thing that's manufactured there as the new yorker put it is quantities of tension. okay? so, this is patterson's daily
news building, of course the chrysler building, the lincoln building and so on. a thing to mention here is capitalism is driving this but these free-standing towers are not pure products of unrestrained capitalism. they are built to the specifications of zoning laws designed to bring sunlight on to the city streets and prevent overcrowding on the land through the setbacks. working within these restraints, created by the zoning laws, raymond hood, who designed patterson's daily news building create i don't know what you call it, but a distinctly, it's not prayerly architect, it doesn't have a name like that. it's a new york-style architect that is a style that was born of
necessity. we didn't want to do it, we have to do it, it was done well. one of the great style setters in new york city. he lived up in rhode island and commuted into the city. there you can see the dramatic setbacks in the fred french building, which is, of course, on the corner of 45th. i mentioned fifth, but it's the corner of 45th and fifth avenue. a couple friends of mine worked in that building. i never spent too much time in it. i came across a novel called "underworld." the two characters go into the lobby and turn to each other and say, who on earth was fred french? well, there's a story there. fred french was a real estate person. what he sold, he sold with a
ferver of a millionaire. stock for you and i. he turned the stock company into a profitable real estate company as well and sold that stock with tremendous ferver. he comes out of nowhere. he starts out peddling real estate out of a coal cellar. by 1927, ten years later, he's worth $10 million. his skyscraper is autobigraphical. if you take binoculars out -- my book, by the way, there's a map of new york and you press on the button. up pops the french building with
a picture of him in it. if you go to my website, you can move that, which is interactive on the website to your ipad. you can walk around new york and get 35 architectural spots popping up on you. it's free, too. so, if you look on the slender slab, it's a slab construction and if you look there closely at the top, the commanding symbol is the rising sun, of course. that imbollizes renewal. that's the theme of his life. he never stopped believing in himself even when he failed and he failed tremendously in the great depression. so many people went under with the stock market crash. he dies with a net worth less than $10,000. i think, that's french. to me, some of these buildings
are a little too tall. i like the building down the street here. the radiator building, which is now a hotel. it's -- you'll recognize it from george o'keefe painting of it. this is a photograph. it's 21 stories tall, black brick. it's on west 40th street built in 1924, hood's first new york skyscrap skyscraper. i like it because it's built to human scale. it's open to the sun. it's open to the air. it's got a nice park, bryant park across the street. there it is at night. new york was a gigantic construction site in the
mid-20s. the rivet guns caused the stir as the city started to get involved and control it. like the building of a medieval cathedral, building a new york skyscraper was really a thrilling public spectacle. it took over in the heart of town. some spectators would arrive at the scene and try to watch these ant-like men up there where the birds don't fly, up on the girders, sky boys they called them in the '20s. they were heroes in the newspapers. manhattan in the '20s, it's always been this, a construction site. it's an active construction site. it's street theater, this sort of thing. one thing, you know, when you see guys doing this sort of stuff. these are the sky boys. yeah. probably the most fascinating
spectacle for people to watch, aloft. these guys worked, by the way, notice, without hard hats or safety harnesses. the riveting gangs. this is one of the guys there. there's four guys, a heater, a catcher, a bucker up and gunman. here is how it works. these guys would have charcoal heaters like in your backyard and they would heat the rivets. a guy goes in, until they got a cherry red color. then a guy goes in with these tongs, long tongs and flip the rivet to a catcher. that's a catcher. he would catch it in his glove, as it were, done by an old bucket, okay? then there is, if the catcher misses it, it's a blazing rivet. he hits him and scars him or it
falls below the missile capable of driving in someone's head. the catcher then places the rivet between two beams and the holes between two beams. the bucker upholds it in place. the gun guy with a pneumatic hammer puts a lot of pressure on it, the stem of the rivet. his whole body shaking until the rivet is smashed into a mushroom-like cap, flush against the steel. the entire operation putting one in takes a minute. so, it's very dangerous work. iron workers suffered one violent death on average for 33 hours on the job. one guy told me we don't die, we are killed. indians did a lot of the work on the chrysler building. they lived over in brooklyn and they embraced the danger.
it enhanced their self-esteem in a culture where women are the main decision makers. they are still forbidden, i was in several households, they are forbidden to touch their husband's work belts and tools, which are symbols of sexual potency. now, there was a legend floating around new york and it's kind of racial, that they did this work because they are genetically coded to do it. blacks can jump higher, indians aren't afraid of heights, that stupid stuff. that fearlessness came naturally to them. when you talk to the guys, it was a learned trade. they came about it after years of experience and falls. the work gave them ownership. i didn't want to just deal with the millionaires, i deal with the dockworkers and guys like
this. the women in factories. this work gave them at least a sense of ownership. one of them said to me, we are part of this town. he said we are mountain builders. so, some of them lived across town. an area of poverty. down on the east side, poverty tended to be, especially with the jews, a one-generation experience. hell's kitchen was where people never made it. irish and german, predominantly. two ways to get out, sports and crime. i'm not going to talk at length about this, but this is bill dwyer, he runs one of the biggest bootlegging systems in new york. i never heard of him before.
dwyer forms a syndicate with this fella here, nasty man, frank costello. later named prime minister of the underworld and leader of the m mafia. he's an immigrant. this other fella, who is an irishman, family immigrated to the slums of midland slums of england. prohibition gave the smalltown hoods to opportunity to come, to create a million dollar industry with its own fleet. they had lawyers and an airplane. they arrested the guy. the first prohibition pilot. watch out for the coast guard. dwyer said we are not going to worry about the coast guard, we are going to buy them off. down he would go with gifts, money and women. they could bring it right into the harbor.
later, they brought it in in coast guard boats. and, guess who would unload it? new york police in full uniform. dwyer also, thanks to costello, if they unloaded at the point, they'd pay off all long island's police force and just to be sure, they had five sicilians with machine guns in the car. when they got to the border, they transferred the boos to larger trucks. they had running boards under the trucks and new york cops. they took it to the factory and cut the boos. so, one quart of vodka is turned into five quarts of watered down vodka. they were caught occasionally. federal agents at the brewery. he had a brewery a block long and a block wide in the middle
of hell's kitchen and they could never nail him. it's a fortress-like structure. he had his men patrol the brewery. when the new york cops patrolled and when federal agents came in, the cops arrested them for loitering and stuff like this. in occasion, when they broke through, they slammed through the gates of the structure, madden would open a switch and all would go into the new york sewer system. they have no evidence. he's protected by a boss named jimmy hines or he couldn't have pulled this off. occasional raid, but that's it. the outlets madden controlled, one of the biggest one was controlled by a woman. a real, former texas born movie star, silent films. she said we never changed the
scripts, only the horses. one after the other. her club was in midtown and madden owned part of it. he would ride around in his long car, stop at the club, pick up profits. she was shrewd. she didn't drink herself. she was a devout catholic and invested her money wisely. she helped with the idea all american women supported prohibition. i think that did as much to bring down prohi addition as anyone in the country. there she is in a drawing at her club. jimmy walker was there. now, he would ride around in a big car. you know, movie actor. he played in all the gangster films in the '30s. to move in a city like this, he
needs two things, density, diversity, yes? density and diversity can lead to congestion, so you need movement. while all this is going on, this is my problem with what was going on, the debate in the last election about what's going to happen to the east side of midtown. do you skyscraper it? people are saying there's not enough transportation to build skyscrapers 110 stories high. there isn't. while this boom was done, they did it right. they were building the sixth avenue supway. they were building the west side highway. most emphatically, they were building the holland tunnel and the george washington bridge. holland is the chief engineer. he died of stress during the construction. it's named after him. there's a bus behind a toll stand on the new york side.
catch it sometime. the tunnel was begun in 1919. the harbor froze, rarely froze. you couldn't get it in new york. riots in the city. they build, you know, they build the tunnel. it's completed in 1927. two months after ground was broken on the gw bridge, the first vehicular tunnel under the hudson. for the first time, it's a -- well, it's also the longest vehicular tunnel in the world. it's longer than the lincoln tunnel. digging it wasn't the challenge, okay? when they met, they started digging out of new jersey and new york. they dug railroad tunnels before. it was ventilating this thing that was a problem. cleaning out the poisonous things. they built a tunnel in pittsburgh, threw cars in and
people died of carbon monoxide poisoning. he creates four wind factories. here they are. they still stand. industrial architecture. two at each end of the tunnel. they capture the wind. they are like venetian blinds. they have fans inside, power the wind, get it going and shoot it into the tunnel. not straight through the tunnel because if you had a fire, it would go like a cyclone through the tunnel. pull it in gradually, at hub cap level and the air comes in at the hub cap level and the bad air sucked out of the roof of the tunnel. so the air in the tunnel and every tunnel in the world is build like this is changed every 90 seconds. without this ground breaking ventilation system, the tunnel would be a poisonous gas chamber.
engineers played such a big part in fact building of this city. by the way, they let pedestrians in here first. people go out to the sign, new york/new jersey. they come out, shake hands with manhattan people, how you doing, mac? okay, this is one of my heroes, swiss born. he designed every modern bridge in new york city. most daring fete about this bridge is its really thin deck. very slender and not many people thought it would hold the kind of traffic it needed to hold. probably the most pleasing aesthetic feature to a lot of industrial archaeologists is the crisscross. he wanted to cover it over. he thought the steel should be in concrete and decorated.
the port authority didn't have the money to do it. it's 1932. so, later, he kind of got this accidental artwork. all his later bridges are unsheathed like this. the french architect called it the most beautiful bridge in the world. this increases congestion, but also creates suburbs. a lot of the cars poured into new york, crossed the tunnel and down the new west side highway into hell's kitchen area before they cut a left and went into manhattan. at this point, death avenue, as it was called. have you ever had the fortunate pilgrim, great novel, about growing up in hell's kitchen. he has a character who rides a horse like this kid here. they are usually kids, cowboys,
they call them. broadway cowboys. he would carry a lantern or flag to warn pedestrians that a train was coming down there because in a 50-year period, over 1,000 people were killed on tenth and 11th avenue called death avenue. so, jimmy walker pressed hard for the elevation of these tracks and so you could move cars. most importantly save lives. they forced the new york central railroad that controlled manhattan at the time. they forced it to elevate the freight line and take the freight through buildings. of course that's done in '34, 1934 and it becomes obsolete and it's a high line. new york high line. just near there, there it is, the construction when it's completed. the west side improvement plan. not an improvement if you live
under it. hell's kitchen usually got the worst of this sort of stuff. i wanted to show you this. this happens when you have transformations taking place. new york starts to become industrialized. the biggest industry, doesn't have steel mills and stockyards like chicago. it's garment making. but the fashion industry, expensive women's dresses continue to be made in manhattan close to where buyers come, close to the big magazines, specialized stores where you can, you are not handling a mass-produced product. that part of the industry remains on fashion avenue. the making of the dress occurs in eastern pennsylvania, up in the cold regions in pennsylvania.
now, this is -- this -- i should also say that. i should also say this. another industry that stays in new york and for the same reason -- i wasn't going to do this, is publishing. this is one of the pioneer publishers in midtown in 1920s. see, in the '20s, jewish publishers move into the city. they are challenging the old boston based anglo saxton elite. they want to publish books with hollywood style fanfare. sky writers and things like that. i loved it. published my book and there it was on the roof of the subway, the poster for the book. he was a gambler. he gambled on hemingway when he was a nothing.
he gambled on great playwrites. some days there were more bootleggers in the office thand writers, but he's a publisher of principle. he fought sensorship. his lawyer was a representative on the state floor who pushed hard against sensorship, jimmy walker. no woman has ever been ruined by a book. he is a producer, also, of dracula and things like that. american tragedy, things like that. he's drawn to broadway as a lot of people were. broadway itself, finally, is the last district we are dealing with. broadway is transformed.
this is the times building. that begins it all. it's built in 1904 on long acre square here. a subway station is built under it. that's why he wanted to build it there. here it is lit up at night. this is actually 1907 when the first ball was dropped from times square. there's supposed to be 250,000 people there, but it doesn't look like it in the picture. there had always been the great white lights. that was broadway south of 42nd street. in the '20s, the light show is magical. you have multicolor advertising lights, they moved, whirled and spun. bottles of beer appeared. rivers of peanuts fell out of the sky. it's a conspiracy of commerce against the night. in the '20s, what happens on
times square and on broadway is this. the movies take over. they push the legitimate theaters off broadway where they are today. you can only fill a theater to, you know, 1100 people. you can pack, in some of these theaters, 5,000 people and show five shows a day and open all night. they are driving these people out of business. now new york is not making a lot of movies. they used to make them in queens. most big movies in hollywood. the big premiers in new york. if broadway approves, the rest of the country will approve. the most spectacular is this is the only good shot we could get. we went to a lot of archives to look. this is the roxy. this is opening night on west 50th street. he called it, roxy did, a self-promoter, the cathedral of the motion picture. used to joke about it, the
papers did. it was enormous. one called it the largest theater since the fall of rome. five stories high, 6,000 seats. there's a new york cartoon with a kid in the middle of the rotunda holding his moms hand. he looks up and says momma does god live here? a lot of critics poke fun at the over-the-top decor. but, roxy wasn't out to please the critics. he was after the common crowd. for $1.50, a brooklyn steam fitter and his wife could take a seat anywhere and enjoy a four-hour show and get treated like raja's by these guys, a platoon of roxy ushers. he used to be a marine corps drill sergeant. they lived in the building and were trained by him.
his story is a rags to riches story. here he is, simple looking guy. the son of an immigrant shoe maker from germany. lives in a lumber town in minnesota. he arrived in new york in 1912 and gets a job on the road selling magazines up in the pennsylvania coal regions, where my family was born. there he runs into a girl that he really likes behind the bar. he loved hot dogs. they served good hot dogs, but he liked the girl better. he stayed. her father didn't trust him. you want to marry my daughter, you have to stay for a year in town and work as a bartender, i'll give you the cold eye and see if you are worthy of her. he stuck it out. you have a rink back there, a skating rink because they are not selling many -- they hoped was going to be a diner. let's turn it into the movie theater. he was fascinated with flickers.
he walked in the snow from the little town he was in, and he walks to scranton, pennsylvania, railtown. he shows them in the back. puts a white sheet down, rolls the projector and makes the introduction, sells the tickets, hires a woman from the church choir to come in and sing, play a piano. he gets seats from, like the seats you are sitting on from the funeral parlor across the street. when there was a wake, there was no movie. all kind of crazy stuff. during the pasadena rose festival, he has a picture of the parade. he ties sponges together and he dips them in the rose water and he hangs them on two electric fans and calls it smellevision. he's a wonderful character. they have big theaters in new
york, but can't produce enough movies, good movies to fill the theaters every night. so, what do you do? you create the prologue, which lasts four hours. that precedes the film. to roxy, it was more important. he takes over a big theater, the capital theater, brings in 100-piece symphony. clog dancers, elephants, lions, then the film. before sound film is invented in '27, you can't fill the place up. i think marcus lowe, one of the founders of movies said, he pointed out what roxy was about. we sell tickets to theaters, not to movies. what roxy does then is he goes to the radio. he starts broadcasting the prologues with occasional commentary. people like the commentary. he puts together a variety show.
1927, he moves to nbc. tsarnaev station, he's the biggest radio personality in the country. he starts in the communication industry by running -- he worked for the marcony company. that is the great marcony right there. he had a lot of girlfriends in new york. he would deliver flowers and candy to them and got to know them well. when the marcony company creates a spin off called rca, it turns the company from ship to shore communications and to entertainment for the millions. he said let's have a thing -- let's do this. how about creating a thing called an entertainment box. out of it will come news, sports and all that. we'll put it in the living room. they thought you're crazy.
five years later, they are doing it. in the mid-20s, when he's rising in the company, he moves from downtown where the radio industry was created, up by broadway. why broadway? there's where the entertainment is. it's where crosby is. his lifelong rival, and they were truly lifelong rivals, now, he's a self-made guy. paly is a guy of a rich cigar making family. the family started in ukraine. by the time they moved from chicago to philadelphia, he went to wharton school. he hated him because he dated non-jewish girls. for the next half century, they battled for supreme si in radio, television and then color television. but it's paley who lynnings radio to advertising.
the only business supported entirely by advertising. somebody wrote a letter saying i'm getting great entertainment, great music, who do i pay? nobody. it's paid for by advertising. paley hooks up then. 1928, he signs up washington, d.c.'s duke ellington who had been playing in a downtown club here called the club kentucky. what happened was up at the cotton club, they had another act. up in harlem. of course, this is an all black entertainment, all white audience. his agent, ellington's agent found out there was an opening around christmas season. the band leader suddenly died. he got ellington an audition there. the club, guess what? is owned by mac. the agent, by the way is irving
mills, a great music agent in the country. madden wanted ellington. here is how he got him. he had a contract to go out on the road for the christmas season. he found out, madden did, that ellington was in philly. he sent work to a philly boss called boo boo huff. boo boo sent out a boy and talked to a guy running the show. they told him be big or be dead. his name was clarence robinson. robinson was big. okay? so, he let him go. the band left for philadelphia that night and left the band for history. ellington just created songs. those recordings were really making it big nationally. this radio exposure puts new york's music out to the whole country and changes everything. people called it hot jazz. ellington said i don't write
jazz. that's how he saw it. two years later, he -- this is ellington's band, he hooks up with florence, a crazy combination. he was the only producer in new york who had the guts, i would use a stronger word if i could. had the guts to hire a black person to go on stage with white women, show girls. the big theater companies in new york company wrote nazi-like propaganda and tried to shut him down. but, here he is, from chicago, started out. his dad did a lot of classical music. one of his acts was called the dancing ducks of denmark. ducks that dance and the cops came in and closed it down. the reason the ducks were
dancing is the stage had heated gas jets under it. society from the cruelty of animals wasn't happy. he gets a start, as you know, in new york. he creates the fallings. they are a new york sensation. costume productions, reviews, they were called, designed in his words, glorify the american girl. in '27, master of light entertainment stuns the country and critics by producing show boat, a theater classic. as several critics pointed out, broadway theater is before, bc, before show boat and after show boat. it's said in the 19th century, the mississippi river boat, it deals with the issue, explosive issue of it. a mixed black and white cast. the songs go directly like with oklahoma out of a plat in a
dialogue. it's staged. revolutionizes the movie theater. they call it the best musical ever written. it might still be. the stirring rendition of old man river, brought audiences to their feet. that year, we conclude here, in that year, he mounts six, six blockbuster broadway shows. that's never been equalled. he has the backing of newspaper mogul, william randolph hurst. he gives him money to open his own theater. later, it was torn down. i think it was him who spent more time out of new york than in new york in the '20s. it's he who represents and em
bodies new york. serial adultery. it's daring. it's a fantastic run of success. he's fascinating, but not appealing. he hired more comedians than anybody in the world, but no one saw them laugh. never smile. he had a tremendous personal magnetism yet his means of communication was the telegram. he sent 100 telegrams a day, some to staffers across the hall. 15 yards away. if that man dies, sell western union short. they entertained, he and his wife did. billy burke, the actress, they entertained on the big estate, berkeley crest.
they entertained like ancient romans. they had a pet elephant for their little kid, patty. they had twin bears. it was a crazy place. he's a gambler. he's a gambler at the tables and nearly everything in life, broadway shows, same thing. it's a source of success and his ruin. like the old greek sense where your strongest trade is your greatest weakness, a lot of guys had that. he lost 50,000 bucks a night in casinos and more in broadway flops. when the market crashed in '29, he crashed with it. he never, never recovered. like french, he never recovered. once master of his own world, he was, he dies in '36 with $250,000 in debt. he dies, tragically, alone. now, the forces that brought him down were those that, i think, brought the jazz age to what
fitzgerald called spectacular in october 1929. i think he contributed a lot to the extravagance of the age to the near complete regard for disregard, i should say, for ambitions. i don't think the '20s were, in manhattan a spree that fitzgerald chronicals in a story called the crack up. i don't think any other decade in the life of that city was more alive or more enduringly created. it was really -- these are shots from the follies and show boat. that year, 1927-'28, more broadway productions produced in any one year at any one time. this is how it looked. it looked so promising.
facing a depression that is going on to world war ii. but, what they created was magnificent. the slender skies, skyscrapers. this was the epicenter of the country. ironically, carl sandburg summed up what the skyscraper meant. by night, the skyscraper looms in smoke and stars. thank you. appreciate it. [ applause ] >> now, we can do q & a. if i haven't killed interest here. we are going to pass a mic around. if you have questions, i would be happy to stick around.
like a lot of new yorkers, we are at the mercy of mass transit. yes. >> hi, thank you very much. that was wonderful. >> a little louder. >> thank you very much. that was wonderful. >> a little louder. >> oh, that was wonderful. thank you. >> speak directly into it. because it is very hard to hear. >> okay, sorry. >> i was wondering, how you chose your cast of characters. >> i'm sorry? >> how you chose your cast of characters. >> i didn't choose them -- i didn't set out -- like i didn't write down the characters. i just started to tell the story and the characters just -- you know, it is a cliche where books kind of have a life of their own. but this really did. and the characters kept popping up. people i had never heard of. i never heard of hattie or fred french. i knew there was a french building. i didn't know of the
tremendously successful stock seller. i didn't know much about lois long, about her personal life. to me, she was the quintessential jazz age woman with a long string of pearls. drinking and carousing all night. going on at 4:00 in the morning, taking off her dress, a cigarette in her mouth and pound out the copy that would beat all the boys. great character. so yeah, they just popped up on me. yeah. that's why i said, getting to know them. yeah. yes, sir? >> here is the mike. >> the biggest magazine publisher, what contributions did he make to new york city itself? >> he brought down the level of
public taste in a big way. and you know, we have the term photo shop now. so he would take the body of another human being and stick the head of a guy who was accused of beating his wife and there he was, his picture was in the paper. he brought journalism to a new spectacular low with a series of -- a series of tabloid magazines and tabloid newspapers, i should say, that tried to outsell the daily news. but the daily news was the big player in the room. he was also a health nut. so he would have all this stuff on his sexual exploits, how much he could lift and how well he could perform. a sickening magazine. >> but the many restaurants that he opened, four in new york and two in chicago, what contribution would you say they made to the city and country? >> his restaurants?
>> tenny restaurants. >> i don't know much about that, that story. i really don't. i just know him as the tabloid -- bernarr mcfadden is his name. bernarr, with two rs. mcfadden. [ inaudible ] >> that's a wonderful question. she asked me, who is financing this whole thing. well new york is both rich and poor at the same time. there is, you know, very little income tax. hardly any state tax. the big tax in new york city is property tax. and so here is how the real estate game works. and this is what's subsidizing this construction. and that's the big business in
the city and that's what the city government banked on, too. that if i throw up a 15-story building, the most economical thing i could do is to approve its demolition and throw up a 35-story building because i can pull in more rent. as long as the rents are coming in, okay, you have more taxpayers there and the city gets the profits. doubles its profits by building double the size of the building do the banks profit? of course. because they are loaning money to the city. the banks feel the city can pay off the debt because the real estate market goes up and up and up. now know, the song, "blue skies", it is always going to be a blue skies. no one is predicting an end to this thing. when it hits, banks call in their loans. banks go under and so does the city. by 1952, new york is officially bankrupt. that's the thing that powers this. it is powered by an idea, confidence. this building boom is unstoppable. there would be articles
occasionally in new york that would say, new york overbuilt and the next day, there are three articles saying, contesting that whole idea. this city can never be overbuilt. it a growth-driven place. it always has been. >> thanks a lot. you talked about the fact that no one expected the depression to come. >> some people, you know, their profits only when it comes. >> my question is, among your characters, were there any who were sort of like the sky is falling kind of character. >> ironically, soronos sold all his stock in 1928. including his rca stock. and he wouldn't even explain,
even to his mother who asked him why he did it. he wasn't getting advice from any of the big bankers. baruk or anybody like that. but he sees it. khan, another dig financer, also another big broadway player, expected he was spending beyond his means as a publisher. and liveright had the same philosophy as walker did about the city. we are creating a lot of books and putting them on best seller list and it will balance in the end. ironically, he had a collection of books called the modern library. there were no paperbacks in libraries back then. if you wanted dickens, you had to use a hardback. the modern library produced these and little books sold for 59 or 99 cents. that was undermining the whole firm. he went to lunch with a young editor called bennett surf. and surf says horrace, i would
like to buy the modern library and, to his amazement, livrite said you've got it. he wanted to get out from under the thumb of his father-in-law, who his wire hired to keep an eye on him. not only with women, but with money. he thought co-pay off debt and things like that. he sold the modern library. now surf went out and created just with the modern library, random house. by the '30s, random house takes off and gets into trade publication. but that's all it did in the beginning. that's the same kind of philosophy that is motivating a lot of these people. exactly. yeah. using up life. living life. babe ruth is a classic example of that sort of thing. yes? >> i would say that la guardia was one of those people who
foresaw the down fall of the -- >> well, la guardia is a very interesting character. he plays a big role in my book. he is the antithesis, the big battler against prohibition. he was in congress at the time as an independent and socialist and republican. he bounced around from party to party. a lot of people thought he was untrustworthy for that reason. he would say, okay, you want prohibition? he would introduce magnificently important bills to support prohibition. the cruel irony to the conservatives who pushed through prohibition is they are also fiscal conservatives. they didn't want to pay to enforce it. so la garcia puts these big appropriate -- let's enforce this. $16 million for prohibition. and they would be embarrassed in voting against their own bills. he would go into drugstores, make concoctions and drink them in front of newspaper men. here is how you make bootleg booze. daily news with the pictures. but la guardia, yeah, he did battle corruption. but he didn't see it all. even he, when he ran against
walker in 1930, he got beaten very, very badly. and one of the reasons is, tameny, as long as there was prosperity, and so many people depended upon tameny, and it did an awful lot of good for people in the neighborhoods. i still think one of the biggest mistakes new york has made is when they went away from the old system with local aldermen. somebody throws a rock through your window or raising hell on the corner, who do you call any more? in chicago, there is an alderman system. there's a lot of corruption. you go down to the local alderman and they take care of things like that. your car is impounded. your kid gets thrown in jail for a minor offense. the alderman can help you. what about in new york, what do we have? nothing. and you know what a phone call
in new york can do. nothing. tameny had people there helping alderman, any time somebody needs needed help, they were there to help them. and they provided jobs. all they asked for was your vote. they would say about walker, yeah. maybe he is pocketing a little bit. and as i said, he got most of his money, not from the treasury. he got most of his money from private friends. and he didn't -- it wasn't tit for tat. it wasn't, give me a million dollars and i'll help with you bridge construction. it was just them giving him money. and they could never prove the reciprocity side of it. this project -- this bribe for this project. that's what they couldn't nail him on. he got nailed for taking too much money. and he should have. he should have been removed from office. for running the city like that. for his own benefit, as it were. yes? >> i'm sorry.
there's a great book by a lady named mary henderson. all about the theater. >> oh, a wonderful book. >> isn't it? >> yes. the best book on the second. >> hopefully that's not too loud. could you tell us about how this is incredibly expansive theater district that was so huge during the '20s, if people had no money to go to the theater any more, tonight clubs or what have you, how the heck did any of them stay open? >> that's a terrific question. and what kept is alive was hollywood. people continued to go to movies
for release during the depression. i mean, more people, far more people went to the movies. the '30s are better films of course than the '20s. so broadway was used as a testing ground for productions that could be turned into films. and an awful lot of money subsidizing broadway theater came from the west coast. that's what underwrote this. there is also this, and i found with so many people, like liveright, there is this absolutely alluring fascination with theater. with owning a play. going to the rehearsals. meeting the actors. sitting about the audience the first night. there is this tingle about that sort of thing. for people interested in live theater. and it is a gamble. "fortune" magazine did a terrific thing in the publication, founded i think in 1930, on the theater business. and i highly recommend it to
you. it goes through the whole idea of how they places stay alive due the throws of the worst depression. that is their driving argument. that it was largely hollywood. and speculators who had enough money to waste if they would lose it. and felt this tremendous, almost magnetic draw to the theater world. and she talks about that a little bit in the book as well. anyone else? any questions? yes, sir? >> professor, one quick question. your first look through the century, dealt with chicago post fire. i'm wondering, the similarities seem very easy to draw. which between new york and chicago of those respective areas. are there any differences, things that made those cities different. either in the political realm or -- anyway be the arc of the two stories arise and in a sense fall.
>> yeah. yeah. >> i'm doing a presentation in chicago about that. i better start thinking about it. a chicago historian. jonathan and i are doing a thing on gang life and politics in 1920s, capone versus madden and things like that. you know, chicago, made a couple of mistakes. and it was the skyscraper center of the world in the 1890. best skyscrapers and handsomest ones. then they set limit on skyscrapers. i believe there should be limits. this was a little too early in the game to do that. and it never quite shook its frontier position. the gang life in chicago is what stereotypically. the new york gangsters, people like ralsteen, really mistrusted people like capone. because he was too quick with the gun and too quick with the machine gun. they took care of people like that. even costello. i'm not trying to present him as, you know, a man on a -- purity. but he never carried a gun. and madden never really carried a gun either.
they had their own enforcers. but it wasn't part of the persona. and they were knit more closely into the city. i think what gave them more stability was tameny. and the political part, political machines, they form and then they disappear. never one consistent political machine that can keep order in the city. this creates tuning for anarchists, socialists and introduce interesting reforms as well. but it is a stew. a boiling cauldron, i should say. and it is a very different -- cities have personalities. chicago's is more head long, more reckless than new york's i think. i really do. and they are different types of
cities. what happens is in 19th century, they are both industrial city. new york is the biggest industrial city in the country. chicago has big industries like mills, steel mills and stock yards. and gigantic clothing factory. new york is the minnows, small firms, that dominate. not the big ones. but when america moves -- see, this is the beginning of, i do this in the book, this is the beginning of the decentralization of the city. but also beginning of the deindustrialization of the country. and the electronics revolution is coming on. that's radio. that's television, okay? mass communications and things like that. and new york had always been in the forefront of that since 19th century. sending packet books to england. associated press going out there
and picking up the news 60 miles off-shore and in fast boats bring them into the city. and all that sort of stuff. always a communication center with more newspapers than any other city in the country. and i think you have this wonderful symbiosis in the '20s. greatest port in the hemisphere. it had an industrial base but is quickly moving into a new age and a new type of lifestyle. and that's what i tried to do here in what i call the tale of two cities. one, the quintessential heavy industrial city of large labor unions and large corporations and lots of labor strikes. and new york, in the '20s at least, moving toward a different type of economy. different type of lifestyle. where consumption is almost more important than production. maybe the tale of three cities, and maybe do l.a. in the '50s, which is a complete auto city. still trying to figure that out. anybody else? one there and then up here. >> hi. thank you for your talk. >> you're welcome.
>> i was wondering, you said -- well, i know that people continued to go to the movies and they wanted to be entertained even during the depression. during prohibition, they said more alcohol was consumed than prior years before they began the whole prohibition era. i thought that kind of connected it. but also, the gangsters didn't put their money into the banks. so did they have a hard time of it? i mean, what did they do? >> no, gangsters don't write letters. they don't put money in banks. they don't write their memoirs. no. they invest in clubs and they spend enormously. and not very wisely. but that's is actually up with
of the hardest part of the book was to try to tell the story of gang life without writing a graphic novel. you know what i mean? because so much of crime reporting is anecdotal. and people said, don't go into that, that's quicksand. and i find that if you do it right, you're a good record. i went down to the new york archives. municipal archives. and i asked for, for example, i asked the director for the lucciano papers. he said you're the only person that's ever asked for them. they're in brooklyn, but we'll get them for you tomorrow. i came back the next day. he had a little desk for me and everything. i thought they delivered a washer and dryer. they are big boxes. first thing i pulled out was evidence stuff. you know. revolver and i pulled out a lamp, you know, a lamp with a cord on it that was used to strangle somebody.
then i pulled out the records. they wired their rooms, wiretapped them. they have all of the wiretap. they have all of the, when he was holed up in a motel with the mistress, everyday they have the menu. they collected all of the receipts from waiters and order slips and things like that. and despite the code of omerta, the blood thing, nobody's going to squeal, once they put heat on these guys, tom dewey, line them up and you can get people talking for months. they put prostitutes -- they would keep people in a building for months at a time. they had consecutive jury where a jury would not be released until after the trial. and you could really go after these guys like that. so you have court testimony. you have confessions. and have you terrific crime reporters. some of the best reporters in
the city were crime reporters. there's a lot of evidence you can compile about the life of criminals and despite, you know, without reading these ghost-written, you know, autobiographies and lucciano penned himself and things like that. s and unless you do -- crime was so interwoven in chicago history and detroit history, that it is impossible to do politics without crime and do it right. and i think it is a big mistake by not jump nothing that territory and looking for those kinds of connections. gw bridge. we didn't talk about that side of it. yeah. anybody else? yes, sir. >> when was the first skyscraper built in the united states? and where was it built and when? >> generally -- generally --
what is a skyscraper is the debate among architects. most architects say a building in chicago built by a guy, william jenning, the first tall building built partially with a steel frame. before buildings were supported by load-bearing walls. you go to the beach and you build a sand castle. as you go tall, you have to build the base out so the walls get so thick, you can't go any higher. but with a steel frame, you just hang the walls from -- like curtains, like a cathedral, actually. you hang them there. and jenning is one of the pioneers from that. so the building, no longer in business, was torn down. in my mind, the first two american sky scrapers. >> was year was it? >> i don't know. i think it was 1888. i think that's right.
everybody can check that on there. wiki, yeah. that's the year it was built. yeah. well, thanks. i appreciate it. [ applause ] at the white house today, president obama held a news conference to answer questions about the republican takeover of the u.s. senate and republican gains in the house of representatives. here is what the had president had to say. >> obviously, republicans had a good night. and they deserve credit for running their campaigns. i leave it to all of you and the pundits to pick through the rest of the results. what stands out to me, though, is that the american people sent a message, one that they've sent for several elections now. they expect the people they elect to work as hard as they do. they expect us to focus on their ambitions and not ours. they want us to get the job
done. all of us, in both parties, have a responsibility to address that sentiment. still, as president, i have a unique responsibility to try and make this work. so to everyone who voted, i want you to know that i hear you. to the two-thirds of voters that chose not to participate in the process yesterday, i hear you, too. >> john boehner released a statement saying in part, quote, we are humbled by the responsibility the american people have placed with us. it's time for the government to start getting results and implementing solutions to the problems facing our country starting with our still struggling economy. >> the 2015 c-span student cam competition is under way, open to all middle and high school