On this episode of the A New York Minute in History podcast, Devin Lander and Lauren Roberts tell the recently declassified story of a covert radio station built by the FBI on Long Island to deceive the Nazis during the Second World War. [Read more…] about FBI’s Covert Anti-Nazi Long Island Radio Station
The two portraits, depicting prominent New Paltz residents Dirck D. Wynkoop (1738-1827) and his wife Annatje Eltinge (1748-1827), were missing for fifty years, after they were stolen on February 16th, 1972 while on display at the 1799 Ezekiel Elting (aka LeFevre) House on Huguenot Street. [Read more…] about Paintings Stolen 50 Years Ago Returned to Historic Huguenot Street
Saratoga has always been a gambling town. Even before the famous racetrack was built, Saratoga was full of gambling dens.
Many of the early gambling places were run by men who were considered “gentlemen gamblers.” They ran relatively clean games and generally avoided violence or other forms of vice. They were professional gamblers.
Later, with gambling well entrenched and Saratoga’s location along the notorious bootleg trail from Canada during prohibition, Saratoga attracted nationally known gangsters. [Read more…] about Gamblers and Gangsters of Saratoga
Seventy years ago this month, a lower Manhattan courtroom provided the stage for a remarkable confrontation – much of which played out in New York – that symbolized the frustration of a nation that had recently won the Second World War but felt more insecure than ever.
The euphoria of victory had been quickly succeeded by a perception of global communism on the march. In Europe, the Soviet Union had only recently ended an 11-month blockade of Berlin and had, since 1945, rung down the Iron Curtain across Eastern Europe. In China, Mao’s communists were winning their civil war against Chiang Kai-Shek’s U.S.-backed Nationalists, who would soon flee the mainland for Taiwan. And the Soviets were about to end the U.S. monopoly on the atom bomb with a successful test explosion. [Read more…] about Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss in New York
This week on “The Historians” podcast the guest is journalist David Kinney, co-author of The Devil’s Diary: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets of the Third Reich. (HarperCollins, 2015) The co-author is retired FBI expert on cultural property crime Robert Wittman. You can listen to the podcast here. [Read more…] about Historians Podcast: The Diary Of A Top Nazi Official
While the activities of that particular pro-Nazi organization in the region may be debatable, there is no question that a small group of men charged with plotting to overthrow the U.S. government and replacing it with a Nazi style dictatorship spent much of the summer of 1939 in Sullivan County. [Read more…] about 1939: Nazi Saboteurs In Sullivan County
During the summer of 1939, a small group of men from out of the area rented a camp just outside Narrowsburg, a small community on the Delaware River in Sullivan County, where they spent most of their time shooting rifles. Their need for such extensive practice was understandable; locals who observed the target practice described the men’s aim as “plumb awful.” [Read more…] about The Fuehrer In Sullivan County
Cold warriors of the 1950s achieved one of their most macabre victories by frying Ethel Rosenberg in the electric chair, not for sharing atomic secrets, but simply as leverage to coerce her husband Julius to reveal sources.
Joan Beber’s play, “Ethel Rosenberg Sings: The Unsung Song of Ethel Rosenberg” at the Beckett Theatre until July 13th probes gender politics and personal story. This lively and intelligent exploration doesn’t flinch at setting Ethel’s story to music, since as a smart Jewish girl from the Lower East side bursting to escape the confines of immigrant horizons Ethel (Tracy Michaelidis) saw herself on stage “hitting a high C.” Undercover Productions and Perry Street Theatricals give this rendition of “straight from the spy files” of history an imaginative twist by framing it with prison politics and interracial casting that bounces the themes in an echo chamber of past and present. [Read more…] about Theatre: The Unsung Song of Ethel Rosenberg
Fort Ticonderoga’s connection to the world of chocolate has been well documented over the years. Several additions and improvements were funded by Forrest Mars, Jr., husband of Deborah Adair Clark of Ticonderoga (they are now divorced). Forrest is worth approximately $10 billion as one of the heirs of the Mars candy company.
Eighty years ago, another famous name in chocolate—Baker—was bandied about in Ticonderoga, and it again involved mention of great wealth ($80 million at the time, equal to $1 billion in 2013). But for the village, the story left in its wake an embarrassment as bitter as the company’s most famous product (Baker’s bittersweet chocolate). [Read more…] about Ticonderga Scoundrel: Bernard Champagne
Tom Folsom’s new book, The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe Gallo and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld, takes readers back to a time when Red Hook, Brooklyn called to mind a bloody guerrilla war with the mafia, and not a new IKEA store. Because he writes about the history and cultural fabric of the city in a fresh and inventive way Folsom recently appeared on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. You can also find a YouTube video of Folsom discussing what the neighborhood at the junction of Columbia and Union Streets in Red Hook was like before waterfront crime and the construction of the BQE and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.
Joe Gallo’s short life as gangster, gunman, and racketeer of the Profaci crime family (later known as the Colombo crime family) drew much media attention. Joey and his two brothers initiated one of the bloodiest mob conflicts since the Castellammarese War of 1931. He was an inspiration for Jimmy Breslin and Mario Puzo, considered a threat by both Jimmy Hoffa and Bobby Kennedy, and was teh subject of spreads in Life magazine and Women’s Wear Daily. His gangster chic was the popularized by Harvey Keitel in Reservoir Dogs. His death would be the subject of Bob Dylan’s 1976 song “Joey”.
The Mad Ones tells the story of the Gallo brothers, a trio of reckless young gangsters from Red Hook who staged a coup against the Mafia. In the book, author Tom Folsom recreates the New York City Joey Gallo and the Gallo brothers inhabited. To do this, Folsom—who went inside the FBI Witness Protection Program to research the critically acclaimed “>Mr Untouchable: The Rise and Fall of the Black Godfather written with its subject Nicky Barnes, immersed himself in the strange, brutal, and sometimes poetic world of the Gallo brothers. He waded through almost 1,500 pages of unpublished FBI files, spent hours in the tabloid archives at the New York Public Library, interviewed the Federal agents and NYPD detectives who had staked out the Gallo headquarters almost a half a century ago, and culled what made sense from wiretaps of underworld conversations and leads from informants.