The New York Low Points Timeline -- the 1900s
Race riots in the West 20s and 30s force blacks to head uptown, eventually ending in Harlem.
Aug. 6, 1905
In one of the bloodiest battles of the Tong Wars, members of the Hip Sing tong open fire on members of the On Leong tong during a performance at the Chinese opera house at 5 Doyers Street. When they finally club their way through the hysterical crowds outside, riot police find only four dead or dying tong soldiers -- everyone else had escaped through the various tunnels that lie under Chinatown.
Sept. 11, 1905
A Ninth Avenue El train jumps the tracks at 53rd Street. Twelve dead, over 40 hurt.
Mayor William Gaynor is shot in the throat by deranged former city employee James Gallagher. In 1911, New York State passes the Sullivan Law, requiring gun owners to get permits from the police department. Gaynor dies of his wound in 1913.
March 25, 1911
146 mostly female workers die in a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, sparking a blaze of labor and safety regulations. The FDNY marks the anniversary with a small ceremony every year at the building (23-29 Washington Pl., at Greene St.), which now houses classrooms, offices and labs for nearby NYU.
Mary Mallon is discovered working as a cook in the Sloane Hospital for Women. No big deal -- except she had already been locked up once for spreading typhoid to families who employed her as a cook as early as 1906, so Mary was quarantined on North Brother Island in the East River, and died there in 1938. Only 33 typhoid cases and three deaths were officially connected to her; it was her obstinate refusal to accept that she was a carrier that led to her demonization as "Typhoid Mary."
An outbreak of infantile paralysis kills 2,362.
April 17, 1917
An assassin takes a shot at Mayor John Purroy Mitchell -- the successor to William Gaynor, who had been mortally wounded in an assassination attempt. The would-be killer misses, hitting the city's corporation counsel instead.
May 5, 1917
Once again, City Hall catches fire -- this time, just the cupola is damaged.
Sept. 16, 1920
A wagonload of TNT explodes outside 37 Wall Street, the headquarters of J.P. Morgan and Co. (the scars are still visible). Over 30 people are killed, hundreds injured, and the NYSE closes for the day, though prices will rise the next day. Bolsheviks and anarchists are blamed, but no one ever claims responsibility or is arrested.
Nov. 13, 1921
For trying to talk about birth control, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger is dragged from the stage of Town Hall theater on West 43rd Street and arrested.
Aug. 6, 1927
Two bombs explode in the subway, in the 28th Street stations of the IRT and the BMT lines. Many are injured, one killed.
June 1, 1928
Gangster Frankie Yale is murdered in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on a contract from Mob boss Ciro "The Artichoke King" Terranova. Terranova refuses to pay the killers, who are able to blackmail him for the money because Terranova actually issued a written contract for the hit.
Nov. 6, 1928
Brilliant underworld boss Arnold Rothstein -- alleged fixer of the 1919 World Series and mentor to Lucky Luciano, Legs Diamond, Dutch Schultz, and Frank Costello -- dies two days after being shot in the Park Central Hotel at Seventh Avenue and 56th Street by a gambler to whom he owes money.
Oct. 24, 1929
13 million shares of stock are sold on "Black Thursday," as investors panic and try to pull out of the market, starting the slide that continues through October 29, "Black Tuesday," when some say the market has bottomed out. They're wrong -- prices continue to slide as the country plunges into the Great Depression.
Aug. 6, 1930
State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater leaves a chophouse on West 45th Street -- and enters city legend, as "the missingest man in New York." He had cleaned out his files and cashed a couple of large checks earlier in the day, so some suspect he took it on the lam to avoid implication in a political scandal (he had bought his judgeship from Tammany Hall), while others suspect he was murdered by rival politicos, or perhaps in a blackmail scheme gone awry. But no one knows for sure: Crater is never seen again, and his body is never found.
July 28, 1931
Five children are shot, and one killed, on E. 107th Street -- machine-gunned in a gangster drive-by gone awry. Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll's gang is presumed responsible.
Sept. 1, 1932
Mayor Jimmy "Beau James" Walker, who spent the past seven years chasing chorus girls, writing pop songs, changing his snazzy suits three times a day, looking the other way where Prohibition was concerned, and, in his spare time, running the city, resigns in the midst of a probe that has revealed massive corruption.
Dec. 13, 1934
Albert Fish is arrested at 200 West 52nd Street for the 1928 kidnapping of a Manhattan girl -- in large part because he wrote a letter to the girl's mother describing how he took the 10-year-old to Westchester, where he killed and ate her. Fish is later connected to the murders of children from Far Rockaway and Staten Island, and claims to have murdered, mutilated, and eaten hundreds more. He is executed in 1936.
Feb. 9, 1935
According to Newsday, three Manhattan kids pull a 125-pound alligator from a sewer at West 123rd Street and beat it to death with shovels. Authorities conclude the alligator fell off a boat from the Everglades.
Feb. 22, 1939
20,000 Nazis hold a rally in support of Germany at Madison Square Garden.
Nov. 16, 1940
An unexploded bomb is found at a Con Edison building on West 64th Street -- the first of many scattered around Manhattan and Brooklyn by disgruntled former employee George Metesky. For 16 years, the "Mad Bomber" leaves explosives near Con Ed offices, in movie theaters and phone booths, and once in Grand Central. Though he injures many, none are killed before an early use of psychiatric profiling leads to his capture in 1956.
Nov. 12, 1941
Contract killer Abe "Kid Twist" Reles is helped out of the window of the Coney Island hotel where he's hiding in police custody after turning state's evidence on the members of Murder Inc.
Oct. 12, 1944
Police are called in to prevent riots as 10,000 sobbing girls line up outside the Paramount Theater to get Frank Sinatra tickets, and another 20,000 flood Times Square, hysterical to see the Hoboken, N.J.-born singer.
June 14, 1946
Donald Trump is born in Queens.
Dec. 26, 1947
A blizzard dumps over 25 inches of snow on the city. 77 people die.
Oct. 25, 1957
Mafia boss Albert Anastasia is whacked in the barber shop of the Park Sheraton Hotel.
Aug. 30, 1959
16-year-old Salvador Agron, a member of an Upper West Side Puerto Rican gang, the Vampires, kills two teenagers in Hell's Kitchen. From his outfit, he gets labeled "the Capeman" (a less flashy accomplice gets stuck with "the Umbrella Man"), and horrifies the city with his utter lack of remorse. Twenty years in prison rehabilitate him, and he dies a political activist in 1986. The real crime is the 1998 musical Paul Simon based on the story.
March 13, 1964
28-year-old Kitty Genovese is brutally stabbed to death on Austin Street in Kew Gardens, Queens. 38 people witness or hear the attack -- and do nothing. Their apathy becomes a symbol of the dehumanizing quality of urban life.
July 18, 1964
Protests over the police killing of a 15-year-old black boy turn to riots in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Over the next five days, one person is killed and over 500 arrested.
Feb. 21, 1965
Malcolm X is assassinated by Muslim extremists at the Audubon Ballroom, at Broadway and 165th Street.
Nov. 9, 1965
A blackout hits the city (oh, and much of the Northeast and parts of Canada, too), stranding almost 800,000 people in the subway. New Yorkers handle it with aplomb -- and nine months later experience a mini-Baby Boom.
April 23-30, 1968
Protesting Vietnam, Columbia students occupy university administration buildings; they are eventually violently driven out by the police, but not before they trash the university president's office -- and kickstart a year of student protests nationwide.
March 16, 1970
At 18 W. 11th St. in Greenwich Village, a bomb factory run by the Weathermen, a domestic terrorist group, accidentally explodes, killing three.
April 10, 1972
Mob boss Joe Gallo is whacked at Umberto's Clam House, at Mulberry and Hester Streets.
The South Bronx falls apart -- and then burns. From 1970 to 1975, it's estimated that there over 60,000 fires there, an average of more than 30 a day, as landlords and tenants decide arson is their quickest way out of a bad place.
June 10, 1975
With New York on the verge of bankruptcy, a special state agency takes over much of the city's finances.
Disk jockey Alex Bennett and Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein start one of the city's first public access shows, Midnight Blue, which introduces New York to Robin Byrd. Porn star Byrd (she was in Debbie Does Dallas, among others) becomes a fixture on Channel 35 interviewing strippers, other porn stars, and assorted freaks. After almost 30 years, she's a lot less shocking than she used to be.
May 16, 1977
The helipad atop the Pan Am Building (now the MetLife Building) is closed after a helicopter crash that kills four passengers and one pedestrian on the street below.
July 29, 1976-Aug. 10, 1977
David Berkowitz kills six and wounds seven in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. First called the Lover's Lane Killer and .44-Caliber Killer, he renames himself Son of Sam in letters to the police and newspapers.
July 13, 1977
Lightning strikes cause a citywide blackout -- but the aplomb of 1965 is nowhere to be found. Fires and looting scar poor neighborhoods in Harlem, the South Bronx and Brooklyn. Two days later, police have made almost 3,800 arrests and the city has suffered almost $300 million in damages.
Dec. 8, 1980
John Lennon is shot outside the Dakota.
Oct. 29, 1984
67-year-old black grandmother Eleanor Bumpers is killed by police during eviction proceedings.
Dec. 16, 1985
Mafia boss Paul Castellano is murdered outside Sparks Steakhouse on East 46th Street, presumably on the orders of John Gotti.
Aug. 26, 1986
Robert Chambers murders Jennifer Levin in Central Park. The "Preppy Murderer" claims the tiny Levin tried to force him to have sex with her, and eventually cops a plea. He was released in 2003.
Oct. 19, 1987
The NYSE sees a second "Black Tuesday," with the Dow dropping over 500 points. The drop is blamed in part on automated computerized stock trading programs.
March 29, 1989
Billionaire junk bond king Michael Milken turns himself in to face charges of racketeering and various types of fraud. He eventually pays $600 million in fines.
April 19, 1989
"Wilding" enters the vocabulary when the "Central Park Jogger," a young investment banker, is raped and beaten, and five black and Hispanic teenagers are convicted of the crime. Their sentences, though, are overturned in 2003, after a single man confesses to the attack.
March 25, 1990
Snubbed by a coat-check girl, a disgruntled patron sets fire to the Happyland Social Club at 1959 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx. 87 people die.
Aug. 28, 1991
Drunken motorman Robert Ray falls asleep at the switch of a 4 train just north of Union Square; the train jumps the tracks, killing five and injuring hundreds. Ray escapes unharmed and heads upstairs to Union Square Park to drink some more while the bodies are brought out. He is sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Feb. 26, 1993
Islamic terrorists explode a bomb in the World Trade Center, killing six and injuring thousands.
There are fewer than 1,000 murders in the city for the first time since 1968. (See -- it's not all bad!)
Aug. 9, 1997
Haitian immigrant Abner Louima is tortured and sodomized by police in a Flatbush Avenue precinct house. "It's Giuliani time," the cops allegedly say.
There are only 629 murders in the city, the lowest number since 1964.
Feb. 4, 1999
Out of 41 bullets fired by four police officers, 19 hit Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo, killing him outside his front door in the South Bronx as he reaches for his wallet. The cops are acquitted, and the upraised wallet becomes a symbol of the troubled relations between the NYPD and the city's minority communities.
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