Frank Sinatra: from Hoboken to Eternity

1915 Francis Albert Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915, at 415 Monroe Street in Hoboken, NJ. He was the only child of Italian immigrants Natalina “Dolly” Garaventa and Antonino Martino “Marty” Sinatra. Sinatra weighed 13.5 pounds at the time of his birth and had to be delivered with the aid of forceps, which severely scarred his left cheek, neck, and ear…

A Family Quarrel, Steamboats, and US Patent Law

If all family disagreements resulted in innovation and progress, then, well… the world would be a far better place! A particular quarrel between Colonel John Stevens and Robert Livingston led directly to the establishment of steamboat operations on the Hudson River as well as the creation of US patent law. Colonel Stevens, the founder of…

Snapping Turtles and Founding Fathers

It’s nearly impossible to imagine Aaron Burr peacefully sharing a meal with Alexander Hamilton. But as it turns out, both of them used to belong to a gourmet organization called the “Hoboken Turtle Club.” They were joined by other Founding Fathers – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, to name a few – who…

Colonel John Stevens, Founder of Hoboken

The city of Hoboken was founded by Colonel John Stevens – patriot, attorney, civic-minded inventor, city planner, engineer, and patriarch of America’s first family of engineers. John Stevens was born in 1749 in New York City. Raised in the city, he went on to get a law degree from King’s College, now called Columbia University….

Sybil’s Cave and the Unsolved Murder of the Beautiful Cigar Girl

A recreational destination for 19th-century leisure seekers, Sybil’s Cave, achieved fame, or infamy rather, as the site of an unsolved murder. Sybil’s Cave was created in 1832 by the Stevens family as a folly. The man-made cave, adorned with an elaborate Gothic-style entrance, was built around a natural spring and served as a cafe where…

The Witch of Wall Street: the Legend of Hetty Green

There are people so odd, and so easy to loath, that their character loses its human form and becomes the stuff of legends. One such individual was a woman who went down in history as the “Witch of Wall Street.” She was awarded the title of the world’s greatest miser by the Guinness Book of…

Audrey Munson in New York

“POMONA” of the Pulitzer Fountain   Location: Grand Army Plaza, 5th Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets Sculptor: Karl Bitter/Isidore Konti Built: 1916 The exquisite female figure atop the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel is an allegorical depiction of Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruitful abundance. Symbolizing bounty, she holds a basket of fruit as the…

Mamie Fish – the “Fun-Maker” of the Gilded Age

    “Can I get something for your throat, dear?” – inquired Mr. Stuyvesant Fish. His wife retorted: “Yes, this diamond and pearl necklace I saw today at Tiffany’s.” The most irreverent broad of the Gilded Age, Marion (“Mamie”) Fish did not shine with beauty. Nore with education. Heavyset, stern, barely literate, and often quite…

Bergdorf Goodman – the Wealthiest Janitors in History and 5th Ave Haute Couture

The year was 1928 and Edwin Goodman was about to move his widely successful women’s clothing store to 5th Ave and 58th Street – the spot previously occupied by Cornelious Vanderbilt’s mansion, the largest single-family residence in New York. As commerce relentlessly marched up 5th Avenue, the palace-like Vanderbilt mansion was demolished to be replaced…