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Archive for November 6th, 2011

Remember, Remember, the 6th of November

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Five score and seventeen years ago today, the greatest swindle in the history of mankind was pulled off.

A cadre of super predators in Manhattan rigged an election which destroyed two cities in the name of a third. The decline of Brooklyn and Long Island City began when the notion of “the City of Greater New York” was concretized by the Tammany men, all nice and legal like.

from “Queens Borough, New York City, 1910-1920: the borough of homes and industry“, courtesy google books

At the election held November 6, 1894, the question of consolidating with the City of New York was voted upon by the residents of Queens County. The majority of votes in favor came from the Long Island City section whose inhabitants, because of their proximity to New York, had been in favor of the project for many years. The western part of the county therefore became part of the City of New York, and is known as Queens Borough; while the eastern part of the county was erected into a separate county, known as Nassau, taking its name from the early name for Long Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is one of my opinions which inspires credulity in folks from the Manhattan establishment, a group which to this day believes that the unsustainable “Shining City” is the rightful top dog of the five boroughs. Largely, this point of view ignores the fact that Manhattan has spent the last 117 years exporting its factories, garbage, and other problems to the so called outer boroughs. The decline of Newtown Creek, for instance, began when Peter Cooper was compelled to remove his glue works from midtown (vicinity of modern day Grammercy Park) to (formerly) greener pastures in Brooklyn.

In 1851, 10% of the wealth of the entire Untied States was found in Brooklyn.

Today- not so much.


John Purroy Mitchel, the Fusion candidate for Mayor, brought a new charge last night against Edward E. McCall. He asserted that Tammany’s nominee for Mayor and the other Tammany members of the Public Service Commission had turned the borough of Queens over to the Consolidated Gas Company and had given that concern a monopoly of not only the gas but the electric light and power business there under franchises which were perpetual in many cases.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting genre of historical speculation is the fictional genre of “alternate history”. “What if Hitler had won ww2” or “what if Hannibal and Carthage had conquered Rome instead of the other way around”.

Imagine if the alpha partner in the consolidation of New York City had been Brooklyn or Long Island City… Would Manhattan have become the home of the Dickensian mills and factories? Would it now be begging for scraps like Brooklyn and Queens? Would its hospitals be underfunded and shuttered as oligarchal Brooklyn real estate powers wiped away ancient Manhattan neighborhoods in the name of progress? Would the site of the Empire State building host a garbage transfer facility? Would Battleax Gleason or John McCooey be remembered as the father of this great metropolitan city, with Boss Tweed and Richard Croker relegated to footnotes?

It is important to ask, when new “development projects” are announced by Tammany’s admiring children – is this good for Brooklyn, Queens, Richmond, or the Bronx- or is this good for Manhattan.

from wikipedia

The earliest example of an alternate history is Book IX, sections 17–19, of Livy’s Ab Urbe condita. Livy contemplated an alternative 4th century BC in which Alexander the Great expanded his empire westward instead of eastward; Livy asked, “What would have been the results for Rome if she had been engaged in war with Alexander?”

Joanot Martorell’s 1490 epic romance Tirant lo Blanc, written when the loss of Constantinople to the Turks was still a recent and traumatic memory to Christian Europe, tells the story of the valiant knight Tirant The White from Brittany who gets to the embattled remnant of the Byzantine Empire, becomes a Megaduke and commander of its armies, and manages to fight off the invading Ottoman armies of Mehmet II, save the city from Islamic conquest, and even chase the Turks deeper into lands they had conquered before.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 6, 2011 at 8:50 am

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