This week in history: Recalling before Stuyvesant Town was built

In the September 23, 1948 issue of Town & Village, Harry Delman, who was the very last person to leave the area that was getting razed to make way for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, along with his wife and 10-year-old son spoke about the day they moved out.

Delman, who owned a shoe store at 233 First Avenue, recalled how in May of 1945, cranes lifted huge planks of wood and pile drivers banged away while he and his family lugged suitcases through a dust cloud as they walked out of 441 East 15th Street, never to return. However, the Delmans ended up moving to Stuyvesant Town, not far from the address they had vacated.

Delman said the ongoing construction noise of ripping and tearing didn’t bother him since most of time he was out during the day. He recalled how his apartment faced the East River, offering a view of ships coming and going up and down the river. “There was no activity on the streets and it was like a country atmosphere,” Delman said.

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This week in history: 70 years ago

The following news stories ran in the May 20, 1948 issue of Town & Village.

14th Street Crosstown service extended following wartime shortage of spare parts

The New York City Omnibus Company announced that it would extend its 14th Street crosstown bus service to go from river to river. Previously, it had been running from the East River to Broadway. If commuters wanted to continue crosstown, they would have to transfer. The vice president of the company, F. Baker, explained the reason for the less lengthy route, saying the problem dated back to the war, when the company couldn’t get enough spare parts to keep its fleet of buses running. They ended up with fewer buses, after resorting to stripping some for spare parts.

New VA hospital

The Veterans Administration announced it had obtained a six-acre plot of land from First Avenue to Avenue A and 23rd to 25th Streets for the construction of a new hospital with an expected price tag of $15 million. The hospital would have 1,000 beds, making it smaller than other local VAs (like Kingsbridge in The Bronx with 1,600 and Halloran in Staten Island with 1,500). The nearby Bellevue Hospital had 3,000 beds.

NY Infirmary stays in the neighborhood

The New York Infirmary ended up forgoing a decision to move from the Stuyvesant Square neighborhood to York Avenue and 62nd Street in order to cooperate fully with the Hospital Council of Greater New York, in its effort to space hospitals where they were most needed throughout the city. Mrs. Frank Vanderlip, board of the infirmary’s trustees, announced instead the new facility would be built at 15th Street and Stuyvesant Square.

“With the sharp increase of other hospital services expected in this part of the East Side, the New York Infirmary may look forward to an expanding future, no longer as a women and children’s hospital but as a community hospital,” said Vanderlip.

Garage rate gripe

Town & Village was hearing from a number of residents complaining about the cost of renting a garage space. One resident fumed that when he was first informed of the garages, he was told they would cost about $10 a month to use. But then then he ended up being charged $20.

While costs of operation and construction had gone up since news of the garages was announced, readers still said they felt $20 a month was a bit too much. Instead, they suggested a slightly lower rate in exchange for a commitment to a longer lease.

Meanwhile, Stuy Town garages still were less expensive than those in the immediate area, which averaged $25 a month without service and $40 with service.

The legacy of Jews in U.S. Armed Forces

By Jerry Alperstein

In 2006 shortly after Representative John Boehner became Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, he met with leaders from the major veterans service organizations. When a leader of the Jewish War Veterans introduced himself, Boehner said that he did not know there was a Jewish War Veterans. Most of the other veterans leaders – as though on cue – said in unison, quote, It’s the oldest veterans organization; unquote.

Boehner’s lack of knowledge of the Jewish War Veterans and of Jews in this country’s armed services was not unexpected. While the participation and importance of Jews in our country’s armed services are well-known and recognized within the veteran community, it is largely unknown and unrecognized within this country’s population at large; including within its Jewish community.

The truth is that Jews have been a part of this land’s military history since 1654, the year after they first arrived in our corner of the New World. When in the New Amsterdam colony, the Jews were charged an additional tax because they were barred from serving in the local militia, four Jews led by Asser Levy successfully appealed to the owner of the colony, the Dutch East India Company. They were allowed to serve, and Jews have been serving and giving their lives to our country ever since.

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This Week in T&V History

By Sabina Mollot

Town & Village newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village since 1947 and this week we took a look back to see what was going on in the community 50 years ago. Here are a few stories from the September 2, 1965 issue.

Plea for air conditioning
Despite being a holiday week, this time 50 years ago was actually a relatively busy one in Stuyvesant Town — not to mention hot. One front page story detailed a local politician’s plea to the owner, Met Life, to install some air conditioning. In a letter to a Met Life Vice President for Housing Raymond Ringler, State Assemblyman Paul J. Curran stated, “I realize that the last poll of Stuyvesant Town residents showed that only a small percentage were willing to pay for the extra installation and maintenance costs for air-conditioning. However, that survey took place many years ago and it would seem that a least a new survey is now warranted.” He added that he thought there must be a way to do this while not raising rents too much higher, like only installing at A.C. in certain buildings as Met had done at another property, Parkfairfax Houses in Virginia.

Congressman: Fill in and build housing on East River
A Brooklyn Congress member, Emmanuel Celler, said he expected Congressional action on a proposal to make a stretch of the East River from 17th to 30th Streets non-navigable in order to permit construction of housing, schools and shops. The housing would be for United Nations and Bellevue Hospital personnel as well as middle income residents, and the school on the site would be the proposed United Nations International School. While that portion of the river wasn’t used for navigation, it had been classified as navigable, Celler explained, which is what was keeping any developer from being able to obtain a title for the area. It would be up to Congress to declare it non-navigable, and up to New York Army engineers (headquartered at East 16th Street) to determine the plan’s feasibility before Congress did so.
William F. R. Ballard, the chairman of the City Planning Commission, said that some preliminary discussions had been held on the use of the proposed filled land and that several sponsors were already interested in developing the area, though it would be “premature” to name them.

Candidate Lindsay at opening of Sloan’s
A front page story covered the ribbon cutting at Sloan’s, a new supermarket at 20th Street and First Avenue. Pictured at a photo at the ceremony were a smiling Vincent Albano, a local GOP leader; Max Sloan, the president of the supermarket; and doing the actual ribbon cutting (the second of the day) was the community’s Congress member and Republican-Liberal candidate for mayor, John Lindsay. Controller Abraham Beame, also the Democratic candidate for mayor, conducted the first ribbon cutting of the day and gave out chocolates and lollipops to kids, which were supplied by the store. Lindsay and Beame missed each other by a few minutes. It was Lindsay, a former Stuy Town resident, who got the star treatment though, posing for pictures next to a display of canned Lindsay brand olives (no relation to the candidate) and signing autographs.

Resident accused of fraud
A Stuyvesant Town attorney was one of six men that had been charged with fraud in a federal case for allegedly using over $6,900,000 belonging to VTR, a tire and soft drinks franchise, for their own benefit. Joseph Saik, of 3 Stuyvesant Oval, an officer and attorney for VTR, was named in the civil action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC accused the men of switching funds without the approval of other directors of VTR, which had offices at 404 Fifth Avenue. The men then were accused of using the funds for various enterprises, including purchases in 1963 of a controlling interest Central National Bank in Jacksonville, Florida.

This week in T&V history: Epiphany gets money to rebuild

The old Epiphany Church goes up in flames.

The old Epiphany Church goes up in flames.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Town & Village Newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for over 65 years. Here is a snapshot of what was happening in the neighborhood 50 years ago this week.

Epiphany gets money to rebuild

This issue of T&V reported that the fundraising campaign to rebuild Epiphany Church had surpassed all expectations, raising $360,000. The church had been almost completely destroyed in a fire a few days before Christmas the previous year. The amount raised almost reached the suggested minimum of $400,000 that the church would need to rebuild and the story noted that the rate of donations indicated that the real need of $900,000 was likely to be pledged by the time the campaign ended in November.

Architectural firm Belfatto and Pavarini designed the new church, which was “strikingly modern.” The estimated cost of the new building was a total of $1.3 million. The insurance from the fire covered $704,450, which left about $600,000 of that sum, but the church had also purchased additional property, adding about $300,000. The rebuilding process started in 1965 and took two years, completing in 1967. It ultimately cost $1.2 million. The rectory on East 21st Street, which was built in 1936, was not burnt down in the fire.

Students aid “needy Southern Negroes”

Local residents and about 20 Stuyvesant High School student volunteers participated in a food drive in front of a supermarket on East 14th Street the previous Saturday, raising food, clothing and money for people in Mississippi and other areas in the South.

The event was the third annual food drive hosted by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was also affiliated with local and national civil rights organizations. At the time, Mississippi law stated that the names of all people who had taken the voter registration test had to be printed in the local paper for two weeks, which subjected black families to retaliatory actions. Many of the children didn’t go to school because they didn’t have clothing to wear and many families were the target for homemade bombs and telephone threats.

The story reported that the kindness of residents exceeded expectations and volunteers found themselves deluged with clothing and food, and monetary donations from the sale of books, buttons and bumper stickers were also overwhelming.

Throwback Thursday: This week in T&V History

Town & Village has been covering news in the Stuyvesant Town area for over 66 years. This week, we took a look back at the coverage in an issue of this newspaper that ran 50 years ago.

Three Stuy Town teens beaten in random attacks

Three 15-year-old residents of Stuyvesant Town were beaten bloody in two random attacks as they walked home from a dance at Town & Village Synagogue. Though the band of 10 attackers also stole a watch from one the boys, they mainly seemed interested in punching and kicking their victims. The “hoodlums” behind the attacks at around 11:45 p.m. on a Saturday were described as being around 18 years old.

In the first incident, the attackers’ method was to split into two groups of five, each jumping on one of two boys walking through the Oval. One of them managed to escape after getting punched just a few times. However, the other teen suffered a severely bruised and swollen face, his scalp lacerated. His mouth cut and his body bruised. When he screamed, lights went on in surrounding apartment windows and residents leaned out their windows to see what was going on.

Unfortunately, according to the boy’s father, Stuy Town guards weren’t as interested as random neighbors. He said when his son told the guard he had been beaten up, the guard turned his back and said, “So what?” The father said he lodged a complaint, and Stuyvesant Town management said it was being investigated.

The second attack occurred moments after the first as the three members of the wolfpack, apparently broken into smaller groups, were leaving Stuyvesant Town. They walked quickly rather than run out to avoid suspicion. That’s when they encountered a 15-year-old who’d just entered the property on Avenue B. When they walked past him, one of them punched him in the face and then continued walking out.

The boy, whose nose spattered blood, also suffered a chipped tooth, and he became dazed. He was taken to Beth Israel by his parents and later released. He also later went to a dentist to have the tooth repaired.

Refrigerator repairman killed in restaurant blast

In other news that week, a refrigerator repairman was instantly killed in an explosion at a restaurant on East 29th Street the previous Wednesday. Michael Cappelli, 44, of Brooklyn, was trying to recharge the refrigerator in the basement of the restaurant, the Weather Vane, with compressed gas.

After the blast, the restaurant’s cook rushed to the basement and found Cappelli lying face up with most of his head severed.

His last rites were given by Father Karney of St. Stephan’s Roman Catholic Church. The Fire Department, the Bomb Squad and the Emergency Service Department all responded to the call.

Compiled by Sabina Mollot

Reaction to spider bite sends Stuy Town man to hospital

Roommates and friends Mohammed Tavakoli (left) and Andrew Garber

Roommates and friends Mohammed Tavakoli (left) and Andrew Garber (Photo courtesy of Mohammed Tavakoli)

By Sabina Mollot

For Mohammed Tavakoli, a Stuyvesant Town resident and law student, last Wednesday evening started out as a typical weeknight. The 24-year-old was at home with his two roommates, who are also his friends and fellow students at New York Law School, and had been watching a movie. At one point, the roommates headed outside for a smoke, Tavakoli joined them and then they went back inside.

About a half hour later, Tavakoli started to break out in hives. At first no one noticed, even him, since it was dark in the room. But then Tavakoli started to feel short of breath, and figured he would just go to bed. His roommate, Andrew Garber, was more concerned, thinking the symptoms pointed to an allergic reaction, and he suggested that Tavakoli go to the hospital. But he refused.

“I hate hospitals,” Tavakoli admitted in an interview with Town & Village this week, “and I’m stubborn. He was persistent, but I didn’t want to do it.”

Instead, Tavakoli figured he would just take some Benadryl. But in just 15 minutes, which is the time it took for Garber to return from the store with the medicine, Tavakoli had taken a turn for the worse. His airway was blocked. Garber “wanted to call me an ambulance, but I didn’t want one,” said Tavakoli, who insisted on walking to the hospital himself. “It’s across the street.”

He quickly changed his mind once they got outside, though, since the men spotted a cab dropping someone off in Stuy Town and hailed it. At this point, “I was about to black out,” said Tavakoli. “I was gasping for air.” The next things that happened were a blur. Within seconds, Garber had asked the driver to pull over.

Then, he warned Tavakoli he’d be feeling a punch and jammed an EpiPen into his friend’s thigh. Garber happened to have the pen because of his own severe allergy to nuts and he suspected Tavakoli might need it, too.

This was fortunate since it likely helped save his friend’s life. Tavakoli recalled that though he started to black out, a few seconds after being shot with the pen, he felt fine again.

Still, a few minutes later he was being admitted to Beth Israel hospital, and this time he didn’t try to refuse medical attention. It was at Beth Israel, where doctors gave Tavakoli anti-venom and kept him at the hospital overnight for observation.

“The doctors said that if I hadn’t received the EpiPen when I did, my life could have been in serious danger,” said Tavakoli.

They also explained to him that he’d gone into anaphylactic shock, which was the result of being bitten four times on the arm by a spider. With the hives that had appeared earlier having gone down, Tavakoli was able to see that the spider’s fangs had left marks that looked like large mosquito bites. No one at the hospital could tell Tavakoli exactly what kind of spider it was, other that it was a big one.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d get bitten by a spider,” said Tavakoli who suspected it happened outside his building. “We’ve ever noticed any spiders inside.”

Not having previous known he was allergic to spider bites, he was naturally grateful for Garber’s knowledge of allergy symptoms and how to treat them in an emergency.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Tavakoli, “but he can never eat a cupcake without fear there could be a trace of nut in it. We ended up joking about it, like, ‘Who knew your allergies would come in handy some day?’”

Though the experience left Tavakoli somewhat shaken up, he said he’s doing fine today. He contacted T&V, he explained, to make sure his friend gets some recognition for his actions.

“So far, the only recognition Andrew has received for his quick thinking is a few pitchers of cheap beer and a Batman cupcake,” said Tavakoli.

Mohammed Tavakoli, Andrew Garber and Danilo Castelli at a recent event at the 69th Regiment Armory that Tavakoli and friends were hosting

Mohammed Tavakoli, Andrew Garber and Danilo Castelli at a recent event at the 69th Regiment Armory that Tavakoli and friends were hosting

But odds are Garber is aware of Tavakoli’s gratitude. The men, along with being roommates, are best friends, despite their religious differences. Tavakoli is Muslim and Garber is Jewish. Additionally, their other roommate, Danilo Castelli, who is also a good friend, is Catholic.

Not shy about poking fun at their different faiths, the invitation on their housewarming party read like the opening line to a joke. “What happens when a Jew, a Muslim and a Catholic get together?”

As for how they deal with the prickly subject of Middle Eastern politics and the current Israeli incursion in Gaza, Tavakoli admitted he and Garber generally just try not to bring it up. Instead, the three roommates often spend their free time cooking dinner in their apartment, listening to oldies in their extensive record collection or playing Area 51, a 90s-era arcade game they also have at home.

“We’re a bunch of grown men, so it’s a little sad, but we shoot aliens together,” said Tavakoli.

Other times, they just make the most of living in Stuy Town.

“There are squirrels and chipmunks,” said Tavakoli. “We have friends who are a few apartments over so we have each other over. We really love it.”

Tavakoli, a native of Toronto, Canada, met Castelli, 25, and Garber, 24, at New York Law. The third year students moved to the community two months ago, after previously living in a dorm and now live in a converted three-bedroom apartment.

This week in history: Bellevue South redevelopment

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Town & Village newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for over 65 years and we’ve decided to start taking a look back to see what was going on in the community 50 years ago. Here are a couple of snapshots from the August 27, 1964 issue of Town & Village.

Bellevue South Redevelopment

Phipps Plaza, known as Kips Bay Court, between First and Second Avenues at East 26th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Phipps Plaza, known as Kips Bay Court, between First and Second Avenues at East 26th Street (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

A handful of articles in this 1964 issue of Town & Village dealt with the city’s proposal for what was known then as the Bellevue South neighborhood, located between First and Second Avenues from East 23rd Street to East 30th Street. The urban redevelopment plan called for essentially bulldozing the entire seven-block area and rebuild to include more affordable housing. The project envisioned 17 residential buildings from six to 32 stories tall, containing 2,260 lower to middle-income apartments.

Residents of the neighborhood had recently drafted their own alternative plan in an attempt to fight the plan proposed by the city. The group presented themselves as the Bellevue South Planners Group and presented their proposal for the Board of Estimate. Their plan included the development of buildings which, by their description, sound similar to what Waterside Plaza became: low and middle-income housing surrounding a central park area and use of air rights above the FDR.

The plan was in contrast to that of the city’s, which they said would “plow through” 23rd to 30th Street, “uprooting thousands of tenants, destroying hundreds of businesses and ending employment for more than a thousand workers.”

Another story in this issue of T&V noted that residents had debated the merits of the city’s redevelopment plan at a public hearing the previous Thursday. Opponents of the plan insisted that the area wasn’t a slum and wanted to encourage the developers to consider making improvements on the existing buildings rather than razing the whole area. They also felt that the proper plans weren’t in place to relocate the residents and businesses that would be displaced.

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This week in T&V history: T&V publisher gets death threat

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Town & Village newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for over 65 years and we’ve decided to start taking a look back to see what was going on in the community 50 years ago. Here are a couple of snapshots from the August 13, 1964 issue of Town & Village.

T&V publisher threatened

Note left after Town & Village’s office was broken into

Note left after Town & Village’s office was broken into

This week’s edition of Town & Village from 50 years ago featured a story about a pair of “hoodlums” who wreaked havoc on the T&V offices, leaving behind a death threat for editor and publisher Charles G. Hagedorn. Although the letter said, “You’re gonna die, CJH!” and had the incorrect middle initial, detectives thought that it was intended for Hagedorn.
T&V reporter Arnold Reisman caught the thieves in the act on the previous Sunday when he entered the paper’s closed offices at 614 East 14th Street to return a camera. Although Reisman spotted one of them in the office, he was able to escape with the help of his accomplice, who was parked outside the office and who sped off when the teen ran into the car.
The office was reportedly left in shambles, with an ashtray’s contents spilled over the desk and the wire of the public address system cut. The only thing of value that was taken was a typewriter, but as evidenced by the fact that he left a handwritten note, he may not have known how to use it.
The threat was not attributed to any particular story or issue, but Hagedorn didn’t seem worried.
“A newspaper knows it’s doing a good job when it gets sued every now and then and the editor receives periodic threats,” he said. “But I wish my enemies were a bit more literate and could at least spell my initials right.”

Stuy Town cop exonerated
A short blurb mentioned that the lieutenant who shot a black teenager the previous month was to be exonerated by a grand jury investigating the killing. Lieutenant Thomas Gilligan maintained that he had acted in self defense and that the boy “seemed to be the size of a giant” as he lunged at him.
At the time, the medical examiner had reported that the boy was 5’6” and 122 pounds, whereas Lieutenant Gilligan was 6 feet tall.

This week in history: Off-duty cop kills teen on Upper East Side

Front page of the July 23, 1964 issue of T&V

Front page of the July 23, 1964 issue of T&V

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Town & Village newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for over 65 years and we’ve decided to start taking a look back to see what was going on in the community 50 years ago. Here is a snapshot from the July 23, 1964 issue of Town & Village.

The headline story in this 1964 issue of T&V was about a Stuyvesant Town resident and police officer who shot and killed a “negro” teen on East 76th Street the previous Thursday, inciting riots in Harlem throughout the week following.

The shooting sparked what is known as the Harlem Riot of 1964. Right after the boy was killed, a small group of students began rioting around the area of the shooting and had to be contained by police. On the same day as his funeral, what started as a peaceful rally on the rising crime rate in Harlem turned into a violent mob that required hundreds of officers at Seventh Avenue and West 125th Street. In total, the incident set off six consecutive nights of rioting throughout Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant and is considered the precipitating event for riots later in the summer in cities like Philadelphia, Rochester and Chicago.

Town & Village reported that the victim, 15-year-old James Powell, had attacked the officer, Stuyvesant Town Oval resident Lieutenant Thomas Gilligan, with a switchblade. According to the lieutenant’s version of events, he shot the boy once and when the teen kept advancing, Gilligan shot him a second time, ending his life. T&V withheld the officer’s exact address to prevent possible retaliation or mob violence.

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Throwback Thursday: This week in T&V history

1964 Little League champs

1964 Little League champs

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Town & Village newspaper has been providing news for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for over 65 years and we’ve decided to start taking a look back to see what was going on in the community 50 years ago. Here are a couple of snapshots from the June 18, 1964 issue of Town & Village.

Met Life’s battle over pet dog
Dogs weren’t allowed in the complex in 1964 and as a result, a Stuyvesant Town family found themselves in a court battle with property owner Metropolitan Life over their pooch. A cover story in the June 18 issue said that the dog was a 15-pound French poodle and had been living at 16 Stuyvesant Oval with the family for the past eight months. The story noted that it wasn’t Met Life’s intention to evict the tenants but to evict the dog, and it went on to say that the pooch’s owner, a lawyer by the name of Murray Leonard, intended to represent her in court.

The owner based his case on recent court decisions that held in similar circumstances that residents could house a dog if it could be proven that the canine was not a nuisance to others. The Leonards had been living in Stuyvesant Town since 1948 and Leonard’s wife said that the dog was a gift and it was not their intention to purposely violate their lease.

Alleged Nazi found guilty of rioting
A police blotter item in this 1964 issue of the paper noted that a Peter Cooper Village resident was found guilty of inciting a riot in connection with a civil rights demonstration the previous July. The story said that PCV resident Anthony Wells, 23, who was an alleged member of the neo-Nazi National Resistance Party, was one of eight men accused of seeking to incite violence against black people who were demonstrating at a White Castle diner in the Bronx. Police found a cross-bow, guns and knives in the alleged Nazi’s station wagon.

PSLL team champs
Members of the Peter Cooper-Stuyvesant Little League team, the First Federal Savings & Loan Indians, gathered at home plate after beating the Village & Towne Sweet Shoppe Cubs and being named the World Series champions in a close game the previous Saturday.