1868 ORDER OF ELKS FORMED: The national fraternal society, The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, was born in New York City. The order began as a group of professional and semi-professional entertainers that met on Sundays for some pints of beer and good cheer. They were called the Jolly Corks after a game created by founder English comic Charles Vivian, which involved competing to pick up corks on the floor the quickest. In 1868, the majority of the group decided to become a benevolent fraternal organization that would serve the community and uphold values such as charity and justice. Vivian and a few like-minded individuals, however, wanted to remain a convivial society of merrymakers and broke with the newly formed Order of Elks. The order currently has 2,100 local lodges nationwide.
1909 TARIFF ON WALKING CANES AND PARASOLS: Perhaps not the most memorable or groundbreaking piece of history, opposition to a tariff on sticks and handles for walking canes, parasols, and umbrellas submitted to the Committee on Ways and Means Feb. 16, 1909, nevertheless paints a picture of a different time in New York City. One can imagine a street lined with gentlemen swinging walking canes and ladies eyeing them coyly from beneath lacy parasols. Men in waistcoats with neatly waxed mustaches stand before the committee to demand a reduction in the new tariff on a booming business.
1948 DAWN OF WEEKDAY NEWS BROADCAST: The first-ever daily newsreel was broadcast from the NBC studio, produced by Fox Movietone. The American and international tradition of the nightly news began with the “Camel Newsreel Theatre,” hosted by John Cameron Swayze. Swayze began with voiceovers, but soon mastered the art of televised newscasting. One of the first newscasters, he had a talent for memorizing script in the days before teleprompters and grasped the need to maintain eye contact with the camera. He ended every program with the famous lines: “Well, that’s the story, folks. Glad we could get together.”
1965 PLOT TO BOMB STATUE OF LIBERTY THWARTED: Leader of the Black Liberation Front, Robert Collier, got together with a French Canadian separatist, Michelle Duclas, in a plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty with dynamite. Collier had the plan, Duclas provided the explosives.
“The plotters were seeking to create a spectacular sort of disturbance that would dramatize the troubles of U.S. Negroes,” explains a 1965 Time Magazine article .
Although Duclas had connections to New York City, it is not clear why the Black Liberation Front turned to the Canadian extremist group for their explosives. Time Magazine speculated:
“The New Yorkers almost certainly could have purchased or stolen their dynamite closer to home, but getting it from Quebec terrorists added to the internationalism of it all.”
Collier and Duclas were arrested on Feb. 16 through a combined effort of the NYPD, the FBI, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. A rookie, undercover NYPD officer was the key player in bringing down the conspirators.