Monthly Archives: September 2014

September 23, 1780: the Capture of Major John André

Capture of Andre By John Paulding David Williams and Isaac Van Wart at Tarrytown NY Currier & Ives c1876 (Small)It was in September that Major John André, the British soldier, was captured.

He had come up the Hudson from New York City to meet with Major General Benedict Arnold, who was in command of West Point. Arnold, frustrated that he was under-appreciated and passed over for promotion, decided to betray the colonials and join the British. The plans to West Point were supposed to seal the deal, only André was caught, put on trial, and hung. And he was captured in Tarrytown not far from where Warner Library and the monument to his three Revolutionary war captors stand. (The stream flowing through Patriot’s Park between Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow is named André Brook.)

André was told three things: first, do not travel by the main roads; second, stay in uniform; and third, do not to miss the boat from the British frigate that had sailed up the Hudson to deliver him near West Point to meet Arnold. André did not follow any of the advice, and then was surprised to find himself arrested as a spy. Though he had requested a gentleman’s death (firing squad), he was hung. The rules of war were quite clear. Had André been arrested in uniform and been convicted as a spy, he would have been shot.

André's self-portrait (from Wikipedia)

André’s self-portrait (from Wikipedia)

It has been said that André’s execution was a payback for the British execution of Nathan Hale, whom the British executed for being a spy on September 22, 1776 in New York City nearly four years to the day of André’s death.

To celebrate the anniversary, the Historical Society had two events: Cookies with André and Wine with André. A local actor played John André at both events. The cookies event was for children, but the audience was mostly adults (five children out of 25), which included myself. Everyone enjoyed the performance, including the children. It is hoped that, with some fine-tuning, that the act can be taken to schools to educate the young on American history.

I also heard that the wine event was well-attended.

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Filed under History, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown

Attack on Wall Street: September 16, 1920

wall_street_bombingDid you know that, nearly 100 years ago, Wall Street, near the Stock Exchange, was bombed and the perpetrator was ever caught?

Back in August while Caroline and I walked towards Federal Hall and before we headed to Trinity Church, she told me the story. This came up because 23 Wall Street, the building running along the thoroughfare, was owned by J.P. Morgan and he refused to fix the damage done to the side of the building. The damage is still visible, as my photos attest.

A bomb was set off just a few feet down from Federal Hall, at 12:01 pm, right at the start of lunchtime, and the blast killed 30 people instantly; 8 more died in the aftermath, and hundreds were maimed, some permanently. Evidence found at the scene implemented anarchists in the bombing. Because it was imperative that the Stock Exchange reopen the next day, the street was cleaned up overnight, thus inhibiting the investigation. (The police did not have enough time to Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.08.15 AMperform it.) This, perhaps more than any other reason, is why the crime was never solved.

This attack was probably linked to the Sacco and Vanzetti trial, which ended days before. Sacco and Vanzetti, the two Italian anarchists arrested for the robbery of a bank and the killing of a guard, were found guilty in a trial that is still studied by history and law students as an example of how prosecutor prejudice and judicial bigotry can completely bias a jury and undermine due process. I studied the case as an undergraduate and examined some of the trial transcript. Both men were executed.

Wikipedia, from which I took two of the photographs, has an interesting entry on the attack. The entry mentions a Mario Buda as the probable terrorist, since he had the technical skills in making bombs and was in New York City at the time. Shortly thereafter, he left the United States and returned home, never to set foot in the United States again. Unfortunately, there is no Wikipedia entry for Buda. (The link brings you back to the Wall Street bombing article.) The article also states that Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.08.31 AMBuda knew Sacco and Vanzetti.

I don’t know much about the Galleanists (the anarchists who were active in the U.S. in the early 1900s and liked to blow up things), except for what I learned in studying the Sacco and Vanzetti trial. Apparently J.P. Morgan, who owned 23 Wall Street, was so angry over the attack that he refused to fix the damage done by the blast, so that’s all that’s left to show that there actually was an explosion. The very next day, after the Stock Market had reopened, there was a huge rally in support of Wall Street.

The attack on Wall Street in 1920 and the World Trade Center attack in 2001 were directed against the U.S. financial system as well as capitalism. Sadly, both attacks cost innocent lives.


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Filed under History, New York City

Drought Update

The downpour that we got earlier in the week seemed to help the Pocantico. The Philipsburg Manor millpond might have more water in it, but parts of the exposed bottom are still visible or just covered with a little water.

These photographs were taken before the rain and from the Philipsburg Manor parking lot area. Here the drought’s affects can be best seen.


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Filed under Nature, Sleepy Hollow


(2014-09-03 001)Over the months, I’ve been monitoring the levels of water in the Philipsburg Manor millpond. The channel from the the Pocantico River that runs under the Route 9/Washington Irving Memorial Bridge/Headless Horseman Bridge and into the millpond  is drying up. I walk over this bridge nearly every day. Once I saw a duck mooning the world as he/she fed on the bottom. (I wish I had a pic of that.)

Within the last two weeks, I’ve noticed that the water level has dropped very low. The channel under Route 9 is now about a fourth of the size of the channel, which is usually filled with water.

Are we in a drought? It seems like it. On Friday, when I walked back from the Philipse Manor and, since I had more time to spend, walked around to the parking lot and took some other pictures. You can see that the millpond is, indeed, drying up.

I haven’t walked along the Pocantico River banks up past the Old Dutch Church Burial Ground and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in months. It’s time for another visit.


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Art or Not? You Decide

In the courtyard of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where people can eat their cafe meals under the sun, is an installation of art. I took some quick pictures.

Anna Tarantino’s Growth Chart is lazer-cut vinyl on existing glass windows. These windows are the skylights that light up the cafe and children’s garden below.

Art or not?

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Filed under Art, New York City