Brooklyn Boro

December 19: ON THIS DAY in 1903, NYC celebrates Williamsburg Bridge opening

December 19, 2018 Brooklyn Daily Eagle

ON THIS DAY IN 1903, the Eagle reported, “Standing almost beneath the shadow of the great steel tower which supports the cables at the Brooklyn end of the largest suspension bridge on earth, Mayor Seth Low, addressing a throng of thousands of eager listeners, shortly before 3 o’clock this afternoon, pronounced the momentous words: ‘Mr. Commissioner, I accept the Williamsburg Bridge from your hands and I now pronounce it to be open from his day forward to the public use.’ Instantly upon the mayor’s proclamation there went up against the lowering sky such a shout of joyous applause as threatened to rend the leaden clouds asunder. The cheers of those within the mayor’s voice were taken up by those farther away and still farther, the applause swelling in volume as it was taken up by successive cohorts and rolling in both directions along the main thoroughfare of the Eastern District like the breaking of a huge ocean wave along a rocky shore, ever increasing in depth and volume until it lost all semblance to the human voice and became an inarticulate roar as of an earthquake.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1860, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, “The Central Park pond was thrown open to skaters this morning, and large numbers availed themselves of the opportunity of indulging in the vigorous and healthful exercise of flitting over the ice. The cars uptown were filled with skaters, many being from Brooklyn.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1918, the Eagle reported, “The buying of foodstuffs, trees and decorations for the holiday was in full swing this morning at Wallabout Market. In all probability the prices, which have been unaffected by the increased demand, except for an advance the latter part of last week for products universally in demand at this time – cranberries, celery, potatoes, lettuce, etc. – will remain unchanged through the Christmas trading period. Poultry, however, and particularly turkeys, may go higher. Few turkeys of quality have arrived, according to the poulterers, who express doubts that there will be enough of the good birds to go around. The bulk of the stock now available is out of condition, they say. Roasting chickens, fowl and roosters are a little cheaper than at Thanksgiving time, but a shortage of fancy turkeys would send them up. Buyers are literally fighting for the few remaining Christmas trees, which the dealers have boosted to $3a$4 per bunch. Six small trees comprise a bunch, while a large tree is also called a bunch. The pines which sold today at $3a$4 were $2.25a$3 the forepart of the week.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1929, the Eagle reported, “A highly appreciative audience at the Brooklyn Museum laughed and cried yesterday afternoon at the dramatized version of the popular Christmas story, ‘Why the Chimes Rang,’ presented by young members of the museum’s regular Saturday morning Story Hour class. This audience was composed exclusively of crippled children of Brooklyn and Queens who visit the museum twice annually for tours and special entertainment. Mrs. Elizabeth Mildren, docent of the museum, invited the youngsters and saw to it that the Christmas tree was put in the Sculpture Court where the play was given rather than in the rotunda where it is customarily placed. The plot of the play deals with a mystical chime which only rings on Christmas Eve and only then when a gift is unselfishly placed on the altar of the cathedral in whose tower the chimes were hidden. Costly gifts and even the king’s crown fail to ring one note on the chimes and it is only when a small boy places a coin, representing a true sacrifice, that the bells peal out.”

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ON THIS DAY IN 1953, the Eagle reported, “The ‘Gift of Life’ holiday season blood donor campaign jointly sponsored by the Red Cross and the Brooklyn Eagle for the third year continues its appeal for recruits as the climax of the festive Christmas period approaches. The Eagle and television station WATV are making daily appeals urging Brooklynites to telephone Brooklyn Red Cross, MAin 4-6001, for donor appointments.”