Monday, July 2, 2012

A Big Week in New York History

This week is a big one in New York history. Back in 1916, Wall Street lost its Witch, Hetty Green, on July 3. Green was the first female tycoon in the US and was known around town as the “Witch of Wall Street.” An heiress to a multi-million dollar fortune, she was infamous for her stinginess and was rumored to go so far as to never use hot water and to ask her laundress to only wash the dirtiest parts of her dresses to save on soap.

On Wednesday, we celebrate the Fourth of July in honor of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and our official separation from Great Britain on July 4, 1776. If you’re in the city, pay tribute to our country on a 90-minute tour of historic Wall Street and Ground Zero, or a 2-hour tour of Wall Street and the 9/11 Memorial. Afterwards, make your way to the West Side to stake out your claim to watch the stupendous fireworks display along the Hudson from 16th Street all the way up to midtown. 

July 7, New York celebrates the 249th birthday of its first multi-millionaire, one-time opium smuggler, John Jacob Astor. Born in Waldorf, Germany, Astor migrated to the US after the Revolutionary War. Arriving at age 21, with no money to speak of, he soon made a fortune in the fur trade. By the time of his death in 1848, John Jacob Astor was the richest man in the country.

Two noteworthy New York events happened on July 8th. The first is another birthday – John D. Rockefeller was born in 1839. He is the senior of the Rockefeller dynasty and is one of New York’s most acclaimed philanthropists. With only $2000, Rockefeller formed his first partnership in 1859, and just four years later they were running their own oil refinery. In 1870, when Rockefeller organized The Standard Oil Company at the age of 31, the business had a capital of $1 million.

Also on July 8, we commemorate the first edition of the Wall Street Journal. Volume 1, Number 1 was published in 1889 and the price was two cents. Today it is #1 most-read newspapers, with a daily circulation of over 2,000,000 copies worldwide. Though it’s named after the street in New York’s financial district, the WSJ headquarters are now located on Sixth Avenue near Rockefeller Center.