Monday, September 24, 2012

History of the Rockefeller Center

Originally, Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan was destined to be the new performance space for the Metropolitan Opera. However, delays from the Metropolitan Opera and the 1929 stock market crash spurred John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to take matters into his own hands. Which is something he was pretty good at.

“It was clear that there were only two courses open to me. One was to abandon the entire development. The other to go forward with it in the definite knowledge that I myself would have to build it and finance it alone.”

Rockefeller chose the second option and thus took on the largest private building project ever, at an estimate of $250 million dollars – and that’s in 1930’s money. The construction created over 70,000 jobs and Rockefeller was an integral employer during the depression. In fact, the famous photo “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper” of construction workers eating on a steel girder high above the city is from that jobsite.

The entire Rockefeller Center originally consisted of 14 buildings and currently houses some of New York City’s most notable tenants including the Today Show, Saturday Night Live, Prometheus overlooking the ice skating rink and of course, the world famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Rockefeller Center was named a national landmark on September 26, 1987.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Occupy Wall Street - Too Preoccupied for Their Own Good?

They call themselves the 99%. Their cry is for the Everyman - the hard working American making up the the backbone of our middle class- the paradigm of our collective standards. They admonish big business and whip us into a frenzy with horror stories of greed, corruption, and apathy. They laud those who stand up against the status quo and aren't afraid to brazenly follow their own ideals.

This September commemorates the one year anniversary of the original OWS movement and hundreds of protesters once again descended upon lower Manhattan. Their signage boldly proclaimed messages of revolt and hope and they spoke passionately of changing the world. They crowded the city streets, crammed into parks, and held rallies in the shadows of iconic New York store fronts.

But for all of the outward display of enthusiasm, perhaps there was one simple quandary in omission. What if one was to turn his / her attention momentarily from the showy spectacle and peer into one of those shop windows? Would they see the face of an emboldened patriot ready to join in the fray and spearhead the next charge?

Perhaps not. More likely one would find a frustrated small business owner who is withering slowly and painfully in the choke-hold of the very movement that claimed to be his champion. While the movement speaks of Wall Street fat cats lounging in ergonomic thrones high above the city streets impervious to the throngs below, the hardworking small business owners of New York are instead met with the backs of disgruntled masses that are literally creating human barricades between them and their livelihood. No right-minded New Yorker is going to fight through an angry mob to make a purchase and with tales of police activity and random acts of violence, not to mention the added sidewalk congestion, non-participators are most likely to avoid the area in question altogether. Thus a huge wedge is driven between the entrepreneur and his potential clientele. During the original OWS movement, countless small businesses were negatively effected, and this time around seems no different.

How ironic that a grass-fed movement hell-bent on the promotion and betterment of a dwindling middle class is simultaneously stabbing the wound it is trying to suture. Rather than indulging in a inharmonious cacophony of platforms and agendas, would it not be more effective and idealistic to actually promote small businesses and the hard-working citizens behind them? Why not be proactive rather than loitering on the streets? As the old adage goes "actions speak louder than words," and if OWS wants America to listen, they better start DOING something.
Wall Street Walks is an independently run small business built on the dreams and passions of one woman who abandoned a lucrative career in finance to build a fulfilling, meaningful business. What could be more American than that? However, instead of being applauded and supported, tours were forced to be canceled due to OWS-related crowd control thus putting everything she has worked for in jeopardy.
To truly overtake the 1% and reclaim our country back from large corporations, perhaps the best ammunition is an appreciated, supported middle class. And who better to exemplify that valued Everyman than a small business owner?

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Panic of 1873

A year ago this week, Occupy Wall Street began as a relatively small protest in a park in New York City’s Wall St. Area. It is now an international movement that stands against financial greed and the “corrosive power” of major banks they feel led to our recent economic collapse.

A place not unaccustomed to financial panic and discord, Wall Street was also one of the earliest areas hit in the beginning of the original Great Depression in 1873. That year, the New York Stock Exchange was forced to close its doors for the very first time on September 20 during what was known as the Panic of 1873.

Much like our most recent economic disaster, the Panic of 1873 was sparked by the collapse of a large financial institution: Jay Cooke & Company, a brokerage firm and a major investor in railroad construction. Their failure led to a chain reaction and the country suffered economic despair for years, resulting in history’s worst financial crisis until the second Great Depression came along in the 1930’s.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Remembering September 11, 2001

The night before, Michael Jackson performed his 30th Anniversary Special at Madison Square Garden and Yankees fans were disappointed when the game with their biggest rivalry, the Boston Red Sox, was rescheduled due to rain. The next morning, of course, was gorgeous.

That day, September 11, 2001, people all over New York City made their way to work humming Billie Jean and crossing their fingers against another rainout in the last moments of “life before.” Then, between 8:46 and 10:03 AM EST, four planes crashed into our beloved Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, over 2,500 lives were lost and countless others were irrevocably changed in the worst terrorist attack in United States history.

Eleven years later, the construction is humming on the site of the new World Trade Center and the Freedom Tower is standing tall over the Wall Street area as it nears completion. Life in NYC is back to normal … but it’s a new normal for those of us who remember the days after, when the streets were quiet and we all took a little extra time to check in with everyone we passed.

Our new normal is one in which we love our city more than ever and take tremendous pride in honoring New York’s rich history, and her future, with people from all over the world. Join us for a Wall Street Walks tour and let us share a little bit of our New York City with you. Click here to learn more:

Monday, September 3, 2012

New York City History

Settled in 1625, as New Amsterdam, New York City’s history is some of the richest and most vibrant in the entire United States. The actual birthplace of the American government, New York has seen an incredible amount of US, and worldwide firsts, two of which were recorded exactly 130 years ago this week.

On Monday, September 4, 1882, Thomas Edison switched on his large generator plant in downtown Manhattan and at 3 PM that afternoon, Pearl Street was lit with electricity for the first time ever.

The next morning, September 5, 10,000 workers joined together to march through New York City in the very first Labor Day Parade. The procession featured banners including: “To the Workers Should Belong the Wealth” and “Children in School, Not in Factories.”

Come join us for a Wall Street Walks tour and learn even more about the vibrant history of New York City. Our new fall schedule features tours at 11:00 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM on Fridays. Click here to get your tickets now: