April 12, 2017

50th Anniversary of THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of two events over three days in 1967 that shook up Tudor City. Locals ironically dubbed it That Was the Week That Was, after the satiric TV show hosted by David Frost that lampooned current events.

Tudor City's week that was begins 50 years ago, on Tuesday, April 12th, 1967, at 9:20 AM.
42nd Street, Hotel Tudor in background
The morning rush has just abated. A bus and a taxi are stopped in the westbound lane of 42nd Street, waiting for the traffic light to change. Opposite them, construction on the rising Ford Foundation continues, complete with a construction crane on the roof. 

Suddenly, the crane buckles and a ten-ton, 210-foot boom hurtles down on 42nd Street, slashing the roof of the bus and shattering the rear window of the cab. By some miracle, no one is seriously injured, although five people suffer minor cuts and bruises.
Looking east down 42nd Street, Woodstock top right.
The incident rattles Tudor City, and is the talk of the neighborhood until another jarring event occurs three days later.
First Avenue, looking south, with the U.N., Con Ed smokestacks and Tudor City in the background.
On Friday, April 15, 1967, 100,000 people turn up at Tudor City's doorstep for the largest demonstration against the Vietnam war to date in New York City.

It's a classic '60s protest march. An American flag and countless draft cards are burned. Crowds chant "Flower Power" and "Hell No, We Won't Go." The march winds from Central Park to the United Nations, and is led by notables like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, pediatrician Benjamin Spock, activist Stokely Carmichael and singers Harry Belafonte and Pete Seeger. It is not an entirely peaceful event. While some spectators cheer the marchers, counter-demonstrators hurl eggs and shout insults. 

The rally is held on First Avenue, between 42nd and 47th Streets, with overflow crowds spilling in the side streets. A small knot of demonstrators march and chant along Tudor City Place, upsetting older residents. Then, there's trouble beneath the Tudor City Bridge. As reported in the New York Times,
A minor scuffle between the police and the peace marchers broke out at 3 PM on the south side of 42nd Street just west of First Avenue when some marchers tried to turn north.
Patrolmen on foot moved into the crowd, trying to push them into line. Other policemen on horseback charged into the throng and helped turn the marchers back. Nearby, counter-demonstrators screamed "Kill them, kill them."
Martin Luther King gives the main address, calling the war "illegal and unjust." There are many other speakers. Belafonte and Seeger perform. The event ends rather abruptly at 5 PM, when a sudden downpour sends 100,000 people scurrying for cover.
Dr. King addressing the crowd.

50 years later, the Vietnam War has long ended, but the Ford Foundation is again under construction, being renovated. There was a crane sighting several weeks ago, but at the moment, no cranes are in sight.

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