Tag Archives: Sports History

Addisleigh Park: Jazz Greats, Sports Stars & Politicians

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On Tuesday, March 2, 2010 (from 6:30-8:30pm) the New York City Historic Districts Council will offer a cultural resource survey presentation on Addisleigh Park, a little-known but culturally significant neighborhood in Southeast Queens. The event will be held at the Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street, Manhattan.

In 2007 HDC began an effort to document Addisleigh Park, home to numerous major African-Americans figures such as James Brown, Roy Campanella, W.E.B. DuBois, Count Basie, Lena Horne, Jackie Robinson and Ella Fitzgerald (to name just a few). Once completed, they submitted all the material to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, who recently calendared a historic district, partially in response to our work. This free program will allow participants a firsthand look at the research and learn more about this neighborhood and its storied past.

The event is free to the public. Reservations are required, as space is limited. For more information, please contact Kristen Morith at (212) 614-9107 or kmorith@hdc.org.

Olympic Bobsled Track Named to National Register

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The National Register of Historic Places has listed the 1932 and 1980 Olympic bobsled track, located on Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid, N.Y., on its national registry for historic places.

Clearing for the original one and a half, 26-curve course began in August 1930 and the track, specifically built for the 1932 winter games, was open to the public just 148 days later, Christmas Day 1930. More than 27,000 cubic yards of earth and stone were used for the straight-aways and curves, while 8,000 feet of pipe, laid four feet underground, was buried to carry the water used to spray the ice from a pond near the base to the top. A gasoline engine and pump forced the water to the top of the run, where a large storage tank guaranteed a continuous supply of water.

The United States’ bobsled team was right at home on the first track ever built in North America and the first-ever one and a half mile course used in Olympic competition. The team won two gold medals, one silver and one bronze. Billy Fiske, who four years earlier at the age of 16 became the youngest-ever Olympic gold medalist, claimed the four-man crown, while fellow American Henry Homburger of Saranac Lake, N.Y., claimed silver. Two brothers from Lake Placid, Curtis and Hubert Stevens, won the two-man race, while their teammates, John Heaton and Robert Minton, took bronze. That event also marked the first-ever two-man race in Olympic history and the first time athletes pushed their sleds at the start.

In 1934 the International Bobsled Federation (FIBT) established a one-mile standard for all tracks. To accommodate the change, the top one-half mile was shut down above the Whiteface curve and the number of curves was reduced from 26 to 16, making the upper portion of the run unusable.

Fifteen years later, the 1,537-meter long course became the first track outside of Europe to host a world championship competition and it was then that Belgian bobsledder Max Houben was killed during a practice run when sliding through the “Shady” curve, prior to the race. Today, the four-man world championship trophy is named in Houben’s honor.

As sled technology improved and speeds grew, changes were made to the course and it took 12 more years before world championship racing returned, in 1961. Throughout the decade of the 1960’s tracks throughout the world continued to try to keep up with sled technology as the request for speed knew no limits. From time to time crashes and tragedy would strike those tracks … even Lake Placid. In 1966, Canadian pilot Sergio Zardini (1964 Olympic silver medalist for Italy) was killed when his four-man sled crashed on turns 13 and 14, better known as the “Zig-Zag Curves.”

With the improvements made and with the blessing of the FIBT, the course hosted Worlds three more times, 1969, 1973 and 1978. Other sports including luge and skeleton also began using the course before it was demolished and re-built in 1979, in time for the 1980 Olympic bobsled competition.

The re-construction included installing refrigeration piping and the building of a refrigeration plant at the base of the run, operated by electricity, with a stand-by generator for emergencies. Following the 1980 games, the track hosted the 1983 world championships before the current combined bobsled/luge/skeleton track was built in 2000.

Today, the track no longer hosts international competitions, but it remains in use. Summer bobsled rides are held on the course, where visitors can enjoy half-mile rides, while reaching speeds in excess of 50-miles-per-hour, while professional drivers steer their sleds through “Shady” and “Zig-Zag.”

Kathleen LaFrank of New York State Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation helped to direct the research. She gathered much of the data and pictures required for the nomination of New York’s historical sites and the additional honor of being named to the National Registry as well.

“The bobsled run is internationally recognized for its association with the 1932 games and the rise of the sport in the United States,” stated Olympic Sports Complex general manager Tony Carlino. “Athletes and visitors from all over the world know of this track, and there are very few worldwide that carry this kind of history. The creation of this track helped to make Lake Placid famous as a winter sports capital.”

Photo: Construction workers lay rocks as they build the Mt. Van Hoevenberg bobsled track, in 1930 in anticipation of the 1932 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. (Photo Courtesy of ORDA)

Atlatl Contest Highlights Chimney and Crown Points’ Festival Of Nations

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Vermont’s and New York’s annual shared celebration of Lake Champlain, The Festival of Nations, hosted by the Chimney Point and Crown Point, N.Y., State Historic Sites will be held Sept. 18-20 and will feature a wide variety of events, including the 14th Annual Northeastern Open Atlatl Championship at Chimney Point.

The event honors the Native American, French, and early American history of the region and includes music; food vendors; Native American and primitive life and craft demonstrations; exhibits; showings of the award-winning documentary film Champlain: The Lake Between; a colonial French encampment with re-enactors; tours of Crown Point’s historic forts; historic, cultural, educational, nature, and family activities; a ceremony re-dedicating the Champlain Memorial lighthouse; and fireworks on Saturday night. The nearby DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) State Park will offer camping on a first-come, first-served basis.

The atlatl, a shaped wooden stick, acts as an extension of the throwing arm, so hunters can throw long, flexible darts with greater accuracy, energy, and speed. The atlatl was one of the earliest prehistoric weapons, pre-dating the bow and arrow, and was used by many cultures, including Native Americans.

On Friday, there will be a workshop held at Chimney Point at which participants can learn modern and ancient atlatl construction as they build their own dart-thrower and projectiles and learn how to use them. The fee of $65 includes instruction by champion atlatlist Robert Berg and all materials. Pre-registration is required.

On Saturday competitors of all ages test their prowess in using the atlatl to “hunt” wooly mammoth, bison, and other game targets; shoot at modern day bulls-eyes (International Standards Accuracy), and compete in a distance challenge.

The winners in each category compete in a shoot-out at the end of the event for the title of Grand Champion. At 5:30 p.m. and leading up to the start of the fireworks, enjoy lively music from Atlantic Crossing, well-known for their vast repertoire of music highlighting and honoring the history of the region. The Seth Warner Mount Independence Fife and Drum Corps will also perform.

On Sunday morning, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. one lane of the Lake Champlain Bridge between Addison and Crown Point, N.Y. will be open for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The Sky Blue Boys, Banjo Dan and Willy Lindner, will be performing their lively music near the Vermont end of the bridge from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

On Sunday morning there will be another International Standards Accuracy competition at 10:00 a.m., followed by master coaching for youth and the young at heart, as well as conversations with Samuel de Champlain and wood carving demonstrations.

Saturday’s and Sunday’s contests are $5 and $3 respectively to enter. Admission to the site on each day is free.

Photo: John Morris using an atlatl. Morris, along with Greg Maurer, will be offering master coaching on Sunday, as well as competing on Saturday. Courtesy Vermont Division for Historic Preservation

Lake Placid Sliding Sports Museum Proposed

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At the 1932 & 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum Board of Directors’ April meeting, newest member Joe Clain donated $1,000 to kick-off the creation of an International Sliding Sports Museum in Lake Placid. Clain made the donation on behalf of his father Gus Clain and the Linney Family in the hopes that other prominent families in the history of sliding sports will come forward and meet the challenge.

Angus (Gus) Clain was the brakeman for the four-man sled piloted by Robert Linney, which qualified at the 1939 trials in Lake Placid for the 1940 Olympic Winter Games. Because of WWII, the Games were not contested in 1940 or 1944. The family of Gus Clain previously created and donated a very rare exhibit consisting of the sweater and jacket issued to the 1940 Olympic Bobsled team, and which is on permanent display in the Olympic Museum.

The Sliding Sports Museum at Mt. Van Hoevenberg will be an annex to the already existing Olympic Museum – located within the Olympic Center – and as such will come under the same chartering agency, the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York on behalf of the State Education Department. The future museum will share the same 501(c) 3 not-for-profit status making all donations eligible for a tax deduction.

“The next logical step is to create an advisory board of interested community members who share the same passion for preserving, displaying and educating future generations on the rich history of sliding sports in this area,” said Olympic Museum Director Liz De Fazio in a press release issued this week.

For more information on the proposed International Sliding Museum, or to make a donation, contact De Fazio at (518) 523-1655, ext. 226 or ldefazio@orda.org.

2009 Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards

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Iconic quarterback Joe Namath; Nobel laureate Dr. Eric R. Kandel; comedian and producer Jerry Seinfeld; and music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan are this year’s distinguished honorees who will be recognized during the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards to be held at 11 a.m. on tomorrow (Tuesday), May 19, 2009 in the Great Hall at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Candice Bergen, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actress, will serve as Host.

In its eighth year, the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards are presented by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. to celebrate exemplary Ellis Island/Port of New York immigrants or their descendents who have made a major contribution to the American experience. The B.C. Forbes Peopling of America Award, sponsored by the Forbes Family, honors the lives of immigrants who arrived at another time or through another port of entry. The Foundation’s database of ship’s passenger arrivals available at the American Family Immigration History Center® and online at www.ellisisland.org documents the arrivals of 25 million immigrants, travelers and crew members who came through America’s Golden Door and the Port of New York between 1892-1924. For more information on the Awards, visit http://www.ellisisland.org/genealogy/2009_recipients_intro.asp.

Getting there:

From NYC: Check-in 9:45 a.m. Statue Cruises Event boat departs 10:20 a.m.

From NJ: Take Statue Cruises ferry from Liberty State Park. For schedule, call (877-523-9849) or visit www.statuecruises.com.

ORDA Creating New Sliding Sports Museum

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The New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) is looking to create the North American Sliding Sports Museum at Lake Placid’s historic Olympic Sports Complex. At this time, ORDA would like to call on all former bobsledders, lugers and skeleton athletes or family members of deceased athletes to come to Lake Placid during competition weekends in February. ORDA is calling on all former track workers or family members of deceased track workers who have kept their story and history alive. The Olympic Sports Complex is in the preliminary planning stage of creating a North America Sliding Sports Museum and ORDA would like to record the history, memories, stories and experiences of everyone affiliated with the Lake Placid tracks.

The goal of the North America Sliding Sports Museum is to tell the stories of athletes, to educate the public and inspire future athletes of these fast paced sports. Along with oral histories, ORDA is also accepting artifacts, programs, all images, uniforms, posters, club logos, club trophies, and more. By donating these items to the Olympic Museum, not only is the public memorializing special experiences but also contributing to a unique piece of history and everyone will be given a deed of gift to use at tax time.

The dates will be February 6-8, 20-22 and Feb. 26- March 1. Each person who donates or records an oral history will receive free admission to the world championships.
For more information on how to donate historical memorabilia, or to schedule an interview, please contact ORDA Corporate Development Assistant Alison Casey at (518) 523-1655 ext. 343 or email her at acasey@orda.org.

Camp Santanoni Historic Ski Tour with AARCH

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Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) will kick-off their 2009 educational series Sunday, February 8th with an interpretive cross-country ski into the 19th-century, Adirondack Great Camp, Camp Santanoni. Participants will learn about the history and architectural significance of the camp that make it a National Historic Landmark. The 10-mile round trip ski, along the preserve’s gently sloping historic carriage road, leads us into the majestic wilderness estate. Those taking part will visit the camp’s three complexes (the Gate Lodge, the Farm, and the Main Camp), and view the massive log retreat at the Main Camp, the work of architect Robert Robertson. Skiers will also see first hand, authentic Adirondack rustic interiors and learn about the restoration of the camp.

Steven Engelhart, AARCH Executive Director and John Friauf, former AARCH Board Member, will lead the tour. The group will depart Santanoni Preserve parking area, off Route 28N in the hamlet of Newcomb at 10AM, returning around 3 PM. This is a remote site. All participants are encouraged to bring a trail lunch and plenty of hydration. The fee is $10 for members and $15 for non-members. Advance registration is required by calling AARCH at (518) 834-9328.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the private, non-profit, historic preservation organization for the Adirondack Park region. AARCH works in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Town of Newcomb to preserve and interpret Camp Santanoni. This tour is one of over fifty events in our annual series highlighting the region’s vast architectural legacy. For more information on AARCH including membership and a complete 2009 program schedule contact AARCH at (518) 834-9328 or visit our website at www.aarch.org.

Laurence M. Hauptman to Speak at Iroquois Museum

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The Iroquois Indian Museum will present “More than Games: Iroquois Indians and Other Native American Athletes at Carlisle Indian School”, a lecture by Dr. Laurence M. Hauptman on Sunday, October 5th at 1PM. The Iroquois Indian Museum is located 35 miles west of Albany, New York, near the intersection of highways 7 and 145. Take exit 22 from Interstate 88 and follow signs. For information and detailed directions call the Museum at (518) 296-8949 or visit our website at www.iroquoismuseum.org. Continue reading

Brooklyn College Aquires Boxing History Collection

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The New York Times is reporting that the Brooklyn College Library has acquired an outstanding collection of boxing history materials from boxing historian Hank Kaplan. According to his obituary (he died at 88 in 2007), Kaplan served was “founder and editor of Boxing Digest magazine, editor of Boxing World and served as consultant to such media outlets as Sports Illustrated, London Times, Der Stern and HBO.” According to the Times:

As yet unavailable to researchers, the collection — so far publicly confined to a small exhibition area in the library — consumes a 10-foot-high chamber in the Archives and Special Collections Division.

Crammed into the space are 2,600 books, 200,000 rare prints and negatives, 790 boxes of newspaper clippings from 1890 to 2007, 300 tapes of fights and interviews, reams of correspondence and hundreds of items of memorabilia, including belt buckles, trading cards and signed boxing gloves. Among the treasures is a heavy punching bag pounded by Cassius Clay in Miami before he renamed himself Muhammad Ali.

Although it might seem incongruous for an academic institution to devote space to a boxing collection, Professor Anthony M. Cucchiara said he hoped the Kaplan collection would be “a valuable archaeological dig” for scholars. “I suppose some people would want to turn their noses up at a boxing collection,” he said. “But the story of America is in this archive. Boxing is a prism for our cultural history, and is important for its associations with immigration, ethnicity, class, race and nationalism.”

Hank Kaplan received the James J. Walker Award from the Boxing Writers Association of America for “Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing” in 2002. In 2006 he was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

A number of his recent feature pieces are available online at The Sweet Science.