Friday, November 18, 2011

Solving a murder at Harlem’s Green Parrot Grill

It may be the only time a tropical bird helped crack a New York cold case.

On July 12, 1942, Max Geller, owner of the Green Parrot Bar and Grill on Third Avenue and 100th Street, was shot to death in his small restaurant by a lone gunman.

None of the restaurant’s patrons could (or would) identify the killer, and the police had no clues.

Months passed, and finally, a breakthrough. Geller had kept a real parrot in his restaurant, and a detective learned that the bird was trained to call regular customers by name.

Witnesses had said that the bird screeched “robber robber robber” as his owner was shot. The detective, however, “had a hunch that the parrot had actually repeated “Robert Robert Robert.”

“Suspicion focused on a man named Robert Butler, 28, who had left Manhattan shortly after the shooting.”

Cops located Butler, a former taxi driver, in Maryland, where he confessed to shooting Geller in a drunken rage because Geller refused to serve him.

Brought back to New York in November 1943, Butler was sentenced to 15 years.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Common term Coined in New York (again)

Some readers' may have noticed my predisposition to writing about issues in and around the New York area as it relates to subject matter here. Let's just say having been born and raised there, I am and will always be a New Yorker. Moving on...

One term most people are familiar with is the well known label "Hooker", mostly associated with the long standing profession of prostitution.

Corlears Hook was named in the 17th century for the Van Corlears Family, early Dutch settlers who had a farm near the East River. In the 18th century the British renamed it Crown Point, and in the 19th century it reverted back to its' New Amsterdam name.
But it was no longer farmland. In the 1830's it became the City's most notorious red-light district attracting sailors and the women who serviced them...
The women of Corlears Hook..."were the most debased and lowest of their class. They were untidy, flashy and covered with brass jewelry and tinsel," states Seafaring Women, by David Cordingly. "Their dresses are short, arms and necks bare, and their appearance is as disgusting as can be conceived". A rather scathing description for women during any period in history.

The area known as Corlears Hook is generally credited in giving rise to the term "Hooker".
The area now is a park offering views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges-with no hint of its importance in creating the popular term for ladies of the evening.
New York City's First Drug Dealer

A dubious distinction at best, the famous Astor family usually known for real estate development in and around New York (Astor Place, Astor Row, Astoria Queens)apparently got started in another lucrative trade: Drug smuggling.

John Jacob Astor, a german immigrant made his first fortune trading furs with the natives in the late 1700's and eventually shipping pelts worldwide.

Having been associated with China from his fur trading, the needed connections were already in place.
He began purchasing thousand of pounds of Turkish Opium and shipped it to China, illegally as Opium was banned there in 1799. After a few years of successful smuggling, he quit the business evidently unscathed and began a new career in another prosperous trade: New York Real Estate.