A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from February 19, 2006
City for Sale
"City for Sale" refers to the purchase by Peter Minuit of Manhattan for an estimated $24 in 1626.

In 1988, the Municipal Arts Society had an exhibit called "City for Sale." The 1988 book, City for Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York, by Jack Newfield and Wayne Barrett, detailed the extent of real estate influences on New York City politics.

Peter Minuit (1589 — August 5, 1638) was a Walloon from Wesel, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, then part of the Duchy of Cleves. He was the Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Netherland from 1626 until 1633 and founder of the Swedish colony of New Sweden in 1638. By tradition he purchased the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans (Algonkins), on May 24, 1626.

Peter Minuit's Walloon family was one of many Protestants families who escaped the Spanish government of the Netherlands and found refuge in the Dutch Netherlands and Protestant parts of the Holy Roman Empire. Peter himself was born in a time of great upheavals and struggles by Protestants against Catholics, which culminated in the Thirty Years' War and finally led to an exhausted Peace of Westphalia a century later.

Minuit was appointed the third director-general of New Netherland by the Dutch West India Company in December 1625 and arrived in the colony on May 4, 1626. On May 24 of the same year he is credited with the purchase of the island from the natives -- perhaps from a Metoac tribe known as the Canarsee[2] -- in exchange for trade goods valued at 60 guilders. This figure is known from a letter by Peter Schagen to the board of the Dutch West India Company: a traditional conversion to US$ 24 using 19th century exchange rates is not particularly meaningful. The trade goods are sometimes identified as beads and trinkets, but that may also have been an embellishment by 19th century writers.

Author Aubin, Henry, 1943-
Title City for sale / Henry Aubin.
Imprint Montreal : Editions l'Étincelle : distributed by Messageries Prologue ; Toronto : J. Lorimer, 1977.

Author Newfield, Jack.
Title City for sale : Ed Koch and the betrayal of New York / Jack Newfield & Wayne Barrett.
Imprint New York : Harper & Row, c1988.

Author Hartman, Chester W.
Title City for sale : the transformation of San Francisco / Chester Hartman, with Sarah Carnochan.
Imprint Berkeley : University of California Press, c2002.

6 January 1966, New York Herald Tribune, "City for Sale" by Art Buchwald, pg. 17:
"Chief, we're here on behalf of the City of New York and we understand that your ancestors sold the island of Manhattan for $24."

The chief said, "That's true. The Dutch drove a hard bargain in those days. We were robbed."

"Well," said the second official, "we New Yorkers have always felt very bad about it and we want to make it up to you. How would people like to buy the place back?"

2 June 1988, New York Times, "Sardonic Designs in 'City for Sale'" by Paul Goldberger, pg. C21:
In part to raise money to coverthe legal costs of the suit, and in part to keep public awareness focused on the larger question of the city's policies, the society has just mounted an exhibition entitled "City for Sale," which consists of works by 31 artists and architects "inspired by the notion that the City of New York would sell its light, air, open space and civic landmarks to the highest bidder," in the society's words. The artworks will be on view at the Urban Center, 357 Madison Avenue, at 51st Street, through June 12; on June 13 at 7:30 P.M. they will be auctioned at the National Academy of design, 1083 Fifth Avenue, at 89th Street.

Posted by Barry Popik
Names/Phrases • Sunday, February 19, 2006 • Permalink

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