Posts Tagged ‘1960s New York City’

Who killed the Upper East Side career girls?

March 30, 2011

On August 28, 1963, a 23-year-old Time-Life staffer named Patricia Tolles came home from work to find her apartment at 57 East 88th Street a ransacked mess.

That was the least of it. In a blood-soaked bedroom were the bodies of her roommates, 20-year-old Newsweek editorial researcher Janice Wylie (below) and 23-year-old teacher Emily Hoffert (right).

Wylie (who had been sexually assaulted) and Hoffert were bound, naked, and each brutally stabbed dozens of times.

The horrific murders shook the city, especially the thousands of young “career girls”—as they were called in the 1960s—who came to New York to share apartments and find jobs.

For months, cops had no leads, until April 1964, when a 19-year-old Brooklyn resident named George Whitmore was arrested.

Police were certain they had their man. But his confession was soon discredited, and investigators were back on the hunt for the real killer.

He finally emerged in October 1964. Heroin addict and convicted burglar Richard Robles, 20, who had grown up near the East 80s apartment where the three career girls lived, was charged in January 1965.

After a jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to life in prison, he told the judge he didn’t do it.

But during a parole hearing two decades later in 1986, Robles confessed to butchering the girls in a robbery-gone-wrong after Hoffert told him she was going to report him to the police. He was denied parole.

Shooting Bob Dylan album art on Jones Street

February 14, 2011

It’s one of the most recognizable (and romantic) album covers of all time—
photographed in February 1963 on tiny Jones Street, around the corner from Dylan’s $60 a month studio at 161 West Fourth Street.

And no one had any idea that the image chosen as the cover shot for Dylan’s second album would become so iconic.

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan cover photograph came about rather casually; it certainly wasn’t planned or produced in any way,” recalls Dylan’s girlfriend Suze Rotolo (that’s her, clutching Dylan’s arm)  in her 2009 book A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties.

“Bob stuck his hands in the pockets of his jeans and leaned into me. We walked the length of Jones Street facing West Fourth with Bleecker Street at our backs.” This is the same view, on a February day almost 50 years later.

“The snow on the streets was slushy and filthy from the traffic. Don [Hunstein; a staff photographer at Columbia Records] kept clicking away. . . . In some of the outtakes it’s obvious that by then we were freezing; certainly Bob was, in that thin jacket. But image was all.

“As for me, I was never given a release to sign or paid anything. It never dawned on me to ask.”

Freedomland: the Bronx’s 1960s theme park

April 9, 2010

Brooklyn has Coney Island. Queens had Rockaways’ Playland. And from 1960 to 1964, the northern Bronx neighborhood of Baychester had Freedomland U.S.A.

Conceived and built by a Disneyland exec, Freedomland’s theme was, well, freedom. The theme park was shaped like America and featured various attractions based on United Sates’ history.

“The Old Southwest” area offered burro rides. Civil War battles were reenacted. Visitors could hang out in the Chicago section and help put out the Chicago fire. This old video clip can give you an idea.

The idea must have sounded great, but in the end, Freedomland never made a profit. After it was razed, developers built massive Co-Op City in its place.

The topless cellist arrested by the NYPD

October 28, 2009

Charlotte Moorman, a native Texan, trained for a traditional concert hall career as a cellist.

But after moving to Manhattan in the late 1950s to study at Juilliard and play in the American Symphony Orchestra, she became interested in avant-garde works and mixed media.

CharlottemoormanIn 1963 she founded an avant-garde art festival and began performing around the city with composer Nam June Paik.

Her concerts were pretty cutting edge: She played the cello nude from the waist up.

Today, it’s actually legal for women to go topless. But it was shocking stuff back in the 1960s. She and the fully-clothed Paik were even arrested at a 1967 show in Midtown.

Cops released Paik, but Moorman was tried and found guilty of  indecent exposure. The verdict was later overturned. 

She continued to perform works such as “Cello Sonata No. 1 for Adults Only” and “TV Bra for Living Sculpture,” during which she donned a bra composed of two tiny televisions.