Posts Tagged ‘Mayor John Lindsay’

A TV yule log becomes a city Christmas tradition

December 24, 2012

Channel11logoIn 1966, WPIX Channel 11 came up with a brilliant idea: film a yule log burning in a fireplace and run the footage on Christmas Eve.

The point was to treat viewers who didn’t have a fireplace to the warm glow of a fire—and give station employees a little time off.

So a camera crew set up shop beside a fireplace in Gracie Mansion, then occupied by Mayor John Lindsay, lit a log, and let it flicker.

“A 17-second image of the fire there was repeatedly spliced together until it was three hours long,” a 2011 New York Daily News article reported. Christmas classics were selected to play in the background.


On Christmas Eve 1966, the Yule Log ran at 9:30 pm—and was a surprise hit. It aired every year until 1970, when the 16 mm footage wore out. So the station shot a new yule log—not at Gracie Mansion (Mayor Lindsay refused to give them permission after the 1966 camera crew accidentally set a rug on fire), but in a house in California with a similar hearth.

The Yule Log ran yearly until 1989. It was brought back in 2001 to help the city deal with 9/11, earning a new audience and its own fan website.

It’s been shown every Christmas since and scores big ratings. Catch this New York holiday tradition from 9 to 1 p.m. on December 25. Or get into the Christmas spirit by watching the log anytime here.

A 1970s proposal to legalize prostitution

February 16, 2011

You know the story: After Times Square’s heyday through the 1950s, it slid into seediness and decay.

By the early 1970s, West 42nd Street was packed with sleazy characters, leaving the people who made their living in the Theater District feeling unsafe.

So a group of 62 performers came up with a radical idea.

They sent a letter to Mayor John Lindsay proposing that the city create a legal red-light district, where the “prostitutes, pimps, perverts, and panhandlers” who made Times Square so dangerous could ply their trade.

Needless to say, Mayor Lindsay vetoed what he called a “drastic suggestion,” according to a New York Times article on August 9, 1972:

“[Lindsay] spoke of the ‘basic moral question’ of legalizing prostitution, the perhaps insoluble task of finding a location for such a district and the additional problems of controlling the influx of prostitutes that would result from legalization.”

Lindsay’s plan was to have law enforcement beef up the arrests of streetwalkers and padlock massage parlors.

But it took another 20 years—and a different mayor—to make a real dent in Times Square’s rep as a hooker haven.