Posts Tagged ‘New Year’s in New York City’

A Yale student vanishes on New Year’s Day 1984

November 26, 2011

In the early morning of January 1, 1984, 24-year-old Samuel Arthur Todd took a break from a party at 271 Mulberry Street to get some air . . . and was never seen again.

His disappearance is one of those New York cold cases that seems to be forgotten, but it shouldn’t be.

Sam was a Yale Divinity School student who had graduated from Vassar in 1981. Active in social justice causes, he’d planned to be a minister, like his father.

On New Year’s Eve 1983, he and his brother met friends to celebrate at different parties in what articles later reported as Chinatown, today’s Nolita.

“At their third stop, a party in a second-story loft on Mulberry Street, Samuel told his brother he had drunk too much and his head was spinning,” The New York Times reported in March 1984.

“He went down to the street to get some air, shrugged off [his brother’s] offer to join him and was last seen by his brother as he began jogging the half-block toward [Houston] Street. He never returned.”

On New Year’s Day and in the weeks after, friends and family scoured the city looking for him, posting thousands of fliers and checking in with police frequently.

They insisted that Sam was “solid and stable,” someone who had no reason to disappear. He’d left his wallet, ID, and coat at the Mulberry Street party, as if he had intended to return.

But no leads, clues, or trace of Sam have ever been found.

Various theories have been introduced over the years. Was he solicited by a cult? Was he the victim of a gay basher, even though he was straight? Did he have a mental breakdown?

Sam’s friends rejected these scenarios. Sam would be 52 years old this year. But whether he’s even alive remains a mystery.

Celebrating New Year’s in old New York

December 30, 2009

The whole Times Square-ball drop thing didn’t start until 1904. Before then, the hip place to celebrate the holiday was at the base of Trinity Church, on Wall Street and Broadway.

Huge crowds would show—up to 15,000 people some years—looking to see and be seen as well as to hear the tolling of the bells to welcome the New Year.

The second Trinity Church, 1788-1841. The original burned down in the Great Fire of 1776, and the third one still remains there today.

And just like the all-night party in Times Square, the Trinity Church celebration attracted a bridge and tunnel group of revelers, as this New York Times article from 1897 reports: 

“The crowds came from every section of the city, and among the thousands, who cheered or tooted tin horns, as the chimes were rung out on the night, were many from New Jersey, Long Island, and even Staten Island.”