Tag: Financial District


Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 | All Things, Events, NYC History

Yes, it still felt good the morning after, and even still a month and a half later when it seemed the entire city paused on a cold and bright January morning to revel once again in this historic moment.

Obama’s inauguration was broadcast on screens large and small throughout the five boroughs.  In the Financial District, productivity plummeted (and Internet connections slowed) around 11:30AM as workers put aside their work to watch the event on their computers or office television sets.  I made my way to the Jumbotron screen set up outside the New York Stock Exchange where the crowds were quickly building, arriving just in time to hear a sparkly bow-topped Aretha Franklin belt out “My Country, Tis of Thee” before Joe Biden’s swearing in by Justice John Paul Stevens.

Several hundred people filled Broad Street despite the freezing temperatures — though no comparison to the crowds that were shown at the Mall in DC. Crowd estimates there varied wildly from 1.5 million to 4 million — though most of the time, the figures are almost entirely made up anyway; the Associated Press stayed conservative with their report of “more than 1M“.  I believe it.

Obama Inauguration

The musical selection lead-in was by John Williams with snippets of familiar melody lifted from the traditional Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts,” which Aaron Copland also famously borrowed for his “Appalachian Spring“. The tune broadcasts Inspiration, capital I, especially when rendered by Itzhak Perlman and Obama’s favorite cellist Yo-Yo Ma.  Even if the music was pre-recorded.

And then, the moment we were all there to witness: Barack Hussein Obama taking the Oath of Office:

Obama Inauguration

The assembled crowd cheered riotously, among them several dozen schoolchildren in homemade Obama headgear, who had gathered with us on the steps of Federal Hall.

Federal Hall steps

Obama supporters

Our new president delivered a measured, somber speech on this jubilant day, one which garnered generally favorable reviews.  I did appreciate the nod to American songwriter Jerome Kern (at 1:03) — and yes, friends, this song was written in 1936, but it’s a standard, and it was performed by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, so therefore not so strange that I recognized the reference… geez!

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

Check out the full NYSE Inauguration simulcast Flickr set here.

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Sunset salsa

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 | All Things, Music

At Wagner Park after work tonight to catch a couple of sets by the Latin Giants of Jazz, the 15-member orchestra best known for backing the late Latin bandleader Tito Puente.

An impromptu dance area opened up, and soon the floor was filled with couples, swishing and spinning into the late summer sunset.

Click for the video:

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Lunchtime doo-wop

Thursday, July 31st, 2008 | All Things, Music

Throughout the years, I end up at my share of evening musical performances, but for sheer value and variety, it’s difficult to beat the free weekday afternoon recitals. The Financial District, especially, is full of options: Trinity Church’s Concerts at One and the Juilliard Artists at 180 Maiden Lane are just a couple of the more popular options. And in my own office building, the Woodhill Players perform lunch hour concerts in the historic lobby Tuesdays and Thursday during the summer.

The World Financial Center hosts a series of noontime concerts as part of the River to River Festival and this afternoon’s featured act was The Persuasions, the self-proclaimed “deans of streetcorner singing.” The weekend before, the a cappella group performed here as part of “The Big River Project: The Music of Johnny Cash” — a week-long celebration of The Man in Black’s music. (Where was Cash impersonator extraordinaire Vince Mira?)

The quintet began as boys singing on the streets of Bed-Stuy in 1962. They were discovered after sending a demo tape to Frank Zappa in 1968, who signed them to his Bizarre Records label. Later, the group recorded a tribute album to Zappa’s music, and went on to cover other such varied acts as The Grateful Dead, The Beatles and U2.

The blazing summer sun drove us inside the climate-controlled Winter Garden, from which we caught snippets of The Persuasion’s classic doo-wop, R&B and pop music repertoire as it came in from the Plaza. I recognized “Come Go With Me” and “Lean on Me”. At one point, SYB asked, “Isn’t that ‘Under the Boardwalk’?”

Through the glass, it all sounded a little like “Under the Boardwalk“.

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