Saturday, July 30, 2011


June 4, 1874, New York Times,
There is the possibility of difficulty which may result in a strike among the brick-layers and brick-layers' laborers unless sober counsels prevail. The brick-layers and masons employed on the Equitable Building extension, in Cedar and Pine streets, struck of work on Tuesday on account of the reduction of wages. The brick-layers on the Western Union Telegraph building are meditating [sic] resistance to the reduction from $4 to $3.50, [per day] which has already been made in their wages, but as yet they have taken no action. A meeting of Bricklayers' Union No. 2 was held last night at the Assembly Rooms, corner of Seventh avenue and Twenty-sixth street. On one or two of the large buildings some of the laborers struck in consequence of a reduction of their pay from $2.50 to $2.25 per day, but their places were filled so easily by the employers that it is doubtful whether any other laborers will be ready to follow their example.
March 31, 1887, New York Times,
One of the biggest building strikes that have occurred in this city for a long time past took place yesterday afternoon at the Equitable Building, where the addition to that edifice is being completed. On Tuesday Walking Delegate Godwin, of the Electrical Wiremen's Union, accompanied by several of his colleagues, called on Contracting Builder King and informed him that some 20 non-union electric wire men were employed in the building. Of this number eight worked under Sub-Contractor Pride and the remainder under the United States Illuminating Company.

Mr. King, who is favorable to the unionists, it was said, sent away Pride's men and informed the delegates that he had no control over the others in the employ of the United States Illuminating Company. The delegates asked Mr. King to speak to the Trustees of the Equitable Company. Mr. King did so, but those gentlemen refused to take any notice of the matter. The delegates then informed Mr. King that, unless all the scabs were discharged, they would be compelled to order a strike in the building. Neither Mr. King nor the Trustees would believe the threat. Yesterday, about 1 o'clock in the afternoon, the entire Board of Walking Delegates met near the Equitable Building and decided to call out the men. Half-past one o'clock was the hour agreed upon to call the men out. The delegates scattered over the building, and until the last minute no one in the building who was not in the secret had any idea that a strike was impending. Every man was busy at his work.

As the clock hands pointed to 1:30 every one suddenly laid down his tools, the carpenters stopped cutting wood, the sounds of the marble cutters'hammers were hushed, and the workmen quietly walked out of the building, gathered in knots on the sidewalks, and then went home. The contractors were dumbfounded, and the walking delegates informed them that the strike would continue as long as the scab electric wire men remained at work. Those men defied the delegates, and declared that they would remain at work in spite of all the unions. The following is a list of the men who struck: Capenters, 300; marble cutters, 120; marble cutters' helpers, 120; laborers, 75; steam fitters, 40; plumbers, 40; painters, 65; gas fitters, 15; hard wood finishers, 83; polishers, 12.
[Go Norma Ray!]

March 31, 1887,
New York Times Editorial:
The strike of all the mechanics engaged on the Equitable Building yesterday to secure the discharge of a dozen of nonm-union men, over whom the employer of the strikers had no control whatever, is a very extreme manifestation of the spirit of monopoly. The objectionable workmen are employed by the United States Electrical Light Company, and not by the contractor. Their only offense is that they do not belong to a trades union. The Trustees of the building when appelaed to refused to takr any action in the matter, in which they were clearly right. It now rermains to be seen whether the strikers will insist on injuring a contractor who is entirely friendly to them in order to persecute a few men who decline to put themselves under bondage to the union managers. A clearer case of outrage upon the fundamental rights of the laboring men has not lately occurred in this city.
[Oh, stop acting like a little girl, New York Times. It's not like the principals weren't warned...]

Jan. 16, 1887, New York Times,
An accident, resulting in the death of one man and the injuring of two others, occurred in the Equitable Building yesterday [Saturday]. The property is being enlarged and improved and a large force of men is at work. At 10:50 A.M. a heavy scaffolding on the third floor at the Broadway side suddenly fell with a crash that was heard and felt in remote parts of the great building. When the first excitement was over the special policemen employed on the premises hurried to the scene of the accident and rumors went through the halls and corridors that many men were killed and wounded.

The police first dragged from the debris the limp and dust-covered form of a man in overalls who clutched a coil of wire. He was quickly carried to the other end of the corridor, and messengers summoned the medical examiner of the Equitable Assurance Society and the Chambers-Sreet Hospital ambulance. While this was being done the search in the broken timbers was continued and two more men were taken out. One was John Callaghan, aged 25 years, a laborer, living at No. 120 Union-street. He was bleeding profusely from scalp wounds and complained of body bruises. The other was Alexander Phillips, aged 17 years, a plumber, of No. 520 West Thirty-ninth-street, He was hurt about the head, but not apparently to any dangerous extent. When the doctor arrived and examined the man with the coil of wire he was found to be dead. From the nature of his wounds it was believed that he was killed instantly.

The dead man was Dan Ford, of No. 800 Second-avenue. He was 35 years old and married, but with no children. He was in the employ of the United States Electric Light Company, and at the time of the accident was passing under the scaffold with the coil of wire. The other men were on the platform and fell with it. Ford's body was taken to his home in the afternoon. Callaghan was taken away in the ambulance and Phillips was sent home in a cab. Nobody at the building could be found who blamed anybody. The timbers which composed the scaffold were new and it was believed to be strong.
[or going back even further...]

August 8, 1886, New York Times,
Workmen employed on the addition to the Equitable Building on Broadway began hoisting a huge block of granite at 11 o'clock yesterday [Saturday] morning. John Dallas, a Scotchman, and brother of Foreman Dallas, stood on the block to steady it. The big derrick creaked and the stout rope stretched as the mass of stone rose in the air. Its course was close to the side of the building. When the third story was reached the rope broke. It had been weakened by contact with the metal ornamentation. The stone was swaying when the strands separated. It crashed against the building, knocked a hole in it, and plunged downward with frightful velocity. Dallas fell with it. He struck on his back. "Good-bye, brother---good-bye wife," he cried, and became unconscious. An hour later he died at Chambers-Street Hospital, where he had been taken in an ambulance.
Can you tell the difference in the power dynamic between a sweet revenge murder and a staged faux event designed to justify inflated granite bills? Were brother John and Foreman Dallas identical twins, like the several score who figured in the 9/11 drama---or was he just a Kevin Pfiefer/ Gary Lutnick knock-off? "Good-bye brother!" indeed. And if "metal ornament" was present (like the sharp edge of a projecting cornice perhaps?) what the hell were they doing lifting a "huge block of granite" above the third floor? Are they really trying to indicate that the exterior walls were comprised of structural granite--like the fucking Parthenon? Note, for what its worth, that both fatalities took place on a Saturday, when the area banks were closed. Also, the private security force and private medical response is very much in keeping with the 9/11 playbook--or should I say---9/11 was in keeping with the Equitable playbook, since it came almost ninety years before.

Making the Equitable/ New York Times position even more untenable is the fact that the United States Electric Light Company is a subsidiary, or dummy, or front operation controlled by many of the same people who control the Equitable company itself. See:
The stockholders of the United States Electric Light Company held their third annual meeting yesterday in the Equitable Building, and elected the following Trustees: Charles R. Flint, Louis Fitzgerald, D. Willis James, D.C. Wilcox, Marcellus Hartley, Robert B. Minturn, Henry B. Hyde, Daniel B. Haton, Henry M. Alexander, Anson Phelps Stokes, Spencer D. Schuyler, Thomas H. Hubbard, Leonard E. Curtis.
The Nov. 9, 1880, New York Times article, "THE ELECTRIC LIGHT," tells us that the electric light installation in the Mercantile quarters was apparently the first ever set up in a commercial structure. Of course, the Mercantile companies themselves were set up by the same group of men to serve as front organizations, which allowed them to engage in activities an insurance company was otherwise prohibited by law to do.
The United States Electric Company have introduced their arc and incandescent lights in the offices and vaults of the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company, in the basement of the Equitable Building. This is said to be the first practical use that has been made of the incandescent mode of lighting, and is particularly interesting on that account. The Mercantile Safe Deposit Company has enlarged its premises, adding a reading-room containing the leading newspapers of the world, a smoking room, and largely increased accomidations in the way of security boxes and rooms for the examination of securities.
See also the Dec. 21, 1880, New York Times, "LIGHTS FOR A GREAT CITY; BRUSH'S SYSTEM IN SUCCESSFUL USE LAST NIGHT," for a competing company at work.

And for where this all leads to, see the Dec. 4, 1890, New York Times, "GOSSIP OF THE CLUBS." for THE BILL!:
The fight between the incandescent electric light and gas for supremacy in club rooms is going to reach a crisis before long. The other day the electric illuminating company which lights the Manhattan clubhouse put in a bill for the exceedingly modest sum of $2,200 for electric light furnished to the club during November. This sum multiplied by twelve would be more than half the annual rental and taxes on the Stewart property, and the Governorts decided that they could not afford to pay for the elctric illumination of the house and refused to pay the bill.
This article also tells us how impossible it is to get a club restaurant to break even financially.

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