On this date in...
1835...Lower Manhattan is scorched by an enormous fire that begins in a textile warehouse near Pearl Street. The blaze rages out of control for more than 16 hours, destroying nearly 700 buildings, many of them dating back to Dutch Colonial days. Firefighters are hampered by cold winds and frozen hoses, and smoke and flames can be seen as far away as Philadelphia. Incredibly, not a single life is lost.
1905...Variety – the newspaper for showbiz – puts out its first edition from offices in New York City. Over the decades the publication becomes as famous as the people it covers, and its "slanguage" makes words like "sitcom" and "deejay" part of the general vocabulary.
1935... After years of reconstruction, the Frick Mansion on Fifth Avenue and 70th Street opens to the public as a museum.
1949...It's "Dry Friday," as New Yorkers skip baths and shaving to conserve water in the midst of a severe drought.
1960...Two airliners collide in heavy fog over the city, causing a United Airlines DC-8 to fall onto Park Slope, setting fire to 11 buildings and killing nine people on the ground. Pieces of a TWA plane also fall into New York Harbor and on Staten Island. The planes had been heading to LaGuardia and Idlewild (now JFK) Airports in Queens; human error and inadequate equipment are blamed for the collision. In all, 134 people die as a result of the crash.
1985...In classic gangland style, mafia chieftain Paul Castellano is cut down in a hail of bullets on busy East 46th Street outside Sparks Steakhouse. Castellano is succeeded by John Gotti, who is later convicted of the hit.
2002...Straphangers breath a sigh of relief as a major transit strike is averted. After 72 hours of 'round the clock negotiations that continue well beyond the original strike deadline, the Transport Workers Union and the MTA reach a deal that keeps the city's subways and buses running.