Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cast Iron Eagles of Grand Central Terminal

The eagles were mounted in 1898. It is unknown how many eagles there originally were nor who sculpted them. Each eagle has a fourteen-foot wingspan and weighs a ton and a half. They were removed in 1910 when the building was razed to make room for the present-day Grand Central Terminal. The eagles were moved the various places:

Two eagles ended in Mount Vernon.  One was sold to Daily News photographer David McLane in 1966 and the other was removed to an unknown location. The rest of the eagles are placed as follows:

Capuchin Seminary in Garrison, NY, overlooking the Hudson River

St. Basil’s Academy in Cold Spring, NY houses two eagles

The Vanderbilt Museum in Northport, NY houses two eagles at its entrance

A house in Bronxville, NY

A private estate in Kings Point, NY

The Philipse Manor-North Tarrytown Railroad Station, NY

David McLane wanted the eagle he purchased to be placed in a location where it could be seen and enjoyed by the public. In 1985, the town of Shandaken, NY adopted the eagle. There was a dedication ceremony for the newly restored eagle on August 23, 1986. McLane went to great lengths to research the eagles history. He contacted museums, libraries, and organizations, but never solved the mystery behind who created the Eagles.

On March 23, 1997, the Westchester Gannet Newspapers published a story about the Bronxville eagle. The writer mentioned there may have been eleven original eagles. It seemed the eleventh eagle may be located right in Tarrytown. The owner of the property of the time. John Daniell Jr.  When he died, the property was sold to John Perry. After further investigation, this specific eagle was not a Grand Central Station eagle.

The Bronxville eagle was moved from its home and installed at the Lexington Avenue entrance to Grand Central Terminal in 1998. The Garrison eagle was also moved and was installed above the terminal’s southwest entrance at 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.


Morrison, David D. The Cast Iron Eagles of Grand Central Station. Cannonball Publications, 1998.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Brief History of the Creation of Nassau County

The idea of a Greater New York had been considered since the 1840s. Manhattan and Brooklyn, then locked in civic rivalry, had little interest in adopting the expenses of rural parts of Queens. And those rural areas had long since made their animosity toward the cities known. The map of the proposed Greater New York that came out of the Legislature in 1894 embraced only the western towns of Queens, with just a small wedge of western Hempstead, including Inwood, Lawrence, Bellerose, Elmont and all of the Rockaways. North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and the rest of Hempstead were excluded from the vote.

A Republican boss, Thomas C. Platt, pushed a consolidation bill through the Legislature in the spring of 1896, and Governor Levi P. Morton, also a Republican, signed it in May. New York, as it is now known, would come into existence on Jan. 1, 1898.

What was left was a strange political creature, unique in the country, and on untested constitutional ground. A Board of Supervisors still ruled all of Queens, but could not levy taxes on the part that was in New York City. And that was the part that held the majority of votes on the board.

A tax revolt brewed. On Dec. 17, 1897, a group of the old secessionists gathered to form the Tax-Payers' Non-partisan Association of Queens county. Among them were Hicks and former Assemblyman James Pearsall, who had pushed the secession bill of 1876 and lost. A relative newcomer, P. Halstead Scudder, descendant of the Scudder family of Northport, made a lengthy speech that earned him a leadership position next to Hicks, some 30 years his elder.

The possibility of annexation to Greater New York was quickly dismissed. Another idea of creating a new county by combining Queens County’s eastern towns with different towns of western Suffolk seemed unlikely to happen. He rejected all except that of forming Nassau only from the non-city remnants of Queens. Charles E. Shepard, the editor of the "Long Islander," in Huntington, tried to convince delegates to include his hometown, but others prevailed, among them Pearsall, who had seen his bill go down in flames 20 years earlier. A north Hempstead resident favored annexation to Suffolk while another wanted to join New York City. James Ludlam of Oyster Bay offered a motion that it would be the best interest of the citizens of Hempstead, North Hempstead, and Oyster Bay to withdraw from the county of Queens.

J.B. Coles Tappan of Oyster Bay offered the resolution to create Nassau, which passed. The delegates chose Halstead to head a contingent to Albany. It would bring him face to face in opposition to his younger brother, Townsend Scudder, a Democrat and hired counsel for the Queens Board of Supervisors, which was dead-set against dividing their county.

Assemblyman George Wallace -- former editor of the Southside Observer in Rockville Centre -- introduced the county bill on Feb. 17, 1898. It passed the Assembly and Senate the following month.
On April 27, a large delegation went to see Republican Governor Frank S. Black, who allotted very little time for discussion. Black was a friend of Hicks.

Hicks waited patiently as Townsend Scudder took most of the allotted time. Townsend began by saying the Board of Supervisors of the more-populous part of the county did not want the division, that it would be expensive, and that the new county would have no public property except Barnum Island off the South Shore -- worth about $25,000. He argued that with the nation at war -- Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders were fighting the Spanish in Cuba -- it was an inopportune time to create a new county.

When Townsend finished, Hicks politely assured the governor that the Republican taxpayers of the eastern towns favored the measure. Black signed the bill into law and Nassau County would be created as of January 1, 1899. At the first meeting of the new Board of Supervisors, the truck house of the Mineola Hook & Ladder Company was chosen as the temporary house of the county court. The colors of orange and blue were adopted for use in the official flag. The seal chosen was a crest with the golden rampant lion of the House of Nassau on an azure blue field, encircled by seven gold bars.

The first order of business for the new board included erecting a much-contested courthouse, on land owned by A.T. Stewart's Garden City Co. On July 13, 1900, a slim Theodore Roosevelt, the Republican governor of New York, and recently named vice presidential candidate, stepped to the podium at Mineola to lay the cornerstone of the new courthouse.


“Philemon Halstead Scudder.” Philemon Halstead Scudder b. 22 Jul 1861 Oyster Bay, Queens,  New York d. 3 Apr 1909 New York: Scudder Association,

Smits, Edward J. Nassau Suburbia, U.S.A.: The First Seventy-Five Years of Nassau County, New York 1899 to 1974. Doubleday & Company, 1974.