Wednesday, November 23, 2011

50,000,000 Parade Fans Can't Be Wrong...

This year, when the 85th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off its march to Herald Square an estimated 50 million viewers will be watching on NBC.  Three million spectators will line the 2 1/2 mile long parade route and will not only see bands, balloons and celebrities but also some of the 4,000 volunteers who are part of the parade -- including many of the clowns and the balloon wranglers.  (Even with so many people watching on television, the crowd has grown since the pre-tv days.  In 1945, when the parade was broadcast to the local area only, there were just two million street-side spectators.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Let's Have A Parade!

From: America's Parade
A brief history of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade:
1924 -- The first parade, legendarily initiated by request of Macy's employees, includes two blocks of marchers over a nearly six mile route.  The parade begins at 145th Street and ends, as always, at Macy's Herald Square location, with the arrival of Santa's float.  This year elephants and camels form the Central Park Zoo march the route.
1925 -- The parade is shortened and sets up at 110th Street.  The menagerie is expanded and now includes lions and tigers.
1926 -- The lions and tigers scare too many spectators and will not appear again.
1927 -- The live animals are replaced by four 'balloons' designed by Tony Sarg.  They are air-filled (rather than helium) and propped up by sticks.
1928 -- Helium balloon characters are first used in the parade.  When they arrive at Macy's they are intentionally released but soon unintentionally pop as they rise over the store.
1929 -- All ten balloons are fitted with 'safety valves' to release the helium as it expands as the balloon rises over the city.  Balloons touch down at distances of 100 miles, but because Macy's offers a $25 reward for return, some are shot down and others are fought over.  One balloon is torn in two by battling tug boats in the East River (and no reward is collected).
1932 -- After a mishap involving the attempted in-air capture of a balloon by a novice flier, balloon releases are terminated.
1933 -- One million spectators line the route and newsreel footage is shot and distributed to theaters nationwide.
1934 -- Disney characters (Mickey and Pluto plus three others) appear as balloons for the first time.
1938 -- First radio broadcast.
1942, 43, 44 -- WWII cancels the parade.
1945 -- The parade is broadcast on local television.
1947 -- Over the summer, Miracle on 34th Street is released to theaters nationwide.  It lasts through the holidays and garners its writing team and its Kris Kringle an Oscar.  Edmund Gwenn (Kringle), Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Natalie Wood star in the film which was shot at Macy's and at the parade in 1946.
1948 -- NBC's first nationwide television broadcast of the parade.
1953 -- NBC's Today Show host Dave Garroway narrates the parade, beginning a long, if interrupted tradition.
1958 -- The Rockettes make their first parade appearance.
1960 -- NBC's first color telecast.
1962-72 -- Lorne Greene and Betty White are the television hosts of the parade.
1965 -- Underdog is the 85th balloon to appear in the parade.
1977-2000 -- Jean McFaddin is Macy's Parade Director.
1997 -- Cat in the Hat balloon accident will eventually lead to safety reforms.
2009 -- Parade route is changed to eliminate Broadway and travel instead down 7th Avenue to 34th Street where they pass by the reviewing stand at the southern facade of Macy's.  Accidents like the 1997 incident prompt the shift to the wider avenue, as well as the 2009 pedestrianization of Broadway through Times Square and Herald Square.

Monday, November 15, 2010

New York University

From: New York Magazine

These numbers are so astonishing to me, I just want to quote them outright:

"NYU now has more than 40,000 students, making it the largest private university in the country."

The city has more students in colleges and universities than Boston has people,” says Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

(This is from an article about "NYU 2031," the University's expansion and redevelopment plans.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

2010 Rockefeller Center Tree Facts

From: Daily News, NBC

This year's tree arrived at Rockefeller Center on Friday, November 12 from Mahopac, NY.  The 74 foot tall, 40 foot wide tree made its way down from Putnam County by truck and began preparations for its nationally televised illumination on November 30th.

The Norway Spruce (the traditional choice of tree for Rockefeller Center) came from the yard of  Peter Acton, an FDNY firefighter. Acton, who was a 9/11/2001 responder, learned of the decision on 9/11 of this year, when members of Rockefeller Center's gardening team knocked on his door.

The 12 ton giant (other reports say the tree weighs in at 18,000 pounds) will be wrapped in 30,000 LED lights on five miles of wire over the upcoming weeks.  It will then be topped by a Swarovski Star which is to be unveiled on November 18, 2010.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Educational Facts

From: The New York Times and The Daily News

Interesting tidbits of information about the City's Department of Education came forth as the Chancellor's office changes hands:

NYC public schools have a budget of $23 billion, with 135,000 employees (80,000 of whom are teachers) and over 1 million students.

(According to the Department of Education website, the city runs nearly 1,700 schools and has a slightly smaller budget of $21 billion and a slightly higher enrollment of 1.1 million students.)

These statistics make it the largest single school system in America.

(Joel Klein, the outgoing Chancellor, had a tenure of eight years, longer than any other.  He was appointed to the position by Mayor Bloomberg in 2002 after the State Legislature ceded control of the school system to the Mayor's office.)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New home for Fashion Shows

From: The New York Times
A few basic facts about Fashion Week and its new home:
New home in Damroch Park after 17 years at Bryant Park.
Runs until September 16.
Over 90 designers presenting their Spring and Summer collections during that time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How Many Starbucks?

Center for an Urban Future has done two excellent surveys of the City's retail landscape.  The 2008 and 2009 surveys are available on their site.
The list represents 277 national retailers who have at least two stores city-wide. Numbers are tallied counting non-kiosk outposts in all five boros (the downloadable PDF includes an incredibly detailed analysis by zip code and boro).
 In short, their results are as follows:

The top 10 in 2009:
  • Dunkin' Donuts: 429
  • Subway: 361
  • McDonald's: 258
  • Starbucks: 258
  • Duane Reade: 229
  • Baskin-Robbins: 207
  • Rite Aid: 195
  • Radio Shack: 115
  • GNC: 110
  • Sleepy's: 108 

Duane Reade's numbers may change when their acquisition by Wallgreens is finalized.   And while the takeover yielded some interesting statistics, there may be trouble brewing, as the former CEO and CFO were convicted of securities fraud on June 8, 2010.