28: A Hollow Nickel and Legal E-Bikes


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  • No new information on the Midtown helicopter crash as the NTSB continues their investigation, but the incident has stoked local officials to criticize the conditions that led to the crash: Carolyn Maloney, the Congressmember who represents the district where the helicopter came down renewed her calls for private transit and tourism helicopter flights to be banned over the city. After a deadly helicopter crash atop the Pan Am building helipad in 1977, flights to helipads in Manhattan were banned, but no new restrictions have been put in place despite multiple deadly crashes around Manhattan by helicopters and small planes. In a statement on Representative Maloney's web site, she says: "We cannot rely on good fortune to protect people on the ground. It is past time for the FAA to ban unnecessary helicopters from the skies over our densely packed urban city. The risks to New Yorkers are just too high." Senator Chuck Schumer also called on the FAA to require helicopters be equipped with flight data recorders, and cited years of recommendations from the NTSB that the FAA should mandate flight data and cockpit voice recorders. Schumer noted how the lack of flight data will now impede the investigation. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand added: "After last week’s helicopter crash in midtown, the FAA should immediately reconsider the recommendations federal transportation safety investigators have urged since 2011 and take steps now to implement these basic safety features. Flight data recorders provide critical information to help prevent future crashes, and I urge the FAA to act quickly to ensure black boxes are in every helicopter." A memorial service was held for the helicopter pilot, Tim McCormack, in Poughkeepsie, NY.

  • A young boy entered a real-life spy thriller 66 years ago on June 22, 1953 in The Case of the Hollow Nickel — If you're looking to pass along some secrets of your own, you can order a modern-day hollow nickel on Amazon designed to hide a MicroSD memory card or an accurate replica of the 1953 hollow nickel from spy-coins.com.

  • This week finally brought the sad confirmation that a swimmer has been found dead after going missing during a race in the Hudson River. Renowned AIDS researcher, Charles van der Horst, had been competing in the Eight Bridges Hudson River Swim, a 120-mile, week-long competition that was scheduled from June 8th to June 15th, with swimmers covering about 17 miles per day between Hudson River bridges. On Friday, June 14th, Charles had disappeared beneath the water near the George Washington Bridge and did not resurface. His disappearance occured at the end of that day's swim, which had begun 15.7 miles away at the Tappan Zee Bridge. The Coast Guard and NYPD boats began searching immediately, but it wasn't until four days later that his body was discovered near Fort Tyron, north of the GWB. In a statement from the van der Horst family, Charles is described as living life to the fullest and will be remembered for his work in social justice and in the medical field. He immigrated to the United States as an infant from the Netherlands, and was the son of a Holocaust survivor. As a professor of medicine, he provided care to HIV/AIDS patients, contributed meaningful research concerning the diseases, and volunteered at a free clinic after his retirement. When Charles disappeared, he was under the watch of safety crew in kayaks following each swimmer, and another participant describes the extreme care taken to ensure the safety of each swimmer, so it was unclear how this tragedy took place.

  • Last week I told you about the very first roller coaster that was modeled after a mine cart, but 92 years ago on June 26, 1927, The Coney Island Cyclone wooden roller coaster opens to the public

  • A baby doll wearing a "Crawling Dead" t-shirt was realistic enough to be officially pronounced dead by first responders after an early-morning 911 call on June 18th. A jogger spotted the horrifying scene of a baby lying face-down in the grass at 215th Street and 35th Avenue in Bayside, Queens and police quickly arrived to seal off a crime scene. It wasn't until hours later that officials announced it was actually realistic doll that they had earlier pronounced dead without physically inspecting it. In a statement, the FDNY described the doll as having "discoloration consistent with signs of prolonged death" as it was painted gray and blue to simulate loss of oxygen. Once the doll was physically inspected, the ruse became known, and the doll was found wearing a shirt that said "Crawling Dead", presumably a play on the classic horror film "The Walking Dead". The police have opened an investigation into who placed the doll and if it was intended as a prank.

  • You may be able to get legal bike boost soon now that lawmakers have voted to legalize electric bikes and scooters statewide. Ride safe, and enjoy the freedom of being able to bike across the Williamsburg Bridge without showing up to your meeting covered in sweat!

  • 44 years ago on June 24, 1975 — Eastern Air Flight 66 crashes on approach at JFK Airport, killing 113 people

  • There won't be a new tower rising up between NYCHA houses as the city scrapped a plan this week that would have begun the first proposed building in their 50/50 project.

A Great Big City has been running a 24-hour newsfeed since 2010, but the AGBC News podcast is just getting started, and we need your support. A Great Big City is built on a dedication to explaining what is happening and how it fits into the larger history of New York, which means thoroughly researching every topic and avoiding clickbait headlines to provide a straightforward, honest, and factual explanation of the news. Individuals can make a monthly or one-time contribution at agreatbigcity.com/support and local businesses can have a lasting impact by supporting local news while promoting products or services directly to interested customers listening to this podcast. Visit agreatbigcity.com/advertising to learn more.

AGBC is more than just a news website: Our fireworks page monitors the city's announcements of upcoming fireworks, lists them on our site, and automatically sends out a notification just before the fireworks begin, so that you can watch the show or prepare your pet for the upcoming sounds of explosions. Visit agreatbigcity.com/fireworks to see the full calendar and follow @agreatbigcity on social media to receive the alerts

Park of the day

  • Charlton Garden — EAST 164th and Cauldwell Avenue in Morrisania in the Bronx — This garden honors the heroism of Korean War Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant Cornelius H. Charlton.

Parks Events

Concert Calendar

Thanks for listening! Find more fun things to do at agreatbigcity.com/events.

Today's fact about New York

Here's something you may not have known about New York:


The extreme highs and lows for this week in weather history:
Record High: 100°F on June 26, 1952
Record Low: 49°F on June 20, 1914

Weather for the week ahead:
Rain through Tuesday, with high temperatures rising to 86°F next Thursday. Saturday and Sunday will be clear to partly cloudy with highs in the 80s.

Intro and outro music: 'Start the Day' by Lee Rosevere — Concert Calendar music from Jukedeck.com — Hollow Nickel music: 'Abby as in Abigail' episode of 'I Was a Communist for the FBI' from June 17, 1953

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