Sunday, September 25, 2016

The High Bridge Mystery of May 23, 1955

Earlier this month we posted the story of Max Snyder and the mysterious money he found in Highbridge Park in 1928.  Thanks to the posting of that article we were able to identify Max's son, Robert, and find out that Max did eventually end up keeping the $711 he found in the can in a crevice in the Park.

Today we have another mystery that happened around May 23, 1955 at the High Bridge.  The snapshot above was taken by some unknown tourist traveling on the Circle Line around Manhattan on May 21, 1955. There is nothing unusual about the picture, except, on the rear there is a note which appears in the picture below:

If you are cursive writing impaired the note says, "People looking down from High Bridge over Harlem River as our boat went under.  2 days later [5/23/55] a 17 yr. old boy who'd just enlisted as a paratrooper jumped from this bridge to fulfill a boast to friends that 'paratroopers can jump from anything.' He was killed when he hit the water.  5/21/'55"

Truly a tragedy, but we can find no articles in any of the local papers about this.  Does anyone have any information that they can add? Please comment below.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Another High Bridge Bridge Jumper Reported

As reported here on this blog in 2013, Ronald Donaldson, successfully jumped off the High Bridge as described here in the New York Times.  The 30 year old Scotchman jumped from the center of the 128 foot high bridge into the Harlem River.  Of course, if you are looking in the newspaper for this news, you will, most likely, not find it unless you go back 133 years to when the event actually occurred on August 18, 1880.

According to an entry in Wikipedia,  there were more individuals engaged in this  
Lawrence M. Duignan, better known as Larry Donovan (born New York 1862, died London 1888) was a newspaper typesetter who became famous for leaping into water from a number of high bridges, and may have been the first person to survive a leap from the Brooklyn Bridge. During a two year, ultimately fatal, stint, he sought to gain, and then monetise, fame by leaping from a number of bridges around New York, and later, England. He suffered minor injuries and incarcerations on several occasions.

Donovan's first recorded leap, in 1884, was from a bridge over the Schuylkill River. A year later, he made a 105 foot leap from High Bridge in New York City, an aqueduct supported by many stone arches, on August 24, 1886.

Several days later, he jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, at around 5:30 AM on August 28, 1886, a month after the disputed leap of Steve Brodie and two months after the fatal first attempt by Robert Emmet Odlum. Learning from the difficulties the two previous men had in remaining perfectly vertical during the descent, he wore shoes weighted with five pounds of zinc each.  He also wore trousers padded with "coarse cotton waste", and was attended by two rescue boats. He was immediately arrested, and fined $10 for obstructing traffic.

Although the New York Times dubbed him "Crank No. 3" (after Odlum and Brodie), it pointed out that his leap was higher than Brodie's (143 feet vs 120 feet) and was a jump, rather than falling from the underside of the deck, as in Brodie's case.
Having earnt $200 in a wager for this success, he began to seek other opportunities in the field. He was, however, denied permission to leap from Genesee, on October 20 by the Mayor of Rochester, telling a newspaper that he would join a circus and do a high jumping act. However, he attempted to jump from the bridge anyway, three days later, but was caught by police.

In early November 1886, he set his sights on Niagara Falls, apparently without immediate financial incentive, but with the hope of future returns. He visited Niagara Falls to find a site to jump from, rejecting the "old bridge" before settling on the new Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge . This bridge had only seen one previous jump, a Bellini in 1873, who performed a sort of bungee jump. In the company of a ferryman, a few members of the press, and his trainer, J. Haley, Donovan made the leap at 7 AM, wearing the same outfit he used for the Brooklyn Bridge jump. The height was calculated at 190 feet. After swimming to safety, he was spitting blood, and shaken by the experience, refusing to repeat the leap for less than a million dollars. He was diagnosed with a displaced rib and bruised lung.

After the leap, he swore that he wouldn't "degrade [himself] by going into a dime museum", apparently envisaging more sophisticated ways of earning an income from his pursuit. He planned another attempt on Genesee Falls, in the summer of 1887, and to "swim the Niagara Rapids farther than[William] Kendall did".
This was soon followed by a leap from the Chestnut Street Bridge  (88 feet) in Philadelphia into the Schuylkill River. He achieved this latter feat at 7 AM on February 18, 1887, inviting a "score of reporters and prominent sporting men" to witness the leap, made wearing shoes with lead-lined soles.[8] He was "badly winded, and a little stream of blood gushed from his mouth", but was otherwise uninjured.[8] He was, however, arrested and spent three months at "The Tombs" jail.  He had been intending to attempt to set a record of 500 miles in a "walking match" later in the month, and apparently still had his sights on the Genesee Falls.  Soon after, he declared his his intention to jump from the Niagara Horseshoe Falls on May 8, and to swim the Niagara Falls Rapids. Nothing seems to have come of these plans.

On April 18, 1887, he attempted to repeat his success on Brooklyn Bridge, but was foiled by his mother alerting police.  Calling himself "the champion aerial jumper of the world" and "the champion of champions", he had made a wager of $1,000 to be the first person to jump from the bridge. His mother, having received word, sent an urgent telegraph to police, "Please prevent my son from jumping off the bridge". Shortly afterwards, he was arrested at the bridge, at about 1:30pm, and was subsequently remanded, pending bail of $1,000 by a judge who declared "You are a fool...I am opposed to cranks of your stripe".  On May 9, Donovan was paroled in Yorkville Court by a judge who "extract[ed] a promise not to use any bridge in New-York State for such exhibitions again".[13]

The next year, he travelled to England, he travelled to England with plans to leap from Bristol's Clifton Suspension Bridge, a height of 250 feet. He was attempting to make a living from the risky occupation, by exhibiting medals he had won and taking bets. After arriving in London on the first of June, 1887, he marked his arrival with a jump from London Bridge a week later.  However, his feats generally "found but little favour, and were only looked upon as a species of foolhardiness."
On June 22, he attempted to leap from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, but was arrested, then "discharged...upon furnish sureties that he would make no further effort to jump from the bridge". He apparently ended up spending a month in prison, regardless, and later claimed to have achieved the feat on a separate occasion.
He began working as an emcee and drinking heavily, and by about May 1888, he had professed to be retiring from bridge jumping.

Around 2 AM] on August 8, 1888, he drowned in the River Thames after leaping 100 feet off the Hungerford Bridge in London, apparently in order to win a bet for two pounds after a night of drinking with friends. With little preparation, he simply removed his coat, and had no boat ready to pick him up. He was seen surfacing and swimming a short distance before disappearing under the water. Conflicting reports say it was "high water", "at flood and running under the bridge like a mill race", "near low water" or "very low" at the time. Although prone to drinking, a coroner found he was not drunk at the time. There was speculation that as the bridge was under repair, he might have struck a projecting timber.
According to a "correspondent" in a newspaper, at the time of his death, Donovan had been publicly appealing for money to buy a ticket back to the US, and to reclaim a pawned medal.  He had been "in condition of pitiful poverty for the past few weeks".

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Danza Heights Festival at Highbridge Pool September 17

Date:  Saturday, September 17, 2016
Time:  3:00 p.m.5:00 p.m.

For the first time in 10 years, the Danza Heights Festival returns to the drained swimming pool in Highbridge Park. This one-of-a-kind celebration, originally launched by DANCE NOW in 2003, will include flamenco, hip-hop, swing, contemporary, and musical theater, and will conclude with a group salsa class. You'll be dancing by the end of the day!
Scheduled performers include:
  • House of Duende's Urban Gypsy Project
  • Swing/Lindy Duo: Samantha & Brian
  • Maleek Washington/Contemporary Scripting
  • Alessandra Marconi
  • Wes Veldink
  • Cassie Nordgren Choreography
  • Billy Griffin
  • R.EvoluciĆ³n Latina
Artistic Director: Cassie Nordgren
Presented by UPCA and the NYC Parks Department
Rain date: Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Mystery at Highbridge Park

Copyright 2014, Friends of The High Bridge, Ltd., with permission

One winter day in early March, 1928, while scrambling through a wooded and rocky part of Highbridge Park, Max Snyder, age 13, who lived at 228 Audubon Avenue between 176th St. and 177th St., caught the glint of metal in a crevice between two rocks.  Climbing down between them he found a large can partly covered with black tape.  With the can under his arm he climbed to a clear space.  There he unwound the tape.  The lid was rusted to the can and would not come off the can at first.  Finally, after much effort he succeeded in opening the lid and a bundle of $1, $5, and $10 bills fell out on the ground.  There were hundreds of them and the edge of every one was scorched.
The boy sat there for a time admiring his wealth.  It looked like a million dollars.  There seemed far too much of it to count.  He picked it up by handfuls, weighing it and estimating its value.  His title to it seemed to be clear.  But Max thought it over carefully.  He had read of Alexander Lubowsky, who had just recently found $52,000 and returned every cent of it, and this had made a deep impression on Max’s mind.

The boy gritted his teeth, stuffed the money back in the can, put on the lid and started off for the Wadsworth Avenue Police Station.  On the way he met Patrolman William Stapleton. “I have found a fortune in money here,” said the boy.  “I found it in Highbridge Park. I’m taking it to the Police Station.”

At the Wadsworth Avenue Police Station the boy turned the money over to Lieutenant Levy.  It was emptied onto a table and counted.  Most of the bills were of $1 denomination, and the total was $771, considerably less than the boy’s first estimate, but still a fortune for a thirteen year old boy in 1928.  Police Captain Patrick Shea said: “Well, you’re a fine honest lad, and there’s a chance that this is going to be yours after all.  It has to go now to the lost property clerk at Police Headquarters, but if the real owner doesn’t appear in six months and prove that it’s his, it reverts to you.”

Max was in class C-2 of public school No. 115, a Junior High School at 181st street and Audubon Avenue.  His father, Benjamin Snyder, was a painter, who had been out of work for eight weeks.  “Max is a good boy and I’m proud of him,” said the father.  “It’s been a kind of a tough winter and all that, but I’m glad the boy did just what he did"

Max Snyder was born April 12, 1914 in Hartford, CT, the son of Russian immigrants, Benjamin and Rose Snyder who immigrated to the United States in 1907.

So, the mystery is who’s money was it that Max found? And, did that person ever claim the money?

Two years later in 1930, the US Census reported Max as living only a short distance away at 600 W 178th St. with his father and mother. The1940 US Census reported Max, age 26, as living at 280 Wadsworth Ave. between 187th and 188th Streets, still living with his parents. Max reported himself as a mail order clerk.  Max was inducted into the Army two years later in September, 1942 and served in the armed forces during World War II

It is not known as of this writing if Max ever married. Max died in Bergen County NJ in December, 1980  at the age of 66.

The information included here is based upon, in part, on an article that appeared in the Montreal Gazette, March 2, 1928.

If anyone has any additional information on the mystery or on Max himself, please let us know.

last revised 9/8/16

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Where to Park near the High Bridge

We know that there is a limited amount of parking and it is difficult to find a parking space on the street near the High Bridge and Highbridge Park.

These are the locations for parking facilities in this area and published rates.  Good Luck and have a great time.

Name                  Address                 Cross Street                      Rate


MTP Parking     4070 Broadway     Btwn. 171 & 172 St.         $18/2 hrs.
Park-it Mgmt.    506 W. 181st St.    Near Amsterdam Ave.      $10/2 hrs.
Barrington         467 W. 165th St.    Btwn. Amsterdam &
                                                         Edgecombe                       $15/2 hrs.
J B Parking        477 W. 165th St.   Ditto                                  $14/2 hrs.
SP Plus              3910 Broadway     165th and St. Nick            $18/2 hrs.
PV Parking       554 W. 174th St.  St. Nick & Audubon       $  8/2 hrs.
Alliance Park     528 W. 162nd St.  Btwn. B'way &
                                                         Edgecombe                       $10/2 hrs.


Chile Parking     1282-6 Shakespeare
                                                         Btwn. 169th & 170th        $  8/2 hrs.
K & N Parking 1250 Edward Grant
                                                         169th St.                           $  5/2 hrs.