Selling the Brooklyn Bridge (continued)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Oct 24 03:55:57 UTC 2002

   FYI of the City Section of THE NEW YORK TIMES asked DARE about "selling the Brooklyn Bridge."  (Mayor Bloomberg needs money.)  DARE sent FYI to me.
   I had already posted the 15 February 1920 citation from NY TIMES full text.  I got a few more ADS-ers involved (George Thompson, Fred Shapiro, David Shulman).
   David Shulman was profiled in the TIMES regarding Steve Brodie.  He sends along this, from THE NEW YORKER, 17 May 1952, pg. 58, col. 3:

   The two things Brooklyn Bridge is most noted for--that confidence men used to sell it to gullible outlanders, and that Steve Brodie jumped off it--have little, if any, basis in fact.  Although, forty of fifty years ago, confidence men and bunko steerers found rich pickings among the stream of rubbernecks that flowed along the promenade, the transactions involved elixirs of life, gold bricks, counterfeit money, patents for horseless vehicles, contraptions for transmuting base metals into gold, and so on, but never, as far as anyone knows, the bridge.  The phrase "selling the Brooklyn Bridge" somehow entered the language, but there is no evidence that it was ever sold by anyone until December 2, 1945, when Mayor LaGuardia sold it to Jacob W. Schwab, president of the United Merchants Manufacturing Company, in return for a check for $17,500,000 at a War Bond auction held on the plaza of the Manhattan approach.  All Schwab got, besides his War Bonds and a hearty laugh, was a fine wooden scale model of the bridge, built by E. S. Newman, of the Department of Public Works.

   Ricky Jay, as stated before, sold the Brooklyn Bridge every night in his Off-Broadway magic show recently.
   A web search turned up the name George Parker, "the original Brooklyn Bridge seller."  Parker allegedly tried to sell other New York landmarks as well.  The NEW YORK TIMES full text didn't turn up anything at all on such a "George Parker."
   Perhaps early tomorrow I'll go to SIBL and try to get on the WALL STREET JOURNAL full text database.  WSJ might have a greater range of financial swindlers.

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