Harold Blake

Interviewed By Joanne Dillon

Eighty-seven year old Harold J. Blake has lived within a 10-block area of New York’s Greenwich Village his entire life. But his career took him to heights he never imagined when he was growing up in a cold water flat. Blake reminisces about his early life in the West Village with the long-defunct Ninth Avenue El rumbling by his bedroom window, his short-lived career as a Wall Street trader, the training he received while serving in the U.S. Army at the time of the Korean War, and his many years working at the Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority and the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair Corporation. He also provides a warm but balanced view of his former employer the late Robert Moses, the controversial 20th century urban planner known as “the master builder,” for whom Harold served as executive assistant for many years. (Summary Written By: Joanne Dillon)

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Greenwich Street; Street Names (00:50)
Perry Street; West 11th Street; Street Names (00:54)
West 10th Street (01:08)
Charles Street; Street names (01:17)
tenement; Ninth Avenue El; (01:44)
apartment description; walk-up apartment (01:48)
railroad flat (02:34)
apartment description; coal stove; heating (02:51)
kerosene stove (03:01)
neighbors; ethnic groups; Irish (03:53)
neighbors; ethnic groups; Irish (04:04)
St. Veronica's Church (04:28)
childhood games (04:46)
Worth Street Swimming Pool (05:24)
summer camp; Spring Valley, NY (05:57)
1929; stock market crash; Great Depression (06:21)
father's occupation; NYC Department of Sanitation (06:36)
Midland Beach, Staten Island; summer bungalow (07:21)
Rockaway Beach; Irish community (07:31)
Playland (Rye Beach) (07:46)
Bleecker Street; street names (08:12)
apartment description; (08:28)
1940s (08:45)
Korean War; military service (08:51)
street names; locations of family residences (09:00)
St. Vincent's Hospital (09:21)
parents; family relationships (09:53)
Ireland; Co. Longford (10:13)
grandparents; extended family (10:25)
mother's work; Essex House Hotel; chambermaid (11:39)
S.S. Stafford Ink Company (11:59)
street names; Washington Street; Barrow Street (12:18)
assembly line (12:40)
father's occupation; NYC Department of Sanitation (12:53)
retirement pension (13:25)
candy store; family business; Hudson Street (13:50)
father's death (14:43)
St. Veronica's School; education; High School of Commerce; St. Alphonsus High School (15:28)
first job; Wall Street securities firm; trucking company; OTC trading (15:54)
National Guard; 14th Street Armory (16:19)
Fort Dix; Camp Edwards; military service (16:36)
GI Bill (16:55)
New York University (17:01)
civil service salaries in 1950s (18:47)
dockworkers; longshoremen; waterfront (20:12)
neighbors (21:39)
siblings (22:47)
St. Alphonsus High School; Canal Street; West Broadway (26:48)
Robert Moses; 1964-1965 World's Fair (28:37)
Triboro Bridge & Tunnel Authority (28:42)
St. Alphonsus High School; commercial courses (29:02)
Wall Street; trading room; OTC trading (30:26)
teletype; business machines (31:06)
clerical work; trucking company (31:54)
Triboro Bridge & Tunnel Authority; purchasing department (33:15)
military service; Army battalion (34:02)
Fort Benjamin Harrison; military service (34:15)
Robert Moses (34:39)
job offer from Robert Moses (35:59)
Robert Moses; contributions to New York City (38:29)
Robert Caro; "The Power Broker" (39:55)
liaision with Robert Caro (40:24)
New York One; Robert Caro (42:35)
Robert Moses (45:43)
Financial success of 1964-1965 World's Fair (46:06)
Robert Moses' contributions to NYC (48:24)
Verrazano Bridge; 1963; Throgg's Neck Bridge (48:35)
Grand Central Parkway; highways in New York City (48:50)
Opening Day - World's Fair; civil rights demonstrations (49:25)
Marion Ritz; NY Times Sunday magazine (51:35)
Governor Nelson Rockefeller; Laurence Rockefeller; dispute with Robert Moses (53:34)
dispute with Nelson Rockefeller (54:09)
Robert Moses' resignation; dispute with Nelson Rockefeller (54:24)
Robert Moses' salaries (55:04)
World Trade Center (57:03)
John D. Rockefeller; Board of 1964-1965 Word's Fair (57:40)
Pope Paul VI's visit to NYC (58:05)
Michaelangelo's Pieta (58:25)
Vatican Pavilion; World's Fair 1964-1965 (01:00:13)
General Electric Pavilion (01:01:18)
World's Fair Theme; Man's Achievements (01:01:40)
1939-1940 World's Fair (01:01:48)
touch tone dialing; John Fitzgerald Kennedy (01:01:56)
John Lindsay (01:03:46)
1966 Transit Strike; Michael Quill (01:04:24)
Samuel Rosenman (01:05:17)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (01:05:31)
JFK Dedication of U.S. Pavilion, 1963 (01:07:47)
Lyndon Johnson (01:08:20)
Greenwich Village (01:09:04)
St. Vincent's Hospital (01:10:15)
Sisters of Charity; St. Vincent's Hospital (01:10:44)
St. Vincent's Nursing School (01:11:07)
St. Vincent's Hospital Bankruptcy (01:11:37)
O'Toole Building; Lenox Hill Hospital (01:12:13)
Cabrini Hospital (01:14:11)
Butterfield House (01:15:08)
Macy's; The New School; neigborhood revitalization (01:15:41)
national landmarks (01:20:00)
St. Joseph's Church; St. Peter's Church (01:20:14)

Transcript

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Interview Data

Date of Interview
July 2, 2016
Location of Interview
Home of Storyteller
Place of birth
Greenwich Village, New York City, New York
Occupations
Retired. Former Personnel Director, Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority (TBTA), 1950s to 1963; Office Manager, New York World’s Fair Corporation, 1964-1965; Special Assistant to Robert Moses from 1963 to 1973
Dates in Neighborhood
Lifelong Greenwich Village Resident; has lived in his current location on West 13th Street from about 1985.
Birth Year
1929
Rights Statement
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About This Collection

Your Village, Your Story: Greenwich Village Oral History Project

This is a community-based oral history project at Jefferson Market Library that works to both preserve and document Greenwich Village neighborhood history through the stories of people who have experienced it.

From December 2013 - April 2014, trained volunteer interviewers worked to collect over 100 oral histories of people who have a longtime relationship with Greenwich Village. This collection represents the voices of individuals who have lived, worked or spent over 20 years in the neighborhood.

We invite you to browse these oral histories - unedited interviews between Interviewers and Storytellers. These recordings will also be accessible at The New York Public Library in The Milstein Division, in circulating collection at Jefferson Market Library, and on this website.