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Tottenville History

Tottenville History 1920-1929 September 2016

September 2016

Taking a four day personal writing retreat was great for organizational planning, catching up on writing, and taking a break that refreshed my spirit. 

It was an excellent time to transition from summer to fall.  Now the weather needs to provide a long refreshing autumn to finish the package.



Did you know?

The Stadium Theatre at 217 Main St. opened in 1927?

Staten Island Borough Presidents
Calvin Decker Van Name 1915-1921
Matthew J Cahill 1922
John A. Lynch 1922-1933

NY City Mayors
John F. Hylan 1918-1925
Jimmy Walker 1926-1932

NY State Governors
Nathan L. Miller 1921-1922
 Al Smith 1923-1928
Franklin D. Roosevelt 1929-1933

US Presidents
Woodrow Wilson 1913-1921
Warren G. Harding 1921-1923
Calvin Coolidge 1923-1929

Historical Setting 1920-1929 in the US & in the world

  • First assembly of the League of Nations (Paris)
  • Prohibition comes into effect in the US as a result of the 18th amendment
  • Mussolini's squad begins terror, 11 die in Bologna, Italy
  • May 18th John Paul II [Karol Wojtyla], 264th Roman Catholic Pope (1978-2005), born in Wadowice, Poland (d. 2005)

  • Albert Einstein lectures in New York City on his new "Theory of Relativity"
  • Adolf Hitler becomes leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party
  • FDR stricken with polio at summer home on Canadian island of Campobello
  • Jul 6th Nancy Reagan [Anne Francis Robbins], US First Lady (1981-89), born in NYC, New York (d. 2016)

  • Reader's Digest magazine first published
  • Construction begins on Yankee Stadium (Bronx)
  • US President Warren G. Harding is 1st US president to use radio, dedicates the Francis Scott Key memorial in Baltimore
  • First successful Technicolor movie (Tall of the Sea), shown in NYC

  • Transcontinental airmail service begins
  • US President Warren G. Harding becomes 1st president to pay taxes
  • Firestone Tire and Rubber Company starts producing inflatable tires
  • Hitler demands "hatred & more hatred" in Berlin

  • Jan 21st Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin, Russian Revolutionary leader and Premier, dies of a stroke at 53
  • Feb 3rd Woodrow Wilson, 28th US president (1913-21), dies at his home in Washington at 67
  • Jul 16th Bess Myerson, 1st Jewish Miss America (1945), born in The Bronx, New York Died December 14, 2014 (aged 90)
  • Judy Garland, 2½, billed as Baby Frances, makes her show business debut

  • Benito Mussolini dissolves Italian parliament/becomes dictator
  • First issue of "New Yorker" magazine published
  • Jun 8th Barbara Bush, US First Lady (1989-93), born in NYC, New York
  • Nov 20th Robert F. Kennedy, American politician (D-Sen-NY, US Attorney General), born in Brookline, Massachusetts (d. 1968)

  • Robert Goddard launches first liquid fuel rocket, goes 184' (56 meters)
  • First talkie movie "Don Juan" at Warner Theatre, NY-starring John Barrymore, the first feature-length film to utilize the Vitaphone sound-on-disc sound system with a synchronized musical score and sound effects
  • Weather map televised for first time
  • AA Milne's book "Winnie the Pooh" released

  • Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company produce the last (and 15th million) Model T Ford / Tin Lizzie
  • First Model A Fords sold, for $385
  • "Jazz Singer," 1st movie with a sound track, premieres in New York City
  • Trotsky expelled; Stalin becomes undisputed Soviet dictator

  •  RCA and GE install three test television sets in homes in Schenectady, New York allowing American inventor E.F.W. Alexanderson to demonstrate the first home television receiver which delivered a poor and unsteady 1.5 square inch picture
  • Sliced bread sold for the first time by the Chillicothe Baking Company, Missouri. Described as the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped.
  • George Eastman shows 1st color motion pictures (US)
  • Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse appears in NY in "Steamboat Willie"

  • First telephone installed in White House
  • NY Yankees become first team to wear uniform numbers
  • First regularly scheduled TV broadcasts (3 nights per week)
  • Oct 29th "Black Tuesday" Stock Market crashes triggers "Great Depression."  16 million shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange in a single day. Billions of dollars lost wiped out thousands of investors. The Great Depression (1929-39) was the deepest and longest-lasting economic downturn in the history of the Western industrialized world.

Some Highlights in Tottenville 1920-1929


Muriel H. Bedell was born on May 31, 1920, the great-granddaughter of Isaac P. Bedell, the founder of the Bedell undertaking business in 1841.  She died on April 20, 2013.


The 123rd Police Precinct, a three-story masonry building, is constructed at 116 Main St.

The trackless trolley begins operation to Tottenville with a fare of  five cents. It is replaced by bus service in 1927.


The brick apartment buildings at 239-241 Main St. are constructed.

Gustave Kerker dies. (1857-1923)

The Conference House Association is formed to preserve the house.  The house is dedicated and opened to the public in 1937.

The Stadium Theatre at 217 Main St. opens.

The inaugural opening of the Stadium was on July 12, 1927, closing as a movie house in 1957.

The reported last movie shown at the Stadium before it shut its doors was Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison.

Unfortunately, it is now a long-standing eyesore on Main Street, that hopefully will develop into something once again positive for Main Street.

On December 29, 1927, Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, was received into the Catholic Church

June 1928 at the Conference House

“The restoration of the house began in October 1926 starting with the North Room (parlor) on the first floor and basic infrastructure.  The work in the basement kitchen began in June 1928.  That same year, restoration began on the main entrance and hall, the first floor South Room, and construction of the main staircase.”

The Outerbridge Crossing, connecting Perth Amboy, NJ to Staten Island, is opened to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

“1928 – The Goethals Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing opened - June 20th.”

Construction of the FDNY firehouse at 7219 Amboy Rd. is completed.


In September, in commemoration of the 240th Anniversary of the 1776 failed Peace Conference at the Conference House, the annual re-enactment of the event took place.  This year there were new colonial outfits for the event, made in the United States and historically accurate to the clothing worn at the time.

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