As 2016 began, so did the final season the PBS super-hit "Downton Abbey", the British upstairs/downstairs story of a great estate, set in the early 20th century, when "things were changing."
What kind of things? Well, women were getting the right to vote, this funky thing called radio was becoming popular, people were dancing the Charleston, and, basically, the landed gentry could no longer afford to own their huge, expensive estates and employ hundreds and hundreds of people. Pretty soon, the nobility would become more of a curiosity and less an imposing force.
This blog has exhaustively chronicled how NYC has been changing over the years. One of my favorites is from December 31, 2013, when I bade farewell to "Funkytown", remembering the deaths that years of Ed Koch, Al Goldstein, Lou Reed, and Stan Brooks, great New Yorkers all of a bygone era. As 2015 has now ended, we can add two more great New York icons to the memory bank: Janet Wolfe and Dr. Zizmor.
Who are they? New Yorkers who impacted our city in smaller yet wonderful ways.
Janet Wolfe, who died last year at age 101, was the founder of the NYCHA Symphony. After a career as a bit movie actress, doing PR, and working for the Red Cross in Italy during WWII, she founded this symphony orchestra (in her early 60s no less) for public housing residents in 1971. What a wonderful, imaginative thing to do! For four decades, she brought great music to people who would otherwise might not hear it, and she did with verve, with excitement, and with love. She was the best kind of New Yorker and, even though she lived a very long life, we lost her too soon.
And what about Dr. Zizmor? He's not dead yet (he's still a youthful 70-something) but the friendly dermatologist whose silly ads papered the subway system and local TV programming for decades has apparently closed shop and retired. No longer can people get appointments with Dr. Z to have their skin treated by one of his famous chemical peels. His ads were one of those things about the NYC culture that were just ... there ... never wavering ... and they provided a certain kind of reliability and comfort to people in an ever churning city. No more. And, as this article indicates, the old school, local pitchman in NYC is just another thing -- like the subway token -- that has gone away.
So "things" are always "changing" in NYC. Stay tuned.