Susannah Mushatt Jones, the world’s oldest person, has died at the age of 116 years, 311 days.The supercentenarian died at 8:26 p.m. Thursday evening at her senior home in Brooklyn, the Gerontology Research Group’s Robert Young told the Daily News.She was the last known American to have been born in the 1800s, and there is currently only one more person in the world verified as having taken breath in the 19th century.
GRG, which works with the Guinness Book of World Records, said that the oldest person is now Emma Morano-Martinuzzi, an Italian born on Nov. 29, 1899.
Jones celebrated her 116th birthday last July with family and friends. Her cake paid tribute to her love of chicken drumsticks and bacon.
The queen of King’s County inherited the title of world’s oldest person from Jerlean Telley, a Michigan woman who died last year at the age of 116.
Jones, known to loved ones as “Miss Susie,” told the Daily News last year that she credited her long life to getting sleep, not smoking and not drinking, though she admits that she loves and often eats bacon.
Watch the series premiere of Damien, Monday, March 7 at 10/9c on A&E.
With its dark alleys, underground tunnels, and shadowy figures, New York City is no stranger to strangeness.
Here are five mysterious events that actually took place in New York City; they remain unresolved and unexplained to this day.
Martha Wright Disappearance From Lincoln Tunnel
In 1975, Jackson Wright and his wife Martha were driving through the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey to New York City when Jackson pulled the car over inside the tunnel to wipe condensation from the car’s windshield. To speed things along, he took to the front windshield while Martha worked on the rear window. Moments later, Jackson turned around to find his wife had vanished without a trace. Jackson reported no other cars in the tunnel at the time of her disappearance, and nowhere she could have run to or been snatched away in such a short amount of time. A police investigation ensued, but Martha was never found.
Manhattan’s Mole People
Beneath the hustle and bustle of the city lives an underworld of Gothamites known as the Mole People. The true and harrowing existence of New York’s homeless sub-population of pallor complexioned underlings has been documented by journalist Jennifer Toth in the book, “The Mole People: Life In The Tunnels Beneath New York City.” Based on her research and reporting, it’s believed that the Mole People have lived their lives in secret hovels in the undercarriage of the city’s subway system since the early 90s, free to do as they please away from the New York that rejects them above ground. Toth’s account is grim and shocking – these underground inhabitants forage, eat rats, and even take on creature-like physical appearances due to their sun starved plight, a la sci-fi populations like H.G. Wells’ Morlocks in “Time Machine.”
These messages of unknown origin are embedded in the streets of Manhattan (there are over 50), a flummoxing conspiracy that’s had curious followers scratching their heads for decades. Buried beneath the asphalt the tiles surface over time with wear and tear, becoming a naturally strange part of the landscape. The linoleum tiles, which have mysteriously cropped up in busy intersections in various cities across the world, all bear strange messages along the lines of: TOYNBEE IDEA IN KUBRICK’S 2001 RESURRECT DEAD ON PLANET JUPITER
What does it mean? It’s a little philosophical, a little sci-fi, tiles touting bizarre political theories and ideologies, possibly referencing British historian Arnold Toynbee, or Ray Bradbury’s “The Toynbee Convector,” as well as Stanley Kubrick’s film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” There are theories, but no one knows for certain who is behind the tiles and what they mean. There’s even a documentary dedicated to the lore of the tiles, called ‘Resurrect Dead.’
Mystery Booming Noise In The Sky
Starting around 2011, multiple New York City residents across the boroughs have reported hearing unidentifiable “booming” or “rumbling” noises from the sky, and they all insist it is not thunder, construction work, or any other explainable phenomena. One man who uploaded a video to YouTube of the mystery noises in his Brooklyn neighborhood reported that people he knew “across the water in Jersey, and in other parts of Brooklyn,” had heard the very same booming noise where they were. It is uncertain what might be causing these sounds, leaving residents unsettled and determined to find answers. Is it UFOs? Sonic booms? No one is quite sure what the noises are or what they mean, and cases of these strange noises have still been reported as recently as June 2015.
Columbia University Tunnel Network & A Slain Security Guard
A vast underground tunnel system exists beneath Columbia University’s Morningside Heights campus connecting several school buildings. The tunnels beneath Buell Hall measure only a few feet wide, and it is speculated that the building was formerly an insane asylum. Under Pupin Hall, scientists once used the tunnels as a meeting place in the beginning stages of the Manhattan Project. In an effort to keep rogue and nefarious tunnel travelers off the campus, use of the tunnels is now largely forbidden, with ramped up security to dissuade would be tunnel journeymen from stirring up trouble. One such security guard, Garry Germain, was slain execution style in 1988 while on his standard night security shift. Thorough investigations revealed no forensic evidence, no weapon, no discernible motive, and no viable entrance or exit for the killer. One of the only possible explanations is that the perpetrator might have entered the campus undetected via the tunnel system. To this day, Garry’s murder remains unsolved.
Set in New York City, Damien is a follow-up to the classic horror film, The Omen. The show follows the adult life of Damien Thorn, the mysterious child from the 1976 motion picture, who has grown up seemingly unaware of the satanic forces around him. Haunted by his past, Damien must now come to terms with his true destiny – that he is the Antichrist.
Watch the series premiere of Damien Monday, March 7 at 10/9c on A&E. View a sneak peek now at aetv.com/shows/damien.
New York Navy Yard, colloquially known as the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is located on Wallabout Basin, Brooklyn, less than two miles north of the Battery. It is accessed by the East River, which separates Manhattan and Brooklyn. The channel is 40 feet deep to the south and 35 feet to the north. Access from the south requires passing under the Brooklyn Bridge, which has a vertical clearance of 127 feet, and the Manhattan Bridge.Following the British occupation of New York during the American Revolution, Wallabout Bay was the mooring site for prison hulks, aboard which thousands of American prisoners were incarcerated and died.In 1801, the United States government established a navy yard, which continued in operation for 160 years. Important vessels built here ranged from Robert Fulton’s steam frigate Fulton(1815) to World War II-era battleships North Carolina, Iowa and Missouri and aircraft carriers Bennington,Bon Homme Richard, Kearsarge, Oriskany and Franklin D. Roosevelt. With so much other activity, the yard built only two destroyers,Farragut-classHull and Dale but was a key base where many others fitted out.After closing in 1966, the yard was converted to private manufacturing and commercial activity. Today, the site has over 200 tenants, including a major motion picture and television studio complex completed in 2004, and is managed by the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.
Ships, Champagne, and Superstition
If the christening bottle didn’t break, the ship would be unlucky
The ceremony of christening new ships began in the distant past, and we know that Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians all held ceremonies to ask the gods to protect sailors.
By the 1800s the christenings of ships began to follow a familiar pattern. A “christening fluid” would be poured against the bow of the ship, though it was not necessarily wine or champagne. There are accounts in the US Navy records of 19th century warships being christened with water from significant American rivers.
The christening of ships became great public events, with large crowds assembled to witness the ceremony. And it became standard for champagne, as the most elite of wines, to be used for the christening. The tradition developed that a female would do the honors and be named the sponsor of the ship.
And maritime superstition held that a ship that wasn’t properly christened would be considered unlucky. A champagne bottle that didn’t break was a particularly bad omen.
The Christening of the Maine
When the US Navy’s new battle cruiser, the Maine, was christened at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1890, enormous crowds turned out. An article in the New York Times on November 18, 1890, the morning of the ship’s launching, described what was to happen. And it stressed the responsibility weighing on 16-year-old Alice Tracy Wilmerding, the granddaughter of the secretary of the Navy:
Miss Wilmerding will have the precious quart bottle secured to her wrist by a short bunch of ribbons, which will serve the same purpose as a sword knot. It is of the utmost importance that the bottle be broken on the first throw, for the bluejackets will declare the vessel is unmanageable if she is permitted to get into the water without first being christened. It is consequently a matter of deep interest to the old “shellbacks” to learn that Miss Wilmerding has performed her task successfully.
An Elaborate Public Ceremony
The next day’s edition provided surprisingly detailed coverage of the christening ceremony:
Fifteen thousand people – on the word of the watchman at the gate – swarmed about the red hull of the giant battle ship, on the decks of all the assembled vessels, in the upper stories and on the roofs of all the adjacent buildings.The raised platform at the point of the Maine’s ram bow was prettily draped with flags and flowers and upon it with Gen. Tracy and Mr. Whitney stood a party of ladies. Prominent among them was the Secretary’s granddaughter, Miss Alice Wilmerding, with her mother.
It was upon Miss Wilmerding that all eyes centred. That young lady, clad in a cream white skirt, a warm black jacket, and a big dark hat with light feathers, wore her honors with a very modest dignity, being fully sensible of the importance of her position.
She is scarcely sixteen years old. Her hair in a long braid fell gracefully down her back, and she chatted with her more elderly companions with perfect ease, as though entirely ignorant of the fact that 10,000 pairs of eyes were looking toward her.
The bottle of wine which her hands were to break over the formidable bow was a pretty thing indeed – quite too pretty, she said, to be offered up on the shrine of so unfeeling a monster. It was a pint bottle, covered with a network of fine cord.
Wound around its full length was a ribbon bearing a picture of the Maine in gold, and from its base hung a knot of varicolored silk pennants ending in a gold tassel. Around its neck were two long ribbons bound in gold lace, one white and one blue. At the ends of the white ribbon were the words, “Alice Tracy Wilmerding, November 18, 1890,” and at the ends of the blue were the words, “U.S.S. Maine.”
The Maine Enters the Water
When the ship was released from restraints, the crowd erupted.
In New York City, if your apartment is larger than 300 square feet, then you’ve made it. The city is notorious for big rents and small spaces. That may be precisely why Brooklyn-based artist Gregory Kloehn took matters into his own hands when he purchased a dumpster for $2,000, and turned it into the most creative garbage container you’ve ever seen. The green-hued living space took Kloehn six months to trick out with a toilet, stove, sink, and a roof that can double as a deck for seating. It also has a barbecue, a mini bar, and a shower that sticks off the side of the dumpster and gives outdoor showering a whole new meaning.
Not only does this self-contained green living space have all the amenities of a regular apartment, but it’s also mobile, allowing Kloehn to roll it to new locations around Brooklyn when he needs a change of scenery. The whole thing is pretty quirky, yes, but as rents continue to rise in Brooklyn and Manhattan, kudos to Kloehn for finding a creative way to beat the system.
There’s nothing better after a hard day’s work than kicking back with some friends and downing a few cocktails. For bars, pubs, and restaurants, the practice of happy hour specials—typically held between the hours of 4pm and 8pm—has become a commonplace way to boost sales on slow weekdays and to let their customers relax to make them “happy” before dinner. But the concept of the “Happy Hour” isn’t merely a marketing strategy, and the history of hitting the sauce at half price has a surprisingly strong—if not varied—connection to American history.
Happy hour these days is clearly linked to getting slightly intoxicated without making too big a dent in your wallet, but the term itself comes from American Naval slang in the 1920s following the First World War. A “Happy Hour” was an allotted period of time on a ship where sailors engaged in various forms of entertainment to relieve the monotonies of the seafaring life. Most of the time, this meant wrestling or boxing matches, but it still could include other athletic activities intending to boost morale.
At the same time, the U.S. was going through the darkest—not to mention driest—period in the history of getting hammered: Prohibition, the failed experiment given legal standing by the infamous Volstead Act. From 1920 to 1933, the manufacture, transport, and sale of certain intoxicating beverages was prohibited. (Sacramental wines and cider fermented by farmers were given exemptions.)
But instead of abiding by the newly enacted teetotal tenet, Americans became as alcoholic as ever, and would gather together in secret speakeasies or at home to consume some tantalizingly illegal cocktails to wet their whistle before dinner. “Happy Hour” as an expression was soon picked up, either directly or secondhand, from the Naval slang and merged to describe these outlawed gatherings.
Though Prohibition was later repealed, the concept stuck around. Some think that aSaturday Evening Post article from 1959 that mentioned the happy hour in regards to military life introduced the expression to the public, but other sources, like the OED, cite later examples—such as a 1961 Providence Journal article referencing Newport policemen “deprived of their happy hour at the cocktail bar”—as informally spreading it into the general vernacular over time. Eventually, in the ’70s and ’80s, it was co-opted by the service industry as the food and drink specials we know today.
The happy hour isn’t a universal concept, however. Currently, 23 states have banned restaurants and bars from selling “alcoholic beverages during a fixed period of time for a fixed price,” including Massachusetts, which was the first state to do so, in 1984—no small feat when you consider that Boston was recently named the drunkest city in America. Yet some states, like Pennsylvania—which extended the minimum happy hour period to four hours in 2011—encourage a restaurant’s ability to schedule their specials however they please. Internationally, the happy hour was banned in Ireland and very specific restrictions were put in place in the rest of the UK in an effort to curb culturally acceptable binge drinking, while in Canada the term “Happy Hour” in regards to drink specials is banned inOntario [PDF], and in Alberta regulations strictly limit drink prices and happy hours until 8pm.
Sean Hutchinson lives in the wilds of Brooklyn, NY. He’s got a couple of them fancy schmancy academic degrees in English literature, is a big World War II buff, counts Carl Sagan and Harry Nilsson among his personal heroes, and he’s also a huge movie fan. When he’s not coming up with strange and interesting things to write about on Mental Floss, he’s writing movie reviews and news at Latino Review and CriterionCast.