Magical Walking Tours

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Guest » 06/25/02 03:38 PM

In another thread, I mentioned how I work near the site of the old Hornmann-Flosso magic shop. I walk past there every day, usually without a second thought, since it's now a movie megaplex in a freshly minted skyscraper. That got me to thinking...

A magical walking tour of NYC?

What could a New York-o-centric magic historian show in a leisurely stroll through midtown Manhattan? What tales could s/he regale us with? Just the addresses of late- or long-lamented magic shops and the characters who ran them would keep me going ... Flosso, Okito, and sure, Tannen's. (I myself have visited three of Tannen's locations prior to the current one; this dates me severely.)

I ordinarily hate Times Square but would love to return there to be shown where Houdini was hoisted, and how high, and with what manner of shackles. One block east, there's what's left (nothing, really) of the Hippodrome, where Harry was vanishing elephants and whatnot.

What a cool way to spend an afternoon! It's just a fantasy, but...who could you imagine leading such a tour (Ricky Jay for sure...others?), and what sites and "on this very spot" stories would you want to see and hear?
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Postby Don Spurrier » 06/25/02 04:28 PM

What a great tour...depending on the weather and temperature, of course. A lot of pre-tour scouting would have to be done. Where was the old Abbott's and the Holden's stores? Weren't they near the former Tannen's address? Obviously, the Cort Theater (Henning's "Magic Show") and the Hellinger (Merlin) are still there. They are, aren't they? The Palace is another thing. How many stories could be told there? Is it still standing? Great idea...sorry, no one will pay for the tour. Really, really, sorry. But,hey!...great idea!
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Postby Guest » 06/25/02 06:05 PM

Don't forget Richard Himber's apartment building: the Essex House. Of is it gone now? I visited him there in 1961.
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 06/25/02 08:39 PM

Oh, don't listen to any negativity, Ralph - believe me, you've found your new calling.

I'm not sure it's a walking tour, though. You might need some crazy-looking vehicle covered with vintage magic posters to raise interest and draw attention to your service.

You should do some first-rate conjuring in any "down time" as you travel the route.

And you should sell a souvineer book, with photo highlights of the tour, how to do a trick or two, and advertising from magic dealers looking for new enthusiasts, which you will create for them in abundance with your insightful magic commentary, sparkling but never-corny wit, and utterly baffling magical moves.

And could you get this together by next week?
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Postby Guest » 06/26/02 03:41 AM

Oh yeah...no sweat...and without letting any of the plates drop in my day job. This actually would have been a good addition to SAM's offerings (as a welcome break from the squalor of the Hilton) if someone had thought of it months ago. It would need a genuine magic history maven to pull it off. I'm just some guy.

Meanwhile: Essex House: yes. Cort Theater: yes. Palace: yes. Hellinger: gone or renamed.
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Postby Guest » 06/26/02 05:01 AM

BTW, Ricky Jay's "On the Stem" provides an imaginary walking tour (replete with moving cityscape backdrop) of precisely the sort I'm imagining, although he focuses on lesser-known scammers and variety artists rather than major magical lights.
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Postby Brad Jeffers » 06/26/02 01:50 PM

And don't overlook placing a chalk outline on the sidewalk, to denote the actual spot where world famous magician David Blaine entertained the nation, by falling face down and remaining perfectly still, for an incredible 90 seconds! :)
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Postby Guest » 06/26/02 02:43 PM

Well, if the Seinfeld tour includes the obligatory trip to the Soup Nazi, I suppose some Blaine-o-bilia is inevitable....

"And on this very spot, David Blaine spontaneously named the card his stooge was merely THINKING of!"
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Postby Matthew Field » 06/27/02 06:49 AM

When I was in college (CCNY), I used to visit Hubert's Flea Museum on 42nd Street just off Broadway, where I saw Presto (the great Earl Johnson, mentioned in the back pages of the July MAGIC mag), the Seal Boy, and Tiny Tim (the Human Canary) warbling his heart out. Also, of course, the wondrous fleas. Then a trip next door for some incredibly thin hamburgers and a great glass of birch beer, all for about a buck.

I recently saw the Ricky Jay show and Michael Canick (magic bookstore owner) in the audience, who was also a Hubert's habitue.

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Postby Pete Biro » 06/30/02 10:33 PM

Dunno if it is sad or not... but today's young young magidudes all wanna be David Blaine now instead of Copp... street magic and audience reactions is what they dig most...

None seem to want to dance around on stage and do incredibly complex illusions no mo... :p
Stay tooned.
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Postby Gary Brown » 07/05/02 09:30 PM

Admittedly, the idea of the walking tour might not sell on a regular basis, but certainly could have been marketed to, say, the attendees at the SAM convention.

Any NYC magical history tour must include the Houdini residence up on 114th(? - I'm doing this from memory) St. A few years ago, one NY newspaper did a feature story on Houdini's NY - highlighting various NY spots associated with Houdini - including his eerie gravesite on the Brooklyn-Queens border. Sometime I'll have to recount my trip there, which involved an escape-artist friend who defied some chains and locks in order to get us access . . .
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Postby Guest » 07/07/02 11:45 AM

If, as a lawyer, you're comfortable telling us how an escape artist expedited your access to Houdiniana, I'd love to hear about it.
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Postby Michael Edwards » 07/07/02 05:01 PM

Gary: I'm sure that any admission you gained was warranted ;)

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