Oil Tanker Fire

The ship was longer than three football stadiums lined end to end. She was valued at $45 million and carried 270,000 tons of hazardous crude oil. Her name was the Atlantic Empress and when she collided with the Aegean Captain, another fully laden supertanker, on July 19, the result was catastrophe: the worst oil tanker spill in history and a blaze that took firefighters over two weeks to extinguish.

Bowery Church Fire

On July 27, 1978, Manhattan Borough Commander John J. Fogarty faced a difficult fire at the 179-year old Episcopal Church, St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery, a New York City landmark that is the oldest site of continuous worship in the city.

From the Editor 30: Lies

Looking for lies and liars

I always remember the moment in the TV show Ironside, when the wily, wheelchair-bound detective played by Raymond Burr, summed up a stumbling block in his investigation of a murder. “The problem with believing what isn’t so,” he said, “is you keep asking yourself questions you can’t answer.”

From the Editor 29: Boards


April Fool’s Day came a day early for me this year.

March 31 began darkly. It was a rainy Thursday morning, and I was standing at the end of a line of people boarding a southbound M60 bus on Amsterdam Avenue and 122nd Street. The line moved up, the woman in front of me stepped onto the bus, and I had my hands in front of me, getting my MetroCard out of my wallet…

From the Editor 28: Recalls

Special sessions, special lessons

I felt like a spy. And no wonder: I was a spy. I had been talking to a shareholder who lived in a large co-op complex about a special meeting that was being staged to vote on the removal of three board members. I asked him if I could attend the meeting, to see what was going on as material for a story I was writing on special elections…

From the Editor 27: Sublets


“Hey, Tom,” my brother Pete said to me softly. “Look over there. Isn’t that Barbara Feldon?” He pointed across the crowded theater lobby at a tall woman chatting with a couple of people. Sure enough, it was “Agent 99” from a favorite TV comedy, Get Smart…

From the Editor 26: Paranoia

On People, Policy, and Paranoia

I was on the No 1 local as it slowly pulled into the 96th Street station. There was an express train waiting across the platform. Our conductor made an announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, we will be here for some time. The express across from us will be leaving immediately. If possible, take the express.”

From the Editor 18: Tenure


It all started with a handshake.

If you’ll pardon me for getting nostalgic, this month is my 28th anniversary editing and writing for Habitat magazine. In April 1982, I was 25 and had been without a full-time job for a year or so…

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From the Editor 11: Neighbors

“What are you doing?” I called out in the night.

My girlfriend was standing by the window of our darkened bedroom, peering out into the alleyway.

“There are two guys on the roof of that building,” she said, indicating the small, two-story structure that abutted our six-story co-op and the building next door. “They’re doing some kind of work.”…

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