In this Top Ten list I’ve selected ten of the most significant historical events to take place since 1900 and provided a glimpse of how Amsterdam’s media and people responded to each. In the preview below are two of those reactions, both involving historic manned flights. I will unveil the entire list in my new book which is scheduled for release later this year. In the meantime, make sure you subscribe to my free monthly Amsterdam Top Ten Newsletter for previews and reveals of more Amsterdam Top Ten Lists. You can sign up for the newsletter here.
Wright Brothers First Airplane Flight: December 17, 1903 – It took a little over five months for the Amsterdam Recorder to report the Wright Brothers flight to their readers. Even when they did, the article was just one paragraph long and buried midway down the fifth column on page 7 of the local paper’s May 27, 1904 edition. The lack of editorial urgency for such a landmark achievement was not unique to the Amsterdam newspaper. News of the successful flight trickled out, usually in short dribs and drabs with few details, much like the Recorder’s report reproduced here. It was not until 1908 when Wilbur’s test flight in France and Orville’s in Virginia convinced everyone the brothers had indeed conquered flight. Much more local attention would be paid to a much longer flight taken 66 years later.
Man Walks on the Moon for the first time: July 20, 1969 – Amsterdam, NY had a direct connection to one of mankind’s most historic events. When Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong descended the short ladder from the Eagle landing craft and became the first human to set foot on the Moon, it was a native of Amsterdam, NY who was as responsible as anyone for Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind.” Rocco Petrone, the 43-year-old director of the Apollo Program’s launch operations at Cape Kennedy was born in Amsterdam, NY in 1926 and left fatherless 18-months later, when his dad, a railroad employee had been hit by a train while working on the tracks just east of the city. Young Rocco went on to become a football star at Amsterdam High School and Salutatorian of his 1943 graduating class. An article, reprinted from the NY Post that appeared in the July 21, 1969 issue of the Recorder shown here, described Petrone as “the conductor of a large orchestra…Its his job to harmonize it all, men, machines, even the weather to make things go off without trouble.” Back in the summer of 1969, I can personally remember being completely surprised to find out that someone so critical to the success of this miraculous technological achievement had gone to the same high school I was about to enter in a few weeks time. It really made me proud of him and my city!