After I posted the photos, yesterday, of the Feast of SS Medici, of 1942, which was located on the 400 block of East 117th St. in East Harlem, I began to think about these saints, and what they meant to all of these people who gathered to venerate them. I googled them, and found lots of interesting information.! Here’s the scoop:

First, they were born in what is now known as Syria, in 260 A.D., and died in Syria, as martyrs circa 303, AD. They were excellent medical doctors, that never accepted monetary payment for their services. Their feast day occured on the 27th of September, at that time. Also, how they died is unbelieveable! (It’s worse than watching an episode of “The Blacklist.”) I found some interesting facts, on an Italian website, which describes how they were tortured on 5 separate occasions. On the 5th try, they were beheaded and finally died. Here is the excerpt, which is not for the faint of heart. Lol:

…After arrest and trial, the Saints were subjected to a series of cruel tortures, in the vain hope of making them withdraw from their firm resolve. As a first punishment, the flogging was imposed on them. Since the executioners were unable to apostatize them, tied hands and feet they were thrown into the sea by a high ravine with a large boulder hanging from the neck, to facilitate their sinking. Miraculously, however, the ties melted and the holy brothers surfaced on the surface safely, welcomed to the shore by a crowd of festive faithful, thanking God for the extraordinary event. Arrested again, they underwent other painful trials. Led before a burning furnace, they were immersed in the fire tied with sturdy chains. The flames, however, did not consume those holy limbs, that they came out once again unscathed and the fear of the soldiers in custody was such as to force them to flee precipitously. The book of the “Martyrology” informs us that “Saints Cosma and Damiano were martyred five times”. In fact, they went through the tests of drowning, of the burning furnace, of stoning, of flagellation, to end their earthly days with martyrdom in the year 303.

Here’s another interesting excerpt from Italy Magazine:

They might be two of the lesser-known saints of the Roman Catholic Church, but “I Santi Medici,” the Doctor Saints Cosma and Damiano are two of the most celebrated within the Bel Paese. On 26 September, places such as Gaeta (south of Rome), Taranto (Puglia), and Sferracavallo (outside of Palermo) hold various celebrations for these patron saints of doctors, pharmacists and surgeons.

The twin brothers were born in present-day Syria and quickly became known for their healing ways for which they accepted no payment; for this refusal, they are often called the “Silverless” or “Moneyless.” While practicing medicine, they also shared their Catholic faith with patients and gained a wide following.

Just like San Gennaro of Naples, Sts. Cosmas and Damian became martyrs during Diocletian’s persecution of Christians around 300 A.D. The twins, though subjected to torture using fire and water and were even placed on crosses, wouldn’t recant their faith. When the two remained miraculously uninjured through the ordeals, Diocletian ordered their beheadings.

Their remains were buried in Syria, and churches in their honor were built in their home country as well as in Jerusalem, Egypt, Mesopotamia and in Rome by Pope Felix IV; the sixth-century Basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano holds several valuable mosaics, and the twin doctor saints are still revered throughout Italy and the world.

Isn’t this fascinating stuff? I’m so grateful to Michael, one of my readers, who so graciously shared these wonderful vintage photos with me, and the rest of my readership! As the old saying goes, “every picture tells a story”. Well, in my opinion, the photos of the twin saints have so very much to tell! For instance, I wonder if the people that lived on East 117th Street, were primarily from the region of Puglia? I’m curious because, I read that these saints are venerated within that region of Italy. There are shrines for these saints in Madrid, Rome, and Bari, Italy. So, perhaps, there was a large population of East 117th Street, that immigrated from Bitonto, Bari, Puglia, Italy. Also, now I know the probable date of the East Harlem feast photos. We know the year, 1942, but now we know the date as well. It was Sunday, September 27th, which was the official feast date, according to the General Roman Calendar, pre-1970. Any thoughts?

Secrets of Mt. Rushmore: The Great Italian-American Master Sculptor, Luigi Del Bianco

Douglas Gladstone

Luigi Del Bianco in Gutzon Borglum's studio at Mount Rushmore with the models for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Notice the torso and full dress on Washington; Borglum had originally planned to make Rushmore more than just the four faces, but lack of funding, skilled laborers and faulty rock precluded that. (Photo courtesy of Del Bianco Family Collection)

Luigi Del Bianco in Gutzon Borglum’s studio at Mount Rushmore with the models for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Notice the torso and full dress on Washington; Borglum had originally planned to make Rushmore more than just the four faces, but lack of funding, skilled laborers and faulty rock precluded that. (Photo courtesy of Del Bianco Family Collection)

It’s a 1,727 mile drive from Italian Harlem, New York – between Pleasant Avenue to the east, First Avenue to the west, East 114th Street to the south and East 120th Street to the north — to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, in Keystone, South Dakota. If you’re taking I-80 and I-90 westbound you can do the trip in just under 25 hours. 

There’s no way to do the trip faster, just as to date, there hasn’t been a way to bridge the gap that exists between the United States Department of the Interior’s National Park Service (NPS) and the family of the late Luigi Del Bianco.

Del Bianco was the obscure immigrant from the Province of Pordenone, in Italy, who served as the chief carver of Mount Rushmore from 1933 through 1940. You read that right. An immigrant to these shores was the chief carver on what is widely considered to be one of the world’s most renowned sculptures.

But if you didn’t know that, you’re not alone.

That’s because the NPS doesn’t recognize Del Bianco as the chief carver.

Tasked with giving the four presidential faces their “refinement of expression” by no less than Rushmore sculptor and designer Gutzon Borglum himself, Del Bianco is specifically referred to as the chief carver by Borglum in a July 30, 1935 letter written by him that you can find in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.

“I have seen the letter in which Borglum refers to Del Bianco as chief carver,” Maureen McGee Ballinger, of tjhe NPS, told Denis Hamill of the New York Daily News last October. “But I consider Gutzon Borglum to be the chief carver.”

And Del Bianco?  He was just one of the workers under Borglum, says the NPS.

The policy of the Parks Service is that all 400 individuals who worked at the monument from 1927 through 1941 receive the same credit, irrespective of their jobs. While that’s very egalitarian, it also presupposes that the man who operated the elevator lift was as important as Del Bianco.

The Parks Service is clearly dropping the ball here. They could be telling this great narrative about an Italian American immigrant who in 1929 became a citizen of this country who is the chief carver on what is arguably the most iconic landmark in this nation. Since the agency has long been a proponent of multiculturalism and pluralism, such a position would be in keeping with their own mission.

Instead, the NPS continues to recognize only Borglum for his work at the monument.

Listen, nobody is attempting to take anything away from Gutzon Borglum. There wouldn’t be a Mount Rushmore without him. But imagine the individuals in Italian Harlem, not to mention the rest of the 2.7 million people in New York who identify as Italian Americans, who would puff up their chests with pride if they found out that one of their fellow landsmen was at long last recognized by the federal government as Mount Rushmore’s chief carver?

Imagine what pride that would engender among the 18 million Italian Americans in this country?

In West Hollywood, California, Luigi’s sole surviving child, his 69-year-old daughter, Gloria, just laments the situation. As happens with all of us, she is getting older with each passing day. And she wonders whether or not the recognition she has long sought will occur in her lifetime.

“I’m not ready to call it a slap in the face yet,” she says. “But I’m pretty close.”

Is it a slap in the face?  Only Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Midwestern Parks Administrator Patty Trapp know for sure.

Meanwhile, with every dashed hope, false promise and unanswered communication, that divide between the Del Bianco family and the government just keeps growing and growing.


Luigi lived for nearly a half-century in Port Chester, NY which still has an exceptionally large Italian American population. There is a plaque dedicated to him in a park in Port Chester, N.Y.

 This is the plaque dedicated to Luigi in a park in Port Chester, N.Y.

Luigi Del Bianco

This is the plaque dedicated to the memory of the great master sculptor, Luigi Del Bianco. It is located in a park in Port Chester, N.Y. (Westchester County.)

Douglas Gladstone

The front cover of Carving a Niche for Himself. The rare color photograph used was supplied by Gutzon Borglum’s granddaughter, Robin Borglum Carter; it shows Luigi Del Bianco working on Abraham Lincoln’s left eye (Photo courtesy of Borglum Archives).

Douglas Gladstone author

Author, Douglas Gladstone.

Author’s Note: To purchase books directly through Bordighera Press, folks can call Rebecca Rizzo directly at 212-642-2001

Luigi (left) and Primo Carnera, who won the heavyweight boxing championship at Madison Square Garden on June 27, 1933. Carnera was from the neighboring village of Sequalls in the Italian Province of Pordenone. (Courtesy of the Del Bianco Family Collection)

Luigi (left) and Primo Carnera, who won the heavyweight boxing championship at Madison Square Garden on June 27, 1933. Carnera was from the neighboring village of Sequalls in the Italian Province of Pordenone. (Courtesy of the Del Bianco Family Collection)

Douglas Gladstone

Sad and Unfortunate news from NYC’s Little Italy. Let’s Help Adele Sarno, by writing a letter/email to her landlord, …They , must cease from evicting Adele!

Let’s help Adele to preserve her home! Here is the contact information for Adele’s landlord:

Italian American Museum

155 Mulberry Street
(Corners of Mulberry & Grand Streets)
New York, NY 10013

For more information please call (212) 965-9000
or fax (347) 810-1028
or email Adele Sarno's aptAdele Sarno

East Harlem Giglio Society

East Harlem Giglio Society20130804-125615.jpg

Map Symbols: Showing Multivariate Data with Texture

Here are detailed maps of the population and demographics of NYC, way back in 1894.

Making Maps: DIY Cartography


Map of New York City, Showing the Distribution of the Principal Nationalities by Sanitary Districts published in Harper’s Weekly (January 5, 1895, pp. 60–61) using 1890 U.S. Census data.

This map looks great, revealing a substantial amount of information with its intense, juxtaposed patterns.

The textures on the map show the relative amounts of different nationalities (qualitative data) in each of the areas (sanitary districts) on the map:


The map shows if a district has more or less diversity (more or fewer lines of different textures), the relative proportions of different nationalities, the nationalities themselves, and, at a broader scale, the districts that are similar or differ in their nationality constitution. Because of the careful rotation of the lines of textures, the different sanitary districts can also be distinguished from each other.

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Save the Dates! August 8-11: Giglio Society of East Harlem’s “2013 Festa di Giglio di Sant’Antonio”

Festa di Giglio of EH-2013

An East Harlem Scene from “The Godfather”: Sonny Corleone(James Caan) beats up his brother-in-law Carlo(Gianni Russo.)

The Godfather Movie:Click on this link to view YouTube video-  Sonny Corleone(James Caan) beats up his brother-in-law Carlo(Gianni Russo.)

In this scene from The Godfather, James Caan seeks revenge for the unmerciful beating of his pregnant sister, Connie Rizzi. He heads for East Harlem’s E. 118th Street, to brutally beat up his wife-beating brother-in-law Carlo Rizzi(played by Gianni Russo.)

The scene was filmed on the 500 block of East 118th Street. My family and I lived there before this movie was filmed. The stoop that Carlo(wearing an orange and tan suit) is standing on-before he attempts to run from crazed Sonny, is 503 East 118th Street.

 Note of Trivia: Most of the principal photography took place from March 29, 1971 to August 6, 1971, although a scene with Pacino and Keaton was shot in the autumn. There were a total of 77 days of shooting, fewer than the 83 for which the production had budgeted. (

This particular scene was filmed in the summer of 1971.(My educated guess, based on the filming timeline, and the fact that the children are being soaked by the “johnny pump.”) Ahun 18 Gianni Russo503 E. 118 The Godfather

East Harlem Evening Scene c.1940, by Daniel Ralph Celentano-East Harlem Born and Raised!

 East Harlem Evening Scene c.1940, by Daniel Ralph Celentano-East Harlem Born and Raised!

Celentano, at the age of 12, was Thomas Hart Benton’s first and youngest student. He attended Parson’s School of Design and the National Academy of Design, both in New York. His work often focused on East Harlem, as the subject matter of his drawings, paintings and murals. He was born and raised in the predominantly Italian neighborhood known as East Harlem. He exhibited at many of the major museums as an accomplished American Scene painter during the WPA and WWII era.
(Click on photo to enter source site.)