The Real Wall Street

Posted by on Dec 8, 2013 in Historical Puzzles

Wall Street houses the public face of financial trading in the United States. But the big decisions are made elsewhere. Sure, millionaires and billionaires are made on Wall Street, but who is pulling the strings and who is picking the winners and flushing them with more capital than they know what to do with? Who decides who runs the banks? Who decides which face gets to the top? You might think such decisions are made in Washington, perhaps at the offices of members of the Congressional Financial Services Committee, but that’s not the full story. Perhaps the decisions are made at the Greenwich, Connecticut, homes of the eight billionaires recently listed as resident there by Forbes, but there’s another location even more important than that. The most important decisions are made at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street in what is now the Flatiron District of Manhattan. The seventeen storey Masonic building there has a 1,200 seat theatre, as well as a dozen other Lodge Rooms. What, you didn’t think they’d need all that space? Well, there are over 60,000 Freemasons in New York State and the largest meetings in the United States are held there in Midtown Manhattan. So how do I know that the key decisions for the financial future of the United States and the Western world are made there? Most of the leaders of the Western financial community are Freemasons. I mean the global CEO’s, not your local bank manager, though many of them are also Freemasons. And Freemasons help each other in business. They meet together to do that, as well as to do all the other stuff men do when the get together. Like tell each other how great they are and swop funny handshakes. We’re not allowed talk religion or politics at a lodge meeting, I was told by a prominent Freemason. Check the link above for confirmation of this. He never said anything about not talking about business. And don’t let any of the foot-soldier Freemasons persuade you otherwise, they aren’t told what goes on at the top. Freemasons live by 17th century standards of network security; blood oaths and life or death promises. To suggest that senior Freemasons don’t agree mergers, decide on when to start and stop the money printing and agree who gets the plum jobs on Wall Street this time is more than naïve, it is wilfully blind. But what is wrong with that, I hear the Freemasons among you say, someone has to do it? My objection focuses on the principle of transparency, which has slowly gained ground in the corporate, government lobbying, judicial and medical arenas. Transparency mean that things are done in the open. It means that secret deals are less likely to happen. It means merit and what is right and wrong are likely to be considered, not cast aside in favour...

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The Secrets of Manhattan #4 What did the 1st President of the United States do in Manhattan?

Posted by on Aug 13, 2013 in Historical Puzzles, Mystery Novels, The Manhattan Puzzle

This post is part of a series I wrote in the run up to the launch of The Manhattan Puzzle in October 2013. They describe some of the most interesting things I have discovered about Manhattan during my research. The Manhattan Puzzle is available for in many countries here. The fourth secret of Manhattan I am intrigued by is what the 1st President of the United States did during the week before his inauguration. George Washington was a Freemason from the age of 20 in Virginia in 1752. He became Master of a lodge in 1788. On April 23rd, 1789 he arrived by barge at Murray’s Wharf near Wall Street where thousands had gathered to greet him. New York was to be the scene of the inauguration of the 1st President of the United States. He went to stay at 3 Cherry Street, not far away in Lower Manhattan. This was a four storey mansion, which became the first executive mansion of the President. It would be one week, April 30th 1789, before the inauguration was held at the Federal Hall on Wall Street. During that week there were a number of important engagements for him to undertake. Some of these would, without doubt, have involved Freemasons. A certain location for one of those engagements would have been uptown at the Masonic Building and Hall at the junction of 6th Avenue and West 23rd Street, where the current Masonic Headquarters for New York stands, though the current building was built in 1875 a hundred years after the building Washington visited was established. The current building includes a 1200 seat auditorium. If you wonder where your boss goes of an evening, and your work in Manhattan, this could be where you’ll find him. On the night before his inauguration, a Wednesday night, there was likely a meeting at the Masonic Hall on 6th Avenue, and afterwards a small group would have moved to a hostelry for drinks. Crowds were already gathering downtown at Cherry Street, so a few hours away from the public pressure and in discussion with his close advisers are likely to have been on the agenda for Washington. Where he went that Wednesday night is unknown, but one location that he may have dropped into was the Freemasons Arms further uptown, near a junction on the main road leading into the city (6th Avenue & 42nd Street), and close to where Lexington Avenue is now, in the sparsely populated, farms and orchards in the upper reaches of Manhattan island (map). He is also likely to have visited Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan at some point during that week. This was where he had held a feast after the British evacuated New York in the American Revolutionary War. I claim no secret knowledge of where Washington visited during what must have been an extraordinary and anticipation filled week, but I...

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Literary Mysteries at a UNESCO City of Literature event in Dublin

Posted by on Nov 6, 2012 in Research

Author of The Istanbul Puzzle, Laurence O’Bryan, discussed some literary mysteries with’s Kevin Flanagan as part of the UNESCO City of Literature series of events in Dublin at Freemasons’ Hall, Molesworth Street, Dublin in late 2012. For any of you who didn’t make it below is the Q&A I prepared. There were some extra questions on the night, and a reading of Chapters One from The Jerusalem puzzle, but you will get a good idea of the event from this post: Kevin:                   Are you a freemason, Laurence? Laurence:            No, but I want to thank the organisation for allowing us to use their building this evening. I find this hall fascinating. The whole building is a museum, an architectural gem of Victorian Dublin. The relevance of Masonry is not for me to make any judgements on, but I think if we knew more about their historical role in Ireland’s affairs it would be a good thing. Kevin:                   Would you consider yourself to be writing literary mysteries? Laurence:            Yes. Mysteries are distinguished by the reader not knowing what is going to happen or who murdered the victim. Mysteries often start with a murder as The Istanbul Puzzle does. Stories which are mostly thrillers look forward to an event, an assassination for instance, and make you want to read on to find out will it happen. These are the traditional definitions of these two categories of crime novels. Kevin:                   Is the mystery novel worthy of a place in the canons of literature? Laurence:            I will quote something from a book called The Technique of the Mystery Story. “A liking for mystery is not a mark of poor taste or an indication of inferior intellect. Its readers form an audience greatly misunderstood by other literary people, whose mentality lacks this bent. But what especial audience is not misunderstood. Do not many people say to music lovers, “I don’t see how you can sit through Parsifal? Do not some scoff at people who trail through art galleries, catalogue in hand?” Kevin:                   When was that written? Laurence:            1913. And it goes on to say, “Supercilious persons who profess to have a high regard for the dignity of literature are loath to admit that detective stories belong to the category of serious writing.” So there has been a long debate about the place of the mystery story in literature. That tract went on to say “We must consider the rightful place of the mystery story in fiction. It is neither below nor above the other types of story, but side by side with character studies, society sketches or symbolic romances.” Kevin:                   Let’s move forward a little. What is this mystery about the Big Sleep? Laurence:            Raymond Chandler is acknowledged as one of the finest crime and mystery writers. He wrote novels, and for Hollywood. The...

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