TIME Internet

New Google Doodle Honors Opening of Eiffel Tower

Floriane Marchix—Google New Google Doodle honoring the 126th anniversary of the public opening of the Eiffel Tower

The Parisian centerpiece was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over four decades

Once contemptuously referred to as “a truly tragic street lamp,” the Eiffel Tower of Paris, France, was opened on March 31, 1889, and to celebrate the 126th anniversary a new Google Doodle has been created in its honor.

Construction of the iron lattice structure, named after engineer Gustave Eiffel, began on Jan. 28, 1887. Despite the early protests, the tower was an instant hit, with an estimated 30,000 people climbing its steps in the first weeks — before even an elevator was installed.

Eventually, it grew into a worldwide landmark; as TIME wrote during last year’s 125th anniversary celebrations, “the tower became more than a tower, and more than a symbol of Paris.”

At 1,063 ft. high, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over four decades, until it was surpassed by New York City’s Chrysler Building in 1930.

The Doodle itself features a group of supposedly French painters hanging precariously from the tower as they beautify the Grande Dame of Paris.

TIME Israel

7 Children Killed in House Fire Brought to Israel for Burial

Fatal Brooklyn Fire
Julio Cortez—AP Mourners attend funeral services for the seven siblings killed in a house fire in Brooklyn on March 22, 2015

The family had moved about a year and a half ago from East Jerusalem

(NEW YORK) — The bodies of seven siblings who died in a house fire are headed to Israel for burial, a day after their sobbing father told mourners in his ultra-Orthodox Jewish community how much joy they had brought him.

“They were so pure,” Gabriel Sassoon said Sunday of his children during a eulogy. “My wife, she came out fighting.”

Flames engulfed the family’s two-story, brick-and-wood home in Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood early Saturday, likely after a hot plate left on a kitchen counter set off the fire that trapped the children and badly injured their mother and another sibling, investigators said.

The tragedy had some neighborhood Jews reconsidering the practice of keeping hot plates on for the Sabbath, a common modern method of obeying tradition prohibiting use of fire on the holy day.

The service at the Shomrei Hadas funeral home began with prayers in Hebrew, accompanied by the wailing voices of mourners. They could be heard through speakers that broadcast the rite to thousands of people gathered outside on the streets in traditional black robes and flat-brimmed hats.

After the funeral, mourners hugged the sides of SUVs with flashing lights that took the bodies of the children, ages 5 to 16 — accompanied by their father — to John F. Kennedy International Airport for the flight to Israel.

Sassoon’s surviving wife and a daughter — Gayle Sassoon and 14-year-old Siporah Sassoon — remained in critical condition on respirators.

“My children were unbelievable. They were the best,” Sassoon said at their funerals, calling them “angels.”

Authorities identified the victims as girls Eliane, 16; Rivkah, 11; and Sara, 6; and boys David, 12; Yeshua, 10; Moshe, 8; and Yaakob, 5.

“Eliane was a spirited child. Rivkah, she had so much joy,” their father said.

Rivkah “gave joy to everybody,” he said. “And David, he was so fun.”

Yeshua was “always trying to make others happy,” as was Yaakob, Sassoon said.

At the time of the fire, Sassoon — a religious education instructor — was in Manhattan at a Shabbaton, an educational retreat.

The hot plate was left on for the Sabbath, which lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Many religious Jews use one to keep food warm, obeying the traditional prohibition on use of fire on the holy day as well as work in all forms, including turning on appliances.

The Sassoons’ hot plate apparently malfunctioned, setting off flames that tore up the stairs, trapping the children in their second-floor bedrooms as they slept, investigators said.

A neighbor, Karen Rosenblatt, said she called 911 after seeing flames and smoke billowing from the home. Her husband said he heard “what seemed like a young girl scream, ‘Help me! Help me!'” she said.

Firefighters arrived in less than four minutes and discovered the badly burned and distraught mother pleading for help, officials said. When they broke in the door, they encountered a raging fire that had spread through the kitchen, dining room, common hall, stairway leading upstairs and the rear bedrooms.

“I couldn’t help crying my heart out as I saw the house,” said Dalia Hen, 51, a Midwood neighbor. “It’s like our own children.”

State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents Midwood, said he’s hearing from more and more people concerned about use of the hot plates on Sabbath. He said he called his daughter, who has six children and uses a hot plate, and told her, “You’ve got to stop using that.”

“This is an important wakeup call for people, because it may save your life or the life of your children,” he said.

Shifra Schorr, 44, a mother of five a few blocks from the Sassoon house, said she and her friends don’t use hot plates, but “we’re all talking about it.”

Earlier at the family’s fire-gutted home on Bedford Avenue, a police officer stood guard as contractors boarded up windows with plywood.

Across the street from the Sassoon home, 89-year-old Izzy Abade said he’d watched Gayle Sassoon grow up, then her children.

“They used to play right across the street, riding bikes, playing in the backyard, playing ball.”

The family had moved about a year and a half ago from East Jerusalem, a contested part of the city where both Arabs and Jews live.

“There’s only one way to survive this,” Gabriel Sassoon said of his children’s deaths. “There is only total and complete, utter surrender.”

TIME cities

Salt Lake City and Austin Ranked Best for Job Creation in U.S.

New York City is dead last among the top 50 metro areas

Salt Lake City, Utah, and Austin, Texas, topped the rankings for job creation across all U.S. cities in 2014, according to a poll by research-based consulting company Gallup. They are followed by San Francisco, whose Bay Area is home to tech giants like Apple, Google and Facebook, while another Texas city, Houston, and Orlando, Fla., round off the top five.

The nation’s financial powerhouse New York City, meanwhile, ranked dead last among the top 50 metro areas, joined by San Diego, Calif., and Hartford, Conn., in the bottom three.

The poll was done through a telephone survey of over 200,000 randomly selected participants across the country, who were divided into Metropolitan Statistical Areas that were then assigned a “Job Creation Index” score. Among the top 50, these scores ranged from 37 for Utah and Austin to 20 for Hartford, San Diego and New York.

While U.S. job creation on the whole has been improving since the 2009 recession, the trend among the cities with high job creation appears to be an increasing demand in the technology sector. Housing and construction jobs are also growing in the top two cities to meet the increasing demands placed on them by the work force, Gallup said.

TIME stocks

The Average Wall Street Bonus Was $172,860 in 2014

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly before the end of the day's trading in New York July 31, 2013
Lucas Jackson—Reuters A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly before the end of the day's trading in New York July 31, 2013

But that's only a 2% rise on the previous year

Despite falling profits, the average bonus on Wall Street rose to $172,860 last year, according to a report released Wednesday by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

That marks a 2% increase from 2013 and is the highest average payout since 2007 — right before the financial crisis.

The bump comes as estimated pre-tax profits fell by 4.5% from $16.7 billion in 2013 to $16 billlion last year.

“The cost of legal settlements related to the 2008 financial crisis continues to be a drag on Wall Street profits, but the securities industry remains profitable and well-compensated even as it adjusts to regulatory changes,” DiNapoli said in a press release.

The New York Office of the State Comptroller, whose main duty is to audit government operations and operate the retirement system, has been tracking the average bonus paid on Wall Street for nearly three decades. When it began recording in 1986, the average payout was $14,120. The highest average bonus was $191,360 in 2006.

After two years of job losses, the industry added 2,300 jobs in 2014 to a total of 167,800 workers.

TIME Transportation

Cab Drivers No Longer Required to Learn N.Y.C.’s Streets

Taxi cab
Getty Images

Both technology and competition from services like Uber and Lyft may explain the change

Prospective New York City taxi drivers are no longer required to master the city’s streets, according to a new report.

Difficult geography questions have disappeared from the once 80-question test administered by The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) on the nuances of the city’s roadways before winning a coveted license, the New York Times reports. Technology such as GPS and competition from car services like Uber and Lyft contributed to the change, the report finds.

In recent years, GPS has made it easy for a taxi driver to get from one point to another without much knowledge of city streets.

But experts interviewed by the Times said that the rise of competition from services like Uber has forced the commission’s hand to encourage more people to apply to drive a taxi.

[NYT]

TIME celebrities

Taylor Swift Donates $50,000 to New York City’s Public Schools

Taylor Swift visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in New York City on Feb. 17, 2015.
Theo Wargo/NBC—Getty Images Taylor Swift visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in New York City on Feb. 17, 2015.

Part of her "Welcome to New York" campaign

Taylor Swift has come through on a pledge, made last fall, to donate proceeds from her popular song “Welcome to New York” to the city’s public schools.

Swift, 25, has made a $50,000 donation to the New York City Department of Education, an official there confirmed to Capital New York. The singer herself has yet to confirm that publicly.

The recent N.Y.C. transplant made the promise last October in an appearance on The View. “It’s selling really, really well, which is good because I’m donating all my proceeds to New York City public schools,” she said at the time.

It was not immediately clear if the $50,000 represents Swift’s full take from the song’s profits, or if this is a first installment of a larger donation.

Swift – who has topped DoSomething.org’s “Celebs Gone Good” list, recognizing the most philanthropic stars, for three years running – also held an event last fall with N.Y.C. schoolkids to talk about the power of reading and writing.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME weather

See a Bird’s Eye View of the Frozen Tundra That Is New York City

It's very cold in New York this weekend. How cold? Check out these aerial images of a frosty Hudson River and more.

MONEY Autos

How New York’s Proposed Toll Hikes Stack Up Against Other Cities’

bridges over Hudson river
Brett Beyer—Getty Images

The tolls faced by New York City drivers today are expensive, and could get even pricier if a new proposal on the table is approved. Still, in the grand scheme, the city's tolls are cheap compared to some other places in the world.

This week, a transit advocacy group introduced the Move NY Fair Plan, a proposal to add and tweak driving fees around Manhattan in order to address what it describes as an “unfair, regressive tolling system,” while also easing traffic congestion and raising $1.5 billion annually to fund transportation infrastructure. The gist of the proposal, as summed up by the New York Times, the Times Herald-Record, and others, is that some bridge tolls would get cheaper while a few new tolls would be added according to “a logical formula: higher tolls where transit options are most available and lower tolls where transit is either not available or a less viable option.”

The plan calls for tolls to be added to four bridges that cross the East River but traditionally have been toll-free: Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queensboro, and Williamsburg. Vehicles would also start being hit with a fee when they cross 60th Street northbound or southbound in Manhattan. In both cases, the new tolls would run $5.54 each way for E-ZPass users, and $8 for others. Meanwhile, tolls on a few other New York City bridges, including the Verrazano Narrows, Throgs Neck, and Bronx-Whitestone, would be reduced by $2.50 for E-ZPass holders.

The overarching argument in favor of the changes is that the existing system of tolls and transit fares isn’t sufficient to fund infrastructure needs, and that today’s tolls are just plain unfair. Hence the proposed “Fair Plan.”

But how “fair” would the new tolls be compared to what drivers face elsewhere? The proposal—which for now is just that, a proposal that may not win much support in the city or Albany—would have no effect whatsoever on the bridges and tunnels run by the Port Authority, including the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, among others. If the plan is approved, the East River Bridge tolls—again, $5.54 each way with E-ZPass, so $11.08 round trip—would be cheaper than a Port Authority bridge or tunnel crossing into New York during peak commuting hours ($11.75), but pricier than an off-peak trip ($9.75).

Among other pricey bridges and tunnels around the U.S. and abroad:

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: The $15 toll during peak season (Friday to Monday, May 15 to September 15) is quite pricey, but hey, this engineering wonder connecting Virginia’s Eastern Shore to Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach is 20 miles long.

Golden Gate Bridge: At a cost of $6 to $7 only for cars heading into San Francisco, the Golden Gate doesn’t charge as if it’s one of America’s most famous landmarks.

Whittier Tunnel: This 2.5-mile passage in between Anchorage, Alaska, and Whittier and Prince William Sound is the longest highway tunnel in the U.S., and it only has one lane that must be shared by cars and trains. The cost of driving through in a standard vehicle is $12 one way.

Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge: Also known as Pearl Bridge, Japan’s Akashi-Kaikyo has the world’s longest central span of any suspension bridge, at 1.2 miles. Driving across costs 2,300 Yen, which is around $20 per vehicle today. The toll used to be closer to $30 back in the days when the American dollar wasn’t quite as strong.

Mont Blanc Tunnel: This passage crossing the France-Italy border in the Alps is impressive for two key data points. The tunnel stretches a total of 7.2 miles, and driving through costs about $49 one way.

As for the idea that drivers in the New York City area be charged not for crossing a body of water but simply for entering or exiting Manhattan’s CBD (central business district), Singapore, Milan, London, and Stockholm have had similar toll systems in place for years. London’s “congestion pricing” scheme has been in place since 2003. Back then, the daily charge for driving in central London was £5, or about $7.75 today. The driving surcharge has since increased, hitting £11.50 ($18) last summer.

Compared to that, the $5.54 charge to drive into lower Manhattan just might seem cheap.

TIME Crime

New York City’s Record Murder-Free Streak Ends After 12 Days

A NYPD patrol vehicle is seen near the Marcy Houses public housing development in the Brooklyn borough of New York
Stephanie Keith—Reuters A New York Police Department patrol vehicle is seen near the Marcy Houses public housing development in the Brooklyn borough of New York January 9, 2015.

Eric Roman was shot in Queens on Friday and died the next day

An unusually long run of days without a murder in New York City ended Saturday just shy of two weeks.

The New York Police Department believes this 12-day stretch was the longest without a homicide since the early ’90s, though last February saw a comparably long streak of 10 days.

Eric Roman was shot outside of his home in Queens on Friday and died of his wounds in a hospital on Saturday, the New York Times reports. The same day, another Queens man was found dead in his basement with head trauma, though that case has not yet been ruled a homicide.

Officials believe cold weather is the primary cause for these extended periods of quiet, and the shooting rate isn’t down year over year—136 people have been shot in New York as of Saturday this year, compared to 110 in the same period last year.

But while shootings are up, the murder rate is on the decline: homicides are down 2.5% year-to-date as of Feb. 8, and 82.4% since 1993.

[NYT]

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