For quite awhile, I was puzzled by the inscription on the cornerstone of the handsome brick building at Broadway and 44th Street, “L.I.C. T.V. 1875.” Television? 1875? Some research revealed it has nothing to do with television: it is the Long Island City Turn Verein, or LIC Gymnastic Association, a sort of precursor to today’s Jack LaLanne (who was still tugging boats with his teeth in his 90s) or Lucille Roberts. From the Long Island Turners website:
On June 8, 1875 eight individuals met and organized the Long Island City Turn Verein at Koch’s Hall, N.E. Corner of Broadway and 9th Avenue [today’s 38th St] in Long Island City, N.Y. for the sole purpose of introducing and furthering German Turnerism (which embraces the philosophy of building a “Sound Mind in a Sound Body” fostered by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn in Germany). The society’s purpose was to educate its membership physically and mentally through gymnastic exercises and by encouraging use of the German language.
The building was begun in 1927 and completed the following year; the date the club was organized is already inscribed.
A clue to the building’s former purpose can be seen on a side door, with the chiseled word “gymnasium.” The society is now based in Nassau County, hence the name Long Island Turners.
Presently the building is occupied by the Chian Federation, an organization representing approximately 20,000 Chiotes (Greeks from the Aegean island of Chios) who live and work in the New York area. Nationwide, approximately 50,000 Chiotes are residents and citizens of the United States.