Original footage of the Yule Log via WPIX-TV
If you grew up in a house without a fireplace, there’s a good chance the Yule Log played on the television during Christmas. This somewhat strange annual broadcast was, in fact, created for homeowners longing for the glow of a hearth, but also as a way to give station employees some time off. So in 1966, WPIX Channel 11 set up a camera at Gracie Mansion, then occupied by Mayor Lindsay, and filmed one of the home’s flickering fireplaces for 17 seconds using 16 millimeter film. It was spliced together into a three-hour loop with holiday carols playing in the background, and there the Yule Log was born on Christmas Eve at 9:30pm. This same footage ran for four years, but but when WPIX wanted to do a new shoot at the Mayor’s residence, it was an Oriental rug that halted the plans.