However, "Bronx is burning" was a New York (NY) Times editorial and a BBC documentary, both in 1974. "Bronx is burning" was already a known phrase when Howard Cosell was supposed to have said it in October 1977.
Wikipedia: Howard Cosell
Howard William Cosell (/koʊˈsɛl/; born Howard William Cohen; March 25, 1918 – April 23, 1995) was an American sports journalist who was widely known for his blustery, cocksure personality. Cosell said of himself, "Arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, verbose, a showoff. I have been called all of these. Of course, I am." In its obituary for Cosell, The New York Times described Cosell's impact on American sports coverage: "He entered sports broadcasting in the mid-1950s, when the predominant style was unabashed adulation, [and] offered a brassy counterpoint that was first ridiculed, then copied until it became the dominant note of sports broadcasting."
"The Bronx is Burning"
Cosell was widely attributed with saying the famous phrase "the Bronx is burning". Cosell is credited with saying the quote during Game 2 of the 1977 World Series, which took place in Yankee Stadium on October 12, 1977. For a couple of years, fires had routinely erupted in the South Bronx, mostly due to low-value property owners setting their own properties ablaze for insurance money. During the bottom of the first inning, ABC aerial camera panned a few blocks from Yankee Stadium to a building on fire, giving the world a real life view of the infamous Bronx fires. The scene became a defining image of New York City in the 1970s. Cosell supposedly stated, "There it is, ladies and gentlemen, The Bronx is burning."
In 2005, author Jonathan Mahler published Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning, a book on New York in 1977, and credited Cosell with saying the title quote during the aerial coverage of the fire. ESPN produced a 2007 mini-series based on the book called The Bronx is Burning. Cosell's comment seemed to have captured the widespread view that New York City was on the skids and in a state of decline.
The truth was discovered after Major League Baseball published a complete DVD set of all of the games of the 1977 World Series. Coverage of the fire begins with Keith Jackson commenting on the large size of the blaze, while Cosell added that President Carter had visited that area just days before. As the top of the second inning began, the fire was once again shown from a helicopter-mounted camera, and Cosell commented that the New York Fire Department had a hard job to do in the Bronx as there was always numerous fires. In the bottom of the second, Cosell informed the audience that it was an abandoned building that was burning and no lives were in danger. There was no further comment on the fire, and Cosell appears to have never said "The Bronx is Burning" (at least not on camera) during Game 2.
Mahler's confusion could have arisen from a 1974 documentary entitled "The Bronx is Burning": it is likely Mahler confused the documentary with his recollection of Cosell's comments when writing his book.
OCLC WorldCat record
The Bronx is burning.
Author: British Broadcasting Corporation. Television Service.; Time-Life Films.
Publisher: New York : Time-Life Multimedia, 1974.
Edition/Format: Film : Film Visual material : EnglishView all editions and formats
Documents the daily activities of Engine Company 82 of the South Bronx, drawing attention to the dangers these men face every day. Includes interviews with firemen who explain what their job means to them.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's Speech on Affordable Housing in New York City
The Enterprise Foundation's 2004 Network Conference at the Marriott Marquis
October 14, 2004
I want to thank Shaun Donovan for that kind introduction. He's not only an eloquent speaker; he's also a highly effective City Commissioner, who is doing an extraordinary job directing New York's affordable housing policy.
Now, to all of you who are here from out of town.
Welcome to New York.
Take it from the mayor: There's never a bad time to visit our city. But there really is something special about "autumn in New York." For a lot of New Yorkers - me included - October means championship baseball in the Bronx. Last night, the Yankees continued to battle the Red Sox for the American League pennant - writing one more chapter in the greatest rivalry in professional sports.
But those of us who are of a certain age can remember another October ballgame in the Bronx that wasn't so glorious. It was during the 1977 World Series. It was a night game, and Howard Cosell was in the broadcast booth. And speaking to a national audience, he directed the television cameras away from the action on the field, and toward a building being consumed by fire just a few blocks from the stadium.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "The Bronx is burning."
It was a bleak picture in a disheartening time, because the harsh truth was that whole blocks in the South Bronx, and in other communities in our city, were being vandalized, abandoned,
and even going up in flames.
OCLC WorldCat record
Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning : 1977, baseball, politics, and the battle for the soul of a city
Author: Jonathan Mahler
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English : 1st ed
By early 1977, the metropolis was in the grip of hysteria caused by a murderer dubbed "Son of Sam." And on a sweltering night in July, a citywide power outage touched off an orgy of looting and arson that led to the largest mass arrest in New York's history. As the turbulent year wore on, the city became absorbed in two epic battles: the fight between Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson and team manager Billy Martin, and the battle between Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo for the city's mayoralty. Buried beneath these parallel conflicts, one for the soul of baseball, the other for the soul of the city, was the subtext of race. The brash and confident Jackson took every black myth and threw it back in white America's face. Meanwhile, Koch and Cuomo ran bitterly negative campaigns that played upon urbanites' fears of soaring crime and falling municipal budgets. These braided stories tell the history of a year that saw the opening of Studio 54, the evolution of punk rock, and the dawning of modern SoHo. As the pragmatist Koch defeated the visionary Cuomo and as Reggie Jackson finally rescued a team racked with dissension,1977 became a year of survival but also of hope. -- Publishers description.
New York (NY) Times
April 24, 2005
'Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning': That 70's Show
By JON MEACHAM
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE BRONX IS BURNING
1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City.
By Jonathan Mahler.
Illustrated. 356 pp. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $25.
After a fire broke out in a school near Yankee Stadium during the 1977 World Series, Howard Cosell seemed to capture far more than a passing news story when he said on the air, ''There it is, ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning'' -- at once encapsulating the era and giving Mahler his eventual title.
(PROQUEST HISTORICAL NEWSPAPERS) ("Bronx is burning")
1.South Bronx Is Burning
By James P. Brown. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Dec 24,
1974. p. 19 (1 page)
2.TV: CBS on C.I.A., and BBC'S 'Bronx Is Burning'
By JOHN J. O'CONNOR. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Jun 13,
1975. p. 75 (1 page)
3.The 'old neighborhood' is burning
Donald Kirk. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file). Chicago, Ill.: Jun 15, 1975.
p. 20 (1 page)
4.Television This Week; OF SPECIAL INTEREST
New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Jun 15, 1975. p. D25 (2
New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Jun 16, 1975. p. 53 (1 page)
6.Letters to the Editor
New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Jun 20, 1975. p. 34 (1 page) :
Why the South Bronx Is Burning.
New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Jun 25, 1975. p. 87 (1 page)
8.Highlights; SUNDAY June 29
The Washington Post (1974-Current file). Washington, D.C.: Jun 29, 1975. p. 171
9.Other 46 -- No Title
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Aug 10, 1975. p. O5
10.The sickness of the city; The Year The Big Apple Went Bust The Big Apple
By PETE HAMILL. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Jun 20,
1976. p. 188 (2 pages)
11.Highlignts; THURSDAY September 2
The Washington Post (1974-Current file). Washington, D.C.: Aug 29, 1976. p. 183
12.TV Highlights; TV Movies TV Movies
The Washington Post (1974-Current file). Washington, D.C.: Sep 2, 1976. p. C15
13.Other 83 -- No Title
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Jul 31, 1977. p. L22
14.Other 77 -- No Title
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Jul 31, 1977. p. L6
15.Other 7 -- No Title
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Aug 6, 1977. p. B2