What’s holding Central Park together?

Answer: The four Corners!

Grand Army Plaza, Columbus Circle, Frederick Douglass Circle, and the Duke Ellington Circle are at the four corner’s of this famous park.

The two most popular corner landmarks are the Grand Army Plaza and the Columbus Circle. The Frederick Douglas and Duke Ellinton circles are further north and usually less frequented. There are 20 gates (entrances) that open up into the park.

I encourage you to go well within the edges of the park, as the it is a favorite place of both tourists and locals alike and has ponds, sculptures, archways, meadows, and gardens, all within these four corners. There are 58 miles (93.3 km) of paths in Central Park each invites you to wander.

The Grand Army Plaza (Manhattan)

Southeast corner of Central Park at Central Park South (West 59th) and 5th Avenue.

Not many people realize that the plaza is bounded on the north by 60th Street, which contains the Scholar’s Gate entrance to Central Park; on the west by Central Park and the Plaza Hotel; on the south by 58th Street. These older photos show the boundaries more clearly.

I must tell you that until I found this photo I never knew where the plaza boundaries were. When walking through the Plaza you don’t get the feeling of how large it truly is. I think the reason for this is that it is broken up by busy roads.

The centerpiece of the plaza’s northern half (carved out of the southeastern corner of Central Park), is the equestrian statue of William Tecumseh Sherman 
while the principal feature of the plaza’s southern half is the Pulitzer Fountain, topped with a bronze statue of the Roman goddess Pomona

Story:  It seems, there was some controversy concerning the Pulitzer Fountain. The widow of the great Cornelius Vanderbilt ( Bergdorf-Building site was once her mansion) objected to the statues depiction of her naked derriere. The view from her bedroom looked north towards the Park.  The problem was that now it also had an unobstructed view of the statue’s naked posterior.  As the story goes, in heated defiance Alice Vanderbilt ordered that her bedroom be moved a full city block to the south to protect her gaze from the offending statue.

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Take time to enter the park from the Plaza and you will find a Pond there to welcome you with its serene atmosphere. You can walk along the water’s edge and watch ducks swimming, pass by the secluded Hallett Nature Sanctuary where small animals and birds thrive, then cross over the stone arch of Gapstow Bridge. The bridge offers wonderful views of New York City’s skyscrapers and the Plaza Hotel, making it a popular photo location in Central Park.

Gapstow bridge is the most iconic bridge of Central Park with phenomenal views of the midtown skyline
Southern part of the Park.

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Columbus Circle

I imagine that Columbus Circle is familiar to most people visiting NYC. Often seen on TV as a place for people to protest and highlighted during the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. It is a very busy traffic circle that governs two-way Central Park South, west, and 8th Avenue traffic, and southbound Broadway traffic (Broadway becomes two-way north of it

Debate continues to rage over the fate of the Christopher Columbus Statue  is intended to celebrate the country’s Italian-American population, critics say Columbus’s history of colonialism and genocide are reasons for its removal.

Traffic Circle
Inside Time Warner building

Just opposite of the circle is the Merchant’s Gate with the enormous Maine Monument, which commemorates the sinking of the battleship Maine in 1898. The monument honors the 258 American sailors who perished when the battleship Maine exploded in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, then under Spanish rule. The bronze  for the sculpture group on the top  of the pylon    came from metal recovered from the guns of the Maine. There is memorial plaque on the park side of the monument. This  plaque was cast in metal salvaged from the ship.

Story: My guess is that unless some one told you that it was a Maine Memorial Monument, You would never know it from the design. Part of the Maine is also displayed within Arlington cemetery in Washington, DC

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This part of the park has open fields and leisurely paths. However, it might be time to Look inside the Time Warner Building. The view from inside is quite dramatic.

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Now we have two remaining corners to reach.

The other two corners are a bit further away. The distance from here to Frederick Douglass Circle is 2.5 miles

My suggestion

Schedule a visit to the North part of the park at another time.

There is much to see “up north” and you can enjoy its difference from the southern part of the park.

Here is a map that will show you the area around the remaining two corners of the parks.

Frederick Douglass Circle

(west 110th Street and Central Park West)

Author, statesman, and orator Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was born into slavery in Maryland. On September 3, 1838 he escaped by boarding a train disguised as a seaman, and traveled to Delaware and Philadelphia before arriving at a safe house in New York City via the Underground Railroad.

He later purchased his freedom while in the north and became renowned for his oratory in the abolitionist cause.

Frederick Douglass Circle is relatively new. Though the circle was named for Douglass in 1950, construction of the central plaza did not begin until 2004 and was unfinished until 2010.

Frederick Douglass Circle is relatively new. Though the circle was named for Douglass in 1950, construction of the central plaza did not begin until 2004 and was unfinished until 2010.

Duke Ellington Circle

(West 110th Street and 5th Avenue)

The striking 30-foot tall bronze Ellington Memorial shows the Duke standing beside his piano facing east, on a pedestal supported by three columns among a group of trees.

The intersection of 5th Avenue and East 110th Street, Central Park North, actually has accumulated three names over the years:

Duke Ellington the pop/jazz immortal, who popularized of “Take the A Train”

Earnesto Antonio “Tito” Puente the man who was synonymous with salsa.

James J Frawley a Tammy Hall District Leader (no photo available)

Story: Duke Ellington lived in the Upper West Side in several locations, so it’s slightly unusual that his memorial is here at an intersection on what’s technically the East Side. Whereas, five-time Grammy Award winner  Ernesto Antonio “Tito” Puente lived on East 110th as a child and youth from 1923 to 1938, and lived in Spanish Harlem for much of his life.

Of course to really enjoy Central Park you need to go inside. Happy Trails to you…

NYC – Three Kings Parade – Celebration – 2021 (Virtual)

Updated from 2017

El Museo del Barrio is delighted to present the 44th Annual Three Kings Day (Virtual) Celebration on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, titled Fuerza Colectiva: Celebrating our Roots and Diversity. The upcoming celebration honors and embraces our community’s collective strength in response to the pandemic and injustice, and the cultural contributions of the African diaspora. The Museum’s first-ever virtual celebration, hosted and directed by TV personality and Producer, Rhina Valentin, will include musical performances, festive skits, cameos by our famous giant puppets, and saludos from this year’s honorees.

It is a small event as NYC events go. In the past it had  mostly parents  participating with three children. It is but one of many activities that make NYC neighborhoods great.

https://www.elmuseo.org/event/3kings-schools/

Photo are from past years.

and  the cleanup crew…

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NYC – Winter Walk-Give it a try!

During this unique time and being careful of keeping distances and not going stir crazy, I suggest the following:

Find a few places to walk where there are not a lot of people in groups. Getting outside into the Crisp winter air emphasizes the beauty of luminous clouds, maybe eerie fog and mist, and (if an early bird) capture that special light only a sunrise can provide.  If not sure this is your thing then, you should start out taking short jaunts from your vehicle or apartment; no big hikes.

The city affords you to notice the changing colors and shadows along tree lined streets. City parks can provide you the beauty of a rural nature.

The main concern is to wear comfortable layered clothing. Do not bundle up too much! Believe me, the main concern is staying dry – little sweating – and being able to add or remove layers as needed to adjust to the temperature.

When I walk in the city, I wear a light knapsack. [When in a park or the woods, where there is snow, I do the same but sometimes drag a plastic sled behind me – good to store extra layers or maybe camera stuff or a snack. (don’t overdo the weight).]

My camera equipment, for the most part, will function as normal as I keep the battery warm as possible. I have a spare battery in my inside pocket. My Iphone stays in my pocket until needed.[Cold weather takes its toll on batteries]

With the right clothing, planning, and dependable equipment, nature provides us with some magnificent material! Give it a try if you haven’t yet.

I convinced myself to go for a walk in the neighborhood. Some of these photos will show you the vibrant colors that can be captured during of a winter walk. {You don’t need a camera to enjoy the walk!]

Barber Poles – a Little Tale

While getting in my daily exercise, I often start re-looking at places I have been before. For example, on this walk, I noticed that along 2nd Avenue there seemed to be an unusual amount of barber shops. You could hardly miss the white, red and blue poles outside. It hit me that the barber pole tells you what goes on inside – in fact a few shops had no sign at all.

When I got home, I wondered how many other shapes and images convey meaning so fast – they are more meaningful than words. Some are easy to understand and their universal meaning makes them as useful today as they were over the years of existence.

I plan on adding some on another blog post.

Warning stop here if you would rather not know.

Red, white, and blue barber poles look patriotic, but there’s a blood-soaked meaning behind their design.

Those rotating red, white, and blue poles outside barbershops have become an icon. At first glance, you’d probably assume barber pole designs have a patriotic background. But the reality is pretty gruesome.

Not too late to stop.

Barbers have been cutting hair for centuries, but they used to have a longer job description. In medieval times, the professionals were known as barber-surgeons, which is just what it sounds like. They weren’t just there to give customers a trim—they’d also perform minor surgery, pull teeth, and amputate limbs and one procedure—bloodletting—led to the barbershop poles you see today.

At the time, people thought having too much blood in a certain area could cause diseases like fevers or the plague so barbers started offering the service instead.

Last chance to leave.

During the treatment, barber-surgeons would give patients poles to hold, the original barber poles. Even back then, people knew there was a limit to bloodletting, so barbers would stop the bleeding with a white cloth. They’d then tie those towels to the poles and hang them outside their shops. Some towels stayed blood-stained even after they were washed, so it was common to see a pole with white and red swirling around in the breeze.

These days, barbers leave the medical treatment to doctors, but their poles are a nod to their bloody past.

Now, that you have joined me this far it is up to you to decide.

Just SCARY STORY OR THE TRUTH ?

Do you recognize any of these?

Read Now: November 2020 Dated info for NYC skating and more

11/21/2020 – 1/17/2021:the rink at Rockefeller center opens: the world-famous outdoor ice skating rink opens for a limited season this year, with timed-entry tickets required. $25-35 admission, plus $15 skate rental (or byo).

Completed Ruth Bader Ginsburg mural in the east village: you can view street artist elle’s tribute to rbg at 1st avenue + 11th street.

Macy’s holiday windows: this year’s windows at the herald square flagship honor nyc’s frontline workers.

Bryant parks’ Winter Village Rink is open.
Contactless ticketing: all skate time must be reserved online.

https://rink.wintervillage.org/

The Rink
Oct 31 – Nov 25: 8am-10pm
Nov 26 – Jan 3: 8am-11pm
Dec 31: 8am-4pm*
Jan 4 – Mar 7: 8am-10pm

This weekend – 11am-6pm:Hester street fair closing weekend: last chance this season to shop from a curated selection of vendors at the lower east side weekend market. free admission.

Egg Cream and a visit to NYC.

egg cream_blog_image

“When I was a young man – no bigger than this
A chocolate egg cream was not to be missed
Some U Bet’s Chocolate Syrup, seltzer water mixed with milk
Stir it up into a heady fro – tasted just like silk.

“You scream, I steam, We all want Egg Cream.”

From the song, EGG CREAM, words and music by Lou Reed.

Most visitors to New York arrive keen to sample the city’s culinary delights, but while pretzels, bagels and jumbo deli sandwiches figure highly on many tourists’ food shopping lists, the egg cream is as foreign as it gets.

Everybody has egg cream memories. You may have them and not even be aware. One in six Americans trace their family roots back to Brooklyn, New York.

For those of you interested in the historical details, it is rumored that the first product that could be described as an egg cream was developed during the early 1890’s.

How its made

It’s essentially the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit,

Sometime around 1920, the Lower East Side of Manhattan also claimed origination of an egg cream formula. [To this day, a source of debate.]

Many  of the traditional fountain services began to disappear during the 70’s. Some Diners, and delis are trying to keep The egg cream tradition alive. However, I don’t think that there are many people today keeping the drink popular. I have listed a few places that claim to still serve them.

The East Village is a great place to find egg creams with an Eastern European old world charm associated with them.

LITTLE POLAND 200 Second Avenue
VESELKA 144 Second Avenue 

RAY’S CANDY 113 Avenue A
ODESSA RESTAURANT 119 Avenue A

A few others

  • SQUARE DINER 33 Leonard Street
  • WASHINGTON SQUARE DINER 150 West 4th
  • EISENBERG’S SANDWICH SHOP 174 Fifth Avenue
  • LEXINGTON CANDY SHOP 1226 Lexington Avenue
  • NEIL’S COFFEE SHOP 961 Lexington Avenue
  • 3 STAR COFFEE SHOP 541 Columbus Avenue
  • LANSKY’S OLD WORLD DELI 235 Columbus Avenue
  • TOM’S RESTAURANT 2880 Broadway

Warning:

Before planning a visit to NYC you should check to see what stores and/or restaurants are open. Also, realize that most will only have outside seating.

If driving into the city be aware that there are fewer on street parking due to the use of some spaces for restaurant use.

Note that major tourist areas may have limitations but places like Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park and Central Park are all open-air spaces.

Elizabeth Street (Little Italy) – delightful garden

Updated from 2015

There is a small park – Elizabeth Street Gardens – on Elizabeth Street , between Prince & Spring streets (Little Italy) that is very unusual. While not open all the time it is a great place to have lunch (bring your own) or picnic or sit in the shade. You will be surrounded by statuary of all kinds. Oh by the way, it is free. Check here for when open.

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The Elizabeth Street Gallery, open to the public in a park like setting, contains a variety of ornamental stonework, some of it depicting mythological figures

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I walked the length of Elizabeth Street and found most of the people enjoying the day. The restaurants were busy and  those stores that were open had customers.

Most of the buildings in the area are multifamily, or apartment buildings dating from the first decade or two of the 20th Century

Some people think that the boundary between Chinatown and SOHOis mid-block between Kenmare and Spring,  The area to the south is mostly Chinese.

Before  the virus arrived the northern area was home to upscale galleries and shops north of Kenmare.

As of this date,  many shops have closed due to the pandemic. The street is filled mostly with outside dining. and there is a lot of construction going on. However, visiting the garden is still very enjoyable and all along the street people were animated and enjoying their visit. Most wearing masks and other than restaurants and bars, keeping some separation between each other

I am confident that after we solve the health situation  These  two blocks just South of Houston will, again, become quite alive and quite trendy.

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Carved, painted and lettered shingle signs that hang over the sidewalk are becoming popular in the neighborhoods where the hip people go,

 Photos taken on November 8, 2020

Trivia

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Elizabeth and Hester may be the only intersection in Manhattan where both streets are women’s first names, though Hester isn’t used much anymore. Elizabeth Street is one of the few major streets in Manhattan that begins and ends at a T-shaped intersection.

Veterans Day – 2020

First posted 2019

Many of us who live in New York City, as well as those who visit, may not get the chance to visit many of our public parks. I came across this article from the NYC Parks Department and wondered how many other comminities have memorials, to veterans, that are rarely visited.

5 of the Places in Parks that Honor Our Veterans

There are hundreds of memorials honoring the nation’s veterans spread throughout the city’s parks. Here are a few of the memorials we encourage you to visit to pay respect to our soldiers.

Visit our War Memorials in Parks page to find out more about the monuments near you and the battles they commemorate. 

Brooklyn War Memorial

Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn

Brooklyn War Memorial, source: Wikicommons, Ingfbruno.

source: Wikicommons, Ingfbruno.

This granite and limestone memorial is dedicated to the more than 300,000 heroic men and women of the borough of Brooklyn who served in World War II. Inside are displayed approximately 11,500 names of Brooklyn service members who died during the war.

Learn more about Brooklyn War Memorial

Van Cortlandt Memorial Grove

Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx

Van Cortlandt Memorial Grove

The Memorial Grove honors local servicemen who fought in World War II, local soldiers who served and lost their lives in the Korean War, and those from the community who served in the Vietnam War. A variety of oak trees (a symbol of strength and endurance) were planted to provide shade and create a tranquil area for reflective contemplation. Bronze plaques dedicated to twenty-one soldiers were placed beneath each newly planted tree. In addition, plaques to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and to the sons of the American Gold Star Mothers were also dedicated.

Learn more about Van Cortlandt Memorial Grove

East Coast Memorial

Battery Park, Manhattan

East Coast Memorial

This awe-inspiring monument consists of an eagle gazing past eight 19-foot tall granite pylons on which are inscribed the names of the 4,601 American servicemen who died in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II.

Learn more about East Coast Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Kissena Park, Queens

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The memorial plaza and sculpture honors the forgotten heroes of the Korean War. The bronze sculpture by artist William Crozier consists of a larger-than-life solitary soldier. On a smaller scale behind him are the silhouettes of five soldiers carrying a stretcher and scaling the dangerous mountain terrain of Korea. The plaza surrounding the memorial has two types of granite paving stones that are laid in an asymmetric pattern symbolic of the rice fields of Korea. Prairie grass, which is native across the U.S., grows at the base of the sculpture and represents the soldier’s return home.

Learn more about Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Hiker

Tompkinsville Park, Staten Island

The Hiker

This statue honors the local soldiers who served in the Spanish-American War. Depicting a foot soldier dressed in military fatigues, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, the image is derived from the long marches that the infantry endured in the tropical Cuban climate.

Learn more about The Hiker

NYC – The Day of the Dead Celebration during a busy weekend of concerns

Publication delayed due to election.

Day of the Dead statuettes

Over the years of writing this blog, I have tried to include the many  traditions of different cultures. On November 2nd was a celebration called “Dia de Murtos” or The Day of Dead – it  is a time to honor and revere deceased family members and ancestors.
 It is important to pass on to each generation the celebrations that embrace their heritage. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities is a time honored celebration.
They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. Celebrations are bright and lively, in belief that the souls of the dead are still alive and can return home annually during this time.  Nov. 1 is the Day of the Innocents to pay tribute to deceased infants.

To celebrate, people built altars, called ofrendas, to the dead. The altars incorporate photos of the deceased, their possessions, sugar skull decorations (see below) and their favorite food and beverages, including pan de muertos (“bread of the dead”). Altars also feature orange marigolds, the Aztec’s flower of the dead. It is used to attract souls to their altar.

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Skull imagery is central to Día de los Muertos celebrations, with people painting their faces in ornate skulls and buying or making sugar skulls.

The Sugar Skull Tradition
Sugar art was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century. The first Church mention of sugar art was from Palermo at Easter time when little sugar lambs and angels were made to adorn the side altars in the Catholic Church.

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Actual Sugar Skull made of sugar

Mexico, abundant in sugar production and too poor to buy fancy imported European church decorations, learned quickly from the friars how to make sugar art for their religious festivals. Clay molded sugar figures of angels, sheep and sugar skulls go back to the Colonial Period 18th century.
Sugar skulls represented a departed soul, had the name written on the forehead and was placed on the home ofrenda or gravestone to honor the return of a particular spirit. Sugar skull art reflects the folk art style of big happy smiles, colorful icing and sparkly tin and glittery adornments.

Sugar skulls are labor intensive and made in very small batches in the homes of sugar skull makers. These wonderful artisans are disappearing as fabricated and imported candy skulls take their place.
 It is more of a cultural holiday than a religious one. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the memories of our loved ones who are now gone… through art, cooking, music, building ofrendas, doing activities with our children, we can recount family stories, fun times and lessons learned… not how the person died, but how they lived.

NYC – Rockefeller Center – Art Deco

A visit to Rockefeller Center––a city within a city––is a must. New York’s most important urban complex of the twentieth century, the Center was built between 1931 and 1939. Rockefeller Center extends from 48th to 51st Street, and from Fifth to Sixth Avenue.

The promenade separating the British and French buildings

The Fifth Avenue frontage is a show case for the cause of international understanding–hence the International Building, the Maison Française, the British Empire Building, the Palazzo d’Italia––and the Channel Gardens (named for the English Channel separating France and England), between the French and British buildings, lined with fall foliage and statuary

Seeds of Good Citizenship
Above Channel Gardens Entrance of La Maison Francaise
Winged Mercury -Above Channel Gardens Entrance of 620 Fifth Avenue

Rockefeller Center epitomizes the Machine Age––building materials like aluminum and stainless steel, parking facilities for cars and trucks, high speed elevators, air cooling, noise silencers and escalators. There is so much to see both inside and outside but I thought it would be nice to feature a few of the works that are on the outside of the buildings.

I placed the street location or reference point on each photo.

PROGRESS
Above 49th Street entrance.
CORNUCOPIA OF PLENTY
10 West 51st Street
THE JOY OF LIFE
Above 48th Street entrance

What is Art Deco?

Although the question seems simple, historians have not been able to agree upon a single, definitive answer. The time period, aesthetic principles, motifs, and just about everything else that typically defines a style or movement, are all open to interpretation when it comes to defining Art Deco.

NEWS
Above 50 Rockefeller Plaza main entrance.
SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI WITH BIRDS
Above 9 West 50th Street entrance of 630 Fifth Avenue

I thought I would include something you might miss when going to or walking past Radio City Music Hall.

Dance, Drama, and Song

These three large stylized decorative plaques, placed high up on the south façade of Radio City Music Hall.

Two of the six playful plaques under the marquee at the front entrance.

A couple of observations as of this publication date.

  • Overall, New York City is less crowded.
  • Check ahead to see if places you want to visit will be open.
  • Public bathrooms are even fewer that usual.
  • There is a bathroom in the main building at Rockefeller center.