Greenwich Village – Let’s start with the Jefferson Market area

 A very good place to visit during a tour of Greenwich Village is the Jefferson Market Library. It is hard not to notice and  it’s on a most peculiar piece of land. 6th Avenue on one side, Christopher Street on another, Greenwich Avenue on another side and 10th Street covers the remaining two sides.

Greenwich Village

The building has had a fascinating prior life. It was formerly a courthouse, with a prison next door ( it is a garden today. Every last inch of the unusual shaped lot was used to its maximum. Only the court house remains and in 1967, the building was reopened as a New York Public Library branch.

Notable names that were locked up in the old courthouse jail cells next door, also known as the Women’s House of Detention, included Mae West, Angela Davis, and Andrea Dworkin, Holly Woodlawn (before it was discovered she was really a man).

It had a civil court on the second floor, now the Adult Reading Room, and a police court, now the first-floor Children’s Room.

 The façade is opulently ornamented, especially the Sixth Avenue side Carved details encrust the entrance and accumulate under the beautiful stained-glass windows and elsewhere around the building. The water fountain is decorated with reliefs depicting a weary traveller and a life-giving pelican.  There is also a state seal in the main gable and a frieze representing the trial from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice that hangs over the window above the main entrance.

The surrounding Area

Standing in front of the door for the library and looking across 10th Street, there is a small, gated community that could very easily be missed by someone walking along 10th street – Patchin Place.
The small stretch of brick houses were once famous for housing writers like Theodore Dreiser and E. E. Cummings. Contrary to what you might read elsewhere, Marlon Brando did not live in Patchin Place; but his sister did, and put him up in 1943 when his career was starting.

As you walk around the corner from West 10th Street onto 6th Avenue you might not notice Milligan Place, a triangular alley. Milligan Place has only four buildings, all on the far left. A side note: Patchin Place is gated but open to the public. Milligan Place is gated and locked. 

Crossing 6th Avenue onto 11th Street we come to a cemetery that is so small you may never notice it. Lined by residential buildings, it’s only natural to assume the short stretch of fencing on the south side of West 11th Street to be the courtyard entrance to an apartment.

You’ll find what has to be the smallest graveyard in Manhattan. How small is it? Just big enough to hold about 30 graves bordering on a worn, moss-covered brick path. But perhaps even more unusual is its irregular shape: a long, thin triangle.

The graveyard is all that remains of the Second Cemetery of the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue of the Congregation Shearith Israel. What makes the little graveyard on West 11th Street so special: it is gasp of existence of a West Village that is no more, a time when cow pastures were just down the street and local children would play in the streets.

We will end this walk on West 10th Street at #14, where Mark Twain lived.

As I begin researching Greenwich Village and its history, I am learning that this was home to many immigrants. I will update this post as I find new information.

Post first written in May 2016 updated September 2020
Thom

NYC – A brief walk during the pandemic – 4 blocks on Madison Avenue

NYC seems not to have many people around the East 65th Street area. The sidewalks were not crowded .and most people were wearing masks. I felt that there was an effort, by many, to keep as much of a separation as possible.

A glimpse of some of the fashions on display

Interesting – starting to ride a bicycle

NYC -Visiting during the Pandemic – my thoughts.

I am often asked about walking in NYC. The virus has kept many of us homebound and we all have the urge to get out but how to that in the safest way possible? I must confess that before writing this, I never looked at the written CDC guidelines; I mostly relied on information from TV shows and newspapers.

During my walks I generally stay outside and I keep moving. I figure the less time I am around the same people the better my chances of surviving exposure. So here is my condensed version of what to know about coming into the city. It is not complete but a start in living through our “new normal”. ( Guideline) link below)

  • Stay home if sick.
  • Best way to come into the city…

Walking won’t work, driving in might work, public transportation is risky but possible -mask, distance and stay away from commuting times might work. Other than that, I have no idea!

  • Wear masks in public settings and especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Use social distancing (stay at least 6 feet away from others).
  • Washing your hands with soap and water may be difficult to do so bring with you hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes – use either or both often.
  • Be aware of where you are going, look ahead, and avoid walking through heavily populated groups.
  • Also, be mindful when waiting at crosswalks and try to stay either behind the crowd or near the outside of the crush.

Eating – when our kids were younger we would pack a lunch and find a secluded spot (they do exist) or a park to eat in … your call!

Restaurants

  • Before you go into a restaurant (remember no inside dining), look to see if all staff are wearing masks and that they are cleaning tables between guests. Are the tables 6 feet apart? [Only takes a minute to stand outside and observe]
  • Take precautions – like wearing a mask as much as possible when not eating and maintaining a proper social distance if you are dining with others who don’t live with you.
  • When possible, choose food and drink options that are not self-serve [Salad bars] to limit the use of shared serving utensils, handles, buttons, or touchscreens.
  • Use those wipes for your credit card when card is returned after every use.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands when entering and exiting the restaurant [In fact any place you are going into].
  • Before using the restroom, make sure you have sanitizer with you, there might not be adequate soap, paper towels or hand sanitizer. Ladies bring tissues as often there are none in public bathrooms.

There are a lot of outside activities that can be enjoyed as well as safe-in-door events. Most stores require social distancing and/or have restrictions on number of people allowed in the store.

I imagine that these precautions would apply to any city so be careful…be safe… be informed.

For more info:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/personal-social-activities.html

NYC – Colorful Lower East Side

NYC – Enjoy art while you exercise during the corona outbreak.

Not everything is of-limits in New York City.  Take for instance, a  several-block stretch of the Bowery (street). from 1st street to 7th street. In the lower east side there have been many businesses that cannot open and have covered their windows with plywood. Thankfully, a group of artists decided to create some very interesting and colorful murals.

 

Artist, Sono  Kuwayama decided to start a movement to “freshen up” the neighborhood. There are no restrictions on the subject matter; however, there is some input from the store owners. She hopes that it will be tangible artifact from this epidemic period. 

She hasn’t been the only artist painting more local artists have joined in to help.

to see many more  of the murals click for instagram. here

Cow Tunnels in Manhattan ? Do they exist?

You may not know that there are over 2000 bridges and tunnels in NYC. You are more  likely to know the names of a few of them –  Lincoln, Holland, Midtown and the Brooklyn Battery to mention a few.

However, did you know  there is a tunnel for cows?

As the railroads massively increased cattle traffic to Manhattan, the Pennsylvania Railroad built holding pens in New Jersey, whence barges would ferry cattle across the Hudson to slaughterhouses along Twelfth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street. Traffic was so heavy in the 1870s that a “Cow Tunnel” was built beneath Twelfth Avenue to serve as an underground passage, and it’s rumored to be there still, awaiting designation as a landmark site. Historian Betty Fussel

Is there a long forgotten tunnel that was built to transport cattle  in Manhattan?

 

This  is the story of a lost, forgotten, or perhaps just a mythical subterranean cattle infrastructure.  This  underground tunnel was supposedly built at the end of the nineteenth century: an infrastructural response to the cow-jams that had begun to block streets in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan.

 

Cowboy on 13th Street and 11th Avenue in the Meatpacking District circa 1911, George Grantham Bain Collection, via Shorpy.com Note: The very existence of a cow tunnel (or tunnels) is mostly of stories and rumor, varying as to its/their location.
Where are they?

The tunnels might be beneath Twelfth Avenue, either at 34th Street or 38th Street—or perhaps both—but it also might be somewhere on Greenwich, Renwick, or Harrison Streets, near the present-day entrance to the Holland Tunnel. All west side along the Hudson river) It could even be as far afield as Gansevoort Street in the West Village.

I found a reference  to the cow tunnel  written by  Brian Wiprud, who speculates that the tunnel is, possibly oak-vaulted; lined with fieldstones; built of steel and most likely  demolished  to make way for a gas mains or it might be perfectly preserved.

There is a story, “Bum Steer,”  dated June 1997 from the Tribeca Tribune  and available online. It is a poorly photocopied set of PDF. If you go to this site look for “Bum Steer” listing)

One story about the tunnel comes from a laborer who when working in a trench came across a wall of wood He tore it open and went in and came out  saying it was an oak-vaulted tunnel ten feet wide by eight feet high that trailed off in both directions.

Another story has an old man from the neighborhood who looked at  the trench and said, “Why, I see you found the cattle tunnel.”

Since then, a slightly more authoritative source confidently reported the location of two cow tunnels underneath Twelfth Avenue, one at West 34th Street and one at West 39th:

There was a dock at the foot of West 34th Street in the 1870s, and cattle were brought to their slaughterhouse between Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues beneath the streets via a cow tunnel. Sometime between 1928 and 1930 a two-story concrete cattle pen was built at the southeastern intersection of West 39th Street and Twelfth Avenue. Another underground cattle pass was built from the shoreline to this pen to allow cows to be driven under, instead of across, Twelfth Avenue.

A side note

The only one other comparable cow tunnel has been found in the United States: a “barrel-vaulted brick tunnel,” constructed to connect stockyards in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

However it turns out that the initial research of cow tunnels reports on the construction of a cow-tunnel at West 38th Street.  In addition, an extant tunnel was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1932 to allow cows to be driven under instead of across Twelfth Avenue, at West 38th Street. But there the trail ends: “No archaeology has been done there,” 

Conclusion(s)

In other words, no one knows whether West 38th Street cow tunnel is still down there, intact — an abandoned, inaccessible cylindrical void amidst the tangle of utilities, foundations, and sewage pipes beneath our streets.

People might have just invented this crazy story about cow tunnels because everybody loves a good, vaguely plausible urban myth.

Until they are found, I will side with the group that thinks we have yet to find them.

I think that this is a good place to start our search

However, it is for you to decide

Is There a Secret Cow Tunnel Under 12th Avenue?

NYC Stuck inside? Want to see some sites in NYC?

If your trip was canceled or if you are unable to come into the city then check this site out.

Discover the best of New York, from hidden gems to iconic landmarks, through our “Tourist in your own Town” Video Series.

Here

See how many you know? How many you have visited? learn about a new place? 

Thanks to the NYC Landmarks Conservancy

NYC – A Saturday Walk on Madison Avenue to The Jewish Museum

What to do on a beautiful Saturday in NYC that is FREE?

This Saturday NYC  had a touch of warmer weather and I went  outside for my daily walk.  Not having too much extra money, the question was where to go and what to do?

 

Crewcuts

I decided to walk up the west side of Madison Avenue from 86th Street to 92nd Street [Along these 6 blocks are some small boutiques that offer very unique and beautiful clothing and accessories]

 

The Jewish Museum

and end up at The Jewish Museum at 92nd and 5th Avenue. Why this Museum? On Saturdays, it is free and they always have a special exhibition. 

Lets begin our walk. Here are a few of the stores: Brooks Brothers, Jack Rogers, CrewCuts, Joie, Ankasa, Alico & Olivia and Clic to name a few.

Of course, along the way, there are always curious little things to discover in store displays

There are several places to enjoy lunch or a coffee

The Jewish Museum

Rachel Feinstein is an American artist who specializes in sculpture. She is best known for baroque, fantasy-inspired sculptures like “The Snow Queen”, which was drawn from a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

 
 

 Edith Halpert (1900–1970) was the first significant female gallerist in the United States, propelling American art to the fore at a time when the European avant-garde still enthralled the world.

Liberty
Sunday Morning

 

This is an older block, somewhat related here 

here is another one here

A brief look at NYC Christmas Windows – 2019

It has been a cold winter but the weather warmed up a little so I went for a brief walk on 5th Avenue. In a previous post, I opined how there are only a few stores left that really do Christmas well.

Fortunately, those that remain are living up to reputations of creating outstanding windows. I managed to get to a few of them along 5th Avenue and plan on getting to a few on Madison Avenue.

Louis Vuitton

 

Bergdorf Goodman, the department store on Fifth Avenue between 57th and 58th streets always has some of the most artistic and luxurious holiday windows. This year’s theme is “Bergdorf Good Times,” which “evokes a time-honored spirit of a holiday fête but with a twist” according to the department store. ( I enjoyed the color and fashion but overall each window seemed very busy.

Note: Across the street is their men’s store -many people miss it!

 

The entire building of Cartier’s Fifth  Avenue store is wrapped in a giant bow in the company’s signature red. I don’t think it has changed in several years.

 

 

Saks Fifth Avenue has its windows in honor of the new animated films Frozen 2

 

The following is a quick rundown of other notable stores.

Dior is a luxury label’s designer fashion store, also selling cosmetics, jewelry & other accessories.

 

There are few stores as intrinsically associated with New York City as the Tiffany & Co. flagship store on Fifth Avenue. It was through those windows that Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly stared as she ate her morning croissant in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

 

 ere are some photos of windows along the way

 

Along with the stores above, there are plenty of holiday lights and displays located throughout the city. So, enjoy!

Note:Sadly, Lord & Taylor, Henri Bendel, Harry Winston and Ralph Lauren have closed. 

Music – now more accessible than ever – here is a sample of what’s to come.

In my day, we went out and bought records after listening to them on the radio. Today we are in the digital world and the sound and creativity is so much better. And, we can simply go to an app on our phone and enjoy the music.

My grandson William (aka Squilly) is an up-and-coming songwriter and performer. So, if I may, I would like to introduce one of his songs. He has more on Spotify and honestly, probably more than that but I haven’t caught up to those yet.

I hope you enjoy the music and if so inclined please share with others, thanks!

Long intro but worth the wait.

NYC – Pulaski Day Parade 2019

Thousands of Polish-Americans marched down 5th Avenue paying tribute to their heritage. Participants came from the tri-state area.

Every weekend, New York City hosts activities that can be enjoyed free of charge and enjoyed by all. This is but one of many events that makes a visit to NYC an added joy.

Many of the participants, as well as the spectators, are dressed in red/white.