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 – 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 – Brooklyn to Manhattan – walking the Manhattan Bridge

Written a while back but may be an inspiration for you to take a walk – mask_distance_ caution

Getting There

On my to-do list was to walk over the Manhattan Bridge. I gathered up my google skills and decided hat it would be best to cross from the Brooklyn side. How close will the subway get me to my destination – Jay and Sands Street? Will there be subways closures? The nearest stop is York Street –  just a block or so north of the pedestrian entrance at Jay and Sands.  Staring from the Upper East Side I rode the “Q” and “F” trains. The trip was uneventful and before going I checked with the MTA Trip Planner.

http://tripplanner.mta.info/MyTrip/ui_web/customplanner/TripPlanner.aspx

The Manhattan Bridge may be way down on your list of things to do in NYC but walking across this century-old bridge affords some spectacular views of the Brooklyn Bridge and buildings of Manhattan.

http://www.jasonanderin.com/2012/07/walking-the-manhattan-bridge

Pedestrian pathway

Sign are posted for walkers and bicycles, just make sure you walk on South side of bridge

The pedestrian pathway is at the same level as traffic and trains, so the walk is noisy, and plenty of bikes don’t heed the direction to ride on the north path, so you’ll have a few bikes speed past you, but you’ll be too focused on the amazing view to the south to care.

The total length of the bridge is just a little more than 1 mile, so it doesn’t take long to walk across, even if you’re stopping often for photos. The protective fence dogs your steps the whole way, but in a few spots people have cut it and pulled it apart so you can take a photo of the view more easily. Suggestion: Your phone will work very well shooting through the “chicken wire”. If you remove your lens flare-cover on your DSL you might be able to get some good shots through the railing. In all cases just hold on to your camera!

Ending your walk

You will come out in Manhattan right in Chinatown. the neighborhood, you’ll start to see the iniquness of Chinatown from this vantage point.

You will end opposite Canal Street and should be able to find some eatable treats as well as some shopping. Also, there is an uptown subway on canal  street.

And of course – Graffitii

NYC – The Library Lions of the NYC Public Library – 109 years old,

 

Today, the New York Public Library lions, Patience and Fortitude, turn 109 years old! Newly restored last fall, the lions have long sat on pedestals in front of the New York Public Library’s “main branch” on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. The New York Public Library calls the lions “symbols of New York City’s resilience and strength,” and the popularity of the lions amongst New Yorkers is a testament to their role in the city. The lions were named by the always-entertaining Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in the 1930s when he believed New Yorkers needed something to uplift them during the Great Depression — and in particularly, that New Yorkers needed both patience and fortitude to get their the economic crisis. “That certainly resonates today,” writes the NYPL.

 

“For over 100 years, Patience and Fortitude have stood calmly at the center of a bustling city, proudly poised regardless of circumstance,” said Anthony W. Marx, president of The New York Public Library. “It doesn’t matter how scary and uncertain the world feels, the lions stand strong, somehow both protective and welcoming. That certainly resonates today. On their birthday, we hope the lions and all they stand for provide some calm, inspiration, and hope for the people of New York
City.”

The New York Public Library announces its favorite 125 books of its lifetime

However, these are not the only pair of lions guarding a NYC public library?

Actually, there are two more lions, a pair, of sleeping, cousins, in the Bronx,at the  NYC Riverdale Library. The lions, each weighing about 900 pounds are sprawled lazily on stone pedestals with  their eyelids closed  at the libraries entrance.

New York Public Library – Riverdale

Though smaller than the NYCPL lions, they began their public life at the Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue. At their present location in Riverdale, they have been named “River” and “Dale.”

 

Are these the only pair(s) of lions in the city?

Are you are familiar with two lions named Stephen and Stitt,?

These two lions  keep watch over the HSBC bank at Canal Street and Bowery.

HSBC Bank – Canal Street and Bowery

History: Lions have appeared on the English coat-of-arms ever since the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066, and the Peking Lion holds a great significance in Chinese tradition. It isn’t surprising therefore, that two lion sculptures can be found guarding many of the HSBC offices around the world today. Note: The HSBC name is derived from the initials of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

You are invited to add to this story.

 

 

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 – Fall (or any season) Walks in Central Park

As we say farewell to summer and get ready to enjoy the spectacular beauty of fall, we can find the changing leaves along the many paths of Central Park. The Park can also be a place to get refreshed from the sun’s warming rays and is something that is very pleasant and easy to do.

To begin with, I found an article written by Rachel Brown, who described two walks which are very accessible from midtown. Also, I have added my own personal recommendations. Ms. Brown wrote for the CP Conservatory as well as her own blog.
Often, I am asked about the location of specific sites. Sometimes the answer is more confusing than it should be. Below, each walk has highlighted some of the sites that you could visit. It is not a detailed map but, at least, it lets you know what is in the area of your walk.
CENTRAL PARK SOUTHERN SECTION

 

Wein-walk
Wallach Walk

I think it’s best to start your walk from the southwest corner of 59th St. and 5th Ave by the Pulitzer Fountain. It’s easy to find the spot because the statue is located directly in front of the Plaza Hotel’s main entrance. By wandering the winding the pedestrian paths, towards 72nd Street, you will be passing a pond, rocky outcrops, bridges, open fields, and skyline views If you follow the pathways you will end up at 72nd St. and Central Park West

LOWER SECTION Sites include Grand Army Plaza~ The Plaza Hotel~ Central Park Zoo ~The Pond~ The Dairy~ The Mall and Literary Walk~ Bethesda Terrace and Fountain Sheep Meadow~ Strawberry Fields ~The Dakota Apartments

Addition Features 
  • Hallett Nature Sanctuary – Surrounded by the Pond at the southeast corner of Central Park is the four-acre Hallett Nature Sanctuary, a peaceful haven just feet away from some of Central Park’s busiest paths.- East Side from 60th-62nd Streets

  • Sheep Meadow is a  peaceful expanse of green that inspires calm and refreshing thoughts just by looking at the meadow.- West Side from 66th to 69th Streets
  • Umpire Rock is one of the best examples of Central Park’s rich endowment of exposed bedrock, Umpire Rock is likely named for its commanding view of nearby baseball diamonds. Central Park has an unusually rich endowment of exposed, ancient bedrock People love to climb them too) -West Side at 63rd Street

 

CENTRAL PARK MIDDLE SECTION

A second walk focuses on the middle of Central Park, starting in front of the beautiful American Museum of Natural History. You even get to see the pond where Stuart Little raced his sailboat in the children’s movie! Don’t forget to bring along your camera, there are so many awesome photo opportunities in this park. You can start walking from the park entrance directly across the street from the American Museum of Natural History at the intersection of Central Park West and 79th Street and if didn’t do the lower section you could go south and end up at Bethesda Terrace, on the 72nd Street Traverse through Central Park.

MIDDLE  SECTION Sites include: American Museum of Natural History~The Swedish Cottage~Shakespeare Garden~Belvedere Castle~ Turtle Pond~The Delacorte Theatre (Shakespeare in the Park)~The Great Lawn~Cleopatra’s Needle~ The Ramble~The Lake~The Conservatory Waters~Bethesda Terrace

Addition Features
  • Strawberry Fields is a living memorial to the world-famous singer, songwriter and peace activist, West Side between 71st and 74th Streets.
  • The Ramble is a 36-acre “wild garden.”  Central Park’s designers imagined a tranquil spot where visitors could stroll, discover forest gardens rich with plantings, and meander Mid-Park from 73rd to 79th Streets. along the paths. This truly is a place for the urban explorer to escape the city and get utterly lost in nature.
  •  
  • Turtle Pond – Like all of the other water bodies in Central Park, Turtle Pond is man-made, filled with New York City drinking water. It is the home to five species of turtles who live in the Pond year-round. Mid-Park between 79th and 80th Streets.
  • Bow Bridge -The first cast-iron bridge in the Park (and the second oldest in America), the bridge was built between 1859 and 1862. Bow Bridge is named for its graceful shape, reminiscent of the bow of an archer or violinist. Mid-Park at 74th Street west of Bethesda Terrace, connecting Cherry Hill and The Ramble.
  • I have explored many walks in Central Park and I recently published a short article – A pre Fall Walk. It is a brief highlight of specific parts of the park.
I am working on material that will cover the upper part of the park. Most people know that Central Park is big.  Unfortunately, most people don’t know how big it really is because they only explore the southern and middle portions. 

 

NYC -The National Museum of the American Indian -Lower Manhattan – Free August 2019 update

Located right in the heart of Lower Manhattan steps from the Statue of Liberty Ferry, Wall Street and close to other historic sites

The National Museum of the American Indian

This is one building you cannot miss! One Bowling Green facing Broadway and Trinity Streets. Just a stones throw from the famous “Wall Street Bull”. And, only a short walk from Castle Clinton and the Statue of Liberty boat entrance.

 

The U.S. Custom House is a seven-story structure on the south side of Bowling Green.

 

It has a grand set of stairs facing Bowling Green.

 

New since I originally wrote this the Diker Pavilion for Native Arts and Cultures has been added to the first floor. This a rotating exhibition which, on my visit, was showing the following:

 

On the seconfd floor is the Rotunda, As you enter the interior feels immense but is very simply laid out. There are exhibition located in adjacent galleries.

Around the rotunda there are galleries  house that permanent exhibition and special exhibits
Masterworks from Native cultures highlight the permanent  collection.

The collection of art and artifacts are from a variety of tribes spanning hundreds of years. The individual items selected for showing are outstanding. However, I did not get a sense of history as everything is organized geographically rather than chronologically. While the exhibits are excellent,  they seem a little lost in such  a large building.

 (click photos to enlarge)

 

As I said earlier, I enjoyed the individual artifacts and was glad that I went inside this majestic building.

Road Trip – a stop at a “pickers” paradise

Usually, my blogs are mostly NYC but I ventured south and found this roadside attraction.

I watch the TV show American Pickers, where they find all these neat items throughout the states. I am fascinated by the objects as well as the price paid for them.  It makes me think about all the stuff I should have saved, How about you?

This week I was traveling through Virginia along route 301 and flew by the following (see photo)

 

There are so many unique items to look at and to investigate. 

What would America be without gas stations?

Dont forget, “Miss Piggy, Santa Clause, and a “pig”

Coca-cola is always popular

 

And all these assorted items:

Does anyone remeber this ?

This is just part of what was inside, If you are a collector then you would just love this place. Plenty of signs, automobile stuff, clocks, and much more fill this place to the walls. This is located in Port Royal VA and I was told that they have another on Rte 301 in Maryland.

NYC – Soldiers & Sailors Monument -Memorial Day

uws_nov_2013 (90)_sharp_vignette

In1893, a Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument Association was formed. It proposed a triumphal arch at Grand Army Plaza, at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, however, after opposition it was erected on Riverside Drive. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone for the monument in December of 1900. For years the monument was the terminus of New York City’s Memorial Day Parade. This massive circular temple-like monument located along Riverside Drive at 89th Street commemorates Union Army soldiers and sailors who served in the Civil War.

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Day Observance: Monday, May 27, 2019 (Riverside Drive & 89th St)

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Below.Addition information about a few of the battles listed on the monument.

Click on pictures below for more information

Malverne Hill
Malverne Hill

Murfreeboro
Murfreeboro

Port Hudson
Port Hudson

Wilderness
Wilderness