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

England only steps away

Did you know that you can  stand in England and not cross the ocean or you might  take the MTA and get off on English soil?

It may come as a surprise that parts of New York City are from the United Kingdom and if you walk way down Manhattan’s East 25th Street you’ll find yourself standing on English soil.

 

No, not something created by treaty like an embassy or consulate, but rather, actual English land, brought to the Port of New York during s some of the darkest days of World War II. Given the city’s colonial origins, cross-Atlantic trade, and World War II alliance, it begins to make more sense. 

 

This small outcropping of land near East 25th as well as a small stretch of the FDR Drive, was made out of landfill from the English city of Bristol – during WWII.

 

U.S. and Canadian merchant marine vessels steamed across the Atlantic to keep the British supplied against Nazi Germany’s assault. These ships were loaded with weapons when they set out on their journey, risking U-boat and air attack. When they arrived, the supply ships delivered so much cargo, with nothing to bring back, that they needed ballast to stabilize them for the return journey.

The men and women of Bristol, many of whose homes had been utterly destroyed by the Luftwaffe’s air assault, loaded these ships with the rubble of their city. Acting as ballast, these literal chunks of England returned to the U.S., where merchant marine vessels offloaded them into the East River and picked up fresh cargo to return to Europe.

The resulting landfill created the area known as Bristol Basin, quite literally built from part of England.

I found this short  video 

 

In 1942, the English-Speaking Union of the United States erected a plaque commemorating Bristol’s unique contribution to New York City.

Nearby, the British International School houses its River View Campus in Waterside Plaza’s Building 20.  The plaque itself has moved around over the years, and now overlooks a portion of the East River with spectacular views of Queens and Brooklyn.

The plaque reads: “Beneath this East River Drive of the City of New York lie stones, bricks and rubble from the bombed City of Bristol in England. Brought here in ballast from overseas, these fragments that once were homes shall testify while men love freedom to the resolution and fortitude of the people of Britain. They saw their homes struck down without warning. It was not their walls but their valor that kept them free. And broad-based under all is planted England’s oaken-hearted mood, as rich in fortitude as e’er went worldward from the island wall.”

The plaque was was rededicated in 1972 by the actor Cary Grant, a Bristol native whose family survived the bombings.

Know Before You Go

Follow E 25th Street as far east as it goes; crossing a footbridge, one arrives at Waterside Plaza. Stairs lead you to the central public plaza, where on the northeast side there is a plaque dedicated to the English city of Bristol that supplied the land on which Waterside Plaza is built.

Unless you have a personal interest in Bristol history, or you would be walking/bicycling along the East River, I would suggest that you let this article be your virtual visit.

NYC – East of Midtown – a walk around east 54th and 2nd Avenue – Updated August 2019

I wrote this blog over a year ago. I mentioned an almost hidden church, today, I came across an article inUntapped Cities

about the Norwegian Seamen’s Church, it is very well done. I thought you might enjoy it.

Tucked in Midtown with a facade of stained glass windows is a church founded for Swedish seamen that has a cozy secret: a hidden coffee shop… Read the article here

 

My original article begins here

Here is a look into a neighborhood a bit off the grid of tourist areas.  I selected an area bounded by east 54th street, east 52nd Street, and Sutton Place and 3rd avenue. Some people call this part of Turtle Bay. The area has very little to offer but I found a few interesting places of interest.

I found myself looking through the locked doors of the Norwegian Seamen’s Church and wondering how to get inside, just then a passing mailman that just yelled to me to press the two white buttons, magically, the door clicked open. (I love going into interesting buildings)

Norwegian Seamen’s Church

A smiling young man greeted me and allowed me to come inside for a visit. The church is a part of Norwegian Church Abroad. Along with being a church it also holds an assortment of events and art exhibitions.  There’s a small store and cafe inside the church that offers coffee, waffles, and a few Nordic packaged goods.  The store had a few friendly people having a coffee away from the bustle of midtown. There is a Gallery located downstairs from the “church” and has a nice collection of Scandinavian art.  Upstairs there is a small library/reading room with a fairly impressive collection of books in Norwegian.

 

The New York City Bath House Building – a very impressive building, on east 54th.

The center’s original purpose was to provide sanitary facilities for the city’s working classes and much of its original character and history remain. The basketball court and jogging track are connected by two wrought ironwork spiral staircases, The vaulted ceiling in the gymnasium and the lobby are indicative of the architecture of the time. Marble walls in the locker rooms hearken back to the original marble baths. (Not allowed to photograph swimming pools)

 

 

What you find off the beaten path are often small ethnic restaurants.

 

 

Extra things I found along the walk.

 

 

 

 

NYC – Mid Town East – Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay is a neighborhood in New York City, on the east side of Midtown Manhattan. It extends between 41st and 53rd Streets, and eastward from Lexington. Its most famous site is the United Nations and Tutor City.

My reason to visit, was the newly painted murals (5) in this neighborhood. They are sponsored by a labor group and the over-all title is Social Change

Turtle Bay almost feels like a different world: peaceful, uncrowded, and filled with brownstones and smaller brick buildings rather than skyscrapers. Much of the residential architecture is from the 1920s, often featuring basic Italian antecedents, stucco walls again bricks or tile.

Mid Town, Turtle Bay, is  an interesting place to visit and walk. 

Two buildings in Turtle Bay are the Seamen’s Churches of Sweden and Norway, which have hidden cafes inside that are open to the public though the organizations themselves primarily serve the expatriate community.

Seamen’s Church

It might look like a gated building front on East 49th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, but this between-buildings passageway, now known as Amster Yard, goes all the way back to 1830 or earlier. On this site, the stagecoach to Boston began its route on a now-vanished road called the Eastern Post Road. It has been rebuilt with an art gallery and a charming back garden. The complex remains open to the public on weekdays, except when there is a private event. (Spanish Cultural Center)

Then there is Beekman Place, also just a few blocks long. Its prewar co-ops nuzzle town houses with dormered windows jutting from their top floors.

Fun facts

As a non historical curiosity, the Hammarskjöld Plaza (Second Avenue and Forty-Sixth Street ) is the very center of the imaginary multiverse formed by all of the stories written by Stephen King, as described in his “The Dark Tower” series of books. It is actually the place that “keeps all those universes working”. So it is an interesting touristic point for the fans.

 

Number 227 – 247 East 48th Street and 236-246 East 49th Streets are famous remodeled brownstones which surround a private common garden and are the former homes of Dorothy Thompson, Katharine Hepburn, Stephen Sondheim, Maggie Smith and Tyrone Power

This area is right on top of the United Nations Building. 

 

NYC – a walk in NOHO

A walk through NOHO which is tucked between East Village and Greenwich Village is a small downtown nook with an eclectic sensibility and bohemian spirit. Expansive lofts, chic boutiques, and quaint cafes abide in this tiny yet happening neighborhood.

  • East to West Boundaries: Bowery and Broadway
  • North to South Boundaries: East 8th St. and East Houston St.
  • Nearby Neighborhoods: Greenwich Village, Soho, Nolita, and East Village

The area’s small streets are dissected by three major commercial arteries: Broadway, where many chain stores are found, Lafayette Street, where restaurants mingle with cultural institutions and the buzzing Bowery Street, which houses a cluster of eateries and late-night options.

I began my walk at east Houston and 2nd Avenue, (I could have started nearer my destination but Whole Foods has a public bathroom – ask for the code, and then walked to Crosby St.Heading north to Bleeker St.

I came upon an array of small shops like Village Tannery on Great Jones Street, INA NoHo on Bleecker Street and Louis Purple on Lafayette Street. I rarely shop, so I cannot endorse any of these or the many restaurants along Great Jones Street or Lafayette Street – they all looked great from the outside. I am usually always interested in older buildings, at least those that have not been razed for glass towers. When you gaze upward several gems of NoHo’s visual culture  become visible. –

A white terra-cotta building with 6 supporting  angels

Bond Street was a very fashionable in the 1800’s. Now it has small shops and a few restaurants. One older house is still standing is at #26 was probably owned by a wealthy new yorker.

Great Jones Street is really east 3rd Street

Exaggerated French ornate arch of NYC Fire Department’s Engine Company No. 33 (44 Great Jones St.),

 

Seems to be the rear of a church but there is no front on e 4th st.

 

On east 4th Street is the Old Merchant’s House Museum. One of the oldest houses of this style in NYC. there are a lot original pieces of furniture inside. Also it supposed to haunted as well.

The following is a collection of photos taken along the walk

 

I took a look inside the Papp public Theater which is a very imposing structure. Also, has a public bathroom)

 

 

 

NYC – Greek Independance Day Parade – one of many this year

NYC – Greek Independence Day Parade

Now that the weather is getting warmer the city will begin having more parades. Today, many families came out to celebrate Greek Independence  I highlight some parades to remind you that these free events can make your NYC experience just a little bit better. Like today’s event, families dress in authentic costumes and are proud to demonstrate their heritage.

 

As usual. it is a great time for politicians to get out in front of the crowd

And for added fun …

The following sites will give advance info as to events happening in NYC

NYCevents12

NYCgov

Newyorkled

NYC – Quick visit to Sotheby’s Auction House

I made a quick visit into Sotheby’s to visit their show rooms. Here are some samples of Contemporary Art.

(click to enlarge)

Most of these will be going  to auction.

NYC – Statue of Liberty – Mini

Today,  I was off to watch the St Patrick’s Day Parade. I thought that the area  around the east 60’s and Central Park would be best. From the subway at Lexington Ave I made my way down Lex to east 61st Street On my walks I slow my pace and try to enjoy the walk and maybe find  something new. (at least to me.)

I found myself outside of 667 East 61st Street looking at a 9 ft tall Statue of Liberty. My first thought was that somebody made a smaller copy and placed it here in front of a building to attract a passer-by.

The plaque  gave me more details:

It cost over 1 million dollars – and according to French law, only 12 copies can ever be made from the original mould. She’s the only one here in the United States.

 

I did not think to get up close (should have known better) but later found out that you  can see details that you cannot be seen looking at the larger statue.

For example, did you know that there are broken chains at her feet? They represent our freedom from oppression and tyranny.

From Google

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seven-pointed crown she wears represents the seven seas and the seven continents of the world.

From Google

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The statue was purchased by The Hartz Group where it  now proudly sits.

Added Bonus

Hint: don’t ignore the insides buildings… this  lobby has a museum quality 16th century Knight’s of Armor and an original 17th century Royal Goblin Tapestry. Only in NYC.

Oh by the way, the parade was great!

NYC – East Village_ St Mark’s Place – Theatre 80 – Original Hollywood Theater?

 

sign theatre 80_pse

As I was looking at the Mosaic Lampposts on 8th Street and St Marks Place, I tried to remember what the street looked like back in the late 60’s. I was not part of the culture but simply a tourist looking at the strange goings-on in the East Village. The street was crowded and wild with activity. All kinds of shops were filled with drug stuff, clothing and skull head jewelry along with a “nice” smell floating through the air.

Beginning during Prohibition, 80 Saint Marks Place was a vital destination for performers of all kinds. It was a speakeasy where Jazz greats such as Thelonious Monk, Harry “Sweets” Edison, John Coltrane and Frank Sinatra performed here before Theatre 80 was established.

outside 80

At Theatre 80 the careers of many famous performers were launched. Some of the famous names are Gary Burghoff, and Billy Crystal. During the 1970s and 80s as a film revival house, people were able to see vintage films on a movie theatre screen in an audience setting in Theatre 80.

inside 80

It was also visited by a host of great names in theater, many of whom left their names, foot and hand prints in the cement of the sidewalk. A partial list includes Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Kitty Carlisle and Joan Rivers.

theater 80 actors no names-pse

If you want to guess

NAMES OF ACTORS ARE AT VERY END OF BLOG

 

NEW GANGSTERIn 2007, Theatre 80 was restored. As part of this restoration, the Museum of the American Gangster and William Barnacle Tavern was opened.( William Barnacle Tavern is named after William “Barnacle Bill” Scott, a merchant sailor who was often called the “mayor” of Tompkins Square Park.)

tavern

 

The theater still presents a range of productions from traditional forms such as Shakespearean theater and flamenco dance, to the cutting edge avant-garde and works from new authors.

My impression

St Marks Place still attracts hordes of young people throughout the day and night to its bars, restaurants, karaoke spots, clothing stores, tattoo parlours, and e-cigarette shops. The street on Friday and Saturday nights thrums with laughter, conversation and music until the early hours. “Walking on St Marks Place on a weekend night, you become aware of a rhythm,It is still a countercultural magnet, and as a resident myself, I can attest to the fact that “crusty punks” with pit bulls and the odd group of cannabis-smoking teenagers can at times still provide a bracingly antisocial air. The street has not been completely sanitised yet,”

“The street today is safer and more pleasant than at any point in the last fifty years,”

Keep going

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

old actors-1

NYC – Homes on Shaded Street – Open House

Homes on Shaded Street – Open House

 IMG_2577_edited-1

It seems that a builder has erected 17 colorful houses of different shapes and sizes on  East 83rd Street between York and East End Avenues. Many of them are still empty and awaiting new arrivals. I should probably mention that these homes are attached to trees and poles along the street.

Figured it out? Yes, they are birdhouses.

Some of the birdhouses have specific addresses on them, corresponding to the building it sits across from. Others have words like “peace,” “home” and “good times” etched into the solid wood homes or into pieces of scrap wood seemingly picked up off the ground and nailed into the tiny structures.

Some are red, others are yellow and some are multi-colored.

Some of the houses bear words like “repose” or “peace,” while others carry more personal messages.

It just goes to show that along with well-recognized neighborhoods like Chelsea, China Town and Mid town there many streets in within them that have just a one-block character. There may be some in your neighborhood, so take a walk and find them.