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.

 

 

Church of St. Paul and ST. Andrew – but what is hidden inside?

On the corner of West 86th Street and West End Avenue stands a very large church that is looking its age but the church’s mission is very current.

The Church of ST. Paul and St. Andrew was built in 1834

The front has very impressive large wooden doors that are all locked during the week days. There is a door open on 86th Street. Pleasantly surprised, I was greeted by a person at the desk who quickly invited me to see the church.

I like going into NYC churches because they often look the same on the outside but are, mostly, different on the inside. The St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral on 96th stands out with its golden icons and no pews while this church has a unique large Sanctuary(1500 seats), a separate Social Hall and additional intimate spaces.

It seems that the church is well used, This Saturday, a small group was meeting in the small chapel and three people were,in the Sanctuary practicing some music scales,

Video – quiet time to practice – sorry about the ads

So, what is hidden ? Located in a back corridor were these beautiful paintings

I asked about them and was told that these were but a few of many placed throughout the building.

Question: “Why were these painted and why are they hanging on the walls?

Answer: they were done by a former parishioner that painted them over many years.

I asked if anyone knew the name of the artist but got only blank responses. One person said, “they have been here for years”.

I will try to update this blog by finding out more about the history as they are beautiful and should, I think, be part of a folk-art collection.

For me, these gems were hidden in plain sight. Each one beautifully composed and painted in bright colors. They were the highlight of my day!

Just a short walk west leads to the Soldiers and Sailors monument and Joan of Arc monument.

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral

How the Church survives

The Church is known for being socially moderate and for being accepting of people of all races, ages, and sexual orientations. The building holds a variety of spaces to rent, ranging in capacity from 25 to 1200 people.

A Grotto in a New York City Church – worth a visit

The Notre Dame Church- worth the visit.
St John the Divine Cathedral

New York City is perhaps one of the few American cities that has such a diverse culture.  In this city ,you can find dozens of unique  churches, buildings and neighborhoods like Saint John the divine Cathedral.

Today, I am not writing about the Cathedral but a church, I would guess, most  visitors to the Cathederal would never visit and it is only  a few blocks away.

405 West 114th Street 
New York, NY 10025

 

The Notre Dame Church, where you can experience a replica of the grotto in Lourdes France, where in 1858 Saint Bernadette was said to have witnessed the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary.It rises several stories behind the main altar.

The Church of Notre Dame.   
405 West 114th Street

 

This chapel has an impressive French neoclassical exterior and is equally matched with the interior that boasts a Grotto that rises SEVERAL stories behind the main altar.

 

Although this grotto was built inside after the church was completed.It feels as if the church has been built directly into the side of a mountain.

——

Fourteen inset bas-relief images of the Crucifixion of Christ adorn the perimeter of the church interior.

  ——  

The altar, pulpit and balustrade (altar rail) in white Carrara marble, which took over two years to complete.

——

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

NYC – 2020 – Chinese New Year – Firecrackers – Parade

Chinatown is one of the most famous neighborhoods in downtown Manhattan and hands down holds two of the best events of the the Chinese New Year celebration.


For two weeks, starting on January 25, you can head to Manhattan’s Chinatown for the Firecracker Ceremony and later, on February 9th, the Chinese New Year Parade.

 

chinatown_fire-cracker_2017-47
Thousands of these are sold, almost everyone of them is used on the streets.
During the Firecracker Celebration the streets get covered in confetti, people dress in red and gold with beautifully painted faces or masks, and the sounds of drums and bells and huge dragons are everywhere. This is what Chinese New Year looks like in New York. The celebration of this holiday is both visually and atmospherically impressive. The street parties with vendors selling great Chinese food, different performances, music, firecrackers, and entertainment for all ages last for almost two weeks.
 

 the sparkly explosives are set off to ward off bad spirits for 2020.

Here are some highlights.

The Chinese New Year Parade and Festival takes place on a different day than the Firecracker Festival. This year it will be celebrated on Sunday, February 9th. The spectacle includes musicians, lion and dragon dances, stunning outfits, acrobats and martial art performers. More than 5,000 people participate in the parade. Celebrate the Year of the Rat. [The Chinese zodiac begins a new 12-year cycle in early 2020 with the Year of the Rat. According to lore, the rat (as a zodiac animal personality, that is) is associated with wealth, cleverness and likability. Those all sound pretty good.]

The New Year Parade

 

Helpful hints
For prime photo and viewing opportunities, get as close to the barricades as you can. Once the crowd forms the lines will be several people deep and movement will be restricted along the path. So find a good spot and stick to it! Remember that spectators count in the thousands, with travelers even coming from outside the city to enjoy the festivities.

You will be outside for the duration of the parade, which lasts for several hours and occurs rain or shine. Even in milder temperatures, being exposed to wind and rain over a prolonged period can be harsh. Avoid bulky bags, which might be searched. And keep your hands free so you can take great pics and set off those fun confetti cannons!
Note; Public bathrooms are rare in this area. I would suggest that you do not load up on liquids before the parade. Columbus Park (mulberry Street) is open but not always the cleanest. If you go into an eating place ask if they have bathrooms for customers before ordering.
Click on pictures to enlarge

In Chinatown is that many things are looking at you.

What to eat

Traditional holiday foods include dumplings, long noodles, peanuts and dim sum to name a few. You’ll find plenty of places along the main Chinatown strips serving up menus filled with New Year’s delicacies. 

Also, You can find fresh fish to take home at a very reasonable price.

 

Many interesting moments when you are just wandering.

Young women mix of the traditional and the modern.

Color is everywhere

 

A few of the “other” photos.

Previous Posts about Chinatown

Chinatown’s Charm

Joss Paper – Funerals

people

Hand Fans

This is a brief video to let you listen to the noise.Video

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.