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 Central Park – few women among many men -change is here!

This is  an  August 2020 update to an older post. 

For the first time in history, a bronze statue depicting and celebrating the achievements of women joined the myriad monuments honoring men, animals and fictional characters in the storied park.

A statue of three women’s rights pioneers was unveiled in Central Park on Wednesday — becoming the 167-year-old green expanse’s first monument to real-life female figures.

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The bronze sculpture, located in the park’s Literary Walk, honors Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, key figures in the women’s equality movement, each with roots in the Big Apple.

The city  plans to place the “Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Movement Monument” in 2020. It will be located at the south end of Literary Walk.

I wrote, last year, that the only monuments depicting females in the park are Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose, Juliet (from Romeo and Juliet) and a variety of nymphs and other mystical creatures. Also, there are woman statues in other parks (see below).

Post from January 2016

Nestled amid the greenery of Central Park are some rather inexplicable statues of men of history — such as King Jagiello, a 14th-century Polish king, and Albert Bertel Thorvaldsen, a Danish sculptor who lived in the 18th century. Not included in the park’s 29 monuments dedicated to historical notables are any real women.

alice in CP
Alice in Wonderland

Currently, the only female figures to be honored with statues in the park are fictional (and not necessarily human), like Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland.

MotherGoose-750
MotherGoose

However, the city’s Parks Department has granted conceptual approval to an effort to erect a statue of Elizabeth Cady Stanton* and Susan B. Anthony by the park’s West 77th Street entrance.

*Born on November 12, 1815, in Johnstown, New York, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an abolitionist and leading figure of the early woman’s movement. An eloquent writer, her Declaration of Sentiments was a revolutionary call for women’s rights across a variety of spectrums. Stanton was the president of the National Woman Suffrage Association for 20 years and worked closely with Susan B. Anthony.

As of now, only a few of the 800 or so sculptures in New York City’s parks feature historical women:

Eleanor Roosevelt and Joan of Arc, which are both located in Riverside Park. In case you are wondering, the others are Gertrude Stein, Golda Meir, and Harriet Tubman.

Throughout the city a few women are honored. On the I. Miller Building at Broadway and 46th Street there are  sculptures of Mary Pickford, Ethel Barrymore, Marilyn Miller, and Rosa Ponselle.

In the Bronx at the Bronx Community College’s Hall of Fame for Great Americans, busts of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susan B. Anthony, Mary Lyon, Maria Mitchell, Emma Willard, Alice Freeman Palmer, and Lillian Wald are included.

Then there are a few statues on churches of saints and of real women on private property that have a public presence, like the statue of Mother Clara Hale at the Hale House.

There is the face of a female model – Audrey Munson who posed for several statues including the Isador and Ida Straus Memorial.

Resources used for this article here 1 , here 2

 

September 2020 Addition

Women of STEM

Central Park was recently the site of another effort to honor women of accomplishment – an initiative recognizing women who work in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) with 6 statues (part of an exhibit of 122 female statues) 4on display at Central Park Zoo through Oct. 31.The exhibits goal l is for girls everywhere to see STEM as exciting, relevant, and cool.The six women depicted all work in wildlife conservation: Kristine Inman, wildlife biologist, Wildlife Conservation Society; Rae Wynn-Grant, large carnivore ecologist, National Geographic Society; Dorothy Tovar, Stanford University microbiologist; Jess Cramp, shark researcher and marine conservationist, Sharks Pacific; Earyn McGee, herpetologist focused on lizards, University of Arizona; and Kristen Lear, bat conservationist, Bat Conservation International.

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

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 – 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.

 

 

Grandparents School

Did you really go to a school like this? If not maybe members of the family can make up a story to go with the photo.

 

Starter Questions

  • How old do think this building is?
  • How many children went to this school?
  • Was it a neighborhood school?
  • How many teachers were there?

Your get the idea…

ps maybe you can post a summary of your story for your relatives. Or find an old photo and send it out so others can  create other stories. Maybe some home-made pictures can be posted

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 – Fire Hydrants

I know you have been wondering about how many fire hydrants there are in Manhattan?
There are usually 3 fire hydrants on every street block and six fire hydrants on each Avenue [150 blocks]  each block being composed of (about) 10 parts, from river to river. My guess: at least 16,000.

While I was putting together some information about another subject, I came across an article about New York City fire hydrants. Most of the following has been condensed, by me, from very detailed articles. http://www.firehydrant.org

  A Little History Lesson

In the beginning, the original “hydrant” may have been something like this iron cauldron from China.

 

Have you ever heard of the term “Fire Plug”?

The term “fire plug” dates from the time when water mains were made from hollowed out logs. The fire company (usually volunteers) would head out to the fire, dig up the cobbles down to the main, then bore a hole into the main so that the excavation would fill with water which they could draft using their pumper. When finished fighting the fire, they’d seal the main with — you guessed it — a “fire plug“.

Cast Iron

Wood

Cast iron would come to replace wooden water mains, and in 1802, the first order for cast iron hydrants was placed.

New York City

New York City’s first fire hydrant was installed in 1808 at the corner of William and Liberty Streets, this hydrant was most likely a wood case hydrant.

By 1817, the first regular iron hydrants were being installed throughout the city. These were most likely flip lid hydrants.

The two fire hydrants pictured below are both original New York City fire hydrants. This style of fire hydrant was popular from as far back as 1840

Starting in 1902, the city began buying mainly one style of fire hydrant’

I found this Allen Standpipe near the East River.

There is much more on this subject on the web. You can look at more pictures at:

http://www.firehydrant.org/pictures/additional-pictures-index.html

http://www.firehydrant.org/pictures/vintage-hydrant-photos.html

None of this is my original work.

Updated from 2012