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

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 – Have you noticed the Street and Building Clocks?

Worlds largest Tiffany Clock – 13 feet in diameter

If you are walking in Manhattan, it is almost inevitable that you will find yourself looking at a clock on a building or one standing in the sidewalk,. Most of these are early clocks that were meant to attract customers to a specific store.

Central Park Zoo – musical clock

 

During my walks I often notice clocks of all types and descriptions. While the clocks, mostly, have the basic clock design, numbers from 1 to 12 arranged in a circle with two “hands,” I did notice the different clocks where artisans over the years seemed to have  created hundreds of different street clocks. 

 

I don.t think I could possibly record every location in Manhattan and there are many others in the other boroughs. 

 

 
 

NYC – Ghanaian Artists Create Unusual Movie Posters

This past week I spotted a community day [ free day] at the  Poster House-the first museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to posters. The weather turned out to be nice and the event was free, so why not take a look. I thought how great it will be to see posters of movies that maybe I have enjoyed. It would be nice to see the posters that advertised them

The Poster House is just two blocks (west) from the Flatiron Building on east 23rd Street. And is close to Leggo Land, Madison Square Park and  Sony Square.

The Poster House is a small exhibit space with a book-store and coffee shop. There is a fee on non-free days.

BAPTIZED BY BEEFCAKE: THE GOLDEN AGE OF HAND-PAINTED MOVIE POSTERS FROM GHANA Over-the-top posters were a key part of Ghana’s vigorous black market in American VHS tapes in the 1980s and ’90s.

  • These movie posters were all created by artists in Ghana to promote traveling movie shows and sell tickets to bootleg screenings of various western and local movies.
  • These posters range from quirky recreations of the original movies to WTF inducing paintings with imagery completely unrelated to the original content.

While the posters were very interesting, some might say weird, the descriptions were equally interesting and worth reading.

Rambo is stylized like Jesus with long flowing hair and a wound in his side that emulates Christ’s on the cross. The artist has moved the bullet hole to his chest.
This poster uses the box cover as its inspiration but elaborates upon it by removing Arnold’s sunglasses and exposing part of his mental skull Also added a nude couple in the lower register, which could reference the only love scene in he movie. However, neither of them had black hair
The design draws from the official PAL box cover. However ,he has replaced the New York skyline in the lower register with an image of a Eddie Murphy in a coffin – a scene that does not appear in the film
This probably the most overly penticostal film in the exhibition, an exorcism leading to the destruction of the demon world and the salvation of a family
This poster does away with the lead-figures iconic mop and instead adds two semi-naked women at his feet who does not appear in the movie.
 
This design bears no resemblance to any material for the movie. Missing is the lead’s hybrid chainsaw-hand. This is the most complex posters in exhibit.
Box covers typically only show the carriage holding three creatures. The artist has added the knif held by the baby as well as three monsters floating above, all of them appear in movie but never on promotional material