NYC – The North Woods-Ravine and more

Read – Construction in the area March 20, 2021

updated for future planning

This year where traveling is limited and keeping a safe distance is hard to achieve, why not a nice walk in the woods. [ the photos are from a fall walk but it is a nice walk in any season.

The North Woods is located at the very northern part of Central Park. It has the feeling of being in the woods. It is a little off the typical tourist area but on a nice day is worth a visit.

You can start this walk from two directions.

The first is from the Meer and walk west and then around the pool where, in a parking lot, (maybe construction detours during 2021) you will see a stone arch You are now in The Ravine. The second approach is from the west side (1ooth Street) starting at the Pond.  The Pond is a small lake with green lawns, a waterfall and a loch at the other end. Walk to the end of the pond and  follow the stream into the Ravine.

There is much more to see in this part of the park. Here is an excellent link with a good map here.

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NYC – Three Kings Parade – Celebration – 2021 (Virtual)

Updated from 2017

El Museo del Barrio is delighted to present the 44th Annual Three Kings Day (Virtual) Celebration on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, titled Fuerza Colectiva: Celebrating our Roots and Diversity. The upcoming celebration honors and embraces our community’s collective strength in response to the pandemic and injustice, and the cultural contributions of the African diaspora. The Museum’s first-ever virtual celebration, hosted and directed by TV personality and Producer, Rhina Valentin, will include musical performances, festive skits, cameos by our famous giant puppets, and saludos from this year’s honorees.

It is a small event as NYC events go. In the past it had  mostly parents  participating with three children. It is but one of many activities that make NYC neighborhoods great.

https://www.elmuseo.org/event/3kings-schools/

Photo are from past years.

and  the cleanup crew…

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Elizabeth Street (Little Italy) – delightful garden

Updated from 2015

There is a small park – Elizabeth Street Gardens – on Elizabeth Street , between Prince & Spring streets (Little Italy) that is very unusual. While not open all the time it is a great place to have lunch (bring your own) or picnic or sit in the shade. You will be surrounded by statuary of all kinds. Oh by the way, it is free. Check here for when open.

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The Elizabeth Street Gallery, open to the public in a park like setting, contains a variety of ornamental stonework, some of it depicting mythological figures

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I walked the length of Elizabeth Street and found most of the people enjoying the day. The restaurants were busy and  those stores that were open had customers.

Most of the buildings in the area are multifamily, or apartment buildings dating from the first decade or two of the 20th Century

Some people think that the boundary between Chinatown and SOHOis mid-block between Kenmare and Spring,  The area to the south is mostly Chinese.

Before  the virus arrived the northern area was home to upscale galleries and shops north of Kenmare.

As of this date,  many shops have closed due to the pandemic. The street is filled mostly with outside dining. and there is a lot of construction going on. However, visiting the garden is still very enjoyable and all along the street people were animated and enjoying their visit. Most wearing masks and other than restaurants and bars, keeping some separation between each other

I am confident that after we solve the health situation  These  two blocks just South of Houston will, again, become quite alive and quite trendy.

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Carved, painted and lettered shingle signs that hang over the sidewalk are becoming popular in the neighborhoods where the hip people go,

 Photos taken on November 8, 2020

Trivia

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Elizabeth and Hester may be the only intersection in Manhattan where both streets are women’s first names, though Hester isn’t used much anymore. Elizabeth Street is one of the few major streets in Manhattan that begins and ends at a T-shaped intersection.

Veterans Day – 2020

First posted 2019

Many of us who live in New York City, as well as those who visit, may not get the chance to visit many of our public parks. I came across this article from the NYC Parks Department and wondered how many other comminities have memorials, to veterans, that are rarely visited.

5 of the Places in Parks that Honor Our Veterans

There are hundreds of memorials honoring the nation’s veterans spread throughout the city’s parks. Here are a few of the memorials we encourage you to visit to pay respect to our soldiers.

Visit our War Memorials in Parks page to find out more about the monuments near you and the battles they commemorate. 

Brooklyn War Memorial

Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn

Brooklyn War Memorial, source: Wikicommons, Ingfbruno.

source: Wikicommons, Ingfbruno.

This granite and limestone memorial is dedicated to the more than 300,000 heroic men and women of the borough of Brooklyn who served in World War II. Inside are displayed approximately 11,500 names of Brooklyn service members who died during the war.

Learn more about Brooklyn War Memorial

Van Cortlandt Memorial Grove

Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx

Van Cortlandt Memorial Grove

The Memorial Grove honors local servicemen who fought in World War II, local soldiers who served and lost their lives in the Korean War, and those from the community who served in the Vietnam War. A variety of oak trees (a symbol of strength and endurance) were planted to provide shade and create a tranquil area for reflective contemplation. Bronze plaques dedicated to twenty-one soldiers were placed beneath each newly planted tree. In addition, plaques to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and to the sons of the American Gold Star Mothers were also dedicated.

Learn more about Van Cortlandt Memorial Grove

East Coast Memorial

Battery Park, Manhattan

East Coast Memorial

This awe-inspiring monument consists of an eagle gazing past eight 19-foot tall granite pylons on which are inscribed the names of the 4,601 American servicemen who died in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II.

Learn more about East Coast Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Kissena Park, Queens

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The memorial plaza and sculpture honors the forgotten heroes of the Korean War. The bronze sculpture by artist William Crozier consists of a larger-than-life solitary soldier. On a smaller scale behind him are the silhouettes of five soldiers carrying a stretcher and scaling the dangerous mountain terrain of Korea. The plaza surrounding the memorial has two types of granite paving stones that are laid in an asymmetric pattern symbolic of the rice fields of Korea. Prairie grass, which is native across the U.S., grows at the base of the sculpture and represents the soldier’s return home.

Learn more about Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Hiker

Tompkinsville Park, Staten Island

The Hiker

This statue honors the local soldiers who served in the Spanish-American War. Depicting a foot soldier dressed in military fatigues, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, the image is derived from the long marches that the infantry endured in the tropical Cuban climate.

Learn more about The Hiker

NYC – The Day of the Dead Celebration during a busy weekend of concerns

Publication delayed due to election.

Day of the Dead statuettes

Over the years of writing this blog, I have tried to include the many  traditions of different cultures. On November 2nd was a celebration called “Dia de Murtos” or The Day of Dead – it  is a time to honor and revere deceased family members and ancestors.
 It is important to pass on to each generation the celebrations that embrace their heritage. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities is a time honored celebration.
They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. Celebrations are bright and lively, in belief that the souls of the dead are still alive and can return home annually during this time.  Nov. 1 is the Day of the Innocents to pay tribute to deceased infants.

To celebrate, people built altars, called ofrendas, to the dead. The altars incorporate photos of the deceased, their possessions, sugar skull decorations (see below) and their favorite food and beverages, including pan de muertos (“bread of the dead”). Altars also feature orange marigolds, the Aztec’s flower of the dead. It is used to attract souls to their altar.

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Skull imagery is central to Día de los Muertos celebrations, with people painting their faces in ornate skulls and buying or making sugar skulls.

The Sugar Skull Tradition
Sugar art was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century. The first Church mention of sugar art was from Palermo at Easter time when little sugar lambs and angels were made to adorn the side altars in the Catholic Church.

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Actual Sugar Skull made of sugar

Mexico, abundant in sugar production and too poor to buy fancy imported European church decorations, learned quickly from the friars how to make sugar art for their religious festivals. Clay molded sugar figures of angels, sheep and sugar skulls go back to the Colonial Period 18th century.
Sugar skulls represented a departed soul, had the name written on the forehead and was placed on the home ofrenda or gravestone to honor the return of a particular spirit. Sugar skull art reflects the folk art style of big happy smiles, colorful icing and sparkly tin and glittery adornments.

Sugar skulls are labor intensive and made in very small batches in the homes of sugar skull makers. These wonderful artisans are disappearing as fabricated and imported candy skulls take their place.
 It is more of a cultural holiday than a religious one. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the memories of our loved ones who are now gone… through art, cooking, music, building ofrendas, doing activities with our children, we can recount family stories, fun times and lessons learned… not how the person died, but how they lived.

NYC – East Harlem – Graffitti

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Sunday afternoon in NYC – time to capture the  color of our graffiti artists.

Click on photos to enlarge and utilize slideshow

The Graffiti  was photographed between east 102 Street and east 108th Street. Along 3rd Avenue and Park Avenue Updated October 2020.

NYC – are there really gates at the Central Park entrances?

Updated September 2020

 

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There are 20 gates to Central Park, but most people don’t even know they exist. But what of Central Park’s original gates? There is no charge for entering the park, and no turnstiles or gatehouses are visible as you walk through the openings in the low stone wall along its borders. But if you look closely, you will see that some entrances have names carved into the sandstone: Scholars’ Gate, Hunters’ Gate, Explorers’ Gate.

These named gates honor groups of New Yorkers such as Scholars, Artisans, Merchants, and Artists—all the variety of hard-working people who make New York a world-class city. The names were chosen in 1862 by the park’s commissioners to try to represent the people who might be using the park and their professions. They represent a bygone era.

Answer: The Park originally intended to install modest gates at the entrances to close the Park at midnight. When they could not agree on a design, they put off the decision and left gaps in the wall that still remain today.

While the names were used on maps, the gates were not inscribed with their names until 1999. 

The board also wanted to install small statues at each Park entrance representing the group for which the gate had been named. While the idea did not fully come to fruition, two gates do have nearby homages to their namesakes.

You can find these statues at Inventors’ Gate (East 72nd Street) in the form of Samuel F.B. Morse, and at Naturalists’ Gate (West 77th Street) with a statue of Alexander Von Humboldt.

 

Enter at the Children’s Gate on Fifth Avenue near 76th Street: there is a playground, and if you wander between this gate and Inventors’ Gate at West 72nd Street you will see the statues of Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen. There is the model boat pond to conquer if you can ship aboard a vessel heading out to sea. For the space of one’s childhood, perhaps, it is possible to believe in growing up to become an inventor.

Opposite Merchants’ Gate at Columbus Circle, it is eerily appropriate to see the Time Warner Center towering higher every day as a testament to the power of the American corporation.

 

Strangers’ Gate at 106th Street and Central Park West marks an entrance opposite the building once thought as a haunted castle. A black slate stairway leads into the park at Strangers’ Gate, and to enter the park there is to enter a fairy tale: a wilderness welcoming all strangers.

There is no Clerks’ Gate, a common profession at the time. Also there is no Lawyers’ Gate, Therapists’ Gate or Computer Programmers’ Gate.

There are 18 original names in all: Artisans’, Artists’, Boys’, Children’s, Engineers’, Farmers’, Girls’, The Gate of All Saints, Hunters’, Mariners’, Merchants’, Miners’, Pioneers’, Scholars’, Strangers’, Warriors’, Women’s and Woodmen’s.

Names have been added to the original eighteen, but I believe the list below is the full, current list with their locations:

East 110th Street     Pioneers’ Gate
East 102nd Street     Girls’ Gate
West 100th Street     Boys’ Gate
East 96th Street     Woodman’s Gate
East 90th Street     Engineers’ Gate
West 85th Street     Mariners’ Gate
East 79th Street     Miners’ Gate

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West 77th Street     Naturalists’ Gate – added later


East 72nd Street     Inventors’ Gate   –  added later
East 64th Street     Children’s Gate
East 60th Street     Scholars’ Gate

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Sixth Avenue     Artists’ Gate
Seventh Avenue     Artisans’ Gate
Columbus Circle     Merchants’ Gate
West 72nd Street     Women’s Gate

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West 81st Street     Hunters’ Gate
West 96th Street     Gate of all Saints

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West 106th Street     Strangers’ Gate

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Adam Clayton Powell Blvd     Warriors’ Gate
Lenox Avenue     Farmers’ Gate

I have not photographed all of them and will when I am in the area. It is a large park!

Source article   NY Times

 
 
 
 

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?