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 -Visiting during the Pandemic – my thoughts.

I am often asked about walking in NYC. The virus has kept many of us homebound and we all have the urge to get out but how to that in the safest way possible? I must confess that before writing this, I never looked at the written CDC guidelines; I mostly relied on information from TV shows and newspapers.

During my walks I generally stay outside and I keep moving. I figure the less time I am around the same people the better my chances of surviving exposure. So here is my condensed version of what to know about coming into the city. It is not complete but a start in living through our “new normal”. ( Guideline) link below)

  • Stay home if sick.
  • Best way to come into the city…

Walking won’t work, driving in might work, public transportation is risky but possible -mask, distance and stay away from commuting times might work. Other than that, I have no idea!

  • Wear masks in public settings and especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Use social distancing (stay at least 6 feet away from others).
  • Washing your hands with soap and water may be difficult to do so bring with you hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes – use either or both often.
  • Be aware of where you are going, look ahead, and avoid walking through heavily populated groups.
  • Also, be mindful when waiting at crosswalks and try to stay either behind the crowd or near the outside of the crush.

Eating – when our kids were younger we would pack a lunch and find a secluded spot (they do exist) or a park to eat in … your call!

Restaurants

  • Before you go into a restaurant (remember no inside dining), look to see if all staff are wearing masks and that they are cleaning tables between guests. Are the tables 6 feet apart? [Only takes a minute to stand outside and observe]
  • Take precautions – like wearing a mask as much as possible when not eating and maintaining a proper social distance if you are dining with others who don’t live with you.
  • When possible, choose food and drink options that are not self-serve [Salad bars] to limit the use of shared serving utensils, handles, buttons, or touchscreens.
  • Use those wipes for your credit card when card is returned after every use.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands when entering and exiting the restaurant [In fact any place you are going into].
  • Before using the restroom, make sure you have sanitizer with you, there might not be adequate soap, paper towels or hand sanitizer. Ladies bring tissues as often there are none in public bathrooms.

There are a lot of outside activities that can be enjoyed as well as safe-in-door events. Most stores require social distancing and/or have restrictions on number of people allowed in the store.

I imagine that these precautions would apply to any city so be careful…be safe… be informed.

For more info:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/personal-social-activities.html

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 – 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.

 

 

NYC – NYC Stuck inside? Dreams of a Lottery Win – Special Edition

This re-post of an “extra” edition is more of a fantasy page but it does refer to real works of art.

You might be getting bored with reading books, watching movies and dozing off . I suggest that  you might want to add a wish to your day-dreams.

Mine was winning the lottery. So, if you won a bunch of money, what would you spend your winnings on?

Here are some items I would consider…

Note: All estimates of value are at the minimum price. Also, thanks to Sotheby’s for sharing their art.

Place cursor over photograph for info and  price.

(prices may have increased/decreased  since 2016)

 

May your dreams come true, too!

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. 

 

 
 

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.

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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