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

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 – 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

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

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

NYC – A Mid-Town Art Gallery and Pedestrian Walk you may have missed

Recently, I was making my way down 6th Avenue from Central Park.  I decided to go towards 5th Avenue on 57th Street.  I have been on this street many times and it’s where I first discovered  6 1/2Avenue. Today, I found another pedestrian way that is open and full of surprises. Just a block away at west 40. It simply brings pedestrians from one street to another.

 

It is fully covered, yet door-less and brightly lit with welcoming, whimsical, sculptures lining the walls by the likes of Tom Otterness, Fernando Botero, Manolo Valdes, Jacques Lipchitz to name just a few.

Today sculptures by Tom Otterness formed a very inviting path.

(Everyone I know loves Tom Otterness’ “Life Underground,” the Fraggle Rock Doozer-like small bronze characters inhabiting the 8th Avenue L train station.)

The pedestrian walk is part of the Marlborough Gallery, located at 40 w57th.

Note: This location is on the edge of Midtown but is a short walk from Columbus Circle, Carnegie Hall and MOMA (Lower floor galley is free).  Also, from Lincoln Center, you can walk down Broadway and pass near here and 6 ½ Avenue. You could then continue towards Rockefeller Center.

Previous Blog – 6 1/2 Avenue

 

NYC – East of Midtown – a walk around east 54th and 2nd Avenue – Updated August 2019

I wrote this blog over a year ago. I mentioned an almost hidden church, today, I came across an article inUntapped Cities

about the Norwegian Seamen’s Church, it is very well done. I thought you might enjoy it.

Tucked in Midtown with a facade of stained glass windows is a church founded for Swedish seamen that has a cozy secret: a hidden coffee shop… Read the article here

 

My original article begins here

Here is a look into a neighborhood a bit off the grid of tourist areas.  I selected an area bounded by east 54th street, east 52nd Street, and Sutton Place and 3rd avenue. Some people call this part of Turtle Bay. The area has very little to offer but I found a few interesting places of interest.

I found myself looking through the locked doors of the Norwegian Seamen’s Church and wondering how to get inside, just then a passing mailman that just yelled to me to press the two white buttons, magically, the door clicked open. (I love going into interesting buildings)

Norwegian Seamen’s Church

A smiling young man greeted me and allowed me to come inside for a visit. The church is a part of Norwegian Church Abroad. Along with being a church it also holds an assortment of events and art exhibitions.  There’s a small store and cafe inside the church that offers coffee, waffles, and a few Nordic packaged goods.  The store had a few friendly people having a coffee away from the bustle of midtown. There is a Gallery located downstairs from the “church” and has a nice collection of Scandinavian art.  Upstairs there is a small library/reading room with a fairly impressive collection of books in Norwegian.

 

The New York City Bath House Building – a very impressive building, on east 54th.

The center’s original purpose was to provide sanitary facilities for the city’s working classes and much of its original character and history remain. The basketball court and jogging track are connected by two wrought ironwork spiral staircases, The vaulted ceiling in the gymnasium and the lobby are indicative of the architecture of the time. Marble walls in the locker rooms hearken back to the original marble baths. (Not allowed to photograph swimming pools)

 

 

What you find off the beaten path are often small ethnic restaurants.

 

 

Extra things I found along the walk.