little guardians of nature – Apple Heads

Many of you who follow this blog have read my experiences on finding new and different objects within NYC. Yesterday, I discovered some very unusual objects on fence posts at a park I visit every day.

Joanne Howard, artist

I was surprised to find them but more surprised to find out that they were probably there for the past five months.

So, with a little research, here is the story:

Last March, more than 40 scrunched-up apples carved into distinctive human faces and cast in bronze were placed in a small NYC park- Carl Schurz Park.

The exhibition consisted of carving human faces into apples and letting them dry out, causing them to resemble wizened elders, with seemingly unique, human-like personalities.

They were then cast in bronze and screwed into fenceposts along East End Avenue near the park’s main entrance, as well as along “Cherry Alley,” which leads to the park’s central garden.

Difficult to spot

The artist, Joanne Howard wrote that the three-inch-tall heads are “subtle,” and will likely go unnoticed by many park visitors. I think of them as little guardians of nature, protectors of the trees,” Howard said. “I think there’s something whimsical about them.”

No matter how boring a walk can be, along the same path, there is always hope in finding something new.

NYC – Flowers an Inspiration

A limited series that first appeared on Facebook and Instagram

Taking a little break from the streets of NYC to highlight the flowers that help make our visual world so interesting.

click for larger image

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.

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-Central Park-Bethesda Terrace-carvings -slightly updated

New York City’s Central Park is a must place to visit and the Bethesda Terrace (fountain) should not be missed. It is a magnificent terrace that has much to see – a towering fountain, a beautiful lake, a distant boat house and, often missed, intricate carvings on the railings and columns of the Terrace.

Over the past years I have returned to the Terrace area many times and my latest visit brought my attention to the intricate carvings that adorn the railings and columns. I found that they are placed in groups to represent each of the four season’s .

I came across a FB video describing the carvings in great detail. The video is from the Central Park Conservatory and is well done however the background noise can be a little distracting (not sure to put volume up or put your ear to the speaker/.

video here

I had intended to create a longer blog but I think the video will do a better job of showing these marvelous carvings. I encourage you to take a look the next time you visit NYC

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