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 -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

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.

 

 

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.

——

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