May 29, 2018

The Sidewalks of New York

by Rosemary

On one of our many long walks in New York, we strolled through a small section of Central Park.

Horse-drawn carriages are available to take tourists into the park.

People in Sheep Meadow enjoying the warm weather.

Daniel Webster looks stern, but he gently cradles a bird's nest.

We visited Strawberry Fields, a small garden that includes the "Imagine" mosaic, installed to honor John Lennon, who was murdered not far from here in 1980.

Architectural detail on the railing outside the Dakota, an apartment building known for its many celebrity residents, including the late John Lennon.

Our hotel was in the Garment District, and we spent a lot of time walking its streets on our way to other locations. The self-service information booth is next to a huge sculpture of a needle threading a button.

"The Garment Worker" is a 1984 bronze sculpture by Judith Weller and A. Oltavino.

This area now has its own walk of fame, with button-shaped sidewalk plaques commemorating fashion designers.

We weren't far from Times Square. This was once a dirty, disreputable area, known for its high crime rate. A cleanup effort starting in the mid-1990s has made it much more tourist friendly, resulting in the inevitable accusations of its having been excessively "Disneyfied". There certainly are plenty of cheery costumed characters, but there are also plenty of panhandlers, people under the influence, and the occasional topless lady. (One of those ladies offered to pose for photos with us, but we declined.)

This is where they drop the ball on New Year's Eve.

This 1959 statue of George M. Cohan (by Georg John Lober and Otto Langman) is captioned "Give My Regards to Broadway".

A trip to Manhattan would hardly be complete without seeing a Broadway show. We chose "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical," a "juke-box" musical based on the highlights of King's early life and career. It was nicely put together and very well-performed.

Also within waking distance of our hotel was Macy's. It claims to be the world's largest department store, and at 2.5 million square feet, it just might be.

Macy's, viewed from the Empire State Building.

The store has been here since 1902, and although it has been updated since then, some of the escalators looked like they were originals.

It rained off and on while we were in town; despite getting caught without an umbrella, we just kept on going.

If only my glasses had windshield wipers!

The marble arch in Washington Square Park was built in 1892 to celebrate the centennial of George Washington's 1789 presidential inauguration. Architect Stanford White modeled it after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Steve poses with a memorial tree.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral is a famous New York landmark. Not everyone realizes that it is the second New York cathedral with the same name. Old St. Pat's was completed in 1868, on the site of a previous structure that had been built between 1809 and 1815 and destroyed by fire in 1866. In the meantime, work on the new cathedral had begun in 1858, and was completed in 1878. The old cathedral is still active as a parish church. Its Gothic-revival style is reminiscent of many of the churches we have seen in Europe.

Of course, we also visited the "new" St. Patrick's. Its spires were the tallest structures in the city when they were added to the building in 1888. There have been a number of additions and modifications over the years, and the church underwent a major restoration between 2012 and 2015.

Big-screen TVs make it possible for those in the less advantageous seats to see what is going on.

As we walked around the city, we remembered to look up at the architectural details. Buildings that date back to the early and mid 1800s have been updated on the inside, but often retain the decorative exteriors that were typical of the period.

Many have been repurposed.

The Beaux Arts style Charles Scribner's Sons building is now home to an apparel store.

In the West Village, we found the building where my paternal grandfather lived in 1918. A hundred years ago, this was not a fashionable location. According to census records, there were three or four families per building on this street, which provided affordable housing for the working poor. This one was built in 1899, and there are buildings nearby that date back to the 1860s or earlier. Of course, these have all been renovated inside (and often outside as well), and are now single-family townhouses. Zillow estimates the current value of this former tenement house at $4.2 million.

The quintessential mid-century New Yorker just might be Ralph Kramden, the fictional bus driver star of "The Honeymooners". Next to the Port Authority Bus Terminal is a larger-than-life statue of Jackie Gleason as Kramden, dressed in his work uniform. It was placed there in 2000 by TV Land, the same people who brought us the "Bewitched" statue in Salem.

We were in New York for just a week, but there was so much to do and see that we have to keep writing about it. Another New York story should appear in a few days.

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