odds & ends; Battery Park

Although it’s only 21 acres, Battery Park contains dozens of monuments and memorials, here are a few:

The Korean War Veterans Memorial designed by Mac Adams was installed in 1991. The piece also functions as a sundial, every July 27 at 10 a.m., the anniversary of the exact moment in New York when hostilities ceased in Korea, the sun shines through the soldier’s head and illuminates the commemorative plaque installed in the ground.

The Merchant Mariners’ Memorial by sculptor Marisol was also installed in 1991. The design is based on photographs of an actual historical event; during World War II a Nazi U-boat attacked a merchant marine vessel, while the mariners clung to their sinking ship the Germans photographed their victims. It includes one seamen in the water, submerged with each high tide.

Pier A was built in 1884, the clock tower was installed in 1919 is a memorial to US servicemen who died during WWI. The pier was originally built for the Dept. of Docks and Harbor Police and wasused for many years as the main station for the Fire Dept’s. Marine Division.

The Sphere, by sculptor Fritz Koenig, once stood in the plaza between the World Trade Center towers.  Six months after the attacks it was relocated to Battery Park, without any repairs, and formally rededicated with an eternal flame as a memorial t the victims of 9/11.

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A Foggy Day in Richmondtown

Most of NYC enjoyed a glorious day of sunshine after the morning fog lifted…it apparently all moved to Staten Island where the coastal areas remained shrouded in mist all day.

the Verrazano Bridge from Ft.Wadsworth

Battery Weed on the waterfront

                                 a hidden passage through the thickets

Cedar Grove Beach on the south shore wasn’t any brighter

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Art Deco Public Works

Bas-relief friezes on the Bowery Bay Water Pollution Control Plant opened in 1939

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Ft.Greene Park; almost Spring

It may officially still be Winter, but don’t tell that to the flowers….

Ft.Greene Park was established as Brooklyn’s first park in 1847 and is named after a Revolutionary War era fort that was built in 1776 under the supervision of General Nathanael Greene.

After the war locals enjoyed visiting the grounds of the old fort for recreation. Brooklyn resident, and at the time editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Walt Whitman rallied popular support for a park.  He appealed for a pleasant retreat for city dwellers, “a place of recreation. . .where, on hot summer evenings, and Sundays, they can spend a few grateful hours in the enjoyment of wholesome rest and fresh air.”

In 1867 landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, designers of Central Park, were hired to prepare a new design for the park and a crypt for the remains of the Revolutionary War prison ship martyrs.

1880 monument

During the war thousands of American “rebels” were held in deplorable conditions on British prison ships anchored in nearby Wallabout Bay. Over 11,000 prisoners died on the ships, their bodies thrown overboard or buried in shallow graves along the shore.

The renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White was hired in 1905 to design a new entrance to the crypt with a wide granite stairway leading to a plaza on top of the hill and at the center, a freestanding Doric column crowned by a bronze lantern; President-elect William Howard Taft attended the monument’s dedication in 1908.

photo taken from the old elevated train platform

They also built the neoclassical comfort station (now the visitor center)

view from the plaza

from the top of the steps

and from street level

The playground was redesigned in 1995 and includes stone pillars featuring bronze plaques that identify the state trees and animals of the original thirteen colonies.

etchings courtesy of  Fort Greene Park Conservancy

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odds & ends: Remains

remain: to be left after the removal, loss, destruction, etc., of all else

car Gerritsen Creek

art installation? Gerritsen Creek

barge Luyster’s Creek

table legs Bushwick

heart-shaped tree Forest Park

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Spring…is that you?

Just a few weeks ago the kettle pond in Forest Park was frozen over

No more ice now, instead the first signs of Spring




Golfers hitting the green….

well almost green….

The carousel will be open soon

wonder what they’re going to do with all the left-over salt?

Forest Park is one of New York City’s natural treasures, one of the last natural densely forested parks in New York City. The Wisconsin glacier molded the land 20,000 years ago and left the Harbor Hill Moraine, creating a series of small hills, known as “knob and kettle” terrain. In 1895, the first parcel of land in what would later become Forest Park was purchased. Because of the numerous landowners involved, the park had to be procured in 124 parcels. When the last of the 538 acres of land was obtained in 1898, Brooklyn and Queens were part of New York City. Thus, the original name of the planned park, Brooklyn Forest Park, was shortened to its present title. Conceived by Frederick Law Olmsted, the wandering design of the park’s main drive offers the pastoral quality evident in other New York City flagship parks planned by the renowned architect.        

Opened in 1905 as a nine-hole course, the 110-acre Forest Park Golf Links at the park’s western edge now boasts 18 holes.           

The Forest Park Carousel holds some of the last surviving creations of master wood-carver Daniel Carl Muller. The carousel was first operated in 1903 in Dracut, Massachusetts, then taken apart and stored for later use.  It received another renovation in 1988 and began operating again in the summer of 1989.” Parks Dept.

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When Schools Mattered

As superintendent of school buildings from 1891 to 1922, C.B.J Snyder designed close to 350 schools, plus numerous additions and other school improvements. Snyder put up 5, 10, sometimes 15 buildings a year, ranging from giants like Erasmus, Curtis and Morris high schools to public schools in almost every neighborhood, these new schools symbolized the commitment of the city to care for and even uplift its citizens, many of whom were new immigrants.

Bronx;Morris, Brooklyn;Erasmus, Staten Island;Curtis

Snyder’s schools attracted occasional criticism for ”unnecessary ornamentation” but the city board replied that it was ”worth every cent — in the long run the modest and appropriate adornment of schoolhouses would do much more to raise the level of public taste than any amount of money spent on more sumptuous and conspicuous municipal edifices.”  Social reformer Jacob Riis wrote of Snyder  “He found barracks, where he is leaving palaces to the people.”

270 of his  buildings are still in use, over 20 (and counting) have been designated New York City landmarks.

Throughout my travels around NYC I’ve photographed some of these schools without realizing they were the work of one man.

P.S. 277 Bronx (landmark)

P.S. 66 Queens (landmark)

P.S.66 detail

P.S.95 Brooklyn (landmark)

P.S. 95 detail

P.S. 95 detail

P.S. 109  in East Harlem ( National Register of Historic Places) has been closed since 1996; community groups saved it from demolition and want it restored as a school, but some local politicians and other interests want it converted into apartments &/or art spaces. It remains empty as neither side has come up with funding.

(H.S. photos courtesy of NYC DoE and Creative Commons)
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odds & ends; The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum

Antonio Meucci, rarely mentioned in history books, is considered to be the true inventor of the telephone.  Meucci filed for a preliminary patent application for his ”teletrofono” in 1871 but was hampered by a lack of funds and command of the  English language.  Alexander Graham Bell went on to successfully patented his version of the telephone in 1876.

After being forced to flee Italy in 1850, Giuseppe Garibaldi sought refuge with his friends, the Meucci family, on Staten Island.  He returned to Italy in 1854 and became an international hero for his role in the fight for the independence and unity of Italy.

Garibaldi 1861

The Gothic-revival style Meucci house was built in the 1840s.

19th century drawing

After Garibaldi died in 1882, a marble plaque was installed over the front door to commemorate his time in Staten Island.

In 1907, on the centennial of Garibaldi’s birth, the house was moved two blocks to its present location where a pantheon was erected over it by the Garibaldi Society. The columned dome was stucco and wood and sat on a concrete base, making it one of the oddest architectural structures in New York City.

berenice abbott 1937

In 1956 the National Order Sons of Italy, which had controlled the memorial since 1919, demolished the decrepit pantheon, filled the restored house with artifacts from Meucci and Garibaldi, and opened the house as a museum.

original front, now rear, of the house

candle furnace in the backyard

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Brooklyn Gothic; Wallabout

The neighborhood of Wallabout was recently designated as a landmark district largely because it contains  one of the greatest concentration of remaining pre-Civil War wood-frame houses in NYC.

Amongst the well maintained houses on Vanderbilt Avenue, just south of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is one of the oldest houses (early 1830s) in the area.

 then a few doors down there was this…….

                                              (Before and After; November/ December)

According to Brownstoner; these two “vernacular Greek Revival” design houses were built by carpenter Richard Pease in 1849 (Vernacular signifying that the house was designed and built by someone who was not a trained architect).

The history of the Wallabout can be traced back to 1624 when a group of Walloons, French-speaking Protestants from what is now Belgium, settled along the shore of the East River bay and named it Waal-bogt. Since the flatlands along the river were not considered to be as prestigious as the uplands several blocks south, much of the construction in Wallabout continued to be wood houses rather than the more expensive brick or brownstone dwellings found in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.

1766 map

view from the Navy Yard 1850s

                                           Vanderbilt Ave. 1930s

(archival images NYPL)

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odds & ends; Elevated Acre

various spots photographed over the past months……

“Rogers Marvel Architects won an international open competition to transform this one-acre elevated plaza in New York’s financial district. The project turns a barren, windswept hard deck into a vibrant, multi-programmed, accessible public park. Sculptural escalators, elevators, plantings, and terraces encourage pedestrians to enter from the street level below. Part of the Green Necklace that will encircle Manhattan, the Elevated Acre offers new panoramic views of the Brooklyn Bridge and New York Harbor.” 2005

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