Monday, October 25, 2010

A Walk Almost Around the Island of Manhattan!

Yes, we started out on Saturday morning, October 23rd at 8:45, right near Gracie Mansion, and took to the river path northward - on the Bobby Wagner Walk. This walk was at the request of Jim Wacht, who was inspired by a recent walk and an article in the New York Times - but he didn't just want to set out on his own - strolling aimlessly!

So, he enlisted my professional and experienced services for something that is more than just a casual walk in the park. He didn't want to lose himself in the wilds of a city he hadn't seen - even though he'd biked around it numerous times.

Jim sent out e-mails alerting his friends to this great event, and urged them to join in the fun. Ultimately, there were 8 and myself - oh, and Cooper the dog! (And I should have taken a picture of that cute thing, because at first I wasn't sure a dog would do the distance, or not be a hindrance, but no problem!)

We first walked up along the East River - and it's a nice walk:
Walking toward High Bridge

But this area didn't always look like this. No way! Check this photo:
The Harlem River, looking south to the Washington and High Bridges circa 1890

Soon, however, on July 3, 1898, in fact, this way was opened as a special drive. No, not the FDR Drive, of course. But, can you imagine this: the city perceived a need by the wealthy for a race course for their personal horses (and some of these individuals had many of them) so tax-payer money - more than a million dollars in the 1890s - was spent to make this playground for them.

The Speedway was a tremendous engineering feat - for the amusement of the "upper class."

But, there was a great formal opening of the Harlem River Speedway. Once we got past the inconveniences of 125th St., 135th St., and were able to get back to the river again, the going was easy. We did remark, however, that it was surprising how un-busy the East River is - at least on Saturday morning. But after the Speedway was opened -

The members of the sporting set flock to the Speedway to see the races! Fort George Hill is in the background. (From an undated postcard - colorized)

Well, by the time we had walked all the way up - I realized we had missed what would have been the real river traffic: the crews, rowing on the river! I had visited the Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse earlier in the week, and a young lady there told me that indeed this Saturday would be the busiest day of the week. But, maybe she meant that the rowers are early risers! We missed them. But, look at the gates. Quite an effect. And, of all people, the boathouse was designed by no other than Robert A. M. Stern Architects. Stern himself, while now the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, was previously Professor of Architecture and Director of the Historic Preservation Program at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University. (Is it significant that this isn't Columbia's boathouse, but one that's shared by Manhattan College, NYU, Fordham, and the New York RowingAssociation? Probably not.) But it's so refreshing to see such developments happening up around Dyckman Street - where hardly anyone ever ventures.

Look at this marvelous, floating boathouse:

The Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse

So, perhaps the "high-flyers" of the 21st Century aren't equestrians, and are boaters instead. After all, it's much better for one's health - and is much cheaper than keeping horses!

Right next to the boathouse are we discovered Swindlers Cove - and another fruit, so to speak, of the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), founded by Bette Midler. We found a glorious little park:

Hmm. What have we here? Quite a lot, actually!

It is really a small park, but it does do wonders to relax and reinvigorate a walker on a trek.

- and there is a restroom there too, as well as many very comfortable places to rest and ponder where to go next.

And so we rested!

We are almost ready to really rest: to have lunch. But we must do what we have to do - tweet:

We actually had followers in cyberspace - cheering us on in our marathon quest to circumambulate the island! So, Meryl, Jim's wife and a travel writer herself, kept all apprised on our discoveries and progress toward our ultimate goal.

We had just come down the hill (in the background) from the railroad tracks, after lunch at the Indian Road Cafe, and were marveling at the Little Red Lighthouse.

Next Stop: Watch for my next installment!

Monday, October 11, 2010

October 9, 2010 - On John Lennon's Birthday

Rowboats on the lake - hundreds on the Bethesda Terrace; but I'm ... in the woods?

Yes, everybody in New York was out this past weekend - and more than that was in the Central Park. Where does everyone come from? It seems, however, that there are still places ....

... where a little privacy can be found. Not that I was looking to butt in; I walked on and away.

Yet, it was lovely to see so many out, in the park, and on the water - in the largest city in North America.

And, on John Lennon's birthday: "Imagine all the people living life in peace."

That evening, at Summer Stage in Rumsey Field, the park screened a new documentary "LennonNYC" which all of us can see on PBS on November 22. We can then see how the city energized him, we're told - maybe as we all can be too?

It's autumn! Go out - walk - see what is new!

And I did that day myself - just by walking around the corner of E. 71st St., from Park Avenue, onto Madison as I was heading to the park ... but wow! What did I see?

It's the new Ralph Lauren store for Home and Women - where his Polo store was, remember? It officially opens this Friday, October 15, I believe. Might be worth a visit!

I have drawn a strong contrasting image, but this is New York, and I think it's all about beauty and energy - and don't forget, when people really live together, really are together .... Well, imagine ....!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's Time to Take a Walk ...

I am the one here to tall you about walking, and why it's important to go out there among the people of the city -0 your city, any city or town - and walk miles if you have to so that you can feel the changes in your city.

So, I've been so busy lately (and only some of that business was real work - but we'll talk about that another time) that I haven't just taken a direction and followed it. Today - I did.

I was down at the World Trade Center site, in fact - and don't make a mistake: they're building alright. Seven days a week. No delays now. The Memorial will be ready by next September 11, and One World Trade Center will be topped out in 2013.

I was downtown to see an insurance agent, so I walked down to 45 Broadway - but I went a different route.

Yes, as you all know, we have a lot of tourists in town. And many of them are Asian. Here was one taking a picture of the construction at the Trade Center Site - just before he and his companions returned to their coach:

I'm happy so many are taking part even in that way in our rebuilding - it makes for a more exciting celebration when it's all finished, I'm sure.

And after my appointment I took a walk up to the West Village through Tribeca.

But, and I'm sure you'll recognize this phenomenon: I discovered something so amazing I forgot to take a picture of it! What was that?

Well, I learned where the Mysterious Bookshop went after it left West 56th Street 5 years ago (or was it longer? Even the nice fellow at the register couldn't remember!). It is at 58 Warren Street now. Check it out!

Yes, yes, I bought another book. But - not just any book! No, a special book: the second of the mystery books that (dum de dum dum) Gypsy Rose Lee wrote: "Mother Finds a Body" - in hardcover - with a dustjacket! Such a deal!

And I bet there's a few of you out there who don't know who Gypsy Rose Lee was (shame on you), and even more who don't know how she relates not only to New York City but to the even greater and wider world of letters of the world!
Stay tuned! Your guide will tell all!