Monday, November 25, 2013

Walking out of Town!

We Did It Again - 
Over the River, and through the Woods!

The November Walk was almost epic 
We walked - and saw New York differently!

The crossing of the George Washington Bridge is an experience that is like an initiation: if we can get across here, enduring the noise and motion of all those vehicles, and stay away from both the edge of the bridge and out of the way of all the racing bicycles (or so it seems!), then we will have made it!  

We did feel that we had made it - over and up into the woods - and onward toward the cliff's edge.  This picture was about 3 miles up along the trail (the Long Path), about 5 miles from our start at 178th Street and Fort Washington Avenue.  

And to think that all this was being chipped and quarried away in the 19th century so Manhattan could have tall buildings, sidewalks, and sturdy docks for their ships!  It was a consortium of Women's Clubs that finally persuaded the governors of New Jersey and New York (Teddy Roosevelt) to form the Palisades Interstate Park.  

We stopped occasionally, and took pictures as I told stories of old mansions atop the cliffs - and even of hotels that had graced the cliffs.  
And this is the smaller version of the Palisades Mountain House - before it burned down 

We will do a somewhat similar walk in the Spring - but there will be other elements added to it to keep it current.  

After all, the LG Corporation is beginning to threaten to spoil the view from New York!  

Check out this link - and keep your eyes peeled for more information in the media! 

Stay tuned!  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Glorious Bridge Walk!

Pat takes the lead!
Saturday, October 19, 2013, was the day of the first Bridge Walk of the autumn season - and it turned out to be a marvelous day!  Cool at first, but warming, and never threatening any weather issues whatsoever.

In fact, it was such fun - and many have requested I reschedule it, so I have: the Second Bridge Walk to and through the Palisades will be on Sunday, November 10, 2013.  Also, we shall meet at the intersection of W. 178th St. and Fort Washington Avenue at 9:30 sharp.  Also, the cost will be only $25.  (To register or ask questions, just email or call 917-921-9273.)

But - let me tell you about and show you what we saw on our walk!

As you can see by the picture, one of our small group, Pat, is out ahead on the south walkway on the George Washington Bridge. Did you know that that is the busiest vehicular bridge in the world?  More than 102 million vehicles cross the bridge every year.
So, that will explain why for us that was the loudest part of out walk - but the views can be magnificent:
This is no ordinary river; its history is full of spectacular events, mundane every-day necessary events, and untold life-changing events - all from the wonderful Hudson River.  How could we surpass that?!

We didn't!  We just walked across it, and then up a short couple of stairways to the beginning of the Long Path and into the Palisades Interstate Park

The colors were really just coming out, so as we started we could make out the yellows and oranges on the leaves - and there was a hint of autumn coolness, or crispness, in the air - but it was warming up for us by that time.
                                                                                                    Because it was warming up for us as we reached this beginning, we were very comfortable, and could just stride on down the path - as if we were walking on a road.

This was almost such a sudden change, however - from the noise of cars and trucks on the bridge - to peacefulness.

I sometimes say to my travelers that you do have to look up from time to time: see the cornice work around many buildings, or admire the fine work on the upper stories of what they might think are ordinary buildings in the garment center.

Well, of course when you're out of the city, sometimes it is positively salutary to glance up at the sky above, and appreciate how light plays its magic on the clouds.  Yesterday we certainly had that opportunity.
This last picture shows quite a lot of green on the leaves.  Hmm.  I have time yet, you might think.

Yes, and then you might think Central Park provides all the color you need.  Oh, city folk - just enough, perhaps, to remind us all that yes, we live in the natural world, although in a quite organized one, and even one that's quite comforting,

But there's a virtue in - getting out of town!

Yes indeed!  So, plan on November 10 -  I think there may well be still some profusion of colors out across the Hudson on that Sunday, when I make our way across the Great Gray Bridge again.

But yesterday - what did we see?

Dreamers welcome
We were just an hour out of town here, I think, and we were miles and miles away from - Far Rockaway!  Yes, that's where Linda, one of my travelers, had come from that morning - and quite a trek that was for her.  Just the night before she resolved to - yes - get out of town, and called The Street Teacher to reserve a spot - no problem! - and she showed up at the corner of Ft. Washington and 178th Street ready to take the stroll.

She may have come from Far Rockaway that morning, but she was born in Haiti in fact - and never imagined, so she says, that this existed just outside New York City.  Everyone she knows thinks of New York as all buildings, and of Brooklyn as pretty much the same - and now, she said, she knows better.

Oh, yes!

Surprisingly, and suddenly, we saw that we weren't alone on our path: runners went by us, from both directions, and different times on our walk.  And we met others on the path too - but too abruptly for this photographer, I'm afraid.

Yes, when we finally reached an official view point, that's when we met quite a few who dropped in off the Parkway.
   We could see our Bridge (yes!  Our Bridge!) seeming so far away.  I think it may have been almost 4 miles by this point?

Soon we were able to cross under the Palisades Interstate Parkway and after a short walk up along Route 9W (we could have taken the Chism Path in the Tenafly Nature Center, but that's a frustratingly awkward trail, so I opted for efficiency) until we reached Hudson Avenue.  Avenue?  Well, a dirt road, but one we turned down and soon we found the heart of my woods - the woods I grew up in:
 This is Pfister's Pond - where people like my father used to skate, my brother played hockey of a sort, and I understand teenagers would go and light a bon fire as they did some night fishing - or skating in the dark (talk about dangerous!).  I just used to get there by hiking through the woods from behind my house - there were never any blazed trails, you just went out and more or less to the left (after the boulders, you know what I mean?) - it was a place we all went.

Now, well, after being threatened with the prospect of silos housing intercontinental ballistic missiles in the fifties, the town pushed back and eventually established the Tenafly Nature Center.

Well!  You'll have to come with me on the 10th to see and hear exactly what came next for us - but suffice it to say we were hungry.  We got to Tenafly's Classic Diner, and were ready to relax and eat!

Yes, indeed!  Pat, on the left, remembered her father's fondness for diners, so she summoned up a past fondness - and ordered grilled cheese with fries and a coke.  Linda and I, however, ordered chicken caesar wraps and were quite content.

Come on November 10 - and we'll see what's happening - we'll get out of town!

Reserve your place for our Bridge walk: e-mail, or call 917-921-9273


Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Walk in Palisades Interstate Park

Good morning everyone!

Yesterday I wrote about the showing of Mark Wiener's art at 1133 and 1155 Sixth Avenue - I hope you all make plans to go and see those two lobbies.  It is a terrific showing of great art.

And, I also want you to know that there is art not far from us - yet, across the river - that may be worth another sort of visit.

Earlier yesterday my friend Philippe and I went for a jaunt across the George Washington Bridge - and up the Palisades about 5 miles in Palisades Interstate Park to explore the nature of nature just across the great North River (as it's still called on some nautical charts).

The views are magnificent

Our walk was in the best weather: not too cool, not too warm, and sunny all the time.  I have never done this whole walk before.  Last time was just to Palisades Avenue, and then down through Englewood Cliffs, Englewood, and ending in Tenafly at the Cafe Angelique - with the bus back to Port Authority just a short walk away.

But this time that was less than half-way along the park's path.  We walked all the way to the Gate to the Greenbrook Sanctuary.  (If I can manage a membership there, well, that should be interesting!  Please check their website.)
Philippe takes a look across the river from the Rockefeller Lookout.
Then we crossed route 9W, and extended our walk into the Lost Brook Preserve, part of the 380 acres of the Tenafly Nature Center, onto the Little Chism Trail and trudged north to Hudson Avenue.  Yes, trudged!  The path was meandering, and although I knew by the map that it would get us where we wanted to go, Philippe's protestations that "we're going East!" were somewhat vexing; after all, this was new to me too!  

But, you see, I grew up in Tenafly and "knew" the place - sort of!  I hadn't gone on that path ever before.  And I still can't make out exactly why it's got that name: the Chisholm Trail was in Kansas where cattle were driven in the 19th century - but this didn't seem to be at all amenable to any sort of cattle!  

So, we got to the gravel section of Hudson Avenue, and making a left turn soon discovered (at least Philippe discovered it, I knew it was there) the Lambeer Mansion, which is a fine example of the French 2nd Empire style popular in the mid 19th Century.  The home was built in the 1860's, and is still a private home.  (Sorry!  No picture here - yet.)

But I am planning on offering you all a walk along these paths - promising much to discover! - in October, so stay tuned! 

Watch this blog - and check my website - for the announcement for this walk! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Mark Wiener Retrospective at 1133 and 1155 Avenue of the Americas

In the lobbies of two buildings on Sixth Avenue (or The Avenue of the Americas, if you insist) is a showing of the work of the late artist, and friend of mine, Mark Wiener (8/24/51 - 9/29/12), who passed away suddenly last year.  Having seen him create many pieces, and having brought people to see him and his wife, Linda, in their studio at 551 W. 21st Street, I feel a real sense of loss when I visited 1155 this evening for the opening of this show.

The lobby seemed a perfect venue for these exclamatory works.

The event was very populated with other artists and admirers, some of whom had come miles to see this.  Linda was the first person I recognized there - 

She was quite active - making sure people were welcomed, and enjoying their presence at what is more than just a show. 

But I looked at the paintings.  I admired their ability to capture my attention in different ways, each being from a different phase of his life and development.

He had said that the black and white paintings are reflections, in a way, of his impressions as he walked across town to his studio; his face like so many of ours looking down on the street, the sidewalk, the pavement sketched already with random and not-so-random markings, he was moved.  So, he called these works Street Markings. A wonderful conceit for this oeuvre.  His work leapt up - or, rather, out - at me: 

Often, when I dropped in on him and Linda at their studio I saw him working on one or more of these paintings.  But, he always had time for me, for visitors; he also always had time for all the other artists in the building too.  He is missed.  

I must go back - his paintings will be there and at 1133 through October; I must see and feel them again.

People are talking ....

Monday, September 16, 2013

The New Neighborhoods - are they Really New?

Oh, yes, New York City is more than full of neighborhoods - it's populated  with characters inhabiting them, and features of landscape unknown in nature.  One must walk and discover!

For example:
We always have the Empire State Building, right?  But New York is different at different times, places, and really, from different perspectives.  Where do you think I am to take this picture? 

And then there's geography that's been modified - and boy, how are city has been altered in these last twelve years: 

After walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, a friend an I discovered this bridge to - Pier One in Brooklyn Bridge Park!

Yes, this was quite an interesting bridge for Philippe, a structural engineer who simply loves bridges.  But so was where we ended up: 
In the woods on the - pier?

You have to get out more often!  That's all - see what's up, new, and what it's all about!  Walk!  

Friday, August 2, 2013


People living deeply have no fear of death.
Anais Nin 

Good summer everyone!  I hope you're all doing just what you want to do this summer - and if that
means catching up on your reading (and who hasn't been wondering when that free time would ever happen?), I have a walk or two in mind that can jog that guilty conscience and remind you of some of those "classics" that you still have somewhere on your shelves. (You like that quote above? Read more at )

Indeed, I will be leading two walks in Greenwich Village, both starting in Jackson Square at the northern end of Greenwich Avenue.  The first one is scheduled for August 11 from 1:00pm to roughly 3:30pm; the second at those same hours, but on August 25.

Register by clicking here and connect with my website - please be sure to leave your name and phone number!
23 Bethune St.

Jackson Square
 I will be leading you around the village and talking about writers who would "live deeply," who would find and express themselves as best they could.  Writers such as John Cheever, Willa Cather, Edward Estlin Cummings, Henry Miller and Anais Nin - and Margaret Wise Brown, author of "Good Night Moon", who had perhaps a quite different audience but was searching for a life as meaningful as any of the others.  And, after all, what was the Village back then?

So, come with me, The Street Teacher, and be introduced to these personalities and more, on my August Walks.  Register by clicking here and connect with my website - please be sure to leave your name and phone number!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hot Time, Summer in the City ... !

I'm writing now (on July 23) when the temperature has finally found a home below 90 degrees, and the humidity is tolerable.  In fact, as I write now the Mid Manhattan Library is cooled just by fans.  The big ones, whirring as I type, wafting warm breezes around these second floor stacks.

But these past weeks!  OMG! (As certain of the youthful set might have remarked.)  Some of my travelers were delighted with the Water Feature on the High Line:
 And still others took the invitation for a dip a little too literally!
 But it certainly is a welcome feature, for otherwise it can be pretty hot up there.
 Later that day I looked down Broadway from above Great Jones Street - and there gleamed No. 1 World Trade Center:
 The next day, as I was walking with my two visitors from Wisconsin, who should I spot but:
 "Tom" turkey?  Yes!  A wild turkey, calmly walking along the promenade of Battery Park City -
 - conversing with other visitors to the park.  Right?

But, for other would-be wild animals, in other climes, I'm sure this was a hot, hot, time! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spring Really Has Arrived! Time to Get Out!

Join Us for a Walk Monday, May 20 - Free!

 Monday I will be meeting a friend and taking a walk on the High Line in the late morning, starting at about 30th Street - the present top of the High Line.  If you're planning to be in the neighborhood (of 30th Street and 10th Avenue), at about 10:30 to 11, well, we'll be walking over from Penn Station to begin our walk!  Drop me a line - or call at 917-921-9273 - we'll have a walk!  (Yes, it's free!  Just for fun!)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Paris, continued ...

My visit to Paris enabled me to experience what it's like to really be a stranger in a city - like many I take around in New York.  Only having read guide books, and books about Paris, just how would I do?

Yes, figuring out what to do next can be very challenging!

But, Paris is, and I almost hate to say it, easier than New York to get to know and enjoy.  Expecially if, like me, you have booked at a hotel in the center of where you want to be.  I was booked at the Hotel Central Saint Germain, at 3 rue Champollion right in the center of the 5th arrondissement - the Latin Quarter, and right around the corner from the main building of the Sorbonnes.  

The view from my window might not seem like much, but the window itself was quite accommodating, opening in quite wide to let fresh (albeit chilly!) air in.  So, well, normal!  I enjoyed just walking out to begin the day.  And so on my third full day I ventured to the Metro! 
What I saw on my first day, which was a clean, quiet subway, was surpassed on my third.  Who would have imagined the extent to which good design had gone? 

Oh, sure!  We have art in our subways too - but really?  Hardly!  How can these stay clean and visible - unobscured by graffiti?  I don't know!  There is graffiti in Paris, but, well, not here!  

This was the Sorbonne/Cluny Station, near the St. Michel/Notre Dame station, and each is connected to the other underground.  Although I used the No. 4 line most, and did that morning on my way over the Seine (I do mean under!) to Montmartre, the No. 1 was the first to be opened, on July 19, 1900 - exactly nine years before my father was born (in Altoona, Pennsylvania, but that's a completely different story).  

Yes, I was on my way to Sacre Coeur on Montmartre - the mount of the Martyr St. Denis, the patron saint of Paris.  

I had begun my morning looking out my window, as usual, checking the weather - and looking for that glimmer of sun that might promise a good day.  Ah hah!  I see it!  Perhaps today is the day for Montmartre!  The temperatures in Paris were pretty much the same as they were in New York, and the weather too.    So, I went our for my "formule."
I learned of this on my second morning: for 15 more cents, I could get a fresh-squeezed glass of orange juice!  Just the thing to help me begin the day.
I entered the No. 4 line, and joined the passengers on their way north, to Montmartre.  But, can you see?  The cars in this new metro are not separated from each other as they are on their older ones, and as they are in New York's subway.  It's all "one car" so to speak!  One can walk freely front to back, no problem.  People sat in their seats, some reading, some talking, and there isn't noise or commotion to interrupt them - and to make their journey uncomfortable.  Hmm.  How civilized!  In one of the oldest transit systems in the world.  (I'm told I should now see what Moscow has done!)

When I exit the Metro, I sense where the hill is, and proceed.  I see a sign pointing to Sacre Coeur, and walk there - and here are clustered some of the many scooters and motor bikes that are all over Paris.  Wonder of wonders, the traffic in Paris.

What seems to brilliant about Paris is the sense of business, or purpose, but without the frenetic scurrying that so permeates New York.    I continue up the hill.

Yes!  I see the sun! 

And, I see the stairs.
No problem, there's a railing, and it's one step at a time.  I knew there was a hill (a guide book had warned me), and I enjoy this climb.  For, at the top: 
The Basilica of Sacre Coeur was begun in 1875 and completed in 1914, but only officially dedicated after the end of World War 1, in 1919.  Officially dedicated to the 58,000 lost in that conflict, it is more customarily held in honor of those many who died in the gypsum mines and tunnels in that butte during the uprising of the communard in 1871 in that very neighborhood.  

I realize how little I know of French history!  There is so much, so many conflicts, so many different governments and organizations - so much life.  I went into the basilica - noting that photography is not permitted.  

I have obtained through Wikipedia, however, a photograph of that interior so that you can appreciate the beauty: 
(From Wikipedia)
Turning around, and walking out, I saw - Paris! 
You might just make it out in the far distance, toward the left.  It's the Montparnasse Tower; at 689 feet high (210 meters) and built from 1969 to 1972, it is so out of place in the cityscape that respects only the Eiffel Tower is the reigning tall structure.  The Montparnasse Tower is the tallest building in Paris proper (and second only to Tour First in the Paris suburbs at 271 meters or 758 feet high).  But neither is taller that the Eiffel Tower: it is 279.22 meters, or 915.7 feet, high - which is not in this view. 

But the best view of Paris is from the top of the Montparnasse Tower - because it's not in that view! 

So, yes, I loved Paris - and will go back.  There really is no comparison I can make that can do anything except make New York seem to be of an entirely different species.  Paris is the biggest village I've ever seen.