New York, New York
• My first visit to the Big Apple was in 1961 with the family on vacation. We stayed at The New Yorker hotel across from Penn Station, saw a filming of The Price is Right, and toured the usual sights - Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Empire State, and Times Square. My dad took my brothers and I to a Yankees baseball game.
• In 1972, I went on a Study Tour with Advertising, Theater, and Public Relations majors from the University of Texas. We stayed in the Century Paramount Hotel which was later remodeled by Ian Schrager into a boutique hotel.
• During the 1970s, I took several trips to New York while working with the Pressman Company to produce and market the Round Backgammon Board.
• While teaching at the Visual & Performing Arts High School in Dallas, I took a great group of kids to see the Big Apple. That got me hooked on guiding student Study Tours to the city.
• At UCO and OSU, I continued the tours with college students. During each of over 20 trips to the Big Apple, I would comment on how much I would like to live there. So, in 2004, I bought an apartment in New York City.
Why I love NY
The best of the best
Some of the best museums, theater, art, architecture, music, restaurants, parks, design, naborhoods, shopping, and historical sites in the country. People who strive to be/do the best often make a pilgrimage for New York City. The high standard seems to encourage a level of excellence unmatched almost anywhere else in the world.
Intellectual reasonable people
New York seems to contain a greater percentage of people who operate more on reason and rational thought than feelings or beliefs. Sophisticated, respectful, civil (New Yorkers rarely butt in line), and educated; New Yorkers like to linger over meals or coffee and converse about issues and ideas. The influx of people (see below) and quality (see above) may foster more of a desire and thirst for rational and tolerant discourse. They seem to be more 'fluid' - they can adapt and flow with their environment.
People from all over the planet, sharing their cultures, recipes, naborhoods, ideas, and festivals enhances the environment and experiences of all New Yorkers and tourists.
The city is one of the major cities on the planet. It is connected and part of the larger world - what happens in NYC often impacts much of the world.
There are so many layers of cultural, visual, and intellectual stimuli. Overlapping. Lives overlapping - words, glances, colors, here and there, each touching us in a different way.
The physical size, the importance, the architecture, and the robust in-your-face attitudes.
The beginnings of the USA - financial, cultural, commercial. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Washington Square, Stock exchange, World's Fairs, Prohibition, art, Bowling Green, Battery Park, Fraunces Tavern, theater, and on and on - years of richness.
The excitement of the sights, sounds, people, and activities contribute to a fluid momentum of energy and enthusiasm. Clerks, waiters, deli people - among others - all have a sense of speed, efficiency, and hustle.
Opportunities to enlarge oneself
The city makes it easy to expand one's horizons, experience new phenomena, grow and learn; assuming one wants to.
Touching the natural world
Ships on Hudson Bay, the waves, birds, the parks - there are numerous opportunities to connect with nature, even in the big metropolis.
Well-known and familiar icons - Empire State, Carnegie Hall, Times Square, the Met, the Statue, Central Park - help one connect to a shared heritage.
The vastness of the city allows endless opportunities to set out on adventures, to find new things, to discover people, places, and activities. True experiences of serendipity - finding the unexpected, the spontaneous.
As a result of the above, the city is full of creative and intellectual stimuli.
A few things to work on
New York City is a great town, no doubt about it. But (there's always a but) here are some suggestions that would make it even better.
Less horn honking
Gee whiz - most honks are completely useless. Just obnoxious and of no value. The honkee is usually stuck - that driver can do nothing about the situation, and the honker is not making things any better. Horns should be reserved for courtesy calls - reminders, caution - or for emergencies. Honking is so prevalent that many people tune them out and when, like the boy who cried wolf, it is really crucial, they would be less effective.
I suggest we initiate devices in all vehicles with three different options for honking a horn:
1. A siren sound that would be used only for true emergencies - it would command the most respect in the surrounding reception area. It could be the sound of a person screaming - as a warning of danger.
2. A brief, friendly toot - this would be used to alert pedestrians and other drivers of a situation that needs attention, like caution, watch out, etc. This would command courtesy and consideration. It could even be like the sound of a person doing the Ahem cough to get attention or Psst - something more human, courteous, and less intrusive.
3. An electric shock - used when the driver is just being rude or stupid or needs to show some power and superiority. The strength of the shock would diminish as the driver gets conditioned to stop being so stupid and rude. This would replace 95% of all honks in the city.
When clerks bag food items, they put in a whole stack of napkins and lots of condiments. I once asked for 2 packets of salt and got a handful. A handful of pepper, too. On the Staten Island Ferry one morning, I ordered 1 breakfast sandwich and 1 bottle of water. The cashier grabbed some napkins. I sat down to eat and counted the napkins - 25. Yes, 25 napkins for 2 items. I got home and wrote a letter to the Dept of Transportation suggesting they could save money and help the environment by giving 2 napkins per food item bought, not 25 napkins. Cutting back on these freebies would cut back on the amount of materials to be thrown away. I have found this one to be true all over the USA but especially pronounced in Manhattan.
There's a lot of trash everywhere - even when there is a trash can within easy walking distance. I often stoop down and pick up trash and put it in the next trash can (granted there are less trash cans around now since some people have become more paranoid that a terrorist will put a bomb in one) but there are still enough around. I do it partly to make the city look better, partly to set an example and show how easy it is, and partly to stupefy the natives. Imagine how great the city would look if every one of 8 million people picked up just one piece of litter each day.
Holy cow! New Yorkers seem to bitch about any little thing. "Fireworks over our head were too loud." "Trucks driving down my street." The examples go on and on. Get a grip - life in the big city will have some tribulations. I don't know if its cuz New Yorkers are spoiled and coddled, are really fragile, or just like to participate in the national sport of bitchin'.
Thoughts and notes from NYC
July 2004, WTC update: The symbolic cornerstone for the new 'Freedom Tower' at the WTC site was laid on July 4th, 2004, accompanied by speeches from the governor and mayor. While it is planned to be the world's tallest building (1,776 feet) it is currently mired in controversy and legalities and it has yet to sign a major tenant. It will get built but the rest of the WTC complex may take many years. The train I sometimes take from Newark to Manhattan goes under the Hudson River and emerges in the basement of the WTC - now just in the bottom of the pit. World Trade Center 7 (the last building to fall on 9/11) is now topped out at 50 stories tall. One more 40 story building is yet to come down - the structural damage is too much to repair. Another building, an older ornate stone structure, is being renovated. Almost everything else has reopened. City, state, and federal governments are offering hefty enticements for development in Lower Manhattan so there is a lot of activity and new stores, restaurants, and offices. Downtown Manhattan will emerge better than before. The city planners and architects are learning from the mistakes of the WTC in 1972. The WTC complex took up 12 city blocks, closed off streets, and turned its back to the naborhood thereby sucking street life and pedestrian activity from that part of downtown. The new complex will have street level retail (instead of the underground mall); streets will be put back in; and space is being earmarked for a performing arts center, museums, and a children's centers - in addition to the 9/11 memorial and museum.
While sipping coffee in a cafe, April 2005
Everyone seems to have a cell phone stuck to their face.
To slow down, stop, and sit, you almost have to put it on
your to do list and make an effort to make it happen.
People move with a purpose - where are they going.
So many people - where are they coming from. And Why.
Sometimes there is just too much to do.
How many cups of coffee are served in one day.
How many pretzels.
Where is the Walmart?
Music. Sound. Horns. Traffic.
Why does this big city attract so many people.
What is the draw.
Snapshots of people alone in the crowd.
Smell of fresh coffee, the river, hot 'everything' bagels.
Helicopters overhead overheard.
April 2005: Gettin' into the flow. There is a fluid energy that permeates the city - there is a beat, a rhythm, that should be tapped into. If not, its easy to bump into people, to be a nuisance, to be like a tourist. But, once the rhythm is established and one gets into that groove, once can navigate tight openings in crowds, cross streets without disrupting traffic.
So many people are plugged in - they've got headphones on - listening to all sorts of input. This headphone culture has developed a new etiquette. Communicating to people on the street (sales people, passersby) must be done non-verbally - a nod, a smile, mouthing 'No, thank you.' Hearing people is possible but one must work a bit harder to decipher what is being said. Talking to people with earphones on (the dangling wire is the clue) requires a bit more patience.
Listening to music on the iPod makes the entire environment seem a bit surreal. Sometimes the music fits the people, the pace, the activity. Sometimes it defies those things. Either way the music puts a unique twist on the reality of the here and now that is going on.
Sitting in the sun in Union Square. Listening to the Favorites playlist on iPod. Watching people. Got surreal. Time was altered, slowed down. Some were reading. Playing music. Sunning. Soliciting. Seeking petition signers. Cell phoning. Conversing.
It is such a thrill to wait in a hot subway station, anticipating the air conditioned cars but hoping you won't have to stand in a crowd, then looking into the car as it pulls in and seeing three empty seats - room to sit with one on either side for breathing room. Glorious.
I spent several hours at the Liberty Science Museum across the Hudson River in New Jersey. They have impressive exhibits. The day I went was also the day that 2,000-3,000 kids from the Police Athletic League went. Despite that noise and crowd, I observed some neat stuff:
• In the IMax theater (where I saw a big movie about Hurricane Katrina and the loss of wetlands in Louisiana) a chaperon was telling his charges, "Move down" (he meant move along the row). The kids looked confused. They had just climbed up the steep aisle stairs looking for seats. The chaperon could have meant "Move down" (to another row). 'Move down the row' and 'move down a row' are very similar commands. Often, the context helps us determine which is meant, but, in this case, the context didn't help much - "Move down" could have easily meant either option. He had to keep repeating himself and gesturing before the kids understood exactly what direction to move he meant.
• Exhibits that were 'hands-on' were much more popular than those with just text, images, or stuff to look at. Kids even punched 'buttons' that were actually just bolts or circles. This generation has gotten used to a push-button world that was the stuff of science fiction not too long ago.
• In the Communications exhibit, a father was getting impatient with his girls who were at a busted exhibit. "Come on girls, that's not working." "Come on." he repeated. He probably couldn't understand why anyone would stay so long at an out-of-order exhibit. Finally, one of the girls turned to him, "We're pretending". How cool - the girls found a way to make the exhibit work - just use your imagination. Old guy couldn't see it cuz he probably lost his inner child a while back. The girls played a bit longer, then joined dad and the rest of their party who had moved on.
In New York this summer, I went to a great design exhibit called Sauma [Design as cultural interface]. It was a showcase of innovative design from Finland. From the wall text: The task of the designers is to create the best possible solutions by merging the wisdom of tradition and the excitement of innovation. The designers are deeply rooted in the traditions of craftsmanship and cultural environment. They shape our daily experiences by creating tangible objects that give us a way to relate to the world. As keen observers, the designers translate the newest technical innovations into practical tools. Thus design can be understood as a cultural interface that facilitates navigation in the world of ever changing cultural, social, and technical demands. Their website.2006
Gettin' into the flow. There is a fluid energy that permeates the city - there is a beat, a rhythm, that should be tapped into. If not, its easy to bump into people, to be a nuisance, to be like a tourist. But, once the rhythm is established and one gets into that groove, one can navigate tight openings in crowds and cross streets without disrupting traffic.
So many people are plugged in - they've got headphones on - listening to all sorts of input. This headphone culture has developed a new etiquette. Communicating to people on the street (sales people, passersby) must be done non-verbally - a nod, a smile, mouthing 'No, thank you.' Hearing people is possible but one must work a bit harder to decipher what is being said. Talking to people with earphones on (the dangling wire is the clue) requires a bit more patience.
Listening to music on the iPod makes the entire environment seem a bit surreal. Sometimes the music fits the people, the pace, the activity. Sometimes it defies those things. Either way the music puts a unique twist on the reality of the here and now that is going on.
Sitting in the sun in Union Square. Listening to my Favorites playlist on iPod. Surreal. Time was altered, slowed down. Watching people. Some were reading. Playing music. Sunning. Soliciting. Seeking petition-signers. Cell phoning. Conversing.
2006, I was sitting at the Border's Books on 59th and Lexington (I had just come from seeing the Frank Gehry collection of jewelry at Tiffany's on Fifth Avenue). I was watching people meander around the store when one person approached this narrow passage, stood on the floor, and the floor moved. First it moved her forward about two feet (her feet didn't move) and then - and I'm not making this up - the floor she was standing on began to move up at an angle, like a staircase but she didn't have to climb the steps. By golly, she just stood there. What a great invention that is. You stand on the floor, don't move, and the floor takes you up to the next level. You just stand there. Holy cow. What's next - a small room that goes straight up and down?
Summer 2006 with no television. Well, there is a television in the apartment but the antenna only picks up a slightly fuzzy educational station from New Jersey. To get good reception you have to subscribe to cable and I have yet to do that. It doesn't make sense for the few weeks that I would use it. But, okay, here's the real reason - I just hate the cables that are stapled along baseboards and over door trim to get to the television. The jack in this apt is on the opposite wall from the TV. I played with a different arrangement to get the TV by the jack but it just did not work as well. Anyway, a summer without television has been sorta nice. I can go down to the club room to watch the big screen as I have done a couple of times to watch Desperate Housewives, Boston Legal, and The Office. I am much more productive without the regimen of television and enjoy my evenings much more walking along the Hudson, talking with people, and interacting with the city instead of with equipment. I will see how much of this carries over when back in Oklahoma. I will try to watch less television. (I subscribed to cable and internet from 2010 to the summer of 2013.)
Two months and 5 days, 66 days total - my summer in New York City is coming to a close - for the moment; I will be back. This has been one of the best summers of my life. It ranks right up there with the 4 summers that I worked at Six Flags as a Ride Operator and the summer when I was 8 or 12 and I slept in my underwear so that in the morning I could simply step into my shorts (that were on the floor next to the bed) and a tee-shirt. I was ready to go play with my friends all day. Interrupted only by my mother calling me in for lunch and by my father who, after dark, came outside to tell us that "tomorrow would be another day" and to come in and get ready for bed. This summer, 2006, was as good as that. Even though my mom didn't prepare my lunch and my dad didn't remind me when to go to bed. But still, they are responsible for my being able to enjoy this city so much.
June 2008. One weekend, I decided I would be quite decadent and act like a tourist kid. Just to have fun. I went to 42nd street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This area was notorious in the 1970s and 80s for being the epicenter of porno theaters and sleaze shops. True story: In 1981, I was leading a study tour and we stopped at the corner of 42nd and 8th Avenue. I told each student to be careful but to notice what goods might be offered to them as we walked the one block to 7th Avenue. I polled the group - every single student had been offered drugs, sex, or both. Fortunately not one of them accepted the enticements. Soon after, the city of New York set out to clean up 42nd Street. Disney was lured in to renovate one of the theaters (the New Amsterdam) and the other theaters were slowly reverting back to legitimate uses, one porno is now even a children's theater. 42nd Street is alive with fun amusements, restaurants, and shops (if you're interested, some of the sex trade moved around the corner to 8th Avenue.) There are 2 movie complexes - one with 13 screens and the other with 25 for a total of 38 screens on one block of 42nd Street. But I went there to see the 3 amusements pictured above.
A Chorus Line (excellent) at 2pm. That was enough time to be amazed by what had been collected and displayed in the Odditorium. After the show, I went back to the 'Amusement Park' and had an early dinner at Applebee's - the appetizer sampler. Dawg, it was good. Then on to Dave & Busters to play some arcade games. But, shoot, I couldn't find Pong, Frogger, or Asteroids. Not only did I not recognize the new games, I couldn't even pronounce the names of some of them. I asked an attendant if that had any good old pinball machines. "Pin-what?" Apparently they didn't. I finally found a game more my speed - one where you shoot coins onto a pile and when the mechanism pushes some of them into a trough, you win. This I could play. I did and I won. I actually got to where it was enjoyable and fun to play. I had played so long, it was time to go home and walk the dogs. But I went back on Sunday to see Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. This was even better than Ripleys. Spooky likenesses, so realistic - more than once I got caught off guard expecting a figure to move or turn and look at me. The settings and info cards were also very well done. After that I went back to D&B, this time to play Trivia: I sat at chair number 4 - my lucky number. I kicked butt. People would stop playing because I kept winning the rounds. I took my winning tickets to their store and bought some tacky crap: 2 books on Ripley's oddities, a push-button fart machine, 5 sets of green train track layouts with 5 wind-up cars and trucks, Homer and Bart dolls for the dogs, and 124 squooshy-spiky balls.
"Where's my face. Everybody stand still. Don't take a step. I can't find my face." Fortunately, two older men and one really wrinkly old lady calmed me down and told me it was hiding behind that ugly thing between my ears. Whew. There it is, right where I had left it. You never know when it might come in handy. Like when you have to eat or blow your nose. Think how hard either of those tasks would be if you had truly lost your face. Thinking that I had better get out of the garden, I headed inside to the gift shop. One of the security guards snickered as I went by. "Yes, I'm wearing shorts!" (Snickered sure is a silly word - snickered.) In the gift shop I bought a t-shirt, not because I needed it but because I was tipsy and this is America where we just buy stuff. I also tried on some cologne but because the bottle was facing the wrong way (or the right way if you were standing behind me and a bit to the left) I sprayed again. Oops, too much. It was a scent called 'At the beach' and it smelled just like Coppertone suntan lotion. So now, too much to drink, I smell like Coppertone, and I'm in line to buy a t-shirt that I don't need. Damn. The guy behind me took a step farther back and told his wife that it smelled like suntan lotion in here. I suspect he, like many of the men there, was jealous that I was wearing shorts. Even the kids were in long pants. People, its a fuckin garden party. The wine was very good. The snacks sucked.
Fall 2008. At the Terrace Cafe on the fifth floor of MoMA, I looked out on a spectacular fall day in Manhattan. I had a lunch of bread, coffee, and organic deviled eggs: black caviar, pickled red onions, and herb creme fraiche. I don't usually eat caviar (hardly ever) but I love deviled eggs and splurged on this. They were delicious.
To respond to numerous requests for more information about the Lace strip club in New York City (8th Avenue, just north of 42nd Street):
• Yes, you might get special treatment if you mention my name. That can range from a waived cover charge to a stud discount in one of the back rooms. However, if you do mention my name, be aware that they know me only as Rod Thrustenberger.
• In the reference above, I mistyped - Lace is not a strip club, its a Gentleman's Club or Gentlemen's Club (its spelled both ways on the signs in the foto). As far as I can tell, a Gentlemen's Club is just a strip club with better cocktail glasses.
• Please keep in mind, I was there only to assess the design of the Lace logo (as seen on the awning canopy in the foto). Anything I know about what goes on inside is only from stories I've read and heard.
January 2009: While riding on the subway, a woman got on with a large trash bag full of something soft - maybe clothes. Even though there were several empty seats, she scrunched her bag and set it on her lap so she wouldn't take up two seats. People were leaving the seat next to her empty, thinking she might want to set the bag there. But she never did. She was so considerate and mindful of her space and the needs of others. I couldn't help but watch this sweet woman. She also had a very nice smile to go along with her demeanor. I was somewhat envious - this woman, with her big load, still managed to be polite, courteous, and considerate of others. I so wanted to say something to her but i couldn't think of the right thing to say. I thought i would at least tell her she had a nice smile. But then my station approached and a crowd came between me and her as i stood to get off. Another opportunity missed. How often i wish i had acted on my impulses.
March 2009 .Thursday evening of spring break, I was wandering around Times Square. I had gone to get a ticket to 39 Steps, a funny comedy; I decided not to and, instead, just walked around with the flow of the crowds. I went into the Marriott hotel to use the bathroom. When I came out, there was a small crowd across the street, right at the end of Shubert Alley, next to a couple of Broadway theaters. Several men held shoulder mounted video cameras and others had some 35mm cameras with pretty good-sized lens. I stopped to see what was going on. Two of the people in the crowd moved towards me and stood right in front of me, within inches. I was a bit baffled. I looked at their faces. One was Matthew Broderick. The other was Sarah Jessica Parker, his wife. I looked down at her scalp - she is a short woman. They both looked sad. There were a few other people near us that I recognized. Very familiar faces, including her mother, Vanessa Redgrave. Then it occurred to me what was likely going on. They were friends of Natasha Richardson who had just died. As I learned later that night, the lights of Broadway theaters were dimmed for one minute in honor of the actress. This group was standing at the best place in Manhattan to see the most theaters. There are about 6 or 8 theaters within sight of the spot where we were. I suspect the lights were dimmed while I was inside the Marriott. Then a tall man came up and hugged Sarah (is it Sarah or Sarah Jessica?) She whispered, "Thank you, Liam. How are you?" Liam Neeson, Natasha's husband. He, too, was sad. "15 years." He kept saying, fifteen years - they were married in 1994. The crowd of celebs took turns hugging and kissing him. One of the well-known faces asked him what he was going to do now. He said he was going to an Irish bar and get a drink. "You know, a traditional Irish wake." Broderick asked him where. He wasn't sure. This was going on all around me. I just stood still, right in the middle while we were circled by the photographers. The footage was aired on the news later that night. With one goofy looking Okie right in the middle. One videographer bumped over and around me - probably hoping that I would move. I didn't. I was tempted to pull out my iPhone and snap some pictures but I didn't want to look like the other tourists around who were sticking their phone cameras into our circle. Liam gave a few more hugs then walked off down Shubert Alley with a friend. The photographers didn't follow him. They left him alone.
July 1 2009. In 1967 Joe Jackson drove his sons from Indiana to the Apollo Theater so they could perform during amateur night at the famous Apollo in Harlem. They had very little money. He wasn't even sure where they would spend the night. The youngest of the Jackson 5 was Michael, 9 years old. They performed and won. The Apollo wanted them to come back but the Jacksons couldn't afford it. Soon after, Diana Ross saw them perform and she introduced them to the rest of us. The Tuesday after Michael died on Thursday, the Apollo Theater held an open house memorial from 2pm - 8pm. It was part respectful memorial, part party and celebration, and part shopping mall. I went to participate in the event. Michael Jackson's music formed much of the background soundtrack for me in the 1980s. Larry Lewis, one of my high school students, treated me to a ticket to the Victory Tour concert at Texas Stadium in 1984. It was a phenomenal concert. MJ can wow a crowd. Even in death. Some issues to ponder:
• MJ was acquitted - found innocent - of all charges in one of the 2 child molestation charges.
• The other case was settled out of court to avoid the negative publicity.
• The mother of 2 of his kids, his family, and friends have all emphatically stated that Michael is not a pedophile.
There is no evidence that he molested anyone. There is precedent, however, that some adults will exploit celebrity millionaires to get money.
• He did not 'dangle' his baby off that balcony. He had a firm grip around the child. Dangle is the term the media used to sensationalize the event and millions of gullible viewers bought it, without thinking that it was the wrong term. I wonder how the media would report it when dads toss their kids up, "Father abandons child in air" or "Dad lets go of child in mid-air."
Michael Jackson had an unusual childhood, a domineering father, success as a star at the age of 9, etc. Of course, he's going to be eccentric. But what talent. An incredible entertainer. And a great humanitarian.
May 2010 - I was enjoying the latest art project in Madison Square Park: Event Horizon by Antony Gormley. Numerous life-size statues perched on tops of buildings overlook the city. It was fun to seek them out and very dramatic to see these characters out of place. There was a crowd gathering so i asked what was going on - Carmen Electra was going to shave guys' chests as part of a promotion for a Norelco shaver. Carmen Electra? Damn, i felt so old - i thought Carmen Electra was a Buick. Seriously.
i was too embarrassed to ask anyone there (who all seemed quite excited over the prospect of seeing this Electra person - or car). It wasn't until i got home later that i researched her: born Tara Leigh Patrick, married to Dennis Rodman, Playboy model, and movie star who got her start in the chorus line at an amusement park in Ohio.
But, back to the park. decided i better stick around to see the eventness of a celebrity with an entourage. was standing in a prime spot - i purposefully got back by where i assumed they would lead her up on to the temporary stage. didn't care about seeing the guys getting shaved, i wanted to see a star in the city. She is quite stunning, i could see why Rodman wanted to pork her and why she was a bunny, and why guys in the park were so excited.
NY is wonderful. Better than I hoped. Weather has been decent - several cool mornings and days (some hot and muggy). Next summer, will come 3 weeks earlier - cooler weather, longer time. I know that spending time in New York City is a privilege I would never have had if my parents had not sacrificed and saved and given to me and my brothers. I thank them almost every day.
I often see people looking at maps, looking at street signs, or just looking lost. I will go ask them if I can help them find something. I have yet to be stumped. In my naberhood there are many questions about the World Trade Center and how to get there - I guide them there and tell them about the exhibits and models of the memorial and new office towers that are on display. I guide people to subway lines, Brooklyn, Times Square, Little Italy, etc. Someone pointed out (while waiting on me to help some lost folks) that it is the teacher in me, wanting to help and guide people. I also wonder if it is the training I got for 4 summers while working at Six Flags to help guests. Whatever, I enjoy it. I want these tourists/visitors to have a good experience in New York and to not think all New Yorkers are abrupt and rude (I don't let on that I'm not really a New Yorker).
I talked to a woman today in Battery Park and she commented/assumed that I was a New Yorker. I nodded yes. It was the first time I had acknowledged the identity of being a New Yorker. Weird but sorta neat.
There is now a serious police presence in downtown Manhattan - and not ordinary police, but these decked-out military style soldiers. There are also National Guard kids stationed throughout the city. Seeing these quasi-soldiers on street corners and in Grand Central reminds me of seeing soldiers in Egypt - a third-world, unstable government. This is the United States of America. What is going on - paranoia, overreaction?
Update 2020/21: there are armed security guards and barbed wire fences around the US Capitol.
Round-trip journeys between OK & NY
• I sure do put a lot of trust in strangers. The Interstate is full of people I never met who are in control of huge powerful machines that can cause havoc if not maintained and manipulated properly. All of these other people were trusting that I, too, was operating my driving machine in a safe manner. There are so many opportunities for accidental encounters that could be dangerous - I'm amazed there aren't more car crashes.
• I saw signs that read FOG AREA. I was confused about this acronym FOG. What could it mean? Free Octane Gas? Or Fog On Ground or Fog Over the Grass? None of those made much sense. I finally figured it must mean First Over Gear - maybe a suggestion for truckers to shift into first gear - the signs were always near the bottoms of valleys and approaching inclines - where first gear might be better. I don't know. On the drive back, maybe I'll ask a trucker at a rest area.
• Two wonderful inventions - cruise control and air conditioning. While we have many monuments to others, there should certainly be large monuments, especially in the hot south, to these two inventors. Cruise control allows one's right foot and leg to change positions and rest a bit. It also allows the mind to wander a bit more since one doesn't have to be aware of maintaining a safe and steady speed. Air conditioning - the value and necessity of this shouldn't need much explanation (unless you live near Canada).
• There were stretches of Interstate that had lines, convoys, of trucks - a solid line of trucks for miles. I wonder if we should just replace Interstate highways with conveyor belts. Large conveyor belts. We would save on gas, there would be no speeding tickets (unless some moron sped on the belt), and there would be less accidents as each driver would simply put the vehicle in Park and be able to leave the seat - visit with other passengers, sleep, or step out onto the belt and enjoy the scenery. Vendors could drive carts along the belt dispensing snax, drinks, games, magazines, etc.
• My favorite billboard was The DaVinci Code movie is mostly a lie. Gee, its a novel - why so much fear and paranoia? Now, I'm beginning to wonder if those dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were also a lie. And maybe Forrest Gimp didn't do all the things the movie said that he did. Maybe there are lots of lies in movies. Now I just don't know.
• I drove between 75 and 80mph but the average speed was less due to the vast amounts of construction forcing traffic to merge into one lane. I was amazed at how many miles of Interstate are having to be refurbished. It may be due to inefficient government bureaucratic spending, highways being built to specs lower than those in Europe, and projects being awarded to the lowest bidder. Result: lots of money spent on highways and bridges and lots of time spent in traffic.
States: New York - New Jersey - Pennsylvania - West Virginia - Ohio - Indiana - Illinois - Missouri - Oklahoma
Time: 23 hours 20 minutes
Average speed: 68.3
Gas: $175. $350 round trip
OKC > Effingham IL (Motel 6, Super 8) > Washington PA (Motel 6, Red Roof Inn) > NYC
NYC > Columbus OH (Motel 6, La Quinta) > Springfield or Cuba MO (Motel 6) > OKC
OKC > Richmond IN (Motel 6) > NYC
NYC > Cloverdale IN (Motel 6) > OKC
Effingham is a town whose economy and even survival seems to be reliant on Interstate traffic. There were numerous amenities - many motel and hotel chains, most fast food outlets, even a TGI Friday's and a free-standing Starbucks - a very nice one. Interesting to see the industry that now relies on truck and auto traffic. Dinner: two Whoppers for $3. What a deal. Watched Boston Legal and Will & Grace. Explored the town and the Old Highway.
Washington, just south of Pittsburgh is also at an Interstate crossroads. After I walked dogs and they went to sleep (I drove around town. A fascinating Revolutionary-era town. Home of Washington & Jefferson College (founded in 1781 - the oldest college west of the Allegheny Mountains). Here also is the restored home of Francis LeMoyne, an abolitionist who was active in the Underground Railroad providing safe havens for Negroes that were coming up from the oppressive south on their way to Canada (he also built the first crematory in the country). The Whiskey Rebellion also took place in Washington; the 1788 home of the leader, David Bradford, is now a national historic site. The Federal government placed a tax on farmers who distilled and sold whiskey. Whiskey was the main money crop of this part of the country and the farmers refused to pay the new tax. This forced the hand of George Washington who ordered 12,000 soldiers into the area to quell the rebellion. This showed the nation that the new government meant business, was powerful, and was willing to use force to enforce its laws. Got gas (for the car) and a KFC platter meal. Watched some TV and read the book Brokeback Mountain.
Richmond, about an hour past Indianapolis (the midway point), is on the old National Road with a highway museum.
Cloverdale is about an hour past Indianapolis. Just a room to sleep.
All listed motels welcome pets with no fee or deposit.
Almost all breakfasts were from McDonalds (1 from Tim Horton's in Columbus)
Along the way
Dog issues: Manhattan vomits before Tulsa. Stopped at McD in Stroud, let her walk. Greyhound Rescue mentioned later that she had been in an accident on this stretch of the Turnpike. She eventually got used to riding in the car. Vegas stayed on the floor
Turner turnpike McDonalds: consistent morning stop an hour from home, it gave the dogs time to poop and prep for 3 days in the car
Tulsa years of I44 construction
Joplin Bonnie & Clyde apt and their escape route, surveyed tornado damage
St. Louis Route 66, Mississippi River bridges, the new stadium downtown, and
Indianapolis with the RCA/Lucas Oil Dome
Columbus Ohio and an Art Deco tower building
Wheeling West Virginia with an old suspension bridge now used as a pedestrian walkway
Farms and barns in rural Pennsylvania. I stopped at a rest area on the oldest section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, opened to traffic on October 1, 1940. This was many years before President Eisenhower funded the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Ike had seen how efficient the Autobahn was for moving troops while he was commanding the army in Europe. He returned to the US to help implement such a system here - originally it was for military purposes - to move troops and equipment quickly and to allow hazardous materials to avoid city centers. The Department of Defense even had to approve the new routes. The original plan also called for 1 mile of every 5 to be level and straight in order to serve as an emergency runway for aircraft. Of course, the Interstate system has come to serve primarily civilian traffic. This old part of the PA Turnpike was fascinating - it followed the right-of-way of the former Southern Pennsylvania Railroad. The overpasses were narrow and embellished with slight Art Deco detailing. Signs before the tunnels read Remove Sunglasses.
National Road US40, walked the dogs along the old s-shaped stone bridge (too narrow for traffic anymore)
Cuba MO unexpected snow storm 2010: after seeing trucks in the ditch and tires slipping, I exited at the next Motel 6. Manhattan and I spent the afternoon and evening watching the blizzard. Walked to McD and Walmart for provisions.
First arrival in New York City
Exciting sign: New York City 135 miles. I saw it and laughed. I was getting close to something I had wanted to do for several years. The drive into the city was quite easy. I took the express lanes on the New Jersey Turnpike to the Holland Tunnel. I caught one stoplight at the tunnel approach then on under the Hudson River into Manhattan, down West Street to my block. I parked in the groj in the building while I took Vegas to pee and then on up to the apartment. I unloaded the car a bit later. Driving in the city was exciting. I drove like a New Yorker, edging my car into tight spots and zipping around the city. I didn't, however, honk or use any gestures.
I parked the car (next to the white suv below left)in a fenced lot up on the north side of Manhattan, on the edge of Harlem - I bought a monthly parking place for $170/month. Great deal (parking near my apt would be around $700). I was able to keep the key and I have in/out privileges if I want to drive in the city or to another city upstate. I went up twice after that to pay the next month's rent and to check on the car. The car was good but a bit lonely. When it was time to make the trip back, I took the subway up to Grand Central; I needed to transfer to the Lexington 4 to get up to Harlem. I decided instead, to take the MetroNorth train up to 125th Street. Right before the subway doors closed at Grand Central, I stepped off and went upstairs to buy a ticket. I used a ticket machine (the lines at the ticket windows in the Main Hall were very long). Trains were leaving in 5 minutes and in 8 minutes. I missed the 5 minute one because I stopped to help some people buy a MetroCard. I made the 8 minute one. I put the ticket behind my glasses by one ear. When the conductor came by to collect tickets, I told her that I must have lost it, I've looked all over and I can't find it. I turned my head as I was talking so she could spot the ticket on my head. She laughed. I went back to looking out the window at Harlem. The train came out of the tunnel at 98th Street and I disembarked at the very nice renovated wood paneled station at 125th Street. I walked one block to the lot, got to my car and started it right up. It had sat for over 2 months but it was rarin' to go. I had planned to get an oil change before the 1,500 mile drive, but I was enjoying driving around so much that I took my time. I drove past the Apollo Theater (recently restored and still hosting amateur nights), up the Hudson Parkway, to Fort Tryon Park on a hill with great views of northern Manhattan, the Hudson, the Jersey Palisades (the parkland of bluffs and trees along the Hudson), the George Washington Bridge, and then to the West Side Highway; past the new Trump apartment buildings, the piers with 2 large cruise ships docked, and on to Chelsea to an Auto Center.
Even though the car was running well and I had the oil changed 1,500 miles ago, I wanted to have it checked over before the journey to OKC. I ate lunch while that was going on - brick-oven pizza, a salad, coffee and New York style cheesecake with caramel and walnuts on top. Then I took the car 2 blocks down to get it washed - it had 2 months of NYC soot and grime on it. Then on down West Street to the apartment. I looked for a free spot on the street but found none, so parked in the garage under the condo building.
Parking: Trump buildings
I would call Icon Parking (a garage operator with numerous properties), give them a dollar amount, and requirement of being near a subway station, preferably an express stop. They would find a garage and call me back with the address. Often, it was in one of the new Trump condo buildings that were not yet fully leased. Their garages (and Donald) were hungry for paying customers - they cut me some pretty good deals - $200 for a month of parking. The Trump garages weren't too far from the 72nd St Station.
The first drive to Oklahoma
Got up on Sunday and finished packing, cleaned up the apt, talked with Allen down at the desk (we have ongoing discussions about politics and religion), and loaded the boxes and other stuff onto a cart and took it down to the groj and loaded up the car.
I drove up out of the parking groj and took a last look at the naberhood. Turned right, went a couple of blocks, and on down into the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (under the ventilation building that served as the headquarters for the Men in Black) and drove alone thru the tunnel and up into Brooklyn, a typical city drive until I caught a glimpse of the Verrazano Narrows bridge that connects Brooklyn to Staten Island.
On across Staten Island and on to the Interstate to Oklahoma. Vegas wouldn't want me to do any sightseeing, she didn't need to go to the bathroom for many hours, and she didn't like to get out of the car; I was eager to get on home, so I just drove and drove, stopping only for gas and snax and bathroom breaks at rest areas. Decided that I could get farther than Washington, PA where I had a motel reservation, so went on to Columbus, Ohio. The next day, we also pushed it - driving for over 10 hours, through Columbus, Indianapolis, and over the Masipi River by the Arch in St. Louis, getting all the way to Springfield, Missouri. After walking Vegas and resting a bit, I had dinner at Cracker Barrel and some birthday ice cream with caramel topping and whipped cream.
• Podcasts: History Channel Bios, Bowery Boys NYC, and some enlightening interviews (about 7 hours worth) on freethought from the Center for Inquiry.
• Larry the Cable Guy albums - hilarious.
• Summer musicals: soundtrax from The Wedding Singer, Altar Boyz, and Tarzan.
• New York City mix, Liza Minnelli, Barry Manilow, hip-hop, rock, and more
• NYC Subway: mix of subway entertainers.
• Audio-books: Microeconomics, and woozy about Steve Wozniak, the brains behind Apple computer. Woe is a problem solver, strives to make things better, and seeks clarity and efficiency; thus, he's a designer - of the premier kind. He covers his career at Hewlett-Packard working on calculators, the Home brew Computer Club, the beginning of Apple with Steve Jobs, his airplane crash, the US Festival, the first universal remote control, and more.
The drives to and from were very smooth, I saw lots of great stuff, I got some good work done on the apartment, wrote quite a bit, visited friends - old and new, and experienced the city as a native rather than an occasional tenant. The dogs were conversation starters. We were stopped almost every time we went for a walk. Most trips, I had two dogs - Vegas & Manhattan or Manhattan & Brooklyn. We stayed in our usual cities of Effingham IL and Washington PA - both towns with great history and plenty of travel amenities.
They were some of the best summers of my life. Ranking right up there with the 4 summers that I worked at Six Flags as a Ride Operator (we got paid to have fun) and the summer when I was 8 or 12 and I slept in my underwear so that in the morning I could simply step into my shorts (that were on the floor next to the bed) and a tee-shirt. I was ready to go play with my friends all day. Interrupted only by my mother calling me in for lunch and by my father who, after dark, came outside to tell us that "tomorrow would be another day" and to come in and get ready for bed. These summers were as good as that. Even though my mom didn't prepare my lunch and my dad didn't remind me when to go to bed. But still, they are responsible for my being able to enjoy NYC summers so much.
Bits of New York history
Above left: The first visual representation of Manhattan, 1626 engraving by a Dutch printer. Right: An anonymous plan of New Amsterdam, 1661, probly a map handed to the English following the Dutch surrender.
The Dutch, who bought Manhattan from the Leni Lenape natives in 1626 and built Fort Amsterdam near what today is the foot of Broadway, came to this area for commercial reasons and New York City has remained a city of commerce. Because the Dutch were interested in making money and not in ideology, they welcomed anyone into their colony who could assist in that endeavor (that practicality and history of tolerance is evident in NYC still today). In the 17th century, the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam flourished into a modern community boasting cobblestone streets, fire and police patrols, a hospital, and a protective stone wall along what is now Wall Street. Dutch legacies: flag and seal of the City of New York have a windmill in the center and place names such as Brooklyn and Bloomingdale, cole slaw, the Bowery, Stuyvesant Town, the Yankees, and the Roosevelts.
Over 400 years ago the Dutch hired Henry Hudson to captain a ship called the Haelve Moon (Half Moon) whose voyage they hoped would yield a passage to Japan. When the salty river that we now call the Hudson turned fresh and then petered out north of Albany, Hudson was bitterly disappointed but his account of the harbor and its surroundings led to the later foundation of Nieuw Amsterdam as a commercial colony.
The real legacy of the Dutch is diversity. New York has more people from every other country in the world except Mexico or Cuba than any other city in the United States. That was true from the beginning. In the 1640's someone reported 18 languages being spoken in Nieuw Amsterdam at a time when there were probably 500 people in the colony. The Dutch also bequeathed the principle of tolerance, which they knew to be good for business.
After the English took control in 1664, the young city was renamed New York. James, the Duke of York, was granted title over the land by his brother, King Charles and honored with the renaming of the colony. The northern boundary of the city was just beyond Chambers Street. A busy commercial thoroughfare, Maiden Lane was clogged with carts transporting grain from ships on the East River to a windmill near the Hudson. The windmill was New York's first skyline element, and today the centerpiece of the New York City seal. From 1785 to 1790, New York became the capital of the United States following the American Revolution. On the site where Federal Hall now stands, George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States. Three years later in 1792, the nation's first stock exchange opened a few steps away.
New York continued to innovate in the next century, with the completion in 1883 of the Brooklyn Bridge, the world's longest suspension bridge at the time. Ellis Island opened in 1892 as a gateway to the United States for immigrants from around the world. In the early 1900s, modern skyscraper technology began to transform the Lower Manhattan skyline, with the Woolworth Building (completed 1913) and the Municipal Building (completed 1914) representing two of the most beautiful examples from the period. Wall Street financial firms cemented their place as world leaders even as Midtown developed as a central business district and industries such as shipping and manufacturing left their downtown locations. The skyscraper boom continued through the middle of the century with the building of the Chase Manhattan Bank headquarters from 1957 to 1961, which helped to spur the transformation of Lower Manhattan into a center of financial services and related industries. The skyward advance in Lower Manhattan culminated in completion of the World Trade Center in 1970 by the Port Authority.
• Brooklyn (originally named Kings)
• Staten Island (Richmond)
• The Bronx (say tha Bronx or da Bronx)
The West Bronx was annexed to Manhattan in 1874, the East Bronx in 1895, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and the County of Richmond (Staten Island) became a New York City borough in 1898.
Size of Manhattan
301 square miles: 2 miles wide and 13 miles long
1865: 1 million
1890: world's 2nd largest city (1st: London)
1900: 3 million
2002: 8 million
Largest metro areas 1900
1. 6,500,000 London
2. 4,200,000 New York City
3. 3,300,000 Paris
4. 2,700,000 Berlin
5. 1,700,000 Chicago
Largest metro areas 2013
1. 35,530,000 Tokyo
2. 25,000,000 Seoul
3. 22,000,000 Jakarta
4. 18,840,000 Mumbai
5. 19,240,000 Mexico City
6. 18,650,000 New York City
There are more Irish in New York City than in Dublin, Ireland; more Italians in New York City than in Rome, Italy; and more Jews than in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Number of Duane Reade/Walgreens: 318, Starbucks: 283, McDonalds: 240, Baskin Robbins: 202 as of 2013
1524 Verrazano explored the rivers and coastlines, met with native Indians at Staten Island
1609 Henry Hudson explored the river named for him
1624 the Dutch landed on Governor's Island, claimed the tip of Manhattan on the East River, named it New Amsterdam
1625 first permanent settlement, the Dutch and French Huguenots were escaping religious turmoil in Europe between Catholics and Protestants
1626 Peter Minuit buys land from native Indians on the island for about $24
1652 first school established
1654 Jews from Amsterdam and Dutch colony in Brazil settled in New Amsterdam, affirming policy of religious tolerance of non-Christians.
1674 English settle and take control from the Dutch, renamed the town New York, in honor of the Duke of York; Articles of Transfer from Dutch to British guaranteed freedom of religion
1771 fence tops and statue of King George III in Bowling Green (former Dutch cattle market) removed by angry American patriots
1775 Revolutionary War begins
1776 Declaration of Independence reaches New York City on July 9
1783 the British evacuate New York along with the Loyalists
1785-1790 first Capital of US, Federal Hall site; Bill of Rights added to Constitution, George Washington sworn in
1792 New York Stock Exchange opens, nation's first - city becomes financial center
1811 street grid imposed on entire island
1853 first US World's Fair
1850s citizen brigade given copper badges: ‘Coppers', ‘Cops' words introduced
1884 July 4: Statue of Liberty presented
1889 Oklahoma Land Run settles central Oklahoma Territory
1898 five boroughs unite to form NYC
1907 Oklahoma becomes a state of the USA
1921 journalist described NYC as the 'Big Apple' of horse racing
1931 40 Wall Street, Chrysler Building, and Empire State Building establish NYC as skyscraper capital
1939 World's Fair at Flushing Meadows, television introduced
1964-65 World's Fair at Flushing Meadows, Disney attractions introduced to East Coast
July 4, 1776
On July 1, 1776 in Philadelphia, about 90 miles southwest of New York, the debate began in the Continental Congress about the proposed declaration of independence from Great Britain. A vote was taken on July 2 and passed, with the New York delegates abstaining because they weren't authorized to vote without further approval from their government in New York. Around 11am on July 4, the Declaration of Independence was approved, with 39 revisions from the original document that had been written in large part by Thomas Jefferson. This document was signed by John Hancock, as president of the Continental Congress, and Charles Thompson, secretary. About 200 copies of the Declaration were printed in Philadelphia and distributed throughout the colonies. Later, on July 9, the New York delegation received approval to concur with the other 12 colonies.
On July 9, 1776, a mob ran from City Hall (now Federal Hall) where the Declaration had been read aloud, to Bowling Green and pulled down a statue of King George III and removed the crowns from the fence. The fence, which was erected in 1771, is still there.
The Declaration of Independence was finally signed by all delegates on August 2, 1776. The four signers in the New York delegation were William Floyd, Francis Lewis, Philip Livingston and Lewis Morris - all from prominent, wealthy families. Francis Lewis was born in Wales in 1713 and orphaned at the age of five. When he turned 21, he inherited money that had been left to him by his father and came to New York City, where he became a successful merchant. In 1775, with war approaching, he moved his family and possessions to Long Island. Shortly after he signed the Declaration of Independence, his house was plundered by the British and his wife imprisoned for several months. She died shortly after her release. Mr. Lewis lost much of his fortune in the Revolution. He died in poverty and is buried in an unmarked grave in Trinity Church at Broadway and Wall Streets. Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, five were captured by the British and tortured, 12 had their homes ransacked and burned, two lost their sons in the war and another had two sons who were captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from their wounds.
More revolutionary history
1664: British took control of Dutch New Amsterdam, New York became England's prized colony. Installed a 100-cannon battery from Staten Island Ferry to north of Bowling Green. Fort George was where Customs House is.
August 1776, Battle of New York: nearly 500 warships and 30, 000 soldiers - largest invasion force ever mounted by England. 7 years of British occupation followed.
Bowling Green: estab 1770, in 1776, after Declaration of Independence was read at Commons (City Hall Park) a mob ran down Broadway to Bowling Green and tore off crown tops to fence posts and topple statue of King George.
Fraunces Tavern: Fraunces was patriot who allowed the Sons of Liberty to meet in his tavern. He also listened to British officers and relayed their plans to General Washington.
Opening of Rev War: some students (incl Alex Hamilton) were dismantling battery cannons and got caught - they fired at British soldiers. British warship fired cannonball - hit Fraunces Tavern.
August 29: Washington's troops were split into Manhattan and Brooklyn. Wash led nightime retreat from Brooklyn across East River to unite his troops. Allowed British to take NYC, but Continental Army now had full fighting force.
September 21, 1776: Washington wanted to burn down city rather than leave it to British. Congress forbade him. But, somehow, fire raced up Broadway towards Trinity Church. The town was burned, after all. St. Paul's Chapel survived thanks to bucket brigade. Washington worshipped there before his retreat from the city and it was still standing after the war.
Population of NYC doubled from 12, 000 to 24, 000 within just 2 years of war's end. Guns at Battery were removed and Ft George dismantled to form Battery Promenade.
April 30, 1789: Inauguration Day. Washington prayed at St Pauls before his Inauguration at Federal Hall. During 17 months of his NY presidency, St Paul was his family church.
Washington later took walks along Battery and Martha entertained official functions at Fraunces Tavern.
June 20, 1790: Al Hamilton visits T Jefferson's house on Maiden Lane - they decided that the new Federal government, not the states, would be responsible for the Revolutionary War debts if the capital was moved to a more central location, to appease Southern congressman. Capital was moved to Philadelphia for 10 years and then to new town of Wash DC.
Washington's Triumphal Entry into New York, November 25, 1783 19th century color print. Gift of James Mortimer Montgomery, collection of Fraunces Tavern Museum
November 25 is one of the most important days in New York City history - it was celebrated with military parades, banquets, oratory and fireworks for well over a century. On that date in1783, after seven years of British occupation, the British left New York City and General George Washington triumphantly returned at the head of his victorious army. The New York Morning Post of November 27, 1783 stated that "the American troops marched from Haerlem, to the Bowery-Lane. They remained there until about one o'clock, when the British troops left the posts in the Bowery, and the American troops marched into, and took possession of the City." Eyewitnesses recorded that the city to which the Americans returned was half in ruins, with earthworks and trenches making many streets impassable. Trinity Church, the city's largest structure, had burned down. The population had shrunk from 20, 000 in 1770 to 12, 000. Most of the city's trees had been cut down and the wells were dry.
The British marched out in their scarlet uniforms. The Americans marched in, as one woman described, "ill clad and weather beaten...but they were our troops, and my eyes were full." In Battery Park was a flag pole on top of which the departing British had hoisted a Union Jack flag, greasing the pole to make it almost impossible to climb. But an American sailor, John van Arsdale, obtained some tools and ascended the pole and replaced the British flag with an American flag. General Washington and the troops marched down Broadway to the Battery immediately afterward.
Nine days later, December 4, 1783, Washington said farewell to his troops at Fraunces Tavern and left for his home in Virginia. In 1883, on the centenary of Evacuation Day, the statue of George Washington that now stands in front of Federal Hall at Broad and Wall Streets was unveiled with New York governor Grover Cleveland in attendance. Evacuation Day continued to be celebrated until World War I, when the British and the Americans were allied and the observance of British defeat was abandoned. Story info from Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Cemeteries also served as public parks, where people would go for a walk and even to picnic. Trinity, established in 1697 by an edict of King William III of England, has many graves dating from the 1700s, though the earliest burial, Richard Churcher, who died at the age of 5 in 1681, predates the founding of the parish. North side under a tombstone with a skull and crossbones, a winged hourglass, and an imitation of a 1600s English bedstead. The most famous: Alexander Hamilton, buried on the south side next to Rector Street. An orphan who emigrated to New York City from St. Croix in the Caribbean in search of an education, he was a lawyer, a writer, a general in the American Revolution, George Washington's aide-de-camp, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the nation's first Secretary of the Treasury, and the founder of the US Coast Guard, the Bank of New York, and the New York Post. He died on July 12, 1804 after a duel with Aaron Burr. Hamilton's wife, Elizabeth Schuyler, is buried next to him, and his oldest son, Philip, is nearby. Some people Hamilton knew: William 'Lord Sterling' Alexander, a major general in the Continental army; John Alsop, a delegate to the Continental Congress from New York; John Jacob Astor, who traded in furs and was the wealthiest person in the United States when he died in 1848; Albert Gallatin, who served in Congress as a representative from Pennsylvania and who was Secretary of the Treasury under President Thomas Jefferson; Horatio Gates, a major general in the Continental army; Hoysted Hacker, a captain in the Continental navy; John Sloss Hobart, a Senator from New York; William Houstoun, a Continental congressman; James Lawrence, a naval officer in the War of 1812; John Jordan Morgan, Congressman; John Morin Scott, Continental congressman - and many more. Robert Fulton, whose development of the steamboat transformed commercial traffic on the Hudson River, lived in Lower Manhattan at the same time that Hamilton lived and worked here. On Feb. 24, 1815, he died at his residence in what is now Battery Place and is buried in the Livingston vault on the north side of Trinity church. A monument to Fulton is on the south side, near Hamilton's grave.
In 1733, New York residents petitioned the crown for the creation of a public park at the foot of Broadway. Before then, it had been public land used for grazing, but now residents wanted it set aside for lawn bowling - the fashionable sport in England in those days. Thus it became known as the Bowling Green. The King complied by leasing this park to the residents of New York for the nominal fee of one peppercorn per year. When Queen Elizabeth II visited New York in 1976, a city official presented her with 200 peppercorns - one for each year of rent in arrears since the Revolution.
In 1765, in protest against a new round of British taxes, some locals stormed the green and ripped down the fence put there by the King. The dispute was over money - Parliament wanted the colonies to pay for themselves, and as the costs of maintaining them rose, so did the taxes. In particular, the cost of protecting the colonists had been steadily increasing as they pushed inland into Indian territories. To offset these costs, Parliament passed three tax laws in the 1760's which became notorious in the American Colonies - the Sugar Act, the Tea Act and the Stamp Act, the last of which was a tax on printed documents. The colonies were in an uproar, and some already began to call for independence. Parliament defended these taxes on the grounds that their proceeds were returned to the colonies in the form of protection and services, but since Americans were still not represented in Parliament, these arguments fell on deaf ears. “No taxation without representation" was the American battle-cry long before the declaration of independence was written.
In 1770, the British replaced the fence with the one we have now - making it one of the oldest artifacts in Manhattan. And they also installed an equestrian statue of George III in the middle of the Green as a way of reasserting his authority. During the five years, tensions in the colonies were to boil over, flaring into outright Revolution on the 18th of April, 1775.
July 4 1776: representatives of the 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, and returned to their homes to rally the cause. George Washington, despite being a Virginian, was sent to New York in order to ensure its loyalty to the cause.
July 9 1776: in City Hall Park just up Broadway, Washington read the Declaration aloud to patriots and soldiers of the Continental Army. “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another . . ." - such was the feeling inspired by this first public reading of the founding document of the United States that despite Washington's pleas for moderation, the mob raced back down Broadway to attack this park once again (see photo above of toppling the statue).
They ripped down the statue of the King, tore his head off, and set it on a spike outside a Tavern up near Ft Washington - now 181st and Broadway. They then sent the metal body to a weapons factory in Connecticut where, in the words of one veteran, it was hoped that “the emanations from the leaden George III would make deep impressions in the bodies of some of his red-coated and Tory subjects." This was New York's crossing of the Rubicon, its way of declaring itself in favor of the Revolution. With this act, the die was cast; the war was on. Within two months, the British Army would chase Washington out of New York and rule it by martial law for the duration of the war.
The 40-story building at 1 Centre Street was designed by McKim, Mead & White, opened in stages between 1913 and 1916. It housed not only most of the city government but a handsome new subway station. The summit of the Municipal Building with its four small turrets surrounding a large one is a graphic depiction of New York City's growth. Civic Fame atop the building was the work of Adolph A. Weinman (1870-1952), who also designed the Liberty dime and the half dollar. At 25 feet tall, she is New York City's second largest statue, after the Statue of Liberty. In her left hand, she holds a five-pointed crown, symbolizing the five boroughs.
1920 terrorist attack
At the stroke of noon on September 16, 1920, a bomb exploded along Wall Street between Federal Hall and the JP Morgan Bank building, killing 38 people and maiming hundreds more. It was the worst terrorist bombing in the United States until the Oklahoma City attack in 1995, the worst in New York until the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. The bomb was most likely dynamite tied to iron sash weights that acted as shrapnel. It blew people apart where they walked out on a cool, late-summer day, tore arms and legs, hands and feet and scalps off living human beings. Others were beheaded or eviscerated, or found themselves suddenly engulfed in flames. Still more injuries were caused by a cascade of broken glass and the terrified stampede that followed. The bomb's target was presumed to be the House of Morgan, which sat like a blockhouse just across the street from where the explosive had been left in a horse-drawn wagon. The Morgan bank had emerged from World War I as the single most powerful financial institution in the world, and both the firm and its principals had been under increasing attack, rhetorical and otherwise, ever since it had arranged a huge loan a few years before to help the Allies and keep the Great War going. But the only fatality inside the firm was a 24-year-old clerk. Nearly all the bank's employees were back at their desks the next morning, some of them still bandaged and bruised. The explosion merely pocked the firm's impenetrable, marble walls. J.P. Morgan left the shrapnel pockmarks in the walls to show how solid his building was. Those are still visible on Wall Street at Broad Street. As with all terrorist attacks, most of the victims, 38 dead and 400 injured, were innocent bystanders, “messengers, stenographers, clerks, salesmen, drivers, " men and women for whom “Wall Street was not a grand symbol of American capitalism" but “a place to make a modest living by selling milk, driving a car, typing reports, recording sales." Only seven of the dead were over the age of 40. Five of them were women, four of them teenagers. Who would do such a thing? A bevy of the nation's most prominent lawmen and private detectives immediately descended on Wall Street, blaming first anarchists, then paid agents from Lenin's new government in Moscow. But years of investigation yielded nothing - no indictments, no trials, no culprits. No one ever came forward to take responsibility for the crime, or to state what it was supposed to accomplish, and before long it had dropped from public view, lost among the sensations of the racing, giddy '20s. Free political prisoners or death for you, was the statement left by the American Anarchist Fighters.
Wall street wall
March 13 1644: "Resolved: that a fence or park shall be made beginning at the great bouwery and extending to Emanuel's plantation, and every one . . . is warned to repair thither next Monday beginning the 4th of April at 7 o'clock . . . with tools in hand to aid in con-structing said fence. Let everyone take notice hereof and communicate it to his neighbor."
April 4th, 1644: Wall Street was born. Manhattan had a couple thousand Dutch settlers (notice the stepped roofs) living below Wall Street. Unlike the British colonies in Virginia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, New Amsterdam (renamed New York twenty years later, in 1664) was exclusively a trading colony, set up to extract valuable resources from surrounding area. Beaver pelts, in particular, were in high demand in Europe. The Dutch did not even need to trap them themselves, but could trade with the local indians who were much more adept at it. The Dutch provided the indians with wampum (sea shells collected off the banks of Long Island), liquor, guns and ammunition, in return for beaver pelts and anything else they needed. This was a double-edged sword, however, because these mercenary colonists tended to make quick enemies of the indians, and once they were armed with European weapons, they became a serious threat - hence, the wall.
Formerly the City Hall, George Washington was sworn in as the first President on a second floor balcony of the building that preceded the current building. Constitutional amendments addressing personal and civil liberties were debated and approved inside Federal Hall. There were originally 12 proposed - 10 were approved, nicknamed the 'Bill of Rights'.
Maiden Lane, which runs between Broadway and the East River, owes its name to the lovely image of a long-gone stream and to the 17th-century Dutch maidens who once washed their laundry there. The stream was filled in after the British took over from the Dutch in 1664. A few decades later, in September 1732, a company of professional actors arrived from London and set up a theater near the corner of Pearl Street and Maiden Lane. New York City's first theater district had become a fashionable residential area by the end of the 18th century. For a few months during the two years that New York City served as the nation's first capital (1788-1790), Thomas Jefferson lived at 57 Maiden Lane. He had a windowed gallery built in back of his residence where he kept some East Indian rice plants gathered by Capt. William Bligh - master of the ill-fated ship, the Bounty, and sent to Jefferson by a friend in London. By the early 19th century, Maiden Lane had become New York City's jewelry district possibly because ships bringing gold and jewels could dock in the East River. The street between Broadway and Nassau was lined with small workshops.
Some New York City people
John Jacob Astor: fur trade, real estate, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Hotel Astor: 34th Street - Empire State Building
Cornelius Vanderbilt: shipping
Andrew Carnegie: Carnegie mansion (Cooper-Hewitt Museum)
Peter Cooper: inventor of Jell-O, industrialist, Cooper Union, 1859
Cooper-Hewitt Museum: sisters Sally and Nelly Hewitt (granddaughters of Peter Cooper) bought a collection of textiles in Paris in the 1870s and dreamed of creating a museum. Museum for the Arts of Decoration opened at Cooper Union in 1897. The eccentric sisters amassed 10, 000 objects by 1910. Later moved to Fifth Avenue and renamed Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1967.
Cooper Union alumni: Lou Dorfsman, Herb Lubalin, Victor Moscoso, Milton Glaser, & Seymour Chwast
Broadway used to be a Native American path, cut through the brush and swamps of old Mannahatta, called the Wickquasgeck Trail. When the Dutch came, they took it as their main highway and gave it many names: Wagen Weg (Wagon Way), de Heere Straat (Gentleman's Street), and Brede Weg (Broad Way). Then the English won out and anglicized it to Broadway.
Big Apple 1: coined by touring jazz musicians of the 1930's who used the slang expression 'apple' for any town or city. To play New York City was to play the big time - The Big Apple.
Big Apple 2: a writer for the New York Morning Telegraph, John Fitzgerald, referred to New York City's horse races "Around the Big Apple." It is rumored that Fitzgerald got the term from jockeys and trainers in New Orleans who aspired to race on New York City tracks, referring to the "Big Apple."
Bowery (Dutch for farm): elegant colonial-era elite, then rooming houses, Boston Post Road
Bowling Green: Dutch cattle market, 1771 fence tops and statue of King George III removed by angry patriots
Broad Street: former canal, Dutch homes lined it, filled in (was wide)
Bridge Street: bridge crossed the canal (Broad Street)
Bronx: once vast farmland owned by the Dutch Bronck family. Travelers would say, “We're going up to the Broncks' farm." Over time - “the Bronx."
Canal Street: canal to drain an inland swamp(where Foley Plaza is now)
Castle Clinton: battery, British 1811, never used as a fort, later emigrant station (pre-Ellis Island) Castle Garden, aquarium, concert hall
Columbia University: formerly King's College, founded at Trinity Church on Broadway
Delancey Street: Chief Justice, 1700s, James de Lancey
Greenwich Street: led from downtown to its terminus, Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village: SE London, named by colonists late 1600s, elite sought refuge from city disease
Herald Square: NY Herald newspaper
John Street: 1600s shoemaker, John Harpendingh, area of shoe factories
Maiden Lane: creek, young Dutch women cleaned clothes there
Manhattan: Algonquin Indian word meaning 'Hilly Island' or 'Land of Hills'
New York: English took control in 1664, renamed for Duke of York, boundary just beyond Chambers Street.
Pearl Street: (original shoreline) clams/oysters left on beach by Indians
Reade Street: 1700s Warden of Trinity Church, John Reade
Stone Street: first paved street, as insisted by women, 1690-1800: elite Dutch residences, once called Duke but reverted to Stone
Times Square: formerly Longacre Square, an area of horse and carriage stables for the wealthy. NY Times built a new building and asked the city to rename the square. The name 'Great White Way' originates from the bright lights (no color lights at that time).
Union Square: (laid out 1839) union of streets
Vesey Street: for Reverend William Vesey, 1st Rector of Trinity Church, founded school for slaves and Indians
Windmill: Maiden Lane carts transporting grain from ships on the East River to a windmill near the Hudson - first skyline element, and now the centerpiece of the New York City seal.
Cops: In the 1850s, crime had gotten so bad and tough to control, the city authorized a 'citizens brigade' and issued them copper badges. People called them ‘Coppers' or ‘Cops'. Over time, the terms were used to reference any police officer.
CBGB: The birthplace of American Punk Rock, founded December 1973 by owner Hilly Kristal. Country, Bluegrass, Blues (the music originally intended to be played there)
OMFUG: Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers (?)
Bands: The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, The Cars, and many more started there. When The Ramones first played there (by telling Hilly that they played a bit of country and bluegrass), they didn't even know how to play their instruments. They simply just turned their amps up louder than anyone else and made lots of noise and the crowd loved it.