Archive for November 2007

Bryant Park Gift Shops

November 30, 2007

When Christmas comes to NYC, there are a number of inescapable direct commercial tie-ins.  There are the Christmas windows in the major department stores and then there are shops opening up in common areas such as Bryant Park and Union Square.

The shops are virtually all small kiosks and are open-air.  The vendors are very specialized and seem to be mom-and-pop type of operations.


Lots of stuff that looks hand-carved.


There’s a long line of them that goes from one side of the Library to the other…or almost all the way.


It actually ends on the south side at a pretty large Christmas tree.


Not as grand as Rockefeller Center’s, though.  (Note, I didn’t go to the lighting on Wednesday night.  That place is unapproachable by the time I get off work.  It’s much better to watch at home…not that I did, but it’s the only way to see that spectacle.)

The shops are also adjacent to the free ice skating rink (well, you can rent skates for a price but it’s free if you bring your own and are willing to wait to get on the ice).


But I’ll show that in another post.


NYC’s Least Successful Undercover Police Car

November 29, 2007

But what do I know?  Stealthy NYC cops probably cruise around in this catching perps by the hundreds who have absolutely no idea of the identity of the occupants.  I’m not quite so easily fooled.



The bumper sticker gives it away.  It’s on every cop car in the city.


A NYC Christmas Window

November 28, 2007

I need a new chair.  Hey, it’s NYC and there are lots of places to buy chairs!  Right?  Well, how come I’m having such a tough time?  Ehhh, it doesn’t matter.

I decided to go down to ABC Furniture at Broadway and 19th Street to see if they had an acceptable chair.  The store is huge (by Manhattan standards) at six floors and is about as eclectic as you could ever hope for.  The store is so eclectic, it’s on two sides of the street!  Rugs on the west side, everything else on the east.  It has a wonderful selection and has the coolest floors around.  Old stuff.  Big herringbone in some areas, creaky old floorboards painted white in others.  It isn’t your standard mall anchor store or your suburban furniture place.  Honest to goodness, the place has character.  It doesn’t, however, have a chair that I like.

Anyway, as I was leaving I started looking at their windows in the front and saw a Christmas window that beats everybody else’s.  I haven’t been by very many so far this year, but they are always similar.  This store has the one I truly love.


It’s as if they remember what Christmas is really all about.

But you have to remember, this is NYC.  Other windows are more Buddhist and New Age than anything else and there’s an awful lot of Hindu stuff in the store.  But they did have actual Christmas music playing (not “holiday music”, but Christmas music).


A Courier on 42nd Street

November 27, 2007

I don’t know if this guy is a courier or not, but I like to think of him as such.  Without a car in Manhattan, it can be tough to get packages around.  Typically, you hail a cab and hope it can fit in; or wait to get one of the few minivan cabs.  Or pay for separate delivery…at their time, not your’s.

But this guy has an alternative for a bulky package:  skate with it.  I can’t imagine it was very heavy nor breakable, but it was a cool sight to see.  It’s a little hard to grasp from the picture, but the bag was huge and bulky.  It didn’t phase the skater, though.



Merchant’s House Museum

November 26, 2007

I recently saw a notice that the Merchant’s House Museum was giving a special showing of the servants’ quarters.  Well, that led me to try and figure out what the Merchant’s House Museum was and why would I care about the servants’ quarters.

It’s actually a house of a former NYC resident.  Former, as in the early 1800s.  It was originally built by Joseph Brewster and bought by Seabury Tredwell, a merchant who did import/export around the time of the Erie Canal.  He did very well, and build this house to show how well he did.  His family lived there until 1933 and was then given to the City.


As houses in America go, it’s not particularly large, but it is good sized for NYC.

It has at least four floors, with the top floor being the servants’ quarters.

When you go in, your receive (for your $8) a notebook with a self-guided tour.  You first go to the basement and look at the living areas down there.  There are some displays of how life was for the era.  The kitchen is very interesting.


Just past the table you can see a white object.


Yeah, it’s the family bathtub.  They’d bathe every week or so, whether they needed it or not I imagine.

Pardon the poor quality of the pictures.  They don’t allow flash photography and the lighting is poor so my shutter stayed open forever.

The main floor had the living and dining rooms.  It doesn’t appear to have original furnishings, but ones from the proper era.


Notice the coffin.  Technically, it’s not the living room:  it’s the parlor.  Deaths were frequent in those days and homes were traditionally part of the funeral process.

The upstairs held the main bedrooms.  I did like the built-ins.


But the area that really makes the place is the back courtyard.  What I wouldn’t give…


And a wonderful view of the back of the house.


The servants’ quarters are currently used for storage, so there’s really nothing to see other than the space itself. 

The house feature that’s interesting is that the money for building the place was spent in making it look good to impress the frequent visitors.  Then, as now, the servants’ quarters weren’t places that the visitors would go so they were the worst looking and maintained.  However, the front of the house was on full display, so the quarter’s external visage was equal with the rest of the house.

Overall, the museum isn’t a don’t-miss kind of display.  But I enjoyed it and found it interesting and my $8 reasonably well-spent.