Archive for April 2008

Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal

April 23, 2008

Yeah, it is Grand Central Terminal, not Grand Central Station (although I either call it just “Grand Central” or “Grand Central Station” – but that’s just my favorite little error to make in its name).

Vanderbilt Hall is something I’ve posted about before (here and here), but it’s never been the point of the post (one was on the Christmas shops that are in there and the other mentioned it as part of a larger post).  But, I have to admit that I really, really like the hall simply because it spends most of its time completely empty and cavernous.  They put up rails to prevent people from wandering in there and standing around, but you can easily duck around them if you really want.

On the other hand, they are also often in the process of putting up a display in there and then letting people go through it, like the Christmas shops.  My favorite use of it has always been Tartan Week which has Scottish shops on one side and performances on the other…along with tourist stuff promoting Scotland.

But that really doesn’t explain a heck of a lot.  When you first walk into the main entrance of Grand Central off of 42nd Street, you walk down a short vestibule area.  You then enter through some more doors.  On both sides of you (the left and the right) is Vanderbilt Hall.


You can see they look pretty much the same.


There are a couple of plaques, but the one that catches the eye is this one.


It reads:  “In memory and honor of Jacquiline Kennedy Onassis, 1929-1994, In an age when few people sought to preserve the architectural wonders that are a daily reminder of our rich and glorious past, a brave woman rose in protest to save this terminal from demolition.  Because of her tireless and valiant efforts, it stands today as a monument to those who came before us and built the greatest city known to mankind.  Preserving this great landmark is one of her many enduring legacies.  The people of New York are forever grateful.  October 1, 1998.”

Actually, Jackie died on 5/19/1994.  She didn’t get to see this plaque, but we get to see her legacy.

However, something is going on.  I haven’t been there for a few days, but the past few weeks they’ve been doing a lot of renovations or setup.  I’ll go back again soon to take another look.


Springtime in NYC

April 22, 2008

It finally seems to be happening.  Spring.

Park Avenue near 38th Street. The open area in the middle is a subway vent.

On Lexington Avenue, these trees caught my eye.

Most colorful of all are these tulips on 3rd Avenue.


Papal Ankling – Part 2 of 2

April 21, 2008

This is the second and last of my Papal visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral ankle. That is, this is the second post about me ankling to the Papal motorcade down Fifth Avenue. The Cathedral is very impressive, but it doesn’t have an ankle that I’m aware of.

So, I got to Fifth Avenue and 56th Street and was standing amidst the crowd. The line to the barricade was two or three people deep and this crowd had made a lot of home-made signs. The picture below shows the big banner they had. It was supported by some sort of long cardboard tubes. I feared for my chance to view Pope Benedict XVI once these people had all picked up their banners. But, he was supposed to come in the Popemobile and I figured I’d see at least a part of him.

Over the few minutes that I had been there, the dancers had grown in number and were doing their song and dance in a long line. As I said before, the crowd would occasionally join in on the chorus. To call this pleasant is a huge understatement. It was, at least to a very small extent, sublime.

At about 8:50am, I noticed a Secret Service guy walking just inside the street, looking very carefully at the crowd. In the distance, the number of flashing lights grew in number and then the motorcycles came. This is only one of four pictures of the motorcycles that I got. And my camera has a long delay between pictures. There were perhaps 30 of them.

Then the standard black SUV. I’ve no idea if it was staff or cops or both in it. Doesn’t matter.

Then a limo.

And another SUV followed by a limo.

And another limo. Actually, three of them.

Or was it a total of four limos after that second SUV?

At about this time, the woman next to me started yelling, “That was him! He looked right at me!”

But I hadn’t seen the Popemobile. No bubble-top. No standing,sitting, or propped up figure in ancient garb. Just a bunch of limos with no sign as to who was in which.

The limos were followed by this vehicle. Probably an emergency truck, maybe it was an ambulance.

And it was followed by this cop car.

Strangely, at that point helicopters appeared in the distance. Four of them. (Three are just specks in the next picture, but they were certainly up there.)

The helicopters had all of us wondering if the Pope was coming now. There was virtually no movement for a few minutes and then the cops started to let traffic start flowing east-west.

And I went home.

So, did I see the Pope? I’d have to say No. Did the Pope see me? I’d have to go with the woman and say, Yes.

The Pope got the lesser of the deal.


Papal Ankling – Part 1 of 2

April 20, 2008

On Saturday, I woke up early and said to myself: “Maybe I’ll go see the Pope.” So, off I went.

I live on the East Side and the Pope was going to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in mid-town on Fifth Avenue. For days, we’d been plastered with notices as to what streets are open/closed and the like. So, my target was to get as close to Fifth Avenue and 51st Street as I possibly could.

I had heard they were issuing 5,000 tickets for St. Patrick’s, but I’m not Roman Catholic and I figured that there was quite a crush for them. But I had heard that the Pope’s route down Fifth Avenue was open to the public and I just viewed it as another sort of parade.

And off I went. I heard that security was going to be high, but (and I say this as someone who has seen a number of presidential motorcades and appearances) Wow! Oodles of security.

Madison Avenue is just to the east of Fifth Avenue. Security had cut off everything on Madison north of 47th Street. Here are those dumptrucks again. Papal Dumptrucks! There oughta be a marketing tie-in somehow on this.

If you could prove you worked/lived north of there, you could go through. But probably only a block or two. And you saw a cop every 10 feet or so.

The rest of us they told to go over to Sixth Avenue. And so we walked over there, but had to go to 46th Street to do so. On Sixth, I found a huge line of people apparently waiting to be let to go onto Fifth Avenue. (When I walked past Fifth, I saw that they had empty barricades waiting for people to be let into the area.)

I first walked across the street and took a picture of the Sixth Avenue line. I joined it at 45th street and in less than 2 minutes had at least 100 people behind me. They were coming in droves.

Here’s a picture from within the line. The crowd was quite jovial and excited and I was delighted to be in it. A couple of people around me mentioned that they had their tickets and I thought that it was interesting that they hadn’t segregated out the ticket holders from the rest of us rabble.

Sirius Radio hired a number of pretty, young ladies to hand out placards. The placards were very popular. I got one of the hander-outers to pose for me.

And, of course, there were a number of people selling, as best as I can describe it, Pope Junk.

When the line got to 47th Street, the police had set up a line of cops to shunt people coming out of the subway stop to get in our line. By this time, I figured the line was back to 40th Street or so. For people going to see a moral leader, they had no qualms about cutting into line. No one denounced them. Just about the only ones who didn’t cut into line were the ones trying to cut into line further ahead. Oh, and ones trying to get the cops to give them a break and let them go down 47th. Apparently, people who could prove they worked/lived there were let through.

A common sight, a number of people would just caaaassssuuuuuaaaaalllllllyyyyy duck under the barricades and start walking down the street with the cops running up to them and throwing them out. The people were utterly bewildered, or seemingly so.

Once past 47th, the speed of the line going over to Fifth picked up. And so did the bad news. Just as I was nearly past 47th, a cop called out that the line was only for people with tickets. I didn’t believe him. It was 8:18am and I had joined the line about 7:20. I started wondering why no one had said anything earlier if it were true. Maybe they had segregated the ticket holders from the rabble and I, rabble indeed, had overstepped my bounds. I just kinda laughed about it and figured that maybe I wouldn’t get to see Pope Benedict XVI after all.

But there were others who weren’t going to see the Pope either. This fun little group of protestors tried to provoke people. I think once they passed us, they did get called names by people further back. Folks, that’s what they want.

Mostly, they were ignored by our group. Actually, it may have been inadvertent and the protest group was moving fast and most of the people around me were all deep in conversation with each other.

And the protestors did love getting their pictures taken. You just have to wonder about their priorities in this life and their willingness to make unfounded/provocative statements. No explanation as to why or what or how. Just a denouncement. (Maybe they were pro-Pope provocateurs trying to ferret out the unfaithful. Yes, that must be true. The young people below are doubtless Opus Dei insiders! Ha! I found you out! Don’t try to deny it.)

And when I got to 49th Street, a cop came by calling out that we needed to pull out our tickets or we needed to get out of line! I called out to her that I would get out of line and the cop started laughing. I had known I wouldn’t make it in, but had enjoyed the experience. The picture below is right at the spot where most of the line-waiters were directed to the right. And about 10 feet from where I was thrown out of line. I had been in the line for an hour and five minutes. It was 8:25 and the Pope was coming down Fifth Avenue for a 9am mass.

I decided that I’d head north and see where I could cut east. I just wanted to see how close I could get. I had to go all the way to 57th Street, which is a major east-west thoroughfare, before I could go east. And I did.

Once I got to 5th Avenue, I could see that the route was open for standing and watching. And people had apparently been waiting for a while. I ended up at 56th Street right across from Trump Tower. Most of the people in the area were Hispanic. If I had to bet, they were South Americans and they were having a good time singing and dancing.

And they didn’t mind having their picture taken.

Below is the musical source, just a little band without any sort of amplifiers. It was wonderful. Every so often, they’d break into a chorus that the whole crowd would join in. It wasn’t Choir-like, just a bunch of people doing a familiar song.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you how close I got.



April 19, 2008

Today, the Pope’s in town.  And it’s Passover.  That’s a two-fer.

I did get out to see Pope Benedict XVI and will post on that separately.  But I haven’t forgotten that today is the day that Jews celebrate the pivotal event of their separation from Egypt.

A little Exodus 12 for you (King James style).

Verse 14:  And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Verse 23:  For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

Verses 26 and 27:  And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?  That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.  And the people bowed the head and worshipped.

Versus 14 and 26-27 are certainly fulfilled.  All across the world there are seders being held today in remembrance of that ancient event.  And I can never see verse 23 without thinking of a sytlized Cross and my belief that Christ himself is the Passover Lamb. 

John 1:36  And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

1 Corinthians 5:7:  For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.

Happy Passover.



Papal Visit to NYC – First Signs

April 18, 2008

The long-awaited Papal visit to New York has begun. As regular readers of this blog are aware, I live in the Tudor City section of Manhattan, right next to the United Nations. And this morning, the Pope was coming.

Oh, and this morning, the security protocols were going into effect. Starting at 42nd Street, the street blocking had begun well before 7am when these pictures were taken. First, a picture of the UN itself from the end of 41st Street. You can see the 42nd Street blocking systems in operation. The ambulances were there just-in-case, I presume.

A close-up of the hubbub.

And the ultimate in road blocking: dump trucks.

On Tudor Blvd, they were towing vehicles parked on the overpass. Of course, they had cops posted up there, too. Hey, they had cops posted everywhere!

Here’s the same 42nd Street and 1st Avenue view, but from the 42nd Street overpass.

From the opposite side of the overpass, here’s a view of the blocking of 42nd Street at 2nd Avenue. There are two dumptrucks there. I don’t know why there are still vehicles in the street. They are probably cop cars or some sort of security.

Finally, from just a few yards east of 2nd Avenue, here’s a picture of the dumptrucks blocking 42nd.

I think the Pope was due between 9am and 10am. I was at work, so if he dropped by my place…well, sorry ’bout that.


Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, and Airmen’s Club

April 17, 2008

This morning, there was an underground explosion at 39th Street and Lexington Avenue. Not a big one, but enough to remind people of last year’s steampipe explosion. They evacuated four buildings, at least temporarily.

But it did remind me that I was in the area a few days ago and took a few pictures of one of the local institutions: The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen’s Club at 37th Street and Lexington Avenue.

I really like their plaques.  Below are two that I grabbed photos of.

The plaque below says that it is open to veterans of all US forces and its allies.

It’s a pretty nice looking place in a good location, but I haven’t been inside.  My family served, not me…