Archive for the ‘Harlem’ category

St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University

July 24, 2008

One of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings within Columbia University is, wouldn’t you know it, a church. Or, rather a chapel. St. Paul’s Chapel, by name.

As an Air Force brat, I’m used to chapels and their distinctly multi-sectarian focus. I wasn’t surprised to note that they have Jewish services and even have a Moslem prayer group. I do admit being surprised to see that they actually have a Hare Krishna study group. I don’t know why, but I was.

It was originally founded as a Episcopal chapel, but that’s pretty much gone by the wayside, I’d guess. There’s a printed history outside the doors that details a bit of the chapel’s history. It was designed by Newton Phelps Stokes (and makes the point that he went by “Newt”). Well, Newt thought that St. Paul’s was his masterpiece. The building was started in 1904 and dedicated in 1907.

To be honest, I don’t know if it is a real masterpiece (although I note that it was honored as an official landmark by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1966 and probably more than qualifies as one). But I really like the lampposts outside the doors.

There are actually two of them, on on each side of the door. They were donated by the Class of 1883 during the 1908 Commencement. I mean, look at these things. Ain’t they magnificent!


Los Amigos Garden and Casita in Spanish Harlem

July 23, 2008

When I was in Spanish Harlem recently, I came across a number of community gardens. The most absolutely unusual one I have ever seen is right there on Pleasant Avenue and has the very “Barrio” sounding name of “Los Amigos Garden and Casita”.

The key to the “unusual”-ness of it is the word “Casita”. I hadn’t seen it on a community garden’s name before. It turns out that the word means “little house” and refers to a small house within the garden area. Imagine my surprise when I walked into a community garden and saw the below.

It was actually occupied. I thought I had wandered into someone’s yard and was trespassing! There were a few well-humored guys there (no English that I heard) and they motioned me to go on up to the house. But I felt like an intruder and took a couple of pictures and moved on. It wasn’t until later that I discovered the concept of casita and realized it might have been a real treat. But, then I really don’t know the rules of the house and whether it is only for community contributors and the like.

It doesn’t really matter. I wanted to see something unusual in El Barrio and I got something rather nice and special. To bad for me I didn’t know it at the time.


Some Columbia University Buildings

July 22, 2008

One thing I rather admire about Columbia is the layout of the buildings. There are a bunch of them and they generally share a similar architecture (at least to my eye). Yet, their settings make them distinct and I never got the feeling of a grid where there was a building every X feet or so.

I did note that most of them have names, but often no description about what they are used for. Sometimes they have a descriptor carved into the beams, but I tend to doubt that they are still used for the original use. Well, I guess.

Anyway, the next building has a very simple name: Philosophy. I have little doubt as to the accuracy of that name. And for a hot, hot day; people seemed to be around it more than most of the other buildings. It sort of reminds me of the old saying “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” Well, I was out there and so were the others…what does that classify us as?

But lots of the buildings have names like the next one: Dodge. I could make all sorts of bad jokes on that, but I’ll leave that up to my readers. I can say this: nice building. Largish, too.

Near Dodge is Lewisohn Hall. Hey, it got two words in its name (unlike Dodge).

The next one was one of the “cool” buildings. I really like the looks of this one: Earl Hall. Above the door mantle are the words: “Erected for the students that religion and learning may go hand in hand and character grow with knowledge.” I rather like that sentiment. I wonder if Earl Hall has anything to do with its ancient charge (“ancient” being a few decades old)?

More modern buildings do exist (and give lie to my earlier statement about “similar architecture”). Uris Hall is pretty centrally located. And it has a bit of modern sculpture (or however they want to classify it). Compare Uris and Earl and consider which one you’d like to go to. As for me (on that hot day); probably Uris as it was more likely to have central air. And a view of Earl Hall, maybe.

Avery Hall (below) is another one that I don’t know what it does. It is impressive, though.

Finally, a better shot of a building I mentioned in my earlier post: Journalism. As I understand it, this is where the Pulitzer Prizes are given.

I think this blog is safe from getting one of those.


Ankling Through Columbia University

July 21, 2008

This weekend was hot. Wowser, it was hot! And I decided to do my ankling about as far away from my home as you can get and still be in Manhattan: Columbia University.

I’ve been there a few times before, and every time I go; something drives me away. I don’t know why it happens, but it always does. This time it happened again; it was the heat and humidity that drove me back home. Maybe I only go there at times that something will go on and make me leave early.

But, I didn’t go away too quickly. I wandered over much of the campus, and was (as usual) impressed by it.

When you get off the 1 subway at 116th and get to the top; that’s where Columbia starts. Right across the street.

The entrance is pleasant, but one of the things that I always like is the little walkway right past the gates. It’s nicely tree-lined and very welcoming. The building on the left is, I believe, a theater/arts building while the building on the right is for journalism.

One thing that delights me is a little fake-out that they do. The next picture is of the Low Memorial Library. According to a plaque, it was donated in honor of Abiel Abbot Low and the first major building in this section (Morningside Heights) of Columbia. It was completed in 1897.

The fake-out? Well, it’s not a library. It’s an administrative and “ceremonial” building. The real library is well across the way. I had wondered why I never saw students flowing in and out of it until I discovered their dark little secret. Okay…it ain’t that dark of a secret and I’m sure Columbia has a whole bunch of genuine ones. But it’s the only one I’ve found in my wanderings.

Right in front of the “library” is a rather cool statue. It’s called “Alma Mater”. Very nicely done. I don’t know how old it is or the source of it (lots of their stuff has notations saying something like “donated by the Class of 1930”).

Oh, and Butler Library (the real library)? I mentioned it’s “across the way”. Here’s the view from the top of the Low Library’s steps. You can see “Alma Mater” down the way. The big building in the distance is the Butler Library (or so I’m told).

I wandered through Columbia for over an hour and took oodles of pics. But the day was hot and there were so few people around that nothing really happened. So, all I have to give you is a description and impressions. And I’ll do that over a number of posts; but I have to admit that my impression of Columbia is positive. Architecturally, it’s really nice. Academically, it’s top notch.

Oh, you might have noticed I categorized the place, at least in part, as Harlem. It likes to call itself Morningside Heights, but I view that as realtor-speak.


Holy Rosary Church in Spanish Harlem

July 19, 2008

During my recent wanderings of Spanish Harlem, I saw a sight that I knew was special. On 119th Street, just outside of the “Italian Harlem” area, was a nice looking church. I took just one picture. I figured it would just be another picture in my Spanish Harlem posting.

Wrong. It’s the Holy Rosary Church and I found it interesting enough to give it a solo post.  It turns out that it wasn’t part of the Italian Harlem area at all, but was founded by German and Irish worshippers in 1884 and the present building was done in 1900. 

I found a number of interesting things about the place.  First, it is a wonderful and impressive structure.  Second, according to the article I found on it, as late as 1975 it was doing Masses in English, Spanish, and Italian.  (I just like that idea.  Unfortunately, now it is just English and Spanish.)  Third, the website of the Church is a dead link.  C’mon guys, get with the program.  [UPDATE 8/8/08:  the website is active again.]  And, fourth, the place was locked up as tight as can be on a Saturday afternoon.  That’s sad.