Archive for the ‘Wanderings’ category

Thomas Jefferson Park in Spanish Harlem

August 17, 2008

I’ve done a fair amount of blogging about my trip through Spanish Harlem / El Barrio / East Harlem. I don’t know quite how many posts I got out of it (six?). But, I do know that I’ve written a fair amount for just a few hours of wandering. And I didn’t even talk to anyone! And the place was mostly empty of people!

But that wasn’t true of Thomas Jefferson Park. It had a few people in it, although I wouldn’t call it a big crowd. Nevertheless, after finding so few people in Spanish Harlem itself, the light crowds were a welcome sight. The park is located on 114th Street or so and First Avenue.

When I first wandered in, the thing I noted was a lot of picnic tables and some sort of organized sporting event that was being prepared. It was on a large running track and included quite a few people. It was a health fair and event called “Run for Life” put on by a local health plan group called MetroPlus.

But the thing I really noticed was the pool. Wow, they had a huge, huge pool. It was pretty deserted, but probably because it was near noon and the sun was at the max.

But, like I said, there was other exercising going on. The below was a Church-group called the “Union Baptist Church Warriors.”

The sign for the event said it was an all-day event. I presume the light turnout was due to the heat and time of day.

Well, whatever the reason for the light crowds, it wasn’t for the lack of a pleasant area.

One last thing about the park: it had public barbeque areas! That’s rare. But the fact that you have to have a permit isn’t all that unexpected.


St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village

August 16, 2008

Smack in the middle of Greenwich Village is St. Vincent’s Hospital. The only way I know of the place is from endless reruns of Law & Order and, of course, from my infrequent wanderings of NYC that have taken me past it a number of times. As hospitals go, I’m sure it’s terrific and all; but I’ve never had anyone mention it to me in conversation. Like I said, just in Law & Order.

It’s on 7th Avenue around 12th Street, but there are offshoots of it all over the place. In honesty, it looks pretty ordinary. So ordinary, that I’ve never bothered to post on it. Just another building…

But that’s before I found a historical marker (I know, I know; the grammar I learned so long ago says “an historical” is more proper, but I think the use of “a” is now the standard). I’m a sucker for historical markers as any reader knows. I just luv ’em.

It surprised me. The marker says that Edna St. Vincent Millay (a famous American poet from the early 20th Century) was actually named for the hospital. I always thought (or would have thought had I considered the idea at any length) that “St. Vincent” in her name was a maiden name. Instead it was her middle name(s?). The plaque states that the name came because Edna’s uncle was saved by the hospital.

You know, I don’t ever recall reading any of her poetry.  So, I did a little looking.  If you wish, here they are.  I can’t say it is can’t-miss-reading…but then my taste in poetry has never extended much beyond the high school reading of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge (wow, I had forgotten how long it was!) and some Shakespearean sonnets.


Film Shooting on Sixth Avenue

August 15, 2008

Every so often when you’re walking around, you run across a film crew. This happened last weekend when I was on 6th Avenue near 52nd Street. I was on the west side and I noticed a huge group of people on my side looking directly across the street. I looked and saw the following sight:

Yeah, it doesn’t really stick out that much, does it? If you look a little closer, you can see a cameraman and some guy holding a big reflector. Okay, I did a little zooming in.

The next shot is actually during some of the filming. It only took about a minute and then they started to just sort of standaround and discuss whatever it is that they needed to talk about.

I tried to figure out who they were and whether it was a movie, TV, or commercial. I seriously doubt it was a movie. Generally, you can spot the trucks and the caterers and all those guys just up from the filming. It’s possible they were around a corner, but if it was a movie then it may have been some ancillary shots or maybe a smaller budget shoot. I’ve seen some movie stuff where there were entire semis stationed around all over the place.

It could have been a commercial. If so, its the one of the first times I saw any action on a commercial. They do a lot of preparation.

My guess; a TV shot. Maybe Law and Order or something like that. In any case, it just goes to show that we are all unreasonably besotted by the entertainment business. There wasn’t really anything to see but we all stood and watched; and I even got a post out of it.


Minor point: the area they were filming in is filled with tall buildings and several big plazas. I’m sure it was put to good use. If I ever see it on the screen, though, I guarantee that I won’t realize that I may have seen the live version.


Jefferson Market Courthouse in Greenwich Village

August 14, 2008

At the corner of Sixth Avenue and 10th Street in Greenwich Village sits a very beautiful building. The first time I saw it, I thought it was a church.

When I first did a little bit of exploring, I found that it was actually a former courthouse and library and who-knows-what-else. It has quite a few plaques on it describing what it was and the like, but I don’t know if it is functional in any capacity nowadays.

As you can see from the above, it does have the “New York Public Library” carved into some of its stones and there’s a plaque below it that details its use as such. But its when you go to the front that you find the best plaques. I only present one of them below. It details the history of the Jefferson Market Courthouse and says it was “designed along Victorian Gothic lines by Vaux & Withers. Was constructed in 1876 and served as the women’s court until 1932.” There’s a little more to it, but it is pretty standard stuff.

Another plaque actually details the names of the bell ringers. The plaque is from 1996 and details the names and hourly times of the people who ring the bell. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it ring, so I don’t know if it is still functioning.

One thing I’ll say about it, other than what a grand building it is: I don’t ever recall not seeing it surrounded by scaffolding! Ever. It just seems to be in perpetual repair or perhaps I don’t wander by often enough.


Abingdon Square Park in Greenwich Village

August 13, 2008

Somewhere in Greenwich Village…okay, at the corner of 12th Street and 8th Avenue…is Abingdon Square Park. It’s pretty nondescript, but is graced with a Farmers’ Market every Saturday. I’ve been by there a few times and the place is pretty traditional for NYC parks. It’s nice, well attended, and lots of seating.

Another thing it has is a statue to local soldiers who fought and died in World War I. It’s not particularly disconcerting, but I always smile about war statues when I’m in Greenwich Village, one of the last enclaves of the counterculture. Or it would be if it hadn’t been thoroughly involved in the real estate runup of the past couple of decades. Expensive homes in the area, don’t-ya-know?

Like I said, well-maintained and rather lush with plantlife. Notice the flagpole in the next picture. It has a sign saying it was dedicated in 1933 by the Michael J. Lynch V.F.W. in memory of “our departed comrades.” It’s a nice and useful item in the park.

The farmers’ market is not in the square itself. Instead, it surrounds the park by being on the encompassing sidewalk. As such, it isn’t a particularly large market, but it seemed rather popular with the locals that day.