Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I Walked New York City's Eldorado

Situated at 300 Central Park West is the most northern of the famous twin-towered luxury apartments along Central Park West—The Eldorado. The Eldorado translates from Spanish into “the golden one.” Its name derives from an old Spanish legend from the 1530s about a South American Indian chief would cover himself in gold dust and dive into a mountain lake. The name also later derived into representing the name of the famous lost city of gold for which many explorers would fruitlessly attempt to discover.

New York City’s Eldorado is a 30-story Art Deco structure that is quite cube-like in appearance up until near the twin-towers where you may begin to note a series of terraced set-backs. Those twin-towers actually light up to a golden brilliance in the evenings, perhaps in recognition of their former namesake. The building was constructed from 1929-1931 and replaced a former eight-story apartment from 1902 by the same name which used to reside at this address. That former apartment was actually about a century ahead of its time in that it offered on the first garages with vehicle chargers for electric cars.

New York City's Eldorado
New York City's Eldorado
Tenants of the 216-unit Eldorado tend to have slightly less space than some of the other complexes along Central Park West. Of the little bit we do know about these apartments is their tenants are able to enjoy are the space’s 10-foot-high ceilings and decorative fireplaces. Also, tenants within each of the towers do maintain a single unit to themselves on each floor.

The less spacious co-op (at least in celebrity terms) has not deterred a healthy list of notable current and former tenants. Residents at the Eldorado have included Grouch Marx, Alex Baldwin, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Dreyfus, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Fox, Carrie Fisher and Moby.

Musical artist Moby’s former 2 bedroom-2.5 bath penthouse atop the south tower has surprisingly proven to be a difficult sell in recent years. Moby originally acquired the four-story apartment in 2005 for $4.5 million, however, when he attempted to sell the property in 2007 for $7.5 million he drew little to no interest. He had to undertake an aggressive promotion strategy to unload the property which included self-recording a video of the property and even offering a $75,000 referral fee to anyone who may help move the property. One deterring factor many people figure is the property’s relatively inconvenient access. To get to the unit individuals must take the elevator to the 29th floor before having to exit and walk up two additional flights of stairs.

Moby was eventually able to sell the property for $6.7 million, however, the stairwell must’ve gotten to the new tenant as well as the penthouse was on the market just two years later for just under $6 million. Now fast forward to the present and that price has continued to decline and was most recently listed for just under $5 million. So if you are in the market for a $5 million stair-master, please send all $75,000 referral fees to IWalked Audio Tours.


  • Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eldorado
  • Address: 300 Central Park West, New York City
  • Cost: Free.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I Walked New York City's 1840s Semi-Suburban Home

Outside of the three-story home at number 152 East 38th Street you will no doubt notice a historical plaque that identifies this house, that is pushed back from the street a bit, was originally built in the 1840s. Famous residents have included the widow of the former eighth President of the United States, Martin Van Buren.

The building was remodeled from a period of 1934-1936 in the Federal Revival Style and during that time the property was subdivided into a home and office space (hence the two addresses on the low cement wall exterior). In addition, a one-story wall was built to divide the front yard, an ornate iron fence added (complete with sea shell ornamentation atop it), and the owner also had his grandchildren add their handprints in the sidewalk.

1840s Semi-Suburban Home

Sadly the most drastic of these alterations though was the erection of a gateway to hide the offices from street view. This home is a rare example of properties that are actually pushed back from the street within this area. It is unfortunate that we’re unable to have more insight as to other subtle differences, but it still warrants some of our attention for the variety it offers within the side streets of Midtown.


  • Website: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/12/realestate/streetscapes-152-east-38th-street-1857-row-house-stood-back-its-neighbors.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
  • Address: 152 East 38th Street, New York City, NY
  • Cost: Free.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Lever House NYC, Landmark Modernist Structure

Nearby the celebrated Seagram House is another landmark Modernist structure at 390 Park Avenue known as the Lever House NYC. This slender green-tinted glass tower stands at only twenty-one stories and appears as an inverted L from street-level. The building features an extended lobby floor that contains an art gallery and also a Sculpture Garden that was added in 1998. In the Sculpture Garden you can view works from Isamu Noguchi who also created the Red Cube which resides outside of 140 Broadway.

The glass curtain design by Gordon Bunshaft of the firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill was relatively new and innovative at the time. Similar to the added bronze beams on the Seagram House for aesthetic purposes, the glass curtain design contained an added outer wall of glass that was not structural. Although the glass was not operational, it did serve as a low-cost material to keep out the elements and allow for a high degree of natural lighting within the building. Lever House NYC was the second significant structure within the city to make use of the glass curtain design. The first was the U.N. Secretariat Building which had also been built in 1952.

The Lever House NYC was built as the American headquarters for the British soap company Lever Brothers. Lever Brothers president, Charles Luckman, expressed to Bunshaft that he wish for a “sparkling” design that would align with the company’s image. Bunshaft, in turn, responded with a shiny glass tower that would reflect the ideal image for a soap manufacturer.

 Lever House NYC
 Lever House NYC
As to the Lever Brothers, it would go on to merge into Unilever in 1930. The Lever Brothers division remained in the building until 1997 when it relocated to Greenwich,CT. The parent company, Unilever, does still maintain a small presence in the building though. Lever Brother’s former president, Charles Luckman, who many labeled the “Boy Wonder of Business” would go on to architect some magnificent buildings of his own including the existing Madison Square Garden.

In the 1990s the Lever House NYC fell into a period of decline when nearly all of its original glass, so meticulously selected for a uniform appearance, had been haphazardly replaced over the years. Forty years after its unveiling, ninety-nine percent of the glass had already been replaced at least once, giving it the appearance of a patchwork quilt. In 1998, though building’s owners began an extensive renovation which has since restored the building to its original luster of uniformity and elegance along Park Avenue.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

I Walked New York City's Cartier Building

The Cartier Building is a former mansion that is now home to the French jeweler and watch manufacturer. The building was constructed in 1904 and designed by English-born architect Robert W. Gibson (who is also known for his All Saints Cathedral in Albany, NY) as the home to millionaire Morton Freeman Plant. Plant acquired the land for his mansion from William K. Vanderbilt under the condition that the property not be used for commercial purposes for at least twenty-five years. The resulting mansion was a six-story Neo-Italian-Renaissance palazzo that features an exterior of marble and granite.

Plant resided in this building for just over ten years with his wife, Mae Cadwell Manwaring (aka Maisie). At the time of their union, Plant was sixty-one years old while Maisie was thirty years younger. In 1917, the Plants began to consider moving uptown as were many of their notable neighbors including the Vanderbilts. It was during this time that Maisie discovered an object of her desire and of considerable cost. On a visit to the Cartier store of the time, Maisie fell in love with a pearl necklace that was being showcased and estimated to have been valued at $1.2 million. Feeling it to have been a wise investment at the time, the Plants sold their six-story mansion to the Cartier store for the strand of pearls along with $100 in cash. The Plants, in turn, moved to a new home located near 86th Street.

New York City's Cartier Building


Unfortunately for the Plants, the value of pearls declined in the ensuing years by a significant amount due to the commercialization of cultured pearls. When the necklace was sold the year after Maisie’s death (in 1957) it sold for a paltry $170,000. Sadly, the whereabouts of the necklace today have been lost to time, although Ms. Maisie is said to still to obsess over its existence. Supposedly within a hotel in Clearwater, Florida that was formerly built by Morton’s father, there resides a disturbed female ghost who appears to be looking as though she lost her most prized possession.

Upon acquisition of the former mansion in 1917, the Cartier Corporation transformed the building into what some now refer to as the House of Cartier. The interior was reportedly completely redone by architect William Welles Bosworth, less the second floor music room. Cartier was founded in 1847 in Paris by Louis Francois Cartier. The family became well known in 1902 when it was hired to design a series of twenty-seven tiaras for the coronation of King Edward VII. A New York location was opened in 1909 by Louis’ son, Pierre who would eventually move the store to this locale in 1917.


  • Website: http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=14047
  • Address: 651 Fifth Avenue, New York City, NY
  • Cost: Free.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

I Walked New York City's Soldiers and Sailors Monument

The 95 foot tall white marble Soldiers and Sailors Monument was an addition to this area in 1902. It was dedicated on Memorial Day in honor of those New Yorkers who had dedicated their lives and fought so gallantly as part of the US Civil War. Originally New York did not have any serious plans or consideration for a Civil War monument until 1893 when it formed an association to begin to research the possibility. The committee held a public competition for the design of a memorial to be erected at the site of the Pulitzer Fountain over on the southeast corner of Central Park. This plan was later abandoned and the site was reconsidered to the current locale on the edge of Riverside Park. The winning design which was selected was titled, “Temple of Fame” and by Charles and Arthur Stoughton. The ornamentation which is so rich across the monument was actually done by the same man who designed the Ansonia hotel over on Broadway.

To describe the monument it largely resembles the famous Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens. This original Athens monument was created in approximately 355 B.C. and funded by a choregos (or public sponsor of theater) to award to the top performer. If you are familiar with the San Remo on Central Park West you may also recognize the shape and design as that situated atop each of its twin towers.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument


The rounded marble structure consists of twelve Corinthian pillars atop a large base and with a highly ornamented crown atop it. On this crown are a number of intricately carved eagles. Each of the pillars below contains the names of the New York regiments which fought in the Civl War and the battles they fought in.

Entrance to the interior of the monument is guarded via a large bronze door protected by a sculpted Gryffindor or monkey with wings. Visitors used to be able to enter the monument at all times but are now only open once annually at the Open house New York.


  • Website: http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/riversidepark/highlights/12871
  • Address: Intersection of Riverside Drive & West 89th Street (on the west side of Riverside Drive just inside of Riverside Park), New York City
  • Cost: Free

I Walked New York City's 15 Central Park West

The building at number 15 Central Park West is a 2007 addition to this area, making it one of the newest additions. It consists of two limestone towers situated one in front of the other. The shorter 20-story tower and taller 43-story tower, although appearing to be attached, are actually separated via a courtyard.

Apartments for this building currently run from about $6 million for a 2-bedroom to $55 million for a 5-bedroom. Amenities include a 75-foot swimming pool and 20-person theater. Tenants for this locale have included Alex Rodriguez, Sting, Bob Costas and Denzel Washington.

15 Central Park West


Prior to construction of this latest structure this site was formerly occupied by a 1926 Neo-Renaissance building known as the Mayflower Hotel. Movie buffs may have recalled this address from the 1994 film Wolf starring Jack Nicholson. The Mayflower was where Jack’s character, Will Randall, checked into after his job demotion.
The Mayflower was shut down and eventually demolished in 2004.


  • Website: http://www.15cpw.com/home.html
  • Address: 15 Central Park West, New York City, NY
  • Cost: Free.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Falconer Central Park New York City

Located just south of Strawberry Fields is a bronze sculpture perched atop a rocky cliff known as The Falconer. The male figure holds his right arm in a crook while his left arm extends for the graceful falcon with extended wings to land atop his fingers.

The Falconer was dedicated on May 31, 1875 after being commissioned by an Irish merchant who lived in New York City, George Kemp. Kemp commissioned British sculptor George Blackall Simonds to create a replica of a similar statue that Simonds had done that resided in Trieste, Italy. Simonds, an avid falconer himself, hailed from Reading, England where he was declared by the Reading Borough Library system as the winner of their 2005 ‘Great People of Reading’ poll. Simonds had this statue cast in Florence, Italy by Clemente Papi and a second replica was later cast to reside in Lynch Park (Beverly, Massachusetts).

The Falconer Central Park New York City


Despite its rather isolated location atop a series of rocks, the Falconer has been the subject of multiple incidents of vandalism and wear-and-tear over the years. In 1937, the sculpture was feared to possibly fall off its perch and had to be restabilized. Twenty years later in 1957, the sculpture was the victim of vandalism inclusive of its falcon being stolen. A replacement falcon was added that year. Then, in 1982, another falcon had to be recast along with The Falconer’s left arm for replacement. Since then, the statue has thankfully had a more peaceful existence in the park. The sculpture was most recently restored and cleaned in 1995.


  • Website: http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/things-to-see/south-end/the-falconer.html
  • Address: Central Park, New York City, NY (Mid-Park, South of 72nd Street)
  • Cost: Free

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Gates in Central Park New York City

When Central Park was being designed, much debate occurred as to the appearance of the entrances leading into and out of the park. A large series of proponents encouraged highly ornate gates such as those common to the grand parks of European cities like Paris and London. One vocal advocate for the European-style gates was the man who designed the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty, Richard M. Hunt. Hunt proposed ornate gates along the park’s southern edge that would lead into a landscaped plaza with a decorative fountain and curved stairway (similar to that of Bethesda Terrace).

Central Park designers Olmsted and Vaux fought the arguments for ornate gates and instead implemented a series of low sandstone walls. The walls would stand on each side of the park’s eighteen original entrances and be given a name descriptive of the city of New York and its citizens. Although many of the entrances would not carry their formal names etched into the walled entrances, this was rectified in the 1990s when the city added names to all park entrances.

Central Park Gates


The eighteen original gates that led into and out of Central Park (and their general location) were:


  1. Artisans’ Gate – Central Park South / Sixth Avenue
  2. Artists’ Gate – Central Park South / Seventh Avenue
  3. Boys’ Gate – Central Park West / W. 100th Street
  4. Childrens’ Gate – Fifth Avenue / E. 64th Street
  5. Engineers’ Gate – Fifth Avenue / E. 90th Street
  6. Farmers’ Gate – Central Park North / Malcolm X Boulevard
  7. Girls’ Gate – Fifth Avenue / E. 102nd Street
  8. The Gate of All Saints – Central Park West / W. 96th Street
  9. Hunters’ Gate – Central Park West / W. 81st Street
  10. Mariners’ Gate – Central Park West / W. 85th Street
  11. Merchants’ Gate – Columbus Circle
  12. Miners’ Gate – Fifth Avenue / E. 79th Street
  13. Pioneers’ Gate – Fifth Avenue / E. 110th Street
  14. Scholars’ Gate – Fifth Avenue / E. 60th Street
  15. Strangers’ Gate – Central Park West / W. 106th Street
  16. Warriors’ Gate – Central Park North / Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard
  17. Women’s Gate – Central Park West / W. 72nd Street
  18. Woodmen’s Gate – Fifth Avenue / E. 96th Street


Three later gates were added that were not named as per Vaux and Olmsted’s original naming convention. One of these is Naturalist Gate which is located near Central Park West and W. 77th Street. Another is the aptly named 76th Street Gate located along Fifth Avenue. This was a later addition by Park Commissioner Robert Moses who chose not to follow the proviso laid by Vaux and Olmsted in adhering to their naming convention. Lastly the Inventors’ Gate at Fifth Avenue and E. 72nd Street was oddly named Children’s Gate (one of the original names), and then later redubbed to its current name in the 1950s.


  • Website: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/02/nyregion/02GATE.html
  • Address: Central Park, New York City, NY
  • Cost: Free

Golf Courses in South Dakota and History of Dakota

Golf Courses in South Dakota

If you are looking for a golf course in south dakota, below are some of the best recommendations for you. Golf is very fun especially if the weather is very good

  1. Sutton Bay G. Cse., 
  2. The G.C. At Red Rock, Rapid City 
  3. Dakota Dunes C.C.
  4. Minnehaha C.C., Sioux Falls
  5. Hart Ranch G. Cse., Rapid City

History of Dakota

The Dakota was the vision of a developer by the name of Edward Clarke, founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. When Mr. Clarke expressed his interest and desire to construct a high-end luxury apartment as far north as 72nd Street in 1880, many mocked him and claimed the no one would want to live in the outskirts of New York City at the time. Reportedly these mocking jests included the comment, “he might as well build it in the Dakotas.” Clarke took the criticism in stride, however, and in response even named his new project, The Dakota.

The Dakota was designed by architect Henry J. Hardenberg, who was well known already for his designs of the Plaza Hotel located along the south side of Central Park and the original Waldorf-Astoria building. Construction began on the nine-story hotel on October 25, 1880 was completed almost four years later to the day (October 27). The completed structure was castle-like in appearance with walls that could have sustained a battering ram attack (seeing as they were built 28 inches thick). The façade is covered in a beige brick highlighted via darker stones around the corners and windows and features high gables. When the building opened in 1884 it featured 65 apartments of four to twenty rooms each, all of which were built to be unique and were rented immediately. In addition, one other element the newly unveiled Dakota contained was a stable. Ironically, the sales deed for the neighboring Langham (sold by the aforementioned Mr. Clarke) forbid one. This stable has since been transformed into a more modern stable which now houses parked cars.

Long considered the most prestigious address along Central Park West, the Dakota has obviously had its share of famous residents both past and present. Well known tenants have included the likes of Leonard Bernstein, Connie Chung, Paul Simon, John Madden, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland and Boris Karloff. Boris, who passed away in 1969, is said to still frequent the hotel as his ghost continues to appear on occasion.

The Dakota is known as having the strictest of all approval boards and has frequently rejected celebrity tenants. Gene Simmons of Kiss was rejected in the late 1970s as was Billy Joel in 1977. More recently Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas were politely turned away.

The Dakota has been a celebrity itself on a few occasions, making appearances in some major films. In 1968, it served as the home to Mia Farrow’s character in the film Rosemary’s Baby. In 2001, the Dakota also played a prominent role in the Cameron Crowe thriller starring Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz, Vanilla Sky.

Obviously, the most famous tenant to have lived and died here was former Beatle, John Lennon. John moved to the United States in 1971 and moved into a seven-floor apartment with his wife Yoko Ono (who still resides here). John and Yoko were known as protective parents who attempted to isolate themselves and five-year-old son, Sean. They, in fact, acquired a number of surrounding units from their apartment. In total they owned 2 units on the seventh floor and three others, primarily used for storage. One of these latter units sold in 2008 for $801,000.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I Walked Pomander Walk NYC

Pomander Walk NYC is a tiny private cooperative apartment complex that is unfortunately gated off, however, we are afforded a well worthwhile vantage from the street. This series of town houses is often described as a tiny Tudor village that is reminiscent of old London mews.

Pomander Walk NYC
Pomander Walk NYC
The two-story buildings are a true throwback with their mix of brick, stucco and half-timbering. They were conceptualized by developer Thomas Healy, who hired the firm of King & Campbell to recreate the homes within the early 20th century play, Pomander Walk NYC. In 1921 a series of twenty-seven buildings were built around a romantic courtyard accessible only by the gated entrances on both West 95th and West 94th. Now, Healy had really only meant these structures to be a temporary construction which he would later raze and construct a more economically advantageous hotel. However, Healy passed away in 1927 and fortunately for us, never had a chance to fulfill that desire.

Because of its unique charm the Tudor style block has been a popular destination sought for by many New Yorkers. In 2005 and 2006 a series of two-bedroom units sold for $610,000 and $725,000 each. While these apartments have some obvious time-preserved charm such as exterior dumbwaiters used for garbage, they have been documented as dark and tiny with tenants face challenges such as antiquated plumbing. In addition, to get out of owning a property within Pomander Walk NYC, individuals are also required to forfeit a 15 percent flip tax as part of the sale.
As mentioned before, however, these aspects have not deterred a long list of persons anxiously awaiting for the next moment that one of these properties goes on sale. One famous tenant who used to reside here for a period was none other than Humphrey Bogart.

Monday, May 15, 2017

I Walked National Gallery of art Washington, DC

The National Gallery of art Washington, DC is an art museum that features work from as early as the 13th Century up until the present. The Gallery grew so expansive at one point (with currently over 100,000 objects), that the collection had to be spread across two buildings. Since 1978 all work that pre-dates the 20th Century has been located within the West Building, while the East Building contains more modern art. Amongst the best known artists whose work is featured within the National Gallery of Art includes Degas, Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh. In addition, the only work by Leonardo DA Vinci physically located within the United States is located here. This work, titled Generva de’ Benci, depicts the famous 15th century aristocrat from Florence, Italy and was painted by DA Vinci around 1474.

National Gallery of art Washington
National Gallery of art Washington
The origins of the National Gallery of art Washington, DC  began in January 1937 when banker and philanthropist Andrew W. Mellon agreed to help finance a new art gallery in Washington D.C. Congress agreed to formally accept Mellon’s gift on his birthday just two months later (March 24) and construction began on the new facility in June. The museum would receive its largest gift of paintings and sculptures from Mellon himself, who would sadly pass away later that same year and never live to see the opening. Amongst the works within the Mellon’s collection was Raphael’s Alba Madonna, for which he was reportedly the first person to pay more than $1 million for such a painting.

The museum was formally dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on March 17, 1941. At its opening the museum consisted of 130 galleries, of which only five actually contained works of art.

The building was constructed in a Neoclassical style of Tennessee marble and in the designs of John Russell Pope (best known for his work on the Jefferson Memorial, and who also would not sadly live to see the building’s opening). At the time it was built the National Gallery consisted of the most marbles ever used within the construction of a single building. In fact, the amount of marble required was deemed so substantial that there was an insufficient amount of single-tone marble and thus multiple tones may be seen throughout the facade. The most noted features of the building are its eight Ionic columns which grace the front entrance along with its central domed rotunda.

For construction of the neighboring East Building in 1978, the original marble quarries used in the West Building were re-opened. The building from street-view appears as a large letter H but is actually shaped as a triangle. It was designed by architect I.M. Pei (best known for his pyramidal additions to the Louvre Museum in Paris) who was forced to create a similar triangular design based upon the allotted land for the project. The East Building was officially dedicated on June 1, 1978 by President Jimmy Carter.

Another addition to the museum was added just one year later, although this was a part of the building’s exterior. On May 23, 1999 a 6.1 acre sculpture garden was unveiled after having been planned for more than thirty years. Included within this garden (outside of the obvious statues) are a fountain and reflecting pool near the center. During the winter months, this pool is transformed into an ice skating rink for the public to enjoy. The Sculpture Garden’s hours vary slightly based upon time of the year, but typically align with the hours of the Museum itself, which is open Monday through Saturday 10 am 5 pm and Sunday 11 am 6 pm.

The National Gallery of art Washington, DC is open 363 days of the year (closed only on Christmas Day and New Years Day) and offers various tour options. Information on all available tours is available at the Art Information Desk near the front entrance, or you may also preview tour dates/times online at www.nga.gov. It is recommended that if you desire a guided tour that you plan in advance as times of tours do vary. Some sample guided tour options include the Introduction to the West Building Collection or a similar offering of the East Building Collection. Each of these tours is free. For self-guided tour options, visitors may listen to the Acoustiguide Audio Tour, which is also free and even includes a children’s version.

Prior to the construction of the National Gallery of art Washington, DC, this was the site of the Sixth Street rail station along the Baltimore & the Potomac (B&P) Railroad. It was at this station that the assassination of President James Garfield would occur on July 2, 1881.

  • Website: http://www.nga.gov/
  • Address: Intersection of 4th Street, NW and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
  • Cost: Free

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Site of “Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” in New York

Our interest in the address at 115 West 95th Street is not for its current resident, the Studio School, which moved here in 1971 from the Village. Our interest more lies in the former home, which resided here in 1897.
Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus

Stepping back a few years in the late 19th century, this area used to contain a long series of brownstones with red-brick. These houses actually ran from 111-121 West 95th Street and were designed by architect Charles T. Mott. In 1896, a family of three moved into the residence at 115. The family consisted of Dr. Philip F. O’Hanlon, his wife Laura, and their 8-year-old daughter, Virginia. The following year after they moved in, Virginia posed that dreaded question to her father, “Daddy is Santa Claus real?” Dr. O’Hanlon utilized his quick-witted parenting skills by deferring to the New York Sun and recommended his daughter send them a letter to inquire. In that letter published on September 21, the New York Sun posted a Virginia’s letter with a heartwarming response.

In her letter Virginia inquired, Dear Editor: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, If you see it in The Sun it so. Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

The response provided read, in part, was as follows, “Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see… Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist… Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It wailed as dreary if there were no Virginias… Not believe in Santa Claus! You as well not believe in fairies! No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

That famous response, although unsigned, was long believed to have been drafted by an editor named Francis P. Church. Based upon the overwhelming feedback from Sun readers, the letters were reprinted every year in the newspaper until 1950.

In regards to whatever happened to Virginia. She did continue to believe in Santa Claus and she shared her story countless times by re-reading the article to children. She went on to become a teacher herself before she passed away in 1971.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

IWalked New York City’s Sherry-Netherland Hotel

The Sherry-Netherland Hotel dates back to 1927 when it was built by the firm Schultze & Weaver (who also designed the infamous Waldorf=Astoria) in replacement of the then existing “old” Netherland hotel which had resided on this site since 1892. During its construction the 38-story building had a significant fire on the upper stories and just prior to its completion, it was acquired by the ice-cream and confectionery company of Louis Sherry, Inc. (From which it derived its name). When it opened, the Sherry-Netherland was the tallest hotel-apartment in all of New York City. In 1954 a majority of the apartments was converted into cooperative units.

Sherry-Netherland Hotel
Sherry-Netherland Hotel
The building’s amazing architecture may be described as Neo-Romanesque or Renaissance with elements of Gothic, such as the gargoyles atop its roof and griffins grasping bronze lanterns in their talons around the second floor. It features a marble base with dark brick exterior. Beginning around the 17th floor, the building begins a series of subtle setbacks that culminate into a single lean tower between the 24th and 38th floors (which each contain only one apartment per floor). Atop the 38th floor is a peaked tower covered in copper.

Equally extravagant to the building’s exterior is the main lobby. If you have an opportunity (and the time) to walk inside I highly recommend the experience. The lobby was modeled after the Vatican Library and actually contains some friezes from the former home of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Famous individuals whom have lived within the Sherry-Netherland at one point or another include both Diana Ross and Francis Ford Coppola.

Monday, April 17, 2017

New York City’s Former James Dean Apartment

Located on a side street just off on Central Park West is the former residence of one of the largest cultural icons of all-time—James Dean. In this rather nondescript limestone Rowhouse with bow fronts, Dean once lived in a single-room apartment on the top floor in 1954. The room was said to measure only 1212 feet and had a shared bathroom down the hall. Mind you, Dean lived here prior to moving on to Hollywood and becoming one of the biggest stars of all time.

James Dean Apartment
James Dean Apartment
Dean’s success was not immediate in Hollywood. He began his career in a Coca-Cola commercial where he was seen handing bottles of Coke two teenagers. During this time to subsidize his income, he was also working as a parking lot attendant at the CBS Studios lot.

Dean only appeared in three films during his career, all of which were leading roles. The first was East of Eden (1955), which was the only film actually released while he was alive. His most famous role followed East of Eden in Rebel Without A Cause where he played a rebellious teen named Jim Stark.

While filming his final film in 1956, The Swan, Dean was working with famous actor Alec Guinness, who utilized his Jedi-like powers to ultimately foresee Dean’s death. One day after Dean rode onto the set in his brand new Porsche 550 Spyder, Guinness was overheard warning Dean, “Get rid of that car, or you’ll be dead in a week.”

On September 30, 1955, Dean and a friend were taking his new Porsche to a race in Salinas, California. Seeing as his Porsche was still new, it technically did not qualify for participation in the race since it did have the required minimum mileage. Dean, hence, chose to drive the vehicle in the race himself to ensure the Porsche qualified. Along his route Dean was stopped for speeding at 3:30pm while traveling 65 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Approximately two hours later Dean was driving west along US Route 466 when he noticed a 1950 black and white Ford Custom Tudor coupe coming at him in his lane. Dean apparently turned to his passenger and commented, “That guy’s gotta stop… He’ll see us.” Unfortunately 23-year-old Donald Turnupseed did not see Dean’s vehicle and the two collided head-on.

Dean suffered massive internal injuries including a broken neck and was pronounced dead on arrival at 5:59 p.m. In regards to the individual in the oncoming vehicle, Mr. Turnupseed only maintained minor injuries and survived the impact. Mr. Turnupseed only spoke about the incident once after the accident when he was interviewed by a local newspaper. He refused to be interviewed or speak of the incident ever again after that.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Walking Tour to Bowling Green New York City

Walking Tour to Bowling Green New York City - Bowling Green was officially established as New York City’s first park in 1733, however, this space was a center of significant activity long before that. Its earliest origins date back to a period between 1638 and 1647 when it was used as a cattle market. In 1733 the land was leased by the city to three prominent landowners for the price of one peppercorn per year. The only stipulations attached to the city’s leasing were that the newly created park must add to the “beauty and ornament” of the city and include for “the delight of the Inhabitants of the city” a bowling green to allow Colonists to play a popular game at the time referred to as 9 pins.



In 1770 a statue of King George III was erected in the center of the green in honor of his decision to repeal the Stamp Act. The statue showed George in elegant Roman style robes in the vein of Marcus Aurelius astride his horse complete with laurel wreath atop his head. Further British symbolism was added to this park space in 1771 when it was bordered by a black cast iron fence with decorative crowns atop it.

These symbols honoring the British monarchy, however, were not to be tolerated as tensions arose surrounding the Revolutionary War. On July 9, 1766 following a reading of the recently signed Declaration of Independence near City Hall, the Sons of Liberty led a group of Colonists to the park to topple and destroy the statue of King George. Ropes were said to be attached to the statue to pull it to the ground whereby it was then literally hacked into pieces. The head of the statue was even reportedly attached to horse back and paraded through the city. The pieces of the statue were subsequently provided to the wife of the governor of Connecticut who proceeded to melt the statue into ammunition. Someone even had the presence to count the number of musket balls made from this statue which apparently numbered 42,088. Six pieces of the statue were preserved and may be viewed at the New York Historical Society.

The King George statue was not the only victim this day as Colonists further proceeded to hack off the tops of fence posts with the royal crowns atop them. Unfortunately, no one has a clear picture of what these finials looked like, but if you carefully inspect any one of the posts of the fence you can clearly see where the tops were removed.

Following the Revolution, there were numerous town houses build around the outskirts of Bowling Green. It remained largely residential until approximately 1850 when many of the residences began to be converted into commercial structures. In 1914 the landscape of the Green was significantly altered with the addition of a subway station. It was during this time that the bowling greens for which this space was initially designed were moved to Central Park. These greens are now located just north the Sheep Meadow near the West 69th entrance to the park.
The city finally removed the subway entrance from this site in 1978 and began a renovation of the space. This renovation included the addition of the fountain in the center, which was dedicated by philanthropist George Delacorte.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Free Walking Tours NYC : 55 Wall Street

Free Walking Tours NYC : 55 Wall Street - Shortly after the signing of the Buttonwood Agreement in 1793 the founders of the New York Stock Exchange decided they needed a more formal meeting space than the street - side. This first informal space was called Tontine’s Coffee House and was formerly located at this address.

The Tontine Coffee House was in every way a true coffee house as you would imagine it as people would literally sit around having their drinks and “making deals.” The coffee house remained a center of trade until 1817 when the exchange moved to a larger space on Wall Street.

55 Wall Street


The current building on this site is a Greek Revival structure that was erected in 1842 and is one of the three oldest buildings on Wall Street. This structure is often referred to as the Merchants Exchange Building after one of its former bank tenants. It was designed by a Boston architect by the name of Isaiah Rogers.

The original four-story structure designed by Rogers was actually the lower half of this building. It contained these monumental Ionic columns which were carved from single pieces of stone from a quarry in Massachusetts, floated via raft to New York and then hauled to this locale for installation via forty teams of oxen.

From 1862-1907 this building served as the US Customs House prior to moving to the Alexander Hamilton Customs House near Bowling Green. In 1907, the First National Bank (now a part of Citibank) hired the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White to, in essence, double the amount of space within this building. This renovation included the addition of the second level of columns, this time in a Corinthian style.

From 1998-2003, the Regent Wall Street Hotel was located here as one of the most luxurious hotels in the area. The hotel played a prominent part in the finale of the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate starring Denzel Washington.

Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/55_Wall_Street
Address: 55 Wall Street, New York City, NY
Cost: Free

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Village’s Patchin Place in New York City

Tiny enclaves within big cities will always have a place in our hearts and The Village’s Patchin Place is no exception. A small gated cul-de-sac near the intersection of Avenue of the Americas and West 10th Street, Patchin Place contains a series of ten three-story brick row houses. The homes were developed by a surveyor by the name of Aaron Patchin. It is often rumored that these homes were constructed to house workers from the nearby Brevoort Hotel (which was formerly located at 11 Fifth Avenue, just north of Washington Square). The fact that the Brevoort itself was not erected until 1855, however, contradicts this theory.

The Village’s Patchin Place in New York City
The Village’s Patchin Place in New York City
Patchin Place remained within the family until 1920 when Grace Patchin sold the buildings which were then converted into apartments shortly thereafter. A privacy fence was added to the street entrance in 1929. During the initial two decades when these properties were first converted to apartments, they quickly became a haven for writers who appreciated the space’s relative quiet nature. E. E. Cummings was the street’s most noted residents during this period.

The properties were once again acquired by new ownership in 1963. This owner intended on razing the buildings for construction of larger and/or more commercial properties. Historical activists rose to the challenge though, and ensured that this enclave was saved.

Today, this street is most commonly referred to as “Therapy Row.” Beginning in the 1990s, a number of psychotherapists began to move their offices here. As of 2003, 15 therapist offices occupied 50 of the available properties.

Patchin Place’s most noted charm is via its 19th century Gaslamp. It is only one of two remaining within the entire city of New York. Unfortunately, its gas power has long since been retired and the only light emitted from it today is solely powered via electricity.

Website: http://www.nyc-architecture.com/GV/GV030PatchinPlace.htm
Address: Patchin Place, New York City
Cost: Free

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Free Walking Tours NYC : William Tecumseh Sherman Statue

Free Walking Tours NYC : William Tecumseh Sherman Statue GrandArmyPlaza in New York City’s Central Park received its most iconic marker, the Sherman equestrian statue, on Memorial Day 1903. The sculpture features Sherman astride his horse with its right hoof slightly raised. The horse’s rear hoofs are orchestrated atop a series of Georgian pine, a subtle reference to the Sherman’s famed March to the Sea. Leading Sherman is a winged figure with a large palm frond in her left hand while her right arm is extended as if pointing the way to “Victory” for the General. The statue has been ornately covered in a gold leaf that adds to the sculpture’s brilliance. When the sculpture was being constructed, its designer Augustus Saint-Gaudens mandated that the work be covered in two layers of gold to ensure the statue maintained its skin and did not take on a “smoke stack” appearance.

Saint-Gaudens was commissioned to create the sculpture of Sherman in 1892 shortly after the General’s death the year prior. Already a noted artist for his creations of the Diana statue that formerly resided atop Madison Square Garden and the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial within the Boston Common, he was known for both his elegance and perfectionism that led to the works being unveiled a bit less timely than most artists. For instance, Saint-Gaudens spent fourteen years working on the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial before he deemed it complete. Fortunately park officials only had to wait eleven years for the unveiling of the Sherman statue.

To create a likeness of Sherman, Saint-Gaudens leveraged a prior bust he had created by the General in 1888. While sculpting the bust, Sherman posed for eighteen two-hour sessions for the artist to ensure he accurately captured the man’s image. During one, especially lengthy session, it was reported that Saint-Gaudens instructed Sherman to re-button his shirt collar which had become disheveled. Sherman retorted back to the artist that, “The General of the Army of the United States will wear his coat any damn way he pleases.”

Saint-Gaudens used another model as his inspiration for the image of the winged “Victory”. Harriette (“Hettie”) Eugenia Anderson was an African-American model whose image Saint-Gaudens also captured in his design of the Indian Head eagle coin that was minted between 1907 and 1916.

During his eleven years of laboring over the sculpture, Saint-Gaudens became ill and his presence at the unveiling was documented as being quite frail. Unfortunately the Sherman Memorial would be Saint-Gaudens’ last significant work as he passed away four years later in 1907.

Thanks in part to Saint-Gaudens’ obsessive request to ensure two layers of gold leaf on the Sherman Memorial, it maintained its glamour longer than many sculptures. By 1989, however, the statue had started to show signs of wear and tear and the monument was restored.

As to the man himself, Sherman was born William Tecumseh Sherman on February 8, 1820. His unique middle name has long been a source of speculation as to its derivation. Various accounts have been reported over the years. Sherman himself claimed his father suggested the name in honor of the great Shawnee leader who had attempted to unite the tribes in the Ohio Valley versus Americans encroaching on their lands. Other accounts, such as the one published in a 1932 biography, claim that Tecumseh was not even Sherman’s middle name but his first. The biography states that “William” was first given to him as a good Christian name later in life at the age of nine or ten by his then foster mother, Maria Ewing.

At the age of sixteen Sherman enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point. Although he would later be declared the first “modern” general and become recognized for his efforts in ending the Civil War, Sherman was not always considered prime cadet material. Sherman recalled, “At the Academy (West Point) I was not considered a good soldier, for at no time was I selected for any office, but remained a private throughout the whole four years.”

William Tecumseh Sherman Statue
William Tecumseh Sherman Statue
Sherman proved his worth over the course of the Civil War, though in key battles such as Bull Run and Shiloh. His tenacity made him a natural leader that led others to follow. His resolve was demonstrated for instance, in the Battle of Shiloh where, despite having three horses shot out from under him and being wounded on two separate occasions (in the hand and shoulder), he continued his pursuit of the enemy. Sherman’s success would lead him to being promoted to major general in 1862.

Perhaps Sherman’s most noted encounter during the Civil War was his infamous March to the Sea in November 1864. After capturing the city of Atlanta for the Union army his troops set fire to the city. Sherman later stated that he never intended for the complete destruction of Atlanta as occurred, since he only instructed his troops to burn munitions factories and other resources of the Confederate army. By the time all was said and done, though, Sherman and his troops had left a trail of destruction that measured sixty miles between Atlanta and Savannah. Although criticized as being inhumane by some, the tactics used had the effect of requiring Confederate troops to scatter and led to their surrender shortly thereafter.

Upon conclusion of the war, Sherman retired to a townhouse on West 71st Street in New York City. He would often spend his time in retirement riding his horse in Central Park. When not riding, Sherman also began work on his personal Memoirs which were published in 1875. These Memoirs are considered one of the best historical accounts of the Civil War. Accepting an invite to share his personal accounts to the graduate class of the Michigan Military Academy in 1879, Sherman explained to students that “War is hell.” His usage of the phrase is the first documented account of an expression that would grace many a politician and soldier’s lips in the years to come. Sherman remained in New York City for the remainder of his days. The general passed away at the age of seventy-one in 1891.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Walking Tours NYC : Museum Of Arts And Design

Walking Tours NYC - The Museum of Arts and Design moved to this location in 2008. It was begun in 1956 by Aileen Osborn Webb and since then has undergone a series of name changes including the Museum of Contemporary Craft and the American Crafts Museum before settling on its most recent selection. The Museum hosts four floors of exhibits across 54,000 square feet and is open Tuesday through Sunday 11am-6pm and Thursdays 11am-9pm. Admission is $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.

Now the Museum of Arts and Design is a nice little museum, but what I really wanted to explore on this site is the history of the buildings which previously and currently reside here. The earliest structure was actually a brownstone with mansard roof hotel called the Pabst Grand Circle Hotel which made its home here from 1874-1960. It was the hotel’s replacement where our interest lies.

Museum Of Arts And Design
Museum Of Arts And Design


In 1964 “The Lollipop Building” was erected in its place—a name given via a scathing review of its architectural styles. This modernist structure was built to house the art collection for Huntington Hartford, the heir to the A&P Supermarkets, who decorated the auditorium in the colors of his supermarkets (red and orange) which they still remain to this day. The building was most recognized for its 12-story white marble façade with round holes perforating its south side. It was designed by Edward Durell Stone, who also was responsible for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

What was interesting about this building was the love-hate relationship the city had with it. Despite its continued mocking in the press, a significant preservation effort was started up when rumors of alterations to the structure began in 2003. The New York City Landmarks Commission, however, refused to provide a public hearing on behalf of the building and in 2008 alterations to the exterior began. The result is the current 22,000 glazed tile structure.
A lot was made about why a hearing never occurred, but to understand the decision you really need go no further than the numbers. The Landmarks Commission reportedly receives approximately 8000 applications a year for review and this number continues to grow every year.



These applications may range from the most minor of modifications such as a door or window to complete renovations or replacements. So, on one hand you have a significant workload which is not equally balanced by their budget, which is said to be the smallest of any agency. So, with that background, it hopefully provides a bit of perspective when you hear about any sort of call to action by local preservationists.

  • Website: http://www.madmuseum.org/
  • Address: 2 Columbus Circle, New York City, NY
  • Cost: Adults $15; Senior and Student $12
  • Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11am-6pm; Thursday 11am-9pm

Free Walking Tours NYC : Lincoln Center For The Performing Arts

Free Walking Tours NYC Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a 15-acre complex of building home to New York’s Opera, Ballet, Philharmonic Orchestra and much more. In the 1950s and 1960s this area was a seventeen block neighborhood of brick tenement home to many Puerto Rican immigrants and known as San Juan Hill. Their tale became largely famous through the 1957 Broadway hit, West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. Just four years later when filming began for the Hollywood interpretation of the musical, directors would have to find new locales to replicate San Juan Hill as it had been completely razed for redevelopment.

Lincoln Center For The Performing Arts
Lincoln Center For The Performing Arts
Efforts had already begun in the 1950s to replace the dreary tenements with a new center for culture. The first significant barrier, however, was in obtaining rights to the proposed site. This was accomplished via eminent domain when the city seized the properties as part its urban renewal plans. These plans called for the relocation of the existing 7,000 residents within the neighborhood, a large portion of which never saw these promises come to fruition.

Lincoln Center was officially approved for construction in 1956 and President Eisenhower broke ground for the facility in May 1959. To help fund the $184.5 million project, John D. Rockefeller III actually contributed one-half of the funds from his own pocket.

As to the derivation of the name Lincoln Center, no one is really certain as to where it came from. It is largely believed to be a tribute to Abraham Lincoln but no validation of this exists within city records. The name for the area can actually be traced back to 1906 via records from the New York City Board of Alderman (equivalent to the city council). It is believed by some that this apparent omission may be partly driven by the fact that then New York mayor, George B. McClellan Jr., refused acknowledgement of the former President. McClellan Jr’s father had been a major general in the Union Army during the Civil War who had had numerous disputes with Lincoln. McClellan’s disdain for Lincoln even went so far as to run versus him for the Presidency in 1864.

In regards to the current complex, the Avery Fisher Hall was completed in 1962 and followed by the David H. Koch Theatre in 1964 and then the Metropolitan Opera House. The centerpiece of the plaza consists of a fountain by Philip Johnson and a sculpture titled The Reclining Figure by Henry Moore

  • Website: http://new.lincolncenter.org/live/
  • Address: 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York City, NY
  • Cost: Free to enjoy the plaza.