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.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Boston’s King’s Chapel Burying Ground

King’s Chapel Burying Ground is the oldest cemetery in the city of Boston. It was established in 1630 when Sir Isaac Johnson sold the land on which he formerly maintained his vegetable garden to create the city’s first burial ground. It is said that Mr. Johnson was the first individual buried here. For almost thirty years, it remained the only burial ground in Boston until 1659 when Copp’s Hill Burying Ground was established in the North End. It is not known exactly how many individuals were buried here between the years 1630 and 1896, however, it is known to be well over a thousand. It’s estimated that for every one of the 500-600 headstones still in existence that ten to twenty burials occurred.

King’s Chapel Burying Ground
King’s Chapel Burying Ground

King’s Chapel is reported to be one of the most haunted locales in all of Boston. Legends tell of an individual once buried alive here. By the time suspicions were raised and the body dug up, the person was already dead—whether before or after having been buried it is uncertain. Another ghastly tale speaks of a person whose head had to be chopped off in order to fit within their undersized coffin. And last but not least, Captain Kidd has even been rumored to be buried within this graveyard. This would appear highly unlikely, though, as he was hung in London after being convicted of piracy.

While taking a stroll throughout King’s Chapel Burying Ground, you may find:

  1. The ornately carved gravestone of one Joseph Tapping.

  2. The grave marker which supposedly was the inspiration for The Scarlet Letter.

  3. A grave belongs to “the other” Midnight Rider.

  4. The oldest extant grave within the cemetery.

  5. The final resting place for the 1st woman to step off the Mayflower.

  6. The grave for the 1st governor of Massachusetts.

During your explorations if you really wish to experience what death may smell like, we encourage you to stick your nose up close to the wrought iron structure situated in the southwest corner of the yard. This is a structure which seems to attract and puzzle many visitors in the graveyard. This is actually a ventilation shaft for the nearby Park Street Station, which was erected in 1896.

Iwalked Boston’S Howard Athenaeum

I Walked Boston’S Howard Athenaeum - Within the brick plaza space atop the stairs of 1 Center Plaza is a plaque honoring Boston’s former favorite sailor haunts, “The Old Howard.” The Howard Athenaeum, or more commonly referred to as just the Old Howard, was known for its slogan of “Always something doing at the Old Howard.” In addition to its infamous burlesque shows, the Old Howard also showcased the top talent of the day including Abbott and Costello, The Marx Brothers and Rocky Marciano (who fought a series sparring matches here over a 1 week period in 1951).

During these popular shows one common staple which could be found was the bald-headed section in front. Thomas Edison reportedly commented as such in his diary when he was quoted as, “our seats were in the bald-headed section.”

Howard Athenaeum
Howard Athenaeum

The downfall of the Old Howard occurred in 1953 when the Boston Vice Squad captured a dancer by the name of Mary Good Neighbor stripping on 16mm film. The theatre was forced to close and the numerous efforts to re-open the theatre were finally exhausted when the building burnt down in 1961.

The plaque here to commemorate and remember the Old Howard was dedicated in 1968 by a group which included a songwriter by the name of Francis W. Hatch, who also wrote a song regarding the former burlesque called, “Some Coward Closed the Old Howard.”

  • Website:
  • Address: 1 Center Plaza, Boston, MA (Address is approximate)
  • Cost: Free

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.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Iwalked Washington D.C.’S Cutts-Madison House

I walked Washington D.C.’S Cutts-Madison House - The yellow Colonial-style home at the intersection of H Street, NW and Madison Place, NW is named for two of its former owners and recognized as the Cutts-Madison House. The building was constructed in 1820 for the Comptroller of the Treasury named Richard Cutts. He actually built the house himself for which he and his wife, Anna Payne Cutts (the younger sister of Dolley Madison). The building was the first to be constructed along the eastern edge of Lafayette Square and originally featured two stories covered in grey stucco. The building’s original entrance also formerly faced Lafayette Square, although it has since been replaced by a bay window.

Cutts-Madison House
Cutts-Madison House

The Cutts family ran into financial hardship in 1828 and the building’s mortgage was acquired by former President James Madison for the sum of $5,750. James lived here with his wife Dolley until his death in 1836. James’ death, along with supporting a son with extravagant habits from a former marriage (John Payne Todd), left Dolley in a financially unstable position. She moved out of the family’s mansion at Montpelier and moved into this residence to attempt to reduce her expenses. She made one final valiant attempt to save her beloved Montpelier when she returned for a brief period during 1839 to 1843 and rented out her Madison Place residence. Unfortunately the additional income was insufficient to save Montpelier and she was forced to sell the property and return to the Cutts-Madison House in 1843. She would live the remainder of her days here until her death in July 1849. A historical plaque recognizing the famous former tenants of this building resides along it’s H Street, NW side. One interesting fact of note regarding the plaque is that Mrs. Madison’s name is misspelled as she actually spelled her name Dolley—not Dolly.

Upon Dolley’s passing the residence passed to her sole surviving child, John, although it appears someone forgot to inform Dolley that the property had passed onto new owners. For a number of years after her death many passersby of this home would claim to see her ghostly image sitting on the porch as she loved to do in her later years.
Officially the property would pass into the ownership of Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes, who purchased the home from John in April 1851. Wilkes is best recognized as having led an exploring expedition within the South Seas from 1838-1842. He would reside here with his family for a period dating 1851 to 1886. During this time Wilkes did make one significant change in the structure when he had the original gable roof removed and replaced it with the current flat roof which you see today.

The next official tenant to move into the famed Cutts-Madison House would be the Cosmos Club, which acquired the building from Wilkes in 1886 for $40,000. The Cosmos Club is a private social club that was founded in 1878 by John Wesley Powell with the stated objective of, “The advancement of its members in science, literature and art.” The Cosmos Club, during its tenancy which lasted until 1952, made a number of additional alterations to the building including raising the roof for the addition of a full third story. The Cosmos Club would vacate the property in 1952 when it moved to its current home and headquarters within the Townsend Mansion(located at 2121 Massachusetts Avenue, NW).

In the ensuing years a handful of government agencies would call the Cutts-Madison House home. The National Science Foundation operated out of here for a handful of years during 1952 to 1958. After this, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) actually held offices here until 1964. Today, the Cutts-Madison is part of a complex of buildings that are a part of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In addition to the Cutts-Madison House this complex includes the neighboring Cosmos Club Building, the Benjamin Ogle Tayloe House and the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building.

Iwalked Boston’S Public Garden Good Will Hunting Bench

I Walked Boston’S Public Garden Good Will Hunting Bench - Thousands of people come to Boston’s Public Garden every year attempting to relive or recreate the infamous “bench” scene from the 1997 movie starring Robin Williams and Matt Damon, Good Will Hunting. If YOU wish to sit upon a former movie proper what you need to do descends down the stairs from the lagoon bridge before crossing over it (on the south side of the lagoon). Walk along the path beside the water and look for the third backless bench on the left.

Public Garden Good Will Hunting Bench
Public Garden Good Will Hunting Bench
In the movie scene Robin Williams character, Sean, provides Matt Damon (I. e. -Will) with some sound advice on love. This part you may already know. What you may NOT have noticed is that just prior to the 2 characters venturing to this particular point, Will invites Sean to take a “quick” walk from the classroom. Now, the classroom where Will instructs is portrayed at Bunker Hill Community College. While for some people a 45 minute walk from Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown in the Boston Public Garden may be a short leisurely stroll, I’m not certain that this is quite what the directors had in mind.

  • Website:
  • Address: Boston Public Garden, Boston, MA
  • Cost: Free

Winter Hill Gang Headquarters, Boston

I Walked Boston’S Winter Hill Gang Headquarters - Situated in a parking garage along Lancaster Street in Boston resides what was once the headquarters of Irish organized crime syndicate, the Winter Hill Gang and their former leader James “Whitey” Bulger. The Winter Hill Gang is said to be the basis for the 2006 Martin Scorsese film, The Departed.

The Winter Hill Gang was most noted for having fixed horse races along the East Coast. That is until 1979 when an Atlantic City jockey provided police with evidence necessary to indict members of the Irish crime syndicate. This indictment included Howie Winter himself, and left a vacancy at the top. Not arrested for the crime due to his existing relationship as an informant within the FBI and paving the way for his claim at the top was “Whitey” Bulger.

Bulger obtained his early “career” experience at the age of 14 through larceny and robbing banks for which he spent a number of years in various jails, including the infamous Alcatraz. Known for his platinum blond hair in his younger years it led to him earning the nickname “Whitey.”

When Bulger took over the reigns of the Winter Hill Gang he moved their headquarters to the Lancaster Foreign Car Service parking garage at 131 Lancaster Street. Almost every day around 1:30pm Bulger arrived at this location in his 1979 Chevy Caprice and got down to business.

Winter Hill Gang Headquarters
Winter Hill Gang Headquarters
Under Bulger’s leadership, the Winter Hill Gang re-focused their business model to stay out of activities like race fixing which could be directly traced back to them. Instead they instituted a pyramid scheme of sorts whereby they charged local criminals a “fee” to stay in business. Fail to pay once, it’s a broken bone. Fail twice, well you didn’t. Per the FBI, 18-19 murders have been directly linked to Bulger although for much of this time they turned the other way.

The reason for this was that, as mentioned earlier, Bulger had a “working” relationship with some members of the FBI where he acted as an informant, primarily versus his arch enemies the Italian Mafia. FBI supporters who often tipped off Whitey of any ongoing investigations claimed that information from Bulger helped lead to the eventual arrest of Jerry Angiulo, the head of the Italian Mafia at nearby 99 Prince Street in Boston’s North End. Others in the FBI were less optimistic as to the quality of information provided.

Bulger’s biggest supporter in the FBI was a childhood friend by the name of John Connolly. The tale of how these 2 individuals met is now one of lore. It seems that when Whitey was 19 years old he walked into an ice-cream shop and offered to buy ice cream for three 8-year-old boys in the shop. Only one boy refused stating that his parents had taught him not to accept gifts from strangers. Whitey supposedly looked the kid in the eye and told him, “Hey kid, I’m not stranger. Your mother and father are from Ireland. My mother and father are from Ireland. What kind of ice cream do you want?” The kid grinned and responded, “Vanilla.” That kid was, of course, John Connolly.

Connolly’s relationship with Bulger, long in question, finally came to a head in 1995 when an indictment for Bulger was released. However, when police went to go arrest Whitey he had disappeared with his long-time girlfriend Teresa Stanley. It was figured that Connolly was likely the one who tipped him off. In 1999 Connolly was arrested for obstruction of justice amongst other things and was sentenced to 8-10 years.

In regards to our man on the run, Bulger returned to Boston only one time just a month after eluding police. This stop was supposedly to drop off his girlfriend Teresa Stanley, who had determined that she wasn’t made for life on the run. Whitey, in exchange, dropped her off and picked up another long-term girlfriend Catherine Greig and this time did not return.

Since his disappearance in 1995, Bulger has reported been seen in New York, California, Wyoming, Louisiana, Mississippi and Europe. It’s said while on the run he had used such aliases as Tom Harris, Tom Marshall, Thomas F. Baxter, Mark Shapeton, Jimmy Bulger, James Joseph Bulger, James J. Bulger Jr., James Joseph Bulger, Jr., and “Whitey.” In reference to some of the latter aliases, one has to question how some of these aliases have gone undetected.

Whitey has been on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List since 1999 and is second only to Osama Bin Laden. His tale had been told on America’s Most Wanted 14 times from 1995 to present and the FBI is currently offering a $2 million award leading to his arrest.

Update: Whitey Bulger was arrested on June 22, 2011 in Santa Monica, CA after having been on the run for approximately 16 years.

I walked Boston’S Ally Mcbeal Building

I walked Boston’S Ally Mcbeal Building - The Congregational Library and Archives are administered here. What is that you say? It is a library of religious and New England history that includes a ledger detailing Benjamin Franklin’s baptism. The library is a not for profit organization that originated in 1853 “for the purpose of establishing and perpetuating a library of religious history and literature of New England, and for the erection of a suitable building for the accommodation of the same, and for the use of charitable societies. It began with an initial donation of 56 books and has since expanded to some 225,000 volumes.

Ally Mcbeal Building
Ally Mcbeal Building
This building in which the library is situated dates back to 1898 and contains four bas-relief sculptures on its front façade by Spanish artist Domingo Mora that depict significant events in Boston history. If you inspect the four bas-reliefs from left to right, the events are:

  • John Eliot (“The Indian Apostle”), a Puritan missionary, preaching to the Indians
    The founding of Harvard College

  • A celebration of the 1st Sabbath on Clark’s Island. This is where the Pilgrims actually landed before Plymouth Rock.

  • The signing of the Mayflower Compact. This was the first governing document of the Plymouth Colony.

The building is more popularly known as the former offices of Ally McBeal, the FOX television series which ran from 1997 to 2002. The 7th floor offices of Cage & Fish have maintained a legal presence in that they now house the National Lesbian & Gay Law Association.

  • Website:
  • Address: 14 Beacon Street, Boston, MA
  • Cost: Free.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Top 10 Things To Do With Kids in Boston

Summer is almost upon us and that means… family vacations! As all of the Clark Griswald’s of the world gather up their regrets to share with their families the largest balls of mud across the U.S., we here at I Walked decided to try and help you find some more worthwhile destinations here in our hometown of Boston. Traveling with families can be expensive, and entertaining the little ones can be a bit of a hassle unless you have a good tour guide—like us! Thus, I Walked Audio Tours proudly presents our Top 10 Things To Do With Kids in Boston:

Top 10 Things To Do With Kids in Boston

1. Children’s Museum

Well, duh! The second oldest Children’s Museum in the United States. Afterwards, grab some ice cream at the Hood Milk Bottle ice cream stand situated outside the front entrance.
Address: 308 Congress Street, Boston. (617) 426-6500
Hours: Sat-Thur 10am-5pm; Fri 10am-9pm
Cost: Adults, Children and Seniors $12; Children under 1 are free.

2. New England Aquarium

Kids will love the 200,000 gallon central tank you can walk around all the way to the top. If price is an issue at least check out the harbor seals outside of the aquarium within a glass case for some free entertainment.
Address/Phone: 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA. (617) 973-5206
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm; Sat-Sun 9am-6pm. Summer hours (Jul 1- Sept 3) are typically extended 1 hour.
Cost: $22.95 Adult and $15.95 Children (Ages 3-11)

3. Public Gardens

Take a leisurely ride on the Swan Boats and let your kids sit on the Make Way For Ducklings statues. Better yet, bring a blanket and have a picnic and enjoy the picturesque scenery (or the parents can at least while the kids run around screaming).
Address/Phone: Bordered by Beacon Street (north), Charles Street (east), Boylston Street (south) and Arlington Street (west), Boston. (617) 635-4505
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Cost: Free!

4. Museum of Science

Kids can interact with numerous exhibits and stare in awe at the life-sized T-Rez or Tryceratops. The domed Omni theater is a trip for older kids (younger ones may get scared). Also take part in the Community Solar System (, a little known treasure hunt of planets throughout the city!
Address/Phone: 1 Science Park, Boston. (617) 723-2500
Hours: Sat-Thu 9am-5pm; Fri 9am-9pm. Hours are extended Sat-Thur during summer months (Jul 5-Labor Day) by 2 hours.
Cost: Exhibit Halls: Adults $22, Seniors $20, Children $19. Omni theatre and planetarium are extra.

5. Boston Duck Tours

A bit expensive, but kids does get to drive these giant land-water vehicles! Don’t worry parents… only when you’re in the water and there’s nothing they can hit.
Address/Phone: Departures exist in 3 locations. (1) The Museum of Science at 1 Science Park, Boston, MA. (2) The Prudential Center in Boston’s Back Bay at 53 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA. (3) New England Aquarium at 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA. (617) 267-DUCK.
Hours: 9am-Sunset with departures every 30-60 minutes (from the Museum of Science and Prudential Center). 3pm-8:30pm from the New England Aquarium. (Note: This is a seasonal tour typically offered beginning in March and ending in November.)
Cost: $28.99-$32.99 Adults and $19-$22 Children (Ages 3-11)

6. Fenway Park

A family tradition. Need I say more? Tours are obviously more affordable, but if you can swing tickets to a game, it is a must to experience.
Address/Phone: 4 Yawkey Way, Boston. (617) 226-6666
Hours: Mon-Sun 9am-5pm. On game days the last tour is offered 3 hours prior to game time.
Cost: Tours: Adults $16; Seniors $14; Children (3-15) $12. Game ticket prices will vary.

7. Quincy Market / Faneuil Hall

Top touristy area with more than 18 million visitors annually (more than Disneyland). Lots of shops, restaurants and area to run. Watch street performers (each of whom is required to audition).
Address/Phone: 1 Faneuil Square Boston. (617) 523-1300
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-9pm; Sun 11am-6pm. Individual restaurant hours may vary.
Cost: Free to people watch. Shopping and food are obviously at your own discretion.

8. Frog Pond at Boston Common

During the summer the pond is a free wading pool for kids. By winter, a beautiful skating rink. And if you really want to gross out the kids tell them about how this used to be the site a cow pond (evil laugh).
Address/Phone: Intersection of Beacon Street and Walnut Street, Boston. (617) 635-2120
Hours: Check website for details.
Cost: Free summer wading pool. Skating admission in the winter is $5 for adults and free for children under 13. Skate rental is extra.

9. Franklin Park Zoo

Kids love animals! Of all of the local zoos this one is by far the best. Nearby Drumlin Farms are also fun, but you need a car.
Address/Phone: 1 Franklin Park Road, Boston. (617) 541-5466
Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun 10am-6pm. The zoo closes at 4pm during winter months (Oct 1-Mar 31).
Cost: Adults $17; Seniors $14; Children (2-12) $11; Children under 2 are free

10. Christopher Columbus Park

Near the waterfront and the North End, this is probably one of the best maintained children’s play areas.
Address/Phone: Intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Richmond Street, Boston. (617) 635-4505
Hours: Dawn to Dusk.
Cost: Free!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The tributary statue to Marquis de Lafayette in Washington DC

The tributary statue of Marquis de Lafayette within his namesake Washington D.C. Square, resides on the southeast corner of the park. The sculpture was erected in 1891 and designed by two French sculptors, Jean Alexandre Joseph Faulguiere and Marius Jean Antonin Marcie. The ten-foot bronze impression of Lafayette stands atop a fifteen-foot white marble base. In the sculpture, Lafayette is said to be addressing the French National Assembly to plea for their assistance in America’s war of independence. Lafayette is dressed casually in civilian clothing to signify him as a man of the people. Draped over his left arm is a cape or cloak of some sort.

Marquis de Lafayette in Washington DC
Marquis de Lafayette in Washington DC

Lafayette’s likeliness originally faced the White House and was placed between it and the centerpiece of Lafayette Square, an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson. The statue did not remain there long, however, as the White House complained that it blocked their view of Jackson and the sculpture of Lafayette was subsequently moved to its current locale.

Along all four sides of the square base of the Lafayette statue are a series of added bronze sculptures. On the front side of the monument (south side) is a bare-breasted figure representing America offers up a sword to Lafayette. Working our way around the statue clockwise, on Lafayette’s left (east side) are two figures said to represent Comte d’Estaing and the Comte de Grasse of the French navy who came to aid in America’s cause as per Lafayette’s plea. Along the back side is inscribed a personal thank you to Lafayette for his services in the American Revolution as drafted by Congress. Lastly, along Lafayette’s right (west side) are two French army commanders, Comte de Rochambeau and Chevalier du Portail who also answered to Lafayette’s call for French assistance.

Lafayette is best known for leading his troops to victory at the Siege of Yorktown at which the infamous British General Charles Cornwallis finally surrendered in 1781, thereby virtually ending the Revolutionary War.

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.

Address: 55 Wall Street, New York City, NY
Cost: Free

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Iwalked Washington D.C.’S Carousel On The Mall

Washington D.C.’S Carousel On The Mall Located just outside of the Arts and Industries Building is a carousel that has amused children since it was first moved here in 1967. The existing carousel actually pre-dates the placement of a carousel on this site by exactly twenty years (1947). This current carousel was built by the popular Allan Hershell Company, a company that specialized in construction of amusement park rides and carousels for years, and was originally located at the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Woodlawn, MD. It consists of four rows of wooden and metal figures that children may mount and ride for three joy-filled minutes. Amongst the selection of readable figures includes some fifty-seven horses, one dragon, two chariots and one spinning tub.

The idea of placement of a carousel on the Mall was first proposed by the eighth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, S. Dillon Ripley (a position he served for twenty years during the period 1964-1984). Ripley’s idea was initially chastised because it was feared that by starting to put children’s rides on the grounds of the Mall, it would start a trend that may transpire into a full blown amusement park. Ripley calmed fears, however, and was successful in planting a carousel on the grounds in the spring of 1967.

Carousel On The Mall
Carousel On The Mall
The original carousel acquired by Ripley included thirty-three horses. Its a most charming feature, though, was the inclusion of an actual Wurlitzer pipe organ that played while children rode aboard it. This carousel was replaced by the current one in front of you in 1975.

The Smithsonian Carousel on the Mall is open for rides all year round. During the period of March 1 to September 6 it is open during the hours of 6:10am-5:30pm. From September 7 to February 28 an abridged schedule of 11am-5pm exists. As of early 2012 rides currently cost $3.50 for each child, and children under four must be accompanied by an adult.

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.

Address: Patchin Place, New York City
Cost: Free