• In one episode of Mad Men (I miss it so), at some point in the story after our handsome ad man had left his family, Don Draper got in a taxi to go home and directed the driver to drop him off near Waverly Place and 6th Avenue. Surveying the intersection, I like to imagine that Draper lived above the Waverly Restaurant, a favorite diner at the northwest corner. We remember the diner with its several cozy red booths and ferns and black and white pictures of shaggy-looking celebrities from the 70s, many now forgotten, lining the room. The Waverly is closed now for an extensive remodeling and expansion. When it returns, I hope to at least see the eggs served up once again in a skillet.
• A walk along the beautiful block of W. 10th between Fifth and Sixth Avenues uncovers many historic sites. A round blue plaque on the front of 18 W. 10th indicates this house was once home to poet Emma Lazarus (1849-1887). A native New Yorker born to wealthy parents, Lazarus raised the conscience of her fellow citizens about the trials of Russian Jewish immigrants and the oppressive pogroms of their native country. Her earliest poems brought admiration from Ralph Waldo Emerson and later from fellow Washington Square Park resident, Henry James. A later collection of poems, "Songs of a Semite" (1882), marked her shift to political activism, specifically a rally for Zionism. Lazarus died at an early age of 38, yet a fraction of her verse could not have gained greater immortality.
Words from her poem "The New Colossus" (1883) are engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty. The "Mother of Exiles" calls out to the immigrants -
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.