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Showing posts from 2016

25 Great Buildings to Visit in New York City

Great buildings are not just well-designed and functional. They make us feel something. They become indelible presences in our personal memories and in our shared history, the sites of important maters big and small. 25 Great Buildings in New York City The following list of 25 great NYC buildings should not veer too much from expectations. Most of them would rank high on a list of popular tourist attractions in the city. Three of the buildings are part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art - the main building on 5th Avenue, the Met Breuer (former home of the Whitney Museum of American Art, now in a new building also on the list), and The Cloisters. Some buildings made this list, by and large, for the activity that goes on inside. Great buildings stand as symbols of the times in which they were built and convey lessons to the present. We have lost great buildings, too, and we miss them. When a favorite building or place is altered in any way, renovated or remodeled or left to dec

For the Wayfarer, Finding Your Way with the WalkNYC Kiosks

What is that tall flat silver metal object that has suddenly appeared near my subway stop? It wasn't there last week, was it? A WalkNYC kiosk on Broadway in Inwood, facing north It looks like that black monolith in the movie 2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), the one that appears at the dawn of time prompting primates to learn how to use tools, that was "deliberately buried" in the lunar crater, and last and awesomely, at the foot of HAL-survivor Dave Bowman's bed while he's orbiting Jupiter.  Waiting for the BxM1 bus in Inwood, a few neighbors approached the new thing timidly and studied it for signs, as maybe it would impart similar evolutionary lessons. This monolith-shaped kiosk appears to have a walking map. And another one, slightly different, appears on the other side, too. Ah, that's for the other direction. Indeed, the monolith is less extraterrestrial sign than signage from the city. The kiosk is one of many erected by the NYC Department of T

From the Atrium to the Oculus: 5 Places to Look Up in Lower Manhattan

Look up. This stroll in Lower Manhattan involves stopping to look up at soaring places way up high, something visitors in New York City are often told to never do. In less than two hours, you will see vestiges of old New York and emblems of the new New York and how contemporary New York interprets the past.   South arcade, the Municipal Building Municipal Building . The walk begins at the governmental center of New York City, the David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building. The Municipal Building (1909-1914) was the first skyscraper designed by the famous firm of McKim, Mead & White, and it was designed to inspire civic pride. If arriving by subway, locate the signs for the Municipal Hall exit. On street level, take a look at the central Roman arch, inspired by the Arch of Constantine in Rome, and the Guastavino ceiling tiles in the south arcade of the landmark building. Walk over to the corner of Beekman and Nassau Streets and look for the new Beekman Hotel. Alon

At Wave Hill, the Grace of Trees

Around the time of Thanksgiving Day in New York City, the trees are preparing for winter. While people gather around the table to enjoy nature's bounty, the deciduous trees are shoring up reserves of water and energy. In the places where their leaves break off, the trees grow protective layers of cells. Some trees lose leaves at other times, too, as in conditions of drought or other stresses. The woody coniferous trees, on the other hand, manage to keep their waxy leaves through the deep, dark winter. Are you a maple or a pine? Wave Hill, a public garden in the Bronx, is a good place to contemplate the lives of trees. Yes. I have actually asked, "What kind of tree are you?" Around the sides and back of the sprawling garden, with exceptional views of the Hudson River and the Palisades, trails lead to both conifers and woodland. Happy Thanksgiving from Walking Off the Big Apple. Website for Wave Hill Images by Walking Off the

Two Sundays in New York: Before and After the Election

On Sunday, November 6, on a bright clear autumn day, more than 50,000 runners dashed across all five boroughs to compete in the New York City Marathon. In fact, on initial count, 51,388 people crossed the finish line in Central Park, appearing to make the race the biggest ever.* On the last leg of the race, the marathoners ran west on Central Park South. Just before Columbus Circle, at the Maine Monument, they turned north into Central Park to complete the journey. Friends and family, along with thousands of race watchers, waited for them in the area near the circle. Many solitary runners ended up in various parts of the park or on the streets of the Upper West Side or in the Time Warner Center to do whatever they needed to do to recover from running 26.219 miles. A handful of runners had the wherewithal to go grocery shopping in Whole Foods, like it was their normal Sunday routine. Runners in the New York City Marathon turn into Central Park. View from Time Warner Center. Colu

Max Beckmann's Last Walk

On December 27, 1950, artist Max Beckmann (1884-1950) was walking from his home at 38 West 69th Street to see his painting Self-Portrait in Blue Jacket (1950) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  He lived just off Central Park, and the walk would have been a pleasant and easy one, rounding the southern part of the Lake, crossing Bethesda Terrace, and strolling up Cedar Hill toward the museum. But just at the western entrance of the park near W. 69th Street, he suffered a heart attack and died. He was 66. The steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art with poster for the exhibition Max Beckmann in New York . Now, 66 years later, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is paying homage to Beckmann and the "poignant circumstances" of his death. On display in Max Beckmann in New York are 39 works that encompass the breadth of his career, including his final ones while a resident of New York City. In the 1920s, Beckmann thrived in the creative world of Germany's Weimar Republi

A Curious Day at the Opera

(Updated) The Metropolitan Opera had not staged a production of Gioachino Rossini's "Guillaume Tell" in eight decades. Not in my lifetime. The composer's final opera, though considered one of his great ones (nearly up there with "The Barber of Seville"), is a lengthy and complicated endeavor. While few people have seen the opera in a live production, most everyone knows the famous overture. Members of the post-war generation and Baby boomers associate the William Tell Overture with the Lone Ranger and his trusty sidekick, Tonto. Outside the Metropolitan Opera House before the performance. Saturday, October 29, 2016. 11:34 a.m. The Met's production is estimated to run about four hours and thirty-six minutes. The first intermission is scheduled for 30 minutes and a second intermission for 40 minutes. The final act wraps up quickly at 26 minutes, but that's when a lot of beautiful music takes place. Except it didn't quite work out that way

A Walk in Central Park from Cedar Hill to W. 69th Street and Central Park West

A perennial post first published in 2016... The Central Park walk featured here is accompanied by pictures of seasonal scenes from late October, but as with most walks in New York's famous park, the stroll can be undertaken at any time of year. Highlights include Cedar Hill, Conservatory Water, the Hans Christian Andersen statue, The Lake, and Bow Bridge. The walk ends in a pretty landscaped area on the west side of Central Park at W. 69th Street. On Cedar Hill in Central Park An autumn day with ample sunshine and mild temperatures does bring out the crowds and adventurous boaters, whether rowing in the Lake or steering a model boat in Conservatory Water, so solitary sorts may want to wait for a grayer and colder day.

The Wonderful World of the United Palace Theatre

The Loew's 175th Street Theatre, now the United Palace Theatre , opened on February 22, 1930. Imagined by architect Thomas Lamb, the fifth of five Loew's Wonder Theatres in the New York area (and all still standing, another wonder) boasted architectural elements from the whole wide world. Details include lions, Buddhas, ornate Islamic patterns, and impossible knights in armor guarding the stage. Gold and red, the colors of opulence envelop the vast palace from floor to ceiling, from first-row orchestra to the nose-bleed seats, and up and down the theatrical staircase. The United Palace Theatre, 175th and Broadway, was one of five Loew's Wonder Theatres. The uptown theater had 3,000 seats when it opened that first night, and it has about 358 more now. Like the fashion of the time, the show included live vaudeville acts along with a motion picture. On opening night in 1930, the featured movie was THEIR OWN DESIRE starring Norma Shearer. One of the big attractions was t

A Walk Around the Central Park Reservoir

Walking around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir , the official name for the reservoir in Central Park that stretches from around 86th to 96th Streets, is not ideal for your typical city walker who prefers a stroll on the boulevards. Few architectural structures of note grace the path, and the main entertainment consists of trying not to become injured by fast runners. However bucolic, the reservoir is not a good place to walk the turtle. This walk around the Reservoir begins on the east side near Museum Mile. At the same time, walking around a large body of water in New York City's greatest park is not without charms. Views of the skyline from all direction, plenty of flora and fauna, access to charming cast-iron bridges, and overheard conversations may be counted among the attributes of a walk around the reservoir. Walking north on the east side of the Reservoir. On a recent impromptu walk following a visit to the Guggenheim, I found myself amused by an overh