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Showing posts from May, 2018

Return to Roosevelt Island

Nearly ten years ago, Walking Off the Big Apple visited Roosevelt Island and was struck by the comparisons between the island in the East River and the Île de la Cité, the island in the Seine in Paris.


From June 9, 2008:

“The islands both occupy important geographical sites within rivers of major world cities, one in the East River and the other in the Seine. The islands both served as locations for historic prisons - Blackwell's Island Penitentiary in New York and The Conciergerie in Paris, and both incarcerated famous women - Mae West, Emma Goldman, and Billie Holiday in NYC and Marie Antoinette, Charlotte Corday, and Madame du Barry in Paris. Large hospital complexes dominate the past and present of both islands, the legacy of the ancient practice of shifting patients with contagious diseases to areas of isolation and quarantine. The Hotel Dieu, founded in 651, is the oldest hospital in France.

Both Roosevelt Island and the Île de la Cité feature Gothic architecture - the Renwick…

Meet SPOT, the Giant Fiberglass Dalmatian on East 34th Street

SPOT! is the name of the giant Dalmatian at the east end of 34th Street balancing a yellow taxi on its nose. This new public sculpture by artist Donald Lipski sits outside NYU Langone’s new Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Pavilion at 34th Street and First Avenue. The work is permanent.


The 38-foot female puppy is intended to offer a friendly greeting and comfort to visitors of the children’s hospital at the facility. She certainly enchanted those who were just passing by.

The taxi is a real one, a Prius donated by Toyota. While the motor has been removed, the lights and windshield wipers still work, programmed to operate when conditions warrant. 

Lipski, the artist, is known for his large-scale public works installations. In New York, you can see his sculptural chandelier in the shape of an olive tree at Grand Central Market. If visiting San Antonio, look for his swimming F.I.S.H. under the overpass at the River Walk.

The 18-story hospital, designed by Ennead Architects and NBBJ, provi…

A Rambling Walk in Central Park from Summit Rock to Conservatory Water

The recent spring rains may have put a damper on strolls in the park, but the rain has been mighty good for the flora and fauna. On Friday, when the weather was just plain cloudy, many residents and visitors, including many migratory birds, flocked to Central Park.


A meandering walk from Summit Rock near Central Park West over to Conservatory Water on the east side of the park near Fifth Avenue is a good choice for such days. The stroll offers glimpses of the built environment but mostly stays within the trees, especially in The Ramble.


Birds love Central Park, as the city’s most famous park provides everything that birds need during spring migration - food, water, access to shelter and open spaces.


Studies of successful public spaces have demonstrated that humans require the same things as birds, so it’s not surprising that birds of a feather will flock together in the great green space in the middle of Manhattan. Central Park provides convenient access to food, water features, neces…

The Heavenly Way to the Met Cloisters

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s grand exhibition Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, organized by the Met’s Costume Institute, opens today at the museum’s Fifth Avenue location and uptown at The Met Cloisters. Inspired by Catholic traditions, the exhibition of awe-inspiring fashion design inspires a conversation between the material culture and spirituality of the church and the work of renowned fashion designers, many of whom grew up Catholic.


Don’t miss the part of the exhibition housed at The Met Cloisters, because even if you’ve been to The Cloisters multiple times, you will never see it quite like this. It’s as if the museum, already a quasi-sacred space, comes alive with the presence of these heavenly-attired creatures. Credit here goes to exhibition designers Diller Scofidio + Renfo (DS+R) for staging this sensational experience, one that includes audio and effective lighting.


May I suggest a pilgrimage uptown to see the exhibition? At any season, the walk f…

A Spring Walk to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park

A walk along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade followed by a walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park should be added to your spring strolling repertoire. The two parallel stretches of walkway, one on high ground and the other at water’s edge below, offer unequaled views of Lower Manhattan on the opposite shore of the East River.


Begin the walk by finding your way to the A and C subway stop on High Street or the 2 and 3 on Clark Street in Brooklyn. A stroll through Brooklyn Heights brings to mind the area’s formidable literary heritage, having served as home to Arthur Miller, W.E.B. DuBois, Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, Norman Mailer, and many other giants of American letters.


The atmosphere of these pretty streets evokes another era. Brooklyn Heights, an old historic neighborhood of sea captains and God-fearing abolitionists (visit Henry Ward Beecher's church on your walk to the waterfront), offers a necessary perspective on life in the big city.


If Brooklyn Heights represents old New Y…