Sutton Place Park and Porcellino, copy of a copy of a copy.

Sutton Place Park
Sutton Place is one of  the most upscale neighborhood in all of Manhattan.  It covers a small area stretching only blocks from 53rd Street to 59th Street, between the East River to Second Avenue right by the Queensboro Bridge.  In the 1870s, a real estate developer named E.B. Sutton constructed townhouses on Avenue A, a street later renamed for him.
Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo(1983 to 1994)  and his son-in-law designer Kenneth Cole live there now.  Aristotle Onassis, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, Bill Blass,   Marilyn Monroe and her then husband Arthur Miller lived there.  Sutton Place has two public parks overlooking the East River, one at the end of 57th Street and the other at the end of 53rd Street.  

These parks are the perfect spot to watch the sun set and to escape the hustle of life in New York City. The park at the end of 57th street and its vistas of the Queensboro Bridge were featured prominently in Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979).   There is a Boar Statue sitting in the middle of the park.    Philanthropist Hugh Trumbull Adams found the statue in a Florentine shop and donated it to the park in 1972.   

Porcellino statue in Florence, Italy 
It's a bronze copy of the  statue made by Italian sculpture of Pietro Tacca around 1620,  that stands in    the heart of the historic center of  Florence, Italy  in the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo, or  New Market.  
Original statue in Ufizzi Gallery,
The Porcellino fountain (fountain of the piglet) is one the most popular monuments in Florence.  If you want a good luck you should touch the nose of the statue: the nose is shiny from the daily rubbing of hundreds of hands.  The statue in Florence is a copy  of a marble replica of a Renaissance statue of a wild boar.
The original boar was carved from marble during the centuries BC by a Greek sculptor. This sculpture was either lost or destroyed.  During the 17th century the Italians made a marble copy 'Cinghiale' housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and Tacca had copied this  marble statue. So the statue in Sutton Place park, New York is a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy! 
Porcellino Statue in Sydney, Australia

Six Flags replica
In 1962, five copies of Tacca's sculpture were cast by the Florence foundry, Fonderia Ferdinando Marinelli,  for public display.  One of the copies in  Sydney, Auastralia outside the Sydney Hospital. The wild boar even has special outfits which he wears on special occasions to help raise money for the hospital. 
There are   Porcellino Copies everywhere all over the world- in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany. There are nine copies of the statue in US. New York state has two of them -- the first one at Sutton Place park and the second one- near the entrance to Six Flags Great Escape amusement park Queensbury, NY.

The first Jewish community in North America

The beautiful  masonry building in neo-classical style, the present   home of Shearith Israel  congregation  sits in the middle of the Upper West Side historic district.  The New York metropolitan area now  is home to the largest Jewish population in the world outside Israel.  In 2012, more than  1,100,000  Jews lived in New York City (about 12% of the city's population).

 The first Jewish community Shearith Israel was founded in North America in  1654, when New York  had the name  New Amsterdam.   The story behind this community  started  centuries   ago, in 1478, when  King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile established the Spanish Inquisition. On April 30, 1492  Spanish King Ferdinand ordered all Jews to leave Spain by the end of July.   Jews gradually migrated throughout Europe , North Africa, Central and South America, including Brazil (under Dutch rule at this time).
When Columbus sailed from Spain on August 3, 1492, there were   several Jews among his 120 men.  Luis de Torres, a Jew from Murcia (south-eastern Spain), served as Columbus’s interpreter . When the ships arrived at Cuba, Luis de Torres decided to remain in Cuba. But  at that   time  he was the only Jew in North America.

In February 1654, a month after Portuguese reconquest,  the Dutch schooner Valck,one of the two remaining  vessels  carrying Brazilian Jewish refugees sailed out of Recife, Brazil. En route it was captured by   pirates . The pirate’s captain forced the ship to land in Jamaica( Spanish colony at that time) , and expropriated  all of the passengers’ possessions.   Some Jews were even incarcerated by the local Inquisition.  
The remaining 23 Jews  who were not jailed   were allowed to depart. 
Flagstaff at Battery Park

When the journey continued, the group stopped   on the western tip of Cuba and then was taken by the French ship St. Catherine to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, where they arrived in September, 1654.

This flagstaff, unveiled on May 20, 1955 at Battery Park in Downtown commemorates the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the first Jewish settlers in New Amsterdam and North America.

Stuyvesant, Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland   objected to any settlers who were not members of the Dutch Reformed Church. He  attempted to evict the Jews, but Jewish stockholders in Amsterdam prevailed on the Dutch West India Company to order the narrow-minded governor to let them remain.

Stuyvesant attempted to establish a discriminatory regime ,but the Dutch West India company  instituted a rule allowing Jews to own real estate, trade freely, and be spared discriminatory taxes.
St Thomas Synagogue

Seeing the ominous British power on both sides of the Dutch colony, the Jews gradually left in the 1650s. They went directly to Holland or to other Dutch colonies, including Curacao and St. Thomas .
 The Synagogue in St. Thomas  is the  oldest synagogue in continuous use under the American flag. Famous Jews born here include French Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro and David Levy Yulee, Florida’s first senator.

In the early years in New York  settled near Whitehall Street and later they  moved to Mill Street, which was later called “Jew Street.”  On Mill Street(South William street now) , they built their synagogue in 1728. 

The New York Jewish community continued to grow with new immigrants attracted by the opportunities the port city offered in commerce.

On April 8, 1730, Congregation Shearith Israel, in New York, America’s first synagogue, consecrated its home, the first structure custom-built for a Jewish house of worship in the country. The small building, on Mill Street – what is today South William Street, in the Wall Street area of Lower Manhattan – was dedicated on the seventh day of Passover.

Second cemetery
First Cemetery  of this congregation, dates back to   1683, is  in what is today Chinatown.  The Second Cemetery is hidden behind  the blue wall and  wrought iron fence on West 11th Street.  It caught my attention during a recent walk  in Chelsea. Burials began here in 1805, in what was a much larger, square plot. In 1830 was West 11th Street cut through,   reducing the cemetery to its present tiny triangle. The disturbed plots were moved further uptown to the Third Cemetery  on West 21st Street, and later when in   1852 city law forbade burial within Manhattan, subsequent interments have been made in Queens.
Color photographic postcard of the interior of
Congregation Shearith Israel

The present synagogue building, on 70th Street and Central Park West, is the fifth which The Congregation has occupied.   At the entrance to the synagogue, there are two millstones that were from Mill Street, the location of the town miller during the early colonial period.  They were taken from the site of The first Mill Street synagogue as a reminder of The historic roots in the city. 
There is a replica of The Mill Street synagogue—the Little Synagogue inside the building.  The reader's desk and the four candlesticks surrounding it are also from the Mill Street synagogue.

Seward Johnson, the founder of "Grounds for Sculpture"

Seward Johnson, the grandson of Robert Wood Johnson (co-founder of Johnson and Johnson) and a cousin of actor Michael Douglas was born in New Jersey in 1930. He grew up with five siblings and went to serve four years in the navy during the Korean War. His earlier work focused on painting, after which he turned to sculpture in 1968. Having no formal training beyond a series of classes in Cambridge, MA, his first cast work of sculpture won the Award in Steel Art competition which included 7,000 entries.
Auto portrait 

Seward Johnson's works are exhibited internationally and are included in private collections, museums, and public art collections.
There are three distinct series of his works:" Celebrating the Familiar man", "Icons Revisited" and "Beyond the Frame" series, that over 30 works based on Impressionist and Post- Impressionist masterworks.
In 1974, Johnson founded the Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture- an educational, non-profit art casting and fabrication facility. Right next to the Atelier Institute there is one of the best sculpture parks in the world, also founded by Stewart Johnson.
  You can read more about the park "Grounds for Sculpture" in one of my posts.
"Double Check"

In 1982 sculpture created “Double Check,” a life-sized bronze of a businessman, sitting on a metal bench in Liberty Park and making final preparations before heading into a nearby office building. Liberty Park and the statue were heavily damaged when New York City was terrorized on Sept. 11, 2001. In the days following the 9/11 attacks, Johnson’s sculpture became a memorial as first responders and passersby decorated it with flowers, flowers, notes and candles.

 Before 9/11, the sculpture was simply part of the downtown landscape. Afterward, it became an icon. Seward Johnson, sculptor and the owner of the sculpture, has called his sculpture an iconic "stand-in" for those who didn't make it.

Edouard Manet "Le Dejeuner Sur L’herbe"

Henri Matisse "Dance"
J. Seward Johnson Jr. s recent work focuses on recreating well-known nineteenth-century paintings that allow the viewer to step inside and experience the two-dimensional work in three-dimensional reality. “I want my work to disappear into the landscape and then take a viewer by surprise. After he gets over the shock of being fooled, it becomes an emotional discovery. Then he owns the sculpture. People often revisit their favorites. They become like friends." said Seward Johnson.

Claude Monet "La Terrasse A Sainte-Adresse"
Seward Johnson's 'Were You Invited?' is inspired by French Impressionist Pierre Auguste Renoir’s nineteenth-century masterpiece, 'The Luncheon of the Boating Party'. Sculptor renamed the painting Were You Invited? and recreated it in 3D. The viewers can actually step into the scene and mingle with the diners.
In addition to the members of the Impressionist’s boating party are four figures seated around another table at the far end of the tableau. Joined in convivial conversation are realistic representations of sculptor Johnson himself with artists Bill Barrett, Red Grooms, and Andrzej Pitynski
Pierre Auguste Renoir "The Luncheon of the Boating Party"
  Steward Johnson is 83 now but he remains active in the art community. He also publishes a science magazine, works as president of an oceanographic research institution in Florida, and is the founder of an off-Broadway theater "The Joyce and Seward Johnson Theater"   in New York. On May 4, 2014, Grounds For Sculpture opened the largest and most significant exhibition in its history—a presentation of work by its founder, Seward Johnson. The exhibit will feature more than 287 works, including 91 painted trays. Seward Johnson: The Retrospective will be on view through September 21, 2014.

Grounds of sculpture, park in New Jersey

An  hour and a half drive from New York  and several miles from   Princeton University, one of the eight universities of the Ivy League,   there is one of  the world’s most impressive sculpture gardens   – Grounds for Sculpture.  Park is huge- about 42 acres. The permanent collection include over 270 sculptures  and seasonal exhibitions in eight galleries.  The mission, according to the organization’s Web site, is to “promote an understanding of and  appreciation for contemporary sculpture for all people.”

Grounds For Sculpture is also a garden and arboretum  with   paved terraces, pergolas, courtyards, lake and ponds.   The grounds are arranged so that you never know what to expect  over any small hill.  
 A surprise awaits you around every corner. The sculptures cover all types of art styles from classical to modern   and are almost hidden, waiting for you to find them in secret garden. There is a   walled garden  with a set   of very clever fountains. You will not be able to put away your camera the entire time you are there.

There are about one dozen peacocks   freely wandering around.  They have enchanted visitors of all ages by displaying their beautiful trains or surprised and delighted those who spotted them strolling the park with newly hatched chicks. Two years ago, one very rare white peacock was added to the group.  

The kids can run around the park and touch or even climb the art. There is a  warming hut in the center of the park where you  can to sit by the fire  in the cold months.
 The is a Peacock café near the central entrance to the park.  In a good weather you can pack your food in a picnic basket    and have a lunch  in the gorgeous Acer Courtyard or   throughout the park.  The food is overpriced but you can pack a lunch at home and just buy tea or coffee, as I always do.
 At the other end of the park there is an upscale Rat’s restaurant , featuring country French cuisine. It  is probably New Jersey's best-decorated restaurant.  It  was   designed by  the founder of the park John Seward Johnson II, with an impressionist Claude Monet-styled atmosphere.   It is named after the character "Ratty"  The Wind in the Willows,a classic of children's literature by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908.

Every year there is something new in the park -  the park's outdoor collection grows by fifteen sculptures annually. There are about   four hundred fifty reviews of the park on  Tripadvisor and   85 percentage of the visitors rated the park as “excellent”.
Grounds For Sculpture is located on a site that was formerly part of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds. Fairs were held occasionally in Trenton Township since 1745 when King George II granted a royal charter allowing them for the purpose of buying and selling livestock and other merchandise. This charter provided for the first fair in colonial America.  In 1980 the land was sold and the New Jersey State Fair was held for the last time on this site.
Construction on the sculpture park began in 1989 and  Grounds For Sculpture opened to the general public in 1992. In one of my next posts  I will tell more about the history of the park and its’  founder J. Seward Johnson, Jr.


If you read of a gourmet mustard, a black Hawaiian salt, anything new, odds are you’ll find it among the thousands of edibles stocked  in the famous gourmet deli Zabar's, located on the Upper West Side, on the corner of Broadway and West 80, several blocks from the Museum of Natural History.

Zabar's is of one of the most exotic gourmet food stores in New York. The place is cluttered with unusual produce from around the world and there is an old world feeling about the place. They have every imaginable kind of cheese from the farthest corners of the earth. There are mountain ranges of olives, breads, jams, desserts, pastas, sauces and racks of high-octane chocolate at each register.

 If you are the fan of a smoked salmon- it's you place! You may chose from  Nova, double-smoked Nova, pickled lox, salty belly lox, gravlax, hot-smoked kippered salmon, Scottish-cured salmon or even pastrami salmon, some of the 2,000 pounds sold each week.

The founder of Zabar's  Louis Zabar was born in 1901 in  Ukraine,  in Ostropol' (Старый Острополь).  His father had been murdered in a pogrom, and Louis came first to Canada and in the early 1920s to New York.  By the way the grand parents of American filmmaker James Gray  are from the same village, Osropol. His film  Little Odessa won  the Silver Lion at the 1994 Venice Film Festival.

In 1934 Lois and his wifr Lillian started Zabar's by renting  Appetizing Counter in a Daitch Market (now The Food Emporium).

Louis had been selling only  the highest quality smoked fish at a fair price. He wanted his customers to trust him and he wanted them to become "regulars". He traveled to the smokehouses and sampled the smoked fish himself. He worked very long hours and roasted his own coffee. The store was his life.
Louis died in 1950  and his two elder sons  took over running the store.  His youngest son was at school at that time.   Saul Zabar is 85 and he is still running the store.

Zabar’s is half a city block long--nearly 20,000 square feet--and over 40,000 customers walk through Zabar’s doors every week, spending  about $50 million a year on 800 varieties of cheeses, 400,000 pounds of coffee, nearly 300 different prepared foods made by a kitchen. 

Zabar’s owners have an uncommon relationship with their staff. They offer interest- free loans to their 250-plus mostly Dominican employees, with $40,000 or $50,000 out to various staff at any time; they also spring for up to a third of any employee’s children’s college tuition.

The food store employs about 200 people, 35 of whom work exclusively in the kitchen. The store works 365 days a  year.   The best day of the year at Zabar’s is Christmas Day. It’s the day when the Jews come out to celebrate the holiday tradition of “Christmas, Schmismas – lets eat!”

Zabar's is rated NN 10 of 559 in shopping in New York city by Tripadvisor. 

Several weeks ago I visited the Museum of Natural History and came to Zabar's to buy some snack. When I saw strudel I could not resist- a foot and a half long apricot and cheese strudel straight from the oven for just $8! I was in heaven!

And now- the message for people who live ( visit) New York-Zabars's now offers free shipping to select location within approximately 150 miles of it's retail store on any order of $49 or more. You can enter your zip code in the free shipping field at the top of the home page and you'll find out!
I live at the very south end of Brooklyn near the beach  and I'm qualified! And I also entered several New Jersey zips...The result is the same! 

Bryant Park, Part 3 Park, Part 1
Bryant Park,  Part 2

An urban oasis several feet from New York Public Library, Bryant Park  is an ideal resting spot for the thousands of tourists and residents who pass by its boundaries each day.  The  French classical style urban oasis is much more than a charming back porch for the Public Library's main branch.
 Read the beginning of the story in my Post 1 and Post 2.
In 1935, in the middle of the  Great  Depression , the Bryant Park Open-Air Reading Room was established in the backyard of the New York Public Library.     By its second summer, it had attracted 64,624 visitors.
  The 1935 Reading Room consisted of several benches, a few book and magazine cases, and a table with a beach umbrella for the five librarians who ran it.  In 1943  the reading room was temporary  discontinued. The parks commissioner Robert Moses wrote:” … we can open it again when the war is over.''   The Reading Room at Bryant Park was reopened thirty years late, in  2003 and HSBC was its first sponsor.   The programming, publications, and environment of the Reading Room are available to everyone for free, without any need of cards or identification. 

Bryant park gave room has over 40 tabletop games available daily for free  including   Quoits, Scrabble, Chinese Checkers  and Scandinavian Kubb.  With almost 40 different games in the park, there is something for everyone. We have a selection of classic board games, childhood favorites, and new popular games available for free. The games attendant helps  to get started, explain rules, and help set up equipment.
The park has a chess concession at the west end that offers chess boards and lessons. There is also a court for practitioners of Pétanque, the French game of boules.  Also popular are free classes in juggling, yoga, tai chi and knitting. In the summer of 2009, the Bryant Park corporation added two ping pong tables to the North West corner of the park.
Le Carousel in Bryant Park was designed specifically for Bryant Park by  Marvin Sylvor of Brooklyn based Fabricon Carousel Company.  Sylvor has designed more the sixty carousels worldwide and this one was his favorite. There are 14 animals (the rabbit, 10 horses, a frog, a cat and a deer) that revolve to French cabaret music.  The price is $3 per ride.  And a parent assisted the child rides free.

There's something always happening in Bryant park!
9-11 in Bryant Park

On September 11 2001, Bryant Park set up 2,753 empty chairs in honor of those who died in the 911 attacks.

Bryant Park White Party
On Wednesday, September 20 2013  some 4,000 people, dressed all in white, have come to dine in   Bryant Park. They have come for Diner en Blanc, an unusual pop-up event that takes place in 20 countries.  The guests eat  at a location they only learn about minutes before they arrive. The thousands wave white napkins to signal the beginning of the event. This is the third year that Diner En Blanc has come to New York.

Bryant Park is great at any season of the year.  When the weather is warm, it is a great place to come relax, read a book, or catch an outdoor movie.  During the winter months, it turns into a winter wonderland with gift shops all over the place, large Christmas tree  and   free ice skating   - you have to pay only for skate rental .
Every summer on Monday night  in June, July and August you can see  classic  movies on the big screen under the stars in Bryant Park  for free. You have to bring a blanket - chairs are not allowed in the lawn.  
 In 2002 the park became the city's first 'wireless park', which means you could connect wireless to the internet from anywhere in the park.
Bryant Park Grille has  one of the prettiest settings for a restaurant in New York. Pricing is very reasonable and there is an outdoor patio garden and rooftop garden. 
 Since the summer of 2005, Bryant Park's   kiosks have been serving up delicious handmade food to park-goers all year round.  There a coffee kiosk with handcrafted pastries and breakfast items such as steel-cut oatmeal and  Greek yogurt.  There is a the Grilled Cheese kiosk and   Soup and Sandwich kiosk.
And the last but not least thing I’d like to talk about Bryant Park public restrooms.  The free public restrooms were completely renovated in 2011.  You can find fresh flowers on the marble countertops, attendants and a classic music inside. Public restrooms were recently voted number one in the world by travel website Virtual Tourist.