Lamb's club on 44th street

A group of actors and theatre enthusiasts took the  name from a similar group, the Lambs Club of London. London Club met earlier in the 19th century at the house of Charles Lamb, the drama critic and essayist. Since its founding, there have been more than 6,000 Lambs including Fred Astaire and  Irving Berlin. As other clubs The Lambs had its traditions.  Women  and dramatic critic were not allowed. The president of the Lambs Club was named  the "Shepherd," the vice president was  - the "Boy." Over the years The Lambs has held many large entertainment events, or Gambols. Proceeds were used to finance the Club's operations.
The Club has its own song with the words:
We're poor little lambs
who have lost our way,
Baa Baa Baa,
We're little black sheep
who have gone astray
Baa Baa Baa.

The song is an abstract from  the   Rudyard Kipling's  ("The Jungle Book"  author ) poem "Gentlemen-Rankers"
There is an interesting relationship  between the club and  the  Manhattan's Church of the Transfiguration  on East 29.  Every rector of the church  is made an honorary member of the club. In 1870  an actor George Holland was denied a funeral by a pastor of a Fifth Avenue church, who  suggested to  "try the little church around the corner." Since that time, the "little church" has enjoyed most of The Lambs' (and the theatre's) nuptial and funeral trade.
In 1903 the Lambs Club purchased two lots at  West 44th Street. The famous architect  Stanford White was an  architect on the new club building.  On the first floor were the lobby with a bank of telephones, a grill room and billiard room; on the second floor was a banquet hall. 

The wall od the building are adorn with the lamb heads.  The size of the building was doubled in 1915 when an addition to the west, a virtual copy of White's original, was constructed.
In 1974, the 44th Street building was designated by the New York City Landmarks and Preservation Commission. A year later  following financial difficulties with the club, it was sold to the Church of the Nazarene.   The Lambs Club  now  shared space at 3 West 51st Street with The Women's National Republican Club. By the way women can be the members of the Lamb Club now.
Now the building on the West 44th street is occupied  by   The Chatwal  hotel ( with the room price starting from $400) and The Lambs Club- bar and restaurant.

Bamboo indoors oasis in the centre of the city

The  glass atrium  in the skyscraper   at 590 Madison Avenue is one of the more than five hundred    Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) in New York City. These public spaces were   created as a result of an incentive zoning program  of 1961,  that offered private developers an increase in density in exchange for the inclusion of public space.

This skyscraper was built in 1983 for IBM (International Business Machines) - a   well known  American computer manufacture.   IBM   history started in 1911  when three successful 19th century companies merged.  The name of the company was changed to IBM in 1924 and the first headquarters' building was built in New York in 1938.   The 20-story, 100,000 square foot building was located at the corner of East 57 and Madison. 

It housed all executive functions, as well as the sales and services departments serving the New York area. The company was growing very quickly  and in 1979 the building was demolished and a new 41 floor skyscraper was built. The IBM building was built at the same year as the Trump Tower at the corner of 57 and Fifth avenue.  The building cost US$10 million, has   24 elevators, and is the 89th tallest building in New York.

The combination of 590 Madison Avenue and Trump Tower ( I wrote about the indoor public space in Trump Tower in one of my posts) creates the City’s only complex of indoor connected privately owned public spaces uninterrupted by a street.

The Sculpture Garden  in the    atrium of 590 Madison is a green oasis in the center of the business part n the city. It is one most tranquil  indoor spaces in all of midtown. 

The glass enclosed public space has huge bamboo trees   and sculptural elements.   Movable seating creates small-scale conversation spaces.  
In 2004 hundreds of Big Apple sculptures popped up all over New York as part of the Big Apple Fest. They are cast from acrylic, allowing artists to create three-dimensional works inside or decorate the exterior. Two of these apples can be seen now in the atrium.

There are sculptures in the permanent display in this garden and new installations. Last  time when I was there in the beginning of December there were two  beautiful cars on the view.  On view there was 1966 Ferrari  and  1932 Studz.  Both cars were offered on auction in Scottsdale in Arizona on 15 of January.

In summer at lunch time there are concerts in  the atrium.

Life Underground and alligators in the sewers

 Thirty years ago the Metropolitan Transit Authority started their Arts for Transit program in an attempt to lighten up everyone’s commute with both beautiful and whimsical artwork placed throughout the city’s subway stations. Mosaics, glass, bronze and other materials now adorn the previously decaying and forgotten walls and corridors of our subways.

Located in the 14th Street and 8th Avenue station are over 100 little cast-bronze sculptures depicting life in NYC.  Every day, more than 30,000 people walk through this Subway Station at rush hour, passing by his little bronze sculptures.

The sculptures are located in unexpected places: under stairs or pillars, on railings, on benches and  suppose to surprise commuters. Most of these  bronze figures are no more than 8 inches tall.
Life Underground   is a permanent public artwork created by American sculptor Tom Otterness for New York Subway. It was commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Arts for Transit program for US$200,000 — one percent of the station's reconstruction budget. 

Otterness drew inspiration for his characters from New York’s Tammany Hall era, when powerful political bosses ruled the city. He also looked to the work of famous caricaturist Thomas Nast. Images of coins, tokens and moneybags are present in most of the figures.

 Before installing the sculptures, Otterness built a full-scale model of the 14th Street subway station steps in his studio.

 The work took 10 years to complete and the artist ended up making four times the amount of work he was originally commissioned to create.   He said, "I kept putting more and more work in. I put probably five times what they paid me to put in. Finally my wife stopped me..."

One of the bronze sculptures  on the station makes reference to the old legend of alligators in the sewers.  It's long been rumored there are thriving colonies of alligators lurking in New York City's sewer system.  According to the tale in 1930s wealthy people brought baby alligators back from Florida vacation.  But when the funny pet grew they flushed them  down the toilet. The alligators eat sewer rats and became bigger and bigger. 

Meyer Berger, reporter,  who wrote the About New York column for The Times, recounted in 1957 that in the mid-1930s, sewer alligators “seemed to thrive below the pavement” in “rather frightening numbers.”  The column  added: “They were destroyed systematically and the threat of an alligator invasion died away.” In 1959 the writer Robert Daly published a book  "The world beneath the city". In this book he told about the interview with the superintendent of  New York Sewiering  System who claimed to see alligators. Other books continued the legend.

You can find the works by Otterness  in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and  the Guggenheim Museum in New York.  But it is much better to go to the Subway and try to find all of the  almost 150  small bronze figures.

New York Events January-February 2014

Boat show in Javits Center
January 21(Wednesday)  - 25(Sunday), 2015
See new boats, marine gear, and accessories plus workshops and TV celebrities at the New York Boat Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.The price  is $15.00 and kids 15 and younger are free with a paid adult admission
Get 2-for-1 deals on select theater shows during Broadway Week.
List of show include
Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, Miserable, On the town, etc
Winter Jam in Central Park
January 24(Saturday) , 2015 (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) 
Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and games during Winter Jam. Snowmakers from Gore Mountain plan to make   15 feet of snow for about the length of a football field near the Central Park Bandshell.  Activities will include sledding, snow shoeing, ski and snowboarding lessons and a winter market.   Equipment will be provided for FREE ( bring your ID)  or you can bring your own gear

Winter Carnival  in Bryant Park
January 30(Friday)- 31 (Saturday), 2015
Winter Carnival includes mini-golf on ice, winter sports, snowflakes making, lessons, ping pong, skating, and an outdoor kids’ dance party at Bryant Park. At night it will be Winter Village's first-ever Summer Skating
Here is the info from the part site:
Throw on a Hawaiian shirt (over your sweater if you must), a straw hat, and sunglasses and join us for a spin around the ice to classic summer tunes from decades past. Costumes strongly encouraged. If you dare... wear your bathing suit!  You can read more about  Bryant Park in my Posts-Post1, Post2 and Post 3.
Skating is FREE if you have skates. Rent is available.

Groundhog Day
February 2 (Monday), 2015
Staten Island Zoo opens at 6:30 a.m., and   the groundhog Chuck looks for his shadow at 7:30 a.m.  to predict the end of winter.The zoo has four groundhogs, all with the variations of the brand name "Chuck." On the morning of Feb. 2, zoo staff selects which of the groundhogs will participate in the ceremony and be dubbed Chuck for the day. This event is FREE ( if you can make it on Monday, at 6-30!)

  Chinese New Year
February 21(Saturday), 2015
The  Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade in Manhattan New York (USA) will take place at 1:00 PM on Saturday, February 21, 2015.
More than 6,000 people are expected to march , which will start at Mott Street and promenade through practically every street in of NYC Chinatown.    The parade is expected to conclude at 3:00 pm, at which time an outdoor Chinese cultural festival will take place in Sara D.

Roosevelt Park featuring more performances by musicians, dancers and martial artists.

Brooklyn Museum  Killer Heels ( till March1,2015)
From the high platform chopines of sixteenth-century Italy to the glamorous stilettos on today’s runways and red carpets, the exhibition looks at the high-heeled shoe’s rich and varied history and its enduring place in our popular imagination. The general admission prices are suggested contribution amounts - you can pay $1 !!

Metropolitan Museum of Art. El Greco till February 1, 2015
 The Met’s 400th anniversary show demonstrates that El Greco saw painting as more than just a craft. It was a philosophical, intellectual and religious undertaking.  Metropolitan Museum of Art brought  out its nine El Greco paintings as well as another six lent from the Hispanic Society.

 Suggested fee- you can pay $1 !!

American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side.  Butterflies
Temperatures climb to 80 degrees in the 1,200-square-foot vivarium, returning for its 16th year. The 500 specimens flying around include monarchs, zebra longwings and iridescent blue morpho butterflies.

Nikolas Roerich -the only painter who ever had a skyscraper built for him.

A  planet was named for him. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1929.
He was   an archaeologist, art historian,  poet, peace activist, botanist, spiritual philosopher, mentor to Marc Chagall, political adviser, costume designer , women’s rights advocate and founder of a yoga society. He had had legions of admirers, including Einstein, Gandhi, and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Some people thought that he was a KGB agent and a Russian spy. Other called him guru. I'm talking about Nikolas Roerich.

I found Nikolas Roerich museum while  planning a photo trip to Upper West Side.  The weather was not accommodating at all and I had been trying to find a place to warm up a little bit  after several hours of walking. The location of the museum was perfect for me  and the ticket price( free!!!)   was an additional bonus.  I knew  that  Nikolas Roerich was  a Russian-born artist.    He and his wife Helena fled Russia after the Russian Revolution of 1917  and later on settled in India, where he died in 1947. 

 Far long ago ( maybe  in my previous life ?)   I visited  a very  large exhibition in  Moscow in   the State Museum of Oriental Art   and was amazed by the colors on the  pictures.  I loved his pictures displayed in   Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and in Russian Museum in St Petersburg.  But I knew nothing about  Roerich in New York.

The museum is located in the charming  town house at the very end of the West 107th street just across Riverside Park.  This house, the last before the corner, was one of the three housed built by the same builder in 1901. In 1949, two years after Roerich’s death,   his follower  bought the West 107th Street brownstone.

But the story about Roerich in New York  started earlier. Nicholas Roerich was born in Russia in 1874. He  graduated from the Saint-Petersburg  Academy of Arts  in 1897  and his   diploma painting    was acquired by the famous art  collector P. Tretiakov.  In 1901  Nicolas  married  Helena  Shaposhnikova.  Their  son   Svetoslav  choose the same path as his father.

Following the Revolution of 1917, Roerich and his family left Russia and settled in the province of Karelia in Finland.  In 1919 Nicolas accepted     an invitation from Sweden. In the fall of the same year, he accepted S. Diagilev’s invitation to work as the designer for Russian operas in  England  and   the family moved to London.  A year after  N. Roerich got an invitation from the Director of the Chicago Institute of Arts to organize a big exhibition tour around 30 cities of the USA.
Costumes for the Snow Maiden

Nicholas  accepted that invitation, and left London together with his family.The tour opened successfully at the Kingore Gallery in New York in 1920. 
In addition to exhibiting over 400 paintings there and in many cities throughout the United States, Roerich designed the scenery and costumes for productions of The Snow Maiden, and Tristan and Isolde for the Chicago Opera Company.
The Roerichs became members of the Theosophical Society.  They initiated several movements and institutions, such as Cor Ardens and Corona Mundi, both of which were meant to unite artists around the globe. 
They also formed the Agni Yoga Society, dedicated to the  spiritual teachings that meant to serve as ‘living ethics’ for its followers.
In  November of 1921  Nicolas Roerich founded  the Master Institute of United Arts . The main purpose of the institute  was to bring people together through culture and art. The Institute was  financed and directed Louis Horch, who housed the school in a mansion he owned at 310 Riverside Drive.
Horch (standing) and  Nicolas Roerich in 1924

Louis Horch, who made a fortune as a foreign-trader broker,  put more than a million dollars into Roerich  projects. Horch  bought the  pictures of the artist,  paid his bills and sent his son  to Harvard.  Roerich  gathered around himself a collection of admires who addressed him as a Guru - a spiritual leader. Liuis Horch   became the most ardent  and reverential disciple of the Guru Rerich. Horch said about Roerich:  "it was a joy to give without a thought of ever receiving back the principle or interest."

Kullu Valley
In 1923 Nicolas Roerich with his six friends began the five-year long 'Roerich Asian Expedition'   . It was the dream of his life.   For the first time, dozens of new mountain peaks and passes were marked on maps, archeological monuments were discovered, and incredibly rare manuscripts were found, books were written and  about five hundred paintings were created . The expedition was forcibly stopped by Tibetan authorities in  1927  and was allowed to leave Tibet only in a year. Five men of the expedition died during this time. In  1928, the family settled in the Kullu Valley at an elevation of 6,500 feet in the Himalayan foothills, with a magnificent view of the valley and the surrounding mountains.

When in 1929 Roerich returned to US he was very famous. James Walker , the Mayor of New York at that time,   greeted him at the  city hall. President of the US Franklin Roosevelt met him.

Master Apartment building
In 1928 Harvey Wiley Corbett, a skyscraper architect, designed a new 27-story building "Master Apartment" for the Roerich operations.   The old mansion at 310 Riverside  was torn down. The building  had  24 stories of income-producing apartments above 3 floors   containing  galleries, conference rooms, theaters, exhibition halls and two libraries.     By this time Roerich  had produced 3,000 paintings, most of which were housed in the Nicholas Roerich Museum, which was part of the new building  at 310 Riverside Drive building.  The Museum was constructed principally to exhibit the paintings of Nicholas Roerich, turning into the first museum of the world dedicated to a living artist.
That's why the building is called "The Master".Nikolas Roerich kept an apartment there, he was typically off on expeditions for exploration, painting and writing. 
With his museum established, Roerich turned to a new project. Using the Red Cross as an example,  Nicolas Roerich  proposed a treaty for the protection of cultural treasures during times of both war and peace. In 1929 he and several associates formally drafted a treaty that they hoped would gain worldwide acceptance. It became known as the Roerich Pact.

Roerich also suggested that that a flag , named  Banner of Peace,  would be flown over all places under its protection.  On April  15,1935  the Pact was signed by representatives of 21 American states at the White House, Washington. Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the speech upon the signature of the ‘Roerich Pact’ Treaty said: “In opening this Pact to the adherence of the Nations of the world, we are endeavoring to make of universal application one of the principles vital to the preservation of modern civilization. This Treaty possesses a spiritual significance far deeper than the text of the instrument itself". 

In 1934-1935, Nicholas Roerich headed an expedition to the areas of Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, and China, organized by the US Ministry of Agriculture with the purpose of studying drought resistant plants.
Two months after signing the Roerich Pact in the White House, when Nikolas was still in expedition,    Louis Horch, who had concentrated in his hands all the financial aspects of the Museum’s activities, declared his disappointment in Roerich. 

 In 1938 Horch  put the artist’s works in storage and rededicated the museum to the exhibition of contemporary American and foreign art and sculpture. The sign “Roerich Museum” was taken down and  replaced with “Riverside Museum”.    The museum, which maintained an adult education program, remained open for decades, until the building was sold and then operated as a traditional rental complex until its conversion to a cooperative in 1988.

On December 13, 1947    Nicholas Roerich died in India in his estate.  His body was cremated and its ashes buried on a slope facing the mountains he loved and portrayed in many of his nearly seven thousand works. 
Two years later  a group of museum workers devoted to the Roerich obtained a  new premises for the Museum,  acquired a considerable portion of the paintings   they could find and established a trust to maintain the museum. More than 150 works by Nicholas Roerich are now exhibited in the Museum. On the first three floors there are exhibition halls, on the others – offices, archives, and library.
There is an old Steinway  piano, from the 1920s on the first floor of the museum.  When I entered the   museum last week  I  was the only visitor. There was a young woman playing   the piano. The sounds of the classical music filled the space and created a magic background to the paintings on the walls. I spent more than two hours in the museum. It was a wonderful!
Every Sunday at 5PM there is a music concert in museum and it is free!

Donald Trump: indoor space for the cold weather

It is so cold this week in New York!  And it will be cold the next week too! So I even do not want to write about anything outside- I'd like to talk about something interesting that you can find indoors- but without spending money! 
There  is a very good abbreviation in New York:  POP- privately owned public space.  During the winter season, indoor heated POPS are a pedestrian’s and tourist's  best friend.     The 1961 Zoning Resolution inaugurated the incentive zoning program in New York City. The program encouraged private developers to provide spaces for the public within or outside their buildings by allowing them greater density in certain high-density districts. I wrote about  the history of POPs in one of my posts.

Now I'd like to tell  you about one of my favorite public indoor spaces and about the man  well known  to every newyorker.
Donald Trump is  American business magnate, television personality, author and actor.  He  has an estimated net worth of $3.9 billion according to Forbes as of 2014.

His father Fred C. Trump was  one of the last of New York City's major postwar builders. Fred  Trump  built more than 27,000 apartments in the neighborhoods of Coney Island,  Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay and Brighton beach in Brooklyn.
My mom and dad live in Shore Haven Apartments in  Bensonhurst that Fred  Trump built in 1949. My daughter's mother-in-law lives in Trump village   near Brighton beach,  built by Fred Trump in 1963.

In the mid-70's, Mr. Trump lent support -- and a small amount of money -- to his son Donald's aspirations of becoming a developer .  Recently, Donald Trump said he was happy his father stuck to Brooklyn and Queens. ''It was good for me,'' the developer said, chuckling. ''You know, being the son of somebody, it could have been competition to me. This way, I got Manhattan all to myself!''  And Donald really have   Manhattan- the buildings that have the word 'trump' in their name  could be seen all over New York:  on Fifth Avenue and near United Nations, near Columbus circle and in downtown.

Donald  began his career at his father's company,  building houses in Queens. In 1971, Trump moved to Manhattan.  In 1979 Trump purchased the existing eleven-story property  on the corner of Fifth Avenue and  East 56 street  with the goal of constructing the first super-luxury high rise property in New York to include high–end retail shops, office space and residential condominiums.  The building   was finished  in 1983.  There are   68 floors in this  mixed-use skyscraper.  A concrete hat-truss at the top of the building ties exterior columns with the concrete core, increasing resistance against lateral forces such as wind and minor earthquakes.  At the time of completion the Trump Tower was the tallest such building in the world. The  residential condominiums comprise floors 30 through 68, with office, retail and fine dining space below.

The building  is best known for its lavish atrium, which reaches six stories high. There is an  illuminated cascading waterfall, which sits directly across from the entrance. The walls are covered with pink marble and the widespread use of brass and mirrors is apparent as soon as one enters the lobby area. The atrium  is a  vertical shopping center, in which visitors are guided along escalators and walkways which lead to balconies that open up to specialty shops.
The Atrium has played host to many prestigious events including Luciano Pavarotti, Miss USA and The First Minister of Scotland . When there are no any parties the access to the atrium is free to everybody from 8am to 10pm.
There are   two outdoor landscaped terraces on upper floors that are very beautiful in summer. To get there you have to take one of the elevators off the Fifth Avenue entrance. The fourth floor terrace    is a petite garden space with trees, planters and  comfortable polished granite ledge seating . The recently renovated and more ambitious landscaped terrace on the north side of the fifth floor is currently less used.

There is a Trump grill that works  from 11:30AM to 4PM, cafe (8AM – 5PM) and   Starbucks  (  8am-8pm) in the atrium. Starbucks  is  on a small 2nd-floor bridge the overlooks the entranceway and  it  is really pretty. There is a restroom on the second floor , and there is a  passageway that connects the Trump covered pedestrian space to the indoor spaces at 590 Madison Avenue.  I plan to write about the space on Madison in one of my next posts.

Kalustyan’s- the best selection of spices in New York!

The house N123  on  Lexington in Midtown has some notable history. It was the home of the 21st president of the USA. Chester  Arthur   took his oath in the   office in this house  immediately after  the death of the 20th president Garfield.   Chester  is  the  only president besides Washington to take the oath in New York City.

But New Yorkers know this address not because of the 21st president. Since 1944, the Indian grocery Kalustyan’s has occupied the first floor of 123 Lexington Ave, the same space that was  the office of Chester  Arthur.  

Kerope Kalustyan  came to the US in the 1940s to export steel to Turkey but  quickly turned to importing food products from the Middle East and India. After Kerope  retired  his former employee John Bas bought the store.  Bas, in turn sold the shop in 1988 to it s current owners, Sayedul Alam and Aziz Osmani from  Bangladeshi  in 1988. The Bas family now runs Kalustyan Corporation, a New Jersey-based importer.  At that time it was a small ethnic shop.

As Americans developed an interest in cooking, and opened up to flavours from around the world  the small shop  became larger and larger.   "Everyone comes here today!" exclaims  Osmani,  the owner. He said : "People come here from a trip to Mexico and tell us they tried a type of chillie or a sweet and do we have it? If we don't, we use the network of contacts we have built up and we get it, and then try it out in the store"
In this place you can find   ingredients  for cooking   from   Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, England, French, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Holland, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Spain, South-Africa, South-America, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Vietnam, West Indies, Yugoslavia and many other countries . 

The spices are arranged alphabetically, along with subcategories. For example, there is cinnamon. But first it's cassia cinnamon from Indonesia, then cinnamon from Vietnam, and what the label says is the most forward-flavored, from China, plus others from Ceylon and India, in stick, bark or powdered form. There are sweet paprikas, smoked paprikas, hot paprikas, Hungarina paprikas....

And it is not only about spices- you can find  kosher sugar cubes from Finland and   sugar from Bali, Indonesia, tapped from palm flower spikes and kettle boiled over an open hearth. There are about forty kinds of different coffee- beans and grounded , and almost two hundred different teas.  You can buy a lot of  spices  online but I advice you - visit the shop - the smell  is so inviting !