The American writer O.Henry and his favorite bar

William Sidney Porter is much better known under his pen name "O. Henry." He was born in   1862 in North Carolina and  moved to New York City in 1890 where over the next ten years before his death in 1910, he published over 300 stories and gained worldwide acclaim as America's favorite short story writer.  In New York he rented a room at  55 Irving Place. There was a tavern  on the corner across the street from O'Henry's room where    he did drink  frequently.

This  tavern even appeared  in one of his stories, The Lost Blend :" The saloon (whether blessed or cursed) stood in one of those little "places" which are parallelograms instead of streets, and inhabited by laundries, decayed Knickerbocker families and Bohemians who have nothing to do with either."
By the way there is a  scotch Whisky "The Lost Blend" with the name    inspired by the story about life in a New York bar featuring two business partners who try to recreate a blend of spirits with close to supernatural properties.

 Pete's Tavern is the oldest continuously operating restaurant  and  bar in New York City.  In the beginning, and during the early development times of Gramercy Park,  the building at 129 East 18th Street was the Portland Hotel - a local inn that provided rooms to residents and visitors to the area.  In 1852, a grocery and grog shop opened on the first floor of the hotel. In 1864 the store was converted into saloon.

A forty-foot, carved bar made of rosewood was installed atop the black and white tiled floors. The bar area featured a few tables and large wooden booths lined along the walls while the back dining room offered additional booths and tables. Gas lamps, including an ornate chandelier that hung over the cashier case, which remains to the right of the bar, lit the entire tavern.
Cafe was bought in 1899 by Irish brothers Tom and John Healy, and became Healy's.     In the early 1900s, it became a favorite of Tammany Hall politicians as their headquarters were located just a few blocks south on 14th street

During prohibition, when selling alcohol was illegal, the bar continued to operate disguised as a flower shop.
O' Henry supposedly wrote  The Gift of the Magi, sitting at one of the tables covered with red-and-white-checked cloths. The decor hasn’t changed and tavern  is proud of its heritage.   The name of the place was changed to Pete's when in Pete Belle purchased the bar in 1932.

The tavern atmosphere is superb and the sidewalk seats are on one of Manhattan's more charming streets. Pete’s doesn’t so much cater to the wealthy neighborhood dwellers it once did. It serves mostly as a place for happy-hour drinks and NYU students who wander into it during their nightly pub crawls. The beer selection isn’t extensive, but they do have a few Belgian and German brews on tap for those interested in an outside-the-box option. The prices are very reasonable- you can have  saloon Sandwiches served with cup of soup and potato salad for lunch for 10 dollars.

Angel of the waters in Central park

In 1853, the New York State government set aside 750 acres  in the middle of Manhattan to create landscaped public park.  Five years later   a contest was won  by  Calvert Vaux  and Frederick Law Olmsted. They submitted entry #33, also known as the "Greensward plan" .  In the  plan designers   envisioned a wide Promenade  that led to a grand terrace overlooking the Lake and fountain.

The terrace was one of the very first structures to have been built in Central Park. Construction began in 1859, continued throughout the Civil War, and was completed in 1863.
There are two levels on the terrace- lower and upper. These levels are connected by two grand staircases and a smaller one leading directly to the Mall.  The highlight of the arcade located on the lower level  is the magnificent tile ceiling made out of    more than 15,000 colorful  tiles, made by England's famed Minton Tile Company.   Bethesda arcade is the only place in the world where these Minton tiles are used for a ceiling. The same company did tiled flooring for the United States Capitol.  

The gorgeous focal point of the Bethesda Terrace, the Bethesda Fountain is one of the largest fountains in New York, measuring twenty-six feet high by ninety-six feet wide.

In 1864   sculptor Emma Stebbins  received the commission for the sculpture  in the middle of the fountain that would be the terrace's centerpiece. The sculpture  was the only major sculpture commissioned for the park during its original design and construction

Emma Stebbins was among the first notable American women sculptors in US. She was   born  in  1815  to a wealthy family in New York City. In 1857, sponsored by her brother Henry Stebbins, head of the New York Stock Exchange, Emma Stebbins moved to Rome. In Rome she met Charlotte Cushman, the most famous English-language actress of the mid-nineteenth century. Stebbins fall in love,  and they decided to spend their lives together.

Stebbins' best-known work is Angel of the Waters at Bethesda Terrace,  unveiled in late May 1873. A bronze figure with  her arms reach downward, blessing the water below,  celebrates  the clean water New Yorkers received from Croton Aqueduct, that  first brought fresh water to New York City in 1842.  The angel carries a lily in her left hand — a symbol of the water's purity, very important to a city that had previously suffered from cholera epidemic before the Croton system was established.

There are  four cherubs at the bottom of the fountain. They represent temperance, purity, health, and peace.

Cast in Munich, the statue was finally dedicated in Central Park five years later. At the dedication, the brochure quoted a verse from the Gospel of St. John 5:2-4: "Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called…Bethesda…whoever then first after the troubling of the waters stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had."
Over the decades, the terrace and fountain deteriorated. In a 1960’s  it   had become, as Newsweek went on to say, the “craziest, gayest gathering place in the city.” It was a hippie hangout, known for people protesting the Vietnam War, smoking marijuana, playing guitars, and causing general havoc. By the 1980s fountain was in terrible shape. It was littered with unwelcome carvings, graffiti, and broken stairs. In the 1980s, the tiles from the arcade ceiling were placed in storage.    

Between 1983 and 1987 much of the Terrace was closed.

 Twenty years after in 2007  thanks to generous donations the tiles were restored.   The Park Conservancy employed a team of seven conservation technicians who cleaned and repaired about 14,000 original tiles by hand.  Fully 8 million dollars was spent restoring the Terrace and Fountain to what they looked like when originally designed.

Lenin on the roof in East Village

Houston Street is one of the city’s major, and broadest, cross town arteries.  The street's name is pronounced "HOUSE-ton"  because it was named after  William Houstoun,  a lawyer from Georgia. William died in 1813, his body was brought to NYC from Savannah and interred at St. Paul’s Chapel. The spelling  of the street changed later but    pronunciation did not change.

 There are several interesting buildings on this street  and one of them is named Red Square. This 13-story, red-brick building with doorman and concierge, a sundeck, a private garden, video security and   spectacular views in all directions was built in    1989. It was developed by Michael Rosen. In 1983 Rosen came to New York as a junior professor   of radical sociology at NYU, and left five years later to develop real estate. "Red Square" was his first project.    According to Michael Rosen   web site,  his heroes have always been Martin Luther King, Jr.,   Mohandes Gandi, Walt Whitman, Hillel, Jesus, and Yasunari Kawabata.  In the article, published by New York Times  in April 1989  Michael said: "I thought it was a nice name, considering the location and the fact that the building is both red and squarish"  .

In 1989 Berlin wall collapsed, by the spring of 1989, the Soviet Union held its first multi-candidate elections in the newly established Congress of People's Deputies, Bush met with Gorbachev at Malta, the  dissolution of the USSR started- so maybe  the building was named "Read Square"    not  because of the shape of the building or the color of the walls? 
Let us look at the very top on the  "Read Square". There is an 18 foot statue of Lenin standing next to a rooftop clock. The  statue was originally created by Yuri Gerasimov, as a state commissioned work.   

  Michael Rosen told: The statue of Lenin was found by a partnership of 3 guys named Walker, Ursitti and McGinnis (WUM). They had an art business in NYC and the USSR, as that was stopping to become the USSR. They asked me to invest with them in a painting they said was worth quite a bit, and as a part of the deal they located a monumental Lenin statue because I wanted one for the roof of Red Square, and also a much smaller bronze statue of a grandfatherly Lenin sitting on a park bench

New York times in 1997  wrote: Red Square's name is related to changes in Eastern Europe,  Mr. Shaoul explained (...) Mr. Shaoul noted that Lenin faces Wall Street, capitalism's emblem, and the Lower East Side,  the home of the socialist movement.''
There is also a large clock on the side of the water towers. The clock's purpose was simple: cover the water tower and elevator roof . The clock's two faces, south and west, can be seen from the Brooklyn Bridge  and Broadway. The face of the clock is really unusual: the numbers are arranged in a very funny order: : 12, 1, 9, 6, 4, 10, 5, 11, 7, 2, 3 and 8.

The clock,   designed by graphic artist legend Tibor Kalman, a Hungarian immigrant ,  was based on an “Askew” watch featured in a Museum of Modern Art collection.  The clock  was created with the notion that as long as the familiar twelve was at the top it was immaterial where the rest of the numbers lie.  Born in Budapest in 1949, Kalman and his parents were forced to flee the Soviet invasion in 1956, and settle in US.   "I use contrary-ism in every part of my life. In design ... I'm always trying to turn things upside down and see if they look any better," -Tibor  said.
If you like the clock you can buy the watch on Amazon, also designed by Tibor where numbers are arranged  as 12,4,9,6,1,10,5,11,7,2,3,8


Roosevelt Island Tram-the only commuter cable car in North America

I  used New York city subway  million of times. Commuting in New York City, whether for work or pleasure, is rarely an enjoyable experience. I hate subway but I love ferries!  I  have been living in New York for last eighteen years  and there is the only one type of  public transportation in New York that I have never used !     I'm talking   about tram  between  Roosevelt Island and Manhattan. 
Roosevelt Island Tram is an aerial tramway that spans the East River and connects Roosevelt Island residents to Manhattan. The  Tram is the only commuter cable car in North America. There are two tram stations- one in Manhattan, on 2nd Ave, between 59th and 60th Streets, and another - on the opposite side of the East River, on Roosevelt Island. And by the way, East River is not a river at all! It is  tidal strait that separates Manhattan Island from Brooklyn and Queens.

The Tram is not operated by the MTA, but uses the same Metro Card System. Fares are the same as the NYC subway.  The Tram runs Sunday-Thursday from 6am to 2am and on Friday-Saturday from 6am to 3:30am every 15 minutes except during rush hours, when there is one every few minutes. Prior to construction of the tramway, Roosevelt Island was accessed by a trolley line that crossed over the Queensboro Bridge.  Trolleys   stop at the middle of the bridge to meet an elevator   that takes passengers down to the island.
Trolley service to the island ended  on April 7, 1957, and this was the longest running trolley line in the city—kept in operation because it was the only way to get to the island.  A bus line eventually replaced the trolley, but the trip was roundabout and inconvenient.

The Roosevelt Island Tramway was born in 1976  to shuttle residents to and from Manhattan as a temporary  service  until the subway station opened.  But when the subway finally connected to Roosevelt Island in 1989, the tram was too popular to discontinue.   
Built in 1976 by the Von Roll company of Switzerland, the Tram was a revolutionary concept for the time, more common to ski resorts than concrete jungles.
The problem was not the cost to build the tram. Rather it was  the cost of insurance needed to operate it.  It rose  year after year. From 1976 to 1986, premiums rose from $800,000 to $9 million, a staggering 1,025%, despite having an excellent safety record.  But real problems started when  September 2, 2005, when  more than 80 people were trapped on the tram for over 90 minutes. 

Nine months later,on April 18th, 2006, 69 people were stranded above  the East River in two trams when the Tram lost power.  Police commanders waited three hours to implement their rescue plan, holding out hope that   the power would come back on within a few hours. Once the rescue did begin, police needed two hours to set up the rescue bucket.  It took almost six hours, well into the early morning, for rescue workers to extract the passengers ten at a time using an industrial crane and rescue gondolas.

Tram was closed for $25 million renovation for almost a year in 2009  and reopened in 2010.      The system was transformed from Aerial Tram to a Funifor-type system,  that means vehicles  now operate independently of one another.
The old Roosevelt Island Tramway was featured   in the 2002 film Spider-Man, in which the Green Goblin throws Mary Jane Watson off the Queensboro Bridge, and Spider-Man must choose between saving her or passengers on the tramway. Shooting of this movie caused the Tram to be out of service for weeks.

I tired the tram several weeks ago for the first time - believe me, the ride  on the tram   provide a skyline view of the city like no other!

Grace church, Broadway and East 10

This summer is hot!   Two weeks ago, walking along the sunny streets of Manhattan I was dreaming about the cold place where I can spent just fifteen minutes. I passed by the beautiful church  at the corner of East 10th Street  and Broadway. I entered it... I was  greeted with a breath of fresh air  and the light from the stained glass.  There was nobody inside. The church was beautiful! I made some pictures, and later, returning home, read about the church.

The cornerstone for the Grace church was laid in 1843, and it was consecrated on March 7, 1846. The church architect   James Renwick, Jr  designed  it  in the French Gothic Revival style, that  had its roots in the French medieval Gothic architecture,   created in the 12th century. The church was built of  a marble,   quarried at the Sing Sing- Ossining Prison in Ossining, NY by its inmates.

At that time   James Renwick  was 24 years old. It  was  the first church that  he  built.   After designing Grace Church he went onto to do St. Patrick's Cathedral. 

When the church was built, it was a much plainer structure than it is now. The resources of the church were sufficiently strained so that the church steeple had to be built of wood instead of marble. 

The east window over the high altar was created by the English stained glass manufacturer Clayton and Bell in 1878. In 1863 John Richard Clayton experimented   with the manufacture of so-called pot metal or colored glass produced by simple  manufacturing techniques which brought about great variability in the texture and color of glass which is characteristic of ancient windows. In the late 1860s and 1870s the firm was at its busiest, and employees worked night shifts in order to fulfill commissions.

In the book "Sunshine and shadow in New York"  published in 1869, Matthew Hale Smith, Unitarian minister, journalist, and author wrote:
"For many years, Grace has been the centre of fashionable  New York. To be married or buried within its walls has been ever considered the height of felicity. Grace Church was the fashionable altar at which high New York exchanged its vows. It has  always been crowded with the intelligence, wealth, and  fashion of New York. Its singing has always been one of its great features, and has never been surpassed. To be married in Grace Church has been regarded as the height of earthly felicity."

In 2008, Grace Church signed a contract for a new organ to be built by Taylor & Boody of Staunton, Virginia. The winding of the organ is nineteenth century in style with large wooden wind canals and parallel-rise multiple fold reservoirs of large capacity. The organ was inaugurated on Friday evening, 26 April 2013 in a concert by the combined choirs of Grace Church.
 Based on the French tradition of “L’Auditions” still practiced in the great churches of Paris, the organ  sing for half an hour in the middle of the day. 

The repertoire for the meditations is drawn from across the diverse repertoire of the pipe organ.
Till September 9, 2015  there is a free 40 minutes of Bach every Wednesday, 12-20 - 12-50. Staring from September 9 till May 2015 every Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday and Friday you can have 40 minutes of organ music for free  at the same time, 12-20  - 12-50.  And on weekends, starting from September through May  there are 45-minuts  free informal meditation sessions.


Liederkranz der Stadt New York

There are more than 49 million people with German ancestry in the United States, a number that accounts for 16 percent of the American population. In the 1670s the first significant groups of German immigrants arrived in America, settling primarily in New York and Pennsylvania.  Europe's tragic loss of 1848 became America's gain. After the dissolution of the Frankfurt Parliament and the failure of the democratic revolution, thousands of Germans reluctantly left their homes to seek freedom and greater opportunity in the New World. Between 1847 and 1858 almost two million Germans entered the United States.  From 1850-1870 German was the most widely used language in the United States after English.

Immigration continued  during the 19th century, with eight million arrivals from Germany. By the 1850s, New York had become the principal port of arrival for German immigrants.
Germany has always been known for its brilliant musicians, such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Frederic Handel, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Joseph Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann. Professor  Albert Bernhard Faust of Cornell University, in his work, "The German Element in the United States" says: "The thesis may be maintained without hesitation, that the Germans are responsible for the development of musical taste in the United States." The symphony orchestras in Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston were founded by German Americans.

 One Sunday afternoon in the fall of 1846 a group of 150 men were assembled in the Shakespeare Hotel on William Street, New York City, as the result of an invitation published in the New York newspapers.
The speaker said: "Gentlemen, those who are really interested in the founding  of a male singing society in New York please contribute twenty-five cents each to a common fund to finance its organization."
The final accounting showed a fund of $6.25 contributed by twenty-five men. These twenty-five enthusiastic men who first met in the fall of  1846 finally organized the club under the name " Liederkranz der Stadt New York" at a meeting on January 9th, 1847.  The young but energetic society went into action immediately. Its first concert was held on May 17th of the same year at Apollo Hall.

By 1861, the society was invited to sing with the Philharmonic Society Orchestra, and its performances of Wagner excerpts at the Metropolitan Opera House and in Boston and Philadelphia were among the first performances of Wagner in the United States. The year 1861 brought new responsibilities. War disrupted the peaceful plans of the club. One-fifth of the former club's members (over 100) served in the Union Army— four returned with the rank of Brigadier General.
In 1919 the club changed the name to “The Liederkranz of the City of New York”. Its official language was  changed from German to English. After the Second World war the number of the club members drastically reduced and the club had to  sell his large building at eat 59 street and later   the Henry Phipps townhouse   was purchased.

Phipps estate in Long Island

 The Henry Phipps family of the United States was founded by Henry W. Phipps, Jr., the son of an English shoemaker who emigrated in the early part of the 19th century to Philadelphia.  His son Henry Phipps Jr. was a lifelong friend and business partner of Andrew Carnegie. The second-largest shareholder in Carnegie Steel, he had a brilliant mind for finance and accumulated one of the 100 largest fortunes in American history.  In 1901, Phipps sold his holdings in the Carnegie Company -- which he owned with Andrew Carnegie -- to J. P. Morgan for more than $50 million. He had lived in Pittsburgh, and in 1904 he built   an elegant 6-story granite and limestone townhouse    at 6 East 87th Street, on Manhattan's Upper Eastside across from Central Park and Fifth Avenue's Museum Mile.

Jay Phipps, son of Henry Phipps had bought over 175 acres of Long Island property and built there a magnificent mansion, the most well-preserved of the original gold coast estates. I wrote about his estate, Old Westbury Gardens, in one of my posts.

There is a beautiful statue  of  Polyhymnia, the Greek goddess of poetry, by Giuseppe Moretti just to the left of the house.  Unveiled in 1896, she commemorates the 50th anniversary of the German art and music society. The statue was relocated from the club's earlier headquarters on East 58th Street when it moved in 1949.
Giuseppe Moretti   was one of the world's most renowned sculptors. Moretti worked on the base of the Statue of Liberty, and his heroically scaled 56-foot-tall, 60-ton Vulcan, still the world's tallest cast-iron statue, won the Grand Prize at the St. Louis Exposition of 1904. 
In the middle of the 20th century, before the club, the mansion was used by  the   Soviet Government   as a private school for the children of the Soviet consulate employees.

Daytonian in Manhattan wrote
About 70 Russian children attended school in the former mansion, which was partially converted to living quarters for some teachers.  But the school had barely begun operating when building inspectors reported violations, saying “as a school it needed fire escapes, a sprinkler system to guard against fires, and other special facilities.”  As a private home, these were unnecessary; but now as a multiple dwelling and school facility, they were required by law.
The Russians claimed diplomatic immunity against New York law and refused to comply.  Mayor La Guardia preferred not to rock any diplomatic boats and looked the other way.  But in 1947, with a new administration, the City lost patience when the Soviets refused to pay its water bill.Threatened with eviction, the Soviet Government went to court.  Then, somewhat abruptly on June 2, 1948, newspapers announced “The Russian Private School at 6 East Eighty-seventh Street, conducted since 1941 for the children of Soviet Union officials and employes in the New York area, will be closed when its term ends tomorrow.”  The children, aged 9 to 18 years, were returned to the Soviet Union.

For many years the Liederkranz has (usually two per season) and occasional presentations of operas in concert.
  Every year Liederkranz Opera Theatre produces fully  staged operas and operettas, usually two per year. Last year the theatre produced  'Madame Butterfly'  by Puccini and ' La fille de regiment' by Donizetti. This year is not announced yet

Clinton Castle - immigration center, aquarium, ticket booth

A circular sandstone fort ,  located in Battery Park, in Manhattan  now serves as a ticket booth- you can buy tickets to the statue of Liberty ( if you did not do it online) .  Until recently, it was one of the most vitally involved structures in the city's life and history.
It was built at the beginning of nineteenth century.  At that time it was called West  Battery and was  intended to complement the three-tiered Castle Williams on Governors Island, which was East Battery, to defend New York City from British forces in the tensions that marked the run-up to the War of 1812.

The fort stands approximately two blocks west of where Fort Amsterdam was built in 1626, when New York City was known by the Dutch name New Amsterdam. Construction began in 1808 and was completed in 1811. The fort  was built on  a small artificial island  some 300 feet offshore  and never saw action in any war. It  was designed by engineer  Jonathan Williams, grandnephew of Benjamin Franklin who also   designed  Castle Williams on Governors Island .

West Battery fort was renamed Castle Clinton in 1815, its current official name, in honor of New York City Mayor DeWitt Clinton (who eventually became Governor of New York).
The US Army stopped using the fort in 1821 and it was leased to New York City as a place of public entertainment.   It served in turn as a promenade, beer garden, restaurant, exhibition hall, opera house, and theater.  Designed as an open-air structure it was eventually roofed over to accommodate these uses.  At that time it was named as Castle Garden. For $5, ticket holders can promenade around the walls, and sip mint juleps, ginseng, and punch liquor. 

The Revolutionary War hero, the French Marquis de La Fayette, was welcomed at the Castle by six thousand New Yorkers during his 1824 visit.  In 1825  the Castle was  lit with gas lights , among the first in the city  . In 1835   Samuel Morse demonstrated his telegraph to the public at the Castle, and in 1841 the first steam fire engine was demonstrated there.
Sometime after 1848, the water space between Castle Garden and the shore was filled in and incorporated into a twenty-four-acre green area called Battery Park. Previously, the Castle  had been connected to the mainland with a drawbridge.

On August 1, 1855, the Castle  became the Emigrant Landing Depot. From 1855 to 1890, the Castle was America's first official immigration center.  More than 10 million immigrants entered the United States through Castle Garden.
In the first half of the 19th century, most immigrants arriving in New York City landed at docks on the east side of the tip of Manhattan, around South Street., functioning as the New York State immigrant processing facility (the nation's first such entity).

A dock, which received the tug-propelled barges and steamers loaded with the emigrants who had been taken off the oceangoing vessels, was constructed on  Castle Garden’s western side. When the inspection was completed, the emigrants were ushered  into Castle Garden and marched up to a square enclosure in the center. Barriers were installed on each side to ensure that all were registered. Those who spoke German or French were requested to enter the alley to the right and those who spoke English to enter the alley on the left.  When the registration process was completed, single individuals and heads of families were asked their destinations. Once a destination was determined, the emigrants were directed to counters with  maps of all the railroad and steamboat routes in the United States.
There were two washrooms in the Castle at that time. On one side of each room was a bath large enough to accommodate a dozen emigrants.  Every emigrant landing at Castle Garden was washed clean with soap before he or she was permitted to leave. I f the emigrants were required to stay a day or two,   rooms with benches  was available to shelter them. As many as three thousand people slept there at a time.    Bread, cheese, coffee, and milk were available for purchase .  There was also a large   kitchen  with hot  water where emigrants  were allowed to cook anything they wanted.
Soon  after the Garden was opened, a New York reporter, who visited the Castle,
"The large hall of the Garden is a capital place for young Europe to enjoy itself in, during the brief hours of his tarry in our City, on his route westward. A tall fountain feeds a noble basin of water near the spot where the old stage was, and cools the air even at the noon of the heated term. The children were rollicking about it—sailing their paper boats, and full of unrestrained glee. The women sat in groups, talking in some of those crooked old-country languages that make us wonder how any talking can be done there until the people come of age—some knitting, some cutting and eating slices of German rye bread and cheese, some patching and fixing up the wardrobes of their family".
  It was operated  as Immigration Center   until April 18, 1890, when the Federal Government took over control of immigration processing and  opened the larger and more isolated Ellis Island facility. Most of Castle Clinton's immigrant passenger records were destroyed in a fire that consumed the first structures on Ellis Island on 15 June 1897,  but it is generally accepted that over 8 million immigrants (and perhaps as many as 12 million) were processed during its operation from its opening until the end of 1890.
Among the   well-known Castle Garden immigrants  were  the founder of the Universal Studios Carl Laemmle from Germany,  illusionist Harry Houdini and newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer from Hungary  and     mechanical engineer an physicist Nikola Tesla  from Serbia. 

 In  1896 Castle was remodeled   and reopened as the New York City Aquarium. The exotic fish and Beluga whale attracted thousands of visitors, with over 30,000   on opening day.  It was one of the city's most popular attractions, admitting over 2.5 million visitors a year . A favorite pastime on April Fool's Day was to leave a message for a fellow worker that said."Mr. Fish called. Please call him back. Whitehall 4-1560." The number was that of the Aquarium. 

In 1941  city planner  Robert Moses wanted to demolish  the structure down completely to free the space  for a new bridge connecting Battery with Brooklyn. The bridge was never built, landmark was saved, but    the aquarium was closed and not replaced until Moses opened a new facility on Coney Island in 1957. The fish were relocated to the Bronx Zoo and later to Coney Island.
Castle Clinton’s roof was removed . All that remained were the fort's original walls.  Castle and finally became a national monument in 1950.   A major rehabilitation took place in the 1970s.

 Despite all the roles this monument has played, it is nothing but a ticket booth now.  I think the that majority of people  coming   to  buy tickets to Ellis Island and  statue of Liberty  have no clue about the history of the Castle Clinton.  
 Just for several weeks in summer Clinton Castle is used as a setting   for the
free Shakespeare's  play "Measure for Measure"- performances Tuesdays - Sundays, July 21 - August 9.  New York Classical Theatre, founded in 2000, performs plays every season throughout New York City’s Central  Park,  Battery Park and historic Castle Clinton  and other  places. Open rehearsals take place in each venue.

Katz’s Delicatessen, where Harry met Sally

Katz’s Delicatessen is no secret to New Yorkers.  It is located on the corner of Ludlow and Houston Streets on Manhattan's Lower East Side.  Deli has been around for a long time. The story started in 1888 when two  brothers of an Yiddish poet  Reuven Iceland ( from Galicia)  opened  a small deli and named it  "Iceland brothers". in 1903 Willy Katz join them, and in 1910 with his cousin  Benny bought  deli. 

The deli was renamed Katz's Delicatessen.  A few years later, in 1917,  Willy and Benny  took another partner, their landsman named Harry Tarowsky. 

 In those days the Lower East Side was a   home to a population of largely Yiddish speaking Jews. United by their immigrant backgrounds and similar traditions, this insular neighborhood became a tight community.   In the early 20th century folks would gather at Katz’s to plan, gossip, and eat. 

It became a tradition on Friday nights for hot dogs and beans to be served to the locals.The era of the early-to-mid 1900s witnessed the rise of Yiddish theater groups in NYC's East Village and Lower East Side.  Actors, singers, and spectators were often found at Katz's before or after shows. The place offered the Old World charm and traditional eats ,   that Jewish immigrants found comforting.  Like any good deli at the time, meat was available by the pound, and a small menu featured pastrami sandwiches.

At the end of  19th  century  Jewish Immigrants from eastern Europe -   Bessarabia and Romania-  introduced  pastrami   to the United States.    The raw beef  is brined, partially dried, seasoned with herbs and spices, then smoked and steamed.   In North America, pastrami is  sliced and served hot on rye bread.
In addition to pastrami, Katz's corned beef has long been a favorite in the neighborhood - along with brisket, frankfurters, potato pancakes (latkes), and matzo ball soup.

During World War II, Katz’s gained global fame with its “Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army” slogan. The owner's three sons were, in fact, serving overseas. 
The deli now offers the same deal that it did in WWII: Buy a hard or soft salami, and they’ll ship it to any U.S. military address  , anywhere in the world.

You should probably encourage your favorite recruit to share some with their friends, however — even hard salami doesn’t stay fresh for long in the middle of the desert.

After Willy Katz died, his son Lenny took over.  In 1980, both Lenny Katz and Harry Tarowsky died, leaving the store to Lenny’s son-in-law and Harry’s son. On the 100th anniversary of its founding in 1988   the two families decided to sell the business   to longtime restaurateur Martin Dell, his son Alan Dell, and Martin’s son-in-law Fred Austin . The Dell family still operates deli to this day.

On May 30, 2015 Daily news published an article about deli:  " Four presidents have eaten at Katz’s.   Katz’s serves up a mouth-watering mountain of meat every week: 15,000 pounds of pastrami; 8,000 pounds of corned beef and 4,000 hot dogs.  Katz’s franks and beans became the stuff of lore — but it wasn’t until the infamous Meg Ryan fake orgasm scene in the 1989 film “When Harry Met Sally” that Katz’s became a pop culture phenomenon. 

A neon sign that reads “Where Harry met Sally . . . hope you have what she had!” hangs above the table where the scene was filmed "

Rumor has it that Jake Dell, Katz’s owner, might be looking to open the deli’s second-ever outpost inside Dekalb Market Hall in Downtown Brooklyn.

Bush, Reagan and Gorbachev summit on Governor’sIsland

One of New York’s last leftover spaces,   almost forgotten, The Governors Island  is open for visits till September 27 this year.  This $75 million urban Eden, operated by a private nonprofit trust but paid for mostly by the city has a lot of things  to offer. A five-minute ferry ride from Brooklyn ( on weekends only) and Manhattan, it feels distant yet impossibly close.
The 172-acre Governors Island   off the southern tip of Manhattan  is the oldest European settlement in New York.  Since 2003, a former U.S.  Army military base and U.S. Coast Guard station, 92 acres of the island are open to the public during the summer.  It became one of my favorite summer attractions. I wrote about the Island last year and at  the beginning of this summer. 

This time I'd like to tell not about the whole island but only about one house.   The Admiral's House is located in the Nolan Park area of the island.  In the first half  of the nineteenth century  the prominent New York architect Martin  E. Thompson,  best  known for its design of the Arsenal in Central Park, built the Commanding Officer's Quarters as a part of Nolan park, the first  area in the park, developed by the Army.  

 Nolan Park is a bucolic, four acre manicured green, surrounded by houses and buildings that date back to 1840s.  When the Island is open to the public, Nolan Park is generally used for picnicking and other leisure activities. The park is surrounded by houses,   several of them   are open to the public with art exhibitions during the open season.  The Admiral's house was constructed in the 1843   and served as the home of the island's highest ranking Army officers.
 The symmetrical form of the Greek Revival was changes in 1886 by the addition of a southern wing.  The   cannons,  captured during the Spanish-American War  and central flower bed in front of the house were also added during  1936   renovation which transformed the building to more or less its current appearance.

In 1966 the Army left Governor’s Island, turning it over to the United States Coast guard which headquartered its Third Coast Guard District and the Atlantic Area here, creating the largest Coast Guard base in the world. The Commanding Officer’s Quarters was renamed The Admiral’s House.
 On December 7, 1988, President Ronald Reagan and [President-Elect] George H. W. Bush met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Governors Island in this house,  then the headquarters for the Coast Guard.


In his 1998 book about foreign policy, former President George Bush recalled an important meeting at Governors Island with the leader of the Soviet Union after that historic speech: “As the ferry carrying Mikhail Gorbachev slowly approached the Coast Guard station at Governors Island through the gray waters of New York harbor, a feeling of tense expectation spread across the waiting knots of US and Soviet officials.
The arrival field had been largely cleared of spectators and Coast Guardsmen and their families peered  from windows, eagerly waiting to glimpse the Soviet leader as he stepped out onto the island. It was a crisp December 7, 1988, and I was looking toward seeing Gorbachev, who had just finished a major address to the United Nations General Assembly–one filled with far-reaching arms control proposals. He was on his way to meet with President Ronald Reagan for a brief summit, which had been tacked on to the tail end of his visit to New York.”

New York Times in 1998 wrote: "The major theme of the meeting on Governors Island between the Soviet and American leaders was continuity. While Mr. Reagan looked back on his four previous meetings with Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Bush's presence symbolized the expressed intentions of both nations to strengthen the bridges between them. Mr. Reagan captured this mood of memories and hopes when he raised his glass for an ''informal and spontaneous'' toast at the luncheon, offering warm words for Mr. Gorbachev. ''This is my last meeting,'' Mr. Reagan said. ''I'd like to raise a toast to what we have accomplished, what we together have accomplished, and what you and the Vice President after Jan. 20 will accomplish together.'' 'Our First Agreement'
In response, Mr. Gorbachev stood, raised his glass toward Mr. Bush and said, ''This is our first agreement.''

The Soviet leader then turned to Mr. Reagan, his partner and rival during four years of bargaining, and said: ''Thank you very much for the meeting. There is a new atmosphere and a new rhythm in our negotiations.''
 The Admiral’s House , although still  empty, is open to the public by the National Park Service.