SeaGlass Carousel in Battery Park

Battery Park is a packet of open space in crowded Lower Manhattan.   In 1623 Dutch settlers   landed here and later   established New Amsterdam. The twenty-five acre park  has long been a favorite destination for tourists and nearby office workers. It offers  a tang of salt breeze and views of passing vessels and the Statue of Liberty. This park is a home to Castle Clinton and a World Trade Center Sphere.

New York was severely affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012- the damage to the park was complex and costly.  Now almost all park of the park are restored. There is even a new addition - a    SeaGlass Carousel, that opened in the second part of August this year. New Yorkers  and tourists can take a ride and see city views from a new perspective. Instead of a single turntable that moves in one direction, there are  three turntables that spin inside a larger disc in this carousel. 

 SeaGlass has 18 axes of movement, compared with just two in a traditional carousel. "It could feel like you're floating up or dropping down, or moving with a group that's right beside you, so it feels like a school of fish," said the constructor of  the SeaGlass,  Weisz Claire.  Weisz is an architect   and a founding principal of WXY. There are  30 iridescent glass sea creatures inside the carousel,   that cost $16 million to build. Half of this money,  $8 million,   was paid for by the city. The ride is scored by adaptations of classics: Mozart's 40th Symphony and Prokofiev's "Dance of the Knights" from Romeo and Juliette.

Rides on the Seaglass Carousel cost $5 and last about three and a half minutes.

It took 10 years to build the carousel. In 2007 Curbed wrote: The Battery Park "Sea Life" Carousel, which would be made of "smart glass" that goes from transparent to dark blue with images of fish projected on it, is still chugging along. into it. The Battery Conservancy is trying to raise public money to cover $6 million in construction costs, about $1.65 million of which has been raised. There's also a need for $5 million in private money for maintenance, with $2.4 million raised. The other part of the plan is a ferry from the Battery to Coney Island and the Rockaways.

Frankly speaking, I think that New York city does not such a pricy  project  - I prefer to have a ferry. But nobody asked my opinion - the carousel was built and the project about the ferry from Coney Island to   Battery Park was forgotten.

Museum of the American Indian

The Smithsonian Institution was established in 1846  "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge". Smithsonian  is  administered by the Government of the United States.  It is  the world's largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities.

17 Smithsonian  museums and galleries are in Washington, DC and only two-  American Indian Museum  and  Cooper Hewitt  Design Museum are in New York. Cooper Hewitt  Design Museum opened less than  a year ago after expensive renovation- I wrote about the museum in one of my posts.  Indian Museum has three facilities: the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (opened on September 21, 2004),  Cultural Resources Center in Maryland and a the oldest one, permanent museum in New York.
Hispanic Society of America
Museum of the American Indian in New York City  was established in 1916. The founder of the Museum is  George Gustav Heye.  George had a   degree in electrical engineering from Columbia College (now Columbia University) and got his   first artifact  while superintending railroad construction in   Arizona. He accumulated the largest private collection of Native American objects in the world. The collection was initially stored in his  apartment in New York City, and later in a rented room. In 1916, with the collection totaling 58,000 objects, Heye was offered a building site at 155th and Broadway in New York in a new complex of cultural organization - Audubon Terrace. Now there is  a  museum "Hispanic Society of America"   and reference library.  I wrote about this beautiful and free museum in one of my posts.  Museum was officially opened in 1922,  delayed by WWI. 

  Starting from 1994 Museum of the American Indian  occupies two floors of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Lower Manhattan. I wrote about the building in my previous post.  The collection in the museum was assembled by George  Heye   during a 54-year period and   includes more than 800,000 objects, as well as a photographic archive of 125,000 images.
Ranging from ancient Paleo-Indian points to contemporary fine arts, the collections include works of aesthetic, religious, and historical significance as well as articles produced for everyday use.

55 percent of the collection is archaeological, 43 percent ethnographic, and 2 percent modern and contemporary arts. The collections cover the whole American continent, not only the current U.S. geographical zone. There is a lots of information on all of the history surrounding the different Native American tribes, their ways of life, their origins, beliefs and so much more.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary,  museum  displayed 300 pieces of jewelry made by one Native American family in New Mexico.  “Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family” will run till January 10, 2016.  Various types of turquoise, coral and opal are used to create the pieces along with other materials, such as lapis lazuli   set with gold and silver.  Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum.

Its natural color ranges from sky blue to yellow-green.  “Turquoise is a great example of a secular and sacred stone,” says Lois Sherr Dubin, the curator for the “Glittering World” exhibition. “There is no more important defining gem stone in Southwest jewelry and part of the exhibition’s purpose is to expose people to turquoise that is not dyed or stabilized, but is the authentic stone.”

The Navajo are the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States.  The Navajo language was used to create a secret code to battle the Japanese  in WWII. The Navajo Nation is the largest land area retained by a U.S. tribe and is managed via agreements with the United States Congress as a sovereign Indian nation. In the middle of the    nineteenth century, the Navajos had learned how to work with silver from the Spanish and pueblos.    Navajos started  to combine silver with the Navajo turquoise. To the Navajo tribe, the color turquoise represents happiness, luck, and health.

The Alexander Hamilton Custom House

Custom House at Bowling Green
A superb example of Beaux Arts architecture  - the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House - is located at the southern tip of Manhattan, next to Battery Park, on the site of Fort Amsterdam, the fortification constructed by the Dutch West India Company to defend their operations in the Hudson Valley.
Constitution of the United States went into effect on March 4, 1789.  A bit more than four months later, on July 31 of that year, the U.S. Customs Service started operating, among the very first of the federal agencies to come to life.   On August 5, 1789 Captain James Weeks sailed his brigantine  into New York harbor with a miscellaneous cargo from   Italy. The duty on the cargo -- the first such payment ever made to the United States Treasury --was $774.41.

 Before the imposition of the income tax in 1916, customs duties were the greatest single source of revenue for the U.S. government, and the Port of New York was the country's most prosperous trade center. From 1790 to 1799, New York Custom House was in downtown,  at S. William Street, opposite Mill Lane.
From 1799 to 1815, Customs house moved to the Government House, that was built exactly on the same  spot, where the first fort of New York, Fort Amsterdam was located and where in our days you can see an impressive structure of the Museum of American Indians.
26 Wall Street

The Government House was built in  1790 by the state  for President George Washington but Washington  never occupied it.  Before the house  was completed, in 1790,  the federal government moved temporarily to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; then permanently to Washington, D.C.   In 1815 the land was sold to the public and the Government House building demolished. In 1842 Custom House moved to 26 Wall Street.

The house that everybody know now as Federal Hall, was the first house built specially  for New  York Customs.  Twenty years later   Customs Office, having outgrown the space, vacated the building and  moved  to 55 Wall Street, Merchant's Exchange Building.

55 Wall street
And again very soon the place became  cramped  for the customs  and in 1899 the city held a competition for the design of a grand new home.  Twenty firms competed, and each of the firms was allowed to suggest two jury members. The jury, after requesting that the finalists further develop their designs and after meeting jointly and separately with the finalists, selected Cass Gilbert project. Before this building   Gilbert   designed the new state capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota.
This  job brought him national attention, but newyorkers primary know this architect because in  1913 he built  Woolworth  building,  that had been the world’s tallest building for over a decade at that time.  
Paris Opera Housed 

 The seven story Customs House contains 450,000 square feet of space and sits on three city blocks. It was richly decorated inside and out, including dozens of sculptures and carved images.  The inspiration for the Custom House was derived from the Paris Opera House, the most important Beaux-Arts building of the period.  The Palais Garnier,  a 1,979-seat opera house,    was built in Paris from 1861 to 1875  by French architect Jean-Louis Charles Garnier. 

The Customs building  incorporates Beaux Arts and City Beautiful movement planning principles, combining architecture, engineering, and fine arts.
 Sculpture was so important for the architect that  there were independent contracts for four sculpture groups in front of the building and standing sculptures above the main cornice.

"Continents", four female figures of limestone done by the sculptor  Daniel Chester French,  sit on large entrance pedestals and represent America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. Daniel  French  is one  of the most productive and acclaimed American sculptors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  He  is best known for his design of   the statue of Abraham Lincoln  in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C
When viewed from left to right, the first sculpture of the set is "Asia".

The central figure of this group is a woman, seated with eyes closed, her hands resting on her knees.  On her lap there is a small Buddha, and in one hand she holds a lotus flower, with a serpent wrapped around the stem. The three figures behind "Asia", one of which is bound, represent, in French's words, "the hordes of India, and the hopelessness of the life of so many of the inhabitants."

 "America"  is to the right of Asia.   A young  woman  sit  at the edge the  chair with a torch in one hand, and a bushel of corn is on her lap.   Her right foot, extended forward, leans on the head of an image of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. 
Native American wearing a warrior's headdress is    behind here   right shoulder. 
"Europe"  sits  on a throne decorated with a frieze from the Parthenon in Athens with her   right hand  resting on the bow of a ship with a lion's head, symbolizing the conquests of Europe.    "Africa" is     nude  and sleeping.


Nude- because for most people of that time there were only naked tribes there   and the "sleeping continent" was a common way of referring to Africa.     
Statues representing 12 seafaring nations stand above the front facade’s columns; the Corinthian capitals of the columns include the head of Mercury (representing commerce); second-story windows are topped by heads representing the “eight races of mankind.”  Among  the 12 top Nations there is Belgium. The statue was originally "German" , but  was  changed after the outbreak of World War I.

The murals in the great rotunda  inside the hose were added later. In 1936, during the Great Depression, the Works Projects Administration commissioned murals   from Reginald Marsh. The artist painted eight large murals depicting ocean liners at various stages of arriving in the Port of New York. In between the murals there are eight smaller panels of depicting explorers.  On one of the murals we can see   Lightship LV-87, also known as AMBROSE.

Great Rotonda
It was built in 1907 as a “floating lighthouse” to guide ships safely from the Atlantic Ocean into the broad mouth of lower New York Bay.  During the spring and summer, you can    board Ambrose that now is the part of  the South Sea Port Museum in New York,     and tour this original lightship, complete with working “radio shack.”  Marsh and his assistants, working fourteen-hour days, completed the murals on December 27, 1937.  The project cost the federal government $1,560.  The Customs House remained the primary tenant at this residence until 1973 when it moved to   Six World Trade Center.   Subsequent to 9/11 the offices were dispersed throughout New York.
Ambrose (Mural on the wall)

The building was empty for a decade, and slated for demolition until Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan sponsored a bill to restore the Custom House.
Now, the building is shared by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the National Archives, and the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution). You can read about  the Museum in my next post.

World Financial Center - Brookfield Place

Brookfield Place ( World Financial Center)complex was designed by César Pelli,   an Argentine American architect known for designing some of the world's tallest buildings.
It was   built  between 1982 and 1988 at a cost of $60 million on landfill that was  excavated during the building of the World Trade Center, as well as garbage, dirt and debris. The most remarkable part of the complex was its' atrium- Winter Garden with palms.
10-story enclosed glass atrium structure with a glass and steel telescopic barrel vault roof and cascading marble semicircular staircase, leading to a grove of 45-foot palm trees,  was connected to the World Trade Center via a 400 ft pedestrian bridge.
Every spring  starting from 1991 there was an Orchid  show in Winter Garden. I visited the show in summer, 2001 -  it was spectacular! More than 70,000 people attended the four-day show.  Exhibitors displayed more than 5,000 flowers. 
On September 11, 2001  columns from World Trade Center 1 hit the east end of   Winter Garden structure. The bridge  that linked Financial Center to WTC was destroyed.    Two of the palms perished immediately, when huge pieces of steel from the north tower pierced the skylight and rooted in the atrium floor.  The remaining trees were thickly coated with toxic dust.
The collapse of the twin towers closed the garden for a year. The atrium underwent a $50 million reconstruction, which included replacing 60,000 square feet of marble and 2,000 panes of glass or nearly 70% of the arched ceiling, half of the grand staircase and the marble flooring, and all 16 of the 40-foot Washingtonia   palm trees. 

In 2002 New York Times published an article about Winter Garden:
"When the Washingtonia palms were first selected for the Winter Garden  ,  it was an experiment  said Mr. Sullivan, one of the original consultants. ''We didn't know that they could survive in such an arid space with such low light levels.''
The new palms had been growing in Florida, which supplies some 70 percent of the world's indoor trees. The 15-year-old trees, which had been grown from seedlings in northern Florida, were moved down south to a 50-foot-tall shade house in Wellington, the only one of its height in the country. It approximated the light-level conditions of the Winter Garden atrium with black polyurethane shade cloth. Before 9-11 the palms had full sun only from 2:30 p.m. till dusk; now they'll have an extra half day of light.
For the 1,500-mile trip north, the palms were wrapped in burlap: four trees fit on each 48-foot-long flatbed trailer, the longest that is permitted in Manhattan. The original Winter Garden trees were replaced after nine years, weakened by low light levels and urban stress. The new trees are expected to flourish longer, thanks to the enhanced exterior light and a backup bank of 60 ceiling sun lamps putting out 30,000 watts of illumination, more than in some baseball stadiums."

Reopened on September 17, 2002, the Winter Garden was the first major structure to be completely restored following the attacks. President George W. Bush was present at the reopening ceremony.

In  October 201 , 3.1 million of the five-building complex’s 8.5 million square feet were up for grabs — a staggering 41 percent vacancy. To attract new tenants  Brookfield has embarked on a $250 million renovation that was   completed by 2014. Today, the vacancy rate is under 5 percent.

Together the whole complex  covers eight million square feet by the Hudson River, and includes the headquarters of Merrill Lynch, American Express, and Dow Jones.  Restaurants and bars are designed to look like they occupy an outdoor courtyard with palms, have "open-air" seating. The perimeter of the second floor overlooks the Courtyard and hosts exhibits in a gallery space.

European-style marketplace,    adjusted to the   Garden  with palms, opened two years ago. A French marketplace with a patisserie, chocolatier and  full service restaurant opened half a year ago. The outdoor plaza, which connects   Winter Garden to the Hudson River, is surrounded with beautifully landscaped seasonal gardens along the riverside and reflecting pools.  

 Winter Garden is home to the Arts and  Events Program, a year-round series of free performances, exhibitions and festivals. While most of the performances take place in the Winter Garden, special summer events take place on the outdoor Plaza, and exhibitions and installations are housed in the Courtyard Gallery.

For those in the area who need an hour or two to rest, recharge, and regroup - there is no better place than Brookfield Place. It is warm and dry in winter, and  refreshing in hot summer. Come here during sunset for spectacular sights.

14 years after 9/11

All these pictures I made today, 09/11/2015 

Ground Zero Sphere at Battery Park.
 Read the story about  the Sphere in my post.

One world trade center ("freedom tower")
Read the story about  the tower in my post

One world trade center ("freedom tower")
Read the story about  the tower in my post.

One world trade center ("freedom tower")
Read the story about  the tower in my post.

 World Trade Center Transportation Hub

World Trade Center Transportation Hub

Mennonite Choir Sings near st. Paul's chapel

Part of the wall of Century 21 department store

The street near  Century 21 department store

The Trinity Root  in the south courtyard of Trinity Church.
 Read the story about the sculpture in my post.

The street near Century 21 department store


Reflecting Absence- September 11, 2001 memorial pools.

The Twin Towers were the centerpieces of the World Trade Center complex.  They were the tallest buildings in New York City, and for a brief period upon their completion, they were the tallest buildings in the world. 

 On the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists from al-Qaeda, hijacked four commercial airplanes and  crashed  two of the planes into the upper floors of the  Twin  towers.  The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people from 93 nations. 2,753 people were killed in New York.
 Ten years later, on the 10th anniversary of the attack the September 11th memorial opened.  The centerpiece of the memorial,  called Reflecting Absence, is a pair of pools that correspond to the vacant footprints of the old Twin Towers.  Although officially described as “reflecting pools", they  are not exactly pools but  two  subterranean waterfalls.
The  waterfalls are  surrounded by the names of all the victims of the 2001 and 1993 attacks. The two fountains together make up the nation’s largest manmade waterfalls. Memorial was designed by the Israeli-American architect Michael Arad, who, in collaboration with the landscape architect Peter Walker, won the competition in 2004.

Contest entry from
Dominican Republic
The competition began April 28, 2003.  Invitation to Compete, signed by Pataki and Bloomberg, said: "Dear Competitors, On behalf of all New Yorkers, we welcome your participation in the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition. This is the most significant public memorial project in our City’s recent history, and we are depending on the creative community for your vision and insight".

Contest entry form Moscow, Russia
There were five physical program elements that  should be used as a key in each competitor’s submission:
             Recognize each individual who was a victim of the September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993 attacks
             Provide an area for quiet visitation and contemplation
             Provide an area for the families and loved ones of victims
             Provide a separate accessible space to serve as the final resting-place for the unidentified remains from the World Trade Center Site
             Make visible the footprints of the original World Trade Center Towers

The contest garnered 5,201 entries from 63 nations and 49 US states out of 13,683 registrants from all 50 US states and 94 nations, making it the largest design competition in history.

The jury  consisted mostly of architects and artists. The  honorary member was David Rockefeller Sr., the oldest living member of the Rockefeller family and family patriarch. David Rockefeller is 100 years now and he is  the world's oldest billionaire. In 1960 David Rockefeller presented a plan for a world trade center along the East River of Manhattan.
The winners Michael Arad, the Israeli-American architect and Peter Walker, landscaping designer—were  announced  on January 14, 2004 in a press conference at Federal Hall in New York City.
In one of his interviews  Michael Arad  said: "I had been living in New York for about three years when the attacks happened, and I felt very much like a stranger within the city. Yet that experience, that crucible of fire, made me feel like a New Yorker. If you had told me a week before that that I would go buy an American flag and hang it out of my window, it would have seemed inconceivable to me. But that is exactly what I ended up doing."

The trees that were selected almost all come from within 500 miles of the WTC complex, the rest harvested from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and areas impacted by the attacks. The swamp white oak   was chosen specifically for its longevity—living, on average, 300-350 years—its natural beauty, with leaves that change to pink and gold in the fall, and its impressive height and tough nature.
From the designers of the Alhambra in the 14th century to a 20th- century sculptor like Isamu Noguchi, artists and architects have used water as an accent, its gentle burbling and rippling sounds creating an atmosphere of ease and contemplation.  "We haven't had any fountains this large in one place anywhere else in the country," said Port Authority Senior Engineer Edward McGinley.  "There's a lot of pumps, there's filters, there's mechanical filters to take sediment out, there's UV lights that take bacterial control, there's chemical additives."
A heating system will keep the water from freezing in winter and the waterfalls will be carefully regulated, particularly when there is heavy winds.  The entire volume of each fountain will circulate through the system every 22 minutes. And the fountains are designed to filter out coins in the likely event that visitors toss them into the pools of water.

Each day before the memorial opens to the general public, the staff places a white rose on top of the name of each victim who has a birthday.  There's at least one birthday for every day of the year, and six on Sept. 11 itself. The victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing will also have the same honor.

The idea came from staff and volunteers as they thought of more ways to personalize the memorial for each of the victims, said Anthony Guido, communications manager at the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. The birthday roses cost $2,500 a year, an expense that's built into the memorial's budget.

A visit to memorial  is a must for any first time visit to New York City.

9-11 and sycamore near the church

St. Paul's  chapel is the only surviving church in New York of the Revolutionary era. It is also the oldest public building in continuous use in Manhattan.  St. Paul's chapel was completed in 1766 on what was then the northern edge of the city. The giant old sycamore tree grew strong in the northwest corner of the church  cemetery.   For 150 years, it sheltered the chapel and the graves of Revolutionary War heroes and patriots buried there over two hundred years ago. 

On Sept. 11 more than 2 billion pounds of steel came crashing to the ground. The crash was so powerful it registered on the Richter scale. The chapel  was less that hundred feet from  tower Seven of the World Trade Center .  
It wasn’t until Sept. 14 that anyone was able to inspect what was left of St. Paul’s.  Miraculously, where workers expected to see a pile of rubble, they instead found a completely intact chapel. Not a window had been broken (one was cracked).  Not an inch of the walls or the roof had been compromised.
The sycamore saved the church.  The tree was crushed by a huge steel beam  blown from the tower. Inside St. Paul's Chapel, from the arched ceiling, fourteen colonial crystal chandeliers swayed but did  not fall.

  In the weeks that followed. St. Paul’s became a   place of worship and a place of rest for those who worked tirelessly at the epicenter of the tragedy.  Later the sycamore tree succumbed to the extensive damage from falling debris and was cut down.  Its roots and stump remained at St. Paul’s until Steve Tobin  was commissioned to excavate and reproduce the root in bronze.
Steve Tobin  was born in 1957 in  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He studied theoretical mathematics    and worked    in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.   In 1989 he became the first foreigner invited to build his own glass studio in Murano, Italy and in 1994 built his first foundry, and began to cast bronze.

Mr. Tobin paid  for the entire project. He first considered trying to raise the money, he said, but decided that it would take too long. So he took out a home equity loan to pay for everything: bronze, foundry costs, salaries for 10 assistants, transportation for the stump.   
On September 11,  2005 a tree root, sculpted in bronze, was  unveiled in honor of the fourth anniversary of 9/11. It took three days to transport the 6,000-pound bronze sculpture 70 miles from artist Steve Tobin's Pennsylvania foundry to the courtyard of the Trinity Church at Broadway and Wall St.

Daily News wrote : Tobin had the idea for the piece after visiting Ground Zero in 2001. Shortly after, his assistant Kathleen Rogers began to appeal to St. Paul's for its cooperation. But the church wasn't then ready to hear ideas for artistic creations as it was still acting as a relief ministry, providing food and a place to sleep for 9/11 recovery workers. Since they got the go-ahead in June 2004, Tobin and his team of 16 have collectively spent more than 20,000 man-hours on the 300 separate bronze pieces that fit together to form an exact replica of the root structure, which, Tobin claims, is more hours than Michelangelo spent decorating the Sistine Chapel. Tobin admires Michelangelo and other masters for their  tremendous effort to create art."