Musical Swings near Brookfield Place

Brookfield Place Palm Garden
This summer Canadian design studio  installed  swings that play sounds of musical instruments  at Brookfield Place,  in  lower Manhattan.  Brookfield Place, originally known as the World Financial Center, is a complex of office buildings located across the street  from the World Trade Center site.   
The view form the Brookfield Place

Brookfield Place is  a great indoor shopping/ dining area,  with a beautiful  palm garden  inside  - the only one palm garden in New York.   Outside located there is  a Waterfront Plaza  where  live music and films take place during warm weather. And this summer the Plaza has a new addition- musical swings.

The  Montreal-based design firm, Daily tous les jours installed  at the plaza a set of ten swings that emit sounds as you swing.  There are four instruments represented in the swings: piano, harp, guitar and vibraphone. Each swing   triggers sound when participants swing back and forth.

The  seats have sensors that link to a computer that responds to motion with music. Swing alone and you’ll hear notes. Synchronize your swinging with those beside you and you make beautiful music together.

 In 2012  the same company  installed   21   Swings  in Montreal.  Pre-recorded sounds from a xylophone, piano, and other instruments were programmed into color-coded swings that when in use play various notes, however when swung in unison with careful cooperation, more complex melodies and harmonies arise.
Artist, Melissa Mongiat, one of the co-founders of Daily tous les jour,  
says that the group worked with animal behavioral scientist, Luc-Alain Giraldeau from the Université du Québec à Montréal, to explore how the musical cooperation would work. “People cooperating is important,” says Mongiat. “The point is that we can accomplish more together than alone.”

When I visited Brookfield Place there was no line.   During peak times, visitors have a suggested five minute time limit on the swings.   If you are there with kids there are  two excellent parks  close by- Nelson Rockefeller park  with  huge green lawns  and beautiful sculptures  done by Tom Otterness and a Teadrop park- a real treasure hidden in from the tourists  hidden from the tourists.
“The Swings” will be on display at Arts Brookfield from June 10 to July 7 from 12 pm to 8 pm daily, and is free to the public.

Castle Williams on Governors Island

Governors Island is a small, pedestrian-only island to the south of Manhattan and to the west of Brooklyn . It is    800 yards from Lower Manhattan, and even closer to Brooklyn. A trip to the Island takes you to a historic military village   just a few minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city.   To get there, you have to take the   ferry—that’s the only option. No subway, no bus, no rail. The island offers five miles of car-free roads to bike or walk along. I wrote about the  island in  one of my  posts Read hear about the history of the island  and about  Bush, Reagan and Gorbachev summit on Governor’s Island in my blog.

Castle Williams sits  on the west point of Governors Island in New York Harbor. It  was built at the same time when Castle Clinton in Battery Park  was built. Castle Clinton (West Battery)  was intended to complement the three-tiered Castle Williams (East Battery)     to defend New York City from British forces in the tensions that marked the run-up to the War of 1812.

Castle Williams was designed by the Chief Engineer of the US Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Col. Jonathan Williams   between 1807 and 1811.   Before Castle Clinton many American forts were designed by Friench  and as a result many fort-related words have French roots - barrette, embrasure.

The eight-foot-thick walls of the "castle" were arranged in a circular arch so that the 100 cannons installed within could fire in just about every direction.
Castle Williams saw no action at the time because New York City managed to avoid the conflict.  Later it served as barracks. Starting from 1852 army recruits lived in Castle Clinton. At that time  half of all military recruits were immigrants.
 The newspaper  Harper's weekly wrote in 1861 "Every day from 25 to 30 men arrived at Governor's island from various recruiting offices in New York and elsewhere and are immediately drilled in squads, until they are fit to be formed into companies and drafted into regiment."

Most of the immigrants were German and Irish. Today just five percent of active duty personnel were born outside the United States.   
During the Civil War the castle was converted into   an army prison.  High-ranking officers were taken to Fort Jay, on the island’s other end, where they enjoyed more comfortable quarters. And regular troops went to Castle Williams.
Many Civil War prisoners died   from diseases that ran rampant in the castle. There was just one doctor for hundreds of men in damp and dirty conditions. The bodies of those who succumbed were buried on Governors Island, but later moved to Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn.

 After 1865 the castle  became a low-security military prison that was also used as quarters for recruits and transient troops.  In 1895  Castle Williams was designated one of the U.S. Army's ten military prisons and a lot of improvements were made - central heating and plumbing were installed. The castle was fitted up as a model prison in 1903.
Over the decades  there were several colorful escapes from the prison. Charles Henderson  dressed as a washerwoman and walked right off the island in 1901.  Virgil Gill  serving a 10-year sentence and working as a waiter at a castle function in 1935, escaped in his tuxedo and top hat. He was found several days later at a Broadway cafe after pawning the tuxedo.

For the thirty years following the Army's departure, the United States Coast Guard has headquartered its Third Coast Guard District and the Atlantic Area on the  island, making it the largest Coast Guard base in the world. In 1969 the coastguard converted the castle into a community center which included meeting rooms, a day care facility and even a storage unit. The Coast Guard  ceased operations on Governors Island in 1997. Governor island now is open for public.

The castle  has long been off-limits to the public. After an extensive rehabilitation project in 2011, the National Park Service opened the Castle's to the general public for the first time in the fort's 200-year history.   Castle is free to visit,  and you can also take a free tour, that takes  approximately 30 minutes.

Castle Williams is  open daily through the summer from 10 AM till 4:30 PM (5:30 PM on weekends). Access to the Castle's first floor and its outdoor exhibits is free and unrestricted. During the tour you can visit all three levels and the roof.

Mermaid parade 2016

Hailey Clauson and Carlo Scissura on the parade
Coney Island's Mermaid Parade   features people of all ages marching along Surf Avenue in Brooklyn  dressed as just about every sea creature you can imagine. By the way    Coney Island's streets   have names like Mermaid and Neptune.

Queen Mermaid, Hailey Clauson, is an American Supermodel born and raised in California. She is the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover model for 2016 and has appeared on numerous global magazine covers and advertising campaigns.

King Neptune, Carlo A. Scissura, is the President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, a position he has held since September 2012

 Two years ago Ipublished post about the history of the parade and now here are the pictures that I did today at Coney Island.  Enjoy!

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory in a fireboat house near Brooklyn Bridge

 The location of the factory  in a landmark fireboat house on the Fulton Ferry Pier, features one of most sweeping views in America, the Brooklyn Bridge and  Manhattan skyline.  

  Before Brooklyn Bridge there was Fulton Ferry t he most important transportation hub in the city of Brooklyn. Daily steamboat travel to and from Manhattan in the early 19th-century helped make Brooklyn a major city. Brooklyn Bridge was built  in 1870. 

The ferry stopped running in 1924, and  two years later in 1926 the fire station was built on this place. 
Abram S Hewitt
By 1931, Fireboat Engine 77 moved in.  The fireboat "Abram S Hewitt" , named after Abram S. Hewitt,  the 87th Mayor of New York,  belonged to the  fire engine 77.  Fireboat was   built by the New York Ship Building Company at Camden, NJ. 

he was the first fireboat called to the burning of the sidewheel passenger ship "General Slocum", where over a thousand people lost their lives. The passengers onboard on "General Slocum",   came mostly from the German-American community of the Lower East Side. Most of the passengers were women and children. Only 321 passengers survived from a total of 1,358 passengers. The final death count totaled 1,021.

General Slocum

The next largest death toll in the United States would come decades later with 2,974 dead from 9/11.

Eventually the fireboat ended at the ship graveyard in Rossville,  Staten Island.  The tower of the firehouse was used to hang and dry fire hoses.  In 1959, the name of the station was changed to Marine 7, and they were in operation until the house was closed in 1970.
The building was landmarked when the Fulton Ferry Historic District was designated in 1977, and was renovated by the city.   

I found an interesting story about this ice-cream on a blog   
Mark Thompson purchased the building but did not open it to customers until 2001 since it took him four years to go through the permitting process to get a landmark for the business. “There were a lot of people who were upset that someone was going to open a business and make money on –God forbid –a city property,” he said.  Thompson’s grand opening was supposed to be on Sept. 12, 2001. “I gave away ice cream that Labor Day, we put a card outside, I said just give me two or three days to call it a grand opening on Sept. 12th   
After the September 11 tragedy, Thompson’s dream seemed to fizzle into thin air. That particular area had so many Red Cross workers and the office of Emergency Management –which was in the Trade Center–set up in a building there (this has now been knocked down). “It’s hard to explain…business wise, I was a nervous wreck,” says Thompson. “But when such a tragedy happens it puts everything into perspective. Here I am selling ice cream.”

When Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory could not make enough ice cream to meet the demand at its original location, the Greenpoint,  Brooklyn factory was opened in 2007.

Non-Violence sculpture

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During a recent visit to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, I took a photo of the powerful “Non-Violence” sculpture located in the Visitors’ Plaza created by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd. The sculpture depicts a 45-caliber revolver with its barrel knotted into a bullet-blocking twist. 
On December 8 1980  Mark David Chapman waited for John Lennon outside the New York City apartment building  Dakota where  John lived  with  his wife, Yoko Ono, and his son.   Shortly before 11 p.m., Chapman opened fire   and killed Lennon. 

Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, Swedish painter and sculptor, one of the  friends  of John Lennon, was  so upset and angry  that he went to his studio and started working on the “non-violence” project. “My first sketches in three dimensions were rather rough and simple, but the important thing was that the idea of the knotted barrel was with me from the very start,” he said.

Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd  lived in Lausanne, Switzerland, for many years and his works were exhibited around the world. He studied with Fernand Léger in Paris  in 1951 and was a professor of painting at The Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm from 1965-1969. In 1974 he was a guest professor at Minneapolis School of Art, Minneapolis,Minnesota.

Strawberry Fields memorial
 in Central Park

Initially the sculpture   made by Reuterswärdin response to the shooting death of John Lennon in 1980 was placed in the Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park, New York, across the street from Dakota, where Lennon and Yoko lived. 
One of the first three versions of the sculpture was bought by the Luxembourg government. In 1988, the Government of Luxembourg donated the bronze sculpture to the United Nations.
Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General stated: “The sculpture Non-Violence has not only endowed the United Nations with a cherished work of art; it has enriched the consciousness of humanity with a powerful symbol that encapsulates, in a few simple curves, the greatest prayer of man; that which asks not for victory, but for peace

Knotted gun in Sweden
Knotted Gun in South Africa

The Swedish artist produced different variations of the piece, one them of  being the sculpture installed in 1985 in  Malmo/Sweden .  Other versions are on display in a number of cities, including Stockholm, Beijing, Cape Town and Lausanne, the Swiss town where the artist lived for a long time.

In 2011 John Lennon’s Widow Ms. Yoko Ono has joined the campaign that  featured non-violence sculptures interpreted by world personalities.   Unveiling her interpretation of the gun symbol, created in her late husband’s memory, she said, “While creating my interpretation of the knotted gun symbol, I thought back to Imagine and the words “living as one” as both John and I were devoted to the idea that we can work together to achieve world peace and eliminate the violence and the suffering in this world. As I have often said a dream we dream alone is just a dream – a dream we dream together is reality.”

Best place in New York to enjoy the roses

Do you love roses? Do you know that June is National Rose Month? Do you know that the  rose  is the national flower?
 On November 20, 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed a resolution making the rose the national floral emblem at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden:

 Americans have always loved the flowers with which God decorates our land. More often than any other flower, we hold the rose dear as the symbol of life and love and devotion, of beauty and eternity. For the love of man and woman, for the love of mankind and God, for the love of country, Americans who would speak the language of the heart do so with a rose.

We see proofs of this everywhere. The study of fossils reveals that the rose has existed in America for age upon age. We have always cultivated roses in our gardens.

Our first President, George Washington, bred roses, and a variety he named after his mother is still grown today. The White House itself boasts a beautiful Rose Garden. We grow roses in all our fifty States. We find roses throughout our art, music, and literature.

 We decorate our celebrations and parades with roses. Most of all, we present roses to those we love, and we lavish them on our altars, our civil shrines, and the final resting places of our honored dead.(...)

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the rose as the National Floral Emblem of the United States of America.

The  best place to enjoy the roses  in New York is the Cranford  Rose Garden in Brooklyn Botanical Garden .  A year ago I published post about this place. This  garden is so densely packed with so many roses of all different varieties  and colors  -  white, pink, red...    Who doesn't love being surrounded by rows upon rows of roses?!     The roses smelled so wonderful. and they are all so beautiful!
 I was there  yesterday  and spent about an hour almost alone   -  Brooklyn Botanical Garden  opens  at 8 AM on weekdays and  is free on Tuesday. It is also free on   Saturdays 10–Noon.   Now it is the wonderful opportunities for photographs and for rose lovers to enjoy  while the roses are in full bloom.

Seymour Durst, his debt clock and Old York Library.

National Debt Clock as of 05/02/206
The Dursts are New York real estate royalty, controlling a $5.2 billion portfolio of noteworthy properties including the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, the Conde Nast Building at Four Times Square, and  a 10% stake in One World Trade Center (...)

The founder of the family,  Joseph Durst   immigrated to the United States from   Austria-Hungary in 1902 with three dollars to his name. He invested in real estate, purchasing his first building in 1915. 
In 1940, his son Seymour Durst joined the real estate firm, The Durst Organization, which had been founded by his father.

Seymour had a personal lifelong passion for collecting published and archival materials on New York and its history. Durst vigorously pursued his passion over the years, amassing a collection of approximately13,000 books, 20,000 postcards, as well as thousands of photographs, maps, newspaper  , and other ephemera .

120 East 61 st
 Originally housed in a brownstone on East 48th street in midtown Manhattan in the 1970s, the The Old York Library   later moved to another brownstone at 120 East 61st Street. He established  Old York Foundation.  After his death the foundation was manages by his family. In 2011 the  Durst family  donated the library and  a $4 million gift   to Columbia University.

Old Clock
Seymour Durst was also concerned with the ballooning national debt. In 1989, Durst created and installed the National Debt Clock on a Durst Organization property in order to draw attention to the then $2.7 trillion debt.  After Seymour's death in 1995, his son Douglas Durst became president of the Durst Organization, which owns and maintains the clock.
The first clock were    11 by 26 feet   and were  constructed   at a cost of US$100,000. In 2000, due to an improving debt situation, the clock  have to   backward and it was a problem - for a clock,  not for the country.  The display had not been designed to run backwards. So the clock was unplugged and covered with a red, white and blue curtain. In two years  in July 2002 with a rising debt at $6.1 trillion, the curtain was raised and the clock started ticking again.
In 2004, the original clock was moved from its location. An updated model, which can run backward, was installed one block away on a Durst building at as 1133 Sixth Avenue. It is mounted on the side wall of the building which faces W. 44th Street.