Oculus- a new mall at World Trade Center

One of the coolest parts about living in NYC? Options. And when it comes to shopping in New York, we are spoiled.      "Shopping is actually very similar to farming a field. You can't keep buying the same thing, you have to have a bit of variety. Otherwise you get bored and stop enjoying yourself" wrote   Sophie Kinsella  at Confessions of a Shopaholic.   New York City is one of the best shopping destinations in the world and now it became even better.

After years of planning and work   stores, ranging from the Apple Store to Banana Republic and from Eataly to Fossil,   officially began welcoming customers at the World Trade Center shopping mall. The 365,000-square-foot center mall will have more than 100 stores, with about 60 opened two weeks ago   and the rest will be open by year-end.

The largest tenant is Apple, which opened a two-floor  space that boasts a minimalist  exterior and the tech giant’s typical wooden furnishings.

The enormous shopping center  includes street-level retailers at WTC towers 3 and 4, along with subterranean galleries that run throughout the WTC campus. A skylight in the central hall allows natural light to fill the massive white skeletal structure—apparently symbolizing "the image of a dove released from a child's hand". Every year on the anniversary of the attacks, the skylight of the Oculus will open to bring a slice of the open New York sky into the building.

  Westfield corporation, one of the world’s leading shopping centre companies with  retail destinations in London, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles has a 99-year lease on the project from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land.
Westfield believes 15 million travelers will use the hub by next year, especially as more direct subway entrances, such as to the 1 and the R, are completed. More than 60,000 residents live within blocks of the World Trade Center area now , about three times the number from right before 9/11.
The mall is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.

The concourse, where the shops are located,  was originally slated to debut in 2009 and cost roughly $2 billion. It was opened   in March 2016 and ultimately ballooned in cost to $4 billion.
     Spanish-born architect Sanitago Calatrava (born 1951),  who  built Oculus,  has gained international celebrity for structures that suggest the shapes and the motion of organic entities, even as they rely in their construction on the modernist triad of concrete, glass, and steel.
  Calatrava told architectural digest half a year ago about Oculus:
My family purchased a home in New York after the events of September 11. When I began to design the concept, my inspiration was rooted in the feeling permeating through the streets of New York during that tragic moment in history. A part of us was feeling dead inside, yet we knew we had to persevere, to push forward. With this in mind, I had the deepest desire to build something exceptional, something that had the calming sense of peace and hope for future generations who walk through the space.
I already wrote about the Oculus  and Calatrava   in my blog.

Madison Avenue Armory a homebase of New York Hussars

Madison Avenue Armory
In  1884  a  group of eighteen  wealthy  young equestrians   established  a  club. First it was political club, but lately it became an exclusive troop cavalry. The group named themselves   New York Hussars. Hassars  had a fancy blue uniform that Eurasian fashions dating back to the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars. Uniform consisted  of    black lambskin covered Busby with a cavalry yellow kolpak and crossed sabre insignia. 

Hossars  were frequently called for duty to provide escorts for Presidents and other notables visiting New York City.
 Later they were renamed  Squadron A and became more professional and militarized.

53 of their members inducted into the New York National Guard in 1889. During the Spanish-American War Squadron A served in Puerto Rico and during WWI members of Squadron A earned 3 Medals of Honor, 17 Legions of Honor and 24 Croix de Guerre.
In January, 1941, some 11 months before Pearl Harbor, the Squadron was federalized as the 101st Cavalry with two troops becoming mechanized and one remaining horse.

Today, Squadron A Association has 700 members worldwide who continue to preserve and forward the traditions, memory and contributions of Squadron A and the Horse Cavalry. Now  The Squadron A Association maintains offices and a squad room at the Women’s National Republican Club, just off Fifth Ave.

Madison Avenue Armory that occupy the whole block between Madison Avenue and Park A
venue, between 94th and 95th Street was a home base of Squadron A.

Armories were once very important landmarks in the city. Not many complete armories remain, the most famous being the Seventh Regiment Armory on the west side of Park Avenue between 66th and 67th Street, and the 1851 State Arsenal Building on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street that is now the headquarters of the New York City Department of Parks.

The building was built in 1895 and  was designed to resemble a 14th-century French fortress with square towers, rounded turrets and a crenellated parapet.
  Western part of  Madison Avenue Armory was demolished in the 1960s.

 In    1966 exterior was designated a landmark and in 1972 was added to the National Register of Historic Places. When it was taken over by Hunter to serve as their middle and high school for girls it was  referred to as the "Brick Prison".

 In 1974 a lawsuit was won and the all girl school became coed.  It is now one of the best public school's in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek.

 On the wall by the entrance on Madison Avenue are the words, Boutez En Avant, the battle cry of the original armory, meaning, Charge!

The Library Lions

The New York Public Library consists of four major research libraries and 88 branch libraries.  The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building,  a part of the library,  was built on   Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in the first decade of the 20th century.  On May 24, 1911 the library opened it doors to the public. About  50,000 people   d visited the building on that  first day.  
 A year before the opening, in 1910,  Edward Clark Potter, American sculptor,  was given the commission to sculpt two  animals for the New York Public Library’s main branch.  

President  Theodore Roosevelt , who was the hunter, wanted to  see two  bison.   A small group lobbied for beavers in honor of Library co-founder John Astor, whose family had made a fortune in beaver pelts. But the sculptor set for lions.  He already made two  lionesses for the Morgan Library, located at 225 Madison Avenue at East 36th Street in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan. 

 Edward   Potter used clay to sculpt the contours of his work and made a plaster cast. The actual carving was done by the    Piccirilli family that had a studio in the Bronx.    Giuseppe and six sons used the same   Tennessee marble that was used by them used for the Lincoln Memorial and Grand Central Station.
Potter received  $8000 and credit for the work  and The Piccirillis    were paid $5000.   The lions were originally named    Leo Astor and Leo Lenox after John Jacob Astor and James Lenox, who founded the library .

At the  very beginning these two  lions were not welcomed by the public.  “We do not want square-jawed lions,” one man declared in a letter to the editor of The New York Times. Another letter-writer, who said that they looked like “a cross between a hippopotamus and a cow,” dismissed them as “monstrosities.”  Future sculptors attempted to appease the public, even trimming the manes of these fierce statues.

 With the Depression taking its toll on the city, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia declared them to be “Patience” and “Fortitude.” He felt that these were the qualities city residents needed most to survive the horrible economic times.
Later  lions became very popular.  On their 44th birthday, in 1955, The New York Times reported that letters to “The Lion Library” were delivered as addressed.  In the  odd comedy “A Day For Surprises” by  John Guare  one of the lions  eats a librarian who had been having a romance with another library employee.

These days the lions are the symbol of the library.    There is a lion,  specifically, Fortitude, the northern of the two lions, on the logo of the library.
For decades  the decorating  of the lions with  wreaths  had delighted those passing by the library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.  The annual tradition of was halted in 2004 after it was discovered that the were damaging the century-old stone.  Nine years later in 2013 new    wreaths were created.    these wreaths  are made of artificial Norwood green spruce, have red bows but no lights. Each weighs 150 pounds.

On  May 20, 2011   New York Public Library’s iconic marble lions Patience and Fortitude turned  100 years old . To honor the occasion, famed artist Nathan Sawaya has created two mini-versions,   half the size of the actual lions ,  out of more than 60,000 gray LEGO blocks. These LEGO-Lions  were on public view on the Fifth Avenue Plaza for one week in May 2001.

Manus x Machina in Metropolitan Museum of Art

Nestled in the Met’s circular Robert H. Lehman wing, “Manus x Machina” explores the relationship between  the handmade and the mechanized in fashion.

The Robert Lehman Collection of approximately 300 paintings, particularly rich in the field of the Italian Renaissance,  is one of the most distinguished privately assembled art collections in the United States. A   wing, erected to display the collection, opened to the public in 1975.

The structure of Manus x Machina mirrors Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (Encyclopedia, or Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts, 1751–72), a tome of the French Enlightenment that aimed to give these métiers the same gravitas as the arts and science.

The galleries divided into the tenets of design outlined this  Encyclopédie: embroidery, feather work, artificial flowers, lacework, leatherwork, pleating, tailoring, and dressmaking.

Leather-bound volumes of Encyclopédie are displayed around the atrium, each opened to a page introducing a different métier: tailoring, lace, featherwork.
This is an exhibit about remarkably beautiful clothes that are aesthetically, technically, and historically significant.

Arranged over two floors, the exhibition showcases examples of 3D printing, laser cutting and other machine-based fabrication combined with work completed by hand.
The first thing visitors encounter upon entering the   exhibit   is a wedding gown with a 20-foot train. Designed by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel’s fall 2014 haute couture collection, its construction is not only technologically innovative, it challenges the notion that couture is necessarily handmade.

The train was initially sketched by hand; then digitally manipulated to create the appearance of a pixelated baroque pattern; hand-painted with gold metallic pigment; machine-printed with rhinestones; and finally hand-embroidered with pearls and gemstones.
“Traditionally, the hand has been identified with exclusivity, spontaneity and individuality,” explained curator Andrew Bolton in a preview earlier this week. “Likewise, the machine has been understood to signify not only progress, but also inferiority, dehumanization and homogenization.”

Those assumptions are challenged across two floors spanning 170 pieces dating from the late 19th century to present day. Upper galleries are dedicated to embroidery, feather work and artificial flowers, while ground-floor spaces investigate pleating, lacework and leatherwork.
The term "fashion-tech" may be less than 10 years old, but many of the garments on display in Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology date back to the early 1900s.
This year, Apple, which is marketing its "wearable tech" device — the Apple Watch — as a fashion accessory, is sponsoring the exhibition. The company's sponsorship of Manus x Machina comes at a tough time for Apple, which recently reported a year-over-year decline in quarterly revenue for the first time since 2003
“Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”   runs through September 5.

The man who owned Broadway

Songwriter, dancer, actor, playwright, producer, theatre owner  George M. Cohan  was the one of most multitalented person in show business. When he died in November  1942   President Roosevelt   sent a telegram:
"A beloved figure is lost to our national life (..). He will be mourned by millions whose lives were brightened and whose burdens were eased by his genius as a fun maker and as a dispeller of gloom" .Mayor La Guardia praised him for having put "the symbols of American life into American music".

During the first two decades of the 20th century, Cohan’s style of light comedic drama dominated American theater, and the lyrics he composed are still remembered   for their flag-waving patriotism and exuberance.
  Cohan spent his childhood as part of a vaudevillian family.    Cohan and his sister traveled a circuit of stages, slept in boarding houses and backstage while their parents performed.

  At nine years old, Cohan became a member of his parents’ act, by the age of 11, he was writing comedy material, and by 13 he was writing songs and lyrics.   In 1894, at the age of 16, Cohan sold his first song, “Why Did Nellie Leave Home?” to a sheet music publisher for 25 dollars.

His first Broadway production, “The Governor’s Son,” was a musical comedy that he wrote and in which he performed in 1901.
In 1917  Cohan   composed  “Over There,” the song that would become his greatest hit. Americans coast to coast listened to the recording made by popular singer Nora Bayes. Twenty-five years later, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt awarded Cohan the Congressional Medal of Honor for the patriotic spirit. 
Cohan   published  about  300 original songs  noted for their catchy melodies

 and clever lyrics. His major hit songs included "You're a Grand Old Flag," "Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway" ,"Mary Is a Grand Old Name ". Cohan wrote numerous Broadway musicals and straight plays in addition to contributing material to shows written by others.
 One of his most well known songs is   "You're a Grand Old Flag" that  Cohan wrote  in 1906 for  his   stage musical:

I'm no cranky hanky panky,
I'm a dead square, honest Yankee,
And I'm mighty proud of that old flag
that flies for Uncle Sam.
Though I don't believe in raving
Ev'ry time I see it waving,
There's a chill runs up my back
that makes me glad I'm what I am.

In 1903  George   Cohan  wrote  his  first full-length musical "Little Johnny Jones" , the  first American Musical, about jockey,  Johnny Jones ,  who rides a horse named Yankee Doodle in the English Derby.   The show introduced Cohan's tunes "Give My Regards to Broadway" and a patriotic song "The Yankee Doodle Boy " also   known as "Yankee Doodle Dandy".   The play opened at the Liberty Theater on November 7, 1904.

At the end of his life  Cohan had written a play about his life called “The Yankee Doodle Boy,” that was produced for the stage in 1939. Later there was a movie  "Yankee Doodle Dandy"   based on this play and produced in 1942 and starring  James Francis Cagney  as Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Cohan himself served as a consultant during the production of the film. Due to his failing health, his actual involvement in the film was rather limited. However, Cohan did see the film before he died (from cancer) and approved of Cagney's portrayal.

"Yankee Doodle" is one of the most popular American patriotic songs, and is also the state song of Connecticut. the origins of "Yankee Doodle" lie in old English folk music. The song emerged before the American Revolution as a vehicle for the British to mock American soldiers.

By the way  the  world Yankee comes from  Janke or Janneke , Dutch equivalent of the English name John.  This was  originally   used   as a nickname for Dutch settlers living along the Hudson River.  The term Doodle , as is written in Wikipedia, first appeared in English in the early seventeenth century, and is thought to be derived from the Low German (a language close to Dutch) dudel, meaning “playing music badly” or Dödel, meaning "fool" or "simpleton".
After Cohan’s death, a memorial committee, whose first chairman was   Irving Berlin, sought to commission a statue in his honor. The committee selected Georg Lober as the sculptor and Otto Lanmann as the architect. The same team worked  on the statue of Hans Christian Anderson in Central Park. On September 11, 1959, the Cohan statue was formally unveiled.    The 8-foot bronze remains the only statue of an actor on Broadway.