The Elevated Acre, secretive urban oasis in Financial District

Hidden between two office buildings at 55 Water Street is an escalator which whisks you up to The Elevated Acre,   an acre-size expanse of green on a lower-Manhattan rooftop. In a city where space is at a premium,  a pleasant, quiet meadow  and  a lush garden of solitude   in the  busy Financial District in Lower Manhattan is a rare find.

The secretive urban oasis features a lawn, an amphitheater, a summer beer garden, winding paths of Brazilian hardwood, spectacular views of the East River, Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge/
 55 Water Street, the  53-story, 3.5-million-square-foot  structure, a late example of the style called Brutalism, was completed in 1972.   When  it was completed it was the largest office building in the world, and is still the largest in New York by floor area. The new property regulations that were passed in 1961  (1961 Zoning Ordinance)  limited the amount of space that a property owner could build within the footprint of the lot.  If a developer agreed to include a plaza in their design, they were given extra space in return, adding an extra 6-and-a-half floors to the structure.

Emery Roth & Sons designed the building  and built   a 15-story wing with a sloping facade and terraces facing the river оn the north side of the tower.   The largest terrace forms a privately owned public space known as the "Elevated Acre", about 30 feet above street level.    The creation of public space allowed the developers to increase the total square footage of 55 Water Street. 
While this outdoor space was always there, the current design was just completed in 2005 by Rogers Marvel Architects.    

The New Water Street Corp., the   owners of the 56- and 15-story buildings, with the Municipal Art Society, staged a competition in 2002  for renovating and bringing attention to the site.
The six finalists’ designs were on display in “An Elevated Acre: 55 Water Street Design Competition”  at the Urban Center Galleries in New York.
The firm won an international competition to transform this one acre from a barren deck to a vibrant public park.    There is a dune-like garden planted with honey locust trees and sea grass, a wood-planked boardwalk, and a low-maintenance synthetic lawn. 
The Elevated Acre is   available for rental. Venue fee is $5,000.

9/11 White Rose. Never forget

World changed 16 years ago, on September 11, 2001.  Monday marks the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attacks , that killed 2,977 people in New York, the Pentagon and in a field in rural Pennsylvania.
Staffers at the medical examiner’s office still work to identify remains.  Families  of  more than a thousand  of the 2,753 who died still have no biological confirmation of death.
There is a binder at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum that holds the names of the nearly 3,000 victims, listed chronologically by birthday. This binder also include the names of people killed in 1993 attack. New York’s World Trade Center held an iconic status for terrorists even before 9/11. Shortly after noon on Feb. 26, 1993, a bomb planted in a van parked in the center’s underground parking garage exploded, killing  6 and wounding more than 1,000.

Each morning the 9/11 Memorial is commemorating the birthdays of victims of the attacks of 2001 and 1993.
Every morning    a person who works  for the September 11 Memorial and Museum   copies the page for that day from the binder and goes to a refrigerator to take one white rose for every victim who would have celebrated a birthday that day.  There’s at least one birthday for every day of the year, and six on September 11 itself.  The rose is placed    on the names of victim on the parapets.

Two pictures are taken of the rose and name — one with the pool in the background, the other with the skyline. The Birthday Rose photos are emailed to family members.
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 September 11 Memorial and Museum.
 The roses are donated by Mikey Collarone of FloraTech.      He selects the roses at the flower market, and then twice a week he delivers them to the memorial. 

Mikey Collarone
Mikey   started his  business in Tribeca  in 1991. He was in his shop when   a truck bomb detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in February 1993.   Mikey run to help but he did not have any medical training.  After that experience, he worked to become an emergency medical technician.     After 9-11 attack  Mikey  worked as a volunteer for two weeks helping people to recover from the stress. Later  he cooked  for the workers, bringing ziti and roast beef into the pit.

So when a volunteer suggested flowers be placed to note victims’ birthdays, the museum staff went to Mikey Flowers and asked how much it would cost to buy the roses from him. Collarone didn’t hesitate.
“It was an opportunity for me just to give again,” he said. “I was being very selfish, because it made me feel good. … I don’t know how anybody can even accept money for a service for something like that.”(....)

"I pass this way every day now when I go to work since 9/11 and I see the roses," Collarone said. "And I see that the people are being honored and it makes me feel really good inside that people aren't forgotten and we'll always remember them".
This picture I made yesterday, September 10th 2017

Federal Reserve building, the world's largest depository of gold.

The Panic of 1907 was the first worldwide financial crisis of the twentieth century. York Stock Exchange fell nearly 50% from its peak in the previous year. At that time Unites States was the only one of the world’s major financial powers without a central bank.   J.P. Morgan organized private sector investments and lines of credit to stabilize the banking system amid its latest panic.

President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act on December 1913, culminating three years of discussion and debate the development of a central bank.  
The Federal Reserve Act intended to establish a form of economic stability in the United States through the introduction of the Central Bank.  The U.S. Federal Reserve System or the “Fed” (of which the twelve regional Federal Reserve banks are a part) was created by an Act of Congress   in a response to    a crises.

By November 16, 1914, the 12 cities chosen as sites for regional Reserve Banks were open for business:   Boston ,New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City ,Dallas and San Francisco.
The Federal Reserve System provides the government with a ready source of loans and serves as the safe depository for federal money. The New York Federal Reserve district is the largest by asset value. New York Bank  also serves the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York Building at 33 Liberty Street occupies the full block   in the Financial District of Manhattan. The building reaching fourteen stories tall with five additional floors underground was built  from 1919 through 1924.   Architecturally, the building is reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance palazzos  such as the Strozzi Palace in Florence  and the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall   in Florence.     When it was completed in 1924, the New York Fed was the largest bank structure in the world. In June 1924, the 2,600 officers and employees of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York began moving into the facility.

The building also hosts a vault containing the world's largest depository of gold, stored on behalf of numerous government institutions from around the world.  No individuals or private sector entities are permitted to store gold in the vault.  The gold inside the Federal Reserve Bank holds 25% of the world’s gold reserves. Nearly 98% of the gold at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is owned by the central banks of 36 foreign nations. 

It takes a combination of highly trained individuals and top-notch technology to protect all of that gold. Nearly all of the security employees maintain an expert qualification in all three weapon types - handguns, shotguns, and rifles.

The vault itself can only be accessed via a 90-ton revolving steel cylinder. If anything is tripped, guards are signaled to seal the entire building – which takes less than 25 seconds.
New York does not charge foreign nations a storage fee for their gold.  The rest is owned by the United States and international organizations.  The New York Fed is the only one of the 12 Federal Banks to store gold.

 During constriction the Bank’s triple-tiered vault system was lowered to the bedrock foundation,  80 feet (24 m) below street level and 50 feet (15 m) below sea level —one of the few foundations considered adequate to support the weight of the vault, its nine-foot door and door frame (weighing 90 and 140-tons, respectively).
Much of the gold in the vault arrived during and after World War II as many countries wanted to store their gold reserves in a safe location. Holdings in the gold vault continued to increase and peaked in 1973, shortly after the United States suspended convertibility of dollars into gold for foreign governments. At its peak, the vault contained over 12,000 tons of monetary gold.

As of 2015, the vault housed approximately 508,000 gold bars, with a combined weight of approximately 6,350 tons.
Guided tours of the building are offered every weekday. Reservations are available at a first-come, first-served basis 30 days in advance on a rolling calendar and there is no waiting list. Tours fill up very quickly. No photos or videos are allowed.

Love and Hope by Robert Indiana

There are two well known sculptures  by the  artist Robert Indiana  less than two blocks apart- “Hope”  is   on the corner of 7th Avenue and 53rd Street and “LOVE red blue” sculpture is just around the corner: at 6th Avenue and 54th street.

Robert Indiana, born Robert Clark, was born in Indiana in 1928. He moved to New York in 1954 and joined the Pop Art movement. Indiana held his first solo exhibit in 1962 at a gallery in New York.

The work of Robert Indiana often consists of bold, simple, iconic images, especially numbers and short words like EAT, HUG. Few Pop images are more widely recognized than Indiana's LOVE.
Robert Indiana's experiment with LOVE started in 1958, when he began playing with poetry, placing the letters "LO" above "VE."In 1961, Indiana painted a canvas in different shades of red that said "LOVE" on the bottom. Three years later   Indiana  printed  grey-scale diamond-shaped painting took  with the words  "God is Love." According to Indiana, “Although the Love Is God canvas bears no relationship to what now has become a logo, it started me thinking about the subject of love.”

The image with the word "love"  was originally designed as a Christmas card  and  commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art  (New York) in 1965.  
  The artist built the first of many large LOVE sculptures for public display in 1970. It debuted in Boston, then in New York City.

Later LOVE has appeared in prints, paintings, sculptures, banners, rings, tapestries.  "Love" was included on an eight-cent postage stamp for the Postal Service on  Valentine's Day stamp  in 1973, the first of their regular series of "love stamps."  Postal Service sold more than 300 million copies and the stamp with the word "Love"  became, for many years, the best-selling commemorative stamp in history.

Indiana has rendered LOVE in a variety of colors, compositions, and techniques. He even translated it into Hebrew for a print and a sculpture at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

In 1995, Indiana created a 'Heliotherapy Love' series of 300 silk screen prints signed and numbered by the artist, which surrounds the iconic love image in a bright yellow border. These prints are the largest official printed version of the Love image.

In 2008, Robert Indiana created an image similar to LOVE   but this time showcasing the word “HOPE”. HOPE suggests light and illuminates a path to a better world. The “O” in HOPE leans forward, propelling us to look forward to the promise of a better, more peaceful future.

Indiana donated all proceeds from the image to the Democratic National Committee for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
International Hope Day was created to aid Indiana in fulfilling his vision of covering the world with HOPE. Each year on the artist’s birthday, September 13, Robert Indiana HOPE sculptures will be installed and displayed in locations throughout the world.

$3 million, 13-foot tall, 3-ton   "Hope" was moved to the corner of 7th Ave. and 53rd St.  in  September 2014.

Paparazzi Dogs in Greenwich Village

Gillie and Marc have worked side by side for 25 years. The husband and wife team are New York and Sydney-based contemporary artists who collaborate to create art as one. They are best known for their autobiographical characters, Rabbitgirl and Dogman.  Their public artworks are all over the world including the U.S., China, New Zealand and Singapore.

In 2013 Gillie and Marc launched a series of sculptures in Melbourne called The Paparazzi Dogs. The sculptures were later exhibited in Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore, Beijing and Shanghai and installed in New York City in 2016,  first   beneath the Manhattan Bridge in the Pearl Street Triangle  and later  in Greenwich Village,  at the intersection of West Eighth Street, Avenue of the Americas, and Greenwich Avenue.

“We’re so excited that our ‘Paparazzi Dogs’ are in New York. They’ve traveled the globe taking photos, and now they’ve arrived at this fun, trendy place that has been photographed more than anywhere else, and that leaves you feeling so stimulated” - said Gillie.
Gillie and Marc have given names to each of the “Paparazzi Dogs.” They are named for members of the British Royal Family, Charles, William, Harry and Tom.

The artists wanted us to reflect on the tragic and avoidable death of Princess Diana. They intentionally used a group of dogs to expose the pack mentality of the media and how we hunt down celebrities to get that dangerous “behind-the-scenes” glimpse into their private lives.

Gulliver’s Gate

In April this year the  Big Apple welcomed  a new  exhibit of 300 miniature scenes of landmarks and towns from 50 countries around the world. Gulliver's Gate is located on Times Square, Midtown Manhattan in the heart of New York City. Times Square  has earned the nickname “Crossroads of the World.” and is one of the world’s most visited place  with annual visits estimated to be 39 million people a year.

Lemuel Gulliver   is the fictional protagonist and narrator of Gulliver's Travels, a novel written by Jonathan Swift, first published in 1726. The full title  of a novel is "Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships".  
During his first voyage, Gulliver is washed ashore after a shipwreck and finds himself a prisoner of a race of tiny people , who are inhabitants of the island country of Lilliput. The word lilliputian has become an adjective meaning "very small in size".

The interactive 50,000-square-foot  exhibit Gulliver's Gate  is a full city block wide and features  tiny built-to-scale models, including moving model trains and highways display , miniature replicas  buildings,  bridges, churches and monuments from Moscow, London,  Paris. Times Square is alight with LED screens, neon signs, and a traffic jam of cars and pedestrians.  You could see  iconic architectural treasures including One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Station. See Stonehenge, watch the Tower Bridge open,  or choose a concert to watch at Buckingham Palace.

 You will also find Island, a model inspired by The British Isles, and Winter land, a model inspired by regions of Russia, size up the Eiffel Tower and more. The snow in the Winterland model is as plentiful as the whimsical scenes that surround the famous buildings of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Visit the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall, see the Forbidden City and a military parade near Tiananmen Square.
The details  of the models are really amazing!  You  can   spot the firefighters high-fiving each other as they rescue a cat from a tree in New-York and  the man walking a bear on a leash on the steps of the Old St. Petersburg Stock Exchange.

Gulliver’s Gate was spearheaded by Israeli entrepreneur and miniature lover Eiran Gazit , the creator  of  Mini Israel  park   near Latrun, Israel in the Ayalon Valley.
 Gazit   conceived the idea  of  Mini Israel  park after visiting the famous miniature town of Madurodam in the Netherlands in 1986. Mini Israel, consisting of     350 buildings and landmarks, 30,000 figures, 500 animals and   15,000 real trees opened in November 2002.  

Born in Israel, Gazit moved to the US in 2005, and shortly thereafter became the co-owner of the Gateways Inn in Lenox, Mass.  In 2007  Gazit  met  fellow miniature lover and co-developer  Michael Langer. 
 For Langer, the project  Gulliver's Gate marks a move toward more ambitious development. E&M Management, a Flatbush-based real estate investment firm that owns about 10,000 rental apartments in the city, renovated multifamily and office buildings in the past, Langer said.
Together Gazit and Langer   set off courting investors and even launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 to help make the miniature world in New York a reality.

 “There are overlays of time periods and different stories being told. This world is very nice. It’s very utopian. There are no hospitals, no walls, no tragedies. It is the world as we would like it, not as it is,” said Eiran Gazit.  “Each region has its own tone, its own flavor, its own feel. I wanted the teams to reflect the country, to keep the authenticity".
A retired IDF officer, 62-year-old Gazit was born in Jerusalem and grew up in England. He remembers first falling in love with models during his childhood in the UK. “I had hundreds of model airplanes in my bedroom,” he said.

The two-story space sits at the base of the former New York Times Building and has the address of 216 West 44th Street. Kushner Companies managed by Jared Corey Kushner ,  son- in law of  the President Donald   purchased the retail portion of the building in 2015 for $296 million.
When you enter Gulliver’s Gate, you can get a personalized metal key that’s yours to keep. Your key allows you to interact with and control the models bridging the gap between you and the display.
The project cost $40 million and was built over a 16-month period.  Every model was  done in different country

Built in
Model makers
Days to create

New York City
Brooklyn, NY
Beijing, China
Rimini, Italy

Grand Maket, St. Petersburg,  Russia


New England
Brooklyn, NY
Latin America
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Middle East
Jerusalem, Israel

 There is a 3D   scanning room where you can get the  scan of yourself as a full-color 3D print. You even can become a Model Citizen when this mini model of yourself is placed at Gulliver’s Gate in the location of your choice!
Gulliver's Gate  is open every day form 9AM till 10PM in summer through September.  Winter hours are 8AM-8PM. The price is $36  for adult  and $27 for seniors and kids older than  2.
 I found an excellent deal on Travelzoo- $25 for the ticket and even better-$95 for 4!  But you have to   grab it while supply  lasts!