Monday, December 29, 2014

Castle Clinton + Native American Museum + Washington's Pew

Since this month's posts are all south of Manhattan's Canal Street, I thought to leave the southern tip of the island for last, as there is the greatest number of things to do there.
It all begins with Castle Clinton, which is located in Battery Park.

The "castle" was built in 1808, just a few hundred yards from where Fort Amsterdam stood, almost 200 years before it. Constructed during the run up to the War of 1812, Castle Clinton was then known as the West Battery, as it was the sister camp to Castle Williams (then known as the East Battery). The fort's name was changed in 1815 to honor the then-mayor, DeWitt Clinton.

The army stopped using the area in 1821, and the Castle was opened to the public in 1824 as a garden. Since, the building has been a beer hall, and exhibition room, a public theater, even an aquarium, but it is currently a national monument, and the departure point when visiting the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island.

On the north side of Castle Clinton, and still in Battery Park, is City Pier A, which was built in 1886 for the New York City Department of Docks and Harbor Police. Just in front of the pier's building, and a little out in the water, is the American Merchant Mariners' Memorial.

This bronze sculpture was designed by Marisol Escobar, and was installed in 1991 for the sailors lives lost in the sinking of the SS Muskogee by an Axis U-boat.
After seeing this sight, turn around to face The Sphere, and its eternal flame.

Originally, this 7.5 meter (25'), metal sculpture by German artist Fritz Koenig was displayed in Austin J. Tobin Plaza, between the World Trade Center towers. Seeing it was damaged in the 2001 September 11th attacks, the monument was moved to Battery Park six months later, and, on September 11, 2002, an eternal flame was ignited in honor of all the lives lost on that day.
Also in the immediate area is the war memorial, designed by Welsh artist Mac Adams in 1991, for military personnel who served in the Korean Conflict (1950–1953)... well as other interesting public works of art.

Right across the street from Battery Park is the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House, which currently houses the NYC branch of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.

The building was in construction from 1902 through 1907, and was begun by the federal government so as to collect the duty tax for the port of New York. While it is a beautiful building, in and out, they exhibit pieces of ancient Native American art - representing more than 12,000 years of history, and 1,200 indigenous cultures. Plus, it is all free to visit!

When leaving the building, head north out the front door, and up Broadway. After passing Arturo Di Modica's Charging Bull (aka the Wall Street Bull), between Fulton Street and Vesey Street, one will find themselves at St. Paul's Chapel. Not only is St. Paul's the oldest church in Manhattan (completed in 1766), it also holds George Washington's church pew, from the years he worshiped there.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Wall St Bomb Aftermath + Titanic Memorial

Continuing my trek in Manhattan's downtown area, I found myself in the Financial District, and came upon 23 Wall Street.

On September 16, 1920, only a minute after noon, a horse-drawn wagon carrying iron scraps blew up in front of the headquarters of the J.P. Morgan Bank. The blast killed 30 people, and injured another 140. The marks left by the bomb can still be seen on the architecture, with the largest being the size of a grapefruit.

Though investigated for three years, no one was ever prosecuted for the infamous event.

The topic may seem a little morbid, but even the city has a 3x4' placard, complete with photos of the incident, just outside the building.
After this spot, I walked east to Pearl Street, and headed north to see the South Street Seaport Museum's Titanic Memorial; a 60' (18 m) lighthouse, which was built, at the request of socialite, philanthropist, and activist, Margaret Brown, and dedicated to the lives lost in the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic.

The lighthouse was originally built on, and stood atop, the roof of the old Seamen's Church Institute, on the corner of South Street, and Coenties Slip, in 1913. From its construction, up until 1968, the globe at the top of the lighthouse would descend the pole, at noon, everyday. The mechanism was controlled by telegraph from the Naval Observatory in Washington D.C.

In the summer of 1968, the Church Institute moved, and donated the lighthouse to the South Street Seaport, who had it installed where it is now in 1976.
After seeing this landmark, head over one block to 40 Fulton Street, and see a plaque dedicated to the first underground central station, built by Thomas Edison.

From this area, the station ran power to thousands starting in 1882, until it was dismantled (as other newer stations made it obsolete) in 1917. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Barthman Sidewalk Clock

In downtown Manhattan, on the east (northeast) corner of Maiden Lane and Broadway is an antique clock installed into the sidewalk.

This clock is actually a replacement from 1940, but the original was created by William Barthman, who opened Barthman Jewelers on the same corner in 1884.
He had the idea to place a clock at the spot in 1896, as a simple form of advertising, and had it instituted in 1899.
In 1928, the Maiden Lane Historical Society (which was established in 1911, but is no longer around) pronounced the spot as a landmark...

...though the building has now seen better days.

By 1930, the clock's maintenance man, and co-designer, Frank Homm, passed away, and left no instructions for its care. It had ceased to function, and was even covered by cardboard for almost a decade, before the jewelry store decided to replace it in 1939.
I walked the area a bit more, as there was plenty to take photos, and write, of, but I'll leave the info and pics for my next post, and just finish off with a decent image I took minutes later.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hook & Ladder 8 (aka Ghostbusters' HQ)

On the corner of Varick and N Moore Street (located at the address: 14 North Moore Street) is a sci-fi nerd's hot spot, but many pass by it without a second glance.

While the interior shots of the Hollywood blockbuster Ghostbusters were filmed in Los Angeles' Fire Station No. 23, the exterior is of FDNY Hook & Ladder 8 Firehouse, in southern Manhattan's TriBeCa neighborhood.

Around Halloween, they hang the logo out front, so if that's what you're looking for, be sure to time your visit.

The spot is still a fully functioning firehouse, so, if sirens go off, please make way for the folks who may be out to save lives.

A lot of cool things were once in this neighborhood, but much of it is gone.
Fluxus artist Joe Jones had a music store on N Moore, with drone music machines displayed in the windows. He also held music shows in the space, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono once played.
The same spot also became the art studio of no wavers Joseph Nechvatal, and Jon Hassell, later video artist Bill Viola. It is now Walkers Restaurant.
I'm certain the area has a lot of great clubs and eateries, but as for "odd spots" (besides the previously-posted-of Mmuseumm), I'm stumped, and will be heading further south for my next post.