This section contains reports and photos about the many fashion, film and music events that occur in the Bronx over the course of the year.
History of the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage in the Bronx
House Edgar Allan Poe Spent his Last Couple Years
The Poe Cottage was erected in 1812. The small clapboard house is located in Poe Park where the Grand Concourse intersects with Kingsbridge Road in the Fordham neighborhood of the Bronx. The NY Parks Department, which in collaboration with the Bronx County Historical Society, runs the registered historic site - notes that it was a simple farmhouse built for laborers.
Edgar Allan Poe resided here during the last three years of his life. According to the NY Parks Department, the house was moved to its current location from where it had originally stood on Kingsbridge Road [about 450 feet south - near Valentine Avenue] when Poe lived in it.
Poe died in 1849 of causes unconfirmed as according to Wikipedia, his death certificate has been lost. There’s a plaque in Boston denoting approximately where he was born, and a monument in Baltimore where he died and was buried. There’s also an Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia – an area around which the author spent the majority of the formative years of his short life.
One of Poe’s most famous works was The Raven, a poem published in 1845, less than a year before Poe moved into Poe Cottage. The Raven depicts a man struggling with a lost love, where Poe flexes his literary skills with cultural references and cadenced structure.
Another of Poe’s most famous works, The Cask of Amontillado, was published in late 1846, after Poe had moved into the Bronx house. And The Bells, Poe’s last poem, was written in 1849, the year of Poe’s death. It is believed that the sound of the St. Johns College [Fordham University] Church bells could be heard at Poe Cottage after the church was built in 1845, and that the church bells were, in part, some of the inspiration for the poem. The Bronx County Historical Society website notes these two seminal works were penned in the bucolic setting of the Fordham neighborhood in the mid 19th century in the Bronx.
According to the Museum Register, it took a while for the City to take control of the place as an historical site. In 1902 it opened Poe Park and in 1913 it moved the Poe House to its current site. This year the weekend of October 14th and 15th, you can visit the Poe Cottage free as it is a participant in Open House New York, which is an historic site weekend.
Click here to read the rest of our story about Poe Cottage Museum in the Bronx.
Fordham University Rose Hill Campus in the Bronx
Fordham University Serves Approximately 15,000 Students
During my travels in the Bronx in the spring and summer of 2017 I could not help, but make a visit to Fordham University. According to Wikipedia Fordham University was originally founded as St. Johns College in 1841 and changed its name to Fordham University in 1907. Just a couple of years earlier, in 1904, they had begun both a graduate medical school and a graduate law school.
Wikipedia reports that Fordham University is the third oldest university in New York, and the oldest Catholic college / university in the northeast section of the United States. In 1969 the Board of Trustees was reorganized to include a majority of non clerical members, thus officially making Fordham University an independent institution.
Historically, Fordham has been known as a Jesuit school. The Fordham University website notes that their Rose Hill campus is comprised of 85 acres and that their ten schools - including the college, law school, medical school, business school, education & others] serves nearly 16,000 students. Of the total Fordham University student body, over 9,000 of the Fordham University students attend the college. As for locations, nearly 8,000 students attend Fordham University in the Bronx at their Rose Hill campus, while over 7,000 attend Fordham University at their Lincoln Center location. Fordham University also has a small outlet in Westchester County that serves about 500 students.
Fordham is a highly regarded school. According to U.S. News Fordham University is #60 in the ranking of 1600 colleges and universities in the U.S. That puts it in the top 4%, with high school counselors ranking them #42 and with their business program ranked #77. This kind of education doesn't come cheap as U.S. News noted that tuition and fees are pegged at $47,000 and room and board is estimated at $16,000.
Click here to read the rest of our report on the history of Fordham University in the Bronx neighborhood of Fordham and Belmont.
History of the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx
One of NYC’s Finest Attractions Resides in Bronx Northern Neighborhoods
The New York Botanical Gardens are located in the Bronx. While New York City has Botanical Gardens in three of its other boroughs [Queens, Brooklyn & Staten Island], only one - its best - bears the metropolitan city name. The botanical gardens in the other boroughs are competitive in their own right, but the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx is like few botanical gardens in the entire world.
Notable within the New York Botanical Gardens walls lie 50 acres of primordial landscape, largely kept intact from colonial and pre-colonial times. This tract of open landscape was once occupied by the Lenape Indians and is called the Thain Family Forest, named after the family that financed the preservation and enhancement of the forest, which has suffered many ravages since its inception.
The ravages to the primordial forest were first addressed in 1904 less than a decade after the site was dedicated to the NY Botanical Gardens. According to an NYT report the original footpaths led to the destruction of the hemlock grove, as the footpaths destroyed the shallow roots. In 1926 new hemlocks were planted, but in 1986 most of the hemlocks were destroyed when a hurricane blew in Asia beetles which destroyed most of the hemlocks that were left.
Also around 1904 a blight destroyed all but two of the original 1,500 chestnut trees. And Dutch elm disease wreaked havoc with the primordial forest elms. There were a number of other such intrusions, so the primordial forest is now a mix of old and new. A research paper provided by the NY Botanical Gardens outlined the work being done to mitigate aggressive intrusions into the forest over the past half decade or so.
Click here to read the rest of our report on the New York Botanical Gardens near the Bronx neighborhoods of Belmont, Bedford Park, Norwood and Fordham.
History of the Bronx Zoo in New York City
The Bronx Zoo is one of the Best City Zoos on the Planet
The Bronx Zoo is, as the headline says, one of the best zoos in the world. It offers visitors a day of amazing discoveries and safe exploration of natural wild life. The Bronx Zoo stands on 250 acres of land that is cut through by the Bronx River. Inside are tall trees, a wide array of bird species, wild jungle animals shown in habitats resembling their origin, polar mammals, gorillas, snaky reptiles and as Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz would say, “Lions and tigers and bears … Oh my!”
The Bronx Zoo is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily. They offer kids rides, a shuttle and select participation in the feedings. There are several public feedings scheduled daily including feeding the Sea Lions at 11 am and 3 pm, with the Penguins being fed at 3.30 pm. In addition they offer an assortment of programs for classes for school aged children and other groups.
The Bronx Zoo also offers a ‘4-D’ theater where you can see real wildlife, a seasonal Asian monorail that takes you through a replicated Asian wildlife refuge, and seasonal camel rides. These are in addition to the feedings mentioned above.
There are four main entrances to the Bronx Zoo. The first is Gate A or the Asia Gate [Bug Carousel} located along the west side of the Bronx Zoo along toward Southern Blvd at about 183rd Street. The second is Gate B, is located off Boston Road, which you get to by heading south on Bronx Park East off the Pelham Parkway. This entrance is located along the east side of the zoo in the Pelham Parkway neighborhood. And the third is Gate C, which is located at the north end of the zoo – and home to the famous gates – along East Fordham Road between Southern Blvd between Bronx Park East. There’s a fourth gate which is located off the parking area adjacent to the Gate B entrance, located on the south east area of the park.
The Bronx Zoo opened in 1899, a year after the City of New York allotted 250 acres to the New York Zoological Society to develop a zoo, to preserve native animals and promote an interest in Zoology. The Bronx Zoo opened as the New York Zoological Park.
A former Smithsonian employee who was a conservationist, zoologist, taxidermist and author, namely William Temple Hornaday, was signed on as the Director of the Bronx Zoo where he remained for the next 30 years. Hornaday was driven by the desire to build a world class zoological institution and by all accounts today, he appears to have succeeded.
Click here to read the rest of our report about the Bronx Zoo - things to do in the Bronx.
Yankee Stadium History: Concourse Neighborhood Bronx
A Bronx Institution Since 1923 was Rebuilt in 2009 with Taxpayer Funds on Public Parkland
In 1901 the New York Yankees baseball team originated in Baltimore as the Orioles [no relation to present day team]. In 1903, they were purchased by casino man Frank J. Devery and former police chief William S. Farrell, and moved to New York, where they were renamed the Highlanders, because of a Scottish reference and because they played in Hilltop Park which is in present day Washington Heights. Today Hilltop Park is occupied by New York Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center at 165th Street and Broadway.
The New York Giants baseball team had reportedly tried to keep the Highlanders out of New York, by disallowing them the use of the Manhattan Polo Grounds as a venue. The Manhattan Polo Grounds was located in East Harlem at 112th Street west of 5th Avenue [and just north of Central Park], and it is where the New York Giants baseball team played.
In 1911 the Manhattan Polo Grounds burned down, and for a time, the NY Giants used Hilltop Park. While the Manhattan Polo Grounds was being rebuilt, relations between the two teams warmed. So, in 1913 the Highlanders baseball team started playing at the Manhattan Polo Grounds where the team was again renamed– this time as the New York Yankees .
The New York Yankees shared the Manhattan Polo Grounds Stadium with the New York Giants baseball team until the opening season of 1923, when they moved into their new stadium.
Click here to read our report about the history of Yankee Stadium in the Concourse neighborhood of the Bronx.
Mott Haven: Historic District & SummerStage in St Mary’s Park
Large Audience Gathers to Enjoy Communal Music Feast
On Sunday, July 30th, I attended the SummerStage concert in St Mary’s Park in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx. The stage was set in the western side of the park, which opened up onto a large field, but also gave the advantage of providing ‘balcony seats’ where one could enj oy the concert watching and listening from the hills.
SummerStage Concerts Bronx: St Mary's Park Mott Haven
The SummerStage concert in St Mary’s Park featured Lisa / Lisa who hit the national scene in 1985, in the year before she turned 20. The Hells Kitchen native and her 1980’s group – Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam - took the hit single ‘I Wonder if I Take You Home’, to #1 on the Billboard Hot Club Dance Play chart for a week in June of 1985.
Lisa / Lisa is of Puerto Rican descent and was born and raised in Hells Kitchen in Manhattan. Lisa / Lisa was one of the wave of freestyle musicians to help usher in dance pop. In 1982 Michael Jackson released his best selling dance album Thriller which rose to become the world’s best selling album – a title which I believe it still holds to this day. In 1984 - just two years later - teenager Lisa / Lisa and her Cult Jam band released ‘I Wonder if I Take You Home’, which as mentioned above, rose to number 1 atop Billboard Magazine's dance pop charts.
Lisa / Lisa shared the stage in concert where she had a male and female dancer who artistically interpreted her magical music while we in the audience moved to the rhythms. In the photo above right, Pop Dance Hip Hop musician Lisa / Lisa with one of the dancers at the SummerStage concert in St Mary's Park in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx.
The weather was a warm but dry 80 degrees as the sun was making its way west and we were sheltered by the St Mary’s Park foliage. While most folks in attendance were adults there were also a number of families with children.
Mott Haven Historic District: Bronx
After the concert I made my way down past the Mott Haven Historic District to the #6 subway at 138th Street and Third Avenue. The Mott Haven Historic District is rather small, running along Alexander Avenue between 138th Street and 141st Street. The buildings date back to the last half of the 19th century, when people were moving to the Bronx because rail transportation was enabling more easy movement of people and goods. Alexander Avenue is believed to have been named after Alexander Bathgate who was the Morris land holdings manager.
The photo at right shows some of the houses from the 19th century that still exist in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx.
The Morrises bought the land in the south Bronx in 1670 from Jonas Bronck, a Swedish immigrant and one of the original Bronx settlers and after whom the Bronx is named. Bronck in 1641, less than thirty years earlier, bought theland from the Dutch West India Company, which had purchased the lands from the Indians in 1639.
The Bronx neighborhood in which Alexander Avenue resides, is called Mott Haven, and was named after Jordan Mott. Mott was the inventor of the coal burning stove. In 1828 Mott opened up the first manufacturing facility in the Bronx, his ironworks. Today Mott Ironworks manhole covers are reportedly still in use today.
Also nearby is St Mary's Park where the SummerStage concert took place, as well as St Ann's Church, which is an Episcopalian Church where two generations of Lewis Morris are buried, as well as Gouverneur Morris. They are members of one of the founding families of the Bronx, second only to Jonas Bronck himself.
The Bronx SummerStage concert series is organized and sponsored by SummerStage and City Parks Foundation in tandem with the NYC Parks Department. SummerStage organizes several free concerts in Bronx each summer, including two concerts in Crotona Park in the Central Bronx.
Click here to view our story about the Mott Haven Historic District in the Bronx.
Golfing in Historic Van Cortlandt Park
The Fall is a good time to get out the golfing clubs to continue or resume work on a golf game. The sport is aerobic and good for one's health, regardless of gender.
Van Cortlandt Park is home to one of the oldest continuous operational golf courses in the United States, dating back well over a century.
The Van Cortlandt golf course in the Van Cortlandt neighborhood of the Bronx is pretty easily accessible by subway, coming up along the Upper West Side of Manhattan on the #1 train.
In addtion to the golf course, there's a public swimming pool and an historic home that's worth a visit. Golfing with a cart costs about $46 / person for late-in-the-day golfing and $70 per person with a cart during prime time. Subtract about $20 for the cart on the off-hours and maybe subtract about $30 for the cart during prime time.
Also in Van Cortlandt Park is the Van Cortlandt House Museum. The Van Cortlandt House is reortedly the oldest house in the Bronx borough as it was built in 1746.
De Blasio Delivers State of the City Address
Mayor Takes Humanist, Social Science Approach to Solving NYC Problems
NYC Crime Down, Stop N' Frisk Down 97%, NYC Public School Graduation Rate Up, H.S. Drop Out Rate Down, College Bound Graduates Up, 70,000 Children Enrolled in Universal Pre-K, Financing Initiated on 62,000 Units of Affordable Housing, NYC Budget Surplus
See Related Analysis of Reporting by Multi-Billionaire Owned NY Post
I attended Mayor de Blasio's third State of the City Address at the Apollo Theater in Harlem on Monday. The beautiful old theater, built in 1904, didn't admit African Americans until thirty years later. And it was in 1934 that the historic theater began earning the fame it has today, by becoming the showcase for African American musical and theatrical legends.
In the photo at right is the Apollo Theater as seen from one of the balcony booths prior to the beginning of Mayor de Blasio's 2017 State of the City Address.
Fighting Tyranny & Thomas Paine: These are the Times that Try Men's Souls
There were a number of performances and speeches leading up to the Mayor's address, including a performance by the Dorothy Maynor Choir of Harlem and an operatic delivery of the Star Spangled National Anthem by FDNY's Regina Wilson. Recently deceased Detective Steven McDonald's son, Conor, gave a speech, as did NYC First Lady Chirlane McRay, the Reverend David Ramos, Rabbi Arthur Schneier and Imam Souleimane Konate.
The Pledge of Allegiance was delivered by Jian 'John' Yuan Lin, Chyna Huertas and Eva Lin. And the Reverend Michael Walrond, of the First Corinthian Baptist Church, gave a fiery, inspirational speech talking comparing the national state of affairs today to the American colonists fighting to shake off the shackles of tyranny. He cited the words of American Revolutionary Thomas Paine, who in 1776 said,
"These are the times that try men's souls."
Just before the Mayor came on stage was a video highlighting the de Blasio Administration accomplishments.
Mayor de Blasio Standing Big & Tall for All New Yorkers
The Mayor came onto the stage, beginning by thanking the various people and departments that helped make his Administration's accomplishments possible. His thanks always include his wife, Chirlane McCray, who has been evolving in her role as NYC's First Lady.
Here's a sampling of the de Blasio's efforts to make New York a better place for all New Yorkers. Some of the information came from the video presentation referenced above, which I have augmented with some additional research and information obtained in prior reporting efforts.
In the photo at right stands a weary, but determined, Mayor Bill de Blasio at his 2017 State of the City Address at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
I. De Blasio Administration NYC Public School Achievements
A. Social Science & Humanist Approach to Education
• Universal Pre-K Enrollment 70,000
• Advanced Placement For All
• Drop Out Rates Down
• Graduation Rates Up
• College Bound Graduates Up
The slide at right shows some of the gains made by the de Blasio Administration with the NYC public school system over the past three plus years.
1. Stop the Bleeding - Stop the 'CORPORATE' run Charter Schools from Maximizing Profit at the Expense of Maximizing Human Potential
Editor's Note: There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between the NON-PROFIT CHARTER SCHOOLS and FOR-PROFIT CHARTER SCHOOL CORPORATIONS. Non profit charters are generally older organizations, designed as an alternative in response to failing public schools decades ago, and whose focus is on improving education - not improving profits.
By contrast the FOR-PROFIT CHARTER SCHOOL CORPORATIONS generally arose in the 21st century, and this group appears to be pillaging the public school system by recruiting and siphoning off the good [low cost / high performing] students so they can maximize profits - not enhance public education.
The despicable consequence of this for-profit charter school strategy is that they are simultaneously robbing the most vulnerable, disadvantaged children of anything resembling an opportunity in life as promised in the founding documents of this nation.
Family background continues to be the highest determinant [have the highest correlation] of a student's academic achievement.
So the de Blasio Administration has significantly slowed the corporate charter school assault on the public education system.
Corporate Charter School Business Strategy Comparable to Old Health Insurance 'Gaming the System'
Recruit the Academic Achievers, 'the Healthy Ones', Because They're Most Profitable & Shun the Rest
It appears the charter school corporations have employed a strategy designed to recruit and retain the best students to their schools, while leaving the rest behind. They appear to recruit the kids who are already performing well, because the performing children cost the least to educate, thus providing the highest return to the hedge fund profiteers because the funding is allocated on a per capital / per student basis. High performing student enrollments also enable corporate charter schools to claim they are 'performing well' because they've recruited the highest scoring students.
The recruitment and retention strategy referenced above resembles the old health insurance strategy of recruiting the healthy people to buy health insurance as they are the most profitable, while denying those who aren't blessed with good health because they cost the most to keep healthy. This was a systemic inequity Obamacare attempted to eradicate.
In the photo at right stand an Imam [Islam], a Rabbi [Jewish] and a Reverend [Christian] all sharing the same podium with a message of love, peace, respect and understanding.
2. Help the Youngsters & Maximize Human Potential - Not Profits
The De Blasio Administration pushed through universal Pre-K, which has enrolled 70,000 students since its inception in the Fall of 2014.
When this first came out I, and a number of people I know, didn't really grasp the importance of this effort. As family support is the highest determinant in a child's success, many youngsters were entering the public school system at a significant disadvantage vis a vis their better parented peers.
By accessing these kids while they are younger, and providing access to the guidance and resources of the public school system earlier, the NYC Public School system now has a greater chance of motivating these kids, which will inevitabley empowering them, raising their self esteem, and give them a chance at a far more engaged and productive life.
I now get it. And this seems like it can only be a good thing for all of society, as it will reduce societal costs of failing these people early on.
MAXIMIZE HUMAN POTENTIAL - Good Public Policy Costs Less in Long Haul & Enormously Benefits Society
This approach to education enables us as a society to maximize our human potential, which will benefit all the community - and in some small way - all mankind. Not only is this a more humanistic approach to engaging these children, but it's more cost effective in the long haul, as those left behind will inevitably cost society more through lost opportunities, lost productivity, and increased spending on health, human services and criminal justice programs.
In the photo at right is the Mayor on stage at the Apollo Theater with all of the people working for the city that he honored that night including policemen, firefighters, sanitation workers and educators. The Mayor appears to be one who is very much in touch with the middle & working class rank and file of New York City.
Click here for our report about Mayor Bill de Blasio's State of the City Address 2017 including an update on crime, the affordable housing crisis, the city's finances, sanitation and social activism.
NYC Marathon: A Brief History
A Closer Look At The NYC Marathon Course & Runners
November 2, 2015 / Bronx Neighborhoods / Bronx Buzz NYC.
Every year about 50,000 runners converge on New York City on the first weekend of November to run in the New York Marathon. The race begins at 8.30 am with the wheelchair division, is followed at 8.52 am by the athletes with disabilities and handcyclers. And then from 8.55 am until 11 am a horde of 50,000 runners passes the starting line on their 26 mile journey ending in Central Park.
The course has changed since the first NYC Marathon and now runs through all five boroughs, starting in Staten Island, coming up through western Brookyn, cutting through Long Island City between the Pulaski and Queensboro Bridges and then looping up along the Upper East Side before circling back around just north of the Harlem River in the Bronx and heading back south into Manhattan and terminating in Central Park.
The race lasts about eleven hours, as the official end time is 7.30 pm, but the reality is that it's mostly over by about 5 pm. The NYC Marathon began in 1970 and the first one was held entirely in Central Park by having the runners circle around the park on various roadways multiple times. And, of course, it was a much smaller group of runners.
NYC Marathon Runner Demographics by the NYT
The NYT published a report about the NYC Marathon demographics. In it they noted that about three quarters of the runners make it over the finish line, and that about 40% of the runners are now women, which is up significantly from none in the first NYC Marathon in 1970.
This year only 48% of the runners are Americans, while another 4.5% come from Canada and Mexico, France and Italy represent 14% of the runners [split about evenly], and Britain, Germany and the Netherlands are another 15% (contributing in descending order], other parts of Europe, Latin America, Japan & China, Austrailia and South Africa.
Age-wise the largest group is between 30 and 40, the 2nd largest between 40 and 50, and a good measure from the 20 to 30 and the 50 to 60 demographics. Apparently many reaching their 40th and 50th birthdays like to 'prove that they still have it'. You can find the full report on www.nytimes.com, including some fun graphs.
NYC Marathon Winners Past & Present
The last time an American won the Marathon was in 2009 [Meb Keflezighi - a 2004 Olympic silver medalist born in Eritrea], and the last American winner born in the United States was Bill Rodgers in 1979. This year Meb was the first place finisher among all Americans and he broke the record for Masters Runners.
This year the winner for men was Stanley Biwott of Kenya who ran the NYC Marathon in 2:10:34, the winner for women was Mary Keitany, also from Kenya, who ran the course in 2:24:25, making this her second win in as many years. In the Wheelchair division, Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa beat Josh George of USA by one second coming in at 1:30:54. In the women's wheelchair division, Tatyana McFadden a Russian-born American, broke the NYC Marathon course record by seven minutes. It's been quite a year for her as she also won the marathon in Boston, Chicago and London this year.
Men's & Women's Marathon Times
As you can see by the times above, the best marathoners generally make the trip in a bit more than two hours, which means they ran at a pretty good clip of almost 13 miles per hour for over two hours. And it's worth mentioning that the gap between male and female NYC Marathon runners has been closing and at present is about 15 minutes.
Organizers & Sponsors of the NYC Marathon
New York Road Runners or NYRR is the organizer of the NYC Marathon and this year Tata Consultancy Services or TCS is the premier sponsor. TCS is an Indian software and IT services company based in Mumbai [formerly Bombay].
People's Climate March Photos
Over 300,000 People March / Interesting Signage / Creative Costumes / Jazzy Music / Important Message / By The People & For The People / We Are One World / We Are One People / We Must Learn To Live In Harmony With Each Other & With Our Ecosystem
September 22, 2014 / Midtown Neighborhood / Bronx Environment & Parks / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I came up the subway stairs at Times Square Sunday, September 21, 2014 shortly before 1 pm. I had hoped to cover the People's Climate March story beginning at 11.30 am at Columbus Circle which was when the parade was to start; but I was detained and rushed to cover what I had thought might be the END of the parade. Boy, was I wrong. I ran head on into the BEGINNING of the parade, although I had missed the very front of it.
It truly was a People's Parade as there were few government officials were in attendance. According to one report I read after the parade, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined the head of the parade around 12.45 pm, which wasabout the time I had arrived, so I missed them.
There were also a few NY City Council Members who marched, versus an NYT report that indicated a third or more planned to march. I recognized three of about five NY City Councilmembers that were there: NY City Council Speaker Viverito, UWS CCM Rosenthal and Astoria Queens CCM Costa Constantinides.
Green Companies Missed Big Marketing Opportunity To Reach Their Passionate Audience
Click here later today to read our full report of the People's Climate March including hundreds of photos, and a number of parade marchers' views of what's really going on, as well as what can practically be done by regular folks about it.
Click here to read our report and view photos of the UN organized People's Climate March in NYC. Story and photos by Michael Wood.
Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker
Columbia School of Journalism Dean Coll Moderates Conversation with Authors Gay Talese & Thomas Kunkel
January 18, 2016 / Upper West Side Neighborhood / Manhattan History / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz.
I received an invitation to attend a conversation at the Columbia School of Journalism about a new book covering the professional life of one of the most prominent writers of The New Yorker magazine. The Columbia University School of Journalism is easily one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the nation; and Columbia also hosts the judging for the Pulitzer Prize, which is considered one of the highest awards a journalist or author can receive.
It was a fairly warm October evening as I made my way north on the subway along the Upper West Side. I got off at 116th Street and walked east through the main campus to the Faculty House. The Faculty House sits atop the Morningside Heights ridge overlooking Harlem, the Upper West Side and the rest of Manhattan.
The entrance into the Faculty House was from an interior courtyard where Columbia University students were hanging around in casual conversations. Once inside, I was directed to an upper floor where the event was being held.
Seated at the head of the room was Gay Talese, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of numerous books including The Kingdom & The Power. He was in the company of the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, Steve Coll, who is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning author having penned several tomes about issues in Asia, most notably the Middle East. And of course, there was the guest author of the evening, Thomas Kunkel, who is the President of St. Norbert College in Wisconsin and who had penned the book being discussed this evening entitled Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker.
Steinway & Sons Piano Company History & Legacy
Exclusive Coverage Of The Steinways, Factory, Mansion, History & Legacy
Updated December 2017 / Steinway & Sons Piano Mansion Factory Steinway Hall Special Section / Gotham Buzz NYC.
To date we've published nearly a dozen stories and short reports on the Steinway Mansion in Astoria Queens. The Steinway Mansion is one of the last remaining 'country estates' of 19th century Queens. It was also the home of the Steinways of Steinway & Sons Piano fame for nearly a half century.
I felt like I'd stepped through a time warp, back into the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The visit connected me to one of the legendary centerpieces of Queens history - the Steinway family and the mansion they occupied during their golden years ... but the mansion's history neither starts nor ends there.
Join us on this fascinating voyage into the past and contact members of City Hall, the NYS Legislature and historical societies to help fight to preserve the mansion which now stands at a crossroads of possibly being lost forever or being acquired by the city and converted into a museum and cultural center - as it should be.
Click here to read our reports and view our photos of the Steinway Mansion in Astoria Queens.
NYC Museums: The Frick Collection
A Gilded Age Mansion Turned Art Museum In NYC
A year ago I had the opportunity to attend the opening presentation of a new arrival at The Frick Collection on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was a beautiful May day as I walked north along the east side of Central Park. I noticed banners hanging from the street lights on Fifth Avenue announcing the opening of the new art exhibit at The Frick Collection.
The museum was once the home of Henry Clay Frick. Henry Frick grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania in the middle of the 19th century. By the time Frick was thirty he and his cousins had cornered the lion's share of the coke business in the state of Pennsylvania. Coke was made by burning off the unstable elements in coal, thus making it a reliable high-intensity fuel that was relatively abundant and inexpensive to produce. In the 19th century coke was used to fuel the blast furnaces of the steel mills, a practice which continues to this day in many steel plants around the world.
The Frick Collection: History Of Henry Clay Frick
In the early 1880's Henry Clay Frick's coke company joined Andrew Carnegie's steel company. The merged companies became a vertically integrated enterprise which subsequently provided Frick's coke company with a steady buyer of its product, and provided Carnegie's steel company with a steady source of fuel. Together these enterprises grew rapidly, and in the process made Frick and Carnegie, two of the wealthiest men in America.
Both the coke and steel industries had employment issues related to working conditions, fair pay and health hazards. The unions attempted to organize their labor forces and were beaten back by the joint enterprise of the Frick Coke Company and the Carnegie Steel Company, lead by Henry Clay Frick. Frick oversaw the effort to thwart them, meeting force with force. Several men died in the clash and henceforth Frick has been vilified as one of the 19th century, industrialist robber barons. But Frick is not alone as one of the robber barons, as the likes of his cohort Andrew Carnegie [steel], J.P. Morgan [banking], John D. Rockefeller [oil] and Jay Gould [banking] are just a few of those who are included in this category.
In 1911, J.P. Morgan finessed a deal that merged together the Carnegie Steel Company, with several other enterprises, into what became U.S. Steel. U.S. Steel was, in the early 20th century, one of the largest corporations in America, and at its peak controlled nearly two thirds of American steel production. It's important to add that this was at a time when steel was growing as one of the essential building materials of its time, as it was being used to build trains, railroads, ships, electrical generators and beginning to be used in new inventions like automobiles, elevators, high rise construction [Flatiron Building], appliances [telephones] and as shipping containers [cans] for consumer products.
Upper East Side: Once Home To Robber Barons
Many of the robber barons lived in Manhattan along Fifth Avenue in what is today called the Midtown and the Upper East Side neighborhoods. The robber barons gave some portion of their considerable wealth back to the communities in the form of art [Frick], education [John D. Rockefeller bankrolled the University of Chicago], art & history [J.P. Morgan to the Metropolitan Museum and his home is the Morgan Library & Museum] and libraries [Andrew Carnegie gifts helped start about half the public libraries in the U.S.].
Carnegie is the most notable philanthropist, as he gave nearly all of his $300 million wealth away [equivalent of tens of billions and likely more today] before he died. And Jay Gould is most notable in the other extreme, as he's reputed to not have given a dime back to the community. But that said, it's worth noting that one of Jay Gould's heirs subsequently donated Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown to the National Historic Trust. But I digress.
Frick had a taste for art and objets d'art. From the beginning of his economic ascendance he began collecting. And as his wealth grew, he began acquiring many of the world's artistic and aesthetic treasures. Before he died, he bequeathed some of his wealth to the communities of western Pennsylvania in the form of the mansions he built and / or lived in, along with many of the fine art, furniture and objets d'art he had purchased during his lifetime. Western Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh are home to much of what Frisk left the public.
Click here to read the rest of our report about The Frick Collection / Frick Museum / Frick Mansion - Robber Baron Mansions on the Upper East Side NYC.
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