What strikes me most about the Brooklyn Bridge is its beauty. As you approach it’s walkway, there is a sense that is thrilling. Here I go, about to walk on a bridge that is magnificent – it’s spires and shapes are geometric and artistic, the views are stunning in every direction, and the fact that I’m afraid of heights, but not on this walkway is amazing to me.
The bridge appears as an apparition of sorts in the midst of the Financial District surrounded by architectural marvels from the 1800’s to the modern day. There are so many people on the bridge, so many languages overheard, so many photographs being taken. It is a destination for the tourist, the photographer, the bicyclist, the jogger, the walker, the poet, and the special occasion enthusiast. Yesterday we were witness to a sea of pink ladies walking the Avon Breast Cancer walk. A fitting destination for a group of women survivors to be walking on a bridge whose completion may not have occurred if not for a woman. For we learned yesterday that Emily Warren Roebling was the wife of Washington Roebling who could not continue construction of the bridge due to contracting caisson’s disease, becoming bed ridden. This was the terminology of the day to describe the same phenomenon that happens to deep sea divers when they rise too fast; too much pressure leading to an imbalance of nitrogen in the blood – we call “the bends.” For 14 years, Emily dedicated herself to the bridge’s completion, educating herself on construction engineering and supervising the bridge’s completion.
The spectacle of the Brooklyn Bridge – the blending of human feat and mother nature; the awe of it all inspires us all. We are not the first to be inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge – in 1878 Walt Whitman was also inspired. He said that his visit provided “the best, most effective medicine my soul has yet partaken—the grandest physical habitat and surroundings of land and water the globe affords—namely, Manhattan island and Brooklyn, which the future shall join in one city—city of superb democracy, amid superb surroundings.” I think Walt Whitman would have enjoyed a Kornblit Tour!
Central Park has something for everyone, including the littlest ones. Here are some don’t-miss statues the kids will love:
1. Alice in Wonderland—This bronze statue depicts Lewis Carroll’s classic fairy tale character sitting on a giant mushroom as she’s surrounded by the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, and Cheshire Cat and has her pet cat Dina sitting on her lap. The statue was commissioned in 1959 by philanthropist George Delacorte who intended it as a gift to the children of New York City as well as being a tribute to his late wife, Margarita, who read the story to their children and the Mad Hatter is believed to have been modeled after Mr. Delacorte. The statue is located near the East side of the park around 75th street.
2. Hans Christian Andersen—Located near the Alice in Wonderland statue, this bronze statue depicts the beloved Danish fairytale author of classics such as The Princess and the Pea, The Little Mermaid, and The Ugly Duckling of which the statue pays tribute. It features Andersen sitting on a bench with a duck by his feet gazing up as he reads a book opened to the first page of the story. The statue was a gift, by Danish and American children and funded primarily by the Danish-American Women’s Association on April 2, 1955, in honor of the 150th anniversary of Andersen’s birth. During the summertime, children gather for a special storytelling program to hear his classics read aloud.
3. Balto—Created by Frederick G.R. Roth, this bronze statue depicts a heroic Siberian husky named Balto. During the winter of 1925, a deadly outbreak of diphtheria hit the city of Nome in Alaska. The disease was especially devastating for children and the only medicine that could cure the illness was located in Anchorage, nearly a thousand miles southeast of Anchorage. Balto and his team of sled traveled through intense blizzard conditions to delivers jars of medicine to the children of Nome and Balto was the only dog to complete the final leg of the journey receiving wide recognition and praise from the media and general public. Balto’s statue was erected in Central Park in December 1925, and his story inspired a 1995 animated film. Located near the East Drive at 67th street.
4. Group of Bears—Perched on a circular step in the middle of a children’s playground, this statue is a popular favorite among many youngsters who enjoy climbing on them. They depict three large bears situated on a group of rocks with one bear standing on its back legs tall and proud in the center with the other two stand on all four legs on either side. Located at East 79th Street just south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
5. Honey Bear and Dancing Goat—These two beauties evoke a playful, carefree spirit that’s often associated with childhood innocence. The Honey Bear statue can be found inside a fountain on the north side of the Central Park Zoo building while the Dancing Goat statue can be found at the south side of the building. The water in the fountain is emitted from the mouths of five small frog statues at the feet of the bear and from the mouths of five duck statues at the feet of the goat. Located by the entrance of the Central Park Zoo on 64th street facing Fifth Avenue.
6. Mother Goose—This enchanting piece features the beloved nursery rhyme character wearing large glasses, a witch’s hat, and a cape seen blowing in the wind as she sits atop a large goose with its feathers spread out. Beneath the goose are designs depicting clouds and beneath the clouds are scenes from the nursery rhymes Humpty Dumpty and Jack the Horner. Located at 71st street near the Rumsey Playground.
7. Delacorte Clock—On top of the archway that leads to the main section of the Central Park Zoo is something quite magical. A special clock donated by philanthropist George Delacorte in 1965, plays 44 melodious tunes from popular nursery rhymes that change with the seasons. The music plays every half-hour between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. as several bronze sculptures of animals circle around the clock. These animals include monkeys banging hammers against a bell; a penguin on drum; a hippo on violin; a bear and his tambourine; a concertina-playing elephant; a goat with pipes; and a kangaroo on horn.
Cemeteries are a place of reflection. They give us pause from our everyday routine to contemplate our purpose in life and remember those who have passed on. Cemeteries are often stops on a Kornblit Tour. This is where history truly ‘comes to life.’ Sometimes we visit cemeteries that are in ruins, for example on our Greenwich Village Tour where we visit one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in New York City. Visiting the resting place of those that came before us gives us historic perspective and insight into our future.
The cemetery at Trinity Church on our Financial District Tour is a place where we could spend hours. These burial grounds have been the final resting place for many historic figures since the Churchyard cemetery opened in 1697.
Trinity Church Cemetery is a non-denominational cemetery, and it is listed in the United States national Register of Historic Places. In addition to over 60 notable figures buried here, there are two bronze plaques commemorating the Battle of Fort Washington, fought during the Revolutionary War.
So many famous people are buried at Trinity Church Cemetery, each with a story that captures historic significance and perspective of our nation’s past. The gravestone markers help us remember war heroes, congressman, inventors, businessmen, socialites, and signers of the Constitution. We visit the gravesite of Robert Fulton (1765-1815) who was an engineer that is credited with developing the steamboat and designing the first submarine called the Nautilus. We also pay our respects to Alexander Hamilton (1775-1804). He was one of our countries founding fathers and chief aide to George Washington. He was also the founder of our nation’s financial system, the first Secretary of the Treasury and the Father of the United States Coast Guard.
If you come with us on our Financial District Tour, the Trinity Church Cemetery is our first stop and will set the stage for this historic Wall Street Financial District Tour.
We have been looking forward to visiting the new Whitney Museum since reading the featured article in New York Magazine. It was well worth it and a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon. We started out eating (of course! This is Kornblit Tours!) We tried getting into “Untitled,” the ground-floor restaurant, but the wait time was so long, the restaurant would have been closed by the time our seats were ready. Tip – make a reservation in advance. The next eating option was the Studio Cafe on the 8th floor which was a great lunchtime choice. The portions were decent and the food was fresh and a little different. I had toast with cucumber and guacamole. They also had a variety of soups and salads to choose from.
Being on the 8th floor was just where you want to start your tour of the Whitney. The gallery on this level included artwork from 1910 to 1940 – as you descend the levels, the artwork displayed increases chronologically; so the 7th floor has works from 1925 to 1960 and the 6th floor is 1950 – 1975, and so on.
My favorite floor was the 6th floor. Anyone who was on a Greenwich Village tour with us would recognize the George Segal lifelike sculpture of people set in different situations. In Greenwich Village Segal’s sculpture is across from the famed Stonewall Inn in the park area of Christopher Square. The statues here pay tribute the Stonewall Riots, when police raided the homosexual hang out, the outcome becoming known in history as the first time that homosexuals fought back for their rights. The sculpture at the Whitney is called “Walk, Don’t Walk” which includes his plaster and cement figures at an electronic cross walk light fixture. This one just begs you to be photographed in it. The New York Times said of Walk, Don’t Walk: ” . . . the figures . . . know that life is full of challenges, of hardship, but they are ready to soldier on, to move forward in the world.”
What is most dramatic about the museum, I thought, were the outside spaces. The architect, Renzo Piano, created areas to sit, stand, and dwell on the art outside – NYC! The beauty of the city is all around and some of the views are spectacular. There are comfortable chairs to sit and lounge and gaze at the city sites. Once again, I am convinced, there’s nothing like New York!