METROPOLITAN MUSEUM

Fashion Collection at the Met

Fashion Collection at the Met

Can you really see New York in three days? We sure tried, we wanted to give Lana, our guest, the grand tour. In an email quote from her today. She said, “And my visit with you is still a highlight, despite the speed, as u say.”

Metropolitan Fashion collection

Metropolitan Fashion collection

I hoped we would get to at least two museums on Friday, the 5th, but alas, after only one, we were ready for the heap. Have you been to the Metropolitan lately? Egad, it’s a few cities in one building. It’s a place to get your fill of the innovative and of antiquity. The rooftop is amazing. If you don’t go anywhere else in this building, you must visit the rooftop. The glass-like structure, a 2-way mirror was fun, like the fun-house mirrors in a carnival.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rooftop glass garden exhibit until Nov. 2nd

Rooftop glass 2-way mirror garden exhibit until Nov. 2nd

Glass structure

Glass structure

There is an app for the Met, so you can plan your visit, but since I claim naivety in the app realm, we visited the Met without a plan.  At one time, I was familiar with the museum. I thought there would be no problem. I was sorely mistaken. The museum app starts with a lovely, clean design that begs to be explored. It doesn’t open on a home screen, but takes you immediately to its featured exhibitions, listing those that will end soonest at the top and exhorting you to “catch them while you can.” Clicking onto each exhibit’s page provides a nice description of the work being shown, while other sections of the app showcase both masterpieces and oddities in the museum’s extensive collection. These tabs are expertly curated, and echo the Met’s larger social media strategy, which feels surprisingly current for an institution filled with antiquities.

Entry into Temple Dendoor

Entry into Temple Dendoor

I was overwhelmed. But after a brief deep breath, I said, “Follow me.” I led Lana, and hubby Tom to the newest exhibition. The Temple of Dendur (Dendoor in nineteenth century sources) is an Egyptian temple that was built by the Roman governor of Egypt, Petronius, around 15 BC and dedicated to Isis, Osiris, as well as two deified sons of a local Nubian chieftain, Pediese (“he whom Isis has given”) and Pihor (“he who belongs to Horus“). The temple was commissioned by Emperor Augustus of Rome and has been exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York since 1978. If you haven’t seen this, it’s worth the trip, you get to walk through a real Egyptian temple. Those folks were really small, the door openings are quite narrow.

Central Park

Central Park

Lunch in the Member’s dining room, was the delight of the day, a lovely quiet space overlooking Central Park. Best place in the museum to dine. Next stop was to see the paintings, as much as we had the energy to see. 15-17th century, 18th century Impressionism, 19th century Hudson River, it was endless. To get to each exhibit, we walked miles and miles and miles. The museum is ten cities in one.

Monet

Monet

We had lots to see, so we ran, didn’t walk, over to the American Wing, since this was Lana’s first visit to America. Make sense? We whizzed through, which was frustrating for me since furniture and the decorative arts is part of my soul. But most important, I showed Lana and Tom (who bless his heart, chauffeured us into and out of the city) the Herter Brothers furniture that once graced the rooms at Lockwood, the very same company that decorated the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in 1867. I had to show Lana Lockwood, although we didn’t get there until Monday on the way to the airport.  Where else would she get her very own private tour of an American National historic landmark built in 1867.

What is your favorite at the Metropolitan Museum?

Albert Bierstadt part of an American Indian painting

Albert Bierstadt part of an American Indian painting in the West.

THE CLOISTERS

1024px-Penn_Station_NYC_main_entranceJust imagine. This image depicts the busiest hub in the world. Seriously. This is Penn Station, NYC at Madison Square Garden. We were there picking up our house guest. Lana, my editor’s daughter from South Africa, came to get the best tour ever of New York City, after four weeks with her daughter and new baby in Virginia. Tom manned the MDX, and I paced the sidewalk. We had never met and she had never been to the States. We had skyped briefly once or twice, so we knew what each of us looked like. She didn’t have to wear a red rose and neither did I, but just imagine finding each other in this people maze. We did it. She recognized me first, and a moment hence, I recognized her. She arrived mid-afternoon, Thursday, the 4th. The plan was not to waste a moment. The timing was perfect to visit the Cloisters on the way home. The first of many sights. We had every minute  of each day planned until she had to leave on Monday, the 8th. So, here goes. I will share what we experienced on this day. I hadn’t been to the Cloisters since the days of historic investigations while in interior design school, long, long ago.

The tower at the Cloisters

The tower at the Cloisters

The Cloisters is a museum located on a hill overlooking the Hudson River, in Fort Tryon Park in the Washington Heights section of Upper Manhattan, New York City. It is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, used to exhibit the museum’s extensive collection of art, architecture and artifacts from Medieval Europe.

P1110090

 

 

Lana in the cloistered garden

Lana in the cloistered gardens

The area around the buildings was landscaped with gardens planted according to horticultural information obtained from medieval manuscripts and artifacts, and the structure includes multiple medieval-style cloistered herb gardens.

 

Cloistered columns

The cloistered columns

The Cloisters was designated a New York City landmark in 1974, and Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters were listed together as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

History

One of the many tapestries

One of the many tapestries

The 66.5-acre Fort Tryon Park was created by the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. beginning in 1917, when he purchased the Billings Estate and other properties in the Fort Washington area and hired Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of one of the designers of Central Park, and the Olmsted Brothers firm to create a park, which he then donated to New York City in 1935. As part of the overall project, Rockefeller also bought the extensive medieval art collection of George Grey Barnard, an American sculptor and collector, who had already established a medieval-art museum near his home in Fort Washington, and gave it to the Metropolitan along with a number of pieces from Rockefeller’s own collection, including the Unicorn Tapestries. These became the core of the collection now housed at the Cloisters.

Vaulted ceiliings

Vaulted ceiliings

The museum was designed by Charles Collens who incorporated parts from five cloistered abbeys of Catalan, Occitan and French origins. Buildings from Sant Miquel de Cuixà, Sant Guilhèm dau Desèrt, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-en-Bigòrra, and Froville were disassembled stone-by-stone and shipped to New York City, where they were reconstructed and integrated by Collens into a cohesive whole by simplifying and merging the various medieval styles in his new buildings.

Collection

Medieval depiction of Christ on the cross. Notice the stiffness of this early work of art.

Medieval depiction of Christ on the cross.

The Cloisters collection contains approximately five thousand European medieval works of art, with a particular emphasis on pieces dating from the 12th through the 15th centuries. The Cloisters also holds many medieval manuscripts and illuminated books.

 

 

 

 

 

Library and Archives

The Cloisters Library is one of the Metropolitan Museum’s thirteen libraries. It contains 15,000 volumes of books. The Library and Archives contains Museum Administration papers, the personal papers of George Grey Barnard, early glass lantern slides of museum materials, curatorial papers, museum dealer records, scholars records, recordings of musical performances at the museum, and maps.

Italian Savonarola chair 15th-16th century. Back splat is embossed leather

Italian Savonarola chair 15th-16th century. Back splat is embossed leather

Although the Cloisters was established specifically to house Medieval Art, we noticed that over the years the collection grew, encompassing the art of later centuries up to and including the seventeenth century.

Friendly birds looking for handouts. We were seated right beside them.

Friendly birds looking for handouts. We were seated right beside them.

We enjoyed a rest and cool bottled water. Lana was shocked that the two waters, one carbonated, cost $8.00. So did we, in fact.

 

 

Come back for more of what we did during the days of Lana’s visit. It was amazing.

Did you find anything here inspiring you to visit the Cloisters? Be sure to take the tour.  Fascinating.

 

 

 

GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY


Green-Wood Gothic Revival Gate Entrance

Green-Wood Gothic Revival Gate Entrance

Did you know that New York’s Central Park, an historic landmark, was designed based on the lay of the land of a cemetery? The Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 as a rural cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. It was granted National Historic Landmark status in 2006 by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Located in Greenwood Heights,  it lies several blocks southwest of Prospect Park, between Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, Kensington, and Sunset Park. Paul Goldberger in The New York Times, wrote that it was said “it is the ambition of the New Yorker to live upon the Fifth Avenue, to take his airings in the Park, and to sleep with his fathers in Green-Wood.

The plots

The plots

Inspired by Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where a cemetery in a naturalistic park-like landscape in the English manner was first established, Green-Wood was able to take advantage of the varied topography provided by glacial moraines. Battle Hill, the highest point in Brooklyn and built in 1838, is on cemetery grounds, rising approximately 200 feet above sea level. As such, there on that spot in 1920, was erected a Revolutionary War monument by Frederick Ruckstull, Altar to Liberty: Minerva. From this height, the bronze Minerva statue gazes towards The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

Chapel

Chapel

The cemetery was the idea of Henry Evelyn Pierrepont, a Brooklyn social leader. It was a popular tourist attraction in the 1850s and was the place most famous New Yorkers who died during the second half of the nineteenth century were buried. It is still an operating cemetery with approximately 600,000 graves spread out over 478 acres (1.9 km²). The rolling hills and dales, several ponds and an on-site chapel provide an environment that still draws visitors.

Decorative Sylvan Water pond at the cemetery

Decorative Sylvan Water pond at the cemetery

There are several famous monuments located there, including a statue of DeWitt Clinton and a Civil War Memorial. During the Civil War, Green-Wood Cemetery created the “Soldiers’ Lot” for free veterans’
burials.

The gates were designed by Richard Upjohn in Gothic Revival style. The main entrance to the cemetery was built in 1861 of Belleville brownstone. The sculptured groups depicting biblical scenes from the New Testament are the work of John M. Moffitt. A Designated Landmarks of New York plaque was erected on it in 1958 by the New York Community Trust.

mausoleum swiss chalet

mausoleum Swiss chalet

Several wooden shelters were also built, including one in a Gothic Revival style,

Gothic Revival mausoleum

Gothic Revival mausoleum

and another resembling a Swiss chalet. A descendent colony of monk parakeets that are believed to have escaped their containers while in transit now nests in the spires of the Gothic Revival gate, as well as other areas in Brooklyn.

Green-Wood has remained non-sectarian, but was generally considered a Christian burial place for white Anglo-Saxon Protestants of good repute. One early regulation was that no one executed for a crime, or even dying in jail, could be buried there. Although he died in the Ludlow Street Jail, the family of the infamous “Boss” Tweed managed to circumvent this rule.

The cemetery was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2006. In 1999, The Green-Wood Historic Fund, a not-for-profit institution, was created to continue preservation, beautification, educational programs and community outreach as the current “working cemetery” evolves into a Brooklyn cultural institution.

A piece of Egypt

A piece of Egypt

Cemeteries are architectural landscape wonders. I took my interior design students to Green-Wood Cemetery to sketch the mausoleums. Some structures looked like cottages, some looked like  palaces. I remember this one, fashioned after an Egyptian pyramid. I have sketched and painted cemetery landscapes. How about you, what do cemeteries mean to you? Do you like cemeteries?

Resource: Wikipedia

 

GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

The Gothic style, 1150-1500, originated in France and spread over the whole of western Europe.

Rose medallion window

Round centered rose medallion colored glass window above the large windows

Tracery

Tracery sections outlining the center of this window

Flying buttresses

Flying buttresses

Gothic art and architecture were the spirit of piety, humility and asceticism, which was the fundamental teaching of the church during the Middle Ages. The style was to appeal to the emotional side of a joyless people who were steeped in ignorance and superstition.

Notre Dame section

Notre Dame section

Chartres Cathedral, France

Chartres Cathedral, France

Typical architectural features  are the pointed arch, ribbed vault, rose medallion windows, tracery and the supporting flying buttresses. Gothic cathedrals are tall, with soaring arches pointing heavenward. Rays of sunlight pour through high, stained-glass windows and bathe the wood, masonry and marble. Walls, columns, entrances and doors are carved with figures and scenes from the Bible.

Not only great cathedrals and abbeys but also hundreds of smaller churches were built in the style. A style that not only was expressed in architecture but in sculpture, painting, and all the minor and decorative arts.

Trinity Church in New York’s Wall Street area at 75 Broadway was built in 1846 by architect Richard Upjohn as Gothic Revival.  The Revival style became prevalent from the mid to the end of the nineteenth century.

Have you been to France’s Chartres, Notre Dame or New York’s Trinity Church? Would you like to play hide and seek in one of these buildings?

 

NEW YORK’S WRECKING BALL

Looks like one of New York City’s top museums, The Frick, could become another mammoth site. One of my favorites, is going bye, bye. Not that they are destroying the existing, but rather stretching its wings. This expansion will eliminate the prized garden on East 70th Street and revamp how this mansion is used.

New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has the power to turn down the proposed expansion that will wipe out

Frick Garden

Frick Garden

the cherished garden with an inelegant addition. Our city has suffered from tearing down the old beautiful buildings from the Gilded Age and replacing them with clumsy additions. Remember the handsome historic Beaux-Arts Penn Station, built in 1910, on West 34th Street and 8th Avenue, by architects McKim, Mead and White? For the sake of New York City’s wing stretching, it was taken down in 1963 and replaced with a modern version in 1969, a characterless space. New York suffers from an ephemeral philosophy. Do we really need to continue to destroy our precious history?

Entry

Entry

In a recent article in the New York Times, by Michael Kimmelman, he said, “New Yorkers have seen the consequences of trustee restlessness and real estate magical thinking, which destroy or threaten to undo favorite buildings.” Kimmelman goes on to remind us about buildings that had additions stuck onto them, and then the use of the building flopped. “Even the New York Public Library wanted to disembowel its historic building at 42nd Street before thinking better of it.” said Kimmelman.

Dining room

Dining room

Although the Met does have a great decorative arts collection, just think of how Frick gathered his  to decorate his mansion. What the Frick has meant to me is its personal, magnificent, historic works. While studying interior design at the New York School of Interior Design, I spent many hours and days studying, sketching and absorbing history. Housed on Fifth Avenue in his former home, the private collection of Henry Frick is the perfect escape from the larger galleries and museums. This is a great spot to unwind after a long morning walking and of course enjoying the shops, the people and the architecture.

Conservatory

Conservatory

The central conservatory space can be peaceful and relaxing. Try to time your visit with one of the free talks provided. The museum staff is knowledgeable. The audio guide excellent.

In 1910, Frick purchased property at Fifth Avenue and 70th Street to construct a mansion, now known as The Frick Collection. Built to a massive size and covering a full city block, Frick told friends he was building it to “make rival Carnegie’s place look like a miner’s shack.”

Frick collection gallery

Frick collection gallery

To this day, the Frick Collection is home to one of the finest collections of European paintings in the United States. It contains many works of art dating from the pre-Renaissance up to the post-Impressionist eras, but in no logical or chronological order. It includes several very large paintings by J. M. W. Turner and John Constable.

Living room

Living room

In addition to paintings, it also contains exhibitions of carpets, porcelain, sculptures, and period furniture. Frick continued to live at both his New York mansion and at Clayton until his death in 1919.

Frick and his wife Adelaide had booked tickets to travel back to New York on the inaugural trip of the Titanic, along with J.P. Morgan. The couple canceled their trip after Adelaide sprained her ankle in Italy and missed the disastrous voyage.

What are you thoughts? Is bigger better? Should they stretch their wings and make another New York behemoth out of this charming historic mansion?

SO–YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER!

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Connecticut Writers Welcome Bestselling Suspense Author to Teach Multi-Day Workshop

Cherry Adair to teach master class workshop to writers of all genres this fall

Meriden, CT–July 28, 2014–Connecticut Romance Writers of America (CTRWA) is pleased to announce they will be welcoming author Cherry Adair

Cherry Adair, Author

Cherry Adair, Author

to teach a master level workshop, “Everything and the Kitchen Sink.” The workshop will take place at the Four-Points Sheraton in Meriden, CT, on September 13-14, 2014. Writers of all genres are welcome and can benefit from this workshop.

Adair will be teaching writers how to build 3-D characters who leap off the page, how to create luminous dialogue, and how to layer and texture your novel so that every word does at least two jobs. Students will learn the elements of plotting in order to write faster and smarter. Adair will even discuss how to construct a viable career plan so writers can have the career they want. Many CTRWA members have attended Adair’s workshops in the past and can attest to her passion for both writing and teaching.

New York Times/USA Today bestselling author Cherry Adair has carved a niche for herself with her sexy, sassy, fast-paced, action adventure novels which have appeared on numerous bestsellers lists, won dozens of awards and garnered praise from reviewers and fans alike. She hates first drafts, has a passion for mentoring unpublished writers, and is hard at work on three series – T-FLAC, CUTTER CAY and LODESTONE.

For more details on how to register for the workshop, as well as information about the hotel, please visit www.ctrwa.org and go to the heading “Cherry Adair Master Class.”

Cherry Adair is Imaginative, inventive, innovative and, oh yes. . .fun. She is patient, yet stirs things up. I speak from personal experience, Cherry was one of my teachers. She is lovable and as personable as it gets.  And to add to the pot brewing great stuff, the writers you will meet at this workshop are some of the nicest, kindest, best people you will ever shake hands with, hmm, bump hands. (To avoid 90% of the germs you get with our traditional handshake.)

It’s easy to register, see the link above, or here it is again: www.ctrwa.org and go to the heading “Cherry Adair Master Class.”

What do you think? Want to have a wonderful day learning about writing? Now’s your chance. Go for it!

 

JONES BEACH

wave jumpingI was alone. A sultry day in July, the air was blazing, the temperature in the nineties. Jumping into the giant soaring waves was revitalizing, refreshing, exciting. I waited for the next, then the next and jumped into it as it pounded down around me. Suddenly, I found myself under the waves gasping for air and flailing my arms as the force of nature pulled me under. Would someone see a child in distress and come to my rescue? I never noticed a lifeguard on duty, who even thought about it? I tried to scramble out onto the safety of the beach, but instead, the undertow pulled me further into the ocean. wave giant at Jones beachOne more time, and I thought I would drown. With all my might, I pushed myself up towards the beach, then finally, finally I stood up and with difficulty moved by feet through the pull of the water to the beach.  Are you questioning how I could remember? Since that day, I have told the story lots. Never, I promised myself, will that happen to me again. And it hasn’t. I don’t go into the ocean when the waves are bigger than me. I was pretty tall for my age of eight, and was a good swimmer, but it didn’t make a difference. I was at the mercy of the ocean. We had a cottage just up the street, in Rockaway Beach. That’s in Queens, New York. The experience put a damper on being an ocean lover. The almost drowning is what I think of when I witness gigantic waves like the ones at Jones Beach. I spent many a summer at Jones Beach watching my kids jump in and out of the waves. Can’t stop kidsharkss from doing their own wave challenges, but I was ready in a moment’s notice to jump in if one of my kids needed me.

New York beaches are far from innocent, not only are there dangerous undertows, but now there is an increase in shark population. Be on the lookout.

The beaches are rich in culture, have soft sparkly sand and clean water to swim.  Jones Beach is actually a state park, founded by Robert Moses.  It has bathhouses, an outdoor aWaverena and a long boardwalk. When Moses’ group first surveyed Jones Island, it was swampy and only two feet above sea level; the island frequently became completely submerged during storms. To create the park, huge dredgers worked day till midnight to bring sand from the bay bottom, eventually bringing the island to twelve feet above sea level. Another problem that followed was the wind—the fine silver beach sand would blow horribly, making the workers miserable and making the use of the beach as a recreational facility unlikely. Moses sent landscape architects to other stable Long Island beaches, who reported that a beach grass (Ammophilia arenaria), whose roots grew sideways in search of water, held dunes in place, forming a barrier to the wind. In the summer of 1928, thousands of men worked on the beach planting the grass by hand.

Indian Village tipiIn 1930,   Robert Moses hired Rosebud Yellow Robe as Director of the Indian Village at Jones Beach State Park. Rosebud became a public celebrity to thousands of children who visited the village  every summer from 1930 to 1950, It was created as a Plains Indian village with three large tipis. The large Council Tipi contained museum cases with artifacts borrowed from the American Museum of History. The other tipis served as clubhouses for the children. Rosebud told stories and folklore of the Lakota and local Eastern Woodlands tribes.

Rosebud worked as Director of the Indian Village

Rosebud

Rosebud

for years, and taught tens of thousands of school children and several generations of New Yorkers about Native American history and culture. Rosebud recalled, “When I first lectured to public school classes in New York, many of the smaller children hid under their desks, for they knew from the movies what a blood-thirsty scalping Indian might do to them.”

Jones Beach is accessible by carsummeratJonesbeach, boat bicycle, and in the summer season by bus or even the Long Island Rail Road to Freeport and then a bus. There are fire works at Zach’s Bay on July 4th. There is a $10 cost for parking. A $65 New York State Empire Passport can be used to park for free.

New York beaches are all over the state. Do you like the beach? Where would you go?

I LOVE NEW YORK-SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW?

brooklynnavyydI grew up in my beloved  borough of Brooklyn. It was just over the bridge to the city where I visited museums,  art galleries, shopped Bloomies, boutiques and did design school.  Don’t ask–I practically lived in the city. After today’s lecture at the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, CT, I learned about a whole new Brooklyn and New York that I never knew. Historian Justin Ferate talked about hidden houses, insider’s clubs, offbeat treasures, secret gardens, and things like the monument dedicated to the our soldiers that died in the revolutionary war.

Monument 2

Monument was designed by architect Stanford White

The Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument in Fort Greene Park, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, is a memorial to the more than 11,500 American prisoners of war who died in captivity aboard sixteen British prison ships during the American Revolutionary War. The remains of a small fraction of those who died on the ships are interred in a crypt beneath its base. The ships included the HMS Jersey, the Scorpion, the Hope, the Falmouth, the Stromboli, Hunter, and others.

The column carries this inscription: “1776 THE PRISON SHIP MARTYRS MONUMENT 1908″. The grand staircase of 100 80-feet-wide granite steps rises in three stages. At the foot of the staircase, the entrance to the vault was covered by a slab of brown sandstone, now in storage, that bears the names of the 1808 monument committee and builders and this inscription: Their remains were first gathered and interred in 1808. In 1867 landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, designers of Central Park and Prospect Park, were engaged to prepare a new design for Washington Park as well as a new crypt for the remains of the prison ship martyrs. In 1873, after urban growth hemmed in that site near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the remains were moved and re-interred in a crypt beneath a small monument. Funds were raised for a larger monument, which was designed by noted architect Stanford White. Constructed of granite, its single Doric column 149 feet (45 m) in height sits over the crypt at the top of a 100-foot (30 m)-wide 33 step staircase. At the top of the column is an eight-ton bronze brazier, a funeral urn, by sculptor Adolf Weinman. President-elect William Howard Taft delivered the principal address when the monument was dedicated in 1908.

Plaque at the bottom of the monument

Plaque at the bottom of the monument

A plaque was added in 1960 located across from the front label on the monument. The plaque reads:

In memory of the 11,500 patriotic American sailors and soldiers who endured untold suffering and died on the prison British ships anchored in Wallabout Bay during the Revolutionary War 1776- 1782. Their remains lie buried in the crypt at the base of this monument which was dedicated on November 14, 1908. This plaque was afforded by The Society of Old Brooklynites on June 1, 1960. Farelly Crane M.D. President.

18th century ships

18th century ships

During the Revolutionary War, the British maintained a series of prison ships in the New York Harbor and jails on the shore for captured prisoners of war. Due to brutal conditions, more Americans died in British jails and prison ships in New York Harbor than in all the battles of the American Revolutionary War.

The British quickly disposed of the bodies of the dead from the jails and ships by quick interment or throwing the bodies overboard. Following the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783, the remains of those who died on the 16 prison ships were neglected, left to lie along the Brooklyn shore on Wallabout Bay, a rural area little visited by New Yorkers. On January 21, 1877, the New York Times reported that the dead came from all parts of the nation and “every state of the Union was represented among them.”

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Justin speak, run and sign up. He is a font of information presented with great spirit. All spoken off the cuff, no notes in his hands, only a powerful power point presentation with beautiful images.

What secret places do you know?

HISTORIC SECRETS

Urban historian and renowned travel guide Justin Ferate will present "Nooks and Crannies of New York City," including this Stanford White-designed mansion on Park Avenue, on Wednesday, July 16, at a lecture-lunch at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk. Photo: Contributed Photo

Hampden Robb Mansion by Architect Stanford White, 1891, in Murray Hill, Manhattan.

Here’s a lecture you might want to hear. Especially if you love historic explorations. New York city is filled with historic wonder. Urban historian Justin Ferate — described by The New York Times as the “revered city Tour Guide among Tour Guides” — will give an “insider’s virtual tour” of the “Nooks and Crannies of New York City.”

On Wednesday, July 16, Ferate will present a lecture at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum. The event will include lunch and a tour of the first floor at the National Historic Landmark. Reservations will be accepted through Friday, July 11.

NYC clock tower“Ferate will take attendees on a virtual tour through some of New York City’s rich, secretive landmarks, many unknown to even the most diehard New Yorkers. He will reveal fascinating, yet lesser-known points of interests in one of the most iconic cities in the world, including some of New York’s more offbeat treasures, secret gardens, hidden houses and covert byways,” according to the museum.

Ferate is director of Tours of the City, a specialty company that has created educational tours of New York, focusing on the architectural, social, ethnic, literary and cultural histories of the city for more than 30 years.

Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, 295 West Ave., Norwalk. Wednesday, July 16, 11 a.m. $30, includes a great lunch and first-floor mansion tour that will dazzle you. 203-838-9799, ext. 4 or email: info@lockwoodmathewsmansion.com.

PENNY-FARTHING

200px-Kangaroo_Bicycle_RevPenny-farthing, high wheel, high wheeler, and ordinary, are all terms used to describe a type of bicycle with a large front wheel and a much smaller rear wheel that was popular after the boneshaker, until the development of the safety bicycle, in the 1880s. They were the first machines to be called ‘bicycles’. highwheel13v

Although they are now most commonly known as “penny-farthings”, this term was probably not used until they were nearly outdated; the first recorded print reference is 1891 in Bicycling News. It comes from the British penny and farthing coins, one much larger than the other, so that the side view resembles a penny leading a farthing. For most of their reign, they were simply known as “bicycles”. In the late 1890s, the retronym “ordinary” began to be used, to distinguish them from the emerging safety bicycles, and this term or Hi-wheel (and variants) is preferred by many modern enthusiasts.

P1100509Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum in Norwalk, Connecticut had their ice cream social on Sunday, June 22, 2014. Reminiscent of the days long, long ago, so many women were dressed in their Victorian day dresses, men in top hats, and James and his penny-Farthing.

James on his own Penny-farthing

James on his own Penny-farthing

What a strange name for this mode of transportation from the late 19th century. Although the trend was short-lived, the penny-farthing became a symbol of the late Victorian era. I asked James to demonstrate the penny-farthing for me. He had to run next to it in order to get on. Then he mounted it while running, drove around, came back and dismounted, sliding off over the small wheel. Strange, but it didn’t seem too difficult, as long as you don’t ask me to do it. He told me he rides every weekend, and that he belongs to an antique bicycle club called the “Wheelmen.” components of a penny-farthing

In 1888, when John Dunlop re-invented the pneumatic tire for his son’s tricycle, the high wheel was made obsolete. The comfortable ride once found only on tall wheels could now be enjoyed on smaller chain-driven bicycles. By 1893, high-wheelers were no longer being produced. Use lingered into the 1920s in track cycling until racing safety bicycles were perfected. Today, enthusiasts ride restored penny-farthings, and a few manufacturers build new ones.

Have you ever tried to ride a penny-farthing?