Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New York 2016

This city has undergone a revival in the last 20 years. On my yearly visits, I always find something old and new. Not all that looks old is; for example, St John the Divine Cathedral that looks like a medieval European one, started construction in 1892 and is said that it will take 700 years to complete.  It claims to be the biggest cathedral in the world but others claim that it is among the 5 biggest. It is in the Gothic style and Episcopalian denomination. But I would say of eclectic practice due to the various offices that take place such as days for the blessing of the animals, bicycles, solstice rituals and Halloween celebrations and more.

It has Apocalyptic pillars depicting the destruction of New York City and figurines expressing the corruption of finances, gluttony and more; these I found interesting and was surprised to find them in a church. One of the carvings in the front of the church represents George Washington; I did not know that he was elevated to sainthood, but wait, you also find Lincoln, Einstein, Gandhi and others here too.

Next to the cathedral is a park with the Peace Fountain representing the battle between God and Evil.  Created in bronze in 1985; includes a muscular Archangel Michael defeating the devil, surrendered by giraffes representing peacefulness.  At the bottom of the statue the devil is hanging between crab claws. Traditionally of religion, all visitors are warned of all the “shall not” practices forbidden in the park, otherwise the devil will devour the transgressors. 

The Cathedral is in a typical NYC neighborhood where the mundane shares the space with the celestial. Have you ever seen a truck with a see-thru window?  And I saw rats in the park; maybe they learned to read.

I previously covered the elevated abandoned railroad tracks in the West Side that were recycled and now called the High Line in a previous blog. Now it is the Hunter’s Point area, also an old railroad related area where the gantries were used to load and unload railroad cars from the river barges, undergoing a similar transformation, the  Queen’s Gantry Plaza Estate Park.

The Pepsi Cola sign dating from 1936 was rescued from the company’s bottling facility that was demolished in the same area.  After restoration it was located here in 2009 and measures 120 x 60 feet,I a nice addition to the area. The building under construction is going to be a library when completed.  

A few blocks away from the waterfront, the area is being gentrified and old dilapidated homes and buildings renovated, and yes, I added graffiti to my collection. It was stitched from several photos taken with an iPhone.

Further away from the city, I visited Philipsburg Manor, an XVIII century farm with a watermill located near Tarrytown, where Washington Irving wrote the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow”.  The statue of the soldier is a World War I memorial with a plaque honoring 8 soldiers that died in the war and another with a list of 196 that served in that war.

Kykuit was built by John D. Rockefeller near Mount Pleasant overlooking the Hudson River.  It is now a National Historic landmark, and Nelson Rockefeller, the former governor of New York was the last of the family to live there. Inside is it not much different than a British Manor House, to which modern enhancements added by Nelson that added and underground gallery containing works of arts by mostly XXth century artists.

The estate has large gardens with a golf course, stables for horses that evolved into garages where a collection of horse carriage and gasoline vehicles owned by the family are now on display, and other utility buildings.  The gardens have gazebos, a grotto, covered walkways, garden sculptures and water fountains. Rockefeller family members still live in the estate but it is open for public tours. The last image is a concrete step to allow for an easy mounting of the horses; I saw these devices for the first time in London.