All of Us!

All of Us!
Finally! All together with enough time to spare (??) to capture a picture of all six of us in the same spot, same time. Now this is a precious photo! I tried to get one last year for our Christmas card and didn't succeed. So when I had the chance I threw out the lasso and rounded everyone up (at my niece's graduation party) to grab a couple snapshots. My oldest son, Casey, and his girlfriend Nika are on the left; and my youngest son, Brady, and his girlfriend Jenne on the right; that leaves Bob and I in the center. (Bob is the one who doesn't look very happy about having his picture taken!!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Big Apple: Day 3, Part 4: MoMA

Can you believe it?  Still on Day 3 -- hope you aren't getting too tired! My butt has been sitting on the Gray Line Tour Bus now for a few hours, so it is time to get our walking shoes on and what better place to start then to get our minds bent around some fantastic pieces of artwork as we head into MoMA -- the Museum of Modern Art.  

Sidewalk view as we approach MoMA
MoMA is an art museum in Midtown Manhattan on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. With over 2.5 million visitors a year, it’s collections offer an unparalleled overview of modern and contemporary art.  So much so, that sometimes my mind was blown away by some of it and at other times my mind couldn’t really comprehend it (or more specifically why someone would create such a piece of art – but each to his own).  Art is something like the saying about beauty – “it is all in the eye of the beholder” – and in this case, yes, the beholder, and yes, the creator.  Some interesting facts to note are that MoMA’s library and archives hold over 300,000 books, artist books, and periodicals, as well as individual files on more than 70,000 artists.  What I also find a little interesting, since we just got off the bus after touring Rockefeller Plaza – and we are still in the area – is its history.  So let me share a little behind the scenes on this.
History: In 1928, the idea for MoMA was sprung primarily by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (wife of John D. Rockefeller Jr.) and two of her friends, Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan.  (Remember – John Jr. is the creator of Rockefeller Plaza).  Anyway, these three women (assigned various nicknames such as "the Ladies", "the daring ladies" and "the adamantine ladies") rented a small domicile in the Heckscher Building at 730 Fifth Avenue and opened its doors to the public on November 7, 1929.  (The date is significant as it was nine days after the Wall Street Crash). Beginning with an initial gift of eight prints and one drawing, its holdings quickly expanded.  Later in that month they had their first loan exhibition displaying paintings by such renown artists such as Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Seurat.  

MoMA was first housed in six rooms on the 12th floor of the Heckscher Building, but due to its growth, within ten years moved into three temporary locations.  Adamantly opposing the museum and to modern art itself, was Abby’s husband, John Rockefeller, Jr., and hence he refused to give money to this cause.  She had to seek funds from other sources and thus the frequent shifts in location.  John, Jr., eventually came around and ended up becoming one of MoMA’s greatest benefactors.  In fact, he eventually donated the land for its current site.  In 1939, Abby’s son, Nelson, was selected to become its president.  He was the main instigator and funder of its expansion, publicity and new acquisitions.  His brother, David, next joined the board of trustees in 1948 and took over as president when Nelson became Governor of New York in 1958.  The Rockefeller family with is historic influence has still to this day maintained a close association with the museum. 

Considered by many to have the best collection of modern Western masterpieces in the world, MoMA's holdings include more than 150,000 individual pieces in addition to approximately 22,000 films and 4 million film stills. 
Sum of Days

"Sum Of Days":  This was a somewhat weird gigantic display and we weren’t really sure what we were in for when we entered.  But it was the first thing we came to so off into “something” we went.  It is described as a complex, elliptical network of pathways through a structure of translucent white fabric.  It is supposed to heighten your awareness of your surroundings.  There are a series of microphones hung at various heights which records ambient noise; each day’s sound is combined with the previous days’ recordings and played back through several speakers inside the structure.  While each new layer of audio is added, the oldest noises gradually diminish into whispers, pat of an auditory condensation that builds up throughout the duration of the exhibition.  Musical performances take place in the structure periodically, adding another element to the audio dimension.  

Nika walking through Sum of Days
At first,I didn't really get this huge display -- well, probably because we didn't read about it until after we walked through it. When you first approach it and you see this huge billowing fabric hung from the ceiling with a series of speakers and microphones hanging down inside the maze that you walked through (you can see them hanging down in the picture below), you are a little skeptical. 

But, remember, we are in the Modern Museum of Art -- the key word here being "modern" -- so we knew from the start that our trip through this kingdom of modern and contemporary art was going to be a little different than some of the typical art hung in your living room or on the walls in your office would be.  Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore!

 Art -- it is so varied. 

Inside Sum of Days

Now as we proceed, I will remind you once again, that we are in a museum that contains contemporary art.  And, as I said before art is varied, so keep an open mind.  Having repeated that, the next exhibition we went through was "Thing/Thought" which, once we entered and hurried through, I can honestly tell you that neither of us were too interested in it. It was just typed documents of people's thoughts.  Onward...

Sign directing us to Thing/Thought Exhibition

And then we come to displays that definitely catch your eye, as did this whole wall in bright candy apple red and orange.

Next, we entered another modern art exhibition hall that contained, again, written words, on display.  A little bizarre, a little interesting; we may have walked on, but there is something, sometimes, about written words that sort of grab your attention and make you think.  You will see what I mean as you read the displays.  
"Money Never Sleeps"

Hmmmmmm . . . see what I mean!  As we walked through, I couldn't help but take pictures of some of these displays.  Again, sort of like reading a profound thought of the day.  You see it, read it, then just when you think you aren't interested in it, you relay it to your own self.  The same with these phrases of art. 
"Never Send a Human . . ."
Nika taking a picture through the artwork

Now this is something which I am more attune to as modern art.  It filled the whole window.  I couldn't help but catch a picture of Nika who was taking a picture of the outside through one of the circles.  

After the frightening and devastating attacks of 9/11, there was a design contest held as to concept proposals for construction of memorials for the World Trade Center.  At right is one of the concepts.  There were many displayed, all very unique.  I don't want to say that it was exactly eerie when you walked amongst these displays, but you could sort of feel that in the room.  A definite feeling of sadness, maybe better described as more poignant.  

 The concepts behind each of these paintings that follow are probably only thoughts that each of us comprehend at the time of development.  An artist sees or imagines something that begins the creative flow for the birth of a piece of art.  For example, the painting End of World, below right, in this artist's mind, this is his/her conception of what the end of the world would be.  My son, Casey, is an artist.  His many paintings and drawings are profound in thought.  Some I can conceptualize -- others I cannot.  Again, as I said art in itself is varied. 
End of World
This piece was human size
Tabletop Fan

What is this, you ask?  It is a tabletop fan, I respond.  The plug is huge, and I imagine that the blades (or at least one) has become twisted by some adverse event.  But the concept is there -- distorted a bit by what the artist imagined it as -- a semi-abstract piece of artwork.  

3D Sculpture
Bigger than Life-size
I Still Use Brushes
All of the displays shown above which I took pictures of, I found very interesting.  I am not one too much for abstract art.  Never cared too much for it when I took Art class (Sorry Mr. Schlumpf!) but again, each to his own.  

What I find fascinating, however, is artwork like the I Still Use Brushes, above, which was created in 1969.  Can you figure out what this is? Under the glass it is all small red paint brushes and some red paint embedded in plastic in a box.  How neat is that! It is so vibrant and appealing to the eye from faraway that you would not guess what it is until you creep up to it.  Once you know the concept, you can see it in a different light.  

Now onto the semi-abstract nudes.  Don't worry, these aren't rated X.  
Another Semi-Abstract Nude
Semi Abstract Partial Nude
Interesting Concept
Semi-Abstract Nude

Then after getting through the exhibits of the nudes which were basically all semi-abstracts, we headed into the exhibitions halls that had the abstracts, as depicted by the one to the right.  I know I said before that I'm not one that is interested in abstracts, but I do, however, appreciate abstracts of certain designs and colors that catch my eye and this one most certainly did with the grays, blacks and beiges and the 3-d effect the shadowing accomplished.  

Unfortunately, this is kind of where things came to a halt.  I received a phone call from my sister, Kristi, who was taking my mom to the emergency room. When someone starts out a conversation with you (especially when you are on vacation out of state) with a "I don't want to alarm you or freak you out, but. . ." it is never a good thing.  My mom was having problems that they hadn't quite diagnosed but it was resembling things along the line of a stroke or heart attack.  I felt helpless at this point and a little deflated.  Plus, I guess I lost interest in continuing on through MoMA.  I was promised that as soon as they heard something, Kristi would let me know and keep me updated.  

Now the story behind all this is that my mom really wanted to make this trip with me.  But I was told by a few that maybe my first trip to New York City might not be a good time for my mom to go along.  I was advised that there is a lot of walking that I would need to do, a lot of stair climbing (subways, etc.), so maybe the best thing to do would be to scope it out first and then on the next trip I would be better accustomed to what NYC offers to know what she would and would not be able to do.  Maybe, at this point I was feeling a little guilty, but yet at the same time, a little relieved that she didn't come along, because what if this would have happened while she was on the trip. With mixed emotions swirling through my head, the mood was obviously broken to wrap my head around any more serious concepts of artwork, Nika and I decided to leave.  

As soon as we are outside, we decided to make a pit stop at the hotel so I can change shoes.  Yes, I am not afraid to admit the next two things -- my feet are killing me and that is compounded by the fact that I also have to pee -- really bad -- which I didn't realize until we have left MoMA (obviously I was distracted enough by the phone call not to realize that until then).  Thinking that I seriously am not going to make it back to the hotel in time, we search out my favorite "watering" hole -- MacDonald's!  I am not talking "watering" as in getting a drink, but as in getting rid of some! haha!  There really are no public bathrooms in New York City -- especially Manhattan, where we are.  The easiest place to go in and out of quickly when searching for a bathroom we found was Mickey D's.  If I have to buy something, that is fine because I can grab a bottle of water, but relief is all I want at the moment.  Once found, we scramble in and out and then off to the hotel.  

Along the way, I catch a picture of the Ziegfeld Theater.  So, now I need to give you a little lesson on the Ziegfeld. 

Ziegfeld Theatre

Ziegfeld Theatre:  Originally built in 1927, the Ziegfeld Theatre is a Broadway theater located at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and 54th Street in Manhattan, but was razed in 1966. The second theater which was designed as a single screen movie theater, opened in 1969.

The Ziegfeld was originally built for Broadway plays, but during the Great Depression, its usage changed to operate as a movie theater.  In 1944 a showman, Billy Rose, bought it and once again changed its operation.  NBC leased it  for use as a television studio from 1955 to 1963. The Perry Como Show was broadcast from the theater beginning in 1956. And then in 1963 the Ziegfeld reopened as a legitimate Broadway theater. However, this was short-lived as in 1966 it was torn down to make way for a skyscraper, what is now known as the Alliance Bernstein building. 

The second theater was opened just a few hundred feet from the original, again as a single-screen move house.  It is one of the last large-scale movie palaces built in the United States.  Under different ownership, digital projection was installed during the 2000's and now today it is the largest single screen cinema in New York and still continues to be the site of film premieres and gala events.   

Another tidbit:  Ever heard of the Ziegfeld Follies?  If not, the Ziegfeld Follies were a series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 through 1931.  They became a radio program in 1932 and 1936 as The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.  The Ziegfeld Follies were conceived and advanced by Florenz Ziegfeld.  If you have heard of the follies and to answer the next question posed in your mind -- yes, the Ziegfeld Theatre was named for this famed Broadway enterpriser, Florenz Ziegfeld, who interestingly enough built it with financial backing from William Randolph Hearst.  Now you know a little more about the famous Ziegfeld Theatre. 

Okay, back to our journey at hand.  My shoes are now changed, so we are going to hop on the subway to head off to our next plan of action -- the American Museum of Natural History.  As it was now getting later in the day, we knew full well that we weren't going to be able to do the whole museum, but we thought we could at least get a start.  The entrance to the subway to catch train that we need is conveniently right beside our hotel.  Next, we are off to another first for me -- my first subway ride!  Looking forward to this first, too!  

I think I will stop here for the moment and let you catch a breath.  My next post will be all about the next museum on our list.  Well, it will be a start at least.  It is a big, big journey, so it is a good thing we are only getting a small start on it.  

Until that next post . . . oops, hold the horses -- you were wondering about Mother?  A phone call from Kristi relays to me that she is fine.  No major problems, which calms my racing mind and heart.  Love ya, Mother! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Big Apple: Day 3, Part 3: Kriser Dental to Rockefeller Center

Well, here we are, still on Day 3 but finishing up on our bus tour for the day.  At the end of the last post we found ourselves in an area of medical services, and that is exactly where we will continue today.  First stop (or drive-by) is the Kriser Dental Center.

NYU's Kriser Dental Center
Kriser Dental Center - The New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) is one of 14 schools and divisions at New York University. Located near Manhattan's Midtown area, currently it is well known for its strong clinical training, outstanding research ranking, and a wide and diverse patient pool.  Founded in 1865 as the "New York College of Dentistry," It merged with NYU in 1925. NYUCD is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the United States.  In 1987 New York University dedicated the David B. Kriser Dental Center.  David B. Kriser, an industrialist and graduate of NYU Law School, was also a major benefactor of Beth Israel Medical Center and New York University (both of which you saw in the last post), where various medical services bear his name.  Through the years, Kriser donated nearly $6 million to Beth Israel where its Department of Emergency Medicine is named in his honor. But more noteworthy here, is that Kriser donated $50 million for this building of what is now known and named in his honor as the Kriser Dental Center.

Bellevue Hospital
Bellevue Hospital
Bellevue Hospital - Founded in March 1736, Bellevue Hospital Center, most often referred to as "Bellevue,"  is the oldest public hospital in the United States. Located in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, Bellevue is famous from many literary, film and television references, and as the training ground for many of America's leaders in medicine. Affiliated with NYU's School of Medicine since 1968, Bellevue has been the site of many milestones in the history of medicine, from the establishment of the first ambulance service and first maternity ward, to Nobel Prize-winning cardiac catheterization laboratory.  You should also note that if President Obama were in New York and needed medical attention, this is the hospital where he would be treated. 

Marginally Crazy, Huh?  What is the first things that pops into your mind if someone uttered the word "Bellevue"? Hmmm...psycho?  Bellevue has been portrayed in many films as a hospital treating patients with psychiatric problems.  Rightfully so, because Bellevue is exceptionally well known for its psychiatric facilities. 
Since 1998 the building which once served as the hospital's psychiatric facility has been used as a homeless intake center and a men's homeless shelter.  Another honor is that its emergency department has being named New York's #1 hospital in Emergency Care by New York Magazine. 

Underprivileged: As the original facility of New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, it is open to patients of all backgrounds irrespective of ability to pay. More than 80 percent of Bellevue’s patients come from the city’s medically under-served populations.

NYU Langone Medical Center
NYU Medical Center:  NYU Langone Medical Center is an academic medical center in New York City affiliated with New York University. It was named to the Honor Roll of U.S. News "Best Hospitals" in the nation for 2009-2010. The Medical Center is comprised of the NYU School of Medicine and three hospitals: Tisch Hospital, the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, and the Hospital for Joint Diseases. NYU Langone's motto is that it "treats the whole person and not simply the disease." 

Who is the Medical Center named for? In 2008, Kenneth and Elaine Langone made a substantial donation, and the NYU Medical Center was subsequently named the NYU Langone Medical Center. Kenneth Langone is the chairman of the board of trustees. As a co-founder of Home Depot, Langone has used his success to contribute almost $150 million to various charities, focusing on universities, medical research and training, education, and helping children.  While he has donated millions of dollars to a wide variety of charities, his most recent contribution was $200 million to the NYU Langone Medical Center.

Nikas Brand Sidewalk Stands
Nikas Sidewalk Food Stands: Had to have a picture of this stand in honor of Nika. (See picture at right). Oh, and they have the best food there, too. We caught a bite to eat at these a couple times during our walk abouts.  Great sausages, mmmmm...making my mouth water the more I think about it!

Our Best Gray Line Tour Guide
Tour Guide: (Picture below, left). And of course, I would be amiss not to show you a picture of our tour guide for this day.  We had dubbed him our best guide out of all of the ones we had on the Gray Line tour.  During the initial start of our first day of our Gray Line tour, we had another terrific guide.  Then we got off at the Guggenheim and when we caught the next tour bus, we both agreed we weren't as fond of this next guide.  But this gentleman was a hoot!

Chrysler Building: If you look below in the picture to the right, you will see the famous Chrysler Building heading up into the clouds.  It is the one with the spiral on top. This Art Deco is  located on the east side of Manhattan in the Turtle Bay area at the intersection of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Completed in May 1930, at a height of 1,047 feet, it was the world's tallest building for 11 months before it was stripped of its title by the Empire State Building in 1931. After the 9/11 attacks and the destruction of the World Trade Center, it became, again, the second-tallest building in New York City until December 2007, when the Bank of America Tower's spire was raised bringing it to a height of 1,200 feet.  The Chrysler Building was hence knocked into third position.  It should also be noted that The New York Times Building, which opened in 2007, is exactly the same height as the Chrysler Building.  Once One World Trade Center was built, however, both buildings were then propelled into 4th position.
Chrysler Building

Original Construction and Completion: This building was specifically the headquarters of the Chrysler Corporation from 1930 until the 1950's.  It was built and designed entirely for the car manufacturer but the corporation itself did not pay for its construction and never owned it.  It the decision of  Walter P. Chrysler to pay for it himself, so that his children could inherit it.

Architecture:  Considered a leading model of Art Deco architecture, the building is graced by many different areas of ornamentation.  For example, the corners of the 61st floor are graced with eagles, and on the 31st floor, the corner ornamentation are replicas of the 1929 Chrysler radiator caps. It is also recognized for its terraced crown where the cladding is ribbed and riveted in a radiating sunburst pattern with many triangular windows.  The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Approaching the United Nations Building
United Nations: Completed in 1952, the headquarters of the United Nations ("UN"), a building complex built on 17 acres of land, is located in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan overlooking the East River. In the picture at left, as we are approaching the UN, just inside the perimeter fence you will see all the different colorful flags which are in English alphabetical order for all of the 193 UN member states or countries, starting with Afghanistan and ending with Zimbabwe, plus the UN flag. 

Not only does the UN have its headquarters in New York City, but it also has three additional, regional headquarters or headquarter districts, which are located in Geneva (Switzerland), Vienna (Austria), and Nairobi (Kenya). The main headquarters in New York contains the seats of the principal arms of the UN -- the General Assembly and Security Council.  Although it is in New York City, and part of the United States, the land used by the UN Headquarters is under the administration of the United Nations, but yet it is also subject to most local, state, and federal laws. 

The construction of the headquarters was financed by an interest-free loan of $65 million made by the United States government, and the cost of construction was also reported as $65 million. 

Under Whose Law? The site of the United Nations Headquarters has what is called "extraterritoriality status"  which means it is exempt from the jurisdiction of local law.  This affects some law enforcement where UN rules override the laws of New York City, but it does not give immunity to those who commit crimes there. What is crazy about this is that the UN Headquarters remains under the jurisdiction and laws of the United States, although a few members of the UN staff have diplomatic immunity and so cannot be prosecuted by local courts unless the diplomatic immunity is waived by the Secretary-General. I'm not real sure what exactly is considered under NY law and what isn't.  

Whose Dollar and Whose Language? The currency used at the UN headquarters' businesses is the U.S. dollar.  While English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat, most of the daily communications within secretariat and the signs in the UN headquarters building are also in French and English. There are three working languages for the Economic and Social Council -- English, French and Spanish; while the working and official languages of the General Assembly number six -- Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.  This surely keeps the interpreters busy there. But when you consider that the
European Union itself has twenty-three official languages, weeding it down to six at the UN headquarters is probably a major feat.
Statue in front of the UN Secretariat Building

The Complex: The complex includes a number of major buildings. While the Secretariat building is one most usually depicted when features appear about the UN headquarters, the complex also includes the domed General Assembly building, the Dag Hammarskjöld Library (built in 1961), as well as the Conference and Visitors Center, which is situated between the General Assembly and Secretariat buildings, and can be seen only from FDR Drive or the East River. 
Some of the many flags flying at the UN Complex

The General Assembly building holds the General Assembly Hall which has a seating capacity of 1,800. At the front of the chamber, is the rostrum containing the green marble desk for the President of the General Assembly, Secretary-General and Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services and matching lectern for speakers. Behind the rostrum is the UN emblem on a gold background. To the side of the rostrum is a paneled semi-circular wall that tapers as it nears the ceiling and surrounds the front portion of the chamber. In front of the paneled walls are seating areas for guests and within the wall are windows which allow translators to watch the proceedings as they work. Each of the 192 delegations has six seats in the hall with three at a desk and three alternate seats behind them.  This building is domed and stands five stories high. 

The Conference Building faces the East River between the General Assembly Building and the Secretariat. The Conference Building
houses the security Council and the Economic and Social Council. 
Tall United Nations Secretariat Building

The 39-story Secretariat tower houses offices for the Secretary General, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Office of Disarmament Affairs, and the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management.
Construction of the Secretariat started in September 1949 and was completed in 1950.  It completely overshadows the adjacent General Assembly building, which is actually the most important part of the complex. 

The Dag Hammarskjöld Library was dedicated in November 1961. It is located next to the Secretariat at the southwest corner of the headquarters campus. Curious as to what is inside the library? It holds 400,000 books, 9,800 newspapers and periodical titles, 80,000 maps and the Woodrow Wilson Collection containing 8,600 volumes of League of Nations documents and 6,500 related books and pamphlets.

Ronald H. Brown United States Mission to the United Nations
The Sphere within Sphere sculpture in front of UN Headquarters (pictured at right) is a bronze sculpture, by Italian sculptor, Arnaldo Pomodoro. The inner ball represents the Earth and outer ball represents Christianity.

Ronald H. Brown United States Mission to the United Nations Building:  Ronald Brown was the United States Secretary of Commerce, serving during the first term of President Bill Clinton, and was the first African American to hold this position. He was killed, along with 34 others, in a 1996 plane crash in Croatia. On April 3, 1996, at the young age of 54, while on an official trade mission, the Air Force CT-43 (a modified Boeing 737) carrying Brown and 34 other people, including New York Times Frankfurt Bureau chief Nathaniel C. Nash, crashed in Croatia. While attempting an instrument approach to Cilipi airport, the airplane crashed into a mountainside. Everyone aboard was killed instantly except for a flight attendant, who died while being transported to a hospital. The final Air Force investigation attributed the crash to pilot error and a poorly designed landing approach. Speculations as to the circumstances surrounding the plane crash that caused Brown's death include many government cover-up and conspiracy theories, largely based on Brown having been under investigation by independent counsel for corruption.  

Brown, raised in Harlem in a middle-class family, as a child appeared in an advertisement for Pepsi-Cola, one of the first commercials to be specifically targeted towards the African-American community.  In March 2011 the United States Mission to the United Nations building was named and dedicated in Brown's honor.  In the dedication ceremony he was eulogized as one of the greatest ambassadors that the American government ever had abroad. This 26-story building which is located across the street from the UN General Assembly, houses the United States delegation to the UN.

Hope Statue: A monument dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg entitled “Hope” can be seen on the traffic triangle of First Avenue (UN Plaza). (See picture at left). Wallenberg is widely celebrated for his successful efforts to rescue tens of thousands to about one hundred thousand Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust from Hungarian Fascists and the Nazis during the later stages of World War II.  Unseen in this photo as the monument was still under construction, but there is a briefcase at the foot of a column, suggesting unfinished business. Each of the black pillars contains information about Wallenberg’s life and work; for example, one states, "Displaying great daring and ingenuity, Raoul Wallenberg saved the lives of countless Hungarian Jews by placing them under the protection of the Swedish Government."

Turtle Bay:  Turtle Bay, home to the UN headquarters and the Chrysler Building, is a neighborhood on the east side of Midtown Manhattan. It extends between 41st and 54th Streets, and eastward from Lexington Avenue to the East River, across from Roosevelt Island.  This neighborhood is significant to me as it is the home of fictional character "Stone Barrington" in a series written by Stuart Woods, one of my favorite authors. 

Named in the 17th century, Turtle Bay was a shelter from the often harsh weather of the East River, and as a well-known shipbuilding site.  In 1639, the neighborhood was originally a 40 acre grant given to two Englishmen by the Dutch colonial governor of New Amsterdam. After the American Civil War, the neighborhood was developed with brownstones.  Then by 1868 commercial develop overtook it and it was packed with breweries, gasworks, slaughterhouses, cattle pens, coal yards and railroad piers.  As with Five Points, an infusion of poor immigrants sent the neighborhood in decay.  With huge industrial enterprises and power plants throughout, the district was showered with the heaviest soot fall in the city.

In 1918, a wealthy socialite, Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan, bought up 11 row houses and within two years renovated them so that the individual back yards were arranged to a common garden area.  This territory then became known as Turtle Bay Gardens.  She then sold the houses to friends at cost, with property restrictions that kept the commons secure.   A revitalization of the area began.  Celebrity residents since have included actors Katharine Hepburn, Ricardo Montalban and Tyrone Power, and composer Stephen Sondheim, among many others.

With the clearing of 18 acres  of slaughterhouses for the construction of the UN Headquarters beginning in 1948 and then the removal of the elevated trains, this neighborhood was opened up for the construction of high-rise office buildings and condominiums. In 1957, the Turtle Bay Association was formed by residents and property owners in hopes of guiding the development to maintain the neighborhood's quality of life. The Association's efforts have resulted in more park and landscaping development, creating the neighborhood's tree-lined and relatively quiet atmosphere.  One of the most well-known is the Katherine Hepburn Garden located in the Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza which was dedicated in May 1997.  It pays tribute to her lifelong love of gardening and her commitment to the park and the neighborhood.  Hepburn moved to Turtle Bay in 1932 and she brought with her transplants of wildflowers from her parents Connecticut home to enjoy in her own backyard garden. She joined the Turtle Bay Association in 1957, and for more than thirty years was active in the fight for beautification and purification of the neighborhood and to stop the onslaught of high-rise buildings.

When riding on top, you have to be very diligent that you also watch out for low hanging trees and the stop lights. The picture at right illustrates how the trees will reach out and touch you and the stoplights are within an arm's reach above your head.  This is just a portion of the beauty of the trees in the Turtle Bay neighborhood.

In the picture below, left, you can see some of the penthouse apartments who have gardens up high in the sky.

No Honking: This is serious! A $350 fine for honking. There are different areas where there is no honking allowed (which in NYC there is a lot of honking going on!).  Signs are posted by the Department of Transportation, which is a result of a request filed by the city's Department of Environmental Protection ("DEP"). 
Gardens in the tall high-rise buildings

The DEP has stated that what usually occurs is they will go out into areas or neighborhoods and do a noise evaluation.  If they feel there is excessive noise pollution in a given area, they will then install these No Honking signs.

In 2005, new laws were enacted by the NYC DEP to regulate the volume of noise for the general safety, welfare and comfort of the city's residents.

What are the Regulations?  New York banned honking during traffic unless used to warn others of imminent danger. Excessive sounds heard at 150 feet from other vehicles that are less than 10,000 pounds are illegal. The measurement for trucks and motorcycles is 200 feet.  As you can see from my fuzzy picture, below, signs are posted and are hard to miss.

No Honking Allowed
Waldorf=Astoria:  On famous Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, the legendary Waldorf-Astoria New York hotel sits beckoning travelers to usurp its old-world elegance and service.

The Waldorf=Astoria is a luxury hotel in New York. Having been located in two historic landmark buildings in New York City, the first on the site of the Empire State Building, and the present  at 301 Park Avenue in Manhattan.  It is a 47-story, 625 foot landmark designed in the Art Deco style. The Waldorf=Astoria New York is a member of Hilton's Luxury and Lifestyle Brands along with Waldorf=Astoria Hotels and Resorts and Conrad Hotels and Resorts.

Being at the forefront of the hospitality and hotel industry, The Waldorf=Astoria was the first hotel to offer room service.  And, no that is not a typo in the name above, as the Waldorf=Astoria is now branded with the equal sign o signify the equality between the Waldorf and Astor families. It also visually represents "Peacock Alley" the hallway between to two hotels that once stood where the Empire State building now stands today.

The modern hotel has three American and classic European restaurants, and a beauty parlor located off the main lobby. Several boutiques surround the lobby. A "hotel within a hotel" in its upper section is known as The Waldorf Towers, operated by Conrad Hotels and Resorts.  It also has its own railway platform as part of Grand Central Terminal, which has been used in the past by such famed individuals as Franklin D. Roosevelt, James Farley, Adlai Stevenson, and Douglas MacArthur. In fact, an elevator that was large enough for Franklin D. Roosevelt's automobile provides access to the platform. Its name is ultimately derived from Walldorf in Germany and the prominent German-American Astor family that originated there.

Notable Occupants: It's fame has been garnered by such notable occupants as: Gangsters Frank Costello, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and Charles "Lucky" Luciano who all once lived in the Waldorf-Astoria. In 1955, Marilyn Monroe stayed at the hotel for several months.  Unfortunately,  due to costs of trying to finance her production company "Marilyn Monroe Productions" (she was only being paid $1,500 a week for her role in The Seven Year Itch and was subsequently suspended from 20th Century Fox for walking out on Fox after "creative differences"), so living at the hotel became too costly and she had to move into a different hotel in NYC.  This was also the childhood home for Paris Hilton.  It is also the official residence of the United States' Permanent Representative to the United Nations is located in the Waldorf Towers.

Notable Event: The investigation into the sinking of the Titantic in 1912 was held at the old Waldorf-Astoria. Eerily enough, John Jacob Astor IV, who built the Astoria Hotel, which became part of the old Waldorf-Astoria, died on the Titanic.

Rockefeller Center: Rockefeller Center is a complex that consists of 19 commercial buildings encompassing 22 acres of land between 48th and 51st streets and 5th and 6th Avenues in the center of Midtown Manhattan. Built by the Rockefeller family, it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.  The Center was named after John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who leased the space from Columbia University in 1928 and went on to develop it in 1930.  taking the development project on as the sole financier, he set it up with Columbia University on a 27-year lease, with the option for three 21-year renewals for a total of 87 years.  He then negotiated a line of credit with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company while covering the ongoing construction expenses through the sale of oil company stock.  Brazen at the time (1930), the initial costs, the initial costs were estimated to be $25 million. In this era, it was considered to be the largest private building project ever undertaken. Construction began in May of 1930 and the Art Deco style buildings were completed in 1939.  Initially not wanting the Rockefeller name to be associated with the project, John, Jr., was finally persuaded to put the current moniker of  on the project as the thought was it would attract far more tenants.  Hence, Rockefeller Center was born. 

In 1985, the university finally sold the land beneath Rockefeller Center to what is known as the Rockefeller Group for a whopping $400 million, but in the ensuing years through a series of buyouts it is now owned by Jerry Speyer (a close friend of David Rockefeller), of Tishman Speyer Properties, L.P., who together with the Lester Crown family of Chicago, bought it for $1.85 billion.

One Rockefeller Plaza:  One Rockefeller Plaza, at 608,000 square feet, was originally the Time–Life Building. The exterior column piers are clad in limestone and the walls between consist of green-tinted glass with thin, facade-high aluminum mullions and window-covered mesh spandrels.  The walls of the 197 foot long and over 16 foot high lobby make extensive use of patterned stainless steel paneling with gradual hue tinting. The ceiling is of glass with a maroon hue. 

10 Rockefeller Plaza:Coming in at 288,000 square feet, it is the smallest in size of the six landmark buildings in Rockefeller Center.  Originally called Holland House, then changed o the Eastern Air Lines Building, the notable Today Show studios are located there. 

30 Rockefeller Plaza:  Formerly known as the RCA Building, now known as the GE Building but nicknamed "30 Rock," it is by far the largest of the six coming in at a whopping 2.9 million square feet.  30 Rock is actually the centerpiece of the Center as it is centered behind the sunken plaza.  At the front of 30 Rock is the Lower Plaza, in the very center of the complex, which is reached from 5th Avenue through the Channel Gardens and Promenade. In 1936 on Christmas Day, the famous ice-skating rink was finally installed and the popular Center activity of ice-skating began.  

One cannot go on to the next buildings before first touching on The Channel Gardens and Promenade, which are an integral part of the Center.  Beside being the site of the historic ice-skating rink and popular Christmas Tree, it is also home to a couple work of art which include the golden Titan Prometheus fountain which is flanked by the heroic-sized bronze Mankind Figures of Maiden and Youth. Created in 1933 by legendary artist, Paul Manship, the two 8-foot Mankind statues stand on the granite shelves on either side of the Promestheus fountain, which is meant to form a sculptural grouping that depicts Prometheus giving mankind the gift of fire.  The two partially nude figures, one male and the other female, each stand next to exaggerated reptilian branches of vegetation symbolic of the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, Manship was initially not pleased with their placement and had them moved around a number of times, before finally ending up in storage for fifty years. In 1983, they were restored with a luscious brown patina and placed in the skating rink on new pedestals. During a 2001 restoration, they were moved to the top of the staircase, where they are indicative of an introduction of Prometheus.  

1240 Avenue of the Americas: This was one one of the original buildings on the site not torn down. It has now been adapted as an annex building to 30 Rock.  Therefore, it has been crucial to the accumulative square footage assumed by 30 Rock. 

50 Rockefeller Plaza:  Formerly the Associated Press Building and now known as the Bank of America Building, this Center building assumes square footage of 481,000.  As it was originally built for the Associated Press, 50 Rock was also for many years the home to many news venues and journalists over the years.  Apropos, is the giant, nine-ton stainless steel panel entitled “News” which hangs its hat above the building’s entrance.  The design depicts the various forms of communications used by journalists in the 1930’s. 

50 Rock is the only building in the Center that was built out to the limits of its lot line, taking its shape from the initial Associated Press' need for a single, undivided, loft-like newsroom as large as the lot could accommodate. At one time, the building's fourth floor had over four million feet of transmission wire embedded in its conduits.  That is a lot of wire!

Others include: the Simon and Schuster Building (f/k/a U.S. Rubber/Uniroyal Center Theatre located at 1230 Avenue of the Americas; the GE Building, officially known as 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and was originally the RCA Building, it is located at 1250 Avenue of the Americas; the famous Radio City Music Hall located at 1260 Avenue of the Americas; the former RKO Building, which is now known as the American Metal Climax (AMAX) Building, located at 1270 Avenue of the Americas; the former Sinclair Oil Building situated at 600 Fifth Avenue; the LaMaison Francaise at 610 Fifth Avenue; the British Empire Building at 620 Fifth Avenue; Palazzo d’Italia at 626 Fifth Avenue; the International Buildings located at 630 and 636 Fifth Avenue which come in at 1.2 million and 120,000 square feet, respectively.  These are all managed by Tishman-Speyer, the co-owner of Rockefeller Center.

The buildings west of Sixth Avenue are managed and/or co-owned by the Japanese-owned Rockefeller Group and they include: the Time-Life Building located at 1271 Avenue of the Americas; the McGraw-Hill Building at 1221 Avenue of the Americas; and Barclays Capital Building (f/k/a Lehman Brothers Building) is located at 745 Seventh Avenue .

Underground Shopping:  There is also an underground pedestrian passage in which is filled by a series of shops and restaurants.  This passage stretches from 47th Street to 51st Street, and from 5th Avenue to 7th Avenue. Access can be gained in various places including lobby stairways in the six easily recognizable buildings, through restaurants surrounding the Concourse-level skating rink, and elevators to the north and south of the rink. The western Concourse entrance is also accessible through the 47–50th Streets subway station below Sixth Avenue.

Prometheus at Rockefeller Center

Prometheus:  Paul Manship's highly recognizable bronze gilded statue of the Greek legend of the Titan Prometheus sits proudly in the sunken plaza at the front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Some sources cite it as the fourth-most familiar statue in the United States, behind the Lincoln Memorial, Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty.

Flags:  Some 200 flagpoles line the plaza at street level which include various flags of United Nations member countries, the U.S. states and territories, and also decorative and seasonal designs are flown. During U.S. holidays, every pole carries the Flag of the United States.

Skating Rink:  I was amazed that the skating rink plaza, itself, is a lot smaller than you think. On TV it looks larger. The skating rink was up at the time of my visit, which you can see in the picture at right. It has room for 150 skaters at a time. During other times of the year it is a cafe/eating area in which our tour guide told us it has the worst food for outlandish prices.  Haha! 

I have heard it been said that it wouldn’t be winter without a spin around this iconic rink which is a celebrated tradition in many New York City households.

The Center is also home to many works of art, some of which have been controversial topics in the past. Today, Rockefeller Center is one of the world’s great crossroads, filled with boutiques, fine dining, and home to the most famous ice rink and Christmas tree on earth. With its cultural diversity, it is widely considered "the true plaza of the people."

Rainbow Room at NBC Studios

NBC Studios: Rainbow Room Observation Deck -- Even with the world between two wars and the economic status of the country in a critical time,  Rockefeller’s vision for the magnificent  Center never staggered.  A prime example of that is the observation deck located in the Rainbow Room at NBC Studios.  That and the Center itself were Rockefeller's gifts to Manhattan.  The observation deck is a place for tourists and locals to view at the wonderment of the city. The famous Rainbow Room club restaurant is located on the 65th floor of 30 Rock.  While the Rockefeller family office covers the 54-56th floors, this skyscraper is the also the headquarters of NBC and houses most of the network's New York studios, which include: Studio 6A, former home of Late Night with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and current home of The Dr. Oz Show; Studio 6B, which is the home of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Studio 8H, home for Saturday Night Live; plus the operations of NBC News and MSNBC plus the local station WNBC.

The GE Building was constructed as a slab with a flat roof, unlike most other Art Deco towers built during this era.  Originally built in 1933, this is where the newly renovated observation deck, known as Top of the Rock, is located. The $75 million makeover of the observation area was completed in 2005 where it now spans three floors (67th to 70th) and includes an exhibition detailing the Center's history.  There is a 20-foot wide viewing area on the 70th floor.  Again, this was something we didn't knock off as one of the "to-do" items on my list.  Next time! 

Famed Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall:  Radio City Music Hall, another iconic establishment that we didn't get a chance to visit, is an entertainment place that is nicknamed the Showplace of the Nation, and for a time considered the leading tourist destination in the city. Its interior was declared a city landmark in 1978.  

History: Located on 12 acres, it opened its doors to the public in shortly after Christmas in 1932 with an extravagant stage show featuring Ray Bolger, among others.  If the name sounds familiar, it should.  Bolger played the scarecrow in the original Wizard of Oz.  Unfortunately, although meant well, the stage show was a flop, and the Hall returned to showing feature films.  By the 1970's, changes in film distribution made it difficult for Radio City to secure exclusive bookings of many films and so this venue ended in 1979. Plans were made to convert the theater into office space, but a combination of preservation and commercial interests (including an irate commentary on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update given by John Belushi) resulted in the preservation of Radio City and in 1980, after a renovation, it reopened to the public.  Currently, it is leased by Madison Square Garden Inc.  With its total seating capacity of 6,000, the focus of Radio City is now on concerts and live stage shows.  An integral part of its historic past is, of course, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular which is another New York Christmas tradition since 1933.  It features the magnificent women's precision dance team known as The Rockettes. The public areas of the Music Hall display many works of depression era artists.  And, undoubtedly one of the most famous items inside the theatre has to be the Music Hall's "Mighty Wurlitzer" pipe organ which contains 4,410 pipes, is the largest theater pipe organ built for a movie theater.
Sports:  In 2004 in preparation for the Republican National Convention at the Madison Square Garden, Radio City hosted the WNBA's New York Liberty for six of their home games.  The Rockettes performed at half-time. These games marked the first time Radio City had hosted a professional sporting event since the Roy Jones Jr. boxing match held in 1999. Radio City is also to be the site of the 2012 NFL Draft.

CBS Studios: The CBS Building in New York City, also known as Black Rock (for its dark granite cladding), is the headquarters of CBS Corporation. The building, opened in 1965 is located at 51 West 52nd Street, at the corner of Sixth Avenue (a/k/a Avenue of the Americas). The 38 story building is 490 feet tall and has approximately 872,000 rentable square feet.

Unlike other major skyscrapers in this section of midtown Manhattan during the 50's and 60's, the pillars are more dominant than the glass windows between them. CBS moved its TV news studios, to its Black Rock Broadcast Center starting with the CBS Evening News studio-newsroom in 1963.

"Looking Toward The Avenue" Statue:   The picture at right shows one of Jim Dine's sculptures collectively entitled "Looking Toward The Avenue" positioned in the small plaza on the east side of Sixth Avenue at West 53rd Street. The verdigris bronze renditions of Venus De Milo emerge from a water pool. Verdigris is a common name for a green pigment obtained through the application of acetic acid to copper plates.  The installation consists of three over-sized grayish-green bronze Venus de Milos  swimming in wading pool depth fountains. The two smaller ones, at 14-feet and 23-feet, stand toward the 53rd Street side of the block, while the the isolated 23-foot tall figure stands towards the 52nd Street side.  Installed in 1989, they are positioned in front of the former J.C. Penney building but what is currently known as the Calyon Building, after the corporate and investment banking arm of the French Bank Credit Agricole.

As we are heading up West 53rd Street, here is our next stop.  It is MoMA - - the Museum of Modern Art.  Time to duck in here and get our sophisticated looks on!  So this is where I will end this post today.

What to look forward to in my next post of Day 3, Part 3 -- MoMA and we begin the Museum of Natural History.  After that, Day 3, Part 4, will consist of heading back to the hotel room to freshen up, meet Casey, head to the Irish Pub next door for a bite to eat and then off to the Comedy Cellar.  Still loads ahead for you to see and hear about. 

And with that, I will now leave you with some other fascinating pictures from The Big Apple.

Saks Fifth Avenue Store