New York City

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The Manhattan skyline– photo taken looking south over Central Park from the rooftop sculpture garden of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
 
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Looking east on 42nd Street near the New York Public Library. The building with the swooping wall (second from the left) is the Grace Building. The unusual form was a response to city by-laws to set tall buildings back from the street.
 
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Bryant Park behind the New York Public Library. Bryant Park is the most Parisian spot in New York, with a garden designed in tones of whites, pinks and blues. Three thousand movable chairs come in handy for the free outdoor movies shown during summer nights and sponsored by nearby HBO. Over 7 million books of the New York Public Library lie in storage stacks beneath the park.
 
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The New York Public Library. One of the two lions, Fortitude, guards the front stairs. This main branch is a research library only. It is formally known as the New York Public Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Library.
 

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Patience, the other lion at the New York Public Library. At Christmastime wreaths are placed around the lions to keep them warm. The lions were named Patience and Fortitude by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia for qualities that would help people survive the Depression.

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I passed by the New York Public Library‘s Humanities and Social Sciences Library on Monday and was surprised to see it open since all the guidebooks said it would be closed. In fact, this was the first Monday that the library was open since funding cuts were made following September 11, 2001. Many cultural institutions and Broadway shows are otherwise closed Mondays. No tours were available but I did have a chance to view the many important rooms in the library, such as the Rose Main Reading Room (which is the lengths of two city blocks) on the third floor, and visit the gift shop where one can purchase Patience and Fortitude bookends among other things.

The banner on the front of the library is for an exhibit highlighting items from the photography collection. The Midtown Y Photography Gallery was formed in 1972 to provide needed space to showcase photography as art. At that time emerging photographers had few opportunities to showcase their work, and very few galleries were dedicated exlusively to photographs. The Midtown Y Photography Gallery closed in 1998 and the contents bequeathed to the New York Public Library.

 
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The marble columns and high arches of Astor Hall, just inside the New York Public Library. The 1911 library building is a masterpiece of Beaux-Arts design. I checked for Internet access and I found the New York Public Library uses the same Envisionware PCReservation timer software as the Guelph Public Library, right down to the same 45-minute maximum daily usage policy.
 
On a future trip I would like to see another library of note, one that has been newly enlarged, not far from the New York Public Library– the Morgan Library & Museum. Here one can see many objects such as original manuscripts of Dickens and Twain, drawings by Rembrandt and Rubens, original scores of Mozart and Beethoven, Gutenberg Bibles, and five-thousand-year-old Near Eastern carvings.
 
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Grand Central Terminal with the Chrysler Building in view. I took this picture on my walk down 42nd Street from the New York Public Library to the United Nations. The Chrysler Building, built in 1930, was briefly the world’s tallest skyscraper. A year later, the Empire State Building surpassed it in height.
 
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The Empire State Building up close.
 
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The Flatiron Building– a unique triangular building, an early New York skyscraper, and the first building in the world with a steel skeleton. Currently home to several book publishers, it also served as the site of the Daily Bugle in the Spiderman movies.
 
I found myself agape, admiring a skyscraper — the prow of the Flatiron Building, to be particular, ploughing up through the traffic of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in the late-afternoon light. H.G. Wells, 1906

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9/11 Memorial Tile Fence, across from Saint Vincent Hospital, which was the hospital at the center of the crisis. Family members who had not heard from their loved ones had been told that they might be at the hospital. However if anyone who had not walked out of the twin towers of their own accord that day likely had not survived. Pictures and notices of the missing were stuck to this fence. The original paper notices were replaced by permanent memorial clay tiles received from around the world.

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Little Italy. This stretch of Mulberry Street is most of what remains of Little Italy as Chinatown has absorbed large portions of Little Italy over the years. I noticed the distinct change in the smell of food as the bus traveled one block into Chinatown. Other Italian neighbourhoods (and great Italian restaurants) are spread throughout New York City. I tried out an Italian restaurant near my hotel on Amsterdam Avenue called La Vela— it was a very nice, well-priced restaurant with red-and-white checked tablecloths and oversized framed Italian posters on the brick walls.

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The Brooklyn Bridge joining the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. New York City has five boroughs: the islands of Manhattan and Staten Island, the Long Island boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, and the mainland borough of The Bronx. Each borough corresponds with a New York State county of the same name, except for Brooklyn which is Kings County, Manhattan which is New York County, and Staten Island which is Richmond County.

 

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Manhattan Bridge. Those suspension cables really are that close!

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My one good shot of the Statue of Liberty which has just come into view from behind the Manhattan skyline. The correct translation of the French name of the statue is “Liberty Enlightening the World”. The broken shackles at Lady Liberty’s feet signify liberation from tyranny and oppression; the seven spikes in the crown signify the seven seas and the seven continents.

Insribed inside the pedestal holding the statue is the poem The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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In Brooklyn, looking back at Manhattan. At the far end of the bridge is the South Street Seaport, a highly recommended shopping district.

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The Manhattan skyline seen from Brooklyn Heights (where The Cosby Show was set). Brooklyn Heights is an historic district with very few high-rise buildings and it maintains a small-town feel. Famous residents included Marilyn Monroe, Norman Mailer, Thomas Wolfe, W.H. Auden, Truman Capote, Arthur Miller, and Bob Dylan.

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In the past, the twin towers of the World Trade Center would have appeared behind these buildings.

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The Empire State Building in the distance. Notice the water tower on top of the building in the foreground. This is common on buildings in New York City.

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An interesting facade on a building in Midtown Manhattan.

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Union Square, a frequent gathering space for radicals of all stripes. In the centre is a statue of George Washington, but Mahatma Gandhi is nearby as well. It popularity and centrality (it is at the “union” of important streets) has attracted some of the most up-scale of New York’s restaurants which surround the square.

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One of the travel guidebooks in the Guelph Public Library had a suggestion to watch for the setting sun and see the canyons of New York City light up with the sun’s rays streaming in from the west.

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Madison Square Garden. This is the fourth location for this arena complex and it is currently several blocks from the actual Madison Square. A fifth location is in the works. The New York Knicks of the NBA and the New York Rangers of the NHL call Madison Square Garden home.

 
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The New York Times has found a new home (its fourth building). In the background is the new Westin Times Square Hotel which has the appearance of a 45-story prism split by a curving beam of light. The coloured 9-story mid-rise portion acts a transitional element between the retail first level and the more abstract upper part of the building.
 
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New York City’s backyard, Central Park. This shot was taken across from the American Museum of Natural History. The green heart of Manhattan, Central Park is home to thousands of species of plants and animals. In addition to paths, grass, and trees, Central Park has a zoo, an outdoor theatre for a summer Shakespeare festival, two skating rinks, a swimming pool, monuments, fountains, restaurants, sports fields, playgrounds, and horse carriage rides. Once a very dangerous place because of crime, Central Park is now one of the safest urban parks in the world.
 
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Once an early subway stop, this building has been converted to a community center in the middle of Broadway in the Upper West Side. Earlier in its history, the Upper West Side contained tenements, which were terrible buildings, rapidly and cheaply built, with little air circulation and no washrooms. The movie West Side Story, based on Romeo and Juliet, was set in the tenements of the Upper West Side. Many of those tenements were razed to build the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Since that time the Upper West Side has become synonymous with high-ceilinged apartments bursting at the seams with books and cultural artifacts. The TV shows Seinfeld, Law & Order, Sex and the City, Mad About You, and Will & Grace were set, if not filmed, in the Upper West Side.
 

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A school in the upper West Side. For recess, the sidewalk is blocked off so children have an outdoor space to play.

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The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on Amsterdam Avenue. An Episcopal church claimed to be the largest Protestant church in the world. Construction began in 1892 and it remains unfinished today with construction and renovation ongoing. The church is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic designs, and it is a major center for musical performances.

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Columbia University, home to the Pulitzer Prize, located between the Upper West Side and Harlem.

 
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Riverside Church, Upper Manhattan, an interdenominational church, famous for its Gothic style and the world’s largest carillon bell. Funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. the church was dedicated to a modern and liberal interpretation of Christianity to counter the fundamentalist and literal approach. The church is a center for lively political discussion and has featured these speakers over time: Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, and Fidel Castro.
 
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Harlem. The Apollo Theater. The building in the distance with the Smirnoff advertisement is the office of former president Bill Clinton.
 
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Close-up shot of the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Opened in this location in 1913 as a whites-only burlesque theatre, the Apollo opened its door to African Americans in 1934. With the neighbourhood in transition, the Apollo became synonymous with the Harlem Renaissance of the pre-WWII period in which African American music, literature, and drama flourished. Harlem went into decline in the 1960s and 1970s, but it has seen a new revival in recent years.
 
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Jazz great Duke Ellington being held up by the nine muses– New York’s first monument dedicated to an African American. Located in the northeast corner of Central Park, just south of Harlem.
 
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Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, one of the many museums on “Museum Mile” on 5th Avenue. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is just north of here on the Central Park side of 5th Avenue. To the east of 5th Avenue is the Upper East Side, the home of New York’s high society with some of the most expensive real estate in the United States.
 
The 11-season 1970’s and 1980’s TV show The Jeffersons about an upper middle-class African American family had a catchy theme song about the Upper East Side:
Well we’re movin’ on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up,
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie.
 

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West 59th Street, the southern border of Central Park. A horse-drawn carriage pulls up in front of our tour bus. One hotel had telescopes available in each window facing Central Park.

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One of the many Central Park statues. This one is of William Tecumseh Sherman, a hero of the American Civil War. He is accompanied by Nike, goddess of victory.

 
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The United Nations building.
 
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Inside the United Nations, artwork from around the world graces the lobby with its towering wall of windows.
 
louise_frechette First UN Deputy Secretary General Louise Frechette.
A few weeks before going to New York I went to an event at the University of Guelph called the President’s Dialogue, a free-form dialogue about Canada as a global citizen. Louise Frechette was there, along with Lloyd Axworthy, Pamela Wallin, Craig Keilburger and others. A greater role for the United Nations was one of the ideas that came out of the dialogue.
 
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Boarding the open air bus tour one last time for a night time trip around the city.
 
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Times Square at night– the best way to experience it. The several “squares” in Manhattan actually refer to triangles, since Broadway disrupts the grid of streets by cutting across Midtown Manhattan at an angle.
 
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The scale of the advertising on Times Square is breathtaking. The Ernst & Young building was completed in 2002. The angles are meant to reflect the way Broadway cuts through the grid of streets in Midtown Manhattan.
 
Times Square was, from the beginning, a ‘theatrical’ environment–a place that not only had theatres but was a theatre. From The Devil’s Playground, by James Traub, 2004.
 
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The clock tower of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. In 1909 it succeeded the Flatiron Building as the tallest in the world.
 
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The New York skyline from Brooklyn at night.
 
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Starting in 1964, floodlights bath the top of the Empire State Building in lights. The colours chosen often reflect special occasions or events. Earlier in the week, the top of the building was bathed in green light in celebration of the Live Earth concerts happening around the world, including an event in Giants Stadium, New Jersey.
 
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Rushing by Macy’s on the bus tour. New York’s best known department store was featured in the 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street. The red star logo comes from the tattoo on the hand of the store’s founder, Rowland Hussey Macy, who got the tattoo while working on a whaling ship.
 
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A quiet moment on the Hudson River.
 
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One last look at the buildings at the beginning of West 79th Street before heading back to Guelph.
 
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Looking back at New Jersey across the Hudson River from Riverside Park in Manhattan, near West 79th Street.
 
John Cotton Dana – important librarian from Newark, New Jersey
In my early planning for this trip I had looked into cultural sites in New Jersey to visit. Although Newark, further south from this spot, might not have been a pleasant place to visit (the city was the scene of riots in the 1960s), I did discover that the founder of the Newark Museum was of note in the history of libraries. John Cotton Dana, a librarian, had founded the Newark Museum in 1909. John Cotton Dana pioneered the right for patrons to browse the stacks instead of having a librarian retrieve the books. He organized the first-ever children’s library room, although he didn’t like the idea of storytime. John Cotton Dana concerned himself with ergonomics and usability, foreign language collections for immigrants, and collections for the business community (he originated the idea of a special business collection in a library). Dana believed that the main challenge for libraries was to educate the public about citizenship and their participation in it. The American Library Association gives out the John Cotton Dana Public Relations Award to libraries with exceptional public relations.
 
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John Cotton Dana developed the idea of open stacks and children’s library rooms. He is said to have a smile always hidden under his mustache.
 
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