Sunday, July 29, 2012

Channel Gardens: Summer 2012

The Channel Gardens at the Rockefeller Center is always showing off its gardens regardless of the season.  Last Easter, as shown in my previous blog, it has easter lilies and hydrangeas blooming all over. After that were foxgloves and other flowers which I briefly featured in another blog.

This summer, the gardens were abloom with plumeria, ixora, bromeliads and crotons, as well as palm trees. I went there one Saturday afternoon and the gardens look pretty in the afternoon sun.

The first flowers I saw were my Mom's favorite, anthurium!

Walking further along, I spotted plumeria, they smell so sweet!

Ixora, which is called "santan" flower in my homeland ..

And some ground orchids which reminded me of my childhood home, as we have this growing in our front yard.

Near the middle of the gardens, in the space in between the pools are trees flanking the side doors leading to the La Maison Fran├žaise (610 Fifth Avenue) and the British Empire Building on the other side.  In the above pic, you can see the artwork Seeds of Good Citizenship above the doorway.

Here's another pic of the trees ..

That space in the middle is also a good area to take a picture of the GE Building or 30 Rock as it is commonly referred to.  See how pretty it looks among the palm trees.

Aside from the flowers above, there are a lot of bromeliads in the gardens, in various styles, shapes and colors.  They're really a feast for the eyes.

The Channel Gardens is lined with six pools.  At the eastern end of each pool are fountainhead sculptures designed by Rene Paul Chambellan.  These fountainheads are either nereids or tritons.  

The nereids are considered goddesses of the sea and were the patrons of sailors and fishermen.  They came to the aid of men in distress, and had in their care the sea's rich bounty.  They dwelt with their elderly father Nereus in a silvery cavern at the bottom of the Aegean Sea. The tritons, a plurification of the god Triton, were usually represented as mermen, having the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish. Together they formed the retinue of Poseidon, the Olympian god of the sea, rivers, flood and drought, earthquakes, and horses.

Since the Channel Gardens is profused with plants and trees at this time, you can't see the fountainheads clearly.  Here are some pics I took a couple of winters ago where you can see the fountainheads Leadership, Will and Thought.

A close-up of the nereid Imagination.

and the triton Alertness.

The sea theme extends to the pool drains, these are covered with sea creatures like a turtle, a crab, and this starfish.

If you stand at the center of the small walkway between the pools and gaze westward, you can see the centerpiece of the Rockefeller Plaza, the Prometheus fountain, and a little further, the impressive art deco frieze Wisdom, above the doorway of the GE Building.

Rockefeller Center's facebook page is sponsoring a contest, Ground Up.  The contest rules are very easy:

And it just so happened that the day I was taking pics of the gardens, the current landmark of the contest was the Channel Gardens.  So I submitted one of my pics.

And tweeted a collage of my photos to @rockcenternyc

and I won! Yey!

How cool is that? I get to enjoy the beautiful flowers and views of the Channel Gardens and at the same time receive free tickets to Top of the Rock! So exciting!

Last week, I used that free ticket and enjoyed my time at the Top of the Rock.  I will share my pics and write about my experience there in a future blog. I'll probably be back, hopefully in autumn when the leaves start to change color. I'm sure the view from up there is awesome.   

So guys, if ever you have the chance to visit Rockefeller Center, take lots of pics and join in their Ground Up contest and you may be lucky -- like me! :-)

For the rest of my Channel Gardens pics, here's the album on Flickr.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Inspiration Point Shelter

I learned about Inspiration Point Shelter while researching for a link about the arches of Fort Tryon which I wrote about in a previous blog.  Seeing the pictures got me curious about it, so one weekend last month, I set off to find it. This was my first view of the structure.

Hmm .. remnants of a grecian-like temple in Manhattan? Not really. According to the New York City Parks Department, Inspiration Point Shelter opened in 1925 as a resting place for pedestrians and leisure drivers. Designed by architect Gustave Steinacher in 1924, the neoclassical sitting area opened a year later and quickly became a favorite of Hudson River tourists.

The structure was conceived as a rest stop and destination point for promenaders and pleasure drivers. The shelter was a two story neoclassical structure, with rows of Doric columns, and contained public restrooms on the lower floor.

Here's a pic from 1927, thanks to Untapped New York.

And an excerpt from a NY Times article ..
For much of its history, Inspiration Point inspired “auto spooners,” as The New York Times called them in a 1920 article. The police, in turn, were inspired to roust the young lovers.

Reine Beekman was involved in a divorce suit in 1922 when her suspicious mother-in-law cornered her there in a closed car with a man not her husband. The younger Mrs. Beekman claimed that she had been taking in the “refreshing air and beauty of the view,” according to The Times.

Inspiration Point Shelter is located along the Hudson River Greenway halfway  between the Little Red Lighthouse and Fort Tryon Park.  Here's a screenshot of the bird's eye map of the Henry Hudson Parkway. I marked the three spots, a yellow arrow for the Fort Tryon arches, a red arrow for the Little Red Lighthouse and a white arrow for Inspiration Point Shelter so you will have an idea where exactly is it located.

The shelter has the same directions as the Little Red Lighthouse, so I took the A train getting off at 181st St./Fort Washington Ave. station to access the area.  Then I walked west on 181st Street and crossed the pedestrian bridge leading to the Henry Hudson Parkway.  Turning left at the end of the bridge will take me to the lighthouse while going right on the path leads to the Inspiration Point Shelter.

Like the lighthouse, the shelter is accessible only on foot or bike.

Across the path on the way to the shelter is the retaining wall of Castle Village.  Part of the walls collapsed in 2005 and was repaired a couple of years later, with coop members being asked to shell out about $23,000.00. On this pic you can distinguish the new wall from the old one which was built in 1908.

A little further is this interesting structure referred to as the Pumpkin House. It got its name from the shape of its lighted windows and the orange glow of sunset so that it resembles a jack-o'-lantern especially at dusk.

Walking further, I saw the sign for Fort Tryon Park and I know I'm near the shelter.

And there it is, Inspiration Point Shelter, pretty in white on a hot summer day.

After the Henry Hudson Parkway was built in the 1930s, the area around the shelter changed from a place for pleasure drives to a through-way, and the structure was cut off from the rest of Manhattan and fell into disuse. In 1989,  Christopher Gray featured the shelter in his book Changing New York: The Architectural Scene.
“Increased traffic turned what had been a walking/driving experience into a no-man’s land for pedestrians. The walkway is now overgrown…and the shelter itself now suggests despair…whole sections have fallen off or hang precariously at the edge. Water damage has buckled the elegant coffered ceiling and most of what remains looks like driftwood scavenged from a lost civilization.”
The city restored the shelter soon after Gray's book was published, and made some minor structural changes. The bathrooms and the roof were permanently done away with. Now, only the street level of the shelter is accessible to the public. These used to be the stairs leading to the lower level.

The roof has been done away and in its place is a trellis.

And a barrier was built between the shelter and the Henry Hudson Parkway, making it inaccessible to vehicles.

In the above pic, you can almost see the arches of Fort Tryon which I covered in a previous blog. Here's a closer look from across the street.

The side of the walkway adjacent to the Hudson River is full of vegetation and greenery but it was great to see some wildflowers on my way to the shelter.

Inside the shelter is a nice view of the George Washington Bridge ..

as well as the New Jersey Palisades.

A closer look at the decorative lattice at the bottom of the structure.

I also noticed some type of hinges on the corner post but I have no idea why they are there.  The old pic above doesn't provide any clue.

Leaving the shelter, I retraced my steps back. Here's another pic of the walkway, this time with the Hudson River to my right.

Going back to 181st Street, I took the circuitous route to the subway station.  Along the way I saw a sign for Bennett Park but the entrance was enclosed with a No Trespassing sign.

I guess some restoration work is going on in the Park.  I'll visit it at a later date, maybe I'll see another grecian-like temple? 

For the rest of my shelter pics, here's the album on Flickr - Inspiration Point Shelter.

UPDATE: (07/03/2013)

I tried to upload a photo with my comment below but I think links don't work on the comment section. I'll post it here instead, it's a picture of the Inspiration Point Shelter taken from the Hudson River last Sunday. I was fortunate enough to ride again on the fireboat John J Harvey and took this pic. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trinity Church: Heere at the Wall

Last Memorial Day I went to Trinity Church in lower Manhattan.  It is the third to stand on this site as the first church was destroyed by fire in 1776, and the second structure was torn down less than 50 years after it was built, as it was weakened by heavy snows during the winter of 1838-39.  The current Trinity Church, which was consecrated in 1846, has a 280-foot spire which was the highest in the city until the advent of the skyscraper.

The above pic was taken a couple of weeks before Memorial Day. When I went back the front part of the church was enclosed in scaffolding.  You can see the scaffolding on this shot taken from the side of the church.

The scaffolding also hid the church's Tympanum of Christ and his twelve apostles.

The Astor Memorial doors, which feature six panels illustrating biblical scenes greet you upon entering the church.  It was designed by Richard Morris Hunt and inspired by Ghiberti's famous Gates of Paradise on the baptistry of the Duomo in Florence, Italy.
Expulsion from Paradise, Jacob's Dream, The Empty Sepulchre, The Annunciation, The Worship of the Church in Glory, and The Triumph of Divine. Recumbent figures border the demi-relief panels and are allegorical depictions representing; Morality, Sin, Time, Tradition, Eternity, and Divine Justice. 
Took pics of each of the panels of the doors and tried to put them all in one frame but since I'm a little height challenged, the top part is not straight. Click on the link above for a better pic.

After stepping through the doors, I looked up and saw the stunning ceiling.

After that is a small entryway area leading to the nave, its ceiling also has a design but subdued in color.

Upon entering the church, your eyes are immediately drawn to the stained glass window above its altar.

The beautiful reredos behind the altar was a gift from the Astor family.

Despite its proximity to the World Trade Center, the church was unscathed on  September 11, 2001, and was even a refuge for people fleeing the falling buildings.  See how close the buildings are on this pic.

However, its historic pipe organ was damaged by dust and debris and had to be replaced.  Trinity Church is now one of the first historic churches to use an electronic organ, but you can still see the facade of the pipe organ when you look back at the top of the church entrance.

The south transept of the church contain some small chapels like this one.

The north transept houses a museum (which didn't show much when I was there, just some modern artwork). I also saw on one wall some grave markers, the most prominent of which was that of first US Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, who is buried in the grounds of the church. You could see his image every time you look at a $10 bill.

This is the grave site of Alexander Hamilton ..

Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat is also buried there.

While the Trinity Churchyard is the final resting place of many New York notables, what caught my attention while walking around the grounds were the various tombstones with angel designs.  A gardener of the church mentioned that she noticed that not two angel designs are the same, and that, maybe, the faces of the angels were based on how the dead person looked like while still alive. Here are some of them ..

The gardener also showed me the oldest headstone at the graveyard, that of a 5 year old girl who died in 1681.

There is also an angel at the back gate of the church. Called the Cherub Gate, the marker nearby states:
"The cherub above is a gift to Trinity Church from the Church of St. Mary-le-Bow in London which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1680 and was destroyed in an air raid on May 10, 1941. The cherub survived the bombing and was presented to Trinity Church on Jun 11, 1964."
Trinity Wall Street and St. Mary-le-Bow in London are sister churches. Trinity's founding charter, granted under William III in 1697, states that the two churches were to have the same fees and privileges.

Near the Cherub Gate is a pedestrian bridge spanning Trinity Place, and linking the church and its parish house across the street.  Too bad the bridge is only for the exclusive use of church employees, I would love to cross that bridge and maybe take a pic or two of the traffic and buildings along Trinity Place.

Trinity Church was prominently featured in the movie National Treasure, which showed in one scene, a clue in the search for the treasure the words "Heere at the Wall".  It refers to the original name of Broadway, Heere Straat or Breedeweg and the Wall means Wall Street, which follows the path of the wall the Dutch built against the British.  The church is located right at the intersection of the two streets. Here's a pic I took from Wall Street.

When the parish received its charter from King William III of England on May 6, 1697, it required an annual rent of one peppercorn to the English crown.  On July 9, 1976, the church was visited by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, and she was presented with a symbolic "back rent" of 279 peppercorns.

Now, if I could only find a property that would accept payment in peppercorns ..

For the rest of my Trinity Church and graveyard pics, here's the album on Flickr.