Thursday, February 28, 2013

Around Morningside Heights

Whew, it's the end of the month and this is just my second post. Been a little busy lately and I'm usually walking on weekends, but I've got a lot of pics and walks to share and hopefully, i can write all about it in the next few weeks.

In my previous blog, I wrote about going to the Central Park Conservatory Garden and Harlem Meer the Sunday after the blizzard Nemo struck New York. After my short walk there, I proceeded to walk towards Morningside Heights, which starts at the northwest edge of the park. One of the most known places in the area is the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the fourth largest Christian church in the world.

Per wiki ..
Morningside Heights is bounded by Morningside Park to the east, Harlem to the north, and Riverside Park to the west. The streets that form its boundaries are 110th Street on the south, Riverside Drive on the west, 125th Street on the north, and Morningside Drive to the east.
Here's a map I got from Google which delineates the area ..

From the northwest end of Central Park, which is 110th Street and Cathedral Parkway, I walked just a couple of blocks west and pretty soon I was at the corner of 110th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. At the corner is this church, I don't know if it is part of the St. John the Divine complex, but it stands on the same block.

Just a little bit further from the church above, along Amsterdam Avenue is the Peace Fountain.  It was snowed in, however, and was closed so I just took pictures from the sidewalk. The fountain features the Archangel Michael slaying the devil, it also has the face of the sun and the moon on opposite sides and nine giraffes, which are among the most peaceable of all animals.

I love the Cathedral Bestiary Gates between the Peace Fountain and the cathedral. It's kind of a grid with animal designs by Arlene Slavin.

Then I was in front of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. However, there were still a lot of snow on the steps of the cathedral and visitors have to pass through one of the side doors. Looking up as I passed through the door, I had this view.

The artwork on the outside of the cathedral is stunning but I couldn't get good shots because of the snow on the steps. I will definitely come back and take pictures of some of the details. Here's a pic I took last summer, just look at the craftsmanship!

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is huge, and still unfinished. The Statue of Liberty (without the platform) would fit comfortably under its dome, and it is over two football fields long. The church is known for its Rose Window, the largest rose window in the US. This link has a great explanation of the design of the Rose Window.

On the floor of the cathedral are circular designs depicting significant places and events in the life of Jesus. Here's the first one ..

When I was there two weeks ago there was service going on so I wasn't able to take many pics inside, and didn't have the chance to go to its seven chapels, which are at the back of the altar. The designs of the chapels were meant to represent each of the seven most prominent ethnic groups to first immigrate to New York City upon the opening of Ellis Island in 1892, the same year the Cathedral was begun. I'll definitely come back and take pics, but I did get to take a couple of shots of some of its beautiful stained glass windows lining the sides of the church.

Here's the south side of church and what the stained glass windows look from the outside.

From the cathedral, I walked a couple of blocks north and then I was at Columbia University, the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York. That wiki link has a great panoramic view picture of the university campus.

Standing at the steps of the Low Memorial Library, my perch offered me a great view of the campus.

The building at the center in the above pic is Butler Library, the largest single library in the Columbia University Library System, which contains over 9.3 million books, and is one of the largest buildings on the Morningside Heights campus of the university. The figure in facing the Butler Library is called Alma Mater ..
Draped in an academic gown, the female figure of Alma Mater wears a crown of laurels and sits on a throne. The scroll-like arms of the throne end in lamps, representing sapientia and doctrina. A book signifying knowledge, balances on her lap, and an owl, the attribute of wisdom, is hidden in the folds of her gown. Her right hand holds a scepter composed of four sprays of wheat, terminating with a crown of King's College which refers to Columbia's origin as a Royalist institution in 1754.
This is the Low Memorial Library taken from one of the side steps. The building at the right of the pic is the chapel of Columbia University, St. Paul's Chapel.

Do you see the lamppost in the pics above? I love old lampposts! There are a few around the university, I like this one which is by St. Paul's Chapel. 

Charles H. Revson Plaza is the official name for the bridge that links the main university campus to the area across Amsterdam Avenue containing the law school, among others. There are some sculptures in the plaza, and it has great views up and down Amsterdam Avenue.

When I was there, the sculpture Life Force looked like a submarine viewfinder rising up from the snow.
Sprouting from the grass at the south end of Revson Plaza is Columbia Law School’s fourth bronze, “Life Force” by David Bakalar.
The site appealed to the artist, who hoped that students might gather alongside the sculpture and peer through its “eye.” The conical portal, directly above the middle of Amsterdam Avenue, offers a long view of the street toward Midtown Manhattan to the south and toward Washington Heights to the north.

Here's Amsterdam Avenue from Revson Plaza looking north.

And looking south towards midtown Manhattan.

After walking around Columbia University, I exited through the Broadway gate and made my way up to 120th Street where I could see the beautiful bell towers of the Union Theological Seminary and the Riverside Church. They look golden in the rays of the late afternoon sun.

When I arrived in Riverside Church, they were already closed for the day so I just went to Sakura Park which is right across the back of the church and took some pics.

Crossing Riverside Drive from Sakura Park led me to the General Grant National Memorial or Grant's Tomb, the final resting place of the 18th U.S. President and his wife Julia. It was closed, too, as workers were still clearing the snow around the monument. Here's the top part of the monument. The inscription flanked by the two figures has the words "Let Us Have Peace".

The memorial has great views of the side of the Riverside Church across Riverside Drive.

Before I left, I took one last pic of the memorial, looking postcard perfect after the winter storm.

By then it was already turning dark so I made my way back to Broadway to board the 1 train which stops at 116th Street near the Columbia University gates. Even the subway stop bears the university's name.

There are many more interesting places in Morningside Heights I haven't been to, I guess that will be a walk for another day.

Last Sunday, I was planning to go to the North Woods in Central Park but when I got off the subway, the exit I took led me to the west end of 110th Street and when I rounded Riverside Drive to go back towards the park, the Peace Fountain was right in front of me. So I stopped by and took some pics. Those pics and the ones I took during this walk are in my Flickr album Around Morningside Heights

Friday, February 15, 2013

Finding Nemo in Central Park

The blizzard Nemo struck the US northeast coast on February 8.  It brought more than a foot of snow to New York City and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands, and stranded drivers on the Long Island Expressway. In addition to a massive amount of snow, Nemo also brought gale-force winds and coastal flooding. This was The Pond last Friday afternoon, when snow started to fall heavily in the city.

I had a seminar in Manhattan on Thursday and Friday, and after our sessions, I dropped by Central Park for short walks. This was how midtown Manhattan looked like from the park late Thursday afternoon ..looks like the calm before the storm.

That Thursday was the day before the blizzard Nemo was expected to strike the northeast. When I was at the Bethesda Terrace, I could already see some storm clouds gathering, and for once, the terrace was empty of people.

On Friday, snow was already falling by the time our seminar was over around mid afternoon. I went to the park just to skirt around the Pond area, there were just a few of us walking amidst the falling snow. Somebody even made a snowman, you can lend him your hat and scarf for some photo-op, and take it back after. He's here by his lonesome posing in front of The Plaza Hotel.

I didn't stay long at the park as snow was starting to fall heavily. The snowflakes of winter storm Nemo were fat and stings when then hit your face. Took this pic of a people-free Gapstow Bridge and tweeted it to @EverythingNYC and The Weather Channel retweeted it. How cool!

Saturday dawned clear and bright but with snow everywhere. When I entered the park at the gate from 6th Avenue, this was one of the scenes that greeted me.

It looks like I'm in a middle of a fairy-tale land. There were a lot of people at the park enjoying the winter wonderland. Snowmen, sleds and toboggans were everywhere. It was great to see the park full of visitors that day.  

This was the Pond area taken from the top of one of the rocks. Central Park was a vision in white! 

Even the Dairy House looked like something from a fairy-tale.

When I passed by Strawberry Fields, the marker was cleared of snow and somebody left flowers.

Imagine all the people, living life in peace .. ♫

A sharp contrast to my pic taken last Thursday, Bethesda fountain was teeming with people that day.

The wings of the Angel of the Waters were dripping a little bit because of the melting snow. The angel looks beautiful whatever the angle.

At Belvedere Castle, you can see the Great Lawn also teeming with people enjoying the snow. The shadow of the castle can be seen reflected on the frozen Turtle Pond.

Passing by Cleopatra's Needle, I saw this guy painting the scenery before him. Isn't he good?

I thought Cleopatra's Needle looks best in spring when it is surrounded by magnolia trees. Seeing it standing in the snow, now I'm not sure which is better.

Snow in the park means lots of snowmen. I love the ones made by kids, here's a collage I made.

But I think the best snowman award goes to this guy .. he is just too cute!

I was so entertained by the all the snowmen projects that by the time I reached the Reservoir it was already late afternoon.  The Gothic Bridge lies between the Reservoir and the tennis courts by the North Meadow. It looked gorgeous in the snow and setting sun.

And so is the Pool, looking peaceful in the snow when I reached it.

Entering the North Woods after a snowstorm is like entering a different world. Snow was clinging on trees and it was very quiet, the silence broken with a few bird calls. And amidst all the winter white were flashes of red.

I stayed there for quite some time watching the cardinals play in the snow. It was already late when I reached the waterfalls but it was so great to stand there seeing beauty amidst the solitude of a hushed forest in the middle of the city, and being thankful for a beautiful winter day.

By the time I reached the Harlem Meer it was already dark so the following day, Sunday, I dropped by the Conservatory Garden and the Harlem Meer for a short visit. Ahh, I love it here, would you like to come and walk with me along this pretty alley?

The fountains were full of snow which I think, added to their charm.

When I went to Harlem Meer, the frozen lake made the area look a little wider and made me appreciate more the beautiful sky. Isn't it stunning?

All the waterfowl were at the west side where some parts of the lake were not frozen. 

There were a lot of the usual ducks that you see in the park and one swan. I remember seeing her before last autumn, also at the Meer.

Blizzard Nemo may have dumped a lot of snow in the city but it sure made the park looked beautiful. That weekend after the storm was also a kind of family day as kids and their parents enjoyed many winter activities which I'm sure created lots of memories to last a lifetime.

The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.” 
~ Terri Guillemets ~

For the rest of my pics, here are the albums on Flickr:

Taken during winter storm Nemo - Nemo in the Park

Taken the weekend after winter storm Nemo - Central Park: The Day After Nemo

Pics taken the day before winter storm Nemo are part of the album - Central Park, February 2013