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

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