As part of the Jeff Koon’s retrospective exhibit at The Whitney, the sculpture Split Rocker (2014) holds pride of place.  The piece represents two similar but different toy rockers, a pony and a dinosaur, joined together.  Its appeal is lost on me, but clearly there is something that I am missing because the form is being repeated throughout the city.

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French porcelain maker Bernardaud has created a limited edition vase -  retail price $5000.  Yes, 3 zeroes.

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Split Rocker has been rendered in a BIG way at Rockefeller Plaza.  And, because this is New York, the Rock Center Café, on the terrace, is serving a Split-Rocker Margarita.

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The 37 foot tall piece is covered in 50,000 flowering plants!

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Remarkably, the flowers and greenery have remained fresh all summer, and despite my reservations about the sculpture, I do admit that it’s a thing of beauty.

St. Peter of Alcánter from 15th Century Spain.

Pedro de Mena, the famed 17th century Spanish sculptor, has depicted St. Peter with a curious, sad expression.   Decapitated by order of the Roman Governor of Córdoba, it seems to capture the moment between realizing his fate and living (or dying) it.  

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Midtown is not my favorite part of town.  The streets are ordered by the perfect grid and are lined with the very tall buildings that give the city its reputation as a concrete jungle.  Particularly oppressing on a hot summer day, it’s a treat to find some respite.

Created in 1967, Paley Park on West 53rd Street has provided some delightful breathing space.

Preservationists surely mourn the loss of The Stork Club, which used to be here, but it’s a delightful surprise to find this waterfall among the skyscrapers.  

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Did you ever wonder why the Hook and Ladder 8 Firehouse is so skinny?  I did, but always assumed it was due to the high cost New York real estate.  Not so - the original firehouse was twice the size.

This is actually the third location for the Company that was established in the early 1800’s on Franklin Street.  Moved to North Moore Street in 1866, the firehouse was again relocated, just a few doors down, when this beauty was built in 1904.  Not ten years later, the city decided to widen Varick Street by 30 feet, and as a result, the building was cut in half - literally.

It’s a testament to the stonemasons of the time that the resulting changes are all but invisible.  Architectural historians have studied the building, and are amazed at how meticulously elements from the original building were salvaged and re-incorporated.

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This is what the original firehouse looked like.

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It’s interesting to see the size of the horse-drawn firetrucks back then, and note how much smaller they are than today’s version.  I’ve witnessed the truck exit and enter through that doorway many times and it’s a tight fit for a skilled driver, or chauffeur as they are known.

We almost lost the firehouse a few years ago to city wide cutbacks.  But the neighbors protested and Number 8 was saved, for now.

Fans of the 1984 movie Ghostbusters often make the pilgrimage to the Hook and Ladder #8 Firehouse in Tribeca in order to see headquarters for themselves.

Super-fans deck themselves out and hold meetings.  Maybe this is their way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film’s release.

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That Proton Pack looks real to me.

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Even a toy version will do.

Note the street sign commemorating Vincent G. Halloran.  Hook and Ladder #8 is a working firehouse and, as such, the firefighters were first responders to the September 11 attacks.  Lieutenant Halloran never made it back to the station house that day.

New York takes its heroes, both real and fictional, very seriously.

Winner of the “Best Stoop Garden” award goes to this Harlem beauty.  All in the eye of the beholder, right?

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City dwellers don’t let a shortage of real estate dissuade them from planting a garden.  They can be found everywhere…

In front of the firehouse,

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…on the stoop…

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…down the the stairs…

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…or up the stairs.

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Boxes on balconies…

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…and window boxes abound.

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Even a windowsill will do.

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Or a bench.

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Rooftops are planted wherever possible.

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That little patch of soil around the trees…

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…plant it!

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Courtyards are ideal, but so often private.

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Very publicly, Columbus Park in Chinatown hosts this mini greenhouse for tomatoes.

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I love seeing flowers wherever I go!

Yet another of the city’s mysteries can be found under the Brooklyn Bridge, or all that’s left of it anyway.

At the end of May this piano was found on the shore of the East River.  It was in rough shape and didn’t play but was mostly intact.  But after several months of high and low tides, this is what remains.

Art Installation?  No-one has claimed responsibility.

Fell off a boat?  Unlikely, as the cast iron harp would sink it immediately.

Fell off a truck?  Maybe.

Originally found upright and standing on it’s legs, my bet is that it was dumped there, but in such a way that the ‘dumper’ could keep watch and then see Instagram go nuts.

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Summer Streets is an annual event that is not to be missed.  For three consecutive Saturday mornings in August, over 7 miles of roadway is closed to vehicular traffic.  You can bike, walk, run, roller-blade or whatever and doing so feels like you are taking over the city.

Here is my post from last year, our first time biking the route.   We loved the experience and the rare opportunity to see the city in a whole new way.  It was thrilling, but very, very busy.

This year, older and wiser, we dragged ourselves out of bed EARLY in order to enjoy a less crowded (and dangerous) ride.  Our early start time also ensured that we would be able to walk the Park Avenue Tunnel, which fills up quickly.

Talk about a unique experience!

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Here we go!

You walk into the tunnel and move through it northward.

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It gets very dark.

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Looking back

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Up through a ventilation port.

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Emergency escape

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Emerging

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Back up to street level.

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Since there is no turning back, the seven block walk is over far too quickly.  But this expedition is not just a walk through a dark tunnel; there is also a sound installation.

Dive (2014) by Jana Winderen is intended to recreate the experience of diving deep in the ocean.  The work was commissioned for Summer Streets and the custom sound system that was built creates a 3D effect, and fills the space with audio recordings from deep underwater.

Here is an interview with the artist and a look at (and listen to) the work.  Dive.

Just like we said last year…we can’t wait for next year.

Why so many numbers?  For an explanation, go here.

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Finito.

Thank you for indulging my obsession.