Tag Archives: Manhattan

Z is for Z Train

Located at Queens and Manhattan, New York
Website:  https://new.mta.info/maps/subway-line-maps/z-line

The Z Train

No series on New York attractions will be complete without an article on the Subway; so this is fulfilling that need, writing about the Z Train.

The New York Subway consists of more than 6,455 subway cars, 472 subway stations, and 665 miles of track. The subway trains collectively traveled about 331 million miles in 2021. They had an annual ridership of 760 million, with a weekday averaging to 2,369,655 riders, in 2021. 

The Z Train, also known as the Z Nassau Street Express, runs between Jamaica Center – Parsons/ Archer in Jamaica, Queens, and Broad Street in Lower Manhattan. This is the same line that is run by the J trains. 

The Z is an unusual line. It runs only on weekdays, only during peak periods in the morning and afternoon, and only in the peak direction. An express, it makes skip-stop service during those times with the J train, which operates at all times.

The complete schedule can be checked online.

Their route emblems called bullets, are colored brown. See the route color map of the Subway lines here: MTA Colors

The Z Train had its first run on December 11, 1988 when the BMT Archer Avenue Line opened, extending the line east from 121st Street to Jamaica Center–Parsons/Archer.

To make J/Z service more attractive, all trains on those lines consisted of refurbished subway cars that were more quiet, graffiti-free, and had improved lighting and new floors, were expected to have air-conditioning by the summer of 1989. The service was briefly suspended after the September 11 attacks in downtown Manhattan.

Due to budget problems, the MTA announced it would eliminate the Z Train service among other service cuts, in November 2008. However, after financial support came through legislation passed by the New York State Legislature in May 2009. And the Z Train continues its run today.

A wealth of information about the Subway and bus transport is available in the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn and the Transit Museum’s Gallery and Store in the Grand Central Terminal. Though this main museum is a paid visit museum, the Transit Museum’s Gallery and Store in the Grand Central Terminal is free to visit. The gallery is located just off the Main Concourse in the Shuttle Passage, adjacent to the Station Masters’ Office.

The gallery offers changing exhibitions and educational programming to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret the cultural, social and technological history of public transportation in the New York metropolitan region. The store has a large selection of transit related publications, gifts, memorabilia, posters, and toys.

Currently on view at the Grand Central Gallery and Store is the exhibition about MTA’s latest program East Side Access which extends the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to the new Grand Central Madison station under Grand Central Terminal on Manhattan’s East Side. The project is completed and full service began at the station on February 27, 2023.

This is the largest capital project in MTA’s history, and the first expansion of the Long Island Rail Road in over 100 years.  

The gallery is highlighting photographs by Patrick Cashin documenting the construction, and showcasing a model of the new terminal.

30 Apr 2023

Y is for Yards

Located at Midtown Manhattan, New York, NY 10001
Website: https://www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com/

Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards is a 28-acre mixed-use development on Manhattan’s West Side, between 10th and 12th Avenues from West 30th to West 34th Street. The development consists of two phases, the Eastern Yard which opened in March 2019, and the Western Yard which is expected to be completed in 2025. The Eastern Yard includes six high-rise office buildings; The Shed, an arts center; a shopping mall called The Shops and Restaurants; and the Vessel, an architectural showpiece.

Western Yard, when completed, will include additional residential, office, and retail space, as well as an elementary school. When both phases are completed, in 2025, the development is expected to encompass more than 18 million square feet of built space, with nearly 14 acres of open public space.

Located at the top of High Line, Hudson Yards is the biggest private real-estate development in U.S. history.

An interesting fact… Hudson Yards development is constructed above active railroad tracks! A ten-acre platform was devised to support the development, with facilities like special ventilation, cooling, stormwater retention, and plant-friendly smart soil. This complex platform weighs more than 35,000 tons and uses more than 25,000 tons of steel.

The area’s development history goes back to the arrival of railroads in the middle of the 19th century. The adjacent Hudson River docks also spurred growth, making it one of the bustling industrial district. However, after world war 2, the growth was reversed and the area went into decline, despite the construction of the Javits Center in the vicinity in 1986.

New York City planned to construct a new sports stadium for the Olympics, when the city started its bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The plan included the extension of the 7 train to the area and an expansion of the Javits Center. For this purpose, the area was rezoned for new development in January 2005.

When the bid for the Olympics failed, the city decided to go on with the development that was possible with the rezoning, deciding on office and residential buildings instead of the sports stadium. With interest from private investors, the plans for the new Hudson yards development took shape and construction began in December 2012.

Planned as the centerpiece of Hudson Yards is the Vessel, a 16-story, 150-foot-tall spiral staircase-like structure in the middle of the Hudson Yards Public Square. 

Supposedly inspired by ancient Indian stepwells, the Vessel with its 54 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs offers views of the neighborhood from different heights, angles and vantage points. It consists of almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings.

Unfortunately, this structure is currently closed while safety measures are being tested, with no definite date fixed for reopening. Access to the ground-level base is open to the public.

Another attraction at the Hudson yards is the Edge, an outdoor sky deck, a triangular platform, 1,100 feet high, cantilevered from the top of 30.Suspended in mid-air, it provides visitors 360-degree views of Manhattan.

The Shed is an arts and cultural center with gallery spaces, an artists’ lab, and rehearsal spaces. It also houses The McCourt, a large theater that can seat an audience of more than 1200.

The shopping mall spans more than 700,000 square feet and is home to more than 70 luxury retailers. 

29 Apr 2023

V is for Veterans

Located at 55 Water Street, Manhattan, New York
Website:  https://www.vietnamveteransplaza.com/

Vietnam Veterans Plaza

The central focus of the Vietnam Veterans Plaza, created as a lasting memorial to New Yorkers who served their country during the Vietnam War, is a wall made up of glass blocks, on which are engraved excerpts from letters written by the men and women fighting the war in Vietnam. When you consider that the average age of a GI in Vietnam was 19, you can imagine the feelings expressed in these letters. It is heartrending to read some of them. At the website, you can actually read these letters; click on the photo below and then on the website, just click on a name.

The Vietnam Veterans Plaza, on a 90,000 square foot plot overlooking the East River, was opened in 1985. In 1982, then New York City Mayor Edward Koch campaigned for a memorial to honor the 250,000 men and women of New York City who served in the United States armed forces from 1964 to 1975, and especially the 1,741 who lost their lives in Vietnam. He established a 100-member commission to create a memorial that would reflect the conflicting emotions of the Vietnam War. 

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission raised money from private donations to finance the memorial. The same year, a mayoral task force selected Jeannette Park (previously named in honor of The Jeannette, the flagship of an ill-fated Arctic Expedition) as the future site for the memorial.

The winning design, by architects Peter Wormser, William Fellows, and writer/veteran Joseph Ferrandino, is a wall of translucent glass blocks, on which are engraved excerpts of letters, poems, and diary entries written by men and women of the armed forces, as well as news dispatches. A granite shelf runs along the base of the monument, on which visitors often place tokens of remembrance.

To fill the glass blocks, the commission sought words written during the years of the Vietnam War. Some 3,000 letters, poems and diary entries were submitted from across the country, and excerpts from more than 80 of those submissions were chosen for the memorial. Excerpts from 83 letters are etched in the memorial’s glass block and granite wall, 70 feet long and 16 feet high. The wall is lighted by an interior lighting system.

Mayor Koch dedicated the Memorial on the evening of the tenth anniversary of the end of the Vietnam era in May 1985.

In 2001 Vietnam Veterans Plaza underwent a $7 million restoration and redesign that transformed the site. The Friday before Veterans Day 2001 was selected for the rededication of the reconstructed plaza.

The plaza currently features a ceremonial entrance that provides access through the site from Water to South Street. At the stepped design’s center is a round, black granite fountain that forms a curtain of water. 

The ‘Walk of Honor’, a series of twelve polished granite pylons with the names of all 1,741 United States military personnel from New York who died as a result of their service in Vietnam, leads to the memorial wall. When I visited last in October 2022, the site was undergoing repairs and some areas were not accessible to the public.

A compilation of letters and poems received by the commission for consideration to be included on the memorial was published under the title Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. 

The publication of the book coincided with the dedication of the memorial. The book offers context for the excerpts of the letters and poems selected for inscription on the Memorial. In all, 208 pieces written by 125 people were chosen for inclusion.

26 Apr 2023

U is for Union

Located at E 14 Street to E 17 Street in Manhattan, New York
Park Website:  https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/union-square-park

Union Square Park

Union Square Park is a bustling city park, a center of activities and events and home to the largest green market in New York City. 

The park gets its name from its location… at the union or intersection of two major roads, Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) and Bowery Road (now Fourth Avenue). The park, named Union Place initially, was designed on the lines of the fashionable residential squares of London and opened to the public on July 19, 1839.

As New York City’s downtown expanded northward, Union Square became an important commercial and residential center, with houses, hotels, stores, banks, offices, manufacturing establishments, and a variety of cultural facilities coming up around it. One of my personal favorites in the area is the ’18 miles of books’ at the Strand Book Store!

The grounds of Union Square have frequently served as a choice location for public meetings, including parades, labor protests, political rallies. By the early 1880s, Union Square was a hotspot for the political life of the city. On September 5, 1882, New York City’s Union Square was the location of the first recorded Labor Day parade in America. 

The parade represented broad swaths of New York and New Jersey labor organizations and ensured that all trades had proper representation at the event, from bricklayers to jewelers to cigar makers. 

With the overwhelming turnout and the deep significance of the parade, enthusiasm for the establishment of a Labor Day holiday increased. In 1884, the first resolutions were passed to solidify Labor Day as a state-wide holiday. The federal Labor Day holiday was signed into law by President Grover Cleveland in 1894.

In 1997 the United States Department of the Interior designated Union Square Park as a National Historic Landmark because of its significance in American labor history. 

The park has undergone numerous redesignings and improvements over the years. In 1872 the park was redesigned by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. In the 1920 and 30s, improvements took place including dedication of the Independence Flagstaff at the center of the park. 

The flagstaff, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, has intricate bas-reliefs and plaques that feature a procession of allegorical figures representing democracy and tyranny, the text of the Declaration of Independence, and emblems from the original 13 colonies. 

There are several other monuments in the park too, including an equestrian statue of George Washington, a bronze larger than life statue of Abraham Lincoln and a statue of the leader of Indian independence struggle Mohandas Gandhi on a traffic island on the southwest of the main park.

Take a look at the events happening in Union Square Park.

Union Square Park hosts New York City’s largest greenmarket where farmers sell what they grow, raise, catch, and bake locally. It is operated year-round by GrowNYC and is held four times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM. The stalls are located on Union Square Park’s north and west plazas and sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, heritage meats and award-winning farmstead cheeses, artisan breads, jams, pickles, a profusion of cut flowers and plants, wine, ciders, maple syrup and more.

25 Apr 2023

T is for Theodore

Located at 28 East 20th Street, New York, NY 10003
Museum Website:  https://www.nps.gov/thrb/index.htm

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, a brownstone townhouse, is where Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, lived from his birth on October 27, 1858 until he was 14 years old. The museum is designed as a memorial and place to interpret Roosevelt’s ideals and legacies. The site opened to the public on October 27, 1923. 

The museum building contains five period rooms: the parlor, library, dining room, nursery, and master bedroom, two museum galleries a library, auditorium, storage, and a bookstore.

Museum galleries are filled with Roosevelt memorabilia and exhibits pertaining to Roosevelt’s life, career, and politics. The collections include manuscripts, published books and articles, cartoons, and photographs, as well as many of Roosevelt’s letters and journals. Also included are original historic objects and furnishings from Roosevelt’s childhood home, as well as other objects from his later life.

The library is filled with a collection of Roosevelt books and other research material. 

The Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace was established as a national historic site in 1962 and donated to the National Park Service in 1963. 

The house gives the definite impression that it belonged to a wealthy family, with flowing silk curtains and expensive furniture and chandeliers. While all the period pieces of furniture and decorations are heirlooms, the original home, was demolished in 1916, after the family moved uptown and the building was used for commercial purposes for a number of years.

After Roosevelt’s death in 1919, the site was purchased by the Women’s Roosevelt Memorial Association, rebuilt and decorated with many of its original furnishings by Roosevelt’s sisters and wife.

The reconstruction of the birthplace was designed by one of America’s first female architects, Theodate Pope Riddle. 

The reconstruction of the exterior and the period rooms within it was based on the memories of Theodore Roosevelt’s sisters and wife.They were instrumental in determining spatial configuration, wall and floor finishes, furnishings, and furniture placement in the rooms. The restoration was also based on house descriptions from Roosevelt’s autobiography and the townhouse next door that had belonged to Roosevelt’s uncle and was still extant when the reconstruction began. Original elements from that home, which was identical to the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, were incorporated into the reconstructed home. 

Called Teedie as a youngster, he started life as a sickly yet bright boy who exercised to improve his health and began a lifelong passion for the ‘strenuous life’. 

Under President Theodore Roosevelt, congress passed the Antiquities Act in 1906, which authorizes the President to declare, by public proclamation, historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest situated on federal lands as national monuments.

After becoming president in 1901, Roosevelt used his authority to establish 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks and 18 national monuments on over 230 million acres of public land. Today, the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt is found across the country.

The story of how a sitting president of the United States got associated with the most popular children’s plush toy starts when the president, on a hunting trip in 1902, refused to shoot a captive bear. And the story was published far and wide. Morris Michtom and his wife Rose, Brooklyn business people, had the idea to create a stuffed toy bear and dedicate it to the president who refused to shoot a bear. After receiving Roosevelt’s permission to use his name, the toy was mass produced, becoming famous all over the world as the Teddy Bear.

He is one of the four presidents the country honored and immortalized on Mount Rushmore. 

Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 “for his role in bringing to an end the bloody war recently waged between two of the world’s great powers, Japan and Russia”.

His reputation as an outdoorsman, naturalist, rancher, and conservationist has earned him a unique place in our country’s history. The motto on his Coat of Arms says: Qui plantavit curabit – He who planted will preserve.

24 Apr 2023