Category: Historic Sites in NYC

Titanic Memorial Lighthouse                   Pearl Street/South Street Seaport           New York, NY 10038

Titanic Memorial Lighthouse Pearl Street/South Street Seaport New York, NY 10038

Titanic Memorial Lighthouse

Pearl Street/South Street Seaport

New York, NY 10038

(212) 830-7700

https://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=585

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanic_Memorial_(New_York_City)

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 Hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d7738946-Reviews-Titanic_Memorial_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html

The Titanic Memorial Lighthouse

I have been to the South Street Seaport dozens of times over the years and can’t believe that I never noticed this memorial dedicated to those lost in the Titanic disaster. I was visiting the Seaport recently after finishing another walk down the length of Broadway for my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com” and was walking past the Seaport on my way to Chinatown. Something about it this time caught my attention and I stopped to look at the dedication of this small lighthouse.

It was really touching to see that the people from the 1912 disaster were not forgotten in New York City, its ultimate destination. This was the work of Molly Brown, the ‘Unsinkable Molly Brown’ from the movie. She wanted to be sure that the people who survived were never forgotten. The small lighthouse structure sits at the entrance to the main part of the seaport on an island just off the cobblestone walkway into the complex.

The Memorial plaque on the lighthouse

The tower that it was originally placed a top of the Seamen’s Church Institute Building and it was put up for sale and demolished in 1965 and the small lighthouse memorial was donated to the South Street Seaport Museum. It was placed in its current location in 1976 (Friends of the Lighthouse).

The little lighthouse is a touching reminder of Manhattan’s connection to the event over 100 years ago. Try not to miss it when you are visiting the Seaport.

The history of the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse:

(This is from the Friends of the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse website)

On April 15th, 1913, one year after the sinking of the Titanic, the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse and Time Ball, mounted atop the Seamen’s Church Institute, were dedicated to honor the passengers, officers and crew who perished in the tragedy. The dedicatory service opened with a hymn and prayer and then Rt. Rev. David h Greer, Bishop of New York, read the following lines of dedication:

“To the glory of Almighty God and in loving memory of those passengers, officers and crew who lost their lives in the foundering of the steamship, Titanic, on April 15, 1912, I, David Hummell Greer, Bishop of New York and president of the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York, do solemnly dedicate the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse Tower. As its light by night shall guide pilgrims and seafaring men from every clime into this port, so may they follow Him who is the Light of Life across the waves of this troublesome world to everlasting life and looking at noon toward this place to note the time of day, may they remember that our days pass as the swift ships and in view of the shortness and uncertainty of human life, strive to fulfill their duty well as the beat preparation for Eternity. Amen.”

The Titanic Memorial Lighthouse exhibited a fixed green light that could be seen throughout New York harbor and down as far as Sandy Hook. Five minutes before noon each day, a time ball would be hoisted to the top of a steel rod mounted atop the lighthouse and dropped at the stroke of twelve as indicated over the wires from Washington DC. According to The Lookout, the magazine of the Seamen’s Church Institute, the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse would be a much needed daily reminder for ‘in a busy, carless city the average person so soon forgets’.

The Seamen’s Church Institute was established in 1834 and had announced plans for its new twelve story headquarters at South Street and Coenties Slip in Lower Manhattan several years before the loss of the Titanic. The Flemish style building was meant to reflect new York’s Dutch origins and was to be crowned by a tower whose beacon would welcome incoming seamen. The cornerstone for the building was laid one day after the sinking of the Titanic and a week later the institute announced the lighthouse atop their building would be a memorial to the victims of the tragedy.

First Shearith Israel Graveyard/Chatham Square Cemetery                                            55-57 St. James Place                                  New York, 10038

First Shearith Israel Graveyard/Chatham Square Cemetery 55-57 St. James Place New York, 10038

First Shearith Israel Graveyard/Chatham Square Cemetery

55-57 St. James Place

New York, NY 10038

(212) 873-0300

https://shearithisrael.org/content/chatham-square-cemetery

Open: 24 Hours

Fee: Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

There are times that I walk around Manhattan and things just pop out at you. Tucked inside small pockets of the City are small community gardens, detailed statues, street art and sometimes a small cemetery. I had passed the First Shearith Israel Graveyard or also known as the Chatham Square Cemetery many times when visiting Chinatown since I was a kid. This tiny elevated pocket square of land is located next to a building and locked behind a gate just off St. James Place right at the end of Mott Street strip of Chinatown.

Chatham Square Cemetery

You really have to look for this at the side of 55-57 St. James Place

This is the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Manhattan that was in use from 1683 to 1833. The site of the cemetery was originally on a hill overlooking the East River in an open area at the northern periphery of the British-Dutch colonial settlement. The plot was purchased in 1682 by Joseph Bueno de Mesquita and the cemetery’s first interment was for his relative, Benjamin Bueno de Mesquita. The cemetery expanded in the 1700’s from Chatham Square to the upper part of Oliver Street to Madison Avenue (Wiki).

The original map of the Dutch Colony (New York Historical Society)

In 1823, a City ordinance prohibited burials south of Canal Street and the congregation opened a second burial spot at West 11th Street. A third cemetery was opened at 21st Street west of Sixth Avenue. The size of the cemetery has been reduced over the years because of development and most of the bodies were removed and moved to the other cemeteries. In 1851, the City again prohibited burials below 86th Street and the congregations again opened a fourth cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens. In 1855, with more development changing the area again and over two hundred graves were removed from the site. Only about hundred remain (Wiki).

Two of the most notable people buried here are Reverend Gershom Mendes Seixas (1745-1816), the first American born Jewish spiritual leader and Dr. Walter Jonas Judah, the second person of the Jewish faith to attend an American Medical School (now Columbia University) and the first native born one. (Wiki). There are also 18 Jewish Revolutionary War era veterans and patriots buried here.

History of the Jewish Settlement in Dutch New York:

In September of 1654, just after the Jewish New Year, twenty-three Jews, mostly of Spanish and Portuguese origin arrived in Manhattan. These people had been living in Recife, the former capital of the 17th Century Dutch Brazil. When the Portuguese defeated the Dutch for control of Recife and brought with them the Inquisition, the Jews of that area left. Some returned to Amsterdam, where they had originated and others moved around the Caribbean to other islands. These twenty-three arrived in New York due a series of unseen events (Big Apple Secrets).

Governor Peter Stuyvesant did not want to permit them to stay but these settlers fought for their rights and won permission to remain. In 1655, the Jewish settlers applied to the Dutch authorities for permission to purchase a parcel of land as an exclusive place to bury their dead. In February of 1656, appealed “that consent may be given” for the purchase. In 1644, the British took New Amsterdam and renamed it New York and the Jews were granted more civil rights. In 1706, they had organized their own congregation, Shearith Israel (Big Apple Secrets).

The cemetery for the most part is pad locked but you can view the outside from the street level. The cemetery is open on Memorial Day for services to the members of the armed services but for the most part you have to view the cemetery from the street level.

Chatham Square Cemetery

The plaque that you can see at eye level just inside the cemetery.

This unique plot of land is easy to miss so look for the plaque at eye level as you pass it.

The Morgan Library & Museum                                                                                                225 Madison Avenue                                    New York, NY 10016

The Morgan Library & Museum 225 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016

The Morgan Museum & Library

225 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10016

(212) 685-3484

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday 10:30am-5:00pm/Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm

Fee: Adults $22.00/Seniors (over 65) $14.00/Current Students with ID $13.00/Free to Members and Children under 12 accompanied by a parent. Free on Friday Nights from 7:00pm-9:00pm. Discount for people with disabilities $13.00-Caregiver Free.

https://www.themorgan.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d107356-Reviews-The_Morgan_Library_Museum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

The Morgan Restaurant:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d502683-Reviews-Morgan_Cafe-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

What I love about the Morgan Library & Museum is the level of sophistication and quality of their exhibitions. The museum really makes you think when you tour their galleries and attend their lectures and gallery talks. Their docents and curators bring an exhibition to a whole new level. I always feel like I am taking a college course and will be graded afterwards. They really make you think about the work or what the author or artist is trying to say.

Two of my favorite exhibitions were the “150th Anniversary Celebration of Alice in Wonderland”, which is why I joined the Morgan Library & Museum. I loved the novel and I wanted to get some ideas for our library’s own celebration. They had the original manuscript written by Lewis Carroll, some original prints and memorabilia from various times including posters, books, artwork and decorative items.

The entrance to the “Alice in Wonderland” exhibition

Another wonderful and interesting exhibition was on Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” which was a celebration of her life, her works and of the novel through the ages in both context of the novel and in Hollywood. There were various copies of the books in the exhibition as well as the history of the author’s life.

The Frankenstein print

The exhibition showed the clips of the original silent version of the film, the 1931 version with Boris Karloff and the modern version “Young Frankenstein” with Gene Wilder from 1974. I learned from the exhibition that the set used in the 1974 version of the film was from the original 1931 film and it had been in the director’s basement all those years.

The entrance to “It’s Alive: Frankenstein at 200” exhibition at the museum

Another exhibition that was very interesting was the recent American artist Al Taylor with an showing of his drawings. The works were unusual but really stood out was his time in Hawaii and the drawings that inspired him.

Duck Bondage Study by Al Taylor

Untitled by Al Taylor

American artist Al Taylor

A YouTube video on the “David Hockney” Exhibition:

The recent David Hockney Exhibition that I missed

It is nice to walk among the permanent collection of prints in the lower level and to visit the former private areas of Mr. Morgan’s home. It adds to who he was as a financier and as a homeowner. The home was not as elaborate as you would have thought.

The private part of the museum

I also enjoy the Morgan Cafe on the main level of the museum in the courtyard area of the first floor. The food is a little pricey and a limited menu but the service is wonderful and the quality of the food is very good. You will enjoy the meal and I have heard from other patrons that the Afternoon Tea is very nice as well.

The Morgan’s foyer and restaurant

They also have a Dining Room in the Library area that I have heard is very nice as well.

The Morgan Dining Room

They have a nice selection of books, cards and gifts in their Gift Shop just beyond The Morgan Dining Room. I really like their selections at the holidays and their theme books to the exhibitions especially for the “Alice in Wonderland” exhibition.

The Morgan Library & Museum gift shop

It is a nice place to take a gallery talk, then a light lunch in the main hall and then a lecture at night. It’s a great way to spend the day.

The History of the Morgan Library & Museum:

(from the Morgan Library & Museum website)

The Museum is a complex of buildings in the heart of New York City and began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. As early as 1890, Mr. Morgan had begun to assemble a collection of illuminated, literary and historical manuscripts, early printed books and old master drawings and prints.

Mr. Morgan’s library was built between 1902 and 1906 adjacent to his New York residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street. Designed by Charles McKim of the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, the library was intended as something more than a repository of rare materials. Majestic in appearance yet intimate in scale, the structure was to reflect the nature and stature of its holdings.

The result was an Italian Renaissance-style palazzo with three magnificent rooms epitomizing America’s Age of Elegance. Completed three years before McKim’s death, it is considered by many to be his masterpiece. In 1924, eleven years after Mr. Morgan’s passing, his son, J.P. Morgan Jr., known as Jack, realized that the library had become too important to remain in private hands. It what constituted one of the most momentous cultural gifts in the United States history. He fulfilled his father’s dream of making the library and its treasures available to scholars and the public alike by transforming it into a public institution.

Mr. Morgan’s private areas are part of the museum

Over the years, through purchases and generous gifts, The Morgan Library & Museum has continued to acquire rare materials as well as important music manuscripts, early children’s books, Americana and materials from the twentieth century. Without loosing its decidedly domestic feeling, the Morgan also has expanded its physical space considerably.

In 1928, the Annex building was erected on the corner of Madison Avenue and 36th Street, replacing Pierpont Morgan’s residence. The Annex connected to the original McKim library by means of a gallery. In 1988, Jack Morgan’s former residence, a mid-nineteenth century brownstone on Madison Avenue and 37th Street was added to the complex. The 1991 garden court was constructed as a means to unite the various elements of the Morgan campus.

The largest expansion in the Morgan’s history, adding 75,000 sq ft to the campus was completed in 2006. Designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano, the project increases exhibition space by more than fifty percent and adds more important visitor amenities, including a new performance hall, a welcoming entrance on Madison Avenue, a new cafe and a new restaurant, a shop, a new reading room and collections storage. Piano’s design integrates the Morgan’s three historical buildings with three new modestly scaled steel and glass pavilions. A soaring central court connects the buildings and serves as a gathering place for visitors in the spirit of an Italian piazza.

The Morgan Library & Museum expansion by Renzo Piano

The Morgan Library & Museum Mission:

The mission of The Morgan Library & Museum is to preserve, build, study, present and interpret a collection of extraordinary quality, in order to stimulate enjoyment, excite the imagination, advance learning and nurture creativity.

A global institution, focused on the European and American traditions, the Morgan houses one of the world’s foremost collections of manuscripts, rare books, music, drawings and ancient and other works of art. These holdings, which represent the legacy of Pierpont Morgan and numerous later benefactors, comprise a unique and dynamic record of civilization as well as an incomparable repository of ideas and of the creative process.

(From the Morgan Library & Museum website and history)

Fort Jay Governors Island New York City, NY 10004

Fort Jay Governors Island New York City, NY 10004

Fort Jay

Governors Island

New York, NY 10004

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136072-Reviews-Governors_Island_National_Monument-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on MywalkinManhattan.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/7658

When I was touring Governors Island for my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”, I explored the Fort Jay complex which is located on the northern end of the island just past Castle Williams.

Fort Jay on Governors Island

This fort is mostly in a state of ruin and is currently being restored at various stages all around the complex. The decorative entrance with its statuary is being cleaned and the entrance fixed on one side of the fort and the walls and some of the interior space is being repaired inside the fort.

The main entrance to Fort Jay.

This fort and Castle Williams were built to protect the City of New York between the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. After that these forts fell out of use as the times and technology changed .

The decorative statuary is being repaired on the fort

Now the fort is used for art exhibitions in some of the interior hallways and grass has grown over most of the walkways. Still it is interesting to walk along the pathways near the walls of the fort and see how they were once used. It is interesting to see how far we have progressed in warfare.

The History of Fort Jay:

Fort Jay is located on Governors Island in New York Harbor, one half-mile from the southern tip of Manhattan. No defensive works are known to have been erected on the island during its early history. Defensive earthen works were first erected on the highest point of Governors Island by Continental troops in 1775-76. The island and its fort were occupied by the British during the American Revolution until 1783, when it surrendered, along with several buildings to the Governor of New York.

More than ten years passed before renewed tensions with Great Britain resulted in funding from both the New York Legislature and the United States Congress in 1794 to reconstruct the works on Governors Island. This part of a larger national effort to fortify ports that later became known as the First American System of coastal fortifications.

Design of the New York Harbor defenses was assigned to French engineer Charles Vincent. The works on Governors Island had been completed by 1796, described in January of that year by the Secretary of War as “a fort made of earth and two batteries under its protection, partly lined with brick masonry, two air furnaces, a large powder magazine and a barrack for the garrison.”

Fears of a French invasion in 1797 resulted in a second phase effort funded by additional appropriations to complete and enhance the coastal fortifications, including those on Governors Island. The fort is said to have acquired the name “Fort Jay” in 1798 for John Jay, then the Governor of New York State. Governors Island and its fort were conveyed to the federal government two years later in 1800, by an Act of the New York State Legislature.

A plan of the fort as it existed that year shows it as a four-bastioned form surrounded by a ditch with a parapet having 51 embrasures, a gate and bridge on the east side and a large magazine in the northeast bastion. The fort was still incomplete and incapable of defense in 1802 according to a written report, although it was then equipped with a “handsome Gateway with a Corps de Garde” or guardhouse, that survives today.

Fort Jay had fallen into ruinous condition by 1806 when a second national campaign to strengthen the coastal defenses of the country, now known as the Second American System of fortifications, was implemented. This effort differed from the first by employing American engineers and using more durable masonry construction.

The engineer chosen to design and oversee the defenses of New York Harbor was Colonel Jonathan Williams, Chief Engineer of the Corps of Engineers and first Superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point. Reconstruction of Fort Jay, renamed Fort Columbus about this time, began in July 1806 and was completed by December 1809. The only components of the old fort judged worth saving were “the walled Counterscarp, the Gate, the Magazine and the Barracks,” according to Colonel Williams in a report dated November 1808.

The completed fort was described in a later report to Congress as “an enclosed pentagonal work, with four bastions of masonry, calculated for one hundred guns, fifty-five mounted with brick barracks for two hundred and thirty men, including officers. The earliest known plan of the completed fort is a plan by Joseph Mangin drawn in 1813.

The first significant repairs and alterations were made to Fort Columbus in the 1830’s, resulting in the overall appearance of the fort as it exists today. The stone retaining walls were extensively rebuilt at this time, including the scarp that was faced with granite and topped with a new brickwork parapet. The old magazine in the northeast bastion was demolished and replaced by four new magazines erected in the north ravelin. Finally, the four existing brick were replaced by four new barracks with flanking triangular structures and outdoor courtyards.

Later changes have been made to the barracks by the U.S. Army over the years, including interior remodeling and replacement of the flat roofs with hipped roofs in 1855-57, incorporated of five of the triangular buildings as additions in the 1860’s and 1898-99 and reconfiguration of the buildings as officers’ apartments in 1921-22 and again in the 1930’s. Paint was stripped from the exterior brick buildings in the 1930’s, the sodded glacis of the fort was converted to recreational use as a golf course by 1940 and the flagstaff was moved from the northwest bastion to the north ravelin by 1953.

The interior walls of Fort Jay

Jurisdiction of Governors Island passed from the U.S. Army to the U.S. Coastguard in 1966. Improvements made by the Coast Guard to Fort Jay, whose name was officially reinstated in 1904, included expansion of the golf course; remodeling of the barracks with new kitchens, bathrooms, heating and electrical systems and storm windows and doors and erection of chain-link fencing on the glacis. Fort Jay sat vacant with minimal upkeep since the closure of the Coast Guard in 1997.

Fort Jay was recorded by the Historic American Buildings survey in 1934 and in 1982-83. The fort was individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It was included in a National Historic Landmark District designated in 1985 and a New York Historic District designated in 1996. The fort is also located within the boundaries of the Governors Island National Monument, established by Presidential Proclamations in 2001 and 2003.

Fort Jay on Governors Island

(This information I credit to the National Park System-Division of Culture website)