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.
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.
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.
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 Prospect Park Zoo is one of my ‘go to’ places along with the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when visiting Brooklyn. The three popular destinations are all in the same neighborhood and if you have a full day is worth the subway ride from Manhattan to visit.
On a nice day, the best place to start is the Brooklyn Botanical Garden at opening, then head over through the back part of the garden to Prospect Park and walk to the entrance near Flatbush Avenue and go past the carousel and enter the Zoo past the old Leffert’s Homestead. The Zoo is just past that.
The best part of the Prospect Park Zoo is that like the Central Park Zoo it is small enough to see in one day and be able to enjoy the exhibitions in one afternoon and still have time for lunch.
The main focus of the zoo when you walk through the gates is the seal tanks. These playful animals spend most of their time swimming around or sunning themselves on a warm day. During the feeding schedule, it is interesting to see how they interact with the trainers.
Walking further into the zoo you will walk past the Hall of Animals, where all the smaller animals and amphibians like frogs, snakes and turtles are located. These are a lot of fun for the smaller children who may not see these things in their backyards or even in the parks anymore.
Beyond that is the Barn, where your horses and cows are located and they even have a pair of turkeys, which makes for interesting conversation for children who wonder where they come from at Thanksgiving. The turkeys here are more bred than the wild ones you will see in the woods.
Next to the Hall of Animals is the Animal Lifestyle exhibition where a lot of the gorillas and monkeys are located. It is funny to watch their mannerisms and see ourselves and out behaviors in them. I guess a couple of thousand years never really separated us that much and we still are a lot alike.
From there you will take the Discovery Trail to see more familiar animals that you might see in every day nature such as deer, foxes, porcupines, ducks and geese in a more natural habitat where they can roam free. The space is limited but they look a lot happy to move around than some of the other animals.
All trails lead back to the Seal Tanks where the popular feeding time gathers a crowd and you will see the care that many of the trainers and zoo keepers give to their residents. There is a lot of love for these animals that is given and I can see a lot of respect.
A trip to the snack shop and gift shops at the zoo are expensive and cater to the tourists. They are not as nicely merchandised as the Bronx Zoo or the Central Park Zoo. Still they are fun to visit once or twice.
The Prospect Park Zoo is still a nice afternoon out for families and a nice way to communicate with nature.
The History of the Prospect Park Zoo:
The Prospect Park Zoo is a 12 acre zoo located in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and as of 2016 houses 864 animals. The zoo was originally part of the plan of Prospect Park as a “Zoological Garden” in the western part of the park. The zoo was not part of the finished plan in the park in 1874 by designers Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
The park design included a Wild Fowl Pond in the northern part of the park that was stop off for water birds and a Deer Paddock in the southern part of the zoo where deer lived in a penned area.
In the 1890’s, gardens were created for park enjoyment and a informal Menagerie was created by the Brooklyn Parks Commission, George V. Brower, when the donation of small bear, white deer, seven seals, a cow and twelve peacocks came into the possession of the park.
In 1934, Parks Department head Robert Moses set a plan to reconstruct the City’s Parks and under the Works Progress Administration started to revamp the park system. In March of that year architect Aymar Embury II set to design the new zoo with six new buildings and centered by a Seal Pool.
By the 1970’s, the zoo faced disrepair and was neglect for the animals. It was considered one of the worst zoo’s in the country according to the press and finally in 1980, the Koch Administration signed a 50 year agreement with the NY Zoological Society, now called the Wildlife Conservation Society, which was also administrating the Central Park and Queens Zoo.
The park closed in 1988 for a five year, 37 million dollar renovation that gutted all the pits and cages but saved the historic buildings and statuary. The new zoo opened in 1993 with a new name, “The Prospect Park Wildlife Conservation Center” and a philosophy of educating children. The zoo along with the Queens Zoo have had some shortfalls in the past but have the full support of the Society and the public since the early 2000’s. Still the zoo remains popular with families from all over Brooklyn and the world.
(This information is provided by Wiki and the Wildlife Conservatory website and I give them both full credit for the information)