Tag: Exploring the Bronx

City Island Nautical Museum/City Island Historical Society                                                  190 Fordham Street                                              City Island, NY 10464

City Island Nautical Museum/City Island Historical Society 190 Fordham Street City Island, NY 10464

City Island Nautical Museum/City Island Historical Society

190 Fordham Street

City Island, NY 10464

(718) 885-0008

https://www.cityislandmuseum.org/

https://www.facebook.com/City-Island-Nautical-Museum-120813594596346/

Open: Sunday 1:00pm-4:00pm/Monday-Friday Closed/Saturday 1:00pm-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47475-d109882-Reviews-City_Island_Nautical_Museum-City_Island_Bronx_New_York.html

The City Island Nautical Museum at 190 Fordham Street

The City Island Nautical Museum

I recently took a trip to City Island, a small community just off the coast off the mainland of The Bronx (which is part of The Bronx) to visit the City Island Nautical Museum. This tiny museum located in the heart of the island is noted for its collection of ship building artifacts and items that are native to a community that once built the vessels for the America’s Cup.

City Island has a rich history in ship building, sail making and fishing it is reflected in the collection of materials in the museum and its archives. The museum really details the growth and history of the boating industry on the island and its importance in the local economy. What I found interesting was the rich history of the creation of the sailing ships for the America’s Cup tournament and how all the winning boats up until the 1980’s were built on the island and the one that lost the cup for us against Australia was the first one not built on the island.

Even Ted Turner’s boat “Courageous” was built on the island. There was a picture of the reunion of the boat winning twice at the museum with the crew’s signatures (The tour guide even said how he ‘freaked out’ members of the New York Yacht Club who did not consider him one of their own). All the sailing vessels lined the walls of the hallway of the museum.

Each room of the museum was dedicated to a different theme. When I toured the Community Room in the back of the museum, it held the records of a lot of old businesses of City Island with pictures and items that were once part of the businesses. There was a small FDNY display, a small WWII display about local residents who fought in the war, wedding garments, maps of the island and a small display of arrowheads.

In the School Room, the concentration was on PS 17, which the museum is now housed in and its history with all the classroom group shot pictures, graduation pictures and a small classroom set up. There were more records and event items of the current PS 175, which is the K-8 school that the residents attend. There were also records and pictures of St. Mary, Star of the Sea School, the former Catholic school that used to be on the island as well.

The Nautical Room needed an overall as there was too much going on in the room with pictures all over the walls, equipment for navigation and for fishing and records of the ship building companies that used to dot the island. There were boats in various shapes and sizes on display and the companies that built them like Wood Yacht, Nevins Yacht and Minneford Yacht. There was also the history of shipbuilding and sail making on the island. The tour guide told me there were no more ship builders on the island, but one sail maker left.

The Library where all the research is done on the island and on the families and businesses that were once here was dominated by yachting pictures and nautical photography. It held all the City Island records and even the ship building plans.

The museum has a lot to see but it needs to be a bit more organized to really showcase the collections properly. Still, it is one of the best museums I have seen with a nautical history theme. The best part is that you can see the whole museum in about an hour and this leaves you time to tour the island and see how the museum better explains why the island is the way it is right now.

The History and set up of the City Island Nautical Museum:

(From the Museum pamphlet)

History of the Museum:

(From the Museum Pamphlet)

The City Island Nautical Museum is located in one of the island’s most picturesque and historic buildings, the former Public School 17, built in 1897 on one of the highest points on the island. When the residents of City Island voted in 1895 to separate from the town of Pelham in Westchester County and to become part of New York City, the City administration built the school, which continued in use until 1975. When the building was sold in 1986, the City reserved space for use by the City Island Historical Society and the Community Center and several old classrooms now serve as galleries for the museum.

The Main Hall and Gallery:

The Main Hall is lined with photographic essays featuring maps, the America’s Cup, City Island’s most beautiful boats, the City Island Bridges and historic buildings as well as a history timeline, models of a minesweeper and several rum runners, built during Prohibition and a handsome wooden kayak built in the 1930’s. The foyer contains the museum’s gift shop, featuring articles for sale such as books, t-shirts, photographs, postcards and nautical gifts and the desk where the docents greet visitors.

The Gallery features display cases with antique shipbuilding and sailmaking tools and the walls are covered with photographs of yachts built or serviced here and portraits of legendary City Islanders who contributed so much to the life and work on the island.

The Walsh Library:

The recently refurbished library features a collection of books devoted to maritime history and many binders and scrapbooks featuring newspaper clippings, postcards and articles about City Island, Pelham Bay Park and Hart Island. There is an extensive selection of nautical magazines, including Yachting, Rudder, Wooden Boat and Classic Yacht, a data base of all boats built on City Island since 1848 and an impressive display of ship models. Special exhibitions regularly mounted in the library feature the work of local artists and photographs documenting aspects of City Island history.

The Nautical Room:

Shipyards, sail lofts, yachts and the people behind them are all honored here. Historical photographs, memorabilia and artifacts fill the room and tell the story of City Island’s rich nautical past. Also on display are tools used by sailmakers and shipbuilders, several ship models and some vintage outboard motors. Of particular interest in the room are several skiffs, a partially completed boat and a Buchman sailing canoe from the early 1930’s (all built on City Island).

Ship building on City Island

The Community Room:

Celebrating City Island from its earliest days, the Community Room displays photographs, maps and memorabilia, including Native American arrowheads found in the area. The walls are covered with images of street scenes, stores, restaurants, private houses, and the waterfront then and now. Displays include a large relief map of City Island in about 1867, a diorama of the Battle of Pell’s Point that took place in October 1776, a niche devoted to City Island’s religious institutions and many antique home furnishings, including sewing machines, an ice box, and a 100-year-old typewriter. A large counter from Gilbert’s Pharmacy serves as a display case in the center of the room.

The School Room:

Student registers, graduation pictures, autograph books, report cards, the old school bell, and the other artifacts tell the story of City Island’s schools from the first schoolhouse built in 1838 to the present school, P.S. 175, built in 1975 and St. Mary, Star of the Sea RC School, which served the island for over 75 years. A section of the room is set up like a traditional school room, and a unique map of the naval training station that was located in Pelham Bay Park from 1917 to 1918 hangs on the wall.

The classroom set up in The School Room

Bronx Zoo                                                            2300 Southern Boulevard                                Bronx, NY 10460

Bronx Zoo 2300 Southern Boulevard Bronx, NY 10460

The Bronx Zoo

2300 Southern Boulevard

The Bronx, NY 10460

(718) 367-1010

https://bronxzoo.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm

Fee: Members Free/Adults-Full Experience $39.95/Senior Full Experience $34.99/Child (3-12) $29.99/Child (under 3) Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d136079-Reviews-Bronx_Zoo-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on TripAdvisor for the “Holiday Lights Festival”:

https://static.tacdn.com/AttractionProductReview-g47369-d19708232-Bronx_Zoo_Holiday_Lights-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

I have been coming to the Bronx Zoo since I was five years old and I never really thought it changed that much over the years. I recently went to a Private Members Night last Fall (See Day One Hundred and in MywalkinManhattan.com) and realized that I had not been there since they opened the Congo Gorilla Forest exhibition and that was in the late 90’s. I had not been in the zoo for over twenty years. A lot has changed since I visited back in 1997. A lot of new exhibitions have opened and renovations made.

Map of the Zoo

My blog on the Private Members Night at the Bronx Zoo on MywalkinManhattan.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/9545

The Zoo covers about 265 acres of the park in the middle of The Bronx. I took the time to walk all through the park and visiting all the exhibitions, riding on the train and on the monorail system looking over all the animals in their natural habitats set up by the zoo.

I revisited the Congo Gorilla Forest, the Worlds of Birds and Reptiles, exploring the African Plains that I rode past on the monorail system and walked through Jungle World. I really got to visit the park in more detail than I ever had before.

Congo Gorilla Forest

The one thing I really liked about the Zoo was I had never noticed the architecture of the buildings and fountains that I had passed when I was younger and had a real appreciation for them. Most had been around the turn of the last century when the philosophy of looking at animals was different. The graceful stone buildings have beautiful animal carvings all over them.

The Monkey Building

The best part was since it was a rather gloomy night out there were not that many members in the zoo so I got to ride the rides and walk through the Tree Top Maze with crowds behind me rushing the experience.

I finished the evening visiting the new Dinosaur exhibition and that was creepy. There were dinosaur replications hiding in the woods making sounds and looking at you as you passed. It had been a very popular exhibition that summer.

The Dinosaur Safari

For dinner that evening, I enjoyed the Dancing Crane Cafe, the main restaurant in the zoo. I was impressed that the food was really good. It was mostly kid staples like pizza and chicken fingers but everything was really fresh and everything was cooked for us. I had the Chicken Fingers with French Fries and it was a nice sized portion. The chicken was a generous portion that was almost a whole breast. The restaurant is pricey but every once in a while it is a treat.

The Dancing Crane Cafe inside the Zoo

I looked over the zoo with a fresh pair of eyes without the throngs of visitors that you normally see there. I enjoyed looking over the animals in a more natural habitat that a lot of zoos don’t offer.

Recently the Zoo has brought back the “Festival of Lights” event for the holidays. I was able to attend the last night of the event on a Sunday night and it was pretty special. In the era of COVID, it really cheered me up. Almost all of the Zoo was decorated with lights and there was Christmas music playing the whole night. Even though the holidays had passed it still put me back into the mood.

Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights

The nautical display at the Bronx Zoo “Holiday Lights”

All the trees were adorned with white lights and each of the sections of the park were decorated with a theme. There were elephants wondering through the paths, seals and penguins swimming through their displays and all sorts of tinkling snowmen and animals like bears, lions, tigers and giraffes lining the paths.

The seal lights lined the penguin and nautical areas

The nicest section that I almost missed was the musical Christmas tree in the old section of the park and the zebras on stilts. The original section of the park was decorated with multiple lights with contemporary Christmas music playing in the background. There were birds flying, reindeer being chased and seals leading the way for other animals.

Bronx Zoo

The musical Christmas tree in the old section of the Zoo

I was finally able to ride the Bug Carousel which was a little hokey but a lot of fun. I could see why the kids like it so much. There were plenty of adults who were also enjoying the complimentary ride. There was ice sculpture demonstrations, comics performing and the all of the food outlets and gift shops were open to a somewhat limited crowd. We had timed tickets so the crowd was rather small for such a big events.

I got there by 6:15pm and the park display was open until 9:30pm. By the time I left for the evening at 9:00pm, the park crowd had really thinned out and there were very few people walking around. Still it was nice to walk around and feel I had the whole park to myself. It was getting cool that evening but still a nice night to walk around. I will have to remember this for next year.

The History of The Bronx Zoo:

In 1895, a group made up of members of the Boone and Crockett Club founded the New York Zoological Society with the purpose of founding the zoo. The architectural team of Heins & LaFarge designed the original permanent buildings as a series of Beaux-Arts pavilions grouped around the sea lion pool.

The old Reptile Building

The Rockefeller Fountain was bought to the park in 1902 from another part of the park. It had been built in 1872 and was moved to the front of the zoo by the Rockefeller family and is now surrounded by a series of gardens as you enter the park from the parking lot.

The Rockefeller Fountain

When the zoo opened, it featured 843 animals in twenty-two exhibitions around the park. The zoo has been home to many exotic animals many being the first of their kind in a zoo. At various times in its history, the park has featured Komodo Dragons, Andean flamingos and a Sumatran rhinoceros.

Today the park is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The main exhibitions are the Congo Gorilla Forest, Jungle World, the Wild Asia Monorail, Madagascar!, Tiger Mountain, the African Plains, the World of Birds, the World of Reptiles and the Zoo Center. There are also various restaurants and snack shops throughout the park (that were closed the evening I went there), a carousel and a playground.

The Tree Top Maze is a lot of fun to climb

(This information on the park comes from Zoo history and Wiki)

Bronx Museum of the Arts                                   1040 Grand Concourse                                        The Bronx, NY 10456

Bronx Museum of the Arts 1040 Grand Concourse The Bronx, NY 10456

The Bronx Museum of the Arts

1040 Grand Concourse

The Bronx, NY  10456

(718) 681-600

http://www.bronxmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday & Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 11:00am-6:00pm

Fee: Free

My review on Tripadvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d312012-Reviews-Bronx_Museum_of_the_Arts-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

 

I recently had some time to visit the Bronx Museum of the Arts when I was visiting Yankee Stadium recently for a football game. The museum is right down the road on the Grand Concourse. It is an impressive little museum.

I had wanted to see the exhibit “Art Versus Transit: 1977-1987” by artist Henry Chalfant who had recorded the graffiti art on the subway cars during the late 70’s into the early 1980’s. This is before the subway investing in the new subway cars that could be cleaned by hosing them off.

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“Art versus Transit: 1977-1987”

The art was interesting as it was an expression of the times just when Hip-Hop was becoming popular and the City was going through the financial crisis. The artist did a good job capturing the times. Not only do we see the art but the music and dance as well of the time.

Bronx Museum III.jpg

Subway Art

The other exhibition that I saw was “The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop” which displayed the artist’s interpreted that Gay Community and the beginnings of the AIDS crisis. It was an another interesting perspective of the times of New York City.

Mission and Background:

The Bronx Museum of the Arts is a contemporary art museum that connects diverse audience to the urban experience through its permanent collection, special exhibitions and education programs. Reflecting the borough’s dynamic communities. The Museum is the crossroad where artists, local residents, national and international visitors meet.

Today an internationally recognized cultural destination. The Bronx Museum of the Arts is committed to presenting new ideas and voices in a global context and making contemporary art a vital, relevant experience. For the past four decades, the Bronx Museum has presented hundreds of changing exhibitions featuring works by culturally diverse and under-represented artists from a spectrum of levels. Exhibition have investigated themes of special interest to the Bronx community while exploring the interplay between contemporary art and popular culture.

A permanent collection of over 2000 artworks in all visual media preserves and documents artists who are not typically represented within traditional museum collections by showcasing work by artists of African, Asian and Latin American ancestry, as well as artists for who the Bronx has been critical to their development. The Museum provides direct support to artists through Artist in the Marketplace, which nurtures the work of 35  emerging artists each year and providers professional development seminars culminating in a multi-site biennial exhibition and catalog.

The Museum’s education department empowers students from grades K-12 by offering a variety of programs that inspire academic proficiency visual literacy and critical thinking. Through the Group Visits Program, students are exposed to the Museum’s works during single-session tours lead by teaching artists. Through In-School Partnerships. Museum educators work with school teachers to encourage scholastic excellence through the application of arts education techniques in addition, the Museum’s Teen Council Program helps Bronx high-school students build applied arts and media skills as they create a variety of visual and text-based materials.

(Bronx Museum of the Arts Mission-Website)

History:

The Museum opened on May 11, 1971, in a partnership between the Bronx Council on the Arts, which was founded in 1961 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The opening coincided with a borough-wide “Bronx Day” event. The first exhibit consisted of 28 paintings from the Met’s collection. The Museum was first housed in the first floor rotunda of the Bronx County Courthouse. Additional galleries were located in the Bronx’s Co-op City, Bedford Park and Allerton neighborhoods. In its first 12 years of operation, the museum held over 350 exhibitions.

In 1982, the city purchased a vacant synagogue at 165th Street and the Grand Concourse as a new location for the museum. The new location opened to the public in May 1983 in conjunction with “Bronx Week”, which succeeded “Bronx Day”. The new space was inaugurated with an exhibition of twentieth artwork. It consisted of paintings, photographs and prints borrowed from the Met.

In February 2004, construction began on a $19 million expansion project that doubled the museum’s size 33.000 square feet. The expansion opened in October 2006. In 2008, a arts center was added to accommodate educational programs for local schoolchildren and their families. The Museum no longer charges fees since 2012.

Bronx Museum

The Bronx Museum of Art and its additions

The original design was by Simon B. Zelnick in 1961 and the extensions were designed by Castro-Blanco, Piscioneri & Feder in 1988 and a second addition in 2006 by Arquitectonica.

(The Bronx Museum WIKI)

 

 

Van Cortlandt House Museum in Van Cortlandt Park at Broadway & West 246 Street             Bronx, NY 10471

Van Cortlandt House Museum in Van Cortlandt Park at Broadway & West 246 Street Bronx, NY 10471

Van Cortlandt House Museum

Van Cortlandt Park at Broadway & West 246 Street

Bronx, NY  10471

(718) 543-3344

infor@vchm.org

Open: Tuesday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 11:00am-4:00pm

Admission: $5.00 for Adults/$3.00 for Seniors & Students/Children under 12 are free/General Admission is free on Wednesdays. Guided and group tours are available.

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d103501-Reviews-Van_Cortlandt_House-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

 

I visited the Van Cortlandt House Museum for the their Annual Christmas Decorated House event. The mansion was decorated for Christmas in the 1700’s so it was not overdone as it would during the Victorian times. The front of the house entrance was done with sprays of holly, mistletoe above the door and garlands of pine around the banister and fireplaces. The windows had candles in them and the dining room was set for Christmas luncheon in post-Revolutionary War era.

Van Cortlandt House VI.jpg

Van Cortlandt House for Christmas is Post-Revolutionary War

While most of the house is represented during the Dutch era with floors with no rugs, vintage furniture and decorations and the second and third floors are set for family entertainment. The first floor is set for entertaining for the holidays with the formal dining room, family palour and the formal living room for games and dancing. The formal dining room was the only room decorated post-Revolutionary War era.

van cortlandt mansion xmas ii

Van Cortlandt Mansion at Christmas 1800’s

Until the Victorian era, Christmas was a more religious affair with church service in the morning and luncheon in the afternoon. Things were formal and less elaborate. The acts of gift giving, sleigh rides, tree decorating and card giving came during the affluence of Queen Victoria’s reign in the post Civil-War era. This is the reason why the house is decorated so simply and elegantly.

Van Cortlandt House V.jpg

Van Cortlandt House elegant and understated at Christmas

In 2019, the site celebrated the holidays with a Sinterklaas, a Dutch Christmas celebration, a candlelight tour and a reading from Santa Claus. Please check their website for more information on future events.

History of the Van Cortlandt’s:

The Van Cortlandt House Museum, also known as Fredrick Van Cortlandt House or Van Cortlandt House, is the oldest surviving building in New York City’s borough of The Bronx. The Georgian style house, begun in 1748, was build of fieldstone by Fredrick Van Cortlandt (1699-1749) on the plantation that had been owned and farmed by his family since 1691. Fredrick intended the house to be a home for him and his wife, Francis Jay and daughters, Anna Maria, 14 and Eve, 13. His sons, Augustus, 21 and Fredrick, 19, were not intended to be permanent residents of the house. Sadly, Fredrick died before the new house was completed. In his will written in 1759, Fredrick left the house to his son, James Van Cortlandt (1726-1781) and a life time tenancy to his widow, Francis Jay Van Cortlandt (1701-1780).

Van Cortlandt House IV.jpg

The Van Cortlandt House gardens in the Summer

The Van Cortlandt’s were a mercantile family prominent in New York affairs. Fredrick’s father, Jacobus, established a thriving wheat growing and processing business on the plantation including a grist mill for processing the wheat into flour and a fleet of shallow draft boats to carry the flour from the south end his lake down Tibbet’s Brook and out to the Harlem and Hudson Rivers to market. During the Revolutionary War, the house was used by Rochambeau, Lafayette and Washington.

(From History of Van Cortlandt House and Museum)

In 1887, after 140 years of occupancy by the Van Cortlandt family and the community of plantation workers, the property was sold to the City of New York and made a public parkland. Before the house became a museum, it saw a variety of uses including as a temporary police precinct house and as a dormitory for ranch hands responsible for taking care of a herd of buffalo.

Van Cortlandt House III

Van Cortlandt House East Bedroom

By 1895, The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York expressed their interest in restoring the house as a museum open to the public. There was only one obstacle keeping the Colonial Dames from this important project, there was no provision in the New York State Law allowing the stewardship of a publicly owned building by a private organization. Undaunted, the first Society President, Mrs. Townsend, took the Society’s cause to Albany where on May 22, 1896 in the 199th session of the New York Legislature, Chapter 837 was approved by the governor and passed by a 3/5 majority to become law.

Van Cortlandt House II.jpg

The Van Cortlandt House guest bedroom

After nearly a year if repairs and restoration, Van Cortlandt House Museum was opened to great fanfare on May 25th of 1897. The original license agreement grained custody of the house to the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York for a period of 25 years at a ‘peppercorn’ rent of $1.00 per year. Although the Society no longer pays the city rent, they remain, to this day as dedicated to Van Cortlandt House as they were in 1896.

Van Cortland Park.jpg

 

Van Cortlandt Park in the Summer Months

In 1967, Van Cortlandt House was added to the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1967. The house was declared a New York City Landmark on March 15, 1966, recognizing the historic and architectural importance of both the exterior and interior.

(From the Van Cortlandt House Museum NSCDNY)

van cortland mansion xmas

Van Cortlandt House Museum at Christmas