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February 2007
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Archive for February, 2007

Bowne & Co. Stationers & Printers, A Place That Matters

bowne company stationersBowne & Co. Stationers & Printers at 211 Water St. in downtown Manhattan, part of the South St. Seaport Museum. The South Street Seaport Museum operates Bowne & Co. as an exhibit and working retail store that recreates a late 19th century printing shop. At one time, 800 such shops crowded the blocks stretching from Bowne’s to “Publisher’s Row” near City Hall. Bowne’s master printer and curator Robert Warner can tell you how the terms “upper and lower case” originated. He can also make you custom stationary, invitations, and more, using authentic, hand-operated presses. Founded in 1775, the original Bowne & Co. is today an international printing company, and the oldest existing company to operate under its original name in NYC. The 1975 recreation of Bowne & Co. at 211 Water St. marked the company’s bicentennial, and was made possible by the creation of the South St. Seaport Museum in 1967. Its building once housed a cast iron parlor stove store, so the structure can bear the weight of the heavy presses and type. Thanks to the designation of a South St. Seaport Historic District in 1977, Bowne’s is surrounded by buildings that preserve a glimpse of the 19th century city. Treat yourself to a visit to Bowne’s, open Wed.-Sun., 10am-5pm. Or sign up with South St. Seaport Museum for a group tour.

MAS Weighs in on 125th Street Rezoning

apollo theater new york cityIn response to the city’s effort to spur new development along 125th Street in Manhattan, from Second Avenue to Broadway, the MAS has submitted comments on the scope for the required environmental review. The city’s rezoning proposal aims to strengthen the street’s identity as an entertainment and arts district, and encourage the development of affordable housing — goals that the MAS supports strongly. Click here to read more about the Department of City Planning’s plan for 125th Street. Continue Reading>>

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto at St. Lucy’s Church, A Place That Matters

our lady of the lourdes grotto st lucys church new yorkOur Lady of Lourdes Grotto at St. Lucy’s Church, nominated by Susan Lally. You can visit Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto at 833 Mace Ave., in the Bronxdale neighborhood of the Bronx. It’s an arresting 30′ high stone structure, constructed in 1939 at the request of Monsignor Pasquale Lombardo who wanted to offer his parishioners a close-to-home replica of the famous grotto in Lourdes, France. Waters reputed to have healing powers fall from a small waterfall within the grotto, and still, after 68 years, continue to draw the faithful. Continue Reading>>

Illegal, Obnoxious and Becoming Extinct

illegal advertising signage new york city buildingHave you noticed that advertising on sidewalk construction sheds, hawking everything from beer to banks to cell phones, has started to disappear? Advertising signs on sidewalk sheds have always been illegal, and now the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) is cracking down on these brazen violations of the law. Continue Reading>>

Snug Harbor Cultural Center, A Place That Matters

snug harbor cultural center staten island frontSnug Harbor Cultural Center at 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, nominated by Carolyn Clark. In an insane world, there is a Snug Harbor. Visit the lovely grounds on a summer afternoon, eat at the outside café, walk through the Chinese Scholar’s Garden, and tour the well-curated exhibits in magnificent “Building C,” to see for yourself. snug harbor historic illustration staten islandIt all began with Sailors’ Snug Harbor–one of the city’s great charity stories. An 18th-century New Yorker, Robert Randall, bequeathed farmland he owned in Manhattan (located northeast of the future Washington Sq.) for a “Sailor’s Snug Harbor”–a hospital and rest home for aged sailors. By the time the 1801 bequest could be used, the city had expanded northward, and Randall’s land was so valuable that the trustees opted to use it for income and to locate the sailors’ home elsewhere. They chose 130 acres in Staten Island and the first “aged, decrepit & worn out sailors” moved there in 1833. Skip forward about 130 years and Sailor’s Snug Harbor became the site of a fascinating preservation story, starring the new Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Municipal Art Society, and many others. In the end, several building exteriors were designated as landmarks in 1965 (interior designations came later), and the Harbor sold 13 acres and the principal buildings to the City of New York. The last sailors left in 1976. It’s easy to reach Sung Harbor Cultural Center by public transit. Take the Staten Island Ferry, follow the crowd upon exit to the well-signed bus terminal. The “S40” bus will drive you down Richmond Terrace about 10-15 min. to the front entrance. Look for the black metal fence on the left side of the road and the sudden appearance of open space, and you’re there.

The Museum of Chinese in the Americas, A Place That Matters

museum of chinese in the americas place matters new york cityThe Museum of Chinese in the Americas (MoCA) at 70 Mulberry Street in Manhattan, was founded in 1980 as the New York Chinatown History Project. In 1984 the small staff moved into their current second-floor digs in the former P.S. 23, at the corner of Mulberry and Bayard. At the end of 2007, a now much larger staff hopes to move into their newly renovated, Maya-Lin designed museum at 211-215 Centre Street, between Grand and Canal. Continue Reading>>

MAS position on 125th Street Rezoning

Documents regarding MAS’s position on the 125th Street Rezoning Plan. Testimony Before the City Planning Commission Regarding the Rezoning of 125th Street, January 30, 2008 Continue Reading>>

Great Summertime Spots, Places That Matter

eddies sweet shopEddie’s Sweet Shop, 105-29 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills, Qns., 718-520-8514: “Old-fashioned ice cream soda fountain–still looks like the original, with great ice cream, too,” said one nominator. Bruce Rosen agrees: “It’s one of those places that makes its own, as an ice cream parlor is supposed to do!” Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, Qns: 718-347-3276, At 47 acres, this is the city’s largest remaining farm (family owned from 1697-1926), and today is part farm, part museum. Its “Jacob Adriance Farmhouse” is also a NYC landmark. The farm is open to the public and there’s a lot going on, so go to their website for details. andrew green memorialAndrew Haswell Green Memorial Bench and Trees in Central Park: “Andrew Haswell Green was a 19th century urban planner, reformer and preservationist who, in a fifty-year civic career that is often compared to that of Robert Moses, transformed Gotham into a world-class city,” wrote Manhattan Borough Historian Michael Miscione when he nominated this place. Read more about Green and the site on the PlaceExplorer, and be sure to print out Michael’s directions since the bench is infuriatingly hard to find, he says. Camperdown Elm Tree in Prospect Park: On your next visit to the park, enter at Lincoln Rd., and near the boat house, look for this prized tree, says our nominator. It’s a “picturesque weatherbeaten specimen,” tiny, looking like an “oversized bonsai.” This elm was planted in 1872, and like every other Camperdown Elm in the world, is from the original cutting made in about 1835 from a mutant branch in Scotland. Ruby’s Bar, 1213 Riegelmann Boardwalk, Coney Island, Brklyn, 718-372-9079: Pat De Angelis writes that “stepping into Ruby’s from the Boardwalk is a bit like stepping into a cave where you can meet the past and present life of Coney Island. The walls are full of photos of days gone by, and offer a view of history while you sit with a drink or a Coney Island meal (hot dog, corn, fries). The bar, the tables, the old sofa in the back by the juke box, are worn with wear by many, many folks.”

The Survivor Staircase at Ground Zero, A Place that Matters

survivors stairway lower manhattan historic preservation new york cityThe “Survivor Staircase,” near the intersection of Vesey and Church streets in Manhattan, is a 20-foot chunk of ruined staircase and all that’s left of the outside stairs that once led from the World Trade Center Plaza to Vesey Street. When the towers were attacked on September 11th, many people used this route to escape to the street. For some, the stairs ensured survival. Continue Reading>>