Staten Island September 11 Memorial ~ NY

Words from StatenIslandUSA.com. Photographs are my own from a trip taken a few weeks ago.

Staten Island was one of the hardest hit communities on 9/11, losing more than 270 loved
ones in the terrorist attacks on New York City that day. As a result, Staten Island needed
its own memorial, a place for the loved ones of the victims to mourn and reflect, and a
place for all visitors to remember those who lost their lives on that tragic day.

From Staten Island, looking towards the World Trade Centre site in Manhattan

Staten Island ferry operates services between Manhattan and Staten island. In the background you can see Brooklyn.

Looking towards New Jersey

Borough President Molinaro made the creation of a Staten Island 9/11 Memorial one of
his top priorities… A Memorial Advisory Committee selected Masayuki Sono’s
“Postcards” from nearly 200 submissions. The solemn, yet uplifting design will feature
two thin structures resembling postcards, perhaps sent to lost loved ones. From afar, they
appear to be outstretched wings or a flower about to blossom.

In order to honor the individual lives lost, part of Mr. Sono’s design provides that each
Staten Island victim be honored with a 9”x11” granite plaque that will bear their name,
birth date and place of work on September 11, 2001 as well as their profile in silhouette.

The Staten Island 9/11 Memorial is located along the North Shore Waterfront Esplanade adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and the Richmond County Ballpark at St. George. The site provides panoramic views of New York Harbor, Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

Manhattan, right; New Jersey, left

The Other Little Italy ~ The Bronx, NYC

Downtown Manhattan’s Little Italy needs no introduction; Bronx’s Little Italy may require a little more than a nudge.

Up in the 180′s, around 186th Street, this Little Italy spans four blocks along intersecting Arthur Avenue*. Here, it’s all about the butcher, the baker, the elaborate cake maker. The vibe is more old school, less tourist. It’s not really a neighbourhood, more so a preservation of traditional Italian gastronomy. Storefronts display hunks of hanging meats, rows of crusty freshly baked loaves, and rectangular cakes decorated a la Gaudi. There’s a feeling of store owners holding on tight to some semblance of their ancestral authenticity.

Though today was a slow day in this part of the Bronx, the restaurant’s waiter told us that it’s usually busy, especially when there’s a game on at Yankee stadium… or when parents are in town, visiting their kids studying at nearby Fordham University (and helping pay for those pricey grocery bills).

Oh, and if you’re a cigar aficionado, or eggplant parmigiano lover, head to Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Here’s a glimpse of today.

Always end with something sweet…

*If traveling by subway: Take the #4 or D train to Fordham Road and take the No. 12 bus heading east. OR, Take the #2 or #5 train to Pelham Parkway then #12 bus heading west

In Union Square ~ New York City

Saturday. Crossing 14th Street, headed north. Broadway to the left, Park Avenue to the right. The honk of yellow cabs bleeping all round; photographing construction workers balancing atop complicated looking scaffolding.

Directly ahead, along the western side of the Park, buzzes the nucleus of Union Square – the local Greenmarket. Walking through the hubbub: a hodgepodge of colours, sights, and smells swirls in, under, and around the white tent-topped stalls. Inhaling the scent of fresh rosemary and basil; marveling at the bright reds, yellows, and greens of odd shaped heirloom tomatoes; brightening at the sight of glorious sunflowers; navigating a greens-filled grocery bag clutching crowd, and wondering how anyone could crave a hot roasted corn on the cob in this 85% humidity, 85 degree summer weather.

Finally, exiting the other side, where things get back to normal. Watching mini golf being played on the sidewalk; dodging those noisy yellow cabs; spotting giant red balloons. That’s pretty normal for NYC, right?

Enjoy!

Blue Skies at Rockaway Beach ~ Queens, New York

Located about 40 minutes away from Williamsburg, Brooklyn – a car drive that includes a couple of turns and two long stretches of road – lies Rockaway Beach in the borough of Queens. This is the largest urban beach in America; its wide stretches of sand and dunes extend along a peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean.

Large apartment complexes and new residential developments line the Shore Front Parkway, along with a few green spaces and handball courts. From one of the only waterfront eating spots along the parallel Ocean Promenade Walkway, your meal choices start with fish n chip fare, and end with Oreo Cookie Italian Ice for dessert. Throw in a couple of margaritas from the adjoining Sand Bar, and enjoy the simple pleasure of watching life pass by; frequently interrupted by the sight of planes overhead, either taking off from, or approaching to land in, nearby JFK airport.

John Lennon Inspired ~ Central Park, NYC

The more I see, the less I know for sure. ~ John Lennon

This weekend, I visited Strawberry Fields. Planted by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon, the space is a tourist draw during summer especially. Despite the camera yielding crowds, there’s a sense of calm, stillness, and contemplation around the Imagine mosaic dedication.

I haven’t experienced anything that comes close to the tragedy that befell Colorado, but along with so many others, I felt its shocking reverberations. My heart goes out to all those affected.

An open heart emits the energy that revitalises the violent, negative energy that is circling the planet. ~ Panditji

Dakota Apartments details.

This is where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived together, until December 8, 1980.

The Dakota was designed by Henry Hardenbergh, who also designed the Plaza Hotel.

Located at the 72nd Street subway, The Dakota is located across the road from Central Park.

Imagine all of us living in peace, it’s too beautiful to just be a dream. ~John Lennon

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination. ~John Lennon

Dreamy Gardenscapes in Alphabet City ~ East Village, NYC

With temperatures nearing 100F in Manhattan today, a pleasant stroll in the East Village soon turned into a sweaty saunter. Perhaps the only neighbourhood with such a good amount of community gardens, I welcomed them as regular rest stops as I made my way along Avenues A, B, and C.

After an entertaining morning (more on that in a later post), my final pit stop at the 9th Street Community Garden Park was the perfect end note. So well tended, so well cared for – it was an escape from the motion filled sun drenched streets.

The 9th Street Community Garden Park is one of the larger community gardens that I have come across. Walking along its haphazard brick- and rock paved pathways, unless I looked through a part of the steel fence not covered in green, I hardly noticed I was surrounded by busy streets. Instead, I felt still; I even treaded softly from fear of making too much noise. I heard the chirp of birds, photographed blooms, followed bees with my lens, while cooling down in the shade of overhanging vines and canopy provided by a 35 year old giant willow tree. Except for a few others – so silent, they startled me; the flora and the fauna, I felt as if I had the space to myself.

It was as if I has stumbled into a dream when I entered this lot of green. It was such a contrast to the heat of the day, and the chaos of the streets. The East Village is probably one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in New York – I’ve read it has changed dramatically over the years, so I can’t imagine what it was like way back when. Today, it’s gritty and it’s glam; it caters to the  middle class, and the homeless; it’s streets are strewn with trash, yet they surprise you by offering a few beautiful community gardens to enjoy.

Enjoy the peek inside my favourite park so far.

Located on the corner of 9th Street and Avenue C, it’s hard to think of this garden having been anything but a beautiful green space. Prior to 1978, it was a dreary corner lot in an unsafe part of the East Village.

In the late seventies, the members who transformed it were from the immediate neighborhood. Though as the city changed, so did the membership. Today, the garden is sponsored by a handful of members – who pay $15 a year, as well as by NY’s Green Thumb organisation. The green space faces a well-trodden street lined with delis, restaurants, and laundromats.

9th Street Community Garden is so diverse in its plantings – on one side you might see a bush of voluminous hydrangeas; on the other – mini tomatoes, yet to turn red. I read that there’s a beehive in the garden, and its bee keeper/owner sells honey at the 14 Street Union Square Market. I noticed the bees, but didn’t see the beehive.

Quirk factors abound. From the furnishings -there’s plenty of seating, to the more unexpected finds.

I nearly missed this well camouflaged rabbit in between purple daisies. I was so distracted; I was trying to zoom in on, and photograph, this busy bee.

When the garden began, members expanded and enriched the available land, gaining additional lots through the condemnation of and the razing of adjacent buildings.* It now encompasses one acre.

Lush vines overflow and evoke that sense of otherwordliness. A mix of moonflower, honeysuckle and bittersweet – they were planted over two decades ago.

The beauty of the community gardens is multifold. Firstly, it unites a diverse neighbourhood through mutual collaboration of what looks to me like, a labour of love.

Secondly, sharing the garden with the wider community is such a generous act. It’s what makes a neighbourhood so much more appealing and inviting. Apart for giving someone like me a pleasant respite from the heat, such spaces are used for theatre productions, music events, private parties, school outings, or simply as a place to gather with friends. Thirdly, the garden gives members a place to exercise sustainable living. Especially in a part of NY that has such a varied population (East Village is a mix of low and mid income levels), spaces like this support a healthier way of life.

The community garden is unlikely to expand any further. I read that when the Green Thumb Organisation was transferred from the Dept of Parks and Recreation to Dept of Housing Preservation and Development, a number of the East Village community gardens were destroyed to make way for low income housing.

I cannot find any information about the future of 9th Street Community Garden Park. For now, their objective is to garner more community interest and involvement.

If you’re in this part of NY, I encourage you to visit one of the gardens. They’re so accessible that they’re hardly secret… yet when you’re there, you feel like you’re the only one.

*http://www.earthcelebrations.com/gardens/gardens.html

A Sunday in West-Ho-Burg ~ NYC

Summer in New York.

It’s when life takes on a slower pace. Manhattan wakes up later. On Sundays, the streets are uncomplicated and easy to navigate given the lack of foot and car traffic. This is in large part due to the island’s residents escaping the heat of the concrete in favour of shorelines in far-flung Jersey Shore, Rockaway Beach, or The Hamptons.

Summer – a perfect time to appreciate the city. Starting with breakfast in the West Village, meandering in the quieter and more industrial parts of Soho, then cooling down in my home ‘hood of Williamsburg. This is what Sundays are all about.

Sunday, summery Sunday. My pictorial of New York, today. Enjoy!

Caffe Reggio on MacDougal Street. An institution since 1927 – apparently the first cafe in the US to serve a cappuccino.

Sidewalk breakfast dining…

Tableside cab spotting, pop art style

Traditional is always good when it comes to breakfast

Dave Chappelle, Gary Shandling, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Robin Williams… they’ve all got this place in common.

Not a bead of sweat in sight.

Waiting for the late rising brunchers.

Sunday news, sidewalk style. By the way, Alec Baldwin got married.

The streets of Soho decorated with pasteups and fire escapes.

One World Trade Centre – its construction is visible from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Central Park, Manhattan. Seen here from Soho, at 1,776 feet, it will be America’s tallest building.

Graffiti isn’t exclusive to Manhattan’s walls.

A true delight in summer: blend a few cups of watermelon, add a squeeze of lime… maybe a splash of vodka. This is the season’s easiest cocktail to make – effortless, and one of the most delicious!

Historical sticker street art.

My husband took this photo. He thinks it’s a cool angled shot – I feel it is a little misaligned. What do you think?

Tourist shops of New York can be so rude sometimes, but I love them anyway. Only NYC could get away with such shenanigans.

Old-school.

The coffee bean aroma of the Porto Rico Importing Company can be smelt stores away.

I wish I lived on Minetta Lane. It is perhaps NYC’s quietest street – but so central!

What? Exactly.

Teary street art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

July 1: Happy Canada Day….

The (above) swimwear and briefs brought to you courtesy of:

Attacked by a friendly pet.

See, very friendly, pawed out, and perhaps a little thirsty.

The Empire State Building, freeze framed by Strawberry, Ginger, and Rhubarb pops.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. This is what life is all about.