Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Occupy London

The Occupy London encampment that snaked around the courtyard of St. Paul's Cathedral was cleared out by police this morning.  Protesters had been sleeping there since October.  Here are photographs from last week:

Meanwhile, the large Occupy London Finsbury Square camp, also active since October, continues to exist without imminent eviction procedures.  Also from a week ago:

On Sixth

As I was walking along Sixth Avenue yesterday, just across from the Waverly diner, a patch of green caught my eye.  Looking more carefully,  I saw him, waiting in the window of an upper floor.  A solitary leprechaun (classic variety), quietly biding his time. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Watts Memorial

"The character of a nation as a people of great deeds is one, it appears to me, that should not be lost sight of. It must surely be a matter of regret when names worthy to be remembered and stories stimulating and instructive are allowed to be forgotten.

It is not too much to say that the history of Her Majesty's reign would gain a lustre were the nation to erect a monument, say, here in London, to record the names of these likely to be forgotten heroes. I cannot but believe a general response would be made to such a suggestion, and intelligent consideration and artistic power might combine to make London richer by a work that is beautiful, and our nation richer by a record that is infinitely honourable.

The material prosperity of a nation is not an abiding possession; the deeds of its people are."

The 19th century artist G.F. Watts believed that the nation needed monuments not only for the famous, but also for those ordinary citizens whose acts of selfless bravery went unrecognized. As no authorities supported his ideas, he undertook the creation of his own memorial. The Watts's Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, consisting of a long loggia, and four hand-painted, inscribed tiles, was unveiled in 1900. Watts died in 1904, but his wife Mary continued the project. By the late 1930s, when Mary died, 52 of a projected 120 tiles had been completed. In 2007, the name of Leigh Pitt, who died saving a drowning child, was added to the memorial. This was the first new tile added in 78 years.

Postman Park, is a quiet, tucked away sort of place. It's on King Edward St., not far from St. Paul's Cathedral. In earlier years the park was close to the head offices of the General Post Office. Hence the name. The memorial itself is now adjacent to a modern housing block. You will find the park almost deserted, & be free to luxuriate alone in its grand, democratic melancholy.


Walking Home the Other Night (Walkers in the City)
Manganaro's Closes after 121 years in business (Jeremiah's Vanishing New York)

Fire Above Sleepy's (Fifth & 12th)

Around 5:45 p.m. this evening.  There was plenty of smoke and some flames evident at a top floor window, but the fire department got things under control quickly.  I remember a big blaze at this building many years ago (fifteen or so years back?), but this one, thankfully, was much less serious.

Pensions Melting Like the Polar Ice Caps

This message was seen on the wall of Coram's Fields in Bloomsbury, and was just one of many political statements I saw written on buildings around the city.

Until the 1920s the Fields, now a children's playground and youth center, was the site of The Foundling Hospital, founded by former sea captain Thomas Coram in 1739, to shelter destitute and abandoned children.  Handel & Hogarth were heavily involved in the hospital's affairs, and acted as governors.

The site was then known as Lamb's Conduit Field, and Lamb's Conduit Street, and the Lamb pub can still be found just across the road.  The Foundling Hospital Museum is adjacent to the Fields, on Brunswick Square.  Among the artefacts you can see there, there's a sad collection of tokens left behind by mothers for their infants to remember them by.

If you want to go to inside Coram's Fields, you'll need to be accompanied by a child.  I didn't happen to have one handy while I was staying near here.  My room actually overlooked the grounds, so this was tantalizing to say the least.

Back at the Station

Ah yes.  Here's the sign for five spaces for lease at the new-old Fourth Avenue station entrance.  I'd like to see the S&P run news booth back, and a simple coffee shop.  What else should go there?  A tamale place, like the late Sandy's on Fifth, or the one that used to be a block south of here on Fourth, would be great.  I'm not hopeful though. 

Here's are the new turnstiles,

and a vision of the future.

Here's the entrance from outside.  I'm surprised the MTA hasn't removed the old deco subway sign above the doors, liked they did with the others on the side streets.  This one's in worse shape, so I don't know if they'll fix it up or not. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012


“My mother groaned, my father wept,
into the dangerous world I leapt.”

The house in Soho where William Blake was born no longer exists.  In its place is the London headquarters for the advertising company BDA, whose clients include Red Bull, Sony & GE. 

Blake's resting place, Bunhill Fields, in Shoreditch, is a kinder spot.  A cemetery dating back to the seventeenth century, it is known for the number of Dissenters buried there. The final burial at Bunhill was in 1854, and the grounds became a public park in 1869.  Blake's stone marks an area rather than a precise site, but he is close neighbour to Daniel Defoe.

Over the next week or so, I'll sort through my photographs, and post a few entries about places I visited in London and Oxford. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Some Local Excitement I Missed While Away

Footage of a Park Slope fashion show at Fifth & 9th, from 1979 (Gothamist)

The Second Avenue bear attack of 1932 (Lost City)

And another, 70s related news item close to home. This week the Fourth Avenue station's eastern entrance was finally re-opened after a forty year closure (NY Post) .  I've been eagerly awaiting this development.  It will shave at least a couple of minutes off my daily commute, and save me the misery of Fourth Ave. rush-hour traffic.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Everything Must Go (Essex at Grand/Canal)

Police News, February 14, 1878


14 February 1878
Some Well Deserved Fines - The Hamilton Ferry Suicide.
The Board of Police and Excise disposed today of the usual batch of
policemen charged with violating rules.
They fined -
Patrolman Edward HOLMES, of the Fifth Precinct, five days’ pay for being
intoxicated in the street in uniform at 9am.
Patrolman Edward HENNESSEY, Fifth Precinct, five days’ pay for leaving
the station house after permission to do so had been refused.
Bridge Keepers William ROACH & John FITZGERALD two days each for
failing to clean the snow off the Hamilton avenue bridge.
In the case of Sergeant WALSH & Patrolman John MALONEY of the Third Precinct,
charged with failing to report the suicide of the 4th inst, on the Hamilton
Ferry, the Board decided that the excuse of the officers that they could
not authenticate the information given them to be good.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Later This Week

One More Sunset is going on holiday in a few days.  My preparations are a bit on the casual side: getting out the London street map, re-reading some of Peter Ackroyd's London: The Biography & Hawksmoor, & watching British Film Institute clips.  Over the weekend I got a decent camera case & a couple of spare memory cards.  The night before I leave I'll gather up the passports, & fling some clothes & two or three books in a suitcase.  I'll be staying right by Coram Fields & the Foundling Museum, a perfect base for walking, & later in the trip will head to Oxford. I'll be trying to put up a few posts while I'm away, but the blog will probably be even more haphazard than usual.  I'll post a ton of pictures when I get back.

Tax Office, Grand Street

"Where liberty is, there is my country." (Benjamin Franklin)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Walking Across Canal

Yesterday was filled with errands.  By late afternoon my temper was frayed, & it felt like the whole day was wasted.  A walk along Canal soon picked up the spirits.

Now that's a sign!

Streets that are neither sleek nor anonymous.  Streets without chains.

The soft light of dusk over the sports track.

A colorful, & intriguing nude.

Closed by this time of day but not shut for good yet.  A perfect luncheonette.

And who doesn't love a  2012, fat-cheeked baby/Mickey combo? 

Friday, February 10, 2012

New Food on Fourth

I'd been wondering about the papered up windows at Fourth & 10th,  previously home to law offices.  Today Brownstoner reports that a coffee shop with a "Jamaican flavor" will be opening up there.  It will be called, rather unimaginatively, Slope Cafe.  Some good Jamaican food would be nice.

Bagel Sign

On 36th Avenue, at the borders of Astoria & Long Island City, this New Yorker Bagels sign has a gracious, looping font.  Perhaps it was once an offshoot of, or precursor to, the wholesale New Yorker Bagel business on 12th Street, LIC.  The 12th Street company has been in business since '81.  The sign on 36th is a fine one, but the awnings around it have reduced its charm, and the bagels are less of a draw these days than standard deli & Mexican food.