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NASA Meets The Big Apple – Space Shuttles – Facts, Falsehoods & Trivia

28 Apr

FACT: The Space Shuttle Enterprise is now in NYC.

She flew along The North River (aka The Hudson River) yesterday morning, which I witnessed with my very own eyes.

FACT: Pier 84 was crowded with excited spectators.

FACT: We eagerly stared down river, watching for first sight.

FALSEHOOD: Someone yelled “You’re all looking the wrong way!” and everyone turned and gazed to the North.

FACT: We had Twitter. We knew Enterprise was coming from the South, from the Statue of Liberty.

FACT: We were right! Here’s my first sighting! What did those birds think?

TRIVIA: One of my favorite books as a itty bitty girl was “Are You My Mother?” – where a baby bird thought all things were its mother.

FALSEHOOD: Maybe those birds thought Enterprise was their mother – nah!

FACT: Somehow mounted onto a giant 747 jumbo jet, the Enterprise got closer and closer – flying low and slow.

Overhead the two crafts were a truly awesome sight.

FACT: the amazing duo headed North

towards the George Washington Bridge, then finally out of sight.

FACT: Until they flew back south past us again, then on their way to JFK Airport.

“Welcome to New York, and thanks for the show.”

TRIVIA: Completed in 1976, Enterprise was designed as a prototype test vehicle. Test pilots demonstrated that it could fly and land in the atmosphere like airplanes, but the Enterprise never flew in space.

TRIVIA: The shuttle was originally to be named the Constitution, but a write-in campaign by fans of the television series “Star Trek” persuaded officials to rename it in honor of the show’s main starship.

TRIVIA: There have been 6 Shuttles:

1976 – Enterprise – now to be displayed in NYC at the Intrepid Museum.

1981 – Columbia – disintegrated during re-entry 2003; all 7 crew members died.

1983 – Challenger – disintegrated 73 seconds after launch 1986; all 7 crew members died.

1984 – Discovery – now to be displayed at the The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM)’s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport).

1985 – Atlantis – now to be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

1992 – Endeavour – now to be displayed at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California.

TRIVIA: NASA announced it would transfer space-worthy orbiters to education institutions or museums at the conclusion of the Space Shuttle program. Each museum or institution is responsible for covering theUS$28.8 million cost of preparing and transporting each vehicle for display. Twenty museums from across the country submitted proposals for receiving one of the retired orbiters.

TRIVIA: NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, after 30 years of service.

What a thrill it’s been. I can’t wait until The Enterprise is floated by barge on the Hudson River and lifted by cranes onto the Intrepid.

From the Intrepid website:

In June, Enterprise will then be craned onto the flight deck and our new Space Shuttle Pavilion will be built around her, with an expected public opening in mid July.”

Welcome to New York, and thanks for the show!!




Visiting The Brooklyn Navy Yard – And A Bit Of Hubby’s Family Lore.

20 Feb

A few weeks ago, Hubby and I visited The Brooklyn Navy Yard. It was decommissioned in 1966, and has been closed to the public since then. It has recently been turned into private business spaces and just a few months ago opened a museum on the grounds.

Wikipedia says:

The Yard has become an area of private manufacturing and commercial activity. Today, more than 200 businesses operate at the Yard and employee approximately 5,000 people. Steiner Studios is one of the yard’s more prominent tenants with one of the largest production studios outside of Los Angeles. Many artists also lease space and have established an association called Brooklyn Navy Yard Arts. In November 2011, Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92, a museum dedicated to the yard’s history and future, opened its doors.”

Some history, as told on the museum’s website:

Established in 1801 as one of the nation’s first five naval shipyards, over 165 years the Yard developed into the nation’s premiere naval industrial facility.”

Wikipedia tells us:

At its peak, during World War II, the yard employed 70,000 people, 24 hours a day.”

Hubby has been eager to visit. His Father worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for 20 years – from after World War II to when it closed.

We took the subway to Brooklyn, and walked to The Yard. We passed what was known as Admiral’s Row (where the Admirals lived) – now a row of falling down, ramshackle, overgrown shells of buildings

and then entered the museum area – Building 92.

The museum is FREE (open Wednesday – Sunday: 12 pm – 6 pm) and they have a nice little cafe (we had the BEST tomato soup and grilled cheese paninis) and we also had made reservations to take the bus tour of the grounds – highly recommended!

Here’s a view of some of the grounds from the cafe balcony:

and here is a view of a drydock and the East River:

Here’s a drydock:

We learned on the tour how the ships came into the drydocks for repairs, and how – as ships became larger – the Navy Yard started to become unusable as the ships could no longer pass under the Brooklyn Bridge (!).

We had a GREAT time, and learned a lot! The 1-hour tour cost $18/per person – next time we want to take the 2-hour tour!!

If you want to go to The Brooklyn Navy Yard via subway, here are the directions from their website:

Take A or C train to High Street/Brooklyn Bridge:

Exit on Adams Street. Either transfer to the B69 to Cumberland Street and Flushing Avenue or  walk down Sands Street to Navy Street and make a right on Navy Street. Take Navy Street to Flushing Avenue and make a left. Continue on Flushing and you will arrive at Building 92 on your left hand side. Total walk is about 20 minutes.

A week or so after our visit to the Navy Yard, we visited Hubby’s Mom. She showed us about 60 photographs and other paperwork from the Navy Yard that Hubby’s Father had accumulated during his 20 years there.

Here’s a shot from 1952, of a ship being built:

And here is Hubby’s Father in 1955 (in the center) getting a check reward for outstanding attendance:

Hubby’s Father worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for 20 years. He almost never took any vacation time (hence the reward) – his plan was to accrue his vacation time and then retire – getting a year’s worth of vacation time in additional pay.

But there was a problem.

The Yard was decommissioned before he retired.  😦

Hubby is thinking of donating the batch of photos to the museum.

Maybe they’ll name a wing of the museum after Hubby’s Father!

Hubby’s Father deserves no less!! No vacation time in 20 years warrants a wing, in my mind!

We’ll let you know what happens…



Sweet And Low

5 Feb

Yesterday Hubby and I went on a tour of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is another post for another day.

Our tour guide was David from Urban Oyster, and he really knows his stuff! We learned many interesting things, but here’s one story that really stayed with me.

It’s all about Sweet’n Low.

There was this fellow, named Benjamin Eisenstadt. (You can read his obituary from the April 10, 1966 New York Times here.) And our tour guide David told us Ben’s story, as such:

Ben owned a cafeteria that was located across the street from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The cafeteria did quite well until the Yard slowed production after World War II ended.

Always thinking, Ben began to puzzle over his messy sugar bowls. “Why” he thought, “doesn’t someone invent individual sugar packets?” So, he proceeded to do just that. He used tea bag filling machinery and converted it to sugar packet filling machinery.

Very pleased with his results, he went to the Bigwigs at Domino Sugar, and presented his idea. They told him they needed a couple of weeks to think it over, before buying into his idea.

When Ben met with them a couple of weeks later, the Bigwigs at Domino Sugar told him they did not need to buy his invention, because they had just produced their own sugar packing machine.

Ben hadn’t patented his idea, so Domino stole his idea and ran with it.

Ben was pissed! So, to retaliate against Domino, he invented the powdered saccharin sweetener which he named Sweet’n Low, named after a popular song. (That’s why there are musical references on the packaging.)

The New York Times doesn’t mention the rivalry between Benjamin Eisenstadt and Domino Sugar; neither does the Wikipedia entry.

So, maybe I’m telling you an Urban Legend.

But I don’t think so.

Ben’s distribution company, Cumberland Packing Corporation, is still located across the street from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, in the same building that used to be the cafeteria. I took this picture of the building’s sign.

The New York Times obituary says “With sales of about $100 million a year, the company, which employs 400 people, turns out 50 million Sweet ‘N Low packets a day in what used to be a cafeteria.”


The moral of this story?

Well, you decide.



Eagerly Awaiting Season 2 Of “Downton Abbey” – Or, Hubby Is So Annoying!

5 Jan

Here in America, the eagerly-awaited season 2 of the PBS show “Downton Abbey” premiers this Sunday, January 8, 2012.

Hubby had thoroughly enjoyed season 1, watching it as it aired and raving to me constantly about it.

“Why don’t you blog about it?” he asked me on numerous occasions.

“Why would I blog about a TV show that I’ve never watched, and know nothing about?” I would respond.

Hubby know that I love the time period that the show recreates.

I have been obtaining and scanning family photos from the 19-teens and 1920s and LOVING them. Ah, the costumes…

Here’s my Grandmother TG, a warmly snug young girl in about 1915:

And, here’s my other Grandmother with her sister – two lovely flappers – sometime in the 1920s:

Hubby knows that I love this era. He knew that I would love the TV show.

Still, somehow I resisted him.

My friend Doug was also raving about “Downton Abbey”. “Those costumes!” he sighed.

My ears perked up somewhat.

Hubby asked Santa for season 1 on DVD. Santa delivered.

One day, during the holiday break, I saw that DVD box just sitting on the table.

I decided to watch the first episode.

I watched the entire season in one day.

I was hooked.

“Compulsively watchable from the get-go” – I’ll say!

And now, Hubby and I both – along with most of America it seems, are eagerly awaiting season 2, Sunday night.

Was I the last to succumb to this marvelous show?

Wikipedia tells us that “in September 2011, the show entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the ‘most critically acclaimed television show’ for the year, becoming the first British show to win the award. It beat American shows “Mad Men” and “Modern Family” to the title.”

Hubby is SO annoying!

But I must concede, he is also often quite right.

I love the scenery, the actors, the costumes.

(In my mind’s eye however, I still see Maggie Smith in her robes fighting the Dark Forces!)

In “Downton Abbey” – Dame Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess Of Grantham – is of course amazing. And, often dressed in incredible purple hats and dresses.

“Ah, the costumes!” I sigh.

Wasn’t I pleased to see a gift shop on the “Downton Abbey” website!

Not only do they have for sale DVDs and books, but also jewelry and accessories.

If you love this kind of look – you can purchase 1920-era necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

I love this luxuriously long pearl necklace and matching diamante earring set:

Or, how about this lovely antique jet glass bracelet and earring set:

Hubby would certainly be quite dashing in this herringbone cap:

I adore this plum hat:

My Grandmother TG would have loved “Downton Abbey”.

She would have fit right in!

Thank you, Hubby. How did I ever resist you?



The Grid That Became New York City – At The Museum Of The City Of New York

4 Jan

The Museum Of The City Of New York currently has yet another fascinating exhibit about the history of this great city.

The exhibit is called The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011 and it celebrates the 200th anniversary of the planning of the street grid of Manhattan.

From their website:

Featuring an original hand-drawn map of New York’s planned streets and avenues prepared by the Commission in 1811, as well as other rare historic maps, photographs and prints of the evolution of the city’s streets, and original manuscripts and publications that document the city’s physical growth, the exhibition examines the grid’s initial design, implementation, and evolution.”

The exhibit runs from Dec 6, 2011 through Apr 15, 2012.

Today’s New York Times ran an article about the exhibit, and also published a few fabulous, vintage photographs of the city during it’s younger days.

Here, from the New York Times, and from the Museum Of The City Of New York, I’d like to share a few of the images.

This etching – quite early on – is looking north on 2nd Avenue from 42nd Street – 1861(!):

This one is looking south on Park Avenue from 94th Street – in 1882:

Here is Riverside Drive and 94th Street, in 1890:

And this photo is of Madison Square in 1894:

The New York Times article says in part:

The show celebrates the anniversary of what remains not just a landmark in urban history but in many ways the defining feature of the city.

After all, before it could rise into the sky, Manhattan had to create the streets, avenues and blocks that support the skyscrapers. The grid was big government in action.

Simeon De Witt, Gouverneur Morris and John Rutherfurd were entrusted with planning the city back in 1811. New York huddled mostly south of Canal Street, but it was booming, its population having tripled to 96,373 since 1790 thanks to the growing port. Civic boosters predicted that 400,000 people would live in the city by 1860. They turned out to be half-right. New York topped 800,000 before the Civil War.

The planners proposed a grid for this future city stretching northward from roughly Houston Street to 155th Street in the faraway heights of Harlem. It was in many respects a heartless plan. There were virtually no parks or plazas. The presumption was that people would gravitate east and west along the numbered streets to the rivers when they wanted open space and fresh air, and not spend lots of time moving north or south. That partly explains why there were only a dozen avenues.

First, Manhattan had to be surveyed, a task that took years. Property lines had to be redrawn, government mobilized for decades on end to enforce, open, grade and pave streets. Some 60 years passed before the grid arrived at 155th Street. Streets were still “rough and ragged” tracks for a long while, as one diarist observed in 1867, describing a recently opened stretch around 40th Street and Madison Avenue as a mess of “mud holes, goats, pigs and geese.”

New York’s grid had its virtues. For one thing, it proved flexible enough to adapt when the city’s orientation did shift north-south, flexible enough to accommodate Central Park.”

I can’t wait to check out this exhibit! Hubby and I love this museum of New York City.

Here is its visitor info:

Museum of the City of New York

1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street

New York, NY 10029

212-534-1672 Phone

The Museum is open seven days a week: 10:00 am–6:00 pm

The Museum is closed on the following holidays:


Christmas Day

New Year’s Day

Suggested Admission (this means that you pay what you want! You can pay more or less than the suggested amount.)

Adults: $10

Seniors, students: $6

Families: $20 (max. 2 adults)

Children 12 and under: free

Members: free

Also, their website says: If you live or work in East Harlem above 103rd Street, visit the Museum free of charge. Mention  “I’m a neighbor,” and the suggested admission charge will be waived.

This museum always has great exhibits – all New York City-themed all the time (and be sure to check out their superb gift shop, as well.)

But to see these vintage photos and maps in person will be an extra special treat!



NYC’s Veterans Day Parade – A Salute To Our Heroes

12 Nov

It was a spectacular parade!

I watched for about 4 hours – it was still going on when I left.

It was GREAT to see the men and women marching, smiling, waving – so proud!

I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

Wow, so many great moments of American Pride – I’ll have Part 2 tomorrow.

Thank you all – what a wonderful day – our heroes!



The Van Cortlandt House Museum, Part 2

19 Oct

Yesterday I wrote about the wonderful experience I had at the demonstration “Baking Without An Oven” which took place last weekend at The Van Cortlandt House Museum.

The information in italics is from the museum’s website (the photos are mine):

The Van Cortlandt House Museum is the oldest building in The Bronx, New York City.

The house was built by Frederick Van Cortlandt (1699 – 1749) in 1748 as a mansion for the Van Cortlandt family. It was built in Yonkers, of fieldstone and in the Georgian style. He died before its completion and willed it to his son, James Van Cortlandt (1727 – 1781).”

Today I want to share some pictures that I took inside the house.

Here is the East Parlor:

The East Parlor is the more formal of the two reception rooms in Van Cortlandt House. The elaborately carved rococo mantelpiece compared with the much simpler trim in other rooms suggests that this room was a gathering place for entertaining and conducting important business. It was during James Van Cortlandt’s occupancy that the carved mantelpiece was added. It was also during this period that the portrait of Augustus Van Cortlandt (1728-1823), painted by John Wesley Jarvis c. 1810, was commissioned by a family member.”

Here is a writing desk, with Revolutionary War era clothing draped on the chair:

A cradle for a little babe:

This room is called The Dutch Chamber:

This room is an exhibition created by the Colonial Dames in 1918 to represent a typical 17th century dwelling in New Amsterdam, the Dutch colony established on Manhattan Island. An all-purpose chamber such as this would have provided cooking, eating, and sleeping space for a middle-class family.”

And the other side of the same room:

Here are more 18th century articles of clothing:

The attic (perhaps sewing room?):

I love the old, rippled glass in the windows:

And I love this staircase:

A charming Grandfather clock:

And, a drum:

I quickly ran through the house during the cooking demonstration – next time I’ll take a guided tour so I’ll learn some fascinating details!

I did hear that Antiques Roadshow appraisers have visited the museum, and were very impressed with the condition, quality and value of the items on view.

It’s a great place to visit. I’ll certainly go again soon. This house has been a museum since 1897 – it’s “done up right”!



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