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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!!

xoxo,

SAllan

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…

xoxo,

SAllan

Where To Go Next Time You Have To Go? The American Folk Art Museum!

4 Feb

Around New York City, it’s always a good idea to know of free, clean, accessible public restrooms – you never know when you’ll have the need.

Here’s a website to help!

And I have an app on my phone that has the rather unfortunate name of “Sit Or Squat” – crude perhaps, but useful. It claims to be “The best way to find a toilet anywhere in the world; on the web, iPhone and BlackBerry!”

And, a basic knowledge of available locations by neighborhood – based on past experience – is eventually built into every New Yorker’s DNA…

The bookstores Barnes & Noble used to be my go-to free, clean, accessible public restrooms in New York City. They used to be in just about every neighborhood, plus they offered the added benefit of book browsing on the way to and from.

Sad to say, many of the B&N stores have disappeared.

Where’s that Brick & Mortar when you need it???

The other day, I was in the Lincoln Center neighborhood, and nature called. Lincoln Center? Last time I tried that, the restroom was closed. Barnes And Noble? It’s now a clothing store. What’s the best Sure Thing?

The I remembered – The American Folk Art Museum.

At Columbus Circle and 66th Street, it couldn’t have been more convenient. And, it has a few added benefits of its own!

I wandered in (for FREE) and first browsed their gift shop. Inconspicuous, naturally!

Actually, I adore these signs. If we had the free wall space, I’d purchase one or two. Alas, a photograph will have to do.

There’s a new exhibit at the museum; it’s called “Jubilation|Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined” – and once I exited the shop area and entered the exhibition space – I was immediately enchanted.

I actually wandered around admiring the art before I “borrowed” the restroom. And then, wandered some more.

I love this little museum! Plus, they kindly allow photographs (no flash please!).

Here’s some of what you can see when you visit – this exhibit is on display through September 2, 2012.

These artists are no Grandma Moses or Howard Finster – from what I could gather they are basically unknown artists, unappreciated during their time.

I believe that the husband and wife team who made these bottle cap creations were saddened by the lack of interest in their “art”; they stored these away in a barn as bits of junk.

Other items which were more utilitarian were seen and used – such as this giant Indian windmill. As luck has it, there also exists  the photograph which shows the windmill in its original location, up on top of the general store.

Here is a folk artist’s interpretation of The Duke and Duchess Of Windsor:

I loved this snake charmer:

and of course, who wouldn’t adore this lovely lady with her little orange kitty!

I love this museum! They also have some pretty great events there – FREE or low-cost.

Check out their “Guitar Wednesdays”

Enjoy free live music performed by jazz guitarist Bill Wurtzel and guest musicians each Wednesday from 2 to 3 pm.”

Their “Make It Thursdays”

Come to the museum each Thursday for hands-on workshops and discussions with leaders in the DIY community. Enjoy a glass of wine, meet fellow craft enthusiasts, and spend a creative evening with us!”

This sounds GREAT! I’d love to make a habit of this crafts class, if I can make it at 6:00…

6 to 7:30 pm
Free for museum members
$10 for non-members
Includes refreshments

(Check out the museum’s website for information on reserving space by purchasing tickets online.)

And their “Free Music Fridays”

Enjoy live music each Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Admission is always free.”

Please check out this little gem of a museum. You’ll be so glad that you did.

Plus, they have a very clean, accessible restroom!

Tuesday–Saturday noon–7:30 pm
Sunday noon–6:00 pm
Monday closed

xoxo,

SAllan

Imagine

22 Jan

Just the other day I was walking on West 57th Street near Carnegie Hall and I passed Steinway Hall.

Or, I should say that I passed Steinway Hall – did a quick double take – then backtracked to stare into their window.

For those of you desiring a bit of history, info and trivia:

Steinway & Sons is a premier piano manufacturing company; their handmade pianos are regarded by many to be the finest in the world.

Papa Steinway (Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg) started making pianos in his German kitchen in 1836. He and his family emigrated to the United States 1n 1850.

According to Wikipedia:

In 1853, H.E. Steinweg founded Steinway & Sons. His first workshop was in a small loft at the back of 85 Varick Street in the Manhattan district of New York City. The first piano produced by Steinway & Sons was given the number 483 because H.E. Steinweg had built 482 pianos in Germany. Number 483 was sold to a New York family for $500, and is now displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Cool, very cool! I want to go see that first American Steinway piano #483 at The Met!!

More from our friends at Wikipedia:

Steinway Hall  is the name given to buildings housing concert halls, showrooms and sales departments for Steinway pianos. In 1864 William Steinway (the son of H. E. Steinway, who is credited with establishing Steinway’s remarkable success in marketing) built a set of elegant new showrooms housing more than 100 pianos on East 14th Street in Manhattan, New York City. In 1866, William Steinway oversaw the construction of the first Steinway Hall to the rear of the showrooms.

The Steinway Hall seated more than 2,000 and quickly became an important part of New York City’s cultural life, housing the New York Philharmonic for the next 25 years until Carnegie Hall opened in 1891.

Concertgoers had to pass through the piano showrooms; this had a remarkable effect on sales, increasing demand for new pianos by four hundred in 1867 alone.”

Brilliant marketing!!

From the plaque on the 57th Street building, in part:

Steinway Hall was constructed in 1924-25… After Carnegie Hall opened in 1891, West 57th Street gradually became one of the nation’s leading cultural music centers. Steinway & Sons followed this trend, relocating to this area from East 14th Street… Steinway & Sons continues to be the city’s only remaining piano maker.”

It’s interesting to me that neither the entry in Wikipedia or the historic information on the Steinway & Sons website mention the move to West 57th Street. I wonder why??

Well, a bit of interesting Steinway/WWII trivia, again from our friends at Wikipedia:

During World War II the Steinway factory in New York City received orders from the Allied Armies to build wooden gliders to convey troops behind enemy lines. Few normal pianos could be made, but some 3,000 special models were built by Steinway, the Victory Vertical or G.I. Piano. It was a small piano, able to be lifted by four men, painted olive drab, gray or blue, designed to be carried aboard ships or dropped by parachute from an airplane, in order to bring music to the soldiers.”

Amazing, to think of pianos being parachuted out of planes, during the war!

Anyway, back to what draw my attention in the showroom window:

The John Lennon “Imagine” Series Limited Edition piano.

The sign in the window reads:

To commemorate the 70th birthday of a true creative genius – legendary musician and songwriter John Lennon – Steinway & Sons proudly introduced the “Imagine” Series Limited Edition piano. Modeled after the white Steinway that John presented to Yoko Ono on her birthday in 1971, this piano incorporates John’s drawings, signature, music and lyrics. Each piano bears a medallion indicating its uniqueness. “Imagine” was composed on a Steinway piano, and today the connection lives on through a piano that is a tribute to the man, the music and the message.”

“Excellent!” I thought. But then I thought, “John Lennon was born in 1940. He was 40 years old when he was murdered in 1980.”

I guess this sign and this piano have been here in the Steinway widow for a couple of years.

Brilliant marketing!!

Well, it made me stop and look! And who knows? If I had oodles of money (and space), maybe I’d be tempted to buy one of these Limited Edition pianos.

BUT, on the Steinway & Sons website pertaining to this series, the page is blank.

Have they have sold out of the series? Either way, they seriously need to update their website.

Anyway – before this post’s grand finale – here is one more bit of trivia about John’s white Steinway piano, again from Wikipedia:

The world’s most expensive upright piano was built by Steinway’s factory in Hamburg, Germany, in 1970. The piano was bought by John Lennon for $1,500; Lennon composed and recorded “Imagine” and other tunes on it. In 2000, it was sold at auction by a private British collector. Pop musician George Michael made the winning bid of £1.67 million.”

I don’t know what that was in 2000 conversion rates, but in today’s market, 1.67 million pounds (GBP) converts to about 2.60 million dollars (USD)!

Ponder that while you listen to this:

“Imagine” – By John Lennon, 1971

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say 
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say 
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

xoxo,

SAllan

 

 

The 1940 Census Release – 80 Days And Counting!

12 Jan

Are you into family history? Old family photos? Are you a real “Nancy Drew” sleuth when it comes to solving the mysteries that are hidden in your family closets?

Then you and I are both counting the days to the release of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census.

It is being made public on April 2, 2012.

The United States conducts a nation wide census every 10 years. Most of us just filled out the recent 2010 census – er, two years ago (how time flies!)

The very first U.S. Census was taken after the Revolutionary War in 1790, and it has been taken every 10 years since then. The results of the Census are used to determine such things as Congressional seats and electoral votes.

Genealogists LOVE accessing the census records to track down information on ancestors. Because of privacy laws, the census records are made public after 72 years.

So, for instance – that 2010 Census that you remember filling out? Its results will be made public on April 1, 2082.

This April, the 1940 Census is being made public. Of course, it will take some time for the records to be digitized and made available for public scrutiny at your local library, The National Archives, and such websites such as Ancestry.com.

What was going on in 1940?

My Dad was 9 years old, living in Miami and in Band – here he is, front row, 2nd from the right:

And my Mom started kindergarden in Chicago – she was 5 years old. Here she is, front row, 3rd from right:

Isn’t it strange, how the  mysteries of life would bring them together – and 19 years from then – welcome me into the world?

I can not WAIT to access the 1940 Census! Who knows what mysteries may be solved, what clues will be revealed?

Will you be sleuthing through the records, too?

xoxo,

SAllan

P.S. – readers, please see the additional and CORRECT information about the availability of the 1940 Census from the National Archives – posted in the comments section. I’m happy to be told that if you know your ancestors’ locations, you can find them in the census results as soon as they are released – only the name index will take a while to be digitized by Ancerstry.com, etc…

Ruby’s Is Back, Baby!

6 Jan

I wrote back in the fall about Ruby’s Bar and Grill at Coney Island being closed down and bulldozed to make room for newer, cleaner, “better”.

I am so happy to report officially that I have been proven WRONG!

The owners at Ruby’s have been in lengthy negotiations with the company who is “revitalizing” the Coney Island boardwalk.

As have the owners of Paul’s Daughter – another Mom & Pop landmark that seemed destined to go under.

Background from this WNYC news story:

“The Bloomberg administration gave Central Amusement International a 10-year contract to oversee the boardwalk and operate the Luna Park amusement area. At first, the company had said it wanted to bring in new eateries and businesses to spruce up the boardwalk and be open year round. 

But CAI changed its tune after plans for an upscale restaurant with a Miami-based company fell through. Now, the amusement company has signed eight year leases with Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter, two mom and pop businesses that have been operating for decades.

The two restaurants have agreed to invest thousands of dollars to update their facades and renovate their interiors as part of the deal.”

I had read that this Miami-based company had opened an ice cream stand last year on Coney Island, and when they weren’t as successful as they expected, they pulled out of the deal. I guess the lousy economy has a small golden lining…

I’m so happy for Ruby’s and for Paul’s Daughter!

But, they won’t exactly be the “dive bar” and “dive clam shack” that we’ve been accustomed to.

Here is a rendering of the plans for the “new” Coney Island boardwalk – courtesy of WNYC and CAI:

It looks like a strip mall.  😦

Well, I’ll wait and see.

Ruby’s website says “Its Official! We have signed a new 8 year lease. We look forward to seeing our loyal friends and customers for many years.”

I’m willing to  stay positive.

At least, with the money invested for interior renovations, it’s likely that Ruby’s restroom will be repaired!

I’m looking forward to visiting Ruby’s in the spring. Long live the king!

And oh, how I long for this sight, and the smell of the ocean air!

xoxo,

SAllan

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:

Thanksgiving

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!

xoxo,

SAllan

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