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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…




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





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!



The Flatiron Building In The Afternoon Light

15 Nov

It’s one of my favorite buildings of all times.

I’m not alone in this. It’s a favorite of many New Yorkers and visitors alike.

From Wikipedia, here are a couple of CLASSIC images from Alfred Stieglitz (1903) and Edward Steichen (1904) of this glorious building:

You’ll find this gem at 175 5th Avenue, at the juncture of 5th Avenue, Broadway and 23rd Street.

If you’ve never been there in person, do yourself a favor and check it out.

It’s such an impressive sight now – I can’t even imagine how it must have been gazing upon it in 1902, when it was completed!

Quite the most notorious thing in New York and attracts more attention than all the other buildings now going up together…We have to congratulate the architect on the success of his detail. . . of giving appropriate texture to his walls…The manufacturer has managed exactly to match the warm yellow-gray of the limestone base in the tint of the terra cotta above.”
-Architectural Record, 1902

Here’s a pinhole photograph that I took of the Flatiron Building a few years ago:

Isn’t it glorious??

H.G. Wells said it best; he wrote in 1906: “I found myself agape, admiring a sky-scraper the prow of the Flat-iron Building, to be particular, ploughing up through the traffic of Broadway and Fifth Avenue in the afternoon light.”



Central Park – At The Peak Of Fall’s Gloriousness

10 Nov

I visited Central Park a few weeks ago, with the hope of seeing some Fall Foliage.

It was a glorious day that day, but the trees were showing little sign of Autumn.

Oh, what a difference 3 short weeks make!

As if the spectacular views aren’t enough, there is wonderful music to be heard, from a solo saxophone player

to a folk band (The Dirty Urchins)

to a gospel group (The Boyds & Praise Company)

I never tire of watching the boaters, ESPECIALLY with these colors surrounding them!

And, good old Bethesda Fountain…

But, back to my favorite area of all, Poets’ Walk.

The park actually had Poets’ Walk closed off to the public, as they were clearing tree branches that had fallen or were dangerously close to falling, due to the strange snowstorm we had on October 29th.

According to The New York Times, “In all, as many as 1,000 of the park’s trees may be lost to the freak October snowstorm; in contrast, Tropical Storm Irene — which work crews only recently finished cleaning up after — cost the park 125 trees.”

If you want to donate any amount of money to help Central Park be restored, or to learn more, please visit this page, which says in part:

We can’t plan for storms. But with your help, we can rebuild.


When the unexpected happens, we rely on your generosity to restore the Park to its most vibrant state. The Halloween storm will cost the Conservancy hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of clean-up and restorative work, and we can’t do it without you.


The destruction is staggering: we estimate that at least 1,000 trees will be lost as a result of this storm. The Halloween storm comes on the heels of Hurricane Irene, but is far more extensive and severe than what we witnessed in August. The damage in the Park is focused south of 86th Street, which is by far the most visited section of the Park.

Thank you for your donation and your support of the Central Park Conservancy’s stewardship of Central Park. If you’d like to send a check, please make it payable to Central Park Conservancy and note that it’s for the 2011 Halloween storm fund. You can send them to us at:


Central Park Conservancy
14 East 60th St., 8th Floor
New York, NY  10022

If you are feeling generous, please consider donating to the Central Park Conservancy. They will be very grateful for ANY amount that you’re able to give.

Happy Autumn! And, thank you!



Manhattan’s Districts – Today Featuring The Garment District

6 Nov

Manhattan is made up of little neighborhoods.

It always seems almost “small town” to me, in a funny way.

Your UPS driver passes you on the sidewalk, and waves. The bodega owner smiles out the window at you from his counter. The fish monger knows you, as does the wine store clerk.

Maybe it’s like that everywhere. But, I’ll bet people don’t often think of New York City in this way.

Here’s a great map of Manhattan’s neighborhoods, that I found on Wikipedia:

You may notice on the map, that some areas are called Districts.

Manhattan has neighborhoods, and it has districts.

You’ve heard of The Financial District. You’ve probably heard of The Diamond District. There’s The Meatpacking District, The Flower District, The Garment District.

The Flatiron neighborhood is also known as The Photo District. You need photo supplies? This area has the highest concentration of photo studios and photo supply stores in the city.

The Bowery, below Houston Street is known as The Restaurant Supply District. You need an industrial-sized blender? This should be your destination.

In the market for a guitar? Head to Music Row.

It’s pretty darned cool!

Sadly, many of these areas are being gentrified out of existence.

There used to be Radio Row.

From Wikipedia:

New York’s Radio Row (1921–1966) was a warehouse district on the Lower West Side of Manhattan, New York City. Harry Schneck opened City Radio on Cortlandt Street in 1921, creating Radio Row. Radio Row was torn down in 1966 to make room for the World Trade Center. It held several blocks of electronics stores, with Cortlandt Street as its central axis . The used radios, war surplus electronics, junk, and parts often piled so high they would spill out onto the street, attracting collectors and scroungers. According to a business writer, it also was the origin of the electronic component distribution business.”

And, here’s a photo from the great Bernice Abbott that Wikipedia has on its site. Radio Row in 1936:

So sadly, Book Row is gone – The Stand Bookstore is the only bookstore left in the area. From their website:

In 1927, Ben Bass opened Strand Book Store on Fourth Avenue, home of New York’s legendary Book Row. Named after the famous publishing street in London, the Strand was one of 48 bookstores on Book Row, which started in the 1890’s and ran from Union Square to Astor Place. Today, the Strand is the sole survivor.”

Hubby and I live very close to The Garment District. And it’s still thriving.

Wikipedia says:

The dense concentration of fashion-related uses give the neighborhood, which is generally considered to span between Fifth Avenue and Ninth Avenue, from 34th to 42nd Street, its moniker. The Garment District has been known since the early 20th century as the center for fashion manufacturing and fashion design in the United States, and even the world.

Less than one square mile in area, the neighborhood is home to the majority of New York’s showrooms and to numerous major fashion labels, and caters to all aspects of the fashion process–from design and production to wholesale selling. No other city has a comparable concentration of fashion businesses and talent in a single district.”

The other day, I wanted to find a patch for a hole in my jacket pocket. What to do?

I of course headed over to 39th Street and 7th Avenue.

There are a couple of nice tributes there to The Garment District.

I love this giant needle and button!

And, this statue of a garment worker is very moving.

The street itself looks at first glance like a very ordinary street.

But once you start walking down the sidewalk, you notice that just about every store is a fabric store, or a trimmings store.

In no particular order, here are the windows of a few of them:

There are probably 30 or more fabric stores on this one block alone!

How do you make up your mind which one to enter??

Well, I had previously found this one, by complete accident one day. I looked at the window, and simply HAD to go in to look around.

It’s Top Trimmings, and I think I’m in love.

And, I’m not even a sewer!

I think when a real sewer enters this place for the first time, she’ll think she’s died and gone to Heaven.

This store has absolutely everything you can dream of (2 floors!).



Beads and Buttons

Boas and Necklaces

This place must do a killing in the weeks before Halloween!

Did I find a cute patch for my jacket?

You betcha.

Now, I can’t WAIT to go to The Diamond District to photograph it for you!

Oh, how I love New York!




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