USA | NYC
 


Day 1992

Still at it!

June 13th, 2017


I'm still walking and regularly posting — I'm just working through a big backlog of photos right now. See below for the latest posts. (The dates on the posts are the dates I took the pictures.)

Day 1326

Storefront Hindu temples

August 17th, 2015



Gufa Shiv Bhagat and Arya Samaj

Day 1326

Venture House

August 17th, 2015



Venture House operates on the Clubhouse Model, providing adults with mental illness the opportunity "to live and work successfully in the community, independently and with dignity."

This building was for many years a Walter B. Cooke funeral home. With numerous locations throughout the city and in Westchester County, Cooke proclaimed itself "New York's largest funeral director" in a 1947 ad and said that it handled "one out of every ten funerals in New York City". I found newspaper mentions of a Cooke funeral home at this address (150-10 Hillside Avenue) as far back as 1935, and the company held the lease on the building through the end of 1995. A photo taken sometime between 1983 and 1988 shows the place in its funeral attire (i.e., with a sign and canopy bearing the Cooke name).

Day 1326



Day 1326

Shades and shadows

August 17th, 2015


Day 1326

Datura alley

August 17th, 2015



The long white trumpets and spiny seed pods lining this walkway belong to datura plants, which contain notoriously potent, and highly toxic, deliriants. The internet offers no shortage of nightmarish stories from people who've tried using datura as a recreational drug.

One species of datura, Datura stramonium, is often called jimson weed, "jimson" being a contraction of "Jamestown", as in Jamestown, Virginia. There's no consensus on the geographic origin of jimson weed, but the plant had reportedly made its way to Jamestown by 1677, when a number of British troops sent to quell Bacon's Rebellion decided to boil up some foraged jimson leaves for a nice salad. An account of their experiences was published in 1705 in Robert Beverley's The History and Present State of Virginia:

The James-Town Weed (which resembles the Thorny Apple of Peru, and I take to be the Plant so call'd) is supposed to be one of the greatest Coolers in the World. This being an early Plant, was gather'd very young for a boil'd Salad, by some of the Soldiers sent thither, to pacific the Troubles of Bacon; and some of them eat plentifully of it, the Effect of which was a very pleasant Comedy; for they turn'd natural Fools upon it for several Days: One would blow up a Feather in the Air; another wou'd dart Straws at it with much Fury; and another stark naked was sitting up in a Corner, like a Monkey, grinning and making Mows at them; a Fourth would fondly kiss, and paw his Companions, and snear in their Faces, with a Countenance more antick, than any in a Dutch Droll. In this frantick Condition they were confined, lest they should in their Folly destroy themselves; though it was observed, that all their Actions were full of Innocence and good Nature. Indeed, they were not very cleanly; for they would have wallow'd in their own Excrements, if they had not been prevented. A Thousand such simple Tricks they play'd, and after Eleven Days, return'd to themselves again, not remembring any thing that had pass'd.
In other news, a jimson weed flower is the subject of what is by far the most expensive painting by a woman ever sold at auction: Georgia O'Keeffe's Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1, which was purchased for $44.4 million in November 2014, shattering the previous record of $11.9 million.

Day 1326

A barren tree in August

August 17th, 2015



This subway power substation at 144th Place and Jamaica Avenue was built around 1966-67 to "[provide] additional capacity to meet higher power demands of the new high acceleration type cars on the Broadway-Jamaica Line". The easternmost portion of that elevated line, which once stood adjacent to the substation on Jamaica Avenue, was closed in 1977 and has since been demolished, along with the rest of the line east of about 127th Street. The Wikipedia page on the Broadway-Jamaica Line (a.k.a. the Jamaica Line) claims that the substation is now used for the nearby underground Archer Avenue extension of the Jamaica and Queens Boulevard Lines that opened in 1988.

Day 1326

Greek, Ukrainian, Romanian

August 17th, 2015



Completed in 1927 (1931 photo), this was originally St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church. An online history of the congregation claims that St. Demetrios was the first Greek Orthodox church on Long Island and the first church in all of NYC built by a Greek Orthodox congregation (earlier churches used by other Greek Orthodox congregations were formerly houses of worship of other denominations/faiths).

In 1967, having built a new, larger church about a mile away, St. Demetrios sold its old home to St. Andrew's Ukrainian Orthodox Church. St. Andrew's seems to have been defunct for some time now, however, and the building was recently purchased by St. Andrei Romanian Orthodox Church. A court document attached to the deed of sale (pages 9-10) states that "the property is in distress and . . . there is no operating parish to secure and safeguard the property . . . St. Andrei Romanian Orthodox Church . . . will secure and safeguard the premises and avoid the property from going into further distress."

UPDATE (June 2017): With necessary repairs having been made, the church reopened on November 28, 2015. As seen here, the place is looking pretty good these days, although the congregation is still trying to raise money for additional restoration projects. (Despite its Romanian-ness, St. Andrei appears to belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, as did St. Andrew's before it.)

Day 1326

Queen’s House

August 17th, 2015



This regal structure, located at the headwaters of Queens Boulevard, announces in stone and tile its given name: Queen's House. Searching newspaper archives (particularly Tom Tryniski's "weird, wonderful website") for the building's address — 138-21 Jamaica Avenue — led to three discoveries:

1) According to a series of help-wanted ads from the early and mid-1940s, the building was once home to Goosen's Confectionery, a candy and ice cream shop with a luncheonette and soda fountain.

2) Frederick H. Goosen, the proprietor of Goosen's, was arrested and convicted on gaming charges in 1933 for running a "candy lottery" at the store.

3) Thanks to an OCR error, I was led to a page from 1939 that contains no mention of the building's address. What I did find on that page is a brief item about the return of a pet cat who had been missing for almost three years. The cat's name? Lucifer Thomas Katz. "Mrs. Duckworth heard a loud clamor on the back porch and opened the door to find Lucifer."

Day 1326




The Imam Al-Khoei Benevolent Foundation, "one of the largest Shiite Muslim charitable and educational associations in the world", was founded in 1989 by Grand Ayatollah Abul Qasim al-Khoei, "the highest-ranking cleric in Iraq" prior to his death in 1992.

The Islamic center pictured above is the New York branch of the foundation and is home to "New York City's main Shiite Muslim mosque". The center is located in the former I.D. Watch Case Company factory, which has stood here since 1944. You can see an old photo of the factory here.

On January 1, 2012, with dozens of worshipers inside, the center was hit by the "Frappuccino Firebomber", a man with an odd array of grudges who sought vengeance that evening by tossing Molotov cocktails — most of them made with Starbucks Frappuccino bottles — at a series of five unrelated targets. Fortunately, no one was injured in any of the attacks. When questioned by the police, the man expressed a general hatred of Muslims, but also gave a more personal reason for singling out the Al-Khoei center: He had once tried to use the center's bathroom and was turned away. (Another one of his targets was a deli he had visited a few days before. He was angry at the way the owner had kicked him out after he was caught shoplifting milk and... a Starbucks Frappuccino.)

Two police officers who drove by as I was snapping this photo stopped to question me, suspicious that I might be planning to do some kind of harm to the Al-Khoei center. I explained to them that I'm walking all the streets of the city and that I take lots of pictures.

"What do you take pictures of? Mostly mosques?" one of them asked me, still somewhat wary.

"No, all kinds of things. Here, I'll show you." Sensing an opportunity to bore their suspicion into oblivion, I began enthusiastically flipping through my recent photos on my phone. "Here's a sign that got swallowed up by a tree. Check out this old Indian Head penny I found on the ground. It's from 1906! Here's a funny handmade dog poop sign. This sign with a Bible verse was just stuck up above the door of this building. This is Fresh Kutz, K-U-T-Z. I take a photo of every barbershop I see with a Z in its name in place of an S. Look at the birds painted on this SUV!"

It was around this point that the officers' eyes began to glaze over. They were basically stuck watching the world's most tedious vacation slideshow. Realizing that I wasn't going to run out of photos anytime soon, they suddenly became very eager to wrap up the conversation and get on their way. They offered up some hasty goodbyes and promptly sped off, hoping to hell they could get out of earshot before I had time to pull up all my churchagogue and mailbox photos.

Day 1326

Becoming one with nature

August 17th, 2015


Day 1326

1906 Indian Head penny

August 17th, 2015



This is the oldest coin I've found on the ground so far.

Day 1326

You will be on camera.

August 17th, 2015


Day 1326

Portal of the day

August 17th, 2015



Behold I Will Send You Elijah The Prophet.. Malachi 4:5

Day 1326

Barberz #116

August 17th, 2015