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Day 1055

A second visit

November 19th, 2014



to the 167th Street pedestrian bridge over the LIRR's Port Washington Branch

Day 1055

Today’s route — 10.6 miles

November 19th, 2014

Day 1046

Banana plants in Queens

November 10th, 2014



Musa basjoo, perhaps.

Day 1046

Robinwood

November 10th, 2014



This sign stands at the western edge of Little Bay Park, across from the wealthy residential section of Whitestone known as Robinwood. The neighborhood's name comes from the real estate development of Robinwood/Robin Wood/Robinswood, which began taking shape in the 1920s on a piece of waterfront property that was supposedly once owned by Francis Lewis, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Day 1046

A lone fisherman

November 10th, 2014



Compare to the fishin' scene on the west side of the Throgs Neck Bridge (the bridge you see above).

Throgs Neck, or Throggs Neck, is the section of the Bronx at the other end of the bridge. According to the NY Times: "The name derives from John Throckmorton, an Anabaptist from England who had lived in Rhode Island before he established a small settlement in 1642 in what is now the southeastern corner of the Bronx."

Day 1046




In grateful recognition of the gift by Sara Willets Meyer of the land on which this bridge and a portion of the Belt Parkway have been built — Anno Domini MCMXXXIX

Sara(h) Willets Meyer was the last member of the Willets clan to live in the grand mansion, no longer standing, that her grandfather built here in Bayside around 1850. The plaque above indicates that she donated a strip of land from the family estate for the construction of a piece of the Cross Island Parkway, which was being built as part of the larger Belt Parkway project when she died in 1939.

At about 36 miles in length, the Belt extends more than halfway around the perimeter of Brooklyn and Queens. It comprises four different sections, each with a different name: Shore Parkway, Southern Parkway, Laurelton Parkway, and Cross Island Parkway. On road signs, for whatever reason, the Cross Island is labeled as a separate entity, while the other three sections all get lumped together under the Belt moniker.

During its planning stages, the Belt was known as the Circumferential Parkway. Its present name was selected from among a wealth of options near the end of 1938, according to a Brooklyn Daily Eagle article from December 20, 1938:

At least one of the two major puzzles baffling the public has been solved.

Nobody knows yet who's going to be Scarlett O'Hara in the film version of "Gone With the Wind" but Park Commissioner Robert Moses has settled the controversy raging over the renaming of the Circumferential Parkway . . .

From now on, he said yesterday, the $28,000,000 project will be known as the Belt Parkway, largely as a concession to those who, like Queens Borough President Harvey, asserted their inability to spell or pronounce its temporary title.

Commissioner Moses decided to act after numerous suggestions had poured into his office, among them Ringstrasse Parkway, submitted by Mayor LaGuardia. One suggestion which Moses cherished until the last was Lynque Parkway, which combined the last three letters of Brooklyn with the first three of Queens. He finally decided it sounded too tortuous.
Pshhh. Tortuosity would have never stopped Henry Stern!

Day 1046

Flippable directional sign

November 10th, 2014


Day 1046

On location

November 10th, 2014



Various signs in the area let me know that Law & Order: SVU was shooting here in Bay Terrace today, which explains the trailer in the previous photo (and which gives the Lucy/Desi labels a little extra resonance, since one of the actors on the show, Danny Pino, played Desi Arnaz in a TV movie about Lucille Ball).

Down the block from the filming, I passed by a woman in her 40s camped out on her stoop, smoking a cigarette. "I wanna see Ice-T!" she informed me. "Ice-T? I thought he was on some other cop show," I replied. "Well I wanna see someone famous!" she shot back. I'm not sure how deep her devotion to the cause was, however. With a slight amount of effort, she could have dramatically increased her odds by standing up and walking over toward the action, where any famous people in the vicinity would surely be found (and where a small group of curious neighbors had already congregated).

She was right about Ice-T, though, as I found out a minute later. That's him about to cross the street above (zoom in).

Day 1046

Portals of the day

November 10th, 2014



Lucy and Desi? Turns out they're discreetly labeled bathrooms!

Day 1046

Today’s route — 12.2 miles

November 10th, 2014

Day 1045

Krishna Hair Dresser & Salon

November 9th, 2014


Day 1045

Public Place

November 9th, 2014



This little parklet looks much more welcoming than the last such Place we saw. Apparently, there was originally a bronze eagle on the World War II memorial above. It must have been either stolen or damaged, but I'm guessing those are its talons still perched atop the monument.

(The wildly imaginative name of this public place brings to mind the string of Parks found along the Prospect Expressway.)

Day 1045

An impressive grotto

November 9th, 2014



at the Church of St. Sylvester. Check it out in the daylight.

Day 1045




Three Obama-inspired business names in one day? (Here are the other two.) Prior to today, during the entire course of this walking project, I had only come across three other establishments named for our current president. (I previously said I had only come across two, but I had forgotten about the most explicit one of all.) Obama Deli & Grill had already either been renamed or gone out of business when I passed by. Obama Fried Chicken has gone out of business since I passed by. And Barack Hussein Obama Children Center, it seems*, may never have gone into business in the first place (although its awning was still up when the Street View car drove by in October). So it's entirely possible that most or even all of the active businesses in the city named for the president are located here in Cypress Hills, on or just off of Fulton Street, within seven blocks of each other. Weird!

(FYI, King Barack opened up shop sometime between August 2011 and September 2013.)

* The NY Post article linked above makes Sheikh Moussa Drammeh ("Sheikh" is his first name, not a title, and is misspelled in that article), a Bronx imam, sound like a sleazeball and/or nutcase.** But from what I've read, he's a well-respected, positive force in his community of Parkchester. In fact, the Post itself honored him with one of its annual Liberty Medals back in 2007. He founded the Islamic Leadership School — the Bronx's only Islamic school — which, in a bizarre coincidence, opened on September 11, 2001. His latest community venture is a neighborhood "peace patrol" that aims to help troubled kids before they turn to crime.

He's also twice been in the news for his generosity to other religious organizations. In 2004, when the Interfaith Center of New York, led by a former dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, was unable to make rent on the Midtown Manhattan space it had called home for five years, Mr. Drammeh gave the group office space in the Bronx free of charge, in the same building that's now home to, among other things, his mosque, his school, and the apparently never-opened Barack Hussein Obama Children Center.

In 2008, when a tiny, aging Jewish congregation in the neighborhood found itself without a home, Mr. Drammeh offered up space in his mosque, rent-free, saying "I’m paying back. I am an immigrant, from Africa. I came here to New York and all the religious freedoms and acceptance, I don’t have to fight for it, the Catholic and Jewish communities already fought, and now it’s for my behalf. It would be very ungrateful if I don’t play any role, especially for the older folk, so they can benefit in turn from my being here. It is my time to say, let me [pay back] at least a little bit for the neighborhood you made and the work you have done." As far as I can tell, the congregation is still in existence and is still meeting in the mosque.

There's also a pedestrian aspect to this story. When the congregation was on the brink of collapse, shortly before Mr. Drammeh's offer, it was taken over by young Chabad rabbis and rabbinical students who had responded to the elderly Jews' requests for help. Forbidden from traveling by motorized vehicle or bicycle on the Sabbath, the Chabadniks began regularly walking the 15 miles from their homes in Crown Heights, Brooklyn to the mosque on Saturday mornings to lead services. (Nerd note: the route mentioned in the article is over 16 miles long.)

** I should note that the Post was correct about Mr. Drammeh inventing what it called a bathroom-sink alarm. In 2013, he was issued US Patent No: 8,344,893 for a "hygienic assurance system" that uses a "plurality of sensors" and a "plurality of visual and audible signals", as well as a camera, to remind people (presumably employees) to wash their hands after using the toilet and to ensure that those who don't wash up properly, "for an adequate time span", can be identified "for later reprimanding . . . by the facilities owner or hygiene enforcer." But I have some good news for those of you who hate washing your hands. I've looked over the patent and found a loophole. Flushing is the action that triggers the system into thinking you need to wash up, so all you have to do is not flush!

Day 1045

Ridgewood Reservoir gatehouse

November 9th, 2014



Located at the northern end of the Ridgewood Reservoir, between the two original basins that went into operation in 1858, this building stands atop the sluice gates that controlled the amount of water leaving those basins. The water would pass through the sluices into an effluent chamber, where it would enter the pipes of the distribution system and be carried down to the people of Brooklyn.

From Brooklyn Water Works and Sewers: A Descriptive Memoir, written by the chief engineer in charge of the reservoir's construction:

The water space of the effluent chamber is connected by passages eleven feet wide, with the two divisions of the reservoir. A heavy granite wall is built across each passage, rising to the same level as the top of the reservoir banks. In each wall there are four openings, the two lower openings being 3x3 each, and the two upper openings 3x4 each. Iron sluices running in iron slides, faced with composition metal, cover and control these openings. From these sluices, iron rods of two inches diameter rise to the top of the work, where they terminate in screws and gearing for the movement of these sluices. [Two hand-wheels for controlling the sluice gates can still be found behind the gatehouse.] . . .

In front of the sluices, towards the reservoir, in each passage, copper wire screens are placed, twenty-two feet in height, to prevent fish, leaves, &c., from passing into the effluent chamber, and so into the supply pipes. . . .

The apparatus for moving the sluices is protected by a small house built over each passage.