The Conservatory Garden at 106th Street: A Relatively Undiscovered Treasure

The Conservatory Garden at 106th Street wasn’t fully renovated until 1983, so it’s no wonder it’s still somewhat unknown. Prior to the 1980s, I would have called it the’ haunted garden’, since it was in a neighborhood where one was more likely to get mugged than smell the roses (I lived just eight blocks south […]

Did Frederick Law Olmsted Keep A Personal Diary?

I am not aware that Frederick Law Olmsted ever kept a personal diary. Certainly he wrote numerous letters, many of which are preserved in the Library of Congress, as well as several extensive travelogs that formed the basis of several books. Yet, when he wrote the following biographical fragment in one of his letters: ‘I […]

What Did Olmsted Do Before Creating Central Park?

It might be easier to answer the question: what didn’t Olmsted do before designing Central Park? To say he was a late-bloomer is an understatement. He bounced from one failed career to another well into his thirties. Add to that his entrenched restlessness, and you have a formula for a near endless array of attempted […]

Traveling on the Santa Maria–Not Exactly a Ride on the Queen Mary

As everyone knows, Columbus had three ships on his maiden voyage to the New World, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. Unlike the other two, more agile boats, the flagship Santa Maria was a carrack. Fat and slow, she was designed for hauling cargo (read ‘gold’), not for exploration. Slow as the Santa […]

The The Four Seasons Restaurant: An Iconic Manhattan Destination

The Four Seasons Restaurant, situated in mid-town Manhattan and designed by world-famous architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, is associated with a number of culinary milestones. It is credited with introducing the idea of seasonally-changing menus to America. It was also the first destination restaurant to print its menus in English. Finally, […]

Is Central Park Any Safer Today Than in the Past?

Statistically-speaking, the answer is yes. It’s a lot safer walking in Central Park today than it was in the past. That’s not to say one should be carefree about it. There are still plenty of ways one can dramatically increase one’s chances of an encounter with a mugger. I started this post to highlight the […]

A Jousting Tournament in Central Park?

Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott, was the first historical novel of its kind and set off a train of similar type novels. By today’s standards its plot seems cookie-cutter with lots of valiant fighting and flag-waving tournaments, but one has to remember that it was the original cookie cutter back in 1820 when it was […]

Webster’s 1820 Speech at Plymouth Really Rocked!

On a cold December 20th in 1820, Daniel Webster gave an oration commemorating the bicentennial of the Pilgrim’s landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts. ‘There is a local feeling connected with this occasion too strong to be resisted,’ he said, ‘a sort of genius of the place which inspires and awes us…’ And he went on to […]

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address–A Real Show-Stopper!

..at least toward the end when he eloquently states: With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne […]

The Central Park Cave and the Mark Twain Cave

Although there is no material connection between the two, the Central Park Cave made me think of Tom Sawyer’s cave in Twain’s famous, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal, Missouri, covers some six and a half miles consisting of four entrances and 260 passages, while the Central Park Cave consists […]