Monday, August 31, 2015

The Real NYC #19 - The NY Botanical Gardens

Haupt Conservatory

Up in the northern reaches of the Bronx lies an oasis of plants and flowers - The New York Botanical Gardens.  Founded in 1891, the Gardens are a living museum and a research facility. They are also a wonderful place to spend a hot summer afternoon.

Most of the 250 acres that now make up the Botanical Gardens were owned by the the family of Pierre Lorillard IV, whose parents founded what is today known as the Lorillard Tobacco Company - the oldest tobacco company in the United States. The estate is still present in the garden in the form of two buildings - The Old Stone Mill and the Stone Cottage. The Stone Mill, which sits along the Bronx River, began its life as a snuff mill. The Stone Cottage was a gate house for the Lorillard estate. Today The Mill is an event space, and can be rented for private affairs.

The Old Stone Mill

Mill Entrance - above the river

The Mill's patio, along the Bronx River

The Bronx River

The Stone Cottage
 At the heart of the Garden is the largest remaining piece of the old-growth forest that covered this part of New York City.

One of the oldest buildings in the Gardens is the Mertz Library Building, built in 1901. It houses the the extensive reference library along with exhibit lecture space. This year the NY Botanical Garden has been hosting an exhibit of artwork by Frida Kahlo. 12 paintings and drawings are on exhibit in the Mertz Library building until November.

Your author outside the Mertz Library

The Fountain of Life

Your Author and The Amazing Ms. D

The Two Fridas by Humberto Spíndola - based on her painting of the same name
 In front of the Library is an Allée of tulip trees. The trees are 100 years old and average 90 feet tall.
Tulip Tree Allée
But the highlight of any visit to the NY Botanical Gardens is the Haupt Conservatory. Originally built in 1902, it is an excellent example of Crystal Palace architecture.

During the Frida Kahlo presentation there is a recreation of the courtyard of her and Diego Rivera's Casa Azul. It comes complete with many examples of plants native to the Mexico City area.

The NY Botanical Gardens is also just a great place to come and walk around and enjoy the trees, lawns and flowers.

So take the subway up to the Bronx and visit the NY Botanical Gardens. Afterwards maybe go to Arthur Ave. for great Italian food.

Getting to the Botanical Gardens - Take the #2 subway to Pelham Parkway or the Metro North Harlem Branch to the Botanical Garden stop.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Real NYC #18 - Movie night at Joyce Kilmer Park

China Pons and Grupo Irek
One of the great things about living in NYC (or just visiting) is being able to take advantage of the plethora of free cultural events that take place all of the time.  One recent Friday evening The Amazing Ms. D and I joined friends for a screening of the documentary Cuban Roots/Bronx Stories by Pam Sporn. The event was organized by the African Film Festival of NY, the Bronx Council on the Arts, the Bronx Museum of Art,

This event was held at Joyce Kilmer Park, which sits across from the the Bronx Court House and is up the hill from Yankee Stadium. The park is named after poet Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918) who is probably best known for the poem Trees.  Kilmer died on the front in France during WW I. The most visible aspect of the park is the Heinrich Heine Fountain. Dedicated in 1899, the fountain sits over 161st Street and is the first thing that many people see when the arrive at the park.

File:Heine Bronx 6.jpg

Before the film we were entertained by the music of Chino Pons and Grupo Irek. They played a great mix of salsa and latin jazz, and they got the crowd up and dancing.

Chino Pons & Grupo Irek

Enjoying the music

Chino Pons stepping with the Amazin Ms. D

Chino Pons dancing with a young lady in the audience
But the really cool thing about these events is that they bring out people from the neighborhood to enjoy an evening of good weather and good friendship. One really cool thing is the diversity of people who come out to enjoy the park. From Africa, Bangladesh (I think), China, the Caribbean and New York City, the evening was enjoyed by all.

Film maker Pam Sporn

Enjoying a repast in the park

Many types of families enjoy the park

Enjoying the music

Families bring dinner with them

The Icee man

All ages come out

An evening with friends
All ages enjoy the music