My first stop was at the neighborhood bagel shop, "Absolute Bagels" where for $1.25 you can get the best "everything" bagel you've ever tasted...and for $2.50 more you can get a two-inch slab of your favorite cream cheese. With bagel smear in hand, I walked past "Garden of Eden," a beautiful grocery store which sometimes feels more like a food boutique (they have a fine selection of caviar and Mother of Pool spoons). We usually don't shop here unless we are too lazy to go three blocks up Broadway to "West Side Market," but I love its outdoor fruite displays that brave all sorts of weather.
This is our cross street: Broadway and 107th. Of all the streets I have been down, I like this one the most. I highly recommend going to Google Maps and taking the street view tour of our street. It is lined with big trees, beautiful buildings, and has an old Catholic church directly across the street.
This is our building--our little haven in the chaos. For several months I thought our building was completely white. I guess sometimes in New York you forget to look up, but when you do, you find all sorts of interesting things: gargoyles, turrets, friezes, bronze sculptures, even trees on top of buildings.
Just around the corner and up Amsterdam you find one of the treasures of the Upper West Side: The Cathedral of St. John the Divine--one of the largest Episcopalian churches in the world. This picture is of a chapel that is on the same block as the cathedral. It was in the cathedral that we saw the procession of the ghouls for Halloween. It seems a little out of place with the rest of the neighborhood, but is a beautiful landmark, nevertheless.
This sculpture is one of the more intriguing artifacts in our neighborhood. It is called the "Fountain of Peace." The sculpture depicts the struggle of good and evil, as well as a battle between the Archangel Michael and Satan. The sculpture also contains the Sun, the Moon, and several animals. I though that the inscription was VERY unique, especially coming from a science background, check it out:
Peace Fountain celebrates the triumph of Good over Evil, and sets before us the world's opposing forces—violence and harmony, light and darkness, life and death—which God reconciles in his peace.
When the fountain operates, four courses of water cascade down the freedom pedestal into a maelstrom evoking the primordial chaos of Earth. Foursquare around the base, flames of freedom rise in witness to the future. Ascending from the pool, the freedom pedestal is shaped like the double helix of DNA, the key molecule of life. Atop the pedestal a giant crab reminds us of life's origins in sea and struggle. Facing West, a somnolent Moon reflects tranquility from a joyous Sun smiling to the East. The swirls encircling the heavenly bodies bespeak the larger movements of the cosmos with which earthly life is continuous.
Nine giraffes—among the most peaceable of animals—nestle and prance about the center. One rests its head on the bosom of the winged Archangel Michael, described in the bible as the leader of the heavenly host against the forces of Evil. St. Michael's sword is vanquishing his chief opponent, Satan, whose decapitated figure plunges into the depths, his head dangling beneath the crab's claw. Tucked away next to the Sun, a lion and lamb relax together in the peace of God's kingdom, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
So, if you are in the neighborhood, be sure to check out this smattering of concepts wielded in graphic bronze.
I walked up to 115th street and across the green at Columbia University. Although Columbia feels like a gated community (complete with gates and all), it has a real scholarly feel to the place--it ALMOST makes me want to grab a science text book and learn the Krebs cycle for the 13th time.Sometimes you don't realize how historic the places you are until you stop to admire a bronze plaque. I knew that Washington fought battles in the hills west of Harlem (Harlem Heights), but I didn't realize that I had been walking all over the battle sight. Oddly enough, the cathedral that I mentioned earlier has a large sculpture of General Washington right below Christ on its facade.
This is a view down 120th. The first complex on the left is Union Theological Seminary, and the next complex down is Teachers College (Columbia's Graduate School of Education). I think that these are some of the prettiest buildings around, and they sort of remind me of Hogwarts.
Grant's tomb. Yes, President (General) Ulysses S. Grant is buried here (along with his wife). It is a beautiful building both on the inside and out. I have decided that during my life I must help mend the USA as a heroic military figure if I am to have a mausoleum like this. Either that or be married to one. Jamie is wonderful, but I don't think that she is the military type.
I now started my walk back towards home down Riverside park--a picturesque strip of lawns, trees, and playgrounds that lines the Hudson.
This is the route I took--I was gone about 40 minutes and saw everything from Revolutionary War battle sights to the best bagels in Manhattan. It is exciting to be surrounded by history, but I don't like walking these streets all by myself. It is so nice to have Jamie back home.