Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This Little Light of Mine

By Intern Kate G. 

Whenever you hear about Central Park, a 843 acre urban oasis, the names that immediately come to mind are Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. And rightly so, since they are the designers/brains behind the Greensward Plan, Central Park's original master plan. 

Greensward Plan

But since Vaux & Olmsted's masterwork was completed in 1873, the park has continued to evolve. Central Park as we know it today is made up of layers of change as the park deteriorated and then was progressively restored in the late 1970s and 1980s.One person who played a key role in the 1980s park restoration was architect Gerald Allen. During the late 1970s, Allen was brought on by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, the founder of the Central Park Conservancy, as part of the restoration team.

He literally shed light on the park! Allen, a New York architect that received a Masters at Yale, and Kent Bloomer, a Yale architecture professor, designed the light fixtures found throughout Central Park. As highlighted in a New York Times article published in August 1983, the key design question was whether the new fixtures, called luminaires, should be contemporary or historical. 

Photo Credit: Kent Bloomer Studio

Over a period of nine months, Allen and Bloomer worked with the Department of Parks and Recreation's General Services and the Landmarks Preservation Commission to refine the design. Upon approval, Elizabeth Barlow Rogers noted, the LPC review strengthened the design and "the light ...with its leaves and little seeds, is energetic and graceful. It satisfies all the practical optical requirements. I think it's very successful." These beautiful light fixtures are found throughout the park.

Photo Credit: Kent Bloomer Studio
Gerald Allen's work can also be experienced at the Cherry Hill Concourse (overlooking the Lake near West 72nd Street and Central Park West), which has lately been the subject of significant debate and is scheduled to be demolished and reconstructed this Fall 2011. As sited in Landmark West!'s testimony at the Design Commission, "Just as Central Park is a compelling example of New York City's historical palimpsest--that is, the tradition of the past accommodating the present-Cherry Hill is an archetypal example of the Park's evolution over the decades." Cherry Hill is representative of a key layer in the rich history of Central Park.  

With two such significant contributions to the design of Central Park, shedding some light on Gerald Allen's role in the long, ever-evolving history of Central Park is our pleasure!

*Gerald Allen is the co-author of The Place of Houses

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Diggin' Up the Dirt on Central Park's Past

By Debi and intern Kate G.

This morning we visited the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History’s Open House in Central Park.  The students' presentations were fascinating and ranged from the description of different nails found during the excavation, to the public's general knowledge of Seneca Village.  The entire Open House was a great reminder that no matter where you are in New York City, there are layers of history right beneath your feet!

Seneca Village Open House visitors learn about site findings, such as
19th Century "Tupperware" from students.

In the 1850s, Seneca Village, a thriving community with a population of nearly 300 people, existed on land between 81st and 89th Streets. This predominantly African American community was evicted and their land was taken through the right of eminent domain to make way for the construction of Central Park.

Victor A. Luna, a senior at City College, researched gender economics at Seneca Village.

This summer, the Institute (led by co-directors Cynthia Copeland, Nan Rothschild and Diana Wall) along with a crew of summer interns, conducted an archaeological excavation at the former site of Seneca Village. The Open House showcased the students' research and hosted walking tours of the site. Click here to see the New York Times' recent profile of the Institute's work.

The Seneca Village team excavated portions of a house built on the site.
Here, a visitor examines photos of what lies beneath.  The orange tape outlines
the foundations of the home.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shakespearean Theater Comes to Life at West-Park

Last week, we wrote about the Woodshed Collective's run of "The Tenant" at West-Park Presbyterian Church.  The LW! staff is excitedly looking forward to experiencing this site-specific production for ourselves at this evening's show -- stay tuned for our musings in the coming days!

There are still plenty of opportunities to take in experiential theater on the West Side post-Woodshed, thanks to West-Park!  The church and its congregation continue the long history of supporting the theater and providing a venue for artistic expression with the Dark Lady Players' production of "Shakespeare's Gospel Parodies".  As with "The Tenant", this show is free to the public!  So read on to learn more about the troupe, the show and dates to mark on your calendar!

From the Dark Lady Players

West-Park Presbyterian Church
Hosts NYC’s Experimental Shakespeare Company

Beginning August 24th West Park is hosting the Woodshed Collective for their sold out, site-specific production of The Tenant which runs on Wednesdays-Saturday. In parallel West-Park is also hosting the experimental theater group the Dark Lady Players for their production of Shakespeare’s Gospel Parodies; A Medieval Mystery Tour. The production uses the sets that Woodshed has built and runs from 11 to 25 September, at 4:00 Sunday and 7:00 Monday-Tuesday. Tickets are free and available at the door on a first come first served basis.

West Park has a long association with Shakespeare, having previously been the home of the Riverside Shakespeare Company, having a 50 seat balcony theater dedicated by Joe Papp, and being the home of the 'Shakespeare Center,’ and the 'Shakespeare Project’ in the 1980s. It was where the Royal Shakespeare company did their first US residency. More recently it has been the venue for Shakespeare performances by the York Shakespeare company taking advantage of the building’s unique acoustics.

The Dark Lady Players perform the allegorical levels of Shakespeare’s plays showing that plays these are religious parodies. The Shakespeare plays contain 14 resurrections, 12 Apocalypses, 5 Virgin Mary Allegories, 3,000 additional religious references, a variety of Christ figures and were written using 14 different translations of the Bible. And yet none of the plays end in Paradise. Why do the Marys (Juliet, Ophelia, Desdemona) die before giving birth to the savior? Why are the Messiah figures (Laertes, Shylock, Bottom/Pyramus) defeated? These parodies resemble those in Jewish/Marrano literature and suggest that the author of the plays may not have been William Shakespeare but England’s only Jewish poet of the time.This was the subject of a cover article last summer in Reform Judaism magazine.

Shakespeare’s Gospel Parodies
is a tour of key events from the life of Jesus as represented in parody in the plays, all based on reputable scholarship. The audience will walk from one scene to another around the building, under the guidance of docents, as if the scenes were living speaking pictures in a museum. The director is Jenny Greeman, the dramaturg John Hudson. After the performance on Sunday 18 September there will be a talkback with West Side clergy to discuss some of the implications. The production is partially funded by the Alliance of Resident Theaters-NY Nancy Quinn Fund. For more details visit or email

Monday, August 22, 2011

With one ad, 500+ new friends!

Purchasing an ad or supporting a "tribute page" in the Landmark Feast printed program is a spirited way to show your enthusiastic support for this event.

And this is no throw-away program, friends!  The printed programs from two of LANDMARK WEST's recent events (here and here) are proof positive that assembling this take-home souvenir is a point of pride!  With past supporters like TD Bank, The Nation Institute, Walter B. Melvin Architects, Friends of Hudson River Park, Rosa Mexicano, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, and more, it has to be perfect!  And it's our honor to add to this roster of friends local businesses such as Pasha Restaurant, Tip Top Shoes, Ivy's Cafe, the Historic Fireboat John J. Harvey, and others.

Become a Landmark Feast program ad supporter!  Everything you need to know is hereContact Cristiana at LANDMARK WEST! with any questions at (212) 496-8110).  Act now!  Ad space is filling up fast and the Feast will be here before you know it!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Playtime in Central Park :: Playtime goes to the dogs, Part II

As West Side Rag wrote, "A project like this ... reminds people that landmarking is a way to hold on to things you care about."

We're thrilled at the positive reception our "Playtime in Central Park" photo series has had, and for the terrific participation from our friends and followers!  Already, you've seen Susy N.'s great photos of pups in the park.  Lucky for us--and for you!--we have more from her to share.  A great way to end the week, with a puppy serenade from Belvedere Castle (get it? 'cause they look like they're harmonizing in the chorus!).

Adorable yellow lab and American Eskimo puppies playing.
Belvedere Castle, 2001.

Having worked up a thirst, the "Adorable yellow lab and
American Eskimo puppies" enjoy some H20.
Belvedere Castle, 2001.

Susy & Michael's dog "Mika, a Rhodesian Ridgeback,
loved to go to the handball court and play ball".
The handball court in Central Park, 1997.
The blog series will continue for about another week, so start rummaging through your photo albums and boxes, see what memories you can turn up, and share them for publishing here!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

West-Park Takes Center Stage in Upcoming Theater Production

West-Park Presbyterian Church

Starting next Wednesday, August 24th, West-Park Presbyterian Church* will make its acting debut!

The landmark church will play host to
"The Tenant", a site-specific performance produced by theater company Woodshed Collective. But don't relegate West-Park to that of mere scenery. As we learned via Alexis Soloski's recent New York Times article, West-Park "is a character in the show, it's a collaborator, it gets a seat at the table."

Interviews with the cast and crew of
Woodshed Collective reveal the process of staging this theatrical experience, in which no less than eight separate plays slowly weave themselves together across five different floors of the West-Park parish house.

As Soloski writes, "Creating site-specific theater poses challenges: securing spaces, making them safe for audiences, adapting sound and lighting equipment to fit untraditional environments." Luckily for the Collective, volunteer manpower and donated clean-up services, as well as LANDMARK WEST!-sponsored electrical updates, have taken place in the past year, helping to ready West-Park for precisely this kind of inspired adaptive reuse (more below).

West-Park has donated use of the space to Woodshed Collective for the run of "The Tenant". Rev. Robert Brashear, in an interview with the West Side Spirit, noted that "... the work that Woodshed is doing helps us further down the [restorative] path. We'll have the benefit of significat parts of our restoration accomplished." West-Park has a long history supporting theatrical expression, having long been home to both Riverside Shakespeare and Frog and Peach Theater Companies. Now, thanks to Woodshed Collect, West-Park takes center stage! For regular updates by Rev. Brashear, visit the West-Park Press blog.

Read on for more information
about Woodshed Collective's production of "The Tenant", as well as a recap of progress since the designation of West-Park!

* West-Park Presbyterian Church is located on Amsterdam Avenue at West 86th Street. Architect Leopold Eidlitz designed the original chapel in 1884, followed by architect Henry F. Kilburn's church addition in 1890.

Woodshed Collective presents "The Tenant" at West-Park

Members of the Woodshed Collective, rehearsing in the West-Park parish house.
Image: New York Times.
"I grew up in New York, and I have a sort of essential curiosity about what's going on in the apartment next to you," co-artistic director of Woodshed Collective Teddy Bergman (far left in the above photo) recently told the West Side Spirit. "The story kind of illustrates the sort of breakdown of the modular society in this building, and all the flaws inherent in it ...That story, to me, is a very exciting one to tell in an installation context. When we're asking people to walk around and look and explore, it's a fun mirror to hold up to the organism of the audience."

From Woodshed Collective:

Set in Paris and inspired by Roland Topor's book, which was famously adapted into a film by Roman Polanski, The Tenant is a thrilling, haunting, and grotesquely hilarious investigation into the relationship between who we are and where we live. When Monsieur Trelkovsky rents a room recently vacated by a woman who fell from her window, he soon finds his world changing in bizarre ways. Haunted by images of the previous tenant's apparent suicide and terrorized by his new neighbors, Trelkovsky begins a slow decent into paranoia and delirium. Learn more!

"The Tenant" will unfold in the Parish House of the West-Park Presbyterian Church,
165 West 86th Street (northeast corner of Amsterdam Avenue, entrance on West 86th Street). Thanks to press and old-fashioned word of mouth, the current run of shows through September 17th have already sold out! With the overwhelming popularity of the production (FREE to the public, with reservations!), we certainly hope the run will be extended! Email Woodshed Collective to show your support for additional shows!

Preserving West-Park: Looking Back to Move Forward

A 20-year community effort was thankfully rewarded on May 12, 2010, when the New York City Council affirmed the designation of the West-Park Presbyterian Church* as a NYC Individual Landmark (click here to read the designation report). The victory kickstarted a new chapter in the life of West-Park.

Here's just a snapshot at some of the recent activity of LW!, the West-Park congregants, our local elected officials, and preservation colleagues, including the New York Landmarks Conservancy, Friends of West-Park, and Preservation Alumni:

  • Long-time West-Park congregant and West Sider Jim Wadsworth secured a generous $5,000 donation from the Lois G. Roy Dickerman Fund as seed money towards replacing West-Park's failing boiler. "The boiler must be in place in order to secure the development partners and renters necessary to fulfill our emerging business plan," Rev. Brashear shared. Funding for this project has been estimated at around $42,500 and the Dickerman Fund gift--made in honor of Mr. Wadsworth's late wife, Carol--is the first dedicated donation.

  • City Council Member Gale Brewer organized a fundraiser to collect starter funds for bricks-and-mortar restoration of West-Park. The fund, managed by the New York Landmarks Conservancy, was recently put to work with roof repairs to West-Park's sanctuary and chapel. At the same time, the Conservancy spent $10,000 from a special Rockefeller Foundation grant to initiate architectural services to establish a phased exterior restoration plan. The plan will be completed this month, with a priority to facade work that will allow the removal of the sidewalk bridge at long last. A significant step in the long process of West-Park's physical rejuvenation!

    The West-Park restoration fund remains open for contributions! Checks can be made payable to "New York Landmarks Conservancy," with "WPPC" as the memo, and mailed to:

    New York Landmarks Conservancy
    ATTN: Peg Breen, President
    1 Whitehall Street
    New York, NY 10044  
  • Members of the West-Park congregation teamed with Preservation Alumni, the alumni organization for graduates of Columbia University's Historic Preservation Masters Program, LANDMARK WEST!, Friends of West-Park, and the generous team of Jack Pontes Brownstone Restorations for a day-long interior clean up of the church's sanctuary. Dusting, vacuuming, buffing, scrubbing ... you name it! Dozens of volunteers turned out to put their muscles to work for the preservation of West-Park.

  • LANDMARK WEST! worked with architects and an electrician to upgrade the church's wiring and emergency exit lighting to help make it possible for the congregation to open its doors for public events, such as a holiday craft fair in December and this summer's Bridge Concert Series.
The all-volunteer crew celebrates the successful clean-up of West-Park in December 2010.

Designation was only the beginning of what must continue to be a robust, sustained, community-wide effort. Full restoration of West-Park Presbyterian Church will be a major undertaking, but we must begin with manageable goals, such as the ongoing development of a strategic plan.

Woodshed Collective's production of "The Tenant" i
s a wonderful opportunity to see the changes that have already taken place at West-park for yourself! We'll see you at the show!

Playtime in Central Park :: Twilight reservoir run

Power to the tweeters!

Since announcing the launch of our "Playtime in Central Park" photo series (three weeks ago yesterday!) we've been delighted to see our friends and followers on Twitter (and their friends and followers in turn!) share photos and encourage others to contribute. 

You can imagine our delight when we saw a photo recommendation of the Central Park West skyline, so near and dear to our hearts, from former LW! intern and Pratt Institute HP grad Will Vogel (via Twitter).

Thanks, MacLovinNYC, for this beautiful shot of the skyline, reflected in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.  Two skylines are better than one!

The blog series continues.  Check out our submissions to date and send in your own photo(s).  New or old, all are welcome!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Landscape Architecture is "Designing Awesome"

Today via Twitter, LANDMARK WEST! learned about the American Society of Landscape Architects' (ASLA) pop-up signage project "Designed by a Landscape Architect".

Columbus Circle, NY. August 17, 2011.

The open, green spaces we enjoy--public plazas, college campuses, roof gardens, and more!--don't design themselves!  The pop-up signs, complete with QR codes to drive curious passersby to more info online, remind us of that.  LW's Cristiana and intern Kate G. scooted over to Columbus Circle this afternoon to check it out for themselves!

LW! has recently been at the front lines of advocating for the preservation and protection of a public concourse in Central Park, itself the product of thoughtful and successful landscape design: Cherry Hill.  As LW! and our preservation colleagues have testified before not one but two city agencies, Central Park--New York's first Scenic Landmark!--is all about layers! 

And the 1980s renovation and redesign of Cherry Hill by Gerald Allen (the paved concourse and fountain restoration) and Philip Winslow (the surrounding landscape) is a significant layer worthy of protection.  The 1980s is a momentous time in the life of Central Park as it was then that New York's urban oasis was rescued from its deleterious state and progressively restored to the urban green we know it to be today!

Kate G. uses her iPhone and the ASLA QR code to learn more.

LW! inspired someone else to check out the ASLA pop-up sign, too!

The northern edge of Columbus Circle.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Playtime in Central Park :: Playtime goes to the dogs, Part I

Brace yourselves:  These photos.  Are.  Adorable.

At the end of last week, our good friends at West Side Rag gave a boost to our ongoing photo series, Playtime in Central Park, with this article.  If you're not already, follow them on Twitter for the latest in interesting (and, sometimes, absurd!) Upper West Side news.  Susy N. does, saw their recommendation to take part in our photo series, and submitted the following photos. 
Clementine the bulldog, enjoying some Fountain time.
Bethesda Fountain, 2005.
Dogs frolicking in the fountain.
Bethesda Fountain, 1999.
Three Jack Russell terriers getting silly.
Bethesda Fountain, 2003.
These park-lovin' pups are just the beginning!  We're splitting Susy's photos across a few posts, for our own personal enjoyment if nothing else!  For more canine-friendly photos from Susy and her husband, Michael, check out CanisPhoto.  Thanks, Susy!!

It's not too late to get in on the photo fun yourself!  Here's how!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Celebrating Community at Amsterdam Houses Family Day

By intern Kate G. 

This past Saturday, August 15, proved to be a beautiful day for Amsterdam Houses' annual celebration of family and fun: Family Day 2011! Neighbors mingled and danced to the festive music, kids enthusiastically lined up for face painting, and young and old alike flocked to the cotton candy!

LW!'s intern Kate Gilmore, Dir. of Ed. Debi Germann, and
Dir. of Preservation Cristiana Peña manning the table!

LW!'s contributions to the day: historic photos from the construction of Amsterdam Houses (an LW! Wish List site!), in the late 1940s. The images brought back fond memories, and we spoke with many residents that shared their stories of growing up in the community. 

Sharing historic images of Amsterdam Houses with Family Day celebrants.

Featuring images of Amsterdam Houses' construction, LW's photo board
sparked many-a reminiscence among Family Day attendees!

Cristiana learns from a life-long resident of Amsterdam Houses
how the area has changed over the decades.

It’s the community members that make our historic buildings such valued treasures! No one knows this better than Margarita Curet, a 2011 "Unsung Hero", who has work tirelessly as the President of the Resident Association. Luckily, she was able to share Family Day with her own family, too! 

Resident Assoc. President Margarita Curet (center, blue) introduces LW!
to her mother (center, seated).

Volunteers from Fordham University engage with Amsterdam Houses youth.
Face painting for everyone!

We'll see you next year for Amsterdam Houses Family Day 2012!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Playtime in Central Park :: Row, row, row your boat

If it weren't for the outline of the distinguished Beresford Apartments on the horizon, you'd swear this photo was snapped in the wilds of upstate New York! 

LW's Cristiana Peña and intern Kate Gilmore snapped this photo, of boaters gliding across The Lake, on return from a site visit to the Cherry Hill Concourse (read more here ... and oh, is there more ...).

A relaxing visual note to take us into the weekend.  Add to that today's post by West Side Rag, encouraging readers to jump on our photo series bandwagon, and we're of the opinion that this day just can't get any better.  Loving summer in the city ... and especially on the Upper West Side!

Send in your photos -- past, present, you name it! -- and show us your moments at play in Central Park!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Design Commission Dismisses Layered Significance at Cherry Hill

As reported by Cristiana P.

Cherry Hill Concourse, following the 1980s renovation.

Thirty years ago, architect Gerald Allen, under the auspices of Peter Gluck & Associates, breathed fresh life into the Cherry Hill Concourse in Central Park.  Inspired by the formality of nearby Bethesda Terrace--and the iconic Campodoglio in Rome--Allen rescued the site from its previous role as a car-park wasteland. 

But a recent vote by the Public Design Commission (PDC) may have put Cherry Hill on the slippery slope back to an automobile's paradise.

This birds-eye view of Cherry Hill (from Bing Maps, 2011) show
the Concourse overtaken by vehicles.  More on this in LW's statement.

Following a May 2011 review, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) issued an Advisory Report to the PDC recommending that the brick paving at Cherry Hill be preserved.  In discussion, Commissioners stated that nothing in the materials presented to them by the Central Park Conservancy (the applicant-financier for this project)--nor from their personal experiences at Cherry Hill--indicated a need for this significant scope of work.  Read our full recap here.

The Campodoglio on the Capitoline Hill, in Rome.
Inspiration for the renovation of Cherry Hill Concourse by Gerald Allen.

After the Landmarks Commission, the next and final city agency with purview over this project is the PDC.  This past Monday, August 8th, the Design Commission met to consider the Central Park Conservancy's proposal, slightly modified from the time of the Landmarks Commission review.  Whereas the LPC's primary concern is landmark stewardship and the impact proposed modifications might have on historic resources, the PDC reviews projects with an eye for the merits of the proposed design.  Their discussion may be informed by the Advisory Report forwarded to them by their sister agency, the Landmarks Commission. 
In the case of Cherry Hill, however, the landmark status and historic significance of the site was entirely missing from the discussion.

Public testimony presented by LANDMARK WEST!, the Historic Districts Council, Defenders of the UES, the Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance, and individuals, underscored the remarks from the LPC.  Still, the Design Commissioners dismissed the 1980s Gerald Allen-designed layer of Cherry Hill as inferior to the Concourse's original Olmsted & Vaux-designed plan.  As LW! commented to WNYC in their recent coverage of this issue:

“We look at all the layers of history in Central Park ... One really builds on the richness of the next. Central Park was planned in the 1870s by Olmsted [& Vaux] and over the decades has changed to reflect the changing recreational needs of New Yorkers. We view the current Cherry Hill as an important layer in that overall history.”

Hansom carriages allow park visitors to take in the vistas
across the Lake from the Cherry Hill Concourse.

In short, and as we testified before the LPC in May, Central Park is a palimpsest ... it is all about layers!  The 1980s design is a significant marker in Cherry Hill's history--it denotes the start of the rediscovery and rebirth of Central Park into the unique oasis we know it to be today.

It is disappointing that the Public Design Commission did not recognize the value in the Advisory Report issued to them by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.  The LPC is the authority on landmark preservation, and in this instance their expert advice was dismissed by all but one of the members of the PDC.  With the Design Commission's approval, a well-functioning, well-designed and historically relevant layer of Cherry Hill--and Central Park's--evolution will be unnecessarily lost, relegated to the dumpster.  Grossly counter to the city's longterm goals for sustainability.

Stay tuned for updates on this and other park-related issues ...

Playtime in Central Park :: Work & Play

Only at a playground is work synonymous with play

This pair of circa 1972 photos come to us from a mother who said of her tyke and his friends, as they made like monkeys, climbing up trees: "Being a kid is their job, to have fun!"  We have the same mantra at LANDMARK WEST!, as some of our recent holiday antics
(here and here) prove evident.

Seeing the results of our blog readers digging deep into their photo archives is too fun!  Thank you, all!

What are YOU waiting for?  Join the funSend in your photos today!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Playtime in Central Park :: What goes up ...

... must come down, right lil' Charles S.?  Adventure Playground, just inside Central Park at West 67th Street, has gotten a good amount of bloglove during the photo series, and why shouldn't it!  As architect Richard Dattner's first adventure-style playground for Central Park, it kicked off a trend that would later include the Ancient Playground north of the Metropolitan Museum.

That equipment in the background look familiar?  We love seeing how the design of Central Park's playscapes continues to entertain young New Yorkers year after year, decade to decade.  We've seen Adventure Playground in the 70s, the 80s ... let's see it today!  Send your photo of this--or any!--Central Park play area and we'll add it to the series. 

JOIN US! Celebrate Community this Saturday at Amsterdam Houses, West 64th St.

Gather your crew; organize your tribe; rally your club.  Saturday is all about FAMILY!

Come together at Amsterdam Houses to
celebrate the spirit of community with residents and neighbors at this year's Family Day celebration!  LW! will be there (fourth year running); join us!

Held annually, Family Day is a celebration-turned-tradition set aside for residents to enjoy each other's company, barbecue, meet their neighbors, and experience a day filled with fun activities.

      WHAT:   Amsterdam Houses Family Day 
     WHEN:   Saturday, August 13th, 12PM to 7PM 
   WHERE:   Bennerson Park on West 64th Street,
                    between Amsterdam and West End Avenues
                    (click here for map

At the invitation of Residents Association President Margarita Curet (a 2011 "Unsung Hero"!), LW! has participated in Family Day at Amsterdam Houses since 2008.  Each year, we share information about the history of Amsterdam Houses and the Upper West Side.  But more importantly, we love to learn from residents what they value most about their community.*

As we celebrate the past of Amsterdam Houses, we also look ahead to its future: the children!  Debi Germann, LW!'s Director of Education, encourages Amsterdam Houses youth to explore their community in new an unexpected ways.  A materials rubbing exercise, for example, is a fun way for children to think about the bricks in the buildings and the stones on the ground in a new light.  And let's be honest, an afternoon in Bennerson Park coloring is just darn fun!  So join us!

*The Amsterdam Houses community just keeps getting better!  Thanks to the dedication of RA Pres. Margarita Curet, Councilmember Gale Brewer and many others, Amsterdam Houses opened its new media room in July.  Learn more on our blog!

Past Years at Amsterdam Houses Family Day ...

Residents Association President Margarita Curet (in yellow) and Amsterdam Houses Resident Manager Clarence Gordon, along with student volunteers from Fordham University, welcome the crowd to Family Day 2009.City Councilmember Gale Brewer (far right) joins in the festivities! 

Mark Foley, West Sider and Founder of Volunteer Music, leads children
on a sing-a-long at the 2008 celebration.

The Jazz Mobile delights residents and neighbors gathered in Bennerson Park
(from Family Day 2009; they were with us in 2008, too!). 

Brick, greenery, you name it!  This young Amsterdam Houses resident
explored his surroundings in a fun new way.

Dir. of Education Debi Germann and Dir. of Preservation Cristiana Peña manning the LW! table at Family Day 2010.  Come see us this year for Family Day 2011!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Playtime in Central Park :: Let's bowl!

Show some respect--Bowls is older than your great-great-great-great-great grandparents, and then some!

In Central Park, the New York Lawn Bowling Club gathers regularly to play a sport more than 5,000 years old.  Below, Club members put their skills to the test!

Curious?  Wanna give it a try?  Us, too!  Learn more about Bowls in this May 29, 1989, article from which the image above was excerpted.

Have a picture--new, "vintage" or otherwise--to share?  Send it in today!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Playtime in Central Park :: Friday Fun, Part II

Rollerskating at the Naumburg Bandshell

Located just a stone's throw south of Bethesda Terrace is the mecca of roller and in-line skating: the Bandshell.  It seems fitting that the Park's principal formal element--the rectilinear promenade that is The Mall and Literary Walk, which the Bandshell connects with--would be the site of some of its most free-spirited recreation!

And for those seeking aural relaxation, catch one of the season's Naumburg Orchestral Concerts!  See?  Something for everybody. 

What are you favorite playtime memories in Central Park?  Tell us!  Join in the fun of sharing your photos, new and "vintage" alike!

Playtime in Central Park :: Friday Fun, Part I

Bethesda Terrace

From the formality of pony prancing c. 1930s (thanks again, Bruce S.!), we move on to the short-shorts and tall socks of the 1970s at Bethesda Terrace!

Featuring Bethesda Terrace today is serendipitous, as the site has been at the front of our minds while LW! prepares for Monday morning's Design Commission review of Cherry Hill.  The 1980s renovation of the Cherry Hill Concourse was directly influenced by the style of nearby Bethesda Terrace.  Read more about Cherry Hill in our May blog post, and stay tuned for updates post-Design Commission!

Visit Bethesda Terrace or one of the other great Central Park locales featured thus far in this blog photo series!  Snap a photo and submit it to see yourself on the blog, too.  Fame and fortune are sure to follow ...