"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Category: NYC Memories and Moments

Where & When: Game 35

Hello again! What, are you up for another adventure with Where & When? If not, come back in a few minutes for the answer, because our regulars would actually give Joseph Tacopina an ounce of shame (it is possible).  Today’s gambit is sponsored by my nephew Isaiah, who slept over last night as I wrote this post. He may or may not appear in future posts as I bring more areas to bear for your scrutiny (in the present, of course).  Meanwhile:

Where & When Game 35

click on pic to enlarge

Ah, another break from the classics; and I bet this one has Fearless Leader very interested.  But I’m not going to make this one too easy. You can probably tell where this is, especially if you were around town in this era, but how many of you know about any of the other features in this picture? There’s quite a bit of interesting history contained here, so I’m looking for at least three features in this pic that have either a back story or something interesting going on today. The bonus question is what you know of regarding one of the features here that’s also become an institution in it’s own right.  You have thirty seconds, no, you have all morning and afternoon to figure it out and post your answer in the comments. I am curious to see how long it takes to find the Easter eggs in this one.

Again, full credit and a full mug of contraband to the first one who finds the proper names and history or current aspect of significant features in this picture (hint: there are three that I’m most concerned with).  The rest of us get a bowl of chicken noodle soup.  The bonus will get you a shot of contraband in your chicken noodle soup >;)

So, I’ll try to be back in the evening to sort out the mess here.  Good luck, and if you have any personal stories about this area, please feel free to share! And don’t peek at the photo credit or you’re fired (that’s nephew’s two cents).  Enjoy!

[Photo credit: wavz13

Where & When: Game 28

Hi folks, and welcome back to another rousing version of Where & When.  The year is coming to a close soon, which means I have some calculating to do; in the meantime I must warn you that the games may be slowing down soon for the holidays and for the fact that I need to find more places to cull challenges from; harder to find challenging pictures than you would think.  I also did promise some expansion of territory and insight on certain places; don’t think I forgot about that, but it does require time to do and this might be the best time to do such a thing.

With that in mind, let us glance thusly at this edifice:

Where & When Game 28

Imposing. Scary looking, in fact. Maybe not so much now; this is not the original version of the edifice, nor is it the current version (some modifications in the 60′s were made to conform to the contemporary standard policies on appearances), but interesting for two reasons: it is the first of its kind in this particular borough, and it’s located a half a block away from my first residence in the city; in fact my little strip of a street was an anomaly of sorts in that it had no true origin; at the least it was probably wiped out by urban planning and development in some years prior.

So there is a name and address for this building since it still exists, however since this pic is undated, I will ask that you give dates to when the original structure was actually built as well as the year of this redux and subsequent renovations.  I would offer a bonus, but it would be a dead giveaway, so I’ll just tell you that there is a bit of trivia connected to this place that might interest certain people; I in fact have at least one thing in common with the subject of this info.  That, or name the other street I referred to in my description above. Have I got some stories about that…

So, that’s rather vague, but this one is not really hard.  A tanker of Duffy’s Rowdy for the first with the answers, and a Foxon Park for the peanut gallery. Enjoy the game, I’ll get back to you soon and don’t click on that photo credit!

[Photo credit: Patheos.com]

Where & When: Game 20

Welcome Back to Where & When.  This will be a special edition to highlight the recent loss of a cultural icon.  For several generations and cultures who inhabit the city, this was their Penn Station. I present this without further comment, but feel free to post thoughts.

Where & When 20-1

New York Graffiti Landmark 5 Pointz Continues To Appeal Demolition

Tuesday, November 19, 2013:

Where & When 20-3 111913

Where & When 20-4

 Here is a Google Gallery of what was 5 Pointz. 

Here is a little history.

Where & When: Game 15

Welcome back to another challenge with Where & When, where you follow sketchy trails to get finer details when you have the time to do so.  I have to admit, the last game was pretty interesting and generated a bit of feedback, so I’m inclined to keep that same format for the time being and hope that it will attract new players and get more people talking.  We’ve got a long, long winter ahead of us, so why not at least make it interesting?  Natch.

Oh, and speaking of sketchy, here’s an interesting sketch:

Where & When 15

As I’ve mentioned before, this could be pictures of any type; this is probably the first time that I’ve had a drawing to use for a challenge, but the good news is the structure is still standing and in fact was landmarked within the last decade.  It is within city limits, so you don’t have to scramble too far for clues.  One last clue: there’s been a sort-of battle of wits with the community and a well-known business intent on setting up shop in the area that would likely prefer not having to deal with this structure, but is obligated to restore it under their present agreement with the owner.  They’ve done some work on it already, which is not half-bad, considering.

So as with last time, I am allowing answers to be posted in the comments so that we can generate a hearty conversation about the general area.  What I’m looking for is the name of this building (original or according to the landmark commission, which are fairly the same) and the date it was built, which I’m sure you will find if you know what the name of the building is.  An Appalachian for the first person with both answers and a Goose Island for the followers. Enjoy the game, I’ll try to hit everyone up this afternoon.  Oh, and by the way…

I’m introducing a new feature to the game that’s not necessarily part of the game, but an additional topic of discussion.  I hinted at it from the last game, but I’ve realized that time constraints have forced me to table this feature until later. However, that does not mean that you can contribute or anticipate it’s coming (the nature of my field predicts that I’ll have time in the winter season to fully introduce this part), but as a teaser, I will give you a sampling of what is in store. Again in the last game, the town that was spotlighted was Sleepy Hollow, NY, a place I am intimately familiar with.  I intend to feature places up and down the Hudson Valley (on both sides of the river, of course) to relate some interesting tidbits, history and points of interest.  Sleepy Hollow, in fact, has quite a lot of each; so much so that it would be impossible to do a quick post in just one game.  But I could highlight a particular feature and come back at another time…

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow includes references to quite a few real places and people from Washington Irving’s time; the church, the bridge, Van Tassel and so on.  The route that Ichabod Crane traveled on during his ride with the Great Pumpkin, er, the Headless Horseman, is highlighted as a walking tour through the Tarrytowns (Tarrytown and North Tarrytown as it were) along present-day Broadway, which also includes a few other historic markers and locations related to the American Revolution and Hollywood royalty.  Then there’s also the waterfront, which also features interesting stories of it’s own.  I’ll get to all of these stories over time, but if you have any particular stories relating to those points of interest, feel free to share them below.  There will be more of these types of stories in the future. Talk with you all soon!

[Photo Credit: Pardon Me For Asking]

New York Minute

Seen. Sticker on a muni-meter on Bleecker Street, two nights ago.

That’ll Be the Day

Dig this New Yorker “Talk of the Town” item (May 1, 1943) by Joseph Mitchell.

It’s a perfect miniature of his work–a poem, really–his book of revelations:

An air-raid warden we know, a young woman who holds down the desk in her sector headquarters in Greenwich Village twice a week from nine to midnight, is occasionally visited by the policeman on the beat. This policeman, who is elderly and talkative, dropped in the other night, sat down, grunted, placed his cap and nightstick on the desk, and said, “I’m a man that believes in looking ahead, and I been walking around tonight thinking over the biggest police problem this great city will ever have; namely, the day the war ends. I got it all figured out. I know exactly what’ll happen. Half an hour after the news gets out there won’t be a thing left in the saloons but the bare walls. Then the people will tear down the doors on the liquor stores and take what they want, a bottle of this, a bottle of that. Then they’ll go to work on the breweries; they’ll be swimming in the vats. Old ladies will be howling drunk that day. Preachers won’t even bother to drink in secret; they’ll be climbing lampposts and quoting the Bible on the way up. And some young fellow will trot up to the Central Park Zoo and break the locks. The elephants will be marching down Fifth Avenue, and the lions and the tigers, two by two; we’ll be six weeks getting the monkeys out of the trees. And they’ll ring all the church bells until they crack; they’ll jerk the bells right out of the steeples. And you know that big sireen in Rockefeller Center; somebody will get hold of that, and he won’t be torn loose until they shoot him loose. And they’ll unscrew the hydrants all over town; the water will be knee-deep. And people will be running around with their shoes off, wading in the water and singing songs. I can see the whole scene. And the ferryboat captains will give one toot on their whistles and run the ferryboats right up on dry land, and the bus drivers will run the buses right into the water. And the passengers will take charge of the subway trains, and they’ll run them right up into the open air. You’ll hear a racket and a roar, and you’ll look around, and here’ll come a subway train shooting right through the pavement. And husbands will be so happy they’ll beat their wives, and wives will beat their husbands, and the tellers in banks will gang up and beat the bank presidents, and and the ordinary citizens will tear down big buildings just so they’ll have some bricks to throw.” The policeman laughed and slapped his knee. “What a day of rejoicing!” he said. “What a police problem! I hope to God I live to see it!”

New York Minute


I’m on the train the other day on my way to work. A woman I worked with almost twenty years ago gets on and stands in front of me. She doesn’t see me and I look down at my book because I don’t want to make conversation.

We weren’t friends but worked in the same restaurant for about a year.  Well enough to remember, long enough ago to forget. I read my book and then looked up, her crotch a foot-and-half away from my face.

We got off at the same stop. She didn’t look at me and I didn’t get the satisfaction of her seeing me but not being able to place the face.

[Drawing by Adrian Tomine]


New York Minute

Last night I was waiting on the uptown platform at 103rd Street. There was a kid playing the guitar across the tracks and at first I didn’t notice him but then I couldn’t help but listen. He wasn’t playing a song just jamming. I waited for him to finish so that I could applaud. He was good. But he didn’t stop. So I saw that my train wasn’t coming yet and ran up the stairs, crossed over to the other side, ran down the stairs and threw a dollar in the kid’s guitar case.

“You are doing work,” I said.

When I got back to the uptown platform I was able to capture this just before my train rolled into the station.

Soul Surfer

Listening to that dude play made my day.

[Photo Credit: Frederick JG]

New York Minute

My grandparents lived across the street from the Museum of Natural History and my brother, sister, and I visited them almost every weekend. They weren’t the kind of grandparents to get down on the floor and play with children so when they wanted to get us out of the apartment they took us across the street. It got so the museum was like an extension of their place–over-heated and boring. That’s what I remember of it, anyhow. We had to be well-behaved. Man, it was tedious.

I stayed away from the museum for years and it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I went back. And I realized it was a great, mysterious place. I especially loved the scenes like the one pictured above  and recognized then how big an impression they’d made on me as a kid.

[Photo Credit:  Joel Zimmer]

New York Minute

Waiting to cross the street last night in my neighborhood, guy walks up next to me, late forties, early fifties. We see a car nearby looking to park. Guy says to me, “He’s not going to find a spot. I just came around the block, nothing, drove around again and found one. I always have luck since I came here.”

I ask where he’s from and he says California.

“I always find a spot and after the hurricane people would be waiting hours for gas, I went, twenty minutes I was done.”

He was bragging. The light turns and we cross the street.

“Well, it’ll come around and even out,” I say. “Karma does that.” I don’t mean to use to word Karma but that’s how it comes out.

“No, I’m a good person so I’ve got nothing but good Karma. That can never touch me in a bad way. Just remember if you are a good person you’ll always have Karma on your side”

I thought of saying something else but let it and him go.

[Photo Via: Eye Heart New York]

New York Minute

When I was growing up my father told me that the best hot dogs in New York were from Nathan’s. The real Nathan’s he said was out in Coney Island and he even took my brother, sister and me out there a few times. Mostly, though, when he was inspired to treat us, he brought us to the Nathan’s in Times Square.

Remember the spot?

[Photo Credit: Retro New York]

New York Minute

I’ve talked a lot about The Ginger Man, my old man’s bar of cherce when I was a kid. Well, one of the coolest things about that block, 64th Street just off of Broadway, was this:

I found this picture at The Time Machine, a cool, though defunct site by Neil J. Murphy. Worth poking around.

Thanks to the consistently stellar Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York for the tip.

New York Minute

There used to be a cop that stood on the corner of 103rd Street and West End Avenue when I was a kid. Early 1970s. His name was Wallace. He had a nightstick. We stopped and said hello to him every time we saw him. He always had a smile and it never dawned on me that cops were just cops, men without names, because of Wallace.

[Photo Credit: Dick Leonhardt]

New York Minute

Sunset in Manhattan. I remember walking up Broadway during the summer as a teenager. As I crossed each block, I’d look down past West End Avenue and chart the sun lowering in the sky until it had disappeared beyond the Hudson River and the sky was pink and orange. It was like a walking flip book. Then the lights from the stores and traffic signs and cars popped on the city street. Magic hour, that surreal moment between night and day when everything seemed like it was out of a movie.

[Photo Credit: Atenacius via This Isn’t Happiness ]

New York Minute

From Charles Simic:

No city displays its mixture of beauty and ugliness as brazenly as New York does. It’s one thing to see a city with cathedrals and other church towers from an approaching train as one does in Europe and another to see Manhattan with buildings of every size thrown together more or less haphazardly and its streets packed with humanity all coming into view simultaneously. I still can’t believe my eyes every time I see it.

[Photo Credit: A crowd watching the news line on the Times building at Times Square, NYC, on D-day, June 6, 1944. Large-format nitrate negative by Howard Hollem or Edward Meyer, Office of War Information…via New York History]

New York Minute

Nothing says New York, or at least Manhattan, like a water tower. I remember looking out of the window at my grandparent’s apartment as a kid. They lived on 82nd street between Columbus and Central Park West. On the ninth floor. I’d look north at the cityscape and I knew why I liked Edward Hopper’s paintings. I’d see the brownstones and on the top of them the water towers. I never understood what they were for, how the water got in or out of them.

Today, I just know that I feel comforted when I see them.

[Photo Credit: The Great Retro New York]

New York Minute


Man, just another great shot from the New York Times‘ tumblr site. I remember this Times Square ad well. Actually gave me the chills seeing it again.

I had the King Kong lunch box and thermos when I was in first grade. Dag.

New York Minute

A friend of mine sent me this New York Times piece by Corey Kilgannon the other day:

Thirty-three years ago, an office worker named Ludwika Mickevicius left her native Poland and became Lucy the bartender in the East Village.

Her proletarian toughness and heavy Polish accent played well with the punks and rebels at Blanche’s bar on Avenue A, near Seventh Street. Ms. Mickevicius became so synonymous with the place, the owner renamed it Lucy’s and then sold her the business 15 years ago.

As the East Village cleaned up around it, Lucy’s remained the prototypical dive bar: a comfortable cave bathed in low red light, with a dingy dropped ceiling and worn linoleum on the floor. One arcade game, one jukebox, two pool tables, two small drinking tables, a dozen stools and a heavy oak bar. All are steeped in the character of Ms. Mickevicius: straightforward and practical. No frills, no nonsense, no whining.

“Many people hear about me and they come in and say, ‘Lucy, don’t change anything; we like it like this,’ ” she said. “Plus, change costs a lot of money.”

The story would have made Joseph Mitchell smile.

My friend used to go to Lucy’s years ago. He told me:

A past relationship of mine, we were a pair of heavy users, and recognized that we were in love. We hung out  at Lucy’s, never called it more than that, in the bag, leaning on the bar making sure we continued the “feeling better” part. We squeezed each other and made out. We loved to scream at each other.  Lucy had to break us up or shut us up. Her advice: “Why don’t you both get married”! Stoned and drunk we looked and said “why not?”

From that point forward we were going to get married. Started speaking to each other about living together. But within two weeks, I could not find her. I spoke to a friend of hers who had told me that she couldn’t handle it and just got in her car and drove west, ending up in San Francisco. She cleaned up and I finally heard from her, apologetic. She ended up marrying another artist/grease monkey out there and seemed happy.

Within a year I got a call, Her husband dryly stated that she died of an overdose, in a corner of a room with the needle stuck in her arm. He sent me her driver’s license and her death certificate along with one photo I always loved of her.

I still miss her, or maybe I really miss what could have been.

[Photo Credit: Robert Simonson]

New York Minute

Found on the walk between uptown pre-schools a few weeks ago: one of New York City’s greatest mysteries.

To me, anyway. The first time I remember seeing sneakers strung across telephone wires I was in the Bronx around Yankee Stadium. I asked why, and I’m sure I received an answer, but the answer didn’t have sufficient tack to stay with me.

Here are a bunch of theories, though not exclusive to New York. I like the idea that when you get a new pair, you throw the old ones up there. And since my wife snapped this pic on a block between my kids’ schools, let’s be tooptimistic and rule out the crack, murder and gang-related explanations.


New York Minute

I saw a father and his two sons walking up 238th street this morning on my way to work. The two boys were on either side of him and couldn’t have been older than four or five.

As I passed them one of the boys said, “Daddy, how does a one hundred-year-old-man walk?”

The father smiled but I didn’t hear him answer.

That’s a good question, I thought.

“Slowly,” I wanted to answer but they were already gone.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver