Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Metropolitan and The Essex

October 1985

I always liked this picture for the two-tone effect of the almost-silhouetted foreground and background and the way the midtone grays give a sense of distance to the buildings.  If the buildings were as dark as the trees they'd seem as if they were both on the same plane.  As it is, they're actually on three different planes.

The foreground trees are in Central Park, somewhere around the Wollman Rink.  The Essex House and its neighbor to the east, the twin-chimenied Hampshire House, have been side-by side on Central Park South (W. 59th Street) since the early 1930's.  Looming behind them (and two blocks south, on West 57th, forming the third plane) is the northeast face of the 78 story Metropolitan Tower, a triangular residential building which had just topped out around the time of this photo, and would be completed two years later.

I had wanted to use this picture back in 2007 for my other website, Images of the Lost City, but was frustrated by my inability to find its location in the park: after twenty-two years the trees had grown to the point where nothing was visible.  It would have been an interesting sight, too, since almost as soon as this building opened, another, taller building (though with 14 fewer stories, curiously), the Carnegie Hall Tower was constructed a mere thirty feet to the west.  The six-story Russian Tea Room stands between them.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

But Wait, There's More!

November 7, 2011

The Friends Meeting House is on Old Jericho Turnpike in Jericho.  Easily overlooked, next to a multi-story professional building on the edge of a commercial area.  The cemetery behind it is hidden by trees from Route 25, and about ten feet above the roadway, so you'd never see it driving by.  I noticed it on my map, and seeing it was near a few others, decided to see what was there.  Walking in I knew right away there wasn't anything to interest me: all the markers were identical, two and a half-foot high dark granite stones, all mostly 20th century burials.  The meeting house dated from the 1700's, but any stones from that period must have weathered away long ago.  Worse, all the stones faced north, away from the light, and this type of granite is hard enough to read even in good light.

I wandered about anyway, after all, I was here, but frankly, this was a boring place. But there's always something...  

Now, I've been to dozens of cemeteries here on the Island, and I've seen every sort of phrasing possible carved on gravestones; from tortured verse on the passing of a child (Lynbrook - "Ah, no more can we list to her laughter/nor see the fond light in her eye/Like a flower she blossomed and faded/T'was God's will that the dear one must die.") to extended descriptions of the manner of death (a 19th century man in Commack, 'by a waggon loaded with hay running over his brest') to the diseases that killed them (Southampton, 'died of the Smallpox', late 18th century).  I've learned that 18th century wives were often referred to as 'consorts', and then 'relicts' a hundred years later.  I've seen huge stones with space for a half-dozen names yet having but one, often that of a young woman, carved off to one side, with the rest of the stone blank.  I've even seen a gravestone for a man who survived a shipwreck.

So here's to Andrew Dott, Jr., the newest addition to my list of odd stones, for the past forty-two years beckoning passersby to 'See Other Side' and read his wife's curious verse:

Quaker Cemetery, Jericho, N.Y.