Governors Island; a trip back through history

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Governors Island, where do I start?

I thought I knew all of New York City. I’m amazed that I am often finding myself in areas that I had never been before and this past weekend was no exception. A few of us went on an adventure, to another land, which was only 800 yards from downtown Manhattan. It’s so close, yet is its own world.

Governors Island was settled briefly by the Dutch in 1624 but its main claim to fame is being a military base from 1794 to 1996, when it closed. It was home to the US Army and then the US Coast Guard. In 2001, President Clinton established the 22-acre as a national park and in 2003, President Bush transferred the remaining 150 acres to the people of New York.

From being used as a base in the American Revolutionary War to a National Park today, is some transformation, yet so much of it is like going back in time. It remains like it has for 200 years or so.

The island is open from May 1 to October 1 each year and it’s a pity because Governors Island would be a perfect place for a pumpkin patch and Christmas village. It’s a bit Williamsburg, VA and a bit of old Boston. There’s a meadow you come upon and you swear you are in “Little House on the Prairie,” as you see no surrounding buildings. All at once, you come upon an old movie theater where you think you are on the back lot of “The Waltons,” and the houses – the colonial houses which surround a sort of green square takes you back to a simpler time – all this mere feet from Brooklyn.

And the fantasy of the whole thing is that you have to arrive by ferry! There are ferries from different areas of the city, so hop on one and head over. The ferry ride itself is a beautiful experience as you glide by New York’s skyscrapers and cruise under its many bridges.

Once you get to the island, there is more than enough to do. Take in the greenery and quaintness and history. This is real history all surrounded by nature.

There is free kayaking and picnic lunches and biking and food trucks and hammocks and mini golf and so much more; and the best part has to be what they call “The Hills.” There is one hill, which seems like a mini-mountain, it is 70 feet above sea level. It is sort of like climbing a pyramid. There are large pyramid-style rocks piled up and you climb to the top – the only way to get there. Once at the top the first thing you see is the Statue of Liberty right in front of you in the harbor, you feel as if you can reach out and touch her.

Turn around and there, sparkling in the distance is downtown Manhattan and Jersey City. The view is spectacular. I sat there on a large rock and just watched people’s reactions as they turned and saw the view for the first time. Amazing.

There are events throughout the summer like the Poetry Festival and the Scavenger Hunt, there are art exhibits and so much more.

You can spend each weekend there during the season and find something new to do each weekend. For more info, check out their website at: https://govisland.com

Is this the first animated cartoon?

This is the first animated cartoon, released in July 1913, heck, it’s one of the first movies period. No, it’s not “Steamboat Willy.” That was 1928. And Gertie the Dinosaur was done in 1914.

It’s called ” The Artist’s Dream; The Dachshund and the Sausage.” It shows a live cartoonist, J.R. Bray, drawing the cartoon and then shows the animation.

Colorizing history

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The BBC has an interesting little video. It’s about two minutes long, you can see it here.

See this photo? This is Lewis Powell, the photo was taken in 1865. This guy looks like a model whose photo was taken today! Lewis was involved in Lincon’s assination.

Almost reminds me of that “hot convict” Jeremy Meeks. He’s a good looking bad guy.

Marina Amaral from Brazil, colorizes black and white historical photos which really bring them to life.

I was thrown out of the New York Historical Society

So on my quest to see how the New York City museums work, I went to the New York Historical Society museum on the upper West side. I didn’t pay and I was sort of thrown out. A guard stopped me on the top floor and asked for my proof of payment.

I never had this happen before. I usually don’t wear the paper badge or pin at any of the museums after paying and no one ever stopped me.

To be honest, I have gone to the Historical Society Museum without paying in the past, only once, but it’s so easy to do as they don’t accost you at the door like the rest of the museums. The payment desk is far from the entrance, it’s almost hidden. But be sure that you may be accosted by a nosy guard up on the third or fourth floor.

I told him I would go down to pay, but since I didn’t see the Keith Harring work anywhere, I just left, I’ve seen the other stale exhibits 100 times so it wasn’t worthy paying and staying.

Visiting the Hoboken Train Terminal

Every time I am in New York, I find myself hopping over to Hoboken, New Jersey. There is something about Hoboken that I love. I think it is the New England fee of this mile square city. You can get there by ferry or by PATH train, I usually take the train and I exit through the 100 year old Hoboken Terminal (built in 1907), before the terminal was built the property was used as a ferry point since colonial times.

I visited Hoboken today, had lunch and strolled around. It was beautiful. Sunny and 72 degrees.

Here are some pictures I took of the Hoboken Terminal and area nearby, showing Manhattan in the background, one train stop under the Hudson River.

This is the PATH train entering the station.

This is above the PATH trains where the New Jersey Transit enters and exits the Terminal.

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The NY newspaper strike of 1945

I came across this YouTube film about the New York City newspapers strike of 1945. It was a 17-day event. It’s quite interesting to see how people coped, or didn’t cope.

There were an amazing eight daily newspapers in New York at that time and people devoured the papers morning and night. This was before tv and apparently before radio news. Everyone got their news and a lot of their entertainment from daily newspapers and they were addicted to them.

After awhile, people realized during the strike that you could actually get your daily newspaper fix by simply going to the actual newspapers and purchasing the newspaper there. The truckers and delivery people were on strike, so the papers were being printed, just not delivered to the thousands of newsstands and homes. This was the era that Mayor Fiorello Laguardia read the comics to everyone over the radio, describing the goings on in the funny pages.

I find it amazing how many millions of newspapers were published and purchased daily. The New York Daily News alone was selling over 900,000 copies to people who came by the newspaper on foot. People would wait for hours to purchase the daily newspapers. That is 900,000 plus people stepping into the Daily News building to purchase the paper. They figured it was 30,000 people per hour!

Cops waited down in the subway and they told people to get off at the 33rd Street station rather than 42nd Street, where the NY Daily News building was, because the line went all the way from 42nd Street to 33rd Street!

The newspapers were: The Sun, The World-Telegram, the Journal American, The Daily News, The Post, The New York Times, the Herald Tribune and the Mirror. Eight dailies.

So many of the scenes in these films are still there – the Sun building was just restored, it sits near City Hall downtown, and while the Daily News has moved, their building on 42nd Street is still there.

Listen to the numbers as you watch these — the circulation numbers. Amazing. This was the period when the New York Daily News usually sold 2 million copies a day and over 4 million copies on Sundays.

The 1966 newspaper strike killed so many newspapers in New York City, but at least in 1945, the 17-day strike didn’t cause much harm and just proved how addicted people were to their newspapers – the social media of the time.