Monthly Archives: August 2014

Brooklyn Museum

(2014-08-15 085I’ve never visited the Brooklyn Museum before, so the classical building was a pleasant surprise. The new addition in front of it wasn’t so pleasant, but Caroline told me that the addition was made to stabilize the building or something; it was necessary or the building would have had to be torn down. I suppose that this was the lesser of the two evils. I’m not crazy about mixing architectures. New additions rarely look like they belong with the original building.

I had been told by a friend and colleague that the museum had a marvelous collection of ancient Egyptian art. I was impressed. They have much on the 18th Dynasty, where New Kingdom Egypt was the greatest power in the Near East. Under the reign of Akhenaten, the “Heretic King,” Egypt’s authority would decline until under Rameses II (the 19th Dynasty), the kingdom would become just another Middle Eastern power. When I taught a class at Purchase College in political science,  I covered the reign of Akhenaten. (The class was a study of sex, religion and politics.) Though Akhenaten’s revolution in religion (there was one god and it was the Aten, the sun disc) failed, the changes his reign affected in Egyptian art continued.

Of course the 18th Dynasty isn’t the only art they had. The Egyptian art went up through the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. However, this is where the Egyptian art ended; there isn’t much in the museum of Roman Egypt. Actually, I saw nothing of general Greek and Roman art. Caroline confirmed that the museum had little and was more known for its Egyptian collection.

The museum did have a few Fayum mummies and portraits. It was at this point that THE BATTERY IN MY CAMERA DIED. I should have recharged the camera, but I (foolishly) thought that I would have a large enough charge. I was wrong. This caused me to lose what was, perhaps, the most important shot for me.

(2014-08-15 135-Carolines photo)Among all the Egyptian art and artifacts, I immediately recognized a Minoan jug among the 18th Dynasty relics. Caroline was nice enough to take a picture with her phone, so I had it. The Minoans, like many of the Near East cultures, traded with Egypt, so the jug was found in one of the graves. I still thought it was so cool to find a Minoan artifact among the ancient Egyptian ones. The octopus theme was one of the popular motifs that the Minoans used in their art.

This outing concludes the trips we took around the city during the summer.



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Brooklyn Botanic Garden

(2014-08-15 014Two weeks ago, Caroline and I headed to Brooklyn to visit the Botanic Garden.

The number of times I’ve been to Brooklyn since I’ve moved here I can count on two hands. Other than visiting a friend a few times (who I haven’t seen in years), I really had no reason to go to Brooklyn. Caroline, though, was raised in Brooklyn and knows the garden and the museum next door.

The Botanic Garden is mostly outdoors and is quite beautiful. Unfortunately, it was rather humid when we went, but it was still nice. It was a sea of green wherever I looked.

There’s a new entrance being built, so the old building that held a gift shop and a café was still open, but the gift shop was gone. The café was in the basement, so we went down there for a snack before we continued on.

In the middle of the eating area was a garden with pots made into people, obviously a display for children. The children around us were more interested in screaming and running around. Caroline, who raised one child, and me, who has no children, compared notes on child-raising. Surprisingly, we had much in common, which was obviously opposite of the parents who had no control over their kids. (I like to refer to this as absentee parenting.) With headaches starting, we finished our food and went outside.

I’ve always loved Japanese gardens–except the rock gardens. I’ve never understood them or liked them. (It’s a parched environment that always makes me think of water–and thirst.) I like running water in my gardens, and non-rock Japanese and Chinese gardens have some water feature.

We had yet to visit the museum, so we reluctantly left the garden and walked next door.



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Sleepy Hollow Street Signs

Walking home from the Philipse Manor train station, it suddenly hit me that the street signs for this section of Sleepy Hollow are colored differently than the street signs in the downtown area.

Whereas the street signs in the Beekman Avenue area are orange and black, the street signs in Philipse Manor are blue and white. Why? I’ve never heard of street signs changing color in one locality.

There has to be a reason. I have a suspicion I know why, but I’m going to see if anyone at the Historical Society would know.

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Trinity Church, and Hamilton’s Tomb

NYC-Trinity Church (2014-07-24 135)While Caroline and I were wandering the streets of Old New Netherland, we went to Trinity Church. I had been here before, years ago, but I didn’t remember much about it. Caroline consulted her trusty iPhone and we discovered some of the famous people buried there. So, off on a hunt we went.

I never liked Alexander Hamilton, for a number of reasons.

Nonetheless, I found out that he was buried in the Trinity Church graveyard, so my friend Caroline and I went in search of his tomb. It wasn’t hard to find.

His wife’s tomb is right at the front of his monument. From what Caroline tells me, she was a remarkable person in her own right. Unfortunately, many good women make bad matches.

Imagine our surprise when, right next to Hamilton, we found Robert Fulton’s grave–yes, THAT Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steam-powered riverboat.

We never did find William Bradford’s tomb. (Maybe we didn’t look hard enough.)

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Photographs Needed

(2014-06-20 006I was stunned to have gotten a request for the photographs I took of the marble slabs decorating the façade of the Metropolitan Museum, when I visited.

The email was from Christine Van Blokland, who has the blog, The Curious Traveler. In conjunction with PBS, Christine is going to be doing a piece on those big slabs of marble. It won’t air until April, but Christine promised to let me know when it would be posted.

Oh, and I gave my permission for Christine to use the images. I’m flattered. I’d like to take all the credit, but a big part of it has to go to my Sony Cyber-shot. It’s a really nice camera.

Take a look at Christine’s site. There’s some good stuff, and she covers many different parts of the world.

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Update: the Search for the Headless Horseman Bridge Site

(2014 -04-05 089

The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery’s Headless Horseman Bridge

A few months ago, I said that I was going to start exploring the site of the Headless Horseman Bridge. The bridge that claims to be the site of the Headless Horseman Bridge (on North Broadway/Route 9) isn’t, but more on that in a moment. The bridge in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery also claims to be the Headless Horseman Bridge, but it isn’t, either. I haven’t, as yet, gone out walking along the Pocantico River banks to see if I can find any evidence of human construction. Instead, I started my research at the Historical Society.

Tarrytown Map

Map courtesy of the Historical Society

There is a map of Sleepy Hollow that shows how North Broadway/Route 9 was straightened in the 19th Century, long after Washington Irving had written his famous story. Where the road used to come down the hill and then curve around the Old Dutch Church–crossing the Pocantico River before reaching the church–is clearly marked on the map. The new (current) road crosses the Pocantico right in front of the church. Ironically, the old stretch of North Broadway/Route 9 is called “New Broadway.” I found this out last Saturday when I volunteered.

Anyway, I re-photographed the section on the map that I’m talking about. (Blowing up the existing photograph didn’t work.) The dotted line indicates the new stretch of road, and the new (current) bridge across the Pocantico is clearly not crossing in the same spot as the old bridge, which is marked, “Bridge where Icabod Crane had his encounter with the Headless Horseman.” The place where the old and new roads converge is right in front of the Old Dutch Church, which is marked as a 3-sided square with a 3-sided dome.

Sleepy Hollow Bridge

The Headless Horseman Bridge as Irving saw it (Photograph courtesy of the Historical Society)

Disney, always taking artistic license with whatever they touch, in The Adventures of Icabod and Mr. Toad shows a covered bridge that Icabod is crossing as the Headless Horseman pursues him. This could not be farthest from the truth. The bridge that Washington Irving saw over the Pocantico didn’t even resemble the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery bridge. There is a photo of the bridge as Irving saw it. Again, it’s from the Historical Society’s archives. The shape is radically different from the cemetery’s and the Disney versions.

I’ll continue to update as I find out more.


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