Friday, May 25, 2012
From the Big Easy to the Big Apple
As we left New Orleans a while back I wondered why its nickname was “The Big Easy.” I found several explanations for the name. Some say it came after Mark Twain wrote that New Orleans was “The City that Care Forgot” because of the easy-going nature of its inhabitants. Others say it was because a dance hall was called “The Big Easy” in the early 1900s and also because it was easy for musicians to find work there. Another version is attributed to a columnist from the local newspaper the Times Picayune who gave the city this name in the 1970s and finally there was a film in 1987 entitled The Big Easy which was set in New Orleans. In any case I found out that many of the locals don’t like that name. Below is a vintage postcard of the skyline of New Orleans or The Big Easy.
Several days after our return home from New Orleans we flew to New York to see a special exhibit – I’ll have a post on it later. I started to wonder why New York was nicknamed “The Big Apple.” I found that it was first used in the 1920s by John J. Fitz Gerald, a columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph. He wrote articles on New York horse-racing and would call New York the “big apple.” Other writers began using the nickname and when in the early 1970s the New York tourist organization launched a marketing campaign they promoted the city as “The Big Apple.” Below is a vintage postcard of the skyline of New York City or The Big Apple.
We left for New York City on 16 May, 2012. This was the big day when the Atlanta airport opened its new International Terminal. Until then everyone had to pass through the domestic terminal. We came early that day as we thought this celebration would create delays, but it did not. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is already rated the busiest airport in the world – based on the largest number of passenger annually and most aircraft movement annually. (Please click on any collage to enlarge the pictures and then on each picture.)
The flight from Atlanta to New York La Guardia Airport takes about 1 hour 40 minutes or so (distance is 748 miles or 1204 kms.) It had been raining several days prior to our arrival but during our stay we had perfect weather, sunny, in the 70s F (24 C) and low humidity – the same weather as we had in New Orleans. I had a window seat and could see the landscape as we approached the airport.
This time our taxicab used the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to bring us to our hotel. We had not been on this bridge before. It goes over the East River and Roosevelt Island and was completed in 1909. Below is a vintage postcard of the bridge
I tried to take pictures with my little Panasonic Lumix camera, but the cab was moving fast and it was not easy.
At our budget hotel in New York upper West Side we were given a room with a view of the Hudson River. Last October our room was on a higher floor so we could see more of the river and New Jersey from our window. This time we saw more greenery.
It was still early so we went out for a walk. The American Museum of National History is only 4 blocks away and we took another peek inside (to be in a future post) then crossed the street to enter Central Park. We walked in Central Park last October down toward Strawberry Fields and the memorial to John Lennon (I took many pictures then and will have to make a post later.) This time we walked up and stopped to take a picture at Bank Rock Bay.
We also stopped on the newly restored Oak Bridge at Bank Rock Bay. It was originally built of white oak, in 1860, and restored in 2009 to its original look. Historic photographs and records were used to copy the decorative cast iron set in the railings. Below is a collage of the new bridge and a stereoscopic view of the original bridge I found on Wikimedia Commons.
Standing on this bridge I could see many turtles swimming in the small bay below. Some were quite large.
Every time we visit New York City we go to Central Park. It is so large and varied with such a rich ecological community that it is a joy to walk on its many paths. In 1857 the city selected Frederic Law Olmsted and the British architect Calvert Vaux to design and create the park. More than 3 million cubic yards of soil were moved and 270,000 trees planted by 20,000 workers to create the pastoral landscape. To blast out the rocky ridges more gunpowder was used than was later fired at the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. It was opened in 1859 and by 1865 more than seven million visitors came yearly to the park. Below is a vintage postcard of Central Park.
In 2006 I purchased the Central Park Conservancy map and guide. It gives a lot of information on the park such as: every season 17,600 pounds of seed are used to reseed the lawns.
There are over 9,000 benches in Central Park. If placed end to end they would cover seven miles (11.2 kms.) They are a diverse lot crafted from wood, iron in different sizes and styles. I have taken many pictures of the benches over the years like the unique semicircular marble bench created by Waldo Hutchins below (1822-1891.) This year I took pictures of old wooden benches set among peaceful areas and flowers.
There are 55 sculptures and monuments in the park viewed by 38 million visitors per year (more than the annual combined attendance of Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art and the Bronx Zoo.) It is the most visited urban park in the US. Pedestrian pathways cover 58 miles (93.3 kms.) Below is one of the pathways we used.
Central Park is home to many birds and more than 270 species of migratory birds stop in the park as well. Below are a couple of birds I photographed while resting on a bench.
There is so much biodiversity in the 843 acres of Central Park (3.41 km²): plants, trees, wildlife, ponds, lakes and a multitude of flowers. It is a great escape from the noise and the crowds on the streets of Manhattan.
We walked up the path to Belvedere Castle, which we had not seen before. This small Victorian castle was created by Calvert Vaux in 1869. Below is a vintage postcard of the castle.
This charming Gothic-style castle sits on Vista Rock. It was designed as a landmark for visitors to the park. The views from the balconies are spectacular. It was too late for us to enter the building which is now a visitor’s center and never was a castle. Inside is a collection of skeletons, microscopes, telescopes and papier maché birds. It is called The Henry Luce Nature Observatory. We’ll have to come again another time.
It was almost 6:00 pm so it was a bit dark to take pictures, but I kept at it as I really liked the old stones and the view from this high point in the park.
My husband was also looking at the view, but when I came closer to him I saw that he was looking at a duck perched on a rock in the pond below.
Before leaving the park we sat on a bench in a small area empty of people. We watched the New York skyline visible behind a wooden fence. Then a couple of people came across the path carrying a radio. We could faintly hear some baroque music. They never looked at us and started dancing. Another couple of people introduced themselves to the first couple and they started to dance with them. Then a man with a small child came and introduced himself to them and they all curtsied and went on dancing like in a farandole. Perhaps they were rehearsing a show? We watched them for a while, and then we left.
We had seen so much in just a few hours in New York that we felt we had been there a full day. We went back to our room in time to watch the sun go down.