Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Peace Fountain of the Cathedral Church of St, John the Divine





As a continuation of my prior blog post  (click here) about the magnificent Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City, I'd like to show you the very unusual "Peace Fountain" which is located in the side yard of the cathedral. (The photo collage above---as well as all photos in this post--will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on once)  The Peace Fountain was sculpted by Cathedral Artist-in-Residence Greg Wyatt to mark the 200th anniversary of the Anglican Diocese of New York in 1985. Information from the cathedral's web site: The 40 foot high bronze sculpture weaves together several representations of the conflict between good and evil. Above, the Archangel Michael embraces one of the nine giraffes (said to be the most peaceful of creatures) after his defeat of Satan. Below, the lion lies down with the lamb. The fountain's spiraling base takes inspiration from the double-helix of DNA  On either side of the fountain, moon and sun-like faces direct their gazes toward and away from Amsterdam Avenue."



I lightened this photo so that you could see more of the detail in the sculpture


Another view of the Peace Fountain.



There is much symbolism in the fountain, and if you click on and enlarge this descriptive plaque that is at its base, you can read more about the fountain.


Around the fountain's basin are a series of small bronze animal sculptures created by K-12 students from New York City and tri-state area public, private and parochial school. Collectively known as the Children's Sculpture Garden, it represents the diverse community the Cathedral strives to serve and represent.


Close ups of some of the animals sculpted by the children.


There were also book-like sculptured plaques located in the sunken plaza in which the fountain sits,  that contained quotations of various philosophers, authors, artists and contemporary icons 


The Cathedral and its surrounding gardens and buildings form an 11.3 acre complex collectively referred to as The Close.  The Close is open to the public year round during daylight hours, with two entrances located along Amsterdam Avenue at 110th and 111th Streets.  On the grounds are the Cathedral House, the Ogilvie House, the Diocesan House, the Synod House, and the Ithiel Town Building.

The grounds also contain a Pulpit Lawn, a Biblical Garden containing all the species mentioned in the bible, and roaming peacocks and bee hives, Unfortunately, I visited the Cathedral in early March before the spring flowering, and the light was fading so I was unable to get good photos of these features.  Whenever I make a return visit to NYC I will try to re-visit to see them.


Across from the back of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine lies Morningside Park. It is a narrow strip that stretches 13 blocks through the neighborhoods of Harlem and Morningside Heights. Built on a steep incline, it contains winding paths bordered with trees and flowers that lead to a cascading waterfall. Ball fields and playgrounds make it a pleasant community park.


Driving away from the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is a view of Broadway in the Upper West Side, which is full of residential buildings.


It has been a busy time for me the past few months, as not only did I visit NYC twice, but I also visited Chicago, and the Sonoma and Napa Valleys of California, and San Francisco! My husband had quite a few business trips to those areas that we extended by a few days into mini vacations.  So I have much ahead to show on future posts from those cities as well as from my beautiful area in Colorado. Hope you will visit again soon!

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New York


The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, is the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and is located at 1047 Amsterdam Ave, in Manhattan's Morningside Heights neighborhood. (Please note that all photos in this post will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)

To paraphrase its brochure that I collected at the entrance: The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is chartered as a house of prayer for all people and a unifying center of intellectual light and leadership. People from many faiths and communities worship together in services held more than 30 times a week. The soup kitchen serves roughly 20,000 meals annually, and its Textile Conservation Lab preserves world treasures, concerts, performances, exhibitions, and civic gatherings allow conversations, celebrations, reflection, and remembrance.


The cathedral is the fourth largest Christian church in the world and ties with Liverpool Cathedral for the title of the largest Anglican cathedral and church.


The interior covers 121,000 square feet, and spans a length of 601 feet, and a height of 232 feet.



The cathedral 's construction was begun in 1892, and it went under many different style changes during its construction, beginning with a Byzantine-Romanesque Revival style and ending in Gothic Revival style.  In December of 2001 it had a massive fire, and was closed for repairs until November 2008. It remains somewhat unfinished, with construction, and restoration is a continuing process. The complete history timeline of the cathedral can be seen on its website at this link.



This was my first visit to the Cathedral, and when I entered the massive size of it took my breath away! There was scaffolding hanging form the ceiling to support an art exhibit--more about that at the end of this post.


Cathedrals seem to make a person's spirit soar because of their grandeur and architectural elegance. Considering that the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine suffered a giant fire, it was in remarkably good condition.


From west to east run three aisles of bronze floor medallions, referred to as the Pilgrims Pavement. The side aisle medallions show the names and crests of key pilgrimage sites, as well as significant sites in Angelican history.The central aisle marks the miracles performed by Jesus from birth through the Feeding of the Mulititide.



The rose stained glass window is the largest in the United States, and at forty feet in diameter it is the third largest in the world! It is made of over ten thousand pieces of glass. At its center is Jesus, surrounded by the New and Old testament prophets, as well as sixteen angels. Below it is the Lesser Rose Window, shaped like a seven-pointed star.



Each vertical set of stained glass windows is dedicated to one of the fourteen forms of human endeavor, including Labor, Medicine, Education, Military, Arts, and Sport. The ground level windows show a variety of historical and scriptural figures engaged in a particular activity--such a Jesus performing healing miracles.


This pulpit, found on the right, facing the front of the cathedral, is dedicated to the memory of Horatio Potter, Bishop of New York, 1854-1887.


Standing in the nave, looking back toward the front doors....


...looking forward from the same spot. The size of this cathedral is massive!


The stone pulpit on the left side of the cathedral, with a figure of Saint John the Divine.


Seven chapels are located from the ambulatory behind the choir. These chapels are known as the "Chapels of the Tongues, "and they were designed to represent the seven most prominent ethnic groups to first immigrate to New York City upon the opening of Ellis Island in 1892.


On permanent loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the elegantly carved wooden 15th century German choir stalls separate the Narthex from the Nave. The Cathedral campus has six organs. In the photo above you can also see a organist playing the "Great Organ," which was built by the Ernest M Skinner Company in 1910, and rebuilt and enlarged by G. Donald Harrison of Aeolian-Skinner in 1954. After the devastating fire in 2001, the Great Organ was painstakingly restored by Quimby Pipe Organs of Warrensburgh, Missouri.  The cathedral is known for its "Great Music in Great Spaces" concerts



The video above shows a special concert held at the cathedral called "Most Elevating Voices, the Musical Legacy of Andrew Carnegie: A Transatlantic Celebration featuring the voices of the Cathedral's massed choirs, the Oratorio Society of New York, the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Choir, and the famed Great Organ. (Please note there is about three minutes of the video shown before the organ music begins, and 19 minutes before the choirs begin to sing--it is magnificent to hear!)


More photos of some of the architectural and symbolic beauty of the cathedral. Please click on the photo to enlarge.


The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is often used as an exhibition space for the arts, and the current exhibit called "Phoenix"--on display through 2014--was a feat of engineering an ingenuity by contemporary artist Xu Bing, who culled detritus from constructions sites across the rapidly changing urban landscape of Beijing to transform the objects into this monumental project.


Phoenix is composed of two birds, a male called Feng and a female called Huang. Feng and Haung weigh 12 tons and measure 90-100 feet long, and are suspended in the nave.



Click on the photo collage above to enlarge the photo and read more about the Phoenix.


They were  certainly an enthralling sight to see!



One of the "Golden Doors" -- bronze front doors of the Cathedral, seen from the inside. Cast by Barbedienne of Paris, who also cast the Statue of Liberty. Each door is 18 feet high, six feet wide and weighs three tons. The doors have 60 bas relief panels that depict Old and New Testament stories on the exterior side, and flowers and birds and natural imagery on the interior side.


An interesting event that takes place the first Sunday of October at the Cathedral--the "Blessing of the Animals" in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. The church is filled with men, women and children accompanied by their pets, and assorted guest animals such as llamas, sheep, camels, long horned steers, turtles, parrots, even bumblebees, etc, are escorted down the church aisle as the ceremony begins.  It is a very joyful celebration!



The video above shows  an example of an opening procession of animals, clergy, choir, dancers and guests. You can also see a video at Time magazine on this link that shows a little more of the ceremony.

There is also the annual Blessing of the Bicycles, where hundreds of cyclists, including the vulnerable bike messengers of New York City, wheel into the Great Crossing of the church to be blessed.  You can read more about this event on this NPR link.

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is truly a magnificent place to visit, and I hope I've enticed you to want to see it someday and perhaps attend an event there. Come back soon as in a future post I'll show you a very unique and unusual fountain called the "Peace Fountain" that is located in the cathedral's 11.3 acre grounds

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Friday, May 16, 2014

The Jefferson Market Library, Greenwich Village, New York



Can you believe this beautiful Victorian Gothic building located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, located at 425 Avenue of the Americas and 10th Street,  is a branch of the New York Public Library? (All photos in this post will enlarge, for easier viewing, if clicked on)

Placards on the outside wall of the building

The Jefferson Market Library has a long and varied history.  It was built in 1876 and served as both the Third Judicial District courthouse, and then solely as women's court until 1932.


The 172 foot high turret of the building has clocks on all four sides, and was used as fire watch tower, as it once towered over the Greenwich area as the neighborhood's highest edifice. The bell that summoned the firemen at the time still hangs in the tower. There were many high profile trials that took place here, including the trail of Harry Thaw in 1906, for the assassination of an acclaimed architect Stanford White. It was a highly salacious trail of passion of the time, which you can read about on this link, as well as more interesting history about the building.


By 1945, through redistricting, court was no longer held at Jefferson Market, and the building was used by various other agencies, including the police academy. The academy left in 1958, leaving the courthouse empty destined for demolition. A group of community preservationists encouraged public outcry, and led to its remodel and reuse as a branch of the New York Public Library. In 1961, the New York Public library agreed to the plan and architect Giorgio Cavaglieri was brought in to restore the exterior and redesign the building's interior for its new use.


The library opened in 1967, and the police court became the Children's Reading Room.


The Civil Court became the Adult Reading Room.


The building retains much of its interior architectural charm.


Some of the magnificent period stained glass windows throughout the library.



If you remember, if you read this post, e.e cumming is one of my favorite poets, and when I was high school  age I was thrilled to learn that he lived for forty years in a little row house in a blind alley across the street from the Jefferson Market, from 1923 until his death in 1962.  Cummings was one of the preservationists that worked hard to save the Jefferson Market and have it turned into a library, although he did not live to see it happen.


Whenever I visit Greenwich Village I try to make a visit to Cumming's former home, just for nostalgia's sake.  I wonder who lives there now?


If you believe in "orbs" then this photo of e.e.cummings former home shows that his spirit may live there still!



In fact, I found it a little eerie when just a few blocks away I saw this balloon delivery man walking down the street....


.....I blurred his face for privacy.  I could not help but think of e. e. cummings poem "In Just, " which you can read on this Poetry Foundation link.


It is wonderful to wander around the streets of Greenwich Village and see all of its eclectic architecture from different eras. 


I loved how the Vespa parked in front on this pink hued  house matched the house's turquoise blue shutters,and had a pink seat!



Also the vintage painted sign on the side of this building with its long ago exchange name telephone number!  I remember when my childhood telephone number began with "Hickory"!



I really enjoyed my re-visit to the Jefferson Market Library, as many years ago I worked at the nearby St.Vincent's Catholic Medical Center (now sadly closed), and very often on my lunch break I would visit this library to borrow a few books.

My stroll through Greenwich Village also brought back many memories. There is a timeless feel to much of this neighborhood, even if expensive condos, and big box and chain stores are slowly edging their way into it. Thankfully, there are still many independently owned and operated stores, bookstores, restaurants, cafes and boutiques still in business and it is a wonderful area to wander around and look for surprises. Perhaps on a visit you will also see a balloon man on a "mud-luscious, puddle wonderful" day?

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