Friday, April 27, 2012

I Saw the Space Shuttle Enterprise Fly Over NYC This Morning

There is the Enterprise Space Shuttle in all its glory! 

The Space Shuttle Enterprise flew atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft from Dulles Airport outside Washington DC this morning to New York City, flying down New York Harbor over the Verrazano Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and down the Hudson River to ultimately fly over the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on Manhattan's West Side, where it will be put on display in June.

A friend and I went over to the Louis Valentino Jr Park and Pier in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York to see the shuttle's flyover.  The pier, named as a memorial to an NYC firefighter who died in the line of duty, offers good views of the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, Manhattan's skyline, Staten Island, and the New York Harbor.  There we waited with many other excited people and photographers. At around 10:30 AM we saw the first glimpse of the shuttle approaching the Verrazano Bridge.

It was a magnificent sight to see!

I was happy I had my most powerful zoom lens with me so that I was able to get some good close-ups as the shuttle flew over us and towards the Statue of Liberty.

As you can see there were many visitors at the base of the statue on Liberty Island.

The shuttle flew at a high angle over the Statue of Liberty, so I wasn't able to get a photo of both of them together, but I heard it was going to swing back down the Hudson River again after it flew over the Intrepid, so I hoped to get that photo later. In the meantime, I took a few extra shots which you can see in the mosaic above of the statue, the orange Staten Island Ferries, Ellis Island, an NYPD helicopter, and the Freedom Tower ( 1 World Trade Center) at Ground Zero in the distance. The tower is expected to become the highest building in New York City next week, as construction continues.  We soon saw the shuttle returning from the east for its next flyover.

Its fighter jet escort is visible in this photo

This time it was flying at a lower altitude so I could get it in frame with the Statue of Liberty.

 It was a very exciting and proud moment to see this wonderful tribute!

Some more closeups of the Enterprise. 

I heard on the radio that this shuttle was initially going to be named the "Constitution," but a letter campaign initiated by Star Trek fans to the White House and NASA to name the new shuttle after the science fiction TV show's "Starship Enterprise," influenced the then President Ford to have the name changed.  As a former "Trekie," I think it was a very inspirational name change!

The shuttle flew over the Verrazano Bridge another time...

....turned to the right...

....and flew towards Staten Island. It must have flown over parts of eastern New Jersey as we next saw it swing around ...

......and return from over the Bayonne Bridge in New Jersey

It was going to do one more fly by over the Statue of Liberty, so all the photographers on the pier were quickly set up their cameras again.  As you can see by the heavy coats and hoods it was a cool and blustery day today in New York.

Here it is approaching from the west with its fighter jet escort in the rear.

One more fly over salute to Miss Liberty!

The 747 NASA Shuttle Aircraft and the Enterprise Shuttle then flew off into the horizon and later landed at JFK airport at 11:!8 AM.

In several weeks the Enterprise will be "demated" from the 747 and placed on a barge that will be moved by tugboat up the Hudson River, lifted by crane and placed on the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. It will be placed in a temporary climate-controlled pavilion and open to the public in June. The Intrepid will eventually have a permanent exhibit facility on board to showcase Enterprise and enhance the museum's space-related exhibits and education curriculum.  It will be a wonderful exhibit to visit!

I'm so glad to have been able to witness this historic event today, and I hope you enjoyed seeing it through my photos.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Love in a Puddle

I just had to share two photos that I took with my cell photo camera this morning, which made me smile...

While walking near a local parking lot I saw two objects floating in a large puddle left behind after a rain's heavy downpour.   As I approached I was surprised to see they were two ducks, happily swimming around in circles!  They had obviously decided a puddle was as good a body of water as any, to take a little rest.

One was male, one was female.  Perhaps a new Springtime romance? 

It was a little serendipity that made my day, and I hope it also made you a smile today!

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Colors of Our Lives

The photo above was taken with my husband and daughter on the day of my daughter's bridal shower. As you can see I'm wearing a black shirt with a sheer black and white jacket. I'm honestly not a big fan of a lot of color in my wardrobe, for a few reasons. The first reason is that I find wearing dark colors more slenderizing, and I'm always conscious of my frustratingly less than a svelte figure. Second, I find dark colors more complimentary to my fair complexion. The third reason is that dark colors seem to be the "de rigueur" uniform for most New Yorkers, and I'm no exception.  I'd be the first to admit that things in the city can get very grimy -- all I have to do is clean my outside window sills to see that -- and wearing dark colors work best for preventing big dry cleaning bills.

While I prefer black and other dark colors I do admit that a few other colors are my favorite, and searching through my photo files I saw a few trends.

The first trend I noticed is that I don't take too many photos of myself!  I'm usually the one too busy taking photos and unless it is a special occasion or a vacation trip, I hardly get in a photo.  The other trend I noticed is that the colors red and blue seem to be my favorite colors to wear if I'm not wearing black.  Just for fun, I snuck in two vintage photos of myself in the collage above--can you spot them?

Even though I prefer black there is another way I incorporate color into my wardrobe. I just wrap a pretty multicolored scarf around my neck! I have quite a variety in all colors and kinds of fabric.  As I was going through my collection of scarves to display them on my bed for this photo someone else thought this was the most marvelous idea...

It was my cat, Bo, who jumped up right into the middle of them purring kind contently and ready to play with the fringes on some of the scarves. When his nails came out he was quickly asked to leave (smile).

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Largest Farm In Brooklyn, New York!

The largest farm in Brooklyn, New York, is coming to the Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT)! Yes, this massive five million square foot building complex located at 140 58th Street, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, will soon house the largest rooftop farm in the United States!

The Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT), formerly referred to as the U.S. Army Military Ocean Terminal, was built in 1919 and served as the largest military supply base in the U.S. through WWII. During WWII 56,000 military and civilian personnel were employed there, and over three million troops and 37 million tons of military supplies passed through the facility. The most famous soldier to deploy from BAT was Elvis Presley. He greeted fans and dozens of photojournalists at BAT in September of 1958, when he shipped off from Brooklyn to Germany.

New York City purchased BAT from the federal government in 1981 with the intention of restoring the complex to a light manufacturing warehouse. The New York City Economic Development Corporation now manages the BAT complex and today, over three million square feet of space has been restored for use by a diverse mix of businesses. Now a planned multi-acre, state-of-the-art, hydroponic greenhouse farm will be built on 100,000 square feet of rooftop space by BrightFarms, Inc., in partnership with Salmar Properties LLC. The farm will grow up to 1 million pounds of local produce per year, including tomatoes, lettuces, and herbs. This farm will cultivate a new national model for urban agriculture.  

Enough crops will be grown to meet the fresh vegetable consumption needs of up to 5,000 New Yorkers.  Construction is scheduled to start in the fall of 2012, with the first harvest expected the spring of 2013, and will be sold to local supermarket chains.

An example of a hydroponic greenhouse 

The Bright Farms greenhouse will join a half-dozen commercial rooftop farms in New York City. Brooklyn Grange already runs a one-acre operation in Long Island City, Queens, and Gotham Greens, another company, has a hydroponic rooftop garden in the Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

I'm really excited about this new trend and I hope this local supply of fresh vegetables will make their prices more affordable to all New Yorkers.  Do you have hydroponic greenhouses in your area? What do you think about them?

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April Note Card Party

Vee, at the delightful blog A Haven For Vee has decided after the success of her first Note Card Party event in March to make it a permanent event that will happen the third week of every month!   What participants are asked to do is choose four photos that we previously published on our blogs in a prior blog post, choosing photos that we think would make beautiful or interesting note cards. Last month I shared special New York City photographs.

The photos I chose this month are beautiful photos a good friend's daughter, Lauren, took for me of the National  Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC, which I published on this post in April of 2009.

Try as I might, I never seem to be able to make it down to Washington DC to attend this festival, although it has been almost a life long dream of mine to see it!  Even when my son was an undergraduate at a university in Washington DC for four years and then lived and worked there for two years afterward, something always seemed to come up during the month of April to keep me in New York. Thankfully, Lauren, who now lives and works in DC, was kind enough to share her photos with me, and I thought you would all enjoy seeing them again.  I think they would make gorgeous note cards, don't you?

I believe the National Cherry Blossom Festival occurred early in March this year, due to the unusually warm weather the East coast has been experiencing on and off all winter and spring.  Even if I wasn't so busy clearing out and closing up my Mother's house, and doing last minute preparations for my daughter's wedding, I probably still would have missed it, as I would have made hotel reservations for April instead of March, when the cherry trees all bloomed!

Wish me luck for next year's festival -- I really want to see them in person one day!

I'm adding this post to Pink Satuday on Beverly's blog How Sweet The Sound

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Margaret Brown--the "Unsinkable Molly Brown"

As I wrote in my last blog post (click here) about the 100th Year Anniversary of the Titanic tragedy, Margaret Tobin Brown, better know by her nickname, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" was a famous RMS Titanic survivor.  She was also an extraordinary woman whose fame and importance in history extends well beyond her survival of the famous shipwreck. This past Christmas season my husband and I visited her home in Denver, Colorado, and were fascinated to learn more about her life as told to us by a wonderful docent on the tour of her home. There are many myths about Margaret Brown--no one called her Molly during her lifetime --and biographer Kristen Iversen, author of “Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth,” writes that there’s no proof she ever referred to herself as “unsinkable.” These myths came about in unauthorized biographies and journalistic pieces that embellished aspects of her life in order to make her more "colorful."  In actual life, she was basically a self-educated woman, and a passionate and outspoken crusader for the rights of women, children, mine workers, and for others struggling for their voice in the early twentieth century.

The Molly Brown House Museum is located at 1340 Pennsylvania Street.  Historic Denver, Inc, saved the house from destruction as more and more historic properties were demolished in the 1960's and 70's. Major restoration efforts returned the home’s interior and exterior to its early 20th-century grandeur. 

Although photographs are not allowed inside the house, I purchased postcards of the interior in the gift shop after the tour, in order to show Historic Denver's efforts to replicate the beautiful grandeur of Mrs. Brown's home.  Many wonderful period antiques were incorporated into the house furnishings.

Margaret Tobin Brown was born to Irish immigrants John and Johanna Tobin in 1867 in Hannibal, Missouri.  The Tobins had progressive views that valued education, even for their daughter and Margaret attended school until age 13, when she then began working in a factory to help support her family. At age eighteen, Margaret followed her brother Daniel to Leadville, Colorado, to find work. There she witnessed the harsh realities many gold-rush seekers found in the Rockies, as many were forced to abandon their dreams of wealth to make a living by doing wage labor under harsh, exploitative conditions. Margaret soon became involved in helping in soup kitchens and other charity efforts. A short time after her arrival she met J.J. Brown, a mining engineer with respectable prospects, but no fortune. After a summer courtship, Margaret and J.J. were married on September 1, 1886. J.J. was 31 years old and Margaret was barely 19.    Soon afterward, JJ discovered gold in the "Little Johnny Mine." The owners of Little Johnny rewarded the Browns with significant shares in their company, the Ibex Mining Company, and the Browns became millionaires. With their new money, the Browns purchased what would become their long-time Denver home in 1894.  Margaret became a charter member of the "Denver Woman's Club", whose mission was the improvement of women's lives by continuing education and philanthropy. Adjusting to the trappings of a society lady, Brown strived to improve her education and became well-immersed in the arts and fluent in French, German, and Russian.

Photo caption: "Molly" Brown presenting trophy cup award to Capt. Arthur Henry Rostron, of the Carpathia, for his service in the rescue of the Titanic.

Brown eventually separated from her husband in 1909. They never reconciled but they remained connected and cared for each other throughout their lives.  Margaret now had the freedom to indulge in her passion for travel, and in 1912, she headed to Egypt with John Jacob Astor and his wife. She cut the trip short to visit her ailing grandson back in the U.S. and set sail on the Titanic from France, where the ship made one stop to pick up passengers and provisions. Brown wrote that she was watching from a deck after the Titanic hit the iceberg and that she was thrown into lifeboat No. 6 by a crew member. She rowed all night with its mostly female crew until the rescue ship Carpathia arrived.   At the time, Molly Brown was dubbed "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" by journalists because she helped in the ship's evacuation, taking an oar herself in her lifeboat and protesting for the lifeboat to go back to try to save more people after the Titanic sunk.  Her knowledge of foreign languages enabled her to aid the frightened immigrants who had lost everything, including their husbands, and she gained fame for raising money from rich Titanic survivors to help poorer passengers, making sure they had a place to go when they got to New York.  Brown also helped with relief efforts during World War I and ran for the U.S. Senate in 1914, six years before women could vote nationally.

Molly continued to be active and spent much of her later years in New York, where she resided at the Barbizon Hotel. That is where she died on October 26, 1932, at age 65. Her fortune had dwindled to $1500 and her house in Denver, sold the next year for only $5000. According to this website, in her last act of charity, she wanted the poor mining children of Leadville, Colorado to have Christmas presents of woolen mittens and boots. She is buried in the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury, New York. You can read more about how Hollywood created the myth of Molly Brown on this link, and how she almost obtained "rock star" status after surviving the sinking of the Titanic on this linkMargaret Brown was certainly a fascinating historical woman, and I hope you enjoyed learning more about her as much as I did!

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic

At 11.40 PM on Sunday April 14th, 1912 the Titanic, bound from Southampton, England to New York, struck an iceberg just off the coast of Newfoundland and became fully submerged within three hours, before dropping to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean at 2:20 AM on April 15, 1912.  The sinking of the vessel, which belonged to the White Star Line shipping company, caused the death of 1,514 men, women and children, making it one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

Passengers on board the ship included some of the world's wealthiest people, including millionaires such as John Jacob Astor IV, Benjamin Guggenheim, and Isidor Straus, and thousands of immigrants seeking a new life in America.  There have been many stories over the years recounting why the ship struck the iceberg and why two-thirds of the passengers and crew lost their lives.   Was it from faulty construction or the lack of lifeboats?  Was it from the absence of binoculars in the crow's nest during night watch or from the shortcomings of the radio operator?  The mystery will probably never be sufficiently solved.

When I visited Belfast, Northern Ireland, last year I saw the iconic Harland and Wolff shipbuilding gantry cranes nicknamed "Samson and Goliath" that have become city landmarks. This Belfast shipyard has built many ships; among the more famous are the White Star line trio of the Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic.

The city of Belfast was constructing a large six-story exploration center called Titanic Belfast at the time of my visit last April, which officially opened on March 31, 2012, to honor the legacy of the 100th anniversary of the launch and fateful first voyage of the RMS Titanic.

Built very close to the site where the Titanic was built, the Titanic Experience enables visitors to:

 "Immerse yourself in the amazing story of Belfast in the 1900s, take a spin in the Shipyard Ride, experience life on board and learn about Titanic’s maiden voyage, her tragic sinking, the many stories of human endeavour, and the technology and science that finally found her, and helped to solve some of the many mysteries surrounding that fateful night in 1912."

I toured the beautiful Belfast City Hall during my visit and learned there was one link between Belfast and Harland and Wolff’s most well-known ship that is a bit more obscure. It was the Lord Mayor’s dressing room in Belfast City Hall which you can learn about in this video:

"Dianne Leeman, Tour Service Operator in the City Hall, explains, ‘Viscount William Pirrie was Lord Mayor of the city as well as being director of Harland and Wolff for many years, including those when the Titanic was built. So he utilised his craftsmen down at the shipyards to work on the two big projects, the City Hall and the Titanic."

This is the replica of the Titanic in Belfast City Hall that she speaks about in the video as well as...

... the brass memorial plaque that was taken down to the hull of the sunken Titanic and left on the bridge for a few moments and then returned to Belfast for display in memory of those lost with the ship.

There were also interesting placards outside Belfast City Hall that explained the role Belfast had in the planning, construction, and launch of the Titanic.

Outside on the eastern garden grounds of Belfast City Hall stands the Titanic Memorial, dedicated to the Belfast men who were lost on board RMS Titanic. Designed by the acclaimed sculptor Thomas Brock, the memorial depicts the female figure of Thane, who looks down upon two sea nymphs as they rise from the waves with the body of a drowned seaman in their arms. Originally unveiled on June 26, 1920 in Donegall Square North, it was moved to its current location on March 24, 1960
The names of the dead include the ship's designer Thomas Andrews and Doctor John Simpson.

Of course the Titanic's final destination was to be New York, before it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sunk, so there is also a Titanic Memorial in New York City 

It is a 60-foot-tall lighthouse built, due in part to the instigation of Margaret Brown (better known as the "Unsinkable Molly Brown), to remember the people who died on the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912.  The lighthouse was originally erected by public subscription in 1913 and stood above the East River on the roof of the old Seamen's Church Institute of New York and New Jersey at the corner of South Street and Coenties Slip.

You can see the lighthouse on top of the Seaman's Institute building in the photo above.   From 1913 to 1967 the time ball at the top of the lighthouse would drop down the pole to signal twelve noon to the ships in the harbor. This time ball mechanism was activated by a telegraphic signal, from the Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. In July 1968 the Seamen's Church Institute moved to its present quarters at 15 State Street and this building was demolished. That year, the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse was donated by the Kaiser-Nelson Steel and Salvage Corporation to the South Street Seaport Museum. It was erected at the entrance to the museum complex, on the corner of Fulton and Pearl Streets, in May 1976.

I'd love to tell you a little more about Margaret Brown, of the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" legend, who was aboard the Titanic on its maiden voyage in my next post.

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