A ‘Teenage’ Night at the Tribeca Film Festival

“Teenage” – The Tribeca Film Festival

I stumbled across the film ‘Teenage’ by Matt Wolf on Buzzfeed of all places…sandwiched between ‘27 Ways to Eat a Peep’ and ‘19 Kitty Cat Gifs with Attitude.’  Based on Jon Savage’s book Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1845–1945the documentary tells the pre-history of the ‘teenager’…before Elvis and Bandstand and the 1950s definition of adolescence.

Intrigued by most historical docs — especially those that allow me to better understand my Grandparents’ generation — I braved the unseasonable weather to wait in line for rush tickets.

Told entirely in quotes and narrative, the documentary takes on a captivating, lyrical tone as it weaves the stories of four young people carving out their definition of the gray between child and adult.

“Teenage gives voice to young people from the first half of the 20th century in America, England, and Germany—from party-crazed Flappers and hip Swing Kids to zealous Nazi Youth and frenzied Sub-Debs.”  -Matt Wolf

Through their stories, the viewer explores the broader cultural struggle to develop what Wolf calls ‘a new idea of youth.’

The film is playing at 12:45pm on Saturday, April 27th at Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 8, but again only rush tickets are available.  I recommend showing up by 11:45am for your best chance to win tickets. ‘Teenage’ is well worth the wait.


An Unfortunate Hiatus

Man Waving from Empire State Building Construction Site

A wave from the  Empire State Building construction site. June 10, 1930.

Followers, occasional readers, and the rest of you, I’m sorry to report I’m forced to take a break for blogging. Outside demands are going to keep up to my eyeballs for the next several months. But don’t worry I’ll still be exploring the city, gathering tons of info for my return.

Thanks for all the support and comments. I’ve loved having an excuse to ramble on about the wonders of this town.

Until another day,


Stepping Back in Time at the Merchant’s House Museum

The Merchant's House Museum

A few friends and I were looking to spend a budget day in city last weekend. For less than forty bucks we had a decent Italian lunch, a glass of wine and pleasant trip the Merchant’s House Museum at 29 East 4th Street.

New York’s only fully preserved mid-19th century townhouse, the Merchant’s House Museum gives visitors a peak into the life of New York’s upper-class more than 150 years ago.

Home to merchant Seabury Tredwell, his wife Eliza and their eight children from 1832-1933, the four-story home displays a selection of the family’s nearly 3,000 personal items in the museums collection.  The family’s original furniture, appliances, decor and personal items create a time warp as you step off the street, enter the vestibule and traverse each lavish room just as family and friends. 

The family had an uncanny affection — nearing obsession — for the home. When built, the neighborhood was the pinnacle of class. The family once counted the Astors, Delanos and Van Cortlandts as neighbors. But over time, as the wealthy set moved uptown, the opulent homes were replaced with tenements and factories. Yet the Tredwell’s stayed. Several of the children lived in the home most of their life, including Gertrude, the last surviving sibling.

The Merchant's House Parlor

The home’s Greek revival double parlors

The headline says it all...

The headline says it all…

1906 New York Times article paints a pictures of the home’s last residents: the three remaining unwed Tredwell sisters. 29 East 4th Street was clearly that house in the neighborhood. It’s mysterious, rich inhabitants sparked idle school children and shopgirls to tell stories of the three women who lived their nearly seventy years, “yet no one had ever seen a man enter the old house.”

The home was repurposed as a museum in 1936 by a family cousin, just three years after Gertrude’s death. Certainly Gertrude’s ideal wish for the house, as in her old age she had become fixated on preserving the home “just as Papa wanted.” Her ghost is even said to still lurk through the house.*

Museum volunteer Anthony Bellov’s presents a rich account of the family’s history in his entry in “Old Merchant’s House & Museum Newsletter.”

*Side Note: the House does offer Halloween ghost tours, but I’m hoping they run others throughout the year. I’ll keep an eye on the events calendar and keep you posted.

A Few Recommendations:

  1. Make it time for a guided tour. We arrived too late and were handed a thick binder with descriptions of each room, their purpose and house rituals. Very informative, but a lot to digest, especially if you have kids in your group.
  2. If you do end up doing the self-guided tour give yourself around 90 minutes to get the full effect.
  3. Don’t skip the garden or the servants quarters on the fourth floor!
  4. If you have a student ID, use it. Admission for only 5 dollars.

Getting There:

29 East Fourth Street, between Lafayette Street and the Bowery

Open 12-5pm Thursday-Monday (Group tour available Tuesday & Wednesday)
Guided tour daily at 2pm

$10 General
$5 Students & Seniors (over 65)
Free for Members & Children under 12.

‘On the Bowery’ at Film Forum This Friday, Saturday

At a museum this weekend, a few friends and I happened to overhear a volunteer mention the film On the Bowery would be showing at Film Forum in the next few weeks.

Direct quote, “It was one of the most fascinating documentaries about New York City life I’ve ever seen.”


Just so happens, the film is playing as a double feature this Friday and Saturday (Jan. 11 & 12) with Connections, another film focusing on life on skid row in mid-century New York.

Looking forward to black and white Friday afternoon.

Okay, okay we were flat out eavesdropping, but this gentleman had some very interesting things to say. Anyway, thanks for the tip informative stranger.

The Film Forum
209 Houston Street
Tickets: $12.50
Showtimes & More Info

Magic at the New York Botanical Gardens’ Holiday Train Show

Amazing. Absolutely awe-inspiring.

I’m officially obsessed with the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show. I want to get a hold of Honey I Shrunk the Kids’ shrink ray, zap myself and move into this miniature, horticultural version of the New York.

The Manhattan skyline as imagined by Paul Busse

The Manhattan skyline as imagined by Paul Busse. Seen in the Haupt Conservatory.

The show is the work of Paul Busse and his team at Applied Imagination. Busse and his team scour the forests outside their Alexandria, Kentucky workshop for the foliage that will become 140 of New York’s most remarkable landmarks from yesterday and today. Magnolia leaves become a roof, pine bark a stone façade, lotus pods a balcony, and moss to fill in the rest.

This year even some of the trains zipping through the scenes were created from plant material.

The Holiday Train show runs from mid-November to mid-January and is an absolute must see. It’s a bit of trek…especially on public transportation, but don’t let that discourage. This is the perfect kick-off to the holidays in New York.

If you get the chance, stroll up to Ross Hall and catch a viewing of PBS documentary Holiday Train Show with David Hartman. It offers you a look into Busse’s studio and the work that goes into the show every year, along with his commentary on some of the pieces.

Don’t be too upset if the doc isn’t playing while you’re there….the exhibit features an Inside the Artist’s Studio display demonstrating the step-by-step process of creating the replicas. You’ll miss the commentary and Busse’s awesome suspenders, but you’ll get the jist.

New This Year

The wonder of this year’s show starts as soon as you enter the Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. A replica of the Macy’s flagship store — new this year — greets you in all its grandeur. Every minute detail is accounted from the Macy’s unmistakable star down to the Christmas window displays.

The show's replica of Macy's flagship store on 34th Street

The show’s replica of Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street

Arguably the most austere mansion in New York City history makes appearance in the show — Montana Senator William Andrew Clark’s home, once located Fifth Avenue and 77th Street. The 9-story, 121 room home only stood completed for 18 years before it was demolished shortly after Clarks’ death in 1925.  After taking 13 years to build, the mansion had fallen laughably out of style before it was even complete.

The Clark Mansion replica along side the home that stood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

The Clark Mansion replica alongside the home that stood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Introduced in 2006, the replica Clark mansion is framed with beech stick columns. It’s palm fronds balcony are adorned with ladies sculpted of pistachio hulls, okra, white peppercorns and eucalyptus buds.

Hudson River Paradise

I recognized painter’s Frederic Edwin Church’s Olana from my research of the Hudson River School blog post. Busse and his team did a magnificent job recreating the Moorish detail of the painter’s home with chestnut bark siding, eucalyptus leaf shingles with decorations of pussy willows, star anise, beech seeds and more.

The replica of Church's Olana alongside the house.

The replica of Church’s Olana alongside the house.

Built in 1870, the home was modeled on the buildings Church and wife saw on their travels through the Middle East — buildings of Beirut, Jerusalem and Damascus. Upon their return, Church commissioned Calvert Vaux to build his Persian palace in the hills of the Hudson Valley. And after 20 years of tinkering and repairs, Olana was essentially complete. It still stands today as a museum and monument to Church’s life and work.

Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

The precarious dome of the Haupt Conservatory was one of Busse’s most nerve-wracking undertakings. The latticework of reeds and resin was sculpted over a paper-mache form. Once the resin dried, the form was removed creating the translucent, glowing dome.  

The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Home to the Holiday Train Show.

The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. 

The Conservatory, built in 1902, was inspired by two British green houses, the Palm House of Royal Botanical Gardens and the Crystal Palace at Hyde Park. In the 1970’s it was renamed after Haupt as a ‘thank you’ for her patronage.

Just a Few More…I Can’t Stop!


Okay, I’m cutting myself off. I could write a book about this show and still not do it justice. Go. Now. See for yourself.

It will make your holiday season.

Getting There

The New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10458-5126

Weekdays: Tuesday–Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Weekends: 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Holiday Weeks (Monday, December 17–Tuesday, January 1): 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Early closings: December 14 and 24; 3 p.m.


Love this post by Ephemeral New York. A reminder that you don’t need to pay admission to see some charming artwork in New York.

Ephemeral New York

The city owes its success to the waterfront. No wonder the Fulton Street subway station (currently being renovated into the Fulton Street Transit Center) pays homage to New York’s maritime past with these mosaics and murals.


It is the Fulton Street station, named after Robert Fulton, inventor of the steamboat. Makes since, then, that circa-1905 bas reliefs of the Clermont, the first steamboat, decorate the IRT 4 and 5 train platform.


Murals installed along the station’s corridors also celebrate the city’s waterways and ships, like the mighty ocean liner the Mauretania, above, or the Fall River Line steamboat Commonwealth, below.


Originally created in 1913, they were displayed in the popular Marine Grill basement restaurant of the once-impressive McAlpin Hotel on 34th Street.

When the hotel was being renovated into apartments in the 1990s, the murals were headed for a landfill. Preservationists rescued six at the last minute

View original post 13 more words

The Course of an Empire at the New-York Historical Society

I told you there’d be more!

The centerpiece of The Hudson River School at the New-York Historical Society: Nature and the American Vision is rightfully reserved for Thomas Cole’s epic masterpiece: The Course of an Empire (1833-1836).  The five paintings traces the rise, destructive fall and eventual decay of an imaginary city. The set so powerfully tells a story of decadence to desolation stood as a warning to society of the day…and still today. The warning was much Cole’s intention, who feared industrialization and the ‘copper-hearted barbarians’ behind the railroad would destroy his Hudson Valley.

These pieces alone are well worth the price of admission, so it’s a delight to see them included in the show. Go take a look for yourself!

Go take a look for yourself!

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West (at 77th Street)
New York, NY 10024
Phone (212) 873-3400

Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday – 10am-6pm
Friday – 10am-8pm
Sunday – 11am-5pm
Monday – CLOSED

The Hudson River School at the New-York Historical Society

September 21, 2012 – February 21, 2013
New-York Historical Society

Entering the New-York Historical Society’s The Hudson River School at the New-York Historical Society: Nature and the American Vision exhibit, I was at first a bit confused. I had never seeing canyons, volcanoes or tundra on drive from New York to Albany, yet there they were lining the walls.

But of course, I soon realized, the Hudson River School wasn’t confined to New York. Manifest Destiny was the buzzword of the day. And as the painter’s traveled West (and South and North and East) they captured majestic, romantic landscapes, feeding other’s imaginations, inspiring more exploration.

The N-YHS’s exhibit is laid out along the Hudson River School painters’ trail they left the Hudson Valley to explore new landscapes. Traveling up the Hudson River, past the Catskills and Albany, north to the Adirondacks and west to Niagara Falls. Leaving New York, to New England, west to the frontier and abroad.

The Hudson Valley

Catskill Creek, 1845
Thomas Cole

Where else to begin my exhibit highlights, but with the founder of the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole. An English expatriate Cole settled in the village of Catskill, New York after traveling as a portrait artist around the East and Midwest.

Catskill Creek, 1845

Catskill Creek, 1845
Thomas Cole

Catskill Creek was painted near Cole’s home, Cedar Grove. The romantic scene shows a reverence for natural beauty characteristic to the School with a small boy with a boat in middle ground of the painting. The small human element is common in many Hudson River School paintings. This touch grounds the painting in reality, allowing the viewer to see the scenery as more than a mystical, mythical landscape, but as place inhabited and real.

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site has two great websites to learn more about the artist, his works and his travels, including an interactive map of his Hudson Valley landscapes. There’ll definitely be some Cole inspired hikes in my future.

Fun Fact: Cole was actually introduced to the beauty of Hudson Valley thanks to the landscape painting of friend, and future Hudson River School-er, Asher B. Durand. So does that make Durand the grandfather of the School?

Upstate New York

Winter Twilight near Albany, New York, 1858
George Henry Boughton (1833-1905)

Winter Twilight near Albany, New York, Boughton

Winter Twilight near Albany, New York, 1858
George Henry Boughton

Standing in front of Boughton’s painting, I couldn’t help but shiver with the work’s palpable chill. Perhaps because Boughton painted en plein aire (in open air), setting up his supplies outside, in front of the scene near Albany, New York.  The cold wind he —  and the boy carrying wood —  must have felt resonates through the canvas.

Fun Fact: Hudson River School artists and their 19th century contemporaries embraced plein air painting thanks to the advent of pre-mixed oil paints and transportable easels or porchade (quick sketch) boxes (source).

Westward Ho!

Donner Lake from the Summit, 1873
Albert Bierstadt

Donner Lake from the Summit, 1873 Alfred Bierstadt

Donner Lake from the Summit, 1873
Albert Bierstadt

The name Donner stirs images of a harsh winter, a doomed clan of pioneers, and well you know the rest.  The story behind the scene adds a macabre, eerie note to its beauty.  The Donner Party would have recognized the scene.  Donner Pass lies just on the other side of the lake.  I imagine it felt strange for Bierstadt, comfortably travelling by train through an area where not 30 years ago such a twisted tragedy had taken place.  A nod to the progress, if nothing else.

The work was in fact commissioned by Collis P. Huntington, the railroad magnate behind the Central Railroad. A scene from outside the window of his train as it cuts through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the western leg of the transcontinental railroad.

The European Tour

Lake Maggiore, Italy, 1858
Sanford Robinson Gifford

Gifford dropped out Brown University in 1844 to become a painter. He first began as an itinerant portrait artist, but he longed to join the group of artists influenced by Thomas Cole’s breathtaking landscapes. To that end he began studying at the National Academy of Design on Fifth Avenue and 89th street and by 1847 exhibited his first landscape.

Lake Maggiore, Italy, 1858 Sandford Robinson Gifford

Lake Maggiore, Italy, 1858
Sandford Robinson Gifford

Embarking on his first European tour in 1855, Gifford found inspiration for Lake Maggiore in the Italy’s Northern region of Piedmont. The second largest Italian lake, several inhabited islands dot the water, including Iosla Bella, featured in this work.  Again you’ll notice the trademark human element as gondolier fisherman prepare for the catch of the day in the foreground.

Tenth Street Studio Building

Tenth Street Studio Building where many Hudson River School painters lived and worked

Upon returning to New York, Gifford moved into the newly built Studio building on West 10th street, designed for artists to work and live. His neighbors included notable Hudson River School painters Alfred Bierstadt and Frederic Church.

The Studio building began the long tradition of Greenwich Village as the City’s culture capital. Sadly, the building was destroyed in 1956 to make room for an apartment building…One where Julia Roberts now occupies the penthouse.

Tune in for More

I’m going to be writing a few more posts on this exhibit over the next few weeks because, well, there are more things I’d like to talk about, but this post is running long.

I sincerely recommend you make a trip up to the New-York Historical Society and check this one out. And please report back on your thoughts and favorite pieces.

Plan Your Trip

Head uptown and see the show for yourself. I promise, it doesn’t disappoint.

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West (at 77th Street)
New York, NY 10024
Phone (212) 873-3400

Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday – 10am-6pm
Friday – 10am-8pm
Sunday – 11am-5pm
Monday – CLOSED

Up Next: The Hudson River School

I’ve taken the Amtrak between Albany and New York a few times a year since I was a kid, always sure to sit on the West side of the train to catch the view of the Hudson and the Catskills speeding by. So the New-York Historical Society’s exhibit of the Hudson River School appealed to my nostalgic side and jumped to the top of my schedule. The group of 19th century painters featured captured the some of the region’s most breathtakingly beautiful vistas.

‘Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School’ is the on the agenda for the weekend, so check back next week for my impression and to learn a few fun facts about the boys of the Hudson River School. Better yet subscribe (just enter your e-mail in that cute little box over there –>) and I’ll send you an e-mail when the post is ready.

An Amtrak View

My own unworthy interpretation of a Hudson River School scene. Seen from a train window along the Hudson. Shot on an iPhone. Doesn’t quite measure up, but imagine what the pros could do with a view like that.