The Little Byte Line-Up of Movies
Hoparound Tour
#1
(now playing)
         

1 Green, 3 Parks, 6 Squares, and a Circle
written and conceived by Robert Westfield
filmed and edited by Cayce Crown

BOWLING GREEN, PART ONE
The Little Tourist Who Could
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
BOWLING GREEN, PART TWO
Continental Bull
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
THE CANYON OF TRIVIA
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)

CITY HALL PARK, PART ONE
2x the Price of Alaska

(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)

CITY HALL PARK, PART TWO
Bargain Basement Bones
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
OUTTAKES WITH HUDSON
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
WASHINGTON SQUARE, PART ONE
"Smoke, Smoke"
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
WASHINGTON SQUARE, PART TWO
A Sprinting Tour
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
ASTOR PLACE
Riots at the Opera
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
COOPER SQUARE
From Locomotives to Jell-O
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
UNION SQUARE, PART ONE
Gandhi at Dead Man’s Curve
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)

UNION SQUARE, PART TWO
The “What’s-up-with-That” Tour
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)

OUTTAKES, DAY TWO
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
MADISON SQUARE, PART ONE
New Yorkers to the Rescue
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
MADISON SQUARE, PART TWO
Westfield’s Folly
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
HERALD SQUARE, PART ONE
It’s Not All Macy’s
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
HERALD SQUARE, PART TWO
“Actuality…”
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
TIMES SQUARE
The World’s Biggest T.V.
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
COLUMBUS CIRCLE
2 Statues, 1 Woman
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)
OUTTAKES, DAY THREE
(CLICK FOR CREDITS AND MOVIE NOTES)

 

 

1—BOWLING GREEN, PART ONE
The Little Tourist Who Could

The fence surrounding Bowling Green is one of New York’s oldest artifacts, protecting the park since 1777 with the exception of a five-year absence.  It was removed in 1914 during the construction of the IRT’s Lexington Avenue line.  When the work was completed four years later, no one could remember where the fence had been moved.  People were obviously very distracted, what with the world war and a flu pandemic.  It was assumed that the relic of New York history was a memory, but in the spring of 1919, the dismantled fence was located, according to reports, either in a store room of the parks department or in a heap in Central Park.  The fence was promptly restored to the egg-shaped park downtown.

A few years ago, Bowling Green underwent a $700,000 face lift, one of fourteen city parks renovated or created downtown after 9/11, and, during that work, it was discovered that less of the fence was part of the original than previously thought.  About half of all the poles have been replaced since 1777 and of the almost 100 large fence posts a few are fake, although respectfully cast to replicate the others with their broken tips as if they too had borne the brunt of the rage of the colonial crowd.

Current subway renovations in the area around Battery Park have not affected Bowling Green, but they have affected the area between Bowling Green and the Custom House.  The entrance to the 4 and 5 now has an elaborate glass canopy over its staircase and escalators.  There’s also, right where I used to stand to admire the Custom House, a glass cube that breaks through the cobblestone of the open plaza like a wart that’s popped up in the middle of your left cheek.

The elevator near Bowling Green.The new view from my old vantage point.At least it' s not a Duane Reade or Starbucks...

 

Having worked with many tourists on crutches or in wheelchairs (note:  they arrived that way), I understand how inaccessible this city can be.  There’s a challenge at almost every crosswalk with their awkwardly graded curbs, and the subway itself is just a joke.  Whenever I see an elevator for the subway, I wonder how someone who uses an elevator to enter the subway gets back out.  There are 468 subway stations in the system and only 76 are handicap accessible.  (By the way, for that 76, the MTA counts the Staten Island Railroad.  Please.)  So how accessible is this one?  You’re going to wheel someone over the cobblestone and then take them down…and wait!  Where does this one even go?  Does it take you to the downtown platform or just the uptown?  Well, how in the world do you get to the other side?

Actually, below ground, the elevators are very well placed.   It’s a decent system.  This elevator takes you to one of two levels—the first level for the uptown 4 or 5 and a lower level where you can access an elevator for the Brooklyn platform.  Still, once you’ve made it to the platform, you still need to clear the gap to board the train, which is often crowded, and restrict your travels to 42nd Street or Atlantic Avenue, because you’re not going to find an elevator at Bergen Street or 163rd. 

Back to Bowling Green.  I have to confess that for aesthetic reasons, I would prefer that the elevator were located further west of the open plaza; however, that would probably mean the elevator would drop off its passengers directly in the path of the oncoming trains...and that would obviously be frowned upon.

This byte was directed by Peter Flynn.  Hudson Flynn, who had no babysitter, played the young tourist/historian/doctor.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Hudson Flynn, preferring payment in cupcakes, has become one of the most popular actors of his generation. 

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

 

2BOWLING GREEN, PART TWO
Continental Bull

The U.S. Custom House (technically, the Alexander Hamilton Custom House) is now home to one of New York's two Smithsonian collections--the National Museum of the American Indian--as well as home to a Federal Bankruptcy Court.  The Cass Gilbert structure (built between 1899 and 1907) sits on the site of Fort Amsterdam, which was positioned in the seventeenth century at the tip of the island with commanding views of the East and North Rivers.  Not very well-maintained, the fort was finally demolished in 1790 to make way for the Government House, a structure that New Yorkers presumed would be the executive mansion, the White House for presidents to come, an official residence for Washington who had been living in a borrowed homes on Cherry Street.  Instead of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we would have had 1 Bowling Green, but that August, the federal government moved the capital to Philadelphia. 

In this byte, before focusing on The Four Continents by Daniel Chester French, we gave you a few glimpses of the famous statues that line the cornice.  These represent great commercial powers, contemporary and historical, that took their trade to the seas.  There’s Greece, Rome, Phoenecia, Genoa, Venice, Spain, Holland, Portugal, Denmark, Germany (actually, during WW I. the name was changed to Belgium), France and England.  The cartouche of the U.S. seal above the center portico was sculpted by Karl Bitter, who also created the decorative sculptures on the façade at the Met, but is most famous for the doors at Trinity Church and the statue of Pomona in the Pulitzer Fountain next to the Plaza Hotel.

One last note on the bull at Bowling Green:  As you probably know, the bull market is the optimistic buying market, the bear market is the pessimistic selling market.  The animal symbolism relates to their method of attack.  A bull charges with its horns and thrusts upwards while a bear meets its opponent with its claws and slashes downwards.  The bull. The bear.  Whether or not that’s how the markets were named, you have to admit it’s a nifty way to remember which goes up and which goes down.  And if I can provide you nifty ways of remembering random facts, then I’ve done my job.

This byte was directed by Peter Flynn.  Hudson Flynn, who had no babysitter, played the young tourist and the security for the bull's hindquarters in the very last two seconds.  Music: Kevin MacLeod

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Hudson Flynn, preferring payment in cupcakes, has become one of the most popular actors of his generation. 

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

 

3THE CANYON OF TRIVIA

TICKER TAPE PARADES:  The Canyon of Heroes runs up Broadway, starting at Bowling Green and ending at City Hall Park, which means that the ticker tape parades start next to four lesser known statues by the sculptor of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial (Daniel Chester French) and end near four lesser known statues by the sculptor of Mount Rushmore.  That's the kind of  symmetrical tidbit I find fascinating, whether or not it's meaningful.  The first ticker tape parade, as mentioned in the byte, was an impromptu outburst of euphoria upon the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1886; the most recent ticker tape parade was held in February of this year for the NY Giants and their victory at the Super Bowl.  Shredded paper from that parade (held about a month ago) can still be found along the parade route.  Click here to peruse a list of ticker tape parades.

THE GRAVE OF JAMES LEESON:  I learned about the grave of James Leeson while reading Kevin Walsh's Forgotten New York, which is also the name of his fantastic Web site, which you can visit by clicking Forgotten New York.   The reference to Ovaltine and to the entire code-cracking montage is an homage to A Christmas Story (1983).

ST. PAUL'S CHAPEL:  If you were wondering why St. Paul's Chapel was built with its back to the busy, commercial traffic of Broadway, remember that in 1766 the land for the church and its cemetery was separated from the scenic Hudson River by only one block.

ONE LAST TRIVIA QUESTION:

View down BroadwayView up Broadway

This one block was instrumental in the financing of the West, they helped facilitate the gold rushes by providing safe shipments of gold back east and they helped settle and develop the western territories.  The building in the middle belonged to what company founded by Wells and Fargo, a company that invented the traveller’s check?

In 1958, they introduced their very famous credit card.

This byte was directed by Peter Flynn.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

 

4CITY HALL PARK, PART ONE
2x the Price of Alaska

City Hall (1803-1811) was designed by Joseph Francois Mangin and John McComb, Jr.  Mangin was also the architect of Government House (mentioned above, in the notes to Bowling Green, Part Two), the Park Row Theater, and the first St. Patrick's between Mulberry and Mott.  John McComb, Jr. was the architect of Hamilton Grange, Castle Clinton, and Gracie Mansion.  For photographs of the beautiful (and closed-to-the-public) interior and for photos of the lost City Hall subway station, click New York Architecture Images.

This byte was directed by Sheilagh Weymouth.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Sheilagh Weymouth has been involved in professional theatrics of one kind or another since age 5.  Her roles range from performer to choreographer to director to writer to producer to make-up artist to fight choreographer to superb audience member.  Her day gig is a holistic primary care physician in her beloved Manhattan where she shares a tiny penthouse aerie and a damn good life with Cayce Crown.  www.wholelifehealthcare.com

 

5CITY HALL PARK, PART TWO
Bargain Basement Bones

Here's a story of Frederk MacMonnies and his two City Hall Park statues.  His earliest, Nathan Hale, stands directly in front of City Hall.  A Connecticut schoolteacher, Nathan Hale, was hanged by the British as a spy early on in the Revolution and is famous for his last words:  “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”  He was executed farther uptown, Sixty-sixth and Third perhaps, but the statue was placed near City Hall, because the Commons was a major gathering space during the years leading up to the Revoltion.  The Sons of Liberty held rallies and the Declaration of Independence was read here.

 

Nathan Hale, facing City Hall...

At the end of the 1800's, Frederick MacMonnies wanted something in the park to inspire all the young men in the neighborhood to make something of themselves, "to make something that would set the bootblacks and little clerks around here thinking, something that would make them want to be somebody and find life worth living.”  He himself was in his twenties, a student of the renowned Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and this statue launched his career.

In 1922, decades after he created Nathan Hale and his Washington as Commander in Chief on the Washington Square Arch, he unveiled Civic Virtue in front of City Hall (where Nathan Hale now stands).  Supposedly the largest statue to be carved out of a single block of marble since Michaelangelo’s David, Civic Virtue was a large nude man--his private virtue covered with seaweed--looking forward and stomping out vice or temptation.  Unfortunately, temptation was depicted as two female sirens and he was stepping on one of their necks.  Women had just gotten the right to vote and this statue set at City Hall was a little unnerving.

Civic Virtue, mooning City Hall...


When LaGuardia became mayor he let it be known that he hated being mooned every time he entered or left City Hall.  The public shared his dislike, routinely calling the sculpture "Fat Boy," but no one knew what to do with it.  Then, in the 1940's, the new Queens Borough Hall opened and LaGuardia took a page out of my Aunt Susan’s playbook:  "Have I got a gift for YOU!"  Civic Virtue has been in Queens ever since...and so it can be said that there has not been Civic Virtue in Manhattan for over half a century.

This byte was directed by Sheilagh Weymouth.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Sheilagh Weymouth has been involved in professional theatrics of one kind or another since age 5.  Her roles range from performer to choreographer to director to writer to producer to make-up artist to fight choreographer to superb audience member.  Her day gig is a holistic primary care physician in her beloved Manhattan where she shares a tiny penthouse aerie and a damn good life with Cayce Crown.  www.wholelifehealthcare.com

 

 

6OUTTAKES WITH HUDSON

A few things that might need explaining:

When Hudson takes his mark and shouts on the steps behind me, he's delivering his line ("You can say that again") and then improvising gestures from Spiderman.  We had to give the actor some room as he explored his character, but for copyright reasons, we could not use this performance in the original video, brilliant as it is.

When I burst out laughing, it's because Hudson, absorbed in the task of wrapping my hand, was also listening to my story and added out of nowhere, "Whoa, that's a lot of..." stopping himself since he wasn't sure what he was saying.  We did keep the "whoa" in the original video.

Hudson loved the bull.  His only problem had to do with the scores of tourists who wouldn't leave him and his newfound sculpture alone.  It might be difficult to hear, but Hudson says, "I don't want to," when Peter tries to coax him away so that the woman can fulfill her life's dream and pose with the bull's testicles. 

Finally, no child was harmed in the making of these videos.  The time line was a joke--Hudson was done by lunch--and the reason he was crying was not because he was exhausted but because we didn't have anything else for him to shoot.

 

7WASHINGTON SQUARE, PART ONE
"Smoke, Smoke"

 

The Tree

The tree in the northwest corner of the park is often referred to as the Hangman's Elm or the Hanging Tree.  It was from this tree that a couple dozen highwaymen were supposedly hung during the Marquis de Lafayette's visit in the 1820's.  I've always doubted that fact whenever I've looked up at the branches, which seem too thin to bear the weight of a couple dozen highwaymen even if they were hung one at a time.  Maybe the tree has been pruned, I would say to myself, and the more substantial branches of the nineteenth century have long been sawn away.  When I was preparing to shoot this video I found a pdf file of a map from the nineteenth century that located the execution tree outside the boundaries of Washington Square.  (Can't find it now.)  Other sources write that no one was hung from the tree but from gallows assembled nearby.

So forget the name--its real claim to fame, according to the New York City Parks Department, is that it is the oldest tree in Manhattan (329 years).  That would mean it sprouted in 1679, twenty years before the wall of Wall Street was dismantled.  Again, it doesn't seem possible.  The Central Park elms that line the Mall were planted in the 1920's and appear far bigger than this one.  Then again, those are American elms and this is an English elm.  Maybe English elms are smaller.  I don't know.  That tree gives me trouble, I'm very suspicious of it, which explains why we didn't feature it in either of these bytes.  There's a part of me tempted to sneak down there one night, cut it down and count the rings, but the park's already lost at least eight trees in the course of relocating the fountain.  Besides, how I would I feel if I went through all that effort and then counted more than three hundred rings?

The Arch

In preparing to shoot this byte, I also read that the arch in Washington Square is taller than any arch built in antiquity.  I thought that was a strange claim.  True, it is 77 feet tall, but the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is more than twice as tall (165') and the Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang, North Korea is the largest in the world at almost 200 feet.  So big deal that our arch is taller than the arches of antiquity.  This claim reminds me somehow of my grandfather, who told me one morning that his aunt had just turned 124 and asked me if I didn't think that was impressive.  I told him it was very impressive and that it had to be some kind of record.  I asked where she was living, and he told me she had died a long, long time ago.  'Twas a baffling breakfast.

This byte was directed by Peter Flynn.  The author, Ellis Avery, played the politically-conscious and disgruntled passerby.

Ellis Avery is my fellow Lambda Debut winner and the author of The Teahouse Fire, one of the most perfect works of historical fiction I've ever read.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

 

8WASHINGTON SQUARE, PART TWO
A Sprinting Tour

The Sword

Regarding the Garibaldi statue, there was another legend concerning the sword:  Garibaldi would pull the weapon from its scabbard if a damsel in the park were in distress.  In the sixties, unfortunately, the scabbard was removed after being vandalized and, though the sword and scabbard were replaced in 2000, the decades preceding their restoration are considered by park historians as the toughest era for damsels.

This byte was directed by Peter Flynn.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

 

9ASTOR PLACE
Riots at the Opera

A few Astor Place factoids:

Another name for Colonnade Row, located on the street named after the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825, was LaGrange Terrace, the name of the French country estate of our country's first honorary citizen.

Colonnade Row, home to white men after they made their fortunes is now home to blue men who used the venue to make their fortunes.  The little performance piece that opened here off-Broadway in 1991 has grown into an empire with current shows playing in New York, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Berlin, Oberhausen, Stuttgart and Orlando.   Their How To Be a Megastar Tour 2.0 is currently touring 105 U.S. cities and they've also moved into toy development, film and TV scoring, commercial campaigns, and television programs (remember Tobias on Arrested Development?). 

The Sculpture for Living now sells apartments under the name Astor Place Condos, which is generic, but far less dorky.  Did they change the name because of this byte?  Let's say yes.

Tony Rosenthal's Cube or "Alamo" (1966-1967) was one of the first abstract sculptures permanently installed in New  York and has been praised for its perfect scale--a scale chosen because 8' was the largest cube he could transport by truck.

This byte was directed by Peter Flynn, who also played the IGNORANT passerby!  Zora Rasmussen was the proud and outraged resident of the Sculpture for Living.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

Zora Rasmussen, a former comic and actress from the golden age of stand-up in New York, is one of my favorite guides and gives a mean Chinatown tour.  Put down your crappy knock-offs and follow her for dim sum.


10COOPER SQUARE
From Locomotives to Jell-O

For years, I've been sharing with my groups the little-known fact that Jell-O was the least popular dessert in the cafeteria at Ellis Island.  The immigrants had never seen anything like this shakeable delicacy and left it untouched.

Here is some other fascinating gelatin trivia from the Jell-O entry at Wikipedia:

--Peter Cooper's US Patent 4084 for powdered gelatin was derived from the bones of geese!!!

--Decades later, the patent was sold to a carpenter and cough syrup manufacturer, Pearle B. Wait, from LeRoy, New York.  He and his wife added strawberry, raspberry, orange, and lemon flavoring to the powder and gave the food the name "Jell-O" in 1897. 

--The Wait's sold their unsuccessful business to their neighbor, Orator Francis Woodward in 1899. 

--There was a chocolate Jell-O, but that was discontinued in 1927.

--Nine years later, chocolate returned as an instant pudding made with milk.  This was soon followed by vanilla, tapioca, coconut, pistachio, butterscotch, egg custard, flan, and rice pudding.

--In the 1950's Jell-O salads became so popular that Jell-O produced vegetable flavors:  celery, Italian, mixed vegetable, and seasoned tomato.  These did not last.

And most fascinating:

--"...fresh pineapple, papaya, kiwi, and ginger root cannot be used, since they contain enzymes which prevent the gelatin from 'setting.'" 

This byte was directed by Peter Flynn.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Hudson Flynn, preferring payment in cupcakes, has become one of the most popular actors of his generation.

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

 

11UNION SQUARE, PART ONE
Gandhi at Dead Man’s Curve

In the eighteenth century, this was part of Elias Brevoort's farm.  In 1811, the year of the Commissioner's Plan, this area where the Bowery and Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) meet was known as Union Place and it stretched from 17th Street all the way down to 10th.  (14th Street became the southern boundary by 1815.)  First called Union Square in 1831, the neighborhood around the square was developed in 1839 by Samuel Ruggles, who created Gramercy Park.  Like Gramercy Park, this was also a fenced-in public space.

It was quickly surrounded by mansions and theaters and concert halls including the Academy of Music (1854) whose snobbery and limited seating led the nouveau riche of the city to build their own damn opera house.  They called theirs the Metropolitan and it opened uptown in 1883.  The Academy of Music was forced out of business three years later.  The square became synonymous with shopping as the midpoint of Ladies' Mile and the home of both Tiffany's and Brentano's.  After World War I, the high end establishments had moved uptown and the neighborhood filled with burlesque theaters and shooting galleries, which were followed by cheaper department stores. 

Several structural changes have been made since 1839.  In the 1870's, Olmsted and Vaux, designers of Central Park, were the ones to remove the fence and surrounding hedge to make the park more amenable to public meetings.  In the 1920's, the entire park was destroyed and then rebuilt above street level to accommodate construction of the underground concourse for the subway.  And in 1985, after decades of neglect, Union Square was given the look it has today with its southern plaza, central lawn, and subway kiosks.  Park renovation is still very much a part of today's debate--arguments about a new redesign were heard in court just last week.  (Read here.)

This byte was directed by Peter Flynn.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

 

12UNION SQUARE, PART TWO
The “What’s-up-with-That” Tour

Some interesting trivia about the Washington statue:

--George Washington (1853-1855) by Henry Kirke Brown was the first outdoor sculpture erected since the statue of King George in Bowling Green.  (That gilded statue was torn down in 1776 and melted by Washington's army.  Most of it ended up in the form of musket balls shot into the British redcoats at the Battle of Long Island in Brooklyn.  For more information, see the first byte above:  Bowling Green, The Little Tourists Who Could.)

--George Washington was only the second equestrian statue to be cast in the United States--the first was Andrew Jackson which is near the White House in Washington, D.C.

--George Washington was once located at the intersection of what is now Park Avenue South and 14th Street, but it was moved into the Square to open up more of the street to the automobile.

--One of our greatest sculptors, John Quincy Adams Ward, assisted Brown on this very famous statue.  Ward would later go on to create his own very famous Washington statue--that George Washington (1883) stands above Wall Street, on the steps of Federal Hall. 

--Brown himself would go on to sculpt New York's first outdoor statue of Abraham Lincoln three years after that president was asssassinated.  It stands in the northern section of the park.

For more information on the METRONOME by Kristin Jones and Andrew Ginzel, visit their website

One last note:  the beautiful building which Barnes and Noble now occupies on 17th Street was built (1880-1881) for the home of the Century Company which published the remarkable Century Magazine from 1881-1930.  Thanks to Cornell University, issues from 1881-1899 can be read online.  For hours of browsing the original pages filled with works by Mark Twain, Emma Lazarus, Frederick Douglass, William Tecumseh Sherman, Henry James, Joel Chandler Harris, and Theodore Roosevelt, click here.  (WARNING:  HIGHLY ADDICTIVE.)

This byte was directed by Peter Flynn.   Zora and Inger Rasmussen were the two women perplexed by the Metronome.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Peter Flynn is one of my most trusted friends and directors.  As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway as the Scarlet Pimpernel and most recently as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast.  He’s also the author of Lily, a musical adaptation of

The House of Mirth.  www.peter-flynn.com

Zora and Inger Rasmussen are sisters who give tours of their cities--Zora of New York, Inger of Rome.



13OUTTAKES, DAY TWO

These should be straightforward, but I'll write something here if you have any questions.

 

14MADISON SQUARE, PART ONE
New Yorkers to the Rescue

This ridiculous byte was inspired by the few times I was sick on a tour and wondered what would happen if I had to make a quick exit.  Hopefully, there would be a New Yorker standing in the wings.

More substantial notes for Madison Square will be posted when I return from my travels...by the time we post the second Madison Square video.

This byte was directed by Nona Lloyd.  The helpful New Yorkers were played by (in order of appearance) Jim Dykes, Marta Sanders, Cindy Keiter, and Joe Clancy.

Joe Clancy is an actor and the artistic director of The Drilling Company, home of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. Coming this summer: Twelfth Night and Henry V. Catch Joe as Henry.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Jim Dykes is an actor and guide who's known city-wide as an authority on the rich and famous, the owner of a company, actually, that specializes in these tours:  www.richandfamoustours.com.

Cindy Keiter is a Manhattan Theatre Source regular, appearing as Juror #6 in 12 Angry Women, Meg in A Lie of the Mind and Madame Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard.  She also recently toured Hawaii in her solo show, They Call My Dad the General, inspired by the life of her father, Les Keiter, the legendary sportscaster whose international career spans 6 decades. She wasalso just on on ABC's Primetime What Would You Do? playing duel roles as perp/victim.

Nona Lloyd is a director whose focus is working and developing new material...including plays by Robert Westfield. She was the Associate Director of THE COLOR PURPLE for the Broadway and Natioinal Tour productions.

Marta Sanders is a Broadway (original company The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas) and award winning cabaret singer ("Outstanding Female Vocalist" Manhattan Assoc. of Cabarets and Backstage " Bistro" award).  Her most recent recording:  Marta Sanders:  Corazon del Alma.  (Trivia:  Marta Sanders appears in Suspension as an acquaintance of chanteuse/masseuse, Sonia Obolensky.)  www.martasanders.com

 

15MADISON SQUARE, PART TWO
Westfield’s Folly

BASEBALL

The playing field for the Knickerbocker Baseball Club was located here at 27th and Madison. A social club founded in 1845, the New York Knickerbockers drafted the rules of the modern game, most importantly the alteration that fielders could not get an “out” by throwing the ball at the runner.  Prior to this drafting, the game had more similarities with dodgeball than it does today.  The New York Knickerbockers played the first official competitive game the following year against the “New York Nine” in Hoboken, New Jersey and, despite writing the rules, they lost 23-1.  (As soon as the game was over, a Knickerbocker shouted:  "Okay, new rule--lowest score wins!!")

 

ROSCOE CONKLING

There are lots of conflicting stories about the death of Roscoe Conkling during the Blizzard of 1888.  Some have him dying in the snow in Union Square, others have him dying where his statue now stands (though it’s been relocated), but Miriam Berman, author of Madison Square, The Park and its Celebrated Landmarks, reports that he didn’t die in either park.  After trudging three miles through the snow from Wall Street, he collapsed in the lobby of the New York Club at the corner of 25th Street and Broadway.  "Exposure to the cold resulted, some three weeks later, in an abscess to the base of his brain.  He died six weeks later in the Hoffman House."  There’s also a story that some leaders tried to memorialize him in Union Square, but he didn’t pass muster.  Union Square featured statues of Washington and Lincoln—there was no room for a Conkling, so they put that poor bastard up here.  But that story seems fishy; besides, not only was Madison Square home to Conkling, but by the late 1800's, Madison Square was the more fashionable of the two parks.

Conkling's statue was designed by John Quincey Adams Ward who gave us the Washington statue on Wall Street and assisted on the Washington statue at Union Square.

CHESTER A. ARTHUR

One interesting tidbit:  Arthur was a New York lawyer and collector for New York’s Customs until he was removed by President Hayes because of corrupt practices.  Shortly afterwards, he was chosen as the running mate for James Garfield, who replaced Hayes in 1881.  Within a year, after Garfield's assassination, Chester A. Arthur was residing in the White House, so recently vacated by the man who had fired him.

The decision to run Arthur might have been discussed in the Amen Corner, the part of the lobby at the Fifth Avenue Hotel (Eno's Folly).  According to Miriam Berman again, this corner was where many early Republican decisions were made:  "The plan to make Ulysses S. Grant president was conceived here.  In 1876 another gathering inspired by William C. Whitney contested the election of Samuel J. Tilden...thereby giving the presidency to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes....Theodore Roosevelt cultivated a cuple of his political moves here.  In 1886 he became a candidate for mayor of New York against Abram S. Hewitt and Henry George.  Roosevelt set up his headquarters at the hotel nad became known, because of his love of the West, as the 'cowboy candidate.'...In 1898...members of the Republican Party met in the 'amen corner' and placed his name into nomination for governor of New York."  (Like Arthur, Roosevelt made it to the White House after the assassination of the President with whom he campaigned for VP.)

WILLIAM H. SEWARD

The persistent story about Lincoln’s body and Seward’s head is interesting when you consider that on the night Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater, Lewis Paine, one of the conspirators, stabbed Seward repeatedly in the neck and face while he lay in bed recovering from a carriage accident that almost killed him.  Seward who survived the carriage accident, survived the assassination attempt as well.  Paine was executed three months later.

CHRISTMAS TREE

A number of guide books often claim that the tree in Madison Square was the first community Christmas tree in the U.S., but on a recent trip to San Diego, I found this sign outside the Hotel del Coronado: 

 

    

Maybe, since it is located on hotel property, it wasn't considered a "community" Christmas tree...or maybe it's another example of New Yorkers saying, "We're number one."  (See the notes below for Herald Square, Part One.)

 

This byte was directed by Nona Lloyd.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Nona Lloyd is a director whose focus is working and developing new material...including plays by Robert Westfield. She was the Associate Director of THE COLOR PURPLE for the Broadway and Natioinal Tour productions.

 

16HERALD SQUARE, PART ONE
It’s Not All Macy’s

--Macy's began in 1858 as a dry goods store of R.H. Macy, who had failed in attempts to sell provisions during the gold rush in California and the land rush in Wisconsin.  A former mariner on a whaling ship, Macy had a star tatoo on his hand which served as the new store's logo.  By the time he died nineteen years later, he had turned his dry good store into a large department store.  Macy's soon came to be known for several innovations. When Macy’s moved to Herald Square in 1902, their new building was the first in the world to install escalators.

--The first escalator by the way was out near a pier at Coney Island in 1896.

--That's why I made it a point to say "their new building was the first in the world..."

--Although I read somewhere that Harrod’s had an escalator in 1895.

--That date's in dispute.

--Well, it was still the first.  Also Bloomingdale’s in 1898...not there anymore...but before Macy's...

--Well, Macy’s owns Bloomingdale’s, so whatever.  Macy’s had the first of a specific kind of escalator in the world.  And it’s still running.  The others aren’t.  Macy’s is also the largest store…

--Although Harrod’s…

--The Guinness Book of World Records says Macy’s.

--And not GUM in Moscow?

--No.

--Or the store in Tokyo with the…

--NO!  Macy’s had the first money-back guarantee, cash-only sales, and fixed prices. 

--Now come on, you're forgetting Wanamaker’s and A.T. Stewart.

--Macy’s also had the first in-store Santa Claus.  1870.

--Maybe New York’s first.  There was the storekeeper in Philadelphia who hired a man to dress up as Santa and climb his chimney in 1841.  And there was a Boston store…

--Did kids sit on their laps?  NO!  Also, someone in the foodstuffs department invented the teabag.

--Oh, did Thomas Sullivan work at Macy’s?

--Why do you ask?

--Because a hundred years ago, Thomas Sullivan was a New York tea merchant who started sending tea samples in small silk bags to his customers.  The customers, funny story, thought that they were supposed to put the bags into the hot water.  Anyway, it became a popular way of making tea and soon Sullivan was using gauze.  They were made of paper in the Twenties.  OW!  I'm, I'm bleeding.  I'm bleeding.

--This way everyone.  On your left...

This byte was directed by Nona Lloyd.  The newlyweds were played by Bruce Roberts and Phebe Taylor.  The real estate agent was played by Walter Hershman while Macy's and Siegel Cooper were represented respectively by Janice Goldberg and Bruce Roberts.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Janice Goldberg is a director of new plays in all genres and has worked in various venues uptown and down.  She’s currently working on a new project about Dorothy Parker that will be remounted at the NY Fringe this summer.  Rose Colored Glass, which she co-wrote with Susan Bigelow, was recently published by Samuel French

Walter Hershman has made his home in New York since 1991. He came as a young actor ready to take on the world. Now he's...an old actor ready to take on the world.

Nona Lloyd is a director whose focus is working and developing new material...including plays by Robert Westfield. She was the Associate Director of THE COLOR PURPLE for the Broadway and Natioinal Tour productions.

Bruce Roberts has been seen on stage, on the big screen, and in many commercials.  A jack of all trades, he also gives film and television tours of the city; lectures on the "art of the business" to universities, pageants and showcases; has supplied marketing and managing support to a number of theatrical productions; and is a proud staff member of the renowned Gene Frankel Studios.

Phebe Taylor is a company member of the Pushcart Players, a nationally touring repertory theatre for young audiences.  She also gives tours and is among the shortest guides out there on the streets.  She also would like you to know that she loves to salsa and that she attends the Indianapolis 500, the greatest spectacle in racing, every year.

 

17HERALD SQUARE, PART TWO
“Actuality…”

For a great selection of genuine "actualities," visit the CELLULOID SKYLINE of James Sanders who has provided links to fifty-five of our country's earliest movies.  (Not the world's, I should note, as the Lumiere Brothers in France beat Edison by four months.)

*****

The southern part of Herald Square, by the way, where so many of the actualities were shot, is actually a triangle called Greeley Square.  Just as Times Square is composed of Times and Duffy, Herald is composed of Herald and Greeley.  The New York Herald was a newspaper…that Greeley did not edit.  Greeley was the editor of The Tribune

THE MAN

Horace "Go West, young man" Greeley was the editor of the New York Tribune. A progressive newspaperman, he was a proponent of abolition and vegetarianism and, as Pete Hamill writes, every other ism. He was also one of the founders of the Republican party which has changed a little from what Greeley imagined.  (An advocate for a particular form of socialism, this was a man who hired Karl Marx as a European correspondent.)  He abandoned the party by the end of his life and ran against US Grant in 1872 under the Liberal Republican Party.  He lost in a landslide and died before the electoral votes could be counted.

THE PAPERS

Back to the newspaper:  In the mid-1800's, the New York Tribune was the most influential newspaper in the country, but at the end of his life, Greeley watched as it was taken over by the former owner of the Herald.  The Tribune diminished in stature over the years.  In 1894, Greeley's statue went up facing the headquarters of his former rival, the Herald, which continued going strong enough to have its name attached to the square.  In the 1920's, however, the Tribune surprised everyone by buying the Herald ("Jonah just swallowed the whale"), creating the New York Herald TribuneThe International Herald Tribune, which is still sold in Europe, is now owned by The New York Times. Confused? Sorry. 

THE STATUES

There are two important Greeley statues in Manhattan.  The superior one is downtown in City Hall Park, sculpted by the amazing John Quincey Adams Ward.  But the statue in Greeley Square is notable for the scarf the subject seems to be wearing.  In fact, it's an accentuation of Greeley's famous facial hair…although it’s not really facial.  It’s been written that Greeley sported one of the most famous neck beards of the nineteenth century.  I think you can safely say of “all time.”  Who else wore neckbeards?

 

Greeley in City Hall Park by John Quincey Adams Ward   Note the squirrel around his neck...

 

This byte was directed by Nona Lloyd.   Music: Kevin MacLeod.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Janice Goldberg is a director of new plays in all genres and has worked in various venues uptown and down.  She’s currently working on a new project about Dorothy Parker that will be remounted at the NY Fringe this summer.  Rose Colored Glass, which she co-wrote with Susan Bigelow, was recently published by Samuel French

Lily Hershman is "making her debut not only on the bytes, but as an actress.  Her day job is as a manicurist in the city.  The happiest day of her life was the day she met the man of her dreams, the man who she would end up marrying--the VERY handsome, VERY funny, and VERY talented Walter Her.... Stop that!  I thought this was supposed to be about me!  Get away from the computer!"

Walter Hershman has made his home in New York since 1991. He came as a young actor ready to take on the world. Now he's...an old actor ready to take on the world.

Nona Lloyd is a director whose focus is working and developing new material...including plays by Robert Westfield. She was the Associate Director of THE COLOR PURPLE for the Broadway and Natioinal Tour productions.

Bruce Roberts has been seen on stage, on the big screen, and in many commercials.  A jack of all trades, he also gives film and television tours of the city; lectures on the "art of the business" to universities, pageants and showcases; has supplied marketing and managing support to a number of theatrical productions; and is a proud staff member of the renowned Gene Frankel Studios.

Phebe Taylor is a company member of the Pushcart Players, a nationally touring repertory theatre for young audiences.  She also gives tours and is among the shortest guides out there on the streets.  She also would like you to know that she loves to salsa and that she attends the Indianapolis 500, the greatest spectacle in racing, every year.

 

 

18TIMES SQUARE
The World’s Biggest T.V.

We were in Times Square for three bytes on our third video tour, and to watch Broadway with Marta, Behind the Billboards, and A One-block Specialist, click Crossing Manhattan at 46th Street.

Follow the link for more information on the Times Square Alliance as well as for upcoming events in Times Square.

In the midst of all the new skyscrapers that have risen along 42nd Street in the last decade, you can still find (at the southeast corner of 42nd and Broadway) the Knickerbocker Hotel, one of the grand hotels built during the birth of Times Square.  Financed by an Astor it became a popular dining and dancing spot.  The gin mill, a world-class bar, could be accessed through the subway (you can see the door with the Knickerbocker sign on Track 1 for the shuttle) and was nicknamed the "42nd Street Country Club."  Prohibition closed the bar in 1921 and the hotel itself closed during the Depression.

A claim to fame is that a bartender by the name of Martini de Arma di Taggia invented the martini in 1912; however, there is plenty of evidence that the martini was invented in the late 1800's...perhaps on the west coast.

Another claim to fame was that the Knickerbocker served as a residence for the opera singer, Enrico Caruso.  While the Times Square celebrations at the end of WWII featured a sailor kissing a nurse, the celebrations at the end of WWI featured Caruso and the Knickerbocker Hotel.  From a balcony high above the streets, Caruso led the crowd below in singing the Star Spangled Banner as well as the national anthems of France and Italy.  (Not England?  Interesting.) 

This byte was directed by Nona Lloyd.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Nona Lloyd is a director whose focus is working and developing new material...including plays by Robert Westfield. She was the Associate Director of THE COLOR PURPLE for the Broadway and Natioinal Tour productions.

 

19COLUMBUS CIRCLE
2 Statues, 1 Woman

One last bit of trivia: 

In Madison Square, Part Two:  Westfield's Folly (above), I mentioned the Fifth Avenue Hotel built by Amos Eno which critics dubbed "Eno's Folly."  Well, Amos Eno was the father of William Eno, who was the father of the traffic circle, the safety island, the one-way street, etc.  Miriam Berman in her book, Madison Square, The Park and its Celebrated Landmarks, wonders "if his interest in easing complicated traffic situations grew out of his early observations at his father's side on Madison Square.

This byte was directed by Nona Lloyd.   April Ortiz played the actress gone wild.

Cayce Crown is the brilliant videographer and editor and my partner in crime in this Little Bytes endeavor.  She owns and operates the Crown View, Inc. where she promises to shoot your family so you don’t have to.  www.thecrownview.com.  

Nona Lloyd is a director whose focus is working and developing new material...including plays by Robert Westfield. She was the Associate Director of THE COLOR PURPLE for the Broadway and Natioinal Tour productions.

April Ortiz is a great actress and friend, currently performing in a show at the Public Theatre called TIO PEPE.  She'll be doing a new musical in September called CASTRONAUTS , and currently re-working  her one-woman show, SWITCHED AT BIRTH, for a New York production TBD.

 

20OUTTAKES, DAY THREE

O, how many pairs of shorts and jeans have I ruined with ink?  Thanks to Nona Lloyd, who directed the last several bytes, for keeping the stain off camera or beneath my hand throughout Herald and Madison Squares. 

This ends the fourth video tour.  This summer we'll begin editing the fifth, a tour of my neighborhood at the top of Manhattan.  In the meantime, we'll be posting some of our favorite videos on the home page.  Thanks for watching!


 

©2008 Robert Westfield