David Schwimmer had an 1852 East Village townhouse torn down to make way for his new digs, so an irate New Yorker retaliated by painting “Ross Is Not Cool” at the construction site. I got a pretty good chuckle out of it, which is more than I can say for the average episode of Friends.
Tag Archives: New York
We didn’t focus as strictly on historic sites in New York as we did in Boston, but we did manage to do a little heritage touring on our last day in the Big Apple. We made a point of visiting Federal Hall National Memorial on Wall Street, site of the nation’s first Capitol and George Washington’s first inauguration. The original building is gone, but today an impressive classical structure and a statue of Washington mark the spot.
Inside the building is an exhibit on the trial of colonial printer John Peter Zenger, arrested for publishing articles critical of New York’s royal governor. Zenger’s 1735 trial for seditious libel in the original Federal Hall—at that time it was New York’s City Hall—proved to be a landmark case in the history of freedom of the press. His lawyer argued that demonstrably factual statements cannot be considered libelous, the jury agreed, and Zenger walked away a free man.
You’ll also find Washington’s inaugural Bible inside, on loan from St. John’s Lodge…
…and the stone on which he stood while taking the oath of office.
After the inaugural ceremony, Washington attended a service at nearby St. Paul’s Chapel. He continued to worship there while the capital remained in New York, and you can still see his pew, right underneath an oil painting of the Great Seal of the U.S.
On the east side of the church is a memorial to Gen. Richard Montgomery, killed while leading the attack on Quebec at the end of 1775. Montgomery’s remains were moved to St. Paul’s with a great deal of fanfare in 1818.
Unlike its mother church, St. Paul’s Chapel made it through the great New York fire of ’76 and is now the oldest church building in the city. In fact, surviving catastrophes has been something of a hallmark of St. Paul’s. It’s right next to the World Trade Center site, but miraculously came through the 9/11 attacks without any major damage. Visitors left thousands of stuffed animals, flowers, cards, and other memorials around the church after the attacks, and some of these mementoes are on exhibit inside the sanctuary. (You can see a few of them in the photo of Washington’s pew.) Emergency personnel working at the WTC site stayed at St. Paul’s during the recovery effort. And the building is still there, a dozen years after that awful September morning and more than two centuries since Washington stepped inside on the very day American government opened for business.
This weekend the DAR is dedicating a marker to Gen. Horatio Gates at Trinity Church in New York. Gates was buried somewhere in the churchyard, but the exact location of his grave has been forgotten.
These days Gates is most famous for two things: his plummet from the hero of Saratoga in 1777 to the laughingstock of Camden in 1780, and his association with the Conway Cabal’s attempt to sabotage Washington’s command. It only took a few years, a series of disastrous miscalculations, and a generous dose of narcissism to send his career into a tailspin. He’s sort of like the M. Night Shyamalan of Rev War generals.
Here’s the site of the Battle of Long Island—the largest battle of the Revolutionary War and the first battle waged by an army of the independent United States of America.
More bleak news about the travails of trying to manage a cultural attraction while the economy’s in the toilet.
When I was an intern, I spent a fair amount of time manning a cash register in a museum lobby. Some visitors used to complain about admission costs (a paltry four or five bucks per adult back in those days), remarking that we must have been glad we such a nice little cash cow going. They were so wrong it wasn’t even funny. In many museums, admissions revenue rarely even comes close to meeting operating expenses. Indeed, in many cases, it doesn’t even cover basic maintenance costs. Keep that in mind the next time you feel like griping to the guy at the ticket counter.