A bunch of savvy New York Greeters who know almost everything about their city were excited to learn some things they don’t know about New York. Greeter Tom Keating’s slide presentation showed us the historic and the unusual as he took us with him to different parts of the city.
We learned the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 83rd Street and Fifth Avenue is the world’s largest cultural institution. Tom knew the dates when all the wings were added, many in different styles. The museum boasts such masterpieces as The Temple of Dendur, donated by Egypt in 1978, and Claude Monet’s beloved “Water Lilies”.
The Castle Clinton National Monument at the southern tip of Manhattan was originally a fort in the Revolutionary War. Constantly re-inventing itself, it turned into a garden, a performing arts center, the New York Aquarium and today it is a ticket booth for the Statue of Liberty.
The Oculus, the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub that opened in 2016, is curvy, lyrical, and seems as if it’s about to take off. In 1919, the Second Avenue subway was originally proposed, and only 98 years later (2017) it took its first passengers. Filled with artwork showing regular people, it makes regular New Yorkers feel special.
Did you know that the High Line, a park above street level from Gansevoort to 34th Street is one of the city’s most popular attractions? Or that Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s huge art collection was turned down by the Metropolitan Museum because it wasn’t European? Thumbing her nose, she started The Whitney Museum of American Art in 1931. Originally on 8th Street, the Whitney just opened a beautiful new building at the south end of the High Line.
Tom finished his program with “The 843 acres of serenity and tranquility known as Central Park.” In 1857, City Hall held a competition to design the park. Among the 33 entrants, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won the job, possibly because only their design had transverse roads at 66th, 79th, 89th, and 96th Streets.
One bittersweet note: The Park’s Sheep Meadow no longer has sheep. A baaaa-d decision by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses in 1934.