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Old 09-04-2012, 10:26 PM   #166
GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes
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Never mind the Kool-Aid, don’t drink the Beverly!
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Chapter 4: Balloons Over Broadway
(Day 4 – The Main Event)




Part 7: The Study of Pressure and Time














“An ice age here, a million years of mountain-building there, plates of bedrock grinding against each other over a span of millennia...”


It took many of those millennia and almost unfathomable forces to create the Island of Manhattan. But it only took a few hundreds years for people to reshape it.

Hummm…. Ya’ know, that may just make for an interesting Bonus Feature…



Oh wait… I’m already working on an update.
I probably ought to stick to the topic at hand for the time being
.

As I was saying…

Pressure and force are integral parts of physical existence, but they are also major players in human interaction. Just on a ridiculously smaller scale (although, being human, we’d like the privilege of believin’ that our travails far outweigh the importance of any force of nature). For us, time was growing short, and pressure had been building steadily. We just didn’t realize that last fact until it became necessary to fight back against it.
Not until escape became imperative.

But again, I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s go back to the last moment where we were still certain of ourselves and pick up the story there.




= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
All the Time in the World







The parade started moving again. The folks gathered on Tesla Corner took a moment to collectively catch their breath and then looked on blearily as the kids headed off down the Avenue of the Americas. They were now traversing the final six blocks toward 34th Street, and their turn on The Spot. Less then a half block down the way, the battery signaled a cadence turn-around and the band broke into another of their parade tunes. We got to hear them once more that day as they disappeared into the distance. It has been a fine morning to be sure.

Just at that moment something else caught my eye. Well, it’d been rather hard to miss it honestly.





How this related to the sports theme that had been going on previously, I didn’t know, but it did go along with the advertising character theme I suppose. He was also the last of the “Giant” Balloons that we’d encounter this day. Not the last one in the parade, just the last one we would see.


Well the next unit brought things solidly back into the prevailing sports theme.





Say hello to the lovely young ladies of the “Varsity Spirit Cheerleaders”. Of course if you were to attempt to introduce yourself to them individually, you’d have been busy for a while…





There were 650 of em’. That’s a lot of cheerleads right there. All I can add is: bless their poor chaperones hearts…

Now, imagine finding yourself at the MK with that group behind you and one of them “flag following” tour groups ahead of you…

I believe I’d have to find some means of escape as quickly as possible.



Something else we could also see in that last image was that our kids were now about half way between us and the turn onto 34th. Right about where “the quite zone” commences. Back in the darkness of the early morning, when the buses first arrived in the city that day, we figured there was enough time and sights ahead of us to keep us busy till Rapture. But what once seemed like all the time in the world was now starting to run short.

Short indeed.

A quick look back to the north revealed a Hail Mary in the form of our last “Novelty balloon” of the day…





…and that was followed up by some more cheerleaders. A somewhat more reasonably sized squad and they came equipped with their own float titled: “Pep Rally”







Honestly, with that wholesome image in front of me…
what my busted brain expected to see next was this vision…





But that’s a different film from the one I’ve set off to plagiarize here, so I’ll just leave it at that.




One more quick look to the south and I saw the “Pink Nightmare” disappear around the corner heading off of Sixth and westward toward the spot, banging the bass drum as he vanished. An unmistakable sign; our kids were right back where they started this morning. Making the last turn on the route.

Lookin’ back to the “north”, we see something that just screamed “South”.
Well… It might have in the narrow worlds of stereotype and pulp melodrama at least…





These are the “Mobile Azalea Trail Maids”


Honest truth… at first I thought that this had to be something dreamed up by a “Yankee” as the result of a bad acid trip which occurred during a public showing of GWTW (curse that dang movie). But nooooo… We did this to ourselves. South’nrs that is. Some individual or committee of such, who actually call the Southeast part of the nation home, went and dreamed this one up all by themselves. Now let me also say that first impressions are not always what they seem (and are generally unfair… which is the case here). I have researched this group and, these young ladies deserve more credit that they were going to be getting from the crowd that day. The City of Mobile annually chooses 50 high school seniors to serve as the city’s ambassadors and represent the traditions of "Southern Hospitality". They have to be academically gifted and are also required to be knowledgeable of Mobile’s landmarks and history. These skills are needed because they are often charged with the task of greeting and escorting foreign dignitaries and distinguished visitors.


It was just about here that everyone in our group on Tesla Corner simultaneously received a text message…

“The band just started their run …”




= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Thick as Thieves





Back to the north we could see that the theme of the parade had apparently made an official transition from all things Sports, to all things ostentatiously South’rn. The next unit on the horizon after all those hoop skirts was a float titled: “The Marion-Carole Showboat”





The celebrity of the moment was country music recording artist Shelby Lynne. I would tell you what song she was lip-syncing, but honestly, I didn’t hear it. Because it was just at that moment that every cell phone within fifteen feet of me went off again. This time the text message received simply read:

“They aced it!!!”

What that meant to us, other then we could be proud of our children, is that it was time to get a move on.

They were down there, and we were up here. It was time to get busy. Since we’d ridden in with them that morning the choice now was either get back to the busses or be left behind in the city to find our own way back to Jersey. We said our goodbyes to those that were staying, and then wriggled our way from the curb back to the wall of the building behind us.





That is the last I saw of the 2011 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Being on the front row all this time, I hadn’t realized just how packed the sidewalk had become behind us.

Until now…

But I was in for a far greater shock. As we reached the corner of the building to make the move on down 40th Street and on toward Seventh Ave, we encountered an unimaginable sea of humanity. This might give you an inkling of the biological density here…






I honestly figured there’d be about five or six more rows of folks to get past, but nothing more. I was wrong. It was more like an entire brigade of troops standing shoulder to shoulder and pushing forward as if to overwhelm a bastion. A Roman Legion could not have plugged up the roadway more thoroughly. Our group’s initial idea was to try and stay together since we were all heading toward the same ultimate destination. One of the other dads was ahead of me holding two of his younger daughters hands as he dived head long into the throngs. The little girl closest to me reached back and grabbed my hand as well. I quickly grabbed Tamara’s, she got a hold of her sister and we all sank into the crowd.

I’ve got to be honest here; this was a somewhat disturbing experience. I like my personal space and I’ve never been one to just mussel my way past and around otherwise innocent bystanders, but it had become a matter of servile. We squeezed by folk that were no less then twenty ranks back behind the barricades to begin with, and better then twenty more away from the back of the scrum. There were folks tending to strollers that had kids still sitting in them. I mean, honestly, the only thing those young’ens could possibly have seen was the butt at eye level directly in front of them. Just what was the point of that nonsense, I ask you?

As the crowd started to fight back against us (I “kid” you not), the young girl who had my hand lost her grip on her dads hand and faster the Lightning Sands in the Fire Swamp that crowd closed off the gap before she could do anything about it. I saw it happen, but couldn’t stop it either. “Daddy”, she called out. At this point the “daddy” in me kicked into high gear and there was now question of what had to be done. I hollered out just loud enough for both the girl and her father to hear me: “I’ve got you”, and then I let go of Tamara’s hand (that right there was hard to do, and I still feel bad about it… Tamara had a good hold onto her sister but even that fact don’t change things). If you could have taken a picture of our plight at this moment, it would have been very close to this overhead image of ciaos…





With two hands now available I first made sure to get a good hold of the little girls hand and then her coat collar. From here I pulled myself around ahead of the child and told her to use both hands to keep a tight grip on my hand and sleeve, while making sure to also keep a firm grip on her wrist. Then it was a matter of leading the young’en through the madness in the direction where her dad and sister had disappeared. From this point on I no longer cared whether or not the folks I was wedging myself around and amongst were offended. Very Un-South’rn of me, but their concerns were no longer mine. A few arduous minutes later, the crowd began to thin and we emerged into a clearing, and rather quickly found her dad and sister. All was well.

Lord! It's a miracle!

Well sort’a… I had lost track of Tamara, and that was not even a notion I could contemplate rationally.

I want her found! Not tomorrow, not after breakfast! Now!

I was seriously just at the brink of diving back in to the masses and beginning the process of parting the Red Sea when she and her sister finally made their way into the clearing. A quick hug and we started westward down the street and past the secondary police barrier at Seventh Avenue.





I’ve got to tell you… just writing that gave me some very vivid and disturbing flashbacks. It rather got the ol’ BP up quite a bit as well. Seriously! I think I’ll go get me a drink and I’ll be back in a moment or two…



= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Lickety-split. I wann’a get home. …




OK… I’m a bit calmer now, but that was N-V-T-S Nuts!

From the spot of that last picture, the various family groups ended up getting more separated then originally planed as each attempted to get their bearings, or stop at a vendor’s cart for drinks, or peel off in search of a privy. Well, it had been a while since anyone had the opportunity to visit the necessary, and this fact was also a concern for some members of my party. That being the case we continued on down the middle of 40th…





It’s rather odd to see folks just walking in the middle of a New York street, but with all the traffic locked out of the Midtown area it certainly helped to simplify the task of getting away from the bedlam of the parade crowd. A turn to the left and we located a Starbucks on the corner of 39th and Eighth. For those in search of some relief, this was a welcome sight. The long line for the one-person-at-a-time-ladies-room wasn’t a hit though, but at this point beggars could not be choosers.

Having a moment, I texted one of the chaperones that was with the kids and asked where the busses were parked. The answer came back: “39th between 9th and 10th”. Good, we were right where we needed to be. I related back that we had to make an emergency stop but would get there as soon as possible. This time the response was: “We won’t leave with out you… promise!”

A bit later once I’d gotten our party recombobulated, the girls asked where we needed to be. Knowing this is my job. Tamara will admit to that one. She would not have dared roam around NYC on her own, but so long as I was with her, she figured we wouldn’t be lost for very long and didn’t worry about it much. As it turned out we just needed to head two long blocks to the west. Five minutes of strolling…





…and the busses came into view. Amazingly, even with the delay, the kids hadn’t beaten us there. But they also weren’t long in arriving after that…





A little worse for wear and noticeably tuckered, they were welcomed back to their chariots with the appropriate hoots and accolades deserving of conquering heroes.





Once the larger horns and percussive implements were packed and stowed, the whole crew loaded up and the drivers got the caravan back on the road.





West bound, back through the Lincoln Tunnel and into New Jersey, we could see the daylight city skyline clearly for the first time since arriving.




Later on we’d be getting a different look at that same skyline and from a rather different perspective, but first there were about 165 kids and about thirty or so parents and siblings that were in need of a bit of down time.

So… was it worth all the time and trouble?

Easiest time I ever did.

No such thing as easy time, you say?

We still had the music (and the memories) to keep us company.




They can’t take that from you, y’ know.









Next up: Thanksgiving Diner… on the water…
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:48 PM   #167
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Bonus Feature 7:





A Closer Look (Part-3)











Well… now that I actually presented the last of the actual parade posts, I believe that it’s time that I finished up the “Closer Look” series as well. There were a lot more balloons in the first section of the parade, then in the last half (of what we saw of it that is), so I’ve been waiting until now to collect up all the better perspective shots of the Giants and Novelties un till now.

Time to get a move on… We’ll start off with the McClown.





Giving us the thumbs up of approval. Between the size of the balloon (one of the largest that day), and the angle of the character, I didn’t realize until the unit had carried him by us, just what the “story line” was for this one. Ol’ Ronald is enjoying a nice day of speed skating on some idyllic frozen lake somewhere. You just couldn’t see the skates or the balancing had behind his back until he was right on top of you.





Next up, a better look at the Novelty balloon version of “Cloe” This is based on an ornament series that the folks at Macy’s sell annually. When the design changes, the balloon changes, but generally you’ll see Cloe in one form of another during most of the Thanksgiving parades.




Also appearing is nearly every parade in the last 85 years…





The design changes fairly regular to keep up with current pop imagery and balloon construction techniques, but he’s pretty much always somewhere in the procession.



The next giant balloon we saw was Spiderman…








I’m not necessarily a big Spidey fan (more indifferent about him as animated characters go), but this was one of the nicer balloons in the parade; impressive in size, coloration, pose and execution. He was a hit with the crowd regardless of age.


The next Novelty balloons on the horizon fit into the simple imager category…





There was a similar “basket ball” balloon right behind, but I don’t really have a better image of that one. Besides, it wasn’t all that different, so I believe you get the picture pretty well with just this one here.





The pink nightmare was next on the scene. This one was a balloonicle, and they made sure to over animate the critter. This one ziged and zaged the whole way. Entertaining for the crowd… not sop much for the unit directly being the boy.




If you have kids under the age of about twenty, you’ll likely recognize this simple sphere as a “Poke’ Ball”. Simple as novelty balloons go and oddly out of context.





Well it would have been were it not immediately followed by the next of the Giant balloons…





“Pikachu”, is easily the most recognizable of the myriad of critters spawned by the Japanese television show and cards game. I can certainly say, that I’ve seen enough of him in my house over the last 17 years to be well sick of the critter. Te balloon was pretty cool though. They even went as far at to build flashing bacon lights behind the red cheek spots. Something new for a Macy’s balloon and the imagery worked pretty well.





The last balloon we actually saw that day was a novelty representation of a foolball





Pretty straight forward as images go.




= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
The Stuff we didn’t get to See





There were several other balloons appearing that day, and apparently a bunch of them showed up right after we had to make our escape.





I have tried to scout out images of those from the other parents and elsewhere on the web.

The next one in line should have been this fellow…





It’s a Tim Burton creation called: “B Boy”. He’s not actually a character from any book or film, just something Tim designed. The story is that he is made up of bits and scraps from balloons of past parades.





Very Burton-esk


The next couple I wasn’t all that unhappy to have missed. Starting with this waste of time…





That’s really not fair. If I had raised daughter, I’m sure that I’d have a very different opinion of this bit of advertising.

“It could happen’!”


Actually, I had to barrow that image because none of the other parents snapped one of it either. There is a really nice site with some very good images from the parade here…

http://totallycoolpix.com/2011/11/th...y-parade-2011/

Y’all go take a look if you like…
I don’t want to barrow anymore that our group didn’t take if I can help it.



Back to all the action that I missed…
I ain’t much of a fan of the next character either.





But that image did let me see pretty much how the last of the giant balloons would be appearing in the third of the parade that I couldn’t see live. The next one was a cross between a Santa and a bouncy-ball. You can sort’a make him out in the last picture, but I don’t have a better image of him handy. The last two however, I do have access to.


Yes Virginia, there is a Christmas…





There are some nice details on that one.


The last Giant Balloon (that I’m aware of) was this little green fell’a…





Hi Ho!


Well that’s it for the Balloons.
It’s fun to see them on the Tell’y, but they are truly impressive when you get to se ‘em up close and personal.




= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
The Big Guy





There is one other thing that our early exit from the festivities deprived us of experiencing…

the end of the show and the arrival of St Nick.


It seem only fitting that since there are a couple more images allowed in this post that I ought to use them to illustrate the grand finally of the this entire process. So here ya’ go…










Well that about wraps up the Parade section of this here TR and puts a nice jolly bow on top as well. Hope you enjoyed the show, but don’t ya’ be going off anywhere. There is still more to this expedition. Really!

Some of it is even mightily impressive.

And some more of it is very sobering.


All of it was very much worth the trip. I just hope I can do it all justice for the rest of you.










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Old 09-05-2012, 02:54 PM   #168
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Hummm…. Ya’ know, that may just make for an interesting Bonus Feature…
I'm sure it would, but you're still writing this TR 9+ months after it happened as it is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Oh wait… I’m already working on an update.
I probably ought to stick to the topic at hand for the time being
But why should you start now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
How this related to the sports theme that had been going on previously, I didn’t know, but it did go along with the advertising character theme I suppose.
Aren't they all part of that advertising theme in some shape or form?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
There were 650 of em’. That’s a lot of cheerleads right there. All I can add is: bless their poor chaperones hearts…
As the husband of the coach of about 15 - 20 high school cheerleaders, all I have to say is

Note: I would have used more smilies, but I hit my 25 picture limit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Now, imagine finding yourself at the MK with that group behind you and one of them “flag following” tour groups ahead of you…

I believe I’d have to find some means of escape as quickly as possible.
Not even funny.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Honestly, with that wholesome image in front of me…
what my busted brain expected to see next was this vision…


Now we've got a real parade!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
But that’s a different film from the one I’ve set off to plagiarize here, so I’ll just leave it at that
My suggestion to you is to start drinking heavily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
One more quick look to the south and I saw the “Pink Nightmare” disappear around the corner heading off of Sixth and westward toward the spot, banging the bass drum as he vanished.
Coincidentally, after I made a comment about having not seen him on TV anytime recently, I saw him in a commercial this weekend. I don't know if it is that I use DVR and fast forward through the commercials so often now, or if it is the fact that I've seen that thing so many times and for so many years that I'm essentially numb to his existence. Maybe a combination of the 2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
These skills are needed because they are often charged with the task of greeting and escorting foreign dignitaries and distinguished visitors.
That looks like quite a few young ladies in that picture, and it leads me to wonder...

Exactly how many foreign dignitaries and distinguished visitors actually go to Mobile, AL in a year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
What that meant to us, other then we could be proud of our children, is that it was time to get a move on.
WHAT??? The parade isn't over!!! We haven't seen Santa Claus yet!!!

Are you trying to tell me we get to go to the Macy's parade but we don't get to see Santa???

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
I hadn’t realized just how packed the sidewalk had become behind us.


Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
I like my personal space and I’ve never been one to just mussel my way past and around otherwise innocent bystanders
What about at Disney World when they tell you "there is no line, fill in all available space?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
I hollered out just loud enough for both the girl and her father to hear me: “I’ve got you”, and then I let go of Tamara’s hand (that right there was hard to do, and I still feel bad about it… Tamara had a good hold onto her sister but even that fact don’t change things).
Well done. And I hope you were forgiven.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
From this point on I no longer cared whether or not the folks I was wedging myself around and amongst were offended.
The offensive lineman in Rob was unleashed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
I’ve got to tell you… just writing that gave me some very vivid and disturbing flashbacks.
Maybe you should see a therapist?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
This time the response was: “We won’t leave with out you… promise!”
So are you saying I could still be watching the parade instead of fighting my way through approximately 234,108,632,001 people????

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Between the size of the balloon (one of the largest that day)
Rather fitting for the representative of a fast food chain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Ol’ Ronald is enjoying a nice day of speed skating on some idyllic frozen lake somewhere. You just couldn’t see the skates or the balancing had behind his back until he was right on top of you.
So he's the largest balloon, but he's working out!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Very Burton-esk
Confession time... I've never really "got" Tim Burton. Sure, I've enjoyed some of his films, but I just don't get his... whatever it is.
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:00 PM   #169
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
I'm sure it would, but you're still writing this TR 9+ months after it happened as it is.
And yet your still read along.
Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him?


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Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
But why should you start now?
Good point…
think I’ll have a brew instead.


Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
As the husband of the coach of about 15 - 20 high school cheerleaders, all I have to say is

Note: I would have used more smilies, but I hit my 25 picture limit.
I absolutely believe you here.
(And I rarely believe what you say).


Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
Not even funny.
I figured you’d be able to envision that one.


Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
Now we've got a real parade!


Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
My suggestion to you is to start drinking heavily.
Working on it!



Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
That looks like quite a few young ladies in that picture, and it leads me to wonder...

Exactly how many foreign dignitaries and distinguished visitors actually go to Mobile, AL in a year.
Interesting question. Maybe one of us ought to pose as a foreign dignitary (‘cause no one would believe that either of us was distinguished), and go research that more thoroughly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
WHAT??? The parade isn't over!!! We haven't seen Santa Claus yet!!!

Are you trying to tell me we get to go to the Macy's parade but we don't get to see Santa???
Yep… we were taking one for “the team” here.

I mentioned this unfortunate turn of events back in the “ Rumblings of Mutiny ” chapter.

Figured you’d remember, heck you’ve been reading this thing for 9+ months


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Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
What about at Disney World when they tell you "there is no line, fill in all available space?"
Not my favorite situation, But just to be at Disney...
I’ll suck it up.


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Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
Well done. And I hope you were forgiven.
Yah… she understood. Would have done the same I’m sure.


Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
Maybe you should see a therapist?
Well I’ve been drinking for a good bit now…
Wont that do me just about as much good?

And be more cost effective?


Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
So are you saying I could still be watching the parade instead of fighting my way through approximately 234,108,632,001 people????
There were limits to that promise…
Twenty minutes, I might have gotten away with.
Another hour and a half




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Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
Rather fitting for the representative of a fast food chain.
Hadn’t thought about it that way.
Nicely played.


Quote:
Originally Posted by afwdwfan View Post
Confession time... I've never really "got" Tim Burton. Sure, I've enjoyed some of his films, but I just don't get his... whatever it is.
Confession time... I have to agree with you on that one.
(Lord… and mother always told me never to agree with your nemesis).

Really, I just see most of his visuals as overtly unnecessary.
They actually interfere with what otherwise is a good story or in the worse cases
stand in as the substitute focal point for a week story by being nothing more the odd.

Last edited by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes; 09-05-2012 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 09-06-2012, 08:13 AM   #170
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
And yet your still read along.
Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him?
Who's following? I'm mocking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
I absolutely believe you here.
(And I rarely believe what you say).
You wanna talk about things that will drive you to drinking...

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
Interesting question. Maybe one of us ought to pose as a foreign dignitary (‘cause no one would believe that either of us was distinguished), and go research that more thoroughly.
Woo hoo! Road trip!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes View Post
I mentioned this unfortunate turn of events back in the “ Rumblings of Mutiny ” chapter.

Figured you’d remember, heck you’ve been reading this thing for 9+ months
I guess it has either been too long since I read it, or I just skimmed over that part.

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Yah… she understood. Would have done the same I’m sure.
Possibly even with no regrets.

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Well I’ve been drinking for a good bit now…
Wont that do me just about as much good?

And be more cost effective?
Good point!

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Confession time... I have to agree with you on that one.
(Lord… and mother always told me never to agree with your nemesis).


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Really, I just see most of his visuals as overtly unnecessary.
They actually interfere with what otherwise is a good story or in the worse cases
stand in as the substitute focal point for a week story by being nothing more the odd.
Pretty much sums it up.
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Old 09-06-2012, 08:50 AM   #171
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Working on catching up with the latest updates, but somehow I missed this:

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I don't know... the dude isn't even all that relevant. I'm not even sure when the last time was that I saw an Energizer bunny commercial on TV.

Maybe he's more a fixture of Philadelphia sports.

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A long way to go just to take a shot at Mark.
Nicely done there.


We keep losing and losing and losing and losing and losing...
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:18 AM   #172
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Part 7: The Study of Pressure and Time
That's all it takes, really. Pressure and time. That, and a big @#$% poster.

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There were 650 of em’. That’s a lot of cheerleads right there. All I can add is: bless their poor chaperones hearts…

Now, imagine finding yourself at the MK with that group behind you and one of them “flag following” tour groups ahead of you…

I believe I’d have to find some means of escape as quickly as possible.
We had one such encounter on our trip as well...

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A quick look back to the north revealed a Hail Mary in the form of our last “Novelty balloon” of the day…


This picture made me laugh. Looks like you're about to lose your camera.

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These are the “Mobile Azalea Trail Maids”
Um...ok.

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I would tell you what song she was lip-syncing, but honestly, I didn’t hear it. Because it was just at that moment that every cell phone within fifteen feet of me went off again. This time the text message received simply read:

“They aced it!!!”



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But I was in for a far greater shock. As we reached the corner of the building to make the move on down 40th Street and on toward Seventh Ave, we encountered an unimaginable sea of humanity. This might give you an inkling of the biological density here…


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One of the other dads was ahead of me holding two of his younger daughters hands as he dived head long into the throngs. The little girl closest to me reached back and grabbed my hand as well. I quickly grabbed Tamara’s, she got a hold of her sister and we all sank into the crowd.
Once more, into the breach...

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I mean, honestly, the only thing those young’ens could possibly have seen was the butt at eye level directly in front of them. Just what was the point of that nonsense, I ask you?


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“Daddy”, she called out. At this point the “daddy” in me kicked into high gear and there was now question of what had to be done. I hollered out just loud enough for both the girl and her father to hear me: “I’ve got you”, and then I let go of Tamara’s hand (that right there was hard to do, and I still feel bad about it…

With two hands now available I first made sure to get a good hold of the little girls hand and then her coat collar. From here I pulled myself around ahead of the child and told her to use both hands to keep a tight grip on my hand and sleeve, while making sure to also keep a firm grip on her wrist. Then it was a matter of leading the young’en through the madness in the direction where her dad and sister had disappeared. From this point on I no longer cared whether or not the folks I was wedging myself around and amongst were offended. Very Un-South’rn of me, but their concerns were no longer mine. A few arduous minutes later, the crowd began to thin and we emerged into a clearing, and rather quickly found her dad and sister. All was well.
Good work! That could easily have ended much worse.

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Lord! It's a miracle!

Well sort’a… I had lost track of Tamara, and that was not even a notion I could contemplate rationally.

I want her found! Not tomorrow, not after breakfast! Now!
This wasn't a conspiracy, though.

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West bound, back through the Lincoln Tunnel and into New Jersey, we could see the daylight city skyline clearly for the first time since arriving.
Happy Thanksgiving! You can spend it in New Jersey.

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Easiest time I ever did.

No such thing as easy time, you say?

We still had the music (and the memories) to keep us company.

They can’t take that from you, y’ know.
I have no idea what those two Italian ladies were singing about.

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The pink nightmare was next on the scene. This one was a balloonicle, and they made sure to over animate the critter. This one ziged and zaged the whole way. Entertaining for the crowd… not sop much for the unit directly being the boy.
You look like a pink nightmare. Do you want to wear that?

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It’s a Tim Burton creation called: “B Boy”. He’s not actually a character from any book or film, just something Tim designed. The story is that he is made up of bits and scraps from balloons of past parades.
I agree with you and Andy on Tim Burton. I don't "get" him, either. Feels like style over substance, and weird just for the sake of being weird. I can't remember any of his movies ever having much of a plot.
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Old 09-06-2012, 12:28 PM   #173
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Working on catching up with the latest updates, but somehow I missed this:
Take your time…
Not many folks are bothering with them in the first place


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We keep losing and losing and losing and losing and losing...
At least you have major league baseball in your neck of the woods.
The best we’ve got is AAA, but their moving that out of my neck of the woods and into Charlotte’s center city. Once there, the added frustration and expense of dealing with the area will pretty much rule out my ever going again.


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That's all it takes, really. Pressure and time. That, and a big @#$% poster.
What say you there fuzzy britches…



feel like talking?


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This picture made me laugh. Looks like you're about to lose your camera.
I was wondering why the ball looked like it was getting larger…
Then it hit me.


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Um...ok.
Um… yah…



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Happy Thanksgiving! You can spend it in New Jersey.
Actually… we got to spend it on the Hudson and East Rivers…
But more on that in a bit.


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I have no idea what those two Italian ladies were singing about.
Truth is, I don't want to know.
Some things are best left unsaid.


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You look like a pink nightmare. Do you want to wear that?
You’ll shoot you eye out!
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Old 09-10-2012, 09:47 PM   #174
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Chapter 4: Balloons Over Broadway
(Day 4 – The Main Event)




Part 8: Giving Thanks














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Fall Out!



Once the busses rolled back into the hotel parking lot, most folks stumbled off and headed toward their rooms. Those of us in the “Pit Crew” had things to do though. We pulled the heavy gear back off the busses and stowed it in our assigned lock down room.

Then we waited.

Not for long though. The kids started back down our way shortly afterward with their uniforms and the smaller horns. As they’d arrive we would take their gear and start to boxing n’ packing everything for the trip back home. Then we’d direct them into the next room were there directors and chaperones had set up boxes of bagged chips and such, an assortment of water and light drinks, and about 20 pizzas that had been ordered ahead and were waiting on us when we arrived. The kids grabbed themselves a snack and then disappeared back up into the higher reaches of the building.

Once the last of the gear had been dealt with it was our turn to fall out. Which I did.
When I got back to our room, the girls were chilling… I just collapsed onto the bed.





Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.




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The Atlantica






The next thing I remember was being rousted from my slumber at about dusk. It was time to get cleaned up and get a move on. We had a boat to catch. A short bus ride came first though. Between the morning’s events, a welcome nap and anticipation of an interesting excursion, everyone was in high spirits. Being in good moods, the time it took to get five busses loaded up and down to a Jersey City marina seemed like just a moment or two.





It was good to see all the kids in such fine moods and for the record, they all cleaned up real nice as well. Actually even Manhattan had gone to the trouble of dressing extra pretty for the occasion.





Shortly afterward we started boarding “The Atlantica”.





Not a particularly good image there. This is something that is going to be a problem for most of the rest of this update. I didn’t much pay attention to the camera settings, and worse, generally forgot to take pictures a good bit of the time.

Anyway… here’s a better look at our accommodations for the evening (as provided by her crew)





And a look at the lounge area and upper deck under better lighting conditions…










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All the Trimmings…





Once aboard, we stumbled around and found an opening at one of the tables. Being as we were also toward the back of the line when boarding, it wasn’t long afterward that the lines were cast off and Atlantica was underway headed south along the Hudson. Almost immediately after that, the salads hit the table, followed a bit latter by the entrée.





Sliced turkey with variations on the traditional sides. Yah… you’d have gotten a whole lot more food during a family gathering over at your Great-aunt Mabel’s house, but this meal was actually pretty good. Additionally, there were no great family arguments or impromptu fistfights to contend with. Not to mention, there were some additional trimmings to be considered. Things like the spectacular views…





By the time dinner was finished and the plates had been cleared, we’d traveled around the southern tip of Manhattan and started northward up the East River. Tamara and I decided to stroll the open decks for a bit in an attempt to get a few good pictures and to see what all else was going on.





That’s the area around the South Street Seaport where we’d been roaming just the day before. From here we passed under the Brooklyn Bridge and continued northeast.





We’d been standing on the second deck fantail up until now and decided to head up topside and sea what all the ruckus was. As it turns out, the ruckus was just a bunch of our young’ens in the midst of having a mighty fine time…





One deck down in the Lounge the rest of the kids were similarly engaged (but as you might expect, they weren’t quite as chilly as the folks out in the open).





My traveling companions decided that these kids had the right idea and followed their example of self-preservation by finding a nice spot down in the dinning room where they could chat with some of the other parents, enjoy a little bit of coffee and stay warm. Being more foolhardy (or foolish… your choice), I roamed around the decks a bit more just watching the water and seeing what I could see.

Our evening river cruise had made it up to around the Wallabout Bay area near the site of the Brooklyn Navy Yard (now home to a couple hundred businesses and a fair number of artists all renting space within the old facilities). From there the captain spun her around and started back down the East River.

I got this “relatively decent” shot from the bow as we are approaching the Manhattan Bridge with the Brooklyn Bridge just beyond…





And this view off the fantail after crossing back beneath the Brooklyn…





Around about this time I decided to find the rest of my group and partake of some coffee and pie (pumpkin of course). A bit after that, we noticed that the trip back was taking a slightly different course. They drove the ship a bit farther south into the sound.

Why?

So we could all get a good view of this minor landmark…





I took a number of pictures of the lady and her lamp, but that one was the only image that even remotely turned out.

That’s life…



But I’d be getting a chance to correct that error.











Next up: Exploring the Oyster Islands

Well… in the next actual update that is (and a new chapter to boot)
Something else will be immediately following this post however...
Something dark and ominous…
Something to be feared…
Something you should avoid at all costs…

but after that…


that’s when we’ll get to the Oyster Islands.

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Old 09-10-2012, 10:13 PM   #175
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Bonus Feature 8:





Patience and Fortitude


(Part-1: The Time Machine)











The title of this next section is more a warning then and overview. That is because this Bonuses Feature is constructed specifically to test your ability to implement both of those qualities. You’re going to have to be even more stoic then our stone guardians up there.
I had intended to put this up before the beginning of Chapter Four, but my world got so hectic back in the spring that I lost nearly two months between updates and I figured that you deserved to get a good chunk of the actual story first. With Chapter 4 concluded, my charity is now at an end though.


Just a thought… you may want to stop reading this update about now…


While I generally tuck a number of random Bonuses Features into my TRs, there is always one where I get all carried away and go completely nuts in the research department. For this TR… you have now encountered that unfortunate entry.

You see, while I was researching the specifics of that original trivia question, I kept running across other bits and pieces of irrelevant and useless minutia with tenuous ties to the subject that just kept saying things like: “Really… I didn’t know that”. And the more it happened, the more outlandish my planes for this feature became. It’s going to take two separate parts to get it all in and you really don’t want to know how much of the research I had to through out just to keep things down to that unreasonable level.


So let the extravagance commence…


or you could just hit the “Alt” and “F4” keys and be done with it.




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The Only Thing Constant is Change





A while back (and I do mean a long way back calendar wise), while discussing the bus tour through Manhattan, I mentioned that the two lion statues guarding the entrance to the NYC Public Library were named “Patience” and “Fortitude”. I then flatly stated that I’d explain why that was so later on.

We’ve arrived at later on…

First off, I’m going to go ahead and spoil the whole thing for you by revealing the end of the story: It was politics. Pure and simple, it was done for political reasons (well that and in an attempt to boost moral).

Now why did I just give that away? Because it’s gonn’a be a while before I get back to the Lions specifically. I’ve got a lot of set up to do first, but since you already know the punch line, you can now bypass the details.


(well looky there… I gave you another chance to save yourselves)


Detail #1…




What you are looking at there is the New York Public Library’s main branch (now known as the Schwarzman Building). That particular photo was snapped in 1908 during late stage construction and if you look closely, you’ll note that the two lion statues that kicked off this exploration have not yet taken up residence. They were still being carved (and I’ll talk about that later on as well), but the pedestals do stand at the ready waiting to receive their stoic sentinels. It took almost unimaginable amounts of work and preparation to get this site ready to receive their world-renowned tenants. In fact, had you been standing on the same spot at the corner of 42nd Street and 5th Ave say, about ten years earlier, this is how that bit of land would have appeared…





Now that’s a rather imposing structure ain’t it.
Not quite the row of small building or even and open field that I was expecting to see I’ll tell you that much. The lion statues may be what started me looking into this feature, but it was that massive somewhat Egyptian looking structure that turned the entire exercise into an over the top research project.

So, just what is that building and why have I never seen nor heard of it prior to this? Well, I’ll get to that but first we need to go back a bit farther time wise; back to when the locals were few in number and for the most part: hunters. Using this corner as a reference point, I’m going look at how we got from there to here.



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Inclenberg



Time to test your patience….


Now just suppose that we had a working version of Jules Vern’s time machine sitting on the corner where those last couple of images got snapped.


(I know that the standard 88-mile per hour version is more fun, but I don’t have a flux-capacitor handy and this more compact model will do since we’re not going to stray very far from our physical stating point. Well, other then fourth-dimensionally of course)

Ok, now that we’ve chose the appropriate chronological transportation device, let us now suppose that we were to give the throttle lever a slight shove in the reverse direction for oh… say four hundred years to the times when the area was sparsely inhabited by the Lenape peoples.





Quite the difference ehhhh… you’ve dropped yourself in the midst of a “Red Maple Swamp”. Really more a wet land then a swamp, but lush, green and most certainly not very urban. In fact, what is now a relatively flat urban area once included some 500 hills, 88 miles of streams, 21 ponds and 300 springs. Our current position on what will be the corner 42nd street places us in a valley between two rocky hills. These rises are made up of debris left after glaciers receded from this area. As I said, there were many such hills and valleys here; a fact that lead the locals to call it “mannahatta” which roughly translates to “island of hills”.





There are creeks to the north of you and one to the south that also feeds one of the larger ponds on the island. Both of these streams empty into the East River in or near a cove that would come to be known as Kip’s Bay.

Now we’ll give that time machine a nudge and roll up to the time of the American Revolution. In general, things would not go well for the Washington’s Continental Army in this area. But just before we arrived here, he was able to execute a brilliant retreat form Long Island onto Manhattan (and yes a retreat can be brilliant if it saves an army to fight again later on). The Red Coats were none too pleased to realize that those “terrorists” had slipped away, and General Howe was determined to correct that minor detail. Below is part of a British map from the period depicting the Manhattan Island area of operations. You can see Kips Bay (although they spelled it: “Kepps”) and a few of the more important hills in the area. The “x” marks our starting point in the flats north of the hill that is now called “Inclenberg”.





Most of the wetlands in this area have been drained and converted to meadows and farmlands by this point in time, but it’s still backcountry and a long way form the actual town of New York. The better part of General Washington’s troops are spread out across this valley trying to get organized after pulling back off of Long Island. The closest civilization is the large estate and farm of one Robert Murray, a merchant whose grand house is on the top of that hill and commands the view of the area. When the Brits landed their forces at Kipps Bay several days later…





…the officers paid a visit to the Murray estate (ostensibly to survey the area from the heights). Legend has it that Mrs. Murray used her charm and hospitality to successfully delay the commanders long enough for Washington to complete the process of moving his men and equipment out of the area and on toward the Harlem Heights (where he’d win and important victory a few days later).

The Murray family was so important to this area and time period that the hill their land included was renamed Murray Hill by the locals and that physical area of Manhattan still bears the name.




(The “4” on that neighborhood map just happens to marks the same intersection where we have been standing all this time).



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The Grid




Time to move forward chronologically. About another thirty years, specifically to the year 1811. When we bring our time machine to a stop this time, you’d be sitting on the front porch of a small house owned by a farmer named Isaac Burr. Right where the red box is in the middle of this map in located…





Again, much has changed. Firstly there is less open land and many more fenced off individual farms. The Burr farmhouse stood at the corner of what was once called “The Middle road” and a smaller cross-road that connected the “Eastern Post” and The Bloomingdale” roads. These are basically the three main arteries connecting the “city” of New York (still well to the south of here) and the towns farther north. Isaac’s Land comprised most of what is now the block between 42nd and 43rd at Fifth Ave. Just across that connector road was the farm of the brothers Joel & Jotham Post (no relation to the “Post Road”). The land on the other side of the Middle Road was then and even now, still owned by the “Corporation of New York” (another way of saying that the city owned that property).

As you may have surmised from all of this, at one time nearly every famous structure north of Soho (and therefore north of what is now called Houston Street) was farmland. To illustrate this huge change the Museum of the City of New York and the Manhattan Borough Presidents office put together a rather fascinating map of the properties north of the old city that also include the grid of the current street system. Known as the Randel Farm Map, This tool is what I used to build the image of the properties around our time machine.

But what I’m portraying with this particular time and location is not just a fairly major physical crossroad. We are also at a cross roads in city history. In the early 1800s the folks in charge of the actual city of New York realized that if they wanted to control the growth (and profit from the lands that they still held) they needed a better plan. Certainly something other then the random expansion which resulted in the hodgepodge of streets and lanes that are most European cities. To that end, the city’s street commissioners certified the no-frills street matrix that transformed New York into a “City of Angles”.





This rigid 90-degree grid of avenues and streets was laid out across the island regardless of its physical features and that would have a great impact on the topography. The following illustration, which looks north along Fifth Ave from about where we are standing, shows how the terrain would end up being cut down and altered to suit the plan.





Even the great “Murray Hill” would end up being completely leveled and used to fill part of the eastern shore of the island. As such, Kipps Bay and the creeks that feed into it no longer exist. Although part of the area still bears the name, the actual geological features have been completely erased.

Not only would this plan physically alter the land, it would also spur unprecedented development and gave birth to the concepts of gridlock and jaywalking. Another thing it would do is spawn a new breed of entrepreneurs who would exponentially raise the value of Manhattan’s real estate. There are a number of scholars that consider the grid plan to be the most important document in the history of the city’s development.

As a side note, that ridged grid structure would also inadvertently create a unique pop cultural reference known as “Manhattanhenge”. On two days a year, the sun rises and sets along the east-west axis of the street grid.





For 2012 the “Manhattan solstices” occurred on May 29th, and July 12th and the next occurrence will be on about June 21 of 2013.



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The Potters Field




To fully understand that degree of change that just this one spot on Manhattan Island has endured, we’ll be giving that time machine another nudge of about twenty-ish years. Once we hit the breaks, we likely find a fair amount of activity taking place on the city owned land across Fifth Ave form our spot of the corner of 42nd. Activity that would look very similar to this…




“Bring out your dead… Bring out your dead… “

So why are mass graves being dug on this land? Well fairly early on, the City of New York took on the responsibility of burring those unfortunate soles that were either indigent at the time of their demise, or “unbefriended” once arriving at the morgue. There is nothing new about this. Large pockets of civilization have always had to deal with this issue (for disease prevention if for no other reason). These paupers’ cemeteries are generally referred to as Potter's fields. A biblical term derived from the land supposedly purchased with Judas’ 40 pieces of silver (after he was no longer in need of it of course). That small valley where Jerusalem’s potters had previously been extracting clay for their works was put to use as a burial plot for “strangers”.

New York tried to have these necessaries, as close to the far edge of the city as possible. But the city kept growing, and that was no small problem. The first such site was in what is now Washington Square in Greenwich Village. But as the wealthy moved farther up town to escape the poor unwashed masses, they were some what put off by having the unwashed dead masses continuing to be deposited in close proximity to their fine mansions. So the existing field was converted into a park…





…and beginning in 1823 the dearly (impoverished) departed were hastened much farther up the island; to the spot where we’re standing to be specific. Some thousands of the old field’s “residents’ were moved as well, but not all. Estimates are that better then 20,000 of the forgotten still reside beneath the sidewalks and lush grounds of the Square.

The new site was in use for about another twenty years until the city was in need of this land for a rather different purpose. Across a period a nearly ten years, the remains of 100,000 paupers and strangers were disinterred and quite literally stacked up a few blocks north. Then in 1857 all were move on to Randall’s and Ward’s Islands. A few years after that they were transferred one final time on to Hart Island, which was acquired by the city in 1868 and began receiving remains the next year. Having been cast off of Manhattan like so many of its family farms, the Potter’s Field would no longer clash with Victorian sensibilities or even more importantly inhibit the ever growing real-estate boom.





Hart's Island, in the part of the Long Island Sound that is controlled by the Bronx, is still in use as the public cemetery today. There are some 800,000 graves dating from is opening. The city department of transportation runs a single ferry to the island, and prison labor is used for burial details. Simple pine coffins are stacked in two rows, three high and 25 across, and once filled, each plot is marked with a single concrete marker.






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Cool, Cool Water




Now that the former residents of the city land between 40th and 42nd had been served their eviction notices, that spot was immediately put to a new and very important use. It basically saved the city by ending the relentless spread of most communicable urban diseases. At least those that are waterborne.

But first, let’s back up just a bit…

For nearly two hundred years the city had been getting its water from wells and from the many ponds and springs that dotted the island. The main source however was a large spring feed lake known as The Collect Pond.





By the early nineteenth century, however, it had become a literal cesspool due to the many tanneries and breweries clustered near its banks. Not to mention the sewage and other garbage dumped there by the locals. The city began draining the Collect starting around 1802 by backfilling it with construction debris, the rock and dirt from one of the larger hills that was being leveled at the time and whatever garbage they could find. The problem was that all that water had nowhere to go at first. The city then built a canal to drain the water from the surrounding area, and whatever remained of the pond. The Collect Pond finally ceased to exist by around 1811, but since the poor workmanship resulted in a damp, boggy and malarial area. The recovered land became the home of the notorious slum called Five Points, and to an even more notorious prison known as The Tombs.

Today, all of the original streams and ponds on the island have long since ceased to exist as they were filled in and built over. But you can’t have a city where there is no water. So they started bringing it in from farther a field. First, the Croton River, better then forty miles to the north, was dammed…





Then the water from the resulting five-mile long, 400-acre lake was sent south via tunnels and aquaducts until it crossed onto Manhattan via the “High Bridge”





This structure still exists and is the oldest bridge connecting the boroughs of Manhattan, and the Bronx. The High Bridge has never been used for auto or horse traffic, but it has included a walkway since the 1860s. Although that walk was closed in 1960, there is still talk of opening it back up as part of a refurbishment of the two parks connected by the structure.





Once on the island the water was first sent to a massive receiving reservoir in the middle of what is now Central Park. From there it was piped a bit farther south to a brand new structure that opened to great fanfare on July 4 of, 1842 at the corner of 42nd and Fifth Avenue. Right where we have been sitting all this time. Now well just bring our time machine forward a bit and we find…





Looks familiar now don’t it. That’s that same big ol’ Egyptian looking building that got me started on this ridiculous adventure. So what exactly is it?


The Croton Distributing Reservoir…





It’s not so much a building as it is an above ground man made lake. Designed to hold 20 million gallons of water at a crack, this is the point from which fresh water was piped out to every building and residence in the city.

The reservoir was 4 acres in area, surrounded by massive, 50-foot high, 25-foot thick granite walls. Along the tops of the walls were public promenades, which offered breathtaking views of the city. As such, it became a popular place to refined residents to go strolling.

But there was more to come for this area. Great exhibitions were in the offing. Celebrations were planed and folks would even be able to view the city from even more dizzying heights. At least for a little while, but then tragedy would rear its ever-present head. More change would occur before we’d be able to allow the great lions of knowledge take their proper place in the fabric of New York.

And you can be certain that I’ll be tell y’all entirely too much about it all in the second half of this insanely overwrought Bonus feature.



So stay tuned! I’ll be back shortly.






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Old 09-10-2012, 10:36 PM   #176
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Bonus Feature 9:





Patience and Fortitude


(Part-2: A Higher Purpose)











Normally… I’d warn you not to waste time reading this type of update.

But, as I need to get busy with the rest of this foolishness, y’all are on your own. The first half of this feature abused your patience mightily. This half is designed to test you fortitude. The question is: now that you’ve foolishly come this far…

are you actually willing to allow the suffering to continue?




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Glass Houses





For the first several years after completion of the Croton Distributing Reservoir, the land behind the structure and fronting Sixth Avenue would be used as a public park. And a park is exactly what it is today, but there was something else going on here in-between those two time periods. In 1853, a “World’s Fair” titled: “The Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations” was held in New York. This was a private undertaking, but the city did offer the use of the land free of charge for five years. This undertaking was inspired by a highly successful fair held in London a couple years earlier, and to house the exhibition, the another idea was copied from that same London fair…





The American version of “The Chrystal Palace” was a good bit smaller then its British counterpart, but this does not mean that it was not an impressive space.





At about 200,000 sq. ft. the structure was an iron framework sheathed in glass and included a dome a hundred feet across at the center of the structure. Critics considered it nothing more then an “exaggerated greenhouse". Twenty-three foreign countries were represented among the 4,800 exhibitors at the time of the opening. The US emphasized it industrial and mechanical prowess and the exhibition saw the public introductions of both the first “safe” passenger elevator and the sewing machine among other devises. Grand as it first appeared, the enterprise was a financial failure. To rectify he problem the folks in charge even consented to hiring P. T. Barnum as the organization’s elected president in hope that the master showman could turn things around. But during his relatively short tenure in the position, Barnum could not revive interest in the venture, and the entire question was rendered moot when an 1858 fire took less then twenty minutes to reduce the entire structure to ash and twisted metal.





I find it rather interesting that the fire occurred as the building was just about to turn five years old, and the rent free lease on the city’s land was therefore due to expire.

Things that make you go Hummmmmm…


Interestingly, there was another ambitious structure built here which you likely have also never heard of. This was the Latting Tower. As the name would imply it was an observation tower built just across 42nd street form the Palace…





Completed in 1853, the tower was 350 feet high and would hold the record as the tallest structure built in New York for many years. The only thing that came even within ten feet of its height was the very top of the spire at Trinity church. Steam elevators would carry paying customers aloft, and telescopes and maps on each landing let them see the city in a way never before available to the masses. Like the Exhibition however, this too was ultimately unsuccessful and had to be sold off shortly after opening to pay the debts.

Although conceived and built thirty-five years before the Eiffel Tower, the Latting would only grace the New York skyline for three years. Again like the Palace, fire would be the force that moved to erase it from the landscape and our memories. While it stood though, a person with a little bit of coin could take in unheard of views of a great city still in its infancy…





Well look… you can see our little time machine parked down there on the corner of 42nd and Fifth. Let’s hop back in and bump everything ahead about another forty years.




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Astor and Lenox





The reservoir had served invaluably for quite some time, but what was once seen as amazing, often ended up becoming “an eyesore”. This was especially true as it was now within eyesight of the wealthy folks who had continued migrating farther and farther north in order to separate themselves from the sub-human blight that made up the lower classes.

By the 1880’s, the Croton had been made unnecessary by further water main construction under Manhattan streets. As such, a number of proposals for the disposition of the property emerged including an armory, a park, an opera house, a polytechnic institute and even a sale to developers to returning the land to the tax rolls. When a beer garden was proposed for the top of the reservoir in 1891, the well healed in the neighborhood would have no more of it (I mean just imagine having drunks and reprobates roaming the sidewalks right outside their parlor windows… unthinkable). Instead a far more “civic minded” solution to the problem was devised; one that you should have no problem divining by now.


There were already a number of mostly private lending libraries in the city by now, but the two largest and most prestigious were both struggling at the time.





A friend convinced John Jacob Astor to bequeath a healthy sum of money for the creation of a public library in his name and after Astor's death in 1848… that is exactly what happened. Based initially on the benefactor’s collection the Astor Library was built in 1854 in the East Village. Created as a free, reference library, its books were not permitted to circulate, but by 1872, was considered one of the great reference and research resources in the nation.





The Lenox Library was created in 1870 by an act of the state legislature, and build farther north in the Upper East Side. This library was created to house the holdings of James Lenox and with the core book collection also included his vast collection of Americana, art works, manuscripts, and extremely rare books (including the first Gutenberg Bible in the New World). This facility always charged admission and it did not permit physical access to much of the literary items; acting more as a museum.

By the 1890’s, both of these libraries were struggling, and that is when a third factor entered into he picture. Former Governor and presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden felt that a library with citywide reach was required (and certainly had no qualms about having such an amenity tied to his own legacy). This being the case, he bequeathed the bulk of his fortune to "establish and maintain a free library and reading room in the city of New York". This money would sit untouched in a trust for several years, until a local attorney, and trustee of the Tilden fortune, came up with an idea to merge two of the city's largest libraries (and free them of their financial obligations)




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Metamorphosis




Now there was a plan, and there were funds and there was a driving force. All of these elements came together to once again repurpose the land across the street form our time machine. First off… the old Croton had to go….






Then the cornerstone was laid in May 1902 and work could finally commence on the new structure.








The building would follow a Beaux-Arts design and would also be the largest marble structure in the United States at the time of completion.





And complete it they finally did. On May 23, 1911, the main branch of the New York Public Library was officially opened in a ceremony presided over by then President: William Howard Taft.

Imposing as it is visually, there is actually more of the library underground then above it. There are literally miles of book stacks; shelving that fills rooms for several stories beneath the main building and more space underneath Bryant Park to the rear of the library on the same block.





The building is more then just a collect of books. There are art galleries, and museum quality exhibits like that rare book I mention from the Lenox collection (and pictured as the intro for this feature). But at its heart, it is a library. There are several reading rooms with specialized subject material and references, just as you’d find in most any town library…





But generally, visitors do not descend down into the Stacks. Rather instead you would enter into the grand reading room, search the catalog for those items that you wish to review, and report to the main desk.





From there it’s much like ordering pastrami at Katz’s Deli. You turn in the requests, and wait for you number to be called. The actual selection list is sent down into the bowels of the structure where one of the librarians will hunt down the volumes desired and send them aloft via dumbwaiter. Once the tomes are back on the surface, you are notified and can retrieve your treasures.




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Top Cats





The design for this edifice called for a pair of statues to be places on either side of the main entrance portico.

Wondering if we were ever going to get back to this subject didn’t ya’?

The fellow who got the job of creating these bits of public art was Edward Clark Potter. Potter was paid $8,000 for the design, and the Piccirilli Brothers executed the carving for $5,000 more (and remember that you saw that second little bit there).





Now I have not yet been able to sus out whether of not the statures were to have been of lions all along or if it was French’s idea, but the design was accepted and the work was executed, but not to initial popular acclaim. As with all public art, there were critics… numerous ones. It’s actually surprising they remained long enough to become icons considering the responses of the (well healed) locals. They were called: "squash-faced, mealy-mouthed and complacent" among other descriptions. One letter writer declared: "We do not want square-jawed lions." Another said that they looked like “a cross between a hippopotamus and a cow,” and dismissed them out of hand as “monstrosities.”





Monstrosity? I don’t see it that way.


Sad times for “Leo Astor” and “Leo Lenox” but they persevered and were gradually accepted by the city.

Halleluiah! We’ve finally gotten to the names of the bloody beasts!!!!

Yes… yes we have.

Those are the original names gifted to the statues and honoring the two libraries that made up the original cash of references and volumes contained within. Being as the new facility was roughly halfway between the older buildings, the statues garnered the names of the library closer to its position on the plaza. Astor held down the south side and Lenox the north.





Shortly after they were renamed “Lady Lenox” and “Lady Astor”, but being male cats, this never really made any sense. The names that they currently have and will likely always keep were acquired during the Great Depression. The mayor at the time, one Fiorello LaGuardia, officially chose “Patience” and “Fortitude”. The reasoning was that these were the qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive those tough times. Patience still guards the south side of the Library's steps and Fortitude sits unwaveringly to the north. As much as this one little bit of land has changed over time, it is hard to say that they will always stay there, but it is hard to imagine them not being there.




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Know your Piccirilli





Last tidbit and then I’ll stop.

Honest Injun’


Remember a moment ago when I said that E C Potter designed the lion statues? I also said that he didn’t actually carve them; that was done by someone else. As a matter of fact, this is more normal then one might think. Potter most certainly designed and executed the original small-scale statuettes and got the approval of the project with those, but the large-scale work was done by New York’s own Piccirilli Brothers to French’s specifications.

At that time most prominent sculptors would create their original work in clay. From that clay model a caster would generate a plaster model. The model would then be sent to a carver (the Piccirilli Brothers in this instance) and they would carve the final stone piece based on a casting from that mold. The renowned brothers became the carvers of choice for a large number of American sculptors of the time including the likes of Daniel Chester French (and we’ll get back to that fact in a moment).

As an additional matter of fact, much of the architectural carving throughout the city was designed by one individual but executed by this same family. Just a couple of other examples of vast number of works this group executed for other sculptors in the Five Boroughs area include:


The Pediment of N.Y. Stock Exchange
[Done for John Quincy Adams Ward and Paul Bartlett in 1903]




And the Washington Arch
[Done for Stanford White and company in 1918]

and sitting in the middle of another famous Potter’s Field that I’ve discussed previously




These fellows are also known for works installed outside on New York and many of those reside in Washington DC. Two in particular that meet this category I’ve had the honor to actually see for myself.

In 1920, the Piccirillis took on a large-scale monument project for Daniel Chester French (see I told you I’d get back to him in a minute). The piece in question was carved of Georgia white marble, weighs 175 tons, and had to be shipped in 28 separate pieces.





And here’s how it looked when my family got to be in the area…




Another equally noteworthy example of their work is actually a very simple structure. Completed in 1931. But being simple does not mean that it is not a powerful symbol with the ability to move one to stunned silence of even tears.





And again, here is how we were able to experience the Tomb of the Unknowns, at Arlington National Cemetery…







I set out with the intention of understanding why the Lions at the library were named what they were. Then I ran into the fact that Potter didn’t carve the actual figures, but that this was also not unusual. Then while looking for where they were placed, I found a massive building on the same land that was built just for water. The more I dug, the more I found and the wackier this whole thing got. I am very aware that I’ve wasted much of your time. Just as I am very aware that only about three people are even bothering to read this mess at all. But then again, I did have fun learning about all this foolishness and that’s good enough reason to write it down.



OK, I promised that I shut up, and it’s about time I did so.
One more semi-related picture from my own personal archive (and just because I like this one), and then I’ll go.



So, here tis…







Bye y’all!



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Old 09-17-2012, 01:53 PM   #177
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Chapter 5: Remembrances (Day 5)




Part 1: What Is and What Was














Guess what? We’ve made it to the last day of this trip.

Ya’ know what that means?

Well, to you it means that there isn’t all that much more that you’ll need to be reading of this self-absorbed little essay (and that’s probable a very good thing). For those of us on the expedition… it means one last day to take in a little bit of the history, majesty and even silliness that New York has to offer.

So why not get started.




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Daybreak





Breakfast was being served promptly as 7:00 on Friday, so we had to get a fairly early start on the day. Not the insane kind of early that we were dealing with yesterday, but still early enough to see things like this…





The weather promised to be even better today then yesterday and would beat the livin’ daylights out of the beginning of the week.


Everyone was in the ballroom for pancakes and waffles pretty much on time. As we were getting breakfast from the buffet, I made sure to thank the staff for the good work they’d done by us all week. They in turn were glad we’d been there and were amazed by how well behaved so large a group of teens could be. The general consensus was that they’d had fewer problems dealing with us then with any large group of adults that had ever booked a gathering there. As such, they were going to miss us after today. I’ve mentioned it before, but one third of the kids grades (and this trip was part of their grades) is based on how they handle themselves in public. “Deportment” as we call it. The staff was amazed that we did it that way and said that the kids had certainly earned whatever marks they’d be getting.


As folks finished their meals, everyone started to congregate in the lower lobby waiting for the busses to get warmed up. That’s where I caught up with my boy and his traveling companions…





We’d see him off and on all day, but the kids were ordered to stay in assigned groups of four at all times so we really couldn’t pull him aside with out causing problems. No matter… it’s better that he experience the trip in the context of an adventure of his peers then as one of a family outing anyway. Besides, I had fun stalking him all day. It got to be a bit of a game after a while.




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The Terminal





The plan for today was to visit a few of the more significant landmarks (historically speaking). The first stop of the day was Liberty State Park. This is also where you’ll find the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal complex.





And the reason we were lining up here…




…was that we needed to catch a boat.





But I’ll get to that in a moment. First let’s talk about the terminal. During its heyday, this was one of the busiest transportation hubs in the nation and physically one of the largest covered train shed/terminals around…





It was also a ferry terminal and prior to the completion of the tunnels and some of the more modern bridges, this was the main way that folks got into and out of Manhattan. Ferries carried folks back and forth between their jobs on the city…





And the trains that that carried them back toward their homes…





But as we entered a terminal all the evidence pointing toward this location’s prominent historical place in rail transportation, was little more then shadows today…














The passenger ferry half of the building however was another story. For immigrants that were just arriving in America…





…this was the first point from where most of them set foot on the mainland once being released from Ellis Island.





We, however, were making the reverse trip this day. Our first historical destination of the day would be that great hub of late nineteenth and early twentieth century American expansion. But first we had to do just as those many incoming folks did…

We had to wait in line for a while.








And one of my stalker photos of the day (just for good measure)….







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All Aboard



The reason for all this Disney scale queuing turned out to be associated with what is now the new reality in the US (at least new since the turn of the current century). That being the high security now put in place to prevent acts of terror. It really wouldn’t have taken all that long to lad a group of high school kids and their chaperones onto a ferry boat, but everyone in the group had to go through one of only two inspection lines much like what exists in our airports now. Every thing had to come out of every pocket, belts had to come off as well, everyone was whisked with a handheld metal detector even after passing through the standing verity, all bags and backpacks had not just to be x-rayed, but opened and rummaged through, a couple of pocketknives got confiscated… it all took a while.


We also were forbidden to take pictures inside the “secure area” of the terminal (kind’a like the way it’s done on the first floor of the DCL cruise ship terminal). But you can still get a few interesting shot of the Manhattan skyline even form you spot at the back of the line.











That last one of the old ferry landing ramps was actually right after I finally got through the security check; another forlorn insight to the scale of activity that this spot used to know.

From this point all that remained of our business in New Jersey for the day was to get everyone onboard one of the current fleet of ferries serving the run. Specifically: the Miss Freedom…





And then we’d be making the short cruise to the spot where so many folks began their new lives in a new world…










Next up: Descending the Stairs of Separation
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Old 09-17-2012, 01:57 PM   #178
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Chapter 5: Remembrances (Day 5)




Part 2: A Substantial Edifice














Oysters have long been a source of sustenance throughout the world. This fact was certainly true of the east coast of North America prior to the colonial period. The Lenape peoples who originally lived on and around the island of Manhattan made use of vast oyster beds in the sound just south of the island to ensure their survival. These beds were so large and thick that they formed several temporary islands of life during low tides. As sediments built up around them over time they became physical islands. One of these islands has since been swallowed up by expansion from the mainland, but the other two still exist. In radically different physical form, but they do exist. This morning we’d be exploring these two remaining “Oyster Islands”. Starting with the one that the locals called: "Kioshk"


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Gull Island





Once the Miss Freedom had take on all the passenger she could hold, the lines were loosed and all aboard began the short sailing away from Liberty Park





As I was roaming around the boat I was able to pick up another “stalker photograph” of my young’en who had taken up residence on the upper deck.




Like I said, we really couldn’t be dragging him away from is traveling group today, so I just settled for stealing the occasional electronic representation of his presence. It got to be a bit of a game.


Anyway, back to the story, our next destination was Fort Gibson.





Well… it use to be Fort Gibson. Actually, it “use to be” a lot of things. You already know that the Lenape called it "Kioshk" which means Gull Island, and they used it as a source of sustenance. The first colonists called it and the other small dots of land around it the Oyster Islands, but did so for the same reasons. After that time this spot was referred to by various names including Dyre Island, Bucking Island, Anderson's Island and even Gibbet Island (due to its having been used as a place for hanging pirates and other criminals from time to time). But in the 1770’s this small bit of land took the name of its then owner and has since been known as Ellis Island.





The Federal Government first acquired what was then a small 3.3 acre speck of land in New York Harbor shortly after the Revolutionary War. The intention was to use it as part of a ring of fortifications dedicated to protecting the city, and its vital harbors. Once completed, the result was a 14-gun circular battery with a magazine and barracks that was originally named Crown Fort. The name was later changed to Battery Gibson (in honor of a War of 1812 veteran) and later still it became known as Fort Gibson.





The original “First System” fort was turned over to the U.S. Navy during the Civil War and used as an ammunition depot and magazine. Around 1890, the Navy turned the island over to the department of immigration so that it could be used to handle the ever increasing number of immigrants flooding into the United States.

Ellis Island has been greatly expanded over time. First artesian wells were dug, and landfill was hauled in to enlarge the land area. Ballast form incoming ships and even construction debris from New York City's subway tunnel projects was used to complete the task. The initial result was that the island doubled in size to over six acres. This land reclamation project continued one step at a time through 1934 and today Ellis covers 27.5 acres





The first facility on the island designed to act as the main immigration hall built of white pine with a slate roof…





This building successfully handled about 1.5 million immigrants during its five years of use, but in 1897 a fire (probably electrical in nature) reduced the whole thing to ashes. Luckily no lives were lost, but most of the immigration records dating back to 1855 were destroyed in the conflagration. As a result of this unforeseen turn of events, a decision was made that the replacement building should be much larger, much stronger and be designed to impress all those that approached and entered. “It should be a substantial edifice”, was how one of the members of the design team put it. A building that was as grand as the aspirations and monumental changes in life that were about to befall each of people that were destined to enter it.













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“Processing”





When potential new American arrived at Ellis…





They were led directly from the docs to the main entrance of this massive structure. That, however, is not where you’ll find the famous “Great Hall” of this immigration station. The main floor is where you’d find the baggage handling areas, administrative offices and other working spaces. The “Great Hall” was on the second floor. As such, the first thing a new arrival encountered was a long steep stairwell leading upward
.




This was no random design decision. It was done for a specific reason; that being an aid in identifying people with potential problems. “Doctors” stood at the top of the stairwell and watched for folks that were struggling either to make the clime or to keep their breath (a sign of possible disease or heart problems). Once at the top of the stairs they were given an official medical exam that might last as long as ten or fifteen seconds (and yes, I said seconds). They were quickly checked for very specific things that might cause a person either to be sent back home or interned in the islands medical facilities. Depending of what conditions were found, the physician of record would literally write a one or two letter code on the persons back in chalk signifying the area of concern. Some of those codes included:



B – Back Problems
C - Conjunctivitis
CT – Trachoma (an eye disease)
E – Eyes
F – Face
FT – Feet Problems
G – Goiter
H – Heart Problems
K – Hernia
L – Lameness
N – Neck Injuries
P – Physical and Lung Problems
PG – Pregnancy
S – Senility
X – Suspected Mental defect



Once through this inspection gauntlet, you’d be dived up by family groups and sent into one of several possible queues for continued processing.





What was at first long rows of simple wooden benches became a maze of fencing and long lines of benches. All of this is gone today, but the hall itself still offers an imposing and impressive site to those that make the assent up that long stairwell.








Once the bewildered immigrant finally made it to the fount of the hall and there by, to one of the Immigration Officer’s desks…





That officer would start collecting up the particulars about the individual. General this information would be checked against copies of the manifest from the ship on which they had arrived (in hopes of catching anyone trying to change their story). Tradition also holds that there were 29 questions specifically asked of each individual including straight forward queries such as: name, occupation, and the amount of money being carried. It was important to the government that new arrivals be able to support themselves in the short term, so they needed to have a little bit of money on hand to get started. The average amount deemed acceptable would have been between 18 and 25 dollars at the time. Some other questions that you very much needed to give “the right” answer to included things like: who paid for your passage, have you ever been in prison or an institution for the care of the insane, and where you either a polygamist or an anarchist.


Depending on all that had transpired up to this point, you’d generally have been in the Great Hall from between two to five hours. Your next step was another intentionally built physical barrier that came to be known as the ‘Stairs of Separation”.





If sent down the right side, the bottom lead to the railroad ticket office and ultimately onto a ferry headed to New Jersey (from where we’d come that morning). The left hand side of the stairs would see you boarding a ferry bound for Manhattan. Being sent down the middle meant that you were being detained and potentially sent back from where you came. The landing at the bottom of these stairs may very well have been the spot where you last saw a loved one.

Horrible as that last possibility sounds, only about two percent of those that arrived here were denied admission to the U.S. and sent back to their countries of origin. Far more likely was that there was some type of medical condition that prevented your immediate release and in that case you were bound for the hospital on the other side of the island…





Tens of thousands of lives were actually saved via this process. In truth, the US wanted very much for you to be there. At the time we needed the labor to run the rapidly expanding manufacturing economy that was the engine of growth at the time. A person was really only seen as a potential threat if they were a known felon, an anarchist or were unskilled and had no family or National Society willing to vouch for you.

That last one there deserves a little bit more clarification. Nearly every nationality that had large numbers of folks coming to America had set up Societies to advocate for new arrivals. They would camp near the front desks and look out for folks from their homelands or with similar ethnic backgrounds. Once found, society members would act as translators and advocates for the individual and help them and the Immigration Officer get all the information needed to allow that person or family to pass through. The Society's rep would then assist in getting families onto the correct boat or train, on to their proper destination, or toward the right parts of town where one could find shelter, work and folks with whom they could communicate.





Politicians did similar things for new immigrants by offering to help get them established in exchange for a promised vote. Of course there were also hucksters and criminal elements hanging around waiting to do their song and dance as well. All of this being true, one was luck if they were able to meet up with a member of their own society first (or even at all).



Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States and was the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until in closed in 1954. Our group would only be here for about an hour and a half this day. That is nowhere near enough time to explore this remarkable place and I hope at some point to return and explore it far more thoroughly. But at least, I did have the opportunity to see it for myself and that will stay with me for the rest of my days





















Next up: Bedloe's Island

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Old 09-17-2012, 03:30 PM   #179
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Delaware
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Rob,

Still reading along! Haven't had time to go back and pick out individual quotes for snarky comments yet, but I'm still with ya!
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:03 PM   #180
GoofyIsAsGoofyDoes
DDC 469
Never mind the Kool-Aid, don’t drink the Beverly!
If it’s still here tomorrow… I may ignore it again
 
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Join Date: Jan 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
Rob,

Still reading along! Haven't had time to go back and pick out individual quotes for snarky comments yet, but I'm still with ya!
I appreciate that Mark, but don’t worry about it overly.
I’m going to finish this up even if no one reads along.


I have, however, decided to cut it down in scale a bit (since not many are reading along). There are about three “Bonus Features” that wont be seeing the light of day. I’ve also decided to discontinue the “Flash Back” segments as well. It was a good idea at first, but I’m behind on them, and honestly, I don’t really think y’all want to listen to me drone on about band stuff much more.

I’ll probably have this wrapped up in about three or four updates at the most and then we’ll call it quits until I get back to Disney (although that may be a long time from now).


I would have liked to write about our excursion to Dayton back in April or about this past summer’s trip to the Williamsburg and Norfolk area, but again, I don’t think there will be much audience for those non-Disney adventures.
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