|Return Engagement is an occasional series of MUG articles, galleries and roundups we think are worth a second look.
We've been keeping our head down lately, making note of some of the interesting and unusual variations in the city's sidewalks.
‣ At 85 Broad [S. William], there's a plaque of a 1660 map of NYC. When the building was built, Dutch artifacts were found in the excavations.
‣ Around the corner on Pearl Street is a glassed-in view of some remains from the Lovelace tavern, built in 1670 and in use until 1706. It was named after Governor Francis Lovelace, who owned the place.
‣ The Maiden Lane clock was installed in the sidewalk in front of Barthman Jewelers before the turn of the last century with numbered cards that flipped to give the time. Now it has an electric Cartier face and was relocated slightly when the store moved to 176 Bway [Maiden]
‣ In front of the Design With Reach, 110 Greene [Prince/Spring] is a schematic subway map. Silver metal strips connect stations points represented by glass roundels imbedded into a dark gray sidewalk. It's by artist Françoise Schein who got the commission by winning a competition when the owners of the building needed to replace the sidewalk and wanted something distinctive underfoot.
‣ When you're outside William Barnacle Tavern (formerly Theater 80 St. Marks), look down to see the mini-Grauman's, with hand- or footprints of about a dozen stars, including Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, and Myrna Loy.
‣ In front of what was once the 2nd Avenue Deli, 156 2nd [10th], tablets commemorate stars of the Yiddish theater.
‣ The little sidewalk mosaic at the entrance to Village Cigars at 7th Ave. South and Christopher denotes the smallest property line in the city. When the subway was built and cut through Christopher Street, the Voorhis apartment building was demolished. All that was left was this little chip of property that belonged to Philadelphian David Hess who, in a moment of civic fist-shaking, refused to give up his Lilliputian real estate. In 1938, Village Cigars bought it for $1000.
‣ Along the sidewalks bordering 101 Park [40th/41st] are a series of 18 bronze reliefs by artist Gregg LeFevre of iconic NYC buildings. On the site of 101 Park was The Architects Building, in which many of the architects of the city's best known buildings had their offices. Mr. LeFevre's idea was to create a link to this past by representing buildings in the neighborhood: "Sometimes it's the whole building, some are details and some doorways," he said. To prepare for the work, he went to the top of many of the buildings to take pictures, climbing out out on roofs where possible. "I got a whole new view of midtown."
‣ MUG spoke with a geologist at the Museum of Natural History, who told us that if you look at the sidewalk in front of St. Thomas' Church on 5th and 53rd, what you are seeing is bluestone. It's about 365 million years old and part of a delta that went into a tropical sea in what is now the Catskills. Quarried there, these large slabs were loaded on river boats at Kingston for their trip to NYC. A little further down Fifth, in front of the Public Library, you see gneiss. This rock is probably 1 billion years old.
UPPER EAST SIDE
‣ An Alexander Calder design is in front of 1016 Mad [78th/79th] where the Perls Gallery, which represented Calder, used to be located. The black and white aggregate paving with bronze outlining was installed in 1970.
‣ Twenty plaques comprise the 135th St. Walk of Fame, located on both sides of the street between Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. and Frederick Douglass Blvd. Marcus Garvey, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, David Dinkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, James Baldwin, and Malcolm X are among the honorees.