Monday, November 09, 2015 Road Junkies 0 Comments

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, Chapter 7:
IN WHICH WE GET BEHIND THE WHEEL 
      
Saturday, 7 November
      
After pounding out more than 40 miles on the sidewalks of New York this week, we decided that we had earned a slow day.  Since we left at intermission the last two nights, we were ready to take a break from theatre as well.
      
Having been to New York many times, we enjoy seeking out new places to visit each time we return.  From our observations, the city has an inexhaustible array of worthwhile attractions.  On Saturday, our sights were set on Grant’s Tomb.  Located on Riverside Drive at 122nd Street, the final resting place of President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia is the largest mausoleum in North America.  Officially called the General Grant National Memorial, the granite and marble domed structure stands as a prominent architectural landmark visible from the Hudson River.
      
General Grant Memorial
Upon retirement from the White House, the Grants embarked on an extended world tour, moving to New York City when they returned.  When Grant died of throat cancer in 1885, he was a figure of worldwide renown, widely recognized as one of history’s great leaders and the pre-eminent American of his time. There was general agreement that his final resting place should reflect his stature.
      
New York City’s mayor offered to set aside space in one of the city’s developing parks for a memorial, and the family chose Riverside Park, one of Manhattan’s highest elevations, overlooking the Hudson River.  Amidst an outpouring of public grief, Grant was transported to the park in a massive funeral parade viewed by more than 1.5 million.  He was interred in a temporary tomb in the park.
     
Mosaics featured in lunettes around the circular crypt depict important moments from Grant's life, including the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appamattox.

Meanwhile, a committee was formed to raise funds and come up with the design for a grand memorial.  More than 90,000 donors from around the world contributed in excess of $600,000 for the project (almost $16 million in 2015 dollars).  The tomb was completed in 1897 and dedicated with great ceremony and another large crowd.  Julia Grant was interred beside her husband upon her death in 1902.
      
Just a couple hundred yards south of the Grant Memorial stands Riverside Church, a soaring Gothic cathedral.  With a bell tower that reaches almost 400 feet, Riverside is the tallest church in the United States.  Inspired by the architecture of France’s 13th century Gothic Chartres Cathedral, which took the better part of a century to build, Riverside was completed in 1930, just three years after construction began.  
      
Riverside Church (center) with Grant's Tomb on the left
Supported by a steel frame characteristic of skyscraper design, the church is faced with limestone decorated with exterior “buttresses” reflecting traditional Gothic cathedral elements.  Continuing its Gothic influence to the interior, the church sanctuary is ornately decorated with detailed carvings, engravings, stained glass and icons.
      
Riverside Church sanctuary
The church was conceived by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and a Christian liberal minister Harry E. Fosdick, who envisioned a large “interdenominational, interracial and international” congregation.  Indeed, the church is home to an interdenominational congregation comprised of more than 40 ethnic groups.  With its founder’s passion for social justice, Riverside has served as a focal point of national and global activism since its inception.  
      
With no plans for theater Saturday evening, we returned to Crossroads restaurant for dinner and turned in early.  Total walked:  4.5 miles
      
Sunday, 8 November
      
Sunday found us doing something else we’ve never done in New York City—renting a car.  We arose early and walked a mile south pick up our vehicle at the 34th Street office of Hertz.  As with many activities, this one was inspired by letterboxing.  There were some boxes in cemeteries much too large to navigate by foot.  And Sunday morning was the only time we’d consider driving in this busy, busy city. 
      
Green-Wood's Gothic entrance at 25th Street
Our first destination was Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.  Founded in 1838 as a rural cemetery, Green-Wood covers almost 500 acres in western Brooklyn.  By the 1860s, Green-Wood had more than 100,000 burials.  With its lush landscaping and impressive monuments and sculptures, Green-Wood was attracting half a million visitors annually, second only to Niagara Falls as the nation’s most popular tourist attraction.  
      
Horace Greeley went east to reach his final resting place
Today the cemetery has 570,000 permanent residents, and we were there to find the graves of two historic figures, one well-known, the other not so much.  The first letterbox tribute we found was to Horace Greeley, founder and editor of the New York Tribune, who was known for his vigorous articulation of the North’s antislavery sentiments during the 1850s.  Despite his vigorous efforts in support of a medley of reforms, economic progress, and the elevation of the masses, Greeley is best remembered for a phrase he made famous in his advocacy of western expansion:  “Go West young man, go west.”
      
Bergh's unusual monument certainly made it easier to find
Unlike Greeley, whose name is remembered more than his work, Henry Bergh, whose grave we sought next is little remembered by name.  Yet most are familiar with his work.  In April 1866, Bergh founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA) in New York City.   Modeled after Britain’s Royal SPCA , it is the oldest animal welfare organization in the United States.  Through the efforts of Bergh and other animal welfare pioneers, anti-cruelty laws were soon passed.  Today the nationwide organization provides direct assistance to half a million animals annually.
      
Calvary Cemetery
At Calvary Cemetery in Queens, we learned about another memorable New Yorker.  Like Green-Wood, Calvary was established as a rural cemetery in 1845.  It was founded by the trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which still manages the Catholic burial ground today.   Entrusted with more than 1,750,000 interments, Calvary is the densely populated cemetery visible from the expressways leading from LaGuardia Airport into Manhattan.
      
No burial at sea for Kate
We went to Calvary to find the grave of Miss Katherine Gilnagh (later, Katherine Gilnagh Manning.)  Kate’s sister Mollie had emigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1911 and found work in Manhattan.   Once she settled in, Mollie sent word for her sister to join her.  Sixteen-year-old Kate bought third-class passage on the Titanic and boarded in Queenstown, the ship’s last port of call.  
      
On the night the ship sank, Kate struggled to make her way onto a lifeboat because the ship’s crew prioritized the rescue of higher fare passengers.  Eventually, she secured a position on a lifeboat after claiming her sister was on the same vessel.  Kate recounted later she did not comprehend the magnitude of the disaster and naïvely thought that this was the regular, if difficult, way to make it to America.  Once united with sister Mollie, Kate settled in New York and soon met the Irish immigrant who would become her husband.  She died in 1971 at the age of 75. 
      
After our explorations of these magnificent cemeteries, we finally made our way back to Midtown Manhattan and returned the car to Hertz at 3 pm.  We walked to SW44 restaurant for dinner and returned to the hotel to pack up for our return home on Monday.  Total miles walked Sunday:  4.0
      
Monday, 9 November
      
After a morning at the hotel catching up on some personal business, we caught a taxi to LaGuardia at 1:30.  Our flight left late but arrived early in Atlanta.  And all was well when we arrived at home.
     
SATURDAY, 7 NOVEMBER - MONDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2015
With sunset before 5 pm, we had a good look at the city's lights when our flight left New York at 5:30.