simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: The Day's Work
2 ... 2 ...

Monday, 27 October 2008

The Day's Work

As I wrote in Being Trumps Doing, when I leave my home on a beautiful day for a stroll in the city, I frequently have some small agenda. For the workaholic, this helps justify recreation, turning fun into something of a small task, in keeping with the Protestant work ethic of my New England background. After all, play is for children, not adults.
The problem with this approach to life is that a small agenda item, if planned for a later part of the day, can become a nagging irritant. And so it was on Sunday, when, after a few errands, I intended to take a walk to Tompkins Square Park and see what activities may be at hand and to procure some fruit from the small farmer's market there.
However, while walking down Broadway, I come across a block party - the barricaded street had Park Rangers, children's activities including rides on a shetland pony, re-enactments, cavalry horses, bales of hay, a Gatling gun and Hotchkiss gun - I had unknowingly stumbled upon the 150th birthday celebration of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States. Unbeknownst to me, Roosevelt was born in a NYC brownstone at 28 East 20th Street in Manhattan. The home is now open to the public as a museum. It is a National Historic site and is administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
The home, typically not open on Sundays, was having a free open house as part of the celebration. This was a great opportunity for my first visit - visitors were allowed to roam the property at will. Typically, period rooms can only be seen via guided tour. The staff is quite accommodating. From their website we learn:

Not all Presidents were born in log cabins. One was actually born in a New York City brownstone! Visit the birthplace and boyhood home of Teddy Roosevelt and see what it was like to grow up in the "gilded age."

Forty percent of the furnishings are original. One that caught my eye was a beautiful original gas-illuminated lamp with panels known as a lithophanes. A lithophane is a translucent porcelain, etched or molded, with varying degrees of thickness. The result is a three-dimensional image which changes depending on the light source. It disappears and reappears when backlit or not. Typically credited to Baron Paul de Bourging in France, 1827, although evidence indicates that similar work was done in China one thousand years before in the Tang Dynasty.
A swing through Union Square provided other distractions - what appeared to be a Christian rock group and an assault by some variant on the Zombie Con which I witnessed last week - see here. It soon became clear that it had become too late for Tompkins Square Park. A shame in a way, because although it had been a great afternoon punctuated by a surprise landmark event, somehow I felt that the day's work had not really been done :)


Post a Comment