Tag Archives: Manhattan

Architecture: The Brooklyn Bridge

When completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, and would remain so for 20 years. It was so well designed and built that it's still going strong while others built in its era have been replaced. Uploaded by wikimedia.org.

It takes an abundance of confidence to decide to build a suspension bridge that’s fifty percent longer than the longest one in existence. But that’s what bridge designer John Roebling and his son Washington Roebling did. Until their work was complete, the only way to get from Manhattan to Brooklyn was by ferry. The Brooklyn Bridge, opened in 1883, turned out to be 5,989 feet long. Now, more than 125 years later, it still carries more than 120,000 vehicles a day over the East River, along with untold pedestrians and bicycles.

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Although 27 people died during construction, the Roeblings’ design and construction turned out to be ahead of its time. The Brooklyn Bridge is a suspension/cable-stay hybrid, and Washington Roebling tried to build a structure that would be six times as strong as necessary. He succeeded, and the Brooklyn Bridge still is a key part of the New York City transportation matrix long after other bridges have been replaced.

The Brooklyn Bridge became a National Historic Landmark in 1964. The Bridge’s distinctive Gothic design is one reason it ranked number 20 in the AIA’s list of America’s Favorite Architecture. It’s the second bridge on the list, trailing only the Golden Gate (Great American Things, August 21, 2010).

Food: Le Bernardin

Le Bernardin, which specializes in a French presentation of seafood, is ranked the number one restaurant in NYC by New York Magazine, and number one in America by the reader-reviewers of Zagat. Uploaded by boston.com.

This elegant restaurant, located in midtown Manhattan, is consistently ranked as one of America’s finest restaurants. Since its opening in 1986, it has consistently received raved reviews from the food press – and from satisfied diners.

I’ll admit right off that Le Bernardin is above my pay grade. I’ve never had the pleasure of tasting its gourmet fare, so I’ll let the food and wine press speak to its merits:

Chef Eric Ripert. Uploaded by nytimes.com.

From Gourmet: “There is a reason why Le Bernardin is constantly rated at the top of every New York restaurant poll: It may be the most perfect combination of France and America that can possibly be achieved in a restaurant.”

From New York: “The city is full of ornate restaurants, but none of them manages to exude the glamour and class of Manhattan the way this one does, without any overweening glitz.”

From Zagat: “Everything in (Chef Eric Ripert’s) elegant French seafood-based cuisine – from the bouillabaisse to the raw/almost raw fish and seafood selections, to the extensive wine list and dreamy desserts – conspires to ensure an unforgettable experience.”

From Forbes: Le Bernardin remains the gold standard of seafood restaurants.”

Food: Clam Chowder

 

Most Americans know about New England Clam Chowder (with cream) and Manhattan Clam Chowder (with tomatoes), but there's also Rhode Island style, made with a clear broth. Uploaded by wikimedia.org.

Let’s not fight the battle of clam chowders here. Most Americans outside of New England know of basically two variations on this dish – New England style (made with milk or cream) and Manhattan style (with tomatoes). I like them both, though they’re very different flavors.

New England style. Uploaded by trufflemutt.com.

But in researching this post I find that there’s a third kind of clam chowder, call it Rhode Island style. It’s made with a clear broth. One source said that tourists prefer the white chowder, while locals choose the clear.

Many of the ingredients of clam chowder remain the same, regardless of color. Clams, of course; usually diced potatoes and onions; butter; corn and celery, sometimes; and occasionally a little salt pork or bacon for flavor.

 

Rhode Island style. Uploaded by foodgps.com.

Clam chowder is a hearty beginning to any seafood dinner, or can be a main course by itself. But let’s agree on one thing together, right now. It’s pronounced the New England way. Not “chow-der,” but “chow-dah.” It’s also more fun to say it that way.

 

Americana: Macy’s New York

 

Macy's Herald Square store in Manhattan has more than two million square feet of retail space. Uploaded by earthdocumentary.com.

Not many retail establishments can trace their roots back before the Civil War. But R.H. Macy opened his eponymous store at the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan in 1858, then later moved to 18th Street and Broadway as the business grew. Finally, further growth took the flagship store to 34th Street and Broadway — Herald Square — in 1902, where it remains to this day. Its

Macy's in 1907. Uploaded by flickriver.com.

building, an art deco masterpiece, is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

With about two million square feet of retail space, Macy’s claims to be “The World’s Largest Store.” Maybe it is, but it’s certainly the one that’s been permanently linked in the minds of Americans everywhere as what New York elegance is all about. The Thanksgiving parade (Great American Things, November 25, 2009) for which the company is justifiably proud, dates back to 1924, and is still one of the most anticipated events of the holiday season.

In the last century, Macy’s merged with other department store chains and is now a national brand found at many regional malls. But there’s still something magical about that store in Herald Square. Sure, the branches are Macy’s, but the Manhattan store is MACY’S.

 

Film: The Movies of 1979

 

In this year of excellent movies, Kramer vs. Kramer won Oscars for Best Picture, Actor, Director, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay. Uploaded by hundland.org.

What makes some movie years better than others? Perhaps it’s better studio executives making good decisions about which movies to “green light.” Maybe a particularly talented group of directors is working in the same era. Or maybe… it just happens that way. For whatever reason, 1979 was one of those outstanding years, and here are some of the reasons why:

10 – Bo Derek, Dudley Moore, and Ravel’s “Bolero.” Directed by Blake Edwards.

Alien – Did it belong in the sci-fi or horror category? Yes. Starring Sigourney Weaver, directed by Ridley Scott.

All That Jazz – Lots of dancing, lots of dancer drama. Starring Roy Scheider, directed by Bob Fosse.

…And Justice for All – “You’re out of order! This whole trial is out of order!” Al Pacino goes nuts, directed by Norman Jewison.

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Apocalypse Now – The true madness of Vietnam. With Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando, and Martin Sheen. Directed by Frances Ford Coppola.

Being There – Peter Sellers’s tour de force as Chauncey Gardner. Directed by Hal Ashby.

Breaking Away – A father, a son, a bicycle race, a surprise hit. Directed by Peter Yates.

The China Syndrome – The movie that has crippled America’s nuclear industry. Starring Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon, directed by James Bridges.

Kramer vs. Kramer – Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep fight for custody of their child. Directed by Robert Benton. Won Academy Award for Best Picture.

Manhattan – I wanted to move to NYC after I saw this movie. I still do. Woody Allen directs, with Diane Keaton and Mariel Hemingway.

The Muppet Movie – The highest-grossing movie of the year. Directed by James Frawley.

Norma Rae – Sally Field proves she had true acting chops. Directed by Martin Ritt.