Art Deco aficionados may look to Manhattan and South Beach for the last vestiges of the fabled style, but our home of the Bronx is a little-known goldmine for these architectural classics. We’ve touched on this subject before, of course. Scouting NY just took it one step further with a jaunt through the surviving Art Deco buildings along the Grand Concourse. And if it weren’t for the pun police suspecting me of bad taste already, I’d tell you that I’m so jazzed about this. —MN
I’m just waiting for the green to color the trees around the Bronx River. Then I’ll be content in the knowledge that the ice is on vacation. —MN
So dashing, so handsome, so…well, not exactly beaming with mirthful enthusiasm, was he? His partner, meanwhile, was simply too busy for this camera nonsense.
Nathaniel Lord Britton may not have been the smiliest gentleman to sit for a photo op (I’m pretty sure the thousand-yard stare was a requisite back then), but his stern looks belied a boundless joy for botany—an enthusiasm matched only by that of his bryologist wife, Elizabeth Britton (studious to the nth degree), which would ultimately lay the groundwork for The New York Botanical Garden.
The erudite duo met as members of the famed Torrey Botanical Club (now Society) in the 1880s, but it wasn’t until after visiting Britain’s Kew Gardens on their honeymoon that Elizabeth made her pitch to the Club here in the U.S.: New York deserved its own botanical garden, and the Brittons were more than willing to take the reins. By 1895, only seven years after Elizabeth’s proposal, Nathaniel had left his position with Columbia University to take on the newly-established NYBG in the Bronx as its full-time Director—a title he would hold until 1929.
Over the course of almost 50 years, the pair’s lasting relationship produced some of the finest botanical work this country has ever seen, covering the publication of numerous landmark texts, the promotion of new botanical nomenclatures, and—of course—the establishment of North America’s foremost botanical garden.
It’s said that Elizabeth’s death in 1934, being such a blow to Nathaniel, contributed to his own death only four months later. I suppose “the couple that gardens together, stays together” is almost an apt aphorism in this case.
Special thanks goes out to the tack-sharp Mia D’Avanza, our Reference Librarian, for coming up with these images via the Mertz Archives. The top left image is, in fact, Nathaniel as a toddler, wearing a unisex dress of the period. —MN
Say it with me now: Spring. So perfect, so monosyllabic—it rolls off the tongue. ~Spring~
We’ve had fun this winter; honestly, too much. The Holiday Train Show was dazzling, Tropical Paradise left us looking all-too-happily for daiquiri ingredients, and, of course, there was the snow. Seeing Tulip Tree Allée dusted with white is like taking a daytrip to Narnia. But it’s high time we get back to the green, eh? Or purple, white, blue, et cetera.
Be still my wintry heart, spring is a thing again! (We know, the equinox isn’t until March 20th—but let’s not waste celebration time on formalities, hm?) —MN
(Photos by our lovely resident shutterbug, Ivo M. Vermeulen, who’s been out documenting [gallivanting around in] spring’s new Garden growth)
The Museum of Modern Art’s PS1 outpost in Long Island City is about to become a bit more environmentally conscious, thanks to an upcoming collaboration of concerned artists, economists, ecologists, architects, and thinkers at large. Their goal? To address through art and interaction the challenges faced by our civilization—and the natural world around it—as we barrel along.
According to the curator, MoMA’s Klaus Biesenbach, “EXPO 1: New York focuses on some of the most pressing issues of the day set against a backdrop of economic and socio-political concerns that have made a dramatic impact on daily life.”
Between interactive art installations, film viewings, lectures, architectural presentations, and more, this exhibition looks to prove timely in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. And as it runs from May 12 through September 2, there’s no excuse for missing out—just hop on the G train. Click through for more on scheduling, participants, and additional information. —MN
The perspective of that first image just gets me in the best way. The Orchid Show runs through April 22. —MN
Orchids & Company at the New York Botanical Garden, NYC.
If you’re a Poison Ivy cosplayer with a yearly pilgrimage to New York Comic Con on your calendar, you’ll probably be into this. Despite being one of the largest convention centers on the east coast, that hasn’t stopped the renovators of the Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side from considering environmentally sound architecture.
While some may cry “greenwashing,” the nearly 300,000-square-foot green roof (composed of sedum grown in upstate New York) soon to be installed on this aging con haven promises not only insulation and roof protection, but sizable energy savings. Something tells me NYCC tickets won’t get any cheaper, but hey, one battle at a time. Click through for the technicals. —MN
Ever wondered how beavers got the reputation for being busy, well, beavers? After checking out the nearly 200 images captured by one of our Forest critter cams of this busy, busy beaver, I think I finally understand. The Garden and the Bronx River are the proud residence of the first two beavers —José and Justin—to call New York City home in more than 200 years. Beavers were once common in our fair boroughs, but their luxurious pelts were their doom, and they were hunted and trapped to extinction in our area while simultaneously making Gotham a world capital of commerce and trade (they’re even featured on the official seal of the city).
Whether this beaver is José or Justin is almost impossible to tell, but it’s not the first time we have caught our resident critters on film. Over the summer, during an impressive heat wave, our critter cam also caught a curious fox, racoon, and one very exasperated looking great-horned owl. We’re sure there are more critter cam surprises to come, so stay tuned and keep an eye peeled when you’re visiting the Garden, you just never know who you’ll meet along the way! ~AR
ps - The awesome gifs were created by Matt Newman, aka MN.
“In an ideal situation, we would have gardens with everyone in the community participating,” Ms. McPherson said. “But in fact, a few die-hard people end up carrying the flag.”
You’re not the first one to walk by a vacant, overgrown lot and think to yourself, “Why haven’t they turned this into a community garden?!” But while the urban gardening movement may be getting truckloads of press as of late, there’s a kink in the green push that isn’t being addressed: a lack of actual gardeners.
I’m not talking about NYBG-certified landscape architects or experienced upstate farmers. Just everyday New Yorkers who are willing to get their hands dirty in cleaning up, planting, and caring for the many spaces in the city that could be supplying food and community to neighborhoods that need it. Or, for that matter, the plots that are already being gardened. This is an interesting read for those who have the aspirations, but maybe not the staying power (yet), to add a true mandate to the gardening movement.
If you’re a Bronxite who wants to make a difference, you can check out our Bronx Green-Up initiative, working to help local New Yorkers with technical assistance, horticultural advice, and the gardening training needed to keep that revitalized plot from sinking back into a sea of weeds. —MN
(Photo credit: Robert Wright)
Yeah, that’s actually New York City. And if going canoeing in this packed metropolis sounds outlandish, it shouldn’t. You’ll have your chance on November 3 and 4 when the Bronx River Alliance leads canoe trips for our Fall Forest Weekend, guiding rowers through the NYBG’s stretch of the river for a rare fall outing. You’ll want to register early to get a spot.
The Alliance also leads canoeing trips along other stretches of the Bronx River throughout the year, so be sure to check out their schedule if you’re game.
(Image source: our very own Pat Gonzalez—volunteer, raptor fiend, and all around cool lady.) —MN
Zombie Pumpkins to Invade Grand Central Terminal Friday, October 19, 2012!
Yes we’re serious! Join us, Ray Villafane and his team of gourd-carving ghouls, and one of the biggest pumpkins in the world this Friday at the west entrance to Grand Central, just off Vanderbilt Avenue! We’ll be there all day watching Ray & co. carve. Come stop by and say hi! In case you need convincing, the pictures above are from the awesome carving Ray did last year and his concept for this year. ~AR
It may not sound like much, installing some new pipes, but to us it’s a priceless project. Part of New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection’s “Bluebelt” project, the new catch basins are keeping NYBG’s aquatic habitats cleaner, and making it safer for our fellow commuters on Southern Boulevard. Now that’s what I call a win-win! ~AR
Get a bird’s eye view of the installation of our latest exhibition, Manolo Valdés: Monumental Sculpture.
What do Saturday Night Live, Conan O’Brien, The Upright Citizens’ Brigade, and the balaclava-centric Delocated have in common? That would be the preternaturally talented writer and performer Ali Farahnakian, founder of the People’s Improv Theater. And what does he have to do with The New York Botanical Garden? Fanboyish name-dropping aside, it’s more about his daughters: the young pair counts the NYBG’s Everett Children’s Adventure Garden among their favorite fall destinations.
“We love exploring the lush greens and gorgeous mazes at the,” said Farahnakian. “The last time we visited, they had a fall project where the children got to identify leaves in the park and learn about the different trees they come from.”
Fall fun aside, Ali offers some handy ideas for parents looking to spend time with their kids out and about in NYC. Click through for a tidy list, courtesy of Time Out New York. —MN
New Yorkers have a talent for the tiny. They owe it to years spent cozying shoebox studios and kitchenettes, opening up spaces with illusory paint schemes and fold-in furniture. It’s the cost of living in metropolis. And, of late, they’re getting just as good with their outdoor spaces, be it a forgotten, tarpaper square of roof or otherwise.
Working a few paint bucket planters out onto the fire escape is one thing, but what about turning it into a functional garden? A place for summer dusks where you can sit and have a drink without folding yourself into an origami crane.
True to form, New Yorkers have tackled the challenge. And they’re seeing success. Click through for the New York Times’ tale of tiny trellises, tables, and tree spaces. —MN