The Village Halloween Parade, celebrating 50 years since it began as a small neighborhood “promenade” and has become one of the largest Halloween events in the world, was themed UPSIDE/DOWN, reflecting the tumult of the last few years, and inviting self-reflection.
“The Halloween Parade has always been a night of transformation, but this topsy turvy year feels even more-so in terms of realizing a dream, being who you are most authentically in your imagination,” said Jeanne Fleming, Artistic and Producing Director.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators packed the streets along the mile-long parade route from Canal Street to 16th Street along Sixth Avenue, to thrill at hundreds of puppets, 50 bands representing music from around the world, dancers, artists, and thousands of other New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation in the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world – the biggest crowds since 2019.
“I’m astonished by how many people are here,” said a justifiably proud and delighted Fleming. “We invite people to come out and they did!”
Spectators thrilled at seeing hundreds of puppets, 50 bands and dancers representing music from around the world and New York’s melting pot, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation, in the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world.
Started by Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee in 1973, the Parade began as a walk from house to house in his neighborhood for his children and their friends.
After the second year of this local promenade, Theater for the New City stepped in and produced the event on a larger scale as part of their City in the Streets program.
Today the Parade is the largest celebration of its kind in the world and has been picked by Festivals International as “The Best Event in the World” for October 31.
Now, 50 years later, the Parade draws more than 70,000 costumed participants and some 2 million spectators, including television-viewing audience, live on NY1 beginning at 8 pm.
In 1994, the Mayor of the City of New York issued a Proclamation honoring the Village Halloween Parade for 20 years of bringing everyone in the City together in a joyful and creative way and being a boon to the economic life of the City. “New York is the world’s capital of creativity and entertainment. The Village Halloween Parade presents the single greatest opportunity for all New Yorkers to exhibit their creativity in an event that is one-of-a-kind, unique and memorable every year. New Yorkers of all ages love Halloween, and this delightful event enables them to enjoy it every year and join in with their own special contributions. The Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village is a true cultural treasure.”
The irony is that while Halloween is about taking on a completely different persona, at the Village Halloween Parade, we see New Yorkers’ true selves.
And that’s true to the Upside/Down-Inside/Out theme.
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
New York City’s summer cultural season kicks off with the 45th Annual Museum Mile Festival – the Big Apple’s “biggest block party” –on Tuesday, June 13, from 6 to 9 pm, rain or shine. Walk the mile on Fifth Avenue between 82nd Street and 104th Street while visiting eight of New York City’s finest cultural institutions, open free during these extended hours: The Africa Center, El Museo del Barrio, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Jewish Museum, Neue Galerie and the Museum of the City of New York (which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year). It’s an electric, eclectic festive atmosphere, with live music and street performers all along the avenue, plus special exhibitions, works from permanent collections and special family-oriented activities inside.
It is also an opportunity to see the major exhibits underway throughout the summer:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Van Gogh’s Cypresses, thru August 27: Vincent van Gogh’s most famous artworks, Wheat Field with Cypresses and The Starry Night, take center stage at Van Gogh’s Cypresses, the first exhibition to focus on the trees immortalized by one of the most beloved artists of our time. Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beautythru July 16, highlighting the designer’s body of work spanning from the 1950s to his final collection in 2019, the show will have approximately 150 pieces on display.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: Sarah Sze: Timelapse thru September 10: For this solo exhibition, Sarah Sze created a series of site-specific installations that weave a trail of discovery through multiple spaces of the Guggenheim’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright building.
100th Anniversary of The Museum of the City of New York: The museum has amassed a collection of over 750,000 objects including photographs, prints, costumes, paintings and more to celebrate, document and interpret the City’s past, present and soon-to-be-announced future. These major exhibits are on view: This Is New York: 100 Years of the City in Art and Pop Culture exhibit explores how the City has served as a muse for storytelling over the past century; through a variety of mediums such as film, music, literature and visual arts, the exhibit presents a diverse and engaging portrayal of NYC. Food in New York: Bigger Than the Plate, thru September 17, highlights the City’s raucous and diverse food culture all while examining the various challenges of NYC’s food systems. From sustainability to equitable access to food, the exhibition explores the ways artists and designers are creating solutions to address the global and local challenges we face when it comes to the food system.
El Museo del Barrio: Something Beautiful: Reframing La Colección, thru March 10, 2024. One of El Museo del Barrio’s most ambitious presentations to date features a complex and culturally diverse permanent collection of 500 artworks, including artist commissions and acquisitions, focusing on the contributions of Amerindian, African and European cultures, through rotating displays over the course of a year.
The Museum Mile Festival is just the first of a whole series of festivals, special events, cultural happenings that make the city hot, hot, hot, or cool man, really cool. Here’s a roundup:
The New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, have become an iconic New York summer experience since they began in 1965, transforming parks throughout the city into a patchwork of picnickers enjoying friends, family, and music under the stars, for free! This summer Music Director Jaap van Zweden conducts two iconic masterpieces — Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man — plus a potpourri of overtures by Rossini and J. Strauss II, and works by NY Phil Very Young Composers. June 13, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx; June 14, Central Park, Manhattan; June 15, Cunningham Park, Queens; June 16, Prospect Park, Brooklyn; – these concerts begin at 8 pm followed by fireworks. Also, June 18, Staten Island at 4 pm. For weather and updates, call Concert Info Hotline at 212-875-5709, https://nyphil.org/
Shakespeare in the Park presents: Hamlet by The Public Theater, Delacorte Theater, Central Park, Manhattan, June 8–August 6, 2023 directed by Tony Award–winner Kenny Leon and featuring Tony Award–nominee Ato Blankson-Wood in the title role. Same-day tickets can be obtained by lining up (early) at The Delacorte or at a borough distribution site (2 tix pp), or by an in-person lottery in the lobby of The Public Theater at 425 Lafayette Street, or through a digital lottery via the TodayTix mobile app or website. A limited number of advance reservation tickets can be had by making a contribution in support of Free Shakespeare in the Park. Info at 212-967-7555 or visit publictheater.org.
More free Shakespeare! New York Classical theater company is performing Shakespeare’s Richard III, Tuesday through Sunday, 7-9 pm (Central Park West & 103 St., June 13-25); Brooklyn Commons (Myrtle Avenue & Bridge Streets, June 27-July 2) and Carl Schurz Park (East 87th St., July 4-9). You can also watch the rehearsals taking place in Central Park, 10 am-3:30 pm Tuesdays through Sundays until June 9. (You can also watch the rehearsals taking place in Central Park, 10 am-3:30 pm Tuesdays through Sundays until June 9.) Make a FREE reservation and receive pre-show notice of weather cancellations at https://nyclassical.org/richardiii.
Jazz Age Lawn Party, now celebrating its 18th year, is one of the world’s most authentic Prohibition-era-inspired gathering, taking place this year June 10-11 and August 12-13, on Governor’s Island. Hosted by Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, one of the world’s premier Jazz Age dance orchestras, specializing in the Hot Jazz of the 1920s. Featuring Dreamland Follies, a ten-lady Art Deco dance spectacle evoking the great Ziegfeld; Queen Esther; Peter Mintun; Gelber & Manning band; Roddy Caravella and The Canarsie Wobblers, with their scandalous Charleston numbers and rebellious and exuberant spirit of Roaring ‘20s youth. Plus dance lessons, bathing beauty contest. Purchase tickets in advance. Governor’s Island (a getaway destination in itself), reached by ferry from Lower Manhattan (Battery Maritime Building located at 10 South Street, adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry)and Brooklyn. (https://jazzagelawnparty.com/)
Free Summer Programming at Little Island, Chelsea, Manhattan, June 7–September 3: The award-winning public park on the Hudson River Greenway, hosts an array of free programming including performances from Tony-, Grammy-, and Emmy Award–winners and nominees; drag bingo; DJs; dance parties; Teen Night; Broadway performances.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!, Brooklyn, June 7–August 24, celebrates its 45th anniversary, with a lineup of artists from around the world honoring the diversity of Brooklyn and the broader BRIC community. This year’s lineup includes Corinne Bailey Rae, Kelela, Liv.e, Robert Glasper, NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge).
Bargemusic free concerts, Saturdays, 4 pm through August, Music in Motion” Series — a one hour performance (no intermission), including a Q & A session with the musicians. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1; close to the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn (https://www.bargemusic.org/admission-free-concerts/).
Forest Hills Stadium’s 100th Anniversary Concert Lineup, Forest Hills, Queens, thru September 30: music and comedy performances from some of the biggest names in music and entertainment, including The Strokes, Fall Out Boy, Kevin Hart, Steve Lacy, LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells Festival, Duran Duran, Maggie Rogers, Toro y Moi, Weezer, Arctic Monkeys, LCD Soundsystem, Dave Matthews Band.
Carnegie Hall Citywide, Citywide, June 9–August 4: Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the beloved free concert series highlights renowned local artists from an array of musical genres.
SummerStage 2023, Citywide, June 3–September 30: now in its 37th season, hosting free and benefit live performances in 13 parks across the five boroughs from a range of musical genres including salsa, jazz, country, opera, Afrobeats, hip hop. The annual concert series will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with concerts featuring artists from NYC.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition, Herald Square, Manhattan, opened May 2023 for a limited time: Fans can celebrate Harry Potter and the entire Wizarding World with the most comprehensive touring exhibit in world. Featuring favorite moments, props, costumes, characters, and locations, the exhibition delights visitors with powerful storytelling married with interactive technology to explore iconic film scenes, creatures and characters from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films as well as the Tony Award–winning Broadway production Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Harry Potter™: Tickets (for timed entry, but you can stay as long as you want) start at $29 for adults. 50 W. 34th Street (34th Street and Broadway). www.harrypotterexhibition.com. (See: IMMERSIVE WORLD OF HARRY POTTER EXHIBITION ENCHANTS NEW YORK BUT ONLY FOR LIMITED TIME)
Africa Fashion at Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, June 23–October 22 180 works celebrating the global impact of African fashions from the 1950s to present day; 180 works are presented.
Gardens & Works by Ebony G. Pattersonat New York Botanical Garden, The Bronx, thru September 17: known for her lavishly detailed mixed media installations, this major site-specific exhibition showcases her breathtaking and provocative displays of art and nature.
Shelley Niro: 500 Year Itch at National Museum of the American Indian, Lower Manhattan, through January 1, 2024, examines and celebrate more than 50 years of Shelley Niro’s paintings, photographs, films and more. Filled with humor and references to pop culture, the exhibition offers a glimpse into the artist’s timeless cultural knowledge and generational history of her Six Nations Kanyen’kehá:ka (Mohawk) community.
Hispanic Society of America,Washington Heights, Manhattan, reopens its Main Building June 2023 after six years of renovations and improvements. Since 1904, the museum has been the home to over 750,000 objects including rare books and masterpieces from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries.
Armstrong Corona Campus (formerly the Louis Armstrong House),Corona, Queens, Summer 2023, after undergoing a physical and programmatic expansion debuts a new cultural center with an interactive exhibit, archival collections, a 75-seat performance venue and store, all dedicated to celebrating and preserving the life and legacy of the legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong.
Ukrainian Institute of America, Upper East Side, Manhattan, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the art, music and literature of Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora, celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2023.
Malibu Barbie Café New York, The Seaport, Manhattan, thru September 15: Barbie fans will be transported to a 1970s Malibu California café filled with the beloved doll’s signature colors and casual, family-friendly fare including Pacific Paradise Pancakes, West Coast Wedge Salad and a California Dreamin’ Club Sandwich, all made by Master Chef finalist Chef Becky Brown. The pop-up will also be complete with photo ops inspired by Malibu Barbie including a life-size doll box, exclusive merchandise and more.
Under Cover: J.C. Leyendecker and American Masculinityat New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, Upper West Side, Manhattan, thru August 13 explores the work of J.C. Leyendecker, a prominent American illustrator, and his influence on shaping ideals of masculinity in the early 20th century. Through a collection of his iconic magazine covers, the exhibit examines Leyendecker’s depictions of stylish, confident and athletic men, highlighting their impact on shaping cultural perceptions of masculinity during that time.
Craft Front & Center: Exploring the Permanent Collection at Museum of Arts and Design, Columbus Circle, Manhattan, thru January 14, 2024, featuring a collection of over 3,500 objects, as well as a fresh installation of more than 60 historic works and new acquisitions dating from the golden age of the American Craft movement to the present day.
Yayoi Kusama: I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowersat David Zwirner Gallery, Chelsea, Manhattan, thru July 21: In one of her largest gallery exhibitions to date, celebrated contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama features new paintings, sculptures, flowers, and an Infinity Mirrored Room.
Oceanic, Portalat Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, Soho, Manhattan, thru August 13, through various mediums and perspectives, the exhibit invites viewers to contemplate the fluidity, liberation and transformative power represented by the vastness of the ocean and its connection to LGBTQ+ identities.
Vulnerable Landscapesat Staten Island Museum, Randall Manor, Staten Island, thru December 30, highlights the Staten Island shorelines at the forefront of climate change in NYC, examining the past while navigating the route forward.
Darrel Ellis: Regenerationat The Bronx Museum of the Arts, South Bronx, thru September 10, the first comprehensive, scholarly survey of pioneering artist Darrel Ellis, the exhibition highlights Ellis’s body of work that combines painting, printmaking, photography and drawing before his untimely passing in 1992, co-organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art,
Uniquely NYC Tours
Brooklyn Chocolate Tour – A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, Brooklyn: Enjoy chocolates from some of the finest traditional and artisanal chocolates out of Brooklyn on this recently resumed tour. Guests can learn more about the history of chocolate and watch demonstrations as they explore many of the borough’s most beloved chocolate shops, including the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, The Chocolate Room, Raaka Chocolate and Li-Lac Chocolates.
Sustainable Harlem – Like a Local Tours, Harlem, Manhattan: support hyper-local and community-based organizations in the historic neighborhood of Harlem with this socially impactful tour. Guests will learn about many of the sustainable movements within Harlem and the people behind them such as the New York Fair Trade Coalition at the Sustainable Fashion Community Center, Simone from Green and Blue Eco Care and more.
Culinary Tour in Washington Heights – MAD Tours & Events, Washington Heights, Manhattan: Explore this culturally rich neighborhood (featured in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights”) on a special food tour. Known as one of Manhattan’s Latino hubs, Washington Heights is home to some of the City’s best Dominican, Mexican, and Cuban food.
Food Cart Tour: Jackson Heights – Turnstile Tours, Jackson Heights, Queens: Explore many of the local flavors in one of the City’s most diverse neighborhoods right in the heart of Queens on a two-hour walking and tasting tour. Sample delicious favorites from around the world while learning more about the people and organizations helping the City’s street vendors continue to thrive.
Retail Store Tours, Brooklyn & Manhattan: Explore the driving forces changing the retail landscape and the best of retail innovation in this two-hour tour led by industry professionals.
New York City Borough Pass, Citywide: a new sightseeing pass designed to showcase the beauty of the neighborhoods and cultures across all five boroughs. The pass features a diverse roster of popular attractions, museums, performing arts venues, including the Alice Austen House Museum, MoMA PS1, New York Botanical Garden, Van Cortlandt House Museum, Staten Island Children’s Museum.
The Go City Pass for New York City offers 100 different options in all five boroughs. For example, the two-day all inclusive pass, giving access to as much as you want/can do from among 105 attractions is $134 – regardless of how much the actual attractions charge (GoCity.com, 800 887 9103).
The grand finale to New York’s summer sensations: US Open Tennis Championships, Corona, Queens, August 28–September 10: It begins with US Open Fan Week, August 23-28, when the grounds are open to the public with free admission, so you can watch the (thrilling) US Open Qualifying Tournament, watch open practices of the tennis stars, and additional scheduled exhibitions. This year, there is the first ever US Open Food Event Thursday August 25, 2022, 7pm-9pm; special appearances by athletes like former Top 5 ATP Player James Blake, and entertainment. (https://www.usopen.org/)
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
As I walk through a corridor lined with interactive displays on my way into seeing “Invisible Worlds” in the American Museum of Natural History’s new Gilder Center for Science, Education, Innovation, these are the lessons I learn:
All life is related through DNA.
All life is connected with an ecosystem.
All life is connected through food nets – the sun’s energy is in every bite.
Life requires energy.
All of life’s dramas play out in ecosystems as individuals cooperate and compete to survive.
In Nature, nothing exists alone.
And as you go through the iconic American Museum of Natural History, and especially the newly opened Gilder Center, what strikes you is this: the differences among all living creatures are intriguing but the similarities are even more edifying.
The new Gilder Center which opened in May, goes further than anything before in this iconic institution to engage, immerse, create interactions that make the transfer of knowledge, the act of active learning, the probing and understanding of the Secrets of Life absolutely thrilling.
The presentations are genius in the way they appeal to all ages and levels of understanding. From the dramatic architecture and physical space, to the state-of-the-art delivery to maximize immersion and engagement, to how smartly complex ideas are presented in simple terms without pandering, getting down to the essence, then inviting you to go deeper as you choose.
For the first time, we have access to see so much more of the Museum’s collections with the innovative displays of the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Collections Core, posing these basic questions:
Why do we study? Why do we collect? What do we learn? Why is it important? What can New York rocks tell us about the history of our continent? What can we learn from a pot? What can a footprint tell us that fossilized dinosaur bones cannot?
I watch as people are transfixed gazing into the spectacular displays, featuring more than 3,000 objects on three levels, representing every area of the Museum’s collections: vertebrate and invertebrate zoology, paleontology, geology, anthropology, and archaeology, with materials ranging from dinosaur tracks to astronomical instruments, and from antlers to pottery.
A series of digital exhibits feature stories about how scientists analyze various types of collections and introduce Museum researchers, while the glass-paneled exhibits, including those in the Macaulay Family Foundation Collection Galleries on the first and second floors, let us glimpse into working collections areas situated behind the displays. Together with the collections stored in the new Lepidoptera facility, which is also visible to visitors (located next to the Collections Core on the second floor), the Gilder Center houses more than 4 million scientific specimens
The Gilder Center is where you can see the astounding “Invisible Worlds,” an extraordinary 360-degree immersive science-and-art experience that represents the next generation in scientific visualization with interactive, immersive elements, stunning photography, graphics, sound and narration. It is visually exciting (you are flushed with the lights, the floor reacts to your movements) – highly instagrammable as you are bathed in color and pattern.
As you walk into “Invisible Worlds” (clever in that it is on a repeating 12-minute loop so you flow in and out on your own time, and don’t have to wait for start times and audiences to empty and fill an auditorium – I watched it twice), you first go through the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Gallery, where you engage at stations that pose questions you get to choose an answer and learn from the correct answer. (This requires a separate admission ticket.) They make learning so incredibly exciting – I am even fascinated to review the list of acknowledgements of the scientists and institutions that contributed to creating “Invisible Worlds” posted as you exit. The experience was designed by the Berlin-based Tamschick Media+Space with the Seville-based Boris Micka Associates, who worked closely with data visualization specialists and scientists from the Museum and researchers from around the world.
The 230,000-square-foot $465 million, seven-story Gilder Center is brilliantly situated to create 33 connections among 10 Museum buildings, linking the entire campus. I go through one hall and find myself among Pacific Peoples (the Moai ancestor statue from Rapa Nui, better known as Easter Island, is a BIG hit). Through another doorway and into the Hall of Vertebrate Origins (how fossils explain evolution and show a family tree of life of who we are related to full of surprises).
On the main floor, I find myself walking through an incomparable photo exhibit of mural-sized insects that are endangered or near instinct (photographer Levon Biss, took 1000 images of insects from AMNH’s collection under a microscope to achieve such extraordinary detail) with fascinating descriptions about the animals, then, go down a ramp into the Big Bang (I still can’t wrap my head around the concept that from the size of an atom, the universe burst out within seconds). From here, I walk along the ramp, where every step is 450 million years, through 13 billion years of the formation of the universe, expanding, expanding, expanding; then find myself in the Hall of Earth (still can’t fathom how the moon was formed in just 24 hours), then back in the Gilder Center in the new Insectarium, where you can conduct an insect orchestra, go inside a bee hive, and, as I find myself doing, watch two gigantic grasshoppers mating (fascinating).
“Pay attention to insects. Many pollinate plants. Some recycle plants and animal matter into the soil. They are food for countless other things – and even on another, often keeping pest populations in check. Whether beetles, bees or butterflies, insects help natural ecosystems stay healthy.”
For someone who doesn’t (didn’t) particularly care for insects, I have never been so delighted and fascinated to be amid them. The displays are INCREDIBLE.
The display of ants, coming from their nests, each hauling their leaf, traveling, down, up, across metal tubes above the walkway, then down and through a huge enclosure, then up, down, up, down a series of tubes – they work hard!
The key message: insects are not “pests” but vital as the basis of the ecosystem that sustains all life.
Altogether, the exhibits show these critical themes: all life is connected. All life is related. There are very real threats to survival, to extinction and when you go through the Dinosaur exhibits, you appreciate just how real that is. The notion of extinction also becomes very real when you go through another favorite section, the Hall of Human Evolution (check out how many hominid species have already gone extinct before we homo sapiens came to be dominant).
I love the reaction of the children, from the youngest toddlers, to the various experiences. And couples on a date (this is very date-worthy place).
The Gilder Center also houses a now-permanent Butterfly Vivarium (separate ticket required). The year-round, 2,500-square-foot Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium is where you can mingle with up to 1,000 free-flying butterflies (as many as 80 species) in various micro-environments along a meandering route. The Vivarium let’s you closely observe one of nature’s vital environmental barometers as well as a view into the pupae incubator, where you can learn about the butterfly life cycle and observe chrysalises (perhaps even see a butterfly emerge!). Staff also helps you view butterflies through a digital microscope.
The 230,000-square-foot $465 million, seven-story Gilder Center creates 33 connections among 10 Museum buildings to link the entire campus, with a new entrance on the Museum’s west side, at Columbus Avenue and 79th Street from the Theodore Roosevelt Park.
The Gilder Center’s undulating façade, with its inviting expanses of bird-safe fritted glass, is clad in Milford pink granite, the same stone used on the Central Park West entrance. The diagonal pattern of the stone panels evokes both the phenomenon of geological layering and the design of the richly textured, coursing surface of the masonry on the Museum’s 77th Street side.
The Gilder Center architecture – it was designed by Studio Gang, the international architecture and urban design practice led by Jeanne Gang – evokes the habitats of its subjects. Is this what an ant’s habitat would be like? Or where our cave dwelling ancestors would live? The shapes, patterns are so exciting, it invites instagrammable photos and selfies, as we saw. And so do the exhibits, especially Invisible Worlds, where the lights, lines, shapes wash over you and the entire room, getting everyone snapping and clicking.
Upon entering the Gilder Center, you find yourself in the five-story Kenneth C. Griffin Exploration Atrium, a grand space illuminated with natural light admitted through large-scale skylights. The building’s design is informed by the ways in which wind and water carve out landscapes that are exciting to explore, as well as the forms that hot water etches in blocks of ice.
The texture, color, and flowing forms of the Griffin Atrium were inspired by canyons in the southwestern U.S. and animate the Gilder Center’s grand entrance, evoking awe, excitement, and discovery. Its striking structure was created by spraying concrete directly onto rebar without traditional formwork in a technique known as “shotcrete,” invented in the early 1900s by Museum naturalist and taxidermy artist Carl Akeley. The bridges and openings in the hand-finished shotcrete connect visitors physically and visually to multiple levels housing new exhibition galleries, designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates with the Museum’s Exhibition Department, education spaces, and collections facilities, creating welcoming sightlines that encourage movement into and throughout the building. The verticality of the Griffin Atrium also acts as a key sustainability feature, providing natural light and air circulation to the heart of the building’s interior.
A broad, grand staircase on the east side of the Griffin Atrium, on axis with the entrance, is designed with one side as seating steps, featuring deep, walnut-covered treads and high risers that is popular for visitors to gather for rest and conversation and programs.
I discover the Museum’s David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Research Library and Learning Center, which houses one of the largest and most important natural history libraries in the world. An elegant new Reading Room on the fourth floor of the Gilder Center, with sweeping views to the west, is an oasis of tranquility with comfortable sofas, sitting areas and reading areas. With dedicated spaces for researchers and small meetings, as well as an alcove gallery for rotating exhibits, this new learning center serves as an intellectual hub for research, education, and convening, connecting visitors to its resources as never before. As part of expanded access to the Gottesman Library’s collections for visitors, the alcove gallery showcases materials from the Rare Book Collection and other holdings. The inaugural exhibit, What’s in a Name?, explores scientific nomenclature through rare books, art, and current research on insects.
“The Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation is a glorious new facility that fulfills a critical need at a critical time: to help visitors to understand the natural world more deeply, to appreciate that all life is interdependent, to trust science, and to be inspired to protect our precious planet and its myriad life forms,” said Ellen Futter, President Emerita of the American Museum of Natural History. “This opening represents a milestone moment for the Museum in its ongoing efforts to improve science literacy while highlighting for our visitors everything the Museum has to offer, and sparking wonder and curiosity.”
“The Gilder Center is designed to invite exploration and discovery that is not only emblematic of science, but also such a big part of being human. It aims to draw everyone in—all ages, backgrounds, and abilities—to share the excitement of learning about the natural world,” said Jeanne Gang, founding principal and partner of Studio Gang. “Stepping inside the large day-lit atrium, you are offered glimpses of the different exhibits on multiple levels. You can let your curiosity lead you. And with the many new connections that the architecture creates between buildings, it also improves your ability to navigate the Museum’s campus as a whole.”
Among its 33 connections, the Gilder Center links to some of the Museum’s most iconic Halls, including to the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, connected on the first floor through the dazzling Yurman Family Crystalline Pass, and to the Hall of Vertebrate Origins on the fourth floor.
The fifth and sixth floors of the Gilder Center house the Department of Ichthyology, including research spaces and specialized laboratories. These facilities complement the building’s new collections storage which houses the Museum’s ichthyology collection with more than 2.5 million research specimens, one of the world’s largest. The Museum’s Education Department is also located on these floors. (Its Richard Gilder Graduate School, the Museum offers two of the only free-standing, degree-granting programs of their kind at any museum in the U.S.: the Ph.D. program in Comparative Biology and the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Earth Science residency program.)
You can spend eons roaming about here, so it is good that there is also a new table-service restaurant within the Gilder serving contemporary American cuisine with regional and global influences, as well as beverages showcasing local breweries and vineyards (the main museum also has the lower level cafeteria). There are also two sensational gift shops in the Center.
For anyone who hasn’t been to a museum of the quality like AMNH in awhile and expect static, boring displays with complex notes, this is leaps, bounds and lightyears beyond. Even the iconic dinosaur displays have interactive, engaging elements and make key points that are most relevant to our lives. You really feel you are having a conversation with sheer genius. “State of the art” doesn’t begin to describe it.
The development of the Gilder Center facilities and exhibitions involved nearly every department in the Museum, from operations and exhibition to education and science. The core project team also includes Arup, Atelier Ten, Bergen Street Studio, BuroHappold Engineering, Davis Brody Bond (executive architect), Design & Production Museum Studio, Event Network, Hadley Exhibits, Langan Engineering, Ralph Applebaum Associates, Reed Hilderbrand, Tamschick Media+Space, AECOM Tishman, Venable LLP, and Zubatkin Owner Representation.
And when you think about it, what is so remarkable about AMNH is how what is contained here spans the entirety of history, culture, life, the natural world, the planet and even the known universe. And you get to explore it all.
All admission to the Museum is by timed entry and must be reserved online. Open daily, 10 am–5:30 pm. New York and New Jersey residents pay a suggested amount (all the attractions though are separately priced); standard pricing is Adults: $28 for general admission, $34 plus one, $39 plus all the attractions; Seniors and students are $22, $27, $31; Child 3-012 is $16, $20, $24.
The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869 with a dual mission of scientific research and science education, is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses more than 40 permanent exhibition halls, galleries for temporary exhibitions, the Rose Center for Earth and Space including the Hayden Planetarium, and the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. The Museum’s scientists draw on a world-class permanent collection of more than 34 million specimens and artifacts, some of which are billions of years old, and on one of the largest natural history libraries in the world.
American Museum of Natural History,200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, 212-769-5606.Visit amnh.org for more information.
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
Fans and superfans alike will be ecstatic to be immersed in the newly opened Harry Potter: The Exhibition, the most comprehensive touring exhibition ever presented on Harry Potter and the entire Wizarding World, is on view in Herald Square in midtown Manhattan but only for a limited time.
To call it an “exhibition” is an understatement. On every level – from the actual costumes, wands, props (the Sorting Hat! The Sword of Gryffindor! The Elder Wand! The Resurrection Stone!) from all the Harry Potter plus Fantastic Beasts™ movies and Broadway’s Tony-award winning Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – to the opportunity to compete for points for your House by casting a spell, preparing a potion, trying your hand at Quidditch, summoning your Patronus– you feel you are part of this magical world. The experience is completely personalized, individualized for you as you take this journey through magnificently crafted, magical environments with the aid of remarkable design and technology. It is truly immersive, truly interactive, truly experiential, truly enchanting.
Our visit starts with choosing a Hogwarts House (a photo is snapped of you in the sorting hat), a wand, a Patronus, all encoded in an RFID wristband that you use to log in at various stations to capture interactions and deliver an absolutely personalized experience, designed to not merely put you in the story, but put you into the films’ creation.
We are ushered into the From Page to Screen Gallery where a first edition of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is ensconced in a Gringotts-inspired vault. We are surrounded by inspirational video and literary quotes and enthusiastic guides introduce us “first years” to the exhibition – we feel the same sense of wonder and being new to Hogwarts as Harry, Ron and Hermione would have felt as first years.
We next move into the Hogwarts Castle Gallery featuring an immersive multimedia experience with the castle as a backdrop for iconic elements like the Whomping Willow and Dementors and see ourselves on the Marauder’s Map.
Walking through the Great Hall Gallery we get to see the same paintings as the students would see going into their House, and learn that filmmakers lined the walls with more than 200 paintings, some based on real art and some on subjects that included members of the film crew and their families. Production designer Stuart Craig, producer David Heyman, and property master Barry Wilkinson all are represented on the wall. Original pieces by studio artists often painted “in the style” of famous artists, representing the history of painting from Egypt to the Renaissance to the 20th century.
The Hogwarts Houses gallery allows us personalized moments with the Hogwarts house we selected during our registration (I selected Gryffindor) but we still get to experience noteworthy tidbits about all the Hogwarts houses and their important characters. The celebratory hall feature an iconic Sorting Hat (perfect for photo ops) and Sword of Gryffindor, and house crests on meticulously created stained glass windows. The notes give the history of the houses and important biographical notes, and we get to see costumes and artifacts from each of the houses, with backstory about the particular film or scene they appeared. I love learning about the costume designer’s thinking, the choices that were made, and how the actors reacted to their costume.
In a room devoted to the wands (Harry’s!), we learn that in the first film, they were very basic in construction but by the third film, the art designers personalized each one to the character, choosing special woods and carvings, but then the versions used for filming were made of resin for everyday and rubber for stunts (because they would break; Harry broke 50 of his wands). About the Elder Wand, the designers had no idea how important it would be when they fashioned it, so were grateful they had designed it with a distinctive appearance.
The Great Hall has some tables where we can sit, with the backdrop from the movie, and learn that the set designer made the floor of York stones that lasted through 10 years of onscreen Hogwarts students walking, running, dancing; there were four 100 ft custom-made tables that were distressed to suggest their longevity and the actors were encouraged to write and draw on the tables. In the first film, real candles were suspended from the ceiling but there were safety concerns, so they switched to digital and had five sizes of CGI candles coded for six varied flames so no two were the same.
Hogwarts Classrooms are filled with iconic props, creatures, and costumes. We get to interact with magical lessons and games through digital touchscreens to reveal behind-the-scenes secrets about iconic classroom moments. We even get to brew potions in the Potions Classroom (there’s a recipe book), predict the future in Divination, pot a mandrake in the Herbology Greenhouse, and use their digital wand to defeat a boggart in Defense Against the Dark Arts – all earning points for our House.
Hagrid’s Hut and The Forbidden Forest offer an interactive Patronus charm experience (I get to conjure up mine, a terrier). We then uncover iconic creatures, such as centaurs and Acromantula, hidden in the forest. Exploring inside a re-creation of Hagrid’s Hut, I find it interesting that to film Hagrid’s Hut scenes, they made two sets – one with furniture and all the furnishings to be in scale with half the Giant’s size, but everything oversized when seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione in the shot – and filmed each scene twice.
In the Tri Wizard tournament section, we learn that 35 costumes were created just for Harry (these included the before and after and costumes for doubles and stunt doubles) – we see the costume that was distressed to look like Harry had already fought the dragon and then get to see the enormous dragon (selfie! – in fact, so many Instagrammable scenes throughout).
In the Quidditch section (there’s an actual Golden Snitch!), we get to throw a Quaffle through a hoop to rack up points. We learn that filming was a grueling experience for the actors who had to straddle the brooms while suspended in air. But in the “Azkaban” film, they finally put foot pedals and bicycle seats on the broom and gave the actors extra padding for their behinds that would be concealed under their uniforms. The cinematographer made an effort to film as a live sport, with multiple moving camera angles and flying camera operator. (Chris Columbus wanted Quidditch to have the same flair and excitement of Muggle sports but needed a crash course in the rules from author J.K. Rowling before filming. Screenwriter Steve Kloves also consulted her and learned Quidditch had been partially inspired by her enjoyment of American basketball. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky wanted to give the Quidditch player uniforms both familiarity and timelessness – she was inspired by 19th century sports and combined fencing, cricket and polo wear.
I love learning about how the costumes, wands and such changed over the course of the different films, as the characters grew and matured, as mores changed, how the designers literally weave the character into the costume with subtle touches, textures, lines, and learning the actors’ reactions as well as their input – how Hermione loved to finally be wearing regular clothes and not only school robes by the later films, how Newt Scamander’s coat was inspired by the design for a Muggle coat but with the secret pockets common to magician’s coats, with a color palette of deep peacock, having the vibe of his creatures, in contrast to the brown and gray of the1920s outfits; 12 copies of his coat were created from material that designer Colleen Atwood had in storage for years.
As a superfan, I am particularly enthralled by the notes that accompany each of the rooms – like chapters in the book or scenes in the movie – that begin with putting you back into the story, but then adding on the fascinating creative backstory.
So we learn that when graphic designers Miraphorn Mina and Eduardo lima were tasked with creating four-walls-worth of a tapestry portraying Sirius Black’s family tree in number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, they knew the names of some of his relatives from the books, but needed many more to fill an entire room. So producer David Heyman called JK Rowling and asked if she could provide further information on the Noble 7 Most Ancient House of Black. Almost immediately, she sent back several pages with five generations of names indicating births, marriages and deaths, plus the family crest and motto.
Importantly, learning the backstory of how the effect was created doesn’t burst the bubble or the delight in the illusion that is film.
Tom Zaller, the CEO of Imagine Exhibitions that created the Harry Potter exhibition in partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery Global Themed Entertainment and EMC Presents, knows the importance of preserving the magic – his backstory includes a longtime association with the magician David Copperfield. His company, renowned for creating blockbuster exhibitions (Titanic, Jurassic World, Downtown Abbey, DaVinci), was approached by Warner Bros. to create this exhibition. (Imagine currently has 45 different exhibitions on view around the world, including a second World of Harry Potter Exhibition in Paris with different original elements, for example instead of Professor McGonagall’s robes in the Great Room, Paris has Dumbledore’s). All the original costumes, artifacts and props belong to Warner Bros. – Imagine created the sets, the immersive experiences, and the illuminating notes that explain the exhibits.
The Harry Potter:The Exhibition premiered in Philadelphia a year ago, then went to Atlanta, and has already drawn one million visitors in the two venues, and will continue to tour after leaving New York City.
After using the portkey to travel to the Ministry of Magic, I find Zaller sitting behind Dolores Umbridge’s desk. I ask how the notes were made – they have so much information yet are so concise; they put you into the story, but then give you the creative backstory. He tells me they worked closely with Warner Bros. and the people who worked on the film, the play and the themepark. “We went behind the scenes to learn why choices were made.”
Zaller, who has been producing block buster exhibitions for decades, says, “This is the biggest, baddest, most wonderful… We try to satisfy the fan and the super fan.”
I confess my thrill at seeing the actual Sorting Hat, the actual sword of Gryffindor, the actual Golden Snitch, the actual Elder Wand, the actual Resurrection Stone, mixing a potion, throwing a Quaffle, conjuring up my Patronus (10 points for Gryffindor!), and being in the places in three-dimension, that you either imagine in your mind from the books, or see on film.
The exhibit is well set up for the numbers of people who will be coming through – many stations for photos, wands, spells, divination, potions, repotting the howling mandrakes (which turns out to have been a real thing that jk Rowling incorporated, among the other real spells and magic traditions, like the Sorcerer’s stone).
Clever use of video (film), sound effects, even smells, and thank goodness the musical score of the films is so marvelous, because musical segments provide the soundtrack in each of the areas (and smartly the sound tracks do not overreach)
We get to see the Voldemort’s horcruxes – Tom Riddle’s diary and the Basilisk fang used to destroy the diary in “Chamber of Secrets”, Hufflepuff’s Cup, Ravenclaw’s diadem, , the iconic Resurrection stone, …., Deatheater’s cloak, even the invisibility cloak (spoiler alert: it’s invisible), Dumbledore’s Elder Wand,
You even get to fight the final battle of Hogwarts, activating the wands held by Harry and Voldemort (choose who you want to be).
Here’s a challenge: think of something you would most like to see and see if it isn’t in the exhibit.
It is so much fun – during our press preview visit, superfans went through with their Hogwarts robes, really getting into the spirit. And so many selfie and Instagram opportunities!
At the end, you can purchase print and digital photos of your experience and visit the gift shop where you can find an exclusive collection of Harry Potter: The Exhibition merchandise – apparel, jewelry, and edible treats, including fan-favorite Chocolate Frogs and bottled Butterbeer, as well as merchandise not available at any other Wizarding World experience.
It’s supposed to take 60 to 90 minutes to go through, but I love reading the notes and studying the objects so much, I spend over two hours.
See it here in New York, then go see it in Paris.
Harry Potter™: The Exhibition has transformed its space at 50 W. 34th Street (34th Street and Broadway), easily accessible from Penn Station, Port Authority and many subway stations. Tickets (for timed entry, but you can stay as long as you want) start at $29 for adults. The exhibition also offers a VIP ticket experiences with a flex schedule, commemorative lanyard, free access to the Harry Potter: The Exhibition Audio Guide and a $10 credit to spend in the retail store. A full schedule of dates and times to visit Harry Potter™: The Exhibition can be found at www.harrypotterexhibition.com. Fans are encouraged to follow Harry Potter: The Exhibition on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. #HarryPotterExhibition
There are actual top hat and dance shoes from A Chorus Line. You step into Doc’s drugstore from West Side Story. See costumes from Phantom of the Opera. There are scores of artifacts, music sheets, props, director notes, rehearsal photos. You see the original Playbills of iconic shows and theater posters going back to the very beginning of American (that is New York and ultimately Broadway) theater. And then you go “backstage” to see how all the creative and technical processes all come together, that speaks to you not so much as star-struck audience member but as a person yearning to be in theater. “Hey gang, let’s put on a show!”
This is the Museum of Broadway, newly opened in November, 2022.
Rather than burst any star-studied illusions or theater magic, this opportunity to go behind the curtain is tremendously exciting – you get to see (and appreciate) what goes into such show-stoppers, cultural icons as Show Boat, Oklahoma, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Company, Rent, A Chorus Line, Lion King, The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Hamilton, several offering immersive experiences.
In all (believe it or not), the Museum limelights more than 500 individual productions from the 1700s to what is on stage now.
And you get insights into such theater luminaries as Ziegfeld, Sondheim, Webber, Fosse. You come away even more awestruck and under theater’s spell than when you entered.
The Museum features work from Emmy Award winning illustrator I. Javier Ameijeiras (Rent Live!), neon artist Dani B, Tony Award nominated dancer Robert Fairchild (An American in Paris, former NYCB principal), Drama Desk Award winning scenic designer David Korins (Hamilton, Beetlejuice), choreographer Julio Monge (West Side Story), and dancer Tanairi Vazquez (West Side Story, Hamilton). (Find a full list of the artists featured in the Museum at https://www.themuseumofbroadway.com/artists)
The Museum of Broadway is an immersive and interactive theatrical experience devoted to musicals, plays, and the people who make them. Featuring the work of dozens of designers, artists, and theatre historians, you are taken on a journey along the timeline of Broadway, from its birth to present day.
You travel through a visual history of Broadway, highlighting groundbreaking moments in a series of exhibits that showcase – and show off – dazzling costumes, props, renderings, rare photos, videos, artifacts, awards. Stops along the way highlight the pivotal shows or “game changers” that transformed the landscape of Broadway – the moments that pushed creative boundaries, challenged social norms, and paved the way for those who would follow.
Your visit to the Museum of Broadway starts back stage (actually on the back stairs of the building, next door to historic Lyceum theater), with sound effects, photos, that show how typical it would be for the Broadway performers to use the back stairs for warm ups.
Walk up three flights, where you hear “warm-ups” as you climb the stairs and go past rooms to show where hair, make-up would have been (performers are taught how to apply their own); the dressing rooms (one labeled “dressing room” is actually the bathroom) and get introduced to the traditions (even superstitions) of Broadway performers. (There is an elevator for those who cannot climb the stairs.)
You are brought into a waiting room before the introductory video – showcasing the Playbills and synopsis of shows currently on Broadway (can point to a QR code and purchase tickets right there), as the music for “Company” plays.
Then you are taken into a small screening room to see a video packing 250 years of history of New York theater into just four minutes. (It is surprising to learn the first actual public performance was in 1732 at the Playhouse, way downtown.)
New York Theater at first was centered in lower Manhattan – where Financial District and Chinatown are today, then, as rents moved up, theaters moved uptown along Broadway to Union Square, Herald Square and finally to Times Square (renamed for the New York Times newspaper, which took up residence in 1904).
Oscar Hammerstein I (grandfather of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II) was instrumental in opening a number of theater houses, beginning 1895 with the Olympia; the Schubert Brothers (Sam, Lee and JJ) soon followed, becoming a major powerhouse among theater owners.
Times Square became known as the Great White Way because of the lamps and electric white lights on marquees.
The Great Depression hit the theater industry hard – many theaters were converted to other purposes. But the end of World War II led to a Golden Age of Broadway, and Jujamcyn and Nederlander emerged as theater behemoths. Then, with the decline of New York City in the 1960s – crime, deteriorating condition – theaters were empty.
The city was desperate to revitalize the Times Square area and allowed the Marriott Marquis to build its new hotel (with a theater inside) to spur a renaissance. But that resulted in the destruction of five Broadway theaters – the so-called “Great Theater Massacre” of 1982. The outcry led to a new landmark preservation law to protect Broadway theaters.
The revitalization really was spurred in the mid-1990s, when Disney signed a 99-year lease for the New Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street and the city cleaned up Times Square. Broadway was back and “family friendly”, to the point there was a waiting list for incoming shows.
Then COVID hit in March 2020, shutting down the theaters -“the heartbeat of the city” – for 18 months, the longest period in theater history. Since Broadway is one of the top reasons visitors come to the city, and one of its top revenue-makers as well as employers, shutting down theater took its toll on the city’s finances.
After the video (I sit through it twice), you are brought into a sequence of rooms in a Timeline, showcasing the people and key productions – plays and musicals – that shaped the past, present and point to the future of Broadway theater.
The first panels are really interesting, featuring posters of plays starring Edwin and John Wilkes Booth, and (ironically) a production of “An American Cousin,” starring Laura Keene at the New American Theater in March 3, 1859 – the play Abraham Lincoln was watching at Ford Theater in Washington DC when John Wilkes Booth assassinated him. There is also, an interesting discussion of censorship – when Olga Nethersole, who played Sapho, was arrested for corrupting public morals (indecency). The scandal, first unleashed by the producer to generate audience interest and then played up by newspapers to sell papers (Yellow Journalism), backfired on the show, which though actually quite tame, was censored, but Nethersole was ultimately acquitted.
The panels also highlight the contribution and breakthroughs of Black Americans in American theater and breakthroughs by women. But it is odd that the contribution by Jewish creators is hardly a footnote, while incorporating photos and hard-to-read photo captions of the Marx Brothers, Irving Berlin, showcasing Showboat without mentioning Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern, and Porgy and Bess without bothering to mention the Gershwins who wrote them.
The influence of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Kurt Weill, Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, Jule Styne is undeniable throughout the museum because of the productions that are highlighted, but unremarked. The only mention of Yiddish Theater comes in a tiny reference in a panel for a 1990 show, “Those Were the Days”) (For this part of history, see “Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy” from Great Performances on pbs.org (https://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/broadway-musicals-a-jewish-legacy-about-the-film/1476/)
There is a showcase of Ziegfeld Follies, as if you are in the (very pink and feathery) dressing room, with stunning costumes. There’s a photo but much information about Fanny Brice and a photo of Irving Berlin at the piano, but the notes emphasize how Ziegfeld reacted “when a few Follies cast members complained about sharing the stage with Black comedian Bert Williams, Ziegfeld’s reply was ‘The stage door is that way. I can do this show without any of you, but I cannot do it without Bert.’ And that was that.”
There is a whole set up for Showboat and how the musical changed the course of theater, redirecting the emphasis from the heavy operettas and the superficial music comedies which had dominated Broadway, providing complex, realistic characters, and integrating music and plot (but only passing mention of lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II and composer Jerome Kern who wrote the breakthrough musical based on Edna Ferber’s 1926 novel).
Hammerstein lambasted racial prejudice again in South Pacific:
You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear/You’ve got to be taught from year to year/It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear/You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid/Of people whose eyes are oddly made/And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade/You’ve got to be carefully taught.
It isn’t until the 1990s panel that there is any mention of Yiddish Theater – arguably the progenitor if not the incubator of Broadway theater – when we learn that “Those Were the Days” in 1990 brought “the Shteltl” and “The Music Hall” to Broadway in an intimate two-part review performed in both English and Yiddish. “The show evokes a period,” director Eleanor Reissa explained. “Created by Zalmen Mlotek and Moishe Rosenfeld, the musical honored the legacy of a vibrant and influential Yiddish stage that flourished on New York’s Lower East Side in the late 1800s and early 1900s. One of the district’s most formidable figures was Boris Thomashefsky, who opened a Yiddish theater on Broadway in 1923.”
A room is devoted to the coveted Tony Awards and its namesake, Antoinette Perry, an actress, director, producer, and the dynamic wartime leader of the American Theatre Wing who had recently passed away when The Tony Awards made their official debut at a dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947.
You walk through rooms devoted to Oklahoma and a set for Doc’s drugstore in the homage to “West Side Story” (there’s a Jets jacket on display as well). A small room crams together Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly, Neil Simon’s comedies before getting to the rock musicals – Jesus Christ Superstar – that led a new era on the Broadway stage.
Thankfully, a major exhibit is devoted to Sondheim and you walk through what appears to be the set for Company.
The Wiz, we learn, got bad reviews, but the audience gave it a standing ovation and four curtain calls (the musical used a new marketing strategy of television commercials) – and you ease down yellow stairs.
A Chorus Line – one of the longest-running shows and the first to use computerized light board – features original costumes, marvelous 8×10 photos of the cast, plus I loved seeing original creative notes.
(There is so much information crammed into a small space and the captions and notes are so small and hard to read (bring glasses), but you are encouraged to download an app where you can listen or read the notes.)
Then you come to Phantom of the Opera – with some sensational costumes (from 1986) and artifacts from the show. Phantom is now the longest-running production in Broadway history (it was scheduled to close in 2023, when a new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, “Bad Cinderella” is due to open). Among Phantom’s plaudits: it is the largest generator of money and jobs in Broadway history and has been seen by 19.5 million people over 35 years. There is an amazing chandelier made of 13,917 glass beads – for the number of Broadway performances – and if you look at it to an angle, the Phantom’s mask emerges.
Along the way, staff people offer their own anecdotes or point you to artifacts or parts of the exhibit you might not have seen. And there are various interactive and videos, as Broadway tunes play in each exhibit.
The setting for “Rent” was designed for the museum by the original set designer. I love seeing some of the innovative props/costumes that turn human actors into animals for Lion King. You walk through the “office” for Producers” (a Tony is in the bookcase), costumes from Hamilton, and there is a whole line of costumes representing the shows currently playing.
Then you go down the stairs to the first floor where you are really treated to the back-stage, “let’s put on a show” tutorial.
This part of the Museum celebrates the behind-the-scenes of this dazzling American art form with a special exhibit, “The Making of a Broadway Show,” justifiably honoring the entirety of the community of brilliantly talented professionals – both onstage and off – who bring Broadway plays and musicals to life every night.
This section features multiple videos of directors of lighting, sound, music, as well as costumers and set designers discussing their craft. (Here, they should have given way more space and separated the sections of the exhibit better because the videos and sound overlap – even three and four at once – and the room is dark.)
But if you put in some effort – and time – you are treated to absolutely fascinating information about producing, designing the music, the lights, the sound, costumes (and tricks of “distressing” costumes), direction, choreography. This whole section – most of an entire floor – is a goldmine for anyone who harbors any interest in pursuing a career in theater production. There are even time sheets for what a costumer’s day is like, and a timeline from conception to opening night of a production.
At the end, I follow an arrow and found myself in a fantastic exhibit of Al Hirschfeld – the extraordinary cartoonist/caricaturist who was synonymous with every Broadway opening. We see many of his illustrations – from newspapers, posters, the originals, and I love the display of his sketchbooks that give a glimpse into his creative process – and learn about the origin of his iconic “Nina” embedded into his illustration (that became an obsession, much like Wordle is today, for New York Times readers). There is even a photo of him with his daughter, Nina, and a caricature of Nina, herself.
The Museum of Broadway is founded by entrepreneur and two-time Tony Award-winning producer Julie Boardman and founder of the award-winning experiential agency, Rubik Marketing,Diane Nicoletti. Elie Landauis the general manager.
The team of expert curators for The Museum of Broadway is headed by Ben West (Resident Historian and Curator, Timeline & Special Exhibits) and includes Jennifer Ashley Tepper (Curator, Historical Buildings), John Kenrick (Curator, Game Changer History), Faye Armon-Troncoso (Set Decorator & Props Supervisor, Making of a Broadway Show), Lisa Zinni (Costume & Props Curator) and Michael McDonald (Historical Assets Manager).
The Museum of Broadway is founded in collaboration with Playbill, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Billy Rose Theatre Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, The Al Hirschfeld Foundation, Goodspeed Musicals, Creative Goods, and Concord Theatricals.
There is so much to delight anyone who enjoys, appreciates theater – you don’t have to be an avid theatergoer or aficionado or maven.
The artifacts, costumes, inside (backstage) info, and insights throughout the Museum of Broadway are fabulous. You need at least two to three hours to go through. And bring reading eyeglasses or magnifying glass to read the tiny captions and notes. Open 7 days a week, 10 am – 10 pm.
Indeed, the Museum of Broadway seems to be very much a hit – the museum had a steady stream of visitors.
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
Santa has arrived on his sleigh to close out the 96th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The tree is alight at Rockefeller Center. Saks has its sound-and-light show and decorated windows. Macy’s and Bergdorf Goodman have their windows decorated. People flock into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, stop to hear a choral concert at St. Thomas. Cartier and Tiffany’s come gift wrapped. Fifth Avenue is decked out for the holiday. It’s Christmas time in the city. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy the city:
As one of the most iconic holiday destinations in the world, New York City once again hosts a potpourri of festive experiences, attractions and events across dining, shopping, culture and entertainment throughout the five boros.
Over the past few years, Bryant Park has emerged as the quintessential holiday destination in New York City – crammed with the most picturesque holiday market (actually marvelous items) in the city, a skating rink (free skating; skate rentals available) below a Christmas tree, an enchanting carousel, lovely eateries and snack places. It is the synthesis of the holiday.
A Christmas Carol, a one-man show on Broadway, Nov. 21–Jan. 1. In this astonishing Broadway adaptation, Tony Award–winning actor Jefferson Mays tackles more than 50 roles in this season’s limited run of A Christmas Carol at the Nederlander Theatre. The beloved Dickens story featuring notable characters—Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the four ghosts—is making its return for the first time since 2019 and will enchant theatergoers with its redemptive story.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker Presented by New York City Ballet, Nov. 25–Dec. 31 at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center returns for its annual performance featuring exquisite costumes, magnificent sets and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score that transports audiences to a land of twirling snowflakes, leaping candy canes, waltzing flowers and more. On November 27, TDF Autism Friendly Performances will present the first-ever Autism-Friendly Performance of New York City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center, Nov. 30–Dec. 24, returns to New York City Center for a season that has become a joyous winter tradition. Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Ailey’s extraordinary dancers will move audiences with world and company premieres by Kyle Abraham, Jamar Roberts, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. In addition to repertory favorites, founder Alvin Ailey’s choreography is spotlighted with a new production of Survivors and the staging of over a half dozen classic works, including the must-see American masterpiece Revelations.
The Magic Flute Holiday Presentation at The Met Opera, Dec. 16–Jan. 6. The Met Opera’s abridged, English-language version of Mozart’s magical fairy tale is a classic holiday treat for audiences of all ages, bringing the charming story and enchanting music to life. This year’s series features Maestro Duncan Ward, making his company debut conducting Julie Taymor’s irresistible production.
The Seaport’s NYC Celebrations, throughout the holidays, Lower Manhattan. The historic cobblestone streets of The Seaport and Pier 17 turn into a festive holiday destination, with decorations throughout the district. Hanukkah Menorah Lighting on Dec. 18.
SPECTACULAR FACTORY: The Holiday Multiverse at ARTECHOUSE, through Jan. 8, Chelsea, Manhattan. ARTECHOUSE, a pioneer in innovation digital and experiential art, presents an immersive and enchanting holiday art experience. Guests are immersed into a multiverse of holiday villages, float among giant swinging jingle bells, crash the party of a thousand nutcrackers, join a thrilling train ride through wreaths, take a spin in the candy cane carousel.
Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Garden, through Jan.16, Bedford Park, Bronx, a favorite holiday tradition for over 30 years. See model trains zip through an enchanting display of more than 190 replicas of New York City landmarks, each delightfully re-created from natural materials such as birch bark, lotus pods and cinnamon sticks.
Fifth Avenue Presents: The Fifth Season and Brand-New Open Streets, Midtown Manhattan. Fifth Avenue’s holiday celebration, Returning for its second year, enjoy the iconic holiday windows and breathtaking decorations. New this season is Open Streets, when Fifth Avenue will be closed to all vehicular traffic, and open the sidewalks to a variety of food vendors and musical performers from local choirs and instrumental ensembles.
Shine Bright Only at Hudson Yards, throughout the holidays, Hudson Yards, Manhattan. Featuring over 2 million twinkling lights, Shine Bright Only at Hudson Yards, presented by Wells Fargo, adorns the neighborhood with 115-miles of string lights, 725 evergreen trees dressed and 16-foot-tall illuminated set pieces in the shape of hot air balloons arranged through the Public Square and Gardens with a 32-foot hot air balloon centerpiece suspended in The Great Room of The Shops and Restaurants.
Lightscape at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Nov. 16–Jan. 8, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Explore the garden after dark at the illuminated Lightscape, celebrating the beauty of nature with an enchanting one-mile trail through BBG’s 52-acre landscape. Sold out in its first season, this year’s after-dark, illuminated spectacular features new works of art alongside returning favorites. Enjoy the Winter Cathedral tunnel, Fire Garden and Sea of Light, as well as new site-specific light works by local artists, accompanied by a curated soundtrack.
Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights, Nov. 18–Jan. 8, Bronx Park, The Bronx. With more than 360 lanterns representing nearly 90 animal and plant species, Bronx Zoo’s family-centric holiday lights festival will connect visitors with real wildlife and wild places. During the evenings, the park comes to life with holiday cheer as immersive light displays, custom-designed animal lanterns (with some life-size, some larger-than-life-size) and animated light shows sparkle across the zoo. The celebration is complete with seasonal treats, classic holiday music and other festive entertainment. The beloved tradition is sure to enchant visitors of all ages, making it the perfect way to kick off the holidays this year.
NYBG GLOW, Select dates from November 18–January 14, Bedford Park, The Bronx. Discover the beauty of New York Botanical Garden through NYBG GLOW, which will illuminate the garden’s landmark landscape and historic buildings after dark with a newly expanded 1.5-mile colorful experience. Building upon sold-out evenings the past two years, the event is expanded across more of the garden’s collections.
Amaze Light Festival at Citi Field, Select dates from Nov. 20–Jan. 8, Flushing, Queens. Guests are greeted by the lovable characters Zing and Sparky from the Amaze storybook, who bring the stage dancers, singers and light show to life with their magic powers. Visit the holiday market and grab a treat at Sparky’s Sweet Spot. Enjoy culinary treats, specialty drinks and cocktails. Zip down Zing’s icy Thrill Hill, take in the wonder on a train ride, and write a letter to Santa.
NYC Winter Lantern Festival: Journey to the East, Oct. 21–Jan. 8, St. George, Staten Island. The NYC Winter Lantern Festival is back for its fourth year to transform a new venue, SIUH Community Park in Staten Island, into an immersive world of light. Enjoy over eight acres of luminescence, live DJ, projection mapping, food vendors.
Christmas Lights Tour of Dyker Heightsfrom A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, Dec. 1–31 (except 24 & 25), Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Experience the extravagant Christmas light displays in Dyker Heights, also known as “Dyker Lights.” This guided bus tour, departing from Manhattan, offers visitors a special experience to view the uniquely decorated homes, learn about the history and stories of the neighborhood tradition.
ICE-SKATING, OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES:
The Rink at Rockefeller Center, Skate under the iconic Christmas tree, a quintessential NYC experience on the world-famous rink. In collaboration with Coach, Rockefeller Center will unveil this year’s activations, including a bespoke holiday gift shop, custom hospitality cart serving special treats, and live onsite patch customization for a curated line of Coach products. Santa will join visitors on the ice in December.
The Rink at Bryant Park, Midtown Manhattan. Enjoy NYC’s free 17,000-square-foot outdoor ice-skating rink at Bryant Park’s Winter Village. Visitors can also enjoy the Holiday Shops, free shows, events, activities, and eats and drinks at The Lodge.
Wollman Rink in Central Park, Midtown Manhattan. Enjoy skating in Central Park with the picturesque Manhattan skyline in the background. This year, Wollman Rink is partnering with Culture Pass.
Classic Harbor Line Holiday-Themed Cruises, Manhattan. Enjoy four-course holiday brunch cruises, a Cocoa and Carols cruise and more holiday themes, while sailing across the East and Hudson Rivers with views of the NYC skyline and Lady Liberty.
City Cruises Holiday-Themed Cruises, Manhattan. Enjoy a NYC dining cruise (available Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s) featuring festive decor, meals and stunning views of the City while sailing across the East and Hudson Rivers from the glass-enclosed deck.
Shop at Grand Central Terminal, through Dec. 24, Midtown Manhattan. Grand Central Terminal welcomes back its famous indoor Holiday Fair to the splendor of Vanderbilt Hall after a two-year hiatus. The Grand Central Holiday Fair is one of New York City’s most coveted attractions, welcoming thousands of locals, commuters and visitors for a curated holiday shopping and gifting experience. This year’s event features 36 vendors, including Ekologic, Garden of Silver and Rebel Designs.
Union Square Holiday Market, throughDec. 24, Union Square, Manhattan. Urbanspace’s longest running holiday market returns with over 160 vendors featuring unique gifts created by local craftsmen, artists and entrepreneurs.
Brooklyn Flea Holiday Market, Sundays, through Dec. 24, Dumbo, Brooklyn. Come to Pearl Street for Dumbo’s iconic Brooklyn Flea Holiday Market. One of the borough’s most popular attractions, shoppers support local vendors and cross off holiday shopping with vintage and antique items, crafts and gourmet food stands.
Columbus Circle Holiday Market, through Dec. 24, Upper West Side, Manhattan. Known as one of the most elegant places for holiday shopping, visitors will lose themselves in aisles of art, jewelry, home goods and delicious eats from local artisans and designers, with the backdrop of NYC’s iconic Central Park.
New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Drop, Times Square, Manhattan: The Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball will sparkle in Times Square all season, but watching its descent in person on New Year’s Eve is a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime way to ring in the New Year. Guests can also stop by the New Year’s Eve Confetti Wishing Wall from December 1 on to submit (in person and online herefor nye wishing wall) a wish for the New Year on a piece of official NYE confetti that will be dropped at midnight as the ball drops.
NYRR Midnight Run in Central Park, Midtown Manhattan: Start the new year off on the right—and left—foot at the NYRR Midnight Run. Join the fun and celebrate as 2022 comes to a close; the countdown to 2023 begins at 11:59pm, and at the stroke of midnight, a fireworks display will light up the night sky and kick off the start of the 4-mile race.
Coney Island Polar Plunge, January 1, Coney Island, Brooklyn: Each year on January 1, members of the Polar Bear Club and anyone else brave enough to participate venture into the frigid waters at Coney Island. Watch hundreds of daring souls plunge into the Atlantic Ocean, where the temperature of the water hovers right above 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the air temperature can be well below freezing. The event is free, but in lieu of admission, participants are encouraged to donate to community organizations.
New-York Historical Society’s exhibition “I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli, is a fascinating exploration of the rich history of the Jewish immigrant experience that made the delicatessen so integral to New York and American culture. On view through April 2, 2023, the mouth-watering and culturally significant exhibition, organized by the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles (where it is on view through September 18), examines how Jewish immigrants, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe, imported and adapted traditions to create a cuisine that became a cornerstone of popular culture with worldwide influence.
The exhibition explores the food of immigrants; the heyday of the deli in the interwar period; delis in the New York Theater District; stories of Holocaust survivors and war refugees who found community in delis; the shifting and shrinking landscapes of delis across the country; and delis in popular culture. You get to see iconic neon signs, menus, advertisements, and deli workers’ uniforms alongside film clips depicting delis in popular culture and video documentaries.
Some 2 million Jews came from Eastern and Central Europe to the United States between 1880 and 1924, when nativist anti-immigrant furor shut down immigration (there is a display showing some of the anti-immigrant propaganda). New York was a stopover but also a destination for millions and they brought with them their food culture, which, of necessity, was adapted.
“Why make a museum show out of the Jewish deli – which is a specific and unusual topic? The ‘deli’ allowed us to explore themes of how people of different backgrounds relate to one another” in such a melting pot as New York, said Laura Mart, one of the curators. “It shows how Jewish-American culture was created and maintained through generations. And it is also about joy, more important than ever. Museums are a place for joyful learning.”
“It’s a story of tradition and change, adaptation and resilience,” said Lara Rabinovitch.
“It’s our great pleasure to present an exhibition on a topic so near and dear to the hearts of New Yorkers of all backgrounds,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical. ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’: The Jewish Deli tells a deeply moving story about the American experience of immigration—how immigrants adapted their cuisine to create a new culture that both retained and transcended their own traditions. I hope visitors come away with a newfound appreciation for the Jewish deli, and, with it, the story of the United States.”
“Whether you grew up eating matzo ball soup or are learning about lox for the first time, this exhibition demonstrates how Jewish food became a cultural touchstone, familiar to Americans across ethnic backgrounds,” said co-curators Cate Thurston and Laura Mart. “This exhibition reveals facets of the lives of Central and Eastern European Jewish immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that echo in contemporary immigrant experiences. It shows how people adapt and transform their own cultural traditions over time, resulting in a living style of cooking, eating, and sharing community that is at once deeply rooted in their own heritage and continuously changing.”
I’ll Have What She’s Having is co-curated by Skirball curators Cate Thurston and Laura Mart along with Lara Rabinovitch, renowned writer, producer, and specialist in immigrant food cultures. It is coordinated at New-York Historical by Cristian Petru Panaite, curator of exhibitions. The exhibition explores topics including deli culture, the proliferation of delis alongside the expansion of New York’s Jewish communities, kosher meat manufacturing, shortages during World War II, and advertising campaigns that helped popularize Jewish foods throughout the city.
As is typical of New-York Historical’s exhibits, expanded presentation from its own collection and local twist includes additional artwork, artifacts, photographs of local establishments, and objects from deli owners, as well as costumes from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a mouthwatering interactive, and a Bloomberg Connects audio tour.
Highlights include a letter in New-York Historical’s Patricia D. Klingenstein Library collection from a soldier fighting in Italy during World War II writing to his fiancée that he “had some tasty Jewish dishes just like home” thanks to the salami his mother had sent—confirmation of the success of a famous “Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army” campaign. (Panaite painstakingly poured over a huge collection of World War II letters, one by one, to find it.)
There are photos of politicians and other notable figures eating and campaigning in delis, including then-US Senate candidate Hillary Clinton at Ben’s delicatessen in Greenvale, Long Island. Movie clips and film stills include the iconic scene in Nora Ephron’s romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally…, which inspired the exhibition title. This and other movie scenes underscore the prominent role of Jewish delis in American popular culture.
Special to New-York Historical’s presentation is a closer look at the expansion of Jewish communities at the turn of the 20th century, not just on the Lower East Side but also in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. In the 1930s, some 3,000 delis operated in the city; today, only about a dozen remain.
The exhibition gives special attention to dairy restaurants, which offered a safe meatless eating experience; a portion of the neon sign from the Famous Dairy Restaurant on the Upper West Side is on display. Salvaged artifacts, like the 2nd Avenue Delicatessen storefront sign and vintage meat slicers and scales from other delis, are also on view, along with costumes by Emmy Award-winning costume designer Donna Zakowska from the popular Prime Video series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Visitors are invited to build their own sandwiches named after celebrities, such as Milton Berle, Sophie Tucker, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman, and Sammy Davis Jr., in a digital interactive inspired by menu items from Reuben’s Deli and Stage Deli (the menus are on display).
On the Bloomberg Connects app, exhibition goers can enjoy popular songs like “Hot Dogs and Knishes” from the 1920s, along with clips of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia discussing kosher meat pricing, 1950s radio ads, and interviews with deli owners forced to close during the pandemic lockdown.
It’s a trip down memory lane for so many of us native New Yorkers – with the neon signs from popular delis and suppliers (Hebrew National), menus (there is one from Reubens, the home of the Reubens sandwich, which was a very popular venue for my family).
The roots for Jewish Deli cuisine were the fermentation, the types of foods, the technology of food, that originated in Europe, but the hallmarks of the Jewish Deli culture go beyond the food – to the booths, the waiters, the zeitgeist of the deli. We learn that that ambiance evolved – first from pushcarts on the streets of the Lower East Side (street food), to stools, to counter-style take-away shops, to finally having seating in full-fledged restaurants.
Case in point: Joel Russ founded his appetizing store out of a barrel in 1907 in Manhattan. He moved up to selling herring and other salt-cured and smoked fish out of a pushcart and finally opened a brick-and-mortar store in 1914.His daughters, Hattie, Ida, and Anne, worked in the store from the time they were 11 and 12. In 1935, he renamed the store Russ & Daughters, and are known as the “Sturgeon Queens.”
The delis introduced Americans to borscht (Slavic), gefilte fish, kishke (Slavic), vereniki (Ukrainian), kasha varnishkes (Russian), herring and chopped liver (“What am I, chopped liver?”). Also latkes (Ashkenazi), blintzes, knishes, rugelach and babka. Cheesecake is actually an American innovation.
Interestingly, the rise of industrial food processing and cattle production (which mass produced beef and discouraged pork consumption) actually increased the desirability of Kosher food – certified as meeting religious standards, hence the Hebrew National slogan, “We answer to a higher authority.”
Jewish entrepreneurs in Chicago capitalized on the opportunity to produce kosher beef, but ultimately, what became the Jewish Delicatessen was American.
“Meat was expensive in Europe. Jews couldn’t own land and meat was a luxury. But in the United States, meat became central to deli food.” At first, there was strict separation between deli restaurants like Katz’ and dairy restaurants, like Ratner’s – because Koshruth forbids the mixing of meat and milk – but over time, and with assimilation, even delis would offer items like cheesecake as dessert after a corned beef sandwich.
We learn about the Vienna Beef factory, founded in 1893 by Jewish Austro-Hungarian immigrants Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany. They first sold frankfurters at the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition in Chicago, then expanded to include Vienna sausages, pastrami, corned beef and salami.
Katz’s Delicatessen, likely the oldest continuously operating deli in the US, was founded in 1888 by two brothers named Iceland. The Katz family became business partners and by 1917, bought out the brothers. At a time when most deli food was being sold from carts and barrels on the street, Katz’s was a brick-and-mortar delicatessen.
In 1916 on Coney Island, Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker began building his empire by selling franks for five cents and undercutting his competition, Feltman’s.
And then there is this intrigue: fraud and corruption became pervasive in the kosher meat industry. In 1925, an estimated 40 percent of meat sold as “kosher” was non-kosher. In 1933, the NYC Department of Health and US Department of Agriculture raided Jacob Branfman & Son, one of the city’s main kosher delicatessen manufacturers, and seized over 1,400 pounds of nonkosher beef briskets. The owner was sentenced to 30 days in the infamous city workhouse.
During World War II, Jewish delis promoted a campaign to “Senda Salami to Your Boy in the Army” (the slogan was developed by Sixth Avenue Delicatessen waiter Louis Schwartz) and used by delis including Katz’s. The slogan became so popular that comedian Jerry Lewis used it in the film, “At War with the Army” (1950).
Louis G. Schwartz, aka “Louie the Waiter,” helped raise more than $9 million in war bonds – that paid for 66 P-47 Thunderbolt fighter planes, each which bore the moniker, “Louie the Waiter.” Schwartz developed a rhyme to inspire patrons to buy the bonds, “you’ll buy war bonds sooner or later, so get them from Louis the Waiter!”
Most interesting is to learn about some of the people who found refuge in the delis – as owners or workers. Paula Weissman, born in present-day Ukraine, survived Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. She arrived in New York in 1948 with two dollars. After working in a Brooklyn girdle factory, she was hired as a temporary waitress at Fine & Schapiro Kosher Delicatessen on West 72nd Street. The 7-day temp job turned into 30 years.”In her black uniform and white shoes, Paula took the orders of Zero Mostel, Molly Picon, Rita Moreno and many other Broadway stars.”
Rena Drexler was liberated from Auschwitz in 1945 and moved to Munich, Germany, where she and her husband, Harry, began their new lives working in a deli. The couple moved to Los Angeles in 1951 and opened Drexler’s Deli on Burbank Boulevard in 1957, selling kosher meals and products for the Orthodox Jews who settled in the neighborhood.
The original owner of the Second Avenue Deli, Abe Lebewohl, was a Holocaust refugee. Upon arriving in America and not even speaking the language, he took his first job in a Coney Island deli as a soda jerk, graduating to counterman and over the next few years, learning the secrets of superb pastrami and other traditional Jewish delicacies. In 1954, with a few thousand dollars he managed to set aside, Abe took over a tiny 10-seat luncheonette on East Tenth Street—the nucleus of the 2nd Ave Deli. Working around the clock for years—often filling in as cook, counterman, waiter, and even busboy—he put all his time and energy into making a success of his tiny establishment. “He never turned anyone away for lack of funds, he fed striking workers, homeless.” In 1996, he was robbed and murdered when making a bank deposit; the case unsolved.
In a nostalgic tribute to departed delis that continue to hold a place in the hearts of many New Yorkers, photographs show restaurants that closed in recent years. Eateries include the Upper West Side’s Fine & Schapiro Kosher Delicatessen, Jay & Lloyd’s Kosher Delicatessen in Brooklyn, and Loeser’s Kosher Deli in the Bronx. An exuberant hot dog-shaped sign from Jay & Lloyds Delicatessen, which closed in May 2020, and folk artist Harry Glaubach’s monumental carved and painted signage for Ben’s Best Kosher Delicatessen in Queens, also pay tribute to beloved establishments. The exhibition concludes on a hopeful note, highlighting new delis that have opened their doors in the past decade, such as Mile End and Frankel’s, both in Brooklyn, and USA Brooklyn Delicatessen, located steps from the site of the former Carnegie and Stage Delis in Manhattan.
Ben’s, still a force on Long Island and Manhattan is illustrative of the changes in the Jewish Deli that followed changes in the lives of American Jews. To be blunt, in the mid-20th century, restrictive covenants that barred Jews (and Blacks) from living in certain neighborhoods were lifted, and American Jews were flocking to the suburbs. The delis followed.
What I found fascinating was that the Jewish deli grew up as the American industrialized cattle industry grew – displacing home-grown pork – making beef plentiful and giving rise to the sky-high thick pastrami and corned beef sandwiches that would never have been available to Jews in their European shtetls, where meat would have been a cherished rarity.
The exhibit ponders how it was, why it was that Jewish deli became so much a part of American pop culture.
“There is no definitive answer as to why the deli has inspired generations of Jewish filmmakers, comedians, musicians and writers. Perhaps it is because so many Jewish creatives got their start in New York City, where they frequented Jewish delis and later infused these experiences into their work. Or maybe it is because the Jewish deli is one of the most public secular environments in Jewish American life. It is a place where characters can demonstrate or celebrate their Jewish identity outside of private or religious spheres. Whatever the reason, the deli continues to have significant influence on Jewish artists.”
The better question has to do with how Jewish cuisine has become as integrated into in American culture as bagels (with or without lox). And that’s because so many of the creatives – in Broadway theater, film – were Jewish.
But Jewish delis, themselves, are struggling today, particularly after the coronavirus pandemic, but also because of changing economics – the cost of that two-inch high pastrami on rye, the rent. The sandwich that used to cost $1.95 (see the Reubens menu), now costs $25. The fifth generation “Katz,” Jake Dell, on hand at the press preview, spoke of the changing economics, he said that they don’t even make a profit on a $25 pastrami sandwich. “The profit is in the soup.”
Programming: Private group tours can be arranged throughout the run of “I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli. Family programming includes a food-focused family day celebrating foodways brought to New York City by immigrants from around the world. Living History programs bring to life the stories of proprietors, patrons, and staff of New York City’s Jewish delis. Visit nyhistory.org for dates and details.
“Confronting Hate 1937-1952”
After enjoying the joyful “I’ll Have What She’s Having,” go up to the second floor of the historical society for another, more serious, exhibition that is so timely in the here and now: “Confronting Hate 1937-1952” about the American Jewish Committee’s groundbreaking campaign to combat anti-Semitism and ultimately to fight all forms of hate and bigotry. To reach as many Americans as possible in the period leading up to the Holocaust, World War II and the aftermath, the agency embraced new mass communication technologies and partnered with talented allies – artists, writers, political leaders, church groups, politicians, magazine and newspaper editors. They produced comic books, ads, articles. Among the celebrities who joined a “Speaking for America” poster campaign in 1946: Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Danny Kaye, plus President Harry Truman and Admiral Chester Nimitz.
New-York Historical Society, New York’s First Museum
At the New-York Historical Society, New York’s first museum, you experience 400 years of history through groundbreaking exhibitions, immersive films, and thought-provoking conversations among renowned historians and public figures. A great destination for history since 1804, the Museum and the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library convey the stories of the city and nation’s diverse populations, expanding our understanding of who we are as Americans and how we came to be. Ever-rising to the challenge of bringing little or unknown histories to light, New-York Historical will soon inaugurate a new annex housing its Academy for American Democracy as well as the American LGBTQ+ Museum. These latest efforts to help forge the future by documenting the past join New-York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum and Center for Women’s History.
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The visit to the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s new exhibit, “The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do” kind of bookended for me my recent trip to Europe, where I started in Prague and visited the Jewish Quarter and Shoah Memorial, on through Dresden, Meissen, Wittenberg and Magdeburg t, into Berlin. In Dordrecht, Netherlands, I walked on a sidewalk with metal plaques recalling the names of the Jewish families taken from here, and onward to Amsterdam where I visited its Jewish Quarter, with its Holocaust Memorial and Jewish Museum (couldn’t get into the Anne Frank house though because tickets book up well in advance.)..
In this exhibit, I see the faces and personal effects of people who would have come from these places – a shaving brush that belonged to Yaacov Mordechai Satt in the Lodz ghetto has a hollowed out handle as a hiding place for a gold chain given to him by his mother; a piece of soap given to Esther Tikotzki to wash with after she was deported to Theresienstadt (Terezin), just outside Prague; a wooden ornament made by a pharmacist, later murdered at Auschwitz, given to Erika Jolinkova who was deported from Prague with her school friend Gertrude Jojtasova to Theresienstadt (Terezin).
The Museum of Jewish Heritage is devoted to keeping alive the lessons of the Holocaust, which are resonating with all the more volume and pitch today. Putin’s brutal, torturous invasion of Ukraine. The Christo Fascist Supreme Court ending women’s reproductive freedom, autonomy and self-determination, immediately turning half the population into 3/5 of a person. Deciding cases based on Christian orthodoxy; overturning the Separation of Church and State, from Hobby Lobby to allowing a coach to proselytize to players. Marginalizing gays, criminalizing speech, banning books, an attempted violent overthrow of a democratically elected government. A record number of antisemitic hate crimes, as political terror, intimidation and violence take hold in mainstream political life.
What you realize as you go through the first floor of the exhibit is how the cancer takes hold – starting slow and steadily but the coup de gras coming even overnight. Women in the United States can now see this exhibit with different eyes, having gone to sleep believing they had freedom and equality and waking up second-class citizens, lacking bodily autonomy, self-determination and in some places, having their movements tracked and their ability to travel curtailed.
And implicit is the question of the choices and decisions that are made. “Who could have imagined?” can no longer be an excuse for standing by.
“Sadly, the exhibit has taken on new urgency: resistance, immigration, invasion taken on new meaning,” says Michael Berenbaum, consulting curator. “Solidarity in the wake of evil takes on new meaning. We thought this was ancient history. We little imagined how vital the message is in this day, in our time.
“Events that gave rise to Holocaust are thought to only be in the past, but echoes in our world. This reminds people…They understand more clearly what it means to fight for honor, to resist. They understand when seeing people fleeing for life, they need to be welcomed. If this causes people to think twice, to reflect, to imagine what you can do to make a better world, then we have succeeded,” Berenbaum says during a press preview.
The 12,000-square-foot exhibition features over 750 original objects and survivor testimonies from the Museum’s collection. Together, these objects tell a global story through a local lens, rooted in objects donated by survivors and their families, many of whom settled in New York and nearby places, which is resonating with eerie and frightening relevance today.
In keeping with the Museum’s mission to educate people of all ages and backgrounds on the broad tapestry of Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust, the exhibition features countless beginnings, middles, and too many endings that make up the stories of The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do. Each room, and each object, contains generations of experiences and information about who Jews are, what sustains Jewish communities, and what life was like during the period of European modernization, World War I, and the political and social movements that brought about the rise of the Nazi Party. Within the Holocaust experiences of legalized racism and fascism, pogroms, ghettos, mass murder, and concentration camps are instances of personal and global decision-making, escape, resistance, and resilience, and ultimately liberation and new beginnings.
“The title of our new exhibition speaks to our institution’s very reason for being,” says Museum President & CEO Jack Kliger. “Antisemitism and fascism are again on the rise throughout the world. Right here in New York, we have witnessed not only a surge in antisemitism but an uptick in violence and harassment targeting many marginalized groups. The time to speak out and act is upon us, and it is urgent. We hope The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do will educate and inspire our visitors and honor those who perished in the Holocaust, whose memories are a blessing.”
Paul Salmons, consulting curator and creative developer of the digital guide that accompanies the exhibit, and is available to all on Bloomberg Connects, raises the question of “what was known, what choices, what decisions, what significance of their action. The Holocaust is not a story of faceless victims or bystanders. It is a profoundly human story. That was our challenge when we created the audio guide. The intensely personal stories behind the artifacts, the documents, the personal stories of ordinary people living through extraordinary times.”
Indeed, so many of the objects on view are those everyday items –an engagement ring fashioned from a silver spoon given by Eli Rigman to Henny Rosenbaum on August 22, 1943, to mark their engagement while they were imprisoned in the Riga ghetto. She kept it on even after Eli was killed cleaning minefields, even as she was deported to several camps and during forced labor in 1944, her fingers swelled from the cold causing the ring to crack, even so, she kept the engagement ring on”. There is a photo that brings chills, of the happy couple celebrating with their friends, another photo of Henny Rosenbaum from 1937 shows this happy young woman.
They create a thread for the visitor to follow one family – the bag used to scavenge scarce food in the ghetto, the cooking pot the family used. The wonder is how they were able to trace back these objects to the people, connect with their stories, even photographs.
“We address common myths and misconception that Jews didn’t fight back or resist.” On display is a shirt that one of the freedom fighters wore in the forest – there were 30,000 Jewish partisan fighters in the forests of Eastern Europe. They fought the German occupation and rescued Jews – 1200 Jewish refugees lived in one camp which had its own medical center and school.
They fought back and resisted in other ways, as the exhibit shows. Fighting the dehumanization, they fashioned ID bracelet; a Star of David necklace made by Margit Rosenfeld in Auschwitz using material from the inside of her shoes and brown thread from her garments. “Something of their identity, their past life in a place of utter dehumanization.” They also secretly observed religious service, taught school, some were able to create art, music.
The films that have been made, the powerful survivors testimony, and the audio notes narrated by … are available to museum goers as well as people who do not personally visit, on Bloomberg Connects app, which can be downloaded for free. The Bloomberg Connects partnership allows access to the museum’s collections and educational resources. “The partnership demonstrates the commitment of the museum to make this vital story accessible.”
Toby Levy, a Holocaust survivor and a member of the museum’s Speakers Bureau, relates, “The year I was born, in Poland (now Ukraine, near Lebov), was the same year Hitler came to power. Jews lived in this place for 1000 years. Life was OK. My father was a merchant – I don’t remember much. We lived nicely until 1939. In a divided Europe, our part was in Russia. But in 1941, Germany broke the pact. We tried to run, but there was no place to run. We were locked in and out. No help from anywhere, especially in my part of Poland. The first day the Germans walked in, they made it clear who they are and who we are and where we’re going.
“My father realized immediately that none of us will make it, even though my father had been a German soldier in World War I. He realized these weren’t the same Germans, that the Germans were lying. Germans used the language of deception when they said they would relocate Jews. There were 5000 Jews in our town. Some say Jews followed like sheep. But we had no place to go.
“My father approached many people to try to find someone who would hide us. Stephanie Struck said she would. We were a family of four, then my aunt and uncle and their children, grandparent, we became 9 people. Two Ukrainians saved 9.” The family remained in hiding in her barn from 1942-1944.
“In hiding, my father talked had a tallit and whatever money he had; he gave material to Stephanie for food. We were four children – 4, 6, 8, 12 years old. I was 8. My father tried to teach us not to hate. “Hate will bring you to where you are today. Be kind, be moral, be a good person.”
“I have my revenge,” she says. “I am alive, enjoying my life, have Jewish children, grand children, great grand children.”
But she warned that antisemitism is very much revived. I’m scared now, not for me – I’m old – but for my children, grandchildren. Everyone must become a witness. Be a witness for me when I’m gone. Understand what it is to be antisemitic. That’s how started in Germany – language, media has to understand what anti-Semite is. Colleges are full of it. Our children are not prepared because they take for granted [religious freedom in the United States].”
Indeed, one of America’s great historic figures, a leading capitalist, Henry Ford, was a leading proponent and propagandist for antisemitism. I knew he was an anti-Semite but did not realize that he propagated antisemitism through his newspaper, in which he serialized the Protocols of the elders of Zion.
“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion fabricated records detailing secret meetings of Jewish leaders planning world domination – is the most widely circulated antisemitic text of modern times,” the notes that accompany copies say. Plagiarized from a 19th century French book unrelated to the Jews, Protocols (author unknown) it was first published in Russia at the turn of the 20th century. In 1920 Henry Ford used it as the basis for ‘The International Jew’ article series in his newspaper. In 1938, American priest Father Charles Coughlin serialized The Protocols in new newspaper, ‘Social Justice,’ and the book played an important role in the Nazis’ antisemitic propaganda campaign. “Some still believe its claims today.” Indeed, the imagery of an international Jewish cabal of financiers and media moguls is being used by MAGA candidates and elected and is so often connected to charges of those who advocate for social justice and economic opportunity as socialists and communists.
So it is understandable why Henry Ford, a pioneering industrialist, would embrace anti-Semitism.
The exhibit notes, “Antisemitism flourished in early 20th century America. The Great Wave of Immigration (1881-1914) brought 2.2 million Eastern European Jews to America, fleeing persecution and seeking opportunity. They were often met with suspicion, and even violence. The 1917 Russian Revolution raised fears of Jewish immigrants being internationalists and Bolsheviks. In 1915, an Atlanta mob hung Leo Frank, accused of murdering a 13-year old girl. During the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan targeted Blacks, Catholics and Jews. Car manufacturer Henry Ford published the International Jew in his Dearborn Independent newspaper. Based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which described an international Jewish ruling conspiracy, the article series alleged such a conspiracy was infiltrating America. It ran from 1920 to 1924, reaching hundreds of thousands of readers.”
It is an important exercise to see how antisemitism is cultivated, developed, spread and used as a weapon of power – the theme that dominates the first floor of the exhibit – and then the effect on ordinary people, how their lives are upended, a dominant theme of the second-floor of the exhibit.
But there is a flip side – the story of resilience, resistance and survival – and ultimately the responsibility of the others – the leaders of other countries, the foundations and organizations, the bystanders. The exhibit concludes with the formation of Israel, the immigration of Jews to America and other places, the Nuremburg trials which were supposed to make Hitler-wannabes think twice.
I learn for the first time of the Ritchie Boys – German-Jewish refugees, originally considered “enemy aliens” who were recruited to be an advanced intelligence combat unit. Trained at Fort Ritchie, Maryland, they were returned to Europe where they had just escaped, risking their lives to use their linguistic and cultural skills for combat, interrogation and lie detection. They fought in major battles and succeeded in gleaning tactical information from captured German soldiers. After the Allied victory, the Ritchie Boys interrogated thousands of war criminals and civilians. We meet “Ritchie Boy” Fred Neumann who emigrated to the US in the 1930s, enlisted in 1942, and worked as an interrogator and investigated the Ohrdruf and Buchenwald concentration camps.
“Working on The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do has been one of the high points of my professional career,” says co-curator Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz, Professor and Director of Holocaust Research in the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. “As a historian specializing in the Holocaust, I have always taught my students, through stories and documentation, about what happened, and why it happened. Here, for the first time, I can actually show people how it happened and to whom it happened through hundreds of objects and graphics, most from the Museum’s collection, via the stories of the people behind the artifacts, through wall texts and an audio guide, documentary films and survivor testimonies, all put together in a unique and thought-provoking display. The Holocaust may be part of the past, but hatred, and what it can do, are very much part of our present. This path-breaking exhibition serves as a stark reminder of what can happen if that hatred is not stopped in time.”
The exhibition was curated by a team of esteemed Holocaust scholars, historians, and Museum curators that included Professor Baumel-Schwartz, Scott Miller, Ilona Moradof, and Rebecca Frank, and consulting curators Professor Michael Berenbaum and Paul Salmons. The Scholars Advisory Group included Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi, Dr. Charles L. Chavis, Jr., Rabbi Sholom Friedmann, Atina Grossman, and Paul Wasserman.
“It is a particular point of pride for our institution that this exhibition gives new life to the Museum’s collection. The hundreds of artifacts, many of them donated by survivors, that visitors will experience were all donated to our institution with extraordinary trust and vision, and we are grateful. Each offers up its own story, and together these artifacts present an irrefutable record of history,” says the Museum’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Bruce Ratner.
The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do is the Museum’s first exhibition to open in its core galleries since its award-winning and widely acclaimed Auschwitz. Not Long ago. Not far away. concluded last spring.
“We are proud and honored to be long-time supporters of The Museum of Jewish Heritage, an eternal memorial to those who perished, but also a beacon of hope: the hope that through learning from history we can avoid repeating the tragedies of the past. We are privileged to support this important new exhibition and the expansion of the Museum’s vital educational mission,” says Lily Safra, Chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, a lead funder of the exhibition.
“The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do is an important exhibit, highlighting the impact of unchecked hatred. It is imperative that future generations understand that the Holocaust was not only a state-sponsored murder of the Jews but was, in many cases, also a communal act of complacency. Only through education can we begin to understand the outcomes bigotry and social silence inflicted on the Jewish people during the Holocaust. It is our job to give voice to the 6 million Jews who were murdered in that annihilation and to help future generations avoid the same complacency,” says Gideon Taylor, President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a lead funder of the exhibition.
“We were eight brothers and one sister with loving parents; only me and my brother Yankel survived. I am from Lodz and was in the Lodz and Warsaw ghettos, the Deblin and Auschwitz death camps, and on the death march from Magdeburg. As a survivor, number 189897, I feel a responsibility to teach the lessons of the Holocaust—that hate is an insidious murderer of humanity. May we never forget those who perished in the Holocaust, and may we always be courageous in standing up to hate. This is why I am so happy to support the work that the Museum of Jewish Heritage is doing, especially in such an important city like New York, that embraces its diversity as a strength,” says benefactor David Wiener.
“Eighty years ago, on May 29,1942, my great grandparents Berel and Sara Fish Hy”d and Velvel and Zissel Poltorak Hy”d perished in mass shootings alongside 287 other Jewish families (over 800 people), all of whom were relatives and friends in Yanushpol (renamed Ivanapol after the War), Ukraine,” says Eli Gurfel, a major donor. “I honor their memories with my support of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the importance it places on diverse Holocaust scholarship to broaden Holocaust awareness and education. As Elie Weisel said, ‘Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness.’ Especially given current events in Ukraine, my hope is visitors will see this exhibition and come away with broader understandings of what happens when hate and bigotry go unchecked.”
The audio tour guide accompanying the exhibition, available for download through the free Bloomberg Connects app, features narration from actress Julianna Margulies, winner of eight Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Golden Globe, and Eleanor Reissa, the Tony-nominated director, Broadway and television actress, prize-winning playwright, author of the memoir “The Letters Project: A Daughter’s Journey,” and former artistic director of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, acclaimed vocalist and Yiddishist, and actress Lauren Lebowitz are also featured on the audio guide, for which Paul Salmons Associates provided creative development (Paul Salmons, tour concept and historical interpretation; Leah Kharibian, scriptwriter).
The Holocaust: What Hate Can Do is made possible with leadership support from The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, The Oster Family, Patti Askwith Kenner and Family, Edmond J. Safra Foundation, and Evelyn Seroy in memory of her parents Julius & Ruth Eggener.
For more information or to purchase tickets, click here ($18/Adults, $12 ADA/Access, Seniors, Students, Veterans; FREE to children under 12 and NYC DOE K-12 students; FREE to Holocaust Survivors, active members of the military, first responders).
Museum hours: Sunday, Wednesday, Friday: 10AM to 5PM; Thursday: 10AM to 8PM; closed on all other days, on Jewish Holidays, and on Thanksgiving.
A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is New York’s contribution to the global responsibility to never forget. The Museum is committed to the crucial mission of educating diverse visitors about Jewish life before, during, and after the Holocaust. The third-largest Holocaust museum in the world and the second-largest in North America, the Museum of Jewish Heritage anchors the southernmost tip of Manhattan, completing the cultural and educational landscape it shares with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage maintains a collection of almost 40,000 artifacts, photographs, documentary films, and survivor testimonies and contains classrooms, a 375-seat theater (Edmond J. Safra Hall), special exhibition galleries, a resource center for educators, and a memorial art installation, Garden of Stones, designed by internationally acclaimed sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. The Museum is the home of National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and JewishGen.
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
The 2022 New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, made a triumphant return to Central Park on Wednesday, June 15, marking the return of the beloved series following two years of cancellations due to the pandemic. It was the second of four free outdoor concerts conducted by Music Director Jaap van Zweden – the first had taken place at Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx on June 14, followed by Cunningham Park, Queens (June 16); and Prospect Park, Brooklyn (June 17). All four outdoor performances conclude with a fireworks display.
The stunning program includes Wagner’s Prelude to Act I of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with a masterful performance by Bomsori Kim as soloist, Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7, and works by New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers: 14- year-old Naama Rolnick’s Keep Walking, who wrote her sensational piece at the age of 10 and who flew in from her home in Israel to enjoy hearing it played by the New York Philharmonic, and 17-year-old Alexander Rothschild Douaihy’s thrilling “A Human Rhapsody,’ which he composed at the age of 15.
In addition, Musicians from the New York Philharmonic are perform inga Free Indoor Concert, on Sunday, June 19, 2022, at 4 p.m., at St. George Theatre in Staten Island. (Tickets are free but required.)
“Like so many New Yorkers, Didi and I missed tremendously the Concerts in the Parks these past two summers,” said Philharmonic Chairman Emeritus Oscar S. Schafer. “We love the parks, and we love this orchestra, so we’ve been eagerly awaiting their return. We look forward to seeing people come together in these beautiful parks across the boroughs to enjoy magnificent music performed by this virtuosic orchestra. It will truly mean that New York City is back!”
“What a joy to be returning to the Parks of New York after two years of not being able to perform for the Parks’ audiences,” said Music Director Jaap van Zweden. “Music speaks to our hearts better than any language, and the New York Philharmonic players and I cannot wait to reconnect with the thousands and thousands of people throughout the Boroughs of New York who come to the Parks to hear us.”
“We are so excited to welcome back the New York Philharmonic for the iconic Concerts in the Parks series!” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “This series brings together people from all backgrounds to enjoy world class music for free, in some of our most picturesque parks — this is summer in New York at its best!”
The New York Philharmonic’s free parks concerts have become an iconic New York summer experience since they began in 1965, transforming parks throughout the New York area into a patchwork of picnickers, and providing music lovers with an opportunity to enjoy “priceless music absolutely free, under the stars”. More than 15 million listeners have been delighted by the performances since their inception. All programs are subject to change.
Here are more photo highlights from the Central Park performance:
By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
On an absolutely perfect, sunny spring day when New York City is at its absolute best, the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, the world’s largest charity bike ride, returned to its full strength: 32,000 cyclists, hailing from all 50 states and 32 countries, got to 40 miles of car-free streets across all the city’s five boroughs.
In addition to being the largest bike ride in the United States, it’s the most diverse and inclusive ride in the world – with people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, said Bike New York CEO Ken Podziba.
The sheer joy and delight – omnipresent for the ride – was particularly exuberant this year for the 44th edition of the bike tour after a hiatus in 2020 and last year’s (held in August instead of May) limited capacity of 20,000.
Cheerleaders, bands, banners and signs, marquees greeted and cheered on the riders as they made their way up through Manhattan, into the Bronx, back into Manhattan, down the FDR Drive (a personal favorite), over the Queensborough Bridge (what a view!) into Queens and along the revitalized waterfront, then over another bridge into Brooklyn, onto the highway and over the Verrazano’s one-mile expanse, into Staten Island to the Finish Festival at Empire Outlets on Staten Island’s North Shore, before taking one of New York City’s best rides back to Manhattan, the Staten Island Ferry (and in my case, a delightful ride up the Hudson River Greenway).
What is so special about New York City’s TD Five Boro Bike Tour is how, for one day, you and 32,000 of your closest friends, feel like you own the city. The streets, bridges and highways – like Sixth Avenue, the FDR Drive, the Queensborough Bridge, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Verrazano (the longest suspension bridge in the Americas) are your domain. It makes you giddy. Neighborhoods – so colorful, with their distinctive personalities and character, ring with sound and spirit – Greenwich Village, Harlem, Astoria, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, DUMBO, Staten Island’s north shore. Central Park’s blossoms seem to burst open just for us.
Some 1,200 volunteers – captains, marshalls, EMTs, bike repair people, people who hand out snacks and refill water bottles – add to the Big Apple-sized welcome riders receive.
The annual event raises money for bike education. Bike New York operates bike education centers, after school programs, summer camps, as well as its first membership program.
Numerous charities also use the event for fundraising, purchasing registrations which participants then raise money against.
The ride is designed to be a family friendly tour, not a competition, appealing to all abilities, ages – volunteers hold signs to slow the pace and alert riders to turns and obstacles.
TD Bank has been the title sponsor for the past 16 years; Manhattan Portage was the presenting sponsor.
Among the dignitaries on hand to send the cyclists off: Ken Podziba, President & CEO of Bike New York; Andrew Bregenzer, Regional President of Metro NY – TD Bank; Su-Hwei Lin, CEO of Manhattan Portage; New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez; Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine; NYC Council Members Christopher Marte and Lincoln Restler; and representatives from Prosecco Cycling, including Italian elected officials.
More information about events and programs offered by Bike New York at bike.nyc.