Round and about Midtown Manhattan,

Had a lovely time wandering and taking in Mid-town NY. I came to Bryant Park where i had a little stroll and then sit and read. Whilst everything seems as it’s been this quaint and comfortable for decades, today’s version of Bryant Park—with its gravel paths, green chairs, and jaunty le carrousel—is a recent invention.

Though the space has been called Bryant Park since 1842, the park has had a checkered career. By 1979, it was the site of frequent muggings and drug deals, avoided by knowledgeable New Yorkers. An almost 10 yr effort, begun in 1980, transformed the park and its reputation to the urban Oasis it is today.

Also in the park is the central building of the New York Public Library – so i went and checked it out!

The origins of this remarkable institution date back to the time when New York was emerging as one of the world’s most important cities. By the second half of the 19th century, New York had already surpassed Paris in population and was quickly catching up with London, then the world’s most populous city. Thankfully, some men foresaw that if New York was indeed to become one of the world’s great centers of urban culture, it must also have a great library.

Founded in 1895, today it is simultaneously one of the largest public library systems in the United States and one of the largest research library systems in the world.

Among it’s treasures, the Library is safeguarding a fair copy of the Declaration of Independence WRITTEN IN THOMAS JEFFERSON’S HAND! The Declaration of Independence announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states, and thus no longer a part of the British Empire. In the days immediately following ratification on July 4, 1776, Jefferson made several copies of the text that had been submitted to the Continental Congress, underlining the passages to which changes had been made. The Library’s copy is one of two known to survive intact. It is shown together with the first Philadelphia printing and the first New York printing of the final version issued by Congress. It was also nice to see it after celebrating the 4th of July back in California – one of those round circle moments.

After viewing the declaration i took a walk down memory lane to the 100 acre woods – or at least to see those who inspired the wonderful tale of Winnie the Pooh that i grew up with. Long before Walt Disney turned Pooh and his pals into movie stars, Christopher Robin Milne, a very real little boy living in England, received a small stuffed bear on his first birthday. He named him Edward Bear (later renamed Winnie-the-Pooh). Following Edward came the rest of the stuffed animals, which Christopher loved and played with throughout his childhood.

One day, Christopher’s father, A.A. Milne, and an artist named Ernest H. Shepard, decided that these animals, and two other imaginary friends, Owl and Rabbit, would make fine characters in a bedtime story. From that day on, Pooh and his friends have had many fanciful adventures, from Piglet’s encounter with a Heffalump to Eeyore’s loss of his tail. These stories have been embraced by millions of children and adult readers for more than 70 years. I love how children’s stories can have such resonance across the generations – a point emphasized when noting the differences between myself and the other fan who’d come to see them.

Since 1987, the REAL Pooh and four of his best friends–Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, and Tigger–have been living at The New York Public Library.

Back on the street i wondered beneath colonial like awnings whilst looking up at dazzling skyscrapers

until i stopped for a bite to eat at Le Pain Quotidien and had a delicious salad at one of it’s communal tables – a tradition thats continued in it’s franchises around the world, dating back to it’s Brussels beginnings as a cosy Bakery.

i’ve also spent time wandering through times squares – marvelling at the mass advertising. Advertisers have long been drawn to Times Square as a valuable place to reach consumers, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for space on billboards and blazing video screens. Now there is even more incentive for them to do this as a constant army of tourists and residents are doing their jobs for them. They are spreading advertisers’ messages well beyond Manhattan, using their cell phones and video cameras as they walk through the marketing crossroads of the world. I myself have done this if you look at the photo below!

Formerly named Longacre Square, Times Square was renamed in April 1904 after the New York Times moved its headquarters to the newly built Times Building, which is now called One Times Square and is the site of the annual ball drop on New Years Eve. Normally we think of Advertisments as those annoying things trying to weed their way into our lives but here, people (again, myself included) flock to the area en masse to see – well, Advertising! If thats not marketing at it’s best, i dont know what it is! It really is a bizarre phenomenon if you think about it.

Seeing this, it is no wonder that America is the home of innovative advertising and digital media and that New York is the epicenter.

There is even a chance for tourists to go up the big screen themselves – talk about those 15 seconds of fame! The billboard employs the use of high-tech surveillance cameras, computer vision technology, and a playful female model that interacts with the massive crowds, essentially creating a steroid-infused social media platform in which everyone has their moment – im in the below picture on the right! :

Then there are the people and characters you see around the city that stand apart from the business go-ers and tourists

After my explorations at the end of each day, i happily get the subway to return home to Brooklyn



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3 responses to “Round and about Midtown Manhattan,

  1. bagnidilucca

    I love Bryant Park. This is where the tents a put up for New York Fashion Week. I have been a couple of times. I always go to Le Pain Quotidien – at least you know you will get a good coffee – not always easy in NY. There is another in Soho and one in Lexington Ave.

  2. margaretbiggs

    What a lovely day I have just spent with you. I had’nt known Christopher Robin had originated there.I love the picture of you with bear etc. Is it hard to send me the photo? Big hug Margoo xx

  3. sally

    Love the piece on winnie the pooh. Gives me goose bumps LM

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