Monday, November 5, 2012

Planting yesterday, Sunday November 4th

Residents of Cooper Street helped plant and turn soil.
Thank you so much to those who helped out last Sunday on Cooper Street and in Isham Park along the path up from the Broadway and Isham Street entrances that gradually rises above Park Terrace West.

The Daffodils planted on Cooper Street are in part an experiment to see if they can survive harsh conditions imposed on the new street trees or if they will help the trees to be treated with more respect.

We were able to turn the soil of many of the pits on the street for the relatively new trees.

Daffodils were planted long the west side of the entry path.
Cooper Street and Park Terrace West (PTW) actually connect at Isham Street.  So part of the idea in planting on Cooper and along PTW is to foreground their connection.  The streets share a beautiful view of the Cloisters Tower in Ft. Tryon Park, framed by a corridor of apartment buildings, some of which are among Inwood's best examples of Art Deco.

The area in Isham Park that we planted has healthy patches of Vinca minor or Periwinkle already in place.  The Daffodils should look lovely amid the Vinca, with its little blue flowers and shiny dark green leaves, next spring.

Hoping to still plant where we planned to earlier, before Hurricane Sandy blew over half of the second of the four Beech trees that were planted below the memorial in the 1930s in reference to the four gifts of land from the Isham family that established the park.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Planting bulbs Cooper to Park Terrace West this SUNDAY November the 4th - after all

Hurricane effects and parks closures forced us to cancel this Sunday's IMPD earlier but folks seem to want to plant bulbs after all on this Sunday November 4th, so we are going to do it along Cooper Street and then Park Terrace West (on the paths up the hill on the left or west side away from the new mulch-over-burlap-net area).

So if you have cabin fever and want to get some bulbs in for next spring, come on out!  We will meet at 9:15am in front of 10 Cooper Street.  Plan to work until noon.  We have 550 Daffodils from NYers for Parks and Bluebell bulbs donated by John Emmanuel.

Should make a lovely path for the Cloisters Tower view next spring!   

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

CANCELLED due to the storm: Sixth It's My Park Day for Volunteers for Isham Park

DUE TO PARKS CLOSURES AFTER HURRICANE SANDY, IMPD is not yet able to be rescheduled.  As soon as NYC Parks deems Isham Park safe for volunteer work, a new poster will be sent out.  We have many bulbs, so please do plan to help!  THANK YOU!

Next Sunday, October 28th will be the sixth It's My Park Day for Volunteers for Isham Park!

As for the fall IMPD VIP held two years ago, the date we chose, Sunday the 28th, is the closest day to Halloween, All Souls or All Saints Day.  (See the VIP blog post for October 31, 2010.)

Also, since bulbs were distributed last Sunday, October 21st, by New Yorkers for Parks, VIP chose next Sunday, October 28th, 10am to 1pm for It's My Park Day bulb planting in Isham Park.

There will be 550+Daffodils from NYers for Parks + many Partnerships for Parks provided bulbs, such as Tulips, Allium, and Spanish Bluebells, so we are hoping to see as many out for the planting as possible.

Kate Gluzberg, Out reach Coordinator for Partnerships for Parks will be on site to work with us.

Family (adult) supervised children are also welcome to assist!

We will meet on the steps above the Ginkgo Tree at the southeast entrance to Isham Park above Isham Street. Planting will begin there (at the former site of the Isham Estate Gardener's Lodge) and
progress up the hill along the paths and to the memorial and its lower terrace.

We hope to plant any remaining bulb in Cooper Street/Park Terrace West tree pits or along sidewalks, including the Margin Garden.

See Spanish language poster below.

Thank you and hope to see you in Isham Park next Sunday morning -
Volunteers for Isham Park

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Centennial Sound Project & links for listening

Kate Gluzberg with VIP Kristine Paulus under the centennial sound tent

Kate Gluzberg, Outreach Coordinator for Northern Manhattan Parks for Partnerships for Parks, took on the project of recording four of the gardeners active in Isham Park for the centennial.  To access these insights into each gardener's thoughts and words go to:

http://soundcloud.com/partnerships-for-parks

Centennial sound booth
Thanks to Kate and to all of those who worked so hard to make Isham Park's Centennial Celebration a success!!! 

Part IV: Great Centennial performances

Don Rice on stage at Isham Park Centennial
 Don Rice, co-presenter with Cole Thompson of Lost Inwood at the Indian Road Cafe on the first Tuesday of each month came last in the performance schedule for the centennial.

Don played his collection of Edison sound recordings from the era of the 1912 celebration.  These were the pieces that were performed by the musicians in Isham Park on September 28, 1912, but the recordings were not of the actual performances on that day in the park.  Even so, they helped set the tone at the end of the event by reviving marching band music rarely heard anymore. 

Part III: Great Centennial Performances

Luis Ramos on guitar
Luis Ramos (Alkobokutei), who is of the Taino people and who is founder and organizer of Shorakapok Earth Keepers, performed next.

Luis played first a drum and then guitar, accompanying his very profound Traditional & Native American songs, which he translated for the audience, giving us full understanding of each song's intentions.   He was assisted by his beautiful daughter, who patiently held his microphone.   

Luis also brought his Mobile Indigenous Library to Isham Park for the Centennial.

Shorakapok Earth Keepers are also doing great work days in Inwood Hill Park (from his Facebook page):
"Local NYC community group strives to honor the legacy of the Native American history of Inwood Hill Park through volunteer beautification efforts and indigenous cultural events and activities. Learn more about his group and how you can become a volunteer. Shorakapok Earth Keepers recently received a grant from Partnership for Parks. Partnerships for Parks continues to support the efforts of the Shorakapok Earth Keepers mission of service and honoring the earth."

Please see the next and final post on great centennial performances...

Part II: Great Centennial Performances

Nadema Agard was next on the schedule, with Native American Storeytelling on the lawn.  Nadema later also spoke movingly from the main stage of the Lenape people as first residents of the area and of raising her own family in and around Isham Park. 
Nadema Agard on the main stage

Bread & Yoga and ABADA-Caproeira Bronx did a Caproeira Workshop on the lawns between the stage and the children's tent. 

This performance was a nice updated reference to the the many international dances performed by school children for the 1912 celebration.

We are grateful to the New-York Historical Society for providing permission to use scans of the 1912 program in their collection as a guide and reference for the events in 2012.  NYHS gave permission for the images of that program to be published in the Manhattan Times, so that their readers could see that bit of history.  The program cover displays four images of Isham Park in 1912, one of which shows the entrance to the park off of Broadway next to the Ginkgo tree.  The same image was used on the 1912 novelty pin worn to the event by Carol Collins Malone (see earlier posts). 
Bread & Yoga and ABADA-Capoeira workshop
Please go to the next blog for more great Centennial performances...

Part I: Centennial performances and speakers

Isham Park's Centennial was blessed by truly great performances, beginning with Rosanna Perch who sang a lovely rendition of "America the Beautiful," reviving the song from the 1912 celebration program.

Rosanna Perch's performance followed a lovely dedication and prayer by Father Robert J. Abbatiello, pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd, and proceeded speakers including Manhattan Parks Commissioner William Castro; NYC Council Member Robert Jackson, whose generous allocation for Water Service Restoration in Isham Park was made manifest in the display of a NYC Parks design board for the project, which is set to begin in spring of 2013; Elizabeth Ritter, who spoke on behalf of State Senator Adriano Espaillat; Carol Collins Malone (go to http://myinwood.net/inwoods-isham-park-turns-100/ for Cole Thompson's video of Mrs. Malone's remarks), Julia Isham Taylor's great-niece who invited her brother William Bradley Isham Collins to the stage while she spoke on behalf of the Isham family; and finally Pat Courtney, author of this blog and founding member and organizer of Volunteers for Isham Park.

Refreshments were then served, including a beautiful and delicious cake from Darling Coffee and delicious tea-sized sandwiches from the Indian Road Cafe.  New Heights Realty covered the cost of bottled water and lemonade.  We are grateful to Edison Properties for their generous contribution for the centennial that paid for the cake and sandwiches and many other necessary costs for the event.

After the food, afternoon performances and activities began at 1:00pm, with Jamie Hamilton, Joe Hamilton and Michael Tanksley singing Irish Ballads to the great delight and amusement of the crowd.  We were also grateful to the young lady who so expertly held the microphone for the ballad singers!

At the same time as the ballad singing, children's activities began nearby under a tent on the western portion of the lawn, including face painting, games and sports, and art projects managed by Friends of Indian Road Playground and Pre-School on the Planet.

Please see the next post for more great performances...  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Links to video and press coverage of the Centennial

Thanks to Darling Coffee for the cake!
We are indebted to Cole Thompson of "myinwood.net" for his very nice video, to Carla Zanoni of "DNA info" for a great slide show and article, and finally to Robin Elizabeth Kilmer of "The Manhattan Times" for both great previews and reviews, on-line and in paper editions.

Robin Kilmer wrote a preview to accompany the exclusive publication of the cover image of the 1912 celebration program now in the collection of the New York Historical Society (for which VIP had formally attained permission but for publication only in the MT and in the park on the day of the event):
http://manhattantimesnews.com/isham-park-turns-100.html

Robin also did a preview interview with me for the on-line MT the week before the event:
http://manhattantimesnews.com/a-generous-gift-turns-100.html

and a lovely review following the event:
http://manhattantimesnews.com/a-magical-centennial-for-inwood.html

Cole Thompson was ready with his video camera as the band marched!
http://myinwood.net/inwoods-isham-park-turns-100/

Finally, Carla Zanoni wrote an article with a great slide show, both are on-line at:
http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20121001/inwood/inwood-community-celebrates-100th-anniversary-of-isham-park

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Two Mounted NYC Police Officers assisted...

We had read in the New-York Herald 1912 review of the opening ceremony of Isham Park, that mounted NYC Police Officers road at the head of the parade.  Ky Williams of Rotary Club of Inwood made the necessary contacts to enable attendance for such officers at the Centennial last Saturday.

They marched ahead of the band and taking a position near the stage made another incredible contribution to the day, as they stood calmly watching the crowds and enabling guests to ask questions and pet their horses.

Amy Fine Collins took a particular interest in them and posed with the officers, inviting Kate Gluzberg to stand with her for the photo op.  One officer gave a demonstration of the horse responding to his communication which he described is done through slight movements of the reigns and not by verbal command or other coercion.

These officers and their horses stayed with us for hours, really adding to the festivities, reminders of the dependency we once had on these beautiful animals before we got hooked on machines that utilize fossil fuel.

See the next post for more on centennial guests, speakers, food, children's activities, and performances...
 

Isham descendants were present!

Late last week Kate Gluzberg, Outreach Coordinator for Northern Manhattan Parks got an email from the great niece of Julia Isham Taylor, Isham Park's patron or benefactor.  It seems a neighbor who is a friend of their family saw the posters, e-blasts, or the Manhattan Times article in advance and let them know about the impending celebration.

Most fortunately for us, they decided to attend!
Amy Fine Collins, Brad Collins, and Carol Collins Malone 
Carol Collins Malone, her brother William Bradley Isham Collins, and his wife Amy Fine Collins arrived just before the I.S. 52 band and chorus marched into Isham Park from Broadway!

Carol spoke movingly of her discovery of a button made for the original 1912 celebration which she had pinned on her sweater.  She said Isham Park's opening celebration had always fascinated her.  She invited those in attendance to come up and take a close look, especially at the back of the pin because it still has its novelty company paper label in place. 

Brad Collins and Carol Malone descend from Flora Isham Collins, Julia Isham Taylor's younger sister who was the sixth and last child of William Bradley Isham and his wife Julia Burhans Isham.

Saturday the 29th was a full moon and it brought us such amazing experiences!  The Isham descendants were an incredible enhancement for the Centennial Celebration in Isham Park!

Verso of Mrs. Collins' 1912 celebration button.
Recto: the entrance to Isham Park off Broadway.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I.S. 52 Band & Chorus at Isham Park's Centennial!!!

When last Saturday September 29th began with clouds and occasional rain droplets falling, we wondered if I.S. 52's Inwood Tiger Band and Heavenly Voices Chorus would be able to march as scheduled... 

I.S. 52 Inwood Tiger Band on Broadway before their march into Isham Park
At about 10:45am, James Renner, CB12 Manhattan's Official Historian, called to say the band was on Broadway near the former entrance to the Isham estate.  The show would now go on! Descendants of Julia Isham Taylor's family had also just arrived!

Just down the block in front of the stone entrance gate on Broadway, two mounted NYC Police Officers were in position to lead the parade.
At 11:00am, the parade began, building excitement as it went along the curved path - which began its existence as a carriage drive on the land when it was developed in the early 1850s by the Ferris family - up the steep slope to the level lawns at the top of the park where a stage and chairs had been set up by NYC Parks.  On September 28, 1912, this location was still the site of the Isham family residence, which was the anchor of the events on that day.

Isham residence, Archives of NYC Parks
Mr. Brian Moore, Music Instructor and Band Director at I.S. 52, lead the band behind a student faithfully holding its yellow and black banner.  In fact, Mr. Moore wore an all black suit and shirt with a bright yellow tie to sync with the school's uniforms.  The band was AWESOME!   Fueled by doughnuts and juice provided by the Rotary Club of Inwood's tireless representative Kyla Williams, they marched to the stage and performed several numbers. 
Mr. Brian Moore directs I.S. 52s Inwood Tiger Band in Isham Park

Then the Heavenly Voices Chorus, under the direction of Ms. Natasha Bracey, sang.  The band and chorus then departed as it had arrived, leaving the field open for speakers, other performers, and a variety of activities for children.


For the centennial, Volunteers for Isham Park placed laminated history posters throughout the park to share some of the many news articles and images about Isham Park that have been gathered over the past three years.
VIP history sign, at the Broadway entrance, describes the historic Mile Post.

At the time it was given, Isham Park had a transformative effect on Inwood, its neighborhood in northern Manhattan...see the next post for more on Isham Park's Centennial and its history!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Isham Park - Centennial Celebration!!! Hosted by Neighborhood volunteer groups, NYC Parks & Partnerships for Parks



Photo from the Archives of the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
Inwood, Manhattan—One hundred years ago on September 28th 1912, the P.S. 52 marching band paraded into Isham Park at its Broadway entrance just above Isham Street up to the top of the hill to the former Isham family residence, where festivities celebrating the new park, including speeches, folk dancing, and music performances were presented.

The park was one of the first gifts of land for a NYC public park according to then Parks Commissioner Charles B. Stover.  The gift not only preserved the land for Isham Park, but it reignited the discussion of the purchase of land for Inwood Hill Park.  Completion of the construction of the first rapid transit station at the east end of Dyckman Street in 1906 had hastened the development of open farmland in Inwood into the residential apartment community known today. The gift of land for Isham Park actually preserved precious natural geological features that might have been lost if development had advanced without interruption across the northern tip of the island.   

Julia Isham Taylor initiated the gift of land for a park to be named in her father’s memory in a letter to the Manhattan Borough President George A. McAneny, reproduced in the New York Times on May 26, 1911.  After her aunt, her father’s sister, Flora Eliza Isham, gave additional land in early 1912, the celebration of the park was planned and held.

The gifts of land that became Isham Park have enabled the public to experience the original terrain of Manhattan Island at its northern tip for the past 100 years. As Julia intended, Isham Park has served as an open space, treasure, and community asset throughout its lifetime. We ask that everyone who is devoted to Isham Park participate in this celebration, share their favorite Isham Park memories, reconnect with the park’s phenomenal history, and celebrate the diverse neighborhood that envelopes it.

Once again, the I.S. 52 Inwood Tiger band and Heavenly Voices Chorus will march from the Broadway entrance to the top of Isham Park to open the festivities:

Saturday, September 29, 2012
11:00 am to 3:00 pm, Isham Park, event will be held on the lawn at the top of the park.
Enter the park at Broadway above Isham Street to march with the band at 11:00am.
Festivities will include various speakers, story booth, performers, historical park signage and tours, children’s activities, celebration cake and refreshments.

NYC Parks, Partnerships for Parks, Volunteers for Isham Park, Isham Park Restoration Program 1970, Inc., Rotary Club of Inwood, and community volunteers, with special thanks to Edison Properties

For more information please contact: volunteersforishampark@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Inwood, Manhattan" walking tour guide now available on the HDC's website

 The Historic District Council has put pdf's of the "Walking Tour Guides" for the 2011 inaugural "Six to Celebrate" communities on line on their website so that you can preview them:

http://hdc.org/program-events/six-to-celebrate/six-to-celebrate-2011/walking-tour-brochures

You can page through the guides or purchase the entire set of six for just $5.00.

Below is the cover image of the guide for Inwood, "Manhattan."


Monday, September 3, 2012

"Lost History" presentation for Isham Park's Centennial month

An invitation from Don Rice to 
LOST INWOOD
TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 4th at 7:30PM
at the Indian Road Cafe, 600 West 218th Street (corner Indian Road)

Isham Park - 100 Years
  
Greetings! 

This month at LOST INWOOD we'll be celebrating the centennial of Isham Park's dedication. Pat Courtney, of Volunteers for Isham Park, has prepared a special presentation focusing on the Park; its history, structures, views and design elements. Beginning with Julia Isham Taylor's May 1911 letter in which she offered Isham Park to New York City, Pat will review the details of the property, including aspects of the park's design and the eventual fate of its original structures. The possible identity of the person who designed the park's features (including the walls, pathways, steps, and terraces that we know today) will be discussed, as will recently discovered details about Julia and her husband Henry Osborn Taylor. 

Pat will bring along information about the upcoming Isham Park Centennial Celebration, which will be held on Saturday, September 29.  For those interested, she'll also distribute copies of  "Inwood, Manhattan," a walking tour guide produced in 2012 by the Historic District Council for Inwood as one of its inaugural "Six to Celebrate" communities.



We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday for this free presentation. Don't miss it!

- Don Rice

Indian Road Cafe
600 West 218th Street (corner Indian Road)
NYC 10034
tel 212-942-7451




Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It all started on It's My Park Day last May 19th...

After shot of the "Hinkle"
Before shot: Jenni on the "Hinkle"











 

One volunteer who came out for the day on IMPD last May offered to
work on a regular basis early on weekday mornings.  She had worked with the Parks Gardener that afternoon and signed paperwork the NYC Department of Parks asks ongoing volunteers to sign.

Almost every weekday since that Saturday, we have met in Isham Park at 7:30am to garden and maintain the park.  Each day she works until 9:00 or 10:00am and some days stays as late as 1:00pm depending on the schedule of her regular job.

We have been able to do so much!  Above see Jenni on what she named the "Hinkle" or the top of the hill above the Ginkgo tree in Isham Park.  The photo on the left shows Jenni in the Mugwort completely covering the shrubs we would reveal by weeding... "after" image on the right is repeated larger below to show the shrubs and flowers we found under the Mugwort, Vine Weed, and other weeds!

More on our work soon...

Monday, July 2, 2012

The cake is gone! The 2012 Art Stroll has ended...

Pink lemonade cake with lemon curd from Darling Coffee was delicious!
Thanks to everyone who came out for the VIP Walking tour/lecture series for the Art Stroll this June!

Cake and conversation at the memorial last Saturday was a great summery way to celebrate Julia and her gift of the land that became Isham Park in 1912 and to bring the series to a close.

Kimberly, a Darling Coffee baker, actually created a new recipe for Julia's brithday.  We cut into it and it was largely gone before we thought to photograph it.  It was delightfully light with a strawberry  filling (seen tumbling out of the last bit).   Thank you Kimberly and Darling Coffee!

Thank you also so much to the presenters for the VIP Art Stroll 2012 series: Susan De Vries, Director at Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, Cole Thompson, "Lost Inwood" co-presenter and author of "myinwood.net", NYC Parks Ranger Martha Brodylo, Harlan Pruden, and Don Rice, "Lost Inwood" co-presenter. To see snapshots of the tours, go to each of the blog posts for June 2012.

Since It's My Park Day on May 19th, a single tireless volunteer has gone out almost each weekday morning at 7:30am to work in Isham Park with me.  The next post will reveal some of the work we have done in Isham Park...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Celebrate Julia Isham Taylor's birthday this Saturday

Julia Isham Taylor, birthday celebration (JITs actual birth date was June 28, 1866 so today would have been her birthday) 
Come help to celebrate the birthday of the woman who initiated the gift of Isham Park in 1911-12 this
Saturday June 30th, at 1:00pm at the stone memorial terrace in Isham Park* above Broadway.
Memorial area in Isham Park above Broadway and W. 212th

Enter the park at the stone gate across from W. 212th Street and Broadway and take the stairs to the right under the Ginkgo tree at the entrance, then make the first right at the top of the stairs to reach the terrace.

We will share a cake from Inwood's new bakery "The Darling Cafe" and biographical readings about Julia.
 


*Please note: In case of rain, meet us at the Inwood Hill Park Nature Center.
 
The Historic District Council has produced a walking tour guide for Inwood which was one of their "Six to Celebrate" communities for 2011.

Copies of the walking tour guide will be available at Saturday's event. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

WPA era design in Isham and Inwood Hill Parks

The lecture and tour began at the Nature Center
Yesterday, Sunday June 24th, we held the 4th lecture and walking tour of the 2012 Art Stroll/Centennial series.  Once again beginning at the Nature Center with a slide show, we then went out into first Inwood Hill Park and then Isham Park looking for the traces of WPA era design.

The Historic District Council's annual conference, which this year focused on the topic of "Open Space," was held in early March.

On the opening day of the conference, Thomas Campanella (http://planning.unc.edu/news/campromeprize)* spoke of the landscape architects Clarke & Rapuano who worked for Parks Commissioner Robert Moses.  The description he gave of their projects inspired me to show a small map fragment of Isham Park to him on the next break.  He took one look and said it looked to him like the work of Clarke & Rapuano.  Thomas Campanella studied Michael Rapuano during his Rome Prize Fellowship in 2010-11.  He is working on a book titled *Designing the American Century which "examines the careers of two of the most important American landscape architects of the 20th century — Glimore D. Clarke and Michael Rapuano."

After the HDC conference by email correspondence, Thomas confirmed that Michael Rapuano (http://tclf.org/content/michael-rapuano) had been assigned Isham and Inwood Hill Parks, during the design phase that accompanied the alteration of the shipping canal in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  He said he would need to confirm how much of the design was built and that although he would not be able come and speak on the subject for this series, it would be alright to reveal the news that Rapuano was assigned the design work of Isham and Inwood Hill Parks.

Thomas also sent a copy of his Wall Street Journal article from last summer about Rapuano's introduction of the London Plane tree to NYC Parks, that gives more detailed information on Rapuano: http://web.mit.edu/~tomcamp/Public/articles/CAMPANELLA_Roman%20Roots.pdf 


Outside in Inwood Hill Park, the tour studied a row of London Plane trees across from the Nature Center.

Then we strolled to the left out on to the "peninsula" to search for a feature of the park's design that has almost disappeared.  It is a stone curbed pathway, now almost obscured by lawn that crosses diagonally from the south to the north accompanied by a row of London Plane trees.  That feature appears on a 1938 aerial photo showing the park design as completed.  It also leads to the great view of the Henry Hudson Bridge and the Palisades at the end of the peninsula.

We walked on to the semi-circular end designs on paths that overlook the salt marsh and noted how they frame views of the Henry Hudson Bridge and the Nature Center.  So they, along with the forced perspective of the entrance semi-circle to the circle around the flagpole, seem to serve as examples of the Italian Renaissance style design that Rapuano employed in public parks, noted by Campanella in his WSJ article (see link above for the article "Roman Roots").

The tour on Isham Street

We then climbed to Isham Park's summit noting the large circular stone terrace at the crest of the hill.  Walking to the stone terrace down the slope above Broadway, we noted that the two terraces are lined up, forming another forced perspective element.  The double walkway between the two circular terraces that is seen in the map fragment must not have been built and the lower circular terrace which memorializes the Isham family and their gifts for the park may have preceded Rapuano's Art Deco era design, but the placement of the terraces is compelling and the stone work is most certainly WPA era.
Utilizing the natural amplification at the center of the memorial terrace.















Next week please attend the final event of the series on Saturday June 30th, the last day of the Art Stroll:

Julia Isham Taylor, birthday celebration (JITs actual birth date: June 28, 1866) Come help to celebrate the birthday of the woman who initiated the gift of Isham Park in 1911-12.
Saturday June 30th, at 1:00pm at the stone memorial terrace in Isham Park* above Broadway (seen in the photograph above), enter the park at the stone gate across from W. 212th Street and up the sloped path or stairs by the Ginkgo tree to the terrace. We will share a cake from Inwood's new bakery The Darling Cafe (http://darlingcoffeenyc.com/about.html) and biographical readings about Julia.

*Please note: In case of rain, meet again at the Inwood Hill Park Nature Center:





Monday, June 18, 2012

Springs and wells in Inwood Hill and Isham Parks

Don points to paths of active waters.
Last Saturday, June 16, 2012, Don Rice gave a detailed and informative slide lecture and walking tour on the springs and wells of Inwood Hill and Isham Parks at the Inwood Hill Park Nature Center.

After Don's Powerpoint introduction to the topic, we strolled out of the Nature Center to have a look at the real thing. The weather was ideal and tidal waters in the marsh were low, enabling us to see where springs and ground waters still feed into the marsh.  During Don's slide show we had a preview of this condition, as his stills transitioned to video to demonstrate the movement of the waters.

We visited the spring on the south side of the soccer field known as  "Gaelic Field," where Don had explained he and his "Lost Inwood" co-presenter Cole Thompson were told by neighborhood players they had often slaked their thirsts during games at that spot. 

Next we strolled to the glacial potholes where Don explained that the movement of water could actually be up instead of down.

Then on to the site of a still extant well.  Don also pointed out places where cisterns are located but difficult to visit due to overgrowth of poison ivy.  Then we overlooked the mighty Hudson River at the Henry Hudson Bridge and walked down the path cut by WPA workers in the late 1930's, noting drill marks where the paths had been cut and wet places where ground waters or springs still leave their trails.
Don lecturing at a well site n Inwood Hill. Photo: Jeff Dugan
We wondered aloud about Hydrofracking and its potential effects on our beautiful state and its legendary waters.

Hope you can all come out to the Nature Center next Sunday June 24th to hear about the mid-20th century construction events in Inwood and both parks!  And please try to make it on Saturday June 30th for our final event in the Art Stroll series:  Julia Isham Taylor's birthday celebration.


Sunday June 24th, 1:00pm meet at Inwood Hill Nature Center:
Art Deco/ WPA design in Isham and Inwood Hill Parks
A slide lecture ending in a walking tour with Pat Courtney.  Take a look at the Art Deco/WPA era design and structures in both parks.  Learn of the designers discovered during the process of the study for potential historic districts in Inwood which was selected in 2011 as one of the inaugural “Six to Celebrate” communities by the Historic Districts Council.

Saturday June 30th, at 1:00pm at the Isham memorial terrace in Isham Park, above Broadway, enter the park at the stone gate across from West 212th and up the sloped path or stairs by the Ginkgo tree to the terrace (follow signs). In case of rain, meet at the Inwood Hill Park Nature Center:
Julia Isham Taylor, birthday celebration (JITs actual birth date: June 28, 1866) Come help to celebrate the birthday of the woman who initiated the gift of Isham Park in 1911-12.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Shorakapok tour yesterday


Harlan Pruden speaking at the Nature Center.  Photo: Jeff Dugan

Yesterday, Saturday June 9, 2012, a lecture and walking tour was led by NYC Parks Ranger Martha and Harlan Pruden, an Inwood resident and a member of the Cree Nation. 

The tour began with Ranger Martha describing her usual talk to school children about native peoples, their history, and what is commonly known of their day to day practices.  She said she always began by saying that native peoples did not generate garbage as we know it today and by asking the children to try to refrain from creating garbage for just one day.  She then shared the various items used as props for her lectures. She also described the planting style of native people who are known to have planted so that the plants intertwined and were mutually beneficial, such as corn with beans climbing its stalks, squash underneath to shade out weeds and keep moisture in the ground.

Harlan explained that he is dedicated to revealing the political and social issues for native peoples today and to demonstrating how misconceptions are promulgated in commonplace descriptions.  The intertwining of Ranger Martha's and Harlan's descriptions was very thought provoking for the tour.  Several people commented on how enlightening the combination was for them.
Ranger Martha speaking to the tour outside the Nature Center

The tour began in Inwood Hill Park inside the Nature Center and then went on a stroll around the marshland to the south, west to  Shorakapkok the rock formation just inside the woodland paths to Inwood Hill.  Passing the stone and plaque that describes the transaction between the Lenape and the Dutch of ownership of Manhattan Island, Harlan pointed out that the concept of private ownership was not a native concept.

We climbed to the caves and then Martha finished her portion of the tour at the spring near what the Parks Department describes as "Gaelic Field" the soccer field that was formerly covered by marshland.  Along the way, Ranger Martha pointed out the middens of Oyster shells that were the only garbage created by the native people.

We then passed Saturday farmers market, where we were reminded that native peoples had a planting ground just at that spot and beyond to the south and then climbed to the top of the hill in Isham Park, which is described in a New York Times article dated October 8, 1911, as a possible site for native ceremonies since burials of people and dogs had been recently located all around the hill near its base.   

Hope you can come out for next weeks tour which begins a little later:

 1:00pm at the Nature Center:


Where's the Water? Inwood's Springs and Wells of Yesteryear (and what became of them)
Don Rice co-organizer of “Lost Inwood” will expand his presentation at the Indian Road Café earlier this year:  “Running water wasn't available to Inwood residents until the later part of the 1800s. Before it became possible to simply turn on a faucet, how did people get fresh water to drink and use? The answer: a network of springs and wells which were spring-kled throughout northern Manhattan. We'll use our virtual dowsing rods to trace their story. Where were Inwood's springs and wells of yesteryear? Are any still around today?”




Saturday, June 2, 2012

Centennial Lecture/Walking Tour Calendar for the 2012 Art Stroll


Calendar of Isham Park Centennial lectures/walking tours for June 2012 Art Stroll:

See this link for the first tour which took place this morning:
http://volunteersishampark.blogspot.com/2012/06/1st-lecture-in-series-related-to-isham.html

Saturday June 9th: 10:00am, meet at the Inwood Hill Nature Center, West 218th Street
peninsula in Inwood Hill Park
Shorakapok: Native Americans of Northern Manhattan
Northern Manhattan has a vibrant history of the Nativespeoples of this land.  The Urban Park Rangers along with Harlan Pruden, a member of the Cree Nation, will lead am interactive lecture and walk on the Lenape and other Native Peoples of Northern Manhattan as they also explore the Indian rock shelters and Inwood Hill and Isham Parks.

Saturday June 16th, 1:00pm meet at Inwood Hill Nature Center:
Where's the Water? Inwood's Springs and Wells of Yesteryear (and what became of them)
Don Rice co-organizer of “Lost Inwood” will expand his presentation at the Indian Road Café earlier this year:  “Running water wasn't available to Inwood residents until the later part of the 1800s. Before it became possible to simply turn on a faucet, how did people get fresh water to drink and use? The answer: a network of springs and wells which were spring-kled throughout northern Manhattan. We'll use our virtual dowsing rods to trace their story. Where were Inwood's springs and wells of yesteryear? Are any still around today?”

Sunday June 24th, 1:00pm meet at Inwood Hill Nature Center:
Art Deco/ WPA design in Isham and Inwood Hill Parks
A slide lecture ending in a walking tour with Pat Courtney.  Take a look at the Art Deco/WPA era design and structures in both parks.  Learn of the designers discovered during the process of the study for potential historic districts in Inwood which was selected in 2011 as one of the inaugural “Six to Celebrate” communities by the Historic Districts Council.

Sunday June 30th, at 1:00pm at the Isham memorial terrace in Isham Park, above Broadway, enter the park at the stone gate across from West 212th and up the sloped path or stairs by the Ginkgo tree to the terrace (follow signs). In case of rain, meet at the Inwood Hill Park Nature Center:
Julia Isham Taylor, birthday celebration (JITs actual birth date: June 28, 1866) Come help to celebrate the birthday of the woman who initiated the gift of Isham Park in 1911-12. 




1st Lecture in a series related to Isham Park's Centennial

Cole Thompson with tour at Church of the Good Shepherd.  Photo: Jeff Dugan.
This morning, Saturday June 2nd, the 1st of four Centennial related lectures/walking tours for the June NoMAA Art Stroll was held.  

Beginning at the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum on Broadway at West 204th Street at 10am, the tour group heard about the preservation history of Dyckman Farmhouse Museum from Susan De Vries, DFM director.  Introducing a New York Times article from 1913 that revealed a plan to move the Dyckman Farmhouse to Isham Park as a means of preserving it, Susan explained that the move would have been necessitated by the owner of the DF at that time who did not want to give up ownership of the land in order to preserve the house.  She also revealed that the drawn image of an historic house used in the article was not the DF.  We then moved to the interior and a question lead to the fact that the DF is actually built into the rock substrate resulting in an odd series of steps above, so a move would have been particularly impossible for its fragile wooden structure.  We learned that when that owner died, the house was sold back to Dyckman family members who preserved it and gave it to New York City as a museum.

Leaving DFM behind, we strolled down Broadway past the Church of the Good Shepherd where Cole Thompson spoke briefly about the centennial of the church, which is also being celebrated this year.  A New York Times article dated October 7, 1911 describes that the land for the church was purchased from the Isham family estate.  The announcement of the purchase was actually made at the Celebration of Isham Park on September 28, 1912.
 
Moving on to the entrance to the park, the former entrance to William Bradley Isham's estate just above Isham Street on Broadway, the group then heard about the structures given with the six acres of land Julia Isham Taylor originally donated for the park.  The letter to the Manhattan Borough President in May 1911 describing her gift was reproduced in the New York Times.  Her quoted letter states, "The proposed park would include the entrance, gardener's lodge, driveway shaded by elms, and the residence, lawns, and gardens of the estate."

Cole then described the history of the mile marker built into the wall of Mr. Isham's stone entrance gate.

Next, we showed images of the gardener's lodge which stood behind and next to the Ginkgo tree. We also described the Ginkgo as most likely planted by WBI, as Samuel Isham, WBI's second son and a well known artist and author, is quoted in 1912 saying his father razed all the trees from the land and replanted "nearly all of the trees that remain." The Ginkgo also appears in a photograph on the park's 1912 celebration pamphlet.

Then we scaled the steps up to the summit of the park, pointing out the sites of the gardener's lodge and the greenhouses, using physical evidence of their foundations' footprints.

At the circular stone memorial terrace, photographs of the Isham's residence were shared and a suggestion that the principles of design of Andrew Jackson Downing http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/ajd.htm seem apparent in both the residence with its unique, cross-shaped plan and the garden, which were designed and built for the former owner, Floyd T. Ferris, a Cholera epidemic doctor.  I suddenly realized after the tour that the form of the terrace itself echos the entrance hall of the Isham residence which is described by both Helen Worden and Reginald Pelham Bolton as circular in plan.  All  of the structures in Isham Park were demolished in the 1940's during Robert Moses era as Parks Commissioner.   (More on that in the lecture on June 24th, see next June 2nd blog entry for calendar). 
 
Cole then showed some amazing family photographs of the William H. Hurst House which is located next door to the site of the Isham residence at the corner of West 215th and Park Terrace East.  Descendants of the Hursts (the couple had 13 children) discovered his blog myinwood.net and the entry he put up about the history of the house http://myinwood.net/william-a-hurst-house/.  They are now in touch with each other and Cole, greatly expanding our knowledge of the house and their Irish American family.
Tour at the SD Arch. Photo: Jeff Dugan

Cole then spoke about the now lost Seaman Drake estate mansion and its replacement by the Park Terrace Gardens apartment complex designed by Albert Goldhammer and completed in 1939. We then descended the West 215th Step Street, hearing about its soon-to-begin reconstruction guided by the architecture firm WXY http://www.wxystudio.com/, which preserves the historic composite material and the steps double-sided configuration and two historic lampposts that remain.

The tour strolled a block north to the entrance arch of the Seaman Drake estate on Braodway.  We were able to enter the arch and look at its interior, so that the tour could gain real insight into its structure.

We crossed the street to look at the site from a distance and Cole called attention to the new Campbell Sports Center for Columbia University under construction at Baker Field on West 218th Street and Broadway.  Designed by Steven Holl - http://www.stevenholl.com/project-detail.php?type=construction&id=121&page=0 - who teaches at Columbia, an architect with international "starchitect" status, the building created controversy in Inwood when its contemporary design was revealed a few years ago:
http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20110420/washington-heights-inwood/columbia-hold-community-meeting-about-baker-field-construction


and http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20110217/washington-heights-inwood/columbia-universitys-baker-field-plan-gets-citys-approval/slideshow/popup/61086

With that, the June 2nd tour concluded.  Please come to the next tour on June 9th:
10:00am, meet at the Inwood Hill Nature Center, West 218th Street

peninsula in Inwood Hill Park
Shorakapok: Native Americans of Northern Manhattan
Northern Manhattan has a vibrant history of the Nativespeoples of this land.  The Urban Park Rangers along with Harlan Pruden, a member of the Cree Nation, will lead am interactive lecture and walk on the Lenape and other Native Peoples of Northern Manhattan as they also explore the Indian rock shelters and Inwood Hill and Isham Parks.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May 19, 2012: It's My Park Day in Isham Park

Please come out and...





















PARK LOCATION: West side of Broadway across from and between West 212th and West 213th Streets, take either entrance path up to the Isham family memorial terrace area (follow signs)

DATE:  Saturday May 19th

TIME:  10:00am -1:00pm

CREATE: Please bring copies of photographs, articles, and other mementos of Isham Park or come prepared to add your memories and help begin a Centennial Celebration archive

PLANT: Help enhance the memorial with summer plantings; please wear appropriate clothing for gardening.  Gloves and tools will be provided.

WITH: Friends of Indian Road Playground http://www.firp.org/ Volunteers for Isham Park, Isham Park Centennial http://www.facebook.com/IshamParkCentennial , the Partnerships for Parks, and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sticktopia! Damp, but not in sprirt!

Sticktopia was a great way to celebrate Earth Day!
Rain largely held off until a lean-to structure was designed and created by Caleb and Nolan, next to the eastern corner of the Indian Road Playground fence (just in front of the location of the photo at left).  Tweeks and adjustments were made by a group who arrived in time to relieve the wearied Stickarchitects.

Thank you to Rob Kleinbardt of New Heights Realty for
once again donating bottled drinking water for the volunteers! And also thank you to Manny Ramirez at Dichter Pharmacy for donating double-sided copies of the Sticktopia flier!

Volunteers also cleaned up conditions along the north side of the playground, pulling weeds, collecting branches, bottles, and trash, including a dried out Christmas wreath and tree (see photos below).

Anyway it was great to have rain for Earth Day after so many days without it!  And it made weed pulling much easier too...

Thanks to everyone who came out in the damp conditions to volunteer in Isham Park today!
Now on to It's My Park Day on Saturday May 19th.  More soon...

Stickstructure from the western side showing holiday inclusions.
The Stickarchitects pose in their new stickstructure.










Christmas tree found dumped into the garden.



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sticktopia! on Earth Day, Sunday April 22nd



Sticktopia! an Isham Park Centennial Event
for children & their families& kids at heart…
Earth Day, Sunday April 22nd
10:00am to 1:00pm

Location:  
South side of West 214th Street along the north side of  Indian Road Playground and the south side of the West 214th Step Street between Seaman Avenue and Park Terrace West

  • The second in a series of Isham Park Centennial events, this celebration calls special attention to the 1912 gift of land by Flora E. Isham which preserves the view west towards the Hudson River and the Palisades.
  • Families and children will collect sticks/branches and may use them to create temporary structures in the park!  Please note that families should work with their children and supervise them at all times. 
  • Volunteers will work to clean-up the 214th Street park areas.
  • Please wear appropriate clothing.