Happy Halloween from New York City

Look what I had the good fortune of seeing at the Wednesday matinee.

Great music and dancing with the play told from Otis’ perspective. He began the group and was the surviving member of the original cast which began in the 70’s. New folk are still dancing and singing the songs! If you get the chance take in the play as it’s entertainment value is 5 stars.

Currently am at JFK and boarding soon for the flight to Germany to embark on the Rhine River Cruise. Will keep you posted. Maybe I can do a daily blog as the WP AP seems to be user friendly. 😊. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

LaGuardia Airport Rebuild

Built in 1939, La Guardia Airport is the 21st busiest airport in the country, and while once a showplace, she needed a face lift.

A Happy Moment

This face lift boost came in a speech by then Vice President Joe Biden. In his speech on America’s crumbling infrastructure he stated, “I must be in some third world country,” referring to LaGuardia Airport. This put New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in overdrive and by 2016, plans for the largest combined private and public venture ever were unveiled and began.

Cost: $8 billion with the private sector picking up 75% of the tab. Quite a feat, hats off to Andrew!

Much has been accomplished since this unveil, and now in the final 2 years things are becoming more challenging. This was one of those days. As I sadly left the City with 3 hours till takeoff I found myself taking a different bus number and a new route. While I enjoyed the scenery I was unsure I was on course, but, as the bus turned the directions proved correct.

Arrived..

With the new garages and most concourses completed major terminal construction is underway. Traffic is challenging as how do you reconstruct an operation that still continues to operate? It’s tricky to say the least.

Not Purple

As I departed my NYC bus I was unfamiliar with the new arrangements. Seeing a uniformed Delta employee I asked for assistance. She said stay with me and that I did as we mounted the Purple Bus, (which was not purple), and made our way to the terminal. Doing all these new maneuvers was time consuming, however, I arrived at my gate with 30 minutes to spare.

Suggestion: Add an extra hour if you are using LaGuardia Airport and once she’s back in her glory send the Governor an email of thanks..

https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form

One of the new terminals

NYC Summer 2019: The Cooper Hewitt Museum

On the east side of Manhattan on 2 East 91st Street, is a museum jewel, The Cooper Hewitt Museum. This museum is the Smithsonian Design Museum and housed in the family’s former mansion. It is home to the Target Design Center.

Peter Cooper, (1791-1883), patriarch of the Cooper-Hewitt family, was an inventor, manufacturer, and philanthropist. He is probably best known for “Tom Thumb,” the first steam locomotive. He wished to benefit society by helping his fellow man, and was much loved. The first free institution of higher education for young men and women in the nation, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, was created by Cooper, and he ran as a 1876 presidential candidate in the Greenback Party. Did I also mention he created jello? Well, he did.

Cooper and his wife, Sarah, had one daughter, Sarah Amelia, (known as Amelia), and in 1855 she married Abram Steven Hewitt. Hewitt, son of a fine cabinet maker, later became a businessman, and mayor of New York City in 1887. There were 6 children from this union.

It was a busy social life for the Hewitt children as successful and prominent people of the era were often at their homes in New York City, and Ringwood, New Jersey. All were immersed in the arts and education.

Hewitt’s daughters, Sarah and Eleanor, wanted to fulfill their grandfather’s long dream of a museum and began to purchase items on trips abroad for later inclusion in the museum. The decorative art items purchased were books, drawings and textiles. By 1897, the dream was achieved and the museum began.

Sarah and Eleanor never married but had fulfilling lives in their work and travels. Besides the museum home there is a fascinating Cooper-Hewitt summer home in Ringwood, New Jersey, which can be toured.

I began the tour with the video on the home in its prime which was hidden on the second floor to the left of the staircase. It is a must see.

Much of the mansion furnishings are in storage, however, pieces are brought out for display on occasion. The Cooper Hewitt collection has more than 210,000 objects and are digitalized. For questions as you tour feel free to ask security staff as they are knowledgeable and accessible.

On the museum ground floor items are displayed from the winners of the National High School Design Competition. Here’s a design winner which is now located in the museum gardens. Surprisingly, the chair was a comfortable and fun seating. Love the color..

Cooper wanted the theme of his museum to be for the advancement of science, and in this first floor wing it certainly is. Multi-colored DNA pictures are posted along with video explanations. I was unaware of the beautiful colors of DNA. There was also an orthotic electrical hand on display. But, perhaps my favorite was the hydroponic growing system seen behind this glass enclosure.



On the second floor patrons are allowed to develop their own designs via computer. These designs are then broadcast on the walls of the room. Works can be reclaimed or forwarded to home ports.

Textiles and the history of the paisley print was also displayed on this floor. The Hewitt sisters, Sarah and Eleanor, were known for their eccentric qualities. Perhaps this is best seen in the 1865 Steerhorn Chair from San Antonio.

And as you depart take time to stop by the gardens. Science and nature are here at its best.

Radio City Music Hall: The Showplace of the Nation

On 1260 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan is The Showplace of the Nation, Radio City Music Hall. This building was the first of the Rockefeller Center Complex. Built in 1932, the 9 million dollar investment came from a joint venture of 8 million Rockefeller dollars and 1 million Roosevelt Work Program Administration dollars. In today’s terms this venture would have cost 150 million dollars.

This 6,000 seat theater has 5,000 lights, and its original 1932 curtain weighing 4,000 pounds. It was the brain child of designer Roxy Rothefel, an American theatrical entrepreneur. Opened December 27, 1932, Irving Berlin, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh, were a few of the celebrities at the premiere.

In 1999, this designated historic landmark underwent a 70 million dollar restoration. The renovation was done to upgrade the technical and mechanical sections of the theater, however, engineers found these components sound. Therefore, the original 1932 mechanisms remain.

The stage is the size of an entire New York City block and made of metal. Stage sections are movable and can raise as high as 13 feet. The hydraulic elevator can lift 81 tons. During World War II engineers studied the mechanism and implemented some of its components in their aircraft carriers. Because of this during World War II the hydraulic elevator was guarded by the military.

Tony

Those who have performed at the theater is a listing of musical royalty such as Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Maria Carey, Lionel Richie, Beyonce, and Jay Z to name a few. Bette Midler holds the record of 30 sold out performances. Besides musical talent the stage has also lent itself to the award shows such as the Tony’s, Grammy’s, as well as the WBNA basketball games, and, of course, the annual Christmas show with its elaborate pageantry. The Hall welcomes 2 million visitors a year.

Entering the theater lobby The Fountain of Youth mural graces the far end of the foyer. This mural made in a tennis court was shipped to the Hall in pieces for direct wall application. The art deco piece graces the majestic stairwell. Designer Rothefel based some of the Music Hall’s designs on cruise ship decor and one can witness that in this grand stairwell.

At the end of the lobby another majestic staircase leads to the original 1932 bathrooms. This lower level area was painted black in an effort to block or reduce voices. The sculpture, Spirit of the Dance, a controversial nude statute, guards the bathroom lounges.

Inside the ladies lounge murals describing the history of cosmetics adorn the sitting area. Original pedal push hand dryers and pedestal sinks from 1932 remain as well as a sitting area for primping.

The mens lounge also has a phenomenal mural.

Outside of the actual men’s room toilets.

Directly across from the bathroom is a mural, Fantasimo Goria, which rests above the concession stand.

Next on our visit was the stage area and dressing rooms for talent and this includes the live animals of the Christmas show. Since camels are large animals they are housed on stage level and walk from their dressing room to stage. The same animals return annually to perform and live in an Upstate New York Farm when they are not working. During show season each morning these animals are exercised on the streets of the City to the delight of many.

Elephant walking up the stairs. Only in New York..

While on the subject of animals.. At one point an elephant was brought to perform at the theater. Because elephants fear structures without underpinning the elephant took the stairs. This photo is a piece of Radio City Music Hall history.

A private apartment was built for designer, Roxy Rokefel, and this apartment also holds original furnishings from 1932. Sadly, Roxy never saw the actual completion of the theater, however, some say they have seen him in spirit as he roams the upper balcony.

This dance has been done since 1932.

All that said… let’s talk Rockettes!

This famous dancing group began in 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri. Roxy Rokefel brought them to his New York City theater and transitioned them to Radio City Music Hall officially naming them the Rockettes.

The original 1932 costume shop still remains with the budget for costumes that year $1200. In 2000, a Swarvoski crystal costume cost $10,000 for one and with 80 rockettes – well, I’ll let you do the math.

The height requirement for a Rockette is between 5’6″ and 5’10 1/2″. Annually, the Rockettes audition for their spot with job longevity for troupe members usually 10 to 15 years and one gal in her 20th year. ‘

Auditions are a 2 day process held in April and up to 600 audition, however, some years there are no openings. During the audition 3 dancers dance together where they tap, kick and do a routine. Retaining dance step information is key during these auditions as in the course of a show there are up to 900 dance coordinates.

If interested, (and we had a gal on the tour who was), an intensive summer program is conducted for 6 days to prep for the Rockette audition. During this program the participants actually learn part of the show.

On stage the tallest Rockette is placed center with tall, medium tall, and medium height gals surrounding the center position. During the Christmas show season there are 6 performances daily. Rehearsals begin months before with 300 hours prior to performance of 6 hours per day, 6 days a week. As showtime gets closer rehearsals are Monday through Saturday, 1pm-10pm.

The Rockettes have dressing rooms proximate to the stage as their fastest costume change is 80 seconds. If someone takes a tumble another Rockette must be suited up in 30 seconds to complete the show. For each show there are 36 kickers and 4 swing kickers just in case. And you thought they were just a pretty face!

All this info was relayed by an actual Rockette. Note picture. I am on the right. Chuckle….

Rumor has it — Radio City is considering reviving their Easter Show…