My Manhattan (with doors)

I spent my childhood in Ohio and Maryland,
but for most of my life I’ve lived in Manhattan.

The name comes from the language of the Lenape people,
recorded in the ledger of Henry Hudson’s ship, Half Moon, in 1609:  Manna-hata.

“the place where they gather wood to make bows”–
the Lenape valued the hickory trees of Manhattan.

My first residence was a dorm room on West 27th Street;
My first job was in a clothing store on Lexington Avenue.

The Number 1, the 42nd Street Shuttle, and the Number 6–
those were my first subway lines in Manhattan.

My work offices were mostly in the Garment Center on Broadway,
but one was on the Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan.

When I freelanced most of my clients were located between 34th Street and 42nd Street–
but I also worked for people in the West Village, on the Lower East Side, and in Soho in Manhattan.

I have lived on or near West 21st, 27th, 82nd, 95th, 111th, 113th, 135th, 152nd, and 162nd Streets,
and on Bank Street, Hudson Street, Broadway, and West End Avenue in Manhattan.

Clinton Street was where I lived in Brooklyn–
but it didn’t take me long to return to Manhattan.

The Garment District, the West Village, Chelsea, the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, Harlem, Hamilton Heights, and Washington Heights—
those are the regional names of the places I’ve lived in Manhattan.

I have always wondered if my Dutch ancestors, the Van Lents, lived in New Amsterdam–
or if I am the first descendant on my mother’s side to reside in Manhattan

Sherry at earthweal asked us to consider the names “of the places most beloved to us.” I don’t think she was thinking of cities, or of numbers as names, but Manhattan island is, and has been, my home, where my history resides, for 50 years now. And many of its names are numbers.

For Thursday doors, I could only find photos of the front doors of 3 of my residences. I took the top one recently–it’s my first uptown apartment, a Columbia University building, where I moved during a transition period in my life. A former roommate, then a Columbia grad student, lived there with her roommate and a rotating series of friends and boyfriends.

Here’s the inside of the apartment door where I spent the early lockdown of the pandemic. Not very appealing. But my windows looked out on the subway and a playground and Broadway. Noisy but light.

Here’s the inside door of my apartment now–much more to my liking, even though you walk right into the kitchen. And I also have lots of light, my top priority in a living space.

My poem was inspired by Natasha Trethewey’s wonderful ghazal “Miscegenation”.

And you can join in Thursday doors here.

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About memadtwo

For more madness, follow me on Instagram @h_zimel methodtwomadness is a blog of two friends, Nina and Kerfe kblog is Kerfe's solo branch on the tree

32 responses to “My Manhattan (with doors)”

  1. Dan Antion says :

    These are wonderful doors, and I love the way you chose to share your history with your island home. I visit Manhattan two or three times a year – in normal years – and I usually begin my journey stepping off the train into Penn Station. I hope to see it soon, but…

    There are so many doors and so much history in your home. I love visiting, and I appreciate you sharing your doors.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Manja Maksimovič says :

    Thank you for all your personal doors and domiciles. “My Manhattan” sounds to me like “my Tuscany” might sound to another. The 434 is rather splendid. I can see your collection of the door guardians. 🙂 May they keep guarding you well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • memadtwo says :

      Thanks Manja. I rescued most of the guardians from my younger daughter’s discard pile. She was happy to see them again when she came to visit, though. I knew they would come in handy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. robbiesinspiration says :

    Hi Kerfe, it is interesting to learn a little bit about your personal history and see the doors of your apartment. I’ve never lived in an apartment, only in a house with a garden.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rall says :

    Gosh….what a contrast to the outback… seem like a very cool sophisticated person….Don’t worry, when I visit you I am not going to wear my akubra hat or my rm williams country boots..LOL …Enjoyed your poem and pics.


  5. boundlessblessingsblog says :

    Marta, loved your home the door is so nice and serene and interesting to know about these doors and their lovely and beautiful history. The poem was too good too. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sherry Marr says :

    I LOVE all the doors! And the background of the name Manhattan is fascinating. What an awesome place to live. You have gone in and out of a lot of doors. Smiles. I loved this post!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • memadtwo says :

      Thanks Sherry. Yes I have–hopefully I can stay where I am for awhile. It was interesting reading all the conjectures about what Manhattan means…it took some native speakers and linguists to put it all together. I’m not sure there are any hickory trees left though.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. dennyho says :

    That you have photos of several of your past doors is fabulous! Enjoyed the walk through Manhattan and your doors.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ingrid says :

    Your poem and the photos really bring Manhattan to life: I’ve seen it in so many movies, but it’s not the same as living there, or seeing it through the eyes of someone who did. It’s like London, all you ever see on TV are the tourist hotspots, but I love all the hidden places.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. davisbrotherlylove says :

    Doors are great subjects. I once looked for a door that Walker Evans photographed only to find it no longer existed. Nice work, Kerfe!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bela Johnson says :

    Beautiful doors! I love the architecture found in big cities. Yet alas, i must live in the wilds. But oh! 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  11. merrildsmith says :

    A fascinating tour of doors through Manhattan (and your life in it). It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Manhattan, and I do not know it really at all. Strange, when it’s not that far away. But I do enjoy walking around in Philadelphia–though I haven’t been there much since the pandemic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • memadtwo says :

      We’ve all seen our worlds shrink. I used to go to Philadelphia to museum shows I wanted to see, and I was there and in Boston often when my girls were in school. I even went to Baltimore several times to see art exhibits.. But I haven’t taken a train since before the pandemic.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Brendan says :

    Manhattan here is a near-infinite portaging, of presence and absenting, moving on and about. There was a 40 year gap between the summer I lived in Manhattan with my father (down off Chambers Street) and when I visited the Hearst building and Rockefeller Center next on a business trip 5 years ago. The gap allowed me to see the city’s leap. But living there is to enervate its busy crawl.

    Liked by 1 person

    • memadtwo says :

      My daughters went to high school on Chambers Street so I know that area well. Forever changed by 9/11.

      Even month to month things keep changing. But many people I know have stayed put in one place, or at least they did until the lockdown. Another reshuffling of the wheel…


  13. msjadeli says :

    Fascinating post, Kerfe. Good to learn where you’ve been on the island. Might be a fun art project to mark where you’ve lived on it with memories of each place. So neat you’ve taken pictures of doors of previous residences. I saw that one of your previous place and see the new one has a much better look to it. I hope you’re able to stay there awhile.

    Liked by 1 person

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