between, doors open
play of pink
mixed with marigold—thresholds
inviting blue skies
A shadorma for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday Color Poetry writing prompt and Dan Antion’s Thursday Doors 2022 Writing Challenge. For today, I’ve chosen these colorful doors from Susan Kelly. You can see photos of all the doors available to write about here.
Here’s some colorful doors I saw recently at PS 84, on West 92nd Street.
And some blossoms in Riverside Park.
we mark time
with numbers, naming
and then divided—each month
we begin again,
of days in
in fact they overlap—clouds,
sun, showers, flowers
A small shadorma chain for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday theme of beginnings and endings, picked by Yvette M. Calleiro. I meant to do something completely different with the circles of flowers I cut out, and perhaps I’ll explore that idea later. I got distracted with layering them in different ways.
When I was out walking yesterday I discovered a community garden on West 90th Street–full of tulips. I’ll be visiting it again, to see what’s in bloom in the coming months.
balconies they call
two voices linger on a
midsummer night’s dream
247, 248, and 249 Central Park West have a number of Juliet balconies, as the NYC real estate market has labeled any small terrace outside an upper floor window or door on which you can stand. Once there were 6 brownstones on the block between 84th and 85th street.
The entrance to 247 is the simplest. The original six homes were designed in the late 1800s by architect Edward Angell in a variety of styles, each with its own facade. When builder Sam Minskoff proposed demolishing all six in 1925 to build a two-tower apartment building, the owner of 247, architect W. Gedney Beatty, refused to sell. This saved not only his house, but 248 and 249 as well. They were landmarked in 1988, and so can not be demolished for any future development.
248 has a variety of stonework that includes owls on the side and what appear to be griffins over the door. Each side of the door surround is different. This house sold for $26 million in 2022–it has a lap pool, a landscaped rooftop garden, and 4 Juliet balconies.
The front gate is also quite beautiful.
249, the corner house, was divided into apartments in 1957. A lot of the facade ornamentation was removed and the house was painted white. After the Landmarks designation, because of building violations, the owner was forced to strip off the paint and restore the masonry. I wonder if the door guardian in the triangle is a restoration, or remained to be uncovered at that time. I remember the building being worked on for many months.
249 sold for 17.5 million in 2013 and again spent many years being renovated and turned back into a single home.
It too has a lovely front gate.
And beautiful ironwork on the side entrance.
Edward Angell designed many homes on the Upper West Side, and I hope to visit and photograph more of them.
My poem was written for Ingrid at dVerse, who proposed a celebration of Shakespeare. What better than a Juliet balcony?
And, as always, find more doors with host Dan Antion, here.
Kiss—he still longed for
her smile, touch–
he thought it
lost, but it surfaced, wistful,
as a song of love
Long a musical fixture in Central Park, the Naumburg Bandshell was the site of John Lennon’s eulogy in 1980.
We were much much younger then…
In 1904 philanthropist Elkan Naumburg began funding free symphonic concerts in Central Park with picnics and waltzing under the stars. They were so popular that the crowds grew too large for the space; the original cast iron pagoda bandshell was razed, the grounds were paved over, and Naumburg’s nephew, William, designed a new limestone bandshell. It was completed in 1923, with 10,000 attending the symphonic dedication.
I was wandering around the park recently (actually on my way to an appointment on the East Side, but I got distracted) when I found myself in front of the bandshell. It looked forlorn without any performers on this grey windy day. A few other people stopped to take photos then went on their way.
The Bandshell has a rich history, including performances by Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, and the Grateful Dead, as well as numerous orchestral and operatic groups. Martin Luther King Jr and Fidel Castro both gave speeches here. It was nearly razed in 1992 after years of vandalism and neglect, but preservationists, spearheaded by Naumburg’s grandson, won a court battle to save it. Renovation was delayed by the city until 2003, when the Central Park Conservancy raised funds to restore it.
Summerstage began its free concerts here in 1986. Because the park was considered so unsafe at that time, the concerts were only given during the day. The large crowds resulting from its popularity caused it to relocate to Rumsey Playfield in 1990, where it remains. Sun Ra and his Arkestra and Ladysmith Black Mambazo were two of the original acts that performed.
My John Lennon-inspired shadorma is for Merril’s prompt at dVerse, where she has given us a selection of English rose names to use in our verse. I chose Julia’s Kiss. John said when he wrote his song he was thinking not only of his mother, Julia, but his wife, Yoko. Love is complex.
You can read more about the Naumburg Bandshell here and the gathering for John Lennon here. I unknowingly lived for a couple years right down the street from John and Yoko in the Village, before they moved into the Dakota, and once saw John in the subway, running to catch a train uptown.
And, as always, there are always more doors to see on Thursday Doors. Visit host Dan Antion here.
Mirrored and split apart by space and time–
the architecture of a larger age
rises above instead of seeking rhyme.
Waves of the future on a bigger stage
eliminate most ornament–design
for residents desiring to upgrade.
No need for detail, guardians of stone–
clean lines, refinement, now adorn their homes.
I was walking along West End Avenue when I spotted some window guardians on a brownstone and took a few photos–then right down the street there was a mirror image house. This made me curious. Had it always been this way? Now there was a large mostly brick apartment building in between.
A little research showed me that yes, the block had once been all brownstones. Here’s what I found on Landmarks West: These two noncontiguous brownstone fronted rowhouses, each twenty feet wide, are four stories in height above raised basements and were designed as mirror images.
They go on: The houses at Nos. 605 and 615 West End Avenue are survivors of a ten house row which originally extended from No. 601 to No. 619. Designed by Thom & Wilson, this row was built between January and October of 1888 for Bernard Wilson, principal in the architectural firm. The row occupied the entire western block front of West End Avenue between West 89th and West 90th Streets and included large houses at the corners. The row was first broken in 1916 when Nos. 601 and 603 were demolished for a twelve story apartment building, again in 1925 when Nos. 607 to 613 were demolished for a sixteen story apartment building, and again when Nos. 617 and 619 were demolished for a fifteen story apartment building.
I do admire the way Rosario Candela, the architect of many apartment buildings in NYC, designed the larger building so that the bottom part echoed the lines of the two surrounding brownstones. I could not find a photo of the street as it originally was, but I bet there were more guardians to be found on those houses.
The brownstones have been slightly altered over the years, so they are not exactly alike now. But they still have their window guardians. This one, at 607 West End Avenue, is evidently still a private home.
615 West End Avenue is a rental–in fact the upper triplex is for rent right now for a mere $16,000/month. If you want to see the listing, and take a virtual tour, you can find it on Streeteasy, here.
I myself love to look at real estate listings. There’s nothing for sale right now in the larger building, but here’s the listing for the most recent sale if you’d like to see what the apartments are like. This is considered an aspirational-size apartment for all New Yorkers–“7 rooms”–most people occupy much smaller (and darker) spaces.
My poem is in the ottava rima form, for Muri’s April Scavenger Hunt.
And you can find more Thursday Doors at host Dan Antion’s site, here.
Dazzled by the promise of gold
the touch of Midas casts its net–
a hand that remains always cold
locked in a prison of regret.
Segregated behind closed doors
accruing unpayable debt–
too haunted to go anywhere–
locked in a prison of regret.
Tarnished by jealousy’s blindness
darkness grows, becomes a death threat–
drinking and drugs lead to madness
locked in a prison of regret.
I took these photos of the entrance to 57 West 57th Street after a dactor’s appointment there–the building was constructed to be, and still is, primarily medical offices. I was especially taken by the griffin-like creatures at the top of the arch and the scale stonework surround. The patterning above the door is quite wonderful too. I couldn’t quite get the entire door into the close up–I would have had to step out into traffic, unfortunately.
When I looked for the history of the building, I found a number of strange tales were attached to it. Soon after the Medical Arts Sanitarium opened in 1928 on the 14th floor, a patient threw herself out a window.
But the penthouse, which for some reason contained living quarters, has had only tragedy attached to it from start to finish. The details are hazy–I found a number of slightly different versions of the story online–but the first owner, Edna Champion, was a gold digger whose old and very wealthy husband conveniently died in Paris after a violent altercation with her lover, Charles Brazelle. Edna and Charles moved to New York; Edna bought the entire Medical Arts Building with part of her inherited riches so she and Charles could occupy the penthouse.
Needless to say it did not end well. The relationship descended into chaos–and Edna was either murdered by Charles or died of drugs and drink (or both). One of her bodyguards then tossed Charles out a window to his parallel death.
A later tenancy by Carlton Alsop also ended badly. The place was said to be haunted, and his new wife left within a year. Alsop later had a mental breakdown himself, and eventually ended up as a patient in one of the medical facilities in the building below.
The penthouse had a new brief life as an art gallery opening in 2011, but it closed after several years. I could find no information on any current residents there. But the rest of the building still houses medical offices.
Here’s a bit of a happier gold–signs of spring in Central Park. Colleen’s #TankaTuesday prompt is once again a color theme. I chose gold, and wrote a kyrielle. It’s one of the prompt forms from Muri’s April Scavenger Hunt–I’m doing NaPoWriMo at kblog but thought I’d slip one of them in here.
You can read more about the history and see more photos of 57 West 57 Street here.
And as always Dan Antion is the host of Thursday Doors.
And I couldn’t resist including the great Shirley Bassey.
The paper waits.
There’s nothing on it yet.
I print the photo,
measure in my mind
where to place the door.
Is that the focal point of my drawing,
or is it the guardian, the mirror?
The paper waits.
With tentative lines,
my pencil begins.
Lines, circles and squares
fill in the details.
And then with pen in hand I scribble ink–
and gradually a form starts to appear.
I’ll be the first to admit that architecture is not my artistic forte. Still, since Colleen’s #TankaTuesday prompt was to share a photo from your day and write a poetic accompaniment, I decided to give it a try for my Thursday Door. The poetic form I used was Duodora.
I don’t always pencil in things first, but in this case it seemed necessary if I wanted any kind of successful result. The proportions are off, but you can definitely tell it’s a door.
And you might even recognize it as the side door to the Lucerne Hotel, on West 79th Street. The entrance is quite wonderful too, but I’ll need to get up early to try to capture it when there’s not much traffic, as I need to take the photo from across the street. The Lucerne was used, controversially, as a shelter for the homeless during the Covid lockdown, but I think now it’s back to just being a hotel. You can read a bit more about its history here.
Too many glass boxes
disguised as buildings–
a mirror of themselves–
I prefer a threshold
under a stone guardian–
one that remembers landscapes
filled with foliage and wings.
I’m lucky to live in a city with a political climate that leans towards saving some of its beautiful architecture. No, they don’t build them like this any more–it’s too expensive.
Here’s another guardian on West End Avenue, with some lovely metalwork too.
Another door with multiple guardians. When I looked through my photos, there were a lot of them, but I’ve saved some for future posts. And I’m sure there are many more left for me to discover.
The poem was written for Sarah’s dVerse prompt, where mirror was one of the suggested words.
And as always find more Thursday Doors here.
a book of luminous things–
the sun and the moon,
the beautiful things that heaven bears
St Agnes is now my local library branch. I’ve been going there for years, though, because once a month, pre-pandemic, they had a booksale in their basement with thousands of books, CDs, DVDs, and paper ephemera donated by patrons. I’m anxiously awaiting its return, not only as a source for books to read, but for inexpensive reference books for my collages.
I decided to do a book spine poem in tribute–the top two books are books I’m currently reading, and the bottom one is one I’ve already read, all courtesy of sales from years past. All highly recommended.
Here’s the well-worn and welcoming front door. There’s a ramp on the left side for strollers or wheelchairs, and an elevator inside, making the books wheelchair-accessible. I was so happy when it reopened at the end of last summer.
The library originally housed the NYPL Library for the Blind, which has since moved to 25th Street. The building was designed by architectural firm Babb, Cook & Willard for the West End Club, taken over by a bicycling group, the Century Wheelmen Club, and acquired by the city in 1905 when Andrew Carnegie donated over 5 million dollars to establish free libraries in NYC. The original book collection was housed in space owned by the St. Agnes Chapel on West 91st Street, and, having outgrown itself, was sold to the city in 1901 for one dollar.
You can read a more complete history, and see more photos, here.
My mother was a librarian, so books have always had an important place in my life. Libraries are truly a gift we should support and cherish, a world of knowledge open to everyone.
And see more Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion, here.
Stop war. Help.
Where to go?
The life left.
Tried to flee.
Stop war. Help.
For what? What?
So much grief.
Can’t go back.
Stop war. Help.
I wanted to wait until the scaffolding on the left side came down to photograph St. Volodymyr, but now seems like the time to look at its front door, scaffolding or not.
The door is a simple one, of plain wood with lace curtains, in contrast to the ornate building itself. The interior is quite spectacular, to judge from the photos here. St. Volodymyr “was first constructed in 1894-96 to be a synagogue by noted New York architect Arnold W. Brunner and became a church in 1958.”
There was an interfaith prayer service held at the cathedral yesterday, attended by Gov. Kathy Hochul and other religious and political dignitaries.
Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday prompt this week was to Create Your Own Syllabic Form. I’m calling mine “333”:
3 verses/3 lines in each verse/3 one-syllable words in each line
Line one repeats as line 2 in second verse and line 3 in third verse
The words in my poem were taken from interviews with Ukrainian refugees and inspired by the signs on St Volodymyr’s door.
Dan Antion hosts Thursday Doors here.