Thursday, October 15, 2009

New York City Never Cease's to Amaze...Underground Railroad, On My Block.

I love this city, plain and simple.   It has been my home off and on for the past 14 years (Jesus, I'm getting old) and I fell in love with it the minute I got here. Of all the traits, the amazing people, art, food, architecture, music, nightlife, the one that seems to seep into everything is the History of this town.  I can't walk more then a few blocks on a sunny day and not help but think of the millions of people who walked the same block before me.

Whitman talked about this beautifully in Leaves of Grass, particularly in the Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Section:

I too lived—Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine;
I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan Island, and bathed in the waters around it;

I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me,

In the day, among crowds of people, sometimes they came upon me,

In my walks home late at night, or as I lay in my bed, they came upon me.

NYC History came up and slapped me in the face just recently.  It hit me where I live...literally...on my block this happened....

Camera phone pic taken Oct'09

Pics, Video and a whole bunch more after the jump.
It is amazing, when we first moved into our 'hood I did a bit of research into some of the surrounding homes/businesses and it was pretty cool. William Butler Yeats' father lived in a boarding house right on 29th and artists were constantly flocking there.
Then I found out about the famous houses just up the block from me that were known as the Lamartine Abolitionist Homes.

The homes use to be the residence of the Quaker Abolitionists James Sloan Gibbons and Abigail Hopper.  Gibbons wrote the Civil War Poem "We Are Coming Father Abra'ham" and almost immediately composers put it too music, this is a great Youtube Video explaining the poem/song:

The House itself served as a stop on the Underground Railroad for Slaves fleeing the South.  Famous American Abolitionists Horace Greeley and John Brown both stayed there often.  Fern Luskin wrote a great letter about the houses, and surrounding buildings to the Landmarks Preservation Company, if you are interested it can be read right here, the site also contains a bunch of info regarding the Underground Railroad if interested, and groups working today to preserve it.  History is everywhere in this town, and it is kinda cool that it is right on my block.

 Camera Phone Pic taken Oct'09

Fern is an interesting cat in her own right, here is a NY Times article on her and here is another Youtube Clip where she talks about the houses and the project:

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