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Saturday October 10
E. L. DOCTOROW IN THE BRONX
The prominent writer E. L. Doctorow was considered "one of America's greatest novelists" and was the recipient of numerous writing awards. Born in the Bronx, Doctorow – the son of second-generation Americans of Russian Jewish extraction – was perhaps presciently named after the beloved Bronx writer, Edgar Allan Poe, whose home still stands not far from Doctorow’s own Bronx neighborhood of Mount Eden. Join with Urban Historian Jean Arrington and explore the Mount Eden neighborhood where E. L. Doctorow grew up. Explore Doctorow’s childhood memories and their impact on his career as a great American writer.
In his 1985 novel World's Fair about the Depression-Era Bronx, Doctorow states, "Every neighborhood had its school like my school, its movie, its street of shops built into the sides of the apartment houses; it was tunneled with subways and bound together with trolley lines, and elevated lines."
Jean Arrington writes: After hearing Doctorow give a reading from World's Fair, I was inspired to read the book. I was then inspired to read it again, underlining all the specific addresses and places. One Saturday morning I met a friend at the 174th Street stop on the D train, my list of places in hand: Doctorow's house at 1650 Eastburn Avenue, the apartment on the Grand Concourse they moved to during the Depression after his father's music business had failed, his school PS 70, the ovals in Mount Eden Avenue, the Surrey Theater where on Saturday mornings for a dime Edgar would see the newsreel, two feature films, a serial, and a cartoon, the public library on the forbidding Irish and Italian side of Webster Avenue, the sites of the lying-in hospital where he was born, the synagogue his grandmother attended, the drugstore where she bought for her asthma a “medicinal leaf legally available without a prescription.”
While delving into the author’s childhood memories, I discovered a small enclave of the Bronx that hadn't changed significantly since Doctorow had loved those streets as a little boy.
Saturday October 17
A JOURNEY TO HISTORIC & REVITALIZED HARLEM
Culturally and architecturally, Harlem is one of this nation’s most remarkable neighborhoods. Our tour will begin on “Sugar Hill” – noted for its grand homes, churches, and world-famous institutions. Join Justin Ferate at the delightful community garden near the former Harlem castle of James Bailey of Barnum and Bailey Circus.
As we stroll downhill to the Harlem Valley, we’ll view charming streets with handsome 19th century rowhouses. We’ll also view the recently re-sited Alexander Hamilton Grange and City College, the Gothic “castle on the hill” which boasts of eight Nobel Prize winners. Discover “Striver’s Row,” Abyssinian Baptist Church, and (time permitting) the Schomburg Library – with its splendid murals by noted African American artist Aaron Douglas. Discover sites associated with Ma Rainey, James Weldon Johnson, “Fats” Waller, Langston Hughes, the Delany Sisters (“Having Our Say”), Zora Neale Hurston, Dorothy Maynor, and America’s first self-made female millionaire, Madam C. J. Walker. The tour will address the ongoing revitalization of this nationally historic neighborhood. During the course of the tour, we’ll also explore often-overlooked Harlem sites.
Saturday October 31
SNUG HARBOR, CHINESE SCHOLAR’S GARDEN + NATIONAL LIGHTHOUSE MUSEUM
Travel with Justin on the Staten Island Ferry for several remarkable experiences. Immediately upon arrival in Staten Island, we’ll travel by city bus for about ten minutes to our first destination: Snug Harbor. Originally known as Sailors' Snug Harbor, this impressive complex consists of a collection of architecturally significant 19th century buildings set in an 83-acre park along the Kill Van Kull waterfront on the north shore of Staten Island. United States. Today, the buildings and grounds of the former Sailors’ Snug Harbor are used by arts organizations under the umbrella of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.
Amazingly, Snug Harbor includes an impressive array of 26 Greek Revival, Beaux Arts, Italianate, and Victorian buildings. The site is considered Staten Island's "crown jewel" and "an incomparable remnant of New York's 19th century seafaring past." Snug Harbor is a National Historic Landmark District.
While at Snug Harbor, Justin will lead a private tour of the Chinese Scholar’s Garden – an authentic Chinese garden designed in the ancient traditional style – with walls, rooms, bridges, reflecting pools, moon gates, waterfalls, and contemplative plaques with poems in Chinese. The building materials were all imported from China and the garden was constructed by a team of forty Chinese artists and artisans who came here from Suzhou in China – where these gardens can traditionally be found.
We’ll lunch on the grounds of Snug Harbor and then return by city bus to the Staten Island Ferry. Adjacent to the ferry terminal is the National Lighthouse Museum, where we will take a private tour of the collections and the site. The site was specifically selected for the National Lighthouse Museum because of its historic significance. The museum building was once the home of the United States Lighthouse Service Depot, which was established at this location on the New York Harbor in 1864.
We’ll take a private tour of this new museum and the site to discover more about the role of lighthouses in New York and in national history. Then, we will travel back to Manhattan by way of the Staten Island Ferry.
Tour fee includes all admissions.
Saturday November 7
BUS TRIP: THE ROEBLING MUSEUM & THE VILLAGE OF ROEBLING, NEW JERSEY
What an adventure! Join Justin Ferate on a visit to The Roebling Museum and the “model workers’ community” of Roebling, New Jersey. The Roebling Museum’s mission is to document, preserve, and exhibit the history of the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company, the Roebling family, and the village of Roebling. Its focus is not only on the industrial and technological achievements of the company but on the unique social history of its workforce and the town it created. The Roebling Museum is located in the former factory’s Main Gate building (ca. 1907) and is adjacent to the village of Roebling, one of this nation's most intact “model workers’ communities.” The museum and village are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tour fee includes Bus, Luncheon, Tour costs, Admissions & Gratuities.
Saturday November 14
OLD AND NEW PENNSYLVANIA STATION + THE HOUDINI MUSEUM
Join Justin Ferate as we examine the history of New York’s great Pennsylvania Station. We’ll explore the past, the present, and the future plans for Pennsylvania Station.
By viewing actual remnants of the former Pennsylvania Station still on view and through photographs, we’ll explore countless aspects of the building – both in the past and the present. We will also visit the Pennsylvania Station Post Office to discuss the proposals for transforming it into an exciting addition to the Manhattan streetscape: Moynihan Station.
End the tour with a visit to unusual Houdini Museum of New York, which has on display several hundred of the most rare and most important pieces that were used by and personally belonged to Harry Houdini. In the museum’s archives are over 1,500 pieces of Houdini memorabilia that allows for ever-changing exhibitions. Since we’ll be visiting a “magical place” – there’s even a rabbit!
Saturday December 12
BRUNCH + “THE ZIEGFELD CLUB” WITH LAURIE SANDERSON
OPEN TO ALL!
This year, the Annual Wolfe Walkers Holiday Brunch will incorporate a very special slide presentation about “The Ziegfeld Club” and its long and rich association with the Ziegfeld Follies. We’ll meet guest lecturer Laurie Sanderson, a former actress and playwright, who is the Executive Director of the Ziegfeld Club – founded in 1936 by Florenz Ziegfeld’s widow Billie Burke. (You may remember Billie Burke as “Glinda the Good Witch” in “The Wizard of Oz.”) Ms. Sanderson’s grandmother was a Ziegfeld Girl and a club member, and Ms. Sanderson spent her adolescence meeting the last “Follies” performers, listening to them play piano, sing, and reminisce about the days when they would perform in three “Follies” shows a night – followed by the exclusive “Midnight Frolic.” This slide presentation will prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Come join us!
Tour fee includes: Brunch Selection with one drink and illustrated lecture, “The Ziegfeld Club,” with Laurie Sanderson.
Reserve now! Space limited to 38 people.
Justin Ferate's Tours of the City
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