Friday, July 31, 2015

365 Project: Days 204-210

204/365: I tried to savor my through-Central-Park-commute and passed by some really cozy trees along Fifth Avenue.

205/365: JMP, Jim and I said goodbye to the Market Diner, one of the last stand-alone diners in Manhattan // We spotted some wonderful signage on a not-so-wonderful walk through Times Square.

206/365: We came back to my dude's apartment and noticed some neighbors staring up at the roof, where this wasp nest is hanging. We watched them work for a while, and I wish I could get them to help me with my move—wasps are crazy fast, efficient and meticulous.

207/365: I started packing. Side note: books are HEAVY.

208/365: The universe decided that moving wasn't stressful enough, so I got a cold, took a sick day and tried to keep up with packing in between the napping and the nose-blowing.

209/365: Sleeping in the living room because that's where this magical device lives.

210/365: Atlas Obscura hosted a tour/medical photography lecture in the fascinating rare book room at the New York Academy of Science. It was a great night filled with medical oddities, skin-disease stereoscopes and various rolling library ladders that made us feel like Belle in Beauty in the Beast—if Belle was into medical curiosities (she probably was?).

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fordham University

Last summer, after I toured the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in the Bronx, I headed down the road to explore Fordham University. Poe used to wander around the campus and his famous poem "The Bells," was allegedly inspired by the ringing bells of the University Church.

Fordham is a private university and I was surprised when I was stopped by a security guard upon entering the gates. He asked what I was doing at Fordham, and for my ID, but let me go ahead when I told him I was "just looking around." I was a bit taken aback by the exclusivity of the campus, but once inside, I was grateful for the solitude.

The campus is really, really beautiful, with tree-lined paths, large, manicured lawns, gorgeous flowers, fountains, statues and wonderfully-imposing buildings that scream COLLEGE. While most of the campus felt very historic and well-preserved, there were some modern additions thrown in for a nice juxtaposition of the old and new.

I even came across a surprise cemetery, which is my favorite kind of surprise. Fordham was founded in 1841 as St. John's College by the Catholic Diocese of New York. According to a plaque outside the gates, the cemetery is the final resting place for "124 sons of St. Ignatius Loyola, 68 Jesuit priests, 44 Jesuit brothers, 12 Jesuit scholastics ... 3 Diocesan Seminarians, 9 students and 2 college workmen."

It only seemed right to end my day of all things Poe by listening to the ringing bells (What a world of merriment their melody foretells!) of University Church. The church and courtyard are really beautiful, and the campus was nearly deserted the entire time I was there. Listening to the bells ringing was such a wonderful, peaceful moment and I got major nerd-satisfaction thinking that Poe might have had a very similar day, more than 150 years ago.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Market Diner

Last spring when I read that there are only five stand-alone diners left in Manhattan, I made it my mission to visit them all (here, here and here). It wasn't hard to do so since I love diner breakfast more than anything, and five is a very depressingly low number. Even more depressing: last week I found out that the Market Diner—one of the best—is going to be replaced by a 13-story apartment building.

The Market Diner opened in 1962, closed in 2006 and reopened again in 2008 after a renovation. Not only is it a one-story structure surrounded by high-rises, but it has parking and space for outdoor seating (set up last year, but not when we went on Saturday). It's these things that make it remarkable in modern-day New York, and of course, they're the things that have made it endangered for quite some time. Currently there is no set date for demolition, but the diner is on a month-to-month lease and permits have been filed for the apartment building.

The zig-zag roof and metal diner sign are perfect, although an even better neon sign was an unfortunate victim of the renovation process (where do these gems go??). The inside was also stripped of most of its character and modernized, with chairs instead of counter stools, but the orange-and-brown color scheme still feels retro enough to count.

Our breakfast on Saturday was bittersweet—joyful because there's nothing better than a good diner breakfast with friends and sad because it's probably the last time we'll be able to have that at the Market Diner.