Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Day They Took King George's Statue down in Bowling Green NYC

Jack Stanley, a tour guide and historian who works with Uncle Sams, writes a great piece on the Bowling Green issue.

On July 9, 1776, there was a rush to tear down the statue of King George the 3rd in Bowling Green Park. How did it happen and why? It seems that the Declaration of Independence was read in New York for the first time on that summers day.

Who was it read for? George Washington's troops that were located where New York's City Hall is now located. It has always been my belief that George Washington's troops were celebrating the release of the document. I would not be surprised if they had been drinking.
They came down full of revolutionary excitement to the Bowling Green Park. Tore off all the crowns on the fencing around the park. Then they came into the park and toppled the gilded lead statue of King George the 3rd.

The statue was chopped up and shipped to Connecticut. It was there that King George's statue was made into over 42,000 bullets. Therefore the King's lead would be fired at his own troops.

It was the beginnings of a revolution. But what is not usually known in our history of New York is that New York City during the entire American Revolution was occupied by the British. In fact the British flag flew over New York City as the battle for Independence was fought on many fronts.
Today we always talk of our independence taking place on July 4, 1776. That is the common day we have claimed as the date we wished to get it, but to be honest, independence was declared on July 2, 1776. The paperwork was signed on the 4th.

This of course did not mean we were independent at all. In fact the United States was not truly independent till November 25, 1783. That date was called "Evacuation Day". This was the day the British Flags went down over New York City and the American Flag went up for the first time in the city as well.

That in many ways is our true Independence Day. For that is the day we truly got it!

Today as you walk by Bowling Green Park, you can feel the history and see the original fence that surrounds the park, minus it crowns of course. That is where it all began in the American Revolution in New York City. Look around and feel the history, it is all around you.

For New York is also a city in which the history never sleeps as well.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Interesting NYC tidbit of the day - Shadowlands

One of the most famous plays in New York City opened this day 19 years ago. Shadowlands, a piece inspired by C.S Lewis (famous for his ¨Chronicles of Narnia¨), has played over 169 performances at the Brooks Atkins Theater and continues to amaze audiences.

Shadowlands was originally conceived by Norman Stone as a drama for Thames television. In 1983, he tapped Brian Sibley, the author of C.S. Lewis Through the Shadowlands: The Story of His Life with Joy Davidman, to research and write the script, which they called Surprised by Joy. Thames television lost interest in producing the project but refused to release the rights to Sibley¹s teleplay. Stone then engaged William Nicholson to compose a new text. This version became Shadowlands and was produced for bbc television in 1985. It featured Joss Acklund and Claire Bloom. Nicholson subsequently rewrote the work as a stage play, incorporating considerable new material

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

That Amazing Apple We Call Big

With Bloomberg and Thompson heading off the November 3rd election, it's interesting to think what NYC has gone through in the past few years. Alot of the rhetoric against Bloomberg is that he's put us in this financial collapse and doesn't deserve to be re-elected. Let me begin with the fact that I'm not endorsing Bloomberg or Thompson. But it may be interesting to analyze what NYC has gone through in the past 8 years.

With the financial collapse of the markets, many think of NYC as a fallen city. "It's no longer the financial capital of the world", "No one wants to go to NYC anymore", "It's not as cool" (and any other cliched one liners you can think of). But the reality is far from such baseless remarks.

More people have immigrated to NYC in the past eight years than ever before. Tourism is at it's highest, and while unemployment is high, people are beginning to find jobs every day. Companies are hiring, revenues are returning and people are smiling again. Everyone I know still love to live in NYC. Many are taking jobs with less pay simply to live in the amazing city of ours.

I personally remember moving to NYC many years ago and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I was so happy all the time. I barely knew anyone and life was rather monotonous (that is if you ignore the craziness of NYC itself). But that's really it. It's that the city is a character in itself. It's energy, it's unpredictability and it's beauty will never be gone.

NYC Marathon 2009

While many of us were still hungover from a fantastic Saturday night Hallow's Eve, thousands of eager and much too in shape runners took top form at the NYC Marathon---the most coveted marathon in the world. Covering all 5 boroughs, the NYC Marathon, brings the best from across the globe in one of the most athletically challenging competitions ever. Congrats to all who attempted to finish, all who did finish, and of course to the first American winner since 1982, Meb Keflezigh.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Night Club Spotlight: Marquee

It's hard to talk about NYC nightlife and not bring up Marquee, where stars like P. Diddy, Scarlett Johannson, and Michael Phelps have partied. The West Chelsea hot spot has been ranked #32 on the 2009 Night Club & Bar Top 100 according to and appeals to those who want the high-energy of a large club while still maintaining the intimacy of a smaller one. The firm of Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Archiects along with nightlife designer Steve Lewis, created the ultra-lounge that opened in December of 2003. Johnson is known as the dean of 20th century American architecture, creating Manhattan landmarks such as the Lipstick Building and the Seagram Building. He finished up his designs for Marquee shortly before his death, but there is no doubt that his fine work will continue to be praised.Marquee is set apart from other venues by it's architectural originality but some connect it's style with that of a classic gentlemen's club. The main cabaret space was created by carving out the original roof and replacing it with a 24-foot vaulted ceiling and decorated with lighting fixtures to highlight the signature 35-foot wishbone staircase. The night club features three distinct areas; the main room which tends to play house/techno, the second level where one hears hip/hop, and the Red Room which is tucked in the rear of the main room (ideal for intimate interaction). Each of the rooms come with a full-service bar where one can enjoy a cocktail for a steep $18 on a busy night.
Natural woods, glistening brass, glass accents, and the plush, leathery banquettes add to the luxurious ambiance of Marquee, which entertains thousands of guests weekly. The club uses its own chic tableware and top of the line audio and lighting technology. It has a capacity of 600 people so don't surprised if you don't get in if you're only decently dressed, with a group of guys, or refuse to shell out the average cover of $25. The crowd tends to comprise of many Europeans due to its international praise, which may or may not be what you're looking for. It is also a wise idea not to bring too much into the Marquee because the coat check will charge you for each item you wish them to hold. Hit up Marquee if you're looking for a luxurious night in NYC and you're not on a budget. Play your cards right and you may just bump into one of your favorite celebrities! Check out a video of Marquee during New Year's Eve 2007 to get a better feel of what you'll be experiencing inside.

Get more info on one of Chelsea's hottest night club's at Marquee's official website here.

To skip the lines, get free drinks, meet new people, and go home with a story in clubs like Marquee, be sure to reserve your spot on the Chelsea Night Club Tour operating Friday and Saturday nights.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Neighborhood Focus: Hell's Kitchen

Hell's Kitchen refers to the area between 34th Street and 59th Street from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River. The neighborhood has been home to gangs and violence in the past but has transformed into a lively area frequented by actors and some of NYC's best bars. Irish immigrants settled in Hell's Kitchen in the mid-19th Century, falling victim of the Great Famine in their home country. These immigrants found work on the docks and railroads, but soon overpopulated this "land of opportunity" and the increasing poverty led to gang formation. It was around this time that the neighborhood was coined the name "Hell's Kitchen" even though it's exact origins are not known. Some claim Davey Crockett started the term when he used it to describe the Five Points slum, while others claim the name is traced back to particular tenements in the area. One thing is for certain, it did not have a positive connotation.
Gangs were on the rise through the next several few decades, with increased violence during Prohibition and the arrival of Puerto Rican immigrants in the 1950s. The hostility among the Puerto Rican, Irish, and Italian immigrants in the area is highlighted in the film West Side Story. The Irish-American gang, the Westies, who had violent tendencies and ties with the Gambino family, controlled Hell's Kitchen from the mid-1960's through the 1980's. In 1986, convictions under the Rackateer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act haltered the gang activity in Hell's Kitchen, and by the early 1990's, the neighborhood was in full swing of a gentrification.
With the prominent Midtown as its neighbor, Hell's Kitchen started to become more elite as Midtown continued to prosper. Young professionals and actors moved into this area and continue to enjoy the close proximity to the business district and Broadway theaters alike. Some celebrities that have lived in Hell's Kitchen include Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stalone, Jerry Seinfeld, Madonna, and Alicia Keys. Despite the increasing prominence of the neighborhood, we will never forget the famous gangsters like Owney Madden and James Coonan that dominated Hell's Kitchen before all that. The municipality, gentrifies, and real estate agents tend to refer to the area as "Clinton" to erase the reputation of the neighborhood's past, but Hell's Kitchen will always be Hell's Kitchen.To get a more in-depth and interactive history of Hell's Kitchen as well as enjoy a few beers at historic bars in the area, check out the Hell's Kitchen Pub Crawl offered Wednesdays at 7:30 pm.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Fraunces Tavern Welcomes The Magna Carta

This blog entry features information from an article by Annaline Dinkelmann in Guidelines, the Guides' Association of New York City newsletter, Matthew Baker - editor. For more info on GANYC, visit

Fraunces Tavern has earned its title as a New York City landmark considered to be Manhattan's oldest surviving building. It was also the site where General George Washington bade farewell to his officers at the end of the Revolution before returning to his home in Virginia. This historic bar will again go down in the history books this Fall when it hosts the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta was drawn up in 1215 to limit the powers of King John of England, which also served as a catalyst for the pursuit of liberty. It played a critical role in history of democracy and still has a huge impact on human rights. The document will be on display in an exhibit from September 15th - December 15th, 2009, which will reveal how the roots of the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights all trace back to the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta has voyaged overseas from its home at Lincoln Cathedral in England to New York just twice, making this a truly rare event.

Tickets available NOW
Order tickets online:

Order tickets by phone: 1-866-468-7619

Exhibit Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 12 Noon - 6:00 PM
Closed Monday

School group tours:
10:30 AM - 12 Noon
Call 212-425-1778

After-hour group tours can be arranged.
Contact Visitor Services at 212-425-1776, ext. 18
Or 212-425-1778

Adults ................................ $10.00
Seniors [65 and over] ............ $5.00
Children [6 to 18] ................. $5.00
Children [5 and under] .......... FREE

Your admission to the exhibit will also gain you entrance to our Dunsmore Gallery with its magnificent paintings depicting Revolutionary War scenes, the historic Long Room where George Washington bade farewell to his officers, and the elegant Clinton Dining Room. The exhibit will be an experience rich with stories of American patriotism and the history of liberty itself. You don't want to miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity!

For additional information on this exhibit click here.

To learn more about the history of Fraunces Tavern as well as other NYC landmarks in the area, be sure to book your spot on the Alexander Hamilton Financial District Tour.