Saturday, May 31, 2014

Groovin' By the 59th Street Bridge

I can't even imagine how many times I've driven across the 59th Street Bridge in my lifetime (aka the Queensboro Bridge), but this was the first time I've ever stood on it. My thanks to Joy for all her organizing and research. 

Today I drove from home in Holbrook to Kew Gardens and took the F train to Lexington and 63rd St. I was amazed to find myself there in 1 hour and 20 minutes. I think I set a record for getting in so fast. I did a few subway sketches of people while riding the subway.

We met at in the area where the bridge meets the water on the Manhattan side.
There was a lot going on with the two bike lanes, bikes whizzing by, and pedestrians walking.
And the traffic was close by zipping along. It was noisy, crazy and fun.
I sketched the view looking back towards the city.

It was windy on the bridge but we all made the best of it.
Here are a few sketches of some of the others at work.

I sketched some of the traffic that was crossing the bridge right next to us.

And part of the structure of the bridge.

Finally we headed down off the bridge to street level and sat opposite the Food Emporium which is under the bridge. It was a fun view to sketch.

After lunch we headed over to the promenade along the river. It was sunny for a while but then started drizzling, so we took cover under an overhang for a bit. When it stopped drizzling everyone else decided to leave. I wanted to finish my sketch and sat back down, but it started drizzling again. I finished it from under the overhang, but then it started to pour.

I stayed dry watching the rain until it finally stopped and I could head back home.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Feeling Groovy - Sketching for Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sketch Event Designed and Hosted 
by Joy Hecht

This Saturday's sketching will be - in case you haven't figured it out yet! - on and around the pedestrian walkway on the 59th Street Bridge.

For the soundtrack of the 1966 Classic: The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) click here:

We'll meet on the walkway itself at 10:00 am. The closest subway station is 59th Street and Lexington – an express stop on the 4, 5, or 6 lines (otherwise known as the Lexington Avenue IRT, for those who remember the soundtrack) and the first/last stop in Manhattan on the N, Q, and R lines (aka the BMT, for us oldies).

To get onto the walkway, walk to 60th and 1st, just on the uptown side of the bridge. The walkway is accessed from there, but doubles back towards 2nd Avenue for half a block before doing another switchback and heading up the bridge. Be careful of bicycles!

The image to the left gives you an idea of what it looks like as you head up the walkway. The satellite image below, from Google maps, shows the route to walk. According to Google, it’s 0.8 miles from 59th and Lexington Avenue to the spot on the walkway where you’re just over the river’s edge.

We start sketching on the walkway, about where the bridge is over the shoreline. You can see views like these:

At 11:15 we’ll head towards Manhattan, and settle in for a second sketching session over the land. You could sketch scenes like these:

At 12:30 we will break for lunch. So the plan is to head over to the Food Emporium that is nestled under the bridge, from 59th to 60th Streets on the east side of 1st Avenue. Emporium sells a wide range of prepared food, so we should all be able to find something we’d like to have for lunch. The store has seating upstairs with interesting views of the incredible space under the bridge. So if you want to sketch over lunch, this is what you’ll see:

After lunch our third sketching spot  is a kind of a landing along the East River just north of the bridge, marked with a “B” in the image below:

We'll be treated to views from the landing that look like these:

Of course the weather is going to be every bit as perfect as it was the day I took these photos!

If you need help finding us call Joy at, 1-202-494-1162. 
(Yes that's a Washington DC cellphone) 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Inwood Hill Park

Henry Hudson Bridge, as seen from Inwood Hill Park. I only learned the name of the bridge after performing a rapid Google Maps search, but have always been intrigued by the shape of the single arch that link the two steep hills.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Local Memorial Day Sketches

Today is honor of Memorial Day I planned to head to Sayville which usually has a lovely memorial service in Sparrow Park on Main Street. I checked the internet to find out what time I needed to be there and it said 11:00...but they were wrong. The service at the park was already over when I arrived around 10:30, and I just barely caught the tail end of the service in front of the Sayville Fire Department. I sketched two members of the color guard in front of the property as well as the memorial wreath.

When the service was over I went over to the memorial in Sparrow Park and sketched that too.

My gratitude to those who fought for our rights and freedom, 
especially those who gave their lives for us. 
First post!

George Washington Bridge from Washington Hts. lookout w/ Urban Sketchers - 5/17

The Little Red Lighthouse - 5/17
Dykman Farmhouse - 5/24
Henry Hudson Bridge from Inwood Hill Park.

The Chicken or Egg Question about the Last Farmhouse in Manhattan

While sketching the last Farm House in  Manhattan I had an interesting thought.  The house is located on Broadway, and my thought was a Chicken or Egg  type question:  

Was the Dykman house built on Broadway because that was a main thoroughfare?   Or was Broadway built to go by the Dykman house?

The Farmhouse on Broadway

The Dykman house was originally 250 acres and extended river to river from about the 190’s to 215th Street, so any major north south road would, of necessity, have passed through their property. The Dymans first settled there in the mid 1600's.  The NYC Grid system of streets was started in 1811.  

The Urban Planners who laid out the grid decided to ignore Broadway.  The old route, whose original Dutch name was Breede Weg followed the spine of lower Manhattan and passed through hills and streams using the easiest natural path from north to south.  The grid was built around Broadway creating crazy bisections that were called Squares (even though they were really more like wedge shapes), like Times Square and Madison Square (where the Flatiron building is built on a plot of land shaped like a slice of pizza).

Benches by the Garden

So Breede Weg - Broadway was a major Dutch street, but which came first?  Did the Dykmans build on the Dutch Weg, or was the street established for the convenience of a major original landholder?

View of the Back Porch

When the Dykmans first built their home they located it close to the Manhattan Indian Wickquasgeck Trial, the footpath that connected them to the Dutch settlement at the southern tip of the island.  The Dykmans probably used that path for trading.  

The settlers also used this path when they wanted to travel to the other colonies.  A trader in the New Amsterdam settlement located in what is now Wall Street who wanted to get to Boston started the journey by traveling up Broadway, using what became know as the Boston Post Road. 

Jim and Marketa at Lunch

So the answer seems to be that there was a path there long before the farmhouse was built but that it became known as Broadway after that farm was built.

Marketa and Michael Sketching at Inwood Hills Park

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sketching the Inwood Section of Manhattan

Despite the iffy weather, Urban Sketchers NYC assembled this week in
the Inwood Section of Manhattan, at the tip top of the island opposite Riverdale
in the Bronx.

Having arrived early, I walked south on Broadway from the 207th Street A-train stop
and spotted this attractive evidence of gentrification.  Didn't look occupied yet, but had
an eye-catching facade that played with depth variation on each floor of apartments.

The group gathered at the Dyckman Farmhouse, preserved as a relic of the rural farmland
that characterized the north end of Manhattan until the beginning of the 20th century.  Below the
farmhouse is a sketch of the Henry Hudson Toll Bridge that runs across Spuyten Divel to the Bronx.

Set back on the property of the farmstead is a replica of huts built in this area in the Revolutionary
War to house the Hessians, mercenaries hired from the state of Hesse in Germany by King 
George the Third to suppress the colonists.  One had to bend over to enter the hut, and it looked
none too comfortable, especially as they were occupied in the winter. A sign at waist level to the 
left gives an idea of the scale.

After a wonderful, but not costly, gourmet lunch at Beans and Vines on Broadway, we walked south to
 Inwood Hill Park, past ball fields and blooming tulip trees to the water's edge. 

 This is looking roughly north (Manhattan is tilted a bit to the east on the
top end) at the Bridge again.  The thin tan line that runs on the shore above the water is the
MetroNorth track and station for that area.

We were able to get back to the subway before the rain started, so, all in all, a really
enjoyable day!

Jim W.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

George Washington Bridge

Little Red Lighthouse under the bridge. I also decided to include some details of the bridge steel structure, which I find produces an interesting pattern.

The view of the bridge from the terrace. Curious fact: the bridge's appearance was partly an accident, as the towers were originally supposed to be covered with stone.

I must admit my favorite drawing of the Bridge is still that New Yorker cover...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Last Farm House in Manhattan - May 24th, 2014

The Dykman Farm

The Dykman Farm   A farm house in Manhattan? The Dykman family first arrived in New Amsterdam in the 1600′s.  They lived and farmed a 250-280 acre farm extending from from river to river east to west, and from modern-day 213th Street to the north down to the 190s to the south.  During the War of Independence they fled to upstate NY.  At the end of the war on returning they discovered their farmhouse and orchards had been destroyed.  The current farmhouse was rebuilt in 1793.  (You would think that would easily make it the oldest building in New York, - ... not even close.  The Wyckoff Farmhouse, on Clarendon Road in Brooklyn is the oldest surviving structure, built in 1652 - … but let's save that for another day. ) 

Inwood Hill Park is a living piece of old New York. The only park in NYC that is home to three bald eagles. Being in the woods can really make you forget that you're in Manhattan.  

It contains the remnants of Manhattan’s last primeval forest and caves where the native Lenape used to shelter.   Evidence of its prehistoric roots exists as dramatic caves, valleys, and ridges left as the result of shifting glaciers.  Evidence of its uninhabited state afterward remains as its forest and salt marsh (the last natural one in Manhattan), and evidence of its use by Native Americans in the 17th century continues to be discovered. 

 Much has occurred on the land that now composes Inwood Hill Park since the arrival of European colonists in the 17th and 18th centuries, but luckily, most of the park was largely untouched by the wars and development that took place.

Getting There: The last stop of the A Train is 207 Street. It is a two block walk south to the Farmhouse which is at the corner of Broadway and 204 Street.

What Time:  
1) We'll start at 11 AM, and will stay there until noon.
2) 12:15 Lunch at Beans and Vines , one block south of the farm at 4842 Broadway
3) 1:30 Sketching at Inwood Hills Park

Price There is a $1 admission to the Farm, the park is free

Concerns The restaurant only seats 18, if there are too many of us we may go somewhere else.

Sketch with us all day or select the portion you want.  
If you can’t find us
call Mark at 973-809-9128
(But only if necessary as I will be busy drawing too.
Thank you for understanding)

There are no sketching fees or attendance taken. All drawing skill levels are welcome.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Washington Heights - Top to Bottom

We started at the highest point in NYC and ended up by the river.  A good day for walking and sketching.  I loved the little red lighthouse.

And enjoyed sketching the two couples who were picnicking by the water.

The View

The Sketchers

John and Lucie

Svetlana and Michael

Sherry, Joan, Svetlana and Jimmy

Christine, sketching from across the street to include more in her sketch

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sketching in Washington Heights

Svetlana organized a wonderful day for us in Washington Heights. We met at Bennett Park which is on the site of Ft. Washington. Inside the park are some cannons which were fun to sketch...or climb on like the little kids did.

Next we headed down the hill to Plaza Lafayette which overlooks the river and the George Washington Bridge.

We had some regular members of the group show up to sketch and welcomed a few new sketchers.

Here are John and Mark sketching the view.





And the whole group from the morning.

Our next stop was lunch. Some of us sketched a bit. I did a woman at the next table. I used my ink pen and the crayons that were on the table. That waxy smell of crayons always takes me back. lol

After lunch we went down to the park by "The Little Red Lighthouse" also known as the Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouse. It is right at the bottom of the George Washington Bridge. It is no longer operating but is a popular spot, especially since a children's book had been written about it. I liked seeing this 40 ft structure contrasted against the huge bridge. I sketched the lighthouse with a view of the workings underneath the bottom of the bridge.

There was a group having a picnic nearby so I included them in a second sketch.

My thanks to Svetlana for organizing a great day of sketching and to all the sketchers who showed up today to make the day such fun!