Manhole covers first appeared in the late 1840 with the coming of gas companies and waterworks. Originally, their surfaces had raised patterns so horses’ hooves wouldn’t slip. And how do I know this you may ask? Because I went on a very interesting tour of the manhole covers of 14th Street, sponsored by the Municipal Arts Society and led by artist Michele Brody. Ms. Brody efficiently managed about 40 people strolling east from 9th Avenue, pausing to examine different designs made by different entities over the years. At one point we stopped to see a coal chute that allowed fuel to be funneled directly into the basement of brownstones so that coal dust wouldn’t sully the living spaces of the house.
Near Union Square is a cover designed by Lawrence Weiner installed in 2000. In collaboration between Con Ed and the Public Art Fund, the cover reads “In Direct Line with Another & the Next,” a reference to the city’s grid. Brody herself designed a good-looking manhole cover that was installed but somehow (sadly) has been removed. The tour ended at the Con Ed Building to see the Millennium Cover.
As the weather finally warmed, Memorial Day weekend was a perfect time to visit Governor’s Island with one of my daughters and a friend. Crowded although not overly so, my guess is that on a weekday morning you’d have it almost to yourself. The ferry trip takes about seven minutes while providing a stellar view of the NYC harbor. The island housed a colonial militia in 1775. Along the way it served as a military administrative and training center; army music school; federal arsenal and more. Currently, 22 acres are designated as the Governors Island National Monument and administered by the National Park Service; 150 acres are administered by The Trust for Governors Island. Plans are afoot (assuming enough money is raised) to further improve the already pretty nice park. As part of the visit, we went to Colonial Landing for a chamber concert by the highly-regarded Parker Quartet.
On Memorial Day itself, I went to the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn where the likes of Leonard Bernstein, DeWitt Clinton, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Jean-Michel Basquiet and others lie. The concert, played by the Interschool Orchestra of New York, was pretty good but conductor and host, Brian Worsdale, should rethink his introductory speechifying. Pieces ranged from Something’s Coming from West Side Story to Moon River.
All this to say that New York has a zillion slightly off -beat places to explore and enjoy. Bet you knew that.
Since there’s no real thread to this anyway, I’m digressing further by including a recipe for a Lemon Glazed Loaf I made for Mother’s Day.
Lemon Glazed Loaf (Pound) Cake — courtesy Ina Garten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.
Very lemony. Nice served with fresh raspberries. I shudder to think of what their carbon footprint was as they were not yet in season. Nice served with coffee or Prosecco (as what isn’t?)