Posts Tagged ‘lighthouse’

Although the Staten Island of actor Pete Davidson and Saturday Night Live is a running joke, there is more to this borough of New York City than people realize.

Liza Weisstuch at the Washington Post decided to visit as a tourist and found a lot of surprises.

“In 1916, a young woman with dreams of making it big on Broadway lit off from her home in Cincinnati, leaving her young children with their grandparents, and arrived in New York City. She never found success as an actress. Instead, she opened an antiques gallery on Madison Avenue in Manhattan and developed a keen fondness for — rather, obsession with — Tibetan art and took up residence on Lighthouse Hill, a leafy enclave of Staten Island.

“While Jacques Marchais never set foot in Asia, she accrued what remains one of the largest collections of Tibetan art outside Tibet. It’s all housed in the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, which she opened in 1947, next to her home. It took her nine years to build, during which time she collected stones in her pickup truck that were used in the construction of the museum and terraced garden.

“ ‘It’s a wonder there were any stones left on Staten Island after she was done,’ the museum’s executive director, Jeff Gaal, told me, pointing out the flat roof, trapezoidal-trimmed windows and doors with crosscut wood posts, a few of the elements in the style of a Tibetan monastery in the United States. …

“One day last spring, I sat for a while in the garden outside. It was easy to understand why Marchais found it a refuge from Manhattan.

“Staten Island, which sits 5.2 miles south of New York City’s Financial District and measures 58.5 square miles, has been called many things: the greenest borough, the Forgotten Borough, Staten Italy, the Rock, the city’s dump. (It was the site of a noxious 2,000-plus-acre landfill, one of the world’s largest, for more than 50 years. A project to turn it into green space is underway, with some sections now open to the public.) …

“Arguably today’s most famous Staten Islander is SNL prodigy and boyfriend to the stars Pete Davidson, who wrote and starred in Judd Apatow’s The King of Staten Island in 2020. …

“Over the past few months, I’ve made a few trips to the borough to see things I sheepishly and shamefully never knew there were to see. And learning what makes the island so unique has brought my understanding of New York City — and it’s no exaggeration to say other parts of the world, too — into clearer focus.

“Case in point: Tibet. And also, Sri Lanka. A community of Sri Lankans from the South Asian island nation has grown here over the past few decades. Lakruwana [restaurant], which opened its first location in Manhattan in the 1990s and its second here in 2000, is a bedrock of the community. It’s run by Jayantha Wijesinghe and her husband, Lakruwana, who met on the Staten Island Ferry. He oversees the place and decorated it with art, furniture and Buddhist sculptures he shipped over from Sri Lanka. She’s the chef, and her visually arresting dishes emphasize traditional flavor — curries and sambals. Their daughter, Julia, created a Sri Lankan museum, the first outside the country, in the restaurant’s basement in 2017. She was 18. …

“What was fast becoming an Asian-arts-oriented expedition continued a few days later when I returned to visit Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, an 83-acre campus that encompasses three museums, 14 botanical gardens, two art galleries and a two-acre urban farm where produce is grown for some of New York City’s most famous restaurants. Among the sites is the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, an otherworldly … tranquil space, a re-creation of Ming Dynasty Chinese gardens. Sounding like the stuff of fairy tales, the buildings were fabricated in China by 40 artisans, then shipped to New York City and assembled here in the late 1990s in accordance with old-world methods. That’s to say: no nails, screws or glue, just pegs securing the latticework. …

“Snug Harbor is not why people call Staten Island ‘the greenest borough.’ You can chalk that up to the Greenbelt, a 2,800-acre expanse of parks, trails and open spaces that cuts diagonally across the center of the island. (For scale, Central Park is 843 acres.) The park on top of the aforementioned dump nearly doubles the island’s green space. Red foxes, groundhogs, beavers, deer, wild turkeys and great blue herons are just a sampling of the wildlife that roam the woods and wetlands. …

“Going back to the Lenape Indians who lived here when the Dutch arrived, life and commerce revolved around the farmland. And the sea. A visit to the museum at Historic Richmond Town, a collection of 40 structures (including outhouses) on the site of a 17th-century village, offers insight on that, with its display of old local oyster shells, some as large as adult shoes. …

“A visit to the National Lighthouse Museum, located in a former Coast Guard station a few minutes from the ferry terminal, gave me a clearer understanding of the island’s critical role in the evolution of the nation’s lighthouse network.”

More at the Post, here.

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081020-New-Shoreham-SE -Light

Photo: Shadows on the Southeast Lighthouse

Time to share a few more photos from a summer in isolation. Four island photos come first. The dishrack photo is to show how I spend my time there. (LOL. I am the one, alas, who said we should protect the groundwater and not have a dishwasher. Sometimes it’s better to be pragmatic than idealistic.)

Back on the mainland, the photos reflect my appreciation of colorful summer meadows, cows, and outdoor library fun for kids. No pictures of people. I do sometimes meet a friend at a safe distance for a sandwich and a chat, but masks never make for good photos. And in my walks, I generally aim for places where people are scarce, like graveyards.

I really liked the spooky-looking crypt and wish I could be Edgar Allan Poe for a minute and invent a reason that a lock was broken.

The long shadow in the next photo is in front of a local senior-living building.

Next comes a sign at Emerson Field that struck me as funny. No golfing? There was never any golfing there. What’s the story? Someone must have tried to get around the governor’s rules in coronavirus Phase One and gotten in the way of dog walkers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in our town it’s you don’t want to mess with dog walkers.

I wonder what memories we will take away from this weird time. For me, a sign forbidding golfing where there was never golfing might be one.















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Photo: AllAboutBirds.org

Not being ashamed to admit that I’m one of the birdwatchers in the family — and being attached to all things Rhode Island — I was concerned to read about the disappearance of the herons that used to frequent Rose Island.

According to the Associated Press, “No one is quite sure why the herons have disappeared from Rhode Island’s Rose Island, but one group wants them back. The Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation has started a $100,000 campaign to restore the habitat for herons and other shoreline birds on the 17-acre island in Narragansett Bay. The executive director of the foundation, David McCurdy, told the Newport Daily News that there were about 300 pairs of herons laying eggs on the island a decade ago, but now there are none. Some experts believe the disappearance has to do with the impact of humans, but others say it could be changes in the food supply or an overgrowth of brush on the island. The foundation plans to clear out specific areas and plant cedar trees to attract the birds.”

Read more at the website for the Rose Island Lighthouse, which, by the way, is an operating lighthouse where you can spend a night or a week if you want to investigate the heron situation yourself. Here’s what the lighthouse website says about overnights:

“not an inn — not a b&b — but an operating lighthouse where you can become the keeper.  you have two options.

“1. stay over night in the museum on the 1st floor or

“2. become keeper for a week or a night and stay on the 2nd floor

On second thought, you may not have time to investigate the heron situation.



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