Skip the Bus Tours and Go Canoeing on the Bronx River Instead

Friday, August 22, 2014

Canoeing on the Bronx River Canoeing on the Bronx River gives a rare glimpse of part of New York that few people--residents or tourists--get to see. (T. M. Rives/Courtesy of the author)

Even lifelong New Yorkers don’t know every corner of the city, but New York offers endless opportunities to step off the beaten path and explore hidden places. T. M. Rives, author of the Secret New York series tells us about the New York’s hidden gems and best kept secrets. His books map out secret gardens, Indian burial grounds, fossils on the sides of buildings, find a Venetian palazzo above a former stable and spot a forbidden island that was once declared a sovereign nation by a guy in a rowboat.

Let us know what your favorite hidden place in New York is!


T. M. Rives

Comments [13]

Ditto on art525's comment re: the Koch administration creating the "Don't Even Think of Parking Here" signs. He definitely did. I remember them well, especially as they were in the Koch "voice" of his mayoral era.

Aug. 24 2014 05:11 PM
Dan from SI

North Brother Island

An urban explorer's dream.
Perfect for an overnight camping trip.

Aug. 22 2014 10:36 PM
Mike S. from Tribeca

This is from
Republican Alley. Formerly ran west from Elm Street (now Elk Street) and then south to Reade Street. The name Manhattan Alley was often used for the Reade Street leg and sometimes for the Elm Street leg as well. It was closed about 1990 for the new Federal courthouse at 290 Broadway.

Aug. 22 2014 02:04 PM
Lee from Fort Greene

The crypt at the Prison Ships Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park is the largest American Revolutionary Burial Gorund in the United States. The monument is a memorial to the 11,500+ prisoners of war who died on British prison ships in New York Harbor.

The annual tribute ceremony is being held tomorrow (23 August) at 10 am at the monument in Fort Greene Park.

Aug. 22 2014 01:06 PM
ansi from Ft. Tryon

This guy seems to know less about New York than the average New Yorker. Attention young radio producers: Just because a publisher's publicity department declares someone an expert, it ain't necessarily so. A couple of years ago Brian Lehrer had some guy on who claimed to have invented a car that created energy while moving -- which as most of his listeners immediately pointed out violates several laws of physics.

Aug. 22 2014 12:48 PM
KC Dougherty from Ridgewood, NJ

I believe that two of the Penn Station eagles are in Ringwood State Park at the entrance to the botanical gardens at Skylands Manor.

Aug. 22 2014 12:36 PM
art525 from Park Slope

A quick search of Wikipedia reavealed this-
The catchphrase as used by the Pepsi ad was based upon a similar phrase, "Don't even THINK of parking here", which came into use on no parking signs in major cities such as New York City and Chicago.[2][3] The signs first appeared in New York in 1982 during Ed Koch's mayoral administration.[4][5]

The link't_even_think_about_it!

Aug. 22 2014 12:36 PM
Joseph Bell from Downtown

The Penn Station Eagles are displayed at the Hicksville Long Island Railroad station

Aug. 22 2014 12:35 PM
Joe Mirsky from Pompton Lakes NJ

Subway Garnet

In August, 1885 a huge red garnet weighing 9 pounds 10 ounces and 7 inches in diameter was unearthed on West 35th st. near Broadway in Manhattan during excavation for a subway. Or maybe it was a sewer, but Subway Garnet sounds better.

Some accounts say the garnet was used as a doorstop in either a shop or the Department of Public Works. But eventually the garnet made its way to George Kunz (1856-1932), an eminent mineralogist. (You may have a pink gem named for him, kunzite).

Kunz gave the garnet to the New York Mineralogical Club which later donated it to the American Museum of Natural History. Many fine mineral specimens have come from Manhattan.

Copyright © Joseph Mirsky 2014

Aug. 22 2014 12:32 PM
art525 from Park Slope

Your guest says that the sign near Rock Center that says "Don't Even Think of Parking Here" is not a real sign but I remember those signs being posted by the Koch Administration and getting lots of news coverage. There used to be a number of them around town.

Aug. 22 2014 12:31 PM

Can't post photos? I have a great one of the "monument" in Battery Park.

Aug. 22 2014 12:22 PM
Joe Mirsky from Pompton Lakes NJ

Wampum was made from two types of shell. White beads were made from whelk shells and purple from the shell of the quahog clam. The beads were cylinders about 1/4 inch long and 1/8 inch in diameter. Wampum was strung and sold by the hand length and the fathom, 6 feet, approximately 360 beads. The purple quahog beads were worth twice the white beads.

With European contact came metal tools that helped the Indians make more and better wampum beads. In 1622, a Dutch trader named Jacques Elekens seized a Pequot Indian chief named Tatobem in retaliation for Pequot raids and threatened to kill him unless he received a “heavy ransom.” 140 fathoms of wampum, 50,000 beads, were given by the Pequots but Tatobem was killed anyway and his body given back to the tribe. A horrified Dutch West India Company recalled Elekens.

But this incident caused the Dutch to realize the value of wampum to the Indians. They obtained wampum from the coastal tribes who produced it in exchange for trade goods: blankets. cloth, tools, guns and gunpowder. They then used the wampum to buy beaver pelts from inland tribes which were much valued in Europe for hats. The British followed suit and wampum became New World currency. In 1637, wampum became legal tender in Massachusetts.

There were problems with quality early. In 1641, only 17 years after its founding, the New Netherland colony, Dutch settlements from New Amsterdam (Manhattan), up the Hudson to Fort Orange (Albany), found it necessary to pass an ordinance devaluing poorly made wampum. There were counterfeiting problems, too. White wampum would be dyed with huckleberry juice to pass it off as the higher priced purple wampum. This was easily detected by spitting on it to see if the color would rub off.

During the 1650’s wampum drastically declined in value relative to beaver due to oversupply in New Netherland, dropping 25% by 1657.

By the 1660’s wampum was demonetized in favor of coin in the British colonies but still used in the Dutch colonies which were dependent on the beaver trade and this was the only payment the Indians would accept. Wampum was used in the fur trade into the 19th century.

Conrad Weiser, Indian Interpreter and negotiator for the Pennsylvania Colony mentions wampum many times in his journal of 1748:
Hired a Canoe; paid 1,000 Black Wampum [purple] for the loan of it...
...I desired of them to send a Couple of Canoes to fetch down the Goods from Chartier's old Town...I gave them a String of Wampum to enforce my Request

in 1789 the Campbell family set up a factory to manufacture wampum in what is now Park Ridge, N.J. By 1830, wampum had declined as currency for the fur trade. The Campbells made hair pipes, long shell tapered beads made into breastplates and other ornaments for the plains Indians into the 1890’s.

Copyright © Joseph Mirsky 2014

Aug. 22 2014 12:22 PM
E. Okobi from Brooklyn

Europeans don't have a "longer" history than the US, we just typically are not taught about the civilizations of the pre-Columbian Americas with the depth and knowledge that European history is taught.

Aug. 22 2014 12:20 PM

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