The Solar Eclipse of 2017 in NYC
The Solar Eclipse: A Shared American Communal Experience
I set about to experience the solar eclipse of 2017, departing for Manhattan at about 1.30 – a bit after the eclipse was to begin. As I made my way to the subway, I met a woman who was heading to Hunters Point South Park to do the same. She offered me the use of her eclipse glasses, which I examined but it was far to early to really use.
The eclipse glasses were opaque and I couldn’t see through them. Apparently they only work when you’re looking at the sun. The glasses this woman had were sponsored by Cisco Systems through a science camp in Rochester, NY. Consumers were advised to be careful about which eclipse glasses to use, as apparently some would not filter out the harmful, eye-damaging rays of the sun. One eclipse audience member told me that the glasses were being sold online – ten for $100. I’ll have more about the protective glasses a bit later as I used the glasses to take what I would call ‘meaningful’ photos.
There were many reports published about how one can damage their eyes by looking directly at the sun. The Washington Post noted that the damage can begin in as little as one and a half minutes, and that looking at the sun in a sequence of little peaks at a time, may not prevent you from doing real damage. It’s worth noting that one can also damage their camera by pointing it directly at the sun for a long period of time. The New York Times noted that the longest the full eclipse will last, is less than three minutes, and that in many places in America it will last less than a minute.
Historically, it’s worth noting that the moon eclipsing the sun happens every 18 months, but most eclipses happen over the oceans which cover about two thirds of the planet earth surface. According to the New York Times, the last time America experienced a full solar eclipse was in 1918, a full 99 years ago, so few if any who are old enough to experience the eclipse this time, are likely to see it again.
The eclipse began along the west coast in Oregon at about 1.15 pm, the peak was at about 2.45 pm and the final was at about 4 pm. I’ll note a few of my times as we run through the rest of this report.
Anyhow, I arrived at Lexington and 77th Street about 2 pm, about 45 minutes before the peak of the eclipse. A few folks were standing in the street looking up, so I shot a photo of the sun at that time, but it didn’t look like much at the blinding rays of light blocked any real photo clarity.
Rest of story with plenty more photos coming later Tuesday 8/22.
5 Boro Bike Tour Rides On ...
The 5 Boro Bike Ride has Become an NYC Cultural Institution
The 5 Boro Bike Tour pedaled through the five boroughs on Sunday, for its 40th year. I have been covering the event for nearly a decade, enjoying conversations with the riders as they make their way through the streets of New York City, without having to contend with hostile traffic. It's a family-friendly event and helps fund bike safety and repair programs designed to teach children and adults how to enjoying bicycling in an urban environment.
Brief History of the 5 Boro Bike Tour NYC
The following is a summary of the 5 Boro Bike Tour history, gleaned from the Bike New York website at www.bike.nyc.
The event began in 1977, starting with a conversation between Sal Cirami of the American Youth Hostels bicycle committee and Eric Prager of the NYC Board of Education. Sal was interested in creating more bicycle-friendly streets, while Prager had been asked to develop a bicyle safety program for NYC school children.
The program started with bicycle safety and repair, and the 5 Boro Bike Ride was to be the culminating event for the participants. Thus on June 10, 1977 Sal, Eric and 250 entrants - most of which also came from bicycle clubs - made their way from Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, down through Brooklyn, over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Staten Island, ferrying back over to Manhattan, and traversing up through Manhattan to the Bronx, before crossing over the Throggs Neck Bridge back to Queens, terminating at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The streets weren't closed, but the riders were provided with an NYC police escort.
The next year, the newly-elected Mayor Koch, supported the idea of a 5 Boro Bike Tour with city resources. The ride was shortened to 40 miles and the NYPD shut down a moving 40 block long section of streets to pave the way for the cyclists to pass. That year the cyclist count rose to 3,000. Two years later, in 1980, the MTA subway workers went on strike and the 5 Boro Bike Tour participation swelled to 12,000 and then grew to 32,000 before the city capped the ride at that number where it has remained ever since.
5 Boro Bike Tour: Queens, Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn & Staten Island
According to Bike New York, this year the 5 Boro Bike Tour attracted 32,000 participants from all 50 states and 65 countries. It was a cool, cloudy day with temperatures in the 50's and 60's. In the mid / late afternoon came a bit of drizzle, but by then I believe most - if not all - had completed the ride. I made my way up to the Astoria rest stop where vast crowds of cyclists converge beginning at between 8 and 9 am and which then continues for a couple of hours, before tapering down by around noon.
I arrived on the tail end of the ride, where I could watch the bicyclists who preferred to take the ride slowly, were streaming along northward along the eastern perimeter of Astoria Park. I made my way down to the rest stop, located in the parking lot just under the RFK / Triborough Bridge, where there were toilets, food and bike repair services available to the riders on their 40 mile journey.
One of the riders I conversed with later that afternoon told me it was exhiliarating to see New York City on bike and to be joined by so many other bicycle enthusiasts from around the city, nation and planet. The entrance fees [$100 for a standard ticket / packet] from the 5 Boro Bike Tour go to Bike New York which is a non-profit dedicated to teaching cyclists about bike repairs and bike safety. Registration generally starts the second week of January and closes out fairly quickly as the 5 Boro Bike Tour is limited to 32,000 cyclists. TD Bank was the sponsor this year as it has been for a number of years.
Century Bike Riders Stream Through Manhattan
TA Queens Volunteers Work Astoria Park Rest Stop
Normally the bike ride is on the second Sunday in September, but because 911 fell on Sunday the ride was scheduled for Saturday. The weather could have been much better for a one hundred mile bike ride through all five NYC boroughs, but what are you going to do.
The Century Bike Ride was started by Transportation Alternatives in 1990, long before there were any real bike lanes in NYC. The first ride attracted about 200 riders, while the ride in 2012 attracted over 6,000 riders. Since that first ride, literally hundreds of miles of bike lanes have been mapped out in NYC; and the city plans to expand NYC bike lanes by about 50 more miles in 2013 - ten of which will be laid out in Queens. This expanding network of bike lanes is due in part to the work of volunteers of the non-profit organization Transportation Alternatives.
Century Bike Ride Map & Route Through Manhattan & NYC
The cyclists start at times ranging from 6.30 am to 8 am and the ride runs through the entire day, ending at 5 pm. There are a number of different ride options, starting with the ride that made the Century Bike Ride famous, which is 100 miles. There are four other bicycle ride options, including 75 miles, 55 miles, 35 miles and 15 miles. The ride starts at both Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Based on the bicyclist growth spurt we’ve seen in the past year in Queens, it wouldn’t surprise us to one day see Astoria Park added to the starting roster [but at this point this is purely our conjecture]. See map to your left showing the Century Bike Ride with five different colored routes based on mileage.
Cyclists Times For The Century Bike Ride
We understand that the average rider bikes through the Century Bike Ride in Manhattan and NYC at an average of about 10 – 12 miles per hour. The folks in a hurry can do north of 15 miles per hour, but the roads are not blocked off for nearly all sections of the ride, so the Century bike riders in Manhattan and the other four boroughs must share the road with vehicles. This is in contrast to other rides done earlier in the season like the 5 Boro Bike Ride which comes through Queens, wherein 30,000 people bike 42 miles of the city in a several hour mass movement, which includes complete cordoning of the roads on the route, or the Tour De Queens bike ride where 2,000 cyclists are provided with a police escort for a 17 mile ride through Queens neighborhoods.
TA - Transportation Alternatives Volunteers & Rest Stops
The rest stops are operated by the volunteer committees of Transportation Alternative [TA]. At each rest stop TA Volunteer Committees generally have a dozen or more people working the food tables, which consisted of fruits and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. There are also benches and port-a-potties made available to cyclists at the rest stops.
Tranportation Alternatives Events & Rides
I spoke to one of the volunteers about how the TA Manhattan & Queens units are organized. I was told that there are a number of different groups which are lead by coordinators and managers.
For example in Queens, Steve Scofield is the goals manager, Ian Hardouin is the new member outreach manager, April Tubbs is the social media coordinator, Julie Dubovsky is the events coordinator and Karen Lehman and Nancy are the co-coordinators of the Queens TA monthly ride.
Special thanks to the volunteers of TA Queens for all the work they do to help cyclists in the five boroughs of New York City.
Manhattan Swimming Pools - Public Pools in NYC
Includes Maps & Contact Info
Manhattan offers easy access to a wide range of recreational swimming pools. The following is our first attempt to provide you with a view of the range of public swimming pools available in the parks of Manhattan. We encourage you to make use of these facilities because they provide healthy, fun, and frequently free or inexpensive entertainment for both individuals and families with children.
West Side Community Garden Tulip Festival
Upper West Side Festival Celebrates Tulips
I attended the West Side Community Garden annual Tulip Festival this past weekend. The weather was near perfect with highs around 70 and no rain.
The West Side Community Garden is located on 89th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam and provides a throughway to 90th Street and green space for the surrounding area. The West Side Community Garden was legally recognized in the late 1980's, although the effort to transform it from a vacant lot / dumping ground began in the mid 1970's. According to the West Side Community Garden website this is their 41st year of operation, which means they started in some fashion in 1974.
It was hard to find any information about when the Tulip Festival actually began, but given the garden itself is only a few decades old, it probably wasn't too long ago. Anyhow, there were roughly about 12,000 tulips at the Tulip Festival. The festival is a two consecutive weekend affair.
Although no specific mention was made of this, it is worth noting that New York was first settled by the Dutch as New Amsterdam. The Dutch homeland, Holland, is the European home of the tulip. The Dutch began settling the Upper West Side in the mid 1600's and they called the area Bloemendaal, likely after a town located in the tulip region of the Netherlands [see map].
Bloemendaal was later Anglicized to Bloomingdale which was a name given to the Upper West Side on either side of 96th Street. The department store Bloomingdales likely got its name from here, and although as yet unconfirmed, we believe this is the connection to this Upper West Side Tulip Festival.
It's not difficult to figure out where Harlem got its name by looking at the map at right, which shows a section of the Netherlands just west of Amsterdam, near the North Sea: Haarlem.
On the Saturday of the last weekend of the festival, waves of bystanders and enthusiasts attended the event. There were a couple of speakers scheduled over the two weekends, to talk about gardening, horticulture, photography and flower arrangement. Admission to the event was free and sponsored by the Greenacre Foundation, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation and through the generosity of Upper West Side residents.
The West Side Community Garden has an open area where they plant flowers, an enclosed area where they plant vegetables, and they have a relationship with St. John The Divine which enables them access to the St. John Divine Greenhouse, and to which they donate the tulip bulbs after the season is over.
Over the course of the warm weather months, gardeners at the West Side Community Garden meet and work on various projects. To learn more about how to participate, visit their website at www.westsidecommunitygarden.org. Photo by Kakowski.
5 Boro Bike Tour In Manhattan
Sign Up Now For 5 Boro Bike Ride NYC
The 5 Boro Bike Ride will come streaming through the middle of Manhattan neighborhoods on the first Sunday morning in May. The ride - not race - begins between 7 am and 9 am from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan.
It's usually good weather for a bike ride, as the weather is generally cool and frequently dry with a breeze. About 32,000 bike riders sign up for the event annually and they take on a 42 mile bike trail that begins by weaving through the middle of Manhattan, up 6th Avenue into Central Park and on into the Bronx, before coming back down the FDR to leave the borough via the Queensboro Bridge.
In 2014 we caught up with the bikers as they were coming down the FDR and crossing the Queensboro Bridge between 10 am and 10.30 am [see photos to your right]. By 11 am we were at the southern tip of Central Park and all of the riders had already whizzed through and life and traffic had gone back to normal.
Winter Ice Festival In Central Park
Valentine's Day Ice Carving & Silent Disco At Naumburg Bandshell
It was a cold Saturday afternoon as I made my way to Central Park to join the hundreds or more who came out to enjoy the annual Central Park Ice Festival at the Naumburg Bandshell.
The festival began with demonstrations of how to create ice sculptures like the one shown in the photo at right and was followed by a silent disco. The DJ also played the music at an audible level [but not loud] for the rest of us who didn't go through the trouble of using the free the headsets. A deposit for each headset was required in case they were not returned.
There were tents set up to provide information about the Central Park Conservancy which sponsored the event. And I believe, but can't confirm, that there was also at least one food truck. But that said, it was mostly a non-food, artistic, communal dance and theatrical event.
As it was also Valentine's Day, there were many couples who came to disco silently in the park as the sun set and the temperatures dropped. Just like the ice ice man and woman in the photo, as it got colder the couples leaned in closer together. I hope you had a Happy Valentine's Day Weekend.
Snow Storm Skirts Manhattan & NYC
On Monday evening NYC's mass transit system was shut down. It was announced that NYC public schools would be closed. And everyone was advised to prepare for a snowstorm that might bring 24 to 36 inches of snow to the city.
On Tuesday morning, things looked quite a bit brighter. The city received far less than a foot of snow. In most places the inches of snowfall didn't even break the single digits. And so it was, a snow day without too much snow.
NYC has a long history of under reacting and over reacting to weather conditions. When government officials under react they generally lose some face. When they over react, the proverbial political storm blows over.
And so it was on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 that NYC enjoyed an unscheduled day off, with all the shopping done. The photo to your right was taken around noontime Tuesday looking south on Broadway Street around 90th Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
NYC Marathon: A Brief History
A Closer Look At The NYC Marathon Course & Runners
Every year about 50,000 runners converge on New York City on the first weekend of November to run in the New York Marathon. The race begins at 8.30 am with the wheelchair division, is followed at 8.52 am by the athletes with disabilities and handcyclers. And then from 8.55 am until 11 am a horde of 50,000 runners passes the starting line on their 26 mile journey ending in Central Park.
The course has changed since the first NYC Marathon and now runs through all five boroughs, starting in Staten Island, coming up through western Brookyn, cutting through Long Island City between the Pulaski and Queensboro Bridges and then looping up along the Upper East Side before circling back around just north of the Harlem River in the Bronx and heading back south into Manhattan and terminating in Central Park.
The race lasts about eleven hours, as the official end time is 7.30 pm, but the reality is that it's mostly over by about 5 pm. The NYC Marathon began in 1970 and the first one was held entirely in Central Park by having the runners circle around the park on various roadways multiple times. And, of course, it was a much smaller group of runners.
NYC Marathon Runner Demographics by the NYT
The NYT published a report about the NYC Marathon demographics. In it they noted that about three quarters of the runners make it over the finish line, and that about 40% of the runners are now women, which is up significantly from none in the first NYC Marathon in 1970.
This year only 48% of the runners are Americans, while another 4.5% come from Canada and Mexico, France and Italy represent 14% of the runners [split about evenly], and Britain, Germany and the Netherlands are another 15% (contributing in descending order], other parts of Europe, Latin America, Japan & China, Austrailia and South Africa.
Age-wise the largest group is between 30 and 40, the 2nd largest between 40 and 50, and a good measure from the 20 to 30 and the 50 to 60 demographics. Apparently many reaching their 40th and 50th birthdays like to 'prove that they still have it'. You can find the full report on www.nytimes.com, including some fun graphs.
NYC Marathon Winners Past & Present
The last time an American won the Marathon was in 2009 [Meb Keflezighi - a 2004 Olympic silver medalist born in Eritrea], and the last American winner born in the United States was Bill Rodgers in 1979. This year Meb was the first place finisher among all Americans and he broke the record for Masters Runners.
This year the winner for men was Stanley Biwott of Kenya who ran the NYC Marathon in 2:10:34, the winner for women was Mary Keitany, also from Kenya, who ran the course in 2:24:25, making this her second win in as many years. In the Wheelchair division, Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa beat Josh George of USA by one second coming in at 1:30:54. In the women’s wheelchair division, Tatyana McFadden a Russian-born American, broke the NYC Marathon course record by seven minutes. It's been quite a year for her as she also won the marathon in Boston, Chicago and London this year.
Men's & Women's Marathon Times
As you can see by the times above, the best marathoners generally make the trip in a bit more than two hours, which means they ran at a pretty good clip of almost 13 miles per hour for over two hours. And it's worth mentioning that the gap between male and female NYC Marathon runners has been closing and at present is about 15 minutes.
Organizers & Sponsors of the NYC Marathon
New York Road Runners or NYRR is the organizer of the NYC Marathon and this year Tata Consultancy Services or TCS is the premier sponsor. TCS is an Indian software and IT services company based in Mumbai [formerly Bombay].
Century Bike Ride Manhattan
The Sunday forecast included a high probability of scattered thunderstorms, but fortunately for the Century bike riders the weather appeared to favor them.
The Century Bike Ride is organized by Transportation Alternatives, an environmentally-friendly group that promotes non-carbon and low carbon 'transportation alternatives' to NYC residents. This is the bike ride they sponsor and the receipts go toward their efforts to ensure the various levels of government do what they can to help promote a safe and regenerative urban transportation environment.
The Century Bike Ride offers four biking alternatives that individuals and / or groups can pursue on their own during the most-of-the-day event. The first start time was at 5.30 am in Central Park [Manhattan] and at 6 am for a Prospect Park [Brooklyn] start and the last rest stops at the two parks closed at 6 pm.
The four bike routes included a 35 mile, 55 mile, 75 mile and 100 mile [hence the name century] loop.The 35 mile loop is called the East River Ride, which runs along the East River primarily in Brooklyn and Queens. The ride started at 7.30 am and was expected to last between 3.5 and 7.5 hours. The 55 mile loop is called the Waterfront Ride which includes the East River loop, but also the Verrazzanno Bridge, Coney Island and part of the Brooklyn Greenway. This ride started at 7 am / 7.30 am and was expected to take about 3.5 to 8.5 hours. The 75 mile loop is called the Rockaways Ride and it excludes the north / south run along the East River in Brooklyn / Queens in exchange for a haul out to the Fort Tilden Beach in the Rockaways then north through a number of Queens Greenways [parks] before turning westward back toward Manhattan. The Century Bike Ride, the 100 miler, starts at 6 am / 6.30 am and is expected to take between six and twelve hours.
The Century Bike Ride started in 1989 and is celebrating its 26th year.
Women's World Cup Champions
Ticker Tape Parade & Celebration Of 3rd USA Win
It's not every day that the reigning Women's World Cup Team visits Manhattan enmasse. But so it was, that on Friday, July 10th, 2015 that the three-time World Cup winning USA women's team visited the Big Apple, to be honored in the first ticker tape parade for women in New York City.
The USA team won their first World Cup in 1991, their second in 1999 and their third this year. Only one player from the 1999 team was still playing for the USA team in 2015 - team captain Christie Rampone.
The parade was set up on very short notice, with a significant push by Mayor de Blasio to celebrate the Women's World Cup Champions' victory in NYC with an historic parade and celebration.
I heard from some parade-goers that they saw NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo riding on one of the parade floats, but we did not see him on the dais following the parade.
I believe about 1,600 people were in attendance at the celebration following the parade. Many were given free tickets in an online lottery wherein they had a couple hours Wednesday to apply for the tickets and the winners were notified about 24 hours later on Thursday. As I understand it they printed the tickets off an online ticket site.
Most of the people in the crowd were females. Mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. Many dressed up and painted their faces to celebrate the three-time winning women's soccer team. Unfortunately, the USA men's World Cup soccer team has yet to win a World Cup.
Summer Streets Arrive In Manhattan
Summer In The City
On Saturday from 7 am - 1 pm vast sections of Park Avenue and Lafayette were closed to traffic. It wasn't a street fair per se, as no vendors were set up, but rather an opportunity for New Yorkers to bike and stroll and photograph this seven mile stretch of Manhattan without automobiles streaming up and down the avenue.
I started at Park Avenue in the high 40's and made my way down to the mid 30's before the event ended. The Park Avenue Tunnel, which begins at 33rd Street contained a Norweigan sound installation which I unfortunately missed because they closed the several block long tunnel art / sound installation to new visitors at 12.30 pm.
But it will be back next week and the week after as Summer Streets continue. We'll post a photo slide show at a later date.
Solstice Yoga In Times Square
It was certainly a beautiful sight to behold. Hundreds of women and a few men doing yoga on Broadway between 42nd and 44th Streets. The weather was perfect, in the seventies and dry, and the tall buildings kept the direct sunlight at bay.
A woman with a microphone, somewhere at the head of the crowd, was giving directions on poses and stretches, intermingled with talk of peace and happiness and a better world. The participants displayed a wide range of involvement, from friendly banter, to serious concentration, to see and be seen, to just being there. All in all, having been, it was an enjoyable scene, if you know what I mean.
The Times Square Solstice Yoga was co-founded in 2003 by Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, and Douglass Stewart of Mind Over Madness Yoga. The idea was to create a counterpoint to the boisterous New Years celebration which occurs less than two weeks following the winters solstice. Hence from the millions in Times Square when the ball drops on New Years Eve, we now have Solstice Yoga in Times Square. The event began at 5.30 am and ended at 9 pm with literally thousands participating throughout the day.
We'll post more at a later date.
Great Day For 5 Boro Bike Ride - Manhattan
Good Weather, Good People & Good Times
May 5, 2014 / Manhattan Neighborhoods / Manhattan Buzz NYC.
The 5 Boro Bike Ride came streaming through the middle of Manhattan neighborhoods on Sunday morning. The ride - not race - began between 7 am and 9 am from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan.
It was a beautiful day for a bike ride, as the weather was cool and in the 60's and it was sunny with a light breeze. About 32,000 bike riders signed up for the event and they took on a 42 mile bike trail that begins by weaving through the middle of Manhattan, up 6th Avenue into Central Park and on into the Bronx, before coming back down the FDR to leave the borough via the Queensboro Bridge.
We caught up with the bikers as they were coming down the FDR and crossing the Queensboro Bridge between 10 am and 10.30 am [see photos including a slide show to be posted later]. By 11 am we were at the southern tip of Central Park and all of the riders had already whizzed through and life and traffic were back to normal.
5 Boro Bike Ride In Manhattan
Next Sunday 32,000 Bikers Descend On Manhattan
Next weekend the 5 Boro Bike Ride will come streaming through all five boroughs of NYC. It's a fun bike ride with about 32,000 bikers who come from all around the nation and some from other parts of the world.
The ride goes all day long, so if you're planning on doing any travel on the roadways, you'd best plan ahead and avoid the crowds and blocked streets. We'll post more about the event, including maps, times and viewing locations later this week.
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