Category Archives: A Walker in the City: Flaneur Pieces


It was June 1st, 1971: still 18 years old, I’d signed a lease with no guarantors for a four room tenement apartment at 505 West 122nd Street, complete with mice and roaches just off heroin-ridden Amsterdam Avenue. Dormitory life was not for me at Columbia College, where I’d matriculated almost two years before. I had […]

Also posted in Lost New York, Uncategorized, Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |

Picking a Beautiful Bronx Mansion’s Lock

[Acknowledgement: The author graciously acknowledges being introduced to the Keil Mansion described below by Frances Stern, some many years ago.] On a chilly November morning I knocked on the door of 381 East 165th Street in the Bronx, a short walk from the busy, modern stretch of the Bronx Judicial Center complex on 161st Street, […]

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The Measure of a Man

The size of a funeral is the measure of a man, and in 1932, Upper West Sider Sol Brill’s departure from this earth was larger than life.  An, honest, dignified, gentle soul was cut down by cancer at age 54, at the height of his career as a movie-theater builder and operator.  Brill’s funeral was […]

Also posted in Lost New York, Sol Brill, Sol Brill, Uncategorized, Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes |

The Way of All Flesh

America’s Centennnial Year: 1876 was a time of booming fortunes, and New York was bursting with post-Reconstruction fervor, the metropolis burgeoning, robber barons feeling their oats. Thriving since the Civil War’s onset as a manufacturer’s paradise, the New York region’s many tentacled rail system and giant natural harbor fostered a cornucopia for commerce of all sorts. […]

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A Tribeca Palimpsest from Days Gone By

New York’s City Hall has stood, majestic, since the start of the War of 1812, its design by Green-Wood resident John McComb, Jr.,  little changed save an Alabama limestone cladding added in the mid-1950s over the original buff sandstone rear facade and the front of Massachusetts marble.  McComb’s name is seldom recognized today, his only other surviving creations in Manhattan being Gracie […]

Also posted in Found Objects, Lost New York |


FLOURISH Since my teenage years I’ve been an early and baroque music devotee, attending sacred music at New York’s many churches  I’ve thrilled to organ recitals in St. John the Divine’s vast sanctuary where the pipes envelope one with overwhelming sounds, inhaled Monteverdi and Rameau and Scarlatti and Schutz with the incense at Smokey Mary’s […]

Also posted in Personal Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , |

Batya in the Heart of Darkness

The title of Joseph Conrad’s novel has always intrigued me, though I’ve never cracked a page. I understand the scenes to be strange and frightful; you never know what’s coming next. New York City is a jungle, too, of cultures and races, living at each other’s edges, and so it is at Bedford and Nostrand, […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |

An Indecent Encounter

Behind the coffee counter, Hyapatia seemed pained when I asked for my usual two pounds of Soho Blend. It took but a moment to find out why. Just as I mouthed “percoloator grind, please,” her tormentor reappeared. “Eks-kyewz ME !,” a lacquered young East Sider spewed. I blanched in shock as I wiped myself off. […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |

Getting In Her Licks…

Lourdes draws the faithful, and Mecca has the Hajj, while hot June brings masses of pilgrims to Jerusalem. But New York has the strangest shrine of all. Earlier this summer I sat in a vest-pocket park down on Perry and West 11th Streets. In ones and twos, earnest acolytes appeared out of nowhere, each clutching […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |

Hevel Havolim: A Vanity Plate

Down the Taconic Parkway we flew, my wife and I late one recent Monday morning, she at the wheel, the stillness of upstate weekday field and forest, beauty all around. It’s hard to believe that such quiet exists so near to New York City, such greenery and access, the Parkway an IV from heaven so […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |