Third Day in New York. Harlem & Upper Manhattan

In these days of Christmassy holiday, I had the opportunity of eat a lot and take some time to write again with calm, so it’s time to resume with my travel to New York.

This is the third day of the trip, and as we do always, we got up early, and after a full breakfast, we took the metro to get to Harlem, a big neighborhood in the north area of Manhattan.

Born like Dutch village in 1658, its name derives from Harleem in the Netherlands. Since the 1920s, Harlem is characterized by a major African-American population that began to come wholesale with the Great Migration in 1905. Clearly, this zone is totally different from Midtown or Lower Manhattan. Here you won’t see skyscrapers and high office building. In general tourists when come to New York, don’t visit this area, because it’s more attractive the Empire State Building or the Top of the Rock that are located in the lower Manhattan. Instead we have decided to make a tour in Harlem and I found it really interesting right cause it’s totally different from the classical view of Manhattan.

In plus also here, are present various beautiful points that deserve to be visited. So we took the metro and we exited near the Apollo theater.

This is a music hall noted venue for African-American artists and it was the home of Showtime at the Apollo (a nationally syndicated television variety show which showcased new talent). The Theater was designed by George Keister in the neo-classical style and in 1983 was added to the National Register of Historic Places. At the Apollo Theater started the careers of many famous artists like Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder and many others. From the Apollo Theater we started our tour in Harlem. We entered in local shops and mega store, and we walked among the typical houses of New York’s periphery.

While we were moving toward the Columbia University, we arrived at the Riverside Church, an interdenominational Christian church opened in 1930. The Riverside Church was conceived by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Harry Emerson Fosdick, to be an interdenominational church open to all who profess faith in Christ.

The church it’s famous for its large size and the elaborate Neo-Gothic architecture as well as its history of social justice. This church in fact, hosts many activities and political debates, and since its origins it has been a focal point of global and national activism. Here have spoken many notable speakers like Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela and many others.

Close to this church there is the campus of Columbia University. This is one of the most prestigious university of the world. Every year Columbia administers the Pulitzer Prize, and more than 100 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with this college as students, researchers and teachers, like Enrico Fermi, Barack Obama, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Founded in 1754 by George II of Great Britain, Columbia is the oldest college in the state of New York.

Today is part of Ivy League, title that joins together the eight most prestigious private college of USA. In 1897 the campus moved from Midtown to Morningside Heights, with a project of McKim, Mead and White that refers to the Athenian Agora. The buildings, in Neo-classical style, are very beautiful, mostly the Low Memorial Library. This edifice, built in 1895, that incorporates many of the elements of Rome’s Pantheon, is a National Historic Landmark.

On the steps leading to the library, there is Alma Mater, a sculpture of the goddess Athena by Daniel Chester French. The statue, located in 1904, was donated in memory of alumnus Robert Goelet by his wife. In a short time, Alma Mater became a symbol of Columbia University. An interesting story is related at the owl hidden in the folds of this statue’s cloak. According to the college superstition, the first member of the incoming class that finds the owl will become class valedictorian. Another legend tells that any Columbia student who finds the owl on his first try, would marry a girl from Barnard College. Watching this University I felt so sad if I think at my Italian Univeristy, the Columbia is a real show, with beautiful buildings (which we also have) and many activities of study and sport, and is really well organized. Our university are a total mess, often dirty and with many problem of bureaucracy.

Got out from the campus, we went to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Designed in 1888, originally in the Byzantine Revival-Romanesque Revival styles, the plan was changed in 1909 to a Gothic Revival design. Its construction suffered various interruptions many time, and still today there are element that have to be completed (like the roof), as a result, it’s often called St. John the Unfinished. Despite this, this church is the fourth largest Christian church in the world, with a length of 183 meters and a high of 70 meters. The exterior of the cathedral is a real beauty, with many Romanesque, Byzantine and Gothic details, mixed accurately.

The second part of the day will arrive in few days, stay tuned.

Good light to everyone

Carlo

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