Trip to Metropolitan Museum

17 06 2010

June 6, 2010 – Sunday

I went on tour of the American and American Collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 1:00 p.m.  Since my left knee was hurting and walking the around Museum will put pressure on my knee, we (Ray, Karen and myself) took the taxi from the Marriot hotel to the Museum and it cost us about $24.00.  Ray and Karen inquired about wheelchair for me before we left for the museum and was told that I could use a wheelchair for free.  I had never used a wheelchair before that day.  I was kind of embarrassed and I had to make a choice, pressure on knee or limping around the museum.  Ray Archuleta and Karen Steadman took turns pushing me around the museum for the tour.

The tour was interesting; the main exhibition was Pablo Picasso and the displays were unique.  I enjoyed the display of the Italian painting and stained glass windows and the religious statues of the church.  I saw the splendid mosaic water fountain, windows and the door.  I was wheeled around the Egyptian artifacts exhibition.  I loved Egyptian arts especially the hieroglyphics.  The American classic furniture’s from the 19th century were very interesting.  The statues from Roman Greek Mythology Periods always fascinate me. The armor and weapons artifacts from the 13th century, the steel helmet and body suit, the precious stone sword and metal armor used to  shield the horse.

June 7, 2010 – Monday

Summary of my trip to New York.

My short and sweet trip to New York City was interesting and educational. I feel what I have learned in New York City I will incorporate it in my classroom. My first day was the most wonderful day because I have always admired Eleanor Roosevelt and   I was overjoyed when I went to Hyde Park and explored her home.  Of all the first ladies, throughout our nation’s presidencies she was the most active for human rights, equality among all races and women’s rights. The dinning at Culinary Institute of Arts restaurant was a unforgettable experience, the food was scrumptious and the chefs were very skilled in their art.


Harlem Tour

17 06 2010

June 5, 2010 – Saturday

We took a bus tour of Harlem and the Bronx with Kenneth Jackson of Columbia University.  The bus left at 9:00 a.m. and on our way to observe the area few tourists visit.  There were too many places to learn.  When Kenneth Jackson present the places in Harlem and Bronx he would say look to right and look to your left and the bus moving constantly I missed a lot of the tour.  I managed to observe a few things as the bus moved along like the change in the Harlem since I last visited there in 2002. The area looks more prosperous, businesses blooming and the housing project look more promising.  The Apollo Theater was being renovated and Harlem area looks safer to venture around.  I wish the bus would have stopped at the Apollo Theater so that we could look inside  and see why the Apollo Theater is very important to the African American culture and the famous figures who made history in the entertainment world of music.  In my opinion Harlem has improved greatly due to the tireless efforts and contributions of former President Clinton who has an office in Harlem.

The bus proceeds to Columbia University where Kenneth Jackson teaches, the University is quite vast and it is a prestigious university. The old Yankee stadium stood across the new Yankee stadium with all latest technology added to it. I visited the Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum that was built in 1765, this Georgian masterpiece was George Washington’s headquarters in 1776. This is  where Washington and his advisers were deciding about the Revolutionary War in New York. The cottage was located up on a hill where George Washington could see the British ships from the harbor of New York.  It was a difficult decision fighting the British, who were professional soldiers and Patriots that were made up of simple farmers. I am glad America won its independence. After George Washington cottage, the bus drove to Little Italy in the Bronx.

When the bus stop on the side of the road, the traffic was busy and honking loudly, I came down the stairs of bus and fell.  I hurt my left knee and I was in great pain.  The teachers were concerned and they inquired if I was alright and I want to thank David who was in front of me and he helped up.  Karen and Cody assisted me to the other side of the road so I could eat Italian lunch and they were both very sweet and helpful. Every step I took was very painful.

After lunch, the bus continued the tour to Harlem and Bronx.  Kenneth Jackson pointed out the house of the Alexander Hamilton and his son both died in a duel even though his wife begged him not to do it.  Kenneth showed us Central Park, the homes of Andrew Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and the Julliard Studio.  New York represents culture, diversity and entertainment and I would love to live here.

Museum and Transportation of New York City

17 06 2010

June 4, 2010 – Friday

New York Subway journey to the Museum of the city of New York, we walked to Jay Street and bought our Metro pass for a week which cost $27.00.  The first subway train we took was the C train to 86th Street, and then we took No. 6 train to 103rd street and walked the rest of the way to 104th street and used the staff entrance to the Museum.  We met a young and vibrant curator of the museum named EY Zipris, Professional Development Coordinator of the Museum of the City of New York.  We started the day with breakfast and reviewed out schedule Timescales and went up to see the displays of cars from different ideas and eras.

The displays of the cars from different eras showed the wonderful and creative ideas of human accomplishments.  The ideas and designs were excellent whether the cars were made for comfort, pleasure, speed or entertainment.  The cars were few and streets were not paved and only the wealthy people could afford cars. As time progress, owning cars were very expensive and ordinary people couldn’t afford it and so the subways were introduced as the main transportation.  People became less interested in luxury cars and became more practical and traveled the subways. The city of New York wants to discourage people from driving cars so parking cars has become very expensive.  All available spaces in New York City have been used for building skyscrapers for offices, hotels and housing projects.

New York City is crowded with more than eight million people and many skyscrapers.  Zoning has been the main problem in New York City.  As a group, we tried to divide New York into many zones with different themes.  The themes were industrial, transportation, housing, commercial, schools, and police.  The zoning in New York area is very important because it looks crowded, noisy and unorganized.  I spoke to a New Yorker on the subway, and she said, “I like New York but hate the zoning because people with money get the best choice and get away with it.”  I understand why zoning is important depending where ever you live.

I would to use Jacob Riis’s collection as a lesson plan with my students to see what ideas or innovations they may come up with. Rii’s collection will help students understand about primary and secondary sources.

Visit to Franklin Roosevelt Home and Dinner at Culinary Institute of Arts

16 06 2010

June 3, 2010 – Thursday

I was ready to start the day.  As I was sitting in the comfortable bus, I was preparing to sleep, but the documentary video was turned on about the politics of the State of New York kept me awake.  I learned about the corrupted politician who destroyed New York.  It was very interesting to learn about La Guardia, and how he challenged the corrupted system and made many improvements in New York.  La Guardia deserved the recognition when the airport named after him. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a governor of New York and I learned how he rid New York of a corrupted mayor.

We visited the home of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the place he grew up. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the only son to James and Sara Roosevelt he had a very close relationship with his mother.  He was home schooled until the age of 14 and was sent to Europe to learn French and German.  He lived with his mother, his wife, Eleanor Anna Roosevelt and his five children.  The house was built near the Hudson River and had many beautiful trees surrounding the area.  At the age 39, he developed polio after a swim in the river. His house had an elevator which took him upstairs to his bedroom and his children’s room.  He was scared of fire therefore electricity was not installed in the house. Eleanor was his fifth cousin to Franklin and they were married in 1905. He stayed at his mother’s home until his death.  He died in 1945 while still serving his 4th term as the President of the United States of America.  He was buried in his mother’s Rose Garden with his mother, Sarah and his wife, Eleanor.

Val-Kill Cottage

Eleanor Roosevelt was never happy at her mother-in-law’s Sarah Roosevelt’s home so she decided to build herself a home two miles from his mother-in-law’s home which was called Val-Kill after the name of the river that runs in their estate. Val-Kill was built in 1925 and it served as retreat for Eleanor Roosevelt and her friends

In her Val-Kill home, she worked on writings such as her autobiography, and she wrote articles for the newspapers addressed “My Day”.  She also used her Val-Kill home for a furniture shop training local farmers, a multi-purpose shop including pewter making and weaving, a picnic site for the Roosevelt family and finally as the home of the First Lady after her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt died.  After President Franklin Roosevelt died President Eisenhower asked her to be the US ambassador for human rights around the world. Eleanor Roosevelt worked on human rights issues for people from all walks of life around the world like child labor, physical abuse, domestic violence, and many more.   She helped many people from all over the world to participate in her effort on human rights and abuse.  The human rights video inspired and encouraged me to learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt tireless humanitarian work.

The human rights exercise shared by Ms. Susanna Norris was an interesting lesson plan which I intend to use with my sixth grade students.  The project will help the students understand about human rights abuse being portrayed by the governments and businesses.  There are many issues on human rights and many people have a hard time changing their ways to help it.  For example: the human rights issues on China is very difficult to change because there are many other issues involved like politics, economics and military issues. I would like to make a lesson plan on human rights issues and observe the students’ ideas on how one can make a difference like Eleanor Roosevelt did.

I visited the Summer Cottage of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  It was a house in the mountains where the President would retreat for privacy.  He wrote the important document like “The Great Deal” which is still in use today.  President Roosevelt had one condition from his mother, he cannot stay overnight at the summer cottage and had to return home every night.  Some of his  visitors includeded: Winston Churchill, royal monarchs and close women friends.

We went for a Culinary Institute of Arts (CIA) tour and were divided into two groups and our tour guide was Scott Gonzales from Mexico.  He was very knowledgeable and is in his second year and hopes to graduate in 2011.  He explained about the Institute and what the purpose was of learning culinary arts.  He has great potential as a chef and wants to stay in United States and enhance his cooking skills.  We immensely enjoyed our four course dinner which was served in an elegant fashion.  We started with green soup, salad with goat cheese, entrée was – salmon well done and dessert – ice-cream, mouth watering chocolate cake with liquid chocolate melting in your mouth and coffee.  The night ended well except by the time reached the hotel at midnight and we were extremely tired but I thoroughly enjoyed our first day outing in New York.

Island at the Center of the World

30 03 2010

In Russell Shorto’s book titled The Island at the Center of the World, is about the concepts and attitudes the Dutch brought with them early in the 17th century. In contrast to the New Englanders the Dutch came, not as settlers or for religious freedom, but as traders and businessmen.  While the English were laying the foundations of flourishing commonwealth in Virginia on the broad basis of republicanism, the Dutch were busy fashioning a state upon the still broader foundations of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, with its capital on the site of the city of New York.  Refugees from persecution in France, the native Hollanders established their first settlements on Manhattan Island and elsewhere, and so founded the colony of New Netherlands, and founded a city which they called New Amsterdam. Founded by maritime entrepreneurs, New Netherland’s beginnings lay with sea captains, traders, and investors principally from the Dutch provinces of Holland, North Holland, and Zeeland. In 1609 Henry Hudson explored the entrance to the North River known as the Hudson River and navigated as far north as present-day Albany. Following his exploits, the United Provinces issued contracts for short-term voyages of discovery in the area north of Virginia and south of lands claimed by France. In 1614 the New Netherlands Company obtained a charter permitting it to send out four voyages to trade with native peoples, especially those living near the entrances to three rivers which were the South River known as the Delaware River, the North River or River Mauritius presently known as the Hudson River, and the Fresh River known as the Connecticut River.

Like the French, the Dutch hoped to profit from their discoveries in the Americas. From a tiny group of 30 houses, New Amsterdam grew into a busy port. The Dutch embraced people of different nations and religions to their colony. The Dutch also built trading posts along the Hudson River. The most important one was For Orange, today known as Albany. Dutch merchants became known for their good business sense.

Manhattan Island was not planned to be an agricultural colony. The company pursued its commercial monopoly by making mutual agreements with coastal and inland people, but had no intention of acquiring extensive native lands. And its directors were, like those of the East India Company, divided over the value of encouraging colonists to settle.  They meant to be the opposite of the Spanish who were conquers.  The Dutch were determined to be merchants not conquerors

Russell Shorto illuminates that there is more behind the façade the Dutch displayed and he  focuses on why 17th-century Holland, that seem admirable to us, are not what they seem. It is understood throughout European history that Holland was amazingly tolerant. Jews like Spinoza, Catholics like Descartes and English dissenters fled there to escape persecution. Holland was the world’s leading book publisher because there was so little censorship.  Yet in truth, 17th-century Dutchmen did not really tolerate other beliefs. Like true merchants, diversity of ethnicity and religion meant nothing, money was money and a profit must be made.

Shorto emphasizes the factors that helped shaped American culture.  One of the main factors that helped shape the American culture was the usage of slavery.  In 1644, the Dutch bought 6,900 captives on the African coast. Most of these slaves went to the company’s colonies in the West Indies, but from its stations in Angola, the company imported slaves to New Netherland to clear the forests, lay roads, build houses and public buildings, and grow food. The slave labor that laid the foundations of modern New York, built its defenses, and made agriculture flourish in the colony so that future white immigrants had an incentive to turn from fur trapping to farming.  Another factor that contributed to the shaping of American culture was how the Manhattan Island was obtained.  It is understood that the land was bought from the Indians.  Yet, according to Russell Shorto, it was a corrupt business transaction in which the Dutch cheated the Indians, knowing there was a vast amount of wealth that could be harvested. Presently, in history we know that the Dutch bought the Island of Manhattan from the Indians for a mere $24.00.

In conclusion,   New Netherlands was a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic society. The immigrants to the Dutch colony were not exclusively Calvinist ethnic Dutch but included Norwegians, German Lutherans, Africans, Spanish Jews, and French Huguenots, a reflection of thedevout religious and ethnic tolerance that existed in 17th century Netherlands. The cosmopolitan nature of what was then New Amsterdam was evidenced, In 1646 a report of a Jesuit priest that he found some 18 languages spoken there. From the outset, New Amsterdam, located at the southern tip of Manhattan Island was a lively, rowdy, busy place, made so by pirates, prostitutes, and politicians, as well as everyday  citizens. By the late 1640’s Manhattan had become a major and international shipping center and place of business.   Shorto’s book makes a convincing case that the Dutch did not merely influence the relatively open, tolerant and multicultural society that became the United States they made the first and most significant contribution. Dutch brought origins of enduring concepts, familiar terms, and place names. This legacy is especially remarkable  as the Dutch ruled the area for only about 40 years until superseded by the English 340 years ago. Among the terms we have garnished from the Dutch are: boss, coleslaw, cookie, kill landscape, and Santa Claus, not to mention the derogatory Dutch courage, Dutch treat and similar others emanating from English antipathy. Place names persisting from the Dutch period include Yonkers, Staten Island, Rhode Island, Spuyten Duyvil, Wall Street, and Saw Mill River.

Generous Enemies

30 03 2010

The American Revolution began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen colonies in North America, and expanded in a global war among several European great powers. The war was the result of the political American Revolution, whereby many of the colonists rejected the legitimacy of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them without representation, claiming that this violated the Rights of Englishmen.  In Judith Van Buskirk’s book Generous Enemies, she focuses more on the personal beliefs, ethics and perspectives from the British army occupying the colonies and the opposing loyalists and patriots.  The Loyalists also known as Tories were American colonists who remained loyal to the British Monarchy during and after the American Revolutionary War and consisted of aristocrats.  The Patriots also known as Whigs was the name of the colonists of the thirteen colonies, who rallied against British control and presence during the American Revolution.  Patriots represented a variety of social, economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds. They included college students, planters, merchants, and plain farmers, lawyers, mechanics, seamstresses, homemakers, shopkeepers, and ministers.

From the British Army’s perspective, they viewed the colonies as a very filthy and uncultivated place.  Some did not think highly of the colonists and found their behaviors and thinking uncouth and strange and did not have very high opinions of the colonists.   They took advantage of their hospitality and behaved as if they were above the law and frequently exerted their power and superiority over the colonists, even those in the loyalists’ party, who supported Great Britain.   Some of the British acted the role of generous hosts to friendly civilians, providing them with parties, and some civilians devised profitable schemes to enrich themselves. Romance blossomed between soldiers and civilians, although many soldiers preferred prostitutes.   There are a few examples of the British’s behavior and conduct in the colonies.  Major John Peebles wrote in his journal of the frequent rapes that had occurred at the hands of British soldiers and how they were always granted pardon for any type of unruly behavior or acts of terror towards the colonists, even if the British high commanding officers knew it was immoral.  As gentlemen, British officers extended wartime courtesies to American officers, and when the time came, expected patriots to do the same for their captured comrades.

According to the Loyalists, they at first welcomed the British and had optimism that they would be rewarded for staying true to England.  Yet even the Loyalist soon realized that the British army took advantage of the Loyalists’ hospitality and faith in monarchy.  The Loyalists were disgusted at the British soldiers lack of ethics and immoral behavior and their disinterest in governing the colonies and bringing back order.  Examples of the Loyalists’ disappointments was the British’s misuse of places of worship and how they would use the colonists’ churches for their own entertainment purposes and when they did attend church services it was only to accompany important figures such as when Prince William visited New York in 1781.   Another incident occurred when Admiral Gambier and General Pattison, who were high military officials, were known as hypocrites because of their attendance at church every Sunday and then their immoral nightly activities.  Anger further escalated when the soldiers turned the Trinity Church into The Mall, which was a place for dancing and made it exclusive only for the British soldiers and their ladies and kept the common people out.  This angered many colonists who felt they had taken a sacred place and turned it into a place of frivolous activities, disrespecting the people’s religious beliefs for their own selfish purposes.  According to leading British loyalists such as Thomas Jones and William the frivolous character of British commanders, was obscene and they seemed more interested in sport than soldiering.  According to Thomas Jones and William Smith the British that occupied New York were of loose character and cared nothing for the colonists who remained loyal to the crown.  Jones and Smith, throughout the war saw the numerous defeats the British suffered, and the sacrifices that the Loyalists made with their lives and money toward a losing cause.  What really angered the Loyalists was that despite the support they provided the British were, the British continued to take advantage of hospitality and behaved as if they were above the law.  Disappointment grew every time they saw the soldiers’ terrorizing throughout the New York community, but also their squandering of funds on parades, dances, dinners, hunting and other leisure pursuits.  The Patriots or Whigs fought for the belief that they had the right and were capable of governing themselves without constantly consulting the Crown in England.  One of the biggest concerns of the Patriot party was the displacement of farmers and others to make room for the British occupation.  Displaced New York patriots worried about the status of their Manhattan property. Those more securely situated in New Jersey, Connecticut, or patriot-controlled New York might find the Continental army’s request for provisions less profitable than smuggling supplies for British gold. Imprisoned patriots suffered the worst of all. Ordinary soldiers and sailors incarcerated in the Sugar House in Manhattan or the Jersey prison ships moored in Wallaback Bay had few choices as they endured horrible conditions and faced death as a possibility. Throughout the American Revolutionary War, the Loyalists and Patriots of the colonies had opposing views about their beliefs. Van Buskirk illuminated that even within families or friends that may have had different political ideologies, the colonists were still somewhat united.  Maria de Peyster Bancker Ogden was a devout patriot as were all her children except her eldest son Evert Bancker Jr. who was a strong Loyalist.  She did not cut ties from her son and he supported his family emotionally and financially.  Mr. Hadden, a strong supporter of the Whig party was imprisoned after his home was raided.  Mr. Hadden’s son a Lieutenant in a New Jersey refugee corps, who was an ardent Tory, visited his father frequently in the prison hospital.  These stories are evident that despite opposing political views, family ties are still strong within the colonies.  A few, such as loyalist newspaper editor James Rivington, supposedly passed information to the patriots, keeping options open in the event of an American victory while still serving their British masters. Although Van Buskirk cites this episode, more information on the motivations influencing these men and women who exchanged intelligence and deceived their comrades might have added to our understanding of life in wartime New York.    These stories are evident that despite opposing political views and battles, familial bonds more often withstood war’s devastation and enabled loyalists and patriot kinfolk to correspond and visit. Buskirk stands on firmer ground in discussing race, gender, and domestic relations in wartime New York. Enslaved persons of color found opportunities to redefine their status—they might negotiate with masters, accept offers of employment beyond their owner’s reach, or claim freedom for themselves. All sorts of possibilities presented themselves. If some slaves, in particular those owned by loyalists, found the British less than sympathetic, others enlisted to fight in loyalist raiding parties. Ties between masters and slaves were inevitably strained and often severed       In conclusion, Judith Van Buskirk provides an engrossing account of wartime New York that shows us the compassionate aspect of revolutionary warfare without completely ignoring the reason why the American Revolutionary War was fought.

Up in the Old Hotel

30 03 2010

The book titled Up in the Old Hotel, written by Joseph Mitchell focuses on the observations and perspectives of the underclass which includes the bums, winos, bartenders, gypsies and a myriad of other colorful characters that are part of the “melting pot” that makes up New York.   Through the eyes of the New York’s lower class citizens we can visualize the evolution of New York.  From their stories, they have met and spoke to historical figures.  Mitchell’s book also focuses on the survival hood of its characters. Many of these characters lived in impoverished conditions. In this book, some of the more colorful characters devised interesting ways of surviving, whether it is selling “historical artifacts”, relying on the kindness of strangers, begging or street preaching.         One interesting trait that I have noticed about these characters is that if they have something to share they are willing to share with those that are without.   Examples would be chapter one titled: The Old House at Home and the chapter two titled: Maize.  The chapter, The Old House at Home, focuses on McSorley’s Old Ale House and the owner Old John.  Old John welcomed a variety of patrons of various ethnicities and occupations Examples of his kindness were that homeless patrons would frequently receive a free lunch that would consist of cheese and onions, and for a nickel they could buy a hard boiled egg. Old John also had his once a month “on-the-house beefsteak party” In the chapter Maize, Maize is bouncer at the Venice movie theater. Often in Maize’s story it discusses the frequent brawls that originate from the underprivileged being unruly and being tossed out of the movie house. Through her ticket cage, she can see the disheartened and spiritless homeless people, impoverished tenants who are one step from ending up on the streets and winos looking for a drink to help them forget their troubles and circumstances that pass through her window. Maize has a compassion for these down on their luck individuals and treats them as equals and understands them.  Maize from time to time gives what money she has in order to bring just a little happiness into their lives.  Maize was the voice of those in desperate need of help, but had no one to turn to or nowhere to go. One example would be when a young prostitute with her two children was in dire need of help and came to Maize, who in turn asked the nuns to help this woman in distress.

In the chapter titled Professor Sea Gull, we follow an eccentric character Joe Gould who was known as a Bohemian, which means he has no commitments, leads an unconventional lifestyle, and is homeless. Throughout the story, Gould finds sleeping quarters on park benches, on friends floors, in sub stations, or in flophouses of the famous Bowery where he paid a quarter to stay.  Joe Gould summarized accurately when he said for food or a drink he would do anything, whether tell a story, sing a song, dance or tell a joke.  This is a similar perspective of many characters throughout the book as many of the underclass would often steal food for themselves and their families. In his book An Oral History of Our Time he interviews different people of different lifestyles including drug dealers, homeless women, and hospital staff.  He gathered information from conversations he heard in public restrooms, from prostitutes and other unsavory characters he crossed paths with daily.  What can be understood about his writings are his collections of others’ perspectives about life in New York City and their survival hood.  His account throughout this chapter tells so much about the attitudes and impressions that were held of those who were considered to be underprivileged

The chapter Cave Dwellers recounts the struggles of the homelessness. The story is about a husband and wife, named James and Elizabeth Hollinan who lived in the city park in a cave. This story tells about their survival in the cave for over a year because they could not afford rent. Elizabeth tells how she and her husband James would find different places to sleep during harsh weather conditions or for safety reasons.  Elizabeth is a strong character and despite many obstacles that she and her husband had to overcome, it was their love for each other that remained strong and kept them going.

In the story Hit on the Head with a Cow, we follow two characters.  One is the character that was hit on the head by a cow when he was a boy growing up on the farm and the other character is Charles Eugene Cassell an eccentric man who opens up a museum called Captain Charley’s Private Museum for Intelligent People. Charles had many interesting tales to tell about the adventures he has had and the famous people he had encountered during his lifetime.  His museum holds “historical artifacts” that he obtained throughout his travels.  It is not his artifacts that draw people to his museum, but his colorful stories and his bizarre behavior.

In conclusion, Joseph Mitchell’s book Up in the Hotel, Mitchell’s book discussed a variety of individuals living in the same condition, and provided insight into how they dealt with their circumstance. It provided details regarding survival hood daily activities, as well as focusing on the underclass’ relationships with their families or others of the underclass. Throughout the book there was a display of optimism, pessimism, realism and as well as an in depth understanding of traditions and common characteristics shared by those living similar conditions.   Joseph Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel provided an detailed objective outlook into the lives of the underprivileged living in New York, who were dealing with homelessness, alcoholism, sacrifice,  combined with a feeling of hopelessness and pride, they continued their daily struggle to survive.