Thursday, November 28, 2013

Our 2013 American Trip: Columbia University, NYC

First of all, HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all my American friends.  I can't think of anything that makes me happier than being thankful.  I'm thankful for you who stop by to read and comment.

May your cup runneth over with Joy, Love and Laughter.
(image from our Brooklyn Bridge day in NYC, last post)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The very next day (October 8), after blustery, misty weather on the Brooklyn Bridge, we awakened to glorious sunshine.  This was the day earmarked for our walk to Columbia University from Robin's apartment at 72nd and Riverside 116th Street.  On a beautiful day, you can walk forever!

It's called the Upper West Side.
We didn't walk along the river but you get the gist.
And we took our good ol' lazy time.

You know me and architecture!  
See what I mean about a glorious day?

As we say, it's all in the details.
(I always try to get the forest and the or the other of which I sometimes miss.)
The brownstones.  The brownstones.  It wasn't hard to spot them.

But it was the water towers I feasted on that morning walk.
Did I hear there is talk now to start covering them? 
The low-down on NYC's 10-15,000 wooden water towers is here.

Do you like to people watch?  You've come to the right place.

No matter where you go, there you friendly NYC!

How friendly is that!  See what I mean?

And suddenly we were outside the gates of Columbia University from 1754.
It's NY's oldest institution of higher education, and the nation's 5th oldest.
On Amsterdam Avenue...of all places!

And why there, you ask?
Because my mom got her Master's there in 1939, that's why!  
I wanted to see what she saw.

Almost immediately, after passing through the gates, you see Low Memorial Library.
It's the administrative center of the university, built in 1895.

Inside was where I got directions to the university archives, to find my mom.  
That was my goal for the day:  Find Mom's name in print!

And that would be directly across the campus in the Butler Library, from 1934.
You get a great point of view on it from the steps of the Low Memorial Library.

And there...EUREKA!  I found it, finally, with the help of this nice lady.
It took some doing.  I even called sister Ruth at Michigan State.  HELP.

Barbara Nelson Bennett
She graduated in 1939 with a Masters in Music Education from the Teacher's College.
She had graduated from Smith College in 1937 with a History degree.
She was always a woman ahead of her time.

As we walked around campus that morning, I had tears in my eyes, thinking of her.
(center image is from Astrid)

1939 seems like forever ago but I 'spect some of this was there for Mom to see.
The Scholar's Lion statue was presented to the school in 2004 by alumus and sculptor Greg Wyatt.
I bet Mom would have loved it...since the school's mascot is Roaree the Lion.

And did she ever step foot in this St. Paul's Chapel, dedicated in 1907?
So many questions I'd love to ask her now that I've been there!

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On that note, we walked down Amsterdam Ave. from Columbia University to the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine from 1892..and first found a café across the street where we ate lunch.

After lunch, we first stopped at the Peace Fountain next to the cathedral.
The sculptor is the same Greg Wyatt who made the Scholar's Lion above, at Columbia!

The sunken plaza of the fountain was its own outdoor cathedral, basking in the sun.
We could have stayed there for hours...but we had miles to go....

The entrance to the cathedral reminded me of the grand cathedrals of Europe.
Right there in NYC!

No wonder Robin knew we'd want to see it!

And as if to plant a seal of approval on the day thus far,
this wife-n-wife wedding party greeted us as we left the cathedral...

...and made our way to the High Line (to be continued).


  1. It sure is fun seeing what you got to in NYC. West End Avenue is very much a residential, quiet avenue that few tourists visit. As it doesn't get a lot of sunlight, it doesn't even get much local foot traffic. People generally go west to Riverside Drive or east to Broadway if they are heading north or south. Yes, there's plenty to be seen there. Glad to hear you found your mother's name at Columbia. My closest friend from my kindergarten years went to school there, and I never learned my way around.

    However, for many years I took students on a field trip that went to The CLoisters (Did you get there?) and St. John the Divine. The church is built in the manner of the Medieval Cathedrals with solid stone and no metal structure. It is far from complete and periodically they decide more work needs to be done on it. Over the years I took classes there, the cathedral carried out their last building program. In order to do it, they built a stone shop and trained young people in the area to be stone carvers. Each year when we visited, more would be done, and there were years when we saw columns sketched onto blocks in the main portal and cut pieces in the stone yard which were to be added to the building.

    The training of local stone cutters was a way of giving to the community as they spent on the building. It was always a terrific field trip. We ended with a picnic at the CLoisters in which students were encouraged (and given bonus credit) for preparing a pcinic meal that represented their idea of Beauty in food. The subject of the course was Beauty. To get bonus credit, they had to share.

    1. What's fun for me, Ted, is to hear all the "trivia" you add to these NYC excursions. I LOVE it. Thank you.

      We did NOT go to the Cloisters this time but I have been there before and absolutely LOVED it. Definitely a must. I wouldn't mind going back again one year! I can just imagine you and your field trips. I would have loved following you around!

  2. That was the most jammed packed day, wasn't it? Loved every minute and especially to be there when you found your mom's information! Priceless!

    1. You were such a trooper for me that day, Robin, and I can't thank you enough. It really was priceless, wasn't it!

      And to think after all that we still walked the High Line!!! Coming up next.... :)

  3. Another well documented gorgeous day out in NYC. Thank goodness for digital cameras. If we were still using film cameras all the time, you would have to take out a bank loan to cover the cost of processing all those pictures you take!

    1. Isn't that the truth, Sham. And it's all happened in our lifetime! :)

  4. I loved seeing all your NYC photos. I hope someday I get lucky to go on a photo walk with you and Astrid. I'd like to learn from the masters or is that mistresses :)

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Awwww. You are such a sweetheart, Maria, but I don't think we need to teach you anything!!! You do a superb job of documenting your trips and I always learn from you. I especially like being able to see places through your travels that I'm sure I will never see with my own eyes. Isn't the internet wonderful in that regard! Thank you.

  5. This was such a fun day packed day and we walked a lot. We were short of eyes, however it was a blast.
    The fact that you found what you were looking for and you made the lady's day. It was worth the whole day.
    For me it was the first time to walk a campus. It is like a city, I got my education there.
    Those two brides.... they look like sisters, the things we see. We are so lucky.
    A perfect day with a perfect guide :)

    1. That time on the Columbia campus will be a memory for a long time, for sure. I just wish I could talk to Mom now. So many questions. I'm so glad you and Robin were able to watch and see the progress of the search. :) Thank you for being so supportive.

  6. Simply wonderful! I was so excited when you called me that day, though I don't remember what I said. I think you found her name right when we were on the phone! As you know, this is something I've wanted to do regarding Grandma Olive at the Art Institute of Chicago school. One day. Columbia is a beautiful place. I've only walked by and did not go inside the campus.

    I agree with you about the water towers, by the way. I love them.

    1. The tidbit you gave me on the phone, Ruth, was the Teacher's College part that helped the lady find Mom. So you did the trick! I really did have tears in my eyes as I walked around. I had done the same thing at the University of Virginia a few years back in remembrance of Dad....and even earlier at Smith for Mom. Pretty amazing parents when you stop to think of it!

      I'm so glad you have seen so much of NYC, too, and can share this with me knowingly.

  7. From beginning to end I can see that it was so many of the things you love and important to you ... how perfect!

    1. Yes, indeed, Susan. It totally met my expectations, if not more! Thank you.