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Carriage House’s Mark Steuer to Bring the Low Country to New York’s City Grit

Carriage House’s Mark Steuer to Bring the Low Country to New York’s City Grit

The Chicago chef will be preparing a dinner April 17

Chicago chef Mark Steuer has been touted as "the Low Country’s culinary ambassador to Chicago" thanks to his wildly successful restaurant, Carriage House. The chef, who hails from Charleston, S.C., has been serving his unique interpretation of cuisine that he grew up eating, and his modern take on soul food has earned him accolades such as a four-star review from Time Out Chicago. His dish of rice balls with pimento cheese is a standout, and was noted in Eater’s Pimento Cheese Awareness Month in November 2012.

Carriage House is one of the hottest restaurants in Chicago, and on April 17, chef Steuer will be heading down to New York’s quirky "culinary salon" City Grit to introduce his unique brand of cuisine to the city.

The five-course meal will feature some of the signature dishes from the chef’s Chicago menu, and is a one-time-only dinner. Tickets cost $75, and can be purchased here. It’s always a treat when a chef from out of town comes to showcase his skills, and this meal is primed to be particularly noteworthy.


N.Y., now in season

RHINEBECK, N.Y. — There are few places in this country where you can sip beer in a Colonial inn while chatting about the new Frank Gehry building up the road. The Hudson Valley is just such a spot, a region that bridges centuries as well as it straddles cultures.

The area that hugs the banks of the Hudson River just north of New York City has been home to Algonquin Indians, Dutch settlers, British land barons, Colonial revolutionaries, Gilded Age industrialists and presidents. Its scenic beauty inspired the Hudson Valley School of landscape painters and such writers as Washington Irving, who wrote the classic American tale “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Now modern icons of architecture and art are making their mark among its hills and hollows.

A longtime friend had the good sense to get married in the historic town of Rhinebeck last fall, so my husband, Paul, and I planned a long weekend around the event to explore some of the valley’s sights, old and new.

As we drove from our home near Washington, D.C., I had the uncanny sensation of fast-forwarding through time. Leaves on the trees were only starting to change color in Maryland, but they grew brighter and richer with ambers and crimsons as we drove north on Interstate 95.

We skirted New York City and headed toward our first night’s destination, Fishkill, 66 miles from Manhattan. As we reached the New York State Thruway, the landscape opened up. The setting sun blazed off steep hills thick with golden trees.

We had chosen to stay in Fishkill for pure practicality: It is only six miles north of Beacon, and we were eager to visit the Dia:Beacon Riggio Galleries, a museum established last year by the New York-based Dia Art Foundation. I booked a room on the Web, using Priceline, in a nearly new chain hotel. It seemed that Fishkill was being gobbled by big-box businesses and malls. Only a few churches hinted at the historic town it must have been.

The next morning, Paul and I hustled over to Beacon, an odd town that seems astonished to have a major new museum on its doorstep. Its business district had seen better days, yet a new road led to the sprawling museum, housed in a rehabilitated box-printing factory built in 1929 along the Hudson River. No doubt the influx of visitors will help the rest of Beacon catch up to its chic new resident.

The Dia:Beacon was established to display contemporary art on a massive scale in 240,000 square feet of galleries. Peaked clerestory windows flood the vast spaces with natural light, the museum’s main source of illumination. When dusk descends, the museum closes.

It displays 25 artists’ pieces, from the early 1960s to the present. Each gallery immerses visitors in a single artist’s work. From the entrance, Walter De Maria’s shiny metal squares and circles splay out across the floor, hinting at the scale of the Dia’s playing field. Standouts were looming steel sculptures by Richard Serra, wedged into tight spaces that forced us to interact with and discover the pieces intriguing plywood boxes by Donald Judd a wonderfully sinister giant spider by Louise Bourgeois and Michael Heizer’s negative-space sculptures, which plunge geometric steel shapes 20 feet into the floor.

These last works can be viewed only from behind a guardrail unless you make reservations for a 10:30 a.m. tour of the inner area. “Our curator thought it would be fun to attach bungee cords to people so they could climb down the sides,” one staffer confided. For now, all that’s allowed is peering.

Fans of contemporary art could easily spend a day here, soaking up the detailed information printed on portable cards available in every gallery or puzzling over video installations on the lower level. An outdoor garden provides a fresh-air break a cafe sells coffee, pastries, soups and sandwiches.

Outside Beacon, we hopped onto U.S. 9, a classic country road that swooped through glorious tunnels of colored trees as it traced the east bank of the Hudson River. Fourteen miles later we entered Hyde Park, a town that is justifiably proud of its most famous citizen, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Springwood, FDR’s birthplace, home, sanctuary and burial site, is operated by the National Park Service one of the nation’s earliest presidential libraries is also on the grounds.

Roosevelt’s imposing family home has a formal exterior, yet it’s surprisingly modest inside. The house was built in the early 1800s and has had several additions and renovations. One of the first stops on our guided tour was a ground-floor room where stuffed birds and other items collected by young Franklin rest in glass cases. Considering that the 32nd president spent much of his adult life disabled by polio, I had a hard time thinking of him in the innocence of childhood, romping through the woods gathering flora and fauna.

A tiny manual elevator and self-designed wheelchair are evidence of Roosevelt’s disability. The plain wooden chair fitted with wheels helped FDR conceal his inability to walk without assistance. When seated in it behind a desk or table, he appeared as if he were in a normal chair, not a wheelchair.

His simply furnished bedroom held one distinguishing feature: a bedside phone that had a direct line to the White House.

With spacious proportions, rich wood paneling and Oriental-style rugs, the combined living room and library was the most welcoming spot in the house. Roosevelt worked at a corner desk, and it was easy to imagine his wife, Eleanor, and others gathered for an evening of reading or conversation.

FDR established his presidential library while he was in office and even broadcast some of his fireside chats from the nearby building. Today it also houses a museum, which gave me insights into Roosevelt’s pre-presidential life and his comeback after polio struck at age 39. FDR’s most memorable line — “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” — could easily have been the theme for his own struggles.

Not far from Springwood is Val-Kill, Eleanor’s retreat and cottage. As her husband told it, “My missus and some of her female political friends want to build a shack on a stream in the backwoods.” The “shack” had seven bedrooms, two living rooms, a dining room, a dormitory for young people and space for two live-in servants.

Eleanor moved to Val-Kill permanently after FDR’s death in 1945, saying, “I felt freer there than in the big house.” Her guests included Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and England’s wartime leader Winston Churchill.

The Roosevelts were not the only luminaries to build a home in the Hudson Valley. In 1895, a New York City newspaper wrote about the “little colony of millionaires up the river,” referring to the lavish Hudson Valley mansions built by industrial barons. A ribbon of spectacular houses runs up the Hudson’s east bank — the opulent 54-room Vanderbilt Mansion the home of Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph and Morse code two Rockefeller family estates, one with an extensive collection of 20th century sculpture the home of Martin Van Buren, who retired there after his one term as president ended in 1841 the Persian palace of the 19th century Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church and the home of Irving, author of the story of Ichabod Crane’s encounter with the headless horseman.

Not wanting to run into such apparitions ourselves as darkness began to dim the brilliant leaves, we checked into Belvedere Mansion, just south of Rhinebeck, where my friend’s wedding would be held the next day. The inn’s main building is an imposing neoclassical home built around 1900 that evokes the Gilded Age, with French antiques and trompe l’oeil paintings in the public areas. Though there were several grand lodgings in the main house, our room in the detached carriage house was one of the tiniest I had ever occupied, with barely enough room to maneuver around the double bed. Fortunately, the Belvedere’s grounds and public spaces provided a comfortable retreat.

We joined friends for dinner at P.J. McGlynn’s, a cozy roadhouse north of Rhinebeck. The restaurant has Irish touches in its décor, and the menu focuses on lamb (raised by the owners) and steak. Reasonable prices kept the place packed with a crowd that looked to be equal parts locals and escapees from New York City.

A town made for strolling

After the wedding the next day, Paul and I were free to roam the heart of Rhinebeck, a town that boasts 437 buildings on the National Register of Historic Sites. Rhinebeck was founded in the 17th century, but most of its architecture spans the late 18th to the early 20th centuries. Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic and elaborate Queen Anne-style buildings snuggle together beneath regal shade trees. A sharp eye will spot old hitching posts and carriage steppingstones.

The streets are a stroller’s delight, with antiques shops, galleries, restaurants and the A.L. Stickles five-and-dime, another delightful time capsule, this one from the 1950s. At the two-screen art cinema house, Upstate Films, we caught a Brazilian documentary.

We also stopped at the Beekman Arms, an inn that’s operated on the spot since 1766. George Washington slept here, as did Benedict Arnold and Alexander Hamilton. It’s said that the Beekman was where Hamilton and Aaron Burr began the quarrels that ended in the duel on July 11, 1804, in which Hamilton was fatally shot. We entered and tumbled through time into the lobby, which had low-slung beamed ceilings and a blazing fire. A drink in the taproom was a good antidote to the autumn chill.

Sunday morning was crisp, and, bundled in sweaters, we stopped at the Rhinebeck farmers market, overflowing with fall bounty in jewel tones of garnet, gold and deep greens. We inspected pumpkins, looking for a jack-o'-lantern canvas. Crates of apples with names we’d never encountered tempted us to fill a bag. We even found a farmer selling huge Honeycrisps, the apple that had the market buzzing.

Though you could apply the word “quaint” to much of the Hudson Valley, that wouldn’t describe the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, which opened last year at Bard College, about 15 minutes north of Rhinebeck. The Frank Gehry-designed building thrusts billowing stainless steel sheets into the sky. As we approached from across a meadow, it mirrored the low, lead-tinged clouds and fractured the brilliant leaves of surrounding trees into a reflected fall abstract. The undulating roof is pieced together from 5,647 steel shingles, weighing more than 6 tons, with a huge panel that swoops down to the entrance, evoking a samurai helmet — or, on a dark day as this was, Darth Vader’s headgear.

We took a 45-minute tour, which included the larger of two theaters constructed as boxes inside the structure. As we sat on seats stylishly upholstered with the names of the 2003 graduating class, our guide explained how even what seemed to be purely decorative curlicue wall designs were part of the complex acoustics. I was fascinated to learn that 150 wells feed geothermal heat pumps that warm the building.

Later, as we drove toward home munching crisp apples, I wondered what Ichabod Crane would have made of Gehry’s building had he encountered it in the silvery moonlight of a Hudson Valley night.

From LAX, United, American, America West and Delta offer nonstop service to New York’s Kennedy airport. Northwest offers connecting service (change of plane).

To New York’s LaGuardia, Continental, Frontier, Northwest, ATA, United, US Airways and Delta offer connecting service.

To Newark, N.J., Continental, American and United have nonstops. Delta, America West, US Airways and American Trans Air have connecting service.

Restricted round-trip fares to all airports begin at $198.

Belvedere Mansion, 10 Old Route 9 (3 1/2 miles south of Rhinebeck) (845) 889-8000, https://www.belvederemansion.com . Rooms in the opulent main house, some with views of the Hudson River, are $275 the Carriage House has small rooms from $75 and larger rooms with fireplaces from $150. Adirondack Lodge has 10 “forest Zen"-style rooms from $175.

The Beekman Arms, Route 9, Rhinebeck (845) 876-7077, https://www.beekmandelamaterinn.com . One of America’s oldest operating inns has 13 rooms on its upper floors. Doubles $140-$300.

Olde Rhinebeck Inn, 340 Wurtemburg Road, Rhinebeck (845) 871-1745, https://www.rhinebeckinn.com . I wasn’t able to visit this 1745 farmhouse inn set by a pond, but it’s recommended by locals. The four rooms are decorated in country chic, some with Jacuzzis or a fireplace. Doubles from $195.

Dia:Beacon Riggio Galleries, 3 Beekman St., Beacon (845) 440-0100, https://www.diabeacon.org . Open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays-Mondays through mid-April. Adults $10.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Home National Historic Site, 4097 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park (845) 229-9115, https://www.nps.gov/hofr . Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Adults $14, including guided tour of house and access to library. Reserve during busy fall foliage season: (800) 967-2283, reservations.nps.gov.

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Route 9G, Hyde Park (845) 229-9115, https://www.nps.gov/elro . Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays-Mondays. Adults $8, including guided tour.

Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, 60 Manor Ave., Annandale-on-Hudson (845) 758-7950, fishercenter.bard.edu. Tours of the Frank Gehry-designed building are $5 and start at 2 p.m. daily.

P.J. McGlynn’s, 147 Route 9, Red Hook (845) 758-3102. Serves lamb, steaks and seafood in a cozy roadhouse atmosphere. Entrees $6.95-$19.95.

Belvedere Mansion (see address above). The inn served a superb meal at our friend’s wedding. Updated American fare, including lamb and duck, in a romantic setting. Open Thursdays-Sundays. Entrees $23-$32.


'Lift Up Thy Voice'

There was nothing outwardly ostentatious about Charleston society. To primp and preen over their wealth, to lord their position over their "lessers," or to condescend to snobbery—the province of the newly rich—would have never occurred to John Faucheraud Grimké or the other gentlemen sons of South Carolina's great families. Such behavior would have been unseemly, undignified. White Charleston society was instead a world apart, a community of wealth, custom, and privilege built on the English model. Its oldest families, who were descended from the original settlers brought to the Carolinas from Britain in 1669 under the watchful eye of Lord Proprietor Sir Anthony Ashley-Cooper, had become the denizens of a new class of cotton, indigo, and rice wealth. Endowed with such a distinguished pedigree (their ancestors had been sent to the New World by their king, Charles II, himself), they affected what they believed to be the aristocratic manner of their British cousins. Their belief in their way of life, and in their right to live that life as they pleased, formed the central tenet of their faith.

Along the Ashley and Cooper rivers (which join, Charlestonians say, "to form the Atlantic Ocean"), the Pinckneys, Gaillards, Alstons, Draytons, Smiths, Laurenses, Lowndeses, Middletons, Hugers, Rutgerses, and Grimkés built homes with tall wooden doors and ornate black iron gates, behind which well-attired slaves served cool drinks or tended gardens that imitated those of England's noble estates. Everything about Charleston bespoke its standing as the South's greatest city—if not in size, then in status and stature. By 1800, with a population of twenty thousand—a mere 150 years after its first one hundred families landed at the spit of land named Oyster Point—Charleston was the South's premier port and America's fourth-largest urban area. Its harbor was crowded with ships bound for Britain, France, the Northern states, and Africa. Charleston exported tobacco, rice, cotton, indigo, and lumber and imported textiles, furniture, and slaves.

A visitor to Charleston in 1800 would have been impressed by the city's understated magnificence it was as subtle and majestic as any midsize British town but without the seedy clutter. It was only a short carriage ride from the outskirts, down the tree-lined cobblestoned streets and past the homes of Charleston's most affluent citizens, to the center of the city, which was located on a flat peninsula. There, Charleston's banks, dry-goods stores, artisan shops, and law, municipal, and state offices were grouped along two dozen streets that led down to the city park, near the "battery." Young men and women, courting, strolled each summer evening along the waterfront, often accompanied by servants. There were benches in the park, set among oak, maple, and cypress trees planted by the first settlers. If laughter was heard, it was restrained the more boisterous voices, from the docks, were muted by the long row of offices on the southern side of the city center. On the other side of the city, separated from the affluent homes by a creek, a small group of middle- and lower-class homes jutted up against the modest post office. Nearby were the slave pens, to which men, women, and children from Africa were brought after being quarantined and before being sold to the wealthy planters and those in need of house servants.

One of Charleston's best-known and best-appointed offices (in a nondescript brick building just two blocks from the slave pens) was managed by John Phillips and John Gardner, Rhode Island-born entrepreneurs who hired the captains and leased the ships that transported the slaves to Charleston. In just four short years, between 1803 (when Charleston reopened its overseas slave trade after a legislated hiatus that dated from the end of the American Revolution) and 1807 (when America's international trade in slaves was stopped forever), the firm of Phillips & Gardner reaped a windfall in profits from its imports. In that period, nearly forty thousand Africans landed on Charleston's shores, to be dispatched inland by wagon or sent north along the middle Atlantic coast aboard ships to their new masters. Charlestonians were careful in their trade. Arriving slaves were quarantined for ten days on Sullivan's Island, outside Charleston Harbor, before being transferred to the slave pens. By 1810, the flood of overseas slaves had ended, but the effect was permanent: a majority of South Carolinians were now black, and parts of the state were so inundated by the trade that whites made up only a small portion of the population.

The large home of Judge John Faucheraud Grimké and his wife, Mary Smith Grimké, on Front Street, was a short drive from Saint Philip's Church. When the services ended, the judge and his children, in separate carriages, would ride back to their home and receive guests, as was their Sunday custom. Sometimes, in the evening, the Grimkés would join other parishioners in a special prayer service, or else take part in an event at the central venue of Charleston's civic life, the Old Exchange Building, which looked out over the harbor. The Old Exchange served as the setting for the city's political activity, hosting a regular round of lectures, campaign speeches on patriotic or religious themes emphasizing "right thinking" and "correct morals," and appropriately noncontroversial public discussions about local matters. The Grimké family spent other Sunday evenings calling on close friends at plantations along the Ashley River, northwest of the city, where the Middletons and Draytons had palatial homes. But even as a child, Sarah Grimké, the judge's second daughter and sixth child, preferred teaching Sunday religious classes for slave children to making social visits with her family to Charleston's elite. Sarah was a gifted teacher, though she was frustrated by the fact that she was forced to give her lessons verbally, since Charleston's slaves were forbidden to learn how to read. More comfortable with children than with adults, the nervous young woman became an excellent storyteller. She was at ease with her young charges and believed that their innocence was God's way of reflecting the original state of man.

Christmas, Easter, and Independence Day were the most important holidays in Charleston. For South Carolinians, July 4 was particularly special, and the city took great pride in its festivities. Charleston had suffered grievously during the American Revolution, when the British Army had imprisoned the sons of some of the city's great families in the "dungeon" (preserved for posterity as a museum beneath the Old Exchange Building). On Independence Day, families from South Carolina's up-country plantations would come to Charleston to enjoy the city fair and watch the fireworks that the municipal committee put on around the harbor. The citizenry relived the day when American troops had reoccupied Charleston after Washington's stunning victory at Yorktown. Charlestonians and their up-country "cousins" spread their picnic blankets in the park and greeted old friends as children played and gawked at the soldiers of the South Carolina Militia, resplendent in their uniforms. The militia was the pride of Charleston, a permanent symbol of its contribution to the founding of the young Republic. But even as Charleston celebrated its independence, it took pride in vestigial evidence of its colonial past—streets, lined with trees and six-foot-wide brick walks, that were still named George and King.

The highlight of each July 4 came when Charleston's families gathered in Battery Park to witness the firing of the set of cannons that looked out over the harbor. Just as they had once been fired to stave off Blackbeard, whose pirates had threatened the city in 1718, and the British invaders, whose ships had been spotted outside the harbor in 1780, so now they memorialized the birth of independence, sending their shells out into the middle distance, toward the walls of the fort that guarded the city. This seemingly impregnable gray eminence blocking Charleston Harbor was named for Thomas Sumter, a dashing Revolutionary War cavalryman and friend of John Grimké's. Sumter and Francis Marion, another famous partisan, were the state's premier heroes and, as the "Gamecock" and the "Swamp Fox," the twin icons of its legendary struggle with royalty, having fought the British from their low-country lairs in a series of hit-and-run cavalry raids. Fort Sumter was as much a symbol of Charleston's fighting spirit as the city's homes were symbols of its elegance—and it seemed no less invincible than South Carolina society. Both would stand forever. When the firing of the militia's artillery stopped, and the last of the shells had burst out over the fort, the applause of the onlookers rang into the night, and Charleston's families turned for home, secure in their independence and confident in their future.

The Grimkés and others like them practiced an easy patriotism born of the certainty that no one, ever, could question their right to command the society that their ancestors had created. So assured were they in their position that in 1810, when Sarah Grimké was eighteen, the state legislature (called the House of Commons in a bow to English pretensions) passed legislation granting all white males the right to vote, well in advance of similar measures passed by legislatures in the rest of the country. The real reason for such liberalism was that in South Carolina, the right to vote meant little. Through a series of legislative sleights-of-hand, the administration of the state was firmly controlled by a small group of rich and influential low-country planters, a class to which John Grimké and his family belonged. The legislation merely ensured that the House of Commons would retain its monarchial privileges, claiming the right to appoint all the state's judges, presidential electors, and officeholders, including the governor. The institution of slavery was jealously guarded by the House, since nearly all of its members owned slaves. South Carolina was the nation's only true "slavocracy."

South Carolina's constitution was derived from a unique document of colonial history. "The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina" was written by Lord Ashley with the help of his personal secretary John Locke. The aristocratic Locke was a learned but unpretentious empiricist Englishman who won immortality by helping to create that most breathtaking of all beliefs, the notion that the people had a right to choose their own government. The constitution drafted by Ashley and Locke was nonetheless at some remove from true republicanism: while it emphasized religious tolerance, which appealed to the French Huguenots (one of Charleston's most prominent lineages), it also established an economic system that encouraged large land grants, which appealed to its English-descended gentry. (Locke, known for his suggestion that some revolutions were necessary, was much less revolutionary than Americans then believed: he held considerable stock in the Royal Africa Company, whose business was the slave trade.) South Carolina's government elected legislators who institutionalized the status of South Carolina's small but affluent nobility. Charleston's citizens constantly celebrated their independence, their love of liberty, and their individual self-reliance, though in fact they were the least disposed to grant those same privileges to anyone else. Charleston was not a city of immigrants, of huddled masses, or of oppressed yearning to be free, nor was it destined to become one. After the initial influx of Huguenots and Englishmen, the town fathers had enacted strict citizenship laws that choked off the flow of new settlers (excepting slaves from Africa), even as they insisted that theirs was a friendly city that would welcome anyone.

For these reasons, Charleston was an anomaly, different not only from the rest of America but even from the rest of the South. During the crush of westward settlement that marked the opening of cotton lands following Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin, in 1794, Charleston's elite remained remarkably unaffected by the new South's cotton wealth. Life went on as before, with the exception that those low-country planters who refused to cash in on cotton began to live on borrowed time and borrowed money. But if a handful of Charleston's elite families started to lose their riches, they nevertheless retained their power in the state and city, and their status as South Carolina's leading citizens. The silent, all-knowing, even self-deprecating style that the members of Charleston's elite feigned in imitation of their London cousins stayed firmly in place they were guaranteed their continued high standing by a system that was, as one aging and disenchanted Charlestonian would later bitterly reflect, "rocked in the cradle of wealth."

Nothing intruded on this easy life. The national government was far away, and the state government solidly in the hands of the ruling class even slavery itself, while an ever-present reality, seemed a distant concern. In truth, the heads of Charleston's most affluent families had little contact with any but the most trusted of their slaves—those who cooked the family meals or raised the family's children. Few heads of such families ever lowered themselves to the direct, day-to-day management of their plantations. That was left to overseers. Only on rare occasions, when their lives or livelihoods were threatened by precipitously falling profits or, even more unusually, rumors of a slave insurrection did Charleston's ruling fathers intervene in the daily existence of their chattel property.

White women, the ruling matrons of Charleston society, had much more contact with slaves than their husbands, but that contact was of a particular kind. Although white women might be considered the "mistresses" of their domain, they were in fact as dependent on black domestic servants as their husbands were on overseers. House slaves invariably knew more about raising children and disciplining them than the Huger, Pinckney, Smith, or Grimké women, since such matters were left almost exclusively in their hands. So it was, on both counts, that the young male and female progeny of Charleston's elite were planted and pruned to imitate this life-style, trained not as enterprising and creative innovators wedded to the idea of progress, but as "managers" of a status quo that was as fanatically defended as it was universally unquestioned.

In the early 1800s, the Grimké family grew and prospered. John Faucheraud Grimké was as talented and innovative a businessman as had been his paternal grandfather, the silversmith John Paul Grimké. Originally from Alsace-Lorraine and German by birth, the first American Grimké had spoken with a German accent and added an é to his name, giving it a French cast. His decision to change the family name, if only slightly, was intended to appeal to the sensibilities of Charleston's most important families, who would not have taken well, he believed, to a name that sounded as German as Grimk. Grandfather Grimké's silver business became one of the most successful in the South, and his products rivaled those crafted by that other famous American silversmith, Paul Revere. Charleston's first families rewarded him handsomely for his unique silver designs and his superior craftsmanship, enabling him to build a jewelry business in the city and to purchase land in the low country to the south. He recovered from a fire that burned his store in 1740 (aided by a loan from Henry Laurens, one of Charleston's most respected civic leaders) and then helped the city fathers rebuild after the devastating hurricane of 1754. John Paul Grimké added to the family holdings and dabbled in the cotton business. He proudly viewed himself as a patriot and was one of the original members of Charleston's Sons of Liberty during the American Revolution. Ambitious, intelligent, and prudent, John Paul Grimké was one of the city's most respected citizens. His grandson John Faucheraud Grimké emulated him.

Sarah Grimké admired her father. From an early age she viewed him as the arbiter of her personal morals and the touchstone of her inner strength. She prized the calm propriety with which he approached every crisis. The scion of a most proper Southern family, the grandson of an American patriot, and a descendant of the highly respected Faucherauds, Judge Grimké was a legendary figure even in his youth. As a young man he excelled at his studies, was sent to England to read the law, and took his degree at Oxford. He practiced in London and kept rooms in the Temple. He was a brilliant lawyer and political thinker. In 1774 he was asked by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Pinckney to join them in signing a petition addressed to King George III, protesting the Boston Port Bill. He proudly agreed to their request and thereafter was viewed as one of the nation's first revolutionaries. Great things were expected of John Grimké.

Grimké had been cutting a wide swath through British society, but when the American Revolution overtook the colonies, he returned to Charleston, where he raised and trained a company of cavalry. Commissioned as a captain in the Revolutionary Army, he was imprisoned by the British for his disloyalty, then released. Avoiding the loyalist forces, he slipped out of Charleston and joined the army of General Robert Howe. He served as deputy adjutant for South Carolina and Georgia, fought with distinction at the Battle of Eutaw Springs, and then was sent north, where, as a young lieutenant colonel, he witnessed the surrender of Lord Cornwallis's army at Yorktown. He came home from the Revolution a military hero, an accomplished lawyer, a friend of the famous Marquis de Lafayette, and a cosmopolitan political thinker. The war was over, the colonies were free, and a new nation was being born. John Faucheraud Grimké was just twenty-six years old.

Grimké quickly ascended to the top rank of Charleston lawyers. In political circles, his name was regularly mentioned for statewide office. As was his habit then and throughout his life, Grimké ignored the attention, built his law practice, and diligently added to his family holdings. He purchased lots in Charleston, small parcels in the rice country, and land adjoining his family's up-country plantation in the Union District. Called Belmont, this larger cotton plantation in the Appalachian foothills was the jewel in the Grimké family crown. Grimké understood that in the agriculturally fueled mercantilist economy of Charleston, land was the most stable currency and would serve as the best insurance against the wild swings in prices for lowland rice and labor-intensive cotton. He watched over his land carefully and extended his holdings whenever he could. He was a shrewd businessman and investor and was respected for his sound financial dealings.

In 1779, at the age of thirty, John Grimké was appointed to a judgeship and named as a delegate to the state convention that had been called to debate ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Grimké was a conservative who supported state power, but as a veteran officer of the Revolutionary War, he stood with George Washington (whom he greatly admired) and Alexander Hamilton in favor of the Constitution. Like many other South Carolinians, he welcomed the advent of a strong central government, but only after receiving assurances that the smaller states, especially Southern ones such as South Carolina, would be able to retain their unique institutions and traditions. He served with distinction at the ratifying convention and proudly celebrated South Carolina's entry into the new Union.

John Grimké married well, in 1784. Mary Smith was the great granddaughter of the second Landgrave of South Carolina. A Smith ancestor had saved Charleston from Blackbeard's pirates soon after the town was first settled, and Mary's father, "Banker Smith of Broad Street," was the city's leading financier and its wealthiest citizen. Their line mixed English nobility with Scottish rebels, plantation aristocrats with colonial governors, hardy pioneers with sober patriots. Along with the Draytons, Middletons, and Rhetts, the Smiths dominated Charleston society and South Carolina's political establishment. Robert Barnwell Rhett, Mary Smith's distant nephew (who actually changed his family's surname from Smith in order to be "more Southern"), later became South Carolina's leading voice for secession and an outspoken advocate of "Southern nationalism." Mary Smith Grimke, called Polly by her friends and family, was twelve years younger than her husband but every bit the proper Charleston lady. She was a small woman who spoke often and with animation. With her sharp-edged intensity, strong opinions, and deep religious faith, she was a perfect match for the self-effacing, scholarly Judge John Grimké.

The newly married couple's home was one of the most admired in Charleston. Two winding staircases led up to the massive four-story town house. The first story was set aside for the kitchen, the second for Judge Grimké's offices. The family entertained guests on the third floor and lived on the fourth. To the rear were the slave quarters, which housed cooks, servants, housekeepers, butlers, footmen, seamstresses, laundresses, and parlor maids. The rooms were large and high-ceilinged. Judge Grimké's books were everywhere, lining the wails of his office and wails in the living quarters. Although formal dressers, dining tables, and desks were often imported from England, the family furnished much of the house locally, keeping a nearby furniture-maker busy mimicking the styles of London.

Excerpted from Lift Up Thy Voice by MARK PERRY. Copyright © 2001 by Mark Perry. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Contents

The name "Hell's Kitchen" generally refers to the area between 34th to the south and 59th Street to the north. Starting west of Eighth Avenue and the north side of 43rd Street, city zoning regulations generally limit buildings to six stories. As a result, most of the buildings are older, and are often walk-up apartments. For the most part, the neighborhood encompasses the ZIP Codes 10019 and 10036. The post office for 10019 is called Radio City Station, the original name for Rockefeller Center on Sixth Avenue. [5] [6]

The neighborhood overlaps Times Square and the Theater District to the east at Eighth Avenue. On its southeast border, it overlaps the Garment District also on Eighth Avenue. Two landmarks are located here – the New Yorker Hotel at 481 Eighth Avenue, and the Manhattan Center building at the northwest corner of 34th Street and Eighth Avenue. Included in the transition area on Eighth Avenue are the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street, the Pride of Midtown fire station (from which an entire shift, 15 firefighters, died at the World Trade Center), several theatres including Studio 54, the original soup stand of Seinfeld ' s "The Soup Nazi"' and the Hearst Tower. [5]

The northern edge of Hell's Kitchen borders the southern edge of the Upper West Side, though the section west of Ninth Avenue and south of 57th Street is also part of the Columbus Circle neighborhood. 57th Street was traditionally the boundary between the Upper West Side and Hell's Kitchen, but another interpretation puts the northern border at 59th Street, where the names of the north–south avenues change. Included between 57th and 59th Streets the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle Hudson Hotel Mount Sinai West, where John Lennon died in 1980 after being shot and John Jay College. [5]

Beyond the southern boundary is Chelsea. The Hudson Yards neighborhood overlaps with Hell's Kitchen, and the areas are often lumped together as "West Midtown", given their proximity to the Midtown Manhattan business district. The traditional dividing line with Chelsea is 34th Street. [5] The area between the rail corridor at Pennsylvania Station and the West Side Yard and 42nd Street, and east of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, is also known as Hell's Kitchen South. [7] [8]

The western border of the neighborhood is the Hudson River at the Hudson River Park and West Side Highway. [5]

Several explanations exist for the original name. An early use of the phrase appears in a comment Davy Crockett made about another notorious Irish slum in Manhattan, Five Points. According to the Irish Cultural Society of the Garden City Area:

When, in 1835, Davy Crockett said, "In my part of the country, when you meet an Irishman, you find a first-rate gentleman but these are worse than savages they are too mean to swab hell's kitchen." He was referring to the Five Points. [9]

According to an article by Kirkley Greenwell, published online by the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association:

No one can pin down the exact origin of the label, but some refer to a tenement on 54th Street as the first "Hell's Kitchen." Another explanation points to an infamous building at 39th as the true original. A gang and a local dive took the name as well. a similar slum also existed in London and was known as Hell's Kitchen. [10]

Local historian Mary Clark explained the name thus:

. first appeared in print on September 22, 1881 when a New York Times reporter went to the West 30s with a police guide to get details of a multiple murder there. He referred to a particularly infamous tenement at 39th Street and Tenth Avenue as "Hell's Kitchen" and said that the entire section was "probably the lowest and filthiest in the city." According to this version, 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues became known as Hell's Kitchen and the name was later expanded to the surrounding streets. Another version ascribes the name's origins to a German restaurant in the area known as Heil's Kitchen, after its proprietors. [11] But the most common version traces it to the story of "Dutch Fred the Cop", a veteran policeman, who with his rookie partner, was watching a small riot on West 39th Street near Tenth Avenue. The rookie is supposed to have said, "This place is hell itself", to which Fred replied, "Hell's a mild climate. This is Hell's Kitchen." [12]

The 1929 book Manna-Hatin: The Story of New York states that the Panic of 1857 led to gangs formed "in the notorious 'Gas House District' at Twenty-First Street and the East River, or in 'Hell's Kitchen', in the West Thirties." [13]

Hell's Kitchen has become the most frequently used name of the neighborhood, even though real estate developers have offered alternatives of "Clinton" and "Midtown West", or even "the Mid-West". The "Clinton" name, used by the municipality of New York City, originated in 1959 in an attempt to link the area to DeWitt Clinton Park at 52nd and Eleventh Avenue, named after the 19th century New York governor. [14]

Early history and development Edit

On the island of Manhattan as it was when Europeans first saw it, the Great Kill formed from three small streams that united near present-day Tenth Avenue and 40th Street, and then wound through the low-lying Reed Valley, renowned for fish and waterfowl, [15] to empty into the Hudson River at a deep bay on the river at the present 42nd Street. [16] The name was retained in a tiny hamlet called Great Kill, which became a center for carriage-making, while the upland to the south and east became known as Longacre, the predecessor of Longacre Square (now Times Square). [17]

One of the large farms of the colonial era in this neighborhood was that of Andreas Hopper and his descendants, extending from today's 48th Street nearly to 59th Street and from the river east to what is now Sixth Avenue. One of the Hopper farmhouses, built in 1752 for John Hopper the younger, stood near 53rd Street and Eleventh Avenue christened "Rosevale" for its extensive gardens, it was the home of the War of 1812 veteran, Gen. Garrit Hopper Striker, and lasted until 1896, when it was demolished. The site was purchased for the city and naturalistically landscaped by Samuel Parsons Jr. as DeWitt Clinton Park. In 1911 New York Hospital bought a full city block largely of the Hopper property, between 54th and 55th Streets, Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues. [18] Beyond the railroad track, projecting into the river at 54th Street, was Mott's Point, with an 18th-century Mott family house surrounded by gardens, that was inhabited by members of the family until 1884 and survived until 1895. [19]

A lone surviving structure that dates from the time this area was open farmland and suburban villas is a pre-1800s carriage house that once belonged to a villa owned by former Vice President and New York State governor George Clinton, now in a narrow court behind 422 West 46th Street. [21] From 1811 until it was officially de-mapped in 1857, the diminutive Bloomingdale Square was part of the city's intended future it extended from 53rd to 57th Streets between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. It was eliminated after the establishment of Central Park, [22] and the name shifted to the junction of Broadway, West End Avenue, and 106th Street, now Straus Park. In 1825, the City purchased for $10 clear title to a right-of-way through John Leake Norton's [a] farm, "The Hermitage", to lay out 42nd Street clear to the river. Before long, cattle ferried from Weehawken were being driven along the unpaved route to slaughterhouses on the East Side. [23] Seventy acres of the Leakes' (later the Nortons') property, extending north from 42nd to 46th Street and from Broadway to the river, had been purchased before 1807 by John Jacob Astor and William Cutting, who held it before dividing it into building lots as the district became more suburban.

Unity with the city and deterioration Edit

There were multiple changes that helped Hell's Kitchen integrate with New York City proper. The first was construction of the Hudson River Railroad, whose initial leg – the 40 miles (64 km) to Peekskill – was completed on September 29, 1849, By the end of 1849, it stretched to Poughkeepsie and in 1851 it extended to Albany. The track ran at a steep grade up Eleventh Avenue, as far as 60th Street. [24]

The formerly rural riverfront was industrialized by businesses, such as tanneries, that used the river for shipping products and dumping waste. The neighborhood that would later be known as Hell's Kitchen started forming in the southern part of the 22nd Ward in the mid-19th century. Irish immigrants – mostly refugees from the Great Famine – found work on the docks and railroad along the Hudson River and established shantytowns there.

After the American Civil War, there was an influx of people who moved to New York City. The tenements that were built became overcrowded quickly. Many who lived in this congested, poverty-stricken area turned to gang life. Following Prohibition, implemented in 1919, the district's many warehouses were ideal locations for bootleg distilleries for the rumrunners who controlled illicit liquor. At the start of the 20th century, the neighborhood was controlled by gangs, including the violent Gopher Gang led by One Lung Curran and later by Owney Madden. [25] Early gangs, like the Hell's Kitchen Gang, transformed into organized crime entities, around the same time that Owney Madden became one of the most powerful mobsters in New York. It became known as the "most dangerous area on the American Continent".

By the 1930s, when the McGraw-Hill Building was constructed in Hell's Kitchen, the surrounding area was still largely tenements. [26] After the repeal of Prohibition, many of the organized crime elements moved into other rackets, such as illegal gambling and union shakedowns. The postwar era was characterized by a flourishing waterfront, and longshoreman work was plentiful. By the end of the 1950s, however, the implementation of containerized shipping led to the decline of the West Side piers and many longshoremen found themselves out of work. In addition, construction of the Lincoln Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel access roads, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal and ramps destroyed much of Hell's Kitchen south of 41st Street. [27]

In 1959, an aborted rumble between rival Irish and Puerto Rican gangs led to the notorious "Capeman" murders in which two innocent teenagers were killed. By 1965, Hell's Kitchen was the home base of the Westies, an Irish mob aligned with the Gambino crime family. It was not until the early 1980s that widespread gentrification began to alter the demographics of the longtime working-class Irish American neighborhood. The 1980s also saw an end to the Westies' reign of terror, when the gang lost all of its power after the RICO convictions of most of its principals in 1986.

First wave of gentrification Edit

Special Clinton zoning district Edit

Although the neighborhood is immediately west of New York's main business district, large-scale redevelopment has been kept in check for more than 40 years by strict zoning rules in a Special Clinton District [28] designed to protect the neighborhood's residents and its low-rise character.

In part to qualify for federal aid, New York developed a comprehensive Plan for New York City in 1969–70. While for almost all neighborhoods, the master plan contained few proposals, it was very explicit about the bright future of Hell's Kitchen. The plan called for 2,000 to 3,000 new hotel rooms, 25,000 apartments, 25 million square feet (2,300,000 m 2 ) of office space, a new super liner terminal, a subway along 48th Street, and a convention center to replace what the plan described as "blocks of antiquated and deteriorating structures of every sort." [29] [30] However, outrage at the massive residential displacement that this development project would have caused, [31] and the failure of the City to complete any replacement housing, led to opposition to the first project – a new convention center to replace the New York Coliseum. [32]

To prevent the convention center from sparking a development boom that would beget the rest of the master plan with its consequent displacement, the Clinton Planning Council and Daniel Gutman, their environmental planner, proposed that the convention center and all major development be located south of 42nd Street where public policy had already left tracts of vacant land. [33]

Nevertheless, in 1973 the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was approved for a 44th Street site that would replace piers 84 and 86. But in exchange, and after the defeat of a bond issue that would have funded a 48th Street "people mover," [34] the City first abandoned the rest of the 1969–70 master plan [35] and then gave the neighborhood a special zoning district to restrict further redevelopment. [36] Since then, limited new development has filled in the many empty lots and rejuvenated existing buildings. Later, in 1978, when the city could not afford the higher cost of constructing the 44th Street convention center over water, the Mayor and Governor chose the rail yard site originally proposed by the local community. [37]

The SCD was originally split into four areas:

  • Preservation Area: 43rd to 56th Streets between Eighth and Tenth Avenues. R-7 density, 6-story height limit on new buildings, suggested average apartment size of two bedrooms (this was a response to the fact that between 1960 and 1970 developers had torn down 2,300 family-sized units and replaced them with 1,500 smaller units).
  • Perimeter Area: Eighth Avenue, 42nd and 57th Streets. Bulkier development permitted to counterbalance the downzoning in the preservation area.
  • Mixed Use Area: Tenth and Eleventh Avenues between 43rd and 50th Streets. Mixed residential and manufacturing. New residential development only permitted in conjunction with manufacturing areas. Later combined into "Other Areas".
  • Other Areas: West of Eleventh Avenue. Industrial and waterfront uses. Later combined with "Mixed Use Area"

Special permits are required for all demolition and construction in the SCD, including demolition of "any sound housing in the District" and any rehabilitation that increases the number of dwellings in a structure. In the original provisions. no building could be demolished unless it was unsound. New developments, conversions, or alterations that create new units or zero bedroom units must contain at least 20% two bedroom apartments with a minimum room size of 168 square feet (16 m 2 ). Alterations that reduce the percentage of two-bedroom units are not permitted unless the resulting building meets the 20% two-bedroom requirement. Finally, building height in the Preservation Area cannot exceed 66 feet (20 m) or seven stories, whichever is less.

Windermere Edit

As the gentrification pace increased, there were numerous reports of problems between landlords and tenants. The most extreme example was the eight-story Windermere Apartments complex at the southwest corner of Ninth Avenue and 57th Street. Built in 1881, it is the second-oldest large apartment house in Manhattan. [38]

In 1980, the owner, Alan B. Weissman, tried to empty the building of its tenants. According to former tenants and court papers, rooms were ransacked, doors were ripped out, prostitutes were moved in, and tenants received death threats in the campaign to empty the building. All the major New York newspapers covered the trials that sent the Windermere's managers to jail. Although Weissman was never linked to the harassment, he and his wife made top billing in the 1985 edition of The Village Voice 's annual list, "The Dirty Dozen: New York's Worst Landlords." [39] Most of the tenants eventually settled and moved out of the building. As of May 2006, seven tenants remained [40] and court orders protecting the tenants and the building allowed it to remain in derelict condition even as the surrounding neighborhood was experiencing a dramatic burst of demolition and redevelopment. Finally, in September 2007, the fire department evacuated those remaining seven residents from the building, citing dangerous conditions, and padlocked the front door. [41] In 2008 the New York Supreme Court ruled that the owners of the building, who include the TOA Construction Corporation of Japan, must repair it. [42]

Failed rezoning attempts Edit

By the 1980s the area south of 42nd Street was in decline. Both the state and the city hoped that the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center would renew the area. [43] Hotels, restaurants, apartment buildings, and television studios were proposed. [44] One proposal included apartments and hotels on a 30 acres (12 ha) pier jutting out onto Hudson River, which also included a marina, ferry slip, stores, restaurants, and a performing arts center. [45] At Ninth Avenue and 33rd Street, a 32-story office tower would be built. [46] Hotels, apartment buildings, and a Madison Square Garden would be built over the tracks west of Pennsylvania Station. [47] [48] North of the Javits Center, a "Television City" would be developed by Larry Silverstein in conjunction with NBC. [44]

One impediment to development was the lack of mass transit in the area, which is far from Penn Station, and none of the proposals for a link to Penn Station was pursued successfully (for example, the ill-fated West Side Transitway [49] ). No changes to the zoning policy happened until 1990, when the city rezoned a small segment of 11th Avenue near the Javits Center. [50] [51] In 1993, part of 9th Avenue between 35th and 41st Streets was also rezoned. [52] [53] However, neither of these rezonings was particularly significant, as most of the area was still zoned as a manufacturing district with low-rise apartment buildings. [54]

By the early 1990s, there was a recession, which scuttled plans for rezoning and severely reduced the amount of development in the area. [55] After the recession was over, developers invested in areas like Times Square, eastern Hell's Kitchen, and Chelsea, but mostly skipped the Far West Side. [56]

September 11, 2001 Edit

While most fire stations in Manhattan lost firefighters in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the station with the greatest loss of firefighters was Engine Co. 54/Ladder Co. 4/Battalion 9 at 48th Street and Eighth Avenue, which lost 15 firefighters. [57] Given its proximity to Midtown, the station has specialized in skyscraper fires and rescues in 2007, it was the second-busiest firehouse in New York City, with 9,685 runs between the two companies. [58] Its patch reads "Pride of Midtown" and "Never Missed a Performance". Memorials dot the station's exterior walls and a granite memorial is in a park to its north. Ladder 21, the "Pride of Hell's Kitchen", located on 38th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, and stationed with Engine Co. 34, lost seven firefighters on September 11. [59] In addition, on September 11, Engine Co. 26 was temporarily stationed with Engine Co. 34/Ladder Co. 21 and lost many firefighters themselves.

Redevelopment and second wave of gentrification Edit

Hell's Kitchen has become an increasingly upscale neighborhood of affluent young professionals as well as residents from the "old days", [60] [61] [62] with rents in the neighborhood having increased dramatically above the average in Manhattan. [63] It has also acquired a large and diverse community as residents have moved north from Chelsea. Zoning has long restricted the extension of Midtown Manhattan's skyscraper development into Hell's Kitchen, at least north of 42nd Street. [64] The David Childs- and Frank Williams-designed Worldwide Plaza established a beachhead when it was built in 1989 at the former Madison Square Garden site, a full city block between 49th and 50th Streets and between Eighth and Ninth Avenues that was exempt from special district zoning rules. This project led a real-estate building boom on Eighth Avenue, including the Hearst Tower at 56th Street and Eighth Avenue.

An indication of how fast real estate prices rose in the neighborhood was a 2004 transaction involving the Howard Johnson's Motel at 52nd Street and Eighth Avenue. In June, Vikram Chatwal's Hampshire Hotel Group bought the motel and adjoining Studio Instrument Rental building for $9 million. In August, they sold the property to Elad Properties for about $43 million. Elad, which formerly owned the Plaza Hotel, built The Link, a luxury 44-story building, at that location. [65]

Hudson Yards Edit

In 2003, the New York City Department of City Planning issued a master plan that envisioned the creation of 40,000,000 square feet (3,700,000 m 2 ) of commercial and residential development, two corridors of open space. [66] Dubbed the Hudson Yards Master Plan, the area covered is bordered on the east by Seventh and Eighth Avenues, on the south by West 28th and 30th Streets, on the north by West 43rd Street, and on the west by Hudson River Park and the Hudson River. The City's plan was similar to a neighborhood plan produced by architect Meta Brunzema and environmental planner Daniel Gutman for the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association (HKNA). The main concept of the HKNA plan was to allow major new development while protecting the existing residential core area between Ninth and Tenth avenues. [67] [68]

As plans developed, they included a mixed-use real estate development by Related Companies and Oxford Properties over the MTA's West Side Yard [69] a renovation of the Javits Convention Center [70] and the 7 Subway Extension to the 34th Street–Hudson Yards station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, which opened on September 13, 2015. [71] [72] The first phase of the Related project, completed in March 2019, comprises The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards, a public space centered around the Vessel structure, the Shed arts center, and several skyscrapers. [73] By the 2010s, the neighborhood had become home to young Wall Street financiers. [74]

Based on data from the 2010 United States Census, the population of Hell's Kitchen (Clinton) was 45,884, an increase of 5,289 (13.0%) from the 40,595 counted in 2000. Covering an area of 422.45 acres (170.96 ha), the neighborhood had a population density of 108.6 inhabitants per acre (69,500/sq mi 26,800/km 2 ). [2] The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 56.4% (25,891) White, 6.3% (2,869) African American, 0.2% (70) Native American, 15.0% (6,886) Asian, 0.1% (31) Pacific Islander, 0.4% (181) from other races, and 2.4% (1,079) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19.3% (8,877) of the population. [3]

The entirety of Community District 4, which comprises Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea, had 122,119 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 83.1 years. [75] : 2, 20 This is higher than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods. [76] : 53 (PDF p. 84) [77] Most inhabitants are adults: a plurality (45%) are between the ages of 25–44, while 26% are between 45–64, and 13% are 65 or older. The ratio of youth and college-aged residents was lower, at 9% and 8% respectively. [75] : 2

As of 2017, the median household income in Community Districts 4 and 5 (including Midtown Manhattan) was $101,981, [78] though the median income in Hell's Kitchen individually was $98,727. [4] In 2018, an estimated 11% of Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea residents lived in poverty, compared to 14% in all of Manhattan and 20% in all of New York City. One in twenty residents (5%) was unemployed, compared to 7% in Manhattan and 9% in New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 41% in Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea, compared to the boroughwide and citywide rates of 45% and 51% respectively. Based on this calculation, as of 2018 [update] , Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea are considered to be high-income relative to the rest of the city and not gentrifying. [75] : 7

Entertainment industry Edit

Hell's Kitchen's gritty reputation had made its housing prices lower than elsewhere in Manhattan. Given the lower costs in the past and its proximity to Broadway theatres, the neighborhood is a haven for aspiring actors. [ citation needed ] Many famous actors and entertainers have resided there, including Burt Reynolds, Rip Torn, Bob Hope, Charlton Heston, James Dean, Madonna, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Alicia Keys, and Sylvester Stallone. This is due in large part to the Actors Studio on West 44th at which Lee Strasberg taught and developed method acting. [80]

With the opening of the original Improv by Budd Friedman in 1963, the club became a hangout for singers to perform but quickly attracted comedians, as well, turning it into the reigning comedy club of its time. Once located at 358 West 44th Street and Ninth Avenue, it has since closed. [81]

Manhattan Plaza at 43rd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues was built in the 1970s to house artists. It consists of two 46-story towers with 70% of the apartments set aside for rent discounts for those who work in the arts. [82] The Actors' Temple and St. Malachy Roman Catholic Church with its Actors' Chapel also testify to the long-time presence of show business people.

The neighborhood is also home to a number of broadcast and music-recording studios, including the CBS Broadcast Center at 524 West 57th Street, where the CBS television network records many of its news and sports programs such as 60 Minutes and The NFL Today the former Sony Music Studios at 460 West 54th Street, which closed in 2007 Manhattan Center Studios at 311 West 34th Street and Right Track Recording's Studio A509 orchestral recording facility at West 38th Street and Tenth Avenue. The syndicated Montel Williams Show is also taped at the Unitel Studios, 433 West 53rd Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues. In 2016, rock music singer and songwriter Sting recorded his album entitled 57th & 9th at Avatar Studios, a music studio located near the intersection of 57th Street and Ninth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen. [83] The progressive metal band Dream Theater recorded their fourth studio album Falling into Infinity at Avatar Studios. Their song Hell's Kitchen is named after this area. [84]

The Comedy Central satirical news program The Daily Show has been taped in Hell's Kitchen since its debut. In 2005, it moved from its quarters at 54th Street and Tenth Avenue to a new studio in the neighborhood, at 733 Eleventh Avenue, between 51st and 52nd Streets. The 54th and 10th location was used for The Colbert Report throughout its entire run from 2005 until 2014. Until its cancellation, the studio was used for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, following Stephen Colbert's departure from Comedy Central. Next door at 511 West 54th Street is Ars Nova theater, home to emerging artists Joe Iconis and breakout star Jesse Eisenberg, among others.

The headquarters of Troma studios was located in Hell's Kitchen before their move to Long Island City in Queens. The Baryshnikov Arts Center opened at 37 Arts on 37th Street in 2005, the Orchestra of St. Luke's opened the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in the same building in 2011. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater opened at 55th Street and Ninth Avenue in 2006. The Metropolitan Community Church of New York, geared toward an LGBTQ membership, is located in Hell's Kitchen.

Food Edit

Ninth Avenue is noted for its many ethnic restaurants. The Ninth Avenue Association's International Food Festival stretches through the Kitchen from 42nd to 57th Streets every May, usually on the third weekend of the month. [85] It has been going on since 1974 and is one of the oldest street fairs in the city. There are Caribbean, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Irish, Mexican, and Thai restaurants as well as multiple Afghan, Argentine, Ethiopian, Peruvian, Turkish, Indian, Pakistani, and Vietnamese restaurants. Restaurant Row, so-called because of the abundance of restaurants, is located on West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. Notable establishments on Ninth Avenue include Mickey Spillane's, part-owned by the mobster's son, who also owns Mr. Biggs on Tenth Avenue/43rd Street. There are more restaurants and food carts and trucks on Tenth Avenue between 43rd and 47th Streets, including Hallo Berlin.

USS Intrepid Museum Edit

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is located at Hudson River Pier 86, 46th Street. Besides the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, the museum exhibits the cruise missile submarine USS Growler, a Concorde SST, a Lockheed A-12 supersonic reconnaissance plane, the Space Shuttle Enterprise, a Soyuz descent module, and other items.

Hell's Kitchen's side streets are mostly lined with trees. The neighborhood does not have many parks or recreational areas, though smaller plots have been converted into green spaces.

One such park is DeWitt Clinton Park on Eleventh Avenue between 52nd and 54th Streets. [86] It is across the West Side Highway from Clinton Cove Park. Another is Hell's Kitchen Park, built in the 1970s on a former parking lot on 10th Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets. [12]

A newer park in Hell's Kitchen is the Hudson Park and Boulevard, which is part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project. [87]

The 100 by 150 foot (30 by 46 m) Clinton Community Garden is located on West 48th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, and consists of 108 plots. Previously a haven for illegal activity, in 1978 the West 48th Street Block Association joined with the Green Guerillas to secure a lease for the site to renovate it for community use. When the city put it up for auction in 1981, residents formed the Committee to Save Clinton Community Garden, through both appeals to Mayor Ed Koch and unsuccessful efforts to purchase the site. In 1984, one month before the auction, the garden was transferred to the city's Parks Department, making it the first community garden to become parkland. It is open from dawn to dusk, and over 2,000 residents have keys to the park, which is used by an average of 500–600 people, including over 100 children, during the warm months. Recreational programs provide for events that include an annual Summer Solstice event, art shows, chamber music picnics, gardening seminars, and dance recitals. Residents have also held weddings in the park, and photographers have used it for photo shoots. [88]

Hell's Kitchen is patrolled by two precincts of the NYPD. [89] The area south of 42nd Street is patrolled by the 10th Precinct of the NYPD, located at 230 West 20th Street in Chelsea, [90] while the area north of 42nd Street is patrolled by the 18th (Midtown North) Precinct, located at 306 West 54th Street. [91] The 10th Precinct ranked 61st safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010, [92] while the Midtown North and Midtown South precincts ranked 69th safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime. [93] As of 2018 [update] , with a non-fatal assault rate of 34 per 100,000 people, Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea's rate of violent crimes per capita is less than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 313 per 100,000 people is lower than that of the city as a whole. [75] : 8

The 10th Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 74.8% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct reported 1 murder, 19 rapes, 81 robberies, 103 felony assaults, 78 burglaries, 744 grand larcenies, and 26 grand larcenies auto in 2018. [94] The 18th Precinct also has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 84.2% between 1990 and 2018. The precinct reported 3 murders, 21 rapes, 130 robberies, 190 felony assaults, 175 burglaries, 1,875 grand larcenies, and 31 grand larcenies auto in 2018. [95]

Hell's Kitchen is served by four New York City Fire Department (FDNY) fire stations: [96]

  • Rescue 1 – 530 West 43rd Street [97]
  • Engine Company 26 – 222 West 37th Street [98]
  • Engine Company 34/Ladder Company 21 – 440 West 38th Street [99]
  • Engine Company 54/Ladder Company 4/Battalion 9 – 782 8th Avenue [100]

As of 2018 [update] , preterm births in Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea are the same as the city average, though births to teenage mothers are less common. In Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea, there were 87 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 9.9 births to teenage mothers per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide). [75] : 11 Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea have a low population of residents who are uninsured. In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 11%, slightly less than the citywide rate of 12%. [75] : 14

The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of air pollutant, in Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea is 0.0098 milligrams per cubic metre (9.8 × 10 −9 oz/cu ft), more than the city average. [75] : 9 Eleven percent of Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea residents are smokers, which is less than the city average of 14% of residents being smokers. [75] : 13 In Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea, 10% of residents are obese, 5% are diabetic, and 18% have high blood pressure—compared to the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively. [75] : 16 In addition, 14% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%. [75] : 12

Ninety-one percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is higher than the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 86% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," more than the city's average of 78%. [75] : 13 For every supermarket in Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea, there are 7 bodegas. [75] : 10

Hell's Kitchen is located within three primary ZIP Codes. From north to south they are 10018 between 34th and 41st Streets, 10036 between 41st and 48th Streets, and 10019 between 48th and 59th Streets. [103] The United States Postal Service operates three post offices in Hell's Kitchen:

  • Radio City Station – 322 West 52nd Street [104]
  • RCU Annex Station – 340 West 42nd Street [105]
  • Midtown Station – 223 West 38th Street [106]

In addition, the James A. Farley Station, the main post office for New York City, is located at 421 8th Avenue. [107]

Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea generally have a higher rate of college-educated residents than the rest of the city as of 2018 [update] . A majority of residents age 25 and older (78%) have a college education or higher, while 6% have less than a high school education and 17% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 64% of Manhattan residents and 43% of city residents have a college education or higher. [75] : 6 The percentage of Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea students excelling in math rose from 61% in 2000 to 80% in 2011, and reading achievement increased from 66% to 68% during the same time period. [108]

Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is lower than the rest of New York City. In Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea, 16% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per school year, less than the citywide average of 20%. [76] : 24 (PDF p. 55) [75] : 6 Additionally, 81% of high school students in Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea graduate on time, more than the citywide average of 75%. [75] : 6

Schools Edit

The New York City Department of Education operates the following public elementary schools in Hell's Kitchen as part of Community School District 2: [109]

  • P.S. 35 (grades K, 2-12) [110]
  • P.S. 51 Elias Howe (grades PK-5) [111]
  • P.S. 111 Adolph S Ochs (grades PK-5, 7-8) [112]

The following high schools are located in Hell's Kitchen, serving grades 9-12 unless otherwise indicated: [109]

  • Business of Sports School [113]
  • Facing History School [114]
  • Food and Finance High School [115][116]
  • High School of Hospitality Management [117]
  • Independence High School [118]
  • Manhattan Bridges High School [119] (grades 6-12) [120]
  • Urban Assembly Gateway School For Technology [121]
  • Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction [122]

The Success Academy Charter Schools group opened an elementary school, [123] Success Academy Hell's Kitchen, [124] in the High School of Graphic Communication Arts building in 2013. [123]

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York operates Catholic schools in Manhattan. The Holy Cross School served the Hells Kitchen/Times Square area. Circa 2011 it had about 300 students. [125] Some students originated from areas outside of New York City and outside New York State. In 2013 the archdiocese announced that the school was to close. [126] The school had the possibility of remaining open if $720,000 in pledges to the school were obtained, and the school community almost got to the number however, the school was to be closed anyway. [127]

Library Edit

The New York Public Library (NYPL) operates the Columbus branch at 742 10th Avenue. The Columbus branch was founded in 1901 as the Columbus Catholic Club's collection, and it became an NYPL branch four years later. The current Carnegie library building opened in 1909 and was renovated in 2004–2005. [128]

Public transport Edit

Hell's Kitchen is bounded on the east by the New York City Subway's IND Eighth Avenue Line ( A , ​ C , and ​ E trains). The MTA built the 7 Subway Extension ( 7 and <7> ​ trains) for the aforementioned Hudson Yards development. The extension to 34th Street–Hudson Yards opened on September 13, 2015, [71] [72] making the IRT Flushing Line the westernmost New York City Subway line within Midtown. [129]

Several New York City Bus routes (namely the M11, M12, M31, M34 SBS, M42 and M50, as well as express bus routes) also service the area. [130]

Ferry operations in the neighborhood include Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises at West 42nd Street. [131] NY Waterway service is available at the West Midtown Ferry Terminal at 38th Street. [132] Service on the St. George route of the NYC Ferry system will also begin serving 38th Street in 2020. [133] [134] [135]

Private transport Edit

The Lincoln Tunnel connects New York City to New Jersey. The tunnel consists of three vehicular tubes of varying lengths, with two traffic lanes in each tube. The center tube contains reversible lanes. [136] [137]

Parking lots dot the neighborhood but are dwindling in quantity as developments are being built. Eleventh Avenue is lined with car dealerships, many of which claim to have the highest volume among all dealerships for their brands in the country. [138]

Many of the horse-drawn carriages from Central Park stay in stables just off the West Side Highway. It is not uncommon to hear the sound of horses in the neighborhood. There have been calls for banning horse-drawn carriages, especially from Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio following a handful of collisions between cars and carriages. [139] [140] [141] The carriage horses live in stables originally built in the 19th century, but today contain modern design features such as fans, misting systems, box stalls, and sprinkler systems. The carriage horses live upstairs in their stables while the carriages are parked below on the ground floor. [142] [143]

Intercity and long-distance transport Edit

The massive Port Authority Bus Terminal is between 40th and 42nd Streets and Eighth and Ninth Avenues. It serves numerous commuter and intercity routes, as well as airport shuttles and tour buses. [144]

Cruise ships frequently dock at the New York Passenger Ship Terminal in the 48th to 52nd Street piers, respectively numbered Piers 88, 90, and 92. [145] The piers originally built in 1930 are now considered small, and some cruise traffic uses other locations. [146]

Located just southeast of Hell's Kitchen is Penn Station. It is the busiest railroad station in North America, [147] [148] with 600,000 Long Island Rail Road, NJ Transit Rail, and Amtrak passengers using the station on an average weekday as of 2013 [update] . [149] [150] One railroad line to Penn Station runs through the neighborhood, the Empire Connection, which is located in the sunken West Side Line west of Tenth Avenue. Parts of the trench have been covered over. [151]


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Critics of the Rothko Chapel Say It’s Too Somber—Will a Pricey Restoration and Skylight Change That?

The visual arts institution intends to realize the artist’s original intentions for the space with its upgrades.

For about the past year and a half, the Rothko Chapel has been closed for a $30 million restoration ahead of its fiftieth anniversary, in 2021. Those involved with the project are careful to call it a restoration, not a renovation, because the goal is to realize painter Mark Rothko’s original intentions for the space, which were never properly executed.

Completed in 1971 and located on a tree-lined block in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, the Rothko Chapel is a modernist icon that is on the short list of any tour of must-see art or architecture in Houston. But describing the structure itself is oddly difficult. It’s a stand-alone octagonal building whose one room houses a permanent collection of paintings created specifically for the space. But it’s not exactly a chapel, a gallery, or a museum, although it’s partly all of those things.

So why all the fuss? To its devotees, the chapel is sublime: a darkened cosmos that facilitates powerful spiritual experiences. The space, which features fourteen dark paintings by Rothko, is famous for being dim and moody. It’s a sensory deprivation chamber that also functions as a theological deprivation chamber. Many customary signifiers of religion—statues, altars, stained glass—have been stripped away. It is, as Houston architectural historian Stephen Fox puts it, “a space that seems sacred for a post-religious world.”

Enthusiasts have long described how, if given a chance, the chapel’s stark minimalism can pull you out of your day-to-day mundanity and force you to turn inward. As Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, a conservator for the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York, wrote in 2007, “The Chapel . . . leaves you alone with yourself, your thoughts, your emotions, your vulnerabilities. . . . The artist did not want the paintings to come out to you he wanted them to draw you in.”

The idea underlying Rothko’s art, especially the chapel, is that you sit and stare and stare and stare, and after a while you enter a heightened state of—hallucination? Soul-baring interiority? Boredom? Or all of the above, because no two single experiences of the chapel are the same. The nature of every encounter with the chapel, its supporters say, depends on what you bring to it.

But the same minimalism that some people love has also made the chapel an easy punching bag for critics. The space is dark. It has a facade only a mother could love. It offers nothing to hang on to beyond inchoate experience, which could also be said about a lot of pretentiously vacuous art made in the decades since. Texas artist Seth Alverson bluntly said of the chapel, “It’s a place where art and life and imagination go to die.” Even New York art critic and artist Brian O’Doherty, who was a great defender of Rothko, referred to it in 1973 as “at worst a well-designed crematorium.”

The critique often extends to the paintings themselves. Gallons of ink have been spilled about their color subtleties and their many restorations. But regardless of how perfectly lit they are or how well they’ve held up over the decades, the fact remains that they are essentially black monochromes. Dominique de Menil, who, along with her husband, John, commissioned Rothko to create the chapel, reportedly said of her first impression of the paintings, “Frankly, I expected color.” Rothko, for his part, noted that it had taken him a year to decide what he wanted the paintings to be: something you don’t want to look at.

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Admittedly, it may be facile to draw a direct correlation between light colors and happiness and dark colors and sadness. But many people find the chapel to be depressing. Personally, I have visited the chapel many times since I was a child, and I have yet to be transported by it. What’s interesting is that Rothko himself probably would have been unhappy with the way the chapel has looked all these years. Although he envisioned the space as muted and meditative and made paintings to achieve that effect, it has never looked as he imagined it.

In the sixties, Houston art patrons John and Dominique de Menil offered the New York–based Rothko the opportunity to design a chapel for the city’s University of St. Thomas, a private Catholic college. A Russian Jew by birth, Rothko did not practice religion in any conventional sense. But he jumped at the chance to design a Catholic chapel with modernist sensibilities—“not another church filled with crucifixes,” as his son Christopher says, “but something that would speak to a contemporary mind and a contemporary spirit.”

The project encountered difficulties from the start. The architect Philip Johnson was initially commissioned to design the chapel where Rothko’s paintings would be installed. But the chapel wasn’t big enough for those two colossal egos, and Johnson walked off the project early on when it became clear that Rothko’s ideas for the building had no room for Johnson’s. (Looking at Johnson’s design now, it’s hard to imagine the triumphal building with its sixty-foot spire as the Rothko Chapel. Johnson wanted showy architecture, which could not be further from the low-ceilinged brick structure that Rothko envisioned.) Rothko now had total design control over the chapel, which is exceedingly rare for artists.

Rothko rented a large carriage house in New York City where he could experiment with a scale model of the room. The building had a big skylight that he loved, and he decided his chapel would have one, too. He had regarded the studio as a place to model the chapel, and he ended up modeling the chapel on the studio: it would be an octagonal space with a single large skylight, its most important architectural element and the primary source of light. His dark paintings would exist in a soft glow of natural light that would reflect the changes in season, weather, and time of day.

It was beautiful—in theory. But there were practicalities to work out, and in early 1970, three years after completing the paintings but before construction of the chapel began, Rothko committed suicide. In the wake of his death, the de Menils were left to parse out his intentions: What Would Rothko Do? Dominique de Menil must have keenly felt the onus to fulfill the late artist’s wishes, given the monumental solemnity of the chapel, his final commission. To further complicate things, the de Menils had a falling-out with the University of St. Thomas, moved the chapel off campus, and made it nondenominational, with an interfaith mission of uniting people from different religions. (It’s unclear if Rothko ever knew that the chapel would not be Catholic. After his death the de Menils stuck to his design as envisioned, which is why the chapel retains echoes of Catholicism: its fourteen paintings likely correspond to the number of the Stations of the Cross, and one of its triptychs has a raised central panel that plainly suggests an altarpiece.)

Barnett Newman’s “Broken Obelisk,” outside of the Rothko Chapel, during renovations in Houston on
May 18, 2020. Photograph by Arturo Olmos

Finally, construction moved forward. When the chapel was completed, however, a new problem emerged: the skylight. Rothko never visited Houston, but Philip Johnson knew Texas light, having already designed the de Menil house and other buildings in the state. He’d warned that a large skylight in Houston wouldn’t achieve the soft, ambient, Upper East Side light that Rothko wanted. He was right.

People who visited the chapel when it first opened, in 1971, spoke of a “column of light” that blazed into the room, simultaneously damaging the paintings and obscuring them, cast as they were in relative darkness around the perimeter of the space. All the subtleties of the paintings vanished in the intense Texas sun.

And so began years of attempts to try to get the lighting right. First, the curators installed a scrim over the ceiling. This proved insufficient, and in 1976 the decision was made to install a giant baffle that blocked much of the skylight. The baffle worked, sort of, in that it successfully dimmed the light. But it also exacerbated the chapel’s gloominess. Most visitors have never seen the chapel without this black spaceship (as Christopher Rothko puts it) hovering above their heads. Many people don’t even realize the chapel has a skylight.

The baffle didn’t just lower the ceiling and darken the space excessively. It also meant that the windowless chapel’s single connection to the outside world, its “pressure valve,” in the words of Christopher Rothko, was gone. Ancient sacred buildings often had an aperture in the roof that could symbolize a connection to the transcendent (think of the Pantheon in Rome). Perhaps because we think of Rothko as a gloomy figure, we assume that he intended for the chapel to be an intensely somber space. But while he meant for it to be dark and contemplative, he surely didn’t want it to feel like a cave of despair.

Blue tape outlines where Rothko’s paintings will be rehung after the restoration is complete.


The Stanleys and their Steamer

At the turn of the twentieth century, the American automobile industry was in a stage of youthful indecision. Two courses lay open to it: to follow the already well-defined path of steam propulsion, or to explore the lesser-known byway of gasoline power. Steam seemed to have the brighter future and, at this point, was heavily favored by the early auto makers. In the year 1900 more than 1,600 steam cars were produced, compared to only goo driven by gas.

The course of an industry, however—like that of an individual or an entire nation—is sometimes influenced by isolated incidents. Such an incident occurred in 1907 at Ormond Beach, Florida, where a crowd had gathered to watch the annual automobile speed trials. After a number of gasoline cars had made their runs, none reaching the 100 m.p.h. mark, the Stanley Steamer entry appeared. It was a frail vehicle that looked like a canoe turned upside down and mounted on spindly wheels. The press of the day had dubbed it “The Flying Teapot.”

As the Steamer started its run, it was silent except for a low, soft whistle. This rose to a faint whine, and a jetlike white stream flowed from the tail of the car. Soon the head of the driver could hardly be seen in the blur of speed. The car passed the 100 m.p.h. mark and surged up to 197 m.p.h. As it was about to touch 200 m.p.h., however, the racer hit a slight bump on the beach. The light car took off like a wingless glider, soared for about 100 feet at a height of 10 feet, then crashed to the cement-hard sand in an explosion of steam and flames. The driver was flung clear, badly injured but not dead.

Out of the flaming wreckage was born another of the legends surrounding the Stanley Steamer, the best car of its era but also the most misunderstood and maligned. No man, it was said, could open the throttle and stay with the Steamer. Anyone who could even hold the throttle open for three minutes, went another story, would be rewarded by the company with a prize of $1,000. Rumors went the rounds about men who had been blown to bits trying to win this prize.

These stories persist to this day, although all are false. The truth is that the Stanley Steamer was constructed in such a way that it was impossible for it to blow up. Early models, however, did have a tendency to let off steam in a noisy manner. One time in Boston, for example, a man drove up to a tavern, parked his Stanley Steamer at the curb, and went inside, forgetting to turn off a valve. The Stanley Steamer, in protest, gave off a thunderous blast of steam. The tavern windows rattled, glasses danced on shelves, and several startled patrons fell to the floor. The Stanley Steamer owner glanced at the prostrate patrons, remarked to the bartender, “Mighty powerful stuff you’re serving here these days,” and calmly walked out to his car.

This savoir-faire was typical of adventurous Stanley Steamer owners, who, according to a company announcement of 1916, had “the courage to buy the house they want, or the overcoat they want, or the automobile they want, even though their neighbors advise them not to.” They had to have courage of another kind, too. The fuel burners of the early Stanleys used to “flood,” shooting out sheets of smoke and flame. This looked a lot more dangerous than it actually was, since the front part of the car was virtually a fireproof compartment and the flames would go out of their own accord. Experienced drivers simply ignored the blaze and continued on their way, much to the consternation of all human and animal life in the vicinity. They did not always escape unscathed, however. One of them was driving a flaming Steamer through the streets one day, when a hastily summoned horse-drawn fire engine clattered around a corner, pulled alongside, and doused both vehicle and driver.

Incidents such as this—and the tales that grew out of them—eventually contributed to the death of the Stanley Steamer in 1925. This was a sad passing, for the Stanley Steamer was more than an automobile. It was the symbol of an era, an era of individuality and independence—an era that has been replaced, for better or worse, by standardization and conformity.

Appropriately, the highly individualistic Steamer was the brain child of two of the most rugged individuals in American industrial history—the Stanley twins, Francis E. and Freeland O., better known as “F. E.” and “F. O.” They were born in 1849 into a particularly large family in Kingfield, Maine—where, according to a local historian, “you couldn’t throw an apple without hitting a Stanley.”

F. E. and F. O. were identical twins. One was seldom seen without the other, and both were always whittling. This led them into their first enterprise, the carving and making of fine violins. Such an artistic beginning for a pair of auto makers is not as incongruous as it may seem. The Stanley Steamer, when it was produced, was as much a work of art as it was of mechanics. For instance, instead of employing patternmakers, the Stanleys themselves whittled the precise wooden forms required for casting machinery.

From violins the twins moved on to photography. They pioneered the dry photographic plate and perfected early X-ray equipment. The sale of these inventions set them up financially for the next stage of their career—the production of the Stanley Steamer. This important stage opened almost casually. In 1896 the Stanley twins went to a fair to see a widely advertised “horseless carriage” powered by steam. The car, imported from France, was billed as “The Marvel of the Age.” Actually it was not very impressive, continually snorting, jerking, and stalling.

The Stanley twins decided they could do better. Within a year, without any previous knowledge of steam engineering, they turned out the first Stanley Steamer. This was simply a small engine and boiler slung beneath a carriage, but it was an immediate success. Spectators were particularly impressed by the vehicle’s brisk pace and strange silence. “It was like watching a pair of pants run down the street with nobody in them,” one old-timer graphically recalls.

The Stanley twins had the New England characteristics of taciturnity and dry humor. They enjoyed a practical joke and were not above taking advantage of their car’s silence. Noiselessly pulling up to a toll bridge one time, they found the keeper sound asleep. When awakened, the keeper stared at the two men in the carriage and demanded, “How did you get up here without me hearing you? Where’s your horse?”

“He got away from us,” said F. E. “Have you seen him?”

The keeper shook his head. “No—but you’re blocking the bridge. You’ll have to get that carriage out of the way.”

“Of course,” said F. E., and covertly touched the throttle. The carriage silently glided across the bridge, leaving the keeper staring after it with open mouth.

Horses also suffered from the silent Steamer. They apparently couldn’t figure out what kind of invisible beast was drawing the carriage, and some horses wouldn’t even go near a trough that had been used by a Steamer taking on water. Dogs were another story. As soon as a Stanley Steamer appeared, the entire canine population would come running, barking, and howling. It used to be a mystery how a dog, sometimes more than a mile away, would know an unobtrusive Stanley was in the neighborhood. With today’s scientific knowledge, it is not hard to guess that the sharpeared dogs were attracted by the supersonic pitch of the Steamer’s burner.

To discourage dogs, the Stanley twins installed steamboat whistles on some of their early models. One blast and the dogs would scamper for home. More than a few humans were sent scampering, too—astonished by the sudden sound of a steamboat in the heart of, say, Syracuse, New York.

Train whistles were used on Stanleys, too. These were fine for “whistling down” the barriers at a train crossing— after the Stanley was safely across the tracks and on its way. The crossing keeper would then come out and stand scratching his head, wondering what had happened to the train he had heard.

On one occasion, however, the Stanleys’ train whistle backfired on them. Driving through downtown Boston, the twins noticed a woman coming out of a side street on a bicycle. To alert her, F. O. blew the train whistle. The woman, surprised at hearing a train in such an unlikely spot, stopped pedaling but forgot to put on the brakes. She ran into the side of the Steamer, left the bicycle, and literally flew into F. E.’s lap. F. E., with the aplomb lor which Stanley Steamer men were later to become noted, tipped his hat and said, “Madam, this seat is reserved. I am married.”

Despite such wry humor, the Stanleys were austere in their private lives. Neither of the twins drank or smoked, and both were shrewd, hardheaded businessmen. They took pleasure, however, in mystifying people with their similarity in appearance. They dressed alike and wore the same full-blown type of beard. For such a conservative pair, they also developed a strange passion for speed. This led to confusion among police all over New England.

For instance, in taking trips, the Stanleys would start out in two Steamers, F. O. a few minutes in advance of F. E. Sooner or later, F. O. would be stopped by a constable. While the lawman was lecturing F. O. on the evils of speeding, his twin would solemnly whiz past, identical in all respects. This numbed more than one rural arm of the law.

In 1899, after several years of making and selling individual Steamers, the twins bought a factory at Newton, Massachusetts, and formally launched what soon became known as the Stanley Motor Carriage Company. Two hundred cars were made that year, and the firm went down in history as the first American company to produce steam automobiles on a commercial scale.

This by no means meant that the Steamers were turned out on anything resembling a mass-production basis. On the contrary, the mechanics—all hand-picked by the Stanleys and all highly skilled it somewhat temperamental craftsmen—were encouraged to assemble the cars as they thought best. Consequently, each craftsman put into his cars something of himself as an individual, and, unlike the twins, no two Stanley Steamers were ever exactly alike. One mechanic even insisted on putting in the engine upside down, a principle he claimed was better than the Stanleys’. This was too much for F. E., who, after fruitless argument, went to F. O. and complained about the stubborn mechanic. “Better let him have his way,” F. O. advised. “He’s just as cussed as we are.”

And the Stanleys were “cussed” indeed. A customer simply couldn’t walk in and buy a Stanley Steamer. He had to be “screened,” like a candidate for an exclusive club. If the Stanleys decided he didn’t have the right personality for their car, they wouldn’t even take his order. Even when a customer’s order was accepted, this didn’t necessarily mean he would get a Steamer. If he did or said anything to displease the Stanleys between the time of placing the order and the actual production of the car, he would be refused delivery. This happened to a customer who asked for a written guarantee. The Stanleys, who figured their word was guarantee enough, showed the gentleman to the door.

This was hardly the way to build a business, let alone sell cars, and a modern automobile salesman would blanch at such treatment of a customer. It is a measure of the Stanley Steamer’s worth that it continued to sell as well and as long as it did, especially since one never left the factory until it had been paid for in hard cash. The Stanleys just didn’t believe in credit or installment buying, which they regarded as somewhat immoral.

The price of a Steamer was high for its day—in 1917, about $2,500—and there weren’t many people around who had that kind of cash. Sales were steady but never spectacular. The Stanley was a prestige car, and although many people would have liked one, they simply couldn’t afford it. If the car had been sold on credit, and more people had gotten to own one and know its wonderful qualities, it is possible the Steamer would never have been allowed to pass away.

However, there were other matters that contributed to its death. The Stanleys didn’t believe in advertising. They figured that it was a waste of money that should go into the improvement of their product. In later years, when the Stanley Steamer was suffering from all sorts of rumors, some judicious advertising might have saved the firm. Instead, the Stanleys stubbornly stuck by their policy of letting the Steamer “advertise itself.”

Nor would they give in to the demands of style and mass production, which would have increased the popularity of the car and brought its price down. Except for a few streamlined racers and an early rakish model known as the Gentlemen’s Speedy Roadster, the lofty, solid, individually-created Stanleys bore a resemblance to a prairie schooner. Almost always painted black, they had long, rounded hoods, which added to their funereal aspect. They looked like coffins.

Beneath that dark, gaunt exterior, however, beat a heart of mechanical ingenuity. The Stanley Steamer was—and still is—a model of engineering skill, combining comiort and economy with almost unbelievable speed and power. Yet with all this, it was surprisingly simple. The 1916 model, lor example, had only 32 moving parts, including the wheels and the steering wheel.

George Woodbury, a New Hampshire sawmill owner who reconstructed a 1917 Steamer, wrote a book about his experiences. The source of the car’s power, Woodbury wrote in The Story of a Stanley Steamer , was a twenty-gallon water tank set under the floor boards. The water was pumped into a small, drumlike boiler—23 inches in diameter and 18 inches highlocated under the hood. This boiler, bound with three layers of fine, high-grade steel wire, could easily take the 600 pounds of pressure considered necessary lor ordinary driving. Actually it was virtually impossible to burst the boiler, as the Stanleys once proved. They dug a hole in a field, placed a boiler in it, and pumped steam pressure up to 1,500 pounds. At that point, instead of exploding, the tubes within the boiler began to leak, allowing the steam to escape.

Inside the boiler were 751 small, seamless steel tubes, looking somewhat like metallic spaghetti in a big pot. In effect, they were tiny chimneys, conveying heat through the boiler from the pressure burner beneath and turning the water to steam. The cheaply operated kerosene burner—its jets fed from a twentygallon tank safely situated at the extreme rear of the car—worked on the blowtorch principle. Although small, the burner could generate intense heat.

The steam drove a two-cylinder horizontal engine, geared directly to the rear axle, which almost literally had the power of a locomotive, although its horsepower rating was low. Its tremendous performance sprang mainly from the peculiar nature of steam. This is best described by John Bentley, who states in Oldtime Steam Cars: “At best, the thermal efficiency of the internal-combustion engine may reach 35 per cent, whereas that of the steam engine tops 90 per cent.”

The Stanley Steamer also benefited from its single gear. In other words, when the engine turned over once, the rear wheels also turned once. This means that in a mile the simple Stanley engine turned only 980 times, compared to the 4,000 or 5,000 times of a complicated internal-combustion engine. No wonder the Stanleys asserted that their engine could “last forever.”

When the live steam had accomplished its job at the rear of the Stanley, it was piped back to a condenser in the nose. Here it was cooled to water and returned to the water tank, where it could be used again on an endless circuit. In this way, a Steamer could go for more than 200 miles before taking on a fresh supply of water. This was not so with the early Stanleys, which had no condenser arid could manage only one mile on a gallon of water, requiring so many stops at horse troughs that an outraged legislator in Vermont once demanded that “these vile, smelly, snorting steam demons be barred by law from facilities set out for the comfort and well-being of man’s noble friend and helper, the horse.”

The actual driving of a Stanley Steamer was simplicity itself. In fact, the Stanley anticipated modern automatic transmission by nearly half a century. A touch of the throttle—a sliding lever conveniently located just beneath the steering wheel—set the Steamer into silent motion. There was no clutch, and no gears to shift, which meant that a speed as low as 1 m.p.h. could be maintained all day without shaking, shuddering, rattling, overheating, or stalling. Another touch of the throttle would accelerate the car instantly.

There were two loot-pedals on the floor. The right one was for the brake, the left for reverse. The Stanley, incidentally, could go as fast backward as forward —and Stanley pranksters sometimes passed gasolinedriven cars in that manner.

The Steamer could also be thrown into reverse even while it was going ahead at speed. Since the old-time rear-wheel brakes were none too efficient anyway, this quick reverse action was helpful in times of emergency. During one race in New York State, a Stanley whirled around a corner just as a group of spectators was straggling across the road. The driver threw the Steamer into reverse, even though it was doing better than 60 m.p.h. With a shriek the tires tore loose, and then the body, which slid along the road and came to rest a few inches from the spectators, the driver draped over the windshield. The chassis, meanwhile, was obediently going backward. It slanted off the road, bumped across a field, and disappeared into a forest finally it encountered a solid line of trees, and only then did it grind to a halt.

On another occasion, a brick wall failed to stop a Stanley. It happened in a garage in Chicago, where a mechanic was tinkering with a Steamer. He “fired up” all right and opened the throttle, but still the car wouldn’t go—for the simple reason that the emergency brake was on. After steam pressure had been building up for some time, the mechanic finally remembered the emergency brake. As soon as he released it, the Stanley rammed through the wall of the garage and emerged into the street, leaving a trail of bricks behind it.

This trick of building up steam with the emergency brake on was used by racing drivers to get greater acceleration out of a Stanley. The Steamer, in its heyday, was limited in acceleration only by the amount of strain its old-type wheels and structure could stand. As early as 1914, however, a Stanley went from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in 11 seconds. This compares with the 11.7 seconds it takes a 1958, 310-horsepower Cadillac to go from 0 to 60 m.p.h. At a recent sports-car meet in California, this writer did 0 to 60 m.p.h. in 9 seconds in a reconstructed and improved Stanley, which put the old Steamer right up there with such modern speedsters as a British-made Triumph and a Studebaker Golden Hawk.

The accelerating action of a Steamer is different from that of a gasoline car. Instead of a grabbing, jerking, neck-snapping forward lunge, the motion is smooth and gliding, strangely rubbery, like being flung out of a slingshot. Out on the highway, at speed, it is the ground, rather than the Steamer, that seems to be moving. With the silence, one has the feeling of forever coasting down a hill—even when the car is going up a hill.

It was at hill climbing, in fact, that the Stanley Steamer first attracted nationwide notice. In 1899 F. O. Stanley, with his wife as a passenger, drove a Steamer to the top of 6,288-foot Mount Washington, the highest peak in New England. The rugged dirt wagontrack wound for ten miles at a twelve per cent grade, but the Stanley made it in two hours and ten minutes —a remarkable feat for its day and the first time a motor vehicle had accomplished anything like it. It was not until three years later that the first gasolinepowered car managed to struggle up Mount Washington in a little less than two hours. F. E. promptly took a new model Stanley up the mountain in only 27 minutes.

This showed how much the Steamer had been improved—and, incidentally, stopped any argument as to which was the best car on the road in those days. One proud Stanley owner even boasted that his Steamer could “climb a tree if it could catch ahold.” There was more than a little truth in the boast, for a Stanley once literally climbed a tree—in fact, two trees. The car had been left standing at the foot of a bank of earth, which was topped by a grove of young birch trees. A boy, playing around the car, opened the throttle wide. The Steamer threw the boy aside, plunged up the bank, and slammed into two trees growing close together. The pliant trees bent back nearly to the ground, and the Steamer stopped only when it became entangled in the branches. A few minutes later the birch trees, noted for their elasticity, rose into the air again, carrying the car with them. There it was eventually found, suspended about ten feet from the ground.

This was the sort of incident that wove an almost mystic aura around the Stanley Steamer. Owners of the car were not above thickening the mystery. One of their favorite tricks was to walk down the road about a dozen yards ahead of a parked Steamer, then turn and whistle. The car, responding like an alert and well-trained dog, would roll down the road to its master.

The explanation for the trick was simple enough. The Steamer, after standing for half an hour or more, would “cool off.” If the throttle was open very, very slightly, there would be a space of some seconds before the engine took hold. This would give the owner time to walk down the road and “whistle” his car to him. The effect on a group of spectators can easily be imagined.

Another trick was more nerve-racking. F. O., who once accompanied a Stanley Steamer shipped to New Orleans, assembled the car in a field near the Mississippi River. Every day a crowd gathered to watch the vehicle taking shape. When the Steamer was ready to roll, F. O. began “firing up.” The crowd stared in tense apprehension. Up and up went the steam pressure—100 pounds, 200 pounds, 400 pounds, 600 pounds. Suddenly there was a terrific explosion.

F. O., not too concerned, turned to reassure the crowd. There was nobody to reassure. Everyone had scuttled out of sight. F. O. turned back to the car and examined it. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong. Perplexed, F. O. finally heard a snicker in some bushes behind him. Turning, he saw a couple of kids trying to hold back their mirth. One pointed beneath the Steamer, where F. O. spotted the remains of a big firecracker.

F. O. enjoyed this joke so much he took to carrying firecrackers around himself. When a crowd gathered to watch him “fire up,” he would wait till a particularly suspenseful moment, then drop a firecracker beneath the car.

These pranks—which, of course, added to the wild tales about the Stanley Steamer—also obscured many practical (although unusual) uses of the car. For instance, it made a fine peanut roaster. Before starting on a trip, a bag of peanuts could be placed on top of the boiler. By the end of the journey, the peanuts would be done to a turn.

A Stanley’s steam pressure was also excellent for blowing out clogged drains. In addition, several cities used Steamers to thaw out frozen fire hydrants in winter. A Stanley itself, of course, would never freeze as long as the burner was going.

On the other hand, there were a number of drawbacks to the old Stanley. It sometimes took up to half an hour to get up steam in a cold boiler. Although driving the car was easy enough, the “firing up” process was complicated and cumbersome, calling more for a plumber than a mechanic. The driver’s seat, faced with a bewildering array of gauges, valves, and pump controls, looked something like a boiler room. In fact, one of the most persistent canards about the Stanley was that a driver needed a steam engineer’s license, as well as a regular driver’s license, to operate it competently.

There was also the matter of smell. Kerosene, although cheap, has a pungent, penetrating odor. An old saying went, “You can see a Stanley Steamer before you hear it—and you can smell its owner before you see him.”

The Stanley twins and the head of their maintenance department, Fred Marriott, raced Steamers all over the country, particularly at fairs. Nothing on wheels could stand up to the Stanley, which usually beat its nearest opponent by as much as five minutes in a twenty-mile race.

In 1906, at Ormond Beach, driving a streamlined but otherwise stock-model Steamer, Fred Marriott set a world speed record of 127.66 m.p.h. and became the first human to travel two miles a minute. This record was set by a car weighing only 1,600 pounds. Actually, it was lack of weight that hurled the little “Flying Teapot” to its doom in 1907 on the same track. In that year, so fateful to the Steamer, Fred Marriott brought the racer back to Ormond Beach. Piling the pressure up to 1,300 pounds, Fred opened the throttle and sent the car speeding down the beach. Nearly fifty years later, Marriott was still around to describe what happened next:

I quickly got up to 197 miles an hour and the speed was rising fast when the car hit a slight bump. I felt it lift and then rise clear off the ground and twist a little in the air. It took off like an airplane, rose about 10 feet off the beach and traveled 100 feet before it struck. I was thrown clear and pretty badly smashed up. The machine broke in two and was bashed to kindling wood. The boiler rolled, blowing steam like a meteor, for a mile down the beach.

The cause of the crash was a simple one, although few could understand it at the time. In designing the streamlined body of the car, the Stanleys had left the underside flat. When the wind got under this at high speed, it lifted the light car and made it air-borne, creating the myth that a Steamer was just too fast to stay on the ground. It is interesting to note that the 200 m.p.h. mark touched by the 1,600-pound Stanley was not bettered by a gasoline car until 1927, and then only by a four-ton monster powered by two twelvecylinder airplane engines.

The Stanley twins were badly shaken by the near disaster at Ormond Beach. They never built another racer and, in fact, tried to play down the speed potential of the Steamer. This, then, brings up the natural question: What about that well-known and widely believed story that the Stanleys would pay $1,000 to anyone who could hold the throttle open for three minutes? Fred Marriott had a definite answer:

I’ll tell you what’s in that yarn— nothing . We did our best to kill it, but it always kept coming back. It used to make the Stanleys sore—and kind of sad, too. I guess they could see the way things were going.

In 1918, F. E. Stanley started out on a trip in his Steamer. Coming up over the crest of a hill, he found the road blocked by two farm wagons. Rather than hit them and possibly kill the drivers and horses, he turned off the road and crashed into a ditch. He was killed instantly.

F. O., heartbroken over the tragedy, retired. (He eventually died of a heart attack in 1940.) The Stanley Motor Company passed into other hands. It lingered on for a few years, out of tune with the fastchanging times, lost without those “cussed” dreamers and craftsmen, the Stanley twins. In 1925, the firm went out of business. In its last full year of production it turned out only 65 cars. Ford alone was producing more than that in a single day. Mass production and the internal-combustion engine had won out over steam and individuality.

Today there are many automobile experts who cannot understand why the Steamer was allowed to pass away. They argue that with modern improvementssuch as a boiler capable of a quick start—the Steamer would be a far better car than the present gasoline auto. And who can deny that our cities would be finer, pleasanter places if we all had silent Steamers, rather than the noisy, fumes-belching gasoline cars that now pollute the air?

There is also the matter of economy. During World War II, with gas rationing, many old Stanley Steamers were brought out of barns or rescued from junk yards. Aside from the low cost of operation, the gallant Stanleys brought back to many motoring enthusiasts the thrill of driving a truly outstanding and individual car. This set off a revival of interest in steam autos that is still growing. The era of the Stanley Steamer is gone, but the spirit of the time and the car has not perished.

Not long ago a petroleum engineer, who improved an old Stanley, drove from Los Angeles to New York on $4.50 worth of furnace oil. Another engineer designed and built a steam car capable of taking off from a cold start in one minute and maintaining a steady seventy or eighty m.p.h. on the open road. Some steam fans, like Charles Keen, a Wisconsin businessman, hide their silent secret under the modern exterior of a reconverted gas car. Others, like Hollywood writer Nick Beiden, take their improved Stanleys to sportscar meets and beat some of the latest models from the Detroit assembly lines.

Some observers contend that it is performances such as these that keep the steam car from coming back. They claim that powerful automobile and gasoline interests, having long ago won the battle against steam, are certainly not going to allow their old rival to be revived commercially. In at least one instance, this is not true. Not long ago, the Chrysler Corporation brought Calvin and Charles Williams to Detroit from Philadelphia to demonstrate their highly improved steam motor, which works equally well in cars, trucks, buses, or boats. It can be built for one third the price of a gasoline engine and can perform with greater efficiency and economy, operating on fuel oil costing sixteen cents a gallon.

The Chrysler Corporation is reported to be interested in producing the Williams’ steam motor. It is perhaps significant that the Williams brothers are twins. Automobile history may yet repeat itself. In fact, one auto expert, Ken Purdy, writes in Kings of the Road: “The steam-lovers may have to wait just a bit longer—until the atomic-powered automobile is ready. Chances are that it will be a steam car, for it seems doubtful that we will find a way to use atomic energy for transport except by converting it to steam.”


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In a report on the discovery, U.S. scientists from the Smithsonion Institute in Washington DC described the creature's appearance as 'a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear'.

Compared with the olingo, its teeth and skull are smaller and shaped differently and its orange-brown fur is longer and denser.

'The discovery of the olinguito shows us that the world is not yet completely explored, its most basic secrets not yet revealed,' said Dr Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

Researchers say the olinguito looks like a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear but the furry animals is actually a member of the Procyonidae family, along with raccoons, coatis, kinkajous and olingos

'If new carnivores can still be found, what other surprises await us? So many of the world's species are not yet known to science.

'Documenting them is the first step towards understanding the full richness and diversity of life on Earth.'

The animal's scientific name is Bassaricyon neblina.

Bassaricyon is a genus, or family, of tree-living carnivore that includes several different species, while nebina means 'fog' in Spanish.

After identifying museum specimens, the researchers travelled to the northern Andes to see if any olinguitos remained in the wild.

Records showed that the creature lived high in the mountains, at elevations of 5,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level and grainy footage from a camcorder video provided a lucky early lead.

Eventually, the team discovered olinguitos living in an Ecuadorian forest and spent a number of days observing the creatures.

They learned that the olinguito is mostly active at night, eats fruit as well as meat, rarely leaves the trees, and has one offspring at a time.

Weighing two pounds and with wooly orange brown fur, the olinguito lives in the cloud forests of Colombia and Ecuador, as its scientific name 'neblina,' which is Spanish for fog, suggests. The creature is mostly active at night and eats mainly fruit despite being a carnivore but it rarely comes out of the trees

The animal's habitat is under heavy pressure from human development, said the scientists writing in the journal ZooKeys.

An estimated 42 per cent of olinguito habitat has already been urbanised or converted to agriculture.

At least one olinguito from Colombia was exhibited in several US zoos during the 1960s and 1970s, the researchers said.

There were several occasions in the past century when the species came close to being unmasked.

In 1920, a New York zoologist suggested that a museum specimen was unusual enough to be a new species, but never followed the suspicion up.

Dr Helgen said: 'The cloud forests of the Andes are a world unto themselves, filled with many species found nowhere else, many of them threatened or endangered.

'We hope that the olinguito can serve as an ambassador species for the cloud forests of Ecuador and Colombia, to bring the world's attention to these critical habitats.

'This is a beautiful animal, but we know so little about it. How many countries does it live in?

'What else can we learn about its behaviour [and] w hat do we need to do to ensure its conservation?'

For more than a century the oliguino was mistaken for its larger close cousin, the olingo (pictured). An examination of the skull, teeth and skin of museum specimens has now confirmed that it is a different species


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From East or West I-80/90: Take Exit 83, 2.3 miles north on State Route 23. Turn left at light on Princess Way

From South: Take US 31 North to Exit 20 East. Stay on US 20 East to Exit Elm Street/331 North. Go north on 331 north, turn right at intersection State Route 331/State Route 23. Go 2.3 miles on State Route 23, turn left at light on Princess Way

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Donald Trump

January 20, 2017 - Present | 2 State Dinners

President Donald Trump’s April 24, 2018, state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron lacked celebrity chefs or tree bark, but—perhaps surprisingly—the menu showed good taste and followed the “American ingredients with at least one flavor from the guest of honor’s country” formula set in the 1990s. Thus Carolina Gold rice jambalaya was paired with a goat cheese gateau with tomato jam.

The menu was not what we’ve come to expect from a president deemed by the New York Times to be “the nation’s fast food president.” It’s more sophisticated fare than the food Trump served China’s Xi Jinping at an April 6, 2017, dinner at his Mar-a-Lago resort, for example. That dinner featured dry-aged prime New York strip steak, a Caesar salad, and chocolate cake with vanilla sauce and dark chocolate sorbet. Trump had even vowed on Fox News in 2015 to serve Xi a “double-sized Big Mac” in lieu of throwing him a state dinner—a campaign promise tragically never delivered. Yet Trump followed up on his fast-food pledges with his infamous spread for the Clemson University football team during the government shutdown, when Trump dipped shallowly into his own pockets to provide 300 hamburgers.

Dig in: How the graphics work

Trump’s concept of food, as with many other things, throws much of the philosophy established at the White House over the past 25 years out the window. Not that Trump is the first president to enjoy McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Ask Bill Clinton—or Harry S. Truman, who literally served fried chicken and turkey at state dinners. But more than any other president, Trump wears his lowbrow taste in food as a badge of honor. Although the United States today puts the successful businessman on a bigger and more beautiful pedestal than during the New Deal era, one thing that’s remained the same is the country’s disdain for the elite. Such is the Trump paradox: a billionaire real estate speculator from New York City whose widest margins of victory in the 2016 election were in Wyoming and West Virginia, and whose favorite food is well-done steak with ketchup.

Which is one reason why Trump can’t be seen as an open advocate of state dinners. Flashy parties with over 350 people, famous celebrities, extravagant meal creations, and tents on the White House Lawn that “look like hell”? Those are for liberal elitists like Obama and Hillary Clinton. If Ronald Reagan were president today, it’s likely his 52 extravagant, star-studded state dinners would paint him as an out-of-touch elitist, too.

But when it came time to throw a proper state dinner, little of that seemed to matter. First lady Melania Trump opted to respect recent White House traditions instead—much to Macron’s relief, one can imagine. It says something about the symbolic power of the White House state dinner that fast food was not selected as the food representative of the best the United States has to offer. Nevertheless, a few subtle changes helped distance Trump’s first state dinner from Obama’s. The guest size was only 150 people, most of the guests were Republican allies, and the menu was reduced to three courses. It was a decidedly more modest affair. Eleanor Roosevelt would have been proud.

President Donald Trump speaks during a state dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron on April 24, 2018. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

All the Presidents’ Meals is the product of extensive research at presidential libraries, the National Archives, and Library of Congress, as well as interviews with historians, food writers, and former White House chefs. Obtaining the state dinner menus presented unique challenges. Some presidential libraries post the state dinner menus on their respective websites, such as John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton required hiring archivists and research assistants to find the menus and scan photographs. Hickey ended up viewing the menu collections for Ronald Reagan in person by visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in July 2018. Some menu information was also obtained through press coverage of the state dinners, especially from the Style section of the Washington Post.


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