What You Didn’t Know About Prospect Park

what you didn't know about prospect park by ari kellenAlthough it isn’t as well-known as Central Park, as Brooklyn’s largest park, it’s got plenty to offer.  While you’re out exploring Prospect Park, you might want to know some trivia so you can look out for historical details you may have otherwise forgotten.  I recently read an article in TimeOut that shared some facts about the park that you may not have known.  They might surprise you:

It use to be a popular spot for farm animals: After Prospect Park first opened in 1867, it was a popular hangout spot for local livestock.  While they weren’t allowed on the land, it was a tough law to enforce, and dozens of stray farm animals were regularly found on the land.  

It was built on a battle site: During the American Revolution, the land on what is now Prospect Park was part of the Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn.  It marked a valiant stand by the soldiers of the 1st Maryland Regiment, who although vastly outnumbered by the British were able to cover for George Washington while the rest of the army retreated.  

It used to have a full replica of Mount Vernon: To commemorate George Washington’s 200th birthday, Robert Moses erected a full replica of his home.  Sadly, however, it was torn down after just two years.  

It was part of an Indian trail: In the 17th century and earlier, Brooklyn was home to Lenape Indians, who used a well-worn trail that later became the best route of travel between the Dutch towns of Brooklyn and Flatbush.  It even played a part in the Battle of Brooklyn!  When Prospect Park was established, it became East Drive.  

It’s the final resting place of some 2,000 people: Since at least the 1840s, Prospect Park served as a Quaker cemetery.  Since Quakers rejected headstones as a form of vanity, many of these graves were unmarked.  If you’re curious, you can always bring a ouija board to the park at night!

It was made by people paid $1.70 a day: The construction workers who helped build the park, mostly poor Irish immigrants, were paid on a daily salary that today couldn’t even buy a Starbucks coffee.  It’s hard to adjust for inflation (inflation didn’t start being properly recorded until 1913), this wasn’t a big sum by any means.  

It used to host “ice baseball”: In the 19th century, Prospect Park’s frozen lake hosted a unique winter game known as “ice baseball”.  It was much like regular baseball, except it was done with ice skates and a slightly different ball.  It attracted thousands of spectators and players from as far away at Baltimore.  

It has an historic statue of Lincoln: After Lincoln’s assassination, Henry Kirke Brown created a series of large bronze statues of the late President.  The one in Prospect Park was the first one to be dedicated, so it holds the honor of being the Union’s first Abraham Lincoln statue.  

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2orhaHy

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Mets Players To Watch

mets players to watch by ari kellenBaseball season is coming up!  I don’t know about you, but I’m getting excited to meet the Mets of 2017!  After various players went down for the count last season, and the Mets blew their chance to make it into the playoffs, fans are watching with anticipation.  Spring Training isn’t always an accurate indicator as to a team or player’s performance, but nonetheless, some names have been standing out.  Here are eight different players to watch this season:

Michael Conforto: Conforto got off to a hot start this season, hitting well above .300 with more at-bats than any other player.  He’s been playing well, but at the same time it’s unclear as to where you can put him.

Fernando Salas: The Mets are getting excited about Salas, who is typically the first out of the bullpen.  Yet he’ll be playing an even bigger role as this season starts, setting up for Addison Reed.  Nonetheless, he hasn’t pitched much this spring and needs to shake off those cobwebs.

Brandon Nimmo: While Nimmo showed promise at the World Baseball Classic, a hamstring injury has prevented him from playing in Grapefruit League games since his return.  

Josh Smoker: This left-handed pitcher has had a good spring, which makes him particularly attractive to Terry Collins.  

Matt Harvey: Harvey had a bad 2016, and although his Grapefruit League has started out well, he’s still having trouble getting through the order.  His surgery typically requires about 10 months to fully recover, and that’s still a few months away.  

Ben Rowen: After being signed early on in the off-season and showing some promise during Spring Training, Rowen’s unorthodox style is tough for hitters to combat, yet whether or not he can continue to command his pitches remains to be seen.  

Zack Wheeler: Wheeler is expected to start the season off, yet it isn’t clear what will happen if he out-pitches Harvey.  His innings limit keeps changing, and so the idea of having him work out of the bullpen has been floated.  

Lucas Duda: After back spasms got in his way during the Grapefruit League, Duda is back into action, and looks ready to deliver.  He’s hit .296 with five runs scored, five doubles and two homers, so things are looking good.
If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!

from Ari Kellen | Sports http://ift.tt/2mth5X5

Finding Inspiration in New York

finding inspiration in new yorkNew York is filled with inspiration no matter where you go.  Even if you aren’t the creative type, it’s not hard to feel inspired in the five boroughs, even as older residents complain about gentrification.  I recently read an article that interviewed six designers that are making inroads in the New York fashion scene, asking them to share what they consider New York’s best spots for inspiration.  Some of these didn’t really resonate with me, but there were a few spots they mentioned that I do truly love:

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery: This church on 10th and 2nd Avenue was once on the farm of Pieter Stuyvesant, New Amsterdam’s notoriously cranky one-legged governor.  According to legend, his ghost haunts the church, angry that his property has been turned into an Episcopalian church (he was a devout Calvinist).  All ghosts aside, there’s a graveyard in the back that offers plenty of peace and quiet if you ever need to be alone.  

The Lower East Side: As one of New York’s oldest neighborhoods and one of its first slums, there’s always something exciting happening here, even if the dynamic of the neighborhood has changed dramatically.  It’s filled with great coffee shops, bars, restaurants, clubs and small boutiques.  

Strand Bookstore: Even if it’s considered kind of a touristy place, it’s one of the few touristy places that New Yorkers actually love visiting.  They have books here on just about every topic you can think of, offering endless sources of inspiration.  

Brooklyn Flea: Any creative person could find some great ideas in all of the things going on at Brooklyn Flea, whether it’s the music, art or furniture.  Even though people in Brooklyn like to pretend they don’t care, they prep for the Brooklyn Flea.  

Chelsea: Whether it’s the High Line, the art galleries or the fabled Chelsea Market, there’s plenty to do out here, and the entire neighborhood has a great vibe.  There’s an app called “See Saw” that lets you search art galleries by neighborhood, which is of course great fun in a place like Chelsea.  

from Ari Kellen| Travel Page http://ift.tt/2ms27Mm

Brooklyn’s Mohawk Community

brooklyn's mohawk community by ari kellenWhenever immigrants arrive in New York, they often congregate, creating ethnic enclaves in various neighborhoods.  While the demographics of these neighborhoods often change as older residents move out and newer ones move in, you can often see traces of their legacy: Hell’s Kitchen still features plenty of Irish pubs, places like Sammy’s Roumanian and Yonah Schimmel remain alive and well in the Lower East Side, and Mulberry Street is still dotted with Italian restaurants.  Yet in many other instances, these ethnic enclaves vanish without a trace: you’d be hard-pressed to believe that Alphabet City was once the center of New York’s “Kleindeutschland”, and chances are you haven’t heard of “Little Caughnawaga”, Boerum Hill’s small but tight-knit Mohawk Indian community.  

The Mohawk are not native to Brooklyn; they’re a tribe whose ancestral homeland is near what is now Schenectady.  They got kicked out of the region after choosing the wrong side during the American Revolution, and found themselves in reservations in Canada and northern New York.  Starting in the 1920s, Mohawk ironworkers from the Kahnawake reservation near Montreal found work building bridges and skyscrapers in New York City.  For whatever reason, these men congregated in an area that’s now in Boerum Hill.  Over time, their families moved down with them, forming an enclave known as “Little Caughnawaga”, which by the late 40s had about 700 members.  

At this time, Boerum Hill was a mostly Irish and Italian neighborhood, yet there were certain focal points of the Mohawk community.  One bar, known as the “Wigwam”, was a popular hangout spot for Mohawk ironworkers to discuss jobs and pick up mail from relatives up north.  Mohawk women would cook traditional white cornbread with kidney beans at a nearby lunch counter.  One Presbyterian church even offered sermons in Mohawk.  In 1949, a New Yorker article titled “Mohawks in High Steel” spoke of a growing neighborhood with “signs of permanence”.  Despite such signs, the Mohawk retained close ties with home; weekend and summer trips to visit friends and families in reservations up north were common.

Thanks to a rise in crime and a difficult economy, the “signs of permanence” that the New Yorker wrote about started to fade.  The community dwindled by the 60s, with many returning to Canada or marrying non-Indians and moving to the suburbs.  The Mohawk-speaking Presbyterian Church was converted into apartments, the Wigwam went out of business and traditional Mohawk bread is hard to find in Brooklyn.

While traces of “Little Caughnawaga” are few and far-between, it’s not a legacy that’s been forgotten by the Mohawk themselves.  In reservations, some Mohawk still retain thick Brooklyn accents, and ironworkers from these reservations still come to New York for jobs.  It’s nonetheless sad to see that this neighborhood has faded away, yet ultimately all things must pass.  

from Ari Kellen | New York City Exploration http://ift.tt/2mGAlQo