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Being a Good New York Neighbor

I’m pleased to be featured this week in Google’s interesting Meet Your Google Neighbor program, which gives denizens of New York City and other locales an opportunity to share their enthusiasms for restaurants, merchants, music venues, bookstores, and urban activities. From the outset of this blog I’ve designed the site to span “urban life, books, music, culture, current events” so it’s very gratifying to see this blog gain more recognition via Google’s promotion. Happily, the feature includes this neat photo my wife Kyle Gallup recently took of our son Ewan and me on a boat ride around Manhattan with the Statue of Liberty as backdrop, a trip I blogged about in A Spring Sailing Around Manhattan.

 

A Spring Sailing Around Manhattan

My wife and son and I had been wanting to see New York’s five boroughs from the water, so last Friday we took the Circle Line cruise around Manhattan, which does offer views of each borough. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment. We arrived 45 minutes early for the 11:30 AM sailing, only to find that all outdoor seats on our boat had already been taken. Worse, the guide on our boat was a pompous jerk who droned on ceaselessly during our 3-hour circumnavigation of the island. He had no feel for the history of the city; scolded passengers like a control-obsessed school teacher (“Don’t stand there!”) and was fascinated only with money. (“An apartment in that building sold for $20 million last year.”) Fortunately, about halfway through the cruise, I found us three seats on the open deck, and Kyle, Ewan, and I escaped the guide’s physical presence, if not his amplified voice. From this perspective, we were able to view Upper Manhattan, Sputen Duyvil, the waterway that connects the Harlem River to the Hudson, and the little red lighthouse as we sailed beneath the George Washington Bridge, aka the Great Gray Bridge. We also were able to ID our own apartment building from the river, a neat trick.

The best part of the afternoon came when we got home and downloaded the photos each of us took turns snapping during the cruise. Even if the boat ride regrettably didn’t feature much of the timeless magic we identify with New York’s waterways, harbor, and shoreline, such as that seen in the 1920s short film “Manhatta,” it was a grand day and we took away some great images, many of which are included here. // many pictures following . . .

You Can Help Make This Blog a Winner

I’ve entered The Great Gray Bridge in a contest sponsored by Goodreads. They will be selecting 4 top book blogs for special recognition and perks at Book Expo America (BEA) in June. Voting by the public began April 10 and continues through April 23. There will also be a juried element of the competition. I’ll be posting throughout the two weeks to remind folks, and sending out updates via Facebook and Twitter. I also have a handy widget on the right side of my blog just below “Foundational Posts” to vote for this site. In entering the contest, I submitted five entries representative of my books and publishing coverage.  The first one I cited was Lost American Writer Found–Jim Tully.  I’ll put others up as the contest continues. I hope you enjoy reading my blog and will vote for it. Thanks for your support.

How This Blog Got its Name

In a previous blog post, “An 80th Birthday Makeover for The Great Gray Bridge,” dear reader, you will note I’ve borrowed the name for that entry, and the name for this very blog, from a nickname for the George Washington Bridge first used decades ago. My source is the 1942 children’s book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge written by Hildegarde H. Swift and illustrated by Lynd Ward, creator of the remarkable wordless novel, God’s Man, which was published in 1929, the very week of the stock market crash. It is a source of joy and pride for me that I am able to borrow from that classic the name for this blog “spanning urban life, books, music, culture, current events.” Below are some pertinent photos I’ve taken of the bridge, the lighthouse, the river, and the grounds surrounding them on the Manhattan side of the Hudson. I take pictures during bike rides I take from my NY apartment to upper Manhattan. I’d understand if some of these scenes surprise you with just how sweet, bucolic, and pretty the city’s Hudson shoreline really is. That’s New York City, for you, full of surprises for the eager observer. / / more with photos . . .

An 80th Birthday Makeover for The Great Gray Bridge

From a favorite college professor long ago I heard that the French Catholic theologian and philosopher Jacques Maritain swore that the sight of the George Washington Bridge and Manhattan, as seen traveling south on the Henry Hudson Highway, was the most breathtaking view he ever experienced.