Monday, May 17, 2004
The Pleasures of City Life
Not all the pleasures of urban life are the obvious ones. Most people don't realize how much my dogs love all the canine society on the sidewalks (they never got that in the country), or how many smells they find at every post and corner. Or how much they love going to the Blessings of the Animals inside St. John the Divine and the Park Avenue Presbyterian church.
Everyone thinks Manhattan is terribly expensive. But for $15 a month, my wife and I can drop in 6 days a week sometimes more at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is only 4 short blocks away. Our apartment may be smaller than a suburban house, but the suburbanites don't get to look at Vermeer any time they want.
When there's a week-long cold snap with lots of slush on the ground, I walk around the Met and pass by the Tiepolos and the Temple of Dendur as I exercise: I usually go up the grand stairs designed by Richard Morris Hunt, through the European paintings gallery, and down the Louis Sullivan stairway in the American Wing. The food at the Met is good too, and I get to pass through my favorite room in New York (Room from Kirtlington Park, 174248), on the way to lunch.
For another $15 a month (that's $7.50 per person), we belong to the New York Society Library, 7 blocks away on 79th Street. That's "society" as in "organization," not the social register: David Halberstam described it as "this old-fashioned, private but egalitarian library." It has over 3,000 members and 7,000 users: the latter don't pay but have to content themselves with working in the wood-paneled, high-ceiling room on the ground floor of a 1917 Upper East Side mansion designed by Trowbridge & Livingston.
Having started downtown in 1754, the Society Library is the oldest library in New York. Alexander Hamilton, Herman Melville, John James Audubon, Lillian Hellman, Wendy Wasserstein and many others have been members. Halberstam tells a nice story about Truman Capote meeting Willa Cather there.
Members get access to the stacks and use of workspaces in the stacks, as well as private workrooms that can be reserved, communal workrooms with internet access and a comfortable reading room on the piano nobile.
I can't close without mentioning that we live a block from Central Park. To paraphrase Zsa Zsa in Green Acres, Downtown I luff yoo, butt giff me Pahk Ahvenoo!
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» Pleasures of the City from Veritas et Venustas
I have two more third places in New York to add to my list of coffee houses. One is also an addition to my post about favorite institutions in my neighborhood: the garden and cafe at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum.Click to Enlarge [Read More]
Tracked on Aug 2, 2004 11:24:54 PM
» PPS Picks 20 Best Towns from Veritas et Venustas
The Project for Public Spaces has picked their twenty favorite towns, districts and neighborhoods in North America. Their list certainly isn't the same as mine (where are Charleston and Savannah, or Cambridge or Stonington? [Read More]
Tracked on Nov 23, 2004 4:50:05 PM
My dogs love going on city walks-unfortunately, as they consider city gutters a "buffet" :(
Posted by: Brian Miller at May 21, 2004 2:28:27 PM
i mean $15 for the museum is cheap. But to live 4 blocks away is probably costly no? it means that you'd have to live next to central park and i know that'll cost you gold and diamonds to live there.
Posted by: platinum wedding rings at Jan 29, 2010 5:08:43 AM
The Society Library is the oldest library in New York! I didn't know that.
Posted by: Mens Emerald Rings at May 3, 2010 2:20:43 AM