|Peeking through the gates of The Frick. 1:15 PM. Photo: JH.|
|September 3, 2010. Very hot and sunny, yesterday in New York. The night before about 2:30 a.m., I noticed that there was a strong breeze blowing through the trees on the avenue. I went out onto the terrace to see if it were getting cooler. The breeze was pleasant but warm. And the air was fetid, as if something were burning, something chemical. I was reminded of the night of 9/11 when this whole area enveloped by a dirty, heavy, crummy air.
Yesterday morning it was gone. Along with the breeze. Living up here only a half city block from the river, there is often a breeze – thankfully – that comes and goes with the tides. Two hundred years ago, this area was out of town for New York, a two or three hour carriage ride from the center of the city where the Village and SoHo are now. It was still countryside, hilly and rocky. It was where the wealthy built themselves houses to escape the city’s heat and smells.
|Central Park. 1:10 PM.|
|Hudson River sky. 7:40 PM.|
|Gracie Mansion, the official mayor’s house (although Mayor Bloomberg chose to remain in his own house on East 79th Street), was built in 1799 by a businessman named Archibald Gracie. The land to the south of it is now Carl Schurz Park, and the cul de sac at the foot of it is called Gracie Square.
The old house has been modernized but remains essentially the same house Mr. Gracie built, save the addition put on during the Lindsay Administration and used for public receptions.
This weekend coming up marks the end of summer for New Yorkers. And I’m glad. I don’t recall ever feeling quite this way about summertime, but the heat has been relentlessly pervasive, and even at times – like this past Wednesday night – foul.
It has not been the mood pacifier we think of as summer. This is underscored by the political atmosphere in the country which is cloudy and deeply hindered by the financial complications that beset us.
|Gracie Mansion today.|