Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day 2009

Today I spent a wonderful afternoon at the New-York Historical Society, located on Central Park West between 76-77th Streets. To celebrate the 4th of July, the N-YHS offered a full day of free exhibitions, storytelling, re-enactor drills and conversation, popcorn, pretzels, chips, and icy cold beverages.

When I saw these two re-enactors, I imagined that they were soldiers from the American Revolution who were wondering what would happen when the fighting was over. Which way would the winds of war blow?

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On my way to the event, I passed several buildings with interesting pseudo-heraldic decorations over the doorways and along an outside wall. I've always wondered about these, as they appear on so many apartment and public buildings in Manhattan. Are these symbols designed to evoke majesty, royalty, wealth, and stability? Did the builders copy symbols from European buildings? Did the architect think they lent a certain something to a developing neighborhood? Whatever the reason, these figures make a walk on the West Side interesting and entertaining.

Here are a few examples. I wonder whose crown this is.

In the next item, the rearing lion appears on a shield that is pierced through from left to right by an arrow or spear. Look closely in the upper right hand corner of the image and you'll see the tip of the weapon.

Sorry the next photo is so blurry! See the keys and stars on the curiously-shaped shield? Looks like an eagle or mythological beast is holding the shield. This sculpture is on the outside of the American Museum of Natural History.

And now, my favorite. He looks like the personification of the North Wind or a wicked king. I wonder who the model was?

All photos in this post by Maria A. Dering.
May be copied with permission of the writer/photographer.

I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Independence Day. Time to go to the fireworks!

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