Trip to Manhattan by Ernie Busch

Irene Katzias: Welcome to the Evergreen Woods podcast, episode three. Today we have Ernie Busch with us, giving us a small tour of New York’s hidden gems.

Ernie Busch: Hi, um, my name is Ernie Busch. I’m a resident at Evergreen. And I came from Staten Island, New York. Spent most of my life in New York, and I love the city. And I would like to tell you a little bit about it. Particularly, places that you don’t know.

Now, as you probably know if you know me, I spent part of my early retirement giving tours around New York. During that time, I found many interesting parks and museums. I would like to spend some time telling you about them. Many are single-subject and unique.

One of these is the Irish Hunger Memorial at North End Avenue and Vesey Street. This memorial is part of Battery Park City. It is dedicated to the Irish Famine of 1845 to 1852. It is set on one half acre of winding paths and inscribed walls, as well as an original cottage brought from Ireland. The perimeter is surrounded by a stone wall, with inscriptions from Irish letters, newspapers, court records, recipes and songs. These winding paths lead to the top of a hill, from which you can see a panoramic view of New York Harbor. Along the paths are made of Irish flowers, such as heather, wild Irish yellow iris. The space was designed by Brian Tolle and gives the impression of being in Ireland, and to remind us of not only the Irish famine but also today’s present hunger. It is a small place and should take well under an hour to explore.

Okay. Another one of these unique places is the Hua Mei Bird Garden. One of the unique places in New York is the Hua Mei Bird Garden. This is located in Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, just south of Delancey Street. While not strictly a park, it is a gathering place for a group of Chinese men and their birds. These birds are imported from China and are famous for their singing. Each bird has its own repertoires. Those with large repertoires are of course the most valuable. Their singing is like a musical dialogue—chirping, warbling and thirring in their cages. The garden is open only to members of the Hua Mei Club. Although, passersby are allowed to sit on an adjacent wall and enjoy the singing. Hua Mei birds are small with russet brown feathers. “Hua Mei” translates into “painted eyebrows,” which refers to the white circles around their eyes. Amazingly, their singing can drown out the noise and tumult of the surrounding streets.

The Chinese Scholar’s Garden. Part of Snug Harbor at 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island. In China, it was traditional for the emperor to have a scholar in residence to advise him. This scholar and his family lived in the palace. The garden is meant to replicate one of these residences. It was inspired by the Ming Dynasty. It is meant to convey infinite peace through a series of courtyard, ponds, pavilions and waterfalls. Harmony is achieved through opposing concepts, such as light and shadows, cratered rocks and smooth pebbles, splashing waterfalls and still ponds, and through the quiet of the garden versus the clamor of the surrounding streets. The garden was created by a group of artisans and imported from Xu Xuan [spelling may not be accurate], a city famous for its gardens in China in the late 1900s. Many items such as pavilions, roof tiles and bridges were made in Xu Xuan and imported.

The Gardens of St. Luke in the Fields at 187 Hudson Street [correction from audio: address is 487 Hudson Street]. The Gardens of St. Luke in the Fields is part of St. Luke church at 187 [correction: 487] Hudson Street. The garden itself is surrounded by a brick wall, which provides peace, quiet and privacy, near a shady bench surrounding a large apple tree. Depending on the season, you can find magnolia roses or even lavender in the fall. The high wall surrounding the garden gives it a microclimate much like the Carolinas. You can also find figs, rosemary and pomegranates. Set in the heart of Greenwich Village, it is often used by the villagers as their private garden, to come contemplate in solitude or to read a book in its quiet shade. The garden gives the impression of being in a country village rather than the bustling metropolis of New York.

I hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve just told you. I have several other places I would like to tell you about in the future. Not all in Manhattan. They’re in all five boroughs. And I wanna thank you for listening to me. And hope we’ll get together again.