Known as the "Center for Social Change, " the Ford Foundation has been committed to helping the world be a better place since 1936. They work diligently to "protect human rights, reform governments, provide education opportunities and create space for artistic creativity and expression. " Without a doubt, one of Manhattan's finest atriums greets visitors. Entering the glass structure from either 42nd or 43rd Street, a world of green awaits. There are trees, plants, a fountain and short paths to wander through. The atrium is a hidden oasis in the middle of the city.
Like many surgeons, when Dr. Thomas Romo III graduated medical school, he hopped on a plane to India and Vietnam in order to fix cleft lips. "We felt like we had time and a reason to give back, " he said of himself and his peers who choose to travel the world doing medical procedures before settling down and developing a practice. Though Dr. Romo operated on numerous lips, he realized after a while that the program he was traveling with was only fixing a quarter of the problem. After the lip healed, the palate still did not close correctly and teeth did not grow straight. Patients would experience chronic Eustachian tube problems, resulting in earaches. Dr. Romo wanted to fix the rest of the palate, but the mission that he was with focused solely on lips. "I wanted to change the paradigm, " Dr. Romo declared. Back in New York, he began developing a plan to help children with facial birth defects through all operation stages, not just cosmetic. Dr. Romo admitted that he did not have any experience putting together a foundation, "I did not go to business school, " he pointed out, and therefore it was challenging for him to lay the groundwork of his new venture. He decided to accept only newborns through age twenty-one who were on Medicaid or required other financial assistance, with emphasis on those from the United States. As he phrased it, "Little Baby Face Foundation helps "children from Harlem to Ethiopia. "With his mission in place, Dr. Romo then recruited thirty doctors, including pediatricians, plastic surgeons, and various specialists. This impressive brain trust assembles each month to discuss fifteen to twenty children whose financial statements have been checked. They ask, "Who does this child need to see? " If they are not sure, they bring them in for a "look-see" with each of the doctors. He then went on to say that when these children come in to meet this large group of doctors, they are experiencing something unique - this number of medical professionals is rarely seen in one room. For the entire stay, including during the operation and recovery time, the child and his or her family are taken care of every step of the way: their flights are paid for, "Mario picks them up in a car service, " and they are welcomed with open arms at the Ronald McDonald House. What most impressed me about the Little Baby Face Foundation is that every doctor volunteers his or her time. It has been worked out so that no one needs to perform more than a handful of procedures each month. Occasionally, when Dr. Romo is met with slight reluctance from one of the doctors, he often responds with a poignant, yet witty response: "How much fat do you want to suck and how many boobs do you want to do? Or do you want to change a child's life? "Dr. Romo performs a significant number of the operations. He sometimes ends up doing as many as ten during the winter holidays. Speaking with him is an enlightening experience, as he is so full of energy, compassion, and joviality. He shared a few stories of patients who had touched his heart. He told me about operations that involved a Texan child with nerve paralysis and another from Harlem who was born deaf and missing an ear on one side. On the latter, Dr. Romo performed a cochlear implant and that the child "heard his name said at graduation. "Speaking about a few other patients from abroad, Dr. Romo continued to touch my own heart as he spoke of a child who came from farther afield - in Ethiopia. The girl had a large mass on her neck that no other doctor would touch. Dr. Romo said, "We had to fly her from a small village to Addis Ababa to Dubai to New York. " Not only did the girl have the mass removed, but she also got to have a New York adventure. As he continued on, I learned about a couple from England who came with their eighteen-month old son, who had a tumor falling over his eye. The parents, who were only nineteen and twenty-one, themselves, were given the opportunity to spend several weeks in Manhattan while their child was having his life changed. Dr. Romo is proud of how far the foundation has come since it began in 1990. He recently experienced a year in which he raised enough money in order to pay a small staff. One of the members of his team is his own wife, Diane Romo, who is the surgical coordinator. She deals directly with the children and has the extreme pleasure of contacting families to tell them, "We're going to bring you to New York. "Now that he has a model and a brand, Dr. Romo hopes to expand. "We can helicopter to Chicago, LA, or San Francisco, " he told me excitedly. But he is also devoted to New York, and emphasizes the concept of "New Yorkers helping New Yorkers. " He wishes that more people knew that the Little Baby Face Foundation existed. He said that a lot of hospitals are in the red, which should not be the case, since there are so many doctors willing to occasionally work for free for the sake of the greater good. His need to give to the community in any way he can is inspiring. As he perfectly phrased it for me, "I'm a surgeon. This is the only way I know how to give back. "
On its own personal wiki (wiki. hackmanhattan. com), Hack Manhattan defines itself as a nonprofit public “hackerspace, ” the only one of its kind on the island of Manhattan. A hackerspace is a community work center for constructing, collaborating, and communicating about technology. Unfamiliar with such venues, I was curious as to what I might find when visiting Hack Manhattan. Walking into Hack Manhattan’s second floor workspace I found myself surrounded by shelves and shelves of machine parts and various gadgets organized into countless bins and drawers. In the center of the room, members and visitors lounged at a large communal table, some typing away on their laptops, others participating in a book club meeting. Dave Guan, one of the members at Hack Manhattan, led me around the space. He showed me the workshop members use to construct large-scale projects and the 3D printing station, where I watched a cute little Printerbot spit out a design in green plastic. Dave told me that while Hack Manhattan does participate largely in common hackerspace activities like electronics and coding, they also open the space to lectures in quantum mechanics, “Shakespeare nights, ” and other non-traditional goings on. For instance, using an iPad displaying the day’s selection, Dave gave me a sample of Hack Manhattan’s own draft beer, brewed on site by one of the members who is interested in microbreweries. The tabs on the tap were created using one of the 3D printers, and the hops for the brew were grown in the rooftop garden. Also on the rooftop, one can find crates for beekeeping and a custom built antenna. The group is very accommodating of everyone’s individual interests. When I asked Dave who frequented Hack Manhattan, he replied both hobbyists and professional programmers alike. It is an open space for anyone to exercise their gears of innovation. To do so, stop by one of Hack Manhattan’s regular Tuesday and Thursday open houses.
In 1919, America's first major tabloid newspaper, the Daily News, was founded. In need of a home in 1929, the paper began construction on the Daily News Building, completing it a year later. The bold vertical stripes by architect Raymond Hood influenced his design of the subsequent Rockefeller Center. No longer headquarters to the Daily News (the paper moved out in 1995), it is still a showstopper, as it was the home of the Daily Planet in 1978's Superman. Remaining in the lobby is the enormous globe (although it is a bit out of date geopolitically), spinning slowly twenty-four hours a day. The lobby is visually striking, with the globe sitting under a black dome meant to simulate the cosmos. A compass of marble surrounds the globe, pointing the way to other cities, while astronomical measurements are detailed in ornate script. It is a spectacular site to behold for anyone in the vicinity.
In 1893, a group of motivated Jewish women banded together in Chicago with the aim of providing more intellectual and creative outlets for themselves and others. A year later, the New York Section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) was formed and the first meeting was held at Temple Emanu-El. Today, the NCJW remains a place where women can find a safe haven from isolation, stagnation, and hunger. The institution runs myriad programs devoted to education, support, outreach, and philanthropy.
Before I even stepped foot into the American Academy of Arts & Letters, my attention was caught by the elaborate sculptural bronze doors at the entrance. Created by Academy member Adolph Alexander Weinman and dedicated to fellow member Mary Wilkins Freeman, the doors represent literature, fine arts, and music. They are a fitting first sight for an institute that is devoted to honoring the greatest American artists, architects, composers, and writers and encouraging further great works. The first room that the Manhattan Sideways team entered was the Portrait Gallery, a breathtaking space lined from floor to ceiling with framed pictures of the hundreds of renowned members of the Academy. The photographs are arranged by date of induction, dating back to the Academy's inception in 1898. While walking around the impressive display, the Manhattan Sideways team and I spotted familiar faces, including Toni Morrison, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Frost, and E. B. White. Cody Upton, the Academy’s Executive Director, remarked that they will soon need to create more space to accommodate pictures of their newest inductees. Membership is capped at 250, and once selected, inductees are members for life. When we visited in 2017, playwright Sam Shephard had recently passed away, so there was a lot of discussion concerning who would replace him. Cody explained how the system works: Members send in nominations to the Academy, and vacancies are broken down by department, so those within the department in question get the first vote on the nominees. A similar process is undertaken to select the recipients of the seventy awards and prizes presented in the ceremonial held each May, which is also when the new members are inducted into the Academy. Not only is it a great honor to be selected, but according to Cody, it is amazing to be part of a process in which “very illustrious artists single out their peers. ”In discussing the passing of Sam Shephard, Cody revealed that one of the more fascinating and touching traditions of the Academy is to hold a memorial service, during which the family of the departed selects one of his or her peers to deliver a eulogy that “pays tribute to a deceased artist. ” These eulogies are some of the most significant works stored in the Academy library, Cody shared, since many of them showcase “the greatest writers writing about other writers. ”As we continued browsing through the pictures on the wall, we were curious to learn more about how the diversity and demographic of the members might have changed over the years. Cody clarified that although the Academy was once “kind of like a boys’ club, ” that is not the case anymore. Rather, the artists selected for membership “reflect the changing attitudes of America over the course of the twentieth century - progressively more liberal as time moved on. ” To illustrate, he pointed out the portrait of Julia Ward Howe, famed for writing the "Battle Hymn of the Republic, " who was the first woman to join the Academy's ranks in 1907. Nevertheless, no further women were selected until the induction of Edith Wharton and Mary Wilkins Freeman in 1926 - a significant gap that alludes to the conservative beginnings of the Academy. One can compare that to the new members in 2016: Out of seventeen total inductees, twelve were women. Cody directed our attention to the stained-glass windows outside of the Portrait Gallery. The windows belonged to Arabella Huntington but were donated to the Academy by her son, Archer Huntington, who was also responsible for deeding the Academy its location on 155th Street, where it has remained since 1923. The heir of a railroad magnate as well as a notable poet and Hispanophile, Archer Huntington used his wealth to cultivate culture in the city. Specifically, he purchased the entirety of the property now known as Audubon Terrace and apportioned it to organizations such as the Hispanic Society of America and the American Academy of Arts and Letters in order to preserve vital works of art and literature. He also donated several pieces of furniture and rugs from his personal collection that are still on display in the building today. "[Huntington] bankrolled us, and we are still using the money that he gave to us in the 1930s, " Cody explained. Other members have followed Huntington's example - “Much of the artwork throughout the space is either by our members or given to us by our members. ” The same is true of the expansive library on the upper floor of the building, which solely contains volumes written for or about the Academy members. As extraordinary as the main building is, we were just as enthusiastic to explore the auditorium, constructed in 1930 as an attachment to the original structure. It is a stunning space, with the classic ambiance of an old-world theater, complete with red velvet drapes and chairs and a high arched ceiling. It has some of the best acoustics in the city, Cody informed us. Those that are fortunate enough to be "in the know" take advantage of the unparalleled acoustics when preparing live recordings of their music. “Only a few musical or theatrical companies know about it, but more people should, ” he added. Needless to say, this was the most fitting conclusion to my journey, walking from 1st Street to 155th and from the East River to the Hudson. As the owner of a children's bookstore and the daughter of a renowned author, discovering this hidden gem in Manhattan was a perfect last stop.
An iconic piece of the New York skyline, the Chrysler building was the tallest building in the world upon its completion in 1930, before being surpassed eleven months later by the Empire State Building. To this day, however, the building remains a masterpiece of Art Deco in the center of Manhattan, an ever-present point by which to navigate while meandering through the side streets. Upon the buildings completion, fifty-five of the seventy-seven floors were used as office space, with the upper twenty-two a mixture of luxe dining rooms and a penthouse living space for Walter Chrysler (of automotive fame). Unlike others in the city, the Chrysler is not for tourists. The lobby is old-world and attractive, but that is all that visitors are allowed to view. No taking the elevator to the highest floor to gaze out over New York, although the crown it wears atop its impressive frame as it gazes skyward ensures that it will continue to capture the imagination of each of us from the ground.
The birth of the JNF began with a dream belonging to Zvi Hermann Schapira, a mathematics professor in Switzerland. He wanted a fund to be developed that could be used by the Jewish people in order to develop their own country. Theodor Herzl, a Viennese journalist, took Schapira's dream and ran with it. In 1901, the fund was created. Since that time, the JNF has planted countless trees, developed communities in need, and helped the Jewish people connect with the land of Israel.