In the mid-twentieth century, Tibet — which is devoted to Buddhist practices and is led by the Dalai Lama — was invaded by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, sparking a decades-long dispute over Tibetan sovereignty. China’s Communist Party has since destroyed vital elements of Tibetan culture, including over 6,000 monasteries.
With so many cultural centers demolished by the Chinese forces, the rich, centuries-old Tibetan way of life risks extinction. For this reason, the fourteenth Dalai Lama asked to establish Tibet House U.S. to preserve the heritage of his people. Thus, the intriguing institution was founded by prominent American Buddhists: composer Philip Glass, author Robert Thurman, and actor Richard Gere.
Since the 1990s, Executive Director Ganden Thurman has dedicated himself to Tibet House U.S.’ mission of protecting and presenting Tibetan culture to society at large. Having spent time in India as a child while his father — a professor of Buddhist studies — did research, Thurman came to appreciate the “poise, humility, and perspective” of the Tibetan lamas and academics who frequented his family’s home. Though he considers himself more secular than religious, he clarified that Tibet House is neither a political nor religious organization. However, there are often times when they find themselves engaged in conversation on such topics.
Through art exhibitions, lectures on subjects including medicine and mind sciences, and classes such as “Developing Compassion” that fuse Buddhist practices with Western psychology, Tibet House allows visitors to draw their own conclusions. With its library and permanent installation of Tibetan artifacts — open regularly to the public — this precious museum safe-guards the culture of the region within its walls.
Since members of Tibet House are considered too political to attain travel visas by the Chinese authorities, the House does not have the ability to source artworks on its own. Instead, generous collectors donate the majority of the pieces on display. According to Thurman, such artists and art aficionados are the House's greatest supporters, as they tend to feel a personal connection to the fight for freedom of expression. This collaboration was evidenced by the prints we observed of the current Dalai Lama, donated by Richard Avedon, hanging above a printer, and musician Philip Glass' name listed on the roster of the Executive Officers.
Thurman revealed to us that during the course of the Tibet-China conflict, over 100 Tibet nationals have resorted to self-immolation in order to catch the world’s attention and direct it towards their struggle. They are desperate to be seen - and through its efforts Tibet House US is providing them the right to be present in the narrative of world heritage.
“My only connection to chess is through my son, ” confessed Noah Chasin, the unlikely leader of the Marshall Chess Club. Grandmaster Frank Marshall, a native New Yorker and longstanding U. S. Chess Champion, established the club as a haven for chess buffs. It relocated several times, beginning at Keens Steakhouse — featured in the first Walking Manhattan Sideways book — until it finally found its home on 10th Street in 1931. Perhaps the most famous chess club in the world, every champion has played a game here over the past century. “It’s essentially an obligation for all of the top players at some point. ” This is also where the illustrious Bobby Fischer rose to prominence. Fittingly, parts of the film Searching for Bobby Fischer were later filmed on the Marshall’s premises. Though some might be intimidated by the Marshall’s storied reputation, Noah emphasized that the atmosphere is more welcoming than one might expect. The club’s regular tournaments are typically a fifty-fifty split between its members and those who simply possess a love for the pastime. Noah’s own son started visiting the Marshall when he was only eight years old and has since spent years attending some of the largest competitions around the globe, including the Philadelphia World Open. Though certainly no chess disciple himself, Noah was a devoted father, and as his son participated in workshops, camps, and matches at the Marshall, Noah was recruited to represent the parents of other scholastic members on the club’s board. In 2016, he became the president and is now “neck-deep in the chess world, which I never could have imagined before. ” He is delighted to see players old and young, from New York and abroad, find their way to the Marshall. Better yet, he relishes the second-hand thrill of witnessing opponents face off over one of the club’s elegant boards. “It’s not the trajectory I would have imagined as a parent, but it’s been such a spectacular one. ”
Operated by the Salvation Army, this large pre-war apartment complex offers housing to women - ages 18 through 50 - who are either enrolled in school or are employed. There is someone at the desk 24/7, two meals a day are offered, and each simply furnished apartment has its own bathroom.
The store is a mosaic in itself. Denes Petoe, CEO, and Graham Barr, president, have laid out their showroom to facilitate the nearly 1, 000 varieties of natural stone, as well as to capture the eye of each customer. Style here is in the eye of the beholder, not in the hands of the retailer.
“I really want families to play together. That’s my goal in the store, ” said Christina Clark, who has been wowing parents, grandparents, and, most importantly, children for decades with her wonderland of toys and games. Christina worked in a toy store as a young mother and realized she had found her calling. She opened Kidding Around on Bleecker Street, followed by several other locations. Today, it is the 15th Street shop that has survived throughout the years. “I love going to work every day, so it was a good choice for me. ”In the shop’s beginnings, its selection of toys and games leaned toward the traditional — “no batteries, no remote controls, and everything that just uses your imagination. ” Over the years, however, Christina chose to grow with the times and introduce more modern, automated items into her inventory. Her own children later helped her bring new options into the store. Today, Christina feels lucky to work with her daughter, Kasey Coyle, who uses her background in applied behavioral analysis to stock plenty of books and toys for younger children and those with special needs. Interestingly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Christina found that her clientele went back to the basics — the demand for puzzles and classic board games was revived. “I hope that trend continues, ” she said earnestly. “I hope that people remember how much fun they had playing games with their family so it brings us together and off our devices. ”
On any given day when passing by, there are legions of young, hopeful actors hanging around outside this building in between classes. Lee Strasberg, known to moviegoers for his role as gangster Hyman Roth in The Godfather: Part II, founded his institute in 1969, almost forty years after he participated in the formation of the Group Theatre (an ensemble of actors that were committed to putting on productions representative of "the life of their times. ") As artistic director of the Institute until his death in 1982, Strasberg continued to train his students through Method Acting - a technique that has been recognized internationally. Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Barbra Streisand, and Marlo Thomas are only a few of the actors who were taken under Strasberg's wing and taught to fly. Today, the Institute continues to flourish as it turns out many fine actors both here and at its Hollywood location. For those who would like to watch some of this training in action, there are two theaters (The Marilyn Monroe Theater and the Lee Strasberg Theater) connected to the Institute where students perform.
Enter through the looming stone archway and immense wooden doors and walk inside the Horseman, where the gloomy interior is an aesthetic rather than dreary. The exposed brick, recycled wood from new England barns, and flickering natural gas lamps conjure a communal vibe. In the dark warmth, one can almost imagine a massive stone fireplace roaring with pots of stew simmering over open flames, or moors lying in wait just on the other side of the smoked windows. This rustic, colonial gastropub is one of the latest additions to 15th street. When we asked the bartender why the pub was named after Ichabod Crane’s spooky pursuer, he gestured toward the door and asked us what street we were adjacent to: Irving Place - and local legend claims Washington Irving lived at 122 East 17th Street. His famed character’s namesake bar is anything but sinister. The rotating seasonal beers and atypical comfort food could warm anyone's bones.