Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Leaving New England; New York bound

Today we drove down to New York via the iconic Taconic State Parkway, my favorite highway in the United States. It is particularly lovely in the fall. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who lived in the area, had long envisioned a scenic road through the eastern Hudson Valley, and was instrumental in making it a reality. Its winding, hilly route was designed by landscape architect Gilmore Clarke to offer scenic vistas of the Hudson Highlands, Catskills and Taconic regions. It was completed in the early 1960s. The entire highway is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of it, as I was driving, but you can see some here.

We stopped along the way at the FDR Home & Presidential Library & Museum in Hyde Park (a National Historic Site) but didn’t have time to see much other than a brief introductory video called “A Rendezvous with History” and some of the exhibits in the lobby. A quote that struck us from FDR when he was dedicating the Library (the first ever presidential library, which started a tradition) on June 30, 1941, was "...the dedication of a library is in itself an act of faith. To bring together the records of the past and to house them in buildings where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future, a Nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future." FDR himself designed the clamshell boxes that are used to store documents in the library.

Passing through Brooklyn, we stopped at the beautifully landscaped Woodlawn Cemetery, known for the many prominent people buried there (musicians: Irving Berlin, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Fritz Kreisler; Joseph Pulitzer, for whom the Pulitzer prize is named; “robber baron” Jay Gould; entrepreneurs: J.C. Penney, founder of the eponymous store; R.H. Macy, founder of Macy’s department store; F.W. Woolworth, founder of Woolworth’s five and dime store; Admiral Farragut, who said “Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead!”; Fiorello LaGuardia, mayor of New York during the Great Depression and WWII, after whom LaGuardia airport, which we're flying home from, was named; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a leader in the early women’s rights movement; author Herman Melville; sculptor Daniel Chester French; and many more).

My quest, though, was to see and photograph the grave of my great great grandfather, Robert Brown Potter (1829-1887), a Civil War General in the Union Army. He served under Brig. Gen. Ambrose Burnside (for whom “sideburns” are named), and had a hefty pair of sideburns himself. He led troops in the Second Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Antietam, during which he was wounded. He lived out the end of his life in Newport, Rhode Island, which we just visited a couple of weeks ago.

Woodlawn Cemetery also has many beautiful classical mausoleums, sculptures, and mosaics, and some interesting artistic memorial stones.

Once we got to New York, we ditched the rental car, as we’re getting around by foot and ferry (and subway, as necessary) in the city for this last week of our trip. We are staying in a hotel in Long Island City (Queens), where we have a view of the Queensboro Bridge.

1 comment:

Heather van Woerden said...

It was so interesting to hear about your great-great grandfather who was a General at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run and Antietam. My great, great...?? uncle was a Canadian who went to fight for the Union during the Civil War. His regiment was from Wisconsin. He was captured at the 2nd Battle of Bull Run! We have a letter he hand wrote after the war about all his experiences during the war. It's priceless!!

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