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History Living in New York City

Abandoned Buildings on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (AKA 7th Avenue)

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IMG_2529These are some pictures of two old, abandoned buildings we saw on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (which is also Seventh Avenue). I have no idea what these buildings were originally built for, but the narrower one had been repurposed at least once. The arched openings had been sealed over with concrete blocks that had narrower doors set into them, equipped with drop-down security gates found on most stores in New York City that were built within the last twenty or thirty years. I got an approximation of an address (2341 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd) for the narrower building from Google Maps and then searched for property records, but all I found was a record listing the place as a “Theater/Performing Arts” venue. I couldn’t find any information on the other, larger building.

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I like abandoned buildings. I always have. One of my earliest memories is of me and my brother exploring an abandoned building in a small town called Bell, in Germany, where we were living temporarily while waiting for on-base housing. I loved castle ruins too. It’s fun to see historical artifacts in a museum, but it’s a very different experience when you’re looking through a place where people used to live their lives, trying to put together an idea of what might have happened there.

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As a bonus, I realized that in the background of some of my photographs is the Abyssinian Baptist Church. The congregation that eventually constructed the church at its current location, which was completed in 1923 at a cost of roughly $334k, was established in 1808 as a result of a walkout from the First Baptist Church in lower Manhattan, when black parishioners were told to adhere to segregated seating. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who that portion of Seventh Avenue is named after, was a pastor at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, which was named in honor of the place of origin of most of the founding members: modern Ethiopia.

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Day Trips in the City History Living in New York City

The ABCs of Children’s Books Exhibit at the New York Public Library – 42nd Street/5th Ave

The ABC of it: why children's books matter

On the 6th of this month, my wife and I met up with friends of ours to check out an exhibit on children’s books at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. I love going to that library! Right now, it’s just a reference library, meaning you can’t check any books out to take home, though there’s a chance that could change soon. There are plans being made to move a lot of the reference works to a storage facility in New Jersey and open up the area that is now called “the stacks” to the public as an area with books that can be taken home, though these plans are meeting heavy opposition from scholars who have filed lawsuits to block the removal of reference materials from the site.

Lion Statue in front of 42nd Street New York Public Library

The Fifth Avenue library branch regularly shows exhibits with different themes. Last year, we went to see an exhibit on old Automat restaurants.  I think you’d call them restaurants anyway. The exhibit we saw this time was on children’s books.

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I wasn’t expecting much, but I was surprised by how well the exhibit was set up and the diversity of books on display.

Dick and Jane!
Dick and Jane!

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A Japanese Faerie Tale
A Japanese Faerie Tale

They had everything from traditional American textbooks to Hindu comic books to Japanese faerie tales.

Little Golden Books in a case shaped like a Giant Golden Box
Little Golden Books in a case shaped like a Giant Golden Box

A few of the books on display were books I remembered reading as a kid, like the Little Golden Books series. Most were older. Some were a lot newer, though, like the Harry Potter series. I’ve seen the movies and I’d like to read those books when I get a chance too. According to the display, Harry Potter books are the fastest selling of all time. My wife says it’s because the books appeal to kids, teens and adults, so the audience buying them is a lot bigger. Makes sense to me.

I’ve always been fascinated by books. I guess that’s a good thing, considering the field I chose to pursue in college. I just placed an order for 17 books for one master’s history class for this Fall semester. Woot woot! I have so many books I’ve run out of shelves to put them on. I’ve given away lots of books to charity in the past when my collection became too cumbersome to take with me when moving, but this time most of my books are history books or books on religion, politics, sociology and anthropology. In other words, they’re all books I’ll probably need in the future as a student and teacher. I suppose there are worse things to have too many of in your house!

Gallery of more photos from the children’s book exhibit: