Wednesday, November 29, 2017




( Photos  Autar Mota )

Little Italy is an area of Downtown Manhattan that falls in SOHO district. It lies close to China Town and precisely on Mulberry street . You can also say that it lies between canal Street and Grand street. Approachable from all sides by Metro, taxi or Buses , this Place has become a New Tourist destination in Manhattan New York for its old Buildings , Italian Grills , Open Air Restaurants , Bars and Antique shops . You find Pathways with Bricks / Tiles without Black topping . No High rise buildings or Towers . Walk through this heritage locality to get a feel of Europe of early twentieth century . While on a visit to this place , I spoke to an elderly resident of the area who informed me as under:

“ Italians came as   immigrants  to this place sometime in second half of nineteenth century .  They were mostly  poor  artisans and  unskilled Laborers. Some of them   also worked in Cotton factories . See all these Buildings , they were factories and most of these structures are made of cast Iron. See the ceiling height, It can’t be less than 20   feet in most of the cases . After the closure of factories , it became a residential area . The Chinese came after the Italians  . The Chinese  immigrants came as laborers Subsequently they bought shops , properties and established China Town. They too worked hard for survival. At a point of time about 30000 Italians lived in this area . We had shops , Restaurants and well established business over here . People educated their children and started moving out mostly to Queens and Brooklyn. Now you see these shops , or some Restaurants and a handful of Italians living over here . This is a unique area in Manhattan. Many Artists and creative people started coming to SOHO for its noise free old style ambiance and absence of High rise buildings. They were followed by many Hollywood actors and a few celebrities . That gave a sudden spurt to Real Estate activity over here and sent real estate price to   instant spiraling. Heights . By  rough estimate China Town over here has a Chinese   population of at least 90000 to 100000  

As we walk close to Saint Patrick’s old Cathedral , we are informed that some Hollywood Movies ( AMERICAN CRIME THRILLER GODFATHER In Particular ) were shot over here. People have seen Marlon Brando and other actors shooting some sequences near the church and some Restaurants on Mott Street . Little Italy has been the backdrop of films like Mean Streets ( Robert De Niro ) , Big Daddy( Adam Sandler comedy) and Donnie Brasco (American crime thriller ) . I am informed that so many TV serials are shot in this area .

I was also informed that a few powerful  Mafia Dons also operated from Little Italy when crime was at its peak in New York . A story of past now , But possibly , that also could be a reason of migration of some residents from the area . China town nearby also had a long history of Gambling Dens , Mafia Dons and criminal gangs ( Tong wars ) operating in the area , But with the spread of education and prosperity , all that is a story of past now. As China Town expands , Little Italy is getting smaller and smaller every year. A time may come when it shall be a Nostalgic memory in minds . Whatever be the case ,Tourists continue flocking to this heritage area even if the residents are moving out .

And the American society has wonderfully emerged from the melting pot of so many cultures that the immigrants to this New Nation brought with them . People from Spain, Netherlands , England , Africa , Italy , China , Indian subcontinent , Turkey , Middle east and many more places together with Natives have toiled to make what is known as AMERICA today .

I quote a paragraph ( page 178 ) from senator Bernie Sanders Book' " Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution:

" I am proud to be the son of an immigrant. My father came to this country from Poland at the age of seventeen without a nickel in his pocket. A young man who had no money, little education , and not one word of English , travelled across the ocean in 1921 in search of a better life. His story , My story , our story is the story of America:Hardworking people and families coming to the United States to create a brighter future for themselves and their children . .......Since the Nation's founding, untold numbers of people have come to our shores to improve their lives, escape oppression or violence, or flee desperate poverty. More than any other country in the history of the modern world, the united states has been shaped in its identity and character by the process of immigration and the contributions of these immigrants. "

Well knwn Urdu Poet Firaq Gorakhpuri also said something similar about immigrants to India . I quote his couplet:

Sar Zameen-e-hind par aqwaam-e-Aalam ke firaq
Kaafile Bastay gaye Hindustaan bantaa gaya ..

(“In the land of India ,  caravans from Nations of the world kept Pouring in and India kept getting formed ”).

So long so much.....

( Autar Mota)

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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Monday, November 27, 2017





(Photographs.. Autar Mota)

Sometime around  1857, as the Population of New York kept  increasing due to continuous arrival and  settlement of immigrants ,  the New settlers in Manhattan  felt an urgent need  to  build a Large  urban Park .  The park came to be known as CENTRAL PARK.  There was a continuous expansion and  Beautification this uptown  urban  park that currently  has Forests,  a lake ( Named as Jacqueline Onasis kennedy Onasis Reservoir ), Ponds, statues, walkways, Bridges, Meadows, Fountains,  Tonga tracks , Theatres , cafes, Clubs, flower Beds , Restaurants, Restrooms and so many amenities . Places or spots to see include Cherry Hill, Bow Bridge, Shakespeare Garden, The Pool, The Loch, The Ravine on west side. On east side you can see Gapstow Bridge, The Mall ( Literary Walk), Balto, Bethesda fountain, Alice in Wonderland, Conservatory Water, Cleopatra's Needle, Harlem Meer, Reservoir and conservatory Garden. You can also rent a bicycle and enjoy a ride , go for Boating , enjoy seasonal ice skating or  visit a Theatre or Zoo. There are some good Restaurants that serve Hot Coffee ,snacks  and sizzling Foods . Some prominent and  Popular  eating places inside the Park could be named as HARLEM MEER SNACK BAR, LOEB BOATHOUSE, LE PAIN  QUOTIDIEN, TAVERN ON THE GREEN,  THE  BALLFIELDS  CAFÉ  AND  DANCING CRANE CAFÉ. There are so many visitors information  centres inside with a Main Kiosk near Columbus Square Entry Gate.

The park is spread in about 840 acres in the upper Manhattan covering an area between 59th street to 110 street from north to south and from 8th avenue to 5th avenue from West to East. Travel by Metro ,pay $2and 75 Cents  and get down anywhere from Columbus square near 60th street up to 110th street to enter this park.

Managed by a private nonprofit organization known as Central Park Conservancy, The  Park opens at 6AM ( Morning) and closes at 1AM (Night ),365 days a year. This organization was founded in 1980 to restore, manage and look after Central Park. 75% of the annual budget ($65 Million ) of this organization comes from public donations .Central Park conservancy also runs a store that sells Central Park branded T shirts, Hats, hand embroidered material and guide books etc. Proceeds from all purchases help the conservancy to manage the Park. The conservancy has also set up free information Booths inside the Park . It also provides guided Tours inside the Park.

Once inside, you feel you have suddenly come to a different world with birds , green trees,  Pine forests, Grassy lands ,walkways, ponds , Playing Grounds and tranquil ambiance. The hustle of walking crowds amidst high rise buildings of New York  is suddenly forgotten even if  you see some skyscrapers around the park. You can Play an open Air Game of chess and Checkers inches AND CHECKERS HOUSE inside the Park. You can see breathtaking views from the BELVEDERE  CASTLE   or Visit CHARLES  A  DANA  DISCOCERY CENTRE  to see rotating Exhibits .
During Late Autumn season, we saw    some beautiful fall foliage.   We  also came across Colourful  Horse Carriages/  Tongas  carrying  tourists to various spots inside the Park. Bicycle Richshaws with tourists also keep moving. 

"Sir, you wanna  Park  Tour . Just $120  45 Minutes  . This Special Horse Carriage. Michael's ride. I carry family of President Clinton. Come  Madam."

Over here, if you are a Tourist from India, you will be addressed as Babu ji by people connected with Travel and Tour Industry. Young, old , literate or illiterate is a Babu ji. And every Babu ji will receive salaam and Namaste together. Take Salaam, take Namaste or take both together, choice is yours.

 As we move ahead, A  bicycle rickshaw man looks at us and comes closer:

" Babu ji , Namaste Salam. You  india .Come. I gonna cheaper concession. $50 two persons half hour. Madam decide. Babu ji wanna go around"

We go near the Bow Bridge. Shah Rukh khan has also done some film song sequences inside the Park near this Bridge. We see an Artist busy drawing a landscape near Bow Bridge. A chinese man in dark yellow robe comes close to us and wants to sell some image. I say no.We go to a restaurant and Order Mocha coffee with croissants. No vehicle is allowed into the park. Penalties are high and Adherence is strict.
We see families with children. We see individuals with pets. We see people sleeping and relaxing. So many young couples keep talking and getting intimate. Feelings are expressed. Others around have no business to look .If you are a Babu ji, shame is yours in such situations .

We see people in shorts running or Jogging . Outside , on Columbus Square entrance, we see some boys performing acrobatics to attract Tourists.    Outside  near Columbus Square ,Busy Halal  Vans   and  Tea / Coffee   Vendors   were ensuring that their customers make a line to buy Pretzels, Hot dogs, Bagels ,Sandwiches  and hand held  foods.   Near 5th avenue entrance, we see a group of Chinese demonstrating and raising slogans against  former Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui .

We see them changing  positions and posing for photo session  and video coverage.

While in New York, never miss this Park. 

( Autar Mora)

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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