Monday, December 10, 2007

Berger's New York: Bunnies on 11th Street

The First Presbyterian Church on 5th Avenue and 12th Street.

While exploring Portland during a newspaper conference last year, Hannah, Peter, Brandon and I made sure to visit Powell's Bookstore, this amazing independent/used bookstore that blows Strand out of the water. As we explored the different floors and colored sections, I found myself drawn to the history section, more specifically, New York City history. There, I found Meyer Berger's New York. After flipping through it quickly, it intrigued me (and hey, the price was right, $5 for a hardcover? Hells yeah) so I bought it. Stashing it in my bag, I soon forgot about it until recently.

Meyer Berger was a New York Times reporter, with a short stint at the New Yorker under his belt. His column, About New York, explored the many stories New York has to offer, the kind of stuff I'm interested in. His column most likely gave way to blogs today like Gothamist.

So I want to share some stories from the book, which I will do as I continue to read the book.

One of the first stories I read as I went through the book was the following (if you know me, then you know why I chose this article):


February 26, 1954

Residents in lower Fifth Avenue who tip a companionable cup now and then have been bothered by the notion that they have been bothered by the notion that they have seen white rabbits hopping along the pavement, or down side streets.

Well it wasn't just a notion, but it's nothing to be concerned about. White rabbits do appear in Fifth Avenue and sometimes in Eleventh Street, just west of the avenue. They belong to the nursery school of the staid First Presbyterian Church in the neighborhood.

A gentleman called this newspaper the other night to report that he had caught up with a white rabbit in the avenue near the church, learned that its hutch was on the church grounds and put it back inside the church fence.

Michael Kennedy, a sturdy fellow who works around the grounds, says there's just one rabbit in the hutch right now, an all-white one that is the pet of the kindergarten class. Someoneno one's ever found out wholeft him on the lawn one night two years ago and the children adopted him. He has the run of the lawn sometimes and rarely strays.

Three weeks ago another unidentified benefactor left a second white rabbit on the lawn. Mr. Kennedy, after a talk with the kindergarten teacher, put him into the hutch with the first one.

They didn't get along, it seems, so Mr. Kennedy put the newcomer out on the lawn, and he's the one who keeps hopping through the fence to sample dangerous living. A Chinese laundryman brought him back after he'd gone almost as far as the Avenue of Americas in Eleventh Street.

The other day he was gone again, but Mr. Kennedy didn't know where and didn't seem to care much. "That second one was too quarrelsome for a rabbit, if you ask me," was his comment.


I also like this story because it's where Eugene Lang College is (11th Street) and that's the same church where we had our divisional graduation.

And there's something special about reading older articles. I remember researching articles from the 1968 Columbia University strikes for Inprint, and a reporter used the phrase "Bogarty" to describe someone and it made me giggle.

No comments: