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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Have desk, will travel

When we picture mobile now, we picture something  small and light like this.


But a hundred years ago mobile meant something different than it did today. The concept of a mobile desk was just one that could be moved, not necessarily one you could easily carry with you.  It serves some of the same purpose as a tablet does, holding information one wants access to in an organizaed fashion with space for writing your own additions to all that data. 

photo of Lyndhurst interior  by Ariella Brown
This is the desk that Jay Gould used at Lyndhurst and when commuting from there to his office on his yacht.  Though the railroad did pass right by Gould's summer home, it was built by Vanderbilt, and he vowed never to use it.  But he didn't suffer too much, sailing in on a yacht took only 45 minutes, an enviable commute by today's standards. However, he didn't travel too light if he took the desk-- and like an attendant or two  pull it for him--along for the trip.

That formidable piece of furniture is a Wooton Desk, which is known for having many compartments as well as casters, which makes it mobile as in designed to be moved. As the Wikipedia article explains, "The Wooton desk was introduced at the end of the 19th century, at a time when office work was changing in a drastic fashion with an increase in paperwork that led to the introduction of filing cabinets, among other things."

 According to the tour guide at Lyndhurst where the desk still stands, this particular one has over 100 compartments, which likely includes some secret ones. Instead of password protection or biometric identification, you'd rely on physical keys and hidden levers for securing your confidential documents from prying eyes. One plus for the desk, it is still usable over a century later. It's very unlikely that will be the case for today's tablets and smartphones.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Restoring a garden and some history in Yonkers

Above and below and some of the views of the walled garden, one of the highlights of the Untermyer Garden in Yonkers.I also included a picture of the Temple of Love that overlooks a waterfall.  Most of the rest of the gardens have not been restored to the glory they held back in the day when 60 gardeners tended its 150 acres with plants supplied by 60 greenhouses.  What is restored is worth seeing, and there's no charge  entry.

You can learn more about the gardens and the man behind them, Samuel Untermyer, at As the pamphlet in the garden and the site says, "Samuel Untermyer was born in Virginia in 1858, and moved to New York City after the Civil War. He was a partner in the law firm of Guggenheimer, Untermyer & Marshall, and was the first lawyer in America to earn a one million dollar fee on a single case."

The site offers a lot more in-depth information, including an article by Greogory Kupsky  that gives further insight into the response of German-American Jews to Hitler's increasing power and how Untemeyer clashed with others in pushing for a boycott of Germany.

 This is the better side of the ampitheater. As you can see form the picture below it, the other side is in much need of repair.

See more photos of the garden that I posted on Pinterest. If you don't get to Yonkers but do get to the northern part of Central Park, check out  the fountain adorned by the sculpture of the Three Dancing Maidens there with a plauque for Untemyer. see