Earlier today, knowing that the weather was going to turn chilly and snow might fall, I wrapped myself up in lots of layers, including my trusty old hand knit scarf pictured below, and headed over to the gorgeous 42nd Street main building of the New York Public Library.
I always consider that the Library's Holiday Open House, to which Friends of the Library like myself are invited, signals the official beginning of the Christmas season in New York.
Some of you all will have seen prior posts describing this festive afternoon, and some of what follows might seem familiar. There are some traditions kept going each year, like the huge Christmas tree in the grand entry hall (formally known as the Astor Hall) and the Santa-cap-wearing jazz band that plays throughout the afternoon in Astor Hall.
Lots of entertainment is designed to amuse children. During the afternoon, it becomes clear that children come in many ages.
This year, a new entertainment and refreshment are, the Cafe Periodical, was popular. Coffee and tea was served, along with gypsy swing and jazz played by The Hot Club of Bushwick. The band can just be seen in the far corner of the "cafe."
Large paintings hanging around the room depict historic headquarters of major New York publishing houses. The following photo is of the Scribner's building. Years ago an elegant Scribner's book shop delighted readers of all ages on the first floors of this building. A Sephora shop now claims that space. Fifth Avenue is no longer the "book country" that it was in past decades.
Back in the Astor Hall, party goers were being serenaded by the LaGuardia Arts High School Show Choir. The choir dressed formally...red dresses or white tie and tails! Perhaps you can see them on the distant staircase? You might also see some stilt walkers costumed as storybook characters.
More balloon sculpting was taking place on each of the Library floors.
The Library has a fabulous and varied collection of rare books, literary related artifacts and art. Wonderful permanent and changing exhibits take place throughout the Library throughout the year.
I ventured into the Berg Collection's room today to see some treasures displayed there. Below is my photograph of Charles Dickens' desk, chair, lamp and desk calendar. We Dickens fans were kept at a distance from these items by a subtle green velvet rope barrier.
In a nearby glass case was another Dickens item, a large ivory letter opener given to CD by his housekeeper and sister-in-law, Georgina Hogarth, as a memento of his recently deceased beloved cat, Bob. The handle is actually made from one of Bob's forepaws. True.
In another case in the Berg Collection room is Virginia Woolf's bamboo walking stick.
There were many other gems in this room, but nothing quite got my attention as much as that letter opener.
And so, I continued my tour of other interesting diversions available here and there.
Although I have no photograph to prove it, I did stop by the juggler's hallway area, and mastered the skill of balancing a peacock feather vertically, plume upwards, on my upturned palm.
I could not resist taking a photo of this vintage telephone kiosk. Working coin-operated telephones are in the niches at each end of the kiosk. The central area has been cleared of equipment, including ... telephone books. That amused me, being in a library.
Back downstairs on the main floor, I encountered a costumed "literary Lion," who took his character from the two Sphinx-like stone lions who grace the entrance to the Library.
In the Library's very crowded gift shop, I encountered three members of the West Point Glee Club, taking a break between several afternoon performances. I chatted with them a while, all the time thinking how young they looked. I gave them my thanks for their beautiful music, and wished them safety when their military service begins.
On my way to reclaim my coat from one of many coat check areas, I ran into Mother Goose, charming some young and not-too-young children.
My coat, hat, scarf and gloves provided some warmth as I exited the Library down the broad stairs, and so I decided to walk up Fifth Avenue to see what sorts of decorations I might discover.
I am sorry to report that few shops, even huge major retail "names," seemed to have any decorations. This is not how I remember Fifth Avenue looking. The sidewalks were thick with tourists, and I wondered what they made of the cold weather and rather ordinary displays along the famous Avenue.
At Rockefeller Center, the giant trees with its over 40,000 LED lights did seem to be a bit showy.
The Rock Center esplanade was very, very crowded. I was not the only person wanting to take a photo of The Tree.
I continued walking up the Avenue, and as I neared the Cartier building, I saw impressive red and gold LED lighting. A big red bow and several golden panthers engaging in kitty behavior about the building. I made sure to include a yellow cab in my photo.
There are three panthers. One on top of the front of the building, one climbing up the side of the building and one resting on top of the side entrance.
I do apologize for the photograph quality. My hands were very cold.
Fendi has some jolly stylized Santas dancing along the front of their store...more lights.
The next photo is a very discrete peek into the window of a very exclusive, perhaps even stuffy or even snobby club. Once only men could be members. I have been to lunch and to some parties in this place. All that was years ago.
A much less dignified window view is in the following photo. The Henri Bendel window is a tribute to the late Abe Hirschfeld, a brillian cariaturist, famous for his portraits of actors, and for always hiding his daughter Nina's name in each drawing.
Harry Winston's facade was all aglow, thanks to extravagant use of ... LED lights. I actually saw shoppers shopping in that very luxe shop this afternoon.
Across the Avenue, Tiffany had some sort of vinyl decorations applied to its facade. Very tacky, I thought. By now I was getting very cold, and so I did not go across to take photos of the actual shop windows. I promise to make a return visit.
Bulgari has a snake made out of ... well, by now you might be able to guess, snaking its way around its corner walls.
And so, at last, I reached the beautiful windows at Bergdorf Goodman. Even inside my cashmere-lined leather gloves, my hands were so, so cold, that I could barely click the button on my camera. I do promise to return to this location so that I can have better pictures to show you all of these fantastic creations.
There are ice cycles galore, and the theme of these windows is Holidays on Ice (a la the name of some glamorous skating shows.)
April Fool's day has everything topsy turvy.
I definitely remember that this following rosy-toned window was a salute to Valentine's Day. A frosty Valentine's Day.
The next two pictures are of the Halloween window.
Spooky cobwebs amidst the ice.
The 58th Street windows around the corner from Fifth Avenue, continue the frosty theme, but without designating a holiday. The monkeys that appear in these windows get recycled year after year by the visual team at BG. I look forward to seeing them over and over.
Here's a perfect outfit to wear for a evening stroll in the woods.
Lots of little monkeys helping out this couple.
And so, as snow did actually begin to fall as I looked at those snow scenes, I thought it was time to find myself a bus to take me home.
It's been fun, sitting in my cozy apartment, while putting together this little report of one December 2013 afternoon in New York City.
I plan to show you more New York City holiday views by next weekend. Thank you all for your visits and comments. Hoping you and yours are getting happily into the spirit of the season.