This past Sunday I joined the good people from Maggie’s Farm on their annual “Urban Hike” in New York City. This year they rounded up a group of about 13. The hike started at the Museum of Natural History (80th Street and Central Park West — near the geographical center of Manhattan Island) and proceeded uptown on a meandering path of about 9 miles, stopping at sites that included things like Pomander Walk, Straus Park (Leo Straus was the founder of Macy’s who died on the Titanic), and Columbia University. The weather was chilly with persistent rain. Toward the end of the hike, at about 155th Street, we had just stood on Edgecomb Avenue at the top of the bluff overlooking the spot where once had stood the Polo Grounds (actually a baseball stadium that was the original home of the Mets, and before them the New York Giants baseball team), and we turned the corner, and suddenly this: . . .
Several gasps and “Oh my God”s erupted spontaneously. I heard the words “Darth Vader building” uttered behind me. Whatever this black block might be, there had been no mention of it in the hike itinerary that had been provided to us; and yet this building was clearly the dominant presence in the neighborhood. Viewing it from the street, its function was not obvious. Had this thing been dropped in by space aliens? What could it possibly be, and why was it here? . . .Read More