Thursday Open Thread
August 18, 2011 8:03 AM - Open Thread - admin

Wednesday OT
August 17, 2011 7:39 AM - Open Thread - dibs

Tuesday OT
August 16, 2011 7:38 AM - Open Thread - dibs

Monday OT
August 15, 2011 6:52 AM - Open Thread - dibs
I left this on Sunday to come back here! :(

A Weekend On The Hudson
August 14, 2011 9:54 PM - Open Thread - Legion
In my last article for I brought up the question of what makes living in New York City so special and whether or not this city was a net importer or exporter of culture in this day and age. I purposefully left that question open for readers to discuss and to consider. With this article I hope to add some food for thought by bringing up New Yorkers of another age with names which are undoubtedly familiar to most Americans. They are names synonymous with wealth and privilege, with history and with the fortunes of this city and of our nation as well. Many of their homes remain as a testament to the way they lived. As a sort of living history book for later generations to enjoy and breathe in while walking well worn paths etched by time. Paths still redolent with the gilded age flower gardens continuing to bloom faithfully beneath the canopy of trees hundreds of years old and who alone can hold all the weight of history within their enormous girth.

A trip to the Hudson Valley is a trip back in time. Just over one hundred miles from the madding crowd of Brooklyn sit majestic and well preserved mansions of another age. They line the East bank of the Hudson river and invite visitors to explore the way families like the Vanderbilts, the Roosevelts and the Rockefellers lived. It takes just under 2 hours to get to Dutchess county which is where the majority of these great mansions are located but even the trip there is enjoyable as it winds through the low lying Catskill mountains made famous by artists of the Hudson River school and authors like James Fenimore Cooper, Edith Wharton and Washington Irving.

My first stop was Clermont (photograph above), the ancestral home of the Livingston family. The patriarch was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the serene home perched high over the Hudson hosted the likes of George Washington and seven generations of the Livingstons. The grounds are well manicured and the home is quite secluded at the end of a winding road through heavy forest. This home was also the launch site of the first Steam Boat which was developed by Robert Fulton and one of the Livingston clan. There are reproductions of the steam ship housed in the visitor center, objects found during archeological excavations nearby as well as a touching short film narrated by the last Livingston to live in the house;
Honora Livingston, who passed away in 2001.

Next stop was Springwood, home of the Roosevelts in Hyde Park. This is a major national historic site and is currently undergoing much renovation on the grounds of the Presidential library. The 290 acre site includes the Roosevelt mansion where FDR grew up, Eleanor’s residence Val-Kill and of course the Presidential library which FDR himself had planned to house the wealth of historical documents pertaining to his 4 terms as President. I really enjoyed looking into his childhood room to see his bed, diplomas, photographs on the wall as well as his wheel chair down the hall.

The library in the mansion looks like the Roosevelts just stepped out for lunch. Even his dog Fala’s favorite blanket is still laid out. There is a reproduction of FDR’s oval office in the Presidential Library building just as it was in 1940. Historical papers such as the actual legislation which he signed to enact the Social Security program fill rooms spanning different eras from the Depression to WWII. The Presidential tomb sits at the center of the family rose garden and consists of an enormous rectangular marble stone which seems to glow in the sunlight.

Down the road from the Roosevelt mansion, about a ten minute drive away, is the stately entrance to the McKim, Mead and White designed Vanderbilt mansion. The estate is comprised of hundreds of acres sitting high above the surrounding landscape. The drive up to the house includes a stone bridge over a creek and a winding road up a hill. The house is practically hidden from view by the surrounding trees until one reaches a flat stretch at the base of a large green field. Looking West from that point the imposing mansion is then seen full on, giving the visitor the feeling of being instantly transformed into a character in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel or lost somewhere in an old European estate. The National Park Service runs hourly tours of the house during which you can see the priceless antiques and artwork inside. There are hiking trails throughout and convenient scenic lookout points from which to take in the beautiful surrounding countryside across the Hudson.

My short weekend family trip ended at Locust Grove, home of the American artist and inventor Samuel Morse (most notable for the “Morse Code” and telegraph machine). This is a beautiful, Italianate villa designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, the great 19th century architect also known for designing the New York Customs House which still stands as the image of Wall Street. The visitor’s center has an excellent little gallery of Morse's art work on display. Outside of the actual home which contains fantastic examples of 19th century furniture and art and within the forested grounds of this estate, are numerous hiking trails, gardens and the sounds of locusts and cicadas everywhere. In one corner of the property, right by a brook, is the family pet cemetery with small headstones denoting beloved animal companions with names like Penny and Petey. Morse himself is actually interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

In between visits to old mansions there are a multitude of things to do from antiques shopping in towns like Rhinebeck and Poughkeepsie to a drive-in movie theater in Hyde Park showing two features for the price of one beginning at 8:30 every night. If you are lucky, you can call ahead and get reservations to dine at one of the restaurants in the famous Culinary Institute of America (CIA) located just south of the FDR home.

There are too many homes and mansions to visit in one trip including but not limited to names like Olana, Montgomery Place, Staatsburgh, Wilderstein and Kykuit (the Rockefeller Estate).
Not to be missed are the opportunities to sit with the family and have a good old fashioned picnic on the grounds of one of the State Parks. Several of the homes are run by the NY State Park system which makes certain that the picnic areas are well maintained with ample parking and clean facilities. While sitting back on a sunny summer day, looking at the trees above and the river below with the sounds of a cool breeze teasing the leaves above, you can almost make out the faint sounds of a bygone era still echoing between the banks of the Hudson.

Get Ready to Party!!!
August 13, 2011 10:47 PM - Open Thread - InsertSnappyNameHere
When: August 25th, 6:30pm
Where: 308 Flatbush Avenue
What: Do you really have to ask?

Awwwww yeah! It's that time again folks! CobbleSnaps Productions is proud to present our annual End of Summer Shindig! This year we take the party to Ocean's 8 located at 308 Flatbush Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn (near the corner of 7th Avenue).

What the heck is Ocean's 8? Well, it just happens to be the largest fun spot in...well...ok...we don't *know for sure* that it's the largest anything anywhere, but hey, trust us when we say it's HUGE! Ocean's 8 features numerous pool tables, 2 bowling lanes, air hockey tables, ping-pong tables, a bar (of course!) and a kitchen that serves food! (The onion rings are FABULOUS!) For more information about Ocean's 8 and to see pictures of the space, visit their website at

No excuses will be accepted...get yer booty on down to Ocean's 8 on August 25th from 6:30pm until whenever and party with all the gang! We always love to meet new people and familiar faces are always a pleasure, too. Please RSVP by adding a comment to this post so that we can get an approximate headcount. Hope to see you all there!

Ocean's 8 is located at 308 Flatbush Avenue. Take the B or Q train to the "7th Avenue" stop and use the exit that is marked "7th Ave and Flatbush." The main entrance to Ocean's 8 is right outside this stop. You can also take the 2/3 to either Bergen Street or Grand Army Plaza. For the bus riders, take the B67 to the corner of Flatbush Avenue and 7th Avenue, or the B41 to Flatbush Avenue and Park Place. (map -



Weekend OT
August 13, 2011 9:29 AM - Open Thread - dibs

Restaurant Review: Cafe de La Esquina
August 12, 2011 11:57 PM - Open Thread - Deleted

Restaurant Review : White Castle
August 12, 2011 9:44 AM - Open Thread - BoerumHillScott

Atlantic Yards Construction
August 12, 2011 8:02 AM - Open Thread - BoerumHillScott

Open Thread
August 12, 2011 7:00 AM - Open Thread - BoerumHillScott

Open Thread
August 11, 2011 7:18 AM - Open Thread - BoerumHillScott