Biking the Backbone

Our Ride has taken us 620 miles. If the pandemic hadn’t kept us home, we’d be in Salmon, Idaho.

Instead of the mountains, we biked Manhattan’s backbone, Broadway, 13 miles end to end. We’ll show you a very few of the highlights of what we saw.

We started just across the Broadway Bridge, at West 225th Street in The Bronx.

Our route down Broadway is marked in red.
A view of Manhattan from across the Harlem River.
On the Broadway Bridge.
Manhattan envelops you immediately.
Dykman House, built in the 1780s when Manhattan was mostly forest and farm, is at W. 204th Street.
Fort Tryon Park
The George Washington Bridge at W. 178th Street. We crossed it on the Rides of 2011 (to Iowa), 2012 (to Nashville), 2014 (to the Great Lakes), and this year’s 2020 Pandemic Ride.
Before it was the Home of Spiritual Artistry, this 1930 building was a grand cinema and opera house.
125th Street, Harlem
Barnard College of Columbia University.
The university neighborhood was eerily quiet.
Pandemic dining is outdoors. Nice! What will happen in winter?
By mid-March, the city took the pandemic seriously. Government learned from early mistakes. The local infection rate is now below 1% of persons tested.
Controversial Columbus statue at W. 59th Street. The barriers discourage vandalism.
Times Square. Almost deserted.
Javits Building. Tallest federal building in the country. Ugly inside and out. Bad karma: it houses immigration “courts” where sometimes—despite the Attorney General, who can and does overrule immigration “judges”—justice can be found.
A demonstration at City Hall Park. Sensible people respect police for their necessary and difficult work. Sadly, the demonstrators didn’t acknowledge that police officers and their institutional culture too often violate American laws and values.
View of a mirrorlike WTC building from Zuccotti Park, erstwhile site of the Occupy Wall Street encampment.
Trinity Church, completed in 1846, was the tallest building in the USA until 1869, and the tallest in NYC until 1890.
Trinity Churchyard, a reminder of humanity’s ultimate equality.
How many visitors ponder that the bronze bull, a symbol of Wall Street capitalism, looks toward Trinity Churchyard? My ears are visible above our bike’s flag.
One Broadway, where it all begins. If Broadway is the city’s backbone, you might call this the tailbone.
Looking back up Broadway, whence we came.
Just below Broadway is a monument to the founding of Fort Amsterdam in 1625. This side is inscribed in Dutch.
Nearby is Castle Clinton, a fort built in 1808-11 to defend NYC. It became an opera house and theater. From 1855-1890, it was an immigration station through which 8 million people, two thirds of U.S. immigrants during that period, entered the country.

In Central Park, en route to the Broadway Bridge, we passed a Morse statue. We’d biked by it many times without noticing.

Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872). His hand is on a telegraph key.

Morse was a successful portrait painter. He invented the single-wire telegraph that transformed the world. He donated generously to charities.

And he was a bigot. He led movements against immigrants and Catholics. He wrote a treatise defending slavery.

Morse was a complex mix of good and evil. As is everyone. Every “villain”. Every “hero”.

Rabbi A. J. Heschel wrote, “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”

Maybe part of responsibility is ending the erection of statues—clay-footed idols—altogether.

In any event, symbols matter. And bandwidth is limited.

Confederate symbols, like Nazi and Stalinist symbols, are too evil to be tolerated.

Remnant of a Stalin statue, Budapest, 1956.

But maybe—with some of the bandwidth spent on deciding the fate of, say, Columbus statues—we should help our neighbors.

The hungry need food. The sick need care. The homeless need shelter. Abused Americans need justice and respect. And the persecuted from abroad need their pleas for refuge to be heard, a hearing that the White House, in our names and in defiance of our laws, denies them.

When calm talk invites attack, it takes a Broadway-size backbone and the reach of the telegraph (or of an Internet following) to change the subject to what matters most. We—a puppet and a person—have no such a backbone nor reach.

To promote meaningful change—to protect the most vulnerable, the people without a country, without a voice—this puppet and this person need organized, talented, ethical, effective help.

That’s why we support Human Rights First.

Please join us.

3 thoughts on “Biking the Backbone

  1. Great post. I enjoyed my virtual journey so much as I did not have an uptown family and have never even been that far uptown. Blessings on you for all you do, especially in these times. Mario is Colombian, but his cousin and family from Venezuela came abt 2 years to escape threâts from the Maduro regime. They stayed with us a while and rented a truck which we packed full of downsizing stuff for them to live in Ohio wherr he had connections. Luckily they got social security numbers and work permits. This was probably bc he was a judge and his wife a lawyer. Their oldest was in his last year of law school and now works in a restaurant. The typical immigrant story in some ways. Since then COVID has wreaked havoc in Venezuela. But even thpugh with all but the youngest working, who is a toddler, the family of 6 is getting by and happy they left. Thwy had to abandon their homes and heard they are now stripped. When they left, it was awful. Now it is worse.

    Like

  2. Jeffrey, another great post! We really find them so interesting, often learning history and geography coupled with beautiful photographs.
    Thank you.
    Michael and Annette Weil, Israel

    Like

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