Who can be found on many buildings in England? Whose image adorns the face of some buildings in Germany, France and others places? It is the Green Man.
Did you know it also can be found on buildings in the United States? There are at least three locations where the Green Man can be found in New York City. Below are some grotesque-like images I found on one Manhattan building.
See if you can find any Green Men in your locale. There seem to be more of these around than people know.
It resembles a man, but is surrounded by leaves or other plant life. It may have branches or vines protruding from its mouth or nose. It is seen on different pub signs and as grotesques on buildings or churches. What is it? It is the Green Man.
Although it can be seen in other cultures, the Green Man can be spotted around England. There are at least three Green Man Pubs in London and more are elsewhere. Several colleges at Oxford have the symbol on a door or as a grotesque on the side of a building. Churches and cathedrals in different counties have the Green Man decorating their edifice.
Although the true meaning may be unknown, there are many theories about it. Some see the Green Man as a symbol of rebirth or growth in spring. Others see it as a symbol of man’s reliance on nature. Another theory is it is a reminder that death awaits us all. One Christian interpretation is that the foliage coming from the mouth represents the life giving breath of the Holy Spirit. Other ideas about the meaning exist as well.
Whatever their meaning or purpose, they are interesting to find. Look them up on the web and see where some of them are located. This site lists some locations: click here. If you are planning a trip to one of these areas, stop in and find one.
Is it a lion or a dragon? I think it may be a dragon. I looked online and could not find a similar image.
I took this image several years ago when in the Pusan/Busan area of South Korea at one of its lovely Buddhist temples. It was taken on an old Pentax K-1000 as slide film. I recently scanned this image.
Buddhist temples are known for their artwork. Besides statues of Buddha, the temples are like an art museum on the inside and outside. If in Korea or another Asian country, be sure to stop by one. You won’t regret it.
Where can you find the highest concentration of grotesques in New York City? The answer is on the campus of City College of New York.
City College is located on Amsterdam Avenue near 138th Street. It is in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Manhattan just north of Harlem.
How Many Grotesques?
According to “The City College of NY 150 Years of Academic Architecture” written by Paul David Pearson (1997) the buildings are “encased with over 600 grotesque figures that directly relate to the educational function of each building. The figures were designed by Livingston Smith, a staff member in the post’s architectural office, modeled by G. Grundellis and cast in terra cotta.” I got this quote from another website. Scouting NY website says there are 1,000. I don’t think I was able to access close to either of those numbers walking around campus, however, there are a lot to see.
How to Get There
In Manhattan take the number 1 subway line to 137th Street- City College station. Exit and walk up Hamilton Place and turn right on 138th Street. When you cross Amsterdam Avenue you are there. Anyone can walk around the campus. There are not many people there on the weekend, but I was still able to walk around the buildings. There are areas you can not walk on campus. Some streets or alleyways may be closed off with fences.
If grotesques peak your interest, it is worth a trip up the 1 train. It may also be a good destination prior to Halloween.
What happens when prices rise so high in New York City that renting or buying is out of the question for the average person? What happens when the cost of goods can be up to twice that national average and New York City has the highest income taxes in the country? If you said there would be an exodus, you would be correct. Many upstate communities have benefitted from this exodus, Kingston being one of them.
Town that Supports the Arts
Kingston has benefitted so much so that some are calling it the new Brooklyn. Artists and others have moved up to Kingston due to the town’s much lower real estate prices and cost of living. Also, there are people who make the long commute from the Kingston area.
Kingston promotes art and it has a very active art community. There are several galleries and a gallery hop takes place on the first Saturday night of each month. The Midtown Arts District is trying to promote art tourism to the area. The put on an O+ festival in which murals are created. This fall festival brings in art muralists from around the world.
Where the Murals Are Located
Many of the murals are in the uptown and midtown areas of Kingston. In the midtown area some can be seen on the sides of buildings along Broadway and on streets that run parallel to it or interest it. In the uptown area, otherwise known as the Stockade District., the murals can be seen on streets that run parallel to North Front Street and on ones that intersect it.
The Kingston area saw a marked decline after the closing of the IBM plant in the 1990s. It is now making a resurgence. A more creative vibe is appearing. It affects other areas such as the restaurant industry. NYC’s loss is Kingston’s gain.