On the tony Upper West side, where Broadway makes a little westward swoop before running into West End Avenue and continuing in a dead straight line to the far northern reaches of Manhattan, lies a lush little triangle called Straus Park.
The onetime Schuyler Square was renamed in 1912 in honor of Isidor Straus and his wife Ida, who died together on the Titanic. There's more on the Strauses' story here. Isidor Straus was a department store magnate, an owner of Macy's and a founder of Abraham & Straus. It was to a Long Island branch of the now-discontinued A&S that my mother dragged my brother and me every year for new clothes.
The centerpiece of Straus Park is the Straus Memorial fountain with its figure of Mercury reclining in contemplation. The fountain was dedicated April 15, 1915, and the Friends of Straus Park are celebrating the centennial later this year.
Mercury does look pretty sad to me.
But springtime flowers and greenery make the park itself pretty cheery. And cheerily pretty.
The park runs from 106th Street (otherwise known as Duke Ellington Boulevard) to 107th Street. The Strauses lived at 2747 Broadway, near 105th Street, according to the Parks Department.
Creating all the iron fencing must have kept quite a few blacksmiths busy.
A visit to Straus Park is a good opportunity to give a blogger's nod to the Broadway Malls, carefully tended medians between the northbound and southbound lanes of the former Bloomingdale Road. The Malls extend for miles, from 60th to 122nd Streets and 135th to 168th Streets. They're not parks, and generally you can't walk into them, but people do love sitting on the benches at the intersections, right in the middle of Broadway.
Here's one with a sculpture rusted to the exact same hue as the signpost. Nature is often a good art director.
Finally, a look at the same spot seen from the east side of Broadway shows how the Malls erupt in explosions of green from the bare pavement.
There's much more about the Broadway Malls at the Broadway Mall Association website, including how you can "adopt a bench" – that is, hand over some cash and get your name on one. There are an awful lot of medians to maintain. The Association raised and spent over half a million dollars in 2013.