Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
Take the Coney Island-bound Q subway line to Kings Highway, transfer to the B31 bus and eventually you will arrive in the small, isolated community of Gerritsen Beach. In the heart of this community exists the last volunteer fire department in the borough – one of nine left in the city.
The Fire Department of New York has been protecting the lives and property of city residents since 1865. But before the establishment of the country’s largest paid fire department, New Yorkers relied on volunteer fire companies to protect neighborhoods. Some hard-to-reach neighborhoods still maintain volunteer departments.
According to the latest statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, some 72 percent of firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers – or vollies, as they call themselves. The vollies of Gerritsen Beach display a strong sense of community that has safeguarded the neighborhood since the department’s opening in 1922.
Doreen Garson, the assistant fire chief of the Gerritsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department, has been a vollie for 24 years. For her, volunteering is about giving back to her community.
Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
Finding soul food that’s good for the heart can be a challenge. Z’Novia, a restaurant near Yankee Stadium, is aiming to put a more healthful spin on some traditional dishes.
The restaurant’s philosophy is in line with that of cooking schools like the Natural Gourmet Institute, which teaches students to use organic and whole grain ingredients. Z’Novia is striving to deliver the flavor and zest of soul food without all the calories and fat.
Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
George Washington slept at the Van Cortlandt House in the Bronx, and probably caught a few uneasy winks at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights, which served as his temporary headquarters during some of the darkest days of the Revolutionary War. There’s no indication, though, that he ever made it to the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House in Brooklyn, which was built in 1652 – 80 years before the father of our country was born.
The Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House rose in 1661 on Staten Island’s only road, Kings Highway. The yard near Queens’ Bowne House, an old Quaker meeting house, was the site of Flushing’s first sermon.
The five buildings have defied time, war and the elements to stand as testaments to the city’s history. Each is the oldest house in its borough – and the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House holds the extra distinction of being the oldest house in the state.
Take a trip through living history, via the slideshow to the right.