Be sure to check out my New Orleans solution. It’s the most complete and detailed solution for any secret puzzle, but there are still a few small details remaining I would love help resolving.
In the shadow
Of the grey giant
Find the arm that
Extends over the slender path
You’ll often hear a whirring sound
Although the sign
Speaks of Indies native
The natives still speak
Of him of Hard word in 3 Vols.
Take twice as many east steps as the hour
From the middle of one branch
Of the v
And see simple roots
In rhapsodic man’s soil
Or gaze north
Toward the isle of B.
The following is a detailed recounting of the clues, stories and history found for The Secret – A Treasure Hunt, the New York casque. The solutions presented here have been provided by myself, Scott Harrison. To simplify reading, important key words in the search are shown in bold. Enjoy!
Teaser and Abridged Overview
This webpage contains ‘almost’ all the information and history behind my solution. I’ve been told that it’s too complex or detailed. I’ve provide a lot of the research behind the discoveries so that people can dig in to the story Preiss is telling. The path itself actually isn’t that complex. It elegantly connects NYC history, personalities and landmarks into a while defined path.
But, if you are only interested in the end goal, the treasure, feel free to jump right to this description of a playground in Harlem on the NYC Parks & Recreation website, Alexander Hamilton Playground.
For those who need encouragement to read on, I created an abridged overview of the path and I included below a simple graphic summation of a key portion of the solution as an example of how Preiss weaves his story. I hope this will encourage everyone to consider all of the information provided.
I learned a lot about Preiss’s approach to these puzzles while working on the solution for New Orleans, and in many ways the New York search has been very similar. Preiss wants us to learn about a city by finding stories of people and places we never knew. To follow the path he’s created for us we can’t simply match shapes and imagery, we have to discover the tales and history he wants us to find. He gives us blatant clues to establish where we need to begin our search, and to move forward we have to find out how they connect.
Starting Clues: The Easy Stuff First
Step one is to confirm that we have connected the correct image and verse to the correct city.
One clue makes the association with the city obvious. There could be no more recognizable face associated with any city in the United States than that of the Statue of Liberty.
As pointed out by Travis Phillippi, the initials NY appear in her gown. The initials are prominent and in the center of the figure as in other cities.
There is no Indies native more well known in US history than Alexander Hamilton. And there is no place that Hamilton is more associated with than New York City.
Over a century before Hamilton, the play, hit Broadway, his name was remembered monuments, neighborhoods, parks, streets, bridges, forts, ships, etc. etc.
On its own, “rhapsodic” is a very weak connection given that it could refer to anyone that is emotional. But the goal of the puzzle has to be to find a particular person so we have to assume that is refers to something more specific.
George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” is a song deeply tied to New York’s musical history and recognized by landmarks in the city. In combination with the Indies native, it could be seen as confirmation of New York City.
The eagle is the next prominent clue, but here we run into a little difficulty. First of all, it’s important to note that this isn’t an eagle, it’s the head of an eagle on the body it go a seagull. The question is whether the eagle’s head represents a particular eagle in NYC and whether the seagulls body is suggesting that we are going to be following a path ‘as the bird flies’.
Eagles are everywhere in New York City, but there are two sets of eagles that hold particular importance and are treasured. The eagles that once adorned the facades of the original Pennsylvania Station and the original Grand Central Station have long been symbols of the importance of protecting the landmarks and history of the city.
Lastly, the shape of a suspension bridge in the forehead is pretty obvious, but given how many there are in New York City we’re going to need more information to figure out which it might be. What we know is that a suspension bridge will be somewhere in the search path.
When taken together, these clues leave no question that the image and verse are associated with New York City. We have to assume that the most recognizable reference, the Statue of Liberty, is the place we need to start. The clues we need to research are Alexander Hamilton, George Gershwin and his Rhapsody in Blue, a suspension bridge and the location of New York’s treasured eagle sculptures.
Follow the Eagles
The Penn Station eagles have long been a symbol for the lost of great treasures and embolden the city to never let it happen again. It was the lost of Penn Station that helped fuel the movement that saved Grand Central Terminal.
The closest set of eagles to the Statue of Liberty would be the eagles on top of the ferry building on Ellis Island. They don’t hold the same level of importance and the shape of the head very different from the eagle in the image.
*Note: Before anyone points to my use of Grand Central Station as a mistake. There were three buildings over the years. The first was Grand Central Depot, then Grand Central Station and the Grand Central Terminal we have today. The eagles were created for the Station. For clarity, I will refer to them as the “Grand Central eagles”.
The closest set of eagles and the most similar to the head in the painting would be the eagles on top of the ferry building on Ellis Island.
While it may be tempting to try to match the rectangle in the image with rectangular shape of the harbor, the proportions do not match.
The Bay Ridge eagles, which can be found today at the Bronx Zoo, are another set of eagles that once adorned the First Avenue overpass in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Although less famous, Preiss, being from Brooklyn, may have been aware of these as well.
Preiss seems to be telling us to find the eagle, but which eagle? The eagles on Ellis Island are the closest to the Statue of Liberty, but the most prominent is the eagle in Battery Park staring out at the statue. If we’re going to narrow the search we need more information.
Note: In the appendix section below I have provided a detailed graphic analysis of the eagle heads to determine if one set of eagles is a better head for the eagle head in the image.
If we’re looking for an eagle along the shoreline, it would be obvious to start with that is the central figure in the East Coast Memorial. It’s located in Battery Park where the ferries to Ellis Island board and it faces out towards the Statue of Liberty.
Dedicated in 1963, this memorial commemorates those soldiers, sailors, Marines, coast guardsmen, merchant mariners and airmen who met their deaths in the service of their country in the western waters of the Atlantic Ocean during World War II. The monument was commissioned by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In her daily newspaper column, Eleanor Roosevelt championed the need for west and east coast monuments during her visit to the US Merchant Marine Academy.
The bird’s hanging legs, the coloring and the shape of the wings tell us that this is a seagull with the head of an eagle. Which suggests we should be searching for an eagle which is somewhere along the shoreline.
There are a pair of Grand Central eagles at the Vanderbilt Mansion on the shore of Long Island and a pair of Penn Station Eagles at the US Merchant Marine Academy on the shore in Kings Point, Long Island. There was another Grand Central eagle in Kings Point in the 80’s but it is now over the west entrance of Grand Central.
Note: There is another pair of Grand Central eagles at Saint Basil Academy in Garrison, NY. The academy is the former estate of Jacob Ruppert, owner of the Yankees and builder of Yankee Stadium. That is a connection that might justify more study later.
Also supporting the idea that we are looking for something along the shoreline is the outline on the wing. The shape at the top resembles a ferry dock, and the lower section has the curved shape of a coastline.
*Note: In a Facebook group someone pointed out the resemblance of the arm on the right to the shape of Long Island. It isn’t very precise or useful idea, and at best is what I call a “kinda looks like” clue, which I don’t give much weight. But, it is consistent with the direction the puzzle so I included it here for fun.
United States Merchant Marine
Immediately after the Revolutionary War the brand-new United States of America was struggling to stay financially afloat. National income was desperately needed and a great deal of this income came from import tariffs.
Because of rampant smuggling, the need was immediate for strong enforcement of tariff laws, and on August 4, 1790, the United States Congress, urged on by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, created the Revenue-Marine, later renamed Revenue Cutter Service in 1862. It would be the responsibility of the new Revenue-Marine to enforce the tariff and all other maritime laws.
The biggest supporter of the merchant men was President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was he who in 1936 urged the United States Congress to pass the Merchant Marine Act, which established a 10-year program for building ships that would be used for commerce during peacetime and would be converted for use by the Navy during times of war or national emergency; and a training program for seamen that linked them to the military in wartime, specifically the Navy. It was this legislation that enabled the country to take on the Axis powers a few years later.
It was Eleanor Roosevelt that tirelessly lobbied to provide the same benefits that members of the Navy, Army and Coast Guard received to the Merchant Marines. She wrote repeatedly about this in her Myday newspaper column.
United States Coast Guard
Also in Battery Park, we can find a monument to the men and women of the the US Coast Guard who lost their lives in World War II.
The Revenue Cutter Service proposed by Hamilton was also the forerunner of the US Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard was organized by merging the Revenue Cutter Service and the US Life-Saving Service in 1915. The Coast Guard’s duties include navigational aid, search and rescue efforts and in 1941 was put under control of the Navy by President Franklin D. Roosevelt so that forces could be joined during times of war.
Above the Coast Guard motto Semper Paratus (meaning “Always Ready”), is a bronze seagull with its wings uplifted. I don’t think Preiss meant to this to be a reference but I think it’s cool.
US Merchant Marine Academy
The United State Merchant Marine Academy was dedicated in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who noted “the Academy serves the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army and Annapolis the Navy.” The academy is located in Kings Point, NY, on the shoreline of the Long Island Sound.
I’m sure you’re wondering where all this history might be leading, but the background is key to linking the relevant parts of the story. If you take a look at the US Merchant Marine and USMMA seals, the eagles might give you an idea where we’re going.
The US Merchant Marine began with Alexander Hamilton. Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Merchant Marine Academy on the shores of Long Island. The academy’s logo contains a proud eagle and flanking the entrance to the assembly hall we can find two of the Penn Station eagles.
An important thing to note in this verse is that “isle” is not capitalized, we are not looking for a name that includes “Isle”.
If you were to stand on the shores of the USMMA looking due north you would be looking at Hart Island, Bronx’s ‘isle of the dead‘. Also north is City Island, the only inhabited island of the Bronx.
The first public use of Hart Island was as a training ground for the US Colored Troops in 1864. A lesser known story about the island is that there were once plans to build an amusement park there specifically for African Americans, as they were often denied entrance to “Whites Only” attractions in New York. Solomon Riley, a black millionaire, bought part of the island and started building amenities, but public opinion eventually forced Riley to abandon the project.
Solomon Riley “amassed a vast amount of property in the then predominantly white areas of Harlem. Almost immediately upon purchase he began renting to other African Americans, something few other building owners would do.“
Riley and his white wife were forced to move from his Manhattan townhouse by hostile white neighbors, he rented the townhouse to black tenants. When his upset neighbors moved away, his wife, acting on his behalf, purchased their property and quickly rented to other blacks. Riley repeated this pattern again and again across Harlem. It’s perhaps due to his influence the cultural movement that followed is now known as ‘The Harlem Renaissance‘.” The importance of the Harlem Renaissance to the search will become clearer as we follow the path.
Note: As a stickler for detail, I should note a couple of problems with this solution. The Bronx is the one borough in NYC that actually contains the article “The” in its name. But, I should also note that Bronx County, no “The”, is coterminous with the borough. Also, the clue refers to an isle which suggests that if it’s a particular island then we might expect to see the outline of the island somewhere in the painting.
The Chrysler Building
If you were standing on the shoreline looking out at the Bronx isle and turned back towards the USMMA campus, you would be looking at the Wiley Hall.
Wiley Hall was formerly known as “Forker House”, the home of Walter Chrysler, founder of the Chrysler Corporation and builder of the Chrysler Building. His twelve-acre waterfront estate was purchased to create the academy.
The Chrysler Building, with it’s unusual light and dark grey brick and stainless steel ornamentation, was stylized to represent the automotive industry and is adorned with eagles gargoyles that were reminiscent of the Chrysler hood ornaments of the time.
Interesting fact: The Chrysler Building was the headquarters of the Chrysler Corporation from 1930 until the mid-1950s. Although the building was built and designed specifically for the car manufacturer, the corporation did not pay for the construction of it and never owned it. Walter P. Chrysler decided to pay for it himself, so that his children could inherit it.
The shadow of the Chrysler Building at 11:00am (the time on the clock in the image) in the middle of the summer (August 1) passes over the east wall of Grand Central Terminal.
If you’re a New Yorker, you should know exactly where Preiss is leading us. Like the whispering walls, it’s a little secret about Grand Central that New Yorkers love to share with visitors.
Grand Central Terminal
* Note: the image above is the opposite side of the terminal which has the same windows, but for the purpose of an overlay this was the best image I could find
Within the windows at each end of the terminal you will find slender walkways with floors made of pure, translucent quartz stone. Every now and then you can see someone walk by, or maybe creatures like in the art installation in the image on the left. Also, notice how the sections of the image match the overall appearance of the window. The waterline falls exactly at the bottom of the windows and top of the concourse.
It wasn’t until the mid-80s that the main hall of Grand Central was air-conditioned. Prior to that, the windows on each end of the terminal were opened via the walkways to allow air to circulate through the terminal.
In summer, when the windows were open and the wind was blowing, which is often in the city of skyscrapers, there was always a whirring sound as the wind circulated passed through the windows.
NOTICE: This is not just another arched window, the key is the odd double line in the painting which falls exactly where the walkway is located. There are arched windows everywhere in Manhattan, but it’s the line below the window to connects it to the verse.
Just below the arched frame in the image is an odd double line. It seems to have no purpose. But, if you overlay the arch on the windows not only does the center lines match the window mullion, the double line matches perfectly with the double line of the walkway.
And what’s the one thing that almost everyone knows about Grand Central, it’s the celestial mural that spans the ceiling over the main hall.
And at the far end of the main hall over the east wall windows, we find the extended arm of Aquarius, the Water-bearer.
I immediately think of High Bridge in northern Manhattan, originally called Aqueduct Bridge, which carried water to the city from upstate reservoirs. But there’s not enough to lead me there yet.
Note: A key thing to notice is that Preiss talks about something that extends over, not passes over, crosses over, or just over. The word extend suggests something is reaching over from one side, not crossing over such as a bridge.
Preiss was being exceptionally sneaky with this one. Are we to move east of the Amphitrite Pool or east from the figure of Aquarius in Grand Central?
A segmented line representing the weeks of the year runs through the Grand Central constellations, but if we follow it we would be heading west.
Except, it’s a little known fact that the constellations in Grand Central were painted backwards. If we move west in the terminal, away from Aquarius, we are heading east in the night sky of the mural.
The 22nd step from one branch of the “V” formed by the intersection of the month line with the equator line, falls exactly at the foot of Gemini (The Twins). The line “Or more” verifies that we are following the clue correctly. There are six more steps/weeks within Gemini before you reach Cancer.
Are we looking for actual twins, twin eagles or may be twin buildings? The Manhattan skyline is full of twins, many of which frame the western skyline of Central Park.
We can find graphic verification of the Gemini Constellation in the dots of the image. If you map the dark red dots in the left panel you can find the stars represented by lights in the Grand Central ceiling as well as other stars in the constellation.
It’s hard to know what clue Priess expected people to discover first. The grey giant is the most obvious of the clues given that the Chrysler Building was one of the tallest buildings in the city and recognized specifically for being grey. Someone starting at the Chrysler Building could find the Gemini constellation (“the twins”).
The twins reference could be a way to determine which set of eagles we are meant to find. The Grand Central eagles at the Vanderbilt Estate are very different from each other while the Penn Station eagles at the USMMA are twins. Preiss may have expected people to follow the puzzle in that direction.
Also at the USMMA we find another water-bearer. On the other side of Chrysler’s former mansion we find a formal garden. At the end of that garden is the Amphitrite Pool with a statue of a water-bearer in the center.
Her gown flows similar to the woman in the image, tied in the front and draping down to her knees.
Even Now, A Skyline of Twins This article talks about the twin towers in the city from the World Trade Center to the AOL Time Warner Center, which I coincidentally worked on under David Childs at SOM
One possibly is that it references to one sets of twins that are located due east of Grand Central which have somewhat familiar addresses, 860 and 870 United Nations Plaza.
Tucked away in the trees of the UN Sculpture garden, directly in front of the towers, you will find the Eleanor Roosevelt monument.
Note: This is probably the least specific of all the references I’ve presented and the proportions of these towers do not match the proportions of the rectangle. I’ve tried not to present anything that isn’t precise, but there are enough connecting elements to at least present it for consideration.
When considering twins in Manhattan it seems natural to consider whether it could be a reference to the World Trade Center. The rectangle just below the graphic of the Gemini ‘Twins’ constellation could possibly represent both towers.
When comparing the profiles of the towers, just using the dimensions of the towers does not match the rectangle. But, when you approximate the shape including the space between the towers it is much closer.
I don’t think it’s a solid reference because it doesn’t connect with anything else and is based only on a simple rectangular shape, but it’s interesting to consider.
Note: It’s hard to tie this image down to a particular reference. It could represent one of the twins, it could represent the Eleanor Roosevelt monument and could even be the Secretariat Building of the UN, each simple shapes, but neither the exact proportions. Looking for a rectangle is without a doubt a useless exercise, but there is a pair of rectangles, twins, that fit more precisely I’ll discuss those later. Just pointing to a rectangle happens to be near the path isn’t very convincing. For now, I still regard this clue as unresolved.
Note2: I have no idea is there is any connection, but it’s interesting to note that Gershwin wrote the initial version of Rhapsody in Blue on a train to Boston that left from Grand Central.
He wrote: It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang that is often so stimulating to a composer (I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise) that I suddenly heard—and even saw on paper—the complete construction of the Rhapsody from beginning to end. …I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America—of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness. By the time I reached Boston I had the definite plot of the piece.
Imagine you are someone who just arrived in the city at Grand Central. You need to go to Greenwich Village so you ask someone how to get there. They might say … Walk down 42nd to Bryant Park to find the Orange line, enter on the downtown side, take the F Train and get off at West 4th.
Key things to note are …
- where to find the train
- which line to take
- which direction
- which train
- and where to get off
Downtown in Battery Park we can find the Netherlands Monuments with lion on hind legs. Next to the figure in the image we can see a backwards 3, 1 and 2, with the 1 and 2 presented differently using dots. Next to the numbers it appears that MTA is written, likely referring to the Metropolitan Transit Authority that runs the subway system.
In the park near the ferries to the Statue of Liberty is the entrance to the 1 Train. So that gives us #1, where to find the train, and #2, which line to take. But the Red Subway Lines run to the north end of the city and also south into Brooklyn. The bison is the clue that tells us what direction we are headed.
There is a undeniable resemblance between the shapes in the waves and a bison/buffalo. And surprisingly there are two meaningful associations between NYC and bison.
Black Diamond, a bull bison once owned by the Barnum & Bailey Circus, was said to be the model for the relief we see on the nickel. Black Diamond lived in the Central Park Menagerie in the early 1900s which would overlap with the timeframe of Gershwin. Another interesting fact is that the home of James Bailey can be found in Hamilton Heights which could also give us another connection to that area.
The second association with bison can be found in the article “How The Bronx Saved America’s National Mammal, The Bison”. Once herds wild bison could be found across the country, but hunting completed wiped destroyed their population. There were no wild bison anywhere in the country, so in order to reestablish the animals in new herd was created on protected land and from that one herd there today half a million wild bison across the country. The 14 bison that were raised to start that initial herd came from the Bronx Zoo. By 1907 the Bronx herd outstripped the Zoo’s resources, so a few bulls and cows were transferred to Van Cortlandt Park.
If we look at both of these connections between the city and bison, Black Diamond is connected with the Central Park Zoo and possibly the James Bailey House, but neither of this is along the Red Line. The Bronx Zoo by contrast can be reached directly by the 2 Train, so that seems to be the right association to follow.
To get to the Bronx Zoo from the Battery you would take the 1 Train to the 2 Train running north in Manhattan through Harlem and crossing over into the Bronx near Yankee Stadium. That gives us #3, which direction, and #4, which train
If you draw a line through the center of the second oval, the line ends at 241 which we can find in the water and the right hand. In the right hand we can find the initials NYY referring to the New York Yankees, who are of course based in The Bronx. And the last stop on the 2 Train is 241 Street in The Bronx.
When we put it all together it’s telling us where to start (Battery Park), which line to take (1 2 3), which direction (Uptown towards The Bronx Zoo and Botanical Gardens), which trains to take (1 & 2). So the remaining question is … where to get off?
Notice that the circles that make up the Gemini Constellation are Red. That Red matches the color of the outline below or the grey square below. Could this be telling us that we should look at this figure as a set of twins, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center?
Does this suggest that we should get on the 1 Train at the WTC Cortlandt station in front of the World Trade Center? Where would that lead us?
The Roosevelts and the Academy
We’ve established that President Roosevelt was instrumental in the creation of the academy, but where do we go from the Amphitrite Pool. The answer can be found in the daily national news column of Eleanor Roosevelt, My Day. It’s interesting to note this diary entry she highlights the goal of erecting a monument to the fallen of the Merchant Marine. Roosevelt tirelessly lobbied for a monument to the service members that lost their lives in the Atlantic Ocean as we saw in the East Coast Memorial.
New York , Sunday—Saturday morning at 10 o’clock, Captain Giles G. Stedman called for me and we went to visit the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. This is a very unique spot, beautifully landscaped and with permanent buildings. The old Chrysler House has been painted to conform with the newer buildings. …
The first thing I did on arrival was to be conducted to the Amphitrite pool, where just before exams, the cadets toss in pennies. …
These pennies have an ultimate purpose as well as an immediate one. Some day they hope to erect a memorial to the members of the group who have died at sea during the war. Already 124 have died and some are missing, for the Merchant Marine is a dangerous service. There are some fine stories of heroism on which to begin building the traditions of the cadet midshipmen of the Merchant Marine Academy. …
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt
The United Nations
President Roosevelt considered his most important legacy the creation of the United Nations, making a permanent organization out of the wartime Alliance of the same name. He was the chief promoter of the United Nations idea and it was his highest postwar priority. It was Roosevelt that suggested using the name United Nations.
The US Secretariat Building was completed in 1952 on the eastern end of 42nd Street, not far from Grand Central. The building was designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier.
* But if I remember my architectural history correctly, Corbu refused to have his name associated with the design
After the death of FDR in 1945, President Harry Truman appointed Eleanor Roosevelt to be the first delegate from the United States to the United Nations. As head of the Human Rights Commission, she was instrumental in formulating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She continuously advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace and the civil rights. Some of the dedications in the book point to human rights being an important subject to Preiss. The image of her during the hearings with her hand at her mouth has become iconic.
“Although no one knew its imperfections first hand better than Eleanor Roosevelt did, she still thought the UN was humankind’s best hope of lasting peace.”
Can you see it? In the Amphitrite pool that Roosevelt talked about, we see a figure with a similar sash. Within the sash of the painting we can see the face and hand of Eleanor Roosevelt.
This pose has become so emblematic of Eleanor Roosevelt that it was used for a more recent sculpture of her in Riverside Park.
Note: before everyone pulls out their shovels, the solution is not in Riverside Park, this monument designed by Penelope Jencks was dedicated in 1996, but I included it as an example of the pose and as a teaser given that it caught my attention for a moment as well
This memorial to Eleanor Roosevelt was dedicated in 1966 and can be found on the northern end of the United Nations Sculpture Garden.
Note: The Roosevelt House was the Manhattan home of President Roosevelt and Eleanor. It was given to to Hunter College and is home to the Steinway Grand Piano used by George Gershwin. The piano was given to Roosevelt House in 1947 by Mrs. Rose Gershwin, the mother of George and Ira Gershwin. Hunter College was the temporary home of the United Nations during the construction of the UN Complex and where Eleanor worked to pass the Universal Declaration of Human Right. Eleanor also mentions Rhapsody in Blue in here “My Day” column August 14, 1951 and was present at Gershwin’s memorial concert. George Gershwin was also invited to dinner at the White House and performed for President Roosevelt and Eleanor on Dec. 29, 1934 at the New Year’s party.
This verse immediately leads us in the direction of George Gershwin and his composition “Rhapsody in Blue“.
The Gershwin family lived in many places in NYC so it’s difficult to say any particular place is his soil. He was born in Brooklyn but lived most of his life in Manhattan. While it’s possible this could be a clue to . Gershwin performed his first concert off of Tompkins Square (which contains a statue of Hebe carrying water) and at the time was living on 2nd Avenue.
The Gershwin family lived in many places in NYC. Most notable for our search, in 1919 they were living Harlem Heights at 520 W 144th Street and this is where George first started composing and gained his initial success. In 1925 they were living at 510 W 110th Street where George worked on Rhapsody in Blue.
Rhapsody in Blue was the first time jazz, considered to be black street music, was integrated with classical music and brought into the concert hall. The show in which it was debuted was actually entitled “An Experiment in Modern Music”.
“Gershwin’s tragedy was not that he failed to cross the tracks, but rather that he did, and once there, in his new habitat, was deprived of the chance to plunge his roots firmly into the new soil.”‘An Appreciation’ by Leonard Bernstein, in Charles Schwartz, Gershwin; His Life and Music (1973)
It’s possible that this quote from Bernstein is the source of the phrasing in the verse. Bernstein may have been choosing his words cleverly when he says ‘crossing the tracks’. He was ultimately referring to Gershwin’s step towards the jazz that was coming out of the cultural movement in Harlem. But, with his early death at age 38 “it must be noted that Gershwin is regarded today more as a composer of popular and “semi-classical” music than of jazz or blues.”
Another possible explanation for the use of “soil” can be found in George Gershwin’s own use of the word in a 1929 essay. Sadly, it’s such a broad use of the word that it doesn’t really help us find a particular “man’s soil”. Notably, he uses two metaphors in the essay, both of which could have relevance to the search, soil and skyscrapers. It should also be noted that Gershwin’s Second Rhapsody was originally entitled Rhapsody in Rivets, in which Gershwin “conceived of a rivet theme to echo … skyscrapers”.
“For American music means to me something very specific, something very tangible. It is something indigenous, something autochthonous, something deeply rooted in our soil. It is music which must express the feverish tempo of American life. It must express the unique life we lead here – a life of weary activity – and our gropings and vain ideals. It must be a voice of the masses, a voice expressing our masses and at the same time immortalizing their strivings. In our music we must be able to catch a glimpse of our skyscrapers, to feel that overwhelming burst of energy which is bottled in our life, to hear that chaos of noises which suffuses the air of our modern American city. This, I feel, must be in every American music.“Fifty Years of American Music, George Gershwin; American Hebrew
“The idea for the Rhapsody in Blue, for example, came to me quite suddenly. The vivid panorama of American life swept through my mind -its feverishness, its vulgarity, its welter of love, marriage, and divorce, and its basic solidity in the character of the people. All of the emotional reactions excited by contemplating the American scene, with all its mixtures of races, .. were stuffed into the first outline of the Rhapsody …“Making Music, George Gershwin; New York World Sunday Magazine
It would seem that a lot of people come to this site and look through all the pictures without reading all the details. There are a number of things that have been left out intentionally, but here’s one hint to a big one for those of you that have bothered to read. Answer this question, when and where did Rhapsody in Blue become famous? Hint, where it debuted is different from where is debuted to a large audience and to the wider public.
The Gershwins worked on most of their important Broadway shows while living and working at 33 Riverside Drive. His apartment was adjacent to Riverside Park, but I wouldn’t call that his “soil”.
If we walk north along the park we find the Hamilton Fountain on the very next corner with its sculpture of an eagle and family crest. This monument and drinking fountain for horses was given to the city by a descendant of Alexander Hamilton.
On the monument we can find a depiction of the Hamilton family crest. A shape similar to the lion at its center can be found in the splashing waves of the image.
Notice that the shapes surrounding the lion are not shown in the waves. Without these it IS NOT a good match for the Hamilton crest so it doesn’t seem like the fountain is a good reference.
*Note: In heraldry the lion symbolizes courage, nobility, royalty, strength, stateliness and valor, and its use can be seen in a number of different places in NYC. Notable uses in connection with locations and other clues in the puzzle are the Hamilton family crest, the crest on Hamilton Fountain, the Netherland Monument (which will be discussed below) and in different forms as the Columbia University sports logo at certain times in their history and as well as in some earlier university emblems, but never as the university seal.
If we continue walking in that direction we arrive at a street named after another rhapsodic man, Duke Ellington Blvd.
There is one last detail which I find interesting. If you want to understand the inspiration for Rhapsody in Blue simply take a look at the graphics used for album covers. The prominent theme is the city and skyscrapers, and in most cases we can specifically find the Statue of Library, Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.
With a reference to Alexander Hamilton we have to consider whether Preiss is leading us to the most significant landmark associated with Hamilton, his home, The Grange, off St. Nicholas Park in Hamilton Heights. While is seems like a natural first step, I have yet to find another clue that would verify the reference.
While the reference to the “rhapsodic man” could simply be a reference to Gershwin, there is another musician whose left a market on NYC who’s story is intimately tied to Rhapsody in Blue and is largely associated with a particular area in the city which could be said to be his “soil”. There are also some intriguing parallels between his work and some of the imagery we see in the painting.
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington is one of the greatest jazz composers, performers, and bandleaders in American history. His compositions, and the travels of his band, exposed the world to jazz and earned him the nickname, “The Ambassador of Jazz.” Ellington’s 1973 book Music Is My Mistress focused on George Gershwin and he had created multiple arrangements of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”. He also composed and recorded the songs Creole Rhapsody, Ebony Rhapsody and Hear a Rhapsody. For a decade he struggled with his answer to Gershwin, eventually composing the magnum opus, Black, Brown and Beige, which he premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1943.
Ellington arrived in New York just when jazz emerged as the dominant musical style of the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s inspired black artists to explore their African heritage and the black experience in America. He was a prolific composer, and while is likely more to be discovered hidden in the panels of the image, Ellington’s songs are likely the inspiration for the patterns and colors. His most celebrated work, Black, Brown and Beige, can be found in both the background of the clock and the face of the Statue of Liberty.
- Tulip or Turnip
- Deep Purple or Magenta Haze
- Blue Bubbles
- Deep Blues
- Rooftop/3 Sacred Concerts
- Black Brown and Beige (Ellington’s response to Rhapsody in Blue)
In the Tulips and Turnips image we can see a greenish background with veins that could represent leaves.
*Note: I admit, it’s a stretch to think that the rooftops are symbolic of Ellington’s 3 Sacred Concerts given that the outlines do not match any of the churches where the concerts were performed. I have yet to make a prediction as to what these represent and the song a fun thing to consider. The exact meaning of the outlines is still a mystery for which I have yet to hear any good answer. And if you tell me it’s a Russian church, no offence, but I will honestly just laugh. See the discussion of the outline below.
When considering whether there is a musical theme to the painting it’s one might wonder whether the scene was inspired by an Irving Berlin song, How Deep Is The Ocean(How High Is The Sky). It should be noted that Gershwin said is goal for Rhapsody in Blue was to create an American music. He also noted that the first to create music inspired by the American experience was Irving Berlin. Berlin was also born in Imperial Russia.
Note: I’ve been asked why Preiss may have chosen Harlem and the Renaissance as a theme. While arguably the most significant cultural movement in the city’s history, it is not the most celebrated. That might be part of the reason he chose it, but something else map have provided inspiration. In 1981, The New Yorker ran a series of five articles by Jervis Anderson telling the complete story of Harlem, the renaissance movement, it’s music, art and impact on the city.
The 3 Sacred Concerts
In the last decade of his life, Ellington wrote three Sacred Concerts, which he called “the most important thing I have ever done”. The critic Gary Giddins characterized these concerts as Ellington bringing the Cotton Club revue to the church.
The third Sacred Concert was performed as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the United Nations in London in 1973. Ellington was already in the advanced stages of cancer, but was determined to accept and complete the commission. Given the condition of his health and his awareness of the reverberant acoustics of Westminster Abbey, most of the music this time is unusually slow, and richly meditative. Ellington played a special version of United Brotherhood with a chorus singing “the United Nations brotherhood” and dedicated it to the UN.
The concert and song dedication is the connection in Preiss’ story between the United Nations and Duke Ellington in the Harlem Renaissance.
One last wonderful detail to close out this connection: when Ellington debuted Black Brown and Beige, a composition in three movements each representing a period in black history, at Carnegie Hall in 1943, who do you think was in the audience? Eleanor Roosevelt.
Rhapsodic Man’s Soil
While both Gershwin and Ellington link to Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin has lived all over the city while Ellington is of course known for his connection to Harlem and the surrounding areas. But, Gershwin also lived in that area when he was working on the piece. While I think it’s a stretch to call it Gershwin’s soil, it’s not a stretch at all to say that about Ellington.
Sometimes you have to take things literally. Looking down on the rhapsodic man’s soil could simply be directing us to look down at a map of the city and the area Gershwin lived and where Ellington, leader in the Harlem Renaissance, is most associated with; Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, Sugar Hill and Harlem.
Note: An interesting fact that I haven’t connected to the search is that the Roosevelt family descends from Jacobus “James” Roosevelt, an banker and politician who lived in Harlem during the height of his success and eventually built a new home for his family in Hyde Park.
When we analyze the layout of the image it might be helpful to see if there is any relationship between the elements in the painting.
The gown changes color towards the bottom which shows us that we should look at the areas separately. The vertical lines in the frame are not quite vertical and subdivide the hidden clues in the gown in a very particular way.
The upper part of the figure is meant to position us in a certain area of the city, but is not a precise overlay. Once we see the upper part of the figure in the map of the city, we know whether to look for a precise match with the lower part of the gown and the jewel below it.
Note: The right vertical directly aligns with the 3rd maker below. That would seem to imply a connection between that marker and one of the panels, but it could also simply be the result of the layout pattern the artist used.
The first thing we can find is a bridge in the face of Liberty. The George Washington Bridge is at the top of the area which would be the “rhapsodic man’s soil”. The bridge was dedicated in 1931 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, governor of the State of New York.
The George Washington Bridge has for decades been known as the busiest motor vehicle bridge in the world. In 2016 it carried 103 million cars.
This clue seems to stand alone, as if we can resolve the reference using just these two words. As with other clues, we have to take this clue in the context of the city. There are very few places in NYC where you can get away from cars. The place that this clue refers to would have to be over and above the everyday traffic we see on even the busiest streets of the city.
Key to positioning ourselves in the city are clues that can be found in each hand. Hidden in the petals of the hand on the left we can find the letters GWB, the acronym that New Yorker’s commonly use to refer to the George Washington Bridge. The unusually long and straight stem is a reference to the straight span of the bridge over the Hudson River.
In the unusual positioning of the fingers of the hand on the right, we find the letters NYY representing the New York Yankees. hand extends out over the Bronx in the area of Yankee Station, the opposite side of the borough from City Island. In the unusual position of the fingers we find the letters NYY representing the New York Yankees.
The first thing to notice is that the sleeve on left side of the gown matches the shoreline of the Hudson River at the George Washington Bridge and the flower, with its unusually straight stem, falls directly on the George Washington Bridge.
The belt represents I95 which leads to the Alexander Hamilton Bridge and the sash traces the streets below. It’s also interesting that the sash covers I95 where the highway runs underneath the bus station.
Important Note: The lower right corner of the outline falls directly on the home of Duke Ellington.
This is nearly impossible to read at the moment (and admittedly in low-resolution the 3rd letter looks like an ‘N’ at first glance), but I hope that when we have a better image of this area we will be able to find Ellington’s first name, “DUKE”, written directly adjacent to where his home is on the map.
To be clear, I have continually said that I hate the idea of trying to interpret smudges. I wasn’t looking for this at all. When tracing the outlines of the shape and aligning it with the city, it was strange that the bottom line did not align with the streets. I realized that corner might land directly on Duke Ellington’s home and when zooming in to check that I noticed the hidden letters.
Update: I’m adding this note to say that it’s not as clear what this area says if anything at all. Newer images make me question the clue and lean towards the belief that what I’m seeing is just a coincidence. I’ll leave this up for the moment and update this note if any new information becomes available.
Where the sash covers the belt, I95 runs underneath the GWB Bus Terminal in which Greyhound operates buses to New Jersey and upstate. Just to the left we can find part of the Greyhound logo. Although it’s not the full logo, it’s exactly the right place to be a clear reference and shows the distinctive position of the paws.
A recurring question is why Preiss chose to use “grey” spelled with an ‘e’ versus the more common “gray”. One reason might be that when grey is used in the US it is most in connection to colors, while gray with an ‘a’ can refer to feelings and expressions. But, wouldn’t it be move likely that grey with an ‘e’ was used as another way to lead to the Greyhound Station reference?
North and East of the GWB Bus Terminal we can find The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art focused on medieval art. In the museum are a number of paints and tapestries with dragon/serpent image and we can find what seems to be a serpent in the correct location in the image.
As I95 crosses the Harlem River heading east it runs just north of the High Bridge Aqueduct, the oldest bridge to Manhattan. The distinctive water tower at the end of the bridge can be see in the sleeve on the arm on the right.
Note: There is an additional piece of information that is most likely just a coincidence, but I’ll mention it as something of interest. A few blocks north of the highway above the High Bridge Tower you can find P.S. 143 Eleanor Roosevelt J.H.S..
As I95 crosses the Hudson River heading west it cross over Fort Washington Park. We can see what appears to be the figure of a person and I believe that we will find that person is holding a tennis racket. That figure directly aligns with the tennis center in the park.
There is one more that I initially didn’t at because the curves are not perfectly precise. But, given that all of these references are representative shapes, I think it’s fair to say that the waves in the hair and the unusual straight left boundary adequately represent the ramps in the are of the Alexander Hamilton and Washington Bridges. Most importantly, it falls in the painting just inside the location of the Highbridge Tower, exactly where it is in the city.
Admittedly these are clues are similar but not exact. But, when taken together they all fall in the right order, at the right locations and are precise enough to be unquestionably meaningful.
The upper part of the gown positions our view looking down at the city. We can now find the lower part by lining up the curve at the lower left of the gown with the curve of Riverside Drive and the angle of the other side of the gown with Macomb Place (which leads directly to Yankee Stadium). When we do that, all the markers below the gown fall on area playgrounds. The jewel falling on a very particular playground, one named after Alexander Hamilton.
*Hint: Can you find the detail that leads to the next step? I’m not going to publicly post it yet but it’s there for anyone to find.
One last detail about something that appears hidden in the upper in the arm. The dark area alone has a shape similar to a hammer, pick or similar tool. But if you include the odd shadow under the arm, the shape is similar to an elaborate ‘V’.
No, no, no, it would not make any sense for this to be a link to the verse. Logically it should be something in that area but given it’s size it also might be some over-arching clues. At this point all I can do is guess, but I don’t includes guesses.
Harlem Playgrounds and The Sign
The markers below the gown fall directly on four playgrounds; the Ten Mile Playground (which is part of Riverside Park and directly across from 730 Riverside Drive), the Renaissance Playground (which is part of Countee Cullen School and named for the Harlem Renaissance ), the Frederick Johnson Playground and the Alexander Hamilton Playground.
*Note: Ten Mile Playground is across the street from the Beaumont, home of Marian Anderson and Ralph Waldo Ellison. I have yet to find an additional connection to link this to the puzzle but will continue to look. Anderson’s concert in front of the Lincoln Monument “brought national attention to the country’s color barrier as no other event had previously done”. It was Eleanor Roosevelt who worked to made that concert happen when Anderson was not allowed to sing to an interracial audience at Constitutional Hall. Anderson also served as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
The map places the jewel directly over Alexander Hamilton Playground and at the entry of that playground we can find a sign which tells us about Hamilton and specifically mentions him as an Indies native.
On that same sign it says “A lesser-known aspect of Hamilton’s influence on our developing nation was his innovative proposals to create the Revenue Marine, which is now the United States Coast Guard. “
The Renaissance Playground is the playground of PS 194 Countee Cullen, the Harlem school named after Cullen. The marker is the largest of the three matching the size of the Jewel. Given the reference to Cullen, it would seem like he would be the connection with “him of Hard”. He is still regarded as one of Harlem greatest writers and his worked are important to the community, but I can’t find anything that would resolve the “Hard” reference or a work in 3 volumes.
It was Langston Hughes who took the jazz of Ellington and others in the Harlem Renaissance and put it to word with his Jazz Poetry. “Hughes is particularly known for his insightful portrayals of black life in America”. In The Collected Works of Langston Hughes the first 3 volumes contain his poetry, colloquially ‘his word’. A number of his most well known poems contains the word Hard in their titles, such as ‘Hard Life’. His poem ‘Hard Daddy‘ was inspired a series of “Daddy” poems by other poets. Hughes is still regarded as the foremost writer and poet to come out of Harlem. His works are still referenced when speaking of the hard path of being black in America. His name has also been immortalized in the song La Vie Boheme from the musical Rent.
“Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Hughes’s work as a poet and playwright received much praise in literary circles. His art mixed blues and jazz with traditional forms, giving him a unique style. Many in the African American community did not like his focus on the hard life of common blacks. Hughes, however, saw beauty in these struggles, and he tried to capture the entire black experience in his writing, not just part of it. Despite these criticisms, Hughes’s writings influenced many, and he soon became known as the “Poet Laureate of Harlem.”
Note: “3 Vols.” written with a number and capital ‘V’ is oddly specific suggesting the work might contain this in its title or description, Hughes collected works uses “Volume 3” which means that this at best a good guess. I should also note that Marcus Garvey‘s biography and memories comprised 3 volumes and he also has a strong association with this area, but I can find no connect to “Hard”.
The following are a few links with more information on the Langston Hughes and his relationship with Duke Ellington.
Note: While I am very vocal about focusing on the problems in the puzzle itself and not outside “cheat” information, if a hint can be shown to come directly from Preiss without any interpretation or translation problem, it’s something I have to consider. While I choose to ignore all the noise about Japanese clues, what his daughters have to say, etc., I can’t ignore the comment he make about “him of Hard”.
Preiss was reported to say that you could find him but playing a word game and starting with “chicken”. Of course, we have no idea what kind of word game so the clue it not specific enough to start with, but it could serve as validation for a solution.
Thoughts on “him of Hard”
Who “him of Hard” represents is arguably the most difficult question in the NY verse and I’ve yet to see a person presented who solves every aspect of the riddle. But there may be something in the structure of the verse that could help get us closer to an answer.
There are four elements that define the riddle, a place (represented by the sign), the people associated with that place, the person associated with the sign who is an Indies native, and a person associated with something entitled “Hard” (him of Hard). The structure of the verse sets up a comparison between the “Indies native” and “him of Hard”. The “sign” speaking the “Indies native” and “natives” speaking of “him of Hard”, explicitly linking both to the place. But the verse also seems to set up an implicit association between the two people.
As an example, consider this statement … although there is a sign over there about Joe, the people here talk more about David. The question you have to ask is why Joe to David are being compared. Is it simply because Joe has a sign and David doesn’t? Or, is there something common about them or shared by them that makes the comparison more meaningful?
Think about the difference between these two statements:
There’s another important word that we can’t ignore, “still”. That tells us that while both people are still associated with this place, the people there still speak of “him of Hard” but not necessarily “the Indies native”.
Consider a sign in Brooklyn that talks about the NY Giants(baseball), but says that people how follow the Yankees. The reason this comparison makes sense is not only that both or associated with NYC, but both are baseball teams
The question we should ask is whether the verse suggests a common association only with that particular place, or does it suggest that there is something else common about these two people?
Considering Alexander Hamilton Playground
Today the Hamilton Playground is almost entirely covered with asphalt and other surfaces. The only exception is a rectangular area around the flagpole which has been changed from its initial location in the 1990s.
There are a number of very import details in the clock which provide us with the next series of steps. The oval in the center suggests we should look at this as a perspective view with the minute hand representing some type of pole which would be topped by something round. The hour hand would then show us the location of the treasure.
The grey band that runs along the right side seems like an accident, but it could be a reference to the concrete retaining walls that border the sides of the park.
*Note: the green-ish outline of the grey band in the image doesn’t go all the way to the top of the clock, leaving a small section at the top of the highlights rectangular area, this is likely important to matching the space within the park, it’s also possible that the line with it’s cropped top represents the concrete wall in the playground
There are a couple of minute but important details that confirm the hands of the clock should be seen as a perspective. The oval base is shaded on one side suggesting a raised circular base. Also, you can see that the shadow is slightly offset which would be the case of a raised base as seem in this rendered example.
I should note that there is a mast in another of the book’s drawings that oddly doesn’t go all the way to the top of the sail and has a base. This is very strange for a boat while looking amazingly similar to the pole that the clock hands seem to represent.
Retaining walls run around the both 140th and 141st sides of the park. We should be looking for areas bordered by a wall and a pole.
Sadly, all the open areas along the walls are today either paved or covered by a rubber safety coating underneath children’s play equipment.
In this aerial from 1980 we can see two rectangular areas along 141 Street and there may be another one that is hard to see in the aerial. The pole in the park have included over the years a flag pole, tether ball poles, light poles, basket ball goal poles, etc..
Sadly, as this 2012 aerial shows, the park was entirely repaved in 1995 and very little of the park remains uncovered today. Today the rectangular areas are covered by walkways, benches and children’s play areas.
Quoted from the park’s website: “In August 1995, the playground was redesigned with updated play equipment, safety surfacing, new flowerbeds, and a climbing sculpture in the shape of an elephant.”
While the playground fits some elements of the puzzle, it doesn’t appear to be the end of the search. It’s more likely its value is in helping to align the ovals for the next step in the search.
George Washington Bridge
One of the first clues I followed was the meaning of the bird with an eagle’s head on a seagull’s body. I naturally started with the Penn Station eagles which are the most famous and hold special meaning for New Yorkers. At first, I suspected it was suggesting that we find the eagles along the seashore, but when I decided to look at all the Penn Station eagles on Long Island a series of connections started to unfold.
It makes since that Preiss, dealing with maps at the time, might draw lines to link elements in the puzzle ‘as the bird flies’, but I have to admit I’m still surprised at just how accurate this is.
Independently I was led to the USMMA through Hamilton, the East Coast Monument, the bird and the isle of ‘B’. I was also led to the area around the GWB by Hamilton and the rhapsodic man. When I realized that a line drawn from the Penn Station eagle in Hicksville to the GWB passes directly through the USMMA within a hundred feet of the Penn Station eagles on the campus, I knew this couldn’t simply be an accident. The fact that the campus was the home of Walter Chrysler who built the Chrysler building, at once the tallest building in the world and specifically known for its custom grey brick, and that if you stand on the shoreline in front of his home and look north, you will be looking at The Bronx’s isle of the dead, bring too many elements together in a precise and unique way to be a coincidence.
With digital maps we of course can zoom in closer and get more precise than Preiss could with a paper map. Which makes it amazing that the bridge, the USMMA eagles and the eagle in Hicksville are almost perfectly aligned. If the line were drawn on a maps with a pencil, they would be off by less than the width of the line.
Important: I generally don’t like to include anything that doesn’t have multiple connecting references and I try not to let graphic ideas drive the direction, but in order to possibly spur new ideas I created a page to share some interesting details that I have been considering.
Analyzing the Towers
Liberty is looking at the outline of the towers seeming to imply that they are referencing something that can be seen. But, understanding and finding a match for these outlines has been extremely difficult.
People have been looking everywhere for a single building that matches the outline and proposing solutions that don’t even come close. To try to get closer to an answer, I thought I would include an architect’s view of the outlines. These are not all Russian Orthodox Church steeples, they are not the towers on Ellis Island, in fact, they don’t even appear to be the same style of architecture. The one thing that I can say for sure is that they are not all part of the same building.
The first thing I should note is that the subtle elements of the outlines and the preciseness of the perspectives make it pretty clear that these were created from a photo or photos. The appearance of the gaps in the central tower, given the style would be a supporting colonnade. Also, the more recent images we have seen of the painting only show the empty grey panel. Why is this? Was it added as a cutout of an image and since removed? It was a bit early for photo editing but certainly possible that Preiss only added the overlay during printing.
On the left is likely Victorian/Queen Anne, the middle is an overhanging rounded roof with a supporting colonnade, Russian/German/Islamic and on the right is a Renaissance/Romanesque tower or steeple. To help people understand how to analyze the outlines like I would as an architect, I’ve included this section.
1) compare overhangs
2) look for entablatures that extend out
3) does it have a cupola or ornamental top? (a Russian Orthodox would not, it would flow into a cross or an orb with a cross on top)
4) does the shape of the roof have two slopes, curving up and down?
5) does the shape of the roof slope in a single direction?
6) is it made up of multiple sections (tower, roof, cupola, crown)?
Below I show examples of architectural styles that match each of the outlines. Circled in red are the elements of common references people continue to site but do not match the styles shown in the outline. In particular I show St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church and a tower on Ellis Island. St. Nicholas has a similar look to the center outline but is not a match. The towers on Ellis Island and so far away from matching any of these I don’t think I even need to explain the differences.
While it’s possible that they could be seen together from a single location, it’s more likely that the three towers are separate structures that define an area. Why Preiss chose to use the motif might be best explained as a reference to the Duke Ellington song Rooftop or as a reference to the 3 Sacred Concerts.
Analyzing the Eagles
An important part of the painting in the figure of the bird. The body is easily recognizable as a seagull and the head an eagle. The question then becomes which eagle.
While Preiss could be referring to any of the hundreds of eagle sculptures and reliefs that can be found across the city, it seems natural that he might refer to one of the famous sets of eagles that hold special importance to the city. I wanted to compare the shapes of the head and beak, the position of the eyes and brow, and proportions to see which might be a better visual match.
Note, while the Ellis Island eagles are not particularly famous or import to NYC by themselves, they are the closest to the Statue of Liberty and the open beat bears a resemblance to the painting so I included them with the eagles from Grand Central and Penn Station.
I included this here for everyone to make their own judgement. In the solution above the Penn Station eagles are very important. But personally, if I were to pick the eagles that most resemble the painting it would be the Grand Central eagles. What makes that more difficult is the Grand Central eagles are not all the same.
Another Path to Harlem?
I do not believe that this is meaningful at all so I”ve placed it at the end. It’s at best a weak reference that I can’t give a huge amount of weight and inaccurate graphics, but I’m documenting it as something that was considered.
The appearance of the lion crest image on the Netherland Monument could be the beginning of another path to Harlem, but could also just be a coincidence. The artist, H.A.van den Eijnde, is from Haarlem in the Netherlands. Harlem was originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, and was named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands. Given that it is home of the artist and not the subject of the monument I have given less weight as a clue, but there is another connection that makes it interesting.
The event depicted on the south-west façade of the monument is the purchase of the land of Manhattan from the Lenape by General Peter Minuit. Folklore suggests that this meeting between Minuit and the Lenape took place at the northern tip on Manhattan, in what today is Inwood Hill Park. The Shorakkopoch Rock was place on the site of the tulip tree where the meeting was said to have happened.
Is it just coincidence that we have two elements that lead to the northern end of Manhattan? Is this another way for us to “look down” at that end of the island and find the maps? In the center of the 3rd panel is an unusual white dot in one of the circles. The hour hand of the clock points directing
If we include the location of this white dot in the overlay of the sash, it comes close to the location of the Shorakkopoch Rock. We have no idea what type of map was used to create the paintings but there is absolutely going to be some inaccuracy in our attempts to recreate them. Is this close enough to include as a clue? Honestly, I have to say no, but I’m presenting it as a point of interest.
I have to admit upfront that this is complete conjecture and the inaccuracy of anything at this scale makes it hard to even consider. But, I thought I would include this as a thought experiment to possible inspire someone else to find a way to interpret the ovals.
The angle of the oval markers has always been a subject of interest. I’ve shown that within the image they seem to point to hidden clues, but there is another interesting detail that I would like to note. First, I have to acknowledge that this is at best an interesting and I’ve yet to find secondary references to verify a couple of the endpoints.
If you draw lines through each oval when the bottom of the gown in lined up with the streets of the city, the lines fall very close and in some cases directly on important landmarks, the site of Hamilton’s duel, Gershwin’s home, City Island, the GW Bridge and Station 241. Admittedly, it is difficult to achieve a perfect accuracy when bisectly the ovals and aligning the image with the city, but I was shocked to see how close the lines comes. One thing to note, is that the lines running east comes very close to the tip of City Island and further away from Hart Island.
Lastly, if we follow the middle oval, the one that was shown to connect 241 in the waves with the right hand representing The Bronx, we can see that the line amazing points directly to the Wakefield, 241 Street Station of the 2 Train in The Bronx.
I absolutely hate looking for hidden letters but I’m going to call the shape in the dress a “W” for simplicity. Given the other clues it should refer to something on the eastern side along I95 between the center of the island and the High Bridge Tower. There is another cool coincidence that links that area of the dress to another important location, but it’s inconsistent with the other clues so I’m going to keep this in the unknown category for the moment.
The Harlem Renaissance High School is PS 24, but I would need a second, more specific reference and a meaningful connection to the path before I can say that it is in any way connected. I’m only noting it now because it does touch on a main theme of the puzzle.
In the upper-left panel where we find the stars of the constellation Gemini in red, there are two more set of colored circles that seem to stand out. One set are the seven light purple circles which are distributed in a way that makes me wonder if they might have meaning. The other set is made of up the bright orange circles. These certainly could be meaningless but it would be strange to have such a details element in the drawing that doesn’t have multiple points of reference.
The Russian Connection
I’ve heard repeatedly that each puzzle includes some theme which touches on the immigration of a particular culture. First of all, immigration is a process which doesn’t talk about people or culture. I do believe that the origin of the fairy people has at least some connection to the city where their jewel is found, I haven’t found that it had a meaningful impact on the path of the search.
That said, there are a couple of interesting that have Russian connections. In should be noted that clues in the puzzle have led to upper Manhattan, in particular Harlem, Washington and Hamilton Heights. During the 1917 Russian Revolution the “First Wave” of Russians made their way to New York City, most of them moving to Hamilton Heights, Manhattan. It was the large community of Jewish immigrants in the country and was the largest Russian community for most of the last century.
Fun speculation: I did notice one interesting detail which is at very best a crazy coincidence. Simply put, Liberty is looking in the direction of the outlines in the image. If we draw a line from the center of the fountain on Liberty Island through the point of the star below Liberty in the direction the statue is facing, that line comes remarkably close to the center of Brighton Beach, currently the largest Russian community in the city. While fascinating, it has to be completely coincidental, but a fun thing to note.
Lastly, the only reason that I’ve given this even a moment of consideration is that the rectangular harbor in Brighton Beach is one of the few things that seem to match the exact proportions of the rectangle in the image. Yes, I know, trying to match rectangles in a metropolis is probably the dumbest thing to do but the alignment makes it something to consider.
The American Merchant Mariners Memorial, by sculptor Marisol Escobar, can be found on a pier off Battery Park looking out at the Statue of Liberty, but it was dedicated on October 8th, 1991. It was conceived in 1976, but I can find no evidence that Palencar knew Escobar or knew of this project.
In Riverside Park, steps away from the homes of Ira and George Gershwin, not far from the Hamilton Monument, we find this statue of Eleanor Roosevelt. The statue, designed by Penelope Jencks, depicts Roosevelt in the same pose found in the sash of the gown, but it wasn’t dedicated until October 5, 1996.
Notice of Omission
I have endeavored to present as much of the information I discovered as possible, but there are a few references I intentionally left out. They are clear and specific, but hard to find. Omitting them from the public web page creates a bit of a gap, but gives me a way to verify that this is my solution.
Also, I’ve heard that there could be a baseball thread that might pop it’s head up in other puzzles, but discarded it as conjecture. There’s no guarantee that the puzzles contain such links simply because others have, so I tend to let the clues lead where they lead. Well, I was completely surprised to find two really fascinating baseball connections beyond the NYY in the hand. In one of the section above, I admittedly distorted the information a bit so that it isn’t easy to find. I challenge everyone to figure out where the ‘intentional’ mistake is, and when corrected, what it points to. To give you a hint, it isn’t as simple as finding a home plate in the image, you have to learn something about the history of baseball in NY.
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