The Secret: A Treasure Hunt New York

In the shadow
Of the grey giant
Find the arm that
Extends over the slender path
In summer
You’ll often hear a whirring sound
Cars abound
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
Or more
From the middle of one branch
Of the v
Look down
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 links in the search are shown in bold. Enjoy!

Abridged Overview

This webpage contains ‘almost’ all the information and history behind my solution. I’ve heard that it’s too much or too complicated. In fact, it elegantly links elements of NY history, personalities and landmarks into a cohesive story. But if you want to jump right to the end then I suggest you read this description of a playground in Harlem on the NYC Parks & Recreation website, Alexander Hamilton Playground.

I wanted to provide as much information in one place as I could. For those who need encouragement to read on, I created an abridged overview of the path and a simple graphic summation of one portion of the solution below. I hope this will encourage everyone to consider all of the information provided.

The Themes

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, but those can be rabbit holes.

Note: Preiss’ puzzle takes us in three separate directions before reconnecting. I added a few “Where Are We Now” sections to help summarize key points of the search. Preiss wanted us to discover and learn on this journey, but I’ve simplified this first presentation as much as possible. More detail will follow as well as more of the relevant history.

New York

There could be no more recognizable face associated with a particular city in the United States than that of the Statue of Liberty.

There is no Indies native more famous in American history and more associated with New York City than Alexander Hamilton.

These two clues together leave no question that Preiss wants us to begin our search in New York City.

Find the Eagles

Eagles are everywhere in New York, but three particular sets of eagles have long captured the interest of New Yorkers who want to preserve our treasured past. The eagles that once adorned the facades of the original Pennsylvania Station and the original Grand Central Terminal symbolize the importance of protecting the landmarks and history of the city we love.

In particular, the Penn Station eagles remind us of the lost of a great treasure and embolden us to never let it happen again.

Another set of eagles which can be found today at the Bronx Zoo, 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 there’s also an eagle in Battery Park staring out at the statue. If we’re going to narrow the search we need more information.

While trying to find patterns in the wings, shapes in the tail and meaning in the position of the legs, it’s easy to miss the obvious …

this isn’t an eagle, it’s a seagull

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.

That suggests we should be searching for an eagle which is somewhere along the shoreline.

There are a pair Grand Central eagles at the Vanderbilt Mansion on the shore of Long Island, 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 Grand Central west entrance.

*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 a great match and it could just be a coincidence, but it’s consistent with the direction the puzzle so I included it just for fun.

Battery Park – East Coast Memorial

If we’re looking for an eagle along the shoreline, it would be obvious to look at the eagle in the East Coast Memorial that stares out at the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park.

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 writings, Eleanor Roosevelt had championed the need for west and east coast monuments.

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.

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

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 USMMA logo, the eagle 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. We’re being led on a path that includes multiple locations and this verse serves to verify that we have found a key location in the puzzle.

And if you were to stand on the shores of the academy looking north you would be looking at City Island. The only inhabited island of the Bronx.

The Chrysler Building

If you were standing on the shoreline looking out at the isle of the Bronx and turned back towards the campus, you would be looking at the USMMA’s 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, headquarters of the Chrysler Corporation, with it’s grey brick, grey stone and stainless steel, was stylized to represent the automotive industry and is adorned with eagles.

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

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.

* 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

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.

With the windows open there was a whirring sound from the wind circulating through the building and only in the summer when the windows were open you could hear the sounds of cars in the city. It’s important to note that you could pick any spot in Manhattan and say that cars abound. “In summer” is the qualifier which suggests that cars can be heard then but not other times of the year. That makes the verse very specific to this location.

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.

The Water-bearer

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.

If we jump back to the academy (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.

Where Are We Now

I know that this can be a bit hard to follow. Preiss is actually taking us in three different directions and is expecting at some point for us to discover the connections that bring these stories together. For clarity (and so that I don’t give away too much too early), I’ve started with the first two tracks of the search and saved the final as we more closer to the casque location.

At this point we find ourselves in two places, Grand Central Terminal in NYC and the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. As you’ve seen, Preiss was a tricky bastard, creating clues that relate to each other across the two completely different locations.

The question at this point is, what do Grand Central Terminal and the US Merchant Marine Academy have in common? The answer is President Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt.

FDR and Grand Central

A secret for many years, but now well known, is that Grand Central has a secret track, Track 61. I assume the number 61 can be found somewhere in the image but have yet to find it.

On his trips to his home in Hyde Park, NY, Roosevelt would enter and exit via a secret elevator to a secret track in order to hide his worsening case of polio. Track 61 has hidden the comings and goings of a number of Presidents over the years.

FDR’s armored train car still sits beneath the station to this day.

One small clue might be the 3 and 2 hidden in the splash of the wave. Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States. Better images makes me believe this is most likely 21, but could possibly be 213. I have to go back at some point and figure this out.

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 diary of Eleanor Roosevelt. 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 right of African Americans. 

“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.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

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 the 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 a teaser given that it took me off the trail 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.

The Twins

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 are actually 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 the “V” formed by the intersection with the equator line, is at the foot of Gemini (The Twins). The line “Or more” verifies that we are following the clue correctly. You can take five more steps within Gemini before you reach Cancer.

The Manhattan skyline is full of twins, many of which frame the western skyline of Central Park.

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.

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.

In the article about the twin buildings of Manhattan, you’ll probably notice one set of twins 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.

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, all simple rectangular shapes.

Where Are We Now

We’ve followed a path from the Statue of Liberty and Alexander Hamilton, through the US Merchant Marine Academy, to the Chrysler Building, to Grand Central and now to the UN. We’ve followed Hamilton which has connected us with FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt. We stand now in the United Nations Plaza in front of the Eleanor Roosevelt monument waiting to find our next clue. The next thing we have to find is the rhapsodic man’s soil.

George Gershwin (a step in the right direction)

This verse immediately leads us in the direction of George Gershwin, best known for his composition “Rhapsody in Blue“.

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.

But Gershwin composed his most important works 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. 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. The lion at its center can be found in the splashing waves of the image.

Preiss seems to be pulling us along Riverside Drive. If we continue walking in that direction we arrive at a street named after another rhapsodic man, Duke Ellington Blvd.

Duke Ellington

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 within the patterns and colors of the panels of the image we can find some of Ellington’s songs. 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.

  1. Tulips and Turnips
  2. Deep Purple
  3. Blue Bubbles
  4. Deep Blues
  5. Rooftop/3 Sacred Concerts
  6. 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: one thought was that the rooftops are symbolic Ellington’s 3 Sacred Concerts, but they do not match the churches where the concerts were performed.

When considering references to Ellington’s music, it’s possible that the theme Palencar used for his New York painting was inspired by another Ellington song, How Deep Is The Ocean(How High Is The Sky)

I admittedly have been looking specifically for a reference to the Cotton Club somewhere in the painting. The Duke Ellington Orchestra opened as house band at The Cotton Club in 1927. His name is so associated with this club that I would expect to see some reference to it. While not the strongest reference, the distinctive C and O of the original marquee can be found upside-down in the waves.

One last note about the Harlem Renaissance. Many of the visual artists associated with the Harlem Renaissance came to participate in the Federal Art Project (1935–1943), an employment program for artists sponsored by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration

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

Sometimes you have to take things literally. Looking down on the rhapsodic man’s soil is simply directing us to look at a map of the city and the area that Ellington, leader in the Harlem Renaissance, is most associated with; Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, Sugar Hill and Harlem.

The gown changes color towards the bottom which shows us that we should look at the areas differently. The upper part of the gown represents elements of the city but is not a precise overlay. The lower part of the gown can be used as an precise overlay to find the location pointed to by the jewel.

The first thing to notice is that the left side of the gown matches the shoreline of the Hudson River and the flower with its unusually straight stem falls directly on the George Washington Bridge.

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), the markers below the gown all fall on area playgrounds. The jewel falling on a very particular playground, one named after Alexander Hamilton.

The rest of gown loosely maps to the major streets in the area. The waistband in the image is I95 which passes over the Alexander Hamilton Bridge with two bands representing the two directions of traffic . As possibly a dual reference, one arm extends over the slender path of the George Washington Bridge, while the other extends over the Harlem River. The folds of the gown represent the major roads with the outline of the sash representing the edge of the park. The end of the sash falls on the Roger Morris Park and Morris–Jumel Mansion, where Hamilton often visited. The upper part of the sash covers the belt line where the highway runs underneath the city.

The flower in the image falls over the George Washington Bridge and hidden in the petals we can find the letters GWB, the acronym that New Yorker’s commonly use to refer to the bridge. The unusually long and straight stem serves to represents the straight span of the bridge over the Hudson River.

The other 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.

Harlem Playgrounds

The markers below the gown fall directly on four playgrounds; the Ten Mile Playground (which is part of Riverside Park), the Renaissance Playground (which is named for the Harlem Renaissance ), the Frederick Johnson Playground, and the Alexander Hamilton Playground.

The map places the jewel directly over Alexander Hamilton Playground and at the entry of that playground we can find a sign with tells us about the 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. “

“People flocked to Harlem to hear the genius of band leader Duke Ellington, the jazz-poetry of Langston Hughes, and the romantic lyricism of Countee Cullen

The Renaissance Playground is the playground of PS 194 Countee Cullen, the Harlem school named after Cullen. 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. In The Collected Works of Langston Hughes the first 3 volumes represent his poetry. One of his poems, “Hard Daddy” inspired a series of “Daddy” poems by other poets and could be the meaning of Hard in the puzzle.

“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.”

While the verse could be referring to Countee Cullen, I can’t find anything that would resolve the “Hard” reference, so for the moment I believe it’s a reference to Langston Hughes. The following are a few links with more information on the Langston Hughes and his relationship with Duke Ellington.

The Blues and Jazz Poetry of Langston Hughes

Intertextuality 2: Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes

Alexander Hamilton Playground

Today the Hamilton Playground is almost entirely covered with asphalt and other surfaces with the exception of the rectangular area around the flagpole which cannot be seen in older images.

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 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 rectangular areas that border the retaining walls with a central 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. There may be another rectangular area that is hard to see in the aerial, but one of these would have been distinctive in that it had some type of pole in the center (a flag pole, tether ball pole, light pole, etc.)

Sadly, as this 2012 aerial shows, the park was entirely repaved in 1995 and neither of rectangular areas remain uncovered today. Today they are covered by a walkway with benches along the retaining wall and children’s play areas.

The two target areas are both covered by rubber surfaces, and whatever pole once existed is long gone.

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.”

Analyzing the Towers

I know that people have been looking everywhere for the building that matches this image. 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.

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.


There is a distinctive pattern which obviously represents something and is strangely familiar. What could this be?

I’m not sure whether we should be looking at the purple area alone or the wing section, but the gap between the wings suggests there is something here left to be discovered. It’s too blatant of a mistake to be by accident.

Amazing Coincidences

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.

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