Monday, April 3, 2017

On Safari in the Bronx

Annamaria on Monday

Those who want to see the widest possible variety of animal life in the Bronx will make their way to the Bronx Zoo--a splendid example of its type.

My foray last week, however, had other destinations.  The origins of "safari" come from the time of caravans walking across East Africa.  The walking tour, organized by the Bigelow Society of the New York Public Library--my place of worship of choice,  featured two of the library's eighty-seven branches in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island.  (Queens and Brooklyn each have their own system!)

Our first stop was the Bronx Library Center, near the legendary intersection of The Grand Concourse and Fordham Road.  The building, erected in 2008, won an award for environmentally friendly design.  It is perfectly lovely.  At 10 AM on a rainy, chilly Friday morning, the branch hosted many patrons working on their research and using the computers, and a delightful group of kindergarten-first graders trooping in for a lively story time.  The mural at the top of this post is on the wall of the children's floor. 

Since I warned you that we are on safari here, have you been on the lookout?  Did you spot the lion in the center of the mural?

Anytime the New York Public Library is involved, you must be on the lookout for lions.  I have many times shown here the most famous pair--Patience and Fortitude, who grace the main research building in mid-town Manhattan.

Only two members of the NYPL- supportive Bigelow Society were stalwart enough brave the elements--both of us crime fiction writers.   Our next stop was Mecca for us.

Here are SJ Rozan and me on the steps of Poe Cottage, one time residence of the grandfather of mystery writing – EA Poe.

Wildlife on view there is predictably the raven--mascot of mystery writers everywhere. 


While dodging raindrops on our way to Fordham University's beautiful Bronx campus, I caught no glimpses of wildlife, my vision being blocked by the use of an umbrella and a widebrimmed hat.

There may have been birds at home, but they were uninterested
in being photographed.

Once we were on campus, we made  a beeline for the museum. Who knew? There is a marvelous collection of Byzantine and Etruscan antiquities, which yielded many bird and animal sightings.  The pottery is largely Etruscan, the mosaics are Byzantine from Syria. 

I include this only because, given all the wine glasses I have broken while
washing dishes, it knocks me out completely to see a collection of intact
glass objects that are two thousand years old!
The ram, the Fordham mascot, unfazed by
being forced to take a cold shower
The campus chapel yielded the usual sightings of the eagle of John the Evangelist and the lion of St. Mark.

The chapel is the setting for a scene in one of SJ Rozan's stories--a thriller written with her partner Carlos Dews under the pseudonym Sam Cabot--The Skin of the Wolf.  I highly recommend it.  But do yourself a big favor: start with the Blood of the Lamb--the first of the series.

Our last stop was the Belmont branch, in the Arthur Avenue neighborhood, which serves a number of the city's immigrant groups, including children's books in their native languages.  

The Belmont branch also gave us our one view of exotic flora



  1. I concur. My higher power is the great New York City public library and libraries everywhere.

    Love the Etruscan pottery and Byzantine mosaics.

    Great travels in New York -- and who knew that Poe's residence was in the vicinity?

    Also, did not know that S.J. Rozan, writer of the Bill Smith/Lydia Chin series (of which I've read many) has another series out under a pseudonym.

    1. As usual, Kathy, you and I are on the same wavelength. So glad you know SJ's books. I love them, and I loved the Sam Cabot ones. Blood of the Lamb is a knockout!

  2. A truly great safari, even better given the intrepitude the weather demanded. Thanks for the lovely mention, Annamaria! See you in another borough...

    1. SJ, I would gladly go on safari with you in any borough! I spoke only the truth about the books!

  3. Quite a safari, sis. And in the rain yet! We'll hopefully get to share some sunshine with you soon.

    1. Ready when you are, Bro. Walking in the rain is fun when the company is right.

  4. What a great Safari - thank you for taking us along!

    I love that the lions have names (and that you know them). New York seems like a wonderful place for an urban safari - and there certainly were many animals around, even without the zoo.

    1. The library lions are beloved. When friends are in from out of town and want to meet her the library for lunch or a coffee, I tell them, "Meet me at the north lion." I hope soon that will be you! 🦁

      As for animals, there are many and varied in my city. The most dangerous ones gather 15 blocks uptown at a famous tower--all glitzy and tasteless. Nothing like my elegant, welcoming library home. 📚