A Hot Dog Condiment How-To

Dear Diary:

On our usual Mother’s Day outing, my mom, my sister and I went to Gray’s Papaya on 72nd before our trip to Harry’s Shoes in the 80s. We all ordered the usual, frankfurter with sauerkraut and mustard, a New York specialty that I grew up with. Next to us were two businesswomen ordering for themselves.

Now, before I relay this part of the anecdote, I would like to offer a disclaimer. I feel that as a lifelong New Yorker I have a natural-born right to be biased about two things: pizza and hot dogs. There is nowhere else where these delicacies are done better.

Dramatically, they ordered hot dogs with American cheese and a Coke on the side! Now I understand, to a degree, chili or maybe even ketchup, but shunning both the celebrated papaya and classic toppings? Unacceptable.

After the order, my mom, the counterman and I all shared a common expression of disbelief and disgust. Should we explain to these poor souls what a hot dog really is? Maybe they misunderstood and could be saved?

Unfortunately part of the experience of Gray’s Papaya is that the customer is always right, and the counterman had to grudgingly collect their order, quite possibly from an area of the grill that hadn’t been touched in months.

I now regret my decision not to interfere, knowing that one day a New Yorker far more aggressive than me will give them the lecture they deserve — the appropriate condiments to place on a New York hot dog.


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Weiner Gets Mixed Reception at Israel Day Parade

As he marched on Sunday in his first Israel Day Parade since resigning from Congress, Anthony D. Weiner encountered plenty of fans, as well as the first real sustained display of hostility toward his New York City mayoral ambitions.

Mr. Weiner, who is the only Jewish candidate running, was cheered by many marchers and onlookers, several of whom wished him luck in the race. But many also booed him or heckled him about the scandal that forced him to give up his Congressional seat, after he was discovered to be sending sexually explicit messages to women over Twitter.

“Tweet me a picture, Weiner!” one man yelled repeatedly, as Mr. Weiner marched by, ignoring the heckler.

One woman simply gave him a thumbs-down as he passed her. An older man shouting “Am Yisrael Chai” – a Hebrew phrase meaning, roughly, “The people of Israel live” – approached Mr. Weiner looking as though he wanted to shake hands with him. But as he got closer, he stopped abruptly, and asked, “Are you Weiner?”

The older man then shook his head, withdrew his hand, and backed away quickly. Mr. Weiner looked startled and let out a loud, awkward laugh.

Henry Gerber, an officer worker who was volunteering with the organizers of the parade, muttered as Mr. Weiner went by, “God bless morality – please don’t run.”

“He doesn’t have a tremendous amount of common sense based upon what he did over the Internet,” Mr. Gerber said when asked his thoughts on Mr. Weiner. “And if he doesn’t have enough common sense to control his own personal affairs, what is he going to do as an elected leader of the City of New York?”

He also said that he was concerned about Mr. Weiner’s in-laws, who are Muslim, saying that he believed Mr. Weiner’s mother-in-law had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. Last year several Republican members of Congress, including Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, accused Mr. Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, of having ties to the Brotherhood through her father. Senator John McCain at the time defended Ms. Abedin on the Senate floor, calling the accusations “ugly” and unsubstantiated, and a spokesman for the State Department, Philippe Reines, called them “vicious and disgusting lies.”

Mr. Weiner, who was dressed in light blue pants and a white shirt, the colors of the Israel flag, said in a brief press gaggle before he started marching that he was “hawkish” on Israel and glad to be walking in the parade again.

“This is home for me,” he said.

Just then, a fellow marcher called out, “Best of luck, Anthony!”

“Thank you, sir,” Mr. Weiner responded.

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Spared Demolition, an 1889 Building Gets a Second Life

To create a modern subway interchange in Lower Manhattan, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority first had to contend with an exquisite antique, one that stood eight stories tall.

Building Blocks

How the city looks and feels — and why it got that way.

Ten years ago, the dilapidated Corbin Building, completed in 1889 at Broadway and John Street, seemed destined for demolition. It was in the way of the authority’s planned Fulton Street Transit Center, intended to impose order on the chaotic convergence of subway lines at Fulton Street, thereby helping downtown recover from the 2001 attack.

Today, the facade of the Corbin Building is an ornament in Lower Manhattan. Cleaned and restored, it sits like a ruddy little gem in the Broadway canyon, richly decorated with terra-cotta flora and fauna, belted by alternating bands of varied sandstone, capped at either end by pyramidal peaks. Monumental arches march down John Street like an aqueduct, enlivened by carmine-colored cast-iron window bays.

Inside, it turns out, the architectural delights continue. The centerpiece of the building is a broad semicircular stairwell down which daylight streams even on dark days. Tiny copper-plated cast-iron squirrels (or snails), hundreds of them, look as if they’re poised to hop (or crawl) all the way to the top of the elaborate balustrade. Some floors have wood paneling, others have marble wainscoting. There are fireplaces throughout, though they no longer work.

And much of the ground floor will serve an entrance to the Fulton Center (the pared-down name for the subway interchange), which is to open to the public next year. The restoration project accounted for $67.4 million of the $1.4 billion transit center budget.

What stepped between the wrecking crews and the Corbin Building a decade ago were preservationists. They persuaded the authority that the old building, designed by Francis Hatch Kimball, was worth saving and would add value to the Fulton Center. It helped their cause that the Corbin Building basement offered a direct path between the transit center and an underground passageway known as the Dey Street Concourse, which runs all the way to the World Trade Center.

As the project emerged, 31,000 square feet of usable commercial space was created in the Corbin Building. There is a large corner storefront. The upper floors may be used for retail or offices. Under certain conditions, the building could also be transformed into a hotel and the rooftop could be opened for commercial use.

The space is being offered under a master lease to private developers, along with 30,000 square feet of commercial space in the abutting transit hall, a striking new structure at Broadway and Fulton Street. A request for proposals was issued last year, and the authority is negotiating with finalists now.

“We expect to generate enough revenue to maintain the whole complex,” said Michael Horodniceanu, the president of the authority’s capital construction division. Because that dollar amount is part of the negotiation, he declined to disclose it.

“It would be interesting if we could get a bank as the anchor tenant,” Dr. Horodniceanu said, given that the original occupant of the ground floor was the Corbin Banking Company, one of many pies in which the financier Austin Corbin had his fingers. In 1880, Corbin acquired the ailing Long Island Rail Road and built it up. “Under his wise management,” The New York Times wrote in his obituary on June 5, 1896, “the development of Long Island was very rapid.”

Rejuvenating the Corbin Building required much more than dusting off sconces. A secondary stairway was required for emergency exiting. There was no place to fit it within the existing building, so a small annex was constructed to contain it.

To install escalators that would move passengers between the Fulton Center and the Dey Street passageway, the Corbin Building had to be structurally underpinned. On such a tight lot, as little as 20 feet wide, mechanical excavators could not be used. The pits for the new foundation work were dug by hand — with picks, shovels and buckets. The building was rigged with motion sensors and other monitors to ensure that it did not begin to lean.

The foundations went so deep that workers unearthed a stone-lined well. In the well and around it, they found a clay pipe with an eagle carved on the bowl, a case for a pair of pince-nez glasses, two ledger books from the 1880s with handwritten accounts of stock trades in railroad companies, a 1915 invoice from the Jeweler’s Circular Publishing Company, and newspapers from 1889 with torn-from-today’s-headlines articles like: “A New Madison Square Garden.”

An unsolved mystery involves a pair of initials that appear in decorations around the building. The first pair, “AC,” is easy. The second is more cryptic. If it’s “MC,” it may stand for Macklot & Corbin, Austin Corbin’s first firm. If it’s “MG,” however, authority officials are stumped, though Dr. Horodniceanu has his own whimsical theory: My Girlfriend.

That might explain all the fireplaces.

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Spared the Wreckers, a 1889 Building Gets a Second Life

To create a modern subway interchange in Lower Manhattan, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority first had to contend with an exquisite antique, one that stood eight stories tall.

Building Blocks

How the city looks and feels — and why it got that way.

Ten years ago, the dilapidated Corbin Building, completed in 1889 at Broadway and John Street, seemed destined for demolition. It was in the way of the authority’s planned Fulton Street Transit Center, intended to impose order on the chaotic convergence of subway lines at Fulton Street, thereby helping downtown recover from the 2001 attack.

Today, the facade of the Corbin Building is an ornament in Lower Manhattan. Cleaned and restored, it sits like a ruddy little gem in the Broadway canyon, richly decorated with terra-cotta flora and fauna, belted by alternating bands of varied sandstone, capped at either end by pyramidal peaks. Monumental arches march down John Street like an aqueduct, enlivened by carmine-colored cast-iron window bays.

Inside, it turns out, the architectural delights continue. The centerpiece of the building is a broad semicircular stairwell down which daylight streams even on dark days. Tiny copper-plated cast-iron squirrels (or snails), hundreds of them, look as if they’re poised to hop (or crawl) all the way to the top of the elaborate balustrade. Some floors have wood paneling, others have marble wainscoting. There are fireplaces throughout, though they no longer work.

And much of the ground floor will serve an entrance to the Fulton Center (the pared-down name for the subway interchange), which is to open to the public next year. The restoration project accounted for $67.4 million of the $1.4 billion transit center budget.

What stepped between the wrecking crews and the Corbin Building a decade ago were preservationists. They persuaded the authority that the old building, designed by Francis Hatch Kimball, was worth saving and would add value to the Fulton Center. It helped their cause that the Corbin Building basement offered a direct path between the transit center and an underground passageway known as the Dey Street Concourse, which runs all the way to the World Trade Center.

As the project emerged, 31,000 square feet of usable commercial space was created in the Corbin Building. There is a large corner storefront. The upper floors may be used for retail or offices. Under certain conditions, the building could also be transformed into a hotel and the rooftop could be opened for commercial use.

The space is being offered under a master lease to private developers, along with 30,000 square feet of commercial space in the abutting transit hall, a striking new structure at Broadway and Fulton Street. A request for proposals was issued last year, and the authority is negotiating with finalists now.

“We expect to generate enough revenue to maintain the whole complex,” said Michael Horodniceanu, the president of the authority’s capital construction division. Because that dollar amount is part of the negotiation, he declined to disclose it.

“It would be interesting if we could get a bank as the anchor tenant,” Dr. Horodniceanu said, given that the original occupant of the ground floor was the Corbin Banking Company, one of many pies in which the financier Austin Corbin had his fingers. In 1880, Corbin acquired the ailing Long Island Rail Road and built it up. “Under his wise management,” The New York Times wrote in his obituary on June 5, 1896, “the development of Long Island was very rapid.”

Rejuvenating the Corbin Building required much more than dusting off sconces. A secondary stairway was required for emergency exiting. There was no place to fit it within the existing building, so a small annex was constructed to contain it.

To install escalators that would move passengers between the Fulton Center and the Dey Street passageway, the Corbin Building had to be structurally underpinned. On such a tight lot, as little as 20 feet wide, mechanical excavators could not be used. The pits for the new foundation work were dug by hand — with picks, shovels and buckets. The building was rigged with motion sensors and other monitors to ensure that it did not begin to lean.

The foundations went so deep that workers unearthed a stone-lined well. In the well and around it, they found a clay pipe with an eagle carved on the bowl, a case for a pair of pince-nez glasses, two ledger books from the 1880s with handwritten accounts of stock trades in railroad companies, a 1915 invoice from the Jeweler’s Circular Publishing Company, and newspapers from 1889 with torn-from-today’s-headlines articles like: “A New Madison Square Garden.”

An unsolved mystery involves a pair of initials that appear in decorations around the building. The first pair, “AC,” is easy. The second is more cryptic. If it’s “MC,” it may stand for Macklot & Corbin, Austin Corbin’s first firm. If it’s “MG,” however, authority officials are stumped, though Dr. Horodniceanu has his own whimsical theory: My Girlfriend.

That might explain all the fireplaces.

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A Frog of Special Skill

The song of the gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) is a poignant reminder that our local woodlands have reached their spring peak. The threat of frost has passed, and the woods are fragrant now with showy wildflowers and soft, bright green leaves.

This tiny frog’s call is at least as much a part of these woodlands as any migrant songbird’s, and, best described as a melancholy trill, it is in many ways more indicative of the health of a local wetland than birdsong.

Though they are widespread in New York City’s five boroughs, gray tree frogs are rarely noticed by park visitors or wetland hikers. The frogs can change color, but generally range from a warm, muted gray to mossy green, rendering them hard to detect among the branches and tree bark they prefer.

N.Y.C. Nature

Portraits of local flora and fauna.

At an inch and a half, gray tree frogs are rather toad-like in their pudgy proportions, making their considerable climbs though the trees that much more remarkable.

Even so, the frogs are generally homebodies, and never range far from the vernal pools of water where they were born.

Few animals seem as ill-suited to an arboreal life as a frog. Their need for damp conditions, their sometimes clumsy hopping (or more properly, their sometimes clumsy landings), and their need to lay eggs in water, all seem to be a poor fit for life in a tree. But frogs have surmounted the challenges.

Locally, the very early breeding spring peeper and the gray tree frog are abundant examples of this success.

The climbing ability of tree frogs is based largely upon their toe pads; circular discs exude a tacky mucous that allows the frog to stick to branches and leaves in the wild — or your windows and aluminum siding if you are lucky enough to live near a population.

These frogs are generally nocturnal and are sometimes drawn to the insects circling lit porch lights on warm spring and summer evenings. They are particularly active on humid or wet nights.

In fact, traditional folklore imbues them with the ability to predict rain. This is unlikely, though the frogs are certainly more active, and inclined to call when humidity rises prior to, during and after a warm summer rain.

Even admirers of these beautiful gnome-like creatures are frequently unaware of one of their most unusual adaptations. The gray tree frog can survive body temperatures well below freezing during the winter months.

While in this nearly frozen state, the frog’s heart stops beating completely, its lungs cease working, and its brain activity is almost unmeasurable. This adaptation is shared with a few other northern-ranging reptiles and amphibians that must survive months of potentially sub-freezing temperatures in order to survive.

This tree frog “trick” is accomplished by producing high concentrations of glycerol, a natural antifreeze, which prevents ice crystals from forming and rupturing delicate cell structures and compromising important internal organs.

And so in spring, the frog awakens, stretches like Rip Van Winkle, and hops off into another lush green world.

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Week in Pictures for May 31

Here is a slide show of photographs from the past week in New York City and the region. Subjects include a Memorial Day parade in Queens, the bike-share program in Brooklyn and the reunion of President Obama and Gov. Chris Christie on the Jersey Shore.

This weekend on “The New York Times Close Up,” an inside look at the most compelling articles in Sunday’s Times, Sam Roberts will speak with The Times’s Michael Kimmelman, Eleanor Randolph and Kate Taylor. Also, Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, and Walter Mosley, an author. Tune in at 10 p.m. Saturday or 10 a.m. Sunday on NY1 News to watch.

A sampling from the City Room blog is featured daily in the main print news section of The Times. You may also read current New York headlines, like New York Metro | The New York Times on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Ask an Orchestra Manager

Next up in Metropolitan’s Q. and A. series is Carl R. Schiebler, personnel manager for the New York Philharmonic.

Mr. Schiebler keeps rehearsals running on time, tracks down extras and substitutes, and serves as the symphony’s go-to fixer.

Wondering which is the hardest musician to schedule? (Hint: ever hear of a theremin?) The most common injury among the orchestra’s 106 official players? About life offstage and behind the curtain at Avery Fisher Hall?

Share your questions in the comments section below. We will pass on the best to Mr. Schiebler, with some of our own, and publish the answers next week. Also, let us know if you have ideas for future interview subjects — we’ll keep them in mind.

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