Macy's, the extraordinary love and tragedy of 'Titanic': on the Isidore and Ida Strauss Memorial
Strauss Park with the Isidore and Ida Strauss Memorial is located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York, at the intersection of Broadway, West End Avenue and 106th Street. Not far from the Nicholas Roerich Museum. Once, after a tour of it, I lingered in this park. In the depths, through the foliage of the bushes, the sculpture of a beautiful nymph was clearly visible, bending over the flower lawn. And its appearance was so strikingly different from the traditional park statues that I came closer. On the fencing wall I found an inscription: "In memory of Isidor and Ida Strauss, who died in the Titanic crash on April 15, 1912". And next to it is the name - Straus Park. I remembered the memorable footage of the cult Titanic movie, knew a thing or two about Macy's, and the Strauss brothers. It remains only to connect these disparate "puzzles" into a single picture. But it was especially curious that all the reports I found about family, work, the famous department store or the Titanic tragedy - ended with a story of amazing love, loyalty, courage and nobility. About people who managed to prove that the famous phrase: "They lived happily and died in the same day" is not a literary cliché, but real life. I hope that the story of their extraordinary life and fate will interest you too.
It originated in Germany in the 1816th century. When Napoleon lost his last battles, abandoning dilapidated and plundered cities. After the dank XNUMX - "a year without summer», or "one thousand eight hundred to death of the frozen year", which brought a catastrophic crop failure, hunger and a tenfold increase in food prices. The years 1848-1849 kindled the fires of revolution and unrest throughout Europe. And soon small peasant farms in Germany also lost their property rights, and manufactures could not withstand competition with English factories. Mass German immigration to the United States began through the ports of Bremen and Hamburg. Between 1820 and 1870 alone, about 6,0 million people entered the United States from Germany. The freedoms granted in their homeland by Napoleon were lost, and the Jews, in addition to everything, received another portion of pogroms, oppression and restrictions in rights. So to the largest immigration flow from Germany in those years, the Jewish wave was added. If in 1850 it was about 50 thousand people, then ten years later it increased to 150. New York has become one of the largest receiving centers for this stream.
All of them had to be met, sent to their relatives in different parts of the country, and those who had been detained in the city had to be somehow equipped. Nathan Bloon, the father of Ida, the future wife of Isidor Strauss, became such an immigration agent and broker. In 1860, they immigrated to the United States from Worms (Bavaria) and immediately settled in New York. And Isidor's father - Lazar Strauss - chose a different path. Leaving his family in the German town of Otterberg, he immediately travels south upon arrival in the States. Considering that in a small agricultural region (such as Georgia) it will be easier to find a job. Having met his old acquaintance Julius Kaufman there, and having found out that he owns a van, he persuades him to organize trade in various goods on remote farms.
Correctly assessing the market conditions, he soon opened a small dry goods store in Talbotton and two years later (in 1854) called his wife with four children. Isidore, the eldest of them, was then 9 years old. The father's business was quite successful, and the children had the opportunity first to study at the parish school, and then at the Cоllingsworth Institute craft. But Isidore, like many young men, dreams of entering the Military Academy, and with the outbreak of the Civil War, go to the active army. However, in 1861 he was only 16 years old, and he remains at home, helping his father in the family business.
Soon, he already independently conducts many cases, quickly establishing contacts and acquiring acquaintances. But in 1863, a Talbot County grand jury issued a statement accusing Jewish traders of disloyalty to the uprising and price increases. Since the Strauss were the only Jewish family in Talbotten, they immediately move to nearby Columbus. It is curious that later, at their house, the townspeople will erect a memorial plaque in memory of the famous fellow villagers. Naturally, there won't be a word about this incident.
Why exactly in Columbus? Most likely because in those days it was not just a large city and the center for the central supply depots of the Confederate army, but also the place where the Jewish community and synagogue functioned. Isidore, quickly established contacts there and became secretary to Lloyd Bowers, the agent responsible for raising funds for the needs of the Confederation. Soon he goes to England, having received a lot of assignments. From the sale of government bonds and attempts to bypass the blockade to solve problems with transport and cotton trade, to organizing the capture of an attacker who was hiding in Europe with a Confederate letter of credit for 20 thousand, and so on. Despite a number of setbacks, the trip was a success. The amount with which he returned to Columbus significantly exceeded the $ 1 provided by his parents. However, there he was not greeted with open arms.
On April 16, 1865, the last battle of the Civil War took place here. Columbus, as the main base of the Confederates, it was decided to destroy. So Lazar Strauss, for the second time in his life, became a complete bankrupt. In Germany, his grain business collapsed, but here his store, literally, was in ruins. The sons, as best they could, consoled him. Like, "... also say thank you for being alive." Isidore offered to move to New York, and the family accepted his offer. Moreover, he bought a large house there on West Forty-ninth Street, paying for the purchase himself. And already in 1866, about six months after the family moved to New York, he and his father founded L. Straus & Son. Assuming that in a war-torn country, people would first of all want to equip their life, they decide to buy china and tableware from New York importers and supply them to small shops in the south. Such goods were difficult to find there, and therefore the demand was extremely high.
It was one hundred percent hit, and they quickly expanded the business. They were soon joined by his brother Nathan and Lazarus Kons, husband of their sister Theormina. So their business gradually turns into a family business, and the company changes its name to L. Straus & Sons, that is, the former "Lazarus Strauss and Son", changes to "... and Sons." In addition to china and glassware, they start selling silver, bronze, and watches. Wanting to reduce the cost of products, they try to work without intermediaries, buying goods directly from manufacturers in England and France.
Since 1879 they have opened their own glass and porcelain factories in Rudolstadt (Germany), Limoges (France), Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic) and other places. They organize the production of faceted and showcase glass, as well as gift and souvenir products. The entire management of the company is actually concentrated in the hands of Isidore. Nathan could not stand office work, but he was a generator of ideas, an excellent organizer and negotiator.
It was he who had the idea to place a porcelain and glass department in Macy's, the city's most famous department store. And in 1873 he managed to agree on this - the entire basement floor was given to the Strauss. Inspired by their success, they open department stores in Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington. Now, they are becoming the only ones who manage to "sit on two chairs", supplying their products at the same price, both small private shops and huge department stores. Gradually, the Strauss became the largest sellers of porcelain and glass products in the country. And the thought of becoming the owner of a large department store never occurred to them. However, life has decided otherwise.
Macy's is now an American department store chain with 552 stores. The company employs up to 130 people. The Strauss-built department store in Herald Square in New York is one of the largest in the world. The company was founded in 000 by 1858-year-old Roland Hussey Macy (hence the name) and was a small dry goods store. From the age of 21, Macy worked on the whaling ship "Emily Morgan" near the island of Nantucket, where he was born. He had a tattoo with a red star on his arm. The original Macy and Co. logo includes this particular red star, which Macy considered a symbol of success.
In those days, all basic payments in stores were made only on credit, which was not a sign of poverty, but of the client's financial stability. But Macy's initial capital was small and he could not buy goods for cash, but sell on credit. Then in his store he sets a rule: the sale is carried out only for cash. At the same time, all prices were fixed and the client could not bargain, but if he did not like the purchased product, he could return it within two weeks.
This has led to an increase in sales of expensive items. With a number of other innovations, Macy quickly achieved success, and soon became the owner of a large department store. However, in 1877 he died suddenly in Paris from kidney inflammation. The management of the company passes to his relatives. However, due to the death of the main contenders for the management of the department store, and the deteriorating position of the company in the market, in 1888, an offer was made to the Strauss to become business partners. At the time, their departments were already contributing about thirteen percent of the department store's total sales.
Ultimately, they accepted the offer and bought out 45 percent of the business, increasing it to 1893 percent in 50. In 1892, they also became partners in a Brooklyn retail company called Abraham & Straus. And in 1896, Macy's department store passed into their full ownership. It was a difficult decision. It is one thing to develop your own business, raising its volume and image. It is completely different to come to an established company and, at first, without fundamentally changing anything, still start leading it on a new course. Not to mention the fact that the Strauss were still "outsiders" in New York: on the one hand, Jews, and on the other, "southerners" - Confederates. Therefore, keeping all the developments Macy's, they finalized and supplemented them with a number of innovations.
Now their main advertising trump cards were quite strong: low and fixed prices, the maximum possible variety and increase in the assortment, the possibility of returning goods and placing them in sections and sizes, free access to products and the possibility of trying them on without the participation of the seller. All this has so organically entered our life that we do not even think about the origins. In addition, the department store has been a launching pad for many innovative products. Here, for the first time, they offered clients tea bags, baked potatoes, bath towels in different colors, etc.
They became the first New York City retailer to be licensed to sell spirits. And soon their factories were producing not only porcelain and glassware, but also cigars, bed linen, flags, mattresses and pillows, sweets, perfumes and toiletries, baking powder, bicycles and horse harnesses, men's shirts and women's underwear, skirts, blouses, robes, bespoke items and more.
However, despite the successful start, it was clear that it would be impossible to further develop the department store without a sharp increase in floor space. And then Jesse and Percy, sons of Isidore, chose a site in the Herald Square area at the intersection of 34th Street, Broadway and 6th Avenue, which satisfied the needs of the firm. Despite the costs of demolishing 34 buildings. But here, suddenly, there was a problem. In 1900, with preparations for construction already virtually complete, the building on the very corner of the site was unexpectedly bought by businessman Robert H. Smith, who was acting on the orders of Siegel-Cooper, a rival dry goods store. The calculation was simple: to force the Strauss to abandon the site. As a last resort, prevent them from reaching the position of the largest department store in the world, which was then occupied by Siegel-Cooper. But the Strauss, when erecting their building, left this house in place, just going around it. At the same time, their main facade acquired a peculiar and therefore unforgettable silhouette. Over time, the brothers will buy out the corner plot, but this will not change anything in the appearance of the department store. Having gone through a number of additions and modernizations, the building still delights residents and guests of the city.
Time passes, and the Strauss succeeds in organizing a series of events that have turned Macy's into not only the favorite department store of the city, but also made the subject of special pride and gratitude for all New Yorkers. The beginning was laid by an invitation to them, on the Christmas holidays, of the "real" Santa, who could make a wish, sit on his lap, or take a photo with his elf assistants. But these short pre-Christmas meetings could not affect the sales. And then, the store employees offered to arrange a colorful parade, of the type often organized in their historical homeland, which would open the pre-Christmas sale. It was first held in 1924, then not with inflatable figures, but with the participation of live animals from the zoo. This "Christmas parade" was soon transformed into Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. In all cases, it ended with Santa's ceremonial entry into the building to mark the start of the department store's Christmas sales. It was this event that became the main theme of the famous cult film Miracle on 34th Street.
Equally famous is their July 4th Independence Day festive fireworks display, when simultaneous volleys from five ships fascinate and fill the heart of every American with pride, and Macy's gets its well-deserved share of fame and recognition.
The colorful Flower Show regularly organized in the department store building (late March-early April) is very popular.
It should be noted that the ability of Isidor and Nathan Strauss to create a special corporate spirit among the company's employees was of no small importance in achieving significant success and gains of the company. If they became aware that someone was having serious problems, they tried to immediately provide the necessary assistance: be it money, a new suit, or the services of a doctor. Although, they were the first businessmen in the United States to organize a self-help society to provide their workers with the necessary medical care. Despite the fact that a doctor and a nurse constantly worked in the department store. Staff were provided with inexpensive lunches and a Thanksgiving turkey. Traditionally, all kinds of picnics, sleigh rides and other collective events were organized. This created a sense of belonging to a large “family” in people.
About family and destiny
Virtually all of the Strauss businesses were family businesses. Their patriarch was Lazar Strauss. Until his last days, he headed the L. Straus & Sons company, which he and Isidore had created. Of course, he took part in the creation of Macy's and Abraham & Straus firms. He was a businesslike and decisive person. He had an amazing flair and organizational skills. At the same time, until the end of his life, he remained obligatory, honest and decent. In business circles he enjoyed exceptional respect and trust. There is a story about how, after the civil war, he paid off the debt to the merchant George Bliss for the goods that he acquired before it began. Nobody expected this. After all, everyone knew that his store with all the warehouses in Columbus was destroyed during the raid of the "northerners". When his sons wanted to get a bank loan for $ 500 to buy a stake in the Wechsler & Abraham department store, they immediately received it at a low interest rate, without collateral. Director George Bliss allegedly told his employees: "If old man Lazarus is still in business, then his name alone is a complete guarantee." He came to the USA with 000 children.
His middle son Nathan was also active in the family business. While making business trips to Europe, he met and in 1875 married Lina Gurhertz. During the next trip, their little daughter Sarah will die due to bad milk. This tragedy will serve as the impetus for the start of his new activity. He will build and pay for pasteurization laboratories, first in New York, then throughout the United States and, finally, in many countries around the world. Will build a tuberculosis "Prevention". After the first visit to Israel, he will become so imbued with its spirit that he will become a Zionist. Will build a health center in Jerusalem, support the construction of new settlements and work at the Hebrew University. And in New York, Nathan served as Commissioner of Parks, Head of the Department of Health and even ran for mayor.
The fate of the younger Strauss - Oscar - was completely different. The fact is that the family believed that their ever-growing business would need a good lawyer. And the brothers pay for his studies at Columbia University. But he did not live up to their hopes. Not that it was bad. On the contrary, it was too good. And therefore he managed to reach the level of a minister in Constantinople, an ambassador to Turkey and a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. He was also the head of the US Department of Trade and Labor under President Theodore Roosevelt (the first Jew in the country's cabinet. And the founder and president of the American Jewish Historical Society).
The only daughter of Lazar Strauss, Ermina, was not directly involved in the family business. However, she took care of the widowed Lazarus and stayed with him until the last days. She was a hospitable hostess and arranged large Sunday dinners in her house for all members of a large family. But her husband, Lazar Kons (originally from German Koblenz), was the vice president of L. Straus & Sons for many years, where he enjoyed great respect and, naturally, was considered an equal member of the family.
Isidore, the eldest son of Lazarus, inherited from his father and multiplied all his best qualities, and was the "first violin" in all the family's endeavors. In fact, he was the main generator of ideas, which then had to be implemented by himself, depending on the circumstances, resorting to the help of his father, Nathan, or grown-up sons. As president of the New York City Council for the Ceramics and Tableware Trade, he was elected as a congressman, but then refused to be reelected. Despite his fame, an impeccable reputation in the business community and clear leadership qualities, he did not want to be a public figure and preferred to devote all his strength to the prosperity of the family business. He was an exemplary citizen and a worthy example of a wealthy person who avoids wastefulness and is able to give time and money only for worthy deeds. Very few, in those distant times, at memorial celebrations could deserve the words: "... he lived like a saint and died a hero."
The history of this family is a vivid example of the real embodiment of the "American Dream". Having arrived in the country as a beggar immigrant, Lazar began by driving around the farm plots for days on end, hoping to sell a bunch of twine, a piece of cloth or a couple of pounds of nails. And his sons have already managed to become not only one of the richest people in the country, but also congressmen and ministers. And the grandchildren, having successfully completed their studies at Harvard (this with the most severe quotas for Jewish applicants), have successfully continued the family business.
Isidore and Nathan belonged to the country's most elite clubs: Manhattan, Uptown on Fifth Avenue, the Reform Club, and the Free Trade Club. Isidore often spent his summer vacations at resorts with President Grover Cleveland, and New York Governor Hugh J. Grant's horses lived in Nathan's stables. Nevertheless, the family did not forget about their roots, and children and grandchildren often visited their native places in Germany. So Isidore and Ida and their granddaughter Beatrice decided to spend Christmas in 1811 in Otterberg. Rather, the general plan was as follows: they visit Germany, leave their granddaughter there, then go to Palestine, where Nathan and his wife are visiting at this time. Then, already together they return to New York. They left Macy's to manage the sons of Isidore: Jesse, Percy and Herbert, who, after the death of their father, continued his business, buying Nathan's share in the family business from Nathan. Jesse and Herbert Strauss will pass away in the 1930s, while Percy remained president until 1939. He was then succeeded as CEO by Jesse's son, Jack E. Strauss, who retired in 1968. The last Strauss to rise to the top was Jack's son Kenneth, who retired as senior vice president in 1986, ending the family tradition. Since then, Macy's has repeatedly changed owners, and the current leadership hopes to keep it afloat through the development of Internet technologies and a hypermarket.
But back to Isidore and Ida, while they are still visiting their relatives in Germany, and telling them about their life in the USA. About the times when Isidore was still living in Columbus and was on friendly terms with Frank Rothschild, married to Amanda Bloon, Ida's older sister. So, even before leaving for London in 1863 and returning in 1865, he crossed paths with Ida. But she was then only 14-16 years old. Their final meeting took place when the Strauss had already moved to New York, and ended with a wedding in 1871. Isidor was then 26, and Ida was 4 years younger than him. It is curious that they were born on the same day - February 6. That will allow later to say: "They were born and died on the same day." There were not so many memories of their life together, but everyone knew that Ida always supported her husband, and was aware of all his affairs. And when he was offered the post of postmaster of the country, and he decided to refuse; and when he decided to take part in the organization of the Jewish Educational Alliance, she was always his adviser. When he left home to perform duties in the US House of Representatives, or on business affairs, he exchanged letters with her every day, and reported on his successes. At the same time, they jokingly called themselves "daddy" and "mommy".
But in every big business there are hard times. As in my personal life. For example: her children Jessie and Clarence suddenly fell ill with diphtheria, which was then considered an incurable disease. Nursing them, Ida was pregnant with her third child. As a result, Clarence never managed to survive. And three weeks later Ida gave birth ahead of time. Fortunately, Percy was completely healthy. But all this had to be experienced together. They had a wonderful, happy family, and they tried to overcome all difficulties together. Now the children were grown up, and they could afford to go on vacation to Europe. Moreover, at the end of spring Nathan was waiting for them in Israel to show them the country. But Isidore, who had just arrived from Europe, was not particularly impressed by the unsightly settlements and ruins of ancient buildings in Judea. He insists that everyone should return to London to go home together. But Nathan wants to stay a little longer. And Isidore and Ida in London will have bad news. The coal miners have been on strike here for almost three weeks. In this regard, scheduled flights are canceled.
Therefore, they fail to return to New York with the usual German shipping company. All the coal was handed over to the Titanic, which was scheduled to depart on April 10. Isidore is offered tickets for this highly publicized ship. He sends an urgent telegram to Nathan: «You need to leave Palestine now and immediately go to London, - wrote Isidore, - I have booked amazing places for you, but if you are late, you will miss your chance! " They missed their chance, two days late. But they saved their lives. Heartbroken Nathan could not shake the thought that the delay in Palestine had saved him from death. He will return to Israel and devote the remaining two decades of his life to rebuilding the Jewish state. Upon learning that a new city is about to be founded in the sand dunes north of Tel Aviv, he will finance the project. The grateful residents will name the city Netanya in his honor.
But back to London. At 9:45 am on April 10, a special White Star Line train departs from Waterloo, delivering 1st class passengers to the port of Southampton. John Astor IV, Archibald Butt, Archibald Gracie and others rode this train along with Isidore and Ida Strauss. At about 11 o'clock the train arrived at the Southampton Ocean Dock, where the ship was moored, and they boarded the Titanic along the wide gangway. Today, when the world has an excellent cruise fleet, it makes no sense to talk about the beautiful cabins, restaurants and cafes, libraries and ship doctors, swimming pools, game rooms and wide deck promenades. After all, the Titanic was only their forerunner.
However, each of us remembers the delight and admiration that we experienced when we first found ourselves on Oasis of the Seas, Queen Mary 2 or Norwegian Escape. The same thing happened with the Strauss couple. On the first day, they took a photo for memory. Fortunately, the photographer will disembark in Queenstown, and keep for us the very image in which we will always remember them. On April 14, they sent their son a telegram: “Nice trip, nice ship, we feel good. What's new?" They were supposed to arrive in a couple of days, and they were already interested in New York affairs. How could they have imagined that in just a few hours, at 23:40 pm, their ship would collide with an iceberg and receive serious damage to the hull plating.
After consulting with Thomas Andrews, who is on board the ship's chief designer, at 0:05 a.m. on April 15, Captain Smith will order the lifeboats to be uncovered and to begin collecting passengers on the boat deck. The Strauss had a first-class cabin, and there the stewards helped the passengers get dressed and get on deck, reassured them, and explained that boarding was primarily intended for women and children. The stewarts were not informed that the ship was left afloat for only 1,5-2,0 hours. At 0:45 the first boat (No. 7) was launched into the water from the starboard side. The strauss were to take their places in the boat (No. 8) on the port side. Their cabin was located not far from the deck and the main staircase, in the hall of which the orchestra was still playing. Going upstairs, they met with a familiar Colonel Archibald Gracie (he managed to survive), who advised Isidore to turn to the captain so that he and his wife would be loaded into a boat together. But he didn’t do it.
In the meantime, the loading was already in progress on the deck and Ida went down into the boat. But turning, and seeing her husband standing alone on the deck, she returned and ordered her maid Ellen Bird to take her place. Present at this scene, Second Mate Charles Lightoller, who was in charge of launching the boats from the port side, tried to stop her. “I will not be separated from my husband. We have lived together for so many years that we will be together now, ”she said. And she rushed to her husband.
“Many saw them holding hands, kissing and hugging, which was simply unthinkable for people of their status,” their biographer and great-grandson Professor Paul Kurtzman later said. Then Charles Lightoller himself offered Isidore a place in the boat. But he refused. Later, when reporters asked the escaped maid, Ellen Bird, about Ida Strauss: "Has she really started to get into the boat?" “Yes” - she will answer, and will tell how then Ida threw her mink coat over her shoulders with the words: “Take it, my child. The night is cold. " And when she tries to refuse such an expensive gift, she will answer with a soft smile: "I think that I will not need it any more." In tears, Ellen kneels before her.
Professor Paul Kurtzman, who has re-read a lot of eyewitness memories, will accurately reconstruct what happened that night: “My great-grandmother Ida got into a lifeboat, expecting her husband to follow her. When he didn't, she became alarmed. The ship officer in charge of launching this lifeboat said: “Well, Mr. Strauss, you are an elderly man. And we all know who you are… Of course you can join your wife. My great-grandfather answered him: “I will not do this. I will not get into the boat before the remaining women and children are saved. "
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“Our boat was the last to sail from the ship,” Mrs. Chabert, who had miraculously escaped, will tell later, “and we saw Mr. and Mrs. Strauss embracing each other on the deck. The lights of the Titanic were still burning, the orchestra was playing its last march, but the image of the elderly couple, together awaiting the end, will forever remain for me the most touching moment of this terrible disaster. " The orchestra was actually playing the "Lord, Closer to You" march.
“When I finish my earthly life,
When you lead me into glory
Eternal joy to me: Closer, Lord, to You,
Closer, Lord, to You,
Closer to you! "
So they went to him, covered with a huge ocean wave. Rescuers will find Isidor's body, identifying him by a gold medallion found in his jacket pocket with photographs of Jesse's son and daughter Sarah. Ida's body was never found. When the survivors of the disaster arrived in New York aboard the RMS Carpathia, many told reporters about Mrs. Strauss's dedication and loyalty to her husband. And these stories will resonate in the hearts of people around the world. The rabbis will speak in their communities about her sacrifice; articles in Yiddish and German-language newspapers will praise her courage; and Solomon Small's hit song "The Disaster of the Titanic," which retells the story of Ida Strauss, will become the most popular song among Jewish Americans. Four weeks later, a memorial service will be held for them at Carnegie Hall, and thousands of people will come there. “The Great Hall was filled to capacity, and hundreds of people who begged to enter were turned down because there was no more room inside,” The New York Times reported.
During the ceremony, Jacob H. Schiff, an American banker and leader of the Jewish community in New York, also remembered Ida's loyalty to her husband: “… in that terrible hour when the Titanic sank, the noble woman remained true to the oath she made on the altar:“ Until the death separates us!" More than 25 residents took part in the farewell ceremony organized by the Education Alliance on the East Side and Brooklyn. The sons transported Isidore's body to the family crypt at Woodlon Cemetery in the Bronx. A cenotaph for Ida was also erected next to the tombstone of Isidor. And on the commemorative plaque they carried a quote from the book of Solomon "Song of Songs": "Streams of water are not able to extinguish love and you cannot drown it either."
And on July 2, 1912, the city council will pass a decree to rename the small "Bloomingdale Square", located next to the Strauss house, into Strauss Park. In 1884, when Isidore bought a house here, it was a quiet patriarchal area, with pleasant country houses, surrounded by large lawns and shady trees.
By the way, Brennan's farm, where Poe wrote his "The Raven", is not far from here. Strauss' house then occupied the entire block on the north side of 105th Street between Broadway and West End. Unfortunately, after the death of their parents, the sons will sell this site, and now there is a traditional high-rise of three buildings (Cleburne Building). And the places here are no longer quiet. So the small triangular square at the intersection of Broadway and West End Avenue is a pleasant exception here. It was here that it was decided to establish a Memorial in memory of the Strauss. The announced competition, for which 59 applications were submitted, was won by the American monumental sculptor August Lukemann.
However, due to the limited space, it was impossible to build a large monumental composition on this site. And Lukemann created a memorial here that touches us with its laconic restraint and expressiveness. With a curved granite exedra, and a graceful bronze female figure in front of a long, water-filled granite pool. And a fencing wall, with benches for visitors, behind and an inscription under the message about their tragic death: "They were happy and pleasant during life, and death did not separate them" (II Samuel 1:23). As a model for the female figure, Lukeman brought in Audrey Munson, the delightful "American Venus," the country's premier supermodel. It is her figure that rises above the Manhattan Municipal Building, on the facade of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, the central campus of Columbia University and dozens of other sculptures. Like a beautiful Greek Goddess of memory, thoughtfully resting her head on her hand, she settled down here on the shore by the water. Anxiously, with sadness and hope, she looks into the distance at the surface of the water, knowing and remembering the tragedy that happened, as if looking out there for the souls of the shipwrecked. Because hope is the last to die.
But the years passed. Children, grandchildren, and people remembering and loving them passed away. There were fewer and fewer guests lingering on their bench. The plumbing was out of order, the pool dried up, and the park became more and more unkempt. Finally, in 1995, work began on its reconstruction. To cut costs, it was decided to destroy the pool with water, and in its place to arrange a large flower bed. One can imagine how many times Lukeman would have turned over in his grave if he had learned this news. Thus, all his ideas, charm and poetic basis of the monument evaporated along with the water, which was its main component. And this internal discrepancy is immediately apparent. Since it is difficult to understand what the nymph is trying to make out there, in the depths of the flower bed.
Nonetheless, the New York Parks Authority continues to believe that the Isidore and Ida Strauss Memorial continues to be one of New York's most exciting and memorable landmarks. "
So, if you are in these places, be sure to approach him. Of course, memorial stones or flowers are inappropriate here. Your sincere admiration and admiration for the life and fate of these amazing people is enough. Those who managed to prove that the expression: "They lived happily and died on the same day" is not a literary cliché, but their real life.
Attraction address: Isidor and Ida Straus Memorial - Straus Park. West End Ave. &, W107th St, New York, NY 10025
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