City Scapes-Learning your ABC’s New York style …

Would you like to know how we city folk learn our ABC’s and 1.2.3’s ?

That’s simple. We attend the largest and the best school system in the world. Yes, yes … I’m bragging again. Not only the best in the United States or in the Western Hemisphere, it is the largest and best collection of institutions of learning in the world.


Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library.

Education in New York City is provided by a vast number of public and private institutions. The city’s public school system, the New York City Department of Education, is the largest in the world, and New York is home to some of the most important libraries, universities, and research centers in the world. The city is particularly known as a global center for research in medicine and the life sciences. (A  direct quote from the on-line encyclopedia, Wikipedia.  )


Fordham University‘s Keating Hall in the Bronx.

My brothers and I came from blue collar dreamers who worked the docks and factories in Brooklyn’s Bush Terminal … the place where the next generation of doers and thinkers were born.

We would be the generation to graduate high school and praise to the Lord, attend college. We would be the generation that would change the face of the middle class for decades.

People have traveled thousands of miles and come to our shores from hundreds of countries to sample a bit of freedom, to take a bite from the Big Apple, and to get the best education available anywhere.

We have the only Puerto Rican college in the US, Boricua College, and the first and largest Hebrew University, Yeshiva University. There are colleges for criminal justice, law, medicine and the arts. A full college curriculum is taught at The Julliard School, undoubtedly the best music school in the world.

There are ivy league schools, private elitists schools, the dozens of colleges and universities under the banner of CUNY (City University of New York) and SUNY (State University of New York) with its dozens more colleges and universities in every county in the state.

Fashion, art, photography, engineering, dance, journalism … it is a dazzling plethora of choices that can captivate the most reluctant student.


The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

brooklyn college

The clock tower at Brooklyn College  

I am fortunate to boast of going to one of the best high schools in NY, located in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, and through my first year of graduate school, I attended every institution of learning for zippo … yes my entire education from first grade through college was free.

I am particularly fond of libraries. They are also free.

And New York  boasts of some of the best and largest archival and research libraries fully available to the public.

Since most of my City-Scapes are to show you the marvelous places you can see and learn about in New York, if and when you get to visit her … I’ll give you a short itinerary.

You can take the double deck Red buses and get on and off at several locations. On one tour you will be left at the feet of the most famous lions in the world. The stone lions at the Main Library on Fifth Avenue and 43rd Street.

Directly on Fifth Avenue and where more than a thousand TV shows and movies have been filmed, are the twin lions in front of the this famous building.



It is a work of classic architecture outside and of masterful design inside. Stained or beveled glass, solid wood inlaid, towering windows and long, luscious wooden tables. This branch has a very small lending department because most of their books are only for reading and viewing while in the building.

Some of their books are so rare that decades ago, they were taken from the harsh oils and shoot of the human finger and stored in hermetically sealed cases. Thousands of rare books and research materials have been scanned and were at first available on micro-fiche and now on CD in PDF files you can read for free.

main library

A research room at the main branch of the New York Public Library in Manhattan.

 If you wish to travel by train, bus or taxi … ride to the Main Brooklyn Library. Remember Brooklyn is the fourth largest city in the country and the most popular of all the five boroughs (Sorry Bronx).

grand army plaza

Grand Army Plaza, the oval at the main entrance of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, was meant to provide a wide and picturesque approach to the park, which park designer Calvert Vaux (1824–1895) considered a vital design element. The Plaza was one of the first features of Prospect Park to be built and marks the beginning of the Eastern Parkway (1866), the world’s first parkway, also designed by Vaux and his partner Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903). The parkway’s intended purpose was to connect the City’s parks with ornamental roads free of commercial traffic

grand army library

Grand Army Plaza Library

The Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is one of Brooklyn’s best Modernist buildings. What many people don’t realize is that this building represents the finished product of a library building begun in 1908. Brooklyn architect Raymond Almirall was commissioned to build a Beaux-Art classical style building that would complement the Arch, the entrance to the park, and the Brooklyn Museum. (From one of Brooklyn’s best blogs: The Brownstoner where you can read the rest of this fascinating post.)

And while you are at the Grand Army Plaza Library, take a stroll across the Plaza, and walk into one of the entrances to Prospect Park, where in the interior at the center is Brooklyn’s only forest known as the Ravine District. That is a treat that deserves its own post.

learning can be funFrom Digital Free:

I trust we all believe that learning can be fun, and some of the best of it can be had for free, no money needed, just a small credit sized card with your name and address and the curiosity and love of books … the key to the true magic kingdom and my always true love … the library.

Did you attend rural, suburban or urban schools? 

And what was your favorite part about learning your ABC’s ?

fOIS In The City



Filed under City Scapes

16 responses to “City Scapes-Learning your ABC’s New York style …

  1. What a fabulous post. New York is top of my wish list for places to visit one day and this is a side of it I hadn’t even considered. Another wonderful and beautiful side to an amazing city. Thanks for the view!


    • You are so very welcome, Rebecca. Growing up and as an adult, I loved taking family and friends who came from out of town or across the ocean on a tour of Manhattan and Brooklyn. And I always made sure to take them to places that are not on the tourist guides. Hope you get there some day. You’ll love it 🙂


  2. Thanks for the virtual tour of NY’s educational and literary offerings. It seems my travel plans may include a month or so in and around some of the places you write about. I’m staying long enough to see everything both on and off Broadway that I want to see.


    • Sheri, that’s a wonderful idea. When that day comes, let me know and I’ll send you an off-the-beat-and-track guide to my favorite haunts. And speaking of haunts and Broadway … did you know that Broadway theatres have some of the most animated and famous ghosts? Ha, that would be a lark 🙂


  3. Love this tour of New York’s schools and libraries. This is a view impossible to attain as a visitor. So much magnificence. So much pride and shooting for the stars.


  4. I’m learning so much about NY from these, Florence…I spent just a weekend there, and only caught the top tourist stuff….

    Keep up the good work – you’re educating ME!


    • Hey Laura … wouldn’t it be a blast if we were there at the same time? Who knows what is in store for us in the future. Either way, I do hope you get to go back and spend more time … she is well worth it 🙂


  5. I adore old libraries – the feel of them, the smell, the muted hush when the ceilings are way, way up there. Unfortunately, due to retrofitting problems here in the San Francisco bay area, our old, old library in my small city has been shut down and a new one constructed. Don’t like it that much. I would love to have even one of the libraries you describe near me. Thanks Florence, for the tour.


    • Patti, there is something magical about the old fashioned libraries. So many of the small ones have been closed due to budget cuts that it breaks my heart. As a lover of books, you would truly love to visit either of those two main libraries in New York City and Brooklyn. Thanks so much 🙂


  6. christicorbett

    I dream of the day I can afford to visit New York, and have you as my guide! But, in the meantime, these posts are the best way to get to know the “real” New York…through your eyes.

    Keep them coming!

    Christi Corbett


    • Christi, what I would love to do is get a bus load of my readers and give them the best darn tour of my city they could ever dream of … then I wake up. Who knows what’s in store for us … glad you love this series 🙂


  7. Florence,

    Thank you for giving me these glimpses of the educational and library system as you used it and loved it. Ahh, New York…

    I know I was reading the comic strips by the time I was 3 so I must have learned my ABCs before that. Though I don’t have any specifics. Since I lived outside the town when I was little and kindergarten wasn’t required, I didn’t go but I remember reading books before I entered first grade. My mother was a teacher before she married and after she had her last child she taught again. I’m quite sure I learned to read from her.


  8. I recognize those lions. 🙂 I love the enthusiasm I can hear in your words.

    I attended a small rural school in the same district K-12. I left home but not state to attend universities for undergrad and grad work. All were public institutions. As much as I love school, I don’t see myself continuing past my master’s deg.

    That’s so cool that attended at no cost. I look at the loan debt of most college students in my state and shutter.


    • Brinda, there is something very special about rural schools where a small number of students follow each other for thirteen years. How amazing.

      And the “no tuition” for City College ended three decades ago 🙂


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