Diglot: Albanian Burek, Arthur Avenue, the Bronx

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Arthur Avenue seems to be best known for its Italian epicurean delights, so I am surprised to discover a multitude of Eastern European shops and restaurants on this famous Bronx neighborhood avenue. Since I lived in Sarajevo, Bosnia for several weeks in 2001, I am particularly pleased and intrigued by the presence of this large, unexpected community. Susan and I spent a day visiting a Montenegrin sundry, a Kosovo bar and grill, an Albanian video store and finally the most welcoming, aromatic pizza parlor I have ever walked into in my life. I would imagine there must be at least ten Tony’s Pizza Parlors in New York City, but the Arthur Avenue Tony’s has a quality all its own. Fylip, the owner and kitchen wunderkind behind this Albanian community gathering spot, welcomes each and every customer inside this corner restaurant at the end of the avenue. Of course, we immediately smelled the spectacular scent of Burek meat, cheese and spinach pastries. Within seconds, however, our curiosity was piqued even further upon noticing the framed photos of Mother Theresa, the large statue bust of a notorious Albanian military leader, and the sounds of many Albanian women and men chattering in their native language. We were the strangers, the bewildered outsiders, and we knew right away that this would be the perfect place to create another mini-DIGLOT documentary. A few weeks after our initial visit, Susan and I returned to Tony’s Pizza to listen to the owner, his father and the two extraordinary cooks, all fairly recent Albanian emigrants, talk in English and their native language.


Open City: Fort Schuyler, The Bronx

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Fort Schuyler is a preserved 19th century fortification in the New York City borough of The Bronx, that houses a museum, and the Marine Transportation Department and Administrative offices of the State University of New York Maritime College. It is considered one of the finest examples of French-style fortifications. The fort was named in honor of Major General Philip Schuyler of the Continental Army. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fort Schuyler was one of many forts built along the east coast of the United States in the aftermath of the War of 1812 when it became brutally apparent that the US coast was poorly defended against foreign invasion. Fort Schuyler was dedicated in 1856 after only 75% completion, and was strategically positioned to protect New York City from naval attack through Long Island Sound; guarding the eastern entrance to New York Harbor. It is located at Throgs Neck in the southwest portion of the Bronx at a point where the East River meets Long Island Sound. Fort Totten faces it on the other side of the river. Their naval batteries created a bottle-neck of defenses against ships attempting to approach New York City. Fort Schuyler, at its peak, boasted 440 guns. Later, it would be fitted with various other pieces throughout the ever-modernization of coastal defense artillery, once including 10″ and 12″ naval guns on disappearing carriages installed on the roof and on the peninsula around the fort. Coastal artillery emplacements at the fort lasted until 1935.

Read full Wikipedia article >>

Visit the Maritime Industry Museum web site >>

Fort Schuyler

  • “Fort Schuyler, Bronx.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 4 Jul 2007, 21:18 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 25 Jul 2007.
  • Image courtesy of The State University of New York Maritime College, Stephen B. Luce Library. http://www.sunymaritime.edu.

Culm: Wave Hill, The Bronx

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The tippity top of The Bronx? no problem. Fieldston hill here I come.

First, i did a little research here: http://americasroof.com/nyc-bronx.shtml, then i discovered that, for some grand reason, a few members of the bourgeoisie have decided that the tippity top, the culmination, the highest point of the Bronx (with what I imagine will be the best view of the borough and beyond) –will be gated. Off limits. Inaccessible to proles like myself.

I found it ironic, but strangely typical. i debated risking what could have been my second trespassing conviction, (the first was a blueberry patch in upstate New York when i was 16) but my colleagues convinced me that there were other safer, legal alternatives…

I headed to the second highest point in the Bronx, Wave Hill: http://www.wavehill.org/about/history.html

It was beautiful, serene, and far enough away from the city to really feel outside of it (and only a half an hour north from grand central!). I had to keep reminding myself that it was the Bronx.

Before I arrived at Wave Hill park, I had to walk a bit from the train through a little town, which i thought of as a mini-suburbia, but not in that cookie cutter way. The trees were tall and each house was different.

At the park, the gardens were breathtaking, and the staff were helpful and informative. A young gardener pointed me to the highest point in the park – at the wild garden. In between shooting, I admired plant life I’d never encountered, watched bees do their busywork, and contemplated whether i could live this far outside of “the city.” In the end, i think i was sold…

Wave Hill, The Bronx

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I came across info on this very interesting place in The Bronx: Wave Hill, that may work for Culm.

It is one of the most famous hills in the bronx, although not the exact “culm” (which of course is Fieldston Hill) but there is a botanical garden at the top with apparently fabulous views of the Hudson.

More information here: