Recently we visited Manitoga, a National Historic Landmark that is the studio and home of industrial designer Russel Wright. A prime advocate of what has been called “Livable Modernism,” Wright, with the aid of his wife, Mary, became one of the most influential and well-known designers of the 1930s to 1950s. His pottery, tableware, and furniture brought Modernism to the American masses (quite literally: his most popular line of pottery and one of his furniture lines were both named American Modern).
Together, they wrote the 1950 manifesto Guide to Easier Living which promoted radical ideas like “buffet suppers, one-pot meals, portable seating and lots of double-duty storage…They may be the inventors of modern grad student storage: wooden shelves on cinder blocks hidden behind a curtain” (Alexandra Lange, “Easier Living, By Design”, The New York Times July 23, 2010).
Manitoga came later in his career. He and Mary purchased the land in the Hudson Highlands north of New York City around 1942 and spent many years modifying the landscape, including turning an abandoned quarry pit into a swimming pond complete with a waterfall.
They lived in a cottage (still standing, but not part of the Landmark) next to the quarry. It was not until several years after Mary’s death in 1952 that Russel began building the house and studio (designed with architect David Leavitt). It was completed in 1960 and Russel lived there with his daughter Annie and her governess/housekeeper until his death in 1976.
Dragon Rock is a rare instance of Mr. Wright contradicting his theory of “easier living,” — his daughter, Anne, recalls arduous hours spent vacuuming the rocks and keeping all 11 levels in some semblance of order.
Richard Horn, “Collecting Russel Wright” The New York Times August 23, 1979.
An interesting article on the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus), which faced extinction but has so far survived. Analysis of its genome implies a relatively large population about 1 million years ago followed by a decline in population around 10,000 years ago (or very roughly, the end of the Pleistocene). Note that the techniques used do not allow an estimation of recent (less than 10,000 years) population history.
For a species that was briefly extinct in the wild, the California condor has unexpectedly high genome-wide diversity
our results show that the turkey vulture was historically less abundant than the California condor, though it is the most abundant and wide-ranging New World vulture today.
Though the history of the California condor shows evidence of past decline, it retains a high degree of ancestral variation and, perhaps, the potential for future adaptation. As exemplified by the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) and Carolina parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis), high genetic diversity is by no means a barrier to extinction, but the variation present in the California condor is nonetheless reassuring. The species continues to repro- duce naturally and expand its range in the wild
With an elevation of about 200 feet, it’s not much of a mountain, but the lakes were created over a century ago to produce ice. In 1914, you could buy 100 pounds of ice for 30 cents from the Princeton Ice Company.
Most of the trails are for hikers only, but there are paved multi-use paths around the edge of the park, a road leading up to Palmer Lake, and a single unpaved trail for bikes that crosses over the outflow for the lake.
Cameras can cost $500 or more, but for the beginning backyard camera-trapper, it’s not necessary to spend that much.
Likewise, skip the low end. “It’s probably better to spend a little more,” Ms. Naser said, “like $125 to $175 per camera, rather than the $50 models whose results won’t be as satisfying, and that aren’t as durable.”
Photos from a ride a couple months ago. The lake was created in 1906 by Andrew Carnegie so that the Princeton University crew team would have a place to practice their rowing. It is parallel to but separate from the Delaware & Raritan Canal. The Lake Carnegie Historic District, like the canal, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
I’ve been in New Jersey a long time, but had never made it to High Point State Point. Up in the northwest corner and very close to both New York and Pennsylvania, the park surrounds, not surprisingly, the highest point in New Jersey. The obelisk was built in 1930 and is 220 feet high.