What I love the most about New York City are its secrets. They’re on every corner waiting for you to trip over.
One day-Sunday, April 15th, 2012-you’re living your life, getting some groceries, minding your own business when suddenly you discover you live next door to a monument erected for Isador and Ida Straus, the famed couple who opted to go down with the Titanic together.
It is also the one-hundredth anniversary-to the day-the ship went down, so their great-great grandson is in front of the monument ready to give a speech.
We just moved into the neighborhood-we haven’t explored yet. Now we know, walk onto 106th St, cross Broadway, and there it is-a sweet little park with trees and benches and a statue of a woman who dips her toes into a fountain.
I’ve seen her before this day, but I missed what was engraved in gold behind her. It reads:
In Memory of Isidor and Ida Straus. Lovely and Pleasant Were they in their Lives. And in Their Death They Were Not Divided. Book 11 Samuel 1:23
Mr. Isador Straus owned Macy’s after Mr. Macy passed away. He turned it into what you see on 34th St. today-for the most part. Needless to say, he earned a pretty penny from that particular venture.
When the Titanic sank, the men-even the wealthiest, even Isador Straus-helped get the women and children into the life boats first. Mrs. Ida Straus refused to leave her husband’s side and gave her place on the life boat-along with her fur coat-to her maid, Ellen Bird. Mrs. Straus is quoted as saying to her husband, “We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go.” What a refreshing and romantic reminder of what life was like before the Real Housewives franchise.
Nonetheless, they were last seen in deck chairs, holding hands until the ship went down.
About a year after their deaths, their house on 105th and Broadway-a rural area then-was sold, torn down and replaced with the apartment building still there today.
On the ground level of that building is our very favorite neighborhood restaurant, Henry’s.
Above-the Straus Memorial dedication, almost one hundred years ago.
featured image: amny.com