What Does Biking Have to Do With Edward Hopper?

Good morning. It’s Friday. We’ll find out about a 60-mile round-trip bike ride celebrating the artist Edward Hopper. We’ll also get details on a $13 million settlement that the city is paying protesters who accused the police of unlawful tactics during protests after George Floyd’s killing.

A sketch of a cyclist by Edward Hopper from 1895-99. Credit…Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper/Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The artist Edward Hopper had a thing for bicycles, bicyclists and bicycling — a fascination, certainly, and maybe even an obsession. He had his own state-of-the-art two-wheeler when state of the art meant a steel frame and tires with wooden rims. In middle age he attended round-the-clock bicycle races at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.

The art curator Kim Conaty also has a thing for bicycles — and swimming and running, having thrown herself into more than 15 triathlons. She has a thing for Hopper, too: She was the curator of “Edward Hopper’s New York,” the recent exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Her interests in Hopper and cycling will — pardon the expression — collide on Saturday, which the Whitney is calling “Happy Hopper Day” because it would have been Hopper’s 141st birthday. Conaty will celebrate by taking part in a 60-mile round-trip ride from the Whitney, at 99 Gansevoort Street in the meatpacking district, to Hopper’s birthplace, the Edward Hopper House and Museum in Nyack, N.Y.

Saturday is shaping up as another hot day, with temperatures in the mid-80s even in the early morning, when the ride is to begin. The Whitney will give the riders water bottles before they leave. (There is a registration fee. The ride, organized with the biking group OutCycling, the Meatpacking Business Improvement District and the Hopper house in Nyack, is limited to 100 cyclists.)

They will pedal north on the Greenway along the Hudson River, cross the George Washington Bridge and follow Route 9W to Nyack.

“The first time that I did this ride was probably 15 years ago,” Conaty recalled. “I was not a serious cyclist at the time, but I had new friends who were going to do this, and we were looking to have an adventure. We got on our mountain bikes — that’s what I had, I didn’t have anything else at that point, and I don’t advise it. This is a road ride. You don’t need the traction of mountain bike tires or the suspension.”

It was not a ride Hopper took, though he cycled beyond Nyack when he was young, she said. After he moved to the city, “it would have been different to haul his wooden frame bike up multiple flights of stairs to his apartment.”

And a wooden bike might not have handled the bumps on the way to or from Nyack. “It makes you realize how much better your equipment is today,” she said.

There was another reason Hopper could not have followed the route for Saturday’s trip: “A big part of this is crossing the George Washington Bridge, which was not opened until 1931,” Conaty said. “By then he was almost 50. He was not doing this ride.”

Still, Hopper kept up with cycling in middle age, when six-day bike races at Madison Square Garden packed in the fans. And in the same way that he reimagined so many New York scenes on canvas, Hopper painted “French Six-Day Bicycle Rider” in 1937, depicting an exhausted racer on the sidelines, sitting on a bench between bicycles.

The six-day races were grueling, round-the-clock endurance contests, Conaty said, with riders handing off to teammates and sleeping “right there on the track.” Describing one such race a few years before Hopper painted the French rider, The New York Times said there were “frequent bursts of wild riding” and “spills aplenty to thrill the crowd.”

No wonder: As Nathalie Lagerfeld wrote on Atlas Obscura, the competitors couldn’t tap the brakes to avoid a collision — their bikes didn’t have any. They had to grab the front wheel to stop.

Hopper apparently relished the spectacle at the Garden. His wife, Josephine, noted in letters from 1935 that he was spending a lot of time at the rides, “watching people go around and around,” Conaty said. “It was mostly that it was a waste of time and that he should be spending his time painting. That was the idea.”

Hopper went to the Garden by himself. “That’s right,” Conaty said. “In our archive, we often have pairs of tickets — for the theater, his ticket and Jo’s. For the six-day ride, just a single ticket.”


Prepare for showers and thunderstorms persisting through the evening, with high temperatures near the low 80s. At night, temps will drop to around the high 60s.


In effect until Aug. 15 (Feast of the Assumption).

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New York City arrives at a $13 million settlement over police actions at George Floyd protests

Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

New York City is paying more than $13 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that cited that unlawful police tactics had violated the rights of nearly 1,400 people in protests in New York that followed George Floyd’s killing three years ago in Minneapolis.

If approved by a judge, the settlement would resolve one of the more significant cases that emerged from the protests in the city, where there were mass arrests. A stipulation of the settlement stated that the city would pay $9,950 to each of about 1,380 people who “were arrested and/or subjected to force by N.Y.P.D. officers” at 18 locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, who are associated with the left-leaning National Lawyers Guild, said the total payout would be the largest ever allotted to protesters. (In 2013, the city settled hundreds of claims by people who said they had been wrongly arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention in Manhattan. Some $10.3 million went to those who had been taken into custody. Another $7.6 million went to lawyers’ fees.)

The Police Department referred a request for comment to the city’s Law Department, which did not immediately respond. The settlement agreement stated that the defendants denied having a pattern or practice that stripped anyone of his or her rights.

Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer set off nationwide outrage over police brutality as the Black Lives Matter movement pointed to injustices and people joined marches that filled streets and highways.

Sabrina Zurkuhlen, one of the plaintiffs in the class-action suit, joined a march on the West Side Highway on June 2, 2020. When marchers were confronted by a line of police officers that stretched across the road near Vesey Street, Zurkuhlen began walking backward while recording the scene with her phone. The lawsuit stated that an officer pointed at her and lunged, knocking the phone out of her hands. The suit also said that he struck her with a baton as he tackled her, and that other officers beat and kicked her.

That summons was later dismissed, according to the lawsuit. Zurkuhlen never got her phone back.


No room

Dear Diary:

I was on a crowded elevator at the 72nd Street Q train station on my way up to the street on a recent evening.

The woman standing next to me was holding a lovely bouquet.

“Nice flowers!” I said.

“Yeah,” she replied. She was dressed casually, in a blouse, jeans and sneakers. “I got married today.”

Everyone in the elevator came alive.

“Congratulations,” one person said.

“Wow!” said another.

“That’s great,” someone else said.

“Where’s the groom?” I asked.

“Oh, this elevator was full,” the woman said. “So he got into the next one.”

— Ellen L. Mausner

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you on Monday. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Melissa Guerrero, Colin Moynihan and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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