Best Perch (2008)

Mount Morris Fire Watchtower

Renamed after Back to Africa proselyte Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) in 1973, the Dutch called the 20.2-acre park "Slangberg," or Snake Hill, due to its profusion of reptiles. Its 47-foot cast-iron structure, the Mount Morris Fire Watchtower, with its 10,000-pound bell, was once one of a network of 11 towers—City Hall being the chief fire alarm—and is the only one of its kind in the U.S., a marvel of then-revolutionary technology that served as a prototype for skyscrapers. Historical ballyhoo aside, the long-defunct landmark, once the perch of Fire Department sentries, is an ideal, natural study for weird holy men, alchemists, and stargazers of the sort you discover in J.A. Rogers tomes.


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