ABOUT NEW YORK; When East Met West and Walking Around Led to Brooklyn
Published: February 24, 1993
"I can honestly say I really know where I am," Ms. Cooke said in the cozy and sweet-smelling ground-floor kitchen of her 1878 house on the periphery of Brooklyn Heights.
Upstairs, her second husband, Michael Wallace, a history professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was working on a manuscript. Her own book of walking tours of New York City has just been issued by Temple University. Now she is hoping to put together a video series describing issues of city life like immigration, racial division and gentrification in their historical contexts. She has lectured on the social history of New York and organized walking tours.
About a month ago she was at a party where there were many local history buffs. "At one point," she recalled, "I was introduced to a young man who, as he shook my hand, blurted out, 'Oh you're Hope Cooke, the Hope Cooke? Hope Cooke, the walking tour guide?' It made me so happy. It was a real turning point."
Over the last 30 years there had been so many other introductions drawing responses, spoken or silent, that were very different. Hope Cooke? Oh, yes, the New York debutante, the Sarah Lawrence student, the one who met and married the heir to the throne of that tiny kingdom tucked between Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India. Wasn't she the Grace Kelly of the Himalayas who in 1963 went to live in a palace in Gangtok as the bride of the Chogyal, a man revered by his subjects as the reincarnation of an ancient Buddhist holy man?