I finally finished the Avenues of the neighborhood and started walking the streets. It can be a tiring process since it is a nine block walk in the lower parts of the neighborhood. My first day in the Yorkville/Carnegie Hill section I covered everything from 96th Street to 90th Street. It also rained part of the afternoon which is no fun.
As much as it was a gloomy day, watching the kids let out of school that day boosted my energy. I forgot what it is like when a long day of school is over. These kids come out of the building with so much pent-up energy. All the laughing and yelling brought back a lot of good memories.
I took the Q back up to 96th Street and made a round about down FDR Drive to 92nd Street to start the walk. I knew I would not have time to do the whole neighborhood and wanted to break it up into two parts doing the neighborhood above 90th Street first.
As I turned the corner, I could feel the energy from the students who were leaving MS114 on 92nd Street for the afternoon. There was so much noise and excitement after a long day at school. It seems that this neighborhood is loaded with excellent schools both for high school and the lower grades as well.
Yorkville is home to many public and private schools. While walking around between 90th and 92nd Streets, the neighborhood is home to some of the best schools in the city. Hunter High School, The Dalton School, Nightingale-Bramford, Spence School and Chapin School are all located closer to Central Park. All of these schools have had excellent reputations since I was in high school in the eighties. Even the public schools in the neighborhood such as MS-114 have some of the best reputations in the New York City.
No matter the kids, they are still excited and noisy when they leave school and all have their cliques. They fill the smaller neighborhood restaurants and bodegas after school and yell at each other when crossing the street. It is a very lively neighborhood after 2:00pm in the afternoon between the students and the parents picking some of them up. It is nice to see parents who still give that independence to their kids to walk alone in the neighborhood with their friends. They travel in packs anyway. Ten to one these kids know how to handle themselves.
There is a nice pocket park at 92nd Street and Second Avenue to sit and relax. Located between the buildings on 92nd Street, it still has traces of the summer left with flowers blooming and the trees are still green. Its a nice place to take a breather and watch the neighborhood go by.
This is a neighborhood with a real family feel to it. Something I did not experience in the neighborhood before school started, when the streets were quiet as people were still on vacation but now that school is back in session, it has really changed. I can see by the amount of parents, both men and women, talking time out to pick up their children from school and talk with them on the way home that they are very involved in their children’s lives. Some of the conversations I overheard were a little mature for kids that age but I have always found the city kids to be a little more ‘hip’ to things than their suburban counterparts.
There are some great children’s stores in the area and loads of family friendly restaurants in the neighborhood. One store that I stopped at was La Librarie Des Enfants at 163 92nd Street. This quirky little bookstore sells the most unique French language children’s picture books with a small selection of American books. It reminded me of ‘Shop Around the Corner’ in the movie, “You got Mail”. Beautifully decorated with pretty displays and set up for the avid reader. The French salesman was very talkative to me and knows his merchandise. This is the perfect spot for local children and tourists looking for that unusual gift.
Another store that is a neighborhood staple is Children’s General Store at 168 East 91st Street near Second Avenue. This whimsical store is a hark back to when kids actually had an imagination and did not look at a cell phone all day. This is for the creative child who likes board games and arts & crafts, make believe castles and all the great little items that we as adults would call ‘stocking stuffers’. If I was a kid again, this is the first place I would visit. It has a great selection of toys for the young at heart.
As you walk the side streets of the neighborhood, you can see that on the Avenues of the neighborhood, brownstones are giving way to large newer apartment buildings but on the streets in between them are still elegant graceful brownstones lining the streets of the upper 90’s some of the most beautiful between Lexington and Park Avenues.
There are some beautiful wooden homes lining the streets between Lexington and Park Avenue on 92nd and 91st Streets from a day long ago. To see these buildings still standing and in perfect shape is a testament of the care they receive and how well they were built in the early 1800’s. All four of these homes have special plaques on them and you should take the time to admire the work on them. Their owners have kept them in excellent shape.
As I walked around the high 90’s by 1st, 2nd and FDR Drive around the Isaacs Housing, the area is being knocked down and rebuilt with more luxurious apartment buildings and stores to match. Here and there, there is still a sprinkling of stores and restaurants that cater to people in the housing projects but this area around the housing projects just keeps changing and getting more expensive. Like the rest of uptown that I walked, many people don’t seem to have a problem living across the street from the projects.
What the neighborhood has that caters to everyone is the amount of parks in the neighborhood. You have Central Park to the west, Carl Schurz Park to the East, Asphalt Green playground by York Avenue past 92nd Street as well as the Isaacs and the Seaburg playgrounds on 96th Street as well as a few pocket parks in the 90’s. There is plenty of places for kids to play sports or just hang out and enjoy the playgrounds. The public bathrooms do still need to be worked on in these parks.
The evening of the first night walking the streets of Yorkville, I ate at Timmy’s Restaurant on 91st and York (See review on TripAdvisor). It is a wonderful little neighborhood restaurant with outdoor seating and an extensive American menu across the street from Asphalt Green playground. I could hear the kids across the street playing soccer and screaming as they played.
The weather had finally cleared and it was a nice warm night out, perfect for sitting outside and enjoying the breeze. What had caught my eye on the menu was the fresh soft-shell sandwich that the restaurant was running as a special. It was excellent. A lightly breaded and fried soft shell crab on a soft brioche roll with lettuce and tomato and fresh French fries and onion rings on the side made the perfect meal.
The crab was sweet with the crunchiness of the perfect sauté. The service is friendly and very welcoming and I highly recommend the restaurant while it is still warm out. It is nice to just sit outside and watch the world go by.
I started my second day in the neighborhood by walking the streets between 90th and 84th Streets. The weather during these two weeks really changed. One day it was boiling hot at 90 degrees and the last day in the neighborhood, it went down into the 60’s as September moved into October. I have never seen such a drastic change in a week and a half.
After another day of working the Bread station at the Soup Kitchen, it was off to the lower section of Yorkville/Carnegie Hill. I walked the top part of 84th Street between Fifth Avenue and East End Avenue, admiring the brownstones and small parks along the way. It got to be that time of the day and school let out. I have never seen such a swarm of children before.
Walking this part of the neighborhood, I noticed more that there is a large concentration not just of private, public and religious schools but all of the seem to be the best of their categories. These are not just the best in their categories in the city but in the state and country as well. The neighborhood that stretches from 96th to 84th Streets has such a great variety of schools that would make the rest of the country envious.
As I have said on previous walks, the conversations between parents and kids are always interesting to hear. These school kids sound so much more mature than their age. These kids talk politics, sports and current events just as good as any adult.
The lower parts of the streets from about 85th to 87th Streets really show old New York at its best with rows and rows of majestic brownstones and old apartment houses. Some of these are starting to get decorated for the Fall holidays noting the change in weather and October approaching. Pumpkins and haystacks are starting to replace the summer wreaths and pots of flowers.
I started my tour of the neighborhood with a nice lunch at Arturo’s Pizza on the corner of York Avenue and 85th Street, 1610 York Avenue (See Review on TripAdvisor) for their lunch special. They have three really reasonable lunch specials until 3:30pm, one a meatball sub, another a sausage sub and the last being two slices with a Coke for $5.00. It was quite a deal.
The food is good but could be better. Yet they give you a nice size sub for $5.00. The meatball sub was loaded with fresh cut meatballs which were a nice size with tomato sauce on excellent fresh chewy bread. As big as it was it just did not have enough flavor. The sauce needed more spice and the meatballs more salt and cheese. It just did not taste like anything. It was the same two days later when finishing the walk of the neighborhood after a disastrous Chinese meal.
I had the two slice special and found the pizza to have no flavor because there was no zing to the sauce. It was also oily and should have been heated up more. The food here should be better since they seem to take pride in it. It warrants a third trip as the portion is worth the money when you are hungry. They do need to concentrate on their tomato sauce though and add some spice to it.
There are more great stores for kids in the lower part of the neighborhood as well. I passed Baby Bubble at 240 88th Street, which specializes in cleaning anything kid from strollers to clothes. I was impressed by the one stop shopping. Another great little store for young women is Let’s Dress Up at 345 East 85th Street #1. This is a place where you can princess for day and be treated like royalty at your own catered birthday party. Another clear idea for the creative child within.
When walking through the side streets between 85th to 87th Streets between York and Third Avenue, you really see ‘old New York’. Rows and rows of beautiful graceful brownstones line the street with their small outside gardens and potted plants. It is a step back in time to another era until you hit the Avenues and see the large modern apartment building.
I passed several fire stations along the way in the neighborhood. Engine 22; Ladder 13, Battalion 10 is located on 159 East 85th Street. The plaque on their fire station said that they had lost nine members on 9/11. These brave men sacrificed so much for us and still do every day making their neighborhood safe. Another old fashioned non-functioning firehouse is Hook & Ladder 13 at 159 East 87th Street. Founded in 1865 as a ‘suburban’ firehouse, this is not longer the firehouse for the company which has been moved. The company’s fame comes from being involved in the deadly explosion on Park Place in 1891. Kudos to these brave members of the FDNY.
As you continue down 87th Street, there is a creepy set of brownstones at 336 East 87th Street. The motifs on the outside of the building look like devils or ghouls and do give you the chills. It looks like a place where ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ lived when it grew up. I would love to pass these building on Friday the 13th or Halloween night.
I had to stop at Milano Market at 1582 Third Avenue on the corner of 87th Street and 3rd Avenue to cool down. The place is so beautifully set up and the prepared food section is picturesque. It is a nice place to just stand and take a breath. The place is heavily air conditioned and on a humid day, it is a great place to just walk around. The online reviews are not too pleasant for as good as their food is most of the reviews talk about rude service. I will have to go back and try it out to be fair on them.
Another place to chill out and relax on a hot day is the Church of the Holy Trinity garden at 316 East 88th Street near Second Avenue. This beautifully landscaped garden surrounded by shade trees is the perfect place to relax on a long day. It really does offer solitude from the city and is an escape from the rest of the landscape. It was still warm so the flowers were out and the trees offered a lot of shade.
Ruppert Park is the same located at Second Avenue between 90th and 91st Street. Named after the famous German Brewer Jacob Ruppert, the park is part of the tower complex that surrounds it. Mr. Ruppert was one of the first co-owners of the Yankees and co-owned Yankee Stadium.
This is a wonderful park to watch the dog walkers pass by and converse with one another. This is a true neighborhood park where neighbors talk and swap stories and debate politic, seniors come to relax and watch the neighbors go by and the dogs engage with one another. It is a great park for the dog walking set. I have never seen so many small pampered dogs walking around one neighborhood.
Another great place to visit is Henderson Place at East End Avenue across from Carl Schurz Park and between 86th and 87th Streets. This is part of the Henderson Place Historical District located facing the park is what is left of the original 32 houses (24 survive today) that were built between 1881-82. They were built for people of ‘moderate means’ meanwhile now these rare little townhouses with their arched hallways and small gardens and rare parking lots are now worth about $4.6 million when one went on sale recently. They were built in the Queen Ann style of architecture and look so elegant at night when walking on the park side of the street.
I stopped at Glaser’s Bakery at 1670 First Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC) and all I have to say is YUM! I love discovering new bakeries around the city especially one that has been around since 1902. Everything here is delicious and very reasonable. In this hyper-gentrifying city it is nice to see a piece of ‘old New York’ alive and well. Both afternoons I came here the place was mobbed.
The pastries are mind blowingly good! The first time I went I had to get one of their black and white cookies ($2.25) are the rage of the internet. Everyone was not kidding. They are excellent. Not the usual fondant icing but more of a butter cream frosting they literally melt in your mouth. They have this Danish called a Crumb Cookie ($3.25) that is loaded on top with sweet cinnamon crumbs and lots of icing on top. It is so big I had to bring the rest home. Their doughnuts ($1.50) are worth the trip alone. The jelly doughnuts are filled with a sweet currant type jelly and their sugar doughnuts are loaded with a layer of cinnamon sugar. Do not miss this bakery when visiting New York City.
On the opposite note, I ate dinner that day at Five Luck Chinese restaurant on 1834 Second Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) right near the new Q subway line. It was the worst Chinese meal I had ever eaten! I had no idea that food cooked by Chinese could be this bad. First the place is old and depressing to eat in and I have eaten at loads of these little hole in the wall restaurants all over the city. If anyone from China ate here, they would laugh and then cry it is that bad.
I ordered a Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce with fried rice with a pork Egg Roll. Now when I think of Shredded Pork with Garlic Sauce, I think of sliced pork loin sautéed with brown Hunan Sauce with garlic and ginger. I got this gloppy roast pork with a pile of uncooked vegetables with a side of yellow rice with a ton of bean sprouts in them. I had no clue what I was eating. I ate the egg roll and it was barely passable as a frozen egg roll.
The dish was worse than any middle school cafeteria version of Chinese food. I ate three bites on it and handed it back to them and said to the owner that it was inedible. Rather than fight over a dish that cost $4.85 or ask for anything else, I walked out and never looked back. Avoid this place like the plague. I went back to Arturo’s for their pizza.
I finished my last day of my three day trip relaxing in Carl Schurz Park. Mayor de Blasio must have been having a party because everyone in the park could hear the band. On this warm night every dog walker and child with a parent must have been in the park. Even at twilight, the place was mobbed as well as the river walk with people admiring the river views. It is still summer and I got a nice taste of it today. What a beautiful neighborhood to live in. This is a family’s dream.
Access to the neighborhood: The 6 & Q subways. Stop at 96th Street
Places to Visit:
Places to Eat: