I put aside “MywalkinManhattan” for the weekend to concentrate of Pump Operations Classes that was sponsored by the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. I have been a Volunteer Firefighter for thirteen years (as of June 12th) and this is one of of the many classes I have taken over the years.
First off, I am hardly ‘Joe Fireman’. Most of my friends wanted to know why ‘preppie’ me wanted to be a fireman. The answer to that was easy. I think it had always been a part of me. At a young age, I used to look up to the firemen who used to come visit us in elementary school. Then it was looking at the Richard Scary comics on professions that you might want to be when you got older. I remember looking at the artist, chef and fireman motifs on the cats and wondering what they would all be like (which I do and have done all three).
9/11 changed a lot for me. When I was working in Monterey, California during the tragic events of that day, I saw the bravery and dedication in the guys on the FDNY had and all the volunteers that came the days after. I wrote about my fears and triumphs in my novel, “Firehouse 101” (IUniverse.com 2005). It was funny that just as I was publishing the book, I joined the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ as a member. Here I am thirteen years later still dragging myself out of bed all the time for calls.
Getting back to Pump Operations Training, this was the first time I ever really learned how to do this. I had seen it on drills but not to this detail where we talked about hose connections, velocity of pressure of the hose and drafting. This was a combination of both lecture and practical and we participated in hooking everything up to the engine and how to turn the equipment on and off. The second of practical, we drafted water into the engine from a local pond to learn how to get the pressure, pull water from a water source and how to flow it through the engine to the fire.
It was a three day eye-opener that got the ‘light-bulb’ in my head moving to how the operation worked and the cause and effects of water to the source of the fire.
I decided to take a long walk up Fifth Avenue from the Chelsea when I finished at Soup Kitchen today. I was exhausted from working in the prep kitchen again. I don’t know why I just don’t skip it and concentrate on the walk but I am very proud to say that I have achieved one of my goals there.
I have exceeded the 2000 hour volunteer threshold. That was a big accomplishment for me as I reached the 1000 hour threshold back in 2011 ( I made the 500 hour threshold in 2007 since joining the Soup Kitchen as a volunteer in 2003). In the old days, that would have meant a silver bowl on accomplishment. Now it means just cut more vegetables and meat.
I got off to a late start on a somewhat gloomy day but it was still warm out and gave me time to really walk the border of the neighborhood. Since I had already done Fifth Avenue, both sides from East 59th Street to East 72nd Street, I decided to walk to East 72nd Street along Fifth again facing the park.
The park is finally coming to life after a cool Spring. It has been odd weather lately. It is either unbearably hot or cloudy and cool. We even had snow in parts of Northern New Jersey three weeks ago. That was really odd this time of year. Now that it is May, Central Park is starting to burst with color and the daffodils and tulips are coming out ahead of their New Jersey counterparts. Flowers always seem to bloom quicker in the park than in the suburbs.
I walked from Fifth Avenue across East 72nd Street past many of the buildings that I had seen before and even in a month, there are some new businesses opening up in the lower 70’s and more buildings slated to come down. As I had commented before, all of the Avenues of the Upper East Side are in a somewhat state of flux. You never know which block will come down next and be replaced by something else.
As I entered East 72nd Street to the end of the street by FDR Drive, it stops in front of those interesting brownstones painted black, which makes them stand out and the dead end with the scenic view and benches right by the hospital. These interesting brick buildings built in 1894 were once tenements and renovated in the 1940’s. You have to turn around and go up two blocks to walk along the Promenade by FDR Drive. You have to walk up to East 74th Street get to the bridge to get you across to the walkway.
The “Black and White’s” tenements now luxury housing at East 72nd Street
There is a small amount of sidewalk between East 74th Street and East 72nd Street but please don’t walk it! There is barely enough room to walk and you are about a foot from the highway and these cars zoom by. Don’t make the attempt! Just walk up the two blocks and you will walk twenty blocks of skyline on Roosevelt Island. On a beautiful day, there is nothing like the view of the East River as the boats pass by.
Once crossing the passage over the FDR Drive, you can walk along the East River on a beautiful day while admiring the buildings on Roosevelt Island. Once you reach the end of it, you are greeted by the ‘East River Roundabout’, a park that ends the walkway for now as the rest of the park project is being completed between East 58th and East 60th Streets.
Look up at the spiral structure above the park that was created by artist, Alice Aycock, an American artist known for her large metal sculptures and was an early artist in the ‘land art’ movement (Wiki). The ‘East River Roundabout’, her 1995 sculpture sits aside the Queensboro Bridge, shows much creative imagination and whimsical ideas of how space can used. Take time to follow the twists and turns, almost like a roller coaster was inspired by the artist’s love of Fred Astaire’s dancing of almost weightless motion.
‘East River Roundabout’
The structure is part of the bigger complex of Andrew Haswell Green Park, which was dedicated to the city in 1994. The park represented much needed green space in this part of Manhattan. The park is currently in transition as there is more being added to it but after a long walk down the East River, it has nice benches and flowers and a good place to relax. The flowers were just coming into bloom so it look beautiful.
Andrew Haswell Green Park
Andrew Haswell Green, whom the park is named after, was a 19th Century Urban Planner who among his many accomplishments was one of the key figures in getting such iconic tourist attractions as Riverside Park, Central Park, the Bronx Zoo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. He was even the inspiration for the 1898 consolidation of the five boroughs of New York (Wiki). I think that deserves a park being named after him.
The former heliport and waste transfer station is becoming a thing of beauty in a much congested area of the neighborhood. As you walk down East 59th Street, you will see how the bridge twists and turns its way around the street. The is some beautiful art work attached to the bridge so try not to miss that. Just don’t try walking on the bridge side of the road as there is no sidewalk and I would not risk the traffic.
To your right starts famous Sutton Place, where most of ‘Old New York Society’ moved after all the old mansions came down. From a distance, you can see all the elegant apartment buildings. To the north of it, the ‘ever changing to new buildings’ York Avenue, in which blocks uptown is going through a building boom.
When passing Second Avenue and East 59th Street, you pass Tramway Plaza, a small park that leads to the Roosevelt Island Tram. This is a trip on a nice day you should not miss (See my review on it on TripAdvisor and on ‘Day Ninety-Five’ of MywalkinManhattan.com).
The view is amazing especially the sky views as you enter Manhattan from Roosevelt Island. The views of the skyline are fantastic and it is an amazing trip on a sunny day.
Tramway Park at Second Avenue and East 59th Street
I had to stop at Bloomingdale’s on the corner of Third Avenue and East 59th Street for a bathroom break. It is one of the few places until you hit Central Park to go to the bathroom in the neighborhood.
Bloomingdale’s New York City 1000 Third Avenue
The store has changed so much over the years but I still remember it as the place I had my first epiphany of what I wanted to do for a living. It was 1980 and I was a sophomore in high school and went with my mother and my family to see the “China at Bloomingdale’s” festival event. When I walked in the store and saw all the beautiful merchandise and Chinese dancers on the top of display cases, Chinese music and artifacts in the display cases, I knew I wanted to be in retailing.
The store no longer resembles that moment and in fact tries to be more like Saks Fifth Avenue. Still the store has a soft spot for me and I still love roaming the floors at the holidays. Plus they have several floors of public bathrooms and you don’t want to miss Forty Carrots, their casual restaurant on the top floor for frozen yogurt.
Forty Carrots at Bloomingdale’s New York 1000 Third Avenue
As I exited Bloomingdale’s, I walked the rest of East 59th Street to Central Park and then the length of Central Park West to Columbus Circle and back to Plaza Hotel the around the southern tip of Central Park. The weather started to get gloomy but I continued on.
Most of the livery cabs I passed were standing around gossiping with one another. They are getting more and more expensive. A ride for $100? You have got to be kidding me. I am not surprised that the tourists are balking at this. You just don’t see them as busy as they once were.
I took the long trip now back up East 59th Street and walked back up the way I came, passing the all the sites but from the other side of East 59th Street. There are some interesting restaurants and shops I will have to explore while by the underneath path of the Queensboro Bridge. They seemed to have taken the underpart of the bridge and renovated it.
As I walked up the path facing the East River, I could see further up the river to all the areas I explored and though. I really have covered half the island at this point.
I reached East 72nd Street and with plenty of time to spare, I walked through Central Park and over to the Upper West Side. There were some places that I still wished to explore and I wanted to find that elusive brownstone by the American Museum of Natural History that I wanted to admire again. I found it at 233 West 83rd Street. Really admire the entrance way of the house.
To finish the day off, I visited Malachy’s Donegal Inn bar on 103 West 72nd Street (See TripAdvisor reviews and my blog “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for dinner. I had wanted to try the restaurant one more time before leaving the neighborhood. It was a busy night at the bar with the NBA playoffs and a room full of Boston ex-patriots cheering on the Celtics. I never knew what people from Boston who now live in New York City think of New York City. They were still talking about the Yankee-Red Sox games of 2004. Fourteen years still does not make a difference. It was a great series though.
Malachy’s Donegal Inn at 103 West 72nd Street
I sat quietly in the corner eating my dinner. The one thing that I love about Malachy’s is that the food is so reasonable and they give you a nice size meal. I had their Chicken Fingers and Chips ($8.95 plus Cokes-two large breaded cutlets and about a pound of French Fries) which were really good but the chicken could have been taken out of the fryer amount thirty seconds earlier. Otherwise, I could just about finish my meal it was so big. With about five Cokes in me after about a five mile walk, I started to feel much better. You can always feel the vibe of this bar. Just like ‘Cheers’, the regulars really do size you up.
The inside of Malachy’s bar
So this finished the border of the lower part of the Upper East Side and the middle part of the Upper West Side, so join me as I walk the Streets and Avenues of the lower part of the Upper East Side.
I put “MywalkinManhattan” on hold for a few days as the local activities in New Jersey started to take up my time. There is so much to see and do as the weather is getting warmer.
The Northwest Bergen History Coalition every year gives people the opportunity to visit almost a dozen different historical sites in the upper part of Bergen County, NJ and take the time to tour and explore all the sites with the help of trained docents and volunteers who take immense pride in showing off their site all for the low price of $10.00 ($15.00 the day of the event). Be prepared to drive though because all the sites can be a distance from one another. Also, have a a game plan because there is no way you can see everything in one day. You will only have from 10:00am-4:00pm so plan to visit the remaining sites at another time.
This year’s theme was “How Immigration & the Railroad Shaped our Towns”, so all the exhibits were on the immigration of the area and how it shaped the individual town’s population.
“The towns in Northwest Bergen County were settled in the 18th Century by immigrants from countries in Europe and Africa. Through the centuries the number of countries grew. Today, we have been enriched by immigrants from all over the world. The railroad came to Northwest Bergen in the mid-19th century, bringing with it jobs, prosperity and immigrants. Come see how immigrants and the railroad helped to define what would become our modern towns of today.” was the prospective of the days event.
Since I had toured most of the historic homes and museums to the south of the region, I planned my day to the northern part of the county. I bought my ticket way in advance at the Ridgewood Schoolhouse Museum (featured on my blog, “VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com and reviewed on TripAdvisor) when I was viewing the “Thread of Life” exhibition, which you should not miss that is showing through December of 2018. It explores life of the era’s family life through clothing.
I planned an early morning and started my Saturday at the Majestic Diner at 1045 Route 17 South in Ramsey, NJ. This way I would be close to my first site, The Old Stone House in Ramsey, NJ. The food at the Majestic Diner I would highly recommend because I really enjoyed my breakfast there.
The Majestic Diner at 1045 Route 17 South
The diner does all their baking on premise and I had one of their homemade ‘Pop-Tarts’ ($3.75) to start the meal. These freshly baked pastries resemble their commercial counterparts. The outside was a flaky pastry crust with a thick white icing and a powdering of cinnamon and the inside was loaded with a thick layer of a cinnamon mixture. Decadent yes but well worth it. You have to try this version of the sweet treat.
Don’t miss their freshly baked ‘Pop-Tarts”
Breakfast itself match in creativity and quality. I ordered the Brioche French Toast with a side of homemade sausage. The one thing I liked about the Majestic Diner is that the portion sizes are not huge and over-whelming. It was just the right amount for breakfast. The French Toast was made out of brioche and it was perfect (See review on TripAdvisor).
Their Brioche French Toast is excellent
They cooked it with a crisp outside and soft inside. As I was eating, I saw the omelettes going by and that was for another time. What was nice about breakfast was that it kept me content for the rest of the afternoon. There would be a lot of running around.
The Majestic Diner is a nice place to start your day of touring Bergen County
My first stop was at The Old Stone House at 538 Island Road in Ramsey, NJ (See review on VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). This obscure little Dutch home sits on a bend on a hill hidden by trees off a very busy section of Route 17 South and by looking at it, you never would have guessed that it was once home to a 300 acre farm. This is the oldest building in Ramsey and was built from a combination of rubble stone, clay mortar, chopped straw and hog’s hair. The home dates back to 1740 and is run by the Ramsey Historical Society (RHS).
The Old Stone House
The house is credited to being built by members of the Westervelt family for brothers Uriah and Ruloff Westervelt, who leased the land in 1744. There is a feeling that there had been a house on the property at the time they leased the land. The land had been part of the Ramapough Tract for Proprietors. Other members of the Westervelt family are though to have had influence in the building of the house as well maybe back earlier (RHS).
The Ramapough tract situated between the Ramapo Mountains and Saddle River was purchased from the Indians on November 18,1709 and acknowledged by the Indians at Tappan before Cornelius Harring, the Justice of the Peace (RHS).
The Ramapough Tract
The house had been through many owners since and the land around it diminished over time with each owner. In 1950, the building of Route 17 South, made the lot even smaller and destroyed the spring and stream that were once part of the land around the house. Both the Schweizer family and the Labosky families, who were the last two owners of the house, which the Labosky family sold to the state in 1955, operated an antique shop that is now part of the house that faces Route 17 (RHS).
The house is furnished in period furniture and the barn outside is stocked with all sorts of equipment for early Dutch farming from the era. When you tour the house with the historians, they will point out where the fireplaces once were and the original wooden floors that line the house. Upstairs where the bedrooms once were are both Children’s displays of an old schoolhouse and a toy exhibition. In the downstairs area, there are two displays to the War Years and the old antique shop is set up like a general store. The sites next big fundraiser will be the Sinterklaas event in December for a Dutch Christmas.
Old Stone House Barn
My second stop of the historical tour was the Hopper-Goetschius House and Museum at 363 East Saddle River Road in Upper Saddle River, NJ, run by the Upper Saddle River Historical Society (USRHS). This historic home dates back to 1739 for the original part of the house, which has since been added onto three more times and still kept its historic look even into the 1980’s when the last resident moved out.
Hopper-Goetschius House & Garden
The property houses several buildings that were part of the original house like the outhouse, out kitchen and beehive oven. Other historic buildings that were threatened with being knocked down by developers have since been resembled and brought the property that include a woodshed, a tenant house, the Ramsey Sayer House, a Dutch barn, the Van Riper-Tice Barn and a working blacksmith shop. That part of the property toward the back part of the farmhouse looks like a mini-village and volunteers were working each of the buildings when I was there.
One of the buildings on the ground of the Upper Saddle River Historical Society
The Hopper-Goetschius House on the corner of Lake Street and East Saddle River Road dates back to 1739. Built by the Hopper family, it is the oldest remaining house in Upper Saddle River, NJ. The Saddle River Historical Society knew it existed in 1739 because it was recorded in surveyor Charles Clinton’s journal and possibly it is older. It was also marked as the home of Gerrit Hoppa on a rough sheepskin map made about 1713. The Hoppers farmed the land and had a lot of it. The property extended from the Saddle River up the hill almost to Montvale, NJ and up to the East Road in Upper Saddle River (USRHS).
The house underwent several changes in the mid-1800’s. The large central chimney with back to back fireplaces was removed. Probably with more modern forms of heating available, such as wooden stoves, the fireplace seemed a bit old-fashioned and the owners took it out. They wanted to use the entrance hall as a room, so the stairway along the east wall was removed and a central stairway added where the fireplaces had once been. The dormers were added in the Victorian era (USRHS). Don’t miss the secret stairs in the kitchen that lead to the old second floor which houses a few bedrooms. It is one of the unique features of the house.
In 1814, the house became the home of the Reverend Stephen Goetschius of the Old Stone Church. It remained in the Goetschius family for a century and a half, always a place of central importance in town as Stephen Goetschius, the great-great grandson of the Reverend Stephen, served as the borough clerk for over 40 years and conducted his town business from the east room of the house (USRHS).
The house was without running water until Stephen’s death in 1962. Until improvements were made at that time, Stephen’s wife, Lizzie, carried water from the well for washing, cooking and shoveled coal for heat (USRHS).
In 1985, the Hopper-Goetschius House was presented to the Borough of Upper Saddle River by Clinton and Gracie Carlough. Lizzie Goetschius, the last resident of the house was Clint Carlough’s aunt. The house today serves as a museum, run by the Upper Saddle River Historical Society (USRHS) and offers the public historically related events through out the year (USRHS). Check out their website, http://www.usrhistoricalsociety.org for special events and check out their Annual Harvest Festival in October for a day of fun.
I double backed around the county to the Mahwah Museum at 201 Franklin Turnpike in Mahwah, NJ and the the sister museum, The Old Station Museum at 171 Old Station Lane just south of the main museum. What I like about these museums is that it does not take long to tour them and they sponsor interesting exhibitions that feature local history that do not tax you with lengthy displays and loads of reading. They keep everything interesting, factual and get to the point.
Having been to the Mahwah Museum earlier that month, I wanted to concentrate on the The Old Station Museum. This historic train station was built in 1871 and was used for years until the modern station was built. Behind the building, there is a 1929 Erie Line Caboose that you can walk through that shows the life on the railroad and the use of the caboose on a railroad.
The Old Station Museum in Mahwah, NJ
The museum has a interesting collection of items from the Pullman era that includes china and menus. There is a collection of trains and interesting items including maps from the era when Mahwah was major point of the railroad in the area.
The next stop on my journey as I drove south through Bergen County was the Waldwick Signal Tower at 1 Bohnert Place in Waldwick, NJ and the sister museum of the Waldwick Museum of Local History at 4 Hewson Avenue in Waldwick, NJ right by the current train station. These are part of the Waldwick Historical Society (WHS).
The Waldwick Signal Tower at 1 Bohnert Place
The Erie Railroad Interlocking Tower “WC” was built in 1890 by the New York Lake Erie and Western Railroad the tower in on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a symbol of the overall impact of the railroad industry on the Waldwick area. The tower is constructed in a Queen Anne style and other than a few minor maintenance shortcuts, the tower looks as it did when constructed nearly 130 years ago (WHS).
The tower still controlled traffic but as the railroads modernized with radio communications, automatic block control and other labor saving ideas the need for the number of towers on the line was reduced until 1986, when most of the towers outside major hub such as Jersey City were closed. During the last few decades, the tower was only manned during the day (WHS).
It is believed that this is the last standing tower of six built to this design. The two closest known examples in the area were in Ramsey, NJ and Suffern, NY, both having been torn down. The tower is named in honor of Harvey Springstead, one of the most famous engineers on the New York Division of the Erie from 1910 until 1929 and a key citizen of Waldwick (WHS).
The downstairs houses a small display of railroad deeds from the various railroads that used to operate in this part of Bergen County and the upstairs has a collection of railroad artifacts as well as pictures of the renovation of the tower.
I did a circle around the tracks and stopped at the Waldwick Museum of Local History at 4 Hewson Avenue which is located in the restored 1887 Waldwick Railroad and opened in 2016. It is part of the Waldwick Community Alliance.
The Waldwick Museum 4 Hewson Street
The Society was started by member Doug Cowie in 1977 with the purpose to lobby for the placement of the train station on the National Register of Historic Places in order to save it. With the formation of the Society, the station was placed on the registry.
It is noted that these railroad lines are what brought the new population of immigrants to upper Bergen County at the turn of the last century and why these towns had a building boom before and after World War II.
The museum has an interesting exhibition on the immigration to the area due to railroad transportation. There are historical items as furniture and clothing and train memorabilia. The history of the rails is well represented at the museum. Members of the museum were on hand to give a personal tour.
My last historical place I visited was The Museum at the Station at 176 Rock Road in Glen Rock. The museum is manged by the Glen Rock Historical Society and is housed inside the original 1905 Erie Main Line Train Station on Rock Road.
Museum at the Station at Glen Rock, NJ
The Museum showcases items from Glen Rock’s past with displays that change periodically as well as permanent exhibits on the Erie Railroad and artifacts from Glen Rock’s farming history (BCHS).
When I visited it was at the end of the day so I was the ladies last guest. The members of the Society took me around the museum which has a interesting exhibition on immigration and how it affected Glen Rock and how it grew as a town. Many of the items are historic family items donated member of the Glen Rock community including clothing and furniture. They had the most interesting Victrola with the original records and period clothing. One resident donated an interesting collection of antique toys including many trains.
While in Glen Rock, I visited the famous Glen ‘Rock’, located right off the downtown at the intersection of Rock Road and Doremus Avenue, which the town is named. The Rock was pulled to the town by the last Ice Age and was a meeting place and marker for the Lenape Indians when they lived in the area. In the Colonial era, it was a meeting place for residents. There have been many legends about the power of the Rock.
Glen Rock ‘Rock’
Dinner that night was a revisit to Mahwah to have pizza at Kinchley’s Tavern at 586 North Franklin Turnpike in Ramsey, NJ, for one of their thin crusted pizzas (See review on TripAdvisor). This is one of the oldest restaurants in this part of upper Bergen County and has been on my must try list for about two years.
Kinchley’s Tavern at 586 Northern Franklin Turnpike
First off, the place is mobbed all the time. I have heard that people swear by their pizza. It is different from the usual Neapolitan pies that I try all over Bergen County. Kinchley’s specializes in thin-crusted pizzas, more of what people would call a ‘bar pizza’. The 12 inch pizza can be easily eaten by one person if they are hungry and the sausage pizza I ordered was loaded with sweet Italian sausage. One thing Kinchley’s doesn’t do is skimp on the ingredients.
The inside of Kinchley’s is very homey
The pizza was cooked to a crisp consistency and was devoured quickly after a long day of touring. The restaurant is a great family restaurant with a good vibe. It was like going back in time to the 70’s when going out to dinner with your family was a treat and a rite of the summer. I highly recommend a visit there at least once when visiting Bergen County.
Kinchley’s Pizza is very good!
Until next year! Don’t miss this event every year in May!
Walking the Streets of the Upper West Side was harder than I thought because there is a treasure trove of historical spots and buildings all over the neighborhood. Here and there is a plaque or a statue that had gone unnoticed or a beautiful carving on a building that just catches my eye. You look hard enough and there is another plaque to someone famous or a garden that ‘pops up’ out of no where. If you blink, you might miss something.
I started my day working the beverage station at Soup Kitchen. Being the middle of the month, we started getting busy again. The chef made a type of stew that was very popular with the guests and we were busy that afternoon. I was tired by the end of the afternoon but ready to go.
I stopped at Taco Bandito at 325 Eighth Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for a quick snack for lunch. I spent $2.90 on a Chicken Fajita with Guacamole. The restaurant’s food is cooked to order and is really good. It is spicy and everything I have tried there has some kick to it. The best part of their menu is that everything is under $10.00. Check it out my blog, ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com for my article on the restaurant. It is a local gem by the Fashion Institute of Technology.
I started the walk on West 72nd Street visiting a lot of the places I had visited when walking the borders of the neighborhood. There were a lot of stores to revisit and restaurant menus to look over. Being a nice but cool day, I wanted to walk around Riverside Park.
I passed the Eleanor Roosevelt Statue again at the corner of Riverside Drive and West 72nd Street and really looked at it again as I was relaxing on the benches. The artist really did a nice job with the statue and it is a nice place to stop and relax. The flowers were starting to pop up as the weather was getting warmer. As I left this part of the neighborhood in the late spring, the dogwood and cherry trees came into bloom and the surrounding area of the memorial is quite spectacular.
Eleanor Roosevelt Statue in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side
As I crossed onto the Streets off Riverside Drive to West End Avenue, the area is part of the West End Historical Society and much of the area is landmarked all the way to Broadway. On the blocks between Riverside Drive to West End Avenue from West 72nd to West 84th Streets the whole area is in two historical zones, the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historical District (from West 95th Street to West 62nd Street from Central Park West to Broadway & Amsterdam Avenue in some parts) and Riverside-West End Avenue Historical District (West 108th Street to West 70th Street to Broadway). This is the reason why I think that the Upper West Side has not seen the changes of the Upper East Side. So much land marking.
One of the most beautiful buildings on West 73rd Street across the street from the Ansonia Apartments is the Apple Savings Bank at 2100-2108 Broadway, the former Central Saving Bank Building. This elegant graceful bank sits on the tip of the northern part of Verdi Park in the Italian Renaissance palazzo style by the firm of York & Sawyer. The grillwork was done by Samuel Yellin, the master casting iron maker of the 1920’s. He did all the iron work of the grilles, doors, gates and lanterns. The rooms are vaulted look was said by the bank to be a ‘noble building’ (Wiki). From the outside, admire the stone and grill work around the building especially facing the park.
The Park Royal Building is another elegant building near The Dakota on West 72nd floor. The building was built in 1928 by architect George F. Pelham as a type of apartment/hotel with maid service for the residents and restaurant service. It was a new concept of hotel amenities given to apartment dwellers. The building has wonderful views of the park and the apartment owners were able to design their apartments. The lower level is in limestone and the upper part of the building is made of a golden-colored tapestry brick. It is now a luxury cooperative (Park Royal history). Admire it from the other side of the street to see all the striking details of the building.
The West End Collegiate Historic District which runs from West 79th Street to West 74th Street from Broadway to Riverside Drive (the extension is from West 79th Street to West 70th Street) is full unique buildings with the center is the Collegiate Church on the corner of West End Avenue and West 75th Street.
Don’t miss the new artwork by artist Kathy Ruttenburg on the traffic island at West 79th Street and Broadway named “Ms. Mighty Mouse”. This whimsical statue has its own interpretation and I am not sure if its empowerment or just taking control of the situation. Either way, don’t miss seeing the statue while it is here.
Miss Mighty Mouse by artist Kathy Ruttenberg
The West End Collegiate Church is the center of this district. The church was designed in Dutch Colonial style by the firm of McKim, Mead and White in 1893. The church was built to attract old Knickerbocker families in the city as well as give the local residents with a sense of history to the church and its Dutch background(Collegiate website). The church has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows with armorial designs based on Dutch provinces. The church has since expanded in the neighborhood.
At 33 Riverside Drive, there is a plaque dedicated to Ira Gershwin, the famous American composer, when he lived here and wrote some of his most famous songs. He lived in a three bedroom penthouse in the building from 1929-1933 and wrote ‘Girl Crazy’, ‘Of thee I Sing’ and ‘Let’em East Cake’ while living here (on the plaque). The apartment went on the market in 2015 for six million dollars.
Between 128-132 West 75th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue take a look up and look at the entrance way of buildings and in the carvings by the entrance at 128 West 75th Street, you will see what appear to be two angels inside the flaps of both sides of the doorway. Look at the detailed carvings of these buildings and you will see stone work that I have not seen in any of my travels in the neighborhood.
128th-132nd West 75th Street
Rounding the streets at West 76th, there is a building at 132 West 76th Street with the most interesting stonework. Look at the way the statuary sticks out on the brownstone and the way it was carved. It is beautiful and unusual at the same time. It looks like a butterfly wing. I wonder how many people walk by this every day and never really notice it?
The homes in this part of the Upper West Side between Central Park and Riverside Park really are interesting the brownstones really have their own designs and many are not your typical ‘row houses’ as they have different types of stonework designs on them. You will see the most elegant stonework lining these buildings that have been sandblasted and detailed back to life. People here have really invested in their homes and decorated them nicely with potted plants and trees.
Take time to stop at the Tecumseh Playground at Amsterdam and West 78th Street, with its colorful murals and interesting playground. There is a lot to see and if you have kids, it is a lot of fun. Don’t miss walking through the park which is flanked by an interesting mural of ‘out west’ on the wall and the unique ‘jungle gyms’ designed like buildings and cars. I got such a kick at watching the kids of all ages running around the park and the parents talking amongst themselves. It still gives me faith that all kids are not glued to their phones.
The park is named after Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) who after graduating from West Point in 1840, served in California and the Mexican-American War.
Sherman Playground at Amsterdam Avenue and West 78th Street
Sherman was appointed to brigadier general of volunteers in 1861 and fought at Bull Run and Shiloh. Promoted to major general in 1862, he distinguished himself in the Vicksburg and Chattanooga campaigns of 1863. Sherman blazed a trail of destruction as his troops seized Atlanta, marched to the sea and headed north through the Carolinas. He received surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston on April 26, 1865. This deserves at least a playground and much more (NYC Parks).
When you are heading back to Riverside Park, remember not to miss the Hamilton Fountain on Riverside Drive between West 76th and 77th Streets and the Neufeld Playground right inside the park if you need to use the bathrooms before 5:00pm. As the weather got warmer, the daffodils and crocuses were starting to come into bloom. Take time to relax here and walk into the park to see the Hudson River before the leaves start (read more about this in the Avenues section of the Upper West Side).
When rounding West 78th Street, admire the architecture on the whole block. There are graceful brownstones between West End Avenue and Riverside Park and between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenue. Really look up at the stonework and the carvings on these buildings before the scaffolding goes back up and they are sandblasted again.
On West 79th Street, two things really stood out, the Banksy “Hammer Boy” mural on the side of the wall near Broadway, which the neighbors are trying to save and is under Plexiglas and so noted by the artist. He looks like he his about the hammer the FDNY’s standpipe.
The other is the gorgeous Baptist Church at 265 West 79th Street. Take time to look at its stained glass windows and curvature in the design. The church was built in 1890 by George M. Keister, who later built the Apollo Theater. It sits on what was a bend in the Avenue and can be seen on the way downtown. The stained glass shows God as the center of the New Testament Church and shows Him as the Bright and Morning Star with His Crown as the King of Kings (Wiki). It makes quite the statement.
I stopped at West 80th Street as I rounded West 79th Street by Riverside Park. I had to relax for awhile and boosted more energy to walk down to West 72nd Street to Malachy’s Donegal Inn Bar for some dinner. I saw the hamburger special for $8.95 and thought that was good for me. It is a local West Side watering hole where the patrons are mostly locals and the food really good (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
I noticed at Malachy’s that both the bartenders and the locals size you up to see who you might be and I am not sure that they could read me. One thing was that they were really friendly and engaging to me and I appreciated it. After walking from the top of West 72nd Street to the bottom of West 80th Street, I didn’t need a suspicious look or conversation. I just joined in and we talked about the Yankees and their current season.
The burgers at Malachy’s are excellent
Just to let you know, if you are in the area of West 72nd Street, take the time out to have lunch or dinner and a drink at Malachy’s. The burger was cooked perfectly and had a salty, caramelized crust to it and the fries were deep fried perfectly. It was delicious and with an icy Coke, it was just what the doctor ordered to relax after a long walk. From West 80th to West 84th Streets would have to wait for another day.
At the end of the week, I made another trip to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and was assigned to the Prep Kitchen and before finishing the rest of the neighborhood, spent my morning prepping vegetables and cutting chicken breasts for the next days meal. (I saw on the chart the next week that we did over 800 meals that next day. I must be doing something right).
I started my walk by the American Museum of Natural History at 200 Central Park West and walked around Theodore Roosevelt Park, which is located at the back of the museum. This small well-landscaped grassy shade park is managed by a partnership between the Museum, The New York City Parks Department and the Friends of Roosevelt Park. This is a nice place to relax on the benches under the shade trees or just walk through the pathways. The former President would have loved this if he had seen it today. It was my ‘go-to’ spot when I was walking the rest of the Streets between West 80th and 84th Streets.
Theodore Roosevelt Park behind the American Museum of Natural History
What I found interesting in the history of the park is that it was originally part of Central Park and became of the museum when it was created in 1877. The park became ‘Theodore Roosevelt park in name in 1958 with the statute that was dedicated to our 26th President. In later years, namely the troubled times of the 70’s the park was in disarray and the Friends of Theodore Roosevelt Park was created in 1993, who help maintain the park in partnership with the NYC Parks and the Museum.
After leaving the park, I walked down West 80th Street and stopped at Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway and stopped in the Café Zabar (See Review on TripAdvisor) for a snack. For $1.00, they had a special on specialty croissants and I indulged in a Ham, Egg and Cheese Croissant, which made a great snack and I highly recommend stopping when they have specials or for their chicken soup which looks so good. Also when it is one special, don’t miss their homemade pizza. The place is the local hangout for older Upper West Sider’s and they made themselves known to me when I tried to sit in their seat.
Take time to walk around Zabar’s to see their bakery, cheese and prepared food departments. It is really something. Their selection is really interesting and the smells are wonderful especially in the Cheese Department. The place is packed all the time so expect to bump into people which is part of the fun of shopping there. You could lost in Zabar’s for about an hour.
Some of things that stand out in this area are the stately mansions that line Riverside Drive by Riverside Park between West 80th through 84th Street especially between West 80th-West 81st Street. It is best to see them from the park side. They are disrupted by apartment buildings on some blocks but the ones that remain are being renovated back to their original glory.
Riverside Park by the beginning of April was beginning to show signs of Spring and I saw more flowers coming out and if I was lucky to be in the sun, a bit warmer. Winter lingered late this year and even into April I had to wear a heavier jacket.
The blocks between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West from West 80th to 84th Street is dominated by graceful brownstones and marble homes. Like its neighbors to the north and south, this area by the park is being sandblasted back to life and every time I walk in the neighborhood, I see more scaffolding up around the buildings. There is a uniqueness to each one as you take the time to slowly look at them.
Take time to look at the displays at West 80th Street and Columbus Avenue of the bear statues and flowers by florist, Floris, that is located across the street. This whimsical display shows two bears greeting you with flowers. It changes at each holiday I noticed.
Broadway in this area is getting more commercial but then you need these stores to compliment the neighborhood. It seems that Broadway is becoming the commercial core of the Upper West Side with the chain stores and theaters. What makes it look like the elegant European boulevard that it is is the island between the Avenue. This is landscaped and now coming into full bloom. As the trees and the flowers sprout out with the coming of Spring, the whole effect is just beautiful. This look to Broadway continues down to Columbus Circle.
Don’t miss the unique architecture on West 83rd Street right off Columbus Avenue at 141 West 83rd Street. When really looking at that parking garage you could that the Cedarhurst building was once a stable. Designed by the firm of Thom & Wilson, it was once part of the Cedarhurst Livery Company and was built in 1908, with the horse motifs that decorate it and the horse head that flanks the front of the building. You can see the areas of the building that must have been used for airing the horses out after they were stabled back inside for the night (NYT).
The Cedarhurst Building on the Upper West Side at 147 West 83rd Street
Across the street is the Engine 74 building of the FDNY that was designed by Napoleon DeBrun in the 1880’s. There motif on their building is the dinosaur with the theme, ‘Lost World’. Being so close to the American Museum of Natural History I can see how they play off that.
Also, really look at the Kiosk that is located by Broadway and West 83rd Street, which was built in the 1960’s as an information center for the neighborhood, which is now landmarked and is used to display local art. Artist Gregory Sanger was showing his work and it must have been very popular as there was a note left by someone not to steal the work as a piece was missing. Through its history, this kiosk has displayed the goings on in the neighborhood for over 50 years and has become a focal as well as vocal point to the residents.
When walking down West 84th Street I came across the plaque at 215 West 84th Street, Eagle Court which stands on what was once the home of Edgar Allan Poe’s farmhouse that was located between Broadway and 84th Street. The plaque noted that this is where he wrote the “The Raven” (HistoryHomes.com).
I ended my trip to this part of the Upper West Side by visiting the Bard Graduate Center Gallery at 18 West 86th Street (bgc.bard.org and see the review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). I had missed seeing the gallery the first two times to the neighborhood as their hours are different from most of the other museums. Through my affiliation with the Newark Museum, I was able to get in for free and see the special exhibits.
The Bard Graduate Center Gallery at 18 West 86th Street
The Gallery was featuring an exhibition of ‘Bookbinding and the Creation of Books’, which explained why they were so expensive and rare at the time before the printing press and a ‘Balinese Textiles’ exhibition. It is an easy gallery to visit and you will be out in about an hour and a half. It is a quiet place to visit so you will have the galleries to yourself. It makes it more fun so don’t miss this little hidden ‘gem’.
I finished the evening with dinner for a second time at Malachy’s Donegal Inn bar on West 72nd Street, this time having the ‘Turkey Dinner’ platter. I had a nice time that evening talking politics with the other patrons and the sheer cost of living on the Upper West Side when I wanted to get off the politics and talk about all the empty store fronts in the lower 70’s throughout the neighborhood. They were able to give me their opinion on it. The dinner was good and for $8.95, it was some open turkey sandwich. I had to walk back to Port Authority just to work it off.
I have seen so much on the middle part of the Upper West Side and look forward to my next trip in the neighborhood from West 72nd to West 59th Street. There is so much elegant architecture in the neighborhood, so many famous people living here and so many interesting stores, you could visit here many times and not soak it all in. It really opened my eyes to a place I have been visiting for years and never truly experienced the way a local might.
Check out the other walks on the Upper West Side:
Walking the Borders of the Upper West Side day One Hundred and Six: