I finally finished walking the NoMAD neighborhood the other day and it is getting confusing keeping up with all these neighborhood names. The Flatiron District, NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park), Kips Bay and Rose Hill (which crosses boundaries with Kips Bay at Lexington Avenue) all claim the same small section of neighborhood. It makes it confusing to know what neighborhood association to join.
I then discovered a nine-block section of Midtown South that has no name to it. It is squeezed between Kips Bay and Koreatown from Fifth Avenue to Lexington Avenue from East 34th to East 30th Street. Technically it can be considered part of Koreatown since it has stretched from it’s traditional borders but the maps say differently.
In my research of the neighborhood maps of Manhattan, I discovered that this section of the island has no name to the neighborhood because it is not part of Kips Bay or Koreatown and saying Midtown South for this nine-block region does not sound glamorous enough. So, in the tradition of the realtors in Manhattan, I named it NoNaNe, No Name Neighborhood. I wonder if it will catch on.
This is a nine-block section of Midtown South that borders Lexington Avenue to the East, Fifth Avenue to the West and from East 34th to 30th Streets. It lies next to Koreatown, which itself has grown from its traditional borders of 33rd to 31st Streets from Sixth Avenue to Fifth Avenue. Koreatown now stretches to East 35th Street to the north and to Park Avenue to the east. The restaurants and stores are pushing out even further from the core of the original neighborhood.
So after a wonderful afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art visiting the new “Goya” exhibition, I took the subway to Midtown at 34th Street just outside Macy’s Herald Square to start my walk. It got dark early the first day so I did not get the time in I thought I would.
The Goya Exhibition at the Met
The YouTube video on the Exhibition
The weather has also gotten so cold. From the mild December and January weeks that we had it has led to one of the coldest February’s since the great Arctic Vortex that we had two years ago. I am still thawing out from the Marcal Factory fire of 2019 (see my blog from My Life as a Fireman on this blog).
My blog on the Marcal fire:
It seems that the Vortex is back again, and it will be just as cold. It is predicted to be 0 in New Orleans which must be some sort of record. Trust me it got cold when the sun went down around 5:15pm.
I started my walk this afternoon by looking at Macy’s window displays along Broadway to see if much had changed since Christmas. They never were the most exciting displays even when I was working there. Lord & Taylor and B. Altman’s had better windows. Long gone now. I am amazed at the change of the department store scene in New York City since I worked there in the 1990’s. I could see it from the corner of West 34th and Broadway.
I started my walk from the front door of Macy’s and walked down Sixth Avenue from West 34th to West 30th Street. Things have changed so much in thirty years. The whole area has gotten so much better. It was so run down when I worked there. Also, the retail scene was so much different. Where the H & M is now used to be Herald Center, an upscale mall that never did well, and the concept closed two years later when I returned to work in the buying offices. The only thing that survived was the food court on the top floor.
My starting point Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street
Before 1965, this was home to Saks 34th Street before its move to its current Fifth Avenue location. The store was founded by Andrew Saks and opened its doors in Herald Square in 1902 just five weeks before Macy’s opened their doors. The store was designed by architects Buchman & Fox in the Classical style. The store was bought by the Gimbel family in 1923 and that is when it was moved to its current location at 511 Fifth Avenue. The original store is now covered with new siding to give it its modern look for H & M (NYC Circa). The building stretches from West 34th to West 33rd Street along the Broadway corridor.
The Saks 34th Street Building on the corner of West 34th Street and Broadway
Next door to that was the old Gimbel’s Department Store building that closed in 1986, a year and a half before I started at Macy’s. Gimbel’s had always been considered our rival for years but I think because of the sheer size of Macy’s I have a feeling that we beat them in sales. Gimbel’s had come to New York City by way of Philadelphia by the Gimbel’s family. It was founded by Adam Gimbel in 1887. The store in Herald Square opened in 1910 in the classical style by architect Daniel Burnham (Wiki). The store stretches from West 33rd to West 32nd Streets along Broadway.
Gimbel’s Department Store at Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street
When the store closed in 1986, it was renovated and was called A & S Plaza when that store moved into the space. When A & S closed in the mid 1990’s when it merged with Macy’s, the store was renovated again and now is called Manhattan Mall. It is mostly office space now (Wiki).
In the middle of this former shopping district and just south of Herald Square is Greeley Square named after Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune. The square was acquired by New York City in 1846 and turned into the park. The statue that dominates the southern end of the park was designed by sculptor Alexander Doyle in 1890 (NYCParks.org).
Greeley Square was named after Horace Greeley, who published the first issue of The New Yorker magazine and established the New York Tribune. He was also a member of the Liberal Republican Party where he was a congressman and ran for President of the United States after the Civil War.
Publisher and Politician Horace Greeley famous for his quote “Go West, young man, Go West”
The Horace Greeley statue is located in the park just south of Herald Square in Greeley Square.
The statue was created by artist Alexander Doyle. Alexander Doyle was an American born artist who studied in Italy with several artists. He is best known for his marbles and bronze sculptures of famous Americans including many famous Confederate figures that have come under fire recently.
Once you leave Greeley Square and walk south you will be entering what is left of the old Wholesale district where once buyers used to come into these stores to commercially buy goods for their businesses. Slowly all of these businesses as well as most of the Flower District is being gentrified out with new hotels, restaurants and bars replacing the businesses. It seems that most of the district is being rebuilt or renovated or gutted.
The Broadway side of the park opposite the old department stores starts some of the most beautiful architecture in South Midtown. This portion of Broadway until you reach the Battery has the most unique stonework and embellishments on the buildings that show the craftsmanship of another era when companies-built headquarters that were meant to last.
One building that faces Greeley Square is 1270 Broadway at the corner of West 33rd Street.
1270 Broadway, known once as the Wilson Building, was built between 1912 and 1913 in the class Beaux Arts style. It now serves as an office building. You have to look up from the square to admire its beauty.
Next to the building is across the street at 1265 Broadway, the former Browning, King & Company building. The building was built in 1910 by developer William R.H. Martin for commercial use. The building was designed by architects Townsend, Steinle & Haskell in brick, stone and terra cotta. The interesting decorative top was designed for the Men’s retail company Browning, King & Company. You have to look up at the detail work and the eagle at the roof of the building (Daytonian).
1265 Broadway-The Browning, King & Company building
Another building that stands out and sadly boarded up at this time is the former Martinique Hotel at 49 West 32nd Street (1260-1266 Broadway). This was also built by William R. H. Martin in 1898 with the design by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in the French Renaissance style. The hotel had a notorious reputation in the 1970’s and 80’s as a welfare hotel that closed in 1988. It is now a Curio Hotel of Hilton Hotels (Wiki).
I remember this hotel well when I worked for Macy’s in the late 1980’s and all the people yelling and screaming outside the hotel with fire trucks all over the place. The hotel had been nothing but a problem for almost twenty years. It has since been bought by the Hilton Group and is now a historical luxury hotel.
1260 Broadway-49 West 32nd Street-The Martinique Hotel
A couple of buildings that stand out when walking down Broadway are 1234 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and West 31st Street, an elegant Victorian building with a standout mansard roof and elaborate details on the roof and windows. I did not realize that it was the Grand Hotel built in 1868 as a residential hotel. The hotel was commissioned by Elias Higgins, a carpet manufacturer and designed by Henry Engelbert. Currently it is being renovated into apartments (Daytonian). It shows how the City keeps morphing over time as this area has become fashionable again.
1234 Broadway in all its elegance, the former Grand Hotel
After rounding the southern part of Greeley Square, I headed back down Sixth Avenue to West 30th Street, the southern border of the neighborhood with the ever-changing NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park). This southern section of South Midtown as I have mentioned in other blogs is being gutted, knocked down and rebuilt into a hip area of the City with trendy hotels, restaurants and stores. Even in the era of COVID, the streets were hopping and most of the hotels were still open. Broadway has even been closed off for outdoor dining.
In the middle of this new ‘hipness’ there is an old standby, Fresh Pizza & Deli at 876 Sixth Avenue (see my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I had a craving for a late breakfast, and they had a $4.95 special for a Bacon, Egg & Cheese sandwich on the sandwich board outside and I ordered it. You have to make a special trip to this little hole in the wall.
Fresh Pizza & Deli at 867 Sixth Avenue
Not only is their pizza really good but the Bacon, Egg & Cheese on a soft roll is outstanding. The way the flavors meshed in the sandwich and the perfect meal on a cool afternoon. After my snack and rounded the corner west down 30th Street. Here you are dodging construction sites and scaffolding in this ever-changing section of the neighborhood.
On a cold day there is nothing like a Bacon, Egg & Cheese on a roll from Fresh Pizza & Deli
Most of the buildings on 30th Street were non-descriptive until I reached the corner of West 30th Street and Fifth Avenue. At 284 Fifth Avenue is The Wilbraham Building, a beautiful Victorian building built between 1888-90 that was commissioned by jeweler William Moir. The building was designed by architect D.J. Jardine in the Romanesque Revival style. The building has been home to Shalom Brothers Rugs for many years (StreetEasy.com).
Fifth Avenue at East 30th Street-The Wilbraham
Another beautiful building that faces East 30th Street but is located on Madison Avenue is 105 Madison Avenue a beautiful former office building that has been converted to condo’s. The building was built in 1913 in the Gothic Revival style with a terra cotta facade.
105-117 Madison Avenue
When I reached the corner of East 30th Street and Lexington Avenue I reached the border of the neighborhood which it shares with Kips Bay and it was like visiting an old friend. I have walked this part of the City so many times I feel like I have moved in. I love walking down Lexington Avenue and visiting “Curry Hill” and all the Middle Eastern and Indian restaurants.
I took a little detour from the walk and headed down Lexington Avenue and enjoyed the sites and smells of the neighborhood. I stopped in at one store, Heritage India Fashions at 131 Lexington Avenue after looking over the display window. The window was filled with clothes with vibrant colors and glittering jewels and pictures of models in exotic places.
Heritage India Fashions at 131 Lexington Avenue
When you walk in the store is piled floor to ceiling with brilliant colors and interesting embellished clothing, shoes and accessories. There were also collections of jewelry and small gifts for the wedding season. The woman working there was very helpful and enthusiastic of explaining the clothes to me. It is worth the trip in.
I traveled back up Lexington Avenue and passed many places that stand out in the neighborhood. Turning the corner onto the bustling Lexington Avenue, you see that the border of the neighborhood is a bustling commercial district with a combination of office buildings and apartments and as you cross East 30th Street a restaurant district with an international flair to it. The avenue is also lined with interesting architecture where many buildings stand out. I walked up and down Lexington Avenue between East 30th Street until I turned the corner at East 34th Street.
The beautiful detail work carved into it is 160-164 Lexington Avenue and East 30th Street, The Dove Street Marketplace, which offers floor after floor of high end goods is just amazing.
The detail work is amazing on 160-164 Lexington Avenue-The Dove Street Market
The building has the most beautiful detail work on all sides. It was built in 1909 as the New York School for Applied Design for Women. It was designed by one of the school’s instructors, architect Wiley Corbett, to resemble a Greek Temple (Forgotten New York).
160-164 Lexington Avenue
Across the street from the Dover Street Market at 154 Lexington Avenue is the First Moravian Church. The building was started in 1849 and finished in 1852 at the Rose Hill Baptist Church designed in the Lombardian Romanesque style. In 1869, the church was sold to the First Moravian Church which had been located at Sixth Avenue and 34th Street (Daytonian in Manhattan).
The First Moravian Church at 154 Lexington Avenue was built in 1854
Tucked to the residential side of the avenue is 170 Lexington Avenue an Italianate brownstone building that stands out for it yellow exterior. The brownstone was part of three building complex built in the early 1850’s. The house was owned by George and Elizabeth Youle, a wealthy couple with two married daughters. The address was originally 158 Lexington Avenue and then changed to 170 Lexington Avenue in 1866. Sometime in the 1940’s the yellow clapboard veneer was added in a renovation of the building (Daytonian 2020).
170 Lexington Avenue was built in the early 1850’s
The New York Design Center Building at 200 Lexington Avenue stands out for its detailed beauty and its embellishments that accent the outside of the building. It was built in 1926 and designed by architect Ely Jacques Khan as the New York Furniture Exchange. The building was to cater to furniture and department store buyers. It now caters to the full interior design experience with furniture, lighting and textiles.
200 Lexington Avenue-The New York Design Center
As I rounded East 34th Street and Lexington Avenue, I saw more life on the streets than I had in a while. The area near the NY Langone Hospital is always busy and when you head back in the other direction back towards Herald Square it always has traffic and people.
On my way down East 34th Street, I passed many of the interesting buildings that share the border with Murray Hill, the neighborhood to the north that I had visited over the summer. I reached Madison Avenue and walked past the grill work of another interesting office building. The Madison Belmont Building at 181 Madison Avenue was built in 1924 and designed by architects Warren & Wetmore in the Renaissance style with Art Deco details for the Cheney Brothers Silk Company.
“The Madison Belmont Building” at 181 Madison Avenue
Look up at the interesting grill work and details of the building
Reaching the border of Murray Hill to the south is the former B. Altman Department Store that closed in 1989 and in the other corner is the Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the world.
The B. Altman Building at 361 Fifth Avenue was built by Benjamin Altman for the new location for his ‘carriage trade’ store. The store was designed by architects Trowbridge & Livingston in the “Italian Renaissance Style” in 1906. The palatial store was home to couture clothing, fine furniture and expensive art work.
The former B. Altman Department Store at 361 Fifth Avenue
As the shopping district left Sixth Avenue below 23rd Street, the former “Ladies Shopping Mile” (read my Victorian Christmas Blog on the shopping district) gave way to stores opening between 34th Street to 42nd Street and eventually to the Fifth Avenue locations between 50th and 60th Streets where what is left of the great stores stand today.
My blog on the Ladies Shopping Mile and a “Victorian Christmas”:
Across the street from the old B. Altman’s building is another impressive building also under scaffolding 10 East 34th Street, The Ditson Building. The impressive building with it intricate details was built in 1906 and designed by architects Townsend, Steinle & Haskell in the Beaux-Arts style for Charles H. Ditson. Mr. Ditson ran the New York division of his family’s company, Charles H. Ditson & Company, a publisher and musical concern (Daytonian).
10 East 34th Street-The Ditson Building
Crossing Fifth Avenue, I continued to walk down West 34th Street once a major shopping district lined with shops and department stores. The most impressive and well known building in the neighborhood is the former tallest building in the world at 102 floors, the Empire State Building at 2-20 West 34th Street.
The Empire State Building is probably the most famous building in New York City outside of maybe Rockefeller Center and one of the most prominent. The building sits on the side of the former Astor Mansion and the first Waldorf-Astoria Hotel before the current one was built in the 1930’s on Park Avenue.
The Empire State Building was inspired during the “Race to the Sky” movement in New York City during the 1920’s prosperity with builders vying for the “World’s Tallest Building” title. This was going on in cities all over the US at a time of great innovation in building. The building was conceived in 1929 long before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 as 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building were being constructed (Wiki).
The Empire State building at 20 West 34th Street
The building is known just by its appearance and is probably best known for the movie “King Kong” back in the 1930’s and most recently “Sleepless in Seattle” in the 1990’s. The movies don’t do the building justice from its sky decks with views of Manhattan and beautiful Art Deco details on the elevators and in the lobby. The 102 story building is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Modern World’ and was the tallest building in the world until the World Trade Center opened in 1970 (Wiki). It is now the second tallest building in New York City.
The famous Empire State Building scene from “King Kong” in 1933
The building is a major tourist site and it was so strange to see no one in line for the now open sky ride to the sky decks where you can see across the whole City. The lines are usually really long down West 34th Street but there were just a few people talking to the guards the days I passed. If you get a chance to walk around the lobby it really is beautiful but that was pre-COVID. You have to have preassigned tickets to get into the building.
As I continued down West 34th Street, I saw the old Ohrbach’s Department Store building at 7 West 34th Street. The store was still open when I started to work at Macy’s in 1988 but it closed about a year later to be followed by B. Altman & Company in 1990. That left Macy’s alone on West 34th Street until a branch of the A & S opened in the Gimbel’s building in the 1990’s (that would close when A & S merged with Macy’s in 1995).
7 West 34th Street-McCreeyers/Ohrbach’s Department Store
What I did not know was the building has an older past by its original owner James McCreeyer & Company, a luxury department store that had started in the 1860’s and had closed this location in 1953 due to changing styles and business. Ohrbach’s bought the store in 1954 and ran it as a moderate department store until it closed in 1988 (Wiki and Defunct Department Stores).
Another impressive building on the this former shopping street is 19 West 34th Street, The Martin Building. The building was built and finished in 1907 for the Revillon Freres, a leading manufacturer of furs and accessories. The building was designed in the Italian Renaissance style with Beaux Arts features. The company moved out of the building and further uptown in 1918 and leased the building out (Daytonian). The building now serves as offices on top and retail on the bottom.
17-19 West 34th Street-The Martin Building/Revillon Freres Building
Another standout building I saw was 31 West 34th Street the former Oppenhiem, Collins & Company Department Store building. The store was built in 1907 for the Oppenhiem, Collins & Company wholesalers when they decided to open a retail store in the location. The former department store was designed by architects Buchman & Fox in the Beaux Arts style. The store existed until 1963 when it was merged by the owner of the store with Franklin Simon & Company Department Store and the name disappeared. The store closed in 1977 (Daytonian).
31 West 34th Street-The Oppenhiem, Collins & Company/Franklin Simon & Company building
The last building I noticed for its beauty was on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 34th Street, 47 West 34th Street (1378 Broadway or 2 Herald Square) the Marbridge Building. The Marbridge Building was by architects Townsend, Steinle & Haskell in 1909 in the Classical Beaux Arts style and has been used as an office building since its opening (Wiki/Photo/Street).
47 West 34th Street-The Marbridge Building
It is funny that in all the years I had worked at Macy’s Herald Square, I either never noticed these buildings on all my walks along 34th Street or never gave them a lot of though. When you realize the rich architectural history of the neighborhood and the role it played in the retail history of New York it really amazed me how prominent a shopping area this once was between 1900-1960. This growth came about as the retail district moved further uptown from the Ladies Shopping Mile district on Sixth Avenue below West 21st Street.
I finished my walk of the borders of this neighborhood with a quick break by relaxing in Greeley Square again and using one of the few public bathrooms in the area (the other being Macy’s lower level Men’s Department) and just sat back and admired the Horace Greeley statue. I wondered how many people passed this statue and never gave it any thought. I wondered what he might of thought of the changes here in the last 100 years. The neighborhood is so rich in history of the development of the business sector in New York City.
I went to dinner that evening at my new favorite Dim Sum restaurant , AweSum Dim Sum at 160 East 23rd Street. I love the selection of items and everything is always so good there. The best part was that the Mayor finally opened the restaurants again for indoor dining on Chinese New Year/ Valentine’s Day weekend on February 12th and we dine inside finally. No more sitting outside in the cold.
AweSum Dim Sum at 160 East 23rd Street
I ended my day over small plates of Soup Dumplings, which were hot and juicy and burst in my mouth, crisp Spring Rolls with a nice crunch in every bite and the Baked Pork Buns with their crisp sweet exterior and rich meaty interior. It was just nice to sit back in a warm environment and see people again.
Don’t miss the Baked Pork Buns here
After a nice meal in a warm restaurant, I walked back up Lexington Avenue to admire the lights coming on in the City and the sights and smells of “Curry Hill” as I walked up through Kips Bay back to Port Authority. This is when you really experience New York.
This is when the City comes to life.
Places to Visit:
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028
Open: Sunday-Monday 10:00am-5:00pm/Tuesday-Wednesday Closed/Thursday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
Macy’s Herald Square
151 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001
Open: Sunday-Thursday 11:00am-8:00pm/Friday-Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
Between 33rd and 32nd Streets/Broadway to Sixth Avenue
New York , NY 10001
Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
Heritage India Fashions
131 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Open: Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-7:30pm
Empire State Building
20 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001
Open: Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-9:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
Places to Eat:
AweSum Dim Sum
160 East 23rd Street
New York City, NY 10010
Open: Sunday 9:30am-8:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-8:00pm/Friday 11:00am-9:00pm/Saturday 9:30am-9:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:
Fresh Pizza & Deli
876 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Open: Sunday-Friday 6:00am-12:00am/Saturday 24 hours
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com: