On a recent trip to the Hudson River Valley for Fall events I took a tour of Bard Campus to visit their campus and tour Montgomery Place which the college bought from the Hudson River Historical Society in 2016. It is now part of the campus and you can tour the grounds but not the inside of the house.
Montgomery Place on the Bard College Campus
Before 2016 when the house was owned by the Hudson River Historical Society who used to have tours of the mansion. When the family sold the mansion and all its contents to the Society, they left the house untouched when they moved out you got to see how the Livingston family lived not just in current times…
Memorial Day this year was rather quiet due to the ongoing COVID Pandemic so the traditional parade was cancelled.
Hasbrouck Heights had a small but tasteful ceremony at the Veteran’s Memorial Park on Terrace Avenue. The Mayor and the council said some nice words about our veterans from town and the members of the VFW were present who felt up for the ceremony.
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Firemen’s Memorial Park on the Boulevard
After the ceremony, we had a small ceremony at the Firemen’s Memorial at the Circle on the Boulevard. Again the service was short and tasteful as we honored our fallen brothers from the department.
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department saluting our fallen Brothers and Sisters
It was a nice afternoon to pay our respects for the people of our community that have done so much for us.
On a recent tour of Downtown Beacon while I was weaving in and out of stores, I came across this unique and quirky shop with a clever name, “Flora Good Times”. What caught my attention was the outstanding window display with its contemporary signage and selection of potted plants and flowers so nicely organized. It looked more like a boutique than a traditional flower shop.
What I discovered when I walked in was the original way they display their potted plants and arrangements. The color scheme is juxoposed and the plants were arranged in a way that gave it a colorful and distinctive look about the way a customer would buy them. The shelves were loaded with all sorts…
I finally felt well enough to continue my walk around Manhattan. I had not been into New York City in six weeks and had really missed my walking around the island. I had finished exploring the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood before I pulled my back and decided to keep my adventures closer to home (Exploring Downtown Boonton-Day One Hundred and Two). I just was not up to coming into the City.
The Garment District once home to many designers and manufacturers in the New York Fashion Industry is not what it was when my Grandfather was an officer in the Ladies Garment Union back in the 1950’s and 60’s. It is not what it once was with the showrooms that were located there when I worked for Macy’s in the 1990’s. Cost of real estate, rezoning for commercial and residential during the Bloomberg Administration and cost of doing business in the area has shrunk the manufacturing of clothes that this area once prided itself.
Still in the core of the district many manufactures and shops still cater to the business and you will still see button shops, fabric stores and wholesale merchants next to new coffee shops , boutiques and small hotels that now dot the area.
Technically the area can stretch as far down as West 25th Street and around the Fashion Institute of Technology but the area with its real estate cache for names consider this area now ‘Chelsea’ and even east of it what is left of the ‘Flower District’. In the era of COVID, this area is still pretty quiet with manufacturing still shut and the Fashion Institute not yet open for the Fall semester (it has since opened and the area is full of students). I was amazed by the lack of people still not walking around the area.
I started my walk just outside the Port Authority which is on the very edge of the neighborhood and walked out the door and around the building to Ninth Avenue. Even though it was Labor Day, there were not a lot of people walking around the streets. It looked like everyone was either still away, recovering from the recent storm Hurricane Ida that flattened the area with rain and wind or just getting ready for school to start the next day. It seemed like a quiet day in Manhattan.
Pre-COVID the Port Authority between West 42nd to West 41st Streets from Eighth to Ninth Avenues was going through a face-life renovation and the facility started to move out all the older stores and restaurants for higher end takeout places and an art gallery. It looks now that it has been put on hold until people start to return.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal at 625 Eighth Avenue
Since I returned to Manhattan to resume this project last June, the traffic going through the Port Authority has not changed much even though there are more people on the bus. The afternoon I came into the City it was sunny and 66 degrees. More outdoor dining was in play and more people were outside enjoying the weather.
I started my walk exiting the Port Authority at the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 42nd Street, a corner that still needs a lot of work. Pre-COVID this was a bustling area of theaters, shops and restaurants and one of the biggest McDonald’s in the country. Most of it is closed down now and the homeless have taken back over this area. Surprisingly though, it still remains clean a result of the Partnerships established in the mid-1990’s. This area is swept all day long.
This was nice for me as the sidewalks were empty and the streets were quiet and it was nice to just walk around and not be bothered. Being Labor Day, there seemed to be a huge police presence in Times Square just north of the neighborhood so I did my best to blend in.
Ninth Avenue is in the process of change again as many of the old tenement buildings are being knocked down for new condo complexes and office buildings. Still there are many old named businesses in the neighborhood and the Garment District is home to a lot of the restaurants mentioned in my blog, https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/. There are many ‘Mom & Pop’ restaurants and deli’s that are really reasonable and the food is outstanding.
Walking down West 42nd Street from the entrance of the Port Authority down to Ninth Avenue shares the border with the ‘Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton/Midtown West’ neighborhood and even now new restaurants are beginning to open in places that had been shut during the COVID pandemic. The pandemic is still going on but like any other city, New York City is adapting to it and there are many changes going on all over the neighborhood. It has not stopped the spirit of the neighborhood from progressing and moving forward.
What I have always liked about Ninth Avenue near Midtown is the character of the neighborhood. There are still old tenements and brownstones along the Avenue from 42nd Street down into Chelsea. Here and there old restaurant and provision shops sit along side newer delis and retail shops that show the change in the make up of the neighborhood. Still with the rezoning of the area I am not too sure how long this will last.
Ninth Avenue not only offers an array of many interesting ethnic businesses but many reasonable and interesting delis, take-out places and restaurants that won’t break the budget. Many of the dining establishments featured on my DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com site are found in the Garment District on its borders and streets that will save you money and the food is wonderful.
Starting right at the border of the neighborhood right across the street from the Port Authority is Capprizzi Pizza at 547 Ninth Avenue. Their delicious small pizzas are all homemade down to the sausage made for the toppings. When I ate there a few years ago they were noted for their small pepperoni pizza which was excellent. The service was very friendly and very authentic. It can be pricey though but the quality is excellent.
A block down and across the street from the Port Authority is the original Two Brother Pizza at 542 Ninth Avenue. This place has been around for years and has one of the best $1.00 slices of pizza in Manhattan. This is my ‘go to’ place when I need a quick snack and want something substantial. To my knowledge, it is one of the original dollar slice places in the City.
The restaurant is in a rather shady section of the shadow of the Port Authority. During the day it is okay but the later at night you get it does attract some interesting characters especially if you eat outside on one of the cocktail tables. The pizza is really good and is one of the few dollar pizza places where the pizza tastes like something. Most places I find in the City the pizza is just something to fill you up.
Across the street from Two Brothers Pizza and our ‘go to’ place for breakfast during the Christmas holidays was Hell’s Kitchen Deli, a relatively new place to the neighborhood. This is where I ordered Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwiches. The place is really clean and has a nice selection of snacks and sandwiches.
Hell’s Kitchen Deli at 535 Ninth Avenue has the best breakfast sandwiches
Though most of the housing in this part of the neighborhood is old tenement housing, you can look up from a distance and see some unusual carvings in the buildings. The building at 510-508 Ninth Avenue has some strange faces staring back at you from above. The building was built in 1920 (Apartments.com/StreetEasy.com).
When walking down Ninth Avenue, you will see the signs of the past not just in the architecture but in former restaurants and provision stores that used to line the Avenue. First there is Esposito Meat Market at 500 Ninth Avenue which has been in business since 1932. You can see the selection of meats and different cuts from the window. The one time I walked in you could smell the aroma of the freshly cut meats. The store prides itself on always delivering quality (Esposito Meat Market website).
Years ago I did an article on Manganaro’s Grosseria Italiano at 488 Ninth Avenue when owner Seline Dell’Orto still owned and worked at the store. The famous Italian provision store closed about ten years ago after years of squabbling but the sign is still there. It is now Tavolo Restaurant.
Manganaro’s Grosseria Italiano at 488 Ninth Avenue in 2011
Enjoy the article I wrote on Manganaro’s years ago:
One of the places that had inspired my dining site, “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC” is the 9th Avenue Gourmet Deli (Formerly the AM/PM & Juniors Deli) at 480 Ninth Avenue. This amazing little deli has it all, a nice grocery department, cold drinks and wonderful hot and cold food section that never ceases to amaze me.
The breakfast platters here are heaping with eggs, pancakes and sausage and the sandwich platters fill the take out containers. Everything is freshly cooked and delicious. Their burgers are cooked perfectly and they don’t skimp on the fries. The best part is that they are open 24 hours.
Another great place that I love to stop at is Kashmir 9 at 478 Ninth Avenue. The cuisine of the restaurant is traditional Bangladesh and Pakistani food with all sorts of baked goods and entrees. I have had their Lamb Kebobs, Chicken Patties, Potato Cutlets and the Vegetable Samosas are out of this world.
When you walk in the whole restaurant has the wonderful smell of curry and spices with the hustle and bustle of many languages being spoken. There is even a prayer rug in the back section of the restaurant for those on their breaks which I thought was a nice touch for their busy customers.
The kebobs here are delicious
As I passed all the restaurants, I walked down Ninth Avenue to a small park that I never really noticed before. At least that it was a park. This little park called “The Canoe” Plaza is part of the Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Alliance and is at the corner of Ninth Avenue and West 37th Street. This was the creation of the design team of Design Wild and was convert the block to a flowery heaven right at the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel (Hudson Yards Alliance/Design Wild).
The unique statue that graces the garden is by artist Jordan Baker- Caldwell called “Ascension”.
“Ascension” by Artist Jordan Baker-Caldwell
Jordan Baker-Caldwell is an American born artist from New York City and is the youngest artist in the history of New York to have a permanent public sculpture. The artist’s work has been noted as evoking questions about gravity, structure, balance and the human body in relation to space (Artist’s bio).
Please watch the video of the artist describing his work in the park
As I turned the corner of the border of the neighborhood at West 34th Street, I saw a familiar restaurant from Christmas time, Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue. This is where we ordered in our Christmas dinner. I have to admit that their fried rice is really good but the rest of the meal was okay.
Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue
Walking down West 34th Street brought back memories of my years at Macy’s. It is truly amazing how the City keeps changing. When I worked in the City in the early 1990’s, West 34th Street was not a place you wanted to walk at night or sometimes even during the day. From Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue was particularly sketchy. Now it is all new office buildings with most of the old neighborhood from Eighth to Seventh Avenue either completely knocked down or renovated.
Still there are a couple of old standbys still left. One of them before you arrive at Macy’s is the Hotel New Yorker on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 34th Street at 481 Eighth Avenue. The hotel was designed by architects Sugarman and Berger and designed in the Art Deco style. The hotel was constructed in 1928 and opened in 1930. The hotel now managed by Wyndam Hotels put the hotel through a full renovation in 2006 to bring it back to its glory years now reflected the resurgence of the neighborhood (Hotel New Yorker History website/Wiki).
I continued walking down West 34th Street to Seventh Avenue I arrived at Macy’s at 151 West 34th 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 with new retail stores lining this part of West 34th Street that used to be discount retailers.
Where the H & M store at 1293 Broadway 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.
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 at 1293 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.
Reaching the border with Murray Hill to the east 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.
The Ladies Shopping Mile on the Sixth Avenue corridor at the turn of the last century
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).
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 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).
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.
As I walked up Fifth Avenue, the western border of the neighborhood, I was struck by all the other beautiful buildings that must have housed fine retail stores as the shopping district moved to this area.
At the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 36th Street is 390 Fifth Avenue that was designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White for the Gorham Manufacturing Company of fine silver products in 1903. It was designed in the “Italian Renaissance Style” and was used for manufacturing and their showroom. It later became Russeks Department store and has now found other uses.
390 Fifth Avenue-The Gorham Manufacturing Building
Further up is the dazzling 373 Fifth Avenue which was built in 1800’s for the home of Charles H. Russell when the area was dominated by great mansions. As one by one the mansions were razed for commercial use, the home was razed in 1906 and architects Hunt & Hunt built the current office building in 1906 for Joseph Fahys & Company and for silversmiths Alvin Manufacturing Company (Daytonian).
Walking further up Fifth Avenue into the 400 block, more unique buildings fascinated me. The first that has always caught my eye is 401 Fifth Avenue, the old Tiffany & Company building. The building was designed for the company by Stamford White of McKim, Mead & White and was completed in 1905. The building was used by the jewelry store until 1940 when it moved to its new location further up Fifth Avenue. The building was inspired by the Palazzo Grimani de San Luca in Venice, Italy (Wiki).
Another standout building further up is 411 Fifth Avenue with its interesting trim and sculpture along the sides and top of the building. This building was built in 1915 again by the architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore with what was considered baroque trim that included urns, flowers and heads with facial reliefs (Daytonian). The building was used for small luxury manufacturing for things like millinery, lace and silversmiths. Today it is used as an office building.
Approaching the New York Public Library again, I passed what were some of the great department stores along the Fifth Avenue retail corridor that once dominated between 34th and 42nd Streets.
The former Lord & Taylor headquarters store that opened in 1914 just recently closed with a sale to the now imploded WeWorks company and was just sold to Amazon for 985 million dollars. This former ‘grand carriage trade’ store replaced the former headquarters store at Broadway and 20th Street by Union Square and opened at this location at 424-434 Fifth Avenue. The 11 story building was designed by architects Starrett & Van Vleck in the ‘Italian Renaissance Revival’. The store closed for business in January of 2019 after over one hundred years in the location.
Lord & Taylor was founded in New York City in 1826 and has moved around the City several times in its long history. I will miss walking around the store and wondering through the store at Christmas time which was always magical in the store’s heyday. I like everyone in the City will miss their Christmas windows.
I’m not sure if Amazon will continue this tradition
Another great retailer was at 452 Fifth Avenue, the former home to Knox Hat Company which was incorporated into the HSBC Tower in 1984. The glass tower was built around the Beaux Arts building for the HSBC and it was considered an architectural marvel when it opened. The Knox Building was built in 1902 and is considered on of the finest examples of ‘Beaux Arts style’ in Manhattan.
452 Fifth Avenue-The Knox Hat Company Building part of the HSBC Building
The Knox Hat Company was considered one of the finest hat companies for men when it was founded in 1838. It once had 62 retail stores and was sold in all the finest stores. It did not survive the Great Depression and was merged with three other companies in 1932 to form Hat Corporation of American (Hat Co) (Bernard Hats history).
The last interesting building I saw before returning to the library to relax by the fountains again was 454 Fifth Avenue at 40th Street, the old Arnold Constable & Company department store.
Fifth Avenue at 40th Street-Arnold Constable & Company Department store
The building opened in 1915 and closed when the company went out of business in 1975. It is now part of the New York Public Library. Arnold Constable & Company was founded in 1825 and was considered one of the oldest stores in New York City. The building was created as the shopping district moved further uptown. The company closed for business in the 1990’s.
I reached Bryant Park by the afternoon and it was just beautiful that afternoon. The park has gotten more crowded with each month that the City has opened. The tables and chairs are ‘socially distanced’ and park patrons did their best to stay away from each other. It also has the nicest and cleanest public bathrooms in Manhattan so it is worth the wait in line.
Years ago when I worked in Manhattan in the early 90’s, Bryant Park was only used for drug dealing and criminal activity and was best avoided. What twenty years and a major renovation can do to a park. Today you can walk along the flowering paths and think you are in Paris. In the past there have been concerts and movies in the park but because of COVID-19, you can just sit in the park on a chair or bench and enjoy the sunshine and admire the flowers.
Just walking along the paths of Bryant Park can make you forget your troubles
I continued my walk of the Garment District passing the New York Public Library admiring the stone carvings and statuary that is part of the entrance of the famous library. The library had just had a recent refreshing and looked magnificent with the fountains flowing and patrons filling the tables outside the building.
The New York Public Guards the borders of Murray Hill from Fifth Avenue
This famous iconic building was designed by the firm of Carrere and Hastings in the Beaux-Arts style and opened its doors May 23, 1911. The founding for this important library came from patronage of the wealth members of society who believed in the value education and opened it to the people.
The famous lion statues that grace the entrance of the library were designed by American sculptor Edward Clark Potter and they were carved by the Piccirilli Brothers, American stone carvers whose business was based in the Bronx.
Edward Clark Potter is an American born artist who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and at the Academie Julian in Paris where he studied ‘animalier’, animal sculpture.
The Piccirilli Brothers were a family of stone carvers and artists in their own right who were from Massa, Italy and owned a business in the Bronx. There were responsible for many famous statues all over the City including the Maine Memorial in Columbus Circle and the Firemen’s Memorial in Riverside Park.
Artist Attilio Piccirillo , one of the most famous from the family
Another feature of the famous building and I had never noticed before was the elegant fountains that flank the entrance to the library. I did not realize that these fountains had just been restored in 2015 after thirty years of not functioning. They were restored with a grant from the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust (NYPL Site).
The fountain “Beauty”
The fountain “Truth”
These beautiful fountains were designed by artist Frederick MacMonnies, an American born artist who studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
I relaxed under the trees and took a break from the walking. It is a funny thing that I have noticed at the park and it seems like no one is ever working. Everyone is either eating or talking. It has been so different since COVID started. You never see dressed businesspeople in the park taking a break. It looks more like it is full of tourists visiting.
Enjoy the opening scene of “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library:
Enjoy this scene from “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library
The opening of the film “Ghostbusters” was shot inside the New York Public Library
Still when the park is in full bloom there is nothing like it. It is surrounded by classic architecture and beautiful buildings. They even were bringing back the “Bryant Park Film Festival” by the end of the summer. One Monday night I took a break from walking and watched the film “Moonstruck” which I had seen outside once at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Even tough I had seen it hundreds of times since it came out I never tire of watching the film.
There have been many changes around Bryant Park in the last twenty years. Most of the older buildings of Times Square have been long knocked down and the area rebuilt which needed it. Now the impressive Bank of America building at 1111 Sixth Avenue (or also known as One Bryant Park) graces the corner of West 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue (trust me, no one in New York City calls Sixth Avenue “The Avenue of the Americas”).
This innovative building was designed by architect Rick Cook from the firm of Cookfox Adamson Associates. The building was designed with a clear ‘Curtin wall’ and several diagonal planes for wind resistance. The building was also awarded a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for sustainable ‘green’ architecture (Wiki/Durst website).
The further you walk down West 42nd Street, the more you see how the block has changed in the last thirty years. All the older theaters and office buildings were knocked down and cleared out back in the 1980’s when Times Square went through urban renewal. The more historical theaters and old hotels have since been refitted and renovated.
Across the street in Three Bryant Park’s plaza is an interesting statue entitled “The Guardians: Hero” by artist Antonio Pio Saracino. This unique sculpture in made in layers and created from marble set in precision stone. The statue is done in repeated planes of marble . The sculpture is a modern representation on Michelangelo’s “David” Stoneworld/APS Designs).
Artist Antonio Pio Saracino is an Italian born artist currently working in New York City. He is a graduate of Sapienza University of Rome and works as an architect and designer. He has had shows all over the world (Wiki).
At the corner of West 42nd Street and Broadway is the Knickerbocker Hotel at 6 Times Square. This hotel has had many incarnations over the years including an apartment house. As the neighborhood has improved, the historical buildings in the area have been renovated back to their former selves.
The Knickerbocker Hotel was built by John Jacob Astor IV and it opened in 1906. The hotel was designed by the firm of Marvin & Davis in the Beaux-Arts style. The outside of the hotel was built in red brick with terra cotta details. The hotel was fully renovated in 2015 (Wiki).
One building that stands tall in Times Square is One Times Square known as 1475 Broadway. Once the home headquarters for the New York Times was opened in 1904. The building was designed by architect Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz. The original façade was of stone and terra cotta but this has been mostly stripped and is now home for mostly advertising. The ball still drops from the top of the building every New Year (Wiki).
What is left of the old ’42nd Street’ Theater District has been renovated and refitted of its historic theaters. The rest of the block was knocked down and new office buildings were built starting in the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s. This is still a major gateway to the City especially from the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority (NYCEDC/42nd Street Redevelopment Project).
The original 42nd Street Redevelopment project (NYCEDC)
In the early 1980’s to the early 90’s until Mayor Rudy Giuliani took office, this area was being touted for redevelopment. It had started before the 1987 Stock Market Crash and then stalled for almost eight years. In the early 1990’s, the whole block between Seventh and Eighth Avenues along West 42nd Street were torn down, the theaters started to get renovated and new office buildings were built. If someone left New York City in 1990 and came back today, they would not recognize the neighborhood to the changes made.
Some of the changes has been the renovation and restoration of three beautiful theaters, the New Victory Theater at 209 West 42nd Street, the New Amsterdam Theater at 214 West 42nd Street and the former Empire Theater now the AMC Empire Theater at 234 West 42nd Street. Each of these architectural wonders used to be major theater houses before they became porn theaters and are now back to their original glory.
The New Victory Theater was one of the first theaters to reopen under the new plan.
The New Victory Theater was built by Oscar Hammerstein I in 1900 and was designed by architect Albert Westover. It opened as the Theatre Republic in 1900 and showed live stage shows. It did not become a movie theater until 1942 and by 1972 it became a porn theater. it resumed legitimate theater by the 1990’s when it was refurbished in 1995 and was the first theaters renovated in the 42nd Development plan (Wiki).
The New Amsterdam Theater is one of the oldest theaters in the area having been built between 1903 and 1904. The theater was built by Klaw and Erlanger for live theater and was designed by architects Herts &Tallant with a Beaux Arts exterior design and an Art Deco interior. The embellishments and details on the outside are quite elaborate (Wiki).
The theater was home to the Ziegfeld Follies from from 1913 to 1927 and hosted the elaborate shows of their day. It then was converted to a movie theater in 1937 until 1983 when it was leased to the Walt Disney company and renovated between 1995 and 1997. It is now operated by Disney Theatrical Productions for their live shows (Wiki/Walt Disney Company)
The former Empire Theater now the AMC Empire 25 was built in 1912 for producer Al H. Woods and was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb in the Beaux Arts style. The theater was for live stage performances until 1943 when it was converted into a movie palace. It closed for good in the 1980’s as the area declined (Cinema Treasurers).
In 1998, the theater was moved from its location at 236 West 42nd Street and moved down the street to its present location at 234 West 42nd Street. The exterior was largely kept intact and the present theater interior was built inside of it enhancing the beauty of the present building (Cinema Treasurers/Wiki).
These theaters showed the testament of time and this type of architecture now is appreciated and being refitted to modern uses like the buildings I had seen in NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) and in the Flatiron District.
A lot of the businesses on West 42nd Street heading back to the Port Authority have started opening up again. Sidewalk cafes were out with the warmer weather and customers were milling around. I saw this happening on my walks into the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton section just north of the border of the Garment District.
One of my favorite Chinese restaurants from the 1990’s, Ollies at 411 West 42nd Street had not just opened their dining room but their outside cafe dining. Ollies had once been a popular restaurant in the Theater district at the corner of West 46th Street off Broadway and one of my favorite places to eat after work. It is still popular but the chef has since changed.
One building that stood out amongst the smaller tenement buildings of West 42nd Street was the Holy Cross Church at 329 West 42nd Street, which was decorated by plantings of many flowers that gave it a festive appearance.
The building has a interesting history. The parish was established in 1852 and the original building was built in 1852 but it was outgrown so a new building was built in 1854. This building was hit by lightning in 1867 and the current building was built in the same spot in 1870. It was built by architect Henry Englebert and is the oldest building on 42nd Street (Wiki and Holy Cross History).
Once I got back to Port Authority it was back for a bathroom break as there are not many public toilets in the neighborhood. Then I made the walk around the second time around the perimeter of the Garment District admiring the buildings and businesses walking the other side of the street. I could see by the traffic that the east side of Eighth Avenue was very quiet near the now closed theaters.
This area was hit hard by COVID pandemic and it is rumored that Broadway theaters should open between September and December (at the time of this writing of this blog, some of the theaters started to open up and some closed immediately). Slowly over the past month and a half the night foot traffic has increased with the opening of live theater and the loosening restrictions at the movie theaters. This has lead to the restaurants in the area reopening as well so there are lights on now on these blocks at night. They have also gotten cleaned up more.
The changes of the Upper Part of the Garment District along with Hell’s Kitchen have changed tremendously in the last thirty years with completion of the 42nd Street Redevelopment projects, more new hotels opening and the rezoning of the area under the Bloomberg Administration. We will start to see even more changes in this area as development post COVID starts to open. The funny part is that even when I entered the City again last June, it never stopped.
This part of Manhattan keeps moving forward with new buildings, new restaurants and new ideas.
Please check out my other blogs on the Garment District:
Day Two Hundred and Twelve: Walking the Avenues of the Garment District:
On a recent trip to New Haven, CT for the Yale versus Cornell game, I had enough time after the game to visit one of the University’s art museum’s that was located down the road from the stadium, the Yale University Art Museum. This four story museum displays the history of art from all over the world. It is by no means a small museum gallery and you will need more than one afternoon this very detailed museum.
The Yale University Art Gallery at 1111 Chapel Street
I started on the first floor with their Ancient Art galleries featuring items from digs that the university sponsored over 100 years ago. There are works from the Ancient Near East, Egypt and Europe from tiles from Mesopotamia…
The Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is located at the back of the Cape May Airport. Just follow the road to the back of the airport at 500 Forrestal Road in Hangar #1.
This interesting museum is a treasure trove of artifacts from WWII to today from jeeps to cars and trucks to airplanes. Some of the vehicles you can step into and see what it was like to ride these pieces of aviation history.
There are several airplanes that with the assistance of the staff you can enter and see what air travel was like for these pilots. All the planes have been carefully restored and displayed for viewing and use by tourists. There is…
The Avalon History Center is at 215 39th Street in Downtown Avalon, NJ
Recently I took a tour of small Jersey shore towns and their historical societies. These interesting little museums are packed with information on the history and development of these towns. The progress of these towns from fishing and hunting villages for the Native Americans to the modern day resorts and permanent residence’s have a fascinating history.
The Avalon History Center was the last museum on my visit to the shore that day and it had become very gloomy outside. The town was relatively quiet when I got there on a late Thursday night. I ended up having the whole museum to myself to tour. The curator came out and greeted me nicely and…
The entrance to the museum is inside the Municipal Building and Library 1735 Simpson Avenue
I made a trip to many of the beach towns at the Jersey Shore recently visiting the small historical societies that explain the history and development of these small towns. It is amazing to see how they have developed in just 150 years from Native American fishing villages to thriving vacation spots and permanent residential districts. Ocean City, NJ itself has an interesting history.
As you enter the museum from the back of the library, you are warmly greeted by a docent who will explain the museum to you. Then you will follow a semicircle through the exhibitions in a genealogical order from when the town was founded to modern times and events.
The Sea Isle City Museum is located inside the Sea Isle Library at 4800 Central Avenue just off Downtown Sea Isle City, NJ
On a recent trip of touring the small towns of the Jersey shore, I set out to visiting many of the historical societies that tell the histories of these towns and how they have progressed from small Native American fishing villages to the resort and residential towns of today. Each of these museum has their own unique focus to how they tell their story.
The Sea Isle City Museum at 4800 Central Avenue is located in the back of the Municipal Building right next to the Sea Isle City Library. This small museum that is manned by volunteers is packed with local historical artifacts, pictures and…
Johnson’s Popcorn at 1360 Boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ
Taking a trip down the Jersey Shore is always fun especially on a late summer afternoon during the week when there are not too many people around and you have the whole Boardwalk to yourself. When I arrived at the Ocean City, NJ Boardwalk, it was mostly locals walking around, enjoying the sunny afternoon jogging, power walking and conversing with neighbors. You could see it was a tightknit group on the Boardwalk that day.
I have been coming to Ocean City, NJ only recently staying the night six years ago when I thought I might have a job close by. I started to explore the shore towns and made Ocean City my headquarters for that trip…