Have you ever walked around Manhattan when it is 25 degrees outside? When the picks up, it gets cold!
My best friend thought I was nuts when I started to walk the lower part of the Garment District on a sunny but cold Saturday. This part of the neighborhood is bound by the campus of the Fashion Institute of Technology in the middle of the neighborhood and what remains of the Flower District on the eastern border with NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) neighborhood and the new Hudson Yards neighborhood to the west. In all parts of the neighborhood, old is mixing with new as this area of Manhattan continues to change.
As I crossed the border into the neighborhood at West 34th Street, I was greeted by Golden City Chinese Restaurant near the corner of West 34th Street
Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue
This is the restaurant I braved the cold last Christmas to pick up my best friend, Maricel and I’s Christmas dinner. Over orders of Lemon Chicken, Roast Pork Lo Mien, Hot & Sour Soup and egg rolls, we chowed down our dinner in our hotel room toasting Santa. The food is very good here and they have reopened their inhouse dining.
Walking down Ninth Avenue, you can see how the neighborhood is transiting from the former working-class neighborhood and docks to the upscale office and apartment buildings of the Hudson Yards to the west. Little by little the small brownstone buildings are disappearing and being replaced by shiny new glass structures.
Between One Manhattan and Two Manhattan West in the Hudson Yards complex between 389 and 395 Ninth Avenue is the Citrovia display. I was trying to figure out if this was a company display or an artist’s display. There were all sorts of lemons all in the trees and in the gardens. During the summer, these must be an amazing place to sit but between the snow and the winds that sunny day, I just walked through the display.
The Citrovia display at One Manhattan West on Ninth Avenue (Manhattan West Website)
Citrovia is a fantastic outdoor interactive outdoor installation that transports the visitor to a sprawling citrus garden of whimsical displays, a sitting area with a lemon tree forest and I swear when you walk through the whole thing you can smell fresh lemon (Manhattan West website). It is almost like the ‘Land of Oz” with lemon trees and slices all over the place. It is a whimsical journey through the lemon display.
I walked through the Manhattan West complex, and it really dawned on me how the neighborhood has changed so much in the last decade. They took a run-down neighborhood and made it shine with modern buildings housing new tech companies and a series of restaurants, shops and hotels. It is a neighborhood onto itself.
Manhattan West complex (Manhattan West.com)
Across the street from the Manhattan West complex old meets new with the former NYC Post Office, which is now finishing its renovation and is now the Patrick Moynihan Train Station, The James A. Farley building.
The James A. Farley Building was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White and was designed in the Beaux Arts style, the sister building to the former Penn Station (where the current Madison Sqaure Garden now sits). The current renovation of the building to turn the dream into a reality is by the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Wiki).
I was able to walk the halls and staircases of the complex that afternoon and the interiors are still not finished with a few of the restaurants now opened but the polished floors and new artwork is in full view. The public bathrooms are a nice change from the ones in Penn Station. The rest of the complex will be open by the spring.
The new rendering of the James A. Farley Building to the Patrick Moynihan Train Hall (Vno.com)
James A. Farley
James A. Farley was a former politician and the former Postmaster General under the FDR Administration.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a former politician and diplomat.
When I reached the border of the neighborhood at West 28th Street, I saw that I was across the street from the Church of the Holy Apostles at 296 Ninth Avenue, where I volunteer for the Soup Kitchen. I realized that afternoon that I have not been there in almost two years. The last time I had volunteered was the Friday before the government shut the country down on March 13, 2020. It dawned on me how long COVID has been going on.
What I never noticed in the almost 17 years that I have been volunteering at the Soup Kitchen was Chelsea Park across at the corner of Ninth Avenue and between West 28th and 27th Streets. I had always thought this was part of P.S. 33, the elementary school next door complex. This was a whole separate park.
Chelsea Park during the summer months
Chelsea Park extends all the way to Tenth Avenue with soccer and basketball courts and places for people to not just run but relax under the blanket of trees in the summer. Facing Ninth Avenue in a small courtyard is the statue of the ‘Chelsea Doughboy’.
“The Chelsea Doughboy” Memorial (NYCParks.org)
The statute was designed to honor the war veterans of WWI. The term “Doughboy” no one is too sure where it originated. Some think from the fried dough dumplings that the soldiers eat or maybe from the way their uniforms looked which were a little baggy or from the dough clay that they used to clean their uniforms (NYCParks.org).
The statue was designed by artist Philip Martiny.
Artist Philip Martiny
Artist Philip Martiny was a French born American artist who settled in New York when he immigrated here in 1878. He was a contemporary of artist August Saint-Gaudens and known for his decorative styles in the Beaux-Arts fashion. He created many sculptures for buildings in New York City and Washington DC (Wiki).
Across the street is the Church of the Holy Apostles, where I have been volunteering for years in the Soup Kitchen (mentioned in many of my blogs between 2015-2020 before the COVID shutdown). The Church of the Holy Apostles was built between 1845 to 1848 and was designed by architect Minard Lafever with the stained-glass windows designed by William Jay Bolton (Wiki).
The church has always been progressive, and it was rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. The church had been an extension of the Trinity Church downtown for the working-class people in the area. Now it also runs the second largest Soup Kitchen in the United States. The biggest is in San Franciso (Wiki).
The Church of the Holy Apostles at 296 Ninth Avenue feels like a second home to me
Behind the church is the housing that formally union housing for the International Ladies Garment Union housing, now known as “Penn South”, that was created in the 1950’s for housing for union workers. Contruction started in 1960 and these ten building still house some of the elderly members of the union. In the courtyard of building Seven is dedicated to Bayard Rustin, a civil rights and union member who lived there. There is a memorial plaque to him in the courtyard Wiki).
Activist Bayard Ruskin
The plaque dedicated to the activities is outside Building Seven between Eighth and Seventh Avenues
As I traveled the border of the neighborhood on West 28th Street from Ninth to Sixth Avenues, I have never seen so much transition on a street. On one side of the street is the back part of my Alma Mater ‘The Fashion Institute of Technology’. It seems that the college is taking the back loading dock area and building an addition to the college. On the other side of the street between Eighth and Seventh, the entire street has either been knocked down and rebuilt or older buildings renovated but the entire block between the two avenues is brand new.
As you cross Seventh Avenue at West 28th Street are the last remnants of the former “Flower District” which dominated these blocks here and along Sixth Avenue until the area was rezoned in the 1990’s. Now Sixth Avenue in this area is now apartment buildings and hotels. Still there are many commercial flower shops here and some amazing floral businesses along this block.
Mahir Floral & Event Designs at 156 West 28th Street is one of the nicest flower shops in the district. The store is so beautifully designed to showcase not only the flowers but the decorative items that they sell along with the plants and flowers.
Mahir Floral & Event Designs at 156 West 28th Street
There are all sorts of interesting design pieces that not only make the perfect gift but also to create the perfect event.
The store is so beautifully designed to showcase their items
Another wonderful store is Foliage Paradise at 113-115 West 28th Street. What I love about the store is the way it is designed when you walk through it. It is like walking through an enchanted tropical garden with paths down exotic trees and flowers on all sides. They have a big commercial and retail business according to the salesperson I talked to that day.
Foliage Paradise at 113-115 West 28th Street
In the front of the store when the weather is warm, it is lined with the most seasonal flowers and plants. When you walk through the store, it is like walking through an Amazon jungle in a warm climate at any month of the year. Just touring this store is fun.
Walking through Foliage Paradise is an experience
What brought back a lot of good memories when I walked down West 28th Street was walking past the Moxy Hotel at 105 West 28th Street. This was my starting point of my morning of walking “The Great Saunter Walk”, the 32-mile excursion around the Island of Manhattan over the summer of 2021 (before I pulled my back out).
The Moxy Hotel at 105 West 28th Street has the most amazing views
My blog on Day One Hundred and Sixty-Seven: “The Great Saunter Walk”:
I had the most interesting room on the 10th floor with the most breathtaking view of Midtown Manhattan. I would just sit on the bed looking at the views before going to sleep. You have never seen a site than Midtown all lit up at night.
The Lower Garment District shares the border with the NoMAD and Koreatown neighborhoods and even over the last few months I have noticed some significant changes in the blocks that I had explored for the blog. Many buildings had been finished that were under construction or were in the process of being renovated. They still looked empty but there were better days ahead when they will be filled with the latest tech and advertising companies. Sixth Avenue is becoming a big commercial and residential neighborhood.
Sixth Avenue from West 28th to West 34th Streets has been going through a big transition over the last twenty years as the flower industry has moved mostly to Hunts Point and new apartment buildings have sprung up along the avenue. Many of the Beaux Arts buildings have been or in the process of being renovated as this are served as Midtown from the Civil War to the end of WWI. Not much has changed along the Broadway corridor.
I started my walk on the 34th Street border of the neighborhood by looking at Macy’s window displays along Broadway to see if much had changed since the holidays. 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.
Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street
At the very edge of the neighborhood on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 35th Street is the most interesting piece of artwork on a building that once housed the Desigual flagship store. The work is by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel and entitled “Multicultural Freedom Statue” and was created in 2019. It is a tribute to multiculturalism in New York City (Artist Bio). The store has since closed.
The painting at Sixth Avenue at West 35th Street by artist Okuda San Miguel (now painted over in 2023)
Artist Okuda San Miguel
Artist Okuda San Miguel was born in Spain and known for his colorful geometric styles in painting. He graduated from the Complutense University of Madrid with a BFA and has shown his work all over the world (Wiki).
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
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).
When I worked at Macy’s in the early 1990’s, Herald and Greeley Squares were places to avoid until about 1994 when the parks were renovated and new plantings and French metal café tables were added. Now it is hard at lunch time to find a table. In the process of the renovations, the City also restored the statues dedicated to James Gordon Bennett and Horace Greeley.
The statue dedicated to James Gordon Bennett and his son James Gordon Bennett II
The statue is to Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom and Invention and two blacksmiths who flank a bell that once topped the Herald Building where the New York Herald, which was founded by James Gordon Bennett in 1835. The statue was dedicated in the park in 1895 (NYCParks.org).
James Gordon Bennett
The statue was designed by Antonin Jean Carles
Artist Antonin Jean Carles
Antonin Jean Carles was born in France and was a student of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse. He was known for his monument sculptures.
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 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). It looks like it recently opened for guests as the lobby was lit and people were milling around.
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 had once been one of the most notorious welfare hotels in the 1980’s.
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, a 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 needed a slice of pizza and with the budgets being tight, a dollar slice is always nice on a cold day.
Fresh Pizza & Deli at 867 Sixth Avenue
The pizza here is excellent
After my snack, I walked back down West 34th Street to Ninth Avenue, passing new construction and scaffolding along the way. As I have noted in many of my blogs, West 34th Street from Broadway to Ninth Avenue has changed tremendously in the twenty-five years since I left Macy’s. Blocks that we would have never walked on then are vibrant and full of shoppers and diners now.
I made it back to the Hotel New Yorker by the end of the afternoon. The Hotel New Yorker like a Grande Dame guarding the Garment District. 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).
The Hotel New Yorker at 481 Eighth Avenue
I think the lower part of the Garment District like the rest of the area is in a state of transition. There is so much change and building going on you would never have thought that COVID was on the radar.
I think the City is ready for people to come back to work.
Please read my other blogs on walking the Lower Garment District:
Day Two Hundred and Seventeen: Walking the Borders of the Lower Garment District/Flower & Fur Districts:
Day Two Hundred and Nineteen: Walking the Avenues of the Lower Garment District/Flower & Fur Districts:
Day Two Hundred and Twenty: Walking the Streets of the Lower Garment District/Flower & Fur Districts:
Places to Visit:
Patrick Moynihan Train Hall
421 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10199
West 27th Street & Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-11:00pm
113-115 West 28th Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 675-9696/(212) 206-8461
Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:30am-5:30pm
My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:
Mahir Floral & Event Designs
156 West 28th Street
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 686-1999
Open: Monday-Saturday-7:00am-6:00pm/Sunday: 8:00am-4:00pm
My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:
Places to Eat:
Fresh Pizza and Deli (Take-out only now)
876 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-12:00am
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:
Golden City Chinese Restaurant
423 Ninth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Open: Sunday 11:00am-11:00pm/Monday-Friday 10:30am-11:30pm/Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor: