Day Two Hundred and Nineteen: Walking the Avenues of the Lower Garment District/Flower & Fur Districts Seventh and Eighth Avenues between West 34th and 28th Streets February 6th, 2020

I had to pick one of the coldest days of the year to come into New York City. Since it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I decided to finally visit the Museum of Mathematics on East 26th Street. The museum has been closed for most of the pandemic and finally reopened for people to visit. I decided to endure the cold weather and visit the museum I had passed so many times on my walks in the Rose Hill and NoMAD neighborhoods.

Since the museum and NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) are the next neighborhood over from the Lower Garment District, I decided to walk the avenues as well to see what changes have taken place in the last twenty years as well.

With the renovations of the post office to the new train station and the development of the Hudson Yards, this neighborhood is quickly being changed from small office buildings to an extension of Midtown with shiny new office buildings and apartment buildings. New parks and malls are being developed for the residents moving in and in the over seventeen years that I have been volunteering at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on West 28th Street, I have watched the entire neighborhood gentrify. I have never seen a neighborhood be knocked down or sandblasted since my walks in Harlem.

I started my morning walking down to Madison Square Park, which has been my headquarters since visiting these neighborhoods. The dog walkers were in full swing as well as parents strolling around with their children both in carriages and the playgrounds. Even though it was about 30 degrees at the time, it looked like people just wanted to get out of the house.

Madison Square Park in its glory over the summer

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/madison-square-park

The first Shake Shack is located in the southern part of the park, and I could not believe the lines and the people dining outside. I guess people really did have cabin fever. Wanting a snack before I visited the museum, I bypassed the restaurants that I had seen earlier in the year and headed to a new takeout restaurant whose flags indicated that it had just opened. I went to Dim Sum Sam at 28 East 23rd Street.

Dim Sum Sam at 28 East 23rd Street

https://www.facebook.com/dimsumsam/menu

https://www.zmenu.com/dim-sum-sam-new-york-online-menu/

The restaurant looked like it had just opened that day (I read that it had opened the week before) and the case lines when you walk in are filled with all sorts of buns and egg custards. The prices were a bit higher than Chinatown, but the food was a welcome on a cold day. I just had a quick Roast Pork Bun and an Egg Custard which were both delicious. I ate them as a crossed the park and finished before I got to the front door of the museum (see my review on TripAdvisor).

The Roast Pork Buns are amazing

The National Museum of Mathematics is a great little museum for families with small children. The museum has two full floors of exhibitions with a spiral staircase separating the floors and a gift shop at the entrance. On the main floor there are interesting interactive exhibitions such as the Shapes of Space that show how different shapes fit together on a curved surface. I was not too sure what the point of it was, but the kids seemed to enjoy it and it was interesting to see how they connected. The Square wheeled Trike was interesting as you rode a square wheeled type of bike on a bumpy surface to check velocity. The kids and young parents really liked this.

The “Shapes of Space” exhibition

The displays I enjoyed on the main floor were Motionscape, where you had to walk as fast as you could on the track to check the relationship between velocity, your position and acceleration. It was interesting to see how your body movements when walking affects the way you react. The other display that was really popular was Hoop Curves which was always busy. The exhibit used statistics and a robot arm to shoot the basketball. The kids got a real kick out of this when trying to make a basket.

On the lower level, there were more interactive displays along with an explanation of the math along with the creators of the theory. I found that interesting because you could see who all the mathematicians were who the projects were based on or who had contributed to them.

One of the interactive displays that I enjoyed was the Tessellation Station, where you could create displays with magnetic tiles on a large board. Later I learned about Tessellation as a form of making shapes fit together in a pattern and then the theory behind that. It was a fun way to use your creativity.

The “Tessellation Station” exhibition is a lot of fun

Another was the Tree of Life, where the computer copied the movements of myself and then used them to show the how I moved my arms and legs in a pattern. It was funny to see myself repeated over and over again like a tree with branches. It really did measure the movement of my body.

The Twist and Roll display showed how to put different shapes and sizes together and show their movement on the board. The one display that all the kids got a kick out of was the Math Board, where the colors and shapes of the section of the floor lit up when you walked on them and was controlled by the way you walked on them.

The “Math Board”

The Museum of Mathematics is a great museum for younger children who want to get physical and have a good time and like the interaction. I learned a few things too about the fundamentals of math and some of its background theories.

Still, it is a great museum for kids under the age of twelve and their younger parents. I think anything over that age would warrant a trip to the American Museum of Natural History or the Liberty Science Center with more exhibits that are age appropriate. It is a museum you should visit once or twice with small children who are at the learning stage and just want to have fun.

After I left the museum, I decided to walk the two avenues in the neighborhood of the Lower Garment District and see how things have changed over the years. There has been tremendous growth and building in the twenty-five years since I worked here and for the better. Most of the older buildings and cut-rate businesses are gone being replaced by a vibrant commercial district that was desperately needed in this part of the City.

Ever since the City reopened last June and even before, this area of Midtown has been changing at breakneck speed. The blocks around Eight Avenue has been under construction for about three years with one small building blocking a bigger one from being built on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 34th Street. Madison Square Garden on the corner of Eighth Avenue between West 33rd and 32nd Streets is under construction for renovations and additions and much of lower Eighth Avenue the smaller businesses have emptied out due to lack of business with the pandemic.

Madison Square Garden is one of the most controversial buildings in the City when it replaced the old Penn Station. The majestic building that was designed by McKim, Mead & White in the Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1910 was closed in 1963 and knocked down for the current building.

The outcry from this started the Historic Preservation Movement in the City and prevented future buildings from demolition. These types of buildings are now protected under New York City’s Landmark Preservation Act. The biggest problem cited at the time was that the rail service was declining, and the building was getting too expensive to maintain (Wiki).

The old Penn Station that was knocked down in the 1960’s

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_Station_(New_York_City)

With the reconfiguration of these grand train depots today not just at Grand Central Station (see my blogs on Midtown East and Murray Hill) as well as Penn Stations in Philadelphia and Washington DC, I could only imagine what it would be like today. We are now seeing it in the new Moynihan Train Hall in the former James A. Farley Post Office 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)

https://www.vno.com/office/property/the-farley-building/3313609/landing

James A. Farley

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Farley

James A. Farley was a former politician and the former Postmaster General under the FDR Administration.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Patrick_Moynihan

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a former politician and diplomat.

The train station is now open but not yet finished but the first restaurants have opened and there is good traffic flow through the former post office. I could not believe what a five-year renovation and millions of dollars can produce. When the new train station opens fully with shops and restaurants, it will rival anything all the other stations.

Down the block from the station, there are two restaurants that do stand out amongst the closed establishments and the fast-food restaurants. One is New York Pizza Suprema at 413 Eighth Avenue. The pizza here is amazing but a bit pricer than most of the pizza places in the Garment District but the quality more than makes up for it. Every time I have eaten here the food has been terrific.

Pizza Suprema at 413 Eighth Avenue

http://nypizzasuprema.com/

The other restaurant that I enjoy when I am in the area is New Dynasty Inc. Chinese Food at 393 Eighth Avenue in a store whose sign still advertises videos and games. Don’t miss this excellent and very underrated Chinese takeout establishment. I love their Orange Chicken and Roast Pork Lo Mien when I eat there. They also have excellent eggrolls.

New Dynasty Inc at 393 Eighth Avenue

https://www.newdynastyny.com/

When I walked back around Eighth Avenue and down West 34th Street to Seventh Avenue, there is construction all along West 34th Street so don’t be surprised if this is all new businesses and shops and dining in the next year. Madison Square Garden is going through a major renovation and rebuilt on this side of the property.

Like the Grande Dame of the neighborhood, the Seventh Avenue entrance of Macy’s greets you on the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 34th Street. This entrance leads to the Men’s Store where you have really nice public bathrooms in the basement level if you need them.

R.H. Macy Inc. at 151 West 34th Street

https://l.macys.com/new-york-ny

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macy%27s_Herald_Square

Walking down Seventh Avenue from West 34th Street brought back a flood of memories for me of lunch breaks from work and a lot of late night walks from the Fashion Institute of Technology when I was attending graduate school there. There still is a lot of silence as Madison Square Garden is active but not as much as it was before COVID. Even Penn Station is not as busy even though Manhattan is opened up. Many people are not back to work yet in the office buildings.

The creepy part is passing the Hotel Pennsylvania, one of the most famous hotels in New York City (Pennsylvania 6-5000 as the song goes) at 401 Seventh Avenue right across from Madison Square Garden. The hotel had been closed since the pandemic started but even when I worked at Macy’s the hotel always seemed run down. It was not a place many Macy’s executives wanted to stay at when they were doing business at the store.

The Hotel Pennsylvania was built in 1919 by the Pennsylvania Railroad and was designed by architect William Symmes Richardson from McKim, Mead & White. It was designed by the firm who designed Penn Station across the street and the limestone facade mirrored that of the station. The hotel has gone through many ownerships over the last one hundred years and returned to the name Hotel Pennsylvania in 1991. The hotel closed for business in April 2020 and is in the process of being demolished. There will be a new series of office buildings built in the area (Wiki).

The Hotel Pennsylvania at 401 Seventh Avenue (Wiki)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_Pennsylvania

We will always have Glenn Miller though. Pennsylvania 6-5000.

At the edge of the neighborhood lies the back of the campus of The Fashion Institute of Technology which just reopened to students earlier this year. It is nice to see the campus finally back in session again.

There are a few interesting restaurants that I have eaten at over the years along the way. Mustang Harry’s at 352 Seventh Avenue I had just eaten at earlier in the year for the Michigan State University versus University of Kansas Champions Tournament basketball game. The food is good, but it is very expensive for what you get (see the review on TripAdvisor).

Mustang Harry’s at 352 Seventh Avenue is a good place to watch the games

Home Page

https://www.facebook.com/mustangharrysnyc/

As I made my way back up Seventh Avenue, I stopped at Rony’s Fresh Pizza at 355 Seventh Avenue for a quick slice for a snack. This little hole in the wall pizzeria near FIT was really good. For a dollar, the pizza had amazing flavor and the sauce was delicious. Sometimes these places surprise you.

Rony’s Fresh Pizza at 355 Seventh Avenue is terrific

https://www.zmenu.com/ronys-fresh-pizza-new-york-online-menu/

After I finished my walk of the Avenues, I took a detour up Sixth Avenue back to Bryant Park and stopped at Krispie Kreme at 994 Sixth Avenue for a doughnut. All this walking put me in the mood for something sweet and I had not been there in a while.

I had a Lemon Filled Glaze doughnut ($2.00) and I swear, it was the best two dollars I ever spent. I had not had one of these doughnuts in over a year and it always tastes so good. The best part it was still warm, and you could taste the glaze over the sweet filling (see my review on TripAdvisor).

I walked all over Bryant Park just admiring the crowds in the park on such a cold day and decided to take a walk-up Times Square and watch the crowds. I could not believe on such a cold day lots of people were milling around.

I ended the evening back in Hell’s Kitchen at Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen at 811 Eighth Avenue. I had not been there in almost three years since before the pandemic. It had not been open for the longest time and before the pandemic, it was always packed during Christmas of 2019. I swear I have been coming to this restaurant since its opening.

Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen at 811 Eighth Avenue

https://www.kungfulittlesteamedbunsramen.com/

The food here is excellent and what a meal on a cool night. I started with an order of Fried Bread, which tastes like a churro without the sweet filling. That really warmed me up with the crisp soft bread at every bite. I had an order of their Soup Dumplings and I love to slurp these things with every mouthful bursting with every bite in your mouth.

The order of Wonton Soup was perfect on a cold night with the rich broth and soft meaty wontons and Bok choy is almost a meal onto itself. I really missed the food here.

Walking around the neighborhood brought back so many memories of my years of working at Macy’s and for that has changed in the neighborhood it feels like little has as things still do look the same. They just look better and more vibrant.

That’s what can happen in twenty-five years in a City that just keeps morphing.

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:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/21892

Day Two Hundred and Nineteen: Walking the Avenues of the Lower Garment District/Flower & Fur Districts:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/22117

Day Two Hundred and Twenty: Walking the Streets of the Lower Garment District/Flower & Fur Districts:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/22180

Places to Eat:

New Dynasty Inc. (Takeout and Delivery only in 2022)

393 8th Avenue

New York, NY  10001

https://www.newdynastyny.com/

(212) 594-9734/(212) 594-0548

Open: Monday-Friday 10:30am-11:30pm/Saturday & Sunday 11:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15061363-Reviews-New_Dynasty-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/911

NY Pizza Suprema

413 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 594-8939

http://nypizzasuprema.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:30am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d2409563-Reviews-NY_Pizza_Suprema-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Mustang Harry’s

352 Seventh Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 268-8930

Home Page

https://www.facebook.com/mustangharrysnyc/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:30am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d478290-Reviews-Mustang_Harry_s-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Rony’s Fresh Pizza

355 Seventh Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(917) 338-2392

Open: Sunday-Saturday 9:00am-3:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d23885403-Reviews-Rony_s_Fresh_Pizza-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Krispie Kreme

964 Sixth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

(212) 776-8176

https://site.krispykreme.com/ny/new-york/994-6th-ave

Open: Sunday-Wednesday 6:00am-10:00pm/Thursday 6:00am-11:00pm/Friday-Saturday 6:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d19600256-Reviews-Krispy_Kreme-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Bun Ramen

811 Eighth Avenue

New York, NY 10019

(917) 338-2555

https://www.kungfulittlesteamedbunsramen.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-8:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d6872074-Reviews-Kung_Fu_Little_Steamed_Buns_Ramen-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

5 thoughts on “Day Two Hundred and Nineteen: Walking the Avenues of the Lower Garment District/Flower & Fur Districts Seventh and Eighth Avenues between West 34th and 28th Streets February 6th, 2020

  1. Good morning, Justin, Reading this blog is a great way to greet the day. I certainly feel like I’ve Had a nice stroll in NY, in the area I’m so familiar with. HASK, plus Michael lived in Hells Kitchen on 48th betweeen 9th and 10th where I spent many of my earlier days in NY.

    Have a great Monday! I’ve been launched into mine! Lucy

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never realized what a interesting and complex area the Lower Garment/Flower District was myself. It is in the process of major changes with new buildings. I am now walking the Hudson Yards section.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I never heard of it either until I walked this section of the City. I just visited the Society of Illustrators on the Upper East Side which I never knew existed either. This is what I love about this project is discovering new things. There are more surprises to come!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s