Well, I finally returned to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen after an over two-year absence. The last time I had been there as you may have read from my blogs from 2020 was March 8th, 2020, the week before the country shut down before COVID hit New York City. These were the days when we were serving almost a seven hundred people a day (the numbers today are even higher) a hot sit-down meal. Now everything is to go.
I worked in Social Services, and I helped people with their mail, find clothes, get them hair cut vouchers and give them toiletries. They had me running all morning and I was pooped when I was finished. Still, it was nice to feel needed again and it was such a pleasure to see old familiar faces that I had not seen in two years.
When I started the walk of the lower Hudson Yards, I never thought of the neighborhood changes just on this border. You go from the Lower Garment District to Hudson Yards to Chelsea just in a block. The lines are getting blurred thanks to the real estate agents. This area was once solidly Chelsea now it is becoming part of Hudson Yards as the neighborhood is fast developing.
What I did learn from walking the neighborhood was more about the history of The Church of the Holy Apostles. 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
It was also convenient in that it was where I needed to start my walk on the edge of West 28th Street where the church is located right across from Chelsea Park south of the northern section of Hudson Yards and right across from the Lower Garment District (please read my blogs on walking these parts of Manhattan as well).
What I never noticed in the almost 17 years that I have been volunteering at the Soup Kitchen was that it was a park. Chelsea Park is located across the street 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. There is a whole separate park behind that corner.
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).
I walked past Chelsea Park on the way to Tenth Avenue and walked all along the borders of the park. The park is becoming a homeless encampment. I have not seen anything like this since Mayor Guiliani closed Thompkins Square Park in the East Village and then fenced it off to the homeless and renovated it. There were people sleeping all over the place even by the small playground that the kids were playing in. It really is beginning to show the state of the City now. The bathrooms were even locked to the patrons.
The track area was pretty much empty and what was really a shocker is how the neighborhood again changes at the Tenth Avenue border. This part of the neighborhood has gotten extremely expensive that was documented in the documentary “Class Divide” on the changes of the neighborhood due to the Highline.
“Class Divide” by HBO. The sound is muted but you can see it with subtitles
On the other side of Chelsea Park is some of the newest and most expensive real estate in Manhattan, a lot due to the Highline. The Highline is an elevated walkway that starts on West 30th Street and extends to West 19th Street and has in recent years set the tone for this part of the neighborhood.
The Highline Park was created from a remnant of the former New York Central railroad spur that was elevated above the roads below. In 2006, there was a neighborhood effort to save it and create an urban park. Now the 1.45-mile park supplies an elevated greenery above the neighborhood which has created expensive real estate on all sides of the park (Wiki).
The Highline Park was designed by James Corner Field Operations, Piet Oudolf and Diller, Scofidio and Renfro.
As I passed the Highline Park, I passed the most unusually designed building at 520 West 28th Street. The building is a residential complex known as the Zaha Hadid Building after the architect who designed it Zaha Hadid. It was one of her only residential complexes that she designed and one of the last buildings she created before her death. The building is designed with curvilinear geometric motifs (Wiki).
520 West 28th Street-The Zaha Hadid Building (Streeteasy.com)
You will be passing a lot of construction going on by the time you get to Twelve Avenue. Buildings are being renovated and rebuilt and all new buildings are popping up on the edge of this now very trendy neighborhood. What was once dock yards and parking lots is becoming high end office buildings for “Silicon Alley” as the Tech industry is called in New York City.
At the end of the block is Hudson River Park, a strip of green park created on this side of Manhattan under the Bloomberg Administration (God are we now missing those years!). This little strip of park at the end of West 28th Street has some interesting views of Edgewater, NJ. The afternoon I visited the park, there were a few joggers and dog walkers making their way through the park. The strip gets smaller along Twelve Avenue until you walk to about West 42nd Street by the Circle Line boat ride.
As you enter the park, there is a very unusual set of sculptures entitled ‘Two Too Large Tables’ by artists Allan and Ellen Wexler. Two Too Large Tables consists of two elements. Each is constructed of brushed stainless steel and Ipe wood.
One piece has thirteen chairs extended up to become columns that raise sixteen square feet plane seven feet off the ground. In the second piece, the same chairs act as supporters to lift a sixteen square feet plane 30 inches off the ground. The first functions as a shade pavilion, the second as a community table. As people sit, they become part of the sculpture. People sitting together, forming unusual pairings because of the chair groupings (Artist bio).
Two Too Large Tables in Hudson River Park (Artist bio)
Artist Allen Wexler
Artist Allen Wexler is an American born artist from Connecticut and studied at Rhode Island School of Design where he received his BFA and BS in Architecture. He studied and earned his MS in Architecture from the Pratt Institute. He is known for his multiple disciplines in art (Wiki).
The trip up Twelve Avenue is less than exciting. There is a tiny strip of park along the river that is mostly behind fencing. On the other side of the street is construction holes and fences from all the planned buildings that will start raising along the avenue.
The one place where there was some action was BLADE Operations at the Hudson River Park where helicopters were flying in. It reminded me of the opening scene of the Peter Bogdanovich film “They All Laughed” that I had just seen at the retrospect of the director’s work at the MoMA.
“They All Laughed” by Peter Bogdanovich is a true Manhattan film
I arrived back at Javits Center by the mid-afternoon. As I rounded West 34th Street at Twelve Avenue and passed the empty Javits Center in front of me like the mythical land of Oz was the Hudson Yards, a series of new office and apartment buildings including an upscale mall. It is just breathtaking when the sun hits all the buildings with its brilliance of the reflection of the sun. It also offers really nice public bathrooms that are open throughout the day.
West 34th Street is in the middle of major construction changes as the Hudson Yards complex spills over to almost Seventh Avenue now as old buildings from the Garment District and over the rail yards are being replaced by shiny new office and apartment complexes bringing in new businesses and residents into what was once a barren area after 5:00pm. The whole look of the neighborhood is changing.
The Hudson Yards development
I walked to Bella Abzug Park, which was being partially renovated at the time and walked through the three sections from block to block. Part of the park is being renovated but the other parts look like they are ready to open in the warmer weather with cafes and seating. The park spreads over three blocks that are fully landscaped.
Bella Abzug Park with the Hudson Yards rising like Oz in the background during the summer months (NYCParks.org). The park was named after famous activist and politician Bella Abzug.
Politician and Activist Bella Abzug
One thing stuck out as I got to the edge of the park and that was a giant red apple with seating in it. What looks like an elaborate bus stop is a work of art done by artist Felix Marzell. It looks like a place to sit and relax while waiting for the next bus.
‘The Big Apple” by Artist Felix Marzell
Artist Felix Marzell
Artist Felix Marzell
I was surprised that such a talented artist did not have much written about his early life or schooling, but I can see that he has moved around a lot and has many talents.
Please watch his video (in French) about Industrial Design
As you cross over West 34th Street where bridge covers the highway, there is an interesting piece of art entitled “Art by Ashley”, which is a colorful display on the cement barriers protecting the road. The work was done by New York based artist Ashley-Simone McKenzie. Her works spread to the barriers all around the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.
“Art by Ashley” by artist Ashely-Simone McKenzie
The work was created by Queens based artist Ashley-Simone McKenzie who is an educator and multidisciplined in paintings, illustration and animation.
Watch her interview on this interesting piece of art
I admired the beauty if St. Michael Roman Catholic Church at 424 West 34th Street. I needed to relax and get some time in spiritually during the walk. Seeing all the problems that the City is facing at this time, I needed some time to reflex. It is such a beautiful church inside with the elegant pews and large pipe organ.
The church parish was founded in 1857 and the first building was built between 1861 and finished in 1868. It was destroyed by fire in 1892. A new structure was built but that was torn down in 1904 with the building of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The current structure was designed by architect Napoleon LeBrun & Sons in the Romanesque style using some of the previous buildings artistic details with stonework and the stain glass windows (Wiki).
Just after you past the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel on West 34th Street is the Webster Apartments, a residence that was created for women who were entering the retail industry. The apartments were created by Charles and Josiah Webster, who were cousins of Rowland Macy, who owned Macy’s Department store.
The apartment house opened in 1923, offering a room, three meals and other amenities that a young woman could need when entering the workforce. Outside the fact that the rates have risen over the years and the apartments updated, the concept has not changed and still caters to women making under $60,000 a year (Atlas Obscura).
The Webster Apartments at 419 West 34th Street
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” or “Wonderland” 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.
I arrived back at West 28th Street at Holy Apostles by the late afternoon. Everything was closed up for the evening. For the next trip soon. I am now going on my nineteenth-year volunteering at the Soup Kitchen and it’s nice to be part of something that is actually helping the homeless situation in New York City without pandering to everyone.
I had lunch in Chelsea at Lucky Burger at 264 West 23rd Street. I had visited their Hell’s Kitchen restaurant when walking that neighborhood and nothing was lost on the food at this location as well. It was an excellent lunch.
I had their Chicken Finger Lunch Special which consisted of a large bag of deep-fried chicken fingers, a bag of crinkle cut fries and a Boylan grape soda (See my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor). They give you so much food that I could barely finish it.
The portion size of the Chicken Fingers special is large
They must have given me about a pound of chicken that was nicely breaded and well fried served with a honey mustard and barbecue sauces. They also gave me about a pound of fries. I sweat the meal could have fed two people.
I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Madison Square Park and then back through familiar neighborhoods that I had visited before. It is amazing how things keep opening and closing in Manhattan.
I am more than halfway done now with the walk of the Island of Manhattan.
Please read my other blogs on walking the Lower Part of the Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
Day Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight-Walking the Borders of the Lower Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Walking the Avenues of the Lower Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Three-Walking the Streets of the Lower Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
These will show you the constant changes in the neighborhood.
Places to Eat:
264 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
Open: Sunday 11:00am-10:00pm/Monday-Wednesday 11:00am-10:00pm/Thursday-Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com: