The members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association met for the first of our annual meeting on the afternoon of February 19th, 2023. Members had come from all over Bergen County to attend the meeting.
We discussed our Calendar for the year of events planned. We discussed the recent fundraiser that the organized for much needed funds for the organization to run the upcoming barbecue in June and the Christmas Party in December (can you believe that is in nine months?).
The Members’ of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association at the June Barbecue in June 2022.
Our Head of Fundraising reported that the fund drive is going well. We are actually ahead in fundraising so far and many departments have been very generous. There are still some departments that have never given to the organization in the past but we will try to reach out to them.
Paying our respects to Spartan’s lost at the mass shooting on the Michigan State University Campus
On the evening of Sunday, February 19th, the New York City Alumni of Michigan State University got together in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village for a Remembrance of three student deaths and eight students shot on the Michigan State University campus on Monday, February 14th, 2023. I still can’t believe that happened.
Concerned Alumni come out to support Michigan State University victims
I lived in East Lansing for five years and I never felt unsafe on the campus. Yes, we did have our share of jumpings and rapes just like any other campus but no one would have ever dreamed that this would happen. This is becoming an epidemic all over this country and no one knows how to stop it. Civility and manners have gone out the window since COVID but they were starting to disappear before that. In a town like East Lansing, my friends and I never felt unsafe or that we could not walk around the campus and feel threatened. How things have changed since the 1980’s.
We as Spartan Alumni supported one another that night
I did not know anyone at the Memorial Service but I can see that older Alumni like myself were pretty shaken up by this. I never dreamed this could happen at my campus but I have sure that Alumni at colleges like Virginia Tech probably said that same thing.
We as Alumni talked amongst ourselves that evening
The Alumni Association planned a very tasteful Remembrance under the Washington Square Arch in the park and we gathered as the Greater Spartan Alumni Association started a short program to honor those Spartans who passed. I could not believe that we had to meet under these circumstances but over a hundred Alumni were there frozen in what to do and how to handle the situation.
A member of the NYC Alumni Association starting the program
The Alumni Association started the program with some updates from campus and recalled the story of the Remembrance that had just taken place on the MSU campus in East Lansing as the University was still trying to make sense of it all.
Preparing the Memorial during the service
One of the head’s of the NYC Alumni talking to all of us
The Alumni Association gave us some updates on how the five students are doing in the hospital and one of the Alumni told us that they had started a “Go Fund Me” account for the students medical bills. The Alumni Board did there best to try to keep us calm but many of the Alumni were not sure how to react.
The crowds got larger as time went on
The Alumni Association gave us flowers to place by the Arch during the program
Personally, I was not sure how to react. Coming from a generation where I would not dream something like this could ever happen on a college campus. I know there were incidents like Kent State during the 1960’s but that was during the protests of the Vietnam War and the situation was different than someone randomly walking onto a campus and just start shooting people for no good reason.
Many of us were not sure how to react
As the Alumni Association asked us to join in and speak about our feelings, sadly it was the younger Alumni and the recent graduates who seemed to more used to these occurrences. That is sad to fathom. Some of these Alumni knew the victims or still had friends on campus who told them lockdown stories that they shared with us.
Alumni sharing their thoughts on what had just happened
We ended the evening with a prayer, singing the school song “MSU Shadows” (which sadly no one knows the words to even when we were on campus) and words of encouragement. The Alumni Association wished everyone well that evening and to keep our thoughts and prayers with the families of the victims.
Ending the program by singing “MSU Shadows”
At the end of the program, the Alumni Association asked us to place our flowers and well wishes at the Spartan flag at the Arch and we all made our way to the flag to drop off our flowers.
It was a sad and very bittersweet event and I thought the Alumni handled it beautifully. We all just have to have some faith in life and in each other.
We are “Spartan Strong”!
I have to share this very emotional and very warm speech from our Basketball Coach Tom Izzo:
Our special ‘Members Only” nights at the Met are a lot of fun!
I had just finished Finance class at NYU and I needed a break. I could tell that my Professor wanted to leave early as well and the whole class was lost on learning the Income Statement so it was a perfect time to end the class for the evening.
I had signed up for the ‘Private Members Night’ on Valentine’s Day thinking that people would not attend this event on Valentine’s Day. Boy was I wrong! The museum was packed with people all over the museum. Since the whole museum was not open (the Roman and Greek Galleries on the first floor with the American Wing to the back being open and upstairs it was the Special Galleries and the Impressionist Wing), the areas of the museum including the restaurants and gift shops filled with members dining together for the evening and snatching up bargains such as the 50% ornaments from Christmas at the Gift Shop. I had never seen a Private Members Night so busy. That made it more fun as people were out to enjoy themselves without the pressure of the holiday.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art at 1000 Fifth Avenue during the day
Since I had seen most of the museum in the past and time was limited (I had about an hour and a half), I decided to spend my time at the new “Mayan Exhibition-The Lives of the Gods-Divinity in Maya Art”.
The entrance to the exhibition: “LIves of the Gods-Divinity in Maya Art”
‘In Maya art, the gods are depicted at all stages of life: as infants, as adults at the peak of their maturity and influence, and as they age. The gods could die, and some were born anew, serving as models of regeneration and resilience. In Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art, rarely seen masterpieces and recent discoveries trace the life cycle of the gods, from the moment of their creation in a sacred mountain to their dazzling transformations as blossoming flowers or fearsome creatures of the night.
Maya artists, who lived in what is now Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, depicted the gods in imaginative ways from the monumental to the miniature—from exquisitely carved, towering sculptures to jade, shell, and obsidian ornaments that adorned kings and queens, connecting them symbolically to supernatural forces. Finely painted ceramics reveal the eventful lives of the gods in rich detail.
Created by master artists of the royal cities of the Classic period (A.D. 250–900) Maya, the nearly 100 landmark works in Lives of the Gods evoke a world in which the divine, human, and natural realms are interconnected and alive’.
(from the Met website)
These were my favorite pieces from the exhibition:
The Mayan Throne at the entrance of the exhibition
The information on the ‘Throne Back’
The beautiful Jade icon pieces
The Rain Deity
The Deity Figure
The King Jaguar Bird Tapir
King Jaguar Bird Tapir
The Rain Deity
The Rain Deity Column
The Rain Deity
The Rain Deity Column
The exhibition was not that long and I was able to see everything in about an hour. I will have to go back to take some more time to read things but the art was just amazing. The detail work that these artisans had back then just showed how advanced they were without our modern tools. The Jade work was especially impressive.
After I finished the exhibit, I went down to the Impressionist Wing for twenty minutes before I toured the gift shop to see if anything new had come in. The museum must have emptied the storerooms of all the Christmas merchandise they were keeping in storage because there were tables of ornaments on sale fifty percent off. People were snatching things up and the lines were about fifteen deep. I have to say one thing, I was much more relaxed by the end of the evening.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art at closing
The museum had such an elegant look after dark. As we left the museum that evening, they gave us each sugar cookies that said “Met Member” on it printed on the icing. It was a very nice touch when we left and it was so sweet. It really pepped me up. It was such a nice warm evening (for the winter) and I decided to walked back to the Port Authority. It was quiet on the Upper East Side and it was nice to walk around.
When I got back down Fifth Avenue and passed Bryant Park, I saw the most spectacular view of the Empire State Building lit in pink for Valentine’s Day. What a site! This is why I love Manhattan so much. Where else do you get a view like this?
By the time I got back to Port Authority, things had gotten a little quieter. I stopped for a quick slice of pizza at the 99 Cent Pizza place down the road from the Port Authority and then headed home.
99 Cents Pizza at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 40th Street at 143 West 40th Street
I just started Spring Term at both of my colleges and classes are in full swing. Most everything I am able to handle but my Finance class is giving me a little concern. I still have to work on the formulas a bit more. Outside that, it is not the pressure cooker it was last semester. I still don’t know how I pulled off taking four classes, teaching three classes, three major projects in each and then the holidays and working on my blogs. Read “Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Six-Christmas Again” and you will think the same thing:
I never realized how close that Chinatown was to the New York University campus and now that I know, I will be sneaking down there a lot more before and after classes. I need my dumpling fix. Things are getting back to normal in New York City. It is still not the same as 2019 but it has gotten busier. Chinatown has gotten back to its ‘new normal’ with less restaurants and stores.
I have never seen so many ‘For Rent’ signs on buildings and buildings for sale. The outskirts of Chinatown are either being knocked down or gentrified and being replaced by art galleries, fusion restaurants, boutiques and businesses that have nothing to do with Chinatown. It is as if the East Village, SoHo and the Lower East Side are configuring on every corner of Chinatown. It is changing fast.
Chinese New Year is big in Manhattan’s Chinatown and where everyone comes to celebrate. It was too bad that this year the parade was on SuperBowl Sunday. The parade started at one and by three as the parade winded down, people were already leaving to watch the game. As the last of the parade ended with a parade of cars, the lines of people around the barriers were thinning. Even after the parade was over, a lot of restaurants on the fringes of Chinatown were emptying out or empty. I was really surprised by that.
The view of Chinatown before the parade is really spectacular
It was still a nice parade and very lively. I stood further down on the edge of Mott Street and East Broadway where I knew that the crowds would be thinner. We really did not have that big of a crowd by us as it was in the core of Mott Street by Bayard Street. I could see the parade with no problems.
Mott Street in Chinatown about an hour and a half before the parade started
I was starved by the time I got to Chinatown. I was thinking that there would be mobs and crowds so I left early and when I got downtown, it was just an average amount of people running around Chinatown. So I stopped off at Kamboat Bakery at 111 Bowery again on the Bowery for some buns. Now they were busy.
New Kamboat bakery at 111 Bowery
I bought myself a Roast Pork bun, a Cream filled bun and Croissant with a fried egg and sausage (I have been watching too many of those Fung Brothers videos. When I saw it I had to try it). Everything was so good just like the last time I was there.
The Roast pork buns are delicious
The filling is amazing
The food was so reasonable and delicious and the ladies that run the operation are really nice and get you in and out of there. I took my second breakfast to the park with me. The pork bun didn’t even make it there as I ate it along the way.
The Egg and Sausage on a bun at Kamboat Bakery in Chinatown
They doused it with mayo and tucked a little lettuce inside. The perfect breakfast sandwich
The Cream filled Bun was excellent and loaded with sweet cream
While I relaxed and at my second breakfast in Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, I just people watched. Families looked like they were getting ready to watch the parade as the younger generations looked antsy about watching the SuperBowl and the Hipsters were lining up at Wah Fung #1 for their roast meat fixes. I swear the line at the restaurant on Chrystie Street never goes down until they close. I bet the owners can’t figure out why the lines are so long to get in.
After my snack and a quick trip to the restrooms, it was off to watch the parade. Since I know the drill in Chinatown, I saw the parade route online and decided to go to the bend closer to the East Broadway turn where I would be able to see more and there are usually less crowds. Right on both accounts this year. The parade was well attended but not like in previous years. There would be plenty of room to maneuver around.
Mott Street when I got there before the parade started
What has shocked me are the number of businesses that have closed along Mott Street. Even at the end of Mott Street the old Hunan Gardens spot which had turned into a grocery store after it closed years later closed during COVID and now the location and the two businesses near it are now all closed. This was not just on Mott Street but on a lot of sides streets as well. So many grocery stores are gone and have been replaced by art galleries. It will be interesting to see where the future of this parade will go as the neighborhood changes.
The parade was a lot of fun. The NYPD started the parade with the Mounted Police, the NYPD Band and then followed by the Jade Society and the Auxiliary. There has been an increase in New York Police of Asian descendancy and it showed with the amount of officers marching in the parade this year. It was much smaller back in 2019.
The NYPD Mounted Police opened the parade
The parade passes by
The NYPD Band
The NYPD Band
The Jade Society-Organization of Police of Chinese descendancy
A big opening to the parade as the police passed by
The beginning of the Lion Dances
The beginnings of the parade
After the police band and officers passed by State Senator Chuck Schumer walked in the parade greeting the crowd. I swear the man would not stand still for a picture.
Senator Chuck Schumer looking down after addressing the crowd
We were then greeted by the contestants and the winner of the “Miss Chinatown” contest. All the ladies were so nicely dressed and everyone applauded them. They all looked a little cold to me as it was not the sunniest morning. They were all smiles and waves.
“Miss Chinatown” court
“Miss Chinatown” and the First Runner Up
The ladies were all smiles and waves and all the little kids were getting a kick out of it. I never saw so many people getting pictures of beauty queens. They were having fun.
The FDNY marched right behind them
The FDNY got the biggest applause from the crowd. The bagpipers were followed by the members of the Phoenix Society, a organization of fire fighters of Asian descent. Their group was smaller than the police but seemed more popular with the crowd especially to the little kids.
The Honor Guard
The local company of “Dragon Warriors” drove in the parade
The Lion Dancers and Dragons were my favorite part of the parade. The music and the spirit of the dance really got the crowd going. They were all over the place bobbing up and down. The dancers did a really good job of engaging the crowd.
The Lion Dancers
The Lion Dance
The Lion Dance up close
The Lion Dancers were in full force in this part of the parade almost vying for bragging rights of who could do it better. It really energized and engaged the crowds who were really getting into it. The music and the dancing were really fun. The music and drumming was fantastic.
The different clubs were performing their best
Have you come face to face with a Lion?
As the parade progressed, we were treated all all sorts of puppets, floats and dancers that bowed and waved to the music of the many bands in the parade. Everyone was setting off poppers so there were streamers everywhere. The sun was trying to peek out and at least it did not rain.
The procession of cars followed by the fan dancers
The Fan Dancers
The Bands lead the way for most of the floats
The School Associations marched in the parade
The bands really livened up the crowds
The floats were very lively that day
Dancers that day were very active that morning
The Dragon dancers were all over the crowds, waving up and down and engaging the crowds. It was a lively dance and people were popping off streamers.
The dragon was all over Mott Street
The Dancers had the Dragon chasing the ball
The next Dragon was leading the next wave of dancers
The next Dragon was so colorful and beautiful
The Families with Children from China was nice to see
The parade ended with a series of cars in a procession
The parade was a lot of fun and I noticed the crowds were a lot bigger in the center of Chinatown. The cars made a lot of noise and by the time they drove through at the end of the parade the crowds started to thin. People were off to the restaurants and snack shops. The Superbowl was in a couple of hours and I would watch the neighborhood empty out.
For dinner that evening, I went back to E Noodle which I had tried several months earlier for dinner. I was pretty shocked that I was the only one in the restaurant. People left Chinatown and went home to watch the game. This is considering that E Noodle is right off East Broadway where the parade passes by I thought I would be fighting the crowds. All the scaffolding is down from the building now and you can finally see the outside of the restaurant.
After the two other tables left for the afternoon, I was the only one eating there for about a half hour but still the service was wonderful and the gentleman working there could not have been nicer to me. The food was excellent. I had the Pork Soup Dumplings and the Flat Noodles with Chicken. Everything was made there and the Soup Dumplings tasted as if they were made just for me then.
The Soup Dumplings were excellent
The Flat Noodles with Chicken were freshly made at the restaurant
Everything for dinner was delicious. I believe that both the Soup Dumplings and the Flat Noodles were made by the women at the restaurant. They brought the food to my table with such price and everything was excellent. I really enjoyed my meal (See my review on TripAdvisor).
The Fung Brothers video on YouTube on E Noodle and Kamboat Bakery
After dinner was over, it started getting dark and I just walked around the neighborhood one more time before I left the City. It got so quiet in Chinatown. If it had not been the night of the Superbowl I am sure it would have been much busier around the neighborhood. Still some of the restaurants in the core of Chinatown were busy and the drink and pastry shops had their crowds. The side streets were rather quiet. Still it was a wonderful afternoon in Chinatown and it is nice to see people back.
Happy New Year!
The view from Chinatown at night of lower Manhattan is pretty amazing
The Flatiron District has to be one of the most interesting and beautiful architectural neighborhoods in New York City. Serving as the old “Midtown” from the end of the Civil War until WWI and the move uptown, this area was once the shopping, entertainment and commerce area of Manhattan.
When all the department stores and businesses moved uptown first to 34th Street and then eventually to their current locations on upper Fifth and Madison Avenues as the City core changed, the businesses left a treasure trove of exquisitely designed former office buildings and department stores that are being refitted for new businesses that are moving into this area.
The core of the Flatiron District on FIfth Avenue below 23rd Street
What was old has become new again as the desire for these well-built and designed buildings has become a paramount to new tech and marketing businesses. The buildings may have the appearance of the turn of the last century but there are being remodeled inside with the latest Internet technology and premium office space.
I started my walk down Sixth Avenue again on West 24th Street admiring the old department store buildings of the “Ladies Shopping Mile” with their Beaux Art style architecture and curvature symbols with the initials of companies that no longer exist. Just look up at the lions’ heads and pillars that dominate this architecture, and it shows this type of embellishment was used to draw customers in and showcase their elegant wares. These are now the home of discount retailers and small business offices.
On the side streets of this district, you see how companies used to impress the outside world with their elegant buildings as a ‘calling card’ of who they were as a company. Tucked between more modern buildings, there are some true architectural gems all over the neighborhood. You really have to stop and admire the detail work of these buildings.
As I rounded the corner down West 24th Street, slightly hidden by scaffolding but still seeing its beauty was 46 West 24th Street, the Masonic Lodge.
46 West 24th Street-The Masonic Lodge (Streeteasy.com)
The Masonic Lodge’s elegant structure was designed by architect Henry Percy Knowles in the Beaux Arts style and was completed in 1910. It was built for the offices of the Masonic Lodge on West 23rd Street and its embellishments were made of stone and brick work (Daytonian in Manhattan). It’s currently going through a renovation but you can see all its beautiful decorations on the side and top of the building.
Making my way down West 24th Street, you come to the center of the neighborhood, Madison Square Park, which the Flatiron District shares with Rose Hill, NoMAD and Kips Bay to the east and Gramercy Park to the south. These neighborhoods overlap between Fifth and Lexington Avenue and Park Avenue South, so take time to read my blogs below on those neighborhoods as well to share in all the wonderful things you will see in this section of the Manhattan.
Madison Square Park has become like a second home to me since walking this set of neighborhoods. It is a nice place to relax under shade trees in the hot weather and have snacks and eat your lunch while spending time people watching. It is also the home of many statutes of fascinating people and getting to know their history as well.
Madison Square Park is an interesting little oasis from all the traffic and office space. It has an interesting history since it was designated a public space in 1686 by British Royal Governor Thomas Dongan. It has served as a potter’s field, an arsenal and a home for delinquents. In 1847, the space was leveled, landscaped and enclosed as a park. It became part of the New York Park system in 1870. There are many historical figures featured in the park (NYCParks.org).
The park today is a major meeting spot for residents and tourists alike with a dog track and the original Shake Shack restaurant.
Madison Square Park in the Spring when I was walking the length of Broadway
An interesting sculpture that that welcomes you into Madison Square Park is the statue of William Henry Seward, the former Governor of New York State, US Senator and Secretary of State during the Civil War. He also negotiated the Alaskan Purchase in 1867.
Governor William Henry Steward statue in Madison Square Park
Governor William Henry Seward, who negotiated the Alaskan Purchase “Seward’s Folly”
When I walked into the park to take a break, it must have been the busiest section of the neighborhood between the playground and the original Shake Shack that were serving food to a crowd clung to their cellphones.
I stopped to look at the statue of our 21st President Chester A. Arthur, who had taken oath just two blocks away in his New York townhouse where the Kalustyan’s Specialty Foods is located at 123 Lexington Avenue (See My Walk in Kips Bay below). I thought about what was going on in our government today and what they must have gone through with this transition.
The Statue of Chester A. Arthur in Madison Square Park
George Edwin Bissell was an American born artist from Connecticut whose father was a quarryman and marble carver. He studied sculpture abroad in Paris in the late 1870’s and was known for his historical sculptures of important figures of the time (Wiki).
The Admiral David Farragut statue in Madison Square Park by artist Augustus St. Gaudens
Another interesting statue that stands out in Madison Square Park is the of Civil War Navy hero, Admiral David Farragut. Admiral Farragut commanded the Union Blockade of Southern cities and helped capture New Orleans. The statute was designed by sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens. This was the artist’s first major commission when it was dedicated in 1881 (NYCParks.org).
Augustus St. Gaudens was an Irish born American artist whose specialty during the Beaux-Arts era was monuments to Civil War heroes. He had created the statue the William Tecumseh Sherman in the Central Park Mall on Fifth Avenue along with this statue of Admiral Farragut. He had studied at the National Academy of Design, apprenticed in Paris and then studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (Wiki).
The Roscoe Conkling statue on the south side of the park
He trained for seven years (1849 to 1856) under the well-established sculptor, Henry Kirk Brown and then Ward went to Washington in 1857, where he made a name for himself with portrait busts of men in public life (Wiki).
The statue was created by sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward in 1893. Referred to as “the Dean of American Sculptors,” Ward contributed nine sculptures to the parks of New York, among them Horace Greeley (1890) now in City Hall Park, Alexander Holley (1888) in Washington Square Park, William Earl Dodge (1885), now in Bryant Park. Ward’s depiction of Conkling is a sensitive and vigorous portrait of him posed (NYCParks.com).
I love walking around the park in the summer, when you can admire the flowers and green lawns and relax under the shade of tree on one of the benches. When I walking through the park after classes during Christmas, the park was like a ‘Winter Wonderland’ with white lights lining the park, the Christmas tree in the corner of the park and Shake Shack decorated for Christmas.
Even during the day Christmas is in full swing in Madison Square Park
I crossed the park and entered the other side of the park that the Flatiron neighborhood shares with NoMAD and Rose Hill neighborhoods. This section of the neighborhood is still home to many headquarters of companies and the architecture displays the company’s influence in their industries.
The building was designed by architect William C. Frohne in the Beaux Arts style and was completed in 1911. The building was known as the Remington Rand Building being the headquarters of the Remington Rand Company who used to manufacture typewriters and electric shavers (Metro Manhattan.com). Look up at the exquisite detail work of the doors, windows and roof with interesting design.
Another building that stood out as I walked down the street was 125 East 24th Street, the St. Francis of the Friends of the Poor.
125 East 24th Street-St. Francis Friends of the Poor Building
The structure was built in the late 1880’s as the home of William Frances Oakley. When he passed aways in 1888, it became the Beechwood Hotel, a residential hotel for the carriage trade. In the 1937, it became a writing school and by the early 1950’s it was turned in SRO. In 1979, the Friars of St. Francis of Assisi bought the building as housing for the homeless with psychiatric issues. It is now home to the St. Francis Friends of the Poor, where it is a community for people who need assistance with their issues and helps them live a better and more productive life (Wiki/St. Francis Friends of the Poor.com).
The street art on the wall of the building is interesting and faces Lexington Avenue. One the corner of East 24th Street & Lexington Avenue is the Friends House New York, a housing unit. Painted on the wall is a very unique painting by Italian street artist, Jacopo Ceccarelli.
Painting by artist Jacopo Ceccarelli
The mural is on the corner of East 24th & Lexington Avenue-The St. Francis Residence Building
The Milan born street artist, who goes by the name “Never 2501” hones his skills after moving to San Paolo, painting murals with an edge that got global recognition. He uses geometric forms in his work with circles and lines creating the abstract (Do Art Foundation).
As I walked Lexington Avenue, it was like visiting an old friend. I had not walked around Kips Bay, which shares the border with the Flatiron District in a long time. The Baruch College promenade had finally been finished and students in their summer classes were hanging out there.
Restaurants that had shuttered when I was walking around the neighborhood had finally reopened and catering to the students and hotel guests in the area. I still did not see a lot of office workers, but the tourists have definitely come back to Manhattan. I have heard many languages on the streets.
As I walked back down East 24th Street, I noticed buildings that I had seen on walks in the neighborhood come back to life. It was nice to see people walking around the neighborhood again. As I crossed Park Avenue South, I saw the buildings that share the neighborhood with the NoMAD/Rose Hill neighborhood, and it looked like people were coming and going that afternoon.
As I walked closer to Madison Square Park, I noticed the large vault entrances to 11 Madison Avenue, the old Metropolitan Life North Building that had just been renovated. There was also the beauty of 5 Madison Avenue that now serves as the New Edition Hotel.
It was designed by architects Napoleon LeBrun & Sons inspired by St. Marks Campanile in Venice. From 1909 to 1913 this was the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower building. It was once the tallest building in the world until 1913 when the Woolworth Building was finished (Curbed.com/Wiki).
I remembered these impressive buildings facing Madison Square Park on my last visit to the neighborhood as they share the same borders with NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) and Rose Hill Farm neighborhood.
Owned by the Sapir Corporation now, the building was built in 1929 at the start of the Great Depression and was designed by architects Harvey Wiley Corbett and D. Everett Waid. It was built in the Art Deco style with clean lines and interesting embellishments on the interior of the building (Wiki). It is now home to many well-known companies (Wiki/Sapir Corporation).
The details in the entrance of 11 Madison Avenue
I crossed the park again and made my way back down West 24th Street. I rounded the corner on West 23rd Street to see many striking gems along this street as well. On the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street is 701 Sixth Avenue, the old Ehrich Brothers Department Store. The building was constructed in 1889 by architect William Schickel & Company with additions by Buchman & Deisler and Buchman & Fox in 1889 (Wiki).
Ehrich Brothers Department Store building at 701 Sixth Avenue (Wiki)
Another addition was added by Taylor & Levi in 1911 when the store was leased to J.L. Kesner. They added the terra cotta “K”s that can still be seen from the top of the storefront. The store folded in 1913 and then was used for manufacturing and offices as the shopping district moved to 34th Street and the Fifth Avenue area (Wiki).
At the corner of the neighborhood on Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street at 100 West 23rd Street is the second Macy’s Department Store building. This was on the very edge of the Ladies Shopping Mile that once stretched along Sixth Avenue.
The building was built in 1871 and you can see all the elaborate embellishments on it with interesting stone carvings and elegant window design and some wrought iron details on different parts of the building. It was the last location of the store before it moved to its current location at 151 West 34th Street.
100 West 23rd Street (Renthop.com) is an old Macy’s
Across the street on the other corner is The Caroline building at 60 West 23rd Street. This inventive new building showcases the future of the neighborhood and was once home to the former McCreery’s Department Store.
The stretch of West 23rd Street from Sixth to Fifth Avenues was once lined with elegant department stores and specialty stores extending this ‘Shopping Mile’ to the retail palaces of Broadway above Union Square.
The plaque outside the Carolina Building
One of my favorite buildings that stands out and was the filming spot for ‘McMillian Toys’ in the movie “Big” is the former Sterns Brothers building at 36 West 23rd Street. You have to look on the opposite side of the street to appreciate the beauty of the building.
The beautiful detail work above the entrance of the former Stern’s Brothers Department store
The stonework is amazing
The Stern’s Brothers Department store was built in five stage over a period of forty years. The original store which is the core of the building was built in 1878, where this magnificent entrance is located and the two wings of the building were built with the success of the store. The original store was designed by German architect Henry Fernbach in the Renaissance Revival style (Daytonian).
The store was added to two more times with the final addition coming in 1892 with an extension by architect William Schickel. When the migration of department stores moved to the new shopping district on 34th Street, Stern’s moved with it. The store today is Home Depot.
On the corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street is 186 Fifth Avenue, which was built for the Western Union Telegraph Company in 1883.
The Western Union Building on the corner of West 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue is 186 Fifth Avenue
The building was designed by architect Henry J. Hardenberger in the Queen Anne style with its details being in brick and terra cotta (Daytonian in Manhattan). The building just finished a restoration, and you can see the details by the windows and dormers.
The Flatiron Building at 175 Fifth Avenue over the summer in all its glory
As you look down further on the square, you will see the Flatiron Building one of the most famous and most photographed buildings in New York City. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham as a Renaissance Palazzo with Beaux-Arts style. The original name for the building was the “Fuller Building” for the Company. The name “Flatiron” comes from a cast iron clothes iron from the turn of the last century. (Wiki)
During the summer, street art created by both local and international artists are a big part of the decor on Broadway. This interesting work “Dancer” was by artist Tomokazu Matsumaya and was on display in the plaza next to the Flatiron Building.
The interesting artwork “Dancer” by artist Tomokazu Matsuyama in the 23rd Street Plaza next to the Flatiron Building during the summer months
The work by artist Tomokazu Matsuyama (gone by December 2022)
Artist Tomokazu Matsuyama is a Japanese Contemporary Visual artist from Japan who now lives in Brooklyn. He graduated from Sophia University in Tokyo and then attended Pratt Institute where he got his MFA in Communications Design. His influences are in global arts and is known for his sculptures (Wiki/Bio).
East 23rd Street that faces Bryant Park is a very commercial district with many interesting restaurant concepts from chain restaurants to independents that want to become chains. During the summer as it ended before school started, around the holidays I was able to eat in most of them. These places cater to the businesses that surround Madison Square Park and the families that come into the park to walk their dogs and use the playgrounds and dog parks.
The 23rd Street “Restaurant Row” south of Madison Square Park
The McDonald’s at 26 East 23rd Street is always popular and is open late nights. The food and the service is really good here.
Next to McDonald’s at 28 East 23rd Street is Dim Sum Sam, a dim sum restaurant that now has four locations in New York City. The only problem with this restaurant is that the further they move uptown from Chinatown, the higher the prices go for Dim Sum. A Roast Pork bun, although really good, is getting to be almost $3.00 instead of the $1.50-$2.00 it is in Chinatown. I know rents are more up here but there is only so much people will pay for this. Still the food is really good and when I can’t make the trip to Chinatown, this is my go to place.
Another local chain with several restaurants in New York City is Little Italy Pizza at 34 East 23rd Street. Their pizza, calzones and rolls are the best in all of their locations. They are also very reasonable for all their meals in all of their locations.
Next to Little Italy Pizza is another chain store delight, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, whose fried and iced doughnuts are the best. I was munching on a Lemon filled and Chocolate iced while I was walking around.
Further down the block is the new IHOP concept Flip’d by IHOP at 110 East 23rd Street. It carries items such as burgers, breakfast bowls and of course, pancakes. The day I was there one of the workers daughter was doing her homework while talking to her mother who was cooking the pancakes. It was a cute exchange between mother and daughter.
The Hamburger and French Fries at Flip’d are really good and I enjoyed my meal on my last trip there
The afternoon that I was there in the summer, Madison Square Park was really busy with people sunning themselves and walking their dogs. The afternoon lunch crowd was sharing the benches with nannies and moms and a few homeless people edging their way onto the benches. In the Fall, it was people eating lunch and walking their dogs. By Christmas, with the mild weather, people were still walking their dogs, admiring the lights and tourists coming back to the City were filling the tables of the decorated Shake Shack.
When I went to visit the Christmas tree again during the day in December, I came across this interesting sculpture to add to what is already in the park.
The statue ‘Havah…to breathe, air, life ” in Madison Square Park
Artist Shahzia Sikander is a Pakistani-American visual artist. She specializes in drawing, painting, printmaking and animation. She is a graduate of the National College of Arts Lahore in Pakistan and a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design in a MFA in Painting and Printmaking.
This fascinating sculpture will be in Madison Square Park for a limited amount of time. The storyboard above has a description of the statue. This adds a whole new dimension to the sculptures that line the park.
As you round the block again down East 23rd to West 23rd (with Fifth Avenue always being the dividing line) and you will see on the right is the beauty of 29 West 23rd Street. This turn of the last century building is now renovated and the home of Iron23, an event space.
29 West 23rd Street-now the Flatiron House
This elegant entertaining space can now be used for parties and events with long halls and high ceilings showing off it elegant features. A few doors down is another interesting building with the most unique and interesting details to the ornamentation of the building at 39 West 23rd Street.
39 West 23rd Street
The detail work of 39 West 23rd Street towards the far right of the building
It is attached to the two buildings to the left and please check out the attached website to see the interiors. They have really created something special inside these buildings. It is a creative use of old and new in the same building as it is now an elegant condo complex.
When you turn the corner again on Sixth Avenue, you are again faced with the lining of old department store buildings on both sides of the street and the elegant facade of the Ehrich Brothers Department Store to the the right that stretches from West 23rd to West 22nd Streets as you start the walk down West 22nd Street back to Park Avenue South.
Among the architectural gems of West 22nd Street is 7 West 22nd Street, The Spinning Wheel building. This elegant building was built in 19010-story Neoclassical/Renaissance-revival office building completed in 1901. Designed by architect James Barnes Baker as a store-and-loft building, it is three bays wide, with a 2-story rusticated limestone base, a 7-story arcaded midsection, and a 1-story attic. Over the entrances in the building’s end bays, “Spinning Wheel Building” is written in the cast-iron entablature. A limestone cornice with egg-and-dart molding caps the 2nd floor (Wiki).
Walking closer to the edge of Fifth Avenue is the detailed 4 West 22nd Street. This beautiful commercial building was built in 1904. Serving as an office building in the beginning, it is now a apartment rental with interesting floor plans to choose from.
At the edge of the neighborhood’s border with Gramercy Park is the unique 278 Park Avenue South. Which once served as a bank is now a gourmet grocery store for residents on the Flatiron /Gramercy Park neighborhood.
Known today as Gramercy Place, the property at 278 Park Avenue South was once the location of the New York Bank for Savings. The original bank building was completed in 1894 and though it was subsequently knocked down, the 1986-built Gramercy Place still showcases elements of the original building, including the marble and teak lobby (Propertyshark.com). It is now home to the Morton Williams Supermarket.
Across Park Avenue South from the former bank is 281 Park Avenue-The Fotograski Museum New York and the former Church Mission House. It was designed by architects Robert W. Gibson and Edward J. Neville and was finished in 1894. It was home to the Episcopal Church’s Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. It was inspired with a Medieval style design (Wiki).
281 Park Avenue-The Fotograski Museum on the edge of Park Avenue South and East 22nd Street
Fotografiska New York is the NYC location of the renowned Stockholm-based destination for the world’s best photography. Founded in 2010, Fotografiska was built on the foundation of photography as a haven for inclusivity and free expression.
The Fotografiska Museum in Manhattan
Our goal is to inspire a more conscious world through the art of photography. We showcase the greatest photographers, whether they’re emerging artists or already established internationally.
The building is a registered landmark built in 1894 and originally named “The Church Mission House”. We’ve renovated this iconic jewel to be a new experience of world-class art, cultural events, retail, and epicurean dining, in an awe-inspiring space.
The Dining area of the Fotografiska Museum
The Fotografiska Museum is the latest museum to enter the very crowded collection of museums in Manhattan. The beauty of this museum is that artist has a say of how the show is mounted which gives an interesting perspective to viewing shows here.
My “Trends in Tourism” class at NYU when we visited the museum in October
I headed back down East 22st Street, I passed all this interesting architecture and thought back to the architects who designed it, the period it was created and how it was being refigured into modern times for new businesses and living spaces.
As I crossed Sixth Avenue again to East 21st from East 22nd, I admired the old department store buildings again and stopped in front of the old Adams Dry Goods building at 675 Sixth Avenue and looked up at all the beautiful embellishments.
Samuel Adams, a merchant who had been selling upscale clothing and furnishing to customers in the area decided to open a store on Sixth Avenue. He used the architectural firm of DeLemos & Cordes, who had designed the Seigel-Cooper Department Store and the six-story building opened in 1902. The store was the first in New York City to use the new Pneumatic tubes to transport money and messages throughout the store (Wiki).
The problem with the store was its location. He built the store at the very edge of the neighborhood as the business changed. As the shopping area started to decline in the early 1900’s, Adams sold the store to Hugh O’Neill Dry Goods Store and they merged the two companies together, converting three floors of the Adams Dry Goods store to furniture. This concept was not popular as well and the businesses failed, and the store closed in 1913 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Adams Dry Goods Store today at Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Streets
The store has gone through a manufacturing stage and in the 80’s became part of the change to large box retailing. The building now houses eBay and several stores including Trader Joe’s and Michael’s. As we could see on the tour, the old department stores are finding new life in retailing.
The detail work of the old Adams Dry Goods Store at 675 Sixth Avenue
675 Sixth Avenue-The Adams Dry Goods Store
The store that sits to the right is the former Adams Dry Goods Store at 675 Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Street.
When I crossed Sixth Avenue again, as I was walking down West 21st Street and faced the beauty of the former Hugh O’Neil Department Store between West 21st and 20th Streets.
Our next stop was in front of Hugh O’Neill’s Dry Goods Store at 655 Sixth Avenue between West 20th and 21st Streets. It was built by the firm of Mortimer C. Merritt in the neo-Greco style who built the four stages of the building between 1887-1890 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Hugh O’Neill had started a small dry goods business right after the Civil War in 1865 with a small store around Union Square. In 1870, he decided to build a trade on the middle market customer and offered discounts on goods. The four floors of merchandise contained laces, ribbons, clocks and on the upper floors women’s and children’s clothing (Wiki).
When O’Neill died in 1902, the shopping area had just begun its decline and in 1906 it merged with Adams Dry Goods up the block. A year later they both went out of business as the area gave way to manufacturing. The building today has been converted into condos.
The Hugh O’Neill store today
As I walked down West 21st Street, I was greeted by 30 West 21st Street. Like most of the buildings in the district, it has almost a confection look to it. It is amazing how the renovations of these buildings over the last three years have brought back their original beauty. Built in 1907, this confection has been renovated to office space in recent years.
This beautiful turn of the last century building was once Danceteria, a trendy after hours club from 1980 to 1986. It had been one of the popular after hours clubs in Manhattan and the Hamptons. In 2008, the building was sold for renovation for office space and condos (Wiki).
This famous scene of “Desperately Seeking Susan” was shot at 30 West 21st Street
Down the street as you are approaching Fifth Avenue, I passed the costume company Abracadabra at 19 West 21st Street. When I entered the store around Halloween, the store was extremely busy with customers walking around choosing costumes and the staff restocking the store and helping people with their selections. While I was admiring the displays, one of the staff members said he would turn them on so that I could see how they behave. I felt like I had just entered a torture chamber in a haunted house.
Abracadabra front display. This man really looks like he is getting electrocuted
Abracadabra has a wonderful selection of costumes, props and decorations
Abracadabra is one of those stores that just stands out when you walk in. Every day is Halloween when you walk in the door and everything is there to shock and amaze you. It is a interesting blend of theater, imagination and creativity that makes the store come to life. Even the staff walk around in masks and costumes showing off the merchandise. Many I am sure are actors and artists using their own sense of style to show the costumes off.
There is no lack of interesting costumes to try on or accessories to match them. When you enter the store you are overwhelmed by the selection of items to choose from. Each section of the store dedicated to a certain type of costume. When you head downstairs, you so a lot of the makeup and masks that use to finish a outfit. You will walk around the store with a sense of wonder of walking into a funhouse. The store is an experience.
The core of the Flatiron District really is Fifth Avenue with all its elegant and detailed buildings. As you cross Fifth Avenue to East 21st Street the beauty of 160 and 141 Fifth Avenue really standout.
160 Fifth Avenue was designed by architect R.H. Robertson in 1891 and was previously home to the offices of McKim, Mead and White architectural firm. Throughout the 1920’s, the building served as headquarters for E.H. Van Ingen & Company, a large importer of woolen goods. It is now as modern office space with a rooftop garden (Medas.com).
Walking past Fifth Avenue is 141 Fifth Avenue another confection of architecture. This gorgeous building was built in 1897 by architect Robert Maynicke, who had also designed Sohmer Piano Building at 170 Fifth Avenue, in the Beaux Arts style for the Merchant Bank of New York (Flatironnomade.nyc/fsiarchitecture.com).
141 Fifth Avenue
141 Fifth Avenue-The Merchants Bank of New York Building
This impressive bank has recently been converted to luxury apartments with a current one sold at over three million dollars.
The detail work of 141 Fifth Avenue
When I passed 21 East 21st Street, I admired the elegance of this building that looked like an old mansion. It was built in 1900 as an apartment building and is now high end condos. The beauty of the details and the red color makes the building really stand out amongst the others on the block.
Just a few steps down the block is 24 East 21st Street with a smiling face guarding the door. This former commercial building was built in 1930 and has been converted into apartments called Infinity Flats. You have to look at the detail work around corniche area of the roof and around the entrance. The building is detailed and elegant.
Further down East 21st Street I walked past the detailed confection of 32 East 21st Street. The beauty of this confection is the carved stone detail work around the lower windows and doorways. The building was restored and renovated and is now the home for Harding’s, a local upscale restaurant. The building was originally a printing press office.
32 East 21st Street
32 East 21st Street
The entrance to 32 East 21st Street now the home of Harding’s Restaurant
At the end of the block that borders the Flatiron District and Gramercy Park is a the historic The Parish of the Cavalry of St. George at 61 Gramercy Park North. The church stands guard between the old and new buildings of the neighborhood and sets the tone of many of the older buildings on the block that once housed religious centers.
Parish of the Cavalry of St. George at 61 Gramercy Park North
The parish was founded in 1749 and the church moved to this spot in 1846. It was said that Edith Wharton used this church as the inspiration for the church in “The Age of Innocence”. It was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. in the Gothic Revival style.
This particular walk took so much time to write because I had just finished my walk about a week before graduate school started at NYU. I got so caught up in the first weeks of classes that I had to put everything aside and concentrate on school. This actually gave me more time to explore the neighborhood and see all the details in the buildings. I really discovered the beauty of the Flatiron district.
The Flatiron District at night walking through after classes
After my many walks through the streets of the Flatiron District and visiting Madison Square Park during the last several months, I decided to take the subway back to Chinatown again to try some restaurants that I wanted to add to my blogs.
I returned to some of the places I had tried in past weeks. I visited multiple times because I just wanted to try more items on the menu. The dumplings and baked goods that I had tried were wonderful and I wanted to try more items on the menu to make a comparison. Now that I had my new IPhone, I wanted to take more pictures and update blogs for readers.
I have been building up my blog, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and wanted to see how many of them had stayed open post pandemic. Many of these little ‘hole in the wall’ restaurants are going strong as Chinatown is continuing to come back to life.
I started my walk in Chinatown at China North Dumpling at 27A Essex Street across from Seward Park for some boiled dumplings. For ten large boiled dumplings that were really juicy and well cooked, four spring rolls and a Coke it was $7.00. Everything was so well made, and you can watch from the counter the ladies making the fresh dumplings right in front of you. The place is real bare bones, but the food and the service are amazing. Try to eat at the counter and watch everything get prepared.
China North Dumpling at 27A Essex Street located in the Lower East Side
In needed something sweet after all the fried foods so I headed back to Yue Lai Bakery at 137 East Broadway to look for a baked pork bun. They had none left at that time of the day, but they were having a special on their baked goods three for $2.00 and I picked out a Coconut Bun, a Cream filled Bun and a Plain Bun.
They bagged it all up for me and I walked over to Sewart Park across the street and sat on the benches and ate them one by one. The Cream and Plain buns were really good and very sweet, and everything was so soft and well baked. I ended up sharing the Coconut Bun with the little birds in the park who surrounded me looking for a handout.
After a nice rest in the park and enjoying the sunshine and watching families play with their kids, I found myself still hungry. So, I walked down Hester Street from the park and made my way to King Dumpling this time for some steamed Pork and Chive Dumplings. For ten dumplings and a Coke it was only $5.00. The Steamed Pork & Chive Dumplings were excellent and again were freshly made right in front of us. They are large and well-cooked and burst with juiciness when you bite into them.
King Dumpling at 74 Hester Street
The Fried Dumplings here are excellent and made in front of you
The place was packed with customers and people getting takeout. It is amazing to me how many people write about both King Dumpling and China North Dumpling and I had never really noticed them before. I saw them on a Fung Brothers “Cheap Chinatown Eats” video and then wanted to try them.
My last stop on the eating tour because even after twenty dumplings, four spring rolls, three pastries and three Cokes, I was still hungry and needed that baked pork bun. I found it at Happy Star Bakery at 160 East Broadway and it was just $1.75. Not the $3.50 in Midtown as I recently found at Dim Sum Sam in the Theater District. It was soft and chewy and filled with the most amazing, chopped pork and baked into a sweet dough. I barely made it out the door and I was finished with it.
Dinner that night was at ENoodle at 5 Catherine Street. I am not sure where I got my appetite from that evening but I managed to eat an entree of Roast Pork on top of rice and an order of Spring Rolls. Everything was delicious. You really have to search for this place as it is behind all this scaffolding. Again I had been watching Fung Brothers videos and they have mentioned this restaurant. It is worth the trip. The service is nice and the food reasonable and excellent.
All that running around really made me hungry over the last few months. When you are walking around the Flatiron District, my best advice is to look up and really look at the details of the buildings in this neighborhood. They really are special. You will not see buildings built like this again.
Passing Madison Square Park at night is quite a site!