I came across this wonderful little dumpling and lo mein shop when I was walking around Kips Bay for my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”. I had not had the chance to try the restaurant on those trips to the neighborhood but tried it recently and was thrilled by the food and service of this family owned shop. The food and the service were both excellent.
The Combination Platters are a great deal for lunch
The pot stickers and lo mien combination is so reasonable and the portion sizes are very generous. The pot stickers were pan-fried and crisp on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside.
The dumplings and pot stickers that I tried on my first two trips were filled with…
It has been a tough summer. I pulled a muscle and it has been hard to do long walks around Manhattan so I kept it to short walks around my neighborhood. As I have improved, I have been able to get more done and have started to drive again. I was able to make the trip to Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Barbecue.
So off I went adjusting the car seat higher with a pillow and an ice pack. It was a short trip with no traffic and the pain has now subsided with more walking. When I arrived at the home for the barbecue, I had to walk around the property to loosen up a bit.
Still it was a marvelous day and the most beautiful weather sunny and clear and 72 degrees. The residents loved being outside to enjoy the fresh air, music and food and the members liked that we still could socially distance and converse with the residents outside as long as there were not too many gathering (we want to keep our retired firefighting brothers safe too). Please check out my blog on the August BCFHA Barbecue:
The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association August Barbecue at the NJ Firemen’s Home August 15th, 2021:
After the barbecue was over, I decided to head back to Downtown Boonton to explore the downtown on a weekend and get some stretching for my legs and back in before the long ride home. Downtown Boonton, which has been discovered by the artists and hipsters is going through a major change as we speak. There is so much to see and do.
Downtown Boonton, New Jersey is showing a new rebirth from the local shops of the past to new restaurants, galleries and shops popping up all over the downtown. Known for the local ironworks that once made this a company town, somehow this small hamlet was discovered by artists and galleries have been popping up on the main street.
What I like about Boonton’s downtown is the diversity of old and new mixed together and that the main street is a sloped and curving so that you can see the remains of the iron works and the park below. The views of the mountains and trees lined valley’s are spectacular in the summer with swaths of green trees all over.
I discovered Downtown Boonton by accident when I decided to drive around when I had time to spare before an event last year. I had read something about the Boonton Historical Society in a magazine (See my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). So I visited the Historical Society after our April meeting last year and attending their 2019 Open House for Christmas. That was a nice event with docent tours, light refreshments and musical performances. Since then I have been back a few more times to explore the shopping district.
I have started many trips at the Boonton Historical Society located at 210 Main Street. This interesting little museum is a treasure trove of local history with displays on the history of the local Iron Works, the Trolley Car industry and its role in the development of transportation in the area and displays on the history of the local police, fire and local schools. There are also some interesting pictures of the changes in the downtown area. They also run great walking tours.
I have visited the museum during the 2019 Christmas Open House which was an interesting afternoon of Docent tours of the museum’s Trolley and Railroad exhibition memorabilia and then a wonderful concert from a local musician with refreshments following.
In the Summer of 2021, I took a walking tour of the old Iron Works factory with a local historian. We toured all the spots in Grace Lord Park that had been built up to support the factory along with ruins of the old structures of the complex. It was sad that these will be knocked down for a new condo complex (see my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).
On my last three trips exploring the downtown, I have been admiring the statues of dogs and cats that line the street and flank all the buildings. The Boonton Arts Creative Placemaking Initiative organization in partnership with Boonton Main Street Inc. has been showcasing artists who have created these works.
The Dog Days of Summer & Some Cool Cats’ is a public art exhibition showcasing artist’s customer designs on life sized statues displayed on the main street. Artists are sponsored by the public. Once the artist received a sponsor, they get the opportunity to bring their design to life. For the duration of the summer, the sculptures will be available for adoption on the Boonton Arts Etsy page. The project has now raised $70,000 for local animal shelters and over $6,000 for local schools (Boonton Arts).
“Dog Days of Summer & Some Cool Cats” outside the Boonton Post Office
Across the street from the Historical Society at 309 Main Street is Eric’s Jamaican Cuisine which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It specializes in roasts, stews, fish dishes and the patties look amazing. The smells of food cooking and spices from the background grill will make your mouth water.
I stopped in on a recent visit and had a Beef and Cheese Jamaican patty ($2.50) and it was delicious. The crust was so light and flaky and had a nice portion of filling inside. The Chicken and Jerk Chicken patties were sold out so I tried one of the Fried Dumplings ($1.00). It was a round deep fried crisp dough that was perfect with a little jam.
The service could not have been nicer and the woman working the counter went over the menu with me. I love the smell of the spices when you enter the restaurant.
The downtown shopping district has an eclectic mix of the restaurants and shops. One of the first places I ate lunch at when I was touring the downtown on my first trip was Pasquale’s Pizza at 307 Main Street #1. I stopped in for a slice of pizza and a Coke and the pizza here is really good. The slice was full of flavor with a nice gooey consistency. The service was very pleasant and on a cool Sunday afternoon was one of the few places that was open. The service is very friendly.
Walking up the hill from the train tracks, you will look up at the winding main street at an interesting mix of historical buildings that are in the process of renovation or have been brought back to their original beauty.
For lunch one afternoon, I ate at Wah Yan Kitchen at 601 Main Street. This little hole in the wall take out restaurant services delicious Cantonese food at very reasonable prices for lunch. The afternoon I was there I had a Shrimp Lo Mein with a side of Pork Fried Rice and an egg roll. The one this that differed Wah Yan Kitchen from many of the take out places I have eaten at is the portion size was very large and the dish did not skip on the ingredients. There was lots of chopped roast pork in both the fried rice and in the egg roll. Everything was delicious. The family who runs the restaurant could not have been nicer to me.
On a recent trip to Boonton, I stopped at Egg City at 605 Main Street for a late breakfast. It was a beautiful sunny day and I sat by the widows watching the world go by. I ordered the Eggs with Chorizo which came with a side of potatoes and wheat toast. The scrambled eggs came in a hard scramble with plenty of spicy Chorizo sausage chopped inside the eggs. Adding some of the hot sauce provided on the table, it added an extra zing to the dish.
The Scrambled eggs with Chorizo Sausage makes a nice combination
Boonton at one time must have been a very cultural center for the arts in the region having a theater, opera house and a well established library all located within the downtown area. With the Morris Canal cutting through the town and the Ironworks at the bottom of the hill, the traffic in the downtown at the turn of the last century was extremely busy being a place of trade and shipping.
The Darress Theater at 615 Main Street has been closed during the COVID pandemic but was still open in late 2019 when it was showing some classic films. It was closed when I visited the town over the last year and a half though.
The theater was opened in 1919 as a vaudeville house with many famous names on the circuit visiting the town like Burns & Allen and Abbott & Costello. After WWII, the theater became a movie house showing first run movies until the local malls took that business away in the 1980’s. Before it closed due to COVID, it had been showing classic films and live shows (NJ Daily Record).
As you make your way up the hill, you will pass the picturesque Boonton Library at 621 Main Street. The library opened in this building in 1894 in a small section of the structure. The property was bought from the Iron Company in 1849 by Eliza Scott and was used for stores. Then the building was bought by local resident James Holmes in 1856 and in 1870 and was converted into the family homes. Upon his death in 1893, he willed the building and a sum of money so that the building could be used as a town library (Best Public Libraries/History of Boonton Library).
The impressive old building holds a periodical area, a Children’s and Teen Library and a sitting area for patrons. You can still see from of the impressive details of the old building when walking around the library.
Another wonderful restaurant that I tried one afternoon after a long walking tour of Grace Lord Park was Roma Pizzeria & Restaurant at 709 Main Street. They have the most delicious cheese pizza and their garlic knots are really good. The pizza has the most amazing sauce that tastes of fresh tomatoes, garlic, a bit of hot pepper and olive oil. It really gave each bit a rich flavor. The family that runs the pizzeria is really nice too and I was able to eat at one of the outdoor tables and admire the view of the area.
Right down the road is the old Engine/Hose Company One firehouse at 713 Main Street. This original firehouse of the Boonton Fire Department was built in the 1890’s. It was renovated in 2012 and was formerly Maxfield’s Restaurant. The building is currently empty but you can still admire the stonework of the old building and the details that showed its once fire fighting past (LoopNet.com).
The old Engine/Hose Company One at 713 Main Street
Next to the fire house is another reminder of Boonton’s cultural past is the Boonton Opera House at 715 Main Street. This architectural gem was build in 1850 as Independence Hall which was used for various functions. Then in 1890, the owner added a third floor and christened it “Mrs. Green’s Opera House”. The building was fully renovated in 2016 by business owners in the area and now houses offices and retail space (Daily Record). Check out the buildings details on the other side of the street.
The Boonton Opera House at 715 Main Street
After my walking tour of the Iron Works Company with the Historical Society and a nice lunch at Roma Pizzeria & Restaurant, I sampled Scoop House at 813 Main Street. Scoop House is an old fashioned ice cream parlor with homemade ice cream and unusual flavors. The menu includes all sorts of sundaes, shakes, ice cream sandwiches and waffle & ice cream combos.
I had an unusual flavor called “Cookie Monster”, which was a purple ice cream with cookie dough batter in it and crushed chocolate chip cookies. Talk about different and delicious! The prices are also very fair at a time when other ice cream shops are charging premium prices.
I passed other businesses that were closed on most weekends and made my way to Grace Lord Park which is located at the top part of Downtown Boonton. From the sidewalks you can see the river path through the park and as you get closer to the bend, the waterfall near the bridge. This relaxing little park was once part of the Iron Works Company and where we started our walking tour of the area with the Boonton Historical Society.
The front part of the park as you enter from the downtown is lined with paths, a children’s playground, a wooded area, historical signs of the site, the gazebo where concerts take place and our meeting ground for the tours and the falls.
The Falls of Grace Lord Park in Boonton, NJ
On a perfect sunny day, a group of us joined the Historical Society of Boonton, NJ on a tour of the former Iron Works Company and of a section of the Morris Canal that ran through the town during the turn of the last century.
On my more recent trips to the park, I just enjoy walking around the Falls area and taking a short hike down the paths into the woods and admire the river. On a nice day, there are plenty of families running around the park. In the summer, there are all sorts of concerts in the park and on the weekends there is the Farmer’s Market.
I visited the Farmers Market on the Saturday on Labor Day weekend but the town cancelled the market at the last minute. Still there were a few vendors that had set up and I was able to sample their wares. The Schieferstein Farm from Clark, NJ had all of their fruits and vegetable lined up in bins and they had the most flavorful white peaches for a dollar. It was juicy and sweet and there is nothing like a Jersey Peach when it is in season.
Don’t miss the Schieferstein Farm stand for the sweetest Jersey Peaches
I returned the next week and there were many more vendors selling all sorts of wares at the Farmers Market. I visited Gizmo’s Pet Products for gourmet pet treats, Race Farms out of Blairstown, NJ for another sweet juicy yellow Jersey Peach ($1.00) and Urban Gypsy Arts by artist Vicki Stafford who sells handmade knit and crocheted hats and scarves, handmade earrings and pins.
A Crocheted Voodoo doll by artist Vicki Stafford, the perfect gift for Halloween
Along the way there were other vendors selling Empanadas, Italian dinners, gourmet cheese, homemade pickles and freshly baked breads and pastries. There really is something for everyone at this Farmer’s Market. There was guitar band performing that morning for the patrons with original songs and a small play area with a Cornhole set up for the kids. The Boonton Farmers Market is a nice way to spend an early Saturday morning.
On my way back down the hill through the downtown area, there are several bakery and gift shops to explore and have a quick dessert before you leave town.
Heavenly Temptations at 712 Main Street is a perfect place to duck into when it rains as it did on two afternoons when visiting Boonton. It has a extensive bakery section with cupcakes, muffins, scones, cookies and croissants. The shop also has an extensive collection of gift baskets, books, local art products and other assorted gifts. It is also a big meeting place for locals (Heavenly Temptations website).
Creations by Sabrina is like walking into a bakery that treats their bakes goods like displayed jewels in a the case with beautiful and elegant looking cupcakes and cookies for sale. Each cupcake has its own unique look and flavor.
Another establishment to enjoy pastries with a Spanish flair is Pergamino’s Bakery & Café at720 Main Street. I had ducked into Pergaminos during a rainy afternoon when they were closing down for the afternoon and the people working there no only let me walk through while they were cleaning up but I could buy what I liked and they would not rush me out.
What attracted me to Pergamino’s was the Columbian pastries and hot foods that the bakery restaurant carried. On my first trip, I tried a Guava Plate, which was a flaky pastry split into two and filled with cream cheese and guava jelly. It was flaky and sweet but I was not crazy about the cream cheese in the dessert.
I was also able to try their Beef and Cheese Empanadas, which I ended up taking home with me. They warmed up in the oven perfectly and I liked the spiciness of the beef which was accented by the home made hot sauce they gave me.
On the second trip, I tried one of their Apple Turnovers, which from what the staff said were really popular and I could see why. Surrounded by a sugary puff pastry, these sweet apples are rolled in cinnamon sugar and butter and baked until a golden brown.
When you reach the middle of the downtown area, you can see the remnants of the old Morris Canal that used to run through town. When I was taking my tour of the Boonton Iron Works (see above), this section of the canal was filled in years ago but at the turn of the last century, the canal was busy taking iron and other raw materials from the area to market. This is what made Boonton Boonton.
This section of the canal was called Morris Canal Inclined Plane 7 East for the machine that allowed the boats to navigate the canal to overcome changes in the elevation (Boonton Historical Marker).
Morris Canal Inclined Plane 7 East that parallels the downtown
As I made my way down the hill, back to the car, I passed the popular Don’s Sandwich Shop and music store. I stopped in one morning after visiting the Farmer’s Market and had a Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich on a soft chewy roll. It was the perfect breakfast on a cool morning.
They made the sandwich with provolone cheese instead of the the traditional American cheese and with a little mayo added the perfect zing to the sandwich. The couple that runs the shop could not have been nicer to me.
There is even a music shop within the store, Drummer’s Corner, which is located in the corner of the sandwich shop.
Adding to the many historical sites in Downtown Boonton is the Boonton Civil War monument located in the middle of the shopping district. This interesting piece of town history was erected in 1876 and was “In grateful remembrance of their fellow citizens who volunteered in defense of The Union of the War of 1861-1865 Honor to the Brave 1876” (Monument). This touching monument is a tribute for those who were lost in the Battle of the States.
As I walked back to my car, I took time to glance at the scenic views from the main street of the foliage and mountains that make the backdrop of the downtown area. I can see why the artists are starting to move into town and the amount of art galleries that are starting to open (most were closed on the weekends on my last two visits).
Take time to walk east of the downtown to visit the historic homes of former factory workers of the Iron Works which are now being snatched up and renovated. When I drove through the downtown one last time and made my way up the hill, I drove past Grace Lord Park. Up the hill through the Essex Street neighborhood above downtown were blocks of old Victorian homes and mansions line the streets overlooking the park.
There is so much to see and visit when walking Downtown Boonton and with the influx of new residents and the energy of the present ones, it is making Boonton, NJ a vibrant and interesting town to visit.
On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, I stayed to watch the Boonton Fire Department Labor Day Parade and that was a lot of fun. The Department marched in the parade and fire departments from all over the County joined in with their fire apparatus. It was a beautiful day for the parade.
The Boonton Fire Department had their classic apparatus in the parade
There are just some restaurants and shops that are institutions in their neighborhoods and the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is one of them. I have been coming to the store since the 1990’s when I fell in love with their Lychee and Fortune Cookie Ice Creams. What I have loved about the flavors here is that they follow a Chinese-American theme with flavors based on fruits and desserts popular here in the states.
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory logo
Since the first time I ate there, I have tried their Almond Cookie, Banana, Mango and Passion Fruit flavors over the years along with some of their seasonal flavors like Pineapple and Strawberry. Since then they have added flavors like Durian, Black Sesame, Green…
With classes being over and having the Summer Break ahead of me, I thought it was time to start exploring more of the Hudson River Valley region and continue my walk around the City. Instead of heading deeper Downtown into the Flatiron District, I also decided start exploring more of the West Side and started in Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton (Days One Hundred and Ninety Ninety-Six and Ninety Seven).
In the middle of exploring the neighborhood, I had an opportunity to leave the City and head upstate to see the Lindsey Webster Band perform at the Bearsville Theater on Saturday, May 22nd. I have written about seeing the band perform at the Woodstock Christmas Parade years ago when I used to spend Christmas in Woodstock from 2014-2017. When I saw the band in concert in December of 2014, I had not realized how huge the second album was going to be and a number one hit would come from it. It was nice to see the band in the very beginning when it was getting well known.
The concert was at the Bearsville Theater at 291 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY, which again I had not been to since the concert in 2014 and that was a very low key but lively concert.
Somehow I got to Hyde Park where I was spending the night, which is my headquarters in the Hudson River Valley when I am visiting the area very quickly. I checked in and dropped my bags off at the hotel before I drove to Woodstock which is about a half hour away over the bridge.
Since I had time before the concert started, I decided to stop at The Little Bear at 295 Tinker Street B, a Chinese restaurant within the complex for some dinner (see review on TripAdvisor). I have been many times when I have been up for a visit during Christmas and the food has gotten more uneven over the years since my first time.
The Little Bear Chinese Restaurant at 295 Tinker Street
The window seats at The Little Bear are the best for views of the woods and stream
I started my meal with the Fried Dumplings and they were fried. They tasted as if someone had deep fried them. They were crisp! They still tasted good but they were really well-done. The Lemon Chicken had a nice sauce but again the chicken breasts were over cooked. The Lemon Sauce was delicious and tasted really good. The Mixed Fried rice was the best part of the meal. It was loaded with all sorts of meats, seafood and vegetables and they make it so good.
The Fried Dumplings at Little Bear
The biggest problem that I have with Little Bear as a restaurant (see review on TripAdvisor) is the service. The family who runs the restaurant always seem so overwhelmed. At Christmas time, it was one of two restaurants that were open in Woodstock and the surrounding areas so it was mobbed and the phone would not stop ringing with take out orders. It was chaos! The people that run the restaurant are really nice but it gets to be too much for them when it is busy.
The Fried Rice at The Little Bear was the best part of the meal
After dinner, put the leftover fried rice in the car and headed over to the concert. This is when the State of New York needs to get their protocols together. I had to take a COVID test to go inside the building because I did not have my vaccine card on me. So I had to spend another $15.00 to be tested (negative of course) again. Thank God I have had all my vaccine shots. The concert started late because a lot of people had to take the test. Still it was worth it as the concert was excellent and the best part was that no one had to wear a mask.
The concert was of course excellent! I had not seen the band play live since 2014 and a lot of good things have happened to them since including a number one song. This is not the concert from that night but the songs you can enjoy just the same.
The Concert has not yet made it to YouTube but this concert from Daryl’s House is close:
The Lindsey Webster Band
What made the concert so special to all of us was not just the excellent vocals and music but it was the first time everyone was allowed to the Bearsville Theater without masks. It was nice to see people dancing and just enjoying themselves. It had been such a long time for everyone. It makes you appreciate life more.
The drive from Woodstock to Hyde Park was not that long and I got one of the best nights sleep in a long time. The hotel was so relaxing after a long drive. What I love about staying up in the Hudson River Valley is the quiet of it all. That and people do not seem that much of a rush (unless you get those City visitors).
The next day I started to explore the surrounding area and visit the small towns that make up the character of the Hudson River Valley. There has been much talk about the “Brooklynization” of the Hudson River Valley and I wanted to see those changes. In retrospect of the towns I visited, it depends on a couple of things: how close is the town to a train station to the City, how closed it is to Route 9, the corridor on both sides of the Hudson and how close to a college is the town.
What I like about so many of these towns is that the classic turn of the last century architecture that makes up the character of these towns. Also how carefully the new owners go to renovating these buildings back to their former glory. Town by town a lot of work has been done to refit these buildings and bring life back to downtowns that may have been forgotten by tourism.
My first stop was Rhinebeck, NY just above Hyde Park about a half hour up Route 9 depending on how fast you drive. Rhinebeck has changed a lot from I went to the Culinary Institute of America in the late 1990’s. It has transformed from a town of local stores and restaurants to a high end town of more expensive stores and restaurants. A lot of the mom & pop stores I remembered and galleries in the first wave of development are now gone. Still it is a very vibrant town with lots of activities.
Downtown Rhinebeck, NY is always fun to walk around in
I love to walk around the town and admire the stores. There is such a nice collection of businesses that cater to every taste. I still have my favorites that have been around for a long time and are staples in Downtown Rhinebeck. Many of these can be found on my websites:
The stores I love to visit are Pause Dog Boutique at 6423 Montgomery Street Suite 3 in the Montgomery Row Shopping Complex. This store formerly of Red Hook carries all sorts of pet products to pamper your pooch with from collars to snacks (see my review on LittleShopOnMainStreet@Wordpress.com). There is a unique merchandising approach to their items that showcases all the things that your dog could desire.
Pause Dog Boutique at 6423 Montgomery Street Suite 3
Another great store I love to visit is Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street, a wonderful little candy and dessert store (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). I love the way they merchandise the store with all sorts of colors and displays. When I was walking around the store, admiring the shelves of candies and sweets, I eyed a glazed doughnut under one of the glass domes ($2.00) and had to have one. God with was soft, chewy and had a nice sugary glaze. Talk about waking you up!
I walked the Farmer’s Market which is held in the municipal parking lot and I have to say that their wares are much more expensive than the surrounding towns. When a pastry is $5.00 or homemade soap or jelly is over $10.00 you are pricing yourself out of the local market. When I used to stop at the Farmer’s Market in Hyde Park, NY, the prices of everything were very fair. I guess post COVID people are trying to make their money back.
After finishing my walk around Rhinebeck, I drove further north to Red Hook, NY which is a quaint little downtown that I love. What I enjoy about the town of Red Hook is that it is not geared towards tourists as opposed it is a place that locals do their shopping. On a Sunday afternoon, it is really quiet as by the late afternoon a lot of things are closed.
Downtown Red Hook, NY
Check out my blog on Exploring Downtown Red Hook for more information on the town:
One store that was open and I was able to visit was Petals & Moss at 6 East Market Street. This wonderful little flower shop treats its plants and flowers with such respect and they are merchandised like a piece of art. I was talking with the owner and she said that even though she goes into the flower markets to buy things, when in season she will grow flowers in her own year for the store.
Another store I love to visit and it is such a whimsical and well decorated place is Little Pickles at 7505 North Broadway. This delightful little toy and clothing store has everything a child could desire from jars of candy and balloons to wooden toy and experiments to clothing and shoes all in a playhouse environment. It is what you would expect a toy store catering to the Lilliputian set to look like.
Some of my other favorites such as Equis Gallery and Village Pizza III were closed that day but I was able to have another snack at Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop at 7501 North Broadway (right next door to Little Pickles) and I had a jelly doughnut that said to me “buy me”! They know how to make a good doughnut. The jelly was so tangy and the doughnut was soft and fresh. The store has that classic bakery look almost like you are visiting an old General Store.
Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop at 7501 North Broadway
Since a lot of the stores and restaurants were closed that Sunday morning, I headed up Route 9 to Tivoli, NY. Tivoli has a very small but quaint downtown in the middle of an area with large farms. Since visiting a few years ago, more restaurants and shops have opened and there is a good arts representation with the Tivoli Artists Gallery at 60 Broadway.
In the last three years, I have seen a change in the quality of the restaurants and again they have gotten pricey. Creative but pricey. I ate lunch at a local restaurant, Tivoli Broadway Pizza at 49 Broadway. The pizza and the service were really good and it was nice to sit back and relax and read the local paper.
What I love about Tivoli is the charm of the village. It is such a nice little town to walk around and just admire the farms and the woods. You can walk the downtown quickly but it is fun to take your time and let it all soak in.
After leaving Tivoli, it was time to cross the river at the Kingston Bridge and explore the other side of the river. I have written about Kingston , NY many times over the years so it was time to explore other towns. I headed up Route 9 for my next destination, Catskill, NY.
Catskill, NY on the other side of the Hudson River. I had only driven through Catskill about seven years ago when I explored the towns surrounding Rhinebeck and it was the other side of the river that I visited. Downtown Catskill is pretty amazing when it comes to architecture and I can tell that other people think so as well as all the buildings seemed to being snatched up and renovated.
Downtown Catskill, NY
Most of the businesses in Downtown Catskills were closed on a sunday with the exception of a few gift stores and a couple of restaurants. Even walking around the downtown after crossing the bridge there were maybe a handful of people.
The downtown is absolutely beautiful and it was interesting that the urban renewal that hit so many of these towns in the late 60’s and early 70’s did not come to Catskill so all the 19th and early 20th century architecture still dominates the main street.
Weaving in and out of a lot of the stores and provision shops I was most impressed by Cat on the Corner, a tiny store dedicated to everything cats at 362 Main Street. I was impressed by the variety of merchandise starting with items for everyone’s favorite feline to gifts and decorative items for the home.
Among all the objects I found was a magnetic with a lot of dirty words on it that I had to get for my mom (who loves cats) and to spend the $10.00 credit card minimum, I also got her a cat cookie by a local baker from the area, which I thought was really cleaver. She ended up loving both. What I also like about the business is that the owner was helping a lot of small women owned cottage businesses with their wares and I found that good business.
These clever cookies are baked locally
Another business that stood out to me was a Left Bank Ciders at 150 Water Street. What made me walk into the Tap Room was the sign and location. It was down a alleyway and then tucked into an above ground basement area. The inside of the Tap Room was exposed walls and ceilings. The selection of ciders looked terrific as well.
Left Bank Ciders at 150 Water Street’s Tap Room here is so unique
After walking the entire downtown both sides and the local park plus the entire other side of the creek area, I just relaxed by the car. I can tell they are starting to renovate the other side of the creek as well as some of the homes. It will take time to bring life back to this part of the neighborhood.
My last stop was Saugerties, NY, a quirky little downtown right by the Hudson River and again another downtown with a lot of charm and interesting architecture. It had not changed much since I visited and had lunch here seven years ago. The prices of everything have gone up significantly though over the years.
Downtown Saugerties has a interesting vibe
I drove through the downtown last when I went up to Cooperstown, NY back in October for my birthday and saw that there had been changes in several of the buildings. After my trip to Catskill, I made this my final stop of the day.
Before I stopped in downtown to walk around, I made a detour to see the Saugerties Lighthouse at 168 Lighthouse Drive, which I had always seen signs for but never stopped to see. It is nice when you have the time on your hands to detour to all these special places.
I have to say it was a drive off the main road of Route 9 down several hills and winding roads. When you come to the small parking lot, there is not a lot of space to park on a busy day but it was the late afternoon when I got here so it was quiet.
The pathway to the lighthouse is surrounded by woods and flowers and a few streams so in the Spring and Summer months, it is very beautiful to walk down the path. Many flowers were in bloom and it was very colorful. You have to stay on the path though as there is water everywhere.
The lighthouse sits on the end of the path with a small dock on one side and a small beach at low tide. I did not realize that it is being used as a B & B and you should check out the Friends website for details if you want to stay there. The lighthouse was built in 1869 and was decommissioned in 1954. It is an elegant old building with the Hudson River in the backdrop which makes it very impressive. (There are tours available by appointment). After my tour around the lighthouse and park, it was back to downtown.
A slice of pizza at Slices at 71 Partition Street went up to almost $4.00 and an ice cream cone at several places will set you back over $5.00. I know these things are gourmet but not when they are more than New York City prices. The rents must have really gone up over the years. Even my favorite restaurant, Miss Lucy’s Kitchen at 90 Partition Street was more than I remember. Their food was mind-blowing the last time I ate there years ago.
Miss Lucy’s Kitchen at 91 Partition Street was a favorite of mine years ago
I was able to walk the entire downtown and it was also slowly changing as well as buildings were being renovated all over the downtown and homes were getting a facelift. I had never seen so many potted plants and wreaths on doors. A younger crowd was moving downtown with many bars opening and an increase in nightlife that I did not remember on my last few visits.
Before I left that evening, I took a walk down by the river to the Saugerties Village Beach Park at 47 South Partition Street and watched all the kids running around the park and some people actually taking a dip in the water (I thought it was too early). It was so nice to watch the sun shine and sit back under a tree and just watch the world go by. It is such a relaxing park.
Saugerties Village Beach Park at 47 South Partition Street is a the bottom the downtown area
On another trip to the Hudson River Valley, I visited both Downtown Pine Plains and Downtown Millerton to check out their downtown districts. Pine Plains is quaint but has a lot of businesses that are currently closed due to the pandemic. I can see this rebounding in the future with its interesting architecture and picturesque look.
Downtown Millerton’s businesses were closing for the evening the afternoon that I arrived but encouraged me to stop by again on the next trip Upstate. Each of these little towns offer so much charm and interesting shopping and eating establishments.
Don’t miss taking a trip to any of these small towns lining the Hudson River. COVID has driven people out of the City and it has brought a new vibe and built on improvements made to these once small manufacturing and shipping towns. New restaurants, art galleries and stores have brought not just new customers but new ideas on ways to reach customers. It is so nice the times of good service and a friendly local atmosphere have not given way in the Amazon era.
There is still a relaxed and creative buzz to these towns that was always there but now being added to with new members of the community. COVID did not kill this spirit in the Hudson River Valley.
*Bloggers Note: In fairness to stores, restaurants and parks I visited on my journey are mentioned below. The others I have added their links so that you all can choose the places you want to go. I will keep adding to this blog with more small towns.
There are times that I just stumble upon a really good restaurant by accident. I found Big Bowls/Little Plates on my Dining program with Mileage Plus and once I tried it I have been coming back ever since. The food and service are just excellent and the atmosphere is downtown ‘hip’.
For a small restaurant in downtown Rutherford, NJ it is so interesting in it’s decor. The use of the exposed brick walls, the Christmas lights on the ceiling and the wooden tables gives it a ‘City Vibe’ with a contemporary twist. The tables are larger made to share the space but in the era of COVID we are kept apart. While most of the orders when I was there both times were take out, it is more fun to…
With classes finally behind me for the term and the Summer break here, it is time to start exploring the West side of Manhattan. I had started the borders of Midtown West/ Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen before Final exams and just finished before we ended the semester (See Day One Hundred and Ninety-Four) and it took time.
The neighborhood which is located next to the Theater District on the other said of Eighth Avenue is a mess. That part of the neighborhood is loaded with closed theaters, hotels and restaurants and loaded with graffiti. You would think the City would have had these business owners clean their buildings on a regular basis.
Day One Hundred and Ninety-Four: Walking the Borders of Midtown West/Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen:
I swear sometimes I never realize the ground I have to cover for this project. I have been walking the streets of Hell’s Kitchen for three days and I am only doing half of the area. That stretch of walking back and forth through the neighborhood from Eighth to Tenth Avenues can be exhausting. This neighborhood is much different from the others I have walked in the past as most of the housing is low level former tenement buildings with a few small apartment buildings on the edges of the neighborhood. It looked like Mayor Bloomberg did not zone this area for much development.
Still block by block each is unique in its own way. Here and there tucked in a corner or on a wall is an interesting piece of street art, a pocket park, a small restaurant or an interesting quirky store and occasionally face stares at you from a building. This part of Midtown West/Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen has what we call ‘character’. Even though it still has that rough look about it, the area has pretty much been fully gentrified.
Those small tenement buildings have been sandblasting back into pristine form and many have small gardens, plantings and artwork incorporated to their entrances. A newer much younger resident has replaced the people who used to call this place “Hell’s Kitchen” and use the more historical name of “Clinton” after the family estate that used to dominate this area of the island before the Civil War. Governor George Clinton called this place home just until after the Civil War when the real changes in the neighborhood happened.
I started my walk on West 43rd Street around the corner from Eighth Avenue. This area has been going through a transition since the Bloomberg Administration rezoned the area and parts of Eighth Avenue have been rebuilt with larger hotels and office buildings. Even though COVID has emptied these areas out for the time being, the whole district around the Port Authority building has become home to more company offices and has started already to return the workers that crowded the streets here.
As I walked each street, they are pretty much lined with older tenement buildings that have been renovated and sandblasted back into more luxurious homes. I can see this in the details such as the fancier gates, the ornate door knobs, the flowering pots and small gardens that are surrounding each home. Here and there are small treasures such as interesting street art and small pocket parks and community gardens. Each block has it own attributes.
As you walk down West 43rd Street from Eighth Avenue you will pass the Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center building for the Health Care Worker Association the 1199SEIU at 314 West 43rd Street. On the side of the building is the tile art by artist Anton Refregier that was created in 1970.
The Anton Refregier mosaic at 314 West 43rd Street. This will be demolished soon.
It captures the ideals of the labor movement with the wording saying “If there is no struggle, there is not progress”. Unfortunately this well-known mosaic can’t be moved and the building is scheduled for demolition this year. A copy is being created in the new headquarters to replace it (W42nd Street.nyc , O’Brien 2021).
Artist Anton Refregier was born in Moscow and moved to Paris as a teenager. He immigrated to the United States in 1920. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and worked for the WPA/FPA as an artist through the Depression and was known for many of his works.
Venturing further down West 43rd Street, I stopped in front of 421 West 43rd Street and admired the embellishments and decorative carvings on the building. The front of the entrance has interesting details around the entrance. The elegant building was built in 1910 (Realty.net).
421 West 43rd Street stands out amongst the smaller tenement
Reaching Tenth Avenue, I travelled back down West 43rd Street and stopped in McCaffrey Playground at 341 West 43rd Street, where groups of families were chasing their small children around the park. I needed to take a break and relax so I sat towards the back of the playground. I must have stood out at 6: 4 with tinted glasses because many of the parents gave me a funny look.
The little oasis of green was named after Monsignor Joseph A. McCaffrey, known as the ‘Bishop of Times Square’, who fought against crime in Times Square. It was at his urging of the City that the land was bought for a park to be developed for neighborhood children. It was one of the many parks built during the Robert Moses era (NYCParks.org). The playground has been renovated many times with modern play equipment and many shade trees for the weary traveller like myself.
Monsignor Joseph A. McCaffrey who the park is named after
I had read online that the Little Pie Company was on this block and I made a B-line to the bakery. The bakery is known for their small five inch individual pies and I wanted to try one.
Little Pie Company is at 424 West 43rd Street
Little Pie Company is located at 424 West 43rd Street and was founded in 1985 by actor Arnold Wilkerson who was inspired by his grandmother’s baking. I have to tell you that the Three Berry pie was delicious (see my review on TripAdvisor) and was reasonable at $9.95.
THe Three Berry Pie at Little Pie Company is terrific
I stopped at the little park down the block and ate my little pie with gusto and ‘MMM ing’ the whole time at the tart sweet taste. Even the pigeons stared at me to get a taste.
After about fifteen minutes of relaxing and getting more stares, I moved on down West 43rd Street and turned the corner of West 44th Street. Much of the block around Eighth Avenue has been rebuilt with modern buildings but still there are many gems tucked here and there.
Being so close to the theater district, I passed two famous studios for actors. First was the New Dramatists building at 424 West 44th Street. The organization is located in the former All People’s Church which was built in the 1880’s in the Gothic Revival style for St. Matthews German Lutheran Church. The New Dramatists are an organization of playwrights founded in 1949. Playwrights serve a seven year residence here as they hone their skills (Wiki).
Further down the street is The Actor’s Studio at 432 West 44th Street, which is world renown as a place for actors to ‘hone their craft’. Founded in 1947 by Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford and Bobby Lewis and it known as the home for ‘method acting’ (The Actors Studio History Website).
I was not sure if either organization was open at the time I was in the neighborhood because they both looked so quiet. With the theaters scheduled to open at the end of September (some say closer to December), this will become a much busier block.
Walking back down from Tenth Avenue, I passed a tiny gift shop, Domus-unaffected living at 413 West 44th Street. This quirky little store was closed on my first tour of the neighborhood and I made this my first place to visit when I came the second day (see my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and on TripAdvisor).
Domus-unaffected living is an interesting little gift and home furnishing store that carries many unique items from handmade throw pillows and table runners to toys, books and games for some lucky child. They carry porcelain from a local artist in the neighborhood to handmade jewelry. The store also supports small female owned manufactures and artists both here in the States and abroad and I thought that was important direction the store was taking. The owner is really nice and spent time with me explaining her business.
There is a little something for everyone at Domus-unaffected living
Walking down West 45th Street was interesting at the blocks between renovated tenements and small restaurants along the Avenue corridors. I was entering the core of the residential section of the neighborhood and was impressed by the pride people took in caring for their homes. Even in the pandemic, people took time to tend to their gardens and showcase their flowers which were blooming all over the neighborhood.
I stopped at Mathews-Palmer Playground at 445 West 45th Street for a quick rest. I am not sure what I am doing when I enter a park but I could see those little stares again as a single man walking into a playground to take a rest. This busy little park stretches from West 45th to West 46th and is extremely busy in the afternoons with families. Kids were running all over the place chasing one another while parents chatted.
The Mathews-Palmer Playground at 445 West 45th Street
The park has all sorts of interesting equipment to play on and the shade trees are really nice as the weather is getting warmer. It is just fun to watch the families interacting with one another even as COVID rolls on.
The park is named after two neighborhood activists May Mathews, who worked and lived in the neighborhood eventually working at the Hartley House as the head social worker until 1954. Alexandra Palmer was a long time resident of West 46th Street who worked tirelessly to maintain the park and work with its upkeep (NYCParks.org).
Behind scaffolding in the park is a well known mural “Against Domestic Colonialism” by artist Arnold Belkin. You could not see it from the park side so I had to look up. The work was finished in 1972 during the time the artist was living in New York City between the late 60’s and early 70’s. It has been deteriorated over the last few decades (Boston.com).
The Arnold Belkin mural “Against Domestic Colonialism” before the scaffolding
Mr. Belkin was born in Canada and started his training at the Vancouver School of Art and continued his training later at the Banff School of Fine Arts. The artist is known for his murals large and small and his work with plastic.
Artist Denise Penizzotto, who is handling the restoration
Ms. Penizzotto is a professional artist with experience in project and arts management both here and abroad. She is currently attending and working at Hunter College in New York and has studied at St. Cloud University.
Another interesting mural in the park that you can see from the playground is the “Kids Project 1991” mural at the front of the park.
The “Kids Project 1991” in Mathew-Palmer Playground
When I entered West 46th Street, most of the street was barricaded off for outdoor dining for “Restaurant Row”, a well-known group of eating establishments that cater to the theater crowd. Many of these were closed at the time I made my first visit to the neighborhood when it was colder but as the weather has gotten nicer the tables have been set up and people are enjoying outdoor dining again. The closed off block is only between Eight and Ninth Avenue.
As I passed through, I stopped to admire the plaque at the Hartley House located at 413 West 46th Street. This important establishment has been helping neighborhood residents since 1897 founded on providing education, volunteerism and charity (Hartley House History).
Tucked behind an alleyway and gate is the only remainder of the old Clinton estate, the old carriage house which is now a private home. You really have to look for this hidden entrance as it is in the middle of two buildings down a narrow alley. It is like a hidden kingdom.
The Clinton Court gate leading back to the old carriage house
The carriage house is said to date back to the 1820’s and may be the last reminder of the old estates that used to be part of this neighborhood before the Civil War. The Clinton family had owned most of the land in this neighborhood (Untapped Cities/Emphemeralnewyork@Wordpress.com). As several bloggers mentioned, you can’t see the carriage house from the street and it is private property.
The old Clinton Carriage House at 420-422 West 46th Street
I finished up the first day of walking the neighborhood exhausted. It had been a hot day and it was a lot walking from West 43rd to West 46th from Eighth to Tenth Avenues after a long day of running around. It was also still getting dark early so I finished the evening here.
I returned a few days later to finish the rest of the streets and this time left plenty of time to really look things over that I might have missed. I started my afternoon by revisiting a restaurant that had been closed for a while in Murray Hill, Hop Won at 149 East 45th Street. It was so nice that the restaurant reopened. I was scared that it had closed permanently.
The family that runs the restaurant looked like they happy to see me on that late afternoon. I had the Combination Roast Duck and Pork plate with white rice with an egg roll (see my review on TripAdvisor) and it was so good. I munched down on that for lunch and that got me through the rest of the afternoon of walking.
Don’t miss Hop Won Express at 149 East 45th Street in Midtown East
I walked from the east side to the west side after lunch and revisited some of the spots that I needed more time at like rewalking restaurant row (it was much busier on this warmer day) and Mathew-Palmer park to take a better look at the restoration after reading up on it.
I then turned the corner onto West 47th Street and came upon another painting outside the restaurant Anejo, a Mexican and Tequila Bar at 668 10th Avenue. It seems that a lot of the restaurants in the City are using artists to decorate the side walls of their restaurants.
As I walked down the street I came across the Actors Temple at 339 West 47th Street. This interesting building was built in 1917 as the West Side Hebrew Association. Because of a dwindling membership, the synagogue now rents out the space for dance, music performances and religious services (The Actors Temple NYCArts.org).
I took a moment to relax and finish my notes at Ramon Aponte Park at 343 West 47th Street, a small pocket park in the middle of the neighborhood. This busy little park had kids running all over the place like many of the parks in the neighborhood while the parents talked amongst themselves.
This wonderful little park was named after Ramon Aponte, who was the former President of the 47th/48th Street Association. When the Police Station that once stood in this spot was knocked down the spot became a vacant lot and stood empty during the high crime years of the City. He and many concerned residents of the Association thought it would make a nice green space for the neighborhood. The park opened in 1979 and it was transferred to the New York Parks system in 1987 (NYCParks.com).
I picked up the pace a bit when I got to West 48th Street. I wanted to make it to West 58th Street before dark and I was spending too much time looking at every building carefully. I was amazed for small tenement buildings that people had done such a nice job fixing them up. I wonder what the residents from thirty and forty years ago who lived in the neighborhood would think of this.
On West 48th Street, I passed the Clinton Community Garden which was closed for visitors because of COVID but I could see the volunteers working inside. The garden was not in full bloom yet from what I could see but it looked very impressive and I will have to revisit it in the future.
The Clinton Community Garden at 434 West 48th Street
When the Clinton Community Garden was started over thirty years ago, it was vacant lot with a lot of illegal activity in a time when the City was falling apart. Volunteers cleaned the plot up and planted the area. When the lot was threatened to be sold, the volunteers from the neighborhood appealed to the City to buy it. It was transferred to the Parks system in 1984 and now is run along with the Clinton Garden non profit. Many special events happen in the Garden during the warmer months (NYCParks.org).
When I reached Tenth Avenue again, I relaxed in Hell’s Kitchen Park which lines Tenth Avenue between West 47th and 48th Streets. This restful park was always busy when I walked in the neighborhood and was a nice place to bring my lunch on several afternoons when I want to rest from a long day under the shade.
Hell’s Kitchen Park is on Tenth Avenue between West 47th and 48th Street
Hell’s Kitchen Park has an interesting history in that it had once been a parking lot. Since there was not a lot of green space in this area of the City since it was developed, the City bought this land which had been condemned at the time and developed into the current park that opened in 1979. Today it is one of the hubs for the neighborhood (NYCParks.org).
When I visited, there was always a pickup game of basketball and the kids populated the park after school. I enjoyed eating my lunch here and watching the families enter the park and have a nice time. It is nice to relax on the benches below the shade trees and nod off.
After my break at the park, I turned the corner again and walked down West 49th Street from Tenth Avenue. As I passed the Mather Building Arts and Craftsmanship HIgh School at 439 West 49th Street. On the side of the building, there was another interesting piece of outdoor art by artist Hans Hofmann called ‘Untitled’. The mosaic was created in 1957.
Artist Hans Hofmann was born in Germany and started his career in public service but always leaned towards the creative arts. On encouragement, his studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and the Academie Colarossi in Paris and immersed himself in the Avante-Garde scene. He moved to the States in the thirties to teach and remained in the United States for the rest of his life becoming a citizen in 1941 (Wiki).
Next to the high school was the closed and probably much needed Gutenberg Playground at 420 West 49th Street named after Johann Gutenberg, the inventor of moveable type in printing and was noted for creating the ‘Mazarin Bible’ also known as the ‘Gutenberg Bible’. The playground was built next to the high school in 1958 and was transferred to the NYC Parks Department in 1959. The playground is currently getting an update (NYCParks.org).
Walking back to Eighth Avenue, I had to make another rest stop in the courtyard of the World Wide Plaza Residence at 350 West 50th Street which stretches from West 49th to 50th Streets. It is a nice place to take a break and just relax from the traffic of the City.
In the middle of the courtyard of the building that is open to the public, is the most unusual and beautiful fountain. The fountain called “The Four Seasons” was designed by artist Sidney Simon and each of the four female statutes holds up a globe and represents the four seasons. The statutes were modeled by Molly Ackerman (Wiki).
The World Wide Plaza Fountain “The Four Seasons” by artist Sidney Simon
Sidney Simon was an American born artist from Pennsylvania. He was educated at Carnegie-Mellon and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Fine Arts and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Known as a sculpturist, the fountain at World Wide Plaza was considered one of his most noted works (Wiki).
When I turned the corner onto West 50th Street and walked down the street, I passed the Stella Tower at 425 West 50th Street which was an elegant building in the middle of a neighborhood of small structures. The apartment house was built in 1927 and designed by architect Ralph Walker and was named after his wife, Stella. It is considered a prime example of Pre-War architecture with art deco details (StreetEasy.com/CityRealty.com)
I walked down the rest of the street admiring the small buildings and the array of restaurants that lined the Avenues.
When I started my walk down West 51st Street, I came across the most intriguing and colorful paintings outside ‘ritas Restaurant at 756 Ninth Avenue. The colors are so vibrant and the skull in the middle of the mural is pretty powerful. The reviews on online say that the food is excellent.
The Mural at ‘ritas Restaurant at 756 Ninth Avenue should not be missed
As I walked towards Tenth Avenue, I noticed the beautiful Sacred Heart of Jesus Church at 457 West 51st Street. What an interesting little church. Even though the cornerstone was laid in 1884, there is some debate on when the church was finished and designed by who. The church says it was finished in 1885 and the AIA Guide to New York said it was finished in 1901 and designed by the architects at Napoleon DeBrun & Sons. The church is designed in red brick and terra cotta (Wiki).
Sacred Heart of Jesus Church at 457 West 51st Street
Walking back down the street, I noticed to beautifully detailed buildings that stood out amongst all the others. One was at 330 West 51st and the other was at 306 West 51st Street. They stood out amongst the smaller tenements buildings on the block.
The stone work and carvings of 330-332 West 51st Street was built in 1920 and has interesting archway entrances. The building is an SRO and was just renovated. There is an elegant beauty to it with its faded stone work.
There were also two interesting restaurants that I popped my head into when I was walking around. The Hudson Market Place Deli at 755 Ninth Avenue and another small restaurant that just opened Seguidilla Empanadas at 455 West 51st Street. Both look really nice and are pretty popular in the neighborhood.
Seguidilla Empanada just opened their doors and did this video on YouTube:
The owner welcomes you to his business.
When I walked the neighborhood another afternoon and was traveling the border of the neighborhood I stopped in for a snack. I tried the Chicken Empanada ($2.99) and they were really good. The empanadas were filled with chicken and served it with a pink sauce. They also carry a Dominican soda called ‘Country Club’ and the orange really hit the spot. They have a nice menu.
Turning the corner onto West 52nd, there was a lot to see. At 348 West 52nd Street is an empty carriage house that was in the process of being renovated. The carriage house was built somewhere in the 1870’s by owner, John Newcomb, who ran an auction business. He used this carriage house for his stables for delivery. Since his ownership, the building has had many incarnations up until recently when it was a trendy bar called ‘Therapy’ (Daytonian 2019).
348 West 52nd Street-The John Newcomb Stable now “Therapy”
Outside Crispin’s Restaurant at 764 Tenth Avenue off West 52nd Street is an unusual mural outside the restaurant that I thought was very amusing. This wonderful Italian restaurant I have read has excellent food.
Crispin’s Restaurant mural on West 52nd Street and Tenth Avenue
By this point, I needed a break for dinner myself and I was dying for a hamburger. Lucky for me that I found Lucky’s Famous Burger restaurant at 370 West 52nd Street. This little hole in the wall burger place is excellent. They are also very reasonable. For $12.95, I had one of their combination meals of a Cheeseburger with fries and a large coke. The amount of food I got was a lot.
Lucky’s Famous Burgers at 370 West 52nd Street
The cheeseburger was incredibly juicy and the fresh toppings really made the burger and the fries were cooked to perfection and the portion size was more than generous (please read my review on Tripadvisor).
After dinner was over, I was done for the day. It was getting dark out and I could not see much in the dark. I just could not believe how fast these days went.
When I returned a few days later, the weather finally broke and it was nice outside. It was a breathtaking beautiful sunny afternoon when I arrived in Midtown West/ Hell’s Kitchen again. It was the perfect day to walk around.
I started by walk on the top of West 52rd Street, passing the many businesses I had just visited the other day and then rounded the corner to West 53th Street. Most of the block was non-descrip with the exception of an unusual mural someone spray painted behind a fence at 333 West 53rd Street.
As I rounded the corner onto West 54th Street off Eighth Avenue, I was struck by the beauty of the Saint George Greek Orthodox Church at 307 West 54th Street. This beautiful church was constructed in 1886 and has served many purposes over the years. In the 1950’s, the church took over this spot (Saint George Greek Orthodox Church history)
307 West 54th Street-Saint George Greek Orthodox Church
Further down the block, when I passed 341 West 54th Street, I saw a series of faces staring back at me. I love these buildings with faces all over them. I was in need of something sweet to keep me going with all the walking that I had to do this afternoon, so I stopped at Huascar & Company Bakery at 453 West 54th Street. This tiny bakery is tucked into a corner near a building that is being renovated so it is easy to miss.
Huascar & Company at 453 West 54th Street
Not wanting to have the usual cupcakes and cookies, I saw in a jar a small cookie that the woman behind the counter said was a traditional South American cookie, a Alfagar, a type of sugar cookie with a caramel filling and powdered sugar on top. It was a little expensive at $3.50 but it was delicious and worth the price.
The ‘Alfagar cookie’ at Huascar & Company bakery
After having some refreshments inside me, I walked down West 55th Street and noticed the elegance of the Sherwood Apartments at 340 West 55th Street. The Sherwood was built in 1925 and is a combination of stone and brick and has some stand out balconies. It stands out from the other residences on the blocks between Eighth and Tenth Avenues (StreetEasy.com). It even has a planted roof deck.
When walking down West 56th Street, I noticed that the block had some interesting artwork all along the block in places you would never think. In front of 424 West 56th Street, you are greeted by a purple figure smiling at you. I figured a local artist lives here.
They must have also decorated the fence across the street which has all this unusual stuff attached to the webbing of the fence. It will be hard to keep up when the construction finishes on the site.
This is a portion of the fencing at 310 West 56th Street
Tucked into the public plaza at 330 West 56th Street, there was an unusual bird sculpture located near the entrance but I did not know who made it. It had the strangest shape to it.
Walking through the courtyard of The Sheffield at 322 West 57th Street from the West 56th Street side, I came across the unusual sculpture ‘IKON’ by artist David Hostetler. This strange portrait of a woman made an impression on everyone relaxing in the garden. The sculpture has an unique form and stands out in the courtyard.
The sculpture “IKON” by artist David Hostetler at between West 56th and 57th courtyard of The Sheffield complex
Artist David Hostetler
Artist David Hostetler is an American born artist from Ohio. He graduated with a BA from Indiana University and a MFA from Ohio University. He specialty was wooden and bronze sculpture and known for his ‘feminine’ works (Artist Bio).
When I rounded West 57th Street from Eighth Avenue passing the The Sheffield again I passed another building at 309 West 57th Street. On the outside of the building was a plaque to the composer Bela Bartok.
The plaque dedicated to Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, one most influential composers of the 20th Century. Mr. Bartok was born in Hungary and studied at Royal Academy of Music in Budapest and studied under many well known composers. He migrated to the United States in 1940 with his wife when he refused to recognize the Nazi regime. He remained in New York for the rest of his life working for Columbia University
When I walked along West 58th Street again, I noticed that a lot of the restaurants and stores had closed during the era of COVID. This part of the City has really taken a hit with the lack of tourists and office workers. There is only so much the local residents can support. I walked towards the back of the Time Warner Building and walked past the back entrance to the Time Warner Building and I noticed a piece of street art that I had not noticed on my last few trips in the neighborhood. That statue is called “Asaf and Yo’oh” by artist Boaz Vaadia and is tucked into the entrance of the building at 25 Columbus Circle-1 Central Park West.
The artist was born in Israel and came from a farming background. He studied at the Avni Institute of Fine Arts in Tel Aviv and was sent to the United States on a grant from the American-Israel Cultural Foundation and then studied at Pratt. His works are made of varies mediums of stone (Artist Bio).
It was surprising how quiet the hotel looked as the Mandarin Hotel was one of the few uptown hotels that are still open during the pandemic. No one was around so it gave me a chance to peak inside the building which looked empty. With most people still working from home I did not expect to see a lot but the area is getting busier.
I ended my walk on the last afternoon at 57 Taco Express for lunch. I was in the mood for a Cheese and Chicken Quesadilla ($5.99) and ordered one and took it down to Hell’s Kitchen Park for lunch. It was nice to just sit back and relax and watch the world go by. The quesadilla was pretty good. It was nice to eat it in a sunny park under the trees watching everyone have a great time around me. Some people have not let the pandemic totally control their life.
Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen offers so much so take time to stroll each street and take it all in.
With the College in Summer recess, its full steam ahead!
Check out the other walks of Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton/Midtown West on the blog:
Walking the Border and Avenues of Hell’s Kitchen Day One Hundred and Ninety Four:
I ordinarly try a restaurant a few times before I recommend it for this site but this evening I had the most amazing sandwich for dinner and I had to share this with the world.
Banh Mi Place at 824B Washington Avenue
I was at this tiny sandwich shop in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, Banh Mi Place at 824B Washington Avenue ordering a sandwich before an event at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I was in the mood for something different for dinner so I ordered the Classic Sandwich which is pate, Vietnamese ham, roasted ground pork with mayo, cucumbers, julienne carrots and daikon radish and cilantro and it was served on a toasted French baguette.
I finally got back to the West Side of the Island since before the Christmas holidays of 2019. I could not believe it had that long since I had visited that part Island. Like the rest of Manhattan, this area just keeps changing. COVID has changed the rest of the country but in New York City, it has shuttered and changed whole neighborhoods.
Unlike the Midtown South neighborhood that had been built as Midtown business district during the “City Beautiful Era” of cities between the Civil War and WWI with its classic Beaux Arts and French Renaissance style buildings, Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton was filled with tenements and smaller commercial buildings that catered to the working class living there who were employed in the factories and the docks in Chelsea and the Garment District. Up until the early 1990’s, this was still a pretty tough area. As the City has gentrified, this is one of the last frontiers for people to move into reasonably. Up until COVID hit the City, the area had been fully gentrified and the corridors of Ninth and Tenth Avenues had become ‘restaurant rows’ for the theater district . Now Tenth Avenue is retrenching with a lot of empty storefronts.
I started my walk at the Port Authority which is the southern part of the neighborhood. This is the main port of transportation for thousands of workers from New Jersey and in pre-COVID times, this area was filled with active restaurants and theaters. Things have opened back up slowly but most of the restaurants for now closed. The 42nd Street Corridor from Eight to Sixth Avenue has not fully recovered from the lost of the Theater traffic. As I walked up Eight Avenue from West 42nd to 59th Streets, some restaurants were fully opened and some were take out and delivery so the foot traffic was pretty quiet that day. Even some of the hotels have not opened back up for business. This area has been hit very badly since the closure of the Theater District.
Since Midtown West had been rezoned eight years ago, the area is in the process of being knocked down and rebuilt with new office buildings and apartment houses. The area around Eight Avenue from West 42nd to 50th Streets has changed a lot in the last ten years. COVID has closed most of the restaurants on the street as well. Looking on the side streets many of the theaters in the Theater District are either chained closed or boarded up with the hotels in the neighborhood. It can be a scary ghost town at night.
The area has had an interesting past. During Colonization by the Dutch, the neighborhood was known as “Great Kill” due to three streams that used to empty into the Hudson River and was home to many large farms and estates of the wealthy . The area was dominated by family names such as Hopper and Clinton, the latter being the former Vice-President and New York State Governor George Clinton, whose family owned a villa around where present West 46th Street is now. All that is left of that part of the neighborhood’s history is the carriage house from the estate in an alleyway at 422 West 46th Street (Wiki).
Former Vice-President and New York Governor George Clinton
In 1849, the railroad reached the neighborhood and it started to form its Industrial stage with tanneries and docks being built along the shore and shanty towns for workers forming along the waterfront. Later tenements were built to house the workers of the industries filling with recent Irish immigrants after the Civil War and the area had a notorious reputation for gang violence until gentrification started in the 1980’s. The neighborhood has been transforming since that time with new construction along the West 42nd to 59th corridor along Eighth Avenue (Wiki).
The area is still in a state of transformation even during the Global Pandemic. Many of the restaurants around the neighborhood have closed partially due to the closing of Broadway theaters that dominate the neighborhood and the empty office buildings that line Eighth Avenue. The ‘Theater District’ that lies just east of the neighborhood is still mostly boarded up as well as the hotels are still all closed. It makes it spooky at night to walk through almost similar to those years in the 1980’s and early 1990’s when you had to run down Eighth Avenue to get to the Port Authority.
The edges of this neighborhood have changed a lot in the past twenty years. Between the redevelopment of the area under the Koch and Giuliani Administrations and the rezoning under the Bloomberg Administration, the Eighth Avenue corridor and streets from West 40th to 45th have all been rebuilt. I have never seen so much change in an area in the last twenty years.
Pre-COVID the Port Authority between West 42nd to West 41st Streets from Eighth to Ninth Avenues was going through a face-life renovation and the facility started to move out all the older stores and restaurants for higher end takeout places and an art gallery. It looks now that it has been put on hold until people start to return.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal at 625 Eighth Avenue
Since I returned to Manhattan to resume this project last June, the traffic going through the Port Authority has not changed much even though there are more people on the bus. The afternoon I came into the City it was sunny and 66 degrees. More outdoor dining was in play and more people were outside enjoying the weather.
I started my walk exiting the Port Authority at the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 42nd Street, a corner that still needs a lot of work. Pre-COVID this was a bustling area of theaters, shops and restaurants and one of the biggest McDonald’s in the country. Most of it is closed down now and the homeless have taken back over this area. Surprisingly though, it still remains clean a result of the Partnerships established in the mid-1990’s. This area is swept all day long.
As I walked along the eastern border of Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton, there is a distinct change in the area. Even if many of the hotels and theaters are closed, slowly the restaurants in the Theater District have reopened to outdoor dining giving this area a much needed boost.
One of the most interesting buildings in the Times Square area is the Westin New York at Times Square at 270 West 43rd Street which stretches from West 42nd to West 43rd along Eighth Avenue. This hotel (which is currently closed during COVID) was considered one of the most innovative designed buildings in New York City when it was built.
Westin New York at Times Square at 270 West 43rd Street
The hotel was so innovative at the time when it was built and was considered a key in the redevelopment of the West 42nd Street district. The hotel was commissioned by the architectural firm of Arquitectonica to design the building. The 863 room hotel is actually two towers merged together with a ten story midsection for retail and hotel suites. The large scale abstract design has the look of a multi-dimensional gigantic origami (Arquitectonica website). The building was designed by HKS architects and was finished in 2002.
Further up Eight Avenue is the well-known Row NYC Hotel at 700 Eighth Avenue. This hotel opened in 1928 as the Hotel Lincoln and was the largest hotel in Manhattan when it opened with 1331 rooms. In 1957, the hotel was sold and remodeled and open again as The Hotel Manhattan. It was closed in the 1960’s as the rest of the area declined. It reopened again as the Milford Plaza Hotel in 1978 and was a big theater going hotel. In 2013, the hotel was sold once again and went through another renovation and opened as the currently Row NYC Hotel (Wiki).
Passing now closed hotels and restaurants that line this part of Eighth Avenue that border the theater district, I passed the now closed Smith’s Bar, which has been a fixture in Times Square for over sixty years opening in 1954. The bar had been sold to new owners in 2009 and then closed in 2014 to reopen a year later. The bar is now closed again due to the COVID pandemic.
This bar has seen Times Square go through a major transition over the years and was once located in one of the worst areas during the 1990’s. It survived all of that and closed a few months ago due to the COVID pandemic.
Further up the avenue on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 46th Street is the West 46th Street SRO. This interesting building that I thought was an elegant Victorian is actually a combination of three former tenement buildings and two residences to make one building. Architects Oaklander, Coogan & Vitto PC created this interesting building with an additional shared floor topped with a mansard roof and tower. It used to house many trendy restaurants and bars but since the pandemic has been empty (OCV Architects PC).
I reached West 48th Street and I passed Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9, which I used to pass all the time when I worked down the road at the Java Shop on the corner of Broadway and West 46th Street at 782 Eighth Avenue. These companies were hit hard a year after I left my job on 9/11 when the Brothers of this house lost 15 members that day, their entire shift. The memorial they have to their members is really touching and the guys that work there always seem so friendly to all the tourists that pass by.
Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9 at 782 Eighth Avenue
Pay respects to the Engine 54/Ladder 4 Memorial on the front of the building
I made a detour back to West 55th Street for lunch. I stopped at Stage Star Deli at 105 West 55th Street for a sandwich before I continued the walk around the neighborhood. The deli is so reasonable and has so many choices (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
Stage Star Deli at 105 West 55th Street
I chose a Chicken Salad sandwich with Pesto combination lunch ($8.95) which was excellent. The chicken salad was so fresh and the pesto had such a nice flavor. The sandwich was served on a hero roll and could have fed two people. The food here is consistent and excellent.
The Chicken Salad with Pesto here is excellent
After lunch I headed down the road to Myzel Chocolate at 140 West 55th for dessert. I had not been there in over a year since the shutdown of the City last March. I had to have one of their Chocolate Chip cookies and they still had Cadbury Creme Eggs from Easter (See reviews on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). I was shocked when the bill came to $4.10. For a cookie and a piece of candy that must have been a month old?
Myzel’s Chocolate at 140 West 55th Street
I talked with the owner, Mrs. Myzel and she was talking about the lack of business since the shut down and all the problems the City was facing with the homeless and the lack of office workers. I told her it would be about a year until things started to get to the new normal. Still the store had so much of its magic to it with all the decorations and displays. It is a store to visit to forget your troubles.
Mrs. Myzel greets all her customers with a smile
There are two wonderful Chinese restaurants that I like to visit when I am in the neighborhood. One is Peking Roast Duck at 858 Eighth Avenue, which has wonderful lunch specials until 4:00pm. The restaurant has some of the best egg rolls that I have tasted in a long time.
Peking Roast Duck Restaurant at 858 Eighth Avenue
The other is Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns at 811 Eighth Avenue which is known for their Pork & Crab and Pork Soup Dumplings. I love their fried dumplings, Scallion pancakes with sliced beef, the pan-fried Duck Buns and the Shanghai pan-fried pork buns. Everything on the menu here is excellent and you can eat your way through the menu of delicious Dim Sum.
Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns at 811 Eighth Avenue
I double backed to Eighth Avenue after lunch and walked up the avenue to West 59th Street. As I continued up Eighth Avenue and circled Columbus Circle, I saw the familiar sites of the statue of Christopher Columbus and the Time-Warner Complex in the background. It has been almost two years since I finished the Upper West Side of Manhattan and even as I walk those streets again I always feel like I missed something. In the era of COVID, it keeps changing so much.
Columbus Circle has changed over the last twenty years
Columbus Circle was always busy day and night with street vendors, bicyclists, performers and just people sitting and reading or enjoying the weather and people watching on a warm day. Now because of the ‘Cancel Culture’ crowd dominating the headlines and the idiots knocking down statues, the area is fenced off with police cars around it. It used to be such a nice area to sit down and talk.
The 76 foot statue was designed by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo as part of a plan to honor Columbus’s discovery of the Americas as part of the 1892 commemoration of the 400 year anniversary of the event. If you look closely at the pillar, you will see the reliefs of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria ships on the memorial (Columbus Memorial and Wiki).
Columbus Circle itself was part of the great plan of Central Park in 1857 by Fredrick Law Olmsted, the designer of many parks in New York City as having four rotary entrances to the park. The other rotary in the neighborhood is Grand Army Plaza by The Plaza Hotel.
The Time Warner Center on the other side of the circle represents the massive change in the Upper West Side from a liberal working class area to the new luxury of Manhattan. The Time Warner Center is a mixed use building containing office space, the Mandarin Hotel, many exclusive restaurants and shops and entertainment. The building was designed by David Childs and Mustafa Kemel Abadan of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. This modern palace of luxury replaced the old New York Coliseum and opened in 2003 (Wiki). Don’t miss just wondering around the building.
On the other side of the Circle is the new Museum of Art & Design that opened in 2008. The building was the former home of the Gallery of Modern Art designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1969. The building was modernized by architect Brad Cloepfil (Wiki) and the museum shows interesting aspects of art from media, video, painting and photography.
Museum of Art and Design at 2 Columbus Circle
As I crossed the street, the neighborhood is full of Post War architecture but one building stands out with its modern twist. The Hearst Tower at 300 West 57th Street.
The first six floors of the original Hearst Tower were built in 1928 by architect Joseph Urban for the headquarters of the Hearst publishing empire. The building was originally supposed to have an office tower on top but the Great Depression put a stop to the construction. Take a look at the statuary, stone work and details of the original building before admiring the new addition (Wiki).
Admire the detail work of the original 1928 building
Architect Norman Foster designed the 46 story addition to the building which was completed in 2006. The addition of glass and steel is designed in the ‘Diagrid’ pattern and was the first ‘green building’ with environmental features in New York City (Wiki).
I then walked across that street to the Time Warner Building right off the subway station under Columbus Circle (it is amazing where they put this stuff) to the food court in the subway station. The Turnstyle Underground Market is located at the West 59th Street entrance at the Time-Warner Building. Just take the escalator down.
The Turnstyle Underground is in the subway station at the Time Warner Building at 59 Columbus Circle
The food court market had just reopened a few months ago and the place was more than half empty. All the great little restaurants that were independently owned were gone. VIctims to the COVID pandemic and the lack of tourists and office workers. I had read that my favorite, Daa Dumplings had closed about four or five months ago due to lack of traffic (See Day One Hundred and Fifty-Walking the Borders of Central Park South):
If I saw four people sitting down there, it was a lot. Most of the restaurants were empty and almost all the small stores were gone as well. Even the bar that was so popular at the end of the food court and the small independent pizzeria were shut down. It was really spooky because just a year and a half earlier your could not get a seat here.
I walked towards the back of the Time Warner Building and walked past the back entrance to the Time Warner Building and I noticed a piece of street art that I had not noticed on my last few trips in the neighborhood. That statue is called “Asaf and Yo’oh” by artist Boaz Vaadia and is tucked into the entrance of the building at 25 Columbus Circle-1 Central Park West.
The artist was born in Israel and came from a farming background. He studied at the Avni Institute of Fine Arts in Tel Aviv and was sent to the United States on a grant from the American-Israel Cultural Foundation and then studied at Pratt. His works are made of varies mediums of stone (Artist Bio).
It was surprising how quiet the hotel looked as the Mandarin Hotel was one of the few uptown hotels that are still open during the pandemic. No one was around so it gave me a chance to peak inside the building which looked empty. With most people still working from home I did not expect to see a lot.
West 59th and 58th Streets are disrupted in their flow by the Time Warner Building and I continued my walk across West 58th Street and then crossed back over to West 59th behind the complex. This area of the City was part of major urban renewal project back in the 1960’s when the Lincoln Center complex and the Colleges were built so most of the construction up here is new or been updated. I have seen a lot of changes since I walked this neighborhood in when walking the area in 2018 (See Day One Hundred and Twenty-Five-MywalkinManhattan).
Day One Hundred and Twenty-Five: Walking the Streets of the lower part of the Upper West Side:
Still here and there are gems of architecture from another era. Walking down West 59th Street there are still structures that survived urban renewal of the area. I passed the the Parish House of the Church of St. Paul at 415 West 59th Street. The building was built in the late Victorian Gothic Revival style by architects Jeremy O’Rourke and the Rev. George Deshon between 1876 to 1884. The structure was construction used stones from various historical buildings (Church of St. Paul and Wiki).
The Parish House of the Church of St. Paul at 415 West 59th Street
The other building not to miss is the Williams J. Syms Operating Theater at 338 West 59th Street right behind the Time-Warner Complex. It was built in 1892 as a medical hospital and is the last remaining piece of the old Roosevelt Hospital by architects William Wheeler Smith and surgeon Charles McBurney. Made with marble and mosaic floors as not to harbor bacteria, it was considered state of the art when it opened. It is now being renovated for a school (Wiki and HDR Org).
Turning the corner on West 59th Street at Tenth Avenue, you will face the beauty of the John Jay College of Criminology Haaren Building at 899 Tenth Avenue. The building is home to many classrooms and the library for the college. The building was designed by Charles B.J. Snyder and was completed in 1903 (Wiki and John Jay College). The building was originally the Dewitt Clinton High School.
John Jay College Haaren Building at 899 Tenth Avenue
The walk down Tenth Avenue was very different from other neighborhoods I had been recently. NoMAD, Rose Hill and Kips Bay were filled with historical architecture and embellished office buildings while this part of Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen is filled with tenement housing, small theaters and restaurants. Unlike Ninth Avenue with its vibrant restaurant scene, Tenth Avenue is full of empty storefronts and closed restaurants with ‘For Rent’ signs. This is a sign of the times during the era of COVID.
One of the few patches of green in the neighborhood is the Hell’s Kitchen Park at thew corner at Tenth Avenue and West 48th Street. This park was created from a parking lot in 1966 when the neighborhood demanded green space for residents who lived here (NYCParks.org). The park was packed with families and kids playing basketball and running around the playground.
Hell’s Kitchen Playground at Tenth Avenue and West 48th Street
It was strange to be in a neighborhood with such small buildings. Not just small buildings but so many ‘For Rent’ signs on the windows. I know this neighborhood will bounce back to the vibrant place it once was but it will take time. The traffic changed again when I got to West 42nd Street. There were most people walking around the streets.
A lot of the businesses on West 42nd Street heading back to the Port Authority have started opening up again. Sidewalk cafes were out with the warmer weather and customers were milling around.
One of my favorite Chinese restaurants from the 1990’s, Ollies at 411 West 42nd Street had not just opened their dining room but their outside cafe dining. Ollies had once been a popular restaurant in the Theater district at the corner of West 46th Street off Broadway and one of my favorite places to eat after work. It is still popular but the chef has since changed.
One building that stood out amongst the smaller tenement buildings of West 42nd Street was the Holy Cross Church at 329 West 42nd Street, which was decorated by plantings of many flowers that gave it a festive appearance.
The building has a interesting history. The parish was established in 1852 and the original building was built in 1852 but it was outgrown so a new building was built in 1854. This building was hit by lightning in 1867 and the current building was built in the same spot in 1870. It was built by architect Henry Englebert and is the oldest building on 42nd Street (Wiki and Holy Cross History).
Once I got back to Port Authority is was back for a bathroom break as there are not many public toilets in the neighborhood. Then I made the walk around the second time around the perimeter admiring the buildings and businesses for a second time. I could see by the traffic that the east side of Eighth Avenue was very quiet near the now closed theaters. This area was hit hard by COVID pandemic and it is rumored that Broadway theaters should open between September and December (we all hope) and the district will once again open.
When I reached West 58th again, I stopped at Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 58th Street for a quick slice. The pizza was pretty good and it was a nice sized slice of pizza. I had passed the place for years but never went into so it was another dining adventure (see review on TripAdvisor).
After my snack, I continued the walk back down Tenth Avenue and stopped in Hell’s Kitchen Park to take some more notes. I swear the park got busier since visiting a few hours before. I made the turn on West 42nd Street and decided to walk up the length of Ninth Avenue and explore the Avenues of the neighborhood as well.
Just like Tenth Avenue, Ninth Avenue is filled with smaller tenement buildings, restaurants and small theaters and shops but being the heart of the Gay community, Ninth Avenue is much more vibrant. Most of the restaurants and outdoor cafes were filled the afternoon I visited the neighborhood. Being later in the evening, many people filled the bars and tables of the establishments and I noticed how many people were on top of each other and were not wearing masks. I thought this is a recipe for disaster but still it has a very vibrant restaurant scene.
In the midst of all the restaurants and bars on Ninth Avenue, there were only two that I have tried, Mom’s Kitchen & Bar at 701 Ninth Avenue for breakfast a few years before and Saccio Pizza at 819 Ninth Avenue for pizza one afternoon and it was pretty good.
Mom’s Kitchen & Bar at 701 Ninth Avenue
Sacco Pizza at 819 Ninth Avenue
The one thing I remember about eating at Mom’s Kitchen & Bar that morning was the unusual menu they had for brunch. A friend and I shared an order of their Fruity Pebble Pancakes and their Mac & Cheese Pancakes and they were strange combinations but really tasted good especially the Mac & Cheese Pancakes with a honey syrup. It was an interesting breakfast.
The Mac & Cheese Pancakes at Mom’s Kitchen & Bar are amazing
This is a neighborhood in a big transition now that the theaters are closed but I know brighter days are ahead as things open up soon. With the warmer weather and more vaccine coming, it will revert back to the neighborhood it was becoming. You can see this on a busy night at dinner time with restaurants filling up and people walking around with and without masks.
I am still wearing my mask around the City for now.
Check out the other walks of the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton/Midtown West on this blog:
Walking the Border and Avenues of Hell’s Kitchen Day One Hundred and Ninety Four:
The weather has finally started to break and it is getting warmer out. It has made it better to do my walks in the City. It figured though I would start my walk on the Avenues of Koreatown/Midtown South/NoNaNe on the coldest day of the week. Even though it was a sunny day the wind whipped through the neighborhood. It was Mother Nature letting me know that it was still winter.
The City was quiet on the afternoon that I came in to finish walking the Avenues of Koreatown/Midtown South/NoNaNe. Even Macy’s seemed quiet when I walked through the store to get from Seventh Avenue to Broadway. I needed to warm up before my walk and I wanted to see if the store was going to prepare for the Annual Flower Show during COVID. I am sure that they will cancel it.
I started my day walking Fifth Avenue from East 34th to East 30th Streets. This is where the most elegant of the Beaux Arts buildings are located. In the midst of all this rebuilding in Midtown, it is Fifth Avenue that has kept its historic architecture. Some of the most beautiful buildings in the neighborhood are located on Fifth Avenue.
Walking down from East 34th Street, I looked up and saw the first of several beautiful buildings at 344 Fifth Avenue. This elegant office building was finished in 1907 and was designed by architects Maynicke & Franke in the Beaux Arts style with large display windows on the bottom and details along the middle and edges of the building (Metro Manhattan).
344 Fifth Avenue
Next to this building is another interesting building that stands out amongst its taller neighbors at 335-399 Fifth Avenue and East 33rd Street is the former A.T. Demarest & Company building. I could tell by its design that it had more of a purpose at one time than being home to a grouping of fast food restaurants.
335-339 Fifth Avenue-The A. T. Demarest Building
The building was designed by architects Renwick, Aspinwall & Russell in the Renaissance Revival style with a terra cotta exterior details and large bay windows of a building that showcased the firm’s business in carriages and the dawn of the automotive industry (Daytonian). Look up at the edges of the room for the interesting details of the building.
At the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 32nd Street is 320 Fifth Avenue, the former Reed & Barton Building. Known more now for the CVS at the bottom of the building in the retail space, the former headquarters and showroom of the famous jeweler was built in 1905 by architect Robert Maynicke in the Beaux Art style. You can see by the intricate detail of the top and edges of the building the festoons, wreaths and columns of the building. The company would remain here until 1921 when like the rest of the shopping district moved to upper Fifth Avenue where it remains today (Daytonian/StreetEasy/42 Floors Up).
320 Fifth Avenue-The Reed & Barton Building
As I continued my walk down Fifth Avenue, there were several other interesting buildings tucked in between the new construction taking place all over this part of the neighborhood. At 315 Fifth Avenue and East 32nd Street is another intriguing building not just for its beauty but for the shape of the design.
315 Fifth Avenue-The Rock Building
The building is known as “The Rock Building” and was built in 1907 for owner Mathias Rock, a local merchant and tailor who made a fortune in his trade and had this building built for his business. The architects for the building were Maynicke & Franke and the building was a hybrid of French Classical and Beaux Arts trim with cast iron show windows and heavy decoration are the room and around the top windows (Daytonian). The beauty of this building is that it is tall and narrow and the way it fits into its space on Fifth Avenue.
I noticed the beauty of 303 Fifth Avenue on the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 31st Street. This interesting building was designed by architect Buchman & Fox in the Beaux Arts style and was built in 1909. Known as the ‘Jewelry Building’, it has been home to many prominent retailers in the past such as FAO Schwarz and now serves as office and retail space (MetroManhattan).
303 Fifth Avenue-The Jewelry Building
On the border of Koreatown/Midtown South with NoMad/Rose Hill is the The Wilbraham Building at 284 Fifth Avenue. Its old charm beauty really stands out. Most of the buildings on 30th Street were non-descriptive. The Wilbraham Building, a beautiful Victorian building built between 1888-90 that was commissioned by jeweler William Moir. The building was designed by architect D. & J. Jardine in the Romanesque Revival style. The building has been home to Shalom Brothers Rugs for many years (StreetEasy.com).
284 Fifth Avenue at East 30th Street-The Wilbraham
As I made my way back up Fifth Avenue and studying the history of the area, I never realized how this part of Fifth Avenue once mirrored the same shopping district twenty five blocks up the avenue. Since the 1990’s, most of these companies have since gone out of business but remembered by us who used to shop there in the 1970’s and 80’s.
Reaching the border of Koreatown/Midtown East/Murray Hill is the former B. Altman Department Store that closed in 1989 and in the other corner is the Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the world.
The B. Altman Building at 361 Fifth Avenue was built by Benjamin Altman for the new location for his ‘carriage trade’ store. The store was designed by architects Trowbridge & Livingston in the “Italian Renaissance Style” in 1906. The palatial store was home to couture clothing, fine furniture and expensive art work.
The former B. Altman Department Store at 361 Fifth Avenue
Still the most amazing building in the neighborhood is the Empire State Building on the corner of Fifth Avenue between West 33rd and 34th Streets. It’s the most impressive and well known building in the neighborhood is the former tallest building in the world at 102 floors, the Empire State Building at 2-20 West 34th Street.
The Empire State Building is probably the most famous building in New York City outside of maybe Rockefeller Center and one of the most prominent. The building sits on the side of the former Astor Mansion and the first Waldorf-Astoria Hotel before the current one was built in the 1930’s on Park Avenue. The building was designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon in 1930 (Wiki).
The Empire State Building was inspired during the “Race to the Sky” movement in New York City during the 1920’s prosperity with builders vying for the “World’s Tallest Building” title. This was going on in cities all over the US at a time of great innovation in building. The building was conceived in 1929 long before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 as 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building were being constructed (Wiki).
As the shopping district left Sixth Avenue below 23rd Street, the former “Ladies Shopping Mile” (read my Victorian Christmas Blog on the shopping district) gave way to stores opening between 34th Street to 42nd Street and eventually to the Fifth Avenue locations between 50th and 60th Streets where what is left of the great stores stand today.
My blog on the Ladies Shopping Mile and a “Victorian Christmas”:
Across the street from the old B. Altman’s building is another impressive building also under scaffolding 10 East 34th Street, The Ditson Building. The impressive building with it intricate details was built in 1906 and designed by architects Townsend, Steinle & Haskell in the Beaux-Arts style for Charles H. Ditson. Mr. Ditson ran the New York division of his family’s company, Charles H. Ditson & Company, a publisher and musical concern (Daytonian).
10 East 34th Street-The Ditson Building
Madison Avenue below East 34th Street changes from its more ’boutique’ image from above East 42nd Street. Like the rest of the neighborhood, this area is ‘in transition’ during the pandemic. I have never seen so much renovation and building going on in one neighborhood. Still you have your ‘architectural gems’ tucked here and there in the neighborhood.
On of the most beautiful and innovative at the time it was built is 181 Madison Avenue on the corner of Madison Avenue and East 34th Street, the Madison Belmont Building.
I walked past the grill work of this interesting office building. The Madison Belmont Building at 181 Madison Avenue was built in 1924 and designed by architects Warren & Wetmore in the Renaissance style with Art Deco details for the Cheney Brothers Silk Company (Wiki/NewYorkArchitecture).
“The Madison Belmont Building” at 181 Madison Avenue
Look up at the interesting grill work and details of the building
Further down Madison Avenue hidden under all the scaffolding is the American Academy of Dramatic Arts Building, the former “Colony Club” at Madison Avenue at 120 Madison Avenue. This very ‘Colonial’ building was built in 1907 and designed by architect Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White.
The club had been founded in 1903 by Florence Jaffray Harriman creating a club that would rival private Men’s clubs at that time (Wiki/Daytonian). In 1917 the club relocated to its new home on Park Avenue and in 1963 was bought for the home of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. It is currently going under an extensive renovation (Wiki/Daytonian).
120 Madison Avenue-The American Academy of Dramatic Arts Building/The Colony Club
Up and down the rest of this part of Madison Avenue is filled with a hodgepodge of new and old architecture as this part of the neighborhood is transforming to newer buildings.
I made my way around to Park Avenue and here like Madison Avenue is made up of many newer buildings and a lot of recent building has been going on. One building did stand out which itself is going through a renovation is 4 Park Avenue. This stately building was once the Vanderbilt Hotel.
4 Park Avenue-The former Vanderbilt Hotel
The hotel was built in 1912 by Albert Gwynne Vanderbilt and designed by architects Warren & Westmore who had designed Grand Central Terminal for the Vanderbilt family. Mr. Vanderbilt had wanted a luxury hotel built near the terminal and it is located six blocks away. The hotel was designed in the British Adams style with clean lines and a brick face. It remained a hotel until after the 1964 World’s Fair and then was sold and converted into a office building (Daytonian).
Most of the neighborhood was relatively newer buildings either soaring corporate headquarter types or apartment buildings in an ever growing residential neighborhood. It was in front of 475 Park Avenue that I saw a piece of art that just stood out. The piece was “Triad” by artist Irving Marantz. The statue was inspired by Picasso’s “The Three Musicians” (ArtNet).
“Triad” by artist Irving Marantz
Mr. Marantz studied at the Art Student League and graduated from the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art. He served at the Director of the Princetown Art Association and Museum and taught at the Brooklyn Museum Art School (ArtNet/American Art).
The afternoon grew cooler and I finished my walk of the Avenues of Koreatown/Midtown South with lunch with a little hole in the wall dumpling restaurant in the Garment District. Stick to my Pot Potstickers is at 224 West 35th Street. The food is so good here and made nicer by the fact that you can eat inside. I would never thought that eating inside would be such a big deal but in the era of COVID it has become so.
I love the restaurant’s logo
The dumplings here are so good! They are freshly made on premises and are loaded with freshly ground pork, chives and spices and are pan-fried perfectly ($3.99). Crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Dipped in their spicy soy sauce were perfect on a cool afternoon. Their scallion pancakes were delicious as well ($2.99). Just eating at the bar and relaxing after a long walk meant so much. I forgot how much fun it was to eat INSIDE a restaurant again.
The dumplings here are excellent
Exploring the neighborhood was interesting and good exercise. Its a nice way to spend the afternoon.
My time walking around the neighborhood of Koreatown/Midtown South/NoNaNe:
Walking the Borders of the Koreatown/Midtown South/NoNaNe:
I came across Stick to my Pot Potstickers, a little hole in the wall in the Garment District, when I found it on my Mileage Plus Dining club. I must have passed it hundreds of times without noticing it but in the last week I have come twice. I have been very impressed by the quality of the food and the service.
The restaurant logo is so pleasant
What is also nice is the prices are very reasonable and the portion sizes are very fair. It is nice to be able to eat inside again since they lifted the dining rules in New York City. The restaurant has a long bar instead of tables and they keep all the customers socially distanced…