Category Archives: Exploring Flatiron District

Food Gallery 32

Day One Hundred and Ninety-Two Walking the Streets of Koreatown/Midtown South/ NoNaNe February 28-March 4th 2021

I have experienced many cold but sunny days when I finished walking the Streets of Koreatown/Midtown South/NoNaNe. I have never seen so many named neighborhoods overlap one another in Manhattan. The one major thing I did observe is how the whole neighborhood is going through a rebirth and either being gutted, sandblasted or rebuilt. For a City in the throngs of COVID, I have never seen such building activity. The City continues to roll ahead without the business people and will look different when they return.

I returned to the neighborhood a few days after exploring the borders of the neighborhood on a sunny afternoon. On a cool Sunday Koreatown was in full swing a big difference from the downtown streets of Chinatown which seems to have been forgotten by office workers and tourists. It is the proximity to the southern part of Midtown, the shopping district of 34th Street, the location near Penn Station and location next to Macy’s Herald Square that keeps this area of the City vibrant. Plus a lot of Koreans who live and work near the neighborhood keep the restaurants and shops filled at all time of the day.

My day started with organizing notes in Greeley Square and using one of the few decent public bathrooms in the area where you do not have to eat anything (the other being the lower level Men’s Store at Macy’s). Still I want to let readers know that it closes by 4:30pm. Even in Greeley Square in the cold afternoons that I was there every seat was taken and as the restaurants have started to open indoor dining not every restaurant was doing it so people had to take their lunches outside in 43 degree weather.

I started my walk of the Streets of Koreatown at West 31st Street having walked the borders of West 30th Street so many times that I could start naming the buildings. Being on the cusp of Midtown South, the area transitions from the old Beaux Arts style buildings to the newer Art Deco styles that started to come in the 1930’s. This is as businesses started to move uptown.

As I rounded Sixth Avenue onto West 31st on my way to Lexington Avenue, I passed the beauty of 1234 Broadway again. This amazing Victorian building is currently being renovated back to its original glory.

1234 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and West 31st Street, a elegant Victorian building with a standout mansard roof and elaborate details on the roof and windows. I did not realize that it was the Grand Hotel built in 1868 as a residential hotel. The hotel was commissioned by Elias Higgins, a carpet manufacturer and designed by Henry Engelbert. Currently it is being renovated into apartments (Daytonian). It shows how the City keeps morphing over time as this area has become fashionable again.

1234 Broadway

1234 Broadway in all its elegance, the former Grand Hotel

Walking west to east down 31st Street revealed a treasure trove on interesting buildings and hotels with graceful architecture and richly embellished features. The first building I passed was 38 West 31st Street which I discovered is the back part of the same building. I had read some horrible reviews on TripAdvisor that this was an operating hotel. The reviews were scary to say the least.

38 West 31st Street

38 West 31st Street, the side of former Grand Hotel

Another old hotel with interesting design was at 19 West 31st Street The Luxe Life Hotel New York. This elegant building was originally the Life Magazine Building and was designed by architects Carrere & Hastings in the Beaux Arts style and built in 1895 for the magazine’s offices. The gilded design of the cherub “Winged Life” above the doorway was the symbol of the magazine. The magazine left the building during the Great Depression and was left as a residence hotel. It was renovated in 1988 as the Herald Square Hotel and now serves as the Luxe Life Hotel (Daytonian).

19 West 31st Street

19 West 31st Street-The Luxe Life Hotel New York

https://www.luxehotels.com/hotels/life-new-york

Another hotel stands out down the block with the beautiful and graceful Hotel Wolcott at 4 West 31st Street. This elegant hotel was built in 1904 by architect John H. Duncan in the French Beaux Arts and French Neo-Classical styles and was named after businessman Henry Roger Wolcott. In the beginning of its illustrious history famous guest lived here such a dancer Isadore Duncan and socialite Doris Duke. It also has a reputation of being haunted. Since 2020, it has been turned into a transitory hotel (Wiki).

Hotel Wolcott

The Hotel Wolcott at 4 West 31st Street

https://www.wolcott.com/

Reaching 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 Fi

303 Fifth Avenue-The Jewelry Building

Another impressive hotel is the Hotel Chandler at 12 East 31st Street. The hotel was built in 1905 by architects Buchman & Fox as the Hotel Le Marquis. The hotel was designed in the Beaux Arts style and served as a high end hotel going through major renovation in 2012. It now serves as a homeless shelter for City families during the pandemic (Hospitality History).

Chandler Hotel

12 East 31st Street-The Chandler Hotel

http://www.hotelchandler.com/

As I walked back towards the border of the neighborhood with Kips Bay at Lexington Avenue, I passed Hotel 31 at 120 East 31st Street. This recently renovated hotel was built in 1902 and was designed in the Beaux Arts style it had opened as The Dunsbro, a resident hotel. The hotel has had an interesting history until its renovation in 2007 to the Hotel 31 (Daytonian). The hotel is an interesting addition to the block of small brownstones on this tree lined block.

Hotel 31

120 East 31st Street-The Hotel 31

Hotel 31

At the end of the block as you head towards Lexington Avenue that shares the border with Kips Bay are all the old brownstones that line this part of East 31st Street. It is a reminder that it is still a residential neighborhood.

As you back down East 31st Street to Greeley Square, you pass two more impressive buildings. At 35 East 31st Street is a beautiful apartment building that was built in 1914. It looked more like it was once an office building but has been sandblasted back to life as a luxury apartment building. Look at the interesting details of this Neo-Classical Beaux Arts building.

31 East 31st Street

The final building that impressed me in their treasure trove of architectural styles was 35 East 31st Street. Built in 1904, this intricate building now houses renovated apartments.

I needed a break after walking back and forth to Kips Bay again and I stopped by my new favorite restaurant in the neighborhood Fresh Pizza and Deli at 826 Sixth Avenue and ordered an vegetable Samosa (see my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).

Fresh Pizza & Deli

Fresh Pizza and Deli at 826 Sixth Avenue

For a dollar, it made an amazing snack that packed with flavors of the well spiced ingredients. I took my snack and relaxed in Greeley Square watching the people snake in and out of the park, heading for the Korean restaurants that line West 32nd Street. It was nice to just relax and soak up the sunshine.

The Samosas here are really good

I headed down West 32nd Street next following the crowds into the heart of Koreatown. As I walked out of Greeley Square I saw to the left the scaffolding of the old Martinique Hotel. It brought back a floor of memories and not such good ones of the days when this was a welfare hotel and was nothing but problems for the neighborhood. I remember one evening when I was working in Training Squad at Macy’s that there was a line of fire trucks in front of the hotel with people screaming out the windows at them and then all the crime at the store that was talked about. Now it sits idle awaiting it current renovation to be finished.

The former Martinique Hotel is at 49 West 32nd Street (1260-1266 Broadway). This was also built by William R. H. Martin in 1898 with the design by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in the French Renaissance style. The hotel had a notorious reputation in the 1970’s and 80’s as a welfare hotel that closed in 1988. It is now a Curio Hotel of Hilton Hotels (Wiki).

1260 Broadway

1260 Broadway-49 West 32nd Street-The Martinique Hotel

https://www.themartinique.com/

Next to The Martinique Hotel is the Stanford Hotel with its Beaux Arts design and intricate details. The hotel was built in 1896 by architect Ralph S. Townsend and opened as the Hotel Pierrepont. In 1986, the whole received a gut renovation and opened as the Hotel Stanford (Wiki).

43 West 32nd Street-Hotel Stanford

https://www.hotelstanford.com/

Once you pass the hotels, you are in the heart of Koreatown with all its interesting restaurants and shops. One of my favorite places to go for a snack is the Food Gallery 32 at 11 West 32nd Street.

Food Gallery 32

Food Gallery 32 at 11 West 32nd Street

https://foodgallery32nyc.com/

Ever since the City reopened indoor dining and the weather has gotten nicer, this food court has been very busy. It is so much fun to walk around and see the sites and smells of all the food vendors. You could spend about two hours just watching everyone cook and then observe what people are ordering making it harder to choose.

Many of the booths offer Korean dishes and barbeque but there is also please to buy simple but amusing looking desserts in the shape of fish and the vendor by the front door offers churro desserts and ice cream in whimsical shapes and colors. They are desserts for the senses. I am slowly eating my way through the food court.

My first visit to the Food Gallery, I made an exploration trip just to see what was available and took some mental notes and then on the second trip I knew where my first stop would be and I chose MaMa K-food, a stall that sells buns, croissants, Matcha Taiyaki a type of fish shaped waffle that is filled with either red bean paste, custard, cream cheese or Nutella chocolate and Delimanjoo which is a smaller version of the fish shaped treat in original or chocolate filled. I chose the Matcha Taiyaki filled with custard ($6.50-see review on TripAdvisor).The waffle was good but it was not as creamy as I thought it would be. Still it warmed me up on a cool afternoon.

MaMa

MaMa K Food at Food Gallery 32

My third trip to the food court I visited Sweet Churro for their specialty the Churro Dog ($6.50-see review on TripAdvisor). I have never had something so simple and so mind blowingly good. The stall takes a hot dog, cooks it and then wraps it in sweet churro batter and then deep fries it. When it comes out, the churro is crisp and golden brown and the hot dog crackles. Then they dip the churro in cinnamon sugar and tops it with a honey mustard glaze. I took it into Greeley Square to eat and I swear that people were observing me have a good time untangling it and happily chomping it down. It is a great combination of sweet and savory flavors.

Sweet Churros

Sweet Churros is located to the left as you walk into the Food Gallery 32

The Sweet Churro dog

Don’t miss the Sweet Churro Dog with its sweet and savory flavors

After eating my lunch that warmed me up, I continued walking down West 32nd Street past all the busy restaurants and people happily eating both outside and inside on this cool day. As I made my way to Fifth Avenue that splits the neighborhood from west to east, I passed the elegant 315 Fifth Avenue.

The Rock Building

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.

Sitting at the end of the block between East 32st and East 33nd is the Design Building on Lexington Avenue at 200 Lexington Avenue on the border with Kips Bay. You have to walk the width of this building to appreciate its beauty.

The New York Design Center Building at 200 Lexington Avenue stands out for its detailed beauty and its embellishments that accent the outside of the building. It was built in 1926 and designed by architect Ely Jacques Khan as the New York Furniture Exchange. The building was to cater to furniture and department store buyers. It now caters to the full interior design experience with furniture, lighting and textiles.

200 Lexington Avenue

200 Lexington Avenue-The New York Design Center

What I love about this building is the beautiful merchandise you can see in its windows and the displays of furniture. The upper part of this neighborhood has a lot of design and home furnishings stores on the side streets.

On the way back down the block I passed the the HG Hotel at 34 East 32nd Street, one of the Small Luxury Hotels in the World. The hotel was built in 1920 as the St. Louis Hotel and was designed in the Beaux Arts style (HGU Hotel History and StreetEasy).

The HGU Hotel-34 East

34 East 32nd Street-The HG Hotel

https://www.hgunyc.com/

As I walked further down the street, I peeked over some of the scaffolding to see another interesting building being renovated at 29 East 32nd Street, The Grolier Club building. This was the second home of this private club now located at 87 East 60th Street. This building was the second home for the club and was built in 1890 and designed by architect Charles W Romeyn in the Romanesque Revival design. The club left this building in 1917 for its new home uptown (Wiki and Daytonian).

29 East 32nd Street

29 East 32nd Street-The old Grolier Club buildings

Two other hotel buildings stood out on the walk back down to the west side of 32nd Street. The first one being at 15 West 32nd Street, The Hotel at Fifth Avenue. This was the former Aberdeen Hotel. This beautiful hotel was designed by architect Harry B. Mulliken in the Beaux Arts style with immense detail and opened in 1904 as an ‘apartment hotel’ (Daytonian).

15 West 32nd Street-The Hotel at Fifth Avenue

https://www.hotelatfifthavenuenyc.com/

Crossing the street, I took a detour back to Keki Modern Cakes at 315 Fifth Avenue, a small Korean bakery that sells cream puffs and fluffy cheese cakes. I had to try one of their Milk flavored cream puffs.

The Ube Cream Puff at Keki Modern Cakes is amazing

At $4.00, these were a little pricey but the quality is excellent. The outside is crisp and sweet and the inside is a silky creamy filling. I was so impressed that I came back at second time to try the Ube version of the cream puff and was told that it is a type of sweet potato. This version had a sweet purple cream inside.

Keki Modern Cakes

Keki Modern Cakes at 315 Fifth Avenue

Having a little sugar inside me gave me that extra boost of energy and turned the corner to walk down West 33rd Street. Here’s where the architecture starts to change from the beautiful Beaux Arts buildings of the lower 30’s to the more Art Deco style and contemporary designs of the progress of the neighborhood.

There were still the holdouts with the Herald Towers, the old Hotel McAlpin, 1282-1300 Broadway once the largest hotel in the world. The hotel was built in 1912 by architect Frank Mills Andrews for hotelier General Edwin A. Alpin. The hotel had the most modern touches of its era and remained a hotel until it was converted into apartments in the 1980’s (Wiki).

McAlpin Hotel

1282-1300 Broadway-The Herald Towers/McAlpin Hotel

Across the street is 1270 Broadway

1270 Broadway

1270 Broadway, known once as the Wilson Building, was built between 1912 and 1913 in the class Beaux Arts style. It now serves as an office building. You have to look up from the square to admire its beauty.

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 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).

Empire State Building

The Empire State building at 20 West 34th Street

https://www.esbnyc.com/

The building is known just by its appearance and is probably best known for the movie “King Kong” back in the 1930’s and most recently “Sleepless in Seattle” in the 1990’s. The movies don’t do the building justice from its sky decks with views of Manhattan and beautiful Art Deco details on the elevators and in the lobby. The 102 story building is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Modern World’ and was the tallest building in the world until the World Trade Center opened in 1970 (Wiki). It is now the second tallest building in New York City.

The famous clip of the original “King Kong”

The security has gotten tighter around the building lately so you have to move quickly if you are going to take pictures. The Skydeck and the Museum at the Empire State Building just reopened and is opened with timed tickets.

I ended back at Lexington Avenue on the other side of the Design Building and then turned around as it started to get dark that evening. This is where the neighborhood starts to modernize with newer buildings along Park and Madison Avenue and the parts in between East 33rd Street.

I got back to Greeley Square as the sun started to go down. On my first night in the neighborhood before indoor dining opened, I stopped at BBQ Chicken Ktown at 25 West 32nd Street for dinner.

BBQ Chicken Ktown

BBQ Chicken Ktown at 25 West 32nd Street

They have a nice assortment of to go dinners and I grabbed a box of their Honey Garlic Glazed Chicken ($6.50). It was delicious and on a cold night was the perfect dinner. The only problem was I had to eat it on stone barrier in Greeley Square and it must have been 32 degrees and windy that night. Still the sticky sweetness of the chicken pieces warmed me up as the wind whipped by.

Honey Garlic Glazed Chicken

The Honey Garlic Glazed Chicken is delicious

On another trip to finish the neighborhood, I stopped at Teso Life at 1265 Broadway just off Greeley Square. This small but unique Japanese department store carries all sorts of cosmetic and care products on the first and second floor. On the second floor, it has a snack and small grocery department where they have the best assortment of unusual bagged snacks. I grabbed two bags of snacks, Wagaya Corn Hot & Salty puffs ($1.39) and Sanko Karikari Twist Cheese Swirls ($1.99). They were salty and savory and I devoured both bags in record time. I love it when you find such unique places to shop.

Teso Life Department Store

The Snack department at Teso Life Department store

When visiting Koreatown/Midtown South it offers such a distinct amount of experiences. You are seeing the old mix with the new in this ever changing neighborhood. Koreatown has expanded its original borders from West 32nd and 33rd Streets from Sixth to Fifth Avenues to almost Park Avenue with some new restaurants bordering Lexington Avenue.

NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) is expanding as well to what was once called Herald Square and Greeley Square with the ongoing renovation of the older buildings for newer businesses. The neighborhood is coming full circle again as the center for the Tech and Media industries and the expansion of the City’s colleges.

The old is becoming new again!

Read my other blogs on Exploring Koreatown/Midtown South/NoNaNe:

The Borders of the Neighborhood:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16912

The Avenues of the Neighborhood:

Places to visit:

Greeley Square

Between 33rd and 32nd Streets/Broadway to Sixth Avenue

New York , NY 10001

(212) 639-9675

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

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/greeley-square-park/history

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d3529407-Reviews-Greeley_Square_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

The Empire State Building/Skydeck and Museum

20 West 34th Street

New York, NY 10001

(212) 736-3100

https://www.esbnyc.com/

https://www.esbnyc.com/buy-tickets

Open: Sunday-Saturday 1:00pm-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d104365-Reviews-Empire_State_Building-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Teso Life Department Store

1265 Broadway

New York, NY 10001

https://www.tesolife.com/en/local-stores

(917)409-0462

Open: Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

Places to Eat:

Fresh Pizza & Deli

876 Sixth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 779-7498

https://99centsfreshpizzaanddelinewyork.mybistro.online/

Open: Sunday-Friday 6:00am-12:00am/Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d23125364-Reviews-Fresh_Pizza_And_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/2000

Food Gallery 32

11 West 32nd Street

New York, NY 10001

(718) 210-6577

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm

https://foodgallery32nyc.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d2306797-r783758087-Food_Gallery_32-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Sweet Churro

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d15173948-r784500382-Sweet_Churros-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

MaMa K Food

My review on TripAdvisor:

Keki Modern Cakes

315 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10016

(212) 889-0251

https://www.kekimoderncakes.com/locations

Open: Sunday-Thursday 12:00pm-7:00pm/Friday and Saturday 12:00pm-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d14208455-Reviews-Keki_Modern_Cakes-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

BBQ Chicken KTown

25 West 32nd Street

New York, NY 10001

https://bbqktownnyc.com/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d14990480-r782553557-BB_Q-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

1270 Broadway

Day One Hundred and Ninety One: Walking the Borders of Koreatown and Midtown South/NoNaNe from West/East 34th to West/East 30th Streets from Sixth to Lexington Avenues February 8th-21st, 2012

I finally finished walking the NoMAD neighborhood the other day and it is getting confusing keeping up with all these neighborhood names. The Flatiron District, NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park), Kips Bay and Rose Hill (which crosses boundaries with Kips Bay at Lexington Avenue) all claim the same small section of neighborhood. It makes it confusing to know what neighborhood association to join.

I then discovered a nine block section of Midtown South that has no name to it. It is squeezed between Kips Bay and Koreatown from Fifth Avenue to Lexington Avenue from East 34th to East 30th Street. Technically it can be considered part of Koreatown since it has stretched from it’s traditional borders but the maps say differently.

In my research of the neighborhood maps of Manhattan, I discovered that this section of the island has no name to the neighborhood because it is not part of Kips Bay or Koreatown and saying Midtown South for this nine block region does not sound glamorous enough.  So in the tradition of the realtors in Manhattan, I named it NoNaNe, No Name Neighborhood. I wonder if it will catch on?

This is a nine block section of Midtown South that borders Lexington Avenue to the East, Fifth Avenue to the West and from East 34th to 30th Streets. It lies next to Koreatown, which itself has grown from its traditional borders of 33rd to 31st Streets from Sixth Avenue to Fifth Avenue.  Koreatown now stretches to East 35th Street  to the north and to Park Avenue to the east. The restaurants and stores are pushing out even further from the core of the original neighborhood.

So after a wonderful afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art visiting the new “Goya” exhibition, I took the subway to Midtown at 34th Street just outside Macy’s Herald Square to start my walk. It got dark early the first day so I did not get the time in I thought I would.

Goya Exhibition at the Met

The Goya Exhibition at the Met

The YouTube video on the Exhibition

The weather has also gotten so cold. From the mild December and January weeks that we had it has lead to one of the coldest February’s since the great Arctic Vortex that we had two years ago. I am still thawing out from the Marcal Factory fire of 2019 (see my blog from My Life as a Fireman on this blog).

My blog on the Marcal fire:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14887

It seems that the Vortex is back again and it will be just as cold. It is predicted to be 0 in New Orleans which must be some sort of record. Trust me it got cold when the sun went down around 5:15pm.

I started my walk this afternoon by looking at Macy’s window displays along Broadway to see if much had changed since Christmas. They never were the most exciting displays even when I was working there. Lord & Taylor and B. Altman’s had better windows. Long gone now. I am amazed at the change of the department store scene in New York City since I worked there in the 1990’s. I could see it from the corner of West 34th and Broadway.

I started my walk from the front door of Macy’s and walked down Sixth Avenue from West 34th  to West 30th Street. Things have changed so much in thirty years. The whole area has gotten so much better. It was so run down when I worked there. Also the retail scene was so much different. Where the H & M is now used to be Herald Center, an upscale mall that never did well and the concept closed two years later when I returned to work in the buying offices. The only thing that survived was the food court on the top floor.

Macy's

My starting point Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street

A Fascinating History Of Macy’s Department Store in Herald Square

Before 1965, this was home to Saks 34th Street before its move to its current Fifth Avenue location. The store was founded by Andrew Saks and opened its doors in Herald Square in 1902 just five weeks before Macy’s opened their doors. The store was designed by architects Buchman & Fox in the Classical style. The store was bought by the Gimbel family in 1923 and that is when it was moved to its current location at 511 Fifth Avenue. The original store is now covered with new siding to give it its modern look for H & M (NYC Circa). The building stretches from West 34th to West 33rd Street along the Broadway corridor.

Saks 34th

The Saks 34th Street Building on the corner of West 34th Street and Broadway

https://en.wikipedia-on-ipfs.org/wiki/Saks-34th_Street.html

Next door to that was the old Gimbel’s Department Store building that closed in 1986, a year and a half before I started at Macy’s. Gimbel’s had always been considered our rival for years but I think because of the sheer size of Macy’s I have a feeling that we beat them in sales. Gimbel’s had come to New York City by way of Philadelphia by the Gimbel’s family. It was founded by Adam Gimbel in 1887. The store in Herald Square opened in 1910 in the classical style by architect Daniel Burnham (Wiki). The store stretches from West 33rd to West 32nd Streets along Broadway.

Gimbels Department Store

Gimbel’s Department Store at Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street

https://ghosts-of-retailers-past.fandom.com/wiki/Gimbels

When the store closed in 1986,  it was renovated and was called A & S Plaza when that store moved into the space. When A & S closed in the mid 1990’s when it merged with Macy’s, the store was renovated again and now is called Manhattan Mall. It is mostly office space now (Wiki).

In the middle of this former shopping district and just south of Herald Square is Greeley Square named after Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune. The square was acquired by New York City in 1846 and turned into the park. The statue that dominates the southern end of the park was designed by sculptor Alexander Doyle in 1890 (NYCParks.org).

Greeley Square was named after Horace Greeley, who published the first issue of The New Yorker magazine and established the New York Tribune. He was also a member of the Liberal Republican Party where he was a Congressman and ran for President of the United States after the Civil War.

Horace Greeley

Publisher and Politician Horace Greeley famous for his quote “Go West, young man, Go West”

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Horace-Greeley

Horace Greeley Statue

The Horace Greeley statue is located in the park just south of Herald Square in Greeley Square.

The statue was created by artist Alexander Doyle. Alexander Doyle was an American born artist who studied in Italy with several artists. He is best known for his marbles and bronze sculptures of famous Americans including many famous Confederate figures that have come under fire recently.

http://www.askart.com/artist/Alexander_Doyle/61138/Alexander_Doyle.aspx

Once you leave Greeley Square and walk south you will be entering what is left of the old Wholesale district where once buyers used to come into these stores to commercially buy goods for their businesses. Slowly all of these businesses as well as most of the Flower District is being gentrified out with new hotels, restaurants and bars replacing the businesses. It seems that most of the district is being rebuilt or renovated or gutted.

The Broadway side of the park opposite the old department stores starts some of the most beautiful architecture in South Midtown. This portion of Broadway until you reach the Battery has the most unique stonework and embellishments on the buildings that show the craftsmanship of another era when companies built headquarters that were meant to last.

One building that faces Greeley Square is 1270 Broadway at the corner of West 33rd Street.

1270 Broadway

1270 Broadway

1270 Broadway, known once as the Wilson Building, was built between 1912 and 1913 in the class Beaux Arts style. It now serves as an office building. You have to look up from the square to admire its beauty.

Next to the building is across the street at 1265 Broadway, the former Browning, King & Company building. The building was built in 1910 by developer William R.H. Martin for commercial use. The building was designed by architects Townsend, Steinle & Haskell in brick, stone and terra cotta. The interesting decorative top was designed for the Men’s retail company Browning, King & Company. You have to look up at the detail work and the eagle at the roof of the building (Daytonian).

1265 Broadway Browning, King & Co

1265 Broadway-The Browning, King & Company building

Another building that stands out and sadly boarded up at this time is the former Martinique Hotel at 49 West 32nd Street (1260-1266 Broadway). This was also built by William R. H. Martin in 1898 with the design by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in the French Renaissance style. The hotel had a notorious reputation in the 1970’s and 80’s as a welfare hotel that closed in 1988. It is now a Curio Hotel of Hilton Hotels (Wiki).

I remember this hotel well when I worked for Macy’s in the late 1980’s and all the people yelling and screaming outside the hotel with fire trucks all over the place. The hotel had been nothing but a problem for almost twenty years. It has since been bought by the Hilton Group and is now a historical luxury hotel.

1260 Broadway

1260 Broadway-49 West 32nd Street-The Martinique Hotel

https://www.themartinique.com/

A couple of buildings that stand out when walking down Broadway are 1234 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and West 31st Street, a elegant Victorian building with a standout mansard roof and elaborate details on the roof and windows. I did not realize that it was the Grand Hotel built in 1868 as a residential hotel. The hotel was commissioned by Elias Higgins, a carpet manufacturer and designed by Henry Engelbert. Currently it is being renovated into apartments (Daytonian). It shows how the City keeps morphing over time as this area has become fashionable again.

1234 Broadway

1234 Broadway in all its elegance, the former Grand Hotel

After rounding the southern part of Greeley Square, I headed back down Sixth Avenue to West 30th Street, the southern border of the neighborhood with the ever changing NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park). This southern section of South Midtown as I have mentioned in other blogs is being gutted, knocked down and rebuilt into a hip area of the City with trendy hotels, restaurants and stores. Even in the era of COVID, the streets were hopping and most of the hotels were still open. Broadway has even been closed off for outdoor dining.

In the middle of this new ‘hipness’ there is an old standby,  Fresh Pizza & Deli at 876 Sixth Avenue (see my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I had a craving for a late breakfast and they had a $4.95 special for a Bacon, Egg & Cheese sandwich on the sandwich board outside and I ordered it. You have to make a special trip to this little hole in the wall.

Fresh

Fresh Pizza & Deli at 867 Sixth Avenue

Not only is the their pizza really good but the Bacon, Egg & Cheese on a soft roll is outstanding. The way the flavors meshed in the sandwich and the perfect meal on a cool afternoon. After my snack and rounded the corner west down 30th Street. Here you are dodging construction sites and scaffolding in this ever-changing section of the neighborhood.

Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich

On a cold day there is nothing like a Bacon, Egg & Cheese on a roll from Fresh Pizza & Deli

Most of the buildings on 30th Street were non-descriptive until I reached the corner of West 30th Street and Fifth Avenue. At 284 Fifth Avenue is 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

Fifth Avenue at East 30th Street-The Wilbraham

Another beautiful building that faces East 30th Street but is located on Madison Avenue is 105 Madison Avenue a beautiful former office building that has been converted to  condo’s. The building was built in 1913 in the Gothic Revival style with a terra cotta facade.

105 Madison Avenue

105-117 Madison Avenue

When I reached the corner of East 30th Street and Lexington Avenue I reached the border of the neighborhood which it shares with Kips Bay and it was like visiting an old friend. I have walked this part of the City so many times I feel like I have moved in. I love walking down Lexington Avenue and visiting “Curry Hill” and all the Middle Eastern and Indian restaurants.

I took a little detour from the walk and headed down Lexington Avenue and enjoyed the sites and smells of the neighborhood. I stopped in at one store, Heritage India Fashions at 131 Lexington Avenue after looking over the display window. The window was filled with clothes with vibrant colors and glittering jewels and pictures of models in exotic places.

Heritage India Fashions

Heritage India Fashions at 131 Lexington Avenue

When you walk in the store is piled floor to ceiling with brilliant colors and interesting embellished clothing, shoes and accessories. There were also collections of jewelry and small gifts for the wedding season. The woman working there was very helpful and enthusiastic of explaining the clothes to me. It is worth the trip in.

I traveled back up Lexington Avenue and passed many places that stand out in the neighborhood. Turning the corner onto the bustling Lexington Avenue, you see that the border of the neighborhood is a bustling commercial district with a combination of office buildings and apartments and as you cross East 30th Street a restaurant district with an international flair to it. The avenue is also lined with interesting architecture where many buildings stand out. I walked up and down Lexington Avenue between East 30th Street until I turned the corner at East 34th Street.

The beautiful detail work carved into it is 160-164 Lexington Avenue and East 30th Street, The Dove Street Marketplace, which offers floor after floor of high end goods is just amazing.

160-164 Lexington Avenue

The detail work is amazing on 160-164 Lexington Avenue-The Dove Street Market

The building has the most beautiful detail work on all sides. It was built in 1909 as the New York School for Applied Design for Women. It was designed by one of the school’s instructors, architect Wiley Corbett, to resemble a Greek Temple (Forgotten New York).

160-164 Lexington Avenue

160-164 Lexington Avenue

https://www.doverstreetmarket.com/

Across the street from the Dover Street Market at 154 Lexington Avenue is the First Moravian Church. The building was started in 1849 and finished in 1852 at the Rose Hill Baptist Church designed in the Lombardian Romanesque style. In 1869, the church was sold to the First Moravian Church which had been located at Sixth Avenue and 34th Street (Daytonian in Manhattan).

First Moravian Church

The First Moravian Church at 154 Lexington Avenue was built in 1854

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-First-Moravian-Church/104703772929849

Tucked to the residential side of the avenue is 170 Lexington Avenue an Italianate brownstone building that stands out for it yellow exterior. The brownstone was part of three building complex built in the early 1850’s. The house was owned by George and Elizabeth Youle, a wealthy couple with two married daughters. The address was originally 158 Lexington Avenue and then changed to 170 Lexington Avenue in 1866. Sometime in the 1940’s the yellow clapboard veneer was added in a renovation of the building (Daytonian 2020).

170 Lexington Avenue

170 Lexington Avenue was built in the early 1850’s

The New York Design Center Building at 200 Lexington Avenue stands out for its detailed beauty and its embellishments that accent the outside of the building. It was built in 1926 and designed by architect Ely Jacques Khan as the New York Furniture Exchange. The building was to cater to furniture and department store buyers. It now caters to the full interior design experience with furniture, lighting and textiles.

200 Lexington Avenue

200 Lexington Avenue-The New York Design Center

As I rounded East 34th Street and Lexington Avenue, I saw more life on the streets than I had in a while. The area near the NY Langone Hospital is always busy and when you head back in the other direction back towards Herald Square it always has traffic and people.

On my way down East 34th Street, I passed many of the interesting buildings that share the border with Murray Hill, the neighborhood to the north that I had visited over the summer. I reached Madison Avenue and walked past the grill work of another 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.

Madison Belmont Building

“The Madison Belmont Building” at 181 Madison Avenue

Madison Belmont Building

Look up at the interesting grill work and details of the building

Reaching the border of Murray Hill to the south 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.

B. Altman & Co. II

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 B. ALt

The former B. Altman Department Store at 361 Fifth Avenue

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._Altman_and_Company

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”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/8117

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).

The Ditson Building

10 East 34th Street-The Ditson Building

Crossing Fifth Avenue, I continued to walk down West 34th Street once a major shopping district lined with shops and department stores. 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 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).

Empire State Building

The Empire State building at 20 West 34th Street

https://www.esbnyc.com/

The building is known just by its appearance and is probably best known for the movie “King Kong” back in the 1930’s and most recently “Sleepless in Seattle” in the 1990’s. The movies don’t do the building justice from its sky decks with views of Manhattan and beautiful Art Deco details on the elevators and in the lobby. The 102 story building is one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Modern World’ and was the tallest building in the world until the World Trade Center opened in 1970 (Wiki). It is now the second tallest building in New York City.

The famous Empire State Building scene from “King Kong” in 1933

The building is a major tourist site and it was so strange to see no one in line for the now open sky ride to the sky decks where you can see across the whole City. The lines are usually really long down West 34th Street but there were just a few people talking to the guards the days I passed. If you get a chance to walk around the lobby it really is beautiful but that was pre-COVID. You have to have preassigned tickets to get into the building.

As I continued down West 34th Street, I saw the old Ohrbach’s Department Store building at 7 West 34th Street. The store was still open when I started to work at Macy’s in 1988 but it closed about a year later to be followed by B. Altman & Company in 1990. That left Macy’s alone on West 34th Street until a branch of the A & S opened in the Gimbel’s building in the 1990’s (that would close when A & S merged with Macy’s in 1995).

7 West 34th Street

7 West 34th Street-McCreeyers/Ohrbach’s Department Store

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohrbach%27s

What I did not know was the building has an older past by its original owner James McCreeyer & Company, a luxury department store that had started in the 1860’s and had closed this location in 1953 due to changing styles and business. Ohrbach’s bought the store in 1954 and ran it as a moderate department store until it closed in 1988 (Wiki and Defunct Department Stores).

Another impressive building on the this former shopping street is 19 West 34th Street, The Martin Building. The building was built and finished in 1907 for the Revillon Freres, a leading manufacturer of furs and accessories. The building was designed in the Italian Renaissance style with Beaux Arts features. The company moved out of the building and further uptown in 1918 and leased the building out (Daytonian). The building now serves as offices on top and retail on the bottom.

17

17-19 West 34th Street-The Martin Building/Revillon Freres Building

Another standout building I saw was 31 West 34th Street the former Oppenhiem, Collins & Company Department Store building. The store was built in 1907 for the Oppenhiem, Collins & Company wholesalers when they decided to open a retail store in the location. The former department store was designed by architects Buchman & Fox in the Beaux Arts style. The store existed until 1963 when it was merged by the owner of the store with Franklin Simon & Company Department Store and the name disappeared. The store closed in 1977 (Daytonian).

31 West 34th Street

31 West 34th Street-The Oppenhiem, Collins & Company/Franklin Simon & Company building

The last building I noticed for its beauty was on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 34th Street, 47 West 34th Street (1378 Broadway or 2 Herald Square) the Marbridge Building. The Marbridge Building was by architects Townsend, Steinle & Haskell in 1909 in the Classical Beaux Arts style and has been used as an office building since its opening (Wiki/Photo/Street).

47 West 34th Street

47 West 34th Street-The Marbridge Building

It is funny that in all the years I had worked at Macy’s Herald Square, I either never noticed these buildings on all my walks along 34th Street or never gave them a lot of though. When you realize the rich architectural history of the neighborhood and the role it played in the retail history of New York it really amazed me how prominent a shopping area this once was between 1900-1960. This growth came about as the retail district moved further uptown from the Ladies Shopping Mile district on Sixth Avenue below West 21st Street.

I finished my walk of the borders of this neighborhood with a quick break by relaxing in Greeley Square again and using one of the few public bathrooms in the area (the other being Macy’s lower level Men’s Department) and just sat back and admired the Horace Greeley statue. I wondered how many people passed this statue and never gave it any thought. I wondered what he might of thought of the changes here in the last 100 years. The neighborhood is so rich in history of the development of the business sector in New York City.

I went to dinner that evening at my new favorite Dim Sum restaurant , AweSum Dim Sum at 160 East 23rd Street. I love the selection of items and everything is always so good there. The best part was that the Mayor finally opened the restaurants again for indoor dining on Chinese New Year/ Valentine’s Day weekend on February 12th and we dine inside finally. No more sitting outside in the cold.

Awesum Dim Sum

AweSum Dim Sum at 160 East 23rd Street

I ended my day over small plates of Soup Dumplings, which were hot and juicy and burst in my mouth, crisp Spring Rolls with a nice crunch in every bite and the Baked Pork Buns with their crisp sweet exterior and rich meaty interior. It was just nice to sit back in a warm environment and see people again.

Don’t miss the Baked Pork Buns here

After a nice meal in a warm restaurant, I walked back up Lexington Avenue to admire the lights coming on in the City and the sights and smells of “Curry Hill” as I walked up through Kips Bay back to Port Authority. This is when you really experience New York.

This is when the City comes to life.

Places to Visit:

Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10028

(212) 535-7710

https://www.metmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday-Monday 10:00am-5:00pm/Tuesday-Wednesday Closed/Thursday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d105125-Reviews-The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Macy’s Herald Square

151 West 34th Street

New York, NY 10001

(212) 695-4400

Open: Sunday-Thursday 11:00am-8:00pm/Friday-Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d208847-Reviews-Macy_s_Herald_Square-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Greeley Square

Between 33rd and 32nd Streets/Broadway to Sixth Avenue

New York , NY 10001

(212) 639-9675

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

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/greeley-square-park/history

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d3529407-Reviews-Greeley_Square_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Heritage India Fashions

131 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY 10016

(212) 481-0325

https://heritageindiafashions.com/

https://www.facebook.com/heritageindiafashions/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-7:30pm

Empire State Building

20 West 34th Street

New York, NY 10001

https://www.esbnyc.com/

(212) 736-3100

Open: Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d104365-Reviews-Empire_State_Building-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Eat:

AweSum Dim Sum

160 East 23rd Street

New York City, NY 10010

(646) 998-3313/3314

http://www.awesumdimsum.us/

Open: Sunday 9:30am-8:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-8:00pm/Friday 11:00am-9:00pm/Saturday 9:30am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d21335707-Reviews-Awesome_Dim_Sum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1898

Fresh Pizza & Deli

876 Sixth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 779-7498

https://99centsfreshpizzaanddelinewyork.mybistro.online/

Open: Sunday-Friday 6:00am-12:00am/Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d23125364-Reviews-Fresh_Pizza_And_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/2000

The Gilsey House Hotel

Day One Hundred and Ninety Walking the Streets and Avenues of NoMAD/Rose Hill/Flatiron District from West/East 30th to West/East 25th Street from Sixth Avenue to Madison Avenue January 16th-26th, 2021

I returned to the NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) neighborhood after the holidays were over on a rather cold and cloudy day. What a difference three weeks makes in the mood of New York City. What ever was left of that little Christmas cheer that was in Manhattan was over. The streets had gotten really quiet again. Not the same when I walked the neighborhood on Christmas Day but still the busiest place in the neighborhood was Madison Square Park. Those little kids really love that playground and the dog walkers are finding refuge in the Dog park. Madison Square Park has been a blessing in disguise for many people in this neighborhood.

I started my walk on West 30th Street and Broadway. I have walked this part of Broadway many times on my full length walk of Broadway from 242nd Street to the Bowling Green Park at the tip of the Island and recognized many of these buildings from previous walks. This part of Broadway is so impressive in architecture and played such an important park of the City’s development as a business district.

My ‘Walk down the Length of Broadway’ has been done four times:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14302

As the neighborhood as started to gentrify before my eyes (I have never seen so many buildings being gutted and sandblasted back to life), a new generation of upscale stores and restaurants are finding a home on Broadway between 30th to 26th Streets. Broadway right now is closed off for outdoor winter dining in the era of COVID. I could not believe the way people are bundling up to eat outside.

One of the most impressive buildings on the edge of the neighborhood that is currently under renovation is 1200 Broadway, former The Gilsey House Hotel.

The Gilsey House Hotel

1200 Broadway-The Gilsey House Hotel

This elegant Victorian confection was designed by architect Stephen Decatur Hatch with a cast iron facade in the Second Empire style. The hotel opened in 1872 as a luxury hotel catering to well-heeled guests when this was the main business district. I now is being renovated for residential use (Wiki).

One of the most beautiful buildings on Broadway is 1181 Broadway, The Baudouine Building, at the corner of Broadway and West 28th Street. The building was built for furniture maker Charles A. Baudouine with architect Alfred Zucker. The building was completed in 1896 (Daytonian).

1181 Broadway

1181 Broadway-The Baudouine Building

The ornate building has a unique feature on the top in the form of a small Greek temple on the roof that was once used for the Baudouine Realty business. There was a succession of businesses using the building over the years but it has now given way to apartments (Daytonian). You really have to walk around this building to admire its details done in terra cotta and limestone.

1181 Br

The Greek Temple roof at 1181 Broadway

Walking down Broadway, I passed 1133 Broadway, The St. James Building. It is another building that makes you stop and take notice of the detail work on the outside of the building. The St. James was built in 1896 by architect Bruce Price in the Beaux Arts style with a limestone exterior and noted for its arched windows (New Yorkitecture).

1133 St. James Building

1133 Broadway The St. James Building

The buildings in this section of Broadway became more commercial towards the turn of the Ninetieth Century in a ‘race to sky’ with the rise of early skyscrapers (Flatiron Partnership).

1133 Broadway-St. James Building

1133 Broadway-The St. James Building

One building that stands out in the neighborhood that sits right near Madison Square Park like another overgrown confection amongst the other buildings is 1132 Broadway (also known as 210 Fifth Avenue), the Cross Chambers Building, once home to the Marc Cross & Company leather goods store. This detailed building was designed by architect John B. Snook & Sons in the Beaux Arts style (Daytonian).

1132 Broadway

1132 Broadway-The Cross-Chambers Building (210 Fifth Avenue)

This marble clad building stands guard impressively amongst the surrounding buildings and you really have to look closely of the details in design to see its beauty. Walking closer to the park, another stand out building is 1128 Broadway (212 Fifth Avenue).

This impressive building is next door to 210 Fifth Avenue and faces Madison Square Park between West 25th and West 26th Streets. This former commercial building was converted to residences in 2016. The building was built in 1912 by architects Schwartz & Gross in the Neo-Gothic and Romanesque style. The building is amazing when it is lit at night (Flatiron Partnership).

212 Fifth Avenue

210 & 212 Fifth Avenue (1128 and 1132 Broadway) across from Madison Square Park

Making my way through the park, I relaxed by the playground again and could not believe how busy it was for a late afternoon. I was wondering if these kids were in school or had virtual classes and were taking a break. If the parents were cooped up in the apartments surrounding the park with their kids, maybe it was them that needed the break and the fresh air. Either way, the kids were having a ball and climbing all over the place while the parents talked amongst themselves happy to see other adults.

Madison Square Park in the summer months

From the park, I started my trip up Fifth Avenue from 25th to 30th Street. Fifth Avenue is the dividing line between the West Side and the East Side of Manhattan and has been almost the cultural divide between these two sections of Manhattan over the years.

For years when I was working in Manhattan in the Rug industry, this had been the Handmade Rug District and the Textiles District for the Garment Industry. Slowly this is giving way to more residential and commercial use for other industries such as the growing Tech, Advertising and Multi-Media industries that have been growing since 1998. It has been because of the fiber optic cables that line Eighth and Ninth Avenues along with beauty of all these classic buildings. More and more people want the charm of these Beaux-Arts style buildings that just a decade ago were considered obsolete and were being knocked down.

I finished my afternoon by having dinner at AweSum Dim Sum at 160 East 23rd Street. Since dining inside was still closed in the City, I had to brave eating my dinner at one of the outdoor tables in the 40 degree evening with no pool heaters in site. I could not believe the other five tables were filled as well. It shows the popularity that this restaurant has gotten in the four months I have been visiting this neighborhood.

I explored the Dim Sum menu and settled on an order of Fried Rice Dumplings, an order of Spring Rolls and for dessert an order of Baked Cream Buns. Everything was nicely wrapped in small containers and boxes and I ate the furthest table by East 23rd Street. Talk about a view at twilight. All the lights were coming on and surprising the traffic around the restaurant was busy.

AweSum Dim Sum

AweSum Dim Sum at 160 East 23rd Street

The food here is excellent and reasonable. The Cream Buns especially were crisp on the outside due to the rice dough and sweet on the inside. Everything on the menu here is terrific.

The Cream Buns here are amazing

Fifth Avenue has so many charming buildings as well. Walking up Fifth Avenue from Madison Square Park I passed one of the most impressive buildings at 225 Fifth Avenue, the former Brunswick Hotel and called The Grand Madison. It presides over the northern part of Madison Square Park.

This impressive building also once the New York Gift Building was designed by architects Francis H. Kimball and Harry E. Donnell in the Renaissance Revival style in 1906. The outside of the impressive building is built with multi-color brick and limestone (StreetEasy).

225 Fifth Avenue-The Grand Madison

225 Fifth Avenue-The Grand Madison/The former Brunswick Hotel

As I headed up Fifth Avenue, one neighborhood museum you should not miss is the Museum of Sex at 233 Fifth Avenue. Talk about an interesting museum dedicated tastefully to the art and history of sex.

Museum of Sex

Museum of Sex at 233 Fifth Avenue

I had visited the museum in the Pre-COVID days (that seems like a lifetime ago) and visited the exhibitions on the “History of Pornography” in film and “Punk Lust: Raw Provocation 1971-1985”, an exhibition on the ‘Punk Music Scene’ during the height of the ‘sexual revolution’. There is some very interesting art in this museum as well as they were building ‘Funland’ while I was visiting so I have to go back and see the exhibition. Don’t miss their interesting gift shop.

Museum of Sex

‘Punk Lust’ exhibition at the Museum of Sex

As I continued the walk up Fifth Avenue, I passed another architectural gem at 242 Fifth Avenue, The Bow Building. This unique building was finished in 1885 and was converted to apartments in 2016 (CityRealty.com).

The building was the former home of John C. Ely, a real estate owner and was originally built in 1883 as a private brownstone home. In 1885, architect George Harding converted it from residential to a commercial building with the addition of the large bay windows and a cast iron front (Daytonian).

242 Fifth Avenue

242 Fifth Avenue-The Bow Building

Just further up Fifth Avenue near East 28th Street is 256 Fifth Avenue which also has the most interesting facade. The building was built by furniture maker Charles A . Baudouine when he started to buy real estate. The building was designed by architects Alfred Zucker (who also designed 1188 Broadway for the same owner) and John H. Edelman and was completed in 1893. The building is designed in the Moorish Revival style and was designed for retail use that started to fill the area at the later half of the 1800’s (Daytonian).

256 Fifth Avenue

256 Fifth Avenue

At the tip of the neighborhood between East 29th and 30th Streets is the Marble Collegiate Church at 272 Fifth Avenue and 1 West 29th Street. The Marble Collegiate Church is one of the oldest churches in New York City being part of the Reformed Dutch Church. It was founded in 1628.

Coll

The Collegiate Marble Church at 272 Fifth Avenue at 1 West 29th Street

https://www.marblechurch.org/

The church building was built between 1851 and 1854. It was designed by architect Samuel A. Warner in the Romanesque Revival style with Gothic Trim and is made of Tuckahoe marble (Wiki).

For dinner that evening, I made a detour back through Kips Bay to try Kips Bay Deli at 545 Second Avenue again for dinner. Indoor dining was still not available in Manhattan so I ordered a sandwich and took it with me to the little plaza across the street from Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone on the corner of East 34th Street and First Avenue.

Kips Bay Deli is at 545 Second Avenue

The sandwiches at Kips Bay Deli are just excellent and can easily feed two people. I ordered a Chicken Parmesan on a hero roll and it was just excellent (see my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The sandwich was stuffed with two large fried chicken cutlets with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. I was starved from all that walking up and down both Broadway and Fifth Avenue. It tasted so good on a cool night. I just sat and watched the doctors leave from their shifts that evening.

Chicke

The Chicken Parmesan sandwich here is really good

My last afternoon in NoMAD, I explored all the side streets from West to East 30th to West to East 25th Streets again between Sixth and Madison Avenue. I saw a lot of the same buildings that lined both Broadway, Fifth and Madison Avenue before and it was nice to admire them from all angles. Even on the side streets, I can tell even in the era of COVID this is an extremely desirable neighborhood and buildings are being gutted and renovated.

I started back in Madison Square Park to figure out my game plan. On this cool day, the park was extremely busy. The dog walkers were all talking amongst themselves while the kids were all yelling and screaming in the playground.

I started my walk on the corner of Madison Avenue and East 26th Street and made my way down the street. I passed the now closed Museum of Mathematics at 11 East 26th Street and looked through the window. There was no one in the museum. I will have to visit again when the museum is open in the future.

Museum of Mathematics

Museum of Mathematics at 11 East 26th Street is closed because of COVID

https://www.facebook.com/MoMath1/

Walking down from East 26th to West 26th Streets to Sixth Avenue, I passed many of the historic buildings on Fifth Avenue and Broadway again with their beautiful details and their impressive stonework. This is true until you get to Sixth Avenue with its modern apartment buildings that were built in the late 1990’s until today.

Slowly the borders and businesses of the Garment and Flower Districts around Sixth Avenue are slowly disappearing. There is still some small manufacturing and whole businesses left but little by little these buildings are being torn down for another building or gutted for an upscale merchant or restaurant. The character of the old neighborhood will be gone within the next five years.

As I made my back down West 26th Street and rounded the corner on Madison Avenue to East 27th Street, so many interesting small buildings stood out when you left the confines of the Avenues. There is one standout that has an interesting history at 13-15 East 27th Street, The Prince Edward Hotel.

13-15 East 27th Street

13-15 East 27th Street-The Prince Edward Hotel

The was designed by architect Howard Greenley in the Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1904 with a ‘British Flair’ with a “Ladies Tea Room’ and a “British Tap Room’ as noted by the signs outside. When it opened, it had its own celebrity clientele that spanned that era. The history changed 65 years later when in the 1970’s it was considered one of the most dangerous welfare residencies in the City. Today the hotel is going through another renovation to bring it back to its glory (Forgotten New York).

Another set of beautiful buildings you have to look up at to admire their beauty is 28-32 West 27th Street which was built in 1909 in the Beaux-Arts design and 34 West 27th Street next door which has a unique design itself and both are heavily decorated.

28-32 West 27th Street

28-32 West 27th Street and 34 West 27th Street next door

Heading back down 27th Street to Fifth Avenue, I passed the Museum of Sex again and I could see through the window that the gift shop was busy. It was interesting that everyone was wearing masks because of COVID but it seemed rather suited for the museum.

My walk down East 28th Street offered similar architectural treasurers. As the neighborhood started to change from wealthy residential to commercial, the rich started to build their new mansions on the upper parts of Fifth Avenue around Central Park. This area became the new Midtown from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of WWI. It became home to many of the top hotels and the Hotel Latham from 4-8 East 28th Street became one of the top hotels.

4-6 East 28th Street

4-8 East 28th Street-The Latham Hotel

The Latham Hotel was built 1904 and designed by architect Augustus N. Allen in the Beaux Arts style. The hotel opened as both an upscale residential and transient hotel. Like the Prince Edward Hotel, the modern era was not the best to the hotel and it was used for the homeless during the 1970’s and 80’s. Currently it is being renovated again (Daytonian).

One building I admired was at 34 East 28th Street. This small building has a unique facade that looks like it belongs in New Orleans. This brownstone with marble trim was built in 1910.

34 East 28th Street

34 East 28th Street

I rounded the corner again to East 29th Street and stopped right in front of 2 West 29th Street. This elegant marble commercial building was built in 1928 and has since been renovated into condos. Don’t ask what the going price is to live here!

2

2 West 29th Street

On the way back to the East Side of Fifth Avenue, I walked past 1186 and 1200 Broadway again with their scaffolding and sandblasting that will be going on for months. I also passed many small groups of Caribbean men who work at the wholesale stores huddling under the scaffolding to keep warm and dry on the gloomy afternoon.

As the buildings in this neighborhood go through the transition back to hotels and upscale retail awaiting the post-COVID days in the future I wondered how much longer they will all be working here. Almost all the buildings I have highlighted in the neighborhood are going through some form of renovation turning the neighborhood back to its glory days as the Midtown hub.

My last stop in the neighborhood was the Church of the Transfiguration at 1 East 29th Street. The church was built in the English Neo-Gothic style in 1849. The church had continued to be added onto during the late 1800’s with the tower and guildhall built in 1852 and the lych-gate designed by architect Fredrick Clarke Withers in 1869. The chapels were added in 1906 and 1908. The early claim to fame of the church was it had actor Edwin Booth (the father of John Wilkes Booth) Memorial stained glass window designed by John LeFarge in 1898 located in the church (Wiki).

Church of the Transfiguration

The Church of the Transfiguration at 1 East 29th Street

http://www.littlechurch.org/

What is nice about the church is the gardens in the front where you can sit down and rest and contemplate about yourself. The original architect of the church is unknown but designed these English gardens as a place of refuge. What I thought was interesting was that the church had been used in films since Silent films and the most famous current film was the Woody Allen film “Hanna and her Sisters” (Wiki).

Still even on a gloomy day, it was a nice place to just rest, relax and think about how this neighborhood is going through its own transformation as the rest of the City is during this time of COVID. What will be the end results and what will the City look and be like?

I ended my evening once again with a quick slice of pizza at Fresh Pizza and Deli at 876 Sixth Avenue. I don’t know why I love this little dump of a restaurant but the food is so good. The pizza is a $1.00 and on a cold gloomy night tasted so good. The cooks here keep giving strange looks like I am going to arrest them or something. The people that eat here are real characters that work in the neighborhood and like to defy City orders and eat their pizza and sandwiches at the small counter inside the restaurant. I found myself doing the same until they nudged me to the sidewalk.

Fresh Pizza & Deli

Fresh Pizza and Deli at 876 Sixth Avenue

I keep wondering how long this little neighborhood gem with last in the latest transformation of this neighborhood? I will stay-tuned as I continue my walk around the old Midtown.

My blog on “Walking the Borders of NoMAD/Rose Hill/Flatiron District”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16580

My blog on “A Victorian Christmas: Touring the Ladies Shopping Mile” with the Cornell Club:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/8117

Places to Eat:

AweSum Dim Sum

160 East 23rd Street

New York City, NY 10010

(646) 998-3313/3314

http://www.awesumdimsum.us/

Open: Sunday 9:30am-8:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-8:00pm/Friday 11:00am-9:00pm/Saturday 9:30am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d21335707-Reviews-Awesome_Dim_Sum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1898

Kips Bay Deli

545 Second Avenue

New York, NY 10016

(917) 261-2927

https://kips-bay-deli.business.site/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 Hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.ie/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d23061847-Reviews-Kips_Bay_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1961

Fresh Pizza & Deli

876 Sixth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 779-7498

https://99centsfreshpizzaanddelinewyork.mybistro.online/

Open: Sunday-Friday 6:00am-12:00am/Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d23125364-Reviews-Fresh_Pizza_And_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

Places to Visit:

The Museum of Sex

233 Fifth Avenue (@27th Street)

New York, NY  10016

(212) 689-6337

Open: Sunday-Thursday 10:30am-11:00pm/Friday & Saturday 10:30am-12:00am

Fee: General Admission $20.50/$3.00 off for Students, Seniors and Military

https://www.museumofsex.com/

https://www.museumofsex.com/museum/about/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d525259-Reviews-Museum_of_Sex-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3081

Madison Square Park

11 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 520-7600

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

https://www.facebook.com/madisonsquarepark/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d501513-Reviews-Madison_Square_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Worth Monument

Day One Hundred and Eighty-Nine: Walking the Borders of NoMad (North of Madison Square Park)/Rose Hill/Flatiron District from West/East 25th to West/East 30th Streets from Sixth to Madison Avenue January 8th-10th, 2021

I have never seen such a transformation of a neighborhood.

I finished Kips Bay right before the holidays and discovered the section between Lexington and Third Avenues was also considered part of “Rose Hill”, an old farming estate from Colonial times. The area had not been called “Rose Hill” since the mid-1800’s and was surprised why anyone would want to bring the name back. That’s the real estate market for you. Anything to sell an apartment in a neighborhood.

This area of the Manhattan is actually a cross section of three neighborhoods, the “Rose Hill” estate section, NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) and the Flatiron District, dominated by the Flatiron Building located on the cross section of Broadway and Fifth Avenue. The area in question is between Fifth and Sixth Avenue from East and West 25th to 30th Street, which is part of both the Flatiron District and NoMAD with a block being in Rose Hill.

It must be very confusing for the residents to know where they live and what neighborhood association to join. That being said there is not much residential in this area as opposed to it being more of the start of the lower Midtown Business District. This is where a lot of your “hip” companies like to have their offices.

The neighborhood’s central point is Madison Square Park, a small oasis of green in the middle of what used to be the financial and retail district from the turn of the last century to about the Great Depression era. Most of the commercial buildings were built between 1890 to about 1930. This district shows that these companies believed in their businesses and built these spaces to last a lifetime. Many of the companies that built this district no longer exist. Still a few of the insurance companies and banks still own their buildings but in the era of COVID with everyone working at home, we will see what the future holds for them as well.

The upper portion of the neighborhood is what is left of the old “Wholesale” and “Flower District”, which are both starting to dwindle in relevance in this neighborhood. As the neighborhood slowly started to be knocked down in the early 90’s and replaced by high rises especially above 23rd Street along Sixth Avenue, it went from being an old commercial district to one that was middle to high end residential.

What is left of the old “Wholesale” district is now concentrated around the stretch from Fifth to Sixth Avenue along East 30th Street and a little along Broadway but little by little the stores are closing up.

All the department stores that the district used to cater to are long gone with the exception of Macy’s Herald Square and realtors have discovered that people really do love the old charm of these turn of the last century Victorian and Art Deco style architecture. These buildings are slowly are being converted back to their original use of hotels, stores and restaurants as they were in the early 1900’s.

Even the ‘Flower District’ is down to about a dozen stores. What was once lined with fresh flowers and decorative house plants as well as all sorts of gardening supplies have packed up and moved to Hunts Point in the Bronx along with the Fish Markets of South Street Seaport and the Meatpacking District in Chelsea. The buildings and land have just become too valuable and the areas are being zoned for residential.

During Mayor Bloomberg’s last term in office all of these and other areas of the City that were once commercial were rezoned for residential and have changed the complexity of these neighborhoods. Some for the better and some for the worse. In NoMAD, the area just keeps morphing even during the era of COVID.

I started my day walking down from Port Authority and touring through the first floor of Macy’s Herald Square. The changes in that store since I have worked there have been tremendous. The Christmas decorations are long gone (except from the Ninth Floor where the Christmas Shoppe was still going strong) and the store was preparing for Valentine’s Day like the rest of the retail industry. The store was pretty crowded for early afternoon and gave me faith that the industry was not dead.

Macy's 34th Street

Macy’s Herald Square facing Broadway

I exited through the back door into Herald Square and walked through both Herald and Greeley Squares where people were eating their lunches and socializing on the park chairs and tables (socially distanced of course). It is surprising how busy the parks were a cool cloudy morning. I then walked around Koreatown on my way to NoMAD and the restaurants were really busy again like they were on Christmas Day. People still enjoy eating outside even at this time of the year.

I started my walk of NoMAD on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 30th Street. This was interesting because in all my years at Macy’s, this had been the Textiles and Handmade Rug showrooms during the late 80’s and through the 90’s. Now there was not much left. The few showrooms that were left in the handmade rug business were closed that afternoon and the commercial part of the block was really quiet. There were not too many people walking around so I could take my time and really admire the buildings.

Many of the wholesale businesses were open but they are becoming few and far between. Even in the Pandemic, I do not foresee them being here in the next two years. As the leases start to get broken or the buildings get renovated, they are slowly emptying out and there are many for rent signs on 30th Street.

Most of the buildings on 30th Street were non-descriptive until I reached the corner of West 30th Street and Fifth Avenue. At 284 Fifth Avenue is 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).

The Wilbraham 284 Fifth Avenue

284 Fifth Avenue at East 30th Street-The Wilbraham

Rounding the corner on East 30th Street to Madison Avenue, the border of the neighborhood is shared with the “Rose Hill” section of the neighborhood. Technically “Rose Hill” is the eastern section of the neighborhood by historical fact to the location of the original estate. Still on most maps, NoMAD stretches to the border of Kips Bay on Lexington Avenue. This is where the borders of all these neighborhoods got confusing.

So I walked around the block and walked up and down Madison Avenue, the main artery and border of the neighborhood to revisit some of the most beautiful and picturesque buildings on the avenue. This starts the border also of the residential and business district of the neighborhood.

Walking down East 25th Street, you realize as you start to border the Midtown area that the buildings take up more of the blocks and there are less smaller brownstones and tenements in the area. The dominate building on the block by Madison Square Park is 11-25 Madison Avenue, the Metropolitan Life Buildings. The building that lines this part of East 25th Street is the Metropolitan Life North Building (or 11 Madison Avenue).

Metropolitan Life Building

Metropolitan Life North Building at 25 Madison Avenue

This beautiful building was the extension of the main headquarters next door on Madison Avenue. The building was designed by the architectural team of Harvey Wiley Corbett and D. Everett Waid in the Art Deco style in the late 1920’s as the tallest building in the world but the Great Depression changed the plans and it was built in three stages. The first finished in 1932, the second in 1940 and the third in 1950 (Wiki).

The loggia

The archways ‘Loggias’ on each side of the building

What stands out about the building is the arched vaults on each corner of the structure called ‘loggias’ and the features were made in limestone and pink marble. When you stand under them you can see the colors and details of the marble carvings (Wiki). Just walking around the building the features are impressive and standout.

Across the street from the Metropolitan Life North Building at 27 Madison Avenue is the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State and one of the most beautiful and detailed buildings I have seen on my walks. The building was designed by architect James Lord Brown in 1896 in the Beaux Arts Style and is adorned heavily in sculpture (Wiki). You really have to step back and walk across the street to see the details on the building.

27 Madison Avenue

27 Madison Avenue The Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State

Looking up close, you can see that the building resembles a Greek Temple and was considered one of the best examples of the “City Beautiful Movement” that occurred during the 1890’s and 1900’s to enhance cities with monumental grandeur and beauty (Wiki).

The historical beauty of the architecture continued up the border of the neighborhood as I walked up Madison Avenue towards East 30th Street. You have to walk both sides of Madison Avenue to appreciate the designs and details of the buildings that line the avenue.

You have to look close to the building or you will miss it is the sculpture by artist Harriet Feigenbaum. It is a memorial to victims of the Holocaust and is very powerful in its work showing the concentration camps.

Harriet Feigenbaum artist

“The Memorial to the Injustice of the Victims of the Holocaust”-“Indifference to Justice is the Road to Hell”

Harriet Feigenbaum Artist

https://www.harrietfeigenbaum.com/home.html

Harriet Feigenbaum is an American sculptor and environmentalist. Her works cover sculpture, film and drawings that are seen all over the world (Wiki and artist bio).

I passed 50 Madison Avenue and noticed how the buildings blended in design. The bottom level of the building was built in 1896 as the headquarters of the ASPCA (American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals). The building was designed by architects Renwick, Aspinwell & Owen and had a classic ‘club like’ design to it. The building was refitted and added to in 2005 by the firm of Samson Management with a six story addition to luxury condos (CityRealty.com).

50 Madison Avenue-The former ASPCA headquarters

Another ornamental building that stands out in the neighborhood is 51 Madison Avenue which is the home of New York Life Insurance Building. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in 1926 in the Art Deco style with Gothic Revival details along the sides and was finished in 1928. The structure is topped with a gilded roof (Wiki & New York Life Insurance history). This is another building that you have to see from all sides.

51 Madison Avenue

51 Madison Avenue-The New York Life Insurance Building

Continuing my walk up Madison Avenue while admiring the architecture of the neighborhood is The James NoMAD Hotel, the former Seville Hotel, on the corner of East 29th Street at 88 Madison Avenue. This interesting hotel has gone through several name changes and renovations since it was built in 1904. The hotel was designed by architect Harry Alan Jacobs in the Beaux Arts style and the annex to the hotel was designed by Charles T. Mott in 1906 (Wiki).

The James NoMAD Hotel

88 Madison Avenue-The James NoMAD Hotel (formerly The Seville)

The outdoor dining was open for the restaurant the first afternoon I had visited the neighborhood even though I thought it was a little cool to eat outside. Even though you can’t go inside unless you are a guest, I could see the holiday decorations and lights from the street and it looked very elegant inside.

Across the street from this elegant hotel is 95 Madison Avenue the former Emmett Building. The structure was designed by architects John Stewart Barney and Stockton B. Colt of Barney & Colt for Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet in 1912 when the area was a wholesale district. The building is designed in the French Neo-Renaissance with Gothic style ornamentation (New York Landmark Preservation Commission and Wiki).

95 Madison Avenue Emmet Building

95 Madison Avenue-The Emmet Building

Turning the corner at East 25th Street and Madison Avenue is Madison Square Park, named after our forth President of the United States, James Madison. This well landscaped park is the gathering place of the residents of NoMAD and has a wonderful playground that has been busy the whole time I have spent in the neighborhood.

Madison Square Park is an interesting little oasis from all the traffic and office space. It has an interesting history since it was designated a public space in 1686 by British Royal Governor Thomas Dongan. It has served as a potters field, an arsenal and a home for delinquents. In 1847, the space was leveled, landscaped and enclosed as a park. It became part of the New York Park system in 1870. There are many historical figures featured in the park (NYCParks.org).

The park today is a major meeting spot for residents and tourists alike with a dog track and the original Shake Shack restaurant.

Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park in the Spring when I was walking the length of Broadway

When I walked into the park to take a break, it must have been the busiest section of the neighborhood between the playground and the original Shake Shack that were serving food to a crowd clung to their cellphones.

I stopped to look at the statue of our 21st President Chester A. Arthur, who had taken oath just two blocks away in his New York townhouse where the Kalustyan’s Specialty Foods is located at 123 Lexington Avenue (See My walk in Kips Bay below). I thought about what was going on in our government today and what they must have gone through with this transition.

Chester A. Arthur Statue

The Statue of Chester A. Arthur in Madison Square Park

The statue of our 21st President was designed by artist George Edwin Bissell and the pedestal by architect James Brown Lord.

Artist George Edwin Bissell

https://americanart.si.edu/artist/george-edwin-bissell-430

George Edwin Bissell was an American born artist from Connecticut whose father was a quarry-man and marble carver. He studied sculpture abroad in Paris in the late 1870’s and was known for his historical sculptures of important figures of the time (Wiki).

Admiral Farragut statue

The Admiral David Farragut statue in Madison Square Park by artist Augustus St. Gaudens

Admiral David Farr

Admiral David Farragut

https://www.britannica.com/biography/David-Farragut

Another interesting statue that stands out in Madison Square Park is the of Civil War Navy hero, Admiral David Farragut. Admiral Farragut commanded the Union Blockage of Southern cities and helped capture New Orleans. The statute was designed by sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens. This was the artist’s first major commission when it was dedicated in 1881 (NYCParks.org).

Augustus St. Gaudens

Augustus St. Gaudens

https://www.nps.gov/saga/index.htm

Augustus St. Gaudens was an Irish born American artist whose specialty during the Beaux-Arts era was monuments to Civil War heroes. He had created the statue the William Tecumseh Sherman in the Central Park Mall on Fifth Avenue along with this statue of Admiral Farragut. He had studied at the National Academy of Design, apprenticed in Paris and then studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (Wiki).

Upon leaving Madison Square Park and proceeding across East to West 25th Street (Fifth Avenue separates the East Side from the West Side of Manhattan), I was traveling into what was once part of Midtown between the Civil War until WWI and then after that Midtown moved closer to Central Park during the 1920’s through the 1940’s. This leads to the former ‘Ladies Shopping Mile’, which I had covered the previous Christmas on a walking tour.

My blog on my Christmas Walking Tour of the Ladies Shopping Mile in 2018:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/8117

Most of the buildings in this section of NoMAD were built with decorative stone work and elaborate ornamentation. There are so many in this section of Manhattan I will highlight the ones that are the standouts. As I walked the border of the neighborhood, you could see many beautiful buildings lining 25th Street.

When walking down East 25th Street from Madison Square Park, the first interesting site you pass is the historic Worth Square, the Memorial to and burial site of General William Jenkins Worth.

William Jenkins Worth was a native New Yorker (Hudson, NY) and decorated Army officer who had served our country in the Battles of 1812, The Second Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. His series of campaigns shaped this Country to where it is today. He died working for the Department of Texas in 1849 (Wiki).

General William Jenkins Worth

Army General William Jenkins Worth

The General’s remains are buried under the monument at Worth Square at the corner of Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 24th and 25th Street. General Worth was interned here in November of 1857 on the anniversary of the British leaving the colonies (NYCParks.org).

Worth Monument

The Worth Monument between East 24th and East 25th Street at Broadway and Fifth Avenue

The Worth Monument was designed by artist James Goodwin Batterson, whose main profession was one of the founders of the Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford, CT and helped design the Library of Congress Building in Washington DC. He had immersed himself in his father’s quarrying and stone importing business early in his career and traveled extensively to Europe and Egypt for the job. He designed this monument in 1857 (Wiki).

James Batterson artist

Artist and Designer James Goodwin Batterson

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_G._Batterson

Passing Worth Square and continuing down West 25th Street, I was revisiting the edge of the former “Ladies Shopping Mile” and noticed the impressive architecture that lines the streets of this section of the neighborhood.

At 1123 Broadway is the detailed Townsend Building that was built between 1896-97 and was designed by New York architect Cyrus Lazelle Warner Eidlitz in the Classical style. The building is names for Isaac Townsend whose estate the building was built on (Flatiron Partnership).

1123 Broadway The Townsend Building

1123 Broadway-The Townsend Building

1123 Broadway

The details on 1123 Broadway are amazing

Another beautiful building is the Heritage Hotel at 18-20 West Fifth Avenue. This detailed hotel was designed by the architectural firm of Israels & Harder in 1901 in the Beaux-Arts style.The hotel opened in 1902 as the Arlington Hotel, a residential hotel for well-heeled guests (Daytonian).

18-20 West 25th Street

18-20 West 25th Street-The Heritage Hotel

https://www.heritagehotelnyc.com/

By the time I reached Sixth Avenue, named “The Avenue of the Americas” only to tourists and out of towners, I had seen a significant change in this part of Sixth Avenue in the last thirty years. At West 25th Street, the intersection is just above what had been “Department Store Row” that ends at West 23rd Street.

This had once been the heart of the “Flower District” and while there still are some wholesale flower businesses tucked here and there on Sixth Avenue and some of the side streets, that business has mostly moved on. What had once been lined with rows of smaller buildings housing flower shops selling their wares to people in the Tri-State area is now lined with new modern apartment buildings up to almost West 34th Street. The area is still being redeveloped.

As I ended my first day in the neighborhood, I walked back down West 30th Street back to Madison Avenue passing the familiar buildings back through Madison Square Park and just relaxed. It was fun watching people walk their dogs in the park and the dogs have a great time playing with one another.

I ended the evening with a slice of $1.00 pizza at my new ‘go to’ place in the neighborhood, Fresh Pizza & Deli at 876 Sixth Avenue, a little hole in the wall pizzeria and sandwich shop. The prices here are extremely fair both for the pizza and for the sandwiches that range from $5.00 to $7.00. The pizza here is pretty good and has a nice sauce that gives it some flavor. At night, it has some interesting characters hanging around.

Fresh Pizza & Deli

Fresh Pizza & Deli at 876 Sixth Avenue

After my snack, I made one last walk around the northern border of the neighborhood to visit what was left of the wholesale businesses. Slowly these jewelry and accessory stores are giving way to boutiques, trendy restaurants and bars. Even in the era of COVID, the whole neighborhood is either being gutted and renovated or knocked down and being rebuilt. There is not one block in NoMAD that isn’t being transformed.

It will be interesting to see the results when all of this passes.

Places to Eat:

Fresh Pizza & Deli

876 Sixth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 779-7498

https://99centsfreshpizzaanddelinewyork.mybistro.online/

Open: Sunday-Friday 6:00am-12:00am/Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d23125364-Reviews-Fresh_Pizza_And_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/2000

Places to Visit:

Macy’s Herald Square

151 West 34th Street

New York, NY 10001

(212) 265-4400

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

Open: Sunday 11:00am-8:00pm/Monday-Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d208847-Reviews-Macy_s_Herald_Square-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Madison Square Park

11 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 520-7600

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

https://www.facebook.com/madisonsquarepark/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d501513-Reviews-Madison_Square_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My walk in “Rose Hill”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16437

My walks in Kips Bay:

The Borders of Kips Bay

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15049

The Avenues of Kips Bay

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15820

The Streets of Kips Bay

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15954

Bronx Zoo Light Show

Day One Hundred and Eighty-Eight: My Christmas during the era of COVID December 1st-January 10th, 2020-2021

Well, Christmas is finally officially over for me. It was one for the books. The holiday season just came and went without much fanfare or activities. Nothing like last year which was a lot of running around visiting decorated homes or running to the next cocktail party or dinner. Those things just did not exist this year. This season was all about the outside walking tours and small get togethers.

The whole holiday season became a blur and I started to attend a lot of outdoor activities that became available. Anything to get out of the house and see people or go do something out of the ordinary. I really had to search things out.

They started closest to home. I was trying to split my time between places that were just a drive away, going back and forth to the Hudson River Valley, which gave me a change of scenery and walking the neighborhoods of Manhattan, which gave me a sense of purpose as I felt I was supporting the City by being a cheerleader for all it had to offer even in the era of COVID.

My holiday journey started with the delivery of 375 Christmas trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. It was a big undertaking for a major charity that supports graduating high school seniors with scholarship money for college. I sometimes wonder if these students know what we go through to get the funds.

Christmas Tree sales

The trees were really nice this year

I have never seen so many Christmas Trees fly off a lot so fast. The membership of the Men’s Association got there at 9:00am and the truck arrived at 10:15am. We sold our first tree at 11:30am as we were tagging them. I stayed the entire day from 9:00am to 10:00pm when we closed the lot down for the evening. In the three shifts that I was there with the other guys, we sold 45 trees which we have never done our first day of sales.

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at set-up 2020

We were completely sold out by December 11th which I have never seen before. It seemed in the era of COVID everyone reverted back to the 1970’s and wanted a fresh Christmas tree for their home. I thought this was wonderful and people could not have been more supportive to our organization.

Please read my blog on “Christmas tree sales in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15853

Please watch the commercial I did in 2015 to sell our trees

The first week of December means “Open Houses” at some of our merchants in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights. I look forward to seeing all the Christmas merchandise being offered, all the bouquets created for the event and the beautiful Christmas windows that our florists in town have done.

Bill O'Shea's Florist & Gifts

Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gift at 231 Boulevard

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/151

Bill O’Shea’s Florist at 231 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ always has a nice gathering the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year was like no other but it did not keep a nice crowd of residents from coming out and looking over ideas for floral displays, house decorating ideas and listening to festive holiday music all while nibbling on prepackaged treats and bottled drinks.

Bill O'Shea's Florist VIII

Bill O’Shea’s has some of the nicest displays at the holidays

In a normal year, it would be hot chocolate and coffee with freshly baked goods but COVID has changed the way these businesses are run. Everything had to be prepackaged and most people at it outside as juggling and shopping with a mask on was tough.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, the same weekend we set up the Christmas Tree lot for the Men’s Association, Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ had their Open House and that was equally as nice.

Heights Flowers IV

Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/130

Heights Flower Shoppe is housed in a turn of the last century home that dates back to the original founding of our downtown and has a very classic boutique look to it. The store was stocked with all sorts of Christmas decorations, homemade candies, decorative household gifts and beautiful floral displays as well as outside had decorated wreathes and grave blankets.

Heights Flowers V

The homemade candies and Christmas decorations adorn the store

Like Bill O’Shea’s, there was all sorts of packaged holiday treats to enjoy including Italian sodas, small bags of homemade Christmas cookies and candies. Last year they had a nice assortment of cookies and small sandwiches with coffee, tea and punch so there are always holiday treats to nibble on too here as well.

All of Downtown Hasbrouck Heights was beautifully decorated for the holidays with wreaths on all our lamp posts, Christmas lights on the trees, merchants display windows decorated to the hilt and Christmas music playing.

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is always so nicely decorated for the holidays

This year because of COVID, the Annual Holiday Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting were cancelled in town but they did have a small get together at the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights to light the town Christmas tree. It was lit from Thanksgiving until the Epiphany on January 6th. It is always a beautiful site when entering town from the west side of town.

The Circle at Hasbrouck Heights

The Christmas Tree on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Even the little Neil Parrot playhouse, a local landmark in Hasbrouck Heights, was decorated for the holidays and was lite up at night as well.

The Neil Parrot Playhouse on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights awaiting Santa

There were several nights of my aunt and I exploring the town and driving block by block to see all the decorated homes. Hasbrouck Heights and the surrounding towns of Lodi and Wood Ridge always do a wonderful job decorating for the holidays but with everyone being home and COVID hitting the area hard, people wanted to really decorate and make this year even more festive. Between the merchants and home owners, they made this time of year in Hasbrouck Heights very festive.

Please read my blog on Visiting Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14025

I did not just celebrate Christmas in Hasbrouck Heights. I ventured into other parts of New Jersey, to New York City and my usual haunts in the Hudson River Valley but like New Jersey, New York State was on a lock down as well and all the decorated mansions and holiday gatherings were all cancelled as well. So everyone did their best to celebrate outdoors and have all sorts of tours and small get togethers. You had to move fast when reserving these events as they did fill up because everyone wanted to get out of the house and see things.

The Sinterklaas Parade that I have participated and volunteered at for so many years was cancelled because of COVID but like the Halloween Parade, the committee put together a video of the parade to share with the world. Still it did not compare to the excitement of walking down the hill with stars and music lighting up Downtown Rhinebeck, NY.

The noble Frog was to be our mascot for this year’s Sinterklaas Parade

It was not the same as the year before where the crowds kept getting larger and larger every year. The whole town came to life with activities, songs, lights and laughter but was silent that weekend except for people having dinner in town. I was able to sneak up during the week. The entire town was decorated with white lights and beautifully decorated store windows. Rhinebeck is one of those towns in the Hudson River Valley that looks straight out of a Currier & Ives woodcut.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas

Since all the Christmas parties and get togethers were cancelled, it gave me more time to look into other outdoor events. I went to a special “Historical walking tour at the Holidays” at the Bergen County Historical Society in River Edge, NJ. The tour was lead by Historical singer and lecturer, Linda Russell, who explained the traditions of the Dutch Christmas all while singing Colonial Christmas songs in between the talks at each historical house on the property.

Steuben House BCHS

The Steuben House at Christmas

Actors dressed in costumes (and masks of course-COVID is still going on) danced in the Steuben House ballroom as colonialists celebrating the holiday, Dutch housewives putting their children to bed while awaiting Sinterklaas. There was a Dutch wooden shoe with carrots for his horse outside the door and mistletoe on the ceiling.

Linda Russell Lecturer

Linda Russell performing and lecturing at the Bergen County Historical Society

There was a discussion on the Pagan traditions of bringing ‘greens’ from outside inside to have a bit of ‘live nature’ into the home. So mistletoe, pine and holly adorned homes during the winter months as these things were green and brought a bit of life into the dead of winter.

The last part of the lecture was done in front of the Campbell-Christie House with a visit from Sinterklaas himself. We had a short talk about who Sinterklaas was and his part in the holiday season. Then all the members of the tour enjoyed refreshments and got a goody bag when we left with holiday sweets. The lecture and songs were a nice way to enjoy the beginning of the holiday season.

Campbell-Christie House Xmas

Campbell-Christie House at the end of the tour:

My blog on The Bergen County Historical Society:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/531

My favorite song by Linda Russell “I saw Three Ships”

As I was finishing up the semester at the College, I was getting holiday preparations done at the house, having small gatherings of family and friends and trying to be COVID safe. I was also running in and out of the City finishing my blog on Kips Bay before the holidays started getting busier. I learned a lot of New York’s Colonial past from walking around this area of the City.

My blogs on the Walking the neighborhood of Kips Bay:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15954

The next weekend I made my last trip of the season to Long Beach Island to visit Beach Haven and the tour the rest of the island one last time before winter set in. It had really closed down since Halloween. I expected it to be much busier with more people moving down there on a permanent basis. Driving up to the lighthouse, I saw more dark homes then lite ones.

I wanted to take one more tour of Long Beach Island to see how they celebrate Christmas at the shore. They do things very quietly in Beach Haven. I went to the Surflight Theater to see the only play I had seen since I attended Carnegie Hall last Christmas to see the play “We need a little Christmas” which I had seen advertised at the theater over the summer.

“We need a Little Christmas” at the Surflight Theater in Beach Haven, NJ

After the theater, it was surprisingly warm that afternoon hovering around 58 degrees so I walked to the beach one block away and walked on the Jersey shore for my only time that year and for the first time on Beach Haven beach since 1975. It has been a long journey since that time.

Beach Haven Beach

The Beach Haven beach was beautiful that afternoon

The town’s Christmas trees were across the street from the theater on the square just off the downtown. Even they had a subdued Christmas at the shore and the whole event welcoming in the season was done virtually.

Christmas in Beach Haven, NJ adapted like the rest of the world

My holiday dinner was spent at the Chicken or the Egg that evening and it was really good. The menu is so extensive and innovative. It was hard to make choices.

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream Sandwich

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream sandwich at Chicken or the Egg

Their fried chicken sandwiches are really good and their Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream sandwich should not be missed.

Chicken or the Egg

The Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in Beach Haven

https://www.facebook.com/chegg609/

I was able to tour the whole island that afternoon before it got dark and even at twilight here and there were signs of Christmas in small trees lit in the shopping areas and decorated homes. It is an interesting place at the holidays with the waves crashing in the background.

My blog on “Exploring Downtown Beach Haven and Long Beach Island, NJ”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15226

The next week was finals week at the College and I had to give my final exam. The students also finished work on their case study, “Bud N’ Mud”, a simulated flower/coffee shop I had the students develop. It was interesting to see how a group of student entrepreneurs would create a store with their own ideas on how to grow the business. This project ended the Fall semester.

Bud N' Mud logo

One of my favorite logo’s from the “Bud N’ Mud” project

My blog on the “Bud N’ Mud” project:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16124

With the Christmas trees selling out by December 11th, we held our annual Christmas party at the Christmas tree stand site for the Men’s Association. It was a cool not cold night and we all huddled around the fire taking alternate turns hitting the makeshift buffet table and enjoying good conversation. It was a great way to end the year successfully and there will lots of scholarships being given out at the end of the school year.

The last big event before Christmas came was the Sunday before Christmas with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department holding our Annual “Santa Around Town”. Because COVID was growing, the event was revamped from previous years and instead of stopping at sites all over town, we drove down each street in town slowly, having Santa wave and greet people who were on their lawns, driveways and porches. The residents of Hasbrouck Heights seemed touched by it and I could tell from the safety of the fire truck that the kids got a kick out of seeing Santa. People really needed the pick me up in holiday spirit at the time.

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at “Santa Around Town” 2020

My blog on “Santa Around Town” 2020:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16150

On the Tuesday before Christmas after I finished work with my other job I needed a break and wanted to go on a road trip to the Hudson River Valley again. I was nostalgic for Christmas’s past and decided to visit some of the towns Upstate.

I explored Downtown Woodstock first seeing their very unusual Christmas tree in the square. I have to say one thing about Woodstock, they do pick out the most interesting tree to sit in the square. It always looks more surreal than traditional. Their annual “Santa Parade” was cancelled this year as well and they did a drive by with Santa at the Woodstock Fire Department who runs the parade.

Downtown Kingston, NY was next on the list. Talk about a town in transition. In the almost three years since I have been visiting Kingston, I have never seen a downtown change so rapidly. The businesses there have gone from all this ‘hippie granola’ businesses to all these antique furniture stores and art galleries and some really expensive restaurants. One of the locals told me the new residents are “Brooklynizing” Kingston.

Still the downtown was nicely lit for the holidays and their Christmas Tree while small is nicely lit for the holidays on the edge of the downtown “Stockade” district. The Dutch Reformed Church on the other end of downtown was nicely lit with wreaths on the doors.

I crossed the river and drove to Red Hook, NY which I love. Their downtown looks like an old fashioned shopping district straight out of another Currier & Ives print. All the little stores were decorated with garland and white lights and the merchants decorated their windows to the hilt.

My blog on Exploring Downtown Red Hook, NY:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14144

My last stop on my search for the perfect picturesque Hudson Valley River town was returning to Rhinebeck, NY for the day. Rhinebeck was quiet on this Tuesday evening as most of the restaurants were closed and the shops had closed for the evening. Still it was nice to walk around and admire the while lights on the trees and admire the display windows.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

The Christmas lights and windows of Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

Even the way I celebrate Christmas changed this year. Instead of spending time with my family, I spent three days in Manhattan with my best friend, Maricel, at a hotel in Times Square. Neither of us had the time to travel and we both had to work in the City, her at her hotel and me working on my blogs so both of us needed the rest.

AC Hote

AC Hotel New York Times Square at 260 West 40th Street

We stayed at the AC Hotel New York Times Square at 260 West 40th Street. What the room lacked in size, it made up in the view and in the location. We were one block from Port Authority, two blocks from Times Square and within walking distance from all the Christmas attractions from Saks Fifth Avenue’s Christmas windows and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

While Maricel worked on Christmas Eve, I walked around the City. I saw the tree at Rockefeller Center which was loaded with people not keeping socially distanced. I admired the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue which had a New York City theme with Christmas scenes from around the City “This is how we Celebrate”.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s Christmas Themed window “Over the East River and Through the Neighborhoods to Grandfather’s House We Go”

Rockefeller

Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree was even more special this year

I thought the windows at Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf-Goodman really lacked in creativity. Bloomingdale’s was having a bad year and Bergdorf’s had just gotten sold again (forth time since I worked there in 2004) so I did not expect much. With Lord & Taylor declaring bankruptcy earlier in the year and closing the main store on Fifth Avenue and B. Altman’s long gone and Macy’s going mechanical for the last few years, the excitement of seeing the windows has been less than enthusiastic.

Still it was nice to walk around Midtown after leaving the Rockefeller Center area and just walking around Third, Park and Madison Avenues. By 7:00pm, everything had shut down for the night and the streets were really quiet. What was eerie was when walking down Park Avenue and looking up and seeing so many dark buildings. The area looked abandoned with so many apartment lights out. I wondered where everyone went?

When Maricel got off work, I brought in dinner 9th Avenue Deli at 769 Ninth Avenue. I brought in a juicy cheeseburger and chicken fingers which we shared and then dug into. The perfect comfort food on a cool night. Christmas Eve was a mild 59 degrees and it was nice to walk around.

9th Avenue Deli

9th Avenue Deli at 769 9th Avenue

We just hung out the whole night and watched movies in the hotel room. I went to bed early and sunk into the wonderful Marriott hotel bed. Marriott had the best hotel beds and every time I stay at one of their hotels, I slept like a log.

Christmas Day we just relaxed in the room and I called many members of my family to wish them a Merry Christmas. While Maricel went to work, I decided to start touring neighborhoods like Kips Bay, Rose Hill and NoMAD in preparation in my walks there. It started out being a cold, cloudy day and there was barely anyone on the street. I saw a few people walking their dogs and that was about it until about 3:00pm. It them cleared up and was a mild 55 degrees until it got dark and then cooled down.

What really shocked me about Times Square was how dirty it was on the streets. They had not picked up the garbage on Christmas Eve day and did not pick it up until after Christmas Day so between the theaters being boarded up and the ply boards filled with graffiti, hotels closed and restaurants shut, the whole Theater district looked like NYC circa 1975. It was creepy how the pandemic was affecting the business of this neighborhood.

Neighborhoods like Kips Bay, Murray Hill, Rose Hill, NoMAD and the Flatiron District were really quiet that morning and early afternoon. All the restaurants and stores were dark, three hotels had closed in the district and I saw just a few people milling around. Things changed as I got closer to Macy’s Herald Square.

When walking around Koreatown, which runs between Sixth and Fifth Avenues between 35th to 32nd Streets, the side streets were teeming with Korean couples and groups of family members dining in the outdoor restaurants and cafes. This neighborhood was really jumping and full of life.

As the day wore on by 5:00pm, the rest of the City came back to life and more restaurants and stores opened up. Christmas morning and afternoon were now over and I could tell that people wanted to get out of the house (probably to get away from the family celebrations). When Maricel returned, I ordered in dinner from Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue, one of the few neighborhood restaurants open and we our dinner in the room. The food was okay. It was nice to just eat in the room and relax.

Christmas dinner was Lemon Chicken and Fried Rice from Golden City Chinese Restaurant

We checked out at noon on the 26th and she left for work that afternoon, I headed into Brooklyn to visit the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Museum. Both were really quiet that day. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden was mostly dormant for the winter and most of the garden was closed off because of COVID. The “Studio 54” exhibition had long closed at the Brooklyn Museum so I just wondered the halls and looked at some of the changes in the permanent exhibitions that they had. I left the City for home early that evening.

The last week of the holiday, I entertained family at a Lasagna and Champagne dinner I had a the house. Since I was not able to spend time at home during the holidays, my aunts came over to my house and we had a three course meal with champagne and wine. We spent the whole night laughing and enjoying the evening.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet evening at home alone talking with other friends who were staying home alone as well. Times Square was empty that evening with the exception of the 350 first responders who were invited to the ball drop. When I watched it on TV it was eerie to see it so quiet. There was no one for blocks except police guarding Times Square.

I headed back up to the Hudson River Valley again on New Year’s Day to go on two walking tours in Staatsburgh, NY at the Mills Mansion. It was the Annual “First of the Year” walking tours and it was a cool, crisp morning for a walking tour of the property. There were two tours that morning, one was on “Winter Activities in Victorian Times” with us learning about all the winter activities that the residents here enjoyed like skating , sledding, ice boating and horse drawn sleigh rides.

Staatsburgh, the Mills Mansion in the winter

The other tour later that afternoon was on “Ice Harvesting in the Hudson River Valley” , where we learned about how the ice harvesting of the Hudson River was a big business before the advent of refrigeration. Large slabs of ice were cut from the river, floated down stream and then packed in straw awaiting sale over the metropolitan area for peoples ice boxes throughout the year. It just gave me anther excuse to visit the region I love so much.

My blog on the Mills Mansion on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2137

Another local event that was COVID safe was a driving tour through the “Holiday Lightshow” at Demarest Farms in Hillsdale, NJ. This was the first time that the farm opened the apple and peach orchard across the street from the farm stand. I saw this display the last week it was open and even after the holidays, it was a special treat as we awaited the Epiphany.

Driving through the display only took about forty minutes but was a delight in the senses and sounds. I played the classical music station as I drove through and admired all the colorful lights on the now dormant trees while Santa’s and Snowmen winked and waved and toy soldiers lit the way through the dark field. Even the Demarest homestead was ablaze with lights.

Demarest Farms Christmas

Demarest Farms at 244 Werimus Drive in Hillsdale, NJ

My blog on “Visiting the Farms of Bergen County, NJ at Christmas”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16128

Don’t miss this holiday lights ride through the orchard in 2021

The holiday event I visited was the Bronx Zoo for their “Holiday Lights” event at the zoo. It was the last night of the event and I arranged for the tickets that afternoon. The zoo gave me a 30% discount to go that evening and I was on the subway ride up to the Bronx.

The Bronx Zoo Light Show

I was really impressed by the display. The entire park was decorated with white lights, with different sections of the park decorated with different themes such as jungle animals, aquatic mammals and all sorts of assorted elephants, seals, penguins, lions, tigers and bears (oh my haha). There were costumed characters to take pictures with and they even had the Bug Carousel open that evening. I got a kick out of riding this since I had not done this since I was a little kid.

Bronx Zoo Christmas tree

The Bronx Zoo musical Christmas Tree in the old part of the zoo

In the older section of the park, they had zebras on stilts and a musical Christmas trees that had an interesting soundtrack of contemporary Christmas songs. Even though Christmas had been over now for almost two weeks, it me back into the Christmas spirit.

My blog on the Bronx Zoo:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5013

So there was the Christmas holidays in the era of COVID. Lots of outdoor activities in hot and cold weather. Many walking tours and more subdued events. Gone were the cocktail parties and big formal dinners and in their place were many more smaller outdoor events and communicating with nature.

Maybe we all needed to take a break from the more formal traditions and go back to the basics of family and friends. I think this was a reflective year and realizing what is important. It had not changed that much for me. I just adjusted to the times, wore a mask and got going. Staying safe and keeping others safe is what is all about.

The holidays were just different this year.

Places to Stay:

AC Hotel New York Times Square

260 West 40th Street

New York, NY 10018

(844) 631-0595

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/nycma-ac-hotel-new-york-times-square/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60763-d12695463-Reviews-AC_Hotel_New_York_Times_Square-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Eat:

9th Avenue Deli

769 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10019

(212) 258-2600

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4758581-Reviews-9th_Ave_Deli_Corp-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15162978-Reviews-AM_PM_Deli_Grocery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/762

Golden City Chinese Restaurant

423 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 643-9232/736-4004

http://www.goldencitynyc.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3930125-Reviews-Golden_City_Chinese_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Hell’s Kitchen Deli

535 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

(212) 594-3393

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15167472-Reviews-Hell_s_Kitchen_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

The Bronx Zoo

2300 Southern Boulevard

The Bronx, NY 10460

(718) 367-1010

https://bronxzoo.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm

Fee: Members Free/Adults-Full Experience $39.95/Senior Full Experience $34.99/Child (3-12) $29.99/Child (under 3) Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d136079-Reviews-Bronx_Zoo-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on TripAdvisor for the “Holiday Lights Festival”:

https://static.tacdn.com/AttractionProductReview-g47369-d19708232-Bronx_Zoo_Holiday_Lights-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5013

Staatsburgh State Historic Site(The Mills Mansion)

75 Mills Mansion Drive

Staatsburgh, NY  12580

http://www.facebook.com/staatsburghSHS

Open: Thursday-Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48676-d107418-Reviews-Staatsburgh_State_Historic_Site_Mills_Mansion-Staatsburg_New_York.html?m=19905

Hours: Open Thursday-Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm (the last tour is at 4:00pm)/Open Monday Holidays from April 19th to October 28th. The mansion then closes to prepare for the holiday season. Closed on Thanksgiving and Easter. There are special programs from January to April so please see the website.

Admission: $8.00 for adults/$6.00 for groups and Seniors/Children under 12 are free. Special events have separate fees and can run from $8.00 to $10.00 and above.

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2137

The Bergen County Historical Society

1201 Main Street

River Edge, NJ 07661

(201) 343-9492

http://bergencountyhistory.org/

Open: Special Events and weekend hours check the website site

Fee: Depends on events/donations

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46776-d7603554-Reviews-Historic_New_Bridge_Landing-River_Edge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Visit the Sister Entry on this blog of the Campbell-Christi House VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/872

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/531

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 623-7210

http://www.bbg.org

Open:  Sunday and Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday  8:00am-6:00pm

Admission: Depending on the time of year/please check the website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d103900-Reviews-Brooklyn_Botanic_Garden-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2785

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11238

(718) 638-5000

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday & Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 11:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d110213-Reviews-Brooklyn_Museum-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905