Category Archives: Exploring Little Italy/NoLiTa in Manhattan

Little Moony Children's Store

Little Moony 230 Mulberry Street New York, NY 10012

Add Little Moony to your holiday shopping trip when visiting Manhattan. Your kids will love it!

Little Moony

Little Moony Children’s store in NoLiTa

Little Shop on Main Street

Little Moony

230 Mulberry Street

New York, NY  10012

(646) 852-8330

https://www.littlemoony.com/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-7:00pm/Monday-Thursday 10:00am-8:00pm/Friday & Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d15351971-Reviews-Little_Moony-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I came across the Children’s store, Little Moony, on a trip up Mulberry Street when visiting ‘Little Italy’ in Manhattan for dinner. Right above Grand Street in the area between Houston and Grand Street where “Little Italy” ends ‘Nolita’ (North Of Little Italy). This trendy area is starting to fill with smart boutiques, innovative restaurants and interesting stores that are replacing the older neighborhood establishments.

little-moony.jpg

I love their welcoming store window display

Little Moony is a cute Children’s store that is stocked with handmade clothing, imported handmade toys and an assortment of stuffed animals, small wooden games and infant toys. There is also a small selection of independent author children’s books many of which I had never seen before.

What I liked as a former executive…

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Historic Stone Street

Day One Hundred and Thirteen: Tour of Historic Pubs and Bars in Lower Manhattan with the Cornell Club May 9th, 2018

I took some time out of my regular touring and took a historic tour of the pubs and bars of lower Manhattan with the Cornell Club. The club had arranged this tour through one of the local historical tour companies in the City in which we would be touring sections of local historic watering holes. This included the Frances Tavern, Delmonico’s and India House.

We met on the stairs of the National Museum of the American Indian which once upon a time was the U.S. Customs House. Here we met our tour guide and we started our discussion on historic bars and restaurants and their place in lower Manhattan.

The tour started with a talk on the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House building located at 1 Bowling Green. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert, who also designed the Woolworth Building  with construction beginning in 1902 and was finished in 1907 and considered a masterpiece in Beaux-Arts style (Wiki).

The interesting part of the building is when you look up to the roof to see the statuary of ‘The Continents’, also called the ‘Four Continents’ of Asia, America, Europe and Africa. Located on the main cornice are standing sculptures representing the great seafaring nations, representing American seagoing commerce (Wiki and tour guide).

U.S. Custom House.jpg

U.S. Custom House at 1 Bowling Green

The interesting part of the discussion was that the U.S. Custom House sits on the site of Fort Amsterdam, the fortification constructed by the Dutch West Indian Company to defend their operations in the Hudson Valley. It was the center of the settlement (Wiki and tour guide).

Our next stop on the tour was walking around Bowling Green Park across the street from the U.S. Custom House. The park is the oldest public park in New York City and is one of the two rumored places that Peter Minuit ‘bought’ the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans in 1626 (the other being in Inwood Park) and had once served as the Council grounds for the local Native American tribes (NYC Parks.org).

Bowling Green Park.jpg

Bowling Green Park

The park was first designated a park in 1733 when it was offered for rent at the cost of one peppercorn per year. There had been a gilded statue of King George III erected there in 1770 and an iron fence (still there and a New York landmark) installed in 1771. On July 9, 1776 at the first public hearing of the Declaration of Independence, the statue was toppled by angry citizens and melted down for ammunition (NYC Parks & Tour Guide). The crowns that used to line the fence had been sawed off and you can still see traces of it on the fences.

The area surrounding the park became a fashionable residence in the late 18th century and mid-19th century, the area gave way to business and manufacturing. The park has since gone through many renovations, including the most recent 2004 which re-landscaped the park and added new bluestone sidewalks, plantings, gas lamps and hoof benches (NYC Parks & Tour guide).

Just north of the Bowling Green Park is the 7,100 pound statue of the ‘Charging Bull’ by artist Arturo DiModica. Mr. DiModica is a self taught Italian artist who had once worked in the foundries and then immigrated to New York City in the 1970’s. He became part of the 80’s art scene in lower Manhattan.

Arturo Di Modica artist

Arturo DiModica artist

http://www.artnet.com/artists/arturo-di-modica/

DiModica states that “Bronze figure of the bull represents the strength, power and hope of the American people for the future.” This was dealing after the Crash of the Market in 1987. Considered ‘guerrilla’ art when it was illegally installed in front of the New York Stock Exchange during the Christmas holiday season in 1989, the statue was moved to its current location in the Spring of 1989 and been there since.

Fearless Girl

Fearless Girl

Next to the statute, another statue has been cast and placed near the bull. “Fearless Girl” was installed in 2017 the night before International Women’s Day and was created by artist Kristen Visbal and was commissioner by State Street Global Advisers as a marketing campaign for their index fund. Ms. Visbal is a graduate from Salisbury State University with a BFA and currently runs the Visbal Fine Arts Sculpture in Lewes, DE (Wiki).

Kristen Visbal artist

Kristen Visbal artist

http://www.visbalsculpture.com/

The artist says that the statue of the young girl shows her as being “brave, proud and strong.” There has been criticism between the two artists on the meaning of the statutes (Wiki).

Charging Bull.jpg

Charging Bull

The first historic bar we visited was the Fraunces Tavern at 54 Pearl Street (See review on TripAdvisor). The restaurant has played a prominent role in history before, during and after the American Revolution,  serving as a headquarters for George Washington, a venue for peace negotiations with the British and housing federal offices in the Early Republic. It is owned by the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York Inc. and claim it is Manhattan’s oldest surviving buildings with the current being built by Stephen DeLancey, the son in law of New York Mayor Stephanus van Cortlandt in 1719 (Wiki).

Francus Tavern.jpg

Fraunces Tavern at 54 Pearl Street

We only stayed at the bar for a short time, looking at the period furniture and some of the museum quality artifacts before some of the members of our group ordered a drink. I have to tell you one thing, they get very testy if you sit a table and don’t order anything. Check out their website at http://www.francestavern.com for the menu’s and full history.

Great Fire of 1835

The Great Fire of 1835 in Lower Manhattan

https://www.history.com/news/great-fire-new-york-1835

Our next stop on the tour was historic Stone Street, a cluster of historic buildings along Stone, South William and Pearl Streets and Coenties Alley. The street’s stores and lofts were built for dry-goods merchants and importers shortly after the Great Fire of 1835, which destroyed many remnants of New Amsterdam (Wiki).

stone street II

Stone Street

The street had been neglected for years but a partnership between the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission and other city agencies, the Alliance for Downtown New York and Stone Street business owners transformed the area into the lively entertainment area that contains several restaurants and bars (Wiki & the Tour Guide).

The middle of Stone Street now is lined with tables used by all the restaurants for seating and is a very active area during lunch and Happy Hour time. We walked among the busy tables and looked at the menus but didn’t stop here. I had stopped earlier at Justino’s Pizzeria at 77 Pearl Street for a snack (See review on TripAdvisor). Their pizza is quite good although I think that Pranzo at 34 Water Street is better. They give you a better slice and the sauce is much spicier.

Justino's Pizza Lower Manhattan

Justino’s Pizza at 77 Pearl Street

After we left the Stone Street Historic area, we walked up Broad Street to see the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall District. This is the seat of the financial center and the capital of the financial world.

The New York Stock Exchange at 8-18 Broad Street was built in 1903 replacing the original Victorian structure which had been built in 1865. The building was designed by architect George Browne Post, who was a native New Yorker who studied architecture and civil engineering at NYU. He designed it in Second Empire design (Wiki and the Tour Guide).

Standing on Wall Street, you can see the 1903 building rise ten stories above the sidewalk. Six Corinthian columns steadily rise from a seven-bay-wide podium set between two rectangular pilasters. He complimented the six columns with symmetry of seven with a center flat arched doorway with three more on either side. The podium symmetry continues to the second store, where directly above each street-level doorway is a contrasting round-arched opening. Balustraded balconies between floors provide the classic ornamentation as do lintels with carved fruit and flowers (Architecture of New York Stock Exchange Building & Tour Guide).

new york stock exchange.jpg

New York Stock Exchange at 8-18  Broad Street

We passed the now closed Stock Exchange building and continued on to Federal Hall at 26 Wall Street. We discovered that this is not the original building but its replacement that was built in 1842.

The original Federal Hall was a Greek Revival structure completed in 1703 and served as New York’s first City Hall. It was where the Stamp Act Congress met to draft a letter to King George on opposition to the Stamp Act and after the Revolution for the Congress of the Confederation held under the Articles of Confederation. It was renamed Federal Hall when it became the first Capital of the Newly created United States in 1789 and hosted the first United States Congress. On its steps, George Washington was sworn in as the first President. That building was demolished in 1812 (Wiki & the Tour Guide).

Federal Hall.jpg

Federal Hall at 26 Wall Street

The current structure, completed in 1842 and one of the best surviving examples of neoclassical architecture in New York, was built as the U.S. Custom House for the Port of New York. Later it served as a sub-Treasury building. It is operated today by the National Park Service as a national memorial and designated the Federal Hall National Memorial (Wiki and the Tour Guide).

The statue of George Washington was designed by John Quincy Adams Ward in 1882.  Mr. Quincy Adams is an American born artist from Ohio. He trained under known artist Henry Kirk Browne and is the brother of artist Edgar Melville Ward. He moved to New York City in 1861, was elected to the National Academy of Design and was a known sculpture of historical busts and monuments (Wiki).

John Quincy Adams Ward

John Quincy Adams Ward artist

http://generalthomas.com/JQA_Ward_biography.htm

It was erected on the front steps of the building, marking the approximate site where he was inaugurated as President of the United States. Part of the original railing and balcony floor where Washington was inaugurated are on display in the memorial (Wiki).

We also looked at the original J.P. Morgan Building at 23 Wall Street or known as ‘The Corner’. The building was designed by Trowbridge & Livingston and built in 1913. It was known as the ‘House of Morgan’ so there were no signs with the Morgan name. The building was designed in the classical architecture and Morgan made sure that it was designed only four feet high (Wiki). When I asked the tour guide why, he basically said everyone knew who J. P. Morgan was and he didn’t have to prove it.

jp morgan building

JP Morgan Building Wall Street 23 Wall Street

The foundation of the building is constructed deep and strong enough in order to support a forty foot tower if it needed to be built. The company moved its operations to 60 Wall Street and the company sold the building and it has had several owners. Our tour guide said that the building was rumored to be turned into condos (Wiki and the Tour Guide).

We moved down Beaver Street towards Wall Street and our second stop of the tour at Delmonico’s restaurant at 56 Beaver Street. The restaurant has moved and changed since it was founded in 1827. The restaurant has always been since it’s founding a place of society and influence. The restaurant was first operated by the Delmonico family as a small cafe and pastry shop at 23 William Street. Later it would be considered one of the nation’s top fine dining restaurants and the birthplace of such dishes as Baked Alaska, Lobster Newberg and famous Delmonico steak. It was the first restaurant to allow patrons to order from a menu a la carte as opposed to table d’hote. It also claimed to be the first to employ a separate wine list (Wiki & the Tour Guide).

The current location of Delmonico’s was opened in 1926 by restaurateur Oscar Tucci as a speakeasy and this restaurant would continue on until 1986. It has operated in this location at different times as Delmonico’s since and has currently been open since 1998 (Wiki, Delmonico’s History and the Tour Guide).

Delmonico's.jpg

Delmonico’s at 56 Beaver Street

I found the restaurant to be very formal and a little stuffy for a tour group to visit since we were not all dressed for the occasion. The restaurant patrons were all dressed up and I had to parade through the dining room in shorts, which are not allowed in the formal dining room. We had a drink at the bar and I found it to be excellent. The service at the busy bar was friendly and very inviting and I was ready to stay for some dinner.  The bar atmosphere was very engaging and we had a nice time there. It is expensive but well worth it once (See review on TripAdvisor).

We walked down the street to The Queen Elizabeth II September 11th Garden located across the street from Hanover Square. The land around this part has been in public used since 1637 and in 1730 became known as Hanover Square in tribute to the House of Hanover. It had been the center for commerce and printing in the beginnings of New York and was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1835. The small triangled parcel was not developed into a park until 1952 and was rededicated with new landscaping until the 1970’s. It has since been redesigned again with new plantings, benches and decorations (Wiki and the Tour Guide).

It was rededicated July 6, 2010 by Queen Elizabeth II as The Queen Elizabeth II September 11th Garden in memory of the 67 British citizens that lost their lives in the September 11th attacks. Originally named the ‘British Gardens’ it was again rededicated and renamed on May 2, 2012 and the ceremony led by the Dean of Westminster Abbey which included other members of the Commonwealth nations (Wiki). It is such a nice place to just relax and the plantings are beautiful. I told the tour guide that it is a very touching place to visit.

Queen Elizabeth II Park.jpg

Queen Elizabeth II Park at Hanover Square

Our last part of the tour was a visit to India House now called 1 Hanover Square, which is located at the very end of the Stone Street Historic district. Located at the southern end of Hanover Square and facing the Queen Elizabeth II September 11th garden across the street, the building was built in 1851 and was the site of the nation’s first commodity futures exchange, the New York Cotton Exchange and was designated a National Landmark in 1977 and a New York City Landmark in 1965 (Wiki & the Tour Guide).

India House

India House at 1 Hanover Square

The structure was built out of brownstone and designed in the Italian Renaissance style by builder, developer and merchant, Richard F. Carman. It had been the headquarters of Hanover Bank and then the Cotton Exchange. Since then it has operated as a private club since 1913 and now houses restaurants (Wiki).

The main facade of the building has eight bays wide, with the main entrance occupying two bays at the center. Windows on the ground floor are tall and set in openings flanked by paneled pilasters and topped by pediment segmental arches Second floor windows are smaller, set beneath gabled pediments and their floor windows are smaller still with simpler surrounds. The building is crowned by a modillioned cornice (Wiki).

We ended the tour at the restaurant on the bottom level where some of the group stayed for dinner. I headed off to the Wonton Noodle Garden at 56 Mott Street for dinner. After a long tour outdoors and the night getting cooler, a steaming bowl of Cantonese Wonton Soup ($8.95) with a side of pan-fried dumplings ($5.00).

Wonton Noodle Garden II

Wonton Noodle Garden at 56 Mott Street

This restaurant in the middle of the heart of Chinatown is my main standby when eating in the neighborhood. Like the rest of the Manhattan, I see the traces of gentrification creeping into the area. All you have to do is look at the buildings above.

Wonton Noodle Garden.jpg

Wonton Noodle Garden’s Cantonese Wonton Soup’s (Cure All)

My message to readers, please, get off the cell phones and look around you. You are missing a lot! I have walked this neighborhood dozens of times over the years and my eyes were open by all the changes and by the beauty of the surroundings. I will print more of my travels with the Cornell Club in future blogs.

They are very interesting and a detailed perspective of New York City.

 

Places to Visit:

 

New York Stock Exchange Building

8-18 Broad Street

New York, NY  10004

https://www.nyse.com/

 

Federal Hall

26 Wall Street

New York, NY  10004

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

 

23 Wall Street

23 Wall Street

New York, NY  10004

 

India House/1 Hanover Square

New York, NY  10004

http://www.indiahouseclub.org/

 

Bowling Green Park/Charging Bull Statue/Fearless Girl Statue

Broadway & Whitehall Street

New York, NY 10004

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d1605557-Reviews-Charging_Bull_Wall_Street_Bull-New_York_City_New_York.html

 

Stone Street

New York, NY  10004

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_Street_(Manhattan)

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d105043-Reviews-Stone_Street_Historic_District-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/13138

 

The Queen Elizabeth II September 11th Garden

Hanover Square

New York, NY  10004

https://queenelizabethgarden.org/

 

Places to Eat:

 

Justino’s Pizza

77 Pearl Street

New York, NY  10004

(212) 797-9692

http://www.justinospizzeria.com

Open: Monday-Saturday-10:00am-11:59pm/Sunday-11:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d8743404-Reviews-Justino_s_Pizzeria-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Pranzo Pizza & Italian Specialties

34 Water Street

New York, NY  10014

http://www.pranzopizzapasta.com

Phone: (212) 344-8068

Fax: (212) 344-0191

Open: Monday-Thursday-8:00am-8:00pm/Friday-8:00am-7:00pm/Saturday-10:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d426152-Reviews-Pranzo-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/880

 

Delmonico’s

56 Beaver Street

New York, NY  10004

(212) 519-1144

http://www.delmonicos.com

https://delmonicos.com/

Open: Monday-Friday: 11:30am-10:00pm

Saturday:  5:00pm-10:00pm

Sunday: Closed

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d459628-Reviews-Delmonico_s-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Fraunces Tavern

54 Pearl Street

New York, NY 10004

(212) 425-1778

Open: Monday-Friday-12:00pm-5:00pm/Saturday & Sunday-11:00am-5:00pm

http://www.francestavern.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d426153-Reviews-Fraunces_Tavern_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

India House/1 Hanover Square

1 Hanover Square

New York, NY  10004

(212) 269-2323

Open: Monday-Friday-9:00am-10:00pm/Saturday & Sunday-Closed

http://www.indiahouseclub.org

 

Wonton Noodle Garden

56 Mott Street

New York, NY 10013

(212) 966-4033

http://www.wontonnoodlegarden.com

Open: Sunday-Thursday-10:00am-2:00am/Friday-9:00am-4:00am/Saturday-9:00am-4:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d2370537-Reviews-Wonton_Noodle_Garden-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

 

Chinese New Year at the Asian Grille in East Rutherford, NJ

Day One Hundred and Three: ‘Xin Nian Hao’ ‘Gong Hei Fat Choi’ or “Happy Chinese New Year”! February 2018 (Revisited February 2020)

Xin Nian Hao Everyone!

Happy Chinese New Year! (2018) & Happy New Year Again (2020)

After a long day in the Soup Kitchen (I have to stop doubling up events on days), instead of finishing the walk of the Upper East Side, I decided to head downtown to Chinatown for the first day of Chinese New Year. What a madhouse!

First off, it was a gloomy day. The clouds kept threatening rain which finally came around 4:00 pm but it did not damper everyone’s spirits. The city closed off the main streets of Chinatown, so people were able to walk around Mott, Mulberry, Bayard, Elizabeth Streets and all the side streets around the core of Chinatown.

It was a very festive afternoon of Lion Dances in front of businesses and a non-stop of silly string and firecrackers going off all over the neighborhood. It was fun watching all the kids with the help of their parents set off these long cylinders of confetti and streamers. Nothing gets lost in the translation of the holiday as it was a very diverse crowd of people enjoying the beginning of the New Year. I was able to walk around the neighborhood and watch all the families having a ball watching the lions and the musicians play music and dance in front of the businesses that requested them.

The meaning of firecrackers translates to ‘Baozhu’ or ‘exploding bamboo’ that was used in early years to scare off the evil spirits at the beginning of the New Year. It seems that there was a legend of a monster called ‘Nain’, who used to destroy homes every New Year and the use of burning bamboo used to pop to scare him away. Bamboo was replaced with the invention of fireworks. The cylinder tubes are all colored ‘red’ which is a lucky color in the Chinese culture.

I watched the Lion Dances all over Chinatown. These according to custom are to ward away evil spirits from the businesses and bring prosperity  for the New Year. There must have been over a dozen of cultural groups from all over the city hired to visit the businesses during the afternoon. It seems that the loud cymbals evict the bad and evil spirits (the picture above is the ‘Lion Dance’ from the  Chinese New Year Celebration that I ran for the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library in 2011 at the Asian Grill in East Rutherford, NJ).

I walked all over the side streets of Chinatown and stopped in Sara D. Roosevelt Park for the opening festivities of the New Year that were sponsored by Better Chinatown USA. The place was mobbed with people. All the kids were playing games or the families were socializing with one another. It was so busy that I took a walk around the neighborhood, walking through the fringes of what is left of expansion of Chinatown into the Lower East Side, which is quickly gentrifying. The Lower East Side has gotten very hip over the years.

When I rounded the corner at Hester Street, I came across Chicken V (see review on TripAdvisor) at 124C Hester Street, a small Taiwanese fried chicken place that I found out has a branch in Brooklyn. I decided to order something different and got the Chicken Omelet, which was a chicken wing stuffed with fried rice, the popcorn chicken, which was made with thigh meat. I ordinarily hate this but they did a great job with the seasoning and OFC French Fries. Everything had a salty, garlicky taste to it and the popcorn chicken I could taste a hint of ginger and garlic in it. If you like salty food this is the place for you.

Chinatown Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

I walked around the Bowery and crossed back over into the heart of Chinatown as it started to rain. It had been threatening all day and it started to pour after 4:00pm. The last of the Lion Dancers were performing outside a business on Mott Street and all the restaurants at that point were still busy with people wanting to get out of the rain. The streets were quiet but were loaded with the remains of firecracker streamers and confetti.

My last stop in Chinatown before I headed uptown was Sun Sai Gai See review on TripAdvisor & DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at 220 Canal Street, which has been my go-to place for roast pork buns ($1.00). I love this place. It is a little on the dumpy side but it is one of the best hole-in-the-wall places in Chinatown and I have always enjoyed it.

Sun Sai Gai.png

Sun Sai Gai in Chinatown at 220 Canal Street

As it poured rain, I saw the last of the people begin to leave Chinatown. To celebrate the beginning of the New Year was a lot of fun. There was a lot of energy in Chinatown. People of all ages and races were enjoying the festivities and families really were enjoying their time together.

 

Chinese New Year 2020:

In 2020, the weather was almost the same thing. The day of the Fire Cracker Festival and Lion Dance it rained and drizzled the whole day. I had to be uptown the whole morning and afternoon so it was a not a nice day to be in Chinatown.

For the parade day, the sun came out and it was really pleasant for most of the parade. With it being an election year, both Congressman Chuck Schumer and Mayor Bill DiBlasio were marching in the parade. So there was a lot of security around. The beginning of the parade had the Lion and Dragon Dances and those were really energetic. The bands really got the crowd going.

Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The Jade Society (the Asian Police Society) and the Phoenix Society (Fire Fighters and Paramedics) were out in full force. I swear the Jade Society has tripled since the last parade I went to two years ago or else they were not all out.

Then came all the floats for all the business and cultural organization. Because of the Flu pandemic going on in China and spreading all over the world, a lot of the groups were handing out literature and giving their support of the Mother Country. Some of the churches were handing out prayer pamphlets.

Chinese New Year Parade 2020 II

The Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The most heartening thing was all the little Girl and Boy Scouts from the local groups. Those kids were so cute. They looked so proud and the parents proud of their children.

The end of the parade it was all political groups and then a long line of sports cars. The parade was over in about an hour or maybe just a little longer. The one thing I did notice was that the crowd was not the same as usual. It usually is much busier in Chinatown for the parade and I could see that the gift shops had a lot Chinese poppers and firecrackers left over, more than usual. Two years ago everyone sold out by the end of the parade and there were none to be found. This year they started to discount them as soon as the parade was over.

This Chinese flu is really scaring people and I think it kept them away from Chinatown today. I have never seen the parade route so quiet or the restaurants busy but not as busy as usual this year. It has really spooked people this year.

Still for the most part is was a sunny day and as the afternoon wore down it got a little cooler. I just went around visiting my favorite snack shops like Tao Hong Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street and Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street for lunch and dessert. I swear the ‘Hipsters’ have discovered both places and most of the customers now are white. It is such a change from ten years ago where it was mostly locals.

Chinese Buns III

Don’t miss the delicious buns at Sun Sai Gai

Chi Dumpling House (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) is one of my favorite places to eat. It is really bare bones but their steamed and fried dumplings you can get eight for $3.00 and that is a steal. Their soups are really good on a cold day especially their hot and sour soup. Their noodle dishes are wonderful and the portion sizes are rather large.

Tao Hung Bakery

Tao Hung Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street

I still go to my old favorites Tao Hong Bakery 81 Chrystie Street and Sun Sai Gai at 220 Canal Street for my favorite Cream, Roast Pork and Pineapple buns. At between $1.00 to $1.50 they are well worth the money. It really warrants a trip to Chinatown.

Chi Dumpling House

Don’t miss Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street for their delicious dumplings

Even though there was a damper on the parade with the flu scare, people were in good spirits and looked like they were having a good time. That’s where the fun really is in celebrating what is positive in this crazy world.

This CBS Report is what the mood is right now:

 

(I credit CBS News for this report)

Sorry folks but that can’t keep me away from Chinatown. It will always throw my support first to small business people and restaurateurs. This why I created the sites LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com to support businesses not such in New York City but all over the Tri-State area.

Isn’t it what the New Year is all about?

Gong Hei Fat Choi!

There was an underlining problem on parade day of the Coronavirus outbreak in China and how it affected business that day. Here is a video shot later on that tells the story since Chinese New Year:

When things head back to normal, head back to Chinatown for lunch or dinner.

 

Places to Visit:

 

Chinatown New York City

All Along Mott, Canal, Bayard and Chrystie Streets and Sara Delano Roosevelt Park

Every February for the start of the Lunar New Year Festival (Started January 28th in 2020)

 

Places to Eat:

 

Chicken V

124C Hester Street

New York, NY  10002

http://www.OFCchicken.com

(718) 255-9222

Now Closed

 

Sun Sai Gai

220 Canal Street

New York, NY 10013

(212) 964-7212

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d534662-Reviews-Sun_Sai_Gai-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/115

 

Tao Hong Bakery

81 Chrystie Street

New York, NY  10002

(212) 219-0987

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15083570-Reviews-Tao_Hung_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/750

 

Chi Dumpling House

77 Chrystie Street

New York, NY  10002

Telephone: (212) 219-8850

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4277315-Reviews-C_L_Dumpling_House-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905 Sunday-Saturday-10:00am-10:00pm

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/727

 

 

Dancing of the Giglio East Harlem

Day Eighty-Four: The Feast of Our Lady of Carmel and the dancing of the Giglio with the Giglio Society of East Harlem and walking Randalls-Ward Island August 13th, 2017

 

I have been waiting to come to the Feast of Our Lady of Carmel in East Harlem to see the dancing of the Giglio for months since I had finished the walk in the neighborhood. I was not sure of what to expect since there really are not many Italians still living in the neighborhood. The church I am sure still attracts people from all over the city and I could see that my the members of the lift team.

It was a glorious day for the feast. Warm, sunny and no humidity. You could not have asked for a better day to be outside. The Dance of the Giglio started at 1:00pm and wanting to get into the city early, I took the 10:00am bus into the city. Who knew that I would get uptown two hours early.

I started my day with a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich at Blue Sky (now Harlem Taste) Deli at the corner of 110th and First Avenue, home to the famous ‘Chopped Cheese Sandwich’ (see review on TripAdvisor & DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.wordpress.com). I swear, I don’t know what it is about this little hole in the wall deli but the food here is so good! The sandwich was one of the best breakfast sandwiches I had eaten outside my absolute favorite one, the Sausage McMuffin with Cheese at McDonald’s. The sandwich was loaded with freshly cooked eggs, turkey bacon and American cheese. It was put on a hoagie roll and then pressed. For $4.00, it was a steal.

Blue Sky Deli.png

Blue Sky-Harlem Taste Deli

I took my sandwich and sat in Jefferson Park as I have had many times with my lunch and watched the world go by. A lot has changed since March and April. The park was in full swing and all over the place people were playing soccer, baseball, handball or swimming in their giant pool. It was a perfect day to be outside and relax.

All over the park, there were all sorts of birthday parties and family barbecues going on. Families really use this park and it was nice to see multi generations eating together. As I have said before, it is nice to see people socializing without a cell phone glued to their hands. There were lots of balloons and decorations and the boom of Spanish music to entertain them. Its fun to sit and watch people have a good time.

The Feast of My Lady of Carmel started around 1:00pm but the dance started late and everyone finally started to gather around the Giglio around 2:15pm. I give these men and women a lot of credit. The Giglio looked really heavy considering it was the structure itself plus about five musicians and the lead singer. One of the trumpet players was a little ‘zaftig’ to say the least. I will not be participating in this anytime soon.

The program started off with a prayer the patron saint, St. Anthony:

(from the prayer sheet):

Sant’Antonio of Padua: “The Wonder Worker”

St. Anthony is know as “The Wonder Worker” for the many miracles and conversions attributed to him. Although quiet and unassuming he was regarded as a sensational preacher in his time. A Franciscan priest and professor of theology, he gave up teaching to be assigned to preach all over Italy, attracting huge crowds wherever he went.

St. Anthony is often depicted as holding the infant Jesus as it is said that the Christ child appeared to him in visions.

He is known as being of particular help in retrieving lost articles because of a story in which a book of psalms that had been stolen was returned due to his intercession.

He died June 13th at the age of 36. He was canonized the following year and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.

The Giglio Society of East Harlem’s roots can be traced to a town several miles from Nola called Brusciana. The annual dancing of the Giglio began in 1800’s inspired by Francisco Vivolo’s vow to St. Anthony, the patron Saint of Brusciana. Francisco vowed to dance the Giglio annually if St. Anthony would help his gravely ill son recover from a very serious illness. The prayers were answered and the dancing of the Giglio in honor of St. Anthony began in Brusciana and still continues today.

Immigrants from Brusciana continue the feast and uphold this grand tradition brought to this country by our forefathers. Our objective is to pass onto our children, as was done with us, the tradition of o’Giglio, truly one of the greatest wonders of the world!”

After the prayer was over, the crowd went wild and the ceremony began. These handlers really worked hard as they broke several boards lifting this structure. It was amazing as some of them were smoking cigars or drinking a beer while they were doing it. The guys all looked like military, construction workers, police and firemen. Some did their job with ease, others looked like it was going to be a long day.

After the prayer, their master of ceremony, Jimmy Alleva , sang a few songs in Italian and I swear that his guy had the most beautiful singing voice. I read his bio online and it seems that he sings in feasts all over the tri-state area. Even though the guy is self-taught, you would swear he is a classically trained opera singer.

After he sang two songs in Italian, he ‘brought the house down’ with the crowd and there was a massive applause . Talk about bringing you closer to God when someone can touch a crowd like this. People were giving him ovations. Then came the lifts.

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The Dance of the Giglio 2017

Don’t miss this video of the feast

Like I said, some of these guys were experts and did it with ease and others were really struggling. They lifted that Giglio all over the neighborhood, up and down the street then to the church and back and then the Ladies of the Giglio did there lift and credit to all the women that lifted it along with the men because these ladies held their own. The Ladies of the Giglio did there lift with some of the men and these women were strong. They did a great job as well.

The lifts of the Giglio went on for quite awhile being dedicated to various families who must have made donations to the church. After that it was festival time. One of the announcers said that the feast just keeps getting bigger every year and you could tell by the crowd that more and more people are venturing back into this neighborhood for the afternoon. The place was packed.

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The Giglio

The best part was the fresh zeppole that were cooked right in front of me. There were not that many food vendors on the block so they had control of the whole crowd. For $5.00 for six, these zeppole were some of the best I have had. They came right out of the fryer and loaded with powdered sugar. I devoured those fast.

Zeppole.jpg

Zeppole

I walked around the rest of the feast, looking at the small rides and the games of chance. This feast is only two blocks long but a lot of people are packed into this small space. The band kept playing for the rest of the afternoon and groups of families sat under tents on the sidewalks catching up with old friends and members of the church.

It is going to be interesting the fate of this festival in an ever gentrifying neighborhood that has switched from Italian to Spanish to Hipster. The neighborhood is changing fast even in the time I have walked it. More and more is under scaffolding.

I stayed for about two hours and then decided to walk around the neighborhood. My walk took me past the Jefferson playground, down FDR Drive to the dreaded East River Houses (they still have not finished that playground facing the drive) and I walked across the pedestrian bridge to Randalls-Ward Island and walked across the explore the island. I walked the entire length of the island and it took about two hours.

Randalls-Ward Island is a island in the East River bend off Hell Gate and is connected to Manhattan by two pedestrian bridges one on 105th Street and the other on 125th Street plus the bridges leading you to the South Bronx. The island is part of New York County which is where Manhattan is located but it is truly one of those hidden ‘gems’ of the city that most people don’t know exist. I never knew it was there. When I crossed over the pedestrian bridge, I never knew of islands and their dark past. You would never know it from the new playgrounds and ball fields.

From what I had read online, the islands were once separated by a stream called ‘Little Hellgate’ that was filled in years ago to create one island. The reconfiguring of land that you see all over Manhattan, like in Marble Hill and in Battery City. The islands were originally used for farming by the American Indians, Dutch and English but it was during the Civil War, they started being used for a dumping ground.

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Ward-Randall Island

At various times up until World War II, the islands housed a potter’s field, homeless shelters, a ‘Insane Asylum’, small pox ward and a dumping ground for orphans. They were considered ‘islands for the undesirables’ and most of the city’s problems were shipped to the island, similar to the role that Riker’s Island plays today.

The Ward on Ward-Randall’s Island

You would never know it now with all the new playgrounds, picnic sites, ball and soccer fields, concession stands and thank God, new bathrooms and water fountains. When I got to the island, everything was in full swing on a beautiful sunny day.

You thought the parties were in full swing in Jefferson Park, you should come to Randalls-Ward Island. All over the edges of the island were barbecues with meat sizzling on the grill, birthday parties with balloons with pink and blue all over the place and Spanish music blasting over their heads.  These were not small parties but big family get-togethers. Its nice to see people having such a good time.

Even the ‘hipsters’ are discovering the island mostly hanging around that southern part of the island that faces the Upper East Side and the rapidly developing Queen’s waterfront. Theirs is the quieter section closer to the pedestrian bridge with the better vantage points over-looking the new ‘hipster’ enclaves.

Walking the island took me close to two hours as I walked through the parks and ball fields and under the bridges that crisscrossed the island. There were many natural flower gardens on the northwestern part of the island overlooking Astoria Park on the other side of the river. The Wildflower Meadow was in full bloom and was attracting all sorts of butterflies and honeybees. As you walked in there were all sorts of benches to relax and just watch the view.

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The entrance to Ward-Randall’s Island

The island is still has remnants of its past. I passed the water treatment plant, a much needed addition to an ever growing city that seemed quiet that day and the FDNY Training Academy which was closed for the afternoon. You could see from the street the size of the academy and how much training these guys really get. It is isolated from the rest of the island.

On the most Northern part of the island , the police have their back offices and training facility and in between both of these are ball fields in which many leagues were playing that day. The nice part was when following the paths there were plenty of new bathrooms and places to just relax as well as snack bars where the prices were not unreasonable.

The New York Psychiatric Center still sits on the northern part of the island like a fortress. The ironic part of this is that it is surrounded by paths of flowers, marshes and lagoons that have been built around the island to clean the water. The Water’s Edge Garden sits just past the Center and offers the nicest views of the new Harlem being built.

.Ward-Randalls Island IV

The New York Psychiatric Center

The western part of the island has the nicest walking paths by the water and many different gardens that are in full bloom. I passed the Icahn Stadium, where a small game was going on and could hear the cheers in the background. I kept wondering why such a great set of parks was not being better taken advantage of by the entire city.

I rounded the path back to the pedestrian bridge and while walking across tried to spot the ‘spotters’ that everyone talked about at the East River Houses. I saw a lot of open windows on the top of the complex but not a sole in sight. I will avoid this place in the future now.

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East River Houses

I walked back to the Q subway on East 96th Street going full circle since my day at Coney Island and took it down to Little Italy downtown. I had such a craving for Italian food that needed to be filled.

Little Italy now is just three blocks by one block and its barely that anymore. Even in between the famous restaurants that still exist, new boutiques are opening. The area is now squeezed into Mulberry Street from Canal to Broome Streets with a smidgen of restaurants up to East Houston, the original border of the neighborhood. Anything above Broome Street is not longer ‘Little Italy’ but ‘NoLiTa’ (North of Little Italy).

Little Italy

Little Italy Manhattan

This area has been becoming trendy for about twenty years. Most of the old Italian businesses have closed by the late nineties and have become boutiques and non-Italian restaurants. If my grandfather who was raised here had a crystal ball and had owned one of these buildings, we would have been set.

There is even a change from the ‘red sauce’ restaurants of the past to more sophisticated Italian dining leaving the old restaurants to the tourists. One by one they are closing down or changing hands.  It shows in the food quality.

I went to the Grotta Azzurra at 177 Mulberry Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor), where I have been eating for years and the food quality and service have gone way down. While I ordered my dinner, the table next to me the guest was fighting with his waiter on a glass of wine that he had ordered that he was not happy with and the waiter was giving him attitude. Not smart in an economy like this.

Grotta Azzura

Grotta Azzura in Little Italy

The food was mediocre at best that night. The fried Mozzarella was cooked perfectly on the outside and not cooked on the inside and I had to send it back. The second batch was better. The manicotti was good and the sauce was decent but the runner who served me the dish dumped so much Parmesan cheese on top all I could taste was the cheese. It was such a waste. The service was good but not great. All of this reflected in the amount of people eating there that night. Most of the other restaurants were much busier than here.

I walked back down Canal Street to the E subway and back to Port Authority to go home. I must have walked five miles today but got to see so much of what makes this city great. The cultural festivals of certain parts of the city have not died yet and still thrive with more attention from outlets like YouTube. It was an interesting afternoon into my own family’s past.

Another great video of that wonderful afternoon:

 

Places to Visit:

 

East Harlem Giglio Society

The Feast takes place every August

Home

About Us

East Harlem is accessible by subway on the Subway 6

 

Ward-Randalls Island

East River Manhattan, NY

You can access it by highway or by walking the bridge at First Avenue and 105th Street

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/wards-island-park/history

 

Jefferson Park

2180 First Avenue

New York, NY  10029

(212) 639-9675

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-10:00pm

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/thomas-jefferson-park

 

 

 

Places to Eat:

 

Blue Sky (Harlem Taste) Deli (Haiji’s)

2135 First Avenue

New York, NY 10029

(646) 682-7488

Open: 24 hours (currently)

https://www.instagram.com/hajjis110/?hl=en

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12328617-Reviews-Blue_Sky_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/74

 

Grotta Azzura

177 Mulberry Street

New York, NY  10013

(212) 925-8775

http://bluegrotta.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d424309-Reviews-Grotta_Azzurra_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Blogger Justin Watrel in front of street art

My Walk in Manhattan: my walking experience around the whole island. I started this project on Father’s Day, June 2015

Happy Father’s Day!

(This project is dedicated with much love to my father, Warren George Watrel, who still inspires me!)

Hello and Welcome to ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’, an extensive  project to walk the entire island of Manhattan. My name is Justin Watrel and I will be your guide in exploring the island of Manhattan, searching every nook and cranny of the island for the unusual, the usual and the in between.

‘Walking the Island of Manhattan’ may not be terribly original as there are about four other people doing the project at the same time, but this project is different in the way I see the island. Not rushing through to prove I have walked it but to see what these neighborhoods are all about and what is there to discover and enjoy.

For all you ‘Manhattanites’ who think you know your island, I will show you things that you have never seen and places you have never gone, restaurants you have never tried and historical sites and museums you never knew existed. Maybe just a few blocks from where you live. As the son of two “Brooklynites’, I have traveled around the city a lot since 1969, my first time in the City when my parents took me to Chinatown to Hunan Gardens, a Chinese restaurant on Mott Street. I ended up there for eight birthdays until it closed in the early 2000’s.

Chinatown Parade

Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown

“My Walk in Manhattan” is a  project to walk the entire island of Manhattan in New York City from top to bottom from the beginning of the Summer of 2015 until I finish the walk. Manhattan is 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide and covers a total area 23.7 square miles.  Along the way of walking the streets of Manhattan, I will be walking into parks, museums, restaurants and looking at the architecture of the neighborhoods and the buildings in them.

The Island of Manhattan

My soon to be path around the Island of Manhattan

I have found that people miss a lot when they walk with their cellphones and only look down at it. When you look up, you see the true beauty of the City. You see the stone work of old brownstones, you see small boutiques off the beaten track and can indulge in those hole in the wall restaurants that are usually found by foreign tourists. Nothing is more interesting then seeing a stone face on a building staring back at you, a tiny pocket park that residents created out of a garbage dump and that small entrepreneur trying to create a vision.

611 Broadway Cable Building II

The Cable Building at 631 Broadway

This project was inspired by many things. My major inspiration for this project follows the recent passing of my father, Warren George Watrel. My dad and I loved to walk around the city and spend the day at various museums, walking around Central Park and the Conservatory, taking the subway to try new restaurants in Chinatown or Little Italy or any new place I had read about in the Village Voice (my Bible when looking for things to do on weekends).

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Columbus Circle on the West Side

My father was a ‘Brooklynite’ from Williamsburg (long before it was ‘Hipster Central’, he would have been amused) and loved the city, so this voyage is dedicated to him. Having watched the movie “The Way” with Martin Sheen, we look for inspiration in our travels  and try to find the answers to why something happens the way it does. Walking to explore does that.

I was my father’s caregiver after his illness hit him and I continued my trips into Manhattan as my father got better. It was the inspiration to this site’s sister site, ‘BergenCountyCaregiver.com’. After he passed in 2014, I wanted to spend Father’s Day doing something different yet do something that we would have done together. Thus started the first walk in Marble Hill.

Marble Hill VI

My first Day in Marble Hill, Manhattan

Another inspiration was a recent article in New York Magazine entitled “Which New York is Yours? A Fierce Preservationist and a Pro-Development Blogger Debate” in which the author Justin Davidson asks about the disappearance of New York’s Character. “What does that character actually consist of? If we did make an all-out effort to preserve it, how would we know what to protect?” How much is the city changing? I have worked off and on in New York City since 1988 and the answer is in some parts of Manhattan it is night and day. Could you imagine walking in Bryant or Tompkins Square Parks in 1990?

I did and they were very different places back then. With the changing Zoning Laws and gentrification of many neighborhoods, its not the city of 1970’s movies. What I am looking for are those unique little pocket parks that we pass, those statues of people we have no clue who they are and those historic plaques of places gone by and people we don’t know.

Astor Row Houses

Astor Row Houses in Harlem

Another are the books, ‘Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its Soul’ by Jeremiah Moss and ‘The Death and Life of the Great American City’ by Jane Jacobs. How do cities keep progressing and changing? How does change effect a city and what direction are we going in? Does the Island of Manhattan have to be all luxury or can it be mixed to help keep the creativity alive and keep innovation going? Do we want the big bad 70’s again or the luxury brand of the 2010’s and 20’s? How is it impacting and changing the city? How much has Manhattan and the rest of the boroughs changed with the rezoning of the city under the Bloomberg Administration. This can also be looked at in the documentaries “Gut Renovation” and “My Brooklyn”.

The last inspiration was my doctor. He said I have to lose ten pounds. I am hardly over-weight but like many people he feels that I will be healthier if I lose the weight and keep it off. I want to see how a walk like this tones the body.

Bowling Green Park

Bowling Green Park in Lower Manhattan

I know many people before have walked the entire length of Manhattan while others have or are attempting to walk the every  block in the city, mine has a more personal reason. To really see the city I love from the ground up and explore parts of the island that I have never ventured to and see what I find there. Along the way, I want to see how the city changes while I am taking the walk. This is not the “Christopher Columbus” attitude most people are taking when exploring the neighborhoods but more honoring those residents who are trying to make the City better.

My project also includes stops at various points of interest and to get a better feel for all the neighborhoods, I am walking both sides of the street to get a better look at the buildings in each neighborhood and what defines the character of a neighborhood. I get the impression from some of the readers of Mr. Davidson’s article and from comments on the Internet that Manhattan is some “playground of the wealthy that is being gentrified to the hilt and soon no one will be able to afford any part of Manhattan”. Like in any place, there are people struggling everyday to survive in New York and like every city in the country, people are moving back in droves and want a quality of life for them and their families.

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Delacorte Clock in Central Park

I have now expanded this site to three other blogs, ‘VisitingaMuseum’ (VisitingaMuseum..com), which features all the historical sites, community gardens and small museums and galleries I find in not just Manhattan but throughout the rest of the NYC and beyond in the suburbs.  ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC’ (DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.wordpress.com), where I feature wonderful little restaurants, bodegas and bakeries that I find along the way. The one requirement is that the meal is around $10.00 and under (for us budget minded people). “LittleShoponMainStreet” (LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) where I find unique and creative stores in Manhattan and locally whose merchandising, displays, merchandise and service stand out in an age of Amazon. This harks back to a time when shopping was enjoyable and not a chore.

So to readers who will be following me on the journey walking through Manhattan, I hope you enjoy trip walking by my side!

Red Hook Trip IV

Me in Red Hook, Brooklyn with Street Art

This project is dedicated to my father, Warren George Watrel, with lots of love and many wonderful adventures and memories to keep me company as I take “My Walk in Manhattan”.

Dad & I

My dad, Warren and I at a Grandparent’s Day Brunch in 2013