I came across Cheesy Pizza when visiting Manhattan Valley/Bloomingdale neighborhood (the very Upper Upper West Side) when walking down Broadway for my blog ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. What attracted me to the restaurant was a big sign in the window, ’10 meals for $5.00 +tax’, so I had to investigate. I am glad I stopped in to check it out, the food is wonderful and flavorful and the service is always friendly.
I tried the Personal Cheese Pizza with a Coke one afternoon ($5.00) and was very pleased with the small fresh pizza that was made expressively for me. It was a nice size eight inch pizza with four nice slices, gooey high quality cheese and a very tasty tomato…
I came across SheShe Pizzeria on my walk around Manhattan Valley (Between 110th Street-96th Street and Riverside Drive and Central Park West) for my blog, “MywalkinManhattan” when I was walking Columbus Avenue. This little ‘gem’ has one of the best lunch specials in the neighborhood. I am surprised that the Columbia students have not discovered this restaurant.
I stopped in for lunch twice and was very impressed that such a good quality lunch can be had for $5.00 (tax included). The first day of my ‘walk’ in the neighborhood, I tried the personal pizza with a Coke. It was delicious. The owner makes the pizza fresh for you and it comes out piping hot and gooey from…
When I finally finished walking Sutton and Beekman Places, I finally decided to take the long walk down Broadway that I had planned for two years. As you can see by the blog, I like to take one neighborhood or section of the City at a time and concentrate on getting to know it. What is the history of the neighborhood? What is there now? Who are the shop keepers and the restaurant owners? What is the neighborhood association doing to improve the area? I like to become part of the neighborhood when I walk around it.
But recently I have noticed people on the Internet have been posting that they walked the entire length of Broadway and bragged about it like they were ‘performing brain surgery’. So I put aside my next walk and decided to see what the fuss was about walking up and down Broadway. I am not sure about everyone else but it was a long trip that took a little over eight hours and I highly recommend the exercise. It was a lot of fun and I felt terrific afterwards. The walk goes by very quickly.
I got to visit neighborhoods that I had not seen in about two to three years. The most striking thing I had discovered especially walking through Harlem and Washington Heights is how many of the old businesses I had either passed or had eaten at had closed. Just like the rest of the City, these areas are going through a lot of change and are being gentrified. It seems like the college campus neighborhoods are leading the way especially around Columbia’s new campus above 125th Street and SUNY between 145th Street to 130th Street. The shifts in neighborhoods are changing very fast and more and more buildings are under scaffolding or being knocked down and replaced.
Since the walk down Broadway from 242nd Street to Bowling Green Park is so extensive, I will not go into the intense detail of historical sites and parks along the way. More detail can be found on my sister sights, VisitingaMuseum.com, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com. On these three sites I will discuss more on each site and a more detailed history. More information on each neighborhood can be found section by section of Manhattan on my blog, MywalkinManhattan.com.
With the COVID-1 pandemic going on especially the months from March to July 2020 when the City started to reopen for business, I wanted to see how Manhattan has changed in just six months and the findings were pretty shocking. It was like someone put Manhattan into a time machine and brought us back to 1989 or 1990. I felt like I went through a time warp.
Now New York City admittingly was having its problems with the cost of apartments and rents on stores but this is something different. The mood of the City has changed from optimism to walking the streets being scared again. I have not seen this since the Dinkin’s Administration when it was dangerous to walk the streets during the day and night and all the racial problems in Crown Heights. It just seems that the progress of the last thirty years has been wiped out in a few months. I was pretty shocked at the changed I saw while walking down Broadway.
The History of Broadway:
Broadway itself as an Avenue has a very interesting history. Broadway is the English-language literal translation of the Dutch name, ‘Brede-wey’. Broadway was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail that was carved into brush of Manhattan by the Native American inhabitants. ‘Wickquasgeck means “birch-bark country” in Algonquian language. The trail originally snaked through swamps and rocks along the length of Manhattan island (Wiki).
Manhattan in Colonial Times
When the Dutch arrived, the trail became the main road through the island with the colony of Nieuw Amsterdam at the southern tip. The word ‘Brede-wey’ was translated when the British took possession of the island they changed the name to ‘Broadway’. Known in the past as ‘Broadway Street’, ‘Kingsbridge Road’ and ‘Bloomingdale Road’ in parts around the island, it officially became ‘Broadway’ in 1899 when the whole street from the top of Manhattan to the bottom was named for one long road (Wiki).
The entire length of Broadway through Manhattan from Inwood to the Battery is 13 miles and the length in the Bronx is 2 miles. There is an additional 18 miles that runs through Westchester County all the way to Sleepy Hollow, NY where it ends. I just concentrated on the subway route from the 242nd Street Subway exit to the Bowling Green at the tip of Manhattan.
The walks down Broadway:
I started my mornings in 2019 and 2020 at 5:30am getting up and stretching. The sun shined in my room and that was a good start to the day. The weather was going to be in the high 70’s with a touch of clouds and the weather really cooperated. I got into New York City at 8:15am and started my day with breakfast at my favorite deli in the Garment District, 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli (or Juniors AM-PM Deli as it also known by (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com)
What I love about 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli is the generous portions at a very fair price. I started my day with a French Toast platter ($4.99). I had four very nice sized slices of French Toast that were nicely caramelized and just a hint of cinnamon. On my second time on the walk, I ate here again ordering one of their Hungry Man Hero’s ($9.75), which is three eggs, potatoes, ham, bacon and sausage on a soft hero roll with mayo. Ladened with calories yes but taste wise wonderful. It had all the calories and carbs for a 15 mile walk.
It is always nice to grab one of the stools and eat by the window and watch the world go by. Just remember to get here early before all the construction workers from the Hudson Yards come over for their half hour union break. Then it really gets busy.
9th Avenue AM-PM Deli
After breakfast, it was off to Times Square to take the Number One Subway up to 242nd Street-Van Cortland Park stop to start the walk. Manhattan actually starts lower than that but on such a nice day, I thought it would be nice to start at the very top of the subway route.
On the trip to Van Cortlandt Park in 2020, the subway was practically empty. There were about five of us on the car and the funny thing was that people sat near one another on an empty car. So much for socially distancing from people. They all sat near me!
I had not been to the Van Cortlandt House Museum (See VisitingaMuseum.com and TripAdvisor for my reviews) since right after the holidays to see the house decorations and not seen the park ever in the warmer months.
Van Cortlandt House Museum in Van Cortlandt Park
I got to my destination at 9:00am and had to go to the bathroom. What is nice about Van Cortlandt Park is that the public bathrooms are right near the subway exit and there is another set right next to the Van Cortlandt House Museum so that is covered when you enter the neighborhood.
Make sure to take a bathroom break now because the options get slimmer until about 207th Street at the Ann Loftus Playground. The bathrooms were even cleaner in 2020 with new park regulations for COVID-19 so the hand sanitizers were all full and the hand blowers were fixed. That was nice.
I started my adventure by walking into the park and visiting the museum grounds. Van Cortlandt Park is a beautiful park that was once the Van Cortlandt estate. The last time I had been here was to tour the house for Christmas and to see the decorations. The house is much nicer in the Summer months with the gardens in bloom. The house was closed when I got to the park so I just walked around the grounds to stretch a bit and admire the foliage. It was nice to see the trees with leaves on them and the gardens surrounding the house were in full bloom (the house is closed for COVID-19 as well for touring).
Van Cortlandt Park
Don’t miss when exiting the park to stop and see Memorial Grove, a small section of the park dedicated to 21 servicemen who gave their lives in World War. There are twenty-one oak trees that were planted by the graves which are now fully grown. It is a somber but quiet place to reflect on what these men gave for our country.
Memorial Grove Park inside Van Cortlandt Park
Also, take a peek at the statue of General Josiah Porter, a Civil War hero who is memorialized just outside the entrance to Van Cortlandt Mansion. This elegant statue was created by artist William Clarke Nobel in 1902. He was commissioned by the National Guard Association of New York to create the statue and it was placed in front of the parade grounds inside Van Cortlandt Park.
General Porter lead the 22nd Regiment of the National Guard of New York during the Civil War . His contributions to the war effort helped the North win. After the war, he had been promoted to Colonel in 1869 and then was promoted again 1886 to Major General, the highest ranking position in the New York National Guard (NYCParks.org).
General Josiah Porter in front of the Van Cortlandt Mansion
This is the reason why I started at the Van Cortlandt Mansion. To the see the condition of statues along the route of Broadway. There are so many historical monuments on the way down that I wanted to note them in the updated blog.
Once I left the park, I started the walk on the west side of Broadway and the plan was to walk the west side the first day and then the east side the second time so that I could see the buildings along the way and see what restaurants had opened, closed and what looked interesting. Plus where to find public bathrooms along the way. This was the interesting part of the walk was trying to find bathrooms when you needed them.
Since I have visited most of the neighborhoods already from 59th Street up to the tip of Inwood and wrote about historical sites, buildings, gardens and museums that I have visited along the way in other blogs, I won’t be mentioning these in as much detail as you can see them in other entries.
I will refer to the other sites DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com, VisitingaMuseum.com and other entries of MywalkinManhattan.com for more details to read on each neighborhood.
Also to make the walk more enjoyable and include all the wonderful places to visit and see along the way, I will be blending both days experiences into one blog so I can make stopping points that visitors should take time to see. Both walks took just over eight hours and please watch the humidity. There was a big difference doing this walk in 70 degree weather versus 85 degree weather with humidity.
I needed more liquids in me and more time to sit down. suggestion after four trips down this route is two water bottles frozen the night before. This way they melt on route and you always have cold water until you hit the next park. This makes all the walking easier. Still it was great exercise and you will never be bored.
When I passed the entrance of Van Cortlandt Park by Van Cortlandt Avenue, another statue at the entrance of the park caught my eye. It was of a coyote guarding the front entrance. It seems that coyotes were wild back then and are still being seen today in the park system.
The statue known as “Major Coyote” is a symbol of coyote spottings in the park as late as 1995. This statue guards the main entrance and gardens of the park.
The Coyote Plaque
Once I left Van Cortlandt Park, I walked through Twin Oaks Square, a small park outside the park which is a nicely landscaped. It is picturesque and looking at from the street gives a beautiful entrance way to the park.
I continued walking down through the commercial district of the Bronx along the Broadway corridor which is loaded with chain stores and malls of all sorts. So much for people saying the Bronx is dead. There was so much shopping going on that you never had to leave for the suburbs to find a chain store. This part of the walk was still vibrant proving that the chain stores still have the staying power.
At each subway stop station I did notice clusters of small family run businesses and here you can find some interesting restaurants and pizzerias. There are a lot of family run bakeries as well but none that stood out. The fact that the area was still so vibrant in 2020 showed the resilience of the area.
When you reach the edge of Marble Hill (the Northern most part of Manhattan), you will pass the Marble Hill Houses. I had more whistles and yells when I passed the projects on my many trips in the neighborhood. I am not sure what about me screams cop. Even so as I walked in the front walks of the houses I noticed that the residents were growing gardens that were part of the ‘Outer Seed Project’, a program of growing crops on the projects lawns. I thought it will be interesting when everything gets harvested.
It was when you will cross the bridge at 225th Street in the Bronx to the tip of Manhattan in Inwood is where it all starts to change as you enter the northern Columbia University campus and pass the football stadium.
The Columbia University ‘C’ when you exit Marble Hill and go over the bridge to the Island of Manhattan
The interesting part of this part of Inwood is that on tip of Manhattan is nothing at the end of it. Here we have bus stations, garage trucks and delivery vans. This is one of the most commercial parts of Manhattan I have ever seen outside parts of the Garment District. The area has been rezoned so there will be a lot more changes up here in the future. Once you cross the bridge from the Bronx, you feel the difference in the neighborhoods depending on what side of Broadway you are on.
Crossing the bridge means that you have entered Columbia University territory and to the right is Columbia Stadium which is pretty much shut down this time of year. There were some football players on the field but the Ivy League season starts later so it was not that busy. On my second trip down the east side of Broadway, I made two pit stops in Inwood past the stadium that I think tourists and residents alike should see. During my trip pass the college in 2020, everything is locked tight. Columbia University’s football season I believe has been cancelled.
Still there are a lot of sites to see around Inwood Hill Park. The first is Muscato Marsh at 575 West 218th Street (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com)right behind Columbia Stadium that faces the shores of Marble Hill. This interesting marsh is one of the few in the City and one of the only ones in Manhattan that I know of and it is a great place to just sit and relax.
Muscato Marsh at 575 West 218th Street
The Muscato Marsh is right next to the Columbia Boathouse where their rowing team set their boats off and right next to the Columbia Football stadium. On a sunny morning or afternoon it is a nice place to just sit back and watch the boaters and people on jet ski’s zoom by. It is nice to just sit by the flowers and relax. There were a lot of local residents relaxing in the park on all afternoons that I visited.
If you want to walk a little further into Inwood Park, visit the Shorakkopoch Rock the place where it has been said that Peter Minuet had bought the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans. This is where a three hundred year old tulip tree had once stood and legend stated that the event had taken place under a tulip tree in clearing on the island. No one is too sure if this is the right place but to really understand the history of Manhattan. this is the spot where to begin.
Shorakkopoch Rock the site of the purchase of Manhattan Island by Peter Minuet
On the way of exploring Broadway, I followed the path of artwork by artist Nicolas Holiber and his bird sculptures that lined Broadway similar to the art by Joy Brown and Bernadette Myers. So traveling from 165th Street to 59th Street searching for bird artwork. There were still a few of the sculptures still up during the Summer of 2020 but no one seemed to notice them.
As I left Inwood Park, I watched as kids participating in Summer camps were playing games and running around in 2019. Parts of the park were closed to reseeding so you can see that money was being put into the park and renovations were starting.
As I walked down Broadway the few times I have visited the area since my initial walk in 2015, I have noticed so many businesses open and close which is almost a epidemic all over Manhattan. Broadway for almost the entire length is no different. I had recently read an article about Borough President Gale Brewer walking the length of Broadway in Manhattan and saying that about 200 store fronts were empty. This is not good and is showing what is going on not just in the economy but how the landlords are beginning to gouge small businesses with rent increases. So many small Dominican businesses I have watched close to be replaced by Hipster restaurants who are also not making it with these rent increases.
In the Summer of 2020, what a difference a year makes. The COVID-19 pandemic and the stalling of the economy has changed the neighborhoods along Broadway even more. I have never so many businesses close along the route both Mom & Pop and chain stores alike. It looks almost like the Upper West Side of the early 1990’s with all the empty store fronts and a lot more homeless milling around the area.
Still there are many businesses that are thriving along the Broadway corridor and a lot of great restaurants to stop and visit along the way. Even after a big breakfast, I needed to take snack breaks along the way and the restaurants in the Washington Heights area are reasonable and have great travel food.
My first stop after visiting the Muscato Marsh was Twin Donut at 5099 Broadway (currently closed during the COVID-19 pandemic) for a donut and a bathroom break. You will need to know which public bathrooms are good along the way and for the price of a donut is was well worth the visit. Their donuts are around a $1.75 depending on the type but go for one of their jelly or custard filled. They are really good. This is one of the first places I visit during the Cornell/Columbia Football games.
As you are traveling down Broadway, take some time to walk the side streets into the heart of ‘Little Dominica’, Inwood’s Dominican community of stores, restaurants and bakeries. The first stop should be walking down 207th Street to the subway stop on 10th Avenue. While the street is full of all sorts of restaurants, stop at the street vendors for fresh juice and pastilitos, the Dominican version of the empanadas. These usually run about $1.00. There are all sorts of street vendors selling their wares along the sidewalks. On my second trip down I stopped at a vendor for fresh chicken pastilitos and there is nothing like them when they are just out of the fryer.
As I traveled through Inwood, I stopped at the Dyckman Family Farmhouse (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), which is the oldest home on the Island of Manhattan. The Dyckman Farmhouse was built in 1785 and was once part of a 250 acre that stretched to the tip of Inwood. The house now sits on a bluff overlooking Broadway and Washington Heights on about an acre of land. The house is still impressive to walk through and when you have time, take the formal walking tour of the home and hear about the history of how the farm worked and about the Dyckman family (the site is currently closed during COVID-19).
The Dyckman Family Farmhouse at 4881 Broadway
As you pass the Dyckman House and walk south also take a side trip down Dyckman Avenue to visit more Dominican restaurants, bakeries and stores from Broadway to Nagle Avenue. There are some interesting places to have a snack but again check out the street vendors first especially on the weekends when the weather is nice. More people are out walking around.
When you cross Dyckman Street, Ann Loftus Playground at 4746 Broadway (named after a local community leader) will be to the right and there are nice public bathrooms and water fountains here. There are also benches under shade trees to sit under and on a warm day, their are vendors selling Dominican ices for $1.00. Go for the mango/cherry or the rainbow. On a hot day, they are very refreshing.
Ann Loftus Playground at 4746 Broadway
Ann Loftus Playground is part of the extensive Fort Tyron Park that runs from Riverside Drive to Broadway from Dyckman Street to 190th Street. If you want to take a walk through the park, not only are there beautiful views of the Hudson River along the stone paths but it leads up to The Cloisters Museum at 99 Margaret Corbin Drive which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that features Medieval Art including the ‘Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries.
The Cloisters and Fort Tyron Park
The park also has many colorful flower gardens and paths along the river with amazing views. There is a lot of walking up and down hills in Fort Tyron Park but trust me the views are breathtaking and the paths lead to amazing gardens and lawns. There are also nice public bathrooms to stop at here. When I visited the park in 2020, the NYC Parks Department has issued new cleanliness standards for the bathrooms so they were much cleaner on this trip with soap and working hand blowers. I would find this in all bathrooms along the route.
As you leave the park and continue walking down Broadway, you will be in the heart of Washington Heights so on a warm day expect to see people sitting on the benches socializing, playing checkers and dominoes and listening to music. There is a lot of life on these sidewalks.
As you pass Fort Tyron Park, take a peak at the street art work inside the 190th Street Station and take some time to walk the corridor. It is its own museum in constant change and the street taggers do some interesting work.
The subway station at 190th Street
When walking into the streets between 187th and 160th, there are some wonderful Spanish restaurants catering mostly to Dominican families but the menus are extensive and the prices are reasonable. There are a lot of restaurants especially clustered around the George Washington Bridge Depot.
I stopped for breakfast and lunch at the Chop Cheese Deli at 4234 Broadway. Having eaten breakfast at 5:45am, I was hungry for another breakfast and could not decide what I wanted to eat. So I ordered both the Egg and Cheese on a roll ($2.95) and their signature Chopped Cheese on a roll ($4.95). Both were really good but the Chopped Cheese should have shredded lettuce not chopped lettuce so it was a little soggy but still good. The deli’s prices are excellent and there is nothing over $10.00 in the hot foods menu.
The Chopped Cheese on a roll here is really good
As you walk further down the shopping district there are more good and reasonable restaurants. Two standouts that I highly recommend are La Dinastia at 4059 Broadway for Dominican Chinese food and 5 Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for pastries, pastilitos and all sorts of hot snacks.
The restaurant row around 181st Street
La Dinastia has a reasonable lunch menu and I recommend having the Chicken Cracklings, a type of batter fried chicken patty with their Special Fried Rice which contains shrimp, sausage, eggs and vegetables (See review on TripAdvisor). A lunch special here can run about $12.00 with a Coke and tip and you will be full for the rest of the afternoon.
La Dinastia Chicken Cracklings and Special Fried Rice
Before you leave this area, check out the former Coliseum Cinema on the corner of Broadway and 181st Street before they tear it down. It was built in 1920 as an old vaudeville theater and famous actors including the Marx Brothers and Harold Lloyd performed there. The building is slated for demolition due to its structure concerns and will be replaced by housing and a retail mall.
The Coliseum Theater at 181st & Broadway has interesting detail work
I noticed that on my trip in 2020 that the shopping districts in Washington Heights have been devastated by the COVID-19 crisis. I saw a lot of closed and empty businesses in the 207th and 181st shopping districts and a lot of popular delis and stores have closed along the Broadway corridor of Washington Heights. This made the lines at the places that were still open even longer.
There is a small park across from the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Mitchell Square, at the corners of Broadway and St. Nichols Avenue at 168th Street, that features the Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. It was dedicated in 1922 for members of the community who fought in WWI. I found it very touching. It features two soldiers assisting another wounded one.
Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Also check out some of the Dominican bakeries in the area. 5 Star Estrella Bakery is near the corner of 161st Street and Broadway. Everything at the bakery is delicious and I have never had one bad thing to eat here (See reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).
Their chicken and beef pastilitos are cooked perfectly and stuff full of filling ($1,50), their doughnuts are light and slathered in thick icing ($1.00) and their cinnamon buns ($2.00) are the best. They are light, chewy and sugary. Another item that stands out is a type of potato croquette that is filled with meat ($1.50). If they are available, grab one. Totally delicious!
The Cinnamon Swirl pastry here is excellent
The lines in 2020 were the longest I have ever seen with about 15 people waiting outside for service. I had a Raisin Swirl doughnut ($2.00) and a chewy fried doughnut ($2.00) which I ate on the way down Broadway.
Don’t miss 5 Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for snacks
As you reach the small pocket park at 157th Street, you will come across the first piece of Broadway Art by artist Nicolas Holiber for his “Birds on Broadway” Audubon Sculpture Project exhibit which is a partnership he has with Broadway Mall Association, NYC Parks, NYC Audubon and the Gitler Gallery. These interesting sculptures bring attention to birds species that are endangered by climate change. These birds are either native to New York or do a fly by when in season. They are made of 100% reclaimed or recycled wood (Nicolas Holiber website).
The Wood Duck by artist Nicolas Holiber (the sculpture is still up in 2020)
The first sculpture on the walk that I saw was the Wood Duck. It was an interesting piece that unfortunately was being walked on by a couple of kids that did not seem to know the significance of the work. These rustic pieces really do stand out though and I like the write ups with each one which gives a short story on each bird.
As you pass the sculpture and continue south to the right is the Audubon Terrace at 155th Street and Broadway, which is home to Boricua College, the Hispanic Society of America Museum (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which is currently closed for renovation and the American Academy of Arts & Letters (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which just recently closed and is only open twice a year to exhibitions. Both museums are only open at select times of the year so you have to visit their websites for more information.
The American Academy of Arts & Letters at 633 West 155th Street
The Hispanic Society of America at 615 West 155th Street
(Both museums are currently closed in 2020)
The college abuts the Trinity Church Cemetery that holds the graves of many prominent New Yorkers including John Jacob Astor IV and Mayor Ed Koch. It is interesting to walk along the paths of the cemetery during the day and look at the historic tombstones. When visiting the grave of Mayor Koch, be prepared to find lots of stones along the grave site as a sign of respect for the dead. Take some time out when visiting the cemetery to pay your respects to one of New York City’s greatest mayors.
Ed Koch grave site at the Trinity Church Cemetery
As you pass the borders of 155th Street into Harlem there is a distinct change in the street life. It is a lot quieter when you reach the borders of Washington Heights and Harlem. There are less people on the sidewalks here. In Washington Heights, there is music on the side walks, families playing games and men debating issues. It is a lot quieter I noticed when you cross the 155th Street border between the neighborhoods.
There is also a difference in the types of restaurants and shopping as slowly CUNY is starting to spread its wings and more businesses catering to students and faculty are opening in this area.
The next stop was to see Nicolas Holiber’s Snowy Owl at 148th Street. This was one of the more whimsical pieces in the exhibit and was unique with its outlaying wings.
The Snowy Owl by artist Nicolas Holiber at 148th Street
My next stop for a snack was at Olga’s Pizza at 3409 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor). Olga’s I had just stumbled across as I had a craving for a slice and the pizza is delicious. The secret to a good pizza is a fresh tasting and well spiced sauce and Olga’s hits both marks on this. It is a little pricey at $2.50 a slice but she is catering to the CUNY students who venture from campus to the restaurants on Broadway for meals. I got to meet Olga herself in the pizzeria who was working alongside of her parents and she seemed please that I liked her pizza so much (Olga’s Pizza is closed in 2020).
To the right of Olga’s just down the block is Montefiore Park, which is always a nice place to take a break and sit down to rest under the trees. It is a real mixture of neighborhood families, college students and teenagers who are eating at the local McDonald’s or one of the food trucks that line the park in the warmer months. Just north of the park at 139th Street is the third sculpture in the Nicolas Holiber exhibit, the Hooded Merganser.
The Hooded Merganser by artist Nicolas Holiber at 136th Street (still here in 2020)
One surprising thing I found at the corner of Broadway and 135th Street was a Pediatric office that housed in the front of it the Martinez Gallery at 3332 Broadway. The gallery features in the front waiting room an array of street art. This was interesting for a doctor’s office.
The Martinez Gallery at 3332 Broadway
The inside artwork at the Martinez Gallery. Very unassuming doctor’s office
Once you pass 135th Street, you enter the new extension of the Columbia University campus and because of the growth of the campus to this section of Harlem especially around the 125th Street corridor, it is changing fast. I have never seen so many new restaurants and shops going up right across the street from the Manhattanville Housing Projects. It is becoming a real extreme in this part of the neighborhood.
Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus that stretches from 125th to 130th Streets
Once you cross 125th Street on this part of Broadway, you enter Morningside Heights and the home of Columbia University. This part of 125th Street and Broadway has really changed since I started the walk of the island. There is a more established ‘Restaurant Row” that stretches from 125th Street to 122nd Street on Broadway that contains such restaurants as LaSalle Dumplings at 3141 Broadway (currently moving to West 113th Street as of this writing in 2020) and Bettolona at 3143 Broadway that I have tried in previous entries on this blog and check them out on my blog on Morningside Park. They are both excellent and I highly recommend them.
As soon I arrived on the Columbia University campus at 125th Street the mood of Broadway changed again from the streets of Harlem to a collegiate atmosphere. Don’t miss a break at the Columbia University commons around 116th Street. It is a lot of fun when school is in session and even during these quiet times of the summer, there still is a lot of energy here. It is a nice place to gather your thoughts and relax.
What is also nice is all the food trucks outside the commons that cater to the Asian students. You can get fresh dumplings, pork pancakes, noodle dishes and fresh soups for very reasonable prices and you can relax in the commons on a nice day and enjoy your lunch.
Right next to the campus on East 117th street is the third in Nicolas Holiber’s sculptures, the Common Golden Eye. This is one of the nicer locations for the work as there is plenty of seating in much less congested area of Broadway. You can sit back and just admire the work.
The Common Goldeneye by artist Nicolas Holiber at 117th Street
After taking a break in the commons and watching the summer students reading and chatting amongst themselves or so involved in their cell phones that they would not look up at a zombie attack. Still it is a nice place to take a break and relax on the stone benches. The commons is open to the public but with school out and many people out of the City, it was really quiet. I just like to find a shady spot and look at the buildings and let life pass by.
The Columbia University Commons is open and a nice place to realx
I headed back to Broadway to cross into the Upper West Side. It is amazing how everything between 125th and 110th have changed over the past few months and even from 110th to 100th Streets the changes have been constant in a twenty year period. Businesses are opening and closing at a rapid rate and with the students gone from campus and may not come back for the Fall of 2020, it will hurt the area more. The locals though are filling the outdoor dining and making due masks and all.
When you need to take a break from the heat, Straus Park which is between 107th and 106th Streets. This shady and well landscaped little pocket park was name after Isidor and Ida Straus who were once the owners of Macy’s and died in the Titanic sinking. The park’s beautiful fountain is centered in the park with the statue “Memory” by artist Augustus Lukeman and architect Evarts Tracy who designed the statue and fountain and dedicated it in 1915.
The Statue “Memory” by Augustus Lukeman in Straus Park
Artist Augustus Lukeman was an American born artist from Virginia and raised in New York who studied at the National Academy of Design and Cooper Union with continued studies in Europe and at Columbia University. He was known for his historical monuments (Wiki).
There is a beautiful memorial to them in the park. Friends of the Park maintain it with the city so it is always beautifully planted. On a hot day, it is such a nice place to take a break and since The Friends of Straus Park maintain it, the gardens and statuary is always in perfect shape.
Straus Park at 107th Street
Look close or you will miss it is the ‘Art for Art Sake’ dedication to Duke Ellington on the Broadway Island on West 106th Street. The work is done in tiles and you have to look down to see the work as it on the bottom park of the cement island facing the bench. I guess most people miss this interesting piece of street art.
One of my favorite bakeries in Manhattan is located right near the park at West 105th Street and Broadway, Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I love coming here for all the creative pastries and buns that the bakery created and I have the most delicious blueberry danish ($3.50) and cinnamon bun ($3.25) for a snack. Don’t be shy in this bakery and try several items. Everything I have ever ate there was wonderful. With so many businesses closing in the City, when I walked Broadway in 2020, the lines were out the door. People obviously needed comfort food in these troubling times.
Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway
When I got to 103rd Street, I saw the next part of the Birds on Broadway exhibit with the Double Crested Cormorant that stood proud on the Broadway island looking over the neighborhood.
The Double crested Cormorant by artist Nicolas Holiber at 103rd Street
Another little pizzeria that you might miss is Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food is really reasonable and their personal pizza ($5.00) and pizza special (Two slices and a Coke for $5.00) are a real steal and their sauce is delicious and so well spiced (the restaurant is still open but with new owners and prices as of 2020).
Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway
When you finally cross over past West 100th Street, you enter the Upper West Side which has been extensively traveled on this blog. There are dozens of shops and restaurants that line Broadway on this stretch of Broadway and sadly a lot of empty store fronts. This seems to be an epidemic all over the City with landlords jacking up rents every month. It really is changing this stretch of Broadway. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped matters in this area as businesses are closing left and right.
At West 96th Street and Broadway is the next “Birds on Broadway” piece, the “Brant Goose”. This part of Broadway enters into the traditional boundaries of the Upper West Side and there are many changes along this stretch of Broadway as well. It was almost like the mood in 2020 harked back to 1989 or 1990 with the store closures and the homeless taking over the streets.
The Brant Goose at West 96th Street
When walking on Broadway in the West 80’s, don’t miss walking through Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway near 80th Street. It is fun to wander around the store and smell the aromas of cheese, olives, freshly baked breads and chocolate. Don’t miss their cafe at the corner of West 80th Street (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). There is a nice assortment of pastries and soups at a reasonable price and on certain days they have specials that are reasonably price. They have the most delicious pastries and pan pizza. In the summer of 2020, the cafe was closed because of the pandemic but the supermarket part was still open for business.
Zabar’s Cafe is the original place where Zabar’s started at 2245 Broadway
You will also see the next sculpture by Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street, the “American Brittern”, which stands majestically on Broadway.
“The American Brittern” by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street
Still when you reach the West 70’s there are many beautiful apartment buildings that I admired that were built at the turn of the last century when builders were trying to woo the wealthy in the late 1890’s to the early 1900’s. The area itself is going through building boom and is changing all the time. At West 79th Street, look to the Broadway island again to see Nicolas Holiber’s “Scarlett Tanager” sculpture. These playful little birds are fun to look at.
The Scarlet Tanager by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 86th Street
Broadway has a series of churches that are really beautiful in design and in the details like the stone work and the stained glass windows. One church that stands out is the First Baptist Church 265 West 79th Street. It was built between 1890-93 and was designed by architect George M. Keister. The large window facing Broadway depicts Christ as the center of the New Testament Church (Wiki).
First Baptist Church on West 79th Street
Some of the apartment buildings are quite spectacular. The Apthorp Apartments at 390 West End Avenue (that stretches back to Broadway) is one of the most beautiful enclosed buildings with an elegant courtyard in the center. This building was built in 1908 and is the largest type of apartment of its kind in New York City. If you can take a peek inside the gates it is worth it.
The Apthorp Apartments at 390 West End Avenue
The Ansonia Apartments at 2109 Broadway is one of the biggest and grandest of the Victorian age apartment buildings on the Upper West Side. Built between 1899 and 1904 the outside of the building is studded with beautiful stone work, interesting torrents and a Mansard roof. Take time to walk around the building and admire the stonework.
The Ansonia Apartments at 2109 Broadway
Another building that stands out in the neighborhood is the Doriltan Apartments at 171 West 71st Street that was built in 1902. This elegant building is in the Beaux-Arts style and is another building that sets the tone for this part of the neighborhood.
The Doriltan Apartments at 171 West 71st Street
This is where the Upper West Side has changed so much. This area has become so expensive and the once notorious “Needle Park” Sherman Square is now a nicely landscaped park with a coffee vendor and young mothers with strollers. It is amazing how the City just keeps changing itself.
Sherman Square; the once “Needle Park”
Right by the subway stop at West 72nd Street is the next sculpture the “Peregrine Falcon”.
“The Peregrine Falcon” at West 72nd Street
Once you pass the borders of West 72nd Street, you will begin to see the magic of former Parks Director and major City Planner, Robert Moses. In the mid-1960’s, the City decided the area was dilapidated and pretty much leveled the neighborhood to build the Lincoln Center complex and branches of the local colleges so you will see more modern architecture on the western side of Broadway.
By the time you get to West 67th Street, you will see Julliard School, some of the buildings in the Lincoln Center complex and then Lincoln Center itself between West 65th and West 62nd Streets. On a theater night, the complex is so full energy and it is always a nice trip to see the ballet, opera or the philharmonic. The groundbreaking for this complex was in 1959 with President Eisenhower present and the complex was developed between 1962 and 1966 with current renovations still occurring in 2005. Take time to walk the courtyard and admire the fountains and the artwork that are around the buildings.
Lincoln Center at night
While passing Lincoln Center, you will see Dante Park across the street and the stately Empire Hotel. Here in Dante Park which is named after the Italian Poet, Dante Alighieri.
The statue of Dante Alighieri in Dante park with the Empire Hotel in the background
The statue of Dante Alighieri was designed by artist Ettore Ximenes for the Dante Alighieri Society for the 50th Anniversary of Italian unification in 1912
Ettore Ximenes was an Italian born artist who studied at the Palermo Academy of Fine Arts and the Naples Academy. His works captured the themes of Realism and Neo-Renaissance. He was also known for his big commissioned works.
This beautiful little pocket park sits across from Lincoln Center and has been a place to relax on my walks down Broadway. This is also the location of the last sculpture on the “Birds on Broadway” tour, the “Red Necked Grebe with Chicks”. This whimsical piece shows the mother grebe with her little ones on her back.
The Red Necked Grebe with Chicks by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 64th Street
During the 2020 walk down Broadway, Lincoln Center has been closed down for all performances for the rest of the 2020 season and not slated to open up until 2021. Because of the riots in the City in early June, the complex has been cordoned off and you can only walk through the complex to the fountain. It is surreal how empty this seems for a complex normally full of either arts patrons and tourists. Even the fountain in the middle of the complex was not at full capacity.
As you head down Broadway, you will reach the Time Warner Building with its upscale shops and restaurants and Columbus Circle with its impressive statue of Christopher Columbus and the soaring fountains that surround it. This is one of the best places in Manhattan to just sit back and relax and people watch. The statue was recently part of a controversy on statues of specific people and history and happily that seems to have gone away for now. This is because of the twenty police vans and high police presence on Columbus Circle.
The Time Warner Building in Columbus Circle is heavily guarded now
Since the Trump World Hotel and the famous statue of Christopher Columbus are located in the same spot, it is a lot more difficult to walk around here and the NYPD is on guard in this area of the city. In 2020, rioters have been tearing down statues of Christopher Columbus in parks across the nation so now monuments all over the United States have been protected.
Columbus Circle at West 59th Street
The famous statue of Christopher Columbus dedicated in Columbus Circle and the start of the annual Christopher Columbus Parade in Manhattan was designed by artist Gaetano Russo, the famous Italian artist for the 400 anniversary of the discovery of America in 1892. A procession from Little Italy to Columbus Circle of over 10,000 lined the streets for this gift from the Italian community to the City of New York (Wiki)
The statue of Christopher Columbus right next to the Time Life Building in the background
Artist Gaetano Russo
Gaetano Russo is an Italian born artist who studied at the Academia del Belle Arti whose works in historical sculpture were well known. The statue of Christopher Columbus in New York is one of the most famous of his works.
On the other side of the Columbus Circle when making the left is the Maine Monument by artist Attilio Piccirilli. The monument is a dedication to the victims of the USS Maine which was the navel disaster that started the Spanish American War. You really have to look at the details all around the statue for a full appreciation
The most interesting part of the statue is the stone figures that flank the front of the monument that are noted to be “The Antebellum State of Mind: Courage awaiting the flight of Peace and fortitude supporting the Feeble” which gives the irmeaning that peace still could have reigned before war was declared (Diane Durant article on the Maine Monument).
Attilio Piccirilli was an Italian born American artist who worked for his family’s company Piccirilli Brothers in the Bronx as a sculptor, stone carver and modeler. He is known for many historical monuments.
As you pass Columbus Circle and enter into Midtown Manhattan, notice to the south the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle. This innovative little museum has the top floors of the building has a interesting exhibition of “Punk Rock” art and music going on right now. (See my write up on it on VisitingaMuseum.com.)
Museum of Arts & Design at 2 Columbus Circle
Punk Rock Exhibition
One building that needs to be noted on the way down to Times Square is the Brill Building at 1619 Broadway. Built in 1931 by builder Abraham E. Lefcourt the building was originally known as the Alan E. Lefcourt Building and got its current name from a haberdasher store front in the building. The building was known to play a major role in the music industry housing music studios and music company offices. Performers such as Carole King and Burt Bacharach had their offices here (Wiki).
The Brill Building at 1619 Broadway
The crowds get larger the closer you come to the 42nd Street Mall. This part of Broadway near the TKTS for Broadway shows becomes crowded as these four blocks of Times Square is now an open air mall with seating and loads of costume characters who beg for pictures and money with tourists. It has gotten really crowded and annoying and the quicker you get through it the better. This is where the Ball drops on New Year’s Eve and you can see it up above the One Times Square building.
One Times Square Building where ‘the ball’ drops on New Years Eve.
Still get through Times Square, especially on a Saturday or Sunday as quick as possible. Even in 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis, tourist still flock to this area. I think people like the energy.
Times Square by the TKTS booth and the Marriott Marquis to the right
The one thing that is important to know is that the bathrooms at the Marriott Marquis at 1535 Broadway are free and it is a good pit stop before heading further downtown. They are located on the Eighth floor and are clean and very nice. They also have some good restaurants in the hotel like the Broadway Bar (See review on TripAdvisor) to eat at but wait until you head further downtown (I did not visit the bathrooms on the 2020 walk so I am not sure if they are open now).
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Times Square was still pretty busy with out of towners and mostly locals and business people as the City has opened back up again. Costume characters were fighting for customers all over the square and even the “Naked Cowboy” a staple in Times Square was out again.
Actor Robert John Burck, “The Naked Cowboy”
While in Times Square there are a few more sculptures that I missed on previous walks. The statue of Father Duffy sits erect on “Duffy Square” the northernmost part of the Times Square triangle. This is dedicated to “Father Francis P. Duffy”, a Canadian-American priest in the New York Archdiocese and on the faculty of the St. Joseph’s Seminary. He gained fame in World War I as an army chaplain and was noted for his bravery and leadership during the war with the 69th New York.
The Father Duffy Statue in Times Square’s “Father Duffy Square”
The statue was created by artist Charles Keck and was dedicated in 1937. Charles Keck is an American artist who studied at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League of New York.
Another statue that most people miss is the statue of composer, actor, and theater performer George M.Cohan, one of our great American artists. The artist wrote some of the most famous songs of that era including “Over There”, You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Give my regards to Broadway”.
The George M. Cohan statue in Times Square
The statue in Times Square of the composer was designed by artist Georg John Lober and was dedicated in 1959 in Father Duffy Square. Artist Georg John Lober was an American sculptor who studied at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design and the National Academy of Design and was part of the New York Municipal Arts Commission from 1943-1960.
As you head down past Times Square you will notice that not much has changed on this part of Broadway. Most of the buildings are pre-war and been around since the 30’s and 40’s. Here and there new buildings have creeped in. Stop in the lobby at 1441 Broadway, the Bricken Textile Building that was built in 1930 to see the “Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development” art exhibition (2019). It is quite creative. The whole lobby was full of modern art. There was a very interesting piece by artist Daniel Rozin who created a ‘Software Mirror’ where when you looked into it, it then looked back at you.
Artist Daniel Rozin demonstrating how the piece works
After wondering through the art show, I stopped in Frankie Boys Pizza at 1367 Broadway for a slice and a Coke and just relaxed. I was starved by this point of the walk. Their pizza is very good (See review on TripAdvisor) and was crowded that afternoon with people having an late lunch (still open in the 2020 walk).
After I finished my lunch, I continued the walk to Herald Square the home of Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street, whose store still dominates the area and is one of the last decent department stores in New York City. It is fun to take a quick pit stop in the store to see the main lobby and there is another public bathroom both on the lower level and on the Fourth Floor.
Macy’s Broadway entrance
The Macy’s Broadway part of the store was designed in 1902 and is a historical landmark in the City. It was designed by architects Theodore de Lemos and A. W. Cordes and has a Pallidan style facade, which is a classical style based on Greek and Roman symmetry. The additions of the building along West 34th Street are more in the Art Deco design.
Macy’s is now open for business so take a peak in and see what the store has in store. It has been pretty busy since it has opened. After that, cross the street into Herald Square Park to take a rest under the shade tree. People packed the park during lunch hour (socially distanced) as they normally do to avoid the heat.
Once you leave Herald 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.
A couple of buildings that stand out walking by is 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 in all its elegance, the former Grand Hotel
Another beautifully designed building is 1181 Broadway the former Baudouine Building built by furniture manufacture Charles Baudouine in 1896. The building was designed by architect Alfred Zucker and is ten stories of office space (Wiki and Daytonian).
1181 Broadway, the Baudouine Building
The unique features of this building is the Greco-Roman temple structure on the room and the terra cotta details along the outside and windows of the building.
The roof of 1181 Broadway, the Baudouine Building
The building has some very strange stories of tenants who have leased there and it has not always been that pleasant. The unusual history of 1181 Broadway:
I got down to Worth Square by Madison Square Park in the early evening and admired the William Jenkins Worth monument. General Worth was a military hero during the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. The monument was designed by James Goodwin Batterson and when General Worth died in 1849, his remains were buried under the monument.
It was interesting to read that at the percussion for his funeral that 6500 military men were at the ceremony (Wiki).
The General William Jenkins Worth Monument
As you look down further on the square, you will see the Flatiron Building one of the most famous and most photographed buildings in New York City. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham as a Renaissance Palazzo with Beaux-Arts styling . The original name for the building was the “Fuller Building” for the Company. The name “Flatiron” comes from a cast iron clothes iron from the turn of the last century. (Wiki)
The ‘Flatiron’ Building at 175 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street
As you pass the Flatiron Building and continue the walk south between 23rd and 14th Streets, take a look up to admire the buildings that once help make up the “Ladies Mile”, once the most fashionable shopping neighborhood after the Civil War (See my blog in MywalkinManhattan.com “Walking the Ladies Shopping Mile”).
One of the most elegant buildings on this part of Broadway is the former “Lord & Taylor” building at 901 Broadway. The building was constructed for the department store in 1870 and was the main store until 1914. It is now the Brooks Brothers Red Fleece store. Really take time to look at the detail work of the store and step inside. The Mansard Roof is an amazing touch.
901 Broadway “Lord & Taylor” building from 1870-1914
Finally reaching Union Square at Broadway and 14th Street, I was able to relax on a bench under a shade tree. I stopped at the Farmers Market, that is there every Wednesday and Saturday, and pick up some fruit and a couple of cookies from one of the stands. This is a lot of fun in the warmer months and don’t miss it September and October when the produce really comes in.
Busy Union Square
As you leave Union Square and head south again, you will be entering the campus of New York University and all over you can see classrooms, stores and restaurants that cater to the students. Sometimes I think these kids are trying so hard to look cool it becomes outlandish. The way some of them dress is over the top.
At the bend on Broadway, another church stands out in the neighborhood. Grace Episcopal Church at 802 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and East 10th Street sits at a bend in Broadway and makes an impressive statement in the neighborhood. The church was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. in the French Gothic Revival style and started construction in 1843 (Wiki).
Grace Church at 802 Broadway
Walking south, stop in front of both 770 Broadway between 8th and 9th Street, the former home of John Wanamaker Department Store and 693 Broadway at 4th Street, the Merchants Building. These two buildings stand out for their beauty and design.
770 Broadway was built between 1903 and 1907 by architect Daniel Burham as the annex for the main store of Wanamaker’s which was next door. There was a skyway that once connected the two stores. The company closed for business in 1954. (Wiki)
770 Broadway, the former Wanamaker’s Department Store Annex
Stop at 693 Broadway to admire the design of the building. Built in 1908 by architect William C. Frohne the building is studded with interesting stone carvings and ornamentation. What really stands out is all the owls that decorate the building (Greenwich Village Preservation).
693 Broadway The Merchants Building
The owls that line 693 Broadway
Looking up at the scaffolding of 611 Broadway, The Cable Building, it is not hard to miss the detail work of this graceful building. The stone work like a lot of the buildings on lower Broadway has beautiful detailed stonework adorning it. The building was designed by architect Stanford White of McKim, Meed & White and was designed in the Beau-Arts design of “American Renaissance”. The building was once home to the Metropolitan Traction Company, one of New York’s big Cable Car companies. In the last twenty years it has been home to the Angelika Film Company and Crate & Barrel home store. (Wiki)
Above all the scaffolding, look at the stone detail work of 611 Broadway
Take some time to admire 366 Broadway, a former Textiles Building built in 1909. Designed by Fredrick C. Browne, the building was designed in Edwardian commercial architecture and look at the detail work of the pillars, stone carved faces and other decorative stonework. The building once housed the Royal Typewriter Company then moved on in its later life to house textile firms including Bernard Semel Inc. (where the signage comes from on the outside), who was a former clothing jobber. Now called The Collect Pond House is a coop in Tribeca neighborhood (Tribeca History News)
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway is one of the most famous buildings on Broadway. The former headquarters for F. W. Woolworth & Company was once the tallest building in the world when it was constructed in 1913 and stayed the tallest building until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was finished on Lexington Avenue in 1930. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in the neo-Gothic style and was a representation of the time as a “Cathedral for Commerce”. The lower floors are clad in limestone and the upper floors in glazed terra-cotta panels (Wiki). The lobby is one of the most detailed and ornate in New York but ask security first if you can walk around.
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway
Across the street from the Woolworth Building is the very popular City Hall Park home to the to the 1803 built City Hall (Tweed Hall) and the seat of government for the City of New York. The park has always been used as some form of political function since the beginning in the Colonial days as a rebel outpost to its current function. It has had a prison, public execution site and parade ground on the site. Since the renovation in 1999 under then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the park has been a place for people downtown to gather and relax by its fountain and beside the beautifully designed gardens. There are about a dozen statues in the park to admire so take time to enjoy a walk in the park (NYCParks.org).
The City Hall Park
Another historic church that played a big role in the recovery of the World Trade Center events of 9/11 is the St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church at 209 Broadway. The Church was built in 1766 and is the oldest surviving church in Manhattan and is designed in the late Georgian church architecture by architect Thomas Mc Bean and crafted by Andrew Gautier (Wiki).
St. Paul’s Church at 209 Broadway
George Washington worshipped here on his Inauguration day in 1789 and continued to worship here when New York City was the capital of the country. The church had been spared by a sycamore tree on the property that absorbed the debris from the World Trade Center site and became a place of recovery and reflection in the aftermath of the events on 9/11 (Wiki).
Another building to admire is 108 Broadway at Leonard Street. This beautiful Italian Renaissance Revival building was designed by McKim Mead & White and has been refitted for apartments.
108 Broadway at Leonard Street
Upon reaching Zuccotti Park which is right near the World Trade Center sight and the home of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that traveled around the world after the 2008 meltdown of the New York Stock Market. The movement and occupation of the park which is private property, began in September of 2011. The park which is owned by Brookfield Office Properties was named after the Chairman of the company, John Zuccotti in 2011. (Wiki)
Zuccotti Park at twilight at Broadway and Cedar Streets
Zuccotti Park during its days of “Occupy Wall Street”
Take time to admire “Joie de Vivre” by artist Marco Polo ‘Marc’ di Suvero, and Italian now American artist.
This interesting sculpture was installed in the park in 2006 and features “four open-ended tetrahedrons”. (Wiki)
“Joie de Vivre” by artist Marc di Suvero
As you pass Zuccotti Park and head down the last stretch of Broadway look around at the buildings on both sides of Broadway as they have not changed much since the early 1900’s.
The last historic church I have visited and have walked past many times when in the neighborhood is Trinity Church, an Episcopal church at 75 Broadway. The first church on the site was built in 1698 and burned during the Revolutionary War during the Great Fire of 1776 when a two thirds of the City burned after a fire started in tavern and left most of New Yorkers homeless (Wiki).
Trinity Church at 75 Broadway
The current church was built in 1839 and finished in 1846 and was built in the Gothic Revival design by architect Richard Upjohn. It was the tallest building in the United States until 1869. The church has played important roles in recent history as a place of refuge and prayer during the attacks on 9/11. It also was part of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2012 as a place of refuge and support to the protestors (Wiki and Church History).
One of the most elegant buildings in lower Manhattan is the Cunard Building, the former home of the Cunard Shipping line. The building was designed by architect Benjamin Wistar Morris and opened in 1921. The company sold the building in 1971 and has different tenants now.
The Cunard Building at 25 Broadway
I finally got to my designation of Bowling Green Park on the first trip down Broadway at 5:45pm (starting time again 9:00am) just in time to see all the tourist lined up by The Bull statue (see my review on VisitingaMuseum.com). The statue was designed by artist Arturo de Modica and was installed as ‘renegade art’ meaning he did not have permission from the City to place it there. It has been a big tourist attraction since its installation and I could not see a reason for the City to move it from its location. At 7,100 pounds they can move it too far.
The Charging Bull at Bowling Green Park by artist Arturo de Modica
I reached the end of Broadway at 5:45pm and relaxed in Bowling Green Park (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com) for about a half hour. It was so nice to just sit there watching the fountain spray water and watching the birds as they pecked around.
Bowling Green has a rich history as a park. It was designed in 1733 and is the oldest park in New York City. It was here that the first reading of the Declaration of Independence was read and then the toppling of the Statue of King George III in defiance. You can still see where the citizens at the time cut off the small crowns on the fencing that surrounds the park. This is another place that was rumored to be the site of where the Dutch bought Manhattan. The park is the official start of Broadway.
Bowling Green Park at the height of its beauty
I walked from the Bowling Green Park and sat by the harbor in Battery Green Park and watched the ships go by. It is a nice place to relax and watch the sun set and the lights go on in all the buildings in lower Manhattan and watch the Statue of Liberty illuminate. It is quite a site. Look at the lights of Jersey City and Governors Island.
For dinner that night, I walked from the Battery into Chinatown and went to Chi Dumpling House (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at 77 Chrystie Street in Chinatown. They have the most amazing menu that is so reasonable. Ten steamed dumplings for $3.00 and a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup for $1.50.
Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street
For dessert that evening I came across Gooey on the Inside at 163 Chrystie Street (See review on TripAdvisor) for the most soft and gooey homemade cookies. I saw a bunch of people smiling as they left this basement business raving about the cookies and I had to investigate. I have to admit that they are pricey ($5.00 and higher) but the cookies are amazing. The Chocolate Chunk was loaded with large pieces of chocolate and the Birthday Cake is filled with icing and is soft and chewy. The best way to end the evening.
Gooey on the Inside Birthday Cake Cookies at 163 Chrystie Street
On my second day of walking down Broadway, I stopped at Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for dinner. I had arrived later in the evening and did not realize they closed at 8:00pm. The food which is normally excellent, had been sitting for awhile and was not that good. I had a Chicken Parmesan and spaghetti special that was dried out. Not their best work.
Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street
After dinner, I returned to Battery Park to admire the lights on Governor’s Island and the illuminated Statue of Liberty. There is nothing like this site in the world and only off the. Island of Manhattan can you see it this way.
The Broadway Mall Art Exhibition:
The Birds of Broadway by artist Nicolas Holiber:
Artist Nicolas Holiber in front of his sculptures for the “Birds on Broadway” show
Walking the Streets of the Upper West Side was harder than I thought because there is a treasure trove of historical spots and buildings all over the neighborhood. Here and there is a plaque or a statue that had gone unnoticed or a beautiful carving on a building that just catches my eye. You look hard enough and there is another plaque to someone famous or a garden that ‘pops up’ out of no where. If you blink, you might miss something.
I started my day working the beverage station at Soup Kitchen. Being the middle of the month, we started getting busy again. The chef made a type of stew that was very popular with the guests and we were busy that afternoon. I was tired by the end of the afternoon but ready to go.
I stopped at Taco Bandito at 325 Eighth Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for a quick snack for lunch. I spent $2.90 on a Chicken Fajita with Guacamole. The restaurant’s food is cooked to order and is really good. It is spicy and everything I have tried there has some kick to it. The best part of their menu is that everything is under $10.00. Check it out my blog, ‘DiningonaShoeString in NYC@Wordpress.com for my article on the restaurant. It is a local gem by the Fashion Institute of Technology.
I started the walk on West 72nd Street visiting a lot of the places I had visited when walking the borders of the neighborhood. There were a lot of stores to revisit and restaurant menus to look over. Being a nice but cool day, I wanted to walk around Riverside Park.
I passed the Eleanor Roosevelt Statue again at the corner of Riverside Drive and West 72nd Street and really looked at it again as I was relaxing on the benches. The artist really did a nice job with the statue and it is a nice place to stop and relax. The flowers were starting to pop up as the weather was getting warmer. As I left this part of the neighborhood in the late spring, the dogwood and cherry trees came into bloom and the surrounding area of the memorial is quite spectacular.
Eleanor Roosevelt Statue in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side
As I crossed onto the Streets off Riverside Drive to West End Avenue, the area is part of the West End Historical Society and much of the area is landmarked all the way to Broadway. On the blocks between Riverside Drive to West End Avenue from West 72nd to West 84th Streets the whole area is in two historical zones, the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historical District (from West 95th Street to West 62nd Street from Central Park West to Broadway & Amsterdam Avenue in some parts) and Riverside-West End Avenue Historical District (West 108th Street to West 70th Street to Broadway). This is the reason why I think that the Upper West Side has not seen the changes of the Upper East Side. So much land marking.
One of the most beautiful buildings on West 73rd Street across the street from the Ansonia Apartments is the Apple Savings Bank at 2100-2108 Broadway, the former Central Saving Bank Building. This elegant graceful bank sits on the tip of the northern part of Verdi Park in the Italian Renaissance palazzo style by the firm of York & Sawyer. The grillwork was done by Samuel Yellin, the master casting iron maker of the 1920’s. He did all the iron work of the grilles, doors, gates and lanterns. The rooms are vaulted look was said by the bank to be a ‘noble building’ (Wiki). From the outside, admire the stone and grill work around the building especially facing the park.
Apple Savings Bank Building on Broadway
The Park Royal Building is another elegant building near The Dakota on West 72nd floor. The building was built in 1928 by architect George F. Pelham as a type of apartment/hotel with maid service for the residents and restaurant service. It was a new concept of hotel amenities given to apartment dwellers. The building has wonderful views of the park and the apartment owners were able to design their apartments. The lower level is in limestone and the upper part of the building is made of a golden-colored tapestry brick. It is now a luxury cooperative (Park Royal history). Admire it from the other side of the street to see all the striking details of the building.
The Park Royal Building
The West End Collegiate Historic District which runs from West 79th Street to West 74th Street from Broadway to Riverside Drive (the extension is from West 79th Street to West 70th Street) is full unique buildings with the center is the Collegiate Church on the corner of West End Avenue and West 75th Street.
Don’t miss the new artwork by artist Kathy Ruttenburg on the traffic island at West 79th Street and Broadway named “Ms. Mighty Mouse”. This whimsical statue has its own interpretation and I am not sure if its empowerment or just taking control of the situation. Either way, don’t miss seeing the statue while it is here.
Miss Mighty Mouse by artist Kathy Ruttenberg
The West End Collegiate Church is the center of this district. The church was designed in Dutch Colonial style by the firm of McKim, Mead and White in 1893. The church was built to attract old Knickerbocker families in the city as well as give the local residents with a sense of history to the church and its Dutch background(Collegiate website). The church has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows with armorial designs based on Dutch provinces. The church has since expanded in the neighborhood.
At 33 Riverside Drive, there is a plaque dedicated to Ira Gershwin, the famous American composer, when he lived here and wrote some of his most famous songs. He lived in a three bedroom penthouse in the building from 1929-1933 and wrote ‘Girl Crazy’, ‘Of thee I Sing’ and ‘Let’em East Cake’ while living here (on the plaque). The apartment went on the market in 2015 for six million dollars.
Ira Gershwin Plaque
Between 128-132 West 75th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue take a look up and look at the entrance way of buildings and in the carvings by the entrance at 128 West 75th Street, you will see what appear to be two angels inside the flaps of both sides of the doorway. Look at the detailed carvings of these buildings and you will see stone work that I have not seen in any of my travels in the neighborhood.
128th-132nd West 75th Street
Rounding the streets at West 76th, there is a building at 132 West 76th Street with the most interesting stonework. Look at the way the statuary sticks out on the brownstone and the way it was carved. It is beautiful and unusual at the same time. It looks like a butterfly wing. I wonder how many people walk by this every day and never really notice it?
The homes in this part of the Upper West Side between Central Park and Riverside Park really are interesting the brownstones really have their own designs and many are not your typical ‘row houses’ as they have different types of stonework designs on them. You will see the most elegant stonework lining these buildings that have been sandblasted and detailed back to life. People here have really invested in their homes and decorated them nicely with potted plants and trees.
Take time to stop at the Tecumseh Playground at Amsterdam and West 78th Street, with its colorful murals and interesting playground. There is a lot to see and if you have kids, it is a lot of fun. Don’t miss walking through the park which is flanked by an interesting mural of ‘out west’ on the wall and the unique ‘jungle gyms’ designed like buildings and cars. I got such a kick at watching the kids of all ages running around the park and the parents talking amongst themselves. It still gives me faith that all kids are not glued to their phones.
The park is named after Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) who after graduating from West Point in 1840, served in California and the Mexican-American War.
Sherman was appointed to brigadier general of volunteers in 1861 and fought at Bull Run and Shiloh. Promoted to major general in 1862, he distinguished himself in the Vicksburg and Chattanooga campaigns of 1863. Sherman blazed a trail of destruction as his troops seized Atlanta, marched to the sea and headed north through the Carolinas. He received surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston on April 26, 1865. This deserves at least a playground and much more (NYC Parks).
When you are heading back to Riverside Park, remember not to miss the Hamilton Fountain on Riverside Drive between West 76th and 77th Streets and the Neufeld Playground right inside the park if you need to use the bathrooms before 5:00pm. As the weather got warmer, the daffodils and crocuses were starting to come into bloom. Take time to relax here and walk into the park to see the Hudson River before the leaves start (read more about this in the Avenues section of the Upper West Side).
When rounding West 78th Street, admire the architecture on the whole block. There are graceful brownstones between West End Avenue and Riverside Park and between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenue. Really look up at the stonework and the carvings on these buildings before the scaffolding goes back up and they are sandblasted again.
On West 79th Street, two things really stood out, the Banksy “Hammer Boy” mural on the side of the wall near Broadway, which the neighbors are trying to save and is under Plexiglas and so noted by the artist. He looks like he his about the hammer the FDNY’s standpipe.
The other is the gorgeous Baptist Church at 265 West 79th Street. Take time to look at its stained glass windows and curvature in the design. The church was built in 1890 by George M. Keister, who later built the Apollo Theater. It sits on what was a bend in the Avenue and can be seen on the way downtown. The stained glass shows God as the center of the New Testament Church and shows Him as the Bright and Morning Star with His Crown as the King of Kings (Wiki). It makes quite the statement.
The Baptist Church at West 79th Street
I stopped at West 80th Street as I rounded West 79th Street by Riverside Park. I had to relax for awhile and boosted more energy to walk down to West 72nd Street to Malachy’s Donegal Inn Bar for some dinner. I saw the hamburger special for $8.95 and thought that was good for me. It is a local West Side watering hole where the patrons are mostly locals and the food really good (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
I noticed at Malachy’s that both the bartenders and the locals size you up to see who you might be and I am not sure that they could read me. One thing was that they were really friendly and engaging to me and I appreciated it. After walking from the top of West 72nd Street to the bottom of West 80th Street, I didn’t need a suspicious look or conversation. I just joined in and we talked about the Yankees and their current season.
Just to let you know, if you are in the area of West 72nd Street, take the time out to have lunch or dinner and a drink at Malachy’s. The burger was cooked perfectly and had a salty, caramelized crust to it and the fries were deep fried perfectly. It was delicious and with an icy Coke, it was just what the doctor ordered to relax after a long walk. From West 80th to West 84th Streets would have to wait for another day.
At the end of the week, I made another trip to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and was assigned to the Prep Kitchen and before finishing the rest of the neighborhood, spent my morning prepping vegetables and cutting chicken breasts for the next days meal. (I saw on the chart the next week that we did over 800 meals that next day. I must be doing something right).
I started my walk by the American Museum of Natural History at 200 Central Park West and walked around Theodore Roosevelt Park, which is located at the back of the museum. This small well-landscaped grassy shade park is managed by a partnership between the Museum, The New York City Parks Department and the Friends of Roosevelt Park. This is a nice place to relax on the benches under the shade trees or just walk through the pathways. The former President would have loved this if he had seen it today. It was my ‘go-to’ spot when I was walking the rest of the Streets between West 80th and 84th Streets.
Theodore Roosevelt Park behind the American Museum of Natural History
What I found interesting in the history of the park is that it was originally part of Central Park and became of the museum when it was created in 1877. The park became ‘Theodore Roosevelt park in name in 1958 with the statute that was dedicated to our 26th President. In later years, namely the troubled times of the 70’s the park was in disarray and the Friends of Theodore Roosevelt Park was created in 1993, who help maintain the park in partnership with the NYC Parks and the Museum.
After leaving the park, I walked down West 80th Street and stopped at Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway and stopped in the Café Zabar (See Review on TripAdvisor) for a snack. For $1.00, they had a special on specialty croissants and I indulged in a Ham, Egg and Cheese Croissant, which made a great snack and I highly recommend stopping when they have specials or for their chicken soup which looks so good. Also when it is one special, don’t miss their homemade pizza. The place is the local hangout for older Upper West Sider’s and they made themselves known to me when I tried to sit in their seat.
Take time to walk around Zabar’s to see their bakery, cheese and prepared food departments. It is really something. Their selection is really interesting and the smells are wonderful especially in the Cheese Department. The place is packed all the time so expect to bump into people which is part of the fun of shopping there. You could lost in Zabar’s for about an hour.
Some of things that stand out in this area are the stately mansions that line Riverside Drive by Riverside Park between West 80th through 84th Street especially between West 80th-West 81st Street. It is best to see them from the park side. They are disrupted by apartment buildings on some blocks but the ones that remain are being renovated back to their original glory.
Riverside Park by the beginning of April was beginning to show signs of Spring and I saw more flowers coming out and if I was lucky to be in the sun, a bit warmer. Winter lingered late this year and even into April I had to wear a heavier jacket.
The blocks between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West from West 80th to 84th Street is dominated by graceful brownstones and marble homes. Like its neighbors to the north and south, this area by the park is being sandblasted back to life and every time I walk in the neighborhood, I see more scaffolding up around the buildings. There is a uniqueness to each one as you take the time to slowly look at them.
Take time to look at the displays at West 80th Street and Columbus Avenue of the bear statues and flowers by florist, Floris, that is located across the street. This whimsical display shows two bears greeting you with flowers. It changes at each holiday I noticed.
Broadway in this area is getting more commercial but then you need these stores to compliment the neighborhood. It seems that Broadway is becoming the commercial core of the Upper West Side with the chain stores and theaters. What makes it look like the elegant European boulevard that it is is the island between the Avenue. This is landscaped and now coming into full bloom. As the trees and the flowers sprout out with the coming of Spring, the whole effect is just beautiful. This look to Broadway continues down to Columbus Circle.
Don’t miss the unique architecture on West 83rd Street right off Columbus Avenue at 141 West 83rd Street. When really looking at that parking garage you could that the Cedarhurst building was once a stable. Designed by the firm of Thom & Wilson, it was once part of the Cedarhurst Livery Company and was built in 1908, with the horse motifs that decorate it and the horse head that flanks the front of the building. You can see the areas of the building that must have been used for airing the horses out after they were stabled back inside for the night (NYT).
The Cedarhurst Building on the Upper West Side
Across the street is the Engine 74 building of the FDNY that was designed by Napoleon DeBrun in the 1880’s. There motif on their building is the dinosaur with the theme, ‘Lost World’. Being so close to the American Museum of Natural History I can see how they play off that.
Also, really look at the Kiosk that is located by Broadway and West 83rd Street, which was built in the 1960’s as an information center for the neighborhood, which is now landmarked and is used to display local art. Artist Gregory Sanger was showing his work and it must have been very popular as there was a note left by someone not to steal the work as a piece was missing. Through its history, this kiosk has displayed the goings on in the neighborhood for over 50 years and has become a focal as well as vocal point to the residents.
I ended my trip to this part of the Upper West Side by visiting the Bard Graduate Center Gallery at 18 West 86th Street (bgc.bard.org and see the review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). I had missed seeing the gallery the first two times to the neighborhood as their hours are different from most of the other museums. Through my affiliation with the Newark Museum, I was able to get in for free and see the special exhibits.
The Bard Graduate Center Gallery at 18 West 86th Street
The Gallery was featuring an exhibition of ‘Bookbinding and the Creation of Books’, which explained why they were so expensive and rare at the time before the printing press and a ‘Balinese Textiles’ exhibition. It is an easy gallery to visit and you will be out in about an hour and a half. It is a quiet place to visit so you will have the galleries to yourself. It makes it more fun so don’t miss this little hidden ‘gem’.
I finished the evening with dinner for a second time at Malachy’s Donegal Inn bar on West 72nd Street, this time having the ‘Turkey Dinner’ platter. I had a nice time that evening talking politics with the other patrons and the sheer cost of living on the Upper West Side when I wanted to get off the politics and talk about all the empty store fronts in the lower 70’s throughout the neighborhood. They were able to give me their opinion on it. The dinner was good and for $8.95, it was some open turkey sandwich. I had to walk back to Port Authority just to work it off.
Malachy’s Donegal Inn
I have seen so much on the middle part of the Upper West Side and look forward to my next trip in the neighborhood from West 72nd to West 59th Street. There is so much elegant architecture in the neighborhood, so many famous people living here and so many interesting stores, you could visit here many times and not soak it all in. It really opened my eyes to a place I have been visiting for years and never truly experienced the way a local might.
It took a long time to finish the Upper East Side neighborhood above 72nd Street and I wanted to return to many of the historical spots to get more research in so it took longer than I thought.
After a long day in Soup Kitchen (I swear I should do these on separate days) in the Beverage Station, I left the Soup Kitchen exhausted again. I can not believe how demanding the homeless can be.
I took the Number One Subway up to 86th Street and walked down to West 84th Street and Central Park West to walk the ring of the neighborhood. Returning to West 84th Street was like visiting an old friend. I had not been on this side of town in months.
I have walked the length of Central Park West many times in this project from 110th Street past 59th Street back to the Port Authority many times on this project in various seasons and it is interesting to see the park at various times of the year. Still, not matter what season, Central Park is always busy. Whether it is people walking their dogs, people jogging on paths or kids playing in playgrounds, the park is always in use no matter what the weather is during the year.
As you walk Central Park West, take time out to really look at the architecture of the buildings and the beauty of the stone work and the carvings. You will not see this in modern buildings. From the sandblasted outsides of buildings to the redone gilded lobbies, you can see a change in the personality of the structure. People are bringing grace back to the apartment buildings and much care.
As I walked past the ‘Museum Mile” of the Upper West Side in the New York Historical Society at 170 Central Park West and the American Museum of Natural History at Central Park West and 79th Street both displayed their upcoming shows. If you get a chance, go see the “Unseen Oceans” and “Senses” exhibitions at the American Museum of Natural History. Both tell a different story and the new “Unseen Oceans” exhibition helps us discover what lurks a depths we have never been. There is a whole new world to discover here.
The New York Historical Society at 170 Central Park West
At Central Park West and 77th Street, check out the statue of Alexander Von Humboldt, the famous Prussian geographer, naturalist and explorer. Von Humboldt had explored South America to a great extent back in 1700’s as well as extensive exploration in Europe. The Humboldt Squid is named after him as well as he invented the safety lamp for exploration. The statue by noted artist, Gustav Blaeser, was dedicated in 1869 and was moved to this location much later. Gustav Blaeser was a German born artist whose works can be seen all over the world. He started in the studio of Christian Daniel Rauch (Wiki).
It is being conserved by the Central Park Conservatory.
Alexander Von Humboldt statue
From West 84th Street on Central Park West to Columbus Avenue, it is always a treasure trove of interesting brownstones. To believe that only 25 years ago, this place was almost abandoned, you should see the transformation now with all this old buildings being sandblasted back to life. There is a lot of TLC (tender loving care) going on in the West Side of Manhattan.
Really look at the architecture on West 84th Street from Central Park West to Columbus Avenue and watch the faces watch you starting with 239 Central Park West laden with faces of men and women surrounding it. The beautiful building was built in 1925 in the Neo-Renaissance style by architects Sugarman & Berger. Take time to look at this 16 story Upper West Side classic and watch as it ‘turns heads’. As you pass all the brownstones, really look at the carvings of the faces in all the archways and doorways. You never know who is watching from all angles.
239 Central Park West
Unlike the East Side, where every Avenue seems to being torn down for another apartment building or office tower, the West side of the island is keeping more of its charms. I just do not see the same changes going on in this part of the island as the zoning seems different. Here most of the streets are under scaffolding to sandblast these buildings back to their original glory with new owners. One thing is for sure, the ownership is changing. I have never seen so many kids running around after school.
Like the Upper East Side, this side of town has its share of schools and there are plenty of kids walking home in groups or with their parents. The conversations are very similar to the ones I heard cross town. Politics, relationships and problems with classmates. It is a amazing the conversations you hear in restaurants, bakeries and on the sidewalks.
The one thing that does not change on the streets of New York is how pampered their pets are. I have never seen so many well-groomed animals. Not to the extent of their East side counterparts (who have about six to eight upscale grooming places) but I can tell people love their dogs.
As I passed down West 84th Street, I visited many businesses I had been to so many months ago like West Side Kids at 498 Amsterdam Avenue, John Koch Antiques at 201 West 84th Street and Books of Wonder at 217 West 84th Street all of which have become some of my favorite stores on the West Side.
West Side Kids is one of the many nice stores in the area
Also, when you reach West End Avenue, pause to look at the lines of brownstones surrounding the block and the beautiful stonework and carvings on each brownstone. The block as well as most of the blocks between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive are classic and detailed in their architecture.
Riverside Drive changes from block to block. Some of the blocks are protected under the Historic districts that they are part of and other blocks are high rise apartments. The West End Historical District runs from about West 80th Street to West 79th Street. Here you will find an array of artistically designed mansions with their large windows and whimsical turrets. These homes are tucked into and around the surrounding apartment buildings.
The West End Collegiate Historic District encompasses even a bigger area of this part of the neighborhood covering from West 79th Street to West 70th Street from Riverside Drive to parts of Broadway. This historic district contains many famous and prominent apartment buildings, brownstones and churches including the Collegiate Church on West End Avenue, the Ansonia and Astor Apartments on Broadway and the Chatsworth Apartments (which are under current renovations) at West 72nd Street.
The pre-war architecture and Victorian style of these buildings are unique to NYC now and should be protected. This type of structure are in danger of being knocked down and replaced with larger more modern construction. Note this in my writing of the Upper East Side which is going through so many changes right now.
Walking along Riverside Drive starting at West 84th Street is a treat. There is that juxtaposed mix of buildings with Victorian mansions tucked next to pre-war apartments with a few modern buildings thrown in. All of this is facing Riverside Park, which for most of the time I was walking the neighborhood was still in winter dormancy.
At West 81st Street and Riverside Drive inside the entrance to the park is the River Run Playground, your first source of public bathrooms. The park was quiet on a winter afternoon but after a few visits to the neighborhood and the weather getting warmer, the kids came out in droves with their parents tagging along.
The beauty of River Run Playground is in the details of the park. The bathrooms have the most beautiful monkey designs molded into the gates so you have to look up for them. The park itself is oval in design filled with every whimsical play thing a child could want. What I liked about the park as it got warmer was the hill overlooking the park. The Riverside Park Conservatory and the local neighbors planted the hill with all sorts of Spring flowers which are now popping up. Crocuses, Tulips and Daffodils will line the hills overlooking the park and the river and already it is quite a site.
The beauty of Riverside Drive is that there are many parks within the park. At the entrance to the park at West 83rd Street is the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Park and Gardens. The 12,000 square foot plaza, enclosed by gardens planters, crab-apple and locust trees and a polychromed granite wall, is part of the West Side Improvement.
The massive Riverside Park expansion directed by Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses and designed by Gilmore D. Clarke and Clinton Loyd was completed in 1937. In 1990, the perimeter gardens were designed and planted by David T. Goldstick. In 2001, the plaza was renovated by Mayor Rudy Giuliani in partnership with the Riverside Park Fund (NYC Parks.org).
Warsaw Ghetto Memorial Park
The plaza and gardens has served as a place of contemplation and remembrance of the victims of Nazi brutality. The plaza takes it name from the modest granite plaque at its center and was one of the first Holocaust monuments in the United States, the plaque and its surroundings were dedicated on October 19, 1947 by Mayor William O’Dwyer. A crowd of 15,000 attended , including 100 survivors of the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps. Each year on April 19th, people gather here in memory of the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto, who rose up against their Nazi captors and the six million other Jews martyred during WWII. This plaza is a place a beauty and contemplation and is a nice place to just relax and think (NY Parks.org).
At Riverside Drive and 76th Street is the Neufeld Playground, a recently renovated park with two playground for kids of various ages. The best part of the playground is the public bathrooms and like John Jay Park on the East Side, they are open until 5:00pm so this is a great place to make a pit stop and relax on the benches.
Henry Neufeld Playground
The park was named for Henry Neufeld, a prominent cardiologist and scholar who held many prestigious positions in the medical field in his career and worked with the World Health Organization.
Dr. Henry Neufeld
When you exit the Neufeld Playground, you will nice an Robert Ray Hamilton fountain, an empty fountain with an eagle statue topping it. The ornate, baroque styled marble fountain is named for Robert Ray Hamilton, the great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton, the great statesman, who was a prominent businessman, landowner and politician in his own right.
Robert Ray Hamilton Statesman
He bequeathed $9,000 to the city to create and install it. It is one of the finest and last surviving examples of the decorative horse troughs that once lined the city landscape. It was used for horses to drink in when they were making their way along Riverside Drive (NYC Parks.org).
Robert Ray Hamilton Statue
At the corner of Riverside Drive and West 72nd Street, just inside the park is a statue dedicated to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Known for her many civic and charitable contributions to the government at the time one top of being a teacher, women’s rights activist and raising five children during the Presidency, she fought for the rights of people.
Eleanor Roosevelt Statue
The statue was done by sculptor Penelope Jencks and Michael Middleton Dwyer and the architects on the project were Bruce Kelly and David Varnell. Ms. Jencks is an American artist who studied at Boston University and graduated with BFA.
The monument lies at the threshold of the Riverside Park and is one of a sequence of civic monuments along Riverside Drive honoring people of historical significance (NYC Parks.org). Its a nice place to just relax and watch the world go by. This is also the end of Riverside Park which ends at West 72nd Street.
One building that stands out right across the street from the beginning of Riverside Park is the Chadsworth Apartment Building at 344 West 72nd Street built in 1904 designed by architect John D. Scharsmith for owner George F. Johnson. It was designed to face the park in an English garden fashion. It was lavishly designed in detail to attract the wealthy patrons of Fifth Avenue, who had started to abandon their mansions after the turn of the 20th century (Wiki).
Chatsworth Apartments at 344 West 72nd Street
Done in a brick and limestone exterior, the detail work on the building is magnificent. Carved angels, faces and flowers line the building and the iron work of the lamps and banisters are just breathtaking. You really have to look beyond the scaffolding to see the true beauty of this building. They just don’t build apartment buildings with this type of detail anymore.
Across the street from the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt sits an unusual twin mansion, one of the many you will see lining West 72nd Street until you hit Broadway. Most of these old homes are now office and shops but you can see the real beauty in them when at one time this part of the West Side by Riverside Park had been fashionable.
This ‘twin’ mansion was actually two homes with a courtyard created in between the two homes. The Beaux Arts home on West 72nd Street was owned by the Sutphen family and the right plainer mansion was owned by the Prentiss family both designed by mansion architect C.P.H. Gilbert. Both descended from old Colonial families, the Sutphen family were the first one to build their mansion and it was finished 1902 and the Prentiss Mansion was built in 1900. The architect built the courtyard to compliment both homes (Wiki).
West 72nd Street is a real hodge-podge of architecture and buildings as it looks like the shopping district is in a constant state of flux with stores and restaurants opening and closing at record speed due to the increases in rent. Still the street has a 70’s feel about it as there are still some holdouts stores from the ‘old days’.
One stand out restaurant/deli that fit the bill was the West Side Cafe & Pizza at 218 West 72nd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue (see Reviews on TripAdvisor and my blog, “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com-Now Closed). The place is clean, the food is reasonable and delicious and the prices are more than fair. Their selection of items is also extensive. This is why I ate there four times on my trip to the Upper West Side.
West Side Cafe and Deli at 218 West 72nd Street (Now Closed)
My first trip there, I just wanted a slice of pizza just to have a snack. A slice here ($2.50) is pretty large and was delicious. They know how to make a marinara sauce. Even though it was warmed over, the quality was excellent. While I was ordering my slice, I saw someone ordering a sausage, egg and cheese on a buttered bagel and it looked so good that when I was walking the streets of the same neighborhood, I had to go back and order it.
So I ordered it on a combination bagel ($4.99) and ate it in Riverside Park. I swear it was one of the best breakfast sandwiches I had ever eaten. The flavors combined beautifully. The sandwich was also huge!
Some of the merchants on West 72nd Street even had a 70’s feel to them. I stopped at Stationary & Toy World Store at 125 West 72nd Street. This is such a great store with floor to ceiling of toys, games, school supplies and anything a kid in the 70’s and 80’s would need for the beginning of the school year. I swear I felt I was in a time warp back thirty years. The best part about the store that it was busy with families so that was encouraging at a time.
Stationary & Toy World Store at 125 West 72nd Avenue
Another great store with a 70’s feel is Westsider Records at 233 West 72nd Street, which is lined from top to bottom with records. Even the guy who works the front counter looks like he works at a record store. There were records that I have not seen in thirty years. It even looks a record store that should be on the Upper West Side.
In the middle of the neighborhood is the famous Verdi Park and Sherman Square, the former ‘Needle Park’ from the movie, “Panic in Needle Park”. This is no ‘Needle Park’ anymore with a Bloomingdale’s Outlet Store and a Haagen Dazs right on the park. Sherman Square is just south of the neighborhood but Verdi Square was just as bad.
Now Verdi Square is renovated and dedicated to opera composer, Giuseppe Verdi. The statue was designed by Pasquale Civietti in 1906 (NYC Parks.org). Mr. Civietti was an Italian born artist who had been trained under his brother, Benedetto.
The park itself is surrounding by some of the most beautiful Victorian architecture especially around Broadway with the Ansonia Apartments and the Apple Savings Bank, the former Central Savings Bank. Now the park is nicely landscaped with flowers and plantings with a fancy coffee stand.
Another great place is Malachy’s Donegal Inn at 103 West 72nd Street. I visited the restaurant twice while visiting the neighborhood and it is a real experience to get to know the locals who like to eat there. If you want to meet neighborhood locals, this is the place to come.
Malachy’s Donegal Inn at 103 West 72nd Street
The last part of the walk on the way back to Central Park West was passing The Dakota Apartments. One of the most prestigious addresses in New York City and named for its isolation placement in the city at the time. The apartments were built between 1880 and 1884 designed by architect Henry J. Hardenbergh. Built in the Renaissance and English Victorian design, you can see the detail work all over the building (Wiki).
The Dakota Apartments on Central Park West
Even though the building in currently under scaffolding, you can see the detail work in the iron work of the fencing around the building with the face of Neptune (I think) facing everyone who walks by. You can also peak into the courtyard to see where carriages once arrived. It is an amazing building.
The borders of the Upper West Side are steeped in history and loaded with some of the most beautiful buildings and statuary and facing two of the most magnificent landscaped parks in the city.
It is amazing the changes that happen in just a month! The weather changed but not the way you would think. It went from being in the 80’s in the beginning of October to the 40’s and 50’s in November. Now you might say that is normal for this time of year but the temperatures have been all over the place.
People were dining outside as late as the day after Thanksgiving. It was 52F on the 25th of November. Nippy yes but eating outside? In the sun, it really was warm. As I walked the streets of the Upper Upper West Side, it was a pleasant and warm day.
The nice part is that it has been so warm outside lately that the leaves did not change as fast as they normally do this time of the year. The leaves did not start to change in the New York City area until about five days before Halloween. Everything was greener than it normally has been in the past. As of my last day on this part of the West Side, the trees still have changing foliage in Riverside Park, so when the sun hit some of the trees they still cast a glow of golds and reds.
I have seen a distinct change in the make up in the city as you cross over the 100th Street on the West Side. Once you pass the Douglas Houses, the residential area starts to change along with the stores and restaurants around it. The bodegas and cheaper restaurants start to disappear.
Things keep changing around the Douglas Houses on the Upper West Side
The rents have been going up in this area and there is a lot of empty retail space in the Upper Upper West Side. What there is a lot of restaurants where the price of a burger will run you around $16.00. The Upper West Side is becoming a lot more like the Upper East Side.
What I have also have found is many beautiful pocket parks, unusual architecture with creative details and some wonderful restaurants and shops that show that the chain stores do not dominate a city. I never realized that it would take so long to finish the area. A little thing called Halloween came into play and then the weather got colder (See all the activities you can get involved with for the Halloween holidays for next year on this blog).
I started my first day at surprising enough 127th Street. I got on the C subway train by mistake ( I should have gotten on the A Train) but it gave me a chance to see what changes have come about in Morningside Heights. I swear as the new buildings at Columbia University are ready to open soon between 125th-134th Streets, the area is quickly changing around it. All over the area surrounding the 125th subway stop on the A subway line is being ripped apart and being rebuilt.
All the buildings around 125th Street are being sandblasted and gutted back to life or are being knocked down and rebuilt. This will just be an extension of Morningside Heights within the next five years. It will be more college campus than Harlem or the traditional Harlem that people know.
I had lunch that afternoon at West Place Chinese Restaurant at 1288 Amsterdam Avenue, a small hole in the wall Chinese restaurant that I passed several times (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) and had wanted to try for a long time. The food was wonderful and the portion sizes were plentiful. I had an order of General Tso’s chicken with rice and Wonton Soup with a Coke for $8.00. It could have fed two people easily. The food was as good as anything in Chinatown and the quality was great.
After lunch, I walked down Broadway to 96th Street, passing through the campus that I had walked months earlier. The Columbia Campus is another part of the city that just keeps changing with new buildings being built on old ones or old buildings being sandblasted back to their original beauty. This area is becoming more desirable to live in again and as Morningside Park keeps improving, everything that surrounds it does as well. Even the parks surrounding the campus keep improving with Morningside Park receiving new plantings and Riverside Park getting a spruce up. I got to my destination, West 96th Street and Central Park West by the early afternoon.
I started my day on West 96th Street on the corner of West 96th and Central Park West where some of the trees were still green even this late into the season. I swear Central Park is never not busy. Families were playing in the playgrounds and tourists still walking through the park getting a taste of the real New York. The weather has been so unusually warm this year that it is a pleasure to just walk around.
For the most part, the blocks closer to the both parks, Central Park and Riverside Park, the streets are lined with beautiful brownstones. Most of the side streets between Central Park West and Amsterdam Avenue are lined with some of the most elegant architecture from the turn of the last century. It is hard to believe that up to twenty years ago, parts of this area had been bombed out.
I was able to see the last of the Halloween decorations give way to fall themes decorating the brownstones. Like their suburban counterparts, people like to decorate their buildings. Pumpkins and haystacks lined the elegant brownstones and occasionally there was a ghost or witch motif decorating the front.
Brownstones decorated for the holiday
Some of the most beautiful buildings outside of the Central Park district were the homes between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive right next to Riverside Park. Old elegant mansions and gracefully carved apartment buildings line the streets between both Avenues. Look up at the craved stone sculptures that line the building. Graceful animals, fierce gargoyles and lattice work line the tops of these buildings. It is time to put down those silly cellphones and really notice how beautifully built these homes were and the care put into them.
Their is a lot of artwork on the Riverside Drive especially around this section of the Upper West Side. The Joan of Arc statue on 95th Street and Riverside Drive gives a description of her life and who she really was in the time of war. I didn’t realize how threatened they were by her that they had to accuse her of being a witch to get rid of her power of persuasion. The statute which was created in 1915 is in a small park within a park, “Joan of Arc Park”, that stands above Riverside Park above the paths.
Artist and art patron Anne Vaughn Hyatt Huntington created this beautiful piece. She had studied with many known artists of the time and completed her work at the Art Students League of New York and one of the first women artist inducted into the Academy of Arts & Letters (Wiki).If you want to know more about her life, stop here and read the plaques.
Joan of Arc Statue in the small park
What stands out between 95th to 94th Streets off West End Avenue is the ‘Pomander Walk’, a small alley behind a large apartment building which contains a series of eight two story Tudor homes with gardens in front. This is hidden behind a gate off 94th Street.
This whimsical little treasure was build between 1920-1922 by nightclub owner, Thomas Healy. He was creating income for a large hotel that he wanted to build on the property. He died in 1927 before he could find funding for the hotel and that’s why it exists today.
Pomander Walk is one of those hidden little Manhattan gems
I have read that today it is hard to find a home in this little strip and a recent two bedroom apartment building sold for $700,000. Pretty good for a dolls house.
The outside of the homes can be seen in on 95th Street and look like a Swiss or German Chalet in the Alps. The detail work was under scaffolding when I first passed it and I wondered if it was a restaurant being fixed up. When you discover the gate entrance, it almost looks like a hidden ‘Land of Oz’. I could see the flowers and plants from the street. It reminded me of some of the small developments in Harlem where a small set of row homes creates its own neighborhood. You have to really look for it or you will miss it.
I was able to walk Riverside Park and enjoy that late foliage. The view of the Hudson River is just spectacular especially from the buffs of the neighborhood. I don’t think too many tourists appreciate this park with it beautiful vistas of the river and its great parks for kids. The trees were a combination of golds and oranges when the sun hit them.
Riverside Park in the fall is beautiful
The Upper Upper West is a combination apartment buildings built in the 1970’s and 80’s with more newer buildings being developed along Broadway but here in there in the commercial district some things do pop out at you. This is true of the former ‘Little Plantation Restaurant’ that recently closed on the corner of 93rd Street and Columbus Avenue. Attached to an apartment building, this space looks like a Southern plantation mansion fitted even with a porch swing. I am not sure how long this will last without being a restaurant but make a special trip to the building just see the detail work.
Sol Bloom Playground
As I rounded the corners back to Central Park West, I stopped at the Sol Bloom Playground on 92nd Street near the local school to look for a bathroom. This whimsical park on a nice day attracts kids from all over the place and their parents running all over and playing on a the equipment.
The park was named after Sol Bloom, a self-made millionaire. He had made his money in his music and real estate businesses. He had built several apartment buildings and both the Apollo and Music Box theaters.
I ended the day at the 86th Station totally exhausted having walk the area between 96th Street to 90th Street. The one thing that differs the Upper Upper West Side from Manhattan Valley/Bloomingdale to the north is how much newer it has gotten at the core. So many more newer apartment buildings in this area and more businesses catering to a higher end client. It just seems more like the old Upper West Side above 96th Street.
My second day walking the neighborhood I started after a long day at the Soup Kitchen. Working the Bread station all afternoon with the homeless asking you for pastries all morning long can be wearing. I got through it all. I started this part of the walk with lunch in Yorkville, wanting to try East Garden Chinese Restaurant at 1685 First Avenue again to see if it made the cut for my blog, ‘Dining on a Shoe String in NYC’. It did!
East Garden Chinese Restaurant really blows my mind on how good this place is for lunch. Their lunch specials run $5.95 and you get a very large entrée with a side of rice. Add in a Coke for an extra dollar and you have lunch and dinner. The place is really clean too.
East Garden Chinese Restaurant is excellent!
I had the Chicken with Broccoli with white rice and it was a very large portion. Both the chicken and the broccoli were perfectly and they do give you a nice amount of chicken. The sauce is flavorful and delicious (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.wordpress.com as well). It was both lunch and dinner for me.
After lunch, it was across the street to Glaser’s Bakery at 1670 1st Avenue for dessert (See reviews on both TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC-NOW CLOSED). They make a peach Danish that is out of this world ! ($3.00). I swear this is one of the best bakeries in the city! So much for the places with the $10.00 cookies, Glaser’s is the real thing. Every bite of that Danish was like heaven!
I decided to walk across the park this afternoon to get some real exercise and work off that lunch. The park in the late fall is glorious with the gold and yellow leaves and the cool but still warm breezes. I walked along the reservoir and watched the joggers pass me by. I had more than a few tourists ask to take pictures for them but it is so much fun to see the park so alive with people and happy to be there. The park is so graceful in its own way and the fact that so much of it is being renovated by the Conservatory shows that people believe in it.
The Central Park Reservoir is amazing in the fall
I love the winding paths and the quietness of the park. Even though these paths have been traveled many times, I felt as if I had seen them for the first time. I had never been to this part of the park before and walking these paths felt like a new adventure. It amazes me that I have been in this park a million times since I was a kid but I still wonder at the parts of it that I have never seen. I walked along the back paths of the lake by the low 80’s and ended up walking to West 82nd Street and Central Park West in the mid-afternoon. The trees were still brilliant with colorful leaves as November was still gripping. We had had such a warm fall that many of the trees turned late much to the benefit of those who like to walk around the neighborhood.
I walked up to 84th Street and Central Park West to resume my walk of the neighborhood. I really like the stores in this neighborhood. They have character. I walked into West Side Kids at 498 Amsterdam Avenue and West 84th Street, to look at the toys and games. It is one of the classic stores of the city and still holds on to the tradition that kids are not all glued to their cellphones. It has a nice array of games and stuffed animals and assorted pocket knick knacks. It is a place I would have liked to shop at when I was a kid.
West Side Kids is a fun store
John Koch Antiques at 201 84th Street (See review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) has unique window displays and in the short visit I had there had many wonderful pieces to decorate the office or your home. I liked the sailboats in the window. There was a turn of the last century feel about the place.
John Koch Antiques
Books of Wonder at 217 West 84th Street (See review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) was enjoyable except they were going through a floor move when I was there and I only got to see the front of the store. It has an excellent selection of classic and contemporary children’s books.
Books of Wonder Book Store
As you turn the corner onto West 85th Street, take time to admire 101 West 85th Street. The building has the most beautiful architecture and beautiful details and built in the 1880’s. The Red House Apartment building at West 85th Street and West End Avenue near Riverside Drive has unique details to it as well. You really have to stop and look up to admire the design of the building. I rounded West 85th Street around West 86th Street and then to West 87th Street.
The building was built in 1890 and is called the Brockholst Apartment. It was named after Brockholst Livingston, the former Supreme Court Judge who family estate the building was built on. Look close at the checkerboard stonework and iron work details (Daytonian).
101 West 85th Street; look at the details of the building
When walking up the block and turning onto West 87th Street, take time to admire the foliage at Central Park West. The park is truly beautiful on this part of block. The trees are really ablaze with color.
When I arrived at P.S. 166 on 132 West 89th Street, the Richard Rodgers School, is the Manhattan School of Art & Technology. I read the plaque that was dedicated in 2003 to the famous composer. The school was built in 1897 and is one of the few terra cotta Gothic designs in the New York Public School system. It is such an honor to a famous composer of musicals such as ‘The Flower Drum Song’ and ‘The King and I’.
The Playground 89 next to P.S. 166 adds a little life to the quiet neighborhood. Even on a slightly warm November day, there were loads of kids running around while their parents relaxed and chatted on the benches surrounding the park. It was nice to see so many families out that afternoon.
P.S. 166 is one of the few Terra Cotta schools in NYC
As you round the neighborhood on West 89th Street, I walked into the West Side Community Garden at 123 West 89th and Columbus Avenue. This little gem of a park is located behind an office building and is across from P.S. 166. Though not in the full bloom that I saw from the pictures posted in the park from the Summer Opera Program, the trees still held on to their golden hue and some of the plants had some greenery to them. It looks like the community really backs and maintains the park. In warmer months, there is a lot of special events here.
West Side Community Garden in the Summer
Down the street from the school and the parks is Ballet Hispanico at the corner of 167 West 89th and Amsterdam Avenue. Some of the holiday shows had been posted and looked rather interesting. The building was closed the day I was there.
The last part of my journey of the streets of the neighborhood was crossing West 90th Street for a second time and exploring the avenues. I stopped at the St. Gregory’s Playground near the corner of West 90th Street and Columbus Avenue. this little pocket park on the other side of the West Side Community Garden is in dire need of a face lift. I can see this is something the neighborhood needs as a parent yelled out to me if I was from the NYC Parks Department (I have no clue why I look so important to people when walking around the city. Either I look like a policeman or a city official).
There is another small park behind the Wise Houses, a small public housing project, in this very quickly gentrifying and updated neighborhood. As I had read online and seen by walking though it (more stares from the residents), the small park has some unique fixtures yet is falling apart when you really look at it. The benches and some of the equipment is in need of repair but I could tell is well used by the residents by the kids running around. Like the St. Gregory playground, it could use a facelift.
The last part of the walk took me back to West End Avenue on West 90th Street and the most elegant row of brownstone homes that lined the avenue. I have noticed on my walk of this neighborhood that the individual homes along the streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue and Riverside Drive and West End Avenue have some of the most unique architecture in the neighborhood.
It must have been something when the whole neighborhood must have looked like this but that is progress. In the middle of the neighborhood, the area keeps updating, modernizing and changing. It seems that the neighborhood is morphing into something a little more upscale like its southern neighbors and less like Manhattan Valley to the north. For now, not quite the traditional Upper West Side but still homey and welcoming to people moving in. I enjoyed my afternoons here.
Take the A or C or 1 subway trains to the Upper Upper West Side. The A train will be express from 59th Street to 125th Street.
I had another beautiful day in the city. I can’t believe this is fall with the 82 degree days. It is so funny to see so many people in outdoor cafes this late into the season. It reminded me of when I was walking Morningside Heights in February and it was 82 degrees then. The weather has been very wacky this year and everyone says there is no Global Warming. That’s hard to believe.
I finally managed to sneak into the city to walk the Avenues of the Upper Upper West Side. I had spent the morning in the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen again and they put me back to work in the kitchen. By the time I left chopping loads of chicken breasts up for the next day’s lunch, I was exhausted. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it is going to be busy in the prep kitchen. I had been in the prep kitchen during the holidays and it is a lot of work.
I started my walk this afternoon by relaxing with lunch at Zhong Hua Chinese Restaurant at 23 West 100th Street (See review on TripAdvisor), a tiny hole in the wall Chinese restaurant I passed when walking Manhattanville. This is right on the border at the official end of the Upper West Side meets the Douglas Housing Projects. I could tell most of the customers came from the housing projects by the customer base walking in. They must be very loyal because the staff knew who everyone was and said hello.
Zhong Hua at 23 West 100th Street
There are a couple of tables to sit at in the restaurant and it is not the fanciest place but the food is not bad. I had a Sweet & Sour Chicken lunch special. It was okay. Typical Chinese-American cooking. It tasted like fresh Chicken McNuggets with a standard red sweet sauce and served with white rice. The combination lunch special was $6.00 with a Coke and was not bad. Not the greatest but not bad. It filled me up for my long walk around the neighborhood.
The Sweet & Sour Pork was okay
Columbus Avenue was my first part of the walk. Columbus Avenue was the new trendy avenue when the city started to gentrify in the early 80’s through the crash of ’87 and now has settled into a more upper middle class street with a combination of upscale stores and chains. There are so many banks on the avenue that I do not understand how they survive. This was at one shining moment the center of the island with all the new innovative restaurants and shops opening up here starting with Museum Café opening right across the street from the American Museum of Natural History (it now houses a Shake Shack ten restaurants later). As someone noted in New York Magazine, it looks like a suburban mall with the parking (which is true for most of the island now).
In the upper 90’s, Columbus Avenue has turned into a series of large apartment buildings that must have been started in the late 90’s. It has changed the complexity of the neighborhood which was once all low-lining buildings. The border shared with Manhattanville gets even weirder with a Whole Foods and new luxury shopping one block from the Douglas Houses. It is a strange move but it seems that everyone is using the Whole Foods from all over the neighborhood so some marketing person was thinking.
The transition of the Upper West by the Whole Foods and the Douglass Houses
Once you cross over to the 80’s blocks, the architecture turns back into the more traditional low-rise buildings of the turn of the last century which is what gives the neighborhood its charm. Like the rest of the city, there have been a rash of small business closings around the block as the twenty year leases that were signed in the 90’s when the neighborhood was still transitioning have come up and the complaints that the rents have tripled and quadrupled. The mix is now around the museum bunch of extremely expensive restaurants and realtors . This is not the West Side I remember.
One store that does stand out as being different is the Wild Bird Feed at 565 Columbus Avenue that seems more a hospital than a retail store. It saves pigeons and doves and brings them back to health. The rest is a combination of chain stores and expensive decorating places.
Amsterdam Avenue is pretty much the same as the parts in the areas above 90th Street is new apartment buildings and stores. Most of the chains have moved up to this area with the new buildings. As you move to the lower 90’s, Amsterdam Avenue becomes a series of neighborhood stores and restaurants that are strictly local. There are many great ethnic restaurants as well as all the services from laundry places to shoe repairs and drycleaners. They have really kept Amsterdam Avenue for the neighborhood.
At the corner of 84th and Amsterdam Avenue again is the Urban Assembly garden that now is producing fall vegetables. It is amazing how everything changes in just two weeks. The kids were out cleaning up the beds when I visited again and the teachers are eager for you to see what the kids are doing. Try to stop by the stand and at least say ‘hello’ to the kids.
Urban Assembly Garden on West 84th Street and Amsterdam Avenue
Across the street from the garden is West Side Kids at 498 Amsterdam Avenue which was mobbed with families who were shopping after school. There are some small restaurants a few doors down that were loaded with families. I could tell the parents here like their East Side counterparts really look after their kids education and welfare.
West Side Kids
Broadway from 96th Street to 84th Street is a series of chain stores and independents. This part of the avenue is quite nice because it has the island in the middle of the road with trees and flowers still holding on from the summer months. It is being lined with brand new apartment buildings that are sprouting up all along the avenue. I have never seen a block so in transition. This is Broadway from 110th Street straight down to Columbus Circle.
When you turn the corner onto West End Avenue, it is a whole other world. This is the land of prewar apartment buildings, old brownstones and single family homes. The side streets are unique brownstones where it looks like no two houses are the same. It is straight out of an exterior shot of ‘Sex and the City’.
If you are in the city for Halloween, there is a great holiday display outside the brownstone at West End Avenue and 90th Street. All sorts of movable ghouls and ghost are on display with a pumpkin demon flying up the side of the house. Some one is in the theater business here.
Halloween on the Upper West Side, the owner is very creative
There is a beautiful tutored mansion that is being renovated on the corner at 274 West End Avenue and 95th Street that you have to see. It looks like a traditional German home attached to a prewar apartment building.
274 West End Avenue
There are pillared twin mansions on the opposite corners of West End Avenue between 91st and 90th Streets with matching brownstones in the middle of the two homes. Both are being fixed up and the owners are very lucky to own such a beautiful, graceful homes. They look well-maintained and a little out of place with all the apartment buildings on the block.
West End Avenue has many architectural treasures
The Swan House at 95th and West End Avenue is a elegant old building with interesting landscaping around it. People do love their potted plants. The fortress like apartment building at 645 West End Avenue has the most interesting light features on the outside. They look like a giant is holding lanterns. It is straight out of the late 1890’s. I have never seen a light feature like this one. The building was designed by architect Gaetan Ajello and was built in 1912 (City Realty).
645 West End Avenue
At West End Avenue and 84th Street, there is a plaque to the famous composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, who lived in the building from 1926 to 1943. He did some of his most famous work when living in this building. Word of advice, don’t linger too long reading the plaque. The doorman will give you funny looks.
There is another gorgeous mansion on the corner at 272 West End Avenue and 91st Street that has been fixed up and again harks back to the time this was an exclusive neighborhood (more so than then now) and lined with private homes. This beautiful designed home was built in 1920 (City Realty).
272 West End Avenue
This whole area between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive from 66th Street straight up the west side of the island is lined with interesting apartment buildings. Each one is more unique than the other. It is a real change in these two blocks both in the architecture of the buildings and the feel of the neighborhood. It seems more quiet and reserved and the people walking along the streets seem more serious than their neighbors one block away. I just got that impression on the people living there by walking around at all hours of the day.
Dinner that night was at Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway on the corner of 100th Street (See the review on TripAdvisor & my blog DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The pizza is excellent made excellent by their delicious tomato sauce. I get so disappointed by many of these pizzeria’s in these neighborhoods that I pass. They look so good and end up having tasteless food (see review on Arturo’s on the East Side. Great portion sizes at a great price but no flavor to the food).
Not at Cheesy Pizza. The pizza is full of flavor and loaded with their delicious sauce and loads of cheese. They have some excellent deals with eight specials available all day long for $5.00, which is a steal in this economy. I had the personal pizza with a Coke and you got four nice slices of pizza that is freshly made for you. I was not only impressed with the quality but with the friendly service as the guys behind the counter seemed happy to see me. I guess its the cop thing again. This place warrants a few more visits.
Before I headed downtown, I made a special trip to Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway and 105th Street for dessert (See review on TripAdvisor & my blog DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The pastries here are excellent and rival their counterparts in other parts of the island. The nice part is they are very reasonable. Nothing is over $5.00. The quality is excellent and the staff is not snotty like some of the bakeries on the East Side where they want to charge you $20.00 for a cake that costs about $3.00 in materials. I know rents are high but come on.
Silver Moon Bakery
Silver Moon Bakery is the home of the Crumuffin, which I have talked about before. I got a little boring and got a Linzer Tart. It was excellent. The cookie itself was so buttery and tasted like it had just come out of the oven. The raspberry jelly was tart and sweet and the cookie broken apart in my mouth when I ate it. Like a piece of heaven.
That is the one thing about Silver Moon Bakery unlike their uptown competition. The product has not been sitting out all day long. The items are obviously bake in small batches throughout the day. Make the trip on the Number One Subway to 103rd Street to visit the bakery. Its worth the travel time.
Overall, I covered a lot of the Upper West Side, revisited a few haunts that I wanted to see again and got to relax and explore Riverside Park. The Upper West Side has so much to offer and I will see more when I walk the streets in the neighborhood.
It took a couple of days to give the neighborhood a long walk, but I covered all the space in three days. This is such an interesting neighborhood and so many people took an interest in what I was doing over in the time I spent here.
It was hot and humid my first day in Manhattan Valley at 81 degrees. I got up to neighborhood in the later afternoon after a long day wrapping spoons at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. It may not sound that exciting but it is one of the most important stations at the kitchen. You need a constant supply of silverware to help feed everyone.
I started the walk at the E subway station on the edge of Central Park. On a hot day, the park was packed with people getting a tan, fishing in the Meer, walking their dogs or just hanging out. This part of the summer is nice because the tourists are walking around and it is fun to watch them make a fuss at everything.
Harlem Meer in northern Central Park
The first couple of blocks along 109th and 108th Streets are filled with prewar apartment buildings, schools and small playgrounds and many small brownstones. A lot of the buildings in this area are being sandblasted back to their former glory. Closer to the parks, the buildings have an elegant feel with their carved marble fronts and small gardens and potted plants decorated them. The sign of a doorman says that this area is getting more expensive.
On 107th Street, I saw many beautiful buildings in various stages of renovation on all the blocks as this are is beginning to become part of the Upper West Side fabric. Many of the small brownstones along Manhattan Avenue had been swept in their fronts and their plants were in full bloom. Again, I love the block between 106th and 107th Streets. Tucked in between all those little mansions and brownstones is The Nicholas Roerich Museum at 319 West 107th Street
The tiny Nicholas Roerich Museum is packed with interesting art
The Museum was founded in 1949 to house a permanent collection of over two hundred paintings by the Russian-born artist, poet, philosopher and humanitarian, Nicholas Roerich. The museum also houses a library of books and maintains an archive and a collection of artifacts relating to the areas of Roerich’s interests (Museum guide).
The art at the museum has a Asian influence to it
When you reach Riverside Drive, there is a beautiful line of old marble mansions that line the drive from 106th to 105th Streets. These were built at a time when money was no object and living along the park was a sophisticated choice. These homes are all being renovated and one wonders if they are going to become private homes again. When rounding 107th Street along Riverside Park, take time to look at these homes from the park side and you can imagine the view they have from the front of these homes.
I walked all around Riverside Park in this part of the neighborhood and it is just beautiful when the trees are in full form. The shade trees and paths offer refuge from the hot sun and it is fun to watch the neighborhood kids play in the playgrounds with their parents and nannies. It is nice to see a group of kids enjoying nature and not glued to a cell phone. From the park, these are the most gorgeous views of the Hudson River with the cliffs in New Jersey in the background and a constant stream of boats in the river passing you by.
Riverside Park is just breathtaking
I made a lunch stop at SheShe Pizzeria at 961 Columbus Avenue at 107th Street (See my TripAdvisor review and my blog DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@ WordPress.com). This small pizzeria has delicious food with the most reasonable lunch specials. Their lunch menu has ten lunch specials for $5.00 including a personal pizza with pepperoni that I had with a Coke for lunch.
SheShe Pizza at 961 Columbus Avenue
This small ten inch pizza was freshly cooked for me by the owner of the restaurant. It was loaded with pepperoni and cheese and when it came out of the oven was cut into four generous slices. The sauce is flavorful and the slices are all stringy and gooey with the melted cheese. It is the perfect lunch/dinner if you have a good appetite. Their spaghetti and meatballs was terrific too that I had another day I was in the neighborhood for lunch. The service is very warm and welcoming and he remembered me from a few days earlier.
To work off all this good food, stop back at the ‘Mobilize for Change’ Community Garden across the street at the corner of 107th Street and Columbus Avenue and stroll through the gardens again. The gardens are in full bloom and it is a nice place to just walk around the paths and look at the progress of the individual vegetable gardens. The tomatoes are really coming in.
Mobilization for Change Community Garden
One the most beautiful buildings in the neighborhood along Central Park West and 106th Street is 455 Central Park West, the old New York Cancer Hospital. Years ago when I was walking around the neighborhood, this was an abandoned building that was all boarded up and graffiti ladened. Now it is park of an exclusive apartment complex. The hospital part of the apartment building was build in 1887 with additions in 1889 and 1890. It was designed by architect Charles Coolidge Haight in the French Chateaux style with English Gothic trim (City Realty).
To live in the Victorian section of the building must cost now millions of dollars. The whole building was renovated back to life and is one of the most unusual pieces of architecture in the neighborhood with an incorporated tower behind it. It is also rumored to be haunted.
455 Central Park West the old New York Cancer Hospital is now luxury condos
In between Columbus and Manhattan Avenues on 105th Street is the La Perla Community Garden. The garden was created around 1992 when a group of neighborhood citizens got together to clean out a garbage dump of a lot and turned it into a vibrant garden with paths leading through trees, flower and vegetable beds. There is even original graffiti art from one of the local artists all along the walls of the building that surround it.
La Perla Community Garden
I talked with one of the creators of the garden, Carmen Ortiz, talked with me that afternoon. “It took about ten years to clean the lot out and that was constantly throwing out the garbage to the curb just to get all the debris out. We have worked so hard to create and maintain the garden and now a piece of it is being sold off.” Currently the middle part of the garden was owned by two couples but the taxes are getting too high and the neighborhood is changing so fast, that it was cost effective to sell it. Now the left side of the garden will be a new townhouse while the rest of the garden will remain.
“It’s sad because we do so much for the community here,” Ms. Ortiz added. “We will be having a flea market this weekend and have Jazz Concerts here. During the holidays, we have events for the neighborhood children. You can see by the plantings, everyone has a plot here.” Several raised beds contain various vegetable plantings. I just hope that building this new townhouse does not affect the garden to the point where nothing can grow there. Its a sad commentary to the city when something that New Yorkers spent their time on to make better improved the neighborhood to the point that it was its own demise in the end.
Along West 104th Street between Central Park West and Manhattan Avenue, you will see another set of Community Gardens which is interesting because the plot has a prewar apartment building right smack in the middle of it. The center piece of this garden is the Jesus Crawford Rose Garden which was just losing the last of its blooms when I visited it. This was named after the creator of the garden.
Just like ‘Le Perla’ and ‘Mobilization for Change’ gardens, this garden has added much needed green space to the neighborhood with trees and raised vegetable gardens that add that sense of neighborhood to the street. At the height of the summer, it is nice to see all of these gardens in full bloom and the fresh vegetables on their way.
Walking through the Douglass Houses and the projects in general are always amusing to me. I never know the reception I will get. For the most part, I crisscrossed through the walkways of the projects from 104th to 100th Street. I visited all the playgrounds and community areas to sit and people just ignored me but looked out of the corner of their eyes to see what I was doing.
I watched some kids playing on the swings and some people attending the community gardens that they had planted but for the most part I saw a lot of socialization along Columbus Avenue. Many groups of men set up tables and while blasting Spanish music played cards and domino’s and watched the neighborhood go by. I am sure that for all the game playing these guys know perfectly well what is going on around them and the surrounding buildings. That struck me as watching everything.
Its at 100th Street where Manhattan Valley joins the rest of the Upper West Side as new office and apartment buildings have been built along Columbus, Amsterdam and Broadway. This area is guarded by a police and fire station around the corner so there is action here all day long.
You can go to the bathroom either in Fredrick Douglass Park near 104th Street or at the Whole Foods at 100th Street. Stick with Whole Foods as it is cleaner and cooler plus you can use the water fountain.
When I was walking in between Riverside and West End Avenues, I came across a community bench designed by artist Linus Coraggio who lives on the block (website: LinusCoraggio@verison.net). It just so happened the artist was outside fixing his motorcycle and we got to talking about his work. He showed me the bench and all its detail work. He had lived in the area for many years and had watched it change from bad to better.
His current specialty is welded, crafted figurative and abstract sculpture and furniture. I even read online that Ringo Starr is one of his clients. He was showing the work he was doing on the brownstone he was living in, doing work around the railing and in the foyer of the building all the ceiling work. His attention to detail and to how the work flows is a sign that he takes his time with each piece. It is an interesting set of artwork with all sorts of bends and twists to the metal work.
Check out this YouTube Trailer on the artist
He even has a chair he created right in front of the building. It twists and turns and the metal work is extremely creative in that you can tell the detail and the amount of time to get the metal to work in this fashion. You almost don’t want to sit in it. He told me he currently has a show going on in the East Village and a studio up in Ellenville, NY. Just stop on this block alone to see his craftsmanship. It is beautiful.
On 99th Street just off Amsterdam Avenue, there is the Church St. Michael’s Parish at 225 West 99th Street, which has the nicest garden to sit in. It is a nice place to relax and just think. Tranquil is the word for it.
The Church of Saint Michael at 225 West 99th Street
It is beautifully planted and everything was in full bloom. It was nice to just stop and take a break here. Take a look at their postings as they have a lot of activities going on.
A couple of mornings later, I came back to finish the bottom part of the neighborhood and walked 96th Street again to see how the neighborhood transitions. The streets between 96th and 98th Streets are filled with smaller marble brownstones and many attractive prewar apartments. There are a lot of businesses transitioning along these streets as I see many of the older businesses now sitting empty with ‘For Rent’ signs telling the rents are changing in this part of the neighborhood as well. Soon they will be filled with the next wave of chain stores and glitzy restaurants.
This part of the neighborhood was easy to walk because the Central Park West Apartments and their playground stop the side streets between 98th to 99th Streets and the rest of the complex is gated off. My suggestion is do not try to walk through the complex because the signs are very blatant that they are watching you. You can see from the streets though there is a large parking lot and several well landscaped paths surrounding the buildings. I was just surprised they built these and the projects right next to one another.
Central Park West Towers have a lot of security
I stopped at Telo Deli at 23 West 100th Street for some of their homemade empanadas ($1.25). They were so good I had to go back a second time for another which made the man behind the counter pretty happy. Try the pizza and chicken ones. They are generously filled and cooked perfectly. It is a good place to stop for a reasonable snack.
My last part of the day before I walked across Central Park to start my trip to Coney Island for my ‘Q to Q subway trip’ from 96th Street on the East Side to Coney Island on Stillwell Avenue, I stopped back at SheShe Pizzeria at 961 Columbus Avenue, to try one more thing on the lunch special menu. This was one of the inspirations for my new blog “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com’. For $5.00, these lunches are exceptional.
I tried the side order of ziti with meatballs and it was more than a side order. You got a very generous portion of perfectly cooked ziti with about three fresh meatballs that were sliced on top and then put under the broiler. I could just about finish it. The meatballs had a nice garlicky taste to them and the sauce was well spiced. It looked like the owner was happy to see me again. I will be back again for another personal pizza.
As I finished my walk of Manhattan Valley, I really felt that neighborhood aspect of this community. For a section of a major city, this had a small town friendly feel about it. The people here, no matter where they live want this to be the best community it can be and I was impressed by all the free time the residents donate to make it that way. Whether it was Carmen Ortiz and her partner in the garden, Bob, spending their time weeding beds to Linus Coraggio donating his creativity to building a bench for people to relax in to the guys playing dominoes watching what everyone was doing, I could feel the sense of neighborhood here.
Manhattan Valley (the Bloomingdale District) is the imagine of what people would think the Upper West Side is like in the 1970’s. It reminded me of an old Woody Allen film. It still has that old New York feel to it before gentrification rolled over the lower part of this side of the island. I think what keeps the neighborhood grounded is the Douglass Housing Complex in the middle of the neighborhood which runs from 104th Street to 100th Street from Amsterdam Avenue to Manhattan Avenue. The Park West Apartment Condo Complex anchors the southern part of the neighborhood.
The fringes of this neighborhood on all sides are quickly gentrifying from the sandblasting of buildings and new businesses along Broadway to almost everything north of 104th Street to 110th Street from Riverside Drive to Central Park West. Everything seems to have scaffolding in front of it, already is being cleaned and buffed or in the process of it. It is a mixture of old and new and it seems that the population likes it this way. The one thing I have to say it feels like a real neighborhood.
The Dutch called the area, “Bloemendaal”, which translates to “Valley of Flowers” as the area was once home to many farms and forests. The whole area was once the summer home to the wealthy residents from downtown and as the city grew, the area was dissected by the street system. There are still many pocket parks, community gardens and playgrounds plus it is bounded by Riverside Drive and Central Park.
Bloomingdale in its rural days
My day began with another busy day at the Soup Kitchen. I admit I don’t think that in this economy I don’t think it is going to be getting slower. We’re consistent every time I am there. Not the 1500 meal days we used to have but it still gets busy. I work the busy extra Bread station and they love their raisin bagels when we have them. I did not get of there until 12:30pm.
I started the walk at 110th Street with lunch at my new favorite Chinese restaurant, Hunan Chen’s Kitchen at 1003 A Columbus Avenue (See TripAdvisor review and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I had an order of their Orange Chicken and it was out of this world. The food there is excellent and for the size of the portion and the quality of the dishes, this place should be on everyone’s map. The orange chicken was perfectly cooked, crisp from the deep fry and the fried rice is good for a lunch portion. Their egg rolls are quite good as well.
Hunan Chen’s Chinese Restaurant
(Note to all readers: I have added a new blog site along with ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ to accompany ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. The new site is called ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com’, where I will be featuring restaurants I find on my travels around the island and beyond for under $10.00. There have to be more people like myself who are on a budget).
I had my lunch on the benches by the entrance of Morningside Park and on a sunny day, there is nothing like it. It must be a favorite of the neighborhood because I found myself with a crowd around the benches. I guess the park’s lurid past is behind it now as I watched a soccer game from the bench as I was eating. It is a nice place to relax and gather your thoughts.
After lunch, I started walking the Avenues that go up and down the neighborhood. This side of the island is a little smaller than the East Side of the park, six streets as opposed to eight. It was still quite the walk.
Where I like to eat my lunch when I am at Morningside Park
My first street was Manhattan Avenue and this street is just as juxtaposed as the other neighborhoods uptown. You can go from luxury brownstones to the projects in just one block. Lining Manhattan Avenue from 106th to 105th Streets are some of the most picturesque brownstones with front gardens and potted plants that you will see in the city. Each one is nicer than the other and seem unique in their own way because of their design and their plantings. I can imagine how they must decorate around the holidays.
Once you pass 104th Street, the large Fredrick Douglass Houses start to dominate the neighborhood. I think that the project has kept this part of Manhattan from fully gentrifying as it dominates the whole core of the neighborhood from 104th to 100th Streets from Manhattan Avenue to Amsterdam Avenue. Like most of the housing complexes I have walked through, everyone pretty much ignored me. Tables of older Dominican men played cards and dominoes on a nice day, young mothers were in the playgrounds, which were nicer then most of the complexes I have seen and one family even had a lemonade/snack stand near the Youth Hostel on Amsterdam Avenue between 104th and 103rd Streets.
Fredrick Douglass Houses
Manhattan Avenue stops at 100th Street in front the big Central Park West Condo complex which looks like middle-class housing to me. All I know is that they want you to stay out of the complex. There are signs all over the place that the through ways are for residents only and there is security all over the place. I won’t be able to walk through that too quickly.
Columbus Avenue below 100th Street joins the rest of the Upper West Side with shops and restaurants and a large Whole Foods which is a nice place to go to the bathroom if you need it and to fill up water bottles. Above 100th Street, it is dominated by the housing complex and then it changes back to small stores and prewar apartments.
A nice stop is the ‘Mobilization for Change Community Garden’ at Columbus Avenue at 107th Street. What a beautiful pocket park. It has colorful flower beds to walk through and there are elevated vegetable gardens that residents plant in and all the plants are in the stage of maturity that herbs are standing tall and vegetables are ready to ripen. It is a nice place to sit and relax.
The people there are very nice and talk about their role in helping make the garden what it is today. Take time to walk the path through the garden. This garden was created in the late 1980’s, when the neighborhood was not so nice and it was a dumping ground. The community really transformed this lot into something special.
Mobilization for Change Community Garden
Columbus Avenue dissects the Park West Village Apartment complex, so you get to see the planted gardens and paths that lead through the complex. Behind that, starts the modern shopping district. This area is totally being rebuilt and there are new buildings all over this section of the neighborhood. I was not able to walk through the complex as security is all over the place. There are also cameras all over the place. So I just walked around it.
Park West Village Apartments cuts the neighborhood in half
At the bottom of Columbus Avenue, a new complex of buildings has been built with all new shops and a new Whole Foods are right across from the Douglass Houses. 100th Street is the obvious border of the Upper West Side to this neighborhood. This is when you see the community really mixing. I saw a lot of Whole Foods bags heading up the road. The Whole Foods is nice because it is also a place with a nice public bathroom and a place to fill your water bottle. The only other option is the Fredrick Douglass Park and their bathroom which needs a lot of work.
Amsterdam Avenue is a continuation of what it is uptown. A transformation of a neighborhood depending on the block that you live on. Everything above 104th Street and below 100th Street is quickly improving with old prewar apartments under scaffolding and new restaurants replacing old ones. Little by little the area is starting to change. Even the Amsterdam House, a public housing unit, is getting a make over right across the street from Fredrick Douglass Park.
At Amsterdam Avenue and 104th Street is the Youth Hostel that sits on the fringe of the Fredrick Douglass Houses. I was wondering why there were so many twenty year olds in this area walking around and speaking so many languages. (These kids fill all the reasonable restaurants in the area that inspired my blog, “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com”). There are so many great restaurants in the area where you can eat for under $10.00 and I wanted to let everyone know that they are there). This area gets very active later in the day when everyone comes back from visiting other parts of the city.
Between 100th and 99th Streets, St. Michael’s Church dominates the street with the most beautiful stained glass windows and the architecture is amazing. Really take a good look at the detail work of the building. On the way back up, walk through the Fredrick Douglass Park and watch the neighborhood come alive. There are kids screaming in the pool, hipster types playing soccer in the field and mothers from all over the neighborhood playing in the park with their kids and socializing with one another. This is where the neighborhood really mingles and you see it come alive.
St. Michael’s Church
Rounding Broadway is where you see the real changes happening in the neighborhood. Broadway is where the neighborhood shines with its diversity of businesses and housing. Being two blocks from the Douglass Houses, it also shows how the fringes of this neighborhood are starting to change. Older businesses are next to newer hipper restaurants and it makes a nice mix. Some of the most interesting buildings are in this area and really look up as you walk around or you might miss it.
The most interesting aspect of Broadway is the landscaped ‘Mall’ that runs in the middle of the street and gives nature its due throughout the neighborhood with trees and flowers lining the middle and benches to relax and just walk the world go by.
At 107th Street and Broadway is Straus Park, dedicated to Isidor and Ida Straus who died in the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. The Straus family had ownership of Macy’s Department Store at the time and had been very prominent in the business world. I remembered when I had worked at Macy’s that there had been a park dedicated to them.
Straus Park at Broadway and 107th Street
This graceful park is lined with trees, flowers and bushes and is beautifully landscaped to match the Broadway Mall across the street. There are lots of benches to relax in and the park is well maintained by the neighborhood. The four days I spent in the neighborhood there was always someone weeding, pruning or watering something. It is a nice place to take a book or get some writing done. Many of the residents socialize here and it is a nice gathering place. The memorial dedicated to the two of them is simple and graceful and fits into the park nicely.
Just across the street from the park inside the walls of the Broadway island, take at look at ground level and you will see the mosaics of the Duke Ellington Memorial. This small display tucked into the walls of the island is almost hidden so you have to sit down to see it or you will miss it.
The park also dissects the streets, where Broadway and West End Avenue fork and separate into two different streets. Walking down Broadway when you reach 103rd Street, artist Joy Brown has another one of her ‘people’ statues that I had seen further uptown.
Ms. Brown was born and raised in Japan and concentrates on larger installations.
Here the adult was walking with her child. These statues are whimsical and almost like a animated character in 3D. Many of her statues line Broadway at various streets uptown.
Joy Brown’s Statue on Broadway
On the island on Broadway between 106th and 107th Streets look to the bottom of the wall and you will see the most interesting artwork in memory of Duke Ellington. Look by the walls by the benches and you will see the mosaic on both parts of the wall.
Being so humid that day, I made a pit stop at McDonald’s. I stopped for one of their frozen strawberry lemonade’s. I swear, that drink is one of the best things to drink on a humid day. It cools you inside and out. I ordered a medium and I did not need to drink anything for the rest of the walk. I was totally refreshed.
McDonald’s Strawberry Lemonade in one of the unofficial drinks of “MywalkinManhattan.com”
Take a look at the Metro Theater, closed now, to see the interesting Art Deco details on the building. It would be nice if this could be opened in its original shape but for now it stands boarded up awaiting its fate. A lot of Broadway is now being lined with new apartment buildings and shops that are connecting it to the rest of the Upper West Side.
Metro Theater on Broadway
West End Avenue is onto itself as a more residential block. I get the impression by the people walking around this street that they take themselves a little too seriously. Everyone I saw had this determined look on their faces. I could not figure out why.
The buildings that line the street between 106th to 96th Street are mostly prewar apartment houses with detailed marble carvings. The side streets are lined with a combination of old brownstones and smaller apartment houses. Planters with small trees and flowers dominate the buildings and give it a more European feel to them. One of the most beautiful buildings on the block is at 925 West End Avenue.
The building was built in 1899 and known as The Alimar. It was designed by Elisha Harris Janes and Richard Leopold Leo and built by Hamilton W. Reed. The team that designed this building also built the equally beautiful Dorilton on Broadway near West 72nd Street. Really look up at the details (City Realty).
925 West End Avenue
It is a marble building where you see numerous faces and animals carved into the marble. There are two similar buildings like this in the neighborhood but this one is most spectacular. Look at the grill work and the windows and it will make you fall in love again with the treasures that the city offers.
I took a detour off West End Avenue to walk down several of the side streets to see how nicely the buildings blended into Riverside Park. The block between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive are the most gentile part of the neighborhood and show off some its oldest architecture.
Riverside Park in the Bloomingdale section of the Upper West Side
This is a classic New York neighborhood showing the ‘old’ New York. As I said earlier, there is something very mid-70’s to early 80’s about this part of the Upper West Side. Its changing but not like the hyper-luxury buildings further downtown. Its like walking around the city at a time when New York City was getting better for New Yorkers not a real estate investment from abroad.
This is one of the more “New York” neighborhoods in Manhattan.