Do you know how horrible it is to lose to Columbia University in football? It’s when you lose to them by over twenty points. Both of our teams were 5-4 and the team that won not only won the Empire State Award (big deal) but had a winning record. I knew that we were in trouble when we fell behind 21-0.
Getting ready for the game
It was finally jubilant when we scored a touchdown and then it was 21-7. It was just meant to be as we fell behind again and again. The worst was toward the end of the game when we were at 38-22 and we kicked an onside kick. That is always a big mistake because it always ends with the other team getting a touchdown. Columbia got a touchdown immediately and the final score was 45-22. That was embarrassing.
The end of the game Columbia 45-Cornell 22 not our best game
It had been a nice afternoon in the stadium with clear blue skies and the weather was cool and crisp at between 48 to 50 degrees. I could not believe the crowd of alumni at the game. Even though Columbia is considered our rival I never took it much as a rivalry.
Cornell Alumni filling the stands at Columbia; we always outnumber them
Both of our teams in all the years that I have been coming to the game have not been that good. It’s just nice to go to a game and cheer someone on. It amazes me how every year no matter who wins we have more people in the stands than Columbia does.
It was beautiful in the stadium as long as the sun was out (then we got cold as darkness came)
Preparing to enter the stadium with great hopes of a blowout against Columbia
We came out so enthusiastic and ready to play ball, but it just did not look good when we could not score on the first play. We just did not look like we have a game plan. Then Columbia just kept scoring on us.
The start of the game
Even at half time, our band could not play on the field because one of the alumni said that they had a hazing problem at the Columbia band (which is so small I do not know what type of problems that they could have) and they banned them from campus. Then they banned other Ivy League teams from playing on their field as well. Let me put it this way, it was not the most exciting game. If it had not been for the group of alumni behind me cracking jokes and having fun, I would have been bored. The game became subdued when they left at the beginning of fourth quarter.
Going in for our first touchdown Columbia 21-Cornell 7
What also got to me was that it got dark in the stadium early. By the end of third quarter, the sun really moved across the sky, and it not only got dark, but it started to get cold in the stadium as well. For most of the game, it was clear, sunny and crisp and was pleasant in the stadium.
Going in for our third touchdown Columbia 38-Cornell 22
Then I noticed how fast the sun was moving in the sky and you could feel the evening chill. It must have dropped fifteen degrees by the time we left the stadium at the end of the game.
The last play of the game
After the game was over, I headed down to the Cornell Club on West 44th Street for the Annual Sy Katz Parade. In previous years, I had seen complete subway cars filled with alumni leaving the game. This time around there were only a handful of us on the Number One downtown. I thought that was strange.
Our teams are civil even after a loss
When I got to Rockefeller Center where the parade traditionally begins there was no one there. The two couples I came downtown with were there but then they disappeared. After waiting for about a half hour, I headed down to the Cornell Club on East 44th Street to see what was going on.
The end of the game
When I got to the club, I found out that they had to change the route of the parade due to permit problems and we started in front of One Vanderbilt Avenue between Grand Central Terminal and the office building in the plaza. It was funny to hear that somehow the two busses of band members and alumni heading back to campus got lost somewhere in New Jersey and had to head back into Manhattan. So, the rest of the alumni had to wait in Vanderbilt Plaza in the cold until they arrived about a half hour later. Then the fun began.
Preparing for the Sy Katz Parade in Vanderbilt plaza on Vanderbilt Avenue outside Grand Central Terminal
The Cornell Marching Band really got everyone revved up and the Cornell Cheerleaders and Dance Team really got everyone in the spirit (even though we got our asses kicked earlier in the day) and we had a good time as we made our way up Vanderbilt Avenue. We ended at the entrance of the Cornell Club on East 44th Street.
The Cornell Marching Band preparing for the parade from Vanderbilt Avenue
Cornell Alumni marching in the parade
Alumni marching to the Cornell Club where the pep rally is held every other year
The Band played all the school fight songs, the Alumna Mater and then traditional fight songs from the games. Since I was not an undergraduate at Cornell (I went for the PDP Graduate Program), I never learned the songs. I have to watch the YouTube videos on “On the Shores of Lake Cayuga” to learn the words. It has taken years to perfect it. Not like the Spartan songs from Michigan State (we were also having a bad football year) and I will do not know all the words to “MSU Shadows”.
Cornell School Song
‘Give my Regards to Davey’ (I never got this song)
The alumni were all excited and joined in the singing of the songs, watching the band hold their own traditions with marches and songs and then Sy Katz’s daughter, Alice, gave a speech in front of the club to wish everyone well. Her and her family were so happy that so many people came out to the parade. She and her family greeted the crowd so warmly that the alumni cheered her on as well. It was a nice crowd of enthusiastic people who sang and cheered.
Alice Katz welcoming the crowds at the Cornell Club on East 44th Street
Someone shot this at the parade in 2022
The Parade in 2018 pre-COVID
Our mascot also sang and danced at the parade
After the parade was over and most of the Alumni left for the evening, I joined everyone else in the Cayuga Room for a post-Alumni Tailgate dinner. It was really nice but I have to admit that the food tasted like it had been sitting for a bit.
The Hot Chicken Wings and the fresh salads were the best part of the tailgate
The Hamburger Sliders were hard and the buns crunched when you bit into them. The Chicken Fingers were good but tepid. The rest of the food was wonderful. They had two green salads, a Chili Bar with sides, a Meatball dish with a sweet sauce, a vegetarian sandwich and the best were the Hot Chicken Wings which were the best I have tasted in a while. We ended up going through two trays of those while I was in the room eating.
The sliders had been under the heat lamp or the warmer too long
For dessert, they had assorted cookies and brownies with tea, coffee and hot chocolate which was perfect when I was trying to warm up after it being so cool outside.
The desserts at the club are always wonderful
As I talked with other Alumni, I was amazed that I was the only one at my side of the table who went to the game. Everyone else had come in for the parade and tailgate. The one thing everyone said to me at the table when I discussed us getting our asses kicked was “You went to the Game?” I then replied, “Didn’t you?” and it was the same answer, “No, I do not go to that.” I took it as the alumni that went to the game were not the same ones that went to the parade. Oh well!
I had a wonderful time and it was so nice to have this event since the last time in 2018. So it will be until 2024 the next time I go again. I could not believe that I have been coming to this for over a decade.
I love going to the Museum of Modern Art! I have been a member since 2004 and have been going to the museum since I was eight years old, and I always see something new. Tonight, we were in for the Director’s Cut version of the Peter Bogdanovich film “Squirrels to the Nuts”, which I had recently seen on YouTube movies as the recut version “She’s Funny that Way”. You could tell there was a difference in the films as the original felt more like “What’s Up Doc?”, his comedy from the 1970’s which I love so much and one of my favorite films. This version shot on location in Manhattan was much funnier than the recut version.
The original film is so much different and a lot funnier that the cut version and had the same feel as “What’s Up Doc?” even casting Austin Pendleton who had played Fredrick Larrabee in the movie. He was just as funny in this film as the former. All of us in the audience were laughing our heads off. You could barely hear the dialogue the audience was laughing so much. The movie also showcased Manhattan pre-COVID in the Bloomberg years of the City when it was at its best. Funny how that changed.
This is the Trailer for the cut version of the film “She’s Funny that Way”. The full version of the film is free on YouTube.
The full film can be seen for free on YouTube (I could not connect it)
The Writer/Director Peter Bogdanovich discusses the film
Some of the funniest scenes are when the prostitutes were hiding in the bathroom when the wives walked in and the stolen merchandise scenes at both the old Barney’s and at Macy’s Herald Square. Still the best scene is when Austin Pendleton’s wife knocked him into bathtub in the apartment scene. I could not stop laughing at that (it was cut out of the film that was released).
I laughed so hard that I had to see the movie a second time on Friday night because the museum posted that Louise Stratten was going to be there to talk about the film. She was not there but the original editor of the film was there discussing what happened at the original premiere. It was nice to see both versions of the film and see the differences.
What I really love about this version of the film is that it showcases the beauty and complexity of Manhattan and New York City in general. With all the problems the City has now, this movie really puts all that aside and shows the positivity and growth that New York has in the Bloomberg years. Manhattan shined the way the movie did.
The Podcast on the movie with Louise Stratten
After laughing my head off for two hours, I was starved and on a cold night was in the mood for Soup Dumplings. So, I went three blocks down to Joe’s House of Dumplings at 7 East 48th Street. This is the third time I have eaten here, and the food just keeps getting better and better.
What I love about the restaurant (on top of the fact is that it’s the same family as the old Joe’s Shanghai from Chinatown), is that it is such an elegant space in a major Midtown office building.
7 East 48th Street
Joe’s House of Soup Dumplings at 7 East 48th Street
I have eaten here many times on my walks in the neighborhood of the Midtown East (see my blogs on Midtown East walks below) and the food is wonderful. The restaurant is so airy and elegant and what is nice is that it is an open kitchen, so you get to see the dumplings being made.
Check out my other blogs on Walking Midtown East:
Day One Hundred and Forty-Three-Walking the Borders of Midtown East:
I love coming here for Dim Sum, so I ordered the Spring Rolls, the Scallion Pancakes, the Hot & Sour Soup and to finish the meal, I ordered the Crab & Chicken Soup Dumplings. Everything was delicious and the best part is that I saw it being cooked. This is the nice part about eating at the bar.
The Spring Rolls are crisp and crackly
The Hot & Sour Soup had a nice peppery pinch to it, and you could taste the chilis in each slurp. The soup had a nice combination of vegetables and pork in a rich broth. The Spring Rolls were perfectly fried and inside a nice mixture of shrimp and shredded vegetables. They were crisp and crackled when I cut them. The Duck Sauce really brought out the flavor of the rolls. The Scallion Pancakes was crisp and loaded with scallions. The portion size was generous, and the ginger soy sauce tasted perfect on top.
The best is their Crab & Pork Soup Dumplings. These delightful juicy pillows of a mixture of pork and crab meat were steamed to perfection, and they burst in my mouth. Each of these juicy dumplings had the succulent taste of the mixture of meats and the soy sauce that I dipped each in. Soup Dumplings are the perfect meal on a cool Manhattan night.
The Crab & Chicken Soup Dumplings at Joe’s are excellent
When I left the restaurant after dinner, I walked down Fifth Avenue and admired the lit skyline of Midtown. It was such a clear and cool night. There were not a lot of people on the sidewalks that evening so it was nice to just look up and just admire the lights.
I forgot how beautiful Manhattan is at night and how many people wish they could be in the exact spot I was at all over the world.
It is amazing to be in a building a record number of times and miss a small gallery that makes an impact on a visitor. This is how I felt when I entered Grand Central Station recently and discovered the New York Transit Museum Gallery. This little gem is tucked into a corner away from the ticket booths and Grand Hall and is free to the public.
The Gallery is a branch of the larger New York Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn. This smaller space can be toured in about an hour which is perfect in case you need to spend some time in the terminal before your train.
The Gallery was showing an exhibition entitled “Transit…
After all the running around of the holiday season (and I ran from one part of the state to another), I finally got back into New York City to resume my walk of the Garment District. With a new variant spreading around the City, you would think the Manhattan would be quiet but that did not stop the tourists from coming to the museums and seeing the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree that was still up into the first week of January. It was business as usual just more people wearing masks outside.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was still packing them in after Christmas was over
Manhattan is resilient when it comes time for the pandemic. More restaurants, stores and businesses have opened up and like everyone else, you wear your mask to stay safe. I don’t mind showing my ID and my vaccination card if it means I can still enjoy doing the things I want to do, stay safe and support New York City businesses that desperately need the money.
I have to say one thing, everyone from stores to streets took down their Christmas decorations in record time. When I was in the City at the MoMA for a “The Contender’s Night” movie, I saw department store display windows being changed, the decorations outside Cartier being taken down on Fifth Avenue and most outdoor decorations gone even before the Epiphany. I thought that was strange but I guess it is time to move to Valentine’s Day and to Chinese New Year. Hope fully things will get better as it gets warmer in three months.
When I started my walk of the Avenues of the Garment District, some streets were busier than others. The core of the Garment District is still so quiet with most of the manufacturing that still goes on in the area shut down and even some of the hotels that have now been built in the area had a lack of guests. When I moved to the side streets in the afternoon, talk about no people and this is in the afternoon.
The thing about this part of Manhattan is that these buildings were built in post-war years and replaced most of the turn of the century buildings that I saw when you walk below 34th Street. These were built for the growing clothing businesses for manufacturing and showrooms which are now being refitted for offices of Tech and Advertising firms with most of the manufacturing being zoned out of the area during the Bloomberg Administration.
Even so some of these buildings have been torn down for new office and apartment buildings that are changing the whole Times Square/Garment District area. It is more of an extension of Midtown stretching down to 34th Street and then the historic older Midtown section begins with NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) and the Flatiron District. Still here and there tucked into corner of the streets and avenues, there are architectural gems and interesting artwork.
Another thing that the Garment District is known for is the bevy of reasonable restaurants that cater to the garment and office workers in the area. This has really been affected by COVID and several have closed for business, while others have finally reopened from their months of slumber. It is nice to see these businesses reopen and bring vibrance back to the area again.
I started my walk on Eighth Avenue exiting the Port Authority onto a crowded street with cars and cabs all over the place. For all the problems with COVID, New York City still seems very alive to me. From walking down Broadway to visiting the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center, there are tourists all over the place.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal is the main artery for people from New Jersey and Pennsylvania at 625 Eighth Avenue
As I was exiting the building to West 40th Street, I took a long look at the Ralph Kramden statute that sits just outside the Port Authority. I passed this sculpture many times over the years but when you really stop and admire it, you can see the detail work of the statute. The statue was dedicated in August of 2000 and was a gift from TV Land to the City of New York. It was thought at the time this would be the perfect spot as the character was a bus driver (CBS News 2000).
The “TV Land” sculpture of Jackie Gleason as ‘Ralph Kramden’ by artist Lawrence Nowland
Lawrence Nowland is an American born artist from Philadelphia, PA and was a graduate of Millersville University in Pennsylvania and did his graduate work at the New York Academy of Art School of Figurative Art and was known as a Figurative artist.
Walking down the block from the Port Authority, you will find one of the only branches of the Philipine based Jollibee fast food restaurant at 609 Eighth Avenue, one of five in the tri-state area. You can hooked on their Fried Chicken sandwiches and their peach/mango pie. The place has been crowded since its opening and made one of the quickest comebacks after everything opened up last June.
Walking down Eighth Avenue is a little gloomy during the week since COVID hit. This used to be such a bustling area with the manufacturers and showrooms in full swing. Now most of the streets are quiet from the offices being closed down. I can see how it is affecting the small clothing and fabric shops that still dot the side streets. Even with Fashion Institute of Technology reopening, it is still quiet.
Although not architecturally exciting, there are still a few gems located in the corners of the block. There are many small buildings in the neighborhood that I have passed for years on my way to work at Macy’s and I never really looked at them closely. You might miss them if you don’t look up and look at the details.
The first one is 301 West 37th Street which has the most unusual carvings of gargoyles all over the sides and inside the window ledges. It gives the building almost a creepy, demonist look to it. The building was built in 1915 and is currently going under a gut renovation.
Just off Eighth Avenue is Non Solo Piado, a wonderful little Italian restaurant that specializes in Roman street food. Every time I have eaten here the food is terrific. The restaurant specializes in a type of calzone/turnover called a “Cassoni” and crisp pizzas called a “Piadizze”. I have tried the Cassoni Napolento filled with sausage and potatoes in a pastry crust and the Piadizze Margherita with fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella. The food and service are excellent and so reasonable.
The other building that is grand in detail but has been sadly neglected over the years is 557 Eighth Avenue. The Beaux-arts’ designed building was built in 1903 by architect Emery Roth who was part of Stein, Cohen & Roth. It was run as a residential hotel for most of its history and now houses commercial space in the upper floors and fast-food restaurants on the bottom (DaytonianinManhattan.blogspot/Loopnet.com).
At the end of the block stands the Hotel New Yorker like a Grande Dame guarding the Garment District. The Hotel New Yorker on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 34th Street at 481 Eighth Avenue. The hotel was designed by architects Sugarman and Berger and designed in the Art Deco style. The hotel was constructed in 1928 and opened in 1930. The hotel now managed by Wyndam Hotels put the hotel through a full renovation in 2006 to bring it back to its glory years now reflected the resurgence of the neighborhood (Hotel New Yorker History website/Wiki).
This is where I am noticing that the neighborhood is changing during COVID. They are knocking down a lot of the West 34th corridor and rebuilding it especially around Madison Square Garden. This area really needed it. When I was working at Macy’s, this was not the safest area to walk around in. This was an area of cut-rate stores and depressing office buildings. It still amazes me how the City reinvents itself and the area is now a desirable for office workers and residential living. Being right near the subways, LIRR and shopping, it is showing the changes in the old Midtown district.
Walking back up Eighth Avenue, the architecture is mostly older loft buildings that are still used for light manufacturing and showrooms but on this avenue is a stretch of great restaurants that cater to the workers that are so reasonable.
Grilled Chicken at 230 West 36th Street is a great little hole in the wall that caters to many of the Garment workers and the delivery guys speeding all over the City with other restaurants orders. The food is plentiful and reasonable. They make the best Fried Shrimp and rice and their Banh Ma sandwiches with Fried Shrimp and Grilled Pork are just excellent. This places really surprises you when you dine here.
Grilled Chicken House at 230 West 36th Street (Closed December 2022)
Another great place to eat is the original Upside Pizza at 598 Eighth Avenue. On many a cold night I have been warmed up by their Pepperoni Detroit pan pizza and their regular cheese slices are so rich and flavorful. They really loaded on the cheese and the pepperoni on to their slices and then bake them to a gooey delight.
COVID has really changed this part of Eighth Avenue around where the New York Times building is located and Times Square since the shutdown. Many restaurants and stores have closed but slowly new ones are opening or reopening. Traffic in this area is pretty consistent so businesses change hands a lot now.
As the movie theaters slowly open again and Broadway is opened on a limited basis show by show, the area is beginning to get busy again but not to the levels pre-Pandemic. During the week when I am walking these blocks, I see a difference in the number of tourists and residents walking around the Port Authority area.
Seventh Avenue is still always busy. This area has changed a lot in the twenty-five years since I worked in the area. When I worked on 34th Street, the buildings were filled with showrooms and designer headquarters. It is a more diverse group of businesses today and I swear much better restaurants and stores. It has gotten more upscale.
Sitting at the top of Seventh Avenue like a guardian is the Times Square Building at 1 Times Square or 1475 Broadway. This building is known to many New Year’s Eve revelers as where the ball drops.
One building that stands tall in Times Square is One Times Square known as 1475 Broadway. Once the home headquarters for the New York Times was opened in 1904. The building was designed by architect Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz. The original façade was of stone and terra cotta but this has been mostly stripped and is now home for mostly advertising. The ball still drops from the top of the building every New Year (Wiki).
It is amazing to see the radical changes in this area of Manhattan since I started to work there in 1988. It is almost night and day in its appearance of not just the buildings but the parks and businesses that line Seventh Avenue. When I had worked there twenty-five years ago, you really did not choose to walk on Seventh Avenue after 8:00pm when most office workers went home. It was not the safest or well-lit avenue especially below Times Square. How thirty years and a whole development of the area change things.
When I walked down Seventh Avenue today, it is like walking through a haunted house that is less scary. I remember my years as a young executive in the City trying to maneuver around the area and sometimes feeling safer walking down the old 42nd Street with the porn theaters and head shops. At least I knew there were police milling around. Today, there has been such an improvement in the cleanliness of the area and the more expensive stores and restaurants that has spread to Broadway as well but even this is being upended by COVID. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Again, most of the buildings in this area were built after the WWII for the Garment industry and have that loft-box look to them but like Eighth Avenue, there are still a few standouts that have survived the wrecking ball or renovation. One being the elegant 488 Seventh Avenue.
488 Seventh Avenue was built as the Hotel York in 1903 by brothers James and David Todd, who had an interest in building luxury hotels. They commissioned architect Harry B. Mulliken, who had designed the Hotel Aberdeen on West 32nd Street for the brothers, with his new partner, Edger J. Moeller, who formed the firm of Mulliken & Moeller. The York Hotel was their first commission together. The hotel was designed in the Beaux-Arts style with elaborate carved decorations (Daytonian in Manhattan).
The Hotel York was a residential and transient for most of its existence attracting the theater crowd when 34th Street was the Theater District of the time. As this moved uptown, the hotel was bought in 1986 and was renovated for residential and commercial use (Dayton in Manhattan). The Tokian Group now owns the building and it is luxury apartments.
Towards the edge of the neighborhood is one of my favorite deli’s and known to thousands of Macy’s Alumni, Al’s Deli at 458 Seventh Avenue. I have been eating at Al’s Deli since 1988 and only recently in the last two years since exploring this section of Manhattan again have come back.
Al’s Deli at 458 Seventh Avenue is a Macy’s favorite
It still makes some of the best hamburgers and cheeseburgers in the City and their breakfast sandwiches are still oversized and delicious. Their Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a hoagie is still something that warms and fills me up in the mornings. Don’t miss their Chicken Parmesan Sandwich as well.
Across the street from Al’s Deli on the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 34th Street is the Grande Dame of the department store industry and my home away from home for seven years in the beginning of my career, R.H. Macy at 151 West 34th Street. When I started working at the store in 1988 it was funny but the locker rooms and cafeteria featured in the movie “Miracle on 34th Street” had not changed one bit, at least as I remembered it.
Macy’s New York on the Seventh Avenue side of the store in Art Deco Style (Wiki)
The Seventh Avenue side of the building was added in 1931 making Macy’s the world’s largest store. The building was designed by architect Robert D. Kohn in the Art Deco style that was popular in the day (Wiki). The entrance is still iconic to shopping enthusiasts who are looking for the perfect gift.
Walking up Seventh Avenue, also known as the Fashion Mile to many in the retail industry, is the Fashion Walk of Fame plaques that line the avenue from 35th Street above Macy’s up to 42nd Street. You have to look at the sidewalk to see some 30 plaques honoring some America’s most celebrated designers including Halston, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
The honor was started by the Fashion Center Business Improvement District and these are chosen by a group of fashion panelist each year since 2000 (The Vintage Traveler.Wordpress.com).
I stopped at Zeppola Bakery at 499 Seventh Avenue for a quick snack. Everything looks so inviting from the fluffy doughnuts to the stuffed sandwiches. The bakery for all its visuals is on the expensive side and a small heart doughnut filled with raspberry jelly cost $3.95. Delicious but a little pricey.
When arriving at the corner of West 39th Street and Seventh Avenue in front of the Chase Bank at 551 Seventh Avenue is the very iconic sculpture of the Needle Threading the Button that is part of the Welcome Booth on Seventh Avenue.
The Button and Needle Sculpture is actually part of the information booth (NYPL.org)
According to the New York Public Library, the sculpture of the needle and button is actually part of the Fashion Center Information Kiosk that has been closed for a few years. The sculpture was designed by Pentagram Architectural Services in 1996 and was inspired by artist Claes Oldenburg’s sculptures. The district is currently looking into replacing this kiosk (New York Public Library Research Department).
Artist Claes Oldenburg was a Swedish born American artist. He was born in Stockholm and moved to the United States with his parents. His father was a Swedish Diplomat who was stationed in Chicago and he studied art at Yale University and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was known for his large art installments. Even though this was not designed by him, the work was inspired by his sculptures (Wiki).
The other sculpture next to the kiosk is of a garment employee working on a sewing machine. This sculpture by artist Judith Weller was of her father who worked in the Garment Industry entitled “Garment Worker”. The sculpture was created by the artist in honor of her father, a machinist in the garment trade and to Jewish garment workers who were the backbone of the community. It was created in 1984-85 for the Public Art Fund (Public Art Fund).
The “Garment Worker” by artist Judith Weller
The Mission of the Public Art fund that was funded in 1977, is to bring dynamic contemporary art to a broad audience in New York City and offer powerful public experiences in art (Public Art Fund).
Artist Judith Weller is an Israel born New York artist who is known for her genre of work dedicated to the laboring people all over the United States (Ask Art.com).
Crossing over to Broadway from the busy 42nd Street Mall I was greeted by the recently reopened Knickerbocker Hotel at 6 Times Square. For most of the recent history of this property it had been falling apart and was offices in the times I worked in Manhattan.
The Knickerbocker Hotel was built by John Jacob Astor IV and it opened in 1906. The hotel was designed by the firm of Marvin & Davis in the Beaux-Arts style. The outside of the hotel was built in red brick with terra cotta details. The hotel was fully renovated in 2015 (Wiki).
In front of the Chase Bank at 1411 Broadway is Golda Meir Square with an open plaza. Tucked into a garden almost hidden from view by the plants is a bust of Golda Meir by artist Beatrice Goldfine. It looked like from old pictures the original pedestal is now beneath the planter. It was unveiled in 1984 (Wiki).
The bust of Golda Meir by artist Beatrice Goldfine in Golda Meir Square is now hidden in a garden.
Artist Beatrice Goldfine is an American artist born in Philadelphia and studied at the Barnes Foundation and the Pennsylvania Institute of Fine Arts.
Walking down Broadway most of the buildings are relatively new or been built after WWII but two really do stand out. One being the Haier Building at 1356 Broadway. The Haier Building was built by architects from York & Sawyer in the Neo-Classical Revival style. The building was completed in 1924 and was the headquarters for Greenwich Savings Bank. The building is built with limestone and polished granite and features Roman Corinthian Columns (Wiki).
1352 Broadway-The Haier Building (Former Greenwich Savings Bank-Wiki)
The Haier Building stretches from Broadway to Sixth Avenue and is impressive on both sides of the building. The building was used by Greenwich Savings Bank from 1924 until 1981 when the bank went out of business (Wiki).
The other impressive building on this side of Broadway is the Macy’s New York Broadway building facing Herald Square. The store was built between 1901-1902 by architects Theodore de Lemos and A. W. Cordes of the firm of De Lemos & Cordes in the Palladian style a form of classic Roman and Greek temple style (Wiki).
Macy’s New York at 151 West 34th Street on the Broadway side of the building
Herald Square has dramatically improved since I worked at Macy’s. When I worked at Macy’s in the early 1990’s, Herald and Greeley Squares were places to avoid until about 1994 when the parks were renovated and new plantings and French metal café tables were added. Now it is hard at lunch time to find a table.
In the process of the renovations, the City also restored the statues dedicated to James Gordon Bennett and Horace Greeley.
The statue dedicated to James Gordon Bennett and his son James Gordon Bennett II
The statue is to Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom and Invention and two blacksmiths who flank a bell that once topped the Herald Building where the New York Herald, which was founded by James Gordon Bennett in 1835. The statue was dedicated in the park in 1895 (NYCParks.org).
Antonin Jean Carles was born in France and was a student of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse. He was known for his monument sculptures.
Walking back up Broadway, it started to get colder as the afternoon went on but I came across an unusual sculpture that had just been put up entitled “Passage” by artist Serge Maheu. This interesting piece of street art you could actually walk through and as you walked through it, the colors changed.
“Passages” by Artist Serge Maheu (Artist’s bio)
It was like walking through a tunnel of hula hoops. The artist was going for a “transformative, playful experience” during an otherwise gloomy time in winter (Patch.com).
According to the artist, “Passage” explores the emotional connections between light and sound (Serge Maheu bio).
Artist Serge Maheu
Artist Serge Maheu is from Quebec, Canada and graduated with a degree in Computer Engineer, he has taken a path down the creative route to become a multimedia director. He specializes in film, animation, photography, sound and music (Serge Maheu bio).
By the time I reached Bryant Park, the sun started to come out again and it cleared up slightly. The park was filled with people ice skating or eating. The tables were mostly filled on this cool day which I was surprised at considering the weather. It does not take long to see how the changes in the park have led to change in the building here.
Standing guard at the edge of the neighborhood is the new Bank of America building. This innovative building was designed by architect Rick Cook from the firm of Cookfox Adamson Associates. The building was designed with a clear ‘Curtin wall’ and several diagonal planes for wind resistance. The building was also awarded a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for sustainable ‘green’ architecture (Wiki/Durst website).
Bryant Park is another interesting park. In 1988, you would never go into this park unless you wanted drugs or wanted to get mugged. The park was surrounded by bushes and it was in extremely bad shape. When the New York Public Library was going through a renovation, money was allocated to fix the park. It is night and day from when I passed the park in the early 1990’s. Talk about a difference that twenty-five years makes.
Bryant Park in all its glory
The original park opened in 1870 as Reservoir Square after the Croton Distributing Reservoir that was once located on the eastern side of the park. In 1884, the park was renamed for New York Evening Post Editor William Cullan Bryant (Wiki).
The park has suffered from neglect in the past including times in the 1930’s and the 1960’s and 70’s and had been through past renovations but in 1980 the Bryant Park Restoration Group was founded and took over park services. Since then, the park was fully renovated in 1992 and continues to improve with continued maintenance. Now there are events like ‘Movies in the Park’ and ‘Winter Village’ with a skating rink, rows of boutiques and the Christmas tree (Wiki).
Bryant Park in Christmas past
Lining the park on Sixth Avenue side of the park is a series of interesting statuary that I think most people miss when walking by the park. The first one is the statue called the “Andrada Monument” or also known as the statue of Jose Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva, the Brazilian statesman. Every September, the Consulate General of Brazil commemorates Andrada and Brazilian Independence Day by hosting a small ceremony at the monument (Wiki).
The statue was created by artist Jose Otavio Correia Lima. The artist was born in Brazil and attended the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro. He taught and ran the college until 1930 (Wiki).
Jose Bonifacio de Andrada was a Brazilian Statesman who was also a college professor and naturalist who was one of the most important mentors of Brazilian independence (Wiki/Britannica).
The other statue on the opposite side of the park is of Benito Juarez, the former President of Mexico and its first indigenous President serving twice. The statue was created by artist Moises Cabrea Orozco and is the first Mexican to be commemorated in the park system.
Benito Juarez was a lawyer and statesman who served as the President of Mexico twice. He also served on the Mexican Supreme Court.
In between these two statues at the western side of the park as you walk up the steps to enter the park is the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain, one of the most beautiful pieces of art in Bryant Park. This fountain is one of the nicest places to sit by on a sunny warm day and there is not a time that I do not make a wish in the fountain.
Artist Charles A. Platt was born in New York City and studied at the National Academy of Design and the Students Art League. He was known as a landscape designer, artist and architect of the American Renaissance Movement (Wiki).
The fountain was designed by architect Charles A. Platt in granite and bronze and has the most interesting details to it. It is the first major memorial dedicated to a woman in New York City. The fountain was dedicated to activist Josephine Shaw Lowell (Wiki).
Josephine Shaw Lowell was born in Massachusetts and moved to New York with her family in the 1840’s. She was committed to social charities and was named the Commissioner of New York State Board of Charities, the first woman to hold the position. She also founded many charities (Wiki).
This time of the year Bryant Park is taken up by the skating rink and the restaurants that surround it. Most of the Christmas Village was closed and it looked they were going to take it down. The Christmas tree was surprisingly still up and lit and at night makes the park festive.
Across from Bryant Park to its south are a grouping of beautifully designed buildings. On the corner of West 40th Street and Sixth Avenue is 80 West 40th Street, ‘The Bryant Park Studios’. The building was built in 1910 as showrooms for artists. The building was designed in the Beaux-Arts style by architect Charles A. Rich (Daytonian in Manhattan).
Further down Sixth Avenue is where one of the first Chick-fil-A in Manhattan opened at 1000 Sixth Avenue in 2015. It was also their largest outlet at the time with three floors. The place had lines wrapped around the block during its first several months until more outlets opened around the City. I hate to say it but for all the controversy about the restaurant, I really do love their chicken sandwiches.
Another interesting building that stands out is an old home at 966 Sixth Avenue which is the former J. E. Winterbottom Funeral Home. The business moved in 1885. Before that the post-Civil War house was constructed in the Second Empire style with a Mansard roof. It was once a private home before the business moved in (Daytonian in Manhattan). According to current records, it is going to be Manhattan’s first Sonic restaurant. It will be the first urban Sonic to open outside the one on Staten Island (Patch.com).
At the very edge of the neighborhood on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 35th Street is the most interesting piece of artwork on a building that once housed the Desigual flagship store. The work is by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel and entitled “Multicultural Freedom Statue” and was created in 2019. It is a tribute to multiculturalism in New York City (Artist Bio). The store has since closed.
The painting at Sixth Avenue at West 35th Street by artist Okuda San Miguel (painted over December 2022)
Artist Okuda San Miguel was born in Spain and known for his colorful geometric styles in painting. He graduated from the Complutense University of Madrid with a BFA and has shown his work all over the world (Wiki).
The last building I noticed for its beauty was on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 34th Street, 47 West 34th Street (1378 Broadway or 2 Herald Square) the Marbridge Building. The Marbridge Building was by architects Townsend, Steinle & Haskell in 1909 in the Classical Beaux Arts style and has been used as an office building since its opening (Wiki/Photo/Street).
For dinner on the way back up Sixth Avenue, I ate at the Kyoto Spot Mochinut at 1011 Sixth Avenue. They had the most unusual combination of a Potato Half and Half ($7.95), which was half a hot dog and half a mozzarella stick rolled in rice flour and chopped potatoes and then deep fried and they served it with a spicy type of duck sauce. I also had one of their Ume Mochinut doughnuts which were made out of rice flour but tasted like a funnel cake. It was utterly amazing.
On my second trip exploring the avenues, I had dinner at Main Noodle House at 1011 Sixth Avenue. The food and the service were excellent. I had a traditional eggroll and it was one of the best I have had in a long time. For the entree, I had the Cantonese Wonton Soup ($10.95) with roast pork, wontons and lo mien noodles. It was the perfect meal on a cool winter night. It was a meal within itself.
It was late when I finally arrived back at Bryant Park in time to see the Christmas tree in full blaze and hear the music and laughter of the skating rink. Across the street I saw the green and red lights blinking of the new Bank of China building at 1045 Sixth Avenue (or 7 Bryant Park). This building is interesting for its shape and its ongoing light show.
The building was completed in 2016 and was designed by architects Henry N. Cobb and Yvonne Szeto from the firm of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and it was interesting on why they designed the building in an ‘hourglass’ design. The firm stated that “they wanted to enrich the experience of the park while at the same time make its relationship to the park a clear expression of its identity (Pei Cobb Freed & Partners). The building is the New York home of the Bank of China.
Bank of China Building at 1045 Sixth Avenue (7 Bryant Park)
Being right across the street from the Bryant Park Studios at 80 West 40th Street shows the contrast that this neighborhood is going through now with a combination of the old and the new and showcasing its beauty. These buildings are adding character to an area of Manhattan that was not so nice just twenty years ago.
This part of the Garment District is the reason why we are seeing less of a Garment District but more of a commercial core that surrounds Times Square and promotes how a City can change for the better with a game plan. All around the core of a park that you would not dare set foot in for almost thirty years.
Talk about transformation!
Check out my other blogs on the Garment District:
Day Two Hundred and Three: Walking the Borders of the Garment District:
I cannot believe that another Christmas has come and gone and COVID is still raging around. Talk about having to adapt to a new world a lot wiser and more aware. I have just become more careful over the last year and kept my activities to a minimum (yeh right, I still run all over the place for work and keeping people informed about happenings all over the place). I just try to stay safe. I put my walk of the Garment District on hold for the Christmas holidays and all that came with it.
Christmas started right after I came home from Thanksgiving dinner in Lambertville when the next morning, I had to wake up at 6:00am to get ready to go to the Christmas tree lot for the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree Drop Off of the trees. We had 390 trees being delivered and it was all hands-on deck.
Setting up the Christmas trees
Who knew that the truck would arrive at 8:00am and we got caught off guard. No one expected it to come until at least 10:30am. So, at 9:00am, over thirty members and their children emptied all 390 Christmas trees off the truck (they shorted us ten trees), got them tagged and ready to sell. We had not even finished tagging the trees and our first tree sold at 10:30am.
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at Christmas tree set up 2021
I stayed on the site until 4:30pm and we had already sold the first twenty-one trees. I could not believe how fast the trees sold that day. The only reason why I left is that I had to help with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department on the town’s Annual Holiday Parade. God did it get cold that night.
The night after Thanksgiving, the Hasbrouck Heights Chamber of Commerce holds the Annual Holiday Parade and the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department is always a participant from helping Santa enter town in the Parade to setting up the sound system for the Tree Lighting Ceremony. I swear it got so cold that night by the time the town lit the tree it must have gone down to 35 degrees. Thank God we bundled up!
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Holiday Parade
After the tree was lit, I never saw a place empty out so fast. People were so cold! Even with all our layers, we were cold too.
I did an about face and the next morning left for Beach Haven, NJ to attend some of Long Beach Island’s Christmas activities. The day ended up being much nicer and was a bit warmer. It is a two-hour trip to the shore and you would think that a beach community is not the place to spend an early Christmas weekend but you would be amazed at the activities they had planned all over the island that day.
I left the house around 8:30am on what started out as a gloomy morning that turned sunny and clear by the time I reached Long Beach Island. I decided to visit the Barnegat Lighthouse first to see if it was decorated with lights like the lighthouse at Montauk Point. That was always impressive the years I went out to visit my friend, Lillian.
The lighthouse was not decorated for the holidays but was finally open to walk in and climb the stairs. It was over a hundred steps up and back down. What a view all the way up. There were small stops on the way up with views on each level landing. By the time I reached the top of the stairs there were only three of us up there and God was it windy. I only lasted at the top of the lighthouse a few minutes before I almost blew off. What views of the waves coming in!
The Barnegat Lighthouse at the tip of Long Beach Island
Before I made the journey to the southern part of the island on my November trip, I stopped by the “Santa’s Viking Christmas Village” to see the arts and crafts festival at Viking Village at 19th and the Bay Barnegat Light. It was a sunny but cool afternoon but the winds had calmed down and I was able to walk the booths with no problems. I was in search of homemade Santa’s for my mother’s upcoming birthday. I found them in two different booths, one made of a conch shell and another made of wood.
The local seafood restaurant was open for takeout and you could smell the fried fish in the distance along with the horrible singing by a guitarist who could not carry a note. Thank God he took a break in time for the Barnegat Light Fire Department to bring Mr. and Mrs. Claus to the Village for a visit to the local children.
Santa’s Viking Christmas Village at dusk at closing
After touring the Village, I made my way back down Long Beach Boulevard to the LBI Foundation of The Arts & Sciences Holiday Market 2021, which was mostly full of more expensive artwork and home decor products. It was not as festive as the Village Market and all our mask wearing steamed up everyone’s glasses which was a big complaint.
My next stop was the Long Beach Island Historical Society which sponsored an “Elves Workshop” for kids and their parents with all sorts of arts and crafts happening at twelve different tables lining the front room of the museum. There was cookie decorating and Christmas tree creation with beads and cloth and gingerbread house making. To end the evening, they had Smores and Marshmallows roasting over open firepits in the park across the street.
The Elves Workshop at the Long Beach Island Historical Society
The museum knows how to welcome in the holiday season.
The Christmas display at the front of the Long Beach Island Historical Society
After my visit to the Historical Society, I went down the road and revisited the NJ Maritime Museum 528 Dock Road right by the water. I had read so much at the shark attacks in New Jersey back in 1916 and wanted to see the exhibition again. I also wanted to see the exhibition on shipwrecks again so I spent the rest of the afternoon at the museum and then walking down to the harbor to watch the sun set. The sun sets on that island are amazing.
For dinner that night, I went back to the Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in the Beach Haven downtown. The food and the selection here is just excellent and the perfect place for comfort foods on a cool night. My waiter could not have been nicer and recommended the White Clam Chowder, which was so thick and rich and you could taste the cream and fresh clams in every bite. God the seafood was so sweet.
The Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ
For dinner, I started with the New England Clam Chowder and did it hit the spot. Loaded with clams and potatoes in a rich cream soup. It warmed me up inside. I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie for the entree, which was delicious as well. Chunks of chicken and fresh vegetables in a flaky crust and a rich gravy. On a cool night by the shore, there is nothing like it to warm you up. Talk about making the perfect choices for dinner.
After dinner on my visit in November of 2021 at the Chicken or the Egg, I finished dessert at The Woo Hoo and walked up through the downtown to see the last of the people roasting marshmallows in the park and walked to Kapler’s Pharmacy at 1 South Bay Street. The drug store was sponsoring horse drawn carriage rides around the neighborhood. I thought what a nice way to end the evening with a twilight view of the sun setting and watching the Christmas lights going on at houses around the neighborhood. The Jersey Shore at Christmas can really surprise you.
Kapler’s Pharmacy event at 1 South Bay Avenue in 2021
I thought it was a nice group of visits to get my mind off what is going on in the world. What’s better than the Jersey Shore in warm weather? Visiting at all times of the year in warm weather and then returning for the Christmas holiday events. Who says the Shore closes at Labor Day?
Later that day I found out that Michigan State beat Penn State 30-27. What a way to end the day on my November trip!
After a short trip down to my mom’s for her birthday and two Private Member Nights in New York City at The Met and the Museum of the City of New York (see blog below):
Day Two Hundred and Eight: Private Members Nights in NYC:
it was back to Rhinebeck, NY for the Sinterklaas Parade and Celebration on Saturday, December 4th. I swear I was running from one place to another the whole week but was looking forward to the parade that had been cancelled last year because of COVID.
I travelled back up to Rhinebeck again for the festivities and got there by 10:00am in time to help unload the truck at the Starr Library. That brought back a lot of memories from parades past and it was so nice to walk around the cool air of Upstate New York. What started off as a very gloomy morning cleared up and it ended up being a clear, sunny and mild day in Rhinebeck.
We unpacked the familiar floats and puppets from years past and put together the bees, owls, geese, knights and dragons, horses that would lead Sinterklaas down his route and Children’s puppets that had children hoping for better times ahead. I always enjoy the comradery of the morning of putting the puppets together for the parade. Our theme this year was “Miss Mouse and Mr. Toad get married” so our events were based on the two characters getting hitched.
(I wanted to thank volunteer Jonathan Green for these pictures)
Me (in the jacket and khakis at the set up for the ‘Sinterklaas Parade’ in Rhinebeck, NY
Setting up the puppets for the parade is interesting
All the latest puppets ready to enter the parade
Mr. Toad preparing for his marriage to Miss Mouse
Miss Mouse preparing for her marriage to Mr. Toad in the Sinterklaas Parade
The Dragon is preparing for his duel with the knights of the parade
The puppets were set up in record time and we were finished by 11:45am
After we were done with the puppets, I drove down to Downtown Rhinebeck and parked a few blocks away and walked over to Main Street and joined in the opening festivities at the Beekman Arms. The restaurant was already packed with customers when I got there and the banquet room was full of visitors at the Opening Ceremony.
I had already checked in to my hotel, so I did not have to come back to the hotel until later that evening. This time I stayed at the Marriott Poughkeepsie which was much closer to Rhinebeck than staying at the one in Fishkill. I have to say that both hotels were wonderful when I was visiting the area.
The Marriott Poughkeepsie at 2641 South Road/Route 9
The Opening Ceremony at the Beekman Arms is always a lot of fun. All the costumed characters are introduced like the Pocket Lady, Mother Holly (who is always feeling jolly), the Queen Bee and the Snow King and Queen. They also introduced the Mayor of Rhinebeck and his wife, who portrayed Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse and reconfirmed their wedding vows in real life in front of the whole crowd. I thought that was very touching and I told her this later when I ran into her at another event.
After the marriage ceremony and the traditional Polar Bear Dance, Jonathan Kruk, a well-known storyteller, told the story of Sinterklaas. Mr. Kruk is a wonderful speaker and knows how to tell a story. He always captivates a crowd. Even though I have heard the same stories for years, I still enjoy listening to him speak.
No one is better at storytelling then Jonathan Kruk at Sinterklaas
Because I said that I would help with the checking in with the volunteers for the parade, I had to be back to the library by 4:00pm so that only gave me about a little over two and a half hours this time to enjoy the festivities.
What was nice was the policy blocked off the Downtown area so that everyone could walk in the streets and watch the performers do their thing. There were bands on stilts performing rag time music and holiday classics, the Polar Bear danced around and greeted visits with a quick spin on the street and I visited the Toad Stool where Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse greeted each visitor with a bundle of ribbons so that you could give them to strangers for good luck. I had never heard of that tradition before but it was interesting to walk through a giant toadstool.
I also walked around the businesses that were open and admired the store window displays. It was as if each store was trying to outdo the other for creativity and beauty of the Christmas season. My favorite was Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street in Downtown Rhinebeck.
I watched the Grumpuses, Sinterklaas’s helpers do their traditional dance, singing groups entertain the outdoor crowds (Keeping COVID safe) and performers with sticks doing their routine. What I liked about Sinterklaas this year is that there were a lot of outdoor venues, so people were not cooped up inside wearing masks.
By 3:00pm I was starved and knowing that I would not be able to eat until way after the parade was over, I stopped at Pete’s Famous at 34 East Market Street. I love dining here and like their generous portions and the friendly service. I had my favorite Turkey Club sandwich with French Fries which is always good. They roast their own fresh turkey every day for their sandwiches.
The day started to fall into dusk and the whole town was being lit up. This is when Rhinebeck shows its true beauty as a Christmas village. All the trees in the Downtown are lit with white lights and adorned with paintings of the Sinterklaas Festival and ribbons. Also, all the stores light their windows and it makes the whole town look like a Currier & Ives woodprint.
Downtown Rhinebeck at dusk
Downtown Rhinebeck at night when its magic comes to life
I got back to the library at 4:00pm and assisted the staff in getting everyone ready for the parade, explaining how to work the puppets and hold them and making sure that everyone knew to listen to the marshals who were running the parade when it started.
It had been two years since we had a parade but it felt like time had not even passed by. I love to watch the parade come to life. As everyone lines up, the lights go on at each puppet and the bands get into high gear. Then there is the excitement of walking down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck to the adoring crowds of the parade.
The crowds have tripled in the decade that I have been volunteering for the parade. The first time that I volunteered it was in 2010 with my father on my first trip up to Rhinebeck since being at the Culinary Institute and then I started volunteering again in 2014 when I started working on the Halloween Parade in the City. Just like that parade, excitement builds as the parade starts.
Walking down that hill is an amazing thing as people get so excited to see the floats and hear the music especially at this time with COVID raging on. Things seemed more festive as this is an outdoor event and it was two weeks before the omicron outbreak raged the country. It was a night of revelry and welcoming in the holiday season.
Sinterklaas is a magically evening in Downtown Rhinebeck
Opening Ceremonies at The Beekman Arms
Because the positions in the parade and the puppets were all filling myself and the other person, I worked with on checking people in took the “Follow the Banner in the Parade” banner down the hill to get everyone to the staging area for the conclusion of the parade. We were right behind the drumline of women who concluded the parade and whipped spectators into a dancing frenzy. I watched as people literally danced in the streets happy to be outside enjoying this evening. It was so nice to see families have such a good time.
This wonderful view of the parade that was posted online of ‘Sinterklaas 2021’
The parade ended in the community parking lot with all the characters are introduced and the well wishes to Sinterklaas and his entourage. There was music and the fire eaters showing their talents off to the large crowd who were looking towards a much happier holiday season. It was just nice to see everyone having a festive evening.
After the ceremony was over, I just walked around Downtown Rhinebeck, admiring the beautifully decorated windows and admiring the white lights adorning the trees. I love this downtown at Christmas.
The Downtown Rhinebeck Christmas Tree near the Community parking lot.
I stopped at Village Pizza for dinner and it was nice to just warm up. God is their pizza delicious.
After dinner, it was another quiet walk around downtown Rhinebeck to admire the lights and the window displays. I love walking around this town.
Downtown Rhinebeck before dusk
Downtown Rhinebeck’s merchants go all out for the holidays
The next morning, I was off early to join some of the other members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association for a modified Christmas hello to all our retired firefighters living in the NJ State Firemen’s Association.
Since our party was cancelled for the residents due to COVID, we gave our gift to the residents the week before (we got each resident a long-sleeved shirt that was monogramed with their name on it which I heard they all loved) and we also had a special Jersey Mike’s lunch for the residents the month before to ring in the holiday season.
Because of COVID regulations, we could only have a few members come but myself and the President of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association talked with our fellow firefighters during ‘Holiday Bingo’ or walked around to greet them and wish them a ‘Merry Christmas’.
Santa greeting guests at the NJ Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ in 2019 in better times
It was just for a short time that we were allowed to stay but the members of the home appreciated it. We wanted to let our fellow firefighters know that we did not forget them during the holidays.
Members of the NJ State Firemen’s Home enjoying the Jersey Mike’s dinner we sponsored
Classes took up most of next week for me as we prepared for my Introduction to Business class to make their big presentation to me for their final grade. So, I was running around most of the week working with both my online class and my live class as we were getting ready for final exams.
On Thursday, December 9th, I took a break from all of my grading and went to see the production of “A Christmas Pudding” at Bergen Community College where I work. The students were putting on a Christmas retrospect of songs and readings which was a very nice performance.
The Theater students sang many traditional and contemporary songs from the American songbook with one student singing a very emotional version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis”. Considering everything that was going on with COVID, I thought it was very touching. The students did a good job with the production and it really put me into the Christmas spirit.
The Play “A Christmas Pudding” at Ciccone Theater at Bergen Community College on December 9th
Another thing that put me into the Christmas spirit was all the new songs coming out this year. Did we need some Christmas cheer this year! I wanted to share two of my favorites that came to me via YouTube.
These two songs appeared on the Internet when I was writing this blog and I thought they were very symbolic of what is going on right now during the holidays as we try to resume to a new normal. I wanted to share them with all of you.
John Legend’s new Christmas song: “You Deserve it All”
Nora Jones new Christmas song: “Christmas Calling”
Kohmi Hirose did this great version of “Sleigh Ride” in English
On December 10th, my students presented their Class Group Project entitled “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022” and the students did a terrific job with the project.
The students logo to “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”.
Here is the presentation with all the commercials:
Day Two Hundred and Nine on my “MywalkinManhattan.com” blog:
This “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory themed project was inspired by the 50th Anniversary of the film. I had the students watch the film for inspiration and ideas, then put the framework for the project together and they took it from there.
There is a message from me their CEO as well:
A welcome from CEO/Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
I could not have been prouder of my students both in my live class and in my online class who created the individual Class Project, “Market Street Candy & Confections”, reopening a 100-year-old candy store with a modern twist.
Here is the project with all the graphics that the students created:
Day Two Hundred and Ten on “MywalkinManhattan.com”:
With the major class projects over with, I prepared the students final exams and emailed off my online students their exam first. While they came in, I was able to grade along the way. Taking a break from that over the weekend, I visited Hope, NJ for a Lantern Walking Tour of the town and then a Candlelight Church Service at the Methodist church.
The Hope Annual Moravian Christmas Tour and Church service in Hope, NJ
I discovered this tour when I was traveling out to the Delaware Water Gap when I was updating my blog on “Visiting Budd Lake” and I stopped in Hope before heading to Blairstown, where I had wanted to visit the Blairstown Museum at the end of the day (it had closed by then). I saw this flyer when one of the shopkeepers in town handed it to me and I thought it would be an interesting event. What an eye opener!
I never heard of the history of the Moravian religion before and how they founded the town. We toured all the former factories and homes that had been built around the turn of the last century and then heard actors talk about that time during Christmas. Life just seemed slower then.
This is also where the opening scenes of the cult film “Friday the 13th” were shot. The initial scene where Annie arrives in Crystal Lake for her journey to the camp. I included the clip from the opening scene and the what the current locations look like now.
“Friday the 13th” from 1980 filmed in Hope, NJ
The famous opening scene from the film “Friday the 13th”
The inside of the Hope Junction Antiques with one of kind artwork and antiques.
This unique store carries an array of local and regional artists work, the owner’s personal art pieces and a selection of decorative items and antique pieces. It had an interesting selection of holiday items when I visited the town both on my journey through Budd Lake and Route 46 and when I took the walking tour on December 11th. The store was open still right before the tour.
Burgdorff Realty at 2 Walnut Street where Annie enters the truck
The cemetery is the ‘crossroads’ but is actually right down the block from the antique store and the realty company. This is now part of the St. John’s Methodist Church. This is where the Candlelight Services were held.
But I was not there for a movie tour but a cheerful Christmas tour of Moravian history. I met my tour group at the Hope Community Center which was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Before the tour started, the Hope Historical Society who was running the tour was selling food and Christmas items as a fundraiser. We started the Lantern Tour from this location.
The Hope Community Center at 5 Walnut Street decorated for Christmas
When we finished visiting some of the old factories, we visited ‘Trout Alley’, where people used to travel to get around the toll booth when they arrived in Hope. The path is now used to get to the antique store at the end of the path.
The Hope Historical Society was the sponsor of this program and was open the evening of the tour. We got to walk inside and look at old pictures of the town, old maps and artifacts that have been donated over the years by local residents that are part of the history of the town. The small one room building also houses vintage furniture and household and dress items. Please look at my blog at VisitingaMuseum.com above.
Looking down the street from Downtown Hope, NJ to the Inn at Millrace Pond where the Festival of Trees was located.
The house on High Street where we heard about Moravian Christmas traditions
Costumed characters sat on the porch that evening and reminisced about life at the turn of the last century as they prepared for the Christmas holidays. They talked about the hours needed to prepare the decorations and food for the legions of relatives and friends that would be visiting.
It was more spectacular at dusk when it was lit for Christmas
The First Hope Bank and Moravian homes that are now private residences
The bank was called the Gemeinhaus, which was the church/community center of the village. It was built in 1781. The house next door which is part of the bank is the Caleb Swayze House that was built in 1832.
Moravian Residences by the bank
The Caleb Swayze is the house towards the right and it was built in 1832. It is now part of the bank.
The homes and the current bank at dusk lit for Christmas
The Toy Chest Toy Store at 335 High Street a former Moravian home
I have been to the Toy Chest Toy Store many times on my journey to Hope, NJ and it has the most amazing selection of toys, games and collectibles in the area.
Moravian home where the Manger program was performed and after it was over, we visited many local homes of prominent residents from the area. To end the tour, we visited the back of someone’s garage where there was a live nativity scene performed that evening with actors reading from the Bible.
This interesting little barn/garage is across from the church and I thought looked quite festive
St. John’s Methodist Church at 354 High Street and the former Moravian Church where the Candlelight services were held. The service is posted on their Facebook page below.
I attended the Candlelight Christmas services at St. John’s Methodist Church which had once served as the Moravian Church and the service was followed as it would have been at the turn of the last century. The visiting priest had once been head of the church here and gave a very inspirational talk on the holidays that was followed by the lights being dimmed and caroling by candlelight which gave the whole church an interesting glow (you can see the whole service on the church’s Facebook page attached).
Afterwards I took one last walk around Hope to admire all the lights and decorations. After a quick slice of pizza at Hope Pizzeria at 435 Hope Blairstown Road, I was on my way home through the darkness. It really does get dark on these back roads until you hit Route 80. The little pizzeria is tucked into a small strip mall on the side of the road and has great pizza. It really was a festive and interesting evening.
Hope Pizza and Catering at 435 Hope Blairstown Road
For my Christmas present to myself every year, I go to Carnegie Hall for the NY Pops Christmas Concert but it ended up being on the night of my final exam and there was no way to cancel it, so I had to miss it again this year (COVID cancelled it last year).
When I visited the City the Sunday before for the “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I walked back to Port Authority through Lincoln Center and I wanted to see what was going on this Holiday season and I saw that Kristin Chenoweth was performing a one woman show to promote her new Christmas album that Monday night. I was on the Internet that night to see if there were tickets left for the show.
The “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History at Central Park West at 79th Street
The next night I had tickets in hand and off I went to Lincoln Center which I had not been to in two years since I had seen “Whipped Cream” in December of 2019 for the holidays. It was so nice be dressed up and going to the Met again. The theater was packed with people with the same idea. The City was ablaze with Christmas colors and lights.
Lincoln Center in all its glory at Lincoln Center Plaza
What a concert! Talk about being in sync with the holidays and just what the doctor ordered after a long semester. I needed a good concert and this really put me into the holiday spirit. Ms. Chenoweth was really in great spirits that night and brought the house down with these two songs from her album plus playing from Broadway shows and the Great American Songbook. It was a great Christmas concert and I left humming down Eighth Avenue.
This song opened the show at the Metropolitan Opera House on December 13th, 2021
I was starved when I left for the theater since I was in a rush to get into the City that afternoon with enough time to make the concert and still grade quizzes that were coming in from my online class at the Cornell Club.
I had a sudden craving for Linguini in White Clam Sauce so off I went to Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 58th Street which I had visited over the summer. I ordered their Linguini in White Clam sauce which ended up being a piping hot almost pound of pasta with a quarter pound of clams on top ($10.95) with a Coke. Talk about excellent and the perfect dinner on a cool night. The sauce was so flavorful and the clams were so sweet and fresh. I ate contently and the manager was so happy when I told her the food was excellent. Talk about an end to a wonderful evening.
The Linguini with White Clam Sauce was just superb that night at Amore Pizza Cafe
For the rest of the week, I had visited the Met and the Museum of the City of New York for private events and while seeing the new “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I went to see the “Origami Tree”, that has been a staple of the museum for years. All of these events really put me in the Christmas spirit and put the ghosts of last Christmas behind me. It was not too last.
The Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History
I wanted to visit the Hudson River Valley again before the holiday season was over and I saw on the Dutchess County Tourism site that Mount Gulian, a mansion near Beacon, NY was being decorated for the holidays and December 15th was the first day it would be open for touring.
I grabbed my aunt and we decided to spend the day visiting decorated homes and towns for the Christmas season. Our first stop was Beacon, NY to visit some of the stores on my website, LittleShoponMainStreet@wordpress.com, Colorant and Flora a Good Time both located in the downtown area and then off to Mount Gulian, a decorated mansion up Route 9.
Downtown Beacon, NY at Christmas
Mount Gulian was the home of the Verplanck’s for generations, the original house burned to the ground in 1938 and this house is a replica of the original sitting on the original home’s foundation. The house is decorated in many of the Verplanck’s family heirlooms donated by branches of the family over the years.
The main rooms on the first floor of the home including the former living room, dining room, sitting room and library were all decorated for the Victorian Christmas holidays. The hallways and doorways were also adorned with garland and bows and lights giving a festive and warm appearance to the house.
The tour took about an hour (see my blog on VisitingaMuseum.com) and the history of the house was discussed at various times and how family members called it home. Our tour guide also gave us interesting facts on the family and their connection with the house today. It is so nice to hear that various members of the Verplanck family still take an interest in the home.
Mount Gulian’s Dining Room decorated for Christmas Dinner
The sitting room at Mount Gulian
After the tour was over, the tour guide invited us to enjoy refreshments of hot cider and home baked goodies. Since there were only three of us on our tour, it gave us a chance to discuss the history of the families in the Hudson River Valley, the status of these famous homes and the future of historic sites of the region. It was really an engaging and interesting afternoon and the tour guide could not have been nicer. The whole event really represented what the Christmas experience is in the Hudson River Valley.
Between the Sinterklaas Parade in the beginning of the month, visiting the decorated homes of the region and walking the festive downtowns of the area giving them a “Currier & Ives” look about them. Dutchess, Ulster, Greene and Columbia counties really know how to convey the holiday spirit.
Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas
Our next stop was visiting Rhinebeck, NY which we arrived before dusk. The town was just lighting the trees and all the storefront windows were beautifully decorated for the holidays as they were on the night of the Sinterklaas Parade. The only town I know that can compete with Rhinebeck for the title of ‘Christmas Village’ is Cape May, NJ.
Rhinebeck has a magical look at nightfall
Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street gets into that spirit every year
I love the way they merchandise the store for the holidays and their prices are very fair on their candies and desserts. You have to try their doughnuts.
The delicious candies and baked goods at Samuel’s Sweet Shop
Our next stop after leaving Rhinebeck was downtown Red Hook, NY which to me represents the best in small towns in the Hudson River Valley with excellent reasonable restaurants, creative store owners and a blend of old and new in architecture. Plus, everyone is so friendly when you shop and dine there.
Downtown Red Hook, NY at Christmas
I have written about my many trips to Red Hook in my blog “MywalkinManhattan.com” and discussed visiting the downtown and its proprietors.
The Red Hook town Christmas tree is such a great addition to the downtown and it more amazing at night as is the rest of the town when it is lit. When it gets dark in town, Red Hook gets that classic Americana feel to it.
Downtown Red Hook’s Christmas Tree
Downtown Red Hook, NY at dusk is so beautiful
After the walk around Red Hook (most of the stores closed early that night), my aunt and I crossed the Kingston Bridge and visited the ‘Stockade District”, the historical and shopping district of Downtown Kingston, to see how the town prepared itself for the holidays. It really was beautiful even with the light rain.
Downtown Kingston, NY at Christmas
The businesses had garland and beautiful white lights adorning them and the windows were very festive as in the other towns. Large snowflakes decorated the main streets which were lit brilliantly.
Downtown Kingston, NY Christmas tree
The Kingston, NY Christmas tree is right in the middle of the downtown shopping district and gives off such a holiday vibe. It is also so beautifully decorated. It really brightens up this stretch of the street.
Our last stop that evening was visiting Woodstock, NY, where I had spent three wonderful Christmases and is a place that I highly recommend spending the holidays. The Christmas Parade every year is so festive and well organized. The town is also so nicely decorated for Christmas and the square always has the most unconventional Christmas tree. They are usually oddly shaped and decorated and that’s their charm.
By the time we got to town that evening, all the stores were closed for the night and we dined for our early Christmas dinner at Shindig at 1 Tinker Street.
The love the Christmas tree in Downtown Woodstock, NY. It always looks so unusual.
Downtown Woodstock, NY square and Christmas tree
My visits to Woodstock, NY during Christmas meant a lot to me and I always loved going to the town’s Christmas Parade on Christmas Eve night. Santa always makes such interesting entrances.
Shindig has the best hamburgers and some of the most delicious mac & cheese. Talk about great comfort food on a cool misty night in the Catskills. We were the last customers to dine there that night, so they did not rush us as they were cleaning up for the night. Don’t miss their Cowboy burger. I highly recommend it.
Shindig at 1 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY (Closed June 2022)
We had such a wonderful time visiting all the towns with their Christmas decorations and beautiful window displays. The Hudson River Valley is a wonderful place to get into the Christmas spirit. Who knew with all this Christmas cheer that all hell would break loose two days later.
Thank God I did all these events when I did because by Friday, December 17th, the night of my final exam, there was panic all over the country with the spread of a new variant of COVID, Omicron. All of a sudden, this new variant from South Africa started to move like wildfire all over the country and New York City was inundated by it.
I had to stay home all weekend and grade final exams because grades had to be posted by Tuesday. All I heard on the Internet and on TV was the rapid spread and the almost panic mode that everyone went into. I hauled up in the house and concentrated on school and getting the students emailed with their grades so that they could relax and enjoy their Christmas break.
I posted all my grades by Monday night and had to drop off all the paperwork on Tuesday at the college. I was just glad that they had not cancelled classes on Friday night when I was giving my exam. That would have been too much on me scrambling to get the exams done. Since I was the only one teaching on a Friday night, I was hoping they just forgot about me and the class would just happen which it did. Thank God!
Tuesday afternoon, we had a sparsely attended Faculty Party which I thought was very nice considering what was going on all over the country. We kept our masks on while we were walking around the room and enjoyed a lot of finger foods made by our Culinary Department and soft drinks. It was nice to just talk to people through our masks and catch up with people I had not seen all semester.
On the Sunday, December 19th, the Sunday before Christmas, the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department held its Annual “Santa Around Town”, one of the highlights of the holiday season for both the town and the department. Last year because of COVID rules, we could only drive down each street slowly waving at residents.
This year we were able to go back to making stops and greeting each resident and taking pictures with children and their families. Even a family dog decked out in its Christmas jacket joined in the fun. It was nice to see people outside and engaging with their neighbors.
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s ‘Annual Santa Around Town’
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s “Santa Around Town” 2021
By Monday, December 20th, it seemed that the whole country was going crazy with the new COVID variant. Flights were being cancelled, people were putting get togethers on hold and families were abandoning their plans for the holidays. Our family seemed fine until one by one, things kept happening the whole week and everything was derailed by Christmas Eve.
First my brother’s flight was cancelled and he could not get another flight until late Christmas Day so he nixed coming to Delaware for Christmas. Then a family member got sick so my mother cancelled all Christmas plans including our family dinner. She did not want anyone at the house who was not vaccinated. This derailed the plans even more as family members and friends were not vaccinated so no one was going to visit her house that day.
So when my mother called me to tell me that everything was being cancelled, I immediately looked into going back to Woodstock, NY where I had spent many happy Christmases. These plans were abandoned when my other brother’s flight was fine and he was coming for Christmas and he did not want to spend it alone in Rehoboth Beach.
So, I changed my plans again and booked a room at the Chalfonte Hotel’s Southern Quarters and Thank God was able to book the last room at the resort. The main hotel was closed for the season but the Southern Quarters is the small B & B concept they have next door, which serves guests all throughout the winter months (the main hotel will not reopen until May).
This was the weird part about the eve before Christmas Eve, it snowed overnight which it was not in the forecast and it looked like we would have a white Christmas. Since it was supposed to rain all day on Christmas, I looked at the weather and thought ‘great having to walk around with wet weather on Christmas’ but like the rest of the holiday season, Christmas Day brought its own surprises. After paying my respects at the cemeteries, it was off to Cape May to start the holidays.
My Christmas Eve was spent as it had three years earlier, going to dinner at the Boiler Room at The Congress Hotel for dinner. I love their coal-burning oven pizzas and their fresh salads. The dinner was really amazing and the restaurant was pretty busy all things considered. I guess some people were not going to be spooked by everything going on around us, myself included. I figured I was fully vaccinated and if I wore my mask every place, I needed to I would be fine.
The Boiler Room Pizzeria at The Congress Hotel in Cape May, NJ at 200 Congress Place
I had the most wonderful dinner. I started with a Mixed Green salad with Balsamic dressing and chopped strawberries which had the most complex flavor with the sweetness of the strawberries playing off the Balsamic vinegar. The greens were so fresh that they crunched when I bit into them. For the entree, I had the Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza with fresh mozzarella. Talk about a crisp pizza and the sauce could not have been more delicious with the fresh tomatoes and olive oil.
After dinner was over, I walked all over The Congress Hotel which is always so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holidays. The halls are lined with white lights and garlands and a fire roaring in the fireplace in the main hall. Outside on the lawn, there a colorfully decorated tree and decorated tables with pool heaters for people to sit under.
Seeing the casual and engaging conversations the other guests were having you would have never known that there was a major outbreak going on. Most people walking around the hotel were not even wearing masks.
After walking through the grounds and through all the gift shops to see what was for sale (their gift shops are really nice and they have an interesting bakery), I walked the Washington Mall which serves as the Cape May downtown. All the stores were closed by this point but I got to admire all the beautiful window displays and the white lights adorning the trees. The only town that can rival Cape May at Christmas is Rhinebeck, NY. Both have that Christmas feel to them.
The Gazebo in Downtown Cape May
After my walk around Downtown Cape May, I went to 9:00pm Christmas Eve mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Downtown Cape May at 525 Washington Street. I needed some spiritual guidance at this time of the year as well as the rest of the congregation did as well. What really surprise me again was that 95% of the parishioners did not wear masks. I guess people in Cape May thought they were away from the danger (I wore mine through the whole service, hey you never know).
Our Lady Star of the Sea Church at 525 Washington Street in Cape May, NJ
It was a beautiful service with the choir singing and a very inspirational Christmas talk from the priest. The service could not have been more perfect and the church was so beautifully decorated with Christmas trees with white lights and poinsettias all over the place. Very secular but still in the spirit of the holidays.
Christmas services at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church
The next morning, I had to be on the Cape May ferry at 10:15am and there was literally nothing open for breakfast without going to one of the hotels and there was no time for that. There was no food service at the ferry and the woman at the ferry was unsure if food was going to be available on the boat (it was we both found out later), so I left the ferry and had to go to the local WaWa around the corner at 3719 Bayshore Road.
If there was ever a meeting place on Christmas Day that everyone congregated at it was the local Wawa. The place was mobbed with people socializing with one another and wishing everyone else a Merry Christmas. You would have thought I was at City Hall or a Town Square. Everyone knew everyone else in the store and they were all ordering their breakfasts, getting coffee or their takeout orders or filling up on gas for a trip somewhere. I felt like I was in Mayberry.
The surprising part was I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese omelet on a fresh hoagie and it was really good! I was amazed. The All-Berry Smoothie that I ordered with it was also terrific. I was blown away on my Christmas breakfast which I ate on the back of my car since there was no place to sit down.
After breakfast, I noticed the gloomy morning was starting to clear up and by the time the ferry left Cape May for Lewes, DE, it was becoming sunny and bright. When we got to Lewis by noon, it was sunny, clear and going up into the 60’s. It ended up being 65 degrees and sunny the whole day. God answered my prayers for a warm Christmas!
By the time I got off the ferry at noon in Lewes, De, it was a bright sunny and warm day. This is when the forecasters predicted rain all day. The entire afternoon was in the high 60’s, sunny and clear. It was the perfect day to be at the shore.
After dropping some presents off at my mom’s and wishing her a Merry Christmas, my brother, niece, my brother’s girlfriend and I went to Dos Locos in Downtown Rehoboth Beach for Christmas lunch. Unusual choice but it was the only place open. I had the most delicious Shrimp Quesadilla for lunch and that was more than enough after the big breakfast I had two hours earlier.
Before we left the restaurant, we took a memorable group shot in front of their Christmas tree. As we were leaving, I was amazed by how many people had the same idea we had and the restaurant really started to fill up.
My family at Dos Locos for our Christmas Dinner
To work off lunch (and my earlier breakfast), we walked all over the boardwalk that afternoon. Being such a nice day, again everyone had the same idea and we were wishing other families a “Merry Christmas” as they walked on the beach and walked their dogs around the downtown area. It was also ideal to go window shopping. By 3:30pm, it had reached almost 67 degrees and we walked along the beach and watched as one brave soul took a Christmas swim in the ocean. I know it was warm but it was not that warm outside.
My family by Santa’s House on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk
We took a lot of family shots around the Rehoboth beach Christmas Tree and at Santa’s House. He had left for the North Pole, so he was not around at this point. Still, everyone on the boardwalk was taking pictures by the tree.
My brother and I by the Christmas tree in Downtown Rehoboth
My brother and I in the bandstand in Downtown Rehoboth Beach
Me at the holiday displays in the Bandstand in Rehoboth Beach
The Manger at the bandstand in Rehoboth Beach with Santa’s House in the background
It started to get dark by 5:45pm at that point (the days are starting to get longer) and we headed back to my brother’s hotel as they prepared for dinner and I had to head back to the ferry to go back to Cape May.
I was surprised on how well Christmas had turned out. For a day that started off as the original ‘Clusterfuck’, it is amazing how plans change and the day can still turn out to be pretty good. I got on the 7:45pm ferry back to Cape May and we were in by 9:00pm. Again, not much was open on Christmas Day for dinner and I refused to have dinner at WaWa.
When I got back into town, the only two restaurants were the Chinese restaurant in the mall but they were closing for the night. So, I went to the Ugly Mug at 426 Washington Street in the Washington Mall for a snack. It was the only place open besides going back to Congress Hall.
Talk about crowded for a Christmas night! All the locals either had tired from their families, tourists need to get out of their hotels or people had just gotten off their shifts from work, people lined the bar having a good time eating, drinking and laughing. The Christmas games were going on and the bar was in full swing.
With only five minutes left to order, the manager of the restaurant who was eating right next to me was eating a cheesesteak and highly recommended it. So, it was a cheesesteak and a Coke for me on Christmas night. It was nice to sit back and talk with the other patrons and bartenders in a relaxed environment.
The Cheesesteaks at The Ugly Mug are fantastic. Just like Philly!
I spent the rest of Christmas night walking along the shore, listening to the waves hoping to get a glimpse of Santa on his way back to the North Pole. For the craziest Christmas Day with twists and turns, it ended up being a really great day. Not at all what we had planned but sometimes things work out for a reason. I ended up getting the best night’s sleep.
The day after Christmas my plans changed when a friend of mine who came into town changed the plans again and I decided to go to the theater at the Cape May Stage at 405 Layfette Street. I saw the final show of the season “Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition”, which was performed by the Theater Director and his wife who are professional actors.
The Cape May Stage: Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition
It was a clever story about a Manhattan couple that ‘adopt’ a sailor from the deep south for Christmas Eve. I thought it was a bit predictable with the stereotype of the uptight Upper West Side couple and the ‘naive’ sailor from the South but it ended up being a very bittersweet story about the couple looking within on their own relationship with this sailor shipping out on Christmas to a dangerous part of the world. It made them think about how small their own problems were and what Christmas was all about.
After the show was over, I decided to spend my last night in Cape May watching the sunset at Sunset Beach in West Cape May at 502 Sunset Boulevard. If you ever want to see the most spectacular sunset in the world and I have literally seen them all over the world, this is the most fantastic location to see the sunset over the Delaware Bay.
I stayed until after 5:00pm to watch the sun dip below the bay in most spectacular fashion. It really does amaze the way it slowly disappears into the bay and then the whole sky is a brilliant variety of colors. People were literally applauding the sun setting. I left Cape May for home after this.
You have to see the sun set at Sunset Beach at least once
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I spent the night in the City before the Ball dropped museum hopping between the Met and the MoMA trying to see the current exhibitions before they closed and taking the long ride up to Inwood to see the Cloisters decorated for Christmas and the current exhibition “Spain: 1000-1200” and taking a second look at the Christmas decorations all over the City.
I wanted to explore the neighborhood for changes since COVID and my last trip to the area since the summer, so I walked from The Cloisters to West 155th stopping for lunch and visiting stores and bakeries that I had written about in the past.
I stopped for lunch at the New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway, a restaurant that I had passed many times on my walks down Broadway and had wanted to try. The food is excellent and the service could not have been nicer. I had a Chicken with Broccoli ($11.95) with Hot & Sour Soup and an eggroll.
New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway
The Chicken with Broccoli was delicious and the sauce with a combination of Hunan and Soy really made the dish. The Hot & Sour Soup was one of the best I have had recently. The chili peppers added some kick to the soup and it was loaded with vegetables and sliced pork. The service could not have been nicer.
After lunch, I continued my walk down Broadway. I had originally planned had planned to go the Met on Fifth Avenue but it was too late for that and then I decided to walk down Broadway but by the time I got to West 155th Street near the cemetery I was pooped. I needed something sweet, so I stopped at one of my favorite bakeries uptown Five Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for a snack.
I had the most amazing Vanilla and Strawberry Iced Doughnut ($2.00) and between the sweet thick icing on top and the rich dough, every bite was heaven. I was reenergized but my feet were beginning to kill me. I stopped at Ilka Tanya Payan Park and sat down to finish my doughnut and relax.
I just admired the Christmas tree in the park for a bit before taking the subway back to midtown. I never knew that the park was named after the actress and activist, Ilka Tanya Payan. I thought it was nice of community to set such a beautiful tree up for the holidays and it was nicely decorated. I was finished for the day.
Ilka Tanya Payan Park at Edward Morgan Place & Broadway
New Year’s Eve this year was a quiet evening at home watching the ball drop on TV. There was no way I was going back to the City with those crowds in that cold. Thank God that 2021 is now over and hopefully better days ahead!
This was not the Christmas I planned but things took so many twists and turns that I just went with the flow. This is why I am fully vaccinated. Life needs to go on as normal in these unnormal times.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
My three favorite Christmas songs: These are the songs that I wait to hear on the radio.
The Ronette’s: Sleigh Ride:
Ray Parker Jr.: Christmas Time is Here
The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping
I also thought these Christmas songs in Chinese were interesting when I found them on YouTube:
I find it intriguing how other countries see Christmas and interpret it.
I have stopped in at the Hotel Chocolat a few of times over the last couple of months and have found that the store has the most amazing candies, chocolates and ice cream creations. The store had been closed during the COVID pandemic but reopened with a nice manager with a big smile and hearty greeting. I have never been so warmly welcomed to a store before.
I had been staying in Manhattan over the Spring Break, working on updating my blog on ‘Midtown East’ for my sister site “MywalkinManhattan.com” and revisited the store again. There were all sorts of beautifully boxed chocolates for sale for the upcoming Easter holidays as well as every day candies.
The candies here are creatively made and packaged with all sorts…
As I have mentioned since the reopening of New York City, people are trying to write the City off as ‘dead’ and that is far from true. I see a City that is quieter, adapting to conditions around it and slowly coming back to life.
I spent my third day exploring in the Murray Hill neighborhood and I am beginning to see more and more people feel the same way I do. They are joining the world again by walking through parks, jogging on the sidewalks and partaking in the outdoor dining that is popping up all over the City streets and sidewalks. Restaurants and bars are doing their best to cater to their customers while still maintaining social distancing and keeping everyone safe.
No where did I see this more in play than in Bryant Park, which has become my headquarters for this part of the walk. When I got into the park that afternoon, people had taken over the lawn even after the overnight rain storm and were lying all over the grass (socially distanced of course) reading, laughing and conversing with friends. The chairs and tables around the park were filled with people eating their lunches, talking and reading. The park was pretty well filled.
Bryant Park Grill, the main restaurant of the park, was filled to capacity during the lunch hour. People were having business meetings over lunch and slowly out of towners are coming back to the City missing the vibrancy of the City. You would never know there was a pandemic going on from all the people in the park enjoying the sunshine on a nice warm sunny day.
I had gotten tickets through the Members Website at the Morgan Library & Museum that afternoon at 2:30pm with timed tickets so I knew how to pace my day. I wanted to walk all the streets between East 41st and East 35th Street from Fifth Avenue to FDR Drive. It would be several hours of interesting walking. What I saw all over the neighborhood that afternoon is life coming back.
I started my walk at the New York Public Library entrance admiring the fountains and the gardens planted up front. Most of the tables in front of the New York Public Library were full of people eating their lunches, reading or sleeping.
I threw a coin into the fountain of ‘Beauty’, made a wish and started my walk. This graceful and elegant fountain was designed by artist Frederick MacMonnies. In the background is the words written, “Beauty, old yet ever new, Eternal Voice, and Inward word”.
“Beauty” the fountain in front of the New York Public Library
Frederick MacMonnies is an American born artist whose specialty was “Beaux-Arts style” design. The artist was trained at the National Academy of Design and Arts Student League of New York. The artist continued his training in Paris (Wiki).
I started my afternoon by walking down East 41st Street on a glorious sunny day. With the temperature being around 83 degrees, it was the perfect day to walk around Murray Hill. It was also really quiet being Labor Day Weekend and the streets were deserted for most of the afternoon.
The ‘Library Walk’ starts at Fifth Avenue and ends at Park Avenue
I like to talk a lot about looking up and not missing anything that you might miss by looking ahead. Here on East 41st Street you have to look down to see the “Library Walk” from Fifth Avenue to Park Avenue by artist Gregg Lefevre.
The artist was commissioned by in 1998 to create plaques with words and sayings from some of our greatest authors from Mark Twain to Ernest Hemingway. These plaques line both sides of the street so you will need time to look at each one carefully and be able to read the ones you want.
As I followed the plaques down East 41st Street toward Park Avenue trying to read everyone, I walked past the Library Hotel again at 299 Madison Avenue and East 41st Street. Their outdoor restaurant “Madison and Vine” was set up for lunch and was already getting busy. I spent time admiring the menu and the festive place-settings on the tables. It looked like a fun place to eat.
Madison & Vine is at the corner of Madison Avenue and East 41st Street
Across the street and a little further down is Stone Bridge Pizza & Salad at 16 East 41st Street. One evening when I revisited the neighborhood, stopped in for dinner (The Library Hotel and Madison & Vine were temporarily closed in February 2021). I had the most amazing Meatlovers Pizza loaded with pepperoni, sausage, bacon and saute onions. It really warmed me up a a gloomy rainy night (see review on TripAdvisor).
Stone Bridge Pizza and Salad at 16 East 41st Street (Closed December 2022)
Further down from the Library Hotel is the Dylan Hotel at 52 East 41st Street. This boutique hotel is housed in the historic Chemist’s Building once the home of the American Chemical Society and the Society of Chemical Industry as their club headquarters. The building was designed by architectural firm York and Sawyer and was completed in 1911. The building was designed in the ‘French Renaissance style’ and was home to the club into the 1980’s. It became the Dylan Hotel in 1988 (Dylan Hotel History).
Walking down East 41st Street leads you through mostly office and large apartment buildings until you get to the end when you reach Tudor City, one of the first planned and most important examples of middle class housing . It was designed in the Tudor Revival style and was the creation of the Fred French Company by architect H. Douglas Ives. In the design of the complex you can see the arches, bay windows, gables and towers that make up the design (Wiki).
Tudor City is one of the first planned middle class communities in the United States
What is nice is the parks that line the complex are a nice place to sit and relax. The landscaped paths and the flower beds are a nice reprieve from all the traffic. They are a calm place to relax.
The Gardens at Tudor City are a nice place to relax
One of my favorite little shops in Manhattan is in the Tudor City complex, Azalea & Oak at 5 Tudor City. This unique little store has the most interesting window displays and nicest selection of children’s clothing and toys and customer jewelry.
When walking back through the complex I noticed tucked into the complex but not in the complex is 337 East 41st Street, a small brownstone building that survived the wrecking ball when the complex was built.
This little brownstone has a survivalist history. Built in 1870 by developer S. S. Stevens, this home and eighteen other like it, were built on the northern side of the street to match similar brownstones that had just been built. Architectural firm Hubert & Pirsson were commissioned to design them in the Italianate style with small yards in the back. Somehow this home was the only one in 1925 that survived the wrecking ball when Tudor City was built. It is now a private home (Daytonian). It’s so interesting the cool things that are tucked in the corners of the this neighborhood.
As I walked back I noticed a Chemical Bank sign on a building considering the company has not existed since the 1990’s. It’s quiet beauty stopped me. The bottom of the building is done in polished black granite and silver details. The former Johns-Manville Corporation leased 14 floors of it originally but the Chemical Bank (which is now part of J.P. Morgan/Chase) sign still shows prominently on the building (NewYorkitecture).
275 Madison Avenue-The John-Manville/Chemical Bank Building
The building was designed in 1931 by architect Kennith Franzheim in the ‘Art Deco style’ and the lower part of the building is done in polished black granite and silver and the geometric design gives it a unique look (NewYorkitecture). The building was leased by the John-Manville Corporation having a large presence on the lower floors but the Chemical Bank sign (now part of J.P.Morgan Chase) still proudly stands.
The beautiful details of the former John-Manville/Chemical Bank Building at 275 Madison Avenue
One of big surprises was discovering the AKC Museum of the Dog at 101 Park Avenue. The American Kennel Club (AKC) founded this museum in 1982 at 51 Madison Avenue, the former headquarters of the American Kennel Club and in 1987 it moved to Queeny Park in Missouri. In 2017, the museum and its collection moved to the new Park Avenue headquarters of the AKC.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) Museum of the Dog at 101 Park Avenue
The museum contains a collection of 1,700 pieces of art that preserves, interprets and celebrates the role of dogs in society and educates the public about human-canine bond (AKC Museum of the Dog history).
The American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog exhibition space
Tucked here and there in between buildings that are some small gems that just stand out amongst the more modern buildings. The small firehouse building at 148 East 40th Street I found out later on was actually a stable.
John W. Allen was a successful stockbroker and had a home at 14 East 42nd Street and these stables were a status symbol of the times. It meant that you could stable your own horse and carriage in your own building. At this time many stables for the wealthy were located on the side streets of the Avenues. This little building was designed and built by Charles E. Hadden. The building is made of brick with a slated Mansard roof and the top floors were accommodations for the groom or stable boy (Daytonian).
Sitting just outside 300 Madison Avenue, the PricewaterhouseCoopers Building is the sculpture “Stamen” by artist Rodney Carroll. This unusual sculpture caught my attention because of its twist and turns and I could not believe I missed it when I was walking the Avenues of the neighborhood. This unusual piece of art was created in 2009.
Rodney Carroll is noted for his large scale sculptures in public spaces and private collections. He studied sculpture at Old Dominion University and received his BS in Fine Arts and studied sculpture at Norfolk State (The Virginian Pilot).
As I finished walking East 40th Street, I made my way to the Hunan Manor Restaurant at 339 Lexington Avenue between East 39th and 40th Streets only to discover that it was closed. I talked with the deli next door and discovered the restaurant had closed. Disappointed I made my way to my second choice in the neighborhood, Madison & Vine at the Library Hotel at 299 Madison Avenue by East 41st Street. I was not disappointed.
Madison & Vine Restaurant at the Library Hotel at 299 Madison Avenue
What an amazing experience! I have been very leery about eating in restaurants or even take out for that matter since COVID-19 has set in. You never know what is going on in the kitchen. It was such a nice dining experience especially since it is so quiet in the City.
All the tables were spread out by more than six feet and the sidewalk that is outside the hotel has all sorts of planters and flowers to block the street. With the views of the library across the street and the excellent service it was very relaxing. I had a Shrimp Po Boy (see review on TripAdvisor) that was delicious. The hoagie roll was so fresh and the shrimps were fried perfectly with fresh tomatoes and shredded lettuce. The fries were freshly cut and seasoned perfectly. It was just nice to eat a quiet, relaxing lunch and just watch the world go by with all this chaos going on. For an hour, you just forget it is all going on and I think that was the feeling of my fellow diners. I do hope though that Hunan Manor reopens because their reviews and food looked really good.
Relaxed and refreshed from lunch, I continued to tackle and explore the neighborhood. I walked down Fifth Avenue from the restaurant and made a left down East 39th Street when I noticed faces staring at me from 4 East 39th Street. They stared down at me from the entrance of the local Berkshire Bank.
The Keppel & Company building at 4 East 39th Street
The building was originally part of a complex of stables for the wealthy and was knocked down by Frederick Keppel, a art dealer. He commissioned architect George B. Post to design a new building for his business, Keppel & Co. The building was designed in the ‘Gothic style’ and the two figures that stare down at you are artist James McNeil Whistler and the other is artist Rembrandt Van Rijn (Daytonian). You could tell by the details that this did not start as a bank.
The Frederick Keppel & Company building
The rest of East 39th Street is a combination of office and apartment buildings and a lot of closed restaurants. It gets spooky to see so many closed businesses but still at night it will surprise you how many restaurants are opening just for dinner and how alive it will become again. At the end of the block you see a large empty lot overlooking the Queens skyline.
The East River Skyline of Long Island City
East 38th Street is lined with more brownstones on both sides and this shows the beauty of the side streets of the Murray Hill Historical District that stretch within the boundaries of the neighborhood. Each of these homes on the side streets are unique in their own way.
The brownstones on the side streets of Murray Hill are very unique
Passing through the core of the neighborhood, you exit at the end of East 38th Street with the most amazing views of the Queens skyline. On a sunny day these views of the river are really spectacular.
The bulldogs stare back at you
Almost like an insert between two apartment complexes is this unique little building that I thought might be a firehouse but turned out to be a stable. The ‘Bowdoin Stable’ was built in 1902 for clothing and real estate executive William R. Martin by architect Ralph Samuel Townsend in the ‘Flemish Revival Style’. The stables were sold to George C. Bowdoin in 1907 as his carriage house for his carriages, horses and groomsmen to live (ArtNerd & 6SqFt).
The George Bowdoin Stable house at 149 East 38th Street
When walking back from the views of the East River, you will notice the plaques and dedications at the Bide A Wee House at 410 East 38th Street dedicated to the building’s builder art patron John Gellatly.
The Bide A Wee plaque located outside the old Bide A Wee Building at 410 East 38th Street
This elegant plaque was designed by Laura Cardin Fraser, the first woman to design a coin for the U.S. Treasury (Read a Plaque). Ms. Cardin Fraser was an American born artist who studied at the Art Students League in New York City under her soon to be husband, James Earle Fraser. She is known for her sculptures of historical figures and for designing coins for the U.S. Government (Wiki).
Bide A Wee is a ‘no kill’ animal shelter and refuge for dogs founded by Mr.s Flora D’Auby Jenkins Kibbe after seeing this work at a shelter in Paris (Bide A Wee history).
Mrs. Flora D’Auby Jenkins Kibbe, the founder of Bide A Wee, the ‘No Kill’ Shelter
When walking down East 37th Street you will see the beginnings of the N.Y. Langone Hospital complex where there is a nice public area to sit and relax and watch the neighborhood walk by. This must be very relaxing to the hospital workers. It has some nice chairs and tables to relax
The public square at NY Langone Hospital
If you look to the corner wall of the public square, you will see the art work of artist Daru-Jung Hyang Kim in his mosaic “Sun Feast” that was created in 2013. This beautiful geometric mosaic is such an interesting work. The colors are so vibrant that they pop right out at you.
Sun Feast by artist Daru-Jung Hyang Kim
Artist Daru-Jung Hyang Kim is a Korean born artist who studied at the Seoul National University where she got her BS and then moved to New York City where she got her Masters at Pratt. The works she did for NYU Langone Hospital are some of the large artworks she has created around the world (Artist bio).
I looked up from my walk back from the river to see the unusual top of the building next to me to see a mansard like top to both sides of the building. It almost looked like port holes on the top of the building looking out. This is the Kips Bay Brewery Building that is in two parts. The older section was built in 1904 and the other part of the building was built in 1910.
650 First Avenue-The Kips Bay Brewery Building
When heading back down East 38th Street towards Madison Avenue you reach two unique mansions that are part of the ‘Gilded Age’ architecture of the neighborhood. First is the De Lamar Mansion which is now home to the Consulate of Poland on the corner of Madison Avenue and East 37th Street at 233 Madison Avenue.
This beautiful mansion was designed by architect C. P. H. Gilbert in the ‘Beaux Arts style’ in 1905 for millionaire Joseph R. De Lamar. Mr. De Lamar was a Dutch merchant seaman who made his money in mining and metallurgy. He built this home for his family and by the time it was finished he was divorced and lived here with his daughter until his death eight years later. The mansion was sold to the Consulate in 1973.
The De Lamar mansion at 233 Madison Avenue now the Consulate of Poland
Jan Karski Statue outside the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland/De Lamar Mansion
The statue is of Jan Karski who was a courier who served as part of the Anti-Nazi Resistance in German occupied Poland during WWII. The statue was created by Polish artist Karol Badyna. The statue was dedicated in 2007 (Big Apple Secrets).
Karol Badyna is a Polish born artist who has studied at the Post-Secondary School of Conservation of Works of Art and Sculpture at Monuments Conservation Studio in Krakow, Poland. He currently serves a Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts (Artist bio).
The Isaac Newton Phelps Mansion was home to J.P.Morgan II is at Madison and East 37th Street
The first part of the building was the Italianate brownstone on the corner of Madison Avenue and East 37th Street that was built by Isaac Newton Phelps in 1854 who left it to his daughter upon his death. It was bought by J.P. Morgan for his son, J.P. Morgan II who lived there from 1905-1943. It houses the Morgan Dining Room and the gift shop (Wiki).
I arrived at the Morgan Library & Museum in time for my 2:30pm tour of the museum that I had scheduled. Because of COVID-19, all the museums that have opened up in the City have timed tickets and limited amounts of people are allowed in at one time. As I walked the galleries i realized that there were only about ten of us in the museum. I know this is not the busiest museum in Manhattan but this was really quiet.
The afternoon in the museum was nice and I got through the two main exhibitions in about an hour. I saw the “Drawings of Al Taylor” and the “Jean-Jacques Lequeu: Visionary Architect” exhibitions. Neither really grabbed me. The one thing I did like about the Al Taylor exhibition was his works when he lived in the Hawaiian Islands. They were colorful and vibrant. The rest was interesting but not quite my taste.
Al Taylor’s “Duck Bondage” I thought was clever
Al Taylor was an American artist who liked the playful and whimsical look on art. He liked to experiment freely with materials and techniques (Morgan Exhibition). He graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1970 with a BFA.
After my afternoon at the Morgan Library & Museum, I continued to explore Murray Hill by walking down the rest of East 37th Street until I reached the East River Esplanade again and then just sat and enjoyed the cool breezes and the sunshine.
On the way back from the Esplanade, the one thing you will encounter is the exit from the Queens Midtown Tunnel, which is where all the noise and traffic will be coming from. All over the fence on the way back is a series of medallions from looks like various states. Check out the details on these.
Be careful when crossing the street on this part of the block as it can be dangerous or just stay to one side of the road. These cars will zoom by you. The street is really treacherous so look both ways when you are crossing the road. The Tunnel Approach Road which runs from East 40th to East 34th Streets can be hairy so watch the lights.
The continued walk on Park Avenue brought me to the Union League Club at 38 East 37th Street. The club was founded in 1863 by former members of the Union Club who did not like the Pro-Southern activities of club members and created their own club with the Union League Club. The current clubhouse was designed by member Benjamin Wistar Morris and opened in 1931.
I was exhausted from all the walking the first day and broke this trip up into a second day. Before I left the City for the evening, I stopped at Upside Pizza, a new pizzeria in the Garment District that has been gaining a cult following for their “Detroit Pizzas”, a square pizza with the sauce and cheese baked into the crust. The pizzeria is at 598 Eighth Avenue. What it lacks in charm, it makes up in flavor.
Upside Pizza at 598 Eighth Avenue in the Garment District
The pizza is so good. The pepperoni square slice I had was loaded with cheese and pepperoni and the edges of it were crisp and chewy. The flavors were spicy and intense with lots of different cheeses and the char flavor from the baking. The pizza is not cheap at $5.00 a slice but it is nice to sit in their outdoor cafe and relax and watch the world go by.
The Pepperoni pizza at Upside Pizza is excellent
It is starting to get dark early now and as I watch the last days of summer go by, I am watching the City slowly come back to life with more people coming outside and enjoying the last of the warmer days of the later summer.
My next day back in the lower 30’s in Murray Hill gave me more time to relax and not rush the neighborhood. I started by walking East 37th Street to make sure that I did not miss anything and the traffic coming out of the Queens Midtown Tunnel seems to be getting busier. I had to dodge more cars today than I did the previous day.
Walking down Tunnel Street between East 42nd and East 34th Streets can be daring especially when traffic is coming so be careful. This narrow strip of sidewalk lines both sides of the entrance and exit of the tunnel.
The other side of the Morgan Library & Museum’s J.P. Morgan Library lines the side of East 36th Street and Madison Avenue as you start to stroll down the East 36th Street. The library, which is now part of the Morgan Library & Museum was built as Mr. Morgan’s private library next to his home on Madison Avenue. The library was designed in the “Italian Palazzo style” by architect Charles Follen McKim in 1906 (Morgan Library & Museum history website).
The J.P. Morgan Library which is part of the Morgan Library & Museum
This part of the neighborhood is chock full of history and famous residents living in the neighborhood. At 125 East 36th Street is the former home of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt before their move to their more famous twin home on East 65th Street which is now part of Hunter College. They moved to this brownstone to be closer to his mother’s home in Manhattan a few blocks away.
125 East 36th Street-the former home of FDR and Eleanor
The brownstone complex on this side of East 36th Street was built by architects Kennedy & Haw in 1856 and had had a series of interesting residents until the future President and First lady came to live here from 1905 to 1908 and where their children James and Ana were born (Daytonian).
Hidden like a secret garden behind a locked gate is the Sniffen Court Historic District from 150-160 East 36th Street. Sniffen Court is named after John Sniffen, who built his complex of carriage houses in 1864.
The secret gardens of Sniffen Court is tucked behind an elaborate gate
The district encompasses the entire alley, between Third and Lexington Avenues, of 10 two story brick stables that were built in the ‘Romanesque Revival style’. When they were no longer used for stables they were converted to homes.
Sniffen Court is like a little ‘fantasy land’ behind the gate
Passing this delightful little garden complex is another unusual building with vines snaking down and faces staring at you. The building at 220 East 36th Street was built in 1910 and look up at the details when you pass. Mysterious faces will stare back at you.
220 East 36th Street has some amazing details to it.
When you reach the end of East 36th Street, there is a wonderful little public square next to the American Copper Buildings at 616-626 First Avenue. These unusual buildings are built almost on a tilt and have a playful appeal to them. What is nice is the public space where you can just relax and talk to people. The neighborhood residents use this as an escape from the confinement of their apartments due to COVID and go out to talk to people.
The American Copper Buildings at 616-626 First Avenue
On a beautiful day, there is nothing like this delightful little park on the extension of First Avenue near FDR Drive. People really enjoy relaxing here and it is nice to see the neighborhood out and about.
The plaza at the American Copper Buildings
Another nice place to stop and relax is St. Vartan Park, which is located between East 35th and East 36th Street between First and Second Avenue. The park is extremely popular with the neighborhood families so expect to see the place crowded all the time. The one thing I like about it there are public bathrooms that usually stay open until dusk.
Check out the plaques dedicated to the Murray Hill Post 59 who dedicated the flag post and the lights to the park. The playgrounds are a little worn but the kids and their parents don’t seem to mind.
St. Vartan Park with the namesake Church in the background St. Vartan Armenian Church
There is always so much action going on in the park from pick up basketball games, to jungle gym climbing to who is chasing who around the playground. It is fun even in the days of COVID that people will just throw on a mask and have some fun.
On a beautiful sunny day St. Vartan Park really shines
On the way back from walking the park and enjoying the shine just be careful when walking the south side of East 36th Street as the traffic coming from the Queens Midtown Tunnel funnels out very quickly and some of the drivers really don’t watch.
The site of the famous Henry Lewis Stimson House is at 120 East 36th Street, which is now an apartment building simply known at the Stimson House. Henry Louis Stimson was a influential lawyer and statesman in the United States serving under several presidents.
Henry Lewis Stimson
Here also marks the plaque of Murray Hill Historic District that covers most of the neighborhood. The central part of the neighborhood especially between Park and Third Avenues are lined with brownstones each with their own flair to them.
The commercial district once had two of the great department stores of the era and even today as Lord & Taylor closes it doors for the final time in the next few months after being in business since 1826, the building stands as a testament to the former lower Fifth Avenue corridor. As you enter East 35th Street, you see the grandeur of the former B. Altman department store building built by retail great Benjamin Altman.
The B. Altman building at 361 Fifth Avenue on the corner of Fifth Avenue between East 35th and 34th Streets
This elegant building was designed in the 1906 by architects Trowbridge & Livingston in the “Italian Renaissance style’ to fit into the then fancier residential district it was then located in at the time. The area between 34th and 42nd Street had replaced the ‘Ladies Shopping Mile’ along Sixth Avenue as the retail section of the City marched uptown.
On the next block at Madison Avenue and East 35th Street is the elegant Church of the Incarnation at 209 Madison Avenue. The historic Episcopalian church was built between 1864-65 by architect Emil T. Littel with the church rectory designed by Robert Mook in 1868. The extension of the church was built in 1882 by architect David Jardine (Wiki).
The Church of the Incarnation at 205-209 Madison Avenue
On the corner of Park Avenue, I passed the James Robb House. The now apartment building was once the home of James Hampden Robb and his wife, Cornelia Van Rensselaer Robb. The mansion was built by Stamford White from McKim, Mead & White for the couple in the ‘Italian Renaissance style’ in 1892 (Wiki).
Further down East 35th Street another famous New Yorker lived at 111 East 35th Street. Illustrator Charles Dan Gibson lived in this house. The famous American artist was best known for his illustrations of the ‘Gibson Girl’ inspired by his wife and daughters. He studied at the Art Student League in New York City (Wiki).
111 East 35th Street the former home of Illustrator Charles Dana Gibson
Tucked to the side of the residential neighborhood is another amazing little church. The New York New Church at 114 East 35th Street is a quiet, tranquil little church with another interesting garden that lies another iron fence. The church was built in 1858 and was finished in 1859 and was designed in the ‘neo-Renaissance style’.
Further down the street is the Stein College for Woman which is part of the larger Yeshiva University which houses the University’s Arts & Sciences Department. This beautiful building was built in 1911 as the Packard Commercial School. It was taken over by Yeshiva University in 1954. The building was donated to the University by industrialist Max Stern (Wiki).
The Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University at 245 Lexington Avenue
Tucked to the side at 142 East 35th Street is another unique brownstone that was built in 1901. This triplex has the most interesting details in the grill work and almost looks like something seen in New Orleans.
142 East 35th Street has almost a New Orleans feel to it when you walk by
I ended my walk back at the East River Esplanade reading up on the British attack of Manhattan during the Revolutionary War with the landing at Kips Bay (then called Keps Bay) which stretched from East 35th to East 34th Streets. The views of Long Island City were just spectacular at twilight. It amazes me how much change still keeps going on in the East River area.
I stopped by to admire the St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral at 630 Second Avenue which the park was named after. This interesting church sits on the border of the Murray Hill and is the first Cathedral Armenian Apostolic Church to be constructed in North America (Wiki).
St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral at 630 Second Avenue
What I thought was interesting that I had not noticed before was a painting that sits on the side of Profit Chinese Restaurant is a painting of Salvador Dali that was somewhat exaggerated. The painting was painted by Brazilian artist Sipros.
The Salvador Dali painting by @Sipros by the Bushwick Collection (painted over in 2022)
Heading back to Fifth Avenue I came across another interesting brownstone with the most unusual brownstone with the most interesting stonework, The Frances Key Pendleton House which was built in 1853 by Henry H. Butterworth who had architects Washington and Samuel Cronk build four brownstones on what had been Henry Murray’s old estate. The house was bought by Frances Key Pendleton, the grandson of Francis Scott Key the author of “The Star Spangled Banner”. Thought he loved the home, the house had seen much sadness when he lived there (Daytonian).
The home got its current appearance in the 1930’s when the home was sold to a realty company and they gave it a more Mediterranean look to it with the stucco and statuary.
The last interesting piece of history the walk in the neighborhood which wrapped up the walk of Murray Hill was the plaque for the site of Inclenberg at the corner of Park Avenue and East 35th Street which was the site of the Henry Murray Mansion.
The plaque of the location of “Inclenberg” the Murray family mansion
“Inclenberg” the Murray family mansion where history was made
I thought it was a fitting way to wrap up my walk in Murray Hill then to pay homage to the family who the neighborhood was named. If they could take a time machine and see what their farm and estate has turned into or even experiencing the effects of COVID would have the family wondering.
Keeping with the spirit of celebrating the past, I went to Sarges Delicatessen and Diner that night for dinner. The deli was founded by former NYPD officer Abe Katz in 1964 who wanted to bring the best of Jewish cooking to the public (Sarges History).
They had set up a small cafe outside the restaurant for patrons to dine and I had a half of a pastrami sandwich and a bowl of Matzo Ball Soup ($18.95) and it was the best dinner after a long walk. The soup hit the spot on a cool evening with the rich chicken broth and the sandwich was piled high with salty meat and hot mustard.
The pastrami sandwich at Sarges is excellent
For dessert, I went to Holey Ice Cream & Doughnut at 522 Third Avenue for dessert. I had to walk around the block a few times to convince myself that I wanted it. I just said I am still hungry and will walk it off and went in.
I had a doughnut filled with Cookie Dough, Maine Blueberry and Birthday Cake ice cream with a glazed doughnut with fruit loops on top. I loved the intense sweetness of the dessert. The sugar high put a smile on my face and the energy to continue walking.
The Ice Cream is excellent but they could work on the doughnuts
I finished my walk this evening by relaxing back in Bryant Park and just walking people converse and have a nice time talking and laughing (socially distanced of course). It was nice to see things calm down and be a little normal for a change.
I came back to Murray Hill a few days later just to confirm some addresses and brownstones that I liked and walked to the neighborhood starved. I first stopped off at Pizza & Pita Halah Food at 344 East 34th Street for some Garlic Knots and sauce on the side ($2.00) and after I confirmed everything I wanted to see, I had dinner at Profit Chinese Restaurant at 643 Second Avenue for dinner. The Beef with String Beans in Garlic Sauce was really good ($11.00) but the eggrolls here are just okay. The best part was I took my dinner back to St. Vartan Park and ate dinner.
I can’t believe that with all this craziness with COVID-19 I was finally able to get back to walking the neighborhoods of Manhattan. I had not done this since I finished Central Park South before the holidays.
The whole City has morphed since March 13th. It is like a different world. Just like I saw on my recent Broadway walk through neighborhoods that I had seen in the past everything has changed so much. Restaurants and stores that had been part of the City fabric for years have disappeared. Interesting little hole in the wall restaurants that I had enjoyed so much in Turtle Bay and in Midtown are either shut or out of business. I have had to start revisiting neighborhoods just to see if things are still open.
The surprising part of today’s walk is how quiet the City was not just in Murray Hill but all over the place. I did not get into the City until noon and even Times Square at lunch hour was quiet. Port Authority looked like it had less than 50 people in it and it is surreal how quiet most of the restaurants that are open are to customers. This is what happens when there are not tourists. It was like looking at Manhattan through a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode.
Since Murray Hill’s northern border is East 42nd Street, it was an easy walk across town. I had not walked around the neighborhood in about seven months, so I revisited a few places on the border of the neighborhood in Turtle Bay and Midtown East. It was shocking how many places shut their doors for good. It is surreal in that seven months ago these places were going strong. It is almost like Christmas 2019 did not exist where you could not walk on the sidewalks in Midtown.
I started my morning with a walk-through Bryant Park which is right behind the New York Public Library and one of most beautiful small parks in Manhattan. It was one of those really nice Summer mornings and the park was surprisingly busy. The tables and chairs are ‘socially distanced’ and park patrons did their best to stay away from each other. It also has the nicest and cleanest public bathrooms in Manhattan.
Years ago, when I worked in Manhattan in the early 90’s, Bryant Park was only used for drug dealing and criminal activity and was best avoided. What twenty years and a major renovation can do to a park. Today you can walk along the flowering paths and think you are in Paris. In the past there have been concerts and movies in the park but because of COVID-19, you can just sit in the park on a chair or bench and enjoy the sunshine and admire the flowers.
Just walking along the paths of Bryant Park can make you forget your troubles
I started my walk of the Murray Hill neighborhood at the New York Public Library admiring the stone carvings and statuary that is part of the entrance of the famous library. The library had just had a recent refreshing and looked magnificent with the fountains flowing and patrons filling the tables outside the building.
The New York Public Guards the borders of Murray Hill from Fifth Avenue
This famous iconic building was designed by the firm of Carrere and Hastings in the Beaux-Arts style and opened its doors May 23, 1911. The founding for this important library came from patronage of the wealth members of society who believed in the value education and opened it to the people.
The famous lion statues that grace the entrance of the library were designed by American sculptor Edward Clark Potter and they were carved by the Piccirilli Brothers, American stone carvers whose business was based in the Bronx.
Edward Clark Potter is an American born artist who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and at the Academie Julian in Paris where he studied ‘animalier’, animal sculpture.
The Piccirilli Brothers were a family of stone carvers and artists in their own right who were from Massa, Italy and owned a business in the Bronx. There were responsible for many famous statues all over the City including the Maine Memorial in Columbus Circle and the Firemen’s Memorial in Riverside Park.
Artist Attilio Piccirillo, one of the most famous from the family
Another feature of the famous building and I had never noticed before was the elegant fountains that flank the entrance to the library. I did not realize that these fountains had just been restored in 2015 after thirty years of not functioning. They were restored with a grant from the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust (NYPL Site).
The fountain “Beauty”
The fountain “Truth”
These beautiful fountains were designed by artist Frederick MacMonnies, an American born artist who studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
After having a snack at the tables in front of the library and throwing a few coins in the fountains for good luck, off I went to explore the borders of Murray Hill.
Enjoy the opening scene of “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library:
Enjoy this scene from “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library
Murray Hill is an interesting neighborhood with a fascinating past. The name “Murray Hill” comes from the Colonial Murray family, who were Quaker merchants and overseas traders. The family was presided by its patriarch, Robert Murray and his wife, Mary Lindley Murray, who raised a family in their home, Inclenberg, which is now the corner of Park Avenue and East 37th Street.
The Murray family mansion, Inclenberg, now the corner of Park Avenue and East 37th Street
Mrs. Murray was credited with delaying General William Howe and his army during General Washington’s retreat from New York following the British landing at Kip’s Bay on September 15,1776. According to the family lore, Mrs. Murray invited the officers to tea, treating them to cakes and wine with singing and poetry readings by her daughters, allowing a successful retreat by the Americans to the other side of the island to meet up with another branch of troops (Wiki and American History).
Mrs. Murray entertaining the British troops and hastening the American retreat
The plaque were the spot the house stood sits prominently on the corner of Park Avenue and East 37th Street.
The plaque dedicated to Mary Lindley Murray’s patriotism
I started my trip in exploring the neighborhood walking down East 42nd Street, the northern most border of Murray Hill with the Midtown East and Turtle Bay neighborhoods. East 42nd Street is host to many famous architectural gems of Manhattan starting as you cross Fifth Avenue.
The newly opened One Vanderbilt Avenue was still under construction when I walked this neighborhood but was open for business when I revisited the neighborhood. The lobby of one Vanderbilt Avenue has the most beautiful sculptures by English artist Tony Cragg.
The Tony Cragg Sculptures in the lobby of One Vanderbilt Avenue
Artist Tony Cragg is a British born artist who has studied at the Wimbledon School of Art and the Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology. He studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art where he graduated with an MA. These sculptures are a signature of the artist.
One Vanderbilt Avenue is a ninety-three story office building and was designed by architect James Von Klemperer. It opened in 2020 and now offers Summit One Vanderbilt, a observation deck (which I did not know even existed until a tourist asked me about it).
Across from One Vanderbilt Avenue is Grand Central Terminal, the crown jewel of Murray Hill to the north of the neighborhood.
There are still many tourists around the building taking pictures but not like in pre-COVID-19 years where the place is crowds of people milling around. The look of the building is impressive inside and out. The building was designed by the team of Reed and Stem for the overall design and Warren and Wetmore for interior and exterior designs. The detailed sculptures on the exterior were created by the team of Jules Felix Coutan, Sylvain Salieres and Paul Cesar Helleu including the crown gem of sculpture “Glory of Commerce”.
The “Glory of Commerce” sits proud above Park Avenue
Artist Jules-Felix Coutan was born in France and had studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. “The Glory of Commerce” was one of his most famous works.
I was not surprised that most of the buildings were now closed to touring. The Chrysler Building looked closed to walk ins, the Ford Building with its indoor gardens and small gallery was closed and walking around Grand Central Station was like an episode of the “Twilight Zone”. There were maybe hundred people milling around with some tourists taking pictures of the ceiling. The downstairs food court which was always nuts at lunch had about three restaurants open and a very bored police officer looking at either a book or a cell phone.
The Grand Central Terminal Food Court is almost closed
The food court on the lower level usually bustling with people have lunch or snacks from the surrounding office buildings is down to about four or five open vendors and even they are not that busy. The only busy place in the food court was the public bathrooms as the few tourists in the City could not find a place to go. When I walked out of the food court to go back to 42nd Street, some guy looked at the famous Oyster Bar restaurant and said to me “I can’t believe this place is closed. It never closes.” The sign on the door of the restaurant said it was closing on March 16th by City order. It is amazing how time still stands still for parts of the City since the reopening. It’s the same in the subway system. There are still posters for things that say “March…”.
The terminal is barely filled these days
Exiting the building’s main entrance, look up closely before you leave and you will see the sculpture of the railroad’s founder, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. I have missed this many times, so you have to look on a angle for it. The statue used to sit at the Hudson River Freight Depot which has since been demolished (Wiki and Ernst Plassman bio).
The statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt the founder of the shipping and railroad empire
The statue was designed by artist Ernst Plassman a German born American artist who moved to New York in 1853. The artist studied under many famous artists in Europe before founding the “Plassman’s School of Art” in New York City in 1854.
After leaving the surreal Grand Central Terminal with the empty main floor and quiet halls (I can’t wait to see what it looks like again when a vaccine is found), I walked out the main entrance towards East 42nd Street. Pershing Square across the street was busy with what office workers who work in the area and tourists filling the tables of the cafe that was open for business. People really like sitting outside and moving the concept of restaurants to outside dining has made it extremely popular in the nice weather for what restaurants can open under this concept. On a nice day, people don’t mind socially distancing in Murray Hill.
Across the street from Grand Central Station where the now closed Cipriani is the former headquarters of the Bowery Savings Bank. Don’t miss the beautiful details of the bank’s design. This became the new headquarters in 1920 in the move uptown from their former Stanford White designed headquarters in Chinatown. It was designed by York and Sawyer in the ‘Italian Romanesque Style’ with William Lewis Ayres as a partner in the project (Wiki).
The former Bowery Savings Bank Building at 110 East 42nd Street
Another very interesting building with amazing details is the Chanin Building at 122 East 42nd Street. The building was named after it’s developer Irwin S. Chanin. You have to look close and then across the street again to see its details. The building was developed between 1927-29 and was designed by Sloan & Robertson in the “Art Deco Style” with a brick and terra cotta frontage.
I then passed the now closed to tourists Chrysler Building with it Art Deco design and interesting sculptures jutting out. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the building does not encourage people to enter who don’t work there. Still, you can read about my earlier visits there last year when walking the Turtle Bay neighborhood.
The Chrysler Building was built in the ‘Art Deco’ style by architect William Van Alen for Walter Chrysler, the owner of the company. The building held the title of the “World’s Tallest Building” for 11 months until the completion of the Empire State Building. The building along with 40 Wall Street and the Empire State Building competed for the “Race to the Sky” in 1929 right before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. You really have to look up to see the details to the building and walk its lobby (closed to the public during the pandemic).
You have to look up high to see this
When the building is open don’t miss the ceiling in the lobby. It is really detailed, and the security guards are really cool about letting you take pictures. In Post-COVID they do not want you to enter the building unless you work there. The work shows the ambitions and accomplishments of the business world (The Ornamentalist). The beauty of the art commerce is “Transport and Human Endeavor” by artist Edward Turnbull (I could not find anything on the artist online).
“Transport and Human Endeavor” by artist Edward Turnbull
As you walk down East 42nd Street towards the East River, you will pass The Daily News Building at 220 East 42nd Street. This interesting building was designed by architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells in the ‘Art Deco Style’ and built between 1928-1930 to house the Headquarters of the New York Daily News.
Their lobby was open when I was touring the Turtle Bay neighborhood (its now closed to the public) should not be missed with its interesting paintings on the walls and grillwork by the elevators all designed in the ‘Art Deco Style’.
Going into their lobby (now closed post-COVID) is really interesting to see the globe
The Ford Foundation Building is another interesting piece of architecture. The building was created by architects Kevin Roche and John Dinkleloo in the ‘Late Modernist Style” and was completed in 1968.
The Ford Foundation Building at 320 East 43rd Street
At the very end of East 42nd Street is Tudor City, one of the earliest examples of a planned middle-class communities. Built on what was once a combination of manufacturing and residential area surrounding First Avenue and the East River, architect H. Douglas Ives created Tudor City, named after the ‘Tudor Style’ design of the buildings with gardens, paths, bay windows and arches that make up the details of the buildings. It opened in 1926.
It’s worth the trip up the stairs to the gardens and paths on both parts of the complex. Not part of the original plan of the complex, they were designed by landscape architect Sheffield A. Arnold designing the North Park (Wiki). These cool refuges from the hot sun are nice on a walk around the complex.
The Tudor City Green spaces are nice on a hot day to relax
I also wanted to check out one of my favorite stores in Manhattan, Azalea & Oak, located at 5 Tudor Place but it was closed because of the COVID pandemic but open by appointment only or by internet. Don’t miss this unique children’s and accessory store. It has such interesting merchandise.
When I finally passed all this creative architecture in the ‘open air museum’ of East 42nd Street I got to First Avenue where the United Nations complex is located to the left and Robert Moses Park to the right.
Before you cross the street, there is a Ralph Bunche Park & Garden, a small garden on the edge of the park named after the Nobel Prize winner, who played a role in many peacekeeping operations sponsored by the United Nations.
The gardens have gotten a little overgrown since my last visit but still very colorful with flowers and plantings still crowding out all the weeds that are beginning to take over. Tucked in the park is a plaque to Bayard Rustin, a American leader of social movements and who helped organize the ‘Freedom rides’ of the 1960’s (Wiki).
As I crossed the street, I walked around the very sterile Robert Moses Park. For one of our great park system builders and who changed the highway system around New York City, they named one of the most unattractive parks after him. Though the man was far from perfect after reading the book “Power Broker” about his life, he changed the whole way New Yorkers lived. The park somewhat personifies him in the end of being sterile and aloof with the public.
The Robert Moses Playground is somewhat sterile and aloof
As I toured the parks the worst part is that the bathrooms here are closed to the public, so I had to keep walking to find somewhere to go. The border of the East River with FDR Drive I would not suggest walking down. You will walk down a combination of First Avenue and FDR Drive until you get to the East River Esplanade at East 36th Street, then you get the cool breezes of the river and the beautiful views of the Brooklyn coast. It’s nice on a hot day to sit back and enjoy the sunshine and cools breezes.
The East River Esplanade snakes from East 41st Street to East 34th Street
When I walked to East 34th Street, I came across another plaque that more to do with the history of Murray Hill, the Kips Bay (Keps Bay) landing of the British army to Manhattan. On September 15th, 1776, the British landed their army here in an ambitious military landing in what the type was a deep-water cover surrounded by a meadow. This led to the retreat of the American militia to another part of the island (Wiki). Today it is one of the boat landings for the New York ferry system and a start off point to walk the esplanade.
The Kip’s Bay landing by the British on September 15th, 1776
I walked all along the esplanade, enjoying the views and watching people walk their dogs and jogging like nothing was happening around them. It also offers the most breathtaking views of the Brooklyn skyline that keeps changing.
I give New Yorkers credit for their resilience. There are some people who go about life like nothing is going on around them but just doing it with a mask on. That does give me faith that things are getting somewhat back to normal.
When exiting the Esplanade and walking up the FDR extension, there is an interesting and very relaxing public square at 626 East 36th Street and FDR Drive next to the American Copper Buildings. It is a nice place to relax on the benches and just people come and go.
The little plaza by 626 First Avenue is a nice place to just sit and relax
I finally got to East 34th Street by the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital later that afternoon and was surprised to find such a playful piece of art just outside. “Spot” is a Dalmatian balancing a taxi on his nose is located just outside the Children’s Hospital’s doors. “I wanted to make something so astounding to distract to even those arriving with the most serious procedures” (Artist Bio) the artist was quoted as saying when the piece was unveiled. It sits four stories in front of the hospital. It is a very playful piece of art that stopped me in my tracks.
“Spot” by artist Donald Lipski
Artist Donald Lipski is an American born artist who is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cranbrook Academy of Art. He is best known for his large scale works in public places (Artist’s Bio).
I reached East 34th Street by lunch hour and I have to say for around a hospital there is a limited choice of take-out places around the facility. Most of the restaurants in the area are still closed or have gone out of business. Even before the pandemic, some parts of the neighborhood are being knocked down for new construction and work continued as I visited taking down many of the smaller buildings that used to house small restaurants.
I had lunch at Pizza & Pita at 344 East 34th Street right across the street from the small park that faces the hospital. I just wanted a slice of pizza and when I walked in a fresh pie had just come out. The pizza looked as good as it tasted.
Pizza & Pita at 344 East 34th Street (now Previti Pizza in September 2022)
The sauce has an amazing rich flavor and the loaded with cheese for a gooey consistency. I was so impressed by the pizza that I went back later that afternoon for a Chicken Parmesan sandwich that was just as good. Two large freshly fried chicken cutlets loaded with their delicious sauce and loads of cheese on a fresh roll. It was heaven in every bite.
The pizza here is great!
I just relaxed and ate my lunch in the small public plaza across the street from the hospital and watched as the hospital staff came out from their frustrating days and ate their lunches beside me. It seemed to do them well.
While at lunch I admired another interesting art piece entitled “Stemmer” by New York City born American artist David Fried.
“Stemmer” at the plaza at East 34th Street and First Avenue
The artist grew up in New York City and attended the School of Art & Music and was accepted into the Arts Students League of New York. The “Stemmers” sculptures are one of his trademark pieces.
After lunch, I continued my walk down East 34th Street to the border of Murray Hill at Fifth Avenue. The neighborhood is very ‘old New York’ especially between First and Madison Avenues with the small buildings and high rises from the 1960’s and 70’s. The area is currently going through a makeover with new buildings, but it still has that “Woody Allen” feel of New York. Everything is not gleaming and new.
Tucked here and there by buildings and courtyards on East 34th Street is a bevy of interesting street art. The statue “Thinking Big” which was formally in Central Park South on Sixth Avenue last year has found a home in front of 222 East 34th Street.
Jim Rennert is an American born artist known for his large bronze sculptures depicting the everyday man. Mostly self-taught, his works are seen all over the country and really do make a statement.
Walking further down East 34th Street just outside a little courtyard of one of the apartment buildings is artist John Sewart Johnson’s II sculpture “The Right Light”, a bronze sculpture of an artist and his easel. The sculpture is located just outside a building between Third and Lexington Avenues.
‘The Right Light’ by artist John Sewart Johnson II
Artist John Seward Johnson II was an American artist who attended the University of Maine, and he is known for his ‘familiar man’ sculptures and icons paintings.
I reached Madison Avenue and walked past the grill work of another interesting office building. The Madison Belmont Building at 181 Madison Avenue was built in 1924 and designed by architects Warren & Wetmore in the Renaissance style with Art Deco details for the Cheney Brothers Silk Company.
“The Madison Belmont Building” at 181 Madison Avenue
Look up at the interesting grill work and details of the building
Reaching the border of Murray Hill to the south is the former B. Altman Department Store that closed in 1989 and in the other corner is the Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the world.
The B. Altman Building at 361 Fifth Avenue was built by Benjamin Altman for the new location for his ‘carriage trade’ store. The store was designed by architects Trowbridge & Livingston in the “Italian Renaissance Style” in 1906. The palatial store was home to couture clothing, fine furniture and expensive artwork.
The former B. Altman Department Store at 361 Fifth Avenue
As the shopping district left Sixth Avenue below 23rd Street, the former “Ladies Shopping Mile” (read my Victorian Christmas Blog on the shopping district) gave way to stores opening between 34th Street to 42nd Street and eventually to the Fifth Avenue locations between 50th and 60th Streets where what is left of the great stores stand today.
My blog on the Ladies Shopping Mile and a “Victorian Christmas”:
As I walked up Fifth Avenue, the western border of the neighborhood, I was struck by all the other beautiful buildings that must have housed fine retail stores as the shopping district moved to this area.
At the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 36th Street is 390 Fifth Avenue that was designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White for the Gorham Manufacturing Company of fine silver products in 1903. It was designed in the “Italian Renaissance Style” and was used for manufacturing and their showroom. It later became Russeks Department store and has now found other uses.
390 Fifth Avenue-The Gorham Manufacturing Building
Further up is the dazzling 373 Fifth Avenue which was built in 1800’s for the home of Charles H. Russell when the area was dominated by great mansions. As one by one the mansions were razed for commercial use, the home was razed in 1906 and architects Hunt & Hunt built the current office building in 1906 for Joseph Fahys & Company and for silversmiths Alvin Manufacturing Company (Daytonian).
Walking further up Fifth Avenue into the 400 block, more unique buildings fascinated me. The first that has always caught my eye is 401 Fifth Avenue, the old Tiffany & Company building. The building was designed for the company by Stamford White of McKim, Mead & White and was completed in 1905. The building was used by the jewelry store until 1940 when it moved to its new location further up Fifth Avenue. The building was inspired by the Palazzo Grimani de San Luca in Venice, Italy (Wiki).
Another standout building further up is 411 Fifth Avenue with its interesting trim and sculpture along the sides and top of the building. This building was built in 1915 again by the architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore with what was considered baroque trim that included urns, flowers and heads with facial reliefs (Daytonian). The building was used for small luxury manufacturing for things like millinery, lace and silversmiths. Today it is used as an office building.
Approaching the New York Public Library again, I passed what were some of the great department stores along the Fifth Avenue retail corridor that once dominated between 34th and 42nd Streets.
The former Lord & Taylor headquarters store that opened in 1914 just recently closed with a sale to the now imploded WeWorks company and was just sold to Amazon for 985 million dollars. This former ‘grand carriage trade’ store replaced the former headquarters store at Broadway and 20th Street by Union Square and opened at this location at 424-434 Fifth Avenue. The 11-story building was designed by architects Starrett & Van Vleck in the ‘Italian Renaissance Revival’. The store closed for business in January of 2019 after over one hundred years in the location.
Lord & Taylor was founded in New York City in 1826 and has moved around the City several times in its long history. I will miss walking around the store and wondering through the store at Christmas time which was always magical in the store’s heyday. I like everyone in the City will miss their Christmas windows.
I’m not sure if Amazon will continue this tradition
Another great retailer was at 452 Fifth Avenue, the former home to Knox Hat Company which was incorporated into the HSBC Tower in 1984. The glass tower was built around the Beaux Arts building for the HSBC and it was considered an architectural marvel when it opened. The Knox Building was built in 1902 and is considered one of the finest examples of ‘Beaux Arts style’ in Manhattan.
452 Fifth Avenue-The Knox Hat Company Building part of the HSBC Building
The Knox Hat Company was considered one of the finest hat companies for men when it was founded in 1838. It once had 62 retail stores and was sold in all the finest stores. It did not survive the Great Depression and was merged with three other companies in 1932 to form Hat Corporation of American (Hat Co) (Bernard Hats history).
The last interesting building I saw before returning to the library to relax by the fountains again was 454 Fifth Avenue at 40th Street, the old Arnold Constable & Company department store.
Fifth Avenue at 40th Street-Arnold Constable & Company Department store
The building opened in 1915 and closed when the company went out of business in 1975. It is now part of the New York Public Library. Arnold Constable & Company was founded in 1825 and was considered one of the oldest stores in New York City. The building was created as the shopping district moved further uptown.
I finished my day back at the tables in front of the New York Public Library and then back in Bryant Park to relax under a tree. God did it pour that afternoon as I made my way around the streets surrounding Murray Hill. I did not realize just the rich history of the neighborhood and its role in the Revolutionary War but the treasure trove of street art and unique buildings that line its avenues.
You really do learn something new every day!
Check out my other blogs on Murray Hill as well:
Walking the Avenues of Murray Hill on August 14th, 2020:
I left the addresses and locations of the buildings and street art that I found in the full body of the blog. Remember don’t miss looking up and admiring the ‘open air’ museum that is free when walking on the sidewalks.
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…
*I wanted to let readers know that this blog is a combination of all four of my walks around the perimeter of the Island of Manhattan and I have kept it in order by section of the island. This way you can experience all the wonderful things to see, do and eat at along the way. Never do this walk in the rain! That was tough.
As New York City is just beginning to reopen during the COVID-19 Pandemic and trying to return to normal, I have been wondering Manhattan to see what changes have happened in those three months. It is still incredible how much of the City is beginning to remind me of the mid-1970’s.
My trip in 2020 into lower Manhattan revealed a City looking circa 1980 with boarded up stores and graffiti all over the place. Walking around the neighborhoods in Midtown and Downtown last week were a real eye-opener on how pent-up frustration can almost destroy the fabric of a City and the underpinnings of human nature. It really showed just how frustrated everyone is with being sick, unemployed and broke.
Fifth Avenue boarded up on June 15th, 2020
Even when the stores windows get fixed and the stores restocked, I don’t think people will forget that quickly. When you finally let people ‘out of their cages’ (i.e. their apartments) though you can see that compassion come back. This is what I saw on my thirty-two mile walk around the Island of Manhattan.
On my walk in 2021, the weather was just as spectacular as it was in 2020 but the mood of the City was different as things in Manhattan had been opened now for a year and the mask mandates were giving way to better days ahead. I saw so much interesting ‘public art’ all along my walk and ate at restaurants new and revisited from other blogs in the past six years. I felt like I was seeing old friends. I also took more time to look over artworks, explore parks and admire the views more on this beautiful day. There are better days ahead for New York City as it continues to morph and change.
In May of 2022, I did the official walk with the Shorewalkers Inc., the people that run the walk every year. This was the first time since 2019 that the group held the walk and I wanted to be part of it with all the other walkers. Initially the walk was sold out three weeks before the day of the walk, but I got on the waitlist and when the weather report said rain all day, a lot of people dropped out. It ended up raining (and I mean raining) the whole time of the walk with just a few lulls and the sun did peak out for about five minutes up by the Carl Schulz Park. I wish it had been longer. I was drenched by the time it was over.
We started the morning of 2022 with an early report to the Frances Tavern at 54 Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan, the start and finish of the walk. I had not been there in years and missed the beauty of the building and its historical value. Since I signed up for the walk at the last minute, I did not want to be late. I had started at West 23rd and West 42nd Street in the past so I knew how to pace myself and once I was all signed in at 7:30am, I started the walk. Many others had started before me so I passed many people along the way, wondering how many of us would finish.
The Frances Tavern at 54 Pearl Street is the official start point for the Great Saunter in May every year
The “Great Saunter” was done exclusively in the rain this year. Usually, I pick a sunny day during the Summer Solstice which honors my dad on Father’s Day but since the official walk is the first Saturday in May, off I went. It poured and was gloomy the whole time of the walk. I endured it in good spirits meeting others along the way that kept me going.
In July of 2022, I decided to do the perimeter walk one more time because the weather had been so horrible in May of 2022 that I wanted to see the whole island again when the weather was nice. The walk had started out nicely with it being overcast and in the 70’s but once the clouds broke and it cleared up, it was in the 80’s and got humid. Still it was a beautiful day for walking.
Walking around the Island of Manhattan is no easy task. In 2020, I had planned this since last year and made it my goal to do the walk on the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. The problem was I had a ton of yard work to do on the first day of the summer and I had to get it done knowing that I would be tired after a walk like this. So, after a day of trimming bushes and weeding the lawn, I put my game plan together for the next morning.
Since it was Father’s Day Sunday, I wanted to do something different and special to honor my father more than just sitting at a cemetery looking at an inscription. This is not something my father would want me to do. So my honoring him was to remind myself of all the wonderful Father’s Day’s we spent in Manhattan visiting museums, parks and going to see independent movies at the MoMA and the Angelica. After which we would dine at whatever restaurant I had seen in the Village Voice. Those were the days I wanted to remember.
My inspiration “The Great Saunter” by Cy V. Adler
‘The Great Saunter Walk’ had been cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and would be held at a later date. The walk was started in 1984 by Mr. Cy A. Adler, who founded The Shorewalkers Inc., a non-profit environmental and walking group whose group was fighting for a public walkway since 1982. The first Saturday in May was designated as ‘Great Saunter Day’ (Wiki and Company founding) and has been recognized by most current Mayors of New York City.
Cy V. Adler
I got the map of the walk off the internet and tried to figure out where to start. The walk starts at Frances Tavern in Lower Manhattan, but I thought that was too far away. I thought of starting at 110th Street so I could get through Harlem faster but then I would be travelling back to 110 Street late at night, so I nixed that. Then I thought, I have to get off at 42nd Street for the Port Authority anyway and that is where I am at now with my walking project plus when I finish, I will only be a few blocks away from the bus station so why not start there?
So, in 2020 for my first walk, I started my walk around the Island of Manhattan at the Circle Line Boat Pier where I celebrated last year’s birthday. In 2022, this is where I started again. It made it easier for when I needed to get back to Port Authority.
The Circle Line is where I spent 2019’s birthday touring Manhattan by rivers
I took the 6:35am bus into New York to start early. During the week, the first bus comes at 5:30am and I would have liked to get more of head start but I wanted to do the walk on Father’s Day so into the City I went that morning. I got to the Pier by 7:07am and started the walk around the island. It was the same in 2022.
The Circle Line was closed also because of COVID-19 so the Pier was quiet that morning. I looked over my map of Manhattan and started the walk along the pathways along the Hudson River going up the Joe DiMaggio Highway to the Henry Hudson Highway. I had not been to this part of the Manhattan in about two years.
In 2022, the Circle Line had opened for business, but the first ride was not until around 10:00am so the area was quiet as well. When I finished the walk at 8:55pm, fourteen hours after I had started, the Circle Line had just returned from a ride around the island and people were flowing off the boat. Talk about a huge change in just two years.
When I decided to do the walk for a second time on June 25th, 2021, I put together a different game plan. With all the problems happening all over the City (shootings and harassments had been going up all over the City), I decided that I wanted to start earlier then I had the previous year and decided to spend the night before in Manhattan so I could get an earlier start.
I stayed at the Moxy Hotel in Chelsea at 105 West 28th Street in the heart of the Flower District and I have to say that the hotel has excellent views of the City. I received a room on the tenth floor facing Sixth Avenue and at night I have to say it was one hell of a view. When the lights came on in the evening, the whole neighborhood twinkled.
I got up at 5:00am that morning as the sun shined through the floor to ceiling windows (I wanted to get up early so I pulled the curtains back to see the sun) and got ready then checked the luggage, checked out and started my walk the second time at 6:15am.
The mood of the City was much different from the previous year with more businesses opening up and more people milling around the parks. Still the City was pretty quiet for most of the day especially as I reached uptown.
In 2022, I signed up for the official walk a few days before the walk started knowing that it was going to rain all day that year. That’s why I was able to join in because so many people dropped out (and kept dropping out along the route with all that rain).
I started the walk in 2021 with a good breakfast at Chelsea Papaya at 171 West 23rd Street #1. I have passed this small hole in the wall restaurant for years on my walks around the neighborhood but had never eaten there. I had passed it the night before on my way back to the hotel and thought it would be a good to have breakfast before I started the walk in Riverside Park.
It was an amazing and filling breakfast of three pancakes, two scrambled eggs and three slices of bacon with a medium papaya drink for $11.00. The food was excellent and the guys working they’re at 6:15am could not have been nicer. The seating was not so hot with two small tables outside the restaurant where the tables and street could have used a good cleaning. Still, it was a carb laden meal that prepared me for the long walk.
Don’t miss the wonderful and filling breakfasts at Chelsea Papaya
I started the walk in 2021 on West 23rd Street, so I got to visit this side of the park during the day with it sweeping views of Jersey City and the Hudson River. When I started walking in the park at 6:30am, it was a beautiful sunny day but as the morning grew and I got to around West 42nd Street, the clouds started to roll in and it got cooler.
That did not last long. In 2022, I was not so lucky as it was a misty rain when I started the walk at 7:30am in the morning but it was bearable. I started at Staten Island Ferry terminal and then off I went with the other walkers who were up for the challenge.
The first thing you will see when entering the park is the Monarch Waystation Garden that is one of many that have been planted around the rim of Manhattan. I have seen this also in east side parks as well.
The Monarch Waystation Garden is as you enter Riverside Park
As I entered Hudson River Park, I noticed many works of art displayed on the fences and walls of the surrounding buildings. The 2021 NY Salt Exhibition was being displayed and I took some time to look over the works while walking through the park. I made may way from West 23rd Street and proceeded north walking near the river.
The NY Salt Exhibition at Hudson River Park in 2021
When you walk up past the Piers along Riverside Park in the 40’s, the first thing you will see in the next Pier over is the Intrepid Sea-Air Space Museum which was closed for the COVID-19 pandemic. Pier 86 where the ship was docked was really quiet that morning with only two people eating their breakfast on one of the tables in the little park near the ship. There were sweeping views of New Jersey across the river of Weehawken and West New York.
The Intrepid Sea-Air Museum is just reopened after being closed for almost a year
Most of the West Side is pathways along the river with views of New Jersey until you hit about West 50th Street when you get to the lower part of the new Hudson River Park that has been built on fill to create a new riverfront.
In May of 2022, as I walked around the southern tip of the island, I could not believe how many works of art in the parks that I missed on the previous two walks. I guess I just wanted to finish the walk by that point. During the July 2022 walk, I started at the same point as 2020 and when I saw my first piece of artwork, it was like seeing an old friend.
When I reached the park by Pier 96, I came across Malcolm Cochran’s artwork “Private Passage” again. I came across this sculpture when visiting the park two years earlier. The piece is a giant bottle and when you look in the port hole you will see a state room of the former Queen Mary. It is an interesting piece of artwork that is not hard to miss and take time to look in the port holes.
The artist is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and is graduate of Wesleyan College who specializes in large sculptures.
Further up the park, I came across the old New York Transfer Station piece in Riverside Park. This is a relic of the old West Side Railroad tracks that were once part of the New York Central Railroad that the park and buildings behind it are built on. This transfer bridge once was used to attach railroad cars to the freight tracks that once ran up and down this part of the island (Forgotten New York).
The New York Central Transfer Station
It is interesting to see this now as a piece of art instead of a functioning part of the railroad but it is fascinating to see how we use the parts of the past as a piece of art in the present. This shows the current park visitor how we have made new uses of the riverfront for recreation and pleasure which was not true during the early parts of the last century.
As I was walking up through Riverside Park, I noticed a lot of artworks displayed in Riverside Park that were part of the ‘Summer 2021-Re: Growth’ art display that stretched from the West 40’s to 100’s at various points in the park. Some were interesting in design, and it was nice to see a lot were from local New York Artists.
These lined the length of Riverside Park and you had to really look for them. These were the works of art I viewed on the way up Riverside Park. I included the work and a short biography on each artist that I saw: