Category Archives: Exploring New Haven, Connecticut

Chapel Street in Downtown New Haven, CT

Day Ninety-Two: A Trip up to New Haven, CT for the Cornell vs Yale Game September 30, 2017 (Revisited on September 28, 2019)

I updated my trip to New Haven blog because of yesterday’s visit for the 2019 Cornell-Yale football game. There are a lot of improvements in the town today and a lot more life there then when I lived there.

New Haven Green

The New Haven Green in Downtown New Haven, CT.

mywalkinmanhattan

I took time from my walk to be a supportive Alumni and go up to New Haven, Connecticut for the Cornell versus Yale game on September 30, 2017. I also watched us get our butts kicked with the score 49-24. I swear, every time I thought we would catch up, we fell behind. We kept going through quarterbacks throughout the game.

It was even worse for the September 2019 game. We were tie with Yale, who does not look that good either, at 3-3 at half (I thought that was bad enough) but in the third quarter were lead 10-3 with an 85 yard run touchdown and looked really good. Then our quarterback through an interception that lead to a Yale touchdown and at 10-10 he was so rattled by that, the game was never the same. He threw three more interceptions and we botched an onside kick (Cornell is…

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Chapel Street in Downtown New Haven, CT

Day Ninety-Two: A Trip up to New Haven, CT for the Cornell vs Yale Game September 30th, 2017 (Revisited on September 28th, 2019)

I took time from my walk to be a supportive Alumni and go up to New Haven, Connecticut for the Cornell versus Yale game on September 30, 2017. I also watched us get our butts kicked with the score 49-24. I swear, every time I thought we would catch up, we fell behind. We kept going through quarterbacks throughout the game.

It was even worse for the September 2019 game. We were tie with Yale, who does not look that good either, at 3-3 at half (I thought that was bad enough) but in the third quarter were lead 10-3 with an 85 yard run touchdown and looked really good. Then our quarterback through an interception that lead to a Yale touchdown and at 10-10 he was so rattled by that, the game was never the same. He threw three more interceptions and we botched an onside kick (Cornell is not good at these, trust me!) and resulted in three more touchdowns for Yale.

We ended up losing 27-16 and it was not fun leaving that stadium. It was no big deal though because the students at Yale DO NOT support their football team and there was more people from Cornell at the stadium than Yalies and the Yale Bowl (their stadium), which is a relic of the 1920’s with uncomfortable wooden seats, was 80% empty.

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The Yale Bowl (which only fills up for the Harvard Game)

A lot has changed in New Haven since I lived there in the late Eighties. I lived in New Haven from 1988-1990 at a time the city was being revitalized during the boom of the early 80’s. I also saw what the Crash of 1987 would do to the city when the effects of the financial meltdown started to do to the economy. I lived on College Street at the time working at R.H. Macy on Church Street (where a college stands now).

Macy's New Haven

The old Macy’s New Haven before it closed in 1994

Our little area was really nice around the Shubert Theater with lots of shops and restaurants but even those were affected by the economy as well as the store was in the end and it closed after I got promoted in 1990. The store closed with almost thirty years in service in 1994. Even though I moved from the city twenty-seven years ago, I still consider it in my own way ‘home’. There is always a piece of me in all the places I have lived in the past. There still is a part of me in the city. Going up for the Cornell-Yale game has given me an excuse to visit New Haven in the last four years.

I was lucky to make the 9:02am train out of Grand Central and arrived in New Haven at 11:20am. Walking through the train station brought back a lot of memories for me as I used to head home every Sunday for dinner with my family the first year I lived there. I watched the station get renovated in 1989 and morph to what it is now with the vaulted ceilings and the specialty shops. It is the weirdest thing about the city. They have the most beautiful train station and then the city builds public housing right across the street from it.

For me, stepping out of the station brings back a flood of memories for me. As I walked from the station to downtown a few blocks away it reminded me of the first time I truly became independent as an adult with my first real job and my first apartment alone.

New Haven Train Station

New Haven Train Station

In 2019, driving up I-95 was the worst experience. I teach college now on Saturdays and we finished class a little earlier today so I got on the road in plenty of time for the game but a few trucks not doing the speed limit backed traffic up for almost a half hour. I took the Merritt Parkway back and it was a much more pleasant experience. It is a much nicer highway to drive down with less traffic. Plus it is tree lined.

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The beauty of the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut

I walked to Church, Chapel and College Streets now and it is so much different. New Haven has become a restaurant and shopping destination. So many independent restaurants have opened to much acclaim and many small creative shops have opened up along the Chapel Street corridor. I was able to pop in here and there before the game.

I was able to walk around the ‘Nine Block’ of downtown New Haven, which is where the city was founded around the famous ‘Green’. When I lived there, this was an area of cut rate stores and empty historical buildings. To have the hindsight thirty years later but being the home to Yale University, I figured eventually in time this area would gentrify strong.

It is now home to many top-rated restaurants, shops and the most beautiful lofts. The buildings have been sandblasted back to their original beauty and its just fun to walk around and look at the architecture from the 1800’s. The city and the buildings owners have done a wonderful job bringing this area back to life. It is worth the afternoon to just look around the lower downtown.

I walked all around the ‘Green’  and not too much has changed over the years as way of the park. It has been fixed up and reseeded but still picturesque. The office buildings still add to the backdrop of the park. What has changed is the quality of the stores and restaurants over the years that line Chapel Street next to the Yale campus. They have gotten a lot more fancy and expensive, much more than when I was there.

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New Haven Green

Chapel Street seems to have become the new ‘Columbus Avenue’ of New Haven (terminology is based on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan when it went upscale in the 1980’s and 1990’s). From Church Street downtown to the edge of the Yale campus on Dwight Avenue is lined with new restaurants, shops, art galleries and upscale boutique hotels. Even the area between campus and the stadium, which has seen better days has changed. The extension of the hospital has turned everything from Orchard Street to Yale Avenue by the Yale Bowl into “Upper Chapel Street”.

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Chapel Street by the Yale Campus

You can see this is an up and coming neighborhood, lined with Victorian homes that are now being snatched up and renovated. It must have been some neighborhood back between the 1880’s to the 1920’s. It is still pretty run down but here and there especially around the new hospital extension things are changing. Homes along Edgewood Park on and off Chapel Street are starting to get spruced up and landscaped. You can tell this is the time to buy in that neighborhood.

I passed old haunts of mine from back in the 80’s that are still in business. Willoughby’s Coffee and Tea was still there at 258 Church Street, where I went for late night snacks. I thought it was in another location but still here. The Owl Shop at 268 College Street was still there as well but is now a dining place as well as a smoke shop. Claire’s Corner Copia at 1000 Chapel Street still stood on the corner of College Street and Chapel Street, where I used to go for my morning sugar fix. Claire herself still mans the counter after all these years. Further up Chapel Street is Union League Café at 1032 Chapel Street, where I took many special employees from Macy’s for a meal when they did something special.

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Downtown Chapel Street by Claire’s

Where I stopped for lunch before the game was one of the most famous restaurants in New Haven and was right around the corner from me, Louis Lunch at 261 Crown Street (See review on TripAdvisor). It was a block from where I lived at the Taft Apartments and in the two years I lived there, I never ate there. The food was excellent.

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Louis Lunch at 261 Crown Street

Their hamburgers are legendary in the food world and Louis Lunch has been written up in countless reviews, blogs and articles on the best hamburgers in the country. I got their at opening at 12:00pm and there was already fifteen people in line. It does go quick though and my suggestion is to order the burger medium well and then it comes out perfect.

They are right about one thing, the burgers do not need ketchup. One slice of fresh tomato adds to the complexity of the flavor. It has a crisp, caramelized salty flavor to the outside and a juicy meaty center. This is not your typical burger and is worth the $8.00 and change I paid for it and the Pepsi. The restaurant is an institution in New Haven and should be tried at least once when visiting the city.

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Louis Lunch for Hamburgers!

I then continued up Chapel Street to the stadium. The upper parts of Chapel Street start to give way from the college campus to residential homes, more like Victorian mansions and you can see the wealth that once dominated the northern part of the Yale campus.

Yale Bowl Stadium is unusual for such a wealthy endowed school. It looks more like a prep-school, high school field. For a team with such an hollowed reputation and the team doing so well the last few years, I think the stadium, even after the renovation, is falling apart. It has the most uncomfortable wooden seating and I am still afraid of getting splinters from the place.

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The Yale Bowl

That did not stop the team from running all over Cornell. I have to admit for every play we had up our sleeves, they had two to counter act it. They really are a good team. Even though we tried to put up a good fight, we made too many mistakes and the second half of the game, we were done. We lost the game 49-24. We really need to work on our offensive. At least the Yalies were good sports about it.

The Game Highlights

In 2019, they ran over us again only because we kept THROWING THEM THE BALL! I know that the quarterback was rattled by the first interception but recover from it! It is just a play! The fourth quarter in 2019 was painful. At least the $4.00 hot dog and $2.00 bag of chips for lunch tasted good. Because of the ride up there was no time to eat anywhere else and make the game. Their concession stand (and parking $10.00 for a spot by the Field Hockey stadium) was pricey but no different from other stadiums.

The one thing about Yale that I have found with most of the Ivy league games I go to is that none of the students seem to want to go to the game. We always sit in empty stadiums. When I visit the Penn Stadium, Cornell dominates the stadium both with the band and the Alumni. Columbia the same way. Cornell seems to be getting a more loyal following (in hopes of a winning season). The Yale game was no different. I think there were more of us then there were of them and they were home. Most of the people in the stadium looked like the parents of the players than the students.

After the very disappointing result (both times), I walked back into the downtown, taking peeks at the side streets to look at the graceful homes. For all of you home flippers reading this, buy in this area NOW! It will be hot, hot, hot in the next two years as it is already starting. I really do believe that people are moving back into New Haven.

I turned around ‘the Green’ and looked at the downtown one more time. For the most part, it had not really changed in twenty years. By walking the city streets, I could tell it was a lot more vibrant than it was when I lived there and for the better. I am proud of the city I once called home for working so hard to improve it.

My last stop of the day was at Frank Pepe Pizzeria at 157 Wooster Street (See review in TripAdvisor both in 2017 and 2019) in the heart of the city’s ‘Little Italy’. I had not eaten here in twenty seven years. My first and last time dining there until today was my last night living there. My buddy manager at Macy’s, Rose, had taken me here for dinner with her fiance, Kenny. The Pepe’s vs Sally’s conversation is one that I have had with many a Yale Alumni.

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Frank Pepe Pizzeria

The restaurant has morphed into a small chain over the years of about eight restaurants but the original is still iconic. I had the 12 inch Clam Pizza with a Coke and it is the best $20.00 (with tip) that I had spent in a long time. The clams are so sweet and fresh tasting on that pizza that it was worth the wait in line for it. People were so happy to be eating there and wait staff is extremely friendly. It is worth the trip to Wooster Street.

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Frank Pepe’s Clam pizza is the best!

I had dessert at Libby’s next door at 139 Wooster Street (see review on TripAdvisor) and is worth bypassing. The $4.00 soggy cannoli was just not worth it and you can not even buy individual cookies. The place needs a renovation as well.

Wooster Street and the area that surrounds it has improved over the years like the rest of the city. Many of the homes and businesses have been fixed up and the factory when you cross the bridge to this area of the city has been turned into lofts. You know where this neighborhood is heading. You could see it in the cars in the parking lot.

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Wooster Street New Haven’s ‘Little Italy’

I left Wooster Street to head back to downtown and to the train station to my way back to New York City. The streets were quiet except for a few diners leaving restaurants and the walk back to railroad station didn’t seem as dangerous as everyone says. No one was walking around at 8:00pm at night.

In 2019, I took a drive up Chapel Street and parked by the Green. I walked all over downtown watching it come to life. A lot more people from the suburbs are coming into New Haven to dine and shop than ever before. With all the housing going up in the downtown area, more people will be milling around.

It was a real treat to take a step back in time and see part of my past. I really loved living in New Haven, CT over twenty years ago and it still holds a special place in my heart being the beginning of my professional career. Okay things were not always perfect but it was first real sense of adulthood in the ‘real world’.

Who knew a Yale/Cornell Game could bring this flood of memories back?

As for the next football game, GO BIG RED!

The disaster of the 2019 game/we just handed them of the game.

 

Places to Eat:

 

Louis Lunch

261 Crown Street

New Haven, CT 06511

http://www.louislunch.com

(203) 562-5507

Open: Sunday-Monday Closed/Tuesday-Wednesday 11:00am-3:45pm/Thursday-Saturday 12:00pm-2:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g33851-d651174-Reviews-Louis_Lunch-New_Haven_Connecticut.html?m=19905

 

Frank Pepe Pizzeria

157 Wooster Street

New Haven, CT  06511

http://www.pepepizzeria.com

(203) 865-5762

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g33851-d414475-Reviews-Frank_Pepe_Pizzeria_Napoletana-New_Haven_Connecticut.html?m=19905

 

Libby’s Italian Pastry Shop

139 Wooster Street

New Haven, CT  06511

(203) 772-0380

http://www.libbyscookies.com

Open: Sunday-Monday 12:00pm-9:00pm/Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Thursday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Friday-Saturday 12:00pm-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g33851-d837051-Reviews-Libby_s_Italian_Pastry_Shop-New_Haven_Connecticut.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

Yale Bowl Stadium

81 Central Avenue

New Haven, CT  06515

(203) 432-4747

 

Nine Block Square/Chapel Street Shopping District

Located in the heart of Downtown New Haven: Various Stores and Restaurants off Chapel Street

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g33851-d270017-Reviews-Chapel_Street-New_Haven_Connecticut.html?m=19905

 

The New Haven Green

Located in Downtown New Haven on Chapel Street

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g33851-d270018-Reviews-New_Haven_Green-New_Haven_Connecticut.html?m=19905

 

 

 

Author Justin Watral

Day Ninety One: New Blog Sites: VisitingaMuseum.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@WordPress.com by Blogger Justin Watrel.

To all of my readers and fellow bloggers following my blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. I created two more blog sites to accompany the main site.

I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ to take what I have discovered on the walk around the city and put it into more detail.

I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ to feature all the small and medium museums, pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that I have found along the way in my walking the streets of the island and in the outlining areas of Manhattan. There are loads of sites you can easily miss either by not visiting the neighborhoods by foot or not consulting a guidebook. Most of the these places are not visited by most residents of the City and should not be missed.

I never realized how many small museums exist in New York City, let alone the outer boroughs and in New Jersey. I have discovered so many wonderful and interesting artifacts in these museums that not only have so much historical value but they also deal with local history.

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Gallery Bergen at Bergen Community College

There are so many pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that you would miss if you did not walk the neighborhoods. What has also been fascinating about it is the people you meet along the way that volunteer in these facilities. There is so much pride to be had by these local residents dedicating their time to make these places successful.

‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ is my latest site:

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

I am featuring and promoting wonderful local restaurants that I have found along the way when doing the walk as well as places I have recently visited outside the city for $10.00 and below. I am not just featuring them for their price but for the quality of the food, the selection and the portion size.

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Delicious Dumplings at ‘Dumplings’ on Henry Street

These little ‘hole in the wall’ dining establishments offer a good meal at a fair price as well as supporting the local economy. I have a very limited budget for meals and thought this blog site would help all of you economize when touring New York City and the outlying regions. I cross reference my reviews on TripAdvisor.com.

For anyone thinking of doing a similar project like ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’, I want to let you know how expensive it is to do. I have to pay not just for bus tickets, subway passes, meals, donations to museums and historical sites but the general wear and tear on my clothes. I am on my third pair of sneakers due to this walk. This is why you need to set a budget for it:

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/

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Beekman Place

So I hope you enjoy ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com when coming to Manhattan. Please check all of this places out online for a change of hours and exhibits and menus.

Check out the newest site, “LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com” for small boutiques and specialty shops that are unique and quirky.

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Little Shop on Main Street:

https://littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/

Please check out my fire fighting blog sites, ‘The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association’, ‘tbcfma.Wordpress.com’, where I am blogging about the activities of the association that I am volunteering for at the home on a quarterly basis and the support that the organization gives to The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, New Jersey. Firemen for all over Bergen County, where I live, volunteer their time up at the nursing home with activities to engage and cheer up our fellow fire fighters.

New Jersey Firemen's Home Museum

The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ

https://tbcfha.wordpress.com/

The second site about fire fighting I blog about is ‘The Brothers of Engine One Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department”, ‘EngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartmentNJ.Wordpress.com’, where I blog about the activities of  Engine Company One, in which I am a member, as part of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. We do a lot of volunteer work for the department and many of our members are very active and hold a lot of positions on the department.

Brother's of Engine One with their bell

The Brothers of Engine One HHFD (site now closed-Blogs moved to section of MywalkinManhattan.com called “My life as a Fireman”):

https://engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/tag/engine-one-hhfd/

The most frequented of my blogs is “BergenCountyCaregiver.com’, a caregivers blog site to help adult caregivers take care of their loved ones. This helps caregivers navigate a very broken system and put all sorts of programs that might help them all in one place to read and chose what might help them. This deals with county, state and federal programs that most social workers miss because there are so many of them that don’t get a lot of attention. It is by far the most popular site.

BCFHA Barbecue 2019 V

The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association

I wanted to share these with my readers and thank you for following my main blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. Please also share this with your friends who are visiting New York City to really tour the city by foot and see it for its own beauty and uniqueness.

Happy Reading!

My Blogs:

MywalkinManhattan.com

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/

BergenCountyCaregiver.com

https://wwwbergencountycaregiver.com/

VisitingaMuseum.com

https://visitingamuseum.com/

DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/

TheBrothersofEngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartment@Wordpress.com

https://engineonehasbrouckheightsfiredepartmentnj.wordpress.com/

TBCFMA@Wordpress.com

https://tbcfha.wordpress.com/

Also visit my past blog on Patch.com: The Merchant Series

https://patch.com/users/justin-watrel

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-young-fashions

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/friends-merchant-series-young-fashions

I did this for the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library from 2009-2014.

Blogger Justin Watrel in front of street art

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

Happy Father’s Day!

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

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

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

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

Chinatown Parade

Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown

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

The Island of Manhattan

My soon to be path around the Island of Manhattan

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

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The Cable Building at 631 Broadway

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

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Columbus Circle on the West Side

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

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

Marble Hill VI

My first Day in Marble Hill, Manhattan

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

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

Astor Row Houses

Astor Row Houses in Harlem

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

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

Bowling Green Park

Bowling Green Park in Lower Manhattan

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

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

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Delacorte Clock in Central Park

In the Age of COVID, it has been interesting starting the project again. I had been on hold from March 13th, 2020 through June 10th, 2020 when the City was closed for anyone other than First Responder and people who had to work there. I was so happy when I could return and continue walking Manhattan. My walk down Broadway for the forth time was a surprise with all the businesses closed on the Upper West Side and I met the challenge of “The Great Saunter Walk” , the 32 mile walk around the perimeter of the island in 14 hours. There is now more to see and explore and write.

The COVID world though has me facing closed businesses that I have covered over the years. Restaurants and stores that I have mentioned in this blog since 2015 have since closed permanently or closed for the time being, I am not too sure. We also have a walking world of masks that keep us safe. The times in Manhattan are changing from the way we eat in restaurants to the way we shop and visit museums.

SoHo boarded up after the June Riots 2020

Fifth Avenue boarded up after the June Riots 2020

Things are constantly changing in Manhattan since the riots in June and COVID keeps raging in the City with people not wanting to wear masks. I hope that things will get back to normal soon. I still see people out and about doing their thing and enjoying the warm weather so I am optimistic about life. Still though, Manhattan keeps changing with the Theater District boarded up and Chinatown looking like a ghost town. We will see how New York City recovers from COVID like the rest of the country.

I have now expanded this site to three other blogs, ‘VisitingaMuseum’ (VisitingaMuseum.com), which features all the historical sites, community gardens and small museums and galleries I find in not just Manhattan but throughout the rest of the NYC and beyond in the suburbs. 

‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC’ (DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com), where I feature wonderful little restaurants, bodegas and bakeries that I find along the way. The one requirement is that the meal is around $10.00 and under (for us budget minded people).

“LittleShoponMainStreet” (LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) where I find unique and creative stores in Manhattan and locally whose merchandising, displays, merchandise and service stand out in an age of Amazon. This harks back to a time when shopping was enjoyable and not a chore.

I have also added two new sections to the blog, “My life as a Fireman”, which I have moved from an old site that I had created for my old engine company to describe my experiences on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department over the last 16 years. Also, this is what takes up my time when I am not exploring New York City.

Justin Watrel Fireman

Justin Watrel, Fireman

Another is “A Local Journey” are tours of downtown’s and communities outside the New York City area to travel to when you need to escape the City’s clutches. I have specific guidelines in finding stores, restaurants and museums/cultural sites in the area. This has lead me to really explore my own town of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ and exploring out of town destinations like Red Hook, NY and Beach Haven/Long Beach Island, NJ. You would be amazed on what these small towns offer.

Downtown Red Hook, NY

Downtown Red Hook, NY in the Summer months

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

Red Hook Trip IV

Me in Red Hook, Brooklyn discovering my new love in “Street Art”

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

Dad & I

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