The Merchant House Museum, the former home to four generations of the Treadwell family, was built in 1832 and is designed in the late Federal style of brick and marble. When the house was built, elegant Greek Revival style rowhouses of red brick and white marble flanked the tree lined streets of this fashionable residential enclave, known then as the Bond Street Area.
The house was the home of wealthy merchant, Seabury Tredwell, his family and their four servants. Over the next 98 years, the family…
I do not know where time went. One day I am cutting the lawn in 70-degree weather and the next day it is 32 degrees, and everyone is freezing. The weather has been going up and down like a yoyo and everyone is getting sick right before the holidays. Every other day the weather was changing, and this is the way the temperature would be every day for the month of December. One day it is Spring or Fall and the next everyone is bundling up.
Don’t be fooled by all the pictures and activities. There were a lot of late nights, a lot of driving and a lot of arranging to pull the holidays off this year. Teaching three classes and taking four classes in Grad school on top of volunteer work that I was committed to and getting ready for the holidays and all its expectations I had a lot of nights where I did not go to bed until two in the morning. I would study on busses and in hotel rooms and I never worked like this before in my life. Still it was a Merry Christmas and I consider myself a lucky person to see all these wonderful things.
All I did was run in and out of New York City every week for classes and work. There were so many historical sites that I wanted to visit over the holidays to update previously blogs that every moment of my day was taken up with touring. Still, I enjoyed taking my time to walk to school through Greenwich Village. The residents and merchants here know how to celebrate the holidays.
Christmas in Greenwich Village. I saw this home after class and I knew Santa was on his way
Walking past the train station on the way back to Port Authority was even festive.
With Grad School taking up so much of my time and I just finished all my presentations at Bergen Community College where I work (please see all three Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. projects), it’s now the final project for Grad School and getting ready for the holidays that are taking up my time. It is only two more weeks.
Thanksgiving with my cousins and aunt at the Lambertville Inn
Christmas started for me right after Thanksgiving with my family when the next day we had Christmas Tree delivery for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. We had 390 Christmas Trees delivery and we emptied the truck in one hour. By 10:30am, we sold our first Christmas tree and by the end of the first weekend, we sold 134 trees and 8 stands. We just missed last year’s numbers. It had rained most of Sunday so we missed that afternoon and evening of that day.
Christmas Tree drop off is right after Thanksgiving at 8:00am the next morning
The guys on the Men’s Association after we finished tagging and unloading the trees
Friday was a busy day selling. It often amazes me how many trees sell that first weekend. Last year we sold out in 11 days and people were disappointed that they had to wait. Many said that this year, they arrived early to get the tree they wanted. Even with the rain on Sunday, we did very well and were anticipating another get year (we sold out by December 9th on the morning shift).
My blog on Christmas tree drop off for the Men’s Association:
I knew it was Christmas when my neighbors set out all their decorations
The next evening after Thanksgiving was the Annual Parade and Tree Lighting ceremony in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights. Since we were opening the tree stand and I was on leave from the fire department this year, I did not go. Instead I stayed at the tree stand that evening and sold trees on my first split shift. We sold 44 trees on the first day of sales.
The Christmas Tree at the Circle in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
The Gazebo at the Firemen’s Circle Memorial in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
I have to admit, Thanksgiving weekend and the subsequent week were all about grad school. We would be wrapping up classes in two weeks (classes ended on December 14th) and I had three major papers due, one for each class. With the exception of my Data Analytics class, I had one partner on each paper I really did not know if I could count on so there would be a lot of extra work to do.
Heights Bar & Grill at 163 Boulevard became a place to relax and unwind with a pizza and a drink
Heights Bar & Grill was very festive during the holidays
My post birthday dinner became my pre Christmas/post class dinner
The next weekend was Sinterklaas weekend, and I knew I had to be in Rhinebeck and then Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party that I committed to last month. When you’re on all the Executive Boards of these organizations, you have to be there.
Still on the way back and forth to classes starting from mid-November until classes ended, I enjoyed my walks from the Port Authority to the NYU campus in the Village to admire all the decorations, display windows and Christmas tree setups all over the Village. Even before Christmas started, this section of the City is very traditional ‘Old New York’ and when it is all ready for the holidays it puts you in the Christmas spirit.
Christmas in Greenwich Village really kept my spirits up between classes
Selling Christmas trees in New York City was not difference from us but in prices.
The window displays in the Greenwich Village stores and boutiques were really creative. I loved walking all the side streets to discover what shop owner did that was so different from the others and these are some of my favorites. They really cheered me up as the pressure of the assignments built up.
Window display in the Village after they changed from Halloween to Christmas
Window display in the Village
Window display in the Village
Christmas display inside and outside at Greenwich Village store
More Christmas trees for sale on lower Seventh Avenue
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree was so beautiful both during the day and night. It was so nice to pass every evening I was coming back from class. It really put me in the holiday spirit especially when I was stressed out on my last three research papers of the semester. I took the time to just walk around the park and enjoy the cool air.
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree by day
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree at night
In between classes and work, I had to decorate and get my own house ready for the holidays. I have never worked so hard trying to pull off the holidays with so much going on in my life. Still I thought the house looked very nice. I decorated both the living room and dining room and it looked really festive. It was too bad there was no time for entertaining. That and the fact that everyone else was so busy, it made it impossible to do anything.
I keep it simple but elegant in my house
For years, I used to have a Christmas dinner but with everyone’s schedules and COVID still around, I am finding more and more people don’t want to get together. Again my schedule was no better this December. Still I worked my own “Santa” magic with other things I did for friends, neighbors and family.
From December 1st to the 31st, my feet never touched the ground. From unloading trees for the Men’s Association to watching the ball drop to completing three major projects for my job at Bergen Community College to the three major papers at school, my laptop followed me everywhere and was prominent in each of my hotel rooms as a worked on every business trip for my work with this blog. Who says that life is boring? The fun began as it does every year with Sinterklaas weekend in Rhinebeck.
My blog on Sinterklaas/ The Snowflake Festival weekend in Rhinebeck Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Six:
I had to plan Sinterklaas weekend like D-Day. I had a major presentation on the Metaverse when I returned back on the next Monday night so I had to finish the framework for the paper the Friday night before the parade. I was visiting the Culinary Institute of American to interview one of my old chefs at the college but I was not able to get in touch with him.
Still I was able to leave a message for an appointment and then tour the campus. I forgot how beautiful the campus is and I never saw it during Christmas time. I had been on my Externship my first year at the CIA so I never experienced the holidays at the CIA.
Roth Hall decorated for Christmas
The Christmas tree in the outside courtyard
I did not have any plans that Friday evening and I looked at the papers and saw that there was a Snowflake Festival in Downtown Kingston, NY. So that evening after a nice nap at the hotel, I headed there for the evening. It was just what the doctor ordered. It was a cool but not cold evening full of activities and lots of Christmas decorations and a festive environment.
Downtown Kingston, NY the night of the Snowflake Festival
It was a nice evening of Christmas activities, horse drawn carriage rides, visiting the firehouse, beautifully decorated windows of the local merchants and people just having a good time amidst COVID problems and a bad economy. People ‘needed a little Christmas now’ (Please read the blog below on the Snowflake Festival and the Sinterklaas Parade).
The line to see Santa was impossibly long. I think everyone needed him this year.
The Christmas tree in Downtown Kingston, NY
My homebase for the weekend was the Quality Inn Hotel in Hyde Park, which is becoming a tradition with me. I love the location and the comfortable beds. If you get a room facing the field to the right, you can see the stonewall that lines the property. Plus, they have the best fresh waffle station every morning.
The Quality Inn Hyde Park at 4142 Albany Post Road
Sinterklaas morning was a really gloomy day. Even if the weather outside that morning was gloomy, the spirit of Sinterklaas was in full swing inside the Beekman Arms Hotel for the Opening Ceremony.
The Opening Ceremony at Sinterklaas with Founder Jeanne Fleming and the Pocket Lady
The animal being celebrated this year was the porcupine and this was his home in the courtyard in Downtown Rhinebeck. This wise woman told us his tale.
The “Into the Light” show at the local church
The parade is the highlight of the evening and we lucked out that night as the weather broke by the afternoon. The sun started to come out and it was a much nicer evening with a cool but not cold feel and you could see the stars out on this clear evening. The parade is always exciting especially as we walk down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck.
The parade begins at the Starr Library
The serpents are always a big hit at the parade
The stars always lead the parade down the hill
I marched at the end of the parade so all I saw was everyone’s backs. The crowds were not the same because of the weather that morning but they were still pretty large once we got into the core of downtown. Because of the weather earlier in the day, I could tell we had a more local crowd which was nice because Downtown Rhinebeck can only handle so many people.
All the characters come together at the closing ceremony
I swear that this parade like selling Christmas trees goes by faster and faster every year. I come to Rhinebeck in the Spring and the Summer and it just seems like I am counting the weeks until it starts all over again. After the parade was over, I stopped at Village Pizza for a few slices with the last of the parade stragglers. There were maybe three families eating a late dinner. By the time I warmed up and finished my pizza I walked around the downtown one more time. It was so quiet and peaceful with the exception of the saxaphone player who plays downtown at night. You would have never known there was a parade that night.
My review on TripAdvisor on Village Pizza in Rhinebeck, NY:
After a very sound sleep, I ate breakfast and enjoyed the waffle bar. Then I headed down to Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party that we were hosting at the home. Again, the year seems to go by fast.
The Executive Board the day of the party (I’m third to the right)
Because of COVID, the party is more subdued and families are still not allowed back with any great crowds. Still we had a DJ and Jerry Naylis’s daughter and granddaughters entertained the residents of the home. We really had a nice afternoon.
The Naylis family entertaining the residents
After the party was over, a few of us went the Columbia Inn for dinner. There was only a small group of us this year because again many of the guys were worried about COVID and large crowds. Still we toasted in the holiday season and after dinner, it was right back home to do my homework for school and classwork for my students. It would be never ending for the next three weeks.
The week between Sinterklaas and the next weekend of the Mills Mansion Party and exploring the decorated mansions to update my blogs for work, classes in both schools took a frenzy of activity on. I had to finish papers on the Metaverse and complete my White Paper on the Travel Industry and we started our paper on Mapping the Rockaways. I don’t think I ever went to bed before 2:00am every night for the next three weeks.
The “Dining on the Metaverse” paper required me to run around and interview chefs on the what their thoughts were on the Metaverse. I first went to the Ivy Inn in Hasbrouck Heights and talked with the Chef/Owner Jack. His thoughts on the Metaverse in dining were pretty strong and I needed a second interview so back to the Culinary Institute of America I went to talk to my former Chef at the college. He just happened to reach out to me that week so I stopped in to see him late on Friday.
The Ivy Inn at 268 Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ decorated for the holidays
I had an offer to revisit the Brinckerhoff Homestead the next afternoon before they ran a Afternoon Tea fundraiser to take pictures of the home decorated for Christmas for work and was able to get a last minute invitation acceptance for the Mills Mansion fundraiser, I decided to spend the night again at the Marriott in Fishkill, NY. It would be another long weekend of running around. So I booked a room at the Marriott Courtyard Fishkill, where I had stayed twice before and it would be close to all the sites and headed Upstate.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill at 17 Westage Drive & Route 9
I got up to the CIA before 4:30pm and walked around campus and enjoyed the Christmas lights again. The campus was starting to wind down for the holidays as the students would be leaving for break in a week and a half but the restaurants were busy with weekend reservations and by 4:30pm, I stated my interview on “Dining on the Metaverse” with the last chef I had before I graduated in 1998. I had not seen the guy in almost 25 years. Still he was just as nice as he was when I had him as an instructor and we had a good interview for almost two hours.
The campus was at twilight and it showed its true beauty next to the Hudson River.
The Culinary Institute of America at sunset
The Christmas tree lit at the Culinary Institute of America
We had our interview and it was nice talking with a Instructor that I had a lot of respect for years ago. It was nice of him to meet me after almost 25 years.
My TripAdvisor review on my lunch at the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe:
We bullshitted for the first hour and knowing that I had to be at the Mills Mansion by 6:30pm (the party was only going to 8:30pm), we had to get down to business. We spent the next hour talking about the effects of dining on the Metaverse and what it could do to the business in the future. His thoughts were pretty much the same as the Ivy Inn but it was an engaging conversation and I was able to take notes and write that section of the paper before I left for the weekend. Then it was off to the Mills Mansion for the Masquerade Cocktail Party fundraiser. That got my mind off a lot.
I had not been to a fundraiser here for the holidays since 2018 (COVID and work stopped me from going in the past) and it was a last minute thing I was able to attend. The President of the Friends of the Mills Mansion graciously let me come since it was sold out. I did not get there until almost 7:15pm by the time I left the CIA and got to Staatsburg and then had to park all the way down the hill.
The entrance to Staatsburgh, The Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive the night of the party
I was not too keen on wearing a mask since I had to wear glasses but I still had a nice time. The band was excellent and the singer wore an outfit that looked like it was from the early 1920’s. The food was wonderful and they had nice passed appetizers and wine and champagne to drink. The mansion’s Dining Room was decked out with masks and everyone was dressed to the nines. I had not seen people so dressed up in years. It was so impressive to see how elegant the evening was like something out of the mid-1980’s. No one had dressed up this much in years and it made the whole event feel so festive and special.
The band with the singer with the 1920’s outfit
I was able to catch up to people I had not seen in two years (since the last Afternoon Tea lecture in February of 2020 right before the shutdown) and we had a nice time talking about what had been happening over the last two years. It was a nice evening to get my mind off school and work. I slept so soundly that night when I got back to the hotel.
It was a very elegant party that night
The Mill’s would have been proud of this party
The day after the interview and the party, off I went early in the morning to visit the decorated mansions and take the tours. The Brinckerhoff House was my first stop and I would not be there long because they had a fundraiser at 1:00pm and I promised to be there, take the pictures and leave because they would be busy for the rest of the afternoon. The house looked just as pleasant as it did when I visited it over the summer but the nice part was the fireplaces were going giving that house that winter smell of firewood and pine.
The Brinckerhoff House at 68 North Kensington Drive at Christmas
The house was set up and decorated for an Afternoon Tea fundraiser
The Christmas tree at the Brinckerhoff house
I only stayed for about an half hour as volunteers were showing up to assist with the event and then I was off to my next house which was the Vanderbilt Mansion. This was a big weekend for the decorated homes and I figured I should visit them since I would not have time in the future.
The Vanderbilt tour was booked solid as people had the same idea that I had. I got on the 1:00pm tour and off we went to tour the mansion. I had been there many times before but never to see the Christmas decorations. When I had visited back in 2019, they were taking the decorations down when I got there. By the time we left, most everything on one side of the house was gone. Today though, the mansion was in its full glory.
The Vanderbilt Mansion at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park
The house was tastefully but not over-decorated as Fredrick Vanderbilt and his wife never used the home for Christmas. They were in Manhattan for the Christmas and the beginning of the social season that would last from Christmas to about Easter when everyone would head to their Spring homes in the country or in Florida.
The entrance hall to the Vanderbilt Mansion
The Dining Room set for a formal Christmas dinner
The Living Room with the family Christmas tree
The full tour of the mansion was very interesting and you got to hear the stories of Fredrick and the last years of his life. He simplified matters, sold all his other homes and moved here until he passed away. He wife had died and he stopped the social swirl and concentrated on his job with the railroad.
After the tour was over, the tour guide told me that FDR Estate was having a big Open House that day and that I should head over before they closed at 5:00pm. Myself and pretty much everyone on my tour headed over to Springwood, the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Springwood Mansion at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park, NY
The first floor was decorated as it would have been for FDR and his family’s last Christmas when he was alive. The decorations were taken from old pictures of the house the year that he passed.
The entrance hall of Springwood decorated for Christmas
The library decorated for FDR’s last Christmas
The Dining Room was set for Christmas supper
The mansion again like the Vanderbilt Mansion was tastefully decorated but not overdone. The library had a tree with decorations and the many presents that the large extended family would have opened that day. The Dining Room was set for the family dinner with a children’s table in the back. It would have been a nice family affair.
We got to tour the rest of the house and head back to the Visitors Center for Hot Chocolate and cookies that they set up in the snack shop. That evening around 6:00pm, the Bard College music department was putting on a recital but I had to leave right after the tour as I had a tone of assignments and homework that I had to do for both colleges. At least I was finally able to see both mansions in their full glory at Christmas.
As I left the Vanderbilt and Roosevelt mansions, I passed Downtown Hyde Park, NY which has a small downtown with about two blocks of historical buildings and admired the lights and how the businesses decorated the lights and buildings. I stopped to take a picture of their Christmas tree which was ablaze with lights on this snowy night. It really did look like Christmas.
Downtown Hyde Park, NY
The Hyde Park, NY Christmas tree a block from downtown
I got home early that night to finish my papers on the Metaverse and my White Page on the visitors we had to our Travel Trends class. It was an uphill battle that night and on Monday for both presentations. We got a “B+” on the Metaverse paper and an “A” on the White Page and in both classes I got an “A”. The Mapping project would go on until December 22nd. It would take five revisions and a lot of late nights. We were able to pull out a “B+” on the Mapping paper of the Rockaways right as my own classes were ending.
That last week of school Monday classes ended and after the Tuesday class my classmates wanted to go for an evening of Karaoke. I had papers to grade when I got home so I declined and took a walk up to see the tree and clear my head before heading home.
Christmas in New York City is always a pleasure and with the City opened back up to tourism, it made it exciting again. The anticipation of Christmas in Manhattan is something to experience if you have never done it before. It all started for me when I declined a karaoke night with my classmates and went to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. I just needed a walk after my Data Analytics class. It had been a rough semester. Just seeing the tree put me in the Christmas spirit.
The Tree as we call it in Rockefeller Center December 2022
I walked around Midtown along Fifth Avenue, looking at Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows, admiring the lights and looking at the skyline. I forgot how beautiful this area of the City is at night. It was a mild Tuesday night when I was walking around and there were not too many people around. the tourists had not arrived in full swing yet. Being a Tuesday night, it was relaxing being able to walk around the Rockefeller Center area without the crowds.
The side streets were particularly elegant
West 58th Street in its glory
The Plaza Hotel in all its glory that night
I saw this playful sculpture along with others on Fifth Avenue but it was near my old haunt FAO Schwarz
This was the best display window at Bergdorf-Goodman on Fifth Avenue
Still what stood out to me on that glorious evening was the beauty of Midtown Manhattan at night. Even though it was still early in the evening, it might have well been 11:00pm because the streets were so quiet that evening. This is why I love Manhattan.
The beauty of Midtown Manhattan at night
The Plaza Hotel and Bergdorf-Goodman shined that evening
This little trip to Midtown after class really cheered me up. It had been a long semester and I needed this little Christmas break from school. It really put me into the holiday spirit. On my way back to Port Authority to head home, I passed the New York Public Library on my way through Bryant Park to see the Christmas Village
Outside the New York Public Library where the lions were decorated for the holidays.
As the school year ended at Bergen Community College and classes were wrapping up, I was getting tired of giving the traditional quizzes so for Quiz Four I gave all three classes from Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. The students were asked by Corporate to arrange the company Christmas Party. They were asked to create the Invitation, the menu with an appetizer, main dish, dessert and a signature drink.
Then were asked to create a Christmas Corporate message and two classes were asked to create an original Christmas song. It is amazing what a group of students can accomplish in an hour. Everyone in all three classes got an “A” and I did not have to drag home quizzes to grade. I will remember this quiz in the future.
The Paramus Business 101 Team’s idea for the Corporate Christmas Event
The Marketing 201 Team’s Ideas for the Corporate Christmas Event
The original Christmas song from the Marketing 201 Team for the Corporate Christmas Party
The ideas that the students came up with in ONE HOUR were just fantastic. This is why I love being a College Professor when you can get this type of creativity out of your students.
This Christmas message won the competition from my Business 101 Lyndhurst Team
As we put the revisions to the Mapping paper for my Data Analytics class and I prepared the final exams for my students and graded my other classes work, I planned another trip to the Hudson River Valley to visit the rest of the decorated mansions on my list and update all my blogs for work. This was a long and very productive weekend. It would be capped off with a last minute Historical Christmas concert at the Bergen County Historical Society. I had not been to one of these in three years.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill is where the adventure began. I revisited Staatsburgh (The Mills Mansion) and Wilderstein and then on Saturday I went to the Meiser Homestead in Wappinger Falls for their Holiday Open House. I had to time everything perfectly because I had to be in Manhattan for a Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall at 8:00pm. I timed everything perfectly.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill was decorated nicely for Christmas
The Marriott did a nice job decorating the hotel for the holidays
I started my trip on a snowy Friday afternoon (it was funny that the weather was just cloudy down by us) and I made it for my 11:00am appointment to see Staatsburgh. I had been to the Mills Mansion fundraiser the week before but the whole house was not open that evening and I had only been there for an hour. Now I was able to tour the house at my leisure. I was even interviewed for the local papers by a woman who was doing an article on the decorated mansions of the area.
I returned to Staatsburgh on snowy cold afternoon so the mansion was pretty quiet for touring. There were only two people on the walking tour of the mansion that afternoon. The roads up to Hyde Park were not the best.
Staatsburgh-The Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive on that snowy afternoon
It was nice to tour the house in peace and quiet. The party the week before had been a lot of fun but you could not see the rest of the house. All the rooms were so beautifully decorated, and the Dining Room was decorated to the hilt with masks, the theme of the party the week before. Since there was only two of us touring around, I got interviewed by the local paper by a reporter doing the same thing I was doing, visiting these beautiful homes. Visit my blog, VisitingaMuseum.com to see all my stories on my visits to these beautiful mansions.
The article on The Mills Mansion:
Then it was off to Wilderstein
Wilderstein at 330 Morton Road in Rhinebeck, NY on that snowy afternoon
My last stop that evening was to Woodstock, NY. I had planned to come this year for the parade but with my brother coming in for Christmas that changed my plans. I figured this was the last time I was going to be able to come up before the holidays. So I braved the slush and snow and drove the long roads up to Woodstock. It never disappoints me.
The Village Square at Woodstock, NY during the holidays
The Woodstock, NY Christmas tree is always interesting
After dinner, I slept so soundly at the hotel again. The Marriott Courtyard in Fishkill, NY is in the perfect location with Route 84 and the mountains right behind it. Easy to get to the highway home but still the best views when you wake up.
The amazing view from my hotel room at the back of the hotel facing the mountains
I had to rush to go on the 10:30am tour of Locust Grove, the former home of Samuel Morse, that I wanted to photograph before I left for the Meiser Homestead. There was not time to eat this morning. Thank God I had some baked goods in the hotel room.
The Christmas tree in the formal Living Room in the Tower section of the home
The Dining Room at Locust Grove at Christmas
The Billiards Room at Locust Grove at Christmas
I toured the whole house in our private tour at 10:30am. There were so many people on the tour, they called a special docent in to run the tour and we had the house to ourselves. Ehtel lead the tour and we took time to enjoy each room. Then it was off the Meiser Homestead for their Open House.
The Mesier Homestead at 2 Spring Street in Wappingers Falls, NY
The Foyer at the Meiser Homestead decked out for the holidays
The Living Room with the Christmas tree
The Dining Room set for Christmas lunch
Downtown Wappingers Falls during Christmas
The Wappingers Falls Christmas tree in the downtown
After I returned home from the Meiser Homestead Open House, it was change clothes again and into the City I went. I did not have much time to do anything in the evenings when classes were going on at NYU so after the semester was over and my third class was finished for the semester at Bergen Community College, I got a last minute ticket to see NY Pops at Carnegie Hall with singer Ingrid Michaelson. What a concert!
I had not been to Carnegie Hall since 2019 in pre-COVID and this always is a tough concert to buy tickets for but I snagged a Saturday night ticket in Row H on the aisle (I have long legs) and it was fate.
The entrance to Carnegie Hall at 57th and Seventh Avenue on the night of the concert. Our concert is to the left.
The inside of Carnegie Hall decorated for the holidays. The crowds were getting settled into the theater.
The stage at Carnegie Hall decorated for Christmas
The excitement built when I entered the hall and it was all decked out for Christmas. It was a site to see. The surprising part was how casual everyone was dressed for the evening. I was really thrown by this especially at the holidays. My seatmate was also dressed to the nines and she made the same comment. She introduced herself and I thought it was funny that a recently married woman would come to the show by herself but there we were acting like two single people.
The beauty of the stage that night just as the NY Pops members started to come on to the stage
Ingrid Michaelson and her fellow singers on stage
The whole concert was amazing and Ingrid Michaelson was fantastic that evening. What I thought was funny was the end of these concerts end with a sing along with Santa on stage and that did not happen this time. She ended the show with one of her signature songs. Maybe her Friday night concert had that. Even though, the concert was excellent and I shared the two songs below that were my favorite from the show.
This was my favorite song from the concert “Christmas Valentine” a new classic. This was written by both Ingrid Michaelson and Jason Mraz who performed it that night on stage.
The other great song from the concert was “Christmas Time is Here”:
“Christmas Time is Here” by Ingrid Michaelson
Even though it was a almost a two hour concert, it just seemed to end very quickly. After the concert was over, I just exploring the area around Lincoln Center. What a beautiful evening it was right before Christmas. People were talking in the local parks, admiring the Christmas lights in trees all over the neighborhood. Christmas tree stands were running in full force as people were decorating their homes on top of the their busy schedules.
Christmas tree sales by Carnegie Hall
For both lunch and dinner I returned to Amore Pizza cafe at 370 West 59th Street, which is down the road from Carnegie Hall. I swear that their food is the best.
I stopped in for a slice of Meat Lovers Pizza which was more than enough before the show and after the show I was still hungry. I went back and had a Chicken Parmesan Hero, which was good but it had been made from chopped fried chicken breasts instead of a freshly fried breast. It was good but not as good as the pizza was that night. After dinner, I just walked around Midtown and down Fifth Avenue admiring the windows.
The Meat Lovers Pizza at Amore Pizza Cafe is excellent
The weekend was not finished yet as I had an early morning walking tour of the Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow and then I had a Christmas concert at the Bergen County Historical Society in River Edge. Since I had to extend my leave with the fire department, I missed the first “Santa Around Town” in eighteen years. This on top of the fact that I was supposed to run it. With my work and college schedule, I had to ‘cry uncle’ and give it up which really disappointed me. I had some really good plans for it. In the end only thirteen guys showed up out of fifty and they had a fire call before the event ended. Thank God it was just a block chimney.
I left for the last day walking tour of the Philipsburg Manor before the house closed for the season. I was on the last walking tour of the house. Since the house was not insulated and the weather gets bad for the winter, the house will not open again until April. So I was hoping to get some picture taking in and see the decorations. The house was not decorated for the holidays but still the tour was interesting.
The Philipsburg Manor house 381 North Broadway in Sleepy Hollow, NY
The tour was about an hour and we had indoor and outdoor activities that we got involved with cooking hardtack, touring the house and grounds and helping in the barn beating out the wheat seed. When the actors who worked at the site (who must have been freezing their butts off because it was cold that morning) told us and demonstrated the work that had been done on the estate, this was hard work! This was a working farm and business transport spot, not where a family lived and entertained. When Mr. Philips was on property, he was here for business and nothing else. The staff ran this farm.
Us making Hardtack at the outdoor oven
Our visit to the barn where were loosening the wheat seeds. This poor woman was out there all morning in the cold!
The tour was about an hour and I thought that the house would have had some Dutch Christmas decorations but again the tour guides and historians said that the house for business and visiting not for the day in day out lives of the family. Still it was interesting. After our tour finished, I toured the gift shop and then headed home to get ready for the concert.
The Bergen County Historical Society at New Bridge Landing brought back their indoor concerts for Christmas including opening the Blackhorse Pub (The Campbell-Christie House) for dinner before and after the concerts. It was so nice to come to this again. The crowds were a little light at the second concert at 7:45pm on a Sunday night but it made it more fun that we could still socially distance from each other and there was plenty of space to spread out.
I started the evening early at the pub eating my dinner before the concert. The pub had a limited but very nice menu based on what foods that may have been served at the time period (with a modern twist of course). There was Shepard’s Pie, a Ploughman’s Plate, Onion Pie, Trifle and Dutch Cookies and desserts on the menu..
The Campbell-Christie House at 1209 Main Street in River Edge, NJ at the Bergen County Historical Society
The Campbell-Christie House was used as the “Blackhorse Tavern” for the evening where pub food could be ordered for dinner. It was really beautiful that night with all the tables a glow from the candles and the room decorated with holly, garland and wreaths for the holidays.
The Blackhorse Tavern for dinner
After dinner was over, I had plenty of time to explore the gift shop and wonder around the property to see the other decorations. The other buildings on the property were closed that evening but still decorated so I followed the lantern filled pathway and looked at the decorations.
Before the second concert that evening that I would be attending at 7:45pm I wondered around the museum part of the Steuben House where the concerts were taking place. The exhibits were set up with a holiday/Christmas theme in mind. One display was on a candy maker who once had a store in Downtown Hackensack.
Bogert’s Candy Shop in Downtown Hackensack closed in 1934
Decorating the house both during the Revolutionary War and during the Victorian Age was a very extensive affair of preparing the house for entertainment. Garland, holly and pine would have been important to decorate with but it was the Christmas ornaments of the Victorian age and trimming trees with ornaments that would have made the tree very festive.
There were also displays on entertaining during that time period and soldiers lives while the war was going on and what would be needed. It could be lonely at the holidays.
We started to settle in as the second concert was about to start. The room was decorated for the holidays with a combination of Victorian and Revolutionary decorations.
The ballroom at the Steuben House
We were then treated to a concert by the great Linda Russell whose interpretations of Revolutionary Christmas songs is well known. We had a hour long concert of favorite songs, talks about the times and a history of the music itself. She shared with us her insights towards the holidays of New Jersey versus New England and their Puritan ways. Thank God we knew how to party then too.
Linda Russell (to the far left) and her group entertained us for the evening with songs, talks, a few jokes and a wonderful night of excellent music.
We were entertained for about an hour and got time during the intermission to talk with the musicians who shared their experiences with us and about the musical equipment that they were using that evening. It was an interesting talk and a wonderful concert. I highly recommend visiting the Bergen County Historical Society during this time of the year. They do a nice job with this concert and the site is so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holiday season.
Before my the last day of classes at Bergen Community College on December 22nd, I made one last trip into the City before I left for my mother’s. The house had to get cleaned and the laundry had to get done and I got all my errands done before I left. I just wanted to walk around and get my mind off both colleges. It had been a long semester and I was burnt out. The City could not have been more beautiful.
Christmas on Park Avenue
Park Avenue was lined with Christmas trees lighting up before it got dark
Homes on the Upper East Side were beautifully decorated for the holidays
Homes on the Upper East Side were decorated so nicely and some blocks there seemed to be a competition for whose house was nicer.
I went to Rockefeller Center one more time to see the tree and it was like a madhouse so I just looked at it from across the street and continued walking around the Upper East Side down to the Cornell Club where I relaxed for a bit before I went home. People would start taking their decorations down after the holidays and I wanted to take one more glimpse of the neighborhoods before that happened.
The Empire State Building from the Flatiron District
Christmas Eve morning, I visit the cemeteries and pay my respects to my family before I leave for my mother’s. I think it’s important to pay your respects. After fighting the crowds at Mills Bakery on Christmas Eve morning to get a Seven Layer Cake and breakfast cakes and doughnuts for the next day, I left for Rehoboth Beach. I swear the roads were really quiet and it was the first time that I got down to my mom’s in three and a half hours.
Mills Bakery at 275 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ had the most festive cakes, pies and cookies for the holidays
I had just seen my mother in September after the Firemen’s Convention but this was the first time since 2019 that we had spent Christmas together. COVID has really wreaked havoc on the holidays.
Christmas Eve and Day were spent at my mom’s which we have not done since the pandemic. It kept us away and it was strange not having a family get together for three years. It was nice to get together as a family again. On Christmas Eve, we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and the place was a madhouse.
My review on TripAdvisor of Confucius Chinese Restaurant:
Even with all the crowds, it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the meal and not have to do anything. I slept so soundly that night knowing that I did not have to be anywhere for a month.
My mother really decorated the house beautifully.
The House at Christmas.
Jane set the table so elegantly.
Cooking this year like in 2019 is now a family affair. My Mom relinquish some control of the kitchen over the last couple of years as dinner was getting to be too much for her to do alone so we all help now. My brother and I coordinate the schedules and plan the menu with my mom and we each did part of the meal and cooked it. This is what the Team work produced:
The Appetizers and Desserts being prepped for dinner:
Mom should be hired by Nancy Meyers to do visuals for her films.
The Potato Croquettes that I prepared for dinner, the Broccoli Casserole and the homemade Apple Pie my mother prepared for dinner (my mom makes the best pies).
We were all getting ready to cook our portion of Christmas Dinner.
My mother preparing the Sauteed String Beans
Me preparing the Potato Croquettes (which by the way were a big hit I think I look like a French Chef).
My brother getting the Roast carved before the start of dinner.
My Mother with the final Christmas dinner that was the Team effort
Christmas Dinner 2022 and everyone loved it! The dinner was Roast Fresh Park, Potato Croquettes, Apple Sauce, Broccoli Souffle and Sauteed String Beans.
The Desserts were Homemade Apple Pie and a Seven Layer Cake that I brought from Mills Bakery. My brother also made all the Christmas cookies.
My family on Christmas Day after dinner (minus my younger brother and his kids).
We had such a nice time with my mother and her friends at dinner and it was a nice quiet and mellow Christmas. It was what I needed after a long school year.
The day after Christmas while my brother headed to New York City, I took the ferry from Lewes to Cape May to spend the night and admire all the decorations all over town. I only spent one night in Cape May but with how relaxing, beautiful and quiet it was that evening I felt like I had been there for a week. I always say in my blogs that the only town to rival Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas is Cape May, NJ.
I took the ferry the next day from Lewes, DE to Cape May, NJ and thank God the weather was nice. We had really light waves and the trip went by really quick. We got into Cape May in a little over an hour and a half. Since I did not have to check into my hotel and it was getting late, I decided to head over to Sunset Beach and watch the sun set. That really relaxed me. In any weather, I swear the beach is always full of people doing the same thing. It was relatively warm that day and when I got to the park, people were playing miniature golf at the little range they have there. I thought that was amusing.
The sunset was fantastic! The weather had really cleared that evening and the colors were so entrancing.
The sun preparing to set that night
The hues at Sunset Beach make this place very special
I just stayed until it got a bit dark and then I headed to the hotel. I stay at the Chalfonte in the winter time in their Souther Quarters (the regular hotel is not insulted and closed until May) and I always enjoy the rooms with their cheery shabbiness and the way the place is always decorated for the holidays. You have to like these old hotels.
The Southern Quarters at the Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street
I have been coming to the hotel for Christmas for the last several years and last year when COVID again shut things down for Christmas, I stayed here while visiting my younger brother in Rehoboth Beach when he came for a visit. I love Cape May at Christmastime.
The hotel has that festive home away from home feeling with poinsettias around the hotel, Christmas candies and chocolates at the front door and Christmas lights around the building.
I like the shabby chic of the place
My room was really nice and the bed was so comfortable
The room has just been renovated but still had a water spot on the ceiling. That is the charm of the Chalfonte. It reminds you that it is an old hotel. I ventured out to the downtown and the Washington Mall that evening to see the true magic of what makes Cape May a Christmas town. All the lights, trees and decorations make sure that Santa does not miss this town.
The town square with it’s Christmas tree in the bandstand and white lights all over the little part are whimsical and magically as you walk through them. It always reminds me of “Whoville” in the “Grinch that stole Christmas”.
Cape May Town Square at Christmas
The bandstand and Christmas tree are amazing at night
The Cape May Christmas tree
I spent a good part of the my evening admiring the lights of downtown and of Washington Mall which is the downtown section of Cape May. The whole neighborhood was ablaze with lights, decorations and beautiful Christmas displays in the windows. Cape May knows how to decorate for the holidays.
The Washington Mall at night
The Washington Mall in Cape May decorated for the holidays
Our Lady of the Star Sea Church at 525 Washington Street in Downtown Cape May
After a long walk picture taking everything in the downtown from every angle (I have pictures that I ended up using for other sites), I went back to the room to relax. I just sunk into the pillows and went out like a light. I woke up two hours later and got to bed. I slept so soundly again.
The next morning was rested and ready to go. I had my usual post-Christmas game plan. I started with breakfast at the Mad Batter, a local well known restaurant in Cape May and the food is always excellent. I have eaten here several times and I highly recommend it.
The food and the service are always very good. That morning there seemed to be only one waitress on the floor and I swear that this woman handled the dining room like a pro. The service was flawless and she never panicked.
The Bacon and Cheese Omelet with home fries was outstanding
After breakfast was over, I gathered my things at the hotel and dropped off my keys and then spent the afternoon visiting historical sites. Most everything I was surprised were closed so I took exterior shots to update my blogs.
While walking downtown, I saw that Our Lady of the Star Sea, the Catholic Church in the Washington Mall was having service at 11:00am. Since I did not go to church services on Christmas Eve or Day, I went in for the post-Christmas services. I was surprised how crowded they were that morning. I found out that a young new priest has just come from the seminary and started that day. I found him very inspirational and very enthusiastic.
The church was so beautifully decorated for the holidays
Our Lady Star of the Sea for the Christmas holiday season
After church services were over, I toured around Cape May. I had a noon time appointment at the Physick Mansion to see their Christmas decorations so I stopped at a few of the museum around the downtown area but again all closed.
The Physick Mansion tour at the holidays I have taken many times and it is one of the nicest homes decorated for the holidays. Many people would not have decorated every nook and cranny of the house the way this is but like Locust Grove, it gives you an idea of how the Victorians celebrated the holidays.
The decorations were amazing and the house was decked to the hilt for the Christmas holidays. We got to tour the entire house and every room has such festive garland and Christmas trees. The family seemed to know how to celebrate the holidays.
The Living Room at the Physick Estate
The Dining Room
The Parlor with the ‘Tabletop’ Tree in the corner
We went room by room with the tour guide explaining how the family would prepare for Christmas and the preparations that would have to be done by the staff for guests and for the family dinner. There would be many trips to Philadelphia department stores for gifts for the family. You felt on the tour that the family had just left for the day.
After the tour, I headed over to West Cape May to see the Cape May Lighthouse and was surprised that it was open that day. With everything else being closed, it was a treat to be able to climb it again. The drive in was nice as people decorated their homes nicely and being a warm day around 50 degrees (Christmas just seems to be getting warmer), I drove around for a bit to admire them.
The entrance to the Borough of Cape May Point decked for the holidays
The outdoor Christmas display in West Cape May
The Cape May Lighthouse and grounds were really busy with visitors and being such a warm day many were walking on the beach or admiring the park. Several passed me as I climbed the lighthouse which I had not done in a few years. The view on this clear sunny day was great.
The views from the top were so clear and beautiful and being so clear you could see the entire surrounding community.
The view from the top of the Cape May Lighthouse
After climbing up and back down, I passed more people who I could not believe were complaining on how hard it was to walk it. I got up in about ten minutes with a couple of stops and then was back down again once reaching the top. It is not that hard and is well worth the trip up.
Watching the time, I wanted to visit the farms in the area but Rea Farm was closed for the season so I headed to Beach Plum Farm, which has become quite the tourist stop since my first trip to Cape May. It is such a picturesque farm but it looks very planned. When I first started coming here is was a more local farm. Now it looks like a gourmet shop and it has gotten more expensive.
The entrance to Beach Plum Farm at 140 Stevens Street
I toured around the gift shop and admired the beautiful displays of gourmet foods. The place was almost empty as I could see that they must have had a very good Christmas. There was some serious restocking that needed to be done.
The wonderful gourmet items at Beach Plum Farm
I ended my afternoon feeding the chickens before I left the farm. God they were so excited to see me. I just had a little feed and they ran all around me like groupies. I guess this is how the farm feeds them. It was the best quarter I spent on the trip.
The chickens were a very excited bunch that afternoon
Before I left Cape May that day for home, I visited Sunset Beach one more time to enjoy the weather. The beach was pretty crowded again as everyone waited to see the sun set again on Cape May. Like I said before, you can see this a hundred times but it is never boring.
Sunset Beach on a warmish sunny day attracts a lot of visitors
From Sunset Beach, I headed home. I stopped for a quick slice of pizza on the way and then I had to leave Cape May (until the next time). There was a lot to do and I had places that I wanted to visit before the holidays were over. I could not believe how much work I got done on this two day trip to Cape May. I got to see a lot.
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I made another trip around the City. Since I did not have to return to classes until the end of January, I was able to take my time and explore around campus and the Village. Christmas was still in full swing.
Christmas in Greenwich Village
Decorations in one of the pocket parks on Greenwich Street
Homes decked out for the holidays
Townhouses decked out for the holidays
I also made a special trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Christmas tree and decorations before the museum took them down after the Epiphany. I love seeing them every year. It still is a big attraction at the museum and you have to visit it before that first weekend in January is over.
The Metropolitan Museum of at at 1000 Fifth Avenue:
My last holiday event before school started again was Epiphany services at the Reformed Church of Paramus and visiting my father for his birthday. It can be sobering but I try to still celebrate his life and going to this church puts me into the Christmas spirit.
The Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, NJ
Christmas services at the Paramus Reformed Church
The Paramus Reformed Church’s decorations by Route 17 are always tasteful
After services were over, I stayed and joined the other parishioners for Tea and snacks after the service and talked with other parishioners. It was nice to sit back after a long holiday season and just relax. After services were over, I went to pay respects to my father for his birthday (which is the reason why I come here for church as its on the way home). The cemetery was filled to the brim with wreaths and grave blankets so even though it was a cemetery, there was still a festive feel to the fact that so many people paid their respects to their families.
My aunt took me out on the last day of the Epiphany weekend for my combination birthday/Christmas present dinner to the Ivy Inn. What a nice evening we had and it was the perfect way to end the holiday season. The Chef/ Owner was not there that day but we were able to discuss with the staff the paper I wrote on the Metaverse. They seemed amused by it all (see my review on dinner on my TripAdvisor review above by the Metaverse paper story).
The Ivy Inn decorated for Christmas
The beauty of the dining room decorated for the holidays
The delicious salad I started with
The delicious Penne with Sundried Tomatoes and Sweet Sausage that I had that evening
My aunt and I shared this wonderful Zeppoles with Chocolate and Raspberry sauces
It was a magical evening with good food and company in a festive environment. I really needed this with all the running around with school, work, blogging and research that I had done from Thanksgiving to the Epiphany. It was a lot for one person to pull off and somehow I managed it all. I am lucky that I have supportive friends and family.
I had the entire month of January to relax before the whole thing began again for Spring Semester and that is all I wanted to do. It didn’t quite happen that way but I finally got time to myself which I needed.
My work for my blogs took me all over New York and New Jersey, visiting small towns, admiring Christmas decorations and supporting many community events. Please visit my other blogs DiningonaShoeStringin NYC@Wordpress.com, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and VisitingaMuseum.com to see all the updates, more detailed stories on the mansions and events and all my updated pictures.
I got my final grades by the end of the semester and it was straight “A”‘s. This was the first time in my life I ever did that! Don’t even ask me how I pulled this all off!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The Empire State Building from the NoMAD section of Manhattan just off Broadway
This was the first time I had been to City Island since 2008 when I visited the island for research for my third book “Dinner at Midnight” in which one of the main characters is a witch that moves to City Island. I had walked every street on the island trying to get a feel for what it might be like to live on the island and what the character may experience. There is a very important scene in the book where her boss comes to the island to search for her and notes to close proximity to Hart Island, New York City’s ‘Potters Field’.
He comes searching for the truth about his unusual employee and finds out too much. I will just leave this as a spoiler as I have not finished the last chapter of the book yet. You can read the first book in my New York City trilogy, “Firehouse 101” that is available at IUniverse.com and Google Books.
My first book in the New York Trilogy “Firehouse 101”
On top of research for my book, “Dinner at Midnight”, I wanted to visit the City Island Nautical Museum for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” as I had not been to the museum since I visited the island again in 2008. That was when I stayed at La Refuge, an inn that is now a private home. To add to the creepiness of the storyline, is that when I stayed at the inn for two nights, the first night in the first room there was no problem.
The former “La Refuge Inn” is now a private home and I think is haunted
When for some reason the second night they made me move to a back room, I could not sleep all night. I kept thinking that someone was in the room with me, and I finally had to sleep with the lights on. I never stayed or came back to the inn before it closed a few years later. I never felt that way before staying in an inn or B & B, and I have stayed in a lot of old houses.
Before I visited the museum, I had to stop for something to eat. I had a very early breakfast wanting to get to City Island early so I got hungry again. I was surprised that the pizzeria around the corner from the museum was closed and the diner near the museum was closing soon as well. I found the Sea Breeze Deli at 325 City Island Avenue just down the road from the museum and stopped there.
The Sea Breeze Deli at 325 City Island Avenue
I felt like I had walked into time warp as the place looked like it was from the 1970’s. Even thought it was a bit dated inside, I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a roll ($4.00) and it was terrific (See review on TripAdvisor) and hit the spot where I was ready for a long day of exploring.
The Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a roll is terrific at Sea Breeze Deli
The City Island Nautical Museum located at 190 Fordham Street, had not changed much from that visit. The museum is located on a quiet, residential street just off the main strip of City Island Avenue. It is located in what was the old PS 17, the island’s elementary school. Loaded with information but a bit jumbled with historic artifacts all over the place. Still, it is a great little museum.
The City Island Nautical Museum at 190 Fordham Street
Each room in the museum has a different theme to it with more information lining the hallways (See my review on VisitingaMuseum.com). The Community Room toward the back of the museum shows the history of the City Island starting with the Native Americans and the Dutch and how the settlement grew. Lining the walls were signs and memorabilia from businesses that once dotted the island and a little about their history. There are all sorts of ads and items once carried by the merchants.
The Schoolroom had the history of PS 75 and PS 175 which were the public schools located on the island as well as St. Mary’s, the recently closed Catholic school. It had old class photos, pictures of the school at various times and a complete schoolroom set up. The rooms that dealt with Ship Building and the Nautical past were the most interesting.
City Island has a rich history in ship building, sail making and fishing it is reflected in the collection of materials in the museum and its archives. The museum really details the growth and history of the boating industry on the island and its importance in the local economy. What I found interesting was the rich history of the creation of the sailing ships for the America’s Cup tournament and how all the winning boats up until the 1980’s were built on the island and the one that lost the cup for us against Australia was the first one not built on the island.
The Nautical Room at the City Island Maritime Museum
Even Ted Turner’s boat “Courageous” was built on the island. There was a picture of the reunion of the boat winning twice at the museum with the crew’s signatures (The tour guide even said how he ‘freaked out’ members of the New York Yacht Club who did not consider him one of their own). All the sailing vessels lined the walls of the hallway of the museum.
Each room of the museum was dedicated to a different theme. When I toured the Community Room in the back of the museum, it held the records of a lot of old businesses of City Island with pictures and items that were once part of the businesses. There was a small FDNY display, a small WWII display about local residents who fought in the war, wedding garments, maps of the island and a small display of arrowheads.
In the School Room, the concentration was on PS 17, which the museum is now housed in and its history with all the classroom group shot pictures, graduation pictures and a small classroom set up. There were more records and event items of the current PS 175, which is the K-8 school that the residents attend. There were also records and pictures of St. Mary, Star of the Sea School, the former Catholic school that used to be on the island as well.
The Nautical Room needed an overall as there was too much going on in the room with pictures all over the walls, equipment for navigation and for fishing and records of the ship building companies that used to dot the island. There were boats in various shapes and sizes on display and the companies that built them like Wood Yacht, Nevins Yacht and Minneford Yacht. There was also the history of shipbuilding and sail making on the island. The tour guide told me there were no more ship builders on the island, but one sail maker left.
The Library where all the research is done on the island and on the families and businesses that were once here was dominated by yachting pictures and nautical photography. It held all the City Island records and even the ship building plans.
The museum has a lot to see but it needs to be a bit more organized to really showcase the collections properly. Still, it is one of the best museums I have seen with a nautical history theme. The best part is that you can see the whole museum in about an hour and this leaves you time to tour the island and see how the museum better explains why the island is the way it is right now.
After I left the museum, I decided to tour the whole island and started with a tour down Fordham Street which lead me to the new apartment complex and their little walled park. It went in a spiral pattern and then I turned myself around back to the street and stood and admired the views. You get the most spectacular views on the Long Island Sound and the mysterious Hart Island from here.
I then took a tour of King Street and passed the beautiful but eerie Pelham Cemetery. It just sat in front of the beautiful backdrop of the bay still giving you a look of longing. I wanted to walk through it but the cemetery was locked and there was no trespassing signs all over the place. I just admired it from the gate looking for family names.
As I walked up both King and Minnieford Streets, I admired the hodge-podge of architecture of the homes on the island. There are rows of bungalows and elegant Victorians with their large porches and shade trees again with the bay in the background in some cases.
As I rounded up Terrace Street and got to the northern tip of the island, I saw the house that I used in the book as the home of the mysterious and sinister Serena Platt, the spell bounder in my novel. I set her apartment in this house and thought it had the right mood as a place that would be here home. I saw a couple of kids playing basketball on the property and did not want to stay too long to stare at it.
As I walked back down King and Minnieford Streets, I saw another Victorian home with a dark colored paint job that might fit the mood of her home as well. I had not noticed this house when I was walking around the island years earlier on a scouting trip. With its dark tones and wrap around porch, it looked like something you would find in New England or Salem, MA.
As I made my way down Cross Street back to City Island Avenue, I wanted to walk the whole street to see what stores and restaurants were there from I visited last. Most of the seafood restaurants were still there but the smaller antique and clothing stores were now gone. Many of the little unique stores had long since closed someone told me at a store I visited. Between the economy and the pandemic, they had taken their toll on business owners.
That may have been with the traditional businesses but not with the restaurants. As I walked down City Island Avenue from north to south, it seemed that every restaurant was getting a crowd especially as I walked further down the road.
Sammy’s Fish Box at 41 City Island Avenue seemed to dominate the street with its various outlets. They have really grown even more since I on the island the last time. They must have had four different buildings. I could not remember if I had eaten there the last time I visited. At the tip of the island are Johnny’s Reef and Tony’s Pier, two extremely popular seafood restaurants that I do remember eating at then I visited years ago.
When I walked into Tony’s Pier at 1 City Island Avenue, the parking lot was jammed with cars and the line was about 50 deep with customers. I was like ‘no way’ with this wait. It was too long, and everyone was getting antsy in the line. It was going by really slow.
Then I walked over to Johnny’s Reef at 2 City Island Avenue which I had dinner at the first night I visited the last time I came to City Island and the prices had gone up, but the portion sizes were still huge. The fried shrimp platters had not changed one bit. The only problem was the place was just as busy as across the street. It was really mobbed on this sunny warm night.
The sight of people eating all that fried food really turned me off, so I decided to try a restaurant that had been reviewed on my Dining Around club. They said the Fella’s Bar and Grill was where locals ate and socialized, so I decided to try it. It was closer to the middle point of the island near Bridge Park closer to the northern tip of the island. I was very impressed.
The bartender greeted me very warmly and gave me a lot of recommendations for dinner. She mentioned the Chicken Quesadilla and how terrific of it and that the burgers were really good. Then she mentioned how good the pulled pork was and that she had just tasted it. She sold me on that.
The Pulled Pork sandwich with a side of French Fries was excellent. The pork was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was a combination of honey, chilis and tomato for a rich barbecue taste. It was served on a chewy bun with a side of fries that were just out of the fryer (I needed some fried foods), and they were hot and crisp that snapped when you bit into them. I ordered an icy Coke, and it was the perfect meal after a long walk around the island (See my review on TripAdvisor).
While I was eating, I got to talk with the bartender about what was going on the island and about the over-whelming crowds of the restaurants on the southern part of the island. She just laughed and told me that they were really popular with people who lived off the island. I told her I could not understand this as the food was so good here. Then I just watched the game on TV.
The Pulled Pork Sandwich and Fries was fantastic
After I finished my meal, I was walking up City Island Avenue and noticed the large number of cars entering the island over the bridge probably coming for dinner. I walked past the busy Sea Shore Restaurant at 591 City Island Avenue and saw the cars pile into their parking lot and people coming and going. Just past that was the calm of Bridge Park-Catherine Scott Promenade at 549 City Island Avenue. Talk about views of the bay!
The sun was just starting to set so there was a beautiful glow to the Long Island Sound, and you could see all the boats sailing by and people waterskiing around the harbor. In the distance, you could see the skyline of lower Manhattan. It has the most dazzling effect of seeing New York from this standpoint. It was like visiting Cape May and crossing the bridge to a small New England fishing village. City Island is the same way escaping to a beach community with a rich shipping and fishing history and showcasing its nautical past.
Bridge Park at 549 City Island Avenue on the northern tip of City Island
I had come to the island to search for a witch and why she chose to live here and found my answers in the beautiful homes, wonderful parks and spectacular views of the bay. City Island is unique New York neighborhood where you do not realize that you are still in New York City.
*Be on the lookout for “Dinner at Midnight” when it gets published in the future.
The weather finally broke, and it has cooled down to a pleasant 87 degrees. Thank God because it was a nice day in the City walk around and visit the Flatiron District without sweating like crazy. The last few walks I have done in the neighborhood have been in the mid 90’s and that got to be too much.
I had spent the morning working in Social Services at the Soup Kitchen, helping people with things like getting clothes, writing out haircut vouchers and getting them toiletries. It is a lot of running around but the best part was that I really felt that I was helping people in need. The weather cooperated, and it was so nice to be outside enjoying the sunshine. It was a productive afternoon.
After I finished lunch, I was off to walk the Avenues of the Flatiron District. I have to admit that this has been one of the harder neighborhoods to research because there are so many amazing buildings to view, and the architecture is so detailed that it takes time to look up at all the ornamentation on the buildings. As I said in my previous blog on the borders of the neighborhood, these companies built these buildings to impress and last forever.
I started the walk at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and West 25th Street at the General Worth Memorial, a distinct triangle park right across the street from Madison Square Park. This is the Memorial to and burial site of General William Jenkins Worth.
William Jenkins Worth was a native New Yorker (Hudson, NY) and decorated Army officer who had served our country in the Battles of 1812, The Second Seminole War and the Mexican American War. His series of campaigns shaped this Country to where it is today. He died working for the Department of Texas in 1849 (Wiki).
Army General William Jenkins Worth
The General’s remains are buried under the monument at Worth Square at the corner of Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 24th and 25th Street. General Worth was interned here in November of 1857 on the anniversary of the British leaving the colonies (NYCParks.org).
The Worth Monument between East 24th and East 25th Street at Broadway and Fifth Avenue
The Worth Monument was designed by artist James Goodwin Batterson, whose main profession was one of the founders of the Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford, CT and helped design the Library of Congress Building in Washington DC. He had immersed himself in his father’s quarrying and stone importing business early in his career and traveled extensively to Europe and Egypt for the job. He designed this monument in 1857 (Wiki).
Turning the corner at East 25th Street and Madison Avenue is Madison Square Park, named after our fourth President of the United States, James Madison. This well landscaped park is the gathering place of the residents of NoMAD and has a wonderful playground that has been busy the whole time I have spent in the neighborhood.
Madison Square Park is an interesting little oasis from all the traffic and office space. It has an interesting history since it was designated a public space in 1686 by British Royal Governor Thomas Dongan. It has served as a potter’s field, an arsenal and a home for delinquents. In 1847, the space was leveled, landscaped and enclosed as a park. It became part of the New York Park system in 1870. There are many historical figures featured in the park (NYCParks.org). The park today is a major meeting spot for residents and tourists alike with a dog track and the original Shake Shack restaurant.
Madison Square Park in the Spring when I was walking the length of Broadway
When I walked into the park to take a break, it must have been the busiest section of the neighborhood between the playground and the original Shake Shack that were serving food to a crowd clung to their cellphones.
Another sculpture that is in Madison Square Park is the statue of William Henry Stewart, the former Governor of New York State, US Senator and Secretary of State during the Civil War. He also negotiated the Alaskan Purchase in 1867.
Governor William Henry Stewart statue in Madison Square Park
Governor William Henry Sewart, who negotiated the Alaskan Purchase “Sewart’s Folly”
As you look down further on the square, you will see the Flatiron Building one of the most famous and most photographed buildings in New York City. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham as a Renaissance Palazzo with Beaux-Arts style. The original name for the building was the “Fuller Building” for the Company. The name “Flatiron” comes from a cast iron clothes iron from the turn of the last century. (Wiki)
The ‘Flatiron’ Building at 175 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street
As you pass the Flatiron Building and continue the walk south between 23rd and 14th Streets, take a look up to admire the buildings that once help make up the “Ladies Shopping Mile”, once the most fashionable neighborhood after the Civil War for shopping, hotels and entertainment (See my blog in MywalkinManhattan.com “Walking the Ladies Shopping Mile”).
My Christmas Blog on “Victorian Christmas in New York City”: Day One Hundred and Twenty-Eight:
The buildings that line Broadway from the Flatiron Building until you get to Bowling Green Park at the tip of Manhattan are some of the most beautiful and detailed examples of Victorian architecture and were built between 1870 to about 1915. You really need to put the cellphone down and look up when walking south on both sides or you might miss the details of these buildings.
The Warren Building is another example of turn on the last century elegance. Designed by Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White in 1896, the building was designed in the Neo-Renaissance style (Daytonian).
One of the most elegant buildings on this part of Broadway is the former “Lord & Taylor” building at 901 Broadway. The building was constructed for the department store in 1870 and was the main store until 1914. Really take time to look at the detail work of the store and step inside. The Mansard Roof is an amazing touch. In 2022, it is now a restaurant on the lower level.
901 Broadway “Lord & Taylor” building from 1870-1914
I walked back through Madison Square Park after my walk down Broadway and there were two small jazz concerts that were going on at opposite side of the park. Two three person combos were entertaining people by the fountain and near Shake Shack and on a sunny after there was a pretty big crowd enjoying the park and listening to the music.
Walking down Fifth Avenue was interesting on both sides as you will notice how ornate the buildings are as you travel from West 25th to West 20th Street leading me to believe how important of a shopping and business district this once must have been. Here and there from the Flatiron Building you can see all the elegant and ornate buildings that line the Avenue.
I started my walk south down Fifth Avenue and here and there you need to look up and admire the details of the buildings. On the corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street is 186 Fifth Avenue, which was built for the Western Union Telegraph Company in 1883.
186 Fifth Avenue-The Western Union Telegraph Company Building
The building was designed by architect Henry J. Hardenberger in the Queen Anne style with its details being in brick and terra cotta (Daytonian in Manhattan). The building just finished a restoration, and you can see the details by the windows and dormers.
At 170 Fifth Avenue and West 22nd Street, you can see the beauty and elegance of the Beaux Art details of the former Sohmer Piano building. The building was built between 1897-88 and designed by architect Robert Maynicke for the owners of the Sohmer Piano Company for their showrooms and offices. The company was known for its introduction of the baby grand piano (Wiki/Daytonian in Manhattan).
At 166 Fifth Avenue, the building has almost a confectionary look of a wedding cake. This commercial building was constructed in 1900 by the architectural firm of the Parfitt Brothers in the Northern Renaissance Revival style with all sorts of embellishments around the windows and doors with an elaborate roof design. In the beginning it housed art galleries and upscale retailers until the area became manufacturing at the turn of the last century. It has made a full swing again as a luxury retailer building on street level (Daytonian in Manhattan/Streeteasy/LoopNet.com).
On the corner of West 21st Street and Fifth Avenue is 162 Fifth Avenue, another impressive building with interesting details. This office building was built in 1930 and is still used for commercial purposes.
At the edge of the neighborhood standing guard in the Flatiron District is 156 Fifth Avenue, the Presbyterian Building. This building has an interesting past being built for the Presbyterian Church for offices for missionary work when the neighborhood housed many religious institutions (Daytonian in Manhattan/LoopNet.com).
It was designed by architect James B. Baker in the French Gothic style, and you have to admire the roof for its unique details.
The detail in the entrance of the building
As I rounded the corner of the neighborhood at West 20th Street another building caught my eye at 150 Fifth Avenue, the former Methodist Book Concern. The building was built between 1888-90 and designed by architect Edward Hale Kendall in the Romanesque Revival style. It had originally held the offices, printing and a chapel for the church. This was the section of Fifth Avenue that housed many religious offices and headquarters (Wiki).
Walking north back up Fifth Avenue is 141 Fifth Avenue another confection of architecture. This gorgeous building was built in 1897 by architect Robert Maynicke, who had also designed Sohmer Piano Building at 170 Fifth Avenue, in the Beaux Arts style for the Merchant Bank of New York (Flatironnomade.nyc/fsiarchitecture.com).
141 Fifth Avenue-The Merchants Bank of New York Building
This impressive bank has recently been converted to luxury apartments with a current one sold at over three million dollars.
The entrance to 141 Fifth Avenue
I made my way back up Fifth Avenue and admired all these buildings once again. Each has their own style and design and since the time of their construction continue to live on in different forms for various companies. Since many were built at the turn of the last century it also proved to me how well constructed and designed these buildings are and how desirable they are in the marketplace as you will not see this construction again. These were made to last and give this section of Manhattan its unique appearance and its own sense of character.
The Flatiron District from Fifth Avenue and East 23rd Street
The beauty of the Flatiron District at night
I found myself hungry again and took the subway back down to Chinatown to visit many of the takeout places and bakeries that were on my list to visit. I have been building up my blog, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and wanted to see how many of them had stayed open post pandemic. Many of these little ‘hole in the wall’ restaurants are going strong as Chinatown is continuing to come back to life.
I started my walk in Chinatown at China North Dumpling at 27A Essex Street across from Seward Park for some fried dumplings and spring rolls. For ten large fried dumplings that were really juicy and well cooked, four spring rolls and a Coke it was $7.00. Everything was so well made, and you can watch from the counter the ladies making the fresh dumplings right in front of you. The place is real bare bones, but the food and the service are amazing. Try to eat at the counter and watch everything get prepared.
China North Dumpling at 27A Essex Street located in the Lower East Side
In needed something sweet after all the fried foods so I headed back to Yue Lai Bakery at 137 East Broadway to look for a baked pork bun. They had none left at that time of the day, but they were having a special on their baked goods three for $2.00 and I picked out a Coconut Bun, a Cream filled Bun and a Plain Bun.
They bagged it all up for me and I walked over to Sewart Park across the street and sat on the benches and ate them one by one. The Cream and Plain buns were really good and very sweet, and everything was so soft and well baked. I ended up sharing the Coconut Bun with the little birds in the park who surrounded me looking for a handout.
After a nice rest in the park and enjoying the sunshine and watching families play with their kids, I found myself still hungry. So, I walked down Hester Street from the park and made my way to King Dumpling this time for some steamed Pork and Chive Dumplings. For ten dumplings and a Coke it was only $5.00. The Steamed Pork & Chive Dumplings were excellent and again were freshly made right in front of us. They are large and well-cooked and burst with juiciness when you bite into them.
The place was packed with customers and people getting takeout. It is amazing to me how many people write about both King Dumpling and China North Dumpling and I had never really noticed them before. I saw them on a Fung Brothers “Cheap Chinatown Eats” video and then wanted to try them.
My last stop on the eating tour because even after twenty dumplings, four spring rolls, three pastries and three Cokes, I was still hungry and needed that baked pork bun. I found it at Happy Star Bakery at 160 East Broadway and it was just $1.75. Not the $3.50 in Midtown as I recently found at Dim Sum Sam in the Theater District. It was soft and chewy and filled with the most amazing, chopped pork and baked into a sweet dough. I barely made it out the door and I was finished with it.
After all the munching on snacks throughout the afternoon, I needed a good walk so I double backed and walked around the Twin Bridges section of the neighborhood walking down Henry, Madison, Rutgers and Clinton Streets around the public housing projects looking at all the small businesses that still catered to the people in the projects.
It is really a funny section of the City in that in-between the cut rate stores, and discount pizzerias are tiny gourmet restaurants, coffee bars and art galleries. It is really a case of extremes all over this section of the neighborhood and shows that both Twin Bridges and Chinatown south are going through a change in both residents and the businesses that cater to them.
With Little Italy slowly fading away (down to just four blocks now from forty at the turn of the last century), I can see the same changes happening in Chinatown as well. It is just another sign of Manhattan going through a metamorphosis.
It will be interesting to see what I will find when I reach this section of Manhattan in the near future.
There are some neighborhoods in Manhattan that just stand out for their access to parks or to the rivers and others are loaded with historic value who architecture had not changed over the years.
The Flatiron District which was once served as the old Midtown between the Civil War and World War One and “The Ladies Shopping Mile”, where women could shop and engage with one another without a chaperon on Avenues and Streets lined with Department stores, restaurants, movie theaters, tea houses and specialty stores catering to their needs. When you look up at the grand buildings of the district with their large windows and their Beaux-Art designs and decorations, you can see that their purpose was to impress the customers.
I had toured the area around Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street three years earlier for a tour of a “New York Victorian Christmas” and you can see by the architecture that these buildings were meant to last.
These Grand Department Store buildings are the ghosts of their former selves with a shopping district that left them behind and names that have been out of business for over a hundred years (with the exception of B. Altman & Company which closed in 1990). You can still see the beauty and gracefulness that is carved into the stone of these buildings and in some cases still show the name or the initial of the original store owner.
Day One Hundred and Twenty-Eight: ‘Victorian Christmas Tour’
As I started my walk on the borders of the Flatiron District at West 25th Street and Sixth Avenue, there was not much to see as it was all new construction. The one thing that I did notice from my last walk in the neighborhood is that the colorful street art piece by was tagged over. It was on the very edge of the neighborhood on the wall of The Corner Cafe at the corner of 729 Sixth Avenue was the New York City painting by artist Dirt Cobain.
The New York City Street art by artist Dirt Cobain on the side of The Corner Cafe at 729 Sixth Avenue (painted over in 2022)
Artist Dirt Cobian is an American born artist who started with a spray can when he was a teenager. He creates the most interesting and eye-opening street art. He currently lives in Brooklyn (Artist bio).
A video on who the artist is and what he represents.
The colorful piece of street art was painted over by another tagger who did not do the painting justice. That and the fact that the Corner Cafe had closed its doors for business since I walked the northern part of the Chelsea neighborhood in June and now sat empty. It was when you reached West 23rd Street when the true gems of architecture began.
This unusual office building was built in 1920 and you have to look up to see the carving of “The Corner” at the top of the corniche
I remembered what the tour guide said this had once been the first real shopping district when shopping was acceptable for the middle to upper middle-class woman to shop and socialize unchaperoned. These were the days before malls when shopping was an experience and not something to be rushed.
You could see it in the size of the buildings that housed everything you needed for your household from furniture and clothing to wines and fine gourmet food. They had something for everyone. I could have only imagined what it must have been like and to go back in time to experience those times.
The shopping district stretched from the border of West 23rd Street to the border of West 14th along the Sixth Avenue corridor from the old shopping district to the new one. Even today when you walk that area of West 14th Street, you can still see traces of the old shopping district in the elaborate buildings that are left that line the street. As I walked the back-and-forth length of Sixth Avenue, I admired the buildings that still line it.
I walked south first down Sixth Avenue so that I could really see the stores for myself on one side and then walked past the storefronts on my way back up. What were once Upper Middle Class clothing emporiums are today ‘Big Box’ stores still catering to the retail trade just in another form on the bottom and offices to the top.
Th shopping district border with the Flatiron District starts at the Simpson-Crawford Department Store at 641 Sixth Avenue between West 19th and 20th Streets, which once catered to the wealthy elite of Manhattan and beyond. The store was established in 1878 by Richard Meares and William Crawford as Richard Meares & Company. Meares left the firm a year later and William Crawford then partnered with Thomas and James Simpson to create Simpson, Crawford and Simpson. When Thomas Simpson died in 1885, the store became known as Simpson-Crawford (Daytonian in Manhattan).
Simpson-Crawford Store today at Sixth Avenue between West 19th and 20th Streets
When James Simpson died in 1894, William Crawford became the sole owner and in 1899 with the rise of the great stores on Sixth Avenue, Crawford designed a new store of marble designed by William H. Hume & Son. The exterior of the store shined with polished marble and granite (Daytonian in Manhattan & the tour guide).
The store had many innovations at the time. It had the first escalator in the city, the first display windows with mannequins and large display windows that had to be created for the store. The store was stocked with the finest imported clothes, furs and laces and on the top floor was a restaurant that catered to 1200 guests (Daytonian in Manhattan & the tour guide).
Before the store opened, William Crawford retired and sold the store to Henry Siegel across the street who kept the tradition of the store going. When Siegel-Cooper Company collapsed in 1914, Simpson-Crawford was kept closed for three weeks and then reopened. Both stores closed one year later, and the store was converted to mail order warehouse. Today it holds various stores (Daytonian in Manhattan).
Our next stop was in front of Hugh O’Neill’s Dry Goods Store at 655 Sixth Avenue between West 20th and 21st Streets. It was built by the firm of Mortimer C. Merritt in the neo-Greco style who built the four stages of the building between 1887-1890 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Hugh O’Neill had started a small dry goods business right after the Civil War in 1865 with a small store around Union Square. In 1870, he decided to build a trade on the middle market customer and offered discounts on goods. The four floors of merchandise contained laces, ribbons, clocks and on the upper floors women’s and children’s clothing (Wiki).
When O’Neill died in 1902, the shopping area had just begun its decline and in 1906 it merged with Adams Dry Goods up the block. A year later they both went out of business as the area gave way to manufacturing. The building today has been converted into condos.
The Hugh O’Neill store today
Next door to it we looked at and discussed was the former Adams Dry Goods Store at 675 Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Street.
Samuel Adams, a merchant who had been selling upscale clothing and furnishing to customers in the area decided to open a store on Sixth Avenue. He used the architectural firm of DeLemos & Cordes, who had designed the Seigel-Cooper Department Store and the six-story building opened in 1902. The store was the first in New York City to use the new Pneumatic tubes to transport money and messages throughout the store (Wiki).
The problem with the store was its location. He built the store at the very edge of the neighborhood as the business changed. As the shopping area started to decline in the early 1900’s, Adams sold the store to Hugh O’Neill Dry Goods Store and they merged the two companies together, converting three floors of the Adams Dry Goods store to furniture. This concept was not popular as well and the businesses failed, and the store closed in 1913 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Adams Dry Goods Store today at Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Streets
The store has gone through a manufacturing stage and in the 80’s became part of the change to large box retailing. The building now houses eBay and several stores including Trader Joe’s and Michael’s. As we could see on the tour, the old department stores are finding new life in retailing.
The old entrance to the Adams Dry Goods Store
Between West 22nd and West 23rd Streets located between the old Adams Dry Goods and next to the former Macy’s store was Ehrich Brothers Department Store at 701 Broadway. The building was constructed in 1889 by architect William Schickel & Company with additions by Buchman & Deisler and Buchman & Fox in 1889 (Wiki).
Ehrich Brothers Department Store building at 701 Sixth Avenue (Wiki)
The “K” still adornes the store of the old J.L. Kesner Department Store
Another addition was added by Taylor & Levi in 1911 when the store was leased to J.L. Kesner. They added the terra cotta “K”s that can still be seen from the top of the storefront. The store folded in 1913 and then was used for manufacturing and offices as the shopping district moved to 34th Street and the Fifth Avenue area (Wiki).
At the corner of the neighborhood on Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street at 100 West 23rd Street is the second Macy’s Department Store building. This was on the very edge of the Ladies Shopping Mile that once stretched along Sixth Avenue.
The building was built in 1871 and you can see all the elaborate embellishments on it with interesting stone carvings and elegant window design and some wrought iron details on different parts of the building. It was the last location of the store before it moved to its current location at 151 West 34th Street.
100 West 23rd Street (Renthop.com) is an old Macy’s
At the edge of the shopping district on the corner of West 20th Street and Sixth Avenue is the old Church of the Holy Communion, which recently housed the Limelight Night Club and now the Limelight Shops at 47 West 20th Street.
The former Church of the Holy Communion at 47 West 20th Street (now the Limelight Shops)
The church was designed by architect Richard Upjohn and was built between 1844-45 and was consecrated in 1846. It was designed in the ‘Gothic Revival’ style and according to the church’s founder, Reverend William Muhlenberg “was the true architectural expression of Christianity” (Wiki). The church closed in 1975 due to declining membership. It had many uses until 1983 when it opened as the Limelight Nightclub. Today it houses the Limelight shops.
The church set up for outdoor dining in the summer
Then decorated for Christmas during the holidays
As I turned the corner onto West 20th Street, there was a lot of commotion across the street and there were police cars everywhere. I did not see what exactly happened, but it made me walk faster down West 20th Street.
West 20th Street is officially the southern border of the Flatiron District, but I have found that the district overlaps with NoMad, Rose Hill, Kips Bay and Chelsea so much of the neighborhood has two or sometimes three community names. The borders begin to blur here. You can see though that this was once a very important business district with buildings that were designed with distinction.
At the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 20th Street, another building got my attention at 650 Sixth Avenue. This impressive building, which is known as the Cammeyer and is located at 650 Avenue of the Americas on the southeast corner at 20th Street, was converted to a residential condominium in 2007 (Carter Horsley. CityRealty.com).
650 Sixth Avenue at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 20th Street-Now the Cammeyer
The building was designed by Hubert, Piersson & Hoddick in 1892 for the estate of William C. Rhinelander. The red-brick, Neo-Renaissance-style building has white stone and terra cotta trim, a large copper cornice and a handsome band course beneath its top floor. It was the home of the Cammeyer Shoe Store, the one of the largest shoe stores in country (Daytonian).
The conversion was designed by Perkins Eastman for by Penterium, the residential development arm of Korean firm Kumang Housing Corp (Carter Horsley. CityRealty.com).
I was admiring 27 West 20th Street on my walk down West 20th Street to Park Avenue South. This detailed twelve story office building was built in 1908 and now offers loft style offices. the details of the building include elaborate stonework both around the doorways and lower windows and the top floors.
27 West 20th Street was built in 1913
What I liked about the side streets as well as the avenues as I walked the neighborhood was that it kept its character and that these buildings had not been knocked down for the modern skyscraper. They were finding new use like the buildings in Midtown South and in NoMAD and become very desirable.
There was true beauty in the details of 20 West 20th Street that was built in 1906. The Beaux Art style details around the windows and doors accent the elegant building.
I passed 156 Fifth Avenue as I crossed the border from west to east in this part of the neighborhood and admired it for its detailed stonework carving and unusual styled roof. The Presbyterian Building was built in 1893 and was designed by architect James B. Baker and was designed in the French Gothic style. It was to be used by the Presbyterian Church as their base for domestic and foreign missions and used as office space. The Panic of 1893 changed that, and they had to lease the space out (Daytonian in Manhattan).
I reached Broadway and to what was once heart of the elegant shopping district of the old Midtown Manhattan before it moved up to the 34th Street area at the turn of the 20th Century. At 901 Broadway at East 20th Street is the old Lord & Taylor Building before its final move to Fifth Avenue in 1915 (they closed in 2020).
901 Broadway at West 20th Street-The Lord & Taylor Building
The building was designed by New York architect James H. Giles and was designed in the innovative cast iron style of the time that resembled stone. After the store closed in 1915 when it moved business uptown, the Broadway side of the store was resurfaced in stone which is why only a sliver of the old store design is intact (Daytonian in Manhattan/New York Public Library).
The original look of the Lord & Taylor Store at 901 Broadway (New York Public Library)
Across the street from the old Lord & Taylor Building is 903 Broadway, the former Warren Building. It was designed in 1891 by Stamford White for the Goelet family for their new commercial holding company. The Goelet family had owned all the land around this area and as it moved from residential to commercial, the family developed the neighborhood around them. The building was named after Robert Goelet’s wife, Harriette Louise Warren (Daytonian in Manhattan).
903 Broadway at West 20th Street-The Warren Building
The house opened finally for touring after being closed for the pandemic in January 2023 so I finally got to tour the home. It is filled with period furniture, family heirlooms and many artifacts of the late President.
The Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace Museum at 28 East 20th Street
The small gardens outside the house were in full greenery when I visited.
The Parlor at the Roosevelt Home
Towards the corner of East 20th Street and Park Avenue South near the border of the neighborhood is 42 East 20th Street, the current home of the Gramercy Tavern, The Bullmoose building. This loft style store building was built between 1898-1899 and was designed by architects Neville & Bagge. The building was converted into lofts and the restaurant below.
The beautiful entrance to the former N.S. Meyer Inc.
Turning the corner to Park Avenue South, you can see Gramercy Park in the distance which shares it border with the Flatiron District. This is where the lines get blurred between the Flatiron District and Gramercy Park, which share the same border.
As you walk up Park Avenue South, the first building that makes an impression is 251 Park Avenue South. This elegant office building with its large display windows and clean lines shows of the store inside. The office building was built in 1910 and has large windows both on the ground level and towards the top of building.
One building that does standout from the others on Park Avenue South is the Calvery Church at 277 Park Avenue. The church was established in 1832 and moved to its current location in 1842. The current church was designed in the Gothic Revival style by James Renwick Jr., who designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Another interesting building, I looked up and admired while walking up Park Avenue South was 281 Park Avenue South, the former Church Mission House. The building was designed by architects Robert W. Gibson and Edward J. Neville in the Medieval style and was built between 1892 and 1894. It was built for the Episcopal Church’s Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (Wiki). It now houses the photography museum The Fotografista Museum.
281 Park Avenue South-The Fotografiska Museum (The Church Mission House)
Another impressive building, I passed before East 23rd Street is 105 East 22nd Street the former United Charities Building. This is the final building in what was once known as “Charity Row” (Wiki). The building was designed by architect R. H. Robertson and the firm of Rowe & Baker. It was built by John Stewart Kennedy in 1893 for the ‘Charity Organization Society’ (Wiki).
When you turn the corner down East 23rd Street, you are heading back up to the border that the Flatiron District shares with the Kips Bay, Rose Hill and NoMAD neighborhoods. I had walked these district two years earlier when I explored these neighborhoods. I walked north first to the Infantry Regiment building and then walked south again to East 23rd Street to see if there were any changes. With the exception of DiDi Dumpling moving to 34 Lexington from 38 Lexington, it looked pretty much the same.
I walked to the front of the 69th Regiment Building at 68th Lexington Avenue. The scaffolding was finally down, and you could see the whole building now. This beautiful building is the home to the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Fighting Irish” since the Civil War (Wiki).
The building was designed by architects Hunt & Hunt in the Beaux Arts style and was completed in 1906. It has been home to many events and show including the controversial 1913 Armory Show of contemporary art (Wiki). You really have to walk around the building to admire its beauty and history.
Just across the street is another beautiful building covered with snakes, skulls and dragons carved along the side of it at 130 East 25th Street.
Someone had a warped sense of humor
The former B. W. Mayer Building which now houses the Friends House in Rosehall was built in 1916 by architect Herman Lee Meader (Wiki). You really have to walk around the building to see all the unusual carvings that line the building.
130 East 25th Street, the former B. W. Mayer Building
The street art is also interesting on this part of Lexington Avenue. One the corner of East 24th Street & Lexington Avenue is the Friends House New York, a housing unit. Painted on the wall is a very unique painting by Italian street artist, Jacopo Ceccarelli.
Painting by artist Jacopo Ceccarelli
The mural is on the corner of East 24th & Lexington Avenue-The St. Francis Residence Building
The Milan born street artist, who goes by the name “Never 2501” hones his skills after moving to San Paolo, painting murals with an edge that got global recognition. He uses geometric forms in his work with circles and lines creating the abstract (Do Art Foundation).
I was getting hungry again with all this criss crossing across Lexington Avenue and I had two choices for a snack, DiDi Dumpling at 38 Lexington Avenue or Pick & Pay Pizza at 30 Lexington Avenue both having reasonable snacks. Since I would be stopping for Dim Sum later that afternoon, I chose the pizza. For a $1.25 a slice, the pizza was not bad in this tiny little hole in the wall that also served Indian food as well. The sauce had a lot of flavor and that is what makes the pizza.
I noticed on the wall right near the doorway near the Starbucks was another wall mural “Urban Ocean” by artist Yuki Abe that is off to the side of the building on the corner of Lexington & 25th, Look at the interesting color and design of the work.
Surrounding this area of Lexington & 25th Street starts the campus of Baruch College which is part of the SUNY system, and I could see students who were taking live classes walking around enjoying the day. I am sure it is much different when classes were in full swing, and the students were hanging around the restaurants and coffee shops in the area.
The Baruch College Student Plaza at East 25th Street is a nice place to relax
Another building that stands out in its beauty and design is on the corner of the neighborhood on Lexington Avenue between 24th and 23rd Streets, the Freehand Hotel at 23 Lexington Avenue. The hotel was originally built as the Hotel George Washington in 1928 and designed by architect Frank Mills Andrews in the French Renaissance style.
The Freehand Hotel (the former George Washington Hotel) at 23 Lexington Avenue
While still a apartment building and a dorm in the 1990’s, several famous New Yorkers lived at the hotel including artist Keith Haring and musician Dee Dee Ramone. Playwright Jeffery Stanley also lived at the hotel for a period of time.
The entrance to the Freehand Hotel is very elegant
After the north south trip around the boundaries of Lexington Avenue, I turned at East 25th Street to head back to Sixth Avenue. The border of the Flatiron District is also part of the Rose Hill and NoMAD neighborhoods and shares the border with Kips Bay.
Walking down East 25th Street, you realize as you start to border the Midtown area that the buildings take up more of the blocks and there are less smaller brownstones and tenements in the area. The dominate building on the block by Madison Square Park is 11-25 Madison Avenue, the Metropolitan Life Buildings. The building that lines this part of East 25th Street is the Metropolitan Life North Building (or 11 Madison Avenue).
Metropolitan Life North Building at 25 Madison Avenue
This beautiful building was the extension of the main headquarters next door on Madison Avenue. The building was designed by the architectural team of Harvey Wiley Corbett and D. Everett Waid in the Art Deco style in the late 1920’s as the tallest building in the world but the Great Depression changed the plans and it was built in three stages. The first finished in 1932, the second in 1940 and the third in 1950 (Wiki).
The archways ‘Loggias’ on each side of the building
What stands out about the building is the arched vaults on each corner of the structure called ‘loggias’ and the features were made in limestone and pink marble. When you stand under them you can see the colors and details of the marble carvings (Wiki). Just walking around the building the features are impressive and standout.
Across the street from the Metropolitan Life North Building at 27 Madison Avenue is the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State and one of the most beautiful and detailed buildings I have seen on my walks. The building was designed by architect James Lord Brown in 1896 in the Beaux Arts Style and is adorned heavily in sculpture (Wiki). You really have to step back and walk across the street to see the details on the building.
27 Madison Avenue The Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State
Looking up close, you can see that the building resembles a Greek Temple and was considered one of the best examples of the “City Beautiful Movement” that occurred during the 1890’s and 1900’s to enhance cities with monumental grandeur and beauty (Wiki).
The historical beauty of the architecture continued up the border of the neighborhood as I walked up Madison Avenue towards East 30th Street. You have to walk both sides of Madison Avenue to appreciate the designs and details of the buildings that line the avenue.
You have to look close to the building or you will miss it is the sculpture by artist Harriet Feigenbaum. It is a memorial to victims of the Holocaust and is very powerful in its work showing the concentration camps.
“The Memorial to the Injustice of the Victims of the Holocaust”-“Indifference to Justice is the Road to Hell”
Harriet Feigenbaum is an American sculptor and environmentalist. Her works cover sculpture, film and drawings that are seen all over the world (Wiki and artist bio).
I passed 50 Madison Avenue and noticed how the buildings blended in design. The bottom level of the building was built in 1896 as the headquarters of the ASPCA (American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals). The building was designed by architects Renwick, Aspinwall & Owen and had a classic ‘club like’ design to it. The building was refitted and added to in 2005 by the firm of Samson Management with a six story addition to luxury condos (CityRealty.com).
Another ornamental building that stands out in the neighborhood is 51 Madison Avenue which is the home of New York Life Insurance Building. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in 1926 in the Art Deco style with Gothic Revival details along the sides and was finished in 1928. The structure is topped with a gilded roof (Wiki & New York Life Insurance history). This is another building that you have to see from all sides.
51 Madison Avenue-The New York Life Insurance Building
Continuing my walk up Madison Avenue while admiring the architecture of the neighborhood is The James NoMAD Hotel, the former Seville Hotel, on the corner of East 29th Street at 88 Madison Avenue. This interesting hotel has gone through several name changes and renovations since it was built in 1904. The hotel was designed by architect Harry Alan Jacobs in the Beaux Arts style and the annex to the hotel was designed by Charles T. Mott in 1906 (Wiki).
88 Madison Avenue-The James NoMAD Hotel (formerly The Seville)
The outdoor dining was open for the restaurant the first afternoon I had visited the neighborhood even though I thought it was a little cool to eat outside. Even though you can’t go inside unless you are a guest, I could see the lights stung from the street, and it looked very elegant in the outside dining area. It was noted in the paper that they will be keep the tradition of closing Broadway from West 25th to West 28th for the summer.
Across the street from this elegant hotel is 95 Madison Avenue the former Emmett Building. The structure was designed by architects John Stewart Barney and Stockton B. Colt of Barney & Colt for Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet in 1912 when the area was a wholesale district. The building is designed in the French Neo-Renaissance with Gothic style ornamentation (New York Landmark Preservation Commission and Wiki).
Heading straight ahead at East 25th Street and Madison Avenue is Madison Square Park, named after our fourth President of the United States, James Madison. This well landscaped park is the gathering place of the residents of NoMAD and has a wonderful playground that has been busy the whole time I have spent in the neighborhood.
Madison Square Park is an interesting little oasis from all the traffic and office space. It has an interesting history since it was designated a public space in 1686 by British Royal Governor Thomas Dongan. It has served as a potters field, an arsenal and a home for delinquents. In 1847, the space was leveled, landscaped and enclosed as a park. It became part of the New York Park system in 1870. There are many historical figures featured in the park (NYCParks.org).
The park today is a major meeting spot for residents and tourists alike with a dog track and the original Shake Shack restaurant.
Madison Square Park in the Spring when I was walking the length of Broadway
When I walked into the park to take a break, it must have been the busiest section of the neighborhood between the playground and the original Shake Shack that were serving food to a crowd clung to their cellphones.
The original Shake Shack is located in Madison Square Park at Park and 23rd Street
I stopped to look at the statue of our 21st President Chester A. Arthur, who had taken oath just two blocks away in his New York townhouse where the Kalustyan’s Specialty Foods is located at 123 Lexington Avenue (See My Walk in Kips Bay below). I thought about what was going on in our government today and what they must have gone through with this transition.
The Statue of Chester A. Arthur in Madison Square Park
George Edwin Bissell was an American born artist from Connecticut whose father was a quarry-man and marble carver. He studied sculpture abroad in Paris in the late 1870’s and was known for his historical sculptures of important figures of the time (Wiki).
The Admiral David Farragut statue in Madison Square Park by artist Augustus St. Gaudens
Another interesting statue that stands out in Madison Square Park is the of Civil War Navy hero, Admiral David Farragut. Admiral Farragut commanded the Union Blockage of Southern cities and helped capture New Orleans. The statute was designed by sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens. This was the artist’s first major commission when it was dedicated in 1881 (NYCParks.org).
Augustus St. Gaudens was an Irish born American artist whose specialty during the Beaux-Arts era was monuments to Civil War heroes. He had created the statue the William Tecumseh Sherman in the Central Park Mall on Fifth Avenue along with this statue of Admiral Farragut. He had studied at the National Academy of Design, apprenticed in Paris and then studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (Wiki).
Upon leaving Madison Square Park and proceeding across East to West 25th Street (Fifth Avenue separates the East Side from the West Side of Manhattan), I was traveling into what was once part of Midtown between the Civil War until WWI and then after that Midtown moved closer to Central Park during the 1920’s through the 1940’s.
Most of the buildings in this section of NoMAD were built with decorative stonework and elaborate ornamentation. There are so many in this section of Manhattan I will highlight the ones that are the standouts. As I walked the border of the neighborhood, you could see many beautiful buildings lining 25th Street.
When walking down East 25th Street from Madison Square Park, the first interesting site you pass is the historic Worth Square, the Memorial to and burial site of General William Jenkins Worth.
William Jenkins Worth was a native New Yorker (Hudson, NY) and decorated Army officer who had served our country in the Battles of 1812, The Second Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. His series of campaigns shaped this Country to where it is today. He died working for the Department of Texas in 1849 (Wiki).
Army General William Jenkins Worth
The General’s remains are buried under the monument at Worth Square at the corner of Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 24th and 25th Street. General Worth was interned here in November of 1857 on the anniversary of the British leaving the colonies (NYCParks.org).
The Worth Monument between East 24th and East 25th Street at Broadway and Fifth Avenue
The Worth Monument was designed by artist James Goodwin Batterson, whose main profession was one of the founders of the Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford, CT and helped design the Library of Congress Building in Washington DC. He had immersed himself in his father’s quarrying and stone importing business early in his career and traveled extensively to Europe and Egypt for the job. He designed this monument in 1857 (Wiki).
Passing Worth Square and continuing down West 25th Street, I noticed the impressive architecture that lines the streets of this section of the Broadway part neighborhood.
At 1123 Broadway is the detailed Townsend Building that was built between 1896-97 and was designed by New York architect Cyrus Lazelle Warner Eidlitz in the Classical style. The building is names for Isaac Townsend whose estate the building was built on (Flatiron Partnership).
Another beautiful building is the Heritage Hotel at 18-20 West Fifth Avenue. This detailed hotel was designed by the architectural firm of Israels & Harder in 1901 in the Beaux-Arts style.The hotel opened in 1902 as the Arlington Hotel, a residential hotel for well-heeled guests (Daytonian).
By the time I reached Sixth Avenue again, I could see the reason why most people call the Flatiron District a treasure trove of architecture. Block after block walking the borders of this neighborhood was an experience in the hopes and dreams of so many companies of the turn of the last century. When they built these buildings, they were meant to last, and they believed in what they were creating.
What I love about the Flatiron District is the belief that business had in itself to last, to make an impression on the not just the people that worked there but to the outside world. It showed a world of promise and power and showed New York City’s representation in business and culture. Between the Civil War and WWI, you could see the growth in commerce, marketing, retail and the arts representing in these blocks of Manhattan.
This was meant to show the country where New York City stood and what it represented. These were not just buildings but statements to the optimism that a country that had just been through a Civil War could accomplish. While this trend was followed by cities all over the country growing between the wars, New York stood out by doing it first and doing it bigger.
This is why Manhattan is the capital of the World.
This was the first year that “The Great Saunter Walk”, the 32-mile perimeter walk around the entire island took place since 2019. Since I had done the walk twice on my own, actually doing more of the walk than was required. This year I wanted to make it official.
I officially finished “The Great Saunter Walk” in May of 2022
The problem was by the time I wanted to sign up for the walk, it was completely sold out. So, I was put on a waiting list. With a prediction of rain all day (and it did rain all day!), many people dropped out before the event occurred, so I got to sign up. On a very gloomy Saturday morning, I got to the Frances Tavern at 7:30am to register and start the walk by the entrance of the Staten Island ferry.
Rather than rewrite the whole day, I updated the blog that I have written over the last two years and added to it. I hope you all enjoy my journey around the most famous island on earth on the gloomiest and rainy day ever. I hope you enjoy the journey!
My story of my walk around Manhattan island:
“The Great Saunter Walk”:
July 15th Walk:
I wanted to complete the walk again in the Summer to look at if from another perspective and walked the island perimeter again on July 15th. It took another three and a half hours to do the walk. This is due to meal breaks and just exhaustion due to the heat.
Normally I walk “The Great Saunter” in June around the time of either Father’s Day or the Summer Solstice, so that I have plenty of light. The problem was I was so busy in June that I had to push it back to July and the biggest problem was the heat. In the morning when I started the walk, it was cool and in the high 70’s due to the clouds. When they broke around 10:00am, it started to get hotter and went to the mid 80’s. It would not have been so bad, but the humidity plays a role in the walk. When I did the official walk in May, it was so cold and wet we never stopped for a long break as we all just wanted to get it done and go home.
In the warmer months, I like to stop and relax at various parks like Jefferson Park in East Harlem or Carl Schulz Park on the Upper East Side and let my legs relax. The reason why we finished the walk in May quicker is because the businessman who I was walking with in the last leg of the walk around Stuyvesant Cove just wanted to finish as well so we never stopped.
There were a lot more people in the parks that day, so it made maneuvering a bit harder and, in some cases, like in Jefferson Park, people were all over one another. I have noticed one thing and it is not just in New York City, people’s courtesy has gone way down. People were riding their electric bikes and motorcycles in the paths of the park and on the sidewalks practically knocking people down. One very over-weight woman rode a moped through the main path of Jefferson Park chasing her dog and nearly ran over two little girls who had just finished swimming. That was something!
The nice part of the walk in July was the clear sunny day it had been and being able to enjoy the breezes and the sunshine. It is much nicer to do the walk on a pleasant day than in the rain.
*This blog is dedicated to Lucy, whose input and cheerleading for this blog has been much appreciated and to another memorable lunch!
I have been volunteering at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen for almost nineteen years and over the years you become friends with the other volunteers. Lucy and I have gotten to know one another over the years. Last Spring, we had gotten together for an amazing lunch over pizza from Lions & Tigers & Squares on West 23rd Street.
Maybe it was the pizza, maybe it was the weather or maybe it was just the view of the Flatiron Building in the background as we were eating lunch by the plaza next to Madison Square Park or maybe all of the above. It was just an amazing lunch.
Over the Fall and Winter months we had kept in touch and the conversation always went back to that amazing lunch and just the beautiful view of the Flatiron Building in the background while we ate. I had commented to her that all over the world people wished they could be in the very spot that we were in eating lunch and here we were eating there. There is sometimes a moment in time that are just perfect.
When Lucy came in again, I had been through a lot lately losing my friend, Barbara and some family issues. So, it was nice to have someone nonpartial to listen. I was going through a lot at one time.
Having had pizza the night before and for lunch the day before that, I really did not want to go back to Lions & Tigers & Squares at 268 West 23rd Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) so we on a whim tried S & A Gourmet Deli at 240 Eighth Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for a sandwich.
Talk about another excellent lunch. The sandwiches there are excellent. S & A Gourmet Deli does a great job with their food. I ordered Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich ($8.99), which was two freshly fried chicken cutlets topped with Swiss Cheese and Ham topped with spicy mustard on a fresh hoagie roll. Each bit was amazing.
The Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich at S & A Gourmet Deli
The two of us had a nice afternoon talking about what was going on in our lives and just enjoying the warm weather. What was strange was only about an hour before it was pouring down rain and then as we met it cleared up. By the time we finished lunch, it was almost the same weather as the time we had lunch last year, sunny and warm and in the 70’s. I guess God was listening.
Having lunch outside with the Flatiron Building in the background is amazing!
After lunch was over, we said our goodbyes and I was off to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see the Magnolia trees blooming and the breathtaking Daffodil Hill, where thousands of daffodils would be blooming at one time around a 100-year-old Oak Tree.
With everything going on, I am getting a little leery about traveling by subway but off I went. The ironic part is that the trip was smooth and quiet and non-eventful. I found out later on that evening that the N Line earlier the morning had been hit with a smoke bomb and a shooting. Talking about shattering an imagine. Thank God I did not know all this on the trip down to Brooklyn.
The Entrance to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at 990 Washington Avenue
The weather was even better when I got up the stairs on the Number 2 line outside the Brooklyn Museum. It had gotten even warmer. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden was the busiest it had been all season with people taking pictures of the now blooming Cherry trees and Japanese Garden coming to life in the early Spring months.
Daffodil Hill was just as spectacular as the many years before. The daffodils were in full bloom and the hill on the other side of the Japanese Garden next to the flowering Magnolia trees which were also in full bloom. The scents were wonderful with scents of sweet jasmine and candy.
There are very few places in the world that are perfect but the bench by Daffodil Hill is one of those spots. To sit there and just admire Mother Nature at work at her best is just something. I look forward to this every year and is one of the main reasons why I keep renewing every year. For one afternoon, I just want to sit at that exact bench and admire Mother Nature’s handywork.
The Japanese Gardens are starting to bloom
The Cherry Trees in the Japanese Gardens on the other side of the hill were just coming into bloom as well and the whole effect showed that Spring is here and not a moment too soon. Everyone needed the warm weather to come and relax us. It has been a long Winter.
I ended spending over two hours just walking around the gardens and relaxing under a tree like everyone under the Cherry Tree Esplanade that has not bloomed yet. The soft grass and the relaxing sounds of contemporary music on every half hour was a nice way to spend the late afternoon.
Once left the gardens, I was going to go to the Brooklyn Museum, but it was closed and the weather being so beautiful I decided to walk to Downtown Brooklyn and see how the reconstruction of the Fulton Mall was going. So I took the long walk around the circle and walk down Flatbush Avenue towards Downtown Brooklyn. I made a few detours along the way and explore Brooklyn.
As I got to the turn off to Atlantic Avenue just off Flatbush Avenue near the Barclay’s Center, I decided to make the turn and explore a neighborhood I knew well. This part of Brooklyn I had used for my novel, “Firehouse 101” and I spent many a day exploring the streets of Boreum Hill and Cobble Hill for my book, noting the streets, parks and businesses. There are lot of memories of me walking this neighborhood almost twenty years ago.
My novel “Firehouse 101” set in Boreum Hill and Cobble Hill Brooklyn
I can’t tell you how many times I walked Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, Smith Street and Court Street for inspiration. Many of the observations of those afternoons were written into the book as I tried to make it as real as possible.
When I got to the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street, I made the right turn and walked the length of Smith Street in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn. It also amazes me how a neighborhood keeps changing as new businesses keep opening and closing changing the complexity of a neighborhood and how the long-time businesses still chug along and watch it all happen. There are those family-owned enterprises that make the City unique.
As I rounded Smith Street, admiring all the new gift boutiques, gourmet shops and small restaurants, I crossed over Degraw Street to walk the ‘border’ of the neighborhood in my novel and walked to Court Street and walked up the street. I needed to stop a few times at some bakeries that I had been to many times on my walks here.
As I walked all over Atlantic Avenue, I saw all the new little boutique bakeries with their $5.00 cookies and $7.00-$9.00 pies that looked delicious but were not worth the money. No pie that is about three bites is worth $7.00. When I visited the longtime neighborhood favorite, Monteleone’s Bakery at 355 Court Street the woman at the counter reminded me why this bakery has been around for 100 years. Quality and service.
The pastries at Monteleone’s Bakery are delicious
The prices and selection are also a nice part of the bakery. Their miniature pastries which are nice sized sell for $2.00 a piece and the selection of them is extensive. I bought a pastry stuffed with cannoli cream and a mini cream puff with vanilla cream. I had the woman put them in a bag so that I could eat them along the way. They both lasted barely a block.
When I mentioned to the woman about the $7.00 pies and $5.00 cookies at the bakeries on Atlantic Avenue, she just laughed and said this is the reason why Monteleone’s is so popular and has been around so long. They know their customers. I know that I will be back when I visit the neighborhood again.
I was still hungry as I walked down Court Street to the Fulton Mall and downtown, so I stopped at the Court Pastry Shop at 298 Court Street for another pastry. I love my sweets and had not been there in a few years. It is funny that the Court Pastry Shop was used in a very funny scene in my book “Firehouse 101” so I always remember my trips there in the past when I was doing location spots for my book. Their cream puffs and eclairs are delicious.
I eyed my favorite eclair in the case and bought one immediately ($3.50). I swear it had been at least three or four years since I had had one and they are still the best. They had such a thick layer of chocolate icing on them and filled with the most delicious vanilla cream.
Now being full of sweet snacks, I continued up Court Street to the Brooklyn Court House and then walked back down Fulton Street to the Fulton Street Mall. At this point most of the Fulton Street Mall has been demolished and replaced with new apartment and office buildings. This was part of the Bloomberg Administration’s plan to revitalize downtown Brooklyn with a broader retail selection and replace many of the older buildings.
It is not quite done yet but within five years most of Downtown Brooklyn should be redeveloped. It looks so much different from even two years ago. This was documented in film “My Brooklyn”.
The film on Downtown Brooklyn “My Brooklyn”
It was such a nice afternoon, and I was enjoying the sunshine so much and I had a lot of energy with all the desserts in me, I decided to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, which I have done many times and never tire of looking at the view.
Talk about the perfect afternoon to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. It was clear, sunny and about 70 degrees. It really looked like the tourists were back because people were taking pictures all over the bridge from every angle including ready to fall off the bridge because they were leaning so much over the rails. The view of Lower Manhattan was just spectacular.
By the time I got to the Manhattan side of the bridge, I was starved. I decided that I had the energy to walk to Chinatown which is only a few blocks away from the bridge entrance. By the time I got to Chinatown, it was almost seven in the evening and found that most of the smaller places were closed (it was a weekday). So, I walked all over Mott Street, East Broadway, Catherine Street, Henry Street and the Bowery and decided on an old standby which I love Dim Sum Go Go at 5 East Broadway.
I was hungrier than I thought. I started with Shrimp and Mango Rolls ($5.95), Duck Spring Rolls ($5.95), Pork Soup Dumplings ($6.95) and Steamed Shrimp Dumplings ($5.95). After devouring all of that, I ordered the Pan-Fried Pork and Chive Dumplings ($5.95) and the Steamed Roast Pork Buns ($6.95). Everything was so delicious and fresh and came out steaming hot. Even on a weeknight I was surprised by how full the place was and it seemed that people were ordering more than me.
I especially loved the Shrimp and Mango rolls with the breaded and fried ground shrimp mixture with a piece of fresh mango in the center. It had a nice sweet/savory flavor to it and was fried perfectly golden brown. All of the dumplings were cooked to perfection and the pork and chive dumplings had a nice flavor to them (See review on TripAdvisor).
The Soup Dumplings at Dim Sum Go Go are excellent
By this point it was twilight and just getting dark, but it was still so nice out that I decided I wanted to walk through the East Village to see how busy it was that night and to see how many NYC students were out and about. Plus, I wanted to see if the Anthology Film Center was still open on Second Avenue (it was closed that night). I walked up Second Avenue past all the trendy little restaurants and closed shops which were packed with students. I could not believe how busy the area was this time of night, but it was still in the 60’s and just a nice night to mill around.
By the time I reached 14th Street, I figured I might as well walk back to Port Authority and walked up a combination of Second, Third and then by East 23rd Street, up Lexington Avenue through Kips Bay and ‘Curry Hill’ which I had visited a year ago. All of the Indian restaurants were busy as well and the smells of cumin and curry wafted through the air. I always love walking through this neighborhood.
I walked across East 34th Street and arrived at the doors of Macy’s and Herald Square was just as busy as the rest of Manhattan with people walking around the plazas of Herald and Greeley Squares. Koreatown on West 32nd Street off Broadway was also packed with students and tourists going out to dinner and enjoying the dessert restaurants. The restaurants serving Bubble Teas and Korean Cheesecakes has long lines to them.
I finally arrived at the Port Authority at almost 10:00pm and could not believe how far my journey took me. From the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to the Port Authority. This is the power of wonderful warm weather, a nice evening breeze and good food. It gives you the energy to keep going.
The weather finally broke today, and the sun came out and it warmed up. Now it feels like Spring even with the threat of a snowstorm in a few days. I am just hoping that all we get is rain. The thought of snow with all my daffodils and tulips coming up is too depressing. I figure the weather is getting warmer on the East Coast and we will not have to worry about this.
I was finally able to volunteer in the Soup Kitchen after two years. The days of the buffet lunches is over with COVID going on and we have now switched to a bagged grab and go meal with a to go hot entrée and bagged snacks to go with it. We had to bag over 500 pieces not just for the day but for the next day as well. Five of us got the work done with an hour to spare and we were able to finish by 11:30am.
I had time to visit the Avenues of the Hudson Yards and because there were only two Avenues to visit, it did not take too much time. I spent most of my time avoiding construction sites and dodging vehicles. As I have said in previous blogs in this neighborhood, these blocks are rising like the ‘Land of Oz’ and as each is finished adds to the simmering look of a modern neighborhood encased by the rest of Manhattan. The Hudson Yards is a city amongst itself.
The modern day architecture adds a totally new look to Midtown Manhattan and you should see the views from New Jersey as you exit the Lincoln Tunnel. It looks like a glittering picture with the buildings lit. It reminds me of when I worked in Manhattan before 9/11 and looking at the magnificence of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers at night. This always showed the power of New York City.
The Hudson Yards complex
As I finished my day at the Soup Kitchen, I made my way across West 28th Street passing Chelsea Park. The playground was busy with school children on their recess and parents and guardians watching them. The benches was filled with homeless people who were starting to eat their lunches that we had just served them and talking among themselves. It is sad that this is still a state of affairs in the twenty-first century but I am not sure what the solution is in the era of COVID. I just try to do my part to give people their dignity back.
Still when you reach the edge of the park on Tenth Avenue, it is like walking into another world. Tenth Avenue is lined with art galleries, high end restaurants and luxury homes that are mentioned in the documentary “Class Divide”. Two worlds that co-exist next to one another on the edge of the public housing projects.
“Class Divide” on HBO on West Chelsea/Hudson Yards
Since it was such a beautiful sunny day, I started walking up Eighth Avenue, watching the crowds grow near the new shopping center and make their way to “The Edge” on the top of 30 Hudson Yards. The views from the top must have been thrilling on such a clear sunny day.
The building 30 Hudson Yards was designed by architect Bill Pederson of the firm Kohn Pederson Fox and Associates and is the new home for the WarnerMedia Company and is located at the corner of Tenth Avenue and West 33rd Street. The building is the second tallest building in New York City behind One World Trade Center and has the highest outdoor Observation Deck in the City. The building is taller than the Empire State Building located further down the road at Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street (Related Oxford website).
30 Hudson Yards in the Hudson Yards complex (Wiki)
The observation deck, “The Edge” is located on the 100th floor of the building and offers spectacular views of New York City and New Jersey. It is the highest outdoor observation deck in the City and showcases the innovation in design (Related Oxford/Wiki).
“The Edge” at the top of 30 Hudson Yards (The Edge)
I could see that tourists were finally coming back to Manhattan as the lines are starting to get longer at the site. It is nice to see people visiting New York City again. As I walked past the Hudson Yards Mall, I realized that this was where the Highline started and I made the trip up the stairs to see where this amazing park began.
When I reached the top of the stairs at the platform that covered Tenth Avenue and saw the most unusual sculpture in the middle of the platform. This unique work called “Untitled” looked like an airplane flying over the platform and come to find out it was based on a drone. The work is the artist’s reaction to Drone warfare the US conducts aboard (Wiki/Artist Bio/NY Times).
Artist Sam Durant is an American born multimedia artist whose works deal with social and cultural issues. He has his BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.
‘Untitled’ by Artist Sam Durant is atop the Highline
Artist Sam Durant talks about his sculpture “Untitled”
I walked the Highline from Tenth Avenue down West 30th Street, enjoying the views of the Hudson River ahead of me and the plantings that adorned the sides of the walk. Being such a beautiful sunny day the walkway park was extremely crowded so I just walked closer to the river to enjoy the breezes and then walked back and people watched. The seats above the Tenth Avenue entrance are the perfect place to work on a tan on a sunny day.
I rounded around West 28th Street again dodging all the construction and the construction workers who had stopped to eat their lunches and spread out all over the sidewalks. The one nice thing is that the area is loaded with breakfast and lunch carts offering all sorts of cuisine. The aromas near the construction sites smell of hot chilis, cumin and curry.
While walking up Eleventh Avenue, I passed the Equinox Hotel at 33 Hudson Yards and was faced with the most colorful and creative mural that looked like it was expressing groups of people and the way they live. You really have to walk around the hotel to see the whole work, but the affect is amazing. I found out later this painting was American artist Elle Street Art called “HYxOffTheWall”.
Elle Street Art explains her mural at the Hudson Yards
She wanted to reflect the neighborhood and the diversity of the City. She really wanted to show the positive part of the heart of New York City.
Elle is a New York based Street/Graffiti artist known for her bold statements. She started out as an illegal graffiti artist and over time has built a reputation as one of the top touring street artists which has led to commercial works seen all over the world (Artist bio).
Next to the hotel in the same courtyard where the rest of the Hudson Yards surrounds is the impressive “Vessel” work, one of the cornerstone designs of the Hudson Yards and a signature building. It sits like an impressive statue in the middle of a group of skyscrapers.
The Vessel was designed by architect Thomas Heatherwick in a honeycomb like structure that consists of sixteen stories, a hundred and fifty-four flights of stairs, twenty-five hundred steps and eighty landings to stop at and observe the view. It is known as TKA (Temporarily Known As) for the structure’s name (Wiki). The structure was opened in 2016 and has recently closed for viewing because of visitor issues.
I walked around the complex to admire the structure and look at its beauty. It has such unusual look to it almost like a puzzle that is opening up to the sky. It looks like it shot up from the ground which is what makes it so unique.
Architect Thomas Heatherwick describing “The Vessel”
After I left the core of the Hudson Yards complex, I visited the 37th Street Food Market for lunch. What I liked about this deli was the outdoor dining tables which are nice to eat at on a sunny day. They are located on the side of the building in a small area of the sidewalk surrounded by plants and lighting. It is a very pleasant place to eat meals.
I ordered a Chicken Parmesan Panini that was pretty good. The sandwich was filled with chopped chicken cutlets and topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella. The sandwich was then pressed, and it served with a side of sauce. It was delicious.
The seating area of Food Market in the warmer weather
The Food Market also has a nice selection of groceries and snacks and it’s a big place for the local residents to meet and one of the few places in the neighborhood to get these items until you walk over to Eighth Avenue.
I finished the walk walking around up Eighth Avenue and the Upper Part of the Hudson Yards around West 40th Street revisiting some of the streets I had seen in twilight just a week earlier. They seemed less ominous on a sunny day and did not have the shady characters standing around under the underpasses to the Port Authority. Just watch yourself at night walking around this part of the neighborhood.
As I have said before, the Hudson Yards is a neighborhood in transition, and it will be several years before all of these buildings are finished. The effect will be amazing in that they are building a City within a City and it will change this part of Manhattan in the future.
The Hudson Yards are an amazing place!
New York City just keeps morphing even in the Pandemic years!
Please read my other blogs on walking the Lower Part of the Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
Day Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight-Walking the Borders of the Lower Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
Well, I finally returned to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen after an over two-year absence. The last time I had been there as you may have read from my blogs from 2020 was March 8th, 2020, the week before the country shut down before COVID hit New York City. These were the days when we were serving almost a seven hundred people a day (the numbers today are even higher) a hot sit-down meal. Now everything is to go.
I worked in Social Services, and I helped people with their mail, find clothes, get them hair cut vouchers and give them toiletries. They had me running all morning and I was pooped when I was finished. Still, it was nice to feel needed again and it was such a pleasure to see old familiar faces that I had not seen in two years.
When I started the walk of the lower Hudson Yards, I never thought of the neighborhood changes just on this border. You go from the Lower Garment District to Hudson Yards to Chelsea just in a block. The lines are getting blurred thanks to the real estate agents. This area was once solidly Chelsea now it is becoming part of Hudson Yards as the neighborhood is fast developing.
What I did learn from walking the neighborhood was more about the history of The Church of the Holy Apostles. The Church of the Holy Apostles was built between 1845 to 1848 and was designed by architect Minard Lafever with the stained-glass windows designed by William Jay Bolton (Wiki).
The church has always been progressive, and it was rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. The church had been an extension of the Trinity Church downtown for the working-class people in the area. Now it also runs the second largest Soup Kitchen in the United States. The biggest is in San Francisco (Wiki).
The Church of the Holy Apostles at 296 Ninth Avenue feels like a second home to me
It was also convenient in that it was where I needed to start my walk on the edge of West 28th Street where the church is located right across from Chelsea Park south of the northern section of Hudson Yards and right across from the Lower Garment District (please read my blogs on walking these parts of Manhattan as well).
What I never noticed in the almost 17 years that I have been volunteering at the Soup Kitchen was that it was a park. Chelsea Park is located across the street at the corner of Ninth Avenue and between West 28th and 27th Streets. I had always thought this was part of P.S. 33, the elementary school next door complex. There is a whole separate park behind that corner.
Chelsea Park extends all the way to Tenth Avenue with soccer and basketball courts and places for people to not just run but relax under the blanket of trees in the summer. Facing Ninth Avenue in a small courtyard is the statue of the ‘Chelsea Doughboy’.
The statute was designed to honor the war veterans of WWI. The term “Doughboy” no one is too sure where it originated. Some think from the fried dough dumplings that the soldiers eat or maybe from the way their uniforms looked which were a little baggy or from the dough clay that they used to clean their uniforms (NYCParks.org).
Artist Philip Martiny was a French born American artist who settled in New York when he immigrated here in 1878. He was a contemporary of artist August Saint-Gaudens and known for his decorative styles in the Beaux-Arts fashion. He created many sculptures for buildings in New York City and Washington DC (Wiki).
I walked past Chelsea Park on the way to Tenth Avenue and walked all along the borders of the park. The park is becoming a homeless encampment. I have not seen anything like this since Mayor Guiliani closed Thompkins Square Park in the East Village and then fenced it off to the homeless and renovated it. There were people sleeping all over the place even by the small playground that the kids were playing in. It really is beginning to show the state of the City now. The bathrooms were even locked to the patrons.
The track area was pretty much empty and what was really a shocker is how the neighborhood again changes at the Tenth Avenue border. This part of the neighborhood has gotten extremely expensive that was documented in the documentary “Class Divide” on the changes of the neighborhood due to the Highline.
“Class Divide” by HBO. The sound is muted but you can see it with subtitles
On the other side of Chelsea Park is some of the newest and most expensive real estate in Manhattan, a lot due to the Highline. The Highline is an elevated walkway that starts on West 30th Street and extends to West 19th Street and has in recent years set the tone for this part of the neighborhood.
The Highline Park was created from a remnant of the former New York Central railroad spur that was elevated above the roads below. In 2006, there was a neighborhood effort to save it and create an urban park. Now the 1.45-mile park supplies an elevated greenery above the neighborhood which has created expensive real estate on all sides of the park (Wiki).
The Highline Park was designed by James Corner Field Operations, Piet Oudolf and Diller, Scofidio and Renfro.
As I passed the Highline Park, I passed the most unusually designed building at 520 West 28th Street. The building is a residential complex known as the Zaha Hadid Building after the architect who designed it Zaha Hadid. It was one of her only residential complexes that she designed and one of the last buildings she created before her death. The building is designed with curvilinear geometric motifs (Wiki).
520 West 28th Street-The Zaha Hadid Building (Streeteasy.com)
You will be passing a lot of construction going on by the time you get to Twelve Avenue. Buildings are being renovated and rebuilt and all new buildings are popping up on the edge of this now very trendy neighborhood. What was once dock yards and parking lots is becoming high end office buildings for “Silicon Alley” as the Tech industry is called in New York City.
At the end of the block is Hudson River Park, a strip of green park created on this side of Manhattan under the Bloomberg Administration (God are we now missing those years!). This little strip of park at the end of West 28th Street has some interesting views of Edgewater, NJ. The afternoon I visited the park, there were a few joggers and dog walkers making their way through the park. The strip gets smaller along Twelve Avenue until you walk to about West 42nd Street by the Circle Line boat ride.
As you enter the park, there is a very unusual set of sculptures entitled ‘Two Too Large Tables’ by artists Allan and Ellen Wexler. Two Too Large Tables consists of two elements. Each is constructed of brushed stainless steel and Ipe wood.
One piece has thirteen chairs extended up to become columns that raise sixteen square feet plane seven feet off the ground. In the second piece, the same chairs act as supporters to lift a sixteen square feet plane 30 inches off the ground. The first functions as a shade pavilion, the second as a community table. As people sit, they become part of the sculpture. People sitting together, forming unusual pairings because of the chair groupings (Artist bio).
Two Too Large Tables in Hudson River Park (Artist bio)
Artist Allen Wexler is an American born artist from Connecticut and studied at Rhode Island School of Design where he received his BFA and BS in Architecture. He studied and earned his MS in Architecture from the Pratt Institute. He is known for his multiple disciplines in art (Wiki).
The trip up Twelve Avenue is less than exciting. There is a tiny strip of park along the river that is mostly behind fencing. On the other side of the street is construction holes and fences from all the planned buildings that will start raising along the avenue.
The one place where there was some action was BLADE Operations at the Hudson River Park where helicopters were flying in. It reminded me of the opening scene of the Peter Bogdanovich film “They All Laughed” that I had just seen at the retrospect of the director’s work at the MoMA.
“They All Laughed” trailer by Peter Bogdanovich is a true Manhattan film
I arrived back at Javits Center by the mid-afternoon. As I rounded West 34th Street at Twelve Avenue and passed the empty Javits Center in front of me like the mythical land of Oz was the Hudson Yards, a series of new office and apartment buildings including an upscale mall. It is just breathtaking when the sun hits all the buildings with its brilliance of the reflection of the sun. It also offers really nice public bathrooms that are open throughout the day.
West 34th Street is in the middle of major construction changes as the Hudson Yards complex spills over to almost Seventh Avenue now as old buildings from the Garment District and over the rail yards are being replaced by shiny new office and apartment complexes bringing in new businesses and residents into what was once a barren area after 5:00pm. The whole look of the neighborhood is changing.
The Hudson Yards development
I walked to Bella Abzug Park, which was being partially renovated at the time and walked through the three sections from block to block. Part of the park is being renovated but the other parts look like they are ready to open in the warmer weather with cafes and seating. The park spreads over three blocks that are fully landscaped.
Bella Abzug Park with the Hudson Yards rising like Oz in the background during the summer months (NYCParks.org). The park was named after famous activist and politician Bella Abzug.
One thing stuck out as I got to the edge of the park and that was a giant red apple with seating in it. What looks like an elaborate bus stop is a work of art done by artist Felix Marzell. It looks like a place to sit and relax while waiting for the next bus.
‘The Big Apple” by Artist Felix Marzell (Gone as of December 2022)
I was surprised that such a talented artist did not have much written about his early life or schooling, but I can see that he has moved around a lot and has many talents.
Please watch his video (in French) about Industrial Design
As you cross over West 34th Street where bridge covers the highway, there is an interesting piece of art entitled “Art by Ashley”, which is a colorful display on the cement barriers protecting the road. The work was done by New York based artist Ashley-Simone McKenzie. Her works spread to the barriers all around the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.
The work was created by Queens based artist Ashley-Simone McKenzie who is an educator and multidisciplined in paintings, illustration and animation.
Watch her interview on this interesting piece of art
Her work on the barrier of West 34th Street
I admired the beauty if St. Michael Roman Catholic Church at 424 West 34th Street. I needed to relax and get some time in spiritually during the walk. Seeing all the problems that the City is facing at this time, I needed some time to reflex. It is such a beautiful church inside with the elegant pews and large pipe organ.
The church parish was founded in 1857 and the first building was built between 1861 and finished in 1868. It was destroyed by fire in 1892. A new structure was built but that was torn down in 1904 with the building of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The current structure was designed by architect Napoleon LeBrun & Sons in the Romanesque style using some of the previous buildings artistic details with stonework and the stain glass windows (Wiki).
St. Michael Roman Catholic Church at 424 West 34th Street