I had been shopping in the Boscov’s Department Store in Woodbridge Center in Woodbridge, NJ recently and I walked into their Candy Department on the second floor to admire all their candy selections.
The shelves were ladened with products from Hershey’s Easter candies which rang true for a department store company based in Pennsylvania. So many wonderful food companies are based in the Lancaster and surrounding communities.
On one table I eyed one of my favorite holiday treats on the display table near the register, a decorated butter cream Easter Egg by the Lerro’s Candy Company. The beautifully decorated egg came in two sizes, and I preferred the larger one that would last until Easter morning.
This sweet Easter Egg was nicely decorated with all sorts of flowers and edible embellishments. The center of…
Shane Confectionery at 110 Market Street in Philadelphia
What can I say about this little chocolate/candy store in the heart of Old Town Philadelphia? It is so charming and welcoming and a step back into time when buying candy was a luxury treat. The store looks like a jewelry store for candies with a wide aisle, wrought iron glass cases and overhanging lights that gas jets once lit the store (now electric). Still the store looks like something from the turn of the last century.
The interior of Shane Confectionery has not change since the turn of the last century
They were preparing for the Halloween holidays when I visited in the early Fall but I was looking at all the interesting handmade candies, made inhouse. All the trays of chocolate filled candies…
On a recent trip to Philadelphia for the Cornell versus Penn Football Game (We won!), I had on my bucket list a series of small museums that I wanted to visit. One of them was the Museum of the American Revolution at 101 South 3rd Street in Old Town Philadelphia.
What was supposed to be a two-hour visit ended up being almost four hours of fascinating artifacts, paintings, murals, flags, ammunition and cold hard facts about the Revolutionary War and its beginnings, battles and finally peace.
My first stop in the museum was the exhibition “Liberty: Don Troiani’s Paintings of the Revolutionary War” which showed the artists interpretations of the historical battles and occurrences that took…
I came across this interesting little historical museum when I was touring Elfreth’s Alley in Old Town, Philadelphia. What an interesting look back at the merchant trade class of the 18th century. It really showed how the average worker used both their home as a business and as a home. The home had been former business of a pair of dressmakers who used the front parlor as their store and showroom, the side room used as the kitchen, the upstairs room was the living quarters for a very large family (I believe that the family had eight children according to the tour guide) and a nice sized garden in the back of the home.
I visited the Betsy Ross House Museum when touring the small museums of Old Town Philadelphia. What an interesting historical site. You felt like you were invited into Betsy Ross’s house by Betsy Ross herself.
The house and museum is broken up into different sections. When you walk into the museum complex, you will get to visit a very patriotic gift shop stocked with Revolutionary War memorabilia. Out side the gift shop is the formal gardens and the courtyard which is a nice place to relax and enjoy the weather.
When you enter the house, you will be able to visit all the rooms of the house and the kitchen area on the lower level…
I took some time out of ‘MywalkinManhattan” and decided to head down to Philadelphia to see the annual Philadelphia Flower Show. The gloom and cold of the winter was driving me crazy and I needed a change of scene. The trip was a spur of the moment decision with an excellent package deal with the tickets and hotel. I had not made my usual trip at Christmas and having a cheesesteak fix, off I went. The theme of the show this year was “Flower Power” for the anniversary of Woodstock. It was everything 60’s man.
Just packing for the overnight, I worked in the Soup Kitchen that morning. We had a busy day on the Bread station as usual and I was exhausted when I got to Penn Station. I could not check into the hotel until four that afternoon so I was in no rush. That is what I love about taking the Acela to Philly, you get there in record time and it is a smooth ride down with not many stops.
It was a little gloomy when I got down to Philly that afternoon but still I enjoy the walk from the train station to Center City. Penn Station is always cheerful though and it is nice to walk around the station and look at the architecture of the building and the ongoing renovations that preserve the structure. I walked around a little to see if any new restaurants had opened and then the long walk to Center City Philadelphia, which takes me a whopping twenty minutes to walk. It is a straight line right to the hotel.
When I visit Philly I like to stay in the downtown area to be close to the museums and Chinatown and this time I stayed at the Courtyard Hotel (See review on TripAdvisor) right across the street from City Hall and around the corner from Macy’s Center City (the old Wanamaker’s Department Store). What I like about the Courtyard is not just its location but the rooms are large and they have the best mattresses that are firm yet soft and you get the best night’s sleep on.
Dropping off my luggage, I made a b-line to the Reading Market. The one thing I love about the Market is the wonderful food that you can get that you can’t find in New York City or in Northern New Jersey. What I mean by that is you can a cheesesteak in New Jersey but not the way you get one in Philly with the thin little steaks and Cheese Wiz at Carmine’s and you can get a good doughnut but not a Beiler’s Apple filled with cinnamon icing the way they make it. They are prepared for people from Philly not from New York. Every time I want a Cheesesteak in New York, they want to make some upscale Steak sandwich. I like the real thing.
A real Philly cheesesteak
So off I went to start my lunch feast at the Reading Terminal Market (See review on TripAdvisor) at Carmine’s Famous Italian Hoagie’s and Cheesesteaks at 51 North 12th Street (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for my favorite sandwich, a cheesesteak loaded with Cheese Wiz ($8.00). I swear when you bite into that soft roll and keep going there is nothing like it. It is the combination of the caramelized meat and the sharp cheese is delicious and washed down with a Coke, it is the best.
For dessert, I had two things. I went to Beiler’s Bakery and Bassett’s Ice Cream, both in the Reading Market around the corner from Carmine’s. I had one of Beiler’s apple filled jelly doughnuts with a thick cinnamon icing on it ($1.25) and it is delicious. Beiler’s fries all their doughnuts and then hand fill them with homemade fillings. The sweetness of the fresh apples and the thick glaze give it a fantastic taste.
At Bassett’s Ice Cream, I had a craving for their homemade Cookies & Cream Ice Cream on a cone ($6.75) and even though it was my second dessert it was well worth it. The ice cream has a high count of butterfat which makes it creamer and they load it up with pieces of cookie in it. Everyone just looked at me with the big smile on my face walking out of Reading Market eating that cone. It was so rich and good!
Now that my cravings were fulfilled and I had walked all over the Market checking out the other foods, I decided it was time to walk off the lunch and I headed to the Philadelphia Art Museum (See review on TripAdvisor). Since I am a member of the Newark Museum (See my review on VisitingaMuseum.com and TripAdvisor), we have a reciprocal program with the museum and I can get in for free.
I had not been to the museum since the previous Christmas I had wanted to see how the renovations were coming along and see two of the exhibitions at would be closing the next week, “Fabulous Fashions: From Dior’s New Look to Now” and “Little Ladies: Victorian Fashion Dolls and the the Feminine Ideal”. Both of which were excellent. The one thing I like about the Philadelphia Museum as opposed to the Met is that they don’t over-whelm you with the exhibition. The show is long enough to enjoy but not long enough where it over-loads you with information.
The “Fabulous Fashions” exhibition was really interesting in that it showed how fashion changed since the end of World War II. The exhibit covered fashions from the “A” look to more modern garments that show the comfort a woman expected from designers then and now. It was a series of dresses on mannequins that showed the progress of this over the years.
Dior Show at the Philadelphia Art Museum
“Little Ladies: Victorian Fashion Dolls” exhibition was centered around the ideal of the Victorian woman that girls would see in their mothers and the women that surrounded them. The dolls represented the fashions and mood of the time and preparing young girls for marriage and motherhood and the ideal values of life. It is amazing to see the change of attitude in just a hundred years. It was not just what the dolls were it was what they represented in way of fashion and accessories but in the attitude of the times. Everyone knew their place and played the role as best they could in the values of the times.
Victorian Wedding Doll
Both were interesting to walk around and explore what the curators were trying to convey. The Philadelphia Art Museum does a nice job mounting their exhibitions and since they were not the huge over-whelming exhibitions of other museums, it gave me the rest of the evening to explore the museum.
On Friday nights, the museum has live entertainment and I sat on the stairs inside the courtyard of the museum and listened to the jazz combo while I watched everyone eating at the museum’s restaurant that surrounded the stairs. It was an evening of cocktails and music for most of the patrons. I was still stuffed from lunch so I just sat back and relaxed and listened to the music. I highly recommend Friday nights (they are open until 8:45pm) at the Philadelphia Art Museum with their late night music concerts. It is a relaxing way to spend the evening.
On the way back to the museum, I all of a sudden got hungry. It was getting colder out and I did not want to explore all around Chinatown at 8:30pm at night. I remembered this tiny noodle and dumpling restaurant by the bus terminal near the convention center and decided to stop there. It had been four years since I ate there so I was not sure if it was even there any more. Not only was it there but it had doubled in size over the years.
Tom’s Dim Sum at 59 North 11th Street (See review on TripAdvisor) in downtown Philly used to be this tiny hole in the wall restaurant but popularity of the place made it expand. Even this late at night the place was mobbed with people slurping noodle soups and soup dumplings. The TV crowd was going strong with the games.
Tom’s Dim Sum
I was still a little stuffed because of the cheesesteak so I ordered soup dumplings, roast pork buns and Wonton soup to warm it up. The food is just a good as I remembered. The soup dumplings ($5.95) were juicy filled with nicely spiced ground pork and it was fun slurping them down. The Roast Pork buns ($4.95) were filled with a sweet pork mixture and steamed perfectly. The Wonton Soup ($2.95) finished off the meal nicely with the rich broth that was warming me up after the long walk.
The Soup Dumplings here are excellent!
What I liked best about the restaurant was the excitement of the games even though they were not my teams. The whole restaurant had a lot of energy and it does not come off as your average Chinese restaurant just off Chinatown.
By the time I got back to the room at 10:00pm, I was exhausted. Between both jobs, the Soup Kitchen, my writing and running around with the Fire Department, I was pooped. Thank God that the restaurant was so close to the hotel. Still it gave me a chance to admire the windows at Macy’s before heading back to the hotel room. This part of downtown Philadelphia rolls up its sleeves right after 5:00pm.
I did not get much done at the hotel even though I brought all my work. The moment that I took a shower and got changed and sat down to read a book, I decided to just shut the light off for a bit and relax. I woke up at eight in the morning the next day getting almost nine hours of sleep in. That’s how comfortable the bed was in the room.
The next morning, after I got ready, I packed up and checked my luggage and headed off to Reading Terminal Market again before I left for the Flower Show. I had breakfast at the Dutch Eating Place (See reviews on both TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com), where I love to go for breakfast and lunch when I visit Philadelphia. The place was mobbed and it seems that everyone wanted to eat there because the place was about ten deep. Everyone wanted to have breakfast before the show started.
The Dutch Eating Place in the Reading Terminal Market
I was able to snag a seat immediately being one person and dove into breakfast, my favorite meal of the day. I had the Apple Cinnamon French Toast ($4.75) and a side of sausage ($2.75) and scrambled eggs ($1.25). It was one of those meals that transcend eating to a new place because it was so good I wanted to lick the plate.
The French Toast was made with freshly baked bread and freshly churned butter and the sausage was made from their own butchers and been spiced and smoked perfectly. It was one of the best breakfasts I had in a long time. The best part was that everyone who works there is so nice. It is so much fun to eat there that I highly recommend it when in Philly.
Don’t miss the Apple Cinnamon French Toast
I got to the Flower Show just as it opened which was nice and the crowds moved quickly through security. It was the first day so people were very excited about it. Once inside, everyone headed left to see all the floral displays while I headed right and walked through the vendor booths. I swear there must have been a record number of people selling everything from gardening supplies to maple syrup. There were even wine merchants sampling local wines. It thought it was a little much for the Flower Show.
Just as the crowds started to shift to the vendors, I made my way through the show and went through the Philadelphia Horticultural Plant Competition where an array of flowers were being displayed, from tulips and orchids bloomed and roses were on parade. They even had a Children’s section where the kids could compete and this was some contest. These gardeners took this very seriously and the blue ribbon meant something.
I finally made my way over to the flower displays which never stopped being crowded. I swear the crowds kept pouring in all day. I was most impressed by the 60’s commune display by Mark Cook Landscape & Nursery and Hunter Hayes Landscape and Design. They must have teamed up to put this display together because it was pretty detailed.
The jeep in the display
Also on display in a spray of flowers and design was elegant bridge by Burke Brothers Landscape Design/Build that was multi layered with flowers and colors. It made quite the statement.
The colorful bridge of flowers
Around the corner from the displays, there were many competitors who were working in teams creating flower design displays and you got to see first hand their creations. People had come from all over the world to compete in this contest so you got to see how the country culture shaped the design with more elaborate displays from the Americans to the simplistic elegance of the Japanese. Many different designs with a multitude of flowers.
Yet it was all about ‘Flower Power’ and I had to take several laps around the displays before the crowds got to me. I swear I spent so much time looking over the merchant vendors that I felt like the displays were being crowded out. There did not seem like as many of the big displays as before. Still I walked this section more slowly getting bumped around by the crowds of people entering the Convention Center that were getting larger.
Still it is about ‘Flower Power’
Tiring of the crowds and having a long trip home, I left the show after about four hours of touring the displays and contests. I went through the travel and tourist areas where a lot of Jersey shore towns were displaying their tour guides. I got some ideas for small trips down the shore before Memorial Day Weekend.
After touring the whole show, I left the convention center before I headed home. I really wanted some lunch. I had had Chinese food the night before and was not much interested about eating it again. There is one annoying fact about Philadelphia’s Chinatown, most restaurants don’t take credit cards and I hate using cash. So it was back to the Dutch Eating Place for lunch and a Hot Turkey Sandwich ($8.25).
That was delicious! It was layers of freshly cooked turkey on fresh white bread with a side of real mashed potatoes topped with a thick turkey gravy with a side of cranberry sauce and Cole slaw. The waiter and everyone around me could see the joy in my face and the ‘mmms’ I let out with each bite. Lunch there is a pleasure.
The hot turkey sandwich at the Dutch Eating Place
After a short walk around Chinatown again to work off lunch, it was time to go home. I had to stop back at the hotel and pick up my luggage. I made one last trip around the Reading Market and stopped at Miller’s Twist (51 North Street) for a fresh pretzel ($1.25). They are so soft and buttery and chewy with each bite. I don’t know where my appetite came from but in the end I think I was more excited about the food at Reading Terminal Market than I was about the Flower Show.
It was a nice overnight trip with great food, wonderful hospitality in the restaurants and lots of beautiful flowers showing their “Flower Power”. Philadelphia is a great walking city and there is lots to do and see in a small space of a few blocks. I will be back in a few months for the Cornell-Penn football game and then, oh darn, I will have to make my way over the Reading Terminal Market for breakfast again.
Sometimes the pleasure of life comes in the small things.
To all of my readers and fellow bloggers following my blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. I created two more blog sites to accompany the main site.
I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ to take what I have discovered on the walk around the city and put it into more detail.
I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ to feature all the small and medium museums, pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that I have found along the way in my walking the streets of the island and in the outlining areas of Manhattan. There are loads of sites you can easily miss either by not visiting the neighborhoods by foot or not consulting a guidebook. Most of the these places are not visited by most residents of the City and should not be missed.
I never realized how many small museums exist in New York City, let alone the outer boroughs and in New Jersey. I have discovered so many wonderful and interesting artifacts in these museums that not only have so much historical value but they also deal with local history.
Gallery Bergen at Bergen Community College
There are so many pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that you would miss if you did not walk the neighborhoods. What has also been fascinating about it is the people you meet along the way that volunteer in these facilities. There is so much pride to be had by these local residents dedicating their time to make these places successful.
‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ is my latest site:
I am featuring and promoting wonderful local restaurants that I have found along the way when doing the walk as well as places I have recently visited outside the city for $10.00 and below. I am not just featuring them for their price but for the quality of the food, the selection and the portion size.
Delicious Dumplings at ‘Dumplings’ on Henry Street
These little ‘hole in the wall’ dining establishments offer a good meal at a fair price as well as supporting the local economy. I have a very limited budget for meals and thought this blog site would help all of you economize when touring New York City and the outlying regions. I cross reference my reviews on TripAdvisor.com.
For anyone thinking of doing a similar project like ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’, I want to let you know how expensive it is to do. I have to pay not just for bus tickets, subway passes, meals, donations to museums and historical sites but the general wear and tear on my clothes. I am on my third pair of sneakers due to this walk. This is why you need to set a budget for it:
Please check out my fire fighting blog sites, ‘The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association’, ‘tbcfma.Wordpress.com’, where I am blogging about the activities of the association that I am volunteering for at the home on a quarterly basis and the support that the organization gives to The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, New Jersey. Firemen for all over Bergen County, where I live, volunteer their time up at the nursing home with activities to engage and cheer up our fellow fire fighters.
The second site about fire fighting I blog about is ‘The Brothers of Engine One Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department”, ‘EngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartmentNJ.Wordpress.com’, where I blog about the activities of Engine Company One, in which I am a member, as part of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. We do a lot of volunteer work for the department and many of our members are very active and hold a lot of positions on the department.
The Brothers of Engine One HHFD (site now closed-Blogs moved to section of MywalkinManhattan.com called “My life as a Fireman”):
The most frequented of my blogs is “BergenCountyCaregiver.com’, a caregivers blog site to help adult caregivers take care of their loved ones. This helps caregivers navigate a very broken system and put all sorts of programs that might help them all in one place to read and chose what might help them. This deals with county, state and federal programs that most social workers miss because there are so many of them that don’t get a lot of attention. It is by far the most popular site.
The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association
I wanted to share these with my readers and thank you for following my main blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. Please also share this with your friends who are visiting New York City to really tour the city by foot and see it for its own beauty and uniqueness.
I put my walk in Manhattan aside for the day and walked the streets of Philadelphia, PA for my annual trip on the Acela to visit the ‘City of Brotherly Love’. I go down to Philly twice a year on purpose for my cheesesteak fix at Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagie’s Cheesesteaks and to have Beiler’s Doughnuts and Basset’s Ice Cream, foods that you just can’t replicate in New York City or New Jersey. Not the way they do it. This requires a trip on the Acela to the Reading Terminal Market downtown.
During the holiday season, I also like to see the light show at Macy’s (which I still call Wanamaker’s) and visit the tree at City Hall. Philadelphia has its own magic at holidays. There is such a beautiful holiday market that surrounds City Hall with all sorts of artisan crafted foods and handmade products. There was a slew of singers, actors and musicians that were entertaining the public.
The City Hall Christmas Tree may not be as big as the one in New York but no less nice. It was beautifully decorated and at twilight, covered with colorful lights. A lot of people were taking pictures around it or were getting ready to skate around the makeshift skating rink. It is not Rockefeller Center, but the affect was just as nice, and it really did put me in the Christmas spirit.
The first part of my trip was to see the light show at Macy’s next to City Hall. I still have a hard time calling it Macy’s considering it was the old Wanamaker’s store since its inception. This beautiful grand dame of the department store industry was so much nicer when it was Wanamaker’s.
Macy’s Center City Philadelphia-The old Wanamaker’s Department Store
There were beautiful restaurants, luxury departments and it was always nicely decorated for the holidays. Macy’s does a nice job, but it was a different store in the 80’s and early 90’s. I still see traces of the old store in the movie “Mannequin”.
The movie trailer for “Mannequin” was shot at the store in 1986
The famous opening scene that was shot in front of the old Wanamaker Department Store
I have seen the light show about five times now and I know I can see the whole thing on YouTube, but it is still fun to see it live in the store and hear the organist play the famous pipe organ. It really is an exciting show. I love the music and I love the way they display the story line. Julie Andrews does a nice job narrating the story.
It is such a colorful program with all the lights and music. I love it when she says, “Farewell Frosty” to Frosty the Snowman. The crowds are huge and all over the main level, so if you go see it in the future get there early. The light show is only during the holiday season so take the special trip out to see it. It is only about twenty minutes long but still it is one of the things I look forward to seeing.
This is one of the nicest shots of the show I could find online:
The Macy’s Christmas Show in the rotunda of the store
My main purpose and then I made a B-line to be the Reading Terminal Market for lunch. Somehow there are just regions where you cannot replicate the foods from that area. Philly is one of those places. I had not been to the city since the spring, and I needed my serious cheesesteak fix and the best place to do that in the downtown area is Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies & Cheesesteaks.
The Reading Market Terminal for all those wonderful restaurants
Located in the center of the Reading Terminal Market, which is only about two blocks from City Hall, Carmen’s has some of the best sandwiches in the city. I have my usual plain Cheesesteak with Cheese Wiz.
Inside the Reading Market Terminal by Carmine’s
Sorry New York City, we do a lot of things great up here but cheesesteaks like this are not one of them. They load a fresh, soft chewy hoagie bun up with thin sliced steaks and then load that up with loads of Cheese Wiz. Biting into that sandwich is heaven on earth and I enjoy every bite of it. It is always funny to see the staff watch me enjoy my sandwich and the guy that looks like the owner likes it that I enjoy it so much (See TripAdvisor review). It is also fun to talk to the other guests because they come here from all over for the same reason.
Carmine’s at North 51 12th Street for Cheesesteaks is great!
My next part of the trip was to Beiler’s Bakery, which has some of the best doughnuts in the world. These little gems are so beautifully displayed and are constantly being refilled that I do not think that there is a stale doughnut ever in that case. The line wrapped around the counter.
Don’t miss the selection of doughnuts at Beiler’s at 51 North 12th Street
It is fun to watch the doughnuts fried out in front of you and then cooled on the racks. Then each doughnut is hand filled and glazed right in front of the customers behind the glass. All of their fillings are hand-made and are oh so good. I had a strawberry glazed with what tasted like fresh strawberry jelly and I had a peppermint cream filled doughnut that was a specialty for the holidays that had just a hint of the peppermint sweetness. It was a hard choice though. I could have eaten a dozen but you have to be good here (See TripAdvisor review).
After lunch was over it was off to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the “Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism 1910-1950”, which was well-worth the trip. You don’t get to see much of this art in New York museums or just on a smaller scale than this. The exhibition showed such a wide range of art from the traditional landscapes to cubism and the modern person. I liked the way the way that the curator set the exhibit up. It jumped around and as it flowed you saw the art from many perspectives. I advise readers in the New York area to take a trip down to see this exhibition.
Philadelphia Art Museum at 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
I walked around the city after my museum visit and saw all the different holiday displays downtown. Philly really is a pretty city and the downtown has been much improved in the last ten years. It is so much more vibrant and safer than in years past.
Before I took the train back up to New York City, I took one more stop at the Reading Market to go to Basset’s Ice Cream for a cone and stop at Beiler’s Bakery across from their doughnut stand to take some baked goods home. I can’t get Shoofly pie or proper moon pies at home.
Again the place was still so busy and I was able to load up on Whoopie Pies, Shoofly Pie and Sweet Rolls for the trip home and some Whoopie Pies for my aunt who needed some cheering up. They are so well-baked and delicious I wanted to eat them there. Everyone at the stand was so patient with me as I had to make my decisions. Add in a few fry pies and I was done for the day (See review on TripAdvisor).
Next was off to Basset’s Ice Cream for a cone for my walk back to the station. I settled on the holiday Eggnog flavor (Yum) and the Pomegranate and Blueberry flavor (unusual and worked). On a fresh waffle cone there is nothing like it even in the winter. Everyone I passed saw the huge smile on my face and made comments about eating ice cream in the winter. Sorry folks, there is nothing like ice cream with butter fat in it to make a man smile (See review on TripAdvisor). It was a great walk back to the train station. All the lights went on in downtown and the City Hall Market looked even more festive.
Basset’s Ice Cream at 45 North 12th Street at the Reading Terminal Market
The train station was beautifully decorated with lights, wreaths and a huge tree and it was nice to just sit back and relax until the train came. On the way back, the city was all lite in front of me. The boat houses on the river were lit with Christmas lights and boats passed by lit up as well.
The latter part of the evening when I got back to New York City was a quick trip to the Met to see their Christmas Tree and an evening of looking at the windows of Barney’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. I took a quick trip through the holiday market in Bryant Park and then to Port Authority. It really was the perfect day to get into the holiday mood.
I took some time off this weekend to be a supportive Alumni. Michigan State was playing Ohio State at home but I took the train down to Philly to go to the see the Penn vs Cornell game.
I don’t get down to Philly the number of times that I would like to and I take the train when I need my cheese steak fix. New York City is known for so many cuisines but no one I can find can make a cheesesteak like Carmine’s in the Reading Market. You just can’t seem to get a good Cheesesteak in New Jersey or New York City unless someone is from Philly. So, I made my pilgrimage to Philly for a football game and a sandwich.
In 2015, I lucked out too. The day of the game it was a beautiful warm afternoon and the last time I went to Philly for the Penn vs Cornell game it was cloudy and cold being the end of November. This year we are having a surprisingly warm Fall. In 2015, the game was a complete bust as Penn walked all over us. In 2021, both teams were pathetic but we were able to squeak by with a win of 15-12. Both games were not that good.
Cornell versus Penn in 2015
In both years, what really annoyed the Cornell Alumni was that they closed off the other half of the stadium for “construction purposes”, a fancy way of saying that they did not want to clean up the whole stadium after the game was over with so we had to sit with the Penn Alumni who we outnumbered like we did the Yale Alumni in their own stadium a few months earlier. It did not make much of a difference as our team has had a terrible season coupled with the only win over Columbia and that was with a field goal. Both years we were freezing under the awning of the stadium while the other side of the stadium was nice and sunny.
Penn was no better. Most of our Alumni went to the far reaches of the stadium as the blood-bath started and by the second half, we started to turn things around but it was too little too late. We caught up somewhat in the second half but still lost the game 34-21. So much for another Cornell season.
Before the game made up for it. It was nice to walk around Philly in the nice weather. We had an Alumni tailgate a few blocks from the stadium and we have a really good band. Like Michigan State (one of my four Alma Maters), even when the season is at its worst, Cornell Alumni are really supportive, so it was nice to listen to the music before the game. They started to march down to the stadium while I was touring around the Penn campus.
University of Pennsylvania facing downtown Philadelphia
Before the game, I got to walk around the Penn Campus which is really nice for a city campus. You would never know you were in a section of downtown Philly. The stadium itself is really nice. One of the more traditional stadiums in the Ivy League which is sadly never filled with Penn students and alumni. For a team that just shared the Ivy League title they are constantly being outnumbered by supportive Cornell Alumni who out cheer them every season. You should have seen the game two years ago, a nail biter that went down to the last play in which we upset them by one point.
Although not the game of the century, for us at Cornell it was the big game. We filled a big portion of our side of the stadium while the home team seemed to drift in when they wanted to that afternoon. Their Alumni seem to have gotten a little more supportive in the last two years.
The best part of the afternoon was not the game itself or the cheering fans, it was the food vendor located outside Franklin Field in on non-descript truck. These Greek gentleman (as they proudly told me when I asked if they were Italian) made one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten for only $4.00, compared to the highway robbery of $9.00 in the stadium.
The Chicken Philly Cheese steak and their homemade Meatball subs on a fresh chewy hoagie roll when heaven on earth. Maybe it was the quality of the meat, the freshness of the bread or just the way it all came together with their friendly personalities but that experience really made the game. The truck is located outside the stadium and I don’t know if it is there all the time but if you are in Philly, flock to this truck which is one block from the Penn Museum. The meatballs are so full of flavor and the sauce so rich the sandwich itself is a reason to go to Philly.
Even though we got our butts kicked that afternoon by thirteen points and it ended our season on a low note, it was still fun to walk around and experience Philly on a brisk Fall Day. Very different from New York but unique in its own way.
At least on the way back on the Acela, my best friend, Kris and I exchanged phone calls on the Michigan State-Ohio State game. That nail-biter ended as I exited the train in Penn Station, New York City. That game we won 17-14 on a last-minute field goal.
This was the first time I had been down for the Penn versus Cornell game since 2017 and that time it was freezing cold. I missed the 2019 game because I had to work on Saturday mornings and it was impossible to make the train or even drive down before the game was over. Since class was on Friday night this year, I made sure that all the housework was done before I left, all my class work for the students was done and all the bills were paid before I left. I had a clean conscious and could relax. Even though I was only gone barely twenty-six hours, I got such a good night’s sleep, I felt like I was gone for a week.
I took the Northeast Regional down to Philly which I have to say is a nice ride. I arrived in the City in about an hour and a half and the best part was that the hotel I was staying at downtown was fifteen minutes away walking. It was in the high 50’s when I arrived and ended up being around 63 degrees by the afternoon. It was clear and sunny for the whole day which was a pleasure. Drexel University which is located right next to Penn was having their Parent’s Weekend so both colleges were buzzing with students and parents.
Just north of the Penn campus, the Cornell Alumni had set up their tailgate and when I dropped my luggage off at the Sheraton Downtown at 201 North 17th Street, I double backed to the train station and walked behind it to College Park where both colleges are located.
Sheraton Downtown Philadelphia at 201 North 17th Street
Just as I got onto campus, the band and the cheerleaders showed up and we had a mini pep-rally in the tailgate area. This was really nice because neither had been at the Yale game a few months earlier. It was nice to have some spirit and cheer and I will tell you that the band was in the mood to play for us as well. They played our fight songs and school song and all sorts of traditional ‘pep’ music to get everyone going before the game.
The game itself was a real dud. Both teams looked worse for the wear and neither of us scored until the end of the first quarter when we scored a touchdown. We scored two touchdowns before and they were both called back so it was very frustrating. The whole game was frustrating coupled by sitting in the one section of the stadium that was so cold. The rest of the stadium was lit by the sun and we were in the same section as the Penn Alumni and it was all shade. By the second half, I stood on the other side of the stadium near the bar area they set up and finally got some sun and heat. They were much better.
In the end, we won 15-12 and I have to say that it was not much a match up. The one thing I do like about Franklin Field is the concession stands. They are loaded with all the foods that are bad for you and so good at the same time. I had a cheesesteak, a slice of pizza and a Coke and it did not break the bank and on top of that, everything was delicious. The people at the concession stand know how to make a cheesesteak with provolone.
After we won, I had about an hour after the game so I ventured over to the Penn Museum that is located across the street.
The entrance to the Penn Museum at 3269 South Street
In the three times that I have visited the museum, I never get to spend the time at this wonderful little gem that I want because there are so many great museums in Philly and it is hard to get over here except during football season.
The “What We Wear” exhibition at the Penn Museum
The museum has extensive Greek, Egyptian and Pre-Columbian Galleries to explore and on a nice day, the gardens and fountains are relaxing to sit by. I got to tour the “What We Wear” exhibition before the museum closed. The day of the game as the museum closed down for the afternoon, I got to watch our team leave the stadium. The parents were all riled up after the win.
Since it was getting late, I decided to tour parts of the Penn and Drexel campuses before it got too dark outside. I loved looking into the quads and older buildings that make up the character of these two campuses. Both campuses were still busy with groups of families but everything else was closing around them. I decided to walk over to the Reading Market for a snack before relaxing at the hotel.
The Reading Market Terminal at 501 North 12th Street
By the time I got there after 6:00pm, the market had already closed for the day. I was bummed but would come back for breakfast the next morning. I walked around Chinatown in search of a small take-out place.
I came across Asia Bakery at 115 North Street in Chinatown. It was a relief to find this place as I was not hungry and it had the most amazing baked products. The Roast Pork Buns here are delicious and the Cream filled Buns are excellent (See review on TripAdvisor). They didn’t even make it back to the hotel as I ate them on the way back to the Sheraton.
When I got back to the Sheraton, I hit the pillow that evening and I did not wake up until the 8:30am the next morning. I had one of the best night’s sleeps in ages. The beds at the Marriott are the best, so soft yet firm. You will get the best night’s sleep on these beds.
The next day I was refreshed and ready for a long day of touring. My goal was to explore Old Town Philadelphia again and I wanted to start with breakfast at the Reading Market at Pearl’s Oyster Market located right inside the Terminal.
Breakfast at Pearl’s Oyster Bar was the best. I had the most amazing Breakfast platter with French Toast, Scrambled eggs, turkey sausage from a butcher in the Market and a side of Hash Browns and everything was delicious. The portion size was not gargantuan but was enough to cover me until lunch. The French toast was nice pieces of hallah bread dipped in a flavorful cinnamon mixture and cooked until a golden brown.
After breakfast, it was off to explore Old Town Philadelphia. I had been to Philly over the summer and there were places I wanted to revisit and places on the bucket list. My first stop was the Elfreth’s Alley Association Museum at 126 Elfreth’s Alley. This unique little house shows how early merchants ran their businesses and lived.
Elfreth’s Alley Association Museum at 126 Elfreth’s Alley
This interesting little museum lets you experience what it was like to live like a merchant in the late 1700’s. The shop was in the front of the home facing the windows and you would do business with the customers in the front of the house while the family had the kitchen in the back and lived upstairs in the small bedroom. I could not believe that a family of six once lived here. In the back, there is a small garden to sit outside and relax.
My next museum on the tour of the neighborhood was the Betsey Ross House at 239 Arch Street. This is one of the last of its kind on the block and barely lasted the chopping block of the 1960’s urban renewal of the area.
What fascinated me about the tour is that Betsy Ross had been married twice and did not even own this house. She rented rooms from the owner and ran her own upholster business from the front of the store and lived in a room in the back with her husband. There were also other people living in the house at the time and it is not that big of a house. She was approached by the Patriots about creating the flag which she had never done before.
It was interesting that she was an independent businesswoman when many women did not have employment. Also, when I reached the last room of the house, the actor playing her was so convincing as Betsy Ross, I felt like I was talking to the real person.
After the tour of the Betsy Ross House, the next museum in the neighborhood I visited was the Fireman’s Hall Museum at 149 North Second Street. This museum is the perfect place for out-of-town firefighters and their families to see how the Philadelphia Fire Department was founded and operates.
I found the museum fascinating in that you have the entire history of the modern fire department from the bucket brigade to the current engines and Trucks that operate today. You can see where Benjamin Franklin organized the first departments to the days when they were run by the insurance companies.
The best part is that the museum is run by the Philadelphia Fire Department and you get to meet several of the firemen when you visit who can answer all sorts of questions about their department.
The last museum on my bucket list to visit on this trip was the Museum of the American Revolution at 101 South 3rd Street.
The Museum of the American Revolution at 101 South 3rd Street
I found this museum not only interesting but very educational. It described the entire Revolutionary War from the acts that England put on the Colonists from the Stamp Act to the Tea Taxes and not even consulting with the Colonial Administration on these decisions.
What I found fascinating about this museum is that they had George Washington’s tent that he used in battle, original weapons from the war and more interestingly is that they had pieces of the King George Statue that was pulled down by New Yorkers in Bowling Green Park. I had thought it had been destroyed and melted down. I even found out that the head had been smuggled back to England.
I was tired of all the museums that I had visited in both the July and October trips and it was time to sample the food of Philadelphia’s Old Town. There was a lot to choose from. My first stop was Big Ass Slices at 224 Market Street.
I love the logo for Big Ass Slices at 224 Market Street
The name does not do the pizza justice. The slices are oversized being the size of two slices and have a delicious pizza sauce that makes the body of the pizza ($5.30 for a Big Ass Slice). What was nice was that I was able to eat it indoors without enduring the cool afternoon.
Another stop I made on my summer trip was The Franklin Ice Cream Bar for ice cream. The other ice cream shops were either closed at the time of the night or had long lines. The Franklin Ice Cream Bar at 112 Market Street and its sister store, The Franklin Fountain at 116 Market Street were both busy that day. The ice cream is homemade and amazing but expensive ($8.50 for a medium cup). I had the Caramelized Banana and the Sea Salt Caramel and I highly recommend them.
The next on the list was Shane’s Confectionary at 110 Market Street. This over 100-year-old candy store was very interesting as it was like taking a step back in time when merchants made a statement not about their product but the way it was presented and sold.
You walk into the store and you are greeted by gas lamps and wooden cases that showcase the chocolates. I have to admit the prices are pretty high but these are homemade candies made inhouse. I bought one of their well-known Lighthouse chocolates and a Chocolate covered Truffle, another specialty they were known for that totaled $7.50 for two pieces of chocolate. Totally worth it! Both tasted so good.
I walked down some of the side streets and passed many of the boutiques that make up. One store that stood out was Claudia Mills Rugs at 133 North 3rd Street. This interesting store was a standout in that they creating the rugs right inside with the looms working as you walk in.
The finished products lined the walls in all their colorful glory. It is the perfect store for decorators and people looking to add some zing to their home decor.
With all this walking in Old Town Philadelphia, I started to get hungry again and decided instead of heading back to the Reading Market, I wanted to try a new place for a cheesesteak. I went to Campo’s Philly Cheesesteak at 214 Market Street.
I now know why this restaurant has been open since 1947. The cheesesteaks are excellent. I ordered a Cheesesteak w/o (without onions) and Wiz (Cheese Wiz), the only way I will eat a cheesesteak. The hoagie roll was so soft and chewy and the Cheese Wiz pulled the thin steaks together and the taste was amazing. It was nice to eat inside with other people again.
The Cheesesteaks were amazing!
I walked down to the Delaware River and looked at the Camden Waterfront. God has that changed but at least they are trying with the city. There are now parks, hotels and the aquarium and they look like they are building new housing. Rutgers expanded their campus in Camden so that has helped.
I passed the Independence Seaport Museum (for the next trip, it was closing for the day) and walked along the path and watched the cars and boats pass by. It must have been something for those early colonists who saw only woods and a lot of promise when they walked along the same path. I saw Philly coming back to life and that was a good thing. It had been shut down too long before I returned in July and then in November.
I walked back to the now closing Reading Market Terminal and walked through the hallways again watching tourists ordering the last of their meals and taking gifts home with them. It was such a relaxing overnight stay and it was good to revisit the museums and shops I had visited over the summer to get a new perspective on them. I was able to update a lot on MywalkinManhattan.com and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com so it was a good working trip.
That and we beat Penn! That made the trip all worth it! I will be back to Philly soon.
Go Spartans and Go Big Red! Go Green Go White! Go Red!
There were no highlights on the Cornell versus Penn game in 2015. We lost 34-21.
Cornell versus Penn 2021: 15-12 (Won)
Michigan State versus Ohio State 2015: 17-14 (won)
(This project is dedicated with much love to my father, Warren George Watrel, who still inspires me!)
Hello and Welcome to ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’, an extensive project to walk the entire island of Manhattan. My name is Justin Watrel and I will be your guide in exploring the island of Manhattan, searching every nook and cranny of the island for the unusual, the usual and the in between.
‘Walking the Island of Manhattan’ may not be terribly original as there are about four other people doing the project at the same time, but this project is different in the way I see the island. Not rushing through to prove I have walked it but to see what these neighborhoods are all about and what is there to discover and enjoy.
For all you ‘Manhattanites’ who think you know your island, I will show you things that you have never seen and places you have never gone, restaurants you have never tried and historical sites and museums you never knew existed. Maybe just a few blocks from where you live. As the son of two “Brooklynites’, I have traveled around the city a lot since 1969, my first time in the City when my parents took me to Chinatown to Hunan Gardens, a Chinese restaurant on Mott Street. I ended up there for eight birthdays until it closed in the early 2000’s.
Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown
“My Walk in Manhattan” is a project to walk the entire island of Manhattan in New York City from top to bottom from the beginning of the Summer of 2015 until I finish the walk. Manhattan is 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide and covers a total area 23.7 square miles. Along the way of walking the streets of Manhattan, I will be walking into parks, museums, restaurants and looking at the architecture of the neighborhoods and the buildings in them.
My soon to be path around the Island of Manhattan
I have found that people miss a lot when they walk with their cellphones and only look down at it. When you look up, you see the true beauty of the City. You see the stone work of old brownstones, you see small boutiques off the beaten track and can indulge in those hole in the wall restaurants that are usually found by foreign tourists. Nothing is more interesting then seeing a stone face on a building staring back at you, a tiny pocket park that residents created out of a garbage dump and that small entrepreneur trying to create a vision.
The Cable Building at 631 Broadway
This project was inspired by many things. My major inspiration for this project follows the recent passing of my father, Warren George Watrel. My dad and I loved to walk around the city and spend the day at various museums, walking around Central Park and the Conservatory, taking the subway to try new restaurants in Chinatown or Little Italy or any new place I had read about in the Village Voice (my Bible when looking for things to do on weekends).
Columbus Circle on the West Side
My father was a ‘Brooklynite’ from Williamsburg (long before it was ‘Hipster Central’, he would have been amused) and loved the city, so this voyage is dedicated to him. Having watched the movie “The Way” with Martin Sheen, we look for inspiration in our travels and try to find the answers to why something happens the way it does. Walking to explore does that.
I was my father’s caregiver after his illness hit him and I continued my trips into Manhattan as my father got better. It was the inspiration to this site’s sister site, ‘BergenCountyCaregiver.com’. After he passed in 2014, I wanted to spend Father’s Day doing something different yet do something that we would have done together. Thus started the first walk in Marble Hill.
My first Day in Marble Hill, Manhattan
Another inspiration was a recent article in New York Magazine entitled “Which New York is Yours? A Fierce Preservationist and a Pro-Development Blogger Debate” in which the author Justin Davidson asks about the disappearance of New York’s Character. “What does that character actually consist of? If we did make an all-out effort to preserve it, how would we know what to protect?” How much is the city changing? I have worked off and on in New York City since 1988 and the answer is in some parts of Manhattan it is night and day. Could you imagine walking in Bryant or Tompkins Square Parks in 1990?
I did and they were very different places back then. With the changing Zoning Laws and gentrification of many neighborhoods, its not the city of 1970’s movies. What I am looking for are those unique little pocket parks that we pass, those statues of people we have no clue who they are and those historic plaques of places gone by and people we don’t know.
Astor Row Houses in Harlem
Another are the books, ‘Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its Soul’ by Jeremiah Moss and ‘The Death and Life of the Great American City’ by Jane Jacobs. How do cities keep progressing and changing? How does change effect a city and what direction are we going in? Does the Island of Manhattan have to be all luxury or can it be mixed to help keep the creativity alive and keep innovation going? Do we want the big bad 70’s again or the luxury brand of the 2010’s and 20’s? How is it impacting and changing the city? How much has Manhattan and the rest of the boroughs changed with the rezoning of the city under the Bloomberg Administration. This can also be looked at in the documentaries “Gut Renovation” and “My Brooklyn”.
The last inspiration was my doctor. He said I have to lose ten pounds. I am hardly over-weight but like many people he feels that I will be healthier if I lose the weight and keep it off. I want to see how a walk like this tones the body.
Bowling Green Park in Lower Manhattan
I know many people before have walked the entire length of Manhattan while others have or are attempting to walk the every block in the city, mine has a more personal reason. To really see the city I love from the ground up and explore parts of the island that I have never ventured to and see what I find there. Along the way, I want to see how the city changes while I am taking the walk. This is not the “Christopher Columbus” attitude most people are taking when exploring the neighborhoods but more honoring those residents who are trying to make the City better.
My project also includes stops at various points of interest and to get a better feel for all the neighborhoods, I am walking both sides of the street to get a better look at the buildings in each neighborhood and what defines the character of a neighborhood. I get the impression from some of the readers of Mr. Davidson’s article and from comments on the Internet that Manhattan is some “playground of the wealthy that is being gentrified to the hilt and soon no one will be able to afford any part of Manhattan”. Like in any place, there are people struggling everyday to survive in New York and like every city in the country, people are moving back in droves and want a quality of life for them and their families.
Delacorte Clock in Central Park
In the Age of COVID, it has been interesting starting the project again. I had been on hold from March 13th, 2020 through June 10th, 2020 when the City was closed for anyone other than First Responder and people who had to work there. I was so happy when I could return and continue walking Manhattan. My walk down Broadway for the forth time was a surprise with all the businesses closed on the Upper West Side and I met the challenge of “The Great Saunter Walk” , the 32 mile walk around the perimeter of the island in 14 hours. There is now more to see and explore and write.
The COVID world though has me facing closed businesses that I have covered over the years. Restaurants and stores that I have mentioned in this blog since 2015 have since closed permanently or closed for the time being, I am not too sure. We also have a walking world of masks that keep us safe. The times in Manhattan are changing from the way we eat in restaurants to the way we shop and visit museums.
SoHo boarded up after the June Riots 2020
Fifth Avenue boarded up after the June Riots 2020
Things are constantly changing in Manhattan since the riots in June and COVID keeps raging in the City with people not wanting to wear masks. I hope that things will get back to normal soon. I still see people out and about doing their thing and enjoying the warm weather so I am optimistic about life. Still though, Manhattan keeps changing with the Theater District boarded up and Chinatown looking like a ghost town. We will see how New York City recovers from COVID like the rest of the country.
I have now expanded this site to three other blogs, ‘VisitingaMuseum’ (VisitingaMuseum.com), which features all the historical sites, community gardens and small museums and galleries I find in not just Manhattan but throughout the rest of the NYC and beyond in the suburbs.
‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC’ (DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com), where I feature wonderful little restaurants, bodegas and bakeries that I find along the way. The one requirement is that the meal is around $10.00 and under (for us budget minded people).
“LittleShoponMainStreet” (LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) where I find unique and creative stores in Manhattan and locally whose merchandising, displays, merchandise and service stand out in an age of Amazon. This harks back to a time when shopping was enjoyable and not a chore.
I have also added two new sections to the blog, “My life as a Fireman”, which I have moved from an old site that I had created for my old engine company to describe my experiences on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department over the last 16 years. Also, this is what takes up my time when I am not exploring New York City.
Justin Watrel, Fireman
Another is “A Local Journey” are tours of downtown’s and communities outside the New York City area to travel to when you need to escape the City’s clutches. I have specific guidelines in finding stores, restaurants and museums/cultural sites in the area. This has lead me to really explore my own town of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ and exploring out of town destinations like Red Hook, NY and Beach Haven/Long Beach Island, NJ. You would be amazed on what these small towns offer.
Downtown Red Hook, NY in the Summer months
With COVID still rearing its head when I am in New York City, I do everything to stay safe from being fully vaccinated (I have take both shots and no I have not turned into a ‘Pod Person’) to wearing a mask and keeping hand sanitizer on me. I abide by all NYC Parks rules and try to stay away from people when in museums and restaurants.
Even with all its problems, New York City is still the most exciting City on earth and follow the blog, neighborhood by neighborhood and join me in discovering what makes Manhattan one of the greatest places on Earth!
So to readers who will be following me on the journey walking through Manhattan and beyond, I hope you enjoy trip walking by my side!
Me in Red Hook, Brooklyn discovering my new love in “Street Art”
This project is dedicated to my father, Warren George Watrel, with lots of love and many wonderful adventures and memories to keep me company as I take “My Walk in Manhattan”.
My dad, Warren and I at a Grandparent’s Day Brunch in 2013
‘Break My Stride’ still plays in my mind when I do this walk.
This walking song plays in my mind when I start ‘Walking’. Thank you Mary Mary!