I took time out of my walking project to take a detour to the Javis Center to the Annual New York Restaurant Show. I try to keep up with the latest trends in what kitchen equipment is new and innovative, how computers and apps are changing the way we order and have food delivered and new food stuffs that will be gracing the tables of banquet halls and restaurants not just in New York City but all over the country. What scares me the most of the Hospitality industry is how some people in the industry are trying to take the hospitality out of it by computerizing everything to the point where you don’t see people anymore.
By walking the entire show, I saw more things that will improve the industry and more money saving items will make cooking easier and better in design and sanitation. One…
This new pizzeria opened in the heart of Chelsea in Manhattan that specializes in ‘Detroit style’ pizza, which is a type of Sicilian pizza that is baked in a deep dish with the cheese baked right into the sides of the pizza producing a caramelized edge to the pizza. Having gone to college at Michigan State University, I was introduced this this type of pizza at a restaurant named “Dooley’s” in the mid-Eighties. It’s nice to see it come to New York City.
Lion’s & Tiger’s (Named after two sports teams in Michigan) & Squares, a very clever ring in the fact that the pizza is cooked in a square pan in a pizza oven. These wonderful deep-dish pizzas are offered with a limited amount of toppings such as pepperoni, sausage…
When I finally finished walking Sutton and Beekman Places, I finally decided to take the long walk down Broadway that I had planned for two years. As you can see by the blog, I like to take one neighborhood or section of the City at a time and concentrate on getting to know it. What is the history of the neighborhood? What is there now? Who are the shop keepers and the restaurant owners? What is the neighborhood association doing to improve the area? I like to become part of the neighborhood when I walk around it.
But recently I have noticed people on the Internet have been posting that they walked the entire length of Broadway and bragged about it like they were ‘performing brain surgery’. So I put aside my next walk and decided to see what the fuss was about walking up and down Broadway. I am not sure about everyone else but it was a long trip that took a little over eight hours and I highly recommend the exercise. It was a lot of fun and I felt terrific afterwards. The walk goes by very quickly.
I got to visit neighborhoods that I had not seen in about two to three years. The most striking thing I had discovered especially walking through Harlem and Washington Heights is how many of the old businesses I had either passed or had eaten at had closed. Just like the rest of the City, these areas are going through a lot of change and are being gentrified. It seems like the college campus neighborhoods are leading the way especially around Columbia’s new campus above 125th Street and SUNY between 145th Street to 130th Street. The shifts in neighborhoods are changing very fast and more and more buildings are under scaffolding or being knocked down and replaced.
Since the walk down Broadway from 242nd Street to Bowling Green Park is so extensive, I will not go into the intense detail of historical sites and parks along the way. More detail can be found on my sister sights, VisitingaMuseum.com, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com. On these three sites I will discuss more on each site and a more detailed history. More information on each neighborhood can be found section by section of Manhattan on my blog, MywalkinManhattan.com.
Broadway itself as an Avenue has a very interesting history. Broadway is the English-language literal translation of the Dutch name, ‘Brede-wey’. Broadway was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail that was carved into brush of Manhattan by the Native American inhabitants. ‘Wickquasgeck means “birch-bark country” in Algonquian language. The trail originally snaked through swamps and rocks along the length of Manhattan island (Wiki).
Manhattan in Colonial Times
When the Dutch arrived, the trail became the main road through the island with the colony of Nieuw Amsterdam at the southern tip. The word ‘Brede-wey’ was translated when the British took possession of the island they changed the name to ‘Broadway’. Known in the past as ‘Broadway Street’, ‘Kingsbridge Road’ and ‘Bloomingdale Road’ in parts around the island, it officially became ‘Broadway’ in 1899 when the whole street from the top of Manhattan to the bottom was named for one long road (Wiki).
The entire length of Broadway through Manhattan from Inwood to the Battery is 13 miles and the length in the Bronx is 2 miles. There is an additional 18 miles that runs through Westchester County all the way to Sleepy Hollow, NY where it ends. I just concentrated on the subway route from the 242nd Street Subway exit to the Bowling Green at the tip of Manhattan.
I started my mornings at 5:30am getting up and stretching. The sun shined in my room and that was a good start to the day. The weather was going to be in the high 70’s with a touch of clouds and the weather really cooperated. I got into New York City at 8:15am and started my day with breakfast at my favorite deli in the Garment District, 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli (or Juniors AM-PM Deli as it also known by (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com)
What I love about 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli is the generous portions at a very fair price. I started my day with a French Toast platter ($4.99). I had four very nice sized slices of French Toast that were nicely caramelized and just a hint of cinnamon. On my second time on the walk, I ate here again ordering one of their Hungry Man Hero’s ($9.75), which is three eggs, potatoes, ham, bacon and sausage on a soft hero roll with mayo. Ladened with calories yes but taste wise wonderful. It had all the calories and carbs for a 15 mile walk.
It is always nice to grab one of the stools and eat by the window and watch the world go by. Just remember to get here early before all the construction workers from the Hudson Yards come over for their half hour union break. Then it really gets busy.
9th Avenue AM-PM Deli
After breakfast, it was off to Times Square to take the Number One Subway up to 242nd Street-Van Cortland Park stop to start the walk. Manhattan actually starts lower than that but on such a nice day, I thought it would be nice to start at the very top of the subway route. I had not been to the Van Cortlandt House Museum (See VisitingaMuseum.com and TripAdvisor for my reviews) since right after the holidays to see the house decorations and not seen the park ever in the warmer months.
Van Cortlandt House Museum in Van Cortlandt Park
I got to my destination at 9:00am and had to go to the bathroom. What is nice about Van Cortlandt Park is that the public bathrooms are right near the subway exit and there is another set right next to the Van Cortlandt House Museum so that is covered when you enter the neighborhood. Make sure to take a bathroom break now because the options get slimmer until about 207th Street.
I started my adventure by walking into the park and visiting the museum grounds. Van Cortlandt Park is a beautiful park that was once the Van Cortlandt estate. The last time I had been here was to tour the house for Christmas and to see the decorations. The house is much nicer in the Summer months with the gardens in bloom. The house was closed when I got to the park so I just walked around the grounds to stretch a bit and admire the foliage. It was nice to see the trees with leaves on them and the gardens surrounding the house were in full bloom.
Van Cortlandt Park
Don’t miss when exiting the park to stop and see Memorial Grove, a small section of the park dedicated to 21 servicemen who gave their lives in World War. There are twenty-one oak trees that were planted by the graves which are now fully grown. It is a somber but quiet place to reflect on what these men gave for our country.
Memorial Grove Park inside Van Cortlandt Park
Also, take a peek at the statue of General Josiah Porter, a Civil War hero who is memorialized just outside the entrance to Van Cortlandt Mansion. This elegant statue was created by artist William Clarke Nobel in 1902.
General Porter lead the 22nd Regiment of the National Guard of New York during the war (NYCParks.org).
General Josiah Porter in front of the Van Cortlandt Mansion
Once I left the park, I started the walk on the west side of Broadway and the plan was to walk the west side the first day and then the east side the second time so that I could see the buildings along the way and see what restaurants had opened, closed and what looked interesting. Plus where to find public bathrooms along the way. This was the interesting part of the walk was trying to find bathrooms when you needed them.
Since I have visited most of the neighborhoods already from 59th Street up to the tip of Inwood and wrote about historical sites, buildings, gardens and museums that I have visited along the way in other blogs, I won’t be mentioning these in as much detail as you can see them in other entries.
I will refer to the other sites DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com, VisitingaMuseum.com and other entries of MywalkinManhattan.com for more details to read on each neighborhood.
Also to make the walk more enjoyable and include all the wonderful places to visit and see along the way, I will be blending both days experiences into one blog so I can make stopping points that visitors should take time to see. Both walks took just over eight hours and please watch the humidity. There was a big difference doing this walk in 70 degree weather versus 85 degree weather with humidity. I needed more liquids in me and more time to sit down. Still it was great exercise and you will never be bored.
Once I left Van Cortlandt Park, it was walking down through the commercial district of the Bronx along the Broadway corridor which is loaded with chain stores and malls of all sorts. So much for people saying the Bronx is dead. There was so much shopping going on that you never had to leave for the suburbs to find a chain store.
At each subway stop station I did notice clusters of small family run businesses and here you can find some interesting restaurants and pizzerias. There are a lot of family run bakeries as well but none that stood out.
When you reach the edge of Marble Hill (the Northern most part of Manhattan), you will pass the Marble Hill Houses. I had more whistles and yells when I passed the projects on my second trip on the neighborhood. I am not sure what about me screams cop. Even so as I walked in the front walks of the houses I noticed that the residents were growing gardens that were part of the ‘Outer Seed Project’, a program of growing crops on the projects lawns. I thought it will be interesting when everything gets harvested.
It was when you will cross the bridge at 225th Street in the Bronx to the tip of Manhattan in Inwood is where it all starts to change as you enter the northern Columbia University campus and pass the football stadium.
The Columbia University ‘C’ when you exit Marble Hill and go over the bridge to the Island of Manhattan
The interesting part of this part of Inwood is that on tip of Manhattan is nothing at the end of it. Here we have bus stations, garage trucks and delivery vans. This is one of the most commercial parts of Manhattan I have ever seen outside parts of the Garment District. The area has been rezoned so there will be a lot more changes up here in the future. Once you cross the bridge from the Bronx, you feel the difference in the neighborhoods depending on what side of Broadway you are on.
Crossing the bridge means that you have entered Columbia University territory and to the right is Columbia Stadium which is pretty much shut down this time of year. There were some football players in the field but the Ivy League season starts later so it was not that busy. On my second trip down the east side of Broadway, I made two pit stops in Inwood past the stadium that I think tourists and residents alike should see.
The first is Muscato Marsh at 575 West 218th Street (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com)right behind Columbia Stadium that faces the shores of Marble Hill. This interesting marsh is one of the few in the City and one of the only ones in Manhattan that I know of and it is a great place to just sit and relax.
Muscato Marsh at 575 West 218th Street
The Muscato Marsh is right next to the Columbia Boathouse where their rowing team set their boats off and right next to the Columbia Football stadium. On a sunny morning or afternoon it is a nice place to just sit back and watch the boaters and people on jet ski’s zoom by. It is nice to just sit by the flowers and relax.
If you want to walk a little further into Inwood Park, visit the Shorakkopoch Rock the place where it has been said that Peter Minuet had bought the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans. This is where a three hundred year old tulip tree had once stood and legend stated that the event had taken place under a tulip tree in clearing on the island. No one is too sure if this is the right place but to really understand the history of Manhattan. this is the spot where to begin.
Shorakkopoch Rock the site of the purchase of Manhattan Island by Peter Minuet
On the way of exploring Broadway, I followed the path of artwork by artist Nicolas Holiber and his bird sculptures that lined Broadway similar to the art by Joy Brown and Bernadette Myers. So traveling from 165th Street to 59th Street searching for bird artwork.
As I left Inwood Park, I watched as kids participating in Summer camps were playing games and running around. Parts of the park were closed to reseeding so you can see that money was being put into the park and renovations were starting.
As I walked down Broadway the few times I have visited the area since my initial walk in 2015, I have noticed so many businesses open and close which is almost a epidemic all over Manhattan. Broadway for almost the entire length is no different. I had recently read an article about Borough President Gale Brewer walking the length of Broadway in Manhattan and saying that about 200 store fronts were empty. This is not good and is showing what is going on not just in the economy but how the landlords are beginning to gouge small businesses with rent increases. So many small Dominican businesses I have watched close to be replaced by Hipster restaurants who are also not making it with these rent increases.
Still there are many businesses that are thriving along the Broadway corridor and a lot of great restaurants to stop and visit along the way. Even after a big breakfast, I needed to take snack breaks along the way and the restaurants in the Washington Heights area are reasonable and have great travel food.
My first stop after visiting the Muscato Marsh was Twin Donut at 5099 Broadway for a donut and a bathroom break. You will need to know which public bathrooms are good along the way and for the price of a donut is was well worth the visit. Their donuts are around a $1.75 depending on the type but go for one of their jelly or custard filled. They are really good. This is one of the first places I visit during the Cornell/Columbia Football games.
As you are traveling down Broadway, take some time to walk the side streets into the heart of ‘Little Dominica’, Inwood’s Dominican community of stores, restaurants and bakeries. The first stop should be walking down 207th Street to the subway stop on 10th Avenue. While the street is full of all sorts of restaurants, stop at the street vendors for fresh juice and pastilitos, the Dominican version of the empanadas. These usually run about $1.00. There are all sorts of street vendors selling their wares along the sidewalks. On my second trip down I stopped at a vendor for fresh chicken pastilitos and there is nothing like them when they are just out of the fryer.
As I traveled through Inwood, I stopped at the Dyckman Family Farmhouse (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), which is the oldest home on the Island of Manhattan. The Dyckman Farmhouse was built in 1785 and was once part of a 250 acre that stretched to the tip of Inwood. The house now sits on a bluff overlooking Broadway and Washington Heights on about an acre of land. The house is still impressive to walk through and when you have time, take the formal walking tour of the home and hear about the history of how the farm worked and about the Dyckman family.
The Dyckman Family Farmhouse at 4881 Broadway
As you pass the Dyckman House and walk south also take a side trip down Dyckman Avenue to visit more Dominican restaurants, bakeries and stores from Broadway to Nagle Avenue. There are some interesting places to have a snack but again check out the street vendors first especially on the weekends when the weather is nice. More people are out walking around.
When you cross Dyckman Street, Ann Loftus Playground at 4746 Broadway (named after a local community leader) will be to the right and there are nice public bathrooms and water fountains here. There are also benches under shade trees to sit under and on a warm day, their are vendors selling Dominican ices for $1.00. Go for the mango/cherry or the rainbow. On a hot day, they are very refreshing.
Ann Loftus Playground at 4746 Broadway
Ann Loftus Playground is part of the extensive Fort Tyron Park that runs from Riverside Drive to Broadway from Dyckman Street to 190th Street. If you want to take a walk through the park, not only are there beautiful views of the Hudson River along the stone paths but it leads up to The Cloisters Museum at 99 Margaret Corbin Drive which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that features Medieval Art including the ‘Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries.
The Cloisters and Fort Tyron Park
The park also has many colorful flower gardens and paths along the river with amazing views. There is a lot of walking up and down hills in Fort Tyron Park but trust me the views are breathtaking and the paths lead to amazing gardens and lawns. There are also nice public bathrooms to stop at here.
As you leave the park and continue walking down Broadway, you will be in the heart of Washington Heights so on a warm day expect to see people sitting on the benches socializing, playing checkers and dominoes and listening to music. There is a lot of life on these sidewalks.
As you pass Fort Tyron Park, take a peak at the street art work inside the 190th Street Station and take some time to walk the corridor. It is its own museum in constant change and the street taggers do some interesting work.
The subway station at 190th Street
When walking into the streets between 187th and 160th, there are some wonderful Spanish restaurants catering mostly to Dominican families but the menus are extensive and the prices are reasonable. There are a lot of restaurants especially clustered around the George Washington Bridge Depot. Two standouts that I highly recommend are La Dinastia at 4059 Broadway for Dominican Chinese food and 5 Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for pastries, pastilitos and all sorts of hot snacks.
The restaurant row around 181st Street
La Dinastia has a reasonable lunch menu and I recommend having the Chicken Cracklings, a type of batter fried chicken patty with their Special Fried Rice which contains shrimp, sausage, eggs and vegetables (See review on TripAdvisor). A lunch special here can run about $12.00 with a Coke and tip and you will be full for the rest of the afternoon.
La Dinastia Chicken Cracklings and Special Fried Rice
Before you leave this area, check out the former Coliseum Cinema on the corner of Broadway and 181st Street before they tear it down. It was built in 1920 as an old vaudeville theater and famous actors including the Marx Brothers and Harold Lloyd performed there. The building is slated for demolition due to its structure concerns and will be replaced by housing and a retail mall.
The Coliseum Theater at 181st & Broadway has interesting detail work
There is a small park across from the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Mitchell Square, at the corners of Broadway and St. Nichols Avenue at 168th Street, that features the Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. It was dedicated in 1922 for members of the community who fought in WWI. I found it very touching. It features two soldiers assisting another wounded one.
Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Also check out some of the Dominican bakeries in the area. 5 Star Estrella Bakery is near the corner of 161st Street and Broadway. Everything at the bakery is delicious and I have never had one bad thing to eat here (See reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).
Their chicken and beef pastilitos are cooked perfectly and stuff full of filling ($1,50), their doughnuts are light and slathered in thick icing ($1.00) and their cinnamon buns ($2.00) are the best. They are light, chewy and sugary. Another item that stands out is a type of potato croquette that is filled with meat ($1.50). If they are available, grab one. Totally delicious!
5 Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway
As you reach the small pocket park at 157th Street, you will come across the first piece of Broadway Art by artist Nicolas Holiber for his “Birds on Broadway” Audubon Sculpture Project exhibit which is a partnership he has with Broadway Mall Association, NYC Parks, NYC Audubon and the Gitler Gallery. These interesting sculptures bring attention to birds species that are endangered by climate change. These birds are either native to New York or do a fly by when in season. They are made of 100% reclaimed or recycled wood (Nicolas Holiber website).
The Wood Duck by artist Nicolas Holiber
The first sculpture on the walk that I saw was the Wood Duck. It was an interesting piece that unfortunately was being walked on by a couple of kids that did not seem to know the significance of the work. These rustic pieces really do stand out though and I like the write ups with each one which gives a short story on each bird.
As you pass the sculpture and continue south to the right is the Audubon Terrace at 155th Street and Broadway, which is home to Boricua College, the Hispanic Society of America Museum (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which is currently closed for renovation and the American Academy of Arts & Letters (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which just recently closed and is only open twice a year to exhibitions. Both museums are only open at select times of the year so you have to visit their websites for more information.
The American Academy of Arts & Letters at 633 West 155th Street
The college abuts the Trinity Church Cemetery that holds the graves of many prominent New Yorkers including John Jacob Astor IV and Mayor Ed Koch. It is interesting to walk along the paths of the cemetery during the day and look at the historic tombstones. When visiting the grave of Mayor Koch, be prepared to find lots of stones along the gravesite as a sign of respect for the dead.
Ed Koch grave site
As you pass the borders of 155th Street into Harlem there is a distinct change in the street life. It is a lot quieter when you reach the borders of Washington Heights and Harlem. There are less people on the sidewalks here. In Washington Heights, there is music on the side walks, families playing games and men debating issues. It is a lot quieter I noticed when you cross the 155th Street border between the neighborhoods.
There is also a difference in the types of restaurants and shopping as slowly CUNY is starting to spread its wings and more businesses catering to students and faculty are opening in this area.
The next stop was to see Nicolas Holiber’s Snowy Owl at 148th Street. This was one of the more whimsical pieces in the exhibit and was unique with its outlaying wings.
The Snowy Owl by artist Nicolas Holiber at 148th Street
My next stop for a snack was at Olga’s Pizza at 3409 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor). Olga’s I had just stumbled across as I had a craving for a slice and the pizza is delicious. The secret to a good pizza is a fresh tasting and well spiced sauce and Olga’s hits both marks on this. It is a little pricey at $2.50 a slice but she is catering to the CUNY students who venture from campus to the restaurants on Broadway for meals. I got to meet Olga herself in the pizzeria who was working alongside of her parents and she seemed please that I liked her pizza so much.
To the right of Olga’s just down the block is Montefiore Park, which is always a nice place to take a break and sit down to rest under the trees. It is a real mixture of neighborhood families, college students and teenagers who are eating at the local McDonalds or one of the food trucks that line the park in the warmer months. Just north of the park at 139th Street is the third sculpture in the Nicolas Holiber exhibit, the Hooded Merganser.
The Hooded Merganser by artist Nicolas Holiber at 136th Street
One surprising thing I found at the corner of Broadway and 135th Street was a Pediatric office that housed in the front of it the Martinez Gallery at 3332 Broadway. The gallery features in the front waiting room an array of street art. This was interesting for a doctor’s office.
The Martinez Gallery at 3332 Broadway
The inside artwork at the Martinez Gallery. Very unassuming doctor’s office
Once you pass 135th Street, you enter the new extension of the Columbia University campus and because of the growth of the campus to this section of Harlem especially around the 125th Street corridor, it is changing fast. I have never seen so many new restaurants and shops going up right across the street from the Manhattanville Housing Projects. It is becoming a real extreme in this part of the neighborhood.
Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus that stretches from 125th to 130th Streets
Once you cross 125th Street on this part of Broadway, you enter Morningside Heights and the home of Columbia University. This part of 125th Street and Broadway has really changed since I started the walk of the island. There is a more established ‘Restaurant Row” that stretches from 125th Street to 122nd Street on Broadway that contains such restaurants as LaSalle Dumplings at 3141 Broadway and Bettolona at 3143 Broadway that I have tried in previous entries on this blog and check them out on my blog on Morningside Park. They are both excellent and I highly recommend them.
As soon I arrived on the Columbia University campus at 125th Street the mood of Broadway changed again from the streets of Harlem to a collegiate atmosphere. Don’t miss a break at the Columbia University commons around 116th Street. It is a lot of fun when school is in session and even during these quiet times of the summer, there still is a lot of energy here. It is a nice place to gather your thoughts and relax.
What is also nice is all the food trucks outside the commons that cater to the Asian students. You can get fresh dumplings, pork pancakes, noodle dishes and fresh soups for very reasonable prices and you can relax in the commons on a nice day and enjoy your lunch.
Right next to the campus on East 117th street is the third in Nicolas Holiber’s sculptures, the Common Golden Eye. This is one of the nicer locations for the work as there is plenty of seating in much less congested area of Broadway. You can sit back and just admire the work.
The Common Goldeneye by artist Nicolas Holiber at 117th Street
After taking a break in the commons and watching the summer students reading and chatting amongst themselves or so involved in their cell phones that they would not look up at a zombie attack, I headed back to Broadway to cross into the Upper West Side. It is amazing how everything between 125th and 110th have changed over the past few months and even from 110th to 100th Streets the changes have been constant in a twenty year period.
When you need to take a break from the heat, Straus Park which is between 107th and 106th Streets. This shady and well landscaped little pocket park was name after Isidor and Ida Straus who were once the owners of Macy’s and died in the Titanic sinking. There is a beautiful memorial to them in the park. Friends of the Park maintain it with the city so it is always beautifully planted.
Straus Park at 107th Street
Look close or you will miss it is the ‘Art for Art Sake’ dedication to Duke Ellington on the Broadway Island on West 106th Street. The work is done in tiles and you have to look down to see the work as it on the bottom park of the cement island facing the bench. I guess most people miss this interesting piece of street art.
One of my favorite bakeries in Manhattan is located right near the park at West 105th Street and Broadway, Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor ande DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I love coming here for all the creative pastries and buns that the bakery created and I have the most delicious blueberry danish ($3.50) and cinnamon bun ($3.25) for a snack. Don’t be shy in this bakery and try several items. Everything I have ever ate there was wonderful.
Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway
When I got to 103rd Street, I saw the next part of the Birds on Broadway exhibit with the Double Crested Cormorant that stood proud on the Broadway island looking over the neighborhood.
The Double crested Cormorant by artist Nicolas Holiber at 103rd Street
Another little pizzeria that you might miss is Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food is really reasonable and their personal pizza ($5.00) and pizza special (Two slices and a Coke for $5.00) are a real steal and their sauce is delicious and so well spiced.
Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway
When you finally cross over past West 100th Street, you enter the Upper West Side which has been extensively traveled on this blog. There are dozens of shops and restaurants that line Broadway on this stretch of Broadway and sadly a lot of empty store fronts. This seems to be an epidemic all over the City with landlords jacking up rents every month. It really is changing this stretch of Broadway. At West 96th Street and Broadway is the next “Birds on Broadway” piece, the “Brant Goose”.
The Brant Goose at West 96th Street
When walking on Broadway in the West 80’s, don’t miss walking through Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway near 80th Street. It is fun to wander around the store and smell the aromas of cheese, olives, freshly baked breads and chocolate. Don’t miss their cafe at the corner of West 80th Street (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). There is a nice assortment of pastries and soups at a reasonable price and on certain days they have specials that are reasonably price. They have the most delicious pastries and pan pizza.
Zabar’s Cafe is the original place where Zabar’s started at 2245 Broadway
You will also see the next sculpture by Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street, the “American Brittern”, which stands majestically on Broadway.
“The American Brittern” by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street
Still when you reach the West 70’s there are many beautiful apartment buildings that I admired that were built at the turn of the last century when builders were trying to woo the wealthy in the late 1890’s to the early 1900’s. The area itself is going through building boom and is changing all the time. At West 79th Street, look to the Broadway island again to see Nicolas Holiber’s “Scarlett Tanager” sculpture. These playful little birds are fun to look at.
The Scarlet Tanager by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 86th Street
Broadway has a series of churches that are really beautiful in design and in the details like the stone work and the stained glass windows. One church that stands out is the First Baptist Church 265 West 79th Street. It was built between 1890-93 and was designed by architect George M. Keister. The large window facing Broadway depicts Christ as the center of the New Testament Church (Wiki).
First Baptist Church on West 79th Street
Some of the apartment buildings are quite spectacular. The Apthorp Apartments at 390 West End Avenue (that stretches back to Broadway) is one of the most beautiful enclosed buildings with an elegant courtyard in the center. This building was built in 1908 and is the largest type of apartment of its kind in New York City. If you can take a peek inside the gates it is worth it.
The Apthorp Apartments at 390 West End Avenue
The Ansonia Apartments at 2109 Broadway is one of the biggest and grandest of the Victorian age apartment buildings on the Upper West Side. Built between 1899 and 1904 the outside of the building is studded with beautiful stone work, interesting torrents and a Mansard roof. Take time to walk around the building and admire the stonework.
The Ansonia Apartments at 2109 Broadway
Another building that stands out in the neighborhood is the Doriltan Apartments at 171 West 71st Street that was built in 1902. This elegant building is in the Beaux-Arts style and is another building that sets the tone for this part of the neighborhood.
The Doriltan Apartments at 171 West 71st Street
This is where the Upper West Side has changed so much. This area has become so expensive and the once notorious “Needle Park” Sherman Square is now a nicely landscaped park with a coffee vendor and young mothers with strollers. It is amazing how the City just keeps changing itself.
Sherman Square; the once “Needle Park”
Right by the subway stop at West 72nd Street is the next sculpture the “Peregrine Falcon”.
“The Peregrine Falcon” at West 72nd Street
Once you pass the borders of West 72nd Street, you will begin to see the magic of former Parks Director and major City Planner, Robert Moses. In the mid-1960’s, the City decided the area was dilapidated and pretty much leveled the neighborhood to build the Lincoln Center complex and branches of the local colleges so you will see more modern architecture on the western side of Broadway.
By the time you get to West 67th Street, you will see Julliard School, some of the buildings in the Lincoln Center complex and then Lincoln Center itself between West 65th and West 62nd Streets. On a theater night, the complex is so full energy and it is always a nice trip to see the ballet, opera or the philharmonic. The groundbreaking for this complex was in 1959 with President Eisenhower present and the complex was developed between 1962 and 1966 with current renovations still occurring in 2005. Take time to walk the courtyard and admire the fountains and the artwork that are around the buildings.
Lincoln Center at night
While passing Lincoln Center, you will see Dante Park across the street and the stately Empire Hotel. Here in Dante Park which is named after the Italian Poet, Dante Alighieri. This beautiful little pocket park sits across from Lincoln Center and has been a place to relax on my walks down Broadway. This is also the location of the last sculpture on the “Birds on Broadway” tour, the “Red Necked Grebe with Chicks”. This whimsical piece shows the mother grebe with her little ones on her back.
The Red Necked Grebe with Chicks by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 64th Street
As you head down Broadway, you will reach the Time Warner Building with its upscale shops and restaurants and Columbus Circle with its impressive statue of Christopher Columbus and the soaring fountains that surround it. This is one of the best places in Manhattan to just sit back and relax and people watch. The statue was recently part of a controversy on statues of specific people and history and happily that seems to have gone away for now.
Columbus Circle at West 59th Street
As you pass Columbus Circle and enter into Midtown Manhattan, notice to the south the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle. This innovative little museum has the top floors of the building has a interesting exhibition of “Punk Rock” art and music going on right now. (See my write up on it on VisitingaMuseum.com.)
Museum of Arts & Design at 2 Columbus Circle
Punk Rock Exhibition
The crowds get larger the closer you come to the 42nd Street Mall. This part of Broadway near the TKTS for Broadway shows becomes crowded as these four blocks of Times Square is now an open air mall with seating and loads of costume characters who beg for pictures and money with tourists. It has gotten really crowded and annoying and the quicker you get through it the better. This is where the Ball drops on New Year’s Eve and you can see it up above the One Times Square building. Still get through Times Square, especially on a Saturday or Sunday as quick as possible.
Times Square by the TKTS booth and the Marriott Marquis to the right
The one thing that is important to know is that the bathrooms at the Marriott Marquis at 1535 Broadway are free and it is a good pit stop before heading further downtown. They are located on the Eighth floor and are clean and very nice. They also have some good restaurants in the hotel like the Broadway Bar (See review on TripAdvisor) to eat at but wait until you head further downtown.
As you head down past Times Square you will notice that not much has changed on this part of Broadway. Most of the buildings are pre-war and been around since the 30’s and 40’s. Here and there new buildings have creeped in. Stop in the lobby at 1441 Broadway, the Bricken Textile Building that was built in 1930 to see the “Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development” art exhibition. It is quite creative. The whole lobby was full of modern art. There was a very interesting piece by artist Daniel Rozin who created a ‘Software Mirror’ where when you looked into it, it then looked back at you.
Artist Daniel Rozin demonstrating how the piece works
After wondering through the art show, I stopped in Frankie Boys Pizza at 1367 Broadway for a slice and a Coke and just relaxed. I was starved by this point of the walk. Their pizza is very good (See review on TripAdvisor) and was crowded that afternoon with people having an late lunch.
After I finished my lunch, I continued the walk to Herald Square the home of Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street, whose store still dominates the area and is one of the last decent department stores in New York City. It is fun to take a quick pit stop in the store to see the main lobby and there is another public bathroom both on the lower level and on the Fourth Floor.
Macy’s Broadway entrance
Once you leave Herald Square and walk south you will be entering what is left of the old Wholesale district where once buyers used to come into these stores to commercially buy goods for their businesses. Slowly all of these businesses as well as most of the Flower District is being gentrified out with new hotels, restaurants and bars replacing the businesses. It seems that most of the district is being rebuilt or renovated.
I got down to Worth Square by Madison Square Park in the early evening and admired the William Jenkins Worth monument. General Worth was a military hero during the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. The monument was designed by James Goodwin Batterson and when General Worth died in 1849, his remains were buried under the monument.
It was interesting to read that at the percussion for his funeral that 6500 military men were at the ceremony (Wiki).
The General William Jenkins Worth Monument
As you look down further on the square, you will see the Flatiron Building one of the most famous and most photographed buildings in New York City. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham as a Renaissance Palazzo with Beaux-Arts styling . The original name for the building was the “Fuller Building” for the Company. The name “Flatiron” comes from a cast iron clothes iron from the turn of the last century. (Wiki)
The ‘Flatiron’ Building at 175 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street
As you pass the Flatiron Building and continue the walk south between 23rd and 14th Streets, take a look up to admire the buildings that once help make up the “Ladies Mile”, once the most fashionable shopping neighborhood after the Civil War (See my blog in MywalkinManhattan.com “Walking the Ladies Shopping Mile”).
One of the most elegant buildings on this part of Broadway is the former “Lord & Taylor” building at 901 Broadway. The building was constructed for the department store in 1870 and was the main store until 1914. It is now the Brooks Brothers Red Fleece store. Really take time to look at the detail work of the store and step inside. The Mansard Roof is an amazing touch.
901 Broadway “Lord & Taylor” building from 1870-1914
Finally reaching Union Square at Broadway and 14th Street, I was able to relax on a bench under a shade tree. I stopped at the Farmers Market, that is there every Wednesday and Saturday, and pick up some fruit and a couple of cookies from one of the stands. This is a lot of fun in the warmer months and don’t miss it September and October when the produce really comes in.
Busy Union Square
As you leave Union Square and head south again, you will be entering the campus of New York University and all over you can see classrooms, stores and restaurants that cater to the students. Sometimes I think these kids are trying so hard to look cool it becomes outlandish. The way some of them dress is over the top.
At the bend on Broadway, another church stands out in the neighborhood. Grace Episcopal Church at 802 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and East 10th Street sits at a bend in Broadway and makes an impressive statement in the neighborhood. The church was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. in the French Gothic Revival style and started construction in 1843 (Wiki).
Grace Church at 802 Broadway
Walking south, stop in front of both 770 Broadway between 8th and 9th Street, the former home of John Wanamaker Department Store and 693 Broadway at 4th Street, the Merchants Building. These two buildings stand out for their beauty and design.
770 Broadway was built between 1903 and 1907 by architect Daniel Burham as the annex for the main store of Wanamaker’s which was next door. There was a skyway that once connected the two stores. The company closed for business in 1954. (Wiki)
770 Broadway, the former Wanamaker’s Department Store Annex
Stop at 693 Broadway to admire the design of the building. Built in 1908 by architect William C. Frohne the building is studded with interesting stone carvings and ornamentation. What really stands out is all the owls that decorate the building (Greenwich Village Preservation).
693 Broadway The Merchants Building
The owls that line 693 Broadway
Looking up at the scaffolding of 611 Broadway, The Cable Building, it is not hard to miss the detail work of this graceful building. The stone work like a lot of the buildings on lower Broadway has beautiful detailed stonework adorning it. The building was designed by architect Stanford White of McKim, Meed & White and was designed in the Beau-Arts design of “American Renaissance”. The building was once home to the Metropolitan Traction Company, one of New York’s big Cable Car companies. In the last twenty years it has been home to the Angelika Film Company and Crate & Barrel home store. (Wiki)
Above all the scaffolding, look at the stone detail work of 611 Broadway
Take some time to admire 366 Broadway, a former Textiles Building built in 1909. Designed by Fredrick C. Browne, the building was designed in Edwardian commercial architecture and look at the detail work of the pillars, stone carved faces and other decorative stonework. The building once housed the Royal Typewriter Company then moved on in its later life to house textile firms including Bernard Semel Inc. (where the signage comes from on the outside), who was a former clothing jobber. Now called The Collect Pond House is a coop in Tribeca neighborhood (Tribeca History News)
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway is one of the most famous buildings on Broadway. The former headquarters for F. W. Woolworth & Company was once the tallest building in the world when it was constructed in 1913 and stayed the tallest building until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was finished on Lexington Avenue in 1930. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in the neo-Gothic style and was a representation of the time as a “Cathedral for Commerce”. The lower floors are clad in limestone and the upper floors in glazed terra-cotta panels (Wiki). The lobby is one of the most detailed and ornate in New York but ask security first if you can walk around.
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway
Across the street from the Woolworth Building is the very popular City Hall Park home to the to the 1803 built City Hall (Tweed Hall) and the seat of government for the City of New York. The park has always been used as some form of political function since the beginning in the Colonial days as a rebel outpost to its current function. It has had a prison, public execution site and parade ground on the site. Since the renovation in 1999 under then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the park has been a place for people downtown to gather and relax by its fountain and beside the beautifully designed gardens. There are about a dozen statues in the park to admire so take time to enjoy a walk in the park (NYCParks.org).
The City Hall Park
Another historic church that played a big role in the recovery of the World Trade Center events of 9/11 is the St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church at 209 Broadway. The Church was built in 1766 and is the oldest surviving church in Manhattan and is designed in the late Georgian church architecture by architect Thomas Mc Bean and crafted by Andrew Gautier (Wiki).
St. Paul’s Church at 209 Broadway
George Washington worshipped here on his Inauguration day in 1789 and continued to worship here when New York City was the capital of the country. The church had been spared by a sycamore tree on the property that absorbed the debris from the World Trade Center site and became a place of recovery and reflection in the aftermath of the events on 9/11 (Wiki).
Another building to admire is 108 Broadway at Leonard Street. This beautiful Italian Renaissance Revival building was designed by McKim Mead & White and has been refitted for apartments.
108 Broadway at Leonard Street
Upon reaching Zuccotti Park which is right near the World Trade Center sight and the home of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that traveled around the world after the 2008 meltdown of the New York Stock Market. The movement and occupation of the park which is private property, began in September of 2011. The park which is owned by Brookfield Office Properties was named after the Chairman of the company, John Zuccotti in 2011. (Wiki)
Zuccotti Park at twilight at Broadway and Cedar Streets
Zuccotti Park during its days of “Occupy Wall Street”
Take time to admire “Joie de Vivre” by artist Marco Polo ‘Marc’ di Suvero, and Italian now American artist.
This interesting sculpture was installed in the park in 2006 and features “four open-ended tetrahedrons”. (Wiki)
“Joie de Vivre” by artist Marc di Suvero
As you pass Zuccotti Park and head down the last stretch of Broadway look around at the buildings on both sides of Broadway as they have not changed much since the early 1900’s.
The last historic church I have visited and have walked past many times when in the neighborhood is Trinity Church, an Episcopal church at 75 Broadway. The first church on the site was built in 1698 and burned during the Revolutionary War during the Great Fire of 1776 when a two thirds of the City burned after a fire started in tavern and left most of New Yorkers homeless (Wiki).
Trinity Church at 75 Broadway
The current church was built in 1839 and finished in 1846 and was built in the Gothic Revival design by architect Richard Upjohn. It was the tallest building in the United States until 1869. The church has played important roles in recent history as a place of refuge and prayer during the attacks on 9/11. It also was part of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2012 as a place of refuge and support to the protestors (Wiki and Church History).
One of the most elegant buildings in lower Manhattan is the Cunard Building, the former home of the Cunard Shipping line. The building was designed by architect Benjamin Wistar Morris and opened in 1921. The company sold the building in 1971 and has different tenants now.
The Cunard Building at 25 Broadway
I finally got to my designation of Bowling Green Park on the first trip down Broadway at 5:45pm (starting time again 9:00am) just in time to see all the tourist lined up by The Bull statue (see my review on VisitingaMuseum.com). The statue was designed by artist Arturo de Modica and was installed as ‘renegade art’ meaning he did not have permission from the City to place it there. It has been a big tourist attraction since its installation and I could not see a reason for the City to move it from its location. At 7,100 pounds they can move it too far.
The Charging Bull at Bowling Green Park by artist Arturo de Modica
I reached the end of Broadway at 5:45pm and relaxed in Bowling Green Park (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com) for about a half hour. It was so nice to just sit there watching the fountain spray water and watching the birds as they pecked around.
Bowling Green has a rich history as a park. It was designed in 1733 and is the oldest park in New York City. It was here that the first reading of the Declaration of Independence was read and then the toppling of the Statue of King George III in defiance. You can still see where the citizens at the time cut off the small crowns on the fencing that surrounds the park. This is another place that was rumored to be the site of where the Dutch bought Manhattan. The park is the official start of Broadway.
Bowling Green Park at the height of its beauty
I walked from the Bowling Green Park and sat by the harbor in Battery Green Park and watched the ships go by. It is a nice place to relax and watch the sun set and the lights go on in all the buildings in lower Manhattan and watch the Statue of Liberty illuminate. It is quite a site. Look at the lights of Jersey City and Governors Island.
For dinner that night, I walked from the Battery into Chinatown and went to Chi Dumpling House (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at 77 Chrystie Street in Chinatown. They have the most amazing menu that is so reasonable. Ten steamed dumplings for $3.00 and a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup for $1.50.
Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street
For dessert that evening I came across Gooey on the Inside at 163 Chrystie Street (See review on TripAdvisor) for the most soft and gooey homemade cookies. I saw a bunch of people smiling as they left this basement business raving about the cookies and I had to investigate. I have to admit that they are pricey ($5.00 and higher) but the cookies are amazing. The Chocolate Chunk was loaded with large pieces of chocolate and the Birthday Cake is filled with icing and is soft and chewy. The best way to end the evening.
Gooey on the Inside Birthday Cake Cookies at 163 Chrystie Street
On my second day of walking down Broadway, I stopped at Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for dinner. I had arrived later in the evening and did not realize they closed at 8:00pm. The food which is normally excellent, had been sitting for awhile and was not that good. I had a Chicken Parmesan and spaghetti special that was dried out. Not their best work.
Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street
After dinner, I returned to Battery Park to admire the lights on Governor’s Island and the illuminated Statue of Liberty. There is nothing like this site in the world and only off the. Island of Manhattan can you see it this way.
The Broadway Mall Art Exhibition:
The Birds of Broadway by artist Nicolas Holiber:
Artist Nicolas Holiber in front of his sculptures for the “Birds on Broadway” show
Every year the Fancy Food Industry holds one of the most innovative events in New York City, the Annual Fancy Food Show at the Javis Center every June. This amazing show shows the industry the newest and latest products that are coming onto the market, old favorites that get new packaging or new flavors, the latest in food trends, cooking classes that introduce a product in a whole new way and products from abroad that are looking for distribution in the States. I found the most interesting products at the show and it was nice to see some of the old standbys that I have been sampling since my first show back in 2004.
I have learned over the years that this is NOT the place to over eat and is not lunch. It can be extremely over-whelming if you sample everything in the first row and then realize that you have about 100 more rows to visit. Don’t overdo it on the cheese and chocolate the first day of the show or you will feel it by 5:00pm. I have learned to pace myself and take notes about what I saw. I also like to see what the products are in the foreign pavilions because they have the most interesting packaging and the representatives are usually bored.
I have also learned that you will get pushed out of the way for a vendor to talk to a Whole Foods buyer even if you are having a nice conversation about their product. Business is business and many of these people are looking for someone to distribute a product that probably is already represented in the food market in the States by a dozen other vendors. It took two days of walking, sampling and talking but there were many standouts at the show that I would like to share with everyone.
I got to the show on Sunday by 10:00am and the Javis Center was just starting to get crowded so people were more willing to talk. Some representatives and sales people looked so bored that no one went to visit them if their product looked interesting I would walk over and talk to them. I had some really nice conversations at the show and learned a lot of the new developments in the fancy food industry.
My first day at the show I covered most of the first level where it seemed that the most popular vendors were placed and got the most traffic. It is also where most of the County Pavilions were placed so I got a chance to visit them with some peace and quiet. Most of the visitors and buyers ran through the foreign pavilions but I had fun checking out all the new products and talking to all their salespeople.
Most of the foreign pavilions were manned by one or two people and it looked to me that unless they already had connections in this country many were sitting at their booths checking their computers or emails. This went on with pretty much all the foreign pavilions with the exception of the Canadian where everyone was out sampling their products and stopping passers by. It is tough for a lot of these manufacturers as they are looking for distribution.
My first stop was at the Japanese Pavilion where I stopped at various booths to look at the packaging of products and sample items that I had not seen before. A few unique things popped out at me.
The Meiji America Inc. featured a whole line of desserts and snacks including a product call Chocorooms which are butter cookie in the shape of mushroom covered with chocolate where the top of the mushroom would be. They also carried a crunchy chocolate snack called ‘Hello Panda’ which is a crisp butter cookie filled with chocolate with a playful panda printed on the top of it. Perfect for those little kids that like something catered to them.
The Ginbis Company of Japan was showing a line of snacks that I thought was quite interesting. One product that was delicious the Shimi Choco Corn which was star shaped corn snacks in both vanilla and chocolate. Another was rather odd but really worked was the Black Sesame Biscuits which were mini asparagus shaped snacks that were studded with sesame seeds.
Another product that I think will be popular is their Dream Animal cookies which are a Japanese version of animal crackers. These delightful little butter flavored biscuits are in the shape of animals with the names of the animals printed on the cookies in English. Very cleaver for the child who is learning their ABC’s. Their snacks were sweet and savory.
Ginbis Animal Crackers
The EIWA America Inc. headquartered in Japan has the license for Sanrio Company’s Hello Kitty line of marshmellows including one that was filled with chocolate which are called smores mellows. They also come flavored in strawberry, mango, pineapple and matcha.
In the South Korea Pavilion, there were a couple of standouts that were featured. Plado Company featured a children’s drink that I thought was nicely packaged but a little on the sweet side. It was a strawberry juice fruit drink for kids called Poro Aazz that featured a cartoon duck on the outside. The bottle was playful and I could see children loving it. The flavors come in milky, apple, tropical, green grape and mango. They also have a line of seaweed snacks and noodle cup soups.
These unique drinks will be popular with little children
A product that stood out at the South Korean Pavilion was by Bibigo with their Gochujang Hot Sauce that had many layers of spiciness. This sauce really lasts with you.
The Pureplus Company featured a line of kids yogurt/coco drinks that had many Japanese cartoon characters on the outside. These types of drinks were really on the sweet side catering to a child with a developing taste bud. These drinks were also quite rich.
The next Asian Pavilion I visited was the Thailand Pavilion and they had more food lines to cater to all age groups. The Sun Yang Food Company were showing several food items that I thought were interesting. They created a line called Ten Jang which are a line of seasoned fish snacks that I am not sure would appeal to a mass audience but the snacks in barbecue and chili would find their way to kids who like a spicy snack, They also offer the line in Chicken and Squid. Their line of rice crackers called “Mochi Max” has some interesting flavors such as pizza, satay and wasabi.
The Srinanaporn Marketing Public Company Limited also offered a few noteworthy beverage lines that I thought might appeal to the child who has a sweet tooth. They had a refreshing line of drinks named ‘Uzu’, which is a white grape juice drink flavored with strawberry, Lychee and Orange. The lychee was thirst quenching and just the right amount of sweetness.
Leaving the Asian booths I walked next to the Egyptian Pavilion to see what food products they were showing at the show. One standout was the Shanawany Group’s line called ‘Delta Sweets” which carried an assortment of candies and crackers. One of the standouts was the Caramel bites, another being a mildly sweet line of Strawberry Wafers and a delicious Chocolate Wafer line called “Chocolatoo”.
Another vendor that stood out amongst the rest was the Elvan Company who carried a line of snack cakes. They offered an interesting sponge cake line that almost looked like a ‘Twinkie’ but not as sweet. The line called ‘CakeTime’ came in both a chocolate and vanilla flavor and had a very nice taste to them. The ‘CakeTime’ Donut line looked really good as well but unfortunately they did not have the samples with them. Their snack cakes were just a step below in sweetness than a traditional Hostess snack cake.
When touring the United Kingdom Pavilion I came across an interesting product in the Great Britain booths by Flower & White Ltd. They have a line of Meringue Bars in various flavors that were light and crunchy and at 96 calories were a decadent little treat. I was able to sample the flavors in Lemon and Raspberry and they were sweet and melted in your mouth. Perfect for that afternoon coffee or tea break.
In the Pavilion for the Country of Greece, there was a lot of olive, nuts and oil companies to choose from. One that carried a line of interesting sweet and savory pastries was from the Ioniki Sfoliata S.A. company in Athens. Their line of cheese and spinach pies, sweet and savory croissants and meat Peinirli (a type of Italian meat pastry) were standouts at the booth. Each was generous filled with cheese and meats and when warmed up had a delicious buttery taste to the dough and the fillings were well spiced.
The Canadian Pavilion offered many choices in maple syrup products and there were a few standouts beside just maple syrup. Jakeman’s Maple Products that was founded in 1876 in Ontario produces an interesting group of products that are flavorful and make good use of their maple syrup background. Their standard maple syrup selections are wonderful but their use of the product in their maple chocolates, maple popcorn (a spin on caramel corn) and their Maple Cream Cookies were just amazing. Their Maple Cream Cookies are extremely addictive and just crunching on them at the show you can easily eat a whole bag at one sitting. They are sweet but not in the sweetness you would in a sugar product.
Another sugary product that stood out was the Double Dutch cookie by Schep’s Bakery Ltd. out of Norwich, Ontario called a Stroopwafels. These sweet little waffle cakes are two light waffle like cookies filled with caramel and are Holland’s favorite cookie. These rich little cookies taste like a portable breakfast and are perfect with coffee.
The French Pavilion always bring such elegant and high quality products. I always love their packaging and I love the way the French do business. Everyone is so nicely dressed and mannered and not one is pushy about selling you something. There is so much pride in the quality in their food products that it shows when they describe and sample them. United Biscuits of France has the lightest and buttery cookies with a happy face where the chocolate filling smiles at you.
The French quality in their jellies show too and not just in the traditional Bon Mama. One of the representatives from La Fruitiere Jams and Toppings let me sample a few of their jellies which are some of the best I ever tasted. You could really taste the fresh fruit in every bite. There were chunks of strawberry and cherry in each bite of the samples.
The was one candy that stood above the others from the Spanish Pavilion was Wonkandy marshmellows in bright colors. These colorful treats were sweet marshmellows covered with colorful sugar topping. These little confections come in a rainbow of colors in a large plastic container.
Leaving the foreign pavilions behind, I started to concentrate on the domestic vendors and found amongst all the cheese, chocolate and popcorn vendors many interesting standouts that I could see becoming popular on the wide market.
One vendor that was garnering long lines was the Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company who was featured in the State of Maine section of the show. Their lobster products were not only fresh tasting like the lobster had just been caught but decadently rich, creamy and buttery. They sampled their ‘Lobster Grilled Cheese’ appetizers which were so decadent and delicious I had to keep returning to their booth to try them again. I had had a taste of the their Lobster Bisque at a different show a few years earlier and that was also rich and silky to taste. Their products were top quality when serving lobster.
These Lobster Grilled Cheese were one of the best products at the show
Another rich tasting standout in the State of Florida section of the show was their ‘Stuffed Garlic Bread’ that is stuffed with cheese, garlic and spices. The flavors are in Original with garlic and cheese and the mild spice variety with a garlic, pepper and cheese filling. When baked it is almost like an open face Stromboli. The combination of garlic and cheese with the soft caramelized bread you could eat on its own with just a little sauce.
There were a few standouts in the Asian-American market as well. The Green Spirit Food Inc. offered a line of vegan food products where you would not have known it wasn’t chicken. Their Vegan Chicken Cake and their Veggie Corn Koroke Cakes were the highlight of their food lines at the show. The chicken variety tasted so much like chicken that I was fooled by it. The corn cakes were filled with buttery corn kernels and fried to golden crisp with a light breading. Both were well spiced and would be perfect at any dinner party.
In the State of Hawaiian section of the show the Noh Foods of Hawaii had a line of ‘Hawaiian Ice Teas’ that I enjoyed very much. Their ice tea line was light, refreshing and the best part was made with Hawaiian cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup. It was light and sweet and chilled could be drunk right out of the can. They also had an interesting line of spices and rubs.
Another beverage that stood out at the show was manufactured in Minnesota by Maud Borup Inc. It was a line of Fizzy Drink Bombs which are a fruit flavored ball in blueberry and cherry that you drop into a glass of water and watch it fizz. These lively treats are perfect for a child’s birthday party where the children could make the drinks themselves and watch the water pop, fizzle and show the edible glitter.
In the Candy area there were so many choices that I was on sugar high for most of the show. The one standout that I love and it has been mentioned in a few of my food blogs is the Butterfield Candies founded in 1924. The Butterfield Fruit Hard Candies are delicious and you can taste the infused flavors of the fruits. My favorites have been their peach and cherry flavors that I have tasted at the show. Just crunching on them is a real treat.
Back in the State of New York section of the show, one delicious standout was Bantam Bagels which had started out as a small shop on Bleecher Street down in the Village in Manhattan. The couple had been making their stuffed bagels in their kitchen and they were so popular with their friends that they opened a shop and the rest was history. The best part of their bagel bites is that they are already stuffed with cream cheese so you don’t need it on top.
Bantam Bagels are delicious
At the show they were featuring their Classic with just cream cheese and the Onion which had a nice pronounced flavor to it. No wonder the line was so popular that the line was long. Also the people working there were really nice and let you taste a few of them.
Another standout product was from DuFour Pastry Kitchens out of the Bronx were their Smoked Cheddar and Bacon Cocktail Straws (a type of pastry cheese stick) that had a nice smoky savory taste that were light and crispy and had a bite of a mixture of cheeses. Another great cheese snack that I tried are an oven baked cheese bite by Granarolo. The crisp is made with Italian milk and grated cheese and then it is baked. It has a rich sharp taste to it.
Haldiram’s, a company that specializes in Indian food had a interesting and spicy line of naan bread, stews and delicious samosa’s and shami kebabs which are a type of patty. All the foods that we were able to sample were full of spices and hot dipping sauces. Everything was delicious.
There were many wonderful desserts that were featured at the show and too many to mention but there many that I enjoyed eating. The Well Luck Company Inc. sampled a line of Mille Crepe Cakes in flavors Strawberry and Mango which were layers of French pastry and ice cream and were sweet and creamy in each bite.
Dewey’s Bakery out of North Carolina offers a delicious line of Doughnut cookies which I thought were unique. These soft batch cookies were a cross between a doughnut and cookie that came in Old Fashioned Glazed, Cinnamon Bun and Apple Fritter that were soft and rich with every bite.
Don’t miss these soft rich cookies especially the glazed
Another line of delicious cookies were from Goodie Girl out of Ridgefield, New Jersey which were packaged and almost looked like Girl Scout Cookies. Their Double Chocolate Chip and Birthday Cake cookies were wonderful and they let me take samples home.
Two snack foods that were a real treat were the Sweet Lemon Sweet Crisps by the 34 Degrees Company. These light and sweet crisps will melt in your mouth. These can be paired with a entree or a dessert or just served with coffee or tea.
The one standout popcorn of the many popcorn merchants was by Fisher’s Popcorn of Delaware Inc.. They made a Maple Popcorn with Old Bay Seasoning. It was a delicious twist to a sweet and savory snack.
Of all the computer software companies that I talked with in those two days, one innovative company that grabbed my attention was I-Whiz. This company works with smaller vendors, restaurants and suppliers and farmers to match up products to sell and buy. The software is rather cutting edge for the restaurant industry.
On my trip day excursion in the world of food, these companies were just a small samples of the people I met. I mentioned more in my blog in July of 2015 and went into more detail of the American companies.
The New York Fancy Food Show is an eye opener in the food and snack industry. Walking the several miles of the show is a glimpse of what we will see on shelves all over the country and all over the world. The products that I pointed out were the ones I thought were different from the rest. I look forward to the long walk of the show next year.
On Saturday, December 15th, I met with other members of the Cornell Club to travel back to the Victorian Era and learn about the traditions of the Christmas past. We explored the Gramercy Park, Union Square and lower Sixth Avenue sections of the City to visit where a New York Victorian Christmas would be celebrated and honored.
We would be walking the old “Ladies Shopping Mile” that had been built up right after the Civil War when the disposable income for Middle and Upper Middle Class residents had increased after the Civil War and people wanted to spend their money at the newly built department stores, shops and restaurants. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing and shopping had changed with the development of the department store.
The tour took us past brownstones, parks, restaurants and old department stores that line the streets of Manhattan between East and West 21st Street to 23rd Street and along that stretch of Sixth Avenue which is lined with the old buildings that once housed some of New York City’s great department stores.
The tour started on a sunny morning in Gramercy Park just off East 21st Street right near the Gramercy Park Hotel at the Cyrus Field House at One Lexington Avenue. The plaque was laid on the side of the old home dedicated to the man who laid out the first Atlantic cable in 1858. Cyrus West Field was a self-made man who founded his own business and retired at 33 with a fortune of $250,000 (about 6 million today).
Cyrus West Field along with Fredrick Newton Gisborne, a Canadian inventor and electrician had laid out the first undersea cables. Partnering up, they laid the first successful cable line to Europe in 1866 after two other failed tries. Even with his successes, when his wife, Mary died in 1891 and his son’s banking business failed and his partner’s daughter in law was his sister, Grace who took ill and died later that year. Cyrus Field was vacationing in his summer home when he died as well (Wiki & the tour guide).
The Field Mansion before it was torn down
Both his and his brother’s house were purchased by another banker who renovated them into one mansion. His business would later fail and he also was forced into bankruptcy. The houses were part of an ever changing New York neighborhood and were demolished and replaced by the Italian Renaissance apartment building that sits there today with the plaque neatly presented on the side of the building. A very interesting place for a colorful family history.
After we left the site of the Field Mansion, we toured the sides of Gramercy Park, which was created in 1844 by Samuel Ruggles, who developed the area as an exclusive enclave. The 22 acre site was once a swamp and the farm of James Duane, the son of the Mayor of New York and a direct descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, called ‘Gramercy Farm’. The park was enclosed by a fence in 1833 and the parcels surrounding it were developed in 1840. The park’s landscaping was done by James Virtue and the park was surrounded by 39 lots whose owners had access to the private park. Today only those people residing in the 39 lots surrounding the park can have a key to it and help in the maintenance of the park (Wiki).
As we passed the park which looked a little sparse due to the time of the year with the exception of the pines and the Christmas Tree in the center of the park. Still you can see the elegance of the park and the constant upkeep of the landscaping. Behind the locked doors, it is almost a secret garden almost waiting to be discovered. Even today, you still need that key to open the door to the park and you have to live in the area to get in.
Christmas Tree in Gramercy Park today
While we were at the park, the tour guide gave us a little history of a Victorian Christmas and the rules and etiquette of the holidays under the rule of Queen Victoria and her marriage to Prince Albert who was from Germany.
When the marriage took place, Prince Albert had brought many of his traditions with him and introduced the Pagan tradition of bringing evergreen trees into the house. Since it was the only tree that was green during the long winter months, the Pagans brought it into the warmth as a sign of life. It was later decorated with sweets and small gifts then got more elaborate with candles and ornaments. Ornaments started to appear in 1853.
The idea of the Christmas card came in 1843 when Henry Cole created the first card with a simple message. By the 1880’s, the Victorians were sending out the cards in great numbers due to the advancement of the postal services, many of them handmade by the children of the house. Decorating the house got more and more elaborate. What had started with a simple tree and garland to decorate the doors and windows became more detailed with decorations.
Gift giving was once relegated to New Year’s Day but as Christmas became the more predominate holiday, gifts were given either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Initial gifts were things like small handmade trinkets and sweets and then moved to store bought gifts from the developing department stores that could be placed under the tree.
The Christmas Dinner had its roots in Medieval times but became more elaborate after the Civil War. During the Revolutionary War, Christmas Day meal was a family affair after church services but by the 1880’s as the Industrial Revolution started to change the way we lived, it became the feast we celebrate today.
Roasted meats like goose and duck were some of the things served but later turkey became a favorite for dinner. It became predominate on a middle class family table because the average turkey could feed a family nicely for dinner. Even Christmas crackers, which were invented by Thomas Smith in 1848 on an idea he saw in Paris on the way bon-bons were wrapped. He perfected them to ‘pop’ when they opened and were then filled with candies and small toys. This became part of the place setting.
Since the holiday was now being based around the family, things like parlor games and Christmas carols became family favorites. Carols had started during Medieval times and had been brought back by the Victorians. The family was the center of the holiday and a family was only restricted by their budget.
There were also strict rules on visits during the preparation for the holiday. Our guide pointed out that when you visited a home leading up to the holidays, etiquette stated you stayed for about ten minutes and you only partook in the food that was laid out, such as a plate of Christmas cookies and you did not linger. The host had lots to do to prepare for the holiday and she did not want you stay and take up her time.
As we rounded the corner and the tour guide discussed the attributes of the park, he also talked about the history of the architecture that surrounds it. Many structures have a long and very interesting history.
4 Gramercy Park West
At 4 Gramercy Park West is the James Harper House, which almost resembles something you would see in New Orleans with its decorative iron work and graceful porches. The homes were built in 1846 for the James Harper, the Mayor of New York and one of the founders of Harper-Collins Publishing. The house was a Greek Revival design with an iron lace terrace with a mirror image of the home next to it with the exception of the lamps outside the house.
History has said that the lanterns in front of the home are a throw back to the Dutch era when lantern bearers accustomed to escort the Burgomaster home with the proper dignity from the city tavern or another place of entertainment. The Dutch custom of placing special lamps at the mayor’s door was an aid to finding his house at night but by Harper’s day, it was just ceremonial. The customer ended with the establishment of Gracie Mansion as the Mayor’s residence(Ephemeral New York).
3 & 4 Gramercy Park
Harper died in 1869 and the house stayed in the family until 1923. It was known also for being the rumored home townhouse for the book “Stuart Little” and again achieved fame for being on the cover of Bob Dylan’s 1965 album cover for ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ (Ephemeral New York & the tour guide).
From the Harper House , we visited the Samuel Tildon House at 15& 16 Gramercy Park South around the corner from the Harper House. This historic townhouse was built in 1845 and the home of former New York Governor Samuel J. Tilden who was a fierce opponent of the Tweed Ring and the losing Presidential candidate in the 1876 election. He lived in the house until his death in 1886 (Wiki & tour guide).
The house was combined and redesigned by Calvert Vaux with the row house next door to make the building it is today. The brownstone was considered the height of Victorian Gothic in residential architecture with Italian Renaissance style elements. Since 1906, it now serves at the National Arts Club (Wiki & tour guide).
The home at 16 Gramercy Park South, now the home of the Players Club has an interesting past as well. The home was bought by Edwin Booth, one of the great Shakespearean actors of the 19th Century and one of the founders of The Players Club. He was the brother of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. He turned over the deed to the house in 1888 to the club (Wiki & tour guide).
The Players Club which was owned by Edwin Booth
From the square of scandals and shame we moved to look inside the park where a statue of Edwin Booth stands. It was an interesting twist of events that he landed in New York City. The whole area was designated as the Gramercy Park Historical District in 1966 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Our next place to visit was the famous Pete’s Tavern at Irving Place at 129 East 18th Street. This famous bar/restaurant has been around since 1864 and has been a major watering hall for the neighborhood. The building was originally known as the Portman Hotel and was built in 1829. It was known as a ‘grocery & grog” store and may have been serving alcohol since 1852 (Wiki).
The writer O. Henry lived down the block at 55 Irving Place from 1903 to 1907 when the place was called Healy’s after Tom and John Healy, who bought the restaurant in 1899. The famous writer included the name of the bar in a short story entitled “The Lost Blend” under the name “Kenealy’s”. It has been rumored that he wrote the well-known story “The Gift of the Magi” in the second booth from the front but it can not be proved (Wiki & the tour guide).
The Irving House
Around the corner from Pete’s Tavern is 11 Commerce Street, the Irving House, the former home of Washington Irving’s sister. The Federalist style home was built in 1826 and was rumored to be where he wrote part of the book “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. No one was too sure where Washington Irving Jr. came from because Washington Irving did not have any children.
We left the Gramercy Park District which is slowly changing on the fringes of the Historic District from residential to modern hotels and apartments refigured into the older buildings of the neighborhood to the very modern and updated and hip Union Square Park.
Union Square Park was once the cross-roads from the old commercial part of Manhattan to the residential part of the island. When Manhattan was surveyed by John Randel for the Commissioner’ Plan of 1811 to create the grid of the island, Broadway angled away from the Bowery that would have been awkward to build on and it was decided to create a square at the union of the two streets. Samuel Ruggles, who had created Gramercy Park renamed the are ‘Union Square’ from its former name, ‘Union Place’. It was Ruggles who developed the area with streets and plantings at the park (Wiki & the tour guide).
At first the area was a fashionable residential area surrounded by brownstones and mansions but after the Civil War, the area gave way to a commercial shopping district that included Tiffany & Company and FAO Schwarz Toy Store. The area is now home to many upscale merchants and restaurants once again. It also has one of the biggest Farmer’s Markets in the City.
Union Square today facing the once fashionable shopping district
From Union Square, our group walked to Sixth Avenue down West 17th Street to the start of the Ladies Mile Historic Shopping District. Today the area is still going through changes from discount superstores to advertising and communications companies but between the Civil War and World War I, the district was home to some of the most famous department and specialty stores of the time, places of worship and performance venues like the Academy of Music and Steinway Hall (Wiki & the tour guide). It is here where Victorian Christmas roots began.
We started the tour on West 17th Street and walked our way up Sixth Avenue while admiring the old department store buildings. One point that the tour guide wanted us to all note was the big windows on the second and sometimes third floor of the buildings. This was done when the old ‘Sixth Avenue El’ subway line used to travel down the avenue before the war so that people could see the clothes and fashions from the elevated subway cars. We walked up Sixth Avenue and we noted all the stores we passed and a little on the history of each store.
The old B. Altman & Company building located at 625 Sixth Avenue between West 18th and 19th Streets was once a luxury department store that catered to the strictly ‘carriage trade’ clientele of the time. It had been founded in 1865 by the Altman family on the lower East Side and progressed uptown to this location in 1877. It was originally designed by David and John Jardine, a New York architectural firm.
The store had been known for couture merchandise and fine furniture. As the clientele changed and moved uptown after World War I, the company moved the new store to Fifth Avenue and East 34th Street in 1906. The company went bankrupt in 1990 (Wiki, History of Department Stores & the tour guide).
B. Altman & Company store at 625 Sixth Avenue & West 18th Street
Our next stop was at the old Siegel-Cooper Company Department store at 620 Sixth Avenue at 18th Street. The company was founded in 1887 by Henry Siegel, Frank Cooper and Isaac Keim in Chicago and opened their store on State Street.
Their second store opened in New York City in 1896 at 620 Sixth Avenue between West 18th and West 19th Streets. The store used innovative steel-framing, the first department store in New York to use this construction, to create the world’s largest store at the time (to be surpassed by Macy’s Herald Square). The offered a wide variety of dry-goods and shops including a art gallery, conservatory selling plants, a photo studio and a 350 seat restaurant . The store was designed by the firm of DeLemos & Cordes in the Beaux-Arts style (Wiki & the tour guide).
The Siegel-Cooper Company store at 620 Sixth Avenue
The main floor featured a copy of David Chester French’s statue, The Republic inside a marble enclosed fountain on the first floor which the phase “Meet me at the Fountain” became the store slogan (Wiki & the tour guide).
The fountain that was at Siegel-Cooper
Yet by 1902, Henry Siegel sold the store and the company went bankrupt in 1915 and the store closed in 1917 and became a military hospital during World War I. Today the store is home to Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. It’s ornate outside is really hidden now.
We next moved on to 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 Simpson 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-Grec style who built the four stages of the building between 1887-1890 (Wiki & the tour guide).
The Hugh O’Neill Store when it opened in 1890
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 began 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
Our last store that 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).
Adam’s Dry Goods Store when it opened in 1902
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 last part of our tour discussed one of the most famous Christmas poems, “A Visit from St. Nicolas” or known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas” , which was one of the first mentionings of Santa Claus in a modern form, written in 1822 and published in 1823 anonymously. Some saw the poem as a social satire on the ‘Victorianization’ of Christmas (Wiki & the tour guide). Our tour guide said you really have to read into the poem to see what it is really saying about the times that it was written in. He noted really read the line “Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap” as the stress of the holidays and child rearing was even back then.
“A visit from St. Nicholas”
It was in 1837 that poet Clement Clark Moore claimed to be the author. Even today there is a controversy of who really wrote the poem, Clement Clark Moore or Major Henry James Livingston Jr. This discussion is still being debated today (Wiki).
How the poem mixed well into the tour is that Clement Moore’s family owned an estate here on the area on West 23rd Street between Hudson River and Eighth Avenue from West 24th Street to West 19th Street. His home was at 348 West 23rd Street. He developed the area after donating a large portion of the estate to his church and created a residential neighborhood that still stands today.
The Clement Clarke Moore estate when he sold it into real estate parcels
I walked the entire neighborhood after we said our goodbyes on Ninth Avenue by the subway and discovered an ever gentrifying neighborhood of brownstones and small mansions. The one home that stood out amongst the brownstones was the James Wells Mansion at 400-412 West 27th Street.
The James Wells Mansion in Chelsea one of the most beautiful homes on the block
James N. Wells was a real estate broker and built the house in 1835 when Clement Clarke Moore developed this part of his estate. He built the grand house for his family. Sometime in 1866 after the Civil War, the house was renovated and a mansard roof was added to the house. It must have not stayed in the family too long after this as it was turned into a home for the aged in 1867 (Wiki). Today it has been restored by its owners to its grand glory.
The last part of the tour I visited the only spot that still carries the name of the family to know that the estate was located here and it was the Clement Moore Park at West 23rd to 22nd Streets on Tenth Avenue. The park was initiated by the West 400 Block Association to turn a neglected lot into a park and in 1965 it was opened to the public. When I visited the park that afternoon and others to complete the walk of the neighborhood, the park was closed for renovations.
Clement Moore Park before the renovation
This is where I ended the tour that day. I walked this part of West 23rd Street from Sixth Avenue to Tenth Avenue on my own to see the development of the estate and how the gentrification of Chelsea was progressing. Let me put it this way, the Clement Clarke Moore brownstone was on the market in 2016 for 8.7 million dollars. I wonder how he would feel about that today?
Check out my Christmas blogs this year (2018) and my busy holiday season that stretched from the Hudson River Valley in New York State to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I swear my feet never touched the ground the whole holiday season.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!
I want to add these two new Christmas songs by the late Jazz artist Al Jarreau and current up and coming artist Lindsey Webster for you all to enjoy. They got me through my Christmas Holiday season.
Christmas Morning by Al Jarreau:
It’s Gonna Snow on Christmas by Lindsey Webster:
Again everyone have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I took time out of my walking project to take a detour to the Javis Center to the Annual New York Restaurant Show. I try to keep up with the latest trends in what kitchen equipment is new and innovative, how computers and apps are changing the way we order and have food delivered and new food stuffs that will be gracing the tables of banquet halls and restaurants not just in New York City but all over the country. What scares me the most of the Hospitality industry is how some people in the industry are trying to take the hospitality out of it by computerizing everything to the point where you don’t see people anymore.
By walking the entire show, I saw more things that will improve the industry and more money saving items will make cooking easier and better in design and sanitation. One of the best items that I saw in new kitchen equipment was the The Self Cooking Center by Rational USA from Rolling Meadows, Illinois. This oven does it all. With the combinations of heat and steam in one single appliance, it offers new possibilities when it comes to the professional preparation of food (Rationalusa.com (888)-320-7274).
The machine was interesting in that it could cook multiple items perfectly with just the touch of a button. Each of the cabinets were cooking something different. One time I stopped by the display they were cooking a pizza and another time they were cooking and cutting a roast. Each item was cooked perfectly and the unit looked like it was easy to clean.
The Food Section of the show has grown this year. About five years ago, the show had cut back on the number of food merchants and companies that carried lines for commercial restaurants. I guess they felt that people were eating their way through the show and just wanted lunch which is further from the truth. I think the restaurant food companies have a big place in the show as you are seeing the equipment, the computer programs and the merchandising. Now how do you tie the actual product into all that? By having the equipment not just cook the food but what types of foods for a commercial kitchen can be offered.
There were many commercial restaurant vendors at the show this time around and it was such a success with the customers walking the show, I am sure this area will get bigger again as more vendors know this is open to them. The visiting participants seemed to enjoy it and it got a lot of buzz amongst the buyers.
It seems that Brooklyn, NY is quickly becoming a hot-bed for new food start-ups and incubators. One vendor that I sampled were Brooklyn Patisserie (19 Fifth Street, Brooklyn, NY 718-852-1768) had the most delicious croissants and cinnamon danishes that I had sampled. They were light, buttery and had a wonderful sweetness to them.
Another area vendor that I sampled was Brooklyn Cured (www.brooklyncured.com Brooklyn, NY 917-282-2221) for deli meats and salami. I sampled both their pastrami and their maple bourbon ham both of which had a nice smoky taste to them. The ham had a hint of sweetness due to the maple syrup flavoring the meat. Another Brooklyn vendor was selling Middle Eastern Hors D’Oeuvres that were filled with meats and spinach. Rose Gourmet (1677 McDonald Avenue (718) 382-1226) had an interesting cheese filled puff pastry called a Burekas that had a nice bite to it and these savory tidbits were very popular with show goers.
A further standout from Brooklyn was Table 87 for their flash frozen coal oven pizzas (table87.com). They provide the whole package to the customer in way of the freezer, the oven, trays, cutter and the pizzas. The whole concept is sold to the restaurant. The pizzas are really of high quality and the tomato sauce, which I always think is the base of the pizza tasted of real tomatoes.
There were many options to choose from with high quality Asian products at the show. Walong Marketing Inc. http://www.AsianFoodsOnline.com (877-675-8899) offered many different vendors at the show. Some of these were dumplings that had been steamed and fried for sampling at the show. They had a wonderful mixture of ground pork and spices.
These sweet little desserts have a sweet rice flour wrapped on the outside and a delicious ice cream in the center. Two of them I was able to sample were the vanilla and mango.
That was when I was able to get near the display as it was a very popular vendor at the show. TMI Trading Company (email@example.com (718-386-6868) was sampling Lo Mein noodles by Twin Marquis, that were tender and flavorful and adhered to the sauce they served with them.
The ever popular Chef One also represented by TMI Trading Company was sampling dumplings and spring rolls that were steamed and fried and had a nice flavor with every bite.
Their representative told me that the cost factor for these popular items was very fair and were extremely popular in non-Asian restaurants and bars. The company’s dumplings never last that long when they are displayed for sampling.
Chef One Dumplings
The show offered some interesting items in the Beverage area. Tractor Beverage Company (DrinkTractor.com) had some interesting non-carbonated and carbonated sodas and teas. The one that stood out to me was the Blood Orange Soda that had a nice hint of the fruit and a light flavor. There is a big difference in the all natural sodas and the ones that are artificially flavored and you could taste the difference. Plus these sodas are usually lighter in color.
Another beverage vendor that stood out was Fruit-n-Ice (Kanawati Enterprises 249 Lodi Street Hackensack, NJ 07601 (866) 265-9569), who sells the complete package of mixes and machines for a retail spot.
The mixes come in many fruit flavors that are mixed with ice, almost like a Slushy that you might get at a 7-11 but higher quality. I sampled both the Passion Fruit and Mango and both were quite good. The appearance of the machine makes a colorful statement and the quality was very good. I visited them again in 2020 and the quality of their product is wonderful.
There were some stand out desserts at the show that were interesting. A few that stood out were Little Red Kitchen’s (firstname.lastname@example.org (347) 815-4824) Blondies and Brownies that were being sampled. They were rich, dense and rich in flavor.
Two unusual desserts I sampled were a Fruta Pop (www.frutapop.com) which makes a gourmet alcohol infused popsicles that were the perfect adult dessert. They were sweet, fruity and you could get a slight buzz from the pop. These were delicious as they had almost a fizzy mouthfeel to them. They are the perfect dessert for after a barbecue or dinner party. I sampled them again in new flavors in 2020.
Another delicious dessert was the Stroop Club (chantal@stroopclub (512) 400-8906) Stroopwafels, a Dutch dessert treat. These buttery delights are a light waffle like cookie filled with a sweet glaze that tastes like a cross between maple syrup and cinnamon. These little cookies are perfect with coffee or hot chocolate.
Two breakfast vendors sampling at the Restaurant Show stood out amongst the others. New Hope Mills (181 York Street Auburn, NY 13021 (315) 252-2676) has the most delicious waffle mix that produces the lightest waffles. They were being made fresh at the show and with a little maple syrup make the perfect breakfast. Bosquet (bosquetgourmet.com) makes a gluten Buttermilk Waffle mix that is also very light and you would never know the waffles were gluten free.
Another product that I thought was unique and stood out was the Gourmet Fries Seasoning by Chef’s Fun Foods (www.ChefsFunFoods.com (977) 233-3007). The vendor deep fried French Fries and doused them with seasoning, giving each bite the spicy flavor of tomato ketchup or garlic salt. It is a nice spin on not using salt.
Another group of vendors that was interesting was the computer and tech companies stream lining how we order, budget and cost out recipes. The technology has changed so much in the last twenty years that we can now tie in building a recipe, costing it out, build in the retail cost and connect it to cooking it and setting up the inventory of the ingredients. So when you cook the dish, it is already setting up the inventory you will need in the future.
There was even a table that explained all the dishes on the menu and you could order them with the touch of button and a runner would bring the dish out to you and when you were ready to pay, you just put the credit card into the table and pay for it. The salesman got annoyed with me when I asked “doesn’t that take the whole purpose of going out to converse with other people and engage in conversation?” He moved onto the next customer.
So much more can be attached to the Smart Phones and companies like DiningEdge (www.diningedge.com (561) 260-4975) are bringing this straight to the customer with ordering and scanning products.
So much change in the Restaurant industry is going on with new products, new ways of looking at decor, security and staffing but the take away I got from the technological part was that they are taking out the human factor at the expense of saving money on staffing which I think is wrong. The whole point of going out is to meet people, have a good meal with nice conversation and to be social. Isn’t it what Hospitality is all about?
Walking the NY Restaurant Show is a couple of miles long but you see the innovation of the future and figure that every time we go out to eat, it started by walking the isles of this show. Miles of show!
The New York Restaurant Show is every March.
The Restaurant Show in revisited in 2020:
The Restaurant Show this year was very quiet in comparison to previous years. The Flu scared everyone away and the show just did not have the same amount of people milling around. You could walk down each aisle without bumping into anyone.
That being said there were many innovative companies that the industry missed this year. Amongst the vendors I have seen in the past, there were many that stood out. Off to the side of the show, there was a new food innovation area where many small vendors were showing their wares.
In the dessert area was Baci Gelato (Info@BaciGelato.com/1-888-441-BACI) whose flavors were really delicious and refreshing in a building that was getting hot with all the walking. Their Melon Gelato was really refreshing and light and had a hint of sweetness. The Lemon Ice was tart and sweet and also refreshing when wondering around the area of the show.
A new line of Cheese breads, Pao De Queijo, from Brazil really stood out. These light cheesy round breads can make the perfect appetizer or addition to a bread basket. With each bite these small bread bites have a chewy, cheesy taste of Parmesan and cheddar. I talked with the representative of La Toca Blanca (email@example.com-(201) 723-0838) and he told me this was something he grew up with and was proud to sell. These little balls of cheeses are highly addictive and delicious. I had to pop more than a few.
One of the beverages that tasted nicely and was refreshing was from Piper & Leaf Artisan Tea Company (www.piperpartner.com.-(256) 426-9620). These light tea blends had a nice flavor when they were able to seep and the flavors became more complex. I tried their Strawberry Shindig which was light and had a hint of the infused strawberries and their Lemon Berry Blush with tastes of sweet strawberry and a hint of lemon from the lemon grass infusion.
Another beverage company that was a stand out was Blossom Botanical Water (drinkblossomwater.com-(855-325-5777) with their line of infused refreshing bottled waters. All six of their flavors are standouts and when properly chilled it really brings out the flavors of the drinks. Of the six, the Lemon Rose was the big winner with its hints of rose petals and light sweet lemon flavoring and the Mango Hibiscus with its tastes of the rich fruits with an added tartness.
One of the bakeries that stood out was the Brooklyn Patisserie Bakery (www.brooklynpatisserie.com-(718) 852-1768) from Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn. This line of breads, scones, pastries and desserts stood out for their quality, taste, appearance and the fact that with every bite you could taste the whole butter in the dough and the fresh fruit in the danishes. Their apple and berry danishes made me visit the booth many times and their Chocolate Croissant was filled with a nice amount of sweet chocolate.
Another dessert product that was popular in the show and I have been to their cafe in Little Italy for over fifty years is Ferrara Foods (www.FerraraNYC.com-(212) 226-6150) with their decadent cannoli and tiramisu. Their pastry shells come in two sizes and the cannoli filling comes prepackaged so that you have the perfect filling for each bite.
Another Asian product that is new to the market and is just entering the United States is Mrs. Tran’s Kitchen (Murrayintltrading@yahoo.com-(718) 230-7888) When I was talking to the representative with the company the business was started by the General Manager of the company’s mother from her traditional recipes.
Their lines of dumplings, spring rolls and samosas are light, flavorful and really give a nice alternative when having Dim Sum with a product containing real vegetables and are Halal and MSG free. Their line of dumplings are light and flavorful.
Mrs. Tran’s Dim Sum Lines
Of the many savories that I tasted, there were more than a few that stood out. The French company Aviko (www.avikofoodsservice.com-(908) 375-8566) specializes in potato products. They offered delicious versions of French Fries which were cooked to perfection and on display for tasting. The two real products of theirs that stood out were their Gratins in both Gratin Cream and Cheese and Gratin Cheese and Broccoli.
Aviko’s Potato Gratins are heaven in each bite
Every little bite of these gratins has a rich, dense and sharp taste of the cheese and the broccoli version I think is the best for its richness and complexity of flavors.
They also have a line of pancake and waffle mixes that there were not sampling. The ladies had mixed the fritter batter with a mix of seafood and also battered shrimp. The batter adhered beautifully and had a wonderful crisp and crunchy outside and the seafood was moist on the inside. The flavoring had a nice malted flavor to it.
The delicious breadings and mixes from Drum Rock add flavor to seafood
Another standout product that was being sampled was from Balkan Bites (firstname.lastname@example.org). The ladies were sampling something called a ‘Burek’ which is a savory stuffed phyllo swirl that was filled with feta cheese and ricotta, beef and onion and potato and onion. These little bites had the rich butter taste of the flaky dough and the favorable fillings.
Each bite had a nice complex flavor of the meat, cheese and the dough. The beef ‘burek’ had nice spiciness to it.
This product is the ultimate appetizer or snack as they are breaded and deep fried on the outside and filled with flavorful savory fillings on the inside. All of the flavors are interesting. The Buffalo Chicken are spicy and sweet, the Hungarian banana pepper has a interesting twist to a calzone, the Mac & Cheese is decadent and the Steak & Cheese gives the Cheesesteak a new identity. This will be a very popular product in the market.
The Buffalo Chicken Crunch Roll
Leaving the food section of the show and entering the equipment and furnishings section of the Restaurant Show I noticed a lot of interesting designs both in dining equipment and display pieces to add conversation to any restaurant or specialty shop.
The Culinary Depot (Sales@culinarydepot.biz-(845) 352-8200) handles the lines of many manufacturers and one line of serving dishes that stood out to accent any buffet line was the Maximillan Steel Chafer dishes. These are total redesign of the traditional chafing dish and there is a beauty and elegance to their design.
The Maximillan Steel Buffet designs are clean and elegant
The IFI Gelato Collection (email@example.com@ifi.it-39-0721-20021) has some interesting ways of serving up the traditional gelato products but the one that stood out the most is the Tonda serving freezer. This revolving freezer shows off all the flavors carried in your sampling and only stops when you get to the one you want to serve. I can see an almost “I Love Lucy” sitcom value to this product of revolving treats.
Another kitchen product that mesmerized me at the show was the Peel-a-ton by Astra Inc. (www.e-astra.co.jp-(310) 733-7586). This automatic peeler is a cross between peeler, gizmo, bar conversation started and toy for bartenders.
What makes this product so unique is the way it peels the fruit in a whimsical way of taking off the skin while creating a garnish for the very drinks that contain the fruit. It is a nice way for a restaurant to both create garnishes and have the fruit ready for the kitchen while keeping the customers amused.
Peel-a-ton is an interesting piece of equipment
Another interesting addition to any restaurant is from the Compaction Technologies Inc. (www.compactiontechnologies.com-(612) 230-2200) with their new twist to trash disposal with the Ecotrash trash can.
Not only does this compact garbage, recyclables and food waste into a neat package but the design would fit into upscale food establishment or food court environment. They make waste disposal easy and sanitary while creating an elegant look in three colors.
Compaction Technologies Ecotrash machine
Another unique food court item that may not garner much attention but is needed was for the bathroom.
Wiz Kids Products (infor@WizKidProducts.com-(954) 323-2485) offered a new twist to the toilet seat with a set of vertical urinal screens in different colors and scents called the Splash Hog. They were not only decorative but hid smells. I knew this because they were using them in the bathrooms of the Javis Center.
Splash Hogs by WizKid Products
Two technology products that are going to change the way we do business and the way we capture customer information are by KounterTop for integration of information in the kitchen and by Eyecatch, a company that uses eye contact to ‘read’ who we are as a person.
Eyecatch (www.eyecatch.com-(954) 641-8451) is cutting edge technology that has been used on the West Coast for some time now. I had heard it is big in Seattle. The computer reads who you are and tries to guess your age and then sets up a profile about you starting when you walk in the door and then what you buy. The representative said that it will then start a profile on you and even offer you coupons and incentives the more times you come into an establishment. I thought it was interesting but to invasive and “Big Brother”.
KounterTop (Kountertop.com-(650) 900-4499)is an all in one computer program that schedules and staff, does Food Prep Management from waste to ordering and food rotation and also tracks sales, safe tracking and tip out management. It basically runs all your paperwork and back of the house reports to keep you up to date on restaurant profitability. I used to do it all by hand.
These are the developments and changes that are going to take our industry into the 21st Century. The scary part is that it is almost like a “Twilight Zone” Episode where everything gets automated and you no longer need humans to do the work anymore. Things are developing very fast but the industry has to remember something. We are still in the Hospitality field and you need the human touch to make people feel welcome. This changes are good for some aspects of the business not so much for others.
Every year the technology changes surprise and excite me but scare me at the same time. Who is going to be running the show soon? It will be interesting to see when I visit again in 2021 when more developments keep happening. Still it was an eye-opening show.
I can’t believe that the year went by so fast. I blinked my eye and the leaves changed colors and it was the end of the summer. The weather has been so unpredictable since the beginning of 2018, it is hard to judge the seasons. It was a cold Winter, was cool and rainy most of the Spring, and the Summer was either humid or rainy. We never had normal seasonable days the way we have had in the past. We had two rather nice days around Labor Day Weekend and that was about it.
The Fall became cool very quickly. Where as last year, the leaves did not change colors until November 12th, this year it got really cool early in October and the leaves changed quickly and were off the trees because of constant rain storms. So much for the seasons!
Halloween was the exception to the rule. We had a sudden burst of an “Indian Summer” and the weather to 59 degrees on October 30 and the night of Halloween it was 64 degrees, a perfect night for the Halloween Parade. It was nice to have three days of above 60 degree weather and then by November 2nd back down to 40 degrees. Still it made Halloween more fun and engaging.
Halloween activities ranged from watching films to museum events to the best part of all, the New York Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village. Its more of a lower Manhattan parade now but still keeps it heart in the community. I even designed our shirts for Engine One HHFD with a Jack-o-Lantern logo.
The Engine One Hasbrouck Heights tee-shirt logo.
My first activity of Halloween was visiting the Meadowlands Museum for the Annual Scarecrow Festival. The tough part was it was a gloomy day and there were not many participants. Still the people who came were really artistic and very enthusiastic. There were only a dozen or so scarecrows on the sticks but there were some interesting designs. The sad part was there were only about twenty or so people at the event. This could be a very interesting event if they advertised it more.
Scarecrow Day at the Meadowlands Museum in Rutherford, NJ
The second event I attended was the Ridgewood Schoolhouse Museum Historical Society’s Annual Cemetery Walk through both the Old Dutch Cemetery and the Valleau Cemetery across the street. This is an interesting tour that I did last year by with different actors at the grave sites.
What the Schoolhouse Museum located at 650 East Glen Avenue in Ridgewood does is they wait until nightfall and they take you on a lantern tour of the grave sites of prominent members of the Ridgewood community and an actor plays that person and describes their life and their role in the community.
Joe Suplicki from the Ridgewood Historical Society
Under the direction of Ridgewood historian, Joe Suplicki, who leads the tour into the graveyard with lantern in hand, you will walk a lighted path of luminaries into the heart of the cemetery to the different sites. The most interesting one I found on this tour was the mausoleum of J. J. Newberry, the founder of the discount department store. This company went out of business years ago but I had not realized the family had lived in Ridgewood.
The Cemetery Walk in Ridgewood, NJ.
The tour really does take you to the spooky parts of the cemetery and it is best to stay with the group. Although no one is popping out at you, you still have a creepy feeling from walking around all the tombstones. It is almost a relief to get back to the museum. The best part is that Demerest Farms in Hillsdale, NJ donates their apple cider and cider doughnuts to the museum for the end of the tour and that is a real treat.
You get to munch on doughnuts and listen to ghost stories from the head of the museum around ‘a campfire’. The best part is watching the kids scared from stories that are told and by kids I mean the forty year olds. Their children are too busy on their cell phones. The museum does a wonderful job every year and for the $10.00 donation it a nice tour.
My next venture on the Halloween list takes me to Croton-on-Hudson to the Van Cortlandt Manor to the annual ‘Pumpkin Blaze’. That is a site to see every year. Even though I have visited it over the last five years, I never get tired of looking at it. The estate is illuminated with hundreds of pumpkins. The pumpkins take all sorts of shapes, sizes, carved faces and even in the structures.
When you enter the estate, you are greeted with a form of mortuary, Halloweenish music that sets the tone for the walk. The Pumpkin Blaze has gotten even more popular in the four years that I have been going and I had to get the tickets way in advance. The weather was nice but it had cooled by this point and was in the low 40’s when I got there.
I was part of the last group that arrived at 8:30pm so the place was starting to clear out when I arrived. It is a lot easier coming towards the end of the night as it gives you more time to walk around.
The display was just as spectacular as in years past. You are greeted at the beginning of the path by the river with carved lit pumpkins of all expressions until you reach the pumpkin bridge, ‘The Pumpkin Zee Bridge’ and travel over it to the rest of the displays which include pumpkin jack in the boxes, a pumpkin ferris wheel and a pumpkin tunnel.
The Pumpkin Zee Bridge and Spider Web at the Pumpkin Blaze.
Through out the display, I walked the path by myself to see pumpkin skeletons, the pumpkin version of the headless horseman, spiders, dinosaurs and a pumpkin circus train. This lead to the main house, the Van Cortlandt Manor, where there were pumpkin scarecrows, a pumpkin cemetery and a light show at the manor that was ablaze with lit pumpkins. The whole effect was engaging.
I doubled back around the cemetery and walked through the sea of pumpkins smiling and grinning at me. The music continued to play as I doubled back through the display but by this time the crowds started to thin and it got colder. When I reached the gift shop it was about 38 degrees I heard someone say. I looked back at the dark lawn with the music still moaning and thought about the amount of work to make this spectacular display every year.
My last event of the holiday was work as a marshal for the Halloween Parade in New York City. I have been working as a marshal for five years now starting in 2014. My job is the least glamorous part of the parade. I work the performance gate where all the performers enter the parade route to their floats. It is also one of the tougher jobs of the parade as I have to make sure all the people who don’t belong in the parade stay out.
It has gotten easier since the passes are now on cell phones or the performers print them out. They know that they have to bring it to the parade. What I love are all the people who try to wheedle their way in to see the parade at its starting point. I have watched people say that they lived there, were staying at the hotel near by, they have dinner plans across the street, they are meeting someone there or try to sneak in with the groups of performers, After five years, I have gotten wise to everyone. The only problem I have is that I work with people who just let people in because they don’t want to confront people. I just tell them “and the cow jumped over the moon!” when they give me a lame answer.
This year I had a pretty good track record of keeping people out with new volunteers who followed the rules. It is fun watching the parade come to life. I have watched hundreds of volunteers come through the parade entrance in costume and with instruments in hand who volunteer to make the magic of the parade.
After we got everyone in the parade route, we closed the gate for the night and the NYPD protected it. I got to go into the parade route and by Broome Street got to watch the parade come together with a combination of floats, performing acts and costumed participants progress up the Avenue. By the time I got to the parade starting point most of the parade was already over and had proceeded uptown. I got to see the last of the floats and bands head uptown.
The robot themed puppets in the parade.
By 9:00pm, the last float headed uptown with a group of Mardi Gras drag queens yelling and screaming over disco music. The rest of the people in the parade were the costumed participants from all over the world who were thrilled to be in the parade. We left yelling and cheering as they entered the parade route.
There were many creative costumes in the parade. You had your usual cartoon characters, police, fire fighters, superheros and witches and devils. There was not much politics as I had seen in the last two years though there were a few Donald Trump masks. Maybe because I was seeing the end of the parade head up town, it looked to me like people were there to have fun and march in the parade less the politics. I did see some unusual and creative costumes such as geometric angels, elaborate dress costumes and show outfits. There still is a lot of creativity left in the population and they like to show it off one night of the year.
To end Halloween, we all met at Tipsy Parson on 156 9th Avenue for a parade rap up party. It was a nice way to end the evening meeting with all the parade marshals and volunteers. They had a nice meal for us as they did the year before with pulled pork sliders, spiced chicken wings, deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, chips and dip and assorted desserts. Everyone was starved by the time we got there at 9:30pm and made multiple trips to the buffet.
It was nice to sit back and laugh with everyone. My distant cousin, Mark Schuyler and I got to kid around through the evening about some of the stories we heard about people trying to sneak into the parade lineup. We have been swapping these stories now for five years ( I can’t believe it was that long) and still through the back of my mind I thought “We are here again? A year has gone by this quickly? Where did it all go?”
Through the laughing I realized that time has gone by pretty quickly and Christmas was right around the corner. As another Halloween drew to a close, I look back on this Halloween and realize that you can have fun without dressing up and Trick or Treating. You just have to see where life takes you and the experiences in front of you.
Halloween has never meant ‘Trick or Treating’ to me. Even as a child, I was bored with it by the sixth grade and did not want to go out for it anymore. I liked it better when I got to college and was able to be on the entertaining part of it. I would assist other student government leaders in entertaining small children during the holiday.
As an adult, I still assist with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department on the town’s Rag-a-Muffin parade and the holiday party over my years as a fireman. What I enjoy the most is volunteering for the Annual Halloween Parade in New York City and seeing the magic of a parade come to life.
For the last three years, I have worked with a very distant cousin of mine through marriage, Mark Schuyler, whose family married into mine (the Beekman family) about 150 years ago so hence I tease him and call him my cousin. Over the past few years we have assisted in getting performing groups in the parade to where they are supposed to be and keeping the wondering tourists and demanding New Yorkers out of the parade staging area. I can’t believe how many people feel because they live in Manhattan that they are ‘entitled’ to enter the parade staging area to watch the parade come to life. We have too many people to attend to and we are ‘working’ even in volunteer form.
My ‘cousin’, Mark Schuyler and I at the gate at the Halloween Parade
Watching the magic of our founder, Jeanne Fleming, as the parade gets bigger and more creative by the year, you can see the countless hours that so many volunteers put into making this parade special. I am a seven year Alumnus of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (with my seven years as a Macy’s executive in the Buying Offices) and know what it takes to organize a parade. This is more of a ‘peoples’ parade as the people who join the parade whether in a group holding puppets, performing in a band or waving on a float, these costumed participants are what make this parade special and add that spark to how real people mold this parade into what it has become.
Jeanne Fleming, our fearless leader at the Halloween Parade NYC
It is always an exciting night. We must have had a good group or I am just used to people trying to pull one over on me that I found it easier to get people in and out of the parade route. They will tell you every story to get in and no one wants to pay attention because we ‘know nothing’. I love when the answer always ends with ‘but I am a New Yorker!’ Great everyone, so are millions of others who know the rules of parade route. We are lucky to have the NYPD with us the whole time. A beefy police officer walking towards you usually ends the conversation.
When we finish our duties of getting all the talent to where they need to go, around 7:30pm, I get to see the rest of the volunteers work their part of the magic. You should see how the volunteers and the NYPD keep the order of thousands of people in costume walking in the parade and how it is coordinated with floats and marching bands. It is quite a feat. I have never seen people have more fun marching in a parade and showing off the creativity of their costumes or just enjoying the evening with family and friends. The parade route just keeps getting deeper and deeper every year as the reputation of the parade keeps getting bigger.
What really makes the Halloween Parade successful is the people who are participate. The thousands of New Yorkers, residents from the surrounding states and the foreign tourists that add their enthusiasm and sense of excitement of either watching or participating in the parade. I talked with people all night and it seems tourists from all over the world came downtown to see the parade. Even little kids came down dressed up for the evening who might not celebrate Halloween in their country.
Because I have to work the parade, I get to see the staging area of the parade on Sixth Avenue and I got to see the last of the floats and bands head uptown. The evening had been rather warm for Halloween Day but as it wore on it did get cooler and I could not believe some of the costumes these Caribbean and Brazilian groups were wearing on a cold night. It was not the tropics outside and I did not know how far some of these women were going to go before they had to put a coat on.
As the last of the bands heading uptown around 9:00pm, there were still hundreds of people in costume waiting to walk the parade route. It was cool but not cold that night but some of the people in costume I knew would not last long walking uptown. They were just not dressed for a cool New York night. Some of the costumes I did see really sparked with creativity from members of the books “The Wizard of Oz” and “Alice in Wonderland” to the casts of “101 Dalmatians” and “Star Wars”, some showed the time and effort of getting ready for a one night event. Others were standard but original costumes from cowboys and Indians to robots, witches, Demons and cheerleaders. Each one adding their own charm to the event.
Our last part of the evening for the crew of the parade was an after-party that one of the production company’s had for us. It was in a very nice loft near the NYU campus and I was not sure how many people they were expecting but one tray of ziti and one tray of ravioli is not enough for the hundred people that came through that night. We were all exhausted and cold from being outside all night.
As I took the subway back to Port Authority to go home, I saw costumed people walking all over the city, on the streets and in the subways. Plus the hundreds of people walking around going into restaurants and bars all over the city. As I learned from last year, restaurants all over lower Manhattan that stayed open even as far as Chinatown and Little Italy were busy for the rest of the evening.
This is my third year of working on parade and I can tell you it is never dull and gets more exciting every year.
This is the parade in 2016. I give the YouTube contributor credit for this video. I was working that day.
I am finding more and more that the professional shows are getting smaller and quicker to walk through. As part of my job as a college professor, I attend the shows to keep up with the latest trends in the industry. The New York Restaurant Show is one of the three shows I like to attend for professional reasons. The show is a showcase of all the new trends in the restaurant industry and all the new technology that is coming out. There has been a vast improvement in the purchasing, ordering and managing of a restaurant and the technology today is marrying all three systems from the waiter, to the cook, to the manager and purchasing director.
Even with all this new technology and innovations in furniture and decorations, the show keeps getting smaller every year and like the Hotel Show later in the year is a fraction of the size it was pre-2008. The good news is that they are slowly introducing the food vendors back in the show and that has made a difference in the number of people that I saw in that part of the show.
Technology keeps changing in the field. Everything is going based on the ‘cloud’, which can be a little scary because what do you do if the power goes off and the lights go out. One company that really stood was a company named “Toast”, which is Restaurant POS & Management System.
Their technology is interesting that you can marry both the waiter’s ordering system through tablets set up to the main system as well as being to able to not just able to adjust inventory through the dining room ordering but through how much food is cooked and then it lets you know what to order from your supplier as well as it lets you know what your best sellers on the menu. This is the trend right now in restaurants. I remember when we had to know it by POS sheets and past history as well as we had to do it all by hand. (www.Toasttab.com).
Passing by all the furniture and hardware vendors I made my way towards the end of the show where the new suppliers booths were located. There were some new products that were worth noting.
Pure Genius Foodservice had an interesting tasting product for health conscious customers, brownies and blondies made with a secret ingredient, beans. These desserts are gluten-free and vegan, under 200 guilt free calories with no nuts, no soy and no GMO’s. There are also made in a kosher, allergen-free facility. These come fully baked and frozen. All you have to do is thaw and they are ready to cut and sell. They come in Deep Chocolate and Chocolate Chunk Blondie. They are a very tasty dessert. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Another product that stood out was Grown-Up Soda (Gus) that is made with real juice and natural extracts, cane sugar, no preservatives, are kosher, gluten-free, non-GMO and can be easily used for cocktail mixers. Some of the flavors that stood out were the Dry Valencia Orange, the Dry Meyer Lemon and the Dry Cranberry Lime. These beverages delightful flavor to them and a wonderful fizziness to them. They might be refreshing on a hot day. (email@example.com)
Another beverage that stood out at the show was Bruce Cost Ginger Ale. Bruce Cost is a well known Asian themed chef who opened Big Bowl and Wow Bao in Chicago and brought the recipe of the fresh ginger ale with him. In 2014, he opened his own factory in Bushwick, Brooklyn. (Twitter @BCostGingerAle)
Some of the stand out flavors were that I tasted were the Passion Fruit and the Pomegranate. I found them fruity and flavorful and have a nice fizziness to them as well. They would be nice paired with both Asian and spicy Mexican.
I was impressed with Natural Cabana drinks. These were truly refreshing and would be perfect to drink on a hot day. These are made with 100% natural fruit flavored juices and natural lemon juice. They are sweetened with a combination of pure cane sugar and the pure sweetness of the Stevia leaf. The Stevia plant is a herb that produces a natural sweetness without the calories or carbohydrates. The flavors I tried were the raspberry, blueberry and the mango. They even let me sneak out a blueberry to enjoy on the way home that did not last one block once leaving the show. (Pulse Beverage Corp. 720-382-5476).
One of the snacks that stood out were Kitchen Table Bakers Parmesan Crisps. These pure cheese little crisps had a sharpness and snap to them. They would be great on a salad or just munching out of the package. There is a distinct zing to them when you bite into these crisp little snacks. (KTB@KitchenTableBakers.com)
Desserts stood out at the show as well. Allie’s GF (Gluten Free) Goodies were delicious and it was interesting talking to Allie herself. She is a AllerTrain certified baker who whips up cakes, cookies, brownies and tarts. She can make soy-free, low glycemic and Fod-map options upon request. Her facility is nut free as well. Allison Luckman created the business due to her and some family members having health issues to lactose intolerance and allergies to eggs and gluten. These tasty desserts satisfy any sweet tooth. Some of her standouts included her chocolate chip and banana buddies. (www.Alliesgfg.com)
Jersey Cookie Girl is a tasty and whimsical product in which the cookies are beautifully decorated cookies in various shapes, sizes and colors. Her face cookies and animal shaped cookies will be a hit at any child’s or adult’s party as well. They are almost to good to eat as each one is its own piece of art.(www.jerseycookiegirl.com).
Another beautifully decorated dessert that stood out was 2 Chicks with Chocolate chocolates that looked to good to eat. These colorful chocolates each had a unique hand-painting on them and were not just candies but each bite was a piece of art. These would make a great gift to any artist at heart and the perfect host gift. (2chickswithchocolate.com).
The show was not a total loss as there were many standout innovators but the show has gotten so small in comparison to previous years that I am beginning to wonder if they should just merge it with the Hotel/Motel Show and show all the products at one show and bring back a bigger food presence to compliment the items being shown to run a proper hotel or restaurant. It is just a thought.
Places to Visit:
The New York Restaurant Show is every March at the Javis Center in Manhattan.
I postponed my walk today and got all my errands done early so I could get to the parade route downtown on Dominick Street. It was my second year as a volunteer Marshal for the Annual Halloween Parade in New York City. This parade has gone in leaps and bounds in the twenty-five years that I have lived in the New York area.
Being in a parade can be exciting if you are the one marching in it. For those of us who work the parade, it can be a fun but trying evening. I got there at 4:00pm and it was nice because I worked with the same group of people that I did last year and we really get along well. It is also a very organized group of volunteers lead by our supervisor, Marc, who has been in the parade for years. Nothing gets past Marc including all the bullshit that people say when they are trying to sneak their way past the Marshaling area. I swear I heard some whoppers that even I didn’t know to believe.
Photographers arriving after the parade has already started looking for press passes, spectators who keep claiming that their friends are inside the Marshaling area, costumed people who would not walk down to Canal Street and walk through with the entertainers. Then the entertainers friends sneaking in with their friends not realizing that there is serious organization going into the parade from the launch area for the entertainers. I swear, we had more people yell at us as the parade was about to begin then all my years in retail. They all thought this is a spectator spot.
By six thirty, it was all out craziness considering many of the participants who were with musical groups and the floats were so late, it was a rush to get in. This is when everyone else tried to sneak in as well. So many people arrived late that by seven, some of the floats and bands had already left the staging area and were on route up Sixth Avenue. I saw more than one musician and costumed float marcher get annoyed when we told them their group left twenty minutes earlier. This is considering the parade was on a Saturday and there was not the usual traffic that day.
By 7:45pm, the parade had already long started and our duties were all done so we got to leave the post for the evening and I got to go inside the launch area and watch the parade from where the press stood, which is the best place to see everything at Spring Street and Sixth Avenue. There was so much going on getting the floats, bands and thousands of costumed marchers into their spots, I give my fellow Marshals for this part of the parade a lot of credit.
The parade from what I saw for the last hour of it was a lot of fun. People on the floats were preparing for their time slot, dancing around their creations, bands were putting the final touches on their costumes before the long walk up Sixth Avenue and then there were the thousands of people in costume corralled behind ropes ready to ‘walk the walk’ to show off their costumes to a huge crowd of New Yorkers, who were enjoying their version of Mardi Gras.
The Halloween Parade 2015
I had seen the parade as a spectator for years but to be part of the parade and see it from behind the scenes of how it is created for the pleasure for the spectators is amazing. The work that goes into planning this parade not just in getting sponsors and performers to perform but the building of the puppets upstate and the time and effort people put into their costumes for the parade is a true love of the holiday.
I wish I could have seen the parade growing up instead of the lame trick or treating in the suburbs I was subjected to every Halloween. For over a decade I worked in the city and it became a tradition with my friends and I or coming in with my father we would go to Chinatown for dinner and then go watch the parade. The last time I came to see the parade was in 2003 with my father and after dinner we settled in at 14th Street only to go almost mowed down by people trying to film the ‘Thriller Dance’ for the twenty anniversary of the video. After that, he refused to come in for the parade.
Thriller Dance The Village Halloween Parade
Towards the end of the parade after all the bands and floats had left to head uptown there will still over a thousand people ready to make the march. The alternate routes from Canal Street to Spring Street had people still coming up until about 9:30pm when the last of the marchers walked past us. Then started the clean up and break down by the police.
I walked down Spring Street after the parade to see massive amounts of people flood the bars and restaurants of SoHo, NoHo, Tribeca, Little Italy and Chinatown. The smart restaurants remained opened and were packed with patrons from the parade some braving the cooling evening and eating outside. It was still nice out by 9:30pm but temperature was dropping by the half hour.
I ending up at 456 Chinese Restaurant on Mott Street for the most delicious late night summer. They make a delicious shredded pork with plum sauce and the best crab and pork soup dumplings. I still consider this one of the best Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and the place stayed open to midnight the night of the parade. After dinner, I walked through Little Italy and their restaurants were still going strong at 11:00pm.
456 Chinese Restaurant on 456 Mott Street has the best Soup Dumplings
It has been such a nice night for the parade it seemed that every restaurant from 23rd Street to the tip of Manhattan stayed open and they were all busy! The parade attracts so many people that every restaurant from the fast food restaurants and pizzerias to the fine dining establishments were packed with people having a good time.
The inside of 456 Chinese Restaurant on Mott Street
By the time I back to parade site to take the subway uptown, the police had really cleaned up a lot. Most of the barricades were down and the garbage was being picked up. Another Halloween over and a another parade to look forward to in the future. It is something you should experience once visiting the city.
I credit ktodoma for this video of my second time in the parade as a marshal.
The Halloween Parade is every Halloween night on October 31st from 7:00pm to about 9:30pm. You can see the parade on Sixth Avenue.