The Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site at 28 East 20th Street
History of the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site:
From Wiki/National Park Service Pamphlet):
The house is a replica of the birthplace and childhood home of the 26th President of the United States. The house originally stood on the site was built in 1848 and was bought by the Roosevelts in 1854. Theodore Roosevelt was born there on October 27th, 1858 and lived in the house with his family until 1872, when the neighborhood began to become more commercial, and the family moved uptown to 57th Street.
The Flatiron District has to be one of the most interesting and beautiful architectural neighborhoods in New York City. Serving as the old “Midtown” from the end of the Civil War until WWI and the move uptown, this area was once the shopping, entertainment and commerce area of Manhattan.
When all the department stores and businesses moved uptown first to 34th Street and then eventually to their current locations on upper Fifth and Madison Avenues as the City core changed, the businesses left a treasure trove of exquisitely designed former office buildings and department stores that are being refitted for new businesses that are moving into this area.
The core of the Flatiron District on FIfth Avenue below 23rd Street
What was old has become new again as the desire for these well-built and designed buildings has become a paramount to new tech and marketing businesses. The buildings may have the appearance of the turn of the last century but there are being remodeled inside with the latest Internet technology and premium office space.
I started my walk down Sixth Avenue again on West 24th Street admiring the old department store buildings of the “Ladies Shopping Mile” with their Beaux Art style architecture and curvature symbols with the initials of companies that no longer exist. Just look up at the lions’ heads and pillars that dominate this architecture, and it shows this type of embellishment was used to draw customers in and showcase their elegant wares. These are now the home of discount retailers and small business offices.
On the side streets of this district, you see how companies used to impress the outside world with their elegant buildings as a ‘calling card’ of who they were as a company. Tucked between more modern buildings, there are some true architectural gems all over the neighborhood. You really have to stop and admire the detail work of these buildings.
As I rounded the corner down West 24th Street, slightly hidden by scaffolding but still seeing its beauty was 46 West 24th Street, the Masonic Lodge.
46 West 24th Street-The Masonic Lodge (Streeteasy.com)
The Masonic Lodge’s elegant structure was designed by architect Henry Percy Knowles in the Beaux Arts style and was completed in 1910. It was built for the offices of the Masonic Lodge on West 23rd Street and its embellishments were made of stone and brick work (Daytonian in Manhattan). It’s currently going through a renovation but you can see all its beautiful decorations on the side and top of the building.
Making my way down West 24th Street, you come to the center of the neighborhood, Madison Square Park, which the Flatiron District shares with Rose Hill, NoMAD and Kips Bay to the east and Gramercy Park to the south. These neighborhoods overlap between Fifth and Lexington Avenue and Park Avenue South, so take time to read my blogs below on those neighborhoods as well to share in all the wonderful things you will see in this section of the Manhattan.
Madison Square Park has become like a second home to me since walking this set of neighborhoods. It is a nice place to relax under shade trees in the hot weather and have snacks and eat your lunch while spending time people watching. It is also the home of many statutes of fascinating people and getting to know their history as well.
Madison Square Park is an interesting little oasis from all the traffic and office space. It has an interesting history since it was designated a public space in 1686 by British Royal Governor Thomas Dongan. It has served as a potter’s field, an arsenal and a home for delinquents. In 1847, the space was leveled, landscaped and enclosed as a park. It became part of the New York Park system in 1870. There are many historical figures featured in the park (NYCParks.org).
The park today is a major meeting spot for residents and tourists alike with a dog track and the original Shake Shack restaurant.
Madison Square Park in the Spring when I was walking the length of Broadway
An interesting sculpture that that welcomes you into Madison Square Park is the statue of William Henry Seward, the former Governor of New York State, US Senator and Secretary of State during the Civil War. He also negotiated the Alaskan Purchase in 1867.
Governor William Henry Steward statue in Madison Square Park
Governor William Henry Seward, who negotiated the Alaskan Purchase “Seward’s Folly”
When I walked into the park to take a break, it must have been the busiest section of the neighborhood between the playground and the original Shake Shack that were serving food to a crowd clung to their cellphones.
I stopped to look at the statue of our 21st President Chester A. Arthur, who had taken oath just two blocks away in his New York townhouse where the Kalustyan’s Specialty Foods is located at 123 Lexington Avenue (See My Walk in Kips Bay below). I thought about what was going on in our government today and what they must have gone through with this transition.
The Statue of Chester A. Arthur in Madison Square Park
George Edwin Bissell was an American born artist from Connecticut whose father was a quarryman and marble carver. He studied sculpture abroad in Paris in the late 1870’s and was known for his historical sculptures of important figures of the time (Wiki).
The Admiral David Farragut statue in Madison Square Park by artist Augustus St. Gaudens
Another interesting statue that stands out in Madison Square Park is the of Civil War Navy hero, Admiral David Farragut. Admiral Farragut commanded the Union Blockade of Southern cities and helped capture New Orleans. The statute was designed by sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens. This was the artist’s first major commission when it was dedicated in 1881 (NYCParks.org).
Augustus St. Gaudens was an Irish born American artist whose specialty during the Beaux-Arts era was monuments to Civil War heroes. He had created the statue the William Tecumseh Sherman in the Central Park Mall on Fifth Avenue along with this statue of Admiral Farragut. He had studied at the National Academy of Design, apprenticed in Paris and then studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (Wiki).
The Roscoe Conkling statue on the south side of the park
He trained for seven years (1849 to 1856) under the well-established sculptor, Henry Kirk Brown and then Ward went to Washington in 1857, where he made a name for himself with portrait busts of men in public life (Wiki).
The statue was created by sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward in 1893. Referred to as “the Dean of American Sculptors,” Ward contributed nine sculptures to the parks of New York, among them Horace Greeley (1890) now in City Hall Park, Alexander Holley (1888) in Washington Square Park, William Earl Dodge (1885), now in Bryant Park. Ward’s depiction of Conkling is a sensitive and vigorous portrait of him posed (NYCParks.com).
I love walking around the park in the summer, when you can admire the flowers and green lawns and relax under the shade of tree on one of the benches. When I walking through the park after classes during Christmas, the park was like a ‘Winter Wonderland’ with white lights lining the park, the Christmas tree in the corner of the park and Shake Shack decorated for Christmas.
Even during the day Christmas is in full swing in Madison Square Park
I crossed the park and entered the other side of the park that the Flatiron neighborhood shares with NoMAD and Rose Hill neighborhoods. This section of the neighborhood is still home to many headquarters of companies and the architecture displays the company’s influence in their industries.
The building was designed by architect William C. Frohne in the Beaux Arts style and was completed in 1911. The building was known as the Remington Rand Building being the headquarters of the Remington Rand Company who used to manufacture typewriters and electric shavers (Metro Manhattan.com). Look up at the exquisite detail work of the doors, windows and roof with interesting design.
Another building that stood out as I walked down the street was 125 East 24th Street, the St. Francis of the Friends of the Poor.
125 East 24th Street-St. Francis Friends of the Poor Building
The structure was built in the late 1880’s as the home of William Frances Oakley. When he passed aways in 1888, it became the Beechwood Hotel, a residential hotel for the carriage trade. In the 1937, it became a writing school and by the early 1950’s it was turned in SRO. In 1979, the Friars of St. Francis of Assisi bought the building as housing for the homeless with psychiatric issues. It is now home to the St. Francis Friends of the Poor, where it is a community for people who need assistance with their issues and helps them live a better and more productive life (Wiki/St. Francis Friends of the Poor.com).
The street art on the wall of the building is interesting and faces Lexington Avenue. One the corner of East 24th Street & Lexington Avenue is the Friends House New York, a housing unit. Painted on the wall is a very unique painting by Italian street artist, Jacopo Ceccarelli.
Painting by artist Jacopo Ceccarelli
The mural is on the corner of East 24th & Lexington Avenue-The St. Francis Residence Building
The Milan born street artist, who goes by the name “Never 2501” hones his skills after moving to San Paolo, painting murals with an edge that got global recognition. He uses geometric forms in his work with circles and lines creating the abstract (Do Art Foundation).
As I walked Lexington Avenue, it was like visiting an old friend. I had not walked around Kips Bay, which shares the border with the Flatiron District in a long time. The Baruch College promenade had finally been finished and students in their summer classes were hanging out there.
Restaurants that had shuttered when I was walking around the neighborhood had finally reopened and catering to the students and hotel guests in the area. I still did not see a lot of office workers, but the tourists have definitely come back to Manhattan. I have heard many languages on the streets.
As I walked back down East 24th Street, I noticed buildings that I had seen on walks in the neighborhood come back to life. It was nice to see people walking around the neighborhood again. As I crossed Park Avenue South, I saw the buildings that share the neighborhood with the NoMAD/Rose Hill neighborhood, and it looked like people were coming and going that afternoon.
As I walked closer to Madison Square Park, I noticed the large vault entrances to 11 Madison Avenue, the old Metropolitan Life North Building that had just been renovated. There was also the beauty of 5 Madison Avenue that now serves as the New Edition Hotel.
It was designed by architects Napoleon LeBrun & Sons inspired by St. Marks Campanile in Venice. From 1909 to 1913 this was the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower building. It was once the tallest building in the world until 1913 when the Woolworth Building was finished (Curbed.com/Wiki).
I remembered these impressive buildings facing Madison Square Park on my last visit to the neighborhood as they share the same borders with NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) and Rose Hill Farm neighborhood.
Owned by the Sapir Corporation now, the building was built in 1929 at the start of the Great Depression and was designed by architects Harvey Wiley Corbett and D. Everett Waid. It was built in the Art Deco style with clean lines and interesting embellishments on the interior of the building (Wiki). It is now home to many well-known companies (Wiki/Sapir Corporation).
The details in the entrance of 11 Madison Avenue
I crossed the park again and made my way back down West 24th Street. I rounded the corner on West 23rd Street to see many striking gems along this street as well. On the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street is 701 Sixth Avenue, the old Ehrich Brothers Department Store. The building was constructed in 1889 by architect William Schickel & Company with additions by Buchman & Deisler and Buchman & Fox in 1889 (Wiki).
Ehrich Brothers Department Store building at 701 Sixth Avenue (Wiki)
Another addition was added by Taylor & Levi in 1911 when the store was leased to J.L. Kesner. They added the terra cotta “K”s that can still be seen from the top of the storefront. The store folded in 1913 and then was used for manufacturing and offices as the shopping district moved to 34th Street and the Fifth Avenue area (Wiki).
At the corner of the neighborhood on Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street at 100 West 23rd Street is the second Macy’s Department Store building. This was on the very edge of the Ladies Shopping Mile that once stretched along Sixth Avenue.
The building was built in 1871 and you can see all the elaborate embellishments on it with interesting stone carvings and elegant window design and some wrought iron details on different parts of the building. It was the last location of the store before it moved to its current location at 151 West 34th Street.
100 West 23rd Street (Renthop.com) is an old Macy’s
Across the street on the other corner is The Caroline building at 60 West 23rd Street. This inventive new building showcases the future of the neighborhood and was once home to the former McCreery’s Department Store.
The stretch of West 23rd Street from Sixth to Fifth Avenues was once lined with elegant department stores and specialty stores extending this ‘Shopping Mile’ to the retail palaces of Broadway above Union Square.
The plaque outside the Carolina Building
One of my favorite buildings that stands out and was the filming spot for ‘McMillian Toys’ in the movie “Big” is the former Sterns Brothers building at 36 West 23rd Street. You have to look on the opposite side of the street to appreciate the beauty of the building.
The beautiful detail work above the entrance of the former Stern’s Brothers Department store
The stonework is amazing
The Stern’s Brothers Department store was built in five stage over a period of forty years. The original store which is the core of the building was built in 1878, where this magnificent entrance is located and the two wings of the building were built with the success of the store. The original store was designed by German architect Henry Fernbach in the Renaissance Revival style (Daytonian).
The store was added to two more times with the final addition coming in 1892 with an extension by architect William Schickel. When the migration of department stores moved to the new shopping district on 34th Street, Stern’s moved with it. The store today is Home Depot.
On the corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street is 186 Fifth Avenue, which was built for the Western Union Telegraph Company in 1883.
The Western Union Building on the corner of West 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue is 186 Fifth Avenue
The building was designed by architect Henry J. Hardenberger in the Queen Anne style with its details being in brick and terra cotta (Daytonian in Manhattan). The building just finished a restoration, and you can see the details by the windows and dormers.
The Flatiron Building at 175 Fifth Avenue over the summer in all its glory
As you look down further on the square, you will see the Flatiron Building one of the most famous and most photographed buildings in New York City. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham as a Renaissance Palazzo with Beaux-Arts style. The original name for the building was the “Fuller Building” for the Company. The name “Flatiron” comes from a cast iron clothes iron from the turn of the last century. (Wiki)
During the summer, street art created by both local and international artists are a big part of the decor on Broadway. This interesting work “Dancer” was by artist Tomokazu Matsumaya and was on display in the plaza next to the Flatiron Building.
The interesting artwork “Dancer” by artist Tomokazu Matsuyama in the 23rd Street Plaza next to the Flatiron Building during the summer months
The work by artist Tomokazu Matsuyama (gone by December 2022)
Artist Tomokazu Matsuyama is a Japanese Contemporary Visual artist from Japan who now lives in Brooklyn. He graduated from Sophia University in Tokyo and then attended Pratt Institute where he got his MFA in Communications Design. His influences are in global arts and is known for his sculptures (Wiki/Bio).
East 23rd Street that faces Bryant Park is a very commercial district with many interesting restaurant concepts from chain restaurants to independents that want to become chains. During the summer as it ended before school started, around the holidays I was able to eat in most of them. These places cater to the businesses that surround Madison Square Park and the families that come into the park to walk their dogs and use the playgrounds and dog parks.
The 23rd Street “Restaurant Row” south of Madison Square Park
The McDonald’s at 26 East 23rd Street is always popular and is open late nights. The food and the service is really good here.
Next to McDonald’s at 28 East 23rd Street is Dim Sum Sam, a dim sum restaurant that now has four locations in New York City. The only problem with this restaurant is that the further they move uptown from Chinatown, the higher the prices go for Dim Sum. A Roast Pork bun, although really good, is getting to be almost $3.00 instead of the $1.50-$2.00 it is in Chinatown. I know rents are more up here but there is only so much people will pay for this. Still the food is really good and when I can’t make the trip to Chinatown, this is my go to place.
Another local chain with several restaurants in New York City is Little Italy Pizza at 34 East 23rd Street. Their pizza, calzones and rolls are the best in all of their locations. They are also very reasonable for all their meals in all of their locations.
Next to Little Italy Pizza is another chain store delight, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, whose fried and iced doughnuts are the best. I was munching on a Lemon filled and Chocolate iced while I was walking around.
Further down the block is the new IHOP concept Flip’d by IHOP at 110 East 23rd Street. It carries items such as burgers, breakfast bowls and of course, pancakes. The day I was there one of the workers daughter was doing her homework while talking to her mother who was cooking the pancakes. It was a cute exchange between mother and daughter.
The Hamburger and French Fries at Flip’d are really good and I enjoyed my meal on my last trip there
The afternoon that I was there in the summer, Madison Square Park was really busy with people sunning themselves and walking their dogs. The afternoon lunch crowd was sharing the benches with nannies and moms and a few homeless people edging their way onto the benches. In the Fall, it was people eating lunch and walking their dogs. By Christmas, with the mild weather, people were still walking their dogs, admiring the lights and tourists coming back to the City were filling the tables of the decorated Shake Shack.
When I went to visit the Christmas tree again during the day in December, I came across this interesting sculpture to add to what is already in the park.
The statue ‘Havah…to breathe, air, life ” in Madison Square Park
Artist Shahzia Sikander is a Pakistani-American visual artist. She specializes in drawing, painting, printmaking and animation. She is a graduate of the National College of Arts Lahore in Pakistan and a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design in a MFA in Painting and Printmaking.
This fascinating sculpture will be in Madison Square Park for a limited amount of time. The storyboard above has a description of the statue. This adds a whole new dimension to the sculptures that line the park.
As you round the block again down East 23rd to West 23rd (with Fifth Avenue always being the dividing line) and you will see on the right is the beauty of 29 West 23rd Street. This turn of the last century building is now renovated and the home of Iron23, an event space.
29 West 23rd Street-now the Flatiron House
This elegant entertaining space can now be used for parties and events with long halls and high ceilings showing off it elegant features. A few doors down is another interesting building with the most unique and interesting details to the ornamentation of the building at 39 West 23rd Street.
39 West 23rd Street
The detail work of 39 West 23rd Street towards the far right of the building
It is attached to the two buildings to the left and please check out the attached website to see the interiors. They have really created something special inside these buildings. It is a creative use of old and new in the same building as it is now an elegant condo complex.
When you turn the corner again on Sixth Avenue, you are again faced with the lining of old department store buildings on both sides of the street and the elegant facade of the Ehrich Brothers Department Store to the the right that stretches from West 23rd to West 22nd Streets as you start the walk down West 22nd Street back to Park Avenue South.
Among the architectural gems of West 22nd Street is 7 West 22nd Street, The Spinning Wheel building. This elegant building was built in 19010-story Neoclassical/Renaissance-revival office building completed in 1901. Designed by architect James Barnes Baker as a store-and-loft building, it is three bays wide, with a 2-story rusticated limestone base, a 7-story arcaded midsection, and a 1-story attic. Over the entrances in the building’s end bays, “Spinning Wheel Building” is written in the cast-iron entablature. A limestone cornice with egg-and-dart molding caps the 2nd floor (Wiki).
Walking closer to the edge of Fifth Avenue is the detailed 4 West 22nd Street. This beautiful commercial building was built in 1904. Serving as an office building in the beginning, it is now a apartment rental with interesting floor plans to choose from.
At the edge of the neighborhood’s border with Gramercy Park is the unique 278 Park Avenue South. Which once served as a bank is now a gourmet grocery store for residents on the Flatiron /Gramercy Park neighborhood.
Known today as Gramercy Place, the property at 278 Park Avenue South was once the location of the New York Bank for Savings. The original bank building was completed in 1894 and though it was subsequently knocked down, the 1986-built Gramercy Place still showcases elements of the original building, including the marble and teak lobby (Propertyshark.com). It is now home to the Morton Williams Supermarket.
Across Park Avenue South from the former bank is 281 Park Avenue-The Fotograski Museum New York and the former Church Mission House. It was designed by architects Robert W. Gibson and Edward J. Neville and was finished in 1894. It was home to the Episcopal Church’s Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. It was inspired with a Medieval style design (Wiki).
281 Park Avenue-The Fotograski Museum on the edge of Park Avenue South and East 22nd Street
Fotografiska New York is the NYC location of the renowned Stockholm-based destination for the world’s best photography. Founded in 2010, Fotografiska was built on the foundation of photography as a haven for inclusivity and free expression.
The Fotografiska Museum in Manhattan
Our goal is to inspire a more conscious world through the art of photography. We showcase the greatest photographers, whether they’re emerging artists or already established internationally.
The building is a registered landmark built in 1894 and originally named “The Church Mission House”. We’ve renovated this iconic jewel to be a new experience of world-class art, cultural events, retail, and epicurean dining, in an awe-inspiring space.
The Dining area of the Fotografiska Museum
The Fotografiska Museum is the latest museum to enter the very crowded collection of museums in Manhattan. The beauty of this museum is that artist has a say of how the show is mounted which gives an interesting perspective to viewing shows here.
My “Trends in Tourism” class at NYU when we visited the museum in October
I headed back down East 22st Street, I passed all this interesting architecture and thought back to the architects who designed it, the period it was created and how it was being refigured into modern times for new businesses and living spaces.
As I crossed Sixth Avenue again to East 21st from East 22nd, I admired the old department store buildings again and stopped in front of the old Adams Dry Goods building at 675 Sixth Avenue and looked up at all the beautiful embellishments.
Samuel Adams, a merchant who had been selling upscale clothing and furnishing to customers in the area decided to open a store on Sixth Avenue. He used the architectural firm of DeLemos & Cordes, who had designed the Seigel-Cooper Department Store and the six-story building opened in 1902. The store was the first in New York City to use the new Pneumatic tubes to transport money and messages throughout the store (Wiki).
The problem with the store was its location. He built the store at the very edge of the neighborhood as the business changed. As the shopping area started to decline in the early 1900’s, Adams sold the store to Hugh O’Neill Dry Goods Store and they merged the two companies together, converting three floors of the Adams Dry Goods store to furniture. This concept was not popular as well and the businesses failed, and the store closed in 1913 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Adams Dry Goods Store today at Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Streets
The store has gone through a manufacturing stage and in the 80’s became part of the change to large box retailing. The building now houses eBay and several stores including Trader Joe’s and Michael’s. As we could see on the tour, the old department stores are finding new life in retailing.
The detail work of the old Adams Dry Goods Store at 675 Sixth Avenue
675 Sixth Avenue-The Adams Dry Goods Store
The store that sits to the right is the former Adams Dry Goods Store at 675 Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Street.
When I crossed Sixth Avenue again, as I was walking down West 21st Street and faced the beauty of the former Hugh O’Neil Department Store between West 21st and 20th Streets.
Our next stop was in front of Hugh O’Neill’s Dry Goods Store at 655 Sixth Avenue between West 20th and 21st Streets. It was built by the firm of Mortimer C. Merritt in the neo-Greco style who built the four stages of the building between 1887-1890 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Hugh O’Neill had started a small dry goods business right after the Civil War in 1865 with a small store around Union Square. In 1870, he decided to build a trade on the middle market customer and offered discounts on goods. The four floors of merchandise contained laces, ribbons, clocks and on the upper floors women’s and children’s clothing (Wiki).
When O’Neill died in 1902, the shopping area had just begun its decline and in 1906 it merged with Adams Dry Goods up the block. A year later they both went out of business as the area gave way to manufacturing. The building today has been converted into condos.
The Hugh O’Neill store today
As I walked down West 21st Street, I was greeted by 30 West 21st Street. Like most of the buildings in the district, it has almost a confection look to it. It is amazing how the renovations of these buildings over the last three years have brought back their original beauty. Built in 1907, this confection has been renovated to office space in recent years.
This beautiful turn of the last century building was once Danceteria, a trendy after hours club from 1980 to 1986. It had been one of the popular after hours clubs in Manhattan and the Hamptons. In 2008, the building was sold for renovation for office space and condos (Wiki).
This famous scene of “Desperately Seeking Susan” was shot at 30 West 21st Street
Down the street as you are approaching Fifth Avenue, I passed the costume company Abracadabra at 19 West 21st Street. When I entered the store around Halloween, the store was extremely busy with customers walking around choosing costumes and the staff restocking the store and helping people with their selections. While I was admiring the displays, one of the staff members said he would turn them on so that I could see how they behave. I felt like I had just entered a torture chamber in a haunted house.
Abracadabra front display. This man really looks like he is getting electrocuted
Abracadabra has a wonderful selection of costumes, props and decorations
Abracadabra is one of those stores that just stands out when you walk in. Every day is Halloween when you walk in the door and everything is there to shock and amaze you. It is a interesting blend of theater, imagination and creativity that makes the store come to life. Even the staff walk around in masks and costumes showing off the merchandise. Many I am sure are actors and artists using their own sense of style to show the costumes off.
There is no lack of interesting costumes to try on or accessories to match them. When you enter the store you are overwhelmed by the selection of items to choose from. Each section of the store dedicated to a certain type of costume. When you head downstairs, you so a lot of the makeup and masks that use to finish a outfit. You will walk around the store with a sense of wonder of walking into a funhouse. The store is an experience.
The core of the Flatiron District really is Fifth Avenue with all its elegant and detailed buildings. As you cross Fifth Avenue to East 21st Street the beauty of 160 and 141 Fifth Avenue really standout.
160 Fifth Avenue was designed by architect R.H. Robertson in 1891 and was previously home to the offices of McKim, Mead and White architectural firm. Throughout the 1920’s, the building served as headquarters for E.H. Van Ingen & Company, a large importer of woolen goods. It is now as modern office space with a rooftop garden (Medas.com).
Walking past Fifth Avenue is 141 Fifth Avenue another confection of architecture. This gorgeous building was built in 1897 by architect Robert Maynicke, who had also designed Sohmer Piano Building at 170 Fifth Avenue, in the Beaux Arts style for the Merchant Bank of New York (Flatironnomade.nyc/fsiarchitecture.com).
141 Fifth Avenue
141 Fifth Avenue-The Merchants Bank of New York Building
This impressive bank has recently been converted to luxury apartments with a current one sold at over three million dollars.
The detail work of 141 Fifth Avenue
When I passed 21 East 21st Street, I admired the elegance of this building that looked like an old mansion. It was built in 1900 as an apartment building and is now high end condos. The beauty of the details and the red color makes the building really stand out amongst the others on the block.
Just a few steps down the block is 24 East 21st Street with a smiling face guarding the door. This former commercial building was built in 1930 and has been converted into apartments called Infinity Flats. You have to look at the detail work around corniche area of the roof and around the entrance. The building is detailed and elegant.
Further down East 21st Street I walked past the detailed confection of 32 East 21st Street. The beauty of this confection is the carved stone detail work around the lower windows and doorways. The building was restored and renovated and is now the home for Harding’s, a local upscale restaurant. The building was originally a printing press office.
32 East 21st Street
32 East 21st Street
The entrance to 32 East 21st Street now the home of Harding’s Restaurant
At the end of the block that borders the Flatiron District and Gramercy Park is a the historic The Parish of the Cavalry of St. George at 61 Gramercy Park North. The church stands guard between the old and new buildings of the neighborhood and sets the tone of many of the older buildings on the block that once housed religious centers.
Parish of the Cavalry of St. George at 61 Gramercy Park North
The parish was founded in 1749 and the church moved to this spot in 1846. It was said that Edith Wharton used this church as the inspiration for the church in “The Age of Innocence”. It was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. in the Gothic Revival style.
This particular walk took so much time to write because I had just finished my walk about a week before graduate school started at NYU. I got so caught up in the first weeks of classes that I had to put everything aside and concentrate on school. This actually gave me more time to explore the neighborhood and see all the details in the buildings. I really discovered the beauty of the Flatiron district.
The Flatiron District at night walking through after classes
After my many walks through the streets of the Flatiron District and visiting Madison Square Park during the last several months, I decided to take the subway back to Chinatown again to try some restaurants that I wanted to add to my blogs.
I returned to some of the places I had tried in past weeks. I visited multiple times because I just wanted to try more items on the menu. The dumplings and baked goods that I had tried were wonderful and I wanted to try more items on the menu to make a comparison. Now that I had my new IPhone, I wanted to take more pictures and update blogs for readers.
I have been building up my blog, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and wanted to see how many of them had stayed open post pandemic. Many of these little ‘hole in the wall’ restaurants are going strong as Chinatown is continuing to come back to life.
I started my walk in Chinatown at China North Dumpling at 27A Essex Street across from Seward Park for some boiled dumplings. For ten large boiled dumplings that were really juicy and well cooked, four spring rolls and a Coke it was $7.00. Everything was so well made, and you can watch from the counter the ladies making the fresh dumplings right in front of you. The place is real bare bones, but the food and the service are amazing. Try to eat at the counter and watch everything get prepared.
China North Dumpling at 27A Essex Street located in the Lower East Side
In needed something sweet after all the fried foods so I headed back to Yue Lai Bakery at 137 East Broadway to look for a baked pork bun. They had none left at that time of the day, but they were having a special on their baked goods three for $2.00 and I picked out a Coconut Bun, a Cream filled Bun and a Plain Bun.
They bagged it all up for me and I walked over to Sewart Park across the street and sat on the benches and ate them one by one. The Cream and Plain buns were really good and very sweet, and everything was so soft and well baked. I ended up sharing the Coconut Bun with the little birds in the park who surrounded me looking for a handout.
After a nice rest in the park and enjoying the sunshine and watching families play with their kids, I found myself still hungry. So, I walked down Hester Street from the park and made my way to King Dumpling this time for some steamed Pork and Chive Dumplings. For ten dumplings and a Coke it was only $5.00. The Steamed Pork & Chive Dumplings were excellent and again were freshly made right in front of us. They are large and well-cooked and burst with juiciness when you bite into them.
King Dumpling at 74 Hester Street
The Fried Dumplings here are excellent and made in front of you
The place was packed with customers and people getting takeout. It is amazing to me how many people write about both King Dumpling and China North Dumpling and I had never really noticed them before. I saw them on a Fung Brothers “Cheap Chinatown Eats” video and then wanted to try them.
My last stop on the eating tour because even after twenty dumplings, four spring rolls, three pastries and three Cokes, I was still hungry and needed that baked pork bun. I found it at Happy Star Bakery at 160 East Broadway and it was just $1.75. Not the $3.50 in Midtown as I recently found at Dim Sum Sam in the Theater District. It was soft and chewy and filled with the most amazing, chopped pork and baked into a sweet dough. I barely made it out the door and I was finished with it.
Dinner that night was at ENoodle at 5 Catherine Street. I am not sure where I got my appetite from that evening but I managed to eat an entree of Roast Pork on top of rice and an order of Spring Rolls. Everything was delicious. You really have to search for this place as it is behind all this scaffolding. Again I had been watching Fung Brothers videos and they have mentioned this restaurant. It is worth the trip. The service is nice and the food reasonable and excellent.
All that running around really made me hungry over the last few months. When you are walking around the Flatiron District, my best advice is to look up and really look at the details of the buildings in this neighborhood. They really are special. You will not see buildings built like this again.
Passing Madison Square Park at night is quite a site!
Abracadabra right before Halloween is an experience into itself
Ghosts and Ghouls greet you when you enter the store
Abracadabra is one of those stores that just stands out when you walk in. Every day is Halloween when you walk in the door and everything is there to shock and amaze you. It is a interesting blend of theater, imagination and creativity that makes the store come to life. Even the staff walk around in masks and costumes showing off the merchandise. Many I am sure are actors and artists using their own sense of style to show the costumes off.
Abracadabra is no ordinary store
There is no lack of interesting costumes to try on or accessories to match them…
I am taking a class in Trends in Tourism for my graduation program in Global Hospitality Management and this included a recent trip to the Fotografiska Museum at 281 Park Avenue South. We had a meeting with a member of the Marketing Team at the museum and he explained how the museum functioned and the direction that they want to go to promote the museum.
After the talk, we were able to tour the museum. The exhibition that we saw as a class at NYU for my graduate program was the David LaChapelle exhibition. This was a unique blend of art with works in many different forms and ideas. The artist was…
It has been a while since I was able to get back into the City to continue my walk around Manhattan. Between work, trips up to the Hudson River Valley and Upstate New York for Fall events and then the Halloween holidays, it has been a busy time and a real balancing act.
I started the walk around Kips Bay, a small Manhattan neighborhood that borders Murray Hill from the North, Peter Cooper Village and Gramercy Park to the South and the Flatiron and Midtown districts to the West. The neighborhood runs from East 34th to East 23rd Streets from Lexington Avenue to the West and FDR Drive and the East River to the East.
Kips Bay has a very interesting history. Kips Bay was once an inlet of the East River running from what is now East 37th to East 32nd Streets and the bay extended into Manhattan island to just west of what is now First Avenue and had two streams that ran from it. The bay was named after New Netherland Dutch settler, Jacobus Hendrickson Kip, the son of Hendrick Hendrickson Kip, whose farm ran north of present day East 30th Street along the East River. The bay became reclaimed land but the name “Kips Bay” still remains in the area (Wiki).
An early British map of Manhattan showing “Kepps Bay”
The Kip family built a large brick and stone house near the modern intersection of Second Avenue and East 35th Street. The house stood from 1655 to 1851 and when it was demolished was the last farmhouse from New Amsterdam remaining in Manhattan. Iron figures fixed into the gable end brickwork commemorated the first year of its construction. Its orchard was famous and when first President George Washington was presented with a sip of Rosa gallica during his first administration when New York City was serving as the first National Capital (Wiki).
Kips Bay was the site of the Landing at Kip’s Bay, an episode of the American Revolutionary War (1175-1783) and part of the New York and New Jersey campaign. About 4000 British Army troops under General William Howe landed in Kips Bay on September 15, 1776 near what is now the foot of East 33rd Street off the East River. This was from a Royal Fleet which first landed earlier at Staten Island then Long Island for the pivotal Battle of Brooklyn (also known as the Battle of Long Island).
The previous month General Howe’s troops defeated about 500 American militiamen stationed at Kips Bay but General Washington and commanded by Colonel William Douglas. The American forces immediately retreated and the British occupied New York Town at the south point of the island soon afterward forcing General Washington to retreat northward to the Harlem River (Wiki).
The British Landing at Kips Bay in 1776
The neighborhood now sits just below Murray Hill East 42nd to East 34th Streets) to the north and just south above Peter Cooper Village (East 23rd to East 20th Street). Kips Bay like the rest of this section of the Eastern side of Manhattan is going through a make over. The small apartment buildings are slowly coming down almost creating a patchwork in the neighborhood between the high rises and office buildings above East 30th Street and the low rises that still dot parts of Lexington, Third and Second Avenues. Little by little everything is giving way as Midtown creeps into these neighborhoods.
Still Kips Bay has loads of charm, a slew of interesting restaurants, beautiful buildings and nice little parks to relax in and a breathtaking view of the East River and Long Island City. There is a online discussion about the eastern border of the neighborhood, Third to Lexington Avenues, which some consider part of the “Rose Hill” neighborhood, which itself labels itself “NoMAD” today (North of Madison Park). Even within the neighborhood there are subsections including “Curry Hill” or “Little India” along Lexington Avenue from East 29th to East 26th Streets which is lined with Southeast Asian provision and retail stores and great Asian restaurants where the scents of curry and cumin are in the air.
This is why I love walking in Manhattan is how you can go from one world to another in just a block. It shows the cultural richness and the diversity that makes Manhattan so complex and interesting. There is always something new to experience from block to block.
I started my walk in my usual headquarters for this part of Manhattan in Bryant Park. The Christmas Village and Skating Rink have been set up way in advance of the holidays and people were out skating, masks and all, and having a wonderful time on the first sunny day in a long time. The village stores are about a third of the amount from previous years but still stocked and ready to go. I think the City in the era of COVID “needs a little Christmas now”.
The Christmas Village got an early start Bryant Park this year
This is something I noticed when I walked down East 42nd Street towards Madison and Park Avenues when I passed office buildings. Christmas Trees and wreaths decorated lobbies all over the avenues much earlier than I have ever seen. Usually the Christmas decorations don’t come out until after Thanksgiving but the holidays are getting more rushed this year. Still even in the 60 degree days in November it really does cheer you up.
Park Avenue Office Building Christmas decorations
Arriving at East 34th Street and FDR Drive, I reached the border of Murray Hill and Kips Bay in the mid afternoon and it felt so familiar to me after so many afternoons exploring Murray Hill just that the weather had gotten cooler. There just seemed to be more people out as the City is getting back to normal after a trying summer.
When you do arrive here you are greeted by a playful piece of art just outside NYU Langone Children’s Hospital. “Spot” is a dalmatian balancing a taxi on his nose is located just outside the Children’s Hospital’s doors. “I wanted to make something so astounding to distract to even those arriving with the most serious procedures” (Artist Bio) the artist was quoted as saying when the piece was unveiled. It sits four stories in front of the hospital. It is a very playful piece of art that stopped me in my tracks.
“Spot” by artist Donald Lipski
Artist Donald Lipski is an American born artist who is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cranbrook Academy of Art. He is best known for his large scale works in public places (Artist’s Bio).
It was nice to see most of the restaurants in the area had finally opened up and with the warm weather still holding its grip, there was a lot of outdoor dining to choose from. Even before the pandemic, some parts of the neighborhood were being knocked down for new construction and work continued as I visited taking down many of the smaller buildings that used to house small restaurants. Still there are some great independent restaurants in the area that needed support.
I had lunch at Pizza & Pita at 344 East 34th Street right across the street from the small park that faces the hospital. I just wanted a slice of pizza and when I walked in a fresh pie had just come out. The pizza looked as good as it tasted.
Pizza & Pita at 344 East 34th Street (Renovated and renamed Previti Pizza in 2022)
The sauce has an amazing rich flavor and the loaded with cheese for a gooey consistency. It was so good that I stopped back later for a quick snack of their garlic knots. These pillowy delights came with a side of their delicious marinara sauce that was a pleasure to dunk them into and enjoy each bit.
The pizza here is great!
I just relaxed and ate my lunch in the small public plaza across the street from the hospital and watched as the hospital staff came out from their frustrating days and ate their lunches beside me. It seemed to do them well. The plaza has gotten busier since the late summer and it is nice to see people coming back to work and bring some life to the area.
While at lunch I admired another interesting art piece entitled “Stemmer” by New York City born American artist David Fried.
“Stemmer” at the plaza at East 34th Street and First Avenue
The artist grew up in New York City and attended the School of Art & Music and was accepted into the Arts Students League of New York. The “Stemmers” sculptures is one of his trademark pieces.
After lunch, I continued my walk down East 34th Street to the border of Kips Bay at Lexington Avenue. The neighborhood is very ‘old New York’ especially between First and Lexington Avenues with the small buildings and high rises from the 1960’s and 70’s. The area is currently going through a make over with new buildings but it still has that “Woody Allen” feel of New York. Everything is not gleaming and new.
Tucked here and there by buildings and courtyards on East 34th Street is a bevy of interesting street art. The block is almost an ‘open air museum’ of creativity. The statue “Thinking Big” which was formally in Central Park South on Sixth Avenue last year has found a home in front of 222 East 34th Street.
Jim Rennert is an American born artist known for his large bronze sculptures depicting the everyday man. Mostly self-taught, his works are seen all over the country and really do make a statement.
Walking further down East 34th Street just outside a little courtyard of one of the apartment buildings is artist John Sewart Johnson’s II sculpture “The Right Light”, a bronze sculpture of an artist and his easel. The sculpture is located just outside a building between Third and Lexington Avenues at 150 East 34th Street.
‘The Right Light’ by artist John Sewart Johnson II
Artist John Seward Johnson II was an American artist who attended the University of Maine and he is known for his ‘familiar man’ sculptures and icons paintings.
Located on the wall near this art piece is an interesting painting on the wall outside another apartment building by artist Colette Miller from her “Global Wings Project” which she created in 2012. She paints these ‘to remind humanity that we are the angels of this earth’ . With this graceful painting of giant ‘wings’, the artist hopes that there are a symbol of peace (Colette Miller’s Bio).
Artist Colette Millers “Global Angel Wings Project” 2020
Ms. Miller is a American born artist from Richmond, VA. She is graduate of the Art School at Virginia Commonwealth University and Film Studies at UCLA. As well as an artist, she is a film maker and musician. Her work has been exhibited all over the world.
Turning the corner onto the bustling Lexington Avenue, you see that the border of the neighborhood is a bustling commercial district with a combination of office buildings and apartments and as you cross East 30th Street a restaurant district with an international flair to it. The avenue is also lined with interesting architecture where many buildings stand out.
The New York Design Center Building at 200 Lexington Avenue stands out for its detailed beauty and its embellishments that accent the outside of the building. It was built in 1926 and designed by architect Ely Jacques Khan as the New York Furniture Exchange. The building was to cater to furniture and department store buyers. It now caters to the full interior design experience with furniture, lighting and textiles.
200 Lexington Avenue-The New York Design Center
Tucked to the residential side of the avenue is 170 Lexington Avenue an Italianate brownstone building that stands out for it yellow exterior. The brownstone was part of three building complex built in the early 1850’s. The house was owned by George and Elizabeth Youle, a wealthy couple with two married daughters. The address was originally 158 Lexington Avenue and then changed to 170 Lexington Avenue in 1866. Sometime in the 1940’s the yellow clapboard veneer was added in a renovation of the building (Daytonian 2020).
170 Lexington Avenue was built in the early 1850’s
Another building that had beautiful detail work carved into it is 160-164 Lexington Avenue, The Dove Street Marketplace, which offers floor after floor of high end goods.
The detail work is amazing on 160-164 Lexington Avenue-The Dove Street Market
The building has the most beautiful detail work on all sides. It was built in 1909 as the New York School for Applied Design for Women. It was designed by one of the school’s instructors, architect Wiley Corbett, to resemble a Greek Temple (Forgotten New York).
Across the street from the Dover Street Market at 154 Lexington Avenue is the First Moravian Church. The building was started in 1849 and finished in 1852 at the Rose Hill Baptist Church designed in the Lombardian Romanesque style. In 1869, the church was sold to the First Moravian Church which had been located at Sixth Avenue and 34th Street (Daytonian in Manhattan).
The First Moravian Church at 154 Lexington Avenue was built in 1854
As I crossed over East 29th Street, I was greeted by the sights and smells of curry and cumin in restaurants as I entered “Little India” or “Curry Hill” as some locals call it, a stretch of restaurants and stores that cater to the Southeast Asian population as well as locals and tourists alike.
The “Curry Hill” section of Kips Bay
This stretch of businesses extends from East 29th to about East 26th Streets created by the catalyst for the street, Kalustyan’s at 123 Lexington Avenue, a specialty food market specializing in Indian and Middle-Eastern spices and food items.
Kalustyan’s Specialty Market at 123 Lexington Avenue
Kalustyan’s has an interesting history. The market was started in 1944 by Kerope Kalustyan, an Armenian immigrant from Turkey, when his steel importing business failed. He turned to foods and spices that catered to the large Armenian population who lived in the neighborhood in the 1920’s. By the 1960’s and 70’s, are large Indian and Southeastern Asian population started to move to the City and Kalustyan’s was the meeting spot as they started to carry Indian spices as well. “Little India/Curry Hill” grew up around the store as immigrants opened their own businesses around the store (Wiki). Now Kalustyan’s carries foods and spices from all over the world (Kalustyan).
Looking down “Curry Hill” section of Kips Bay on Lexington Avenue
It is really an experience to walk around all the shelves and shelves of spices and see what is available. Then to turn the corner and see all the fresh and frozen foods from all over the world. it can be overwhelming.
Kalustyan’s is located in the historic Chester A. Arthur home
What is interesting about the store is that is was once the home of President Chester A. Arthur, who took office as 21st President of the United States after President James Garfield was shot in 1881. He was sworn in as president here in September 1881. President Arthur moved to New York City in 1848 and lived here for most of his adult life and continued living here after his Presidency. He died in the house in 1886 (Wiki).
President Chester A. Arthur taking oath in his home in 1881
The house is a five story masonry designed in the Romanesque Revival styling and has gone through many renovations over the years. The neighborhood went from a fashionable district to the home of one of the largest Armenian populations in the United States then to an Southeast Asian neighborhood to another gentrifying area of Manhattan.
The Chester A. Arthur house when he lived in it
After a quick tour around Kalustyan’s admiring all the spices and looking over their frozen food department with all its pastry and meat dishes, I was in the mood from some Indian food. I stopped at the corner at Curry in a Hurry at 119 Lexington Avenue. I needed a quick snack to keep me going so I ordered a chicken samosa ($2.45) and it was so good I went back for a beef samosa that had just gotten out of the oven. Both were extremely well spiced and full of flavor. I could taste the hot pepper and cumin for the rest for the afternoon (see my review on TripAdvisor).
Refreshed from a quick snack, I continued exploring Lexington Avenue peeking at all the menus of the restaurants as I walked down the road. The aroma from the kitchens reached the sidewalks and I had to make an mental note of the place I wanted to try in the future.
By East 26th Street, I passed “Little India” and was in front of the 69th Regiment Building at 68th Lexington Avenue. This beautiful building is the home to the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Fighting Irish” since the Civil War (Wiki).
The building was designed by architects Hunt & Hunt in the Beaux Arts style and was completed in 1906. It has been home to many events and show including the controversial 1913 Armory Show of contemporary art (Wiki). You really have to walk around the building to admire its beauty and history.
Just across the street is another beautiful building covered with snakes, skulls and dragons carved along the side of it at 130 East 25th Street.
Someone had a warped sense of humor
The former B. W. Mayer Building which now houses the Friends House in Rosehall was built in 1916 by architect Herman Lee Meader (Wiki). You really have to walk around the building to see all the unusual carvings that line the building.
130 East 25th Street, the former B. W. Mayer Building
The street art is also interesting on this part of Lexington Avenue. One the corner of East 24th Street & Lexington Avenue is the Friends House New York, a housing unit. Painted on the wall is a very unique painting by Italian street artist, Jacopo Ceccarelli.
Painting by artist Jacopo Ceccarelli
The mural is on the corner of East 24th & Lexington Avenue-The St. Francis Residence Building
The Milan born street artist, who goes by the name “Never 2501” hones his skills after moving to San Paolo, painting murals with an edge that got global recognition. He uses geometric forms in his work with circles and lines creating the abstract(Do Art Foundation).
I was getting hungry again with all this criss crossing across Lexington Avenue and I had two choices for a snack, DiDi Dumpling at 38 Lexington Avenue or Pick & Pay Pizza at 30 Lexington Avenue both having reasonable snacks. Since I would be stopping for Dim Sum later that afternoon, I chose the pizza. For a $1.25 a slice, the pizza was not bad in this tiny little hole in the wall that also served Indian food as well. The sauce had a lot of flavor and that is what makes the pizza.
I noticed on the wall right near the doorway near the Starbucks was another wall mural “Urban Ocean” by artist Yuki Abe that is off to the side of the building on the corner of Lexington & 25th, Look at the interesting color and design of the work.
“Urban Ocean” by Artist Yuki Abe
Surrounding this area of Lexington & 25th Street starts the campus of Baruch College which is part of the SUNY system and I could see students who were taking live classes walking around enjoying the day. I am sure it is much different when classes were in full swing and the students were hanging around the restaurants and coffee shops in the area.
The now finished Baruch College courtyard on campus
Another building that stands out in its beauty and design is on the corner of the neighborhood on Lexington Avenue between 24th and 23rd Streets, the Freehand Hotel at 23 Lexington Avenue. The hotel was originally built as the Hotel George Washington in 1928 and designed by architect Frank Mills Andrews in the French Renaissance style.
The Freehand Hotel (the former George Washington Hotel) at 23 Lexington Avenue
While still a apartment building and a dorm in the 1990’s, several famous New Yorkers lived at the hotel including artist Keith Haring and musician Dee Dee Ramone. Playwright Jeffery Stanley also lived at the hotel for a period of time.
The entrance to the Freehand Hotel is very elegant but still remains closed
I crossed East 23rd Street which is the edge of the neighborhood shared with Gramercy Park, Rose Hill and Peter Cooper Village further down the block. This busy thoroughfare is lined with a lot stores, restaurants and many interesting buildings that leads to the East River.
I stopped for lunch at a new Dim Sum restaurant name Awe Sum Dim Sum that had just opened on at 160 East 23rd Street and it was just excellent. I took my friend, Maricel, here for lunch after my birthday for lunch and we ate through most of the menu (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
The restaurant has the most amazing appetizers to choose from that are all made in house and served fresh to you either at your table inside or one of the many tables outside (while the weather holds out). On my trip with Maricel, we ate our way through the Fried Dumplings, the Chicken Siu Mai, the Spring Rolls, the Baked BBQ Pork Buns, the Scallion Pancakes and the Soup Dumplings. On my trip today, I ordered the Soup Dumplings, Crispy Shrimp Rolls and the Siu Mai with pork and shrimp.
The Soup Dumplings here are the best
With the cost for each running between $4.00-$6.00, I could eat my way through the menu. The nice part is what a nice contemporary designed restaurant the place is to dine in. Everyone is kept ‘socially distanced’ so it is a nice place to eat.
The inside of Awe Sum Dim Sum
After a nice relaxing lunch, I was ready to continue down East 23rd Street. Criss crossing the street again, I noticed the beauty of 219-223 East 23rd Street. The building has all sorts of griffins and faces glaring out. When you stand across the street, you can admire the beauty of all the carvings on the building along the archways above and the faces staring at you from the tops of windows.
Another building that stands out is 304-310 East 23rd Street. This former factory building was built in 1900 and now is the “The Foundry”, a converted condo complex. The amazing detail on the building stands out and you have to admire the stonework and details in the carvings along the building.
Reaching the end of East 23rd Street, you will see the planned middle class complex of Peter Cooper Village, which has gone market rate and is now getting very upscale and seems to have a younger resident walking around then the usual middle aged residents who used to be on the list to get one of these very desirable apartments.
The entrance to Peter Cooper Village at First Avenue
Across from Peter Cooper Village is the Asser Avery Recreational Center and Playground 392 Asser Avery Place with the famous baths and pools that have been part of the neighborhood for generations.
The Asser Levy Recreation Center and Park at 392 Asser Levy Place
When the baths opened in 1908, the facility was called the East 23rd Street Bathhouse. It was by architects Arnold W. Brunner and William Martin Aiken. Based on the ancient Roman Baths, the architecture was inspired by the “City Beautiful” movement, a turn of the century effort to create civic architecture in the United States that would rival the monuments of the great European capitals (NYCParks.org). The playground next to it opened in 1993.
The architecture by Arnold Brunner and William Martin Aiken resembled a Roman Bath
The Baths and Park was named for Asser Levy, a Jewish trailblazer in colonial times when Mr. Levy and 23 Jews fled from Brazil in 1654 to seek refuge in New Amsterdam. He challenged Governor Peter Stuyvesant when he tried to evict the Jews from the colony. He was the first Jew to serve in the militia and own property in the colony (NYCParks.org).
The border to the east of the neighborhood is combination of the East River Esplanade, FDR Drive and First Avenue. Since First Avenue and FDR Drive are surrounded by a combination of college campus and hospital space, it makes walking around the neighborhood tricky.
When you walk across East 23rd Street to FDR Drive, you have to cross over FDR Drive at East 25th Street behind the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System Hospital complex and the CUNY/Hunter College campus and then cross over the bridge to the Waterside Plaza complex.
The Waterside Plaza complex and the Greenway walkway
This series of apartment buildings faces the East River and FDR Drive that leads to the East River Greenway walkway and the Waterside Plaza walkway both surround the complex. The views are breathtaking on a sunny afternoon of the East River and Long Island City.
The East River Greenway and the view of Long Island City
On the way up the Waterside Plaza walkway, I passed the famous Water Cafe at 500 East 30th Street that is currently closed because of COVID. This famous restaurant has been around since the 1980’s and offers some of the most spectacular views. It was one of the best known restaurants at the time when “Restaurant Madness” hit the City in the mid-1980’s as the City went through its first wave of gentrification under the Koch Administration.
The Water Club at 500 East 30th Street is currently closed
I walked all around the Waterside Plaza complex and saw where all the joggers and walkers can exercise all around the complex. The walkways both lead back
to East 34th Street and the beginning of the walkway and where Kips Bay once was located. I walked around the NYU Langone Hospital when I crossed East 34th Street and walked down the FDR Drive extension around the hospital until I reached East 26th Street and crossed to First Avenue.
This part of FDR Drive passes behind the Langone complex and the Bellevue Complex and be careful as there are security guards all over the place. They totally avoided me because with the tinted glasses I think they thought I was there to check them out. The side streets of East 30th to East 28th Streets are closed off to the public and you can’t walk down them without security looking you over. There is not much to see here but a parking lot and the back of the hospital complex.
I walked back down East 26th to East 25th Street and crossed back over to where the bridge was located and walked back around the Asser Levy Park and walked through the park. The three times I was in the park no one was there and the park seemed a little depressed with the homeless camping out.
The City Opera Thrift Shop at 222 East 23rd Street (Closed February 2023)
I made my way back down East 23rd Street and stopped in the City Opera Thrift Shop at 222 East 23rd Street. They have the most interesting artwork and books, couture clothing for women and children and some decorative items on the second floor that have been donated to the store to help support the charity. Don’t miss shifting through the store and all the racks to find that perfect outfit.
Walking around the first floor of the City Opera Thrift Shop is an adventure
As I walked back up East 23rd Street passing the historic buildings and restaurants I walked through the Baruch College complex to see that campus was being renovated and was really quiet. It is spooky to walk through a college campus and see no one. It was one of the cooler days when I visited the neighborhood and no one was around.
Before I finished my walk of the border of neighborhood, I stopped back in “Little India” and had dinner at Anjappar, a South Indian restaurant at 116 Lexington Avenue at 28th Street. I had not had Indian food for a long time and thought it would be a nice way to end the evening.
Anjappar at 116 Lexington Avenue
I was the only person eating in the restaurant that evening so all the attention went to me. The waiter gave me her great recommendations and we were able to talk about the best dishes to try. Since all NYC restaurants are only at 25% capacity, not too many people can eat there anyway. It was a quiet night with just a few to go orders while I was there.
The food and the service were excellent. With the recommendations for the waiter, I ordered the Anjappar Chicken Marsala, which was in a spicy chili and curry sauce served with a side of white rice and a side of Parotta bread, which is a buttery spiral bread that is a specialty of the region. The entree was so spicy that it cleaned my sinuses out and added a little spring to my step. For dessert, I order a house specialty, the Pineapple Ravakesari, which was fresh crushed pineapple in a polenta type of grain with a sugary top. It was served warm and was the perfect combination of sweet and tart. It was the perfect dessert to end the meal and cap off the afternoon of adventure (see my review on TripAdvisor).
The wonderful curries and Parotta bread of that dinner
When I reached the point of the beginning at Lexington Avenue and East 34th Street, I thought back to the wonderful sites and views from the island that Kips Bay offers . From the interesting open air art museum to the views along the river to the historic buildings and sites and smells of “Little India/Curry Hill”, there is so much to see and do in the neighborhood it even took me several trips to see just the border of the Kips Bay.
What would the British think today if they landed here? It would be more than Mrs. Murray’s punch and cake to keep them distracted.
Mrs. Murray entertaining the British in here home when they landed in Kips Bay.