This was the first year that “The Great Saunter Walk”, the 32-mile perimeter walk around the entire island took place since 2019. Since I had done the walk twice on my own, actually doing more of the walk than was required. This year I wanted to make it official.
I officially finished “The Great Saunter Walk” in May of 2022
The problem was by the time I wanted to sign up for the walk, it was completely sold out. So, I was put on a waiting list. With a prediction of rain all day (and it did rain all day!), many people dropped out before the event occurred, so I got to sign up. On a very gloomy Saturday morning, I got to the Frances Tavern at 7:30am to register and start the walk by the entrance of the Staten Island ferry.
Rather than rewrite the whole day, I updated the blog that I have written over the last two years and added to it. I hope you all enjoy my journey around the most famous island on earth on the gloomiest and rainy day ever. I hope you enjoy the journey!
My story of my walk around Manhattan island:
“The Great Saunter Walk”:
July 15th Walk:
I wanted to complete the walk again in the Summer to look at if from another perspective and walked the island perimeter again on July 15th. It took another three and a half hours to do the walk. This is due to meal breaks and just exhaustion due to the heat.
Normally I walk “The Great Saunter” in June around the time of either Father’s Day or the Summer Solstice, so that I have plenty of light. The problem was I was so busy in June that I had to push it back to July and the biggest problem was the heat. In the morning when I started the walk, it was cool and in the high 70’s due to the clouds. When they broke around 10:00am, it started to get hotter and went to the mid 80’s. It would not have been so bad, but the humidity plays a role in the walk. When I did the official walk in May, it was so cold and wet we never stopped for a long break as we all just wanted to get it done and go home.
In the warmer months, I like to stop and relax at various parks like Jefferson Park in East Harlem or Carl Schulz Park on the Upper East Side and let my legs relax. The reason why we finished the walk in May quicker is because the businessman who I was walking with in the last leg of the walk around Stuyvesant Cove just wanted to finish as well so we never stopped.
There were a lot more people in the parks that day, so it made maneuvering a bit harder and, in some cases, like in Jefferson Park, people were all over one another. I have noticed one thing and it is not just in New York City, people’s courtesy has gone way down. People were riding their electric bikes and motorcycles in the paths of the park and on the sidewalks practically knocking people down. One very over-weight woman rode a moped through the main path of Jefferson Park chasing her dog and nearly ran over two little girls who had just finished swimming. That was something!
The nice part of the walk in July was the clear sunny day it had been and being able to enjoy the breezes and the sunshine. It is much nicer to do the walk on a pleasant day than in the rain.
Sometimes you walk through a neighborhood and you come across a little shop that is just so cute and interesting that you have to stop in to see what they carry. This is the attraction of Epices Bakery on West 70th Street, a small French pastry shop with beautiful and delicious desserts. Not only is the selection nice but the sights and smells when you enter of freshly made coffee and buttery baked goods greet you when you walk in.
There is a nice variety of baked goods in the glass cases to choose from. One side of the store is dedicated to pastries like eclairs, cream puffs and fruit tarts and the other has savory breakfast items like ham and cheese croissants, small quiches…
I cannot believe that another Christmas has come and gone and COVID is still raging around. Talk about having to adapt to a new world a lot wiser and more aware. I have just become more careful over the last year and kept my activities to a minimum (yeh right, I still run all over the place for work and keeping people informed about happenings all over the place). I just try to stay safe. I put my walk of the Garment District on hold for the Christmas holidays and all that came with it.
Christmas started right after I came home from Thanksgiving dinner in Lambertville when the next morning, I had to wake up at 6:00am to get ready to go to the Christmas tree lot for the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree Drop Off of the trees. We had 390 trees being delivered and it was all hands-on deck.
Setting up the Christmas trees
Who knew that the truck would arrive at 8:00am and we got caught off guard. No one expected it to come until at least 10:30am. So, at 9:00am, over thirty members and their children emptied all 390 Christmas trees off the truck (they shorted us ten trees), got them tagged and ready to sell. We had not even finished tagging the trees and our first tree sold at 10:30am.
The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at Christmas tree set up 2021
I stayed on the site until 4:30pm and we had already sold the first twenty-one trees. I could not believe how fast the trees sold that day. The only reason why I left is that I had to help with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department on the town’s Annual Holiday Parade. God did it get cold that night.
The night after Thanksgiving, the Hasbrouck Heights Chamber of Commerce holds the Annual Holiday Parade and the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department is always a participant from helping Santa enter town in the Parade to setting up the sound system for the Tree Lighting Ceremony. I swear it got so cold that night by the time the town lit the tree it must have gone down to 35 degrees. Thank God we bundled up!
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Holiday Parade
After the tree was lit, I never saw a place empty out so fast. People were so cold! Even with all our layers, we were cold too.
I did an about face and the next morning left for Beach Haven, NJ to attend some of Long Beach Island’s Christmas activities. The day ended up being much nicer and was a bit warmer. It is a two-hour trip to the shore and you would think that a beach community is not the place to spend an early Christmas weekend but you would be amazed at the activities they had planned all over the island that day.
I left the house around 8:30am on what started out as a gloomy morning that turned sunny and clear by the time I reached Long Beach Island. I decided to visit the Barnegat Lighthouse first to see if it was decorated with lights like the lighthouse at Montauk Point. That was always impressive the years I went out to visit my friend, Lillian.
The lighthouse was not decorated for the holidays but was finally open to walk in and climb the stairs. It was over a hundred steps up and back down. What a view all the way up. There were small stops on the way up with views on each level landing. By the time I reached the top of the stairs there were only three of us up there and God was it windy. I only lasted at the top of the lighthouse a few minutes before I almost blew off. What views of the waves coming in!
The Barnegat Lighthouse at the tip of Long Beach Island
Before I made the journey to the southern part of the island on my November trip, I stopped by the “Santa’s Viking Christmas Village” to see the arts and crafts festival at Viking Village at 19th and the Bay Barnegat Light. It was a sunny but cool afternoon but the winds had calmed down and I was able to walk the booths with no problems. I was in search of homemade Santa’s for my mother’s upcoming birthday. I found them in two different booths, one made of a conch shell and another made of wood.
The local seafood restaurant was open for takeout and you could smell the fried fish in the distance along with the horrible singing by a guitarist who could not carry a note. Thank God he took a break in time for the Barnegat Light Fire Department to bring Mr. and Mrs. Claus to the Village for a visit to the local children.
Santa’s Viking Christmas Village at dusk at closing
After touring the Village, I made my way back down Long Beach Boulevard to the LBI Foundation of The Arts & Sciences Holiday Market 2021, which was mostly full of more expensive artwork and home decor products. It was not as festive as the Village Market and all our mask wearing steamed up everyone’s glasses which was a big complaint.
My next stop was the Long Beach Island Historical Society which sponsored an “Elves Workshop” for kids and their parents with all sorts of arts and crafts happening at twelve different tables lining the front room of the museum. There was cookie decorating and Christmas tree creation with beads and cloth and gingerbread house making. To end the evening, they had Smores and Marshmallows roasting over open firepits in the park across the street.
The Elves Workshop at the Long Beach Island Historical Society
The museum knows how to welcome in the holiday season.
The Christmas display at the front of the Long Beach Island Historical Society
After my visit to the Historical Society, I went down the road and revisited the NJ Maritime Museum 528 Dock Road right by the water. I had read so much at the shark attacks in New Jersey back in 1916 and wanted to see the exhibition again. I also wanted to see the exhibition on shipwrecks again so I spent the rest of the afternoon at the museum and then walking down to the harbor to watch the sun set. The sun sets on that island are amazing.
For dinner that night, I went back to the Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in the Beach Haven downtown. The food and the selection here is just excellent and the perfect place for comfort foods on a cool night. My waiter could not have been nicer and recommended the White Clam Chowder, which was so thick and rich and you could taste the cream and fresh clams in every bite. God the seafood was so sweet.
The Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ
For dinner, I started with the New England Clam Chowder and did it hit the spot. Loaded with clams and potatoes in a rich cream soup. It warmed me up inside. I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie for the entree, which was delicious as well. Chunks of chicken and fresh vegetables in a flaky crust and a rich gravy. On a cool night by the shore, there is nothing like it to warm you up. Talk about making the perfect choices for dinner.
After dinner on my visit in November of 2021 at the Chicken or the Egg, I finished dessert at The Woo Hoo and walked up through the downtown to see the last of the people roasting marshmallows in the park and walked to Kapler’s Pharmacy at 1 South Bay Street. The drug store was sponsoring horse drawn carriage rides around the neighborhood. I thought what a nice way to end the evening with a twilight view of the sun setting and watching the Christmas lights going on at houses around the neighborhood. The Jersey Shore at Christmas can really surprise you.
Kapler’s Pharmacy event at 1 South Bay Avenue in 2021
I thought it was a nice group of visits to get my mind off what is going on in the world. What’s better than the Jersey Shore in warm weather? Visiting at all times of the year in warm weather and then returning for the Christmas holiday events. Who says the Shore closes at Labor Day?
Later that day I found out that Michigan State beat Penn State 30-27. What a way to end the day on my November trip!
After a short trip down to my mom’s for her birthday and two Private Member Nights in New York City at The Met and the Museum of the City of New York (see blog below):
Day Two Hundred and Eight: Private Members Nights in NYC:
it was back to Rhinebeck, NY for the Sinterklaas Parade and Celebration on Saturday, December 4th. I swear I was running from one place to another the whole week but was looking forward to the parade that had been cancelled last year because of COVID.
I travelled back up to Rhinebeck again for the festivities and got there by 10:00am in time to help unload the truck at the Starr Library. That brought back a lot of memories from parades past and it was so nice to walk around the cool air of Upstate New York. What started off as a very gloomy morning cleared up and it ended up being a clear, sunny and mild day in Rhinebeck.
We unpacked the familiar floats and puppets from years past and put together the bees, owls, geese, knights and dragons, horses that would lead Sinterklaas down his route and Children’s puppets that had children hoping for better times ahead. I always enjoy the comradery of the morning of putting the puppets together for the parade. Our theme this year was “Miss Mouse and Mr. Toad get married” so our events were based on the two characters getting hitched.
(I wanted to thank volunteer Jonathan Green for these pictures)
Me (in the jacket and khakis at the set up for the ‘Sinterklaas Parade’ in Rhinebeck, NY
Setting up the puppets for the parade is interesting
All the latest puppets ready to enter the parade
Mr. Toad preparing for his marriage to Miss Mouse
Miss Mouse preparing for her marriage to Mr. Toad in the Sinterklaas Parade
The Dragon is preparing for his duel with the knights of the parade
The puppets were set up in record time and we were finished by 11:45am
After we were done with the puppets, I drove down to Downtown Rhinebeck and parked a few blocks away and walked over to Main Street and joined in the opening festivities at the Beekman Arms. The restaurant was already packed with customers when I got there and the banquet room was full of visitors at the Opening Ceremony.
I had already checked in to my hotel, so I did not have to come back to the hotel until later that evening. This time I stayed at the Marriott Poughkeepsie which was much closer to Rhinebeck than staying at the one in Fishkill. I have to say that both hotels were wonderful when I was visiting the area.
The Marriott Poughkeepsie at 2641 South Road/Route 9
The Opening Ceremony at the Beekman Arms is always a lot of fun. All the costumed characters are introduced like the Pocket Lady, Mother Holly (who is always feeling jolly), the Queen Bee and the Snow King and Queen. They also introduced the Mayor of Rhinebeck and his wife, who portrayed Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse and reconfirmed their wedding vows in real life in front of the whole crowd. I thought that was very touching and I told her this later when I ran into her at another event.
After the marriage ceremony and the traditional Polar Bear Dance, Jonathan Kruk, a well-known storyteller, told the story of Sinterklaas. Mr. Kruk is a wonderful speaker and knows how to tell a story. He always captivates a crowd. Even though I have heard the same stories for years, I still enjoy listening to him speak.
No one is better at storytelling then Jonathan Kruk at Sinterklaas
Because I said that I would help with the checking in with the volunteers for the parade, I had to be back to the library by 4:00pm so that only gave me about a little over two and a half hours this time to enjoy the festivities.
What was nice was the policy blocked off the Downtown area so that everyone could walk in the streets and watch the performers do their thing. There were bands on stilts performing rag time music and holiday classics, the Polar Bear danced around and greeted visits with a quick spin on the street and I visited the Toad Stool where Mr. Toad and Miss Mouse greeted each visitor with a bundle of ribbons so that you could give them to strangers for good luck. I had never heard of that tradition before but it was interesting to walk through a giant toadstool.
I also walked around the businesses that were open and admired the store window displays. It was as if each store was trying to outdo the other for creativity and beauty of the Christmas season. My favorite was Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street in Downtown Rhinebeck.
I watched the Grumpuses, Sinterklaas’s helpers do their traditional dance, singing groups entertain the outdoor crowds (Keeping COVID safe) and performers with sticks doing their routine. What I liked about Sinterklaas this year is that there were a lot of outdoor venues, so people were not cooped up inside wearing masks.
By 3:00pm I was starved and knowing that I would not be able to eat until way after the parade was over, I stopped at Pete’s Famous at 34 East Market Street. I love dining here and like their generous portions and the friendly service. I had my favorite Turkey Club sandwich with French Fries which is always good. They roast their own fresh turkey every day for their sandwiches.
The day started to fall into dusk and the whole town was being lit up. This is when Rhinebeck shows its true beauty as a Christmas village. All the trees in the Downtown are lit with white lights and adorned with paintings of the Sinterklaas Festival and ribbons. Also, all the stores light their windows and it makes the whole town look like a Currier & Ives woodprint.
Downtown Rhinebeck at dusk
Downtown Rhinebeck at night when its magic comes to life
I got back to the library at 4:00pm and assisted the staff in getting everyone ready for the parade, explaining how to work the puppets and hold them and making sure that everyone knew to listen to the marshals who were running the parade when it started.
It had been two years since we had a parade but it felt like time had not even passed by. I love to watch the parade come to life. As everyone lines up, the lights go on at each puppet and the bands get into high gear. Then there is the excitement of walking down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck to the adoring crowds of the parade.
The crowds have tripled in the decade that I have been volunteering for the parade. The first time that I volunteered it was in 2010 with my father on my first trip up to Rhinebeck since being at the Culinary Institute and then I started volunteering again in 2014 when I started working on the Halloween Parade in the City. Just like that parade, excitement builds as the parade starts.
Walking down that hill is an amazing thing as people get so excited to see the floats and hear the music especially at this time with COVID raging on. Things seemed more festive as this is an outdoor event and it was two weeks before the omicron outbreak raged the country. It was a night of revelry and welcoming in the holiday season.
Sinterklaas is a magically evening in Downtown Rhinebeck
Because the positions in the parade and the puppets were all filling myself and the other person, I worked with on checking people in took the “Follow the Banner in the Parade” banner down the hill to get everyone to the staging area for the conclusion of the parade. We were right behind the drumline of women who concluded the parade and whipped spectators into a dancing frenzy. I watched as people literally danced in the streets happy to be outside enjoying this evening. It was so nice to see families have such a good time.
This wonderful view of the parade that was posted online of ‘Sinterklaas 2021’
The parade ended in the community parking lot with all the characters are introduced and the well wishes to Sinterklaas and his entourage. There was music and the fire eaters showing their talents off to the large crowd who were looking towards a much happier holiday season. It was just nice to see everyone having a festive evening.
After the ceremony was over, I just walked around Downtown Rhinebeck, admiring the beautifully decorated windows and admiring the white lights adorning the trees. I love this downtown at Christmas. I stopped at Village Pizza for dinner and it was nice to just warm up. God is their pizza delicious.
After dinner, it was another quiet walk around downtown Rhinebeck to admire the lights and the window displays. I love walking around this town.
Downtown Rhinebeck before nightfall
Downtown Rhinebeck before dusk
The next morning, I was off early to join some of the other members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association for a modified Christmas hello to all our retired firefighters living in the NJ State Firemen’s Association.
Since our party was cancelled for the residents due to COVID, we gave our gift to the residents the week before (we got each resident a long-sleeved shirt that was monogramed with their name on it which I heard they all loved) and we also had a special Jersey Mike’s lunch for the residents the month before to ring in the holiday season.
Because of COVID regulations, we could only have a few members come but myself and the President of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association talked with our fellow firefighters during ‘Holiday Bingo’ or walked around to greet them and wish them a ‘Merry Christmas’.
Santa greeting guests at the NJ Firemen’s Home in Boonton, NJ in 2019 in better times
It was just for a short time that we were allowed to stay but the members of the home appreciated it. We wanted to let our fellow firefighters know that we did not forget them during the holidays.
Members of the NJ State Firemen’s Home enjoying the Jersey Mike’s dinner we sponsored
Classes took up most of next week for me as we prepared for my Introduction to Business class to make their big presentation to me for their final grade. So, I was running around most of the week working with both my online class and my live class as we were getting ready for final exams.
On Thursday, December 9th, I took a break from all of my grading and went to see the production of “A Christmas Pudding” at Bergen Community College where I work. The students were putting on a Christmas retrospect of songs and readings which was a very nice performance.
The Theater students sang many traditional and contemporary songs from the American songbook with one student singing a very emotional version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” from the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis”. Considering everything that was going on with COVID, I thought it was very touching. The students did a good job with the production and it really put me into the Christmas spirit.
The Play “A Christmas Pudding” at Ciccone Theater at Bergen Community College on December 9th
Another thing that put me into the Christmas spirit was all the new songs coming out this year. Did we need some Christmas cheer this year! I wanted to share two of my favorites that came to me via YouTube.
These two songs appeared on the Internet when I was writing this blog and I thought they were very symbolic of what is going on right now during the holidays as we try to resume to a new normal. I wanted to share them with all of you.
John Legend’s new Christmas song: “You Deserve it All”
Nora Jones new Christmas song: “Christmas Calling”
Kohmi Hirose did this great version of “Sleigh Ride” in English
On December 10th, my students presented their Class Group Project entitled “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022” and the students did a terrific job with the project.
The students logo to “I’ve got a Golden Ticket to Bergen Community College-Homecoming 2022”.
Here is the presentation with all the commercials:
Day Two Hundred and Nine on my “MywalkinManhattan.com” blog:
This “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory themed project was inspired by the 50th Anniversary of the film. I had the students watch the film for inspiration and ideas, then put the framework for the project together and they took it from there.
There is a message from me their CEO as well:
A welcome from CEO/Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
I could not have been prouder of my students both in my live class and in my online class who created the individual Class Project, “Market Street Candy & Confections”, reopening a 100-year-old candy store with a modern twist.
Here is the project with all the graphics that the students created:
Day Two Hundred and Ten on “MywalkinManhattan.com”:
With the major class projects over with, I prepared the students final exams and emailed off my online students their exam first. While they came in, I was able to grade along the way. Taking a break from that over the weekend, I visited Hope, NJ for a Lantern Walking Tour of the town and then a Candlelight Church Service at the Methodist church.
The Hope Annual Moravian Christmas Tour and Church service in Hope, NJ
I discovered this tour when I was traveling out to the Delaware Water Gap when I was updating my blog on “Visiting Budd Lake” and I stopped in Hope before heading to Blairstown, where I had wanted to visit the Blairstown Museum at the end of the day (it had closed by then). I saw this flyer when one of the shopkeepers in town handed it to me and I thought it would be an interesting event. What an eye opener!
I never heard of the history of the Moravian religion before and how they founded the town. We toured all the former factories and homes that had been built around the turn of the last century and then heard actors talk about that time during Christmas. Life just seemed slower then.
This is also where the opening scenes of the cult film “Friday the 13th” were shot. The initial scene where Annie arrives in Crystal Lake for her journey to the camp. I included the clip from the opening scene and the what the current locations look like now.
“Friday the 13th” from 1980 filmed in Hope, NJ
The famous opening scene from the film “Friday the 13th”
The inside of the Hope Junction Antiques with one of kind artwork and antiques.
This unique store carries an array of local and regional artists work, the owner’s personal art pieces and a selection of decorative items and antique pieces. It had an interesting selection of holiday items when I visited the town both on my journey through Budd Lake and Route 46 and when I took the walking tour on December 11th. The store was open still right before the tour.
Burgdorff Realty at 2 Walnut Street where Annie enters the truck
The cemetery is the ‘crossroads’ but is actually right down the block from the antique store and the realty company. This is now part of the St. John’s Methodist Church. This is where the Candlelight Services were held.
But I was not there for a movie tour but a cheerful Christmas tour of Moravian history. I met my tour group at the Hope Community Center which was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Before the tour started, the Hope Historical Society who was running the tour was selling food and Christmas items as a fundraiser. We started the Lantern Tour from this location.
The Hope Community Center at 5 Walnut Street decorated for Christmas
When we finished visiting some of the old factories, we visited ‘Trout Alley’, where people used to travel to get around the toll booth when they arrived in Hope. The path is now used to get to the antique store at the end of the path.
The Hope Historical Society was the sponsor of this program and was open the evening of the tour. We got to walk inside and look at old pictures of the town, old maps and artifacts that have been donated over the years by local residents that are part of the history of the town. The small one room building also houses vintage furniture and household and dress items. Please look at my blog at VisitingaMuseum.com above.
Looking down the street from Downtown Hope, NJ to the Inn at Millrace Pond where the Festival of Trees was located.
The house on High Street where we heard about Moravian Christmas traditions
Costumed characters sat on the porch that evening and reminisced about life at the turn of the last century as they prepared for the Christmas holidays. They talked about the hours needed to prepare the decorations and food for the legions of relatives and friends that would be visiting.
It was more spectacular at dusk when it was lit for Christmas
The First Hope Bank and Moravian homes that are now private residences
The bank was called the Gemeinhaus, which was the church/community center of the village. It was built in 1781. The house next door which is part of the bank is the Caleb Swayze House that was built in 1832.
Moravian Residences by the bank
The Caleb Swayze is the house towards the right and it was built in 1832. It is now part of the bank.
The homes and the current bank at dusk lit for Christmas
The Toy Chest Toy Store at 335 High Street a former Moravian home
I have been to the Toy Chest Toy Store many times on my journey to Hope, NJ and it has the most amazing selection of toys, games and collectibles in the area.
Moravian home where the Manger program was performed and after it was over, we visited many local homes of prominent residents from the area. To end the tour, we visited the back of someone’s garage where there was a live nativity scene performed that evening with actors reading from the Bible.
This interesting little barn/garage is across from the church and I thought looked quite festive
St. John’s Methodist Church at 354 High Street and the former Moravian Church where the Candlelight services were held. The service is posted on their Facebook page below.
I attended the Candlelight Christmas services at St. John’s Methodist Church which had once served as the Moravian Church and the service was followed as it would have been at the turn of the last century. The visiting priest had once been head of the church here and gave a very inspirational talk on the holidays that was followed by the lights being dimmed and caroling by candlelight which gave the whole church an interesting glow (you can see the whole service on the church’s Facebook page attached).
Afterwards I took one last walk around Hope to admire all the lights and decorations. After a quick slice of pizza at Hope Pizzeria at 435 Hope Blairstown Road, I was on my way home through the darkness. It really does get dark on these back roads until you hit Route 80. The little pizzeria is tucked into a small strip mall on the side of the road and has great pizza. It really was a festive and interesting evening.
Hope Pizza and Catering at 435 Hope Blairstown Road
For my Christmas present to myself every year, I go to Carnegie Hall for the NY Pops Christmas Concert but it ended up being on the night of my final exam and there was no way to cancel it, so I had to miss it again this year (COVID cancelled it last year).
When I visited the City the Sunday before for the “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I walked back to Port Authority through Lincoln Center and I wanted to see what was going on this Holiday season and I saw that Kristin Chenoweth was performing a one woman show to promote her new Christmas album that Monday night. I was on the Internet that night to see if there were tickets left for the show.
The “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History at Central Park West at 79th Street
The next night I had tickets in hand and off I went to Lincoln Center which I had not been to in two years since I had seen “Whipped Cream” in December of 2019 for the holidays. It was so nice be dressed up and going to the Met again. The theater was packed with people with the same idea. The City was ablaze with Christmas colors and lights.
Lincoln Center in all its glory at Lincoln Center Plaza
What a concert! Talk about being in sync with the holidays and just what the doctor ordered after a long semester. I needed a good concert and this really put me into the holiday spirit. Ms. Chenoweth was really in great spirits that night and brought the house down with these two songs from her album plus playing from Broadway shows and the Great American Songbook. It was a great Christmas concert and I left humming down Eighth Avenue.
This song opened the show at the Metropolitan Opera House on December 13th, 2021
I was starved when I left for the theater since I was in a rush to get into the City that afternoon with enough time to make the concert and still grade quizzes that were coming in from my online class at the Cornell Club.
I had a sudden craving for Linguini in White Clam Sauce so off I went to Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 58th Street which I had visited over the summer. I ordered their Linguini in White Clam sauce which ended up being a piping hot almost pound of pasta with a quarter pound of clams on top ($10.95) with a Coke. Talk about excellent and the perfect dinner on a cool night. The sauce was so flavorful and the clams were so sweet and fresh. I ate contently and the manager was so happy when I told her the food was excellent. Talk about an end to a wonderful evening.
The Linguini with White Clam Sauce was just superb that night at Amore Pizza Cafe
For the rest of the week, I had visited the Met and the Museum of the City of New York for private events and while seeing the new “Shark” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, I went to see the “Origami Tree”, that has been a staple of the museum for years. All of these events really put me in the Christmas spirit and put the ghosts of last Christmas behind me. It was not too last.
The Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History
I wanted to visit the Hudson River Valley again before the holiday season was over and I saw on the Dutchess County Tourism site that Mount Gulian, a mansion near Beacon, NY was being decorated for the holidays and December 15th was the first day it would be open for touring.
I grabbed my aunt and we decided to spend the day visiting decorated homes and towns for the Christmas season. Our first stop was Beacon, NY to visit some of the stores on my website, LittleShoponMainStreet@wordpress.com, Colorant and Flora a Good Time both located in the downtown area and then off to Mount Gulian, a decorated mansion up Route 9.
Downtown Beacon, NY at Christmas
Mount Gulian was the home of the Verplanck’s for generations, the original house burned to the ground in 1938 and this house is a replica of the original sitting on the original home’s foundation. The house is decorated in many of the Verplanck’s family heirlooms donated by branches of the family over the years.
The main rooms on the first floor of the home including the former living room, dining room, sitting room and library were all decorated for the Victorian Christmas holidays. The hallways and doorways were also adorned with garland and bows and lights giving a festive and warm appearance to the house.
The tour took about an hour (see my blog on VisitingaMuseum.com) and the history of the house was discussed at various times and how family members called it home. Our tour guide also gave us interesting facts on the family and their connection with the house today. It is so nice to hear that various members of the Verplanck family still take an interest in the home.
Mount Gulian’s Dining Room decorated for Christmas Dinner
The sitting room at Mount Gulian
After the tour was over, the tour guide invited us to enjoy refreshments of hot cider and home baked goodies. Since there were only three of us on our tour, it gave us a chance to discuss the history of the families in the Hudson River Valley, the status of these famous homes and the future of historic sites of the region. It was really an engaging and interesting afternoon and the tour guide could not have been nicer. The whole event really represented what the Christmas experience is in the Hudson River Valley.
Between the Sinterklaas Parade in the beginning of the month, visiting the decorated homes of the region and walking the festive downtowns of the area giving them a “Currier & Ives” look about them. Dutchess, Ulster, Greene and Columbia counties really know how to convey the holiday spirit.
Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas
Our next stop was visiting Rhinebeck, NY which we arrived before dusk. The town was just lighting the trees and all the storefront windows were beautifully decorated for the holidays as they were on the night of the Sinterklaas Parade. The only town I know that can compete with Rhinebeck for the title of ‘Christmas Village’ is Cape May, NJ.
Rhinebeck has a magical look at nightfall
Samuel’s Sweet Shop at 42 East Market Street gets into that spirit every year
I love the way they merchandise the store for the holidays and their prices are very fair on their candies and desserts. You have to try their doughnuts.
Our next stop after leaving Rhinebeck was downtown Red Hook, NY which to me represents the best in small towns in the Hudson River Valley with excellent reasonable restaurants, creative store owners and a blend of old and new in architecture. Plus, everyone is so friendly when you shop and dine there.
Downtown Red Hook, NY
I have written about my many trips to Red Hook in my blog “MywalkinManhattan.com” and discussed visiting the downtown and its proprietors.
The Red Hook town Christmas tree is such a great addition to the downtown and it more amazing at night as is the rest of the town when it is lit. When it gets dark in town, Red Hook gets that classic Americana feel to it.
Downtown Red Hook’s Christmas Tree
Downtown Red Hook, NY at dusk is so beautiful
After the walk around Red Hook (most of the stores closed early that night), my aunt and I crossed the Kingston Bridge and visited the ‘Stockage District”, the historical and shopping district of Downtown Kingston, to see how the town prepared itself for the holidays. It really was beautiful even with the light rain.
Downtown Kingston, NY at Christmas
The businesses had garland and beautiful white lights adorning them and the windows were very festive as in the other towns. Large snowflakes decorated the main streets which were lit brillantly.
Downtown Kingston, NY Christmas tree
The Kingston, NY Christmas tree is right in the middle of the downtown shopping district and gives off such a holiday vibe. It is also so beautifully decorated. It really brightens up this stretch of the street.
Our last stop that evening was visiting Woodstock, NY, where I had spent three wonderful Christmases and is a place that I highly recommend spending the holidays. The Christmas Parade every year is so festive and well organized. The town is also so nicely decorated for Christmas and the square always has the most unconventional Christmas tree. They are usually oddly shaped and decorated and that’s their charm.
By the time we got to town that evening, all the stores were closed for the night and we dined for our early Christmas dinner at Shindig at 1 Tinker Street.
The love the Christmas tree in Downtown Woodstock, NY. It always looks so unusual.
Downtown Woodstock, NY square and Christmas tree
My visits to Woodstock, NY during Christmas meant a lot to me and I always loved going to the town’s Christmas Parade on Christmas Eve night. Santa always makes such interesting entrances.
Shindig has the best hamburgers and some of the most delicious mac & cheese. Talk about great comfort food on a cool misty night in the Catskills. We were the last customers to dine there that night, so they did not rush us as they were cleaning up for the night. Don’t miss their Cowboy burger. I highly recommend it.
We had such a wonderful time visiting all the towns with their Christmas decorations and beautiful window displays. The Hudson River Valley is a wonderful place to get into the Christmas spirit. Who knew with all this Christmas cheer that all hell would break loose two days later.
Thank God I did all these events when I did because by Friday, December 17th, the night of my final exam, there was panic all over the country with the spread of a new variant of COVID, Omicron. All of a sudden, this new variant from South Africa started to move like wildfire all over the country and New York City was inundated by it.
I had to stay home all weekend and grade final exams because grades had to be posted by Tuesday. All I heard on the Internet and on TV was the rapid spread and the almost panic mode that everyone went into. I hauled up in the house and concentrated on school and getting the students emailed with their grades so that they could relax and enjoy their Christmas break.
I posted all my grades by Monday night and had to drop off all the paperwork on Tuesday at the college. I was just glad that they had not cancelled classes on Friday night when I was giving my exam. That would have been too much on me scrambling to get the exams done. Since I was the only one teaching on a Friday night, I was hoping they just forgot about me and the class would just happen which it did. Thank God!
Tuesday afternoon, we had a sparsely attended Faculty Party which I thought was very nice considering what was going on all over the country. We kept our masks on while we were walking around the room and enjoyed a lot of finger foods made by our Culinary Department and soft drinks. It was nice to just talk to people through our masks and catch up with people I had not seen all semester.
On the Sunday, December 19th, the Sunday before Christmas, the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department held its Annual “Santa Around Town”, one of the highlights of the holiday season for both the town and the department. Last year because of COVID rules, we could only drive down each street slowly waving at residents.
This year we were able to go back to making stops and greeting each resident and taking pictures with children and their families. Even a family dog decked out in its Christmas jacket joined in the fun. It was nice to see people outside and engaging with their neighbors.
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s ‘Annual Santa Around Town’
The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s “Santa Around Town” 2021
By Monday, December 20th, it seemed that the whole country was going crazy with the new COVID variant. Flights were being cancelled, people were putting get togethers on hold and families were abandoning their plans for the holidays. Our family seemed fine until one by one, things kept happening the whole week and everything was derailed by Christmas Eve.
First my brother’s flight was cancelled and he could not get another flight until late Christmas Day so he nixed coming to Delaware for Christmas. Then a family member got sick so my mother cancelled all Christmas plans including our family dinner. She did not want anyone at the house who was not vaccinated. This derailed the plans even more as family members and friends were not vaccinated so no one was going to visit her house that day.
So when my mother called me to tell me that everything was being cancelled, I immediately looked into going back to Woodstock, NY where I had spent many happy Christmases. These plans were abandoned when my other brother’s flight was fine and he was coming for Christmas and he did not want to spend it alone in Rehoboth Beach.
So, I changed my plans again and booked a room at the Chalfonte Hotel’s Southern Annex and Thank God was able to book the last room at the resort. The main hotel was closed for the season but the Southern Quarters is the small B & B concept they have next door, which serves guests all throughout the winter months (the main hotel will not reopen until May).
This was the weird part about the eve before Christmas Eve, it snowed overnight which it was not in the forecast and it looked like we would have a white Christmas. Since it was supposed to rain all day on Christmas, I looked at the weather and thought ‘great having to walk around with wet weather on Christmas’ but like the rest of the holiday season, Christmas Day brought its own surprises. After paying my respects at the cemeteries, it was off to Cape May to start the holidays.
My Christmas Eve was spent as it had three years earlier, going to dinner at the Boiler Room at The Congress Hotel for dinner. I love their coal-burning oven pizzas and their fresh salads. The dinner was really amazing and the restaurant was pretty busy all things considered. I guess some people were not going to be spooked by everything going on around us, myself included. I figured I was fully vaccinated and if I wore my mask every place, I needed to I would be fine.
The Boiler Room Pizzeria at The Congress Hotel in Cape May, NJ at 200 Congress Place
I had the most wonderful dinner. I started with a Mixed Green salad with Balsamic dressing and chopped strawberries which had the most complex flavor with the sweetness of the strawberries playing off the Balsamic vinegar. The greens were so fresh that they crunched when I bit into them. For the entree, I had the Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza with fresh mozzarella. Talk about a crisp pizza and the sauce could not have been more delicious with the fresh tomatoes and olive oil.
After dinner was over, I walked all over The Congress Hotel which is always so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holidays. The halls are lined with white lights and garlands and a fire roaring in the fireplace in the main hall. Outside on the lawn, there a colorfully decorated tree and decorated tables with pool heaters for people to sit under.
Seeing the casual and engaging conversations the other guests were having you would have never known that there was a major outbreak going on. Most people walking around the hotel were not even wearing masks.
After walking through the grounds and through all the gift shops to see what was for sale (their gift shops are really nice and they have an interesting bakery), I walked the Washington Mall which serves as the Cape May downtown. All the stores were closed by this point but I got to admire all the beautiful window displays and the white lights adorning the trees. The only town that can rival Cape May at Christmas is Rhinebeck, NY. Both have that Christmas feel to them.
The Gazebo in Downtown Cape May
After my walk around Downtown Cape May, I went to 9:00pm Christmas Eve mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Downtown Cape May at 525 Washington Street. I needed some spiritual guidance at this time of the year as well as the rest of the congregation did as well. What really surprise me again was that 95% of the parishioners did not wear masks. I guess people in Cape May thought they were away from the danger (I wore mine through the whole service, hey you never know).
Our Lady Star of the Sea Church at 525 Washington Street in Cape May, NJ
It was a beautiful service with the choir singing and a very inspirational Christmas talk from the priest. The service could not have been more perfect and the church was so beautifully decorated with Christmas trees with white lights and poinsettias all over the place. Very secular but still in the spirit of the holidays.
The next morning, I had to be on the Cape May ferry at 10:15am and there was literally nothing open for breakfast without going to one of the hotels and there was no time for that. There was no food service at the ferry and the woman at the ferry was unsure if food was going to be available on the boat (it was we both found out later), so I left the ferry and had to go to the local WaWa around the corner at 3719 Bayshore Road.
If there was ever a meeting place on Christmas Day that everyone congregated at it was the local Wawa. The place was mobbed with people socializing with one another and wishing everyone else a Merry Christmas. You would have thought I was at City Hall or a Town Square. Everyone knew everyone else in the store and they were all ordering their breakfasts, getting coffee or their takeout orders or filling up on gas for a trip somewhere. I felt like I was in Mayberry.
The surprising part was I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese omelet on a fresh hoagie and it was really good! I was amazed. The All-Berry Smoothie that I ordered with it was also terrific. I was blown away on my Christmas breakfast which I ate on the back of my car since there was no place to sit down.
After breakfast, I noticed the gloomy morning was starting to clear up and by the time the ferry left Cape May for Lewes, DE, it was becoming sunny and bright. When we got to Lewis by noon, it was sunny, clear and going up into the 60’s. It ended up being 65 degrees and sunny the whole day. God answered my prayers for a warm Christmas!
By the time I got off the ferry at noon in Lewes, De, it was a bright sunny and warm day. This is when the forecasters predicted rain all day. The entire afternoon was in the high 60’s, sunny and clear. It was the perfect day to be at the shore.
After dropping some presents off at my mom’s and wishing her a Merry Christmas, my brother, niece, my brother’s girlfriend and I went to Dos Locos in Downtown Rehoboth Beach for Christmas lunch. Unusual choice but it was the only place open. I had the most delicious Shrimp Quesadilla for lunch and that was more than enough after the big breakfast I had two hours earlier.
Before we left the restaurant, we took a memorable group shot in front of their Christmas tree. As we were leaving, I was amazed by how many people had the same idea we had and the restaurant really started to fill up.
My family at Dos Locos for our Christmas Dinner
To work off lunch (and my earlier breakfast), we walked all over the boardwalk that afternoon. Being such a nice day, again everyone had the same idea and we were wishing other families a “Merry Christmas” as they walked on the beach and walked their dogs around the downtown area. It was also ideal to go window shopping. By 3:30pm, it had reached almost 67 degrees and we walked along the beach and watched as one brave soul took a Christmas swim in the ocean. I know it was warm but it was not that warm outside.
My family by Santa’s House on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk
We took a lot of family shots around the Rehoboth beach Christmas Tree and at Santa’s House. He had left for the North Pole, so he was not around at this point. Still, everyone on the boardwalk was taking pictures by the tree.
My brother and I by the Christmas tree in Downtown Rehoboth
My brother and I in the bandstand in Downtown Rehoboth Beach
Me at the holiday displays in the Bandstand in Rehoboth Beach
The Manger at the bandstand in Rehoboth Beach with Santa’s House in the background
It started to get dark by 5:45pm at that point (the days are starting to get longer) and we headed back to my brother’s hotel as they prepared for dinner and I had to head back to the ferry to go back to Cape May.
I was surprised on how well Christmas had turned out. For a day that started off as the original ‘Clusterfuck’, it is amazing how plans change and the day can still turn out to be pretty good. I got on the 7:45pm ferry back to Cape May and we were in by 9:00pm. Again, not much was open on Christmas Day for dinner and I refused to have dinner at WaWa.
When I got back into town, the only two restaurants were the Chinese restaurant in the mall but they were closing for the night. So, I went to the Ugly Mug at 426 Washington Street in the Washington Mall for a snack. It was the only place open besides going back to Congress Hall.
Talk about crowded for a Christmas night! All the locals either had tired from their families, tourists need to get out of their hotels or people had just gotten off their shifts from work, people lined the bar having a good time eating, drinking and laughing. The Christmas games were going on and the bar was in full swing.
With only five minutes left to order, the manager of the restaurant who was eating right next to me was eating a cheesesteak and highly recommended it. So, it was a cheesesteak and a Coke for me on Christmas night. It was nice to sit back and talk with the other patrons and bartenders in a relaxed environment.
The Cheesesteaks at The Ugly Mug are fantastic. Just like Philly!
I spent the rest of Christmas night walking along the shore, listening to the waves hoping to get a glimpse of Santa on his way back to the North Pole. For the craziest Christmas Day with twists and turns, it ended up being a really great day. Not at all what we had planned but sometimes things work out for a reason. I ended up getting the best night’s sleep.
The day after Christmas my plans changed when a friend of mine who came into town changed the plans again and I decided to go to the theater at the Cape May Stage at 405 Layfette Street. I saw the final show of the season “Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition”, which was performed by the Theater Director and his wife who are professional actors.
The Cape May Stage: Adopt a Sailor: The Holiday Edition
It was a clever story about a Manhattan couple that ‘adopt’ a sailor from the deep south for Christmas Eve. I thought it was a bit predictable with the stereotype of the uptight Upper West Side couple and the ‘naive’ sailor from the South but it ended up being a very bittersweet story about the couple looking within on their own relationship with this sailor shipping out on Christmas to a dangerous part of the world. It made them think about how small their own problems were and what Christmas was all about.
After the show was over, I decided to spend my last night in Cape May watching the sunset at Sunset Beach in West Cape May at 502 Sunset Boulevard. If you ever want to see the most spectacular sunset in the world and I have literally seen them all over the world, this is the most fantastic location to see the sunset over the Delaware Bay.
I stayed until after 5:00pm to watch the sun dip below the bay in most spectacular fashion. It really does amaze the way it slowly disappears into the bay and then the whole sky is a brilliant variety of colors. People were literally applauding the sun setting. I left Cape May for home after this.
You have to see the sun set at Sunset Beach at least once
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I spent the night in the City before the Ball dropped museum hopping between the Met and the MoMA trying to see the current exhibitions before they closed and taking the long ride up to Inwood to see the Cloisters decorated for Christmas and the current exhibition “Spain: 1000-1200” and taking a second look at the Christmas decorations all over the City.
I wanted to explore the neighborhood for changes since COVID and my last trip to the area since the summer, so I walked from The Cloisters to West 155th stopping for lunch and visiting stores and bakeries that I had written about in the past.
I stopped for lunch at the New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway, a restaurant that I had passed many times on my walks down Broadway and had wanted to try. The food is excellent and the service could not have been nicer. I had a Chicken with Broccoli ($11.95) with Hot & Sour Soup and an eggroll.
New Golden Star Chinese Restaurant at 4247 Broadway
The Chicken with Broccoli was delicious and the sauce with a combination of Hunan and Soy really made the dish. The Hot & Sour Soup was one of the best I have had recently. The chili peppers added some kick to the soup and it was loaded with vegetables and sliced pork. The service could not have been nicer.
After lunch, I continued my walk down Broadway. I had originally planned had planned to go the Met on Fifth Avenue but it was too late for that and then I decided to walk down Broadway but by the time I got to West 155th Street near the cemetery I was pooped. I needed something sweet, so I stopped at one of my favorite bakeries uptown Five Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for a snack.
I had the most amazing Vanilla and Strawberry Iced Doughnut ($2.00) and between the sweet thick icing on top and the rich dough, every bite was heaven. I was reenergized but my feet were beginning to kill me. I stopped at Ilka Tanya Payan Park and sat down to finish my doughnut and relax.
I just admired the Christmas tree in the park for a bit before taking the subway back to midtown. I never knew that the park was named after the actress and activist, Ilka Tanya Payan. I thought it was nice of community to set such a beautiful tree up for the holidays and it was nicely decorated. I was finished for the day.
Ilka Tanya Payan Park at Edward Morgan Place & Broadway
New Year’s Eve this year was a quiet evening at home watching the ball drop on TV. There was no way I was going back to the City with those crowds in that cold. Thank God that 2021 is now over and hopefully better days ahead!
This was not the Christmas I planned but things took so many twists and turns that I just went with the flow. This is why I am fully vaccinated. Life needs to go on as normal in these unnormal times.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
My three favorite Christmas songs: These are the songs that I wait to hear on the radio.
The Ronette’s: Sleigh Ride:
Ray Parker Jr.: Christmas Time is Here
The Waitresses: Christmas Wrapping
I also thought these Christmas songs in Chinese were interesting when I found them on YouTube:
I find it intriguing how other countries see Christmas and interpret it.
I put my walk of the Garment District on hold as many of the museums are having their Private Members nights before the holidays get into the full swing. It gives the members a chance to really enjoy the museums before the City gets crazy with tourists and people are beginning to return to the City.
It really was a wonderful night. First it was a warm and clear evening and you could see the stars because it gets dark at 5:00pm. We as members got to the museum before 5:00pm and waited in a long line by the Member’s Entrance on the side of the museum and had to show our COVID vaccine cards and ID. Even though we were all vaccinated, we still had to wear masks the entire time we were in the museum. It was not a problem and did not get in the way of us having a nice time.
For the evening, only the first floor was open and only certain galleries and exhibitions but there was plenty to see and do. In all the galleries, there were docents giving talks on the exhibitions and on the gallery displays that were permanent to the museum.
I started my tour of the museum at the Christmas Tree in the Medieval Galleries. It was decorated for the holidays with full detail but it had been corded off and you could not get as close to it as you once could in the past. They had a very interesting docent who went over the not just the history of the Christmas tree with its German-Pagan roots but how it was decorated by people in different countries at different times of history.
The beautiful Christmas tree is a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art tradition
She talked about how the manager and the more religious aspects of the art came from Naples and then made its way to the United States with immigration. The works around the tree were collected over time.
Later that evening, they had a singing trio entertaining the crowd with festive Christmas songs. The ladies were very friendly and had wonderful voices. They really put everyone in the Christmas spirit.
I next went to the “In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at the Met” exhibition in the Robert Lehman Collection. I was viewing all the works by Rembrandt and Vermeer for most of the evening. It was nice to just take my time and look at the works one by one without rushing like you normally do when the galleries are busy. The gallery was full of portraits and still lives and being a smaller gallery, I was not over-whelmed by the exhibition.
In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at The Met should not be missed.
I walked through the American Wing to the American Wing Cafe which was mobbed. Every table was taken and what was really annoying is that in some cases, one person took a table and threw all their things on the chairs and were eating by themselves. They should have had a limit on that type of behavior as I could see that patrons were struggling to find a place to sit down. I just decided to eat when I left the museum. A $16.00 sandwich did not interest me. I just could not believe how much the food had gone up at the museum.
I spent the last part of the evening in the Temple of Dendur Wing admiring the building. I looked over all the ancient carvings and symbols and then realizing that this temple was created during the Roman Era. I thought that was interesting. I remember reading in the book “Dancing with Mummies” on the former director of the museum discussing how New York City beat out other cities to get the temple.
Every time I enter the gallery I think of this scene in “When Harry Met Sally”
It represents what is best about the Met
I ended the evening exploring the Greek Galleries since the rest of the Egyptian Galleries were closed for the evening. I really loved looking at the Cycladic Art and the way that the galleries are displayed. Even though I have been touring these galleries since they opened, it is always fun to see something new or a piece that you noticed for the first time again.
There is something unique about Cycladic Art
After I left the Met, I walked along the Upper East Side, walking down both Third and Second Avenues and noticing all the restaurants and stores that have closed since the Pandemic and it was scary to see. I thought that Madison Avenue was bad with all the empty stores and the cops protecting them but the other avenues were just as bad. It will take a long time for this to come back.
When I reached East 72nd Street at Second Avenue, I stopped at one of my favorite Chinese Take-out places where you can sit down and eat, Shanghai Chinese Restaurant at 1388 Second Avenue right near the subway station. I am telling you this is some of the best Chinese food in the City and very reasonable for the portion size they give you (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
Don’t miss Shanghai Chinese Restaurant at 1388 Second Avenue
I had the most amazing Shrimp Szechuan with Roast Pork Fried Rice with a side of Hot and Sour soup, the perfect dishes on a cool night. The soup really warmed me up and the shrimp had a nice fiery flavor to it.
I was so content from the wonderful meal that I ended up walking all the way back to the Port Authority. It was such a nice night to walk back and enjoy the cool air. It really a beautiful night to walk around Manhattan.
After I returned from visiting my mother for her 85th birthday, I had another Members Night at the Museum of the City of New York at 1220 Fifth Avenue to attend the gallery talk of the Founders of the Talking Heads singing group, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, talking about their time with the group and their experiences. Then we watched the film documentary “Stop Making Sense”, which was filmed over a series of concerts in 1984. The talk and the film were both amazing. I never knew that much about the group, so it was an eye-opener.
The Museum of the City of New York at 1220 Fifth Avenue
Ms. Weymouth and Mr. Frantz had gotten older but really had not changed that much. They were really engaging and such interesting stories about the band and the clubs that they played in the early 1980’s. It was fascinating to hear of the other artists that they knew like Debbie Harry and the Ramones who played the same clubs and the long-closed clubs that they enjoyed like Danceatiria and the Mudd Club.
They also talked about the work they are doing now and the revival of the music that they performed so long ago. It was a real blast from the past and most of the audience like me were either in high school or college when the group was performing so it was a real Gen X crowd that evening. After the talk, they left the stage with a rousing applause from all of us and then we watched the documentary, which really rocked the room. I could almost see people wanted to get up and dance and the applause from the songs after they were finished matched what was going on in the film (I included the link to the film we watched below).
The “Stop Making Sense” talk and showing of the film with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth
The ‘Stop Making Sense’ talk at the Museum of the City of New York: The Concert Film we saw that night.
“Stop Making Sense”
I went home that evening humming all the songs that I remembered from the film. It was such a great evening and I still could not believe that I never saw the film when it came out my freshman year of college.
Still my favorite videos from the early MTV days: “Once in a Lifetime”
The last museum Members afternoons that I attended was the “Sharks” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History at 200 Central Park West. This exhibition was open to the members first before opening later in December.
The American Museum of Natural History at 200 Central Park West
I have to say it was interesting and very scientific and technical. I was floored by the number of kids that knew so much about sharks. I was listening to this kid talk to his mother on which sharks were which and he was about eight years old.
The exhibition was on the history of sharks and their habitats and the benefits that sharks bring to the ocean like being bottom dwellers and how their eating habits affect the rest of the ocean population. It was more than the movie “Jaws”.
The exhibition also discussed how sharks have evolved over the years since the era of the dinosaurs and how their population decrease is affecting the rest of the ocean population and food cycles. After about an hour in the exhibition it got a bit over-whelming with the information and I will have to go back again to see it.
‘Sharks’ at the American Museum of Natural History
The exhibition discussion:
After the visiting other parts of the museum in both the Central American Wing and the new Minerals gallery, I went outside and enjoyed the nice sunny day. I ended up walking all over the Upper West Side. Homes were decorated for the holidays and it was festive to see all the garland and trees in the windows and on the outside of the brownstone homes.
For lunch, I went to Tri Dim West, the sister restaurant to Tri Dim Shanghai on the East side at 467 Columbus Avenue for a Dim Sum lunch. The restaurant is right around the corner from the museum and was a nice alternative to the expensive fare at the museum.
I had the most wonderful (but pricy) Dim Sum lunch with freshly made Crab & Pork Soup Dumplings, Roast Pork Buns, Chicken Curry Puffs and a Peking Duck Spring Roll. Everything was made fresh to order and one dish was better than the other. The soup dumplings just slurped off the spoon and burst in my mouth with their juiciness. The roast pork buns had their usual sweetness with the combination of roast pork chopped up wrapped in a sweet dough.
The Peking Duck rolls are delicious
The service was so friendly and welcoming. The guy waiting on me kept spooning the dumplings on my plate. I thought that was taking it to the extreme but it was a quiet afternoon.
It is funny for the people who keep saying that New York City is going downhill and Manhattan is falling apart, yet I see that the museums are doing their best to engage with their members and the public in general with taking all sorts of precautions and safety measures. They are doing their best to keep the public informed while still having a good time.
I could not believe how fast the summer went. After I threw my back out, I was out of commission for three months and I was finally able to get started again by early September. Then we started classes at the College where I work and that has me running as well. It is nice to be busy.
Halloween was not as busy as it has been in the past because we are still dealing with COVID requirements. Some programs that I attended in the past were either cut or had limited space. Also with classes going on and in the midst of Midterms and quizzes for both classes my time was limited this year with the running around. I just did not want to push it. Still I got to do some new things this year.
Halloween weekend start at Blondies on the Upper West Side at 212 West 79th Street for the much anticipated Michigan-Michigan State football game. This has been much hyped because both of our teams were 7-0 and no matter how we play or what we do, Michigan State is always ranked lower than Michigan. It is just a fact. Until we beat them, for a SECOND YEAR, like we did this year!
Blondies is such a great place to watch the game. We have the whole back room for Spartan nation and the place was packed with everyone dressed in Green and White. I had gotten up to the bar just as Michigan scored the first touchdown so it was a touch glum but things got right back to cheery as we got the ball back. By the time I settled in it was 10-0 but things livened up again when we scored our first touch down.
By the time I left at half time, we were ahead 14-13 and my best friend kept calling me while I was on a walking tour of New York City filling me in on the updates. I had to keep breaking away from the tour to take the updates and I could see that was frustrating the tour guide out of the corner of my eye.
Michigan State versus Michigan
I took the “Gotham Ghost Tour of Lower Manhattan” on the day before Halloween and we really lucked out with the weather. It kept going from gloomy to sunny for the whole afternoon, so it added a little spookiness to the tour. We started our tour of Haunted Lower Manhattan on Second Avenue and 10th Street right across the street from St. Marks Church.
We started our tour at the side of St. Mark’s Church at 131 East 10th Street. The church has an interesting history starting with being the Chapel of Peter Stuyvesant
Our first part of the ghost tour was stopping at St. Mark’s Church at 131 East 10th Street. There was a mini-carnival going on in the cemetery portion of the grounds so it took away from the spookiness of the place. That and they made us wear masks outdoors.
The tour guide told us the story of the former Sexton of the Church was in the church alone one night and heard strange sounds coming from the lower floors. When he went to investigate, he found nothing. He then said that strange sounds started again like a scrapping on the floor. It was here that he confronted the ghost of Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch Director General of New Amsterdam.
He ran out of the church and then mysteriously, the bell in the tower of the church started to ring on its own. No one else was in the church at the time. When they went to investigate, they found that the rope had been cut or separated and there was no way someone could have rung the bell.
When they investigated the crypt of ‘Pegleg Peter’ as he was called, legend has it they found the piece of rope in the crypt. The Sexton never returned to the church after that. When I asked when this was, the guide told us about the early 1800’s. I asked has anyone seen the ghost since. The answer was no but people still feel things in the building. I though it strange that a ghost would only appear once in the church.
Still, we visited the tomb of Peter Stuyvesant, who is buried in the wall of the church that once served has his chapel on the Stuyvesant estate, which this area of the City was part of at that time. The grave was hidden by a table and scaffolding but we managed to see it. It did look mysterious located at the bottom of the church foundation.
Peter Stuyvesant, Dutch Director General of New Amsterdam
Peter Stuyvesant’s Tomb which was once part of his estate chapel
We walked around the grounds and saw other family crypts around the property that were not covered with tables. Some were family members of the extended Stuyvesant family (those who married into it like most Colonial families of wealth did) and other prominent families of the church like the Fish’s, Winthrop’s and the Tompkins, whose names are known throughout the City and New York State.
Our next stop was the Hamilton-Fish House at 21 Stuyvesant Street, where members of both the descendants Stuyvesant and Fish families lived.
The Hamilton Fish is a brick Federal style house was built by Peter Stuyvesant, the great-grandson of Petrus Stuyvesant, the Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam, in 1804. It was a wedding present to his daughter, Elizabeth and his son in law, Nicholas Fish and their future son, Hamilton Fish, the former Governor, Senator of New York State and Secretary of State under the President Grant administration. The house was built on land that had been in the family since the 17th century (Wiki). This union united two famous and influential families and the house stayed in the family until the beginning of the 20th century.
Our next stop on the tour was of Astor Place a few blocks away. We visited the outside of the Astor Building at 418 Lafayette Place, Colonnade Row.
418 Lafayette Place-Colonnade Row today
Colonnade Row was built in the 1830’s by contractor Seth Geer as nine private homes on land owned by John Jacob Astor. The architects on the job were Alexander Jackson Davis, Ithiel Town and James Dakin. The building was originally called ‘Lagrange’ or La Grange Terrace after the estate of the Marquis de Layfayette, a hero of the American Revolution (Wiki).
Some of the famous tenants of these homes were John Jacob Astor III, Julia Gardiner, the former first lady and socialite, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Washington Irving. Today they are a mixed-use building and in need of repair (Wiki).
418 Lafayette Place when it was built in the 1830’s
Its relation to haunted happenings was it was claimed that one of the construction workers who was renovating the property said that a ghostly hand came out of one the fireplaces during the renovation of the building. Since then, things have been quiet. Personally, I thought the guy must have been working too hard.
The next stop was across the street at the Astor Library at 425 Lafayette Street.
The Astor Library was a collaboration effort between John Jacob Astor and New England educator Joseph Cogswell. The library was built to be a research library where the books did not circulate. The library opened in 1854 to the public and in 1895 it was consolidated with the Lenox Library and the Tilden Foundation to become the New York Public Library (Wiki).
The library was designed by architect Alexander Saeltzer who designed it in the Rundbogenstil style. The cornerstone was laid in 1850 and the building was finished in 1853. The library opened in January of 1854 and had later extensions to it (Wiki).
The ghost story of the library comes from Joseph Cogswell himself. In April of 1860, Mr. Cogswell was working late in the library when he walked down to the Research area of the library and spotted the ghost of a local physician who had died recently. Upon approaching the ghost and confronting it, the ghost simply disappeared. This happened for three more nights and each night the ghost would disappear. On the third night, the ghost disappeared again and has not been seen since. He also claimed to see the ghosts of Washington Irving and insurance executive Austin Sands (mrsdaffodildigresses.com/thegothiclibrary.com). Needless to say, they gave Mr. Cogswell some time off.
The “Library Ghost” from the movie “Ghostbusters”
The famous “Library Ghost” scene from the film “Ghostbusters”
After we left the Astor Library, we made our way across Broadway to the New York University campus, where we visited the Brown Building at 23 Washington Place, home to the famous “Triangle Shirtwaist Fire” of 1911. The building is located between 23 Washington Place and Greene Street.
The Brown Building is now part of the New York University campus containing the Chemistry Department. When it was built between 1900-01, the iron and steel building was designed by architect John Woolley in the neo-Renaissance style. It was named at that time the Asch Building after its owner, Joseph J. Asch. The building was known for their fireproof rooms which is why many garment makers liked the building including the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, which occupied the top three floors of the building (Wiki).
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory employed many young immigrant women at the factory with terrible wages and almost slave conditions. On March 25th, 1911, the fire started from one of the clothing bins where layers of fabric were stacked and spread quickly through the factory. Between the thick smoke, non-visual rooms and the locked stairwell doors, people died from smoke inhalation, being crushed trying to leave or throwing themselves from the windows. This led to creation of the Ladies Garment Union (Wiki).
According to the tour guide, there have been no sightings of ghosts here but it was a horrific site of tragedy. The site of young women either throwing themselves from the top floors of the buildings or burning to death in the stairwells is hard enough to imagine.
We continued down the block to Washington Square Park, one of the most active parks in Manhattan.
Washington Square Park was its usual active self when we walked into the park for the tour. People were planning a protest in the park on one side, they were sunning themselves in another, some were walking their dogs and others were playing frisbee. Kids were running around and older residents of the neighborhood were sitting on the benches talking to one another.
It was pretty shocking to me to discover that right under us was a massive cemetery. From 1797 until 1825, the area was New York City’s Potter’s Field. Many of the people being indigent or died during the Yellow Fever panic that hit the City. There is an estimated 20,000 people buried below the park.
There are also several church vaults that had been found of churches that when they were repairing the water lines in the area. There are still more vaults below the park as well as tombstones and mass graves. The park became Washington Square Park in the 1850’s. Still as repairs still place around the park, remains are still found.
We then walked past the Washington Arch, one of the most iconic symbols of New York City and used in countless movies and photoshoots. Even the arch has a dark history due to its designer, Stamford White.
The Washington Square Arch in Washington Square Park
The Washington Square Arch was designed by architect Stamford White in 1891 for the Centennial Celebration of President George Washington’s 1789 inauguration as President of the United States of America (Wiki).
It seemed that the married Stanford White had a sexual appetite for young women, many of them being underaged. He had had an affair with actress Evelyn Nesbitt about five years prior to her marriage to Henry Thaw. Mr. Thaw killed Stanford White after a performance claiming that ‘he ruined his wife” in June 1906.
When we reached the other end of the park, we passed a very unassuming but huge Elm Tree at the edge of Washington Square Park. It was known as the “Hangman’s Elm” and is thought to be over 300 years old. The tour guide even called it “The Blood Elm”. It was used for executions by the local Newgate State Prison until the local prominent residents protested. The executions were moved to another location.
As we left the park and its sinister past (I never knew any of the this in all the times I have spent in this park), we passed the Jefferson Market Library at 425 Sixth Avenue. This beautiful turn of the century library was once the ‘Jefferson Market Courtyard” and this is where the Stanford White trail was held. The building was built in 1833 by architect Fredrick Clarke Withers of the firm of Vaux and Withers in the High Victorian Gothic style (Wiki). On Halloween night, it is used as the place where the giant spider puppet descents each Halloween Night before the Halloween Parade starts.
Some visitors claim to see the spirits of females roaming the gardens and some standing on the balcony of the clocktower. All I ever see when I pass it is nothing but the spider puppet that one time (The Gothic Library).
The Jefferson Market Library at 425 Sixth Avenue on Halloween Night
Our last stop on the tour was in Waverly Place at the home of Edgar Allen Poe. It seems that Mr. Poe lived in many sections of the City and funny enough ended up in Camden, NJ. The home was at 116 Waverly Place and was supposed to be one of the places that the author had written “The Raven”. Reading an article in the NY Post said that this is a shaky assumption.
137 Waverly Place-rumored to be one of the homes of Edgar Allen Poe
A tour of the house and the neighborhood (if you can afford it)
After we passed the house (I swear as an author he must have moved around a lot when he was writing “The Raven” because that book must have been written in at least four places), this ended the tour. It was a lot of walking but I learned much about the history of the City especially in this neighborhood.
When I finished the tour, the game was over and we WON! I could not believe that especially since we were the underdogs going in and no one ever expects to win that game anyway. It will be a fun year and now wait until the basketball season. Kris was really excited but I could tell that her son, who is a big Michigan fan, was not. Go Green Go White!!
We Won 37-34 so the bragging rights are ours for the year!
The Michigan State versus University of Michigan Game 2021 highlights:
The Celebration in East Lansing, MI begins:
The Battle of the Bands at halftime for a “Bootackular” sound:
After the long day of touring, I walked back to the East Village for dinner. I took a chance to see if I could eat at San Marzano at 117 Second Avenue. This tiny Italian restaurant in the East Village is one of the most reasonable restaurants in the City in the way of quality of food and service. There are no dishes over $9.00. This is the reason why the restaurant is always packed and try to get in for dinner on a Friday or Saturday night.
I was lucky enough to get there at a time right before the dinner rush. I was able to snag a two top table right next to the window just as the restaurant had quieted down. The food and the service are so good here.
I was so tired from all the running around that day that I kept dinner on the lighter side. I had a mixed Green Salad ($7.00), that was so fresh and crisp with a light dressing. The lettuce was so crisp and the tomatoes actually tasted like a tomato for this time of year. The portion sizes here are just right.
For dinner, I had the Paradelle with Meatballs (I eyed the Meatball appetizer on the menu but knew I could not eat both), which was also delicious. The Paradelle is made fresh in the restaurant and could tell by the quality of the pasta. The sauce was rich with the flavor of the pork and veal in the meatballs. Talk about the perfect dinner on a cool early Halloween night.
The Paradelle here is excellent with Meatballs or Bolognese Sauce
The service could have not been nicer and the guy who waited on me could see how much I enjoyed my meal. He even tried to sell me dessert but I was so tired from the walk around the City I did not want to push it.
After dinner, I walked around the East Village and took the subway back uptown. While I was taking the subway uptown, I saw two Wolverine Alumni from University of Michigan come on the subway. Boy, did they avoid me! When they tried to sneak past me at the 42nd Street exit, I just said politely “Better luck next year!”. They just walked out with their heads down.
What an interesting way to spend Halloween weekend.
Watch this! It scared the hell out of me! The short “Hello?”
Walking around Manhattan on a regular day can be challenging but when it is 93 degrees outside it can be daunting. Thank God most of Hell’s Kitchen was shaded or else I would never have made it. For such a warm day, it was not as humid as I thought it would be or else I just did not notice. I knew by the end of the day I was exhausted. I did walk over a hundred city blocks.
I started my morning at the Museum of Modern Art at 11 West 53rd Street for a private members morning reviewing the new “Cezanne Drawings ” exhibition. It was interesting to see how progressed his works from sketchbook to the final painting. What I liked about the exhibition is how the curators mounted it. Each of the set of drawings lead up to the finished work so you got to see the different perspectives that the artist was trying to achieve with each of his paintings.
The Cezanne Drawing Exhibition at the MoMA at 11 West 53rd Street
What I like best about being a member of the Museum of Modern Art is that it gives you time to see all these interesting exhibitions with a limited crowd. When you are with other members, you can tell that they really want to be there and have the same open-minded approach to the works whether they like them or not.
Some of the sketches I could see where the artist, Paul Cezanne, was trying to go with the work and the changes he made along the way to the finished painting. You could see the movements and detail in each page and how he adjusted it. It was nice to be in the mind of an artist who died over a hundred years ago.
One of the unfinished sketches from the pages of the Cezanne’s sketch book
Mr. Cezanne was a French Artist who influenced in Post-Impressionism who studied at the Free Municipal School of Drawing and the University of Aix studying Law and Drawing.
After I toured the exhibition, I visited a few others that were going to close soon. I walked through the “Embodied Sensations” exhibition and admired the modern graphics along the walls and floor. Then I just wondered around the museum cooling off.
I started my walk of the border of Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton at the corner of West 59th and Ninth Avenue at Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 58th Street. Even though I had a large breakfast, I was starved by the time I got here (see review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). Because it was the weekend and most of the calzones and pizza rolls are made ahead of time, the choices were limited. I was surprised they would not make one fresh.
Amore Pizza Cafe at night at 370 West 58th Street at Ninth Avenue
I settled on a Pepperoni Roll ($5.95), which was an excellent choice. This version of a rolled personal pizza was studded with layers of spicy pepperoni and baked with a garlic butter topping and then served with a spicy tomato sauce. I have not had one of these in years and it was delicious (see my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). Each bite into those layers of pepperoni had a salty/savory flavor and was the perfect lunch for a long day of walking.
The Pepperoni rolls here are amazing!
After lunch was over, I traveled down West 59th Street to the Hudson River. It had been months since I had walked in this part of the neighborhood. I visited here in September of 2018 to finish the Borders and Streets of the lower part of the Upper West Side. In that time, several buildings had been completed and new playgrounds had opened up.
The Border of the Lower Part of the Upper West Side Day One Hundred and Twenty-One:
Since I was walking within the shade, the heat was not as bad as I thought it would be. Plus the breezes off the Hudson River were a pleasure. As I walked down West 59th Street, it was like visiting old friends.
As I walked back down to West 59th Street, I crossed the street to a popular park. Near the local school is Gertrude Ederle Playground which sits next to the Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center. This park stretches from West 59th to West 60th Street and is a very popular park with the areas families offering many whimsical playground jungle gyms and swings and a very nice field for soccer and baseball. It also offers a very nice public bathroom that is nice to have when walking around the area.
Gertrude Ederle was a champion Olympic and distance swimmer, who was a member of the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. She set over twenty world records in swimming in the early 1920’s and won a gold medal for the 400 meter freestyle relay. She swam the 22 mile harbor swim from Battery Park to Sandy Hook, NJ in a record that stood for 81 years. She also set the record for crossing the English Channel as the first American woman and received a ticker tape parade when she returned. She also appeared as herself in the 1927 romantic comedy ‘Swim, Girl Swim’. She continued to swim by teaching deaf children to swim (she had lost her hearing at this point) and lived to ripe age of 98 passing in 2003 (NYCParks.org).
Across the street from the park is the former IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit) Powerhouse at 840 12th Avenue. This ornate building was built in 1904 and takes up the entire area from West 59th to West 58th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. Designed by architect Stamford White, the building is used by Con Ed of New York to supply the New York Steam system. It is designed in the ‘Renaissance Revival’ and really walk around the building you can see the beautiful details of the building especially around the building . It was recently declared a Landmark Building in New York (Wiki).
Walking across the street, I was greeted by the beauty and elegance of the new complex, One Waterline Square, which was behind fencing the last time I visited the neighborhood. The finished complex was simmering in the sunlight and in the middle of the complex is the energetic Waterline Square Park.
The tiers of the park were very interesting as stairways lead to different levels of the park with fountains and trees and water features that shot up every few minutes with loads of kids and their parents screaming at each plug of water. This is when it is fun to be a kid.
The park was designed by the New York architect group, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects. This creative women-owned firm who uses a cumulative and holistic image for each project using designs that are insightful and artful as well as performative (MNLA Mission Statement)
Waterline Square Park is one of the most unusual parks that I have seen in the City since walking Battery Park City. The park has almost a Dr. Seuss effect to it with its interesting plantings, bridges and water features in all directions. It also has plenty of seating to relax and enjoy the cool breezes. All this packed in between three elegant buildings. It was fun just watching everyone have a good time.
I sat in the park for a while just trying to cool off myself as the weather got warmer that day. It was nice to sit under a tree and relax. I could believe how this whole area of the City had transformed itself from just a couple of months ago. From behind the fencing came this magical city of glass and green space.
I walked down to the extension of Riverside Park and walked the paths along the Hudson River. I had not been here since I did the Great Santier Walk. I love the cool breezes and views of the river from the park. The City did a good job on this extension of the park giving the West Side of the island the green space it needed.
Both from the street and from the paths, you get beautiful views of the cliffs on the New Jersey side of the river but still engage it via the various piers that you can walk on that jut out into the river. When you reach West 59th Street, Pier 96 and the Hudson River Pier and the boat basin giver great views of the Hudson River.
I walked around the park and saw an unusual sculpture in the shape of a bottle. The public art piece ‘Private Passage’ by artist Malcolm Cochran is a unique sculpture in that what appears to be a ship in a bottle is actually a replica of a stateroom in the Queen Mary all done in metals. At night and in bad weather I read that the piece is illuminated.
‘Private Passage’ by Malcolm Cochran
Malcolm Cochran is an American artist and former Art Professor at Ohio State University. A graduate of Wesleyan College, Mr. Cochran has had many solo and group shows since the 70’s and has created numerous works all over the world. ‘Private Passage’ was created for Hudson River Park in 2005 and is an engaging piece of art where the visitors have to look inside the port holes to see the art inside the bottle. It is very clever.
Turning back to Twelve Avenue, I stopped to stare at another new favorite building of mine, Via 57th on the corner of West 57th and Twelfth Avenue. This glimmering pyramid of glass stands out amongst the box structures in the neighborhood with it triangular shape and reflections of the sun and the river. It brings an elegance to the newly planted park and changes the makeup of the buildings by the river giving it futuristic look to the Hudson River.
Via 57th along the new Hudson River Park at 625 West 57th Street (Via 57)
This residential building is in the shape of a pyramid or “tetrahedron” looking ‘almost like a sailing vessel going across the river’. The tiered gardens and slopped space integrates with the surrounding park and river. The building was designed by Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group and by its founding architect Bjarke Ingels (Wiki).
I walked past the back of Dewitt Clinton Park at West 54th Street to West 52nd Streets where the whole back of the park was under reconstruction.
I made my way down the greenway past all the piers where there were people sunning themselves on the grassy lawns. There was not a lot of people gathered around Pier 86 where the Intrepid Museum was located. I was not sure if it was open yet or not. Pier 83 where the Circle Line rode off from also looked quiet. In a normal year, these Piers were really busy.
Because tourism was just coming back to the City since the reopening of most activities, there were no lines or crowds of people around and the few people walking around we walking up to gates to ask what the status was of the activity. It was very different when I took the Circle Line for my birthday present to myself and saw the island of Manhattan from the water. It is just as beautiful and interesting from the water as it is from the land.
Day One Hundred and Forty Seven-Touring the Circle Line on my Birthday 2019:
I exited out of the park to West 42nd Street and Twelfth Avenue and the foot traffic was light. There were those few people milling around the neighborhood that lived there but with the lack of tourism this part of Manhattan is quiet during the day.
I had not walked down this part of West 42nd Street in a long time and had not noticed the changes that have had happened over the years. I had missed River Place at 650 West 42nd Street and Silver Towers at 620 West 42nd Street when I last walked around this part of the neighborhood. These large apartment complexes do break up the once warehouses and office buildings that dominated the area.
What stood out to me was right smack in the middle of these two complexes and that was Tom Otterness Playground at 630 West 42nd Street. This space of green reminded me of the creativity in playground design that I had seen earlier in Waterline Square Park. Combining small space with creative design to produce a whimsical park for families. It was such a nicely landscaped park and a relief from the heat. I loved the beautiful and artsy playground which is a testament to Tom Otterness’s approach to playground design.
Tom Otterness Playground jungle gym structure is whimsical
Tom Otterness is an American artist who studied at the Art Student League in New York. His work is known as ‘whimsical and fun’ but also sends a message and tells a story.
Please watch the video on artist Tom Otterness
The Silver Towers is a twin residential set of towers that stand tall in the neighborhood and set the tone for the new residential section of this side of the West Side. Their brilliance in design and reception of sun light is interesting. The buildings were designed by architect Costas Kondylis and were finished in 2009.
Just a little further and across the street is the sculpture of an unusual polka dot pumpkin in the front of the Sky Building at 605 West 42nd Street by artist Yayoi Kusama. The sculpture sits in front of this elegant glass residential tower in the ever changing neighborhood by the Hudson River. The Sky is a mixed use luxury residential building that was designed by architectural firm Goldstein, Hill & West and was completed in 2016 (Wiki/Moinian Group).
Artist Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese born artist who studied at the Kyoto School of Arts & Crafts and is known for her installments and sculptures but also works in film, performance art and fashion among other mediums and is known for influence in ‘Pop Art’ (Wiki/Artist Bio).
Please watch the video on Yayoi Kusama
As I walked back up Tenth Avenue (the border of this side of Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton), I could see that in the time since my last visit to the neighborhood that more restaurants have reopened and there was more life outside. As the weather has gotten warmer, more outdoor cafes have opened up bringing life to the quiet streets. I reached the border of the neighborhood by the late afternoon.
On the way back up, I stopped at Seguidilla Empanadas at 465 West 51st Street for a snack twice first for a Chicken Empanada ($2.99) and the second time for Country Club soda, a specialty Dominican soda ($1.95). The empanadas here are really good and served with a nice spicy sauce that brings out the flavor of the chicken. The owners kept looking up at me with stares and I kept wondering what they were thinking especially when I came back for the soda.
Seguidilla Empanadas at 465 West 51st Street is a nice cafe
Turning the corner on West 59th Street at Tenth Avenue, you will face the beauty of the John Jay College of Criminology Haaren Building at 899 Tenth Avenue. The building is home to many classrooms and the library for the college. The building was designed by Charles B.J. Snyder and was completed in 1903 (Wiki and John Jay College). The building was originally the Dewitt Clinton High School.
John Jay College Haaren Building at 899 Tenth Avenue
Since it was still early in the afternoon when I finished the borders of the neighborhood, I decided to explore the length of Eleventh Avenue from West 59th to West 42nd Street. I was floored by how many auto showrooms are located on this stretch of the avenue from all different manufacturers.
Still here and there are traces of the old neighborhood before all the rebuilding and a few new standouts that add to the Eleventh Avenue fabric. As I headed south down the avenue, I came across the Juan Alonso Community Gardens on the corner of Eleventh Avenue and West 51st Street.
Juan Alonso Community Gardens on the corner of West 51st Street and Eleventh Avenue
The Community Garden was named after a local resident and community activist , Juan Alonso, who tired of seeing an empty lot and drug dealers in the area. The vacant lot is now a network of small gardens throughout the neighborhood run by the Clinton Housing Development Company (CHDC).
The garden is attached to an old tenement housing 565 West 51st Street with the interesting carving “St. Mary’s 1887” on the top. This is now affordable housing.
565 West 51st Street
Another hold out of the neighborhood is the Landmark Tavern at 626 Eleventh Avenue. It was opened by Patrick Henry Carly in 1868 and has been a staple since. It is one of the oldest continuing restaurants in New York City (Landmark Tavern History). What is so fascinating about the bar is that at one time it stood on the water’s edge of the Hudson River. It shows how Manhattan has reclaimed land around the island. The restaurant has an interesting bar menu.
When walking back up Eleventh Avenue passing more auto dealerships and showrooms, I came across the Gotham West Market at 600 Eleventh Avenue, a series a small independent restaurants catering to the crowd of residents living in the building and the surrounding neighborhood. The first time I ventured in only three restaurants were open now about half are open but still you can see by the empty or closed spaces that the City still has a ways to go.
I finished my touring of the neighborhood at Dewitt Clinton Park, which runs along Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues between West 52nd to West 54th Streets and is the biggest patch of green on this part of the neighborhood.
Dewitt Clinton Park at the Eleventh Avenue and West 52nd Street entrance
The park is a haven for joggers and sports enthusiasts and the Erie Canal Playground is really big with the kids. When I was walking around that afternoon I could not believe the language these kids were spewing at each other. These kids must have been between eight and ten years old and they sounded like truck drivers.
As I walked around the park, I saw from when I was walking around Twelfth Avenue that the back part of the park is being reconstructed and renovated with what looks like new lighting , sidewalks and stairs to be followed by new landscaping. One great attribute is that there are open clean bathrooms later in the evening.
The front part of the park is very welcoming with flower beds, nice signage, comfortable benches to relax under the trees and nice paths. When you enter the park, you are greeted by the statue of a Doughboy from WWI.
The Doughboy State greets you at Dewitt Clinton Park (Clinton War Memorial)
The statue was designed by artist Burt W. Johnson. Mr. Johnson is an American born artist who studied under noted sculptors James Earle Fraser and Augustus Saint Gaudens. The artist died shortly after the statue had been modeled (NYCParks.org). He studied at Pomona College and the Art Students League of New York (Wiki).
The park was name after politician and philanthropist Dewitt Clinton from the prominent Dewitt and Clinton families. Mr. Clinton was the former Mayor of New York, Governor and Senator of New York State. He ran for President in 1812 losing to James Madison and was influential in the building the Erie Canal (Wiki).
I just relaxed in the park for about 45 minutes watching the parents play with their kids and people walking their dogs. It was nice to see people up and about without masks on. The park had some cool breezes from the Hudson River and it was nice to sit under a tree and review my notes. All the large shade trees made it bearable.
I walked back up Eleventh Avenue to West 59th Street early in the evening and tried to figure out where to go for dinner. I had not seen much in the neighborhood and the restaurants close by I was not in the mood for so I decided to go back to Amore Pizza Cafe. So I walked back to Ninth Avenue and ordered dinner and relaxed.
I relaxed over dinner of Linguine with Meat Sauce and a half a loaf ($9.95) and a Coke. If there was ever a dinner I enjoyed more it was that. The meat sauce was incredible and had such a rich flavor (see my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). It was so nice to just sit back and relax. I sat by the window and watched the City go by. It is amazing to watch people walk by and see the world going back to normal. The overload on carbs was helpful after a long walk.
The Meat Sauce at Amore Pizza Cafe is excellent
It is nice to walk around Manhattan and see the City I love so much returning to form to a ‘new normal’. It seems to me that “Hell’s Kitchen” is now just another name of a neighborhood and put its past behind it.
Check out the other blogs on Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton/Midtown West:
Walking the Streets of Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton from 10th Avenue to 12th Avenue Day Two Hundred and One:
There are times that you pass a restaurant many times and you never go in. This was the case of Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 58th Street. A friend of mine worked at the Hudson Hotel for years and passed the restaurant that is around the corner many times.
As I started to my walk around the Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood for my blog “MywalkinManhattan.com”, stopped in for a quick snack. I had a slice of cheese pizza ($2.75) and it was excellent. The pizza sauce is nicely spiced with a rich tomatoey taste. It really makes the pizza. The slice was the right combination of cheese and sauce and had a gooey complexity.
With classes finally behind me for the term and the Summer break here, it is time to start exploring the West side of Manhattan. I had started the borders of Midtown West/ Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen before Final exams and just finished before we ended the semester (See Day One Hundred and Ninety-Four) and it took time.
The neighborhood which is located next to the Theater District on the other said of Eighth Avenue is a mess. That part of the neighborhood is loaded with closed theaters, hotels and restaurants and loaded with graffiti. You would think the City would have had these business owners clean their buildings on a regular basis.
Day One Hundred and Ninety-Four: Walking the Borders of Midtown West/Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen:
I swear sometimes I never realize the ground I have to cover for this project. I have been walking the streets of Hell’s Kitchen for three days and I am only doing half of the area. That stretch of walking back and forth through the neighborhood from Eighth to Tenth Avenues can be exhausting. This neighborhood is much different from the others I have walked in the past as most of the housing is low level former tenement buildings with a few small apartment buildings on the edges of the neighborhood. It looked like Mayor Bloomberg did not zone this area for much development.
Still block by block each is unique in its own way. Here and there tucked in a corner or on a wall is an interesting piece of street art, a pocket park, a small restaurant or an interesting quirky store and occasionally face stares at you from a building. This part of Midtown West/Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen has what we call ‘character’. Even though it still has that rough look about it, the area has pretty much been fully gentrified.
Those small tenement buildings have been sandblasting back into pristine form and many have small gardens, plantings and artwork incorporated to their entrances. A newer much younger resident has replaced the people who used to call this place “Hell’s Kitchen” and use the more historical name of “Clinton” after the family estate that used to dominate this area of the island before the Civil War. Governor George Clinton called this place home just until after the Civil War when the real changes in the neighborhood happened.
I started my walk on West 43rd Street around the corner from Eighth Avenue. This area has been going through a transition since the Bloomberg Administration rezoned the area and parts of Eighth Avenue have been rebuilt with larger hotels and office buildings. Even though COVID has emptied these areas out for the time being, the whole district around the Port Authority building has become home to more company offices and has started already to return the workers that crowded the streets here.
As I walked each street, they are pretty much lined with older tenement buildings that have been renovated and sandblasted back into more luxurious homes. I can see this in the details such as the fancier gates, the ornate door knobs, the flowering pots and small gardens that are surrounding each home. Here and there are small treasures such as interesting street art and small pocket parks and community gardens. Each block has it own attributes.
As you walk down West 43rd Street from Eighth Avenue you will pass the Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center building for the Health Care Worker Association the 1199SEIU at 314 West 43rd Street. On the side of the building is the tile art by artist Anton Refregier that was created in 1970.
The Anton Refregier mosaic at 314 West 43rd Street. This will be demolished soon.
It captures the ideals of the labor movement with the wording saying “If there is no struggle, there is not progress”. Unfortunately this well-known mosaic can’t be moved and the building is scheduled for demolition this year. A copy is being created in the new headquarters to replace it (W42nd Street.nyc , O’Brien 2021).
Artist Anton Refregier was born in Moscow and moved to Paris as a teenager. He immigrated to the United States in 1920. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and worked for the WPA/FPA as an artist through the Depression and was known for many of his works.
Venturing further down West 43rd Street, I stopped in front of 421 West 43rd Street and admired the embellishments and decorative carvings on the building. The front of the entrance has interesting details around the entrance. The elegant building was built in 1910 (Realty.net).
421 West 43rd Street stands out amongst the smaller tenements
Reaching Tenth Avenue, I travelled back down West 43rd Street and stopped in McCaffrey Playground at 341 West 43rd Street, where groups of families were chasing their small children around the park. I needed to take a break and relax so I sat towards the back of the playground. I must have stood out at 6: 4 with tinted glasses because many of the parents gave me a funny look.
The little oasis of green was named after Monsignor Joseph A. McCaffrey, known as the ‘Bishop of Times Square’, who fought against crime in Times Square. It was at his urging of the City that the land was bought for a park to be developed for neighborhood children. It was one of the many parks built during the Robert Moses era (NYCParks.org). The playground has been renovated many times with modern play equipment and many shade trees for the weary traveller like myself.
Monsignor Joseph A. McCaffrey who the park is named after
I had read online that the Little Pie Company was on this block and I made a B-line to the bakery. The bakery is known for their small five inch individual pies and I wanted to try one.
Little Pie Company is at 424 West 43rd Street
Little Pie Company is located at 424 West 43rd Street and was founded in 1985 by actor Arnold Wilkerson who was inspired by his grandmother’s baking. I have to tell you that the Three Berry pie was delicious (see my review on TripAdvisor) and was reasonable at $9.95.
THe Three Berry Pie at Little Pie Company is terrific
I stopped at the little park down the block and ate my little pie with gusto and ‘MMM ing’ the whole time at the tart sweet taste. Even the pigeons stared at me to get a taste.
After about fifteen minutes of relaxing and getting more stares, I moved on down West 43rd Street and turned the corner of West 44th Street. Much of the block around Eighth Avenue has been rebuilt with modern buildings but still there are many gems tucked here and there.
Being so close to the theater district, I passed two famous studios for actors. First was the New Dramatists building at 424 West 44th Street. The organization is located in the former All People’s Church which was built in the 1880’s in the Gothic Revival style for St. Matthews German Lutheran Church. The New Dramatists are an organization of playwrights founded in 1949. Playwrights serve a seven year residence here as they hone their skills (Wiki).
Further down the street is The Actor’s Studio at 432 West 44th Street, which is world renown as a place for actors to ‘hone their craft’. Founded in 1947 by Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford and Bobby Lewis and it known as the home for ‘method acting’ (The Actors Studio History Website).
I was not sure if either organization was open at the time I was in the neighborhood because they both looked so quiet. With the theaters scheduled to open at the end of September (some say closer to December), this will become a much busier block.
Walking back down from Tenth Avenue, I passed a tiny gift shop, Domus-unaffected living at 413 West 44th Street. This quirky little store was closed on my first tour of the neighborhood and I made this my first place to visit when I came the second day (see my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and on TripAdvisor).
Domus-unaffected living is an interesting little gift and home furnishing store that carries many unique items from handmade throw pillows and table runners to toys, books and games for some lucky child. They carry porcelain from a local artist in the neighborhood to handmade jewelry. The store also supports small female owned manufactures and artists both here in the States and abroad and I thought that was important direction the store was taking. The owner is really nice and spent time with me explaining her business.
There is a little something for everyone at Domus-unaffected living
Walking down West 45th Street was interesting at the blocks between renovated tenements and small restaurants along the Avenue corridors. I was entering the core of the residential section of the neighborhood and was impressed by the pride people took in caring for their homes. Even in the pandemic, people took time to tend to their gardens and showcase their flowers which were blooming all over the neighborhood.
I stopped at Mathews-Palmer Playground at 445 West 45th Street for a quick rest. I am not sure what I am doing when I enter a park but I could see those little stares again as a single man walking into a playground to take a rest. This busy little park stretches from West 45th to West 46th and is extremely busy in the afternoons with families. Kids were running all over the place chasing one another while parents chatted.
The Mathews-Palmer Playground at 445 West 45th Street
The park has all sorts of interesting equipment to play on and the shade trees are really nice as the weather is getting warmer. It is just fun to watch the families interacting with one another even as COVID rolls on.
The park is named after two neighborhood activists May Mathews, who worked and lived in the neighborhood eventually working at the Hartley House as the head social worker until 1954. Alexandra Palmer was a long time resident of West 46th Street who worked tirelessly to maintain the park and work with its upkeep (NYCParks.org).
Behind scaffolding in the park is a well known mural “Against Domestic Colonialism” by artist Arnold Belkin. You could not see it from the park side so I had to look up. The work was finished in 1972 during the time the artist was living in New York City between the late 60’s and early 70’s. It has been deteriorated over the last few decades (Boston.com).
The Arnold Belkin mural “Against Domestic Colonialism” before the scaffolding
Mr. Belkin was born in Canada and started his training at the Vancouver School of Art and continued his training later at the Banff School of Fine Arts. The artist is known for his murals large and small and his work with plastic.
Artist Denise Penizzotto, who is handling the restoration
Ms. Penizzotto is a professional artist with experience in project and arts management both here and abroad. She is currently attending and working at Hunter College in New York and has studied at St. Cloud University.
Another interesting mural in the park that you can see from the playground is the “Kids Project 1991” mural at the front of the park.
The “Kids Project 1991” in Mathew-Palmer Playground
When I entered West 46th Street, most of the street was barricaded off for outdoor dining for “Restaurant Row”, a well-known group of eating establishments that cater to the theater crowd. Many of these were closed at the time I made my first visit to the neighborhood when it was colder but as the weather has gotten nicer the tables have been set up and people are enjoying outdoor dining again. The closed off block is only between Eight and Ninth Avenue.
As I passed through, I stopped to admire the plaque at the Hartley House located at 413 West 46th Street. This important establishment has been helping neighborhood residents since 1897 founded on providing education, volunteerism and charity (Hartley House History).
Tucked behind an alleyway and gate is the only remainder of the old Clinton estate, the old carriage house which is now a private home. You really have to look for this hidden entrance as it is in the middle of two buildings down a narrow alley. It is like a hidden kingdom.
The Clinton Court gate leading back to the old carriage house
The carriage house is said to date back to the 1820’s and may be the last reminder of the old estates that used to be part of this neighborhood before the Civil War. The Clinton family had owned most of the land in this neighborhood (Untapped Cities/Emphemeralnewyork@Wordpress.com). As several bloggers mentioned, you can’t see the carriage house from the street and it is private property.
The old Clinton Carriage House at 420-422 West 46th Street
I finished up the first day of walking the neighborhood exhausted. It had been a hot day and it was a lot walking from West 43rd to West 46th from Eighth to Tenth Avenues after a long day of running around. It was also still getting dark early so I finished the evening here.
I returned a few days later to finish the rest of the streets and this time left plenty of time to really look things over that I might have missed. I started my afternoon by revisiting a restaurant that had been closed for a while in Murray Hill, Hop Won at 149 East 45th Street. It was so nice that the restaurant reopened. I was scared that it had closed permanently.
The family that runs the restaurant looked like they happy to see me on that late afternoon. I had the Combination Roast Duck and Pork plate with white rice with an egg roll (see my review on TripAdvisor) and it was so good. I munched down on that for lunch and that got me through the rest of the afternoon of walking.
Don’t miss Hop Won Express at 149 East 45th Street in Midtown East
I walked from the east side to the west side after lunch and revisited some of the spots that I needed more time at like rewalking restaurant row (it was much busier on this warmer day) and Mathew-Palmer park to take a better look at the restoration after reading up on it.
I then turned the corner onto West 47th Street and came upon another painting outside the restaurant Anejo, a Mexican and Tequila Bar at 668 10th Avenue. It seems that a lot of the restaurants in the City are using artists to decorate the side walls of their restaurants.
As I walked down the street I came across the Actors Temple at 339 West 47th Street. This interesting building was built in 1917 as the West Side Hebrew Association. Because of a dwindling membership, the synagogue now rents out the space for dance, music performances and religious services (The Actors Temple NYCArts.org).
I took a moment to relax and finish my notes at Ramon Aponte Park at 343 West 47th Street, a small pocket park in the middle of the neighborhood. This busy little park had kids running all over the place like many of the parks in the neighborhood while the parents talked amongst themselves.
This wonderful little park was named after Ramon Aponte, who was the former President of the 47th/48th Street Association. When the Police Station that once stood in this spot was knocked down the spot became a vacant lot and stood empty during the high crime years of the City. He and many concerned residents of the Association thought it would make a nice green space for the neighborhood. The park opened in 1979 and it was transferred to the New York Parks system in 1987 (NYCParks.com).
I picked up the pace a bit when I got to West 48th Street. I wanted to make it to West 58th Street before dark and I was spending too much time looking at every building carefully. I was amazed for small tenement buildings that people had done such a nice job fixing them up. I wonder what the residents from thirty and forty years ago who lived in the neighborhood would think of this.
On West 48th Street, I passed the Clinton Community Garden which was closed for visitors because of COVID but I could see the volunteers working inside. The garden was not in full bloom yet from what I could see but it looked very impressive and I will have to revisit it in the future.
The Clinton Community Garden at 434 West 48th Street
When the Clinton Community Garden was started over thirty years ago, it was vacant lot with a lot of illegal activity in a time when the City was falling apart. Volunteers cleaned the plot up and planted the area. When the lot was threatened to be sold, the volunteers from the neighborhood appealed to the City to buy it. It was transferred to the Parks system in 1984 and now is run along with the Clinton Garden non profit. Many special events happen in the Garden during the warmer months (NYCParks.org).
When I reached Tenth Avenue again, I relaxed in Hell’s Kitchen Park which lines Tenth Avenue between West 47th and 48th Streets. This restful park was always busy when I walked in the neighborhood and was a nice place to bring my lunch on several afternoons when I want to rest from a long day under the shade.
Hell’s Kitchen Park is on Tenth Avenue between West 47th and 48th Street
Hell’s Kitchen Park has an interesting history in that it had once been a parking lot. Since there was not a lot of green space in this area of the City since it was developed, the City bought this land which had been condemned at the time and developed into the current park that opened in 1979. Today it is one of the hubs for the neighborhood (NYCParks.org).
When I visited, there was always a pickup game of basketball and the kids populated the park after school. I enjoyed eating my lunch here and watching the families enter the park and have a nice time. It is nice to relax on the benches below the shade trees and nod off.
After my break at the park, I turned the corner again and walked down West 49th Street from Tenth Avenue. As I passed the Mather Building Arts and Craftsmanship HIgh School at 439 West 49th Street. On the side of the building, there was another interesting piece of outdoor art by artist Hans Hofmann called ‘Untitled’. The mosaic was created in 1957.
Artist Hans Hofmann was born in Germany and started his career in public service but always leaned towards the creative arts. On encouragement, his studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and the Academie Colarossi in Paris and immersed himself in the Avante-Garde scene. He moved to the States in the thirties to teach and remained in the United States for the rest of his life becoming a citizen in 1941 (Wiki).
Next to the high school was the closed and probably much needed Gutenberg Playground at 420 West 49th Street named after Johann Gutenberg, the inventor of moveable type in printing and was noted for creating the ‘Mazarin Bible’ also known as the ‘Gutenberg Bible’. The playground was built next to the high school in 1958 and was transferred to the NYC Parks Department in 1959. The playground is currently getting an update (NYCParks.org).
Walking back to Eighth Avenue, I had to make another rest stop in the courtyard of the World Wide Plaza Residence at 350 West 50th Street which stretches from West 49th to 50th Streets. It is a nice place to take a break and just relax from the traffic of the City.
In the middle of the courtyard of the building that is open to the public, is the most unusual and beautiful fountain. The fountain called “The Four Seasons” was designed by artist Sidney Simon and each of the four female statutes holds up a globe and represents the four seasons. The statutes were modeled by Molly Ackerman (Wiki).
The World Wide Plaza Fountain “The Four Seasons” by artist Sidney Simon
Sidney Simon was an American born artist from Pennsylvania. He was educated at Carnegie-Mellon and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Fine Arts and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Known as a sculpturist, the fountain at World Wide Plaza was considered one of his most noted works (Wiki).
When I turned the corner onto West 50th Street and walked down the street, I passed the Stella Tower at 425 West 50th Street which was an elegant building in the middle of a neighborhood of small structures. The apartment house was built in 1927 and designed by architect Ralph Walker and was named after his wife, Stella. It is considered a prime example of Pre-War architecture with art deco details (StreetEasy.com/CityRealty.com)
I walked down the rest of the street admiring the small buildings and the array of restaurants that lined the Avenues.
When I started my walk down West 51st Street, I came across the most intriguing and colorful paintings outside ‘ritas Restaurant at 756 Ninth Avenue. The colors are so vibrant and the skull in the middle of the mural is pretty powerful. The reviews on online say that the food is excellent.
The Mural at ‘ritas Restaurant at 756 Ninth Avenue should not be missed
As I walked towards Tenth Avenue, I noticed the beautiful Sacred Heart of Jesus Church at 457 West 51st Street. What an interesting little church. Even though the cornerstone was laid in 1884, there is some debate on when the church was finished and designed by who. The church says it was finished in 1885 and the AIA Guide to New York said it was finished in 1901 and designed by the architects at Napoleon DeBrun & Sons. The church is designed in red brick and terra cotta (Wiki).
Sacred Heart of Jesus Church at 457 West 51st Street
Walking back down the street, I noticed to beautifully detailed buildings that stood out amongst all the others. One was at 330 West 51st and the other was at 306 West 51st Street. They stood out amongst the smaller tenements buildings on the block.
The stone work and carvings of 330-332 West 51st Street was built in 1920 and has interesting archway entrances. The building is an SRO and was just renovated. There is an elegant beauty to it with its faded stone work.
There were also two interesting restaurants that I popped my head into when I was walking around. The Hudson Market Place Deli at 755 Ninth Avenue and another small restaurant that just opened Seguidilla Empanadas at 455 West 51st Street. Both look really nice and are pretty popular in the neighborhood.
Seguidilla Empanada just opened their doors and did this video on YouTube:
The owner welcomes you to his business.
When I walked the neighborhood another afternoon and was traveling the border of the neighborhood I stopped in for a snack. I tried the Chicken Empanada ($2.99) and they were really good. The empanadas were filled with chicken and served it with a pink sauce. They also carry a Dominican soda called ‘Country Club’ and the orange really hit the spot. They have a nice menu.
Turning the corner onto West 52nd, there was a lot to see. At 348 West 52nd Street is an empty carriage house that was in the process of being renovated. The carriage house was built somewhere in the 1870’s by owner, John Newcomb, who ran an auction business. He used this carriage house for his stables for delivery. Since his ownership, the building has had many incarnations up until recently when it was a trendy bar called ‘Therapy’ (Daytonian 2019).
348 West 52nd Street-The John Newcomb Stable now “Therapy”
Outside Crispin’s Restaurant at 764 Tenth Avenue off West 52nd Street is an unusual mural outside the restaurant that I thought was very amusing. This wonderful Italian restaurant I have read has excellent food.
Crispin’s Restaurant mural on West 52nd Street and Tenth Avenue
By this point, I needed a break for dinner myself and I was dying for a hamburger. Lucky for me that I found Lucky’s Famous Burger restaurant at 370 West 52nd Street. This little hole in the wall burger place is excellent. They are also very reasonable. For $12.95, I had one of their combination meals of a Cheeseburger with fries and a large coke. The amount of food I got was a lot.
The cheeseburger was incredibly juicy and the fresh toppings really made the burger and the fries were cooked to perfection and the portion size was more than generous (please read my review on Tripadvisor).
After dinner was over, I was done for the day. It was getting dark out and I could not see much in the dark. I just could not believe how fast these days went.
When I returned a few days later, the weather finally broke and it was nice outside. It was a breathtaking beautiful sunny afternoon when I arrived in Midtown West/ Hell’s Kitchen again. It was the perfect day to walk around.
I started by walk on the top of West 52rd Street, passing the many businesses I had just visited the other day and then rounded the corner to West 53th Street. Most of the block was non-descrip with the exception of an unusual mural someone spray painted behind a fence at 333 West 53rd Street.
As I rounded the corner onto West 54th Street off Eighth Avenue, I was struck by the beauty of the Saint George Greek Orthodox Church at 307 West 54th Street. This beautiful church was constructed in 1886 and has served many purposes over the years. In the 1950’s, the church took over this spot (Saint George Greek Orthodox Church history)
307 West 54th Street-Saint George Greek Orthodox Church
Further down the block, when I passed 341 West 54th Street, I saw a series of faces staring back at me. I love these buildings with faces all over them. I was in need of something sweet to keep me going with all the walking that I had to do this afternoon, so I stopped at Huascar & Company Bakery at 453 West 54th Street. This tiny bakery is tucked into a corner near a building that is being renovated so it is easy to miss.
Huascar & Company at 453 West 54th Street
Not wanting to have the usual cupcakes and cookies, I saw in a jar a small cookie that the woman behind the counter said was a traditional South American cookie, a Alfagar, a type of sugar cookie with a caramel filling and powdered sugar on top. It was a little expensive at $3.50 but it was delicious and worth the price.
The ‘Alfagar cookie’ at Huascar & Company bakery
After having some refreshments inside me, I walked down West 55th Street and noticed the elegance of the Sherwood Apartments at 340 West 55th Street. The Sherwood was built in 1925 and is a combination of stone and brick and has some stand out balconies. It stands out from the other residences on the blocks between Eighth and Tenth Avenues (StreetEasy.com). It even has a planted roof deck.
When walking down West 56th Street, I noticed that the block had some interesting artwork all along the block in places you would never think. In front of 424 West 56th Street, you are greeted by a purple figure smiling at you. I figured a local artist lives here.
They must have also decorated the fence across the street which has all this unusual stuff attached to the webbing of the fence. It will be hard to keep up when the construction finishes on the site.
This is a portion of the fencing at 310 West 56th Street
Tucked into the public plaza at 330 West 56th Street, there was an unusual bird sculpture located near the entrance but I did not know who made it. It had the strangest shape to it.
Walking through the courtyard of The Sheffield at 322 West 57th Street from the West 56th Street side, I came across the unusual sculpture ‘IKON’ by artist David Hostetler. This strange portrait of a woman made an impression on everyone relaxing in the garden. The sculpture has an unique form and stands out in the courtyard.
The sculpture “IKON” by artist David Hostetler at between West 56th and 57th courtyard of The Sheffield complex
Artist David Hostetler
Artist David Hostetler is an American born artist from Ohio. He graduated with a BA from Indiana University and a MFA from Ohio University. He specialty was wooden and bronze sculpture and known for his ‘feminine’ works (Artist Bio).
When I rounded West 57th Street from Eighth Avenue passing the The Sheffield again I passed another building at 309 West 57th Street. On the outside of the building was a plaque to the composer Bela Bartok.
The plaque dedicated to Hungarian composer Bela Bartok, one most influential composers of the 20th Century. Mr. Bartok was born in Hungary and studied at Royal Academy of Music in Budapest and studied under many well known composers. He migrated to the United States in 1940 with his wife when he refused to recognize the Nazi regime. He remained in New York for the rest of his life working for Columbia University
When I walked along West 58th Street again, I noticed that a lot of the restaurants and stores had closed during the era of COVID. This part of the City has really taken a hit with the lack of tourists and office workers. There is only so much the local residents can support. I walked towards the back of the Time Warner Building and walked past the back entrance to the Time Warner Building and I noticed a piece of street art that I had not noticed on my last few trips in the neighborhood. That statue is called “Asaf and Yo’oh” by artist Boaz Vaadia and is tucked into the entrance of the building at 25 Columbus Circle-1 Central Park West.
The artist was born in Israel and came from a farming background. He studied at the Avni Institute of Fine Arts in Tel Aviv and was sent to the United States on a grant from the American-Israel Cultural Foundation and then studied at Pratt. His works are made of varies mediums of stone (Artist Bio).
It was surprising how quiet the hotel looked as the Mandarin Hotel was one of the few uptown hotels that are still open during the pandemic. No one was around so it gave me a chance to peak inside the building which looked empty. With most people still working from home I did not expect to see a lot but the area is getting busier.
I ended my walk on the last afternoon at 57 Taco Express for lunch. I was in the mood for a Cheese and Chicken Quesadilla ($5.99) and ordered one and took it down to Hell’s Kitchen Park for lunch. It was nice to just sit back and relax and watch the world go by. The quesadilla was pretty good. It was nice to eat it in a sunny park under the trees watching everyone have a great time around me. Some people have not let the pandemic totally control their life.
Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen offers so much so take time to stroll each street and take it all in.
With the College in Summer recess, its full steam ahead!
Check out the other walks of Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton/Midtown West on the blog:
Walking the Border and Avenues of Hell’s Kitchen Day One Hundred and Ninety Four:
I finally got back to the West Side of the Island since before the Christmas holidays of 2019. I could not believe it had that long since I had visited that part Island. Like the rest of Manhattan, this area just keeps changing. COVID has changed the rest of the country but in New York City, it has shuttered and changed whole neighborhoods.
Unlike the Midtown South neighborhood that had been built as Midtown business district during the “City Beautiful Era” of cities between the Civil War and WWI with its classic Beaux Arts and French Renaissance style buildings, Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton was filled with tenements and smaller commercial buildings that catered to the working class living there who were employed in the factories and the docks in Chelsea and the Garment District. Up until the early 1990’s, this was still a pretty tough area. As the City has gentrified, this is one of the last frontiers for people to move into reasonably. Up until COVID hit the City, the area had been fully gentrified and the corridors of Ninth and Tenth Avenues had become ‘restaurant rows’ for the theater district . Now Tenth Avenue is retrenching with a lot of empty storefronts.
I started my walk at the Port Authority which is the southern part of the neighborhood. This is the main port of transportation for thousands of workers from New Jersey and in pre-COVID times, this area was filled with active restaurants and theaters. Things have opened back up slowly but most of the restaurants for now closed. The 42nd Street Corridor from Eight to Sixth Avenue has not fully recovered from the lost of the Theater traffic. As I walked up Eight Avenue from West 42nd to 59th Streets, some restaurants were fully opened and some were take out and delivery so the foot traffic was pretty quiet that day. Even some of the hotels have not opened back up for business. This area has been hit very badly since the closure of the Theater District.
Since Midtown West had been rezoned eight years ago, the area is in the process of being knocked down and rebuilt with new office buildings and apartment houses. The area around Eight Avenue from West 42nd to 50th Streets has changed a lot in the last ten years. COVID has closed most of the restaurants on the street as well. Looking on the side streets many of the theaters in the Theater District are either chained closed or boarded up with the hotels in the neighborhood. It can be a scary ghost town at night.
The area has had an interesting past. During Colonization by the Dutch, the neighborhood was known as “Great Kill” due to three streams that used to empty into the Hudson River and was home to many large farms and estates of the wealthy . The area was dominated by family names such as Hopper and Clinton, the latter being the former Vice-President and New York State Governor George Clinton, whose family owned a villa around where present West 46th Street is now. All that is left of that part of the neighborhood’s history is the carriage house from the estate in an alleyway at 422 West 46th Street (Wiki).
Former Vice-President and New York Governor George Clinton
In 1849, the railroad reached the neighborhood and it started to form its Industrial stage with tanneries and docks being built along the shore and shanty towns for workers forming along the waterfront. Later tenements were built to house the workers of the industries filling with recent Irish immigrants after the Civil War and the area had a notorious reputation for gang violence until gentrification started in the 1980’s. The neighborhood has been transforming since that time with new construction along the West 42nd to 59th corridor along Eighth Avenue (Wiki).
The area is still in a state of transformation even during the Global Pandemic. Many of the restaurants around the neighborhood have closed partially due to the closing of Broadway theaters that dominate the neighborhood and the empty office buildings that line Eighth Avenue. The ‘Theater District’ that lies just east of the neighborhood is still mostly boarded up as well as the hotels are still all closed. It makes it spooky at night to walk through almost similar to those years in the 1980’s and early 1990’s when you had to run down Eighth Avenue to get to the Port Authority.
The edges of this neighborhood have changed a lot in the past twenty years. Between the redevelopment of the area under the Koch and Giuliani Administrations and the rezoning under the Bloomberg Administration, the Eighth Avenue corridor and streets from West 40th to 45th have all been rebuilt. I have never seen so much change in an area in the last twenty years.
Pre-COVID the Port Authority between West 42nd to West 41st Streets from Eighth to Ninth Avenues was going through a face-life renovation and the facility started to move out all the older stores and restaurants for higher end takeout places and an art gallery. It looks now that it has been put on hold until people start to return.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal at 625 Eighth Avenue
Since I returned to Manhattan to resume this project last June, the traffic going through the Port Authority has not changed much even though there are more people on the bus. The afternoon I came into the City it was sunny and 66 degrees. More outdoor dining was in play and more people were outside enjoying the weather.
I started my walk exiting the Port Authority at the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 42nd Street, a corner that still needs a lot of work. Pre-COVID this was a bustling area of theaters, shops and restaurants and one of the biggest McDonald’s in the country. Most of it is closed down now and the homeless have taken back over this area. Surprisingly though, it still remains clean a result of the Partnerships established in the mid-1990’s. This area is swept all day long.
As I walked along the eastern border of Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton, there is a distinct change in the area. Even if many of the hotels and theaters are closed, slowly the restaurants in the Theater District have reopened to outdoor dining giving this area a much needed boost.
One of the most interesting buildings in the Times Square area is the Westin New York at Times Square at 270 West 43rd Street which stretches from West 42nd to West 43rd along Eighth Avenue. This hotel (which is currently closed during COVID) was considered one of the most innovative designed buildings in New York City when it was built.
Westin New York at Times Square at 270 West 43rd Street
The hotel was so innovative at the time when it was built and was considered a key in the redevelopment of the West 42nd Street district. The hotel was commissioned by the architectural firm of Arquitectonica to design the building. The 863 room hotel is actually two towers merged together with a ten story midsection for retail and hotel suites. The large scale abstract design has the look of a multi-dimensional gigantic origami (Arquitectonica website). The building was designed by HKS architects and was finished in 2002.
Further up Eight Avenue is the well-known Row NYC Hotel at 700 Eighth Avenue. This hotel opened in 1928 as the Hotel Lincoln and was the largest hotel in Manhattan when it opened with 1331 rooms. In 1957, the hotel was sold and remodeled and open again as The Hotel Manhattan. It was closed in the 1960’s as the rest of the area declined. It reopened again as the Milford Plaza Hotel in 1978 and was a big theater going hotel. In 2013, the hotel was sold once again and went through another renovation and opened as the currently Row NYC Hotel (Wiki).
Passing now closed hotels and restaurants that line this part of Eighth Avenue that border the theater district, I passed the now closed Smith’s Bar, which has been a fixture in Times Square for over sixty years opening in 1954. The bar had been sold to new owners in 2009 and then closed in 2014 to reopen a year later. The bar is now closed again due to the COVID pandemic.
This bar has seen Times Square go through a major transition over the years and was once located in one of the worst areas during the 1990’s. It survived all of that and closed a few months ago due to the COVID pandemic.
Further up the avenue on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 46th Street is the West 46th Street SRO. This interesting building that I thought was an elegant Victorian is actually a combination of three former tenement buildings and two residences to make one building. Architects Oaklander, Coogan & Vitto PC created this interesting building with an additional shared floor topped with a mansard roof and tower. It used to house many trendy restaurants and bars but since the pandemic has been empty (OCV Architects PC).
I reached West 48th Street and I passed Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9, which I used to pass all the time when I worked down the road at the Java Shop on the corner of Broadway and West 46th Street at 782 Eighth Avenue. These companies were hit hard a year after I left my job on 9/11 when the Brothers of this house lost 15 members that day, their entire shift. The memorial they have to their members is really touching and the guys that work there always seem so friendly to all the tourists that pass by.
Engine 54/Ladder 4/Battalion 9 at 782 Eighth Avenue
Pay respects to the Engine 54/Ladder 4 Memorial on the front of the building
I made a detour back to West 55th Street for lunch. I stopped at Stage Star Deli at 105 West 55th Street for a sandwich before I continued the walk around the neighborhood. The deli is so reasonable and has so many choices (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
Stage Star Deli at 105 West 55th Street
I chose a Chicken Salad sandwich with Pesto combination lunch ($8.95) which was excellent. The chicken salad was so fresh and the pesto had such a nice flavor. The sandwich was served on a hero roll and could have fed two people. The food here is consistent and excellent.
The Chicken Salad with Pesto here is excellent
After lunch I headed down the road to Myzel Chocolate at 140 West 55th for dessert. I had not been there in over a year since the shutdown of the City last March. I had to have one of their Chocolate Chip cookies and they still had Cadbury Creme Eggs from Easter (See reviews on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). I was shocked when the bill came to $4.10. For a cookie and a piece of candy that must have been a month old?
Myzel’s Chocolate at 140 West 55th Street
I talked with the owner, Mrs. Myzel and she was talking about the lack of business since the shut down and all the problems the City was facing with the homeless and the lack of office workers. I told her it would be about a year until things started to get to the new normal. Still the store had so much of its magic to it with all the decorations and displays. It is a store to visit to forget your troubles.
Mrs. Myzel greets all her customers with a smile
There are two wonderful Chinese restaurants that I like to visit when I am in the neighborhood. One is Peking Roast Duck at 858 Eighth Avenue, which has wonderful lunch specials until 4:00pm. The restaurant has some of the best egg rolls that I have tasted in a long time.
Peking Roast Duck Restaurant at 858 Eighth Avenue
The other is Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns at 811 Eighth Avenue which is known for their Pork & Crab and Pork Soup Dumplings. I love their fried dumplings, Scallion pancakes with sliced beef, the pan-fried Duck Buns and the Shanghai pan-fried pork buns. Everything on the menu here is excellent and you can eat your way through the menu of delicious Dim Sum.
Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns at 811 Eighth Avenue
I double backed to Eighth Avenue after lunch and walked up the avenue to West 59th Street. As I continued up Eighth Avenue and circled Columbus Circle, I saw the familiar sites of the statue of Christopher Columbus and the Time-Warner Complex in the background. It has been almost two years since I finished the Upper West Side of Manhattan and even as I walk those streets again I always feel like I missed something. In the era of COVID, it keeps changing so much.
Columbus Circle has changed over the last twenty years
Columbus Circle was always busy day and night with street vendors, bicyclists, performers and just people sitting and reading or enjoying the weather and people watching on a warm day. Now because of the ‘Cancel Culture’ crowd dominating the headlines and the idiots knocking down statues, the area is fenced off with police cars around it. It used to be such a nice area to sit down and talk.
The 76 foot statue was designed by Italian sculptor Gaetano Russo as part of a plan to honor Columbus’s discovery of the Americas as part of the 1892 commemoration of the 400 year anniversary of the event. If you look closely at the pillar, you will see the reliefs of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria ships on the memorial (Columbus Memorial and Wiki).
Columbus Circle itself was part of the great plan of Central Park in 1857 by Fredrick Law Olmsted, the designer of many parks in New York City as having four rotary entrances to the park. The other rotary in the neighborhood is Grand Army Plaza by The Plaza Hotel.
The Time Warner Center on the other side of the circle represents the massive change in the Upper West Side from a liberal working class area to the new luxury of Manhattan. The Time Warner Center is a mixed use building containing office space, the Mandarin Hotel, many exclusive restaurants and shops and entertainment. The building was designed by David Childs and Mustafa Kemel Abadan of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. This modern palace of luxury replaced the old New York Coliseum and opened in 2003 (Wiki). Don’t miss just wondering around the building.
On the other side of the Circle is the new Museum of Art & Design that opened in 2008. The building was the former home of the Gallery of Modern Art designed by Edward Durell Stone in 1969. The building was modernized by architect Brad Cloepfil (Wiki) and the museum shows interesting aspects of art from media, video, painting and photography.
Museum of Art and Design at 2 Columbus Circle
As I crossed the street, the neighborhood is full of Post War architecture but one building stands out with its modern twist. The Hearst Tower at 300 West 57th Street.
The first six floors of the original Hearst Tower were built in 1928 by architect Joseph Urban for the headquarters of the Hearst publishing empire. The building was originally supposed to have an office tower on top but the Great Depression put a stop to the construction. Take a look at the statuary, stone work and details of the original building before admiring the new addition (Wiki).
Admire the detail work of the original 1928 building
Architect Norman Foster designed the 46 story addition to the building which was completed in 2006. The addition of glass and steel is designed in the ‘Diagrid’ pattern and was the first ‘green building’ with environmental features in New York City (Wiki).
I then walked across that street to the Time Warner Building right off the subway station under Columbus Circle (it is amazing where they put this stuff) to the food court in the subway station. The Turnstyle Underground Market is located at the West 59th Street entrance at the Time-Warner Building. Just take the escalator down.
The Turnstyle Underground is in the subway station at the Time Warner Building at 59 Columbus Circle
The food court market had just reopened a few months ago and the place was more than half empty. All the great little restaurants that were independently owned were gone. VIctims to the COVID pandemic and the lack of tourists and office workers. I had read that my favorite, Daa Dumplings had closed about four or five months ago due to lack of traffic (See Day One Hundred and Fifty-Walking the Borders of Central Park South):
If I saw four people sitting down there, it was a lot. Most of the restaurants were empty and almost all the small stores were gone as well. Even the bar that was so popular at the end of the food court and the small independent pizzeria were shut down. It was really spooky because just a year and a half earlier your could not get a seat here.
I walked towards the back of the Time Warner Building and walked past the back entrance to the Time Warner Building and I noticed a piece of street art that I had not noticed on my last few trips in the neighborhood. That statue is called “Asaf and Yo’oh” by artist Boaz Vaadia and is tucked into the entrance of the building at 25 Columbus Circle-1 Central Park West.
The artist was born in Israel and came from a farming background. He studied at the Avni Institute of Fine Arts in Tel Aviv and was sent to the United States on a grant from the American-Israel Cultural Foundation and then studied at Pratt. His works are made of varies mediums of stone (Artist Bio).
It was surprising how quiet the hotel looked as the Mandarin Hotel was one of the few uptown hotels that are still open during the pandemic. No one was around so it gave me a chance to peak inside the building which looked empty. With most people still working from home I did not expect to see a lot.
West 59th and 58th Streets are disrupted in their flow by the Time Warner Building and I continued my walk across West 58th Street and then crossed back over to West 59th behind the complex. This area of the City was part of major urban renewal project back in the 1960’s when the Lincoln Center complex and the Colleges were built so most of the construction up here is new or been updated. I have seen a lot of changes since I walked this neighborhood in when walking the area in 2018 (See Day One Hundred and Twenty-Five-MywalkinManhattan).
Day One Hundred and Twenty-Five: Walking the Streets of the lower part of the Upper West Side:
Still here and there are gems of architecture from another era. Walking down West 59th Street there are still structures that survived urban renewal of the area. I passed the the Parish House of the Church of St. Paul at 415 West 59th Street. The building was built in the late Victorian Gothic Revival style by architects Jeremy O’Rourke and the Rev. George Deshon between 1876 to 1884. The structure was construction used stones from various historical buildings (Church of St. Paul and Wiki).
The Parish House of the Church of St. Paul at 415 West 59th Street
The other building not to miss is the Williams J. Syms Operating Theater at 338 West 59th Street right behind the Time-Warner Complex. It was built in 1892 as a medical hospital and is the last remaining piece of the old Roosevelt Hospital by architects William Wheeler Smith and surgeon Charles McBurney. Made with marble and mosaic floors as not to harbor bacteria, it was considered state of the art when it opened. It is now being renovated for a school (Wiki and HDR Org).
Turning the corner on West 59th Street at Tenth Avenue, you will face the beauty of the John Jay College of Criminology Haaren Building at 899 Tenth Avenue. The building is home to many classrooms and the library for the college. The building was designed by Charles B.J. Snyder and was completed in 1903 (Wiki and John Jay College). The building was originally the Dewitt Clinton High School.
John Jay College Haaren Building at 899 Tenth Avenue
The walk down Tenth Avenue was very different from other neighborhoods I had been recently. NoMAD, Rose Hill and Kips Bay were filled with historical architecture and embellished office buildings while this part of Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen is filled with tenement housing, small theaters and restaurants. Unlike Ninth Avenue with its vibrant restaurant scene, Tenth Avenue is full of empty storefronts and closed restaurants with ‘For Rent’ signs. This is a sign of the times during the era of COVID.
One of the few patches of green in the neighborhood is the Hell’s Kitchen Park at thew corner at Tenth Avenue and West 48th Street. This park was created from a parking lot in 1966 when the neighborhood demanded green space for residents who lived here (NYCParks.org). The park was packed with families and kids playing basketball and running around the playground.
Hell’s Kitchen Playground at Tenth Avenue and West 48th Street
It was strange to be in a neighborhood with such small buildings. Not just small buildings but so many ‘For Rent’ signs on the windows. I know this neighborhood will bounce back to the vibrant place it once was but it will take time. The traffic changed again when I got to West 42nd Street. There were most people walking around the streets.
A lot of the businesses on West 42nd Street heading back to the Port Authority have started opening up again. Sidewalk cafes were out with the warmer weather and customers were milling around.
One of my favorite Chinese restaurants from the 1990’s, Ollies at 411 West 42nd Street had not just opened their dining room but their outside cafe dining. Ollies had once been a popular restaurant in the Theater district at the corner of West 46th Street off Broadway and one of my favorite places to eat after work. It is still popular but the chef has since changed.
One building that stood out amongst the smaller tenement buildings of West 42nd Street was the Holy Cross Church at 329 West 42nd Street, which was decorated by plantings of many flowers that gave it a festive appearance.
The building has a interesting history. The parish was established in 1852 and the original building was built in 1852 but it was outgrown so a new building was built in 1854. This building was hit by lightning in 1867 and the current building was built in the same spot in 1870. It was built by architect Henry Englebert and is the oldest building on 42nd Street (Wiki and Holy Cross History).
Once I got back to Port Authority is was back for a bathroom break as there are not many public toilets in the neighborhood. Then I made the walk around the second time around the perimeter admiring the buildings and businesses for a second time. I could see by the traffic that the east side of Eighth Avenue was very quiet near the now closed theaters. This area was hit hard by COVID pandemic and it is rumored that Broadway theaters should open between September and December (we all hope) and the district will once again open.
When I reached West 58th again, I stopped at Amore Pizza Cafe at 370 West 58th Street for a quick slice. The pizza was pretty good and it was a nice sized slice of pizza. I had passed the place for years but never went into so it was another dining adventure (see review on TripAdvisor).
After my snack, I continued the walk back down Tenth Avenue and stopped in Hell’s Kitchen Park to take some more notes. I swear the park got busier since visiting a few hours before. I made the turn on West 42nd Street and decided to walk up the length of Ninth Avenue and explore the Avenues of the neighborhood as well.
Just like Tenth Avenue, Ninth Avenue is filled with smaller tenement buildings, restaurants and small theaters and shops but being the heart of the Gay community, Ninth Avenue is much more vibrant. Most of the restaurants and outdoor cafes were filled the afternoon I visited the neighborhood. Being later in the evening, many people filled the bars and tables of the establishments and I noticed how many people were on top of each other and were not wearing masks. I thought this is a recipe for disaster but still it has a very vibrant restaurant scene.
In the midst of all the restaurants and bars on Ninth Avenue, there were only two that I have tried, Mom’s Kitchen & Bar at 701 Ninth Avenue for breakfast a few years before and Saccio Pizza at 819 Ninth Avenue for pizza one afternoon and it was pretty good.
Mom’s Kitchen & Bar at 701 Ninth Avenue
Sacco Pizza at 819 Ninth Avenue
The one thing I remember about eating at Mom’s Kitchen & Bar that morning was the unusual menu they had for brunch. A friend and I shared an order of their Fruity Pebble Pancakes and their Mac & Cheese Pancakes and they were strange combinations but really tasted good especially the Mac & Cheese Pancakes with a honey syrup. It was an interesting breakfast.
The Mac & Cheese Pancakes at Mom’s Kitchen & Bar are amazing
This is a neighborhood in a big transition now that the theaters are closed but I know brighter days are ahead as things open up soon. With the warmer weather and more vaccine coming, it will revert back to the neighborhood it was becoming. You can see this on a busy night at dinner time with restaurants filling up and people walking around with and without masks.
I am still wearing my mask around the City for now.
Check out the other walks of the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton/Midtown West on this blog:
Walking the Border and Avenues of Hell’s Kitchen Day One Hundred and Ninety Four:
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…