A la Mode Shoppe is the type of ice cream/candy shop that every neighborhood should have in it. It is a colorful spot with unusual, homemade ice cream flavors, and a nice selection of gourmet sodas, candies and gifts. The store is decorated with bright colors, comfortable chairs and a festive inviting environment. They even have a small party room off to the side of store with seating for small children.
The inside of A la Mode Shoppe (A la Mode Facebook)
What I come for is the ice cream. There are two flavors that I come for when I visit the store, Pink Sprinkles, which is Strawberry ice cream with loads of colorful sprinkles layered…
I want to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to my father who this blog is dedicated to and for inspiring such a walk around New York City.
I have completed more than half the Island of Manhattan and I still sometimes catch a glimpse of him in the corner of my eye walking beside me like he did on all those wonderful afternoons we spent in Manhattan for birthdays and Father’s Day’s.
Whenever I visit a place that we used to go on a regular basis like the MoMA, Little Italy or Chinatown or the Met, I still think “How much dad would have liked this”. This is why I love the complexity of New York City. Things just keep changing no matter how much you want them to stay the same and it can still surprise you.
This is my dedication to those wonderful afternoons we spent together!
Happy Birthday Day Dad!
Blogger Justin Watrel with his father, Warren Watrel, at “Tap O Mania” in 1994 outside Macy’s Herald Square. Appropriate while the blogger is exploring the Garment District.
“Tap O Mania” was a huge tap dance that used to happen outside Macy’s in the summer to break the Guiness Book of World Records every year. My father and I did this up from the time I was an executive at the store until I moved in 2000. The company stopped doing this for security reasons.
I have stopped in at the Hotel Chocolat a few of times over the last couple of months and have found that the store has the most amazing candies, chocolates and ice cream creations. The store had been closed during the COVID pandemic but reopened with a nice manager with a big smile and hearty greeting. I have never been so warmly welcomed to a store before.
I had been staying in Manhattan over the Spring Break, working on updating my blog on ‘Midtown East’ for my sister site “MywalkinManhattan.com” and revisited the store again. There were all sorts of beautifully boxed chocolates for sale for the upcoming Easter holidays as well as every day candies.
The candies here are creatively made and packaged with all sorts…
As I have mentioned since the reopening of New York City, people are trying to write the City off as ‘dead’ and that is far from true. I see a City that is quieter, adapting to conditions around it and slowly coming back to life.
I spent my third day exploring in the Murray Hill neighborhood and I am beginning to see more and more people feel the same way I do. They are joining the world again by walking through parks, jogging on the sidewalks and partaking in the outdoor dining that is popping up all over the City streets and sidewalks. Restaurants and bars are doing their best to cater to their customers while still maintaining social distancing and keeping everyone safe.
No where did I see this more in play than in Bryant Park, which has become my headquarters for this part of the walk. When I got into the park that afternoon, people had taken over the lawn even after the overnight rain storm and were lying all over the grass (socially distanced of course) reading, laughing and conversing with friends. The chairs and tables around the park were filled with people eating their lunches, talking and reading. The park was pretty well filled.
Bryant Park Grill, the main restaurant of the park, was filled to capacity during the lunch hour. People were having business meetings over lunch and slowly out of towners are coming back to the City missing the vibrancy of the City. You would never know there was a pandemic going on from all the people in the park enjoying the sunshine on a nice warm sunny day.
I had gotten tickets through the Members Website at the Morgan Library & Museum that afternoon at 2:30pm with timed tickets so I knew how to pace my day. I wanted to walk all the streets between East 41st and East 35th Street from Fifth Avenue to FDR Drive. It would be several hours of interesting walking. What I saw all over the neighborhood that afternoon is life coming back.
I started my walk at the New York Public Library entrance admiring the fountains and the gardens planted up front. Most of the tables in front of the New York Public Library were full of people eating their lunches, reading or sleeping.
I threw a coin into the fountain of ‘Beauty’, made a wish and started my walk. This graceful and elegant fountain was designed by artist Frederick MacMonnies. In the background is the words written, “Beauty, old yet ever new, Eternal Voice, and Inward word”.
“Beauty” the fountain in front of the New York Public Library
Frederick MacMonnies is an American born artist whose specialty was “Beaux-Arts style” design. The artist was trained at the National Academy of Design and Arts Student League of New York. The artist continued his training in Paris (Wiki).
I started my afternoon by walking down East 41st Street on a glorious sunny day. With the temperature being around 83 degrees, it was the perfect day to walk around Murray Hill. It was also really quiet being Labor Day Weekend and the streets were deserted for most of the afternoon.
The ‘Library Walk’ starts at Fifth Avenue and ends at Park Avenue
I like to talk a lot about looking up and not missing anything that you might miss by looking ahead. Here on East 41st Street you have to look down to see the “Library Walk” from Fifth Avenue to Park Avenue by artist Gregg Lefevre.
The artist was commissioned by in 1998 to create plaques with words and sayings from some of our greatest authors from Mark Twain to Ernest Hemingway. These plaques line both sides of the street so you will need time to look at each one carefully and be able to read the ones you want.
As I followed the plaques down East 41st Street toward Park Avenue trying to read everyone, I walked past the Library Hotel again at 299 Madison Avenue and East 41st Street. Their outdoor restaurant “Madison and Vine” was set up for lunch and was already getting busy. I spent time admiring the menu and the festive place-settings on the tables. It looked like a fun place to eat.
Madison & Vine is at the corner of Madison Avenue and East 41st Street
Across the street and a little further down is Stone Bridge Pizza & Salad at 16 East 41st Street. One evening when I revisited the neighborhood, stopped in for dinner (The Library Hotel and Madison & Vine were temporarily closed in February 2021). I had the most amazing Meatlovers Pizza loaded with pepperoni, sausage, bacon and saute onions. It really warmed me up a a gloomy rainy night (see review on TripAdvisor).
Stone Bridge Pizza and Salad at 16 East 41st Street (Closed December 2022)
Further down from the Library Hotel is the Dylan Hotel at 52 East 41st Street. This boutique hotel is housed in the historic Chemist’s Building once the home of the American Chemical Society and the Society of Chemical Industry as their club headquarters. The building was designed by architectural firm York and Sawyer and was completed in 1911. The building was designed in the ‘French Renaissance style’ and was home to the club into the 1980’s. It became the Dylan Hotel in 1988 (Dylan Hotel History).
Walking down East 41st Street leads you through mostly office and large apartment buildings until you get to the end when you reach Tudor City, one of the first planned and most important examples of middle class housing . It was designed in the Tudor Revival style and was the creation of the Fred French Company by architect H. Douglas Ives. In the design of the complex you can see the arches, bay windows, gables and towers that make up the design (Wiki).
Tudor City is one of the first planned middle class communities in the United States
What is nice is the parks that line the complex are a nice place to sit and relax. The landscaped paths and the flower beds are a nice reprieve from all the traffic. They are a calm place to relax.
The Gardens at Tudor City are a nice place to relax
One of my favorite little shops in Manhattan is in the Tudor City complex, Azalea & Oak at 5 Tudor City. This unique little store has the most interesting window displays and nicest selection of children’s clothing and toys and customer jewelry.
When walking back through the complex I noticed tucked into the complex but not in the complex is 337 East 41st Street, a small brownstone building that survived the wrecking ball when the complex was built.
This little brownstone has a survivalist history. Built in 1870 by developer S. S. Stevens, this home and eighteen other like it, were built on the northern side of the street to match similar brownstones that had just been built. Architectural firm Hubert & Pirsson were commissioned to design them in the Italianate style with small yards in the back. Somehow this home was the only one in 1925 that survived the wrecking ball when Tudor City was built. It is now a private home (Daytonian). It’s so interesting the cool things that are tucked in the corners of the this neighborhood.
As I walked back I noticed a Chemical Bank sign on a building considering the company has not existed since the 1990’s. It’s quiet beauty stopped me. The bottom of the building is done in polished black granite and silver details. The former Johns-Manville Corporation leased 14 floors of it originally but the Chemical Bank (which is now part of J.P. Morgan/Chase) sign still shows prominently on the building (NewYorkitecture).
275 Madison Avenue-The John-Manville/Chemical Bank Building
The building was designed in 1931 by architect Kennith Franzheim in the ‘Art Deco style’ and the lower part of the building is done in polished black granite and silver and the geometric design gives it a unique look (NewYorkitecture). The building was leased by the John-Manville Corporation having a large presence on the lower floors but the Chemical Bank sign (now part of J.P.Morgan Chase) still proudly stands.
The beautiful details of the former John-Manville/Chemical Bank Building at 275 Madison Avenue
One of big surprises was discovering the AKC Museum of the Dog at 101 Park Avenue. The American Kennel Club (AKC) founded this museum in 1982 at 51 Madison Avenue, the former headquarters of the American Kennel Club and in 1987 it moved to Queeny Park in Missouri. In 2017, the museum and its collection moved to the new Park Avenue headquarters of the AKC.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) Museum of the Dog at 101 Park Avenue
The museum contains a collection of 1,700 pieces of art that preserves, interprets and celebrates the role of dogs in society and educates the public about human-canine bond (AKC Museum of the Dog history).
The American Kennel Club’s Museum of the Dog exhibition space
Tucked here and there in between buildings that are some small gems that just stand out amongst the more modern buildings. The small firehouse building at 148 East 40th Street I found out later on was actually a stable.
John W. Allen was a successful stockbroker and had a home at 14 East 42nd Street and these stables were a status symbol of the times. It meant that you could stable your own horse and carriage in your own building. At this time many stables for the wealthy were located on the side streets of the Avenues. This little building was designed and built by Charles E. Hadden. The building is made of brick with a slated Mansard roof and the top floors were accommodations for the groom or stable boy (Daytonian).
Sitting just outside 300 Madison Avenue, the PricewaterhouseCoopers Building is the sculpture “Stamen” by artist Rodney Carroll. This unusual sculpture caught my attention because of its twist and turns and I could not believe I missed it when I was walking the Avenues of the neighborhood. This unusual piece of art was created in 2009.
Rodney Carroll is noted for his large scale sculptures in public spaces and private collections. He studied sculpture at Old Dominion University and received his BS in Fine Arts and studied sculpture at Norfolk State (The Virginian Pilot).
As I finished walking East 40th Street, I made my way to the Hunan Manor Restaurant at 339 Lexington Avenue between East 39th and 40th Streets only to discover that it was closed. I talked with the deli next door and discovered the restaurant had closed. Disappointed I made my way to my second choice in the neighborhood, Madison & Vine at the Library Hotel at 299 Madison Avenue by East 41st Street. I was not disappointed.
Madison & Vine Restaurant at the Library Hotel at 299 Madison Avenue
What an amazing experience! I have been very leery about eating in restaurants or even take out for that matter since COVID-19 has set in. You never know what is going on in the kitchen. It was such a nice dining experience especially since it is so quiet in the City.
All the tables were spread out by more than six feet and the sidewalk that is outside the hotel has all sorts of planters and flowers to block the street. With the views of the library across the street and the excellent service it was very relaxing. I had a Shrimp Po Boy (see review on TripAdvisor) that was delicious. The hoagie roll was so fresh and the shrimps were fried perfectly with fresh tomatoes and shredded lettuce. The fries were freshly cut and seasoned perfectly. It was just nice to eat a quiet, relaxing lunch and just watch the world go by with all this chaos going on. For an hour, you just forget it is all going on and I think that was the feeling of my fellow diners. I do hope though that Hunan Manor reopens because their reviews and food looked really good.
Relaxed and refreshed from lunch, I continued to tackle and explore the neighborhood. I walked down Fifth Avenue from the restaurant and made a left down East 39th Street when I noticed faces staring at me from 4 East 39th Street. They stared down at me from the entrance of the local Berkshire Bank.
The Keppel & Company building at 4 East 39th Street
The building was originally part of a complex of stables for the wealthy and was knocked down by Frederick Keppel, a art dealer. He commissioned architect George B. Post to design a new building for his business, Keppel & Co. The building was designed in the ‘Gothic style’ and the two figures that stare down at you are artist James McNeil Whistler and the other is artist Rembrandt Van Rijn (Daytonian). You could tell by the details that this did not start as a bank.
The Frederick Keppel & Company building
The rest of East 39th Street is a combination of office and apartment buildings and a lot of closed restaurants. It gets spooky to see so many closed businesses but still at night it will surprise you how many restaurants are opening just for dinner and how alive it will become again. At the end of the block you see a large empty lot overlooking the Queens skyline.
The East River Skyline of Long Island City
East 38th Street is lined with more brownstones on both sides and this shows the beauty of the side streets of the Murray Hill Historical District that stretch within the boundaries of the neighborhood. Each of these homes on the side streets are unique in their own way.
The brownstones on the side streets of Murray Hill are very unique
Passing through the core of the neighborhood, you exit at the end of East 38th Street with the most amazing views of the Queens skyline. On a sunny day these views of the river are really spectacular.
The bulldogs stare back at you
Almost like an insert between two apartment complexes is this unique little building that I thought might be a firehouse but turned out to be a stable. The ‘Bowdoin Stable’ was built in 1902 for clothing and real estate executive William R. Martin by architect Ralph Samuel Townsend in the ‘Flemish Revival Style’. The stables were sold to George C. Bowdoin in 1907 as his carriage house for his carriages, horses and groomsmen to live (ArtNerd & 6SqFt).
The George Bowdoin Stable house at 149 East 38th Street
When walking back from the views of the East River, you will notice the plaques and dedications at the Bide A Wee House at 410 East 38th Street dedicated to the building’s builder art patron John Gellatly.
The Bide A Wee plaque located outside the old Bide A Wee Building at 410 East 38th Street
This elegant plaque was designed by Laura Cardin Fraser, the first woman to design a coin for the U.S. Treasury (Read a Plaque). Ms. Cardin Fraser was an American born artist who studied at the Art Students League in New York City under her soon to be husband, James Earle Fraser. She is known for her sculptures of historical figures and for designing coins for the U.S. Government (Wiki).
Bide A Wee is a ‘no kill’ animal shelter and refuge for dogs founded by Mr.s Flora D’Auby Jenkins Kibbe after seeing this work at a shelter in Paris (Bide A Wee history).
Mrs. Flora D’Auby Jenkins Kibbe, the founder of Bide A Wee, the ‘No Kill’ Shelter
When walking down East 37th Street you will see the beginnings of the N.Y. Langone Hospital complex where there is a nice public area to sit and relax and watch the neighborhood walk by. This must be very relaxing to the hospital workers. It has some nice chairs and tables to relax
The public square at NY Langone Hospital
If you look to the corner wall of the public square, you will see the art work of artist Daru-Jung Hyang Kim in his mosaic “Sun Feast” that was created in 2013. This beautiful geometric mosaic is such an interesting work. The colors are so vibrant that they pop right out at you.
Sun Feast by artist Daru-Jung Hyang Kim
Artist Daru-Jung Hyang Kim is a Korean born artist who studied at the Seoul National University where she got her BS and then moved to New York City where she got her Masters at Pratt. The works she did for NYU Langone Hospital are some of the large artworks she has created around the world (Artist bio).
I looked up from my walk back from the river to see the unusual top of the building next to me to see a mansard like top to both sides of the building. It almost looked like port holes on the top of the building looking out. This is the Kips Bay Brewery Building that is in two parts. The older section was built in 1904 and the other part of the building was built in 1910.
650 First Avenue-The Kips Bay Brewery Building
When heading back down East 38th Street towards Madison Avenue you reach two unique mansions that are part of the ‘Gilded Age’ architecture of the neighborhood. First is the De Lamar Mansion which is now home to the Consulate of Poland on the corner of Madison Avenue and East 37th Street at 233 Madison Avenue.
This beautiful mansion was designed by architect C. P. H. Gilbert in the ‘Beaux Arts style’ in 1905 for millionaire Joseph R. De Lamar. Mr. De Lamar was a Dutch merchant seaman who made his money in mining and metallurgy. He built this home for his family and by the time it was finished he was divorced and lived here with his daughter until his death eight years later. The mansion was sold to the Consulate in 1973.
The De Lamar mansion at 233 Madison Avenue now the Consulate of Poland
Jan Karski Statue outside the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland/De Lamar Mansion
The statue is of Jan Karski who was a courier who served as part of the Anti-Nazi Resistance in German occupied Poland during WWII. The statue was created by Polish artist Karol Badyna. The statue was dedicated in 2007 (Big Apple Secrets).
Karol Badyna is a Polish born artist who has studied at the Post-Secondary School of Conservation of Works of Art and Sculpture at Monuments Conservation Studio in Krakow, Poland. He currently serves a Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts (Artist bio).
The Isaac Newton Phelps Mansion was home to J.P.Morgan II is at Madison and East 37th Street
The first part of the building was the Italianate brownstone on the corner of Madison Avenue and East 37th Street that was built by Isaac Newton Phelps in 1854 who left it to his daughter upon his death. It was bought by J.P. Morgan for his son, J.P. Morgan II who lived there from 1905-1943. It houses the Morgan Dining Room and the gift shop (Wiki).
I arrived at the Morgan Library & Museum in time for my 2:30pm tour of the museum that I had scheduled. Because of COVID-19, all the museums that have opened up in the City have timed tickets and limited amounts of people are allowed in at one time. As I walked the galleries i realized that there were only about ten of us in the museum. I know this is not the busiest museum in Manhattan but this was really quiet.
The afternoon in the museum was nice and I got through the two main exhibitions in about an hour. I saw the “Drawings of Al Taylor” and the “Jean-Jacques Lequeu: Visionary Architect” exhibitions. Neither really grabbed me. The one thing I did like about the Al Taylor exhibition was his works when he lived in the Hawaiian Islands. They were colorful and vibrant. The rest was interesting but not quite my taste.
Al Taylor’s “Duck Bondage” I thought was clever
Al Taylor was an American artist who liked the playful and whimsical look on art. He liked to experiment freely with materials and techniques (Morgan Exhibition). He graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1970 with a BFA.
After my afternoon at the Morgan Library & Museum, I continued to explore Murray Hill by walking down the rest of East 37th Street until I reached the East River Esplanade again and then just sat and enjoyed the cool breezes and the sunshine.
On the way back from the Esplanade, the one thing you will encounter is the exit from the Queens Midtown Tunnel, which is where all the noise and traffic will be coming from. All over the fence on the way back is a series of medallions from looks like various states. Check out the details on these.
Be careful when crossing the street on this part of the block as it can be dangerous or just stay to one side of the road. These cars will zoom by you. The street is really treacherous so look both ways when you are crossing the road. The Tunnel Approach Road which runs from East 40th to East 34th Streets can be hairy so watch the lights.
The continued walk on Park Avenue brought me to the Union League Club at 38 East 37th Street. The club was founded in 1863 by former members of the Union Club who did not like the Pro-Southern activities of club members and created their own club with the Union League Club. The current clubhouse was designed by member Benjamin Wistar Morris and opened in 1931.
I was exhausted from all the walking the first day and broke this trip up into a second day. Before I left the City for the evening, I stopped at Upside Pizza, a new pizzeria in the Garment District that has been gaining a cult following for their “Detroit Pizzas”, a square pizza with the sauce and cheese baked into the crust. The pizzeria is at 598 Eighth Avenue. What it lacks in charm, it makes up in flavor.
Upside Pizza at 598 Eighth Avenue in the Garment District
The pizza is so good. The pepperoni square slice I had was loaded with cheese and pepperoni and the edges of it were crisp and chewy. The flavors were spicy and intense with lots of different cheeses and the char flavor from the baking. The pizza is not cheap at $5.00 a slice but it is nice to sit in their outdoor cafe and relax and watch the world go by.
The Pepperoni pizza at Upside Pizza is excellent
It is starting to get dark early now and as I watch the last days of summer go by, I am watching the City slowly come back to life with more people coming outside and enjoying the last of the warmer days of the later summer.
My next day back in the lower 30’s in Murray Hill gave me more time to relax and not rush the neighborhood. I started by walking East 37th Street to make sure that I did not miss anything and the traffic coming out of the Queens Midtown Tunnel seems to be getting busier. I had to dodge more cars today than I did the previous day.
Walking down Tunnel Street between East 42nd and East 34th Streets can be daring especially when traffic is coming so be careful. This narrow strip of sidewalk lines both sides of the entrance and exit of the tunnel.
The other side of the Morgan Library & Museum’s J.P. Morgan Library lines the side of East 36th Street and Madison Avenue as you start to stroll down the East 36th Street. The library, which is now part of the Morgan Library & Museum was built as Mr. Morgan’s private library next to his home on Madison Avenue. The library was designed in the “Italian Palazzo style” by architect Charles Follen McKim in 1906 (Morgan Library & Museum history website).
The J.P. Morgan Library which is part of the Morgan Library & Museum
This part of the neighborhood is chock full of history and famous residents living in the neighborhood. At 125 East 36th Street is the former home of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt before their move to their more famous twin home on East 65th Street which is now part of Hunter College. They moved to this brownstone to be closer to his mother’s home in Manhattan a few blocks away.
125 East 36th Street-the former home of FDR and Eleanor
The brownstone complex on this side of East 36th Street was built by architects Kennedy & Haw in 1856 and had had a series of interesting residents until the future President and First lady came to live here from 1905 to 1908 and where their children James and Ana were born (Daytonian).
Hidden like a secret garden behind a locked gate is the Sniffen Court Historic District from 150-160 East 36th Street. Sniffen Court is named after John Sniffen, who built his complex of carriage houses in 1864.
The secret gardens of Sniffen Court is tucked behind an elaborate gate
The district encompasses the entire alley, between Third and Lexington Avenues, of 10 two story brick stables that were built in the ‘Romanesque Revival style’. When they were no longer used for stables they were converted to homes.
Sniffen Court is like a little ‘fantasy land’ behind the gate
Passing this delightful little garden complex is another unusual building with vines snaking down and faces staring at you. The building at 220 East 36th Street was built in 1910 and look up at the details when you pass. Mysterious faces will stare back at you.
220 East 36th Street has some amazing details to it.
When you reach the end of East 36th Street, there is a wonderful little public square next to the American Copper Buildings at 616-626 First Avenue. These unusual buildings are built almost on a tilt and have a playful appeal to them. What is nice is the public space where you can just relax and talk to people. The neighborhood residents use this as an escape from the confinement of their apartments due to COVID and go out to talk to people.
The American Copper Buildings at 616-626 First Avenue
On a beautiful day, there is nothing like this delightful little park on the extension of First Avenue near FDR Drive. People really enjoy relaxing here and it is nice to see the neighborhood out and about.
The plaza at the American Copper Buildings
Another nice place to stop and relax is St. Vartan Park, which is located between East 35th and East 36th Street between First and Second Avenue. The park is extremely popular with the neighborhood families so expect to see the place crowded all the time. The one thing I like about it there are public bathrooms that usually stay open until dusk.
Check out the plaques dedicated to the Murray Hill Post 59 who dedicated the flag post and the lights to the park. The playgrounds are a little worn but the kids and their parents don’t seem to mind.
St. Vartan Park with the namesake Church in the background St. Vartan Armenian Church
There is always so much action going on in the park from pick up basketball games, to jungle gym climbing to who is chasing who around the playground. It is fun even in the days of COVID that people will just throw on a mask and have some fun.
On a beautiful sunny day St. Vartan Park really shines
On the way back from walking the park and enjoying the shine just be careful when walking the south side of East 36th Street as the traffic coming from the Queens Midtown Tunnel funnels out very quickly and some of the drivers really don’t watch.
The site of the famous Henry Lewis Stimson House is at 120 East 36th Street, which is now an apartment building simply known at the Stimson House. Henry Louis Stimson was a influential lawyer and statesman in the United States serving under several presidents.
Henry Lewis Stimson
Here also marks the plaque of Murray Hill Historic District that covers most of the neighborhood. The central part of the neighborhood especially between Park and Third Avenues are lined with brownstones each with their own flair to them.
The commercial district once had two of the great department stores of the era and even today as Lord & Taylor closes it doors for the final time in the next few months after being in business since 1826, the building stands as a testament to the former lower Fifth Avenue corridor. As you enter East 35th Street, you see the grandeur of the former B. Altman department store building built by retail great Benjamin Altman.
The B. Altman building at 361 Fifth Avenue on the corner of Fifth Avenue between East 35th and 34th Streets
This elegant building was designed in the 1906 by architects Trowbridge & Livingston in the “Italian Renaissance style’ to fit into the then fancier residential district it was then located in at the time. The area between 34th and 42nd Street had replaced the ‘Ladies Shopping Mile’ along Sixth Avenue as the retail section of the City marched uptown.
On the next block at Madison Avenue and East 35th Street is the elegant Church of the Incarnation at 209 Madison Avenue. The historic Episcopalian church was built between 1864-65 by architect Emil T. Littel with the church rectory designed by Robert Mook in 1868. The extension of the church was built in 1882 by architect David Jardine (Wiki).
The Church of the Incarnation at 205-209 Madison Avenue
On the corner of Park Avenue, I passed the James Robb House. The now apartment building was once the home of James Hampden Robb and his wife, Cornelia Van Rensselaer Robb. The mansion was built by Stamford White from McKim, Mead & White for the couple in the ‘Italian Renaissance style’ in 1892 (Wiki).
Further down East 35th Street another famous New Yorker lived at 111 East 35th Street. Illustrator Charles Dan Gibson lived in this house. The famous American artist was best known for his illustrations of the ‘Gibson Girl’ inspired by his wife and daughters. He studied at the Art Student League in New York City (Wiki).
111 East 35th Street the former home of Illustrator Charles Dana Gibson
Tucked to the side of the residential neighborhood is another amazing little church. The New York New Church at 114 East 35th Street is a quiet, tranquil little church with another interesting garden that lies another iron fence. The church was built in 1858 and was finished in 1859 and was designed in the ‘neo-Renaissance style’.
Further down the street is the Stein College for Woman which is part of the larger Yeshiva University which houses the University’s Arts & Sciences Department. This beautiful building was built in 1911 as the Packard Commercial School. It was taken over by Yeshiva University in 1954. The building was donated to the University by industrialist Max Stern (Wiki).
The Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University at 245 Lexington Avenue
Tucked to the side at 142 East 35th Street is another unique brownstone that was built in 1901. This triplex has the most interesting details in the grill work and almost looks like something seen in New Orleans.
142 East 35th Street has almost a New Orleans feel to it when you walk by
I ended my walk back at the East River Esplanade reading up on the British attack of Manhattan during the Revolutionary War with the landing at Kips Bay (then called Keps Bay) which stretched from East 35th to East 34th Streets. The views of Long Island City were just spectacular at twilight. It amazes me how much change still keeps going on in the East River area.
I stopped by to admire the St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral at 630 Second Avenue which the park was named after. This interesting church sits on the border of the Murray Hill and is the first Cathedral Armenian Apostolic Church to be constructed in North America (Wiki).
St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral at 630 Second Avenue
What I thought was interesting that I had not noticed before was a painting that sits on the side of Profit Chinese Restaurant is a painting of Salvador Dali that was somewhat exaggerated. The painting was painted by Brazilian artist Sipros.
The Salvador Dali painting by @Sipros by the Bushwick Collection (painted over in 2022)
Heading back to Fifth Avenue I came across another interesting brownstone with the most unusual brownstone with the most interesting stonework, The Frances Key Pendleton House which was built in 1853 by Henry H. Butterworth who had architects Washington and Samuel Cronk build four brownstones on what had been Henry Murray’s old estate. The house was bought by Frances Key Pendleton, the grandson of Francis Scott Key the author of “The Star Spangled Banner”. Thought he loved the home, the house had seen much sadness when he lived there (Daytonian).
The home got its current appearance in the 1930’s when the home was sold to a realty company and they gave it a more Mediterranean look to it with the stucco and statuary.
The last interesting piece of history the walk in the neighborhood which wrapped up the walk of Murray Hill was the plaque for the site of Inclenberg at the corner of Park Avenue and East 35th Street which was the site of the Henry Murray Mansion.
The plaque of the location of “Inclenberg” the Murray family mansion
“Inclenberg” the Murray family mansion where history was made
I thought it was a fitting way to wrap up my walk in Murray Hill then to pay homage to the family who the neighborhood was named. If they could take a time machine and see what their farm and estate has turned into or even experiencing the effects of COVID would have the family wondering.
Keeping with the spirit of celebrating the past, I went to Sarges Delicatessen and Diner that night for dinner. The deli was founded by former NYPD officer Abe Katz in 1964 who wanted to bring the best of Jewish cooking to the public (Sarges History).
They had set up a small cafe outside the restaurant for patrons to dine and I had a half of a pastrami sandwich and a bowl of Matzo Ball Soup ($18.95) and it was the best dinner after a long walk. The soup hit the spot on a cool evening with the rich chicken broth and the sandwich was piled high with salty meat and hot mustard.
The pastrami sandwich at Sarges is excellent
For dessert, I went to Holey Ice Cream & Doughnut at 522 Third Avenue for dessert. I had to walk around the block a few times to convince myself that I wanted it. I just said I am still hungry and will walk it off and went in.
I had a doughnut filled with Cookie Dough, Maine Blueberry and Birthday Cake ice cream with a glazed doughnut with fruit loops on top. I loved the intense sweetness of the dessert. The sugar high put a smile on my face and the energy to continue walking.
The Ice Cream is excellent but they could work on the doughnuts
I finished my walk this evening by relaxing back in Bryant Park and just walking people converse and have a nice time talking and laughing (socially distanced of course). It was nice to see things calm down and be a little normal for a change.
I came back to Murray Hill a few days later just to confirm some addresses and brownstones that I liked and walked to the neighborhood starved. I first stopped off at Pizza & Pita Halah Food at 344 East 34th Street for some Garlic Knots and sauce on the side ($2.00) and after I confirmed everything I wanted to see, I had dinner at Profit Chinese Restaurant at 643 Second Avenue for dinner. The Beef with String Beans in Garlic Sauce was really good ($11.00) but the eggrolls here are just okay. The best part was I took my dinner back to St. Vartan Park and ate dinner.
I have recently been reading articles about New York City and how ‘dead’ it has become and how ‘it will never come back this time’. It’s funny when people who did not come into New York in the 1970’s and early 80’s or were even born remember what we went through when visiting Manhattan. Some residents who came into the City in the last ten years see a much different place than what I remembered in all my years working on Macy’s on 34th Street. It was ‘no miracle in 1990’s when I started in the Buying offices and Seventh Avenue after 6:00pm was no better when left the store for home.
That famous cover from so many years ago
Still by doing this walking project I don’t see a ‘dead city”. I see a City going through another transition and adaption. New York City is unique in the way it changes over time. When I walked the streets of Manhattan at Christmas just nine months ago, I saw a City again in the process of changing. I had never seen so many homeless out on the streets and saw the streets and avenues get dirty again. This started the last two years under Mayor Bloomberg and continued under the current mayor. I was not too sure what was happening or why it was changing considering all the building going on and renovations in parks, squares and pathways around the City.
Still as I started to walk the Avenues of Murray Hill, I did not see a ‘dead city’. I saw vibrancy and energy on each block. I saw adaption in restaurants with outdoor dining and delivery. I saw stores open to limited people but still open and display their wares with zest. I saw hopelessness next to enthusiasm but the one thing I didn’t see was everyone giving up.
From the delivery guys from Grub Hub piling up orders to the men and women meeting their friends socially distanced at outdoor cafes all over the neighborhood to the little girl who was shooting hoops (and hitting every basket) in St. Varta Park that afternoon. There is still resilience and things to do and get done in Murray Hill and all over New York City.
I really had a nice time walking around Murray Hill the other day and started today with a plan to walk all the Avenues of the neighborhood. Again I was amazed how quiet the City was this afternoon but more people are starting to sit in Bryant Park and the lines for the bathrooms there (the public bathrooms there are still the best in NYC) are getting longer.
The Bryant Park bathrooms; they should all be like this
I am starting to see tourists slowly coming back as I am seeing more selfies in Midtown. Not like Christmas (not at all) but still slowly coming back in. There are still a lot of people (masks included) walking around the City taking pictures, searching for an open restaurant and sunning themselves in the park.
I started the walk today walking down Eighth Avenue to see if some of the restaurants on my ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com site was still open. Restaurants have been closing like crazy, but the small places still have staying power.
I stopped for an early morning snack at Fu Xing at 273 West 38th Street for some roast pork buns ($1.20) which they make homemade and when they come fresh out of the oven are amazing. They are soft and sweet on the outside and filled with freshly chopped roast pork. I ordered two and munched on them on the walk around Bryant Park. I was just happy that all the places in the Garment District are still open.
The assorted buns at Fu Xing are available in the mornings and late afternoons
I took these wonderful little treats on my walk around the Garment District and back up to West 42nd Street and then cut across town back to the borders of Murray Hill. I started my walk again at the front of New York Public Library admiring the architecture of Fifth Avenue and passing it on my way to Madison Avenue.
When I was walking Fifth Avenue, even after all these years, it feels like I am seeing it for the first time. With not many people walking on the sidewalks, you have more time to look up and admire what is right in front of you. I never realized how from 34th to 42nd Streets was such a prominent shopping district before the move further up Fifth Avenue. The buildings reflect how retailers took themselves more seriously about setting up shop and how the exteriors should match the importance of the interiors. They were merchants that were there to stay (now mostly gone with the closing of Lord & Taylor).
The former Lord & Taylor Department Store headquarters on Fifth Avenue
Madison Avenue is still an important advertising and communications business neighborhood with many current office building renovations to workers who may or may not come back after the pandemic. It was really creepy to not see more than ten people walking down the Avenue.
I could not believe how many restaurants had closed and stores that have not reopened. The problem is that with all the office workers gone, the foot traffic during lunch went with it. So many restaurants that were packed just a few months packed up and closed. Still there are many bright spots that make Madison Avenue so unique.
The Library Hotel at 299 Madison Avenue at 41st Street is a beautiful spot on the Avenue with music drifting from the main lobby and outdoor tables from the cafe spilling on to the sidewalk with a few people dining in the early afternoon.
Their outdoor restaurant, Madison & Vine is a beautiful little cafe with an interesting menu and the few people dining there looked like they were having a nice time. I will have to try it in the future (I had lunch here later on when walking the neighborhood in 2020-See review on TripAdvisor).
The hotel is housed in a former office building designed in the ‘sliver design’ facing East 41st Street across the street from the New York Public Library. The hotel is designed in the ‘Neo-Gothic style’ in 1912. Many of these historic office buildings have been turned into hotels while historic hotels like The Plaza and The Waldorf-Astoria are being turned into condos.
Madison Avenue in the East 40’s is mostly office buildings but here and there are architectural gems tucked here and there left over from the Gilded Age. At 205-209 Madison Avenue is the Church of the Incarnation, an Episcopal church that was built in 1896. The original church had been built in 1865 but was destroyed by fire in 1882.
The Church of the Incarnation
The original design for the church was designed by architect Emlen T. Littel and after the fire all that survived were the walls and the tower. The redesign of the church was built by architect David Jardine and added many of the features seen today. Many prominent ‘old families’ of New York were parishioners here like the Sedgwick’s, Delano’s and Roosevelt’s. Take time to look at the church’s details and stained-glass windows (Wiki).
The church is now an historic landmark
Further down Madison Avenue are reminders of the ‘Gilded Age’ in the form of the Morgan and De Lamar mansions built at a time when money was no object and there were no income taxes. These palaces of gracious living were a reminder of people who wanted to show their place in the world and Society welcome them with open arms (if Mrs. Astor allowed it).
The De Lamar Mansion, which is now the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland of New York since 1973. was built by C. P.H. Gilbert in the ‘Beaux-Arts style’ for millionaire Joseph Raphael De Lamar, a Dutch born sea merchant who made his fortune in mining and metallurgy. The home was completed in 1905. By the time the mansion was finished, he and his wife divorced, and he lived in the house for another eight years until his death in 1918. The mansion was sold by his daughter shortly after on her move to Park Avenue (Wiki).
The De Lamar Mansion (now the Polish Consulate) at Madison Avenue & East 37th Street
Jan Karski Statue outside the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland/De Lamar Mansion
The statue is of Jan Karski who was a courier who served as part of the Anti-Nazi Resistance in German occupied Poland during WWII. The statue was created by Polish artist Karol Badyna. The statue was dedicated in 2007 (Big Apple Secrets).
Karol Badyna is a Polish born artist who has studied at the Post-Secondary School of Conservation of Works of Art and Sculpture at Monuments Conservation Studio in Krakow, Poland. He currently serves a Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts (Artist bio).
The Morgan Library & Library is at 225 Madison Avenue is a wonderful little museum that holds the art and library collection of J.P. Morgan, the famous banker. The museum is made up of three buildings, the original library that JPMorgan built before he died, the annex building where the bulk of the museum collection is located and the brownstone mansion where the Morgan Dining Room and gift shop are located.
The first part of the building was the Italianate brownstone on the corner of Madison Avenue and East 37th Street that was built by Isaac Newton Phelps in 1854 who left it to his daughter upon his death. It was bought by J.P. Morgan for his son, J.P. Morgan II who lived there from 1905-1943. It houses the Morgan Dining Room and the gift shop (Wiki).
The Morgan Library & Museum-The Phelps Mansion and the Annex
The Morgan Library’s Annex building in the middle of the Museum was built on top of the original family mansion and was built by Benjamin Wistar Morris. This is where the exhibition hall and theater is located (Morgan Library Museum).
The last part of the building is the Morgan Library that houses the manuscript collection and artworks. The building was designed in the ‘Classic Revival Style’ by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White. The building was finished in 1907 (Wiki).
The former J. P. Morgan mansion is now the Morgan Library Museum.
The Morgan Library Museum Annex and Library buildings
The inside of the Morgan Library Museum Annex
On the corner of Madison Avenue and East 34th is the old B. Altman Department store, the final location for the iconic department store that closed in 1989. The store was the brainchild of merchant Benjamin Altman. The store was designed by Trowbridge & Livingston in 1906-1913 expanding from Fifth to Madison Avenues. The store was designed in the ‘Italian Renaissance style’ (Wiki).
The former B. Altman & Company at the Fifth Avenue entrance
The store was known for its exclusive designs, Couture clothing, its elegant wooden interiors, Christmas window displays and the famous Charleston Gardens Restaurant.
The Charleston Gardens Restaurant at B. Altman & Company
Walking back up Madison Avenue, I notice another sculpture that popped out at me. The sculpture of “Eight” by artist Robert Indiana located in front of 261 Madison Avenue.
Eight by Robert Indiana
Artist Robert Indiana was an American born artist who was involved with the ‘Pop Art’ Movement. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and Edinburgh College of Art (Wiki). He looked at art with images of small-town America with the visual image of High Art. The result was what he called a “verbal visual forms’ (MIA).
I rounded the corner from Madison Avenue to the open blocks of lower Park Avenue seeing Grand Central guarding over the Avenue. This beautiful ‘Beaux Arts Style’ building seems to define the elegance that is Park Avenue.
Grand Central Station defines Park Avenue with its elegance
Just walking down Park Avenue you can see the difference in the way the Avenue portray’s itself with its elegant office buildings, Gilded Age mansions tucked here and there, private clubs and interesting pieces of street art creating an ‘open air’ museum to walk through.
Just outside of 90 Park Avenue is the interesting artwork “The Couple” by artist Arthur Carter. Mr. Carter’s extraordinary life took him from the military to Wall Street to publishing to farming to art. A Brown and Dartmouth graduate from a financial background is pretty much self-taught. His works are very impressive and this work does stand out.
the corner of Park Avenue and East 37th Street on the side of a building is the plaque for the home of the Murray family mansion (which the neighborhood is named after) ‘Inclenberg’, that once stood on the site.
The plaque to the Murray home “Inclenberg”
The Murray family were merchants and prominent business people at the time of the Revolutionary War. Robert Murray’s wife, Mary Lindley Murray, had delayed General Howe’s troops by several hours letting the Patriots escape by serving wine, tea and cake to the British soldiers and entertaining them with music and conversation (Wiki and Untapped Cities).
Mary Lindley Murray entertaining the British at her home
The Murray Mansion ‘Inclenberg’ now the site of Park Avenue and East 37th Street
The continued walk on Park Avenue brought me to the Union League Club at 38 East 37th Street. The club was founded in 1863 by former members of the Union Club who did not like the Pro-Southern activities of club members and created their own club with the Union League Club. The current clubhouse was designed by member Benjamin Wistar Morris and opened in 1931.
The elegance of the Union League Club at 38 East 37th Street
At 23 Park Avenue, another elegant mansion graces the beauty of Park Avenue and a reminder of its Gilded Age past. The home was designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White with architect Stanford White leading the design. The home was built in 1890 for retired Senator James Hampden Robb and his wife Cornelia Van Rensselaer Robb. The mansion is now a co-op (Street Easy & Wiki).
Another Gilded Age mansion is now the Guatemala UN Mission at 57 Park Avenue was once the Adelaide T. Townsend Douglas mansion. She had been the wife of William Proctor Douglas, a Capitalist and rumored to be the mistress of JPMorgan, the banker. Never divorcing her husband, she continued on as a New York Socialite (Untapped Cities).
The mansion was designed by architect Horace Trumbauer in the ‘French Classical style’ and it was completed in 1911. In 1978, the house was sold after several owners to the Guatemala UN Mission as their headquarters to the United Nations (Daytonian).
57 Park Avenue-Guatemala UN Mission & the former Townsend Mansion
One of the little treasures I found on Park Avenue though was the alleyway of the Church of our Savior at 59 Park Avenue. This beautiful church has hidden off to the side of the building a tiny alleyway with a garden with statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. It is such a nice tranquil place to relax and think that I did not want to leave. It was a relaxing reprieve from the hustle of the City.
The Church of Our Savior at 59 Park Avenue-Check out the garden alleyway
I was in a mood most of the morning because of some past events of the week and as I passed a small cafe on the corner of Park Avenue and 40th Street I heard a familiar song from the 1980’s that reminded me of college and immediately put me back in a good mood. It is amazing the power of the memories of songs.
‘Once in a Lifetime’ by Talking Heads
I was humming all the way to Lexington Avenue. The rest of the day just seemed so much better. The song brought me back to my wonderful college years.
Lexington Avenue was quiet for most of my walk down to East 34th Street. Lexington Avenue between it and Park Avenue has some of the most beautiful brownstones on the side streets. It looks like a classic New York neighborhood. That runs between about East 40th to East 36th Streets and then gets more commercial as you get closer to 34th Street.
Murray Hill Brownstones
What I was surprised by is the number of restaurants that closed their doors on Lexington Avenue. I never saw so many for rent signs on buildings before. Some well-known neighborhood places like House of Lasagna were shut at the time of my visit.
House of Lasagna at 334 Lexington Avenue
On a recent visit to the neighborhood in 2021, I went to dinner at the House of Lasagna after it reopened for business. I thought the restaurant was really nice and the service was excellent, but the lasagna was okay. I had the Lasagna Bolognese, and it was just okay. I am not too sure it warrants another trip, but I am willing to try it in the future.
One restaurant going strong with outdoor dining with a creative menu is Hunan Manor (now Hunan Village) at 339 Lexington Avenue. I saw some of the patrons eating outside and their Soup Dumplings and Chicken dishes that I saw people eating for lunch looked really good. Another restaurant for the bucket list. I finally ate in the restaurant in May of 2021 when it reopened under a new name and new owners.
The lunch specials here are very reasonable and the food was very good that afternoon. I had a General Tso’s Chicken lunch special with Vegetable Fried Rice and Hot & Sour Soup. I thought the meal was delicious, but they put all of their food on cold plates, so the food got cold fast. The place was empty as this section of the City is still opening up in May of 2021.
Hunan Manor Restaurant at 339 Lexington Avenue (now Hunan Village)
Walking down Lexington Avenue was very different from Fifth, Madison and Park Avenues with their unusual architecture, interesting parks and street art. It was more of a combination of low-rise buildings and commercial spots. There was one standout though and that was the Sailors Club at 283 Lexington Avenue.
283 Lexington Avenue-The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club
The Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club is the only private club of its kind to provide accommodations at a subsidized rate for service men and women and retirees, veterans and their families visiting New York (Club website). The club was founded in 1919 by Cornelia Barnes Rogers and Eleanor Butler Alexander Roosevelt with General John J. Pershing. The club is housed in two 1880 twin brownstones that once served the area as upper middle-class housing (Club website and Wiki). Towards 34th Street you will enter the midtown campus of Yeshiva University.
Walking back up Lexington Avenue, you can see how both Lexington and Third Avenue are quickly changing. Gone are all the low rise and smaller buildings and their businesses giving way to large office high rises and commercial spots. The small rise buildings are being razed for larger buildings.
Here and there on Third Avenue are pockets of the old neighborhood below East 38th Street but the neighborhood is changing to a more modern commercial area. There are more smaller businesses as you get closer to 34th Street. One older restaurant, Sarges Delicatessen & Diner at 548 Lexington Avenue has been around since 1964. It offers traditional deli items such as Matzo-ball Soup and over-sized sandwiches. The restaurant was the idea of retired NYPD Sargent Abe Katz, who loved Jewish style cooking and wanted to open a deli when he retired. The family has been carrying his tradition for all these years offering many dishes made from scratch in-house (Meat & Poultry-Fox 2019).
Sarges Delicatessen & Diner at 548 Lexington Avenue
All around Sarges though the neighborhood continues to morph into a commercial neighborhood where skyscraper office buildings are becoming the norm. Here and there tough are little touches of artistic creativity.
The sculpture “Windward” is sitting just outside an office building at 655 Lexington Avenue by artist Jan Peter Stern.
“Windward” at 655 Third Avenue
Jan Peter Stern was a German born American artist who specialized in contemporary, politically influenced artist of the Post-War era. He graduated from Syracuse with a degree in Industrial Design and married to artist Irene Stern.
The changes of Lexington and Third Avenues in the East 40’s is also changing the complexity of Second Avenue as well. In the upper parts of the neighborhood, the small buildings and brownstones that set the character as one of the last bastions of ‘old New York’ are giving way to office buildings and apartment high-rises. Second Avenue to me from 100th to 34th Streets still represent ‘old New York’ to me with the smaller buildings with character and the ‘mom and pop’ stores that still line the Avenue.
In the East 30’s there are still the quintessential small brownstone and low-rise buildings with many ‘for rent signs’. A lot of the smaller ‘mom and pop’ have closed with the ravages of COVID-19 or just have not reopened. Some of the smaller restaurants have opened outdoor cafes and with the NYU Langone Hospital around the corner, there is a small lunch business when I visited but most workers take their lunches to the open garden courts and then get back to work. Still there is a lot of character to this part of the neighborhood.
One of the standouts in the lower part of the Murray Hill between Second and First Avenues is St. Vartan’s Park. This small oasis of green is very popular with families in this part of the neighborhood.
St. Vartan Park is between Second and First Avenues at East 35th Street
The park is named after the Armenian Orthodox Church nearby, St. Vartan Cathedral which is a nod to the neighborhood’s Armenian heritage (NYCParks). The park has a wonderful basketball court, playground and lawn space to run around on. The bathrooms were shut which was not helpful but still a nice place to just relax under a tree.
St. Vartan Armenian Church at 630 Second Avenue
It was just nice to sit and relax both when I was walking Second and First Avenues. The shade trees blocked the sun and there were nice benches to sit down on and watch everyone playing basketball and paddle ball.
What really caught my attention was at the other end of the basketball court was this little girl who could not have been older than four throwing the basketball into the adult hoop. What was amazing was that she made it every time! I could not believe it. She would just throw it and it went right into the basket with no problems. I was mystified by it all how she did it.
After some rest in the park, it was time to finish the walk with a stroll down First Avenue which I made on my border walk of the neighborhood a few days earlier. The upper parts of First Avenue like everything between Lexington and Second Avenue is going through a big transition and must have been before the COVID-19 pandemic with the upper sections of the neighborhood. The low-rise buildings are giving way to new office and apartment buildings that offer views of the river and the changing Brooklyn and Queens skylines.
Just like the rest of the City during the Pandemic, the Murray Hill is quietly changing and morphing into a new neighborhood. It will be interesting to see what will develop here in the future. Like a flower in the Spring, it will show its ‘true beauty’ in the future.
The Murray Hill skyline at night
Please read my other blogs on walking the Murray Hill neighborhood:
My walk of the Borders of Murray Hill on August 13th, 2020:
Fee: Adults $22.00/Seniors (over 65) $14.00/Current Students with ID $13.00/Free to Members and Children under 12 accompanied by a parent. Free on Friday Nights from 7:00pm-9:00pm. Discount for people with disabilities $13.00-Caregiver Free. review
I can’t believe that with all this craziness with COVID-19 I was finally able to get back to walking the neighborhoods of Manhattan. I had not done this since I finished Central Park South before the holidays.
The whole City has morphed since March 13th. It is like a different world. Just like I saw on my recent Broadway walk through neighborhoods that I had seen in the past everything has changed so much. Restaurants and stores that had been part of the City fabric for years have disappeared. Interesting little hole in the wall restaurants that I had enjoyed so much in Turtle Bay and in Midtown are either shut or out of business. I have had to start revisiting neighborhoods just to see if things are still open.
The surprising part of today’s walk is how quiet the City was not just in Murray Hill but all over the place. I did not get into the City until noon and even Times Square at lunch hour was quiet. Port Authority looked like it had less than 50 people in it and it is surreal how quiet most of the restaurants that are open are to customers. This is what happens when there are not tourists. It was like looking at Manhattan through a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode.
Since Murray Hill’s northern border is East 42nd Street, it was an easy walk across town. I had not walked around the neighborhood in about seven months, so I revisited a few places on the border of the neighborhood in Turtle Bay and Midtown East. It was shocking how many places shut their doors for good. It is surreal in that seven months ago these places were going strong. It is almost like Christmas 2019 did not exist where you could not walk on the sidewalks in Midtown.
I started my morning with a walk-through Bryant Park which is right behind the New York Public Library and one of most beautiful small parks in Manhattan. It was one of those really nice Summer mornings and the park was surprisingly busy. The tables and chairs are ‘socially distanced’ and park patrons did their best to stay away from each other. It also has the nicest and cleanest public bathrooms in Manhattan.
Years ago, when I worked in Manhattan in the early 90’s, Bryant Park was only used for drug dealing and criminal activity and was best avoided. What twenty years and a major renovation can do to a park. Today you can walk along the flowering paths and think you are in Paris. In the past there have been concerts and movies in the park but because of COVID-19, you can just sit in the park on a chair or bench and enjoy the sunshine and admire the flowers.
Just walking along the paths of Bryant Park can make you forget your troubles
I started my walk of the Murray Hill neighborhood at the New York Public Library admiring the stone carvings and statuary that is part of the entrance of the famous library. The library had just had a recent refreshing and looked magnificent with the fountains flowing and patrons filling the tables outside the building.
The New York Public Library
The New York Public Guards the borders of Murray Hill from Fifth Avenue during COVID
This famous iconic building was designed by the firm of Carrere and Hastings in the Beaux-Arts style and opened its doors May 23, 1911. The founding for this important library came from patronage of the wealth members of society who believed in the value education and opened it to the people.
The famous lion statues that grace the entrance of the library were designed by American sculptor Edward Clark Potter and they were carved by the Piccirilli Brothers, American stone carvers whose business was based in the Bronx.
Edward Clark Potter is an American born artist who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and at the Academie Julian in Paris where he studied ‘animalier’, animal sculpture.
The Piccirilli Brothers were a family of stone carvers and artists in their own right who were from Massa, Italy and owned a business in the Bronx. There were responsible for many famous statues all over the City including the Maine Memorial in Columbus Circle and the Firemen’s Memorial in Riverside Park.
Artist Attilio Piccirillo, one of the most famous from the family
Another feature of the famous building and I had never noticed before was the elegant fountains that flank the entrance to the library. I did not realize that these fountains had just been restored in 2015 after thirty years of not functioning. They were restored with a grant from the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust (NYPL Site).
The fountain “Beauty”
The fountain “Truth”
These beautiful fountains were designed by artist Frederick MacMonnies, an American born artist who studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
After having a snack at the tables in front of the library and throwing a few coins in the fountains for good luck, off I went to explore the borders of Murray Hill.
Enjoy the opening scene of “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library:
Enjoy this scene from “Ghostbusters” from 1984 shot at the NY Public Library
Murray Hill is an interesting neighborhood with a fascinating past. The name “Murray Hill” comes from the Colonial Murray family, who were Quaker merchants and overseas traders. The family was presided by its patriarch, Robert Murray and his wife, Mary Lindley Murray, who raised a family in their home, Inclenberg, which is now the corner of Park Avenue and East 37th Street.
The Murray family mansion, Inclenberg, now the corner of Park Avenue and East 37th Street
Mrs. Murray was credited with delaying General William Howe and his army during General Washington’s retreat from New York following the British landing at Kip’s Bay on September 15,1776. According to the family lore, Mrs. Murray invited the officers to tea, treating them to cakes and wine with singing and poetry readings by her daughters, allowing a successful retreat by the Americans to the other side of the island to meet up with another branch of troops (Wiki and American History).
Mrs. Murray entertaining the British troops and hastening the American retreat
The plaque were the spot the house stood sits prominently on the corner of Park Avenue and East 37th Street.
The plaque dedicated to Mary Lindley Murray’s patriotism
I started my trip in exploring the neighborhood walking down East 42nd Street, the northern most border of Murray Hill with the Midtown East and Turtle Bay neighborhoods. East 42nd Street is host to many famous architectural gems of Manhattan starting as you cross Fifth Avenue.
The newly opened One Vanderbilt Avenue was still under construction when I walked this neighborhood but was open for business when I revisited the neighborhood. The lobby of one Vanderbilt Avenue has the most beautiful sculptures by English artist Tony Cragg.
The Tony Cragg Sculptures in the lobby of One Vanderbilt Avenue
Artist Tony Cragg is a British born artist who has studied at the Wimbledon School of Art and the Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology. He studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art where he graduated with an MA. These sculptures are a signature of the artist.
One Vanderbilt Avenue is a ninety-three story office building and was designed by architect James Von Klemperer. It opened in 2020 and now offers Summit One Vanderbilt, a observation deck (which I did not know even existed until a tourist asked me about it).
Across from One Vanderbilt Avenue is Grand Central Terminal, the crown jewel of Murray Hill to the north of the neighborhood.
There are still many tourists around the building taking pictures but not like in pre-COVID-19 years where the place is crowds of people milling around. The look of the building is impressive inside and out. The building was designed by the team of Reed and Stem for the overall design and Warren and Wetmore for interior and exterior designs. The detailed sculptures on the exterior were created by the team of Jules Felix Coutan, Sylvain Salieres and Paul Cesar Helleu including the crown gem of sculpture “Glory of Commerce”.
The “Glory of Commerce” sits proud above Park Avenue
Artist Jules-Felix Coutan was born in France and had studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. “The Glory of Commerce” was one of his most famous works.
I was not surprised that most of the buildings were now closed to touring. The Chrysler Building looked closed to walk ins, the Ford Building with its indoor gardens and small gallery was closed and walking around Grand Central Station was like an episode of the “Twilight Zone”. There were maybe hundred people milling around with some tourists taking pictures of the ceiling. The downstairs food court which was always nuts at lunch had about three restaurants open and a very bored police officer looking at either a book or a cell phone.
The Grand Central Terminal Food Court is almost closed
The food court on the lower level usually bustling with people have lunch or snacks from the surrounding office buildings is down to about four or five open vendors and even they are not that busy. The only busy place in the food court was the public bathrooms as the few tourists in the City could not find a place to go. When I walked out of the food court to go back to 42nd Street, some guy looked at the famous Oyster Bar restaurant and said to me “I can’t believe this place is closed. It never closes.” The sign on the door of the restaurant said it was closing on March 16th by City order. It is amazing how time still stands still for parts of the City since the reopening. It’s the same in the subway system. There are still posters for things that say “March…”.
The terminal is barely filled these days
Exiting the building’s main entrance, look up closely before you leave and you will see the sculpture of the railroad’s founder, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. I have missed this many times, so you have to look on a angle for it. The statue used to sit at the Hudson River Freight Depot which has since been demolished (Wiki and Ernst Plassman bio).
The statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt the founder of the shipping and railroad empire
The statue was designed by artist Ernst Plassman a German born American artist who moved to New York in 1853. The artist studied under many famous artists in Europe before founding the “Plassman’s School of Art” in New York City in 1854.
After leaving the surreal Grand Central Terminal with the empty main floor and quiet halls (I can’t wait to see what it looks like again when a vaccine is found), I walked out the main entrance towards East 42nd Street. Pershing Square across the street was busy with what office workers who work in the area and tourists filling the tables of the cafe that was open for business. People really like sitting outside and moving the concept of restaurants to outside dining has made it extremely popular in the nice weather for what restaurants can open under this concept. On a nice day, people don’t mind socially distancing in Murray Hill.
Across the street from Grand Central Station where the now closed Cipriani is the former headquarters of the Bowery Savings Bank. Don’t miss the beautiful details of the bank’s design. This became the new headquarters in 1920 in the move uptown from their former Stanford White designed headquarters in Chinatown. It was designed by York and Sawyer in the ‘Italian Romanesque Style’ with William Lewis Ayres as a partner in the project (Wiki).
The former Bowery Savings Bank Building at 110 East 42nd Street
Another very interesting building with amazing details is the Chanin Building at 122 East 42nd Street. The building was named after it’s developer Irwin S. Chanin. You have to look close and then across the street again to see its details. The building was developed between 1927-29 and was designed by Sloan & Robertson in the “Art Deco Style” with a brick and terra cotta frontage.
I then passed the now closed to tourists Chrysler Building with it Art Deco design and interesting sculptures jutting out. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the building does not encourage people to enter who don’t work there. Still, you can read about my earlier visits there last year when walking the Turtle Bay neighborhood.
The Chrysler Building was built in the ‘Art Deco’ style by architect William Van Alen for Walter Chrysler, the owner of the company. The building held the title of the “World’s Tallest Building” for 11 months until the completion of the Empire State Building. The building along with 40 Wall Street and the Empire State Building competed for the “Race to the Sky” in 1929 right before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. You really have to look up to see the details to the building and walk its lobby (closed to the public during the pandemic).
You have to look up high to see this
When the building is open don’t miss the ceiling in the lobby. It is really detailed, and the security guards are really cool about letting you take pictures. In Post-COVID they do not want you to enter the building unless you work there. The work shows the ambitions and accomplishments of the business world (The Ornamentalist). The beauty of the art commerce is “Transport and Human Endeavor” by artist Edward Turnbull (I could not find anything on the artist online).
“Transport and Human Endeavor” by artist Edward Turnbull
As you walk down East 42nd Street towards the East River, you will pass The Daily News Building at 220 East 42nd Street. This interesting building was designed by architects Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells in the ‘Art Deco Style’ and built between 1928-1930 to house the Headquarters of the New York Daily News.
Their lobby was open when I was touring the Turtle Bay neighborhood (its now closed to the public) should not be missed with its interesting paintings on the walls and grillwork by the elevators all designed in the ‘Art Deco Style’.
Going into their lobby (now closed post-COVID) is really interesting to see the globe
The Ford Foundation Building is another interesting piece of architecture. The building was created by architects Kevin Roche and John Dinkleloo in the ‘Late Modernist Style” and was completed in 1968.
The Ford Foundation Building at 320 East 43rd Street
At the very end of East 42nd Street is Tudor City, one of the earliest examples of a planned middle-class communities. Built on what was once a combination of manufacturing and residential area surrounding First Avenue and the East River, architect H. Douglas Ives created Tudor City, named after the ‘Tudor Style’ design of the buildings with gardens, paths, bay windows and arches that make up the details of the buildings. It opened in 1926.
It’s worth the trip up the stairs to the gardens and paths on both parts of the complex. Not part of the original plan of the complex, they were designed by landscape architect Sheffield A. Arnold designing the North Park (Wiki). These cool refuges from the hot sun are nice on a walk around the complex.
The Tudor City Green spaces are nice on a hot day to relax
I also wanted to check out one of my favorite stores in Manhattan, Azalea & Oak, located at 5 Tudor Place but it was closed because of the COVID pandemic but open by appointment only or by internet. Don’t miss this unique children’s and accessory store. It has such interesting merchandise.
When I finally passed all this creative architecture in the ‘open air museum’ of East 42nd Street I got to First Avenue where the United Nations complex is located to the left and Robert Moses Park to the right.
Before you cross the street, there is a Ralph Bunche Park & Garden, a small garden on the edge of the park named after the Nobel Prize winner, who played a role in many peacekeeping operations sponsored by the United Nations.
The gardens have gotten a little overgrown since my last visit but still very colorful with flowers and plantings still crowding out all the weeds that are beginning to take over. Tucked in the park is a plaque to Bayard Rustin, a American leader of social movements and who helped organize the ‘Freedom rides’ of the 1960’s (Wiki).
As I crossed the street, I walked around the very sterile Robert Moses Park. For one of our great park system builders and who changed the highway system around New York City, they named one of the most unattractive parks after him. Though the man was far from perfect after reading the book “Power Broker” about his life, he changed the whole way New Yorkers lived. The park somewhat personifies him in the end of being sterile and aloof with the public.
The Robert Moses Playground is somewhat sterile and aloof
As I toured the parks the worst part is that the bathrooms here are closed to the public, so I had to keep walking to find somewhere to go. The border of the East River with FDR Drive I would not suggest walking down. You will walk down a combination of First Avenue and FDR Drive until you get to the East River Esplanade at East 36th Street, then you get the cool breezes of the river and the beautiful views of the Brooklyn coast. It’s nice on a hot day to sit back and enjoy the sunshine and cools breezes.
The East River Esplanade snakes from East 41st Street to East 34th Street
When I walked to East 34th Street, I came across another plaque that more to do with the history of Murray Hill, the Kips Bay (Keps Bay) landing of the British army to Manhattan. On September 15th, 1776, the British landed their army here in an ambitious military landing in what the type was a deep-water cover surrounded by a meadow. This led to the retreat of the American militia to another part of the island (Wiki). Today it is one of the boat landings for the New York ferry system and a start off point to walk the esplanade.
The Kip’s Bay landing by the British on September 15th, 1776
I walked all along the esplanade, enjoying the views and watching people walk their dogs and jogging like nothing was happening around them. It also offers the most breathtaking views of the Brooklyn skyline that keeps changing.
I give New Yorkers credit for their resilience. There are some people who go about life like nothing is going on around them but just doing it with a mask on. That does give me faith that things are getting somewhat back to normal.
When exiting the Esplanade and walking up the FDR extension, there is an interesting and very relaxing public square at 626 East 36th Street and FDR Drive next to the American Copper Buildings. It is a nice place to relax on the benches and just people come and go.
The little plaza by 626 First Avenue is a nice place to just sit and relax
I finally got to East 34th Street by the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital later that afternoon and was surprised to find such a playful piece of art just outside. “Spot” is a Dalmatian balancing a taxi on his nose is located just outside the Children’s Hospital’s doors. “I wanted to make something so astounding to distract to even those arriving with the most serious procedures” (Artist Bio) the artist was quoted as saying when the piece was unveiled. It sits four stories in front of the hospital. It is a very playful piece of art that stopped me in my tracks.
“Spot” by artist Donald Lipski
Artist Donald Lipski is an American born artist who is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cranbrook Academy of Art. He is best known for his large scale works in public places (Artist’s Bio).
I reached East 34th Street by lunch hour and I have to say for around a hospital there is a limited choice of take-out places around the facility. Most of the restaurants in the area are still closed or have gone out of business. Even before the pandemic, some parts of the neighborhood are being knocked down for new construction and work continued as I visited taking down many of the smaller buildings that used to house small restaurants.
I had lunch at Pizza & Pita at 344 East 34th Street right across the street from the small park that faces the hospital. I just wanted a slice of pizza and when I walked in a fresh pie had just come out. The pizza looked as good as it tasted.
Pizza & Pita at 344 East 34th Street (now Previti Pizza in September 2022)
Previti Pizza replaced Pizza & PIta
The sauce has an amazing rich flavor and the loaded with cheese for a gooey consistency. I was so impressed by the pizza that I went back later that afternoon for a Chicken Parmesan sandwich that was just as good. Two large freshly fried chicken cutlets loaded with their delicious sauce and loads of cheese on a fresh roll. It was heaven in every bite.
The pizza here is great!
I just relaxed and ate my lunch in the small public plaza across the street from the hospital and watched as the hospital staff came out from their frustrating days and ate their lunches beside me. It seemed to do them well.
While at lunch I admired another interesting art piece entitled “Stemmer” by New York City born American artist David Fried.
“Stemmer” at the plaza at East 34th Street and First Avenue
The artist grew up in New York City and attended the School of Art & Music and was accepted into the Arts Students League of New York. The “Stemmers” sculptures are one of his trademark pieces.
After lunch, I continued my walk down East 34th Street to the border of Murray Hill at Fifth Avenue. The neighborhood is very ‘old New York’ especially between First and Madison Avenues with the small buildings and high rises from the 1960’s and 70’s. The area is currently going through a makeover with new buildings, but it still has that “Woody Allen” feel of New York. Everything is not gleaming and new.
Tucked here and there by buildings and courtyards on East 34th Street is a bevy of interesting street art. The statue “Thinking Big” which was formally in Central Park South on Sixth Avenue last year has found a home in front of 222 East 34th Street.
Jim Rennert is an American born artist known for his large bronze sculptures depicting the everyday man. Mostly self-taught, his works are seen all over the country and really do make a statement.
Walking further down East 34th Street just outside a little courtyard of one of the apartment buildings is artist John Sewart Johnson’s II sculpture “The Right Light”, a bronze sculpture of an artist and his easel. The sculpture is located just outside a building between Third and Lexington Avenues.
‘The Right Light’ by artist John Sewart Johnson II
Artist John Seward Johnson II was an American artist who attended the University of Maine, and he is known for his ‘familiar man’ sculptures and icons paintings.
I reached Madison Avenue and walked past the grill work of another interesting office building. The Madison Belmont Building at 181 Madison Avenue was built in 1924 and designed by architects Warren & Wetmore in the Renaissance style with Art Deco details for the Cheney Brothers Silk Company.
“The Madison Belmont Building” at 181 Madison Avenue
Look up at the interesting grill work and details of the building
Reaching the border of Murray Hill to the south is the former B. Altman Department Store that closed in 1989 and in the other corner is the Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the world.
The B. Altman Building at 361 Fifth Avenue was built by Benjamin Altman for the new location for his ‘carriage trade’ store. The store was designed by architects Trowbridge & Livingston in the “Italian Renaissance Style” in 1906. The palatial store was home to couture clothing, fine furniture and expensive artwork.
The former B. Altman Department Store at 361 Fifth Avenue
As the shopping district left Sixth Avenue below 23rd Street, the former “Ladies Shopping Mile” (read my Victorian Christmas Blog on the shopping district) gave way to stores opening between 34th Street to 42nd Street and eventually to the Fifth Avenue locations between 50th and 60th Streets where what is left of the great stores stand today.
My blog on the Ladies Shopping Mile and a “Victorian Christmas”:
As I walked up Fifth Avenue, the western border of the neighborhood, I was struck by all the other beautiful buildings that must have housed fine retail stores as the shopping district moved to this area.
At the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 36th Street is 390 Fifth Avenue that was designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White for the Gorham Manufacturing Company of fine silver products in 1903. It was designed in the “Italian Renaissance Style” and was used for manufacturing and their showroom. It later became Russeks Department store and has now found other uses.
390 Fifth Avenue-The Gorham Manufacturing Building
Further up is the dazzling 373 Fifth Avenue which was built in 1800’s for the home of Charles H. Russell when the area was dominated by great mansions. As one by one the mansions were razed for commercial use, the home was razed in 1906 and architects Hunt & Hunt built the current office building in 1906 for Joseph Fahys & Company and for silversmiths Alvin Manufacturing Company (Daytonian).
Walking further up Fifth Avenue into the 400 block, more unique buildings fascinated me. The first that has always caught my eye is 401 Fifth Avenue, the old Tiffany & Company building. The building was designed for the company by Stamford White of McKim, Mead & White and was completed in 1905. The building was used by the jewelry store until 1940 when it moved to its new location further up Fifth Avenue. The building was inspired by the Palazzo Grimani de San Luca in Venice, Italy (Wiki).
Another standout building further up is 411 Fifth Avenue with its interesting trim and sculpture along the sides and top of the building. This building was built in 1915 again by the architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore with what was considered baroque trim that included urns, flowers and heads with facial reliefs (Daytonian). The building was used for small luxury manufacturing for things like millinery, lace and silversmiths. Today it is used as an office building.
Approaching the New York Public Library again, I passed what were some of the great department stores along the Fifth Avenue retail corridor that once dominated between 34th and 42nd Streets.
The former Lord & Taylor headquarters store that opened in 1914 just recently closed with a sale to the now imploded WeWorks company and was just sold to Amazon for 985 million dollars. This former ‘grand carriage trade’ store replaced the former headquarters store at Broadway and 20th Street by Union Square and opened at this location at 424-434 Fifth Avenue. The 11-story building was designed by architects Starrett & Van Vleck in the ‘Italian Renaissance Revival’. The store closed for business in January of 2019 after over one hundred years in the location.
Lord & Taylor was founded in New York City in 1826 and has moved around the City several times in its long history. I will miss walking around the store and wondering through the store at Christmas time which was always magical in the store’s heyday. I like everyone in the City will miss their Christmas windows.
I’m not sure if Amazon will continue this tradition
Another great retailer was at 452 Fifth Avenue, the former home to Knox Hat Company which was incorporated into the HSBC Tower in 1984. The glass tower was built around the Beaux Arts building for the HSBC and it was considered an architectural marvel when it opened. The Knox Building was built in 1902 and is considered one of the finest examples of ‘Beaux Arts style’ in Manhattan.
452 Fifth Avenue-The Knox Hat Company Building part of the HSBC Building
The Knox Hat Company was considered one of the finest hat companies for men when it was founded in 1838. It once had 62 retail stores and was sold in all the finest stores. It did not survive the Great Depression and was merged with three other companies in 1932 to form Hat Corporation of American (Hat Co) (Bernard Hats history).
The last interesting building I saw before returning to the library to relax by the fountains again was 454 Fifth Avenue at 40th Street, the old Arnold Constable & Company department store.
Fifth Avenue at 40th Street-Arnold Constable & Company Department store
The building opened in 1915 and closed when the company went out of business in 1975. It is now part of the New York Public Library. Arnold Constable & Company was founded in 1825 and was considered one of the oldest stores in New York City. The building was created as the shopping district moved further uptown.
I finished my day back at the tables in front of the New York Public Library and then back in Bryant Park to relax under a tree. God did it pour that afternoon as I made my way around the streets surrounding Murray Hill. I did not realize just the rich history of the neighborhood and its role in the Revolutionary War but the treasure trove of street art and unique buildings that line its avenues.
The beauty of Bryant Park and Murray Hill at night from the Skating Rink
You really do learn something new every day!
Check out my other blogs on Murray Hill as well:
Walking the Avenues of Murray Hill on August 14th, 2020:
I left the addresses and locations of the buildings and street art that I found in the full body of the blog. Remember don’t miss looking up and admiring the ‘open air’ museum that is free when walking on the sidewalks.
*I wanted to let readers know that this blog is a combination of all four of my walks around the perimeter of the Island of Manhattan and I have kept it in order by section of the island. This way you can experience all the wonderful things to see, do and eat at along the way. Never do this walk in the rain! That was tough.
As New York City is just beginning to reopen during the COVID-19 Pandemic and trying to return to normal, I have been wondering Manhattan to see what changes have happened in those three months. It is still incredible how much of the City is beginning to remind me of the mid-1970’s.
My trip in 2020 into lower Manhattan revealed a City looking circa 1980 with boarded up stores and graffiti all over the place. Walking around the neighborhoods in Midtown and Downtown last week were a real eye-opener on how pent-up frustration can almost destroy the fabric of a City and the underpinnings of human nature. It really showed just how frustrated everyone is with being sick, unemployed and broke.
Fifth Avenue boarded up on June 15th, 2020
Even when the stores windows get fixed and the stores restocked, I don’t think people will forget that quickly. When you finally let people ‘out of their cages’ (i.e. their apartments) though you can see that compassion come back. This is what I saw on my thirty-two mile walk around the Island of Manhattan.
On my walk in 2021, the weather was just as spectacular as it was in 2020 but the mood of the City was different as things in Manhattan had been opened now for a year and the mask mandates were giving way to better days ahead. I saw so much interesting ‘public art’ all along my walk and ate at restaurants new and revisited from other blogs in the past six years. I felt like I was seeing old friends. I also took more time to look over artworks, explore parks and admire the views more on this beautiful day. There are better days ahead for New York City as it continues to morph and change.
In May of 2022, I did the official walk with the Shorewalkers Inc., the people that run the walk every year. This was the first time since 2019 that the group held the walk and I wanted to be part of it with all the other walkers. Initially the walk was sold out three weeks before the day of the walk, but I got on the waitlist and when the weather report said rain all day, a lot of people dropped out. It ended up raining (and I mean raining) the whole time of the walk with just a few lulls and the sun did peak out for about five minutes up by the Carl Schulz Park. I wish it had been longer. I was drenched by the time it was over.
We started the morning of 2022 with an early report to the Frances Tavern at 54 Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan, the start and finish of the walk. I had not been there in years and missed the beauty of the building and its historical value. Since I signed up for the walk at the last minute, I did not want to be late. I had started at West 23rd and West 42nd Street in the past so I knew how to pace myself and once I was all signed in at 7:30am, I started the walk. Many others had started before me so I passed many people along the way, wondering how many of us would finish.
The Frances Tavern at 54 Pearl Street is the official start point for the Great Saunter in May every year
The “Great Saunter” was done exclusively in the rain this year. Usually, I pick a sunny day during the Summer Solstice which honors my dad on Father’s Day but since the official walk is the first Saturday in May, off I went. It poured and was gloomy the whole time of the walk. I endured it in good spirits meeting others along the way that kept me going.
In July of 2022, I decided to do the perimeter walk one more time because the weather had been so horrible in May of 2022 that I wanted to see the whole island again when the weather was nice. The walk had started out nicely with it being overcast and in the 70’s but once the clouds broke and it cleared up, it was in the 80’s and got humid. Still it was a beautiful day for walking.
Walking around the Island of Manhattan is no easy task. In 2020, I had planned this since last year and made it my goal to do the walk on the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. The problem was I had a ton of yard work to do on the first day of the summer and I had to get it done knowing that I would be tired after a walk like this. So, after a day of trimming bushes and weeding the lawn, I put my game plan together for the next morning.
Since it was Father’s Day Sunday, I wanted to do something different and special to honor my father more than just sitting at a cemetery looking at an inscription. This is not something my father would want me to do. So my honoring him was to remind myself of all the wonderful Father’s Day’s we spent in Manhattan visiting museums, parks and going to see independent movies at the MoMA and the Angelica. After which we would dine at whatever restaurant I had seen in the Village Voice. Those were the days I wanted to remember.
My inspiration “The Great Saunter” by Cy V. Adler
‘The Great Saunter Walk’ had been cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and would be held at a later date. The walk was started in 1984 by Mr. Cy A. Adler, who founded The Shorewalkers Inc., a non-profit environmental and walking group whose group was fighting for a public walkway since 1982. The first Saturday in May was designated as ‘Great Saunter Day’ (Wiki and Company founding) and has been recognized by most current Mayors of New York City.
Cy V. Adler
I got the map of the walk off the internet and tried to figure out where to start. The walk starts at Frances Tavern in Lower Manhattan, but I thought that was too far away. I thought of starting at 110th Street so I could get through Harlem faster but then I would be travelling back to 110 Street late at night, so I nixed that. Then I thought, I have to get off at 42nd Street for the Port Authority anyway and that is where I am at now with my walking project plus when I finish, I will only be a few blocks away from the bus station so why not start there?
So, in 2020 for my first walk, I started my walk around the Island of Manhattan at the Circle Line Boat Pier where I celebrated last year’s birthday. In 2022, this is where I started again. It made it easier for when I needed to get back to Port Authority.
The Circle Line is where I spent 2019’s birthday touring Manhattan by rivers
I took the 6:35am bus into New York to start early. During the week, the first bus comes at 5:30am and I would have liked to get more of head start but I wanted to do the walk on Father’s Day so into the City I went that morning. I got to the Pier by 7:07am and started the walk around the island. It was the same in 2022.
The Circle Line was closed also because of COVID-19 so the Pier was quiet that morning. I looked over my map of Manhattan and started the walk along the pathways along the Hudson River going up the Joe DiMaggio Highway to the Henry Hudson Highway. I had not been to this part of the Manhattan in about two years.
In 2022, the Circle Line had opened for business, but the first ride was not until around 10:00am so the area was quiet as well. When I finished the walk at 8:55pm, fourteen hours after I had started, the Circle Line had just returned from a ride around the island and people were flowing off the boat. Talk about a huge change in just two years.
When I decided to do the walk for a second time on June 25th, 2021, I put together a different game plan. With all the problems happening all over the City (shootings and harassments had been going up all over the City), I decided that I wanted to start earlier then I had the previous year and decided to spend the night before in Manhattan so I could get an earlier start.
I stayed at the Moxy Hotel in Chelsea at 105 West 28th Street in the heart of the Flower District and I have to say that the hotel has excellent views of the City. I received a room on the tenth floor facing Sixth Avenue and at night I have to say it was one hell of a view. When the lights came on in the evening, the whole neighborhood twinkled.
I got up at 5:00am that morning as the sun shined through the floor to ceiling windows (I wanted to get up early so I pulled the curtains back to see the sun) and got ready then checked the luggage, checked out and started my walk the second time at 6:15am.
The mood of the City was much different from the previous year with more businesses opening up and more people milling around the parks. Still the City was pretty quiet for most of the day especially as I reached uptown.
In 2022, I signed up for the official walk a few days before the walk started knowing that it was going to rain all day that year. That’s why I was able to join in because so many people dropped out (and kept dropping out along the route with all that rain).
I started the walk in 2021 with a good breakfast at Chelsea Papaya at 171 West 23rd Street #1. I have passed this small hole in the wall restaurant for years on my walks around the neighborhood but had never eaten there. I had passed it the night before on my way back to the hotel and thought it would be a good to have breakfast before I started the walk in Riverside Park.
It was an amazing and filling breakfast of three pancakes, two scrambled eggs and three slices of bacon with a medium papaya drink for $11.00. The food was excellent and the guys working they’re at 6:15am could not have been nicer. The seating was not so hot with two small tables outside the restaurant where the tables and street could have used a good cleaning. Still, it was a carb laden meal that prepared me for the long walk.
Don’t miss the wonderful and filling breakfasts at Chelsea Papaya
I started the walk in 2021 on West 23rd Street, so I got to visit this side of the park during the day with it sweeping views of Jersey City and the Hudson River. When I started walking in the park at 6:30am, it was a beautiful sunny day but as the morning grew and I got to around West 42nd Street, the clouds started to roll in and it got cooler.
That did not last long. In 2022, I was not so lucky as it was a misty rain when I started the walk at 7:30am in the morning but it was bearable. I started at Staten Island Ferry terminal and then off I went with the other walkers who were up for the challenge.
The first thing you will see when entering the park is the Monarch Waystation Garden that is one of many that have been planted around the rim of Manhattan. I have seen this also in east side parks as well.
The Monarch Waystation Garden is as you enter Riverside Park
As I entered Hudson River Park, I noticed many works of art displayed on the fences and walls of the surrounding buildings. The 2021 NY Salt Exhibition was being displayed and I took some time to look over the works while walking through the park. I made may way from West 23rd Street and proceeded north walking near the river.
The NY Salt Exhibition at Hudson River Park in 2021 (opened only that summer)
When you walk up past the Piers along Riverside Park in the 40’s, the first thing you will see in the next Pier over is the Intrepid Sea-Air Space Museum which was closed for the COVID-19 pandemic. Pier 86 where the ship was docked was really quiet that morning with only two people eating their breakfast on one of the tables in the little park near the ship. There were sweeping views of New Jersey across the river of Weehawken and West New York.
The Intrepid Sea-Air Museum is just reopened after being closed for almost a year
Most of the West Side is pathways along the river with views of New Jersey until you hit about West 50th Street when you get to the lower part of the new Hudson River Park that has been built on fill to create a new riverfront.
In May of 2022, as I walked around the southern tip of the island, I could not believe how many works of art in the parks that I missed on the previous two walks. I guess I just wanted to finish the walk by that point. During the July 2022 walk, I started at the same point as 2020 and when I saw my first piece of artwork, it was like seeing an old friend.
When I reached the park by Pier 96, I came across Malcolm Cochran’s artwork “Private Passage” again. I came across this sculpture when visiting the park two years earlier. The piece is a giant bottle and when you look in the port hole you will see a state room of the former Queen Mary. It is an interesting piece of artwork that is not hard to miss and take time to look in the port holes.
The artist is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and is graduate of Wesleyan College who specializes in large sculptures.
Further up the park, I came across the old New York Transfer Station piece in Riverside Park. This is a relic of the old West Side Railroad tracks that were once part of the New York Central Railroad that the park and buildings behind it are built on. This transfer bridge once was used to attach railroad cars to the freight tracks that once ran up and down this part of the island (Forgotten New York).
The New York Central Transfer Station
It is interesting to see this now as a piece of art instead of a functioning part of the railroad but it is fascinating to see how we use the parts of the past as a piece of art in the present. This shows the current park visitor how we have made new uses of the riverfront for recreation and pleasure which was not true during the early parts of the last century.
As I was walking up through Riverside Park, I noticed a lot of artworks displayed in Riverside Park that were part of the ‘Summer 2021-Re: Growth’ art display that stretched from the West 40’s to 100’s at various points in the park. Some were interesting in design, and it was nice to see a lot were from local New York Artists (This closed after the summer of 2021)
These lined the length of Riverside Park and you had to really look for them. These were the works of art I viewed on the way up Riverside Park. I included the work and a short biography on each artist that I saw:
Ms. Amezkua is American born New York City based artist living in Bronx. A graduate of Cal State Fresno with a BA and also attended the Academia de belle Arte in Florence she is formally trained as a painter (Artist Bio).
Ms. Letven is an American born artist raised in Philadelphia with a BFA from the Tyler School of Art and a MFA from Hunter College and currently teaches at Parsons School of Design and Art and Design at New York University. She is a multidisciplinary artist in sculpture, installation and painting (Artist Bio).
Ms. Mattingly is an American born artist currently living in New York City. She has a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art from Portland, OR and attended Parsons School of Design. She is known for creating photos and sculptures representing futuristic and obscure landscapes (Wiki).
Mr. Goode is an American born artist from Texas. He has a MFA from Boston University and has worked as an archaeologist on several digs Artsy Bio).
These works are on display until August 2021 and try not to miss this interesting display of art in this ‘open air museum’.
Hudson River Park and Riverside Park South blend into one another with the housing complexes behind them are a shining example of the uses of urban renewal and reclaiming our riverfront for pleasure and conservation. It is also one of the nicest new complexes built in Manhattan in recent years.
What I love about this park is the nice pathways and lawns just to sit back and relax and enjoy the views. There are a lot of places to stop and rest. Since I had been to this side of the island two years ago, I continued my walk up to West 72nd Street when I got to the southern border of Riverside Park which runs much of this side of Manhattan.
I made it up to West Harlem Piers Park by 8:46am (7:43am in 2021) and made my first stop of the morning. The park was a mess. People must have been having parties in the park the night before and did not clean up after themselves because I could see a NYC Parks worker in the picking up the garbage and she did not look happy about the mess. Usually, this park is pristine, and I was not used to seeing it such a mess. I guess these are the things you see in New York City parks early in the morning. The efforts to keep them clean.
The park is down the road from the new extension of the Columbia University campus extension, so this park gets a lot of use during the school year. This early in the morning there were just a few joggers and one homeless guy who was throwing more garbage around. I did not want to be near the Parks worker when she had to deal with that.
What I had not noticed on my trips to the park in the past were some unusual sculptures by artist Nari Ward, a New York based artist who likes to use objects found in his own neighborhood (artist website).
These unusual silver sculptures I almost interpreted as people trying to speak and it was interesting that the sculptures were called Voice I and Voice II. I was not sure of what the artist was trying to communicate with his artwork, but it does stand out in the park. The unfortunate part of it was that there was so much garbage in the park you could not get up close to see them.
I really enjoy this park. It has wonderful breezes and excellent views and plenty of places to sit down and relax. It offers such nice views of the river and as the morning progressed, I started to see more sailboats and water boats out cruising up and down the Hudson River.
While walking down the walkway to Fort Washington Park in 2023, I noticed these flock of seagulls in the cement barrier that I had noticed many times before. I did not realize how detailed they were until I really looked at them. This is what happens when you take your time to observe everything on this walk and not just rush by.
The seagulls wall
The seagulls wall
Walking through Fort Washington Park during the walk in 2023
I reached the bottom of the George Washington Bridge by 9:36am and watched an artist putting a display of layered rocks along the Hudson River shore. Uliks Gryka the artist behind the “Sisyphus Stones” that line this part of the park was carefully layering stones one on top of another and fixing and creating new formations. It was interesting to watch how he balanced each of the stones into a new work. The artist is originally from Albania and has no formal art training (Artist website).
The Sisyphus Stones on the Hudson River (gone in 2023)
The work reminded me of the Moai on Easter Island, the famous statues that faced the sea. It made me think how the artwork looks to the river and how maybe it is nature communicating with land and sea. I was not sure the message the artist was trying to portray, and he looked too busy working to ask him. The artwork was still there in 2021 and it looked like the artist was still updating it.
The Little Red Lighthouse at Fort Washington Park
I continued on into Fort Washington Park to see the Little Red Lighthouse, which I had not visited in almost three years since my last walk in the neighborhood. Many tourists were by the site just under the George Washington Bridge, taking pictures by the lighthouse and enjoying the sunny weather.
The Little Red Lighthouse had been constructed in 1889 and moved from Sandy Hook, New Jersey in 1917 and moved here in 1921. It was decommissioned in 1948 after the construction of the George Washington Bridge in 1931. What had saved the lighthouse from destruction was the book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge” by author Hildegarde Swift in 1942 (Wiki).
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Swift
I didn’t stay long by the lighthouse because it was loaded with tourists taking pictures, but I did stay by the tables and enjoy the view of the George Washington Bridge. It was making quite the racket as more cars are travelling over it again and on a sunny day offered some dazzling views. The breezes were amazing! In both 2021and July 2022, the lighthouse and the park were really quiet, so I got to enjoy the views on my own this time.
The view down the Hudson River from the The Little Red Lighthouse is amazing!
In 2022, the rain had turned to mist, and it was not so bad by the time I got to the lighthouse. I noticed that most people did not stop to look at the lighthouse. They just passed it to keep walking. I stopped because I love seeing this interesting landmark.
Walking up the stairs to get to the upper level of the park is not for the faint hearted and I saw many people much younger than me get out of breath on their way up. One guy had to be about twenty and he looked like he needed oxygen. To me it was just a walk up and I continued to walk through the lower part of Fort Washington Park. In 2021, I could not believe how in much better shape I was that I handled it better.
This part of the park faces Englewood Cliffs, NJ and the Palisades Park Highway on the other side of the river. There is no construction on that park of the river, so it offers views on the cliffs and the woods that line it.
The view of Englewood Cliffs, NJ in 2023
As I walked further up into the park, it was mostly wooded highway and further up the hill was Fort Tyron Park and the home of The Cloister Museum which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum has been closed since March, but I had taken one of the last of the guided tours on religious flora in art of the Middle Ages before it closed on March 13th. The museum reopened in July of 2020.
Fort Tryon Park and The Cloisters Museum in the park
When you reach Fort Tyron Park by foot along the Henry Hudson Parkway, you will see two large stone columns that look like the entrance to an estate and then across the street there is a pillared overlook to the Hudson River. These are remnants of the former C.K.G. Billings estate, “Tryon Hall”.
The old entrance to the estate is covered with brush
Mr. Billings, the Chairman of Union Carbide, owned most land of which the park is located and theses small relics are the remains of the great estate. I had never been in this part of the park before and thought it interesting that these pieces of the estate were left.
The archway and drive are still part of the park, and you can see them closer to The Cloisters Museum. The old driveway to the estate is still used inside the park.
The entrance to the old “Tryon Hall” estate in Inwood Park in 2023
I travelled up further and arrived at the Dyckman Beach Park located at the end of Dyckman Avenue in Inwood. This tiny little beach is hidden from the road and is located next to the pier. Every time I have visited the park, this little section is in high demand for picnickers, and you have to get there early. The pier is a nice place to relax and soak of the sun and admire the view.
Don’t miss this tiny beach and the pier. It is so relaxing!
In 2021, the beach area was busy with a local high school graduation going on in the restaurant right next to the beach. There was much cheering and celebrating going on and it was good to see that. All along the harbor deck, people were relaxing and fishing. In July of 2022, it was quiet with a few people fishing so I had the whole place to myself. This was when I took my first break. The heat was starting to get to me.
In 2020, I walked around one side of the park that contains the soccer field where a very heated match between two teams was taking place. I could tell there was a heated discussion in Spanish that these two teams were in major competition. While the men were playing soccer, the ladies were cooking up a storm, making skewers of meat, cutting fresh fruit and stirring lemonade for a makeshift concession stand. This was a very organized league.
I walked around the field and watched the game as the families settled in for a long afternoon. These guys really took the game seriously and were going back and forth side to side for the twenty minutes I watched the game. The pathway to the park ends in a semi-circle and on the side is a walkway bridge over the railroad tracks which will take you around Inwood Hill Park to the lower pathways that overlook the Hudson River and to the Henry Hudson Bridge that leads to the Bronx.
In 2021, the fields were very quiet which I was surprised by. Usually, this area is very crowded with people even when COVID was at its height. It was better to be outside than inside. It was earlier in the morning.
When you follow the path, it leads to the Spuyten Duyvil, a man-made canal that was created during the Dutch era for shipping and trade. It cuts off a small section of Manhattan that is now on the Bronx side of the City. Here you will see the giant blue “C” for Columbia University, whose stadium is on the other end of the park.
The Columbia “C” from Inwood Hill Park
The paths lead down wooded areas that are some of the last of the ‘virgin’ forest left on the island of Manhattan and one of the few true wooded areas.
On the other side of the small cove is the natural cove, Muscota Marsh where the Columbia Rowing Team has their sheds. The Muscota Marsh was created in a joint partnership between the NYC Parks system and Columbia University. This one-acre marsh is located in the Spuyten Duyvil creek and is part freshwater and part salt-water marsh. It is home to many native birds who use it as a nesting and watering site.
I sat and relaxed while birds flew in and out of the marsh that morning. It was the most beautiful sunny morning, and you could feel the cool breezes coming off the creek while small boats passed by. The Muscota Marsh is one of those hidden treasures in Manhattan that tourists rarely visit. It was nice to just sit and relax. I had reached the northern most part of Manhattan by 11:11am four hours after the start time.
In 2020, I had eaten a light breakfast at the house and had gone through my snacks while walking up to Inwood Hill Park. Most of the places I had gone to in the past while up walking the neighborhood or going to the Columbia/Cornell football games were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic or went out of business. I ordered breakfast from Park Terrace Deli at 510 West 218 Street.
I had the most amazing Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a Hero that hit the spot. I was starved and this large sandwich fit the bill. It was loaded with freshly cooked bacon and the hero roll was toasted and then pressed when the bacon, cheese and eggs were loaded inside. I sat down with a much-needed Coke in the benches by Isham Park further down Broadway. I enjoyed every bite, and the ice-cold Coke gave me the burst of energy I needed to continue the walk down the western part of Manhattan.
This has become a tradition as I came back for the same sandwich in July of 2022 and enjoyed my breakfast on the benches of Muscato Marsh, enjoying the breezes and watching the row teams. It is a great place after you grab a snack to sit and enjoy the views.
The Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich at Park Terrace Deli is excellent!
In 2021, I was still full from my breakfast at Chelsea Papaya and stopped in Twin Donut at 5099 Broadway (now closed) for a donut. I have been to this shop many times when walking in the neighborhood and their donuts are delicious. I had one of their Blueberry jelly filled ($1.50) and that hit the spot. The owner said that they were selling the business after sixty years and it would soon be a twelve-story building. In July of 2022, the building still sits empty.
Twin Donut was at 5099 Broadway for almost 60 years
In 2022, I stopped in Inwood Park to meet up with other walkers for snacks and go to the bathroom. The rain stopped for a bit, and we were able to stand and talk to one another. People were playing soccer nearby and residents were shopping at the Farmer’s Market close by. Even though the snacks were nice you can’t make a meal out of Pringles and Goldfish. So, I packed up a few of the snacks to take with me and went on my way.
In 2021, I stopped at G’s Coffee Shop for the same breakfast sandwich and as usual, the food and service was excellent, feeding my weary body. Every meal that I have had at G’s has been good.
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:
After breakfast, I travelled down 10th Avenue from 218th Street and followed the path of the original footprint of the island until I arrived at the cross streets of Dyckman Street and Harlem River Drive at the beginning of Highbridge Park and Sherman Cove. Even in this busy area of car repair shops, small restaurants and the Dyckman Houses, everyone pretty much ignored me as if I was not there. Not one person looked at me. Many people looked down as I passed which I thought was strange.
In 2020, most of this part of Highbridge Park was still closed off to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic and because it was Father’s Day, people were barbecuing along the thin path and patch of land between the park and the highway. It amazes me how creative these residents are with the use of space.
In 2021, the Sherman Creek part of the park was open for walking through, and I took the time to walk the path to the river through the winding woods and streams. It is a nice break from the busy City and it a very underrated part of Highbridge Park. The views of the East River were spectacular, and the breezes were so nice and cool. It was nice to have the park to myself that morning.
Sherman Creek Park/Swindlers Cove is at 351 West 205th Street
Before I took the long trip down Harlem River Drive along the rim of High Bridge Park, I walked along Dyckman Street, one of the three big retail corridors for the Dominican community in Washington Heights. The other two being 207th Street and the other 181st Street and Broadway.
Dyckman Street on the west side of Broadway is so alive on the weekends with street vendors selling food and wares, music playing and people socializing with their neighbors. I love coming here for the bakeries and to get fresh pastilitoes and freshly squeezed juice from the street vendors who have to listen to my broken Spanish. It was a little tougher to visit the places as social distancing let less people into the stores that were open.
On warm weekends Dyckman Street is alive with shoppers
After I walked a few blocks of Dyckman Street to see what was available, I started the long trek down the path along Harlem River Drive with High Bridge Park across the street. The long curves of the park, the lush woods and rock formations show what was once the former shoreline of this part of the island. From this location it looks alike Inwood Hill Park with clean paths and virgin plantings.
The reality of the park is that if you walk through the park you are faced with the over-grown paths, the graffitied rocks and garbage that parts of the park suffer from. When you walk through the paths on the other side of the park, you see how far the park has gone down and the work that still needs to be done. Abandoned cars and garbage still plaque parts of the park from the park side paths. Still the City is doing a lot to improve the park.
The approach to the High Bridge Water Tower in High Bridge Park in 2023
I passed the old High Bridge Water Tower that was being renovated and was covered in scaffolding. The water tower and the bridge are the lasting remnants of the way water used to travel into New York City from upstate in the late 1800’s. The tower was built in 1872 and was part of the old Croton Aqueduct system of moving water into Manhattan. The tower and the surrounding area are currently going under renovation and the pool is closed because of COVID-19.
This part of the park had no activity and, on the path, leading down to the old Polo Grounds there was not much activity. What always makes me nervous is walking around the Polo Ground Houses that run from West 165th Street to about West 155th Street. The complex is a tired looking set up public housing with one building looking exactly like the other and a small patch of green in the middle. I could see from the hill over-looking the lawns that there were some small parties going on.
The Polo Ground Tower Housing Complex
All I kept thinking about is the activities that go on there and I zig-zagged my way down the sidewalk until I hit the part of the fence that was covered with trees and vines. Out of site from the prying windows. Ever since I read about the complex on the internet, I have never felt comfortable in this part of the City. This was before I walked all around the complex four years ago when I walked Harlem and didn’t think much about it. I walk around quickly in this neighborhood.
I crossed the street and walked down Edgecombe Avenue on the upper side of Jackie Robinson Park. On the corner of the edge of the street is the John Hooper Fountain at 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue. The fountain was designed by architect George Martin Huss and is a ornamental horse fountain and lantern. It was dedicated in 1894 and donated to the park by businessman John Hooper (NYCParks.com/MichaelMinn.net). It was used by the horses for drinking when carriages and horse riding at that time.
The John Hooper Fountain is at the corner of Edgecombe Avenue and 155th Street in 2022
As I walked past the fountain and entered the edge of Jackie Robinson Park, I could hear music and kids screaming from the sidewalk. The park was alive with people using the playground or setting up parties for Father’s Day. It was also a mixed crowd of people who were conversing amongst themselves about recent events, and I heard many lively debates. In July of 2022, the pool had opened up again and there were kids screaming and yelling as they played in the pool. This is also a good place for a bathroom break.
The one thing I discovered about this section of the park is that everything across the street or closer to the park is brand new housing, a lot catering to CUNY students. Much of Bradhurst and Fredrick Douglas Boulevard have been knocked down and rebuilt with new housing and much of West 145th Street is new stores and restaurants. It changes as you get closed to Lenox Avenue and Young Park.
I find Jackie Robinson Park very nice. The park has always been well maintained and the place was clean and well-landscaped. During the warmer months of the school year, a lot of CUNY students can be seen on the hill as you enter the park on West 145th Street sunning themselves and studying. Now families were setting up barbecues unfortunately many of them without masks.
The worst thing I found about travelling in these blocks of the City in 2020 is how the Parks system treats the patrons of the parks. There was not one open bathroom in the four parks that I visited. High Bridge Park had no bathrooms on the Harlem River Drive part of the park, both Jackie Robinson Park’s bathrooms were shut tight and Young Park’s were also closed. Thomas Jefferson Park further down only had Porto toilets (and I will not mention in this blog the condition they were in. COVID-19 would not even survive in those). In 2021, there were more bathrooms open but not in great shape. In 2022, I would not have ventured into them.
After a rest in Jackie Robinson Park, I ventured down West 145th Street to Young Park and then crossed down Malcolm X Boulevard to West 143rd Street. There were no open bathrooms here, so I headed down Fifth Avenue before making the connection on to Harlem River Drive.
In 2021, I stopped for a quick lunch at Sweet Mama’s Soul Food Restaurant at 698 Malcolm X Boulevard on the corner of Lexington Avenue and 145th Street. It was a little too hot for such heavy food, but I thought why not? I had not had Southern food in a long time.
I tried the Fried Chicken wings, Mac & Cheese, Sweet Potatoes and a biscuit with a Coke. The food is served buffet style and bought by the pound. My ‘little’ meal with beverage was $9.00 and I thought that was a bargain for all that food. The fried chicken tasted delicious but had been sitting in the steamer too long, but the biscuit, sweet potatoes and mac & cheese were all excellent and full of flavor. Refreshed from my lunch, I carried on down Malcolm X Boulevard (Lexington Avenue). Don’t bother with the public bathrooms at Carl Young Park across the street. They are not clean.
During the walk in May of 2022, to get out of the rain, warm up and get away from these annoying people who started to walk with me from Alabama, I stopped in King Pizza of Harlem at 110 West 145th Street for a snack. I knew that I wanted a chopped cheese for lunch, but I was starved and needed to eat something. I also needed a break from the walking.
For a little hole in the wall pizzeria in not the greatest part of the neighborhood, the cheese pizza is excellent. The sauce is so well spiced and topped with loads of mozzarella cheese. The slice was rather large and made a great snack. It was just pleasant to sit down and relax.
The slices at King Pizza are excellent! Don’t miss their delicious Cheese Pizza
As I made my way down Fifth Avenue from 143rd Street, I stopped for a moment to look at a obelisk that I had not noticed the last time I had visited the area. The obelisk is located on a tiny triangle near the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 142nd Street. The Monument is the 369 Infantry Regiment Memorial dedicated to the all-black unit that fought so valiantly in World War I with the Fourth French Army. It was in such an obscure place that I must have just passed it when I visited Harlem. The drunk homeless guy sitting next to it was a deterrent from really looking at it.
I crossed over the triangle and continued to follow the river to West 135th street (the river walk ends at West 135th Street and continued down Madison Avenue. I had to walk through the Lincoln Houses Public Housing and again pretty much everyone avoided me. I was surprised that there was so much garbage on the lawns and in the parks. I could not believe that none of the residents would have picked this up.
As I walked down Madison Avenue, I noticed another homeless guy trying to solicit money from people coming off the highway and almost getting hit a few times. I was going to yell at him, but I thought I better mind my business walking in this section of the City.
I made a turn into the courtyard of the Lincoln Houses to see the statute of Abraham Lincoln with Child statute at 2120-2122 Madison Avenue. With all the statutes being torn down in 2020, I was surprised that not only was this statute up but in good shape.
Lincoln and Child at 2120-2122 Madison Avenue in the Lincoln Houses in 2023
The statue was designed by artist Charles Keck. Mr. Keck was an American born New York artist who studied at the National Academy of Design and the Arts Students League of New York. He was best known for his work on statues and monuments.
In 2022, as I admired the statute for a second time in the rain, some crazy homeless guy got right into my face and started talking about Lincoln and slavery. I walked away as fast as I could. How come I attract all the crazies? Everyone I was walking with walked faster down the street away from me.
I walked south down Madison Avenue until I reached West 128th Street and walked towards the river towards Second Avenue. I stopped in Harlem River Park and Crack is Wack Playground and again no open bathrooms.
The Keith Haring “Crack is Wack” painting in Crack is Wack Park
I passed the Tri-Boro Plaza Park nothing there either, so I just continued down Second Avenue to East 120th Street and walked down Pleasant Avenue towards Thomas Jefferson Park. The park was pretty busy in both 2020 and 2021 with kids playing baseball or running around the park.
While walking around Harlem River Park, I came across the artwork “Dream Fulfilled”, which was unveiled in August of 2011 as a partnership between the Harlem CDC, their State and City Partners, East, Central, and West Harlem Committees and the Creative Arts Workshop for Kids (CAW) (Empire State Development).
The project “Dreams Fulfilled” in 2011
As I walked down Second Avenue from 125th Street, I noticed interesting artwork on the side of the Taino Towers at 221 East 122nd Street. The towers had been going through a major renovation the last time I had visited the neighborhood and parts of the complex were still under scaffolding.
The painting outside of PS 30 in Harlem
Artist Don Rimx painted a mural of Nuyorocan poet Jesus ‘Tato’ Laviera. The painting had been unveiled in 2017 (long after my visit to the neighborhood) and 123rd Street was renamed after the poet (Street Art NYC).
The mural of Jesus ‘Tato’ Laviera at Taito Towers at 122nd Street and Second Avenue
Mr. Rimx was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and in 2009 moved to Brooklyn and then in 2014 to Florida. He graduated from Central High School of Visual Arts and Escuela Des Arts Plasticas. He is known for his use of styles in art and culture and known for his murals (Artist Bio).
As I passed the towers and its new artwork, I crossed Second Avenue to the Wagner Houses complex. People were having all sorts of picnics and barbecues inside and outside the Wagner Houses and people were celebrating Father’s Day in full force. It was all I could do from walking through the complex again. The last time I did that the residents looked at me like I was a Martian who just set down.
The Wagner Houses
The Robert Wagner Sr. sculpture in the Wagner Playground by artist Georg John Lober
Georg John Lober was an American artist from Chicago who studied at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design and worked for the New York City Municipal Art Commission for seventeen years.
As I walked around the Wagner Complex, little had changed from my various trips in this part of the neighborhood except they finished a lot of the luxury housing across the street. The complexity and diversity of the neighborhood was changing fast right before COVID hit and in the 2021 trip, it is still changing.
Pleasant Avenue was once home to the East Harlem “Little Italy” and the ‘Dance of the Giglio’ takes place here every August outside the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (See Day Eighty-Four The Feast of Our Lady of Carmel and the Dancing of the Giglio). Now it is becoming a gentrified neighborhood and I saw many people eating in outdoor cafes or shopping at the local mall.
I stopped at Pleasant Finest Deli at 375 Pleasant Avenue in both 2020 and 2021 for a snack and a Coke. On an 84-degree day there is nothing like an ice-cold Coke. This is my ‘go-to’ place when I am in the neighborhood for snacks.
Pleasant Finest Deli at 375 Pleasant Avenue (closed June 2022)
I stopped for lunch in both 2020, 2021 and 2022 at Blue Sky Deli (now Chopped Cheese Delicious) at 2135 First Avenue for a Chopped Cheese. I swear I make any excuse to come up here and have that sandwich.
The Chopped Cheese Delicious (Blue Sky Deli) has a cult following
The ‘Chopped Cheese’ is a cult sandwich made up of two chopped hamburgers topped with American cheese, chopped lettuce and tomato with salt, pepper and spices and then pressed. It is like heaven with every bite. I took my sandwich into Thomas Jefferson Park, which is currently under renovation and ate my sandwich. After I was finished, I had the energy to continue the walk downtown.
In 2021, I wanted to make up for time and ate it when I got to Carl Schulz Park near East 84th Street. I figured I had eaten enough by that point and could save it for later. I had to have a chopped cheese that day.
The Chopped Cheese Sandwich at Blue Sky Deli (Harlem Taste Deli)
The delicious Chopped Cheese Sandwich
In May of 2022, I had to get out of the rain and stopped in the deli for about a half hour while my order was cooking. The rest of the customers at the deli did not know what to make of a six-foot drenched white guy who looked starved and angry. I was just wet and tired. The sandwich was terrific as usual, but I had to eat it quickly in the park again to continue the walk. When I digested it a few blocks later it gave me a lot more energy to walk.
After I finished my lunch, I felt refreshed and ready to go but still had to find a bathroom. Since the park was under renovation, there were only Porto bathrooms and trust me, STAY AWAY! They were so dirty that COVID-19 could not survive these things. After eating a big lunch, I ended up nauseous for the rest of the afternoon and lost my appetite for anything else. I left the park at 3:48pm and thought I was making good time.
When I did the walk in May of 2022, it was pouring rain when I got to the deli and sitting in Blue Sky Deli was the only time that I really warmed up. Because there is no place to sit down in the deli, I had to eat my sandwich in the park during the drizzling rain. Not the best conditions to eat but it really warmed me up and gave me energy to continue the walk down the esplanade from East 110th Street.
Before I left Thomas Jefferson Park, I came across another piece of art that I had not noticed on my many visits to the park. The sculpture located in the middle of the park is entitled “Tomorrow’s Wind” by artist Melvin Edwards. The sculpture is made of welded steel and is tilted so that it reflects the sun. The piece was placed in the park in 1995 (NYCParks.org).
Mr. Edwards is an American born artist from Texas. He is known for his known for his abstract steel sculptures. He graduated with a BFA from University of Southern California and studied at the Los Angeles Art Institute.
I exited the park at West 111th Street and followed the overpass over FDR Drive and walked down the esplanade from West 111th Street to West 60th Street in Sutton Place. The views of the Harlem and East Rivers are ever changing with new construction in Queens and Brooklyn and the developments on Randall’s-Ward and Roosevelt Island. The whole riverfront changes every year.
The Tram to Roosevelt Island
Between the sunny skies and cool river breezes, it is an amazing walk if you take your time like I did and just soak up the sunshine. I never realized how easy this part of the walk would be. I just walked others walk by enjoying their afternoons and looked at all the buildings going up and the boats and jet skiers passing by. It was one busy river.
I relaxed when I arrived at Carl Schurz Park to enjoy the views of Lighthouse Park on Roosevelt Island and look at the flower beds in the park. Carl Schurz Park has its own Friends group, and they do a great job taking care of the park. The flower beds are so colorful and vibrant, and the playground is full of active screaming kids.
There were finally some decent OPEN bathrooms and the water fountains here work and the water is good. The fountains dispense cold water and New York City water tastes good especially at these water fountains. In all of my trips around the island and even when I was walking around the Upper East Side for this blog, Carl Schulz Park has the best facilities for its visitors.
In 2020, I stayed at the park for about fifteen minutes. Any longer and I would not have left. Carl Schurz Park is one of my favorite parks in Manhattan. I love the views, the sights and sounds of this park and love how lively and calm it is at the same time. It is a true neighborhood park.
In 2021, I just relaxed in the park, ate my chopped cheese sandwich (which I could tell people around me envying) and watched the boats and jet skiers pass by. I also had a direct view of Lighthouse Park on Roosevelt Island, so I got to watch everyone visit the little lighthouse at the tip of the island. Outside of Bryant Park in Midtown, I find Carl Schulz Park one of the best parks in the City to relax and just people watch and let nature encompass you.
In May of 2022, when I arrived at Carl Schulz Park it was the only time of the day where the sun peaked out giving me hope that the weather would break. It did not happen and that was the joke Mother Nature played on us. It was not raining as badly but it continued to misty and light raining.
In July of 2022, I stayed at the park for a half hour just relaxing and watching the water flow by and looking at the people at the tip of Roosevelt Island across the river. The benches by the water are the best place to relax on a nice day. In May of 2023 during the official walk, I stayed to check to see if the bathrooms were open. When they weren’t, I took off down the East Side to get to Sutton Place at a decent time.
I continued down the river front walk until I had to stop at West 60th on the border of the Upper East Side and Sutton Place and proceeded up the ramp. This is where the sculpture by artist Alice Aycock is located and one of my favorite ‘street art’ sculptures ‘East River Roundabout’.
From here I travelled up the ramp which surrounds Twenty-Four Sycamores Park which borders both neighborhoods and is extremely popular with the neighborhood children and their babysitters and parents. The park was closed though because of the COVID-19 pandemic but will be reopened soon. This park was start and stop point when I was visiting this side of town for the blog. I like the shade trees and it has good bathrooms.
In May of 2022, they had finished renovating the bathrooms at the park and they were open. The best part was that they were really clean and were heated. I was able to relax for a minute, go to the bathroom and get warm. I understand the plight of the homeless on a cold night.
I walked down Sutton Place past the old mansions and stately apartment buildings. This area of the City was really quiet as the residents here were probably out of town with all that was going on. The streets were pretty much deserted, and I saw a few people in Sutton Place Park. Please check out my walk of the Sutton Place/Beekman Place neighborhood on my blog:
Day One Hundred and Thirty-Four: Walking Sutton Place
In July of 2022, it had gotten so hot, and the humidity was getting to me that I had to stop for some ice cream, and I remember A la Mode Shoppe at 360 East 55th Street. I had the most amazing ice cream there years ago when I was blogging about Sutton Place and even checked the Internet the day before to make sure that they were open.
My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:
The two flavors that I love are Pink Sprinkles (Strawberry Ice Cream with layers of colorful sprinkles and Cloudy Weather (Blueberry Ice Cream with tiny marshmallows). I was looking forward to going there on this whole trip down this side of the island. I knew I was going to need something to cool myself down. It is such a great little store that also sells gourmet sodas, candy and toys.
A la Mode Shoppe is such a whimsical store
Watch taking the turn on East 53rd Street to First Avenue. The cars and cabs will not stop for you when you try to cross the street so be careful. I always take a mad dash across the road.
From here you have to walk on First Avenue from East 53rd Street until East 37th Street as the United Nations dominates this area. The United Nations looked like it was closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic with just a few guards on duty and not much traffic. It also looked to me like they removed a lot of their statuary because of all the vandals destroying artwork all over the country.
The United Nations Complex
The complex was completely quiet on this gloomy day, and I did not see a sole anywhere near the complex. Even the security booths seemed quiet when I passed. You can no longer walk around the on the grounds, so I peered from the gate and admired the statute ” Good defeats Evil” by artist Zurab Tseretelli. This interesting statue I found out later was made of old United States and Russian missiles to commemorate the signing of the ‘Treaty of the Elimination of Intermediate’. The statue was to represent peace (United Nations Gifts).
Good defeats Evil by artist Zurab Tseretelli (United Nations Gifts)
Artist Zurab Tseretelli is a Russian born artist who is noted for his sculptures all over the world. He graduated from Tbilisi State Academy of Arts and was a visiting professor at SUNY in New York State on top of other teaching and academic honors (Wiki).
I stopped in Ralph Bunche Park at First Avenue between East 42nd and 43rd Street. I just needed to sit for a bit, and I admired a sculpture that I had not noticed before when walking the park.
Ralph Bunche Park at First Avenue between East 42nd and 43rd Streets
Mr. Johnson was an American born artist from California. He studied at the Chouinard Art Institute and then studied in Paris. He was known for his abstract paintings and steel sculptures.
Another interesting piece of art was on the wall of 777 First Avenue, the Church Center for the United Nations. The work was created by artist Benoit Gilsoul and is entitled “Man’s Search for Peace” (Wiki).
The Church Center for the United Nations at 777 First Avenue
Mr. Gilsoul was a Belgium born artist who immigrated to the United States in 1967 and became an American citizen. He studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux Arts in Belgium. He was noted for his abstract works (IstDibs.com).
I then exited East 37th Street and continued to walk down the esplanade along the East River. I had never travelled to this section of the City before (I have currently not passed 42nd Street on my current walk of Manhattan in 2020) so it was an adventure to see new views of the island. I stayed on this pathway until I got to the Battery.
In May of 2022, the rain began to let up when I got to the esplanade, and it was just a light mist. I was just hoping that it would stop soon. While everyone else was racing down the walkway to finish the walk, I took the time and admired the buildings on the Brooklyn waterfront. It is getting more impressive every year.
Along the way between East 37th Street and East 11th Streets, you tend to see the backs of a lot of buildings on the Manhattan side life Bellevue and the Tisch Hospital. You then pass Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village and then the Con Ed Power Plant so there is not much to see on this side but from the other side you will see the skyline of Long Island City and Downtown Brooklyn.
Downtown Long Island City keeps changing
On the turn before you get to the larger East River Park is the smaller Stuyvesant Cove Park which was once the site of an old cement plant and has now been reclaimed for a riverfront park. The park runs from about East 22nd Street to East 18th Street. The park is planted with native plants of New York City and has become a haven for birds and butterflies (Stuyvesant Cove Park Association). I left Stuyvesant Cove by 5:45pm in 2020, 6:30pm in 2021 and 4:30pm in 2022. I took more time to explore the parks and artwork in 2021 and was walking slower because of the rain in 2022.
Around East 12th Street its best to the follow the path signs to John V. Lindsay East River Park. The park was created in 1939 by then Parks Director Robert Moses on reclaimed land from the waterfront and piers and is a 57.5 acre point of relief to the residents of the Lower East Side (Wiki).
The park has many recreational facilities and the afternoon I was walking through countless parties and barbecues were going on. With meats sizzling on the grills and water gun fights and the sound of music throughout the park, people were enjoying their Father’s Day celebrations in every corner of the park. I found open bathrooms that were clean and a water fountain that worked and I was happy. Don’t miss the giant anchor facing the river near the entrance to the park.
Don’t miss the “Anchors Away” sculpture in John Lindsey Park
Once I left the park in 2020 and 2021, I was on my way to South Street Seaport. This part of the walk meant walking under overhangs, bridge over-passes and the housing was a combination of new and old construction. On the other side of the river, there is a difference on the riverfront on the Brooklyn side. The growth of DUMBO and Downtown Brooklyn has changed the whole look from this side of the river.
Downtown Brooklyn from the Brooklyn Bridge
In May of 2022, the rain was really getting to me, and I was not sure if I could keep going. My muscles in my legs were really getting to me because of the cold. It went from 54 to 45 degrees by the time I got to Lower Manhattan. I just happened to meet up with a businessman from Fort Lee, NJ who I had seen hours earlier on the other side of the island. He asked if he could walk the rest of the way with me and I said yes. It was nice to have someone to talk with for the rest of the trip.
This is now becoming some of the most expensive housing in New York City with warehouses and old factories becoming expensive lofts. Things just changing on that side of the river and the riverfront even this far down keeps changing. I passed the Peck Slip Park at 6:30pm on my way to the South Street Seaport.
South Street Seaport is some of the original structures of Lower Manhattan many dating back to the Civil War when this was a major shipping area. The home of the Dutch West Indies Company in the early 1600’s, this port area has seen many changes. The most modern ones when the Rouse Corporation turned this into a dining and shopping entertainment area setting up concept for many downtowns in city’s that needed revitalizing. Since its development, South Street Seaport was their most successful venture.
I had never seen it so quiet in the time of COVID-19. There was no one walking around this busy area but a few tourists and residents. In 2021, the mood had changed, and it was much busier. I passed through the Seaport by 6:48pm.
As I was leaving the South Street Seaport in 2021, I was watching fire trucks leave in a hurry from one of the local firehouses. It caught my attention so much that I lost my footing for some reason and fell flat on my face. It was almost as if someone had tripped me. In May of 2022, the only thing we did was race by the place because of the weather but in July of 2022, the Seaport was alive with people having dinner and drinks.
From here it was again more overhangs from the highway until I got to the Ferry stations for Staten Island and Governors Island and then rounding the corner to make it to Battery Park where the sites of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island loomed in the distance. All over the harbor were sailboats and motorboats enjoying the early evening. It was now 7:15pm and I had been travelling since noon.
In 2020 and 2021, I spent about a half hour relaxing and enjoying the views on a sunny early evening. Being the day after the Summer Solstice it was one of the longest days of the year and I got to enjoy the extra sunshine. I needed to cool down and this was the place to do it. It still is one of the most picturesque places in New York City.
In May of 2022, the rain and clouds got so bad that I could barely see things in the harbor. It looked like it was trying to clear and by 5:00pm it finally stopped raining. We had been walking under the highway underpass by South Street Seaport and the two of us started to dry out.
In July of 2022, this is where I took my longest break of forty-five minutes. I just needed to relax before I made the last leg of the journey back to West 34th Street. Similar to the walk I did in 2020, it took a lot of effort to complete this part of the journey and I wanted to build my strength.
I have to say that I never get tired of seeing Lady Liberty. I still can’t believe that I am seeing the same statute that both of my grandfathers’ saw when they arrived in this country. It puts it all into perspective to me how powerful of a symbol it is to this country as a way of welcoming people to the United States.
When finishing ‘The Great Saunter’ in 2022, this was our last stop before heading back to Frances Tavern. Myself and my walking partner for the last four miles of the trip had talked most of the time about our careers and families and about why we took the walk. The time just flew from there. I learned that his wife and her friend had made it all the way to Inwood Park before they took the subway back downtown and then home.
Justin Watrel completing “The Great Saunter” officially in May of 2022
We walked to the registration desk in front of the Frances Tavern and collected our certificates that we completed the walk. We then took our picture with our certificates and then said our goodbyes. He then told me that probably could not have finished the walk without me and I felt the same way. I need someone to keep pace with me and help me finish this difficult day. I warmed up in the restaurant for a bit and then took the subway back uptown and then the bus home. Everything had to go in the dryer when I got home and air out. I finished the walk by 5:45pm taking me almost eleven hours to finish, a personal best.
In 2020 and July of 2022, I had just walked the entire east side of Manhattan and I have to tell you I was stiff by this point. I was ready to throw in the towel here and rest, but I pressed on wanting to get home at a decent time. I really misjudged how long it would take to get from the Battery to West 42nd Street. It is a decent amount of time even though it doesn’t look it on the map. You just have to distract yourself by looking at the coves and the artwork along the way.
In 2022, I walked past Fort Clinton, also known as Castle Clinton, where you buy tickets for the Statue of Liberty. The fort has had an interesting history. Built between 1809 to 1811, it has served as a fort in the early wars of the country, then an entertainment spot, an immigration outpost before Ellis Island was built, then the home of the New York Aquarium and now home to the start off point and history discussion on the Statue of Liberty (Wiki).
In 2021, I was much better prepared and had more walking time under my belt. I was in much better shape, so it did not tire me so much at this point of the walk. I was rearing to go after a half hour break.
I left Battery Park at 7:30pm and followed a crowd of people out of the park. Before I left the park for Battery Park City and its beautiful parks, I came across the sculpture “American Merchant Marines Memorial” at the edge of the Battery. The statue commemorates the thousands of merchant ships and crews that fought since the Revolutionary War (NYCParks.org).
The “American Merchant Marines Memorial” by artist Marisol Escobar
Ms. Escobar was born in Paris and raised in Venezuela and moved to New York in the 1950’s. She is known for her highly stylized boxy sculptures (NYCParks.org). She studied art at the Jepson Art Institute, the Ecole des Beaux Arts and Art Students League of New York (Wiki).
Another sculpture I missed on my first two walks around the island was the New York Korean Memorial by artist Mac Adams.
The statue is one of the first monuments to the Korean conflict built in the United States and the void in the sculpture represents the absence and loss of the war and a metaphor for death (NYCParks.org).
Artist Mac Adams is a British born artist who now lives in the New York area. He holds an MFA from Rutgers University. He is known for his large public works and for the use of ‘space between images’ (Wiki/Artist Bio).
I left Battery Park and entered into the newer extension of Robert Wagner Jr. Park next to Battery Park City. In the front part of the park, I came across these unusual musical instrument sculptures that graced the entrance of the park.
The art entitled “Resonating Bodies” were created by British born artist Tony Cragg, whose work I had seen uptown many times. The sculptures resemble a lute and a tuba. The work is based on the concept that all physical bodies including we are constantly enveloped by various energy forms (NYCParks.org).
“Resonating Bodies” at Robert Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City
Mr. Cragg is a British born artist from Liverpool and studied at the Gloucestershire School of Art, received his BA from the Wimbledon School of Art and his MA from the Royal School of Art. He has been showing his works since 1977. He is best known for his contemporary sculptures (Artist Bio/Wiki).
I walked behind them as I travelled through the South Cove of Battery Park City. Not a lot of tourists know that this whole area is fill in of old piers on the fillers from the building of the original World Trade Center. Now the area sits apartment buildings with breathtaking views and well-landscaped parts. The South Cove was filled with small groups of people who were also not social distancing and very few masks. I think people were just throwing caution to the wind.
Don’t miss the twists and turns of the South Cove of Battery Park City
Another piece of art that I missed and saw in 2022 was ‘Ape and Cat at the Dance’ by artist Jim Dine. The sculpture of a cat and ape dancing cheek to cheek like humans had been inspired by the Henry James story of “The Madonna of the Future”. The Parks Department describes it as a ‘human like and asks us to reflect on ourselves”. (NYCParks.org/Downtown Alliance).
“The Ape and the Cat at the Dance” in Battery Park
Artist Jim Dine is an American born artist who studied at the University of Cincinnati, School of Fine Arts in Boston and graduated with a BFA from Ohio University. He is known for his many different mediums of sculpture, printmaking and drawing (Wiki).
Mother Cabrini was born in Italy as Maria Francesca Cabrini in 1850. She took her vows and founded the Missionary of the Sacred Heart. She immigrated to the United States in 1889 and continued her charity work, founding organizations and was the first naturalized citizen to be canonized (NYCbio/MotherCabrini.org/Wiki).
Jill Burkee is a sculpture and draftswoman who studied at the Arts Students League of New York and the University of Washington and has studied in Italy. Giancarlo Baigi is a sculptor and multi-media artist. He also studied at the Arts Students League of New York and has a MA from Stagio Stagi in Peitrasanta in Italy (Arts Students League bio).
Another piece of art that I came across that I missed in the last two trips is “Apple” by artist Stephen Weiss. The piece was part of the ‘Larger than Life” series of the artist and symbolized the heart and core of life in New York City (Hudson River Park).
“The Apple” by artist Stephen Weiss in Hudson River Park
Artist Stephen Weiss was a New York born artist who had attended the Pratt Institute. He had worked for his family company and was the husband of designer, Donna Karan. He was known for his sculpture works (RoGallery).
When I walked the parks both North and South Coves in 2021, people were still having Graduation parties, small picnics and the restaurants had reopened both indoors and outdoors without masks. The parks, restaurants and lawns were really hopping that night.
From here it was following the path up to the North Cove of Battery Park City and the views of Jersey City. Each of the parks had unique landscaping and walkways that accented the buildings of the World Financial Center. It is hard to believe how damaged these were after the long days after 9/11. You would have never known with boats docked for dinner and people having picnics and wine in the shadows of these buildings.
I was pretty surprised as I walked through the park with more daylight time to spare that I came across what looked like an Egyptian Temple sitting in Battery Park. The sculpture building is entitled “The Upper Room” designed by artist Ned Smyth. This self-contained sculptural environment suggests a contemporary reimagining of an Egyptian temple offering a stylized sanctuary from the surrounding city (BPCA-NYC).
Mr. Smyth is an American born artist who born in NYC and works in NY. He has a BA from Kenyon College in Ohio. He is part of the Pattern and Design Movement of the 1970’s and known for his large-scale public works (Artist Bio/Artist Profile Bio).
As I started to pass some of the open air restaurants, I saw another piece of art that stood out which was a series of colored rings but could not get close enough to see the artist who created it. For another trip to the park.
The last piece of art that stood out to me on this trip through Battery Park was entitled “Days End” by artist David Hammons. It looked like the shell of an empty building and struck a nerve as the sun started to set on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. It is an ‘Open Air’ sculpture that explores the history of the neighborhood (Whitney Museum).
Mr. Hammons is an American born artist who studied at the Chouinard Art Institute (CalArts) and at Otis Art Institute. He is known for his Body Prints and sculpture work (Wiki/Artnet.com).
As the light started to fade in the evening as the sunset over Jersey City across the river, I started to fade too. I just singing to myself and kept encouraging myself to keep moving. I really wanted to finish even though my thighs were getting stiff, and my fingers looked like sausages. I was determined even though I wanted to stop. Every time I asked that question of myself I then said, ‘then why did I start the walk if I was not going to finish it?’
Passing the Jersey City waterfront in 2023
I stopped for a second to look at the sun setting in the backdrop of Jersey City and watched in wonder the beauty of it all. It is almost a reminder how much bigger the world is than us.
The Jersey City Waterfront at sunset in 2022
While I was walking through the parks, a few pieces of park sculpture stood out to me as I reached Hudson River Park in Chelsea. The long trek up Joe DiMaggio Highway made me more aware of my surroundings as I had to stop again. I came across the ‘Serpentine Sculptures’, these large twisting metal concoctions that graced the riverfront walkway.
These interesting, twisted sculptures are by American artist Mark Gabian who holds a BA in Art History and BFA in Sculpture from Cornell University (my Alma Mater!). Mr. Gabian’s sculptures can be seen all over the world. The artist has been quoted as saying he created monumental site-specific commissions in two or three dimensions’ (the artist’s website).
The last leg of the journey loomed in the distance as I saw the lights of the Hudson Yards in the distance like a mythical ‘Oz’ waiting for me. I saw the heliport and observation deck glittering in the distance and knew I had to reach it.
The Observation Deck and the glittering buildings are just a few blocks from the Port Authority Bus Terminal where my journey started, and I knew I was there. In 2020, I reached the Circle Line Pier again at 9:11pm in the evening and I celebrated by sitting on a boulder outside the ticket booth for fifteen minutes watching the security guard play on his cellphone. I did the same thing on the walk in July of 2022, but this time I made it at 8:55pm exactly fourteen hours after I stated.
I was not tired Per Se, but I was stiff all over. I could feel my thighs tighten up and my fingers and hands I had to shake several times to get proper circulation back into them. Still, I was not out of breath and was able to walk back to the Port Authority and make the 9:50pm bus out of New York City for home. I got home by 10:10pm almost sixteen hours later.
In 2020 and July of 2022, I walked the entire rim of Manhattan from top to bottom in fourteen hours. Not the twelve hours the Great Saunter Walk guide says but there is a lot more to it than just walking. You will need many bathroom, water and rest breaks along the way. Drink lots of water too. Still, it was a great walk and one for the blog!
In 2021, I arrived back at Hudson River Park at West 23rd Street just as the sun started to set over New Jersey and got to see the multi colors that were created in the sky. Mother Nature’s work of art for everyone to see.
I was not as tired on this trip as I had the year before. All that walking and training in Midtown Manhattan neighborhoods plus an overnight stay in the City to get an earlier start helped out tremendously. I finished the perimeter walk of the island in exactly fourteen hours, one hour more than 2020 but I stopped more times to admire public artworks, snack at restaurants and snack shops and walk through more parks and neighborhoods to see what was there. It was a more interesting trip where I did not rush it. I finished at 8:20pm in 2021.
For dinner that night, I stopped at Lions & Tigers & Squares at 268 West 23rd Street, where I had eaten many times for lunch after working at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen (which I had mentioned many times in this blog). The restaurant features Detroit style pizza where the cheese and sauce are baked into the sides of the pizza and there is no crust. It is a type of Sicilian pizza with a twist to it.
I treated myself to a sausage pizza which was loaded with fried sweet sausage, caramelized onions and they put a dash of maple syrup on top to add to the complexity. God was that delicious! There is so much flavor in each bite. I was not even planning on eating there but the pizza cook waved me inside and then sold me on it. I was lucky that he did!
Do not miss the Sausage Slice at Lions & Tigers & Squares
It was another great trip around the Island of Manhattan trying new restaurants and visiting old ones, viewing wonderful public art in the open-air art museum that New York City is, touring interesting parks and feeling like part of the neighborhood.
In both 2020 and July of 2022 because I had to start at West 42nd Street and it was so late, I just dragged myself home. Even going from the Circle Line to the Port Authority took its efforts. I was so stiff both times that it took some effort just to walk those blocks. In May of 2021 since we started at the Frances Tavern, I took the subway back to Port Authority and dragged my wet body home. In 2021, I had a lot more spring to my step and walked to the Port Authority.
I think spending the night in the City and starting at West 23rd Street was the best way of doing the walk. You are in the City to start and do not have to start so far uptown. It seems that the walk goes quicker when you start further downtown. You have a lot more energy in the morning and get the West Side done when you have the energy to finish it. You are not exhausted by the time you reach Battery Park.
For people who say that New York City is going downhill during COVID, I say to you walk the whole island and you will see the heart of the City is in the people who live here and the contributions they make to keep the City as great as it is. Remember there is more to Manhattan than just Midtown and Times Square. There is so much more to see!
For all its troubles, in 2022 I can see that the City is slowly starting to come back and there are more tourists visiting than before. Will it ever get back to 2019? Yes, but it will take some time. We will just have to learn to accept that COVID will be part of our lives and we will have to adapt to it. I am not going to let it dictate my life.
I dedicate these walks to my father, Warren Watrel, as my Father’s Day Gift of Remembrance. To my dad for all the wonderful afternoons we spent in New York City on Father’s Day. I felt you by my side that afternoon.
While I was walking around the Sutton East neighborhood on the border of Sutton Place and Turtle Bay, I came across Lin’s Gourmet Chinese Restaurant at 1097 Second Avenue. What looks like another run of the mill hole in the wall Chinese takeout place is anything but when it comes to the taste of their food and quality of the dishes.
What is nice is that they have a good lunch combination menu with a wide selection of dishes to choose from all in the $8.00 to $8.50 price range. Each of the lunch selections comes with a side of either pork fried, brown or white rice and a choice of soup or an eggroll. The portion sizes are quite large and it…
I came across Azalea & Oak when I was walking around Tudor City in the Turtle Bay neighborhood in New York. This unique and quirky store specializing in Women’s Accessories, jewelry and children’s clothing, gifts and stuffed toys was beautifully displayed and wonderful stocked with all sorts of handmade items. It is somewhat hidden in the Tudor City complex. I love their displays as well.
I was talking with one of the salespeople and she was telling me that the store had just been renovated from a flower shop into this new concept of a gift store. The owner is a former buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue and it shows in the selection of merchandise. Everything here is high quality.
The owner herself was the designer of the most of the jewelry in the shop…
I came across the Éclair Bakery when I was walking the Sutton Place neighborhood for my walking project, “MywalkinManhattan.com”. The bakery is on the side street of East 53rd Street close to Second Avenue on the border of the Sutton Place and Turtle Bay neighborhoods in an area some people in the neighborhood call “Sutton East”.
For all the confusion of what neighborhood it is in, Éclair Bakery is a rather large and narrow restaurant with seating in the front and back and the counter with all the baked goods in the middle. All the products here are lined up like colorful jewels in the display case.
The bakery selection
The bakery is the brainchild of Stephane Pourrez, a French Pastry chef from Paris. He was trained at Ferrandi and the French…