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 last week 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’ (ie 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.
Walking around the Island of Manhattan is no easy task. 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? I started my walk around the Island of Manhattan at the Circle Line Boat Pier where I celebrated last year’s birthday.
The Circle Line is where I spent last year’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.
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.
When you walk up past the Piers, 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.
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.
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.
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 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 NYCParks 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.
West Harlem Piers Park is a picturesque park
My review on TripAdvisor:
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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 “Tryon Hall” estate of C.K.G. Billings.
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.
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!
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.
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.
When you exit the pathways into the lawn area of the park, you are greeted by a giant boulder which is one of the most historic objects on the Island of Manhattan, the Shorrakopoch Rock. The rock is the legendary location of where Peter Minuit bought Manhattan from the Reckgawawang Indians for what is today $24.00 of household goods and trinkets.
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 NYCParks 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.
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.
The Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich at Park Terrace Deli is excellent!
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. 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.
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.
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 is 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 crossed the street and walked down Edgecomb Avenue on the upper side of Jackie Robinson Park. 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.
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 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).
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.
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 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 and 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.
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.
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 for a snack and a Coke. On a 84 degree day there is nothing like an ice cold Coke.
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.
The Chopped Cheese Sandwich
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.
I exited the park at West 111th Street and followed the overpass over FDR Drive and 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 Randalls-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.
I stayed at the park for about a fifteen minute. 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.
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.
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.
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 art work all over the country.
The United Nations Complex
I 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) so it was an adventure to see new views of the island. I stayed on this pathway until I got to the Battery.
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.
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.
Once I left the park, 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
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.
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 downtown’s in city’s that needed revitalizing. 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. I passed through the Seaport by 6:48pm.
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 motor boats enjoying the early evening. It was now 7:15pm and I had been travelling since noon.
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.
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.
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.
I left Battery Park at 7:30pm and followed a crowd of people out of the park. 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
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.
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?’
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
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 Hudson Yards in Chelsea
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. 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 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.
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 then 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!
I dedicate this walk to my father, Warren Watrel, as my Father’s Day Gift of Remembrance.
When I finally finished walking Sutton and Beekman Places, I finally decided to take the long walk down Broadway that I had planned for two years. As you can see by the blog, I like to take one neighborhood or section of the City at a time and concentrate on getting to know it. What is the history of the neighborhood? What is there now? Who are the shop keepers and the restaurant owners? What is the neighborhood association doing to improve the area? I like to become part of the neighborhood when I walk around it.
But recently I have noticed people on the Internet have been posting that they walked the entire length of Broadway and bragged about it like they were ‘performing brain surgery’. So I put aside my next walk and decided to see what the fuss was about walking up and down Broadway. I am not sure about everyone else but it was a long trip that took a little over eight hours and I highly recommend the exercise. It was a lot of fun and I felt terrific afterwards. The walk goes by very quickly.
I got to visit neighborhoods that I had not seen in about two to three years. The most striking thing I had discovered especially walking through Harlem and Washington Heights is how many of the old businesses I had either passed or had eaten at had closed. Just like the rest of the City, these areas are going through a lot of change and are being gentrified. It seems like the college campus neighborhoods are leading the way especially around Columbia’s new campus above 125th Street and SUNY between 145th Street to 130th Street. The shifts in neighborhoods are changing very fast and more and more buildings are under scaffolding or being knocked down and replaced.
Since the walk down Broadway from 242nd Street to Bowling Green Park is so extensive, I will not go into the intense detail of historical sites and parks along the way. More detail can be found on my sister sights, VisitingaMuseum.com, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com. On these three sites I will discuss more on each site and a more detailed history. More information on each neighborhood can be found section by section of Manhattan on my blog, MywalkinManhattan.com.
With the COVID-1 pandemic going on especially the months from March to July 2020 when the City started to reopen for business, I wanted to see how Manhattan has changed in just six months and the findings were pretty shocking. It was like someone put Manhattan into a time machine and brought us back to 1989 or 1990. I felt like I went through a time warp.
Now New York City admittingly was having its problems with the cost of apartments and rents on stores but this is something different. The mood of the City has changed from optimism to walking the streets being scared again. I have not seen this since the Dinkin’s Administration when it was dangerous to walk the streets during the day and night and all the racial problems in Crown Heights. It just seems that the progress of the last thirty years has been wiped out in a few months. I was pretty shocked at the changed I saw while walking down Broadway.
I also have been tired of the controversy with statues all over the United States so I decided to take a better look at all the public artworks along Broadway and feature in more detail the statues, their meaning and their artists. We should not be wiping out our history but have dialogue about it.
The History of Broadway:
Broadway itself as an Avenue has a very interesting history. Broadway is the English-language literal translation of the Dutch name, ‘Brede-wey’. Broadway was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail that was carved into brush of Manhattan by the Native American inhabitants. ‘Wickquasgeck means “birch-bark country” in Algonquian language. The trail originally snaked through swamps and rocks along the length of Manhattan island (Wiki).
Manhattan in Colonial Times
When the Dutch arrived, the trail became the main road through the island with the colony of Nieuw Amsterdam at the southern tip. The word ‘Brede-wey’ was translated when the British took possession of the island they changed the name to ‘Broadway’. Known in the past as ‘Broadway Street’, ‘Kingsbridge Road’ and ‘Bloomingdale Road’ in parts around the island, it officially became ‘Broadway’ in 1899 when the whole street from the top of Manhattan to the bottom was named for one long road (Wiki).
The entire length of Broadway through Manhattan from Inwood to the Battery is 13 miles and the length in the Bronx is 2 miles. There is an additional 18 miles that runs through Westchester County all the way to Sleepy Hollow, NY where it ends. I just concentrated on the subway route from the 242nd Street Subway exit to the Bowling Green at the tip of Manhattan.
The walks down Broadway:
I started my mornings in 2019 and 2020 at 5:30am getting up and stretching. The sun shined in my room and that was a good start to the day. The weather was going to be in the high 70’s with a touch of clouds and the weather really cooperated. I got into New York City at 8:15am and started my day with breakfast at my favorite deli in the Garment District, 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli (or Juniors AM-PM Deli as it also known by (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com)
What I love about 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli is the generous portions at a very fair price. I started one day with a French Toast platter ($4.99). I had four very nice sized slices of French Toast that were nicely caramelized and just a hint of cinnamon. On my second time on the walk, I ate here again ordering one of their Hungry Man Hero’s ($9.75), which is three eggs, potatoes, ham, bacon and sausage on a soft hero roll with mayo. Ladened with calories yes but taste wise wonderful. It had all the calories and carbs for a 15 mile walk.
It is always nice to grab one of the stools and eat by the window and watch the world go by. Just remember to get here early before all the construction workers from the Hudson Yards come over for their half hour union break. Then it really gets busy.
9th Avenue AM-PM Deli
After breakfast, it was off to Times Square to take the Number One Subway up to 242nd Street-Van Cortland Park stop to start the walk. Manhattan actually starts lower than that but on such a nice day, I thought it would be nice to start at the very top of the subway route.
On the trip to Van Cortlandt Park in 2020, the subway was practically empty. There were about five of us on the car and the funny thing was that people sat near one another on an empty car. So much for socially distancing from people. They all sat near me!
I had not been to the Van Cortlandt House Museum (See VisitingaMuseum.com and TripAdvisor for my reviews) since right after the holidays to see the house decorations and not seen the park ever in the warmer months.
Van Cortlandt House Museum in Van Cortlandt Park
I got to my destination at 9:00am and had to go to the bathroom. What is nice about Van Cortlandt Park is that the public bathrooms are right near the subway exit and there is another set right next to the Van Cortlandt House Museum so that is covered when you enter the neighborhood.
Make sure to take a bathroom break now because the options get slimmer until about 207th Street at the Ann Loftus Playground. The bathrooms were even cleaner in 2020 with new park regulations for COVID-19 so the hand sanitizers were all full and the hand blowers were fixed. That was nice.
I started my adventure by walking into the park and visiting the museum grounds. Van Cortlandt Park is a beautiful park that was once the Van Cortlandt estate. The last time I had been here was to tour the house for Christmas and to see the decorations. The house is much nicer in the Summer months with the gardens in bloom. The house was closed when I got to the park so I just walked around the grounds to stretch a bit and admire the foliage. It was nice to see the trees with leaves on them and the gardens surrounding the house were in full bloom (the house is closed for COVID-19 as well for touring).
Van Cortlandt Park
Don’t miss when exiting the park to stop and see Memorial Grove, a small section of the park dedicated to 21 servicemen who gave their lives in World War. There are twenty-one oak trees that were planted by the graves which are now fully grown. It is a somber but quiet place to reflect on what these men gave for our country.
Memorial Grove Park inside Van Cortlandt Park
Also, take a peek at the statue of General Josiah Porter, a Civil War hero who is memorialized just outside the entrance to Van Cortlandt Mansion. This elegant statue was created by artist William Clarke Nobel in 1902. He was commissioned by the National Guard Association of New York to create the statue and it was placed in front of the parade grounds inside Van Cortlandt Park.
General Porter lead the 22nd Regiment of the National Guard of New York during the Civil War . His contributions to the war effort helped the North win. After the war, he had been promoted to Colonel in 1869 and then was promoted again 1886 to Major General, the highest ranking position in the New York National Guard (NYCParks.org).
General Josiah Porter in front of the Van Cortlandt Mansion
This is the reason why I started at the Van Cortlandt Mansion. To the see the condition of statues along the route of Broadway. There are so many historical monuments on the way down that I wanted to note them in the updated blog.
Once I left the park, I started the walk on the west side of Broadway and the plan was to walk the west side the first day and then the east side the second time so that I could see the buildings along the way and see what restaurants had opened, closed and what looked interesting. Plus where to find public bathrooms along the way. This was the interesting part of the walk was trying to find bathrooms when you needed them.
Since I have visited most of the neighborhoods already from 59th Street up to the tip of Inwood and wrote about historical sites, buildings, gardens and museums that I have visited along the way in other blogs, I won’t be mentioning these in as much detail as you can see them in other entries.
I will refer to the other sites DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com, VisitingaMuseum.com and other entries of MywalkinManhattan.com for more details to read on each neighborhood.
Also to make the walk more enjoyable and include all the wonderful places to visit and see along the way, I will be blending both days experiences into one blog so I can make stopping points that visitors should take time to see. Both walks took just over eight hours and please watch the humidity. There was a big difference doing this walk in 70 degree weather versus 85 degree weather with humidity.
I needed more liquids in me and more time to sit down. suggestion after four trips down this route is two water bottles frozen the night before. This way they melt on route and you always have cold water until you hit the next park. This makes all the walking easier. Still it was great exercise and you will never be bored.
When I passed the entrance of Van Cortlandt Park by Van Cortlandt Avenue, another statue at the entrance of the park caught my eye. It was of a coyote guarding the front entrance. It seems that coyotes were wild back then and are still being seen today in the park system.
The statue known as “Major Coyote” is a symbol of coyote sightings in the park as late as 1995. This statue guards the main entrance and gardens of the park.
The Coyote Plaque
Once I left Van Cortlandt Park, I walked through Twin Oaks Square, a small park outside the park which is a nicely landscaped. It is picturesque and looking at from the street gives a beautiful entrance way to the park.
I continued walking down through the commercial district of the Bronx along the Broadway corridor which is loaded with chain stores and malls of all sorts. So much for people saying the Bronx is dead. There was so much shopping going on that you never had to leave for the suburbs to find a chain store. This part of the walk was still vibrant proving that the chain stores still have the staying power.
At each subway stop station I did notice clusters of small family run businesses and here you can find some interesting restaurants and pizzerias. There are a lot of family run bakeries as well but none that stood out. The fact that the area was still so vibrant in 2020 showed the resilience of the area.
When you reach the edge of Marble Hill (the Northern most part of Manhattan), you will pass the Marble Hill Houses. I had more whistles and yells when I passed the projects on my many trips in the neighborhood. I am not sure what about me screams cop. Even so as I walked in the front walks of the houses I noticed that the residents were growing gardens that were part of the ‘Outer Seed Project’, a program of growing crops on the projects lawns. I thought it will be interesting when everything gets harvested.
It was when you will cross the bridge at 225th Street in the Bronx to the tip of Manhattan in Inwood is where it all starts to change as you enter the northern Columbia University campus and pass the football stadium.
The Columbia University ‘C’ when you exit Marble Hill and go over the bridge to the Island of Manhattan
The interesting part of this part of Inwood is that on tip of Manhattan is nothing at the end of it. Here we have bus stations, garage trucks and delivery vans. This is one of the most commercial parts of Manhattan I have ever seen outside parts of the Garment District. The area has been rezoned so there will be a lot more changes up here in the future. Once you cross the bridge from the Bronx, you feel the difference in the neighborhoods depending on what side of Broadway you are on.
Crossing the bridge means that you have entered Columbia University territory and to the right is Columbia Stadium which is pretty much shut down this time of year. There were some football players on the field but the Ivy League season starts later so it was not that busy. On my second trip down the east side of Broadway, I made two pit stops in Inwood past the stadium that I think tourists and residents alike should see. During my trip pass the college in 2020, everything is locked tight. Columbia University’s football season I believe has been cancelled.
Still there are a lot of sites to see around Inwood Hill Park. The first is Muscato Marsh at 575 West 218th Street (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com)right behind Columbia Stadium that faces the shores of Marble Hill. This interesting marsh is one of the few in the City and one of the only ones in Manhattan that I know of and it is a great place to just sit and relax.
Muscato Marsh at 575 West 218th Street
The Muscato Marsh is right next to the Columbia Boathouse where their rowing team set their boats off and right next to the Columbia Football stadium. On a sunny morning or afternoon it is a nice place to just sit back and watch the boaters and people on jet ski’s zoom by. It is nice to just sit by the flowers and relax. There were a lot of local residents relaxing in the park on all afternoons that I visited.
If you want to walk a little further into Inwood Park, visit the Shorakkopoch Rock the place where it has been said that Peter Minuit had bought the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans. This is where a three hundred year old tulip tree had once stood and legend stated that the event had taken place under a tulip tree in clearing on the island. No one is too sure if this is the right place but to really understand the history of Manhattan. this is the spot where to begin.
Shorakkopoch Rock the site of the purchase of Manhattan Island by Peter Minuit
On the way of exploring Broadway, I followed the path of artwork by artist Nicolas Holiber and his bird sculptures that lined Broadway similar to the art by Joy Brown and Bernadette Myers. So traveling from 165th Street to 59th Street searching for bird artwork. There were still a few of the sculptures still up during the Summer of 2020 but no one seemed to notice them.
As I left Inwood Park, I watched as kids participating in Summer camps were playing games and running around in 2019. Parts of the park were closed to reseeding so you can see that money was being put into the park and renovations were starting.
As I walked down Broadway the few times I have visited the area since my initial walk in 2015, I have noticed so many businesses open and close which is almost a epidemic all over Manhattan. Broadway for almost the entire length is no different. I had recently read an article about Borough President Gale Brewer walking the length of Broadway in Manhattan and saying that about 200 store fronts were empty. This is not good and is showing what is going on not just in the economy but how the landlords are beginning to gouge small businesses with rent increases. So many small Dominican businesses I have watched close to be replaced by Hipster restaurants who are also not making it with these rent increases.
In the Summer of 2020, what a difference a year makes. The COVID-19 pandemic and the stalling of the economy has changed the neighborhoods along Broadway even more. I have never so many businesses close along the route both Mom & Pop and chain stores alike. It looks almost like the Upper West Side of the early 1990’s with all the empty store fronts and a lot more homeless milling around the area.
Still there are many businesses that are thriving along the Broadway corridor and a lot of great restaurants to stop and visit along the way. Even after a big breakfast, I needed to take snack breaks along the way and the restaurants in the Washington Heights area are reasonable and have great travel food.
My first stop after visiting the Muscato Marsh was Twin Donut at 5099 Broadway (currently closed during the COVID-19 pandemic) for a donut and a bathroom break. You will need to know which public bathrooms are good along the way and for the price of a donut is was well worth the visit. Their donuts are around a $1.75 depending on the type but go for one of their jelly or custard filled. They are really good. This is one of the first places I visit during the Cornell/Columbia Football games.
As you are traveling down Broadway, take some time to walk the side streets into the heart of ‘Little Dominica’, Inwood’s Dominican community of stores, restaurants and bakeries. The first stop should be walking down 207th Street to the subway stop on 10th Avenue. While the street is full of all sorts of restaurants, stop at the street vendors for fresh juice and pastilitos, the Dominican version of the empanadas. These usually run about $1.00. There are all sorts of street vendors selling their wares along the sidewalks. On my second trip down I stopped at a vendor for fresh chicken pastilitos and there is nothing like them when they are just out of the fryer.
As I traveled through Inwood, I stopped at the Dyckman Family Farmhouse (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), which is the oldest home on the Island of Manhattan. The Dyckman Farmhouse was built in 1785 and was once part of a 250 acre that stretched to the tip of Inwood. The house now sits on a bluff overlooking Broadway and Washington Heights on about an acre of land. The house is still impressive to walk through and when you have time, take the formal walking tour of the home and hear about the history of how the farm worked and about the Dyckman family (the site is currently closed during COVID-19).
The Dyckman Family Farmhouse at 4881 Broadway
As you pass the Dyckman House and walk south also take a side trip down Dyckman Avenue to visit more Dominican restaurants, bakeries and stores from Broadway to Nagle Avenue. There are some interesting places to have a snack but again check out the street vendors first especially on the weekends when the weather is nice. More people are out walking around.
When you cross Dyckman Street, Ann Loftus Playground at 4746 Broadway (named after a local community leader) will be to the right and there are nice public bathrooms and water fountains here. There are also benches under shade trees to sit under and on a warm day, their are vendors selling Dominican ices for $1.00. Go for the mango/cherry or the rainbow. On a hot day, they are very refreshing.
Ann Loftus Playground at 4746 Broadway
Ann Loftus Playground is part of the extensive Fort Tyron Park that runs from Riverside Drive to Broadway from Dyckman Street to 190th Street. If you want to take a walk through the park, not only are there beautiful views of the Hudson River along the stone paths but it leads up to The Cloisters Museum at 99 Margaret Corbin Drive which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that features Medieval Art including the ‘Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries.
The Cloisters and Fort Tyron Park
The park also has many colorful flower gardens and paths along the river with amazing views. There is a lot of walking up and down hills in Fort Tyron Park but trust me the views are breathtaking and the paths lead to amazing gardens and lawns. There are also nice public bathrooms to stop at here. When I visited the park in 2020, the NYC Parks Department has issued new cleanliness standards for the bathrooms so they were much cleaner on this trip with soap and working hand blowers. I would find this in all bathrooms along the route.
As you leave the park and continue walking down Broadway, you will be in the heart of Washington Heights so on a warm day expect to see people sitting on the benches socializing, playing checkers and dominoes and listening to music. There is a lot of life on these sidewalks.
As you pass Fort Tyron Park, take a peak at the street art work inside the 190th Street Station and take some time to walk the corridor. It is its own museum in constant change and the street taggers do some interesting work.
The subway station at 190th Street
When walking into the streets between 187th and 160th, there are some wonderful Spanish restaurants catering mostly to Dominican families but the menus are extensive and the prices are reasonable. There are a lot of restaurants especially clustered around the George Washington Bridge Depot.
I stopped for breakfast and lunch at the Chop Cheese Deli at 4234 Broadway. Having eaten breakfast at 5:45am, I was hungry for another breakfast and could not decide what I wanted to eat. So I ordered both the Egg and Cheese on a roll ($2.95) and their signature Chopped Cheese on a roll ($4.95). Both were really good but the Chopped Cheese should have shredded lettuce not chopped lettuce so it was a little soggy but still good. The deli’s prices are excellent and there is nothing over $10.00 in the hot foods menu.
The Chopped Cheese on a roll here is really good
As you walk further down the shopping district there are more good and reasonable restaurants. Two standouts that I highly recommend are La Dinastia at 4059 Broadway for Dominican Chinese food and 5 Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for pastries, pastilitos and all sorts of hot snacks.
The restaurant row around 181st Street
La Dinastia has a reasonable lunch menu and I recommend having the Chicken Cracklings, a type of batter fried chicken patty with their Special Fried Rice which contains shrimp, sausage, eggs and vegetables (See review on TripAdvisor). A lunch special here can run about $12.00 with a Coke and tip and you will be full for the rest of the afternoon.
La Dinastia Chicken Cracklings and Special Fried Rice
Before you leave this area, check out the former Coliseum Cinema on the corner of Broadway and 181st Street before they tear it down. It was built in 1920 as an old vaudeville theater and famous actors including the Marx Brothers and Harold Lloyd performed there. The building is slated for demolition due to its structure concerns and will be replaced by housing and a retail mall. In 2020, a church group is now using it.
The Coliseum Theater at 181st & Broadway has interesting detail work
I noticed that on my trip in 2020 that the shopping districts in Washington Heights have been devastated by the COVID-19 crisis. I saw a lot of closed and empty businesses in the 207th and 181st shopping districts and a lot of popular delis and stores have closed along the Broadway corridor of Washington Heights. This made the lines at the places that were still open even longer.
There is a small park across from the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Mitchell Square, at the corners of Broadway and St. Nichols Avenue at 168th Street, that features the Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. It was dedicated in 1922 for members of the community who fought in WWI. I found it very touching. It features two soldiers assisting another wounded one.
Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Also check out some of the Dominican bakeries in the area. 5 Star Estrella Bakery is near the corner of 161st Street and Broadway. Everything at the bakery is delicious and I have never had one bad thing to eat here (See reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).
Their chicken and beef pastelitos are cooked perfectly and stuff full of filling ($1,50), their doughnuts are light and slathered in thick icing ($1.00) and their cinnamon buns ($2.00) are the best. They are light, chewy and sugary. Another item that stands out is a type of potato croquette that is filled with meat ($1.50). If they are available, grab one. Totally delicious!
The Cinnamon Swirl pastry here is excellent
The lines in 2020 were the longest I have ever seen with about 15 people waiting outside for service. I had a Raisin Swirl doughnut ($2.00) and a chewy fried doughnut ($2.00) which I ate on the way down Broadway.
Don’t miss 5 Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for snacks
As you reach the small pocket park at 157th Street, you will come across the first piece of Broadway Art by artist Nicolas Holiber for his “Birds on Broadway” Audubon Sculpture Project exhibit which is a partnership he has with Broadway Mall Association, NYC Parks, NYC Audubon and the Gitler Gallery. These interesting sculptures bring attention to birds species that are endangered by climate change. These birds are either native to New York or do a fly by when in season. They are made of 100% reclaimed or recycled wood (Nicolas Holiber website).
The Wood Duck by artist Nicolas Holiber (the sculpture is still up in 2020)
The first sculpture on the walk that I saw was the Wood Duck. It was an interesting piece that unfortunately was being walked on by a couple of kids that did not seem to know the significance of the work. These rustic pieces really do stand out though and I like the write ups with each one which gives a short story on each bird.
As you pass the sculpture and continue south to the right is the Audubon Terrace at 155th Street and Broadway, which is home to Boricua College, the Hispanic Society of America Museum (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which is currently closed for renovation and the American Academy of Arts & Letters (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which just recently closed and is only open twice a year to exhibitions. Both museums are only open at select times of the year so you have to visit their websites for more information.
The American Academy of Arts & Letters at 633 West 155th Street
The Hispanic Society of America at 615 West 155th Street
(Both museums are currently closed in 2020)
The college abuts the Trinity Church Cemetery that holds the graves of many prominent New Yorkers including John Jacob Astor IV and Mayor Ed Koch. It is interesting to walk along the paths of the cemetery during the day and look at the historic tombstones. When visiting the grave of Mayor Koch, be prepared to find lots of stones along the grave site as a sign of respect for the dead. Take some time out when visiting the cemetery to pay your respects to one of New York City’s greatest mayors.
As you pass the borders of 155th Street into Harlem there is a distinct change in the street life. It is a lot quieter when you reach the borders of Washington Heights and Harlem. There are less people on the sidewalks here. In Washington Heights, there is music on the side walks, families playing games and men debating issues. It is a lot quieter I noticed when you cross the 155th Street border between the neighborhoods.
There is also a difference in the types of restaurants and shopping as slowly CUNY is starting to spread its wings and more businesses catering to students and faculty are opening in this area.
The next stop was to see Nicolas Holiber’s Snowy Owl at 148th Street. This was one of the more whimsical pieces in the exhibit and was unique with its outlaying wings.
The Snowy Owl by artist Nicolas Holiber at 148th Street
My next stop for a snack was at Olga’s Pizza at 3409 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor). Olga’s I had just stumbled across as I had a craving for a slice and the pizza is delicious. The secret to a good pizza is a fresh tasting and well spiced sauce and Olga’s hits both marks on this. It is a little pricey at $2.50 a slice but she is catering to the CUNY students who venture from campus to the restaurants on Broadway for meals. I got to meet Olga herself in the pizzeria who was working alongside of her parents and she seemed please that I liked her pizza so much (Olga’s Pizza is closed in 2020).
To the right of Olga’s just down the block is Montefiore Park, which is always a nice place to take a break and sit down to rest under the trees. It is a real mixture of neighborhood families, college students and teenagers who are eating at the local McDonald’s or one of the food trucks that line the park in the warmer months. Just north of the park at 139th Street is the third sculpture in the Nicolas Holiber exhibit, the Hooded Merganser.
The Hooded Merganser by artist Nicolas Holiber at 136th Street (still here in 2020)
One surprising thing I found at the corner of Broadway and 135th Street was a Pediatric office that housed in the front of it the Martinez Gallery at 3332 Broadway. The gallery features in the front waiting room an array of street art. This was interesting for a doctor’s office.
The inside artwork at the Martinez Gallery. Very unassuming doctor’s office
Once you pass 135th Street, you enter the new extension of the Columbia University campus and because of the growth of the campus to this section of Harlem especially around the 125th Street corridor, it is changing fast. I have never seen so many new restaurants and shops going up right across the street from the Manhattanville Housing Projects. It is becoming a real extreme in this part of the neighborhood.
Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus that stretches from 125th to 130th Streets
Once you cross 125th Street on this part of Broadway, you enter Morningside Heights and the home of Columbia University. This part of 125th Street and Broadway has really changed since I started the walk of the island. There is a more established ‘Restaurant Row” that stretches from 125th Street to 122nd Street on Broadway that contains such restaurants as LaSalle Dumplings at 3141 Broadway (currently moving to West 113th Street as of this writing in 2020) and Bettolona at 3143 Broadway that I have tried in previous entries on this blog and check them out on my blog on Morningside Park. They are both excellent and I highly recommend them.
As soon I arrived on the Columbia University campus at 125th Street the mood of Broadway changed again from the streets of Harlem to a collegiate atmosphere. Don’t miss a break at the Columbia University commons around 116th Street. It is a lot of fun when school is in session and even during these quiet times of the summer, there still is a lot of energy here. It is a nice place to gather your thoughts and relax.
What is also nice is all the food trucks outside the commons that cater to the Asian students. You can get fresh dumplings, pork pancakes, noodle dishes and fresh soups for very reasonable prices and you can relax in the commons on a nice day and enjoy your lunch (these were gone when school was not in session in 2020).
Right next to the campus on East 117th street is the third in Nicolas Holiber’s sculptures, the Common Goldeneye. This is one of the nicer locations for the work as there is plenty of seating in much less congested area of Broadway. You can sit back and just admire the work.
The Common Goldeneye by artist Nicolas Holiber at 117th Street
After taking a break in the commons and watching the summer students reading and chatting amongst themselves or so involved in their cell phones that they would not look up at a zombie attack. Still it is a nice place to take a break and relax on the stone benches. The commons is open to the public but with school out and many people out of the City, it was really quiet. I just like to find a shady spot and look at the buildings and let life pass by.
The Columbia University Commons is open and a nice place to relax
I headed back to Broadway to cross into the Upper West Side. It is amazing how everything between 125th and 110th have changed over the past few months and even from 110th to 100th Streets the changes have been constant in a twenty year period. Businesses are opening and closing at a rapid rate and with the students gone from campus and may not come back for the Fall of 2020, it will hurt the area more. The locals though are filling the outdoor dining and making due masks and all.
When you need to take a break from the heat, Straus Park which is between 107th and 106th Streets. This shady and well landscaped little pocket park was name after Isidor and Ida Straus who were once the owners of Macy’s and died in the Titanic sinking. The park’s beautiful fountain is centered in the park with the statue “Memory” by artist Augustus Lukeman and architect Evarts Tracy who designed the statue and fountain and dedicated it in 1915.
The Statue “Memory” by Augustus Lukeman in Straus Park
Artist Augustus Lukeman was an American born artist from Virginia and raised in New York who studied at the National Academy of Design and Cooper Union with continued studies in Europe and at Columbia University. He was known for his historical monuments (Wiki).
There is a beautiful memorial to them in the park. Friends of the Park maintain it with the city so it is always beautifully planted. On a hot day, it is such a nice place to take a break and since The Friends of Straus Park maintain it, the gardens and statuary is always in perfect shape.
Straus Park at 107th Street
Look close or you will miss it is the ‘Art for Art Sake’ dedication to Duke Ellington on the Broadway Island on West 106th Street. The work is done in tiles and you have to look down to see the work as it on the bottom park of the cement island facing the bench. I guess most people miss this interesting piece of street art.
One of my favorite bakeries in Manhattan is located right near the park at West 105th Street and Broadway, Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I love coming here for all the creative pastries and buns that the bakery created and I have the most delicious blueberry danish ($3.50) and cinnamon bun ($3.25) for a snack.
Don’t be shy in this bakery and try several items. Everything I have ever ate there was wonderful. With so many businesses closing in the City, when I walked Broadway in 2020, the lines were out the door. People obviously needed comfort food in these troubling times.
Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway
When I got to 103rd Street, I saw the next part of the Birds on Broadway exhibit with the Double Crested Cormorant that stood proud on the Broadway island looking over the neighborhood.
The Double crested Cormorant by artist Nicolas Holiber at 103rd Street
Another little pizzeria that you might miss is Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food is really reasonable and their personal pizza ($5.00) and pizza special (Two slices and a Coke for $5.00) are a real steal and their sauce is delicious and so well spiced (the restaurant is still open but with new owners and prices as of 2020).
Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway
When you finally cross over past West 100th Street, you enter the Upper West Side which has been extensively traveled on this blog. There are dozens of shops and restaurants that line Broadway on this stretch of Broadway and sadly a lot of empty store fronts. This seems to be an epidemic all over the City with landlords jacking up rents every month. It really is changing this stretch of Broadway. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped matters in this area as businesses are closing left and right.
At West 96th Street and Broadway is the next “Birds on Broadway” piece, the “Brant Goose”. This part of Broadway enters into the traditional boundaries of the Upper West Side and there are many changes along this stretch of Broadway as well. It was almost like the mood in 2020 harked back to 1989 or 1990 with the store closures and the homeless taking over the streets.
The Brant Goose at West 96th Street
When walking on Broadway in the West 80’s, don’t miss walking through Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway near 80th Street. It is fun to wander around the store and smell the aromas of cheese, olives, freshly baked breads and chocolate. Don’t miss their cafe at the corner of West 80th Street (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). There is a nice assortment of pastries and soups at a reasonable price and on certain days they have specials that are reasonably price. They have the most delicious pastries and pan pizza. In the summer of 2020, the cafe was closed because of the pandemic but the supermarket part was still open for business.
Zabar’s Cafe is the original place where Zabar’s started at 2245 Broadway
You will also see the next sculpture by Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street, the “American Brittern”, which stands majestically on Broadway.
“The American Brittern” by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street
Still when you reach the West 70’s there are many beautiful apartment buildings that I admired that were built at the turn of the last century when builders were trying to woo the wealthy in the late 1890’s to the early 1900’s. The area itself is going through building boom and is changing all the time. At West 79th Street, look to the Broadway island again to see Nicolas Holiber’s “Scarlet Tanager” sculpture. These playful little birds are fun to look at.
The Scarlet Tanager by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 86th Street
Broadway has a series of churches that are really beautiful in design and in the details like the stone work and the stained glass windows. One church that stands out is the First Baptist Church 265 West 79th Street. It was built between 1890-93 and was designed by architect George M. Keister. The large window facing Broadway depicts Christ as the center of the New Testament Church (Wiki).
Some of the apartment buildings are quite spectacular. The Apthorp Apartments at 390 West End Avenue (that stretches back to Broadway) is one of the most beautiful enclosed buildings with an elegant courtyard in the center. This building was built in 1908 and is the largest type of apartment of its kind in New York City. If you can take a peek inside the gates it is worth it.
The Ansonia Apartments at 2109 Broadway is one of the biggest and grandest of the Victorian age apartment buildings on the Upper West Side. Built between 1899 and 1904 the outside of the building is studded with beautiful stone work, interesting torrents and a Mansard roof. Take time to walk around the building and admire the stonework.
Another building that stands out in the neighborhood is the Dorilton Apartments at 171 West 71st Street that was built in 1902. This elegant building is in the Beaux-Arts style and is another building that sets the tone for this part of the neighborhood.
This is where the Upper West Side has changed so much. This area has become so expensive and the once notorious “Needle Park” Sherman Square is now a nicely landscaped park with a coffee vendor and young mothers with strollers. It is amazing how the City just keeps changing itself.
Sherman Square; the once “Needle Park”
Right by the subway stop at West 72nd Street is the next sculpture the “Peregrine Falcon”.
“The Peregrine Falcon” at West 72nd Street
Once you pass the borders of West 72nd Street, you will begin to see the magic of former Parks Director and major City Planner, Robert Moses. In the mid-1960’s, the City decided the area was dilapidated and pretty much leveled the neighborhood to build the Lincoln Center complex and branches of the local colleges so you will see more modern architecture on the western side of Broadway.
By the time you get to West 67th Street, you will see Julliard School, some of the buildings in the Lincoln Center complex and then Lincoln Center itself between West 65th and West 62nd Streets. On a theater night, the complex is so full energy and it is always a nice trip to see the ballet, opera or the philharmonic. The groundbreaking for this complex was in 1959 with President Eisenhower present and the complex was developed between 1962 and 1966 with current renovations still occurring in 2005. Take time to walk the courtyard and admire the fountains and the artwork that are around the buildings.
Ettore Ximenes was an Italian born artist who studied at the Palermo Academy of Fine Arts and the Naples Academy. His works captured the themes of Realism and Neo-Renaissance. He was also known for his big commissioned works.
This beautiful little pocket park sits across from Lincoln Center and has been a place to relax on my walks down Broadway. This is also the location of the last sculpture on the “Birds on Broadway” tour, the “Red Necked Grebe with Chicks”. This whimsical piece shows the mother grebe with her little ones on her back.
The Red Necked Grebe with Chicks by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 64th Street
During the 2020 walk down Broadway, Lincoln Center has been closed down for all performances for the rest of the 2020 season and not slated to open up until 2021. Because of the riots in the City in early June, the complex has been cordoned off and you can only walk through the complex to the fountain. It is surreal how empty this seems for a complex normally full of either arts patrons and tourists. Even the fountain in the middle of the complex was not at full capacity.
As you head down Broadway, you will reach the Time Warner Building with its upscale shops and restaurants and Columbus Circle with its impressive statue of Christopher Columbus and the soaring fountains that surround it. This is one of the best places in Manhattan to just sit back and relax and people watch. The statue was recently part of a controversy on statues of specific people and history and happily that seems to have gone away for now. This is because of the twenty police vans and high police presence on Columbus Circle.
The Time Warner Building in Columbus Circle is heavily guarded now
Since the Trump World Hotel and the famous statue of Christopher Columbus are located in the same spot, it is a lot more difficult to walk around here and the NYPD is on guard in this area of the city. In 2020, rioters have been tearing down statues of Christopher Columbus in parks across the nation so now monuments all over the United States have been protected.
Columbus Circle at West 59th Street
The famous statue of Christopher Columbus dedicated in Columbus Circle and the start of the annual Christopher Columbus Parade in Manhattan was designed by artist Gaetano Russo, the famous Italian artist for the 400 anniversary of the discovery of America in 1892. A procession from Little Italy to Columbus Circle of over 10,000 lined the streets for this gift from the Italian community to the City of New York (Wiki)
The statue of Christopher Columbus right next to the Time Life Building in the background
Artist Gaetano Russo
Gaetano Russo is an Italian born artist who studied at the Academia del Belle Arti whose works in historical sculpture were well known. The statue of Christopher Columbus in New York is one of the most famous of his works.
On the other side of the Columbus Circle when making the left is the Maine Monument by artist Attilio Piccirilli. The monument is a dedication to the victims of the USS Maine which was the navel disaster that started the Spanish American War. You really have to look at the details all around the statue for a full appreciation
The most interesting part of the statue is the stone figures that flank the front of the monument that are noted to be “The Antebellum State of Mind: Courage awaiting the flight of Peace and fortitude supporting the Feeble” which gives the meaning that peace still could have reigned before war was declared (Diane Durant article on the Maine Monument).
Attilio Piccirilli was an Italian born American artist who worked for his family’s company Piccirilli Brothers in the Bronx as a sculptor, stone carver and modeler. He is known for many historical monuments.
As you pass Columbus Circle and enter into Midtown Manhattan, notice to the south the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle. This innovative little museum has the top floors of the building has a interesting exhibition of “Punk Rock” art and music going on right now. (See my write up on it on VisitingaMuseum.com.)
Museum of Arts & Design at 2 Columbus Circle
Punk Rock Exhibition
One building that needs to be noted on the way down to Times Square is the Brill Building at 1619 Broadway. Built in 1931 by builder Abraham E. Lefcourt the building was originally known as the Alan E. Lefcourt Building and got its current name from a haberdasher store front in the building. The building was known to play a major role in the music industry housing music studios and music company offices. Performers such as Carole King and Burt Bacharach had their offices here (Wiki).
The crowds get larger the closer you come to the 42nd Street Mall. This part of Broadway near the TKTS for Broadway shows becomes crowded as these four blocks of Times Square is now an open air mall with seating and loads of costume characters who beg for pictures and money with tourists. It has gotten really crowded and annoying and the quicker you get through it the better. This is where the Ball drops on New Year’s Eve and you can see it up above the One Times Square building.
One Times Square Building where ‘the ball’ drops on New Years Eve.
Still get through Times Square, especially on a Saturday or Sunday as quick as possible. Even in 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis, tourist still flock to this area. I think people like the energy.
Times Square by the TKTS booth and the Marriott Marquis to the right
The one thing that is important to know is that the bathrooms at the Marriott Marquis at 1535 Broadway are free and it is a good pit stop before heading further downtown. They are located on the Eighth floor and are clean and very nice. They also have some good restaurants in the hotel like the Broadway Bar (See review on TripAdvisor) to eat at but wait until you head further downtown (I did not visit the bathrooms on the 2020 walk so I am not sure if they are open now).
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Times Square was still pretty busy with out of towners and mostly locals and business people as the City has opened back up again. Costume characters were fighting for customers all over the square and even the “Naked Cowboy” a staple in Times Square was out again.
While in Times Square there are a few more sculptures that I missed on previous walks. The statue of Father Duffy sits erect on “Duffy Square” the northernmost part of the Times Square triangle. This is dedicated to “Father Francis P. Duffy”, a Canadian-American priest in the New York Archdiocese and on the faculty of the St. Joseph’s Seminary. He gained fame in World War I as an army chaplain and was noted for his bravery and leadership during the war with the 69th New York.
The Father Duffy Statue in Times Square’s “Father Duffy Square”
The statue was created by artist Charles Keck and was dedicated in 1937. Charles Keck is an American artist who studied at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League of New York.
Another statue that most people miss is the statue of composer, actor, and theater performer George M.Cohan, one of our great American artists. The artist wrote some of the most famous songs of that era including “Over There”, You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Give my regards to Broadway”.
The George M. Cohan statue in Times Square
The statue in Times Square of the composer was designed by artist Georg John Lober and was dedicated in 1959 in Father Duffy Square. Artist Georg John Lober was an American sculptor who studied at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design and the National Academy of Design and was part of the New York Municipal Arts Commission from 1943-1960.
As you head down past Times Square you will notice that not much has changed on this part of Broadway. Most of the buildings are pre-war and been around since the 30’s and 40’s. Here and there new buildings have creeped in. Stop in the lobby at 1441 Broadway, the Bricken Textile Building that was built in 1930 to see the “Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development” art exhibition (2019). It is quite creative. The whole lobby was full of modern art. There was a very interesting piece by artist Daniel Rozin who created a ‘Software Mirror’ where when you looked into it, it then looked back at you.
Artist Daniel Rozin demonstrating how the piece works
After wondering through the art show, I stopped in Frankie Boys Pizza at 1367 Broadway for a slice and a Coke and just relaxed. I was starved by this point of the walk. Their pizza is very good (See review on TripAdvisor) and was crowded that afternoon with people having an late lunch (still open in the 2020 walk).
After I finished my lunch, I continued the walk to Herald Square the home of Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street, whose store still dominates the area and is one of the last decent department stores in New York City. It is fun to take a quick pit stop in the store to see the main lobby and there is another public bathroom both on the lower level and on the Fourth Floor.
The Macy’s Broadway part of the store was designed in 1902 and is a historical landmark in the City. It was designed by architects Theodore de Lemos and A. W. Cordes and has a Pallidan style facade, which is a classical style based on Greek and Roman symmetry. The additions of the building along West 34th Street are more in the Art Deco design.
Macy’s is now open for business so take a peak in and see what the store has in store. It has been pretty busy since it has opened. After that, cross the street into Herald Square Park to take a rest under the shade tree. People packed the park during lunch hour (socially distanced) as they normally do to avoid the heat.
When I worked at Macy’s in the early 1990’s, Herald and Greeley Squares were places to avoid until about 1994 when the parks were renovated and new plantings and French metal cafe tables were added. Now it is hard at lunch time to find a table. In the process of the renovations, the City also restored the statues dedicated to James Gordon Bennett and Horace Greeley.
The statue dedicated to James Gordon Bennett and his son James Gordon Bennett II
The statue is to Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom and Invention and two blacksmiths who flank a bell that once topped the Herald Building where the New York Herald, which was founded by James Gordon Bennett in 1835. The statue was dedicated in the park in 1895 (NYCParks.org).
Antonin Jean Carles was born in France and was a student of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse. He was known for his monument sculptures.
Greeley Square was named after Horace Greeley, who published the first issue of The New Yorker magazine and established the New York Tribune. He was also a member of the Liberal Republican Party where he was a Congressman and ran for President of the United States after the Civil War.
Publisher and Politician Horace Greeley famous for his quote “Go West, young man, Go West”
The Horace Greeley statue is located in the park just south of Herald Square in Greeley Square.
The statue was created by artist Alexander Doyle. Alexander Doyle was an American born artist who studied in Italy with several artists. He is best known for his marbles and bronze sculptures of famous Americans including many famous Confederate figures that have come under fire recently.
Once you leave Herald Square and walk south you will be entering what is left of the old Wholesale district where once buyers used to come into these stores to commercially buy goods for their businesses. Slowly all of these businesses as well as most of the Flower District is being gentrified out with new hotels, restaurants and bars replacing the businesses. It seems that most of the district is being rebuilt or renovated.
A couple of buildings that stand out walking by is 1234 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and West 31st Street, a elegant Victorian building with a standout mansard roof and elaborate details on the roof and windows. I did not realize that it was the Grand Hotel built in 1868 as a residential hotel. The hotel was commissioned by Elias Higgins, a carpet manufacturer and designed by Henry Engelbert. Currently it is being renovated into apartments (Daytonian). It shows how the City keeps morphing over time as this area has become fashionable again.
1234 Broadway in all its elegance, the former Grand Hotel
Another beautifully designed building is 1181 Broadway the former Baudouine Building built by furniture manufacture Charles Baudouine in 1896. The building was designed by architect Alfred Zucker and is ten stories of office space (Wiki and Daytonian).
I got down to Worth Square by Madison Square Park in the early evening and admired the William Jenkins Worth monument. General Worth was a military hero during the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. The monument was designed by James Goodwin Batterson and when General Worth died in 1849, his remains were buried under the monument.
Another sculpture that is in Madison Square Park is the statue of William Henry Stewart, the former Governor of New York State, US Senator and Secretary of State during the Civil War. He also negotiated the Alaskan Purchase in 1867.
Governor William Henry Stewart statue in Madison Square Park
Governor William Henry Sewart, who negotiated the Alaskan Purchase “Sewart’s Folly”
As you look down further on the square, you will see the Flatiron Building one of the most famous and most photographed buildings in New York City. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham as a Renaissance Palazzo with Beaux-Arts styling . The original name for the building was the “Fuller Building” for the Company. The name “Flatiron” comes from a cast iron clothes iron from the turn of the last century. (Wiki)
The ‘Flatiron’ Building at 175 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street
As you pass the Flatiron Building and continue the walk south between 23rd and 14th Streets, take a look up to admire the buildings that once help make up the “Ladies Mile”, once the most fashionable shopping neighborhood after the Civil War (See my blog in MywalkinManhattan.com “Walking the Ladies Shopping Mile”).
One of the most elegant buildings on this part of Broadway is the former “Lord & Taylor” building at 901 Broadway. The building was constructed for the department store in 1870 and was the main store until 1914. It is now the Brooks Brothers Red Fleece store. Really take time to look at the detail work of the store and step inside. The Mansard Roof is an amazing touch. In 2020, the branch of Brooks Brothers has since closed.
901 Broadway “Lord & Taylor” building from 1870-1914
Another beautiful building along the “Ladies Mile” is 881-887 Broadway with its graceful Mansard roof and elaborate details was built in 1896 by architect Griffin Thomas. It served as the second location for the Arnold Constable & Company department store.
881-887 Broadway was the second location for Arnold Constable & Company 1869-1914
Another interesting building is 873-879 Broadway with its Victorian details was built in 1868 for merchant Edwin Hoyt, a partner of Hoyt, Spragues & Company. The retail company also used architect Griffins Thomas to design this building as well. The company went out of business in 1875 and other businesses moved in over the years (Daytonian).
Finally reaching Union Square at Broadway and 14th Street, I was able to relax on a bench under a shade tree. I stopped at the Farmers Market, that is there every Wednesday and Saturday, and pick up some fruit and a couple of cookies from one of the stands. This is a lot of fun in the warmer months and don’t miss it September and October when the produce really comes in.
Busy Union Square
As you venture inside Union Square Park to enjoy a meal or just relax, you have to admire the statue of Abraham Lincoln which is tucked among the shade trees. For all the controversy with President Lincoln these days no one in the park seemed to make a full about it especially all the people sitting by it eating their lunch.
The Abraham Lincoln statue in Union Square Park
The statue was designed by artist Henry Kirke Brown and was dedicated in 1870. The statue was a commission of the Union League Club after Lincoln’s assassination (NYCParks.org)
Henry Kirke Brown was an American artist who studied his craft in Italy and is know for his equestrian and historical sculptures.
As you leave Union Square and head south again, you will be entering the campus of New York University and all over you can see classrooms, stores and restaurants that cater to the students. Sometimes I think these kids are trying so hard to look cool it becomes outlandish. The way some of them dress is over the top.
At the bend on Broadway, another church stands out in the neighborhood. Grace Episcopal Church at 802 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and East 10th Street sits at a bend in Broadway and makes an impressive statement in the neighborhood. The church was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. in the French Gothic Revival style and started construction in 1843 (Wiki).
Walking south, stop in front of both 770 Broadway between 8th and 9th Street, the former home of John Wanamaker Department Store and 693 Broadway at 4th Street, the Merchants Building. These two buildings stand out for their beauty and design.
770 Broadway was built between 1903 and 1907 by architect Daniel Burham as the annex for the main store of Wanamaker’s which was next door. There was a skyway that once connected the two stores. The company closed for business in 1954. (Wiki)
770 Broadway, the former Wanamaker’s Department Store Annex
Stop at 693 Broadway to admire the design of the building. Built in 1908 by architect William C. Frohne the building is studded with interesting stone carvings and ornamentation. What really stands out is all the owls that decorate the building (Greenwich Village Preservation).
Looking up at the scaffolding of 611 Broadway, The Cable Building, it is not hard to miss the detail work of this graceful building. The stone work like a lot of the buildings on lower Broadway has beautiful detailed stonework adorning it. The building was designed by architect Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White and was designed in the Beaux-Arts design of “American Renaissance”.
The building was once home to the Metropolitan Traction Company, one of New York’s big Cable Car companies. In the last twenty years it has been home to the Angelika Film Company and Crate & Barrel home store. (Wiki)
Above all the scaffolding, look at the stone detail work of 611 Broadway
Walking further down Broadway, take time to admire 495 Broadway. This early example of Art Nouveau architecture was designed in 1893 for the New Era Printing Company. The building was claimed to be designed by architect Alfred Zucker for client Augustus D. Julliard (Wiki).
Another interesting SoHo building is 487 Broadway the former “Silk Exchange Building” built in 1896 by developer and architect John Townsend Williams. The exterior is done in limestone and terra cotta details along the edges of the building.
I took a break when taking the walk in 2020 at Joey Pepperoni Pizzeria at 381 Broadway which had just reopened. This small reasonable pizzeria is quite good and the prices are very fair. The pizza really has a nice flavor to it and the sauce is well spiced. You can buy two slices and a Coke for $2.99.
Joey Pepperoni at 381 Broadway
Take some time to admire 366 Broadway, a former Textiles Building built in 1909. Designed by Fredrick C. Browne, the building was designed in Edwardian commercial architecture and look at the detail work of the pillars, stone carved faces and other decorative stonework. The building once housed the Royal Typewriter Company then moved on in its later life to house textile firms including Bernard Semel Inc. (where the signage comes from on the outside), who was a former clothing jobber. Now called The Collect Pond House is a coop in Tribeca neighborhood (Tribeca History News)
One stand out building at 280 Broadway is the former home to the A. T. Stewart Department Store and the New York Sun Building headquarters for the well-known newspaper. Known as the “Marble Palace” in its retailing days, it was considered one of the most famous department stores of its day. It was designed by the firm of Trench & Snook in 1850-51 in the ‘Italianate Style’. When the store moved further uptown, the building was acquired by the New York Sun in 1917.
280 Broadway is the former “Marble Palace” A. T. Stewart Department Store
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway is one of the most famous buildings on Broadway. The former headquarters for F. W. Woolworth & Company was once the tallest building in the world when it was constructed in 1913 and stayed the tallest building until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was finished on Lexington Avenue in 1930. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in the neo-Gothic style and was a representation of the time as a “Cathedral for Commerce”. The lower floors are clad in limestone and the upper floors in glazed terra-cotta panels (Wiki). The lobby is one of the most detailed and ornate in New York but ask security first if you can walk around.
Across the street from the Woolworth Building is the very popular City Hall Park home to the to the 1803 built City Hall (Tweed Hall) and the seat of government for the City of New York. The park has always been used as some form of political function since the beginning in the Colonial days as a rebel outpost to its current function. It has had a prison, public execution site and parade ground on the site.
Since the renovation in 1999 under then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the park has been a place for people downtown to gather and relax by its fountain and beside the beautifully designed gardens. There are about a dozen statues in the park to admire so take time to enjoy a walk in the park (NYCParks.org).
The City Hall Park in its glory days 2019
In 2020, the park had just been cleaned up from an “Occupy City Hall” protest so the police presence in the area is high and the entire park is closed off for patrons. There is heavy metal fencing all around the park to prevent people from coming back in.
City Hall Park during “Occupy City Hall” July 2020
Another historic church that played a big role in the recovery of the World Trade Center events of 9/11 is the St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church at 209 Broadway. The Church was built in 1766 and is the oldest surviving church in Manhattan and is designed in the late Georgian church architecture by architect Thomas Mc Bean and crafted by Andrew Gautier (Wiki).
George Washington worshipped here on his Inauguration day in 1789 and continued to worship here when New York City was the capital of the country. The church had been spared by a sycamore tree on the property that absorbed the debris from the World Trade Center site and became a place of recovery and reflection in the aftermath of the events on 9/11 (Wiki).
Another building to admire is 108 Broadway at Leonard Street. This beautiful Italian Renaissance Revival building was designed by McKim Mead & White and has been refitted for apartments.
Upon reaching Zuccotti Park which is right near the World Trade Center sight and the home of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that traveled around the world after the 2008 meltdown of the New York Stock Market. The movement and occupation of the park which is private property, began in September of 2011. The park which is owned by Brookfield Office Properties was named after the Chairman of the company, John Zuccotti in 2011. (Wiki)
Zuccotti Park at twilight at Broadway and Cedar Streets
Zuccotti Park during its days of “Occupy Wall Street”
This interesting sculpture was installed in the park in 2006 and features “four open-ended tetrahedrons”. (Wiki)
“Joie de Vivre” by artist Marc di Suvero
Another historic statue located in Zuccotti Park is the sculpture “Double Check Businessman” that had survived the attacks on 9/11. The sculpture by John Seward Johnson II was created in 1982 and depicted a businessman reading himself to enter the World Trade Center nearby when it was made. It survived the attacks of 9/11 and was a symbol of those business people who died that day.
“Double Check Businessman” by John Seward Johnson II
Artist John Seward Johnson II is an American born artist and a member of the Johnson & Johnson family. A self taught sculptor he is know for his life like cast sculptures. This famous statue was formerly in Liberty Plaza Park by the World Trade Center.
Across the street from Zuccotti Park in the plaza of the Brown Brothers Harriman Building is the sculpture “Red Cube” by artist Isamu Noguchi. This interesting sculpture stands on one edge of the cube.
Artist Isamu Noguchi was an American born artist of an American mother and a Japanese father. After dropping out of Columbia Medical School, he concentrated on sculpture maintaining a studio in New York and Tokyo. He is known for his large scale modern sculptures and was considered one of the most important artist’s of the Twentieth Century (Artist Bio).
As you pass Zuccotti Park and head down the last stretch of Broadway look around at the buildings on both sides of Broadway as they have not changed much since the early 1900’s.
Just as you leave Zuccotti Park at 111-115 Broadway right next to Trinity Church is the Trinity & US Realty Building. This elegant and detailed building was designed in the “Neo-Gothic” style by architect Francis H. Kimball in 1905.
111-115 Broadway is the Trinity & United States Realty Building
The last historic church I have visited and have walked past many times when in the neighborhood is Trinity Church, an Episcopal church at 75 Broadway. The first church on the site was built in 1698 and burned during the Revolutionary War during the Great Fire of 1776 when a two thirds of the City burned after a fire started in tavern and left most of New Yorkers homeless (Wiki).
The current church was built in 1839 and finished in 1846 and was built in the Gothic Revival design by architect Richard Upjohn. It was the tallest building in the United States until 1869. The church has played important roles in recent history as a place of refuge and prayer during the attacks on 9/11. It also was part of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2012 as a place of refuge and support to the protesters (Wiki and Church History).
One of the most elegant buildings in lower Manhattan is the Cunard Building, the former home of the Cunard Shipping line. The building was designed by architect Benjamin Wistar Morris and opened in 1921. The company sold the building in 1971 and has different tenants now.
I finally got to my designation of Bowling Green Park on the first trip down Broadway at 5:45pm (starting time again 9:00am) just in time to see all the tourist lined up by The Bull statue (see my review on VisitingaMuseum.com). The statue was designed by artist Arturo de Modica and was installed as ‘renegade art’ meaning he did not have permission from the City to place it there. It has been a big tourist attraction since its installation and I could not see a reason for the City to move it from its location. At 7,100 pounds they can move it too far.
The Charging Bull at Bowling Green Park by artist Arturo de Modica
I reached the end of Broadway at 5:45pm the next few walks and relaxed in Bowling Green Park (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com) for about a half hour. It was so nice to just sit there watching the fountain spray water and watching the birds as they pecked around.
Bowling Green has a rich history as a park. It was designed in 1733 and is the oldest park in New York City. It was here that the first reading of the Declaration of Independence was read and then the toppling of the Statue of King George III in defiance. You can still see where the citizens at the time cut off the small crowns on the fencing that surrounds the park. This is another place that was rumored to be the site of where the Dutch bought Manhattan. The park is the official start of Broadway.
Bowling Green Park at the height of its beauty
I walked from the Bowling Green Park and sat by the harbor in Battery Green Park and watched the ships go by. It is a nice place to relax and watch the sun set and the lights go on in all the buildings in lower Manhattan and watch the Statue of Liberty illuminate. It is quite a site. Look at the lights of Jersey City and Governors Island.
For dinner that night, I walked from the Battery into Chinatown and went to Chi Dumpling House (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at 77 Chrystie Street in Chinatown. They have the most amazing menu that is so reasonable. Ten steamed dumplings for $3.00 and a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup for $1.50. In 2020, with most of Chinatown shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic (which is bleeding Chinatown NYC), this is always my ‘go to’ place for dumplings and noodles.
Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street
For dessert that evening I came across Gooey on the Inside at 163 Chrystie Street (See review on TripAdvisor) for the most soft and gooey homemade cookies. I saw a bunch of people smiling as they left this basement business raving about the cookies and I had to investigate. I have to admit that they are pricey ($5.00 and higher) but the cookies are amazing. The Chocolate Chunk was loaded with large pieces of chocolate and the Birthday Cake is filled with icing and is soft and chewy. The best way to end the evening.
Gooey on the Inside Birthday Cake Cookies at 163 Chrystie Street
On my second day of walking down Broadway, I stopped at Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for dinner. I had arrived later in the evening and did not realize they closed at 8:00pm. The food which is normally excellent, had been sitting for awhile and was not that good. I had a Chicken Parmesan and spaghetti special that was dried out. Not their best work.
Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street (currently closed in 2020)
After dinner, I returned to Battery Park to admire the lights on Governor’s Island and the illuminated Statue of Liberty. There is nothing like this site in the world and only off the. Island of Manhattan can you see it this way.
Yet things are changing in 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis and will keep changing in NYC. Keep watching this entry for updates over the next year or so.
The Broadway Mall Art Exhibition: (some sculptures still up in July 2020)
The Birds of Broadway by artist Nicolas Holiber:
Artist Nicolas Holiber in front of his sculptures for the “Birds on Broadway” show
*Authors Note: All the hours for these establishments have changed with COVID-19. Please check their websites and call them first before visiting. They may change again after the City reopens. Also too, the prices keep changing as well, so please check with the restaurants.
I can’t believe it is my forth anniversary of my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”. What started out as just a simple walk through the entire Island of Manhattan has morphed into visits to the outer boroughs and to outside the City. There is countless restaurant reviews, museum visits, visits to parks and historical parks and window shopping in stores all around the Tri-State area.
These additional views of the City have inspired the extension blogs to this site, “VisitingaMuseum.com”, “LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com” and “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com” to showcase more wonderful things to do, places to see and places to eat in New York City. What started out as a small site has now morphed into a blog that explores all the wonderful things to do and see in neighborhoods all over the City.
The best part of this experience is that I thank all the input that my students have given me on the sites and all the comments that have made it more enjoyable to the reader from adding in TripAdvisor reviews to contributing pictures and videos of the areas discussed. I want to thank them for their ideas and suggestions.
Today I entered the Turtle Bay neighborhood which is located next to Sutton and Beekman Place in the neighborhood that surrounds the United Nations located next to the East River. Over the last twenty years the borders of the neighborhood have become blurred with Midtown with much of Second, Third and Lexington Avenues giving way to large apartment and office complexes. There are still pockets of brownstones with local businesses dotted on the Avenues and side streets but they are becoming few and far between.
Turtle Bay has an interesting history as part of Manhattan. ‘Turtle Bay’ was originally a cove in the East River that was shaped like a knife which the Dutch gave the name “deutal” for knife. The cove was filled in after the Civil War. The neighborhood was originally a forty acre farm named “Turtle Bay Farm” that extended from what is now East 43rd to East 48th Street and from Third Avenue to the East River. When the street grid system was put into place after the Civil War, the hilly cove and surrounding areas was graded and filled in and subdivided for development (Wiki).
Turtle Bay in the early 1800’s
The neighborhood changed dramatically after the Civil War until the turn of the last century when the center of the neighborhood became a brownstone section and the river portion of the area became home to manufacturing with breweries, power plants and laundries and tenement homes to house the workers. The overhead elevated trains on Second and Third Avenues added to the decline of the neighborhood (Wiki).
The rowhouses of ‘Turtle Bay Gardens’ were saved by resident, Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan. She bought eleven of the brownstone homes and had them renovated with stucco fronts and a common garden in the back. These have been lived in by celebrities such as actresses Ruth Gordon, June Havoc and Katharine Hepburn. It was named a historic district in 1966 (Wiki).
The 2,800 unit Tudor City was built between 1927 to 1932 replacing the dangerous shanty town of ‘Prospect Hill’ where Irish gangs ruled and the neighborhood and the rest of the neighborhood was leveled between 1948 and 1952 for the United Nations Headquarters. When the elevated trains were torn down by 1956, it opened the neighborhood to new construction of high rises and apartment buildings (Wiki).
I started the walk at my favorite neighborhood starting point, 24 Sycamores Park on First Avenue and 60th Street, where I mapped out the walk. With schools letting out for the summer, the park was mobbed with kids with their nannies and baby sitters. It was nice to relax after a long day at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. They kept me busy on the hot line and we served over 800 lunches that afternoon, so I was tired. It is fun to just sit back on the benches under the trees and watch the kids chase one another and the pigeons.
24 Sycamores Park at 501 East 60th Street
Since my walk of Sutton Place, East 59th’s empty store fronts are starting to fill up with new businesses again. A lot of the windows are covered with brown paper so it looks like more businesses are coming to the neighborhood. This is how the City keeps changing . I had covered all of Second Avenue to 48th Street in my blog of Sutton Place and since technically the neighborhood does not start until East 53rd Street, I started the walk East 58th Street between Second and Lexington Avenue and then walked down Lexington Avenue to East 43rd Street and then to the United Nations by the river (I will include East 58th Street to East 54th from Second to Lexington Avenues in my Turtle Bay walks).
I started the afternoon with lunch at Lin’s Gourmet Chinese Restaurant at 1097 Second Avenue (See the reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). They have the most amazing lunch specials for between $8.00-$8.50. I had the Beef with Broccoli with a side of pork fried rice and an eggroll ($8.25).
Lin’s Gourmet Chinese Restaurant at 1097 Second Avenue
The quality of the food is excellent as the beef was tender and well-seasoned with a combination of Hunan and soy sauce and the broccoli was perfectly cooked, a rarity in many of these take out places. The service is really friendly too. After lunch, it was off to walk the borders and Avenues of the neighborhood.
The Beef and Broccoli was delicious
Lexington Avenue from East 58th to East 43rd Street is pretty much a commercial district. The left side of the road is lined with famous hotels and luxury apartments. Sharing this edge with Midtown East Manhattan, this area of the neighborhood is geared towards the business world and just keeps developing. I can see more newer buildings replacing the older ones in the future. Most of the hotels have been renovated in the past decade to reflex the increase of tourists into the City.
When crossing East 58th Street from Second to Lexington Avenue, I came across a gem of bakery, ‘Bon Vivant’ at 251 East 58th Street between Second and Third Avenues (See my review on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). This elegant little store sells the most delicious Petit fours, pastries and beverages in an elegant atmosphere. I just walked in to see what it was like and I ended up eating a large Lavender Petit Four ($6.00), that was light and sweet with just a hint of the lavender leaves in the filling. It’s a unique little store where the desserts are displayed like a work of art.
Bon Vivant for pastries at 251 East 58th Street
Having some energy from the dessert, I continued the walk over the next block to Lexington Avenue. Lexington Avenue is the border of the neighborhood and is more commercial than residential. The Avenue is lined with hotels and office buildings and home to some of the oldest and well-known hotels in Midtown.
On the corner of Lexington Avenue between East 59th and 58th Streets is the Bloomberg Tower at 731 Lexington Avenue, one of the first buildings merging the borders of Turtle Bay with Midtown East. This massive 55 story building of glass and steel was built in 2001 for the Bloomberg L.P., the home of the Bloomberg empire including the offices for the main company and Bloomberg news. The building was designed by reknown architect, Cesar Pelli & Associates and developed by Vornado Realty Trust. The back part of the building is called One Beacon Court and is home to condos and retail businesses and have their own private entrance. This building replaced the closed but once popular Alexander’s Department Store. Security is really tight around here and the police will watch you (Wiki).
The Bloomberg Tower ushering in a new look modern look for the neighborhood
Historical buildings especially around Lexington Avenue still prevail. One of the first buildings to really pop out at me on Lexington Avenue was the Central Synagogue at 652 Lexington Avenue on the corner of 55th Street. Designed by prominent architect Henry Fernbach, the synagogue was built between 1870 and 1872 is the oldest continuing synagogue in New York City and the second oldest in New York State. The building is one of the oldest synagogues in the country. The outside of the building was designed in Moorish Revival while the inside exterior is in a Gothic design. The Synagogue practices the Reformed Jewish faith (Wiki).
Another beautiful building is on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 51st Street, the former RCA Victor Building now known as the General Electric Building. It was designed and built by architect John Cross of Cross & Cross in 1931. The 50 story building was designed in the Gothic style and you really have to look at the details in the structure with the elaborate masonry and architectural figural sculpture all over the building (Wiki).
570 Lexington Avenue
The building is decorated with lightening bolts and hands with blots in their hands to represent the growth of lightening and electricity. The edges of the building are decorated with figures representing energy and the dome of the building represents ‘Gothic tracery’, representing electricity and radio waves and lit from within at night. There is even a clock with the ‘GE’ logo on it on the side of the building (Wiki).
Look at the detail work of 570 Lexington Avenue
The Gothic Tracery tower of 570 Lexington Avenue
Lexington Avenue has many such historical buildings up and down the Avenue especially with hotels that dot both sides of the street. Since I started this part of the walk on June 21st, the first day of the Summer (The Summer Equinox) and the longest day of the year, there were concerts everywhere in Midtown. I stopped at 570 Lexington Avenue where they have a courtyard on the side of the building near the subway entrance.
The building was hosting part of a concert series that afternoon for people walking by while the Godiva Chocolate store in the courtyard was handing out ice cream samples to hot patrons. It was enjoyable to just relax and listen to the combo while eating that sweet, rich ice cream.
When walking down the remainder of Lexington Avenue, the street is dotted with famous hotels down to East 42nd Street. This was part of the 1916 rezoning of this part of the City when Grand Central Terminal opened to rail traffic and the City needed luxury hotels to cater to the Upper Class customers who used the rail service. Some of the oldest and most famous hotels in New York line Lexington Avenue.
Across the street from 570 Lexington Avenue is the historic 30 story Hotel Benjamin at 125 East 50th Street. The Benjamin was the former Hotel Beverly and after a massive renovation in the late 90’s was renamed after the new owners founder, Benjamin J Denihan Sr. Built in 1926-27 by building developer Moses Ginsberg and designed by architect Emery Roth, the hotel was marketed for ‘sophisticated New Yorkers at a moderate rate’. The hotel is richly decorated in a Romanesque motif and incorporates pelican and owl sculptures and warrior head corbels (NYC Landmarks Preservation).
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 301 Park Avenue between 50th and 49th Streets is currently closed and going under a massive renovation to condos. This block long hotel’s back faces Lexington Avenue. The hotel is converting from 1413 hotel rooms to 350 condos and a 350 room hotel when it is complete.
The hotel was designed by architects Schultz & Weaver and was designed in the Art Deco design which was popular when the hotel opened in 1931. The original hotel was demolished for the building of the Empire State Building. The hotel has been home to many famous restaurants and was considered the ‘jewel’ of the Hilton Hotel empire. Countless society events and celebrity visits too extensive to name have taken place in this hotel. It will be a wait and see when it reopens in 2021.
The InterContinental Barclay Hotel at 111 East 48th Street stretches back to East 49th Street.
The InterContinental Barclay was designed by architects Cross & Cross in 1926 in the neo-Federal American Colonial style. The thirteen story hotel was part of the concept called ‘Terminal City’ which was part of the New York Central and Terminal Corporation owned by the Vanderbilt family and contains 702 rooms. The hotel still hosts Society and corporate events.
The Hotel Roger Smith at 501 Lexington Avenue is a family run hotel that was originally called the Hotel Winthrop and gets its current name when it was part the Roger Smith Hotel Chain in the 1930’s. The hotel was designed by architects Hearn & Erich in 1926 and is made of brick with a clean look.
The Hotel Lexington opened in 1929 one of the last hotels of the building boom on Lexington Avenue. Designed by architects Schultz & Weaver who designed the Waldorf-Astoria, the Hotel Lexington was the promise of General J. Leslie Kincaid, who was President of the American Hotel Company of ‘a modern hotel with a refined atmosphere and with exceptional service without the hassles of a large hotel.” The hotel has Normanesque terracotta decorations that adorn the outside of the hotel (Wiki).
Toward the edge of the neighborhood at East 45th and Lexington Avenue is the Grand Central Post Office Annex that was built between 1903 and 1914 under the direction of the New York Central Railroad. Architect firms of Warren & Wetmore with the collaboration with architectural firm Reed & Stern designed this annex to provide railroad related office space, shops and a network of underground tracks and tunnels.
Grand Central Postal Annex at 450 Lexington Avenue
As you round Lexington Avenue to East 43rd Street to the edge of Turtle Bay, you will enter the lobby of the Chrysler Building. The Chrysler Building has a very interesting history in Manhattan as the once ‘tallest building in the world’ opening one day before the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
The building was the brain child of former New York Senator William H. Reynolds, who had a goal to build the ‘World’s Tallest Building’. He hired famed architect William Van Alen to design the building which in the late 1920’s was an Art Deco design which represented the progress, innovation and modernity of the time. By the time Reynold’s sold the property to Walter Chrysler in 1928, Van Alen and his former partner at the architectural firm they once worked at, H. Craig Severance were in a race to build the World’s Tallest Building (Wiki & Chrysler Building history).
The “Race into the Sky” began between the Chrysler Building being designed by Van Alen and 40 Wall Street being designed by Severance. They kept added floors trying to top one another and in the process build their buildings higher than the Woolworth Building then the tallest in the world. 40 Wall Street was raised to 925 feet when it opened making it the tallest building until Van Alen secretly assembled a 125 spiral for the top of the building and in October of 1929, the spiral was raised and riveted in pieces on the top of the building making it 1046 feet. It would stand the tallest in the world until the Empire State Building was finished a few years later in 1931. The Chrysler Building was the still the World’s Tallest Steel Frame Building, with a steel frame surrounded by masonry (Wiki).
Still the outside of the building is studded with gargoyles for five floors and there were hubcaps and fenders at the 31st floor and eagles on the 61st floor. Because of the 1916 Zoning, there are setbacks on various floors of the building (Wiki). The inside of the lobby is just as impressive.
On the ceiling of the triangular shaped lobby is the mural “Transport and Human Endeavor” by artist Edward Trumball, which was painted in 1930. It represents the ‘energy and man’s application of it to the solutions of his problems’. Look to the detail work to see all the figures that the artist was trying to portray (Wiki).
The lobby of the Chrysler Building should not be missed
After the small tour of the Chrysler Building I proceeded out the door down East 43rd Street towards the United Nations Building. West 43rd Street is an interesting block. By Second Avenue, you will begin to see the transition from the once ‘brownstone’ neighborhood on the corner of Second Avenue and 43rd Street to the more modern ‘glass boxes’ that now dominate the neighborhood. Here you can see how Midtown East is creeping into this once residential neighborhood.
The buildings on both sides of the street are almost a juxtapose of styles and uses until you get toward the end of the block and you are in front of the Ford Foundation Building at 320 East 43rd Street. This impressive building was built between 1963-67 and houses the Ford Foundation. It was designed by architect Kevin Roche and engineer partner John Dinkeloo who are credited for creating the first indoor tree-filled atriums in New York, which set the tone for these public spaces in modern buildings (Wiki).
The Ford Foundation Atrium
What is interesting about he design of this building is that it is a perfect glass block from the outside but a created L-Shaped design on the inside because of the atrium garden. The large windows let the sunlight in so that you can walked this tiered garden on several levels. The only problem is that there is no place to sit down in the garden and just look at it.
Just off of the main lobby is the small Ford Foundation Gallery that is also open to the public. This was a real treat in that it really gave an interesting look at ‘controversial art’. As said by gallery director, Lisa Kim, “Guided by inclusion, collaboration and urgency that are under representing in traditional art spaces. In doing so, our hope is for the Ford Foundation to be a responsive and adapted space, the one that serves the public in its openness to experimentation, contemplation and conversation.” (Ford Foundation Gallery website).
The Gallery is currently showing “Radical Love” an exhibition on art from different cultures that is sending a message of love and acceptance in society. The show’s theme is “offering love as the answer to a world in peril” and shows different artists around the world trying to portray a social median to the problems of hate and prejudice (Ford Foundation Gallery Site).
Ford Foundation Gallery “Radical Love”
After finishing up at the Ford Foundation Gallery, I toured the indoor atrium one more time walking all the tiers of the gardens and not believing that I had never seen this all before. It is really a beautiful building that you all need time out to explore.
I walked to the end of the block only to discover Tudor City with its beautiful Gothic architecture and well landscaped grounds. Tudor City is one of the first planned middle-class housing ‘skyscraper’ complexes in New York City. Built in 1926, the complex was called Tudor City due to the Tudor Revival architecture of the complex. The complex starts right behind the Ford Foundation Building and extends between East 43rd to East 40th Street on a small cliff that overlooks First Avenue, the U.N. Complex and the tip of Roosevelt Island (Wiki).
Tudor City between East 43rd to 40th Streets overlooking First Avenue
The complex was designed by the team lead by architect H. Douglas Ives for the Fred F. French Company, developers of modern apartment complexes and was the brainchild of Leonard Gans and Paine Edson, who bought up what had been derelict housing and manufacturing businesses. The complex did expand into the 1930’s and now contains 13 buildings and two parks that the buildings face in a ‘U’ pattern (Wiki).
You really have to look up at the buildings to see the great detail that was designed to give them that Gothic look. When Mr. Ives team designed the buildings, there was an array of towers, gables, turrets, bay windows, four centered arches and chimney stacks amongst the detail work with cast iron and terracotta details. You have to walk the entire complex and really look to the detail work which is quite amazing (Wiki and my own observations).
What was really nice was the small parks that line the inside of the ‘U’ shaped courtyard of the buildings. These two parks are now run by Tudor City Greens Inc., which has run the parks since 1987 and cares for the landscaping and maintenance. They do a wonderful job caring for the parks which when I walked through were being replanted and watered and full of people either reading books or having group discussions.
Tudor City gardens
While walking through the building complex, I came across Azalea & Oak at 5 Tudor Place, a little boutique specializing in women’s accessories and children’s dress-up clothes and toys (see my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). This unique little store has one of the nicest selections of children’s dress items, accessories and handmade toys that I have seen in the City.
Azalea & Oak at 5 Tudor Place
The salesperson told me the owner was formerly from Saks Fifth Avenue and you could see it in the detail of the store design and the quality of the merchandise. Don’t miss their selection of stuffed animals and handmade crowns and masks. This will be much to the delight of the younger set of customers. The owner also designs her own jewelry so there are unusual pieces to see.
The Stuffed toys at Azalea and Oak at 5 Tudor Place
I rounded 43rd Street and came back to visit Ralph Bunche Park that is at the end of East 43rd Street. It is not much a park as most of it is under scaffolding for renovations of Tudor City. The park is named in 1979 after Ralph Bunche was the first African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Bunche was a diplomat, scientist and academic who won the award in 1950 for work on mediation with Israel.
As you are walking down the granite stairs to First Avenue, notice the quote from Isiah 2:4 carved into the wall “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spires into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” The stairs, now called the ‘Sharnasky Steps, named after dissident Nathan Sharansky, were built and dedicated during the construction of the U.N. In front of the stairs is a 50 foot steel obelisk by artist Daniel LaRue Johnson, entitled “Peace Form One” that was created in 1980 (Wiki).
Mr. Johnson has studied at Chouinard and in Paris and was part of the African-American artist movement in Los Angeles that dealt with the social and political changes in the mid-Twentieth century. He had also known Mr. Bunche as well (Artist Bio).
The Sharansky Steps with the Wall of Isiah
Once down the steps, you will find yourself in front of the United Nations Building that sits on the East River and is very impressive.
The United Nations Building complex is under ‘lock and key’ and don’t bother trying to walk around the grounds. Everything is behind a fence with tons of security surrounding all sides of the building. The complex is about 18 acres that line the East River from East 42nd and East 48th Streets.
The complex was designed by architect Wallace Harrison for the firm of Harrison & Abramovitz and was completed in 1952. The whole area was cleared of manufacturing and the complex replaced blight in the neighborhood with a brand new building and parks. The Rockefeller family was one of the biggest cheerleaders for the site and Nelson Rockefeller helped purchase the land for the site (Wiki).
The building is built in a long horizontal block that houses the meeting rooms and a tall tower in the center for the Secretariat. The building is surrounded by pathways and lawn to give the building the impression of power and with the flags of the nations surrounding it, an international flair. Still walking up United Nations Plaza back up to East 48th Street to where I stopped at the edge of Sutton East, there is armed security all over the place and its best to blend into the crowds.
The United Nations Building which covers the edges of Turtle Bay with the East River
I continued the walk up United Nations Plaza up to East 48th Street and walked down the block towards Third Avenue. Once you round First Avenue, you will see less security in front of the buildings when you go back into the neighborhood.
East 48th Street is a beautiful block of old brownstones and apartment buildings and has a real neighborhood feel to it. I have discovered that the blocks above East 50th Street once you past Second Avenue are becoming more commercial with lots of large apartment and office buildings. It feels more like Midtown and once you get below East 50th Street, it looks more historical and quintessential ‘Old New York’.
I walked up and down the remainder of Second Avenue from East 43rd to East 48th Streets that border the neighborhood with Sutton East. Most of the buildings are glass boxes with commercial businesses on the bottom. There is one stand out on these five blocks in front of the Consulate General of Nigeria at 828 Second Avenue on the corner of East 44th Street and Second Avenue. It is a sculpture called ‘Zuma’ by artist Billy Omebegho.
Mr. Omebegho is considered one of the foremost modern sculptures in Nigeria and created the work in 1991. Born in Nigeria in 1944, Mr. Omebegho studied art at both Cornell University (fellow Alumnus) and New York University. The work ‘Zuma’ was created in 1991 and is a zig-zag form to symbolizes rebirth and renewal and the snake like pattern represents air, water, heaven and earth (Culture Now). This unique sculpture had some controversy in 2005 when the Consulate was approached about replacing it but it still stands proudly at the entrance.
As I passed along Second Avenue to Third Avenue, I passed a row of brownstones on the right which are the Turtle Bay Gardens houses. These were the homes that were saved, preserved and renovated by Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan in the 1920. The two rows of ten homes were built in the 1860’s and when they were renovated and updated now share a common garden with the homes on East 49th Street. These graceful brownstones set the tone for the neighborhood (Turtle Bay History).
Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District
As you pass Turtle Bay Gardens, another unique house stands out at 211 East 48th Street, the William Lescaze House. William Lescaze was a Swiss-born New Yorker who was credited with bringing the modernist movement in the United States by building this house in 1934. The four story home served as his personal home and studio (Curbed NY).
As I rounded back down Second Avenue to East 43rd Street and crossed over to Third Avenue to walk from East 43rd to East 59th Streets this is another block in transition. Third Avenue has pretty much been torn down is more like Midtown than Turtle Bay. There are a few holdovers from another era meaning the 60’s and 70’s in the way of restaurants.
Tucked in between all the glass towers that have changed this part of the neighborhood there are some culinary gems that still serve customers as they have for years starting with Smith & Wollensky at 797 Third Avenue.
Smith & Wollensky is a legendary steakhouse that has been in this location since 1977. What is interesting about this popular restaurant is that the name was taken out of the phone book. The creators of the restaurant, Allan Stillman (of TGI Friday’s fame) and Ben Benson, looked in the phone book to Smith and then Wollensky to get the name.
The restaurant was originally called Manny Wolf’s Steakhouse which had been in business from 1897 until the name change in 1977. It is now owned by the Patina Restaurant Group although the original New York restaurant is still owned by Mr. Stillman. The restaurant is known for its USDA Prime Grade beef which is all butchered in house (Wiki and Smith & Wollensky history). The building like the rest of the neighborhood is surrounded by a glass box skyscraper.
Another well known restaurant on Third Avenue is P.J. Clarke’s at 915 Third Avenue on the corner of Third Avenue and East 55th Street. P. J. Clarke’s was established in 1884 by a Mr. Duneen and Patrick J. Clarke was one of his employees. After ten years of working at the bar, he bought the establishment from Mr. Duneen and renamed it P.J. Clarke’s. The restaurant has been known for its pub food and popular bar scene.
The restaurant like Smith & Wollensky’s is a holdout from the past and is surrounded by a glass office building. 919 Third Avenue was built around the restaurant in the late 60’s and the owners, the Lavezzo brothers had the owners build around their property. In an agreement, they bought the building from the two brothers and knocked the top two floors of the restaurant down. Due to financial difficulties the brothers lost the restaurant and it is now owned by new group of investors (Wiki).
P.J. Clarke’s in comparison to 919 Third Avenue showing the changes on Third Avenue
Third Avenue has it pockets of the old neighborhood here and there but is now firmly establishing itself as part of Midtown with its gleaming office buildings and apartment houses giving the Avenue a modern look.
As I walked back down Third Avenue, some street art caught my attention. Outside the U.S. Post Office at 909 Third Avenue is the sculpture, Red Flying Group by artist Ann Gillen, that adds some life to the building that looks like geometric blocks.
Red Flying Group by artist Ann Gillen outside 909 Third Avenue
Ms. Gillen has been trained in Industrial design at Pratt and got her MFA from Columbia University’s School of Art. She is noted in the use of color and the structure suggests a human body in motion. She uses all sorts of materials in her art noted with metals and stone work. Red Flying Group is based on man’s sense of motion (Wiki).
The other standout on Third Avenue was the mural of the fallen fireman in honor of 9/11. The mural by artist Eduardo Kobra, who based the painting on a photo of fire fighter Mike Bellantoni, who arrived at the scene after the second tower fell. The picture was taken by New York Post photographer Matthew McDermott (NY Post 2018). The painting depicts an exhausted fire fighter on the scene.
Mural outside of 780 Third Avenue
Mr. Kobra was noted in saying of the mural “I was paying homage to the fire fighters who fought bravely that day. The helmet represents the 343 fire fighters lost that day and the colors represent one goal, to pass on the message of life, of a restart and of reconstruction.” (Time Out Magazine).
Mr. Kobra is a Brazilian street artist who has a passion for street art. His use of squares and triangles bring life to his paintings. His use of photorealism and color bring life to his works of art (Wiki).
The one building that does stand out prominently on Third Avenue is on the corner of Third Avenue and 53rd Street, “The Lipstick Building” at 885 Third Avenue. The building was designed by John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson and was completed in 1986. What stands out about this building is the oval design and color of the building. What makes the building unusual is the ‘set back’ space required by zoning laws and how the building seems to retract ‘as if it retract telescopically’ (Wiki and Architectural firm).
The Lipstick Building
It also has an usual shade of burgundy or dark pink that makes it stand out among the other office buildings in the area. At the base are large columns that act like a ‘post-modern’ entrance to the building and allow pedestrians to walk freer in the space (Wiki and Architectural firm). I just think the building has a unusual beauty to it in that it defies the contemporary design of the more square glass boxes and its shape and color make it stand out in a neighborhood where there is too much of the same design. Buildings like this is what gives the City character.
The columned entrance to the Lipstick Building
As I rounded down Third Avenue to East 43rd Street and headed up Third Avenue again, you can see more changes in the distance in the area around Grand Central Station with new buildings soon to be open on Madison Avenue and along 42nd Street. More construction and more buildings are going up around the station.
As I traveled up Lexington Avenue to East 59th Street, I saw the after-work crowd bring more life to the neighborhood. Between the office buildings and the hotels in the area, the place was loaded with tourists and office workers milling around after a long day and the sidewalks were jammed.
I ended my day rounding East 59th Street and having dinner from Blue and Gold Deli at 1075 First Avenue. I had been in earlier to buy a lottery ticket (did not win so still walking) and noticed their menu and the very reasonable prices. I decided on a Meatball hero ($7.00) with a Coke which I took over to 24 Sycamores Park to eat. It was still light out at 8:00pm and I watched the children playing around in the park with their parents while I ate. The meatball sandwich was loaded with meatballs and a nicely spiced tomato sauce. It was good but not a standout so it warrants another try.
As I ate and watched the night sky get darker, it was fun to watch the world go by and people continue on with their business. I really wonder if they see the same things I do when walking to work or school.
I dedicate this blog with much love to my father, Warren George Watrel, who inspired this blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”. I wanted to wish him a very ‘Happy Father’s Day’!
My dad was born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and still considered himself a ‘Brooklynite’, even though he was raised and lived in New Jersey for most of his life. He spent years visiting the City to see relatives and he worked on Park Avenue for several years after that.
Every Father’s Day after I moved back to New Jersey from Guam, we always spent the day roaming around the City visiting some park that I had read about, movie that I saw reviewed or exhibition at a museum that was being featured. We would cap the afternoon off at a restaurant that I would read about in the Village Voice.
Since his passing, I have my own routine on Father’s Day. I pay my respects to him in the morning and then I spend my afternoon doing something we would have done together. Adding to the museums and galleries that I have visited over the time in my project, “MywalkinManhattan”, I decided to visit the American Academy of Arts and Letters at West 155th Street on Broadway between 155th and 156th Streets. I wanted to see the new works by their member artists. Then I treated myself to lunch.
My morning was spent cutting flowers from our flower beds, which my dad had a lot of pride in and I made an amazing arrangement to take with me. While I was paying my respects, I ran into other families doing the same thing I was doing. The cemetery was as busy as a shopping mall with cars all over the place and flower arrangement and prayers being said. It is interesting to see how people respect their family members who have passed.
I was talking with a women whose grandparents were interned near my father and whose younger brother was interned in another part of the cemetery. Since the death of her brother, his family cut off relations with the rest of her family members. It is sad that I hear this story so many times. She seemed relieved to have someone to talk to about it. We had a nice chat about our families for about a half hour and it’s nice to talk to a stranger who understands.
After I paid my respects, my afternoon was spent at the American Academy of Arts & Letters for one of my other blogs, “VisitingaMuseum.com”. I had been wanting to visit the gallery for two years now and it was the last day of their exhibition ‘Ceremonial Exhibition: Work by New Members and Recipients of Awards”. It is hard to visit since they are only open four months out of the year.
I got into the City late so I got to spend the last hour and a half walking the exhibition. I had just walked the entire length of Broadway for my blog on Friday (Day One Hundred and Thirty Six Walking the length of Broadway) and saw that it would be open this Sunday. It was an interesting exhibition.
Some of the pieces in the gallery were a little political and one sided. I took it that the Academy was more liberal leaning. Even so, it was nice to see what the artist had to say and their thoughts on current events.
American Academy of Arts & Letters
One artist who stood out was artist Judith Bernstein whose works ‘Gold Quattro’, ‘Money Shot-Blue Balls’ and ‘Trump Genie’ wanted to portray what she thinks of the corruption and money grabbing currently in Washington DC. You have to really look at the work closely to see the sexual organs and their use in the paintings.
Artist Judith Bernstein’s work
Another set of works that stood out was ‘She-wolf’ by artist Francesca Dimattio, with it’s many components and color displays. The funny part was that she had a hand poking out of the butt. I was not sure how you would interpret that.
‘She-wolf’ by Francesa Diamattio
After the museum closed for the afternoon, I walked over to the Morris-Jumel Mansion which had closed for the afternoon (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). Still it was nice to walk the gardens and look at the views of the river and beyond. I had toured the mansion several times and it is an interesting home with a fascinating past. The home was owned by Aaron Burr’s second wife, Madame Jumel, who herself had an interesting life.
The Morris-Jumel Mansion
The formal gardens on the property are relaxing to visit in but could use a good weeding.
The Morris-Jumel Mansion gardens
After a visit around the neighborhood to see how gentrification is changing the neighborhood, I stopped to get something to eat. The Sugar Hill Cafe which I had wanted to try was closed for the afternoon so I went to Victorio’s Pizza at 348 West 145th Street (see review on Tripadvisor) by the SUNY campus. Their pizza is always wonderful. The sauce is so well spiced and tastes of fresh tomatoes and the cheese is really gooey.
Victorio’s Pizza at 348 West 145th Street
After lunch, I just walked around this part of Harlem to see the changes and developments in the neighborhood. I had not visited this section of the City in about two years and it just keeps morphing. I walked from 145th Street to 125th Street and took the subway from there.
Every time I visit another part of New York City after a period of time, I am amazed how fast everything is moving from restaurants and shops closing to buildings either being torn down or renovated. The City never stops changing.
I enjoyed spending my Father’s Day doing something we both loved to do, exploring New York City and all the things it has to offer. I will never forget all the things that my father did for me and the support he offered me. I look back and realize the things I have done in my life because love and support and lack of judging me on it. I think it is important to let your kids make mistakes in life as it makes them stronger and more independent.
I was proud of my own father’s accomplishments even after he got sick and his determination to get better. He had progressed so well that I was able to take him to his 60th high school reunion in Florida and that was one of my proudest accomplishments. I was able to get him there and give him that moment in his life to see his old friends. That was all him and his hard work.
My dad spending the afternoon with his old classmates.
My father conversing with his classmates
I dedicate this blog with much love and respect to my father, Warren, whose determination and hard work showed me that anything is possible. You just have to believe that things will get better.
To all of my readers and fellow bloggers following my blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. I created two more blog sites to accompany the main site.
I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ and ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ to take what I have discovered on the walk around the city and put it into more detail.
I created ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’ to feature all the small and medium museums, pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that I have found along the way in my walking the streets of the island and in the outlining areas of Manhattan. There are loads of sites you can easily miss either by not visiting the neighborhoods by foot or not consulting a guidebook. Most of the these places are not visited by most residents of the City and should not be missed.
I never realized how many small museums exist in New York City, let alone the outer boroughs and in New Jersey. I have discovered so many wonderful and interesting artifacts in these museums that not only have so much historical value but they also deal with local history.
Gallery Bergen at Bergen Community College
There are so many pocket parks, community gardens and historical sites that you would miss if you did not walk the neighborhoods. What has also been fascinating about it is the people you meet along the way that volunteer in these facilities. There is so much pride to be had by these local residents dedicating their time to make these places successful.
‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC.Wordpress.com’ is my latest site:
I am featuring and promoting wonderful local restaurants that I have found along the way when doing the walk as well as places I have recently visited outside the city for $10.00 and below. I am not just featuring them for their price but for the quality of the food, the selection and the portion size.
Delicious Dumplings at ‘Dumplings’ on Henry Street
These little ‘hole in the wall’ dining establishments offer a good meal at a fair price as well as supporting the local economy. I have a very limited budget for meals and thought this blog site would help all of you economize when touring New York City and the outlying regions. I cross reference my reviews on TripAdvisor.com.
For anyone thinking of doing a similar project like ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’, I want to let you know how expensive it is to do. I have to pay not just for bus tickets, subway passes, meals, donations to museums and historical sites but the general wear and tear on my clothes. I am on my third pair of sneakers due to this walk. This is why you need to set a budget for it:
Please check out my fire fighting blog sites, ‘The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association’, ‘tbcfma.Wordpress.com’, where I am blogging about the activities of the association that I am volunteering for at the home on a quarterly basis and the support that the organization gives to The New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton, New Jersey. Firemen for all over Bergen County, where I live, volunteer their time up at the nursing home with activities to engage and cheer up our fellow fire fighters.
The second site about fire fighting I blog about is ‘The Brothers of Engine One Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department”, ‘EngineOneHasbrouckHeightsFireDepartmentNJ.Wordpress.com’, where I blog about the activities of Engine Company One, in which I am a member, as part of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. We do a lot of volunteer work for the department and many of our members are very active and hold a lot of positions on the department.
The Brothers of Engine One HHFD (site now closed-Blogs moved to section of MywalkinManhattan.com called “My life as a Fireman”):
The most frequented of my blogs is “BergenCountyCaregiver.com’, a caregivers blog site to help adult caregivers take care of their loved ones. This helps caregivers navigate a very broken system and put all sorts of programs that might help them all in one place to read and chose what might help them. This deals with county, state and federal programs that most social workers miss because there are so many of them that don’t get a lot of attention. It is by far the most popular site.
The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association
I wanted to share these with my readers and thank you for following my main blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’. Please also share this with your friends who are visiting New York City to really tour the city by foot and see it for its own beauty and uniqueness.
I started walking the streets of East Harlem after a long day in the Soup Kitchen. They keep me very busy there and I had to work the busy bread station. It can very harried if there are any sweets such as pastries and doughnuts to give out. I was worn out but still carried on.
I took the number six subway uptown to 110th Street and started my day with lunch at the Blue Sky Deli (Haiji’s) at 2135 First Avenue again for another chopped cheese sandwich. I am beginning to love these things. For five dollars and my budget on the project, it just makes sense. Plus it is nice to sit in Jefferson Park and just relax and watch the kids play soccer while I am eating. I don’t know if it was the sandwich or all the walking but I had stomach craps for the rest of the day. It was a long day of walking.
Blue Sky Deli is now known as Harlem Taste Deli at 2135 First Avenue
I started the day by retracing my steps on 110th and looking over all the housing projects that line this part of First Avenue. I looked along the long line that is First Avenue and made sure to walk this part of the street as quick as possible. It does not start to get sketchy until about 105th Street but still you want to get through as fast as possible. Walking eight blocks across and back is impossible to do in one day even walking fast so I broke it up into two and a half separate days.
East River Projects at 105th and First Avenue
Along most of these blocks I was retracing what I saw along the Avenues and there is a lot of new construction and renovating along the way. A lot of buildings are being sandblasted to their original beauty and along the way there are little surprises along the way to discover. I just wanted to let readers know that since I had already walked First Avenue and the side streets on both sides, when I reached First Avenue when walking the streets, I did not cross the street and stayed on the west side of the avenue.
Most of the side streets I had walked already in some form along the way of walking the Avenues and took time out revisit many of the parks and restaurants that I had traveled previously. There are still many gems in this neighborhood that you should take time to visit. In some parts of the neighborhood, I would suggest going during the day when many other people are around. Even as safe as Manhattan has gotten over the years, I still look over my shoulder all the time and watch everyone no matter what neighborhood I am in.
I made several walks through the housing projects all over the neighborhood. You can really understand the complexity of the projects by walking through them as many as times as I did. It really is a different life. Sometimes I get the impression that being piled up in one complex is not good for anyone. The yards are not properly taken care of and playgrounds that are not kept in great shape.
Yet there are signs that residents have made it their own though. I walked through the Dewitt Clinton, Franklin, Lehman and Washington Carver Housing complexes and here and there are raised beds for fruits, vegetables and flowers. Some residents have taken it upon themselves to clean up the garbage in the playgrounds and paint the equipment and benches. Some make their own repairs in the play areas and then stand guard, watching what the kids are doing. I discovered this as I walked through the Washington Houses three times to complete 108th, 107th and 106th by criss-crossing the open air park in between the complex. People kept looking at me walking through park.
Along the way, I discovered many small community gardens tucked between buildings such as the Neighbors of Vega Baja Garden at 109th between First and Second Avenues and the Humaniano Community Garden at 108th between First and Second Avenues. These small patches of green make the block. Hidden behind fences, I can see that the neighborhood puts a lot of pride into landscaping them and planting them. Some times they are open to the public but I just walk by because no one is there.
I was back at Make & Bake Pizza at 1976 Third Avenue at 108th Street for lunch again (See my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). For a dollar this is great pizza and they give you a nice size slice. The restaurants in this are around the three local schools offer menus with reasonable prices catering to the kids and their families so take time to explore them. Mr. Moe’s is right down the road and I can still taste that chopped cheese sandwich.
Make & Bake Pizza at 1976 Third Avenue
I also saw some of my favorite ‘street art’ murals on these blocks. Between 109th and 107th there are several that I saw. This ‘Spiritual Art’ work has almost an Aztec/Mayan look to it and its use of color and motion are so detailed. Take time to look at these works of art. Some are ‘tags’ while others the artist was trying to tell a story. Look to the side of the buildings and the sides of schools. You might see some on the sliding doors of businesses. There is a lot of talent here. If there was only a gallery for these kids.
Art at East 104th Street
As you travel to the corner of Lexington and 107th, the neighborhood starts to change again once you pass the Franklin Housing Project. The buildings around this area are being fixed up and sandblasted back to their original beauty and new restaurants and shops are opening bringing a little life back to the area. By Hope Community Inc., there is are interesting portraits of Latino Cultural leaders. The detailed portrait of Pedro Pietri by James de la Vega is interesting and take time to admire the work.
Perdo Pietri by James de la Vega
My first day walking the streets, I made it to the corner of 105th and First Avenue by the beginning of nightfall and decided to stop there. I was passing the East River Houses again and there were some shady characters walking around so I decided to finish 105th and rounded 104th Street for my next stop in the neighborhood and relaxed in the Central Park Conservatory at 1233 Fifth on the corner of East 104th and Fifth Avenue for the rest of the evening. My feet were killing me at that point.
Central Park Conservatory at 1233 Fifth Avenue
My next trip up to the neighborhood was June 21st, the third Anniversary of ‘MywalkinManhattan’. I can’t believe it has been three years since I started walking the island of Manhattan. I still remember my first day walking in Marble Hill on Father’s Day 2015. I honestly thought I would finish in one summer and here I am at 96th Street on the East Side with the rest of the island ahead of me.
I started at 96th Street and walked the length of it again from the park to the river. It was sad that the tulips along the river had died by the time I got back. They had been a colorful display by the path entering the river. Even the flowers at the Park Avenue Mall at Park and 97th Street started to change. Spring was giving way to the summer months and you could see the difference in the plants and trees. Between the plantings on the streets and second stage of flowers in Central Park, June was here.
You begin to notice distinctions in the grid pattern of the neighborhood block by block. By East 97th Street, you will see a real change. The Metropolitan Hospital, the Department of Sanitation and the Washington Housing projects set almost a border between the Upper East Side and Spanish Harlem once you pass Third Avenue.
Along the border of 97th Street on the grounds of the projects, the residents have set up a series of vegetable and fruit gardens and have done some landscaping that have some character to the lawns of the housing complex. I give the residents credit for their creativity and I will have to revisit the site over the summer months to see how it turns out. Also along the street is the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Catholic Church, which is the only one of its kind in NYC. Stop and look at the detail of the church.
By 99th Street, the Washington Carver Houses start to dominate the middle of the neighborhood and Mt. Sinai cuts the neighborhood between the Upper East Side from Spanish Harlem to the east to Park Avenue. I tried once again to visit the Martha Stewart Garden in the Washington Carver complex at Madison Avenue and East 99th Street but again the gate was locked. At this point, it looked like it could have used a gardener to touch it up.
Martha Stewart Garden at Madison Avenue and East 99th Street
I continued the zig-zag through the streets having criss-crossed again through the projects that I had walked a couple of times before. Between Park and Lexington Avenues as you round 101st Street, you can find some beautifully maintained brownstones and landscaped stairs with potted plants. It looks like something you would see in the village downtown.
This small break in the grid pattern shows what the neighborhood once was before the city leveled it for public housing. People are really moving back in this pocket of the neighborhood and fixing up the buildings. Here is where you will find the street art on the walls and fences. I saw a lot of the yarn art I saw uptown but am not sure if this was the same artist.
I had a funny incident with a young police officer at the 23rd Precinct on the corner of 102nd and Third Avenue. He was making a phone call and had just finished and really must have wondered what I was doing in the neighborhood. He took the time to yell a ‘hello’ to me and I just looked at him for a minute and said ‘hello’ back and waited for him to say something. I guess my progressive glasses must have given me a professional look and he did not say anything else. He watched me walk through the Washington complex and strangely enough waited for me to come back and then watched me walk back up 102nd on my way back up to Fifth Avenue. I saw him staring at me again and I just nodded and smiled and kept walking. I didn’t know that me walking around was so interesting.
Between Park Avenue and Third Avenue up to where the projects start again by 109th Avenue and Madison and Fifth Avenue is where you are seeing where the neighborhood is starting to gentrify and people are starting to fix up the buildings and the new restaurants and shops are starting to pop up. There is a pizzeria on Lexington Avenue that I have on my bucket list.
Thank God I did not have to venture past 105th Street as it was getting darker. Between Second Avenue and First Avenue after 101st Street, I always felt that the people in the housing complexes were watching me. More like staring at me yet I could not catch them actually doing it. I guess I really stood out.
As I rounded 104th onto 105th Streets on First Avenue, I must have made quite the impression walking down the street. A group of guys, I swear to God, looked like they jumped when they saw me round the corner. When I had to walk back up the opposite side of the southern part of 105th Street and First Avenue to complete this part of the neighborhood, they completely disappeared. I swear I thought that they were going to gang up on me and jump me. They also gave me the strangest looks. It reminded me of walking on 155th Street by the river and what I saw up by the Dyckman Houses. I just don’t blend in.
I walked past the parks along 103rd and 105th Streets and brought a quick snack into the White Playground on 105th Street and relaxed for a bit just watching the parents watch the kids playing on the park equipment. I really like this park. They keep it in good shape and the parents in the neighborhood really seem to enjoy coming here. I walked past Maggie’s Garden at 1576 Lexington Avenue again on 101st Street and Lexington Avenue but the gate was locked on this day.
I ended the afternoon walking through Central Park and walking around the length of the reservoir and watch the joggers pass me by. If they only knew how much I had already walked that afternoon.
It really made me think, looking at the crowd of joggers in the park and the people walking around the Central Park Conservatory that early part of the evening, how many of the people I passed that day venture past their part of neighborhood. These blocks have really been an eye-opener in urban planning gone wrong and how a neighborhood can be affected by the wrong decisions in building efforts. I saw a lot of people in the neighborhood trying to improve things on their own terms and take matters in their own hands.
I just don’t think that this part of Manhattan has to worry about getting too ‘hipster’ or ‘Yuppie’ unless the city sells off the projects and knocks them down. Even if they did, the neighborhood has its own character and I credit the people living there for making it that way. There is no real way to explain it without you, the reader walking these streets yourself and soaking up the culture that is East Spanish Harlem. Do yourself a favor though, don’t dress like me
Happy Third Anniversary and a very Happy Father’s Day to my Dad!
Thank you for inspiring this walk around Manhattan!
For checking out the street art and the community gardens in the neighborhood please walk the area. Things are changing so fast that you never know when something can disappear. The Community Gardens have their own hours depending on the season.
I started the first day of walking on Father’s Day, June 21, 2015. I thought it was coincidental that the first day of Summer was Father’s Day, so it made the start of my walk even more special. I would have spent this day with my dad doing something special as we always did.
So in the spirit of the day and in memory to him, I started this project, “MywalkinManhattan” exploring the island that we both loved so much. I took the number One subway uptown to Marble Hill, a section of Manhattan that is located on mainland side of the Bronx.
Marble Hill is the northern most neighborhood in Manhattan and has a very interesting history. Marble Hill has been occupied since the Dutch controlled the area. On August 18, 1646, Governor Willem Kieft, the Dutch Director of New Netherland, signed a land grant that comprised of the whole present community. The name Marble Hill was conceived when Darius C. Crosby came up with the name in 1891 from the local deposits of dolomite marble underlying it. Dolomite marble is a soft rock that crops out in the Inwood and Marble Hill communities, known as Inwood marble. This is the marble that was used for the federal buildings in lower Manhattan when New York was the capital of the United States in the 1780’s. (Wikipedia)
After an increase in ship traffic in the 1890’s, the United States Army Corps of Engineers determined that a canal was needed for a shipping route between the Hudson and Harlem rivers. In 1895, the construction of the Harlem River Ship Channel rendered. Marble Hill became an island bounded by the canal to the south and the original course of the Harlem River to the north. The Greater New York Chapter of 1897 designated Marble Hill as part of the Borough of Manhattan. Effective January 1, 1914, by an act of the New York State Legislature Bronx County was created but Marble Hill remained as part of New York County. Later in 1914, the old river was filled in, physically connecting Marble Hill to the Bronx and the rest of North American Mainland. (Wikipedia)
So I took the subway to the Marble Hill-225 Station and started the walk. Who knew while it had been sunny and warm the whole trip into the city from New Jersey and on the trip up that the heavens would open up once I got the subway stop and I would have to run from the subway station to the River Plaza Mall which is around the corner from the subway station. I would spend a half hour at Target looking for a good map of the island. By the time I paid for it, it cleared and was still cloudy. I have to say for an city neighborhood, Marble Hill has the best of the suburbs with many chain stores and restaurants within reach of everyone in the community. There are two malls in the neighborhood, one inside and the other right around the corner from the public housing.
The Train station at Marble Hill
I walked Exterior Street first, which is where the Marble Hill Houses are located. Not much to report but the street could use a good weed wacking. It was so over-grown that you have to walk in the street. The housing in this area is pretty standard with a large complex of buildings with a common yard and playground with benches. Because of the weather, there weren’t many people outside or on the streets.
The Marble Hill Houses are on one side of Broadway
Once you cross Broadway, you have an array of unique turn of the last century homes mixed in with low pre-war apartment buildings. The Victorian style homes that line Jacobus Street and Fort Charles Street have true character and beautiful urban landscaping for the space the homes have for yards. There are all sorts of secret doors and terraces that you can only see from the street and there was a lot of pride in this neighborhood.
Marble Hill Homes are quite unique
From the core of Marble Hill, you would never know that you were in the city. It is good to take time to walk these small streets, especially on a nice day to enjoy flowers and plantings from the sidewalks. Even by the Marble Hill Houses, someone joined in and planted a vegetable garden on raised beds by Broadway. By the middle of the summer, this will be filled with fruits and vegetables to the residents that planted it.
Broadway is the commercial strip on both sides of Marble Hill that continues around the corner of 225 Street by the subway station entrance. For a quick snack, bypass the traditional fast food places in the neighborhood and stop by Taveras Food Center at 5193 Broadway for their Pastilitos (a type of Cuban Pastry similar to Empanada). They make them in both chicken and beef and at a $1.00 they make a nice quick meal while walking around.
Fresh Pastilitos at Taveras Food Center
Walk around the corner with these treats and admire the view of the river at 225th Street or the quirky street paintings by the downtown subway entrance. Even though some people might consider this a nuisance, if you have seen the recent prices for urban art, it might be easier to pull down the wall and bring it to market. You never know when one of these ‘taggers’ may become famous.
Walking down Broadway from Taveras, stop at Rosarina Bakery at 5219 Broadway for a doughnut. Their thickly iced doughnuts are a real treat for a $1.00 and they have a nice selection of other pastries as well. There are all sorts of small businesses along Broadway that cater to the residents of Marble Hill, so take time to explore some of these shops.
Rosarina Bakery in the strip of stores by Broadway
Marble Hill can be walked in a few hours but take time to stroll along the winding streets of the middle of the neighborhood and admire the homes and gardens and take time to walk along the river on 225th Street before taking the subway back to where you are going. The hills and parks are very pretty as the sun goes down.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad with all the love a son could send you!
To get there: take the Number One subway to Marble Hill (you can walk the whole neighborhood in two hours)
(This project is dedicated with much love to my father, Warren George Watrel, who still inspires me!)
Hello and Welcome to ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’, an extensive project to walk the entire island of Manhattan. My name is Justin Watrel and I will be your guide in exploring the island of Manhattan, searching every nook and cranny of the island for the unusual, the usual and the in between.
‘Walking the Island of Manhattan’ may not be terribly original as there are about four other people doing the project at the same time, but this project is different in the way I see the island. Not rushing through to prove I have walked it but to see what these neighborhoods are all about and what is there to discover and enjoy.
For all you ‘Manhattanites’ who think you know your island, I will show you things that you have never seen and places you have never gone, restaurants you have never tried and historical sites and museums you never knew existed. Maybe just a few blocks from where you live. As the son of two “Brooklynites’, I have traveled around the city a lot since 1969, my first time in the City when my parents took me to Chinatown to Hunan Gardens, a Chinese restaurant on Mott Street. I ended up there for eight birthdays until it closed in the early 2000’s.
Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown
“My Walk in Manhattan” is a project to walk the entire island of Manhattan in New York City from top to bottom from the beginning of the Summer of 2015 until I finish the walk. Manhattan is 13.4 miles long and 2.3 miles wide and covers a total area 23.7 square miles. Along the way of walking the streets of Manhattan, I will be walking into parks, museums, restaurants and looking at the architecture of the neighborhoods and the buildings in them.
My soon to be path around the Island of Manhattan
I have found that people miss a lot when they walk with their cellphones and only look down at it. When you look up, you see the true beauty of the City. You see the stone work of old brownstones, you see small boutiques off the beaten track and can indulge in those hole in the wall restaurants that are usually found by foreign tourists. Nothing is more interesting then seeing a stone face on a building staring back at you, a tiny pocket park that residents created out of a garbage dump and that small entrepreneur trying to create a vision.
The Cable Building at 631 Broadway
This project was inspired by many things. My major inspiration for this project follows the recent passing of my father, Warren George Watrel. My dad and I loved to walk around the city and spend the day at various museums, walking around Central Park and the Conservatory, taking the subway to try new restaurants in Chinatown or Little Italy or any new place I had read about in the Village Voice (my Bible when looking for things to do on weekends).
Columbus Circle on the West Side
My father was a ‘Brooklynite’ from Williamsburg (long before it was ‘Hipster Central’, he would have been amused) and loved the city, so this voyage is dedicated to him. Having watched the movie “The Way” with Martin Sheen, we look for inspiration in our travels and try to find the answers to why something happens the way it does. Walking to explore does that.
I was my father’s caregiver after his illness hit him and I continued my trips into Manhattan as my father got better. It was the inspiration to this site’s sister site, ‘BergenCountyCaregiver.com’. After he passed in 2014, I wanted to spend Father’s Day doing something different yet do something that we would have done together. Thus started the first walk in Marble Hill.
My first Day in Marble Hill, Manhattan
Another inspiration was a recent article in New York Magazine entitled “Which New York is Yours? A Fierce Preservationist and a Pro-Development Blogger Debate” in which the author Justin Davidson asks about the disappearance of New York’s Character. “What does that character actually consist of? If we did make an all-out effort to preserve it, how would we know what to protect?” How much is the city changing? I have worked off and on in New York City since 1988 and the answer is in some parts of Manhattan it is night and day. Could you imagine walking in Bryant or Tompkins Square Parks in 1990?
I did and they were very different places back then. With the changing Zoning Laws and gentrification of many neighborhoods, its not the city of 1970’s movies. What I am looking for are those unique little pocket parks that we pass, those statues of people we have no clue who they are and those historic plaques of places gone by and people we don’t know.
Astor Row Houses in Harlem
Another are the books, ‘Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its Soul’ by Jeremiah Moss and ‘The Death and Life of the Great American City’ by Jane Jacobs. How do cities keep progressing and changing? How does change effect a city and what direction are we going in? Does the Island of Manhattan have to be all luxury or can it be mixed to help keep the creativity alive and keep innovation going? Do we want the big bad 70’s again or the luxury brand of the 2010’s and 20’s? How is it impacting and changing the city? How much has Manhattan and the rest of the boroughs changed with the rezoning of the city under the Bloomberg Administration. This can also be looked at in the documentaries “Gut Renovation” and “My Brooklyn”.
The last inspiration was my doctor. He said I have to lose ten pounds. I am hardly over-weight but like many people he feels that I will be healthier if I lose the weight and keep it off. I want to see how a walk like this tones the body.
Bowling Green Park in Lower Manhattan
I know many people before have walked the entire length of Manhattan while others have or are attempting to walk the every block in the city, mine has a more personal reason. To really see the city I love from the ground up and explore parts of the island that I have never ventured to and see what I find there. Along the way, I want to see how the city changes while I am taking the walk. This is not the “Christopher Columbus” attitude most people are taking when exploring the neighborhoods but more honoring those residents who are trying to make the City better.
My project also includes stops at various points of interest and to get a better feel for all the neighborhoods, I am walking both sides of the street to get a better look at the buildings in each neighborhood and what defines the character of a neighborhood. I get the impression from some of the readers of Mr. Davidson’s article and from comments on the Internet that Manhattan is some “playground of the wealthy that is being gentrified to the hilt and soon no one will be able to afford any part of Manhattan”. Like in any place, there are people struggling everyday to survive in New York and like every city in the country, people are moving back in droves and want a quality of life for them and their families.
Delacorte Clock in Central Park
In the Age of COVID, it has been interesting starting the project again. I had been on hold from March 13th, 2020 through June 10th, 2020 when the City was closed for anyone other than First Responder and people who had to work there. I was so happy when I could return and continue walking Manhattan. My walk down Broadway for the forth time was a surprise with all the businesses closed on the Upper West Side and I met the challenge of “The Great Saunter Walk” , the 32 mile walk around the perimeter of the island in 14 hours. There is now more to see and explore and write.
The COVID world though has me facing closed businesses that I have covered over the years. Restaurants and stores that I have mentioned in this blog since 2015 have since closed permanently or closed for the time being, I am not too sure. We also have a walking world of masks that keep us safe. The times in Manhattan are changing from the way we eat in restaurants to the way we shop and visit museums.
SoHo boarded up after the June Riots 2020
Fifth Avenue boarded up after the June Riots 2020
Things are constantly changing in Manhattan since the riots in June and COVID keeps raging in the City with people not wanting to wear masks. I hope that things will get back to normal soon. I still see people out and about doing their thing and enjoying the warm weather so I am optimistic about life. Still though, Manhattan keeps changing with the Theater District boarded up and Chinatown looking like a ghost town. We will see how New York City recovers from COVID like the rest of the country.
I have now expanded this site to three other blogs, ‘VisitingaMuseum’ (VisitingaMuseum.com), which features all the historical sites, community gardens and small museums and galleries I find in not just Manhattan but throughout the rest of the NYC and beyond in the suburbs.
‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC’ (DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com), where I feature wonderful little restaurants, bodegas and bakeries that I find along the way. The one requirement is that the meal is around $10.00 and under (for us budget minded people).
“LittleShoponMainStreet” (LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) where I find unique and creative stores in Manhattan and locally whose merchandising, displays, merchandise and service stand out in an age of Amazon. This harks back to a time when shopping was enjoyable and not a chore.
I have also added two new sections to the blog, “My life as a Fireman”, which I have moved from an old site that I had created for my old engine company to describe my experiences on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department over the last 16 years. Also, this is what takes up my time when I am not exploring New York City.
Justin Watrel, Fireman
Another is “A Local Journey” are tours of downtown’s and communities outside the New York City area to travel to when you need to escape the City’s clutches. I have specific guidelines in finding stores, restaurants and museums/cultural sites in the area. This has lead me to really explore my own town of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ and exploring out of town destinations like Red Hook, NY and Beach Haven/Long Beach Island, NJ. You would be amazed on what these small towns offer.
Downtown Red Hook, NY in the Summer months
So to readers who will be following me on the journey walking through Manhattan and beyond, I hope you enjoy trip walking by my side!
Me in Red Hook, Brooklyn discovering my new love in “Street Art”
This project is dedicated to my father, Warren George Watrel, with lots of love and many wonderful adventures and memories to keep me company as I take “My Walk in Manhattan”.
My dad, Warren and I at a Grandparent’s Day Brunch in 2013
This walking song plays in my mind when I start walking. Thank you Mary Mary!