*Note: There is no delivery and no Credit Cards-Cash Only(Note: Since COVID the prices have gone up one or two dollars).
There is not a bad thing to say about Barcelona’s Restaurant and Bar. It is classic North Jersey restaurant that has not changed over time. I once took my mother there for dinner and she said that it not changed since she was a teenager. This type of time warp has not affected the food or the prices or the service. All are still terrific.
The waiters here are such characters. It is so casual that you feel like you have known them for years. Most of the staff has been there for many years and they always treat you nicely.
I do not think my feet touched the ground the entire month of October. Halloween night was spent in classes doing presentations and starting a new class on the Metaverse at NYU. It was not too awful as it rained during the parade for about an hour and was not the usual clear sunny (and usually warm) day that it had been in the past. Even though my partner at the parade, Mark Schuyler, said it was fun, the rain would be a bit of a deterrent.
The Village Merchant windows
The end of September lead to the crazy days of October as I settled into my classes at NYU and continued to get more assignments than I could keep up with. Between the three classes that I was taking at NYU and the three classes at Bergen Community College that I was teaching, my hands were so full that I never stopped running around. Everyone just kept adding more and more and I just had to keep up.
The Village Merchant windows at Halloween
The weather was surprising warm through early November this year which made the walk from Port Authority to campus a real pleasure. This is how I knew that Halloween was on its way. Here and there amongst the great little stores in the neighborhood, the window displays were full of pumpkins, witches, ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night.
The Salvation Army windows around the corner from NYU
Many of the merchants in the neighborhood really decorated their windows and it made it fun to exploring the side streets.
The Theater around the corner from NYU
As I walked through Washington Square Park, I thought back to the Haunted New York Ghost Tour that I took with the Cornell Club the year before and passed some of the sites in the neighborhood that we visited on the tour especially the “Hanging Tree” at the edge of the park.
The “Hanging Tree” in Washington Square Park where they used to hang prisoners until Society moved to the neighborhood and asked them to stop.
I also remembered that Washington Square Park was a giant cemetery with a park on top of it. I am not too sure if people in the neighborhood or my fellow NYU classmates know all of this. Every once in a while when they have to fix the pipes near the edge of the park, they hit the tombs where bodies now rest. It is kind of eerie to know that people are buried under where people now play music, dance and protest. Just hope we don’t wake them up (Hee Hee).
Downtown Hasbrouck Heights decorated for Halloween in 2022
In early October, people really get into Halloween in a major way in Hasbrouck Heights and I start noticing that people are decorating their houses more for the holiday. By the end of the month, the Men’s Association starts to run around town judging houses for our annual contest. Some people started decorating early.
The beginnings of Halloween in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
The beginnings of Fall in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
Looks like the competition will be fierce this year
My neighbors even put their evil scarecrow “Giggles” outside to scare the passersby on Route 46 East. I swear this thing has a mind of its own.
“Giggles the Scarecrow” at Route 46 East in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
The story of “Giggles the Scarecrow” on MywalkinManhattan.com Day One Hundred and Eighty-One:
As the temperature stayed warm and the trees stayed green, I could see the windows in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights start to change as the Annual Halloween Children’s Painting Contest for the elementary schools began. This goes on for about a week and sometimes the paintings stay up until Christmas time as people don’t realize that they are still on the windows. Some of these kids are really creative and do a nice job.
The Hasbrouck Heights Halloween WIndow Painting Contest
The merchants in our downtown like in the Village start to get creative with the window displays and this is why on the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association we added a Merchant winner this year to our Halloween House Decorating Contest. So many of the merchants do such a terrific job of getting into the spirit of the holiday. Halloween is a big business now.
Heights Flower Shoppe was our winner this year and this picture does not give the display justice
Spindler’s Bake Shop decorated inside and out to be the Runner Up
Residents of Hasbrouck Heights for Halloween last year went all out decorating their houses for the holidays. This year it seemed a bit more subdued as the economy, the elections and just the general environment seemed a bit testy, people held back a bit but some residents went all out and by the end of the month we started the Second Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association House Decorating Contest with a new Merchant Category. Halloween then really kicked off.
I knew that Halloween was coming when I saw the kids on the Boulevard painting away at the Merchants windows in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights the first week of October. The funny part is that I sometimes see these paintings through Christmas.
The kids do such a great job though and they are so creative. Here is a sampling up and down the Boulevard that I saw when I was judging businesses for Halloween. This is just a sampling of some of the paintings that the children of Hasbrouck Heights in 2022:
Some of the paintings on the Boulevard with the winner
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
Paintings on the Boulevard
The contest is really popular every year and there are winners at every level
With classes in full swing and projects that I had to work on it made it tough to have free time to visit a lot of places that I had done in the past, so I concentrated on new experiences and trying to revisit the places I had when I had a free moment. It took a lot of planning, but I was able to get to upstate New York and down to Southern New Jersey again. In simple terms, between classes and work, I never stopped running around for the entire month of October. I did a lot of driving this month.
First I had to spend my birthday in class making a major presentation in my ‘Business Models’ class and my ‘Travel Trends’ class. That was nerve wracking enough but I got an “A” on both so I was really happy. I did the project on Wheelchair tourism in NYC and the challenges that a person could face when visiting Manhattan in a wheelchair.
The in the evening, I was in my Business Models class explaining the use of the “Garbage Box”, a mythical product that I created to contain all the street garbage from leaking on the sidewalk and making the sidewalk a bit more attractive by packaging the garbage. That earned me another “A”.
The “Garbage Box” prototype that when after class I really used it and packed garbage inside and left it at the curb. See how much nicer the garbage looks now?
Between those two classes and work on my two classes getting papers graded and getting quizzes done, I was burnt out. When I got home from my Thursday night class in Lyndhurst, I went to Heights Bar & Grill in Hasbrouck Heights for a drink and a snack. Happy Birthday finally to me!
My birthday dinner (two weeks late) at Heights Bar & Grill. The Cosmos and Pizza were amazing
When I finally got those projects over and done with for school, I went Upstate to the Hudson River Valley for the Sheep & Wool Festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds on October 16th to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and to walk around the fairgrounds.
I don’t think the festival anticipated that many people that day
It ended up being almost 75 degrees that day but felt warmer. The fairgrounds were packed the entire afternoon. Not quite during the Dutchess County Fair but the food vendors were out in full force and that made me happy. There were not as many as during the fair and that led to a lot of long lines. This is the reason why I decided to walk around for a bit.
The large crowds at the food concessions at the Sheep & Wool Festival
Please enjoy my blog on the visiting the Sheep & Wool Festival Day One Hundred & Forty Nine:
I made my way to the animal pens and the Arts & Crafts sellers. You could see that everyone was getting ready for the Christmas holiday season. There were all sorts of items for stocking stuffers and people had all sorts of beautiful handcrafted ornaments and Santas. I love visiting my favorite woodcarving artists where I get my mother’s Santas every year.
Because of the warm weather, I don’t think the festival figured on the number of people
The guys were all there and all three of them showed me what they had to offer this Christmas. Since I never carry cash around (a mugger would hate me) and they never take credit cards, its makes it easy to make a selection. I have to buy the cheapest most creative one each year.
The wood carvers are so talented. I buy my Santas from these three men every year
I could not decide so I told the guys I would do what I usually did, see what was left over when I got back and make a decision then. I think they get a kick out of that philosophy of mine. I walked around the rest of the building to see what was there but I have a tough time spending $10.00 on a bar of soap or $20.00 on a bottle of honey. I do have limits on what I will spend money on.
The crowds on a warm October afternoon at the Sheep & Wool Festival
I walked around the rest of the buildings looking at the arts & crafts, a lot of yarn and crocheted articles at the booths and the homemade food stuffs. There was a lot to choose from. As I left the buildings with all the homemade articles, I passed displays for Halloween and could not even think about Christmas at this point (it’s always there at Halloween anyway) and remembered which holiday was coming up.
I loved this ‘Disco’ Ghost display in the main buildings
When I got to the animal pens that are usually filled with animals at the top of the hill were filled with more vendors. There were all different types of things to buy from ceramics to homemade flowers to honey and other wonderful gourmet foods to handmade cosmetic products. There really was something for everyone here.
I saw one of my favorite Children’s Arts & Crafts artist’s at the fair, Susannah White and I see her work every year. She creates the most wonderful dolls, fairy houses and masks. Everything is done by hand and her prices are very fair for the craftsmanship and attention to detail that each piece has to it.
I love the creativity and attention to detail this merchant has in her work
These are some of her finger puppets and masks that she create for ‘children’ but I see plenty of adults buying them too. I have to think about getting one of these in the future. They are ‘art’.
Another one of my favorite ‘children’s artists’ was there also displaying her puppets and sculpture as well. Artist Bonnie Hall creates these fantastic 3-D beasts of the imagination. They are so unusual and cute.
I walked the rest of the booths but nothing stood out as these few did. I always look forward to seeing these vendors and what they have come up with in terms of new merchandise.
I then visited the animal pens and made it in time to see the sheep being sheared and groomed. There are some people from the City that looked amused by all of this with a look in their eyes like, “it’s this quaint” when the very clothes they are wearing were created with a process that begins like this.
Some of the groomers explained how they do this and the process behind the step by step process it takes to shear an animal. Also, the difference in the wool from one part of the body to another and the difference in feel of it. I as a retailer thought this was fascinating. It is almost the same as when you skin an animal for its pelt. What is the difference between long hair fur and short hair fur.
The sheep looked they did not mind all the attention either making it a show of itself. They were probably used to all the attention at these shows after all these years.
I loved walking along the pens and looking at all the sheep and lambs staring back at me as well. I think they are amused by all of this as much as we are. These animals must be so used to human contact that they are jaded by it. Still it makes for an interesting interaction.
I walked around the fairgrounds to the rest of the pens and there was a combination of sheep and lambs. There were displays of the animals and the groomers were showing everyone how to care for them.
After I toured all the pens and barns with arts and crafts, I toured the small museums on the fairgrounds. I toured the Century Museum Village, which is a permanent museum on the property which shows life in rural New York State between 1880-1930. There was also the Schoolhouse Museum and Train Station Museum right up the hill from it. These give a look into Dutchess Counties past and compares how much has changed to today.
The Century Museum Village on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds
The inside of the museum and the counties rural past
My review on VisitingaMuseum.com on the Century Museum Village:
By the end of the afternoon, the lines had gone down for food but not by much. I still had to wait in line at Janek’s for a Cheeseburger for a half hour. The lines only went down about an hour before the Sheep & Wool Festival closed for the day.
Janek’s makes the BEST burgers ever!
My favorite lunch at the fair is Janek’s ‘Piggyback Burger’, which is a freshly made burger topped with Cheddar Cheese, pulled pork, cured ham and topped with barbecue sauce and homemade pickles. Biting into it is like biting into a piece of heaven. The burger does not need any salt or pepper and make sure to get it with the side of their homemade pierogis with sour cream. I only eat this twice a year, once at the Dutchess County Fair and once at the Sheep & Wool Festival and I am satisfied for the rest of the year.
“The Piggyback Burger” with the side of homemade pierogis
As I relaxed and enjoyed my lunch, I could see that the sun was starting to move around, and the day was starting to get darker out. I had not realized that I spent the entire day at the fair. Time really went by fast especially as I had never seen crowds like this at the fair before. Having such warm weather made a big difference in the crowds. I think the food vendors will rethink this last year since there were a lot less then for the Dutchess County Fair.
As I left the fair that afternoon, I passed the St. James Episcopal Church in Hyde Park who were holding the Historic Graveyard Tours that evening. I did not have a reservation but stopped in to see if I could tour the graveyard that evening. I had planned on coming up the next week but since I was here, I figured why not try now (Thank God I did because it rained the next weekend). I stopped at the church first in the afternoon just in case I could not make the tour. No one was around but I took a quick tour of the cemetery before I left for the Sheep & Wool Festival.
The sign outside the church
The St. James Episcopal Church of Hyde Park at 4526 Albany Post Road
I walked down the path marked for that evening’s Cemetery Walk and got to see the graves and crypts before it got dark. In the start of the fall, the cemetery was very picturesque on a sunny afternoon. There was almost an elegance to the cemetery with its detailed tombstones and colorful foliage. It looked like a quiet and elegant resting place for these residents of Hyde Park. There are a lot of famous names buried here.
St. James Church before you enter the cemetery
The start of the Cemetery Walk during the day
Walking through the cemetery during the day is interesting
A walk through the cemetery at St. James
Following the path of the Cemetery Walk during the day
The Livingston Mausoleum at the St. James Cemetery
Sara Delano Roosevelt (the President’s Mother) gravesite at St. James Cemetery
Walking through the tombstones at St. James along the Cemetery Walk path
The graves at the St. James Cemetery
It is an interesting tour. Before I got to the fair, I had stopped by the church to talk to someone about the tour, but no one was around so I just walked the path on my own and took pictures during the day so it least if I could not go on the tour, I had seen the cemetery. It was really interesting. The tour guide took us on a lantern tour on a marked path of the 200-year-old graveyard and we got to meet characters who were buried there portrayed by local actors (who I never know how they do it. They have to sit in a dark cemetery until the next tour comes through).
inside the St. James Episcopal Church before the Cemetery Walk
We met in the church first and did a quick orientation on what to expect and then the tour guide took us on the tour. It was very interesting, and the actors did a good job with each character. We met the following characters:
Captain Isaac Russell, a Revolutionary War Soldier who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill and was present at the surrender of General Burgoyne on October 17th, 1777.
Anna Roosevelt Halstead, the daughter of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. She had served in President Kennedy’s Citizens Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and she also served as the Vice-Chairman of the President’s Commission for the Observance of Human Rights.
Susan Cowman Carter, an early St. James Choir Director and organist.
Christopher Hughes III, a 19th century Hyde Park farmer
Adelaide Roddy, a pioneering early 20th century female Theologian who died on her honeymoon of spinal meningitis.
Arthur (Rube) DeGroff, Hyde Park’s very own Professional Baseball Player who had played with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1905. He played one game in 1906 and then was sent back to the minors.
The tour was very interesting, and each actor did a good job telling their story. The tour guide was right though, you had to stay on the path, or you would trip over a tombstone (as I almost did). I have to say one thing in that I was glad there were so many people on the tour and that the next tour after ours was full as well. Once you passed the lit areas, this cemetery was really gloomy and dark. Even the church looked a little creepy from a distance. Maybe that was the effect that they were going for on the tour. After the tour was over, I headed home.
School got even busier, so I had to pace myself with the activities and I managed to finish all my homework as well as get the students quizzes graded and the papers finished before I left for South Jersey the next weekend. The weather was going to be nice, and I decided to head back down to Salem, NJ again to finish touring some of the historical sites for my blogs and to go on the Salem Haunted Tour of the Downtown business district.
The Salem NJ Walking Ghost Tour in 2023
Before the walking tour there would be a concert “Tunes from the Crypt” at St. John’s Episcopal Church with musician Erik Meyer.
I had seen this tour advertised for many years, but it was tough to go on it from such a distance away. Since the weekend would be open, I hopped in the car on a Friday night and made another reservation at the Inn at Salem Country Club for the night. I was glad that Yvonne, the owner had the room open.
I got down early enough on Friday afternoon to take pictures at the Salem Oak Cemetery, the Salem Historical Society and at various points of interest in Salem’s Historical Downtown.
The historic Salem Oak Cemetery where many of the founders of Salem are buried and was home to the oldest Oak Tree in the State until it fell in 2019.
Downtown Salem has the most beautiful and historical residential district
I snapped pictures all the over the downtown area and managed to get all the pictures that I missed over the summer when I came down to do my blog on the Historic sites of Southern New Jersey (see blog below):
My blog on the Historical Sites of Southern New Jersey: Day Two Hundred and Forty:
Before I took the tour and after I settled into the hotel, I had a quick dinner at Bravo Pizza at 179 West Boardway in Downtown Salem. I must have been attracting attention with all my picture taking in Downtown Salem. Since Salem is not the safest town, some gangbanger looking guys came in while I was eating my meatball hero to check me out. I just stared back, and they disappeared out the back door. I swear everyone thinks I am a Fed.
Bravo Pizza & Pasta at 179 West Broadway is really good and the prices are fair
I was able to get settled into the Inn before the tour and took a lot of pictures of the church’s cemetery before the Haunted Walk and then got to the church in time for the organist started a special Halloween concert. This was taking place before the walking tour. The weather surprisingly cooperated, and it was a warm October weekend.
The Inn at Salem Country Club at 91 Country Club Road (Now called the Salem River Inn)
Once I had eaten and was settled in, it was time to visit the downtown before the concert. Halloween weekend in recent years has gotten much warmer. The night of the concert and the walking tour was not different. It must have been in the mid 60’s the night of the tour.
I was one of the first ones at St. John’s Episcopal Church that evening so I got a prime parking spot right in front of the church and since there were no signs that I could not park there, it was nice that I did not have to move far.
The inside of the church was beautiful with all the historic stained glass windows and wooden pews. I was walking around admiring the church before the concert. What I love about these hundred year old churches is that they have a classic look to them. There is such a history to them. I admired the stained glass windows which were beautiful.
The inside of St. John’s Church
The stained glass windows at the church
The stained glass windows at the church
The church was very impressive. Most of these were Tiffany windows
Still these churches are so old that they have an intriguing look to them with an air of mystery. The interiors look like they belong in a independent horror film.
Even the church had a mysterious look to it at night
Musician Erik Meyer performed a series of classical horror film melodies on the church organ. What I thought was funny was the priest for St. John’s Church did the introduction and made a comment to a packed church full of people of all ages in the pews this was the most amount of people he had seen in the church in a long time.
Musician Erik Meyer dressed as Count Dracula next to the organ
After the concert was over, I talked with Erik Meyer about the irony of performing Halloween music in a church. He said many churches while their thoughts on Halloween are mixed have embraced this type of fundraiser to bring people back to the churches and raise money for them at the same time. He also told me that he had been performing these concerts at churches all over the state for the same reason. They have become very popular.
After the concert was over, the whole group of us at the church headed over to the antique store where we would be starting the Haunted Historical Walking Tour of Downtown Salem. The tour took us from the store to the Salem Historical Society and back. I guess the rest of the Downtown at night was not the safest (I experienced that).
The start of the Ghost Tour
I have to admit the Historic Market Street neighborhood while very pretty and elegant with all the Federalist homes during the day is very pretty, at night it does look pretty spooky.
Downtown Salem Market Street Historic District at night
People did decorate in Downtown Salem, NJ
This townhouse really got into the spirit of Halloween
More detail on the house
Our first stop on the tour was visiting a small Dutch house that was a recreation of old homes that used to be part of the community. The home had been rebuilt in honor of visiting dignitaries visiting from Europe. The house was now a popular tourist site. While we were inside we got to peek inside and see the furnishings and a live fire in the fireplace.
The small Dutch House on the walking tour
I went back the next day and it did not seem that creepy
A Salem resident shares a ghostly tale of his home since moving here
Creepy tales at the Salem Historical Society courtyard
The Society courtyard is less creepy and very beautiful during the day with the fall foliage
Tales at the St. John’s cemetery
The St. John’s Cemetery is a very interesting place to visit during the day. The foliage in Salem, NJ was at its peak right before Halloween and the end of the October and I got to tour the graves of the people that the narrator was talking about during the day. It was an interesting story of how this resident treated his first wife in death and treatment of the second wife when she died. People are still people.
The entrance to St. John’s Cemetery
During the day, walking around this historic cemetery is very interesting. Many of the founding members of the Salem community are buried here and you can find the family cemetery plots among the paths. I would take the time to visit and walk around this interesting piece of the past.
The the tale of the Second wife that you see above during the day. The husband and second wife are in the elevated crypts and the first wife has a slab on top of here. As the narrator said this is what he thought of her in the end.
Colonial Robert Johnson and his second wife, Julia in the elevated crypts
The St. John’s Cemetery during the day
The St. John’s Cemetery
The St. John’s Cemetery family plots
The famous people buried in the cemetery-The Sinnickson Family plot-One of the founding families of Salem, NJ
After we left the church, we joined this friendly witch who told us the story about a spirit that haunts houses. To confuse them, you have to leave a bowl of rice at the doorway so that you confuse the spirit as it tries to count the grains of rice and then gets frustrated and leaves. I had never heard this story before but I did get a small bag of rice as a gift that I keep in my travel bag now.
Tales of spirits and the use of rice to keep them away
A Ghoul with a New York accent tells the tales
We ended the tour at the Salem Creek with tales of ghostly fisherman but you could not see anything at night so I took this the next morning. I almost tripped on the hill leaving this little park.
After the tour was over, we went back to the antique store to have hot cider and homemade cookies. I thought this was a very nice touch to a wonderful evening. There were a few more tours going on after I was finished so I got to walk around the antique store and then around the downtown and look at all the buildings at night. On a warm October evening, I found this tour to not just be relaxing but fascinating as well to learn the history of the town. When I got back to the Inn, I slept so soundly that night.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, it was a beautiful sunny day, and I watched the phases of the sun come up over the field from my bedroom window. I swear the location of this Inn is amazing and has the most spectacular views.
The Inn at Salem Country Club sunrise:
Sunrise from my room
Sunrise from my room
Sunrise from my room
Sunrise from my room
Sunrise from my room
The sunrise from my room in its final phase and it was an amazing warm day.
What I like about the Inn at Salem Country Club is its location on Delaware Bay. In the warmer months, people use the beaches outside the Inn for swimming and recreation. Its location on the Delaware Bay is pretty spectacular and I never really noticed when I visited in the summer. I was so busy running around Southern New Jersey and I had gotten there late and left early the last time. On this trip, I had more time in the morning to walk around the grounds before I went to visit the remaining museums on my list (most of them were closed anyway as they were only open on certain weekends).
The grounds of the Salem Country Club Inn in late October
The grounds of the Inn were very beautiful on this warm Saturday morning in late October. The leaves were still changing colors and the weather was warm. I had my breakfast on the enclosed terrace (it was too cool to eat outside in the morning) and just watched the boats and birds pass by. It was such a wonderful morning to just relax and watch time go by.
The beach at the Inn at Salem Country Club
The lawn of the Inn of Salem Country Club
The beach at the Inn at Salem Country Club
After a relaxing night’s sleep, Yvonne ordered breakfast for me again from the Salem Diamond Diner just past the downtown. Over French Toast and sausage and fresh fruit, I watch the beauty of the Delaware Bay from the open room on the first floor. It was too cool to eat on the deck but another five degrees and I would have been out there. The views are just amazing when it is sunny.
My reviews of breakfast sent to me at the Inn from the Diamond Grill in Salem:
The rest of the day after I checked out I spent revisiting or trying to visit historical sites that I have missed on my Father’s Day weekend trip here. Most were so small that they were not even on the listing that I had from the summer. Almost all of them were either closed for the season at that point or would be open sometime in November and I was not racing down to South Jersey for a two hour visit to a historical site. This just makes another trip to the area justified in the Spring.
I had already visited the Salem Historical Society, the Salem Oak Cemetery and tried to visit the Salem Fire Museum so I ventured back to some of the places I seen over the summer. I also wanted to visit some of the smaller Historical societies I had a list of from the last trip. Most of them were closed for the season.
Some of the places that I visited were:
The Hancock House at 3 Front Street in Hancock’s Bridge:
I had to cross the county after visiting a these obscure sites to get to the Church Landing Farm at Pennsville Historical Society at 86 Church Landing Road. Thank God it was still open at 3:00pm. It was a real treat:
I was able to tour the Hancock House again while they were having a little Halloween festival and take pictures of the house. I also got to tour the Church Landing Farmhouse and visit all the little out buildings with all the displays. It was fun to finally see with more time to spend. Though it was just an overnight trip, I felt like I was gone for a week. I was so refreshed from the trip. It was time to go home and get some work done.
The Halloween Festival at the Hancock House on Halloween weekend
The days before Halloween, we were in the final judging of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween House Decorating Contest so when I got home from Salem, NJ, I had to present the awards to the winners and their families. Later the next week, I presented the awards to the merchants in town who were not opened on Sunday. It was a long but very productive morning and afternoon as the winners and runners-up were thrilled by their awards.
My blog on the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween House Decorating Contest Day Two Hundred and Fifty on MywalkinManhattan.com:
It was a series of long drives around town, late nights looking at spooky lights, figures of fright and things that go bump in the night but the members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween Decorating Contest made a decision who had the best decorated house and downtown business in Hasbrouck Heights.
Decorations at 85 Woodside Avenue
Like last year the decision was tough but we chose 85 Woodside Avenue, the home of Matt and Lisa Fiduccia, last year’s runners up. The house was decorated to the hilt with ghosts, ghouls and figures that frightened the passersby. “We learned more from last year,” Matt Fiduccia said when they found out they won this year’s contest. “We added more to it.”
85 Woodside Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights Halloween 2022-Winner
The zombies and ghouls of 85 Woodside Avenue
The committee liked the theme of the property, the organization of the props and decorations of the doorway and the lighting of the house the night before Halloween which really showcased their creativity. The family was really excited about winning this year and the whole Fiduccia family joined Chairman Justin Watrel and Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association President Steve Palladino for the presentation of the plaque and official sign from the organization declaring them winner. It was an award well deserved.
Chairman Justin Watrel with the Fiduccia family at 85 Woodside Avenue
Winners Matt and Lisa Fiduccia with their children and the official sign from the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association
It was a tough decision to make this year as last year’s winner, Scott Vicario and runners up last year Frank and Mary Rose Blunda also created wonderful displays that would dazzle and delight trick or treaters the next night for Halloween.
253 Henry Street-The Runner-up this year
This is the second year Scott Vicario created a moving cemetery and ghoul fest all over his front lawn starting with a possessed woman climbing a tree outside the property and a variety of ghouls and zombies climbing popping and walking around the yard. “I keep finding new things to add to the display,” Scott told the committee when he was presented his award. “I look for professionally made displays.” Mr. Vicario who lives at 253 Henry Street said he “has more planned for next year” to win the award back.
Last year’s winner, Scott Vicario, was runner up this year
Some of the decorations were truly frightening
Ghosts and ghouls at 253 Henry Street
Scott Varicario in front of 253 Henry Street
253 Henry Street was full of zombies and ghosts
The other runners up last year, Frank and Mary Rose Blunda, keep creating frightening but friendly displays that dazzle their Halloween visitors. Trick or Treaters keep coming back for the displays of vampires and pumpkin headed beasts.
510 Henry Street
“We really love Halloween and we do this for the kids,” Frank Blunda said. “The families get such a kick out of visiting our house every year.” The Blunda’s love that families take a special trip to see their home.
The Ghosts, Ghouls and Pumpkin Heads of 510 Henry Street
Mary Rose and Frank Blunda of 510 Henry Street were runners-up again this year
Chairman Justin Watrel with Mary Rose and Frank Blunda at 510 Henry Street
The House Decorating Committee added a Merchant Division this year and we were dazzled by Heights Flower Shoppe, who always displays their holiday merchandise so nicely. Ray Vorisek, the owner of Heights Flower Shoppe was very thankful to the committee for the award. “We always like decorating the store to the hilt for the holidays.
Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
People come from all over to visit us.” Both inside and outside, the store was full of all sorts of merchandise to decorate the house and for creative Halloween parties. Ghosts and witches flowed all over the store.
The decorations of the windows at Heights Flower Shoppe
“We have a creative team that works together here,” Mrs. Spindler said as she accepted her framed award. “It is a team effort that got the store ready for the holiday.” Spindler’s Bakery not only decorated the windows with pumpkins and bears ready for Trick or Treating but the store had all sorts of delicious looking decorated pastries and cookies, perfect for any Halloween Party.
The inside of Spindler’s Bake Shop with decorations and Halloween treats
Chairman Justin Watrel with runner-up winner, Ginny Spindler and her co-worker
We also wanted to mention the Honorary mentions, whose decorated home made the first and second round cut of the contest and we wish you luck next year. These are 110 Central Avenue, 458 Jefferson Avenue, 415 Madison Avenue, 115 Ottawa Avenue and 310 Bell Avenue. Good luck and have a wonderful and safe holiday season from the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association.
Honorary Mention on Ottawa Avenue
Another Honorary Mention on Ottawa Avenue
Halloween Night was a bust for me. I had to start my first night of my Tourism Innovation Class, which concentrated on the Metaverse that evening and for the first time in six years I did not work on the Halloween Parade. It was a real bummer and I know Mark was really disappointed that I could not make it that evening. It rained during part of the parade so that at least made me feel a bit better.
When I left class that evening, it was also about 9:30pm and since we were meeting in the Uptown campus on West 42nd Street, I did not notice any part of the parade except for a few people heading back to New Jersey through the Port Authority. It was a cold and rather gloomy night because of the quick shower we had earlier. Not much of a holiday but at least I was able to celebrate in different ways in different parts of the month.
‘Aristocrats’ Justin Watrel (Beekman family) and Marc Schuyler (Schuyler family) at the Halloween Parade gate 2019.
Before Halloween was over I managed to sneak up to Croton on the Hudson to the Van Cortlandt Manor to see the Annual “Pumpkin Blaze” (see the blog attached):
Visiting the Pumpkin Blaze Day Two Hundred and Six:
The weather was really mild that night and I got tickets for the 8:00pm walk. Being later in the season, it was not as busy as it would be before Halloween. Still I could walk the show at my own pace and enjoy the displays. If you have never been there, I highly suggest it.
The entrance to the “Pumpkin Blaze”
The displays keep changing every year and it is fun to see all the new creative ideas that they come up with for the evening. It was the perfect way to finish the Halloween festivities. Now here comes Christmas!
I have been teaching “Marketing 201” at Bergen Community College for several years now and in the era of COVID, it has been especially difficult. With businesses shutting down never to reopen getting students to understand that business must go on and pivot is a difficult thing to do. You have to learn to adapt and survive or else everything fails.
This is happening in small downtowns all over the country. You have to learn to adapt, or you will fail. Things have gotten better though with the dropping of the mask mandates and businesses opening up.
In my live classes, I open my consulting company, “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.”, for business and the whole class bands together and we have one big project. In the era of post-COVID and online learning, I was lucky that I was able to teach one of the live classes on the Bergen Community College, Paramus Campus. It was such a pleasure welcoming students back to campus with live lectures and conversing with them.
The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. corporate logo of the six trees
In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations. I also challenge the students to top on another in their presentations and build on what they have seen others do in the past.
Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
This semester’s project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ: Being a Tourist in your own Town” was inspired by the success of the “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” project in 2019 and “Rocking it in Rutherford” in 2021. I loved how the students really had to learn about the history of the City of Paterson, the Borough of Rutherford and about New Jersey history in general. This is something not being taught in schools today.
The blog on Day One Hundred and Fifty-Five: “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” in 2019:
I chose Westwood, NJ this semester because of all the years spent shopping and eating in Westwood with my family who live in the Township of Washington the next town over and many of the long term businesses that dot the downtown shopping district. Downtown Westwood had more of a history to it and was picturesque with its old buildings, classic look of the train station dominating the downtown and a park with a band stand in Veterans Park in the heart of the downtown. It was a traditional downtown in New Jersey.
The town is on two major bus routes one into New York City as well as being a railroad head for New York City. The town has become more desirable for people moving out of New York City for more open space, better schools and the amenities that come with living in the suburbs. They still want a ‘citified’ atmosphere though with good restaurants, clean safe parks to relax in and a strollable downtown with lots to offer for both shopping and eating. Westwood, NJ has all of these.
I assembled the project together in two days after walking the downtown several times getting inspiration of how to market it and ideas that I had seen in the past in other towns of what they run at various times of the year drawing ideas from towns in the Hudson River Valley.
I entitled the project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood: Being a tourist in your own Town”, a creative approach to market the downtown for tourists to come visit from all over New Jersey and New York especially the City, the way Rhinebeck and Beacon do for dining, shopping and special events like “First Monday’s” and “Sinterklaas”.
The Project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ: Be a Tourist in your own Town”:
BCC-Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. 2022 Project It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ
When I presented the project, I got the usual moans and groans from some of the students and excitement from the others (it all depends on their position in the company and their enthusiasm in group projects). I got the Teams organized, had them meet up with one another and exchange emails and planned my field trip to Westwood, NJ as part of the project. It took some doing.
Two weeks later, I took my class on a field trip to Westwood, NJ to walk the downtown business district, to see where the Westwood Heritage Museum was located and to visit the shops and restaurants in the downtown area. The week in between me presenting the project and us visiting Westwood, NJ, I started to make contacts in the town.
I started by dropping off a copy of the project with City Hall and hoping to get the Mayor and Council involved the way we did in both Paterson and Rutherford, talking with the head of the Chamber of Commerce and then talking to merchants who I wanted to visit that included Hartly’s, a well known Women’s Store and Conrad’s, a very well-known Ice Cream and Candy store.
We really lucked out the day of the tour. It was a beautiful day but a little windy. We started out at the bandstand which is a symbol of the town. I never realized the historical significance that the bandstand had played in the town and in it’s history. It had been an important part of the social fabric of the town during the turn of the last century and still used for concerts today.
We were joined by the Honorable Beth Dell, the President of the Westwood Town Council and I thought this was a very nice honor that the town wanted to get involved in the beginning of the project. We really had a productive afternoon.
The tour of the downtown started in Veterans Park with the Team trying to figure out on how to create some of the activities that we would be creating such as the “Halloween in the Park”, the “Nick in Time” event and the “Jazz Summer Concert” events. We used the parks layout and logistics to figure out how to configure the usage of space. Before we toured the historic train station, we took our first in a series of corporate pictures.
Our Group picture at the Westwood Bandshell at the start of the tour (Councilwoman Dell and I to the right)
We continued on to the historic Westwood Train Station, which is the home to the Westwood Heritage Museum one day a month. It had not been operating recently because of COVID but I wanted the students to see the potential in how the museum could be updated and advertised to increase traffic.
The Train Station marker in Veterans Park
We toured the station and looked over the architecture and location of the station to understand why the location of the station has helped shape the way the downtown has been built around it.
The next part of the tour, we met with the head of the Westwood Chamber of Commerce at his business, Westwood Gallery, Michael Fitzsimmons. Mr. Fitzsimmons and I had met the week before and I knew how busy he would be so we had to plan the whole visit on a timely basis.
Not only did he spend a lot of time with us but introduced the class to members of ‘Celebrate Westwood”, a group of volunteers who help organize special events in the town. Talk about a productive and very engaging conversation on what both organizations do for the benefit of the town. The students, especially the Executive and Marketing Teams, gained a lot of knowledge and expertise from it.
Our second stop on the tour was a quick one through B & S Kitchen, an innovative sandwich shop a few doors down. I had just eaten lunch there the week before and thought that the food and selection of homemade soups were excellent. With a lunch special of a half a sandwich with a side of soup for $9.95, I saw this as an excellent business decision considering the quality of the food and service. It was so busy that morning the owners did not have a chance to talk to us but I was able to share my experience with the students while visiting there.
Our third stop on the tour was Hartly Fashion women’s store, which I think is one of the finest independent women’s clothing stores in the state. For a small store, it has some of the finest merchandise for work, parties and weddings. The service they have does not exist in stores anymore where salespeople will call you when items come in and will work with you on a personal one on one basis. Hartly is in a league all its own.
Hartly Fashion at 104 Westwood Avenue
The manager, Jo and I had talked about the tour and I could tell she was a bit sceptical when I mentioned it but myself and the students came in, she captured the students attention on what quality and customer service meant to people. Especially when she described women travelling from places like Long Island, Manhattan and Connecticut to come shop in the store.
With pride, we walked through the store and were given a very detailed description on the type of customer that shopped here, what she was looking for in clothes and the attention to detail she would get in the shopping experience. It was a real eye-opener to many of the students who are completely online shoppers.
We walked the rest of the Downtown to Firemen’s Park and I discussed the pride that the town takes in its fire service and described my own time on the fire service and what a park like this means to the fire fighting community.
We toured the other side of Westwood Avene, the main street of the downtown and I discussed the amount of men’s and women’s clothing and accessory stores in the downtown area. You do not see this many clothing stores in one concentration in a downtown anymore being so close to the amount of malls we have in Bergen County. Westwood had become a destination for shopping and I discussed because of quality merchandise and good customer service these stores have thrived and propersed. To some of students, I could see this was alien to them. They were a generation where you pushed the button and it came to you.
I stopped by Pompilio’s Pizzeria at 223 Westwood Avenue to check on our lunch reservation on our way back to the train station. This is where I would be taking the Team for lunch that afternoon. With that taken care of, we made our last stop of the trip at Conrad’s Ice Cream and Candy store at 107 Westwood Avenue. I could tell for the students that was the best part of the tour. The owner Connie and the manager, Sue and the rest of the staff could not have been nicer or more accommodating to the students.
I just thought we would have a little talk on the history of the business and a small walk through but the ladies really gave the students a thorough talk on not just the history of the business but on how homemade ice cream and candy are both made (they are made on premise), how the family got involved in the business, how Connie’s son has now taken over the business and has been growing it, new product developments and how they handled COVID era shopping and how it changed the way the business is run (they now have food trucks for parties and events).
The ladies led a very engaging talk with the students, let them tour around the store and Sue ended the discussion with giving each student a small package of Conrad’s homemade caramel corn. I have never seen so many excited students! You would have thought they won the lottery. The students left so happy and I thought this was a very smart business move. Start to capture the customer while they are in the store. I found out later that many students revisited the store throughout the project.
The Conrad’s Ice Cream counter
The students used Conrad’s as the inspiration as for corporate gifts
We finished the tour with lunch at Pompilio’s Pizzeria at 223 Westwood Avenue. I have been coming to Pompilio’s Pizzeria since I was a freshman in high school when my aunt and uncle took us here for dinner when we were visiting them one summer. I also knew that they had ordered here a few times when we visited the house. Funny what you remember when you were a kid. The pizza is just as excellent as it was back in the 1980’s.
As tradition with the Town projects that make up the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. umbrella, I break bread with the students and this is my way of getting them to know one another. I found this very successful when we went to the Lunch Box in Paterson, NJ (now closed) as a group during our walking tour of Downtown Paterson and found it effective in Team building. I also get to know the students as well.
I ordered six large Cheese Pizzas and pitchers of soda and we just relaxed and reviewed our walking tour of the downtown area and how to better promote it for the town. The Team sat with their groups and brainstormed ideas over lunch. In the middle of lunch, the owner of Pompilio’s came out and discussed his family business with us and how his father’s family came from Italy and how they started the business in Westwood. I thought it was nice of the owner to come out and spend time with us seeing that he was so busy that afternoon. It was nice to see the merchants support this project.
The students created this new logo for the Town of Westwood, NJ:
The logo that was created for Westwood, NJ for ‘It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ: Be a Tourist in your own Town”
During class time, I tried to give the students as much time as I could but much of the work was done outside the classroom. Being a Hybrid class, I had to train the students to realize that class was not just in the one hour and fifteen minutes that we had in the classroom. This was lecture time and they needed to understand the theory of what they were doing, why they were doing it and how to understand the outcome. Most of them did very well in the academic part of the work.
The Saturday before the presentation, I took the students on a optional tour of the Westwood Heritage Museum, which is located in the Train Station of Westwood, NJ the second Saturday of every month. The Westwood Heritage Society sets the station up for visiting from 10:00am-12:00pm and I met the students at 10:30am at the museum. My entire Historical Team showed up along with about five other students which meant about half the class showed up.
The displays at the Westwood Heritage Society Museum in the Train Station
Westwood Heritage Society displays
The members of the Westwood Heritage Society gave us a tour of the museum, explained how it worked and how they set things up each month. Then they gave us a talk on the history of the town and the historical attributes of the downtown. The students got a feel for how the museum worked and how we could better promote it to the outside community.
The tour concluded with visit to the WWII bunker at the bottom of the train station. Both myself and the students were equally impressed by this.
As we prepared for the final touches on the presentation, the student Executives were nervous about the presentation. I had a very good Executive so I was not worried. I just wanted a good representation from the town.
We had to delay the presentation twice. Once because the Town Council asked if we would like to present it at City Hall and the Council was going to a conference the day of our presentation. Then it was delayed again because the day we were supposed to present it, it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and even I did not realize that we had the day off. So presentation day would be when we returned back from the Thanksgiving break, November 30th, 2022.
The day of the presentation I got there early so that I could set the room up for the presentation. I had the Reception to set up and make sure that everything in the room was working. My President and Senior Vice-President of Operations arrived early as well and then most of the Team showed up much earlier than class time. They wanted to get their groups settled in.
I also had to give the students their Dress Code grade and I have to say that I was annoyed when I saw two students wearing sneakers to the presentation. Trust me, they were graded accordingly. Every semester it is the same thing, the ladies always blow away the men.
We were joined that afternoon with Council President the Honorable Councilwoman Beth Dell, the Borough Administrator and another Councilwoman plus two members of the Westwood Heritage Museum whom we had met on a trip to the museum the previous Saturday. I thought it was very nice of all of them to come out and support the students.
This is the presentation that everyone saw that afternoon:
The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. “It’s Wonderful in Westwood: Be a Tourist in your own Town” website and Powerpoint presentation:
The Marketing 201 Executive Team the day of the Presentation on the Bergen Community College Paramus Campus with the Council women from Westwood, NJ:
The Paramus Executive Team for “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ-Be a Tourist in your own Town” with Council members and guests.
The full Executive Team with members of Westwood City Council and members of the Westwood Heritage Society Museum
CEO and company Co-Founder Justin Watrel receiving a gift of a Conrad’s Chocolate Champagne bottle presented to him by Team Leader of Talent, Eva Sipos, of the Paramus Team.
Here is the Team’s video Marketing the Town for Tourism in English and Spanish:
The Historical Team was tasked with creating a new video to promote the Historical Section of Westwood, NJ:
The Historical Team created this video to promote the Westwood Heritage Museum:
The Team created a new Town song for Westwood, NJ “The Hub”:
This is the Team Presentation of “It’s Wonderful in Westwood-Be a Tourist in your own Town” to the Honorable members of the Westwood Town Council and the Westwood Heritage Museum:
This was one of the smoother presentations that I have had in the last two or three semesters. The students did an excellent job with the presentation. We had enough time for a question and answer session before the students had to leave for their next classes. Being an one hour class, we had to stay on a strict schedule. This differs from my night classes.
Still it was one hell of a presentation!
The Team to finish out their project arranged a company Christmas party for Corporate Headquarters. The students had to create an Invitation to the Party, A Christmas Poem, the Party Dinner menu and an original Christmas song. Here are the ideas:
I love exploring Greenwich Village. Here and there tucked into corners are all sorts of interesting stores and restaurants. One of the standouts is Village Pizza at 65 Eighth Avenue. This small hole in the wall pizzeria offers delicious food and excellent friendly service.
The inside of the restaurant
The first time I tried the restaurant, I stopped in for lunch before classes at NYU. I had the most wonderful Meatball Sandwich ($8.95), in which you are served four large meatballs on a soft chewy roll with fresh marinara sauce.
The Chicken and Meatball Parmesan sandwiches are really good
The meatballs I could tell were home made as well as the sauce was made from scratch. You could really taste the…
I have been coming to J’s Pizza for many years and had eaten here in the past after viewing the Halloween Parade in October. I just rediscovered it again when I started grad school in the neighborhood and forgot how good the food was when I dined here. The pizza slices are generous in size and their marinara and pizza sauces you can tell are freshly made and not from a can.
The sauces for all the meals here from the pizza, to the spaghetti and meatballs to the sauce that is the side to the many rolls and calzones is well spiced and has so much flavor to it. It really makes the dishes.
J’s Pizza counter is lined with pizzas and calzones
I found this wonderful combination bakery and gourmet shop when walking home from school one afternoon and exploring Greenwich Village. All the delicious pizzas and pastries in the window lured me in.
I had just eaten my lunch, so I was not that hungry and just wanted a snack. I saw the small doughnuts in the windows called Bombolones, which are yeast doughnuts filled with chocolate or vanilla cream fillings and then rolled in granulated sugar. The small one is $2.15 and the large one was $5.00. Don’t let the price deter you as it is a sweet and filling little dessert. The fresh vanilla cream played beautifully off the sweet dough and sugary topping. Each bite was wonderful, and it was…
I love visiting the Hudson River Valley so any event or tour that I can go on is an excuse to come up here. I had visited all the sites that I wanted to see on a trip two weeks earlier but wanted to see them in more detail plus I wanted to take some pictures. The weather finally broke, and it was a much more pleasant 83 degrees as opposed to the 96 degrees the trip before. That makes the trip much nicer.
I asked my aunt along so that we could share in the experience, and I could use her phone to take pictures of the all the sites. It is a much nicer trip when you have someone along who enjoys these things. The one nice thing about traveling to the Fishkill, New York area is that it is only an hour away and a straight run up the New York Thruway to Route 84 and then to Route 9. Just a couple of quick back streets and you will be there.
On my first trip up, I got there so early that no one was at the first site, The Brinckerhoff Homestead Historical site, the home of the East Fishkill Historical Society at 68 North Kensington Drive in Hopewell Junction, NY. I double back and stopped for a quick snack at G & R Deli Cafe, a small deli at 2003 Route 52 in a strip mall near the old IBM campus. I needed a snack.
Since I already had dinner plans, I ordered a Sausage, Egg and Cheese on a roll ($5.95) which was a bit more expensive than in the City but it was delicious. The sausage had a nice taste of sage and gave it a lot of flavor. I just relaxed outside in the parking lot and ate breakfast. Another time that I visited, I had the same version with bacon and both times the sandwiches were excellent.
The breakfast sandwiches at G & R Deli are excellent
After my snack, I got back to the Brinckerhoff Homestead at 12:00pm when it was supposed to open but around 12:30pm there was still no one there and I kept knocking on the door. That’s when one of the county members let me know that they did not open until 1:00pm. Since I had a list of places to visit that day and the time had been posted all over the internet, I asked if we could please start early. He agreed and I got a personal tour of the house. When I came back two weeks later, I better timed it for the 1:00pm opening to take pictures.
The Brinckerhoff family is prominent in the Fishkill area and family members still visit the homestead so the house’s history is ongoing. The house is broken down into three sections as you can see by the picture. The original part of the home was built by John G. Brinckerhoff in 1755 and it consisted of the “Everything Room” on the lower floor with the hearth for cooking, a beehive oven and the large room upstairs for family living.
As John Brinckerhoff’s family grew, they moved out of the house and his brother, George G. Brinckerhoff moved into the home with his family. After the Revolutionary War was over and George G.’s assignment was over in the army, he returned to the house and in 1785 added the middle main addition of the house with four additional rooms. The larger rooms and high ceilings showed the family affluence in that they could heat the home.
When George died in 1812, his brother John and his family moved back into the house. In 1814, the family sold the house to the Purdy family. They lived in the house for the next 60 years and added the final addition onto the house to the left with a summer kitchen and an outdoor oven. It remained in the family until 1875 when it was sold to the Palen family who used it again as a farm. It was then again sold to the Moore family in 1926 and lastly sold to East Fishkill Historical Society in 1974 by developer Gustav Fink who was a developer in the area (East Fishkill Historical Society).
The rooms are decorated in period furnishings and when we started the tour, you begin in the oldest section of the home with the original kitchen area.
The “Everything Room” in the Brinckerhoff Homestead
This is where the family would cook, eat, do their work on farm affairs and socialize. There was also a small general store on the property as well. The upstairs was closed to the public.
You next moved into the main rooms of the 1785 addition which brought it the into then modern era with high ceilings and larger rooms so that the family had more living space and could entertain.
The Main Dining Room of the home which was set for Hot Chocolate service which again showed the family’s affluence as chocolate was very expensive then
We also toured the Living Room which was set for socializing and work women did for the home with needlepoint, weaving, and clothes making. There was still room for people to gather and entertain.
The Living Room of the 1785 addition to the home
Along the main corridor of the home in the addition was all sorts of artifacts from the Revolutionary War period and items from the time.
Our last part of the tour was the latest addition by the Purdy family when we toured the ‘Summer Kitchen”, which showed how the home had progressed over the years. Little by little each family brought it into the next ‘modern era’.
Both times I got to tour the grounds and the beautiful gardens that the volunteers maintained. Rock gardens and flower beds line the three acres of land around the house. Along with the flower beds, several historical buildings have been moved to the property including the one room schoolhouse from District 9 in East Fishkill that was built in 1826, the 1870 Icehouse which once supplied another home with its ice for the home to keep food fresh before the advent of refrigeration.
The Schoolhouse and the Icehouse and gardens
Another building that is still in use and is open when the house is open for touring is the John Hyatt Blacksmith shop from 1880. It still has some of the original tools and the blacksmith on duty still works the fire and performs tasks in the building.
The last building on the property is the Van Wyck Carriage Barn from 1845. It had been built by Judge Theodorus Van Wyck for his home that was built in East Fishkill that was torn down by the development of the IBM Campus in 1984. IBM paid to have the carriage house dismantled and moved to this property.
The East Fishkill Historical Society with the Brinckerhoff home in the center, the schoolhouse to the right and the blacksmith shop and the carriage house to the left
We took our time to tour the house and the grounds and on my initial visit I got to tour the schoolhouse, the ice house and the blacksmith shop to see the inner workings of these buildings and how they operated.
The docents had told me that they had recently held a ‘Strawberry Festival’ recently promoting the local fruit crops and serving complimentary strawberry shortcake that everyone enjoyed and was gone quickly. There are also Revolutionary War reenactments done on the property and for the holiday season the home will be decorated for the period Christmas holidays with an open house, so there will be things to do and see in the future.
Our next stop on the tour of homes was the Van Wyck Homestead Museum at 504 Route 9, the old Albany Post Road. The house had stood on the main transportation line during the Revolutionary War period and it had served as General George Washington’s northern supply depot during the war because of this location.
Van Wyck Homestead Museum at 504 Route 9 (the Old Albany Post Road)
In 1732, Cornelius Van Wyck bought 959 acres of land from the original Rombout Patent and built the smaller section of the home to the right in 1732. As the family gained affluence in farming and trade, the larger section of the home to the left was built in 1757 with larger rooms and higher ceilings again to show a family’s wealth.
Because of the location of the house in Fishkill on the main road of transportation and the strategic location near the mountains to the south, General George Washington requisitioned the home as the northern supply depot for the Continental Army in October of 1776. Here supplies were run through, army regiments passed and people were buried who died during the war. The house was also used as the headquarters and court marshals and punishments took place on the property (Van Wyck Homestead Museum pamphlet). After the war was over, the house and farm was returned to the family.
The historical marker of the original home
The way the house was furnished was slightly different from the Brinckerhoff Homestead that looked more like you were walking into someone’s actual home. The old Living Room of the Van Wyck Homestead is being used as a meeting room and a place to display items from the Revolutionary War.
The Living Room and Meeting Room at the Van Wyck Homestead
The Revolutionary War Collection at the Van Wyck Homestead
Towards the back of the home is a Library/Research area and we were able to see all the old books and records that are part of the home’s collection. This is where most people do their genealogy work and family research.
The Research Library at the Van Wyck Homestead
What both my aunt and I thought was interesting was when we entered the older part of the house and the old Dining Room area. Many of the artifacts were old Van Wyck family heirlooms that had been donated over the years.
The Dining Room of the Van Wyck Homestead
Some of the recent additions were the crib which had been in the family for five generations and had just been donated to the home as well as the painting over the fireplace had just been collected by the home. Like the Brinckerhoff Homestead, there are many members of the Van Wyck family who come back to visit and still live in the area.
The Colonial kitchen and hearth are in the oldest section of the home from 1732. This is where the “Everything Room” was located. Back when this was the only section of the home, this is where all the cooking, dining, family business and social activities were located. All sorts of kitchen equipment lined the walls and shelves to show life in colonial times. It was funny that much of it has not changed over the years, just modernized.
The original family kitchen in the 1732 section of the Van Wyck Homestead
Outside the home, the organization planted the outside gardens and there is a recreation of the old beehive oven aside the home. It gave you a glimpse of how food came about for these large families before supermarkets.
The Van Wyck Gardens showed how the house was self-sufficient at one time
After touring the grounds, we walked back to see the displays one more time. On my initial trip, the tour guide let me see the upstairs rooms. In the newer part of the home, they had been turned into storage and offices for the docents. In the older part of the home, the old loft area was used for storage, and it was pretty dusty.
After touring these two homes, we were off to Wappinger’s Falls further up Route 9 to visit the Mesier Homestead in Mesier Park just off the beginning of Downtown Wappinger’s Falls. There was a concert going on in the park and my aunt said she needed a break from visiting these old homes. Too many arrowheads and Revolutionary War furniture so she stayed and listened to the concert while I toured the home.
The Mesier Homestead is the home of the Wappinger Falls Historical Society, who maintains the home. The Mesier home is much like the other homes in that it had been added onto as the family grew and became more affluent. The original part of the home is currently going through a renovation and the President of the Wappinger Falls Historical Society explained that they just discovered the old hearth and oven and are currently restoring the historic windows.
The original part of the home is currently under renovation
Starting the tour at the front entrance of the home that leads to the formal Living Room that is decorated with Victorian decor. Again the large rooms and high ceilings showed the family affluence by showing how they could afford to heat their home.
The Living Room at the Mesier Homestead
The copies of the Mesier family portraits in the Mesier Living Room
The Living Room leads to the back Library where many additions of older books are held and where visitors can do research on their family history in the Wappinger Falls. Many are trying to trace their family’s history.
The Mesier Homestead Library and Research Room
The back area of the house is closed for renovations, but you can climb the stairs to the old bedrooms on the second floor. Here is where both the family and the family slaves then servants lived on the same floor.
The Adult’s Bedroom set during Victorian times
A woman’s boudoir during Victorian times
The rooms also showed a child’s place in the family where during Victorian times were treated like ‘little adults’ being trained for their future lives. Toys not just sparked the imagination but also prepared children for domestic life
Children’s playthings during Victorian times spurred imagination
On top of the recreations of the family life in both Colonial and Victorian times that the family lived through, there was an extensive collection of Native American items showing the original settlers of the region when the Lenape Indians lived, fished and hunted in this area before the arrival of the Dutch in the late 1600’s.
The Native American collection on the second floor of the Mesier Homestead
The last part of the tour ended in the formal Dining Room where the entertainment was done and the family took their meals. When I asked why these homes seemed so much smaller than homes like the Vanderbilts and Mills families, it was explained that these families were older more established and did not have to show off their wealth. Since these were God fearing individuals, it was not acceptable to be ‘showy’. People knew they were affluent so they could show off but not flaunt it.
The formal Dining Room at the Mesier Homestead set for dinner
During the Christmas holiday season, the house is beautifully decorated for a Victorian Christmas with garlands and bows and period decorations. Most of these old homes are elegantly decorated as the families once had done during the holidays.
During Colonial times, Christmas meant church services in the morning or afternoon and then a formal dinner in the afternoon. You might have pine, garland and berries decorate the house whereas during Victorian times, it was a much more elaborate affair. There would be a Christmas tree, garland and pine all over the home and gift giving. Christmas cards would have also decorated the home as well.
The Mesier Homestead at Christmas time (Wappinger Falls Historical Society)
After the tour, I took a quick walk into downtown Wappinger Falls which has a great downtown with terrific restaurants and a great view of the river and falls.
Downtown Wappinger Falls has such a unique look to it.
Our last part of the tour was visiting the First Reformed Church of Fishkill at 717 Route 9 at the beginning of Downtown Fishkill, NY. This elegant old church with its historic cemetery was built in 1732 on land that had been set aside for the church.
The Fishkill First Reformed Dutch Church at 717 Route 9 with the DuBois House next door
The church was closed for the afternoon as services are at 10:00am on Sundays so I toured around the church and the cemetery. What was interesting about the cemetery is all the family plots and who was intermarried into whose families.
The cemetery behind the church is full of family plots including the Brinckerhoff and Van Wyck families
After touring the church and the cemetery grounds, I took my time and walked Downtown Fishkill which is lined with small but interesting restaurants and stores. The street had been lively the two times that I visited with people enjoying the outdoor dining and the perfect 80-degree weather.
While walking around Downtown Fishkill, I came across the Fishkill Creamery at 1042 Main Street and needed a quick snack on a hot afternoon. The store was really busy with people eating outside on the benches and tables. I stopped in and had a scoop of Strawberry Cheesecake and a scoop of Birthday Cake ice cream. Did it hit the spot! The Strawberry Cheesecake was especially good with chunks of fresh strawberries in it.
The Fishkill Creamery at 1042 Main Street in Downtown Fishkill
After the ice cream, it was time for dinner (I always believe in saving room for dessert). Both times I tried Antonella’s Pizzeria & Restaurant at 738 Route 9 in Fishkill. You really have to search for the restaurant as it is located in the strip mall in the Shoprite Mall.
Antonella’s Pizzeria & Restaurant at 738 Route 9
The food here is really good. When I came up on my own, I just wanted something small, and I ordered the Cheese Calzone ($8.95). The thing was huge! The Calzone was so large that it could have fed two people easily. It was loaded with Ricotta, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and they make a terrific marinara sauce that accompanied it. By the time I finished devouring the thing, I was stuffed. This after all that ice cream.
We returned to Antonella’s when my aunt and I returned to Fishkill for the touring since I was so impressed with the food and service. My aunt had the Sausage, Pepper & Onion Roll ($8.50) and I had the Stromboli Roll ($8.50) which had ham, salami, pepperoni, Ricotta and Mozzarella cheeses wrapped in a perfectly baked pizza dough. Both were served with their flavorful marinara sauce. After a long day of touring, it was just what we needed. We also took plenty of time to relax and digest on this trip.
The Cheese Calzone’s at Antonella’s are excellent
It was really a nice day and there is so much to see and do in this part of the Hudson River Valley. I had not really explored Fishkill, NY so it was fascinating to see all these old homes and historic sites and know their place in history. Take the time to tour these homes and hear the family stories. Remember to head back during the Christmas holiday season and explore these homes and the downtowns when they are decorated for the season. There is a special magic in the Hudson River Valley during the holiday season. Check their websites for more activities during the year.
(Please read the accompanying reviews on VisitingaMuseum.com to see a full description on these homes).
Places to Visit:
Brinckerhoff House Historic Site/East Fishkill Historical Society
There are some neighborhoods in Manhattan that just stand out for their access to parks or to the rivers and others are loaded with historic value who architecture had not changed over the years.
The Flatiron District which was once served as the old Midtown between the Civil War and World War One and “The Ladies Shopping Mile”, where women could shop and engage with one another without a chaperon on Avenues and Streets lined with Department stores, restaurants, movie theaters, tea houses and specialty stores catering to their needs. When you look up at the grand buildings of the district with their large windows and their Beaux-Art designs and decorations, you can see that their purpose was to impress the customers.
I had toured the area around Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street three years earlier for a tour of a “New York Victorian Christmas” and you can see by the architecture that these buildings were meant to last.
These Grand Department Store buildings are the ghosts of their former selves with a shopping district that left them behind and names that have been out of business for over a hundred years (with the exception of B. Altman & Company which closed in 1990). You can still see the beauty and gracefulness that is carved into the stone of these buildings and in some cases still show the name or the initial of the original store owner.
Day One Hundred and Twenty-Eight: ‘Victorian Christmas Tour’
As I started my walk on the borders of the Flatiron District at West 25th Street and Sixth Avenue, there was not much to see as it was all new construction. The one thing that I did notice from my last walk in the neighborhood is that the colorful street art piece by was tagged over. It was on the very edge of the neighborhood on the wall of The Corner Cafe at the corner of 729 Sixth Avenue was the New York City painting by artist Dirt Cobain.
The New York City Street art by artist Dirt Cobain on the side of The Corner Cafe at 729 Sixth Avenue
Artist Dirt Cobian is an American born artist who started with a spray can when he was a teenager. He creates the most interesting and eye-opening street art. He currently lives in Brooklyn (Artist bio).
A video on who the artist is and what he represents.
The colorful piece of street art was painted over by another tagger who did not do the painting justice. That and the fact that the Corner Cafe had closed its doors for business since I walked the northern part of the Chelsea neighborhood in June and now sat empty. It was when you reached West 23rd Street when the true gems of architecture began.
I remembered what the tour guide said this had once been the first real shopping district when shopping was acceptable for the middle to upper middle-class woman to shop and socialize unchaperoned. These were the days before malls when shopping was an experience and not something to be rushed.
You could see it in the size of the buildings that housed everything you needed for your household from furniture and clothing to wines and fine gourmet food. They had something for everyone. I could have only imagined what it must have been like and to go back in time to experience those times.
The shopping district stretched from the border of West 23rd Street to the border of West 14th along the Sixth Avenue corridor from the old shopping district to the new one. Even today when you walk that area of West 14th Street, you can still see traces of the old shopping district in the elaborate buildings that are left that line the street. As I walked the back-and-forth length of Sixth Avenue, I admired the buildings that still line it.
I walked south first down Sixth Avenue so that I could really see the stores for myself on one side and then walked past the storefronts on my way back up. What were once Upper Middle Class clothing emporiums are today ‘Big Box’ stores still catering to the retail trade just in another form on the bottom and offices to the top.
Th shopping district border with the Flatiron District starts at the Simpson-Crawford Department Store at 641 Sixth Avenue between West 19th and 20th Streets, which once catered to the wealthy elite of Manhattan and beyond. The store was established in 1878 by Richard Meares and William Crawford as Richard Meares & Company. Meares left the firm a year later and William Crawford then partnered with Thomas and James Simpson to create Simpson, Crawford and Simpson. When Thomas Simpson died in 1885, the store became known as Simpson-Crawford (Daytonian in Manhattan).
Simpson-Crawford Store today at Sixth Avenue between West 19th and 20th Streets
When James Simpson died in 1894, William Crawford became the sole owner and in 1899 with the rise of the great stores on Sixth Avenue, Crawford designed a new store of marble designed by William H. Hume & Son. The exterior of the store shined with polished marble and granite (Daytonian in Manhattan & the tour guide).
The store had many innovations at the time. It had the first escalator in the city, the first display windows with mannequins and large display windows that had to be created for the store. The store was stocked with the finest imported clothes, furs and laces and on the top floor was a restaurant that catered to 1200 guests (Daytonian in Manhattan & the tour guide).
Before the store opened, William Crawford retired and sold the store to Henry Siegel across the street who kept the tradition of the store going. When Siegel-Cooper Company collapsed in 1914, Simpson-Crawford was kept closed for three weeks and then reopened. Both stores closed one year later, and the store was converted to mail order warehouse. Today it holds various stores (Daytonian in Manhattan).
Our next stop was in front of Hugh O’Neill’s Dry Goods Store at 655 Sixth Avenue between West 20th and 21st Streets. It was built by the firm of Mortimer C. Merritt in the neo-Greco style who built the four stages of the building between 1887-1890 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Hugh O’Neill had started a small dry goods business right after the Civil War in 1865 with a small store around Union Square. In 1870, he decided to build a trade on the middle market customer and offered discounts on goods. The four floors of merchandise contained laces, ribbons, clocks and on the upper floors women’s and children’s clothing (Wiki).
When O’Neill died in 1902, the shopping area had just begun its decline and in 1906 it merged with Adams Dry Goods up the block. A year later they both went out of business as the area gave way to manufacturing. The building today has been converted into condos.
The Hugh O’Neill store today
Next door to it we looked at and discussed was the former Adams Dry Goods Store at 675 Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Street.
Samuel Adams, a merchant who had been selling upscale clothing and furnishing to customers in the area decided to open a store on Sixth Avenue. He used the architectural firm of DeLemos & Cordes, who had designed the Seigel-Cooper Department Store and the six-story building opened in 1902. The store was the first in New York City to use the new Pneumatic tubes to transport money and messages throughout the store (Wiki).
The problem with the store was its location. He built the store at the very edge of the neighborhood as the business changed. As the shopping area started to decline in the early 1900’s, Adams sold the store to Hugh O’Neill Dry Goods Store and they merged the two companies together, converting three floors of the Adams Dry Goods store to furniture. This concept was not popular as well and the businesses failed, and the store closed in 1913 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Adams Dry Goods Store today at Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Streets
The store has gone through a manufacturing stage and in the 80’s became part of the change to large box retailing. The building now houses eBay and several stores including Trader Joe’s and Michael’s. As we could see on the tour, the old department stores are finding new life in retailing.
Between West 22nd and West 23rd Streets located between the old Adams Dry Goods and next to the former Macy’s store was Ehrich Brothers Department Store at 701 Broadway. The building was constructed in 1889 by architect William Schickel & Company with additions by Buchman & Deisler and Buchman & Fox in 1889 (Wiki).
Ehrich Brothers Department Store building at 701 Sixth Avenue (Wiki)
Another addition was added by Taylor & Levi in 1911 when the store was leased to J.L. Kesner. They added the terra cotta “K”s that can still be seen from the top of the storefront. The store folded in 1913 and then was used for manufacturing and offices as the shopping district moved to 34th Street and the Fifth Avenue area (Wiki).
At the corner of the neighborhood on Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street at 100 West 23rd Street is the second Macy’s Department Store building. This was on the very edge of the Ladies Shopping Mile that once stretched along Sixth Avenue.
The building was built in 1871 and you can see all the elaborate embellishments on it with interesting stone carvings and elegant window design and some wrought iron details on different parts of the building. It was the last location of the store before it moved to its current location at 151 West 34th Street.
100 West 23rd Street (Renthop.com) is an old Macy’s
At the edge of the shopping district on the corner of West 20th Street and Sixth Avenue is the old Church of the Holy Communion, which recently housed the Limelight Night Club and now the Limelight Shops at 47 West 20th Street.
The former Church of the Holy Communion at 47 West 20th Street (now the Limelight Shops)
The church was designed by architect Richard Upjohn and was built between 1844-45 and was consecrated in 1846. It was designed in the ‘Gothic Revival’ style and according to the church’s founder, Reverend William Muhlenberg “was the true architectural expression of Christianity” (Wiki). The church closed in 1975 due to declining membership. It had many uses until 1983 when it opened as the Limelight Nightclub. Today it houses the Limelight shops.
As I turned the corner onto West 20th Street, there was a lot of commotion across the street and there were police cars everywhere. I did not see what exactly happened, but it made me walk faster down West 20th Street.
West 20th Street is officially the southern border of the Flatiron District, but I have found that the district overlaps with NoMad, Rose Hill, Kips Bay and Chelsea so much of the neighborhood has two or sometimes three community names. The borders begin to blur here. You can see though that this was once a very important business district with buildings that were designed with distinction.
I was admiring 27 West 20th Street on my walk down West 20th Street to Park Avenue South. This detailed twelve story office building was built in 1908 and now offers loft style offices. the details of the building include elaborate stonework both around the doorways and lower windows and the top floors.
27 West 20th Street was built in 1913
What I liked about the side streets as well as the avenues as I walked the neighborhood was that it kept its character and that these buildings had not been knocked down for the modern skyscraper. They were finding new use like the buildings in Midtown South and in NoMAD and become very desirable.
There was true beauty in the details of 20 West 20th Street that was built in 1906. The Beaux Art style details around the windows and doors accent the elegant building.
I passed 156 Fifth Avenue as I crossed the border from west to east in this part of the neighborhood and admired it for its detailed stonework carving and unusual styled roof. The Presbyterian Building was built in 1893 and was designed by architect James B. Baker and was designed in the French Gothic style. It was to be used by the Presbyterian Church as their base for domestic and foreign missions and used as office space. The Panic of 1893 changed that, and they had to lease the space out (Daytonian in Manhattan).
I reached Broadway and to what was once heart of the elegant shopping district of the old Midtown Manhattan before it moved up to the 34th Street area at the turn of the 20th Century. At 901 Broadway at East 20th Street is the old Lord & Taylor Building before its final move to Fifth Avenue in 1915 (they closed in 2020).
901 Broadway at West 20th Street-The Lord & Taylor Building
The building was designed by New York architect James H. Giles and was designed in the innovative cast iron style of the time that resembled stone. After the store closed in 1915 when it moved business uptown, the Broadway side of the store was resurfaced in stone which is why only a sliver of the old store design is intact (Daytonian in Manhattan/New York Public Library).
The original look of the Lord & Taylor Store at 901 Broadway (New York Public Library)
Across the street from the old Lord & Taylor Building is 903 Broadway, the former Warren Building. It was designed in 1891 by Stamford White for the Goelet family for their new commercial holding company. The Goelet family had owned all the land around this area and as it moved from residential to commercial, the family developed the neighborhood around them. The building was named after Robert Goelet’s wife, Harriette Louise Warren (Daytonian in Manhattan).
903 Broadway at West 20th Street-The Warren Building
The museum is currently closed for renovations, but you are able to admire the house from the outside and the grounds. I found out that this was not the original house of the president but on the grounds where it once stood. The family moved out as the area became more commercial to East 57th Street and the home was knocked down for a retail establishment. After the President died, the house was rebuilt on the same spot by family members, and they recreated the home from memory. It will be open to the public in the future.
The Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace Museum at 28 East 20th Street
The small gardens outside the house were in full greenery when I visited.
Towards the corner of East 20th Street and Park Avenue South near the border of the neighborhood is 42 East 20th Street, the current home of the Gramercy Tavern, The Bullmoose building. This loft style store building was built between 1898-1899 and was designed by architects Neville & Bagge. The building was converted into lofts and the restaurant below.
Turning the corner to Park Avenue South, you can see Gramercy Park in the distance which shares it border with the Flatiron District. This is where the lines get blurred between the Flatiron District and Gramercy Park, which share the same border.
As you walk up Park Avenue South, the first building that makes an impression is 251 Park Avenue South. This elegant office building with its large display windows and clean lines shows of the store inside. The office building was built in 1910 and has large windows both on the ground level and towards the top of building.
One building that does standout from the others on Park Avenue South is the Calvery Church at 277 Park Avenue. The church was established in 1832 and moved to its current location in 1842. The current church was designed in the Gothic Revival style by James Renwick Jr., who designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Another interesting building, I looked up and admired while walking up Park Avenue South was 281 Park Avenue South, the former Church Mission House. The building was designed by architects Robert W. Gibson and Edward J. Neville in the Medieval style and was built between 1892 and 1894. It was built for the Episcopal Church’s Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (Wiki). It now houses the photography museum The Fotografista Museum.
281 Park Avenue South-The Fotografiska Museum (The Church Mission House)
Another impressive building, I passed before East 23rd Street is 105 East 22nd Street the former United Charities Building. This is the final building in what was once known as “Charity Row” (Wiki). The building was designed by architect R. H. Robertson and the firm of Rowe & Baker. It was built by John Stewart Kennedy in 1893 for the ‘Charity Organization Society’ (Wiki).
When you turn the corner down East 23rd Street, you are heading back up to the border that the Flatiron District shares with the Kips Bay, Rose Hill and NoMAD neighborhoods. I had walked these district two years earlier when I explored these neighborhoods. I walked north first to the Infantry Regiment building and then walked south again to East 23rd Street to see if there were any changes. With the exception of DiDi Dumpling moving to 34 Lexington from 38 Lexington, it looked pretty much the same.
I walked to the front of the 69th Regiment Building at 68th Lexington Avenue. The scaffolding was finally down, and you could see the whole building now. This beautiful building is the home to the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Fighting Irish” since the Civil War (Wiki).
The building was designed by architects Hunt & Hunt in the Beaux Arts style and was completed in 1906. It has been home to many events and show including the controversial 1913 Armory Show of contemporary art (Wiki). You really have to walk around the building to admire its beauty and history.
Just across the street is another beautiful building covered with snakes, skulls and dragons carved along the side of it at 130 East 25th Street.
Someone had a warped sense of humor
The former B. W. Mayer Building which now houses the Friends House in Rosehall was built in 1916 by architect Herman Lee Meader (Wiki). You really have to walk around the building to see all the unusual carvings that line the building.
130 East 25th Street, the former B. W. Mayer Building
The street art is also interesting on this part of Lexington Avenue. One the corner of East 24th Street & Lexington Avenue is the Friends House New York, a housing unit. Painted on the wall is a very unique painting by Italian street artist, Jacopo Ceccarelli.
Painting by artist Jacopo Ceccarelli
The mural is on the corner of East 24th & Lexington Avenue-The St. Francis Residence Building
The Milan born street artist, who goes by the name “Never 2501” hones his skills after moving to San Paolo, painting murals with an edge that got global recognition. He uses geometric forms in his work with circles and lines creating the abstract (Do Art Foundation).
I was getting hungry again with all this criss crossing across Lexington Avenue and I had two choices for a snack, DiDi Dumpling at 38 Lexington Avenue or Pick & Pay Pizza at 30 Lexington Avenue both having reasonable snacks. Since I would be stopping for Dim Sum later that afternoon, I chose the pizza. For a $1.25 a slice, the pizza was not bad in this tiny little hole in the wall that also served Indian food as well. The sauce had a lot of flavor and that is what makes the pizza.
I noticed on the wall right near the doorway near the Starbucks was another wall mural “Urban Ocean” by artist Yuki Abe that is off to the side of the building on the corner of Lexington & 25th, Look at the interesting color and design of the work.
Surrounding this area of Lexington & 25th Street starts the campus of Baruch College which is part of the SUNY system, and I could see students who were taking live classes walking around enjoying the day. I am sure it is much different when classes were in full swing, and the students were hanging around the restaurants and coffee shops in the area.
The Baruch College Student Plaza at East 25th Street is a nice place to relax
Another building that stands out in its beauty and design is on the corner of the neighborhood on Lexington Avenue between 24th and 23rd Streets, the Freehand Hotel at 23 Lexington Avenue. The hotel was originally built as the Hotel George Washington in 1928 and designed by architect Frank Mills Andrews in the French Renaissance style.
The Freehand Hotel (the former George Washington Hotel) at 23 Lexington Avenue
While still a apartment building and a dorm in the 1990’s, several famous New Yorkers lived at the hotel including artist Keith Haring and musician Dee Dee Ramone. Playwright Jeffery Stanley also lived at the hotel for a period of time.
The entrance to the Freehand Hotel is very elegant
After the north south trip around the boundaries of Lexington Avenue, I turned at East 25th Street to head back to Sixth Avenue. The border of the Flatiron District is also part of the Rose Hill and NoMAD neighborhoods and shares the border with Kips Bay.
Walking down East 25th Street, you realize as you start to border the Midtown area that the buildings take up more of the blocks and there are less smaller brownstones and tenements in the area. The dominate building on the block by Madison Square Park is 11-25 Madison Avenue, the Metropolitan Life Buildings. The building that lines this part of East 25th Street is the Metropolitan Life North Building (or 11 Madison Avenue).
Metropolitan Life North Building at 25 Madison Avenue
This beautiful building was the extension of the main headquarters next door on Madison Avenue. The building was designed by the architectural team of Harvey Wiley Corbett and D. Everett Waid in the Art Deco style in the late 1920’s as the tallest building in the world but the Great Depression changed the plans and it was built in three stages. The first finished in 1932, the second in 1940 and the third in 1950 (Wiki).
The archways ‘Loggias’ on each side of the building
What stands out about the building is the arched vaults on each corner of the structure called ‘loggias’ and the features were made in limestone and pink marble. When you stand under them you can see the colors and details of the marble carvings (Wiki). Just walking around the building the features are impressive and standout.
Across the street from the Metropolitan Life North Building at 27 Madison Avenue is the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State and one of the most beautiful and detailed buildings I have seen on my walks. The building was designed by architect James Lord Brown in 1896 in the Beaux Arts Style and is adorned heavily in sculpture (Wiki). You really have to step back and walk across the street to see the details on the building.
27 Madison Avenue The Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State
Looking up close, you can see that the building resembles a Greek Temple and was considered one of the best examples of the “City Beautiful Movement” that occurred during the 1890’s and 1900’s to enhance cities with monumental grandeur and beauty (Wiki).
The historical beauty of the architecture continued up the border of the neighborhood as I walked up Madison Avenue towards East 30th Street. You have to walk both sides of Madison Avenue to appreciate the designs and details of the buildings that line the avenue.
You have to look close to the building or you will miss it is the sculpture by artist Harriet Feigenbaum. It is a memorial to victims of the Holocaust and is very powerful in its work showing the concentration camps.
“The Memorial to the Injustice of the Victims of the Holocaust”-“Indifference to Justice is the Road to Hell”
Harriet Feigenbaum is an American sculptor and environmentalist. Her works cover sculpture, film and drawings that are seen all over the world (Wiki and artist bio).
I passed 50 Madison Avenue and noticed how the buildings blended in design. The bottom level of the building was built in 1896 as the headquarters of the ASPCA (American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals). The building was designed by architects Renwick, Aspinwell & Owen and had a classic ‘club like’ design to it. The building was refitted and added to in 2005 by the firm of Samson Management with a six story addition to luxury condos (CityRealty.com).
Another ornamental building that stands out in the neighborhood is 51 Madison Avenue which is the home of New York Life Insurance Building. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in 1926 in the Art Deco style with Gothic Revival details along the sides and was finished in 1928. The structure is topped with a gilded roof (Wiki & New York Life Insurance history). This is another building that you have to see from all sides.
51 Madison Avenue-The New York Life Insurance Building
Continuing my walk up Madison Avenue while admiring the architecture of the neighborhood is The James NoMAD Hotel, the former Seville Hotel, on the corner of East 29th Street at 88 Madison Avenue. This interesting hotel has gone through several name changes and renovations since it was built in 1904. The hotel was designed by architect Harry Alan Jacobs in the Beaux Arts style and the annex to the hotel was designed by Charles T. Mott in 1906 (Wiki).
88 Madison Avenue-The James NoMAD Hotel (formerly The Seville)
The outdoor dining was open for the restaurant the first afternoon I had visited the neighborhood even though I thought it was a little cool to eat outside. Even though you can’t go inside unless you are a guest, I could see the lights stung from the street, and it looked very elegant in the outside dining area. It was noted in the paper that they will be keep the tradition of closing Broadway from West 25th to West 28th for the summer.
Across the street from this elegant hotel is 95 Madison Avenue the former Emmett Building. The structure was designed by architects John Stewart Barney and Stockton B. Colt of Barney & Colt for Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet in 1912 when the area was a wholesale district. The building is designed in the French Neo-Renaissance with Gothic style ornamentation (New York Landmark Preservation Commission and Wiki).
Heading straight ahead at East 25th Street and Madison Avenue is Madison Square Park, named after our fourth President of the United States, James Madison. This well landscaped park is the gathering place of the residents of NoMAD and has a wonderful playground that has been busy the whole time I have spent in the neighborhood.
Madison Square Park is an interesting little oasis from all the traffic and office space. It has an interesting history since it was designated a public space in 1686 by British Royal Governor Thomas Dongan. It has served as a potters field, an arsenal and a home for delinquents. In 1847, the space was leveled, landscaped and enclosed as a park. It became part of the New York Park system in 1870. There are many historical figures featured in the park (NYCParks.org).
The park today is a major meeting spot for residents and tourists alike with a dog track and the original Shake Shack restaurant.
Madison Square Park in the Spring when I was walking the length of Broadway
When I walked into the park to take a break, it must have been the busiest section of the neighborhood between the playground and the original Shake Shack that were serving food to a crowd clung to their cellphones.
The original Shake Shack is located in Madison Square Park at Park and 23rd Street
I stopped to look at the statue of our 21st President Chester A. Arthur, who had taken oath just two blocks away in his New York townhouse where the Kalustyan’s Specialty Foods is located at 123 Lexington Avenue (See My Walk in Kips Bay below). I thought about what was going on in our government today and what they must have gone through with this transition.
The Statue of Chester A. Arthur in Madison Square Park
George Edwin Bissell was an American born artist from Connecticut whose father was a quarry-man and marble carver. He studied sculpture abroad in Paris in the late 1870’s and was known for his historical sculptures of important figures of the time (Wiki).
The Admiral David Farragut statue in Madison Square Park by artist Augustus St. Gaudens
Another interesting statue that stands out in Madison Square Park is the of Civil War Navy hero, Admiral David Farragut. Admiral Farragut commanded the Union Blockage of Southern cities and helped capture New Orleans. The statute was designed by sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens. This was the artist’s first major commission when it was dedicated in 1881 (NYCParks.org).
Augustus St. Gaudens was an Irish born American artist whose specialty during the Beaux-Arts era was monuments to Civil War heroes. He had created the statue the William Tecumseh Sherman in the Central Park Mall on Fifth Avenue along with this statue of Admiral Farragut. He had studied at the National Academy of Design, apprenticed in Paris and then studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (Wiki).
Upon leaving Madison Square Park and proceeding across East to West 25th Street (Fifth Avenue separates the East Side from the West Side of Manhattan), I was traveling into what was once part of Midtown between the Civil War until WWI and then after that Midtown moved closer to Central Park during the 1920’s through the 1940’s.
Most of the buildings in this section of NoMAD were built with decorative stonework and elaborate ornamentation. There are so many in this section of Manhattan I will highlight the ones that are the standouts. As I walked the border of the neighborhood, you could see many beautiful buildings lining 25th Street.
When walking down East 25th Street from Madison Square Park, the first interesting site you pass is the historic Worth Square, the Memorial to and burial site of General William Jenkins Worth.
William Jenkins Worth was a native New Yorker (Hudson, NY) and decorated Army officer who had served our country in the Battles of 1812, The Second Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. His series of campaigns shaped this Country to where it is today. He died working for the Department of Texas in 1849 (Wiki).
Army General William Jenkins Worth
The General’s remains are buried under the monument at Worth Square at the corner of Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 24th and 25th Street. General Worth was interned here in November of 1857 on the anniversary of the British leaving the colonies (NYCParks.org).
The Worth Monument between East 24th and East 25th Street at Broadway and Fifth Avenue
The Worth Monument was designed by artist James Goodwin Batterson, whose main profession was one of the founders of the Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford, CT and helped design the Library of Congress Building in Washington DC. He had immersed himself in his father’s quarrying and stone importing business early in his career and traveled extensively to Europe and Egypt for the job. He designed this monument in 1857 (Wiki).
Passing Worth Square and continuing down West 25th Street, I noticed the impressive architecture that lines the streets of this section of the Broadway part neighborhood.
At 1123 Broadway is the detailed Townsend Building that was built between 1896-97 and was designed by New York architect Cyrus Lazelle Warner Eidlitz in the Classical style. The building is names for Isaac Townsend whose estate the building was built on (Flatiron Partnership).
Another beautiful building is the Heritage Hotel at 18-20 West Fifth Avenue. This detailed hotel was designed by the architectural firm of Israels & Harder in 1901 in the Beaux-Arts style.The hotel opened in 1902 as the Arlington Hotel, a residential hotel for well-heeled guests (Daytonian).
By the time I reached Sixth Avenue again, I could see the reason why most people call the Flatiron District a treasure trove of architecture. Block after block walking the borders of this neighborhood was an experience in the hopes and dreams of so many companies of the turn of the last century. When they built these buildings, they were meant to last, and they believed in what they were creating.
What I love about the Flatiron District is the belief that business had in itself to last, to make an impression on the not just the people that worked there but to the outside world. It showed a world of promise and power and showed New York City’s representation in business and culture. Between the Civil War and WWI, you could see the growth in commerce, marketing, retail and the arts representing in these blocks of Manhattan.
This was meant to show the country where New York City stood and what it represented. These were not just buildings but statements to the optimism that a country that had just been through a Civil War could accomplish. While this trend was followed by cities all over the country growing between the wars, New York stood out by doing it first and doing it bigger.
This is why Manhattan is the capital of the World.
The weather finally broke and it was goreous today. It was a crazy morning before I left for the City and I got in early before I had to work at the Soup Kitchen. The numbers keep growing and we are getting busier and busier. We are now packing a thousand bags of food for the growing number of people visiting Holy Apostles.
I needed some extra energy before I got to the church and decided to stop at 9th Avenue Grocery, a tiny deli a block from the church for a Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich. I must have passed this place a hundred times over the last twenty years but never stopped in. With all the construction going on in the neighborhood, I have noticed more signs outside for the deli with their specials to bring these guys in.
The Breakfast menu at 9th Avenue Grocery (prices have changed)
I have to tell you the Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a soft roll ($4.50) was not only was reasonable but delicious. The roll was so fresh and chewy but they gave you a nice portion of eggs to bacon which must have been two or three per order. What I liked about their menu was that almost all their hot foods were under $10.00.
The Bacon, Egg and Cheese at 9th Avenue Grocery is worth the trip dodging construction workers
When I finished breakfast, it was time to go to work and we spent the rest of the morning packing food bags to go with the hot food lunch we were serving that morning. We worked in coordination and packed 800 bags this morning so that the Monday staff had something to work with that day. Five of us got this done in two and a half hours.
After we finished, it was time to to explore the Streets of the Chelsea neighborhood. I lucked out and it was a beautiful sunny afternoon with blue skys and about 82 degrees. That’s when these walks are fun.
I have to tell you that this, Chelsea in this section of the neighborhood is a juxtapose of different styles of architecture and reflects how the area is reinventing itself from an old shipping and receiving/distribution business to the modern-day tech companies. Not only has there been a reuse of these buildings, but the historical brick townhouses have been brought back to their glory with extensive renovations. With every block it just keeps changing with a new business filling the stores that once had ‘For Rent’ signs.
I walked around the block from Holy Apostles Church to start the walk from Twelve Avenue and then continued down West 27th Street. You are going to find that most of the buildings between Twelfth and Tenth Avenues which were probably once garages and car washes have now been refitted into art galleries. You can see the art peering out from the glass windows. You will also notice that it is one of the few streets in the City with cobblestones. It is rare to see this anymore.
The cobblestone streets of West 27th Street off Twelve Avenue
From Tenth to Ninth Avenues, you pass Chelsea Park, which looked like it was busy on the soccer field with a gym class from the Avenues World School on one side, the kids screaming and yelling all over the playground equipment from P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep and the homeless who just finished their lunch from Holy Apostles lying around the benches in the middle of the park. It is never a dull moment in that park and it has become very much alive with the warmer weather and probably the anticipation of school ending.
For security reasons, you will have to walk around the Penn South Complex down West 26th Street and around to reach Ninth Avenue and the entrance to the Fashion Institute of Technology campus at West 27th Street.
“Untitled” by Ami Shamir (Hue Magazine)
The campus was really quiet as summer classes were probably going on right now. I noticed tucked in front of the Dubinsky Building is the sculpture “Untitled” by artist Ami Shamir. This work appears to represent a figure group of fashion industry-related tools (Hue Magazine). The piece dates back to the 1970’s.
Artist Ami Shamir
Ami Shamir is an Israeli American born artist was a noted sculpture and stained-glass artist whose works were related to Jewish themes and the Holocaust. The work was part of the Public Art Movement of its time (Hue Magazine).
On the corner of West 27th Street and Seventh Avenue is the Museum of FIT at 227 West 27th Street. This wonderful and unique museum showcases the clothing, shoes and accessories of the Fashion Institute of Technology collection. I stopped in earlier to see the new exhibition “Dior + Balenciaga-Kings of Couture and their Legacies” which was the current show.
The “Dior + Balenciaga: Kings of Couture and their Legacies” show
The show compares and contrasts both designers both on how their work was perceived and how it compares to the fashion represented in their ‘Houses’ today. The museum does a wonderful job mounting a show and it should not be missed. It is also open free to the public.
When you arrive at the corner of campus at Sixth Avenue, you are greeted by one of the most iconic sculptures in the City, The ‘Eye of Fashion’ by artist Robert Cornbach. This was designed by the artist in 1976 and just returned to the campus after a major renovation.
“The Eye of Fashion” by artist Robert Cornbach
Robert Cornbach was an American born artist from St. Louis, who was educated at the St. Louis Academy of Fine Arts and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He was known for his large abstract artworks that includes sculptures and fountains (NYTimes.com/Obituary). He also created works for the WPA for the Government’s Federal Art Project (Wiki).
When you cross Seventh towards Sixth Avenue, you see the last traces of the old Garment/Wholesale District with many of those old wholesale businesses being replaced by trendy stores and hotels. The area is shared with the very desirable NoMAD (North of Madison Park) neighborhood that is slowly expanding to this neighborhood. Reaching Sixth Avenue, it was like revisiting an old friend since I had not visited NoMAD/Koreatown in a few months.
As you are walking back down the street, you will notice the beauty of 109 West 27th Street amongst the smaller buildings in the old Wholesale District. Some relators will say this is NoMAD and some will say the Garment District. The building was built in 1908 and you really have to look at the upper floors to see the detailed stone carvings and embellishments that adorn the buildings.
On the walk back, you will start to notice this transition with all the empty ‘For Rent’ signs on the buildings. COVID really affected this part of the neighborhood and just accelerated the gentrification.
The Chelsea School PS 33 artwork on the school
Chelsea School Art
Chelsea School Artwork in the Garden
Just be sure that when you are walking back through Chelsea Park, it is at school time and not after dark. The park can get a little seedy at twilight. Also take time to look at the nice vegetable garden the kids at PS 33 planted behind the school. They did a good job.
I found this cute production of “Singing in the Rain” that the students of P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep performed
As you are walking back towards Twelvth Avenue, you will be greeted by the most unusual women faces and creatures the move and swirl. These are the works of artist Jordan Betten that line the door fronts of the building facing West 27th Street.
Artist Jordan Betten’s artwork on West 27th Street entitled “Sleep No More” is located on the south side of the street
Jordan Betten artist
Artist Jordan Bennen is a Miami based American born artist who works include painting, sculpture and design. With unique application and use of colors, his art captures a feeling of freedom and strength. He shows his love of the streets with sophistication and modernism (Artist Bio).
Video on artist Jordan Betten’s work
West 26th Street has a similar feel for the first two blocks as well with many of the building housing art galleries. A crew was filming a movie, so I had to move around the street as I was walking through it and there is a lot of construction on the street with renovations of these old buildings so be careful.
When crossing the street at Tenth Avenue, you will be walking through the middle of the Chelsea-Elliott Houses so please be aware of who is around you. My advice is to walk through this area when either school is out for a break or just after school. It can get a little shady in the early evenings. Some of the residents will really look you over if they feel you don’t belong, and this is on the sidewalk that rims the complex.
The Elliott-Chelsea Houses on Tenth Avenue
Still there are a few bright points when you walk through the projects. Senoria Pastilito, a woman who sells freshly fried chicken and beef pastelitos, a Dominican empanada and icy sodas. This little stand is open around the time school lets out. Do not miss these delicious pastelitos, filled with chopped and well spiced meats that she fries fresh in front of you. I ate them right by the little park where her stand is located, and she is busy when school lets out.
Senoria Pastelito at the Chelsea-Elliott Houses
Also, tucked into the side of the building is a beautiful flower garden where dozens a of red rose bushes were in bloom, and someone planted flower beds between the building and the sidewalk.
The Chelsea-Elliott Houses Gardens
The Chelsea-Elliott Houses Gardens
It just shows that there are people in public housing that really do care about their homes and take pride in its appearance. There is also interesting tile art on the side of one of the buildings that is really interesting. I was not sure what it meant though.
The tile art at the Chelsea-Elliott Houses
The tile art at the Chelsea-Elliott Houses
Changes in the neighborhood
Further down the road towards the southern part of the Fashion Institute of Technology campus is the studio for the Wendy Williams Show, where my best friend, Maricel and I attended the show back in March. The theater is at 221 West 26th Street and when I passed it I could not believe so much time had gone by. The worst part is I heard on the Internet that the show is closing after 13 seasons.
My best friend Maricel and I at the ‘Wendy Williams Show’
As you travel to the other side of Seventh Avenue, you will see the constant change over of the neighborhood from the old Garment District to the fashionable NoMAD with small restaurants and shops tucked into former wholesale shops. COVID closed a lot of the older businesses that used to be on the block.
West 25th Street is very similar to the other blocks with lots of art galleries on the first two blocks from Twelve to Tenth Avenues taking space that was formerly used for shipping or car repair. When you crossover to Seventh Avenue, I was bummed to see that Milanes at 168 West 25th Street closed for business. That’s where Maricel and I ate after attending the Wendy Williams Show and I ate when I was in the neighborhood. It was funny in that it was always busy when I ate there.
Milanes at 168 West 25th Street (closed for business in June 2022)
The COVID economy takes another victim. Its too bad as this restaurant had quite the following. Their business seems to be have been taken up by Johny’s Lunchonette at 124 West 25th Street, a small lunch counter business a few doors down.
Johny’s Grill and Lunchonette at 124 West 25th Street
This looks like another winner that I will have to try in the future.
On the way back from Sixth Avenue and tucked into the southern part of the Penn South complex is the Jeff Dulleau Generational Garden at 365 West 25th Street just before your get to Ninth Avenue. This tiny garden was locked but in full bloom with vegetable beds and wild flowers growing all over garden. Mr. Dulleau had been a founding member of the Green Guerillas.
The Jeff Dulleau Intergenerational Garden at 365 West 25th Street
The ‘Green Guerillas’ are a group that uses education, organizing and advocacy to to help people cultivate community gardens, sustain grassroots groups, grow food, engage youth and address critical issues of food justice and urban agriculture (Green Guerillas).
When turned the corner and started my walk down West 24th Street from Twelveth Avenue, I noticed all the former shipping buildings have all been converted to art galleries. Each building had its own look with the artwork shining from the large glass windows where you can peer in.
When you reach Tenth Avenue, you reach the historical district of the neighborhood which lines Tenth Avenue from West 25th to West 24th and the from Tenth to Ninth Avenues. These blocks are lined with late 19th century townhouses with detailed grillwork and small front gardens. This is one of the nicest sections of the neighborhood to walk.
On the corner of Tenth Avenue and West 24th Street is Orchard Townhouse, a small restaurant and inn. Talk about quaint. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor dining with a small garden that flows to the sidewalk. It has that historic ‘inn’ look about it and an interesting menu for lunch. A mostly American and Continental menu and something to try in the future.
The Orchard Townhouse at twilight (Orchard Townhouse) at 242 Tenth Avenue at West 24th Street
The courtyard of the Orchard Townhouse (Orchard Townhouse)
The courtyard of the Orchard Townhouse (Orchard Townhouse)
The House of Waris at the Old Orchard
This historic district extends from the southern side of West 25th Street and the northern side of West 24th and offers a glimpse at early 1880-90’s architecture at its finest. Back then, this was meant to be upper class housing but ended up being for a middle class resident. Today, you can’t buy one of these townhouses for under two million dollars. It would be interesting to know the builders perspective on that a hundred and thirty years later.
Chelsea Historic District at West 24th Street
West 24th Street offers a juxtaposed mix of architectural designs of buildings depending on the block. From Twelfth Avenue to Tenth Avenue it is a combination of old shipping and garage buildings that have now been converted like the rest of the neighborhood into art galleries, the historic district stretches from Tenth to Ninth Avenues and from Ninth to Sixth Avenues there is a mixture of the old residential district mixed into the commercial district that it has become.
Chelsea Historic District at West 24th Street
Here and there small brick townhouses mix in with larger commercial businesses that themselves have transformed from manufacturing to digital and tech companies and a growing number of restaurants. Businesses are closing and opening all over the street but it does look like the worst of the COVID problems are behind us (for now).
New restaurant opening at West 24th Street
One stand out was the Fashion Industries High School at 225 West 24th Street where the windows were decorated with the students fashion ideas and I was figuring their final projects of the semester. They had some interesting looks pictured in the windows.
Fashion Industries High School at 225 West 24th Street
Artist Dirt Cobian is an American born artist who started started with a spray can when he was a teenager. He creates the most interesting and eye opening street art. He currently lives in Brooklyn (Artist bio).
A video on who the artist is and what he represents.
This new piece of art appeared in 2022 by artist
The artist Wewer
I could not find any information on the Internet about the artist
This was painted right next to it by artist Lola Lovenotes
Artist Lola Lovenotes is a self-taught graffiti artist from New York City who was heavily influenced by growing up in the Bronx. She also works as a teaching artist in Manhattan and the Bronx (Artist Bio).
I finished the walk back at Twelve Avenue admiring the art from the windows of the galleries and then relaxed in Hudson River Park and admired the view across the river. New Jersey looks very different on this side of the Hudson River. More intriguing.
I finished the afternoon with lunch at the Grand Sichuan Restaurant at 229 Ninth Avenue. I had passed the restaurant many times when walking around the neighborhood and they have some interesting (and very reasonable) lunch specials that I wanted to try. Walking this whole neighborhood I began to notice that there was not too many reasonable (i.e. cheap) places to eat in Chelsea and thought this would be a nice place.
The Grand Sichuan I have to admit could use a good makeover as it is a little dated and theadbare but the food and the service are really good and are worth the visit. Wanted to try something different I had the Orange Flavored Beef Special with Fried Rice and an Egg Roll. The whole meal was delicious.
The Orange Flavored Beef was wonderful
The one thing I liked about the lunch specials ($9.95) at the Grand Sichuan Restaurant is that the portion sizes are very fair and everything was freshly cooked and spiced extremely well. The beef really loaded with chilis that gave it a good pinch. The egg roll was loaded with shredded cabbage and nice pieces of roast pork.
It really was an interesting walk of the neighborhood. Not just on learning the history of the area but passing the open air museum that the area has become. With the renovation of the local parks and new building going on there is more changes on the way. As we leave enter the hopeful post-COVID era where we enter the new normal you are going to see a lot of development on all sides of this neighborhood.
Just like the rest of Manhattan it just keeps morphing.
See my other blogs on Walking North Chelsea/Flower District:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty Seven: Walking the Borders of North Chelsea/Flower District:
The weather finally started to cooperate, and it was a beautiful day today. I started my day at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, helping pack a thousand bags of snacks to serve with the meals to our guests and then worked in Social Services helping people with their mail and getting them toiletries. Everyone had me running in the morning.
After lunch with the other volunteers, I set off to walk the Avenues of the Chelsea neighborhood and explore the neighborhood more in depth. Since I have been working for the Soup Kitchen all these years, I know most of the neighborhood from walking the streets in the past. In all the years that I worked at Macy’s and did my graduate work at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I knew the Sixth and Seventh Avenue areas quite well.
I have noted the changes many times to the Flower District which was much bigger and much different before all the apartment buildings went up along Sixth Avenue. There is a small section still left between Sixth and Seventh Avenues along West 28th Street. Even the Garment District has been shrinking with the rezoning of the neighborhood. New hotels and apartment complexes have replaced the commercial businesses of the neighborhood and with that changing the complexity of the neighborhood to a more residential area.
I started my walk strolling down Eleventh Avenue from the edge of the Hudson Yards neighborhood to the border of Chelsea at West 23rd Street. As I have said in previous blogs, everything between Twelveth and Eleventh Avenues is being knocked down and rebuilt as well as parks are being renovated. These city blocks are becoming the new ‘Gold Coast’ being so close to companies like Google’s New York City campus.
There has been a renaissance of the buildings along this part of the Hudson River. Old storage facilities and shipping buildings are being or have been renovated for office and hospitality use along with former garages becoming art galleries.
The first building that I passed was the Terminal Warehouse at 261 Eleventh Avenue. The Terminal was built in 1891 and designed by architect George Mallory. It has been used in the past as a train terminal and distribution center for the New York Central Railroad . In the 1980’s and early 90’s, it was used as the famous nightclub “Tunnel” and then use as self-storage facility. The Terminal Warehouse is now going through a multi-billion dollar renovation to convert the warehouse from a distribution center to a modern office complex (Columbia Property Trust/69th Street).
When it is finished, the building will house multi-office space, retail and restaurants all while bordering the Hudson River and the Highline Park.
Next to the Terminal Warehouse is the Starrett-Leigh Building at 601 West 26th Street. This interesting complex was built in 1931 by architectural firm of Cory & Cory. It had been originally used as a freight transportation center. Since the creation of the Highline Park and the demand for office space in this area, it has been a leader in the creation of the Tech Center “Silicon Alley”.
The Starrett-Leigh Building at 601 West 26th Street
The building was a partnership between the Starrett Corporation and the Leigh Valley Railroad when it was built. By 1944, the Leigh Valley Railroad had pulled operations out of the building and by 1966, the last of the rail lines were pulled out. The building is currently going through another major renovation to convert it into first class office space (RXR).
The desirability of working and living in this once shipping and rail area of the neighborhood keeps changing the complexity of area between the Hudson River, Twelveth and Eleventh Avenues. It is becoming the center of the tech and creative industries of New York City. As you walk up Eleventh Avenue, you will observe large buildings whose future might change.
Tenth Avenue starts the more residential part of Chelsea and where you can see the transition of the neighborhood from the old commercial area to an upscale residential place with new restaurants, galleries and shops.
As you walk down Tenth Avenue from the kids playing soccer on the fields of Chelsea Park, on one side of the Avenue is the combination of the Chelsea-Elliott Public Housing project and on the other side is the Avenues School, an innovative private school for kids all over New York City. This was the subject of an HBO Documentary “Class Divide”, on the changes of demographics and economics in New York City.
The documentary “Class Divide” by HBO
The Chelsea-Elliott Houses are located between West 25th and 27th Streets between Ninth and Tenth Avenues (but not the full block) and were designed by architect William Lescaze. They were the first houses to be designed in the high rise with a park concept (Wiki).
Chelsea-Elliott Houses between West 25th and 27th Streets off Tenth Avenue (Wiki)
On the opposite side of Tenth Avenue sits the Avenues The World School, one of the most innovative and progressive new schools in New York City. Branches of the school have already opened in South America and China. They will also be opening branches in Miami and Silicon Valley.
An education at Avenues concentrates on a global outlook with courses being taught in English, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese starting in nursury school. The school believes in technology and a group approach to learning. It is also almost $40,000 a year (Avenues.com).
With these changes in education and in the whole makeup up of this part of the neighborhood, you can see why the documentary was made in its context. A whole section of society is advancing towards the future and another is being left behind.
I thought about all this as I passed the projects on my way back up Tenth Avenue from West 23rd Street, observing the kids who were going from Avenues into the playground at the Chelsea-Elliott Houses playground to play. The documentary really stuck home.
Tenth Avenue does have its contrasts on the other side of the avenue as well as from West 25th to 24th Streets still have the historical character of the old neighborhood with the old brownstones and townhouses on one side of the avenue. It just shows how Manhattan keeps reinventing itself and you can see this block by block in Manhattan.
Chelsea Historic District at West 24th Street
Ninth Avenue is where my start off point was from the entrance of Holy Apostles Church. What I did learn from walking the neighborhood was more about the history of The Church of the Holy Apostles. The Church of the Holy Apostles was built between 1845 to 1848 and was designed by architect Minard Lafever with the stained-glass windows designed by William Jay Bolton (Wiki).
The church has always been progressive, and it was rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. The church had been an extension of the Trinity Church downtown for the working-class people in the area. Now it also runs the second largest Soup Kitchen in the United States. The biggest is in San Franciso (Wiki).
The Church of the Holy Apostles at 296 Ninth Avenue feels like a second home to me
It was also convenient in that it was where I needed to start my walk on Ninth Avenue where the church is located right across from Chelsea Park south of the northern section of Hudson Yards and right across from the Lower Garment District (please read my blogs on walking these parts of Manhattan as well).
What I never noticed in the almost 17 years that I have been volunteering at the Soup Kitchen was that it was a park. Chelsea Park is located across the street at the corner of Ninth Avenue and between West 28th and 27th Streets. I had always thought this was part of P.S. 33, the elementary school next door complex. There is a whole separate park behind that corner.
Chelsea Park extends all the way to Tenth Avenue with soccer and basketball courts and places for people to not just run but relax under the blanket of trees in the summer. Facing Ninth Avenue in a small courtyard is the statue of the ‘Chelsea Doughboy’.
The statute was designed to honor the war veterans of WWI. The term “Doughboy” no one is too sure where it originated. Some think from the fried dough dumplings that the soldiers eat or maybe from the way their uniforms looked which were a little baggy or from the dough clay that they used to clean their uniforms (NYCParks.org).
Artist Philip Martiny was a French born American artist who settled in New York when he immigrated here in 1878. He was a contemporary of artist August Saint-Gaudens and known for his decorative styles in the Beaux-Arts fashion. He created many sculptures for buildings in New York City and Washington DC (Wiki).
As I continued my walk down Ninth Avenue, I could see that the Chelsea Prep School was out for a break and the kids were screaming and yelling all over the playground. I have to say that the playground could use some work and the amount of homeless guys hanging out around the kids I don’t think is the smartest thing as well.
The interesting paintings at the Chelsea School PS 33
When passing West 25th to 23rd Streets on the right side, you will see the fringes of the historic district mixed in with the commercial area with shops and restaurants. Really look up and admire the architecture of the old townhouses and apartment buildings before they start to disappear.
The West Chelsea Historic District
Eighth Avenue is an unusual mix of residential buildings with the Penn South complex on one side of avenue and the Fashion Institute of Technology campus on the other side. Penn South was built for the workers of the International Ladies Garment Union and were designed by architect Herman Jessor (Wiki). The buildings are surrounded by series of parks and paths.
The rest of the block is a commercial district of stores and restaurants. There are a few standouts when you reach the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 23rd Street. What I love about Chelsea is that it is a treasure trove of reasonable restaurants that dot the street all the way to Sixth Avenue.
Right in the center of the avenue, across from the Fashion Institute of Technology at 335 Eighth Avenue is the McDonald’s. I spent many a afternoon and evening at both when I was attending school here and after Soup Kitchen when I did not want to eat the lunch. I still love their McDoubles and the breakfasts. Right next door is Taco Bandito at 325 Eighth Avenue for authentic and very cheap Mexican food (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
Taco Bandito at 325 Eighth Avenue
Taco Bandito and McDonalds are right around the corner from The Fashion Institute of Technology at 325 and 355 Eighth Avenue respectively (McDonalds closed in January 2023).
Just off the corner of Eighth Avenue is Lions & Tigers & Squares at 268 West 23rd Street, which has the best Detroit style pizza that I have tasted in New York City. The sauce and cheese are baked into the sides of their pizza, and they really load down on the toppings.
Don’t miss their sausage or pepperoni pizza which has a heavy covering of spicy sliced pepperoni and the sweet sausage that is topped with maple syrup. Their pizza has a crisp outside and a pillowy inside.
The Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza here is just excellent
Just next to Lions & Tigers & Squares is Lucky’s Famous Burgers at 264 West 23rd Street. This amazing little restaurant serves the best burgers and chicken fingers. Their French Fries come in a little sack that can serve two people.
When I had lunch there recently when I was finishing my walk around West Chelsea/Hudson Yards, I had the juiciest twin Cheeseburgers and a bag of fries. Their burgers are so fresh and well-cooked and topped with lots of fresh vegetables. They are so well caramelized on the outside that the burgers have such a good flavor when combined with the toppings.
The Mini Cheeseburgers with fries are excellent at Lucky’s Famous Burgers
Seventh Avenue is mostly commercial with a smattering of residential here and there above the businesses and some of the newer apartment buildings that are going up. The Garment District as I had mentioned in previous blogs has been slowly disappearing and being replaced by a combination of new office space and hotels.
In the years since I worked on Seventh Avenue, I have seen some major changes in the neighborhood with older commercial buildings coming down for new office space. Then there is the disappearance of the Flower District for new apartments and what is left is concentrated between Sixth and Seventh Avenues on West 28th Street.
Seventh Avenue’s businesses were also hit hard by the pandemic, especially surrounding the Fashion Insitute of Technology, which had stopped classes and went virtual by March of 2020. That affected all the restaurants around the college that had once catered to all the students and staff. During 2020 and most of 2021, the area was plaqued with graffitti filled buildings that stood empty for almost two years. Now with the college reopened, businesses have reopened in their place and things are started to look vibrant again.
The Fashion Institute of Technology is on Seventh Avenue between West 28th and 26th Streets and sits in the center of the Garment District. The college is part of the SUNY system of colleges of the State of New York and was founded in 1944. The Colleges emphasis is on Fashion, the Arts, Design and Business and been founded to serve the growing Garment Industry that once surrounded it (Wiki).
The Fashion Institute of Technology at 227 West 27th Street
When you arrive on the front of campus, you are greeted by one of the most iconic sculptures in the City, The ‘Eye of Fashion’ by artist Robert Cornbach. This was designed by the artist in 1976 and just returned to the campus after a major renovation.
“The Eye of Fashion” by artist Robert Cornbach
Robert Cornbach was an American born artist from St. Louis, who was educated at the St. Louis Academy of Fine Arts and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He was known for his large abstract artworks that includes sculptures and fountains (NYTimes.com/Obituary). He also created works for the WPA for the Government’s Federal Art Project (Wiki).
The Museum at FIT (MFIT) was founded in 1969 and is the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion. Best known for its innovative and award-winning exhibitions, the museum has a permanent collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the eighteenth century to the present, MFIT is a member of the American Alliance of Museums. Its mission is to educate and inspire diverse audiences with innovative exhibitions and programs that advance knowledge of fashion.
The museum’s current exhibition is ‘Dior + Balenciaga-Kings of Couture and their Legacies’, which studies both designers work after WWII at a time when people wanted luxury and elegance at the end of the war years. They also resurrected the French fashion scene after the war (The Museum at FIT).
The museum was founded in 1969 as a Design Lab and became a full museum in 1994. The museum shows are taken directly from the collection and from pieces borrowed.
After you pass the campus and continue walking south towards West 23rd Street, there are three wonderful restaurants side by side. All of them very reasonable and the food is delicious.
On the corner of Eighth Avenue are three restaurants I have noted many times in this blog for either their creative cooking or their cheap eats. These are real neighborhood restaurants. The first one being Chelsea Papaya at 171 West 23rd Street, which was the starting point when I had breakfast last summer when I started “The Great Saunter” walk on Father’s Day. The breakfasts here are just amazing. The pancake platter was out of this world and their breakfast sandwich Bacon Egg and Cheese was delicious.
Chelsea Papaya at 171 West 23rd Street is great for all meals
Next door to it is Pizza Gaga at 171 West 23rd Street for $1.50 slices and $1.00 cans of soda. This is my ‘go-to’ place when I need a quick snack and then need to dash on the subway to go somewhere else.
The cheese pizza at Pizza Gaga at 171 West 23rd Street is really good
A few doors down is Excellent Dumpling House at 165 West 23rd Street. I have only eaten there once but the food was pretty good that evening but it still warrants a second trip because the raving that it got online did not live up to the hype of the food. The Soup Dumplings I had that night were large but did not have that much flavor.
On my way back up Seventh Avenue, I noticed the vibe that was returning to the area with students returning to the campus and workers to the offices and garment manufacturers back to the showrooms. This area looked like a graffiti ghost town for too long. There are still traces of it here and there but with all the scaffolding on Seventh Avenue I can see that something new will arise from the ashes.
Chelsea and its overlapping with both the ever shrinking Garment District and the ever growing Hudson Yards is bursting with new construction and new businesses ready for the next stage post-COVID.
Before I left the City that night, I took a quick walk up Ninth Avenue and stopped for a slice at Two Brothers Pizza at 542 Ninth Avenue. It is my ‘go-to’ spot on my way home when I want a quick snack. As usual, it was packed with people who like their ‘dollar’ slices as well.
Even now as I was eating my slice, I could see the changes with all the new hotels surrounding Port Authority that the neighborhood was changing and getting better. This is all within the last ten years.
It is going to be interesting to see what arises when the scaffolding comes down.
See my other blogs on Walking North Chelsea/Flower District:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty Seven: Walking the Borders of North Chelsea/Flower District: