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:
Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time and something wonderful and fun happens. My weekend up in the Hudson River Valley was like that when I was on a recent business trip. It was restful and I got my mind off school and work. I had to go to the Culinary Institute of America to talk to one of my old chefs for a project I was working on for my Innovations in Tourism class at NYU.
Roth Hall during Christmas time 2022
It was a step back in time for me walking around campus and talking to students in their chef’s gear. It reminded me of when I was attending the CIA and visitors asking me what it was like to be a student there. Roth Hall where I took all my classes was decked out for Christmas which I never experienced when I was on campus because I left campus in October when it was still warm and worked in Hawaii during the holiday season.
The inside entrance of Roth Hall decorated for Christmas
The outside of Roth Hall decked out for Christmas
While on campus, I noticed in the paper that there was going to be a small Christmas celebration in Downtown Kingston, the “Snowflake Festival” from 6:00pm-8:00pm that evening so I thought I would just visit Kingston after I settled in the hotel.
My chef was not available that afternoon but it gave me a chance to walk around the campus and visit parts of campus that I had not visited since pre-COVID. It got to see some of the new buildings and renovations of the old ones. I forgot how beautiful the campus is on the Hudson River.
The campus was quiet because most of the students were in their night classes so the restaurants were preparing for evening dinner shift. Visitors were taking tours of campus so I took time to explore all the restaurants and see what they looked like. It was a step back in time to see that not too much had changed but the course levels and curriculum kept evolving.
The artwork on campus is interesting
After a long tour of the building, I walked around the grounds of the campus. I visited the new Student Center and the Recreation Building to see all the happenings. They now have more clubs than ever and a series of sports teams. We never had those things when I was on campus. I walked through the “Egg”, which is the big cafeteria for the students and then the path outside the building following the Hudson River.
I knew that it was going to be a long day so I stopped for some lunch at the Apple Pie Cafe, which had not opened until I graduated. The Apple Pie Cafe is a Panera type restaurant featuring soups, sandwiches, small entrees and desserts. It is really popular with all the tourists.
The Apple Pie Cafe on the first floor of Roth Hall
I got there near closing time so the menu was limited. I decided on the Mac & Cheese and an Apple Cider donut. Everything was delicious but then I would not have expected anything else. The Mac & Cheese was made of Cheddar, Asiana and Parmesan. It had been sitting so it was firm on the outside but still tender and cheesy on the inside and the flavor was excellent.
The Mac & Cheese is baked until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside
For dessert, I had one the Apple Cider Cake donuts and it was wonderful. The donut was freshly fried and then it was almost poached in a reduction of Apple Cider so the top was firm and the bottom was dipped in the reduction giving the bottom of the donut a sweeter taste.
The Apple Pie Cafe at 1946 Campus Drive on the Culinary Institute of America campus in Hyde Park, NY
The whole meal was delicious and they let us continue eating after the restaurant was closed. They were just cleaning up the kitchen around us. After I finished that wonderful lunch, I got back to Heinz Plaza as twilight was happening and the sun was receding along the Hudson River. The Christmas trees were lit in the plaza and it looked very festive.
The Christmas Tree in the Courtyard was lit for the evening and the site of the Tree was wonderful.
I went back outside to see the Christmas tree in the courtyard lit. The whole effect was very beautiful.
I left campus that day refreshed after a good lunch and a long walk and wanted to relax at the hotel before I left for Kingston. It was just nice to sink into the bed of the Quality Inn in Hyde Park. The rooms are so comfortable and the beds are soft and firm. I just relaxed in the room for about an hour and just took it easy. It had been a long week of classes at both colleges.
The Courtyard at night
The campus Christmas tree was fully lit when I returned to talk to Chef Zearfoss
I left for Kingston, NY across the river and got to the Stockade section of the City around 6:00pm when things were just starting up. The weather was perfect and it was around 50 degrees when I got there so the streets were really busy with people walking around to hear the bands.
The “Snowflake Festival” in Downtown Kingston, NY
The town had a lot of activities going on that night
I was greeted by this festive sign welcoming people to the festival
Downtown Kingston’s Stockard section was beautifully decorated for the holidays
I got the Stockade neighborhood in the oldest part of Kingston by 6:30pm so people were just starting to arrive when I got there to join in the festivities. The crowds were starting to grow as the evening progressed as it was a crisp but pleasant December evening. It was not too hot and not too cold. It was the perfect 48 degree evening.
People arriving in the Stockage section of the City of Kingston, NY
Snowflakes decorated the whole downtown area
The crowds kept growing through the evening
It was really a fun evening. The City of Kingston had a lot of activities planned all over the downtown and people were walking all over the decorated downtown. All the lights were on all over the streets and the main streets were lined with Christmas lights and snowflakes. The display windows of the business were decorated to the hilt for the holiday season.
Downtown merchant window display
Downtown merchant window display
My favorite window display was a home furnishing store on the main street
The merchants of Kingston really went all out for the holidays
The merchants in Kingston really got into the spirit of it all
I first wondered around the downtown on where to start first and just walked all the streets of the downtown area to see what was going on. My first stop was the Dutch Reformed Church were they were going to have a series of concerts. I had been there many times for Sinterklaas fundraisers in the past but had not been there for this event.
The church was all decked out with garlands and lights for the Christmas holiday season. I love these old churches when they are decorated for the holidays. There is such a beauty to them and so many traditions that they are a part of in the community. This church is in the center of old Kingston and always has such interesting events.
The outside of the Dutch Reformed Church of Kingston at 272 Wall Street was very festive with garland and lights
I had been in the church before for Sinterklaas fundraisers but never in the main part of the church where services took place. It is one of those old 19th century churches with the wooden pews, the elaborate stained glass windows and the high pulpit above the congregation.
The church was decorated with lights, bows, holly and garland all over the pews and aisles. It is amazing how secular these churches are getting for the holidays. The concert was a lot of fun and very festive. They not only performed classic hits, contemporary music but also some traditional Christmas songs. It really got everyone in the mood for the holidays.
The concerts were very lively
After visiting the church, I walked around the grounds. It is amazing how short the distance is between Halloween and Christmas but the lines are getting more blurred every year. It seems that time is flying by between the two holidays. I even see some of the Halloween merchandise still sitting on the shelves in stores.
I followed the carolers around the downtown area and took several pictures by the Kingston Christmas tree. Their tree was very impressive this year and beautifully lit for the holidays. Downtown Kingston was very beautiful that evening as I admired all the buildings that were being renovated and all the new stores opening up.
The Downtown Kingston Christmas Tree on Main Street
I walked around the streets and I came to the Kingston Volunteer Firefighters Museum that was open and decorated for the holidays. They even had an antique fire engine in the front of the museum decorated with lights.
The Volunteer Firemen’s Hall and Museum at 265 Fair Street
The retired firefighters from the former volunteer companies really did a great job dressing the museum up for the event. In the upstairs Chief’s office, there was garland and a Christmas tree.
All the equipment was shined up for the open house and all the firemen were swapping stories with those of us in the fire service who understood what we were talking about. They had some pretty good stories to tell. What I like about visiting this museum is all the antique equipment they have on display.
I love the parade hose beds that the museum has on display. These elaborate pieces are the pride of these fire companies and were out for every parade.
Before I left though, I had the worst (I mean worst) cup of hot chocolate that I ever drank. It tasted like it was cooked in a burnt pot. I had to throw that out and find something else to drink.
After the fire museum, I turned the corner to see the horse drawn carriage rides that were available. I loved the look of the carriage with the horses decked out for the holidays and the driver in a top hat. The only problem was there was one driver and the line even towards the end of the event was fifty deep. I did not know how they were going to get through all those people before it was time to go.
My last visit for the evening was to the Senate House in the historic area of downtown. The lawn and all the trees were lit with Christmas lights and the buildings covered in garland.
The Senate House Complex at 295 Fair Street was beautifully decorated that night
Here a performer was singing Christmas songs and leading sing a longs while Santa wished everyone well and listened to what everyone wanted for Christmas.
Singer Mark Rust at the Senate House lawn for the Snowflake Festival
The lines to see Santa were also fifty deep as everyone was trying to see Santa before the event ended. I just was a casual observer.
Santa was really busy that night. I don’t know how he handled the crowds
The event winded down rather quickly at 8:00pm and when I started to turn the corners of the downtown again especially on main street, they were starting to pack things up. 8:00pm meant 8:00pm! The strange part was that it looked like all the restaurants were closing at 8:00pm as well. It was as if the whole downtown was rolling up its sleeves. By 8:30pm. the downtown looked like a ghost town.
The Snowflake decorations in Downtown Kingston, NY
Street art in Downtown Kingston, NY by the Christmas tree
I tried to find a place to eat that evening but literally most every place was closed and the only Chinese restaurant that was open did not have a place to sit down so I left Kingston to cross the river again. I knew that Golden Wok in Red Hook was open late so I decided to head to Red Hook, NY for dinner.
Red Hook like the other towns in the Hudson River Valley is so picturesque during the holidays and is one town that is not geared towards tourists as opposed to the local citizens. Their restaurants are reasonable and the town is not overloaded with expensive gift shops like Rhinebeck and Woodstock are in their downtowns. It is also so beautifully decorated with garland and white lights all over the buildings downtown.
Downtown Red Hook, NY was decked out for the holidays
Downtown Red Hook, NY decked out for the holidays
Downtown Red Hook, NY
Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop really decorated to the hilt for Christmas
It was also quiet in Red Hook as well and I was the only one walking around the downtown. I walked around for a bit, admiring the lights and looking over their town Christmas tree which just a few weeks earlier had been a Fall display for Halloween.
Downtown Red Hook, NY Christmas tree
Things move fast in these towns.
I was Golden Wok’s only customer at that time so I ate in at the front table and just watched the traffic go by. The food at the restaurant is just amazing. For a small take out place, they do a wonderful job with their dishes.
I had the most delicious Roast Pork Lo Mein with Pork Fried Rice and an Egg Roll for dinner. Not only was the food good but the portion sizes were very generous. I just sat back and relaxed and ate realizing that I did not have to be anywhere or race to do anything. That was a nice feeling. It was just nice to eat and admire all the Christmas decorations. The restaurant got a little busier as people saw me eating in the front of the restaurant and I guess figured that it was open and started to come in. They got a bit of a rush after that
The Roast Pork Lo Mein and Fried Rice are delicious at Golden Wok
I headed back to my hotel to get some rest. I had to be up the next morning to help with the Sinterklaas Parade. During the Sinterklaas weekend, I always stay at the Quality Inn in Hyde Park, NY which is near the Culinary Institute of America campus. It is the halfway point between all the towns that I visit and not that far from Rhinebeck so it is a quick trip for set up the next morning.
The Quality Inn Hyde Park at 4142 Albany Post Road
Since we had the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association party for the residents on Sunday morning and afternoon in Boonton, NJ, I arranged to stay for two nights. One top of the loads of homework I had for graduate school, I also was taking pictures for my blogs as well and trying to catch up the visuals on my VisitingaMuseum.com site. I had to get settled into the hotel and ended up staying up until almost one in the morning getting work done for school.
The next morning could not have been more miserable. It was cold and rainy when I got up for the Sinterklaas parade. They said it was going to rain all day and that did not make me happy. I had walked in the Sinterklaas Parade in the past in the rain and it is no fun!
I made a big mistake and got up really early and ate my breakfast early and got to the Starlight Library in Rhinebeck by 8:30am thinking I would be late. I forgot that this is when I used to leave home to get to Rhinebeck. The set up was usually at 10:00am and I forgot. So I sat there making phone calls until 10:30am wondering where everyone was that morning. I was not the only one as another volunteer did the same thing. We both ended up back downtown in Rhinebeck asking what was going on.
I ended up that the parade organizers decided to wait until 11:00am to start setting up. By that point, I was starved again and went to Peter’s Famous for an early lunch and decided to go to opening ceremonies before heading back to the library. It was there I heard that they were setting up at the library by 11:00am. I decided to stay and head up after.
I have been participating and/or attending the Sinterklaas Parade since 2010 when my dad and I went up to Rhinebeck, NY when I was interviewing Jeanne Fleming for an article I was working on for the Soup Kitchen. We loved it so much that we continued to go for years even after my father got sick. We made the best of the whole experience.
Since I was not too sure what was going on, I decided I wanted to see the opening ceremony first so I had a quick lunch at Pete’s Famous in Rhinebeck at 34 East Market Street #1. I was in the mood for one of their club sandwiches and ended up indulging in their homemade Chicken Salad Club Sandwiches ($11.99) with French Fries and a Coke.
Pete’s Famous at 34 East Market Street in Rhinebeck, NY
Did that sandwich hit the spot and kept me going for the rest of the afternoon. The chicken salad was delicious and the sandwich was so filling. The French Fries really warmed me up on this cool gloomy morning and the service is always so friendly.
The Chicken Salad Club at Pete’s Famous is a ‘must try’ when dining here
After lunch was over, I headed over to the Beekman Arms where in the banquet room they had the opening ceremony for Sinterklaas.
Sinterklaas Director and founder Jeanne Fleming at the opening ceremony
The Mayor of Rhinebeck, NY welcoming everyone to the event
Jeanne Fleming welcoming the Pocket Lady to the event
Jeanne Fleming welcoming Mother Holly and her story book to the event
Jeanne Fleming welcoming the evil “Gadfly” to the event
The Grove of Trees of the magic forest
The musical polar bear enters the room to bring cheer to the crowd
The meddlesome Gadfly jealous of the polar bear
Hansel and Gretel close the ceremony with a song
The Opening Ceremony was about an hour long and we got to meet all the characters of Sinterklaas. There was the Pocket Lady who shares a gift with all the good little children from her series of pockets, Mother Holly (who is always feeling jolly), the Queen Bee (Oh!), the Dancing Musical Polar Bear and the evil Gadfly. The Mayor of Rhinebeck, NY welcomed everyone to the annual event and wished everyone a happy and safe holiday season.
The Polar Bear danced down the aisle high fiving everyone much to the Gadfly’s dismay and he started to kvetch about it. Only when he was shushed by the crowd did he calm down. Then the dancing trees took their place on stage to be followed by a song by Hansel and Gretel, who closed the ceremony with a lively song. Everyone was wished a Happy Sinterklaas and some people stayed to listen to storyteller Jonathan Kruk tell the story of Sinterklaas while I went out to enjoy the festivities.
When I got outside the Beekman Arms, I saw the first musical group performing on the lawn of the Beekman Arms. I stopped for a bit to watch them perform and then I rushed to the library to see if there was anything left to do for the parade. When I got there, the last touches were being put on the puppets for the parade and there was not much left to do. The weather started to clear so it looked like the parade was on for later that evening.
The first group was performing on the lawn of the Beekman Arms
I looked over all the puppets like they were close friends seeing these puppets over the years and watching them being created by our puppet masters, Alex and Sophia, who have been running this part of the parade for years. Their ingenuity is what creates these masterpieces every year. Everything was wrapped in plastic waiting to see if the rain would clear for the evening (it did and was a clear and starry night).
Mother Holly welcoming children to her story house
With the parade set up wrapped up, I did not have to be back to help until 4:00pm, I decided to head back down the hill and join everyone else in all the celebrations around Rhinebeck. The weather was slowly clearing and I could see some blue peeking out of the clouds.
The Parade under wraps
The Owls awaiting for their parade
Getting ready for the parade
The bees are buzzing for the parade
The Dragon awaits opening
The stars are kept under wraps
When I left the library, the weather report said it was going to clear and when I reached downtown, the blue of the sky was there. More people started to show up for the activities. Not like last year but people were crowding the sidewalks and enjoying the festivities.
I decided to head to the ‘Porcupine Grove’ where a mysterious woman was doing the reading of the porcupine. It was an unusual home and place to visit but the creativity of the person who designed it was immense. We were told the story of the Porcupine, the representative of this year’s parade.
The Porcupine Grove ceiling to his home
The porcupine’s mushrooms were our seats for the talk
Here we heard the tail of “The Porcupine” by a wise woman
I was lucky that I got to the porcupines home first because as soon as I exited the line to get in was twenty deep and counting. It looked like I was the first one there with my group of visitors.
After the talk in the porcupine’s home, I walked all over Downtown Rhinebeck as the festivities were starting and decided my next stop would be at the Reformed Church to see the “Into the Light” show that I had not seen in years. The church location had changed and it was now in the Reformed Church Sanctuary. This is where I met up with my ‘cousin’ Marc Schuyler, who was working the door to control crowds. We got to catch up on the Halloween Parade that I was not able to attend because of classes that night at NYU.
Myself and Marc at the Halloween Parade a couple years ago
I had not seen the show in a couple of years and stared at the girl who was performing the lead role. She a little too developed to play the role of a young girl in the play. Come to find out this was the same girl I had seen in the show ten years earlier and she was still playing it.
The Reformed Church on Route 9
“Into the Light” is the story of a young girl’s journey throughout the world searching for the light. It features giant puppets and music. The kids did a nice job on the show.
The “Into the Light” show
The “Into the Light” show at the Reformed Church
The “Into the Light” show
The cast taking their bows
After the “Into the Light” show, I said my goodbyes to Marc and told him I would see him (if I do not have class that night) on October 31st, 2023 for the next Halloween Parade. I was off walking to my next stop, the United Methodist Church to hear the brass bands play. What was ironic was that most of these groups had been at the Dutch Reformed Church the night before in Kingston so I got to hear them perform again.
People were dancing in the aisles at the United Methodist Church to the brass bands
There were also musical groups outside the church as well
As the weather cleared during the afternoon, outside the church got lively.
I was only able to stay for two shows and then I had to head back up to the Starlight Library to help with the set up of the parade route and help get volunteers to where they needed to go. The streets got more lively as the weather got sunnier and clear. There were all sorts of musicians walking around, the Gumpuses were performing before the crowd (many of these guys I have seen over the years), angels on stilts dancing to the bands, our friend, the Polar Bear, was dancing around everyone. It really lively on the Main Street.
The Gumpuses dancing around town
The Polar Bear dances to the musical beat
The Angel’s on stilts lead the magical forest around town
Musical bands played all over the main street
Different bands were playing all over the downtown area as the weather cleared
I walked up to the library after watching all the bands perform and every one was having such a nice time. As the weather got better, the crowds really started to arrive and I guest people figured with the weather getting better and the parade night clearing up, it is a perfect time to come out and see it.
I loved how decorated the town was for the event. Downtown Rhinebeck is one of the most beautiful downtown’s during the Christmas holidays. All the merchants and home owners decorate to the hilt and the whole town is covered in garland, bows, white lights and Christmas decorations that give it a festive appearance and put you in the holiday spirit.
The homes and businesses were beautifully decorated
I always admire this house on my walk back up to the Starlight Library
When I got to the Starlight Library, all the volunteers were preparing for the rest of the parade volunteers to arrive. We got to eat some dinner provided by the Parade committee and then we had to get to work making sure everyone was where they needed to be. People wanted to test out their puppets and walk around. I have never seen an evening zoom by so fast and soon it was time to start the parade and get lined up and ready to go. It is always exciting to take that trip down the hill.
The Angels on stilts were exciting about leading the parade
As darkness came, it was time to light up the puppets and get the parade started. It is the most exciting time of the night as the puppet prepare for the lineup.
The Star Puppets lead the way each year and light the path of the parade
The Christmas Dove in the parade
The serpents leading the way both at the Halloween and Sinterklaas Parades
The Dragon lighting the way
The Bees have been lighting the way for years
The wise old owls enter the parade route
Miss Mouse enters the parade
The Star puppets lead the way down the hill to Downtown Rhinebeck, NY
The Start of the Parade at the Starlight Library. You can see me holding the banner at the end of the parade.
Because of the weather earlier in the morning, we did not have the crowds we had last year and in 2019 but still everyone lined the Main Street on the way to the community parking lot on our way to the Closing Ceremonies. People were so excited when the parade came down the hill. It is quite a event with all the lights and music and puppets dancing around the streets.
I was behind the stars and the dove and had the drummers behind me. I could not hear for most of the parade.
The parade moving down the hill towards downtown
The parade in the heart of Downtown Rhinebeck, NY is really exciting!
The parade slowed down as we entered the Community Parking lot as the puppets were being dropped off and the Closing Ceremony started. By the time I got to the parking lot, everyone had pretty much dropped off their puppets but the Stars and Bees who lingered a bit longer.
Than we started the Closing Ceremonies where all the main characters are introduced one more time before they make their exit from the parade awaiting next year. Everyone was so excited and the stage really breemed with artists having a good time.
The closing ceremony with Sinterklaas and his court of people helping him that day.
The Grumpuses perform their last dance of the day on stage.
The Polar Bear was leading the dance at the end of the parade
Hansel and Gretel singing and dancing at the parade.
The band plays on at the closing ceremonies
The flame throwers performed at the end of the Closing Ceremonies.
The stage after the performances were over. It was really creatively done.
After the Closing ceremonies, I walked around the downtown area and spent time admiring the window displays at the stores and admiring the artwork around the trees. It got very quiet in Downtown Rhinebeck. Within an hour of the parade, you would have never known there was a parade.
The merchants in Downtown Rhinebeck really decorated their stores to the hilt for the holidays
The display windows in Downtown Rhinebeck were amazing
Merchant’s window at Christmas
Merchant’s windows at Christmas
Merchant’s windows at Christmas
The night had cooled down but you could see all the beautiful stars in the sky when the weather cleared and in the background I could hear the saxophonist who always plays at night. The Christmas songs he was playing really put me in the Christmas spirit.
I ended the evening with a couple of slices of pizza at Village Pizza. I can’t tell you how good that pizza tasted at the end of the evening. I was talking with the staff there and they said they were consistent that day but not like the two previous years when they did not sit still. The rain at the beginning of the day put a damper on everything.
Village Pizza at 19 East Market Street in Rhinebeck, NY during Sinterklaas
After dinner, I walked around Downtown Rhinebeck, which to me outside of Cape May, NJ is one of the beautiful town’s to spend Christmas in. The whole downtown was beautifully decorated and the Christmas tree was amazing.
Downtown Rhinebeck, NY after the Sinterklaas Parade
Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas time
The Christmas tree in Downtown Rhinebeck, NY
The angels in the alleyway
The angel in the alleyway
I got back to the hotel and went right to bed. I slept so soundly that evening. Between the heat of the room and how comfortable the bed was I got one of the best night’s sleep in a long time. With all the stress of school and having to bring work with me, I just needed this evening to relax.
The view from my room the next day. It was sunny and warmer.
After breakfast the next day, it was off to Boonton, NJ to the New Jersey Firemen’s Home to volunteer for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Christmas Party. It was the first time in three years we had had the full party with entertainment and dropping off presents. The members had time before the party to socialize with each other and I even got better acquainted with the Firemen’s Home resident dog, Wells.
Our article on the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association website:
The Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Executive Board, Tom Simpson, George Heflich, Justin Watrel, John Kinner.
Vice-President Justin Watrel with resident dog, Wells.
Member Jerry Naylis’s daughter and grandchildren were part of the entertainment again this year and really charmed the residents.
The members of the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association gathered together for our annual membership picture after the party was over.
After the entertainment was over, we handed out our presents to the residents which was a beautiful red fleece jacket with the residents name on it. I could tell that all the residents were touched by the gift and it really meant something to all of them to be remembered at the holidays.
Our Christmas present to the residents
While the entertainment carried on for the next 45 minutes, some of the members stopped for dinner at the Columbia Inn in Montville, NJ and just relaxed. It had been a long day for everyone and a good meal was a nice way to end the day. I had the most wonderful Chicken Rollatini special that really warmed me up on this cool early evening. It was nice to catch up with the other members before the holidays went into full force.
It had been a long weekend and when I got home, it was getting ready for classes again, finishing my White Page for my Trends in Tourism class, my Metaverse paper for Innovations in Tourism class and our Mapping project for my Data Analytics class. This on top of all the work I had to finish in my own classes at Bergen Community College. It was going to be a long next three weeks before Christmas and both colleges would keep me busy.
This was the first time I had been to City Island since 2008 when I visited the island for research for my third book “Dinner at Midnight” in which one of the main characters is a witch that moves to City Island. I had walked every street on the island trying to get a feel for what it might be like to live on the island and what the character may experience. There is a very important scene in the book where her boss comes to the island to search for her and notes to close proximity to Hart Island, New York City’s ‘Potters Field’.
He comes searching for the truth about his unusual employee and finds out too much. I will just leave this as a spoiler as I have not finished the last chapter of the book yet. You can read the first book in my New York City trilogy, “Firehouse 101” that is available at IUniverse.com and Google Books.
My first book in the New York Trilogy “Firehouse 101”
On top of research for my book, “Dinner at Midnight”, I wanted to visit the City Island Nautical Museum for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” as I had not been to the museum since I visited the island again in 2008. That was when I stayed at La Refuge, an inn that is now a private home. To add to the creepiness of the storyline, is that when I stayed at the inn for two nights, the first night in the first room there was no problem.
The former “La Refuge Inn” is now a private home and I think is haunted
When for some reason the second night they made me move to a back room, I could not sleep all night. I kept thinking that someone was in the room with me, and I finally had to sleep with the lights on. I never stayed or came back to the inn before it closed a few years later. I never felt that way before staying in an inn or B & B, and I have stayed in a lot of old houses.
Before I visited the museum, I had to stop for something to eat. I had a very early breakfast wanting to get to City Island early so I got hungry again. I was surprised that the pizzeria around the corner from the museum was closed and the diner near the museum was closing soon as well. I found the Sea Breeze Deli at 325 City Island Avenue just down the road from the museum and stopped there.
The Sea Breeze Deli at 325 City Island Avenue
I felt like I had walked into time warp as the place looked like it was from the 1970’s. Even thought it was a bit dated inside, I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a roll ($4.00) and it was terrific (See review on TripAdvisor) and hit the spot where I was ready for a long day of exploring.
The Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a roll is terrific at Sea Breeze Deli
The City Island Nautical Museum located at 190 Fordham Street, had not changed much from that visit. The museum is located on a quiet, residential street just off the main strip of City Island Avenue. It is located in what was the old PS 17, the island’s elementary school. Loaded with information but a bit jumbled with historic artifacts all over the place. Still, it is a great little museum.
The City Island Nautical Museum at 190 Fordham Street
Each room in the museum has a different theme to it with more information lining the hallways (See my review on VisitingaMuseum.com). The Community Room toward the back of the museum shows the history of the City Island starting with the Native Americans and the Dutch and how the settlement grew. Lining the walls were signs and memorabilia from businesses that once dotted the island and a little about their history. There are all sorts of ads and items once carried by the merchants.
The Schoolroom had the history of PS 75 and PS 175 which were the public schools located on the island as well as St. Mary’s, the recently closed Catholic school. It had old class photos, pictures of the school at various times and a complete schoolroom set up. The rooms that dealt with Ship Building and the Nautical past were the most interesting.
City Island has a rich history in ship building, sail making and fishing it is reflected in the collection of materials in the museum and its archives. The museum really details the growth and history of the boating industry on the island and its importance in the local economy. What I found interesting was the rich history of the creation of the sailing ships for the America’s Cup tournament and how all the winning boats up until the 1980’s were built on the island and the one that lost the cup for us against Australia was the first one not built on the island.
The Nautical Room at the City Island Maritime Museum
Even Ted Turner’s boat “Courageous” was built on the island. There was a picture of the reunion of the boat winning twice at the museum with the crew’s signatures (The tour guide even said how he ‘freaked out’ members of the New York Yacht Club who did not consider him one of their own). All the sailing vessels lined the walls of the hallway of the museum.
Each room of the museum was dedicated to a different theme. When I toured the Community Room in the back of the museum, it held the records of a lot of old businesses of City Island with pictures and items that were once part of the businesses. There was a small FDNY display, a small WWII display about local residents who fought in the war, wedding garments, maps of the island and a small display of arrowheads.
In the School Room, the concentration was on PS 17, which the museum is now housed in and its history with all the classroom group shot pictures, graduation pictures and a small classroom set up. There were more records and event items of the current PS 175, which is the K-8 school that the residents attend. There were also records and pictures of St. Mary, Star of the Sea School, the former Catholic school that used to be on the island as well.
The Nautical Room needed an overall as there was too much going on in the room with pictures all over the walls, equipment for navigation and for fishing and records of the ship building companies that used to dot the island. There were boats in various shapes and sizes on display and the companies that built them like Wood Yacht, Nevins Yacht and Minneford Yacht. There was also the history of shipbuilding and sail making on the island. The tour guide told me there were no more ship builders on the island, but one sail maker left.
The Library where all the research is done on the island and on the families and businesses that were once here was dominated by yachting pictures and nautical photography. It held all the City Island records and even the ship building plans.
The museum has a lot to see but it needs to be a bit more organized to really showcase the collections properly. Still, it is one of the best museums I have seen with a nautical history theme. The best part is that you can see the whole museum in about an hour and this leaves you time to tour the island and see how the museum better explains why the island is the way it is right now.
After I left the museum, I decided to tour the whole island and started with a tour down Fordham Street which lead me to the new apartment complex and their little walled park. It went in a spiral pattern and then I turned myself around back to the street and stood and admired the views. You get the most spectacular views on the Long Island Sound and the mysterious Hart Island from here.
I then took a tour of King Street and passed the beautiful but eerie Pelham Cemetery. It just sat in front of the beautiful backdrop of the bay still giving you a look of longing. I wanted to walk through it but the cemetery was locked and there was no trespassing signs all over the place. I just admired it from the gate looking for family names.
As I walked up both King and Minnieford Streets, I admired the hodge-podge of architecture of the homes on the island. There are rows of bungalows and elegant Victorians with their large porches and shade trees again with the bay in the background in some cases.
As I rounded up Terrace Street and got to the northern tip of the island, I saw the house that I used in the book as the home of the mysterious and sinister Serena Platt, the spell bounder in my novel. I set her apartment in this house and thought it had the right mood as a place that would be here home. I saw a couple of kids playing basketball on the property and did not want to stay too long to stare at it.
As I walked back down King and Minnieford Streets, I saw another Victorian home with a dark colored paint job that might fit the mood of her home as well. I had not noticed this house when I was walking around the island years earlier on a scouting trip. With its dark tones and wrap around porch, it looked like something you would find in New England or Salem, MA.
As I made my way down Cross Street back to City Island Avenue, I wanted to walk the whole street to see what stores and restaurants were there from I visited last. Most of the seafood restaurants were still there but the smaller antique and clothing stores were now gone. Many of the little unique stores had long since closed someone told me at a store I visited. Between the economy and the pandemic, they had taken their toll on business owners.
That may have been with the traditional businesses but not with the restaurants. As I walked down City Island Avenue from north to south, it seemed that every restaurant was getting a crowd especially as I walked further down the road.
Sammy’s Fish Box at 41 City Island Avenue seemed to dominate the street with its various outlets. They have really grown even more since I on the island the last time. They must have had four different buildings. I could not remember if I had eaten there the last time I visited. At the tip of the island are Johnny’s Reef and Tony’s Pier, two extremely popular seafood restaurants that I do remember eating at then I visited years ago.
When I walked into Tony’s Pier at 1 City Island Avenue, the parking lot was jammed with cars and the line was about 50 deep with customers. I was like ‘no way’ with this wait. It was too long, and everyone was getting antsy in the line. It was going by really slow.
Then I walked over to Johnny’s Reef at 2 City Island Avenue which I had dinner at the first night I visited the last time I came to City Island and the prices had gone up, but the portion sizes were still huge. The fried shrimp platters had not changed one bit. The only problem was the place was just as busy as across the street. It was really mobbed on this sunny warm night.
The sight of people eating all that fried food really turned me off, so I decided to try a restaurant that had been reviewed on my Dining Around club. They said the Fella’s Bar and Grill was where locals ate and socialized, so I decided to try it. It was closer to the middle point of the island near Bridge Park closer to the northern tip of the island. I was very impressed.
The bartender greeted me very warmly and gave me a lot of recommendations for dinner. She mentioned the Chicken Quesadilla and how terrific of it and that the burgers were really good. Then she mentioned how good the pulled pork was and that she had just tasted it. She sold me on that.
The Pulled Pork sandwich with a side of French Fries was excellent. The pork was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was a combination of honey, chilis and tomato for a rich barbecue taste. It was served on a chewy bun with a side of fries that were just out of the fryer (I needed some fried foods), and they were hot and crisp that snapped when you bit into them. I ordered an icy Coke, and it was the perfect meal after a long walk around the island (See my review on TripAdvisor).
While I was eating, I got to talk with the bartender about what was going on the island and about the over-whelming crowds of the restaurants on the southern part of the island. She just laughed and told me that they were really popular with people who lived off the island. I told her I could not understand this as the food was so good here. Then I just watched the game on TV.
The Pulled Pork Sandwich and Fries was fantastic
After I finished my meal, I was walking up City Island Avenue and noticed the large number of cars entering the island over the bridge probably coming for dinner. I walked past the busy Sea Shore Restaurant at 591 City Island Avenue and saw the cars pile into their parking lot and people coming and going. Just past that was the calm of Bridge Park-Catherine Scott Promenade at 549 City Island Avenue. Talk about views of the bay!
The sun was just starting to set so there was a beautiful glow to the Long Island Sound, and you could see all the boats sailing by and people waterskiing around the harbor. In the distance, you could see the skyline of lower Manhattan. It has the most dazzling effect of seeing New York from this standpoint. It was like visiting Cape May and crossing the bridge to a small New England fishing village. City Island is the same way escaping to a beach community with a rich shipping and fishing history and showcasing its nautical past.
Bridge Park at 549 City Island Avenue on the northern tip of City Island
I had come to the island to search for a witch and why she chose to live here and found my answers in the beautiful homes, wonderful parks and spectacular views of the bay. City Island is unique New York neighborhood where you do not realize that you are still in New York City.
*Be on the lookout for “Dinner at Midnight” when it gets published in the future.
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
Park Terrace Deli has been one of my go to places to eat uptown for a few years. I came across the deli when I was walking “The Great Saunter”, the 32 mile walk around Manhattan and needed an additional breakfast for extra protein and carbs. They did not disappoint me.
Park Terrace Deli at 510 West 218th Street
I always order the same thing here, the Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a hero roll ($6.50) and it is one of the best in Manhattan. They scramble two fresh eggs and then tuck it into a soft chewy hero roll lined with American cheese. Then they top it with several pieces of crisp bacon. The combination of flavors is amazing, and the portion size is enough for breakfast…
The one thing I refuse to do on Father’s Day is to spend the day at the cemetery. I know that is some people’s idea of honoring one’s family members but it is not mine. I went on Friday and paid my respects to my father (whom this blog is dedicated to) and spent time remembering some of the good times we had in past. I dropped some cut flowers from our gardens (some of which he planted) and said a small prayer. Then I left.
My idea of honoring my father and spending Father’s Day with him is to do something that we would have shared together. We were always running around somewhere and exploring something new and doing something fun. That is how I wanted to honor him. By being active and giving him a toast at Sunday dinner.
I had gotten a pamphlet on the historical sites of Salem, Cumberland and Cape May Counties last summer when I was visiting Cape May County and the Jersey Shore for the NJ Firemen’s Convention that is every September (See blogs on Trips to Cape May for the NJ Firemen’s Convention and for the Christmas Holidays-the other historical sites are noted there):
The Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street in Cape May, NJ
I thought what might be a nice trip is to explore the southern part of New Jersey and spend some time learning about the history of this part of the state. There were so many sites to visit and they spread from Pennsville, NJ in Salem County to Cape May in Cape May County. There would be too much to try to see in two days plus I wanted to take a trip to see Woodstown, NJ, a small town that had an interesting looking historical downtown when I visited it two or three years ago.
I had seen almost all the sites in Cape May County (The Cape May Firemen’s Museum, the Cape May Historical Society/Colonial House, the Cape May Lighthouse, the Cape May Zoo, Cold Spring Village, WWII Tower, Sunset Beach, The Emil Physick Estate and the Wildwood Aviation Museum) with the exception of a few smaller places and figured that I could see them during my time at this year’s NJ Firemen’s Convention after the meetings were over at 1:00pm.
So I planned the remainder of those for September. There were a few small historical societies with very limited hours that I just could not drive to with enough time. This covers a lot of area and the roads are mostly one or two lane highways in this part of the state.
Trying to find a hotel room for one night during the college graduation season was trying at best. Most of the chain hotels like Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn and Fairfield Inn by the Turnpike which I expected to choose from had gotten horrible reviews online as dated and dirty so those were out. There were no Airbnb rooms anywhere in south Jersey and the only two B & B’s in the immediate area were both booked for the weekend.
I was ready to give up until I Googled small hotels in South New Jersey and I found The Inn at Salem Country Club at 91 Country Club Road, a small inn that was just south of Downtown Salem, which was my starting point for the tour that weekend. I called the innkeeper, Yvonne that afternoon and was surprised that the room that I wanted, The Meadow Room, was open for Saturday night and was listed as $125.00 a night. I immediately booked the room and planned the trip.
The one catch was they were hosting a graduation party at the inn and could I check in on Friday morning. That was perfect for me as I wanted to start my trip visiting Woodstown, NJ and walk around the downtown. So, finishing all my projects at home, off I went at 7:00am in the morning for my trip to South Jersey.
I had decided to get off the New Jersey Turnpike earlier and head down the local Route 45 and take it down to Woodstown and drive through farm country. It was such a spectacular sunny and clear morning that I decided to make a few stops along the way with enough time to check in.
My first stop was at Rosie’s Farm Market Stand at 317 Swedesboro Road in Mullica Hill, NJ. This small farm stand has everything you need for the perfect picnic or to bring to someone’s home for a party. There are all sorts of fruits, vegetables and snacks and beverages to choose from. It has that classic “Jersey Market” look even though it is now surrounded by development.
After I walked around Rosie’s looking for something I could not find in our own farmstands in Bergen County (same items), I headed down the road, turned the corner and headed south down Route 45. I drove through the cute little town of Mullica Hill. I did not have time to stop and explore the town but noted to come back this way so that I could walk around the downtown.
Then I continued the drive down Route 45 on my way to Woodstown and then onto Salem. Route 45 is one of the most picturesque roads that I had been on with its rolling farms and lush landscapes. Things were just beginning to grow, and you could see the fields of corn and plants with an occasional winery popping up here and there. It shows that crops are changing in New Jersey farmland. With all the TV and movies, you see about New Jersey, this is the part of the state that they never show. You can forget sometimes how rural the state really an hour from my house.
I reached Downtown Woodstown, NJ by 9:00am and stopped to look around. I had driven through Woodstown when I went to visit mom after the Firemen’s Convention and thought it a unique and interesting little town with all the Victorian architecture. I walked around the downtown businesses and walked around the neighborhood admiring the care families have renovated these old homes.
I walked through some of the businesses that opened early like the flower shop and independent bookstore. The owners were super friendly, and they were explaining their businesses to me. I thought that was very nice of them. Most of the restaurants with the exception of the diner were closed. It was nice to see all the beautiful homes and cultural sites so close to the downtown.
On the edge of Downtown Woodstown, I saw the Pilesgrove-Woodstown Historical Society that sits on the very edge of the business district. It was closed when I visited in June and September when I visited the area both times but in September is opened up on the promised Saturday and I toured the house with Trudy, who was one of the board members of the historical society and she gave me a personal almost two hour tour of the home.
The Samuel Dickeson House
The Mission of the Pilesgrove-Woodstown Historical Society:
To preserve and advance interest in and awareness of the history and heritage of the Borough of Woodstown and Pilesgrove Township by properly procuring, preserving and maintaining the art, artifacts and documents that relate to the cultural, archaeological, civil, literary, genealogical and ecclesiastical history of the local community. We welcome researchers and provide them with any available material.
On the site is the 1840’s one room schoolhouse that was moved from Eldridge’s Hill in the 1970’s and is open for touring during museum hours. The organization hosts quarterly presentations and participates with the Candlelight Tour on the first Friday of December.
Touring the house is a wonderful experience and I got an excellent tour from a member of the Board of Directors who took me on a full tour of the house and grounds. She explained that the volunteers take a lot of pride in the home, the displays and the artifacts and antiques that make up the décor of the house. The tour starts in the Library which is to the right of the entrance. This is where people can research their families and the towns’ histories. The house was originally owned by the Dickerson family and had changed hands many times over the years.
This display has the portrait of John Fenwick and the family tree
The collection of books and manuscripts is held in the library of the home. Patrons can do their research on their family trees and on the local towns here.
The Living Room:
The Living Room:
The Living Room:
The Living Room:
In June when I visited, I planned on coming back later that weekend, so my next stop was downtown Salem. Again you go from a downtown area to farmland again and it is so scenic along the highway with the large fields and watching cows’ feed. Here and there you see new construction but for the most part the area has not changed much since my initial visit six years ago.
The funny part of Downtown Salem is that it just jumps out at you when you cross the bridge. It goes from farmland to the small city of Salem. When you drive it, you start to see all the beautiful historical homes and architecture that reflex the city’s past. Most of the homes are either Victorian or Federalist in design but as you drive past City Hall and the government buildings, you see how run down the city really is now.
The last time I had been here was about four years ago on my way to see my mother and it is still rundown. If Salem was located in Bergen County, you could not touch these homes or any of these buildings for under a million dollars. People all over town assured me that this was not true here.
Downtown Salem, NJ by the Salem County Historical Society is the nicest section of the Downtown
I could not believe that the town still looked this bad when I drove through it to get to the inn which was located by the Delaware Bay. When you drove through the south side of the downtown, the further you got away from the downtown core, the better the neighborhoods got until you hit farmland and marshes closer to the bay. Off a very obscure road I found the Inn at the Salem Country Club at 91 Salem Country Club Road.
The Inn at the Salem Country Club at 91 Salem Country Club Road
I have to say that I was impressed by the entire stay at the Inn from the check in to the check out. My host, Yvonne, could not have been more welcoming and friendly and made the early morning check in easy. I got the key, got my luggage into the room, let her know that I would return after the party planned that evening was over and went on my way for the afternoon. It would an afternoon of a lot of running around. The one piece of advice she gave me was NOT to eat in Downtown Salem. She recommended either Pennsville or Woodstown for dinner that evening. I would discover later that evening what she was talking about.
The view from the porch of the hotel at breakfast time
After settling everything in at the Inn, I headed back up to Downtown Salem to my first three sites that I wanted to visit on the historical listing, The Friends Burial Ground and the Oak Trees, The Salem County Historical Society and the Salem Fire Museum plus I wanted to walk around the downtown area to see any progress in gentrification (there was none).
What surprised me was the Internet was wrong about all the hours and days. All the sites were supposed to be open by 9:00am and they were all open that day. The Salem Fire Museum which I had looked forward to seeing was not open that day, the Burial Ground’s gate was locked but I was able to walk in on the side of the cemetery and the Salem Historical Society did not open until noon. At this point it was 10:30am.
The Salem Fire Museum never seems to be open
Since the cemetery I could access by the side of an old house, I was able to spend the first part of the morning walking amongst the historic tombstone and graves of the ‘first families” of Salem, NJ. As I walked amongst the headstones of each row, I began to recognize the names of the families with the names of homes in the area and streets I had just traveled down in Salem.
Friends Burial Ground at West Broadway in Downtown Salem
The family names of Reeves, Thompson, Abbotts, Wister, Bacon, Griscom, Waddington, Sickler, Lippencott, Goodwin, Bullock, Woodnutt and Bassett were arranged by family plots and neatly buried in rows. Many families were buried by generation so that you could the transition from father to son and mother to daughter. It was sad to see so many children who passed before their parents.
The Salem Oak Cemetery in the Fall
The old Oak Tree that once dominated this cemetery fell in 2019 and all that was left of it was a stump where it once stood. Smaller offshoots of the tree that are now about 200 years old still line parts of the cemetery and hold their own natural elegance in its place.
The Salem Oak before it fell
I finished walking through the cemetery and walking through this part of the downtown (Downtown Salem is so impressive but totally falling apart), I still had an hour before the other museums opened. Having not eaten since 6:00am that morning, I needed another breakfast.
The family tombstones at the Salem Oak Cemetery
I stopped in the Salem Oak Diner at 113 West Broadway is a small diner across the street from the cemetery. I thought it looked a little dumpy from the outside, but it is the traditional diner experience when you go inside with the loud waitresses and the big menu.
The menu was reasonable, and the waitress was really nice. I ordered the French Toast and Scrambled eggs which was delicious. The eggs were scrambled in clarified butter and had that rich flavor to them. They gave me three big slices of French Toast which was loaded with Cinnamon and caramelized perfectly and served with plenty of butter and syrup. God, it hit the spot and I devoured the whole thing. I think the waitress was impressed on how fast I ate it.
After breakfast was over, I worked off the second breakfast walking this part of downtown. It was really quiet in the downtown area, and I could see why. There were no stores or other restaurants either open or there. So many store fronts in this downtown are empty which is so sad because not only is it a county seat but such a beautiful downtown.
My next stop was the Salem Fire Museum at 166 East Broadway, but it was still closed. I found out later that the museum was only open once a month on the first Saturday of the month. I confirmed this when I went to the Salem County Historical Society down the road, and they called for me. I guess for the next time.
My next stop when it opened at noon was the Salem County Historical Society at 83 Market Street which I had visited a few years before. This is such a wonderful historical society and one of the best I have ever seen. Their displays are so well put together and such interesting exhibitions. When I had visited it the first time, I have about a half hour to run around. I had plenty of time to visit on this trip.
The Salem County Historical Society at 83 Market Street
The Society is housed in two connecting homes with an interesting core of the house that was originally built in the early 1700’s. The Society has two floors of displays and an extensive library that people use in search of town and family history (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).
The dress Sarah Hancock Sinnickson wore to George Washington’s Inaugural Ball
What I found impressive about the Society is the extensive number of important artifacts that the museum houses. I took a highlights tour with one of the members and he really pointed out some interesting items to look at in the collection that was on display.
They have an impressive collection of Revolutionary War items including belt and shoe buckles and a ring with a lock of George Washington’s hair. They were several artifacts from the locally prominent Hancock family including the dress that Sarah Hancock Sinnickson wore to the ball of George Washington’s inauguration.
There was an exhibition of local ice cream companies including an early Bassett family display of the family that still runs their ice cream company out of Philadelphia.
Salem Historical Society Ice Cream display
There was an early cylinder phonograph of Edison’s that still had all the cylinders.
Edison Cylinder Phonograph was an interesting addition to the museum
Upstairs there was an interesting clock display where I learned the meaning of why the Roman numerals were created for the clocks the way they were (they wanted the four to be IIII instead of IV because it looked symmetrical).
“The Keeping Room” at the Salem County Historical Society
Downstairs I toured “The Keeping Room” which was the original section of the house from the early 1700’s. This is where all the cooking and work was done for the house as it was not just the heat source for the home but the light as well during the darkest months of winter. When I had been there at Christmas a few years earlier, this was decorated for the holidays with a tree and garland.
I am just impressed with the work that the Society did during the lockdown to make this such an interesting museum. They really put a lot of effort into the displays and explanations of the artifacts.
The Revolutionary War artifact room
For Halloween 2022, I returned to Salem for the Salem Historical Society’s Annual “Haunted Halloween Walk”. The ‘Annual Salem Walking Ghost Tour’ which tours the historic homes of the Salem Historic District and the church cemeteries of the downtown.
At each stop, we got to hear tales of the haunted houses of the district and the owners in the afterlife still are involved in their current owners lives.
We started the night with a concert at St. John’s Episcopal Church with organist Erik Meyer, who played music that we relate to Halloween.
St. John’s Episcopal Church on Market Street the day of the concert.
The concert highlights:
Traditional spooky music associated with Halloween
The “Tunes from the Crypt” concert was right before the walking tour.
The concert featured five musical numbers that are classic to all horror films. The music being played is what you might hear in a popular horror film or something to do with Halloween. It seemed a little strange to be in a church but the organist told us that a lot of churches are using this for a fundraiser.
Erik Meyer who was the organist at the concert before the walk
He dressed like a vampire which I thought was strange for a church. These concerts have brought people back to these churches and even the priest said that he had not seen crowds like this on Sundays. The church was packed that evening.
The inside of the St. John’s Episcopal Church for the concert
The beautiful stained glass windows the night of the concert
After the concert, we walked down the antique store where the tour started. We stopped at various parts of the historic district to tales of woes, travels and ghosts still haunting the homes they loved so much.
One of the decorated porches on the Haunted Walking Tour
The Historic District of Market Street
A resident of the house talking about his haunted home the night of the walking tour
No walking tour is complete with a trip to the cemetery
The cemetery during the day
The cemetery looks less creepy during the day
The walking tour really was interesting and residents talked about their experiences in their homes that they say are haunted. The tour was about an hour but is really worth the trip. It was interesting to see how Salem, NJ developed over the years. The tour takes place before Halloween every year and tickets do sell out fast. This was one of the highlights of the Halloween season.
In the summer of 2022, after I visited the three sites in town, I went down Route 49 to my next stop driving through the outskirts of Salem, the city. I could not believe how run down the homes were in the neighborhoods. Such beautiful Victorian and Federalist homes just rotting away. The whole city looks so sad.
Just when you think you have seen everything, you cross this one road, and you are out in the farming community again. Then its rows and rows of fields and farmhouses. Talk about extremes.
Just after the turnoff to the Hancock House Museum that I was going to visit next, I stopped at the historical site of the old Quinton’s Bridge. The bridge had held an important place in transportation of goods for the area and into Philadelphia. The patriots had to hold this bridge to cut off supplies to the British. As small as the creek is today, you did not have the modern transportation of today back in the late 1700’s so controlling this bridge was important. We lost many people, but we held the bridge (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).
Today it is just a modern bridge in an isolated place in the middle of nowhere. There is a small town just south of the bridge, but you have to use your imagination back to a time when this was the only road in the area and the major hub of transportation in a vibrant farming community.
Video on the Battle of Quinton’s Bridge
I doubled back down a few country roads and visited the Hancock House at 3 Front Street in the small community of Hancocks Bridge. The town consists of a few roads of small turn of the century homes and surprisingly no businesses in what was once downtown.
The Hancock House used to sit on the busiest road in the area as it made its way through towns like Greenwich and Bridgeton. I assume before Route 49 was built; this was the only way to travel through this area as part of the home was a tavern for travelers.
The tavern part of the house faces the road and the home itself is across the street from the old Hancock Bridge. This once vibrant home and farm was an important part of the Revolutionary War history as the family played a big role in business and politics in the area.
The house itself needs a lot of work. The State of New Jersey runs the park and it needs a good painting and plastering. It also needs someone to come in and work with the decor and displays. There are some rooms that have period pieces and the furniture matches what would have been in the house but some of the rooms are barely furnished.
There are no family heirlooms in the house and the tour could have been a little more interesting as the state tour guide could not answer my questions. When another couple came in to take the tour, I took a guidebook and walked the grounds myself. I learned more about the family this way.
The Hancock House at 3 Front Street in Hancocks Bridge, NJ
I walked the grounds of the house and could see why this road was so important. Like any other area of the state, when a new highway is built, the old one and what was located on it become part of the past.
Halloween events at the Hancock House in October 2022
Outside the tourists and the people that live in the town, I am sure that no one ventures here. There was not even a restaurant in the area to eat at in town.
The Halloween Pumpkin Patch at the Hancock House at Halloween
After visiting the Hancock House, I took the small country backroads that were once a major part of transportation in the area down to Greenwich, NJ, a small town south to visit their treasure trove of historical sites and homes. There were a lot of twists and turns down these quiet roads before you get to Greenwich, a town of an interesting mix of historical homes.
I took my chances to see if the Nicholas Gibbon House would be open and I lucked out in that it had just reopened for tours that month (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). There was just myself and the tour guide, so I got a personalized tour of this statuesque home. Not only did Nicolas Gibbon and his wife live here but after them members of the Wood family moved in and were the family that founded the WaWa chain of stores.
Nicholas Gibbon moved to the area in 1730 when he inherited some 300 acres of land in the area and built his house here. According to the tour guide, he stayed until 1760 when he was trying to get a church built here and the local Quakers discouraged it. He and his wife moved from the area and the Wood family moved in and stayed in the house until the 1920’s.
Each room in the home is beautifully decorated with period pieces including portraits of Nicolas Gibbon’s nephew and his wife and silver from the Hershey family. The downstairs kitchen with the hearth and cooking materials was very interesting. Upstairs there is a “Everything Room” with clothing, hats, shoes, Civil War weapons and quilts. I took my time to tour the house and then the grounds before the home closed for the day. I was next off to the Greenwich Tea Burning Monument down the road.
Greenwich Tea Burning Monument at Ye Greate Street and Market Lane
The Greenwich Tea Burning Monument was fascinating in that I never knew this existed or even happened. About a year after the Boston Tea Party, a small handful of citizens, including a future Governor of New Jersey from Greenwich burned a shipment of tea that was being stored in the town. I had come to find out that there were five instances of this radicalism on the East Coast.
The dignified sculpture was dedicated in 1908 in honor of this heroic act before the start of the Revolutionary War. I took my time to study what happened and never realized what New Jersey’s role was in trade before the war. I opened the small gate and paid my respects to these brave men who risked a lot to protest the “Tea Tax”.
Just down the road from the monument is the Museum of Prehistory at 1461 Bridgeton Road, which I had a small amount of time to visit before it closed for the evening. This little museum was a real surprise because it was not even on my list of places to visit.
I just made it to the Museum of Prehistorical History after visiting the Nicolas Gibbon House. This small but unique museum is housed in one big room of the building and each section has a different artifact featured.
The was an extensive display of Lenape and Native American artifacts in one case line showing off the collection of arrowheads, spear tips and fishing and stone cooking equipment. There was a collection of fossils of fish, bone and plants and a selection of pottery. There were even fossils of dinosaur eggs.
The gentleman working there that day let me stay extra before closing and was a student studying paleontology, so he was able to give me an explanation on the specimens. From what he was telling me that the museum was looking for more space and may be moving in the future.
The Old Presbyterian Church and Cemetery at 54 West Avenue South in Bridgeton, NJ
Visiting the Old Presbyterian Church and Cemetery was an interesting experience. Trying to get from Greenwich to Bridgeton should have been a straight run but there were no names on the signs, and you just had to figure it out. I found the right road and it led me right to the cemetery.
The Presbyterian Church is only used now for special occasions and events but is an elegant building that sits on top of a bluff overlooking the downtown area. During the daylight hours you are allowed to roam around the cemetery looking at the gravesites (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). So many famous politicians, war heroes, founding fathers of the City of Bridgeton and entrepreneurs at the turn of the last century are buried here.
What I found interesting about the cemetery was the family plots with the generations of people buried next to one another and their stories. It was sad when the parents buried their children and then died a few years later. Trying to figure the narrative of these families can be heartbreaking.
The really sad part of such a historic cemetery is that it is so overgrown. I was walking through in some parts a foot of weeds. I know that taking care of a cemetery this size must be hard, but I would think there would be more care of the dead considering this is a destination for historians.
When I finished touring the church grounds, I took a tour of the Bridgeton Historical Downtown. It was such a waste to see a bunch of old buildings falling apart and most of the businesses closed or small run-down businesses located in them. A block away was a more modern downtown with newer buildings. The shopping district caters to the very large Hispanic population that lives here and is great if you are looking for provisions for a picnic.
After I left Bridgeton, it was almost 6:00pm and I headed back up Route 49 to head back to Salem. I was trying to figure out where to go for dinner and taking the advice of the Inn, I planned on heading back up Route 45 to Woodstown to find a place.
On the ride back up the highway, I passed Hudock’s Frozen Custard stand and saw all the people outside enjoying hot dogs and ice cream and I had to stop. It was so classic Jersey that I had to see what it was all about and trust me, it is worth the stop. Their food is delicious and extremely reasonable.
I just wanted a snack to tide me over as I was traveling around and had no lunch. So, I ordered a foot long hot dog and a Coke. Trust me, when they said foot long, they meant it. The hot dog was really big, split down the middle and grilled and they topped it with mustard and relish. It was out of this world and just what I needed after a long day.
At Hudock’s Custard Stand, a foot long hot dog is A FOOT LONG!
I took my hot dog and Coke and sat outside with all the families enjoying their meals and just sat and watched the field sway by and enjoyed the sunshine. Talk about a perfect early evening treat. The hot dog was perfectly grilled and crisp when I bit into it.
When I went back again in September, the weather was just as nice, and I stopped again for lunch on my way to Pennsville to visit Church Landing Farm. This time I had a hamburger and French Fries with a Coke ($8.55). That hit the spot after a long day of driving. The burger was cooked fresh for me, and the fries just came out of the fryer and still sizzled. I just sat at one of the picnic benches and relaxed under the shade of a tree.
Relaxing and eating your lunch under the trees on the picnic tables at Hudock’s is wonderful!
It was nice watching the few cars drive by and admiring the farm that surrounded the hot dog stand. The restaurant is the perfect outdoor restaurant to just relax and watch the world go by. It takes you back to a time when you just stopped, ate and enjoyed the view.
The views of the farm across the street
Later that afternoon, I stopped back at the Custard stand they have and had two scoops of their homemade Peach Ice Cream. For $3.85, I thought that was very fair. You got two very large scoops of ice cream in a paper cup made with homemade peaches that were still in season. Yum! Hurry quick because Hudock’s closes the first week of October for the season.
The ice cream stand part of Hudock’s is a real treat. Don’t miss their homemade ice creams!
It was nice to just relax and watch the other people having such a nice time talking and eating. For a moment I felt like it was 1975 again and I was a teenager. This is how nostalgic the place makes you feel. When you see a free showing of “Jaws” coming soon I felt like I was stepping back in time. It was nice to just sit for an hour and just relax.
I agreed with the Innkeeper when I got back into Salem a little after 7:00pm. It was still sunny and bright but the crowds outside both the only Chinese take-out place and pizzeria in downtown Salem looked pretty shady so off I went back up Route 45 to Woodstown and decided on Papa Luigi’s at 39 North Main Street for dinner.
I was surprised on how both the restaurant and the downtown were so quiet that night. I know it was Father’s Day weekend, but it was not like a major holiday, and I would have thought people would have been out and about.
Papa Luigi’s at 39 North Main Street in Woodstown, NJ
I was the only one eating at the restaurant that evening and the waitress could not have been nicer. It was the two of us and the delivery person and one other person outside the two cooks that evening. I ordered a Cheesesteak with Cheese Wiz and one of the best I have had outside of Philly. They really loaded in the meat for me, and the Wiz is the best way of topping it. I just sat there reviewing my notes of the day and planning the next morning starting with my first lighthouse visit.
Papa Luigi’s makes an excellent cheesesteak with Wiz
As I was driving back from Woodstown to Salem at 8:30pm, the sun started to go down and I wanted to see it before it totally set on the Delaware Bay. What was breathtaking was as I drove down Route 45, I could see the sun starting its descent over the fields of corn and wheat and the sunshine against the farmhouses. I made it back into Salem and then driving south to the bay area, I got the last glimpses of the sun as the party was cleaning up.
I stood on the lawn of the Inn watching the last of the sun peek under the horizon of the Delaware and the dazzling colors that it made. The sun fully set around 9:00pm (God, I love the Summer Solstice time) and watched as the stars started to come out. What a view! With all the craziness in the world and all the radical strife, this is what should get people to think about how Mother Nature can still surprise us with her magic.
The dazzling Delaware Bay view from the Inn’s lawn
I did not stay up too long after that driving so much during the day and slept soundly all night. I could not believe it the next morning when I had slept over eight hours which I never do. I was showered, shaved and up and adman by 9:00am and got packed and ready for breakfast. That was another wonderful part of the stay.
After I was packed up, I stopped downstairs for breakfast. Since there are no cooking facilities on the property and events are catered, they ordered in breakfast for me from the Diamond Grill at 534 Salem Quinton Road, a diner located down the highway from Salem. The order came in pretty quickly and I ate on the patio of the Inn overlooking the bay. Since there were only three rooms at the Inn and everyone else was gone, I had the patio to myself that morning.
I just had a simple breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit with some orange juice (Yvonne lets you order what you wish off the menu provided in your room the night before) and had the table set up for me on the corner of the patio. The food was delicious, and the pancakes were large and had that nice, malted flavor.
While I ate, I got to watch the boats pass by and birds sway over the bay. I did not leave until the check-out time of 11:00am because it was so relaxing to enjoy breakfast and not have to rush anywhere.
My first stop the second morning was a trip down both Route 49 to Route 41 for my first stop, The East Point Lighthouse in Heislerville, NJ at the edge of Cumberland County. The lighthouse was located on the westernmost part of the natural preserve on the shoreline. Getting to it took a lot of twists and turns down the road but at the end of the road it offered the most amazing views of the ocean.
This little lighthouse is one of the best I have seen in a long time. There is so much care put into this historical site. When I parked at the end of the street, I noticed on all sides of the lighthouse were barriers protecting it on all sides from the advancing bay.
After you buy your tickets at the Gift Shop, you walk along the dunes that protect the lighthouse that are nicely landscaped with sea grass, tiger lily’s and black-eyed Susan’s. The gardens are really beautiful at the beginning of the summer. It is a short walk to the lighthouse from here.
The lighthouse itself is nicely furnished with period furniture and antiques and each room reflects what the family’s role was in the lighthouse function. There was a lighthouse keepers office, a complete kitchen with pot belly stove and a living room on the first floor
The second floor is the bedrooms where you can see where the family slept, and the children conducted themselves with their own social life. The rooms contained a lot of period furniture and clothing, and the children’s bedroom was loaded with all sorts of toys from different eras. There was even a handmade dollhouse with homemade furniture that decorated it and a picture of the man who made it.
In real life, no child would have this many toys in this era, but the tour guide explained to me that after they finished renovating the lighthouse, they put out the word for donations for furnishings for the lighthouse. They were over-whelmed with donations. People must have been downsizing their family heirlooms.
Each room in the lighthouse was nicely decorated and reflected the times. On the top floors were the functions of the lighthouse and an explanation of how the lighting worked. This is still a functioning lighthouse so educational to see how it worked and how it functioned today. The tour guides are really good at explaining how everything worked.
After the tour of the lighthouse and walking the grounds (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), I left as the site was getting busier and headed up the highway to Mauricetown (pronounced “Morristown” like its northern counterpart) and headed up to visit the Mauricetown Historical Society.
The Mauricetown Historical Society like many of the spots on the historical listing is only open for a few hours twice a month so you have to plan your trip here accordingly. Make sure to take the hour-long tour as they cover not just the history of the house but how it was furnished, decorated and the story of the people who lived here. It really makes the house come to life.
What is interesting about the town and the neighborhood is that it was an old fishing, shipping and trade village and all the homes on this side of town that faced the Maurice River were the Ship Captain’s so the homes are bigger and more elaborate than the ones further in town. Still after driving through the town, it is a picturesque and quaint looking town with rows of historical homes and colorful landscaping.
The Mauricetown Historical Society at 1229 Front Street
The tour of the Mauricetown Historical Society was very informative on the life of a sea captain and his family and the history of Mauricetown and its business functions for the area. This town was a big shipping area during and after the Revolutionary War and its location made it perfect for restocking and ship building. Sea Captains made their fortunes here and their homes reflected that affluence. This was the home of Captain Edward Compton.
When you enter the Mauricetown Historical Society, you are greeted into the parlor area of the home and a display of military items including uniforms, weapons, and equipment used for battle. They even had one of the earliest artifacts with a pair of sharpshooter glasses that had just been developed.
The Military display at the Mauricetown Historical Society
The living room had been redecorated to reflex the time after the Revolutionary War and its changes at the start of the Victorian era. Early wallpaper had been found underneath the paneling that had been placed on top and new one had been recreated to match the original. Period furnishings and instruments decorated the room.
The upstairs had bedrooms that were decorated to reflex the Victorian era with heavy furniture and a collection of quilts. Their collection of quilts was really interesting in that they had one they displayed with the names of the sea captains and their family members. Genealogists used the quilt so that families could trace their ancestors back to that time. They also had another quilt of all things found in nature.
There was a display to Captain Bacon, a local resident and his wife, Carolyn and their life together in town. There was another display of pictures of the town through the years and how it developed. There was a display of period clothing from the Victorian era to the 1920’s. I could see that even though it was a bit more formal, times have not changed that much.
They displayed the Oyster and Fishing Industry, and they had all sorts of equipment on display including the rakes and even had the bridge key for the old Maurice River Bridge to show how they turned the bridge to let the boats through. The last display was a wonderful collection of children’s toys and dolls (all of these homes have big displays of toys) and you could tell by the quality how lucky some of these children were because these playthings were not cheap even then.
In the backyard was a cookhouse that was kept separate from the house that was built in the 1880’s. A modern kitchen was not added until the 1940’s. Also in the backyard is the Abraham and Anna Hoy House, a small house that was considered an example of the average person’s home in the early 1800’s. Over the years it has been added to but the Society brought it back to its original early 1800’s design. You can see where the cooking facility was located and the loft sleeping space above it for the children of the house who used it in the cold months of the year.
The tour gave a very detailed explanation of life at that period and the tour guide gave a wonderful description of the time and life in the house. After the tour, I took time to explore the grounds around the house and of the surrounding neighborhood to admire the other old homes. It is an interesting town to explore.
On the first day of my trip in September, I stopped at the Dennisville Township Historical Society Old School House at 681 Petersburg Road in the town of Woodbine, NJ. This small one room schoolhouse is packed with all sorts of artifacts.
The Dennisville Township Historical Society Old School House at 681 Petersburg Road
There are displays on businesses that used to be in the area such as the Mason Basket Company, who used to make all the baskets for apples and peaches for the local farms, the local shingle factory that prided itself on making the shingles for Congress Hall in Philadelphia and the local cranberry blogs.
There are pictures of the historic Methodist Camp that was located here, a display on local Veterans and their artifacts, pictures of home management on the farm and in rural New Jersey, an antique pipe organ and pictures of the local renovation of the Ludlam family cemetery. There is a little bit of this and a little bit of that displayed at the museum and well organized in this former one room schoolhouse. The docents were also really nice.
The Museum of Cape May County at 504 North Route 9
The Museum of Cape May County changed their hours the week before and now it is only open on Wednesday and Friday afternoon, so I had to plan to visit it another time when I was in the area. I was a little bummed because it had nice grounds that I took a moment to walk. That is when I went back to the Cape May Zoo (see above) which was a madhouse that afternoon on a beautiful sunny day.
On my way back up Route 41, I debated stopping in Millville but there was no time if I wanted to get back to Pennsville to see the Church Landing Farm. I had tried twice to stop in to see the Potters Taven in Bridgeton but then double checked the guide and found out that it is only open on Sundays in July from 1:00pm-4:00pm so I will not be visiting it this summer, so I continued from Downtown Bridgeton to Pennsville.
Potters Taven at 49-51 West Broad Street in Bridgeton, NJ
Between the traffic and the distance and not being able to find the cross street, I did not get to the Pennsville Township Historical Society until ten minutes to 4:00pm and no one would answer the door. I knocked on both with four cars outside hoping that I would catch someone to give me a tour of the home but to no avail. I was able to see inside at some of the antique furnishings but that was it.
I was able to walk the grounds of the farm and it was spectacular. You really have to see the views of Delaware Bay and the fantastic views. The grounds have all the separate buildings on it that were closed as well but at least I got to view everything. For the next trip.
The Pennsville Township Historical Society-Church Landing Farm at 86 Church Landing Road
When I visited in September, I made it a priority to visit the museum and arranged my Sunday schedule so that the Church Landing Farm was my last stop on the way home. After lunch at Hudock’s, I made my way up Route 49 to the museum. What was nice was I was the only visitor at the time, so it was just me and the two docents touring the house and grounds.
What an interesting tour of the house and of the displays in the sheds that are on the property. The farmhouse was built by the Garrison family between 1840-1845 and was the home of lawyer and gentleman farmer, Donald Garrison. The house was lived in by generations of Garrisons until 1973 when the last living member of the family, Anna Locuson died. At this point, the house was in disarray.
In 1991, with the help of Atlantic City Electric, the Pennsville Township Historical Society was formed and has maintained the house since. The artifacts in the house are all donations and are of the period that the family lived in the house over the years with the exception of family portraits on the first floor. The upper floors are displays of a children’s room and the room of an adult. They also have a nice research library on town and family history.
On the grounds there is a series of sheds with different themes and displays to see. As they unlock each shed, they show you the magic of their artifacts. There is one shed with a Floating Fishing Cabin, one with artifacts from the fire and police departments and the military, another of high school memorabilia, another is a wash house and my favorite, one of the Pennsville Beach Park, a former amusement park that was located in the current park until 1969. It has all sorts of signs, rides and former parts of rides and attractions. These sheds were the highlight of the trip. Everything is so well maintained and displayed on the property.
I also walked the grounds again and admired the view of the Delaware Bay and the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It must have been something before all these things were built and it just had a view of the bay.
I needed to stop for a quick snack, and I noticed that on this Father’s Day Sunday not much was opened around the area. I came across Four Seasons Doughnuts, an old-fashioned doughnut shop on Route 49 and stopped in. I got the most delicious sugar topped jelly doughnut ($1.50) and devoured it quickly. The doughnut selection that time of the day was not as big, but it was enough to tide me over until dinner. I was ready to see my last site of the day.
Four Seasons Doughnuts at 275 North Broadway in Pennsville, NJ
In September, I doubled back to Hudock’s to the custard stand for ice cream. It was only fifteen minutes away from the site. I ordered some homemade peach ice cream and just relaxed on the picnic tables again. It was such a beautiful day, and I did not want to leave that spot. Looking at the farms was just so nice (see prices and pictures above).
Hudock’s for ice cream is so nostalgic
I got to Fort Mott State Park by 5:00pm and it was still bright and sunny outside. I love these long summer days when it is light out until 9:00pm. By the time I got to the Finn’s Point Lighthouse, the Visitors Center was closed but it looked like it had not been open. The stairs were overgrown, the sign on the door was dated 2019 and the fence around the lighthouse had a lock that looked rusty. So, I only got to admire it from a distance. It really is an interesting lighthouse as it slender and further away from the water than the other lighthouses that I had seen before. I read that you cannot walk in if it is too cold outside or too hot. I traveled further into the park.
Finn’s Point Lighthouse at Fort Mott and Lighthouse Road
Fort Mott State Park was a real treat. I never knew this place even existed. I had never heard of the fort before today. Fort Mott State Park is interesting in that it was designed after the Civil War facing the State of Delaware across the bay and was designed to protect Delaware Bay. Most of the construction happened after 1897 and gun emplacements were located the below concrete and earthen embankment.
There is also a fire tower, guard house, former warehouses and battery’s protecting the fort. By the end of WWI, the fort was considered obsolete and by 1943 was decommissioned. The State of New Jersey bought the land in 1947 and by 1951 it was opened as a park.
I was able to tour through the gun embankments and climb the stairs to see where the guns were once based on. The views were amazing of the bay, and it was a clear shot if boats tried to come into the bay. I passed the fire tower that was closed for tours that day and I visited what was the Ordnance Warehouse which is now the gift shop and a small museum of artifacts from the old fort. This includes equipment, pictures and photos of when the fort was in service. This part of the park should not be missed as it is fascinating to see how the fort was run and its role during the war.
The best part of the park is to just stroll along the long grass lawn that leads to the views of the Delaware Bay. The views are spectacular and on a sunny day, it is just a please to look out at the bay and enjoy the views. There are also nice picnic grounds that were full of families enjoying the early evening of Father’s Day. I spent time here relaxing before my long trip home soaking up the sunshine.
After my trip to Fort Mott State Park, since the sun was still high in the sky and it would not get dark until almost 9:00pm, I decided to double back through Salem, go back up to Woodstown to have dinner and see the farmland one last time before leaving the area. It is such a scenic trip home and I wanted to see all of it one more time before leaving the area.
I stopped in Woodstown and walked around the downtown one last time. A lot was closed on Sunday, and I was surprised that more restaurants were not open. I decided on a quick slice of pizza at Gus’s Pizzeria at 14 Main Street. It was okay but I would not make a special trip to go there. There are other places to eat.
My last stop of the trip back up was stopping in Millica Hill, the quaint little town I first encountered when I got off Swedesboro Road to go down Route 45. I stopped and looked at all the old buildings and restaurants that they had. Most everything was closed for the day and only one restaurant was open and there was only one couple there. They also had a Historical Society in the downtown area that I noted for my next trip to the area.
As I finally got to the New Jersey Turnpike, the sun was setting in the distance. As I said before, it is so nice to have these long days to drive and explore. It was an eye-opening trip and I saw so many interesting places and got a better grasp of our state’s history and its place in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
I was an interesting and relaxing weekend and the best way to spend Father’s Day. It was a trip that my dad would have enjoyed.
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:
I have been to Lucky Larry’s Luncheonette, which is one town over from me, for both breakfast and lunch and I have to say that the food, service and atmosphere are very homey and down to earth. It is a real neighborhood spot, one of those places that the locals hang out to meet one another and catch up on town gossip.
The Lucky Larry’s logo
Blog under the old Lucky Larry’s:
It is more of a deli than a restaurant so there is limited seating but that does not stop the crowd of diners from eating and relaxing there. They will even bring your order to the…
I have never dodged so much construction before. There are so many streets that you cannot walk down, or you were crossing streets with traffic going to the Lincoln Tunnel buzzing at you. As I have mentioned in many of my blogs, walking through this part of the Hudson Yards/West Chelsea is not for the faint hearted.
If you do walk through this neighborhood, you will be surprised by all the beautiful shiny, new and innovative buildings that you will see, new parks developing, interesting street art and of course the Highline. They are a lot of things to see and do that is tucked in new buildings and the brand-new Hudson Yards mall. That itself is fun to explore. The problem with walking the streets is that the place is one giant construction site, or you are walking through “The Shops at Hudson Yards” to get from one side of the site to the other. This is definitely a neighborhood of the future that will not be finished for a while.
I started my walk after a long morning at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen where I have been volunteering now for almost twenty years (has it been that long?). I took almost two years off as the buffet concept is now gone and we are now packing 750 snack packs to go along with the takeout hot meals we serve. It has amazed me how we have gone from serving about 1300 meals a day to now over 2000 meals. The need has gotten bigger in New York City as it is still struggling from the pandemic.
Walking down West 33rd Street from Ninth to Twelve Avenues was the easiest part of the journey. This part of the Hudson Yards has been completed but there is still some work being done of buildings on both sides so watch the equipment and the construction workers walking around.
To one side of West 33rd is Bella Abzug Park, where there was a festival and food trucks and carts all around for workers and tourists. I walked through Bella Abzug Park, which was being partially renovated at the time and walked through the three sections from block to block. Part of the park is being renovated but the other parts look like they are ready to open in the warmer weather with cafes and seating. The park spreads over three blocks that are fully landscaped.
Bella Abzug Park with the Hudson Yards rising like Oz in the background during the summer months (NYCParks.org). The park was named after famous activist and politician Bella Abzug.
To other side is the entrance to “The Shops at Hudson Yards”, an upscale shopping mall with high end stores and restaurants. On the weekends, the mall is mobbed with tourists and locals enjoying the shopping experience and dining in the restaurants. During the week on a gloomy day, the place was practically empty with bored salespeople looking out the glass partitions of the stores. I never saw a mall so empty.
During the week when I was walking around the complex, there was a lot going on. On a sunny weekend afternoon, the Vessel Park area is packed with people taking pictures and milling around the mall but when it rains during the week, the area is like a ghost town. The Hudson Yards neighborhood is still developing and trying to find its identity. Once people really start moving into this neighborhood, it will start to develop its character and not just be a ‘tourist destination.
The Shops at the Hudson Yards (The Shops at Hudson Yards)
I walked all around the first floor of the mall and admired all the upscale stores in the area like Cartier, Tiffany and Louis Vuitton. The security is heavy at these stores with all the recent robberies of merchants like this all over the country. I have not seen as much of this to that scale since the riots in June of 2020. Still security watches everyone.
Walking back around the site, you will be dodging more construction and scaffolding then you are used to in a neighborhood but the results are all these gleaming new innovative looking buildings. It is nice to see so much interesting and unusual architecture in one spot. On a nice sunny afternoon, its nice to walk along the paths of flowers but on a rainy day it loses its appeal.
Walking down West 32nd Street poses many difficulties considering that it pretty much disappears after Seventh Avenue. Now you will walk through courtyards and buildings and pass stores and restaurants in the new Hudson Yards complex. Detouring off Ninth Avenue, you will walk through One Manhattan West building complex and the elaborate Citrovia complex
Between One Manhattan and Two Manhattan West in the Hudson Yards complex between 389 and 395 Ninth Avenue is the Citrovia display. I was trying to figure out if this was a company display or an artist’s display. There were all sorts of lemons all in the trees and in the gardens. During the summer, these must be an amazing place to sit but between the snow and the winds that sunny day, I just walked through the display.
The Citrovia display at One Manhattan West on Ninth Avenue (Manhattan West Website)
Citrovia is a fantastic outdoor interactive outdoor installation that transports the visitor to a sprawling citrus garden of whimsical displays, a sitting area with a lemon tree forest and I swear when you walk through the whole thing you can smell fresh lemon (Manhattan West website). It is almost like the ‘Land of Oz” or “Wonderland” with lemon trees and slices all over the place. It is a whimsical journey through the lemon display.
I walked through the Manhattan West complex, and it really dawned on me how the neighborhood has changed so much in the last decade. They took a run-down neighborhood and made it shine with modern buildings housing new tech companies and a series of restaurants, shops and hotels. It is a neighborhood onto itself.
Manhattan West complex (Manhattan West.com)
I walked through the complex as people were coming and going into the local Whole Foods that is located inside. I have to say that I am very impressed by this store. It is so nicely set up and the front section has a whole prepared food section with soups, salads and entrees and baked goods to the side. There are places to sit down both inside and out and on a nice day there is quite a few by the Highline.
Throughout the complex there are a series of expensive sit-down restaurants that were busy during lunch hour and there were tourists milling around taking pictures with the giant lemons. It was an interesting mix of people. You have to cut through the complex to get back The Shoppes at the Hudson Yards before you come out at the entrance of Hudson Boulevard where the Vessel is located and the gardens and benches that surround it.
I passed the Equinox Hotel at 33 Hudson Yards and was faced with the most colorful and creative mural that looked like it was expressing groups of people and the way they live. You really have to walk around the hotel to see the whole work, but the affect is amazing. I found out later this painting was American artist Elle Street Art called “HYxOffTheWall”.
Elle Street Art explains her mural at the Hudson Yards
She wanted to reflect the neighborhood and the diversity of the City. She really wanted to show the positive part of the heart of New York City.
Elle is a New York based Street/Graffiti artist known for her bold statements. She started out as an illegal graffiti artist and over time has built a reputation as one of the top touring street artists which has led to commercial works seen all over the world (Artist bio).
Next to the hotel in the same courtyard where the rest of the Hudson Yards surrounds is the impressive “Vessel” work, one of the cornerstone designs of the Hudson Yards and a signature building. It sits like an impressive statue in the middle of a group of skyscrapers.
The Vessel was designed by architect Thomas Heatherwick in a honeycomb like structure that consists of sixteen stories, a hundred and fifty-four flights of stairs, twenty-five hundred steps and eighty landings to stop at and observe the view. It is known as TKA (Temporarily Known As) for the structure’s name (Wiki). The structure was opened in 2016 and has recently closed for viewing because of visitor issues.
I walked around the complex to admire the structure and look at its beauty. It has such unusual look to it almost like a puzzle that is opening up to the sky. It looks like it shot up from the ground which is what makes it so unique.
Architect Thomas Heatherwick describing “The Vessel”
When returning to Ninth Avenue and walking back down West 31st Street, you pass all these complexes again from the outside. You have to walk around the complex again, walking down West 30th Street to Eleventh Avenue where the West Side Yard is located with trains awaiting their next trip. The yard spreads from Eleventh to Twelve Avenues and trust me, when you walk along Twelve Avenue all you will see is parking lots and fencing protecting the yards. Not the most exciting site.
West 30th Street offers it share of challenges being the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. You can’t just walk down this street without being hit by a car. I dodged everything from cars to bicycles to buses making a dash down the street. The right side is all construction and parked cars and the tunnel itself and PLEASE don’t attempt to walk down this street.
As you pass under all the scaffolding of the post office between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, there is an interesting plaque that could be easily missed as marking the spot of the Hudson River Railroad Station where President Lincoln left as the first passenger on his way to his inauguration. He left here in his funeral train four years later back to Springfield, Illinois. I thought it interesting but spooky at the same time. Life offers such strange situations.
The Hudson River Railroad Plaque
I think this plaque is almost symbolic to how dangerous this section of the neighborhood is with it dangerous streets and comings and goings. This changes though as you come to Tenth Avenue.
Under the underpass, you will a well landscaped garden that leads to the entrance of the Highline Park walkway. This beautiful path leads under the overpass to West 29th Street is lined with colorful flowers and bushes. It is a nice place to take a break from all the craziness of construction and traffic.
As I walked into the Hudson Yards complex again, I stopped through “The Shed” building to see what was inside. It looked like an interesting present that had been wrapped from the outside. Inside was a small restaurant and a bookstore.
The security guard gave me a strange look as I asked for directions to get to the other side, and I walked up a staircase to the other side of the building. This lead back to the Hudson Yards courtyard with the Vessel in front of me. Right now, there was not much inside, but this will become a premier arts center in the future.
The building was designed by architects Diller Scofidio+Renfro and the Rockwell group. It is such an interesting piece of architecture with its unique and challenging design and its beauty as you walk around it. You would never know all this from what I saw in two hallways and a staircase. It will be thrilling to see a performance here.
Once you cross onto Eleventh Avenue again, you face the Westside Yards and a lot of fencing. I wonder if the complex is going to cover this up as well to build more buildings. It is amazing what is being built on top of railyards. It just goes to show in the ingenuity that can be created by a group of architects and engineers.
Walking back and down West 29th Street is an adventure into itself as you walk under the building that holds a branch of the post office and this place is always busy. You are dodging trucks leaving and security that is all over the place. There is a lot of action between Ninth and Tenth Avenues so again watch yourself as you are crossing the street.
On top of all the construction going on the street, there are a few small gems hidden in the corners that you have to admire. The little garden under overpass of the Highline is a painting by artist Kelsey Montague entitled “What lifts you” that is painted on the side of the building next to the Highline pathway. It is easier to view when you walk the Highline from above.
Kelsey Montague’s “What Lifts You” on the Highline is so spellbinding (Kelsey Montague website)
Her works are really uplifting and show the spirit of the City. She puts all sorts of symbols that are unique to New York City (artist video). I find the work to be whimsical and fun. It is hard to see has there was scaffolding in front of the work and had to visit the internet to find a full version of it.
Kelsey Montague is an American born artist known for interactive art and illustrations. She studied art in Florence and graduated from Richmond University in London with a degree in Art, Design & Media.
After admiring the art from the street, I decided to take the stairs up to the Highline and see it from the top. From what I could see, it looked like a fun piece of art and showed the artist’s personality of bringing people together.
I travelled down the Highline for a few blocks and then exited around West 23rd Street and decided I was hungry. It was getting later in the afternoon, and I was not sure what I was in the mood for lunch.
Tiring of pizza, I stopped at Lucky’s Famous Burgers at 264 West 23rd Street for lunch. The place was full of delivery guys who were talking amongst themselves in Spanish when I walked in and then they went quiet. I ordered from the front and sat near the TV.
I thought I was more in the mood for a snack and ordered the two-cheeseburger meal with fries and it was lunch for two people. Each cheeseburger was topped with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles and was the size of most places’ normal burgers. They give you a bag of fries that is almost a half-pound of freshly cooked fries and then I go for the constant refills of the delicious Boyland sodas.
The burgers here are so juicy (Lucky’s Famous Burgers)
After lunch, I decided to walk around the Hudson Yards one more time and soak up the architecture of this strange new land developing on the west side of Manhattan and take it all in. Once all the scaffolding is down and the buildings are all finished, this is going to be one special neighborhood that will take its place in the annals of unique Manhattan neighborhoods.
On another trip to revisit the neighborhood, I visited Stick to my Pot Potstickers at 224 West 35th Street for lunch. Don’t miss this little hole in the wall in the Garment District that caters to the garment workers as it does tourists. Their dumplings, scallion pancakes and spring rolls are all terrific. Don’t miss the Mochi cakes for dessert.
Don’t miss the dumplings that are freshly made in front of you at Stick to my Pot Potsticker at 224 West 35th Street
There will be more changes in the future.
Please read my other blogs on walking the Lower Part of the Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
Day Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight-Walking the Borders of the Lower Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
This was the first year that “The Great Saunter Walk”, the 32-mile perimeter walk around the entire island took place since 2019. Since I had done the walk twice on my own, actually doing more of the walk than was required. This year I wanted to make it official.
I officially finished “The Great Saunter Walk” in May of 2022
The problem was by the time I wanted to sign up for the walk, it was completely sold out. So, I was put on a waiting list. With a prediction of rain all day (and it did rain all day!), many people dropped out before the event occurred, so I got to sign up. On a very gloomy Saturday morning, I got to the Frances Tavern at 7:30am to register and start the walk by the entrance of the Staten Island ferry.
Rather than rewrite the whole day, I updated the blog that I have written over the last two years and added to it. I hope you all enjoy my journey around the most famous island on earth on the gloomiest and rainy day ever. I hope you enjoy the journey!
My story of my walk around Manhattan island:
“The Great Saunter Walk”:
July 15th Walk:
I wanted to complete the walk again in the Summer to look at if from another perspective and walked the island perimeter again on July 15th. It took another three and a half hours to do the walk. This is due to meal breaks and just exhaustion due to the heat.
Normally I walk “The Great Saunter” in June around the time of either Father’s Day or the Summer Solstice, so that I have plenty of light. The problem was I was so busy in June that I had to push it back to July and the biggest problem was the heat. In the morning when I started the walk, it was cool and in the high 70’s due to the clouds. When they broke around 10:00am, it started to get hotter and went to the mid 80’s. It would not have been so bad, but the humidity plays a role in the walk. When I did the official walk in May, it was so cold and wet we never stopped for a long break as we all just wanted to get it done and go home.
In the warmer months, I like to stop and relax at various parks like Jefferson Park in East Harlem or Carl Schulz Park on the Upper East Side and let my legs relax. The reason why we finished the walk in May quicker is because the businessman who I was walking with in the last leg of the walk around Stuyvesant Cove just wanted to finish as well so we never stopped.
There were a lot more people in the parks that day, so it made maneuvering a bit harder and, in some cases, like in Jefferson Park, people were all over one another. I have noticed one thing and it is not just in New York City, people’s courtesy has gone way down. People were riding their electric bikes and motorcycles in the paths of the park and on the sidewalks practically knocking people down. One very over-weight woman rode a moped through the main path of Jefferson Park chasing her dog and nearly ran over two little girls who had just finished swimming. That was something!
The nice part of the walk in July was the clear sunny day it had been and being able to enjoy the breezes and the sunshine. It is much nicer to do the walk on a pleasant day than in the rain.