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Day One Hundred & Sixteen: Walking the Streets of the lower Upper East Side June 3rd-August 10th, 2018

It took several weeks to cover the lower part of the Upper East Side. The weather has started to get hotter and now with the Summer here, you have to deal with more humidity. That’s why I like to discover where all the public bathrooms are located in the City. When you drink as much water as I do on these trips, it can become the most important part of the walk (outside the great restaurant find or interesting historic site). You need to know your priorities when you walk the City especially when the temperature hits in the mid 90’s.

Walking the Upper East Side has its extremes in housing and architecture as it moves east from Central Park to the river. Here and there are little ‘treasures’ of buildings and places of business that pop up from block to block. As the weather has gotten hotter and more humid, I have taken my time to really walk the streets of the neighborhood and explore it properly. That is why it has taken so long to finish. There are a lot of great things to see on the lower part of the Upper East Side.

My walk took me to East 59th Street starting at Grand Army Plaza at the statue of General Sherman, which is a big meeting and tourist site right off the edge of Midtown near the Plaza and Pierre Hotels. Many tourists meet their buses here and it is the southern entrance to the Central Park Zoo and then onto Central Park. On a hot day, many people were sitting on the benches in the shade.

The Statue of General Sherman was created by American and New York artist Augustus St. Gaudens in 1892 and finished it in 1903. He modeled the bust after the General who lived in New York City at that time after the Civil War. General Sherman distinguished himself during the Civil War with his army taking Atlanta and then marched to the Atlantic to cut off the South (Central Park Conservatory).

In 2015, the Northern part of the Grand Army Plaza was restored by the Central Park Conservatory which included cleaning the statue and applying a layer of gold leaf covered with wax on the outside. The rest of the plaza was landscaped with new trees and is now ADA accessible (Central Park Conservatory).

This gilded statue now serves as a welcome to the southern part of the park as well as a focal point to the plaza. It sits majestically almost guarding the park from intruders. The interesting part of its placement here is that the Sherman family wanted it placed here after they rejected Riverside Drive near Grant’s Tomb (See VistingaMuseum@Wordpress.com)(Central Park Conservatory).

East 59th Street is a busy part of the neighborhood with a bevy of upscale stores, restaurants and hotel plus a meeting point for buses loaded with tourists and the carriage trade around the park. Central Park is a huge draw to people sunning themselves on the lawns and going to the zoo, playgrounds and the carousel.

I love walking around this area looking at the luxury stores and walking around the Pierre and Plaza hotels, especially around the holidays. Unfortunately because of recent occurrences, the security at the hotels becomes a point of harassment where you can’t even walk around to look at the displays in public areas anymore.

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Pierre Hotel

Also, the economy and rent increases have hit this area just as hard as the rest of the City and even the upscale stores of Fifth, Madison and Park Avenues have moved to either less choicer areas or have taken root on Lexington or Third Avenues, making them now more expensive. The old brownstone homes and businesses that used to line the Avenues (See the Avenue walks of the Upper East Side on previous ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’ entries) have given way to modern office and apartment buildings with not as much character and space. They rent mostly to the chain stores that can afford it.

I started my first day after a long day in the Soup Kitchen. They put me on the busy Bread Station where we could barely keep up with demand. Sometimes I feel the homeless and the working poor are acting entitled, like the Bread Station is some sort of Starbucks and we should have exactly what they want to eat. When one guy came down hard on us one afternoon I kindly reminded him that the food here is donated and distribute out what we get. It’s not like we order the bread. It is very generously donated by Amy’s Bread and Rockland Bakery. That’s why I like walking around so much, it gets that irritation out of my system as I realize that it is not there fault.

After Soup Kitchen, I decided on eating a few snacks before I came uptown. Before I got to Soup Kitchen, I stopped at Shamas Deli, a tiny little hole in the wall deli at 150 West 38th Street (See review on TripAdvisor). I had passed this place a million times over the years and decided that I needed an bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. It was okay but for $3.25, I thought it was fair. Not the prettiest place but it serves its customers well.

After Soup Kitchen, I like to go to Fu Xing at 273 West 38th Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for cream and roast pork buns ($1.25) for a quick snack and then for lunch at Non Solo Piada at 302 West 37th Street for lunch. They specialize in Roman street food and make an egg, Italian sausage and cheese wrap called a Cassoni, which is almost like a calzone. Their prices are very reasonable (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com)and their selection of tiny pizzas and calzone like sandwiches are not just delicious but reasonable. These two restaurants cater to the Garment Industry crowd who look for a reasonable lunch and thank God, I found them as well. I highly recommend them.

Non Solo Piada

Non-Solo Piada

I walked up to East 59th Street via Fifth Avenue and even in the Herald Square area you can see that it is quickly gentrifying. All these old buildings that were once whole-sellers for the Garment Industry have made way for hotels and fancy condos.

Even Fifth Avenue changes from the New York Library on up. It used to be that from East 34th Street to East 59th Streets, there were all of these exclusive stores starting with B. Altman’s at Fifth and East 34th Street ending with the Pierre Hotel at East 60th Street. Now it looks like a cross between North Michigan Avenue in Chicago and the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus. The stores and restaurants are more moderate as well as there are many empty store fronts which you would not have seen pre-2008. Now prime upscale real estate sits empty.

Things are changing as you get to the Upper East Side border as well. The stores are still nice but not as exclusive as in the past. I still take a short cut through Bloomingdale’s at 1000 Third Avenue at East 59th Street. It is fun to look at the displays or have lunch at Flip, on the bottom level or 40 Carrots for frozen yogurt (See reviews on TripAdvisor). When the humidity starts, this is where I like to go to cool off and they have nice bathrooms on the bottom level and on the Forth Floor.

Bloomingdale’s has some great restaurants. I have been to Flip on the lower level of the Men’s Department twice for lunch when walking in the neighborhood. Their Heritage Burger and fries ($19.00) is delicious. The burger was perfectly cooked and topped with onions and cheese. The second time I ate there, I tried their Flip Signature Grilled Cheese, which was a combination of three cheeses, bacon, jalapenos peppers (which it could have done without) served with shoe string fries ($16.00). This was a nice combination of flavors and with the fried egg added it gave it a nice complexity of flavors. It would make a nice brunch item.

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Flip at Bloomingdales

I have written many times on 40 Carrots on Eighth Floor for their frozen yogurt and on a humid day, which there were many of during this part of the walk, it made going to the Eight floor of Bloomingdale’s well worth it (See all reviews on TripAdvisor).

As I walk past the store fronts and apartment buildings, I am greeted at the end of East 59th Street at Andrew Haswell Green Park by the Queensboro Bridge to look at the sculpture, the East River Roundabout by Alice Aycock again (See Walking the Avenues of the Upper East Side on ‘MywalkinManhattan.com). It is a nice place to just relax and watch the East River go by. There are nice seats to sit down and relax in.

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Andrew Haskell Park

Below the bridge, there is 24 Sycamores Park between East 61st and 60th Streets. It is a nice place on a hot day to sit under a tree and cool off. They also have nice bathrooms and a great water fountain with cool NYC tap water to fill the water bottles up with on a humid day. It is a very popular park for the neighborhood children and their babysitters so that means a lot of noise. It is a real family environment.

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Twenty-Four Syacmore Park

Since I was meeting a good friend later that evening for dinner and a stay in Long Island City, I decided to walk the length of the Queensboro Bridge to Long Island City neighborhood in Queens, NY. That was interesting. The walk over the bridge led me to downtown Long Island City but along the way I passed over Roosevelt Island, the projects that face the park in Long Island City and then into a very gentrifying Long Island City. I swear the entire neighborhood is being knocked down and rebuilt from ground up. All over the place there are apartment and office buildings.

I spent most of my time walking over the bridge dodging joggers and bicyclist while watching what I was seeing in front of me. What a view of the City! The Manhattan skyline is just breathtaking from the bridge and you get a perfect view of the Upper East Side. I am convinced it is better to live in Roosevelt Island than on the Manhattan itself just for the view. I still can’t believe they built projects with a view of the river and the Upper East Side skyline. That’s the progress of the 60’s.

When I got to the other side, I walked around the area to see a rapidly changing environment. Bike paths were all over the place and smaller buildings were giving way to what looks like another city. I was floored with all this progress and square footage in such a small period of time. Even the next morning when I walked around, I could not believe how much of the neighborhood was being leveled giving way to  Long Island City becoming almost a new city on its own. It seems to be happening overnight.

When I walked back over the bridge I walked directly back to the other side of East 59th Street and walked to the theater district to join my friend, Maricel and her friends for dinner at Viv Thai at 717 9th Avenue between West 48th and 49th Streets (See review on TripAdvisor). It is the most beautifully designed restaurant with interesting lighting and an enormous dragon to greet you at the door. The food here is excellent! We shared a Fried Calamari with sweet sauce that was perfectly cooked and I had the Pad Thai with chicken which was flavorful with a generous portion of chicken and noodles.

After a quick drink, Maricel and I went to the Fairfield Inn in Long Island City at 2927 40th Road (See review on TripAdvisor), right near where I had taken the walk at the Queensboro Bridge. I was so exhausted from all the walking over the bridge and the rest of the neighborhood, that I went out like a light as soon as I hit the pillow. So much for engaging in conversation.

The irony was that I had just explored the area just a few hours before. While Maricel slept in the next morning, I explored the area in more detail and the whole neighborhood it seems is being torn down and rebuilt as almost a second city. After the hotel’s buffet breakfast (pretty good), I checked out and took the bus home. Enough walking for those two days.

I resumed my walk around the Streets of the neighborhood two days later starting on East 60th Street and then I worked my way up through the neighborhood. There is a lot to see and do in these many blocks. The neighborhood is rapidly changing and in the short time since I have walked the Upper and Middle parts of the Upper East Side many businesses have closed their doors and the store front remains empty.

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The ever changing skyline of Long Island City

East 60th Street with its juxtaposed architecture offers a few gems amongst the newer construction. You just have to look up. When rounding 5th Avenue and East 60th Street take time to look at the architecture of the Metropolitan Club, one of the oldest and most exclusive private clubs in the city. The marble work on the club’s exterior has an elegant, polished look to it. The building was designed by Stanford White for the club which was founded in 1891 (Wiki).

Metroplitan Club

Metropolitan Club

Between Lexington and Third Avenues on East 60th Street, look to your left as you are approaching Third Avenue and you will see the original entrance to Bloomingdale’s Department Store. This entrance has been incorporated into the current store and notice the mansard roof which was part of the original design of the store when it was founded in the late 1880’s.

On the corner of Lexington Avenue and 60th Street, there is a small brownstone attached to a modern building. This was the home of an old woman who owned the last apartment in the building and had lived there for years. She was the reason why the building is still there as they had to build the current building around her. She was quoted as saying she would not move for any price as it gave her proximity to Bloomingdale’s. When she died when the current building was finished, the owners simply padlocked the brownstone and there is still stands as a symbol of corporate defiance.

On the corner of 2nd Avenue and 60th Street is Tony and Joe’s Pizza at 1097 First Avenue near East 60th Street (See review on TripAdvisor), an old line neighborhood establishment. I stopped in for a snack and had a slice of pizza and a coke ($4.95). The pizza is pretty good and the staff had their eyes glued to the soccer game that was on TV. It’s a nice place for lunch.

I took another break in the 24 Sycamore Trees Park and need a rest in the shade because of the heat. The humidity was really getting to me. The one thing I like about this park is that there is plenty of places to sit under the trees, they have decent public bathrooms that they keep clean and are open until 5:00pm and they have a great water fountain that spurts out cool, New York tap water which is great when filling your water bottle. Its just nice to relax here.

When making your way to East 61st Street, you will pass the decorative structure of the Queensboro Bridge, with all its geometric designs on the exterior. This is where you can enter the walkway to walk or bike to Long Island City. If you have a chance to do this, take in the beautiful views of the river and the Upper East Side skyline and at the end of the walkway, walk around Long Island City to see the creation of a new city from the ground up.

Queensboro Bridge

Queensboro Bridge

Right near the entrance to the Bridge is the Mount Vernon Hotel & Garden at 421 East 61st Street (See TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com), a much overlooked historic home/hotel built in 1799. The museum is run and owned by the Colonial Dames of America. This very overlooked historic building and museum was once the home to Abigail Adams Smith, the daughter of the President John Adams. There is a very interesting one hour tour ($8.00) of the museum.

The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum was a ‘day hotel’ which meant that City dwellers, mostly the growing middle class, would come up to the hotel for the day for lunch or tea and recreational pursuits. You would spend the afternoon in the formal parlors for games, music and readings. The tour takes you through all the rooms, dining rooms and kitchen. It is an interesting tour if you like historical buildings. Don’t miss the beautiful gardens in the back of the building (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com).

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Mount Vernon Hotel & Gardens

There is an interesting waterfall that lines the building on the corner of Third Avenue and East 61st Street. You tend to miss these public spaces if you are not looking at them. As you walk from Second Avenue to Park Avenue, you enter the Treadwell Farm Historic District.

The Treadwell Farm Historic District was founded in 1967, making it one of the oldest in the City. The district extends from Second to Third Avenues between East 61st to East 62nd Street. This had been once part of the Treadwell family farm which was bought by Adam Treadwell in 1815 from the Van Zandt and Beekman families, who had owned the land previously. In 1854, the family sold the land for development. This happened between 1868-1875 and the they were building Italianate row houses, some still standing today (Wiki).

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Treadwell Farm Historic District on the Upper West Side

You will notice that on the side streets from Third Avenue to Fifth Avenue and from East 59th Street to East 79th Street are part of the East Side Historic District which was founded in 1981. According to their Friends Group, it is one of the largest Historic Districts in New York City. This area cover a whole array of architectural types from the grand mansions near Fifth and Park Avenues to the limestone, brownstone and detailed apartment buildings that line block after block of the district (Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District).

When exploring and admiring these buildings in both historic districts, really look up to see the details to these homes. Here and there residents have added plantings and artwork to the fronts of their homes. The growth of vines up the walls and statuary really adds to the detail of these buildings.

When rounding East 62nd Street, I came across the beauty of 36 East 62nd Street with it’s gorgeous stone work, interesting keystones over the windows in the form of faces staring at the street and intricate iron work. This interesting building was designed in 1917 for the Links Club, a golfing club, by the firm of Cross & Cross for the club. The faces really do stare at you when you pass the building but remember to look up and take time to look at the details.

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36 East 62nd Street (Links Club)

Another historical building is the Cumberland House at 30 East 62nd Street on was once of the home of President Teddy Roosevelt as the plaque states on the building. This luxury apartment building offers many luxury features and stands guard in this historical neighborhood.

I stopped for lunch at the Ritz Diner at 1133 First Avenue #1 and the corner of East 62nd Street. The food was so-so. I was surprised for the reviews it has gotten online. I had one of their lunch specials ($12.95) for a bowl of Matzo Ball soup and a Gyro wrap sandwich. The soup was delicious, rich in flavor and the matzo ball was light as a feather. Their gyro wrap I would avoid. It was a large soggy mess with too much iceberg lettuce and tomatoes. The sauce in it made it even soggier than the cut tomatoes and the whole thing fell apart. I checked the reviews online and it seems that the restaurant does breakfast best.

As I rounded East 63rd Street, I finished for the day. Between the heat, the walking  and the afternoon at the Soup Kitchen, I had enough for the afternoon. This more time to explore the neighborhood with a fresh mind.

On my third day in the Upper East Side, I started my day with another long day putting my culinary skills together to work in the Prep Kitchen. We had loads of vegetables to prep for lunch for the next two days so we were all kept busy that afternoon. Surprisingly, I had the energy to walk up to East 63rd Street to continue the walk.

The first thing to check out is the Lowell Hotel at 28 East 63rd Street at Madison Avenue. This elegant little hotel is one of the ‘Leading Hotel’s of the World’ and whose architecture is elegant and inviting. The potted plants and well appointed doorman really give it that European looking touch.

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Lowell Hotel

Along the way while walking down East 63rd Street, look up and admire the buildings that line the area from Fifth Avenue to Lexington Avenue. The historic district offers all sorts of interesting townhouses to admire.

At the very end of East 63rd Street you will reach the bottom of Rockefeller University and the entrance to the ramp that leads to the walkway that lines the East River. Take time to walk up the ramp and walk up and down the riverwalk. The views of Roosevelt Island on a beautiful day are just breathtaking.

Rockeller University

Rockefeller University (you have to be checked in to get on campus)

At 101 East 63rd Street, you will see a modern slick brownstone looking glass building named ‘The Halston House’, which was once the home of the New York designer, Halston. Many of the designers legendary parties and get togethers of the Studio 54 crowd took place here according to local legend (Wiki).

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Halson House

Walking on East 64th Street was routine until you arrive at the edge of York Avenue and you start to peak into the Rockefeller University campus. Unlike the other blocks, it just seemed like a row of buildings and stores. This is when newer architecture shows its lack of character of the ‘brownstone blocks’.

Crossing over to East 65th Street, you will notice the historic signs of the twin Roosevelt Houses at 47-49 East 65th Street. This is the New York home of Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt and their children and Franklin’s mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt. The home was finished in 1908 and the President and Eleanor moved into #49 while Mrs. Roosevelt moved into the adjoining #47 house.

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Roosevelt House

The house was their city residence while Springwood in the Hudson River Valley served as their country estate. This is where Franklin started his political run and Eleanor got more involved in her own career in public life entertaining many famous political and foreign  visitors. The house remained in the family’s hands until the death of Sara Delano Roosevelt in 1941 and the house was bought by Hunter College where it is now part of the Public Policy Institute of Hunter College. There are tours of the house during the schools year on Saturdays.

As you head towards Fifth Avenue, you will find the Kosciuszko Foundation at 15 East 65th Street. The interesting part of this Foundation is that it was named in honor of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish general and patriot who migrated to the United States and fought in the Revolutionary War. The one time Polish American Scholarship Committee was established in 1923 to bring students to the United States. The building was designed by Harry Allan Jacobs for James J. Van Alen, who was a member of the Astor family (Wiki).

Kosciuszko Foundation

Kosciuszko Foundation Building

When rounding onto East 66th Street, there are many interesting stone townhouses that line both sides of the street. One of them being the home of artist Andy Warhol at 57 East 66th Street, where the artist lived with his mother from 1974 until his death in 1987. The Historical Landmark  Preservation Center erected the plaque in honor of the artist in 1998. It is the first memorial to the artist in New York City.

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Andy Warhol House

Toward Fifth Avenue at 6 East 66th Street is the home of the Lotus Club, one of the oldest Literary Clubs in the United States founded in 1870. The French Renaissance style building was built in 1900 by Richard Howland Hunt for the home of Maria Shepard, a granddaughter of William H. Vanderbilt. Notice all the detail work on the outside of the old mansion, which was going through a cleaning when I passed it.

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The Lotus Club building

At 3 East 66th Street, there is a plaque dedicated to President Ulysses S. Grant as the site of the house where the President wrote his memoirs. It has since been replaced by a stone apartment building. I stopped here for the day as I was pooped from this part of the walk of the neighborhood.

My last full trip of the neighborhood took me from the top portion of East 66th Street to the bottom of East 72nd Street. I had had a long day working the Bread Station at the Soup Kitchen and walked from West 27th Street to East 66th Street via Fifth Avenue so I got to see more of the City as planned.

I walked East 66th Street again and there is more interesting architecture to see along the street. At 45 East 66th Street, look up to see the detailed Gothic architecture and details toward the top of the building. You see more of this type of Gothic architecture at the Park Avenue Armory which stretches from Park Avenue to Lexington Avenue the former home of the Seventh Regiment of the National Guard and was designed by Charles W. Clinton, a former regiment member. It is now used for entertainment.

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Park Avenue Armory

There is a lot of beauty to the old carriage houses from 110-112 East 66th Street and  were probably the carriage houses and stables to the old Fifth Avenue mansions. These brick buildings  with their arched fronts and key stones have since been converted into private homes.

At 122-124 East 66th Street look up to admire the interesting iron grilling work with its almost southern looking accents at the top. The design is done in graceful ovals along the grill work. The building is home to the Cosmopolitan Club that was founded in 1909.

When rounding East 67th Street, stop at the New York Blood Center to visit their memorial to the victims of 9/11 just outside the building. The little metal footsteps by the wall are pretty touching and show that the tragedy is not forgotten in any part of New York City.

When walking further down the street, you will reach the twisted statue by artist Tony Cragg, Runner 2017, a creative twisted sculpture that sits on the Park Avenue island surrounded by flowers. Tony Cragg is from England and studied art at the Gloucestershire College of Art. He uses a combination of synthetic and natural elements to this art and it show in this twisted beauty of a sculpture that looks almost like a moving tornado.

His work is part of the NYC Parks ‘Art in the Parks Program’, bringing temporary contemporary art to the parks (NYC Parks.org).  Mr. Cragg’s works appear in five different locations on Park Avenue.

Tony Cragg Park Avenue statue

Tony Cragg Sculpture

Another interesting piece of sculpture is on Fifth Avenue and East 67th Street on the edge of Central Park. It is the statue of Seventh Regiment of New York 107th US Infantry’, whose building on Park Avenue I passed many times when criss-crossing the neighborhood. It was designed by member of the Regiment, sculpture Karl Illava in 1927. Mr. Illava it was said drew from his experience from serving in the field of the Regiment and used his own hands as the model for the ‘doughboys’ he depicted (NYC Parks.org). I find it fascinating how many times we pass these sculptures in Central Park without ever stopping to notice them.

Walking past the New York Police Department Precinct 19 and Fire Department of New York Ladder 16 and Engine 28 and admire the beauty of the buildings that they are housed in and the surprise of the buildings are that they are part of Hunter College.

Police Sergeant Nathaniel Bush, who was responsible for designing the force’s new station houses from 1862-1895, laid out the plans for the station. It was a four story Italian edifice of red brick with bluestone copings and Terra cotta trimmings and used the combined styles of Second Empire, Romanesque Revival, Neo-Grec and Renaissance Revival.

The FDNY building, which was designed in 1886 by architect Napoleon LeBrun, was originally the FDNY Department Headquarters until it moved down to Centre Street, now it just houses the companies. (Ladder 16 history). In 1980, the buildings were declared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark status (Daytonian New York)

In 1986, when Hunter College wanted to expand the college, there was an agreement to preserve the facade of both buildings and renovate them. A new building was built in the back and the facade’s of the front buildings were preserved to landmark status. The renovations were complete in 1992 with the Hunter portion separate from the civic buildings and the police station uses the the upper floors of the old fire station. These buildings were re-designed as a landmark in 1998 (Daytonian New York).

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Police District 19 Building

When walking back to the East River on East 67th Street, take a break in St. Catherine’s Park between East 67th and 68th Streets off First Avenue. It is nice place to take a break and sit down but by no means quiet especially in the summer months that I was walking the neighborhood. Children were running all over the park, chasing one another while parents and nannies traded stories on the benches and under the trees trying to escape the afternoon sun. It has a very nice playground and loads of benches to sit back and relax on.

The end of the block by York Avenue houses the hospitals of Sloan-Kettering and Cornell-Weill and this complex covers from First Avenue to FDR Drive from East 67th Street to East 71st Street. This is a busy area around York Street with ambulances and cars all over the place and security is high. The Cornell-Weill building still is something to see with its large cathedral looking exterior and gardens for guests to relax in the front. Don’t think of lingering as security is all over the place. The same goes for Rockefeller University at the end of York Avenue. You need a pass to go through the gates to walk on their landscaped campus.

As you turn the corner to East 68th Street, head back to the Hunter College campus between Park and Lexington Avenues and stop in the Karl & Bertha Leubsdorf Gallery at 132 East 68th Street (See TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com), one of several art galleries that are part of the Hunter College campus. There was a very interesting exhibition of West Coast LGBT art from the 70’s on display at this small but edgy gallery on the main campus. The best part is that the gallery is free to the public and the gallery takes less than an hour to view so its not over whelming.

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Hunter College Gallery

If you are hungry, there are all sorts of food trucks parked outside the main entrance to the building of Hunter College. Their selection of all sorts of foods cater to the student palate and include hot dogs, Halal foods, hamburgers and fries. All of this for under $10.00.

As you head back to Central Park between Park And Fifth Avenues, you will notice that this area is under all sorts of scaffolding and there is a lot of renovation work on the buildings going on here.  A lot of the stone work is being sandblasted back to its original beauty and the homes are getting gutted for present or new owners.

Heading back to Fifth Avenue admire the almost confection of a marble townhouse at 35 East 68th Street with its curbed windows, grill iron work and Queen-Anne decorations. A similar home is at 40 East 68th Street. This large mansion by the park has ornate details and lavish decorations around the windows and roof.

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35 East 68th Street

When making the turn around Central Park, stop for a rest under the trees on one of the many benches that line the path on Fifth Avenue. Its nice to stop and people watch in this area.

When walking down East 69th Street, there are a series of stables from 147-161 East 69th Street that have now been converted into homes. These rare structures are a holdover similar to other blocks off Fifth Avenue that used to cater to the elite mansion dwellers.  These small buildings were located close enough to their owners but far enough away to not bother them (NY Times 2014). These small structures have now been converted into homes and studios. The stable at 159 East 69th Street was owned by John Sloane of the Sloane Department Store family and the stable at 157 East 69th Street was owned by artist Mark Rothko, who took his life there in 1970.

The most picturesque part of the of East 69th Street is when you walk between First and Second Avenues on a beautiful tree-lined block of homes full of character and many styles. It is full of marble and brownstone townhouses which have been restored by their owners. It just looks like a neighborhood. I stopped here for the day and relaxed at St. Catherine’s Park. Between all the walking and the heat I was exhausted.

Before I walked the rest of the neighborhood a few days later, I decided to double back to the upper part of the Upper East Side and take a free tour of Gracie Mansion, the home of the Mayor of New York City and his family (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). On a beautiful day being next to the river, there is nothing like this tour.

Gracie mansion

Gracie Mansion

The house is now located in Carl Schurz Park but originally it was part of the estate of Archibald Gracie, a prosperous merchant, who used this as his country home (See write up on VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com).  The house was built in the Federalist style in 1799. The house was in the family’s hands until 1823 when Archibald Gracie had to see the house to pay off debts. The house had many uses over the years and became the Mayor’s residence in 1942.

The tour was really interesting and the best part is the tour is free. You have to go to the Gracie Mansion website at www1.nyc.gov/site/gracie/visit to set up a time and tickets. The tour meets only on Monday’s at 10:00am, 11:00am and 5:00pm and lasts one hour.

It is an interesting tour that takes you through the Susan Wagner addition toward the back of the mansion when the former Mayor’s wife added the ballroom, receiving room and the library. The front of the house that we toured was the original part that included the living room, dining room and foyer and the formal stairs to the second floor. We were able to peak outside into the gardens that were in full bloom to see where they were setting up for a luncheon. Our tour went through some of the historical furnishings of the home and the fact that art work from museums in the City were borrowed to decorate the house. It was interesting to listen to the history of the house and its current use and I highly recommend the tour.

After the tour was over, I walked from East 84th Street back to York Avenue and East 69th Street to continue my walk of the neighborhood. I started at the hustle and bustle of hospital zone by Cornell-Weill. I walked the campus from East 68th Street to East 70th Streets to see the hospital. The main building is the most interesting and when you walk into the lobby (hopefully as a visitor), it is quite beautiful for a hospital. Security is running around all over the place so don’t linger long here but take time to walk the garden in the front.

I walked past the hospital zone and walked down East 70th Street towards the park. Around this part of the neighborhood, more college campuses seem to pop of with the New York School of Design and Marymount College having branches here. There are also a lot of small art galleries and museums to choose from and take time to visit them (See my reviews and write ups on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com).

The first gallery I visited was the New York School of Interior Design Gallery at 170 East 70th Street. The gallery is open when the school is open and is free to the public. It had the ‘Senior BFA Thesis Projects’ of the graduate students on display. The seniors were reusing historical buildings for modern use and not only had the full design but all the materials that would be used for the interior.

New York School of Interior Design Gallery.jpg

New York School of Design Galleries

Technology has changed since we did these projects in the 80’s and 90’s and they are able to make 3D designs that show the finished product. I was floored by the creativity but realized that we had to do more with less twenty years ago. If you get a chance to see the gallery when it is open, take about an hour out to visit it. The show was a treat. Try to visit the gallery when it  is open.

For lunch that afternoon, I tried New Shanghai Restaurant at 1388 Second Avenue between East 71st and East 72nd Streets (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food here was excellent and attracts quite the crowd at lunchtime. One afternoon I had the General Tso’s Chicken with egg fried rice and an egg roll with a Coke ($10.44) and the other afternoon I tried the Orange Chicken with egg fried rice and a egg roll with a Coke ($10.44). Both were wonderful and the portion sizes were huge. You will not need dinner after eating here. Both had a sweet and spicy flavor to them  and served with with steamed broccoli.

On the corner of Lexington Avenue & East 70th Street are two establishment’s you should not miss that are housed in one of the most picturesque brownstone’s covered with ivy that I have seen in New York City. On the corner at 960 Lexington Avenue is Corrado Bread & Pastry  (See reviews on TripAdvisor & DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food here is wonderful, very reasonable and if you can nab one of the seats outside, a true New York experience.

Corrado Breas & Pastry.jpg

Corrado Bread & Pastry

The seats overlook this part of the neighborhood and being around the corner from Hunter College, it attracts a mix of students, tourists and Upper East Side socialites. Their sandwiches are unusual with items like Ham with tomato and truffle butter ($3.50) and Brie and Tomato with truffle butter on a French Baguette ($6.50). The two times I went their for dessert after a meal elsewhere, I tried the Apple Turnover ($4.00), which is loaded with sweet apples in cinnamon in a flaky pastry and one of the their Cheese Puffs ($1.75) which are a type of chewy, cheesy popover. A real treat is their Chocolate Porcupine ($7.00), which is made of layers of chocolate cake and mousse than covered in a chocolate ganuche.  The dessert is decorated with a face that smiles at you.

Next door and interesting to visit is Creel & Gow at 131 East 70th (See LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) for the most unique gifts and decorative objects. They have all sorts of items from all over the globe with bowls from India, throws and pillows from Asia, taxidermy of exotic birds and all sorts of shells layered with silver. I have not seen merchandise like this since my travels abroad. Its a real treat.

creel and gow

Creel & Gow

From Lexington to Park Avenues on East 70th Street take time to admire the tree lined street with its interesting mix of brownstones and stone townhouses. These blocks in the historic district are what make Manhattan Manhattan. This stretches from East 70th Street to East 71st Street in this side of the neighborhood.

As you walk past Park Avenue, notice the Explorer’s Club building at 46 East 70th Street  with its Gothic looking entrance. This is the home of the Explorer’s Club, which was founded in 1904 and is headquarters in New York City. The club promotes which bonds explorers in good fellowship and promote the work of exploration (The Explorer’s Club history). Membership is by application and invitation only but they do have a Friends group and the club is open once a week on Monday’s Public Lecture Day for touring. Take time though to look at the outside architecture of the building.

Explorer's Club

Explorer’s Club

One block down at 725 Park Avenue at East 70th Street is the Asia Society Museum which I visited for a second time. I tried to visit their restaurant but for the second time it was already closed for the day. Since I had seen the upstairs galleries early in the walk of the neighborhood, I toured the gift shop. There are a lot of interesting things to buy at the shop.

At the end of the block on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 1 East 70th Street is the Frick Collection Museum, who was showing the ‘George Washington’ exhibition. The nicest part of visiting the collection is just walking around the private home of the Frick Family (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com).

The Frick Collection is housed in the former residence of Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), which was designed by Thomas Hastings and constructed in 1913-14. After Mrs. Frick’s death in 1931, changes and additions to the building were made by the architect John Russell Pope and in 1935 the Collection was opened to the public (Frick Collection pamphlet).

Frick Collection.jpg

The Frick Museum

(The Collection preserves the ambiance of Mr. Frick’s private home and visitors are therefore asked to observe regulations necessary for protecting the works of art and their domestic setting: See regulations on site-Frick Collection Pamphlet).

Rounding East 71st Street the next day, I was determined to finish the neighborhood. With so much to do and see you will miss a lot if you keep your eyes glued to a cell phone.

This includes admiring the tree lined blocks between Fifth and Lexington Avenues with the interesting brownstones, stone townhouses and beautiful apartment buildings. When walking down block don’t miss some of the unique little shops that line East 71st Street.

Folly, a gift and decorative shop, at 157 East 71st Street is one store to stop by (See LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). The shop is tucked into the bottom of a brownstone and has the most welcoming entrance. The owner, Emily Hottensen, could not have been more welcoming to me and her little dog knows his customer service as he will charm you to death. The shelves are lined with stenciled boxes of candy, decorative pillows and lamps, stationary and all sorts of items that would make the perfect host gifts. All I did was rub her dog’s stomach while I was there as he wanted a lot of attention.

Folly.png

Folly

Another nice shop is Cotelac at 983 Lexington Avenue for the latest in French fashions (See LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). This small chain of French designer clothing has the most interesting designs in coats, dresses and tops all beautifully displayed. They also have nice accessories on the tables toward the middle of the store.

Cotelac.jpg

Cotelac

I stopped at the Hewitt Gallery of Art on the main campus of  Marymount Manhattan College at 221 East 71st Street (See VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com) to see the ‘Senior Solo Show’ of the MFA students. They displayed their final projects and there was a collection of prints, pictures and oils to view and buy. All the art was on sale, which I had never seen before. The video art by student Corinne Grahn on emotions and the Plus size prints of Brianna Fazio should be seen and these artists watched. The art was very interesting.

Hewitt Gallery.jpg

Hewitt Gallery

Don’t miss the elegant headquarter of the National Society of Colonial Dames of the State of New York at 215-217 East 71st Street. The building was constructed in 1927 and looks like an old mansion. The club runs the Van Cortlandt House in the Bronx for touring.

At the Belaire Building at 525 East 71st Street they have a nice sitting area in front of the building with gardens and a fountain that I see the doctors in the hospital use for breaks. It is a nice place to just sit and relax on a hot day, especially one with a lot of walking around.

On my last day in the neighborhood, I went museum hopping. I first started at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 1000 Fifth Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor) and did a walking tour of the ‘California Contemporary Artists of the 1970-80’s’ with a long time docent of the museum, Judy. She was explaining the art and how the artists wanted to forge their own path away from the New York artists. She mentioned the video “Whatever happened to my Future” by video artist, Ilene Segalove and I found it very profound, especially to anyone over the age of 35. I have it below to share with the readers.

I also stopped at the Met Breuer (the old Whitney Museum) at 945 Madison Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor) for the last day of the “Like Life Sculpture, Color and the Body” exhibition. The exhibition was described as ‘Seven hundred years of sculpture practice, from the 14th century Europe to the global present that explores the narratives of sculpture in which the artists have sought to replicate the literal, living presence of the human body’. I found some of the funeral looking works to be creepy and some the the contemporary statues to be unusual. This exhibition (now closed) was not for everyone.

The last part of the touring took place at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden at 421 East 61st Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). This historic building is one of the last links to 19th century New York and should not be missed.

As I rounded East 72nd Street, my final destination, I stopped at La Crosta Restaurant & Pizzeria at 436 East 72nd Street for lunch (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). They have the best lunch specials for $7.00 and their pizza is excellent. I had the penne with Bolognese sauce ( a meat sauce) and the meal was wonderful as usual. They give a very generous portion size and the sauce is packed with flavor from the rich ground meats they use in their sauce.

La Crosta Pizzeria.jpg

La Crosta Pizza

When walking some the blocks again up by the Met on another day, I tried Tri Dim Shanghai at 1378 Third Avenue between East 78th and 79th Streets for their lunch specials (See review on TripAdvisor). There lunch specials are wonderful and very reasonable as well. I had their specialty, Slippery Chicken which is prepared with thinly sliced chicken cooked with ginger, hot pepper and garlic in a brown sauce with spinach. The dish was rich with flavor and the spinach really brought out the flavor of the meat. Their hot & sour soup was really good and make sure to order a side of their Steamed Pork Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings $8.00). They are the best!

As you can see there is a lot to see and do in this part of the Upper East Side and it will take you several days to explore the area thoroughly. You can’t do this neighborhood in just a day but pick out the blocks you want to visit and check out all the sites mentioned in the blog. You are going to be glad you took the time out to research first.

 

Places to Eat:

Flip and Forty Carrots Restaurants at Bloomingdale’s Department Store

Bloomingdale’s

100 3rd Avenue

New York, NY  10023

(212) 705-2993

My review on TripAdvisor:

Flip:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3293428-Reviews-Flip-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3293428-Reviews-Flip-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

40 Carrots:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1995735-Reviews-40_Carrots-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Asian 59 Inc.

207 East 59th Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 371-4777/1201/8651

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3899941-Reviews-Asian_Eatery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Corrado Bread & Pastry

960 Lexington Avenue @70th Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 774-1904

http://www.corradocafeat70th.com

Open: Monday-Friday-7:00am-8:00pm/Saturday- 8:00am-7:00pm/Sunday-8:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1557807-Reviews-Corrado_Bread_Pastry-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/711

 

John & Tony’s Pizzeria-Trattoria

1097 First Avenue

New York, NY  10065

(212) 371-4965

Email: johnandtonyspizza#gmail.com

Open: Monday-Thursday-10:00am-4:00pm/Friday-10:00am-5:00am/Saturday-11:00am-5:00am/Sunday-11:00am-2:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1082373-Reviews-John_Tony_s_Pizzeria-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Ritz Diner

1133 First Avenue

New York, NY  10065

(212) 319-4993

Open 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d424063-Reviews-Ritz_Diner-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

New Shanghai Restaurant

1388 Second Avenue

New York, NY  10021

(212) 288-8066

Open: Sunday-Saturday-11:00am-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3579862-Reviews-Shanghai_Chinese_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/706

 

Tri Dim Shanghai

1378 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10075

(212) 585-3388

http://www.tridimshanghai.net

Open: Monday-Friday-11:45am-10:00pm/Saturday and Sunday-12:00pm-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d13322870-Reviews-Tri_Dim_Shanghai-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

La Crosta Restaurant & Pizza

436 East 72nd Street

New York, NY 10021

(212) 472-5004

http://www.lacrostapizza.com

Open: Sunday-Saturday-Sunday-11:00am-9:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d2285056-Reviews-La_Crosta_Restaurant_Gourmet_Pizzeria-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/552

 

Non-Solo Piada

302 West 37th Street

New York, NY  10018

(212) 216-0616

http://www.nonsolopiadanyc.com

Open: Monday-Friday-7:00am -8:00pm/Saturday &- Sunday 8:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d11916965-Reviews-Non_Solo_Piada-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/668

 

Viv Thai

717 9th Avenue

New York, NY  10019

(212) 581-5999

Open: Sunday-Thursday-12:00pm-10:45pm/Saturday-12:00pm-11:45pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3498676-Reviews-VIV_Thai-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Shamas Deli

150 West 38th Street

New York, NY  10018

(212) 302-2296

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d14197183-Reviews-Shamas_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Fu Xing

273 West 38th Street

New York, NY 10018

(212) 575-6978

Open: Monday-Saturday: 7:00am-9:00pm/Sunday-Closed

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d14037661-Reviews-Fu_Xing-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/149

 

Things to do:

Gracie Mansion Tour

Carl Schurz Park

88th Street & East End Avenue

New York, NY  10128

(212) 570-4773

Open: Monday’s Only-10:00am, 11:00am & 5:00pm

http://www.nyc.gov/gracietour.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136688-Reviews-Gracie_Mansion-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2182

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2714

 

Berta and Karl Laubsdorf Gallery

Hunter College Main Campus

132 East 68th Street

New York, NY  10065

leubsdorfgallery.com

Open: Wednesday-Saturday

Admission: Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

None

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2139

 

Hewitt Gallery of Art

Marymount Manhattan College

221 East 71st Street

New York, NY 10021

Open: During special exhibition times

Admission: Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d106188-Reviews-Cooper_Hewitt_Smithsonian_Design_Museum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2155

New York School of Interior Design Gallery

170 East 70th Street

New York, NY  10021

nysid.edu/icps

Open: When there is a show going on at the school

My review on TripAdvisor:

None

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2160

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

421 East 61st Street

New York, NY  10065

(212)838-6878

http://www.myhm.org

Open:: Hours depending on time of the year

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d309468-Reviews-Mount_Vernon_Hotel_Museum_Garden-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2191

 

The Frick Collection

1 East 70th Street

New York, NY  10021

(212) 288-0700

http://www.frick.org

Open: Monday-Saturday-10:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d107466-Reviews-Frick_Collection-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2655

 

Asia Society

725 Park Avenue

New York, NY  10021

(212) 288-6400

http://www.asiasociety.org/museum

Open: Sunday-Saturday-11:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136164-Reviews-Asia_Society_and_Museum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2110

Roosevelt House

47-49 East 65th Street

New York, NY  10065

(212) 650-3174

http://www.roosevelthouse.hunter.cuny.edu

Tours: On Saturday only 10:00am, 12:00pm and 2:00pm (Check their website for reservations)

 

24 Sycamores Park

501 East 60th Street

New York, NY  10065

(212) 639-9675

Open: 6:00am-9:00pm

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/twenty-four-sycamores-park/history

 

Andrew Haswell Green Park

East 60th Street & FDR Drive

New York, NY  10022

(212) 639-9675

http://www.nyc.parks.org

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/andrew-haswell-green-park

 

Stores:

Folly

157 East 71st Street

New York, NY  10021

(917) 751-7293

http://www.follynewyorkstore.com

Open: Monday-Friday-11:00am-7:00pm/Saturday & Sunday-11:00am-5:00pm

Review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/113

 

Cotelac

983 Lexington Avenue

New York, NY 10021

(212) 288-0400

http://www.cotelac.us

Open: Monday-Saturday-10:30am-6:30pm/Sunday-12:00pm-5:00p

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/101

 

Places to stay:

Marriott Fairfield Inn

29-27 40th Street

Long Island City, NY 11101

(718) 482-0100

http://www.marriott.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g48080-d1027681-Reviews-Fairfield_Inn_New_York_Long_Island_City_Manhattan_View-Long_Island_City_Queens_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Met Lecture on California Contemporary Artists by Docent Judy Bloom discussed Ms. Segalove’s video, which is brilliant. I wanted to share this with the readers.

Video Artist Ilene Segalove’s Video: “What ever happened to my Future”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day One Hundred & Eighteen: Freaky Friday the 13th-The Sixth Anniversary of author Mary Rodgers visit for the 40th Anniversary of her book “Freaky Friday” July 13th, 2018

This blog is dedicated to the great and wonderful author, Mary Rodgers, in honor of her visit six years ago to the Hasbrouck Heights Library in honor of the 40th Anniversary of her best-selling book, “Freaky Friday” on July 13th, 2012. This was one of the best Special Events programs that I ever ran outside “Parent’s Weekend” my senior year at Michigan State University. It was a big thrill for me to meet an author whom not only I had grown up with but whose books and movies I enjoyed not just then but even now. The original ‘Freaky Friday’ I saw as a kid when it first came out in 1977 and I still enjoy it today.

I had founded the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library in 2011 on the premise that there should be more for kids to enjoy at the library other than “Mommie & Me” classes, teen book clubs and arts and crafts for kids. As a child I hated all that ‘baby stuff’ preferring ‘Nanny & the Professor’, ‘The Lucy Show’ and ‘That Girl’ over shows like ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood’. I thought the shows were for ‘little kids’ as early as six. When it came time for movies, I enjoyed ‘On a Clear Day you can see Forever’ and ‘What’s Up Doc?’ to any of the kiddie fare they make kids watch at that age.

When Disney films like ‘Escape to Witch Mountain’, ‘Freaky Friday’ and ‘The Bad News Bears’ came out it really showed how kids behaved back then and the independence our parent’s generation gave us as children. They expected not ‘little adults’ but kids to be mature, have responsibility and respect for the people around them as well as be our own person. We were the generation to mature at our own pace and probably the last.

I wanted to share this experience with kids who were like minded, who wanted more than just the run of the mill activities. Plus I was patterning the organization on some of the groups catering to kids in the city at the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Forum, bringing the city to the kids of Hasbrouck Heights with sophisticated programming that including classic and independent films, celebrity visits and contemporary activities. The year 2012 was the leap year for the organization with goal of innovative programming and special guests.

I put my game plan of ideas together and came up with a “Freaky Friday” night at the library on Friday the 13th and because of the way Friday the 13th landed that year, July 13th that year was around the opening of the library’s Summer Reading Program. So the Junior Friends would tie their event around that. I never thought in a million years Mary Rodgers would come. I knew nothing about her whereabouts or her life. This is why I love Google.

One late night I was Googling her and did not realize that she had been the President of the Richard Rodgers Foundation and at the bottom of the screen there was a comments section. I went to it and wrote that the library was having a 40th Anniversary of her book, “Freaky Friday” and we wanted her to be our guest. Would she consider coming to the library to read the book? I could not believe it when she said yes the next day!

Thus started the plans for her visit. We bought copies of the novel, organized a small reception and had an area set up in the early afternoon for the reading. We would show the original 1977 film first in the private meeting room across the hall to be followed by the 2003 remake. We had planned something a little more elaborate but I could not get anyone to agree to it.

I had long emails for the next three weeks back and forth with her assistant, Ruschika, getting everything organized. It was like planning D-Day with all the conversations on a two hour visit. The way I was understanding it was that I was dealing with a very frail woman but when I met her she could have been nothing further from the truth. She was a spunky big kid who could not have been more engaging to both the adults and the kids. I knew that when I first introduced myself.

I kept saying Mrs. Rodgers this and Mrs. Rodgers that and she finally said to me “Justin, after all this just call me ‘Mary'”. I knew she was cool even at 83. She could not have been more engaging and openly friendly with everyone there and the kids loved her. Most of these kids were two generations ahead of her, she being the R.K. Rowling of her time. You could not have asked for a bigger author of kids books with comparison to Maurice Sendak, Norton Juster and Judy Bloom. For my generation, she was huge! (It would be years later that I would discover that she had been suffering from terminal cancer at the time of the visit and she died just a few months before my dad in 2014).

Freaky Friday 2012

Author Mary Rodgers reading her book “Freaky Friday”

It could not have been a better afternoon as the weather cooperated and because it was early traffic, she arrived over an hour early so she was able to settle in and talk with all the patrons on a personal basis. It really was a magical afternoon.

Mary talked to the audience of about 40 patrons about growing up as Richard Rodgers daughter and living in the shadow of fame while carving her own career out of it. She talked about growing up in a musical family, writing stories with her sister and time creating such shows as “Once Upon a Mattress” and “A to Z”. I even remembered when she worked on “Free to be you and Me” that Marlo Thomas had created in the 70’s for kids.

The best part of the program is when she talked about growing up and said, “Annebelle is me! I was a tough kid when I was growing up and had my own opinions.” She and her mother had obviously butted heads when she was growing up and based the book on her early childhood growing up in New York.

She then talked about working with Disney Studios to adapt the book into a movie and writing the screenplay. She told us of having to write a sexy secretary into the script to please one of the studio heads. She talked about the rewrites and finally how proud she was when the movie came out. She admitted though when asked whether she liked the original film or the 2003 remake, she admitted to us “I thought the remake was more true to the theme of the book.”

After a long discussion, we made our presentations to her. I made her the first ‘Honorary Member of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library and the Mayor of Hasbrouck Heights at the time, Mrs. Rose Heck, read a proclamation declaring it ‘Mary Rodgers Day’ in Hasbrouck Heights. We even had the electric board out front of the Municipal Building read “Welcome Mary Rodgers”. We then had the book signing and she continued the discussion with many of the patrons and kids.

Mary Rodgers

Mayor Rose Heck presents Mary Rodgers with our version of the ‘Key’ to Hasbrouck Heights

After that she joined for a bit for the reception and then headed back into the City before rush hour began. We did keep in touch for bit writing to one another and me sending out press clippings and pictures from the event. (Years later after she passed away, Mayor Heck had told me she had just sent her a birthday card. Even the two of them had kept in touch long after the event).

After she left, we watched the original 1977 film with Jody Foster and Barbara Harris, then we stopped for intermission and had a pizza and brownie dinner and then showed the 2003 film with Lindsey Lohan and Jamie Lee-Curtis. The original film was a big hit with the kids many of whom had never seen it before. We ended up being at the library for over four hours and the last of the patrons walked out at 9:15pm with everyone raving about the event.

All these years later when older members of the organization get together, we still talk about the wonderful afternoon we had when Mary Rodgers visited us.

So on this Friday the 13th, six years to the date of the original event on July 13th, 2012, I dedicate this blog to a true New Yorker, Mary Rodgers-Guettel and the wonderful afternoon we had sharing stories, reading the book and watching her films. The kids may not known who she was when they came but they sure knew who she was when she left.

In Memory to the very first ‘Honorary Member of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library and one of my literary idols, Mary Rodgers-Guettel January 1931-June 2014.

The Opening of the Original “Freaky Friday”

 

Closing Song from Freaky Friday remake 2003

 

Special Note: I was very proud to discover in 2014 that BCCLS, the governing body  Bergen County Cooperative Library System for all libraries in Bergen County, New Jersey, honored the Junior Friends of the Library for our 2013 programming and the organization itself. It was nice to see that someone noticed!

Some articles that were posted online of the event:

Patch.com October 2012:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/mary-rodgers-visits-heights

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/freaky-friday-author-mary-rodgers-to-visit-heights

Proclamation from the Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, NJ:

http://www.hasbrouck-heights.com/mc-min/2012/7-24-12.pdf

The Gazette Newspaper:

http://www.the-gazette-newspaper.com/images/gazette/jul12.pdf

Day One Hundred & Fourteen Visiting Lillian on her 100th Birthday June 6th, 2018

(In Memory of Lillian Heckler who passed on January 4th, 2019 going into her 101st year)

I went to visit a good friend of mine out on Long Island for her 100th birthday today. Even at 100, my friend, Lillian, still has mind that is very sharp and the luxury of a diet that she can eat everything and a healthy appetite (for someone who is 100).

I really lucked out with the weather as it had threatened to rain that day but ended up being a sunny day in the high 70’s. The sun peeked out enough where we could spend the day outside on the terrace away from the other residents.

Lillian and I have known each other since my days working at FAO Schwarz in the mid-nineties before I left for culinary arts school. I remember meeting Lillian for a brief moment in the late eighties when I was filling out an application to work at the store after graduation. She had directed my upstairs. I became good friends with her when I worked in the Pre-School Department in the Summer and Fall of 1996 when I took a leave from school. She had worked in the department for years at that point and at 86, she could ring circles around everyone in the department and in the store. I became very close to my staff in the department.

Having seen each other through life’s tragedies, with her the passing of her two children and mine with the passing of my dad, we have been each other’s listening ears. It takes a good friend to be there when a loved one is gone and be able to relate to it.

I have gone out more recently over the last two years as I have seen a big change in her and how happy these visits make her. I bring her meals for special occasions and for the holidays. Last year, I joined her for her birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas and this year for Easter and her milestone 100th birthday. With each visit, I see her immediately cheer up and get a great big smile on her face when I come.

I told her that she is my hero for being 100 years old and still being able to do the things that she does. She still has a sharp mind and wit to her, a nice appetite where she is not restricted in her diet and the fact that when she gets up every morning that she has a purpose. She is the facility’s cheerleader.

She has always told me that when someone new comes to her floor and they look sad in being there, she will wheel herself over and try to cheer them up and make them feel welcome. That is a rare thing in assisted living. She gets involved in all sorts of activities like arts & crafts, music appreciation and special events especially during the holidays. She was in an Easter Bonnet parade this Easter and for the last two years, she was in the Christmas choir for a family day at the facility. She never lets the pitfalls of life affect her.

For her birthday, I went to Main Street Pizza Cafe at 89 Main Street (See my review on TripAdvisor) to pick up some lasagna with meat sauce and garlic knots for her birthday lunch. The food here is excellent. Their marinara sauce is delicious and really makes all their dishes shine. The lasagna is creamy on the inside and has a rich flavor from the meats they use in their sauce. Their garlic knots are soft on the inside and crisp and garlicky on the outside. While I was waiting, I was starved and order a piece of their ‘Grandma’ pizza with fresh tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese and it was one of the best slices of pizza I had had in a long time. The whole outside crust was brushed in garlic accented by the fresh tomato sauce that made every bite incredible.

For dessert and her birthday cake, I got some Italian cookies and a strawberry short cake with a birthday message at Park Bake Shop at 112 Route 25 Street A (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and my blog, “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I swear that this has got to be one of the best bakeries in the Northeast. Everything I have tried here is delicious and some of the best German and Italian baked products around. Their doughnuts and turnovers are always excellent, topped or filled with all sorts of sweet ingredients. Lillian loved her birthday cake!

We spent our afternoon outside on the front terrace celebrating her birthday with a lot of good food, great conversation and a lot of laughs. We were joined with another caregiver who was taking care of an old friend of the family and the four of us did a lot of talking. I was surprised how both Lillian and the other woman just joined into the conversation like no one’s business. I think this is the power of caring and treating people who have a disability with respect and not as if they are different.

We spent our afternoon catching up on old times, things going on in our lives and Lillian told me of her time in the home. You should have seen how these women opened up when they had someone to talk to and who listened. The power of conversation!

After a nice afternoon of eating, lots of laughs and reminiscing, I had to head home on the long trip to New Jersey. So I got Lillian back inside and said my goodbyes. She was a different person when I left with a big smile and a big birthday balloon on her wheelchair to cheer her up. What a way to spend your 100th birthday!

This is what good friends are for!

Places to Eat:

Main Street Pizza Cafe

89 Main Street

Kings Park, NY  11754

(631) 269-0712

http://www.mainstreetpizzany.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48001-d2524766-Reviews-Main_Street_Pizza_Cafe-Kings_Park_Long_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

Park Bake Shop

112 Route 25 Street A

Kings Park, NY  11754

(631) 269-3825

http://www.parkbakeshop.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48001-d933880-Reviews-Park_Bake_Shop-Kings_Park_Long_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/645

 

Day One Hundred & Fifteen: Visiting the Brooklyn Botanical Garden on Rose Night June 14th, 2018

Every year the Brooklyn Botanical Garden opens its doors to the membership for the Annual Rose Night in June. This is when the roses are at their peak of bloom and members and their friends and family come to enjoy a private evening.

I have to admit that the weather has played a big role in the way flowers have bloomed this year. Plants have either opened too early or too late. The crocuses opened about three weeks too early and they sat in snow. The tulips opened on time and then were hit with three days of 80 degree weather, which just burnt them out. The daffodils had a good but quick season due to the hot and cold weather. Daffodil Hill and the dogwood trees in the garden were spectacular. What vibrant colors and what a beautiful display that night.

Rose Night was tough. Normally it is a week earlier as most roses come out on the first week of June but for some reason they moved it to the second week and a lot of the roses had already lost their petals. The weather had been a big factor as it rained so much in late May and early June.

Still many of the roses were still coming out and the gardens were awash in colors. So many types of roses were blooming that they almost time themselves. The gardens were full of colors of red, pink, yellow and even green. The overhead trellises were lined in whites, yellows and pinks. Some had aromatic smells while other smelled line a plain flower.

It was nice to walk along the paths and spot the names of the roses. Everything is marked so you get to see when the flowers were grafted and developed. Things are timed so intricately in the garden so they all bloom in certain intervals. Some of the beds were beyond peak while others were just bursting out after a long winter’s nap. You will walk in amazement down the paths to see so much.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden Rose Night.jpg

Rose Garden at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden

It was a beautiful sunny Spring evening and the garden was packed with families picnicking on the lawns all over the gardens, having dinner at the Magnolia Cafe near the middle of the gardens where a special menu was laid out. Others like myself were listening to music in the area by the gift shop or ordering Rose Sangria from the bar which was made with infused rose petals (and is delicious).

The musicians were playing show tunes and the gardens hired a wonderful singer for the night. She was doing all the old Cole Porter songs while I was listening to her and the band. It was nice to just relax with a drink and listen to the band with the other members. Some take it really seriously and dress to the hilt in blazers and hats. I sometimes feel a little under-dressed for the occasion.

I took a long walk around the gardens. A lot is being renovated with the new watershed system that the gardens are setting up which will be opened later this Summer. All the daffodils, dogwoods and tulips are long gone making way for summer flowers to enter the beds. There will be a lot more to see later in the season.

There will be other members nights of picnicking on the lawns and movies to see and walking tours to show it all off.

This is the reason why being a member of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens is so important if you live in the New York area. There are loads of wonderful events to get involved with on a monthly basis.

Places to visit:

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11225

(718) 623-7200

http://www.bbg.org

Open: Mondays: (Closed)/Tuesday-Friday: 8:00am-6:00pm/Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d103900-Reviews-Brooklyn_Botanic_Garden-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Day One Hundred & Twelve: Walking the Avenues of the lower part of the Upper East Side from Fifth Avenue to FDR Drive from 72nd Street to 59th Street May 23rd-May 30th, 2018

I started my walk today with a walking tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sometimes the Soup Kitchen gets to be too much before these walks and since making my goal of two thousand hours, I have wanted to calm it down. My next goal will be twenty-five hundred hours but I can take my time on that one.

I toured the Asian galleries with other patrons of the museum. The exhibition was the “Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal” which was a tour of the famous crowns of Nepal. The funny part of these crowns were that they had always been in the collection but had been marked incorrectly by museum for the Armory Galleries as helmets. When they  discovered what they had in storage, they put them out on display and soon will be restored so we won’t see them again for a long time.

The unique part of the tour that the docent told us is that they had never been out on display together since they had been bought to the museum and the first time ever had been displayed at the museum the way they are now. You really had to have the details explained as the symbolism of each crown stood on its own, with their Buddhas and flowers described in detail. All of them were accented with semi-precious jewels.

After the tour was over, I had enough time to walk around the new “Visitors to Versailles” exhibition. This is an exhibition you should not miss while it is open. It has all sorts of the pictures and artifacts on the creation of the building, how it progressed, who visited and how it continued to be added on up to the French Revolution and into the modern times. It was fascinating to see the progress on how it started as a hunting lodge right up to the modern gardens that were installed. Be prepared for at least a two hour visit for both exhibitions to see them properly. It was better than spending the morning cutting vegetables.

I started my walk around the neighborhood at East 72nd Street, walking the lower part of the street passing familiar businesses and apartment buildings. It is amazing how fast scaffolding goes up. It must grow on its own because in just a few weeks, more buildings are surrounded by it or are in the process of being redone or knocked down. As I have said in previous entries, Manhattan is changing at a pace that you can not keep up with it. You can walk a block and a week later it seems that something is in the process of change.

This is true on the first Avenue I walked today, the ever changing York Avenue. It just seems like the entire Avenue is being rebuilt. I have never seen so many new buildings going up on one street. The rest of the blocks will certainly be going through the transition.

If you want to tour the FDR Walkway tour of the river, cross over at East 71st Street and York Avenue and cross the walkway here. It has the most beautiful views of the river and of Roosevelt Island. This is one way to get down to East 59th Street and the edge of the neighborhood. You can also cross over the East 63rd Street entrance as well to the river walk.

York Avenue has the Cornell-Weill Hospital between East 71st to East 68th Streets so these are busy blocks and then you pass the tranquil Rockefeller University between East 68th to East 63rd Street where most of the property facing York Avenue is landscaped and park-like and very pleasant to walk by. I just wish the campus was more open like the Columbia is where you can walk around the Quad. At the end of York Avenue at East 59th Street under the Queensboro Bridge starts the exclusive Sutton Place.

As I have said in a previous blog, really look at the beautiful artwork on the Queensboro Bridge, with it geometric designs along the sides, its beautiful tiling and its vaulted ceilings. The now closed supermarket under the bridge must have been amazing to shop in when it was open.

For lunch I stopped at Go Noodle Chinese Restaurant at 1069 First Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor) which was part of a series of restaurants near the bridge. Its a nice restaurant to sit in and people watch. The lunch specials are reasonable and very good. I started my meal with an egg roll and then had shredded chicken with string beans for my entree. The food here is very good. The entree was loaded with chicken cooked in a brown garlic tasting sauce with properly sauted string beans. The egg roll was better than most I have tried at neighborhood Chinese restaurants but standard with roast pork and shredded cabbage. At $8.25 for a full meal plus the soda, not a bad price for lunch and it was lunch and dinner for me.

After lunch, I needed a rest from the large lunch and all the walking and I stopped in Twenty-Four Sycamore Park on the corner of York Avenue at 501 East 60th Street right next to the Andrew Haswell Green Park on the other side of the road. This delightful little park is very popular with the kiddie/nanny set and had kids scrambling all over the place on this hot day chasing after one another while all the adults sat in the shade and talked amongst themselves. It was a nice place to just sit back and relax. I just tried to avoid the squirt gun fight going on.

24 Sycamore Park.jpg

24 Sycamores Park

As you turn to the lower part of First Avenue, you still see traces of the older part of the city but as you enter the higher East 60’s, things start to change. More and more new buildings are going up. The popular St. Catherine’s Park is between East 67th to 68th Streets and according to the park system mimics the Santa Maria sopra Minerva Church in Rome in its layout to honor St. Catherine (NYCParks). This is another popular spot in the neighborhood for kids and adults alike. Kids were running around all over the park while the parents were relaxing under the shade trees. The sandbox seemed to be really popular with the kids jockeying for space in it.

St. Catherine's Park.jpg

St. Catherine’s Park

When reaching East 66th Street, you will come across the large condominium complex of Manhattan House, which was built between 1950 to 1951 and designed by Gordon Bunshaft for the firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in the modernist style. It overlooks a garden that runs the entire block with two sculptures by the artist Hans Van de Bovenkamp (which you can see from the sidewalk through the windows). Some of the famous people who have lived there include actress Grace Kelly and musician Benny Goodman. The apartment complex reached landmark status in 2007 and take time to walk around the front garden of the complex. It looks like something in Fort Lee, NJ.

Manhattan House.jpg

Manhattan House Apartments

Second and Third Avenues are mostly commercial but have many spots to look over and visit. Walking down Third Avenue past East 66th Street is a plaque on the site of the Nathan Hale, the American Patriot and spy,  hanging by the British during the Revolutionary War. The site is much debated based on its location near the Dove Tavern on the Old Post Road. Another is by the Yale Club near East 44th Street. There has been a debate where the Royal Artillery Park was located. If only Nathan Hale knew where he died would now be a Pier One Store, even he would be shocked.

Nathan Hale Plaque

Nathan Hale Plaque at the Pier One Store

Down the Avenue at East 60th Street is Dylan’s Candy Bar at 1011 Third Avenue, a giant emporium of candy and sweets, (which I hate to say is an exact copy of the old FAO Schweetz, which I ran back in the 90’s when I worked at FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue. It was very reminiscent of the department due to the fact that the designers of the store, store management and buyer all came from the store to work with Dylan Lauren, designer Ralph Lauren’s daughter. My boss, Jeff, is one of her partners).

She took the creation and made it her own in a store that stocks 7,000 types of candy and a small cafe on the third floor. With the inspiration of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, the store leads into a real life ‘Candyland’. The store is stocked with a rainbow of sweets and treats and one of the top tourist spots in the City (Dylan’s Candy Bar press).

Dylan's Candy Bar

Dylan’s Candy Bar NYC

I stopped at Bloomingdale’s Department Store at 1000 Third Avenue at 59th and Lexington Avenue, the famous ‘Bloomies’, for another visit to ‘Forty Carrots’ (See review on TripAdvisor) on the 7th Floor. I swear on a hot day this is one of the best solutions. For $7.00, I had a small strawberry yogurt with rainbow sprinkles that cooled me down after this part of the long walk around the neighborhood.

40 Carrots

40 Carrots

I got a chance to walk around the store and look at the merchandise. I have to say that the store has changed a lot over the years. It has gotten more upscale and the merchandise more expensive. It still has its past allure but has gotten more elegant in its feel.

Walking back up Lexington Avenue there are a few buildings of interest you really have to see. At 131 East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue is The Studio Building, considered one of the purest Italian Renaissance-palazzo style apartment buildings in New York City. The twelve story building was designed by Charles A. Platt for developer, William J. Taylor, who had developed ‘studio’ apartment buildings on the West Side of Manhattan. Mr. Platt  also designed the other sister building at 130-134 East 67th Street (CityRealty).

The buildings are distinguished by the handsome and large cornice and its very impressive entrance portals flanked by columns and topped with broken pediments on the street-side. The building has a nice tall, wrought-iron fence and four string courses (CityRealty). The buildings were designed landmarked in 1949 for their unique design. Both buildings are quite breath-taking to look at for their elegance.

Studio Building.jpg

Studio Building

As you walk further up Lexington Avenue, you will pass the Seventh Regiment Armory, whose entrance is at 643 Park Avenue, that goes the full block from Lexington to Park Avenues (you can see the statue dedicated to the regiment on Fifth Avenue), the Armory was built between 1877-1881 and is considered to have one of the most important collection of 19th Century intact interiors in New York City. It is now used as a performance art space.

Park Armory.jpg

Park Avenue Armory

The building was built in the ‘Silk Stocking’ district of Manhattan and was one of the first regiments to answer the call of arms by President Lincoln for the start of the Civil War in 1861. It was designed by Charles W. Clinton of the firm of Clinton & Russell and had been a member of the Regiment. It had been used as a military facility and a social club Armory History).

Further up the road between East 67th-69th Streets is the famed Hunter College campus. The students were out in full force when I was walking around the campus. Like Rockefeller University, this college dominates this part of the neighborhood with students and businesses catering to them.  The problem is that the rents are getting so expensive, the students can’t support the upscale businesses that surround the campus and I am beginning to notice that there are more and more empty storefronts around the neighborhood. Still it has a great bookstore to visit.

The rest of Lexington Avenue is surrounded by businesses and apartment buildings that are rapidly changing like the rest of the city. It is funny to walk down these blocks months later to see buildings under scaffolding or businesses that were once a part of the neighborhood for years suddenly disappear.

This is why Park Avenue is so nice. It never really changes. Dominated by pre-war and/or Victorian apartment buildings, it still has the look and feel that it did in the 30’s although there is a lot more money here now than then. Here and there is an old mansion or a small shop and I have found it home to three small but interesting museum’s and galleries.

At Park Avenue & 66th Street is the front part of the Park Avenue ‘Seventh Regiment Armory”. Built in the Gothic style by architect Charles Clinton in 1880, you can see the real detail of the building on the Park Avenue side. The former home of the Seventh Regiment it is now the home of the performing center.

The Americas Society Gallery at 680 Park Avenue is a unique and small little gallery located in the Spanish Institute. There was an interesting exhibition “The Metropolis in Latin America 1830-1930” on the development of cities in Latin America that was very interesting. Another museum/gallery next door to that is Italian Cultural Institute at 686 Park Avenue, who has the tiny ‘Museo Canova’ with the works of Italian artist Antonio Canova.

His “The Tempera Paintings of Possagno” was cataloged in 1817 and reference is made to those paintings depicting “various dance moves, frolics between nymphs and lovers, muses and philosophers, drawn for the artist’s personal knowledge and delight.” (Museo Canova pamphlet). They were interesting little paintings of nymphs and little angels dancing around each other.

The Americas Society and Spanish Institute is housed in the former Percy Rivington Pyne home that was built between 1909-1911 by McKim, Mead & White. Mr. Pyne was a director of the First National City Bank of New York and the founders grandson.  The other part of the Institute is the former home of Oliver D. Filley  (husband of Mary Pyne Filley, Percy Rivington Pyne’s daughter).

Americas Society

Americas Society

Italian Cultural Institute at 684 Park Avenue is housed in the former home of Henry P. Davison, a financier that was designed by the firm of Walker & Gillette in 1917 in the Neo-Georgian style. All three of these homes were saved by Margaret Rockefeller Strong de Larram, Marquesa de Cuevas in 1965 and all three of these homes (now Institutes) were designated as a New York City landmark by the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission on November 10, 1970. Take time to look at the plaques attached to the three buildings and the architecture of the homes. It forms one of the last intact architectural ensembles on Park Avenue (Wiki).

Further up Park Avenue is the Asian Society and Museum at 725 Park Avenue which was founded by John D. Rockefeller III in 1956 with a vision,  to create an institute that would build bridges of understanding between the United States and Asia (Asian Society pamphlet). The museum houses the collection of John D. Rockefeller III on the third floor along with an exhibition of local children’s art and their interpretation of Asian Art. The bottom level houses a well-received restaurant and gift shop. It is an interesting exhibition on Hindu and Buddhist Art.

Asia Society.jpg

Asian Society

Madison Avenue also offers a wide array of interesting architecture and retail stores. At the very top of Madison Avenue is the home of the main store of Ralph Lauren, which is housed in the former Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo Mansion. The home was built by the old money heiress between 1893-1898 designed by Kimball & Thompson in the French Renaissance revival design. It has been leased by Ralph Lauren since 1983, whose company redesigned it as a retail store. This is a store that proves that the ‘brick & mortar’ store is not dead with its elegant displays of merchandise.

Rhinelander mansion.jpg

Rhinelander Mansion-Ralph Lauren Store

Madison Avenue from East 72nd Street to 59th Street is really an Avenue of extremes. Just like the uptown blocks from East 72nd to East 96th Streets is full of extremely expensive but always empty looking stores. More and more of the store fronts are empty as even the raising rents are affecting this area of the city as well. Still it is a great Avenue to window shop.

Still you will find a collection of top American and European upscale shops that cater to that ‘certain’ customer. Needless to say, this part of Madison Avenue I never notice that busy and late at night the Avenue is practically barren.

One stand out on the Avenue is the St. James Church at 865 Madison Avenue near the Ralph Lauren store. This graceful and beautiful Episcopalian church was built 1810-1883 in various locations until in 1884, the present church designed by Robert H. Robertson was designed and built to open in 1885 in the Romanesque style. It has been added onto since the church has been built. Look at the graceful details around the church when you pass by.

I reached the top of Fifth Avenue that evening and was totally pooped! It was 8:20pm and starting to get dark. I just wanted to get back home at that point. I don’t where I garnered the energy but I walked from Fifth Avenue and East 72nd Street to Port Authority at West 42nd Street and collapsed on the bus ride home.

On the 25th of May, I started my day at the Soup Kitchen again lucking out at a somewhat quiet day working on the Bread Station. We did not get any donations of sweets or desserts so it was just bread today and we were able to butter away.

I walked up Sixth Avenue to the Museum of Modern Art to pick up tickets for the museum’s restoration of the movie, “Rosita” with Mary Pickford. This silent film had been all but lost until a print was found in Germany. Most of Mary Pickford’s films were destroyed by the actress herself who I had once read in biography that she did not want to see herself in old films. Pity, she would have been thrilled to see the theater was packed to the gills and they were turning people away.

I had lunch at Halal Guys food cart on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 53nd Street. I have been coming here for years and the lines for their food always keep increasing (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I had on of their combo sandwiches ($6.00), which is loaded with chopped chicken and gyro meat on a soft pita bread. It is so good and I highly recommend it when visiting the MoMA. It is nice to have a sandwich or one of their platters and just sit by the stone benches by the CBS Building and watch the world go by.

I started my walk of the Upper East Side with a walk through Central Park. On the way to the pathway into the park, I noticed a rather weird sculpture by British Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibane entitled “The Wind Sculpture”. The artist created this sculpture to replace a more radical sculpture that had been taken down. The theme behind the piece is tolerance and highlights global migration (The Guardian).

As you pass the Batik colored sculpture, you will enter the walk way to Central Park Zoo, one of the biggest tourist spots for kids in the City. The Zoo, which is now part of the Wildlife Conservatory, has been part of Central Park since the 1860’s and then was renovated again in 1934. The current park was designed in 1984 and was reopened in 1988.

Wind Sculpture.jpeg

The Wind Sculpture

Like the rest of Central Park in the 1970’s and 80’s, the place got run down. Now it is more open and naturalistic to the animals home environment. Don’t miss the seal tanks and the penguin room as I find those the most interesting to visit. Try to get to the seal feeding at 2:00pm when the seals are not too tired of looking at tourists. The gardens are nice along the perimeter of the zoo to just sit and relax on a warm sunny day.

One thing not to miss is the Delacorte Clock just outside of the park. Every half hour, the clock chimes and all the animals do a dance routine. It starts with two monkey’s hitting the bell and then the animals dance around the clock. There is an elephant, goat, bear, kangaroo, penguin and hippo that dance to songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and 24 other children’s songs. The clock was a gift from philanthropist George  T. Delacorte, who also donated to the park the “Alice in Wonderland” statue and the Delacorte Theater. It was designed by artist Fernando Texidor in partnership of architect Edward Coe Embury  and was dedicated in 1965 to Central Park. Try to get to the park to hear the songs and watch the animals dance.

Delacorte Clock.jpg

Delacorte Clock

I also took my first tour of the Tisch Children’s Zoo right next to the main zoo and this rather more mellow counterpart is more for younger children to see and pet smaller animals. Part of the original park, Lawrence Tisch saw to the renovations and it reopened in 1997. This is a great place for the under 12 crowd.

Between the late night ambulance calls and the work in the Soup Kitchen and the long walks the days before, I relaxed on a grassy knoll in the park near the Fifth Avenue entrance off East 66th Street. I just fell asleep next to a bunch of other people who also were falling asleep in the park. On a warm, sunny day under a shade tree, there is nothing like it. It is so relaxing to just look up at the trees and the sunshine and not believing you are still in the middle of a busy city. I can’t believe this is the same park of the 80’s when you didn’t dare enter. Just don’t do this late at night.

I walked up and around Fifth Avenue to East 72nd Street and walked back down on the park side. There are two interesting statues to take time to see. At Fifth Avenue and East 70th Street is the memorial to architect Robert Morris Hunt. Unveiled in 1893, this memorial was designed by Daniel Chester French, who was the sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Robert Morris Hunt designed some of the most prominent mansions during the ‘Gilded Age” and whose work is still a part of the New York City landscape.

The other sculpture is the memorial to the One Hundredth & Seventh Infantry at Fifth Avenue and East 67th Street. This memorial was designed by sculptor Carl Illava and was dedicated in 1927 to the City. It is in memory of the Seventh Regiment New York One Hundred and Seventh Infantry and you again can see the Armory on Park Avenue down the block.

Richard Morris Hunt.jpg

Richard Morris Hunt Memorial Central Park

Across the street from the Robert Morris Hunt Sculpture is the Frick Collection housed in the former home of industrialist Henry Clay Frick. The mansion is one of the last intact surviving “Gilded Age” mansions left on Fifth Avenue. It was designed by architect Thomas Hastings of Carrere & Hastings between 1912-1914 and was lived in by the family until Mrs. Frick’s death in 1931. The house and all its artwork was willed as a museum and since that time, it has been expanded to add a research library and now has travelling collections on top of their permanent collection that contains many “Old Masters”.

I set out to see the new “George Washington” exhibition on the creation of the statue for the Virginia State Capital that was destroyed by fire in the last century. All of the models and drawings were accompanying the display to see how the work was created. After that, I just walked through the galleries to see all the paintings and sit by the fountain in the middle of the old house. The weather got to me and I left the City right after visiting the museum.

I finished my walk of this part of the neighborhood after another day in the Soup Kitchen on May 30th. I was lucky that there were so many people at the Soup Kitchen volunteering that I got put on the Spoon station wrapping spoons. I needed that after the week of walking around that I did.

There was a restaurant I wanted to try for lunch that I had passed when walking around First Avenue earlier in the visit, New Wong Asian Food Inc. at 1217 First Avenue between East 65th and 66th Streets (See review on TripAdvisor). This little Chinese ‘hole in the wall’ caters alot to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital crowd and seeing the lunch in front of one of the hospital workers, I order the same thing, the General Tso’s Chicken lunch special with fried rice ($7.85).

I thought it was a little to American even for me. It was a large portion of tempura-like fried chicken pieces in a sauce that had not flavor to it. I mean none! It looked so good on the plate that I ordered it because of the worker and someone else ordered it because they saw it on my plate. It looked good but it was so over-fried and under spiced I would suggest not ordering it.

It was a sunny warm day and I decided to double back to see some of the sites I had passed earlier and visit some of the small museums and galleries, like the Asian Society at 725 Park Avenue, the Americas Society Gallery at 680 Park Avenue and the Museo Casnova at 686 Park Avenue. I also revisited some of the sites on Park, Madison and Fifth Avenues ended my day at Glaser’s Bake Shop at 1670 First Avenue (See many reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). This meant that I had to try a few things like the Lemon Crumb Danish ($3.00) and the Kitchen Sink Stuffed Cookie ($3.50). After all that walking, I figured I could walk this all off.

My last part of the day before going home I just relaxed at Carl Schurz Park at East 84th Street. I just ate my dessert and walked the boats go by. On a warm sunny late afternoon, there is nothing like sitting in the park and watching the river traffic go by and people walk their dogs and kids play in the playground (See reviews in earlier blogs). Who says the Twitter generation does not have fun? I did not see many cellphones out while the kids were chasing one another around. By the way, they did finish that luxury building across the river in Queens next to the housing projects.

As I passed Park Avenue and East 72nd Street, I saw an unusual sculpture in the Park Avenue Mall by artist Tony Cragg made of fiberglass with the most unusual spirals called “Hammerhead 2017”. This British artist has been working with uses a form of mixed materials and is part of the “Art in the Park” program. Don’t miss this geometrical sculpture on the mall.

Tony Cragg Park Avenue statue.jpg

Tony Cragg Sculpture Park Avenue

I did walk from York Avenue and East 84th Street back to Port Authority on West 42nd Street. Along the way at the very edge of the neighborhood, there is the famous hotels, The Pierre at 2 61st Street, where I had once worked for a week in college in the sales department and the Sherry-Netherland at 781 Fifth Avenue. These start the upscale hotels and stores of Fifth Avenue until about East 50th Street. I was exhausted by the time I hit the East 59th Street.

Still it is an interesting neighborhood, loaded with small museums, parks, stores and public art. That’s why these entries are getting longer as there is so much more to see and so much more time to spend walking around.

Hey, I had to work off the Chinese meal, two pastries, two protein bars and three Cokes. I need to buy stock in Coca Cola.

 

 

Places to Eat:

Go Noodle

1069 First Avenue

New York, NY  10022

Phone: (212) 888-6366/5995

Fax: (212) 888-4244

http://www.gonoodleninemoon.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4369518-Reviews-Go_Noodle-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Halal Guys

Corner of Sixth Avenue & West 53nd Street

Located all over the city in carts and shopss

http://www.halalguys.com

Hours vary

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3491934-Reviews-The_Halal_Guys-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

 

New Wong Asian Food Inc.

1217 First Avenue

New York, NY  10065

Phone: (212) 517-7798/7898 & Fax (212) 517-2988

Open: Sunday: 11:00am-10:30pm/Monday-Saturday: 11:00am-10:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

 

Glaser’s Bake Shop

1670 First Avenue

New York, NY 10128

(212) 289-2652

Open: Closed Monday’s

Monday-Friday: 7:00am-7:00pm

Saturday: 8:00am-7:00pm/ Sunday: 8:00am-3:00pm

http://www.glaserbakeshop.com

(Now Closed)

 

Places to Visit:

24 Sycamore Trees Park

501 East 60th Street

New York, NY  10022

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/twenty-four-sycamores-park/history

St. Catherine’s Park

1st Avenue between East 67th and East 68th Streets

New York, NY 10022

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/st-catherines-park

Carl Schurz Park

York Avenue and East 84th Street

New York, NY  10022

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/carl-schurz-park

Dylan’s Candy Bar

1011 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10065

(645) 735-0048

http://www.dylanscandybar.com

Monday-Thursday: 10:00am-9:00pm

Friday-Saturday: 10:00am-11:00pm

Sunday: 10:00am-9:00pm

https://www.dylanscandybar.com/

Bloomingdale’s

1000 Third Avenue

59th Street at Lexington Avenue

New York, NY 10065

http://www.bloomingdales.com

Monday-Thursday: 10:00am-8:30pm

Friday-Saturday: 10:00am-9:30pm

Sunday: 11:00am-9:00pm

https://www.bloomingdales.com/buy/new-york-city

Seventh Regiment Armory

643 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10065

(212) 696-3930

info@armoryatpark.org

https://www.snf.org/en/grants/grantees/s/seventh-regiment-armory-conservancy,-inc-(park-avenue-armory)/

The Frick Collection

One East 70th Street

New York, NY  10021

(212) 288-0700

Hours:

Sundays: 11:00am-5:00pm

Monday’s: Closed

Tuesday-Saturday: 10:00am-6:00pm

https://www.frick.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d107466-Reviews-Frick_Collection-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2655

Museo Canova/Institute of Italian Culture

686 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10021

(212) 879-4242

Open: Monday-Friday: 8:00am-4:00pm/Closed Saturday and Sunday

http://www.iicnewyork.esteri.it/iic_newyork/en/

Americas Society

680 Park Avenue

New York, NY  10065

(212) 628-3200

http://www.as.coa.org

Open: Wednesday-Saturday: 12:00am-6:00pm/ Closed Sunday-Tuesday

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d548518-Reviews-Americas_Society-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2144

Asian Society and Museum

725 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10021

(212) 288-6400

http://www.asiasociety.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d136164-Reviews-Asia_Society_and_Museum-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VistingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2110

All the sculptures I mentioned all over the neighborhood are available to see all day long.

 

Day One Hundred & Eleven: Participating in Pump Operations Class with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department May 18th-20th, 2018

I put aside “MywalkinManhattan” for the weekend to concentrate of Pump Operations Classes that was sponsored by the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department. I have been a Volunteer Firefighter for thirteen years (as of June 12th) and this is one of of the many classes I have taken over the years.

First off, I am hardly ‘Joe Fireman’. Most of my friends wanted to know why ‘preppie’ me wanted to be a fireman. The answer to that was easy. I think it had always been a part of me. At a young age, I used to look up to the firemen who used to come visit us in elementary school. Then it was looking at the Richard Scary comics on professions that you might want to be when you got older. I remember looking at the artist, chef and fireman motifs on the cats and wondering what they would all be like (which I do and have done all three).

9/11 changed a lot for me. When I was working in Monterey, California during the tragic events of that day, I saw the bravery and dedication in the guys on the FDNY had and all the volunteers that came the days after. I wrote about my fears and triumphs in my novel, “Firehouse 101” (IUniverse.com 2005). It was funny that just as I was publishing the book, I joined the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ as a member. Here I am thirteen years later still dragging myself out of bed all the time for calls.

Getting back to Pump Operations Training,  this was the first time I ever really learned how to do this. I had seen it on drills but not to this detail where we talked about hose connections, velocity of pressure of the hose and drafting. This was a combination of both lecture and practical and we participated in hooking everything up to the engine and how to turn the equipment on and off.  The second of practical, we drafted water into the engine from a local pond to learn how to get the pressure, pull water from a water source and how to flow it through the engine to the fire.

Pump Class Group Shot

It was a three day eye-opener that got the ‘light-bulb’ in my head moving to how the operation worked and the cause and effects of water to the source of the fire.

I swear, you never stop learning in life.

Day One Hundred & Ten: Walking the border of the lower part of the Upper East Side from East 72nd Street to East 59th Street from Fifth Avenue to FDR Drive May 5, 2018

I decided to take a long walk up Fifth Avenue from the Chelsea when I finished at Soup Kitchen today. I was exhausted from working in the prep kitchen again. I don’t know why I just don’t skip it and concentrate on the walk but I am very proud to say that I have achieved one of my goals there.

I have exceeded the 2000 hour volunteer threshold. That was a big accomplishment for me as I reached the 1000 hour threshold back in 2011 ( I made the 500 hour threshold in 2007 since joining the Soup Kitchen as a volunteer in 2003). In the old days, that would have meant a silver bowl on accomplishment. Now it means just cut more vegetables and meat.

I got off to a late start on a somewhat gloomy day but it was still warm out and gave me time to really walk the border of the neighborhood. Since I had already done Fifth Avenue, both sides from East 59th Street to East 72nd Street, I decided to walk to East 72nd Street along Fifth again facing the park.

The park is finally coming to life after a cool Spring. It has been odd weather lately. It is either unbearably hot or cloudy and cool. We even had snow in parts of Northern New Jersey three weeks ago. That was really odd this time of year. Now that it is May, Central Park is starting to burst with color and the daffodils and tulips are coming out ahead of their New Jersey counterparts. Flowers always seem to bloom quicker in the park than in the suburbs.

I walked from Fifth Avenue across East 72nd Street past many of the buildings that I had seen before and even in a month, there are some new businesses opening up in the lower 70’s and more buildings slated to come down. As I had commented before, all of the Avenues of the Upper East Side are in a somewhat state of flux. You never know which block will come down next and be replaced by something else.

As I entered East 72nd Street to the end of the street by FDR Drive, it stops in front of those interesting brownstones painted black, which makes them stand out and the dead end with the scenic view and benches right by the hospital.  You have to turn around and go up two blocks to walk along the Promenade by FDR Drive. You have to walk up to East 74th Street get to the bridge to get you across to the walkway.

There is a small amount of sidewalk between East 74th Street and East 72nd Street but please don’t walk it! There is barely enough room to walk and you are about a foot from the highway and these cars zoom by. Don’t make the attempt! Just walk up the two blocks and you will walk twenty blocks of skyline on Roosevelt Island. On a beautiful day, there is nothing like the view of the East River as the boats pass by.

Once crossing the passage over the FDR Drive, you can walk along the East River on a beautiful day while admiring the buildings on Roosevelt Island. Once you reach the end of it, you are greeted by the ‘East River Roundout’, a park that ends the walkway for now as the rest of the park project is being completed between East 58th and East 60th Streets.

Look up at the spiral structure above the park that was created by artist, Alice Aycock, an American artist known for her large metal sculptures and was an early artist in the ‘land art’ movement (Wiki). The ‘East River Roundout’, her 1995 sculpture sits aside the Queensboro Bridge, shows much creative imagination and whimsical ideas of how space can used. Take time to follow the twists and turns, almost like a roller coaster was inspired by the artist’s love of Fred Astaire’s dancing of almost weightless motion.

The structure is part of the bigger complex of Andew Haswell Green Park, which was dedicated to the city in 1994. The park represented much needed green space in this part of Manhattan. The park is currently in transition as there is more being added to it but after a long walk down the East River, it has nice benches and flowers and a good place to relax. The flowers were just coming into bloom so it look beautiful.

Andrew Haswell Green Park.jpg

Andrew Haswell Green Park

Andrew Haswell Green, whom the park is named after, was a 19th Century Urban Planner who among his many accomplishments was one of the key figures in getting such iconic tourist attractions as Riverside Park, Central Park, the Bronx Zoo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. He was even the inspiration for the 1898 consolidation of the five boroughs of New York (Wiki). I think that deserves a park being named after him.

The former heliport and  waste transfer station is becoming a thing of beauty in a much congested area of the neighborhood. As you walk down East 59th Street, you will see how the bridge twists and turns its way around the street. The is some beautiful art work attached to the bridge so try not to miss that. Just don’t try walking on the bridge side of the road as there is no sidewalk and I would not risk the traffic.

To your right starts famous Sutton Place, where most of ‘Old New York Society’ moved after all the old mansions came down. From a distance, you can see all the elegant apartment buildings. To the north of it, the ‘ever changing to new buildings’ York Avenue, in which blocks uptown is going through a building boom.

When passing Second Avenue and East 59th Street, you pass Tramway Plaza, a small park that leads to the Roosevelt Island Tram. This is a trip on a nice day you should not miss (See my review on it on TripAdvisor and on ‘Day Ninety-Five’ of MywalkinManhattan.com). The view is amazing especially the sky views as you enter Manhattan from Roosevelt Island. The views of the skyline are fantastic.

Tramway Park

Tramway Park

I had to stop at Bloomingdale’s on the corner of Third Avenue and East 59th Street for a bathroom break. It is one of the few places until you hit Central Park to go to the bathroom in the neighborhood.

The store has changed so much over the years but I still remember it as the place I had my first epiphany of what I wanted to do for a living. It was 1980 and I was a sophomore in high school and went with my mother and my family to see the “China at Bloomingdale’s” festival event. When I walked in the store and saw all the beautiful merchandise and Chinese dancers on the top of display cases, Chinese music and artifacts in the display cases, I knew I wanted to be in retailing.

The store no longer resembles that moment and in fact tries to be more like Saks Fifth Avenue. Still the store has a soft spot for me and I still love roaming the floors at the holidays. Plus they have several floors of public bathrooms and you don’t want to miss Forty Carrots, their casual restaurant on the top floor for frozen yogurt.

As I exited Bloomingdale’s, I walked the rest of East 59th Street to Central Park and then the length of Central Park West to Columbus Circle and back to Plaza Hotel the around the southern tip of Central Park. The weather started to get gloomy but I continued on.

Most of the livery cabs I passed were standing around gossiping with one another. They are getting more and more expensive. A ride for $100? You got to be kidding me. I am not surprised that the tourists are balking at this. You just don’t see them as busy as they once were.

I took the long trip now back up East 59th Street and walked back up the way I came, passing the all the sites but from the other side of East 59th Street. There are some interesting restaurants and shops I will have to explore while by the underneath path of the Queensboro Bridge. They seemed to have taken the underpart of the bridge and renovated it.

As I walked up the path facing the East River, I could see further up the river to all the areas I explored and though. I really have covered half the island at this point.

I reached East 72nd Street and with plenty of time to spare, I walked through Central Park and over to the Upper West Side. There were some places that I still wished to explore and I wanted to find that elusive brownstone by the American Museum of Natural History that I wanted to admire again. I found it at 233 West 83rd Street. Really admire the entrance way of the house.

To finish the day off, I visited Malachy’s Donegal Inn bar on 103 West 72nd Street (See TripAdvisor reviews and my blog “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for dinner. I had wanted to try the restaurant one more time before leaving the neighborhood. It was a busy night at the bar with the NBA playoffs and a room full of Boston ex-patriots cheering on the Celtics. I never knew what people from Boston who now live in New York City think of New York City. They were still talking about the Yankee-Red Sox games of 2004. Fourteen years still does not make a difference. It was a great series though.

Malachy's.jpg

Malachy’s Donegal Inn

I sat quietly in the corner eating my dinner. The one thing that I love about Malachy’s is that the food is so reasonable and they give you a nice size meal. I had their Chicken Fingers and Chips ($8.95 plus Cokes-two large breaded cutlets and about a pound of French Fries) which were really good but the chicken could have been taken out of the fryer amount thirty seconds earlier. Otherwise, I could just about finish my meal it was so big. With about five Cokes in me after about a five mile walk, I started to feel much better.  You can always feel the vibe of this bar. Just like ‘Cheers’, the regulars really do size you up.

So this finished the border of the lower part of the Upper East Side and the middle part of the Upper West Side, so join me as I walk the Streets and Avenues of the lower part of the Upper East Side.

There’s a lot to see!

Places to eat:

Malachy’s Donegal Inn

103 West 72nd Street

New York, NY 10023

(212) 874-4268

Open: Sunday=Saturday-12:00pm-4:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d527768-Reviews-Malachy_s_Donegal_Inn-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/683

40 Carrots (Inside Bloomindale’s)

160 East 60th Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 705-3085

http://www.bloomingdales.com

Open: Monday-Saturday-10:00am-7:30pm/Sunday-11:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1995735-Reviews-40_Carrots-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

Bloomingdale’s

160 East 60th Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 705-3085

https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?sa=L&ai=DChcSEwijjonAy9ngAhWFiMgKHUpAAIMYABAAGgJxdQ&ohost=www.google.com&cid=CAASE-Rog5APTmFb14__KYlLfZJXF44&sig=AOD64_3FV-JiDMzOhQpKSHwSA2xkAoTYIw&q=&ved=2ahUKEwj4qIPAy9ngAhXyUd8KHYnUBl0Q0Qx6BAgSEAE&adurl=

Andrew Haswell Green Park (with sculpture by Alice Aycock)

East 60th Street

New York, NY 10023

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/andrew-haswell-green-park/highlights

Tramway Plaza Park (Tram to Roosevelt Island)

Second Avenue@59th Street

New York, NY  10023

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/tramway-plaza

 

 

Day One Hundred & Nine: Touring the historic homes and museums for the Eighth Annual History Day of the Northwest Bergen History Coalition

I put “MywalkinManhattan” on hold for a few days as the local activities in New Jersey started to take up my time. There is so much to see and do as the weather is getting warmer.

The Northwest Bergen History Coalition every year gives people the opportunity to visit almost a dozen different historical sites in the upper part of Bergen County, NJ and take the time to tour and explore all the sites with the help of trained docents and volunteers who take immense pride in showing off their site all for the low price of $10.00 ($15.00 the day of the event). Be prepared to drive though because all the sites can be a distance from one another. Also, have a a game plan because there is no way you can see everything in one day. You will only have from 10:00am-4:00pm so plan to visit the remaining sites at another time.

This year’s theme was “How Immigration & the Railroad Shaped our Towns”, so all the exhibits were on the immigration of the area and how it shaped the individual town’s population.

“The towns in Northwest Bergen County were settled in the 18th Century by immigrants from countries in Europe and Africa. Through the centuries the number of countries grew. Today, we have been enriched by immigrants from all over the world. The railroad came to Northwest Bergen in the mid-19th century, bringing with it jobs, prosperity and immigrants. Come see how immigrants and the railroad helped to define what would become our modern towns of today.” was the prospective of the days event.

Since I had toured most of the historic homes and museums to the south of the region, I planned my day to the northern part of the county. I bought my ticket way in advance at the Ridgewood Schoolhouse Museum (featured on my blog, “VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com and reviewed on TripAdvisor) when I was viewing the “Thread of Life” exhibition, which you should not miss that is showing through December of 2018. It explores life of the era’s family life through clothing.

I planned an early morning and started my Saturday at the Majestic Diner  at 1045 Route 17 South in Ramsey, NJ. This way I would be close to my first site, The Old Stone House in Ramsey, NJ. The food at the Majestic Diner I would highly recommend because I really enjoyed my breakfast there.

The diner does all their baking on premise and I had one of their homemade ‘Pop-Tarts’ ($3.75) to start the meal. These freshly baked pastries resemble their commercial counterparts. The outside was a flaky pastry crust with a thick white icing and a powdering of cinnamon and the inside was loaded with a thick layer of a cinnamon mixture. Decadent yes but well worth it. You have to try this version of the sweet treat.

Breakfast itself match in creativity and quality. I ordered the Brioche French Toast with a side of homemade sausage. The one thing I liked about the Majestic Diner is that the portion sizes are not huge and over-whelming. It was just the right amount for breakfast. The French Toast was made out of brioche and it was perfect (See review on TripAdvisor). They cooked it with a crisp outside and soft inside. As I was eating, I saw the omelettes going by and that was for another time. What was nice about breakfast was that it kept me content for the rest of the afternoon. There would be a lot of running around.

My first stop was at The Old Stone House at 538 Island Road in Ramsey, NJ (See review on VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). This obscure little Dutch home sits on a bend on a hill hidden by trees off a very busy section of Route 17 South and by looking at it, you never would have guessed that it was once home to a 300 acre farm. This is the oldest building in Ramsey and was built from a combination of rubble stone, clay mortar, chopped straw and hog’s hair. The home dates back to 1740 and is run by the Ramsey Historical Society (RHS).

Old Stone House.jpg

The Old Stone House

The house is credited to being built by members of the Westervelt family for brothers Uriah and Ruloff Westervelt, who leased the land in 1744. There is a feeling that there had been a house on the property at the time they leased the land. The land had been part of the Ramapough Tract for Proprietors. Other members of the Westerfelt family are though to have had influence in the building of the house as well maybe back earlier (RHS).

The Ramapough tract situated between the Ramapo Mountains and Saddle River was purchased from the Indians on November 18,1709 and acknowledged by the Indians at Tappan before Cornelius Harring, the Justice of the Peace (RHS).

The house had been through many owners since and the land around it diminished over time with each owner. In 1950, the building of Route 17 South, made the lot even smaller and destroyed the spring and stream that were once part of the land around the house. Both the Schweizer family and the Labosky families, who were the last two owners of the house, which the Labosky family sold to the state in 1955, operated an antique shop that is now part of the house that faces Route 17 (RHS).

The house is furnished in period furniture and the barn outside is stocked with all sorts of equipment for early Dutch farming from the era. When you tour the house with the historians, they will point out where the fireplaces once were and the original wooden floors that line the house. Upstairs where the bedrooms once were are both Children’s displays of an old schoolhouse and a toy exhibition. In the downstairs area, there are two displays to the War Years and the old antique shop is set up like a general store. The sites next big fundraiser will be the Sinterklaas event in December for a Dutch Christmas.

Old Stone House II.jpg

Old Stone House Barn

My second stop of the historical tour was the Hopper-Goetschius House and Museum at 363 East Saddle River Road in Upper Saddle River, NJ, run by the Upper Saddle River Historical Society (USRHS).  This historic home dates back to 1739 for the original part of the house, which has since been added onto three more times and still kept its historic look even into the 1980’s when the last resident moved out.

Hopper-Goetschius Museum

Hopper-Goetschius House & Garden

The property houses several buildings that were part of the original house like the outhouse, out kitchen and beehive oven. Other historic buildings that were threatened with being knocked down by developers have since been resembled and brought the property that include a woodshed, a tenant house, the Ramsey Sayer House,  a Dutch barn, the Van Riper-Tice Barn and a working blacksmith shop. That part of the property toward the back part of the farmhouse looks like a mini-village and volunteers were working each of the buildings when I was there.

The Hopper-Goetschius House on the corner of Lake Street and East Saddle River Road dates back to 1739. Built by the Hopper family, it is the oldest remaining house in Upper Saddle River, NJ. The Saddle River Historical Society knew it existed in 1739 because it was recorded in surveryor Charles Clinton’s journal and possibly it is older. It was also marked as the home of Gerrit Hoppa on a rough sheepskin map made about 1713. The Hoppers farmed the land and had a lot of it. The property extended from the Saddle River up the hill almost to Montvale, NJ and up to the East Road in Upper Saddle River (USRHS).

The house underwent several changes in the mid-1800’s. The large central chimney with back to back fireplaces was removed. Probably with more modern forms of heating available, such as wooden stoves, the fireplace seemed a bit old-fashioned and the owners took it out. They wanted to use the entrance hall as a room, so the stairway along the east wall was removed and a central stairway added where the fireplaces had once been. The dormers were added in the Victorian era (USRHS). Don’t miss the secret stairs in the kitchen that lead to the old second floor which houses a few bedrooms. It is one of the unique features of the house.

In 1814, the house became the home of the Reverend Stephen Goetschius of the Old Stone Church. It remained in the Goetschius family for a century and a half, always a place of central importance in town as Stephen Goetschius, the great-great grandson of the Reverend Stephen, served as the borough clerk for over 40 years and conducted his town business from the east room of the house (USRHS).

The house was without running water until Stephen’s death in 1962. Until improvements were made at that time, Stephen’s wife, Lizzie, carried water from the well for washing, cooking and shoveled coal for heat (USRHS).

In 1985, the Hopper-Goetschius House was presented to the Borough of Upper Saddle River by Clinton and Gracie Carlough. Lizzie Goetschius, the last resident of the house was Clint Carlough’s aunt. The house today serves as a museum, run by the Upper Saddle River Historical Society (USRHS) and offers the public historically  related events through out the year (USRHS). Check out their website, http://www.usrhistoricalsociety.org for special events and check out their Annual Harvest Festival in October for a day of fun.

I double backed around the county to the Mahwah Museum at 201 Franklin Turnpike in Mahwah, NJ and the the sister museum, The Old Station Museum at 171 Old Station Lane just south of the main museum. What I like about  these museums is that it does not take long to tour them and they sponsor interesting exhibitions that feature local history that do not tax you with lengthy displays and loads of reading. They keep everything interesting, factual and get to the point.

Mahwah Museum.jpg

Mahwah Museum

Having been to the Mahwah Museum earlier that month, I wanted to concentrate on the The Old Station Museum. This historic train station was built in 1871 and was used for years until the modern station was built. Behind the building, there is a 1929 Erie Line Caboose that you can walk through that shows the life on the railroad and the use of the caboose on a railroad.

Old Station MuseumIII.jpg

The Old Station Museum in Mahwah, NJ

The museum has a interesting collection of items from the Pullman era that includes china and menus. There is a collection of trains and interesting items including maps from the era when Mahwah was major point of the railroad in the area.

The next stop on my journey as I drove south through Bergen County was the Waldwick Signal Tower at 1 Bohnert Place in Waldwick, NJ and the sister museum of the Waldwick Museum of Local History at 4 Hewson Avenue in Waldwick, NJ right by the current train station. These are part of the Waldwick Historical Society (WHS).

Waldwick Signal Tower.jpg

The Waldwick Signal Tower

The Erie Railroad Interlocking Tower “WC” was built in 1890 by the New York Lake Erie and Western Railroad the tower in on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a symbol of the overall impact of the railroad industry on the Waldwick area. The tower is constructed in a Queen Anne style and other than a few minor maintenance shortcuts, the tower looks as it did when constructed nearly 130 years ago (WHS).

The tower still controlled traffic but as the railroads modernized with radio communications, automatic block control and other labor saving ideas the need for the number of towers on the line was reduced until 1986, when most of the towers outside major hub such as Jersey City were closed. During the last few decades, the tower was only manned during the day (WHS).

It is believed that this is the last standing tower of six built to this design. The two closest known examples in the area were in Ramsey, NJ and Suffern, NY, both having been torn down. The tower is named in honor of Harvey Springstead, one of the most famous engineers on the New York Division of the Erie from 1910 until 1929 and a key citizen of Waldwick (WHS).

The downstairs houses a small display of railroad deeds from the various railroads that used to operate in this part of Bergen County and the upstairs has a collection of railroad artifacts as well as pictures of the renovation of the tower.

I did a circle around the tracks and stopped at the Waldwick Museum of Local History at 4 Hewson Avenue which is located in the restored 1887 Waldwick Railroad and opened in 2016. It is part of the Waldwick Community Alliance.

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The Waldwick Museum

The Society was started by member Doug Cowie in 1977 with the purpose to lobby for the placement of the train station on the National Register of Historic Places in order to save it. With the formation of the Society, the station was placed on the registry.

It is noted that these railroad lines are what brought the new population of immigrants to upper Bergen County at the turn of the last century and why these towns had a building boom before and after World War II.

The museum has an interesting exhibition on the immigration to the area due to railroad transportation. There are historical items as furniture and clothing and train memorabilia. The history of the rails is well represented at the museum.  Members of the museum were on hand to give a personal tour.

My last historical place I visited was The Museum at the Station at 176 Rock Road in Glen Rock. The museum is manged by the Glen Rock Historical Society and is housed inside the original 1905 Erie Main Line Train Station on Rock Road.

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Museum at the Station at Glen Rock, NJ

The Museum showcases items from Glen Rock’s past with displays that change periodically as well as permanent exhibits on the Erie Railroad and artifacts from Glen Rock’s farming history (BCHS).

When I visited it was at the end of the day so I was the ladies last guest. The members of the Society took me around the museum which has a interesting exhibition on immigration and how it affected Glen Rock and how it grew as a town. Many of the items are historic family items donated member of the Glen Rock community including clothing and furniture. They had the most interesting Victrola with the original records and period clothing. One resident donated an interesting collection of antique toys including many trains.

While in Glen Rock, I visited the famous Glen ‘Rock’, located right off the downtown at the intersection of Rock Road and Doremus Avenue, which the town is named.  The Rock was pulled to the town by the last Ice Age and was a meeting place and marker for the Lenape Indians when they lived in the area. In the Colonial era, it was a meeting place for residents. There have been many legends about the power of the Rock.

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Glen Rock ‘Rock’

Dinner that night was a revisit to Mahwah to have pizza at Kinchley’s Tavern at 586 North Franklin Turnpike in Ramsey, NJ, for one of their thin crusted pizzas (See review on TripAdvisor). This is one of the oldest restaurants in this part of upper Bergen County and has been on my must try list for about two years.

First off, the place is mobbed all the time. I have heard that people swear by their pizza. It is different from the usual Neapolitan pies that I try all over Bergen County. Kinchley’s specializes in thin-crusted pizzas, more of what people would call a ‘bar pizza’.  The 12 inch pizza can be easily eaten by one person if they are hungry and the sausage pizza I ordered was loaded with sweet Italian sausage. One thing Kinchley’s doesn’t do is skimp on the ingredients.

The pizza was cooked to a crisp consistency and was devoured quickly after a long day of touring. The restaurant is a great family restaurant with a good vibe. It was like going back in time to the 70’s when going out to dinner with your family was a treat and a rite of the summer. I highly recommend a visit there at least once when visiting Bergen County.

Until next year! Don’t miss this event every year in May!

 

Places to Visit:

The Old Stone House Museum

The Ramsey Historical Society

538 Island Road

Ramsey, NJ  07446

(201) 327-2655

http://www.RamseyHistorical.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2026

 

Hopper-Goetschius House Museum

Upper Saddle River Historical Society

245 Lake Street

Upper Saddle River, NJ  07458

(201) 327-8644

http://www.usrhistoricalsociety.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46882-d14048029-Reviews-Hopper_Goetschius_Museum-Upper_Saddle_River_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VistingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2030

 

The Old Station  Museum

The Mahwah Museum

171 Old Station Lane

Mahwah, NJ 07430

http://www.mahwahmuseum.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46590-d9819566-Reviews-Mahwah_Museum-Mahwah_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseeum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/437

 

Waldwick Signal Tower

1 Bohnert Place

Waldwick, NJ  07463

wctower@optimum.net

http://allaboardwaldwick.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46892-d10366154-Reviews-Erie_Railroad_Signal_Tower-Waldwick_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2019

 

Waldwick Museum of Local History

4 Hewson Avenue

Waldwick, NJ 07463

(201) 873-8919

http://www.WaldwickMuseum.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46892-d14049026-Reviews-Waldwick_Museum_of_Local_History-Waldwick_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2015

 

The Museum at the Station

176 Rock Road

Glen Rock, NJ  07452

(201) 342-3268

http://www.GlenRockHistory.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46466-d14048001-Reviews-The_Museum_at_the_Station-Glen_Rock_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2022

 

Places to Eat:

Majestic Diner

1045 State Route 17

Ramsey, NJ  07446

(201) 962-8750

Eatmajestic@gmail.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46762-d7283920-Reviews-Majestic_Diner-Ramsey_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Kinchley’s Tavern

586 North Franklin Turnpike

Ramsey, NJ  07446

(201) 934-7777

https://www.kinchleyspizza.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46762-d540429-Reviews-Kinchley_s_Tavern-Ramsey_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

 

 

Day One Hundred and Eight: Walking the Streets of the Upper West Side between West 72nd Street and West 84th Street March 15th-April 15th, 2018

Walking the Streets of the Upper West Side was harder than I thought because there is a treasure trove of historical spots and buildings all over the neighborhood. Here and there is a plaque or a statue that had gone unnoticed or a beautiful carving on a building that just catches my eye.  You look hard enough and there is another plaque to someone famous or a garden that ‘pops up’ out of no where. If you blink, you might miss something.

I started my day working the beverage station at Soup Kitchen. Being the middle of the month, we started getting busy again. The chef made a type of stew that was very popular with the guests and we were busy that afternoon. I was tired by the end of the afternoon but ready to go.

I stopped at Taco Bandito at 325 Eighth Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for a quick snack for lunch. I spent $2.90 on a Chicken Fajita with Guacamole. The restaurant’s food is cooked to order and is really good. It is spicy and everything I have tried there has some kick to it. The best part of their menu is that everything is under $10.00. Check it out my blog, ‘DiningonaShoeString in NYC@Wordpress.com for my article on the restaurant. It is a local gem by the Fashion Institute of Technology.

I started the walk on West 72nd Street visiting a lot of the places I had visited  when walking the borders of the neighborhood. There were a lot of stores to revisit and restaurant menus to look over. Being a nice but cool day, I wanted to walk around Riverside Park.

I passed the Eleanor Roosevelt Statue again at the corner of Riverside Drive and West 72nd Street and really looked at it again as I was relaxing on the benches. The artist really did a nice job with the statue and it is a nice place to stop and relax. The flowers were starting to pop up as the weather was getting warmer. As I left this part of the neighborhood in the late spring, the dogwood and cherry trees came into bloom and the surrounding area of the memorial is quite spectacular.

Eleanor Roosevelt Statue.jpg

Eleanor Roosevelt Statue in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side

As I crossed onto the Streets off Riverside Drive to West End Avenue, the area is part of the West End Historical Society and much of the area is landmarked all the way to Broadway. On the blocks between Riverside Drive to West End Avenue from West 72nd to West 84th Streets the whole area is in two historical zones, the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historical District (from West 95th Street to West 62nd Street from Central Park West to Broadway & Amsterdam Avenue in some parts) and Riverside-West End Avenue Historical District (West 108th Street to West 70th Street to Broadway). This is the reason why I think that the Upper West Side has not seen the changes of the Upper East Side. So much land marking.

One of the most beautiful buildings on West 73rd Street across the street from the Ansonia Apartments is the Apple Savings Bank at 2100-2108 Broadway, the former Central Saving Bank Building. This elegant graceful bank sits on the tip of the northern part of Verdi Park in the Italian Renaissance palazzo style by the firm of York & Sawyer. The grillwork was done by Samuel Yellin, the master casting iron maker of the 1920’s. He did all the iron work of the grilles, doors, gates and lanterns. The rooms are vaulted look was said by the bank to be a ‘noble building’ (Wiki). From the outside, admire the stone and grill work around the building especially facing the park.

Apple Savings Bank.jpg

Apple Savings Bank Building on Broadway

The Park Royal Building is another elegant building near The Dakota on West 72nd floor. The building was built in 1928 by architect George F. Pelham as a type of apartment/hotel with maid service for the residents and restaurant service. It was a new concept of hotel amenities given to apartment dwellers. The building has wonderful views of the park and the apartment owners were able to design their apartments.  The lower level is in limestone and the upper part of the building is made of a golden-colored tapestry brick. It is now a luxury cooperative (Park Royal history). Admire it from the other side of the street to see all the striking details of the building.

Park Royale Building.jpg

The Park Royal Building

The West End Collegiate Historic District which runs from West 79th Street to West 74th Street from Broadway to Riverside Drive (the extension is from West 79th Street to West 70th Street) is full unique buildings with the center is the Collegiate Church on the corner of West End Avenue and West 75th Street.

Don’t miss the new artwork by artist Kathy Ruttenburg on the traffic island at West 79th Street and Broadway named “Ms. Mighty Mouse”. This whimsical statue has its own interpretation and I am not sure if its empowerment or just  taking control of the situation. Either way, don’t miss seeing the statue while it is here.

Miss Mighty Mouse.jpg

Miss Mighty Mouse by artist Kathy Ruttenberg

The West End Collegiate Church is the center of this district. The church was designed in Dutch Colonial style by the firm of McKim, Mead and White in 1893. The church was built to attract old Knickerbocker families in the city as well as give the local residents with a sense of history to the church and its Dutch background(Collegiate website). The church has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows with armorial designs based on Dutch provinces. The church has since expanded in the neighborhood.

At 33 Riverside Drive, there is a plaque dedicated to Ira Gershwin, the famous American composer,  when he lived  here and wrote some of his most famous songs. He lived in a three bedroom penthouse in the building from 1929-1933 and wrote ‘Girl Crazy’, ‘Of thee I Sing’ and ‘Let’em East Cake’ while living here (on the plaque). The apartment went on the market in 2015 for six million dollars.

Between 128-132 West 75th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue take a look up and look at the entrance way of buildings and in the carvings by the entrance at 128 West 75th Street, you will see what appear to be two angels inside the flaps of both sides of the doorway. Look at the detailed carvings of these buildings and you will see stone work that I have not seen in any of my travels in the neighborhood.

Rounding the streets at West 76th, there is a building at 132 West 76th Street with the most interesting stonework. Look at the way the statuary sticks out on the brownstone and the way it was carved. It is beautiful and unusual at the same time. It looks like a butterfly wing. I wonder how many people walk by this every day and never really notice it?

The homes in this part of the Upper West Side between Central Park and Riverside Park really are interesting the brownstones really have their own designs and many are not your typical ‘row houses’ as they have different types of stonework designs on them. You will see the most elegant stonework lining these buildings that have been sandblasted and detailed back to life. People here have really invested in their homes and decorated them nicely with potted plants and trees.

Take time to stop at the Tecumseh Playground at Amsterdam and West 78th Street, with its colorful murals and interesting playground. There is a lot to see and if you have kids, it is a lot of fun.  Don’t miss walking through the park which is flanked by an interesting mural of ‘out west’ on the wall and the unique ‘jungle gyms’ designed like buildings and cars. I got such a kick at watching the kids of all ages running around the park and the parents talking amongst themselves. It still gives me faith that all kids are not glued to their phones.

The park is named after Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) who after graduating from West Point in 1840, served in California and the Mexican-American War.

Sherman Playground.jpg

Sherman Playground

Sherman was appointed to brigadier general of volunteers in 1861 and fought at Bull Run and Shiloh. Promoted to major general in 1862, he distinguished himself in the Vicksburg and Chattanooga campaigns of 1863. Sherman blazed a trail of destruction as his troops seized Atlanta, marched to the sea and headed north through the Carolinas. He received surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston on April 26, 1865. This deserves at least a playground and much more (NYC Parks).

When you are heading back to Riverside Park, remember not to miss the Hamilton Fountain on Riverside Drive between West 76th and 77th Streets and the Neufeld Playground right inside the park if you need to use the bathrooms before 5:00pm. As the weather got warmer, the daffodils and crocuses were starting to come into bloom. Take time to relax here and walk into the park to see the Hudson River before the leaves start (read more about this in the Avenues section of the Upper West Side).

When rounding West 78th Street, admire the architecture on the whole block. There are graceful brownstones between West End Avenue and Riverside Park and between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenue. Really look up at the stonework and the carvings on these buildings before the scaffolding goes back up and they are sandblasted again.

On West 79th Street, two things really stood out, the Banksy “Hammer Boy” mural on the side of the wall near Broadway, which the neighbors are trying to save and is under Plexiglas and so noted by the artist. He looks like he his about the hammer the FDNY’s standpipe.

Hammer Boy.jpg

Hammer Boy

The other is the gorgeous Baptist Church at 265 West 79th Street. Take time to look at its stained  glass windows and curvature in the design. The church was built in 1890 by George M. Keister, who later built the Apollo Theater. It sits on what was a bend in the Avenue and can be seen on the way downtown. The stained glass shows God as the center of the New Testament Church and shows Him as the Bright and Morning Star with His Crown as the King of Kings (Wiki). It makes quite the statement.

Baptist Church West 79th Street

The Baptist Church at West 79th Street

I stopped at West 80th Street as I rounded West 79th Street by Riverside Park. I had to relax for awhile and boosted more energy to walk down to West 72nd Street to Malachy’s Donegal Inn Bar for some dinner. I saw the hamburger special for $8.95 and thought that was good for me. It is a local West Side watering hole where the patrons are mostly locals and the food really good (See review on TripAdvisor).

I noticed at Malachy’s that both the bartenders and the locals size you up to see who you might be and I am not sure that they could read me. One thing was that they were really friendly and engaging to me and I appreciated it. After walking from the top of West 72nd Street to the bottom of West 80th Street, I didn’t need a suspicious look or conversation. I just joined in and we talked about the Yankees and their current season.

Just to let you know, if you are in the area of West 72nd Street, take the time out to have lunch or dinner and a drink at Malachy’s. The burger was cooked perfectly and had a salty, caramelized crust to it and the fries were deep fried perfectly. It was delicious and with an icy Coke, it was just what the doctor ordered to relax after a long walk. From West 80th to West 84th Streets would have to wait for another day.

At the end of the week, I made another trip to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and was assigned to the Prep Kitchen and before finishing the rest of the neighborhood, spent my morning prepping vegetables and cutting chicken breasts for the next days meal. (I saw on the chart the next week that we did over 800 meals that next day. I must be doing something right).

I started my walk by the American Museum of Natural History at 200 Central Park West and walked around Theodore Roosevelt Park, which is located at the back of the museum. This small well-landscaped grassy shade park is managed by a partnership between the Museum, The New York City Parks Department and the Friends of Roosevelt Park. This is a nice place to relax on the benches under the shade trees or just walk through the pathways. The former President would have loved this if he had seen it today. It was my ‘go-to’ spot when I was walking the rest of the Streets between West 80th and 84th Streets.

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Theodore Roosevelt Park behind the American Museum of Natural History

What I found interesting in the history of the park is that it was originally part of Central Park and became of the museum when it was created in 1877. The park became ‘Theodore Roosevelt park in name in 1958 with the statute that was dedicated to our 26th President. In later years, namely the troubled times of the 70’s the park was in disarray and the Friends of Theodore Roosevelt Park was created in 1993, who help maintain the park in partnership with the NYC Parks and the Museum.

After leaving the park, I walked down West 80th Street and stopped at Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway and stopped in the Café Zabar (See Review on TripAdvisor) for a snack. For $1.00, they had a special on specialty croissants and I indulged in a Ham, Egg and Cheese Croissant, which made a great snack and I highly recommend stopping when they have specials or for their chicken soup which looks so good. Also when it is one special, don’t miss their homemade pizza. The place is the local hangout for older Upper West Sider’s and they made themselves known to me when I tried to sit in their seat.

Take time to walk around Zabar’s to see their bakery, cheese and prepared food departments. It is really something. Their selection is really interesting and the smells are wonderful especially in the Cheese Department. The place is packed all the time so expect to bump into people which is part of the fun of shopping there. You could lost in Zabar’s for about an hour.

Zabar's Cafe.jpg

Zabar’s

Some of things that stand out in this area are the stately mansions that line Riverside Drive by Riverside Park between West 80th through 84th Street especially between West 80th-West 81st Street. It is best to see them from the park side. They are disrupted by apartment buildings on some blocks but the ones that remain are being renovated back to their original glory.

Riverside Park by the beginning of April was beginning to show signs of Spring and I saw more flowers coming out and if I was lucky to be in the sun, a bit warmer. Winter lingered late this year and even into April I had to wear a heavier jacket.

The blocks between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West from West 80th to 84th Street is dominated by graceful brownstones and marble homes. Like its neighbors to the north and south, this area by the park is being sandblasted back to life and every time I walk in the neighborhood, I see more scaffolding up around the buildings. There is a uniqueness to each one as you take the time to slowly look at them.

Take time to look at the displays at West 80th Street and Columbus Avenue of the bear statues and flowers by florist, Floris, that is located across the street. This whimsical display shows two bears greeting you with flowers. It changes at each holiday I noticed.

Broadway in this area is getting more commercial but then you need these stores to compliment the neighborhood. It seems that Broadway is becoming the commercial core of the Upper West Side with the chain stores and theaters. What makes it look like the elegant European boulevard that it is is the island between the Avenue. This is landscaped and now coming into full bloom. As the trees and the flowers sprout out with the coming of Spring, the whole effect is just beautiful. This look to Broadway continues down to Columbus Circle.

Don’t miss the unique architecture on West 83rd Street right off Columbus Avenue at 141 West 83rd Street. When really looking at that parking garage you could  that the Cedarhurst building was once a stable. Designed by the firm of Thom & Wilson, it was once part of the Cedarhurst Livery Company and was built in 1908, with the horse motifs that decorate it and the horse head that flanks the front of the building. You can see the areas of the building that must have been used for airing the horses out after they were stabled back inside for the night (NYT).

Cedarhurst Building.jpg

The Cedarhurst Building on the Upper West Side

Across the street is the Engine 74 building of the FDNY that was designed by Napoleon DeBrun in the 1880’s.  There motif on their building is the dinosaur with the theme, ‘Lost World’. Being so close to the American Museum of Natural History I can see how they play off that.

Also, really look at the Kiosk that is located by Broadway and West 83rd Street, which was built in the 1960’s as an information center for the neighborhood, which is now landmarked and is used to display local art. Artist Gregory Sanger was showing his work and it must have been very popular as there was a note left by someone not to steal the work as a piece was missing. Through its history, this kiosk has displayed the goings on in the neighborhood for over 50 years and has become a focal as well as vocal point to the residents.

I ended my trip to this part of the Upper West Side by visiting the Bard Graduate Center Gallery at 18 West 86th Street (bgc.bard.org and see the review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). I had missed seeing the gallery the first two times to the neighborhood as their hours are different from most of the other museums. Through my affiliation with the Newark Museum, I was able to get in for free and see the special exhibits.

Bard Gallery.jpg

The Bard Graduate Center Gallery

The Gallery was featuring an exhibition of ‘Bookbinding and the Creation of Books’, which explained why they were so expensive and rare at the time before the printing press and a ‘Balinese Textiles’ exhibition. It is an easy gallery to visit and you will be out in about an hour and a half. It is a quiet place to visit so you will have the galleries to yourself. It makes it more fun so don’t miss this little hidden ‘gem’.

I finished the evening with dinner for a second time at Malachy’s Donegal Inn bar on West 72nd Street, this time having the ‘Turkey Dinner’ platter. I had a nice time that evening talking politics with the other patrons and the sheer cost of living on the Upper West Side when I wanted to get off the politics and talk about all the empty store fronts in the lower 70’s throughout the neighborhood. They were able to give me their opinion on it. The dinner was good and for $8.95, it was some open turkey sandwich. I had to walk back to Port Authority just to work it off.

Malachy's.jpg

Malachy’s

I have seen so much on the middle part of the Upper West Side and look forward to my next trip in the neighborhood from West 72nd to West 59th Street. There is so much elegant architecture in the neighborhood, so many famous people living here and so many interesting stores, you could visit here many times and not soak it all in. It really opened my eyes to a place I have been visiting for years and never truly experienced the way a local might.

Places to Eat:

Malachy’s Donegal Inn

103 West 72nd Street

New York, NY 10023

(212) 874-4268

http://www.malachysnyc.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d527768-Reviews-Malachy_s_Donegal_Inn-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/683

Zabar’s

2245 Broadway

New York, NY  10024

(212) 787-2000

http://www.Zabars.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d948624-Reviews-Zabar_Deli_Gourmet_Foods-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/686

Taco Bandito

385 Eight Avenue

New York, NY  10001

(212) 989-5518

http://www.tacobanditochelsea.com

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4966729-Reviews-Taco_Bandito-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/608

 

Places to Visit:

Riverside Park

Between the Hudson River and Riverside Drive lining the neighborhood

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/riverside-park

 

Theodore Roosevelt Park/American Museum of Natural History

200 Central Park West

New York, NY  10024

https://www.nps.gov/thro/index.htm

 

Bard Graduate Center Gallery

18 West 86th Street

New York, NY 10024

(212) 501-3023

gallery@bgc.bard.org

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d309306-Reviews-The_Bard_Graduate_Center-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1954

 

 

Day One Hundred and Five: Walking the Avenues of the Upper West Side between Central Park West and Riverside Drive from West 84th to West 72nd Streets March 12-April 8th, 2018

I have found that walking the Avenues of the Upper West Side to be much easier than the Upper East Side. There are less blocks to walk and this side of the island is smaller in space than the middle of the Upper East Side which begins to jut out on that part of the island.

Each Avenue on the Upper West Side has it’s own uniqueness to it. Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues are more of a shopping districts with Amsterdam Avenue having most of the quirky restaurants and old time stores. Broadway is rapidly changing was the stores of the 80’s and 90’s are quickly loosing their leases and with the rents jacked up is home to more chains now more than ever. It seems that another new chain restaurant and store opens up every month. Even here, I have watched the chain stores loose their leases and go away.

West End Avenue is strictly residential and the blocks between it and Riverside Drive hold a treasure trove old stone townhouses, brownstones and marble mansions with the graceful cravings, ornate stairs and potted plants outside the homes. There is an immense pride in this part of the neighborhood and I swear probably not much as changed since the turn of the last century.

I was walking up from Soup Kitchen that afternoon and after a long day on the Bread Station holding off questions of why we do not have any pastry (none was donated) and the lack of raisin bagels (again none were donated) and why we no longer use butter for the bread (the peanut butter was donated), it was off for a long walk to the Upper West Side. Being closer to midtown, I have been walking more often than using the subway.

I have walked Central Park West, both sides many times and the biggest changes I have seen in the buildings here is that most of the them are being sandblasted back to life as new owners and residents have been rapidly converting the Upper West Side into the new Upper East Side. The new residents seem much richer, less liberal and a whole lot younger. I have never seen so many baby carriages and little dogs since walking the heart of the Upper East Side. At least here, the dogs seem less spoiled (with the multiple grooming places for dogs, the B & B for Dogs (upscale kennel) and places for doggies treats and clothes, dogs get better treated than the homeless).

As you walk up Central Park West, the first thing you see it the statue dedicated to the members of the U.S.S. Maine that was mysteriously bombed February 15th, 1898 which started the Spanish-American War. The War started in April 25th, 1898 and would last eight months. After a series of conflicts due to the War, the Philippines and Cuba gained their Independence and we got Guam and Puerto Rico as part of the deal.

The statue, designed by sculpture Attilio Piccirilli and Charles Keck, with the help of architect Harold Van Buren Magonigle and was dedicated in May 30th, 1913. The statue was dedicated to the 261 people lost when the U.S.S. Maine exploded in Havana harbor in February of 1898. This started the Spanish-American War in April of 1898 (Wiki).

Really take time to look at this statue for its details, its plaques that line the base and the detail work. It unfortunately is now used as a bench for most people who attend the Christmas and Farmer’s Markets that now line the base of the statue. I don’t think most people today know what the Spanish-American War of 1898 was or its significance in our country’s history. If you say, “Remember the Maine” today, most people would go ‘huh’?

As I walked up Central Park West along the park side, you will see the landscape lined with trees, lawns, parks and massive rock formations which seem more prevalent ten blocks up. These formations are leftovers of the last Ice Age and it is amazing to know that these will dragged for hundreds of miles as the ice moved.  I have noticed more of these rock formations on the Upper Upper West Side and in Washington Heights and it is interesting to see our connections still to the last Ice Age.

Being the time of year that it is, the whole park was winter hibernation but people using the park on a 46 degree day brings life to almost everything. The kids dominated the playgrounds after school and tourist and locals alike were walking dogs and chatting along the paths. Even in the colder months, Central Park is always busy.

When I reached the border of the neighborhood at West 72nd Street, I passed the famous Dakota Apartment Building that dominated the corner of West 72nd Street and Central Park West. Really look up at the detail work of this building. Built between 1880-1884, the building was designed by the firm of Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, the same firm that designed the Plaza Hotel. The name ‘The Dakota’ some feel came from the isolated location so far uptown at the time it was build in that the Dakota Territories were so isolated from the country at the time.

The building is currently under renovation but you can still peek into the side of the building to see the old courtyard where the carriages used to drop residents off and the apartments themselves were designed around the French layouts at the time with large ceilings and rooms that flowed into one another. The resident listing is a Who’s Who of the entertainment and arts industry and the filming of the movie ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ was done in the front of the building as well as the death of musician, John Lennon in the early 80’s.

As you pass the beauty of The Dakota,  West 72nd Street has an array of architectural styles of brownstones and marble homes lining the street. The carving of the stone is work that you no longer see in design and so much of the neighborhood is under scaffolding as new owners are sandblasting these buildings back to their original beauty.

Continuing the walk up Central Park West, you continue to pass many beautiful and graceful stone apartment buildings with beautiful views of the park that are going through their own renovations.

At West 77nd Street, you are at the Museum Row of the Upper West Side with the New York Historical Society at 170 Central Park West and the American Museum of Natural History located on Central Park West and West 79th Street.

If you reading this blog post in 2018, please remember to stop by the museum to see both the ‘Unseen Ocean’  and the ‘Senses’ exhibitions that just opened. The ‘Unseen Ocean’ explores the unknown deep of our oceans and the new species that we are discovering in the deep. It takes a look at the new development of equipment where we can explore deeper than before and the new discoveries that pop up with every trip. The ‘Senses’ exhibition explores how we react to the environment around us. These can be seen with the museum day pass.

As you round West 84th Street and down the block to Columbus Avenue, really look up around you and see the faces following you down the block to the next Avenue. The carvings of faces on the buildings stare out into the abyss or look to one another. You won’t really notice it until you really look at the detail work of each building. You will be doing a lot of stopping and staring between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

Back in 1984 to 1987, during the first really big gentrification of the Upper West Side, Columbus Avenue was a big deal, Everything from 59th Street to about 86th Street was being sandblasted back to life and all sorts of new restaurants and shops were opening up left and right around the American Museum of Natural History. Stores like the DDL Food Show (Dino De Larentis’s Gourmet Shop), Penny Whistle Toys and the infamous Museum Café (where the Shake Shack is located now) were the topic of conversation when they opened. After the crash of 1987, most of these places had closed or where long gone and by the mid-90’s, the whole block  was changing again as all the expensive stores and restaurants started to leave.

Today Columbus Avenue between 72nd Street to 84th Street is starting to go through another change. Instead of all the expensive places kicking the reasonable places out, many store fronts have gone dark and sit empty. This is a plague that is going all not just all over the Upper West Side but all over the City. Many old line businesses from the 70’s , 80’s and even the 90’s that I have seen for years, like Isabella’s Restaurant, on the corner of Columbus Avenue and 78th Street, where my dad and I had many a meal for his birthday and for Father’s Day, shut it’s doors about a year ago and now sits empty.

Columbus Avenue is now in a state of flux with newer more expensive places opening up here and there. I don’t think it has dawned on these landlords that not everyone wants a $16.00 hamburger. In the lower 70’s of Columbus Avenue, it is more and more chain stores and even they seem like they are struggling. You can have only so many stores selling the same merchandise that is currently on sale at Macy’s while the restaurants have similar menu’s. The rents are forcing, from my opinion, the merchants away from their creativity to what is safe.

All along stretches of Columbus Avenue, especially closer to the American Museum of Natural History, the store fronts are mostly empty and looking at the current prices to buy an apartment in the neighborhood, you can see the reason why.  Apartments are going for what their East Side counterparts are going for (or maybe a little less depending on the street). The street is once again changing from more expensive fashion to I am not sure what but I can’t wait to see what happens next on Columbus Avenue between West 72nd Street and West 84th Street.

With these changes comes the changes at the museum’s as well. The American Museum of Natural History is ever renovating displays or launching new shows. “Unseen Ocean’s”, the story of the newly explored deep, is resulting in long lines at the museum. New ways to explore the bottom of the ocean with nautical looking machines that even Jules Vern could not have thought of are finding new species and showing the food network of the bottom of the sea. This museum has woken up in the last ten years.

The New York Historical Society is a far cry from what it was fifteen years ago when no one entered the musty halls of that relic. Today more and more innovative programs are opening and they even have an upscale coffee whose prices are ridiculous even for a museum.

Both museums have been sandblasted back to their original glory, have been renovated and are showing innovative programming that rivals anything of their East Side counterparts.

Amsterdam Avenue I have always felt feels like real New York with the funky stores, small independent restaurants and pocket parks that line interwoven parts of the neighborhood.

I had lunch this afternoon at Harriet’s Kitchen at 502 Amsterdam Avenue for one of their famous ‘Fried Chicken Sandwiches”. Trust me, it lived up to the hype I saw online. The sandwich was $9.95 with hand cut French Fries and a Coke made a total of $11.95 and it was worth every bite.

This sandwich was the perfect food item for my walk as I needed the protein. The sandwich was two large chicken breasts marinated in buttermilk and then dredged in a cornmeal crust and then fried golden crisp. It was crunchy and savory in every bite. It was one of the best chicken sandwiches I had ever eaten. The fries were good as well as they were cooked to a golden crisp as well. It was accompanied by a spicy remoulade sauce and sour pickles which added an extra kick to the sandwich. The service was really friendly and even though the place is a little dumpy, the food is no reflection of that. I have not eaten chicken this good since my tour of Harlem.

Right next to Harriet’s Kitchen is West Side Kids at 498 Amsterdam Avenue, so I got a chance to tour the store again which was stocked to the gills with new toys. Across the street from Harriet’s Kitchen is the Urban Assembly Green Space Garden at 145 84th Street, that the students maintain on the corner of West 84th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. This garden is used by the students for the growing season and at the height of the season they sell their fruits and vegetables to the public. Take some time to walk around this urban oasis when it is in season.

Amsterdam Avenue is like Lexington Avenue in that it is a nice mix of stores and restaurants that are more affordable to the average New Yorker. This is beginning to change in the low 70’s but like most of the neighborhood is a state of flux. I am beginning to see the same amount of empty storefronts on this Avenue as well.

Broadway in this part of the island is designed as a French Boulevard with landscaping down an strip of island down the middle of the road with benches at each island stopover. As I had mentioned in my observation further uptown, this part of Broadway was designed for upscale living with grand apartment buildings.

The Ansonia Apartments at 2101-2119 Broadway was built in 1899 by architect Paul E.M. Duboy in the traditional Beaux Arts style in the Victorian Age was a residential hotel. The detail work on the outside is gorgeous with all sorts of statuary, carvings and iron work and topped with a mansard roof. The building has housed many famous people in the arts, music and politics. You can peek inside the courtyard to see where the carriages once let the residents off similar in design to The Dakota further west (Wiki).

The Apthrop Apartments at 2201-2219 Broadway was built between 1906-1908 by architects Clinton & Russell for William Waldorf Astor and takes up the whole block between Broadway and West End Avenue. The building was designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style and when you peek inside the building you can see the courtyard where carriages once a upon a time used to drop the residents off. Over-sized limestone sculptures representing the Four Seasons stand above the ventral barrel-vaulted entrance with wrought iron gates feature a pair of gazelle heads (Wiki).

The Astor Apartments at 235 West 75th Street tops Broadway with the grand apartment buildings and is currently going under a major renovation and restoration. The building is currently under scaffolding (as seems the whole neighborhood) so it hides the beauty of the building. The stores below are changing as well as even Barney’s has moved out of the neighborhood.

The building was developed in 1909 for William Waldorf Astor II by architects Clinton & Russell for the two eight story wings and the firm of Peabody, Wilson & Brown did the taller tower. The beauty in this building is in the simplicity of its elegance and the detail work along the roof.

When walking up Broadway, note that this area was built at a time when the wealthy were scaling down their lives at the turn of the last century and this form of luxury was becoming the norm. By the 60’s and 70’s, these grand apartment buildings like the rest of the neighborhood got rundown but currently all are on the process of renovation or their completion have lead the apartments to be reconnected back to their four to five room layout.

The stores along Broadway have given way to a commercial district of chain stores but still has lots of ‘gems’ lining Broadway. Rents have risen so much in the area that a lot of these stores and restaurants might face displacement in the future. Like the rest of the city, there is a cost of doing business in NYC.

Some of the most famous stores are the great purveyors of food the most well-known being Fairway at 2131 Broadway and Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway . These are more than just grocery stores, they are institutions in New York.

Fairway supermarket, which now has branches outside the city, is stocked from ceiling to floor with everything you need to fill a kitchen. When I walked through it, it seemed more like a traditional grocery store, fancy but functional loaded with every brand imaginable. It is fun to to walk around the tight aisles and look at the merchandise. They also have a nice prepared food section with everything you need for a picnic in the park.

Zabar’s though, is a true New York institution. I have been coming here since the 1970’s when my mother’s bible for food was both Gourmet and New York Magazines. Anytime we went into the city, Zabar’s was a place we visited especially if she saw it one of those two magazines.

Zabar’s is broken down into sections each with their own mouthwatering smells and like Fairway, lined from top to bottom with delicacies. Their cheese department has the most wonderful aroma when walking through it and the bakery section always smells of croissant and chocolate. The prepared foods section is still one of the best in the city. They have enough for a full meal that you might make at home but ‘don’t have the time’. Just walking around is an experience. They also have a small restaurant off to the side of the building complex and it has specials during lunch (See review on TripAdvisor).

Westsider Rare & Used Books at 2246 Broadway across from Zabar’s and a little further down by West 81st Street and Broadway is pilled high with used, antique and out of print books. This worn looking bookstore is what out-of-towners would say a New York bookstore should look like down to the literary looking woman who works there much like her counterpart at Westsider Records down at 233 West 72nd Street. The people the store has working there fit the stereotype of who would work there. These two stores are fun to wonder around in especially if you grew up in the late 60’s and the 70’s and early 80’s before the ‘Yuppie’ transformation of NYC. You never know what treasure you will find in the stacks of there stores.

Most of the rest of Upper Broadway is quite commercial but helpful in everyday needs of shopping and entertainment. The big AMC Theater attracts people from all over the neighborhood and this area is always busy.

During a break in the walking, I stopped by the West Side Cafe at 218 West 72nd Street for the noted Sausage, Egg and Cheese bagel ($3.95) that I ate in Riverside Park. I had seen someone eating it the other day and had to have it. It was well-worth the visit and the sandwich was big and warmed me up with every bite on this cool day.

West End Avenue like the areas uptown is lined with graceful apartment buildings and on the side streets elegant apartment buildings and brownstones. There are a lot of beautiful churches and schools in this area of the neighborhood.

When you walk down West 84th Street (named after Edgar Allen Poe), you walk into a residential area that time has not touched (except for the sandblasting of the buildings). Most of the apartment buildings are art themselves with all the stonework, carvings and ironwork decorating them. Really take time to look at the stonework of the apartments and the brownstones lining all the streets between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive.

The Mickey Mantle Elementary School P.S. M811 sits at the corner of West End Avenue and West 81st Street at 466 West End Avenue which was named after the famous Yankee Baseball Player. The school specializes in teaching children with learning disabilities and is one of the best of its kind in the City. The school was renamed after the famous player June 4th, 2002 and its academic excellence would have made Mr. Mantle proud.

You can see the back of the Antony Apartments between West 79th and 78th Streets and still you see the grandeur of this apartment building from all sides including the courtyard. The West End Collegiate Church at 245 West 77th Street can be seen for the entire block and it picturesque in its appearance.

Built in 1892 by architect Robert W. Gibson, this church was designed in the Gothic Dutch-Flemish Revival Renaissance design and is a noted landmark as headquarter to the church and the Collegiate School, one of the best prep schools in the City. Walk around the church to see the brick details and the Coats of Arms of past patrons lining their walls (Wiki/Church Website). The look of the church is different from all sides.

There is a small plaque at 440 West End Avenue dedicated to Charles Evans Hughes, the Republican Governor and great State Reformer. He had championed the eight hour day, forty-eight hour week for workers (under 16) and set up a Trades Act to protect workers much of what we work with today. He also served as Secretary of State under President Harding among his many accomplishments.

I finished my walk at the Eleanor Roosevelt statue at the end of Riverside Park and walked around this side of the park which on a cool day was relaxing. I just sat by the benches and looked at all the interesting buildings.

Just to add more walking in, I walked to West Place Chinese Restaurant at 1288 Amsterdam Avenue for dinner that night. I had a craving for Chinese food and still had a lot of energy left in me from the sandwich earlier and it had started to clear up so I made the trek up Amsterdam Avenue to above the Columbia campus near West 110th Street.

I had a Chicken with Green Beans and pork fried rice combination platter dinner ($8.75) that was excellent and could have feed two people. The chicken was packed with flavor from the spicy garlic sauce and the fried rice had a decent amount of pork in it. The egg roll was pretty decent as well, filled with pork and shredded cabbage.

This local hole in the wall restaurant has now become a favorite not just of people living in the public and private housing complexes that line this part of the neighborhood above Columbia University but with the students as well. I have seen the place packed with Asian students on their lunch hour much to the surprise of everyone else.

After dinner, I walked from West 108th Street to West 42nd Street back to the Port Authority to go home. It had been a long day of walking but there is so much to see and if you really stop to look at everything closely in this neighborhood there is a lot of history packed into this part of the Upper West Side.

 

Places to visit:

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West & West 79th Street

New York, NY  10024

(212) 769-5100

http://www.amnh.org

New York Historical Society

170 Central Park West

New York, NY  10024

(212) 873-3400

http://www.nyhistory.org

Urban Assembly Garden

145 West 84th Street

New York, NY  10024

(212) 787-1189

http://www.uagreencareers.org/garden/

Stores to Visit:

West Side Kids

498 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY 10024

(212) 496-7282

http://www.westsidekids.com

Books of Wonder

217 West 84th Street

New York, NY  10024

(212) 989-1804

info@booksofwonder.com

Westsider Rare & Used Books

2246 Broadway (between West 81st Street & Broadway)

New York, NY 10024

(212) 362-0706

Open: Monday-Sunday: 10:00am-10:00pm

Westsider Records

233 West 72nd Street

New York, NY  10023

(212) 874-1588

Open: Monday-Thursday 11:00am-7:00pm, Friday & Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm. Sunday: 12:00pm-6:00pm

Places to eat:

Harriet’s Kitchen

502 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10024

(212) 721-0045

http://www.harrietskitchen.com

West Place Chinese Restaurant

1288 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY  10027

(212) 932-9390/9376

Zabar’s

2245 Broadway

New York, NY  10024

(212) 787-2000

http://www.zabars.com

Fairway Supermarket

2131 Broadway

New York, NY 10023

(212) 595-1888

http://www.fairwaymarket.com

West Side Cafe

218 West 72nd Street

New York, NY 10023

(212) 769-9939/8815