Tag Archives: Bronx Zoo

Bronx Zoo Light Show

Day One Hundred and Eighty-Eight: My Christmas during the era of COVID December 1st-January 10th, 2020-2021

Well, Christmas is finally officially over for me. It was one for the books. The holiday season just came and went without much fanfare or activities. Nothing like last year which was a lot of running around visiting decorated homes or running to the next cocktail party or dinner. Those things just did not exist this year. This season was all about the outside walking tours and small get togethers.

The whole holiday season became a blur and I started to attend a lot of outdoor activities that became available. Anything to get out of the house and see people or go do something out of the ordinary. I really had to search things out.

They started closest to home. I was trying to split my time between places that were just a drive away, going back and forth to the Hudson River Valley, which gave me a change of scenery and walking the neighborhoods of Manhattan, which gave me a sense of purpose as I felt I was supporting the City by being a cheerleader for all it had to offer even in the era of COVID.

My holiday journey started with the delivery of 375 Christmas trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. It was a big undertaking for a major charity that supports graduating high school seniors with scholarship money for college. I sometimes wonder if these students know what we go through to get the funds.

Christmas Tree sales

The trees were really nice this year

I have never seen so many Christmas Trees fly off a lot so fast. The membership of the Men’s Association got there at 9:00am and the truck arrived at 10:15am. We sold our first tree at 11:30am as we were tagging them. I stayed the entire day from 9:00am to 10:00pm when we closed the lot down for the evening. In the three shifts that I was there with the other guys, we sold 45 trees which we have never done our first day of sales.

The Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association at set-up 2020

We were completely sold out by December 11th which I have never seen before. It seemed in the era of COVID everyone reverted back to the 1970’s and wanted a fresh Christmas tree for their home. I thought this was wonderful and people could not have been more supportive to our organization.

Please read my blog on “Christmas tree sales in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15853

Please watch the commercial I did in 2015 to sell our trees

The first week of December means “Open Houses” at some of our merchants in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights. I look forward to seeing all the Christmas merchandise being offered, all the bouquets created for the event and the beautiful Christmas windows that our florists in town have done.

Bill O'Shea's Florist & Gifts

Bill O’Shea’s Florist & Gift at 231 Boulevard

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/151

Bill O’Shea’s Florist at 231 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ always has a nice gathering the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year was like no other but it did not keep a nice crowd of residents from coming out and looking over ideas for floral displays, house decorating ideas and listening to festive holiday music all while nibbling on prepackaged treats and bottled drinks.

Bill O'Shea's Florist VIII

Bill O’Shea’s has some of the nicest displays at the holidays

In a normal year, it would be hot chocolate and coffee with freshly baked goods but COVID has changed the way these businesses are run. Everything had to be prepackaged and most people at it outside as juggling and shopping with a mask on was tough.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, the same weekend we set up the Christmas Tree lot for the Men’s Association, Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ had their Open House and that was equally as nice.

Heights Flowers IV

Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/130

Heights Flower Shoppe is housed in a turn of the last century home that dates back to the original founding of our downtown and has a very classic boutique look to it. The store was stocked with all sorts of Christmas decorations, homemade candies, decorative household gifts and beautiful floral displays as well as outside had decorated wreathes and grave blankets.

Heights Flowers V

The homemade candies and Christmas decorations adorn the store

Like Bill O’Shea’s, there was all sorts of packaged holiday treats to enjoy including Italian sodas, small bags of homemade Christmas cookies and candies. Last year they had a nice assortment of cookies and small sandwiches with coffee, tea and punch so there are always holiday treats to nibble on too here as well.

All of Downtown Hasbrouck Heights was beautifully decorated for the holidays with wreaths on all our lamp posts, Christmas lights on the trees, merchants display windows decorated to the hilt and Christmas music playing.

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is always so nicely decorated for the holidays

This year because of COVID, the Annual Holiday Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting were cancelled in town but they did have a small get together at the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights to light the town Christmas tree. It was lit from Thanksgiving until the Epiphany on January 6th. It is always a beautiful site when entering town from the west side of town.

The Circle at Hasbrouck Heights

The Christmas Tree on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Even the little Neil Parrot playhouse, a local landmark in Hasbrouck Heights, was decorated for the holidays and was lite up at night as well.

The Neil Parrot Playhouse on the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights awaiting Santa

There were several nights of my aunt and I exploring the town and driving block by block to see all the decorated homes. Hasbrouck Heights and the surrounding towns of Lodi and Wood Ridge always do a wonderful job decorating for the holidays but with everyone being home and COVID hitting the area hard, people wanted to really decorate and make this year even more festive. Between the merchants and home owners, they made this time of year in Hasbrouck Heights very festive.

Please read my blog on Visiting Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14025

I did not just celebrate Christmas in Hasbrouck Heights. I ventured into other parts of New Jersey, to New York City and my usual haunts in the Hudson River Valley but like New Jersey, New York State was on a lock down as well and all the decorated mansions and holiday gatherings were all cancelled as well. So everyone did their best to celebrate outdoors and have all sorts of tours and small get togethers. You had to move fast when reserving these events as they did fill up because everyone wanted to get out of the house and see things.

The Sinterklaas Parade that I have participated and volunteered at for so many years was cancelled because of COVID but like the Halloween Parade, the committee put together a video of the parade to share with the world. Still it did not compare to the excitement of walking down the hill with stars and music lighting up Downtown Rhinebeck, NY.

The noble Frog was to be our mascot for this year’s Sinterklaas Parade

It was not the same as the year before where the crowds kept getting larger and larger every year. The whole town came to life with activities, songs, lights and laughter but was silent that weekend except for people having dinner in town. I was able to sneak up during the week. The entire town was decorated with white lights and beautifully decorated store windows. Rhinebeck is one of those towns in the Hudson River Valley that looks straight out of a Currier & Ives woodcut.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas

Since all the Christmas parties and get togethers were cancelled, it gave me more time to look into other outdoor events. I went to a special “Historical walking tour at the Holidays” at the Bergen County Historical Society in River Edge, NJ. The tour was lead by Historical singer and lecturer, Linda Russell, who explained the traditions of the Dutch Christmas all while singing Colonial Christmas songs in between the talks at each historical house on the property.

Steuben House BCHS

The Steuben House at Christmas

Actors dressed in costumes (and masks of course-COVID is still going on) danced in the Steuben House ballroom as colonialists celebrating the holiday, Dutch housewives putting their children to bed while awaiting Sinterklaas. There was a Dutch wooden shoe with carrots for his horse outside the door and mistletoe on the ceiling.

Linda Russell Lecturer

Linda Russell performing and lecturing at the Bergen County Historical Society

There was a discussion on the Pagan traditions of bringing ‘greens’ from outside inside to have a bit of ‘live nature’ into the home. So mistletoe, pine and holly adorned homes during the winter months as these things were green and brought a bit of life into the dead of winter.

The last part of the lecture was done in front of the Campbell-Christie House with a visit from Sinterklaas himself. We had a short talk about who Sinterklaas was and his part in the holiday season. Then all the members of the tour enjoyed refreshments and got a goody bag when we left with holiday sweets. The lecture and songs were a nice way to enjoy the beginning of the holiday season.

Campbell-Christie House Xmas

Campbell-Christie House at the end of the tour:

My blog on The Bergen County Historical Society:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/531

My favorite song by Linda Russell “I saw Three Ships”

As I was finishing up the semester at the College, I was getting holiday preparations done at the house, having small gatherings of family and friends and trying to be COVID safe. I was also running in and out of the City finishing my blog on Kips Bay before the holidays started getting busier. I learned a lot of New York’s Colonial past from walking around this area of the City.

My blogs on the Walking the neighborhood of Kips Bay:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15954

The next weekend I made my last trip of the season to Long Beach Island to visit Beach Haven and the tour the rest of the island one last time before winter set in. It had really closed down since Halloween. I expected it to be much busier with more people moving down there on a permanent basis. Driving up to the lighthouse, I saw more dark homes then lite ones.

I wanted to take one more tour of Long Beach Island to see how they celebrate Christmas at the shore. They do things very quietly in Beach Haven. I went to the Surflight Theater to see the only play I had seen since I attended Carnegie Hall last Christmas to see the play “We need a little Christmas” which I had seen advertised at the theater over the summer.

“We need a Little Christmas” at the Surflight Theater in Beach Haven, NJ

After the theater, it was surprisingly warm that afternoon hovering around 58 degrees so I walked to the beach one block away and walked on the Jersey shore for my only time that year and for the first time on Beach Haven beach since 1975. It has been a long journey since that time.

Beach Haven Beach

The Beach Haven beach was beautiful that afternoon

The town’s Christmas trees were across the street from the theater on the square just off the downtown. Even they had a subdued Christmas at the shore and the whole event welcoming in the season was done virtually.

Christmas in Beach Haven, NJ adapted like the rest of the world

My holiday dinner was spent at the Chicken or the Egg that evening and it was really good. The menu is so extensive and innovative. It was hard to make choices.

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream Sandwich

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream sandwich at Chicken or the Egg

Their fried chicken sandwiches are really good and their Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream sandwich should not be missed.

Chicken or the Egg

The Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Avenue in Beach Haven

https://www.facebook.com/chegg609/

I was able to tour the whole island that afternoon before it got dark and even at twilight here and there were signs of Christmas in small trees lit in the shopping areas and decorated homes. It is an interesting place at the holidays with the waves crashing in the background.

My blog on “Exploring Downtown Beach Haven and Long Beach Island, NJ”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/15226

The next week was finals week at the College and I had to give my final exam. The students also finished work on their case study, “Bud N’ Mud”, a simulated flower/coffee shop I had the students develop. It was interesting to see how a group of student entrepreneurs would create a store with their own ideas on how to grow the business. This project ended the Fall semester.

Bud N' Mud logo

One of my favorite logo’s from the “Bud N’ Mud” project

My blog on the “Bud N’ Mud” project:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16124

With the Christmas trees selling out by December 11th, we held our annual Christmas party at the Christmas tree stand site for the Men’s Association. It was a cool not cold night and we all huddled around the fire taking alternate turns hitting the makeshift buffet table and enjoying good conversation. It was a great way to end the year successfully and there will lots of scholarships being given out at the end of the school year.

The last big event before Christmas came was the Sunday before Christmas with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department holding our Annual “Santa Around Town”. Because COVID was growing, the event was revamped from previous years and instead of stopping at sites all over town, we drove down each street in town slowly, having Santa wave and greet people who were on their lawns, driveways and porches. The residents of Hasbrouck Heights seemed touched by it and I could tell from the safety of the fire truck that the kids got a kick out of seeing Santa. People really needed the pick me up in holiday spirit at the time.

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at “Santa Around Town” 2020

My blog on “Santa Around Town” 2020:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16150

On the Tuesday before Christmas after I finished work with my other job I needed a break and wanted to go on a road trip to the Hudson River Valley again. I was nostalgic for Christmas’s past and decided to visit some of the towns Upstate.

I explored Downtown Woodstock first seeing their very unusual Christmas tree in the square. I have to say one thing about Woodstock, they do pick out the most interesting tree to sit in the square. It always looks more surreal than traditional. Their annual “Santa Parade” was cancelled this year as well and they did a drive by with Santa at the Woodstock Fire Department who runs the parade.

Downtown Kingston, NY was next on the list. Talk about a town in transition. In the almost three years since I have been visiting Kingston, I have never seen a downtown change so rapidly. The businesses there have gone from all this ‘hippie granola’ businesses to all these antique furniture stores and art galleries and some really expensive restaurants. One of the locals told me the new residents are “Brooklynizing” Kingston.

Still the downtown was nicely lit for the holidays and their Christmas Tree while small is nicely lit for the holidays on the edge of the downtown “Stockade” district. The Dutch Reformed Church on the other end of downtown was nicely lit with wreaths on the doors.

I crossed the river and drove to Red Hook, NY which I love. Their downtown looks like an old fashioned shopping district straight out of another Currier & Ives print. All the little stores were decorated with garland and white lights and the merchants decorated their windows to the hilt.

My blog on Exploring Downtown Red Hook, NY:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/14144

My last stop on my search for the perfect picturesque Hudson Valley River town was returning to Rhinebeck, NY for the day. Rhinebeck was quiet on this Tuesday evening as most of the restaurants were closed and the shops had closed for the evening. Still it was nice to walk around and admire the while lights on the trees and admire the display windows.

Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

The Christmas lights and windows of Downtown Rhinebeck, NY

Even the way I celebrate Christmas changed this year. Instead of spending time with my family, I spent three days in Manhattan with my best friend, Maricel, at a hotel in Times Square. Neither of us had the time to travel and we both had to work in the City, her at her hotel and me working on my blogs so both of us needed the rest.

AC Hote

AC Hotel New York Times Square at 260 West 40th Street

We stayed at the AC Hotel New York Times Square at 260 West 40th Street. What the room lacked in size, it made up in the view and in the location. We were one block from Port Authority, two blocks from Times Square and within walking distance from all the Christmas attractions from Saks Fifth Avenue’s Christmas windows and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

While Maricel worked on Christmas Eve, I walked around the City. I saw the tree at Rockefeller Center which was loaded with people not keeping socially distanced. I admired the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue which had a New York City theme with Christmas scenes from around the City “This is how we Celebrate”.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s Christmas Themed window “Over the East River and Through the Neighborhoods to Grandfather’s House We Go”

Rockefeller

Rockefeller Center’s Christmas Tree was even more special this year

I thought the windows at Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf-Goodman really lacked in creativity. Bloomingdale’s was having a bad year and Bergdorf’s had just gotten sold again (forth time since I worked there in 2004) so I did not expect much. With Lord & Taylor declaring bankruptcy earlier in the year and closing the main store on Fifth Avenue and B. Altman’s long gone and Macy’s going mechanical for the last few years, the excitement of seeing the windows has been less than enthusiastic.

Still it was nice to walk around Midtown after leaving the Rockefeller Center area and just walking around Third, Park and Madison Avenues. By 7:00pm, everything had shut down for the night and the streets were really quiet. What was eerie was when walking down Park Avenue and looking up and seeing so many dark buildings. The area looked abandoned with so many apartment lights out. I wondered where everyone went?

When Maricel got off work, I brought in dinner 9th Avenue Deli at 769 Ninth Avenue. I brought in a juicy cheeseburger and chicken fingers which we shared and then dug into. The perfect comfort food on a cool night. Christmas Eve was a mild 59 degrees and it was nice to walk around.

9th Avenue Deli

9th Avenue Deli at 769 9th Avenue

We just hung out the whole night and watched movies in the hotel room. I went to bed early and sunk into the wonderful Marriott hotel bed. Marriott had the best hotel beds and every time I stay at one of their hotels, I slept like a log.

Christmas Day we just relaxed in the room and I called many members of my family to wish them a Merry Christmas. While Maricel went to work, I decided to start touring neighborhoods like Kips Bay, Rose Hill and NoMAD in preparation in my walks there. It started out being a cold, cloudy day and there was barely anyone on the street. I saw a few people walking their dogs and that was about it until about 3:00pm. It them cleared up and was a mild 55 degrees until it got dark and then cooled down.

What really shocked me about Times Square was how dirty it was on the streets. They had not picked up the garbage on Christmas Eve day and did not pick it up until after Christmas Day so between the theaters being boarded up and the ply boards filled with graffiti, hotels closed and restaurants shut, the whole Theater district looked like NYC circa 1975. It was creepy how the pandemic was affecting the business of this neighborhood.

Neighborhoods like Kips Bay, Murray Hill, Rose Hill, NoMAD and the Flatiron District were really quiet that morning and early afternoon. All the restaurants and stores were dark, three hotels had closed in the district and I saw just a few people milling around. Things changed as I got closer to Macy’s Herald Square.

When walking around Koreatown, which runs between Sixth and Fifth Avenues between 35th to 32nd Streets, the side streets were teeming with Korean couples and groups of family members dining in the outdoor restaurants and cafes. This neighborhood was really jumping and full of life.

As the day wore on by 5:00pm, the rest of the City came back to life and more restaurants and stores opened up. Christmas morning and afternoon were now over and I could tell that people wanted to get out of the house (probably to get away from the family celebrations). When Maricel returned, I ordered in dinner from Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue, one of the few neighborhood restaurants open and we our dinner in the room. The food was okay. It was nice to just eat in the room and relax.

Christmas dinner was Lemon Chicken and Fried Rice from Golden City Chinese Restaurant

We checked out at noon on the 26th and she left for work that afternoon, I headed into Brooklyn to visit the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Museum. Both were really quiet that day. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden was mostly dormant for the winter and most of the garden was closed off because of COVID. The “Studio 54” exhibition had long closed at the Brooklyn Museum so I just wondered the halls and looked at some of the changes in the permanent exhibitions that they had. I left the City for home early that evening.

The last week of the holiday, I entertained family at a Lasagna and Champagne dinner I had a the house. Since I was not able to spend time at home during the holidays, my aunts came over to my house and we had a three course meal with champagne and wine. We spent the whole night laughing and enjoying the evening.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet evening at home alone talking with other friends who were staying home alone as well. Times Square was empty that evening with the exception of the 350 first responders who were invited to the ball drop. When I watched it on TV it was eerie to see it so quiet. There was no one for blocks except police guarding Times Square.

I headed back up to the Hudson River Valley again on New Year’s Day to go on two walking tours in Staatsburgh, NY at the Mills Mansion. It was the Annual “First of the Year” walking tours and it was a cool, crisp morning for a walking tour of the property. There were two tours that morning, one was on “Winter Activities in Victorian Times” with us learning about all the winter activities that the residents here enjoyed like skating , sledding, ice boating and horse drawn sleigh rides.

Staatsburgh, the Mills Mansion in the winter

The other tour later that afternoon was on “Ice Harvesting in the Hudson River Valley” , where we learned about how the ice harvesting of the Hudson River was a big business before the advent of refrigeration. Large slabs of ice were cut from the river, floated down stream and then packed in straw awaiting sale over the metropolitan area for peoples ice boxes throughout the year. It just gave me anther excuse to visit the region I love so much.

My blog on the Mills Mansion on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2137

Another local event that was COVID safe was a driving tour through the “Holiday Lightshow” at Demarest Farms in Hillsdale, NJ. This was the first time that the farm opened the apple and peach orchard across the street from the farm stand. I saw this display the last week it was open and even after the holidays, it was a special treat as we awaited the Epiphany.

Driving through the display only took about forty minutes but was a delight in the senses and sounds. I played the classical music station as I drove through and admired all the colorful lights on the now dormant trees while Santa’s and Snowmen winked and waved and toy soldiers lit the way through the dark field. Even the Demarest homestead was ablaze with lights.

Demarest Farms Christmas

Demarest Farms at 244 Werimus Drive in Hillsdale, NJ

My blog on “Visiting the Farms of Bergen County, NJ at Christmas”:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/16128

Don’t miss this holiday lights ride through the orchard in 2021

The holiday event I visited was the Bronx Zoo for their “Holiday Lights” event at the zoo. It was the last night of the event and I arranged for the tickets that afternoon. The zoo gave me a 30% discount to go that evening and I was on the subway ride up to the Bronx.

The Bronx Zoo Light Show

I was really impressed by the display. The entire park was decorated with white lights, with different sections of the park decorated with different themes such as jungle animals, aquatic mammals and all sorts of assorted elephants, seals, penguins, lions, tigers and bears (oh my haha). There were costumed characters to take pictures with and they even had the Bug Carousel open that evening. I got a kick out of riding this since I had not done this since I was a little kid.

Bronx Zoo Christmas tree

The Bronx Zoo musical Christmas Tree in the old part of the zoo

In the older section of the park, they had zebras on stilts and a musical Christmas trees that had an interesting soundtrack of contemporary Christmas songs. Even though Christmas had been over now for almost two weeks, it me back into the Christmas spirit.

My blog on the Bronx Zoo:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5013

So there was the Christmas holidays in the era of COVID. Lots of outdoor activities in hot and cold weather. Many walking tours and more subdued events. Gone were the cocktail parties and big formal dinners and in their place were many more smaller outdoor events and communicating with nature.

Maybe we all needed to take a break from the more formal traditions and go back to the basics of family and friends. I think this was a reflective year and realizing what is important. It had not changed that much for me. I just adjusted to the times, wore a mask and got going. Staying safe and keeping others safe is what is all about.

The holidays were just different this year.

Places to Stay:

AC Hotel New York Times Square

260 West 40th Street

New York, NY 10018

(844) 631-0595

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/nycma-ac-hotel-new-york-times-square/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60763-d12695463-Reviews-AC_Hotel_New_York_Times_Square-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Eat:

9th Avenue Deli

769 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10019

(212) 258-2600

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4758581-Reviews-9th_Ave_Deli_Corp-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15162978-Reviews-AM_PM_Deli_Grocery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/762

Golden City Chinese Restaurant

423 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10001

(212) 643-9232/736-4004

http://www.goldencitynyc.com/

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3930125-Reviews-Golden_City_Chinese_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Hell’s Kitchen Deli

535 Ninth Avenue

New York, NY 10018

(212) 594-3393

Open: Sunday-Saturday 24 hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15167472-Reviews-Hell_s_Kitchen_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

The Bronx Zoo

2300 Southern Boulevard

The Bronx, NY 10460

(718) 367-1010

https://bronxzoo.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm

Fee: Members Free/Adults-Full Experience $39.95/Senior Full Experience $34.99/Child (3-12) $29.99/Child (under 3) Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d136079-Reviews-Bronx_Zoo-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on TripAdvisor for the “Holiday Lights Festival”:

https://static.tacdn.com/AttractionProductReview-g47369-d19708232-Bronx_Zoo_Holiday_Lights-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5013

Staatsburgh State Historic Site(The Mills Mansion)

75 Mills Mansion Drive

Staatsburgh, NY  12580

http://www.facebook.com/staatsburghSHS

Open: Thursday-Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48676-d107418-Reviews-Staatsburgh_State_Historic_Site_Mills_Mansion-Staatsburg_New_York.html?m=19905

Hours: Open Thursday-Sunday: 11:00am-5:00pm (the last tour is at 4:00pm)/Open Monday Holidays from April 19th to October 28th. The mansion then closes to prepare for the holiday season. Closed on Thanksgiving and Easter. There are special programs from January to April so please see the website.

Admission: $8.00 for adults/$6.00 for groups and Seniors/Children under 12 are free. Special events have separate fees and can run from $8.00 to $10.00 and above.

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2137

The Bergen County Historical Society

1201 Main Street

River Edge, NJ 07661

(201) 343-9492

http://bergencountyhistory.org/

Open: Special Events and weekend hours check the website site

Fee: Depends on events/donations

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46776-d7603554-Reviews-Historic_New_Bridge_Landing-River_Edge_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

Visit the Sister Entry on this blog of the Campbell-Christi House VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/872

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/531

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

990 Washington Avenue

Brooklyn, NY  11225

(718) 623-7210

http://www.bbg.org

Open:  Sunday and Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday  8:00am-6:00pm

Admission: Depending on the time of year/please check the website

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2785

Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway

Brooklyn, NY 11238

(718) 638-5000

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday & Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 11:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60827-d110213-Reviews-Brooklyn_Museum-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

130 East 25th Street

Day One Hundred and Eighty-Seven: Walking the Border, Avenues and Streets of Rose Hill/NoMAD from East 30th to East 25th Streets from Lexington to Madison Avenues January 8th-10th, 2021

I finished Kips Bay right before the holidays and the comings and goings of the holidays took up a lot of time. I still can’t believe the Christmas holiday season is over. It was so surreal from previous holidays. In the era of COVID, it has really been a crazy time in history. I told my students before we finished the semester, that they were living through a Business case study in which people will be talking about for years.

I have had a chance since the City reopened in June through the holidays to revisit many of the neighborhoods that I have walked previously and it is shocking the number of places that have gone out of business since just Christmas. In just two weeks, I have seen more storefronts empty out than since the end of the summer. Many restaurants especially have not been able to survive the Christmas holiday season with them being closed to indoor dining and then the colder weather setting in earlier. I see more people eating outside huddled next to a lone pool heater. At least Christmas Eve and Day were really warm and the restaurants were able to keep busy outside.

I was finally able to visit the MoMA this morning. It was the first time since March 10th that I was able to visit the museum. The last time I had been there was to see the ‘Jack Lemon Retrospect’ and saw the film “The Odd Couple”. Than just a few days later everything closed. I was able to see the ‘Judd Exhibition’, with its colorful large sculpture installments and then explored the new extension of the museum that had opened up since the COVID pandemic. It was strange to see so few people in the museum.

Judd Exhibition MoMA

The “Judd Exhibition” at the MoMA

https://www.moma.org/artists/2948

Donald Judd artist

https://www.artsy.net/artist/donald-judd

Donald Judd was an American born artist who studied art and phlosophy at Columbia University and had been an art critic for years while dabbling in paining. In the 1960’s, he started he started to create three dimensional works of art and known for his wide scale installations (Artist bio).

After the visit to the museum, I traveled down Fifth Avenue to East 42nd Street and then crossed over to Lexington Avenue and this is where the shocking part was to see how many businesses have closed since Christmas alone. There were so many small stores that just were open and many more restaurants and delis that are now empty or closed until further notice. Even when entering Rose Hill, there were at least three more hotels that are now boarded up for closure. These neighborhoods look from the outskirts seem vibrant but walking on the streets tells another story.

Even the streets on a Friday afternoon seemed quiet. It had been busier closer to Rockefeller Center to see the tree and Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows but all those things are now gone. I would have expected to see the Christmas tree still up until at least this Sunday but everything was gone. The Epiphany was on January 6th and I would have thought to keep it up with a little holiday cheer until the weekend.

Rockefeller Christmas Tree 2020

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 2020

I got to Kips Bay by 1:00pm and started the walk by visiting Curry Express again at 130 East 29th Street for some more of their Curry Chicken Patties ($3.00). I needed a quick snack and these are really good. The ground well seasoned chicken is filled with the aroma of curry and spices and accented with fresh peas in a puff pastry. They are truly delicious and have a nice crunch in every bite.

Curry Express

Curry Express at 130 East 29th Street has the most delicious Chicken Curry Patties

“Rose Hill” is the name of a farm that used to sit on the site of this neighborhood. Like “Murray Hill” and “Kips Bay”, this name is rooted in the Colonial Period of Manhattan and New York City. The neighborhood is now part of two other neighborhoods, “Kips Bay” extends from East 34th to 23rd Streets and from Lexington Avenue to the East River and “NoMAD” (North of Madison Square Park) extends from Lexington to Sixth Avenue from East 30th to East 25th Street.

That with the “Flatiron District” extending from Sixth to Lexington Avenue from West to East 26th to West and East 20th Street, so there is a lot of overlapping neighborhoods especially between West to East 26th to 25th Streets. Even with “Kips Bay”, part of Rose Hill extends into that from Lexington to Third Avenues from East 30th to 25th Streets. Confused yet? It must be interesting for people who want to be part of one neighborhood association.

“Rose Hill Farm” has an interesting history. According to a historical genealogical source, the first “Rose Hill” was a farm acquired from James DeLancey, a prominent New Yorker who was also a Loyalist (Loyal to the Crown of England during the Colonial Period) in November 1747. John Watts Sr. was married to Ann DeLancey, the youngest daughter of Stephen DeLancey (Wiki).

John Watts

John Watts Sr.

Ann DeLancey Watts

Ann DeLancey Watts

The Honorable John Watts, who represented the City for many years in the Colonial Assembly bought the farm that contained over 130 acres which lay on the East River between what were to become East 21st to 30th Streets between the future 4th Avenue and the river. Watt’s residence at the time was at 3 Broadway facing the Bowling Green Park, which itself at the time was one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in Downtown Manhattan. This area above Wall Street was still mostly rural (Wiki).

The main house on the farm burned during the British occupancy in 1779 and the couple left for England after the war. Parts of the property were sold off between 1780 and 1790 and the rest of the farm was inherited by their son, John Watts Jr. The farm went on the market again in 1790 (Wiki).

Jo

John Watts Jr.

Revolutionary War General, Horatio Gates, acquired the farm in 1790 and established an country seat in the mansion at the present corner of Second Avenue and East 22nd Street. He and his wife, Mary Valens Gates lived here are were part of New York Society until his death on the estate in 1806. After the planning of the ‘Commissioner’ Plan of 1811′, the site was divided into building parcels and streets following the Manhattan grid (Wiki).

Horatio Gates

General Horatio Gates

The southwest corner of the estate became Gramercy Park. Nothing exists of the farm today but just the name and is considered to be part of the NoMAD neighborhood (North of Madison Square Park), that was coined in the late 1990’s (Wiki).

Gramercy Park

Gramercy Park is all that is left of the original Rose Hill Estate

I started my walk of the neighborhood on a rather cold and gloomy afternoon. The sun would peak out at different times but it got colder as it got dark. My trip to “Curry Hill” warmed me up though. Between the smells of the neighborhood of cumin and curry and the warmth of the chicken patty, it boosted me up.

I walked past the now closed restaurants on the stretch between East 29th to East 26th Streets. The closing of indoor dining in New York City restaurants was really killing business for everyone. A few had ‘for rent’ signs on them now. Others had altered their hours. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out as the next three months get colder.

I turned the corner at East 25th Street and headed towards Madison Avenue. I passed one of my favorite buildings that I saw when I was walking around Kips Bay 130 East 25th Street. The building is covered with snakes, skulls and dragons carved along the side of it.

130 East 25th Stree

Someone had a warped sense of humor

The former B. W. Mayer Building which now houses the Friends House in Rosehall was built in 1916 by architect Herman Lee Meader (Wiki). You really have to walk around the building to see all the unusual carvings that line the building.

130 East 25th Street

130 East 25th Street, the former B. W. Mayer Building

130

The doorway arch really stands out

Across the street at 68 Lexington Avenue is the 69th Regiment Building. The building had a little action going on when I passed by with an ambulance outside and guys in their uniforms running around. This beautiful building is the home to the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Fighting Irish” since the Civil War (Wiki).

69

69th Regiment Building at 68 Lexington Avenue

The building was designed by architects Hunt & Hunt in the Beaux Arts style and was completed in 1906. It has been home to many events and show including the controversial 1913 Armory Show of contemporary art (Wiki). You really have to walk around the building to admire its beauty and history. The building stretches from East 25th to East 26th Street and back towards Park Avenue. You really have to walk around the building to admire its beauty.

Walking down East 25th Street, you realize as you start to border the Midtown area that the buildings take up more of the blocks and there are less smaller brownstones and tenements in the area. The dominate building on the block by Madison Square Park is 11-25 Madison Avenue, the Metropolitan Life Buildings. The building that lines this part of East 25th Street is the Metropolitan Life North Building (or 11 Madison Avenue).

Metropolitan Life Building

Metropolitan Life North Building at 25 Madison Avenue

This beautiful building was the extension of the main headquarters next door on Madison Avenue. The building was designed by the architectural team of Harvey Wiley Corbett and D. Everett Waid in the Art Deco style in the late 1920’s as the tallest building in the world but the Great Depression changed the plans and it was built in three stages. The first finished in 1932, the second in 1940 and the third in 1950 (Wiki).

The loggia

The archways ‘Loggias’ on each side of the building

What stands out about the building is the arched vaults on each corner of the structure called ‘loggias’ and the features were made in limestone and pink marble. When you stand under them you can see the colors and details of the marble carvings (Wiki). Just walking around the building the features are impressive and standout.

Across the street from the Metropolitan Life North Building at 27 Madison Avenue is the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State and one of the most beautiful and detailed buildings I have seen on my walks. The building was designed by architect James Lord Brown in 1896 in the Beaux Arts Style and is adorned heavily in sculpture (Wiki). You really have to step back and walk across the street to see the details on the building.

27 Madison Avenue

27 Madison Avenue The Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State

Looking up close, you can see that the building resembles a Greek Temple and was considered one of the best examples of the “City Beautiful Movement” that occurred during the 1890’s and 1900’s to enhance cities with monumental grandeur and beauty (Wiki).

The historical beauty of the architecture continued up the border of the neighborhood as I walked up Madison Avenue towards East 30th Street. You have to walk both sides of Madison Avenue to appreciate the designs and details of the buildings that line the avenue.

You have to look close to the building or you will miss it is the sculpture by artist Harriet Feigenbaum. It is a memorial to victims of the Holocaust and is very powerful in its work showing the concentration camps.

Harriet Feigenbaum artist

“The Memorial to the Injustice of the Victims of the Holocaust”-“Indifference to Justice is the Road to Hell”

Harriet Feigenbaum Artist

https://www.harrietfeigenbaum.com/home.html

Harriet Feigenbaum is an American sculptor and environmentalist. Her works cover sculpture, film and drawings that are seen all over the world (Wiki and artist bio).

I passed 50 Madison Avenue and noticed how the buildings blended in design. The bottom level of the building was built in 1896 as the headquarters of the ASPCA (American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals). The building was designed by architects Renwick, Aspinwell & Owen and had a classic ‘club like’ design to it. The building was refitted and added to in 2005 by the firm of Samson Management with a six story addition to luxury condos (CityRealty.com).

50 Madison Avenue-The former ASPCA headquarters

Another ornamental building that stands out in the neighborhood is 51 Madison Avenue which is the home of New York Life Insurance Building. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in 1926 in the Art Deco style with Gothic Revival details along the sides and was finished in 1928. The structure is topped with a gilded roof (Wiki & New York Life Insurance history). This is another building that you have to see from all sides.

51 Madison Avenue

51 Madison Avenue-The New York Life Insurance Building

Continuing my walk up Madison Avenue while admiring the architecture of the neighborhood is The James NoMAD Hotel, the former Seville Hotel, on the corner of East 29th Street at 88 Madison Avenue. This interesting hotel has gone through several name changes and renovations since it was built in 1904. The hotel was designed by architect Harry Alan Jacobs in the Beaux Arts style and the annex to the hotel was designed by Charles T. Mott in 1906 (Wiki).

The James NoMAD Hotel

88 Madison Avenue-The James NoMAD Hotel (formerly The Seville)

The outdoor dining was open for the restaurant the first afternoon I had visited the neighborhood even though I thought it was a little cool to eat outside. Even though you can’t go inside unless you are a guest, I could see the holiday decorations and lights from the street and it looked very elegant inside.

Across the street from this elegant hotel is 95 Madison Avenue the former Emmett Building. The structure was designed by architects John Stewart Barney and Stockton B. Colt of Barney & Colt for Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet in 1912 when the area was a wholesale district. The building is designed in the French Neo-Renaissance with Gothic style ornamentation (New York Landmark Preservation Commission and Wiki).

95 Madison Avenue Emmet Building

95 Madison Avenue-The Emmet Building

Another building that had beautiful detail work carved into it is 160-164 Lexington Avenue at the corner of East 29th Street and Lexington Avenue, The Dove Street Marketplace, which offers floor after floor of high end goods.

160-164 Lexington Avenue

The detail work is amazing on 160-164 Lexington Avenue-The Dove Street Market

The building has the most beautiful detail work on all sides. It was built in 1909 as the New York School for Applied Design for Women. It was designed by one of the school’s instructors, architect Wiley Corbett, to resemble a Greek Temple (Forgotten New York).

160-164 Lexington Avenue

160-164 Lexington Avenue

Across the street from the Dover Street Market at 154 Lexington Avenue is the First Moravian Church. The building was started in 1849 and finished in 1852 at the Rose Hill Baptist Church designed in the Lombardian Romanesque style. In 1869, the church was sold to the First Moravian Church which had been located at Sixth Avenue and 34th Street (Daytonian in Manhattan).

First Moravian Church

The First Moravian Church at 154 Lexington Avenue was built in 1854

As I walked past both these elegant buildings, I was stuck by how quiet the neighborhood was that afternoon. There was no one else but myself walking around and there was very little road activity. As I rounded the corner to walk down East 30th Street (the border of the neighborhood with Koreatown and Midtown), not just how empty the sidewalks were but the there was barely any traffic for a weekday. The City has really quieted down since the holidays.

The only section of the neighborhood that still looked residential at this point was a small section of East 30th Street towards Lexington Avenue where some small townhouses and brownstones are located. Many of the doorways and railings were still decorated for the holidays and it did have that festive feel as it got darker and residents turned their lights on.

As I walked back down Madison Avenue and was able to take a full look of the buildings on both sides of the street, I was stuck by the beauty and elegance of the once ‘race to the skies’ by trying to build these buildings taller and taller with the advent of elevators. In their quest to the top, these architects never lost site that not only should a building be functional but have a detail in design that should make it distinct.

I decided to walk up the only Avenue that dissects the neighborhood which is Park Avenue and it was a very eerie trip from East 25th to East 30th. You could see the back section of most of the above buildings from their Madison Avenue homes but tucked here and there were closed hotels, restaurants and stores lined with for rent signs. The Royalton Hotel, Blue Smoke and Sarabeth’s Restaurant were just three of the well-known names that were either boarded up or had ‘for rent’ signs on their windows.

For dinner, I traveled back to the edge of Kips Bay to try Kips Bay Deli at 545 Second Avenue. This small little deli seems very popular with the locals and I have to say has the best sandwiches. I had an Italian hero sandwich ($8.95) that was loaded with cold cuts and fresh lettuce and tomatoes and just a splash of vinegar and oil. I ate it in the park watching the sun set. There is nothing better.

Kips Bay Deli at 545 Second Avenue

I had time that Sunday to complete walking the Streets of the neighborhood as well from East 30th to East 24th Streets. Because of the commercial nature of the area, most of the buildings stretch the entire block and you can see more of the details of the buildings on the side streets. Between Madison and Park, many newer buildings have gone up and the historic character of Madison Avenue changes.

Another scary point when walking around this part of Madison Avenue is how many businesses have closed. There are more ‘for rent’ signs on the side streets than I have seen in other neighborhoods. This has probably been a result of the closing of the office buildings in the neighborhood and the loss of foot traffic.

The result of the COVID pandemic and the lack of office workers working in the area is the result of parts of this neighborhood being a ghost town. Like walking in Times Square and the Theater District when I was in Manhattan for Christmas, these businesses are on hold until people start traveling and working in the area again. Being more commercial of a neighborhood, I could see the results of the lack of foot traffic and closed indoor dining.

The only standout I saw on the side streets was the building at 29 East 28th Street which looked like an old home tucked in between several new office buildings. The building was the former clubhouse of the Delta Psi Society fraternity. It was built in 1879 by reknown architect at the time James Renwick Jr. The building was built with cream colored brick and terra cotta details with a mansard roof. It was later renamed the St. Anthony’s Club in 1889. Today it is an apartment complex (Daytonian).

29 East 29th Street

29 East 28th Street

Still when I got back to Madison Square Park, which runs from East 23rd to East 26th Streets. there was a lot of action in the playground with kids yelling and screaming and playing on the jungle gyms and swings while parents who looked cold talked amongst themselves.

When I walked into the park to take a break, it must have been the busiest section of the neighborhood between the playground and the original Shake Shack that were serving food to a crowd clung to their cellphones.

I stopped to look at the statue of our 21st President Chester A. Arthur, who had taken oath just two blocks away in his New York townhouse where the Kalustyan’s Specialty Foods is located at 123 Lexington Avenue. I thought about what was going on in our government today and what they must have gone through with this transition.

Chester A. Arthur Statue

The Statue of Chester A. Arthur in Madison Square Park

The statue of our 21st President was designed by artist George Edwin Bissell and the pedestal by architect James Brown Lord.

Artist George Edwin Bissell

https://americanart.si.edu/artist/george-edwin-bissell-430

George Edwin Bissell was an American born artist from Connecticut whose father was a quarry-man and marble carver. He studied sculpture abroad in Paris in the late 1870’s and was known for his historical sculptures of important figures of the time (Wiki).

Madison Square Park is an interesting little oasis from all the traffic and office space. It has an interesting history since it was designated a public space in 1686 by British Royal Governor Thomas Dongan. It has served as a potters field, an arsenal and a home for delinquents. In 1847, the space was leveled, landscaped and enclosed as a park. It became part of the New York Park system in 1870. There are many historical figures featured in the park (NYCParks.org).

The park today is a major meeting spot for residents and tourists alike with a dog track and the original Shake Shack restaurant.

Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park in the Summer months

As I left the neighborhood, I thought of what Rose Hill Farm had become and if its owners could see what it looked like today. I think they would flabbergasted by the growth and change and even into today with what the COVID era has done to the neighborhood currently.

Even I am shocked at the changed in barely a year and what a pandemic can do to a City. Still the Christmas tree in the park cheered me up.

The Madison Square Park Christmas tree was still up on my last visit

That evening to continue keeping Christmas going I visited the “Holiday Lights” event at the Bronx Zoo and spent the evening walk along the paths admiring the lights and displays. It gives me hope that the City has fallen somewhat but not totally out.

The Bronx Zoo "Holiday Lights" Event

The musical Christmas tree at the Bronx Zoo

My write up on that event:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5013

Places to Visit:

Museum of Modern Art

11 West 53rd Street

New York, NY 10019

(212) 708-9400

https://www.moma.org/

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:30am-5:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d105126-Reviews-The_Museum_of_Modern_Art_MoMA-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Madison Square Park

11 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10010

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/madison-square-park

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d501513-Reviews-Madison_Square_Park-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

“Curry Hill” section of Kips Bay

Lexington Avenue from East 29th to East 26th Streets

The Bronx Zoo

2300 Southern Boulevard

The Bronx, NY 10460

(718) 367-1010

https://bronxzoo.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm

Fee: Members Free/Adults-Full Experience $39.95/Senior Full Experience $34.99/Child (3-12) $29.99/Child (under 3) Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d136079-Reviews-Bronx_Zoo-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on TripAdvisor for the “Holiday Lights Festival”:

https://static.tacdn.com/AttractionProductReview-g47369-d19708232-Bronx_Zoo_Holiday_Lights-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/5013

Places to eat:

Curry Express

130 East 29th Street

New York, NY 10016

(212) 251-0202

http://www.curryexpressnyc.com/

Open: Sunday 10:00am-12:00am/Monday-Friday 10:00am-2:00am/Saturday 10:00am-3:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4318075-Reviews-Curry_Express-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Kips Bay Deli

545 Second Avenue

New York, NY 10016

(917) 261-2927

https://kips-bay-deli.business.site/

Open: 24 hours a day

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d23061847-Reviews-Kips_Bay_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1961

*Special Note: I wanted to give a special thanks to Wiki, StreetEasy, Daytonian and NYCParks.org for all the historical information and facts. There was so much to know and cover in this neighborhood).

The Bronx Zoo

Day One Hundred and Forty-Two: The Private Members Night at the Bronx Zoo July 18th, 2019

 

After just finishing Turtle Bay and my next start of the walk in East Midtown, I took the night off and had been invited to a private members night at the Bronx Zoo. Having been occupied by my responsibilities on the fire department for the last six years and always being the night of our department meeting I always had to miss the event. Since I am no longer Secretary of the Department, I decided to attend this year. On a rather gloomy, cloudy Thursday night I took the subway up to the Bronx for the event (I was smart in calling first to be sure it was still happening and Membership said it was).

I had not taken the subway this far up to the Bronx in years and was amazed at all the changes. The South Bronx has been on a building spree for the last twenty years and it shows with all the new apartment buildings springing up all over the place. I have not seen this much new construction since walking around West End Avenue in Manhattan.

I was not sure where to get off on the subway and forgot to ask when asking the best way to get to the zoo. I just took the Number 2 train up to the Bronx and got off at the Bronx Park stop. That was interesting. I thought that the subway would drop me off closer to the entrance but this took me to the other side of the park and I had to walk around. Did I feel like a fish out of water.

I was in the middle of an Arabic neighborhood where everyone totally ignored me. I guess that was the interesting part of it was feeling invisible. It was mostly made up of small businesses with lots of restaurants and bakeries in the area. Walking down 180th Street from the subway finally got me to the entrance to the zoo.

I had not been to the Bronx Zoo in about twenty years, not since the Congo Exhibit opened so it was a treat for me. The only problem with Member’s Night was the threat of rain as it had been cloudy all day but that did not damper the crowds that came into the zoo. For the most part, there have been many changes to the zoo over the years and the philosophy of raising animals in captivity has changed so the exhibits have changed with it.

The only problem I saw was that many of the animals looked bored or contained. Almost like a nursing home for the wild. The zoo does need to look at the displays more to see how the animals are reacting to it. I have to say though, the zoo really has done a nice job with the new displays and done a good job with keeping them well-feed and happy.

Bronx Zoo Map

The Bronx Zoo Map

I started my night in  the Jungle World exhibition. This glassed in exhibit is home to birds, insects and monkeys all of which are a tad bit small for the animals. There was a lot packed into a small space. It was an interesting to see the animals in a somewhat realistic  environment but still I saw the looks on the monkeys faces and they looked bored. I think they should pair this exhibit down with less mammals and give the animals left more space. It is fascinating how they expect something to live in such small quarters.

It was more fun when I got to the monorail and got to see animals in a larger more realistic habitat. Here they had room to move around. Even so they way the animals looked at us passing by I don’t know who was looking at who. The ride was interesting as each animal  lived in its own place to live and roam.

We had a guide who took us past herds of deer, a lion den, two rhinos who were playing amongst each other and bison who were going about their business. I liked this exhibition because it gives these animals a realistic home with room to move around. We got to make stops at each of the habitats and the speaker gave us a little talk about each animal, how it has adapted to New York weather and you get to see how each animal interact with each other.

Bronx Zoo II

The Treetop Adventure climb

Once I was off the monorail, I took the path down to the Treetop Adventure exhibition where you get to climb all through the obstacles of rope bridges and ladders. That was a lot of fun keeping up with the teenagers who were racing through the maze. I climbed up rope ladders, crossed rope bridges and climbed through barrels to the top of every stop. It was fun to see how the age groups handled each section of it. The toughest part was climbing through the last circular tube because it is meant for little kids and I had to crawl on all four to get through but I went through the whole thing like a pro. It seemed to impress the little kids.

Bronx Zoo IV

The Treetop Maze

From the Treetop Adventure I traveled east down the path to the World of Birds exhibition and got to see many different species of birds. There was a nice assortment of exotic birds from all over the world in their jungle habitat. Each section of the exhibit was dedicated to a different species from all corners of the globe.

Bronx Zoo World of Birds.jpg

The World of Birds

After the World of Birds, I passed Tiger Mountain and looked at the tiger that looked at all of us and the poor thing looked bored. I think the humidity was getting to him but unlike the other visitors I did not want to arouse him because by the end of the day he looked tired.

The next part of the pathway took me to the Bear exhibition in which all the bears looked very playful and they looked like they were ignoring us and were have a good time amongst themselves. What I liked about this exhibit was that there was plenty of  room for the bears to move around and engage with nature. The mother bear looked like she was having fun with the cubs.

I then walked through Samba Village which I guess was the zoo’s take on an African village. Everything was closed that evening maybe because of the crowd or because the weather was not that nice and the zoo figured that the weather might keep people away. As I passed the buildings I did not realize that it was a gift shop and a snack shop.

Bronx Zoo Gorilla Forest II

Congo Gorilla Forest

I next visited the Congo Gorilla Forest for the first time since it opened over twenty years earlier. The exhibit has several different species of gorilla and monkey each in their own encampments. The area is large and is furnished with all sorts of trees, rocks and water placements that make the habitat more real for the mammals. For the most part I saw the gorillas just go about their day walking with each other and taking care of each other. It was nice that the zoo created an environment where the mammals felt right at home. There was lots of room to move around.

Bronx Zoo Gorilla Forest.jpg

Congo Gorilla Forest

After visiting the Congo Gorilla Forest, I went to see what was open for dinner. The Dancing Crane Cafe that was located in the older section of the zoo. The restaurant was packed with families that I did not want to bother eating then and since it was getting late wanted to see the Dinosaur Walk and the Sea Lion Tank before the end of the evening.

When I got to the Sea Lion Tank at the Astor Court, the sea lions were in the pool splashing around showing off to all the patrons who were watching them swim. They are so used to people watching them they just swam and dove around us. I thought they waved to us.

Bronx Zoo Sea Lion.jpg

The Bronx Zoo posted this and I thought he looked cute

The main entrance of the zoo facing the Fordham Road entrance is the original zoo that was built in 1907. This is where the original animal buildings were located that are now used for administration purposes. These buildings are some of the original buildings when the park opened after 1899. These graceful stone buildings were built by the firm of Heins & Lafarge and the Rockefeller Fountain was donated by William Rockefeller.  It had been built by Biagio Catella in 1872 and moved to the park in 1903.

 

The Rockefeller Fountain built by Biagio Catella

Bronx Zoo Rockefeller Fountain.jpg

This is the Monkey House

Bronx Zoo Monkey House

The Reptile House

Bronx Zoo Reptile House.jpg

The Lion House

Bronx Zoo Lion House II

The Elephant House

Bronx Zoo Elephant House.jpg

Don’t miss walking around Astor Court after visiting the sea lions. These buildings are a real treat  if you love architecture and detailed stone work. Each building has its own unique look to it and the animals grace the buildings where they used to live at a time when animals were just an amusement instead of living breathing animals who needed living space. Still the Victorians knew how to design a building.

I walked along the gardens near the fountain and by Astor Court while the band set up for a family concert for the families. As the sky threatened, the families got ready for the concert. I decided to visit the Dinosaur Safari Walk before the park closed.

This was very interesting as they movable Dinosaurs in the natural habitat placed  here and there along the walk by species. The dinosaurs winked, moved and roared around us giving me the creepy feeling that I was in the movie ‘Jurassic Park’. As I walked through the exhibit, I watched as they moved around and lifted their heads up to look at us. I thought it was very clever and in our case Thank God they were not real.

Bronx Zoo Dinosaur Safari.jpg

Don’t miss the ‘Dinosaur Safari’ before it closes

On the way back from the walk, I stopped to admire all the buildings once again that surrounded Astor Court. Really look up and see the detail work of the stone animals. The artisans did a wonderful job with the craftsmanship and the intricate details.

While everyone else was enjoying the concert, I made the trip back to The Dancing Crane Cafe  (See Review on TripAdvisor) for dinner. It was around 7:00 pm when I got to the restaurant and that and the gift shop were still busy. I have to say for a zoo restaurant I was pretty impressed by the food. It is standard children’s menu with hamburgers, chicken fingers and individual pizza.

Dancing Crane Cafe

The Dancing Crane Cafe

I had the Chicken Fingers and French Fries combination dinner with a Coke ($11.99 with a 10% membership discount). They were delicious. Perfectly cooked with just the right amount of breading and perfectly deep fried where they crisp on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside. Usually these things are sitting under a heat lamp dried out but here the restaurant was so busy that every thing was freshly cooked and delicious. It was fun to sit by the window and watch the flamingos in the pool next to the restaurant or just watch the other members trying to calm their kids down before the zoo closed for the evening.

As the last of members and their families came into the restaurant for dinner, the Bug Carousel was going in full force and packed with kids and their parents trying to get one last ride in before the park closed. I could not believe the prices of everything and how much was extra when you visit the zoo but that is the nice part of being a member of the Wildlife Conservatory. Everyone once in a while there is a nice member perk.

Even though it was a somewhat gloomy night, I had a ball walking around the zoo and enjoying the company of other members who were also having a good time with their families. It is nice to see that my membership is making a difference.

I took the Number 2 subway at the 180th Street stop this time back to Manhattan.

 

Places to Visit:

The Bronx Zoo

2300 Southern Boulevard

Bronx, NY 10460

(718) 220-5100

https://bronxzoo.com/

Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm

Fee: Members Free/Adults-Full Experience $39.95/Senior Full Experience $34.99/Child (3-12) $29.99/Child (under 3) Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d136079-Reviews-Bronx_Zoo-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/visitingamuseum.com/5013

 

Places to Eat:

The Dancing Crane Cafe

Inside the Zoo

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5585261-Reviews-Dancing_Crane_Cafe-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905