Happy Chinese New Year! (2018) & Happy New Year Again (2020)
After a long day in the Soup Kitchen (I have to stop doubling up events on days), instead of finishing the walk of the Upper East Side, I decided to head downtown to Chinatown for the first day of Chinese New Year. What a madhouse!
First off, it was a gloomy day. The clouds kept threatening rain which finally came around 4:00 pm but it did not damper everyone’s spirits. The city closed off the main streets of Chinatown, so people were able to walk around Mott, Mulberry, Bayard, Elizabeth Streets and all the side streets around the core of Chinatown.
It was a very festive afternoon of Lion Dances in front of businesses and a non-stop of silly string and firecrackers going off all over the neighborhood. It was fun watching all the kids…
The darker days of the Fall have come and it is starting to get dark at 4:30pm in the afternoon. It gets so depressing sometimes. Still this part of the City is dressed up for the Christmas holidays so all is still cheerful with sparking lights and window displays. The hotels and department stores in the neighborhood are in full swing and everyone is getting ready for the holidays.
Putting the Sinterklaas Parade behind me and visits to decorated mansions in New York and New Jersey for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” (if I saw one more house decorated with garland I would have screamed), I was able to concentrate on finishing Central Park South. Even though it is a smaller neighborhood it still takes time to walk these busy streets. There is a lot to see and do in Central Park South. Between admiring the hotels decorated for the holidays and attending a show at Carnegie Hall for Christmas (I love my research), it was a lot of walking around admiring buildings and street art as well as watching the tourists rush around the area. Central Park keeps everyone busy no matter what the temperature.
According to the history of the area, Central Park South has transformed itself over the last fifty years from a fashionable residential area to a commercial neighborhood and now back to fashionable residential area with some of those very same buildings that were turned to office space and now back to expensive condos.
My walk started on a rather cool afternoon in December. I miss those days in December in 2015 when El Nino was affected the weather and it was 60 degrees. It was a cool 40 degrees and rather cloudy. Still it was a brisk day for a walk.
I started to walk the interior streets from the borders from West 55th to West 58th Streets dodging office workers and tourists. The character of the streets changes from Eighth Avenue to Fifth Avenue. The more classic elegant stone townhouses still surround Fifth Avenue whereas by Eighth Avenue and Broadway, new office buildings dominate.
After a morning of working at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen (we had no extra bread in the Extra Bread station), I went to see the early silent horror film, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” at the Museum of Modern Art. It was an interesting film with a lot of twists and makes you aware of who is really crazy in this film. It is interesting to note how this film has held up in almost 90 years. After the movie, I walked out the back door to West 55th Street and started walking.
My start point was West 55th Street, walking under scaffolding all over the place and noticing reminders of the City when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. When I was kid the New York City Center was on the verge of being knocked down and it was a group of artists that saved the complex. The theater at 131 West 55th Street was built in 1923 designed by architect Harry P. Knowles from the firm of Clinton & Russell.
The New York City Center at 131 West 55th Street
The building was designed in the ‘Neo-Moorish style’ with interesting terra cotta tile work and murals. The building was originally called the “Mecca Temple” and was used by the Shriner’s for their meetings but its purpose changed after the Crash of 1929 and it became City property. Mayor La Guardia turned it into the performing arts center in 1943. Having faced two bouts with demolition in both the 40’s and 70’s, it has now been land-marked in 1984 and is home to Encores Off-Center (Wiki).
Across the street from the City Center, I came across Myzel’s Chocolates at 140 West 55th Street. Now, I have been walking around this area all my life and could not understand how I missed this wonderful little candy shop. It is such a tiny space but packed with lots of character and a lot of delicious candy.
Myzel’s Chocolates at 140 West 55th Street
The shop was opened in 1990 by Kamila Myzel and her mother, Alina and is known for their handmade chocolates and cookies plus an array of licorice, chocolates and decorative gift items. When she opened the shop in 1990, Ms. Myzel was noted in saying “I love any nuts, chocolate with nuts, almond bark and marzipan. My chocolate is good quality for ordinary people.” (NYT 2009).
Kamila Myzel minding the store at Myzel’s Chocolates
This love of her product shows not just in her merchandising (See review on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com) but in the customer service she gives. Even though I was only in to look I could see her eyeing me to see what I would buy while she chatted with a customer she knew. I loved the size of the store, which is tiny, in comparison with the ten people squeezed into the space jocking for her attention. I loved the festive atmosphere as the store was decorated for Christmas.
On a more recent trip to Myzel’s Chocolate, the store was decked out for Valentine’s Day and everything was splashed with the color red. It was quiet enough where I could finally sample the delightful treats that they sell. I tried one of her Chocolate Chip cookies that they are well know for ($11.95 a pound) and a chocolate covered Marshmallow ($9.95 a pound) and both were very good.
The chocolate chip cookie was loaded with butter and chocolate chunks and had a crisp body and a nice caramelized sweetness to it. The chocolate covered marshmallow was enrobed in a thick milk chocolate and had a rich sweetness in every bite. I think the marshmallow was freshly made as well.
As I continued down West 55th Street, I almost missed the historical Rockefeller Apartments at 24 West 55th Street that was hiding under that neighborhood scaffolding. The complex was built in 1936 by Rockefeller family architects Wallace Harrison and Andre Fouilhoux and was designed in the ‘International Style” and was noted for changing our perspective in light and air in building design (HMdg.org).
Rockefeller Apartments 24 West 55th Street
At the end of the block on the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 55th Street is the Peninsula Hotel. This elegant hotel was built in 1905 in the Neo-Classic style as the Gotham Hotel and was bought from bankruptcy in 1988 to the Peninsula Group as their New York property.
Christmas at The Peninsula Hotel at 700 Fifth Avenue
I was able to walk for a bit inside the hotel which was lavishly decorated for the Christmas holidays with all sorts of trees, lights and Santa’s. I could barely walk around with all the tourists taking pictures.
The entrance to the Peninsula Hotel at Christmas
The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Street is across the street from the Peninsula and was also decorated with lights and garland for the holidays. There was music playing inside as mass was going on at that time of the day. The Church had been built in 1875 by architects George B. Post and finished by Carl Pfeiffer. You really have to look up at the elegant details of this church that was designed in the Victorian Gothic design (Wiki).
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Avenue
On my way back down West 55th Street, I stopped for some lunch at the Star Stage Deli at 101 West 55th Street (see review on TripAdvisor). In all the times I had been in this neighborhood over the years, I had never noticed the restaurant before. It is a little hole in the wall that is a throwback to the restaurants that used to dot Manhattan all through the 70’s and 80’s until they were pushed out for the expensive ‘revolving door’ restaurants that keep opening and closing in the area.
Star Stage Deli at 101 West 55th Street
At first I was going to have a Cheeseburger platter but when I saw the guy behind the counter throw an already cooked burger on the grill I quickly changed my mind and had the Chicken Parmesan and Baked Ziti platter ($8.95) with a Coke because it looked much fresher. It was delicious and I highly recommend it. You got two big pieces of breaded chicken breast in a delicious tomato sauce with several nice sized scoops of baked ziti. The meal could have fed two people and was enough food to re-energize me. There are all sorts of specials that run under $10.00.
When walking back to Eighth Avenue, there is a series of hotels that you will pass all them decorated for the holidays. The Wellington Hotel at 871 Seventh Avenue was decked out for the holidays with lots of white lights and garlands all over the street level Park Cafe windows. This 27 story hotel was built in 1911 and designed by architect Robert T. Lyons. The entrances and facade of the building are done in polished granite and bronze.
The Hotel Wellington at 871 Seventh Avenue
On the corner of West 55th Street and Broadway is the Dream Hotel at 210 West 55th Street which was lavishly decorated in and out for Christmas. Garland, trees and lights are all over the exterior of the building making it very festive. The hotel is housed in a series of renovated buildings with the main one on the corner of Broadway which was built in 1895 in the Beaux-Arts style (Dream Hotels Bio).
The Dream Hotel at the corner of Broadway and West 55th Street
At the end of the block is the well known McGee’s Pub at 240 West 55th Street. McGee’s has been known to be the inspiration for MacLarsen’s Bar in the popular CBS sitcom “How I met your Mother”. The restaurant has been around for years and reflects the changes in time by the whole neighborhood begin knocked down around it. It almost reminds me of PJ Clarks on the Westside of Manhattan with a modern skyscraper surrounding it.
McGee’s Pub at 240 West 55th Street
As I turned onto West 56th Street, I came across another iconic restaurant that I have eaten at many times, Patsy’s at 236 West 56th Street (see reviews on TripAdvisor). I love the food here. The pastas are all freshly made and their Fried Mozzarella is so well prepared and their Mariana sauce is so flavorful. The service is excellent and I always enjoy eating there.
Patsy’s was founded in 1944 by Pasquale “Patsy” Scognamillo and has been in its current location since 1954 serving locals, celebrities and tourists alike. There has only been three chefs at Patsy’s, Patsy himself, his son, Joe and Joe’s son Sal (Patsy’s history).
Patsy’s Restaurant at 236 West 56th Street
The last time I had dinner there before the theater the food was amazing (see my review on TripAdvisor). I had the Mozzarella in Carrozza ($24.00) for two which I finished on my own. It is basically a breaded mozzarella sandwich with their fresh Mariana sauce which were pan-fried perfectly and melted in the middle.
The Mozzarella in Carrozza at Patsy’s is excellent
For the entree I had the Lobster with Linguine Oreganata, which I had seen prepared on the Travel Network and feeling generous to myself at the holidays, I treated myself. It was excellent. Perfectly cooked pasta with almost a half of sweet lobster topped on the dish.
The best part of the evening was that I got to meet Sal, the chef on the way out and I told him about my meal and how I ordered it because of the Travel Network show. Then I added how much I loved the meal. He was so nice and gave me a jar of his Mariana sauce and told me to enjoy it at home. I thought he was a great guy and good businessman.
Chef Sal Scognamillo of Patsy’s Restaurant
On the back part of the City Center is The Writers Room plaque dedicated the writers of Sid Caesar’s “The Show of Shows”. Some of the most famous writers and comedians had worked on this show and went on to their own famous careers.
This plaque is located on the back of The City Center on the West 56th side of the building
In the corridor of The Malborough Building at 40 West 57th Street which runs to West 56th Street is an exhibition of artist Tom Otteness’s work. Don’t miss this open air art exhibition on the artist’s work.
The Marlborough Building open air exhibition of Tom Otteness works
The artist studied at the Arts League of New York and is well known for his work on public art. He art has graced many parts of New York City including an exhibition of “Tom Otteness on Broadway” which ran from Columbus Circle to 168th Street. Don’t miss this interesting open air exhibition that stretches from West 56th to West 57th Streets.
On the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 55th West and 56th Streets at 881 Seventh Avenue is Carnegie Hall which is all decked out for the holidays. This palace of entertainment was designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by industrialist Andrew Carnegie. It is one of the biggest buildings in New York built entirely of masonry without a steel frame Wiki).
Carnegie Hall at 881 Seventh Avenue at Christmas is beautiful
At the last minute I got the last ticket to “New York Pops with Frank and Ella” on Friday December 20th and off I went to enjoy the concert. It was a really cool night that evening and it was nice to see so many people dressed for the occasion. I even saw a few mink coats out.
I really enjoyed the concert and talk about putting you in the Christmas spirit. I had not been Carnegie Hall since the concert last year. The stage was so tastefully decorated and the New York Pops entertained us first. We started with a round of traditional Christmas songs before the show started and ‘Deck the Halls’ was one of the songs on the schedule.
The New York Pops performing “Deck the Halls”
The concert “A Frank and Ella Christmas” starred Tony DeSare and Capathia Jenkins sang the songs of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Essential Voices USA provided the background singing and backup and they were excellent.
Tony DeSare singing “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas”
What I love about this concert is one of the events at the holidays I look forward to as it always puts me in the holiday mood. Carnegie Hall is always sold out for both nights of the concerts as I think everyone else feels the way I do.
Last year, the only seat left was on the aisle and Santa himself was standing next me when he entered the concert hall to start the sing a long. For a split second, I really believed. That’s how much this concert puts you in to the proper holiday spirit. What I loved the most about the concert was the sing a long at the end of the concert and I mean everyone sings! It is really something. That’s the wonderful memory I have when I walk past Carnegie Hall.
As I headed back to Eighth Avenue, I passed one of the best McDonald’s (see my reviews on TripAdvisor) in the City at 946 Eighth Avenue on the corner Eighth Avenue and West 55th Street. I have eaten at this McDonald’s so many times in the series of walks for this project that I can’t even count them on my finger. The food here is really good and the service is very quick. When there is no alternative before the movies or theater, this is the go to place for a McDouble or Premium Chicken sandwich.
Sitting at the head of the neighborhood is the Hearst Publishing Building at 300 West 57th Street between West 56th and 57th Streets. This impressive building was built in two stages. The first part of the building was built in 1928 by architect Joseph Urban as the headquarters of Hearst Publications for William Randolph Hearst. The rest of the building was not completed due to the Great Depression (Wiki).
The original part of the building by architect Joseph Urban
The newer part of the building was completed eighty years later and was finished in 2006. This 46 story tower was designed by architect Norman Foster and is designed in triangle grid called a “diagrid” and won many awards as one of New York’s first ‘green buildings’ (Wiki). Look up at this unusual design and the contrasts of the two parts of the building.
The Hearst Tower designed by architect Norman Foster
I rounded West 57th Street and walked past many familiar buildings from crossing the neighborhood but there are many well known restaurants and stores on this block. There is a lot of excitement with the new Nordstrom department store that opened on the corner of Broadway and West 57th Street at 225 West 57th Street.
The store is one of the largest and single project investments in Nordstrom history. There is seven levels of merchandise, six restaurants and an extensive list of services for the customers. The store forms the base of one of the largest residential buildings in the Western Hemisphere and is the combination of old and new. It is the first department store to open in New York City since the 1920’s. With a facade of large windows and lots of natural light you can see the happenings in the store from street level (Nordstrom Press Release).
During the three times I walk through the store is was indeed busy with lots of hipster employees walking around but most were on their cellphones and the customers seemed to be looking around. The restaurants were mostly full the nights I was there but the one thing I did not see was shopping bags leaving the store. I did not see one Nordstrom bag on the streets in the neighborhood. It is going to be interesting to see how the store does during its first Christmas especially with the Lord & Taylor flagship closing on Fifth Avenue and West 38th Street and Barney’s on Madison Avenue.
The new Nordstrom at 225 West 57th Street
Further down the street I passed the Osborne Apartments at 205 West 57th Street. These iconic condos were built between 1883-1885 by architect James Edward Ware in a rusticated brownstone outside to the building and an ‘American Renaissance’ in the detailed foyer and public rooms (Wiki). The building is truly one of kind and its apartment structure a time of ‘Gilded Age’.
The Osborne Apartments at 205 West 57th Street
The elaborate lobby is something to see. It has stuccoed and mosaic tiled floors with use of Italian marble. The walls are covered in glazed terra-cotta panels and the ceilings are covered in different colored hues (Wiki).
The details of the Osborne Apartment’s lobby
Near the Osborne Apartments at 200 West 57th Street at the corner of Seventh Avenue is the Rodin Studio Apartments. This beautifully detailed building was built in 1917 by architect Cass Gilbert, who had designed the Woolworth Building downtown. The building was designed as studios for artists and combination studio/living spaces thus the name Rodin after the artist Auguste Rodin. The building had been the brainchild of a groups of established artists (Daytonian Manhattan).
The Rodin Studios building at 200 West 57th Street
The building, like the Woolworth Building, is designed in ‘white terra-cotta Gothic Revival’ with lots of windows to let in the natural light. You will have to look up from the other side of the street to see the interesting details of the building. The exterior of the building just went through a full renovation.
Another well-known iconic restaurant is located in the neighborhood that has always catered to the theater and business crowd alike, the Russian Tea Room at 150 West 57th Street right next to Carnegie Hall. I have been in this restaurant many times over the years and the renovations twenty years ago made it a little ‘glitzy and over the top’ in design.
The entrance to the Russian Tea Room at 150 West 57th Street
The restaurant had opened in 1927 by a group of Russian Ballet expatriates as a gathering place and it then got the reputation as a place for the entertainment industry to gather for lunch and dinner. The restaurant had a series of owners but when Warner LeRoy bought the restaurant in 1996 and when he closed it he took a very nice elegant restaurant and turned it into another “Tavern on the Green” with garish decor.
The food and atmosphere was never the same both to many New Yorkers, who left it for the tourists and in many meals I have had there in recent history, the last one being in April of 2011 for my father’s birthday/Christmas present one month before he got sick. That evening has special meaning to me now.
In the years that I ate at the restaurant during the holidays in the early 90’s, my brother and I would see celebrities all the time in the other booths. Our last meal there before it closed for renovations in 1996, we sat next to Sylvia Miles, who recently passed away in the summer of 2019. But that night she held court in the restaurant and our attention especially to my brother who kept nudging me that she was there. This was when dining there was a special event and the food was really good. Today you get a ‘watered down’ version of Russian cooking. (I would not recommend it in this blog.)
Many movies were shot there but this scene from Tootsie in 1982 captured the mood of the restaurant in the 1980’s.
One of the funniest scenes of a movie shot in the Russian Tea Room from the movie “Tootsie” in 1982
There was more interesting apartment buildings to see in the neighborhood another located at 130 West 57th Street. This elegant building was built between 1907-08 by architects Pollard & Steinam in the ‘Art Deco style”. This building was also created as artists studios/residences when this was a creative residential district.
130 West 57th Street
At the end of the block, I revisited Bergdorf Goodman at 754 Fifth Avenue that runs from West 57th to 58th Streets opposite of the Plaza Hotel. This palace of luxury was founded in 1899 by Herman Bergdorf and later owned by Edward Goodman. The store when you look at it was designed as a series of buildings that could have been broken into shops had the business not done well. During the Depression, the store thrived and Edward Goodman bought up the remaining parts of the building to reconfigure the store into its present form (Wiki).
The Palace of Luxury Bergdorf Goodman at 754 Fifth Avenue is fun to visit
It is a fun way to spend the afternoon taking the escalator to the various floors and look at how the clothes are displayed and examine the beautiful jewelry and handbags. It also had one of the nicest perfume departments in the county with items found no where else in the United States. Having worked there in 2004, I found it a unique experience to my retailing career and I still enjoy talking to James, the doorman who works there.
The new Jewelry Salon at Bergdorf-Goodman
Right down the road from Bergdorf-Goodman at 35 West 57th Street is the loneliest looking stone mansion that new houses a deli. This magnificent mansion is the Schieffelin-Bowne Mansion that was built in 1891 by Margaret Vanderbilt Shepard for her daughter, Maria Louise Vanderbilt Shepard for her marriage to William Jay Schieffelin, a member of a drug manufacturing family and the grandson of John Jay, the first Chief Justice. The house was a few steps from the large mansion of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, which was one the location of Bergdorf-Goodman (Daytonian 2012).
The Vanderbilt Mansion at 35 West 57th Street sits lonely now
The house was sold to millionaire Samuel Bowne in 1898 when the Schieffelin’s moved to East 66th Street. Mr. Bowne suffered a stoke around 1909 and died a year later. His widow sold the house and moved to Florida and died in 1930. Since 1930, the mansion has been used for commercial purposes and sits next to a construction site as a sad reminder of how fashionable the neighborhood was once (Daytonian 2012). It could used a good cleaning.
At 57 West 57 Street on the corner of West 57th and Seventh Avenue is a beautiful Art Deco office/apartment building that was built in 1928. The building has interesting details from the gilded facial imagines on the cornices to the marble front and lobby inside. Really look at the artwork carved into the outside of the building. Der Scott, the architect of Trump Tower renovated the building in 1988 and added many of the details to the building.
57 West 57th Street is a gilded Art Deco Building
Another beautiful building at 123 West 57th Street #3 is the Calvary Baptist Church which stands guard amongst its more modern neighbors. This interesting church is an example of a ‘skyrise church’ as it is a sixteen story building. It was built in 1929 by architects Jardine, Hall & Murdock and the building was dedicated in 1931 (Wiki). Take a look up at the stone carvings and intricate design of the stone work.
Calvary Baptist Church at 123 West 57th Street
I started my third afternoon in the neighborhood back at the Turnstyle Underground Market at 1000S 8th Avenue which is in the subway station under the Time Warner Building. This surprising little food court has some innovative and very reasonable restaurants. Last time I ate here was at Daa! Dumplings, the Russian dumpling restaurant and this time I ate at Champion Pizza at the end of the court after eyeing a Mac & Cheese Pizza in the display window.
Champion Pizza in the Turnstyle Underground Food Court
After deciding on that and a Coke (see Review on TripAdvisor), I sat down at one of the busy tables with high school students and tourist staring into their phones. The pizza was delicious and tasted like Kraft Mac & Cheese topped with mozzarella on the top. After my lunch, I was ready for a long walk.
I rounded the corner and entered the more commercial West 58th Street in the early afternoon. This is an interesting block as you head past Seventh Avenue the street is lined with the back of the New York Athletic Club, the Park Lane Hotel and the Plaza Hotel.
One of the more interesting buildings is the Central Park Mews at 117 West 58th Street. This interesting brick apartment building was built in 1900 and show a lot of character with its marble and brick facade. Look at the stone details around the building and interesting windows towards the top.
Central Park Mews at 117 West 58th Street really stands out
At the end of West 58th Street towards Bergdorf-Goodman is the now closed Paris Theater at 4 West 58th Street, which was once a major art movie theater and noted for its edgy releases. Now Netflix has reopened it for their releases to the public before they start screening films on TV. The 71 year old theater is seeing new life and a lot of new patrons (NYTimes 2019). The theater is the last single screen theater in New York City.
The Paris Theater at 4 West 58th Street is now leased by Netflix
Just outside theater and in front of 9 West 58th Street, the Solow Building, is an unusual and very strange statue standing guard on the street. This is “Moonbird” by artist Joan Miro. This strange fourteen foot abstract sculpture had replaced an Alexander Calder sculpture that had been once stood here.
‘Moonbird’ by Joan Miro from 1966 in front of the Solow Building
The sculpture was created in smaller forms in 1966 and was noted as having a cosmic connection to nature. The sculpture was derived from a connection the artist had in the world of birds and the terrestrial and celestial worlds (Artworld 1988).
Joan Miro was a Spanish born painter, sculptor and ceramicist whose art gravitated towards Surrealism, whose goal it is to liberate thought, language and human experience from the boundaries of rationalism (Artworld). The artist had studied at the Cerle Artistic de Sant Lluc and held is first solo show in 1918 (Wiki).
When crossing the street into the Plaza Hotel and know the hotel of its heyday, it is a much smaller and more compact hotel. When enter from the back of the Plaza Hotel you will come across The Shops at the Plaza Hotel and the Plaza Hotel Food Hall inside the basement area of the hotel at Central Park South and Fifth Avenue.
There is a selection of expensive stores and small restaurants inside the Food Hall. You can choose from bakery items, Chinese, Italian and sandwiches. The Shops has an exclusive Plaza boutique and an Eloise shop that even has a tea room for children’s tea parties. There is a nice selection places to visit if money is not the object.
The Shops at the Plaza Hotel and the Plaza Hotel Food Hall are interesting to visit
When exiting the back of the Plaza Hotel, you will see the service areas and backs of some of the most famous hotels facing Central Park. As you head back down West 58th Street, there are two side by side buildings you might miss under all the scaffolding all over the block.
Tucked behind scaffolding is 213 West 58th Street, now the Unity Center of New York but when it was built was the stables/garage of Helen Gould Miller. The structure was built in 1910 by architects York & Sawyer in the ‘French Renaissance style’ for the daughter of financier Jay Gould. This was the home of her carriages and then cars with apartments for the coachman and then chauffeur. Even in the shadows of all the construction you can see the detailed stone work and carved details of the building.
213 West 58th Street, The Helen Gould Miller Stables
Next door at 215 West 58th Street is Engine 23, “The Lion’s Den” a FDNY Firehouse that was established on October 6th, 1865 as one of the oldest companies in New York City and two months after the department became paid. The original company had been established in 1810 as Equitable Company 36 then as Harry Howard Volunteer Company named after the Department Chief Engineer.
Engine 23 at 215 West 58th Street “The Lion’s Den”
The building was designed by architect Alexander H. Stevens between 1905-06 in the ‘Beaux Arts style’ (New York YIMPY).
Engine 23, “The Lion’s Den”
I ended the walk at the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle on the very edge of the neighborhood. This unique museum I have written about many times in my VisitingaMuseum.com site. The museum was opened in 1956 to celebrate American craftsmanship and in it’s current incarnation established at its present site in 2008, the museum studies the art and design process dealing with many art forms including movies, music, painting, jewelry and clothing & textiles (See my review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com)
The Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle on the very edge of Central Park South
I went to a walking tour of the museum highlights and then visited the Anna Sui exhibition of her clothing, accessories and cosmetics. Her clothing is an interesting art form itself with each season it gets more interesting.
Designer Anna Sui
The collections of Anna Sui at the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle
The walk of the neighborhood ended with dinner at China Gourmet, a tiny hole in the wall restaurant at 877 8th Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor) that I had passed walking up to the neighborhood. This is a big restaurant with the office workers in the area and had been packed for lunch. I had a Sweet & Sour Pork combination platter with an egg roll and Coke ($10.95).
China Gourmet at 877 8th Avenue is in Hell’s Kitchen
Even though the portion size was large and the food fresh it tasted like the wok had not been cleaned or the oil was old. The meal was okay but still the place bustled and the most interesting characters walked in and out of the restaurant. There was no lack of entertainment in the customers here at 9:00pm at night.
To end the evening, I went to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree which was surprisingly still up on January 8th. Much less crowded than the week before, I was able to walk around the rink and watch the skaters and admire the tree from afar with the gaping tourists taking ‘selfies’ all over the place. I will tell you that tourists spend more time in Manhattan taking pictures than actually admiring what is around them. That is such a pity as I think you miss more if you don’t actually look at what is surrounding you as you walk around.
All the interesting buildings in the neighborhood I have mentioned by address and you should take the time to really look up at these beautiful structures. There are coming down too fast to make way for new things.
In the late 1700’s, well-to-do dwellers moved to Harlem Heights in the summer, seeking its cool breezes. They also wanted to avoid yellow fever, a summer threat in lower Manhattan, Hamilton and his wife, Elizabeth (of the influential Schuyler family) often visited friends here and decided to build their own retreat.
In 1802, they moved in and Hamilton began commuting to his downtown law office, a 90 minute carriage trip. He and Elizabeth also began to entertain friends, colleagues and leader in their elegant home and gardens. Little did Hamilton know that his time at The Grange would be brief.
Witness to Slavery:
Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) grew up on Nevis and St. Croix, islands in the Caribbean, where thousands of enslaved Africans labored in…
In honor of Small Business Saturday, I am featuring all the small individually owned restaurants on my blog, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com. These reasonable places won’t ‘break the bank’ when visiting New York City.
My name is Justin Watrel and I created ‘Dining on a Shoe String in New York City’ (DiningonShoeStringinNYC.wordpress.com) as an extension to the blogs: ‘MywalkinManhattan’ (MywalkinManhattan.com) along with ‘VisitingaMuseum’ (VisitingaMuseum.com) and “LittleShoponMainStreet” (“LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com), in search of a delicious meal for $10.00 and under. It is difficult in an area as expensive as Metropolitan New York but many restaurant owners are paving the way with small, innovative menus at a fair price.
Lung Moon Bakery in Chinatown, NY
I created this blog when I discovered all these wonderful small restaurants, bodegas and bakeries that were fantastic both in that the quality of their food and the prices that they cost. I also looked at atmosphere and cleanliness of the establishment. Most cost under $10.00 (USA) for their main food items and provide small places to sit down and eat.
With everyone on a budget, I thought this would cater nicely to…
I have been running in and out of the City since I started teaching classes again at the college and had a ‘bucket list’ of small museums that I wanted to visit for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” and restaurants I wanted to try before the Summer was over. So there was a lot of running around the last several weeks. That’s why the blogs come out a little later than usual.
I got back to finishing my walk around ‘Midtown East’ by walking the only two Avenues inside the neighborhoods borders, Madison and Park Avenues from East 43rd Street (which hugs the Turtle Bay neighborhood) and East 59th Street (which hugs the Upper East Side & Sutton Place). On the Avenues in this part of the neighborhood is mostly residential and commercial spaces with rows glass boxes on some streets and limestone and marble residential buildings one the others. There is a lot of sameness in the architecture here but don’t let that fool you. There are a lot of interesting things to see and places to visit in this very much working modern neighborhood.
My walk started on Madison Avenue’s commercial district at the start of East 43rd Street where a giant new glass box is being created right next to Grand Central Station. Probably not Mr. Vanderbilt’s vision for the area but I think he would have been impressed by the progress the area has experienced in the last 100 years.
My first stop is admiring and walking into the headquarters of Brooks Brothers Clothing store at 346 Madison Avenue, one of the most American and famous clothing stores in the United States. Stepping into Brooks Brothers is like a step back into time when shopping was still experience and customer service actually meant something. Their displays are elegant without being stuffy.
The elegant displays at Brooks Brothers main floor
The store was designed by architects La Farge & Morris in 1915 the Italian Renaissance design with prominent arched entrances, wrought iron arches and carved limestone details around the building. You can see the detail work in the cornices that line the top of the building.
The Brooks Brothers headquarters at 346 Madison Avenue
Another great clothing store is Paul Stuart at Madison Avenue and East 45th Street. The store has been in business since 1938 and carries some of the most impressive clothing and accessories for Men and Women.
Paul Stuart Specialty Store at Madison & East 45th Street
The store was a privately held family business until December of 2012 and then it was sold it’s long time partner, Mitsui. The store has changed a lot since the sale. It once had some of the best customer service in all the specialty stores in Manhattan but when I went to visit on this trip in my shorts and polo, the three sales people on the floor at the time ignored me. It’s not the same store with the orange carpet and older, more mature salespeople.
The Men’s Department after the renovation
When you get to Madison and 55th Street, watch for the security as this is the back section of Trump Tower and East 55th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues is blocked off by barriers and armed NYPD detectives and police. Only one side of the street is open here so it is best to keep walking.
Another impressive building on Madison Avenue is at 550 Madison Avenue, the old AT&T Building with its signature ‘Chippendale’ roof. This building was considered radical and innovative at the same time when AT&T built it to house their world headquarters. The 37 story building was designed by famed architect Philip Johnson in 1984 in the postmodern design. Critics called it ‘Chippendale’ after the famed furniture due to the ‘open pediment’ look of the top of the building based on English furniture design (Wiki). The building is currently have some lobby renovations that I passed.
550 Madison Avenue
Next to the AT&T Building is the IBM Building at 590 Madison Avenue. This 41 story building was built in 1983 by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes & Associates and developed by IBM and designed in the post-modern design (Wiki).
The IBM Building at 590 Madison Avenue & East 57th Street
Because of the zoning laws established in 1916, there is a beautiful and relaxing open atrium filled with food kiosis and art work for the public to enjoy on the ground level. It is a nice place to relax after a long walk. Take time to admire the art works that line the atrium.
The Atrium at the IBM Building
One piece of art that stands out is the red geometric sculpture on the corner of Madison and East 57th Street is the great artist Alexander Calder “Saurien” (which is a large reptile), that was created by the artist in his studio in 1975. This is an example of Calder’s “Stoic” work and were called ‘stabiles’ because these abstract works, unlike his floating works of art, stand strongly and firmly into the ground (Art Nerd 2018).
The Alexander Calder sculpture, “Saurien”
Walk around this wonderful work by Calder and try to take a breath and understand what the artist was trying to say. It is almost like all the ‘legs’ on the sculpture are trying to show stability and contrast.
Inside the atrium, there are two interesting pieces of artwork that standout. There are two colorful acrylic apples that are done in colorful motifs that you should not miss. The sculptures were created in 2004 for the “Big Apple Fest” to promote the City’s tourism. Companies paid $8,500.00 to sponsor and $12,500 to keep the apples in which artists were allowed to decorate inside or outside.
One of them is entitled “A Day in the Big Apple” by an artist named Billy.
‘A Day in the Big Apple’ by artist Billy
The other is of a colorful face by artist Romero Britto entitled “New York Future”.
“New York Future” by artist Romero Britto
Romero Britto is a Brazilian born American artist whose colorful works elude the optimism the artist has on his view of the world. He uses bold and colorful patterns to enhance his works (Artist Bio).
When you reach the edge of the neighborhood at East 59th Street, you are greeted by the former GM Building that stretches from Fifth to Madison Avenues. This elegant 50 story building once represented the presence of GM in New York City. It was designed by the architectural firms of Edward Durell Stone & Associates and Emery Roth & Sons in 1968. It was designed in the “International Style” and stands guard at the end of the commercial district of Midtown East and the Upper East Side.
The GM Building stands guard at 767 Fifth Avenue
As you cross back down Madison Avenue on East 59th Street, you will notice the ever changing retail landscape and all the empty storefronts on this part of Madison Avenue. Twenty years ago this would not have existed but it is a sign of the times.
The details of the Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street
Another interesting building to admire is the Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street on the corner of Madison Avenue. The building was created for the Fuller Construction Company in 1929 by architects Walker & Gillette in the ‘Art Deco Style’. The buildings exterior sculptures were designed by architect Elie Nadelman. Look at the interesting details not just on the outside of the building but walk into the lobby to take a look around (Wiki).
The Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street
One of the great hotels in New York City stands guard at 455 Madison Avenue and 50th Street, the New York Palace Hotel (formerly the Helmsley Palace Hotel) which is a combination of an old mansion and the modern building behind it. The front of the building facing Madison Avenue is the former Villard Mansion.
New York Palace Hotel at 455 Madison Avenue
The front of the hotel is the “Villard Houses” created in 1882 for Henry Villard, a railroad financier, who worked with the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White to create a series of six brownstone townhouses facing a courtyard in the ‘Italian Neo-Renaissance style’. Developer Harry Hemsley leased the houses and hired Emery Roth & Sons to create the 55 story modern hotel in the back of the houses.
The Villard Houses part of the New York Palace Hotel
The hotel opened in 1981 as the notorious ‘Helmsley Palace Hotel’ with hotelier Leona Helmsley in charge. Considered one of the best hotels at the time, it was a five star/five diamond hotel (with one of the most nervous staffs in New York City). The hotel has been owned by Lotte Hotels & Resorts since 2015.
The inside of the New York Palace Hotel, the Villard Houses
Take time to walk through the hotel from the East 50th Street entrance to the East 49th Street exit and walk around the public rooms and admire the architectural details from the Gilded Age. There are elegant features from staircases to marble fireplaces and the most beautiful views on Madison Avenue.
I found this pardony of the Helmsley Hotel on YouTube. It is very clever.
Another older hotel that stands out is the Roosevelt Hotel at 45 East 45th Street at the corner of Madison Avenue and East 45th Street. It stands guard next to Grand Central Station. The hotel opened in 1924 and was designed by the architectural firm of George P. Post & Son for businessman, Frank A. Dudley and it was ran by United Hotels Company from a leased agreement with the New York Central Railroad. Like the other hotels that line Lexington Avenue, there used to be a separate passageway from the railroad to the hotel (Wiki).
The Roosevelt Hotel at 45 East 45th Street
This is similar hotel to take the time to walk through the lobby and look at the vaulted ceilings and the Gilded Age details of the hotels with its thick carpets and elegant staircases. The hotel has a somewhat dark, more European feel to it. There is a lobby restaurant when open that looks pretty interesting.
The entrance to the lobby at the Roosevelt Hotel
As you walk around Grand Central Terminal and through the archway pedestrian tunnels that lead to Park Avenue from East 45th to East 46th Streets, you will be traveling under the Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue that stands guard at the beginning to the business and residential neighborhood of Park Avenue.
The Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue
The Helmsley Building was built in 1929 as the New York Central Building for the rail company and was designed by architects Warren & Wetmore, who also designed Grand Central Terminal, in the ‘Beaux-Arts style’. Take time to admire the statuary around the clock that dominates its front and the beautiful stone detail work of the exterior of the building.
The beautiful details of the Helmsley Building on Park Avenue
The New York Central used the building as its starting point of “Terminal City”, a series of buildings and hotels that the railroad developed on the top of the rail line (Wiki). The true beauty of The Helmsley Building is at night when the owners put on a light show illuminating the building with colorful spotlights.
The Helmsley Building light show after dark
All along Park Avenue is a series of ‘glass boxes’ for office buildings and residential towers that line the Avenue all the way up to East 96th Street at the exit of the rail line. Along the way, there are some interesting examples of architecture that line Park Avenue.
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 301 Park Avenue is currently closed and under scaffolding awaiting its new life as a small hotel and condo complex. The hotel, as mentioned in previous blogs in ‘MywalkinManhattan’, was built and opened in 1931. It was designed by the architectural firm of Schultz & Weaver in the ‘Art Deco style’ and is probably one of the most famous and talked about hotels in New York City outside the Plaza Hotel (Wiki). There have been so many movies and TV shows filmed and written about the hotel to count and the restaurants inside the hotel were some of the better ones in New York City. The building will open sometime in the future.
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 301 Park Avenue
St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church at 325 Park Avenue is one of the older buildings on Park Avenue and stands alone amongst the bigger buildings on this part of Avenue. Though the congregation was started in 1835, this structure was built between 1916-17 and designed by Bertram Goodhue, who had designed the St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue (See Walking the Border of Midtown East-MywalkinManhattan). The church was designed in the ‘Byzantine Revival Design’ and he was required by the congregation to retain the old church portal from the former church on Madison Avenue and East 44th Street in the new church design (Wiki).
‘St. Bart’s’ Church at 325 Park Avenue
Look at the details of the old church and the stained glass windows. In the Summer months, there is a wonderful (yet somewhat over-priced) restaurant in the courtyard of the church and there are art markets during the Summer and Christmas holiday season that you should visit. There is also afternoon music at certain times of the year.
St. Bart’s restaurant and terrace during the summer
One standout, innovative building on Park Avenue sits between East 52nd and 53rd Streets is the Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue. The building and its exterior designs was created by German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe with the interior Four Seasons Restaurant designed by American architect Philip Johnson.
The Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue
This 38 story building of wonder was innovative in its time. Finished in 1958 as the corporate headquarters of Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, the building was noted for its ‘functional aesthetics’ and a prominent example of ‘corporate modern architecture’. Keeping up with modern building codes, the architect used ‘non-structural bronze I-beams and large glass windows’ to create the cool and well toned exterior structure of the building (Wiki).
Also utilizing the 1916 building code and the new use of open public spaces, the building was one of the first in New York City to embrace the open air plaza that was prevalent in the 1980’s and early 90’s design. It was an extremely innovative design at the time and still sets the standard for the modern ‘glass box’.
Seagram Building plaza, innovative to its time
One of the last stand out buildings that I saw on Park Avenue before my walk back down the Avenue was at 465 Park Avenue, The Ritz Tower, an apartment hotel. This elegant residential building stands out because of its details on the exterior of the building and I later learned it was once home to the famous French restaurant, La Pavilion.
The Ritz Plaza at 465 Park Avenue
This elegant building was designed by architects Emory Roth and Thomas Hastings for journalist Arthur Brisbane, who was the developer. The apartment hotel was managed by the Ritz-Carlton Company. The exterior of the building has many carved stone features so look closely from the other side of Park Avenue to admire the detail work. Don’t stare too long because the doorman gets a suspicious look if you look too long. He kept looking me over as I admired the building and the read the plaques.
Look at the elegant details of the Ritz Tower
Up and down the Park Avenue Mall is the work of artist Alex Katz “Park Avenue Departure”, of which it looks like the back of a woman who is walking away from some place. The work is a depiction of the artist’s wife, Ada. Each of the works along the mall is changed slightly to show the sculpture in motion as if it is walking down the mall. This street art exhibition will run through November 2019 (The Fund for Park Avenue).
Alex Katz’s Park Avenue Mall exhibit “Park Avenue Departure”
American artist Alex Katz who was born in Brooklyn, NY and is a graduate of Cooper Union Art College. His long career has seen many changes in art form and today some of his concentrations are in landscape and portraiture. His work can be seen in museums all over the world.
For lunch and dinner that afternoon, I ate at Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop at 139 East 45th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). After a long day of walking, I treated myself to a plate of mixed roasted meats, duck and pork, with a side of rice ($9.00) and an egg roll ($1.38). Their roasted meats are a laquered delight with the rich, crackling skin of the duck worth every bite. The food here is delicious and so reasonable for Midtown East.
Don’t miss Hop Won at 139 East 45th Street
By the end of the evening, I got a chance to double back around the Helmsley Building and look at the detail work of that structure as well and then walked up and down the tiny Vanderbilt Avenue between East 45th and 47th Streets that line next to Grand Central Terminal. The most notable building on this block is the Yale Club at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue. The famous clubhouse was designed by Yale Alumnus and architect James Gramble Rodgers and it opened in 1915.
The Yale Club at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue; notice the plaque to Nathan Hale on the bottom left
The most notable item outside the club is the historical mark where supposedly Patriot Nathan Hale was hung. There is a conflict to where it actually took place and there is another site on the Upper East Side (See Walking the Upper East Side Streets in MywalkinManhattan), where that plaque is outside the local Pier One. I personally like that theory better. Where else in American could a Patriot of the Revolutionary War be hung in that two hundred years later would house a retailer that sells Christmas chukkas made in China?
That’s what I love about Manhattan!
I have enclosed all the addresses to the interesting buildings you should visit above to make it easier then doing them one by one.
I needed a break from walking around New York City and my jobs. The late night edits on my book “Love Triangles”, walking around Midtown East for the next entry on my blog and my three jobs I needed a change of scenery. My recent trip to Washington DC for my interview for Graduate School at Georgetown was hardly a leisure trip with running back and forth from New York City, so on a whim I made two escapes from my home life, one to Cape May, New Jersey on Tuesday night and one to Narrowsburg, NY on Thursday night. There were two restaurants on my bucket list that I wanted to try before the summer was over, The Magnolia Room at The Chalfonte Hotel (which closes for the season September 6th) and The Heron Restaurant, which is run by a follow Alumni from the CIA and I has just passed by in 2016 on my way to a Alumni weekend at Cornell (See ‘Day Seventy-Seven’ on “MywalkinManhattan.com” site). I had planned these revisits but did not realise that it would take three years to do. Funny how time slips by.
I left after work on Tuesday on a whim to Cape May. I knew I would be back in two weeks for the NJ Firemen’s Convention but The Magnolia Room would be closed for the season and I wanted to try it one more time for dinner. Also, there was a list of museums that I wanted to add to my blog, VisitingaMuseum.com, before I started teaching for the school year at the college. I did not know how much time I would have once classes started.
So on a rather gloomy Tuesday morning, I called the Chalfonte Hotel to make a reservation for the night and off I drove down the Garden State Parkway to Cape May. From Bergen County it is a straight run from the top of the State to the bottom with a few rest stops along the way. My first stop was Beach Haven, NJ on Long Beach Island, a giant sandbar of an island that protects the coast line. I had not been to Beach Haven since 1975 when we were visiting friends at their beach house (which I am sure does not exist anymore). My destination was the Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum at 129 Engleside Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ (See reviews on TripAdvisor.com and VisitingaMuseum.com).
Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum at 129 Engleside Avenue: Destination One
I wanted to make these two trips a working vacation for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” and there was a list of museums that I wanted to visit over the period of four days. I wanted to visit the historical societies of Long Beach Island and Cape May as well as return to some of the sites around Cape May.
I got into Beach Haven in the later afternoon. Things have really changed over the last forty years. When you come off the causeway, you enter the town of Ships Bottom, which I barely remember. Here and there were still some of the old businesses that had been around since the late 60’s and early 70’s, whose popularity does not wane year after year. Hidden in those pockets is what is left of the old beach cottages that once lined all the streets of the town. I remember all these little shore houses that looked like dollhouses even then. They all looked the same with their one story construction, small yards and never ending towels drying on the outside.
What has replaced them over the years due to a bustling economy, changing times at shore towns and finally storms like Hurricane Sandy, which really wiped out a lot of homeowners, the make up of these towns has changed from more working to middle class families to these upscale homes on stilts that dominate those tiny pieces of land. I could not believe they let these people build on top of one another.
My first destination was the Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum which is located in the historical section of homes in Beach Haven. This unique museum gives a through history of Long Beach Island from the time of the Lenape Indians summering here in the hotter weather to the development of area as a resort for working and upper middle class families from Philadelphia to the current development of a year round community.
The inside of the museum
After my visit to the museum, I walked around the downtown area which still had a lot of life left into it so close to Labor Day Weekend. The small amusement park was still open but very quiet on this Tuesday afternoon with bored teenagers texting and talking waiting for the next customer. It looked like most of the restaurants and shops were gearing down for the end of the season with sales on merchandise in the stores and limited hours on the restaurants.
After walking in and out of beach shops and gift stores, I took a recommendation from the people that ran the museum and went to The Woo Hoo for lunch. What a wonderful experience! The food and the service were excellent. Located around the corner from the museum at 211 South Bay Avenue, The Woo Hoo is an engaging little drive in concept restaurant with a walk up counter and outside picnic tables (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
The Woo Hoo at 211 South Bay Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ
For lunch I had a traditional burger ($7.95), which was two high quality freshly ground hamburger patties with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and slathered with mayo. You could really taste the meat which was rich and juicy with the right amount of caramelization. Their French Fries ($4.45) are freshly cut everyday and you can taste it when biting into these fries that are cooked per order. Washed down with a Coke ($2.95), there is nothing like it. The sun peaked out when eating so being outside on the picnic bench was not so bad after all.
I was so impressed by the food that I stopped by before I left Beach Haven to have some of their homemade ice cream. It was heaven. I had a scoop of Strawberry Cheesecake and a scoop of Cinnamon Toast Crunch ($4.95). Each was amazingly creamy and the flavor of the cheesecake mixture really stood out. Not too many restaurants make my DiningaonShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com site outside the City on the first shot but this restaurant is superb.
After lunch I walked around the town’s historical section for a bit and looked at all the old landmarked houses that I had just read about in the museum. This area surrounds the blocks around the Historical Society so look for the plaques on the homes in the next two blocks. After my walk to work off lunch, it was off to my next destination, Cape May and the Chalfonte Hotel for dinner at the Magnolia Room.
Cape May is a really strange exit as you get to 0 (zero) on the Parkway, you exit over a small bridge to enter Cape May and it is literally going from open farmland to a quaint little New England fishing village.
Cape May Harbor at 0 Garden State Parkway
As you drive into town you will be entering the Marina area of the town and the famous Lobster House restaurant, which is known for their fresh seafood dishes. The homes towards the back of the town are newer being built after the war years but as you get closer to the shore, the streets are line with Victorian homes, many of which have been renovated or updated over the years.
My destination was the Chalfonte Hotel, which I have written about several times for this blog especially at the holidays. The hotel was built in 1876 and is one of the old grand beach hotels on the Jersey shore.
The Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street in Cape May
I was lucky that the hotel was quiet the week of Labor Day. The weather was not that pleasant to the oncoming Hurricane Dorian. The waves were rough and the skies dark with slight break for a little sun. When I arrived at the hotel since it was midweek right before Labor Day, the hotel was not that busy and I went right up to my room.
After settling in, it was off to put my feet in the beach. Well not for long because Hurricane Dorian was churning up the surf at the beach and with no life guards and that strong current it was not advised to go near the water. I just let the surf that hit the beach go up to my feet and even that was rough. Those waves went to the middle of the beach. Still the water was cool and refreshing and felt so good after a long trip.
I walked around the stores and shops that are normally closed at the holidays by the shore and finally got to go into places that I had wanted to visit for the last three seasons. This lead me to a long walk to Washington Mall, the main shopping district to walk around the stores there. At least I knew where all the beach goers were who abandoned the rough waves of the shore. The place was mobbed with people having lunch or an early dinner or eating ice cream and relaxing on the benches.
Washington Street Mall in Cape May
After my walk in the mall, I visited the Cape May Firehouse Museum again which is right off the downtown next to the Cape May Fire Department Headquarters.
Cape May Fire Museum at 712 Franklin Street
This little museum on the history of the Cape May Fire Department is very interesting. The museum covers the fires of the town which is mostly made of wood and the famous fires of the late 1800’s that devoured most of the old wooden Victorian hotels. The resort area has been a lot over the last century. It explains who many of their members were and how they developed the department (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).
Inside the Cape May Fire Museum
After the long walk around town and by the beach, I just settled into my room at the hotel before dinner. The Chalfonte is an old line Southern beach hotel with its own traditions. The hotel was built in 1876 and runs like a hotel in Georgia or any other Deep South state. The hospitality is warm and friendly and it attracts the same families year after year.
I lucked out and they upgraded me to a room with a private bath and a view. It is too bad that over a hundred and forty years has passed since the hotel was built and the only view I got was of the homes across the street. That beach view is long gone.
Dinner is what I came for that night and that meant dining at the Magnolia Room, the main dining room at the Chalfonte whose specialty is Southern cooking. Lucille Thompson, who has been cooking here since she was young alongside her mother, grandmother and now niece just celebrated her 60th year at the hotel and her 90th birthday as well. She works in the kitchen 12 hours a day making the crab-cakes, biscuits (which one of the ingredients is ice cream) and other delicious menu items.
Dorothy Burton and Lucille Thompson in the kitchen at the Chalfonte Hotel
Her sister, Dot Burton, had passed around the same time as my dad and I met her niece, Tina, in the dining room on my last trip at breakfast and we had a real heart to heart about our parents. She then introduced me to her aunt. So when I traveled this time, I made an effort to say hello to both of them and the hostess let me talk to Lucille again.
That was fun. Lucille is such a nice lady and one hell of a cook! I had met her the year before on another last minute trip to Cape May when I wanted to eat at the restaurant last year after reading several articles on the fried chicken and rolls that you could order in the Magnolia Room. Now it was time to try Lucille’s crab cakes!
When I asked the hostess if her niece, Tina Browser was in, I was told that she left for the day. When I told her I had met Lucille last summer, she asked if I wanted to say ‘hi’ and then off we went in to the kitchen to see Lucille. She was making her famous dinner rolls (the ones made with ice cream) and was ripping apart kale for a salad. She told me that she was still working twelve hour days at 90 and she would not have it any other way. She told me the secrets of long life and working hard and it boiled down to doing something you love and making people happy.
The Magnolia Room
I told her of the time I traveled to Cape May for my first time in the 90’s and had heard that she and her sister were upset when the hotel changed the dress code from jacket and tie to casual resort clothing. She said that that no longer bothered her but she missed her sister, Dot (who passed away five years ago) everyday and how strange it was to work in the kitchen without her. I could not imagine that after working in the same place with your sister for over sixty years! There is a real love of the sister’s food in the Magnolia Room which shows in the crowds that eat here every evening when in season.
Lucille Thompson with her late sister, Dot Burton with those delicious crab cakes
I said my goodbyes and let her finish her work. I wanted to relax before I came down for dinner at 8:00pm. I was just sitting down for dinner after a long nap in my room when Lucille was leaving for the night. It was such a nice night and the temperature hovered around 80 degrees that I sat outside on the porch of the restaurant (that and they were resetting the dining room for breakfast and I did not want to upset the table set-ups). What a beautiful night to eat outside with a gentle breeze and you could see the stars poking out in the sky.
Dinner was amazing as usual (See review on TripAdvisor). I had the $39.00 prix fixe menu which is an excellent bargain for the three course dinner with an appetizer, entrée and dessert. I started dinner with a Pineapple Martini from the King Edward Bar ($14.00) (See review on TripAdvisor) and did that pack a wallop! The bartenders here don’t skimp on the alcohol and the drink seriously relaxed me.
I started dinner with a bowl of the Chalfonte Clam Chowder, which is made in a rich roux of butter, flour and heavy cream studded with fresh sweet clams. God, it was heaven on a nice crisp night. You could taste the sweet clams and the richness of the cream in every spoonful. I ordered an additional appetizer and had the Corn Meal Fried Oysters with the homemade remoulade sauce. These were delicious. I received a generous portion of sweet oysters which were plump and well breaded with a coating of egg and cornmeal. The were lightly pan-fried and were crunchy on the outside and moist and fresh on the inside.
My entrée was Lucille’s famous crab cakes, which are more like a crab croquette. You got one nice sized crab cake, which was filled with fresh sweet crab, fresh bread crumbs and seasonings which are lightly fried being crisp on the outside and moist and creamy on the inside. Each bite I got a nice mouthful of wonderful fresh shredded crab. The crab cake came with a side of freshly made creamy coleslaw and a side of the stewed kale that Lucille had been shredded earlier in the afternoon.
I scoffed down those delicious dinner rolls, which were so much better than last year as they had just made them that afternoon and not frozen like last year. Those rolls were golden brown on the outside and pillowy on the inside and I swear I could taste the vanilla ice cream. For dessert, I had the white chocolate pie,that is baked by the owner of the hotel, with freshly cut strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. That is an interesting combination of flavors and the perfect way to end the meal.
Lucille Thompson with her famous crab cakes and dinner rolls
My waiter was the same woman who I had waiting on me last year, who works here when the hotel is in season. She is a student from the Czech Republic ( I keep asking her if she is Russian or Polish) and she even remembered me editing my book, “Love Triangles” the last summer ( I have to finish that book) when I was eating dinner. We just laughed at that and it was funny how fast a year goes.
After dinner, I walked over to the King Edward Bar, which is a small room off the lobby to hear a jazz combo perform. It was such a nice performance and it was so crowded that I sat on the outside porch and listened as the wind went by. It had been such a magnificent night of good food, wonderful conversation and just the beauty of this elegant old hotel that I just relaxed and closed my eyes and soaked it all in.
King Edward Bar at the Chalfonte Hotel
I am not sure when I fell asleep that evening but when I got back to my room around 9:30pm after a quick walk around the block, I hit the pillow and went out like a light. The beds at the hotel are so comfortable that I just fell asleep, got back up and got ready for bed and did not wake up until eight the next morning. I had such a deep relaxing sleep. I highly recommend a quick escape night at The Chalfonte if you need to escape your life.
Breakfast the next morning was at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House down the block at 261 Beach Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The restaurant is a typical Jersey Shore breakfast place with the big windows and equal size portions. I had a breakfast egg platter with scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes with orange juice ($11.00) that was delicious. The eggs and pancakes here are cooked on the grill with clarified butter and that really brings out the flavor of the food.
Uncle Bills Pancake House at 261 Beach Avenue is a Jersey shore tradition
Their staff is really young and very perky and always have a smile on their face like they are happy to work here. The wait for food is never long and I have never had a bad meal here.
After breakfast and before I left Cape May, I visited some more historical sites that I had missed on my last trip. First I visited the Greater Cape May Historical Society: Colonial House at 653 1/2 Washington Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). This small two room home dates back from the 1700’s when it was a three room house and tavern right before the Revolutionary War. The house is decorated in vintage, but not family, furniture and the docent told me the story of the owner and his family. There were spinning wheels, children’s games and in the front room furnishings geared towards the tavern while the back room was more of a living space. The family later built the Victorian home in the front of the property and must have used this original house for guests.
Cape May Historical Society at 653 1/2 Washington Street
After visiting this quirky little museum, it was off to North Cape May and visiting the World War II Watch tower on Sunset Boulevard right near Sunset Beach (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) an interesting piece of New Jersey history played a role in watching the coast line during the war for German invasion. German subs were actually spotted off the coast and there was one attack off the coast of Cape May.
World War II Tower at 536 Sunset Boulevard
You can climb the hundred steps up the tower and there are three levels with a landing on each level with a display. The first level is of pictures of local World War II and Korean War vets in before and after pictures and the role these men played in the wars. The second display was of pictures of the tower during the war years and on the top level was a docent who discussed the history of the tower and how it played a role in the war. The view from here of the beach and the surrounding park is incredible and the stories of the tower were interesting. The tower was pretty much out of date by the middle of the war and obsolete by the end as air traffic is what won World War II. Really take the time to see the display and talk to the docents.
My last place to visit before I left for home was Sunset Beach with its gorgeous evening sunsets and large white sand beach (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). In the evening, there is nothing like it watching the sun set over the horizon.
During the day, it is a bright and sunny beach with people milling around and in the later months flying kites and swimming. Any time of the year, including my trips during the holidays, Sunset Beach is worth the visit. I just love walking around the sandy beach with my shoes off and watching the ferries from Cape May to Lewes, DE sailing through. Just watching the birds fly by is relaxing.
Sunset Beach has the most amazing sunset show every night
Even though it is a three hour trip home, I was so relaxed and in such a better mood that it was well worth the trip. I was just enjoying the ride home thinking of the relaxing night at the hotel and all the interesting things to see in just one day. Going up the Garden State Parkway was a straight run and I got home in three hours. Even though it was one night. I was so relaxed that I felt like I had been gone for a week.
Two days later, I was off again to try another restaurant, The Heron, in Narrowsburg, NY. I must be dedicated because only me could travel to two out of the ways spots just to try a restaurant. I had missed eating here in 2017 when I was passing through on my way to Bovina Center, NY (See Day Seventy-Seven on ‘MywalkinManhattan.com’). I had gotten to Narrowsburg at 5:00pm that night and had to be in Bovina Center by 8:00pm so I just had about a half an hour to walk through the downtown and pass the restaurant. I vowed I would be back and it took three years to do it. Funny how life gets in the way when you are living it?
My trip to Narrowsburg, NY was also a last minute trip that had been on my bucket list for the summer break from school. After such a wonderful day in Cape May, I wanted to take another drive to revisit the area in more detail plus there were a few museums that I wanted to visit that were also on the bucket list. So after work, I traveled up Route 23 into Sussex County and traveled up the highway to my first stop, The Franklin Mineral Museum (which I had passed years ago). It was a nice little museum on the site of the old Franklin Mine.
The entrance to the Franklin Museum 32 Evans Street
The Franklin Museum 32 Evans Street in Franklin, NJ (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) is dedicated to preserving the history of the mining industry, the types of minerals that were found on the property plus interesting displays on fossils from New Jersey and Native American artifacts. Before you start to tour the museum, they give you an option to tour the quarry on your own and look for specimens of rocks. I looked over the quarry to find smaller pieces to take home and they had a black light to look over what you found. I found several pieces of calcite that glows orange under the light.
When touring the museum, leave yourself plenty of time to tour each of the galleries with two standing out, the Illuminated Rock Room and the simulated mine shafts, which take you into a copy of what a mine shaft and working in the mine would be like.
The Illumination Room is interesting once they shut the lights and close the door
The other rooms are dedicated to minerals and rocks that are found all over the world. The only problem with the museum is that it is a little dated. Most of the signs are typed and the displays could have had more videos to explain what things were and how they were mined. Still the museum is an interesting stop along the highway.
The Franklin Museum Mineral Room
After my trip to the Franklin Museum, I continued the drive up Route 23 to downtown Sussex, the County seat. I have never been to such a depressed downtown before since visiting Asbury Park in 2002 (this shore town looks nothing like that today).
Downtown Sussex, NJ
Driving through it looks very nice from a distance but when I parked the car and walked around, almost all the storefronts were empty. All these beautiful historical buildings were just sitting around rotting. The historic hotel on the edge of downtown that looked over the rest of the city was falling apart. There was a theater that had been turned into an arts center but the rest of the downtown had not caught up yet. The artists have not found this place yet. Even the Chase branch closed recently so it is telling you about business. I got in my car and continued driving.
The trip up Route 23 continues into the mountains and to the highest point of New Jersey, High Point Mountain in High Point Park. Here you will see a lush forest and a great park to go hiking in. Maybe for the next time. I exited through the town of Port Jervis, NY before making the turn onto Route 19 which lead me into the mountains.
Route 19 past Port Jervis, NY hugs the Delaware River
Route 19 right now is one of the most beautiful drives into the mountains. The foliage was still green on my way up but in a few months the leaves will start to change colors and the views will be even more spectacular. Just driving slowly up the road the Delaware River Valley shows off its true beauty. My advice when you travel up to Narrowsburg, NY is to take your time and if there is a driver that wants to pass you, stop at one of the stops along the way and take the time to admire the view.
Route 19 views of the Delaware River
I have to admit though that the drive can be a little scary being so close to the cliffs. I had not been this nervous about driving to close to an edge since my trip to Hana in Maui, Hawaii so please take your time, drive alert and drive during the day. During the late summer, just seeing the river glisten beside me and driving through the small towns on the way up the highway was picturesque and romantic.
I got up to Narrowsburg in the late afternoon and the everything in the town was closing down for the night. I arrived at the Narrowsburg Inn by 3:00pm and needed to take time to relax. I met the owners who were preparing for a wedding that Saturday so I did not want to take up much of their time. What surprised me was when they told me that this was their last weekend in business and that Sunday would be their last day running the Inn. Also I was to be their only guest that evening and that they were leaving by 6:00pm for the evening.
All I could think about was the Overlook Hotel in the movie “The Shining” and the rumors that I read online that the Narrowsburg Inn was haunted. The owners assured me that there were no ghosts at the hotel and I would be fine. They showed me to my room toward the back of the hotel with a view of the park and the river in the distance. For $100, I thought it was very nice (See my review on TripAdvisor). It had a nice large bedroom with a small sitting area and bathroom with another small sitting area. The whole Inn had been renovated and made to look rustic to match the environment of the town.
The Narrowsburg Inn
I had time to unpack and then explore the town while my hosts returned to their work. Downtown Narrowsburg is right around the corner from the Inn and is a nice walk down the road. Narrowsburg had once been a sleepy little logging and fishing town that had become depressed with the economy of Upstate New York until the artists and restaurateurs discovered the town again and made it the ‘Brooklyn’ of the Catskills.
The small four block downtown is filled with clothing and food stores, small gift shops and galleries and some interesting restaurants. Most of the stores were closed by 5:00pm and would not be opening until 11:00am the next day so there was not much to do but window shop. I walked the whole downtown and passed the grain factory at the end of the block and wondered how long it would be operating with this wave of change. It was nice to see the old and new next to one another and how the town is remaking itself.
Downtown Narrowsburg, NY
I had time to walk around the river and the bridge that lead to Pennsylvania and don’t miss out on this breathtaking view. It is really something to look down the river and see woods and rock formations as well as see the view of the “Big Eddy”, the bend in the Delaware River in the middle of the downtown. The river bends to create a type of lake that naturally flows. At one time, this is where the logging industry used to move the logs downstream but now its used for fishing, boating and photography.
The Bridge over the Delaware River
After the walk downtown and saw how busy The Heron Restaurant was that evening, I decided to walk a little further to work up my appetite and walked around the other blocks and look at the old homes and small farms that surrounded the downtown. Right down the road there was even a small historic cemetery and Fort Delaware were right down the road from the Inn.
Dinner at The Heron Restaurant was beyond my expectations (See review on TripAdvisor). The whole experience was excellent. From the warm greeting that I got at the host desk, to the view from my deck table (if the weather is nice it is highly recommended that you get a table on deck facing the river) which is amazing, to the friendly and welcoming service. It was one of the best meals I had eaten in a long time.
The artsy entrance to The Heron Restaurant
What is nice about The Heron is that the prices are very fair for the portions you receive and everything I had was consistently delicious. I started off with a side salad of fresh greens with a homemade vinaigrette dressing ($6.00), which was a small side dish that could have passed for an appetizer. It was more than enough. It was a combination of mixed greens, red onions, carrots and radish which was crunchy and delicious.
For my entree, I ordered the Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy ($18.00) with a side of mac & cheese that was made with three cheese, caramelized onions and baked bread crumbs ($6.00). Trust me when I say that the sides of salad and mac & cheese are more than enough. The appetizer portions were much larger and would be too much with a full entree.
The Fried Chicken was excellent. When you have a free range organic chicken you can tell the difference in flavor with that and a frozen chicken from KFC. The chicken was moist, succulent and flavorful. The outside had been coated with a crunchy breading that was perfectly fried and crisp. The mashed potatoes were loaded with butter and the mushroom gravy had a rich flavor to it. The mac & cheese must have contained three cheeses and was sharp, gooey delight. The entree was delicious.
I highly recommend the Fried Chicken here
For dessert, I skipped the rich, heavier desserts (even though I really wanted one) and opted for the homemade grapefruit sorbet ($7.00) which was light and tart and the perfect ending to spectacular meal.
The view was the deck was just as breathtaking! As I waited for dinner to arrive, the view changed from a sunny evening that gave way to a beautiful sunset over the “Big Eddy” and the mountains to a starry night where you could almost touch the constellations. I could see the ‘Big Dipper’ perfectly from my table. It was the perfect compliment to the wonderful food and excellent service.
The view from The Heron Restaurant looking over the “Big Eddy”
After dinner was over, I walked around the quiet downtown and walked over to the small deck that is next to the stores down the road and looked at the stars. Up in the mountains you don’t have all the light pollution of the City and you can really see all the stars and admire the constellations. The walk was the end of a perfect evening.
When I got back to the Inn, it was quiet. There was one light on at the other side of the building over the kitchen. I guess one of the cooks stays there. Outside that, when I walked in I saw the empty kitchen and dining room. I walked up the creaky stairs to see the other empty rooms and arrived back in my own warmly lite room and got ready for bed.
If there is a ghost in this Inn, I did hear them. I sunk immediately into the soft, firm, comfortable bed and went fast asleep. When I mean its quiet up here it is silent. I did not hear a peep and slept soundly the whole night. Since the owners were not coming back until noon the next day, I could sleep in and had one of the best night’s sleep since the trip to Cape May. All that driving wore me out.
The owners had recommended Gerard’s Cafe at 119 Kirks Road the next morning for breakfast (See review on Tripadvisor). It had been an old gas station that had been turned into a restaurant (I think they still pumped gas there). It was a pleasant little cafe where all the local farmers ate and caught up on their gossip.
I had a sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich with a side of hashbrowns ($10.95) and a blueberry danish that had been brought in from a local bakery ($2.00) and everything was simple and delicious. The hashbrowns could have been warmer but over all it was a nice meal. It was fun watching the staff interact with the local guys and some of them went in the back to kid with the staff and give the cooks a hard time. It is a very nice place to eat if you want to go where the locals eat.
Since none of the downtown stores open until 11:00am, I stopped at Fort Delaware down the road. Fort Delaware is a local historical site (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) that is a recreation of an old fort that used to be on the Pennsylvania side of river. The fort was created in the 1950’s as a local tourist attraction by an area resident historian who later sold it the area Parks system.
Fort Delaware at 6615 NY-97 in Narrowsburg, NY
The site has three homes that recreate life in the fort as well as a working blacksmith shop and areas for spinning cloth and cooking. There are actors walking around demonstrating their crafts and talking to the visitors. It is a nice place to take the family if they are interested in history. If you visit the fort, remember to take time to walk all around the upper decks of the fort to look inside.
After my visit to the fort, I was able to walk around the downtown area and visit the shops and galleries that line the street. There is very interesting but expensive art to be found in the galleries in Narrowsburg and several nice gourmet shops carrying brands that you do not see to often. Even though the town is becoming a tourist destination, I am not sure who is going to buy all these things in the winter months when the snow comes. The stores really didn’t cater to the locals the way some other small towns up in the Catskills do and the prices were a little high. The quality is there in the merchandise and you will find some nice things from local artists and food artisans. Just note that a lot of the stores don’t open until 11:00am.
After my quick tour of the shops of Downtown Narrowsburg, it was off for the 2:00pm tour at the Sterling Hill Mine Museum in Franklin, NJ. It was about two hours away and it ride back down Route 19 and thank God there was no traffic. I did make one or two stops at the rest areas overlooking the Delaware River to admire the view. Please take your time when coming back down Route 19. You are on the cliff side of the highway and if someone wants to pass you, let them.
The Sterling Hill Mine Museum at 30 Plant Road
I got to the Sterling Hill Mine Museum just at 2:15pm as the tour began and I was able to catch up to the tour with the group and enjoy the tour. The Sterling Mine Museum is located at 30 Plant Road in Ogdensburg, NJ (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) and is the site of the former Sterling Hill Mine that operated until 1986 and was one of the biggest zinc mines in the world. Unlike the Franklin Mine that I saw the day before, the Sterling Hill Mine still has minerals in the mine but was closed because of cost prohibitive.
The tour starts out with a small lecture inside the main building and then moves into another building that houses the old mining lockers, samples of minerals, old equipment that had been used by the miners for over 100 years, all sorts of signing from the past as well as fossils from New Jersey and Native American artifacts. They give you plenty of time to look around and you can participate in Scavenger Hunt if you want and they will ask and answer your questions.
Artifacts inside the main part of the building
Then you get to tour the mine and that was the best part of the tour. The docent explained the workings of the mine and the day to day life of a miner and it must have been a tough experience. Long hours, dangerous conditions and not so working locations in the tunnels was not for the most productive life. Still these men and women endured a structured but dangerous life.
The mine tunnels at the Sterling Hill Museum
Still what these people accomplished was amazing as we got to tour the top of the mine tunnels and get to see the inner workings of the miners days. There was a complete foreman’s office to see how the day started, long tunnels to where the actual work was done, the tracks on how the ore was moved from one part of the mine to the other and how they transported from one part of the mine to the other.
The mining transport system
Most of the mine tunnels have been flooded now by underground streams that used to be pumped out. Otherwise you could go several miles down into the mine. Once you finish the main part of the tour, then the docent will take you to the Illumination cave with the mineral rainbow. When they turn out the lights, it is the most amazing site of colors and designs. Its natures way of showing off.
The colorful rainbow display in the rock formation
After the tour is over, take time to look over the gift shop and the snack bar. There are some interesting things on the menu including a meat pie that the miners used to eat for lunch. Just a note, the tour only takes place at 2:00pm so be sure to be on time and wear comfortable clothes and sneakers. I also would not advise people with strollers and canes on the tour even though they say it’s fine. I really saw people struggling here.
Before I headed home for the day, I stopped at Franklin Chicken and Ribs at 535 Route 23 South for dinner and had one of the best pulled pork sandwiches I had had in a long time ($5.50). Franklin Chicken and Ribs (See review on TripAdvisor) specializes in barbecue meats and accompanying salads and sides. There is an extensive menu and the family who runs the restaurant is really nice.
The pulled pork is so tender and well cooked and slathered in rich tangy barbecue sauce and then topped with fresh homemade coleslaw. That with their hand cut fries and a ice cold Coke, there is nothing like it. Grab one of the picnic tables outside and relax while soaking up the sun.
The pulled pork at Franklin Chicken and Ribs is excellent
I also double backed for dessert at Holland American Bakery at 246 Route 23 South (See review on TripAdvisor) for some dessert. You will know the bakery by the giant windmill up front.
The doughnuts here are delicious and I had one of the jelly and one of the blueberry filled doughnuts ($1.25). You will be tempted by all the sweet rolls, cookies, turnovers and the other colorful pastries. Be prepared to dig in and enjoy your dessert out on the picnic benches outside. You may want to take another round in the bakery after you are finished.
Don’t miss the Holland American Bakery at 246 Route 23
After finishing my early dinner, I drove home slowly through Sussex County and enjoyed the mountain views. There are some really beautiful sections of the county with great museums and restaurants just a short drive away. It was really funny that on both overnight trips I felt like I had been gone a week. There is so much to see and do and to experience. I had passed these places many times but I had never stopped to experience them.
This time I am glad I did. If you get a chance to visit Cape May, NJ or Narrowsburg, NY stop where you can and relax and enjoy it.
Fee: Combination Museum & Rock Collecting: Adults $15.00/Children 3-16 $10.00/Seniors (65+) & Veterans $12.00 Other packages for just the museum and rock collecting are available. Please check the website.
After my long walks around the classic New York neighborhoods of Sutton Place, Beekman Place and Turtle Bay, it was now time to turn my attention to the commercial part of Manhattan and the shopping districts that are popular with the tourists. This neighborhood is in a whirlwind of change right now as everything old is being knocked down and replaced with shiny new office towers and large glass boxes. Slowly the character of this part of Midtown is changing from the old stone buildings with the beautifully carved embellishments to a lot of glass towers lining both the Avenues and the Streets of the neighborhood. I have never seen so many changes over a twenty year period.
I have also seen the decline of the Fifth and Madison Avenue exclusivity in the shopping district from East 60th Street to East 43rd Street right near the New York Public Library. All the big department stores one by one have closed leaving only Saks Fifth Avenue and specialty store Bergdorf Goodman both Men’s and Women’s stores left. Even those stores have gone from elegant well-bred stores to somewhat showy and glitzy as I am not sure they know who their customer is anymore. There are a lot of empty storefronts because of the rising rents.
The selection of stores and restaurants lining this side of the neighborhood are still somewhat exclusive but it reminds me more of North Michigan Avenue in Chicago than Fifth Avenue in New York City. There seems to have been a dispersion of stores from the street over the last two years to areas like Madison Avenue or even SoHo or Tribeca downtown. There are a lot of empty store fronts both on Fifth and Madison Avenue which you never saw until the Stock Market Crash of 2008. The area has not fully recovered from that yet.
Still the borders of the neighborhood still hold some of the most iconic and famous buildings in Manhattan and interesting shops and restaurants along the way. Some of the most famous hotels in New York City are located in this neighborhood with their classic old world charm and their elegant stonework entrances.
I started my tour of the neighborhood by revisiting the length of Lexington Avenue from East 43rd Street and walking up the Avenue to East 59th Street and then crossing over East 59th to Fifth Avenue. First I stopped for some lunch at Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop at 139 East 45th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop is one of the few remaining restaurants in the former brownstone section of the neighborhood that has not been razed for an office building. The food is so good and different from the other Chinese take out places in Midtown. They specialize in roasted meats, noodle soups and dishes while keeping the traditional Cantonese favorite for the busy office workers in the area.
Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop at 139 East 45th Street
My first and second trips to the restaurant I wanted to concentrate on the roasted meats. You could not taste a more moist or succulent meat outside of Chinatown. The Roast Pork, Roast Duck and Boneless Roast Pork with rice makes a nice lunch. The meats are perfectly marinated, lacquered and roasted to perfection with crackling skin and the taste of soy and honey. Their prices are very fair and the selection of combination dishes all run under $10.00.
The delicious roasted meats at Hop Won
After lunch, I walked up the familiar Lexington Avenue to East 59th Street, passing well-known hotels and office buildings that still make up the character of the neighborhood. In between the ‘glass boxes’ there are still many buildings that standout and you can read about them more in my travels around Turtle Bay (Day One Hundred and Forty Walking Turtle Bay).
As I rounded along East 59th Street, I saw in the distance the now bankrupt Barney’s specialty store. Talk about a store that traveled in full circle from a discount store to exclusivity now into bankruptcy with the changing tastes and buying habits of customers all over the city. I’m surprised with the rent for this location they are bothering to keep it open.
Further down the street passing various stores and restaurants on the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 59th Street is the famous Sherry-Netherland Hotel at 781 Fifth Avenue. Built between 1926-27 by the architects Schultz-Weaver with Buckman and Kahn in the Neo-Romanesque/Neo-Gothic style and you can see the stone work details around the edges of the building. It was once the tallest apartment hotel in New York City.
Sherry-Netherland Hotel at 781 Fifth Avenue
When walking around the corner East 59th Street to Fifth Avenue, you will pass the General Motors Building at 767 Fifth Avenue. This modern skyscraper was designed in the ‘International style’ by architects by Edward Durell Stone & Associates with Emory Roth & Sons in 1968 and is one of the few buildings that utilizes a full city block (Wiki). The building was used by General Motors as their New York headquarters until 1998 when they sold the remaining interest in the building.
The GM Building at 767 Fifth Avenue
Next door to the GM Building is 745 Fifth Avenue, the home of Bergdorf-Goodman Men’s Store and once the home to FAO Schwarz Toy Store from 1932-1986. You can see this classic New York skyscraper in many TV shows and movies including the theme song for the opening of “That Girl” and in the FAO Schwarz scene of the movie “Baby Boom” with Diane Keaton. This beautiful ‘art-deco style’ building was designed by architects Buckman-Kahn in 1930.
745 Fifth Avenue
745 Fifth Avenue on TV in the opening of “That Girl” with the Bergdorf-Goodman store window on the corner of 5th Avenue and 59th Street where she is looking into.
The architecture continues to evolve on Fifth Avenue as you continue to make your way down the street.
Watch the traffic and security as you pass Trump Tower at 721 Fifth Avenue. I could write an entire book on the building of this famous and iconic structure of the 1980’s. The building was designed by architect Dur Scutt of Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell. It is tough to visit the building with all the security but still it is interesting to see the shops and inside design.
Trump Tower at 721 Fifth Avenue
There is a combination of building designs and structure along the way. Located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street is one of the most famous hotels in New York City, The St. Regis Hotel. This luxury hotel on the corner of 55th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenue’s at 2 East 55th Street was built in 1904 by John Jacob Astor IV.
St. Regis Hotel at 2 East 55th Street
The hotel was designed by architects Trowbridge & Livingston in the French Beaux-Art style and was the tallest hotel in New York when it was built. Take time to go inside and see the true beauty of this hotel which was fully renovated in 2013. There are interesting restaurants to eat at and they have a wonderful (but very pricey) Afternoon Tea. The hotel which is a Five Star and Five Diamond hotel has been featured on countless TV shows and movies.
The Front entrance of the St. Regis Hotel off Fifth Avenue
On the corner of Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street sits a true jewel box in the Cartier store at 653 Fifth Avenue. The store was once home to Morton Freeman Plant, the son of railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant. The home was designed by architect Robert W. Gibson in 1905 in the ‘Neo-Renaissance style’. Mr. Plant felt later that the area was getting too ‘commercial’ and moved further uptown and Cartier bought the building in 1917 (Wiki).
Cartier Fifth Avenue 653 Fifth Avenue
Cartier finished a renovation on the store in 2016 to bring back the true beauty and elegance of the store and of the building. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk around inside and see the refined displays of merchandise.
The Cartier store after the renovation
Next to the Cartier store at 647 Fifth Avenue is the next Versace store which is housed in the left side of the Vanderbilt ‘ marble twin mansions. The Vanderbilt family had bought the land and built twin buildings on the site at 647-645 Fifth Avenue. Designed by architects Hunt & Hunt in 1902, the homes were first leased out as homes until about 1915 when businesses and trade came to the area.
647 Fifth Avenue in 1902
After passing out the Vanderbilt family in 1922, the building went through many incarnations and 645 Fifth Avenue was torn down for the Best & Company Department store in 1945 only to be torn down again in 1970 for the Olympic Tower (which still stands in the spot). The building was renovated in 1995 by Versace as their Fifth Avenue store and spent six million dollars to create the store that greets customers today.
647 Fifth Avenue today
The true catalyst and center of the luxury shopping district though is St. Patrick’s Cathedral which sits gracefully at the corner of Fifth Avenue between 51st and 50th Streets. The Discesce of New York was created in 1808 and the land for the Cathedral was bought in 1810. The Cathedral was to replace the one in lower Manhattan.
This current Cathedral was designed by architect James Resnick Jr. in the Gothic Revival style. Construction was started in 1850 and was halted because of the Civil War and continued in 1865. The Cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated in 1879. The Cathedral was renovated in 2013 and this shows its brilliance (Wiki).
During the holiday season the Cathedral is beautifully decorated and the music can be heard all over Fifth Avenue.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue
Next door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral is Saks Fifth Avenue’s headquarters. The business was founded by Andrew Saks in 1876 and was incorporated in 1902. After Mr. Saks died in 1912, the business was merged with Gimbel’s Brothers Department Store as Horace Saks was a cousin of Bernard Gimbel. In 1924, they opened the new store at 611 Fifth Avenue and changed the name of the store to Saks Fifth Avenue (The old store had been on 34th Street previously and called Saks 34th). The building was designed by architects Starrett & Van Vliet and designed in a ‘genteel, Anglophile classicized design’. (Wiki).
The store has recently gone through a major multi-million dollar renovation and is worth the time to look around the new first floor. The new cosmetic department is on the lower level along with jewelry so it is a different shopping experience.
Saks Fifth Avenue at 611 Fifth Avenue
Another former business that was well known on Fifth Avenue for years was located at 597 Fifth Avenue was Charles Scribner Sons Building. It originally house the Charles Scribner Book Store replacing the old store on lower Fifth Avenue. The building at 597 Fifth Avenue was designed by architect Ernest Flagg in the Beaux Arts style between 1912-13 (Wiki). The bookstore moved out in 1980 and the company became part of Barnes & Nobel Bookstores and the building has been sold since. It now houses a Lululemon Athletica store but you can still see the Scribner’s name on the outside of the building and the Landmarked book shelves inside the store.
The Charles Scribner Sons Building at 597 Fifth Avenue
The rest of Fifth Avenue is newer office buildings with retail space on the bottom levels some filled and some empty. When I was growing up, this part of Fifth Avenue was filled with high end stores. Today it is a combination of chain stores found in the suburbs or are just sitting empty, a trend found all over this part of Midtown East.
The Fred French Building at 551 Fifth Avenue
At 551 Fifth Avenue another interesting building, The Fred French Building really stands out. The building was created by architects H. Douglas Ives and Sloan & Robertson in 1927 in the ‘Art Deco Style’. Really look at the detail work all the up the building which was done in an ‘Eastern Design’ style with winged animals, griffins and golden beehives made to symbolize according to the architect ‘commerce and character and activities’ of the French companies. The outside material used on the building is faience, a glazed ceramic ware (Wiki).
The detail work on the top of the Fred French Building
When you cross over to West 43rd Street, you will see the elegant Grand Central Station complex which covers from West 42nd to West 45th Streets with the train station facing the West 42nd Street entrance to the MetLife Building (forever known at the Pan-Am Building for those of us to remember it) toward the back. It hovers over Grand Central like a modern gleaming giant. It should never been built there but that was the modern way of doing things in the 1960’s.
One of the best movie scenes of Fifth Avenue & the Pan-Am Building from “On a Clear Day you can see Forever”
Grand Central Station, once the home of the New York Railroad is one of the famous buildings in New York City. Saved from demolition in the 1960’s by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and other concerned preservationists.
Grand Central Terminal dominates this part of the neighborhood at 89 East 42nd Street
Grand Central Terminal was built between 1903-13 and opened in 1913. This beautiful rail station was designed New York Central Vice-President William J. Wilgus and the interiors and some exteriors by architects Reed & Stem and Warren & Wetmore in the Beaux Arts design. The exterior facade of building including the famous “Glory of Commerce” were designed by French artists and architects Jules Felix Coutan, Sylvain Salieres and Paul Cesar Helleu (Wiki).
There is a true beauty to the statuary and stone carvings on the outside of the building.
‘The Glory of Commerce’
The terminal housed the New York Central Railroad and some of the busiest routes. It now houses the New Haven, White Plains and Poughkeepsie lines and stop overs for some Amtrak lines. In 2020, it was house the new lines of the Long Island Rail Road.
The interior of the building is just as spectacular. When you walk into the building and stare from the top of the stairs, you see the power and bustle of New York City. When you look up you will see the famous ‘Constellation’ ceiling cleaned and lit with all the stars in the sky. There is still a small portion of the ceiling that was not cleaned to show how dirty it once was before the renovation.
Take time in the building to walk around and look up and down. This is an amazing building that takes time to look around. I will admit that security is tight around the building so don’t be to obvious as a tourist. Take the escalator to the bottom level to the Food Court. If you can’t find it down here, you won’t find it. Every restaurant is represented down here and there are public bathrooms as well.
After touring Grand Central station, I walked back down West 43rd Street to Fifth Avenue. Outside the Emigrant Bank is the statue of ‘Kneeling Fireman’ which was once placed by Times Square when it first arrived in this country from Parma, Italy. The statue arrived in this country on September 9, 2001 on its way to Missouri as it had been commissioned for the Firefighters Association of Missouri (Wiki).
After the attacks on 9/11, the statue was presented to the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation as a gift to the City. With funding from the Millstein family, the statue was mounted and placed in front of their hotel, The Milford Plaza which is in the Times Square area. It was a placed of remembrance for people to gather after the attacks (Ciston 2011).
The Kneeling Fireman outside 6 East 43rd Street
The Statue is now placed in front of the Emigrant Savings Bank headquarters at 6 East 43rd Street and funding from the Millstein family provided a permanent home for the statue. People still come to visit the statue (which had been in storage for a decade until 2011) but its meaning seems different now with so many years passing. Still it is an important part of the City’s history at a time when it brought everyone together.
Across the street from the statue, I noticed an unusual building that was part marble and part modern. This is the Fifth Church of Christ Scientist. The building was built in 1921 for the Church in the Classic Revival style and as part of the agreement there is a 21 story glass tower on top of it (Wiki). It really does stand out for its unique design. Still it does not look that big from the outside but the building does seat 1800.
From 43rd Street, I walked back up Fifth Avenue to the other side of the street and the buildings on this side of the street contains its share of architectural gems. The lower part of this side of Fifth Avenue is going through a transition as a lot of buildings exteriors are either being renovated or the building itself is being knocked down and a new one is rising. Many of the buildings here are quite new or just don’t stand out.
Once you get to West 49th Street things start to change when you enter Rockefeller Center which is across the street from Saks Fifth Avenue. The Rockefeller Center complex covers 22 acres with 19 buildings including Radio City Music Hall and the famous ice skating rink that is holiday tradition once the famous tree is lite. The complex stretches from East 48th to East 51st Street from Fifth to Sixth Avenues. Rockefeller Center was built in two sections, the original 16 building of the complex and then the second section west of Sixth Avenue (Wiki).
Rockefeller Center at 45 Rockefeller Plaza on Fifth Avenue
The land under Rockefeller Center was owned by Columbia University (which was later sold) and the building of the complex started at the beginning of the Great Depression. Construction started in 1931 with the first section opening in 1933 and the remainder of the complex opening in 1939 (Wiki).
The original section of the complex was built in the ‘Art Deco style’ and the extension on Sixth Avenue was built in the ‘International style’. Three separate firms were hired to design the complex with the principal architects being Raymond Hood of Hood, Godley and Fouilhoux who was a student in the Art Deco style, Harvey Wiley Corbett and Wallace Harrison of Corbett, Harrison & McMurray and to lay the floor plans for the project L. Andrew Reinhard and Henry Hofmeister of Reinhard & Hofmeister. They were working under the Associated architects so that no one person could take the credit for the project (Wiki). Two of the original tenants including Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and National Broadcasting Company (NBC) which still exist.
The original section of Rockefeller Center
Radio City Music Hall, known for the elaborate shows and the Rockettes, was finished in 1932 and the ice skating rink was finished in 1933 and the first Christmas tree was erected by the workers who were doing all the building.
The first tree in Rockefeller Center in 1933 with the constructions workers who erected it.
The rest of the complex went up over the next five years with extensions and renovations being done over the next fifty years. Many famous companies made Rockefeller Center their headquarters or moved their offices to the complex over the years. Still most tourists find their way to the restaurants and the famous rink at the holidays.
Rockefeller Center and the famous tree today
Of all the beautiful artwork that line the walls and courtyards of the complex, two stand out. Prometheus is a beautiful statue that stands proud above the ice skating rink. This beautiful cast iron, gilded sculpture was made in 1934 by artist Paul Manship. The work is of the Greek legend of Titan Prometheus who brought fire to mankind by stealing it from the Chariot of the Sun (Wiki).
Mr. Manship was a well known American artist who noted for his specialized work in mythological pieces in the classic style. He was educated at the St. Paul School of Art and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
The other standout statue is of the God Atlas that guards the courtyard of the International Buildings. The sculpture was created by artist Lee Lawrie with the help of Rene Paul Chambellan. The statue was created in the Art Deco style to match with the architure of the Center and depicts Atlas carrying the celestial vault on his shoulders.
Atlas at Rockefeller Center
Mr. Lawrie was known as a architectural sculptor whose work is integrated into the building design. His work in the Art Deco design fit perfectly into the new building. Mr. Lawrie was a graduate of the School of Fine Arts at Yale.
Touring around Rockefeller Center can take a full afternoon itself especially at the holidays but in the summer months with the outdoor cafe open on the skating rink it is much more open. Also visit the underground walkways of shops and restaurants and visit the new FAO Schwarz that opened in the center.
Leaving Rockefeller Center and heading up Fifth Avenue you will pass the rest of the complex that was designed in a combination of the International and Art Deco design. When reaching the corner of East 53rd Street another historic church, Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue stands guard. Though the church has been part of Manhattan since 1823, the current church was built here by 1914 and consecrated in 1916 as an Episcopal parish (Wiki).
Saint Thomas Church at 1 West 53rd Street
The church was designed by architects Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue of the firm Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson with added sculpture by Lee Lawrie. The building is designed in the French High Gothic style and has magnificent deals (Wiki). Even if you are not Episcopalian, going to services at the church is a nice experience. The services are always very relaxed and the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys is excellent. The music and songs are wonderful to hear and the concerts in the afternoon and weekends are a treat.
The next block up is a combination of unique buildings back to back with the University Club of New York (Princeton) and the Peninsula Hotel. These buildings are so beautiful in their place on Fifth Avenue.
The University Club of New York is a private social club and is just as elegant inside as it is outside. The building was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White in 1899 and was designed in the Mediterranean Revival Italian Renaissance palazzo style.
The University Club of New York at 1 West 54th Street
Next door to the club is the New York branch of the Peninsula Hotel located at 700 Fifth Avenue at West 55th Street. The hotel opened in 1905 as the Gotham Hotel designed in the neoclassical style. The hotel lived in the shadow of the St. Regis across the street and the Plaza Hotel up the road and went bankrupt in 1908. The hotel had many incarnations over the next eighty yeas until 1988 when it was bought by the Peninsula Group. They spent forty five million dollars in a renovation (Wiki).
Take time to go inside and see the elegant public rooms and take a walk down the hallway to see the inside of the hotel. During the holidays it is beautifully decorated adn their restaurants are considered excellent.
The Peninsula Hotel New York at 700 Fifth Avenue
Across the street from the Peninsula Hotel is the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Street. The church was founded in 1808 and has been on this spot since 1875. The church was designed by architect Carl Pfeiffer in the Victorian Gothic style. The church is built with New Jersey Red Sandstone and the interesting part of the structure is that the clock tower has the original clockworks since 1875 and must be wound each week by hand (Wiki).
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Street
On an Avenue of churches and department stores, another office building does stand out so you really have to look up and admire the detail work of the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue one of the buildings that was gilded and gold leafed in the 1980’s.
The Crown Building was built in 1921 and was designed by architects from Warren & Wetmore who you will note had designed Grand Central Terminal and the Helmsley Building on Park Avenue. They changed the name to the Crown Building in 1983 because of the ‘crown like look’ when illuminated at night. The building has been owned by many well known families including the Marcos Family from the Philippines and the Spitzers of New York (Elliot Spitzer was New York’s former Governor). It has been many ownerships over the years and their are considerations by the new owner to turn it into condos (Wiki).
The Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue
The last building I visited on my walk up Fifth Avenue was my old employer, Bergdorf-Goodman Specialty store. This is truly the palace of luxury and innovation in fashion. There are designers here that keep popping up that I have never heard of all displayed in elegant fashion where the store looks more like a art gallery of fashion than just a store.
The Cornelius Vanderbilt II house on the site before Bergdorf-Goodman
Bergdorf-Goodman was once the location of the Cornelius Vanderbilt mansion (which was torn down in 1926) and was opened in this location in 1928. The store was founded by Herman Bergdorf and was later owned by Edwin Goodman. The store is designed in the Beaux-Arts style and the inside of the store just went through a multi-million dollar renovation.
Bergdorf-Goodman at 745 Fifth Avenue
Bergdorf-Goodman is a lot of fun to walk around. My favorite floors are the first floor where Jewelry and Accessories is located. The displays of merchandise look like a museum and the Seventh Floor is stocked with interesting home furnishings, creative dishware and very pretty restaurant that overlooks Fifth Avenue and the park below. Pack your credit cards because you will find something you like here. Visit the store at Christmas for the creative window displays, the well-stocked Holiday Department or just go for Afternoon Tea in the restaurant. Its fun to window shop here.
The last place I visited was Pulitzer Plaza to sit down and relax from all of the walking and see the Pulitzer Fountain.
Pulitzer Plaza and Fountain at 1 Pulitzer Plaza
This busy little park is a refuge for people shopping on Fifth Avenue, tourists wanting to take pictures of the Plaza Hotel and the pigeons so watch out. The park is of the Grand Army Plaza that extends to the other side West 59th Street.
The fountain was designed by sculptor Karl Bitter and the park by architect Thomas Hastings of the firm Carrere & Hastings. The statue is of the Pomona, the Goddess of Abundance who is holding a basket of fruit.
When Mr. Bitter died in a car accident, the statue was finished by his assistant, Karl Gruppe with the help of Isidore Konti. The fountain was dedicated in 1916 (Wiki).
The Goddess Pomona statue by artist Karl Bitter
While sitting in the park watching the tourists walk by muttering things about the “Home Alone” film that had been shot at the Plaza Hotel, it really struck me about the treasure trove of architectural styles, immense detail work on the buildings and the interesting statuary that lines this part of East Midtown. It is its own open air museum if you really take the time to look up and around and admire the true beauty of the neighborhood. Some of the most famous buildings in Manhattan are located right here.
I ended my walk back at the corner of Lexington and East 59th Street, revisiting the Turtle Bay neighborhood that I walked a few months earlier. As much as this neighborhood is changing, there still is enough of the past to admire. Look to see how the future intertwines with the past in Mid-Town East.
Places to Visit:
There are so many wonderful and beautiful buildings to see in this neighborhood that I mentioned their addresses in the main part of the walk rather one by one. Please walk both sides of Fifth Avenue and look across the street to admire the true beauty of these magnificent buildings.
Places to Eat:
Hop Won Chinese Restaurant
139 East 45th Street (between Lexington & Third Avenue)
When I finally finished walking Sutton and Beekman Places, I finally decided to take the long walk down Broadway that I had planned for two years. As you can see by the blog, I like to take one neighborhood or section of the City at a time and concentrate on getting to know it. What is the history of the neighborhood? What is there now? Who are the shop keepers and the restaurant owners? What is the neighborhood association doing to improve the area? I like to become part of the neighborhood when I walk around it.
But recently I have noticed people on the Internet have been posting that they walked the entire length of Broadway and bragged about it like they were ‘performing brain surgery’. So I put aside my next walk and decided to see what the fuss was about walking up and down Broadway. I am not sure about everyone else but it was a long trip that took a little over eight hours and I highly recommend the exercise. It was a lot of fun and I felt terrific afterwards. The walk goes by very quickly.
I got to visit neighborhoods that I had not seen in about two to three years. The most striking thing I had discovered especially walking through Harlem and Washington Heights is how many of the old businesses I had either passed or had eaten at had closed. Just like the rest of the City, these areas are going through a lot of change and are being gentrified. It seems like the college campus neighborhoods are leading the way especially around Columbia’s new campus above 125th Street and SUNY between 145th Street to 130th Street. The shifts in neighborhoods are changing very fast and more and more buildings are under scaffolding or being knocked down and replaced.
Since the walk down Broadway from 242nd Street to Bowling Green Park is so extensive, I will not go into the intense detail of historical sites and parks along the way. More detail can be found on my sister sights, VisitingaMuseum.com, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com. On these three sites I will discuss more on each site and a more detailed history. More information on each neighborhood can be found section by section of Manhattan on my blog, MywalkinManhattan.com.
Broadway itself as an Avenue has a very interesting history. Broadway is the English-language literal translation of the Dutch name, ‘Brede-wey’. Broadway was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail that was carved into brush of Manhattan by the Native American inhabitants. ‘Wickquasgeck means “birch-bark country” in Algonquian language. The trail originally snaked through swamps and rocks along the length of Manhattan island (Wiki).
Manhattan in Colonial Times
When the Dutch arrived, the trail became the main road through the island with the colony of Nieuw Amsterdam at the southern tip. The word ‘Brede-wey’ was translated when the British took possession of the island they changed the name to ‘Broadway’. Known in the past as ‘Broadway Street’, ‘Kingsbridge Road’ and ‘Bloomingdale Road’ in parts around the island, it officially became ‘Broadway’ in 1899 when the whole street from the top of Manhattan to the bottom was named for one long road (Wiki).
The entire length of Broadway through Manhattan from Inwood to the Battery is 13 miles and the length in the Bronx is 2 miles. There is an additional 18 miles that runs through Westchester County all the way to Sleepy Hollow, NY where it ends. I just concentrated on the subway route from the 242nd Street Subway exit to the Bowling Green at the tip of Manhattan.
I started my mornings at 5:30am getting up and stretching. The sun shined in my room and that was a good start to the day. The weather was going to be in the high 70’s with a touch of clouds and the weather really cooperated. I got into New York City at 8:15am and started my day with breakfast at my favorite deli in the Garment District, 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli (or Juniors AM-PM Deli as it also known by (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com)
What I love about 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli is the generous portions at a very fair price. I started my day with a French Toast platter ($4.99). I had four very nice sized slices of French Toast that were nicely caramelized and just a hint of cinnamon. On my second time on the walk, I ate here again ordering one of their Hungry Man Hero’s ($9.75), which is three eggs, potatoes, ham, bacon and sausage on a soft hero roll with mayo. Ladened with calories yes but taste wise wonderful. It had all the calories and carbs for a 15 mile walk.
It is always nice to grab one of the stools and eat by the window and watch the world go by. Just remember to get here early before all the construction workers from the Hudson Yards come over for their half hour union break. Then it really gets busy.
9th Avenue AM-PM Deli
After breakfast, it was off to Times Square to take the Number One Subway up to 242nd Street-Van Cortland Park stop to start the walk. Manhattan actually starts lower than that but on such a nice day, I thought it would be nice to start at the very top of the subway route. I had not been to the Van Cortlandt House Museum (See VisitingaMuseum.com and TripAdvisor for my reviews) since right after the holidays to see the house decorations and not seen the park ever in the warmer months.
Van Cortlandt House Museum in Van Cortlandt Park
I got to my destination at 9:00am and had to go to the bathroom. What is nice about Van Cortlandt Park is that the public bathrooms are right near the subway exit and there is another set right next to the Van Cortlandt House Museum so that is covered when you enter the neighborhood. Make sure to take a bathroom break now because the options get slimmer until about 207th Street.
I started my adventure by walking into the park and visiting the museum grounds. Van Cortlandt Park is a beautiful park that was once the Van Cortlandt estate. The last time I had been here was to tour the house for Christmas and to see the decorations. The house is much nicer in the Summer months with the gardens in bloom. The house was closed when I got to the park so I just walked around the grounds to stretch a bit and admire the foliage. It was nice to see the trees with leaves on them and the gardens surrounding the house were in full bloom.
Van Cortlandt Park
Don’t miss when exiting the park to stop and see Memorial Grove, a small section of the park dedicated to 21 servicemen who gave their lives in World War. There are twenty-one oak trees that were planted by the graves which are now fully grown. It is a somber but quiet place to reflect on what these men gave for our country.
Memorial Grove Park inside Van Cortlandt Park
Also, take a peek at the statue of General Josiah Porter, a Civil War hero who is memorialized just outside the entrance to Van Cortlandt Mansion. This elegant statue was created by artist William Clarke Nobel in 1902.
General Porter lead the 22nd Regiment of the National Guard of New York during the war (NYCParks.org).
General Josiah Porter in front of the Van Cortlandt Mansion
Once I left the park, I started the walk on the west side of Broadway and the plan was to walk the west side the first day and then the east side the second time so that I could see the buildings along the way and see what restaurants had opened, closed and what looked interesting. Plus where to find public bathrooms along the way. This was the interesting part of the walk was trying to find bathrooms when you needed them.
Since I have visited most of the neighborhoods already from 59th Street up to the tip of Inwood and wrote about historical sites, buildings, gardens and museums that I have visited along the way in other blogs, I won’t be mentioning these in as much detail as you can see them in other entries.
I will refer to the other sites DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com, VisitingaMuseum.com and other entries of MywalkinManhattan.com for more details to read on each neighborhood.
Also to make the walk more enjoyable and include all the wonderful places to visit and see along the way, I will be blending both days experiences into one blog so I can make stopping points that visitors should take time to see. Both walks took just over eight hours and please watch the humidity. There was a big difference doing this walk in 70 degree weather versus 85 degree weather with humidity. I needed more liquids in me and more time to sit down. Still it was great exercise and you will never be bored.
Once I left Van Cortlandt Park, it was walking down through the commercial district of the Bronx along the Broadway corridor which is loaded with chain stores and malls of all sorts. So much for people saying the Bronx is dead. There was so much shopping going on that you never had to leave for the suburbs to find a chain store.
At each subway stop station I did notice clusters of small family run businesses and here you can find some interesting restaurants and pizzerias. There are a lot of family run bakeries as well but none that stood out.
When you reach the edge of Marble Hill (the Northern most part of Manhattan), you will pass the Marble Hill Houses. I had more whistles and yells when I passed the projects on my second trip on the neighborhood. I am not sure what about me screams cop. Even so as I walked in the front walks of the houses I noticed that the residents were growing gardens that were part of the ‘Outer Seed Project’, a program of growing crops on the projects lawns. I thought it will be interesting when everything gets harvested.
It was when you will cross the bridge at 225th Street in the Bronx to the tip of Manhattan in Inwood is where it all starts to change as you enter the northern Columbia University campus and pass the football stadium.
The Columbia University ‘C’ when you exit Marble Hill and go over the bridge to the Island of Manhattan
The interesting part of this part of Inwood is that on tip of Manhattan is nothing at the end of it. Here we have bus stations, garage trucks and delivery vans. This is one of the most commercial parts of Manhattan I have ever seen outside parts of the Garment District. The area has been rezoned so there will be a lot more changes up here in the future. Once you cross the bridge from the Bronx, you feel the difference in the neighborhoods depending on what side of Broadway you are on.
Crossing the bridge means that you have entered Columbia University territory and to the right is Columbia Stadium which is pretty much shut down this time of year. There were some football players in the field but the Ivy League season starts later so it was not that busy. On my second trip down the east side of Broadway, I made two pit stops in Inwood past the stadium that I think tourists and residents alike should see.
The first is Muscato Marsh at 575 West 218th Street (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com)right behind Columbia Stadium that faces the shores of Marble Hill. This interesting marsh is one of the few in the City and one of the only ones in Manhattan that I know of and it is a great place to just sit and relax.
Muscato Marsh at 575 West 218th Street
The Muscato Marsh is right next to the Columbia Boathouse where their rowing team set their boats off and right next to the Columbia Football stadium. On a sunny morning or afternoon it is a nice place to just sit back and watch the boaters and people on jet ski’s zoom by. It is nice to just sit by the flowers and relax.
If you want to walk a little further into Inwood Park, visit the Shorakkopoch Rock the place where it has been said that Peter Minuet had bought the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans. This is where a three hundred year old tulip tree had once stood and legend stated that the event had taken place under a tulip tree in clearing on the island. No one is too sure if this is the right place but to really understand the history of Manhattan. this is the spot where to begin.
Shorakkopoch Rock the site of the purchase of Manhattan Island by Peter Minuet
On the way of exploring Broadway, I followed the path of artwork by artist Nicolas Holiber and his bird sculptures that lined Broadway similar to the art by Joy Brown and Bernadette Myers. So traveling from 165th Street to 59th Street searching for bird artwork.
As I left Inwood Park, I watched as kids participating in Summer camps were playing games and running around. Parts of the park were closed to reseeding so you can see that money was being put into the park and renovations were starting.
As I walked down Broadway the few times I have visited the area since my initial walk in 2015, I have noticed so many businesses open and close which is almost a epidemic all over Manhattan. Broadway for almost the entire length is no different. I had recently read an article about Borough President Gale Brewer walking the length of Broadway in Manhattan and saying that about 200 store fronts were empty. This is not good and is showing what is going on not just in the economy but how the landlords are beginning to gouge small businesses with rent increases. So many small Dominican businesses I have watched close to be replaced by Hipster restaurants who are also not making it with these rent increases.
Still there are many businesses that are thriving along the Broadway corridor and a lot of great restaurants to stop and visit along the way. Even after a big breakfast, I needed to take snack breaks along the way and the restaurants in the Washington Heights area are reasonable and have great travel food.
My first stop after visiting the Muscato Marsh was Twin Donut at 5099 Broadway for a donut and a bathroom break. You will need to know which public bathrooms are good along the way and for the price of a donut is was well worth the visit. Their donuts are around a $1.75 depending on the type but go for one of their jelly or custard filled. They are really good. This is one of the first places I visit during the Cornell/Columbia Football games.
As you are traveling down Broadway, take some time to walk the side streets into the heart of ‘Little Dominica’, Inwood’s Dominican community of stores, restaurants and bakeries. The first stop should be walking down 207th Street to the subway stop on 10th Avenue. While the street is full of all sorts of restaurants, stop at the street vendors for fresh juice and pastilitos, the Dominican version of the empanadas. These usually run about $1.00. There are all sorts of street vendors selling their wares along the sidewalks. On my second trip down I stopped at a vendor for fresh chicken pastilitos and there is nothing like them when they are just out of the fryer.
As I traveled through Inwood, I stopped at the Dyckman Family Farmhouse (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), which is the oldest home on the Island of Manhattan. The Dyckman Farmhouse was built in 1785 and was once part of a 250 acre that stretched to the tip of Inwood. The house now sits on a bluff overlooking Broadway and Washington Heights on about an acre of land. The house is still impressive to walk through and when you have time, take the formal walking tour of the home and hear about the history of how the farm worked and about the Dyckman family.
The Dyckman Family Farmhouse at 4881 Broadway
As you pass the Dyckman House and walk south also take a side trip down Dyckman Avenue to visit more Dominican restaurants, bakeries and stores from Broadway to Nagle Avenue. There are some interesting places to have a snack but again check out the street vendors first especially on the weekends when the weather is nice. More people are out walking around.
When you cross Dyckman Street, Ann Loftus Playground at 4746 Broadway (named after a local community leader) will be to the right and there are nice public bathrooms and water fountains here. There are also benches under shade trees to sit under and on a warm day, their are vendors selling Dominican ices for $1.00. Go for the mango/cherry or the rainbow. On a hot day, they are very refreshing.
Ann Loftus Playground at 4746 Broadway
Ann Loftus Playground is part of the extensive Fort Tyron Park that runs from Riverside Drive to Broadway from Dyckman Street to 190th Street. If you want to take a walk through the park, not only are there beautiful views of the Hudson River along the stone paths but it leads up to The Cloisters Museum at 99 Margaret Corbin Drive which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that features Medieval Art including the ‘Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries.
The Cloisters and Fort Tyron Park
The park also has many colorful flower gardens and paths along the river with amazing views. There is a lot of walking up and down hills in Fort Tyron Park but trust me the views are breathtaking and the paths lead to amazing gardens and lawns. There are also nice public bathrooms to stop at here.
As you leave the park and continue walking down Broadway, you will be in the heart of Washington Heights so on a warm day expect to see people sitting on the benches socializing, playing checkers and dominoes and listening to music. There is a lot of life on these sidewalks.
As you pass Fort Tyron Park, take a peak at the street art work inside the 190th Street Station and take some time to walk the corridor. It is its own museum in constant change and the street taggers do some interesting work.
The subway station at 190th Street
When walking into the streets between 187th and 160th, there are some wonderful Spanish restaurants catering mostly to Dominican families but the menus are extensive and the prices are reasonable. There are a lot of restaurants especially clustered around the George Washington Bridge Depot. Two standouts that I highly recommend are La Dinastia at 4059 Broadway for Dominican Chinese food and 5 Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for pastries, pastilitos and all sorts of hot snacks.
The restaurant row around 181st Street
La Dinastia has a reasonable lunch menu and I recommend having the Chicken Cracklings, a type of batter fried chicken patty with their Special Fried Rice which contains shrimp, sausage, eggs and vegetables (See review on TripAdvisor). A lunch special here can run about $12.00 with a Coke and tip and you will be full for the rest of the afternoon.
La Dinastia Chicken Cracklings and Special Fried Rice
Before you leave this area, check out the former Coliseum Cinema on the corner of Broadway and 181st Street before they tear it down. It was built in 1920 as an old vaudeville theater and famous actors including the Marx Brothers and Harold Lloyd performed there. The building is slated for demolition due to its structure concerns and will be replaced by housing and a retail mall.
The Coliseum Theater at 181st & Broadway has interesting detail work
There is a small park across from the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Mitchell Square, at the corners of Broadway and St. Nichols Avenue at 168th Street, that features the Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. It was dedicated in 1922 for members of the community who fought in WWI. I found it very touching. It features two soldiers assisting another wounded one.
Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Also check out some of the Dominican bakeries in the area. 5 Star Estrella Bakery is near the corner of 161st Street and Broadway. Everything at the bakery is delicious and I have never had one bad thing to eat here (See reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).
Their chicken and beef pastilitos are cooked perfectly and stuff full of filling ($1,50), their doughnuts are light and slathered in thick icing ($1.00) and their cinnamon buns ($2.00) are the best. They are light, chewy and sugary. Another item that stands out is a type of potato croquette that is filled with meat ($1.50). If they are available, grab one. Totally delicious!
5 Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway
As you reach the small pocket park at 157th Street, you will come across the first piece of Broadway Art by artist Nicolas Holiber for his “Birds on Broadway” Audubon Sculpture Project exhibit which is a partnership he has with Broadway Mall Association, NYC Parks, NYC Audubon and the Gitler Gallery. These interesting sculptures bring attention to birds species that are endangered by climate change. These birds are either native to New York or do a fly by when in season. They are made of 100% reclaimed or recycled wood (Nicolas Holiber website).
The Wood Duck by artist Nicolas Holiber
The first sculpture on the walk that I saw was the Wood Duck. It was an interesting piece that unfortunately was being walked on by a couple of kids that did not seem to know the significance of the work. These rustic pieces really do stand out though and I like the write ups with each one which gives a short story on each bird.
As you pass the sculpture and continue south to the right is the Audubon Terrace at 155th Street and Broadway, which is home to Boricua College, the Hispanic Society of America Museum (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which is currently closed for renovation and the American Academy of Arts & Letters (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which just recently closed and is only open twice a year to exhibitions. Both museums are only open at select times of the year so you have to visit their websites for more information.
The American Academy of Arts & Letters at 633 West 155th Street
The college abuts the Trinity Church Cemetery that holds the graves of many prominent New Yorkers including John Jacob Astor IV and Mayor Ed Koch. It is interesting to walk along the paths of the cemetery during the day and look at the historic tombstones. When visiting the grave of Mayor Koch, be prepared to find lots of stones along the gravesite as a sign of respect for the dead.
Ed Koch grave site
As you pass the borders of 155th Street into Harlem there is a distinct change in the street life. It is a lot quieter when you reach the borders of Washington Heights and Harlem. There are less people on the sidewalks here. In Washington Heights, there is music on the side walks, families playing games and men debating issues. It is a lot quieter I noticed when you cross the 155th Street border between the neighborhoods.
There is also a difference in the types of restaurants and shopping as slowly CUNY is starting to spread its wings and more businesses catering to students and faculty are opening in this area.
The next stop was to see Nicolas Holiber’s Snowy Owl at 148th Street. This was one of the more whimsical pieces in the exhibit and was unique with its outlaying wings.
The Snowy Owl by artist Nicolas Holiber at 148th Street
My next stop for a snack was at Olga’s Pizza at 3409 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor). Olga’s I had just stumbled across as I had a craving for a slice and the pizza is delicious. The secret to a good pizza is a fresh tasting and well spiced sauce and Olga’s hits both marks on this. It is a little pricey at $2.50 a slice but she is catering to the CUNY students who venture from campus to the restaurants on Broadway for meals. I got to meet Olga herself in the pizzeria who was working alongside of her parents and she seemed please that I liked her pizza so much.
To the right of Olga’s just down the block is Montefiore Park, which is always a nice place to take a break and sit down to rest under the trees. It is a real mixture of neighborhood families, college students and teenagers who are eating at the local McDonalds or one of the food trucks that line the park in the warmer months. Just north of the park at 139th Street is the third sculpture in the Nicolas Holiber exhibit, the Hooded Merganser.
The Hooded Merganser by artist Nicolas Holiber at 136th Street
One surprising thing I found at the corner of Broadway and 135th Street was a Pediatric office that housed in the front of it the Martinez Gallery at 3332 Broadway. The gallery features in the front waiting room an array of street art. This was interesting for a doctor’s office.
The Martinez Gallery at 3332 Broadway
The inside artwork at the Martinez Gallery. Very unassuming doctor’s office
Once you pass 135th Street, you enter the new extension of the Columbia University campus and because of the growth of the campus to this section of Harlem especially around the 125th Street corridor, it is changing fast. I have never seen so many new restaurants and shops going up right across the street from the Manhattanville Housing Projects. It is becoming a real extreme in this part of the neighborhood.
Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus that stretches from 125th to 130th Streets
Once you cross 125th Street on this part of Broadway, you enter Morningside Heights and the home of Columbia University. This part of 125th Street and Broadway has really changed since I started the walk of the island. There is a more established ‘Restaurant Row” that stretches from 125th Street to 122nd Street on Broadway that contains such restaurants as LaSalle Dumplings at 3141 Broadway and Bettolona at 3143 Broadway that I have tried in previous entries on this blog and check them out on my blog on Morningside Park. They are both excellent and I highly recommend them.
As soon I arrived on the Columbia University campus at 125th Street the mood of Broadway changed again from the streets of Harlem to a collegiate atmosphere. Don’t miss a break at the Columbia University commons around 116th Street. It is a lot of fun when school is in session and even during these quiet times of the summer, there still is a lot of energy here. It is a nice place to gather your thoughts and relax.
What is also nice is all the food trucks outside the commons that cater to the Asian students. You can get fresh dumplings, pork pancakes, noodle dishes and fresh soups for very reasonable prices and you can relax in the commons on a nice day and enjoy your lunch.
Right next to the campus on East 117th street is the third in Nicolas Holiber’s sculptures, the Common Golden Eye. This is one of the nicer locations for the work as there is plenty of seating in much less congested area of Broadway. You can sit back and just admire the work.
The Common Goldeneye by artist Nicolas Holiber at 117th Street
After taking a break in the commons and watching the summer students reading and chatting amongst themselves or so involved in their cell phones that they would not look up at a zombie attack, I headed back to Broadway to cross into the Upper West Side. It is amazing how everything between 125th and 110th have changed over the past few months and even from 110th to 100th Streets the changes have been constant in a twenty year period.
When you need to take a break from the heat, Straus Park which is between 107th and 106th Streets. This shady and well landscaped little pocket park was name after Isidor and Ida Straus who were once the owners of Macy’s and died in the Titanic sinking. There is a beautiful memorial to them in the park. Friends of the Park maintain it with the city so it is always beautifully planted.
Straus Park at 107th Street
Look close or you will miss it is the ‘Art for Art Sake’ dedication to Duke Ellington on the Broadway Island on West 106th Street. The work is done in tiles and you have to look down to see the work as it on the bottom park of the cement island facing the bench. I guess most people miss this interesting piece of street art.
One of my favorite bakeries in Manhattan is located right near the park at West 105th Street and Broadway, Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor ande DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I love coming here for all the creative pastries and buns that the bakery created and I have the most delicious blueberry danish ($3.50) and cinnamon bun ($3.25) for a snack. Don’t be shy in this bakery and try several items. Everything I have ever ate there was wonderful.
Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway
When I got to 103rd Street, I saw the next part of the Birds on Broadway exhibit with the Double Crested Cormorant that stood proud on the Broadway island looking over the neighborhood.
The Double crested Cormorant by artist Nicolas Holiber at 103rd Street
Another little pizzeria that you might miss is Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food is really reasonable and their personal pizza ($5.00) and pizza special (Two slices and a Coke for $5.00) are a real steal and their sauce is delicious and so well spiced.
Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway
When you finally cross over past West 100th Street, you enter the Upper West Side which has been extensively traveled on this blog. There are dozens of shops and restaurants that line Broadway on this stretch of Broadway and sadly a lot of empty store fronts. This seems to be an epidemic all over the City with landlords jacking up rents every month. It really is changing this stretch of Broadway. At West 96th Street and Broadway is the next “Birds on Broadway” piece, the “Brant Goose”.
The Brant Goose at West 96th Street
When walking on Broadway in the West 80’s, don’t miss walking through Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway near 80th Street. It is fun to wander around the store and smell the aromas of cheese, olives, freshly baked breads and chocolate. Don’t miss their cafe at the corner of West 80th Street (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). There is a nice assortment of pastries and soups at a reasonable price and on certain days they have specials that are reasonably price. They have the most delicious pastries and pan pizza.
Zabar’s Cafe is the original place where Zabar’s started at 2245 Broadway
You will also see the next sculpture by Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street, the “American Brittern”, which stands majestically on Broadway.
“The American Brittern” by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street
Still when you reach the West 70’s there are many beautiful apartment buildings that I admired that were built at the turn of the last century when builders were trying to woo the wealthy in the late 1890’s to the early 1900’s. The area itself is going through building boom and is changing all the time. At West 79th Street, look to the Broadway island again to see Nicolas Holiber’s “Scarlett Tanager” sculpture. These playful little birds are fun to look at.
The Scarlet Tanager by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 86th Street
Broadway has a series of churches that are really beautiful in design and in the details like the stone work and the stained glass windows. One church that stands out is the First Baptist Church 265 West 79th Street. It was built between 1890-93 and was designed by architect George M. Keister. The large window facing Broadway depicts Christ as the center of the New Testament Church (Wiki).
First Baptist Church on West 79th Street
Some of the apartment buildings are quite spectacular. The Apthorp Apartments at 390 West End Avenue (that stretches back to Broadway) is one of the most beautiful enclosed buildings with an elegant courtyard in the center. This building was built in 1908 and is the largest type of apartment of its kind in New York City. If you can take a peek inside the gates it is worth it.
The Apthorp Apartments at 390 West End Avenue
The Ansonia Apartments at 2109 Broadway is one of the biggest and grandest of the Victorian age apartment buildings on the Upper West Side. Built between 1899 and 1904 the outside of the building is studded with beautiful stone work, interesting torrents and a Mansard roof. Take time to walk around the building and admire the stonework.
The Ansonia Apartments at 2109 Broadway
Another building that stands out in the neighborhood is the Doriltan Apartments at 171 West 71st Street that was built in 1902. This elegant building is in the Beaux-Arts style and is another building that sets the tone for this part of the neighborhood.
The Doriltan Apartments at 171 West 71st Street
This is where the Upper West Side has changed so much. This area has become so expensive and the once notorious “Needle Park” Sherman Square is now a nicely landscaped park with a coffee vendor and young mothers with strollers. It is amazing how the City just keeps changing itself.
Sherman Square; the once “Needle Park”
Right by the subway stop at West 72nd Street is the next sculpture the “Peregrine Falcon”.
“The Peregrine Falcon” at West 72nd Street
Once you pass the borders of West 72nd Street, you will begin to see the magic of former Parks Director and major City Planner, Robert Moses. In the mid-1960’s, the City decided the area was dilapidated and pretty much leveled the neighborhood to build the Lincoln Center complex and branches of the local colleges so you will see more modern architecture on the western side of Broadway.
By the time you get to West 67th Street, you will see Julliard School, some of the buildings in the Lincoln Center complex and then Lincoln Center itself between West 65th and West 62nd Streets. On a theater night, the complex is so full energy and it is always a nice trip to see the ballet, opera or the philharmonic. The groundbreaking for this complex was in 1959 with President Eisenhower present and the complex was developed between 1962 and 1966 with current renovations still occurring in 2005. Take time to walk the courtyard and admire the fountains and the artwork that are around the buildings.
Lincoln Center at night
While passing Lincoln Center, you will see Dante Park across the street and the stately Empire Hotel. Here in Dante Park which is named after the Italian Poet, Dante Alighieri. This beautiful little pocket park sits across from Lincoln Center and has been a place to relax on my walks down Broadway. This is also the location of the last sculpture on the “Birds on Broadway” tour, the “Red Necked Grebe with Chicks”. This whimsical piece shows the mother grebe with her little ones on her back.
The Red Necked Grebe with Chicks by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 64th Street
As you head down Broadway, you will reach the Time Warner Building with its upscale shops and restaurants and Columbus Circle with its impressive statue of Christopher Columbus and the soaring fountains that surround it. This is one of the best places in Manhattan to just sit back and relax and people watch. The statue was recently part of a controversy on statues of specific people and history and happily that seems to have gone away for now.
Columbus Circle at West 59th Street
As you pass Columbus Circle and enter into Midtown Manhattan, notice to the south the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle. This innovative little museum has the top floors of the building has a interesting exhibition of “Punk Rock” art and music going on right now. (See my write up on it on VisitingaMuseum.com.)
Museum of Arts & Design at 2 Columbus Circle
Punk Rock Exhibition
The crowds get larger the closer you come to the 42nd Street Mall. This part of Broadway near the TKTS for Broadway shows becomes crowded as these four blocks of Times Square is now an open air mall with seating and loads of costume characters who beg for pictures and money with tourists. It has gotten really crowded and annoying and the quicker you get through it the better. This is where the Ball drops on New Year’s Eve and you can see it up above the One Times Square building. Still get through Times Square, especially on a Saturday or Sunday as quick as possible.
Times Square by the TKTS booth and the Marriott Marquis to the right
The one thing that is important to know is that the bathrooms at the Marriott Marquis at 1535 Broadway are free and it is a good pit stop before heading further downtown. They are located on the Eighth floor and are clean and very nice. They also have some good restaurants in the hotel like the Broadway Bar (See review on TripAdvisor) to eat at but wait until you head further downtown.
As you head down past Times Square you will notice that not much has changed on this part of Broadway. Most of the buildings are pre-war and been around since the 30’s and 40’s. Here and there new buildings have creeped in. Stop in the lobby at 1441 Broadway, the Bricken Textile Building that was built in 1930 to see the “Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development” art exhibition. It is quite creative. The whole lobby was full of modern art. There was a very interesting piece by artist Daniel Rozin who created a ‘Software Mirror’ where when you looked into it, it then looked back at you.
Artist Daniel Rozin demonstrating how the piece works
After wondering through the art show, I stopped in Frankie Boys Pizza at 1367 Broadway for a slice and a Coke and just relaxed. I was starved by this point of the walk. Their pizza is very good (See review on TripAdvisor) and was crowded that afternoon with people having an late lunch.
After I finished my lunch, I continued the walk to Herald Square the home of Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street, whose store still dominates the area and is one of the last decent department stores in New York City. It is fun to take a quick pit stop in the store to see the main lobby and there is another public bathroom both on the lower level and on the Fourth Floor.
Macy’s Broadway entrance
Once you leave Herald Square and walk south you will be entering what is left of the old Wholesale district where once buyers used to come into these stores to commercially buy goods for their businesses. Slowly all of these businesses as well as most of the Flower District is being gentrified out with new hotels, restaurants and bars replacing the businesses. It seems that most of the district is being rebuilt or renovated.
I got down to Worth Square by Madison Square Park in the early evening and admired the William Jenkins Worth monument. General Worth was a military hero during the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. The monument was designed by James Goodwin Batterson and when General Worth died in 1849, his remains were buried under the monument.
It was interesting to read that at the percussion for his funeral that 6500 military men were at the ceremony (Wiki).
The General William Jenkins Worth Monument
As you look down further on the square, you will see the Flatiron Building one of the most famous and most photographed buildings in New York City. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham as a Renaissance Palazzo with Beaux-Arts styling . The original name for the building was the “Fuller Building” for the Company. The name “Flatiron” comes from a cast iron clothes iron from the turn of the last century. (Wiki)
The ‘Flatiron’ Building at 175 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street
As you pass the Flatiron Building and continue the walk south between 23rd and 14th Streets, take a look up to admire the buildings that once help make up the “Ladies Mile”, once the most fashionable shopping neighborhood after the Civil War (See my blog in MywalkinManhattan.com “Walking the Ladies Shopping Mile”).
One of the most elegant buildings on this part of Broadway is the former “Lord & Taylor” building at 901 Broadway. The building was constructed for the department store in 1870 and was the main store until 1914. It is now the Brooks Brothers Red Fleece store. Really take time to look at the detail work of the store and step inside. The Mansard Roof is an amazing touch.
901 Broadway “Lord & Taylor” building from 1870-1914
Finally reaching Union Square at Broadway and 14th Street, I was able to relax on a bench under a shade tree. I stopped at the Farmers Market, that is there every Wednesday and Saturday, and pick up some fruit and a couple of cookies from one of the stands. This is a lot of fun in the warmer months and don’t miss it September and October when the produce really comes in.
Busy Union Square
As you leave Union Square and head south again, you will be entering the campus of New York University and all over you can see classrooms, stores and restaurants that cater to the students. Sometimes I think these kids are trying so hard to look cool it becomes outlandish. The way some of them dress is over the top.
At the bend on Broadway, another church stands out in the neighborhood. Grace Episcopal Church at 802 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and East 10th Street sits at a bend in Broadway and makes an impressive statement in the neighborhood. The church was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. in the French Gothic Revival style and started construction in 1843 (Wiki).
Grace Church at 802 Broadway
Walking south, stop in front of both 770 Broadway between 8th and 9th Street, the former home of John Wanamaker Department Store and 693 Broadway at 4th Street, the Merchants Building. These two buildings stand out for their beauty and design.
770 Broadway was built between 1903 and 1907 by architect Daniel Burham as the annex for the main store of Wanamaker’s which was next door. There was a skyway that once connected the two stores. The company closed for business in 1954. (Wiki)
770 Broadway, the former Wanamaker’s Department Store Annex
Stop at 693 Broadway to admire the design of the building. Built in 1908 by architect William C. Frohne the building is studded with interesting stone carvings and ornamentation. What really stands out is all the owls that decorate the building (Greenwich Village Preservation).
693 Broadway The Merchants Building
The owls that line 693 Broadway
Looking up at the scaffolding of 611 Broadway, The Cable Building, it is not hard to miss the detail work of this graceful building. The stone work like a lot of the buildings on lower Broadway has beautiful detailed stonework adorning it. The building was designed by architect Stanford White of McKim, Meed & White and was designed in the Beau-Arts design of “American Renaissance”. The building was once home to the Metropolitan Traction Company, one of New York’s big Cable Car companies. In the last twenty years it has been home to the Angelika Film Company and Crate & Barrel home store. (Wiki)
Above all the scaffolding, look at the stone detail work of 611 Broadway
Take some time to admire 366 Broadway, a former Textiles Building built in 1909. Designed by Fredrick C. Browne, the building was designed in Edwardian commercial architecture and look at the detail work of the pillars, stone carved faces and other decorative stonework. The building once housed the Royal Typewriter Company then moved on in its later life to house textile firms including Bernard Semel Inc. (where the signage comes from on the outside), who was a former clothing jobber. Now called The Collect Pond House is a coop in Tribeca neighborhood (Tribeca History News)
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway is one of the most famous buildings on Broadway. The former headquarters for F. W. Woolworth & Company was once the tallest building in the world when it was constructed in 1913 and stayed the tallest building until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was finished on Lexington Avenue in 1930. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in the neo-Gothic style and was a representation of the time as a “Cathedral for Commerce”. The lower floors are clad in limestone and the upper floors in glazed terra-cotta panels (Wiki). The lobby is one of the most detailed and ornate in New York but ask security first if you can walk around.
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway
Across the street from the Woolworth Building is the very popular City Hall Park home to the to the 1803 built City Hall (Tweed Hall) and the seat of government for the City of New York. The park has always been used as some form of political function since the beginning in the Colonial days as a rebel outpost to its current function. It has had a prison, public execution site and parade ground on the site. Since the renovation in 1999 under then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the park has been a place for people downtown to gather and relax by its fountain and beside the beautifully designed gardens. There are about a dozen statues in the park to admire so take time to enjoy a walk in the park (NYCParks.org).
The City Hall Park
Another historic church that played a big role in the recovery of the World Trade Center events of 9/11 is the St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church at 209 Broadway. The Church was built in 1766 and is the oldest surviving church in Manhattan and is designed in the late Georgian church architecture by architect Thomas Mc Bean and crafted by Andrew Gautier (Wiki).
St. Paul’s Church at 209 Broadway
George Washington worshipped here on his Inauguration day in 1789 and continued to worship here when New York City was the capital of the country. The church had been spared by a sycamore tree on the property that absorbed the debris from the World Trade Center site and became a place of recovery and reflection in the aftermath of the events on 9/11 (Wiki).
Another building to admire is 108 Broadway at Leonard Street. This beautiful Italian Renaissance Revival building was designed by McKim Mead & White and has been refitted for apartments.
108 Broadway at Leonard Street
Upon reaching Zuccotti Park which is right near the World Trade Center sight and the home of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that traveled around the world after the 2008 meltdown of the New York Stock Market. The movement and occupation of the park which is private property, began in September of 2011. The park which is owned by Brookfield Office Properties was named after the Chairman of the company, John Zuccotti in 2011. (Wiki)
Zuccotti Park at twilight at Broadway and Cedar Streets
Zuccotti Park during its days of “Occupy Wall Street”
Take time to admire “Joie de Vivre” by artist Marco Polo ‘Marc’ di Suvero, and Italian now American artist.
This interesting sculpture was installed in the park in 2006 and features “four open-ended tetrahedrons”. (Wiki)
“Joie de Vivre” by artist Marc di Suvero
As you pass Zuccotti Park and head down the last stretch of Broadway look around at the buildings on both sides of Broadway as they have not changed much since the early 1900’s.
The last historic church I have visited and have walked past many times when in the neighborhood is Trinity Church, an Episcopal church at 75 Broadway. The first church on the site was built in 1698 and burned during the Revolutionary War during the Great Fire of 1776 when a two thirds of the City burned after a fire started in tavern and left most of New Yorkers homeless (Wiki).
Trinity Church at 75 Broadway
The current church was built in 1839 and finished in 1846 and was built in the Gothic Revival design by architect Richard Upjohn. It was the tallest building in the United States until 1869. The church has played important roles in recent history as a place of refuge and prayer during the attacks on 9/11. It also was part of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2012 as a place of refuge and support to the protestors (Wiki and Church History).
One of the most elegant buildings in lower Manhattan is the Cunard Building, the former home of the Cunard Shipping line. The building was designed by architect Benjamin Wistar Morris and opened in 1921. The company sold the building in 1971 and has different tenants now.
The Cunard Building at 25 Broadway
I finally got to my designation of Bowling Green Park on the first trip down Broadway at 5:45pm (starting time again 9:00am) just in time to see all the tourist lined up by The Bull statue (see my review on VisitingaMuseum.com). The statue was designed by artist Arturo de Modica and was installed as ‘renegade art’ meaning he did not have permission from the City to place it there. It has been a big tourist attraction since its installation and I could not see a reason for the City to move it from its location. At 7,100 pounds they can move it too far.
The Charging Bull at Bowling Green Park by artist Arturo de Modica
I reached the end of Broadway at 5:45pm and relaxed in Bowling Green Park (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com) for about a half hour. It was so nice to just sit there watching the fountain spray water and watching the birds as they pecked around.
Bowling Green has a rich history as a park. It was designed in 1733 and is the oldest park in New York City. It was here that the first reading of the Declaration of Independence was read and then the toppling of the Statue of King George III in defiance. You can still see where the citizens at the time cut off the small crowns on the fencing that surrounds the park. This is another place that was rumored to be the site of where the Dutch bought Manhattan. The park is the official start of Broadway.
Bowling Green Park at the height of its beauty
I walked from the Bowling Green Park and sat by the harbor in Battery Green Park and watched the ships go by. It is a nice place to relax and watch the sun set and the lights go on in all the buildings in lower Manhattan and watch the Statue of Liberty illuminate. It is quite a site. Look at the lights of Jersey City and Governors Island.
For dinner that night, I walked from the Battery into Chinatown and went to Chi Dumpling House (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at 77 Chrystie Street in Chinatown. They have the most amazing menu that is so reasonable. Ten steamed dumplings for $3.00 and a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup for $1.50.
Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street
For dessert that evening I came across Gooey on the Inside at 163 Chrystie Street (See review on TripAdvisor) for the most soft and gooey homemade cookies. I saw a bunch of people smiling as they left this basement business raving about the cookies and I had to investigate. I have to admit that they are pricey ($5.00 and higher) but the cookies are amazing. The Chocolate Chunk was loaded with large pieces of chocolate and the Birthday Cake is filled with icing and is soft and chewy. The best way to end the evening.
Gooey on the Inside Birthday Cake Cookies at 163 Chrystie Street
On my second day of walking down Broadway, I stopped at Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for dinner. I had arrived later in the evening and did not realize they closed at 8:00pm. The food which is normally excellent, had been sitting for awhile and was not that good. I had a Chicken Parmesan and spaghetti special that was dried out. Not their best work.
Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street
After dinner, I returned to Battery Park to admire the lights on Governor’s Island and the illuminated Statue of Liberty. There is nothing like this site in the world and only off the. Island of Manhattan can you see it this way.
The Broadway Mall Art Exhibition:
The Birds of Broadway by artist Nicolas Holiber:
Artist Nicolas Holiber in front of his sculptures for the “Birds on Broadway” show
Every year the Fancy Food Industry holds one of the most innovative events in New York City, the Annual Fancy Food Show at the Javis Center every June. This amazing show shows the industry the newest and latest products that are coming onto the market, old favorites that get new packaging or new flavors, the latest in food trends, cooking classes that introduce a product in a whole new way and products from abroad that are looking for distribution in the States. I found the most interesting products at the show and it was nice to see some of the old standbys that I have been sampling since my first show back in 2004.
I have learned over the years that this is NOT the place to over eat and is not lunch. It can be extremely over-whelming if you sample everything in the first row and then realize that you have about 100 more rows to visit. Don’t overdo it on the cheese and chocolate the first day of the show or you will feel it by 5:00pm. I have learned to pace myself and take notes about what I saw. I also like to see what the products are in the foreign pavilions because they have the most interesting packaging and the representatives are usually bored.
I have also learned that you will get pushed out of the way for a vendor to talk to a Whole Foods buyer even if you are having a nice conversation about their product. Business is business and many of these people are looking for someone to distribute a product that probably is already represented in the food market in the States by a dozen other vendors. It took two days of walking, sampling and talking but there were many standouts at the show that I would like to share with everyone.
I got to the show on Sunday by 10:00am and the Javis Center was just starting to get crowded so people were more willing to talk. Some representatives and sales people looked so bored that no one went to visit them if their product looked interesting I would walk over and talk to them. I had some really nice conversations at the show and learned a lot of the new developments in the fancy food industry.
My first day at the show I covered most of the first level where it seemed that the most popular vendors were placed and got the most traffic. It is also where most of the County Pavilions were placed so I got a chance to visit them with some peace and quiet. Most of the visitors and buyers ran through the foreign pavilions but I had fun checking out all the new products and talking to all their salespeople.
Most of the foreign pavilions were manned by one or two people and it looked to me that unless they already had connections in this country many were sitting at their booths checking their computers or emails. This went on with pretty much all the foreign pavilions with the exception of the Canadian where everyone was out sampling their products and stopping passers by. It is tough for a lot of these manufacturers as they are looking for distribution.
My first stop was at the Japanese Pavilion where I stopped at various booths to look at the packaging of products and sample items that I had not seen before. A few unique things popped out at me.
The Meiji America Inc. featured a whole line of desserts and snacks including a product call Chocorooms which are butter cookie in the shape of mushroom covered with chocolate where the top of the mushroom would be. They also carried a crunchy chocolate snack called ‘Hello Panda’ which is a crisp butter cookie filled with chocolate with a playful panda printed on the top of it. Perfect for those little kids that like something catered to them.
The Ginbis Company of Japan was showing a line of snacks that I thought was quite interesting. One product that was delicious the Shimi Choco Corn which was star shaped corn snacks in both vanilla and chocolate. Another was rather odd but really worked was the Black Sesame Biscuits which were mini asparagus shaped snacks that were studded with sesame seeds.
Another product that I think will be popular is their Dream Animal cookies which are a Japanese version of animal crackers. These delightful little butter flavored biscuits are in the shape of animals with the names of the animals printed on the cookies in English. Very cleaver for the child who is learning their ABC’s. Their snacks were sweet and savory.
Ginbis Animal Crackers
The EIWA America Inc. headquartered in Japan has the license for Sanrio Company’s Hello Kitty line of marshmellows including one that was filled with chocolate which are called smores mellows. They also come flavored in strawberry, mango, pineapple and matcha.
In the South Korea Pavilion, there were a couple of standouts that were featured. Plado Company featured a children’s drink that I thought was nicely packaged but a little on the sweet side. It was a strawberry juice fruit drink for kids called Poro Aazz that featured a cartoon duck on the outside. The bottle was playful and I could see children loving it. The flavors come in milky, apple, tropical, green grape and mango. They also have a line of seaweed snacks and noodle cup soups.
These unique drinks will be popular with little children
A product that stood out at the South Korean Pavilion was by Bibigo with their Gochujang Hot Sauce that had many layers of spiciness. This sauce really lasts with you.
The Pureplus Company featured a line of kids yogurt/coco drinks that had many Japanese cartoon characters on the outside. These types of drinks were really on the sweet side catering to a child with a developing taste bud. These drinks were also quite rich.
The next Asian Pavilion I visited was the Thailand Pavilion and they had more food lines to cater to all age groups. The Sun Yang Food Company were showing several food items that I thought were interesting. They created a line called Ten Jang which are a line of seasoned fish snacks that I am not sure would appeal to a mass audience but the snacks in barbecue and chili would find their way to kids who like a spicy snack, They also offer the line in Chicken and Squid. Their line of rice crackers called “Mochi Max” has some interesting flavors such as pizza, satay and wasabi.
The Srinanaporn Marketing Public Company Limited also offered a few noteworthy beverage lines that I thought might appeal to the child who has a sweet tooth. They had a refreshing line of drinks named ‘Uzu’, which is a white grape juice drink flavored with strawberry, Lychee and Orange. The lychee was thirst quenching and just the right amount of sweetness.
Leaving the Asian booths I walked next to the Egyptian Pavilion to see what food products they were showing at the show. One standout was the Shanawany Group’s line called ‘Delta Sweets” which carried an assortment of candies and crackers. One of the standouts was the Caramel bites, another being a mildly sweet line of Strawberry Wafers and a delicious Chocolate Wafer line called “Chocolatoo”.
Another vendor that stood out amongst the rest was the Elvan Company who carried a line of snack cakes. They offered an interesting sponge cake line that almost looked like a ‘Twinkie’ but not as sweet. The line called ‘CakeTime’ came in both a chocolate and vanilla flavor and had a very nice taste to them. The ‘CakeTime’ Donut line looked really good as well but unfortunately they did not have the samples with them. Their snack cakes were just a step below in sweetness than a traditional Hostess snack cake.
When touring the United Kingdom Pavilion I came across an interesting product in the Great Britain booths by Flower & White Ltd. They have a line of Meringue Bars in various flavors that were light and crunchy and at 96 calories were a decadent little treat. I was able to sample the flavors in Lemon and Raspberry and they were sweet and melted in your mouth. Perfect for that afternoon coffee or tea break.
In the Pavilion for the Country of Greece, there was a lot of olive, nuts and oil companies to choose from. One that carried a line of interesting sweet and savory pastries was from the Ioniki Sfoliata S.A. company in Athens. Their line of cheese and spinach pies, sweet and savory croissants and meat Peinirli (a type of Italian meat pastry) were standouts at the booth. Each was generous filled with cheese and meats and when warmed up had a delicious buttery taste to the dough and the fillings were well spiced.
The Canadian Pavilion offered many choices in maple syrup products and there were a few standouts beside just maple syrup. Jakeman’s Maple Products that was founded in 1876 in Ontario produces an interesting group of products that are flavorful and make good use of their maple syrup background. Their standard maple syrup selections are wonderful but their use of the product in their maple chocolates, maple popcorn (a spin on caramel corn) and their Maple Cream Cookies were just amazing. Their Maple Cream Cookies are extremely addictive and just crunching on them at the show you can easily eat a whole bag at one sitting. They are sweet but not in the sweetness you would in a sugar product.
Another sugary product that stood out was the Double Dutch cookie by Schep’s Bakery Ltd. out of Norwich, Ontario called a Stroopwafels. These sweet little waffle cakes are two light waffle like cookies filled with caramel and are Holland’s favorite cookie. These rich little cookies taste like a portable breakfast and are perfect with coffee.
The French Pavilion always bring such elegant and high quality products. I always love their packaging and I love the way the French do business. Everyone is so nicely dressed and mannered and not one is pushy about selling you something. There is so much pride in the quality in their food products that it shows when they describe and sample them. United Biscuits of France has the lightest and buttery cookies with a happy face where the chocolate filling smiles at you.
The French quality in their jellies show too and not just in the traditional Bon Mama. One of the representatives from La Fruitiere Jams and Toppings let me sample a few of their jellies which are some of the best I ever tasted. You could really taste the fresh fruit in every bite. There were chunks of strawberry and cherry in each bite of the samples.
The was one candy that stood above the others from the Spanish Pavilion was Wonkandy marshmellows in bright colors. These colorful treats were sweet marshmellows covered with colorful sugar topping. These little confections come in a rainbow of colors in a large plastic container.
Leaving the foreign pavilions behind, I started to concentrate on the domestic vendors and found amongst all the cheese, chocolate and popcorn vendors many interesting standouts that I could see becoming popular on the wide market.
One vendor that was garnering long lines was the Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company who was featured in the State of Maine section of the show. Their lobster products were not only fresh tasting like the lobster had just been caught but decadently rich, creamy and buttery. They sampled their ‘Lobster Grilled Cheese’ appetizers which were so decadent and delicious I had to keep returning to their booth to try them again. I had had a taste of the their Lobster Bisque at a different show a few years earlier and that was also rich and silky to taste. Their products were top quality when serving lobster.
These Lobster Grilled Cheese were one of the best products at the show
Another rich tasting standout in the State of Florida section of the show was their ‘Stuffed Garlic Bread’ that is stuffed with cheese, garlic and spices. The flavors are in Original with garlic and cheese and the mild spice variety with a garlic, pepper and cheese filling. When baked it is almost like an open face Stromboli. The combination of garlic and cheese with the soft caramelized bread you could eat on its own with just a little sauce.
There were a few standouts in the Asian-American market as well. The Green Spirit Food Inc. offered a line of vegan food products where you would not have known it wasn’t chicken. Their Vegan Chicken Cake and their Veggie Corn Koroke Cakes were the highlight of their food lines at the show. The chicken variety tasted so much like chicken that I was fooled by it. The corn cakes were filled with buttery corn kernels and fried to golden crisp with a light breading. Both were well spiced and would be perfect at any dinner party.
In the State of Hawaiian section of the show the Noh Foods of Hawaii had a line of ‘Hawaiian Ice Teas’ that I enjoyed very much. Their ice tea line was light, refreshing and the best part was made with Hawaiian cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup. It was light and sweet and chilled could be drunk right out of the can. They also had an interesting line of spices and rubs.
Another beverage that stood out at the show was manufactured in Minnesota by Maud Borup Inc. It was a line of Fizzy Drink Bombs which are a fruit flavored ball in blueberry and cherry that you drop into a glass of water and watch it fizz. These lively treats are perfect for a child’s birthday party where the children could make the drinks themselves and watch the water pop, fizzle and show the edible glitter.
In the Candy area there were so many choices that I was on sugar high for most of the show. The one standout that I love and it has been mentioned in a few of my food blogs is the Butterfield Candies founded in 1924. The Butterfield Fruit Hard Candies are delicious and you can taste the infused flavors of the fruits. My favorites have been their peach and cherry flavors that I have tasted at the show. Just crunching on them is a real treat.
Back in the State of New York section of the show, one delicious standout was Bantam Bagels which had started out as a small shop on Bleecher Street down in the Village in Manhattan. The couple had been making their stuffed bagels in their kitchen and they were so popular with their friends that they opened a shop and the rest was history. The best part of their bagel bites is that they are already stuffed with cream cheese so you don’t need it on top.
Bantam Bagels are delicious
At the show they were featuring their Classic with just cream cheese and the Onion which had a nice pronounced flavor to it. No wonder the line was so popular that the line was long. Also the people working there were really nice and let you taste a few of them.
Another standout product was from DuFour Pastry Kitchens out of the Bronx were their Smoked Cheddar and Bacon Cocktail Straws (a type of pastry cheese stick) that had a nice smoky savory taste that were light and crispy and had a bite of a mixture of cheeses. Another great cheese snack that I tried are an oven baked cheese bite by Granarolo. The crisp is made with Italian milk and grated cheese and then it is baked. It has a rich sharp taste to it.
Haldiram’s, a company that specializes in Indian food had a interesting and spicy line of naan bread, stews and delicious samosa’s and shami kebabs which are a type of patty. All the foods that we were able to sample were full of spices and hot dipping sauces. Everything was delicious.
There were many wonderful desserts that were featured at the show and too many to mention but there many that I enjoyed eating. The Well Luck Company Inc. sampled a line of Mille Crepe Cakes in flavors Strawberry and Mango which were layers of French pastry and ice cream and were sweet and creamy in each bite.
Dewey’s Bakery out of North Carolina offers a delicious line of Doughnut cookies which I thought were unique. These soft batch cookies were a cross between a doughnut and cookie that came in Old Fashioned Glazed, Cinnamon Bun and Apple Fritter that were soft and rich with every bite.
Don’t miss these soft rich cookies especially the glazed
Another line of delicious cookies were from Goodie Girl out of Ridgefield, New Jersey which were packaged and almost looked like Girl Scout Cookies. Their Double Chocolate Chip and Birthday Cake cookies were wonderful and they let me take samples home.
Two snack foods that were a real treat were the Sweet Lemon Sweet Crisps by the 34 Degrees Company. These light and sweet crisps will melt in your mouth. These can be paired with a entree or a dessert or just served with coffee or tea.
The one standout popcorn of the many popcorn merchants was by Fisher’s Popcorn of Delaware Inc.. They made a Maple Popcorn with Old Bay Seasoning. It was a delicious twist to a sweet and savory snack.
Of all the computer software companies that I talked with in those two days, one innovative company that grabbed my attention was I-Whiz. This company works with smaller vendors, restaurants and suppliers and farmers to match up products to sell and buy. The software is rather cutting edge for the restaurant industry.
On my trip day excursion in the world of food, these companies were just a small samples of the people I met. I mentioned more in my blog in July of 2015 and went into more detail of the American companies.
The New York Fancy Food Show is an eye opener in the food and snack industry. Walking the several miles of the show is a glimpse of what we will see on shelves all over the country and all over the world. The products that I pointed out were the ones I thought were different from the rest. I look forward to the long walk of the show next year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
This is the Monkey House
The Reptile House
The Lion House
The Elephant House
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.
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.
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.