The Flower District is alive and well in the Chelsea neighborhood although it has gotten a lot smaller in the last twenty years. Rezoned for residential and commercial in a new way, most of the lower part of Sixth Avenue from West 34th to West 23rd Streets has changed dramatically with new residential high rises being built along the avenue. Still on the side streets, small ‘Mom & Pop” businesses still thrive making this area a haven for fresh cut flowers, potted plants, garden equipment & accessories and many floral gifts and arrangements.
Foliage Paradise at 113-115 West 28th Street in the heart of the “Flower District”
I came across this wonderful little dumpling and lo mein shop when I was walking around Kips Bay for my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”. I had not had the chance to try the restaurant on those trips to the neighborhood but tried it recently and was thrilled by the food and service of this family owned shop. The food and the service were both excellent.
The Combination Platters are a great deal for lunch
The pot stickers and lo mien combination is so reasonable and the portion sizes are very generous. The pot stickers were pan-fried and crisp on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside.
The dumplings and pot stickers that I tried on my first two trips were filled with…
Sometimes you just stumble across a restaurant when you are walking down a street that catches your attention. That is how I felt when I was staying in Manhattan for Spring Break from school and was staying at the Sheraton Four Points a few doors down from Milanes Restaurant.
I saw how reasonable the restaurant was and the nice selection of dishes for breakfast and lunch. This Spanish restaurant has a Dominican influence in its cooking from it owners and chefs.
I stopped in for breakfast after seeing the menu and had never had a Dominican Breakfast before. My selection though ended up being very American with me ordering two breakfasts. I had an order of French Toast which was two very thick slices of bread dipped…
There are some stores in New York City that just stand out for their uniqueness because of the product they sell or their history with the City or both. Little Pie Company is one of those stores.
I had heard of the store since its opening years ago and had never visited it. When I was walking the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood for my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”, I finally came across this friendly little pie shop just off the Theater District. Since I remembered that the founder was a actor who was trying to earn money while he was in between jobs I thought it was fitting for its location.
Since COVID, the pies are now individually wrapped for purchase and did not come just out…
I continued my visit to Kips Bay on a unusually warm but a mix of clouds and sun afternoon. I sometimes can’t tell whether is will rain or not. The walking of the Avenues in Kips Bay was not as extensive as other neighborhoods that I have visited before. Since I had already all of Lexington Avenue and FDR Drive and parts of First Avenue, all I had to cover on this trip was Third, Second and parts of First Avenue that I had not visited before.
FDR Drive in this part of the neighborhood is bounded by impassible sidewalks and closed off roadways by the schools and hospitals. You are pretty much visiting dead end streets with loads of security protecting them. These guys travel in packs and with COVID spreading around New York City there is a reason why they are there. They have to control the number of ambulances that are coming into the Bellevue Hospital complex.
Still there are lots to see and do on all the Avenues and you have to walk them slowly to appreciate the life that is coming back not just to the neighborhood but to the City was well. I am seeing more people on the streets as people are venturing out of their homes, masks and all and returning to work. With so many hospitals and colleges in the neighborhood, street traffic has increased since I started walking around Kips Bay in October.
Walking the Avenues, I have seen how the neighborhood continues to change as the smaller low rise buildings are being replaced in the northern section of the neighborhood as the hospitals and colleges expand. To the west of the neighborhood, the expansion of Midtown is changing the buildings on the border of Kips Bay resembling more the commercial districts of Uptown. Still there is a lot of charm in the small businesses that populate this neighborhood and there are many small ‘gems’ that stand out.
I started on Lexington Avenue first and then walked my way north and south along the avenues as I headed towards the East River again. It is nice to see people on the sidewalks again and dining in restaurants still enjoying the last bits of warm weather.
When walking the borders of the neighborhood, I got caught up in the sites and smells of “Little India/Curry Hill” between East 29th and 26th Streets around Kalustyan’s at 123 Lexington Avenue and decided to explore it further.
The store is such an exciting place for the senses with products of different smells and complexities. I enjoyed picking up the various bags on the shelves and trying to figure out what they were before I looked at the labels. After two years at culinary school, it was lesson in new spices for me.
The racks of spices have the most amazing aroma
Bring around all those spices and interesting frozen foods again made me hungry for Indian food. So across the street I tried Lahori Kabab at 106 Lexington Avenue, a small take out place that had a few tables your could sit down (socially distanced of course).
They have the most reasonable food and a very diverse menu. I just wanted a snack so I had a Chicken Samosa ($2.00) that was so spicy that it cleared my sinus out and a Allo Tiki, which is a type of potato cake with a yogurt sauce that had a nice pinch to it. Everything on the menu is under $10.00 and attracts a very interesting crowd of customers.
After that nice little snack, I walked back down Lexington Avenue to East 23rd Street and proceeded east to Third Avenue. This is where you see the transitions in the neighborhood. Most of the buildings between East 23rd to East 30th is still dominated by smaller buildings with a lot of independent businesses. As you pass East 30th Street, the high rises are dominating and newer construction is changing the look of the the upper parts of Kips Bay.
As I headed north up Third Avenue, I needed something sweet after the spicy snack and found La Delice Pastry Shop at 372 Third Avenue. What I loved about the bakery is that it has been around since 1935 and it is nice to see these old time businesses still exist in the ever changing fabric of a neighborhood. They carry all sorts of pies, cakes, cookies and pastries.
La Delice Pastry Shop at 372 Third Avenue has been there since 1935
I just went in for a jelly doughnut ($1.50) and it was well worth it. The chewiness of the dough and the sweetness of the sugar outside along with the tanginess of the current jelly gave it that old fashioned feel of what a doughnut should be. Beats the hell out of Dunkin!
La Delice Pastry Shop has a selection of old-line baked goods
Third Avenue is a juxtapose of architecture as you walk up and down the Avenue. A couple of buildings do stand out amongst the tenement and apartment buildings starting to sprout up along the border of the neighborhood.
One building that had some beautiful features was 497 Third Avenue. This five story building was built in 1930 and offers some beautiful brownstone features around the roof and windows. The Flying Cock restaurant at its base gives it an interesting look from street level.
Another interesting building is 384 Third Avenue. This picturesque building was built around 1900 by architects Howells & Stokes by the neighboring Madison Square Presbyterian Church as the Madison Square Church House that was used by the church for nightly services. A cast iron base supported the red brick architecture and the ornamented cast iron window lintels. The cornice at the top is made of cast iron (Daytonian in Manhattan).
When heading back down to East 23rd Street, I admired the Gem Saloon building that was just opening for lunch at 375-377 Third Avenue. These buildings were built in 1910 and was once the old Rodeo Bar that had been a staple in the neighborhood for 27 years.
The Gem Saloon at 375-377 Third Avenue was built 1910
As I turned the corner back onto East 23rd Street, I passed the now very quiet Baruch College campus. Part of East 25th Street is now being converted into a college walkway for the students and the construction workers were swarming the place.
Second Avenue is going through the same transformation as Third Avenue with much of the Avenue being knocked down and replaced by new apartment complexes. Much of the west side of the street is still intact with the east side of Second Avenue being rebuilt as part of the hospital complex and now new developments.
The only interesting building I saw was at 453 Second Avenue which was built in 1910 and is now a single family home. The building is now going through another renovation. This small brick building looks like it was once a fire station or a stable.
Across the street is the large Kips Bay Court complex at 490 Second Avenue, that stretches from East 26th to East 29th Streets and when you walk through the complex you will find the oasis of Bellevue South Park. As Fall was progressing, the park was ablaze with what was left of the gold and reds of the leaves of the trees that surrounding the park.
Kips Bay Court Apartments stretch from East 26th to East 29th Streets on the east side of Second Avenue
Bellevue South Park is a nice break for all the people working in the area and for people living in the apartment complex. The park was created in 1966 when this whole part of the neighborhood went through urban renewal in the 1950’s that ran from East 23rd to East 30th between First and Second Avenue. The park is full of playground equipment and long paths and has some interesting artwork.
Mr. Milkowski is an American born artist from Illinois but moved to New York City as a child and is a graduate of Kenyon College and Hunter College in New York. He started to get involved with art in the early 1960’s and started to create contemporary pieces. The work was donated to the Parks system through the Association for a Better New York whose goal it was to enliven parts of the City. The work moved around until places in Bellevue South Park in the mid-1970’s (NYCParks.org).
All that walking was making me hungry again and I saw the sign for Joey Pepperoni Pizza at 493 Second Avenue for dollar slices that are now $1.25. Inflation the sign stated. The place was pretty busy for a mid-afternoon and the pizzas were coming out fresh. It was okay. The sauce was pretty good and the slice was pretty large for the price.
Across the street from the Kips Bay Court complex, I crossed the street to another small pocket park, the Vincent F. Albano Jr. Playground at 523 Second Avenue, that is tucked into a corner of Second Avenue and East 39th Street. This quaint little park is full a charm with a small playground and shade trees all around it. It was rather quiet the afternoon I was there as it looked like they were limiting the number of people coming here.
The park was designed by architect M. Paul Friedberg in the late 1960’s and has gone through several renovations since that time. The park was named after Vincent F. Albano, a Republican district leader who lived in the neighborhood until his passing in 1981. He helped preserve the park when the neighborhood was going through all the construction changes (NYCParks.org).
Dominating the neighborhood just to the north of the neighborhood is the Kips Bay Towers complex that stretches up Second Avenue from East 30th to East 33rd Streets. This along with the colleges and the hospital complexes replaced all the tenement housing and factories that were once located here. The complex is pretty much self-contained with a movie theater, supermarket and shops. The complex was designed by renowned architects I. M. Pei and S. J. Kessler in the ‘Brutalist style’ (Wiki).
As I walked back down Second Avenue towards East 23rd Street, I realized how much the urban renewal project of the 1950’s changed this part of the City similar to what the Lincoln Hill project did to the Upper West Side when Lincoln Center was built. It just changed the complexity of the neighborhood.
First Avenue is dominated mostly by NYU College campus and Bellevue Hospital and NY Langone Hospital. When I walked up First Avenue when walking the borders of the neighborhood I never noticed how new all the buildings seemed. Seeing the results of the Urban Renewal project, the area is similar to a big box complex.
Still there are little gems here and there that standout. On the corner of East 27th and First Avenue is the sculpture “Sentinel” by artist Theodore Roszak. It was designed and dedicated to all people involved in public health. The sculpture is somewhat hidden now under scaffolding during a current renovation of the building next to it.
“Sentinel” site at the corner of East 27th Street and First Avenue
Mr. Roszak was an Polish born American artist who grew up in the Polish section of Chicago. He was mostly self-taught. He studied both at the Chicago Art Institute and in Europe. He created this sculpture in 1968 and it studied the struggle between man and nature (Art@Site).
Another interesting piece of architecture is the original Bellevue Hospital Building that now has the new entrance of the hospital surrounding the original building. You can try to sneak in to the hospital but there are guards all over the entrance. I was able to walk in during one of their breaks and see the lobby. It once had a beautiful entrance but modern architecture has taken over. Take some time to see this interesting stonework and carvings.
The original Bellevue Hospital entrance by McKim, Mead &White
The original building which was designed by architects McKim, Mead & White in 1930 housed the oldest continuous public hospital in the United States founded in 1794. The hospital was built on the original Belle Vue farm (thus its name) and today is one of the most innovative hospitals in the world. It still have the stigma though of being a “nut house” when it is far more doing so much innovative work in medicine (Bellevue Hospital History).
The original Bellevue Hospital built by McKim, Mead & White in 1930
The new entrance to the Bellevue Hospital Center Ambulatory Center by architect firm Pei, Cobb, Freed & Partners designed between 2000-2005
I finally reached the corner of First Avenue and East 34th Street by the NY Langone Hospital and relaxed in the plaza across from the hospital and then walked to the East River Esplanade again to enjoy the sun and salt water air. it was fun to just relax for a bit before heading back around the neighborhood.
The East River Esplanade is a nice place to relax and watch the boats go by
I made my way back around the neighborhood walking to East 23rd Street to enjoy the sites and smells of Lexington Avenue and “Little India” again. It still amazes me all the sites and smells you can experience in a small neighborhood in Manhattan in one afternoon.
This is what I love about New York City!
Please enjoy my blog on ‘Walking the Borders of Kips Bay’ on MywalkinManhattan.com:
It has been a while since I was able to get back into the City to continue my walk around Manhattan. Between work, trips up to the Hudson River Valley and Upstate New York for Fall events and then the Halloween holidays, it has been a busy time and a real balancing act.
I started the walk around Kips Bay, a small Manhattan neighborhood that borders Murray Hill from the North, Peter Cooper Village and Gramercy Park to the South and the Flatiron and Midtown districts to the West. The neighborhood runs from East 34th to East 23rd Streets from Lexington Avenue to the West and FDR Drive and the East River to the East.
Kips Bay has a very interesting history. Kips Bay was once an inlet of the East River running from what is now East 37th to East 32nd Streets and the bay extended into Manhattan island to just west of what is now First Avenue and had two streams that ran from it. The bay was named after New Netherland Dutch settler, Jacobus Hendrickson Kip, the son of Hendrick Hendrickson Kip, whose farm ran north of present day East 30th Street along the East River. The bay became reclaimed land but the name “Kips Bay” still remains in the area (Wiki).
An early British map of Manhattan showing “Kepps Bay”
The Kip family built a large brick and stone house near the modern intersection of Second Avenue and East 35th Street. The house stood from 1655 to 1851 and when it was demolished was the last farmhouse from New Amsterdam remaining in Manhattan. Iron figures fixed into the gable end brickwork commemorated the first year of its construction. Its orchard was famous and when first President George Washington was presented with a sip of Rosa gallica during his first administration when New York City was serving as the first National Capital (Wiki).
Kips Bay was the site of the Landing at Kip’s Bay, an episode of the American Revolutionary War (1175-1783) and part of the New York and New Jersey campaign. About 4000 British Army troops under General William Howe landed in Kips Bay on September 15, 1776 near what is now the foot of East 33rd Street off the East River. This was from a Royal Fleet which first landed earlier at Staten Island then Long Island for the pivotal Battle of Brooklyn (also known as the Battle of Long Island).
The previous month General Howe’s troops defeated about 500 American militiamen stationed at Kips Bay but General Washington and commanded by Colonel William Douglas. The American forces immediately retreated and the British occupied New York Town at the south point of the island soon afterward forcing General Washington to retreat northward to the Harlem River (Wiki).
The British Landing at Kips Bay in 1776
The neighborhood now sits just below Murray Hill East 42nd to East 34th Streets) to the north and just south above Peter Cooper Village (East 23rd to East 20th Street). Kips Bay like the rest of this section of the Eastern side of Manhattan is going through a make over. The small apartment buildings are slowly coming down almost creating a patchwork in the neighborhood between the high rises and office buildings above East 30th Street and the low rises that still dot parts of Lexington, Third and Second Avenues. Little by little everything is giving way as Midtown creeps into these neighborhoods.
Still Kips Bay has loads of charm, a slew of interesting restaurants, beautiful buildings and nice little parks to relax in and a breathtaking view of the East River and Long Island City. There is a online discussion about the eastern border of the neighborhood, Third to Lexington Avenues, which some consider part of the “Rose Hill” neighborhood, which itself labels itself “NoMAD” today (North of Madison Park). Even within the neighborhood there are subsections including “Curry Hill” or “Little India” along Lexington Avenue from East 29th to East 26th Streets which is lined with Southeast Asian provision and retail stores and great Asian restaurants where the scents of curry and cumin are in the air.
This is why I love walking in Manhattan is how you can go from one world to another in just a block. It shows the cultural richness and the diversity that makes Manhattan so complex and interesting. There is always something new to experience from block to block.
I started my walk in my usual headquarters for this part of Manhattan in Bryant Park. The Christmas Village and Skating Rink have been set up way in advance of the holidays and people were out skating, masks and all, and having a wonderful time on the first sunny day in a long time. The village stores are about a third of the amount from previous years but still stocked and ready to go. I think the City in the era of COVID “needs a little Christmas now”.
The Christmas Village got an early start Bryant Park this year
This is something I noticed when I walked down East 42nd Street towards Madison and Park Avenues when I passed office buildings. Christmas Trees and wreaths decorated lobbies all over the avenues much earlier than I have ever seen. Usually the Christmas decorations don’t come out until after Thanksgiving but the holidays are getting more rushed this year. Still even in the 60 degree days in November it really does cheer you up.
Park Avenue Office Building Christmas decorations
Arriving at East 34th Street and FDR Drive, I reached the border of Murray Hill and Kips Bay in the mid afternoon and it felt so familiar to me after so many afternoons exploring Murray Hill just that the weather had gotten cooler. There just seemed to be more people out as the City is getting back to normal after a trying summer.
When you do arrive here you are greeted by a playful piece of art just outside NYU Langone Children’s Hospital. “Spot” is a dalmatian balancing a taxi on his nose is located just outside the Children’s Hospital’s doors. “I wanted to make something so astounding to distract to even those arriving with the most serious procedures” (Artist Bio) the artist was quoted as saying when the piece was unveiled. It sits four stories in front of the hospital. It is a very playful piece of art that stopped me in my tracks.
“Spot” by artist Donald Lipski
Artist Donald Lipski is an American born artist who is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cranbrook Academy of Art. He is best known for his large scale works in public places (Artist’s Bio).
It was nice to see most of the restaurants in the area had finally opened up and with the warm weather still holding its grip, there was a lot of outdoor dining to choose from. Even before the pandemic, some parts of the neighborhood were being knocked down for new construction and work continued as I visited taking down many of the smaller buildings that used to house small restaurants. Still there are some great independent restaurants in the area that needed support.
I had lunch at Pizza & Pita at 344 East 34th Street right across the street from the small park that faces the hospital. I just wanted a slice of pizza and when I walked in a fresh pie had just come out. The pizza looked as good as it tasted.
The sauce has an amazing rich flavor and the loaded with cheese for a gooey consistency. It was so good that I stopped back later for a quick snack of their garlic knots. These pillowy delights came with a side of their delicious marinara sauce that was a pleasure to dunk them into and enjoy each bit.
The pizza here is great!
I just relaxed and ate my lunch in the small public plaza across the street from the hospital and watched as the hospital staff came out from their frustrating days and ate their lunches beside me. It seemed to do them well. The plaza has gotten busier since the late summer and it is nice to see people coming back to work and bring some life to the area.
While at lunch I admired another interesting art piece entitled “Stemmer” by New York City born American artist David Fried.
“Stemmer” at the plaza at East 34th Street and First Avenue
The artist grew up in New York City and attended the School of Art & Music and was accepted into the Arts Students League of New York. The “Stemmers” sculptures is one of his trademark pieces.
After lunch, I continued my walk down East 34th Street to the border of Kips Bay at Lexington Avenue. The neighborhood is very ‘old New York’ especially between First and Lexington Avenues with the small buildings and high rises from the 1960’s and 70’s. The area is currently going through a make over with new buildings but it still has that “Woody Allen” feel of New York. Everything is not gleaming and new.
Tucked here and there by buildings and courtyards on East 34th Street is a bevy of interesting street art. The block is almost an ‘open air museum’ of creativity. The statue “Thinking Big” which was formally in Central Park South on Sixth Avenue last year has found a home in front of 222 East 34th Street.
Jim Rennert is an American born artist known for his large bronze sculptures depicting the everyday man. Mostly self-taught, his works are seen all over the country and really do make a statement.
Walking further down East 34th Street just outside a little courtyard of one of the apartment buildings is artist John Sewart Johnson’s II sculpture “The Right Light”, a bronze sculpture of an artist and his easel. The sculpture is located just outside a building between Third and Lexington Avenues at 150 East 34th Street.
‘The Right Light’ by artist John Sewart Johnson II
Artist John Seward Johnson II was an American artist who attended the University of Maine and he is known for his ‘familiar man’ sculptures and icons paintings.
Located on the wall near this art piece is an interesting painting on the wall outside another apartment building by artist Colette Miller from her “Global Wings Project” which she created in 2012. She paints these ‘to remind humanity that we are the angels of this earth’ . With this graceful painting of giant ‘wings’, the artist hopes that there are a symbol of peace (Colette Miller’s Bio).
Artist Colette Millers “Global Angel Wings Project” 2020
Ms. Miller is a American born artist from Richmond, VA. She is graduate of the Art School at Virginia Commonwealth University and Film Studies at UCLA. As well as an artist, she is a film maker and musician. Her work has been exhibited all over the world.
Turning the corner onto the bustling Lexington Avenue, you see that the border of the neighborhood is a bustling commercial district with a combination of office buildings and apartments and as you cross East 30th Street a restaurant district with an international flair to it. The avenue is also lined with interesting architecture where many buildings stand out.
The New York Design Center Building at 200 Lexington Avenue stands out for its detailed beauty and its embellishments that accent the outside of the building. It was built in 1926 and designed by architect Ely Jacques Khan as the New York Furniture Exchange. The building was to cater to furniture and department store buyers. It now caters to the full interior design experience with furniture, lighting and textiles.
200 Lexington Avenue-The New York Design Center
Tucked to the residential side of the avenue is 170 Lexington Avenue an Italianate brownstone building that stands out for it yellow exterior. The brownstone was part of three building complex built in the early 1850’s. The house was owned by George and Elizabeth Youle, a wealthy couple with two married daughters. The address was originally 158 Lexington Avenue and then changed to 170 Lexington Avenue in 1866. Sometime in the 1940’s the yellow clapboard veneer was added in a renovation of the building (Daytonian 2020).
170 Lexington Avenue was built in the early 1850’s
Another building that had beautiful detail work carved into it is 160-164 Lexington Avenue, The Dove Street Marketplace, which offers floor after floor of high end goods.
The detail work is amazing on 160-164 Lexington Avenue-The Dove Street Market
The building has the most beautiful detail work on all sides. It was built in 1909 as the New York School for Applied Design for Women. It was designed by one of the school’s instructors, architect Wiley Corbett, to resemble a Greek Temple (Forgotten New York).
160-164 Lexington Avenue
Across the street from the Dover Street Market at 154 Lexington Avenue is the First Moravian Church. The building was started in 1849 and finished in 1852 at the Rose Hill Baptist Church designed in the Lombardian Romanesque style. In 1869, the church was sold to the First Moravian Church which had been located at Sixth Avenue and 34th Street (Daytonian in Manhattan).
The First Moravian Church at 154 Lexington Avenue was built in 1854
As I crossed over East 29th Street, I was greeted by the sights and smells of curry and cumin in restaurants as I entered “Little India” or “Curry Hill” as some locals call it, a stretch of restaurants and stores that cater to the Southeast Asian population as well as locals and tourists alike. This stretch of businesses extends from East 29th to about East 26th Streets created by the catalyst for the street, Kalustyan’s at 123 Lexington Avenue, a specialty food market specializing in Indian and Middle-Eastern spices and food items.
Kalustyan’s Specialty Market at 123 Lexington Avenue
Kalustyan’s has an interesting history. The market was started in 1944 by Kerope Kalustyan, an Armenian immigrant from Turkey, when his steel importing business failed. He turned to foods and spices that catered to the large Armenian population who lived in the neighborhood in the 1920’s. By the 1960’s and 70’s, are large Indian and Southeastern Asian population started to move to the City and Kalustyan’s was the meeting spot as they started to carry Indian spices as well. “Little India/Curry Hill” grew up around the store as immigrants opened their own businesses around the store (Wiki). Now Kalustyan’s carries foods and spices from all over the world (Kalustyan).
It is really an experience to walk around all the shelves and shelves of spices and see what is available. Then to turn the corner and see all the fresh and frozen foods from all over the world. it can be overwhelming.
Kalustyan’s is located in the historic Chester A. Arthur home
What is interesting about the store is that is was once the home of President Chester A. Arthur, who took office as 21st President of the United States after President James Garfield was shot in 1881. He was sworn in as president here in September 1881. President Arthur moved to New York City in 1848 and lived here for most of his adult life and continued living here after his Presidency. He died in the house in 1886 (Wiki).
President Chester A. Arthur taking oath in his home in 1881
The house is a five story masonry designed in the Romanesque Revival styling and has gone through many renovations over the years. The neighborhood went from a fashionable district to the home of one of the largest Armenian populations in the United States then to an Southeast Asian neighborhood to another gentrifying area of Manhattan.
The Chester A. Arthur house when he lived in it
After a quick tour around Kalustyan’s admiring all the spices and looking over their frozen food department with all its pastry and meat dishes, I was in the mood from some Indian food. I stopped at the corner at Curry in a Hurry at 119 Lexington Avenue. I needed a quick snack to keep me going so I ordered a chicken samosa ($2.45) and it was so good I went back for a beef samosa that had just gotten out of the oven. Both were extremely well spiced and full of flavor. I could taste the hot pepper and cumin for the rest for the afternoon (see my review on TripAdvisor).
Curry in a Hurry at 119 Lexington Avenue
Refreshed from a quick snack, I continued exploring Lexington Avenue peeking at all the menus of the restaurants as I walked down the road. The aroma from the kitchens reached the sidewalks and I had to make an mental note of the place I wanted to try in the future.
By East 26th Street, I passed “Little India” and was in front of the 69th Regiment Building at 68th Lexington Avenue. This beautiful building is the home to the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Fighting Irish” since the Civil War (Wiki).
The building was designed by architects Hunt & Hunt in the Beaux Arts style and was completed in 1906. It has been home to many events and show including the controversial 1913 Armory Show of contemporary art (Wiki). You really have to walk around the building to admire its beauty and history.
Just across the street is another beautiful building covered with snakes, skulls and dragons carved along the side of it at 130 East 25th Street.
Someone had a warped sense of humor
The former B. W. Mayer Building which now houses the Friends House in Rosehall was built in 1916 by architect Herman Lee Meader (Wiki). You really have to walk around the building to see all the unusual carvings that line the building.
130 East 25th Street, the former B. W. Mayer Building
The doorway arch really stands out
The street art is also interesting on this part of Lexington Avenue. One the corner of East 24th Street & Lexington Avenue is the Friends House New York, a housing unit. Painted on the wall is a very unique painting by Italian street artist, Jacopo Ceccarelli.
Painting by artist Jacopo Ceccarelli
The mural is on the corner of East 24th & Lexington Avenue-The St. Francis Residence Building
The Milan born street artist, who goes by the name “Never 2501” hones his skills after moving to San Paolo, painting murals with an edge that got global recognition. He uses geometric forms in his work with circles and lines creating the abstract(Do Art Foundation).
I was getting hungry again with all this criss crossing across Lexington Avenue and I had two choices for a snack, DiDi Dumpling at 38 Lexington Avenue or Pick & Pay Pizza at 30 Lexington Avenue both having reasonable snacks. Since I would be stopping for Dim Sum later that afternoon, I chose the pizza. For a $1.25 a slice, the pizza was not bad in this tiny little hole in the wall that also served Indian food as well. The sauce had a lot of flavor and that is what makes the pizza.
Pick & Pay Pizza at 30 Lexington Avenue
DiDi Dumpling at 38 Lexington Avenue
I noticed on the wall right near the doorway near the Starbucks was another wall mural “Urban Ocean” by artist Yuki Abe that is off to the side of the building on the corner of Lexington & 25th, Look at the interesting color and design of the work.
Surrounding this area of Lexington & 25th Street starts the campus of Baruch College which is part of the SUNY system and I could see students who were taking live classes walking around enjoying the day. I am sure it is much different when classes were in full swing and the students were hanging around the restaurants and coffee shops in the area.
Another building that stands out in its beauty and design is on the corner of the neighborhood on Lexington Avenue between 24th and 23rd Streets, the Freehand Hotel at 23 Lexington Avenue. The hotel was originally built as the Hotel George Washington in 1928 and designed by architect Frank Mills Andrews in the French Renaissance style.
The Freehand Hotel (the former George Washington Hotel) at 23 Lexington Avenue
While still a apartment building and a dorm in the 1990’s, several famous New Yorkers lived at the hotel including artist Keith Haring and musician Dee Dee Ramone. Playwright Jeffery Stanley also lived at the hotel for a period of time.
The entrance to the Freehand Hotel is very elegant but still remains closed
I crossed East 23rd Street which is the edge of the neighborhood shared with Gramercy Park, Rose Hill and Peter Cooper Village further down the block. This busy thoroughfare is lined with a lot stores, restaurants and many interesting buildings that leads to the East River.
I stopped for lunch at a new Dim Sum restaurant name Awe Sum Dim Sum that had just opened on at 160 East 23rd Street and it was just excellent. I took my friend, Maricel, here for lunch after my birthday for lunch and we ate through most of the menu (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
The Awe Sum Dim Sum at 160 East 23rd Street
The restaurant has the most amazing appetizers to choose from that are all made in house and served fresh to you either at your table inside or one of the many tables outside (while the weather holds out). On my trip with Maricel, we ate our way through the Fried Dumplings, the Chicken Siu Mai, the Spring Rolls, the Baked BBQ Pork Buns, the Scallion Pancakes and the Soup Dumplings. On my trip today, I ordered the Soup Dumplings, Crispy Shrimp Rolls and the Siu Mai with pork and shrimp.
The Soup Dumplings here are the best
With the cost for each running between $4.00-$6.00, I could eat my way through the menu. The nice part is what a nice contemporary designed restaurant the place is to dine in. Everyone is kept ‘socially distanced’ so it is a nice place to eat.
The inside of Awe Sum Dim Sum
After a nice relaxing lunch, I was ready to continue down East 23rd Street. Criss crossing the street again, I noticed the beauty of 219-223 East 23rd Street. The building has all sorts of griffins and faces glaring out. When you stand across the street, you can admire the beauty of all the carvings on the building along the archways above and the faces staring at you from the tops of windows.
219-223 East 23rd Street
Another building that stands out is 304-310 East 23rd Street. This former factory building was built in 1900 and now is the “The Foundry”, a converted condo complex. The amazing detail on the building stands out and you have to admire the stonework and details in the carvings along the building.
304-310 East 23rd Street is a former factory
The stone work is a standout on this building
Reaching the end of East 23rd Street, you will see the planned middle class complex of Peter Cooper Village, which has gone market rate and is now getting very upscale and seems to have a younger resident walking around then the usual middle aged residents who used to be on the list to get one of these very desirable apartments.
The entrance to Peter Cooper Village at First Avenue
Across from Peter Cooper Village is the Asser Avery Recreational Center and Playground 392 Asser Avery Place with the famous baths and pools that have been part of the neighborhood for generations.
The Asser Levy Recreation Center and Park at 392 Asser Levy Place
When the baths opened in 1908, the facility was called the East 23rd Street Bathhouse. It was by architects Arnold W. Brunner and William Martin Aiken. Based on the ancient Roman Baths, the architecture was inspired by the “City Beautiful” movement, a turn of the century effort to create civic architecture in the United States that would rival the monuments of the great European capitals (NYCParks.org). The playground next to it opened in 1993.
The architecture by Arnold Brunner and William Martin Aiken resembled a Roman Bath
The Baths and Park was named for Asser Levy, a Jewish trailblazer in colonial times when Mr. Levy and 23 Jews fled from Brazil in 1654 to seek refuge in New Amsterdam. He challenged Governor Peter Stuyvesant when he tried to evict the Jews from the colony. He was the first Jew to serve in the militia and own property in the colony (NYCParks.org).
The border to the east of the neighborhood is combination of the East River Esplande, FDR Drive and First Avenue. Since First Avenue and FDR Drive are surrounded by a combination of college campus and hospital space, it makes walking around the neighborhood tricky.
When you walk across East 23rd Street to FDR Drive, you have to cross over FDR Drive at East 25th Street behind the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System Hospital complex and the CUNY/Hunter College campus and then cross over the bridge to the Waterside Plaza complex.
The Waterside Plaza complex and the Greenway walkway
This series of apartment buildings faces the East River and FDR Drive that leads to the East River Greenway walkway and the Waterside Plaza walkway both surround the complex. The views are breathtaking on a sunny afternoon of the East River and Long Island City.
The East River Greenway and the view of Long Island City
On the way up the Waterside Plaza walkway, I passed the famous Water Cafe at 500 East 30th Street that is currently closed because of COVID. This famous restaurant has been around since the 1980’s and offers some of the most spectacular views. It was one of the best known restaurants at the time when “Restaurant Madness” hit the City in the mid-1980’s as the City went through its first wave of gentrification under the Koch Administration.
The Water Club at 500 East 30th Street is currently closed
I walked all around the Waterside Plaza complex and saw where all the joggers and walkers can exercise all around the complex. The walkways both lead back to East 34th Street and the beginning of the walkway and where Kips Bay once was located. I walked around the NYU Langone Hospital when I crossed East 34th Street and walked down the FDR Drive extension around the hospital until I reached East 26th Street and crossed to First Avenue.
This part of FDR Drive passes behind the Langone complex and the Bellevue Complex and be careful as there are security guards all over the place. They totally avoided me because with the tinted glasses I think they thought I was there to check them out. The side streets of East 30th to East 28th Streets are closed off to the public and you can’t walk down them without security looking you over. There is not much to see here but a parking lot and the back of the hospital complex.
I walked back down East 26th to East 25th Street and crossed back over to where the bridge was located and walked back around the Asser Levy Park and walked through the park. The three times I was in the park no one was there and the park seemed a little depressed with the homeless camping out.
The City Opera Thrift Shop at 222 East 23rd Street
I made my way back down East 23rd Street and stopped in the City Opera Thrift Shop at 222 East 23rd Street. They have the most interesting artwork and books, couture clothing for women and children and some decorative items on the second floor that have been donated to the store to help support the charity. Don’t miss shifting through the store and all the racks to find that perfect outfit.
Walking around the first floor of the City Opera Thrift Shop is an adventure
As I walked back up East 23rd Street passing the historic buildings and restaurants I walked through the Baruch College complex to see that campus was being renovated and was really quiet. It is spooky to walk through a college campus and see no one. It was one of the cooler days when I visited the neighborhood and no one was around.
Before I finished my walk of the border of neighborhood, I stopped back in “Little India” and had dinner at Anjappar, a South Indian restaurant at 116 Lexington Avenue at 28th Street. I had not had Indian food for a long time and thought it would be a nice way to end the evening.
Anjappar at 116 Lexington Avenue
I was the only person eating in the restaurant that evening so all the attention went to me. The waiter gave me her great recommendations and we were able to talk about the best dishes to try. Since all NYC restaurants are only at 25% capacity, not too many people can eat there anyway. It was a quiet night with just a few to go orders while I was there.
The food and the service were excellent. With the recommendations for the waiter, I ordered the Anjappar Chicken Marsala, which was in a spicy chili and curry sauce served with a side of white rice and a side of Parotta bread, which is a buttery spiral bread that is a specialty of the region. The entree was so spicy that it cleaned my sinuses out and added a little spring to my step. For dessert, I order a house specialty, the Pineapple Ravakesari, which was fresh crushed pineapple in a polenta type of grain with a sugary top. It was served warm and was the perfect combination of sweet and tart. It was the perfect dessert to end the meal and cap off the afternoon of adventure (see my review on TripAdvisor).
The wonderful curries and Parotta bread of that dinner
When I reached the point of the beginning at Lexington Avenue and East 34th Street, I thought back to the wonderful sites and views from the island that Kips Bay offers . From the interesting open air art museum to the views along the river to the historic buildings and sites and smells of “Little India/Curry Hill”, there is so much to see and do in the neighborhood it even took me several trips to see just the border of the Kips Bay.
What would the British think today if they landed here? It would be more than Mrs. Murray’s punch and cake to keep them distracted.
Mrs. Murray entertaining the British in here home when they landed in Kips Bay.
Walking the Streets of the Upper West Side was harder than I thought because there is a treasure trove of historical spots and buildings all over the neighborhood. Here and there is a plaque or a statue that had gone unnoticed or a beautiful carving on a building that just catches my eye. You look hard enough and there is another plaque to someone famous or a garden that ‘pops up’ out of no where. If you blink, you might miss something.
I started my day working the beverage station at Soup Kitchen. Being the middle of the month, we started getting busy again. The chef made a type of stew that was very popular with the guests and we were busy that afternoon. I was tired by the end of the afternoon but ready to go.
I stopped at Taco Bandito at 325 Eighth Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for a quick snack for lunch. I spent $2.90 on a Chicken Fajita with Guacamole. The restaurant’s food is cooked to order and is really good. It is spicy and everything I have tried there has some kick to it. The best part of their menu is that everything is under $10.00. Check it out my blog, ‘DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com for my article on the restaurant. It is a local gem by the Fashion Institute of Technology.
I started the walk on West 72nd Street visiting a lot of the places I had visited when walking the borders of the neighborhood. There were a lot of stores to revisit and restaurant menus to look over. Being a nice but cool day, I wanted to walk around Riverside Park.
I passed the Eleanor Roosevelt Statue again at the corner of Riverside Drive and West 72nd Street and really looked at it again as I was relaxing on the benches. The artist really did a nice job with the statue and it is a nice place to stop and relax. The flowers were starting to pop up as the weather was getting warmer. As I left this part of the neighborhood in the late spring, the dogwood and cherry trees came into bloom and the surrounding area of the memorial is quite spectacular.
Eleanor Roosevelt Statue in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side
As I crossed onto the Streets off Riverside Drive to West End Avenue, the area is part of the West End Historical Society and much of the area is landmarked all the way to Broadway. On the blocks between Riverside Drive to West End Avenue from West 72nd to West 84th Streets the whole area is in two historical zones, the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historical District (from West 95th Street to West 62nd Street from Central Park West to Broadway & Amsterdam Avenue in some parts) and Riverside-West End Avenue Historical District (West 108th Street to West 70th Street to Broadway). This is the reason why I think that the Upper West Side has not seen the changes of the Upper East Side. So much land marking.
One of the most beautiful buildings on West 73rd Street across the street from the Ansonia Apartments is the Apple Savings Bank at 2100-2108 Broadway, the former Central Saving Bank Building. This elegant graceful bank sits on the tip of the northern part of Verdi Park in the Italian Renaissance palazzo style by the firm of York & Sawyer. The grillwork was done by Samuel Yellin, the master casting iron maker of the 1920’s. He did all the iron work of the grilles, doors, gates and lanterns. The rooms are vaulted look was said by the bank to be a ‘noble building’ (Wiki). From the outside, admire the stone and grill work around the building especially facing the park.
The Park Royal Building is another elegant building near The Dakota on West 72nd floor. The building was built in 1928 by architect George F. Pelham as a type of apartment/hotel with maid service for the residents and restaurant service. It was a new concept of hotel amenities given to apartment dwellers. The building has wonderful views of the park and the apartment owners were able to design their apartments. The lower level is in limestone and the upper part of the building is made of a golden-colored tapestry brick. It is now a luxury cooperative (Park Royal history). Admire it from the other side of the street to see all the striking details of the building.
The West End Collegiate Historic District which runs from West 79th Street to West 74th Street from Broadway to Riverside Drive (the extension is from West 79th Street to West 70th Street) is full unique buildings with the center is the Collegiate Church on the corner of West End Avenue and West 75th Street.
Don’t miss the new artwork by artist Kathy Ruttenburg on the traffic island at West 79th Street and Broadway named “Ms. Mighty Mouse”. This whimsical statue has its own interpretation and I am not sure if its empowerment or just taking control of the situation. Either way, don’t miss seeing the statue while it is here.
Miss Mighty Mouse by artist Kathy Ruttenberg
The West End Collegiate Church is the center of this district. The church was designed in Dutch Colonial style by the firm of McKim, Mead and White in 1893. The church was built to attract old Knickerbocker families in the city as well as give the local residents with a sense of history to the church and its Dutch background(Collegiate website). The church has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows with armorial designs based on Dutch provinces. The church has since expanded in the neighborhood.
At 33 Riverside Drive, there is a plaque dedicated to Ira Gershwin, the famous American composer, when he lived here and wrote some of his most famous songs. He lived in a three bedroom penthouse in the building from 1929-1933 and wrote ‘Girl Crazy’, ‘Of thee I Sing’ and ‘Let’em East Cake’ while living here (on the plaque). The apartment went on the market in 2015 for six million dollars.
Between 128-132 West 75th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue take a look up and look at the entrance way of buildings and in the carvings by the entrance at 128 West 75th Street, you will see what appear to be two angels inside the flaps of both sides of the doorway. Look at the detailed carvings of these buildings and you will see stone work that I have not seen in any of my travels in the neighborhood.
128th-132nd West 75th Street
Rounding the streets at West 76th, there is a building at 132 West 76th Street with the most interesting stonework. Look at the way the statuary sticks out on the brownstone and the way it was carved. It is beautiful and unusual at the same time. It looks like a butterfly wing. I wonder how many people walk by this every day and never really notice it?
The homes in this part of the Upper West Side between Central Park and Riverside Park really are interesting the brownstones really have their own designs and many are not your typical ‘row houses’ as they have different types of stonework designs on them. You will see the most elegant stonework lining these buildings that have been sandblasted and detailed back to life. People here have really invested in their homes and decorated them nicely with potted plants and trees.
Take time to stop at the Tecumseh Playground at Amsterdam and West 78th Street, with its colorful murals and interesting playground. There is a lot to see and if you have kids, it is a lot of fun. Don’t miss walking through the park which is flanked by an interesting mural of ‘out west’ on the wall and the unique ‘jungle gyms’ designed like buildings and cars. I got such a kick at watching the kids of all ages running around the park and the parents talking amongst themselves. It still gives me faith that all kids are not glued to their phones.
The park is named after Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) who after graduating from West Point in 1840, served in California and the Mexican-American War.
Sherman Playground at Amsterdam Avenue and West 78th Street
Sherman was appointed to brigadier general of volunteers in 1861 and fought at Bull Run and Shiloh. Promoted to major general in 1862, he distinguished himself in the Vicksburg and Chattanooga campaigns of 1863. Sherman blazed a trail of destruction as his troops seized Atlanta, marched to the sea and headed north through the Carolinas. He received surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston on April 26, 1865. This deserves at least a playground and much more (NYC Parks).
When you are heading back to Riverside Park, remember not to miss the Hamilton Fountain on Riverside Drive between West 76th and 77th Streets and the Neufeld Playground right inside the park if you need to use the bathrooms before 5:00pm. As the weather got warmer, the daffodils and crocuses were starting to come into bloom. Take time to relax here and walk into the park to see the Hudson River before the leaves start (read more about this in the Avenues section of the Upper West Side).
When rounding West 78th Street, admire the architecture on the whole block. There are graceful brownstones between West End Avenue and Riverside Park and between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenue. Really look up at the stonework and the carvings on these buildings before the scaffolding goes back up and they are sandblasted again.
On West 79th Street, two things really stood out, the Banksy “Hammer Boy” mural on the side of the wall near Broadway, which the neighbors are trying to save and is under Plexiglas and so noted by the artist. He looks like he his about the hammer the FDNY’s standpipe.
The other is the gorgeous Baptist Church at 265 West 79th Street. Take time to look at its stained glass windows and curvature in the design. The church was built in 1890 by George M. Keister, who later built the Apollo Theater. It sits on what was a bend in the Avenue and can be seen on the way downtown. The stained glass shows God as the center of the New Testament Church and shows Him as the Bright and Morning Star with His Crown as the King of Kings (Wiki). It makes quite the statement.
I stopped at West 80th Street as I rounded West 79th Street by Riverside Park. I had to relax for awhile and boosted more energy to walk down to West 72nd Street to Malachy’s Donegal Inn Bar for some dinner. I saw the hamburger special for $8.95 and thought that was good for me. It is a local West Side watering hole where the patrons are mostly locals and the food really good (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
I noticed at Malachy’s that both the bartenders and the locals size you up to see who you might be and I am not sure that they could read me. One thing was that they were really friendly and engaging to me and I appreciated it. After walking from the top of West 72nd Street to the bottom of West 80th Street, I didn’t need a suspicious look or conversation. I just joined in and we talked about the Yankees and their current season.
The burgers at Malachy’s are excellent
Just to let you know, if you are in the area of West 72nd Street, take the time out to have lunch or dinner and a drink at Malachy’s. The burger was cooked perfectly and had a salty, caramelized crust to it and the fries were deep fried perfectly. It was delicious and with an icy Coke, it was just what the doctor ordered to relax after a long walk. From West 80th to West 84th Streets would have to wait for another day.
At the end of the week, I made another trip to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen and was assigned to the Prep Kitchen and before finishing the rest of the neighborhood, spent my morning prepping vegetables and cutting chicken breasts for the next days meal. (I saw on the chart the next week that we did over 800 meals that next day. I must be doing something right).
I started my walk by the American Museum of Natural History at 200 Central Park West and walked around Theodore Roosevelt Park, which is located at the back of the museum. This small well-landscaped grassy shade park is managed by a partnership between the Museum, The New York City Parks Department and the Friends of Roosevelt Park. This is a nice place to relax on the benches under the shade trees or just walk through the pathways. The former President would have loved this if he had seen it today. It was my ‘go-to’ spot when I was walking the rest of the Streets between West 80th and 84th Streets.
Theodore Roosevelt Park behind the American Museum of Natural History
What I found interesting in the history of the park is that it was originally part of Central Park and became of the museum when it was created in 1877. The park became ‘Theodore Roosevelt park in name in 1958 with the statute that was dedicated to our 26th President. In later years, namely the troubled times of the 70’s the park was in disarray and the Friends of Theodore Roosevelt Park was created in 1993, who help maintain the park in partnership with the NYC Parks and the Museum.
After leaving the park, I walked down West 80th Street and stopped at Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway and stopped in the Café Zabar (See Review on TripAdvisor) for a snack. For $1.00, they had a special on specialty croissants and I indulged in a Ham, Egg and Cheese Croissant, which made a great snack and I highly recommend stopping when they have specials or for their chicken soup which looks so good. Also when it is one special, don’t miss their homemade pizza. The place is the local hangout for older Upper West Sider’s and they made themselves known to me when I tried to sit in their seat.
Take time to walk around Zabar’s to see their bakery, cheese and prepared food departments. It is really something. Their selection is really interesting and the smells are wonderful especially in the Cheese Department. The place is packed all the time so expect to bump into people which is part of the fun of shopping there. You could lost in Zabar’s for about an hour.
Some of things that stand out in this area are the stately mansions that line Riverside Drive by Riverside Park between West 80th through 84th Street especially between West 80th-West 81st Street. It is best to see them from the park side. They are disrupted by apartment buildings on some blocks but the ones that remain are being renovated back to their original glory.
Riverside Park by the beginning of April was beginning to show signs of Spring and I saw more flowers coming out and if I was lucky to be in the sun, a bit warmer. Winter lingered late this year and even into April I had to wear a heavier jacket.
The blocks between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West from West 80th to 84th Street is dominated by graceful brownstones and marble homes. Like its neighbors to the north and south, this area by the park is being sandblasted back to life and every time I walk in the neighborhood, I see more scaffolding up around the buildings. There is a uniqueness to each one as you take the time to slowly look at them.
Take time to look at the displays at West 80th Street and Columbus Avenue of the bear statues and flowers by florist, Floris, that is located across the street. This whimsical display shows two bears greeting you with flowers. It changes at each holiday I noticed.
Broadway in this area is getting more commercial but then you need these stores to compliment the neighborhood. It seems that Broadway is becoming the commercial core of the Upper West Side with the chain stores and theaters. What makes it look like the elegant European boulevard that it is is the island between the Avenue. This is landscaped and now coming into full bloom. As the trees and the flowers sprout out with the coming of Spring, the whole effect is just beautiful. This look to Broadway continues down to Columbus Circle.
Don’t miss the unique architecture on West 83rd Street right off Columbus Avenue at 141 West 83rd Street. When really looking at that parking garage you could that the Cedarhurst building was once a stable. Designed by the firm of Thom & Wilson, it was once part of the Cedarhurst Livery Company and was built in 1908, with the horse motifs that decorate it and the horse head that flanks the front of the building. You can see the areas of the building that must have been used for airing the horses out after they were stabled back inside for the night (NYT).
The Cedarhurst Building on the Upper West Side at 147 West 83rd Street
Across the street is the Engine 74 building of the FDNY that was designed by Napoleon DeBrun in the 1880’s. There motif on their building is the dinosaur with the theme, ‘Lost World’. Being so close to the American Museum of Natural History I can see how they play off that.
Also, really look at the Kiosk that is located by Broadway and West 83rd Street, which was built in the 1960’s as an information center for the neighborhood, which is now landmarked and is used to display local art. Artist Gregory Sanger was showing his work and it must have been very popular as there was a note left by someone not to steal the work as a piece was missing. Through its history, this kiosk has displayed the goings on in the neighborhood for over 50 years and has become a focal as well as vocal point to the residents.
When walking down West 84th Street I came across the plaque at 215 West 84th Street, Eagle Court which stands on what was once the home of Edgar Allan Poe’s farmhouse that was located between Broadway and 84th Street. The plaque noted that this is where he wrote the “The Raven” (HistoryHomes.com).
I ended my trip to this part of the Upper West Side by visiting the Bard Graduate Center Gallery at 18 West 86th Street (bgc.bard.org and see the review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum@Wordpress.com). I had missed seeing the gallery the first two times to the neighborhood as their hours are different from most of the other museums. Through my affiliation with the Newark Museum, I was able to get in for free and see the special exhibits.
The Bard Graduate Center Gallery at 18 West 86th Street
The Gallery was featuring an exhibition of ‘Bookbinding and the Creation of Books’, which explained why they were so expensive and rare at the time before the printing press and a ‘Balinese Textiles’ exhibition. It is an easy gallery to visit and you will be out in about an hour and a half. It is a quiet place to visit so you will have the galleries to yourself. It makes it more fun so don’t miss this little hidden ‘gem’.
I finished the evening with dinner for a second time at Malachy’s Donegal Inn bar on West 72nd Street, this time having the ‘Turkey Dinner’ platter. I had a nice time that evening talking politics with the other patrons and the sheer cost of living on the Upper West Side when I wanted to get off the politics and talk about all the empty store fronts in the lower 70’s throughout the neighborhood. They were able to give me their opinion on it. The dinner was good and for $8.95, it was some open turkey sandwich. I had to walk back to Port Authority just to work it off.
I have seen so much on the middle part of the Upper West Side and look forward to my next trip in the neighborhood from West 72nd to West 59th Street. There is so much elegant architecture in the neighborhood, so many famous people living here and so many interesting stores, you could visit here many times and not soak it all in. It really opened my eyes to a place I have been visiting for years and never truly experienced the way a local might.
Check out the other walks on the Upper West Side:
Walking the Borders of the Upper West Side day One Hundred and Six:
I took some time out after Soup Kitchen to get some exercise and start my walk of the Avenues of the Upper East Side. I spent the whole morning making lasagnas for lunch the next day and I was tired as it was that afternoon. I ended up walking from 9th Avenue and 28th Street to Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street to pick up movie tickets at the MoMA for that afternoon and then walked to Fifth Avenue and East 72nd Street and walked down to East 72nd Street to re-walk York Avenue from East 72nd Street to East 84th Street and then walk the remaining Avenues. It was turning to twilight when I last walked it and I wanted to see it again. The neighborhood like the rest of Manhattan is changing.
You really are seeing an area in its own transition especially along the Avenues. The side streets have kept their character to a certain point but on the Avenues the old brick buildings and brownstones are giving way to large apartment buildings like its neighbor to the north in the Yorkville, Carnegie Hill and even East Harlem. More and more of the main thoroughfares are becoming large residential buildings.
I started the day first having lunch a small pizzeria called La Crosta Restaurant and Gourmet Pizzeria at 436 East 72nd Street (See review on TripAdvisor) for a slice of pizza ($4.00). I needed my carbs for the walk ahead of me. This small pizzeria has a really nice menu with very fair prices. The pizza is really good and they have a good sauce on the pizza which really makes the pie.
La Crosta Restaurant and Gourmet Pizza at 436 East 72nd Street
I would revisit the restaurant again later the next week to try their meatball sub with mozzarella ($7.95) to see if it would make the cut for my blog, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com (which it has see the review on the site) and was impressed by the sandwich. They loaded the sandwich with homemade meatballs and then loaded with shredded with cheese and finished off in the oven. It was some sandwich.
The lunch specials at La Crosta Pizza are excellent
After lunch, I walked the length of York Avenue. I had really misjudged this part of the neighborhood when really looking at it. When walking York Avenue I started to notice a difference in the architecture once you hit about East 80th Street. The lower part of the avenue is being knocked down and rebuilt while up in the 80’s, you still have a fair amount of small buildings and businesses.
When I crossed over to John Jay Park again for a bathroom break (note this bathroom when walking around the neighborhood. They keep it really clean). I wanted to take another look at the Douglas Abdell statues in the park. They are off to the side of the park in the pathway leading to East 75th Street from Cherokee Place.
Eaphae-Aekyard #2 by artist Douglas Abdell
Really take time to look at the two sculptures. There is a uniqueness to them. It like the way the artist twisted the work to get the geometric forms that he did giving it a juxtaposed pattern.
Kreyeti-Ackyard #2 by artist Douglas Abdell
Douglas Abdell is an American Artist whose work has been seen all over the world. The two statues, Eaphae-Aekyard #2 and Kreyeti-Ackyard #2 use the artists sense of vertical, diagonal and horizontal patterns to create the works (NY Parks System). You really have to take time when in the park to take a look at these two statues and judge for yourself.
First Avenue has a bevy of interesting local restaurants and stores that are concentrated up in the 80’s and while walking up to the upper 80’s, I had to stop by my standby place, Glaser’s Bake Shop at 1670 First Avenue for dessert. You can’t walk around the Upper East Side without coming to Glaser’s (now closed). I love this place!
The now closed Glaser’s Bake Shop at 1670 First Avenue (now closed)
I got one of there freshly baked chocolate chip cookie sandwiches, which was filled with a mocha cream ($3.50) that was out of this world! I think I have been concentrating on this part of town just so that I can visit here. Everything always looks so good.
It was so sad when they closed
Second Avenue is very similar in feel to First Avenue. In the 70’s, there is a lot of change in the businesses to more commercial establishments with the 80’s still being dominated by more local restaurants and shops. The buildings above East 80th Street are still the smaller brick and brownstone buildings holding the local businesses. All throughout the Avenue there are pockets of local stores and restaurants.
Park Avenue between East 72nd and 84th Streets still is an Avenue of quiet elegance with beautiful older apartment buildings and co-ops that line the beautifully decorated gardens that line the median and the fronts of several buildings. There is very little commercial businesses on the street less a flower shop here and a dry cleaner there type of thing. It is a block after block of pre-war buildings that have not changed much except for sandblasting clean the exterior of the outside. In the Spring, Summer and the holiday season, the median is nicely landscaped and decorated.
Madison Avenue is mainly a upscale shopping district that is getting too expensive for its own good. In the lower 70’s, I saw a lot of empty spaces cramped in between the over-priced clothing and jewelry stores. I think the rents are pushing out the first wave of shops that moved here after Fifth Avenue got too expensive. Even the rents here are getting to be too much. I am beginning to see these upscale shops moving to Lexington and even Third Avenues in the 70’s. This is pushing out the mom & pop places that dominate those Avenues. It still is one of the premier shopping districts in Upper Manhattan where many European merchants open.
The stores that are located on the Avenue you still have to be buzzed into and is lined with expensive clothing, jewelry, art and decorative stores with a few boutique hotels and restaurants. In the past few months that I have been walking the neighborhood, I have seen some of them move off and to other locations in the surrounding streets. As the twenty year rents are up, many of the traditional businesses from the 1970’s, 80’s and even the 90’s are giving way to chains or just empty store fronts.
Madison Avenue Shopping District
Fifth Avenue is always a treat. Most of the buildings in the area have not changed and stayed mostly residential. It is lined with elegant marble apartment buildings and some modern day structures. The park is still quiet with the last days of winter slowly becoming behind us. Still on a semi-warm day, there are still kids playing in the playgrounds. I swear, nothing stops these kids. It still is part of the “Museum Mile” and there are smaller gallery spaces and museums.
Fifth Avenue on the Museum Mile
On my second day walking the Avenues, I doubled back to FDR Drive to walk along the riverfront. This is a juxtaposed position. There is no one clear walking path on FDR Drive. The cross over pedestrian bridge is at East 78th Street by John Jay Park and you can cross over to walk along the East River. It was 72 degrees the second day on the walk and it just gorgeous outside. Everyone had the same idea that I had and I saw many people walking their dogs or jogging along the water. The walkway is currently being renovated so it stops around 71st Street.
I doubled back to John Jay Park and walked the remainder of FDR Drive by sidewalk around East 79th Street, with many cars driving by at full speed. The sidewalk ends at 72nd Street at the Con Ed building and I don’t suggest walking any further. There is a slim strip of edge of sidewalk and unless you want to be hit by a car, walk back down East 72nd Street. It is full of guys coming and going for work so it is very busy on this street during the day.
I went back to East 78th Street and went back on the bridge and proceeded to walk up the walkway to East 84th Street to Carl Schurz Park. School had let out by this point and both this park and John Jay Park were loaded with kids for the rest of the afternoon. All of them obviously enjoying the surprisingly warm weather. When walking across East 84th Street, the southern part of the park, I came across a plaque dedicated to Archibald Gracie, whose estate used to be located here and whose family Gracie Mansion is named after (the Mayor’s residence).
Gracie Mansion, the home of the Mayor of New York City
Gracie, who was a merchant and shipbuilder and good friend of John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, had bought the land around what was called “Horn’s Hook” in 1798 and built the wooden home as a county estate. The house had been headquarters for many prominent residents of the city as Gracie’s position changed to include insurance and banking. He had to sell the house in 1823 to pay off debts and it was acquired by the city in 1891. After different uses, it was renovated and now serves as the residence of NYC Mayor and his family.
I walked down East End Avenue and walked all the side streets between East 84th to East 79th Streets where East End Avenue ends. Most the streets have a dead end with a beautiful view of the river the most scenic at East 72nd Street, where you can sit on the benches and just watch the river. Here starts the Weill-Cornell Medical Center so you will be sharing space with many of the hospital workers out on a break. It also offers views of Roosevelt Island (see Day Ninety Five “Walking Roosevelt Island”) especially Lighthouse Park.
Roosevelt Island is wonderful to explore on a warm sunny day
As you walk past buildings along the river, you will see the old sign for the “East Side House Settlement” at East 76th Street, which used to be the home for the establishment which is one of the oldest non-profit social service organizations in New York City. It was founded here in 1891 and moved to the South Bronx in 1962. The building still stands now part of the Town School but the sign still stands as a testament to where it was founded. You can see the sign carved in the stone from the FDR Walkway.
Walking York Avenue, you will pass the same type of construction along the Avenue as the smaller brownstone buildings give way to the larger apartment complexes. There is a little gem off York Avenue at 502 East 74th Street. This small carriage house seems out of place in the neighborhood but has been around since the Civil War. It had been converted to manufacturing in 1892 and most of its existence had been a place of manufacturing. It now has been restored and is now a private residence.
Another building that is interesting is at 450 East 78th Street, a small wooden structure that houses an antique and a blinds store’s that was built in 1910. This small building is relic of a time when this area must have been filled with homes like this. Martine’s Antiques located in one of the stores is a treasure trove of small items and is worth the trip inside. It really stands alone in a neighborhood in constant change.
I followed York Avenue up to 84th Street and crossed down to Third Avenue. Third and Lexington Avenues are very similar in look and in businesses. Third Avenue and Lexington Avenue in the 70’s are really going through a transition as rents are forcing older businesses out. That classic 90’s look of the Avenues is giving way to either empty store fronts or upscale restaurants and shops that should be on Madison Avenue.
Still there are a lot of those businesses hanging that still give it the neighborhood feel and that is more in the low 80’s. One of those businesses is the Lexington Candy Shop at 1226 Lexington Avenue, where I had lunch (See review on TripAdvisor). Founded in 1925, it is a reminder when these type of stores used to dominate New York City until the arrival of McDonald’s in the 1970’s. Even the automate’s gave way by the early 80’s.
I had eaten here several times before and I wanted to know if it was still as good as it once was then. Trust me it is still great and it is a real New York experience to sit at the counter. I ordered a regular burger and a strawberry milkshake, both of which were excellent.
The inside of the Lexington Candy Shop is very unique and old fashioned
The burger was perfectly cooked with fresh lettuce and tomato on the side and the milkshake was made with Basset’s of Philadelphia ice cream, which I have mentioned in my blogs to Philly and is one of the best ice creams on the market. Both the food and service make Lexington Candy Shop a ‘must see’ for out of towners.
Third Avenue especially in the low 80’s still holds onto it classic New York look but I am afraid not for long. It looks like the whole Avenue is giving way to larger apartment complexes and office buildings. Even the traditional shopping district on 86th Street is giving way to all new buildings. Once the home of Gimbel’s Uptown, the neighborhood is slowly going upscale with a new Shake Shack and Brooks Brothers.
Still there are many unique stores in the area. Flying Tiger Copenhagen recently opened at 1286 Third Avenue, which has great novelty items for kids and seasonable gift items. The sad part is that everything seems to be made in China, not Copenhagen. If you like unusual novelty items, this is the place.
Another great store for kids and one of the oldest toy stores in the city is Mary Arnold Toys at 1178 Lexington Avenue. They have a nice selection of commercial toys and novelties. Most of the items you can find cheaper in other stores though but still it is a great store to look around.
For many, the Upper East Side still has the feel that it has always had since the 1960’s and admittingly not much has changed in some parts of the neighborhood particularly around the side streets but massive changes on the Avenues are happening as rows of brownstones and small buildings give way to large apartment and building complexes and along the East River, there is a lot of construction along FDR Drive. Pretty soon that will all be luxury buildings as well.
The Upper East Side can be accessed by Subway on the number 6 or the G line. Go to the G line to see all the artwork.
I started the first day of walking on Father’s Day, June 21, 2015. I thought it was coincidental that the first day of Summer was Father’s Day, so it made the start of my walk even more special. I would have spent this day with my dad doing something special as we always did.
So in the spirit of the day and in memory to him, I started this project, “MywalkinManhattan” exploring the island that we both loved so much. I took the number One subway uptown to Marble Hill, a section of Manhattan that is located on mainland side of the Bronx.
Marble Hill is the northern most neighborhood in Manhattan and has a very interesting history. Marble Hill has been occupied since the Dutch controlled the area. On August 18, 1646, Governor Willem Kieft, the Dutch Director of New Netherland, signed a land grant that comprised of the whole present community. The name Marble Hill was conceived when Darius C. Crosby came up with the name in 1891 from the local deposits of dolomite marble underlying it. Dolomite marble is a soft rock that crops out in the Inwood and Marble Hill communities, known as Inwood marble. This is the marble that was used for the federal buildings in lower Manhattan when New York was the capital of the United States in the 1780’s. (Wikipedia)
After an increase in ship traffic in the 1890’s, the United States Army Corps of Engineers determined that a canal was needed for a shipping route between the Hudson and Harlem rivers. In 1895, the construction of the Harlem River Ship Channel rendered. Marble Hill became an island bounded by the canal to the south and the original course of the Harlem River to the north. The Greater New York Chapter of 1897 designated Marble Hill as part of the Borough of Manhattan. Effective January 1, 1914, by an act of the New York State Legislature Bronx County was created but Marble Hill remained as part of New York County. Later in 1914, the old river was filled in, physically connecting Marble Hill to the Bronx and the rest of North American Mainland. (Wikipedia)
So I took the subway to the Marble Hill-225 Station and started the walk. Who knew while it had been sunny and warm the whole trip into the city from New Jersey and on the trip up that the heavens would open up once I got the subway stop and I would have to run from the subway station to the River Plaza Mall which is around the corner from the subway station. I would spend a half hour at Target looking for a good map of the island. By the time I paid for it, it cleared and was still cloudy. I have to say for an city neighborhood, Marble Hill has the best of the suburbs with many chain stores and restaurants within reach of everyone in the community. There are two malls in the neighborhood, one inside and the other right around the corner from the public housing.
The Train station at Marble Hill
I walked Exterior Street first, which is where the Marble Hill Houses are located. Not much to report but the street could use a good weed wacking. It was so over-grown that you have to walk in the street. The housing in this area is pretty standard with a large complex of buildings with a common yard and playground with benches. Because of the weather, there weren’t many people outside or on the streets.
The Marble Hill Houses are on one side of Broadway
Once you cross Broadway, you have an array of unique turn of the last century homes mixed in with low pre-war apartment buildings. The Victorian style homes that line Jacobus Street and Fort Charles Street have true character and beautiful urban landscaping for the space the homes have for yards. There are all sorts of secret doors and terraces that you can only see from the street and there was a lot of pride in this neighborhood.
Marble Hill Homes are quite unique
From the core of Marble Hill, you would never know that you were in the city. It is good to take time to walk these small streets, especially on a nice day to enjoy flowers and plantings from the sidewalks. Even by the Marble Hill Houses, someone joined in and planted a vegetable garden on raised beds by Broadway. By the middle of the summer, this will be filled with fruits and vegetables to the residents that planted it.
Broadway is the commercial strip on both sides of Marble Hill that continues around the corner of 225 Street by the subway station entrance. For a quick snack, bypass the traditional fast food places in the neighborhood and stop by Taveras Food Center at 5193 Broadway for their Pastilitos (a type of Cuban Pastry similar to Empanada). They make them in both chicken and beef and at a $1.00 they make a nice quick meal while walking around.
Fresh Pastilitos at Taveras Food Center
Walk around the corner with these treats and admire the view of the river at 225th Street or the quirky street paintings by the downtown subway entrance. Even though some people might consider this a nuisance, if you have seen the recent prices for urban art, it might be easier to pull down the wall and bring it to market. You never know when one of these ‘taggers’ may become famous.
Walking down Broadway from Taveras, stop at Rosarina Bakery at 5219 Broadway for a doughnut. Their thickly iced doughnuts are a real treat for a $1.00 and they have a nice selection of other pastries as well. There are all sorts of small businesses along Broadway that cater to the residents of Marble Hill, so take time to explore some of these shops.
Rosarina Bakery in the strip of stores by Broadway
Marble Hill can be walked in a few hours but take time to stroll along the winding streets of the middle of the neighborhood and admire the homes and gardens and take time to walk along the river on 225th Street before taking the subway back to where you are going. The hills and parks are very pretty as the sun goes down.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad with all the love a son could send you!
To get there: take the Number One subway to Marble Hill (you can walk the whole neighborhood in two hours)