One of the nicest events we have as members of the Cornell Club is the walking tours that the club offers during the year. It really does give you an interesting perspective of New York City. I have toured the historic bars and saloons of Lower Manhattan, walked through historic Midtown Manhattan for a Victorian Christmas through the Ladies Shopping Mile, walked through the haunted historic sites of lower Manhattan and toured Chinatown through some of its oldest buildings and then lunch at a local restaurant. I even got to sit next to the gentleman who helped the President of Bloomingdale’s organize the big “China at Bloomingdales” exhibition. Now that was interesting.
The latest tour I went on was the “Secrets of Grand Central Station” tour on a recent Saturday. A group of about 25 of us met at the club to tour Grand Central Station and learn about various points of the history of the building. The tour guide was over an hour late so everyone on the tour got to know one another before we left the club.
When the tour guide arrived, we took the two block walk to the club and started at the staircases as you enter the building at Vanderbilt Avenue.
The Grand Central Terminal is right around the corner from the club
The terminal was not that busy that Saturday morning and we were still able to walk around with no problems. We started the tour at the top of the stairs leading into the Great Hall of Grand Central Station. We were able to admire the room from a distance and all the activity that train travel brings.
As the tour guide explained, Grand Central Terminal was meant to impress a visitor when they arrived into New York City from wherever they were traveling from. You entered the room to see the elegance and vibrancy of Manhattan.
Though splendid in its day, the original Grand Central Depot of 1871 had become a 19th century relic struggling to meet the demands of a 20th century city. Its 30-year-old rail tunnels couldn’t handle the steadily increasing traffic. The building lacked modern conveniences and signaling technology, as well as the infrastructure for electric rail lines. And having been designed for three independent railroad companies—with three separate waiting rooms—the terminal was badly outdated, crowded, and inefficient.
On top of that, the old station no longer reflected its surroundings. In 1870, 42nd Street was still a relative backwater. By 1910, it was the vibrant heart of a dynamic, ambitious, and swiftly growing New York City (Grand Central Terminal History).
The new 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 façade 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).
Grand Central Terminal Great Hall
The architects brought in Parisian artist Sylvain Saliéres to craft bronze and stone carvings, including ornamental inscriptions, decorative flourishes, and sculpted oak leaves and acorns (symbols of the Vanderbilt family.) Playful carved acorns festoon the Main Waiting Room’s chandeliers. The architects specified Tennessee marble for the floors, Botticino marble for wall trim, and imitation Caen stone for the walls (History of Grand Central).
The Great Hall of Grand Central Terminal right before COVID 2020
The view of the Great Hall from the stairs at the Vanderbilt entrance
The Landmarks Preservation Commission protected Grand Central from demolition, but the dilapidated terminal was still ailing. Restoring its former glory required an owner that recognized the station’s beauty and potential, craftsmen able to renovate its battered décor, and strong public support. It also required money. In 1982, Metro-North took over the terminal—now primarily a commuter hub—and launched a four-year, $12 million repair program that stopped further deterioration but didn’t erase decades of decay (Grand Central Terminal History).
In 1990, Metro-North announced ambitious plans to restore the station’s structural, architectural, and decorative glory. Peter E. Stangl, Metro-North’s first president and later Chairman of the MTA, led these efforts. Metro-North’s vision went far beyond simply refurbishing the building. Its master plan reimagined Grand Central as a vibrant shopping and dining destination, reclaiming its role as New York’s town square (Grand Central Terminal History).
The windows and the ceilings of the Great Hall
All the art on the window arches is dedicated to travel. The friezes were dedicated to travel, motion and speed. The theme of the sculptures was travel. The sculptures were designed by Sylvain Salières, who designed many other decorations around the terminal.
Artist Sylvain Salieres was born in France. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He taught at Carnegie Institute as a Professor of Art.
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.
The ceiling of the Great hall shows all the constellations
The ceiling had been designed with the help of a professor from Columbia University who taught astrology. The tour guide told us it was after the completion of the ceiling that the constellations were upside down and backwards (which was also noted in the video as well). Still you can see its magnificence in the details and the fact that it is lit up with lightbulbs to represent the stars.
The dirt on the ceiling
This small spot left in the ceiling in the corner was what was left after they finished cleaning the ceiling and renovating the rest of the terminal in the early 1990’s. Both the tour guide and the video said that this was from years of allowing smoking in the terminal. That was banned in the late 1980’s and early 90’s by both the Giuliani and Bloomberg Administrations.
The windows of the Great Hall which have walkways going across balconies
The tour guide explained to us that the windows were also skyways where people could walk across them. I did not believe it until I looked up and actually saw people walking across the windows. They are actually skylights that are double paned and there are three levels of walkways for people who work in the building to walk across.
The tile ceilings of the “hallways”Whispering Hall” of Grand Hall
In all the years I have been visiting Grand Central Terminal the “Whispering Hall” was the most fascinating part of the tour. You can stand on one side of the hall and hear someone talking on the other side of the room. It was fun testing it out and it really does work.
This remarkable acoustic oddity is caused by the unusually perfect arches, which are a version of Catalan vaults, that compose the gallery. The distinctive tile work in the gallery is known as “Guastavino” tiles, named for the patented material and methods of Spanish tile worker Rafael Guastavino in 1892, whose meticulous work and herringbone patterns can be admired here and elsewhere in the city (Atlas Obscura/Wiki).
The Grand Central Oyster Bar Restaurant inside the main terminal
The Grand Central Oyster Bar was closed that day but is one of the oldest restaurants in the city and was located there for the commuters who came and went from the terminal. It has been there since the beginning.
The chandeliers of Vanderbilt Hall make quite a statement. These were created to show off the new modern technology of electricity which was new back in 1913 when they were installed. The modern light bulb replaced gas lamps and candles of an earlier era. The Vanderbilts wanted to show how progressive they were with the railroads so these were created to dazzle the modern train rider.
The first part of the use electricity with these chandeliers
The vaults and chandeliers on the side of the Great Hall
A combination of soaring ceilings and modern lighting were to show the progress of the rail system and to dazzle customers as they came into New York City. These halls were meant to impress travelers when they entered this part of the Terminal.
The Vanderbilt’s wanted travelers to know that Grand Central Terminal was electrified which was unusual at the time when the building was built. This was very important as they wanted travelers to know that they were in the modern age of travel.
Next we toured the Graybar Passage Way which is part of the Graybar building that is part of Grand Central Terminal. The tour guide noted the very decorative chandeliers that lined the passageway.
The Graybar Passageway of Grand Central
The details of the chandelier in the Graybar Passageway
The mural on the ceiling
The tour guide and the video you can listen to below both explained that this mural was part of the original terminal from 1913. The mural is a bit faded and I had walked these hallways before and never noticed it. It is a depiction of train transportation. The video said that at the time murals should represent what the building was all about (Grand Central Terminal Video). I thought that was very interesting. It is very easy to miss.
The Food Court
We took a quick tour of the Food Court area in the lower level and some people had to go to the bathrooms. This is one of the many money making parts of the terminal and the profits help with the continuous renovation and upkeep of Grand Central Terminal. Since COVID, this are is still not at 100% of what it was pre-COVID but is still slowly making its way back. It has a lot of popular restaurants that are convenient to commuters, tourists and office workers alike.
The Food Court like most of the retail spots in the Terminal was created to bring in income for the renovation and upkeep of the Terminal. We headed back up the ramps to the main room and headed up the ramp and out the door. We stopped first in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Foyer. This was dedicated to the former First Lady.
The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Foyer leading to East 42nd Street
Notice the lamp in the shape of an acorn. This was part of the Vanderbilt coat of arms. The coat of arms symbolized “from an acorn a mighty oak will grow”.
This entrance way was dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who with members of the Municipal Art Society and the City helped save this treasured building. With the recent destruction of Penn Station, the former First Lady lent her celebrity to helping save and preserve Grand Central Terminal.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis with Bess Myerson and Ed Koch in front of Grand Central (The Attic 2020) trying to save this landmark
Grand Central was symbolic of old Manhattan, a city her grandfather, James T. Lee, had helped build (highlights include 740 Park Avenue). Onassis also cared about historic preservation, having restored the White House to its former glory and saved Washington’s Lafayette Square from being replaced by ugly government office buildings in the early 1960s (Bloomberg 2013).
She was the star of a press conference in Grand Central’s Oyster Bar. “If we don’t care about our past we can’t have very much hope for our future,” she said into a bank of microphones over the din of flashbulbs popping. “We’ve all heard that it’s too late, or that it has to happen, that it’s inevitable. But I don’t think that’s true. Because I think if there is a great effort, even if it’s the eleventh hour, then you can succeed and I know that’s what we’ll do.” (Bloomberg 2013).
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Plaque in the foyer
This entrance was dedicated to her for all her work in preserving the building for future generations.
When we walked outside, the tour guide pointed at the grill work that surrounds the building. I never really thought of it because I had never looked at it before. All over the grill work is tiny acorns and leaves, the Vanderbilt coat of arms that was created by Alice Vanderbilt. They were all in the details of the grill work. This was a symbol of the Vanderbilt’s influence at that time.
The Grill Work on the outside of Grand Central Terminal
The Acorn Coat of Arms of the Vanderbilt family
Acorns and Oak Leaves are all over the Terminal as a symbol of the Vanderbilt family and the lasting of the family business. Within one generation the railroads and the family fortune would be gone.
The Statue of Mercury and the famous Grand Central clock “The Glory of Commerce”
There is a true beauty to the statuary and stone carvings on the outside of the building. Each of these were done by different artists. Some of the statuary was taken from the original railroad terminal such as the statue of Commodore Vanderbilt and the Eagle statues on both side of the front of Grand Central Terminal.
The Commodore Vanderbilt Statue
The statue was designed by artist Ernst Plassman a German born American artist who moved to New York in 1853. The artist studied under many famous artists in Europe before founding the “Plassman’s School of Art” in New York City in 1854.
The Eagle statues were taken from the previous terminal.
They are two of the 11 or 12 eagle statues that ornamented the terminal’s predecessor, Grand Central Station. In 1910, when the station was demolished to build Grand Central Terminal, the eagles were dispersed throughout the city and New York State (Wiki). These two statues now are located on both sides of the Terminal. This eagle was returned to the Terminal in 2004.
The Eagle Statue on the outside of the front of the Terminal
The Vanderbilt Eagle plaque in the Vanderbilt Plaza
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 Railroad.
The new Grand Central Madison Avenue Concourse:
The Grand Central Madison Avenue is a brand new terminal that is situated deep underneath Manhattan’s East Side. In the next few months, 296 LIRR trains per day will be rolling in and out of the terminal. This will mean more frequent train service to Long Island and better access to the East side of Manhattan.
The project was first proposed back in the 1960’s and then began in the 1990’s. After 25 years, the project was finally finished with an 11 billion dollar price tag. The project delays were because of budget cuts, 9/11, Hurricane Sandy and other issues that the City was dealing with over the last forty years. The terminal finally opened fully in March of 2023 (Tour Guide/Wiki).
This is the new Madison Avenue Concourse to the Madison Avenue Terminal
In the lower terminal, steel and glass creates a sleek, modern feel. As passengers rise toward the 350,000 passenger concourse and street level, however, visual references to Grand Central’s Beaux-Arts style will create a smooth transition to the century-old landmark above. The Grand Central Madison Terminal provides eight new miles of track to connect Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal. Transportation efficiency meets energy efficiency! Green design at the new LIRR concourse and terminal will combine maximum comfort with minimal power and water use (Grand Central Terminal History and tour guide).
The new artwork that dots the terminal and all the hallways is just beautiful. Many artists were commissioned to decorate the new rail terminal. These glass mosaics decorate the halls and subway entrances to the new part of the terminal.
Kiki Smith is a West German-born American artist whose work has addressed the themes of sex, birth and regeneration. Her figurative work of the late 1980s and early 1990s confronted subjects such as AIDS, Feminism and Gender but her most recent works concentrate on the human condition and how it relates to nature. She studied at the Hartford Art School and is a member of Collaborative Projects, an artist collective (Wiki).
Further down the hall, we were greeted by this delightful and whimsical wall of surrealist images of happy and playful pictures. These engaging images were by artist Yayoi Kusama.
The artwork on the hallways of the new terminal area by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama “A Message of Love, Directly from My Heart unto the Universe 2022”
“The other part of the artwork”A Message of Love, Directly from My Heart unto the Universe 2022” . The other side of the piece.
Artist Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese born artist who studied at the Kyoto School of Arts & Crafts and is known for her installments and sculptures but also works in film, performance art and fashion among other mediums and is known for influence in ‘Pop Art’ . She is currently the most successful living female artist in the world and is still going strong in her early 90’s. She currently is working on a second line of merchandise with Louis Vuitton (Wiki/Artist Bio).
Please watch the video of Yayoi Kusama
On the lower levels at each subway platform entrance, there is a new piece of art by Artist Kiki Smith, who continues to show here creativity in a series of local points of nature as she interprets it. Each work of art has a different theme and use of creativity and color.
The artwork at each track entrance “The Sound” by Artist Kiki Smith
The artwork at the track entrance “The Spring” by Artist Kiki Smith
The artwork at the track entrance “The Presence” by Artist Kiki Smith
The artwork at the track entrance “The Water’s Way” by artist Kiki Smith
“I made images from nature that hold affection and personal significance to me as I hope they will for others,” Smith said. “I am very honored to be included in the tradition of artists making work for the MTA, particularly as I have rarely had the opportunity to make something that lives within the public realm.” (6SqFt 2023)
We finished our tour at the last piece of artwork and then made our way back to the Cornell Club. I stayed for a half hour taking more pictures around the terminal and admiring the architecture one more time now knowing its history in more detail. It is amazing to walk around a building your whole life and never really know its history or its details. It was a wonderful tour.
The new modern entrance is now open for business and people can enjoy these wonderful pieces of art created for them to enjoy on their way to their trains and subways.
Grand Central Terminal at night
When I left for the evening, I got to see Grand Central Terminal at night and it really is nicely lit. You get to see the building at its best. It really is a beautiful building.
This was the closest tour I could find online of what I experienced:
Listen to the YouTube video while you are reading the blog. We had the same tour as on this video.
The New Kamboat Bakery & Cafe (or just Kamboat Bakery) is one of the liveliest bakeries in Chinatown. I started visiting the bakery after seeing videos on YouTube mentioning it for a great place to have a snack.
Since then, I have been visiting often after class for their Roast Pork and Cream filled buns, Curried and Pepper Chicken Puffs, Egg Tarts and other bakery delights that I enjoy for lunch and for snacks.
The bakery section at Kamboat Bakery
The selection of baked goods and entrees is extensive and there are all sorts of puffs, tarts and twists filled with sweet and savory fillings including roast pork, hot dogs and even breakfast sandwiches.
Kamboat Bakery also has a selection of rice rolls and entrees over…
The Merchant House Museum, the former home to four generations of the Treadwell family, was built in 1832 and is designed in the late Federal style of brick and marble. When the house was built, elegant Greek Revival style rowhouses of red brick and white marble flanked the tree lined streets of this fashionable residential enclave, known then as the Bond Street Area.
The house was the home of wealthy merchant, Seabury Tredwell, his family and their four servants. Over the next 98 years, the family…
I do not know where time went. One day I am cutting the lawn in 70-degree weather and the next day it is 32 degrees, and everyone is freezing. The weather has been going up and down like a yoyo and everyone is getting sick right before the holidays. Every other day the weather was changing, and this is the way the temperature would be every day for the month of December. One day it is Spring or Fall and the next everyone is bundling up.
Don’t be fooled by all the pictures and activities. There were a lot of late nights, a lot of driving and a lot of arranging to pull the holidays off this year. Teaching three classes and taking four classes in Grad school on top of volunteer work that I was committed to and getting ready for the holidays and all its expectations I had a lot of nights where I did not go to bed until two in the morning. I would study on busses and in hotel rooms and I never worked like this before in my life. Still it was a Merry Christmas and I consider myself a lucky person to see all these wonderful things.
All I did was run in and out of New York City every week for classes and work. There were so many historical sites that I wanted to visit over the holidays to update previously blogs that every moment of my day was taken up with touring. Still, I enjoyed taking my time to walk to school through Greenwich Village. The residents and merchants here know how to celebrate the holidays.
Christmas in Greenwich Village. I saw this home after class and I knew Santa was on his way
Walking past the train station on the way back to Port Authority was even festive.
With Grad School taking up so much of my time and I just finished all my presentations at Bergen Community College where I work (please see all three Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. projects), it’s now the final project for Grad School and getting ready for the holidays that are taking up my time. It is only two more weeks.
Thanksgiving with my cousins and aunt at the Lambertville Inn
Christmas started for me right after Thanksgiving with my family when the next day we had Christmas Tree delivery for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. We had 390 Christmas Trees delivery and we emptied the truck in one hour. By 10:30am, we sold our first Christmas tree and by the end of the first weekend, we sold 134 trees and 8 stands. We just missed last year’s numbers. It had rained most of Sunday so we missed that afternoon and evening of that day.
Christmas Tree drop off is right after Thanksgiving at 8:00am the next morning
The guys on the Men’s Association after we finished tagging and unloading the trees
Friday was a busy day selling. It often amazes me how many trees sell that first weekend. Last year we sold out in 11 days and people were disappointed that they had to wait. Many said that this year, they arrived early to get the tree they wanted. Even with the rain on Sunday, we did very well and were anticipating another get year (we sold out by December 9th on the morning shift).
My blog on Christmas tree drop off for the Men’s Association:
I knew it was Christmas when my neighbors set out all their decorations
The next evening after Thanksgiving was the Annual Parade and Tree Lighting ceremony in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights. Since we were opening the tree stand and I was on leave from the fire department this year, I did not go. Instead I stayed at the tree stand that evening and sold trees on my first split shift. We sold 44 trees on the first day of sales.
The Christmas Tree at the Circle in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
The Gazebo at the Firemen’s Circle Memorial in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
I have to admit, Thanksgiving weekend and the subsequent week were all about grad school. We would be wrapping up classes in two weeks (classes ended on December 14th) and I had three major papers due, one for each class. With the exception of my Data Analytics class, I had one partner on each paper I really did not know if I could count on so there would be a lot of extra work to do.
Heights Bar & Grill at 163 Boulevard became a place to relax and unwind with a pizza and a drink
Heights Bar & Grill was very festive during the holidays
My post birthday dinner became my pre Christmas/post class dinner
The next weekend was Sinterklaas weekend, and I knew I had to be in Rhinebeck and then Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party that I committed to last month. When you’re on all the Executive Boards of these organizations, you have to be there.
Still on the way back and forth to classes starting from mid-November until classes ended, I enjoyed my walks from the Port Authority to the NYU campus in the Village to admire all the decorations, display windows and Christmas tree setups all over the Village. Even before Christmas started, this section of the City is very traditional ‘Old New York’ and when it is all ready for the holidays it puts you in the Christmas spirit.
Christmas in Greenwich Village really kept my spirits up between classes
Selling Christmas trees in New York City was not difference from us but in prices.
The window displays in the Greenwich Village stores and boutiques were really creative. I loved walking all the side streets to discover what shop owner did that was so different from the others and these are some of my favorites. They really cheered me up as the pressure of the assignments built up.
Window display in the Village after they changed from Halloween to Christmas
Window display in the Village
Window display in the Village
Christmas display inside and outside at Greenwich Village store
More Christmas trees for sale on lower Seventh Avenue
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree was so beautiful both during the day and night. It was so nice to pass every evening I was coming back from class. It really put me in the holiday spirit especially when I was stressed out on my last three research papers of the semester. I took the time to just walk around the park and enjoy the cool air.
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree by day
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree at night
In between classes and work, I had to decorate and get my own house ready for the holidays. I have never worked so hard trying to pull off the holidays with so much going on in my life. Still I thought the house looked very nice. I decorated both the living room and dining room and it looked really festive. It was too bad there was no time for entertaining. That and the fact that everyone else was so busy, it made it impossible to do anything.
I keep it simple but elegant in my house
For years, I used to have a Christmas dinner but with everyone’s schedules and COVID still around, I am finding more and more people don’t want to get together. Again my schedule was no better this December. Still I worked my own “Santa” magic with other things I did for friends, neighbors and family.
From December 1st to the 31st, my feet never touched the ground. From unloading trees for the Men’s Association to watching the ball drop to completing three major projects for my job at Bergen Community College to the three major papers at school, my laptop followed me everywhere and was prominent in each of my hotel rooms as a worked on every business trip for my work with this blog. Who says that life is boring? The fun began as it does every year with Sinterklaas weekend in Rhinebeck.
My blog on Sinterklaas/ The Snowflake Festival weekend in Rhinebeck Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Six:
I had to plan Sinterklaas weekend like D-Day. I had a major presentation on the Metaverse when I returned back on the next Monday night so I had to finish the framework for the paper the Friday night before the parade. I was visiting the Culinary Institute of American to interview one of my old chefs at the college but I was not able to get in touch with him.
Still I was able to leave a message for an appointment and then tour the campus. I forgot how beautiful the campus is and I never saw it during Christmas time. I had been on my Externship my first year at the CIA so I never experienced the holidays at the CIA.
Roth Hall decorated for Christmas
The Christmas tree in the outside courtyard
I did not have any plans that Friday evening and I looked at the papers and saw that there was a Snowflake Festival in Downtown Kingston, NY. So that evening after a nice nap at the hotel, I headed there for the evening. It was just what the doctor ordered. It was a cool but not cold evening full of activities and lots of Christmas decorations and a festive environment.
Downtown Kingston, NY the night of the Snowflake Festival
It was a nice evening of Christmas activities, horse drawn carriage rides, visiting the firehouse, beautifully decorated windows of the local merchants and people just having a good time amidst COVID problems and a bad economy. People ‘needed a little Christmas now’ (Please read the blog below on the Snowflake Festival and the Sinterklaas Parade).
The line to see Santa was impossibly long. I think everyone needed him this year.
The Christmas tree in Downtown Kingston, NY
My homebase for the weekend was the Quality Inn Hotel in Hyde Park, which is becoming a tradition with me. I love the location and the comfortable beds. If you get a room facing the field to the right, you can see the stonewall that lines the property. Plus, they have the best fresh waffle station every morning.
The Quality Inn Hyde Park at 4142 Albany Post Road
Sinterklaas morning was a really gloomy day. Even if the weather outside that morning was gloomy, the spirit of Sinterklaas was in full swing inside the Beekman Arms Hotel for the Opening Ceremony.
The Opening Ceremony at Sinterklaas with Founder Jeanne Fleming and the Pocket Lady
The animal being celebrated this year was the porcupine and this was his home in the courtyard in Downtown Rhinebeck. This wise woman told us his tale.
The “Into the Light” show at the local church
The parade is the highlight of the evening and we lucked out that night as the weather broke by the afternoon. The sun started to come out and it was a much nicer evening with a cool but not cold feel and you could see the stars out on this clear evening. The parade is always exciting especially as we walk down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck.
The parade begins at the Starr Library
The serpents are always a big hit at the parade
The stars always lead the parade down the hill
I marched at the end of the parade so all I saw was everyone’s backs. The crowds were not the same because of the weather that morning but they were still pretty large once we got into the core of downtown. Because of the weather earlier in the day, I could tell we had a more local crowd which was nice because Downtown Rhinebeck can only handle so many people.
All the characters come together at the closing ceremony
I swear that this parade like selling Christmas trees goes by faster and faster every year. I come to Rhinebeck in the Spring and the Summer and it just seems like I am counting the weeks until it starts all over again. After the parade was over, I stopped at Village Pizza for a few slices with the last of the parade stragglers. There were maybe three families eating a late dinner. By the time I warmed up and finished my pizza I walked around the downtown one more time. It was so quiet and peaceful with the exception of the saxaphone player who plays downtown at night. You would have never known there was a parade that night.
My review on TripAdvisor on Village Pizza in Rhinebeck, NY:
After a very sound sleep, I ate breakfast and enjoyed the waffle bar. Then I headed down to Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party that we were hosting at the home. Again, the year seems to go by fast.
The Executive Board the day of the party (I’m third to the right)
Because of COVID, the party is more subdued and families are still not allowed back with any great crowds. Still we had a DJ and Jerry Naylis’s daughter and granddaughters entertained the residents of the home. We really had a nice afternoon.
The Naylis family entertaining the residents
After the party was over, a few of us went the Columbia Inn for dinner. There was only a small group of us this year because again many of the guys were worried about COVID and large crowds. Still we toasted in the holiday season and after dinner, it was right back home to do my homework for school and classwork for my students. It would be never ending for the next three weeks.
The week between Sinterklaas and the next weekend of the Mills Mansion Party and exploring the decorated mansions to update my blogs for work, classes in both schools took a frenzy of activity on. I had to finish papers on the Metaverse and complete my White Paper on the Travel Industry and we started our paper on Mapping the Rockaways. I don’t think I ever went to bed before 2:00am every night for the next three weeks.
The “Dining on the Metaverse” paper required me to run around and interview chefs on the what their thoughts were on the Metaverse. I first went to the Ivy Inn in Hasbrouck Heights and talked with the Chef/Owner Jack. His thoughts on the Metaverse in dining were pretty strong and I needed a second interview so back to the Culinary Institute of America I went to talk to my former Chef at the college. He just happened to reach out to me that week so I stopped in to see him late on Friday.
The Ivy Inn at 268 Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ decorated for the holidays
I had an offer to revisit the Brinckerhoff Homestead the next afternoon before they ran a Afternoon Tea fundraiser to take pictures of the home decorated for Christmas for work and was able to get a last minute invitation acceptance for the Mills Mansion fundraiser, I decided to spend the night again at the Marriott in Fishkill, NY. It would be another long weekend of running around. So I booked a room at the Marriott Courtyard Fishkill, where I had stayed twice before and it would be close to all the sites and headed Upstate.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill at 17 Westage Drive & Route 9
I got up to the CIA before 4:30pm and walked around campus and enjoyed the Christmas lights again. The campus was starting to wind down for the holidays as the students would be leaving for break in a week and a half but the restaurants were busy with weekend reservations and by 4:30pm, I stated my interview on “Dining on the Metaverse” with the last chef I had before I graduated in 1998. I had not seen the guy in almost 25 years. Still he was just as nice as he was when I had him as an instructor and we had a good interview for almost two hours.
The campus was at twilight and it showed its true beauty next to the Hudson River.
The Culinary Institute of America at sunset
The Christmas tree lit at the Culinary Institute of America
We had our interview and it was nice talking with a Instructor that I had a lot of respect for years ago. It was nice of him to meet me after almost 25 years.
My TripAdvisor review on my lunch at the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe:
We bullshitted for the first hour and knowing that I had to be at the Mills Mansion by 6:30pm (the party was only going to 8:30pm), we had to get down to business. We spent the next hour talking about the effects of dining on the Metaverse and what it could do to the business in the future. His thoughts were pretty much the same as the Ivy Inn but it was an engaging conversation and I was able to take notes and write that section of the paper before I left for the weekend. Then it was off to the Mills Mansion for the Masquerade Cocktail Party fundraiser. That got my mind off a lot.
I had not been to a fundraiser here for the holidays since 2018 (COVID and work stopped me from going in the past) and it was a last minute thing I was able to attend. The President of the Friends of the Mills Mansion graciously let me come since it was sold out. I did not get there until almost 7:15pm by the time I left the CIA and got to Staatsburg and then had to park all the way down the hill.
The entrance to Staatsburgh, The Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive the night of the party
I was not too keen on wearing a mask since I had to wear glasses but I still had a nice time. The band was excellent and the singer wore an outfit that looked like it was from the early 1920’s. The food was wonderful and they had nice passed appetizers and wine and champagne to drink. The mansion’s Dining Room was decked out with masks and everyone was dressed to the nines. I had not seen people so dressed up in years. It was so impressive to see how elegant the evening was like something out of the mid-1980’s. No one had dressed up this much in years and it made the whole event feel so festive and special.
The band with the singer with the 1920’s outfit
I was able to catch up to people I had not seen in two years (since the last Afternoon Tea lecture in February of 2020 right before the shutdown) and we had a nice time talking about what had been happening over the last two years. It was a nice evening to get my mind off school and work. I slept so soundly that night when I got back to the hotel.
It was a very elegant party that night
The Mill’s would have been proud of this party
The day after the interview and the party, off I went early in the morning to visit the decorated mansions and take the tours. The Brinckerhoff House was my first stop and I would not be there long because they had a fundraiser at 1:00pm and I promised to be there, take the pictures and leave because they would be busy for the rest of the afternoon. The house looked just as pleasant as it did when I visited it over the summer but the nice part was the fireplaces were going giving that house that winter smell of firewood and pine.
The Brinckerhoff House at 68 North Kensington Drive at Christmas
The house was set up and decorated for an Afternoon Tea fundraiser
The Christmas tree at the Brinckerhoff house
I only stayed for about an half hour as volunteers were showing up to assist with the event and then I was off to my next house which was the Vanderbilt Mansion. This was a big weekend for the decorated homes and I figured I should visit them since I would not have time in the future.
The Vanderbilt tour was booked solid as people had the same idea that I had. I got on the 1:00pm tour and off we went to tour the mansion. I had been there many times before but never to see the Christmas decorations. When I had visited back in 2019, they were taking the decorations down when I got there. By the time we left, most everything on one side of the house was gone. Today though, the mansion was in its full glory.
The Vanderbilt Mansion at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park
The house was tastefully but not over-decorated as Fredrick Vanderbilt and his wife never used the home for Christmas. They were in Manhattan for the Christmas and the beginning of the social season that would last from Christmas to about Easter when everyone would head to their Spring homes in the country or in Florida.
The entrance hall to the Vanderbilt Mansion
The Dining Room set for a formal Christmas dinner
The Living Room with the family Christmas tree
The full tour of the mansion was very interesting and you got to hear the stories of Fredrick and the last years of his life. He simplified matters, sold all his other homes and moved here until he passed away. He wife had died and he stopped the social swirl and concentrated on his job with the railroad.
After the tour was over, the tour guide told me that FDR Estate was having a big Open House that day and that I should head over before they closed at 5:00pm. Myself and pretty much everyone on my tour headed over to Springwood, the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Springwood Mansion at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park, NY
The first floor was decorated as it would have been for FDR and his family’s last Christmas when he was alive. The decorations were taken from old pictures of the house the year that he passed.
The entrance hall of Springwood decorated for Christmas
The library decorated for FDR’s last Christmas
The Dining Room was set for Christmas supper
The mansion again like the Vanderbilt Mansion was tastefully decorated but not overdone. The library had a tree with decorations and the many presents that the large extended family would have opened that day. The Dining Room was set for the family dinner with a children’s table in the back. It would have been a nice family affair.
We got to tour the rest of the house and head back to the Visitors Center for Hot Chocolate and cookies that they set up in the snack shop. That evening around 6:00pm, the Bard College music department was putting on a recital but I had to leave right after the tour as I had a tone of assignments and homework that I had to do for both colleges. At least I was finally able to see both mansions in their full glory at Christmas.
As I left the Vanderbilt and Roosevelt mansions, I passed Downtown Hyde Park, NY which has a small downtown with about two blocks of historical buildings and admired the lights and how the businesses decorated the lights and buildings. I stopped to take a picture of their Christmas tree which was ablaze with lights on this snowy night. It really did look like Christmas.
Downtown Hyde Park, NY
The Hyde Park, NY Christmas tree a block from downtown
I got home early that night to finish my papers on the Metaverse and my White Page on the visitors we had to our Travel Trends class. It was an uphill battle that night and on Monday for both presentations. We got a “B+” on the Metaverse paper and an “A” on the White Page and in both classes I got an “A”. The Mapping project would go on until December 22nd. It would take five revisions and a lot of late nights. We were able to pull out a “B+” on the Mapping paper of the Rockaways right as my own classes were ending.
That last week of school Monday classes ended and after the Tuesday class my classmates wanted to go for an evening of Karaoke. I had papers to grade when I got home so I declined and took a walk up to see the tree and clear my head before heading home.
Christmas in New York City is always a pleasure and with the City opened back up to tourism, it made it exciting again. The anticipation of Christmas in Manhattan is something to experience if you have never done it before. It all started for me when I declined a karaoke night with my classmates and went to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. I just needed a walk after my Data Analytics class. It had been a rough semester. Just seeing the tree put me in the Christmas spirit.
The Tree as we call it in Rockefeller Center December 2022
I walked around Midtown along Fifth Avenue, looking at Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows, admiring the lights and looking at the skyline. I forgot how beautiful this area of the City is at night. It was a mild Tuesday night when I was walking around and there were not too many people around. the tourists had not arrived in full swing yet. Being a Tuesday night, it was relaxing being able to walk around the Rockefeller Center area without the crowds.
The side streets were particularly elegant
West 58th Street in its glory
The Plaza Hotel in all its glory that night
I saw this playful sculpture along with others on Fifth Avenue but it was near my old haunt FAO Schwarz
This was the best display window at Bergdorf-Goodman on Fifth Avenue
Still what stood out to me on that glorious evening was the beauty of Midtown Manhattan at night. Even though it was still early in the evening, it might have well been 11:00pm because the streets were so quiet that evening. This is why I love Manhattan.
The beauty of Midtown Manhattan at night
The Plaza Hotel and Bergdorf-Goodman shined that evening
This little trip to Midtown after class really cheered me up. It had been a long semester and I needed this little Christmas break from school. It really put me into the holiday spirit. On my way back to Port Authority to head home, I passed the New York Public Library on my way through Bryant Park to see the Christmas Village
Outside the New York Public Library where the lions were decorated for the holidays.
As the school year ended at Bergen Community College and classes were wrapping up, I was getting tired of giving the traditional quizzes so for Quiz Four I gave all three classes from Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. The students were asked by Corporate to arrange the company Christmas Party. They were asked to create the Invitation, the menu with an appetizer, main dish, dessert and a signature drink.
Then were asked to create a Christmas Corporate message and two classes were asked to create an original Christmas song. It is amazing what a group of students can accomplish in an hour. Everyone in all three classes got an “A” and I did not have to drag home quizzes to grade. I will remember this quiz in the future.
The Paramus Business 101 Team’s idea for the Corporate Christmas Event
The Marketing 201 Team’s Ideas for the Corporate Christmas Event
The original Christmas song from the Marketing 201 Team for the Corporate Christmas Party
The ideas that the students came up with in ONE HOUR were just fantastic. This is why I love being a College Professor when you can get this type of creativity out of your students.
This Christmas message won the competition from my Business 101 Lyndhurst Team
As we put the revisions to the Mapping paper for my Data Analytics class and I prepared the final exams for my students and graded my other classes work, I planned another trip to the Hudson River Valley to visit the rest of the decorated mansions on my list and update all my blogs for work. This was a long and very productive weekend. It would be capped off with a last minute Historical Christmas concert at the Bergen County Historical Society. I had not been to one of these in three years.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill is where the adventure began. I revisited Staatsburgh (The Mills Mansion) and Wilderstein and then on Saturday I went to the Meiser Homestead in Wappinger Falls for their Holiday Open House. I had to time everything perfectly because I had to be in Manhattan for a Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall at 8:00pm. I timed everything perfectly.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill was decorated nicely for Christmas
The Marriott did a nice job decorating the hotel for the holidays
I started my trip on a snowy Friday afternoon (it was funny that the weather was just cloudy down by us) and I made it for my 11:00am appointment to see Staatsburgh. I had been to the Mills Mansion fundraiser the week before but the whole house was not open that evening and I had only been there for an hour. Now I was able to tour the house at my leisure. I was even interviewed for the local papers by a woman who was doing an article on the decorated mansions of the area.
I returned to Staatsburgh on snowy cold afternoon so the mansion was pretty quiet for touring. There were only two people on the walking tour of the mansion that afternoon. The roads up to Hyde Park were not the best.
Staatsburgh-The Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive on that snowy afternoon
It was nice to tour the house in peace and quiet. The party the week before had been a lot of fun but you could not see the rest of the house. All the rooms were so beautifully decorated, and the Dining Room was decorated to the hilt with masks, the theme of the party the week before. Since there was only two of us touring around, I got interviewed by the local paper by a reporter doing the same thing I was doing, visiting these beautiful homes. Visit my blog, VisitingaMuseum.com to see all my stories on my visits to these beautiful mansions.
The article on The Mills Mansion:
Then it was off to Wilderstein
Wilderstein at 330 Morton Road in Rhinebeck, NY on that snowy afternoon
My last stop that evening was to Woodstock, NY. I had planned to come this year for the parade but with my brother coming in for Christmas that changed my plans. I figured this was the last time I was going to be able to come up before the holidays. So I braved the slush and snow and drove the long roads up to Woodstock. It never disappoints me.
The Village Square at Woodstock, NY during the holidays
The Woodstock, NY Christmas tree is always interesting
After dinner, I slept so soundly at the hotel again. The Marriott Courtyard in Fishkill, NY is in the perfect location with Route 84 and the mountains right behind it. Easy to get to the highway home but still the best views when you wake up.
The amazing view from my hotel room at the back of the hotel facing the mountains
I had to rush to go on the 10:30am tour of Locust Grove, the former home of Samuel Morse, that I wanted to photograph before I left for the Meiser Homestead. There was not time to eat this morning. Thank God I had some baked goods in the hotel room.
The Christmas tree in the formal Living Room in the Tower section of the home
The Dining Room at Locust Grove at Christmas
The Billiards Room at Locust Grove at Christmas
I toured the whole house in our private tour at 10:30am. There were so many people on the tour, they called a special docent in to run the tour and we had the house to ourselves. Ehtel lead the tour and we took time to enjoy each room. Then it was off the Meiser Homestead for their Open House.
The Mesier Homestead at 2 Spring Street in Wappingers Falls, NY
The Foyer at the Meiser Homestead decked out for the holidays
The Living Room with the Christmas tree
The Dining Room set for Christmas lunch
Downtown Wappingers Falls during Christmas
The Wappingers Falls Christmas tree in the downtown
After I returned home from the Meiser Homestead Open House, it was change clothes again and into the City I went. I did not have much time to do anything in the evenings when classes were going on at NYU so after the semester was over and my third class was finished for the semester at Bergen Community College, I got a last minute ticket to see NY Pops at Carnegie Hall with singer Ingrid Michaelson. What a concert!
I had not been to Carnegie Hall since 2019 in pre-COVID and this always is a tough concert to buy tickets for but I snagged a Saturday night ticket in Row H on the aisle (I have long legs) and it was fate.
The entrance to Carnegie Hall at 57th and Seventh Avenue on the night of the concert. Our concert is to the left.
The inside of Carnegie Hall decorated for the holidays. The crowds were getting settled into the theater.
The stage at Carnegie Hall decorated for Christmas
The excitement built when I entered the hall and it was all decked out for Christmas. It was a site to see. The surprising part was how casual everyone was dressed for the evening. I was really thrown by this especially at the holidays. My seatmate was also dressed to the nines and she made the same comment. She introduced herself and I thought it was funny that a recently married woman would come to the show by herself but there we were acting like two single people.
The beauty of the stage that night just as the NY Pops members started to come on to the stage
Ingrid Michaelson and her fellow singers on stage
The whole concert was amazing and Ingrid Michaelson was fantastic that evening. What I thought was funny was the end of these concerts end with a sing along with Santa on stage and that did not happen this time. She ended the show with one of her signature songs. Maybe her Friday night concert had that. Even though, the concert was excellent and I shared the two songs below that were my favorite from the show.
This was my favorite song from the concert “Christmas Valentine” a new classic. This was written by both Ingrid Michaelson and Jason Mraz who performed it that night on stage.
The other great song from the concert was “Christmas Time is Here”:
“Christmas Time is Here” by Ingrid Michaelson
Even though it was a almost a two hour concert, it just seemed to end very quickly. After the concert was over, I just exploring the area around Lincoln Center. What a beautiful evening it was right before Christmas. People were talking in the local parks, admiring the Christmas lights in trees all over the neighborhood. Christmas tree stands were running in full force as people were decorating their homes on top of the their busy schedules.
Christmas tree sales by Carnegie Hall
For both lunch and dinner I returned to Amore Pizza cafe at 370 West 59th Street, which is down the road from Carnegie Hall. I swear that their food is the best.
I stopped in for a slice of Meat Lovers Pizza which was more than enough before the show and after the show I was still hungry. I went back and had a Chicken Parmesan Hero, which was good but it had been made from chopped fried chicken breasts instead of a freshly fried breast. It was good but not as good as the pizza was that night. After dinner, I just walked around Midtown and down Fifth Avenue admiring the windows.
The Meat Lovers Pizza at Amore Pizza Cafe is excellent
The weekend was not finished yet as I had an early morning walking tour of the Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow and then I had a Christmas concert at the Bergen County Historical Society in River Edge. Since I had to extend my leave with the fire department, I missed the first “Santa Around Town” in eighteen years. This on top of the fact that I was supposed to run it. With my work and college schedule, I had to ‘cry uncle’ and give it up which really disappointed me. I had some really good plans for it. In the end only thirteen guys showed up out of fifty and they had a fire call before the event ended. Thank God it was just a block chimney.
I left for the last day walking tour of the Philipsburg Manor before the house closed for the season. I was on the last walking tour of the house. Since the house was not insulated and the weather gets bad for the winter, the house will not open again until April. So I was hoping to get some picture taking in and see the decorations. The house was not decorated for the holidays but still the tour was interesting.
The Philipsburg Manor house 381 North Broadway in Sleepy Hollow, NY
The tour was about an hour and we had indoor and outdoor activities that we got involved with cooking hardtack, touring the house and grounds and helping in the barn beating out the wheat seed. When the actors who worked at the site (who must have been freezing their butts off because it was cold that morning) told us and demonstrated the work that had been done on the estate, this was hard work! This was a working farm and business transport spot, not where a family lived and entertained. When Mr. Philips was on property, he was here for business and nothing else. The staff ran this farm.
Us making Hardtack at the outdoor oven
Our visit to the barn where were loosening the wheat seeds. This poor woman was out there all morning in the cold!
The tour was about an hour and I thought that the house would have had some Dutch Christmas decorations but again the tour guides and historians said that the house for business and visiting not for the day in day out lives of the family. Still it was interesting. After our tour finished, I toured the gift shop and then headed home to get ready for the concert.
The Bergen County Historical Society at New Bridge Landing brought back their indoor concerts for Christmas including opening the Blackhorse Pub (The Campbell-Christie House) for dinner before and after the concerts. It was so nice to come to this again. The crowds were a little light at the second concert at 7:45pm on a Sunday night but it made it more fun that we could still socially distance from each other and there was plenty of space to spread out.
I started the evening early at the pub eating my dinner before the concert. The pub had a limited but very nice menu based on what foods that may have been served at the time period (with a modern twist of course). There was Shepard’s Pie, a Ploughman’s Plate, Onion Pie, Trifle and Dutch Cookies and desserts on the menu..
The Campbell-Christie House at 1209 Main Street in River Edge, NJ at the Bergen County Historical Society
The Campbell-Christie House was used as the “Blackhorse Tavern” for the evening where pub food could be ordered for dinner. It was really beautiful that night with all the tables a glow from the candles and the room decorated with holly, garland and wreaths for the holidays.
The Blackhorse Tavern for dinner
After dinner was over, I had plenty of time to explore the gift shop and wonder around the property to see the other decorations. The other buildings on the property were closed that evening but still decorated so I followed the lantern filled pathway and looked at the decorations.
Before the second concert that evening that I would be attending at 7:45pm I wondered around the museum part of the Steuben House where the concerts were taking place. The exhibits were set up with a holiday/Christmas theme in mind. One display was on a candy maker who once had a store in Downtown Hackensack.
Bogert’s Candy Shop in Downtown Hackensack closed in 1934
Decorating the house both during the Revolutionary War and during the Victorian Age was a very extensive affair of preparing the house for entertainment. Garland, holly and pine would have been important to decorate with but it was the Christmas ornaments of the Victorian age and trimming trees with ornaments that would have made the tree very festive.
There were also displays on entertaining during that time period and soldiers lives while the war was going on and what would be needed. It could be lonely at the holidays.
We started to settle in as the second concert was about to start. The room was decorated for the holidays with a combination of Victorian and Revolutionary decorations.
The ballroom at the Steuben House
We were then treated to a concert by the great Linda Russell whose interpretations of Revolutionary Christmas songs is well known. We had a hour long concert of favorite songs, talks about the times and a history of the music itself. She shared with us her insights towards the holidays of New Jersey versus New England and their Puritan ways. Thank God we knew how to party then too.
Linda Russell (to the far left) and her group entertained us for the evening with songs, talks, a few jokes and a wonderful night of excellent music.
We were entertained for about an hour and got time during the intermission to talk with the musicians who shared their experiences with us and about the musical equipment that they were using that evening. It was an interesting talk and a wonderful concert. I highly recommend visiting the Bergen County Historical Society during this time of the year. They do a nice job with this concert and the site is so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holiday season.
Before my the last day of classes at Bergen Community College on December 22nd, I made one last trip into the City before I left for my mother’s. The house had to get cleaned and the laundry had to get done and I got all my errands done before I left. I just wanted to walk around and get my mind off both colleges. It had been a long semester and I was burnt out. The City could not have been more beautiful.
Christmas on Park Avenue
Park Avenue was lined with Christmas trees lighting up before it got dark
Homes on the Upper East Side were beautifully decorated for the holidays
Homes on the Upper East Side were decorated so nicely and some blocks there seemed to be a competition for whose house was nicer.
I went to Rockefeller Center one more time to see the tree and it was like a madhouse so I just looked at it from across the street and continued walking around the Upper East Side down to the Cornell Club where I relaxed for a bit before I went home. People would start taking their decorations down after the holidays and I wanted to take one more glimpse of the neighborhoods before that happened.
The Empire State Building from the Flatiron District
Christmas Eve morning, I visit the cemeteries and pay my respects to my family before I leave for my mother’s. I think it’s important to pay your respects. After fighting the crowds at Mills Bakery on Christmas Eve morning to get a Seven Layer Cake and breakfast cakes and doughnuts for the next day, I left for Rehoboth Beach. I swear the roads were really quiet and it was the first time that I got down to my mom’s in three and a half hours.
Mills Bakery at 275 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ had the most festive cakes, pies and cookies for the holidays
I had just seen my mother in September after the Firemen’s Convention but this was the first time since 2019 that we had spent Christmas together. COVID has really wreaked havoc on the holidays.
Christmas Eve and Day were spent at my mom’s which we have not done since the pandemic. It kept us away and it was strange not having a family get together for three years. It was nice to get together as a family again. On Christmas Eve, we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and the place was a madhouse.
My review on TripAdvisor of Confucius Chinese Restaurant:
Even with all the crowds, it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the meal and not have to do anything. I slept so soundly that night knowing that I did not have to be anywhere for a month.
My mother really decorated the house beautifully.
The House at Christmas.
Jane set the table so elegantly.
Cooking this year like in 2019 is now a family affair. My Mom relinquish some control of the kitchen over the last couple of years as dinner was getting to be too much for her to do alone so we all help now. My brother and I coordinate the schedules and plan the menu with my mom and we each did part of the meal and cooked it. This is what the Team work produced:
The Appetizers and Desserts being prepped for dinner:
Mom should be hired by Nancy Meyers to do visuals for her films.
The Potato Croquettes that I prepared for dinner, the Broccoli Casserole and the homemade Apple Pie my mother prepared for dinner (my mom makes the best pies).
We were all getting ready to cook our portion of Christmas Dinner.
My mother preparing the Sauteed String Beans
Me preparing the Potato Croquettes (which by the way were a big hit I think I look like a French Chef).
My brother getting the Roast carved before the start of dinner.
My Mother with the final Christmas dinner that was the Team effort
Christmas Dinner 2022 and everyone loved it! The dinner was Roast Fresh Park, Potato Croquettes, Apple Sauce, Broccoli Souffle and Sauteed String Beans.
The Desserts were Homemade Apple Pie and a Seven Layer Cake that I brought from Mills Bakery. My brother also made all the Christmas cookies.
My family on Christmas Day after dinner (minus my younger brother and his kids).
We had such a nice time with my mother and her friends at dinner and it was a nice quiet and mellow Christmas. It was what I needed after a long school year.
The day after Christmas while my brother headed to New York City, I took the ferry from Lewes to Cape May to spend the night and admire all the decorations all over town. I only spent one night in Cape May but with how relaxing, beautiful and quiet it was that evening I felt like I had been there for a week. I always say in my blogs that the only town to rival Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas is Cape May, NJ.
I took the ferry the next day from Lewes, DE to Cape May, NJ and thank God the weather was nice. We had really light waves and the trip went by really quick. We got into Cape May in a little over an hour and a half. Since I did not have to check into my hotel and it was getting late, I decided to head over to Sunset Beach and watch the sun set. That really relaxed me. In any weather, I swear the beach is always full of people doing the same thing. It was relatively warm that day and when I got to the park, people were playing miniature golf at the little range they have there. I thought that was amusing.
The sunset was fantastic! The weather had really cleared that evening and the colors were so entrancing.
The sun preparing to set that night
The hues at Sunset Beach make this place very special
I just stayed until it got a bit dark and then I headed to the hotel. I stay at the Chalfonte in the winter time in their Souther Quarters (the regular hotel is not insulted and closed until May) and I always enjoy the rooms with their cheery shabbiness and the way the place is always decorated for the holidays. You have to like these old hotels.
The Southern Quarters at the Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street
I have been coming to the hotel for Christmas for the last several years and last year when COVID again shut things down for Christmas, I stayed here while visiting my younger brother in Rehoboth Beach when he came for a visit. I love Cape May at Christmastime.
The hotel has that festive home away from home feeling with poinsettias around the hotel, Christmas candies and chocolates at the front door and Christmas lights around the building.
I like the shabby chic of the place
My room was really nice and the bed was so comfortable
The room has just been renovated but still had a water spot on the ceiling. That is the charm of the Chalfonte. It reminds you that it is an old hotel. I ventured out to the downtown and the Washington Mall that evening to see the true magic of what makes Cape May a Christmas town. All the lights, trees and decorations make sure that Santa does not miss this town.
The town square with it’s Christmas tree in the bandstand and white lights all over the little part are whimsical and magically as you walk through them. It always reminds me of “Whoville” in the “Grinch that stole Christmas”.
Cape May Town Square at Christmas
The bandstand and Christmas tree are amazing at night
The Cape May Christmas tree
I spent a good part of the my evening admiring the lights of downtown and of Washington Mall which is the downtown section of Cape May. The whole neighborhood was ablaze with lights, decorations and beautiful Christmas displays in the windows. Cape May knows how to decorate for the holidays.
The Washington Mall at night
The Washington Mall in Cape May decorated for the holidays
Our Lady of the Star Sea Church at 525 Washington Street in Downtown Cape May
After a long walk picture taking everything in the downtown from every angle (I have pictures that I ended up using for other sites), I went back to the room to relax. I just sunk into the pillows and went out like a light. I woke up two hours later and got to bed. I slept so soundly again.
The next morning was rested and ready to go. I had my usual post-Christmas game plan. I started with breakfast at the Mad Batter, a local well known restaurant in Cape May and the food is always excellent. I have eaten here several times and I highly recommend it.
The food and the service are always very good. That morning there seemed to be only one waitress on the floor and I swear that this woman handled the dining room like a pro. The service was flawless and she never panicked.
The Bacon and Cheese Omelet with home fries was outstanding
After breakfast was over, I gathered my things at the hotel and dropped off my keys and then spent the afternoon visiting historical sites. Most everything I was surprised were closed so I took exterior shots to update my blogs.
While walking downtown, I saw that Our Lady of the Star Sea, the Catholic Church in the Washington Mall was having service at 11:00am. Since I did not go to church services on Christmas Eve or Day, I went in for the post-Christmas services. I was surprised how crowded they were that morning. I found out that a young new priest has just come from the seminary and started that day. I found him very inspirational and very enthusiastic.
The church was so beautifully decorated for the holidays
Our Lady Star of the Sea for the Christmas holiday season
After church services were over, I toured around Cape May. I had a noon time appointment at the Physick Mansion to see their Christmas decorations so I stopped at a few of the museum around the downtown area but again all closed.
The Physick Mansion tour at the holidays I have taken many times and it is one of the nicest homes decorated for the holidays. Many people would not have decorated every nook and cranny of the house the way this is but like Locust Grove, it gives you an idea of how the Victorians celebrated the holidays.
The decorations were amazing and the house was decked to the hilt for the Christmas holidays. We got to tour the entire house and every room has such festive garland and Christmas trees. The family seemed to know how to celebrate the holidays.
The Living Room at the Physick Estate
The Dining Room
The Parlor with the ‘Tabletop’ Tree in the corner
We went room by room with the tour guide explaining how the family would prepare for Christmas and the preparations that would have to be done by the staff for guests and for the family dinner. There would be many trips to Philadelphia department stores for gifts for the family. You felt on the tour that the family had just left for the day.
After the tour, I headed over to West Cape May to see the Cape May Lighthouse and was surprised that it was open that day. With everything else being closed, it was a treat to be able to climb it again. The drive in was nice as people decorated their homes nicely and being a warm day around 50 degrees (Christmas just seems to be getting warmer), I drove around for a bit to admire them.
The entrance to the Borough of Cape May Point decked for the holidays
The outdoor Christmas display in West Cape May
The Cape May Lighthouse and grounds were really busy with visitors and being such a warm day many were walking on the beach or admiring the park. Several passed me as I climbed the lighthouse which I had not done in a few years. The view on this clear sunny day was great.
The views from the top were so clear and beautiful and being so clear you could see the entire surrounding community.
The view from the top of the Cape May Lighthouse
After climbing up and back down, I passed more people who I could not believe were complaining on how hard it was to walk it. I got up in about ten minutes with a couple of stops and then was back down again once reaching the top. It is not that hard and is well worth the trip up.
Watching the time, I wanted to visit the farms in the area but Rea Farm was closed for the season so I headed to Beach Plum Farm, which has become quite the tourist stop since my first trip to Cape May. It is such a picturesque farm but it looks very planned. When I first started coming here is was a more local farm. Now it looks like a gourmet shop and it has gotten more expensive.
The entrance to Beach Plum Farm at 140 Stevens Street
I toured around the gift shop and admired the beautiful displays of gourmet foods. The place was almost empty as I could see that they must have had a very good Christmas. There was some serious restocking that needed to be done.
The wonderful gourmet items at Beach Plum Farm
I ended my afternoon feeding the chickens before I left the farm. God they were so excited to see me. I just had a little feed and they ran all around me like groupies. I guess this is how the farm feeds them. It was the best quarter I spent on the trip.
The chickens were a very excited bunch that afternoon
Before I left Cape May that day for home, I visited Sunset Beach one more time to enjoy the weather. The beach was pretty crowded again as everyone waited to see the sun set again on Cape May. Like I said before, you can see this a hundred times but it is never boring.
Sunset Beach on a warmish sunny day attracts a lot of visitors
From Sunset Beach, I headed home. I stopped for a quick slice of pizza on the way and then I had to leave Cape May (until the next time). There was a lot to do and I had places that I wanted to visit before the holidays were over. I could not believe how much work I got done on this two day trip to Cape May. I got to see a lot.
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I made another trip around the City. Since I did not have to return to classes until the end of January, I was able to take my time and explore around campus and the Village. Christmas was still in full swing.
Christmas in Greenwich Village
Decorations in one of the pocket parks on Greenwich Street
Homes decked out for the holidays
Townhouses decked out for the holidays
I also made a special trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Christmas tree and decorations before the museum took them down after the Epiphany. I love seeing them every year. It still is a big attraction at the museum and you have to visit it before that first weekend in January is over.
The Metropolitan Museum of at at 1000 Fifth Avenue:
My last holiday event before school started again was Epiphany services at the Reformed Church of Paramus and visiting my father for his birthday. It can be sobering but I try to still celebrate his life and going to this church puts me into the Christmas spirit.
The Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, NJ
Christmas services at the Paramus Reformed Church
The Paramus Reformed Church’s decorations by Route 17 are always tasteful
After services were over, I stayed and joined the other parishioners for Tea and snacks after the service and talked with other parishioners. It was nice to sit back after a long holiday season and just relax. After services were over, I went to pay respects to my father for his birthday (which is the reason why I come here for church as its on the way home). The cemetery was filled to the brim with wreaths and grave blankets so even though it was a cemetery, there was still a festive feel to the fact that so many people paid their respects to their families.
My aunt took me out on the last day of the Epiphany weekend for my combination birthday/Christmas present dinner to the Ivy Inn. What a nice evening we had and it was the perfect way to end the holiday season. The Chef/ Owner was not there that day but we were able to discuss with the staff the paper I wrote on the Metaverse. They seemed amused by it all (see my review on dinner on my TripAdvisor review above by the Metaverse paper story).
The Ivy Inn decorated for Christmas
The beauty of the dining room decorated for the holidays
The delicious salad I started with
The delicious Penne with Sundried Tomatoes and Sweet Sausage that I had that evening
My aunt and I shared this wonderful Zeppoles with Chocolate and Raspberry sauces
It was a magical evening with good food and company in a festive environment. I really needed this with all the running around with school, work, blogging and research that I had done from Thanksgiving to the Epiphany. It was a lot for one person to pull off and somehow I managed it all. I am lucky that I have supportive friends and family.
I had the entire month of January to relax before the whole thing began again for Spring Semester and that is all I wanted to do. It didn’t quite happen that way but I finally got time to myself which I needed.
My work for my blogs took me all over New York and New Jersey, visiting small towns, admiring Christmas decorations and supporting many community events. Please visit my other blogs DiningonaShoeStringin NYC@Wordpress.com, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and VisitingaMuseum.com to see all the updates, more detailed stories on the mansions and events and all my updated pictures.
I got my final grades by the end of the semester and it was straight “A”‘s. This was the first time in my life I ever did that! Don’t even ask me how I pulled this all off!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The Empire State Building from the NoMAD section of Manhattan just off Broadway
The Blackwell House on Roosevelt Island finally opened for tours after a major renovation of the house. When I had visited Roosevelt Island the last time in 2017, the house was corded off and was not open for touring. It had looked like it was falling apart from the inside out.
The home has now gone through a major renovation. The grounds outside were beautifully landscaped and gave the house a very warm and welcoming entrance to the property. In the middle of the summer, the flowers and trees were all in bloom and it was a nice view from the street. The house is conveniently located in the middle of the island, so…
There are some neighborhoods in Manhattan that just stand out for their access to parks or to the rivers and others are loaded with historic value who architecture had not changed over the years.
The Flatiron District which was once served as the old Midtown between the Civil War and World War One and “The Ladies Shopping Mile”, where women could shop and engage with one another without a chaperon on Avenues and Streets lined with Department stores, restaurants, movie theaters, tea houses and specialty stores catering to their needs. When you look up at the grand buildings of the district with their large windows and their Beaux-Art designs and decorations, you can see that their purpose was to impress the customers.
I had toured the area around Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street three years earlier for a tour of a “New York Victorian Christmas” and you can see by the architecture that these buildings were meant to last.
These Grand Department Store buildings are the ghosts of their former selves with a shopping district that left them behind and names that have been out of business for over a hundred years (with the exception of B. Altman & Company which closed in 1990). You can still see the beauty and gracefulness that is carved into the stone of these buildings and in some cases still show the name or the initial of the original store owner.
Day One Hundred and Twenty-Eight: ‘Victorian Christmas Tour’
As I started my walk on the borders of the Flatiron District at West 25th Street and Sixth Avenue, there was not much to see as it was all new construction. The one thing that I did notice from my last walk in the neighborhood is that the colorful street art piece by was tagged over. It was on the very edge of the neighborhood on the wall of The Corner Cafe at the corner of 729 Sixth Avenue was the New York City painting by artist Dirt Cobain.
The New York City Street art by artist Dirt Cobain on the side of The Corner Cafe at 729 Sixth Avenue (painted over in 2022)
Artist Dirt Cobian is an American born artist who started with a spray can when he was a teenager. He creates the most interesting and eye-opening street art. He currently lives in Brooklyn (Artist bio).
A video on who the artist is and what he represents.
The colorful piece of street art was painted over by another tagger who did not do the painting justice. That and the fact that the Corner Cafe had closed its doors for business since I walked the northern part of the Chelsea neighborhood in June and now sat empty. It was when you reached West 23rd Street when the true gems of architecture began.
This unusual office building was built in 1920 and you have to look up to see the carving of “The Corner” at the top of the corniche
I remembered what the tour guide said this had once been the first real shopping district when shopping was acceptable for the middle to upper middle-class woman to shop and socialize unchaperoned. These were the days before malls when shopping was an experience and not something to be rushed.
You could see it in the size of the buildings that housed everything you needed for your household from furniture and clothing to wines and fine gourmet food. They had something for everyone. I could have only imagined what it must have been like and to go back in time to experience those times.
The shopping district stretched from the border of West 23rd Street to the border of West 14th along the Sixth Avenue corridor from the old shopping district to the new one. Even today when you walk that area of West 14th Street, you can still see traces of the old shopping district in the elaborate buildings that are left that line the street. As I walked the back-and-forth length of Sixth Avenue, I admired the buildings that still line it.
I walked south first down Sixth Avenue so that I could really see the stores for myself on one side and then walked past the storefronts on my way back up. What were once Upper Middle Class clothing emporiums are today ‘Big Box’ stores still catering to the retail trade just in another form on the bottom and offices to the top.
Th shopping district border with the Flatiron District starts at the Simpson-Crawford Department Store at 641 Sixth Avenue between West 19th and 20th Streets, which once catered to the wealthy elite of Manhattan and beyond. The store was established in 1878 by Richard Meares and William Crawford as Richard Meares & Company. Meares left the firm a year later and William Crawford then partnered with Thomas and James Simpson to create Simpson, Crawford and Simpson. When Thomas Simpson died in 1885, the store became known as Simpson-Crawford (Daytonian in Manhattan).
Simpson-Crawford Store today at Sixth Avenue between West 19th and 20th Streets
When James Simpson died in 1894, William Crawford became the sole owner and in 1899 with the rise of the great stores on Sixth Avenue, Crawford designed a new store of marble designed by William H. Hume & Son. The exterior of the store shined with polished marble and granite (Daytonian in Manhattan & the tour guide).
The store had many innovations at the time. It had the first escalator in the city, the first display windows with mannequins and large display windows that had to be created for the store. The store was stocked with the finest imported clothes, furs and laces and on the top floor was a restaurant that catered to 1200 guests (Daytonian in Manhattan & the tour guide).
Before the store opened, William Crawford retired and sold the store to Henry Siegel across the street who kept the tradition of the store going. When Siegel-Cooper Company collapsed in 1914, Simpson-Crawford was kept closed for three weeks and then reopened. Both stores closed one year later, and the store was converted to mail order warehouse. Today it holds various stores (Daytonian in Manhattan).
Our next stop was in front of Hugh O’Neill’s Dry Goods Store at 655 Sixth Avenue between West 20th and 21st Streets. It was built by the firm of Mortimer C. Merritt in the neo-Greco style who built the four stages of the building between 1887-1890 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Hugh O’Neill had started a small dry goods business right after the Civil War in 1865 with a small store around Union Square. In 1870, he decided to build a trade on the middle market customer and offered discounts on goods. The four floors of merchandise contained laces, ribbons, clocks and on the upper floors women’s and children’s clothing (Wiki).
When O’Neill died in 1902, the shopping area had just begun its decline and in 1906 it merged with Adams Dry Goods up the block. A year later they both went out of business as the area gave way to manufacturing. The building today has been converted into condos.
The Hugh O’Neill store today
Next door to it we looked at and discussed was the former Adams Dry Goods Store at 675 Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Street.
Samuel Adams, a merchant who had been selling upscale clothing and furnishing to customers in the area decided to open a store on Sixth Avenue. He used the architectural firm of DeLemos & Cordes, who had designed the Seigel-Cooper Department Store and the six-story building opened in 1902. The store was the first in New York City to use the new Pneumatic tubes to transport money and messages throughout the store (Wiki).
The problem with the store was its location. He built the store at the very edge of the neighborhood as the business changed. As the shopping area started to decline in the early 1900’s, Adams sold the store to Hugh O’Neill Dry Goods Store and they merged the two companies together, converting three floors of the Adams Dry Goods store to furniture. This concept was not popular as well and the businesses failed, and the store closed in 1913 (Wiki & the tour guide).
Adams Dry Goods Store today at Sixth Avenue between West 21st and 22nd Streets
The store has gone through a manufacturing stage and in the 80’s became part of the change to large box retailing. The building now houses eBay and several stores including Trader Joe’s and Michael’s. As we could see on the tour, the old department stores are finding new life in retailing.
The old entrance to the Adams Dry Goods Store
Between West 22nd and West 23rd Streets located between the old Adams Dry Goods and next to the former Macy’s store was Ehrich Brothers Department Store at 701 Broadway. The building was constructed in 1889 by architect William Schickel & Company with additions by Buchman & Deisler and Buchman & Fox in 1889 (Wiki).
Ehrich Brothers Department Store building at 701 Sixth Avenue (Wiki)
The “K” still adornes the store of the old J.L. Kesner Department Store
Another addition was added by Taylor & Levi in 1911 when the store was leased to J.L. Kesner. They added the terra cotta “K”s that can still be seen from the top of the storefront. The store folded in 1913 and then was used for manufacturing and offices as the shopping district moved to 34th Street and the Fifth Avenue area (Wiki).
At the corner of the neighborhood on Sixth Avenue and West 23rd Street at 100 West 23rd Street is the second Macy’s Department Store building. This was on the very edge of the Ladies Shopping Mile that once stretched along Sixth Avenue.
The building was built in 1871 and you can see all the elaborate embellishments on it with interesting stone carvings and elegant window design and some wrought iron details on different parts of the building. It was the last location of the store before it moved to its current location at 151 West 34th Street.
100 West 23rd Street (Renthop.com) is an old Macy’s
At the edge of the shopping district on the corner of West 20th Street and Sixth Avenue is the old Church of the Holy Communion, which recently housed the Limelight Night Club and now the Limelight Shops at 47 West 20th Street.
The former Church of the Holy Communion at 47 West 20th Street (now the Limelight Shops)
The church was designed by architect Richard Upjohn and was built between 1844-45 and was consecrated in 1846. It was designed in the ‘Gothic Revival’ style and according to the church’s founder, Reverend William Muhlenberg “was the true architectural expression of Christianity” (Wiki). The church closed in 1975 due to declining membership. It had many uses until 1983 when it opened as the Limelight Nightclub. Today it houses the Limelight shops.
The church set up for outdoor dining in the summer
Then decorated for Christmas during the holidays
As I turned the corner onto West 20th Street, there was a lot of commotion across the street and there were police cars everywhere. I did not see what exactly happened, but it made me walk faster down West 20th Street.
West 20th Street is officially the southern border of the Flatiron District, but I have found that the district overlaps with NoMad, Rose Hill, Kips Bay and Chelsea so much of the neighborhood has two or sometimes three community names. The borders begin to blur here. You can see though that this was once a very important business district with buildings that were designed with distinction.
At the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 20th Street, another building got my attention at 650 Sixth Avenue. This impressive building, which is known as the Cammeyer and is located at 650 Avenue of the Americas on the southeast corner at 20th Street, was converted to a residential condominium in 2007 (Carter Horsley. CityRealty.com).
650 Sixth Avenue at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 20th Street-Now the Cammeyer
The building was designed by Hubert, Piersson & Hoddick in 1892 for the estate of William C. Rhinelander. The red-brick, Neo-Renaissance-style building has white stone and terra cotta trim, a large copper cornice and a handsome band course beneath its top floor. It was the home of the Cammeyer Shoe Store, the one of the largest shoe stores in country (Daytonian).
The conversion was designed by Perkins Eastman for by Penterium, the residential development arm of Korean firm Kumang Housing Corp (Carter Horsley. CityRealty.com).
I was admiring 27 West 20th Street on my walk down West 20th Street to Park Avenue South. This detailed twelve story office building was built in 1908 and now offers loft style offices. the details of the building include elaborate stonework both around the doorways and lower windows and the top floors.
27 West 20th Street was built in 1913
What I liked about the side streets as well as the avenues as I walked the neighborhood was that it kept its character and that these buildings had not been knocked down for the modern skyscraper. They were finding new use like the buildings in Midtown South and in NoMAD and become very desirable.
There was true beauty in the details of 20 West 20th Street that was built in 1906. The Beaux Art style details around the windows and doors accent the elegant building.
I passed 156 Fifth Avenue as I crossed the border from west to east in this part of the neighborhood and admired it for its detailed stonework carving and unusual styled roof. The Presbyterian Building was built in 1893 and was designed by architect James B. Baker and was designed in the French Gothic style. It was to be used by the Presbyterian Church as their base for domestic and foreign missions and used as office space. The Panic of 1893 changed that, and they had to lease the space out (Daytonian in Manhattan).
I reached Broadway and to what was once heart of the elegant shopping district of the old Midtown Manhattan before it moved up to the 34th Street area at the turn of the 20th Century. At 901 Broadway at East 20th Street is the old Lord & Taylor Building before its final move to Fifth Avenue in 1915 (they closed in 2020).
901 Broadway at West 20th Street-The Lord & Taylor Building
The building was designed by New York architect James H. Giles and was designed in the innovative cast iron style of the time that resembled stone. After the store closed in 1915 when it moved business uptown, the Broadway side of the store was resurfaced in stone which is why only a sliver of the old store design is intact (Daytonian in Manhattan/New York Public Library).
The original look of the Lord & Taylor Store at 901 Broadway (New York Public Library)
Across the street from the old Lord & Taylor Building is 903 Broadway, the former Warren Building. It was designed in 1891 by Stamford White for the Goelet family for their new commercial holding company. The Goelet family had owned all the land around this area and as it moved from residential to commercial, the family developed the neighborhood around them. The building was named after Robert Goelet’s wife, Harriette Louise Warren (Daytonian in Manhattan).
903 Broadway at West 20th Street-The Warren Building
The house opened finally for touring after being closed for the pandemic in January 2023 so I finally got to tour the home. It is filled with period furniture, family heirlooms and many artifacts of the late President.
The Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace Museum at 28 East 20th Street
The small gardens outside the house were in full greenery when I visited.
The Parlor at the Roosevelt Home
Towards the corner of East 20th Street and Park Avenue South near the border of the neighborhood is 42 East 20th Street, the current home of the Gramercy Tavern, The Bullmoose building. This loft style store building was built between 1898-1899 and was designed by architects Neville & Bagge. The building was converted into lofts and the restaurant below.
The beautiful entrance to the former N.S. Meyer Inc.
Turning the corner to Park Avenue South, you can see Gramercy Park in the distance which shares it border with the Flatiron District. This is where the lines get blurred between the Flatiron District and Gramercy Park, which share the same border.
As you walk up Park Avenue South, the first building that makes an impression is 251 Park Avenue South. This elegant office building with its large display windows and clean lines shows of the store inside. The office building was built in 1910 and has large windows both on the ground level and towards the top of building.
One building that does standout from the others on Park Avenue South is the Calvery Church at 277 Park Avenue. The church was established in 1832 and moved to its current location in 1842. The current church was designed in the Gothic Revival style by James Renwick Jr., who designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Another interesting building, I looked up and admired while walking up Park Avenue South was 281 Park Avenue South, the former Church Mission House. The building was designed by architects Robert W. Gibson and Edward J. Neville in the Medieval style and was built between 1892 and 1894. It was built for the Episcopal Church’s Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (Wiki). It now houses the photography museum The Fotografista Museum.
281 Park Avenue South-The Fotografiska Museum (The Church Mission House)
Another impressive building, I passed before East 23rd Street is 105 East 22nd Street the former United Charities Building. This is the final building in what was once known as “Charity Row” (Wiki). The building was designed by architect R. H. Robertson and the firm of Rowe & Baker. It was built by John Stewart Kennedy in 1893 for the ‘Charity Organization Society’ (Wiki).
When you turn the corner down East 23rd Street, you are heading back up to the border that the Flatiron District shares with the Kips Bay, Rose Hill and NoMAD neighborhoods. I had walked these district two years earlier when I explored these neighborhoods. I walked north first to the Infantry Regiment building and then walked south again to East 23rd Street to see if there were any changes. With the exception of DiDi Dumpling moving to 34 Lexington from 38 Lexington, it looked pretty much the same.
I walked to the front of the 69th Regiment Building at 68th Lexington Avenue. The scaffolding was finally down, and you could see the whole building now. 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 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.
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.
The Baruch College Student Plaza at East 25th Street is a nice place to relax
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
After the north south trip around the boundaries of Lexington Avenue, I turned at East 25th Street to head back to Sixth Avenue. The border of the Flatiron District is also part of the Rose Hill and NoMAD neighborhoods and shares the border with Kips Bay.
Walking down East 25th Street, you realize as you start to border the Midtown area that the buildings take up more of the blocks and there are less smaller brownstones and tenements in the area. The dominate building on the block by Madison Square Park is 11-25 Madison Avenue, the Metropolitan Life Buildings. The building that lines this part of East 25th Street is the Metropolitan Life North Building (or 11 Madison Avenue).
Metropolitan Life North Building at 25 Madison Avenue
This beautiful building was the extension of the main headquarters next door on Madison Avenue. The building was designed by the architectural team of Harvey Wiley Corbett and D. Everett Waid in the Art Deco style in the late 1920’s as the tallest building in the world but the Great Depression changed the plans and it was built in three stages. The first finished in 1932, the second in 1940 and the third in 1950 (Wiki).
The archways ‘Loggias’ on each side of the building
What stands out about the building is the arched vaults on each corner of the structure called ‘loggias’ and the features were made in limestone and pink marble. When you stand under them you can see the colors and details of the marble carvings (Wiki). Just walking around the building the features are impressive and standout.
Across the street from the Metropolitan Life North Building at 27 Madison Avenue is the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State and one of the most beautiful and detailed buildings I have seen on my walks. The building was designed by architect James Lord Brown in 1896 in the Beaux Arts Style and is adorned heavily in sculpture (Wiki). You really have to step back and walk across the street to see the details on the building.
27 Madison Avenue The Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State
Looking up close, you can see that the building resembles a Greek Temple and was considered one of the best examples of the “City Beautiful Movement” that occurred during the 1890’s and 1900’s to enhance cities with monumental grandeur and beauty (Wiki).
The historical beauty of the architecture continued up the border of the neighborhood as I walked up Madison Avenue towards East 30th Street. You have to walk both sides of Madison Avenue to appreciate the designs and details of the buildings that line the avenue.
You have to look close to the building or you will miss it is the sculpture by artist Harriet Feigenbaum. It is a memorial to victims of the Holocaust and is very powerful in its work showing the concentration camps.
“The Memorial to the Injustice of the Victims of the Holocaust”-“Indifference to Justice is the Road to Hell”
Harriet Feigenbaum is an American sculptor and environmentalist. Her works cover sculpture, film and drawings that are seen all over the world (Wiki and artist bio).
I passed 50 Madison Avenue and noticed how the buildings blended in design. The bottom level of the building was built in 1896 as the headquarters of the ASPCA (American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals). The building was designed by architects Renwick, Aspinwall & Owen and had a classic ‘club like’ design to it. The building was refitted and added to in 2005 by the firm of Samson Management with a six story addition to luxury condos (CityRealty.com).
Another ornamental building that stands out in the neighborhood is 51 Madison Avenue which is the home of New York Life Insurance Building. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in 1926 in the Art Deco style with Gothic Revival details along the sides and was finished in 1928. The structure is topped with a gilded roof (Wiki & New York Life Insurance history). This is another building that you have to see from all sides.
51 Madison Avenue-The New York Life Insurance Building
Continuing my walk up Madison Avenue while admiring the architecture of the neighborhood is The James NoMAD Hotel, the former Seville Hotel, on the corner of East 29th Street at 88 Madison Avenue. This interesting hotel has gone through several name changes and renovations since it was built in 1904. The hotel was designed by architect Harry Alan Jacobs in the Beaux Arts style and the annex to the hotel was designed by Charles T. Mott in 1906 (Wiki).
88 Madison Avenue-The James NoMAD Hotel (formerly The Seville)
The outdoor dining was open for the restaurant the first afternoon I had visited the neighborhood even though I thought it was a little cool to eat outside. Even though you can’t go inside unless you are a guest, I could see the lights stung from the street, and it looked very elegant in the outside dining area. It was noted in the paper that they will be keep the tradition of closing Broadway from West 25th to West 28th for the summer.
Across the street from this elegant hotel is 95 Madison Avenue the former Emmett Building. The structure was designed by architects John Stewart Barney and Stockton B. Colt of Barney & Colt for Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet in 1912 when the area was a wholesale district. The building is designed in the French Neo-Renaissance with Gothic style ornamentation (New York Landmark Preservation Commission and Wiki).
Heading straight ahead at East 25th Street and Madison Avenue is Madison Square Park, named after our fourth President of the United States, James Madison. This well landscaped park is the gathering place of the residents of NoMAD and has a wonderful playground that has been busy the whole time I have spent in the neighborhood.
Madison Square Park is an interesting little oasis from all the traffic and office space. It has an interesting history since it was designated a public space in 1686 by British Royal Governor Thomas Dongan. It has served as a potters field, an arsenal and a home for delinquents. In 1847, the space was leveled, landscaped and enclosed as a park. It became part of the New York Park system in 1870. There are many historical figures featured in the park (NYCParks.org).
The park today is a major meeting spot for residents and tourists alike with a dog track and the original Shake Shack restaurant.
Madison Square Park in the Spring when I was walking the length of Broadway
When I walked into the park to take a break, it must have been the busiest section of the neighborhood between the playground and the original Shake Shack that were serving food to a crowd clung to their cellphones.
The original Shake Shack is located in Madison Square Park at Park and 23rd Street
I stopped to look at the statue of our 21st President Chester A. Arthur, who had taken oath just two blocks away in his New York townhouse where the Kalustyan’s Specialty Foods is located at 123 Lexington Avenue (See My Walk in Kips Bay below). I thought about what was going on in our government today and what they must have gone through with this transition.
The Statue of Chester A. Arthur in Madison Square Park
George Edwin Bissell was an American born artist from Connecticut whose father was a quarry-man and marble carver. He studied sculpture abroad in Paris in the late 1870’s and was known for his historical sculptures of important figures of the time (Wiki).
The Admiral David Farragut statue in Madison Square Park by artist Augustus St. Gaudens
Another interesting statue that stands out in Madison Square Park is the of Civil War Navy hero, Admiral David Farragut. Admiral Farragut commanded the Union Blockage of Southern cities and helped capture New Orleans. The statute was designed by sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens. This was the artist’s first major commission when it was dedicated in 1881 (NYCParks.org).
Augustus St. Gaudens was an Irish born American artist whose specialty during the Beaux-Arts era was monuments to Civil War heroes. He had created the statue the William Tecumseh Sherman in the Central Park Mall on Fifth Avenue along with this statue of Admiral Farragut. He had studied at the National Academy of Design, apprenticed in Paris and then studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (Wiki).
Upon leaving Madison Square Park and proceeding across East to West 25th Street (Fifth Avenue separates the East Side from the West Side of Manhattan), I was traveling into what was once part of Midtown between the Civil War until WWI and then after that Midtown moved closer to Central Park during the 1920’s through the 1940’s.
Most of the buildings in this section of NoMAD were built with decorative stonework and elaborate ornamentation. There are so many in this section of Manhattan I will highlight the ones that are the standouts. As I walked the border of the neighborhood, you could see many beautiful buildings lining 25th Street.
When walking down East 25th Street from Madison Square Park, the first interesting site you pass is the historic Worth Square, the Memorial to and burial site of General William Jenkins Worth.
William Jenkins Worth was a native New Yorker (Hudson, NY) and decorated Army officer who had served our country in the Battles of 1812, The Second Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. His series of campaigns shaped this Country to where it is today. He died working for the Department of Texas in 1849 (Wiki).
Army General William Jenkins Worth
The General’s remains are buried under the monument at Worth Square at the corner of Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 24th and 25th Street. General Worth was interned here in November of 1857 on the anniversary of the British leaving the colonies (NYCParks.org).
The Worth Monument between East 24th and East 25th Street at Broadway and Fifth Avenue
The Worth Monument was designed by artist James Goodwin Batterson, whose main profession was one of the founders of the Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford, CT and helped design the Library of Congress Building in Washington DC. He had immersed himself in his father’s quarrying and stone importing business early in his career and traveled extensively to Europe and Egypt for the job. He designed this monument in 1857 (Wiki).
Passing Worth Square and continuing down West 25th Street, I noticed the impressive architecture that lines the streets of this section of the Broadway part neighborhood.
At 1123 Broadway is the detailed Townsend Building that was built between 1896-97 and was designed by New York architect Cyrus Lazelle Warner Eidlitz in the Classical style. The building is names for Isaac Townsend whose estate the building was built on (Flatiron Partnership).
Another beautiful building is the Heritage Hotel at 18-20 West Fifth Avenue. This detailed hotel was designed by the architectural firm of Israels & Harder in 1901 in the Beaux-Arts style.The hotel opened in 1902 as the Arlington Hotel, a residential hotel for well-heeled guests (Daytonian).
By the time I reached Sixth Avenue again, I could see the reason why most people call the Flatiron District a treasure trove of architecture. Block after block walking the borders of this neighborhood was an experience in the hopes and dreams of so many companies of the turn of the last century. When they built these buildings, they were meant to last, and they believed in what they were creating.
What I love about the Flatiron District is the belief that business had in itself to last, to make an impression on the not just the people that worked there but to the outside world. It showed a world of promise and power and showed New York City’s representation in business and culture. Between the Civil War and WWI, you could see the growth in commerce, marketing, retail and the arts representing in these blocks of Manhattan.
This was meant to show the country where New York City stood and what it represented. These were not just buildings but statements to the optimism that a country that had just been through a Civil War could accomplish. While this trend was followed by cities all over the country growing between the wars, New York stood out by doing it first and doing it bigger.
This is why Manhattan is the capital of the World.
The Poster House is a little gem of a museum that I must have passed many times and never knew it was a museum. I had never heard of this museum before. The Poster House is dedicated to the history and art of posters and how they impact our lives as a way of communication. I got a chance to see the whole museum in about two hours.
The first exhibition on the first floor of the museum was “Utopian Avant-Guard: Soviet Film Posters of the 1920’s”, a retrospect on the film industry during the Silent Era…
The weather finally broke and it was goreous today. It was a crazy morning before I left for the City and I got in early before I had to work at the Soup Kitchen. The numbers keep growing and we are getting busier and busier. We are now packing a thousand bags of food for the growing number of people visiting Holy Apostles.
I needed some extra energy before I got to the church and decided to stop at 9th Avenue Grocery, a tiny deli a block from the church for a Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich. I must have passed this place a hundred times over the last twenty years but never stopped in. With all the construction going on in the neighborhood, I have noticed more signs outside for the deli with their specials to bring these guys in.
The Breakfast menu at 9th Avenue Grocery (prices have changed)
I have to tell you the Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a soft roll ($4.50) was not only was reasonable but delicious. The roll was so fresh and chewy but they gave you a nice portion of eggs to bacon which must have been two or three per order. What I liked about their menu was that almost all their hot foods were under $10.00.
The Bacon, Egg and Cheese at 9th Avenue Grocery is worth the trip dodging construction workers
When I finished breakfast, it was time to go to work and we spent the rest of the morning packing food bags to go with the hot food lunch we were serving that morning. We worked in coordination and packed 800 bags this morning so that the Monday staff had something to work with that day. Five of us got this done in two and a half hours.
After we finished, it was time to to explore the Streets of the Chelsea neighborhood. I lucked out and it was a beautiful sunny afternoon with blue skys and about 82 degrees. That’s when these walks are fun.
I have to tell you that this, Chelsea in this section of the neighborhood is a juxtapose of different styles of architecture and reflects how the area is reinventing itself from an old shipping and receiving/distribution business to the modern-day tech companies. Not only has there been a reuse of these buildings, but the historical brick townhouses have been brought back to their glory with extensive renovations. With every block it just keeps changing with a new business filling the stores that once had ‘For Rent’ signs.
I walked around the block from Holy Apostles Church to start the walk from Twelve Avenue and then continued down West 27th Street. You are going to find that most of the buildings between Twelfth and Tenth Avenues which were probably once garages and car washes have now been refitted into art galleries. You can see the art peering out from the glass windows. You will also notice that it is one of the few streets in the City with cobblestones. It is rare to see this anymore.
The cobblestone streets of West 27th Street off Twelve Avenue
From Tenth to Ninth Avenues, you pass Chelsea Park, which looked like it was busy on the soccer field with a gym class from the Avenues World School on one side, the kids screaming and yelling all over the playground equipment from P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep and the homeless who just finished their lunch from Holy Apostles lying around the benches in the middle of the park. It is never a dull moment in that park and it has become very much alive with the warmer weather and probably the anticipation of school ending.
For security reasons, you will have to walk around the Penn South Complex down West 26th Street and around to reach Ninth Avenue and the entrance to the Fashion Institute of Technology campus at West 27th Street.
“Untitled” by Ami Shamir (Hue Magazine)
The campus was really quiet as summer classes were probably going on right now. I noticed tucked in front of the Dubinsky Building is the sculpture “Untitled” by artist Ami Shamir. This work appears to represent a figure group of fashion industry-related tools (Hue Magazine). The piece dates back to the 1970’s.
Artist Ami Shamir
Ami Shamir is an Israeli American born artist was a noted sculpture and stained-glass artist whose works were related to Jewish themes and the Holocaust. The work was part of the Public Art Movement of its time (Hue Magazine).
On the corner of West 27th Street and Seventh Avenue is the Museum of FIT at 227 West 27th Street. This wonderful and unique museum showcases the clothing, shoes and accessories of the Fashion Institute of Technology collection. I stopped in earlier to see the new exhibition “Dior + Balenciaga-Kings of Couture and their Legacies” which was the current show.
The “Dior + Balenciaga: Kings of Couture and their Legacies” show
The show compares and contrasts both designers both on how their work was perceived and how it compares to the fashion represented in their ‘Houses’ today. The museum does a wonderful job mounting a show and it should not be missed. It is also open free to the public.
When you arrive at the corner of campus at Sixth Avenue, you are greeted by one of the most iconic sculptures in the City, The ‘Eye of Fashion’ by artist Robert Cornbach. This was designed by the artist in 1976 and just returned to the campus after a major renovation.
“The Eye of Fashion” by artist Robert Cornbach
Robert Cornbach was an American born artist from St. Louis, who was educated at the St. Louis Academy of Fine Arts and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He was known for his large abstract artworks that includes sculptures and fountains (NYTimes.com/Obituary). He also created works for the WPA for the Government’s Federal Art Project (Wiki).
When you cross Seventh towards Sixth Avenue, you see the last traces of the old Garment/Wholesale District with many of those old wholesale businesses being replaced by trendy stores and hotels. The area is shared with the very desirable NoMAD (North of Madison Park) neighborhood that is slowly expanding to this neighborhood. Reaching Sixth Avenue, it was like revisiting an old friend since I had not visited NoMAD/Koreatown in a few months.
As you are walking back down the street, you will notice the beauty of 109 West 27th Street amongst the smaller buildings in the old Wholesale District. Some relators will say this is NoMAD and some will say the Garment District. The building was built in 1908 and you really have to look at the upper floors to see the detailed stone carvings and embellishments that adorn the buildings.
On the walk back, you will start to notice this transition with all the empty ‘For Rent’ signs on the buildings. COVID really affected this part of the neighborhood and just accelerated the gentrification.
The Chelsea School PS 33 artwork on the school
Chelsea School Art
Chelsea School Artwork in the Garden
Just be sure that when you are walking back through Chelsea Park, it is at school time and not after dark. The park can get a little seedy at twilight. Also take time to look at the nice vegetable garden the kids at PS 33 planted behind the school. They did a good job.
I found this cute production of “Singing in the Rain” that the students of P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep performed
As you are walking back towards Twelvth Avenue, you will be greeted by the most unusual women faces and creatures the move and swirl. These are the works of artist Jordan Betten that line the door fronts of the building facing West 27th Street.
Artist Jordan Betten’s artwork on West 27th Street entitled “Sleep No More” is located on the south side of the street
Jordan Betten artist
Artist Jordan Bennen is a Miami based American born artist who works include painting, sculpture and design. With unique application and use of colors, his art captures a feeling of freedom and strength. He shows his love of the streets with sophistication and modernism (Artist Bio).
Video on artist Jordan Betten’s work
West 26th Street has a similar feel for the first two blocks as well with many of the building housing art galleries. A crew was filming a movie, so I had to move around the street as I was walking through it and there is a lot of construction on the street with renovations of these old buildings so be careful.
When crossing the street at Tenth Avenue, you will be walking through the middle of the Chelsea-Elliott Houses so please be aware of who is around you. My advice is to walk through this area when either school is out for a break or just after school. It can get a little shady in the early evenings. Some of the residents will really look you over if they feel you don’t belong, and this is on the sidewalk that rims the complex.
The Elliott-Chelsea Houses on Tenth Avenue
Still there are a few bright points when you walk through the projects. Senoria Pastilito, a woman who sells freshly fried chicken and beef pastelitos, a Dominican empanada and icy sodas. This little stand is open around the time school lets out. Do not miss these delicious pastelitos, filled with chopped and well spiced meats that she fries fresh in front of you. I ate them right by the little park where her stand is located, and she is busy when school lets out.
Senoria Pastelito at the Chelsea-Elliott Houses
Also, tucked into the side of the building is a beautiful flower garden where dozens a of red rose bushes were in bloom, and someone planted flower beds between the building and the sidewalk.
The Chelsea-Elliott Houses Gardens
The Chelsea-Elliott Houses Gardens
It just shows that there are people in public housing that really do care about their homes and take pride in its appearance. There is also interesting tile art on the side of one of the buildings that is really interesting. I was not sure what it meant though.
The tile art at the Chelsea-Elliott Houses
The tile art at the Chelsea-Elliott Houses
The tile art at the Chelsea-Elliott Houses
Changes in the neighborhood
Further down the road towards the southern part of the Fashion Institute of Technology campus is the studio for the Wendy Williams Show, where my best friend, Maricel and I attended the show back in March. The theater is at 221 West 26th Street and when I passed it I could not believe so much time had gone by. The worst part is I heard on the Internet that the show is closing after 13 seasons.
My best friend Maricel and I at the ‘Wendy Williams Show’
As you travel to the other side of Seventh Avenue, you will see the constant change over of the neighborhood from the old Garment District to the fashionable NoMAD with small restaurants and shops tucked into former wholesale shops. COVID closed a lot of the older businesses that used to be on the block.
West 25th Street is very similar to the other blocks with lots of art galleries on the first two blocks from Twelve to Tenth Avenues taking space that was formerly used for shipping or car repair. When you crossover to Seventh Avenue, I was bummed to see that Milanes at 168 West 25th Street closed for business. That’s where Maricel and I ate after attending the Wendy Williams Show and I ate when I was in the neighborhood. It was funny in that it was always busy when I ate there.
Milanes at 168 West 25th Street (closed for business in June 2022)
The COVID economy takes another victim. Its too bad as this restaurant had quite the following. Their business seems to be have been taken up by Johny’s Lunchonette at 124 West 25th Street, a small lunch counter business a few doors down.
Johny’s Grill and Lunchonette at 124 West 25th Street
This looks like another winner that I will have to try in the future.
On the way back from Sixth Avenue and tucked into the southern part of the Penn South complex is the Jeff Dulleau Generational Garden at 365 West 25th Street just before your get to Ninth Avenue. This tiny garden was locked but in full bloom with vegetable beds and wild flowers growing all over garden. Mr. Dulleau had been a founding member of the Green Guerillas.
The Jeff Dulleau Intergenerational Garden at 365 West 25th Street
The ‘Green Guerillas’ are a group that uses education, organizing and advocacy to to help people cultivate community gardens, sustain grassroots groups, grow food, engage youth and address critical issues of food justice and urban agriculture (Green Guerillas).
When turned the corner and started my walk down West 24th Street from Twelveth Avenue, I noticed all the former shipping buildings have all been converted to art galleries. Each building had its own look with the artwork shining from the large glass windows where you can peer in.
When you reach Tenth Avenue, you reach the historical district of the neighborhood which lines Tenth Avenue from West 25th to West 24th and the from Tenth to Ninth Avenues. These blocks are lined with late 19th century townhouses with detailed grillwork and small front gardens. This is one of the nicest sections of the neighborhood to walk.
On the corner of Tenth Avenue and West 24th Street is Orchard Townhouse, a small restaurant and inn. Talk about quaint. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor dining with a small garden that flows to the sidewalk. It has that historic ‘inn’ look about it and an interesting menu for lunch. A mostly American and Continental menu and something to try in the future.
The Orchard Townhouse at twilight (Orchard Townhouse) at 242 Tenth Avenue at West 24th Street
The courtyard of the Orchard Townhouse (Orchard Townhouse)
The courtyard of the Orchard Townhouse (Orchard Townhouse)
The House of Waris at the Old Orchard
This historic district extends from the southern side of West 25th Street and the northern side of West 24th and offers a glimpse at early 1880-90’s architecture at its finest. Back then, this was meant to be upper class housing but ended up being for a middle class resident. Today, you can’t buy one of these townhouses for under two million dollars. It would be interesting to know the builders perspective on that a hundred and thirty years later.
Chelsea Historic District at West 24th Street
West 24th Street offers a juxtaposed mix of architectural designs of buildings depending on the block. From Twelfth Avenue to Tenth Avenue it is a combination of old shipping and garage buildings that have now been converted like the rest of the neighborhood into art galleries, the historic district stretches from Tenth to Ninth Avenues and from Ninth to Sixth Avenues there is a mixture of the old residential district mixed into the commercial district that it has become.
Chelsea Historic District at West 24th Street
Here and there small brick townhouses mix in with larger commercial businesses that themselves have transformed from manufacturing to digital and tech companies and a growing number of restaurants. Businesses are closing and opening all over the street but it does look like the worst of the COVID problems are behind us (for now).
New restaurant opening at West 24th Street
One stand out was the Fashion Industries High School at 225 West 24th Street where the windows were decorated with the students fashion ideas and I was figuring their final projects of the semester. They had some interesting looks pictured in the windows.
Fashion Industries High School at 225 West 24th Street
Artist Dirt Cobian is an American born artist who started started with a spray can when he was a teenager. He creates the most interesting and eye opening street art. He currently lives in Brooklyn (Artist bio).
A video on who the artist is and what he represents.
This new piece of art appeared in 2022 by artist
The artist Wewer
I could not find any information on the Internet about the artist
This was painted right next to it by artist Lola Lovenotes
Artist Lola Lovenotes is a self-taught graffiti artist from New York City who was heavily influenced by growing up in the Bronx. She also works as a teaching artist in Manhattan and the Bronx (Artist Bio).
I finished the walk back at Twelve Avenue admiring the art from the windows of the galleries and then relaxed in Hudson River Park and admired the view across the river. New Jersey looks very different on this side of the Hudson River. More intriguing.
I finished the afternoon with lunch at the Grand Sichuan Restaurant at 229 Ninth Avenue. I had passed the restaurant many times when walking around the neighborhood and they have some interesting (and very reasonable) lunch specials that I wanted to try. Walking this whole neighborhood I began to notice that there was not too many reasonable (i.e. cheap) places to eat in Chelsea and thought this would be a nice place.
The Grand Sichuan I have to admit could use a good makeover as it is a little dated and theadbare but the food and the service are really good and are worth the visit. Wanted to try something different I had the Orange Flavored Beef Special with Fried Rice and an Egg Roll. The whole meal was delicious.
The Orange Flavored Beef was wonderful
The one thing I liked about the lunch specials ($9.95) at the Grand Sichuan Restaurant is that the portion sizes are very fair and everything was freshly cooked and spiced extremely well. The beef really loaded with chilis that gave it a good pinch. The egg roll was loaded with shredded cabbage and nice pieces of roast pork.
It really was an interesting walk of the neighborhood. Not just on learning the history of the area but passing the open air museum that the area has become. With the renovation of the local parks and new building going on there is more changes on the way. As we leave enter the hopeful post-COVID era where we enter the new normal you are going to see a lot of development on all sides of this neighborhood.
Just like the rest of Manhattan it just keeps morphing.
See my other blogs on Walking North Chelsea/Flower District:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty Seven: Walking the Borders of North Chelsea/Flower District:
The weather finally started to cooperate, and it was a beautiful day today. I started my day at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, helping pack a thousand bags of snacks to serve with the meals to our guests and then worked in Social Services helping people with their mail and getting them toiletries. Everyone had me running in the morning.
After lunch with the other volunteers, I set off to walk the Avenues of the Chelsea neighborhood and explore the neighborhood more in depth. Since I have been working for the Soup Kitchen all these years, I know most of the neighborhood from walking the streets in the past. In all the years that I worked at Macy’s and did my graduate work at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I knew the Sixth and Seventh Avenue areas quite well.
I have noted the changes many times to the Flower District which was much bigger and much different before all the apartment buildings went up along Sixth Avenue. There is a small section still left between Sixth and Seventh Avenues along West 28th Street. Even the Garment District has been shrinking with the rezoning of the neighborhood. New hotels and apartment complexes have replaced the commercial businesses of the neighborhood and with that changing the complexity of the neighborhood to a more residential area.
I started my walk strolling down Eleventh Avenue from the edge of the Hudson Yards neighborhood to the border of Chelsea at West 23rd Street. As I have said in previous blogs, everything between Twelveth and Eleventh Avenues is being knocked down and rebuilt as well as parks are being renovated. These city blocks are becoming the new ‘Gold Coast’ being so close to companies like Google’s New York City campus.
There has been a renaissance of the buildings along this part of the Hudson River. Old storage facilities and shipping buildings are being or have been renovated for office and hospitality use along with former garages becoming art galleries.
The first building that I passed was the Terminal Warehouse at 261 Eleventh Avenue. The Terminal was built in 1891 and designed by architect George Mallory. It has been used in the past as a train terminal and distribution center for the New York Central Railroad . In the 1980’s and early 90’s, it was used as the famous nightclub “Tunnel” and then use as self-storage facility. The Terminal Warehouse is now going through a multi-billion dollar renovation to convert the warehouse from a distribution center to a modern office complex (Columbia Property Trust/69th Street).
When it is finished, the building will house multi-office space, retail and restaurants all while bordering the Hudson River and the Highline Park.
Next to the Terminal Warehouse is the Starrett-Leigh Building at 601 West 26th Street. This interesting complex was built in 1931 by architectural firm of Cory & Cory. It had been originally used as a freight transportation center. Since the creation of the Highline Park and the demand for office space in this area, it has been a leader in the creation of the Tech Center “Silicon Alley”.
The Starrett-Leigh Building at 601 West 26th Street
The building was a partnership between the Starrett Corporation and the Leigh Valley Railroad when it was built. By 1944, the Leigh Valley Railroad had pulled operations out of the building and by 1966, the last of the rail lines were pulled out. The building is currently going through another major renovation to convert it into first class office space (RXR).
The desirability of working and living in this once shipping and rail area of the neighborhood keeps changing the complexity of area between the Hudson River, Twelveth and Eleventh Avenues. It is becoming the center of the tech and creative industries of New York City. As you walk up Eleventh Avenue, you will observe large buildings whose future might change.
Tenth Avenue starts the more residential part of Chelsea and where you can see the transition of the neighborhood from the old commercial area to an upscale residential place with new restaurants, galleries and shops.
As you walk down Tenth Avenue from the kids playing soccer on the fields of Chelsea Park, on one side of the Avenue is the combination of the Chelsea-Elliott Public Housing project and on the other side is the Avenues School, an innovative private school for kids all over New York City. This was the subject of an HBO Documentary “Class Divide”, on the changes of demographics and economics in New York City.
The documentary “Class Divide” by HBO
The Chelsea-Elliott Houses are located between West 25th and 27th Streets between Ninth and Tenth Avenues (but not the full block) and were designed by architect William Lescaze. They were the first houses to be designed in the high rise with a park concept (Wiki).
Chelsea-Elliott Houses between West 25th and 27th Streets off Tenth Avenue (Wiki)
On the opposite side of Tenth Avenue sits the Avenues The World School, one of the most innovative and progressive new schools in New York City. Branches of the school have already opened in South America and China. They will also be opening branches in Miami and Silicon Valley.
An education at Avenues concentrates on a global outlook with courses being taught in English, Spanish or Mandarin Chinese starting in nursury school. The school believes in technology and a group approach to learning. It is also almost $40,000 a year (Avenues.com).
With these changes in education and in the whole makeup up of this part of the neighborhood, you can see why the documentary was made in its context. A whole section of society is advancing towards the future and another is being left behind.
I thought about all this as I passed the projects on my way back up Tenth Avenue from West 23rd Street, observing the kids who were going from Avenues into the playground at the Chelsea-Elliott Houses playground to play. The documentary really stuck home.
Tenth Avenue does have its contrasts on the other side of the avenue as well as from West 25th to 24th Streets still have the historical character of the old neighborhood with the old brownstones and townhouses on one side of the avenue. It just shows how Manhattan keeps reinventing itself and you can see this block by block in Manhattan.
Chelsea Historic District at West 24th Street
Ninth Avenue is where my start off point was from the entrance of Holy Apostles Church. What I did learn from walking the neighborhood was more about the history of The Church of the Holy Apostles. The Church of the Holy Apostles was built between 1845 to 1848 and was designed by architect Minard Lafever with the stained-glass windows designed by William Jay Bolton (Wiki).
The church has always been progressive, and it was rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. The church had been an extension of the Trinity Church downtown for the working-class people in the area. Now it also runs the second largest Soup Kitchen in the United States. The biggest is in San Franciso (Wiki).
The Church of the Holy Apostles at 296 Ninth Avenue feels like a second home to me
It was also convenient in that it was where I needed to start my walk on Ninth Avenue where the church is located right across from Chelsea Park south of the northern section of Hudson Yards and right across from the Lower Garment District (please read my blogs on walking these parts of Manhattan as well).
What I never noticed in the almost 17 years that I have been volunteering at the Soup Kitchen was that it was a park. Chelsea Park is located across the street at the corner of Ninth Avenue and between West 28th and 27th Streets. I had always thought this was part of P.S. 33, the elementary school next door complex. There is a whole separate park behind that corner.
Chelsea Park extends all the way to Tenth Avenue with soccer and basketball courts and places for people to not just run but relax under the blanket of trees in the summer. Facing Ninth Avenue in a small courtyard is the statue of the ‘Chelsea Doughboy’.
The statute was designed to honor the war veterans of WWI. The term “Doughboy” no one is too sure where it originated. Some think from the fried dough dumplings that the soldiers eat or maybe from the way their uniforms looked which were a little baggy or from the dough clay that they used to clean their uniforms (NYCParks.org).
Artist Philip Martiny was a French born American artist who settled in New York when he immigrated here in 1878. He was a contemporary of artist August Saint-Gaudens and known for his decorative styles in the Beaux-Arts fashion. He created many sculptures for buildings in New York City and Washington DC (Wiki).
As I continued my walk down Ninth Avenue, I could see that the Chelsea Prep School was out for a break and the kids were screaming and yelling all over the playground. I have to say that the playground could use some work and the amount of homeless guys hanging out around the kids I don’t think is the smartest thing as well.
The interesting paintings at the Chelsea School PS 33
When passing West 25th to 23rd Streets on the right side, you will see the fringes of the historic district mixed in with the commercial area with shops and restaurants. Really look up and admire the architecture of the old townhouses and apartment buildings before they start to disappear.
The West Chelsea Historic District
Eighth Avenue is an unusual mix of residential buildings with the Penn South complex on one side of avenue and the Fashion Institute of Technology campus on the other side. Penn South was built for the workers of the International Ladies Garment Union and were designed by architect Herman Jessor (Wiki). The buildings are surrounded by series of parks and paths.
The rest of the block is a commercial district of stores and restaurants. There are a few standouts when you reach the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 23rd Street. What I love about Chelsea is that it is a treasure trove of reasonable restaurants that dot the street all the way to Sixth Avenue.
Right in the center of the avenue, across from the Fashion Institute of Technology at 335 Eighth Avenue is the McDonald’s. I spent many a afternoon and evening at both when I was attending school here and after Soup Kitchen when I did not want to eat the lunch. I still love their McDoubles and the breakfasts. Right next door is Taco Bandito at 325 Eighth Avenue for authentic and very cheap Mexican food (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
Taco Bandito at 325 Eighth Avenue (Closed December 2022)
Taco Bandito and McDonalds are right around the corner from The Fashion Institute of Technology at 325 and 355 Eighth Avenue respectively (McDonalds closed in January 2023).
Just off the corner of Eighth Avenue is Lions & Tigers & Squares at 268 West 23rd Street, which has the best Detroit style pizza that I have tasted in New York City. The sauce and cheese are baked into the sides of their pizza, and they really load down on the toppings.
Don’t miss their sausage or pepperoni pizza which has a heavy covering of spicy sliced pepperoni and the sweet sausage that is topped with maple syrup. Their pizza has a crisp outside and a pillowy inside.
The Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza here is just excellent
Just next to Lions & Tigers & Squares is Lucky’s Famous Burgers at 264 West 23rd Street. This amazing little restaurant serves the best burgers and chicken fingers. Their French Fries come in a little sack that can serve two people.
When I had lunch there recently when I was finishing my walk around West Chelsea/Hudson Yards, I had the juiciest twin Cheeseburgers and a bag of fries. Their burgers are so fresh and well-cooked and topped with lots of fresh vegetables. They are so well caramelized on the outside that the burgers have such a good flavor when combined with the toppings.
The Mini Cheeseburgers with fries are excellent at Lucky’s Famous Burgers
Seventh Avenue is mostly commercial with a smattering of residential here and there above the businesses and some of the newer apartment buildings that are going up. The Garment District as I had mentioned in previous blogs has been slowly disappearing and being replaced by a combination of new office space and hotels.
In the years since I worked on Seventh Avenue, I have seen some major changes in the neighborhood with older commercial buildings coming down for new office space. Then there is the disappearance of the Flower District for new apartments and what is left is concentrated between Sixth and Seventh Avenues on West 28th Street.
Seventh Avenue’s businesses were also hit hard by the pandemic, especially surrounding the Fashion Insitute of Technology, which had stopped classes and went virtual by March of 2020. That affected all the restaurants around the college that had once catered to all the students and staff. During 2020 and most of 2021, the area was plaqued with graffitti filled buildings that stood empty for almost two years. Now with the college reopened, businesses have reopened in their place and things are started to look vibrant again.
The Fashion Institute of Technology is on Seventh Avenue between West 28th and 26th Streets and sits in the center of the Garment District. The college is part of the SUNY system of colleges of the State of New York and was founded in 1944. The Colleges emphasis is on Fashion, the Arts, Design and Business and been founded to serve the growing Garment Industry that once surrounded it (Wiki).
The Fashion Institute of Technology at 227 West 27th Street
When you arrive on the front of campus, you are greeted by one of the most iconic sculptures in the City, The ‘Eye of Fashion’ by artist Robert Cornbach. This was designed by the artist in 1976 and just returned to the campus after a major renovation.
“The Eye of Fashion” by artist Robert Cornbach
Robert Cornbach was an American born artist from St. Louis, who was educated at the St. Louis Academy of Fine Arts and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He was known for his large abstract artworks that includes sculptures and fountains (NYTimes.com/Obituary). He also created works for the WPA for the Government’s Federal Art Project (Wiki).