Tag Archives: Exploring NYC Parks

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Day One Hundred and Sixty-Two: “I Love New York” from the 1970’s, 80’s and Today! March 30th, 2020

I was just watching ’60 Minutes’ tonight and it has never been scarier to be in New York City. The hospitals are being over-whelmed by patients that are low on supplies and the medical staffs are tired, burnt out and still stepping up to the plate to help get people better. The streets are empty with people as the last of the tourists left two weeks ago and the crowded streets of Manhattan that only in December were packed with so many people that you could not walk seems like a distant memory.

NY Restaurant Show II

https://www.internationalrestaurantny.com/

What should have been a great night for everyone. Michigan State WON 80-69!

 

As you have read from my last two blog entries, I was in Manhattan from March 7th until March 10th walking the International Restaurant Show, watching the Michigan State-Ohio State Basketball game at Blondies Bar on the Upper West Side for who would be the Big Ten Champion (MSU won Go Green Go White) that Sunday night, at the Anthology Film Archives watching Sandra Bullock in “The Net” for a series the movie theater had on 1990’s Internet films on Monday night and then my last night in the City on Tuesday, March 10th for the Gerhard Richter Exhibition at the Met Breuer for a Private Members Night. All this while everything was going on around us.

Met Breuer

The Met Breuer at 945 Madison Avenue

https://www.metmuseum.org/visit/plan-your-visit/met-breuer

Anthology Film archives

The Anthology Film Archives at 32 Second Avenue

http://anthologyfilmarchives.org/

The night I went to the Anthology Film Archives,  I stopped in Chinatown first to go to Wonton Noodle Garden on Mott Street (see review on TripAdvisor) for dinner. What shocked me was how empty the place was that evening. This is a restaurant that is packed all the time and it is open until 2:00am. The only people who were there were myself and two tables of NYU students.

Wonton Noodle Garden II

Wonton Noodle Garden at 56 Mott Street

http://www.wontonnoodlegarden.com/

When I asked the waiter where everyone was, he through up his shoulders and said “Everything going on in the world”. I knew it did not look good that night as the rest of Chinatown was empty. The East Village was hopping with college students and the neighborhood around me was busy but you could feel the mood shifting.

Wonton Noodle Garden

Wonton Noodle Garden’s Cantonese Wonton Soup with Egg Noodles and Roast Pork can cure all ills.

‘The Net’ Trailer

Sandra Bullock can cheer anyone up!

I felt this at the Restaurant Show where you could walk down the aisles of the show and never bump into anyone. The Tuesday afternoon that I went in to see the show one last time by 3:30pm most people had packed up and gone. The show did not close until 4:30pm. They were ready to go by early that morning. So my last five days in Manhattan I felt the mood changing as people were not sure what to do.

That last night at the Met Breuer as  I walked the crowded floors of the museum enjoying the Gerard Richter Show before the opening to the public, I could hear in the corners members saying “I am really surprised they did not cancel this.” and “Could you believe this crowd with what’s going on?” It was like all of us knew this was the last night of “ballyhoo”.

 

Gerhard Ritcher artist

Artist Gerhard Richter in front of his works

https://www.gerhard-richter.com/en/

All over the world people are banding together to contribute what they can and keep the human spirit alive by volunteering where they can and helping one another out. I know that between my work at the College and the Fire Department everyone has me running around and my spirit of volunteerism is never lacking.

So to all my readers especially the ones who are displaced New Yorkers remember that New York City has seen it darker days in the past and has risen to overcome them. There is a real spirit in the City that is not replicated anywhere else in the world and we saw that in the 1970’s, 80’s 90’s and on 9/11 to current days.

That was until 1977 when we rediscovered that spirit and said “I LOVE New York!”

To cheer everyone up, I pulled the old campaign from YouTube from the dark days of the 1970’s and 80’s to show how the human spirit can overcome anything if we pull together. So this special entry of “MywalkinManhattan” is dedicated to all of you who will never let that spirit die both here and where you live now. We will get through this!

I love New York III

After all “WE LOVE NEW YORK!”

The song that started it all:

 

The original campaign videos:

 

 

 

 

New York City after 9/11:

 

 

 

The Original Campaign videos from the 1980’s 1-5:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How the “I LOVE NEW YORK” campaign came about:

 

This excellent documentary was done by a New York High School student in 2006.

 

Songs that represent the true spirit of New York City:

Native New Yorker by Odyssey:

 

The Great Liza Minnelli singing the best version of “New York New York”

 

We will get through this everyone and God Speed!

The Upper West Side by The Dakota Apartments

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eleanor Roosevelt Statue.jpg

Eleanor Roosevelt Statue in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side

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

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

Apple Savings Bank.jpg

Apple Savings Bank Building on Broadway

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

Park Royale Building.jpg

The Park Royal Building

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

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

Miss Mighty Mouse.jpg

Miss Mighty Mouse by artist Kathy Ruttenberg

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

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

Ira Gershwin Plaque

Ira Gershwin Plaque

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

128-132 West 75th Street NYC

128th-132nd West 75th Street

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

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

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

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

Sherman Playground.jpg

Sherman Playground

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

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

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

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

Hammer Boy.jpg

Hammer Boy by street artist Banksy

https://www.banksy.co.uk/

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

Baptist Church West 79th Street

The Baptist Church at West 79th Street

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

Malachy's

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

Malachy's Bar II

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

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

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

Theodore Roosevelt Park.jpg

Theodore Roosevelt Park behind the American Museum of Natural History

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

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

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

Zabar's Cafe.jpg

Zabar’s/Zabar’s Cafe

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cedarhurst Building.jpg

The Cedarhurst Building on the Upper West Side

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

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

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

Bard Gallery.jpg

The Bard Graduate Center Gallery at 18 West 86th Street

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

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

Malachy's.jpg

Malachy’s Donegal Inn

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

 

Places to Eat:

 

Malachy’s Donegal Inn

103 West 72nd Street

New York, NY 10023

(212) 874-4268

http://www.malachysnyc.com

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

 

Zabar’s/Cafe Zabar’s

2245 Broadway

New York, NY  10024

(212) 787-2000

http://www.Zabars.com

Open: Sunday 9:00am-6:00pm/Monday-Saturday 8:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

 

Taco Bandito

385 Eight Avenue

New York, NY  10001

(212) 989-5518

http://www.tacobanditochelsea.com

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

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

 

Places to Visit:

 

Riverside Park

Between the Hudson River and Riverside Drive lining the neighborhood

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

 

Theodore Roosevelt Park/American Museum of Natural History

200 Central Park West

New York, NY  10024

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

 

Bard Graduate Center Gallery

18 West 86th Street

New York, NY 10024

(212) 501-3023

gallery@bgc.bard.org

Open: Sunday 11:00am-5:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday 11:00am-5:00pm/Wednesday & Thursday 11:00am-8:00pm/Friday-Saturday 11:00am-5:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

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

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

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

 

 

The Mansions on Fifth Avenue and East 79th Street

Day One Hundred and One Walking the boundaries of the Upper East Side from East 84th Street to East 72nd Street from FDR Drive to Fifth Avenue January 26th, 2018

It was a surprisingly sunny and warm (41 degrees F) today and it felt warmer than the temperature let on. It was a beautiful, clear sunny day and I decided to continue my walk on the Upper East Side, venturing from East 84th Street to East 72nd Street. Even though I have been visiting this area for years by way of the museums, I had never ventured this far to the East River.

My day started with a walking tour of the Asian Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 1000 Fifth Avenue and the new “Chinese Scrolls Exhibition”. The Asian Galleries have been updated over the years and the new exhibition was displaying recent acquisitions of the collection plus newer pieces based on the Master’s in the collection.

Metropolitan Museum of Art II

The Metropolitan Museum of Art at 1000 Fifth Avenue

It was eye-opening to me the perspective of nature that they had in ancient times versus the growth and building of today. It was interesting to hear the difference between how the artists used ancient art as an inspiration for their perspective on the how the location in nature should look. These tours attract lots of people who are not from the cellphone set.

Metropolitan Museum of art.jpg

‘Chinese Scrolls Exhibition’ at the Met

I started the walk as I exited the museum. It was such a beautiful day that I thought it would be fun to walk around the neighborhood and really explore the Upper East Side. It really has changed over the last ten to fifteen years. It has always been a very expensive area but it looks more expensive now. Not only have the apartment buildings changed but the stores and parks as well.

I have noticed over the duration of this walk that the area keeps getting knocked down for bigger and more glossier buildings. The older brownstone covered streets are giving way to large box-like apartment buildings whose character is not the same and changes the complexity and look of the grid pattern. It’s hard to believe it is getting generic.

Another thing I have noticed on these walks especially as I have gotten below 96th Street is the amount of empty store fronts. I know as I revisit the old neighborhoods I have already walked that this is happening, it is becoming an epidemic in the expensive areas as well. I noticed that in areas of Fifth and Madison Avenue, there are a lot more empty store fronts and then the expensive stores are being pushed to Lexington and Third Avenues, pushing the moderate restaurants and shops out of the neighborhood. I hate to clue these landlords in on this but not everyone needs $300.00 shoes or a $16.00 hamburger and this is happening in places like Harlem as well.

Where this character has not changed is as you exit the museum and walk down Fifth Avenue, which has not changed too much over the years in on 79th Street just off Fifth Avenue where a line of ‘Gilded Age’ mansions still exist. I bet most people don’t see this row of grand old mansions that are now being used as stores and embassies. I am sure that a few are still private but these homes were expensive to maintain back then and went out of vogue after Income Tax was established.

Mansions on 79th Street

What’s left from the Gilded Age on East 79th Street

Take time out and stop at the Ukrainian Institute of America right around the corner from the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 2 East 79th Street. This museum is dedicated to art from the Ukraine and artists from both here and abroad.  The Institute was founded in 1948 and moved to its new home in the Sinclair-Fletcher home in 1955.

Ukranian Institute of Americath

The Ukrainian Institute of America is at 2 East 79th Street and should not be missed.

 

Ukrainian Institute

The art of royalty is interesting by artist Vasyl Diadyniuk

Really take time to walk down 79th Street on the north side between Fifth and Madison Avenues to get a good look at the detail of these stone masterpieces. They don’t build homes like this anymore and I don’t think we have the stone masons around to do them again. It is hard to believe for most of these residents this was one of four homes.

I took a quick swing into Central Park to see Cleopatra’s Needle, which is located behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art located by East 81st Street. This obelisk was erected February 22nd, 1881. It was secured in May 1877 by Judge Elbert E. Farnam, the then-United State Consul General at Cairo as a gift the Khedive for the United States for remaining friendly neutral as the European powers, France and Britain, maneuvered to secure political control of the Egyptian Government (Wikipedia). The twin was given to the British and resides London.

Cleopatra's Needle II.jpg

Cleopatra’s Needle in Central Park

Although this is a genuine ancient Egyptian obelisk, it has no connection to Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt. It was already over a thousand years old in her lifetime. The obelisk, which originally stood in the ancient city of Alexandria were made during the reign of Thutmose III in the 18th Dynasty (Wikipedia). Since their arrival in New York City, there has been a lot of wear and tear on this statue and the elements have worn down a lot of the carving. Still this is something that you should not miss when visiting the neighborhood.

After I turned the corner onto East 72nd Street, I walked the length of the street until I hit FDR Drive and took a walk around the busy through-way. Walking along FDR Drive is always interesting because there is no clear path down the road. As I have said in previous walks, it is not the most scenic route and cars just love to honk at you.

As you make the turn around to head north, I discovered John Jay Park, located between East 76th  and East 78th Streets. This park is very nicely situated by the East River and offers great views of the ever changing Queens waterfront. I swear, they must be knocking everything down on that side of the river to build new apartment buildings. They must have great views of the skyline.

John Jay Park

John Jay Park

John Jay was a prominent statesman and was elected the President of the First Continental Congress in 1778. He served as Minister to Spain, drafted New York’s first constitution in 1777, served as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1789-1795) and lastly served two consecutive terms as the Governor of New York (1795-1801). Imagine in today’s turmoil in the government trying to do all that. A very impressive man with a very impressive park named after him (NYC Parks History).

John Jay

John Jay, Statesman

Another unique feature to the park is the sculptures installed on the west side of the park in 1979 by artist Douglas Abdell. The artist, who is originally from Boston got his BA in Art from Syracuse University and currently lives in Spain. The artist’s sculptures are created in steel, bronze or stone (Wiki).

These are made of welded steel, painted black and are meant to frame space and define irregular areas. He has been quoted as saying, “that each sculpture as a building block of something potentially more complex as the alphabet is the basis of the written language” and calls the works “The Aebyad Series” (NYC Parks History).

Douglas Abdell artist.jpg

Douglas Abdell with his work

https://www.askart.com/artist/Douglas_Abdell/103789/Douglas_Abdell.aspx

This two structures are located just south of the entrance of the park and are very geometric looking, done in twisted black steel. They are in the pathway between East 75th and 76th Streets. Take time to really look at them. The work is unique.

Abdell Statue.jpg

Abdell Statue in John Jay Park

Outside the views of the park and the art work, they also house much needed public bathrooms so plan your trip accordingly as there are no public bathrooms until you hit Carl Schurz Park up on East 84th Street.

Across the street from the park is a very unusual apartment building, 516 & 517 Cherokee Place, with the most beautiful wrought iron features along all the windows. It looks like something built for New Orleans. The green color of the metal accents the building perfectly and meshes well with the greens of the park. This historic building lines the park and when you look in has a courtyard. It really does add something to the park and P.S. 158 next door. That extra character that makes the neighborhood.

Cherokee Place

Cherokee Place Apartments by John Jay Park

This interesting building was built between 1909 and 1911 as the Shively Sanitary Tenements and designed by Henry Atterbury Smith with the assistance of Mrs. William Kissam Vanderbilt. The building was designed with a sense of style and space and offer circulation in its approach (City Realty).

I did the whole walk around John Jay Park along Cherokee Place and watched as some city workers were cleaning and sweeping the outside of the park. God, did they give me a funny look when I watched them. They actually looked guilty (they could have done a better job of cleaning up the leaves and garbage).

I took an unusual path as I walked up the elevated extension of FDR Drive, which offers great views of the river along the waterfront to Carl Schurz Park and then I doubled back and walked up and down East End Avenue, which only goes from East 79th Street to East 90th Street. I swear that most of East End Avenue is being knocked down for newer big apartment buildings. This is what I mean by the character of the neighborhood changing. The whole block felt like it was under scaffolding. I walked up and down both sides of the block to see the work being done.

Carl Schurz Park IV

Carl Schulz Park in the early Spring

I doubled back and walked up and down York Avenue as well. It is also under the same transition but only on the Avenue sides.  There are some nice businesses and restaurants along York Avenue you can stop at along the way. I stopped back at Carl Schurz Park at East 84th Street for a breather and to just look at the view. It really has the most spectacular view of Randalls-Ward Island and Roosevelt Island and the East River and on a sunny warm day, it is a nice place for break.

Roosevelt Tram

Roosevelt Island

I could hear all the noise and commotion from the kids at P.S. 158 at 78th and York Avenue, who were either playing outside in the cool weather or singing in one of the classes. I swear not much has changed since I went to elementary school. The school is a beautiful old building that was built in the late 1800’s and just went through a full renovation to bring it back to its elegant beauty. This was built at a time when education was truly valued. I could not believe all the parents waiting outside talking amongst themselves in the cold.

I continued walking east across East 84th Street, the border of Yorkville with the Upper East Side and took a lunch break at 83 Asian at 1605 Second Avenue (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) and a much needed sit. The food is excellent here and over two trips to it made the cut for my own blog site.

Asian 83

Asian 83

For lunch, I ordered a Beef with String Beans that was freshly cooked in front of me and came out on a timely basis steaming hot. The beef was so tender and was cooked in a combination of what seemed like soy and Hunan sauce with perfectly cooked string beans. The portion size for lunch was large and was my lunch and dinner. Their eggrolls are really good as well full of pork and vegetables. The service is really good as well as the cooks are friendly and very welcoming. Lunch cost only $10.10!

beef with string beans

83 Asian’s food is excellent

I walked the rest of East 84th Street until I hit Central Park again and then walked down the opposite side of Fifth Avenue near the museum and started in the other direction. On the north side of East 72nd Street, there is a graceful and elegant building that was once the Henry T. Sloane Mansion that is located at 9 East 72nd Street.

The confectionery of a building was designed Carrere & Hastings in the late French Renaissance style in 1894 and built for Henry T. Sloane, the son of the founders of the carpet firm W & J Sloane. It housed a private school until recently and is now once again a private home. Look up at all the beautiful detail work in the stone and the accents along the roof of the house. The masonry is superb and the house has been been so nicely restored.

Henry Sloane Mansion

Henry Sloane Mansion

Having walked both sides of FDR Drive (to what you can), East End Avenue and York Avenue, I re-walked York Avenue again to look at the Henderson Place homes by Carl Schurz Park and East 86th Street one more time. These homes are such a special and unique part of the neighborhood and if the builders had known how expensive they would become 100 years later would have probably built more of them.

Henderson Historical District

Henderson Place Historic District by Carl Schulz Park

https://www.brickunderground.com/blog/2015/07/the_most_charming_manhattan_area_youve_probably_never_heard_of

The homes were built by developer John. C. Henderson as small homes for the working class. The developer has architects Lamb and Rich, who had designed Sagamore Hill, the home of President Theodore Roosevelt. There were originally 32 homes but were reduced to 24 for build the luxury Henderson House next store twenty years later. It was also one of the first districts to be landmarked in New York City (Brick Underground).

Henderson Historical District II

If you can sneak in, the Henderson District is very interesting to see

Having walked both sides of Fifth Avenue and all of East 84th I took a pit stop at Glaser’s Bakery at 1670 1st Avenue (Now Closed: see my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for some dessert. I swear that I think I am walking the Upper East Side first just so that I can go there before I take the subway back downtown. I love this place!

Glazer's Bake Shop

Glaser’s Bakery (Now closed)

The ladies recommended a sugar cake doughnut ($1.25) and the apple turnover ($2.50) and since I could not decide between the two, I bought both and God, were they good. The apple turnover alone had the sweetest and tartest apples and a thick layer of icing that made the twelve block by nine block walk well worth it. I figured I could just walk them off again. I highly recommend the cake doughnuts as well.

I was finished doing the perimeter of the neighborhood just as it was getting dark so I will be doing all the Avenues and Streets for another day.

There is a lot more to see and do on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

 

Things to see:

 

Ukrainian Institute of America

2 East 79th Street

New York, NY  10021

(212) 288-8660

Welcome to the UIA

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

Fee: Adults $8.00/ Seniors $6.00/ Students with current ID $4.00/Children under 12 Free/ Members Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d5953575-Reviews-Ukrainian_Institute_of_America-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3048

 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY  10028

(212) 535-7710

https://www.metmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday-Thursday 10:00am-5:30pm/Friday & Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

Fee: Adults $25.00/Seniors $17.00/Students $12.00/Children under 12 and Members Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d105125-Reviews-The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Cleopatra’s Needle

Located behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art @ East 81st Street

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d1959031-Reviews-Cleopatra_s_Needle-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/1855

 

John Jay Park

Between East 76th and 78th Street off Cherokee Place

New York, NY  10021

(212) 794-6566

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/john-jay-park-and-pool

Open: Sunday-Saturday 7:00am-10:00pm

 

Carl Schurz Park

Between East 84th Street and East 90th Street off East End Avenue

New York, NY 10021

(212) 459-4455

https://www.carlschurzparknyc.org/

Open: 6:00am-12:00am

 

Henry T. Sloane House

9 East 72nd Street

New York, NY 10021

(Private Home)

 

Henderson Place

East End Avenue between East 86th and East 88th Streets across from Carl Schurz Park

New York, NY 10021

(Private Homes)

https://www.brickunderground.com/blog/2015/07/the_most_charming_manhattan_area_youve_probably_never_heard_of

 

The Abdell Statues

Between East 75th and 76th Streets in John Jay Park

New York, NY  10021

https://www.askart.com/artist/Douglas_Abdell/103789/Douglas_Abdell.aspx

 

Restaurants:

Glaser’s Bakery (now closed)

1670 1st Avenue

New York, NY  10128

(212) 289-2562

http://www.glasersbakeshop.com

My Review on Tripadvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d930552-Reviews-Glaser_s_Bake_Shop-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/409

 

83 Asian Chinese Cuisine

1605 2nd Avenue

New York, NY  10028

Phone: (212) 288-0622 & 0633

Fax: (212) 288-0699

My review on Tripadvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d13433935-Reviews-83_Asian_Chinese_Cuisine-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/534

 

 

 

Spartan's in the Park

Day Seventy-Two: Michigan State University New York Chapter and New York Cares clean up Claremont Park in the South Bronx April 22nd, 2017

I took time out of the walk to visit another section of the city. I am a member of the New York City Chapter of the Michigan State University Alumni Association and as part of the New York Cares Day in which organizations all over the city do volunteer work to better the city, I joined the Big Ten Coalition to help clean up and repair a park in New York City.

I swear it was the gloomiest day when we met at the park and getting to Claremont Park is not the easiest place to go. It is located just off the Grand Concourse off Clay Avenue between Mount Eden Parkway and East 170th Street. I took the D subway train up to the Bronx and because I could not hear the announcements, so I got off at 163rd Street by Yankee Stadium. Because I was already late and wanted to get to the park, I walked the rest of the way. Trust me, it was not the most glamorous walk I have ever taken. I felt safer in Harlem and Bushwick before walking above Yankee Stadium.

We were supposed to paint the benches and gazebo, pick up garbage and weed and rake up leaves but because the weather was so bad and we did not have all the volunteers we were supposed to have show up, we ended up raking up the leaves in one section of the park and picking up the garbage. The garbage I could understand but the leaves in the woods could have stayed. After all it was compost. No one listened to me and we ended up cleaning up the whole woods.

Claremont Park

Claremont Park later that Summer when it was nice out

The results were good and it looked very professional when we were finished. We filled up 99 bags of trash, leaves and compost. We also picked up all the dead branches in the area so that section of the park looked really nice. The northern section of the park had already been seeded and was fenced off so there was not much to do there. There was a lot of painting to do in the park but that was for another day. It started to pour down rain when we finished and our leader of the group (I know this kid must have been in a sorority at MSU) tried to pep us up to finish. Everyone just went to the bathroom or back to the gazebo and relaxed.

Both the park manager from the NYC Parks System and a local resident thanked me personally for helping out and that made it well worth it. I was glad I was able to give back to the city and that the residents of this area have a better, cleaner park for it. It made the project well worth it. The only problem I had was the massive case of poison ivy I got a few days later.  This would last for three months. Not fun!

Anyway this is my dedication to the Green and White!

Go Spartans!!!

 

Places to Visit:

 

Claremont Park

Clay Avenue & 1816

East 178th Street

The Bronx, NY  10457

(212) 639-9675

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

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

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/claremont-park/history

The Halloween Parade 2016

Day Fifty-Seven: Marshaling ‘The Halloween Parade’ in New York City October 31, 2016

Halloween has never meant ‘Trick or Treating’ to me.  Even as a child, I was bored with it by the sixth grade and did not want to go out for it anymore. I liked it better when I got to college and was able to be on the entertaining part of it. I would assist other student government leaders in entertaining small children during the holiday.

As an adult, I still assist with the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department on the town’s Rag-a-Muffin parade and the holiday party over my years as a fireman. What I enjoy the most is volunteering for the Annual Halloween Parade in New York City and seeing the magic of a parade come to life.

For the last three years, I have worked with a very distant cousin of mine through marriage, Mark Schuyler, whose family married into mine (the Beekman family) about 150 years ago so hence I tease him and call him my cousin. Over the past few years we have assisted in getting performing groups in the parade to where they are supposed to be and keeping the wondering tourists and demanding New Yorkers out of the parade staging area. I can’t believe how many people feel because they live in Manhattan that they are ‘entitled’ to enter the parade staging area to watch the parade come to life. We have too many people to attend to and we are ‘working’ even in volunteer form.

My ‘cousin’, Mark Schuyler and I at the gate at the Halloween Parade

Watching the magic of our founder, Jeanne Fleming, as the parade gets bigger and more creative by the year, you can see the countless hours that so many volunteers put into making this parade special. I am a seven year Alumnus of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (with my seven years as a Macy’s executive in the Buying Offices) and know what it takes to organize a parade. This is more of a ‘peoples’ parade as the people who join the parade whether in a group holding puppets, performing in a band or waving on a float, these costumed participants are what make this parade special and add that spark to how real people mold this parade into what it has become.

Jeanne Fleming

Jeanne Fleming, our fearless leader at the Halloween Parade NYC

It is always an exciting night. We must have had a good group or I am just used to people trying to pull one over on me that I found it easier to get people in and out of the parade route. They will tell you every story to get in and no one wants to pay attention because we ‘know nothing’. I love when the answer always ends with ‘but I am a New Yorker!’ Great everyone, so are millions of others who know the rules of parade route. We are lucky to have the NYPD with us the whole time. A beefy police officer walking towards you usually ends the conversation.

When we finish our duties of getting all the talent to where they need to go, around 7:30pm, I get to see the rest of the volunteers work their part of the magic. You should see how the volunteers and the NYPD keep the order of thousands of people in costume walking in the parade and how it is coordinated with floats and marching bands. It is quite a feat. I have never seen people have more fun marching in a parade and showing off the creativity of their costumes or just enjoying the evening with family and friends. The parade route just keeps getting deeper and deeper every year as the reputation of the parade keeps getting bigger.

Halloween Parade 2019

What really makes the Halloween Parade successful is the people who are participate. The thousands of New Yorkers, residents from the surrounding states and the foreign tourists that add their enthusiasm and sense of excitement of either watching or participating in the parade. I talked with people all night and it seems tourists from all over the world came downtown to see the parade. Even little kids came down dressed up for the evening who might not celebrate Halloween in their country.

Because I have to work the parade, I get to see the staging area of the parade on Sixth Avenue and I got to see the last of the floats and bands head uptown. The evening had been rather warm for Halloween Day but as it wore on it did get cooler and I could not believe some of the costumes these Caribbean and Brazilian groups were wearing on a cold night. It was not the tropics outside and I did not know how far some of these women were going to go before they had to put a coat on.

As the last of the bands heading uptown around 9:00pm, there were still hundreds of people in costume waiting to walk the parade route. It was cool but not cold that night but some of the people in costume I knew would not last long walking uptown. They were just not dressed for a cool New York night. Some of the costumes I did see really sparked with creativity from members of the books “The Wizard of Oz” and “Alice in Wonderland” to the casts of “101 Dalmatians” and “Star Wars”, some showed the time and effort of getting ready for a one night event. Others were standard but original costumes from cowboys and Indians to robots, witches, Demons and cheerleaders. Each one adding their own charm to the event.

Our last part of the evening for the crew of the parade was an after-party that one of the production company’s had for us. It was in a very nice loft near the NYU campus and I was not sure how many people they were expecting but one tray of ziti and one tray of ravioli is not enough for the hundred people that came through that night. We were all exhausted and cold from being outside all night.

As I took the subway back to Port Authority to go home, I saw costumed people walking all over the city, on the streets and in the subways. Plus the hundreds of people walking around going into restaurants and bars all over the city. As I learned from last year, restaurants all over lower Manhattan that stayed open even as far as Chinatown and Little Italy were busy for the rest of the evening.

This is my third year of working on parade and I can tell you it is never dull and gets more exciting every year.

This is the parade in 2016. I give the YouTube contributor credit for this video. I was working that day.

 

The Halloween Parade 2016

Manhattanhenge on the Upper West Side

Day Forty-Eight: Manhattanhenge at the Museum of Natural History July 12, 2016

Twice a year a phenomenon called ‘Manhattanhenge’ happens in Manhattan, a time of the year when the sun perfectly aligns with the grid pattern of the city.  Based on the theory of Stonehenge in England without the religious connotations, the sun sets between the buildings of Manhattan in perfect form. This is the third time I have seen this happen and you never get tired of seeing it but it does drain your eyes. It really is pretty amazing and makes me think that maybe two hundred years from now that someone might theorize that Manhattan might have been gridded for that reason when we all know that it is just a natural phenomenon.

Manhattanhenge, sometimes referred to as the Manhattan Solstice,  is an event during which the setting sun is aligned with the east-west streets of the main grid of Manhattan. This occurs twice a year on dates evenly spaced around the Summer Solstice. The first Manhattanhenge occurs around May 28th while the second occurs around July 12th.

Manhattanhendge III

The term “Manhattanhenge’ was popularized by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History. It is reference to Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England, which was constructed so that the rising sun, seen from the center of the monument at the time of the summer solstice, aligns with the outer ‘Heel Stone’.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson

In accordance with the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, the street grid for most of Manhattan is rotated 20 degrees clockwise from true east-west. Thus, when the azimuth for sunset aligns with the streets on that grid. A more impressive visual spectacle and the one commonly referred to as Manhattanhenge, when a pedestrian looking down the center line of the street westwards towards New Jersey can see the full solar disk slightly above the horizon the time the last of the sum disappears below the horizon. The precise dates of Manhattanhenge depend on the date of the summer solstice, which varies from year to year but remains close to June 21st. (Wikipedia)

Manhattanhendge

We started the program in the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History with an explanation of the event and how it hits the grid pattern. Then how it ties into the summer solstice. Then the staff got us out in time at 8:20pm to see the setting of the sun.

American Museum of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History

The museum had 79th Street closed off to us and it was nice to see it from the middle of the street on a hill overlooking New Jersey. It happens really fast so you have to be there in time. This was third time I had seen it so I knew what I was looking at but I have to say it is something you have to see once. It is pretty amazing how the sun falls right between the buildings from the street.

It has also grown in popularity as well. When I first went, they could only close off a small portion of 79th Street and we had to keep running in the middle of the street with cars buzzing by and it was just a small handful of people. Now the whole street was packed with people with their obnoxious cell phones taking pictures and shooting films. Someone kept playing the Beatles ‘Here comes the Sun’ while he was filming it.

Manhattanhendge II

It was quite the site watching the sun set. Last year the clouds rolled in at the last minute. This year, it was clear and the sun set perfectly between the buildings. Everyone seemed very impressed by it all.

This coupled with my walk of Hamilton Place for the second time up in Harlem made for a nice evening. This is when you discover all the little ‘gems’ of Manhattan that most visitors don’t see. As I was walking down Columbus Avenue, a couple asked me what everyone was doing on the street and I told them we were watching ‘Manhattanhenge’  and then explained it. I said “only crazy New Yorkers come to see this but it is really something to see” and they looked at each other and then said to me “We wished we had known”and the wife said they may have to come back next year.

Everyone you have to see this once. You have to experience it to know what I am talking about. It is one of those things you only see when walking the streets of Manhattan.

Places to Visit:

The American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street

New York, NY  10024

(212) 769-5100

https://www.amnh.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d210108-Reviews-American_Museum_of_Natural_History-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Check the website each year for Manhattanhenge that takes place in the late Spring or early Summer.

 

 

 

 

 

The High Bridge in High Bridge Park

Day Forty-One: Walking Dyckman Street through Harlem River Drive & FDR Drive 207th Street to 155th Street March 23, 2016

The weather finally broke and it was a nice day to continue the walk. It has been a mild winter but it is hard to find time to do much with work and my volunteer activities plus the job search to keep me busy. Wednesday brought a sunny, warm day to New York City and I was going to take full advantage of it. After a busy morning at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, I took the A Train up to 207th Street and was about to complete the last leg of Washington Heights. I walked the entire stretch of Dyckman Street leading to Harlem River Drive to FDR Drive which covers the whole east side of the river. This part of my walk took from 1:45pm to 7:15pm. I walked fifty-two blocks both ways with stops in all parts of High Bridge Park.

First off, there are many changes going on all over Washington Heights since I started the walk in June. There is scaffolding all over the place and many businesses are starting to change hands. There have been more upscale looking restaurants opening up all over the neighborhood, more renovations in the parks and more white residents jogging in the parks and walking their dogs is telling me that the neighborhood is transitioning. So many apartment buildings and brownstones are being renovated that the whole look of the neighborhood is changing.

I started the walk on Dyckman Street walking by the very top of High Bridge Park by Fort George Hill right across from the Dyckman Houses. This part of the park could be quite pretty if it were not so full of trash. The beautiful rolling hills and trees are loaded down with garbage. It’s sad in that this part of the park is in such bad shape since it gives the impression of what Manhattan must have looked like when the Dutch arrived with rock formations and hanging trees. If cleaned up and properly landscaped, it could be breathtaking.

Inwood Hill Park IV

The entrance to High Bridge Park by Dyckman Street and the Dyckman Houses

I walked down Harlem River Drive making stops inside High Bridge Park along the way. It is sad that most of the park is full of trash and not well maintained. All along the highway though interesting rock formations and flowering trees enhanced what you really saw by walking next to it.

By the time you get to 175th Street, you can’t walk any farther and you have to make your way into the park, which I had been through many months before the Fall. The parks system is working on the pathway from 175th Street to about 170th and then it stops again. You will have to walk down Amsterdam Avenue to about 166th Street where the park meets the local school parks and then take the path extension through High Bridge Park.

During the day, I would trust this path but I would not venture through it after twilight. As you wind down the paths, go off the beaten track around 170th Street and you will see all the natural cliffs that overlook the Bronx. This winding pathways can be rugged so make sure you have comfortable walking shoes when venturing off the paths. The natural rock formations are unusual and there are many places to view the surrounding area.

What was fascinating was the graffiti art work by the overpass at 175th Street. This form of tagging is all over Upper Manhattan and rather than a hindrance, the artists (or ‘taggers’) have an interesting display of faces and animals that would belong in any inventive gallery. The ‘x’ed out eyes on some of the cartoon like work hark back to the work of Keith Haring in the 80’s. Since these band of ‘gangs’ often paint over each other’s work, these pieces of art are in a constant state of flux and are ever changing.

High Bridge Park V

High Bridge Park in not so good light

The famous High Bridge Water Tower that is located in the park between West 173rd and 174th streets was built in 1866-72 to help meet the increasing demands on the city’s water system. The 200 foot octagonal tower was designed by John B. Jervis in a mixture of the Romanesque Revival and neo-Grec styles and was accompanied by a 7-arce reservoir.

The High Bridge system reached its full capacity by 1875. With the opening of the Croton Aqueduct, the High Bridge system became less relied upon; during World War I it was completely shut down when sabotage was feared. In 1949, the tower was removed from service and a carillon was installed in 1958. The tower and the cupola were rehabilitated and restored in 1989-90 and the tower was designated a NYC landmark in 1967. Located behind the Highbridge Play Center, it is fenced off and you can only see it from a distance. (Wikipedia).

Water Tower High Bridge Park

The Water Tower in High Bridge Park

The Highbridge Play Center located at West 172nd and West 174th Streets was built between 1934-36 in the Art Moderne style. It was built on the site of the reservoir and features a very large swimming pool that has been closed since the Summer. It was designated a NYC Landmark in 2007. (Wikipedia).

These two landmarks are located once you exit the path off Harlem River Drive and take some time to walk around this part of the park. Another landmark you should not miss is the High Bridge, which is the oldest standing bridge in NYC. Built in 1848, it was built to carry the Old Croton Aqueduct over the Harlem River. (Wikipedia).

The bridge is fun to walk over and offers the most beautiful views of the river and the surrounding park. On a clear day, you can see for miles around and once the foliage comes back a nice view of the park.

High Bridge Park II

The Bridge

The pathway brought me back to the Morris-Jumel Mansion park, which I had visited right after the holidays and to the end of the park at 155th Street. I exited the park at 158th Street and walked down the Historic Brush Staircase.

Named after John T. Brush, the owner of the New York Giants baseball team that used to play in the Polo Grounds, the stairs were built in 1913 and were used to go from the ticket booth that was located on the top of Edgecombe Avenue to the stadium below. When the Giants moved out and the stadium was knocked down in 1967 to be replaced by a public housing project in 1968, the stairs were in a state of disrepair. (Google).

Brush Staircase

Brush Staircase

Renovated in 2014 and rededicated, the stairs takes you from the top of the park at 158th Street back down to Harlem River Drive. The stairs are a steep walk so remember to hold onto the rail on the way down. At the bottom of the stairs is a very scary vendor selling Spanish food that looks like it has not passed inspection so avoid it and maybe grab a coke like I did that afternoon. Make sure to look at the inscription on the stairs as it harks back to a time when this was a major sports area and a footnote in NYC sports.

I ended the afternoon by crossing 155th Street and walking down the stairs by the bridge into the lower part of 155th Street where the public housing was located. I have to say that I was pretty naïve to walk through this area with my ‘CIA’ hat on (Culinary Institute of America where I am an Alumni).

The Polo Ground Towers are a 15.5 acre parcel of land in which four 30 story towers were built on the site of the old stadium. It was a scary part of the walk as even the cops that were located by the Community Center would not get out of their car. It was funny though in that no one looked at me weird or even bothered my but I could see that the firemen on the fire truck exiting the projects and the police looked at me strange.

Polo Grounds Apartment

Polo Grounds Apartments

Everyone who lived there just went upon their business without even noticing me and I just walked around the projects down 155th Street and up and around Fredrick Douglas Drive and around Harlem River Drive West. There is a series of supermarkets, convenience stores and small restaurants. The area is isolated and pretty self-contained. I have to admit it is not the most pleasant place to live and looks plagued with problems.

The funny part is that when you cross the street onto 154th Street, you can see where the buildings are starting to renovate and it looks like new residents are moving into the area just one block away. I made my rounds down Fredrick Douglas Boulevard around the block and headed around the projects on my way back to Harlem River Drive and then crossed over to the overpass where the sidewalk started to go back up Harlem River Drive across from the end of the projects. That was another interesting part of the walk.

As you walk up the left side of the highway facing the river, you will realize the true beauty of Manhattan island by way of the river. Many pleasure boats, rowing teams and flocks of birds habitat this area. It has a whole culture just based on the river and from across the street you don’t see the faults of High Bridge Park. Just the visuals of the park and the rock formations jutting out.

As I finished the walk at Dyckman Street and crossed over Broadway, all the upscale outdoor cafes were open and loaded with customers signaling that the warm weather was back and winter might finally be over. Mother Nature has a way of toying with us but it looks like the cold days are behind us and we are looking forward to a warm Spring ahead.

Places to Visit:

High Bridge Park

190th Street and Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY 10040

(212) 639-9675

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

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d8377627-Reviews-The_High_Bridge-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905