I am not usually into the ‘touristy things’ in New York City but this was a special day and I wanted to experience something different. All this walking around the Island of Manhattan to explore what was there lead me to think “what about riding around it?” What does it look like from the rivers and what do the neighborhoods look like that I visited so many months or years ago? What can this modern day Henry Hudson see from the water view? This lead me to take the “Best of NYC Cruise”, the full Circle around the Island of Manhattan. It was a nice afternoon where someone else did the driving.
Unfortunately the weather was cloudy and a little gloomy but still warm with no chance of rain when I got to Pier 83 on West 42nd Street and 12th Street at 12:30pm and bought my ticket. There was a chance of clearing later in the day so I figured ‘let’s go!’ I was surprised that on a early October afternoon in the middle of the week that the boat would be so crowded. There was loads of people from different countries who had the same idea that I had that day.
The entrance to the Circle Line at Pier 83 in Manhattan
I took the last cruise of the day at 1:30pm hoping it would warm up and it ended up being in the low 70’s that afternoon, nice enough to sit outside and enjoy the sites. The Circle Line is really nice in that you can either sit in the middle of the ship and up above inside and on the top of the outside and no matter where you sit (depending on the number of people taking pictures) you will have a great view of everything. My recommendation is to sit where I sat, on the top deck, outside in the front where the isle is located. Here when you are tall you can stretch your legs especially when you are tall like me.
The tour starts out at Pier 83 on the far West Side and be prepared for a long line that goes very quickly. I have to admit that the tourists that I travelled with were a very orderly and polite bunch until we got to Liberty Island and toured around the Statue of Liberty. Even on a gloomy day it is an impressive site that I never get tired of looking at. It still to me means America and a promise of better things to come. It still amazes me after all of these years and I have been coming to the island since I was eight. You have to think that my family saw this site when they came here over a hundred years ago.
We did a two time tour around the island so that everyone could take pictures and I swear that I thought the boat would tilt with all of those people taking pictures on that side of the rail. It really was a great site to see.
The views of Lower Manhattan are still breathtaking and even after the Towers fell still and the area rebuilt it still has an air of money and power and the extent of the influence of Wall Street to the rest of the world. I don’t think there is any other city on earth that has this type of powerful image than Manhattan. There were many group shots here as well. To the other side of the boat, I could see the forts and lawns of Governours Island, which I had visited last summer.
Lower Manhattan and Governours Island
Once we were past those two photo shots, people sat and relaxed for the rest of the trip. Our next stop was South Street Seaport and the view of the Brooklyn Bridge. I think this is just as iconic as the Statue of Liberty and the view of Lower Manhattan but it did not garner that same attention. I thought it was impressive to go under the bridge and see the under workings of the it.
After going under the Brooklyn Bridge, what really impressed me was the view of the Brooklyn side of the East River. I can not believe how much the coast line had changed and the beauty of Brooklyn Bridge Park and all the buildings that have been built around it. I even saw that they have a Domino Sugar sign from the old factory building that used to be located there (Our family’s claim to fame is that it was my Great-Grandfather William Rochibowski, who used to be the man running the boilers at the factory in the early 1900’s).
Brooklyn Bridge Park is an impressive park and shows the extent of reclaimed land on the Brooklyn coastline that is being used for parks. It is impressive between the Brooklyn shoreline and Long Island City in Queens how much construction of office buildings and apartments is changing the way we look the East River. We have reclaimed the land so that everyone can use the parks and we can look at green again instead of manufacturing.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
As we crossed over East 43rd Street, I could see from the boat all the neighborhoods that I had recently visited over the summer including Turtle Bay, Sutton Place, Beekman Place and the recently visited Midtown East. I recognized all the apartment buildings and small parks that line the Manhattan side of the East River. It was interesting to see what they look like from the river side.
We passed by Roosevelt Island and I got to see the new Cornell Tech campus and the old hospital that is falling apart next to the new Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park that sits impressively on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island. It was equally impressive to see Lighthouse Park on the northern part of the island as well.
We passed the dreaded East River Houses that dominate the low 100’s along First Avenue and the bridge that will take you to Ward-Randall’s Island. Here you can see the walking paths, playing fields and the old stadium on the island. You could even see the people walking their dogs around the island and how busy it was during a work week. On the other side is HighBridge Park that lines the area from about 163rd Street to Dyckman Avenue. This park is rarely on the richter scale with tourists but it does have some of the most interesting rock formations even from the river view. It still reminds us of the Ice Age’s role in the formation of the island.
As we rounded the top half of Manhattan Island, I could see the commercial side of Inwood and Washington Heights where the Sanitation Department, Verizon and 207 Street Train Yard Facility are located. Visiting this part of the Island can be seen on this blog from Days One-Seven. It is hardly the Manhattan that most people know and you can see this even more from the river view how industrialized the area is from the deck.
When you finally cross under the Broadway Bridge under the tip of Manhattan, we crossed over to the west side of the island. We had to stop at the Amtrak bridge for them to move it for us to pass through and here you can see the giant “C” of Columbia University who has their rowing team facility in this area and their football stadium on top of the hill.
The Columbia ‘C’
It is a nice place to stop and relax as you can see the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, the Muscato Marsh (see my review on VisitingaMuseum.com) and the beginnings of Inwood Park with its large hills and virgin forest. Then you enter the Hudson River Basin and the beautiful extensive views of cliffs of the Palisades Parkway Park side of New Jersey. These areas were protected by the Rockefeller family when the area was bought for the construction of the Palisades Parkway in New Jersey and New York.
On the Manhattan side, we were treated to the woods and parks of Inwood and Riverside Parks with their wooded paths, barbecue areas and boat basins. It may not be the view Henry Hudson saw when he travelled the river but it close to it with the wooded hills. You could see the Cloisters Museum (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) from the hill in Fort Tyron Park and travelling down to where West 155th Street is located you can see the Trinity Church Cemetery with its winding hills of tombstones.
The Cloisters Museum
Going under the busy George Washington Bridge was interesting in that the bridge never slows down. It always seems to have traffic. Under the bridge you can see the historic site of the “Little Red Lighthouse” the inspiration for the children’s book “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge” (se my review on VisitingaMuseum.com).
Little Red Lighthouse
Below that is RiverBank Park on top of the Water Treatment plant. This interesting park I talked about visiting when blogging about Hamilton Heights. It has everything from ice skating to track to tennis. A fair trade off to clean our waters.
Below that it was the start of Riverside Park and seeing Grant’s Tomb where President Grant and his wife are interred (See my review on VisitingaMuseum.com) at the top of the park. In the background you can see the tops of the buildings at Columbia University.
From there we could see the beginnings of the Upper West Side and the sliver of Riverside Park that hugged the shoreline of this neighborhood. The one part that stands out is the new construction of Riverside Park South and the new park below it. These shiny towers give the West Side a contemporary modern look and show the optimism of building on this part of the Hudson River.
As we headed down the last stretch of the tour of the Hudson River on the way back to Pier 83, we passed the various piers of this part of the island showing its maritime and industrial history of the island.
Back at Pier 83
The Circle Line cruise to me was revisiting the neighborhoods I had already walked from a different perspective. When you walk the streets and parks of the island, you get to see the detail work of the buildings and the landscaped structure of the parks but from the rivers, you see it from the natural standpoint from the beauty of the parks to the dynamic of the buildings and the statements they make. It is one thing to see Grant’s Tomb or the Cloisters by visiting them and going inside of them but it is another to cruise past them and them becoming part of the landscape.
Sometimes being a tourist in New York City is fun!
My birthday Dinner:
For my birthday dinner that night, I ate at The Juicy Seafood Restaurant that I had passed when walking Turtle Bay for this blog. The Juicy Seafood at 1047A Second Avenue (see my review on TripAdvisor) is an interesting little seafood restaurant with a lively bar scene and an interesting music soundtrack playing.
The Juicy Seafood Restaurant
The food is wonderful. I had the Fried Shrimp basket ($13.00) was delicious. Eight well breaded and fried shrimp sat on top of a bed of French Fries. The shrimp were sweet and fresh and had a nice crunch to them.
The Fried Shrimp Basket
For dessert, I wanted a small birthday cake and went to Eclair Bakery at 305 East 53rd Street (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) to see what they had that night. I settled on a Lemon Cake ($4.00) that had a nice caramelized color to it and a layer of icing. This sweet dense cake perked me up immediately and was a nice way to complete my birthday evening. The simple things in life are the best!
There are times when a well-wishing is for something wonderful and there are times where it is for something sad.
This well wishing on the five year anniversary of my father’s passing is a celebration of life and an honorum to the man who inspired this blog for his sense of adventure and a will to never give up the fight. This is where my father inspired me to succeed in all the things that I do and the goals I want to still accomplish in life.
I always quoted to my students from the song “Happy Talk” from the movie “South Pacific” when Bloody Mary sings “You got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have your dreams come true?” If we don’t have the goals, dreams and desires in life, how can we inspire to them?
My father defied odds and attended his 60th High School Reunion in 2013
This very special blog comes when I have visited more than half the Island of Manhattan and look forward to walking the rest. My hope to all you readers who follow and enjoy this blog of joining me on “MywalkinManhattan”, that you are inspired to follow the dreams and goals that you have in life as well.
My dad with his granddaughter at the Reunion weekend in 2013
As I said on my first day of starting this project, walking the streets of Manhattan is not terribly original and three people I had read about had already finished walking or were in the process of finishing it when I started but I’d like to think I am showing the Island of Manhattan in a new light.
From pointing out all the wonderful things to do, see and eat, from indulging in pastries in bakeries in Washington Heights to finding the most interesting street art in Spanish Harlem to seeing New York Harbor at night with the Statue of Library lit behind it to having you join me on all the walking tours I have been on in different parts of the City when things I had not noticed were pointed out to me that you are looking at New York City in a different light.
So to my father, whom I miss everyday, I love you and miss you!
Dad and I at the ‘Grandparent’s Day Brunch’ fundraiser for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library 2013.
Walking the streets of Midtown East is very different from all the other neighborhoods that I have walked so far. The character of the neighborhood differs so much in that it is mostly commercial with hotels, specialty shops, office buildings and more residential on the upper parts of the neighborhood than any other part of the City. When you walk down the side streets of Midtown East, you are usually passing a building that stretches from one block to the other with nothing much in between but a loading dock or garage for the employees. Most of the smaller buildings and brownstones have been long knocked down and replaced with large office buildings some of which the character lacks in these giant ‘glass boxes’.
I know in the past few years that New York City has allowed more innovation in building design and there has been more original designs then the original 1980’s ‘glass boxes’ but even now there are a lot of makeovers that are happening all over the neighborhood and you will be dodging scaffolding that I have not seen since my days walking Harlem. From block to block especially as you get closer to Grand Central Station, there are many closed sidewalks and you can only walk on one side of the street.
Grand Central Station sits at the head of this neighborhood
With that said, there are still many hidden treasures to find if you just look up and across and they just jump out on you. It is surprising in this ever changing neighborhood of soaring towers and busy hotels that tucked here and there are public atriums with places to sit and tiny cafes inside them that cater to the busy lunch crowd. Small brownstones here and there around the neighborhood have survived the wrecking ball and now house small cottage businesses and some upscale boutiques. I even found a few waterfalls along the way. I started my walk on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, which is becoming like an old friend. East 59th Street with its luxury shops and hotels is going through a transition itself since the domination of the internet.
Many of the luxury stores from Steuben Glass to the old FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue have either disappeared or have moved to other parts of Midtown. Even the Barney’s New York on Madison Avenue on the edge of the Upper East Side neighborhood has filed for bankruptcy sighting changing tastes (people just don’t dress like that anymore) and the cost of doing business in a Brick & Mortar store which such high rents. I really don’t think honestly that people can afford these places anymore and if they can, will order it online not having to deal with the sometimes indifferent service you get now in stores (I experienced this feeling in Paul Stuart when I walked in twice with shorts). The result is a lot of empty retail space.
This is changing though with the remodeling of the older office buildings with new facelifts and newer foreign stores coming into the neighborhood. Even so, look again for the open-air museum of artwork all over the streets and in the lobbies of these soaring office buildings. When walking down East 58th Street, I came across the sculpture “Rondo” by artist Tony Rosenthal in 1969 in front of 127 East 58th Street. This interesting circular sculpture is made of welded bronze.
‘Rondo’ by artist Tony Rosenthal
Tony Rosenthal was known for his large ‘Monumental Public Art Sculptures’ that appeared in cities all over the United States. Mr. Rosenthal had studied at the Chicago Institute of Art and in the 1960’s concentrated on large Abstract Geometric Sculptures. With his “Rondo” series in the 1960’s, it is noted that “Tony Rosenthal finds, discovers and reports to us what we might not have seen without him” (Tony Rosenthal biography).
Artist Tony Rosenthal in New York City
Take a look at the detail work of 480 Park Avenue on the corner of Park Avenue and East 58th Street. Designed by architect Emery Roth in 1929, notice the terracotta detail work all over the building. It is one of the great residential buildings where each apartment had working fireplaces and high ceilings.
Look at the detail work at 480 Park Avenue
One building that stands out on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 57th Street is the Cohen Building at 135 East 57th Street with its soaring floors and interesting entrance with a ringed pavilion. This 31 story commercial office building has a unique circular path for vehicles up from and pillared terrace entrance. The architect is Kohn Pederson Fox Associates and was built in 1987 in the ‘Post-Modern’ design with a plaza in the front of a concave tower. The building is right across the street from Bloomingdale’s Department Store (NewYorkitecture).
135 East 57th Street The Cohen Building
Walking past the IBM Building again, it was nice to finally discover that the sculpture outside the building was an Alexander Calder, the famous “Saurien”, that he created to emulate a reptile. This interesting and unusual sculpture deserved a second look. Other buildings that stand out in the neighborhood have been mentioned in Day One Hundred and Forty of MywalkinManhattan.com are the Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street and 465 Park Avenue. Look up and notice their detail and artworks that line the outside of these buildings.
Saurien by Alexander Calder
When walking around East 57th to East 56th Streets, please be careful of the security around Trump Tower. They watch everything you do and it is best to just walk around this part of the neighborhood between Fifth and Madison Avenues. Most of the buildings on this block stretch from one block to the next.
Trump Building at 725 Fifth Avenue is where the security is tight
When walking down East 55th Street from Fifth Avenue back to Lexington Avenue, stop and notice the building at 116 East 55th Street, home to the SUNY Global Center. The building was the former mansion to the Zeigler family and was built between 1926-1927. The house was designed by architect William L. Bottomley in the ‘Neo-Georgian style’ and features Flemish blond brickwork on the outside. William Zeigler Jr., who owned the house with his wife, Helen was a businessman, sportsman and philanthropist (Wiki).
Zeigler House SUNY at 116 East 55th Street
I finished the first day of the neighborhood at East 55th Street and had dinner at Tri Dim Shanghai Restaurant at 1378 Third Avenue (see review on TripAdvisor). Their food is excellent and you have to try their Soup Dumplings that they are noted for.
Tri Dim’s Soup Dumplings are excellent
They burst in your mouth with each bite and their Classic Chicken, which is cooked in what I figure is a honey, soy and plum sauce is just excellent.
Tri Dim’s Classic Chicken is excellent
Tri Dim Shanghai Restaurant at 1378 Third Avenue
For dessert, it was time to revisit Bon Vivant Bakery at 231 East 58th Street for dessert (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I had one of their Rose Petit Fours ($4.00) and it was just excellent. A subtle sweetness with the accent of the rose extract that is used in the filling and the icing. These delightful cakes can be eaten in the two tier bakery and it is fun to watch the world go by.
Bon Vivant at 231 East 58th Street is wonderful for desserts
On my second day of walking the Streets of Midtown East I had just finished a busy day at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen working in the busy Bread Station and was exhausted by the time I got to East 55th Street. I stopped along the way for a Chicken Empanada at Empanada Supreme (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at the corner of East 38th Street and Broadway for a quick lunch. This little stand is open only during the week and had the most delicious chicken, beef and cheese empanadas for $2.00! I love his sign with the Caped Empanada.
Empanada Suprema at the corner of West 38th Street & Broadway
Don’t miss admiring the famous Friar’s Club at 57 East 57th Street. This beautiful building was built for Investment Banker Martin Erdman in 1908 by architect Alfredo S.G. Taylor and was designed in the ‘English Renaissance’ style.
The Friar’s Club at 57 East 55th Street
When walking the bottom of East 55th Street from Lexington Avenue, take time again to admire the former AT&T Building at 550 Madison Avenue and IBM Building at 590 Madison Avenue in the distance. These iconic buildings show the resilience and creativity of their corporate owners. They are such interesting designs (see Day One Hundred and Forty Walking the Borders of Midtown East).
Madison Avenue in the 50’s
One of the most interesting little pocket parks in the neighborhood I found when I rounded the corner at East 54th Street. It was right in front of the Christie’s at 535 Madison Avenue is the Christie’s Sculpture Garden with its small tables and chairs, trees covered with white lights and interesting public art. The artist Jonathan Prince is showing his work, “Shattered I, II and III’ in the garden courtyard.
Christie’s Sculpture Garden in front of 535 Madison Avenue with “Shattered Sculptures”
Artist Jonathan Prince is New York born and raised and holds degrees from Columbia University and the University of Southern California. Over the past twenty years, the artist has had a passion for form and material with the use of chaos in his works. His use of steel and CorTen is used in the ‘Shattered’ pieces and they have a reflective element against the white lights of the park (Artist website).
Jonathan Prince in front of his “Shattered Sculptures”
This public garden is one of the nicest I have seen in many blocks and it is nice that Christie’s gives us an opportunity to view Public Art on sale while sitting back on the chairs on a nice day and just admire the park and people passing by.
The Kiton Store at 4 East 54th Street is the former home William Earle Dodge Stokes and his former wife, Rita. Mr. Stokes bought the land and leveled the houses that were there and had architects McKim, Mead and White design the marble mansion in 1896. The couple never lived in the house and filed for divorce soon after. The house was then bought by William H. Moore, the founder of Nabisco and his wife, Ada who movements in New York Society were well known. After Mrs. Moore’s death in 1955, the mansion was used for retail purposes (Daytonia in Manhattan).
The Kiton Store Stokes/Moore House at 4 East 54th Store
The ironic part of the former Stokes/Moore house is that right behind it when rounding the corner to East 54th Street is the Paley Garden, another small public garden with a waterfall as its centerpiece at 3 East 54th Street. The park was designed by architects Zion Breen Richardson Associates and opened in 1967. CBS Head William Paley financed the park in honor of his father, Samuel Paley (Wiki). This pristine little park is also nice to just sit and relax and listen to the waterfall and drown out the sounds of the City. The rest of East 54th Street is lined with large office buildings and the rush of people walking from one block to the next.
Paley Garden at East 53rd Street
Rounding East 53th Street make an effort to stop inside the lobby of 1 East 53rd Street to see the gallery display from the Studio in the School New York City. The works that line the wall of the lobby space of the building is from art students all over New York City.
The Studio in the School is the largest not for profit visual arts education organization in New York City with the mission to “foster the creative and intellectual development of youth through quality visual arts programs, directed by arts professionals. We also collaborate with and develop the ability of those who provide or support arts programming and creative development for youth both in and outside of schools. We fulfill our mission through two divisions; the New York City Schools Program and the Studio Institute” (Studio in the School mission statement).
The Studio in the School Gallery at East 53rd Street
Walking the rest of East 53rd and then onto East 52nd and East 51st is lined with large office buildings that stretch from one block to the other. Most of this part of the neighborhood was knocked down in the late 1960’s for commercial use.
When walking down East 50th Street there is a small gem of a public pocket park at the south side of East 50th Street between Madison and Park Avenues. Created by the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2014, this little park called the “50th Street Commons” features a water feature ‘waterfall’ that turns colors from blue to green to yellow to fuchsia. This unique little park surrounded by exotic plants is another nice place to just sit and relax (Murray Hill, Gramercy and Midtown East Paper).
The “50th Street Commons” on East 50th Street
Across the street from the park and wedged between office buildings is the restaurant, Maloney & Porcelli, which was founded in 1996 and offers “clubby American cuisine” and harks back to an era when lunch time was taken seriously. It stands in contrast to the ever changing neighborhood.
The restaurant classic, Maloney & Porcelli at 37 East 50th Street
When rounding East 49th Street, stop at Tower 49 at 12 East 49th Street, the home of WeWork to see the art exhibition of artist Enrico Isamu Oyama exhibition “Inside Out”. This exhibition located on all side of the lobby. This contemporary and rather unusual exhibition starts with the pillars on both East 49th and 48th Streets to invite you inside (the security at the building is really cool and nice about people looking around). The Tower 49 Gallery offers exhibitions of art free of charge and is open to the public at street level.
Tower 49 Gallery at 12 East 49th Street
Mr. Oyama’s work is unique at best with a lot of lines and movement. His work “Quick Turn Structure” consists of interlocking intersections of black and white shapes and the unique style replaces letters with lines, highlighting their dynamic motion through the process of repetition that subsequently creates and abstract form with angular points and three-dimensional depth (Artist Press Release).
Tower 49 Gallery
Mr. Oyama is originally from Tokyo and is now based in New York City and likes to creat a visual art in various mediums that features Quick Turn Structure, the motif composed of spontaneous repetition and expansion of free flowing lines influenced by the aerosol writing of the 1970’s-1980’s New York and beyond (Artist Press Release).
Artist Enrico Isamu Oyama
If you are in need of a public bathroom, try the fourth floor of Saks Fifth Avenue in the Men’s Department. When the store is open, this is one of the most convenient places to go to the bathroom in the area.
When proceeding down East 48th Street, take a stop in front of 4 East 48th Street, The Church of Sweden. This Neo-Gothic Church was built in 1921 for “The Bible House” and was sold to the Church in 1978. There is a library and cafe that are inside and open to the public. For the most part, the rest of East 48th Street is filled with large buildings that stretch from side to side.
Church of Sweden at 4 East 48th Street
There is one stand out piece of artwork in the lobby of 280 East 48th Street of four people hunched over in a circle. As hard as I tried though I don’t know who the brilliant artist is of the work.
The lobby sculpture at 280 East 48th Street
Rounding East 47th Street, take a trip back in time to Manhattan of the 1970’s inside of Phil’s Stationary at 9 East 47th Street. I was talking to the gentlemen who were running the store and told them I had not seen inventory like this on sale in a long time. Hard to find things like stationary, note pads, typing paper and ribbon and even recommendations to a place to fix the typewriter. This stationary store harks back to the days when people left the office to go shopping for things needed at the last minute. They still sell pens, pencils and even the old accounting ledger books. The nice part is that it still smells like a stationery store.
Phil’s Stationery at 9 East 47th Street
Most of the Streets between East 47th to East 46th Streets are lined with larger office buildings that stretch from block to block with a smattering of small businesses here and there. One standout at 556 Fifth Avenue at the entrance of East 46th Street is the Philippine Consulate General which services Philippine nationals in the Northeast states. This unique building is one of the last holdovers from the Country buildings that used to line this part of Fifth Avenue in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. The building was designed by Carrere & Hastings in 1912 for the Knoedler and Company Art Gallery.
The Philippine Consulate at 556 Fifth Avenue
On the edge of East 46th Street sits the famous Roosevelt Hotel and the Helmsley Building which sit as the old guards to the neighborhood once known as “Terminal City”. The Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue was originally built for the headquarters of the New York Central Building in 1929 by Warren & Wetmore in the Beaux-Arts style. These are also the architects of Grand Central Station behind it that stands guard of the neighborhood from Turtle Bay to Midtown East.
The Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue stands guard over this part of Park Avenue
The Roosevelt Hotel at 45 East 46 sits between East 46th and 45th Streets next to Grand Central Terminal. The hotel was designed by architect George C. Post & Son in 1924 and was once part of a series of hotels that made up “Terminal City” that stretched along both sides of Grand Central. The hotel was named for President Teddy Roosevelt and even had a child care service in ‘The Teddy Room’.
The Roosevelt Hotel at 45 East 46th Street
Take time to walk around these impressive buildings and look at the outside stone carvings and elaborate lobbies. The lobby of the Helmsley Building is impressive with its marble floors and impressive chandeliers. On the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 46th Street tucked behind the Barnes & Noble bookstore I had lunch at a new branch of JoJu at 555 Fifth Avenue, which had just opened that afternoon with a soft opening. I had some of their Vietnamese spring rolls ($5.50) which were filled with ground pork and vegetables and were cooked to perfection.
JoJu is a new addition to the Fifth Avenue restaurants at 555 Fifth Avenue
Tucked into the side of the Helmsley Building at the corner of East 45th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue is Urbanspace Vanderbilt, a indoor food court with some of the most hip and innovative local restaurants in New York City. These artisan and chef driven restaurants are outposts of the original neighborhood restaurants including well known names of Roberta’s Pizza and Dough Doughnuts.
Dough at the Urbanspace Vanderbilt
The company Urbanspace has been creating these experiences since 1993 since the company’s establishment in 1972 in Great Britain. Don’t miss the vibrance of the atmosphere and the smells that waft through the hall at lunch time. I love going to Dough that occasional $4.00 doughnut that is well worth it.
Urbanspace food court in the corner of the Helmsley Building on East 49th Street
The rest of East 45th and 44th Streets are lined with small office buildings and stores and along Madison Avenue the headquarters of Brooks Brothers and Paul Stuart stores that cater to the City professionals and “preppie class”.
Brooks Brothers at 346 Madison Avenue
Midtown East is now mostly a commercial neighborhood lined with office buildings and retail businesses but as you walk the streets here and there things still pop out and amaze you. It really shows the complexity of the City at its best and how a little creativity and renewal can change a space from one use to another.
That shows the imagination of the people who keep making Manhattan a unique experience.
Don’t miss my other walks in MidTown East Manhattan:
Walking the Avenues on Day One Hundred & Thirty-Five:
I have been running in and out of the City since I started teaching classes again at the college and had a ‘bucket list’ of small museums that I wanted to visit for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com” and restaurants I wanted to try before the Summer was over. So there was a lot of running around the last several weeks. That’s why the blogs come out a little later than usual.
I got back to finishing my walk around ‘Midtown East’ by walking the only two Avenues inside the neighborhoods borders, Madison and Park Avenues from East 43rd Street (which hugs the Turtle Bay neighborhood) and East 59th Street (which hugs the Upper East Side & Sutton Place). On the Avenues in this part of the neighborhood is mostly residential and commercial spaces with rows glass boxes on some streets and limestone and marble residential buildings one the others. There is a lot of sameness in the architecture here but don’t let that fool you. There are a lot of interesting things to see and places to visit in this very much working modern neighborhood.
My walk started on Madison Avenue’s commercial district at the start of East 43rd Street where a giant new glass box is being created right next to Grand Central Station. Probably not Mr. Vanderbilt’s vision for the area but I think he would have been impressed by the progress the area has experienced in the last 100 years.
My first stop is admiring and walking into the headquarters of Brooks Brothers Clothing store at 346 Madison Avenue, one of the most American and famous clothing stores in the United States. Stepping into Brooks Brothers is like a step back into time when shopping was still experience and customer service actually meant something. Their displays are elegant without being stuffy.
The elegant displays at Brooks Brothers main floor
The store was designed by architects La Farge & Morris in 1915 the Italian Renaissance design with prominent arched entrances, wrought iron arches and carved limestone details around the building. You can see the detail work in the cornices that line the top of the building.
The Brooks Brothers headquarters at 346 Madison Avenue
Another great clothing store is Paul Stuart at Madison Avenue and East 45th Street. The store has been in business since 1938 and carries some of the most impressive clothing and accessories for Men and Women.
Paul Stuart Specialty Store at Madison & East 45th Street
The store was a privately held family business until December of 2012 and then it was sold it’s long time partner, Mitsui. The store has changed a lot since the sale. It once had some of the best customer service in all the specialty stores in Manhattan but when I went to visit on this trip in my shorts and polo, the three sales people on the floor at the time ignored me. It’s not the same store with the orange carpet and older, more mature salespeople.
The Men’s Department after the renovation
When you get to Madison and 55th Street, watch for the security as this is the back section of Trump Tower and East 55th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues is blocked off by barriers and armed NYPD detectives and police. Only one side of the street is open here so it is best to keep walking.
Another impressive building on Madison Avenue is at 550 Madison Avenue, the old AT&T Building with its signature ‘Chippendale’ roof. This building was considered radical and innovative at the same time when AT&T built it to house their world headquarters. The 37 story building was designed by famed architect Philip Johnson in 1984 in the postmodern design. Critics called it ‘Chippendale’ after the famed furniture due to the ‘open pediment’ look of the top of the building based on English furniture design (Wiki). The building is currently have some lobby renovations that I passed.
550 Madison Avenue
Next to the AT&T Building is the IBM Building at 590 Madison Avenue. This 41 story building was built in 1983 by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes & Associates and developed by IBM and designed in the post-modern design (Wiki).
The IBM Building at 590 Madison Avenue & East 57th Street
Because of the zoning laws established in 1916, there is a beautiful and relaxing open atrium filled with food kiosis and art work for the public to enjoy on the ground level. It is a nice place to relax after a long walk. Take time to admire the art works that line the atrium.
The Atrium at the IBM Building
One piece of art that stands out is the red geometric sculpture on the corner of Madison and East 57th Street is the great artist Alexander Calder “Saurien” (which is a large reptile), that was created by the artist in his studio in 1975. This is an example of Calder’s “Stoic” work and were called ‘stabiles’ because these abstract works, unlike his floating works of art, stand strongly and firmly into the ground (Art Nerd 2018).
The Alexander Calder sculpture, “Saurien”
Walk around this wonderful work by Calder and try to take a breath and understand what the artist was trying to say. It is almost like all the ‘legs’ on the sculpture are trying to show stability and contrast.
American Artist Alexander Calder
Inside the atrium, there are two interesting pieces of artwork that standout. There are two colorful acrylic apples that are done in colorful motifs that you should not miss. The sculptures were created in 2004 for the “Big Apple Fest” to promote the City’s tourism. Companies paid $8,500.00 to sponsor and $12,500 to keep the apples in which artists were allowed to decorate inside or outside.
One of them is entitled “A Day in the Big Apple” by an artist named Billy.
‘A Day in the Big Apple’ by artist Billy
The other is of a colorful face by artist Romero Britto entitled “New York Future”.
“New York Future” by artist Romero Britto
Romero Britto is a Brazilian born American artist whose colorful works elude the optimism the artist has on his view of the world. He uses bold and colorful patterns to enhance his works (Artist Bio).
Brazilian Artist Romero Britto
When you reach the edge of the neighborhood at East 59th Street, you are greeted by the former GM Building that stretches from Fifth to Madison Avenues. This elegant 50 story building once represented the presence of GM in New York City. It was designed by the architectural firms of Edward Durell Stone & Associates and Emery Roth & Sons in 1968. It was designed in the “International Style” and stands guard at the end of the commercial district of Midtown East and the Upper East Side.
The GM Building stands guard at 767 Fifth Avenue
As you cross back down Madison Avenue on East 59th Street, you will notice the ever changing retail landscape and all the empty storefronts on this part of Madison Avenue. Twenty years ago this would not have existed but it is a sign of the times.
The details of the Fuller Building
Another interesting building to admire is the Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street on the corner of Madison Avenue. The building was created for the Fuller Construction Company in 1929 by architects Walker & Gillette in the ‘Art Deco Style’. The buildings exterior sculptures were designed by architect Elie Nadelman. Look at the interesting details not just on the outside of the building but walk into the lobby to take a look around (Wiki).
The Fuller Building at 41 East 57th Street
One of the great hotels in New York City stands guard at 455 Madison Avenue and 50th Street, the New York Palace Hotel (formerly the Helmsley Palace Hotel) which is a combination of an old mansion and the modern building behind it. The front of the building facing Madison Avenue is the former Villard Mansion.
New York Palace Hotel at 455 Madison Avenue
The front of the hotel is the “Villard Houses” created in 1882 for Henry Villard, a railroad financier, who worked with the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White to create a series of six brownstone townhouses facing a courtyard in the ‘Italian Neo-Renaissance style’. Developer Harry Hemsley leased the houses and hired Emery Roth & Sons to create the 55 story modern hotel in the back of the houses.
The Villard Houses part of the New York Palace Hotel
The hotel opened in 1981 as the notorious ‘Helmsley Palace Hotel’ with hotelier Leona Helmsley in charge. Considered one of the best hotels at the time, it was a five star/five diamond hotel (with one of the most nervous staffs in New York City). The hotel has been owned by Lotte Hotels & Resorts since 2015.
The inside of the New York Palace Hotel, the Villard Houses
Take time to walk through the hotel from the East 50th Street entrance to the East 49th Street exit and walk around the public rooms and admire the architectural details from the Gilded Age. There are elegant features from staircases to marble fireplaces and the most beautiful views on Madison Avenue.
I found this pardony of the Helmsley Hotel on YouTube. It is very clever.
Another older hotel that stands out is the Roosevelt Hotel at 45 East 45th Street at the corner of Madison Avenue and East 45th Street. It stands guard next to Grand Central Station. The hotel opened in 1924 and was designed by the architectural firm of George P. Post & Son for businessman, Frank A. Dudley and it was ran by United Hotels Company from a leased agreement with the New York Central Railroad. Like the other hotels that line Lexington Avenue, there used to be a separate passageway from the railroad to the hotel (Wiki).
The Roosevelt Hotel at 45 East 45th Street
This is similar hotel to take the time to walk through the lobby and look at the vaulted ceilings and the Gilded Age details of the hotels with its thick carpets and elegant staircases. The hotel has a somewhat dark, more European feel to it. There is a lobby restaurant when open that looks pretty interesting.
The entrance to the lobby at the Roosevelt Hotel
As you walk around Grand Central Terminal and through the archway pedestrian tunnels that lead to Park Avenue from East 45th to East 46th Streets, you will be traveling under the Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue that stands guard at the beginning to the business and residential neighborhood of Park Avenue.
The Helmsley Building at 230 Park Avenue
The Helmsley Building was built in 1929 as the New York Central Building for the rail company and was designed by architects Warren & Wetmore, who also designed Grand Central Terminal, in the ‘Beaux-Arts style’. Take time to admire the statuary around the clock that dominates its front and the beautiful stone detail work of the exterior of the building.
The beautiful details of the Helmsley Building on Park Avenue
The New York Central used the building as its starting point of “Terminal City”, a series of buildings and hotels that the railroad developed on the top of the rail line (Wiki). The true beauty of The Helmsley Building is at night when the owners put on a light show illuminating the building with colorful spotlights.
The Helmsley Building light show after dark
All along Park Avenue is a series of ‘glass boxes’ for office buildings and residential towers that line the Avenue all the way up to East 96th Street at the exit of the rail line. Along the way, there are some interesting examples of architecture that line Park Avenue.
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 301 Park Avenue is currently closed and under scaffolding awaiting its new life as a small hotel and condo complex. The hotel, as mentioned in previous blogs in ‘MywalkinManhattan’, was built and opened in 1931. It was designed by the architectural firm of Schultz & Weaver in the ‘Art Deco style’ and is probably one of the most famous and talked about hotels in New York City outside the Plaza Hotel (Wiki). There have been so many movies and TV shows filmed and written about the hotel to count and the restaurants inside the hotel were some of the better ones in New York City. The building will open sometime in the future.
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 301 Park Avenue
St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church at 325 Park Avenue is one of the older buildings on Park Avenue and stands alone amongst the bigger buildings on this part of Avenue. Though the congregation was started in 1835, this structure was built between 1916-17 and designed by Bertram Goodhue, who had designed the St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue (See Walking the Border of Midtown East-MywalkinManhattan). The church was designed in the ‘Byzantine Revival Design’ and he was required by the congregation to retain the old church portal from the former church on Madison Avenue and East 44th Street in the new church design (Wiki).
‘St. Bart’s’ Church at 325 Park Avenue
Look at the details of the old church and the stained glass windows. In the Summer months, there is a wonderful (yet somewhat over-priced) restaurant in the courtyard of the church and there are art markets during the Summer and Christmas holiday season that you should visit. There is also afternoon music at certain times of the year.
St. Bart’s restaurant and terrace during the summer
One standout, innovative building on Park Avenue sits between East 52nd and 53rd Streets is the Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue. The building and its exterior designs was created by German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe with the interior Four Seasons Restaurant designed by American architect Philip Johnson.
The Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue
This 38 story building of wonder was innovative in its time. Finished in 1958 as the corporate headquarters of Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, the building was noted for its ‘functional aesthetics’ and a prominent example of ‘corporate modern architecture’. Keeping up with modern building codes, the architect used ‘non-structural bronze I-beams and large glass windows’ to create the cool and well toned exterior structure of the building (Wiki).
Also utilizing the 1916 building code and the new use of open public spaces, the building was one of the first in New York City to embrace the open air plaza that was prevalent in the 1980’s and early 90’s design. It was an extremely innovative design at the time and still sets the standard for the modern ‘glass box’.
Seagram Building plaza, innovative to its time
One of the last stand out buildings that I saw on Park Avenue before my walk back down the Avenue was at 465 Park Avenue, The Ritz Tower, an apartment hotel. This elegant residential building stands out because of its details on the exterior of the building and I later learned it was once home to the famous French restaurant, La Pavilion.
The Ritz Plaza at 465 Park Avenue
This elegant building was designed by architects Emory Roth and Thomas Hastings for journalist Arthur Brisbane, who was the developer. The apartment hotel was managed by the Ritz-Carlton Company. The exterior of the building has many carved stone features so look closely from the other side of Park Avenue to admire the detail work. Don’t stare too long because the doorman gets a suspicious look if you look too long. He kept looking me over as I admired the building and the read the plaques.
Look at the elegant details of the Ritz Tower
Up and down the Park Avenue Mall is the work of artist Alex Katz “Park Avenue Departure”, of which it looks like the back of a woman who is walking away from some place. The work is a depiction of the artist’s wife, Ada. Each of the works along the mall is changed slightly to show the sculpture in motion as if it is walking down the mall. This street art exhibition will run through November 2019 (The Fund for Park Avenue).
Alex Katz’s Park Avenue Mall exhibit “Park Avenue Departure”
Alex Katz is an American artist
American artist Alex Katz who was born in Brooklyn, NY and is a graduate of Cooper Union Art College. His long career has seen many changes in art form and today some of his concentrations are in landscape and portraiture. His work can be seen in museums all over the world.
For lunch and dinner that afternoon, I ate at Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop at 139 East 45th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). After a long day of walking, I treated myself to a plate of mixed roasted meats, duck and pork, with a side of rice ($9.00) and an egg roll ($1.38). Their roasted meats are a laquered delight with the rich, crackling skin of the duck worth every bite. The food here is delicious and so reasonable for Midtown East.
Don’t miss Hop Won at 139 East 45th Street
By the end of the evening, I got a chance to double back around the Helmsley Building and look at the detail work of that structure as well and then walked up and down the tiny Vanderbilt Avenue between East 45th and 47th Streets that line next to Grand Central Terminal. The most notable building on this block is the Yale Club at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue. The famous clubhouse was designed by Yale Alumnus and architect James Gramble Rodgers and it opened in 1915.
The Yale Club at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue; notice the plaque to Nathan Hale on the bottom left
The most notable item outside the club is the historical mark where supposedly Patriot Nathan Hale was hung. There is a conflict to where it actually took place and there is another site on the Upper East Side (See Walking the Upper East Side Streets in MywalkinManhattan), where that plaque is outside the local Pier One. I personally like that theory better. Where else in American could a Patriot of the Revolutionary War be hung in that two hundred years later would house a retailer that sells Christmas chukkas made in China?
That’s what I love about Manhattan!
I have enclosed all the addresses to the interesting buildings you should visit above to make it easier then doing them one by one.
After my long walks around the classic New York neighborhoods of Sutton Place, Beekman Place and Turtle Bay, it was now time to turn my attention to the commercial part of Manhattan and the shopping districts that are popular with the tourists. This neighborhood is in a whirlwind of change right now as everything old is being knocked down and replaced with shiny new office towers and large glass boxes. Slowly the character of this part of Midtown is changing from the old stone buildings with the beautifully carved embellishments to a lot of glass towers lining both the Avenues and the Streets of the neighborhood. I have never seen so many changes over a twenty year period.
I have also seen the decline of the Fifth and Madison Avenue exclusivity in the shopping district from East 60th Street to East 43rd Street right near the New York Public Library. All the big department stores one by one have closed leaving only Saks Fifth Avenue and specialty store Bergdorf Goodman both Men’s and Women’s stores left. Even those stores have gone from elegant well-bred stores to somewhat showy and glitzy as I am not sure they know who their customer is anymore. There are a lot of empty storefronts because of the rising rents.
The selection of stores and restaurants lining this side of the neighborhood are still somewhat exclusive but it reminds me more of North Michigan Avenue in Chicago than Fifth Avenue in New York City. There seems to have been a dispersion of stores from the street over the last two years to areas like Madison Avenue or even SoHo or Tribeca downtown. There are a lot of empty store fronts both on Fifth and Madison Avenue which you never saw until the Stock Market Crash of 2008. The area has not fully recovered from that yet.
Still the borders of the neighborhood still hold some of the most iconic and famous buildings in Manhattan and interesting shops and restaurants along the way. Some of the most famous hotels in New York City are located in this neighborhood with their classic old world charm and their elegant stonework entrances.
I started my tour of the neighborhood by revisiting the length of Lexington Avenue from East 43rd Street and walking up the Avenue to East 59th Street and then crossing over East 59th to Fifth Avenue. First I stopped for some lunch at Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop at 139 East 45th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop is one of the few remaining restaurants in the former brownstone section of the neighborhood that has not been razed for an office building. The food is so good and different from the other Chinese take out places in Midtown. They specialize in roasted meats, noodle soups and dishes while keeping the traditional Cantonese favorite for the busy office workers in the area.
Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop at 139 East 45th Street
My first and second trips to the restaurant I wanted to concentrate on the roasted meats. You could not taste a more moist or succulent meat outside of Chinatown. The Roast Pork, Roast Duck and Boneless Roast Pork with rice makes a nice lunch. The meats are perfectly marinated, lacquered and roasted to perfection with crackling skin and the taste of soy and honey. Their prices are very fair and the selection of combination dishes all run under $10.00.
The delicious roasted meats at Hop Won
After lunch, I walked up the familiar Lexington Avenue to East 59th Street, passing well-known hotels and office buildings that still make up the character of the neighborhood. In between the ‘glass boxes’ there are still many buildings that standout and you can read about them more in my travels around Turtle Bay (Day One Hundred and Forty Walking Turtle Bay).
As I rounded along East 59th Street, I saw in the distance the now bankrupt Barney’s specialty store. Talk about a store that traveled in full circle from a discount store to exclusivity now into bankruptcy with the changing tastes and buying habits of customers all over the city. I’m surprised with the rent for this location they are bothering to keep it open.
Further down the street passing various stores and restaurants on the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 59th Street is the famous Sherry-Netherland Hotel at 781 Fifth Avenue. Built between 1926-27 by the architects Schultz-Weaver with Buckman and Kahn in the Neo-Romanesque/Neo-Gothic style and you can see the stone work details around the edges of the building. It was once the tallest apartment hotel in New York City.
Sherry-Netherland Hotel at 781 Fifth Avenue
When walking around the corner East 59th Street to Fifth Avenue, you will pass the General Motors Building at 767 Fifth Avenue. This modern skyscraper was designed in the ‘International style’ by architects by Edward Durell Stone & Associates with Emory Roth & Sons in 1968 and is one of the few buildings that utilizes a full city block (Wiki). The building was used by General Motors as their New York headquarters until 1998 when they sold the remaining interest in the building.
The GM Building at 767 Fifth Avenue
Next door to the GM Building is 745 Fifth Avenue, the home of Bergdorf-Goodman Men’s Store and once the home to FAO Schwarz Toy Store from 1932-1986. You can see this classic New York skyscraper in many TV shows and movies including the theme song for the opening of “That Girl” and in the FAO Schwarz scene of the movie “Baby Boom” with Diane Keaton. This beautiful ‘art-deco style’ building was designed by architects Buckman-Kahn in 1930.
745 Fifth Avenue
745 Fifth Avenue on TV in the opening of “That Girl” with the Bergdorf-Goodman store window on the corner of 5th Avenue and 59th Street where she is looking into.
The architecture continues to evolve on Fifth Avenue as you continue to make your way down the street.
Watch the traffic and security as you pass Trump Tower at 721 Fifth Avenue. I could write an entire book on the building of this famous and iconic structure of the 1980’s. The building was designed by architect Dur Scutt of Poor, Swanke, Hayden & Connell. It is tough to visit the building with all the security but still it is interesting to see the shops and inside design.
Trump Tower at 721 Fifth Avenue
There is a combination of building designs and structure along the way. Located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street is one of the most famous hotels in New York City, The St. Regis Hotel. This luxury hotel on the corner of 55th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenue’s at 2 East 55th Street was built in 1904 by John Jacob Astor IV.
St. Regis Hotel at 2 East 55th Street
The hotel was designed by architects Trowbridge & Livingston in the French Beaux-Art style and was the tallest hotel in New York when it was built. Take time to go inside and see the true beauty of this hotel which was fully renovated in 2013. There are interesting restaurants to eat at and they have a wonderful (but very pricey) Afternoon Tea. The hotel which is a Five Star and Five Diamond hotel has been featured on countless TV shows and movies.
The Front entrance of the St. Regis Hotel off Fifth Avenue
On the corner of Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street sits a true jewel box in the Cartier store at 653 Fifth Avenue. The store was once home to Morton Freeman Plant, the son of railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant. The home was designed by architect Robert W. Gibson in 1905 in the ‘Neo-Renaissance style’. Mr. Plant felt later that the area was getting too ‘commercial’ and moved further uptown and Cartier bought the building in 1917 (Wiki).
Cartier Fifth Avenue 653 Fifth Avenue
Cartier finished a renovation on the store in 2016 to bring back the true beauty and elegance of the store and of the building. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk around inside and see the refined displays of merchandise.
The Cartier store after the renovation
Next to the Cartier store at 647 Fifth Avenue is the next Versace store which is housed in the left side of the Vanderbilt ‘ marble twin mansions. The Vanderbilt family had bought the land and built twin buildings on the site at 647-645 Fifth Avenue. Designed by architects Hunt & Hunt in 1902, the homes were first leased out as homes until about 1915 when businesses and trade came to the area.
647 Fifth Avenue in 1902
After passing out the Vanderbilt family in 1922, the building went through many incarnations and 645 Fifth Avenue was torn down for the Best & Company Department store in 1945 only to be torn down again in 1970 for the Olympic Tower (which still stands in the spot). The building was renovated in 1995 by Versace as their Fifth Avenue store and spent six million dollars to create the store that greets customers today.
647 Fifth Avenue today
The true catalyst and center of the luxury shopping district though is St. Patrick’s Cathedral which sits gracefully at the corner of Fifth Avenue between 51st and 50th Streets. The Discesce of New York was created in 1808 and the land for the Cathedral was bought in 1810. The Cathedral was to replace the one in lower Manhattan.
This current Cathedral was designed by architect James Resnick Jr. in the Gothic Revival style. Construction was started in 1850 and was halted because of the Civil War and continued in 1865. The Cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated in 1879. The Cathedral was renovated in 2013 and this shows its brilliance (Wiki).
During the holiday season the Cathedral is beautifully decorated and the music can be heard all over Fifth Avenue.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue
Next door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral is Saks Fifth Avenue’s headquarters. The business was founded by Andrew Saks in 1876 and was incorporated in 1902. After Mr. Saks died in 1912, the business was merged with Gimbel’s Brothers Department Store as Horace Saks was a cousin of Bernard Gimbel. In 1924, they opened the new store at 611 Fifth Avenue and changed the name of the store to Saks Fifth Avenue (The old store had been on 34th Street previously and called Saks 34th). The building was designed by architects Starrett & Van Vliet and designed in a ‘genteel, Anglophile classicized design’. (Wiki).
The store has recently gone through a major multi-million dollar renovation and is worth the time to look around the new first floor. The new cosmetic department is on the lower level along with jewelry so it is a different shopping experience.
Saks Fifth Avenue at 611 Fifth Avenue
Another former business that was well known on Fifth Avenue for years was located at 597 Fifth Avenue was Charles Scribner Sons Building. It originally house the Charles Scribner Book Store replacing the old store on lower Fifth Avenue. The building at 597 Fifth Avenue was designed by architect Ernest Flagg in the Beaux Arts style between 1912-13 (Wiki). The bookstore moved out in 1980 and the company became part of Barnes & Nobel Bookstores and the building has been sold since. It now houses a Lululemon Athletica store but you can still see the Scribner’s name on the outside of the building and the Landmarked book shelves inside the store.
The Charles Scribner Sons Building at 597 Fifth Avenue
The rest of Fifth Avenue is newer office buildings with retail space on the bottom levels some filled and some empty. When I was growing up, this part of Fifth Avenue was filled with high end stores. Today it is a combination of chain stores found in the suburbs or are just sitting empty, a trend found all over this part of Midtown East.
The Fred French Building at 551 Fifth Avenue
At 551 Fifth Avenue another interesting building, The Fred French Building really stands out. The building was created by architects H. Douglas Ives and Sloan & Robertson in 1927 in the ‘Art Deco Style’. Really look at the detail work all the up the building which was done in an ‘Eastern Design’ style with winged animals, griffins and golden beehives made to symbolize according to the architect ‘commerce and character and activities’ of the French companies. The outside material used on the building is faience, a glazed ceramic ware (Wiki).
The detail work on the top of the Fred French Building
When you cross over to West 43rd Street, you will see the elegant Grand Central Station complex which covers from West 42nd to West 45th Streets with the train station facing the West 42nd Street entrance to the MetLife Building (forever known at the Pan-Am Building for those of us to remember it) toward the back. It hovers over Grand Central like a modern gleaming giant. It should never been built there but that was the modern way of doing things in the 1960’s.
One of the best movie scenes of Fifth Avenue & the Pan-Am Building from “On a Clear Day you can see Forever”
Grand Central Station, once the home of the New York Railroad is one of the famous buildings in New York City. Saved from demolition in the 1960’s by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and other concerned preservationists.
Grand Central Terminal dominates this part of the neighborhood at 89 East 42nd Street
Grand Central Terminal was built between 1903-13 and opened in 1913. This beautiful rail station was designed New York Central Vice-President William J. Wilgus and the interiors and some exteriors by architects Reed & Stem and Warren & Wetmore in the Beaux Arts design. The exterior facade of building including the famous “Glory of Commerce” were designed by French artists and architects Jules Felix Coutan, Sylvain Salieres and Paul Cesar Helleu (Wiki). There is a true beauty to the statuary and stone carvings on the outside of the building.
‘The Glory of Commerce’
The terminal housed the New York Central Railroad and some of the busiest routes. It now houses the New Haven, White Plains and Poughkeepsie lines and stop overs for some Amtrak lines. In 2020, it was house the new lines of the Long Island Rail Road.
The interior of the building is just as spectacular. When you walk into the building and stare from the top of the stairs, you see the power and bustle of New York City. When you look up you will see the famous ‘Constellation’ ceiling cleaned and lit with all the stars in the sky. There is still a small portion of the ceiling that was not cleaned to show how dirty it once was before the renovation.
Take time in the building to walk around and look up and down. This is an amazing building that takes time to look around. I will admit that security is tight around the building so don’t be to obvious as a tourist. Take the escalator to the bottom level to the Food Court. If you can’t find it down here, you won’t find it. Every restaurant is represented down here and there are public bathrooms as well.
After touring Grand Central station, I walked back down West 43rd Street to Fifth Avenue. Outside the Emigrant Bank is the statue of ‘Kneeling Fireman’ which was once placed by Times Square when it first arrived in this country from Parma, Italy. The statue arrived in this country on September 9, 2001 on its way to Missouri as it had been commissioned for the Firefighters Association of Missouri (Wiki).
After the attacks on 9/11, the statue was presented to the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation as a gift to the City. With funding from the Millstein family, the statue was mounted and placed in front of their hotel, The Milford Plaza which is in the Times Square area. It was a placed of remembrance for people to gather after the attacks (Ciston 2011).
The Kneeling Fireman outside 6 East 43rd Street
The Statue is now placed in front of the Emigrant Savings Bank headquarters at 6 East 43rd Street and funding from the Millstein family provided a permanent home for the statue. People still come to visit the statue (which had been in storage for a decade until 2011) but its meaning seems different now with so many years passing. Still it is an important part of the City’s history at a time when it brought everyone together.
Across the street from the statue, I noticed an unusual building that was part marble and part modern. This is the Fifth Church of Christ Scientist. The building was built in 1921 for the Church in the Classic Revival style and as part of the agreement there is a 21 story glass tower on top of it (Wiki). It really does stand out for its unique design. Still it does not look that big from the outside but the building does seat 1800.
From 43rd Street, I walked back up Fifth Avenue to the other side of the street and the buildings on this side of the street contains its share of architectural gems. The lower part of this side of Fifth Avenue is going through a transition as a lot of buildings exteriors are either being renovated or the building itself is being knocked down and a new one is rising. Many of the buildings here are quite new or just don’t stand out.
Once you get to West 49th Street things start to change when you enter Rockefeller Center which is across the street from Saks Fifth Avenue. The Rockefeller Center complex covers 22 acres with 19 buildings including Radio City Music Hall and the famous ice skating rink that is holiday tradition once the famous tree is lite. The complex stretches from East 48th to East 51st Street from Fifth to Sixth Avenues. Rockefeller Center was built in two sections, the original 16 building of the complex and then the second section west of Sixth Avenue (Wiki).
Rockefeller Center at 45 Rockefeller Plaza on Fifth Avenue
The land under Rockefeller Center was owned by Columbia University (which was later sold) and the building of the complex started at the beginning of the Great Depression. Construction started in 1931 with the first section opening in 1933 and the remainder of the complex opening in 1939 (Wiki).
The original section of the complex was built in the ‘Art Deco style’ and the extension on Sixth Avenue was built in the ‘International style’. Three separate firms were hired to design the complex with the principal architects being Raymond Hood of Hood, Godley and Fouilhoux who was a student in the Art Deco style, Harvey Wiley Corbett and Wallace Harrison of Corbett, Harrison & McMurray and to lay the floor plans for the project L. Andrew Reinhard and Henry Hofmeister of Reinhard & Hofmeister. They were working under the Associated architects so that no one person could take the credit for the project (Wiki). Two of the original tenants including Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and National Broadcasting Company (NBC) which still exist.
The original section of Rockefeller Center
Radio City Music Hall, known for the elaborate shows and the Rockettes, was finished in 1932 and the ice skating rink was finished in 1933 and the first Christmas tree was erected by the workers who were doing all the building.
The first tree in Rockefeller Center in 1933 with the constructions workers who erected it.
The rest of the complex went up over the next five years with extensions and renovations being done over the next fifty years. Many famous companies made Rockefeller Center their headquarters or moved their offices to the complex over the years. Still most tourists find their way to the restaurants and the famous rink at the holidays.
Rockefeller Center and the famous tree today
Of all the beautiful artwork that line the walls and courtyards of the complex, two stand out. Prometheus is a beautiful statue that stands proud above the ice skating rink. This beautiful cast iron, gilded sculpture was made in 1934 by artist Paul Manship. The work is of the Greek legend of Titan Prometheus who brought fire to mankind by stealing it from the Chariot of the Sun (Wiki).
Mr. Manship was a well known American artist who noted for his specialized work in mythological pieces in the classic style. He was educated at the St. Paul School of Art and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Artist Paul Manship
The other standout statue is of the God Atlas that guards the courtyard of the International Buildings. The sculpture was created by artist Lee Lawrie with the help of Rene Paul Chambellan. The statue was created in the Art Deco style to match with the architure of the Center and depicts Atlas carrying the celestial vault on his shoulders.
Atlas at Rockefeller Center
Mr. Lawrie was known as a architectural sculptor whose work is integrated into the building design. His work in the Art Deco design fit perfectly into the new building. Mr. Lawrie was a graduate of the School of Fine Arts at Yale.
Artist Lee Lawrie
Touring around Rockefeller Center can take a full afternoon itself especially at the holidays but in the summer months with the outdoor cafe open on the skating rink it is much more open. Also visit the underground walkways of shops and restaurants and visit the new FAO Schwarz that opened in the center.
Leaving Rockefeller Center and heading up Fifth Avenue you will pass the rest of the complex that was designed in a combination of the International and Art Deco design. When reaching the corner of East 53rd Street another historic church, Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue stands guard. Though the church has been part of Manhattan since 1823, the current church was built here by 1914 and consecrated in 1916 as an Episcopal parish (Wiki).
Saint Thomas Church
The church was designed by architects Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue of the firm Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson with added sculpture by Lee Lawrie. The building is designed in the French High Gothic style and has magnificent deals (Wiki). Even if you are not Episcopalian, going to services at the church is a nice experience. The services are always very relaxed and the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys is excellent. The music and songs are wonderful to hear and the concerts in the afternoon and weekends are a treat.
The next block up is a combination of unique buildings back to back with the University Club of New York (Princeton) and the Peninsula Hotel. These buildings are so beautiful in their place on Fifth Avenue.
The University Club of New York is a private social club and is just as elegant inside as it is outside. The building was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White in 1899 and was designed in the Mediterranean Revival Italian Renaissance palazzo style.
The University Club of New York at 1 West 54th Street
Next door to the club is the New York branch of the Peninsula Hotel located at 700 Fifth Avenue at West 55th Street. The hotel opened in 1905 as the Gotham Hotel designed in the neoclassical style. The hotel lived in the shadow of the St. Regis across the street and the Plaza Hotel up the road and went bankrupt in 1908. The hotel had many incarnations over the next eighty yeas until 1988 when it was bought by the Peninsula Group. They spent forty five million dollars in a renovation (Wiki).
Take time to go inside and see the elegant public rooms and take a walk down the hallway to see the inside of the hotel. During the holidays it is beautifully decorated adn their restaurants are considered excellent.
The Peninsula Hotel New York at 700 Fifth Avenue
Across the street from the Peninsula Hotel is the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Street. The church was founded in 1808 and has been on this spot since 1875. The church was designed by architect Carl Pfeiffer in the Victorian Gothic style. The church is built with New Jersey Red Sandstone and the interesting part of the structure is that the clock tower has the original clockworks since 1875 and must be wound each week by hand (Wiki).
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Street
On an Avenue of churches and department stores, another office building does stand out so you really have to look up and admire the detail work of the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue one of the buildings that was gilded and gold leafed in the 1980’s.
The Crown Building was built in 1921 and was designed by architects from Warren & Wetmore who you will note had designed Grand Central Terminal and the Helmsley Building on Park Avenue. They changed the name to the Crown Building in 1983 because of the ‘crown like look’ when illuminated at night. The building has been owned by many well known families including the Marcos Family from the Philippines and the Spitzers of New York (Elliot Spitzer was New York’s former Governor). It has been many ownerships over the years and their are considerations by the new owner to turn it into condos (Wiki).
The Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue
The last building I visited on my walk up Fifth Avenue was my old employer, Bergdorf-Goodman Specialty store. This is truly the palace of luxury and innovation in fashion. There are designers here that keep popping up that I have never heard of all displayed in elegant fashion where the store looks more like a art gallery of fashion than just a store.
The Cornelius Vanderbilt II house on the site before Bergdorf-Goodman
Bergdorf-Goodman was once the location of the Cornelius Vanderbilt mansion (which was torn down in 1926) and was opened in this location in 1928. The store was founded by Herman Bergdorf and was later owned by Edwin Goodman. The store is designed in the Beaux-Arts style and the inside of the store just went through a multi-million dollar renovation.
Bergdorf-Goodman at 745 Fifth Avenue
Bergdorf-Goodman is a lot of fun to walk around. My favorite floors are the first floor where Jewelry and Accessories is located. The displays of merchandise look like a museum and the Seventh Floor is stocked with interesting home furnishings, creative dishware and very pretty restaurant that overlooks Fifth Avenue and the park below. Pack your credit cards because you will find something you like here. Visit the store at Christmas for the creative window displays, the well-stocked Holiday Department or just go for Afternoon Tea in the restaurant. Its fun to window shop here.
The last place I visited was Pulitzer Plaza to sit down and relax from all of the walking and see the Pulitzer Fountain.
Pulitzer Plaza and Fountain at 1 Pulitzer Plaza
This busy little park is a refuge for people shopping on Fifth Avenue, tourists wanting to take pictures of the Plaza Hotel and the pigeons so watch out. The park is of the Grand Army Plaza that extends to the other side West 59th Street.
The fountain was designed by sculptor Karl Bitter and the park by architect Thomas Hastings of the firm Carrere & Hastings. The statue is of the Pomona, the Goddess of Abundance who is holding a basket of fruit. When Mr. Bitter died in a car accident, the statue was finished by his assistant, Karl Gruppe with the help of Isidore Konti. The fountain was dedicated in 1916 (Wiki).
The Goddess Pomona statue by artist Karl Bitter
While sitting in the park watching the tourists walk by muttering things about the “Home Alone” film that had been shot at the Plaza Hotel, it really struck me about the treasure trove of architectural styles, immense detail work on the buildings and the interesting statuary that lines this part of East Midtown. It is its own open air museum if you really take the time to look up and around and admire the true beauty of the neighborhood. Some of the most famous buildings in Manhattan are located right here.
I ended my walk back at the corner of Lexington and East 59th Street, revisiting the Turtle Bay neighborhood that I walked a few months earlier. As much as this neighborhood is changing, there still is enough of the past to admire. Look to see how the future intertwines with the past in Mid-Town East.
Places to Visit:
There are so many wonderful and beautiful buildings to see in this neighborhood that I mentioned their addresses in the main part of the walk rather one by one. Please walk both sides of Fifth Avenue and look across the street to admire the true beauty of these magnificent buildings.
Places to Eat:
Hop Won Chinese Restaurant
139 East 45th Street (between Lexington & Third Avenue)
When I finally finished walking Sutton and Beekman Places, I finally decided to take the long walk down Broadway that I had planned for two years. As you can see by the blog, I like to take one neighborhood or section of the City at a time and concentrate on getting to know it. What is the history of the neighborhood? What is there now? Who are the shop keepers and the restaurant owners? What is the neighborhood association doing to improve the area? I like to become part of the neighborhood when I walk around it.
But recently I have noticed people on the Internet have been posting that they walked the entire length of Broadway and bragged about it like they were ‘performing brain surgery’. So I put aside my next walk and decided to see what the fuss was about walking up and down Broadway. I am not sure about everyone else but it was a long trip that took a little over eight hours and I highly recommend the exercise. It was a lot of fun and I felt terrific afterwards. The walk goes by very quickly.
I got to visit neighborhoods that I had not seen in about two to three years. The most striking thing I had discovered especially walking through Harlem and Washington Heights is how many of the old businesses I had either passed or had eaten at had closed. Just like the rest of the City, these areas are going through a lot of change and are being gentrified. It seems like the college campus neighborhoods are leading the way especially around Columbia’s new campus above 125th Street and SUNY between 145th Street to 130th Street. The shifts in neighborhoods are changing very fast and more and more buildings are under scaffolding or being knocked down and replaced.
Since the walk down Broadway from 242nd Street to Bowling Green Park is so extensive, I will not go into the intense detail of historical sites and parks along the way. More detail can be found on my sister sights, VisitingaMuseum.com, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com. On these three sites I will discuss more on each site and a more detailed history. More information on each neighborhood can be found section by section of Manhattan on my blog, MywalkinManhattan.com.
Broadway itself as an Avenue has a very interesting history. Broadway is the English-language literal translation of the Dutch name, ‘Brede-wey’. Broadway was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail that was carved into brush of Manhattan by the Native American inhabitants. ‘Wickquasgeck means “birch-bark country” in Algonquian language. The trail originally snaked through swamps and rocks along the length of Manhattan island (Wiki).
Manhattan in Colonial Times
When the Dutch arrived, the trail became the main road through the island with the colony of Nieuw Amsterdam at the southern tip. The word ‘Brede-wey’ was translated when the British took possession of the island they changed the name to ‘Broadway’. Known in the past as ‘Broadway Street’, ‘Kingsbridge Road’ and ‘Bloomingdale Road’ in parts around the island, it officially became ‘Broadway’ in 1899 when the whole street from the top of Manhattan to the bottom was named for one long road (Wiki).
The entire length of Broadway through Manhattan from Inwood to the Battery is 13 miles and the length in the Bronx is 2 miles. There is an additional 18 miles that runs through Westchester County all the way to Sleepy Hollow, NY where it ends. I just concentrated on the subway route from the 242nd Street Subway exit to the Bowling Green at the tip of Manhattan.
I started my mornings at 5:30am getting up and stretching. The sun shined in my room and that was a good start to the day. The weather was going to be in the high 70’s with a touch of clouds and the weather really cooperated. I got into New York City at 8:15am and started my day with breakfast at my favorite deli in the Garment District, 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli (or Juniors AM-PM Deli as it also known by (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com)
What I love about 9th Avenue AM-PM Deli is the generous portions at a very fair price. I started my day with a French Toast platter ($4.99). I had four very nice sized slices of French Toast that were nicely caramelized and just a hint of cinnamon. On my second time on the walk, I ate here again ordering one of their Hungry Man Hero’s ($9.75), which is three eggs, potatoes, ham, bacon and sausage on a soft hero roll with mayo. Ladened with calories yes but taste wise wonderful. It had all the calories and carbs for a 15 mile walk.
It is always nice to grab one of the stools and eat by the window and watch the world go by. Just remember to get here early before all the construction workers from the Hudson Yards come over for their half hour union break. Then it really gets busy.
9th Avenue AM-PM Deli
After breakfast, it was off to Times Square to take the Number One Subway up to 242nd Street-Van Cortland Park stop to start the walk. Manhattan actually starts lower than that but on such a nice day, I thought it would be nice to start at the very top of the subway route. I had not been to the Van Cortlandt House Museum (See VisitingaMuseum.com and TripAdvisor for my reviews) since right after the holidays to see the house decorations and not seen the park ever in the warmer months.
Van Cortlandt House Museum
I got to my destination at 9:00am and had to go to the bathroom. What is nice about Van Cortlandt Park is that the public bathrooms are right near the subway exit and there is another set right next to the Van Cortlandt House Museum so that is covered when you enter the neighborhood. Make sure to take a bathroom break now because the options get slimmer until about 207th Street.
I started my adventure by walking into the park and visiting the museum grounds. Van Cortlandt Park is a beautiful park that was once the Van Cortlandt estate. The last time I had been here was to tour the house for Christmas and to see the decorations. The house is much nicer in the Summer months with the gardens in bloom. The house was closed when I got to the park so I just walked around the grounds to stretch a bit and admire the foliage. It was nice to see the trees with leaves on them and the gardens surrounding the house were in full bloom.
Van Cortlandt Park
Don’t miss when exiting the park to stop and see Memorial Grove, a small section of the park dedicated to 21 servicemen who gave their lives in World War. There are twenty-one oak trees that were planted by the graves which are now fully grown. It is a somber but quiet place to reflect on what these men gave for our country.
Memorial Grove Park inside Van Cortlandt Park
Also, take a peek at the statue of General Josiah Porter, a Civil War hero who is memorialized just outside the entrance to Van Cortlandt Mansion. This elegant statue was created by artist William Clarke Nobel in 1902. General Porter lead the 22nd Regiment of the National Guard of New York during the war (NYCParks.org).
General Josiah Porter in front of the Van Cortlandt Mansion
Once I left the park, I started the walk on the west side of Broadway and the plan was to walk the west side the first day and then the east side the second time so that I could see the buildings along the way and see what restaurants had opened, closed and what looked interesting. Plus where to find public bathrooms along the way. This was the interesting part of the walk was trying to find bathrooms when you needed them.
Since I have visited most of the neighborhoods already from 59th Street up to the tip of Inwood and wrote about historical sites, buildings, gardens and museums that I have visited along the way in other blogs, I won’t be mentioning these in as much detail as you can see them in other entries.
I will refer to the other sites DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com, VisitingaMuseum.com and other entries of MywalkinManhattan.com for more details to read on each neighborhood.
Also to make the walk more enjoyable and include all the wonderful places to visit and see along the way, I will be blending both days experiences into one blog so I can make stopping points that visitors should take time to see. Both walks took just over eight hours and please watch the humidity. There was a big difference doing this walk in 70 degree weather versus 85 degree weather with humidity. I needed more liquids in me and more time to sit down. Still it was great exercise and you will never be bored.
Once I left Van Cortlandt Park, it was walking down through the commercial district of the Bronx along the Broadway corridor which is loaded with chain stores and malls of all sorts. So much for people saying the Bronx is dead. There was so much shopping going on that you never had to leave for the suburbs to find a chain store.
At each subway stop station I did notice clusters of small family run businesses and here you can find some interesting restaurants and pizzerias. There are a lot of family run bakeries as well but none that stood out.
When you reach the edge of Marble Hill (the Northern most part of Manhattan), you will pass the Marble Hill Houses. I had more whistles and yells when I passed the projects on my second trip on the neighborhood. I am not sure what about me screams cop. Even so as I walked in the front walks of the houses I noticed that the residents were growing gardens that were part of the ‘Outer Seed Project’, a program of growing crops on the projects lawns. I thought it will be interesting when everything gets harvested.
It was when you will cross the bridge at 225th Street in the Bronx to the tip of Manhattan in Inwood is where it all starts to change as you enter the northern Columbia University campus and pass the football stadium.
The Columbia University ‘C’ when you exit Marble Hill and go over the bridge to the Island of Manhattan
The interesting part of this part of Inwood is that on tip of Manhattan is nothing at the end of it. Here we have bus stations, garage trucks and delivery vans. This is one of the most commercial parts of Manhattan I have ever seen outside parts of the Garment District. The area has been rezoned so there will be a lot more changes up here in the future. Once you cross the bridge from the Bronx, you feel the difference in the neighborhoods depending on what side of Broadway you are on.
Crossing the bridge means that you have entered Columbia University territory and to the right is Columbia Stadium which is pretty much shut down this time of year. There were some football players in the field but the Ivy League season starts later so it was not that busy. On my second trip down the east side of Broadway, I made two pit stops in Inwood past the stadium that I think tourists and residents alike should see.
The first is Muscato Marsh at 575 West 218th Street (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com)right behind Columbia Stadium that faces the shores of Marble Hill. This interesting marsh is one of the few in the City and one of the only ones in Manhattan that I know of and it is a great place to just sit and relax.
The Muscato Marsh is right next to the Columbia Boathouse where their rowing team set their boats off and right next to the Columbia Football stadium. On a sunny morning or afternoon it is a nice place to just sit back and watch the boaters and people on jet ski’s zoom by. It is nice to just sit by the flowers and relax.
If you want to walk a little further into Inwood Park, visit the Shorakkopoch Rock the place where it has been said that Peter Minuet had bought the island of Manhattan from the Native Americans. This is where a three hundred year old tulip tree had once stood and legend stated that the event had taken place under a tulip tree in clearing on the island. No one is too sure if this is the right place but to really understand the history of Manhattan. this is the spot where to begin.
Shorakkopoch Rock the site of the purchase of Manhattan Island by Peter Minuet
On the way of exploring Broadway, I followed the path of artwork by artist Nicolas Holiber and his bird sculptures that lined Broadway similar to the art by Joy Brown and Bernadette Myers. So traveling from 165th Street to 59th Street searching for bird artwork.
As I left Inwood Park, I watched as kids participating in Summer camps were playing games and running around. Parts of the park were closed to reseeding so you can see that money was being put into the park and renovations were starting.
As I walked down Broadway the few times I have visited the area since my initial walk in 2015, I have noticed so many businesses open and close which is almost a epidemic all over Manhattan. Broadway for almost the entire length is no different. I had recently read an article about Borough President Gale Brewer walking the length of Broadway in Manhattan and saying that about 200 store fronts were empty. This is not good and is showing what is going on not just in the economy but how the landlords are beginning to gouge small businesses with rent increases. So many small Dominican businesses I have watched close to be replaced by Hipster restaurants who are also not making it with these rent increases.
Still there are many businesses that are thriving along the Broadway corridor and a lot of great restaurants to stop and visit along the way. Even after a big breakfast, I needed to take snack breaks along the way and the restaurants in the Washington Heights area are reasonable and have great travel food.
My first stop after visiting the Muscato Marsh was Twin Donut at 5099 Broadway for a donut and a bathroom break. You will need to know which public bathrooms are good along the way and for the price of a donut is was well worth the visit. Their donuts are around a $1.75 depending on the type but go for one of their jelly or custard filled. They are really good. This is one of the first places I visit during the Cornell/Columbia Football games.
As you are traveling down Broadway, take some time to walk the side streets into the heart of ‘Little Dominica’, Inwood’s Dominican community of stores, restaurants and bakeries. The first stop should be walking down 207th Street to the subway stop on 10th Avenue. While the street is full of all sorts of restaurants, stop at the street vendors for fresh juice and pastilitos, the Dominican version of the empanadas. These usually run about $1.00. There are all sorts of street vendors selling their wares along the sidewalks. On my second trip down I stopped at a vendor for fresh chicken pastilitos and there is nothing like them when they are just out of the fryer.
As I travelled through Inwood, I stopped at the Dyckman Family Farmhouse (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), which is the oldest home on the Island of Manhattan. The Dyckman Farmhouse was built in 1785 and was once part of a 250 acre that stretched to the tip of Inwood. The house now sits on a bluff overlooking Broadway and Washington Heights on about an acre of land. The house is still impressive to walk through and when you have time, take the formal walking tour of the home and hear about the history of how the farm worked and about the Dyckman family.
The Dyckman Family Farmhouse at 4881 Broadway
As you pass the Dyckman House and walk south also take a side trip down Dyckman Avenue to visit more Dominican restaurants, bakeries and stores from Broadway to Nagle Avenue. There are some interesting places to have a snack but again check out the street vendors first especially on the weekends when the weather is nice. More people are out walking around.
When you cross Dyckman Street, Ann Loftus Playground at 4746 Broadway (named after a local community leader) will be to the right and there are nice public bathrooms and water fountains here. There are also benches under shade trees to sit under and on a warm day, their are vendors selling Dominican ices for $1.00. Go for the mango/cherry or the rainbow. On a hot day, they are very refreshing.
Ann Loftus Playground
Ann Loftus Playground is part of the extensive Fort Tyron Park that runs from Riverside Drive to Broadway from Dyckman Street to 190th Street. If you want to take a walk through the park, not only are there beautiful views of the Hudson River along the stone paths but it leads up to The Cloisters Museum at 99 Margaret Corbin Drive which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that features Medieval Art including the ‘Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries.
The Cloisters and Fort Tyron Park
The park also has many colorful flower gardens and paths along the river with amazing views. There is a lot of walking up and down hills in Fort Tyron Park but trust me the views are breathtaking and the paths lead to amazing gardens and lawns. There are also nice public bathrooms to stop at here.
As you leave the park and continue walking down Broadway, you will be in the heart of Washington Heights so on a warm day expect to see people sitting on the benches socializing, playing checkers and dominos and listening to music. There is a lot of life on these sidewalks.
As you pass Fort Tyron Park, take a peak at the street art work inside the 190th Street Station and take some time to walk the corridor. It is its own museum in constant change and the street taggers do some interesting work.
The subway station at 190th Street
When walking into the streets between 187th and 160th, there are some wonderful Spanish restaurants catering mostly to Dominican families but the menus are extensive and the prices are reasonable. There are a lot of restaurants especially clustered around the George Washington Bridge Depot. Two standouts that I highly recommend are La Dinastia at 4059 Broadway for Dominican Chinese food and 5 Star Estrella Bakery at 3861 Broadway for pastries, pastilitos and all sorts of hot snacks.
The restaurant row around 181st Street
La Dinastia has a reasonable lunch menu and I recommend having the Chicken Cracklings, a type of batter fried chicken patty with their Special Fried Rice which contains shrimp, sausage, eggs and vegetables (See review on TripAdvisor). A lunch special here can run about $12.00 with a Coke and tip and you will be full for the rest of the afternoon.
La Dinastia Chicken Cracklings and Special Fried Rice
Before you leave this area, check out the former Coliseum Cinema on the corner of Broadway and 181st Street before they tear it down. It was built in 1920 as an old vaudeville theater and famous actors including the Marx Brothers and Harold Lloyd performed there. The building is slated for demolition due to its structure concerns and will be replaced by housing and a retail mall.
The Coliseum Theater at 181st & Broadway has interesting detail work
There is a small park across from the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Mitchell Square, at the corners of Broadway and St. Nichols Avenue at 168th Street, that features the Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. It was dedicated in 1922 for members of the community who fought in WWI. I found it very touching. It features two soldiers assisting another wounded one.
Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial by artist Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Also check out some of the Dominican bakeries in the area. 5 Star Estrella Bakery is near the corner of 161st Street and Broadway. Everything at the bakery is delicious and I have never had one bad thing to eat here (See reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).
Their chicken and beef pastilitos are cooked perfectly and stuff full of filling ($1,50), their doughnuts are light and slathered in thick icing ($1.00) and their cinnamon buns ($2.00) are the best. They are light, chewy and sugary. Another item that stands out is a type of potato croquette that is filled with meat ($1.50). If they are available, grab one. Totally delicious!
5 Star Estrella Bakery
As you reach the small pocket park at 157th Street, you will come across the first piece of Broadway Art by artist Nicolas Holiber for his “Birds on Broadway” Audubon Sculpture Project exhibit which is a partnership he has with Broadway Mall Association, NYC Parks, NYC Audubon and the Gitler Gallery. These interesting sculptures bring attention to birds species that are endangered by climate change. These birds are either native to New York or do a fly by when in season. They are made of 100% reclaimed or recycled wood (Nicolas Holiber website).
The Wood Duck by artist Nicolas Holiber
The first sculpture on the walk that I saw was the Wood Duck. It was an interesting piece that unfortunately was being walked on by a couple of kids that did not seem to know the significance of the work. These rustic pieces really do stand out though and I like the write ups with each one which gives a short story on each bird.
As you pass the sculpture and continue south to the right is the Audubon Terrace at 155th Street and Broadway, which is home to Boricua College, the Hispanic Society of America Museum (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which is currently closed for renovation and the American Academy of Arts & Letters (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which just recently closed and is only open twice a year to exhibitions. Both museums are only open at select times of the year so you have to visit their websites for more information.
The American Academy of Arts & Letters
The college abuts the Trinity Church Cemetery that holds the graves of many prominent New Yorkers including John Jacob Astor IV and Mayor Ed Koch. It is interesting to walk along the paths of the cemetery during the day and look at the historic tombstones. When visiting the grave of Mayor Koch, be prepared to find lots of stones along the gravesite as a sign of respect for the dead.
Ed Koch gravesite
As you pass the borders of 155th Street into Harlem there is a distinct change in the street life. It is a lot quieter when you reach the borders of Washington Heights and Harlem. There are less people on the sidewalks here. In Washington Heights, there is music on the side walks, families playing games and men debating issues. It is a lot quieter I noticed when you cross the 155th Street border between the neighborhoods.
There is also a difference in the types of restaurants and shopping as slowly CUNY is starting to spread its wings and more businesses catering to students and faculty are opening in this area.
The next stop was to see Nicolas Holiber’s Snowy Owl at 148th Street. This was one of the more whimsical pieces in the exhibit and was unique with its outlaying wings.
The Snowy Owl by artist Nicolas Holiber at 148th Street
My next stop for a snack was at Olga’s Pizza at 3409 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor). Olga’s I had just stumbled across as I had a craving for a slice and the pizza is delicious. The secret to a good pizza is a fresh tasting and well spiced sauce and Olga’s hits both marks on this. It is a little pricey at $2.50 a slice but she is catering to the CUNY students who venture from campus to the restaurants on Broadway for meals. I got to meet Olga herself in the pizzeria who was working alongside of her parents and she seemed please that I liked her pizza so much.
To the right of Olga’s just down the block is Montefiore Park, which is always a nice place to take a break and sit down to rest under the trees. It is a real mixture of neighborhood families, college students and teenagers who are eating at the local McDonalds or one of the food trucks that line the park in the warmer months. Just north of the park at 139th Street is the third sculpture in the Nicolas Holiber exhibit, the Hooded Merganser.
The Hooded Merganser by artist Nicolas Holiber at 136th Street
One surprising thing I found at the corner of Broadway and 135th Street was a Pediatric office that housed in the front of it the Martinez Gallery at 3332 Broadway. The gallery features in the front waiting room an array of street art. This was interesting for a doctor’s office.
The Martinez Gallery at 3332 Broadway
The inside artwork at the Martinez Gallery. Very unassuming doctor’s office
Once you pass 135th Street, you enter the new extension of the Columbia University campus and because of the growth of the campus to this section of Harlem especially around the 125th Street corridor, it is changing fast. I have never seen so many new restaurants and shops going up right across the street from the Manhattanville Housing Projects. It is becoming a real extreme in this part of the neighborhood.
Columbia University’s new Manhattanville campus that stretches from 125th to 130th Streets
Once you cross 125th Street on this part of Broadway, you enter Morningside Heights and the home of Columbia University. This part of 125th Street and Broadway has really changed since I started the walk of the island. There is a more established ‘Restaurant Row” that stretches from 125th Street to 122nd Street on Broadway that contains such restaurants as LaSalle Dumplings at 3141 Broadway and Bettolona at 3143 Broadway that I have tried in previous entries on this blog and check them out on my blog on Morningside Park. They are both excellent and I highly recommend them.
As soon I arrived on the Columbia University campus at 125th Street the mood of Broadway changed again from the streets of Harlem to a collegiate atmosphere. Don’t miss a break at the Columbia University commons around 116th Street. It is a lot of fun when school is in session and even during these quiet times of the summer, there still is a lot of energy here. It is a nice place to gather your thoughts and relax.
What is also nice is all the food trucks outside the commons that cater to the Asian students. You can get fresh dumplings, pork pancakes, noodle dishes and fresh soups for very reasonable prices and you can relax in the commons on a nice day and enjoy your lunch.
Right next to the campus on East 117th street is the third in Nicolas Holiber’s sculptures, the Common Golden Eye. This is one of the nicer locations for the work as there is plenty of seating in much less congested area of Broadway. You can sit back and just admire the work.
The Common Goldeneye by artist Nicolas Holiber at 117th Street
After taking a break in the commons and watching the summer students reading and chatting amongst themselves or so involved in their cell phones that they would not look up at a zombie attack, I headed back to Broadway to cross into the Upper West Side. It is amazing how everything between 125th and 110th have changed over the past few months and even from 110th to 100th Streets the changes have been constant in a twenty year period.
When you need to take a break from the heat, Straus Park which is between 107th and 106th Streets. This shady and well landscaped little pocket park was name after Isidor and Ida Straus who were once the owners of Macy’s and died in the Titanic sinking. There is a beautiful memorial to them in the park. Friends of the Park maintain it with the city so it is always beautifully planted.
Straus Park at 107th Street
Look close or you will miss it is the ‘Art for Art Sake’ dedication to Duke Ellington on the Broadway Island on West 106th Street. The work is done in tiles and you have to look down to see the work as it on the bottom park of the cement island facing the bench. I guess most people miss this interesting piece of street art.
One of my favorite bakeries in Manhattan is located right near the park at West 105th Street and Broadway, Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway (See review on TripAdvisor ande DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I love coming here for all the creative pastries and buns that the bakery created and I have the most delicious blueberry danish ($3.50) and cinnamon bun ($3.25) for a snack. Don’t be shy in this bakery and try several items. Everything I have ever ate there was wonderful.
Silver Moon Bakery at 2740 Broadway
When I got to 103rd Street, I saw the next part of the Birds on Broadway exhibit with the Double Crested Cormorant that stood proud on the Broadway island looking over the neighborhood.
The Double crested Cormorant by artist Nicolas Holiber at 103rd Street
Another little pizzeria that you might miss is Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food is really reasonable and their personal pizza ($5.00) and pizza special (Two slices and a Coke for $5.00) are a real steal and their sauce is delicious and so well spiced.
Cheesy Pizza at 2640 Broadway
When you finally cross over past West 100th Street, you enter the Upper West Side which has been extensively traveled on this blog. There are dozens of shops and restaurants that line Broadway on this stretch of Broadway and sadly a lot of empty store fronts. This seems to be an epidemic all over the City with landlords jacking up rents every month. It really is changing this stretch of Broadway. At West 96th Street and Broadway is the next “Birds on Broadway” piece, the “Brant Goose”.
The Brant Goose at West 96th Street
When walking on Broadway in the West 80’s, don’t miss walking through Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway near 80th Street. It is fun to wander around the store and smell the aromas of cheese, olives, freshly baked breads and chocolate. Don’t miss their cafe at the corner of West 80th Street (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). There is a nice assortment of pastries and soups at a reasonable price and on certain days they have specials that are reasonably price. They have the most delicious pastries and pan pizza.
Zabar’s Cafe is the original place where Zabar’s started
You will also see the next sculpture by Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street, the “American Brittern”, which stands majestically on Broadway.
“The American Brittern” by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 79th Street
Still when you reach the West 70’s there are many beautiful apartment buildings that I admired that were built at the turn of the last century when builders were trying to woo the wealthy in the late 1890’s to the early 1900’s. The area itself is going through building boom and is changing all the time. At West 79th Street, look to the Broadway island again to see Nicolas Holiber’s “Scarlett Tanager” sculpture. These playful little birds are fun to look at.
The Scarlet Tanager by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 86th Street
Broadway has a series of churches that are really beautiful in design and in the details like the stone work and the stained glass windows. One church that stands out is the First Baptist Church 265 West 79th Street. It was built between 1890-93 and was designed by architect George M. Keister. The large window facing Broadway depicts Christ as the center of the New Testament Church (Wiki).
First Baptist Church on West 79th Street
Some of the apartment buildings are quite spectacular. The Apthorp Apartments at 390 West End Avenue (that stretches back to Broadway) is one of the most beautiful enclosed buildings with an elegant courtyard in the center. This building was built in 1908 and is the largest type of apartment of its kind in New York City. If you can take a peek inside the gates it is worth it.
The Apthorp Apartments
The Ansonia Apartments at 2109 Broadway is one of the biggest and grandest of the Victorian age apartment buildings on the Upper West Side. Built between 1899 and 1904 the outside of the building is studded with beautiful stone work, interesting torrents and a Mansard roof. Take time to walk around the building and admire the stonework.
The Ansonia Apartments at 2109 Broadway
Another building that stands out in the neighborhood is the Doriltan Apartments at 171 West 71st Street that was built in 1902. This elegant building is in the Beaux-Arts style and is another building that sets the tone for this part of the neighborhood.
The Doriltan Apartments at 171 West 71st Street
This is where the Upper West Side has changed so much. This area has become so expensive and the once notorious “Needle Park” Sherman Square is now a nicely landscaped park with a coffee vendor and young mothers with strollers. It is amazing how the City just keeps changing itself.
Sherman Square; the once “Needle Park”
Right by the subway stop at West 72nd Street is the next sculpture the “Peregrine Falcon”.
“The Peregrine Falcon” at West 72nd Street
Once you pass the borders of West 72nd Street, you will begin to see the magic of former Parks Director and major City Planner, Robert Moses. In the mid-1960’s, the City decided the area was dilapidated and pretty much leveled the neighborhood to build the Lincoln Center complex and branches of the local colleges so you will see more modern architecture on the western side of Broadway.
By the time you get to West 67th Street, you will see Julliard School, some of the buildings in the Lincoln Center complex and then Lincoln Center itself between West 65th and West 62nd Streets. On a theater night, the complex is so full energy and it is always a nice trip to see the ballet, opera or the philharmonic. The groundbreaking for this complex was in 1959 with President Eisenhower present and the complex was developed between 1962 and 1966 with current renovations still occuring in 2005. Take time to walk the courtyard and admire the fountains and the artwork that are around the buildings.
Lincoln Center at night
While passing Lincoln Center, you will see Dante Park across the street and the stately Empire Hotel. Here in Dante Park which is named after the Italian Poet, Dante Alighieri. This beautiful little pocket park sits across from Lincoln Center and has been a place to relax on my walks down Broadway. This is also the location of the last sculpture on the “Birds on Broadway” tour, the “Red Necked Grebe with Chicks”. This whimsical piece shows the mother grebe with her little ones on her back.
The Red Necked Grebe with Chicks by artist Nicolas Holiber at West 64th Street
As you head down Broadway, you will reach the Time Warner Building with its upscale shops and restaurants and Columbus Circle with its impressive statue of Christopher Columbus and the soaring fountains that surround it. This is one of the best places in Manhattan to just sit back and relax and people watch. The statue was recently part of a controversy on statues of specific people and history and happily that seems to have gone away for now.
Columbus Circle at West 59th Street
As you pass Columbus Circle and enter into Midtown Manhattan, notice to the south the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle. This innovative little museum has the top floors of the building has a interesting exhibition of “Punk Rock” art and music going on right now. (See my write up on it on VisitingaMuseum.com.)
Museum of Arts & Design
Punk Rock Exhibition
The crowds get larger the closer you come to the 42nd Street Mall. This part of Broadway near the TKTS for Broadway shows becomes crowded as these four blocks of Times Square is now an open air mall with seating and loads of costume characters who beg for pictures and money with tourists. It has gotten really crowded and annoying and the quicker you get through it the better. This is where the Ball drops on New Year’s Eve and you can see it up above the One Times Square building. Still get through Times Square, especially on a Saturday or Sunday as quick as possible.
Times Square by the TKTS booth and the Marriott Marquis to the right
The one thing that is important to know is that the bathrooms at the Marriott Marquis at 1535 Broadway are free and it is a good pit stop before heading further downtown. They are located on the Eighth floor and are clean and very nice. They also have some good restaurants in the hotel like the Broadway Bar (See review on TripAdvisor) to eat at but wait until you head further downtown.
As you head down past Times Square you will notice that not much has changed on this part of Broadway. Most of the buildings are pre-war and been around since the 30’s and 40’s. Here and there new buildings have creeped in. Stop in the lobby at 1441 Broadway, the Bricken Textile Building that was built in 1930 to see the “Nurturing Independence Through Artistic Development” art exhibition. It is quite creative. The whole lobby was full of modern art. There was a very interesting piece by artist Daniel Rozin who created a ‘Software Mirror’ where when you looked into it, it then looked back at you.
Artist Daniel Rozin demonstrating how the piece works
After wondering through the art show, I stopped in Frankie Boys Pizza at 1367 Broadway for a slice and a Coke and just relaxed. I was starved by this point of the walk. Their pizza is very good (See review on TripAdvisor) and was crowded that afternoon with people having an late lunch.
After I finished my lunch, I continued the walk to Herald Square the home of Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street, whose store still dominates the area and is one of the last decent department stores in New York City. It is fun to take a quick pit stop in the store to see the main lobby and there is another public bathroom both on the lower level and on the Fourth Floor.
Macy’s Broadway entrance
Once you leave Herald Square and walk south you will be entering what is left of the old Wholesale district where once buyers used to come into these stores to commercially buy goods for their businesses. Slowly all of these businesses as well as most of the Flower District is being gentrified out with new hotels, restaurants and bars replacing the businesses. It seems that most of the district is being rebuilt or renovated.
I got down to Worth Square by Madison Square Park in the early evening and admired the William Jenkins Worth monument. General Worth was a military hero during the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. The monument was designed by James Goodwin Batterson and when General Worth died in 1849, his remains were buried under the monument. It was interesting to read that at the percussion for his funeral that 6500 military men were at the ceremony (Wiki).
The General William Jenkins Worth Monument
As you look down further on the square, you will see the Flatiron Building one of the most famous and most photographed buildings in New York City. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham as a Renaissance Palazzo with Beaux-Arts styling . The original name for the building was the “Fuller Building” for the Company. The name “Flatiron” comes from a cast iron clothes iron from the turn of the last century. (Wiki)
The ‘Flatiron’ Building at 175 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street
As you pass the Flatiron Building and continue the walk south between 23rd and 14th Streets, take a look up to admire the buildings that once help make up the “Ladies Mile”, once the most fashionable shopping neighborhood after the Civil War (See my blog in MywalkinManhattan.com “Walking the Ladies Shopping Mile”).
One of the most elegant buildings on this part of Broadway is the former “Lord & Taylor” building at 901 Broadway. The building was constructed for the department store in 1870 and was the main store until 1914. It is now the Brooks Brothers Red Fleece store. Really take time to look at the detail work of the store and step inside. The Mansard Roof is an amazing touch.
901 Broadway “Lord & Taylor” building from 1870-1914
Finally reaching Union Square at Broadway and 14th Street, I was able to relax on a bench under a shade tree. I stopped at the Farmers Market, that is there every Wednesday and Saturday, and pick up some fruit and a couple of cookies from one of the stands. This is a lot of fun in the warmer months and don’t miss it September and October when the produce really comes in.
Busy Union Square
As you leave Union Square and head south again, you will be entering the campus of New York University and all over you can see classrooms, stores and restaurants that cater to the students. Sometimes I think these kids are trying so hard to look cool it becomes outlandish. The way some of them dress is over the top.
At the bend on Broadway, another church stands out in the neighborhood. Grace Episcopal Church at 802 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and East 10th Street sits at a bend in Broadway and makes an impressive statement in the neighborhood. The church was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. in the French Gothic Revival style and started construction in 1843 (Wiki).
Walking south, stop in front of both 770 Broadway between 8th and 9th Street, the former home of John Wanamaker Department Store and 693 Broadway at 4th Street, the Merchants Building. These two buildings stand out for their beauty and design.
770 Broadway was built between 1903 and 1907 by architect Daniel Burham as the annex for the main store of Wanamaker’s which was next door. There was a skyway that once connected the two stores. The company closed for business in 1954. (Wiki)
770 Broadway, the former Wanamaker’s Department Store Annex
Stop at 693 Broadway to admire the design of the building. Built in 1908 by architect William C. Frohne the building is studded with interesting stone carvings and ornamentation. What really stands out is all the owls that decorate the building (Greenwich Village Preservation).
693 Broadway The Merchants Building
The owls that line 693 Broadway
Looking up at the scaffolding of 611 Broadway, The Cable Building, it is not hard to miss the detail work of this graceful building. The stone work like a lot of the buildings on lower Broadway has beautiful detailed stonework adorning it. The building was designed by architect Stanford White of McKim, Meed & White and was designed in the Beau-Arts design of “American Renaissance”. The building was once home to the Metropolitan Traction Company, one of New York’s big Cable Car companies. In the last twenty years it has been home to the Angelika Film Company and Crate & Barrel home store. (Wiki)
Above all the scaffolding, look at the stone detail work of 611 Broadway
Take some time to admire 366 Broadway, a former Textiles Building built in 1909. Designed by Fredrick C. Browne, the building was designed in Edwardian commercial architecture and look at the detail work of the pillars, stone carved faces and other decorative stonework. The building once housed the Royal Typewriter Company then moved on in its later life to house textile firms including Bernard Semel Inc. (where the signage comes from on the outside), who was a former clothing jobber. Now called The Collect Pond House is a coop in Tribeca neighborhood (Tribeca History News)
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway is one of the most famous buildings on Broadway. The former headquarters for F. W. Woolworth & Company was once the tallest building in the world when it was constructed in 1913 and stayed the tallest building until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was finished on Lexington Avenue in 1930. The building was designed by architect Cass Gilbert in the neo-Gothic style and was a representation of the time as a “Cathedral for Commerce”. The lower floors are clad in limestone and the upper floors in glazed terra-cotta panels (Wiki). The lobby is one of the most detailed and ornate in New York but ask security first if you can walk around.
The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway
Across the street from the Woolworth Building is the very popular City Hall Park home to the to the 1803 built City Hall (Tweed Hall) and the seat of government for the City of New York. The park has always been used as some form of political function since the beginning in the Colonial days as a rebel outpost to its current function. It has had a prison, public execution site and parade ground on the site. Since the renovation in 1999 under then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the park has been a place for people downtown to gather and relax by its fountain and beside the beautifully designed gardens. There are about a dozen statues in the park to admire so take time to enjoy a walk in the park (NYCParks.org).
The City Hall Park
Another historic church that played a big role in the recovery of the World Trade Center events of 9/11 is the St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church at 209 Broadway. The Church was built in 1766 and is the oldest surviving church in Manhattan and is designed in the late Georgian church architecture by architect Thomas Mc Bean and crafted by Andrew Gautier (Wiki).
St. Paul’s Church
George Washington worshipped here on his Inauguration day in 1789 and continued to worship here when New York City was the capital of the country. The church had been spared by a sycamore tree on the property that absorbed the debris from the World Trade Center site and became a place of recovery and reflection in the aftermath of the events on 9/11 (Wiki).
Another building to admire is 108 Broadway at Leonard Street. This beautiful Italian Renaissance Revival building was designed by McKim Mead & White and has been refitted for apartments.
108 Broadway at Leonard Street
Upon reaching Zuccotti Park which is right near the World Trade Center sight and the home of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that traveled around the world after the 2008 meltdown of the New York Stock Market. The movement and occupation of the park which is private property, began in September of 2011. The park which is owned by Brookfield Office Properties was named after the Chairman of the company, John Zuccotti in 2011. (Wiki)
Zuccotti Park at twilight at Broadway and Cedar Streets
Zuccotti Park during its days of “Occupy Wall Street”
Take time to admire “Joie de Vivre” by artist Marco Polo ‘Marc’ di Suvero, and Italian now American artist. This interesting sculpture was installed in the park in 2006 and features “four open-ended tetrahedrons”. (Wiki)
“Joie de Vivre” by artist Marc di Suvero
As you pass Zuccotti Park and head down the last stretch of Broadway look around at the buildings on both sides of Broadway as they have not changed much since the early 1900’s.
The last historic church I have visited and have walked past many times when in the neighborhood is Trinity Church, an Episcopal church at 75 Broadway. The first church on the site was built in 1698 and burned during the Revolutionary War during the Great Fire of 1776 when a two thirds of the City burned after a fire started in tavern and left most of New Yorkers homeless (Wiki).
The current church was built in 1839 and finished in 1846 and was built in the Gothic Revival design by architect Richard Upjohn. It was the tallest building in the United States until 1869. The church has played important roles in recent history as a place of refuge and prayer during the attacks on 9/11. It also was part of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2012 as a place of refuge and support to the protestors (Wiki and Church History).
One of the most elegant buildings in lower Manhattan is the Cunard Building, the former home of the Cunard Shipping line. The building was designed by architect Benjamin Wistar Morris and opened in 1921. The company sold the building in 1971 and has different tennents now.
The Cunard Building
I finally got to my designation of Bowling Green Park on the first trip down Broadway at 5:45pm (starting time again 9:00am) just in time to see all the tourist lined up by The Bull statue (see my review on VisitingaMuseum.com). The statue was designed by artist Arturo de Modica and was installed as ‘renegade art’ meaning he did not have permission from the City to place it there. It has been a big tourist attraction since its installation and I could not see a reason for the City to move it from its location. At 7,100 pounds they can move it too far.
The Charging Bull at Bowling Green Park by artist Arturo de Modica
I reached the end of Broadway at 5:45pm and relaxed in Bowling Green Park (See review on VisitingaMuseum.com) for about a half hour. It was so nice to just sit there watching the fountain spray water and watching the birds as they pecked around.
Bowling Green has a rich history as a park. It was designed in 1733 and is the oldest park in New York City. It was here that the first reading of the Declaration of Independence was read and then the toppling of the Statue of King George III in defiance. You can still see where the citizens at the time cut off the small crowns on the fencing that surrounds the park. This is another place that was rumored to be the site of where the Dutch bought Manhattan. The park is the official start of Broadway.
Bowling Green Park at the height of its beauty
I walked from the Bowling Green Park and sat by the harbor in Battery Green Park and watched the ships go by. It is a nice place to relax and watch the sun set and the lights go on in all the buildings in lower Manhattan and watch the Statue of Liberty illuminate. It is quite a site. Look at the lights of Jersey City and Governors Island.
For dinner that night, I walked from the Battery into Chinatown and went to Chi Dumpling House (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at 77 Chrystie Street in Chinatown. They have the most amazing menu that is so reasonable. Ten steamed dumplings for $3.00 and a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup for $1.50.
Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street
For dessert that evening I came across Gooey on the Inside at 163 Chrystie Street (See review on TripAdvisor) for the most soft and gooey homemade cookies. I saw a bunch of people smiling as they left this basement business raving about the cookies and I had to investigate. I have to admit that they are pricey ($5.00 and higher) but the cookies are amazing. The Chocolate Chunk was loaded with large pieces of chocolate and the Birthday Cake is filled with icing and is soft and chewy. The best way to end the evening.
Gooey on the Inside Birthday Cake Cookies
On my second day of walking down Broadway, I stopped at Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for dinner. I had arrived later in the evening and did not realize they closed at 8:00pm. The food which is normally excellent, had been sitting for awhile and was not that good. I had a chicken parmesan and spaghetti special that was dried out. Not their best work.
Pranzo Pizza at 34 Water Street
After dinner, I returned to Battery Park to admire the lights on Governor’s Island and the illuminated Statue of Liberty. There is nothing like this site in the world and only off the. Island of Manhattan can you see it this way.
The Broadway Mall Art Exhibition:
The Birds of Broadway by artist Nicolas Holiber:
Artist Nicolas Holiber in front of his sculptures for the “Birds on Broadway” show
Every year the Fancy Food Industry holds one of the most innovative events in New York City, the Annual Fancy Food Show at the Javis Center every June. This amazing show shows the industry the newest and latest products that are coming onto the market, old favorites that get new packaging or new flavors, the latest in food trends, cooking classes that introduce a product in a whole new way and products from abroad that are looking for distribution in the States. I found the most interesting products at the show and it was nice to see some of the old standbys that I have been sampling since my first show back in 2004.
I have learned over the years that this is NOT the place to over eat and is not lunch. It can be extremely over-whelming if you sample everything in the first row and then realize that you have about 100 more rows to visit. Don’t overdo it on the cheese and chocolate the first day of the show or you will feel it by 5:00pm. I have learned to pace myself and take notes about what I saw. I also like to see what the products are in the foreign pavilions because they have the most interesting packaging and the representatives are usually bored.
I have also learned that you will get pushed out of the way for a vendor to talk to a Whole Foods buyer even if you are having a nice conversation about their product. Business is business and many of these people are looking for someone to distribute a product that probably is already represented in the food market in the States by a dozen other vendors. It took two days of walking, sampling and talking but there were many standouts at the show that I would like to share with everyone.
I got to the show on Sunday by 10:00am and the Javis Center was just starting to get crowded so people were more willing to talk. Some representatives and sales people looked so bored that no one went to visit them if their product looked interesting I would walk over and talk to them. I had some really nice conversations at the show and learned a lot of the new developments in the fancy food industry.
My first day at the show I covered most of the first level where it seemed that the most popular vendors were placed and got the most traffic. It is also where most of the County Pavilions were placed so I got a chance to visit them with some peace and quiet. Most of the visitors and buyers ran through the foreign pavilions but I had fun checking out all the new products and talking to all their salespeople.
Most of the foreign pavilions were manned by one or two people and it looked to me that unless they already had connections in this country many were sitting at their booths checking their computers or emails. This went on with pretty much all the foreign pavilions with the exception of the Canadian where everyone was out sampling their products and stopping passers by. It is tough for a lot of these manufacturers as they are looking for distribution.
My first stop was at the Japanese Pavilion where I stopped at various booths to look at the packaging of products and sample items that I had not seen before. A few unique things popped out at me.
The Meiji America Inc. featured a whole line of desserts and snacks including a product call Chocorooms which are butter cookie in the shape of mushroom covered with chocolate where the top of the mushroom would be. They also carried a crunchy chocolate snack called ‘Hello Panda’ which is a crisp butter cookie filled with chocolate with a playful panda printed on the top of it. Perfect for those little kids that like something catered to them.
The Ginbis Company of Japan was showing a line of snacks that I thought was quite interesting. One product that was delicious the Shimi Choco Corn which was star shaped corn snacks in both vanilla and chocolate. Another was rather odd but really worked was the Black Sesame Biscuits which were mini asparagus shaped snacks that were studded with sesame seeds.
Ginbis Cookie snacks
Another product that I think will be popular is their Dream Animal cookies which are a Japanese version of animal crackers. These delightful little butter flavored biscuits are in the shape of animals with the names of the animals printed on the cookies in English. Very cleaver for the child who is learning their ABC’s. Their snacks were sweet and savory.
Ginbis Animal Crackers
The EIWA America Inc. headquartered in Japan has the license for Sanrio Company’s Hello Kitty line of marshmellows including one that was filled with chocolate which are called smores mellows. They also come flavored in strawberry, mango, pineapple and matcha.
In the South Korea Pavilion, there were a couple of standouts that were featured. Plado Company featured a children’s drink that I thought was nicely packaged but a little on the sweet side. It was a strawberry juice fruit drink for kids called Poro Aazz that featured a cartoon duck on the outside. The bottle was playful and I could see children loving it. The flavors come in milky, apple, tropical, green grape and mango. They also have a line of seaweed snacks and noodle cup soups.
These unique drinks will be popular with little children
A product that stood out at the South Korean Pavilion was by Bibigo with their Gochujang Hot Sauce that had many layers of spiciness. This sauce really lasts with you.
The Pureplus Company featured a line of kids yogurt/coco drinks that had many Japanese cartoon characters on the outside. These types of drinks were really on the sweet side catering to a child with a developing taste bud. These drinks were also quite rich.
The next Asian Pavilion I visited was the Thailand Pavilion and they had more food lines to cater to all age groups. The Sun Yang Food Company were showing several food items that I thought were interesting. They created a line called Ten Jang which are a line of seasoned fish snacks that I am not sure would appeal to a mass audience but the snacks in barbecue and chili would find their way to kids who like a spicy snack, They also offer the line in Chicken and Squid. Their line of rice crackers called “Mochi Max” has some interesting flavors such as pizza, satay and wasabi.
The Srinanaporn Marketing Public Company Limited also offered a few noteworthy beverage lines that I thought might appeal to the child who has a sweet tooth. They had a refreshing line of drinks named ‘Uzu’, which is a white grape juice drink flavored with strawberry, Lychee and Orange. The lychee was thirst quenching and just the right amount of sweetness.
Leaving the Asian booths I walked next to the Egyptian Pavilion to see what food products they were showing at the show. One standout was the Shanawany Group’s line called ‘Delta Sweets” which carried an assortment of candies and crackers. One of the standouts was the Caramel bites, another being a mildly sweet line of Strawberry Wafers and a delicious Chocolate Wafer line called “Chocolatoo”.
Another vendor that stood out amongst the rest was the Elvan Company who carried a line of snack cakes. They offered an interesting sponge cake line that almost looked like a ‘Twinkie’ but not as sweet. The line called ‘CakeTime’ came in both a chocolate and vanilla flavor and had a very nice taste to them. The ‘CakeTime’ Donut line looked really good as well but unfortunately they did not have the samples with them. Their snack cakes were just a step below in sweetness than a traditional Hostess snack cake.
Elvan Company Snack Cakes
When touring the United Kingdom Pavilion I came across an interesting product in the Great Britain booths by Flower & White Ltd. They have a line of Meringue Bars in various flavors that were light and crunchy and at 96 calories were a decadent little treat. I was able to sample the flavors in Lemon and Raspberry and they were sweet and melted in your mouth. Perfect for that afternoon coffee or tea break.
In the Pavilion for the Country of Greece, there was a lot of olive, nuts and oil companies to choose from. One that carried a line of interesting sweet and savory pastries was from the Ioniki Sfoliata S.A. company in Athens. Their line of cheese and spinach pies, sweet and savory croissants and meat Peinirli (a type of Italian meat pastry) were standouts at the booth. Each was generous filled with cheese and meats and when warmed up had a delicious buttery taste to the dough and the fillings were well spiced.
The Canadian Pavilion offered many choices in maple syrup products and there were a few standouts beside just maple syrup. Jakeman’s Maple Products that was founded in 1876 in Ontario produces an interesting group of products that are flavorful and make good use of their maple syrup background. Their standard maple syrup selections are wonderful but their use of the product in their maple chocolates, maple popcorn (a spin on caramel corn) and their Maple Cream Cookies were just amazing. Their Maple Cream Cookies are extremely addictive and just crunching on them at the show you can easily eat a whole bag at one sitting. They are sweet but not in the sweetness you would in a sugar product.
Jackman’s Maple Products
Another sugary product that stood out was the Double Dutch cookie by Schep’s Bakery Ltd. out of Norwich, Ontario called a Stroopwafels. These sweet little waffle cakes are two light waffle like cookies filled with caramel and are Holland’s favorite cookie. These rich little cookies taste like a portable breakfast and are perfect with coffee.
The French Pavilion always bring such elegant and high quality products. I always love their packaging and I love the way the French do business. Everyone is so nicely dressed and mannered and not one is pushy about selling you something. There is so much pride in the quality in their food products that it shows when they describe and sample them. United Biscuits of France has the lightest and buttery cookies with a happy face where the chocolate filling smiles at you.
BN Pockets Cookies
The French quality in their jellies show too and not just in the traditional Bon Mama. One of the representatives from La Fruitiere Jams and Toppings let me sample a few of their jellies which are some of the best I ever tasted. You could really taste the fresh fruit in every bite. There were chunks of strawberry and cherry in each bite of the samples.
The was one candy that stood above the others from the Spanish Pavilion was Wonkandy marshmellows in bright colors. These colorful treats were sweet marshmellows covered with colorful sugar topping. These little confections come in a rainbow of colors in a large plastic container.
Leaving the foreign pavilions behind, I started to concentrate on the domestic vendors and found amongst all the cheese, chocolate and popcorn vendors many interesting standouts that I could see becoming popular on the wide market.
One vendor that was garnering long lines was the Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company who was featured in the State of Maine section of the show. Their lobster products were not only fresh tasting like the lobster had just been caught but decadently rich, creamy and buttery. They sampled their ‘Lobster Grilled Cheese’ appetizers which were so decadent and delicious I had to keep returning to their booth to try them again. I had had a taste of the their Lobster Bisque at a different show a few years earlier and that was also rich and silky to taste. Their products were top quality when serving lobster.
These Lobster Grilled Cheese were one of the best products at the show
Another rich tasting standout in the State of Florida section of the show was their ‘Stuffed Garlic Bread’ that is stuffed with cheese, garlic and spices. The flavors are in Original with garlic and cheese and the mild spice variety with a garlic, pepper and cheese filling. When baked it is almost like an open face Stromboli. The combination of garlic and cheese with the soft caramelized bread you could eat on its own with just a little sauce.
There were a few standouts in the Asian-American market as well. The Green Spirit Food Inc. offered a line of vegan food products where you would not have known it wasn’t chicken. Their Vegan Chicken Cake and their Veggie Corn Koroke Cakes were the highlight of their food lines at the show. The chicken variety tasted so much like chicken that I was fooled by it. The corn cakes were filled with buttery corn kernels and fried to golden crisp with a light breading. Both were well spiced and would be perfect at any dinner party.
In the State of Hawaiian section of the show the Noh Foods of Hawaii had a line of ‘Hawaiian Ice Teas’ that I enjoyed very much. Their ice tea line was light, refreshing and the best part was made with Hawaiian cane sugar and not high fructose corn syrup. It was light and sweet and chilled could be drunk right out of the can. They also had an interesting line of spices and rubs.
Another beverage that stood out at the show was manufactured in Minnesota by Maud Borup Inc. It was a line of Fizzy Drink Bombs which are a fruit flavored ball in blueberry and cherry that you drop into a glass of water and watch it fizz. These lively treats are perfect for a child’s birthday party where the children could make the drinks themselves and watch the water pop, fizzle and show the edible glitter.
In the Candy area there were so many choices that I was on sugar high for most of the show. The one standout that I love and it has been mentioned in a few of my food blogs is the Butterfield Candies founded in 1924. The Butterfield Fruit Hard Candies are delicious and you can taste the infused flavors of the fruits. My favorites have been their peach and cherry flavors that I have tasted at the show. Just crunching on them is a real treat.
Back in the State of New York section of the show, one delicious standout was Bantam Bagels which had started out as a small shop on Bleecher Street down in the Village in Manhattan. The couple had been making their stuffed bagels in their kitchen and they were so popular with their friends that they opened a shop and the rest was history. The best part of their bagel bites is that they are already stuffed with cream cheese so you don’t need it on top. At the show they were featuring their Classic with just cream cheese and the Onion which had a nice pronounced flavor to it. No wonder the line was so popular that the line was long. Also the people working there were really nice and let you taste a few of them.
Another standout product was from DuFour Pastry Kitchens out of the Bronx were their Smoked Cheddar and Bacon Cocktail Straws (a type of pastry cheese stick) that had a nice smoky savory taste that were light and crispy and had a bite of a mixture of cheeses. Another great cheese snack that I tried are an oven baked cheese bite by Granarolo. The crisp is made with Italian milk and grated cheese and then it is baked. It has a rich sharp taste to it.
A cracker that stood out was by La Panzanella who make a wonderful GMO product. These crisps are made in flavors in Italian Herb, Sundried Tomato Basil and spicy olive and have a nice bite to them.
Haldiram’s, a company that specializes in Indian food had a interesting and spicy line of naan bread, stews and delicious samosa’s and shami kebabs which are a type of patty. All the foods that we were able to sample were full of spices and hot dipping sauces. Everything was delicious.
There were many wonderful desserts that were featured at the show and too many to mention but there many that I enjoyed eating. The Well Luck Company Inc. sampled a line of Mille Crepe Cakes in flavors Strawberry and Mango which were layers of French pastry and ice cream and were sweet and creamy in each bite.
Dewey’s Bakery out of North Carolina offers a delicious line of Doughnut cookies which I thought were unique. These soft batch cookies were a cross between a doughnut and cookie that came in Old Fashioned Glazed, Cinnamon Bun and Apple Fritter that were soft and rich with every bite.
Don’t miss these soft rich cookies especially the glazed
Another line of delicious cookies were from Goodie Girl out of Ridgefield, New Jersey which were packaged and almost looked like Girl Scout Cookies. Their Double Chocolate Chip and Birthday Cake cookies were wonderful and they let me take samples home.
Goodie Girl Cookies which are crisp and sweet
Two snack foods that were a real treat were the Sweet Lemon Sweet Crisps by the 34 Degrees Company. These light and sweet crisps will melt in your mouth. These can be paired with a entree or a dessert or just served with coffee or tea.
The one standout popcorn of the many popcorn merchants was by Fisher’s Popcorn of Delaware Inc.. They made a Maple Popcorn with Old Bay Seasoning. It was a delicious twist to a sweet and savory snack.
Fisher’s Old Bay Popcorn
Of all the computer software companies that I talked with in those two days, one innovative company that grabbed my attention was I-Whiz. This company works with smaller vendors, restaurants and suppliers and farmers to match up products to sell and buy. The software is rather cutting edge for the restaurant industry.
I-Whiz Computer Software
On my trip day excursion in the world of food, these companies were just a small samples of the people I met. I mentioned more in my blog in July of 2015 and went into more detail of the American companies.
The New York Fancy Food Show is an eye opener in the food and snack industry. Walking the several miles of the show is a glimpse of what we will see on shelves all over the country and all over the world. The products that I pointed out were the ones I thought were different from the rest. I look forward to the long walk of the show next year.
After just finishing Turtle Bay and my next start of the walk in East Midtown, I took the night off and had been invited to a private members night at the Bronx Zoo. Having been occupied by my responsibilities on the fire department for the last six years and always being the night of our department meeting I always had to miss the event. Since I am no longer Secretary of the Department, I decided to attend this year. On a rather gloomy, cloudy Thursday night I took the subway up to the Bronx for the event (I was smart in calling first to be sure it was still happening and Membership said it was).
I had not taken the subway this far up to the Bronx in years and was amazed at all the changes. The South Bronx has been on a building spree for the last twenty years and it shows with all the new apartment buildings springing up all over the place. I have not seen this much new construction since walking around West End Avenue in Manhattan.
I was not sure where to get off on the subway and forgot to ask when asking the best way to get to the zoo. I just took the Number 2 train up to the Bronx and got off at the Bronx Park stop. That was interesting. I thought that the subway would drop me off closer to the entrance but this took me to the other side of the park and I had to walk around. Did I feel like a fish out of water.
I was in the middle of an Arabic neighborhood where everyone totally ignored me. I guess that was the interesting part of it was feeling invisible. It was mostly made up of small businesses with lots of restaurants and bakeries in the area. Walking down 180th Street from the subway finally got me to the entrance to the zoo.
I had not been to the Bronx Zoo in about twenty years, not since the Congo Exhibit opened so it was a treat for me. The only problem with Member’s Night was the threat of rain as it had been cloudy all day but that did not damper the crowds that came into the zoo. For the most part, there have been many changes to the zoo over the years and the philosophy of raising animals in captivity has changed so the exhibits have changed with it.
The only problem I saw was that many of the animals looked bored or contained. Almost like a nursing home for the wild. The zoo does need to look at the displays more to see how the animals are reacting to it. I have to say though, the zoo really has done a nice job with the new displays and done a good job with keeping them well-feed and happy.
The Bronx Zoo Map
I started my night in the Jungle World exhibition. This glassed in exhibit is home to birds, insects and monkeys all of which are a tad bit small for the animals. There was a lot packed into a small space. It was an interesting to see the animals in a somewhat realistic environment but still I saw the looks on the monkeys faces and they looked bored. I think they should pair this exhibit down with less mammals and give the animals left more space. It is fascinating how they expect something to live in such small quarters.
It was more fun when I got to the monorail and got to see animals in a larger more realistic habitat. Here they had room to move around. Even so they way the animals looked at us passing by I don’t know who was looking at who. The ride was interesting as each animal lived in its own place to live and roam.
We had a guide who took us past herds of deer, a lion den, two rhinos who were playing amongst each other and bison who were going about their business. I liked this exhibition because it gives these animals a realistic home with room to move around. We got to make stops at each of the habitats and the speaker gave us a little talk about each animal, how it has adapted to New York weather and you get to see how each animal interact with each other.
The Treetop Adventure climb
Once I was off the monorail, I took the path down to the Treetop Adventure exhibition where you get to climb all through the obstacles of rope bridges and ladders. That was a lot of fun keeping up with the teenagers who were racing through the maze. I climbed up rope ladders, crossed rope bridges and climbed through barrels to the top of every stop. It was fun to see how the age groups handled each section of it. The toughest part was climbing through the last circular tube because it is meant for little kids and I had to crawl on all four to get through but I went through the whole thing like a pro. It seemed to impress the little kids.
The Treetop Maze
From the Treetop Adventure I traveled east down the path to the World of Birds exhibition and got to see many different species of birds. There was a nice assortment of exotic birds from all over the world in their jungle habitat. Each section of the exhibit was dedicated to a different species from all corners of the globe.
The World of Birds
After the World of Birds, I passed Tiger Mountain and looked at the tiger that looked at all of us and the poor thing looked bored. I think the humidity was getting to him but unlike the other visitors I did not want to arouse him because by the end of the day he looked tired.
The next part of the pathway took me to the Bear exhibition in which all the bears looked very playful and they looked like they were ignoring us and were have a good time amongst themselves. What I liked about this exhibit was that there was plenty of room for the bears to move around and engage with nature. The mother bear looked like she was having fun with the cubs.
I then walked through Samba Village which I guess was the zoo’s take on an African village. Everything was closed that evening maybe because of the crowd or because the weather was not that nice and the zoo figured that the weather might keep people away. As I passed the buildings I did not realize that it was a gift shop and a snack shop.
Congo Gorilla Forest
I next visited the Congo Gorilla Forest for the first time since it opened over twenty years earlier. The exhibit has several different species of gorilla and monkey each in their own encampments. The area is large and is furnished with all sorts of trees, rocks and water placements that make the habitat more real for the mammals. For the most part I saw the gorillas just go about their day walking with each other and taking care of each other. It was nice that the zoo created an environment where the mammals felt right at home. There was lots of room to move around.
Congo Gorilla Forest
After visiting the Congo Gorilla Forest, I went to see what was open for dinner. The Dancing Crane Cafe that was located in the older section of the zoo. The restaurant was packed with families that I did not want to bother eating then and since it was getting late wanted to see the Dinosaur Walk and the Sea Lion Tank before the end of the evening.
When I got to the Sea Lion Tank at the Astor Court, the sea lions were in the pool splashing around showing off to all the patrons who were watching them swim. They are so used to people watching them they just swam and dove around us. I thought they waved to us.
The Bronx Zoo posted this and I thought he looked cute
The main entrance of the zoo facing the Fordham Road entrance is the original zoo that was built in 1907. This is where the original animal buildings were located that are now used for administration purposes. These buildings are some of the original buildings when the park opened after 1899. These graceful stone buildings were built by the firm of Heins & Lafarge and the Rockefeller Fountain was donated by William Rockefeller. It had been built by Biagio Catella in 1872 and moved to the park in 1903.
The Rockefeller Fountain built by Biagio Catella
This is the Monkey House
The Reptile House
The Lion House
The Elephant House
Don’t miss walking around Astor Court after visiting the sea lions. These buildings are a real treat if you love architecture and detailed stone work. Each building has its own unique look to it and the animals grace the buildings where they used to live at a time when animals were just an amusement instead of living breathing animals who needed living space. Still the Victorians knew how to design a building.
I walked along the gardens near the fountain and by Astor Court while the band set up for a family concert for the families. As the sky threatened, the families got ready for the concert. I decided to visit the Dinosaur Safari Walk before the park closed.
This was very interesting as they movable Dinosaurs in the natural habitat placed here and there along the walk by species. The dinosaurs winked, moved and roared around us giving me the creepy feeling that I was in the movie ‘Jurassic Park’. As I walked through the exhibit, I watched as they moved around and lifted their heads up to look at us. I thought it was very clever and in our case Thank God they were not real.
Don’t miss the ‘Dinosaur Safari’ before it closes
On the way back from the walk, I stopped to admire all the buildings once again that surrounded Astor Court. Really look up and see the detail work of the stone animals. The artisans did a wonderful job with the craftsmanship and the intricate details.
While everyone else was enjoying the concert, I made the trip back to The Dancing Crane Cafe (See Review on TripAdvisor) for dinner. It was around 7:00 pm when I got to the restaurant and that and the gift shop were still busy. I have to say for a zoo restaurant I was pretty impressed by the food. It is standard children’s menu with hamburgers, chicken fingers and individual pizza.
I had the Chicken Fingers and French Fries combination dinner with a Coke ($11.99 with a 10% membership discount). They were delicious. Perfectly cooked with just the right amount of breading and perfectly deep fried where they crisp on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside. Usually these things are sitting under a heat lamp dried out but here the restaurant was so busy that every thing was freshly cooked and delicious. It was fun to sit by the window and watch the flamingos in the pool next to the restaurant or just watch the other members trying to calm their kids down before the zoo closed for the evening.
As the last of members and their families came into the restaurant for dinner, the Bug Carousel was going in full force and packed with kids and their parents trying to get one last ride in before the park closed. I could not believe the prices of everything and how much was extra when you visit the zoo but that is the nice part of being a member of the Wildlife Conservatory. Everyone once in a while there is a nice member perk.
Even though it was a somewhat gloomy night, I had a ball walking around the zoo and enjoying the company of other members who were also having a good time with their familes. It is nice to see that my membership is making a difference.
I took the Number 2 subway at the 180th Street stop this time back to Manhattan.
I covered the edges and the Avenues of Turtle Bay recently and it was time to walk all the streets. To cover the rather odd shaped part of the neighborhood, I walked from East 58th Street to East 48th from Lexington Avenue to Second Avenue first and on the second part of the walk, I covered from East 47th to East 44th Streets from Lexington Avenue to the East River on the second part of the walk to complete the neighborhood. I criss crossed some of the same blocks so I might be pointing things out for a second time that you should not miss seeing. Even amongst the all the modern architecture, there are many beautiful things to admire here.
It is an interesting mix of buildings and residential use and a neighborhood in much transition as it is becoming more commercial and more like Midtown as the small neighborhood feel is surrounded by glass tower apartment buildings and offices. The side streets still keep a localized charm while the Avenues have given way to the big towers. Here you can see the distinct difference in the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side. The West Side has not lost that charm on the Avenues.
I started the walk revisiting 58th Street and walked past all the bath and home design shops that line the street. It is an interesting block of old brownstones and prewar apartment buildings fitted for all the small businesses. One stand out on the block was Bon Vivant at 231 East 58th Street Petit Fours and drinks (See reviews on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com).
Bon Vivant’s display
This charming little bakery had the most whimsical little cakes for $3.50 for a small and $6.50 for a large. The cakes come in various flavors but do try the Lavender with its fusion of lavender petals and sweet fondant outside studded with flavors. Its a nice place to eat in and just watch the street traffic go by.
Their delicious Lavender Cake
At the end of the block on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 58th Street is the Bloomberg Building at 731 Lexington Avenue. Designed by architect Cesar Pelli & Associates, the building opened in 2004 to house the Bloomberg Company headed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The building holds the offices and meeting areas for the company as well as the back part of the building which is connected by a seven story courtyard to hold the residences. This impressive building replaced the empty and now defunct Alexander’s Department Store which had closed years earlier.
The impressive Bloomberg Tower dominates the northwest corner of the Turtle Bay neighborhood
As you round Lexington Avenue onto East 57th Street, you will notice the mix of old and new buildings with a collection of old grand hotels and modern office buildings. The street itself is lined with all sorts of businesses catering to the busy Midtown customer. On stand out business is Royal-Athena Galleries at 153 East 57th Street (See my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com), which carries ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek art of museum quality at all prices.
It is part museum and part store. It is like visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and seeing price tags on all the art work. Everything here is authenticated and anything over $5,000 is registered with the Art Loss Registry in London so you know where it comes from. Don’t miss walking through the gallery cases and tables to see all the beautiful items.
Also part of the shopping district is the iconic Hammacher Schlemmer store at 147 East 57th Street, which has been in this location since 1926. The company was founded in New York City as a hardware store for finding hard to find tools in 1848 in the Bowery district downtown. The company was founded by Charles Tollner and R. Stern with Albert Hammacher investing in the company in 1859. William Schlemmer bought out Charles Tollner part of the company in the 1860’s. It stayed in the family until 1953 when it was sold to investors (Company History).
The store is like a playground for adults with all sorts of unusual items on sale like fishing equipment, survival kits, transportation vehicles and clothing and accessories not found in the department stores.
The Hammacher Schlemmer store at 147 East 57th street
Rounding the corner on Second Avenue towards East 56th Street, you will pass the unassuming High School of Art & Design which is closed for the school year except for a few students taking summer classes and their gallery which is still open to the public. I went to see the “Honors Illustration Show” in the John B. Kenny Gallery, which was still opened when I was walking the neighborhood.
The High School of Art & Design
I only got to spend about a half hour viewing the show which dealt in different media forms with the theme of social justice, social media, racism and phobias in modern society. The graduating students created their works in all media aspects including painting and quilts, which I thought was interesting.
The John B. Kenny Gallery at the High School of Art & Design
The Kenny Gallery was named after John B. Kenny who was one of four art teachers that founded the school in 1936. He became principal of the school in 1941. Originally named the School of Industrial Arts, the name was changed to the High School of Art & Design in 1960 when the school moved to its currently location (School History page).
After saying my goodbyes to the security staff for letting me spend time alone in the gallery I turned the corner at Lexington Avenue and walked down East 55th Street towards Second Avenue again. I passed the Central Synagogue, which is the second oldest continuous Synagogue in New York and the oldest in the City. Designed by architect Henry Fernbach between 1870-72, the building was designed in Moorish Revival.
I admired the Central Synagogue on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 55th Street
Walking down the street, I revisited some of the sites I had seen before. On the corner of Third Avenue and East 55th is the original P.J. Clarke’s Restaurant at 915 Third Avenue which was jammed with people for happy hour.
P.J. Clarke’s has been in this location since 1884
This famous restaurant has been in business since 1884 and is named after Patrick J. Clarke who bought it from the original owner after ten years of working there. The restaurant is currently privately owned. When you look at the structure, the building is a holdout wraparound of 919 Third Avenue when the rest of the block was torn down. The building was built around the bar. This makes it really stand out.
Look for the sculpture, ‘Red Flying Group’ in front of 909 Third Avenue by artist Ann Gillen. This unusual sculpture really stands out for it’s bold design. Ms. Gillen was raised in Brooklyn and is a graduate of both Pratt and Columbia University. As an artist, she is noted for her use of Greek theory of matter which uses geometric forms to explain spatial relationships. When she creates a piece, she considers the work’s axis, resistance to gravity, the manner of construction and the color dynamic. This really shows in this particular piece (Wiki and Artist Bio).
The Red Flying Group outside of 909 Third Avenue
Making the next turn onto East 54th Street from Second to Third Avenue on the corner of Third Avenue that stretches from East 54th to East 53rd is the well-known ‘Lipstick Building’. The building was completed in 1986 by John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson and is called the ‘Lipstick Building’ because of the ‘set-backs’ that were required by the zoning laws for use of light. With its oval design and pinkish hue it almost looks like a retracting lipstick. An oval building really stands out among the rest of the glass boxes along Third Avenue (Wiki and Builders history). The building had been featured in the papers recently being the offices of Bernie Madoff and his major Ponzi scheme.
The Lipstick Building that looks like a ‘contracting lipstick’
When crossing back from East 54th to East 53rd by Lexington Avenue again please notice all the turn of the last century architecture in both the office buildings and hotels (See this on Day One Hundred & Thirty Eight Walking the borders and Avenues June 2019). This line of hotels was built to accommodate the railroad patrons coming into New York City from Grand Central Station.
At 599 Lexington Avenue in the lobby of the building at the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 53rd Street, look into the glass lobby and notice the colorful sculpture “Salto nel Mio Sacco” by New York artist Frank Stella. This colorful ad whimsical piece translates to ‘Jump into my Sack’ (Art Nerd).
Salto nel mio sacco’ by Frank Stella
Frank Stella is a New York City artist who had worked in many mediums before being influenced by the abstract artists of the 50’s and 60’s like Jasper Johns. His use of many materials and colors reflex in his art work. This piece which is made in aluminum and colorful paints in a three-dimensional form with all different shapes on top of one another. This bold work was quoted by the artist in saying, “the essential issue is to have a sense of form without it being illustrational, to make things that impress the eyesight and have an impact”. (New York Times McGill 1986).
Walking towards Second Avenue into the heart of Turtle Bay, you will notice a series of excellent restaurants on both side of the street. You will also begin to notice more brownstones and small apartment buildings which gives this part of Turtle Bay its character which is rapidly disappearing. You can wonder amongst the ethnic restaurants and small retail stores tucked into the block.
East 52nd Street offers its charms as well full of brownstones and small apartment buildings. The Consulate of Hungary takes up a large portion between Second and Third Avenues and tall office buildings line the Avenue.
Look up and notice the detailed stone work of 240 East 52nd Street with its carved windows and stone faces staring at you from every direction as you pass by. The building was built in 1900 and is considered an “Old Law Tenement” which means that it is built in a dumbbell shape to let in natural light and fresh air.
240 East 52nd Street in Turtle Bay
At the end of the block as you walk down Lexington Avenue to East 51st Street is the famous subway grates that were featured in the 1955 movie, “The Seven Year Itch” with Marilyn Monroe. The famous scene was shot here at night and took 14 times to film to get it right.
The grates today that I walked on top of and did not know.
The famous 1955 scene in the movie
When walking down East 51st Street from Lexington Avenue you will notice more hotels popping up not just on the Avenue but on the side streets as well being refigured into older buildings. I revisited the old RCA Headquarters at 570 Lexington Avenue which was designed by architects Cross & Cross in the Gothic style. You really have to look up and around the building to see the details in it. Try to look at the building from a distance to see its sculpture work and admire the ‘GE’ clock outside the entrance.
570 Lexington Avenue designed in the Gothic Style
One place that I found and is such a nice place to just sit and relax is the Greenacre Park at 217 East 51st Street. This wonderful little park is situated between two buildings and has nice shade trees and benches to relax on and go down the stairs and you will come to a waterfall and streams on the side where the water replenishes itself.
Greenacre Park was built between 1970 and 1971 by Abby Rockefeller Mauze, who founded the Greenacre Foundation in 1971 who still maintains the park. The park was designed by architect Hideo Sasaki and Harmon Goldstone. The park is privately owned but open to the public (Greenacre Foundation).
The park is composed of three levels. The lowest level has a 25 foot waterfall composed of huge sculptured granite blocks with the east wall trickling down its face to form a brook along the sidewalk. The central level is landscaped with locust trees and small chairs and tables and then there is a raised terrace which has a trellis roof to protect park goers and there is a small snack shop, Carol’s Cafe, (See review on TripAdvisor) offering a variety of refreshments (Greenacre Foundation).
I ate at Carol’s Cafe one afternoon when visiting the neighborhood and the food is very good. I had a cheeseburger ($8.95) that was loaded with fresh veggies and one of the coldest cans of Coke ($1.00) I had in a long time. It was fun to eat at one of the tables and just relax (Beware though and check your bill. These people can Bait and Switch on posting their prices).
Carol’s Cafe offers delicious food at reasonable prices but check your bill!
Across the street from the park is another really nice and very reasonable restaurant, The Pho 6 at 222 East 51st Street (See review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). It is a Vietnamese restaurant offering some of the simplest and freshest food since my trip to Vietnam back in 2016.
The Pho 6 for very reasonable Vietnamese food
The room is done all in woods and the walls, tables and chairs are all made of the same material which makes for interesting decor. The food is delicious. I had an order of Pork Spring Rolls ($6.00) which were crisp and full of ground pork and fresh veggies and Vermicelli Noodles with grilled Shrimp ($10.00) which was studded with fresh shrimp and topped with assorted greens. The whole meal was wonderful and very reasonable for what I ate.
The delicious Pork Spring Rolls at The Pho 6
After lunch, I continued to walk down East 51st Street to round Lexington Avenue again to East 50th Street and look at the details and renovations of the old hotels lining this part of the Avenue. The Waldorf-Astoria which sits between East 50th and 49th Streets is currently going though a major renovation to make it part hotel and part condo.
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
The Waldorf-Astoria at 301 Park Avenue was opened in 1931 replacing the original hotel where the Empire State Building now sits. The hotel was designed in Art Deco design by architects Schultz & Weaver. The hotel when finished will contain 350 condos and 350 hotel rooms with most of the public rooms reopened. It will be interesting to see the results.
The Benjamin Hotel at 125 East 50th Street sits across from the Waldorf-Astoria and recently went through a major renovation and is open for business. The former Hotel Beverly was built between 1926-27 by architect Emery Roth and was designed in Romanesque Motif with pelican and owl sculptures around it. The hotel currently was named after Benjamin J. Denihan Sr., who is the new owner of the hotel (New York Landmarks).
The Hotel Benjamin
The rest of East 50th Street is dotted with mom and pop businesses, pre-war apartment buildings and Consulates being so close to the United Nations. Here and there their are still brownstones letting you know that Turtle Bay is exists along side the commercial district.
East 49th Street is graced by The Barclay InterContinental Hotel which sits at the entrance of the neighborhood at 111 East 48th Street. The hotel stretches from East 49th to East 48th Streets. Designed by architects Cross & Cross in 1926 in the neo-Federal Colonial Style the hotel was part of Terminal City as part of the Grand Central complex and had been owned by the Vanderbilt family (Wiki).
The InterContinental Barclay Hotel
Walking down East 49th Street to Third Avenue you will see the historic Smith & Wollensky Restaurant at 797 Third Avenue which has been serving the neighborhood since 1897 when it was called Manny Wolf’s Steakhouse. The restaurant was opened by Allan Stillman, the founder of T.G.I. Friday’s in 1977 and who still owns the original restaurant (the rest of the chain is privately owned). Known for their USDA Grade A Prime Meats, the restaurant is still a popular neighborhood institution (Company History and Wiki).
This building like the rest of the neighborhood has seen the change in times as it too is surrounded by a glass skyscraper.
On the corner of East 48th Street and Third Avenue it is easy to miss the sculpture ‘Etazin’ by artist Katherine Werner sitting in front of an office building.
‘Etazin’ by artist Katherine Werner
Ms. Werner is a Manhattan based fine artist who studied at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. She has created what is called ‘interactive art’ with the ‘Etazin’ an outdoor lounge chair. She was quoted by saying she was creating “large pieces that were both beautiful and useful.” (JustLux 2017)
Further down the street is lined with brownstones which is the back part of the Turtle Bay Gardens that line East 48th Street. The lovely stretch of brownstones is residential and also houses more Consulates. Many of these historic homes were built in the 1860’s.
When you double back to Third Avenue look up at 780 Third Avenue to the murals by Brazilian graffiti artist, Eduardo Korba, who has three murals in the neighborhood. The one on the right side of the building on East 49th Street is of an exhausted fire fighter who fought bravely on 9/11. The 343 represents the number of fire fighters killed that day and pays honor to them.
The 9/11 Tribute to Fallen Fire Fighters by Eduardo Korba on the East 49th Street side of the building
On the other side of the building is another mural by Mr. Korba “Genius is to Bike Ride”, which is a commentary of the new bike lanes in New York City. Mr. Korba is weighing in on the debate of adding bicycle lanes on New York streets to relieve traffic. The mural is of Albert Einstein riding a bicycle. Einstein was rumored to have come up with some of his best ideas while riding a bicycle (780 Third Avenue building history).
“Genius is to Bike Ride” by Eduardo Korba on the East 48th Street side of the building
As I finished that afternoon at East 48th Street, I walked past these murals again taking a good glance of the vibrant colors, the detail work and the message each was trying to tell of the City. Mr. Korba knows how to tell a story in his paintings.
I finished walking down East 49th Street and stopped abruptly to see the building at 225-227 East 49th Street. It looked like a creepy old fraternity house. It was built in 1900 as a Converted Dwelling/Rooming House and now contains apartments. Look at the writing carved in the doorway from 1926 and unusual coat of arms that greets you at the doorway with the words “Erected in the Dear (or could be door) 1926”, what ever that means carved over the entrance-way. It looks more like ‘enter if you dare’.
225-227 East 49th Street
I completed the top part of the neighborhood by walking part the Turtle Bay Garden Historic District homes again, looking at these historic brownstones that were built in the 1860’s and how luck they were saved by Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan in the 1920’s. She bought these twelve historic homes, renovated them to modern feel and restored them to their former glory combining the homes with the brownstones on East 49th Street so that they all looked out on a common garden. Don’t miss admiring the work that was done on them and that the owners still continue into today.
The Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District on East 48th Street between Second and Third Avenues
At 237 East 48th Street at the Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District there is a plaque to Dorothy Thompson, a journalist who lived in the home from 1941-1957. Her novel “I saw Hitler” and her column ‘One the Record’ were influential in calling for the intervention of America into World War II. She was one of the first female foreign corespondents in the 1930’s and had been expelled from Germany right before the war.
Dorothy Thompson, Turtle Bay resident, journalist and foreign corespondent
Also near the brownstones is a modern home by William Lescaze at 211 East 48th Street, the Father of the Modernist Movement and the designer and builder of this historic home that served as his living quarters and studio. It may not seem that radical today but it was when it was designed in 1934.
The William Lescaze House at 211 East 48th Street
I finished my first day of walking the streets of the upper part of the neighborhood and I was exhausted by the heat. The weather had gotten to me. Turtle Bay has a lot to do and see. Here and there is tucked another gem that you can only see by walking around the neighborhood.
I came back to explore the streets of Turtle Bay after a long day in the Soup Kitchen. They had me working in the prep kitchen making salads and cutting vegetables for the next day’s service so I was tired when I arrived in the neighborhood. It was a little cooler then the first day around 80 degrees so it was more pleasant to walk around and take my time.
I started with lunch at Lin’s Gourmet Chinese Restaurant at 1097 Second Avenue by 57th Street (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). This was my second time at the restaurant having lunch and I highly recommend it. I order the Shredded Beef with Hot Spicy Sauce with pork fried rice and hot & sour soup ($8.25). The food was excellent and perfect on a hot day as it seemed to cool me down.
The beef was cut in very thin slices like the accompanying vegetables and was cooked with hot chilies to give it some bite. The dish was studded with shredded carrots and celery so it was a nice combination of flavors. They did not skip on the beef and it was a generous portion. The hot & sour soup also had its share of chilies and the whole meal woke me up and I was ready to walk again.
After lunch, I started my day walking down First Avenue to East 47th Street and started by taking a break in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, which I had read was the comprise of the grand entrance to the United Nations complex. This popular park is full of nice shade trees, benches, a small restaurant and the Katharine Hepburn Garden.
The park and many of the surrounding buildings to the park were named after Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjold who was born in 1905 to the former Prime Minister of Sweden in World War One, Hjalmar Hammarskjold. Mr. Hammarskjold had served many government and educational positions over the years in Sweden until 1953 when he was asked to serve as Secretary-General of the United Nations. His work in Middle East Peace talks, involvement in the Suez Canal dispute and work in operations in the Republic of Congo earned him a reputation in the United Nations. He died in a plane crash near Norther Rhodesia in 1961 and was post humorously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961 (NYCParks.org).
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza has been part of the NYC Parks system since the land was acquired in 1948 and was renamed for him in 1961. In 1997, the park had a major reconstruction which created a symmetrical layout from north to south. The same year the Katharine Hepburn Garden was created on the south side of the park. The Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza was formed to raise funds for the park, organize events and keep the place clean (NYCParks.org).
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in Turtle Bay
The Katharine Hepburn Garden which is inside of the park is a quiet oasis from the hustle of the city. Ms. Hepburn, one of most accomplished American actors, moved to Turtle Bay in 1932 with her then husband, Ludlow Ogden Smith, had joined the Turtle Bay Association in 1957 and was instrumental in keeping construction from encroaching into the neighborhood. In 1997, the community got together and dedicated this garden in her honor for the work she did in the neighborhood and for her love of gardening and flowers. It is so peaceful to walk along this path and just look at the plantings.
Katharine Hepburn Garden
Across the street from Dag Hammarskjold Plaza is the Japan Society at 337 East 48th Street. It was founded in 1907 to promote friendly relationships with the United States and over the years has promoted Japanese art and culture, held lectures and hosted Japanese dignitaries and royalty. During the strained times of World War II, the Society did not take sides politically and closed for time. In 1971, under the direction of then President John D. Rockefeller III the organization grew and a new building was opened, the Japan House, designed by architect Junzo Yushimura. It became the first building in New York of Japanese contemporary design. It now hosts many exhibitions and social functions. When I was visiting the neighborhood, they were promoting their film festival which I attended. That was a lot of fun.
I saw four excellent films including the release of the musical “Dance with Me” which was a light weight and fun musical. The director knew what he was doing when he wanted to create escapism from the troubles outside. I can’t wait for the Society to open their Fall exhibition.
Watch ‘Dance with Me’ the opening film to the Film Festival
At the end of the block right on the island on First Avenue in front of the United Nations Building is the monument to Raoul Wallenberg. You could almost miss them (I did twice looking for them) but they stand like so many black pillars in a row at 300-386 East 47th Street.
The Raoul Wallenberg Monument
Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish citizen who was educated in the United States in the 1930’s and when he returned to Europe was recruited by the U. S. Refugee Board to go to Hungary to save as many Hungarian Jews as possible. His and his colleagues efforts help save over 100,000 Jewish citizens by issuing protection from the Swedish Government. His own ending was more tragic in that when the Soviets entered Budapest he disappeared (Wiki).
Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish Diplomat
The monument by designers Gustav and Ulla Kraitz are made of Swedish black disbase and bronze and were dedicated in 1998. Take time to look at the inscriptions on each of the five pillars. Gustav Kraitz is from Hugary and studied at the Art Academy in Budapest when the war broke out. He fled to Sweden in 1956 after the invasion of Hugary and stayed on as a visiting professor. There he met his wife, Ulla and they continue their art work together and apart.
Artists Gastov and Ulla Karitz
A store that stood out when walking past it was the Gabrielle Carlson Studio at 501 Lexington Avenue near East 47th Street. The clothes in the window really stand out for the vibrant and almost jewel like colors in deep greens, red and purples. The side tables are lined with custom ‘Made in New York’ jewelry. If you are lucky to meet Ms. Carlson like I did she can give you advice and help dress you for the office or a nice evening out on the town.
A satisfied customer outside Gabrielle Carlson Studio
As I walked down East 46th Street I passed Sparks Steakhouse at 210 East 46th Street. Well known for their food and service it was also the spot of the assassination of ‘Big” Paul Castellano, the Boss of the Gambino Crime Family in December 1985. This ‘hit’ took place right outside the restaurant and the gunmen fled down Second Avenue. This still casts a shadow on an excellent restaurant for those of us who remember the incident.
Sparks Steak House
Right down the road there is a group of buildings, the Blue Buildings at 222 East 46th Street that house offices and art galleries. They just stand out for being brownstones painted blue.
The Blue Buildings at 222 East 46th Street
Artwork seems like it is all over this neighborhood especially when I crossed onto East 45th Street and was greeted by the painting “Youth Employment” tucked into the side of the building by artist Cenzano.
Youth Employment by Cenz
When walking in the other direction on East 44th Street I saw the painting by artist Faith XLVII , “Gender Equality”.
‘Gender Equality’ by Faith XLVII
These paintings that were created so close to the United Nations to promote programs such as youth employment, child labor laws, green jobs, gender equality at work and forced labor (Brooklyn Street Art).
Faith XLVII is an international artist who is based in Los Angeles. Through her works she attempts to disarm the strategies of global realpolitik in order to advance the expression of personal truth. In this way her work is both an internal and spiritual release that speaks to the complexities of human condition its deviant histories and existential search (Artist Bio).
I passed ‘Zuma’ again in front of the Nigerian Consulate created by artist Billy Omebegho and have to say it does pack a punch.
Zuma outside the Consulate of Nigeria
I finished my walk at the James P. Grant Plaza at East 44th Street and First Avenue. I needed a rest from all the walking and from the heat. The cool waterfalls and chairs to relax in.
James P. Grant Plaza
This little pocket park adjoins the UNICEF Building and was dedicated to former Director of UNICEF, James P. Grant who worked tirelessly to combat preventable childhood illness and a ‘childhood survival and development revolution’ (NYCPark.org).
James P. Grant visionary
By the time I got to East 44th Street I was exhausted . The summer heat was getting to me and I had to rewalk the neighborhood several times to go back to things I wanted to see for a second time. Turtle Bay offers so many wonderful things to see if you look up and around. They are tucked here and there, in corners of parks, on the sides of buildings, in front of you on the sidewalk or if you just look up at the structure of the that building that you have passed a hundred times.
The street art alone makes Turtle Bay its own open air museum and it is nice to see so many perspectives on life from so many artists of all ages ranging from the traditional to the contemporary that I have learned a lot from them. Walking around this neighborhood is not just enjoyable but entertaining but educational as well. The United Nations has done its job here bringing together so many visionaries into the neighborhood.
For more information on my walk in the Turtle Bay neighborhood, please read my entry in ‘MywalkinManhattan.com-Day One Hundred and Thirty-Eight: Walking the Borders of Turtle Bay
The Street Art Work and Architectural Buildings are too numerous to name but I gave the best directions to see everything. Like I said, Turtle Bay is an open air museum with loads of public art to see. Just look up and you won’t miss anything.
I can’t believe it is my forth anniversary of my blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”. What started out as just a simple walk through the entire Island of Manhattan has morphed into visits to the outer boroughs and to outside the City. There is countless restaurant reviews, museum visits, visits to parks and historical parks and window shopping in stores all around the Tri-State area.
These additional views of the City have inspired the extension blogs to this site, “VisitingaMuseum.com”, “LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com” and “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com” to showcase more wonderful things to do, places to see and places to eat in New York City. What started out as a small site has now morphed into a blog that explores all the wonderful things to do and see in neighborhoods all over the City.
The best part of this experience is that I thank all the input that my students have given me on the sites and all the comments that have made it more enjoyable to the reader from adding in TripAdvisor reviews to contributing pictures and videos of the areas discussed. I want to thank them for their ideas and suggestions.
Today I entered the Turtle Bay neighborhood which is located next to Sutton and Beekman Place in the neighborhood that surrounds the United Nations located next to the East River. Over the last twenty years the borders of the neighborhood have become blurred with Midtown with much of Second, Third and Lexington Avenues giving way to large apartment and office complexes. There are still pockets of brownstones with local businesses dotted on the Avenues and side streets but they are becoming few and far between.
Turtle Bay has an interesting history as part of Manhattan. ‘Turtle Bay’ was originally a cove in the East River that was shaped like a knife which the Dutch gave the name “deutal” for knife. The cove was filled in after the Civil War. The neighborhood was originally a forty acre farm named “Turtle Bay Farm” that extended from what is now East 43rd to East 48th Street and from Third Avenue to the East River. When the street grid system was put into place after the Civil War, the hilly cove and surrounding areas was graded and filled in and subdivided for development (Wiki).
Turtle Bay in the early 1800’s
The neighborhood changed dramatically after the Civil War until the turn of the last century when the center of the neighborhood became a brownstone section and the river portion of the area became home to manufacturing with breweries, power plants and laundries and tenement homes to house the workers. The overhead elevated trains on Second and Third Avenues added to the decline of the neighborhood (Wiki).
The rowhouses of ‘Turtle Bay Gardens’ were saved by resident, Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan. She bought eleven of the brownstone homes and had them renovated with stucco fronts and a common garden in the back. These have been lived in by celebrities such as actresses Ruth Gordon, June Havoc and Katharine Hepburn. It was named a historic district in 1966 (Wiki).
Turtle Bay Historic District
The 2,800 unit Tudor City was built between 1927 to 1932 replacing the dangerous shanty town of ‘Prospect Hill’ where Irish gangs ruled and the neighborhood and the rest of the neighborhood was leveled between 1948 and 1952 for the United Nations Headquarters. When the elevated trains were torn down by 1956, it opened the neighborhood to new construction of high rises and apartment buildings (Wiki).
I started the walk at my favorite neighborhood starting point, 24 Sycamores Park on First Avenue and 60th Street, where I mapped out the walk. With schools letting out for the summer, the park was mobbed with kids with their nannies and baby sitters. It was nice to relax after a long day at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. They kept me busy on the hot line and we served over 800 lunches that afternoon, so I was tired. It is fun to just sit back on the benches under the trees and watch the kids chase one another and the pigeons.
24 Sycamores Park
Since my walk of Sutton Place, East 59th’s empty store fronts are starting to fill up with new businesses again. A lot of the windows are covered with brown paper so it looks like more businesses are coming to the neighborhood. This is how the City keeps changing . I had covered all of Second Avenue to 48th Street in my blog of Sutton Place and since technically the neighborhood does not start until East 53rd Street, I started the walk East 58th Street between Second and Lexington Avenue and then walked down Lexington Avenue to East 43rd Street and then to the United Nations by the river (I will include East 58th Street to East 54th from Second to Lexington Avenues in my Turtle Bay walks).
I started the afternoon with lunch at Lin’s Gourmet Chinese Restaurant at 1097 Second Avenue (See the reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). They have the most amazing lunch specials for between $8.00-$8.50. I had the Beef with Broccoli with a side of pork fried rice and an eggroll ($8.25). The quality of the food is excellent as the beef was tender and well-seasoned with a combination of Hunan and soy sauce and the broccoli was perfectly cooked, a rarity in many of these take out places. The service is really friendly too. After lunch, it was off to walk the borders and Avenues of the neighborhood.
Lexington Avenue from East 58th to East 43rd Street is pretty much a commercial district. The left side of the road is lined with famous hotels and luxury apartments. Sharing this edge with Midtown East Manhattan, this area of the neighborhood is geared towards the business world and just keeps developing. I can see more newer buildings replacing the older ones in the future. Most of the hotels have been renovated in the past decade to reflex the increase of tourists into the City.
When crossing East 58th Street from Second to Lexington Avenue, I came across a gem of bakery, ‘Bon Vivant’ at 251 East 58th Street between Second and Third Avenues (See my review on TripAdvisor and LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). This elegant little store sells the most delicious Petit fours, pastries and beverages in an elegant atmosphere. I just walked in to see what it was like and I ended up eating a large Lavender Petit Four ($6.00), that was light and sweet with just a hint of the lavender leaves in the filling. It’s a unique little store where the desserts are displayed like a work of art.
Bon Vivant for pastries
Having some energy from the dessert, I continued the walk over the next block to Lexington Avenue. Lexington Avenue is the border of the neighborhood and is more commercial than residential. The Avenue is lined with hotels and office buildings and home to some of the oldest and well-known hotels in Midtown.
On the corner of Lexington Avenue between East 59th and 58th Streets is the Bloomberg Tower at 731 Lexington Avenue, one of the first buildings merging the borders of Turtle Bay with Midtown East. This massive 55 story building of glass and steel was built in 2001 for the Bloomberg L.P., the home of the Bloomberg empire including the offices for the main company and Bloomberg news. The building was designed by reknown architect, Cesar Pelli & Associates and developed by Vornado Realty Trust. The back part of the building is called One Beacon Court and is home to condos and retail businesses and have their own private entrance. This building replaced the closed but once popular Alexander’s Department Store. Security is really tight around here and the police will watch you (Wiki).
The Bloomberg Tower ushering in a new look modern look for the neighborhood
Historical buildings especially around Lexington Avenue still prevail. One of the first buildings to really pop out at me on Lexington Avenue was the Central Synagogue at 652 Lexington Avenue on the corner of 55th Street. Designed by prominent architect Henry Fernbach, the synagogue was built between 1870 and 1872 is the oldest continuing synagogue in New York City and the second oldest in New York State. The building is one of the oldest synagogues in the country. The outside of the building was designed in Moorish Revival while the inside exterior is in a Gothic design. The Synagogue practices the Reformed Jewish faith (Wiki).
Another beautiful building is on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 51st Street, the former RCA Victor Building now known as the General Electric Building. It was designed and built by architect John Cross of Cross & Cross in 1931. The 50 story building was designed in the Gothic style and you really have to look at the details in the structure with the elaborate masonry and architectural figural sculpture all over the building (Wiki).
570 Lexington Avenue
The building is decorated with lightening bolts and hands with blots in their hands to represent the growth of lightening and electricity. The edges of the building are decorated with figures representing energy and the dome of the building represents ‘Gothic tracery’, representing electricity and radio waves and lit from within at night. There is even a clock with the ‘GE’ logo on it on the side of the building (Wiki).
Look at the detail work of 570 Lexington Avenue
The Gothic Tracery tower of 570 Lexington Avenue
Lexington Avenue has many such historical buildings up and down the Avenue especially with hotels that dot both sides of the street. Since I started this part of the walk on June 21st, the first day of the Summer (The Summer Equinox) and the longest day of the year, there were concerts everywhere in Midtown. I stopped at 570 Lexington Avenue where they have a courtyard on the side of the building near the subway entrance.
The building was hosting part of a concert series that afternoon for people walking by while the Godiva Chocolate store in the courtyard was handing out ice cream samples to hot patrons. It was enjoyable to just relax and listen to the combo while eating that sweet, rich ice cream.
When walking down the remainder of Lexington Avenue, the street is dotted with famous hotels down to East 42nd Street. This was part of the 1916 rezoning of this part of the City when Grand Central Terminal opened to rail traffic and the City needed luxury hotels to cater to the Upper Class customers who used the rail service. Some of the oldest and most famous hotels in New York line Lexington Avenue.
Across the street from 570 Lexington Avenue is the historic 30 story Hotel Benjamin at 125 East 50th Street. The Benjamin was the former Hotel Beverly and after a massive renovation in the late 90’s was renamed after the new owners founder, Benjamin J Denihan Sr. Built in 1926-27 by building developer Moses Ginsberg and designed by architect Emery Roth, the hotel was marketed for ‘sophisticated New Yorkers at a moderate rate’. The hotel is richly decorated in a Romanesque motif and incorporates pelican and owl sculptures and warrior head corbels (NYC Landmarks Preservation).
The Benjamin Hotel
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 301 Park Avenue between 50th and 49th Streets is currently closed and going under a massive renovation to condos. This block long hotel’s back faces Lexington Avenue. The hotel is converting from 1413 hotel rooms to 350 condos and a 350 room hotel when it is complete.
The hotel was designed by architects Schultz & Weaver and was designed in the Art Deco design which was popular when the hotel opened in 1931. The original hotel was demolished for the building of the Empire State Building. The hotel has been home to many famous restaurants and was considered the ‘jewel’ of the Hilton Hotel empire. Countless society events and celebrity visits too extensive to name have taken place in this hotel. It will be a wait and see when it reopens in 2021.
The InterContinental Barclay Hotel at 111 East 48th Street stretches back to East 49th Street.
The InterContinental Barclay was designed by architects Cross & Cross in 1926 in the neo-Federal American Colonial style. The thirteen story hotel was part of the concept called ‘Terminal City’ which was part of the New York Central and Terminal Corporation owned by the Vanderbilt family and contains 702 rooms. The hotel still hosts Society and corporate events.
The Hotel Roger Smith is a family run hotel that was originally called the Hotel Winthrop and gets its current name when it was part the Roger Smith Hotel Chain in the 1930’s. The hotel was designed by architects Hearn & Erich in 1926 and is made of brick with a clean look.
The Hotel Roger Smith
The Hotel Lexington opened in 1929 one of the last hotels of the building boom on Lexington Avenue. Designed by architects Schultz & Weaver who designed the Waldorf-Astoria, the Hotel Lexington was the promise of General J. Leslie Kincaid, who was President of the American Hotel Company of ‘a modern hotel with a refined atmosphere and with exceptional service without the hassles of a large hotel.” The hotel has Normanesque terracotta decorations that adorn the outside of the hotel (Wiki).
Toward the edge of the neighborhood at East 45th and Lexington Avenue is the Grand Central Post Office Annex that was built between 1903 and 1914 under the direction of the New York Central Railroad. Architect firms of Warren & Wetmore with the collaboration with architectural firm Reed & Stern designed this annex to provide railroad related office space, shops and a network of underground tracks and tunnels.
Grand Central Postal Annex
As you round Lexington Avenue to East 43rd Street to the edge of Turtle Bay, you will enter the lobby of the Chrysler Building. The Chrysler Building has a very interesting history in Manhattan as the once ‘tallest building in the world’ opening one day before the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
The building was the brain child of former New York Senator William H. Reynolds, who had a goal to build the ‘World’s Tallest Building’. He hired famed architect William Van Alen to design the building which in the late 1920’s was an Art Deco design which represented the progress, innovation and modernity of the time. By the time Reynold’s sold the property to Walter Chrysler in 1928, Van Alen and his former partner at the architectural firm they once worked at, H. Craig Severance were in a race to build the World’s Tallest Building (Wiki & Chrysler Building history).
The “Race into the Sky” began between the Chrysler Building being designed by Van Alen and 40 Wall Street being designed by Severance. They kept added floors trying to top one another and in the process build their buildings higher than the Woolworth Building then the tallest in the world. 40 Wall Street was raised to 925 feet when it opened making it the tallest building until Van Alen secretly assembled a 125 spiral for the top of the building and in October of 1929, the spiral was raised and riveted in pieces on the top of the building making it 1046 feet. It would stand the tallest in the world until the Empire State Building was finished a few years later in 1931. The Chrysler Building was the still the World’s Tallest Steel Frame Building, with a steel frame surrounded by masonry (Wiki).
Still the outside of the building is studded with gargoyles for five floors and there were hubcaps and fenders at the 31st floor and eagles on the 61st floor. Because of the 1916 Zoning, there are setbacks on various floors of the building (Wiki). The inside of the lobby is just as impressive.
On the ceiling of the triangular shaped lobby is the mural “Transport and Human Endeavor” by artist Edward Trumball, which was painted in 1930. It represents the ‘energy and man’s application of it to the solutions of his problems’. Look to the detail work to see all the figures that the artist was trying to portray (Wiki).
The lobby of the Chrysler Building should not be missed
After the small tour of the Chrysler Building I proceeded out the door down East 43rd Street towards the United Nations Building. West 43rd Street is an interesting block. By Second Avenue, you will begin to see the transition from the once ‘brownstone’ neighborhood on the corner of Second Avenue and 43rd Street to the more modern ‘glass boxes’ that now dominate the neighborhood. Here you can see how Midtown East is creeping into this once residential neighborhood.
The buildings on both sides of the street are almost a juxtapose of styles and uses until you get toward the end of the block and you are in front of the Ford Foundation Building at 320 East 43rd Street. This impressive building was built between 1963-67 and houses the Ford Foundation. It was designed by architect Kevin Roche and engineer partner John Dinkeloo who are credited for creating the first indoor tree-filled atriums in New York, which set the tone for these public spaces in modern buildings (Wiki).
The Ford Foundation Atrium
What is interesting about he design of this building is that it is a perfect glass block from the outside but a created L-Shaped design on the inside because of the atrium garden. The large windows let the sunlight in so that you can walked this tiered garden on several levels. The only problem is that there is no place to sit down in the garden and just look at it.
Just off of the main lobby is the small Ford Foundation Gallery that is also open to the public. This was a real treat in that it really gave an interesting look at ‘controversial art’. As said by gallery director, Lisa Kim, “Guided by inclusion, collaboration and urgency that are under representing in traditional art spaces. In doing so, our hope is for the Ford Foundation to be a responsive and adapted space, the one that serves the public in its openness to experimentation, contemplation and conversation.” (Ford Foundation Gallery website).
The Gallery is currently showing “Radical Love” an exhibition on art from different cultures that is sending a message of love and acceptance in society. The show’s theme is “offering love as the answer to a world in peril” and shows different artists around the world trying to portray a social median to the problems of hate and prejudice (Ford Foundation Gallery Site).
Ford Foundation Gallery “Radical Love”
After finishing up at the Ford Foundation Gallery, I toured the indoor atrium one more time walking all the tiers of the gardens and not believing that I had never seen this all before. It is really a beautiful building that you all need time out to explore.
I walked to the end of the block only to discover Tudor City with its beautiful Gothic architecture and well landscaped grounds. Tudor City is one of the first planned middle-class housing ‘skyscraper’ complexes in New York City. Built in 1926, the complex was called Tudor City due to the Tudor Revival architecture of the complex. The complex starts right behind the Ford Foundation Building and extends between East 43rd to East 40th Street on a small cliff that overlooks First Avenue, the U.N. Complex and the tip of Roosevelt Island (Wiki).
Tudor City between East 43rd to 40th Streets overlooking First Avenue
The complex was designed by the team lead by architect H. Douglas Ives for the Fred F. French Company, developers of modern apartment complexes and was the brainchild of Leonard Gans and Paine Edson, who bought up what had been derelict housing and manufacturing businesses. The complex did expand into the 1930’s and now contains 13 buildings and two parks that the buildings face in a ‘U’ pattern (Wiki).
You really have to look up at the buildings to see the great detail that was designed to give them that Gothic look. When Mr. Ives team designed the buildings, there was an array of towers, gables, turrets, bay windows, four centered arches and chimney stacks amongst the detail work with cast iron and terracotta details. You have to walk the entire complex and really look to the detail work which is quite amazing (Wiki and my own observations).
What was really nice was the small parks that line the inside of the ‘U’ shaped courtyard of the buildings. These two parks are now run by Tudor City Greens Inc., which has run the parks since 1987 and cares for the landscaping and maintenance. They do a wonderful job caring for the parks which when I walked through were being replanted and watered and full of people either reading books or having group discussions.
Tudor City gardens
While walking through the building complex, I came across Azalea & Oak at 5 Tudor Place, a little boutique specializing in women’s accessories and children’s dress-up clothes and toys (see my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com). This unique little store has one of the nicest selections of children’s dress items, accessories and handmade toys that I have seen in the City.
Azalea & Oak at 5 Tudor Place
The salesperson told me the owner was formerly from Saks Fifth Avenue and you could see it in the detail of the store design and the quality of the merchandise. Don’t miss their selection of stuffed animals and handmade crowns and masks. This will be much to the delight of the younger set of customers. The owner also designs her own jewelry so there are unusual pieces to see.
The Stuffed toys at Azalea and Oak at 5 Tudor Place
I rounded 43rd Street and came back to visit Ralph Bunche Park that is at the end of East 43rd Street. It is not much a park as most of it is under scaffolding for renovations of Tudor City. The park is named in 1979 after Ralph Bunche was the first African-American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Bunche was a diplomat, scientist and academic who won the award in 1950 for work on mediation with Israel.
Diplomat Ralph Bunche who the park is named after
As you are walking down the granite stairs to First Avenue, notice the quote from Isiah 2:4 carved into the wall “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spires into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” The stairs, now called the ‘Sharnasky Steps, named after dissident Nathan Sharansky, were built and dedicated during the construction of the U.N. In front of the stairs is a 50 foot steel obelisk by artist Daniel LaRue Johnson, entitled “Peace Form One” that was created in 1980 (Wiki).
Mr. Johnson has studied at Chouinard and in Paris and was part of the African-American artist movement in Los Angeles that dealt with the social and political changes in the mid-Twentieth century. He had also known Mr. Bunche as well (Artist Bio).
The Sharansky Steps with the Wall of Isiah
Once down the steps, you will find yourself in front of the United Nations Building that sits on the East River and is very impressive.
The United Nations Building complex is under ‘lock and key’ and don’t bother trying to walk around the grounds. Everything is behind a fence with tons of security surrounding all sides of the building. The complex is about 18 acres that line the East River from East 42nd and East 48th Streets.
The complex was designed by architect Wallace Harrison for the firm of Harrison & Abramovitz and was completed in 1952. The whole area was cleared of manufacturing and the complex replaced blight in the neighborhood with a brand new building and parks. The Rockefeller family was one of the biggest cheerleaders for the site and Nelson Rockefeller helped purchase the land for the site (Wiki).
The building is built in a long horizontal block that houses the meeting rooms and a tall tower in the center for the Secretariat. The building is surrounded by pathways and lawn to give the building the impression of power and with the flags of the nations surrounding it, an international flair. Still walking up United Nations Plaza back up to East 48th Street to where I stopped at the edge of Sutton East, there is armed security all over the place and its best to blend into the crowds.
The United Nations Building which covers the edges of Turtle Bay with the East River
I continued the walk up United Nations Plaza up to East 48th Street and walked down the block towards Third Avenue. Once you round First Avenue, you will see less security in front of the buildings when you go back into the neighborhood.
East 48th Street is a beautiful block of old brownstones and apartment buildings and has a real neighborhood feel to it. I have discovered that the blocks above East 50th Street once you past Second Avenue are becoming more commercial with lots of large apartment and office buildings. It feels more like Midtown and once you get below East 50th Street, it looks more historical and quintessential ‘Old New York’.
I walked up and down the remainder of Second Avenue from East 43rd to East 48th Streets that border the neighborhood with Sutton East. Most of the buildings are glass boxes with commercial businesses on the bottom. There is one stand out on these five blocks in front of the Consulate General of Nigeria at 828 Second Avenue on the corner of East 44th Street and Second Avenue. It is a sculpture called ‘Zuma’ by artist Billy Omebegho.
Zuma by artist Billy Omebegho
Mr. Omebegho is considered one of the foremost modern sculptures in Nigeria and created the work in 1991. Born in Nigeria in 1944, Mr. Omebegho studied art at both Cornell University (fellow Alumnus) and New York University. The work ‘Zuma’ was created in 1991 and is a zig-zag form to symbolizes rebirth and renewal and the snake like pattern represents air, water, heaven and earth (Culture Now). This unique sculpture had some controversy in 2005 when the Consulate was approached about replacing it but it still stands proudly at the entrance.
As I passed along Second Avenue to Third Avenue, I passed a row of brownstones on the right which are the Turtle Bay Gardens houses. These were the homes that were saved, preserved and renovated by Charlotte Hunnewell Sorchan in the 1920. The two rows of ten homes were built in the 1860’s and when they were renovated and updated now share a common garden with the homes on East 49th Street. These graceful brownstones set the tone for the neighborhood (Turtle Bay History).
Turtle Bay Gardens Historic District
As you pass Turtle Bay Gardens, another unique house stands out at 211 East 48th Street, the William Lescaze House. William Lescaze was a Swiss-born New Yorker who was credited with bringing the modernist movement in the United States by building this house in 1934. The four story home served as his personal home and studio (Curbed NY).
William Lescaze House at 211 East 48th Street
As I rounded back down Second Avenue to East 43rd Street and crossed over to Third Avenue to walk from East 43rd to East 59th Streets this is another block in transition. Third Avenue has pretty much been torn down is more like Midtown than Turtle Bay. There are a few holdovers from another era meaning the 60’s and 70’s in the way of restaurants.
Tucked in between all the glass towers that have changed this part of the neighborhood there are some culinary gems that still serve customers as they have for years starting with Smith & Wollensky at 797 Third Avenue.
Smith & Wollensky Restaurant at 797 Third Avenue
Smith & Wollensky is a legendary steakhouse that has been in this location since 1977. What is interesting about this popular restaurant is that the name was taken out of the phone book. The creators of the restaurant, Allan Stillman (of TGI Friday’s fame) and Ben Benson, looked in the phone book to Smith and then Wollensky to get the name.
The restaurant was originally called Manny Wolf’s Steakhouse which had been in business from 1897 until the name change in 1977. It is now owned by the Patina Restaurant Group although the original New York restaurant is still owned by Mr. Stillman. The restaurant is known for its USDA Prime Grade beef which is all butchered in house (Wiki and Smith & Wollensky history). The building like the rest of the neighborhood is surrounded by a glass box skyscraper.
Another well known restaurant on Third Avenue is P.J. Clarke’s at 915 Third Avenue on the corner of Third Avenue and East 55th Street. P. J. Clarke’s was established in 1884 by a Mr. Duneen and Patrick J. Clarke was one of his employees. After ten years of working at the bar, he bought the establishment from Mr. Duneen and renamed it P.J. Clarke’s. The restaurant has been known for its pub food and popular bar scene.
The restaurant like Smith & Wollensky’s is a holdout from the past and is surrounded by a glass office building. 919 Third Avenue was built around the restaurant in the late 60’s and the owners, the Lavezzo brothers had the owners build around their property. In an agreement, they bought the building from the two brothers and knocked the top two floors of the restaurant down. Due to financial difficulties the brothers lost the restaurant and it is now owned by new group of investors (Wiki).
P.J. Clarke’s in comparison to 919 Third Avenue showing the changes on Third Avenue
Third Avenue has it pockets of the old neighborhood here and there but is now firmly establishing itself as part of Midtown with its gleaming office buildings and apartment houses giving the Avenue a modern look.
As I walked back down Third Avenue, some street art caught my attention. Outside the U.S. Post Office at 909 Third Avenue is the sculpture, Red Flying Group by artist Ann Gillen, that adds some life to the building that looks like geometric blocks.
Red Flying Group by artist Ann Gillen outside 909 Third Avenue
Ms. Gillen has been trained in Industrial design at Pratt and got her MFA from Columbia University’s School of Art. She is noted in the use of color and the structure suggests a human body in motion. She uses all sorts of materials in her art noted with metals and stone work. Red Flying Group is based on man’s sense of motion (Wiki).
The other standout on Third Avenue was the mural of the fallen fireman in honor of 9/11. The mural by artist Eduardo Kobra, who based the painting on a photo of fire fighter Mike Bellantoni, who arrived at the scene after the second tower fell. The picture was taken by New York Post photographer Matthew McDermott (NY Post 2018). The painting depicts an exhausted fire fighter on the scene.
Mural outside of 780 Third Avenue
Mr. Kobra was noted in saying of the mural “I was paying homage to the fire fighters who fought bravely that day. The helmet represents the 343 fire fighters lost that day and the colors represent one goal, to pass on the message of life, of a restart and of reconstruction.” (Time Out Magazine).
Mr. Kobra is a Brazilian street artist who has a passion for street art. His use of squares and triangles bring life to his paintings. His use of photorealism and color bring life to his works of art (Wiki).
The one building that does stand out prominently on Third Avenue is on the corner of Third Avenue and 53rd Street, “The Lipstick Building” at 885 Third Avenue. The building was designed by John Burgee Architects with Philip Johnson and was completed in 1986. What stands out about this building is the oval design and color of the building. What makes the building unusual is the ‘set back’ space required by zoning laws and how the building seems to retract ‘as if it retract telescopically’ (Wiki and Architectural firm).
The Lipstick Building
It also has an usual shade of burgundy or dark pink that makes it stand out among the other office buildings in the area. At the base are large columns that act like a ‘post-modern’ entrance to the building and allow pedestrians to walk freer in the space (Wiki and Architectural firm). I just think the building has a unusual beauty to it in that it defies the contemporary design of the more square glass boxes and its shape and color make it stand out in a neighborhood where there is too much of the same design. Buildings like this is what gives the City character.
The columned entrance to the Lipstick Building
As I rounded down Third Avenue to East 43rd Street and headed up Third Avenue again, you can see more changes in the distance in the area around Grand Central Station with new buildings soon to be open on Madison Avenue and along 42nd Street. More construction and more buildings are going up around the station.
As I traveled up Lexington Avenue to East 59th Street, I saw the after-work crowd bring more life to the neighborhood. Between the office buildings and the hotels in the area, the place was loaded with tourists and office workers milling around after a long day and the sidewalks were jammed.
I ended my day rounding East 59th Street and having dinner from Blue and Gold Deli at 1075 First Avenue. I had been in earlier to buy a lottery ticket (did not win so still walking) and noticed their menu and the very reasonable prices. I decided on a Meatball hero ($7.00) with a Coke which I took over to 24 Sycamores Park to eat. It was still light out at 8:00pm and I watched the children playing around in the park with their parents while I ate. The meatball sandwich was loaded with meatballs and a nicely spiced tomato sauce. It was good but not a standout so it warrants another try.
As I ate and watched the night sky get darker, it was fun to watch the world go by and people continue on with their business. I really wonder if they see the same things I do when walking to work or school.