Tag Archives: Justin Watral

Day One Hundred and Fifty Two Walking the Avenues of Central Park South from Sixth to Seventh Avenues from West 59th to West 54th Streets November 8th, 2019

I have never seen such a drop in temperature in one week. It is only a week since Halloween and on Halloween night it was 71 degrees and humid. I had to turn the heat off in the house and turn the air conditioner on one last time before I went to bed. That was unusual but the reason why I keep the air conditioners up until the weekend after Halloween.

Walking the Avenues of Central Park South this afternoon there was a distinct drop in the temperature by the afternoon. It was freezing in the City by 2:30pm. When I came out of the Cornell Club where I was doing all of my work, it must have been around 48 degrees and continued to go down. By the time I finished walking all of the Avenues, it must have been 40 degrees as the sun went down. I could tell by the way everyone was dressed this afternoon that no one was prepared for this.

I started my walk at Hop Won Chinese Restaurant at 139 East 45th Street for lunch (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). The food at the restaurant is always impressive and very reasonable. A combination platter is $9.00 for an nice sized entree, fried rice and an egg roll. On this trip I had the Sweet & Sour Shrimp with fried rice and an egg roll and a Coke ($10.95 with tax) and your could not beat the portion size or quality.

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Hop Won Express serves excellent Chinese-American cooking and is reasonable

They served me eight nice sized tempura shrimp in a light sweet and sour sauce and they were sweet and fresh. Their fried rice is very good, a little light sometimes on the ingredients but still good and the egg rolls here are good. This is why the restaurant is so popular at lunch hour for people in the surrounding office buildings and with tourists.

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The Sweet & Sour Shrimp here should not be missed

After lunch, I walked up Lexington Avenue to East 59th Street and walked across the familiar neighborhoods of Turtle Bay and Midtown East which I had finished walking over the summer. Both are going through extensive changes with renovations and refittings of older buildings and the knock down and total construction of new ones. The Manhattan of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s is slowly becoming a memory as the City morphs into its next step of existence, which seems to be very upscale. The commercial and residential buildings are definitely catering to a certain clientele.

I started my walk on the Avenues of Central Park South at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 59th Street. This section of Manhattan is some of the most expensive real estate in the world and with the changing of the neighborhood and rents skyrocketing, I saw a big change not just in the buildings with their updates and renovations but a change in the businesses as well. Those 1990’s leases are coming up on their twenty year anniversaries and a lot of smaller businesses are being pushed out. If you do not own the building or have a certain lease with the landlord, you might be facing a double or triple increase in rent and its too much for the smaller restaurants and services like drycleaners and shoe repair shops.

Sixth Avenue (or Avenue of the Americans which NO ONE calls it) has seen a lot of changes over the years especially from Central Park all the way down to West 34th Street and it still is changing as we speak. Yet there traces of the old Manhattan that still stand out on the Avenue.

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57 West 58th Street The Coronet, an 11 story brick building

At the corner of West 58th Street is 57 West 58th Street, The Coronet Building, a 11 story condominium building that was built in 1901. The building is built of red brick and limestone and what gives it its unique look is in the detail work of the entrance with its arched entrance and quoins, a type of wedging on an angle, that are made of limestone and detail work around the windows. The Beaux Arts detail work was very fashionable at the time (CityRealty 2018).

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The beauty of the entrance to 57 West 58th Street

Another standout building on Sixth Avenue is one that sits on the corner of 57 West 57th Street. This 20 story Art Deco Building was was built in 1928 of stone and glass and was renovated in 1988 by Der Scutt, the architect behind Trump Tower.

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57 West 57th Street beauty is in the Art Deco details

They restored the facade of the building and redid the lobby . Some the details of the building were gold-leafed for effect (LoopNet).

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The entrance 57 West 57th Street with the fancy grill work

At the edge of the neighborhood is the famous New York Hilton Hotel Midtown at the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 54th Street. This hotel is the largest hotel in New York City and one of the largest in the world. The hotel was designed by architect William B. Tabler. When it opened in 1963 with 2153 rooms it was the largest hotel in the City (Hilton History and Wiki).

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The New York Hilton Midtown

The hotel has a lot to claim to fame. John Lennon wrote “Imagine” in the hotel, the first cell phone was used here in 1973 and President Trump recently gave his victory delivery speech in the hotel in 2016 (Wiki).

When walking back up north on Sixth Avenue at the corner of West 55th Street is artist John Rennert’s sculpture, “Listen” on the spot where the well-known “Love” sculpture used to be.

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Artist Jim Rennert’s “Listen”

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Artist Jim Rennert

Mr. Rennert was born and raised in the Southwest in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. A former businessman, Mr. Rennert later wanted to try his hand in being an artist and a sculptor in 1990 with much success. His works have been shown all over the world with his portrayals of the success and obstacles of the modern working man. His works are formed with a combination of bronze and flat laser steel. “Listen” is one of his public works (Artist Bio).

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“Listen” sits proudly at the corner of West 55th Street & Sixth Avenue

Rounding West 59th Street I continued down Seventh Avenue and was struck by the beauty of a building even under scaffolding. Alwyn Court is one of the most beautiful buildings in this part of Manhattan.

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Alwyn Court at 180 West 58th Street

The Alwyn Court at 180 West 58th Street was built at a time when the wealthy were abandoning the large mansions of Fifth and Madison Avenues and wanted luxury apartments instead (ie Income Tax has been introduced). The building was created between 1907-1909 and was designed by architects Harde & Short in the French Renaissance style with terra cotta ornamentation done in the Francis I style which gives it the unique look.

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Alwyn Court’s terra-cotta ornamentation on the doorway

The beauty is in the detail work of the building and it is going through a second cleaning and repair. It was designated a landmark in 1966 (Wiki).

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They don’t design buildings like Alwyn Court anymore

Further down  Seventh Avenue you come to one of the most famous buildings in the world, Carnegie Hall at 881 Seventh Avenue at the corner of West 57th Street.  One of the most recognized music venues in the world, this building was designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and build by Andrew Carnegie, business owner and philanthropist in 1891. It was one of the last largest buildings in New York City build with masonry and no steel frame (Wiki).

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You can see by the last three years of Christmas blogs that I have written that I have visited Carnegie Hall many times for the holiday concerts. The joke “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice” is so true. The best and most talented perform here.

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The Holiday Concert at Carnegie Hall last Christmas was amazing!

There are more interesting buildings further down Seventh Avenue that are going through a renovation. 850 Seventh Avenue is a elegant detailed eleven story building at the built in 1910 with its stone exterior and its Art Deco features. It is very impressive when you look from the other side of the Avenue.

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850 Seventh Avenue

One sad reminder of the changes in Manhattan comes with 854 Seventh Avenue, the former home of the Carnegie Deli which closed in 2016. This was one of the most famous and iconic eating places in New York City and was in more TV and movies that I can remember. The restaurant was opened by Leo Steiner and Milton Parker in 1937 and the most amazing food including over-sized pastrami sandwiches, Matzo Ball soup and cheesecakes. I had eaten there many times in both high school and college and then when I was working in the City. The building remains empty today as the new owners are waiting to demolish it and build a residential building there (Wiki).

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The famous Carnegie Deli in its heyday at 854 Seventh Avenue

Across the street from the former deli is 853 Seventh Avenue, “The Wyoming” apartment building. What stands out about this beautiful twelve story building built in 1906 is the elegant Beaux-Art style detail work around the windows and roof.

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853 Seventh Avenue at the corner of West 55th Street

Heading back up Seventh Avenue, don’t miss the famous Osborne Apartments at 205 West 57th Street which faces Seventh Avenue. This elegant apartment house was built and designed by James Edward Ware between 1883 and 1885 in the American Renaissance style with masonry bearing walls and the building itself looks like a giant brownstone.

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The Osborne is Victorian elegant at its best at 205 West 57th Street at the corner of Seventh Avenue

Home to the famous, residents have included Leonard Bernstein, the composer, Sylvia Miles, the actress and Ira Levin, the novelist.

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The splendor of The Osborne lobby can not be matched

It was just starting to get dark when I rounded West 59th Street one more time for the last Avenue to walk and Broadway is always interesting. Having walked this main artery during the summer months three times, I gained a respect for the complexity of the businesses and apartment buildings that line it from Inwood to the Bowling Green. This former Indian trail offers a lot of interesting things to see and do.

My first stop was a visit to the new Nordstrom department store at 235 West 57th Street in the heart of the business district. After years of working at Macy’s, I always remember my store manager saying that they never wanted to open in NYC because of the unions. They felt they could never give the service that they were known for by opening in Manhattan. What twenty-five years does to a City!

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Nordstrom Manhattan

I have to admit that the store is pretty and has beautiful merchandise but the staff was either so busy kidding around with each other or on their cell phones, they were not paying attention to the customers too much. The restaurant on the top floor was the busiest department I saw in the store and they seemed overwhelmed.

A couple of things I did notice when walking through the store was the staff was so young and not dressed in the traditional conservative Nordstrom way that I knew of the suburban stores. The dress code went out the window here. That and no one ever approached me no matter what department I entered. Big change from the 90’s store that I remember. The second thing I noticed was that no bags were leaving the store. I always remember my boss saying that was the sign that a store was doing well.

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Nordstrom Manhattan

Walking down Broadway in the later afternoon and evening, this part of  Broadway is full of large office buildings that are somewhat generic but here and there are still traces of old New York.

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The Dream Hotel Midtown encompasses old and new

At the corner of Broadway and West 55th Street is the Dream Midtown Hotel at 210 West 55th Street. What makes the hotel unique is that it is a renovated 1895 Beaux Arts building that also encompasses old brownstones on West 55th Street for a unique design. The hotel is basically a hip new hotel surrounded by New York elegance and the hotel has done a wonderful job restoring this old building.

My last stop up Broadway was at the Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com) which I had visited a few times over the summer to see the ‘Post Punk and New Wave Art’ exhibition. It is really different from the more traditional museums in the City.

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The Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle

The museum was founded in 1956 and has had a few name and location changes over the years settling in this building in 2008 with a total redesign of the building by architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture. The museum’s purpose direction is dedicated to creativity and craftsmanship of the artist along with their materials and techniques (Museum history).

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I thought the exhibition on the Post-Punk and New Wave era was really interesting as I remember the music from that era.

There had been some controversy when redesigning the building. It had been originally built in 1964 by A & P Heir Huntington Harford to house his collection of art as a museum. The original building before the renovation was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone and opened as the Gallery of Modern Art. According to what I read, the building was never endured by any of the architectural reviewers and only came into notice when the building was sold in 2002 (Wiki).

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The old 2 Columbus Circle “The Gallery of Modern Art” before the renovation

This museum and the Dream Hotel Midtown are examples of what is happening in Manhattan now. The reuse of buildings and the old mixing with the new as  businesses are being reworked into old establishments and that morphing Manhattan into its next stage of existence.

I walked around Columbus Circle as the lights were coming on and the temperatures were starting to cool. The holidays are around the corner and it looks like the City is gearing up for them.

Central Park was still busy and the carriage rides were in full swing that night. A lot has changed since the 80’s.

 

Places to Eat:

 

Hop Won Express Chinese Restaurant

139 East 45th Street

New York, NY 10017

(212) 661-4280/867-4996

https://hopwonrestaurant.netwaiter.com/

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Friday 8:00am-8:45pm/Saturday 11:00am-7:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4760804-Reviews-Hop_Won_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1214

 

Places to Visit:

 

Museum of Arts and Design

Jerome and Simona Chazen Building

2 Columbus Circle Building

New York, NY 10019

https://madmuseum.org/

(212) 299-7777

Open: Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d524927-Reviews-Museum_of_Arts_and_Design-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day One Hundred and Fifty One: Here’s Halloween Again October 31st, 2019

I can’t believe that Halloween is over again! It comes and goes so quickly and I can already see the traces of Christmas on its way. There are times that I can’t believe that July and August go by so fast and then there are the holidays.

Halloween, as you can see by the last few years of this blog, have become more than just handing out Halloween treats to kids at my house. In fact, even when I have been home I rarely see trick or treaters, the most being 14 kids about ten years ago. Kids today at least in my part of the neighborhood have little interest in doing this anymore.

Halloween started for me on the first weekend of October with the ‘Pumpkin Blaze’ at the Van Cortlandt Manor (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). Last year I saw the Blaze on the last weekend it was open on the first weekend of November and the temperature had dropped to 32 degrees and I said never again. I wanted to see it when it was warm out and I could take my time to really see the displays.

So I asked my Aunt Deloris to attend with me as a delayed birthday present to her and on October 7th we headed up to Croton-on-the-Hudson to see the Annual Pumpkin Blaze. It was unusually warm that night at 62 degrees but there was the threat of rain later that evening. Still for the entire time we were at the Van Cortlandt Manor, it was mild and pleasant. Since we attended on a Monday night long before Halloween, the crowds were not as large.

It was a spectacular display this year with many new displays to ohh and ahh at while walking the paths around the manor. To let you all know, the Pumpkin Blaze is a volunteer event and major fundraiser for the Hudson Valley Historical Society. Thousands of hand-carved pumpkins are illuminated all over the grounds of the estate and the light makes it quite intriguing.

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The pumpkin carving starts in late August and early September

As you enter the path into the estate, they are lined completely with lit pumpkins. That lead to the Circus train display and the Tappan Scream Bridge, both made from a combination of real and plastic pumpkins, The train had gotten longer and more detailed over the years with detailed ghostly animals arriving at their destination.

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The spooky Circus train

Another display that was amazing was the Museum of Modern Art display that had with copies of famous works in pumpkins. It was in honor of the renovation and extension of the museum.

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The Andy Warhol Soup Can

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The Headless Horseman Scream

As we exited the ghostly museum, you pass the musical carousel and the Albany Post Road that was lined pumpkins. There were pumpkin jack in the boxes, pumpkin dinosaurs and pumpkin mummies. The displays were bigger, more detailed and more elaborate then years past.

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Pumpkin Dinosaurs

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The pumpkin carousel

The paths leading to the Van Cortlandt Manor were lined with a pumpkin cemetery and then the dinosaur displays. This lead to the light show at the Van Cortlandt Manor that was lined with pumpkins and a light show that illuminated the house. The house was surrounded by pumpkins of all faces and expressions along the path around the house. This lead to another cemetery that had the Van Cortlandt family names as you exited the property.

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Van Cortland Manor at Croton-on-the-Hudson

As we exited the property it lead to a series of tents that carried all sorts of gifts and Halloween items, two different food concessions with hot dogs, cider, homemade doughnuts and popcorn. It was very active after everyone had walked the show.

Then my aunt and I came across this giant pumpkin that was craved out of wood that everyone was taking pictures at and we pose for our own Halloween portrait. That was a lot of fun dodging the other families to take the shot.

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My Aunt Deloris and I at the end of the Annual Pumpkin Blaze

Just as we were leaving the site and heading to the car, the heavens opened up and it started to rain. We just made it to the car as it started to pour. As we headed back to New Jersey and crossed over the Tappan Zee Bridge, the rain started to let up to a light dizzle. When we reached Paramus, it was just a light mist.

We stopped for dinner at the Suburban Diner at 172 Route 17 North in Paramus, NJ ( see review on TripAdvisor) for a snack. The snack ended up being a large Turkey Club Sandwich with a side of fries, cole slaw and a pickle. This thing was huge! My aunt ordered a BLT that was just as large and for two  people who just wanted a ‘snack’ we devoured everything. I guess it was all that walking.

I continued my Halloween activities to where it all took place, Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown, NY, where the months of September, October and early November are very busy. Historic Hudson Valley has lots of events this time of the year, one of them being the Pumpkin Blaze.

Another event I attended was the “Home of the ‘Legend'”, a tour of Washington Irving’s home, ‘Sunnyside’, which is located at 3 West Sunnyside Lane in Irvington, NY (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). I had visited the house years ago but they now had a Halloween tour of the house.

‘Sunnyside’ was the home of Washington Irving from 1835 until his death in the house in 1859. The house was originally a small two room stone house had been built around 1690 for a tenant farmer and  had once been part of the Philipse Manor estate grounds. When Washington Irving bought the house in 1835, eyeing the home when visiting his son Oscar who lived in the area.

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Washington Irving’s Sunnyside

With his friend, George Harvey, a painter, they created the home in the Romantic style with almost a fairy tale appearance. The ‘storybook’ home is covered in wisteria and has the most beautiful views of the widest area of the Hudson River. The author wrote some of his most famous stories from this house. He lived here with his brother, Ebenezer and his five daughters after his business failed so the house was a busy one.

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Washington Irving’s study

The house was sold to John D. Rockefeller for the State by Washington Irving’s great grandson, Louis Irving in 1945 preservation. The house tour is really interesting as the old Victorian wing was torn down to preserve it to the time of Washington Irving so it has the original kitchen, ice house and barn. These ten acres were a working estate.

I got to see Washington Irving’s study and bedroom with the original furnishings which I thought was interesting. It does have a small kitchen for all those people and the bedrooms the rest of the family had were almost the size of today’s contemporary homes. So it must have been tight for the family.

When you exit the kitchen from the back to end the house tour, you head to the back lawn where the ice house is located, the gardens and the barn. There are ten acres to roam around with ponds and streams and again that amazing view of the Hudson River. This tour should not be missed when it opens back up in the Spring.

The last  event I went to in Tarrytown was ‘The Unsilent Picture, which took place at the Tarrytown auditorium. The program was a movie based on a story line mystery that takes place one evening and the local actors play out the characters to scare a family member. I was so tired from the cold and it was so boring that I think I fell asleep for five minutes and missed a section of it. I just didn’t get the interest in the whole thing. I would bypass this in the future.

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The Unsilent Movie

Here is the trailer for the movie:

One Halloween event you should look into is the Victorian Halloween Tea lecture at the Staatsburg Historical Site/Mills Mansion in Staatsburg, NY.  These lecture teas are very interesting and the food is wonderful.

Mills Mansion

I have been a Friend of the Mills Mansion now for about four years finding that I was going to a lot of their events it just made it easier to join and get priority on their special events which are enjoyable. This event was a tea and lecture of how the Victorians recreated Halloween from a dark more countryside evening wrapped in mystery to an engaging urban event with costumes, specialty foods and traditional events like apple bobbing that guests then made their own. Local Historian Carol Kohan discussed how the event went from a dark rural event to fun and engaging holiday.

Mills Mansion Halloween

The Victorian’s made everything elaborate and overdone and the Halloween celebrations were ‘taken up a notch’ with elaborate costumes, parties, bonfires and desserts and candies that were to be served. There were special invitations and cards that were to sent and rules of etiquette.

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Following the Civil War and at a time when disease was not understood the way it is now, there was an interest in spiritualism and seances were in vague as people want to reach out to their loved ones. So having a medium at a party was part of the activity. The Victorians knew how to transform a holiday.

During the discussion, we enjoyed an afternoon tea of the specialty Staatsburg Tea blend, a variety of finger sandwiches, pumpkin and cranberry scones and many types of pastries including mini pumpkin cheesecakes, tiny devil’s food cupcakes and assorted sweet cookies. The caterer always does a nice job with the food and service here.

Afternoon Tea

The food at these function are excellent and plentiful

After the tea and lecture, we took a detailed tour of the Mill’s Mansion which I had taken many times but this was with another tour guide and he gave us another perspective to the house. He mentioned stories of the Mills family that I had not heard before and we also got to see how the renovations of the house were going. It looks like the dining room and entrance hall will be finished in time for the holiday party.

All of these activities lead to the big event in my Halloween every year, the NY Greenwich Village Halloween Parade which I have been marshaling now for five years. Participating in the event this year, I got an invitation to go to Rokeby, the estate of the Aldrich/Livingston family to see the puppet rehearsals. This year’s theme to the parade was “Wild Things” and the puppets and costumes were to reflect this.

Because I had the above Afternoon tea at the Mill’s Mansion the next day, I stayed at an Airbnb for the night and that was interesting. I had a feeling that the host really did not want to meet me as she scrambled out the door that night.  The room was in a small private home near downtown Kingston and the nice part was that I could enjoy all the restaurants, museums and historical sites (See VisitingaMuseum.com for the sites I visited) and go back to the room to sleep.

After I checked into the Airbnb, it was off to The Rokeby Estate which is a 400 acre property in Red Hook, NY. Most of the artists for the Halloween Parade and the Sinterklass Parade in December (see my blogs on this as well) live on the Rokeby Estate in the homes that surround the old mansion.

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The Rokeby Estate in Red Hook, NY

By the time I got up there, it was just starting to get dark and trust me, the roads are not paved going up to the house and it gets dark up there. I parked by the barn where all the magic happens and they create and assemble all the puppets. This was interesting because I got to see all the designs and all the construction areas of the barn.

The rehearsal went by well and they even created music for the puppets to dance to when performing. Then the participants holding the puppets lead everyone to the Rokeby Mansion and we all assembled on the porch which was lit with Christmas lights and watched the performance from there.

Halloween Parade Puppet Rehearsals 2019

The Wild Things at the Puppet Rehearsals at Rokeby

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The Max’s of the Wild Things

Watching from the porch of Rokeby was a lot of fun and what a place to view everything. Before it got dark, I got to talk to Tracey and Wilt Aldrich and introduce myself (we are like 12th cousins by marriage) and we got to chat before the performance. I got to see the sun set over the Hudson River from there and it was spectacular. The colors over the mountains was amazing and you can understand why people moved up here.

After rehearsals, it was off to Rhinebeck for dinner at Pete’s Famous, a diner concept downtown that I highly recommend. I had a much needed Hot Turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes ($10.95) and a Coke (see review on TripAdvisor). The main meal was loaded with that thick turkey gravy that diners are known for when serving this dish. The meal started with a Chicken and Rice soup that really warmed me up. It was nice to warm up in the restaurant and chat with the waitstaff.

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Pete’s Famous in Rhinebeck, NY has wonderful food

After dinner, I just walked around downtown Rhinebeck, NY knowing that Sinterklass was only four and a half weeks later. I could see that the Christmas lights were being put on the trees already. Then it was off to bed and back to the Mills Mansion for the tea. The parade would be four days later.

Halloween Night was really unusual again this year. The weather was threatening rain all day and it was weirdly warm being 71 degrees and humid that night. Somehow we never saw the rain that night and as it got dark didn’t even notice the clouds.

I got the parade early this year arriving at 3:00pm to meet with the Head Marshal at the gate (and my distant cousin by marriage), Marc Schulyer. I had lucked out and had been invited to the Marshaling meeting the week before which made me better prepared for the parade. By the time I got there, most of the marshals had arrived and I got to work with the locations of people and where everyone was supposed to go.

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My ‘cousin’ Marc Schuyler and myself at the parade entrance

With the exception with one pain who lived near by and snuck into the parade route, we did not have one problem this year and getting people into the parade was easy. We had no hassles this year and because it was not raining as expected, the parade route got really busy. People came out for the parade in droves and the costumes were more creative than in previous years.

We got all the bands in, all the ‘Thriller” dancers checked in and all the float people into the park on time and kept the tourists out. By the time we closed the gate at 8:00pm, there was no one left and the parade was in progress. By the time I got to Sixth Avenue and Spring Street, most of the parade was uptown.

I got to see about four floats go up Sixth Avenue and one band before the rest of the parade was people in costume. There was everything from Superheros to cheerleaders in that parade. People dressed as horses, birds and trees. Lots of Jason’s and Freddie Kruger’s and spirits of death. People were dressed like little kids and cartoon characters the list goes on.

There was a small get together after the parade but that was not until 10:00pm so it gave me about an hour to walk around the Village and watch people in action. I swear I walked all over the Village and Soho and every street and restaurant was mobbed! Because it was so warm outside all the outdoor cafes were open. All the outside tables were taken and it seemed that every restaurant was packed with people with more waiting. Even the McDonald’s and littlest pizzerias were busy. With no rain and warm weather, people were in the mood to be outside one last time.

We had dinner that night at Da Umberto on 107 West 17th Street in the Village and the food and service were wonderful.  They had a nice buffet set up for us and we had a choice of a Risotto Bolognese, Penne with a Pesto Cream sauce, Rigatoni with Vodka sauce, or Eggplant Parmesan as the main dish, a wonderful salad with house dressing and a Tiramisu for dessert. The food and the service was excellent and we had a nice evening just sitting around and talking about the parade.

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Da Umberto is an excellent restaurant! Make sure to try the pastas

When I left the party around 11:30pm, it was still going strong as was the street party after the parade. People were still eating outside, house parties could be seen from the windows and people were still parading around in their costumes.

When I got home just past Midnight, I felt the first drops of the storm and when I got inside around 12:15am, the heaven’s opened up and did it rain! It pounded the roof. God had really spared us all of that. It was the last night that I slept with the air conditioner  on and the heat off because when I woke up it must have dropped 25 degrees and the heat went right back on.

Another Halloween over and here come the Winter and Christmas!

 

A glimpse of the parade on YouTube:

 

 

Places to Eat:

Suburban Diner

172 Route 17 North

Paramus, NJ  07450

(201) 261-2605

https://www.suburbandiner17.com/

https://www.suburbandiner17.com/menu

Open: Sunday-Wednesday 6:00am-2:00am/Thursday 6:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g46712-d4474628-Reviews-Suburban_Diner-Paramus_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

 

Dominick’s

34 North Front Street

Uptown Kingston, NY  12401

(845) 338-4552

Open: Sunday 9:00am-4:00pm/Monday-Saturday 7:30am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48003-d1187760-Reviews-Dominick_s_Cafe-Kingston_New_York.html?m=19905side

 

Pete’s Famous

34 East Market Street

Rhinebeck, NY 12572

(845) 876-7271

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Petes-Famous-Restaurant/113374415362954

Open: Sunday & Saturday 6:00am-3:00pm/Monday-Friday 6:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48486-d823142-Reviews-Pete_s_Famous_Restaurant-Rhinebeck_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Da Umberto

107 West 17th Street

New York, NY 10011

(212) 989-0303

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Thursday 12:00pm-3:00pm/5:30pm-11:00pm/Friday 12:00pm-3:00pm/11:30pm/Saturday 5:30pm-11:30pm

https://daumbertonyc.com/

Menus

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d423279-Reviews-Da_Umberto-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to visit:

Van Cortlandt Manor

525 Riverside Drive

Croton-on-the-Hudson, NY 10520

(914) 336-6900

Van Cortlandt Manor

Van Cortlandt Manor School Programs

Open: The house is closed for the season. The house is open in July and August for select tours. Please check their website.

Fee: See website

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47560-d116391-Reviews-Van_Cortlandt_Manor-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3677

 

 

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside

3 West Sunnyside Lane

Irvington, NY  10533

(914)-336-6900

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside

Open: Sunnyside will be closed until May 2020 and then reopens for Spring Hours.

Fee: Visit the above website

My review on TripAdvisor;

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47953-d104379-Reviews-Washington_Irving_s_Sunnyside_House-Irvington_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VistingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3673

 

 

Staatsburg State Historic Site/Mills Mansion

75 Mills Mansion Drive, US Route 1

Staatsburg, NY  12580

(845) 889-8851

Fee: Adults $8.00/Groups and Seniors $6.00/Children under 12 free

Open: Monday-Wednesday Closed/Thursday-Sunday 11:00am-4:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48676-d107418-Reviews-Staatsburgh_State_Historic_Site_Mills_Mansion-Staatsburg_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/2137

 

The Halloween Parade

Every October 31st-Halloween Night in Greenwich Village NYC

Start time 7:00pm

Halloween Parade 2019

The Halloween Parade get better every year!

Day One Hundred and Forty-Nine Visiting the Hudson River Valley for Fall Events and to see the foliage September and October 2019

I have been travelling up to the Hudson River Valley much more than usual this Fall. There has been so much going on between the events up at the Dutchess County Fair Grounds since the Fair in August and all the of the ‘Mansion Hopping’ and visiting to historical sites for my blog, “VisitingaMuseum.com”,  which I have been concentrating on building over the Summer and Fall. I have been visiting on most weekends between September and the end of October.

Travelling up to the Hudson River Valley in the fall is an amazing time. Because of the lack of rain over the summer, the foliage turned much earlier than it usually does and the trees starting turning yellow and red in the end of September and beginning of October as opposed to last year and the year before where it was more the end of October and middle of November.

I started my journey up to Dutchess County right after the Dutchess County Fair at the end of August and continued through the end of October for Halloween events. I had bought a small Santa from a woodcarver for a small Mother’s Day present for my mom and she absolutely loved it so I had to seek him out again at events through the next three months. He was tough to find.

My first trip Upstate was for the Cornell-Marist Football game on September 21st. Because I have to teach college on Saturday mornings I left for the game later in the afternoon and I got to Marist College during the beginning of the second quarter.

The Marist College campus off Route 9 in Poughkeepsie is one of the nicest college campuses I have been to in a while. The campus sits right on the Hudson River and the nice part is that the football stadium is located right off the highway so as I was driving in I could see what was going.

cornell-football.jpg

Big Red Football

Long story short it was not the greatest football game I had ever been to and we won 21-7. Cornell University has not invested in its football team the way it should and it was like watching two high school teams play.  The funny part was that Marist College and Cornell University have the same school colors so it was hard to see who was rooting for who in the stadium.

The one nice thing about the stadium is that on the other side of the stands of the stadium that Marist has lawn sitting and that is the best way to watch the game. It was also about 85 degrees that afternoon so it was the perfect football weather and I got tan while watching the game.

Cornell Football III.jpg

Sitting on the lawn side of the field is the best place to sit

After the game was over, I decided to explore the campus. God, the Marist College campus is gorgeous. The campus has expanded over the years since I went to school at the Culinary Institute of America and our campus was beautiful as well. Marist College has rolling hills, lush green lawns and the most amazing view of the Hudson River. People should just visit the campus to walk around. The foliage was just starting to turn so the view of the river and the hills that surround it was spectacular.

Cornell Football II.jpg

Homecoming and Reunion Weekend at Marist College

The next weekend I was back Upstate again to the fairgrounds in Rhinebeck for Oktoberfest. This interesting event was the smaller of the two events that I attended at the Dutchess County Fair Grounds after the Annual Fair in August. This was a smaller craft event that took up one section of the fairgrounds mostly where the craft exhibition space had been during the fair and the rides were located. I had gotten this event and the Sheep & Wool event later in the month mixed up and the wood carver was not there (later when I did meet up with him at the Sheep & Wool Festival he said that he was not invited). Still I stayed and explored the fairgrounds on this warm sunny day.

Oktoberfest 2019.jpg

Along the main path, there were all sorts of arts and crafts vendors and gourmet food vendors selling their wares and there were a few food vendors towards the back of the event but the lines were so long that I decided to eat outside the fairgrounds. So I took a trip up to Red Hook, NY which is located just north of the fair grounds and had lunch at Village Pizza III at 7594 North Broadway (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for some lunch.

The food at this Village Pizza is just excellent and so reasonable as well! I had the most delicious Calzone ($6.95) that was just loaded with mozzarella, Parmesan and Ricotta cheese and was a gooey delight with every bite. Their red sauce that I have mentioned in my of my Upstate New York blogs, is just excellent. Well spiced and loaded with flavor.

Village Pizza III.jpg

Village Pizza III is just excellent for lunch and dinner

I came back two weeks later for the Sheep and Wool Festival which was a whole different experience. The Sheep and Wool Festival which takes place the third week of October was a much bigger festival, larger than Oktoberfest but just a little smaller then the Fair. It was a lot of fun walking through the rows of yarn, specialty crocheted and knitted hats, blankets and baby items plus all the handcrafted items for the upcoming holidays.

Sheep and Wool Festival II

The Sheep and Wool Festival

I did find the wood carver, Joe Gleeson,  on this trip and was able to buy to small Santa’s that he had in stock. It seemed that he had a good sell through at the Dutchess County Fair and there was not much left and he was just trying to keep up. I love Mr. Gleeson’s surrealist designed Santa’s. After making that purchase, I walked all over the fairgrounds looking over the displays and all the crafts people. There were a lot of interesting vendors offering the most beautiful and interesting items.

Carapace Farm Puppetry.jpg

Carapace Farm Puppetry by Susannah White

Mr. Gleeson has the most beautiful wooden carvings of Santa’s, Elf’s and Snowman. Bonnie’s Beast’s offered the most creative felt and knit play animals from felt wool. Artist Patricia McGarth created homemade all natural doggie treats that tasted like an all natural cracker. They were not bad to eat for a human. Utopia Bath Ltd. has an interesting bath line and lotions. Artist Susannah White builds and creates puppets through her Carapace Farm Puppetry. She carries the most interesting hand and finger puppets and masks. Artist JoAnn Clark is a fiber artist who specializes in Needle felted folk art. She created the most interesting animal art and figurines. Ameila McIsaac created flowering art through her Flowering Art Homestead company.

 

Sheep and Wool Festival

The sheep were surprisingly friendly

For lunch, I discovered that Janken’s, the Food Truck vendor I had eaten lunch at during the Fair was at this festival as well and I made the ‘B-Line’ to have lunch there. For $15.00,  I got their special again. This was a half pound freshly ground beef patty that was juicy in the center and caramelized on the outside. Then they top it with Cheddar Cheese, Smoked Glazed Ham, Pulled Pork and homemade pickles with a side of freshly made potato-cheese porgies cooked in butter and sweet onions with a side of sour cream. Okay, yes it is not for the cholesterol minded person but I eat this twice a year and do I enjoy it. I walked the Fairgrounds twice just to work it off.

dutchess-county-fair-burger.jpg

Do not miss the Hamburger and pirogi special at Jayken’s Food Truck

After the time at the Sheep and Wool Festival, it was next to the ‘Pie and Punch Evening” at the Kearney House in the Palisades Interstate Park. I had been to the Kearney House two weeks early on a Sunday but it was closed due to a Square Dance fundraiser they were running so I saw this on the Internet and thought it sounded fun (Please see the reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). The house would all be lit by candles and fireplaces as there is no electricity in the house. What could be nicer?

kearny-house-ii.jpg

Kearney House lit by candlelight

Well just to let all you readers know that the Palisades Interstate Park is closed after dusk and does not reopen until it is light out the next day and there are NO lights either on the roads going down the hill to the basin or in the parking lot. When I mean the park is pitch black, it is pitch black. I thought this was dangerous since the road leading to the basin is very steep, not much of a barrier along the cliff side and no lights on the signs. Let’s just leave this that there was a small boulder that I did not see and it did not get out of my way. The next hour in the park was not fun!

After I calmed down and was an hour late for the event, everyone could not have been nicer to me at the get together. Once I relaxed and had some hot spiced punch and a few pieces of pie and some cheese I calmed down. The boulder aside, it was a very nice event and I had a good time.

The Kearney House is an old Revolutionary aged home that had been used by the Kearney family as Inn and resting place for sailors and shippers using the Hudson River back when it was bustling with trade. The family ended up selling it before WWI and it was bought by the parks system. The division that runs the Kearney House and fundraisers for its upkeep run these themed events.

The house was all lit up by candlelight in both rooms and both fireplaces were roaring when I got in the room. It was the pies that calmed me down. They offered three different pies, Strawberry Rhubarb, Apple and Pumpkin that were from a bakery in Closter, NJ and were ‘out of this world’ delicious. The apple pie had the sweetest filling and tasted like pears were baked into it along with the apples. The strawberry rhubarb had a tangy-tart sweet filling to it and the pumpkin had a nicely baked creamy almost custard like filling all with this amazingly buttery crust. This is the type of pie that can make you forget all of your problems.

Kearny House

Kearney House story telling

On the table as well were wedges of sharp cheese and accompanying breads, roasted peanuts, ice cold water and served to you by volunteers in period costume. If I had not been so shaken when I entered the house (and of course the couple who helped me with the car told everyone at the party what happened so everyone was extra nice to me) and all the volunteers who helped with the event had not been so nice, it could have been a bad night.

Kearny House IV.jpg

The house lit by candle light and by the fireplace

Still there was a tour of the house both upstairs and into the attic, a musician playing songs and then a half hour of story telling all by the glow of candle and fire light that made the evening special. I ended up having a nice time talking to the other guests and getting to eat the endless slices of pie.

I left a little better than I arrived but I will tell you two things: I am NEVER going into this park again after dark, so matter what the event is and that was the last time I set foot in the Kearny House. It was so dark in the parking lot when I left I almost tripped on the barrier on side the of it.

My next trip up to the Hudson River that next Sunday lead me to Beacon, NY to visit Pollepel Island/Bannerman Castle Island and to visit the mysterious castle in the middle of the Hudson River (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). I had talked about visiting Beacon, NY in my other blogs for the Third Thursday Shopping nights during the holidays and my visit to the DIA-Beacon in VisitingaMuseum.com.

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Bannerman Island

When visiting Bannerman Island please remember that it is open seasonally and opens in later April and closes at the end of October so you have to plan your trip there accordingly. I got there the last Sunday it was open and please note that you do need advanced reservations to go to the island. I lucked out as there was two trips out to the island that day and there had been a cancellation that afternoon and I was able to make the boat trip.

The trip was on somewhat rough waters as it was a gloomy day with the sun peaking out only at the end of the tour. When we got to the island, we landed at the small dock and then had to walk up over 70 steps to the landing  at the top of the hill. It wasn’t hard but hardly ADA compliant. We had excellent tour guide who knew the whole history of the island from when the family bought the island in 1900 to when the sons sold the island in the 1950’s.

Bannerman Castle III.jpg

The Bannerman Castle was actually an armory for munitions for the Bannerman company. Francis Bannerman IV bought the island to store his inventory of his military supply business and the items were stored there awaiting shipping to all over the world.

The castle itself had partially blown up in the 1920’s when the munitions caught fire and then in turn burned in 1969 and  the interiors were destroyed. Recently part of the wall to the castle collapsed so the building is now being held up by metal rods to prevent further collapse.

The tour took us up the path toward the former arsenal so we could take a better look which is pretty dramatic sitting by the water with the vegetative growth around it. Mrs. Bannerman had once had the whole area landscaped with an exotic garden. Now that part is all growth and weeds.

Travelling up the path from the ‘castle’, we walked up the path that had been landscaped by the local garden clubs who have been put in charge of landscaping the old paths and gardens leading to the family mansion at the top of the hill. The mansion is going through a renovation so there is not much to see but there is a small gift shop inside and the history in the building. The outside of the mansion is being landscaped and used for theater show, movie nights and concerts. The views of the river are spectacular.

Bannerman Mansion view

The view from the mansion on top of the hill

We exited down the back path and saw more interesting views of the Hudson River. There are more gardens on the way down and we heard more of the history of the island in that it was closed off until recently and was only visited by kayakers and adventurers. The island is now open for all sorts of activities.

On our way back, the tour guides gave us their own take on visiting the island which was pretty funny. They run these tours and can’t believe how mesmerized people are by buildings that were falling apart.

As we took the boat ride back to the dock in Beacon, I noticed that the foliage had an unusual line to it up on the hill. It was dead towards the top of the hill and the rest of the trees were combination of yellow and green. The tour guide said that an unusual early frost hit the trees and the ones at the top of the hill had already gone dormant.

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It was unusual foliage in Beacon, New York

For the rest of the afternoon, I explored downtown Beacon and all the innovative stores and trendy restaurants. I ended up though eating at a Pizza and Stuff II Pizzeria at 339 Main Street. The pizza there is delicious. Those trendy restaurants prices are ridiculous and I am not too sure how the locals afford some of these places.  Still it is a beautiful and quaint downtown with nice businesses set in the distance of the Hudson River mountains. The foliage around the town sets the tone.

As Halloween approaches, there will be more to do and see. Check out my blog on Halloween Again 2019.

 

 

 

 

Places to eat:

Village Pizza III

7514 North Broadway

New York, NY  12571

(845) 758-5808

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Village-Pizza-III/113437418688745

Open:  Sunday 1:00pm-9:00pm/Monday-Thursday 11:00am-11:00pm/Friday & Saturday 11:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48473-d819096-Reviews-Village_Pizza_III-Red_Hook_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Janken’s Food Truck

Not much information but there are at the Fairgrounds during events

 

Pizza and Stuff II

339 Main Street

Beacon, NY  12508

(845) 838-2222

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47291-d5510044-Reviews-Pizza_and_Stuff_II-Beacon_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

Dutchess County Fairgrounds

6636 Route 9

Rhinebeck, NY  12572

(845) 876-4000

http://dutchessfair.com/dutchess-fair/general-info/

(Open for Seasonal Events)

 

Marist College Campus

3399 North Road

Poughkeepsie, NY  12601

(845) 575-3000

https://www.marist.edu/

 

The Kearney House/Alpine Landing

Palisade Interstate Park

Alpine, NJ  07624

(201) 768-1360  ext. 108

https://www.njpalisades.org/kearney.html

Open: The Kearney House is open seasonally usually weekend from 1:00pm-4:00pm; closed for the season except for special events. Please visit their website.

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g29743-d19332567-Reviews-Kearny_House-Alpine_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3519

 

Bannerman Island

Pollepel Island

Newburg, NY/Beacon, NY

(845) 237-2326

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47508-d2252346-Reviews-Bannerman_Castle-Cold_Spring_New_York.html?m=19905

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48254-d2091254-Reviews-Bannerman_Cruise_Walking_Tour-Newburgh_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on VisitingaMuseum.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/visitingamuseum.com/3554

 

Vendors to seek out at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds:

 

JoAnn Clark, Fiber Artist Needle Felted Folk Art

woolwoman4U@embarqmail.com

(724) 735-4637

 

Joe Gleeson, Woodcarver

Gleesa@optonline.net

(845) 229-8458

 

Susannah White, Carapace Farm Puppetry

carapacefarm.com/carapacefarm@gmail.com

(716) 464-0931

 

Bonny’s Beasts & Birds

http://www.bonnysbeasts.com

 

Utopia Bath Ltd.

http://www.utopiabathltd.com/www.utopiabathltd.etsy.com

 

Amelia McIsaac, Floweringheart Homestead

(518) 821-4769

Ameliafloweringheart@gmail.com

 

Patricia McGrath, Laughing Paw Farm

http://www.laughingpawfarm.com/info@laughingpawfarm.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights of the Marist-Cornell Football Game:

 

Day One Hundred and Fifty Two: Reading the Prologue to “Love Triangles”, Book Two in my New York Trilogy at ‘The Author’s Spotlight’ at the Hasbrouck Heights Library October 7th, 2019

On the evening of October 7th, 2019, I did my second book reading of my up coming novel, Book Two in my New York Trilogy (the first being “Firehouse 101” published in 2005), “Love Triangles”. This is the story of Wharton Business Senior and Retailer Alan Balantine-Garfinckel adventure into New York City for the Christmas Holiday season working at Steinman’s Department Store.

Brooklyn Book Festival.jpg

Justin Watral, Author and Blogger

(Author Justin Watral at the Brooklyn Book Festival 2012 promoting Book One “Firehouse 101” (IUniverse.com 2005).

Alan who finds love while working in New York City gets more than he bargained for when while choosing between falling in love with his girlfriend, his best friend and a fantasy Champion figure skater his world is turned upside down when a mysteries rodeo cowboy enters the picture. How will true love conquer all?

Steinman's Department Store

Steinman’s Department Store’s first floor that mesmerized Alan Ballantine-Garfinckel

I read the beginning of my novel to a room full of hopeful authors and their friends at the Hasbrouck Heights Library in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

Steinman's Department Store II

Steinman’s Department Store at Christmas: Their first floor chandeliers

 

Here is the Prologue to my upcoming novel, “Love Triangles”.  I hope you all enjoy it and will buy the book:

 

Prologue

She came back to campus and now I have to flee, Alan thought. It was never easy confronting an old girlfriend and Alan didn’t want to start now. He took the coward approach and decided to leave campus. Not a good move in this bad economy but he decided it was time to leave Philly.  Alan and his best friend, Jerry were winding their way through the career fair on the University of Pennsylvania campus for most of the morning without much luck.  After over a decade of knowing one another, Jerry still acted like the whiny undergraduate Alan had known his freshman year.

“I can’t believe that they’re going through with it,” Jerry exclaimed as they passed the tables of recruiters. “They must be kidding themselves. They have known each other for almost forty years. God, my mother is such a shit. She is always pulling things like this! Why does she have to divorce the guy now?”

Alan did not want to discuss this any further having problems of his own to deal with at the moment. He had known Jerry’s parents for years and they never seemed happy. Jerry’s mother was a self-centered bitch, who always wanted things her own way regardless of everyone else’s feelings. Jerry’s father had gone along with it for years, her demeaning his every move. While vacationing in Europe, he caught her cheating with another man. It was the last straw in their marriage and Jerry knew it.

Jerry’s parents were now trying to get a quickie divorce while still in Europe. Jerry was flying abroad at the end of the semester to try to talk some sense into the two of them. Alan was grasping with his own issues. After losing his long term job at Sears when they closed his store as part of the downsizing, he had decided to go back to Penn and study at Wharton. His father wanted him to come into the family consulting business and Alan wanted to delay that as long as possible. His mother provided the excuse by recommending that he apply to Penn, where she had been a professor since their move to Philly years earlier. He knew he needed to get off campus. His ex-girlfriend was returning.

Christine and he had started dating as underclassmen. She had played center and had been the co-captain of Penn’s Women’s Basketball team and had been Alan’s girlfriend throughout most of his junior and senior years. There were a lot of things that Alan had been attracted by, her blond hair, her green eyes and a winning smile that lit up a room. After they clobbered Harvard for a share of the Ivy League title their junior year, with Christine leading the way, Alan had met her by approaching her afterwards to congratulate her on the winning basket.

Alan had always tried to put Christine on some sort of pedestal that even she could not understand. Their relationship had been strained from the beginning. By their senior year, as he watched her defend the Ivy League Women’s Basketball title, he knew that the relationship had cooled. Christine had told teammates she didn’t know if she was winning the championship for the team or to keep the relationship going. It struck anyone who knew them as odd as they always seemed like the happy couple.

Now over a decade later, she was returning to coach the team she lead to two championships and a second berth to the NCAA’s. In that time, she had also played professional basketball for New York and had been on the Olympic team, winning a gold medal in the Summer Games. Even with all that, none of it impressed Alan enough to rekindle the relationship. He just wanted a fresh start.

Too many people were entering the business school without any concept of what they wanted to do with the degree once they got it. The economy was a wreck but Alan knew there might be something out there that would give him a break from school. He wasn’t even sure what he wanted to do when he graduated the next year and didn’t want to have other younger students around to remind him of it.

“I know why you are leaving and it has nothing to do with Christine,” Jerry said as they rounded the corner looking for the Ritz-Carlton booth. “You can’t blame her for not being champion skater. Alan, that was a decade ago. You think you would have gotten over all that years ago. You built Christine up to be something she wasn’t and then you fucked the whole thing up. Ironically, here she is a decade later an Olympic champion herself and you still don’t care.”

“Shut up Jerry,” Alan said, not believing what he was hearing.

This was from a person who was a virgin until he was 38 and never had a serious girlfriend his whole life. The only reason why he even lost his virginity was that he saw the movie, “40 Year Old Virgin” on cable and did not want to have himself labeled the same.

Jerry knew the truth behind the breakup and couldn’t believe that after all these years Alan still harbored the same crush. Years earlier, when everyone else was glued to the TV for the controversy in figure skating scoring and medals that were shuttled to appease different countries and fighting skaters, Alan fell in love. When the skater had taken the ice, Alan wondered who she was and why everyone applauded her so much. When she finished her short program, the whole arena went wild.

It was what happened when she looked up and smiled. Alan’s heart raced and he knew that was the woman for him. It was her spunk, her determination and the look in her eyes of great accomplishment. The commentators were going wild with her performance and you could hear the boos in the background with her marks, which later everyone commented were too low for her performance.

The sports announcer said that she had done it to prove to herself that she could accomplish her goal of returning to skating and coming back to land the jump that made her famous a decade earlier. She showed such grace and dignity that even Alan felt it did not deserve the third place finish. She really deserved the gold!

It was later on in a documentary that Alan realized that she had not wanted to go to the Olympics. ‘I had already been there’, she commented and she wanted to give someone else a shot at competing there. Magazines hailed her as a great sportswoman and represented finally what was good in competition. She may not have won the event that night but she won the hearts of everyone who liked a comeback kid. It was the moment that Alan developed a major crush on skater, Darlene Durbin, the ‘Queen of the Quadruple’.

“That has been your problem for years, Alan,” Jerry explained as they walked. “You have held every woman you have ever met to that peak. In your eyes, no one is good enough, including Christine, who herself won a gold medal.”

“But no one ever applauded her like that,” Alan explained. “Alan, you were at the basketball championship. They applauded the team and all the players. They even gave the team a standing ovation,” Jerry exclaimed. “You saw it on TV. Even both of your parents could not believe you broke up.”

That spark wasn’t there, Alan said to himself, that heart and that great sense of accomplishment. It wasn’t in Christine’s eyes that night. She had done it for the team, but that sense of self-accomplishment wasn’t there.

“I just can’t explain it to you, Jerry. You wouldn’t understand the whole relationship,” Alan said, searching for the Ritz-Carlton booth and a chance to get off the subject.

Making the wrong turn down the isle, instead of being at the Ritz-Carlton booth, Alan was standing in front of the recruiting desk of M. Steinman & Company of New York City. While Alan looked at his map for a minute, the bored recruiter was happy to finally talk to someone. The recruiter was getting annoyed with having to direct undergraduates to the banking and financial booths (as if they would get jobs in this economy, he thought). He looked at Alan and saw something in him and then started his pitch.

“There are a lot of changes happening at Steinman’s,” the recruiter, George stated. “We have a whole new management team, new advertising and have reintroduced our old logo from 1896 as new. We even brought back our original slogan, ‘Steinman’s, it’s always a pleasure’.

Alan was not sure what he wanted to do with his time and thought that going to New York might be a nice change, plus it was far enough from Philly where he could avoid the college but close enough by where he could come home as needed.

“Do you have any retail experience?” George asked, trying to get Alan interested. George would later tell the interviewers in New York what a catch Alan was for the company.

“I was born to do it George,” Alan said. “I had been working at Sears as an Assistant General Manager until the company closed my store due to the downsizing.  That’s when I decided to go back to graduate school. There has been too much instability in the field and it has not gotten any better with this economy.”

George explained that Steinman’s was holding its own in New York and the recent renovation of the old store on Fifth Avenue brought curious shoppers into Steinman’s, who as Millennial’s had pretty much left it to their grandparents to shop. There were so many positive changes in the company and they were looking for people who understood the business to work along with them.

“Alan, please look over the material and call to schedule an interview. We would like to meet with you. I think that you will be a good match. There will be a second round of interviews in New York and you will be able to see the workings of the store. I would like to see you soon,” George said as he shoved his business card in Alan’s hand and scheduled the on-campus interview.

Even though Alan was much older then the usual candidate, he could be placed in a higher position then the typical college graduate. Alan agreed to the interview and said he would see him tomorrow.

Alan felt a sense of déjà vu. Had this happened before? Something seemed so familiar about all this but he could not put his finger on it. He said goodbye to George and set off to look for Jerry. Jerry was probably boring some recruiter with all his parents’ marriage woes. For God sake, the guy was almost 40 and he was worried about his parents?

Jerry saw Alan and waved down to him. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company was down this aisle, he pointed out. Alan could see the hotel display from a distance.

“Where were you all this time,” Jerry asked. “Ritz-Carlton was down this side of the aisle. We went the wrong way. You must have read the map upside down.”

Alan explained that he was talking to Steinman’s Department Store out of New York and had arranged for an interview for tomorrow. Jerry asked him if he was crazy.

“You always told me that your father nearly went crazy after losing the family store decades ago and that you never wanted to enter the field again after that whole thing at Sear’s. You have the rest of your life to go into that business, especially if you join your father in his consulting and buying business.”

“It’s not that Jerry,” Alan explained. “Something seemed so right about it. It was like I was going home. Steinman’s reminds me so much of what I grew up with in DC. The stores were always considered very similar. Hell, I remember my grandfather complaining that old man Steinman used to come to DC just to steal his ideas. Besides it would be nice to spend the holidays in New York. Let’s face facts; I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.”

“You are just avoiding Christine, Alan,” Jerry said. “You just want to avoid the issues of your breakup and not see her around campus. You built her up to be something she wasn’t and then you screwed it all up. You had no one to blame but yourself.”

“Shut up, Jerry,” Alan growled as he walked towards the Ritz-Carlton booth. “Don’t let your parent’s problems cloud your judgment about mine. I am getting tired about talking about it and let’s change the subject. Did I tell you I had the elevator dream again?”

Jerry shook his head but knew of the dream. It seemed that Alan had been having this dream ever since he hit puberty. Alan had always reached a certain point in the dream and then always woke up before it was over.

As Alan got older, the dream would progress but would never reach a conclusion. He always woke up. Jerry asked what had happened this time. Alan told him this time the elevator had reached the top floor and the door had opened. He stepped out into an open plain. He saw a figure in the distance. As the figure approached him, he woke up.

“You have gotten further then before,” Jerry said as they waited in line to talk to the recruiter from Ritz-Carlton. “What do you think it means?”

“It means I am closer to finding a solution to a problem,” Alan explained. “I don’t know what it is supposed to mean, Jerry. I just don’t understand why I keep waking up before it’s finished.”

When Alan was younger, it always ended up being a wet dream. Now as an adult, he woke up hard. When he and Christine were sleeping together, she had no idea of the dream. He was always hard and she enjoyed love making in the morning. Alan never told her the reasons. Jerry asked him what he thought he was going to find in New York. Was it the answer to this riddle?

“I don’t know, but I need a change. I need to get out of Philly and away from my parents. I have been cooped up in Philly too long. I knew I should have gone to graduate school elsewhere. While it is great that I am saving so much, I don’t like the fact that I am Professor Garfinckel’s son,” Alan stated with some disgust.

Alan did not like the fact that his mother, a Senior Professor at Wharton, pushed him so hard to attend the school. He had liked working but she worried about him being lost in his career.

“Maybe what I am looking for is in New York, you never know,” Alan stated as his turn with the Ritz-Carlton recruiter came up.

The night before his interview with Steinman’s, Alan had the elevator dream again. This time the dream was longer and more vivid. The dream had always started the same. Alan was walking down a long hallway of office doors and then an elevator at the end of the hallway would open up on its own. He would press the button to go up and the elevator door would close with a thud. As the elevator rose, it went faster and seemed to want to get to its destination as quickly as possible. The elevator light panel criss-crossed quickly and twinkled like a Christmas tree. Alan began to worry that the elevator might crash through the roof.

Then as suddenly as the elevator rose, it began to slow down. It stopped with a small jolt and the red flashing light flashed “17th Floor”. The door slid open quietly. Alan stepped out of the elevator onto an open plain, as far as the eye could see. No noise, no cars and no people. Just open plain with cactus, brush and mountain in the distance.

Alan took a few steps out of the elevator, contemplating on what to do next. He was startled as the doors slammed behind him. He turned to see that the elevator had disappeared, as if it never existed in the first place. “Where am I?” he thought to himself. Alan stood all alone in the blazing sun, dressed in a blue suit, Gucci red tie and loafers and briefcase, looking totally out of place in the environment.

He wondered how he was going to get out of there, when he heard the faint beat of hooves in the distance. Alan turned to look in the direction the sound was coming from and it grew louder as the figure came closer. Alan made out the faint figure of a man on a white house riding in his direction. This is strange, Alan thought, this is where the dream had always ended.

Alan stared as the man on horseback rose toward him. Suddenly, he was about twenty feet from Alan. He dropped his briefcase and walked toward the man. Alan could not see his face very well. Climbing down from his horse, the cowboy walked toward Alan. His white Stetson covered part of his face, but Alan could see the rest of him. He was wearing a duster, blue jeans and cowboy boots.

Alan was amused by his slightly bow-legged walk. Now directly in front of him, Alan still could not make out his face.

“So I finally found yawl,” the cowboy said with a slight Southern drawl.

“It was not that difficult, I have been here many times before,” Alan stated. “Why has it taken you so long to appear?”

The cowboy kicked the dirt in front of him and shrugged. “I was not sure that yawl wanted to see me, but I see the time has come,” the cowboy said. “I feel that the time is right. Yawl wished for me and now I’m here.”

“I did?” Alan asked.

“Yawl always wanted to meet me and here I am,” the cowboy added.

The cowboy stepped in front of Alan and rubbed his right shoulder gently and then walked closer. Alan could see the dazzling smile appear as his thick mustache crinkled slightly. Even though the face was fuzzy, he could make out the cowboy’s green eyes. Not just any green, but a deep emerald green that sparkled in the mid-day sun.

Alan moved himself closer to the cowboy and with that, the cowboy reached over and gently hugged Alan. Alan had a warm feeling all over his body that did not come from the heat of the sun. Alan moved closer as his hand reached for the zipper of the cowboy’s jacket and slowly unzipped it. It revealed the cowboy’s leather vest, printed cowboy shirt and his gun.

Alan put his arm around the cowboy’s waist and drew him in closer, reached over and started to rub his back. The cowboy put his arms around Alan and hugged him gently.

“If yawl wants me to stop, just let me know,” the cowboy whispered into Alan’s ear, as he slowly rubbed his head on Alan’s shoulder.

“No,” Alan answered, “Come closer.” His arms encircled the cowboy’s shoulders.

Though Alan still did not have a clear view of his face, his mustached lips moved closer to Alan’s and he kissed him. Alan giggled slightly.

“What’s so funny?” the cowboy asked as he pulled away.

“Your mustache tickles,” Alan replied.

It did not just tickle; it felt wonderful, Alan thought, soft and bushy. It was thick and neatly trimmed and brushed up against Alan’s clean-shaven face. Alan moved the Stetson over slightly and they kissed again. The kissed gently at first and then harder and more passionate.

Alan hugged the cowboy tightly and could feel pressing against him the erection in the cowboy’s tight jeans. As the cowboy’s head rested on Alan’s shoulder, Alan could feel his warm breath on his neck and the faint smell of cinnamon. The cowboy’s hand then made its way to Alan’s groin and caressed his growing erection. He gave it a slight grab.

“I think you are ready,” the cowboy said. Alan looked into the cowboy’s eyes and asked (he could still not make out the face).

“What do you mean?” Alan asked.

The cowboy flashed that mustached smile as he pulled away from Alan.

“I think it’s time for yawls wish to come true,” the cowboy answered as he slowly moved away and walked back to his horse. Alan stared as the cowboy mounted his horse, slid his duster back to reveal his holster. He pulled the gun out, spun it rapidly on his index finger before returning it to his holster. He turned the horse towards Alan.

“What wish do you mean?” Alan asked as he looked up.

The cowboy smiled again and said, “The one that yawl have locked deep in yawls heart and wished to come true. The one yawl fantasizes about coming true even though yawl don’t understand the feeling. It has always been in front of yawl, Alan. Yawl are just beginning to understand it.” The cowboy tipped his Stetson, so that Alan could see the bright emerald of his green eyes again.

“Will I see you again?” Alan called to him.

“Yawl will know when it’s time,” the cowboy shouted back, as he slowly rode away.

“When will that be?” Alan asked.

“When it’s time,” the cowboy replied.

“Why can’t I see your face clearly,” Alan yelled.

The cowboy turned back and flashed his smile again and rode off shouting, “When it’s time, yawl will know.” Alan could hear the echo and fade as the cowboy rode off in the sunset, “when it’s time, when it’s time….”

Alan took a few steps backward to see the cowboy riding in the distance and then tripped over his own briefcase. He fell back into the now opened elevator door. The doors closed shut on the western scene. The elevator raced down as rapidly as it had ascended. Floor numbers lit up quickly as the elevator reached the bottom floor.

The door opened at the ground floor of a department store crowded with hundreds of holiday shoppers who were busy doing their Christmas shopping on one of the busiest days of the year in a store decorated for the holidays. Alan walked down the main aisle toward the front of the store as the words, “when it’s time…” rang in his ear. As the crowd parted for him without him asking (this must be a dream, he thought, no one does this in New York City), he walked through the glass revolving door to exit the store and the bolt of cold air woke him up. He finished the dream!

Alan jumped out of bed. ‘Holy shit’ he thought, I am going to be late. He was starting his first day at Steinman’s and wanted to make a good impression by getting there early. He showered, shaved, dressed and ate quickly. He grabbed his briefcase and his papers and ran past Gramercy Park on the way to the subway in Union Square. He took one look back to look at the trees, which were still green. ‘That will change’, he thought to himself. The holiday season was right around the corner. As he got to the subway, he said quietly to himself. “Maybe it is time.” He then added, “Nothing like being late on your first day of work!” He then disappeared down the subway stairs.

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The Former Garfinckel’s Department Store on F Street in Washington DC

 

Special Author’s note: “Firehouse 101” can be ordered on the IUniverse.com website, Amazon, Barnes & Nobel.com, Walmart.com or any other book platform. The book can be found for sale at the FDNY Museum in Lower Manhattan if still in stock.

Be on the look out for Book Three of the Trilogy “Dinner at Midnight”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day One Hundred and Fifty-One Attending the 7th Annual Barnacle Parade in Red Hook, Brooklyn October 29th, 2019

While I was staying in Kingston, NY for the puppet rehearsals for the Halloween Parade at the Rokeby Estate, I came across an article in the Red Hook Star Review newspaper for a parade in Red Hook, Brooklyn (I thought it was for a parade in Red Hook, NY where Rokeby was located). It seems that the Red Hook neighborhood on the coast line of Brooklyn off New York Harbor was having a small celebration in honor of the neighborhood surviving Hurricane Sandy’s wrath especially when the power went out in the neighborhood on October 29, 2012.

So on a somewhat gloomy afternoon that was grey, cloudy and misty I took the bus and subway out to Red Hook for the parade. It was an interesting and engaging afternoon and evening. I read later that the neighborhood had wanted to create a parade and the year after the storm rocked the neighborhood, business owners decided that a parade was just what the neighborhood needed to boost the morale and spirit of the residents.

The neighborhood had been hit with power outages, massive flooding and twelve foot storm surges. Neighbors looked out for neighbors and the people in the Red Hook Public Housing were especially hard hit with power out for weeks. Owner of the restaurant, Good Fork at Van Brunt Street, Ben Schneider said, “We thought it would be a fun way to shake off the hardships of that first year and have a good time together.” (Red Hook Star Revue 2019).

Red Hook Hurricane Sandy

Red Hook Brooklyn after Hurricane Sandy 2012

Red Hook, Brooklyn is an interesting neighborhood because of its maritime past and that most of the neighborhood was former marshes and creeks, some of which still flow underneath the streets and homes of the neighborhood. The area was also loaded with manufacturing so there are large swaths of industrial buildings now filled with light manufacturing and/or loft spaces. The artists still dominate this part of the neighborhood but I could tell as I walked the parade route that is quickly changing as the lots of coast line buildings are in the process of being knocked down and new luxury ‘buildings on the Bay’ are being constructed on this flat flood plain (nobody learns anything from these storms).

This had only been the second time I had been to Red Hook, Brooklyn. The other time had been on a walking tour of the neighborhood with the Fashion Institute of Technology back in the summer of 2017. There we walked the entire neighborhood and got to see manufacturing and shopping as well. (See Day Eighty Walking Red Hook Brooklyn with the FIT Tours July 22nd, 2017)

I found the parade to be an interesting mix of artists, musicians, business owners, residents and then the people like me who just discovered it having a wonderful time together. The parade started at 4:00pm on the corner of Van Brunt and Pioneer Streets in the heart of the downtown area of Red Hook with a concert with a small band and residents who looked like they were preparing for Halloween. Some were dressed like fish, some like sea captains, ladies like mermaids and parents pulling their kids through the parade in little ‘ship carts’ (trust me that adults were more dressed up than the kids). One group of people used a blue tarp to represent waves (I am not sure of the symbolize to that) through out the parade.

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The Band plays on

We followed the Squid in the MTA Bus that was ‘out of service’ throughout the parade route. Bubbles were flowing everywhere. The parade route took us all over the neighborhood as we walked the coast line of the area with the parade at its starting point and walking down Pioneer Street to Conover Street then crossed King Street and then down Ferris Street which is lined with former shipping yards that are in the process of being knocked down. We stopped in front of Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier and the parade participants visited Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies at 185 Van Dyke Street #1011 for a sample of a small key lime pie.

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Steve’s Key Lime Pies  at 185 Van Dyke Street #1011 were given out complimentary

God, was that delicious! I had not had one of those since the walking tour with FIT and it was so sweet and buttery. It was four small bites but I thought that was so generous of them. Talk about good public relations. While stopping there, many people were able to walk through the park and even on this gloomy day where the visibility was not great you could see out to Liberty Island and watch the boats flow by. This was also the site of Fort Defiance, a fort that had been built to protect New York Harbor from the British during the Revolutionary War.

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Louis Valentino Park & Pier

As the parade started up again, more people started to join the parade and more children who were dressed in costume who were chasing one another around. We made our way down Van Dyke Street turned the corner back onto Conover Street and then down Reed Street to the front of Hometown Bar-B-Que at 454 Van Brunt Street on the corner of Van Brunt and Reed Streets. There we stopped for a complimentary beverage break but I was not really into the light flavored beers so I skipped that one.

The restaurant though is an old warehouse where the guts were pulled out and the place has exposed walls and ceilings and flooded with Christmas lights. The rich smells of barbecue filled the restaurant and later at the block party I was able to try some of the food that they donated. Their pulled pork, fresh pickles and mac and cheese were delicious.

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The inside of Hometown Bar-B-Que at 454 Van Brunt Street

The parade continued up Van Brunt Street, the heart of the neighborhood with more rousing nautical songs such as “By the Beautiful Sea” and “I’d like to be under the Sea” as we all marched up the street following the Squid Float which was now blowing blue smoke and more bubbles. We stopped again in front of The Good Fork at 391 Van Brunt Street where they were ladling out hot vegetarian chili (not one of my favorite things). It was nicely spiced and would have tasted better with a little meat in it. Everyone else though was devouring it as the night grew cooler.

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The Good Fork at 391 Van Brunt Street

Our next culinary stop on the parade route was Fort Defiance, a bar and restaurant at 365 Van Brunt Street for a cup of their Butternut Squash Soup. God, was that delicious! I asked the owner how they made it and he said that it was a combination of pumpkin and butternut squash with just a little heavy cream in it. It tasted so thick and creamy and you could taste the hint of sweetness of the pumpkin. As it got cooler that night, that soup hit the spot.

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Fort Defiance Bar & Grill at 365 Van Brunt Street

Our last stop before heading back up to Pioneer Street was at the local VFW on Van Brunt Street for a shot (that seriously warmed me up). I stopped in to look around and the place was decorated for Halloween with all sorts of decorations and colored lights. The guys were really cool about looking around and I swear I felt so much better.

The parade ended back at the corner of Pioneer and Van Brunt Streets with a musical band playing all sorts of rock songs and some dancing under all the gloom and mist. There was a tent set up with free food from Hometown Bar-B-Que with their pulled pork sandwiches, Southern Fried Chicken with seasonings, creamy mac & cheese, corn bread and someone donated some corn dogs which I never got to sample. There was also another tent where Pizza Moto was making homemade pizza with fresh mozzarella and basil and that really warmed me up as well.

What was nice was the food was free and they asked for a donation for the relief fund for the Bahamas, which I thought was a nice touch. I gave the $5.00 donation for the meal which I thought was well worth it. I thought it was nice of the restaurants to be so generous and thoughtful to the parade participants as well as great PR and introducing their food to the neighborhood (these are smart restaurateurs).

The pulled pork was delicious and was served with a hot horseradish sauce which we could top with fresh pickles and homemade Cole slaw. It was rich and decadent. The mac & cheese which was served on the side was creamy and loaded with Cheddar cheese. The fried chicken was meaty and nicely fried and spiced with Old Bay seasonings. What a nice and generous meal. The pizza was also excellent on a cool night.

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The pulled pork sliders and mac & cheese were worth the wait in line

I stayed for another half hour enjoying the music and watching a group of kids run each other around in a shopping cart in a club that was open for sitting and using the bathrooms. These kids really carried on but in a fun way. I could see the other adults were worn out by it but I just saw myself and the fun I used to have as a kid.

I told one artist who was in a mermaid costume eating a slice of pizza that I would rather see these kids carrying on like this yelling and screaming and having a good time than playing with a cellphone not talking to each other. She smiled and agreed with me.

Before I left the neighborhood, I stopped at the new Ample Hills Creamery & Museum at 421 Van Brunt Street to see the new factory and store that they had built. I swear that this company has grown in leaps and bounds in just seven years and they now have eight stores plus this factory. It was very impressive and shows how their product is made. They also make all their add ins like cake batter, brownies and candy. Very impressive!

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The Ample Hills Factory

Red Hook to me is more than just a neighborhood in Brooklyn. It was like a small town where people know their neighbors and people talked and greeted each other and engaged in conversation. Some may not be best friends or agree with one another but you can tell they are a neighborhood. This little parade will be something bigger in the future I know but for now it showed me the true spirit of a small town community in the heart of New York City.

The Barnacle Parade is every October 29th to mark the Anniversary of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. What a way to show the spirit of resilience of a community!

See my entry in MywalkinManhattan.com: “Day Eighty Walking Red Hook Brooklyn with the FIT Tours July 2017” for more insights on Red Hook, Brooklyn:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/5737

 

Here are some interesting videos on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on Red Hook Brooklyn:

 

Another Great insight on Hurricane Sandy:

 

Watch a neighborhood come together after the storm:

 

Places to Eat:

 

Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies

185 Van Dyke Street #1011

Brooklyn, NY 11231

(718) 858-5333

keylime.com

Home

Open: 11:00am-7:00pm/Monday-Thursday 12:00pm-6:00pm/Friday 12:00pm-7:00pm/ Saturday 11:00am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d1599956-Reviews-Steve_s_Authentic_Key_Lime_Pies-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Hometown Bar-B-Que

454 Van Brunt Street

Brooklyn, NY 11231

(347) 294-4644

hometownbarbque.com

https://hometownbbq.com/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Thursday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Friday & Saturday 12:00pm-11:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d5081197-Reviews-Hometown_Bar_B_Que-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

The Good Fork

391 Van Brunt Street

Brooklyn, NY  11231

(718) 643-6636

goodfork.com

https://www.goodfork.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d619947-Reviews-The_Good_Fork-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Fort Defiance

365 Van Brunt Street

Brooklyn, NY  11231

(347) 453-6672

fortdefiancebrooklyn.com

http://www.fortdefiancebrooklyn.com/

Open: Sunday & Saturday 9:00am-12:00am/Monday-Friday 10:00am-12:00am

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60827-d4245688-Reviews-Fort_Defiance-Brooklyn_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Visit:

Louis Valentino Park and Pier

Ferris and Coffey Street

Brooklyn, NY  11231

(212) 639-9675

nycgovparks.org

https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/valentino-pier/history

 

Ample Hills Creamery Factory & Museum

421 Van Brunt Street

Brooklyn, NY  11231

(718) 875-1273

amplehills.com

https://www.amplehills.com/location/red-hook-factory

Open: Sunday-Thursday 12:00pm-10:00pm/Friday & Saturday 12:00pm-10:30pmreview

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g48473-d14978931-Reviews-Ample_Hills_Creamery-Red_Hook_New_York.html?m=19905

 

 

Day One Hundred and Forty-Seven Cruising around Manhattan on the Circle Line October 11th, 2019

 

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.

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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.

The Circle Line V

Liberty Island

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.

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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).

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Brooklyn Bridge

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.

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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.

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Roosevelt Island

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.

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Ward-Randall’s 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.

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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.

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Muscato Marsh

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.

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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).

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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.

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Grant’s Tomb

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.

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Riverside Park

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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It does not take much to please this Libra!

 

Things to do:

 

The Circle Line Cruise

Midtown

Pier 83

West 42nd Street and 12th Street

New York, NY

(212) 563-3200

1https://www.circleline.com/0036

Tour of  the “Best of New York Cruise” times:

10:00am, 12:00pm and 1:30pm cruises daily

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d276253-Reviews-Circle_Line_Cruises-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to Eat:

The menu on the Circle Line is not that exciting so eat a good breakfast before you go and save lunch or dinner to after you exit the cruise.

 

The Juicy Seafood

1047A Second Avenue

New York, NY  10022

(646) 850-4080

Home

My review on TripAdvisor:

 

 

The Eclair Bakery

305 East 53rd Street

New York, NY  10022

(212) 371-3459

https://www.eclairbakery-nyc.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d6438250-Reviews-Eclair_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1068

 

 

 

 

 

Day One Hundred and Forty-Eight: A Five Year Well Wishing to my father, Warren George Watrel October 13th, 2019

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?

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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.

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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!

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Dad and I at the ‘Grandparent’s Day Brunch’ fundraiser for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library 2013.

 

‘Happy Talk’ from ‘South Pacific’

Day One Hundred and Forty-Six: Walking the Streets of Midtown East from Lexington to Fifth Avenues from East 59th to East 43rd Streets September 20th-October 4th, 2019

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.

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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.

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‘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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Tri Dim’s Classic Chicken is excellent

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Aveue in the 50's

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.

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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).

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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).

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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.

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Paley Garden at East 53rd Street

Rounding East 53rd 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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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 vibrancy 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.

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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”.

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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 & Forty-Five:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/10332

 

Walking the Borders on Day One Hundred & Forty-Three:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/9841

 

Places to Eat:

 

Empanada Supreme

A Food Cart on the Corner of West 38th Street & Broadway

Not sure of hours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d3617697-Reviews-Empanada_Stand-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/926

 

JoJu Fifth Avenue

555 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY  10036

(332) 204-2278

Open: Sunday & Saturday 11:00am-5:00pm/Monday-Friday 11:00am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d19113235-Reviews-JoJu-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Bon Vivant

231 East 58th Street

New York, NY 10022

(646) 481-4044

Open: Sunday-Monday Closed/Tuesday-Friday 9:30am-7:30pm/Saturday 9:30am-6:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d12375755-Reviews-Bon_Vivant_New_York-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/253

 

Tri Dim Shanghai Restaurant

1378 Third Avenue

New York, NY  10075

(212) 585-3388

Open: Monday-Friday 11:45am-10:00pm/Sunday-Saturday 12:00pm-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d13322870-Reviews-Tri_Dim_Shanghai-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Urbanspace Vanderbilt

East 45th and Vanderbilt Avenue

New York, NY 10169

(646) 747-0810

Open: Sunday & Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm/Monday-Tuesday 6:30am-9:00pm/Wednesday-Friday 6:30am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d8726958-Reviews-Urbanspace-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Places to visit:

 

Christie’s Sculpture Garden

66 East 55th Street

New York, NY 10022

(413) 229-9063

http://www.jonathanprince.com/christies-sculpture-garden-1

 

Tower 49 Lobby Gallery

12 East 49th Street

New York, NY  10017

https://www.tower49gallery.com/

 

Studio in the School Gallery

1 East 53rd Street

New York, NY  10022

NYSS Gallery

 

50th Street Commons

48 East 50th Street

New York, NY  10022

http://www.mta.info/news-east-side-access-long-island-rail-road-mta-capital-construction/2014/09/16/50th-street-commons

 

Paley Park

3 East 53rd Street

New York, NY  10022

Open: Sunday-Saturday 8:00am-8:00pm

(212) 639-9675

https://www.pps.org/places/paley-park

 

Places to Shop:

 

Phil’s Stationary

9 East 47th Street

New York, NY  10017

(212) 688-4144

Open: Sunday & Saturday Closed/Monday-Friday 9:00am-6:00pm

http://philstationery.blogspot.com/

 

Saks Fifth Avenue

611 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY  10022

(212) 753-4000

Open: Sunday 11:00am-7:00pm/Monday-Saturday 10:00am-8:30pm

https://www.saksfifthavenue.com/Entry.jsp

(Great for their public restrooms during business hours)

 

All the buildings and street art that is mentioned in this walk is done by address and street to make it easy to find. Please note the buildings and pocket parks that you should not miss.

 

 

 

 

 

Day One Hundred & Forty-Five: Walking the Avenues of Midtown East Park & Madison Avenues from East 43rd Street to East 59th Streets September 5th, 2019

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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‘A Day in the Big Apple’ by artist Billy

The other is of a colorful face by artist Romero Britto entitled “New York Future”.

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“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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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‘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.

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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Alex Katz’s Park Avenue Mall exhibit “Park Avenue Departure”

Alex Katz is an American artist

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Things to see:

Alex Katz “Park Avenue Departure”

http://www.alexkatz.com/

https://fundforparkavenue.org/pages/sculpture

A little video on Alex Katz’s work

 

Places to Eat:

Hop Won Chinese Noodle Shop

139 East 45th Street

New York, NY  10017

(212) 867-4996

https://hopwonrestaurant.netwaiter.com/

http://www.wohopchinese.com/

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Friday 10:00am-8:45pm/Saturday 11:00am-7:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4760804-Reviews-Hop_Won_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/2019/08/10/hop-won-chinese-noodle-shop-139-east-45th-street-new-york-ny-10017/

My review in MywalkinManhattan.com:

https://mywalkinmanhattan.com/tag/hop-won-chinese-noodle-shop/

 

Day One Hundred and Forty-Three Walking the Borders of Midtown East Manhattan from Lexington Avenue to Fifth Avenue from East 59th Street to East 43rd Street August 9th, 2019

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

 

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‘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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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)

New York, NY

Phone: (212) 661-4280/(212) 867-4996

Fax: (212) 867-0208

Open: Sunday Closed/Monday-Friday 10:00am-8:45pm/Saturday 11:00am-7:30pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4760804-Reviews-Hop_Won_Restaurant-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1214